FoodHACCP Newsletter

Food Safety Job Openings

09/16. Food Safety Coordinator - Carrollton, TX
09/16. QA Coordinator – Norwalk, CA
09/16. QA Manager, Pet Food – Ennis, TX
09/14. Auditor - Food Safety - Alpharetta, GA
09/14. QC Tech - Livermore, CA
09/14. Food QC Coordinator – St. Petersburg, FL
09/14. Food Safety & QA – S. San Francisco, CA
09/14. Qual & Food Safety – Santa Fe Springs, CA
09/12. Food Safety Microbiologist – Chicago, IL
09/12. Quality Assurance Manager – Dallas, TX
09/12. Food Safety & QA – Woodinville, WA

09/19 2016 ISSUE:722

Consumer Concern Over Food Safety at Supermarkets Rises
Source :
By The Editors (Sep 18, 2016)
In-store dining and restaurant-style takeout offerings trigger safety issues
The rise of the grocerant, defined as a supermarket that offers restaurant-style food, often with on-site dining, comes with greater consumer concern over food safety. The percentage of U.S. consumers who feel supermarket foods are safe has decreased over the last ten years, according to data from The NPD Group.
In 2006, 66 percent of U.S. consumers agreed with the statement that foods sold in supermarkets are safe. As of August 2016, only 58 percent of adults agreed with that statement.
In-store supermarket dining and prepared food takeout from grocers continues to grow. According to The NPD Group, more than 40 percent of the U.S. population purchases prepared food from grocery stores.
Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst at The NPD Group, believes the decrease in consumer confidence has to do with consumers extending their concerns about the safety of foods served at restaurants to supermarkets. Consumers concern over the safety of food at restaurants has remained unchanged, hovering between 47 and 49 percent since 2006, according to The NPD Group’s Food Safety Monitor report.

Letter From the Editor: Lessons about trade and food safety
Source :
By Dan Flynn (Sep 18, 2016)
One of my many pleasant memories of Chile is the sunny Sept. 1 lunch served for 350 people in a huge white tent during the “Conference International Berries 2016” held in Talca. Most of the conversation was in Spanish, putting me at a disadvantage.
Every few minutes, I was getting some translated summaries from international trade attorney Thomas E. Skilton, managing partner of the Cameron law firm in Washington, D.C., and I was learning on my own about Chile’s excellent red and white wines.
Chile and the United States have a free trade agreement, or an FTA as they say, that was reached during the George W. Bush era. Tariffs over a few years were taken down to zero under the agreement. It’s been a win-win deal.
Overall, the U.S. exports much more to Chile now than it did before the FTA, and Chile’s food and agricultural exports to the U.S. have grown rapidly so they are now on par with its mainstay of export — copper.
With both Chile and the U.S. involved with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and since my translator is a top international trade attorney, I decided about midway through the discussions that were going on over lunch to see if we might turn the conversation toward trade.
I asked Thomas to ask how our hosts felt about the erosion in TPP support in the U.S., both from the two candidates for president and in Congress. Although these were among the most polite and diplomatic people I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time with, I was probably expecting a political comment.
Instead, I got a response that I could not do justice to here, what with the translation and all. But in explaining the Chilean philosophy toward taking down the trade barriers, I learned that Chile has decided it will take down its own if its trading partner will take down theirs. Maybe you can see where this was going. The image of trading partners taking down their pants, with all the trust that implies, turned into a pretty good lesson about free trade.
The Chilean berry growers did seem resigned to the fact that American politics is going to hold up TPP, at least for a time.
There was an attempt this past week to breathe some life into the 12-nation TPP when Ohio’s Republican Gov. John Kasich was invited to the White House to lead a strategy discussion on how domestic support might be found for the issue.
President Obama will need lots more help if he is to gain support for the deal in the lame-duck congressional session coming after the Nov. 8 general election. Nobody would like that more than Obama, who seems to be sensing that he needs another item to put in his legacy column.
Kasich says TPP is a way of countering the influence of both China and Russia in the Pacific.
Beating up on TPP, however, is popular with both Democratic and Republican congressional candidates. After Nov. 8, some political analysts predict that the House will still be controlled by the GOP, but with a smaller and even more conservative majority.
These are the very members who, for our purposes, can be said to keep both their belts and suspenders on when it comes to multi-country trade agreements. They don’t want to drop their pants, no matter how good it might be for the U.S.
The only good thing about this holdup is that I won’t have to wade through as much email from parties who claim that TPP is a threat to food safety. People write me with those claims, and frankly, they’ve never made much sense. When you look closely at what they’re saying, it seems to come down to an argument that FTAs will lead the U.S. to importing more food.
Hate to break the news to those folks, but we are already importing food and beverages worth more than $120 billion a year, and we’ve gotten there with both two-party agreements and multi-party deals like TPP. An increasingly diverse America has a huge appetite for foreign food, and it is only going to increase.
Chile’s food safety agencies are structured very much like ours, and their investments and commitment are certainly on par with their partner in our dual trading relationship. The depth of the food safety capacity around the world has never been greater, and international agreements for its governance from Codex on down have never been more involved. Nobody has made a convincing case that trade agreements are going to upset the overall trend — continued improvements in world food safety.

