Largest food facilities must meet preventive rule by Sept. 16
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/08/largest-food-facilities-must-meet-preventive-rule-by-sept-16/#.V6rZlU4eaUl
By Cookson Beecher (Aug 8, 2016)
“It’s a lot to take in — like drinking from a fire hose.”
That’s how Donna Garren, regulatory affairs and technical specialist with the American Frozen Food Institute, describes the challenge that food facilities are grappling with as they move toward the deadline for compliance with the Food and Drug Administration’s preventive controls rule for human food.
Simply put, the rule, which is is part of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, requires registered food facilities that manufacture, process, pack or hold food for human consumption to take these steps:
•Maintain a food-safety plan;
•Analyze where hazards pertaining to food safety exist in their operations; and
•Put preventive controls into place for dealing with those hazards.
Facilities also have to verify and document that their preventive controls are working. Also, according to the rule, the plans must be re-analyzed at least once every three years.
Compliance dates vary according to the size of the company. But for the largest ones, the deadline is Sept. 16. Small and mid-sized companies have until September 2017, and very small companies have until September 2018.
There’s no waffling on this. The FDA clearly spells out when companies must come into compliance.
“It’s the law,” Jim Gorny, vice president of food Safety and technology for the Produce Marketing Association, said during a recent presentation at the Center for Produce Safety’s annual research symposium in Seattle. “It’s on the books.”
The good news — at least in the case of the larger companies — is that many, if not most, of them have already been making changes and are therefore “definitely getting there,” Garren said.
“The majority are in a good place,” she said, explaining that many of them already have food-safety standards in place, which include those of the Global Food Safety Initiative, as well as food safety requirements for the British, French, Italian and German markets.
“It’s a global effort,” she said. “The food and beverage sectors have moved toward certification, which has helped the industry improve.”
The FDA oversees dietary supplements, bottled water, food additives, infant formulas, pet foods, livestock feeds and most other human foods not under the jurisdiction of the USDA, which regulates meat, poultry, dairy, eggs and catfish.
Foreign producers selling to U.S. buyers must also gain certification that they’re complying with the FDA’s preventive controls rule.
“Companies are really committed to this,” Garren said, although she conceded that she’s sure there are some companies that need to know more about it to meet the compliance deadlines.
She urges the small, medium-sized and very small companies to take advantage of the time they still have left.
“The sooner the better,” said Bob Brackett of the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance. “You shouldn’t wait. You should be getting ready, not just thinking about it.”
As for the very small companies, Garren said that county extension agents at land grant universities are going through training to help.
“They can be a good resource,” she said, adding that they can help provide access to pilot plans geared to the needs of the very small companies.
The reason behind the regs
While it’s easy to get mired down in all of the requirements of the preventive controls rule, the underlying reason for the rule — as well as for the other rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act — comes into sharp focus when considering why they were adopted in the first place:
•“The whole purpose is public health,” said Brackett “If everyone’s onboard, we’ll have safer food.”
•“FDA doesn’t make food safe,” said Gorny. “It’s the responsibility of the industry to make food safe. Ultimately, we’ll have an even safer food supply.”
•“It’s about adopting a culture of food safety to produce safe food,” said Garren.
In explaining the need for the rule, FDA points to high-profile outbreaks of foodborne illnesses during the past decade. Statistics show that foodborne illnesses strike an estimated one in six Americans each year. According to the agency, about 128,000 people in the United States are hospitalized, and an estimated 3,000 die each year from foodborne illnesses.
“Requiring preventive measures at facilities that produce human food is an important step in reducing foodborne illness for people,” FDA reports.
In other words, this isn’t just about food manufacturing facilities; it’s about every point along the supply chain, from production plants to restaurant kitchens, preventing foodborne pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and Campylobacter from sickening and sometimes killing people.
The FDA regulates about 80 percent of the U.S. food supply — approximately $602 billion in domestic food and $64 billion in imported food each year.
The preventive controls rule will cover an estimated 97,600 domestic and 109,200 foreign facilities. According to FDA, in 2011, about 50 percent of the fresh fruit consumed in the U.S. was imported.
Although some activities carried out on a farm may classify the farm as a facility, the rule doesn’t pertain to operations that meet the FDA’s definition of a farm.
The Produce Rule, another part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, goes into effect in November 2017. It includes standards for growing, harvesting, packing and holding of produce for human consumption. For the most part, it covers produce that will be eaten raw.
What if facilities miss the deadline?
To begin with, although the compliance date for the larger facilities is set for Sept. 16, Gorny said that the FDA still needs to train inspectors, which he describes as “a heaping huge job.” He doesn’t think they’ll start doing inspections until some time in January.
When they do begin, the inspectors will show up without notice. Here are some of the things Gorny said could happen:
•If a facility is not in compliance, the FDA can issue a warning letter of violations and list the changes that need to be made. Once the changes are made, the FDA will reinspect.
•The agency can ask the facility to recall a product, or products, voluntarily.
•The agency can mandate a recall.
•The agency can withdraw a facility’s registration.
•The agency can go to court and seek a permanent injunction.
“The rule describes what sanitation standards are required,” Gorny said. “Before the Food Safety Modernization Act, they were left open to interpretation. Now they’re very structured. The rule lines it out to a greater degree.”
Bottomline, it’s all about preventing foodborne illnesses instead of reacting to them, as was the case before the Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law.
All facilities covered under the preventive controls rule must have a written food-safety plan, which includes an analysis of hazards and risk-based preventive controls.
The first step is identifying where hazards pertaining to food safety exist in the facility. From there, controls to prevent the hazards must be put into place, including having an established recall procedure. The written plan must show how the preventive controls are monitored and managed to make sure they’re effective and to correct problems that may arise.
Then there’s verification and validation. Simply put, validation means your preventive controls are working, and verification means that the controls are being implemented effectively.
All of this requires documentation. There’s a lot of record keeping to be done.
“You need to get your records in line and have them organized and ready for the FDA inspectors,” said Brackett.
What about the human element?
Some of the agency’s previously “non-binding” provisions, such as education and training, are now binding. For example, management must ensure that all employees who manufacture, process, pack or hold food are qualified to perform their assigned duties. That means, they must have the necessary education, training and/or experience.
They must also receive training in the principles of food hygiene and food safety, including the importance of employee health and hygiene. Managers and owners will be held accountable for employee training.
Under the preventive controls rule, a company must hire someone, or train an existing employee, to make sure the company is implementing the requirements. The larger companies usually have someone onboard to do this, but many small and mid-sized companies don’t.
In addition, a company will have to prove to the FDA that the person tasked with this has been properly trained to do the job.
“The biggest frustration with this is that it takes a trained person monitoring everything and doing the record keeping,” said Skagit County, WA, berry processor Mike Youngquist. He recently sold his processing equipment to a nearby farm. “You almost need a trained college person, and that’s all they do. For a seasonal packer, that can be difficult.”
And while Youngquist said he believes food safety is of paramount importance, he said he can’t help but think there’s some “overkill” in the rules.
Brackett said that while many of the larger companies have the necessary resources when it comes to having a trained food safety worker on site, the small and mid-sized companies generally don’t.
“For them, the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance is their resource,” he said.
FSPCA specifically designed to help with FSMA
The Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA) was created in 2011 by the FDA in cooperation with the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute for Food Safety and Health. The FSPCA was established to help industry —particularly small and medium-sized companies — comply with the new preventive controls rule as mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Members of the alliance are from the FDA, state regulatory agencies, the food industry, and academia.
The alliance offers a two-day training seminar that will earn those who successfully complete it a certificate as a “preventive controls qualified individual.”
