BPI drops some defendants from ‘pink slime’ civil action
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/08/bpi-drops-some-defendants-from-pink-slime-civil-action/#.V7uv4E4eaUl
By News Desk (Aug 22, 2016)
ABC news reporters Diane Sawyer and Jim Avila and American Broadcasting Companies Inc. remain as defendants in $1.2 billion lawsuit brought by Beef Products Inc. in Dakota Dunes, SD. However, the beef company that pioneered the product dubbed “pink slime” has agreed to drop its claims against ABC News Inc. and two former USDA scientists.
In a joint stipulation signed Friday by attorneys for the defendants and BPI, all parties agreed that the network’s news division and former USDA microbiologists Carl Custer and Gerald Zirnstein would be dismissed “with prejudice” as defendants in lawsuit. It means they cannot be sued again in the action.
Also dismissed from the action are ABC News reporter David Kerley and Kit Foshee, a former BPI quality control manager turned whistleblower.
The beef company — founded and still headed by Eldon Roth, the man who developed the process to separate the lean meat from trimmings which then would be exposed to a small puff of ammonium hydroxide as a food safety step — will continue with its civil action, which is scheduled for trial in Union County, SD next June.
With triple damages in play, BPI is seeking as much as $1.2 billion. The beef company claims a 2012 series of news reports on the ABC network included more than 200 false and disparaging statements about lean finely textured beef (LFTB).
“As result of the disinformation campaign, BPI sales declined from approximately 5 million pounds of LFTB per week to less than 2 million pounds per week, three BPI facilities have closed and more than 700 employees lost their jobs,” the beef company said in a news release in 2012.
What’s the beef?
A key problem with the television news coverage was the use of the phrase “pink slime” to describe BPI’s processed beef product.
The phrase came to light first in December of 2009 when Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Michael Moss of the New York Times used it in a news story. Moss didn’t coin the phrase, however.
“USDA microbiologist, Gerald Zirnstein, called the processed beef ‘pink slime’ in a 2002 e-mail message to colleagues and said, ‘I do not consider the stuff to be ground beef, and I consider allowing it in ground beef to be a form of fraudulent labeling,’ ” Moss wrote in the Times.
While the 2009 beef series by Moss caught the attention of the Pulitzer Prize judges, the “pink slime” phrase didn’t really hit the mainstream until March 2012 when reports from ABC News correspondent Avila hit the small screen on “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer.”
Avila reported that 70 percent of U.S. supermarket ground beef at the time contained “pink slime” while legally carrying labels that said “100% ground beef.”
Jury trial set next summer; new courtroom to be built
A tentative date of June 2017 has been set for the start of the trial in the Union county Courthouse in Elk Point, SD.
The jury trial is scheduled for Union County Circuit Court before Judge Cheryle Gering.
Union County is on the threshold of building a third courtroom to accommodate the high-profile case. A community room in the basement of the courthouse is to be turned into a third courtroom at a cost of about $100,000.
FDA warns Hawaii seafood processor about handling of tuna
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/08/fda-warning-letter-seafood-processor-in-hawaii/#.V7uwEU4eaUl
By News Desk (Aug 22, 2016)
A seafood-processing facility in Honolulu was found to have “serious violations” of the seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations during a May 17 and 20 inspection by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
The resulting warning letter, dated July 27 and sent from the agency’s San Francisco District Office, informed Tropic Fish Hawaii LLC that its “fresh, refrigerated histamine-forming fish products, including Ahi tuna, mahi mahi, and skipjack tuna” are therefore adulterated, meaning that “they have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health.
FDA acknowledged the company’s June 13 response to the inspection results, but found that it did not adequately address all the problems observed by inspectors.
The warning letter states that Tropic Fish Hawaii LLC “must conduct a hazard analysis to determine whether there are food safety hazards that are reasonably likely to occur and have a HACCP plan that, at a minimum, lists the critical control points” to comply with federal law.
FDA noted that the company’s HACCP plan for fresh, refrigerated histamine-forming fish, including tuna, does not list the critical control point of refrigerated storage for controlling the food safety hazard of scombrotoxin (histamine) formation.
An agency investigator observed refrigerated product storage to be at 44 degrees F and the internal temperature of two Ahi tuna in the room to be at 42 degrees F. However, FDA’s letter stated that refrigerated, not frozen, storage or processing of raw product is to be held at a cooler temperature of 40 degrees F or below.
Or, if the fish are stored under ice, the product must be completely and continuously surrounded by ice throughout the storage time, according to the warning letter.
FDA also pointed out that the firm’s HACCP plan for fresh, refrigerated histamine-forming fish such as tuna does not list the food safety hazard of pathogenic bacteria growth for fish intended for raw consumption. The company responded that pathogenic bacteria growth was not considered a potential hazard because it uses potable water in the facility.
“Your response is not adequate and your hazards analysis is incorrect,” the warning letter states. “FDA has identified pathogenic bacteria growth and toxin formation as a food safety hazard in finfish, i.e. tuna, intended for raw consumption and control of this significant hazard must be included in your HACCP plan in the event of time and temperature abuse.”
FDA’s letter also mentioned that the firm was observed monitoring the surface temperature of fish at receiving with an infrared thermometer.
“Your response received on June 13 stated that you have now resumed taking the internal temperature of the fish with a probe thermometer. We will verify the adequacy of your corrective action during our next scheduled inspection,” the letter stated.