Shot in the arm for food safety department
Source :
By TNN (Sep 18, 2016)
The food safety department in Ernakulam, which was struggling with 14 vacant posts, finally heaved a sigh of relief as the government has approved the posting of 10 officials.
Sources in the department said that the 10 officials will be posted soon, without giving an exact joining date. At present the department has only two squads, comprising five members each, to conduct raids and rein in the sale of adulterated food items.
Assistant food safety commissioner, Ernakulam, Shibu K V said: "We can increase the number of raids and address the list of complaints with the arrival of more officials. As we don't have more officials we have only two squads, one concentrating in Muvattupuzha and Kothamangalam areas. The other squad is busy in western and central regions of the district."
Plans are afoot to reorganize the existing squads and form five squads with a team of three members.
The two squads conduct 70-75 raids and address around 100 public complaints each month.
Besides, they also collect samples for test.



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Waikiki Chart House Latest Link in Hawaii Hepatitis A Outbreak
Source :
By Drew Falkenstein (Sep 18, 2016)
The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed an additional case of hepatitis A in a food service employee on Oahu.
The infected case worked at Chart House Restaurant, located at 1765 Ala Moana Boulevard in Honolulu on Sept. 1–4 and 8–11, 2016.
DOH is providing this information to the public as a precaution in an attempt to prevent any new cases. The likelihood that patrons of this business will become infected is very low. To date, DOH has confirmed a total of 271 cases of hepatitis A as part of this outbreak investigation. Updated case counts and information are provided each Wednesday along with a complete list of food service establishments that have had employees diagnosed with hepatitis infection within the past 50 days at the following link:
Vaccination provides the best protection from hepatitis A, so any person who consumed food or beverage products prepared or served at this business during the identified periods may want to contact their healthcare providers about receiving a vaccine or immune globulin. This may provide some protection against the disease if administered within two weeks after exposure. A statewide list of vaccinating pharmacies can be found at or by calling the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.
Help prevent the spread of hepatitis A by washing your hands often and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food. For more information on proper handwashing go to:

CDC Updates Tropical Smoothie Hepatitis A Numbers
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Sep 17, 2016)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated the hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen strawberries that were served at Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations in several states. Their numbers as of September 14, 2016 are 119.
But Virginia updated their numbers on September 16, 2016 from 94 to 98, which means there are at least 123 people sickened in this outbreak. The case count by state is: Arkansas (1), Maryland (12), New York (3), North Carolina (1), Oregon (1), Virginia (98), West Virginia (6), and Wisconsin (1). Forty-seven ill persons have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
The hospitalization rate in this outbreak is at 39%, which is about double the usual hospitalization rate in a hepatitis A outbreak. There is no explanation for this number. People who usually suffer the most serious complications from hepatitis A are the elderly, those with liver disease, and people with chronic health conditions.
In interviews, almost all of the ill persons reported drinking smoothies containing strawberries at a Tropical Smoothie Cafe location in Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia before August 8, 2016. On that day the Tropical Smoothie Cafe chain removed the Egyptian frozen strawberries implicated in this outbreak from their restaurants. They switched to another supplier for all of their restaurants nationwide.
There is no indication of an ongoing risk of hepatitis A infection at Tropical Smoothie Cafes, according to the CDC. The government is not aware of any other restaurants that may have received the frozen strawberries imported form Egypt that are linked to this outbreak.
The CDC recommends that you contact your doctor if you think you may have become ill from eating a smoothie containing strawberries from a Tropical Smoothie Location before August 8, 2016 in the states mentioned above. They also say that it is important that food handlers and restaurant employees contact their doctor and stay home if they have a hepatitis A infection.
Symptoms of hepatitis A include yellow eyes and skin (jaundice), abdominal pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, clay colored pale stools, and dark urine. Not everyone who is infected with this virus will experience symptoms. Some people only have a mild flu-like illness.
But since people with the virus are contagious for two weeks before symptoms appear, they will go to work or school and can easily spread the illness. Hepatitis A is spread through the fecal-oral route, which means it is crucial that everyone always wash their hands after using the bathroom and before preparing or serving food or drink to others.
To wash your hands correctly, add a good amount of soap to one palm and rub your hands together under warm running water. Continue to rub your hands for 20 seconds, making sure you wash between the fingers, under the nails, and the backs of your hands. Rinse well and dry vigorously with a clean towel.
Hepatitis A illnesses have declined dramatically over the last 10 years because of vaccination programs. Once a person gets this illness, it is easily transmitted to others, especially those in the same household. The hepatitis A is recommended as part of routine vaccinations in childhood and for adults at high risk for complications.

