5-Second Rule Depends on the Food Dropped and the Contact Surface
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/5-second-rule-depends-on-food-and-contact-surface/
By News Desk (Sep 11, 2016)
A Rutgers University study looked whether the “5-second rule” is a reality or a myth. For those few who are not familiar with this rule, it states that food that drops to the floor and is picked up in less than 5 seconds is safe to eat.
The Rutgers study, published online in the American Society for Microbiology’s journal, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, looked at four different foods, surfaces and contact times. The four foods were watermelon, bread, bread with butter, and gummy candy. The four surfaces were stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet. The four contact times were less than one, 5, 30 and 300 seconds.
The study found that “some transfer takes place ‘instantaneously’ at times <1 s, disproving the ‘five-second rule’.” For example, watermelon got contaminated as soon as it touched the contaminant on the surface, regardless of the surface. However, with bread, bread and butter, and gummy candies, the transfer was negligible in less than 5 seconds, even 30 seconds in some cases. In almost all cases, the longer the food sat on the surface, the greater the number of microorganisms on the food.
Watermelon was the food with the highest and fastest transfer rate. The authors of the study hypothesized that this was because of it being moist and a flatter surface.
Surprisingly, carpet transferred the least amount to all four foods.
The 5-second rule was not totally debunked. Time does matter, unless the food is wet, then there is no time, only contaminated matter.
For the study, the microorganism used was Enterobacter aerogenes, which is similar to Salmonella bacteria, but harmless to humans. Below is a three-dimensional, computer-generated image of one serotype of Salmonella bacteria. The hairy-looking protrusions are fimbriae, which help the cell attach to the wall of the human intestine. The longer protrusions are flagella, which are used for movement. Once Samonella are ingested, they can cause severe illness, even death. Salmonella are only one of the many dangerous pathogens that can be on floors and other surfaces. They are invisible to the naked eye, therefore undetectable on a piece of food dropped on the floor. Regardless of whether the 5-second rule is reality or myth, food dropped on a floor should probably not be eaten.
Change is what’s predictable about the future of food safety
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/09/whats-predictable-about-the-future-of-food-safety-change/#.V9YHJk4eaUl
By Darin Detwiler (Sep 10, 2016)
The third-annual Food Safety and Analysis Congress, held earlier this week at Cripps Court Auditorium on the beautiful campus of the University of Cambridge in England, brought together leaders from industry and academia to discuss the latest on foodborne illness surveillance and food fraud. I traveled to the event to serve as one of only three speakers representing the United States.
The congress chair, Dr. Arun Bhunia from Purdue University, stressed the event’s unofficial theme of change as he urged that continued advancements in science be put to use earlier in the overall food production lifecycle. While retail surveillance is too reactive and the active screening and testing in post-harvest facilities has not shown to reduce outbreaks and recalls, advancement in pre-harvest surveillance technology is needed to proactively mitigate the risks from pathogens and toxins.
Michele Suman, from Barilla Research Labs in Italy, continued with the notion of change, sharing how changes in technologies and in management approaches have impacted the reduction of mycotoxins for his company. One such change in mitigation of mycotoxins is in physical and chemical processing. Here, though they start with commodities that are already below limits, a better understanding of the process impacts and how they may actually increase mycotoxin levels has resulted in the company taking steps to further reduce levels so as not to later exceed them.
Another area of change discussed by presenters was climate change. Dr. Rudolf Krska, from Vienna, Austria, showed how studies of Aflatoxin B1 in maize produced data that hint at changes in temperatures forcing plant pathogens and pests to move locations at about 1.5 to 3 miles per year from the equator to the poles. Dr. John O’Brien, deputy head of the Nestlé Research Center in Switzerland, echoed the concerns over climate change as part of the changing reality framing food safety for consumers. O’Brien reminded the audience, however, that while science cannot undo the effects of climate change, it can be used to reduce the impact on food.
I delivered a presentation which focused on a different kind of climate change: political change. This election season has been notable for candidates’ lack of even mentioning food safety, or even implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act this month. Experts agree that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will most likely have a negative overall impact on food safety and on environmental policies. Another point concerning recent political topics is that food safety over larger geographical regions will most likely suffer from building barriers (or “walls”), as well as from countries exiting unions.
Food fraud dominated the discussion of change on day two. Grant Cropper, a compliance training manager in the U.K., stated that with the prevalence of “Big Data,” supply chain risk and resilience processes need to see advancements in terms of integrity and assurance of food supply for fraudulent food. Allergens and labeling serve as major driving factors as incidents throughout Europe have shown significant deficiencies in leadership and intelligence gathering. And failure to place more emphasis on food safety assurance now will inevitably lead to another food fraud or safety incident like the 2013 horsemeat scandal.
Cropper shared that a recent three-year survey of U.K. food companies revealed 63 percent submitted inadequate HACCP plans and procedures, while 74 percent of product recall and crisis management documents needed improvement. As a result, food crimes are causing changes in insurance for food companies. Cropper’s suggestions to resolve these deficiencies include more needed changes: greater education and greater government support to small and medium companies.
Food crime is not new and has long existed; however, the severe dishonesty behind food crimes is viewed as a recent trend. Today food is being seen by criminals as a means of making money. The horsemeat incident awoke a need for national leadership on food crime. Proactivity is seen as having been absent at the time of that scandal. Andy Morling, head of the U.K.’s new National Food Crime Unit, has the job of looking for it before it finds consumers again.
Morling discussed how his job is not about making new laws or new punishments as much as ensuring that the government can better use existing laws pertaining to fraud. The certainty of a punishment for food criminals is a more important tool than the severity of the punishment. His unit has a three-pronged mission: to pursue (detection), to protect the food industry, and to prevent people from becoming involved in food crime.
John Coady, chief audit and investigations manager for the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, emphasized the current economic pressures behind food fraud by sharing how his agency found companies using suppliers known to be behind the horsemeat scandal or similar incidents. One recent change is that consumers are no longer the only ones to suffer from consequences. Companies desiring to buy at lower and lower prices “for the purpose of vast profits” are now facing significant consequences. This is a shift in the judicial priority on such cases. Coady pointed to the words of one judge presiding over a trial on food in which he stated that profits from food fraud are funding organized crime.
Two interesting Q&A takeaways include the merging of food fraud and food defense as a national effort, as well as the role of technology in communication. Attendees and presenters agree that the overlapping concerns of food fraud and defense are many and that, through combining, emphasis and support on one end will only improve the other.
O’Brien reminded us of the words of George Bernard Shaw: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” While new communication technologies allow for better collection of data, they certainly open opportunities for greater communication regarding food for consumers.
My concern over this notion is the shortsightedness with the sole use of printed URLs or QR Codes for informing U.S. consumers (as opposed to actually printing consumer information.) This can be seen with the Roberts-Stabenow Compromise Bill, passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Obama back in July, to create a mandatory national labeling standard for GMO foods. What good is a label if a large percentage of consumers cannot read or access the information due to our digital divide? Further, will this use of URLs or QR Codes set a precedent that allows companies to replace safe handling instructions or allergen warnings with such limited-access technologies?