Other problems cited at the facility involved current good manufacturing practice requirements. These included not monitoring for the prevention of cross-contamination, insufficient cleaning of food contact surfaces, and inadequate control of employee health conditions.
Specifically, the letter states that an investigator observed unprocessed Ahi tuna intended for raw consumption being stored on a concrete floor and then dragged across the floor onto a pallet by an employee.
The company responded that the employee had received a written warning and was counseled, extra pallets were added for storage, and that plastic platform trucks were ordered to help move products.
FDA called that response “not completely adequate because you have not addressed the steps you have taken to ensure prevention of other employees from engaging in the same practice.”
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.
Back-To-School Food Safety Tips for Parents and Caregivers
Source : http://greenwichfreepress.com/schools/back-to-school-food-safety-tips-for-parents-and-caregivers-70994/
By: greenwichfreepress (Aug 20, 2016)
Back to school, back to the books, back in the saddle, or back in the car for those of us shuttling students to and from school…
…The new school year means its back to packing lunches and after school snacks for students, scouts, athletes, dancers, and all the other children who carry these items to and from home.
One ‘back’ you do not want to reacquaint children with, however, is foodborne bacteria.
Bacteria that can cause foodborne illness, commonly known as food poisoning, grow rapidly at temperatures between 40° and 140° Fahrenheit.
In just two hours, these microorganisms can multiply to dangerous levels.
To make sure lunches and snacks are safe for those you pack for, follow the USDA’s four steps to food safety: Clean – Separate – Cook – and Chill.
•If the lunch/snack contains perishable food items like luncheon meats, eggs, cheese, or yogurt, make sure to pack it with at least two cold sources. Harmful bacteria multiply rapidly so perishable food transported without an ice source won’t stay safe long.
•Frozen juice boxes or water can also be used as freezer packs. Freeze these items overnight and use with at least one other freezer pack. By lunchtime, the liquids should be thawed and ready to drink.
•Pack lunches containing perishable food in an insulated lunchbox or soft-sided lunch bag. Perishable food can be unsafe to eat by lunchtime if packed in a paper bag.
•If packing a hot lunch, like soup, chili or stew, use an insulated container to keep it hot. Fill the container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty, and then put in the piping hot food. Tell children to keep the insulated container closed until lunchtime to keep the food hot – 140 °F or above.
•If packing a child’s lunch the night before, parents should leave it in the refrigerator overnight. The meal will stay cold longer because everything will be refrigerator temperature when it is placed in the lunchbox.
•If you’re responsible for packing snacks for the team, troop, or group, keep perishable foods in a cooler with ice or cold packs until snack time. Pack snacks in individual bags or containers, rather than having children share food from one serving dish.
•If possible, a child’s lunch should be stored in a refrigerator or cooler with ice upon arrival. Leave the lid of the lunchbox or bag open in the fridge so that cold air can better circulate and keep the food cold.
Eating and Disposal Tips
•Pack disposable wipes for washing hands before and after eating.
•After lunch, discard all leftover food, used food packaging, and paper bags. Do not reuse packaging because it could contaminate other food and cause foodborne illness.
Consumers can learn more about key food safety practices at Foodsafety.gov, by ‘following’ @USDAFoodSafety on Twitter, and by ‘liking’ Facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov.
Consumers with questions about food safety, can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, in English or Spanish.
If you have questions about storage times of food or beverages, download USDA’s new FoodKeeper application for Android and iOS devices. By helping users better understand food storage, the FoodKeeper empowers the public to choose storage methods that extend the shelf life of the food and beverages in their home. Better food storage should reduce food waste and reduce the frequency of users preparing and eating products that may be spoiled. The application was recently updated to include food storage information in both Spanish and Portuguese.
USDA has made some of the most significant updates made since the 1950s to the U.S. food safety system during the Obama Administration.
New consumer-facing tools, like the FoodKeeper application, allow Americans to further guard themselves and their family against foodborne illnesses.
Estimates show that the food safety standards implemented for meat and poultry will reduce illnesses by about 75,000 annually. More information about these efforts can be found on USDA’s Medium page at http://bit.ly/results-ch7.
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California warns against eating some shellfish on Central Coast
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/08/california-warns-against-some-shellfish-on-central-coast/#.V7uwhE4eaUl
By News Desk (Aug 21, 2016)
Levels of domoic acid 10 times the “action level” in certain shellfish along the Central Coast spurred California officials to issue a public warning against eating rock crabs and bivalve shellfish caught in the area.
Specifically, Half Moon Bay rock crabs and Monterey Bay rock crabs and bivalve shellfish are on the danger list for now, according to the California Department of Public Health.
The high levels of the naturally occurring toxin are related to unpredictable “blooms” of a particular single-celled aquatic plant. No illnesses had been reported as of the Friday evening warning.
Commercially sold clams, mussels, scallops or oysters from approved sources are not included in the warning. State law permits only state-certified commercial shellfish harvesters or dealers to sell these products. Shellfish sold by certified harvesters and dealers are subject to frequent mandatory testing to monitor for toxins.
“This advisory covers consumption of recreationally or commercially caught rock crab or recreationally caught mussels, clams, and the internal organs of scallops caught in the specified area,” according to the health department notice.