The alliance also has a technical assistance network site, to provide answers to technical questions. People can also ask others in the network for tips about what they’re doing pertaining to specific questions, for example how they store their petri dishes. The discussions can be private or public.
Brackett said this feature is “like a social network.”
Food safety worksheets are also available from the alliance.
“All of this is designed to help small and mid-sized companies, especially, comply with the rule,” Brackett said.
To date, the alliance has issued 11,000 certificates of qualification to individuals from both large and small companies, 10 percent of which are international. It has also issued 800 certificates for lead instructors.
The missing pieces
Ironically, FDA has not yet released the guidance documents that companies can use to help them evaluate whether or not they’re in compliance with the preventive controls rule.
“These guidance documents, especially the one on ‘hazards,’ will be critical,” said Garren. “We wanted them yesterday. We’re hoping to see some of them in the early fall, but we have no confirmation of that yet.”
“The uncertainty over this is breeding fear,” said Gorny. “People are wondering what more they need to do and how much it will cost.”
In addition to the guidance documents on hazard analysis and preventive controls, there are documents on environmental monitoring, food allergen controls, validation of process controls, and a small-entity compliance guide that explains the actions a small or very small business must take to comply with the rule.
Megan Bensette, FDA spokesperson, said the development of guidance related to the human food preventive controls requirements takes time because the requirements apply broadly across the food industry and because the guidance requires input from many subject matter experts.
The agency will issue notices in the Federal Register and make announcements through its “Constituent Updates” of availability of draft guidance documents when they are posted for comment.
As for nailing down exactly when the documents will be available, Bensette could only say: “We are working expeditiously on the guidance, but unfortunately I’m unable to give a timeframe.”
Food safety attorney Bill Marler said that under the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, a misdemeanor conviction — unlike a felony conviction —does not require proof of fraudulent intent, or even of knowing or willful conduct.
Rather, people can be convicted if they held a position of responsibility or authority in a firm that would have allowed them to prevent a violation.
Convictions under the misdemeanor provisions are punishable by not more than one year in prison and/or fines up to $250,000 per count.
As for the “heavier stuff” — punitive damages and criminal liability — Marler said it comes down to this question: Did you act with conscious disregard of a known safety risk? Prison time and hefty fines, not to mention steep payments to victims and the closing of a business, can come into play when the answer to that question is yes.
Editor’s note: Food safety attorney Bill Marler is publisher of Food Safety News and a founding member of the Marler Clark law firm in Seattle.
FDA issues warnings to seafood, beef and vegetable facilities
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/08/fda-issues-warnings-to-seafood-beef-and-vegetable-facilities/#.V6raH04eaUl
By News Desk (Aug 8, 2016)
The most recently posted warning letters from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration went to a seafood exporter in Indonesia, a beef operation in Missouri, an acidified foods manufacturer in Virginia, a vegetable processor in Washington state, and a California firm with a contracted seafood storage warehouse in Colorado.
PT Tritunggal Lintas Benua in Jakarta, Indonesia, was told in a July 26 warning letter that its submitted Hazard Analysis and Critical control Point (HACCP) plan for its tuna exporting operation does not meet the requirements of U.S. seafood HACCP regulations.
“Accordingly, your fish products covered by your HACCP plan entitled ‘Frozen Tuna Product’ that includes yellowfin tuna loin, saku, steak, and cubes are adulterated, in that they have been prepared, packed, or held under conditions whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health,” the letter stated.
FDA detailed “serious deviations” from federal regulations in the company’s HACCP plan, including not listing the food safety hazard of Clostridium botulinum growth and toxin formation.
Other concerns cited in the warning letter were not listing the critical control points of raw material storage, in-process storage and unrefrigerated processing for controlling the food safety hazard of scombrotoxin, or histamine, formation.
FDA sent a July 19 warning letter to Mark Northcutt notifying him of violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act found during an investigation of his beef cow-calf operation in Laddonia, MO.
A cow sold for slaughter as food on or about March 21 was found to have 0.744 parts per million of penicillin in tissue samples. “FDA has established a tolerance of 0.05 ppm for residues of Penicillin in the edible tissues of cattle …,” the letter stated.
Oliverio’s Italian Style Peppers Inc. was sent a warning letter on July 19 noting “serious deviations” from the acidified foods regulations found during a March inspection of the company’s manufacturing facility in Clarksburg, WV.
The letter stated that the deviations included failure to file a scheduled process with the agency for “Medium Hot Peppers & Onions With Tomato Sauce” and listing vinegar as an ingredient in several products when “vinegar was not used during the manufacture of these products and instead the tomato ingredients are the acidifying agent” in the products.
FDA also mentioned misbranding problems such as nutrition information not listed in an appropriate format, along with serving size problems and failure to list certain ingredients, such as sugar, on the label while listing others, such as vinegar and olive oil, which were not added during product manufacturing.
The agency concluded that the company’s reply on March 21 lacked sufficient corrective actions regarding both the processing and the labeling.
“Your firm’s response states that you will work with your process authority to correct these violations; however, at this time, we have not received any updated scheduled process submissions from your firm,” the warning letter said.
A warning letter went out July 15 to Oregon Potato Co., doing business as Freeze Pack, detailing numerous problems FDA found during a March 8-11 inspection of the company’s vegetable processing facility in Pasco, WA.
These problems included Listeria bacteria found at several places in the plant, plus a number of Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) violations.
Food Safety News posted a separate story on Aug. 4 about the FDA warning letter to Oregon Potato Company.
On July 13, FDA sent a warning letter to DPI Specialty Foods Inc. of Ontario, CA, to notify the company of seafood HACCP problems identified March 29 at the company’s contracted warehouse facility in Henderson, CO. The agency noted that a warehouse used for storing food products is considered a “processor” under federal seafood HACCP regulations.
Barring an adequate seafood HACCP plan, “your raw Herring in Sour Cream and Herring Party Sampler are adulterated, in that they have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health,” the warning letter stated.
FDA’s warning stated that deviations found during the agency’s inspection include not listing for refrigerated seafood the critical control points of receiving, storage, and shipping for controlling the food safety hazard of scombrotoxin, or histamine.
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.
USP launches new Food Fraud Database to support increased FDA food safety regulations
Source : http://www.newfoodmagazine.com/26088/news/industry-news/food-fraud-safety-usp-fda/
By Roy Manuell (Aug 5, 2016)
The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) has launched today the next generation of its Food Fraud Database (FFD 2.0) to help food manufacturers and retailers make informed decisions about ingredients in their portfolio that may have a greater potential of being adulterated. The goal is to provide brand protection, increase consumer trust and support new food safety regulations recently finalised by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Food fraud, also referred to as economically-motivated adulteration (EMA), is a global economic and public health problem, costing industry an estimated 10 to 15 billion dollars annually and affecting as much as 10% of the global food supply.
Todd Abraham of Mondel?z International and a member of USP’s Board of Trustees notes:
“Consumers today are more educated than ever, and manufacturers risk doing irreparable damage to their brands as a result of food fraud. The Food Fraud Database 2.0 provides food manufacturers with the ability to look at past incidents of fraud and take proactive steps to protect their supply chains – thus protecting their reputation and ensuring consumer confidence in their products.”
Another advantage of USP’s FFD 2.0 is in supporting compliance with new regulatory requirements from the FDA related to food safety. The Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA) requires food manufacturers and retailers to identify and analyse potential hazards including those resulting from EMA as part of their food safety plans. The FFD 2.0 provides hazards reports on specific adulterants, making it easier for manufacturers and retailers to quickly identify ingredients with a known history of adulteration with potentially hazardous substances. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), an industry-driven initiative providing guidance on food safety management systems, has similar requirements to conduct food fraud vulnerability assessments and develop control plans.