(Editor’s note: Food Safety News was a media partner of this year’s Food Safety and Analysis Congress.)
Rodent activity in storage area prompts huge recall of meat, poultry products
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/09/rodent-activity-in-meat-and-poultry-storage-area-requires-331-4-ton-recall/#.V9YHV04eaUl
By News Desk (Sep 10, 2016)
chickenwings_406x250Beebe, AR-based MIH Marketing and Sales recalled approximately 662,049 pounds of various meat and poultry products on Saturday that were stored under insanitary conditions, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
The raw chicken breast fillet, chicken thigh, chicken drumstick, chicken wing, and chicken tender items were produced by various federal establishments and sold at 17 retail stores located in Arkansas between April 10, 2016, and Sept. 10, 2016. These products were in clear packages weighing approximately five pounds each.
Products were sold at the following locations:
•Edwards Food Giant #19 Forrest City, AR;
•Edwards Cash Saver #3473 Little Rock, AR;
•Edwards Food Giant #37 Marianna, AR;
•Edwards Good Giant #3474 Little Rock, AR;
•Edwards Food Giant #1710 Harrisburg, AR;
•Edwards Food Giant #3475 Little Rock, AR;
•Edwards Food Giant #3444 Bryant, AR;
•Edwards Cash Saver #3476; Edwards Cash Saver #3442 and Edwards Food Giant #3477, and Knight’s Super Foods, Beebe AR, and,
•Knight’s Super Foods, Babot, AR.
In addition, various retail meat and poultry products sold at Chicken City Retail stores are being recalled. These products are in clear retail bags with a sales sticker that include a Sell-By Date of between Oct. 30, 2016, and March 19, 2017.
The Chicken City Retail Stores that are recalling all meat and poultry products are located in Whitehall, AR; Jonesboro, AR; Conway, AR; Searcy, AR; Marion, AR; North Little Rock, AR, and Brinkley, AR.
The problem was discovered by the FSIS Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audits (OIEA) during routine food defense surveillance activities. The FSIS OIEA investigator discovered that the product was being stored under insanitary conditions, including rodent activity, in the storage areas of the property. FSIS and the establishment detained the remaining product. The items subsequently tested positive for alkaline phosphatase, demonstrating evidence of possible fecal matter.
There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. FSIS has received no additional reports of injury or illness from consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.
Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.
FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website.
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The Companies Trying To Track Everything We Eat, From Seed To Stomach
Source : https://www.fastcompany.com/3063134/food-safety-track-and-trace-data
By Corie Brown (Sep 8, 2016)
For a startup founder, Charlie Sweat carries a particularly heavy burden. In 2006, he was CEO of Earthbound Farm, the California-based farm and factory that produces the majority of the country’s packaged organic salads, when an E. coli outbreak struck the company’s spinach. Three people died, and 200 more were sickened. The source, investigators later surmised, was likely at the source of the spinach: an Angus cattle ranch that had leased land to a spinach grower.
The experience left Sweat unnerved, but it gave him an idea, too. Preventing outbreaks was a matter of knowing where the tainted food came from. But for legacy food companies, supply chain transparency is a daunting task, complicated by a vast number of suppliers, plants, distributors, and products. Different producers use different tagging systems and different sensors to track different things. Piecing together the details of what comes from where and goes where from seed to table had never really been done successfully before. If it could be, the implications for both public health, corporate transparency, and anti-counterfeiting efforts would be huge: Between food and pharmaceuticals, the market for tracking technologies is expected to grow to an expected revenue of $14.1 billion by 2020, according to a report by Allied Market Research in 2014.
That year, Sweat stepped down from Earthbound, capping a 16-year stint at the company, but he took his idea with him. A few months later, with money from the owners of Earthbound, friends and family and investors, he founded Frequentz, a Palo Alto-based startup that touts a comprehensive "track-and-trace" system for food safety—like FedEx tracking, but for each piece of the food supply chain, from seed to table.
Sweat says that by uploading and integrating any kind of data collected from any kind of tag or sensor, the system can discover the source of a food-borne pathogen, be it a contaminated farm or a broken refrigeration unit. The data could not only help companies identify inefficiencies on their supply chain, but also meet a rising crop of food safety regulations, and help satisfy our growing hunger for more transparency about the foods we eat. Named for the frequency of updates required for a transparent food supply chain, Frequentz aims to slash the number of food-borne illness outbreaks—and make a killing among efficiency- and transparency-conscious food companies.
"Since it is possible now to know everything about your product, the stakes are much higher if you haven’t done everything you can to validate what you sell," says Sweat.
The food safety problem alone is immense and costly. Last year, Food Safety magazine counted 622 food safety recalls globally due to contamination, with each recall estimated to mean losses on average of $10 million. Food-borne pathogens affect as many as 48 million Americans a year, and according to research by Robert Scharff, an associate professor at Ohio State University, the annual cost of medical treatment, lost productivity, and illness-related mortality is $55.5 billion.
There's also the threat of illegal practices like unregulated fishing or adulteration, in which suppliers might add something to food to lower their costs. Said to be most prevalent in liquids such as olive oil and in powders such as spices, this form of fraud is estimated to cost the industry $10 billion to $15 billion a year. In one example last year, ground cumin had been covertly mixed with peanut protein, prompting about 20 recalls and leading the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to issue a consumer warning.
The Frequentz software, custom-designed for each client, depends in part on a growing transportation "internet of things," including sensors on food crates, in trucks, and on packages. It's built to accept mobile data from sensors measuring the condition of produce, such as freshness and temperature, as well as scanners picking up packing label data and geographic coordinates. Unlike its handful of competitors, including HarvestMark and FoodLogiQ, Sweat says Frequentz has been designed to combine any data collected from any sensor.
Data from even the smallest farms and fishing vessels can be uploaded on the fly. Eventually, says Sweat, consumers at supermarkets will be able to access that data on their smartphones, including whether a product is fair trade, was harvested or made by workers earning living wages, or contains GMOs or gluten.
The concept of "track and trace" for food is still a relatively new one for the legacy supply chains that bring the world its food. So far, the cost of such systems has been prohibitive for the food industry, which, despite trillion-dollar revenues in the U.S. alone, faces persistently thin margins. That hesitation can be seen in Frequentz's business: In its first year, 2014, sales totaled $3 million; last year’s inched up to $4.5 million.
That calculus began to change last year, after an estimated 500 people fell ill after eating at Chipotle outlets in several states, most from norovirus. At least 60 suffered salmonella poisoning and more than 50 ate E. coli-contaminated food. (E. coli and salmonella bacteria tend to originate in feces and usually reach humans through raw or undercooked meat and other foods.) According to Chipotle, sales at locations that have been open for more than a year were down 23.6% for the quarter ending July 2016. Profits fell to $25.6 million from $140.2 million the year before.
Investors weren’t kind either: After shutting down all of its stores for safety training and giving away 6 million free burritos to generate a bit of positive PR, the restaurant chain lost nearly half its market capitalization from its pre-crisis high, or close to $11 billion. Chipotle executives have said they believe it could take 18 months for the stock price to recover. In a report, Deutsche Bank analyst Brett Levy noted Chipotle's willingness to take drastic action, "but we also question whether [Chipotle] will ever regain its lost luster."