How to score a winning (and food-safe) tailgate party
Source :
By News Desk (Sep 17, 2016)
(Editor’s note: This University of Delaware Cooperative Extension article was posted here and is being reposted with permission.)
With fall comes cooling air, leaves turning colors, and stadiums across the country filling up with football fans. It also means the ever-popular tailgate party before, and sometimes after, the game. You can think of tailgating just like a coach and team approaches a football game.
Know your opponent: The opponent at your tailgate event is harmful microbes. Under the right conditions, bacteria multiply to levels that can cause us to become ill. Symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and in severe cases can result in hospitalization and even death. Also, viruses can transfer from a human to food by hands that have not been properly washed after using the toilet.
Kick off: Planning is the key to a successful tailgate kickoff. Think about your menu. Do you have:
•enough coolers with lots of ice or cold packs?
•thermometers to know that your cold food is held at 40 degrees F or below and meat thermometer to assure that those burgers and brats are cooked sufficiently to kill any harmful bacteria?
•lots of clean or disposable utensils for preparing and serving the foods?
•a way for people to wash their hands if facilities are not close by?
First down: To make a first down at your tailgate party, you need to follow the food safety rules of Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill. Just like in football, you may encounter penalties before you score a touchdown. Some of these penalties include:
False start: Keeping food at a safe temperature between home, store or restaurant and the tailgate location helps prevent foodborne illness. Carry cold perishable food such as raw hamburger patties, sausages, and chicken in an insulated cooler packed with several inches of ice, frozen gel packs, or containers of ice. Place an appliance thermometer in the cooler so you can check to be sure the food stays at 40 degrees F or below.
If bringing hot home-prepared or take-out food, eat it within two hours of preparation or purchase (one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees F). To keep food items such as soup, chili, or stew hot, use an insulated container. Fill the container with boiling water, let it stand for a few minutes, empty, and then put in the piping hot food. If you keep the insulated container closed, the food should stay hot (140 degrees F or above) for several hours. If you can’t keep hot food hot during the drive to your tailgate, plan ahead and chill the food in the refrigerator before packing it in a cooler. Reheat the food to 165 degrees F as measured with a food thermometer.
Encroachment: Make sure that raw meat, poultry and fish are separated from ready-to-eat foods. Separate coolers would be best, but if that is not possible, make sure each item is packaged in such a way that juices from the raw food cannot contaminate the food that will not be heated before eating.
Holding: “Holding” may be one of the most likely offenses your referee encounters during long football games. Never hold perishable foods out for more than two hours, or for more than one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees F. Put leftovers back in the cooler promptly to block offensive bacteria from multiplying. When in doubt, throw it out of the game — and your tailgate.
Off sides: When packing the cooler for an outing, be sure raw meat and poultry are wrapped securely to prevent their juices from cross-contaminating ready-to-eat food. Perishable cooked food such as luncheon meat, cooked meat, chicken, and potato or pasta salads must be kept refrigerator cold as well. Also, keep cut up raw veggies and fruits on ice.
Illegal use of hands: Unclean hands are one of the biggest culprits for spreading bacteria and viruses, and finger foods are especially vulnerable. Cooks and guests should wash their hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. If running water is located too far away from your tailgate, have sanitizing wipes available.
False start: Although you may think partially cooking foods before packing them up for the game will speed up things, you are setting yourself up for delays later. Partially cooking meat or poultry ahead of time should only be done if the food goes immediately from the microwave or stove to the hot grill. Partial cooking of food without cooking it to a safe temperature allows harmful bacteria to survive and multiply. Once meat or poultry starts cooking, continue cooking until it reaches a safe temperature as determined by a food thermometer.
Winning touchdown: To score that winning touchdown, you need to follow your game plan of knowing your opponents and using these basic food safety rules:
•Clean: Wash hands thoroughly using soap and water. If that’s not possible, use wet, disposable cloths and hand sanitizer.
•Separate. Don’t cross-contaminate, which is how bacteria or viruses can be spread from one food or dirty hands to food.
•Cook: Make sure the safe internal temperate is reached by using a meat thermometer. Cook to these safe internal temperatures: Beef, pork, lamb, fish: 145 degrees F; burgers: 160 degrees F; poultry: 165 degrees F. Reheat foods such as soups, stews or chili to 165 degrees F or until bubbling.
•Chill: Transport and keep foods on ice because cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Foods should be kept at 40 degrees F or below.
End zone: Getting into the end zone the most means a win. Have a winning tailgate party by following the directions above.
If you are celebrating the team’s win or suffering the agony of defeat after the game, make sure any foods you consume are safe. If in doubt about the safety of any food item, throw it out.
At your next tailgate gathering, have fun and be safe with your food.

Congressional battle continues over federal catfish regulation
Source :
By Dan Flynn (Sep 16, 2016)
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-WI, may want to wait until after the Nov. 8 election, when the House of Representatives returns for the lame-duck session, to decide whether there will be a vote on the nation’s new and evolving catfish program.
Every week that goes by sees the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new program for catfish inspection picking up new enlistments and expanding its ability to keep potentially dangerous products off American plates.
But the speaker is under pressure from his House members, who want to use the vote to showcase how fiscally tight they can be by sending catfish inspection back to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The new USDA catfish inspection program is expected to cost about $2.5 million annually, about $1.4 million more than the previous system.
Under a rule from the federal Office of Management and Budget that became final last Dec. 2, catfish inspection was officially transferred to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) earlier this year.
FSIS is now in an 18-month transition period, with full enforcement scheduled for Sept. 1, 2017. However, under a rarely used rule, the U.S. Senate on May 25 voted 55-43 to return catfish inspection duties to FDA. That vote upends the consensus of Congress as expressed in the past two farm bills.
House backers of FDA catfish inspection claim to have enough votes to take the program away from USDA if Ryan would only permit a vote to occur, POLITICO’s Morning Agriculture reported on Thursday.
Opponents say that USDA catfish inspection, which involved pulling Siluriformes (catfish) out while leaving all other seafood species within FDA’s authority, amounts to government waste and duplication.
While the Congressional battle goes on mostly behind the scenes over the issue, FSIS has been building the new catfish inspection system with results that inspection advocates should find promising.
In Vietnam, 60 plants have been cleared to export the meat of Siluriformes species to the U.S. These plants have submitted documentation to FSIS showing that they have the laws or legal measures in place to regulate the growing and processing of catfish for human food.
Furthermore, they say they will ensure compliance with FDA regulations of fish and fish products. By the end of the transition period, these plants will have to show that their catfish inspection systems are equivalent to that of the U.S.
While Vietnam is the largest source of foreign catfish, it is far from being the only one. Bangladesh has 30 plants enlisted to export catfish to the U.S., China has 19, Guyana enlisted 20, and Pakistan is in with 9.
Since April 15, imported Siluriformes fish and fish product shipments are being selected for reinspection and subjected to species and residue testing on at least a quarterly basis. Shipments are under scrutiny for such contaminants as pesticides, chemicals, and dyes.
Both foreign and domestic catfish are coming in for the new attention. Vietnam has seen shipments detained, and in July, Wisner, LA-based Haring Catfish Inc. opted to recall 21, 521 pounds of catfish after FSIS discovered it contained gentian (crystal) residue. Gentian crystal violet is a chemical dye used in some medicine. A mix of products, including catfish tails, steaks, filets, whole fish, strips, and nuggets were involved in that recall.
Siluriformes regulation is a way of casting a broad net over both North American and Asian catfish species. An estimated 1,300 domestic catfish farms and about 23 U.S. slaughtering and processing facilities handle the Ictaluridae family of catfish.
The Catfish Farmers of America, representing the domestic catfish industry, are campaigning on the Hill to move forward with the new USDA catfish inspection program. They say they’ve lost market share because the previous inspection scheme run by FDA resulted in less than 2 percent of foreign catfish getting inspected, making it easy to slip adulterated foreign-raised catfish into the U.S. market.
Imported catfish now account for about two-thirds of the U.S. market.