Jeffrey Moore, Ph.D., science director for the food program at USP describes the process:
“Substances used to adulterate food can include industrial dyes, plasticisers, allergens, or other substances not intended to be consumed by people. Smart mitigation of risks starts with reliable data, and the Food Fraud Database 2.0 is a first good step towards assessing the hazards potentially present in specific food supply chains.”
This update of the database – considered the largest collection of food fraud records in the world –includes not only thousands of ingredients and related adulterants, but also incident reports, surveillance records and analytical methods gathered from scientific literature, media publications, regulatory records, judicial records and trade associations around the world. New features in FFD 2.0 allow users to identify historical trends and vulnerabilities through a customisable dashboard, which can include automatic alerts of new records of food fraud and automated analytics for ingredients of interest.
Jonathan W. DeVries, Ph.D., Chair of USP’s Expert Committee on Food Ingredients states:
“With data informed by scientists and food fraud experts from academia, industry and regulatory agencies, the new database offers even better coverage of the historical information on instances of food fraud.”
USP’s Expert Committees are responsible for developing and revising USP’s quality standards and related tools, drawing upon the combined experience and expertise of their individual members. Dr. DeVries further adds:
“The best way to increase your chances of preventing the next food fraud incident in your supply chain is to make use of the database and other tools USP’s Expert Committee has worked on to fight food fraud in a more holistic approach. These resources together offer manufacturers and retailers an arsenal of tools to protect their brand, comply with the regulations and increase public confidence.”
US food safety campaigners outraged over GMO label law
Source : http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/08/food-safety-campaigners-outraged-gmo-label-law-160803165544791.html
By Ryan Rifai (Aug 4, 2016)
Campaigners say new law allows producers to obscure GMO content on food packaging
Food safety organisations in the US have condemned a new law they say will allow food producers to obscure the labeling of genetically modified ingredients in their products, despite widespread health concerns over the effects of GMOs and the pesticides associated with them.
Signed into law on Friday by President Barack Obama, the legislation permits manufacturers to inform consumers of GMO content through the use of Quick Response or QR codes, which require a device - such as a smartphone - to read.
The law was passed despite opposition from environmental and food safety groups, as well as national polls which show that some 90 percent of Americans surveyed favoured clear labeling.
Davin Hutchins, a senior campaigner for Greenpeace International's Food For Life Campaign, said that many people, particularly low-income households and the elderly, don't have the necessary technology or possess the know-how to easily read QR codes.
That makes the "new law discriminatory in nature," Hutchins told Al Jazeera.
Hutchins also said there is a crucial lack of detail in the new law, which critics are calling the "DARK Act" - short for "Denying Americans the Right to Know".
"Unfortunately, the new law does not adequately use a broad definition of genetic modification; the law refers to foods that are "bioengineered", which doesn't include all forms of genetic modification," he said.
"Furthermore, the USDA [Department of Agriculture] will have the ultimate authority to decide what foods to include and which to exempt, even though the majority of corn, sugar beets, and soybeans are genetically modified varieties in the United States."
Katherine Paul, an associate director of the Organic Consumers Association - one of the country's leading food safety organisations - told Al Jazeera that the new law violates consumer rights as all citizens have the right to know and choose what they are purchasing.
Certainty for farmers
Monsanto, a leading producer of genetically engineered seeds and one of the main companies that supported the law, said that it believes the legislation provides sufficient information to consumers and "certainty for farmers".
"We recognize the importance of finding common ground and collaborating for the coexistence of all types of farming practices," Monsanto's CEO Hugh Grant said in a statement sent to Al Jazeera.
"As the planet gets warmer and drier, it’s critically important that farmers have access to all agricultural solutions to nourish our growing world and that consumers have choices and access to a healthy, balanced plate.
“Monsanto believes this agreement provides certainty for farmers, consumers and anyone involved in how food is produced, marketed and sold."
Asked to comment on concerns the law violates consumer rights by not providing clear GMO labels, the Department of Agriculture said: "We are committed to providing multiple opportunities for engagement, and will have more information about this very soon."
For Paul and Hutchins, the main issue with GMO crops are the many "harmful" pesticides and herbicides used in their cultivation.
Already around 80 percent of processed foods in the US contain GMOs.
"The verdict on whether GMOs are harmful to human health is still out," Hutchins said.
"But there are other considerations: First, genetically modified monocultures like corn and soy are modified primarily to be paired with herbicides like Monsanto's RoundUp. The active ingredient in RoundUp is glyphosate, which was classified as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)," Hutchins said.
Paul said that more than 300 food and pesticide makers spent nearly $400m over the last four years in lobbying efforts to defeat the mandatory labeling of GMOs.
"We failed not because of lack of support from consumers - but because of the enormous amounts of money thrown by the industry," Paul said, adding that she was disappointed by Obama, who once vowed to enforce clear GMO labeling.
"Our best hope to get it done through the system was Obama and he just let us down," she said.
"The next step is to increase education around GMO labeling ... We have to boycott the companies that backed the legislation and support those that opposed it."
The Organic Consumers Association, which has long lobbied for clear GMO labeling, has created an app that lists companies it says people should avoid due to their support for the new legislation.
The app, titled Buycott, also lists companies that were in favour of clear GMO labelling.
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FDA finds Listeria throughout onion processing plant in WA
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/08/listeria-found-throughout-washington-onion-processing-plant/#.V6rbG04eaUl
By Cathy Siegner (Aug 4, 2016)
Inspectors from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently found Listeria monocytogenes in an onion processing facility in Washington state where some wholesale vegetable products, recalled in April, may be linked to several illnesses.
The Oregon Potato Co., doing business as Freeze Pack, was told in a July 15 warning letter from FDA’s Seattle District Office that, following a March inspection of its processing plant in Pasco, WA, a number of environmental swabs taken there tested positive for the pathogen.
FDA’s laboratory analysis of samples collected March 8 and 9 confirmed that 19 out 106 environmental swabs tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.
The warning letter noted that seven positive environmental swabs were collected from direct food contact surfaces in the plant’s processing and packaging rooms during the production of individually quick frozen (IQF) diced onions. Those direct food contact surface areas included:
•The chiller water and the interior north wall of the water chiller. Water from this chiller is not treated and is recirculated back to the blancher/chiller and used directly on blanched diced onions as a coolant;
•A white nylon strip in the tunnel discharge chute between the IQF freezer and the finished product packaging room. Blanched, finished onions are conveyed and come into direct contact with the nylon strip; and,
•The metal arm on the chain conveyor belt between the IQF freezer and packaging room where blanched, finished product is conveyed directly on this conveying system and comes into contact with the metal arm.
The remaining 12 positive environmental swabs were collected from locations in the plant’s processing room and the packaging room in areas adjacent to food contact surfaces and non-direct food contact surfaces, FDA stated.
The 19 environmental samples were also analyzed using whole genome sequencing (WGS), which FDA noted can establish direct links between clinical isolates from sick people and food or environmental sources. The analysis found links between the isolates from the production plant and sick people, the agency stated.
“The WGS phylogenetic analysis establishes that there are at least two different strains of L. monocytogenes present in the facility, with one strain containing 17 isolates and the second strain containing two isolates,” FDA stated.
“Specifically, the WGS analysis of the strain with 17 isolates showed that the isolates are identical to each other. WGS analysis of the strain with two isolates showed that the isolates are identical to eight cases of human illness dating back to 2013, and to six isolates from finished products. These finished products included onions, with two isolates in 2014, and green beans with three isolates in 2015, tested by a third party laboratory, and a single isolate from white sweet corn collected and tested by the state of Ohio in 2016. Additional investigation established that at least six individuals were hospitalized as a result of related L. monocytogenes associated illness,” according to the warning letter.