Chipotle’s failure to promptly resolve and explain the outbreaks—and to offer more transparency to its customers—caused other companies to take notice, says Sweat. Now, Frequentz’s customers include food-based subsidiaries of the $65-billion German retail giant Metro AG, and he has projects in development at Costco and the Campbell Soup Co.
"If you can respond proactively in real time and explain to consumers what happened during an outbreak and how you are going to keep it from happening again, you can retain that consumer," says Sweat. "Chipotle’s revenues are still down. Consumers vote with their wallets."
Frequentz is also spreading out to the pharmaceutical industry, and expects cosmetics and personal products to soon embrace ingredient tracking as well. The company has received a total of $20 million in equity investment as well as investments from insiders and owners, with Sweat the largest individual investor. This month, Sweat says Frequentz will complete a Series C financing round led by investment firm Capricorn Healthcare & Special Opportunities, which also provided seed financing.
For its part, Chipotle recently launched its own track-and-trace program with one of Frequentz’s competitors, Durham, North Carolina-based FoodLogiQ. Chipotle had previously relied on its own tracking system, but last year's outbreak exposed a critical lapse: Once ingredients got to stores, all tracking stopped. Tomatoes, for instance, from any number of sources, were mixed together during food prep.
That's why, even after an extensive investigation by the Centers for Disease Control, the exact source of the two Chipotle outbreaks was never found. In February, the CDC concluded its investigation without tracking down exactly which food or ingredient was responsible, citing the problem of ingredients mixed at stores. Chipotle welcomed the decision.
Chris Arnold, a Chipotle representative, said the company now knows which supplier sent which item to which restaurant using package bar codes, "in much the same way overnight delivery services track package shipments around the world," with the aim of tracking food "from seed to stomach." With FoodLogiQ, they now track every ingredient all the way through food preparation. If you get sick at Chipotle and you know where you ate and what time, the company can more readily nail the source of the contamination.
Track-and-trace companies like Frequentz, FoodLogiQ, and HarvestMark specialize in gathering and analyzing data around the movement of food, but actually detecting viruses and bacteria on site is a different challenge. Other startups like Clear Labs, Ancera, and SnapDNA are racing to market with faster, cheaper, more reliable mobile pathogen tests, aimed at identifying the pathogens responsible for an outbreak in just hours and accelerating a process that typically takes weeks.
Working together, tracking and testing technology companies could make future food-borne pathogen outbreaks inexcusable. After a recent E. coli outbreak in flour sickened hundreds, the maker of the flour, General Mills, recalled 45 million pounds of it, about 2% of its annual output, and issued a set of recommendations to the Food and Drug Administration, including that it convene experts focused on identifying long-term solutions, like whole genome sequencing.
Still, supply chain transparency remains a venture fund backwater, with few new companies entering the space. Investments are relatively small—a few million dollars each. Tracking ingredients is a time-consuming slough that technology makes possible, but not easy. Most food companies are waiting for costs to come down, says Melissa Tilney, cofounder of AgFunder, a company that tracks investments in agriculture and food technology. "This is not considered the land of technology unicorns."
After using Frequentz for a year and a half, Andres Cuka, chief operating officer at Marbelize, a giant Ecuador-based tuna processor, estimates it may be another three years before the Frequentz system pays for itself. That estimate is based not just on improved efficiencies, but on the assumption that increased transparency will allow him to raise prices and convince consumers to buy more Marbelize tuna.
Still, Sweat believes the food industry is at a tipping point, as consumers start to demand more transparent labeling. A law passed in May 2014 in Vermont pushed Congress to create a more comprehensive national food labeling law requiring GMO disclosure, which President Obama signed into law last month.
"This is going to drive more communication between consumers and food producers," Sweat says. "It is a communication Frequentz facilitates."
That level of transparency is valuable for small vendors as well, says Rob Trice, a partner in Better Food Ventures, a two-year-old seed stage food-tech investment fund. He’s invested in eHarvestHub, a startup providing mobile tagging and tracking to small family farms, enabling them to work efficiently with larger distributors and retailers. "Investors are fuming about Chipotle," says Trice. "Starting now, companies are expected to have this technology in place."
Marbelize, which moves 4,000 tons of fish a month sold under 950 different labels around the world, turned to Frequentz a year ago when it wanted to distance itself from the proliferation of illegal fishing operations.
The system is designed to log events as simple as when a box of canned tuna moves from a truck to a processing plant or as complex as turning that tuna into a frozen entree. "We verify every time there is a chain of custody event or transformative event of the product," Sweat says.
"If we could identify ourselves as having met all of the certifications—we are ‘dolphin safe’—it increases our marketability," says Cuka, of Marbelize. "Consumers want to know where their tuna comes from, how it is caught. We want to show them everything about our tuna."
Today, when a Marbelize boat hauls in a catch, the captain stands on deck with a computer tablet in hand taking photos that show the species, the dimensions of individual fish, and the abundance of the catch. The photos record the geolocation of the fishing boat, proving the catch was in legal waters. "We can see all of this in real time long before the boat comes in," says Cuka. Formerly hidden operating inefficiencies, he adds, are now becoming obvious.
This year, Sweat has also signed up the Honduran Ministry of Fisheries, representing 2,400 fishing companies, and is negotiating with Myanmar’s wild shrimp industry, which has as many as 20,000 fishing vessels. "They have to have electronic solutions that validate their seafood was caught legally and sustainably" to comply with international fishing regulations, he says.
To Cuka, the dream is that consumers at the grocery store will someday be able to scan a QR code on a tuna can and see the photos of the fish at the moment of capture.
Millennials in particular want to know what they are putting in their bodies, says Eve Turow Paul, author of A Taste of Generation Yum, who consults with food companies about how to reach this target market. The trick to a premium price can be as simple as wrapping food in clear plastic, as Kind does with its bars.
"[Millennials] are anxious about an uncertain world and lack trust in the big companies that dominate it," Paul says. Often the only thing they feel they can control is what they eat, or don’t eat. Thanks largely to millennial consumers, transparency now "is not negotiable," Campbell’s senior manager for corporate social responsibility Niki King told a gathering of food and agriculture company executives this month during a webinar sponsored by the Center for Food Integrity, a food industry advocacy group. With no clear definition for "ethical," "sustainable," or even "healthy," complete transparency is becoming the universal standard for a company’s trustworthiness with consumers.
After Chipotle, track-and-trace technologies are simply "a cost of being in the food business," says Charlie Piper, who recently stepped down as the CEO of HarvestMark. Still, he warns, the technologies alone are only as effective at monitoring the supply chain as the human beings who manage it. "The client has to be focused on continued improvement," he says.
Chipotle's new track-and-trace system, FoodLogiQ, is the most established of the new track-and-trace service companies. Eight years ago, after a mad cow disease outbreak in Canada, FoodLogiQ’s parent company Clarkston Consulting was hired to create a birth-to-slaughter tracing system for beef. In 2013, operating as a wholly owned subsidiary, FoodLogiQ was hired to design the track-and-trace system for Wholefoods’ "Responsibly Grown" program, which ranks produce suppliers on environmental sustainability.