“The warning is effective for crabs and bivalve shellfish caught in state waters south of Latitude 37° 11′ N, near Pigeon Point, and north of Latitude 36° 35′ N, near Cypress Point in Monterey County.”
Symptoms of domoic acid poisoning can occur within 30 minutes to 24 hours after eating toxic seafood. In mild cases, symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and dizziness. These symptoms disappear within several days.
In severe cases, the victim may experience trouble breathing, confusion, disorientation, cardiovascular instability, seizures, excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short term memory — a condition known as Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning — coma or death.
The California health department will continue to coordinate its efforts with the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife and the fishing community to collect rock crab samples from the central and northern California coast until the domoic acid levels have dissipated.
To receive updated information about shellfish poisoning and quarantines, call CDPH’s toll-free Shellfish Information Line at 800-553-4133.
Central Ohio reports 209 cases of Cryptosporidium infection
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/08/ohio-reports-202-cases-of-cryptosporidium/#.V7uz1k4eaUl
By News Desk (Aug 19, 2016)
An outbreak of Cryptosporidium infection has been building for the past two weeks in central Ohio, with the number of cases hitting 209 as of Friday. The cases are scattered among Columbus, Franklin and Delaware counties.
The current total exceeds the combined cases from the past four years, said Jose Rodriguez, a spokesman for Columbus Public Health in Columbus, OH. He said that the outbreak is not tied to any one location since a large number of the cases include people with multiple exposures at various local recreational water facilities.
“Crypto can be cyclical, and the last time we saw one was close to 500 cases in 2008, so it has happened before,” he said. “A lot of public pools closed today and are being hyper-chlorinated” in order to eliminate the microscopic parasite as much as possible.
“The most important thing to do to be safe is to not go back in the water,” Rodriguez said. “Stay out of the pools until after you have recovered and are over the diarrhea.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drinking water and recreational water are the most common ways to spread the parasite.
Cryptosporidium is a leading cause of waterborne disease among humans in the United States.
The illness caused by the parasite is known as cryptosporidiosis. It is spread by swallowing water that has been contaminated with fecal matter containing the parasite, or from human-to-human contact. Cryptosporidium may be found in soil, food, water or surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces from infected humans or animals.
Symptoms usually begin two to 10 days (with an average of seven days) after being infected with the parasite and typically last for one to two weeks. Some people have symptoms for only a few days, but they can continue for up to four or more weeks.
The most common symptoms are watery diarrhea, stomach cramps or pain, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss, although some infected people have no symptoms.
The infection is not usually serious, but it can be for those who have compromised immune systems. However, Rodriguez said that no one is known to have been hospitalized in connection with the current outbreak in Ohio.
USDA tells staff to defend against mosquito-borne diseases
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/08/meat-and-poultry-inspectors-told-to-defend-against-moso/#.V7uznk4eaUl
By Dan Flynn (Aug 18, 2016)
The nation’s meat inspectors – or at least those “who conduct regulatory verification activities outdoors” – are being told how to protect themselves from mosquito-borne diseases.
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspection program personnel (IPP) got instructions Wednesday on how to protect themselves from mosquito bites in an official FSIS Notice.
“There are many mosquito-transmitted infectious agents including Zika, West Nile and Saint Louis encephalitis (SLEV),” according to FSIS Notice 53-16. “The Zika virus can be transmitted to people through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito and therefore occurs in limited areas of the country. Zika virus infection has been reported in parts of the United States. During certain periods of the year, West Nile Virus is transmitted by mosquitos throughout the United States.”
FSIS meat and poultry inspectors involved in outdoor activities, such as ante mortem inspections and verification of the performance of food defense programs, are told to use insect repellents registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and which contain specific ingredients such as DEET or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
EPA-registered insect repellents are safe and effective, even for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
FSIS inspection personnel are advised to follow label instructions, reapply the repellent as necessary, avoid spraying underclothing, and to apply sunscreen before applying mosquito repellent. Light-colored clothing with long pants and sleeves provides the best defense for mosquitos.
The FSIS Notice also says that the agency will reimburse its personnel for the cost of obtaining “a quantity of repellent that is appropriate for personal use.” The reimbursements are open to any inspection staff personnel whose duties take them into areas of property that are exposed to mosquitos.
If mosquitoes do bite, FSIS says to watch for the following identifying symptoms:
•ZIKA VIRUS – Most people do not develop symptoms when infected with the Zika virus. But when they do, fever, rash, joint pain, red eye, muscle pain and headaches are among the symptoms.
•WEST NILE VIRUS – Head and body aches, joint pains, vomiting and rash are among the symptoms of being infected with West Nile Virus. However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 70 percent to 80 percent of those infected won’t experience symptoms.
•SLEV – Less than 1 percent of those infected show any signs. Symptoms are fever, headache, dizziness, nausea and malaise. FSIS also told its employees to consult with their personal physicians and their occupational health and safety specialists if they see mosquitoes in their specific areas.
E. coli cases have Oregon officials investigating non-fair food, fair livestock
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/08/130697/#.V7uwxE4eaUl
By News Desk (Aug 18, 2016)
A number of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) illnesses are being investigated following last month’s Washington County Fair in Hillsboro, OR.
Public health officials announced Wednesday that potential sources were food items unrelated to the fair, as well as contact with livestock at the fair, which was July 28-31.