Violations of Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) regulations were also observed at the facility, FDA told the company. These problems included accumulated food debris and grime on some food contact surfaces, insufficient measures to keep drip or condensate from contaminating food or food contact surfaces or food packaging materials, and inadequate ventilation or control equipment to minimize vapors — including steam — from contaminating food items.
Oregon Potato Co. contacted FDA after receiving the warning letter and detailed corrective actions it was taking. The company also ceased production in order to clean and sanitize all surfaces in the facility, FDA noted, and submitted environmental testing samples taken alongside those taken by the agency, which were negative for Listeria.
However, FDA responded that it was unable to evaluate the adequacy of the measures to be taken without further information and that there was no timeline submitted for completion or for resuming operations.
As for the negative Listeria results the company submitted, FDA questioned the firm’s sample testing.
“Given that FDA’s sampling revealed 19 environmental swabs that tested positive for L. monocytogenes, we are concerned with the adequacy of your sampling program. Your response included the general protocol reference guide for the method utilized by your laboratory. However, your firm did not provide detailed documents on the actual laboratory method that was performed to provide a comprehensive review of this issue,” the warning letter stated.
The letter also mentioned the company’s recalled frozen vegetables:
“FDA acknowledges that your firm conducted a voluntary recall and considers the following IQF and fresh onion products, manufactured from March 8, 2016, to April 8, 2016, that your firm recalled beginning on April 6, 2016, to have posed an acute, life-threatening hazard to health: IQF 1/4″ Yellow Onion Dice- Frozen; IQF 3/8″ Yellow Onion Strip; IQF 3/8″ Unblanched Yellow Onion Dice- Frozen; IQF 3/4″ Yellow Onion Dice- Frozen; IQF 1/4″ Frozen White Onion Dice; Fresh 3/8″ White Onion Dice; Fresh 3/8″ White Onion Strip; IQF 1/4 x 1/4 Yellow Onion Dice; and IQF 3/8″ Yellow Onion Dice.”
The Oregon Potato Co. recall led to numerous secondary recalls of frozen vegetables by other companies and brands, including Reser’s Fine Foods, Pictsweet and Schnucks. It is associated with a large recall of frozen vegetables initiated by CRF Frozen Foods Inc.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, consumption of the recalled vegetable products was linked to nine cases of listeriosis reported from four states between September 2013 and May of this year. CDC officially declared that outbreak over on July 15.
According to its website, Oregon Potato Co. is a private grower and processor of vegetables, operates in Oregon and Idaho as well as Washington state, and processes and roasts IQF potatoes, carrots, corn, onions, beans, peas, root vegetables, asparagus, squash, zucchini, peppers, and some fruit, including apples, cherries, blueberries and pineapple.
AFIA offers food safety webinar series
Source : http://www.world-grain.com/articles/news_home/World_Grain_News/2016/08/AFIA_offers_food_safety_webina.aspx?ID=%7B93C07D30-C738-47F0-AE36-B5B11752B930%7D&cck=1
By Holly Demaree (Aug 4, 2016)
In order to continue its mission in educating the feed industry on the implementation requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) along with Feedstuffs, announced on Aug. 3, its latest training options. AFIA will host a series of four, free webinars that focus on the rule spanning from late August through September.
"This rule is massive, there's much to comprehend and limited time remaining to do so," said Richard Sellers, senior vice-president of public policy and education at AFIA. "We have divided the webinar series into four parts to cover the most amount of material, with time for questions, in an efficient manner, and are very grateful to those members who offered to sponsor these webinars."
Each webinar will last two-and-a-half hours. The first three webinars will build upon each other, the fourth will focus on topics related to pet food and pet food ingredients. Speakers for the webinars include AFIA staff experts and officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The webinar topics, dates and times are as follows:
• Overview of FSMA, current good manufacturing practices and recall plan: Aug. 30, 2-4:30 p.m.
• Animal food safety plan, supply-chain program: Sept. 6, 2-4:30 p.m.
• Records, foreign supplier verification program, third-party certification and transportation rule: Sept. 20, 2-4:30 p.m.
• Pet food: Sept. 27, 2-4:30 p.m.
Food Safety Testing Market Worth 17.16 Billion USD by 2021
Source : http://www.marketwatch.com/story/food-safety-testing-market-worth-1716-billion-usd-by-2021-2016-08-04-122033117
By (Aug 4, 2016)
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The market is driven by factors such as global increase in outbreaks of foodborne illnesses and implementation of stringent food safety regulations. The high growth potential in emerging markets and untapped regions provide new opportunities for market players.
Pathogens segment to dominate among contaminants between 2016 and 2021
In 2015, among the contaminants of food, testing for pathogens dominated, with Salmonella accounting for the largest share in the Food Safety Testing Market. Many food product recalls by FDA have been recently registered in the U.S. and other countries, especially due to Salmonella contamination. Increasing food contamination and outbreaks of STEC poisoning have resulted in increasing the frequency of Campylobacter and E. coli testing across the world. Laboratories have been adopting rapid testing technologies to obtain faster results in response to the demand from the food manufacturers. The rising concerns regarding health issues due to contaminants are expected to drive its testing services market.
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Rapid technology segment is projected to lead the market through 2021
The rapid technology segment is projected to grow at the highest CAGR from 2016 to 2021. The Food Safety Testing Market is driven by the advancement of testing technologies and the increase in demand for advanced and rapid technology systems. The importance of this technology is increasing due to its quick, accurate, efficient, and easy-to-use characteristics. The stakeholders demand new and emerging technologies for analytical testing and ensure certification denoting the high quality of their products. This has been driving the market for rapid technologies in food safety testing.
Significant growth for food safety testing is observed in the Asia-Pacific region
Asia-Pacific is projected to be the fastest-growing region in the Food Safety Testing Market. Infrastructure development such as sustainable transformation of the food safety testing policies, and various rules and regulations implemented by different countries in the region are estimated to drive the growth of the Food Safety Testing Market in this region. Moreover, Japan has shown tremendous efforts towards growth of food safety testing by implementing stringent regulations. The Japanese food safety testing laboratories have been constantly registering patents for developing technologies to detect contaminants. The Southeast Asian Food Safety Testing Market has shown a tremendous growth opportunity. This has impacted the demand for food safety testing in the country.
This report includes a study of marketing and development strategies, along with the product portfolio of leading companies. It includes the profiles of leading companies such Eurofins Scientific SE (Luxembourg), Silliker Inc. (U.S.), SGS S.A. (Switzerland), Bureau Veritas S.A. (France), and Intertek Group Plc (U.K.).
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'Ag Water' App Assists Growers on Food Safety Issues
Source : https://uanews.arizona.edu/story/ag-water-app-assists-growers-food-safety-issues
By uanews.arizona.edu (Aug 3, 2016)
Funded by the California-based Center for Produce Safety, Ag Water is the first app of its kind, designed by University of Arizona researchers and their partners to help growers meet nationwide mandates for product safety.
Created in collaboration between research faculty and staff at the UA and University of California, Davis, in partnership with UA Mobile Matters, the app can be used on any mobile device that receives a Wi-Fi connection. That includes mobile phones, tablet devices, laptops and desktops, and it is currently available for download in iTunes and Google Play stores.
In December 2015, the Food and Drug Administration released the final version of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which includes information on the modified Produce Safety Rule, or PSR. The rule is a set of national regulations that growers must follow to maintain compliance with water quality, soil and other agricultural and produce-related food safety concerns.
The water-quality portion of the rule requires that growers test their water sources regularly and make complex calculations for geomean and statistical threshold value to determine whether a water source is safe from a public health standpoint to use on produce.