FoodLogiQ’s business took off last fall when it was able to move its clients from paper spreadsheets to a cloud-based software service that could be accessed anywhere via smartphones.
"Our clients don’t need their own servers now. They don’t need an IT department," says Dean Wiltse, FoodLogiQ's CEO, echoing a mantra now heard throughout the growing cloud services industry. Revenues at the privately held company are expected to triple this year, he says. "Brands need to get their supply chain in order. They are being called to task."
He echoes Sweat, underscoring that supply chain transparency will eventually sweep through all food-related supply chains for the cost savings alone.
"We cut the time spent dealing with suppliers in half," he says. He tells customers to expect $1 savings for every 25 cents they invest in track-and-trace services.
Sweat's chief selling point is regulatory compliance, but he closes deals by talking about saving money, through efficiencies and lower insurance rates. At Earthbound, he says, "we were able to show our insurance carriers that we reduced product recalls and reduced the cost of goods. So they reduced our insurance premiums."
None of this was obvious until recently. Five years ago, HarvestMark, another seed-to-table service inspired by the Earthbound E. coli outbreak, partnered with the Cincinnati, Ohio-based grocery chain Kroger to provide detailed supply chain information on food products in a few of its stores.
"Kroger stopped it after one year," says HarvestMark founder Elliott Grant, who cited the cost—two cents per SKU, or individual inventory item—as impossible to justify.
There was another lesson too: People buying fish didn’t necessarily want to see their future dinner on the hook.
"We learned consumers don’t really care that much. They want to trust that the store where they shop has done this work. They don’t want to do it themselves." In 2011, Grant sold HarvestMark for an undisclosed amount to ag-tech giant Trimble Navigation, which posted sales of $2.5 billion in 2015.
Today, HarvestMark, which unlike Frequentz relies on proprietary QR-code labels, counts among its clients Sam’s Club, Woolworth’s of Australia, and Driscoll’s, the Watsonville, California, fresh berry company.
Driscoll’s packs berries in the field into the individual plastic clamshells that shoppers pick up in the grocery store. The fruit is never washed. No one touches the berries after the picker closes the clamshell. Driscoll’s has long coded each case of clamshells and tracked them to store shelves, allowing fast, easy trace-back in cases of contamination.
Five years ago, the company hired HarvestMark to help it create a system to add their QR codes to each individual berry clamshell package they sell. Consumers could then use their smartphones to scan the code on the package they bought into the company’s website and tell Driscoll’s exactly what they thought about the berries they had just eaten. Using that QR code, the company could trace those berries back through every inch of the distribution trail, from the customer on their website to the field where they could identify the picker by name.
It turns out people are passionate about their berries. The flood of detailed and actionable data direct from consumers—the condition of the berries, the condition of the store where they were purchased—made expensive focus group market research obsolete. Soon, kinks in the supply chain became more apparent. Rather than blaming the farmers for less than perfect berries, Driscoll’s knew which drivers turned off their truck refrigeration to save gas, and which stores' refrigeration was broken.
Driscoll’s system has greatly advanced the market for berries, says Soren Bjorn, Driscoll’s executive vice president for the Americas. As quality improved and became more consistent, demand grew. This occasional luxury became a must-have fruit. "It was an a-ha moment for us," he says.
"It has taken a lot of the tension out of our relationships with growers," says Bjorn. The system quickly paid for itself. "There is less waste, improved sales, increased consumer loyalty. Overall berry quality has increased, which allows us to charge a premium price. We sell a billion clamshells of berries a year. If we could grow more berries, we could sell them."
A transparent connection with growers can present challenges. Veteran farm workers—some of whom hail from indigenous communities from Oaxaca, Mexico, and who are often paid by the weight of their haul—are fighting for fairer pay and working conditions. Workers at Washington state’s family-owned berry farm and packaging plant Sakuma Brothers have called for a national boycott of Driscoll’s berries—the primary purchaser of Sakuma blueberries and blackberries—hoping to enlist the brand’s customers in their cause.
Dan Sun, the Trimble executive responsible for bringing HarvestMark into the company and its new CEO, says food safety and regulatory requirements are the initial draw for clients. Perhaps, 15% of the companies that purchase HarvestMark services pursue supply chain transparency strictly to satisfy consumer demand. Overall, cost savings are now the stronger incentive.
Internal studies show clients experience a 20% to 30% reduction in product waste, he says. For a large food company, that can translate into billions of dollars in savings. "We make sure the supply chain is tight enough that the food reaches the grocery store shelf without waste," says Sun. "The food and agriculture industry is very conservative, but when they see the savings, they change. I’m surprised there aren’t more players offering track-and-trace."
These are early days for this technology, says Sweat. Prospective clients want the results. Overhauling their systems, however, is daunting. "Big changes like this take time."
Food Standards Scotland declares E. coli outbreak officially over
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/09/incident-management-team-stands-down-as-scotlands-e-coli-outbreak-declared-over/#.V9YJC04eaUl
By News Desk (Sep 8, 2016)
Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has issued a statement on its involvement with a multi-agency Incident Management Team (IMT), chaired by Health Protection Scotland, which had been investigating an outbreak of E. coli O157 in Scotland.
FSS announced that the team “has stood down” as of Sept. 5, when it declared the outbreak over, and that FSS is now working with South Lanarkshire Council in continuing its food safety investigations.
Previously, it was reported that the team was still in charge of the investigation and was not declaring the outbreak over.
The outbreak involves 20 confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7, 11 of which required hospitalization and one that FSS said involves the “sad death of a child,” whose family has asked for complete privacy.
“The family’s right to privacy has been respected throughout the investigation and FSS trusts that the media will continue to respect that privacy,” the FSS statement read. No information about the child’s identity has been released.
During the outbreak, FSS stated that two batches of Dunsyre Blue cheese were implicated based on epidemiological evidence and that they were voluntarily recalled from sale by Errington Cheese Ltd. on July 28. The daughter of the company’s founder, however, claims no DNA testing has confirmed the epidemiological report.
FSS noted that it has acted as part of a multi-agency team, which has not been drawn into the public speculation and debate that the outbreak has generated. The now-disbanded IMT focused on investigating the outbreak. The IMT’s priority was public safety, and all of its decisions and actions were taken on that basis, according to the statement.
The agency’s statutory duty is to protect public health, and FSS stated that it fully recognizes the importance of the food sector to Scotland’s economy.
“It is a flourishing sector and key to that is trust that what is being produced is safe and fit for human consumption,” FSS stated.
One of the key objectives of the agency, as set out in its recently published Strategy to 2021 – Shaping Scotland’s Food Future, is to enable responsible businesses to flourish. Proportionality is always a key part of FSS’s considerations — to ensure fairness to businesses and also to ensure that consumers are given information upon which they can choose to act, the agency stated.