Anyone who attended the Washington County Fair and has had, or develops, symptoms such as severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting or fever is being advised to call their health care provider.
Some STEC infections can be very mild, but others can be severe or even life-threatening, health officials said.
“This type of infection is highly contagious even when symptoms are mild,” says Washington County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Christina Baumann. “To prevent the spread of disease, people with diarrhea should stay home while sick and avoid handling food or preparing food for others.”
A potentially life-threatening complication known as HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome) affects a small number of people infected with E. coli bacteria. Young children and people older than 75 are at highest risk for this complication.
Signs that a person is developing HUS include decreased urination, feeling very tired, and losing pink color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids. HUS, if it occurs, often develops after the earlier symptoms of diarrhea have improved.
“The best way to prevent getting STEC infection is by washing hands well with soap and water,” Baumann said. “It’s very important to wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers, before preparing or eating food, and after contact with animals or their environments at farms, petting zoos and fairs.”
STEC outbreaks at fairs are not uncommon and have been linked to contact with livestock at petting zoos and contamination in fairground buildings.
An E. coli outbreak following a fair in Lynden, WA, last year sickened 25 people and hospitalized 10 of them. Health officials concluded that exposure probably occurred in the dairy barn at the fairgrounds.
Fairgoers should take the following precautions to keep themselves and their children healthy:
•Do not put anything in your mouth in the animal areas, including food, beverage, pacifiers, toys or hands.
•Leave any unnecessary items outside the animal areas.
•Be aware that objects such as clothing, shoes and strollers can be contaminated with germs in the animal areas.
•Wash your hands thoroughly and often.
•Supervise children to make sure they are washing their hands well.
For more information about E. coli and STEC infection, see the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Only 1 in 3 trust food safety, report reveals
Source : http://www.fruitnet.com/fpj/article/169672/only-1-in-3-trust-food-safety-report-reveals
By Fred Searle (Aug 18, 2016)
A new study shows a lack of trust in the government to ensure food safety, but greater confidence in British food than foreign produce
Just a third of British consumers have faith in the government to make sure food is safe to eat, a report on consumer trust has revealed.
According to social research organisation NatCen, only 33 per cent trust the government “a great deal” or “quite a lot” to guarantee their food is safe to eat, while a similar proportion (34 per cent) said they trusted supermarkets.
Some 29 per cent do not trust the government “very much” or “at all”, while 26 per cent said the same about supermarkets in NatCen.
By contrast, 68 per cent said they trust food inspectors “a great deal” or “quite a lot” to ensure food safety, with 58 per cent saying they trust farmers.
NatCen’s British Social Attitudes survey also revealed that the public has greater confidence in the quality of British food than it does in food from abroad.
Just over half of people (58 per cent) were sure that food from Britain was prepared to the highest quality standards, while less than a quarter (23 per cent) thought this about foreign produce.
When it comes to consumer choice, health was reported to be prioritised over low cost. Some 83 per cent said it matters “a great deal” or “quite a lot” that the food they buy is healthy, whereas low prices were important to less than half (47 per cent) of those surveyed.
Over two thirds (69 per cent) also found it important that food has not been heavily processed, while 58 per cent are concerned that the farmer or grower is paid a fair price. However, only 35 per cent thought it matters that food is grown locally.
Commenting on the findings, NatCen’s Caireen Roberts said: “Healthiness of food is clearly an important issue when buying food, more so than considerations around the origin and cost.
“While confidence in the quality of food produced in Britain was just over 50 per cent, it was higher than levels of confidence in imported food and we also saw low levels of trust in the government, supermarkets and food manufacturers.”
How Does Hepatitis A Get Into Shellfish?
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/how-does-hepatitis-a-get-into-shellfish/
By Linda Larsen (Aug 17, 2016)
The hepatitis A outbreak in Hawaii, which has sickened at least 168 people, may have been solved with the announcement that raw scallops served at Genki Sushi restaurants on the islands of Oahu and Kauai may be to blame. But how does that virus get into shellfish in the first place?
The scallops were imported into Hawaii by two distributors: Koha Oriental Foods and True World Foods. Koha Oriental Foods supplied the product to Genki Sushi Restaurants on Oahu and Kauai. Recently, True World Foods also started selling frozen imported scallops to that restaurant chain. We don’t know where the scallops were grown and harvested. An embargo has been placed on scallops distributed by those two establishments.
There have been hepatitis A outbreaks linked to shellfish imported from third world and development countries such as Thailand, the Philippines, or other countries in southeast Asia, where the virus is common, according to the CDC. Feces from ill persons in the water where the shellfish are grown or harvested can contain the virus. Or an infected person who harvests the fish or processes it for packing can transmit the virus.
Bivalves such as oysters and scallops eat through filter feeding: they move water through their flesh and filter out food. Viruses and bacteria can then concentrate in their flesh. When the shellfish is harvested and eaten raw or undercooked, it can make people sick. It can take as few as 100 viruses to make someone ill.
Hepatitis A outbreaks in this country have been linked to ill food service workers, to imported berries, to shellfish, and to other produce such as lettuce and green onions. The virus is very contagious and can be spread through person-to-person contact, through contaminated water or food, or through contact with surfaces.
If you choose to eat raw shellfish, make sure that the fish come from an impeccable source. In restaurants, ask where the shellfish comes from. People who are at high risk for complications from food poisoning, such as the very young, the elderly, pregnant women, those with chronic illnesses, and people with compromised immune systems should not eat raw shellfish or raw meat.