"This task can be mundane and time-consuming for the busy farmer, so the research and development team designed the Ag Water app as a tool that growers can use to input lab values from sampled water and simply click 'calculate' to determine if they are compliant with the Food Safety Modernization Act PSR," said Dametreea Carr, assistant health educator in the UA Cooperative Extension Water Quality Program at the Maricopa Agricultural Center.
Carr, also a graduate student in public health, directed the design of the app with stakeholders in mind. Channah Rock, water quality specialist and professor in the UA Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is the principal investigator on the project.
In addition to a simple, yes-or-no response, the app also offers advice stating how many days of bacterial die-off are needed before a water source can be used or retested.
One of the main features is that Ag Water has the ability to predict the quality of a water source in real time. To accomplish this, the app utilizes location, historical water quality data, and weather information from the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' Arizona Meteorological Network, or AZMET, stations in Yuma, Arizona, and across the state that are then fed into a quantitative microbial risk assessment model developed by UA faculty.
For the most accurate results, the app even allows users to input physical parameters (such as water temperature, electrical conductivity and dissolved oxygen) that can be used to strengthen the confidence of the final water quality prediction.
The geomean and statistical threshold value calculator functions of Ag Water have been designed for national use and will meet a need within the agriculture industry.
"Ag Water fills a critical need for growers by providing a tool that they can use to make informed decisions about their water resources that ultimately support food safety and protect public health," Rock said. "As faculty within Cooperative Extension, our programs strive to use scientific-based research to support stakeholder needs where traditional research stops. This app fills that gap and is just one example of the critical work that we do to support our clientele."
Ag Water is user-friendly, including step-by-step instructions if needed and allowing users to save or delete information as they see fit. Each user profile is private, and no information is ever collected for use by those other than the registered user.
The app was unveiled at the Center for Produce Safety 2016 Research Symposium in June, aimed to provide and share ready-to-use, science-based solutions to prevent or minimize produce safety vulnerabilities.
"Ag Water was designed for the agriculture industry and has received overwhelmingly positive responses from stakeholders during test-play at agriculture conferences, meetings and workshops across the nation," Carr said.
"I do have to say it has helped us out a lot," said Kaley Grimland-Mendoza, enterprise development specialist with ALBA Organics in Salinas, California. "In fact, on a new food-safety audit we had, it helped us to provide correct information to the auditor. He was looking for a water risk baseline, based on historic water quality data that takes into account the crop, crop stage and irrigation method."
Jacqueline Gordon Nunez, director of education for the Washington State Fruit Tree Association, said the app "will be incredibly important for the Pacific Northwest tree fruit growers by helping them develop their individual Microbial Water Quality Profile. It will also help growers understand how their results compare to the criteria for agricultural water quality outlined in the Produce Safety Rule.
"In addition, the app will also determine if a delay interval after watering is needed," Nunez said, "and will automatically calculate the required interval before harvest. This is critical information for the growers, and greatly simplifies compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act requirements."
Food safety: wash, separate, heat, chill
Source : http://www.reflector.com/Look/2016/08/03/Food-safety-wash-separate-heat-chill.html
By Kathy Kolasa (Aug 3, 2016)
A shout-out to National Farmers Market Week, Aug. 8-13. Farmers markets come in all shapes, sizes, colors, smells and activities. Some like our local market still have lots of bargains on local fruits and vegetables. Near big cities you find trendy markets but not always bargain-priced goods that are fun to try. I try to visit farmers markets wherever I go. Support our farmers this and every week!
Q It seems like summertime is the season for food poisoning. How can I make sure my upcoming picnics and cookouts are safe for my guests and myself? — L.J.C., Greenville
A Although we commonly use the term food poisoning, the “official” term is food-borne illness. But regardless of what you call it, I am delighted you are concerned about keeping food safe to eat. I asked Larisa Garkusha, a fourth-year Brody medical student, to share some ideas with you:
Summer is here, and with it comes picnics, cookouts, barbecues, camping and other outdoor celebrations. Many of these activities are centered around delicious food. Unfortunately, for many this summer, the fun in the sun will come to a screeching halt with an ominous gurgling in their belly, followed by hours of abdominal pain and cramping, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
Food-borne illness affects 1 in 6 Americans each year and results in 125,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. The majority of cases of food-borne illness are caused by bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella, campylobacter and staphylococcus. The incidence of food poisoning drastically increases during the summer months.
So what is it about the summer that makes the rate of food poisoning shoot up so much compared to other seasons? It is the combination of extreme heat, along with our fondness for cooking, eating and celebrating outdoors in the sunshine. But don’t cancel your upcoming cookout yet! You can greatly reduce your chances of a food-borne illness by following some simple, but not so obvious, steps when preparing and serving food outdoors.
Remember these four words to ensure you are keeping you and your guests as safe as possible: wash, separate, heat and chill.
WASH. Always wash your hands before beginning to prepare food and between handling raw meat and other food items. If you are preparing food away from running water, wipe any meat residue off your hands with a disposable wipe or paper towel and then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Wait for hand sanitizer to dry (about 30 seconds to 1 minute) before handling other food. Wash all produce prior to chopping and take care to designate knives and utensils for either raw meat, cooked meat or other. Never use utensils that have had contact with raw meats on other foods that are ready for consumption.
SEPARATE. When packing food for transport to your destination, be sure to think about what foods you are keeping together. Pack raw meats in separate containers and keep these items away from foods like salads and vegetable trays you are planning to serve raw.
HEAT. When cooking meat, make sure you are heating it to the proper temperature to ensure that it is safe for you and your guests to eat. A meat thermometer is relatively inexpensive and worth the price to take the guesswork out of grilling meat outdoors. Be sure to put the thermometer probe in the center of the thickest piece of meat. This ensures that the every piece of meat will be safe to eat. Burgers need to be at least 160 degrees, turkey or chicken 165 degrees and steaks 145 degrees.
CHILL. Keeping food items cold enough is just as important as making sure meats are heated to adequate temperature. Many side dishes such as deviled eggs, chicken or tuna salad and pasta or potato salads should be packed in a cooler with ice for transport and when serving, the serving dish should be nested in a larger container of ice. Prepared meat dishes, fruit and other prepared dishes should also be chilled when they are not being consumed. No foods should be kept at or above room temperature for more than two hours. If it is above 90 degrees outside, no food item should remain out of a cooler for more than one hour.
Even with care, a food-borne illness can occur. Call your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of fever (in a child over 100.4 degrees, or in an adult over 101 degrees), nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or diarrhea (lasting more than two days in a child), and/or blood in stools or vomit. Rest and drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated when experiencing an illness with vomiting and/or diarrhea.
Professor emeritus Kathy Kolasa, a registered dietitian nutritionist and Ph.D., is an Affiliate Professor in the Brody School of Medicine at ECU. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Federal Initiatives Target Food Industry Facilities for Inspection and Enforcement
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/new-federal-initiatives-target-food-industry-facilities-for-inspection-and-enforcement/
By Tom Boer, Esq., and Sam Brown, Esq. (Aug 2, 2016)
Recent federal environmental initiatives mean that the food industry will see an increase in inspections, new regulations for those sectors of the industry that rely on large quantities of hazardous substances—such as ammonia for refrigeration or chlorine for food processing—in their operations, an uptick in expected enforcement actions and increased crossover between investigations conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). As a result, industry should act proactively to assess environmental compliance at their facilities and reduce the risk of enforcement by the government.