New Report Published on China's Food Testing Market
Source :
By (Sep 16, 2016)
With forecasts that the China food safety testing market will reach $791.5 million in 2020 with a CAGR of 9.9% from 2016 to 2020, Research and Markets has published a new report, China Third-party Food Safety Testing Industry Research Report, 2016-2020.
With forecasts that the China food safety testing market will reach $791.5 million in 2020 with a CAGR of 9.9% from 2016 to 2020, Research and Markets has published a new report, China Third-party Food Safety Testing Industry Research Report, 2016-2020.
Stating that there are 1293.3 thousand batches in the 2016 food safety spot test plan launched by China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA), as calculated on a basis population of 1368 million in China, this means that the coverage of the 2016 spot test plan is only 0.95 batch per thousand people, but the coverage of spot test in Hong Kong is nine batches per thousand people. There are, however, several regions in China that have drawn up plans to catch up with the international spot test standard.
In 2013, the Chinese government integrated four departments' functions and built up CFDA, but it lacks relative testing ability and usually organizes public bidding for testing services. Labs primarily belong to State Administration for Industry & Commerce, but with it and CFDA being different administrative departments, there are weak internal benefit links between them, the report notes. So third-party private testing companies have fair competition rights during the procedure of public bidding.
Currently state-owned testing organizations account for over 55% of the market share in China food safety testing markets, which relies on their monopolistic advantages. Depending on strong technology and brand knowledge, foreign testing companies account for about 35% of China food safety testing market, and well-known foreign testing companies occupies over 80% of China third-party food safety testing market.
The full report is available at Research and Markets.

In-store meals present more food safety challenges for retailers
Source :
By Cathy Siegner (Sep 15, 2016)
Not too many years ago, you couldn’t walk into a supermarket and expect to buy prepared, ready-to-eat foods. Now, however, it’s common to find sushi, tacos, hot dogs and more complex dishes being served up at delis, in buffet lines, and at sit-down restaurants inside well-known grocery retailers such as Costco, Wegmans, and Whole Foods.
Some Whole Foods outlets have restaurants offering hot meals, along with beer and wine service. Wegmans has offered full-service pubs since 2009. Half of the 7-Eleven stores being opened today do not sell gas, but they do offer sit-down food services.
The National Restaurant Association calls such places “retail-host restaurants,” meaning those eateries increasingly showing up inside supermarkets, convenience stores and other venues. In 2015, their sales totaled about $28 billion and are only expected to increase.
Along with this growth in popularity comes an increase in foodborne illnesses.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), outbreaks linked to supermarkets more than doubled between 2014 and 2015. Salmonella was the most common culprit behind these outbreaks, followed by norovirus.
One major problem these in-store food retailers face is turnover, meaning that staff members are likely to come and go even faster than traditional restaurants and therefore are less likely to be thoroughly and consistently trained in food safety protocols.
Pests can also present a particular problem since big-box stores, where retail-host restaurants are sometimes located, usually have more access points and are open for longer hours than a more traditional, stand-alone restaurant outlet.
As a result, some food industry groups are increasing food safety training regimes for their employees.
According to a Sept. 8 Wall Street Journal story, “The International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association has logged 6,465 completed online food-safety courses taken by grocery workers through the end of August, up from a total of 2,987 for all of 2015.”
Retailers are expected to continue adding prepared food items to their offerings because they attract customers and offer solid profit margins.
NACS, or The Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing, noted this relatively bright outlook in a recent magazine article targeted to its members.
“We see a ton of revenue to be made in fresh, prepared food as long as the retailer can differentiate from competitors and connect with customers,” said Stephan Mecklenburg, the group’s research coordinator.

No Time to Repeal Food Safety Laws
Source :
By (Sep 15, 2016)
Statement of CSPI Senior Food Safety Attorney David Plunkett
Ensuring the safety of the food we eat is about as basic a function of government as you can get.
Perhaps there are areas in which government may overreach, but having basic standards for farm and food safety is not one of those areas. The bipartisan Food Safety Modernization Act promises a stronger food safety system.  We shouldn’t consider turning back to the dark days of no standards and largely uninspected food.