The symptoms of hepatitis A include fever, nausea, diarrhea, lethargy, tiredness, clay colored stool, dark urine, yellow eyes and skin (jaundice), weight loss, abdominal cramps, and lack of appetite. If you ate at the Genki Sushi restaurants in Hawaii and have experienced these symptoms, see your doctor.
Most people with hepatitis A recover on their own in a few months. Symptoms usually appear 15 to 50 days after exposure to the virus. Some people, especially those with liver disease, can become seriously ill and need to be hospitalized. There are 46 people in this particular outbreak who have been hospitalized.
One of the problems with this illness is that people are contagious for two weeks before they show any symptoms, so they go to work, prepare food for others, and can infect many people before they even know they are sick. To help prevent the spread of this illness, stay home if you are sick. Wash your hands well with soap and water before handling food for anyone, after using the bathroom, and after caring for someone who is ill. See your doctor about a hepatitis A vaccination if you think you may have been exposed.
USDA FSIS Breaks Down 16 Years of Salmonella in 123-Page Report
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/usda-fsis-breaks-down-16-years-of-salmonella-in-123-page-report/
By Carla Gillespie (Aug 17, 2016)
Of the meat and poultry inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, Salmonella most commonly appears in chicken, ground beef and turkey. In that order. And Salmonella Kentucky is the most common strain of Salmonella.
These are among the many findings in a 123-page report the agency compiled examining 16 years of Salmonella data. The report, entitled Serotypes Profile of Salmonella Isolates from Meat and Poultry Products January 1998 through December 2014, was published on the agency’s website Friday.
In the U.S., norovirus causes the most food poisoning, but Salmonella is the leading cause of bacterial food poisoning. Each year, Salmonella sickens about 1.2 million Americans. Of those about 19,000 are hospitalized and 380 die.
In 2014, 360,000 illnesses, or about 30 percent of total Salmonella illnesses that year, were attributed to FSIS-regulated products, a 9.3 percent decrease from 2010, the agency said. This, despite one of the largest Salmonella outbreaks in modern history occurring during part of the year.
The 17-month Salmonella outbreak that sickened 634 people in 29 states began in March 2013 and ended in August2014. Seven strains of Salmonella Heidelberg were associated with the outbreak, four of them were antibiotic resistant resulting in outbreak hospitalization rates that were double the average and rates of severe blood infections that were triple the average.
That outbreak showed how dangerous Salmonella can be. Symptoms of an infection usually develop within six to 72 hours of exposure and include abdominal cramps and diarrhea that can be bloody. To learn more about Salmonella serotypes, click the link to the report at the start of this story.
Climate Change Increasing Vibrio Infections
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/climate-change-increasing-vibrio-infections/
By Linda Larsen (Aug 16, 2016)
A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that climate change is increasing the incidence of Vibrio infections in the United States. Long term ecological data analysis has found that climate change is affecting marine animal, plant, and fungi populations.
Marine prokaryotes (single celled organisms), the largest living biomass in the world’s oceans, play a fundamental role in maintaining life on the planet. Evidence has been found that, for the first time, provides a link between climate variability in the North Atlantic and the presence and spread of marine Vibrios, one of the ocean’s prokaryotes. Several species of Vibrio bacteria are responsible for infections in animals and humans.
Humans acquire Vibrio infections by eating raw or undercooked oysters or other seafood, or by swimming in contaminated water or by drinking that water. Some of the species of Vibrio that cause illness, V. vulnificus, V. alginolyticus, and V. parahaemolyticus, live in salt water and brackish water and live in plankton. Another type of Vibrio bacteria, V. cholerae, causes cholera.
The scientists used archived plankton samples collected by the Continuous Plankton Recorder survey from 1958 to 2011 and assessed the abundance of vibrios, including those that are pathogenic to people, in nine areas of the North Atlantic and the North Sea. There was a correlation with climate change and plankton number changes.
Plankton nourish Vibrio species, then oysters and other shellfish ingest the plankton and become contaminated. When people eat raw oysters or oysters that are not thoroughly cooked, they can become ill.
The study states that “long term increase in Vibrio abundance is promoted by increasing sea surface temperature (up to about 1.5°C in the past 43 years) and is positively correlated with the North Hemispheric Temperature and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation climate indices.” The actual number of Vibrio bacteria were not measured in the study, but its relative abundance of Vibrio levels in plankton was measured.
There has been an “unprecedented occurrence” of environmentally acquired Vibrio infections in the human population of Northern Europe and the Atlantic Coast of the U.S. in recent years, according to the study. In fact, Vibrio has been found in oysters harvested in the cold waters off Alaska, which is unprecedented.
Lab-confirmed Vibrio infections in the U.S. have increased from about 390 a year on average in the late 1990s to 1,030 recently. And most cases aren’t confirmed and reported to authorities, so those numbers are most likely much higher. About 100 people die from Vibrio infections in the United States every year. Most Vibrio cases occur in the warmer months from May through October.
To avoid acquiring a Vibrio infection, pay attention to warnings that are posted on various government websites about Vibrio in the water where you may swim or harvest shellfish. Don’t eat raw or undercooked shellfish. Wash your hands with soap and water after you handle raw shellfish, and keep raw seafood away from cooked shellfish and other foods that are eaten raw.