Food Industry in the Crosshairs under New EPA Enforcement Initiatives
EPA selects enforcement initiatives based upon its identification of “national environmental problems where there is significant noncompliance with laws, and where federal enforcement efforts can make a difference.” For the first time in 5 years, EPA selected new National Enforcement Initiatives that will direct EPA resources beginning in October 2016. EPA has announced seven enforcement initiatives, including two new initiatives and the continued pursuit of five of its prior initiatives. Three of EPA’s initiatives—including both of its new initiatives—are expected to target facilities in the food industry.
For the first new initiative, EPA has announced that it will focus enforcement priority on certain industries—including food processing—to reduce the unauthorized discharges of industrial wastewater. This initiative will target facilities that discharge wastewater directly to waters of the United States and are permitted pursuant to the Clean Water Act’s (CWA) National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and those facilities discharging to publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). EPA has said it will focus on a national approach to enforcement, particularly focusing on companies that operate in more than one state.
EPA will target wastewater enforcement by increasingly using electronic water pollution data. For example, EPA’s recent NPDES Electronic Reporting rule mandates electronic compliance monitoring reporting to provide regulators with a timelier and nationally consistent set of data about industrial wastewater discharges. EPA has also directed states to provide EPA with electronic copies of inspection reports, violation determinations and Discharge Monitoring Reports by December 21, 2016. Access to large volumes of electronic information will allow EPA to review more data from multiple facilities and across multiple jurisdictions.
EPA, via its second initiative, will increase efforts to prevent catastrophic accidents and explosions that threaten employees and emergency responders, and release chemicals that threaten human health and the environment in neighboring communities. This initiative is particularly relevant to food facilities with large ammonia refrigeration systems. In fact, in early 2015, EPA issued an enforcement alert to facilities with ammonia refrigeration systems that warned of increasing risk of inspection and enforcement. As expected, inspection of large ammonia refrigeration systems has increased over the past 12 months and, in some states, EPA has set a goal of inspecting every facility with an ammonia system.
This initiative, however, is not limited to ammonia refrigeration systems. Any facility using large quantities of potentially hazardous substances will be subject to increased risk of inspection. This initiative extends to a number of other food-related operations, including, for example, facilities using chlorine as a bleaching agent for flour production. EPA will target the prevention of accidents by increasing inspections to ensure that facilities are conducting required training, maintaining equipment and otherwise meeting the requirements of the Clean Air Act Section 112 Risk Management Plan (RMP) Program. EPA has announced that it will particularly focus on facilities located in low-income and minority communities.
Finally, EPA will continue to target concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that the agency believes may impair natural resources or adversely impact communities. EPA has indicated that it will implement new tools to identify potential violations from CAFOs, including the use of instream monitoring systems to trace waste discharges. Where enforcement actions are brought, EPA has said that it may require the use of new nutrient recovery technologies as part of settlements.
EPA May Impose Additional Regulation on Facilities via Revision of Its Risk Management Program
Dovetailing with its RMP enforcement initiative, EPA recently proposed significant changes to the accident prevention, emergency response and hazard information requirements imposed under the RMP Program. If adopted, these changes could increase the burden on regulated facilities. For example, the proposal would require regulated facilities to conduct root-cause analysis in the event of any “near-miss” release of hazardous substances such as ammonia or chlorine. The proposal would also require retention of outside “independent” consultants to conduct investigations and audits and would not allow facilities to use those same consultants routinely or to implement any required corrections. In addition, “nonresponding” facilities (i.e., those that currently rely upon local agencies to respond to accidental releases) would face additional requirements and, in some circumstances, be required to develop their own emergency response system. The cost to design, construct and operate an emergency response system would be a significant burden for companies. It is expected that EPA will try to finalize the proposed RMP requirements by the end of the year.
Department of Justice Worker Endangerment Initiative
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has concluded that companies suspected of mistreating employees are more likely to be out of compliance with environmental regulations. As a result, in late 2015, DOJ announced a new policy of coordination with OSHA to jointly pursue worker safety and environmental cases. In support of this effort, DOJ transferred authority to pursue worker safety cases to the Environmental Crimes Section. At a recent conference, John Cruden—the assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division—explained that DOJ environmental prosecutors will “work with several Department of Labor offices, including [OSHA] to investigate and prosecute worker endangerment violations.” Worker safety violations are now more likely to be accompanied by an assessment of environmental compliance and result in joint enforcement actions by DOJ.
EPA Seeks Substantial Penalties for Environmental Violations at Facilities in the Food Sector
Three recent cases—all settled in the last 6 months—illustrate the magnitude of penalties and injunctive relief being sought in federal enforcement actions targeting the food industry.
EPA recently resolved an enforcement action against a sugar beet processing facility for alleged violations of its NPDES permit. EPA alleged that the facility discharged 28 million gallons of wastewater in violation of permit conditions over the course of a year. The settlement required the facility to pay a $1 million civil penalty and undertake approximately $5 million in injunctive relief to prevent future violations. These types of enforcement actions, targeting NPDES permit violations, are likely to increase under EPA’s new enforcement initiative and as EPA is able to analyze large volumes of data via the increased collection of electronic information.
EPA is also focusing on facilities that may not have an NPDES permit, but indirectly discharge wastewater through the sanitary sewer system for treatment by POTWs. The CWA pretreatment program is not an area that has been pursued aggressively by EPA in the past and, as a result, some companies may be caught off guard by the increased scrutiny and enforcement. The penalties for violations of industrial discharge requirements, however, can be substantial. For example, EPA recently settled claims against a large Pennsylvania brewer involving multiple alleged violations of pretreatment requirements at two facilities. In addition to a civil penalty of $2.8 million, the settlement required the company to conduct environmental audits, construct a new biological treatment system and take other compliance steps at an anticipated cost of about $7 million.
Even violations that many companies might consider to be “paperwork” in nature can result in substantial penalties. For example, EPA recently brought an enforcement action for alleged RMP violations against a potato processing plant operating an ammonia refrigeration system. There was no release of ammonia, but EPA alleged that the system was not maintained in a manner consistent with generally accepted good engineering practices and that the facility did not have an adequate emergency response program. Although the company was small and privately held, EPA still required a settlement costing nearly $150,000.
Steps Facilities Can Take to Decrease Risk
EPA’s announcement of its enforcement initiatives highlights where the agency will target its limited enforcement budget in the coming years. This is a new status quo and, as a result, facilities should not assume that the lack of recent inspections or the failure of regulators to pursue exceedances previously reported under various permitting programs means they will not be subject to enforcement. The publicizing of EPA’s enforcement priorities provides companies with an advance opportunity to prepare for increased scrutiny, address environmental compliance issues and decrease the risk of enforcement.
Regulated facilities should prepare for potential federal inspections. For example, facilities should designate personnel to interact with inspectors and compliance documents should be checked for thoroughness and consolidated in easily accessible locations.
Regulated facilities should also take this opportunity to proactively identify and correct any compliance deficiencies. For example, facilities with any wastewater discharge should evaluate compliance with discharge requirements and take immediate steps to correct any deficiencies. Similarly, facilities subject to the RMP Program should comprehensively assess their chemical accident prevention programs and track EPA’s ongoing rulemaking to incorporate any new requirements. More generally, companies should consider a third-party audit in consultation with legal counsel. Such audits can identify areas requiring further compliance efforts and, if deficiencies are identified, facilities may also benefit from working with counsel to self-report any noncompliance to EPA.
Tom Boer, Esq., is a partner in the San Francisco office of Hunton & Williams LLP. He represents private companies, utilities and individuals in federal and state environmental litigation and in defense of environmental enforcement actions and citizen suits. He formerly worked in the Environmental Enforcement Section at the Department of Justice.
Sam Brown, Esq., is a senior attorney at the San Francisco office of Hunton & Williams LLP. His practice focuses on environmental and administrative law. He formerly worked for EPA.