E. coli Outbreak Associated with Memo’s Restaurant in Seattle, WA
Source :
By News Desk (Sep 15, 2016)
King County Public Health is investigating two Shiga toxin-producing E coli (STEC) infections that are associated with Memo’s Mexican Food restaurant in the University District in Seattle. One person lives in King County; the other does not.
The King County resident ate at that restaurant on August 18 and August 24, 2016. The other Washington state resident ate there on August 24, 2016. Public Health received the first report of illness on August 31, 2016. Both persons have recovered. PFGE testing has found that both of the illnesses were caused by the same strain of E. coli bacteria.
There is another E. coli outbreak in that county that is associated with the Matador Restaurant in the Ballard Neighborhood of Seattle. The genetic fingerprint for the strain in the Memo’s outbreak is different from the strain that sickened people in the Matador outbreak. These two clusters of E. coli illnesses do not appear to be related to each other.
It is interesting to note that both of these illness clusters have been caused by strains of E. coli bacteria that have not been seen before in King County. And the strain of bacteria in the illnesses associated with the Matador outbreak has sickened five other people in other states.
An inspection of Memo’s Mexican Food on September 12, 2016 uncovered food safety violations that “may have contributed to this foodborne illness outbreak,” according to the press release. Those issues include improper cooling of food, improper cold holding, reheating of potentially hazardous food, and the potential for cross-contamination.
Those issues were corrected while the inspectors were on site. Officials say that “there is not a concern for ongoing risk of foodborne illness to the public,” so the restaurant was not closed. The restaurant will be re-inspected within two weeks, to make sure that they are complying with food safety regulations.
If you ate at Memo’s Mexican Food restaurant recently and developed the symptoms of an E. coli infection within 10 days, see your doctor. The only way to diagnose this infection is with a stool sample. Proper diagnosis is crucial, since the improper treatment of this infection with antibiotics can increase the risk of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a potentially life-threatening complications.
The symptoms of an E. coli infection include severe abdominal cramps, diarrhea that is bloody and/or watery, a mild fever, nausea, and vomiting. Most people get sick within a few days to a week after they have been exposed to the bacteria. Most people recover on their own, but some become so ill they must be hospitalized.
The symptoms of HUS include little or no urine output, easy bruising, lethargy, a skin rash, and bleeding from the nose and mouth. Anyone who is experiencing these symptoms should be taken to a doctor immediately. Hemolytic uremic syndrome can cause kidney failure, strokes, seizures, and death. Children under the age of 5 are most likely to develop HUS.