During the course of the investigation, FSS issued one public recall information notice following Errington Cheese Ltd.’s voluntary recall of its Dunsyre Blue cheese, which is made with unpasteurized cow’s milk. This is a standard practice that happens on a regular basis, as can be seen from other product recalls posted on FSS’s website, according to the agency.
It is the legal responsibility of food businesses to produce safe food, FSS stated. Food businesses are required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that all hazards and risks are identified in the production of their products and that the food they produce is safe.
“Those reasonable steps need to be taken before any product is placed on the market,” the agency stated, adding, “The responsibility of all food business is to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to prevent contamination and ensure the food they place on the market is safe to eat.”
Pasteurization significantly reduces harmful bacteria, including STEC, and that is why FSS advises vulnerable groups, including pregnant women, children and the elderly, not to consume raw, unpasteurized milk and dairy products such as cheese made from unpasteurized milk due to the increased risk of food poisoning.
Raw milk is classed as a high-risk food because it is not pasteurized, the agency noted.
“The focus of effort for FSS and South Lanarkshire Council for the time being is on ensuring that all appropriate controls are in place to protect the safety of consumers. Actions will continue to be determined by what is necessary to protect public health and the interests of consumers,” the FSS statement concluded.
Over 100 with Hepatitis A Tied to Tropical Smoothie Cafe
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/over-100-with-hepatitis-a-tied-to-tropical-smoothie-cafe/#.V9YJf04eaUl
By Bill Marler (Sep 8, 2016)
Several states, CDC, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are continuing to investigate a multistate outbreak of foodborne hepatitis A.
Information available at this time does not indicate an ongoing risk of acquiring hepatitis A virus infection at Tropical Smoothie Café’s,, as the contaminated food product has been removed as of August 8.
Symptoms of hepatitis A virus infection can take up to 50 days to appear. As a result, CDC continues to identify cases of hepatitis A related to the initial contaminated product.
103 people with hepatitis A have been reported from seven states: Maryland (14), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Oregon (1), Virginia (80), West Virginia (5), and Wisconsin (1).
39 ill people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
Epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicate frozen strawberries imported from Egypt are the likely source of this outbreak.
In interviews, nearly all ill people interviewed reported drinking smoothies containing strawberries at Tropical Smoothie Café locations prior to August 8 in a limited geographical area, including Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Hepatitis A outbreaks. The Hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Hepatitis A and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our Hepatitis A lawyers have litigated Hepatitis A cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as green onions, lettuce and restaurant food. The law firm has brought Hepatitis A lawsuits against such companies as Subway, McDonald’s, Chipotle, Quiznos and Carl’s Jr.
If you or a family member became ill with a Hepatitis A infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Hepatitis A attorneys for a free case evaluation.
Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services report E. coli Cluster
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/columbiaboone-county-department-of-public-health-and-human-services-report-e-coli-cluster/#.V9YJxE4eaUl
PBy Denis Stearns (Sep 7, 2016)
The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services has confirmed four cases of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 , and two probable cases in Boone County preschool and school-aged children.
Public Health officials are reviewing laboratory analyses and conducting case interviews to determine the possible cause(s) of the outbreak. Currently, the source of the infection has not yet been determined. While most strains of E. coli bacteria are harmless, several are known to produce toxins that can cause mild diarrhea with most confirmed cases developing severe diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Blood is often seen in the stool. Usually little or no fever is present. If you think you or your family members are sick from E. coli infection, please contact your health care provider.
Residents are encouraged to wash all produce thoroughly with water before eating, cook meat thoroughly, and wash their hands after using the restroom, helping to clean others, or changing diapers, to prevent disease and further spread. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. These alcohol-based products can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but they are not a substitute for washing with soap and running water.”
The Department of Public Health and Human Services will not provide any specific information regarding the ill persons, or the facilities involved, per the Missouri Code of State Regulations.
FDA’s final rule on antibacterial soaps bans 19 ingredients
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/09/fdas-final-rule-on-antibacterial-soaps-bans-19-ingredients/#.V9YKFE4eaUl
By News Desk (Sep 7, 2016)
Nineteen ingredients commonly used in antibacterial soaps and washes, including two suspected endocrine disruptors linked to reproductive and developmental harm, are being phased out with the publication of a new federal rule.
In announcing the rule, the Food and Drug Administration reassured consumers that there are still effective measures to prevent the spread of germs, including foodborne pathogens.
“Washing with plain soap and running water remains one of the most important steps consumers can take to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading germs to others,” FDA reports.
Companies have a year to get the 19 ingredients out of over-the-counter antiseptic wash products, according to the rule. The agency has been mulling the mandate for decades, having issued a Tentative Final Monograph in June 1994.
The most commonly used of the 19 ingredients — triclosan and triclocarban — are of such concern to some that they were at the heart of a 2010 civil suit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council. At that time, the organization asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to order FDA to issue a final rule regulating the two chemicals.
“Companies will no longer be able to market antibacterial washes with these ingredients because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections,” according to a news release from FDA.
About 40 percent of the soap products currently available have one or more of the banned ingredients, according to an FDA spokeswoman who participated in a conference call with media representatives.
The rule does not apply to hand sanitizers or wipes that don’t require the use of water or to antibacterial products used in health care settings. It does apply to liquid soaps, bar soaps and body washes that are intended to be used with water and require rinsing, are marketed for antibacterial properties, and include any of the 19 ingredients specified in the rule.
“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” said Janet Woodcock, director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in the news release. “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”
The agency issued a proposed rule in 2013 after some data suggested that long-term exposure to certain active ingredients used in antibacterial products could pose health risks, such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects.
The 19 banned ingredients are:
•Iodophors, which are iodine-containing ingredients;
•Iodine complex, which is ammonium ether sulfate and polyoxyethylene sorbitan monolaurate;
•Iodine complex of phosphate ester of alkylaryloxy polyethylene glycol;
•Nonylphenoxypoly, or ethyleneoxy, ethanoliodine;
•Poloxamer, an iodine complex of Povidone-iodine 5 percent to 10 percent;
•Undecoylium chloride iodine complex;
•Phenol greater than 1.5 percent;
•Phenol less than 1.5 percent;
FDA’s 2013 proposed rule also required manufacturers to provide data on the safety and effectiveness of certain ingredients if they wanted to continue using the substances.
“This included data from clinical studies demonstrating that these products were superior to non-antibacterial washes in preventing human illness or reducing infection,” according to FDA.
“Antibacterial hand and body wash manufacturers did not provide the necessary data to establish safety and effectiveness for the 19 active ingredients addressed in this final rulemaking. For these ingredients, either no additional data were submitted or the data and information that were submitted were not sufficient for the agency to find that these ingredients are Generally Recognized as Safe and Effective (GRAS/GRAE).”
Federal officials are holding off on a final decision about three other ingredients at the request of industry. Those ingredients — benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride and chloroxylenol (PCMX) — can be used for the coming year while industry develops and submits new safety and effectiveness data to FDA.