Learn How to Select and Serve Produce Safely
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/learn-how-to-select-and-serve-produce-safely/
By Linda Larsen (Aug 2, 2016)
Summer is a time when everyone enjoys eating more fresh produce. But there have been many foodborne illness outbreaks in the past few years linked to fresh fruits and vegetables. Some of the pathogens in those outbreaks include Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and cyclospora.
The FDA is offering tips to help you choose and serve fresh produce safely. Harmful bacteria can be in the irrigation water used in the fields. Animals can poop on the plants, transferring pathogenic bacteria onto the fruits and vegetables. Product can also be contaminated during harvest, processing, or transport.
When you buy produce, always choose products that are not damaged, cut, or bruised. Those injuries are open doorways to pathogens. Once the pathogens are inside the fruit or vegetable, you can’t wash them off. When you buy precut fruit or vegetables or bagged produce, make sure they are refrigerated or surrounded by ice. And bag those items separately from raw meat, poultry, and seafood at the checkout counter.
Raw fresh produce must also be stored to prevent cross-contamination and bacterial growth. Always store perishable fruits and vegetables such as lettuce, herbs, mushrooms, and strawberries in a clean fridge at a temperature of 40°F or below. Refrigerate all produce that is purchased pre-cut or bagged.
Always keep fruits and vegetables that you will eat uncooked away from raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Use separate utensils to prepare these foods, and always wash utensils, cutting boards, plates, and your hands after they come into contact with raw meat, seafood, and poultry. If you use plastic or non-porous cutting boards, clean them in the dishwasher.
Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after food preparation. Cut away damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and veggies. Wash all produce thoroughly under running water, including that bought at a farmers’ market or grown at home. Don’t use soap, detergent, or commercial produce washes.
Wash these foods even if you don’t eat the skin. Bacteria can be transferred from the skin to the flesh when peeling or cutting. Scrub firm produce such as cucumbers and melons with a clean produce brush before preparing. Dry produce with a clean paper towel or cloth towel to further remove bacteria.
Pre-washed, pre-cut, bagged, and packaged produce items are ready to eat. Experts recommend that you don’t wash them further, because they may be re-contaminated with bacteria in your sink.
And don’t eat raw sprouts. Sprouts are grown from seeds and beans under conditions that are perfect for bacterial growth. There have been many food poisoning outbreaks in the past few years linked to raw sprouts. Children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems should never eat raw sprouts. Cooking sprouts thoroughly is the only way to kill dangerous bacteria and reduce the chance of food poisoning.
Eating food contaminated with pathogenic bacteria will cause illness within one to three days. But some bacteria, such as Listeria monocytogenes, can cause illness 70 days after exposure. Symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, headache, or muscle aches. If you do experience these symptoms, see your doctor.
Food business operator fined for safety violation
Source : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/Food-business-operator-fined-for-safety-violation/articleshow/53498009.cms
By (Aug 2, 2016)
A fine of 10,000 has been imposed by the North Goa district magistrate on a food business operator for violating safety rules by not providing the food products' details on the label.
As per provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, the penalty was imposed on Sachin Soni, who runs a shop at the municipal market, Panaji, "for packing and selling/distributing 'Red Chillies cashew nuts' food product, which was declared to be 'misbranded food'."
The label of the product was found to be without the manufacturing date / lot No. as well as the date of packing on its label, in violation of the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging & Labeling) Regulation 2011.
The sample of the red chillies cashew nut was collected by senior food safety officer Rajiv Korde of the Food & Drugs Administration and the sample was tested at the food and drugs laboratory at Bambolim, and the fine was later imposed.
What The Science Really Says About GMOs And Food Safety
Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/that-new-gmo-labeling-law-doesnt-align-with-scientific-consensus-on-gmo-safety_us_57a0ca4ae4b0693164c2c3a6
By Anna Almendrala (Aug 2, 2016)
The U.S. has a new federal law that will, for the first time, require labeling of genetically modified ingredients in food. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law Friday, and the secretary of agriculture has two years to finalize the labeling standard.
The new law, which was largely supported by the food industry, puts the U.S. in line with 64 other countries that also require manufacturers to label genetically modified foods. Two-thirds of Americans also support labeling GMOs. But while labels for genetically modified foods might seem sensible — or at the very least, harmless — the issue obscures some very important facts about the GMO debate.
Most notably, the law doesn’t align with scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs ¡ª or the reality that the U.S. food system is largely made up of genetically modified foods. Here’s what the science really says about genetically engineered foods.
The scientific community agrees: GMOs are safe
When it comes to scientific consensus on GMO foods, it’s not even close.
A recent analysis of over 1,000 studies, conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and released in May, concludes that there’s no safety reason to justify labeling GMOs except perhaps a consumer’s right to know. They also found that GMOs are generally safe and don’t seem to harm the environment, reports The New York Times.
In January 2015, a Pew poll surveyed both the general public and scientists from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and found that 88 percent of scientists thought GMOs were “generally safe.” To put that in perspective, only 87 percent of scientists in the poll agreed that human activity is causing climate change.
Why do most scientists think this way? Because time and again, scientific research on the safety of genetically modified foods has proven them safe to eat. The American Medical Association stated back in 2012 that there is “no scientific justification for special labeling of bioengineered foods” and that “voluntary labeling is without value unless it is accompanied by focused consumer education.” The aforementioned AAAS has also announced in 2012 their support for GMO foods, warning that labels could “mislead and falsely alarm consumers.” The World Health Organization, another independent, non-corporate organization, also concludes that all the GMO products available on the market are safe for people to eat.
From a regulatory perspective, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies genetically engineered plants as safe, indicating that foods made from these plants are as nutritious as non-genetically engineered foods and are no more likely to cause an allergic reaction than non-genetically engineered counterparts.
But that message has not gotten to the public: In the same poll, 57 percent of the American public thought GMOs were “generally unsafe.”
Human beings have been genetically modifying food for millennia
In their 2013 editorial against GMO labeling, the magazine Scientific American compares ancient agricultural methods like breeding to the genetic splicing that creates disease-resistant crops:
We have been tinkering with our food’s DNA since the dawn of agriculture. By selectively breeding plants and animals with the most desirable traits, our predecessors transformed organisms’ genomes, turning a scraggly grass into plump-kerneled corn, for example. For the past 20 years Americans have been eating plants in which scientists have used modern tools to insert a gene here or tweak a gene there, helping the crops tolerate drought and resist herbicides. Around 70 percent of processed foods in the U.S. contain genetically modified ingredients.
Genetically engineered foods hold a great deal of promise for poor communities
You’ve probably heard of “golden rice,” a genetically modified food enriched with Vitamin A. It was created for poor communities in Southeast Asia and Africa, where the primary food staple is rice, but children are going blind for lack of essential nutrients like vitamin A.
In April, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded the creators of golden rice with the Patents for Humanity Award, which recognizes private sector researchers for their contribution to global health.
But as William Saletan of Slate notes in his year-long investigation on the safety of GMOs, golden rice still isn’t commercially available, even though it was invented 16 years ago. Saletan attributes this delay to a ferocious anti-GMO movement spearheaded by Greenpeace. From Slate:
Two years ago anti-GMO activists destroyed a field trial of the rice in the Philippines. Last year they filed a petition to block all field tests and feeding studies. Greenpeace boasted, “After more than 10 years of research ‘Golden’ Rice is nowhere near its promise to address Vitamin A Deficiency.” And a million more kids are dead.
Consumers already have a label for non-GMO foods
GMOs are in the majority of America’s food supply. An estimated 95 percent of sugar beets, 94 percent of soybeans, 90 percent of cotton and 88 percent of feed corn are genetically engineered, reports USA Today.