Don’t swim in areas that are under Vibrio warnings. If you do swim in salt water, stay out of the water if you have a wound. Wash any cut or wound with soap and water if exposed to sea water. And if you do develop a skin infection after being in contact with raw shellfish or swimming in salt or brackish water, see a doctor.
FDA to Publish Final Rule on GRAS; Experts Object
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/fda-to-publish-final-rule-on-gras-experts-object/
By Linda Larsen (Aug 16, 2016)
The FDA is publishing its final rule on GRAS (generally recognized as safe) substances in human and animal food tomorrow. The rule “amends and clarifies the criteria in our regulations for when the use of a substance in food for humans or animals is not subject to the premarket approval requirements of the FD&C Act because it is generally recognized as safe under the conditions of its intended use.”
Ingredients on the GRAS list don’t need to be approved by the FDA before they are added to foods, but they must adhere to the same safety standards as approved additives. The GRAS list includes substances that were in use in foods before 1958, or through scientific procedures.
But food safety experts are concerned about the rule and think that it gives companies the power to make decisions about what is GRAS and what is not. Companies will be able to add substances to food without telling the FDA. Those who make the decisions about what is added to foods may have conflicts of interest, and no one knows how “qualified” those decision-makers are.
In addition, the FDA only “strongly encourages” companies to tell the government about their GRAS decisions. The notification procedure in the rule is voluntary, not required by law.
Jessica Almy, Center for Science in the Public Interest Deputy Director of Nutrition Policy issued a statement about this matter, calling the FDA’s rule “flawed.” She said, “decisions about the safety of substances in our food supply should be transparent and unbiased. However, today’s rule gives companies a green light to make decisions about which substances are GRAS and can be added to foods – without even informing the FDA. The FDA should not allow companies to make secret, potentially biased determinations about which substances are safe enough for American families.”
Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, says that the new FDA rule on GRAS is unacceptable and fails consumers. That organization said that today’s new rule “puts an official stamp on current practice, which allows food companies to introduce new ingredients into food without any notice to FDA or the public.”
GRAS does not mean that the FDA has studied the ingredient and has declared it safe. It also does not mean that that government monitors the substance’s safety and use, although consumers think that is the case.
Laura MacCleery, Vice President of Policy and Mobilization for Consumer Reports said, “FDA missed a major opportunity to clean up the food system. This final rule on the safety of food ingredients fails consumers. Companies will still be able to introduce novel substances into food in secret, without having to show they are safe. The agency also failed to fix the rampant conflicts of interest that affect the review process for ingredients. That is unacceptable and deeply disappointing.”
Opinion: Food Safety at School
Source : http://jwcdaily.com/2016/08/16/opinion-food-safety-at-school/
By Opinion Writer (Aug 16, 2016)
In just a few weeks, summertime will be winding down and children will be heading back to school. September is National Food Safety Education Month and STOP Foodborne Illness, the leading national advocate for safe food, is shining the spotlight on ways to keep school lunches safe and kids healthy.
Now is the perfect time to educate children on food safety, both in the classroom and at home. For parents who pack lunches for their precious kiddos, STOP Foodborne Illness has tips for keeping harmful pathogens out of the lunch box and for packing safe lunches as part of your daily morning routine. We also want you to know that food safety activism isn’t just for parents. Teachers can take action as well by adding food safety to their curriculum. Use STOP’s Curriculum Materials and Education Resources for Teachers to educate your students and make a difference.
For packing your child’s lunch to prevent foodborne illness, STOP Foodborne Illness suggests:
•Keep in mind the bacteria danger zone. Bacteria grow rapidly in the temperature “danger zone” of 40-140° F.
•Wash your hands. When preparing lunches, STOP Foodborne Illness emphasizes the importance of washing your hands thoroughly and keeping all surfaces you’re working on clean. Use this as an opportunity to explain the importance of hand-washing in preventing foodborne illness.
•Use an insulated lunch box. Whether hard-sided or soft, this helps keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot until it’s time to eat them. Food safety experts agree: This is a “must have” item. Using an insulated box will help keep your child’s food out of the bacteria “danger zone.”
•Use ice packs. Another “must have,” according to STOP Foodborne Illness, these inexpensive items are vital for keeping cold foods cold. You can pick them up for about $1 each.
•Use an insulated thermos. This keeps hot foods hot, like soups, chili, or mac and cheese.
•Freeze drinks before packing. Frozen milk, juice boxes, and water bottles will help keep the drinks cold, along with other cold foods you’ve packed. Frozen items will melt during morning classes and be ready for drinking at lunch.
•Pack hot foods while hot. Don’t wait for hot foods to cool down before packing. Instead, pour piping hot foods like soups immediately into an insulated thermos. You can also preheat your thermos by filling it with boiling water, letting it sit for a few minutes, pouring out the water, and then adding your hot food.
•Wash and separate fresh fruits/veggies. STOP Foodborne Illness recommends washing produce thoroughly before packing in plastic containers to keep them away from other foods. After washing, dry produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present on the surface.
•Use individual snack packs. Portions packed from larger bags of items like pretzels, chips, and cookies means potential exposure to bacteria from many hands that have been in and out of the bag. To help prevent the spread of germs, STOP recommends using individual-sized servings.