Study Finds 24% of UK Chicken Has Antibiotic-Resistant E. coli Bacteria
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/study-finds-24-of-uk-chicken-has-antibiotic-resistant-e-coli-bacteria/
By Linda Larsen (Sep 7, 2016)
A study conducted at Cambridge University found antibiotic-resistant E. coli bacteria on 24% of chicken samples taken from the seven largest supermarkets in the United Kingdom, according to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota (CIDRAP). That is more than four times higher than results obtained in another study conducted in 2015. Resistance was “frequently found to three families of antibiotics that are particularly important for treating human E. coli urinary-tract and blood-poisoning infections,” according to the study.
The study was commissioned by the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, an organization in England that is dedicated to reducing the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in our food supply. Scientists analyzed 189 pork and poultry samples that were produced in the U.S. and purchased at seven of the U.K.’s largest supermarkets, including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose, Aldi, and Morrisons.
Researchers discovered that 24% of the chicken samples tested positive for “extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) E. coli,” an isolate that is resistant to cephalosporin antibiotics. That’s the kind of antibiotic used to treat E. coli infections in the blood and urinary tract. The study also revealed that 51% of the E. coli in the pork and poultry samples was resistant to trimethoprim, an antibiotic used to treat lower urinary tract infections. Nineteen percent of the E. coli was resistant to gentamicin, an antibiotic used to treat upper respiratory tract infections. None of the E. coli isolates were resistant to fluoroquinolones or colistin.
And the study found that E. coli bacteria were isolated from 98% of the meat samples. No pork samples tested positive for ESBL E. coli.
This is the first study of levels of antibiotic resistance in E. coli found in supermarket meat sold in the UK. The findings suggest that some of the bacterial antibiotic resistance to key antibiotics is coming from farm animals. The strongest evidence for antibiotic resistant transfer from farm animals to people has been for bacteria such as Salmonella, but this study is evidence that resistance in human E. coli infections is partly of farm-animal origin.
Trimethoprim is given to farm animals through their feed and water. And cephalosporins and gentamicin are used off-label in that country to treat infections in farm animals.
Emma Rose of the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics said in a statement, “these findings show the level of antibiotic resistance on retail meat to be worse than expected. Supermarkets must now publicly commit to policies which prohibit the routine mass-medication of groups of healthy animals, and take immediate steps to reduce farm use of the ‘Critically Important’ drugs.”
Data from Public Health England, according to the study, shows that E. coli infections kill more than 5,500 people a year in England alone. That is more than twice as many as those killed by MRSA and Clostridium difficile infections combined. The study also mentions that “no genuinely new antibiotics for treating E. coli infections have been discovered for over 35 years,” so the need to protect the effective antibiotics we do have is critical.
These are not the type of E. coli infections that are caused by food poisoning; they are called extra-intestinal E. coli infections. But since the treatment of food animals seems to be contributing to E. coli antibiotic resistance, the way farmers treat their food animals can make a difference in human health and disease.
Australian Farmers’ Markets Association publish new Food Safety Guide
Source : http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/agribusiness/farm-magazine/australian-farmers-markets-association-publish-new-food-safety-guide/news-story/25391a96a809eae6bf650b02a606e987
By The Weekly Times (Sep 6, 2016)
THE Australian Farmers’ Markets Association has published a new Food Safety Guide for Farmers’ Markets in collaboration with Food Safety Australia New Zealand to help stallholders and managers understand their duty of care and comply with regulations.
AFMA spokeswoman Jane Adams said the guide is the first of its kind and will help the more than 180 farmers’ markets trading regularly across Australia.
“AFMA ranks food safety as a major priority,” Jane said. “To date there has not been a commonsense farmers’ market-specific document to help facilitate the delivery of a strong food safety culture in farmers’ market settings.”
The guide covers regulations for horticulture, poultry, dairy, seafood, meat, wine, food sampling, food handling, labelling and nutrition panels.
Food safety: Best before now?
Source : http://www.shponline.co.uk/47561-2/
By SHP Online (Sep 6, 2016)
In Health and Safety Legislation And Guidance, Sentencing Guidelines
David Young , Partner, Corporate Compliance, Eversheds LLP looks at how food safety prosecutions have evolved over time, and the impact this year’s sentencing guidelines have had.
Around 20 years ago I represented a supermarket accused of selling mouldy cheese to a consumer in Birmingham. The guilty plea was inevitable and the local authority had helpfully kept the packet of cheese in a fridge so they could show it to the magistrates. The mould was certainly noticeable through the packaging, even though the cheese was only at, but not past, its sell by date. Clearly something had gone wrong and the supermarket conceded that a member of staff had missed removing it from the cabinet during a routine stock rotation.
The magistrates looked at the packet and then did something unusual. They fined the supermarket a pretty nominal amount (a few hundred pounds) and expressed dismay that the matter had gone down the route of prosecution. This was a quality rather than a safety issue; the unsatisfactory nature of the product was clear even upon the most cursory of glances yet the consumer had not complained to the supermarket at the time, instead contacting trading standards officers. No opportunity had been given to the supermarket to put matters right. There was certainly a technical breach and the legislation was designed for the protection of consumers. But that did not, in the view of the magistrates, exonerate the consumer from any care for his own welfare. A reasonable consumer would check what he was buying, and had he done so he would have left the store with a safe product of acceptable quality. The law was not there to punish the occasional honest mistakes that even the best businesses make.
It is fair to say that in my experience since that case, similar decisions have been harder to find and, of course, there are examples of serious offending – wilful in some cases – that have been met with the full force of the law. For example, the case of a restaurant owner sentenced with imprisonment after a customer, who had declared an allergy, was served a meal containing peanuts. The customer suffered anaphylactic shock but because he was alone at home could not summon medical help and died as a result.
In the 1990 Food Safety Act, Parliament introduced a statutory defence of due diligence where food business operators could attempt to prove that within their business there were adequate measures to prevent breaches of the obligation to supply safe food and those measures were properly monitored and kept updated. It has proved a high hurdle to navigate in practice and many commentators will point to that as evidence of a non-compliant and even unsafe industry. That is opportunist and too simplistic.
In the years since the cheese experience and the advent of the Food Safety Act we have undoubtedly learned more about the foods we manufacture and eat, how we prepare them and we are wiser about a whole range of important issues, from allergens to microbiology and pathogens. Whether that means that somehow our food is less safe or simply that we understand better, can be debated elsewhere. But we have, for the first time, sentencing guidelines for food safety and hygiene offences, which have turned more of a spotlight on this area.
The guidelines, which took effect for all cases sentenced after 1 February 2016, reflect in large a concern (not solely media-driven) that fines have not been severe enough, particularly for the largest organisations. Whilst the larger food business operators might, from a resource perspective, be better placed to achieve compliance, they are likely to operate many more outlets. Smaller operators might more typically be individuals or small partnerships where other sentencing options become available.
There is evidence, even after only six months of the guidelines, that there is a noticeable increase in fines for food safety and hygiene cases – maybe at least threefold on the evidence so far – but the guidelines are not the only driver. One which has become better regarded is the National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (colloquially ‘Scores on the Doors’) and its widespread adoption and publicity seems to have encouraged an almost competitive compliance between businesses particularly in town and city centre locations. The era of social media means that word (true or not) spreads so rapidly that it is better to invest in over-compliance than risking adverse publicity. Recent (July) guidance from the British Hospitality Association to help food businesses achieve compliance is regarded already as some of the best industry-driven guidance for years.