Automating food safety management systems can save money, improve quality
Source :
By Debra Schug, Editor-in-Chief (Sep 14, 2016)
This month marks a huge milestone for the Food and Drug Administration and the widest-sweeping regulations for the food industry in years: The preventative controls rule in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is now being enforced for some businesses. The new requirements put more emphasis on controlling the safety and quality of food before it reaches the consumer.
“There is an old saying among those in the regulatory bodies,” says Dan Bernkopf, vice president, food safety and quality assurance applications for SafetyChain Software. “You have to say what you do and do what you say, document it all and, at some point, make sure it is working.”
However, in the thick of daily food production with countless moving parts and processes, saying what you do and doing what you say can be challenging. More and more companies are realizing the value of automating food safety management systems (FSMSs) and leveraging technology to do so. With more stringent recordkeeping requirements, processors are striving to not only improve the data, but also the storage of and access to it. This need has fed the growth of automated FSMSs available to help the day-to-day management of a facility as well as drive overall business goals.
Automating food safety management
At the most basic level, an FSMS provides food and beverage manufacturers the ability to control documents used to track food quality and safety events. FSMA requires companies to have a written food safety plan that outlines all their standard operating procedures (SOPs) and prerequisite programs (PRPs), which are both designed to execute Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and basic conditions and activities needed to maintain a hygienic environment. This also includes putting in place corrective and preventative actions if the preventative controls fail, and a food safety event occurs.
“The FSMS is there to support the food safety plans,” says Brandon Henning, industry solutions director for Sparta Systems, a provider of quality management software. “Supporting the food safety plan through manual methods may not be effective, which will lead to not passing an audit.”
Depending on the size of the company, using manual processes to track food safety and quality data for products and the supply chain can take up an abundance of time and resources. Returning emails and phone calls, doling out tasks and following up to make sure those tasks were completed require a potentially large amount of effort and people.
“When you are trying to organize, maintain and manage data and documents pertaining to food safety, the burden is enormous,” says Bernkopf.
Businesses are now expected to evaluate hazards that could affect food safety, specify what controls are in place to minimize any safety or quality risks, monitor these controls and maintain records that document all these actions, including any corrective actions.
“In order to perform well, processors should practice internal document control, record collection and management, internal audit scheduling, execution and management, supplier auditing, document and record collection and management, end-to-end batch traceability, reporting and analysis,” says Andrew Kennedy, co-founder of FoodLogiQ, software providing food traceability.
An automated FSMS is designed to help companies continuously and effectively do all this as well as interpret the data collected. Any automated system should provide processors the ability to not only store data, but be able to act on that data, identifying weaknesses before they become a liability, says Ashley Powers, sales engineer for RizePoint, compliance management software. Processors must have instant access to everything from their HAACP plans to their latest health department inspection report.
“The key part of this is the management of the data,” says Jill Bender, vice president of marketing for SafetyChain. “It’s one thing to have data organized better, but to be able to have the data to act upon, that’s really the key. Getting that information when you need it, at the most pertinent time, that’s truly what the automation should afford you to do.”
Darryle Guarino, CEO of GFSC Group Inc. and creator of Gorilladox software, says an FSMS should tie everything together for processors to save time and money and get them audit ready. The software should help processors obtain visibility at the floor level and “manage all the prerequisite programs that are required in a GFSI or HACCP program, including pest control, calibrations, everything included in multiple programs, but have it all in one place.”
Electronic management systems should provide the tools for a business to operate more efficiently. Additionally, from a logistics standpoint, automated solutions can yield many benefits and perks, says Kennedy.
“Specifically, they can help companies to minimize headcount as it is a scalable process for fast-growing companies,” he explains. “It can also work to reduce errors of commission and omission, speed up the quality and safety incident investigation and recall process, provide critical information to operations, simplify third-party audit prep—and above all, improve the product.”
Assisting in preventative controls
To help processors continuously track food safety and quality data, an automated FSMS needs to help execution of food safety actions at every level, including the entry point of ingredients and materials into a facility. Overseeing suppliers and managing their requirements can be one of the more difficult tasks to do. FoodLogiQ’s Kennedy advises processors to look for a number of tools in FSMSs to address this, such as including a supplier portal in the system and providing the capability to create and manage a supplier questionnaire.
“Importantly, a system should provide timely alerts of higher-risk profile suppliers, products and sites for quick follow-up actions,” says Sireesha Mandava, senior director of TraQtion. “This is imperative given today’s rapidly changing global supply chains and regulatory landscape.”
To do this, she explains TraQtion’s Intelligent Compliance Engine continually runs its algorithm in the background to check and send alerts, helping to provide faster visibility to problem areas and prioritizing critical responses. Also, enhanced product evaluations are done to automatically identify products that meet or do not meet specifications.
“FSMSs should have the capability to track supply chains to any number of levels,” Mandava says. “The advanced systems will go beyond that to assess risks based on the ongoing activity in the supply chain.”
Having more visibility into the supply chain through automated processes can help processors control the materials coming into their facilities by making sure suppliers are in compliance. This visibility can be achieved by better managing the process of selecting and qualifying suppliers as well as ongoing monitoring.
“This can include support for supplier scorecards, management of approved supplier lists, the tracking of supplier nonconformances and resulting corrective and preventative actions (CAPAs), and the facilitation of supplier audits,” says Henning.
For instance, Gorilladox software has a proof of suppliers program, which allows companies to enter suppliers’ contact information. Notifications are sent out whenever updated documents need to be resubmitted, and corrective action requests are automatically created if a renewal date passes. Additionally, suppliers are automatically rated based on the promptness of their replies.
Mobile record collection is another feature of an automated FSMS to streamline and optimize execution of a food safety plan. Before cloud- and mobile-based technologies, desktop software solutions limited the ability of quality assurance teams to be out on the floor monitoring food safety compliance or to go anywhere else besides behind a desk.
“It’s managing data at the point of origin and being able to act upon it then that are probably the most relevant benefits of automating the process,” says SafetyChain’s Bender. “For instance, collecting data on a tablet versus a manual form—it’s a smart workflow that has an available app that has all your requirements and specifications within it.”
This pertains to multiple situations wherever the need may be, such as someone on the plant floor or the receiving dock. The employee can input data and get instant results regarding whether the product meets the specs, and if it does not, an alert activates immediately.
“SafetyChain now has interactive electronic forms that if there is a noncompliant event, actionable instructions are given to begin the resolution of what just occurred,” says Bernkopf. “When a noncompliant event is entered into the electronic form and is submitted as a record, an immediate notification goes out to the appropriate stakeholder.”
However, an out-of-spec notification via paper forms would be noticed only at the end of a period time, possibly at the end of the shift or even production day. The automated system demonstrates a huge reduction in the time lag between recording a problem and acting upon it. “This is fabulous for food safety,” says Bernkopf. “It can actually prevent products with issues going into commerce, or it can reduce the amount of product involved.”
FSMA’s preventative controls stipulate that food and beverage manufacturers need to fill any gaps in the food safety plan. This could include, but is not limited to, process controls, allergen controls, sanitation controls, etc. Bender says using a mobile approach to catch any issues and dealing with them earlier are very parallel to the FSMA preventative approach.
Managing and maintaining in the cloud
As noted, cloud-based software has revolutionized food safety management. Employees are able to be more mobile and have easier and faster access to the information they need. Plus, automating a facility’s day-to-day food safety management frees up time to look at the bigger picture of the operations. Having an easy-to-read dashboard accessible from anywhere providing accurate data visualization in real time can allow more insight into long-term trending.
“Quality and compliance are automatically tracked from macro to micro detail, problems are anticipated, and corrective measures can be taken immediately, from anywhere at any time,” says Mandava.
All the data collected, even from multiple facilities, goes into a central repository and can be assessed from this location. Information contained in an automated FSMS could include product test results, in-bound certification of analyses (COA), CAPA data and more. Looking for long-term trending information using a manual paper record process has traditionally required reentering data. Paper forms usually contain many data points, and to create a history of one data point, every one of those forms that have that data needs to be gathered up and reprocessed.
“But with electronic forms, it’s entering data once and done,” says Bernkopf. “With paper recordkeeping, you are data rich and information poor, meaning you have to recombine it to get information. With electronic documents, you don’t have to do that, so you are data rich and information rich.”
Food companies are being watched more closely by consumers now than perhaps ever, and any product problem can be instantly broadcast to the world via social media. A streamlined, automated approach allows companies to quickly identify issues before they become disasters for a brand, says Powers.
“Also, the in-depth business analytics help clarify and provide transparency into the organization at all levels,” she says, adding that more information integrated into a unified source will result in better reporting and trend analysis as well as generate actionable items to ensure follow through. “By having a strong FSMS, companies have the ability to maintain and update assessments and enterprise compliance information. If the information is automated, updates get pushed out in real time to everyone who needs the information.”
With the manual notification process, the room for human error grows since people can be inadvertently left off distribution lists or other mishaps. Additionally, cloud-based systems are particularly useful to communicate food safety information for companies that have multiple plants since they allow accessibility to the system from any computer or device connected, anywhere in the world. Moreover, automated FSMSs can connect personnel, both those inside the company and outside of it.
“A key advantage of employing a cloud-based system is that data can move seamlessly between external entities, such as suppliers, auditors, labs or transportation, and internal departments within an enterprise,” says FoodLogiQ’s Kennedy. “An additional benefit is that software updates are pushed instantly to all users.” Also, if the regulations shift, cloud-based FSMSs can be quickly updated to conform to changes, rule revisions and/or best practices.
Automated workflow and automated reminders do a lot of the heavy lifting of food safety management, but of course, employees have to be able to actually use the software. Guarino focused on this aspect of usability when he built Gorilladox. With his 20 years of experience in food and beverage plants, he wanted his software to be tailored to the end-user on the floor.
“We built the system to cover the gaps,” he says. “It’s very user friendly. People can learn it, even those who never turned on a computer; that’s the litmus test.”
Audit readiness
The ultimate goal of performing all food safety tasks is to produce safe and quality products. The goal of managing these activities well is to be ready for auditors and anyone else who may unexpectedly inspect your facility. As with the major changes happening to food safety regulations, the auditing process is also evolving. GFSC Group’s Guarino explains that in the past, companies used to just hand over piles of documents to auditors, and that was enough.
“Those days are over. Today’s GFSI auditors are dialed in—they are going to read your plan and challenge you to prove it. That’s where more documents are not better,” he says, which is why automated FSMSs should be more direct. “What you want to do is have your employees prove they are doing the action, then verify and validate that action.”
Government auditors are not the only ones who might come knocking to inspect a facility. Third-party and internal audits might be done for a variety of reasons, such as companies genuinely desiring improved food safety practices, troubleshooting, marketing purposes or adhering to a customer’s requirement. In addition to the increasing amount of entities asking about food safety and quality practices, the speed of business has also ramped up.
“The current environment we are in is that when someone asks a question—whether that is a retailer, consumer or regulatory body—you need to instantly answer,” says SafetyChain’s Bernkopf.
Being able to produce the data from any facility anywhere in a matter of seconds is becoming more than just a perk, but rather expected in this business climate. An automated FSMS contains all data, documents and plans in one place, so responding to an inquiry can be achieved by just logging in.
Sidebar: Choosing a GFSI-recognized scheme
The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is a global, industry-driven collaborative platform to advance food safety. The main objective is to provide thought leadership and guidance on food safety management systems necessary for safety along the supply chain.
GFSI is not a scheme in itself, nor does it carry out accreditation or certification activities, but it does recognize food safety management schemes. Schemes are assessed against the GFSI Guidance Document, which contains internationally recognized food safety requirements developed by multi-stakeholders. If successful, the scheme attains formal recognition.
Food businesses can select from a variety of these schemes, which include FSSC 22000, SQF and BRC. However, it can be a bit daunting when first evaluating the myriad schemes and determining the best fit for the facility’s needs. The first step to choosing one is to find out which suits the specific activity.
“In my experience with GFSI schemes, SQF has great support in the US for food companies, logistics and importers,” says Andrew Kennedy, co-founder of FoodLogiQ. “For fresh produce, GlobalGAP and Primus GFS are currently recognized, and the USDA AMS is working on certifying a GAP standard.”
Ashley Powers, sales engineer for RizePoint, advises processors to “always choose a scheme that is the most universal and most widely reviewed. This could be different depending on what country the company is in and does business with.”
For more information and an overview of GFSI-recognized schemes:

FDA warning letters: Listeria, juice HACCP issues, drug residues
Source :
By News Desk (Sep 12, 2016)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took seven firms to task in recently posted warning letters. Recipients included a ready-to-eat food manufacturing facility in Michigan, a dietary supplement and seafood processor in Chicago, businesses involved in juice marketing and manufacturing in Hawaii and California, and two dairy farms in Michigan.
Saranac Brand Foods Inc. in Saranac, MI, was sent a letter Aug. 12 from FDA’s Detroit District Office stating that an inspection done Feb. 1-9 of the firm’s ready-to-eat cold salad, sauce, and dip plant found Listeria monocytogenes in the pasta and deli salad production room.
FDA noted that an inspection in June 2014 by the Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development had also identified the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in the facility.
“The environmental sampling results highlight the need to better control L. monocytogenes in your firm’s environment. We recommend that you reassess your firm’s cleaning and sanitation operation,” the warning letter stated.
The letter also pointed out observed violations of Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) regulations such as a rusting ceiling and dripping condensate, inadequate ventilation, and an employee using a hose to spray a floor in a processing area near where bulk food ingredients were being stored.
“The water from the floor aerosolized on impact and sent water particles and debris from the floor into the air. All the food containers were covered in water and visible adhering debris,” FDA stated.
While the firm’s written response was acknowledged, the agency pointed out that employee retraining was not addressed nor was whether the raw materials were evaluated and removed from the processing area or used in production.
FDA sent a warning letter dated March 15 of this year to Global Marketing Enterprises regarding problems observed during a May 21 through July 8, 2015, inspection of the company’s dietary supplement and seafood processing facility at 1801 S. Canal St. in Chicago.
These included “serious violations” of CGMP regulations for dietary supplements (Garcinia cambogia) and also failure to have and implement a HACCP plan for seafood (frozen raw squid, farm-raised head-on shrimp, and round scad products). As a result, there is no plan to control the food safety hazards of Clostridium botulinum growth and toxin formation and/or undeclared sulfiting agents, according to FDA.
The agency’s warning letter also mentioned product labeling issues for the company’s “Caffeine Powder” and stated that, based on a review of the “therapeutic claims made in the labeling for this product,” the agency had “… determined that this product is promoted for conditions that cause the product to be a drug … .”
On Aug. 26, FDA sent warning letters to Healing Noni LLC and KCE LLC, both at the same address on Kamaili Road in Pahoa, HI.
Healing Noni was told that an inspection of the facility from Dec. 17-22, 2015, and a review of the firm’s website revealed that orders were being taken for noni juice and goji juice products and that claims for these products establish that they are “unapproved new drugs” because “they are intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease.”
The agency’s letter listed a number of labeling claims that it stated provided evidence that the juice products are intended for use as drugs. Correction action included in a written response from the company submitted on Jan. 8 would be reviewed at a future inspection, FDA stated.
FDA’s warning letter to KCE LLC noted similar issues but also mentioned CGMP violations observed during the Dec. 17-22, 2015, inspection. These included not preparing and following a written master manufacturing record (MMR) for each unique formulation of dietary supplement made, and for each batch size, to insure uniformity in the finished batches.
Additional problems with the grounds of the facility were cited, including improperly stored equipment, overgrown weeds, and litter and waste, according to FDA.
Ratzlaff Ranch in Sebastopol, CA, was sent a warning letter from FDA on Aug. 26 to state that “serious violations” of the juice HACCP regulations were observed there during a March 14 and 16 inspection.
Although federal law requires a written HACCP plan to control any food safety hazards “reasonably likely to occur,” FDA stated that “your firm does not have a HACCP plan for your unpasteurized juice product to control the hazards of pathogens and patulin.”
Because even a small percentage of moldy apples may contain high enough levels of patulin to be injurious, the letter stated, receiving and culling steps should be monitored and records should be kept.
On Aug. 4, FDA wrote to Noll Dairy Farm in Croswell, MI, about the inspection done there from Feb. 17 through March 3. The agency’s investigation revealed that on or about Sept. 21, 2015, the farm sold a dairy cow for slaughter as food which was later found to have desfuroylceftiofur, a marker residue for ceftiofur, at 3.4 parts per million (ppm) in the kidney tissue and flunixin at .144 ppm in the liver.
However, FDA has established a tolerance of 0.4 ppm for residues of ceftiofur in the kidney tissue of cattle and a tolerance of 0.125 ppm for residues of flunixin in the liver.
The agency also noted a failure to maintain complete treatment records to make sure that medicated animals are withheld from slaughter “for appropriate periods of time to permit depletion of potentially hazardous residues of drugs from edible tissues.”
The dairy provided a signed certification on or about Sept. 14, 2014, that livestock being sold did not have illegal levels of drug residues, FDA wrote. However, a culled dairy cow was later sold containing “violative residues of desfuroylceftiofur and flunixin,” which amounts to providing a “false guaranty,” according to the agency.
RDJ Dairy Farm of Rose City, MI, was sent a warning letter from FDA on Aug. 2 regarding the agency’s inspection done on May 17 and June 8. Investigators found that an animal sold for slaughter as food on or about Sept. 1, 2015, had desfuroylceftiofur at 1.62 ppm in the kidney tissue, while the FDA tolerance is 0.4 ppm.
The dairy farm also failed to maintain complete treatments records, expired animal drugs were found on-site, and a “false guaranty” was provided that livestock being sold do not have illegal levels of drug residues, FDA wrote.
The agency acknowledged a response from the farm owner of a newly implemented “Drug Treatment Log,” but noted that the treatment record was incomplete and missing data.
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.