•Add room-temperature-safe foods. Use nonperishable items or foods that do not need refrigeration like peanut butter, jelly, cookies, crackers, chips, dried fruit, and certain whole fruits.
•Encourage your child to wash their hands. Before and after eating their lunch, STOP Foodborne Illness asks you to stress how important it is to wash their hands. Hand-washing with soap and water is best, but wet wipes or hand sanitizer will work in a pinch.
•Avoid putting food on tables. Once kids are in the cafeteria, they shouldn’t put their food on the table. Pack a paper towel or some wax paper they can use instead.
•Explain the 5-second myth. Be sure your child knows that the “5-second rule” is a myth. Any food that touches the floor needs to be thrown away.
•Toss perishable food. To avoid foodborne illness, let your child know it is okay to throw away perishables like meat, poultry or egg sandwiches, if not eaten at lunchtime. Unopened, room-temperature-safe foods and uneaten fruit can be kept.
•Make sure lunch boxes are regularly cleaned and sanitized. We recommend you clean your child’s box each evening before packing the next day’s lunch. Find out more with these box cleaning tips.
Food Safety Tips for School Cafeteria Lunches
For children who eat their lunch through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), STOP Foodborne Illness believes it is imperative to teach them ways they can help prevent foodborne illness at lunchtime, too.
Though the U.S. Department of Agriculture states they are “committed to a comprehensive, coordinated approach to food safety for the NSLP,” the sad reality is that STOP Foodborne Illness has recounted numerous stories shared by parents of children who have become gravely ill from lunches served at schools.
On their website, you can find the story of Lindsay, a young girl who endured extensive health problems and horrific pain after eating a strawberry dessert served at her Michigan school that was contaminated with Hepatitis A. And Lindsay wasn’t the only victim. A huge outbreak ensued with hundreds more Michigan children getting sick with Hepatitis A from tainted strawberries.
STOP Foodborne Illness urges you to do a couple of things:
First, talk with your kids about this issue and share food safety tips they need to use, which include:
•Washing their hands. Your child should wash his/her hands before and after they eat.
•Avoiding putting food on tables. Keep it on the plate, or put a napkin down.
•Checking for undercooked food. For instance, if hamburger meat looks raw/pink, your child shouldn’t eat it. “Hot” foods that are cold in the middle should not be eaten.
•Checking for food that looks spoiled. Your child shouldn’t eat vegetables or fruits that are wilting, have mold, or look discolored. Help your child learn more with these tips.
•Reporting unsanitary conditions. Examples include: Cafeteria workers not wearing gloves or hairnets, surfaces or equipment that are dirty, yellowish water flowing from a drinking fountain, and bugs or rodents roaming around. If your child sees these kinds of unacceptable conditions, they should report it to a school authority ASAP.
•Inspect the cafeteria yourself. STOP Foodborne Illness urges every parent to make a personal visit to their child’s school and take a good look around the kitchen and cafeteria. Anything that looks like a possible food safety hazard should be reported to school authorities.
Feel free to use STOP’s factsheet Rylee & Rusty Discuss Food Safety; a kid-friendly way to start a conversation with your children about food safety.
Next, STOP asks that you become an advocate for improved school food safety practices. Start by reviewing this Food-Safe Schools Action Guide published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s intended for school nutrition directors, but it’s an excellent resource for parents, too. This guide helps bring together all aspects of safety that need to be considered when serving food in schools. It’ll help you become aware of regulations, ask good questions, and take action on anything you feel isn’t up to snuff.
Contact your legislators easily using the STOP Foodborne Illness Legislative Action Center. Urge them to keep school lunches safe.
Letter submitted by advocacy group STOP Foodborne Illness, a national, nonprofit, public health organization dedicated to preventing illness and death from foodborne pathogens by advocating for sound public policies, building public awareness and assisting those impacted by foodborne illness. For more food safety tips please visit www.stopfoodborneillness.org/awareness/. If you think you have been sickened from food, check and contact your local health professional. For questions and personal assistance, please contact STOP Foodborne Illness’ Community Coordinator, Stanley Rutledge, at email@example.com or 773-269-6555 x7.
After Salmonella Outbreak Health Officials Warn: Hire Caterers With a Permit
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/after-salmonella-outbreak-health-officials-warn-hire-caterers-with-a-permit/
By Carla Gillespie (Aug 16, 2016)
After a Salmonella outbreak in Washington state was linked to Mr. Rick’s, a caterer operating without a permit for years, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department issued a consumer advisory about the importance of choosing a caterer with a permit to operate.
At least 175 people from a number of counties were sickened in the outbreak. All of them attended events catered by Mr. Rick’s.
“Local caterers with the appropriate permit to prepare and serve food at events are responsible for following food safety rules—and protecting the public’s health,” said Rachel Knight, food safety program manager at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.
Hiring a caterer with a permit is one way to reduce the risk of food poisoning, the advisory states. In doing so, you are hiring a company that: employs staff trained in food safety; uses an approved, kitchen that is regularly inspected; and has the proper equipment to safely prepare, transport and serve food.
Caterers are also responsible for providing the following facilities if the venue does not have them: restrooms with handwashing; hot and cold running water and handwashing sinks separate from the restroom; equipment to keep food hot and cold and a protected area for food preparation and assembly, according to the advisory.
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection include nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea that can be bloody. Anyone who ate sprouts at a restaurant and develops these symptoms should see a doctor and mention possible exposure to Salmonella. And contact the health department.