One vexed question is whether a greater understanding of risk in the supply chain leads to better compliance. Are there broader issues around health and the propensity for harm, for example greater processing of foods and ingredients to prolong shelf life, greater vulnerability to allergens and chemicals (or less than traditional resistance) that feed this mix? To what extent should government regulate for health?
The issues around food safety contrast with the general regulation of health and safety. There the duty requires compliance through self-assessment. When it comes to food, we are not ready to accept that – yet.
Food-borne illness — new rules are supposed to help (Part 2)
Source : http://www.digitaljournal.com/life/food/food-borne-illness-fda-s-final-rules-on-food-safety-part-2/article/474183
By Karen Graham (Sep 6, 2016 in Food)
In Part 1 of this series on food-borne illness, we looked at where contaminants entered the food production chain. Today we will look at the rules the FDA is implementing to prevent food-borne illness outbreaks.
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law by President Obama on Jan. 4, 2011. It was supposed to enable the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to better protect the public health by strengthening our food safety system.
Basically, the FDA was mandated to establish "science-based, minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of produce on farms to minimize contamination that could cause serious adverse health consequences or death."
The new rules under the FSMA of 2011
Under the new rules, rather than react to a food-borne illness outbreak after the fact, the FDA's new rules require that any facilities that manufacture, process, pack or store food for humans and animals:
The rules under the FSMA apply to both domestic and imported foods that are regulated by the FDA. This means that food importers have to verify that their suppliers are meeting the same standards and rules that domestic producers are required to follow.
This rule also governs foreign countries that have accredited certification bodies, like Canada's Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), that conduct food safety audits that meet U.S. standards for the safe consumption of foods by humans and animals.
The new rules also require that companies involved in the transportation of human and animal foods, including shippers, loaders and motor or rail carriers, as well as those facilities receiving the foods, use specified sanitary practices to ensure the safety of the food.
And finally, the new rules require companies to create a food defense system. This means a written set of protocols that identify their facility's vulnerability to intentional adulteration, and the safeguards in place to prevent or minimize the possibility of such contamination or adulteration. The FDA's FSMA final rules became effective on August 24, 2016.
Creating the FSMA rules
Actually, the FDA was working on modernizing their rules before the FSMA was signed into law. But most people have no idea of the amount of work required to put all the rules in place. This writer is one of those people that would say, "How hard is it to have a few rules that ensure our food is safe?" The answer is harder than we think.
The FDA, like other federal agencies, has to comply with a federal law called the Administrative Procedure Act. Under this act, every rule the FDA issues, including those that apply to domestic growers, producers, shippers, packers, distributors and foreign suppliers and importers, has to be given a period of time for public comment.
The FDA has to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). This proposal is published in the Federal Register (FR) so that interested members of the public can comment on the rule. This procedure usually lasts for 30 to 90 days. The proposed rules are filed on the FDA's official docket on http://www.regulations.gov. The FDA also sends the proposed rules to the World Trade Organization so that interested parties in other countries can be aware of what is going on.
After the comment period, the FDA reads all the comments and may make changes based on the public's interest before issuing a final rule. In the preamble to the final rule, the comments that were deemed significant are discussed. Then the final rule is published in the Federal Register.
To make a long story short, it can take as long as six months to a year just to get to the final rule stage. Then, depending if it is mandated by law, an effective or compliance date is set for companies to come into compliance with the rule, which by the way is considered a law.
What's going on right now?
Why do you need to know all this? Simple, really. The FDA had to extend the period of compliance with four very important rules that are now final rules, meaning they were again published in the Federal Register on August 24, 2016, and entitled, "Final Rule; Extension And Clarification Of Compliance Dates For Certain Provisions."
The four final rules in question out of the seven basic rules in the FSMA given extensions on compliance include:
1. Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals
2. Foreign Supplier Verification Programs for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals
3. Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption
4. Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food
If you were to read down near the bottom of the notice in the Federal Register, you would see that for the four rules the period for compliance with the rules has been extended by as much as two additional years or so. This means that since 2011 when we were made aware of the FSMA, many companies have done little or nothing to get into compliance with the proposed rules in the first place.
The outbreak breakthrough of whole genome sequencing
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/09/the-outbreak-breakthrough-of-whole-genome-sequencing/#.V9YLsU4eaUl
By Jim Mann (Sep 6, 2016)
Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of three guest opinion columns by Jim Mann in recognition of September as Food Safety Month.
Whole genome sequencing, WGS, is a new motivator for enhanced hand washing in all locations where people are preparing and/or serving food. More broadly, it is a robust laboratory procedure for the DNA fingerprinting of pathogens. This advancement provides the opportunity to stop outbreaks sooner and avoid additional illnesses by the rapid and accurate identification of the specific strain of a pathogen while lighting the path to its source.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses this analogy to better appreciate the dimension of this scientific breakthrough: “Instead of only having the ability to compare bacterial genomes using 15-30 bands that appear in a PFGE pattern, we now have millions of bases to compare. That is like comparing all of the words in a book (WGS), instead of just the number of chapters (PFGE), to see if the books are the same or different.”
CDC’s 83 geographically spread PulseNet laboratories, aligned within seven regions, are now using WGS as they scan their respective territories for outbreaks. This advance gives public health officials the ability to solve outbreaks faster and with more accuracy. It is already helping find and define more outbreaks as it reveals the pathways of the stealthier foodborne pathogens.
This new deep-dive into the universe of health-harming organisms carries with it increased risks for the foodservice operator as a new, previously unknown, layer of evidence is penetrated and exposed.
The quick and accurate identification will also help plaintiffs in their pursuit of legal resolution. Speed alone helps but courtroom history shows that a direct connection between the infected person and its source, along with a precise naming of the organism, improves the plaintiff’s award levels.
Look-more find-more outbreak scanning technology
Outbreak is an important word to define for both food producers/food service operators and regulators. A foodborne disease outbreak (FBDO) is classified by the CDC as “an incident in which two or more persons experience a similar illness resulting from the ingestion of a common food.” Might this new WGS tool of accuracy open the door to recognizing and reporting of single incidents of foodborne illness (FBDI)?
Whole genome sequencing is already improving food safety but it clearly puts new pressure on the operator’s food safety control system.
The now unreported causes of FBDOs will increasingly move to the reported column and provide a basis for potential legal action by the plaintiff. CDC statistics show that majority of hospitalizations and deaths — 71,878 and 1,686, respectively — are caused by “unspecified agents” some of which will now likely be identified by WGS. The strength of the WGS technology will only strengthen traditional epidemiology investigations.
Unresolved outbreaks and even random illness clusters are never closed, but rather filed as “cold cases.” Whole genome sequencing can be used to reopen these cases as the combination of PulseNet’s database and the new GenomeTrakr sequence database builds.