But foods that label themselves “organic” have to comply with non-GMO rules, and so anyone who is concerned about avoiding them need only to steer himself toward the organic sections of the supermarket.
A version of this story originally appeared August 2015.
Strengthening Food Safety Culture
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/strengthening-food-safety-culture/
By Lone Jespersen, M.Sc.(Aug 2, 2016)
Many conversations take place these days on the topic of food safety culture. The conversation sometimes assumes that culture, any kind of culture, for example, organizational, people safety, food safety, sustainability, etc., is homogeneous and therefore more or less effective, independent of the formal and informal structures of an organization. Edgar Schein helps us understand that this can be a false assumption and that organizations are made of subgroups and that cultures have subcultures. This is important for the food safety culture discussion as we, the individuals who make up these subcultures, can make very different assumptions related to the perceived value of food safety, magnitude of food safety risks, importance of the food safety learning programs, etc.
We discover this very gap in the maturity profiling research published earlier this year. A significant difference was found between professionals in manufacturing functions (e.g., production, sanitation and maintenance) and professionals in food safety. Food safety professionals evaluated maturity significantly higher than manufacturing professionals. A similar difference was found between senior leaders and supervisors. Senior leaders evaluated maturity of their organizations food safety culture significantly higher than supervisors. “So what?” you might ask.
An effective food safety culture is one where everybody understands their specific food safety responsibilities, such as purchasing: recognizes and selects suppliers with strong food safety cultures; finance: places food safety risks at par with financial risks; production: ensures supply resources such that all leaders are trained and certified on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points. These specific responsibilities can only develop if senior leaders acknowledge and execute an organizational strategy that includes developing and maintaining such role-specific food safety responsibilities.
As a leader in your company, your every message and behavior is watched by those around you. By building your understanding of your company’s specific food safety risks and hazards, you can narrow the often-perceived gap in leaders between messages and behaviors, and show that you see food safety at a level equivalent with employee safety and financial performance for the prosperity of your company. Acting on your food safety responsibility can be a fearful act. Francesca Gino and Bradley Staats address such fear of failure as one of the main obstacles of learning. Some organizational cultures have internalized a fear of failure in which learning is difficult, if not impossible, where not knowing is seen as a weakness and seeking help to better understand is not encouraged. Food safety is a serious domain; our colleagues in other functions and roles can be fearful of engaging and showing that they are ready to take their food safety responsibility seriously. As food safety professionals, we must be creative in how we teach and coach others to minimize this fear and work collectively on strengthening our organizations’ food safety culture.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association and Cultivate Food Safety seminar for senior leaders focuses on these exact points: acknowledging functional food safety responsibilities and deepening your understanding of risks and food safety maturity in your organization. To help you get a bit of a “time out,” we offer this “leaders-teaching-leaders” seminar where you will meet other senior leaders who might have been in similar situations as yourself, debate the complex situation of transforming food safety culture and have access to follow up coaching once you are back in your own environment. Register for the September meeting today!
Lone Jespersen, M.Sc., is principal of Cultivate Food Safety.
1. Schein, EH. 1992. Organizational Culture and Leadership, 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
2. Jespersen, L et al. 2016. “Measurement of Food Safety Culture using Survey and Maturity Profiling Tools.” Food Control 66:174–182.
How to Build, Change and Mold Food Safety Culture
Source : https://foodsafetytech.com/column/build-change-mold-food-safety-culture/
By Elise Forward (Aug 1, 2016)
Food safety and quality professionals are change agents and problem solvers. It is what we do. The manner in which people within an organization respond to change, problems and opportunities for improvement is a reflection of the food safety culture of the organization. Does your organization celebrate when someone correctly decides to shut production down or put a product on hold? Obviously, it is always best to prevent any issues before they arise, but stopping a line to prevent bad product from being produced or catching out-of-specification product before it leaves the facility is better than continuing to produce and ship bad product. These events are often viewed as negative occurrences, and, therefore, many do not see the value of the Food Safety/Quality Assurance department.
How can we change this viewpoint and positively affect the food safety and quality culture of the organization? A few key factors have a great impact on the culture of an organization. People, systems, access to resources and opportunities for growth are all integral pieces of a stellar food safety culture. In this column, the first of a two-part series, we will explore how people build, change and mold the culture.
First and foremost, people are the number one asset and provide the greatest impact to change. Not only are personnel the eyes and ears of an organization, but they also provide the logic required to make good decisions. Computer technology is amazing, but it cannot fully replace the human ability to process the information. People need to be used to their fullest potential in order to obtain the greatest impact. The following are some ways people can be used to boost the food safety culture of an organization.
Everyone is involved in food safety. A team is always stronger than individuals. Everyone, from the C-suite to the third-shift person in charge of the employee refrigerator and taking out the trash, to the office staff that answers the phones and opens the mail, needs to have responsibility for food safety. In addition, contractors and subcontractors are not immune to providing a significant role in protecting the food safety of your product. All relevant staff must have the appropriate training to understand that what they do affects the food safety of the product as well as the entire facility. Having everyone trained means that many then share the food safety mentality and, therefore, there are stopgaps in the system. As with many issues, it is not one breakdown of the system that leads to a failure but a culmination of many breakdowns. People are still the strongest asset to food safety, so having multiple stopgaps (i.e., people), involved in protecting the process will help ensure that the product remains safe.
Executive responsibility. The responsibility of the overall food safety of products leaving the facility now lies with the executives, as seen by the recent cases involving Peanut Corporation of America, DeCosters and Jensen brothers. Executives and decision makers are accountable for the presence of or lack of appropriate food safety measures. Therefore, when making changes, executives need to understand that these are personal decisions that could affect themselves and their family, in addition to customer confidence as well as profits and losses. Questions such as, “What happens if their name is plastered on the evening news?” and “How will your customers, investors, consumers react if the company has a problem?” should be asked.
Evaluate any decision for food safety consequences. Food safety and quality is directly related to profits and losses. Any issue or change that arises must be evaluated to determine if there are any impacts to food safety. For example, the purchasing department must understand that the items purchased and used on the production floor impact food safety. Therefore, food safety should be on every agenda and part of every decision. This can be as simple as adding to the bottom of every agenda the question, “Is there any way that food safety will be impacted?” The C-suite members should be included in management meetings where additional food safety discussions occur.
Employee trust. Employees must be trusted to keep the product safe in order to safeguard the business and the products. It is human nature to take pride in the work that we are assigned and to strive for excellence. People feel rewarded when they are trusted and will continue to add value to the organization by striving for continuous improvement. This translates to greater attention to food safety and quality.
If an employee cannot be trusted, this person should not be on the payroll. The Food Defense rules specifically require a company to address intentional adulteration from an internal entity. To ensure quality, background checks should be completed on every employee, contractor or sub-contractor who has access to critical areas of the facility.
Food safety should be in every job description. Food safety is everyone’s job, so update job descriptions to include pertinent responsibilities to food safety. At a minimum, everyone should have the “See something, say something” responsibility in his or her job description, in addition to anything specifically related to his or her job. Likewise, it can be valuable to have an independent set of eyes to evaluate a system. Therefore, train and use all personnel that do not have a background in food safety and quality. Departments such as accounting, warehouse, maintenance and personnel should be trained to perform GMP and sanitation audits. Spread these tasks around and your systems will benefit. The people performing the tasks will take pride at being trusted with these important responsibilities and tasks.
While a company or organization may start in an undesirable situation, it is possible to change the environment. Remember, the people you work with are your greatest asset. Value these people; uplift, teach and coach them in the ways of food safety and quality. Your efforts will produce astounding results! In the second half of the discussion on food safety culture, we will discuss other facets that influence food safety culture.
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