New regs for Tuesday: Pipelines, calories, food safety
Source : http://thehill.com/regulation/291439-new-regs-for-tuesday-pipelines-calories-food-safety
By Tim Devaney (Aug 15, 2016)
Tuesday’s edition of the Federal Register contains new rules for abandoned pipelines, food safety requirements and calorie labeling regulations.
Here’s what is happening:
Food safety: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is moving forward with new rules for foods that are generally recognized as safe.
These substances are not subject to premarket approval, according to the FDA.
The changes go into effect in 60 days.
Pipelines: The Department of Transportation is moving forward with new rules for abandoned pipelines.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued an advisory bulletin Monday for the owners of abandoned pipelines that carried hazardous liquid, carbon dioxide, or gas.
Before abandoning a pipeline, operators must “purge all combustibles and seal any facilities left in place."
"To the extent feasible, owners and operators have a responsibility to assure facilities for which they are responsible or last owned do not present a hazard to people, property or the environment,” the agency wrote.
The advisory bulletin goes into effect immediately.
Calories: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is issuing a draft guidance for vending machine companies looking to comply with new calorie labeling regulations.
The FDA will require vending machine operators to list the number of calories in the foods they sell. The draft guidance issued Monday provides further recommendations for companies that must comply with the rules.
The public has 45 days to comment on the draft guidance.
Big data and IoT solve food safety and supply challenges
Source : http://www.techrepublic.com/article/big-data-and-iot-solve-food-safety-and-supply-challenges/
By Mary Shacklett (Aug 13, 2016)
Discover why big data and the Internet of Things are proving to be so effective in the food industry, and what other industries can learn from these use cases.
Grocery stores operate on paper-thin profit margins, and cannot afford to overstock inventories or to let food go to waste. Grocers and food suppliers also want to avoid food contamination issues that can negatively impact their reputations and discourage consumers from doing business with them.
For stakeholders in both of these groups, big data is making a difference by helping them manage food chain supply challenges. Here's what's happening.
SEE: How big data is changing farming (PDF download)
Benefits of IoT, barcodes, and traceability
Barcode and sensor-based Internet of Things (IoT) data is being applied to food chains from their points of origin (e.g., in the orchard where apples are picked) to their follow-up destinations in processing plants, storage warehouses, distribution points, and in the grocery stores. The end-to-end tracking and traceability that sensors and barcodes provide enable store chains, food brands, and goods supply networks to quickly identify points of origin and distribution if it's discovered that food is contaminated. This facilitates rapid mitigation of a situation.
In 2011, President Obama signed into law strict food monitoring and traceability measures that included traceability data such as the box or case of fruit, its point of origin, the name of the product, the name of the transportation provider, etc. The information is captured and recorded in a central database. "This information is vital for meeting the new requirement of tracing the product 'one forward and one back,' in each point of the supply chain," said Don Ratliff, co-executive director of Georgia Tech's Supply Chain & Logistics Institute, in an interview with Material Handling & Logic.
SEE: The power of IoT and big data (Tech Pro Research)
Trucks carrying produce and other foods to market are now equipped with sensors so that logistics providers can see where these vehicles are located on their routes at any point in time. This IoT-facilitated data visibility allows transport providers and those who employ them to make on-the-spot decisions, such as re-routing a truck to Washington. D.C. from Atlanta because of a food shortage for a particular item that the truck is carrying in the D.C. area.
Greater inventory visibility
The ability to get foods into stores for sale quickly and then to monitor sales is extremely important when you manage tight profit margins, and you want to avoid prolonged times on food sitting on the shelf. Grocers now use inventory barcodes and sensor-collected data to determine how quickly food inventory is consumed so that stocking levels can be set to meet but not exceed demand.
Extra insurance that food stays safe
Refrigerated goods and other foodstuffs that require being maintained at certain temperature and humidity levels are now packed inside of sealed containers that are equipped with IoT sensors and monitoring. The sensor on the inside of a container can send out alerts to a central network if there is a detected malfunction in the temperature or humidity controls, or if the sensor detects that a container seal has been broken. This enables personnel in the food supply chain to immediate mitigate the situation, thereby reducing the threats of food contamination and spoilage.
SEE: Big data's vital role in solving urgent food safety problems
What other industries can learn from these use cases
These food chain big data successes have exponentially improved performance for grocery stores and those who produce and ship food for them. There are three valuable things that other industries can learn from these use cases.
1: Stick with very specific, tightly defined projects
When it was determined that sensors placed in containers could detect food container environmentals and seal breakage and then transmit alerts to a central network, that was what food and transport companies focused on—they didn't try to make the business case too big.
2: Look for results in revenues or cost savings
Sensors in food containers alerted staff to flawed environmentals so they could quickly remedy the situation, saving food from spoilage or contamination. Results like this easily translate into saved dollars and improved profit margins.
3: Work on one IoT technology at a time
The goal in tracking trucks on routes was to ensure that the most optimal time and safety routes were taken and also to more readily reroute trucks with produce and other perishable goods to the markets that most needed them.
For this purpose, companies in food and logistics instrumented sensors, IoT, and networks to track the whereabouts of trucks. This single application of IoT resulted in many benefits, including better inventory management and customer fulfillment. They kept it simple by implementing only one IoT technology concept.
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