Hand washing for many food producers and food service operators is either not a process at all or one that is completely out of control. It has no standards, no measurement and no data to alert the Person-In-Charge (PIC) when trend lines slip below the agreed standard. Indicators of danger, never reach the C-Suite executives for their input into sustainable corrective actions.
Hand-washing performance remains at the core of CDC’s recommended interventions: “Hand-washing is the single-most important means of preventing the spread of infection.”
FDA Publishes Final Rule Banning Certain Antibacterial Soaps
Source : http://www.qualityassurancemag.com/article/fda-publishes-final-rule-banning-certain-antibacterial-soap/
By qualityassurancemag.com (Sep 6, 2016)
FDA has issued a final rule establishing that over-the-counter (OTC) consumer antiseptic wash products containing certain active ingredients can no longer be marketed.
FDA has issued a final rule establishing that over-the-counter (OTC) consumer antiseptic wash products containing certain active ingredients can no longer be marketed. Companies will no longer be able to market antibacterial washes with these ingredients because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections. Some manufacturers have already started removing these ingredients from their products.
This final rule applies to consumer antiseptic wash products containing one or more of 19 specific active ingredients, including the most commonly used ingredients – triclosan and triclocarban. These products are intended for use with water, and are rinsed off after use. This rule does not affect consumer hand “sanitizers” or wipes, or antibacterial products used in health care settings.
“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”
The agency issued a proposed rule in 2013 after some data suggested that long-term exposure to certain active ingredients used in antibacterial products — for example, triclosan (liquid soaps) and triclocarban (bar soaps) — could pose health risks, such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects. Under the proposed rule, manufacturers were required to provide the agency with additional data on the safety and effectiveness of certain ingredients used in over-the-counter consumer antibacterial washes if they wanted to continue marketing antibacterial products containing those ingredients. This included data from clinical studies demonstrating that these products were superior to non-antibacterial washes in preventing human illness or reducing infection.
Antibacterial hand and body wash manufacturers did not provide the necessary data to establish safety and effectiveness for the 19 active ingredients addressed in this final rulemaking. For these ingredients, either no additional data were submitted or the data and information that were submitted were not sufficient for the agency to find that these ingredients are Generally Recognized as Safe and Effective (GRAS/GRAE). In response to comments submitted by industry, the FDA has deferred rulemaking for one year on three additional ingredients used in consumer wash products – benzalkonium chloride,benzethonium chloride and chloroxylenol (PCMX) – to allow for the development and submission of new safety and effectiveness data for these ingredients. Consumer antibacterial washes containing these specific ingredients may be marketed during this time while data are being collected.
Washing with plain soap and running water remains one of the most important steps consumers can take to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading germs to others. If soap and water are not available and a consumer uses hand sanitizer instead, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that it be an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
Since the FDA’s proposed rulemaking in 2013, manufacturers already started phasing out the use of certain active ingredients in antibacterial washes, including triclosan and triclocarban. Manufacturers will have one year to comply with the rulemaking by removing products from the market or reformulating (removing antibacterial active ingredients) these products.
Social License: What It Means for Food Safety
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/social-license-what-it-means-for-food-safety/
By Sylvain Charlebois and Brian Sterling (Sep 6, 2016)
A new word has entered the lexicon of agrifood businesses: social license. Social license is described as the privilege of operating with minimal formalized restrictions (legislation, regulation or market requirements) based on building and maintaining public trust. Not a bad idea. After all, it can bring more attention to underemphasized issues such as food systems in northern communities, climate change mitigation and innovation in food safety. However, what is less clear is who should “grant” these so-called licenses, how it can be earned and what values are considered in the modern public court of opinion when it comes to social license in food.
Social licensing in food: Beyond the foolish noise
While some consider this a buzzword, or even a harmful fad, others believe the idea of social license to be transformative. It is a concept and will likely remain as such, but it is gaining traction. Coined by a Canadian mining executive back in 1997, the concept of social license has made inroads in the minds of food company executives and most importantly, consumers. Even policy makers are making an overture for the concept as work is being done to support national agricultural policies. Despite this, it is challenging to fully appreciate what social license actually means for the future of food safety in our country. Social license to operate (SLO) is the ability for any organization to operate with the confidence of stakeholders and that its activities are deemed morally and socially legitimate. Companies are judged based on a set of values collectively shared across the continuum of food system stakeholders.
Ultimately, all of us, companies, government and consumers alike, aspire to co-own food systems. Through social media, consumers have acted fiercely on their co-ownership rights in recent years by expressing concerns related to issues which were, at one time, perceived as obscure. Just this year, we have seen several cases affecting food systems such as the price of cauliflower rising to $8 in the winter, the foodborne illness outbreak with Chipotle, Leamington-based French’s ketchup de-listing at Loblaw and U.S. beef at Earl’s Restaurants. More cases will surely occur in the future.
All of these incidents were perceived breaches of social license. Consumers are the CEO of food systems, making calls based on imperfect information, while everyone else struggles to follow. Clearly at the heart of social license is the creation and retaining of trust.
What makes social license so challenging in the food industry is how difficult it is to identify shared values—each stakeholder or group has their own agenda. Food, which is consumed every day, is a culturally charged aspect of our lives that is profoundly influenced by numerous socioeconomic factors. To identify specific common values in food across the country is close to impossible. For example, while some believe animal welfare and organically grown food to be essential virtues of our food systems, others simply do not. Low price is certainly a high value to some but not at all to others. Furthermore, access to real-time data and portable technologies have made the market place fickle. Shared values can change almost daily now.
Furthermore, what is also missing in the public discourse is how consumers could also earn social license through reducing waste and becoming more educated about food systems in general. Co-ownership is not just about how we seek benefits from a system, but is also about engagement. In order for a social licensing process to work consumers need to be accountable to themselves.
Our unease with this debate is how it is unintentionally excluding some stakeholders. With food price points moving up, we are in fact dealing with an increasingly two-tiered food system in North America: the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots.’ The haves can afford to recognize market failures and social license breaches as the industry attempts to gain more legitimacy in the eyes of apprehensive consumers. However, the have-nots are often forgotten. For them, food is essentially a question of survival and the quest for social license by industry is inconsequential for them. Food origins, farm and processing practices are trivial matters: in their view, an unnecessary issue. Affordability and nutritional security are their concerns. There are many consumers who feel completely disfranchised and cannot fathom the thought of co-owning anything, let alone food systems.
However, making food secure and safe is and should undeniably be imbedded in the process of social license for the industry. Addressing food security is not just about making food affordable. It is really a matter of striking an equilibrium between what should be supplied to the marketplace versus what is required for markets to become nutrition secure.
For the time being, discussions around the food industry’s social license have been uncharacteristically exclusive, but they cannot remain this way. The very essence of social license is transparency, inclusiveness and informed consent. Whether we agree with the concept of food social license or not, or even think that it has always been there, we now have an opportunity for stakeholders to make the food industry more democratic, more accessible and relevant to the broader public.
What needs to be underscored is a social license cannot be bought; it is achieved the old fashioned way, by earning it.
Sylvain Charlebois is dean of business management at Dalhousie University.
Brian Sterling is president/CEO of SCS Consulting.
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