Part 1: Protecting a diversified food chain
Source :
By Cathy Siegner (Sep 12, 2016)
(Editor’s note: This is Part 1 of a four-part series. Subsequent parts will post on the next three Mondays.)
Foodborne illnesses and food recalls seem to dominate the news these days. All across the globe, we hear about people being sickened by contaminated milk, flour, fresh produce, raw seafood, frozen entrées, and myriad other products.
Some food-related recalls involve only one product lot and no reported illnesses. Others involve thousands of pounds of food sold nationwide, with hundreds sickened, dozens hospitalized, and occasionally, some fatalities.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 48 million people become ill each year from a foodborne pathogen acquired in this country. Of those, about 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die.
CDC has linked about 9.4 million episodes of foodborne illnesses each year to 31 identifiable pathogens, although more than 95 percent of these related illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths are caused by only 15 of them.
Because many foodborne illnesses are not reported, and sometimes even when they are, the cause for 80 percent of the ones acquired in the U.S. is never identified.
Besides the individual, personal costs, the economic costs from medical expenses and lost productivity are staggering. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service estimated the financial burden of the 15 leading foodborne illnesses acquired in the U.S. at about $15.5 billion in 2013 dollars.
Last year, a study from Ohio State University put a much higher price tag — and a wide-ranging estimate — on the total cost of foodborne illness in the U.S.: $55.5 to $93.2 billion per year.
Then there are the quantifiable costs to the recalling businesses. A 2011 Grocery Manufacturers Association survey of 34 international firms found that more than half of them had been affected by a food recall in the previous five years. Of those, 18 percent reported lost sales of $30 million to $99 million, and 5 percent lost $100 million or more.
A global supply chain
The reasons driving this situation are as complex as today’s food supply chain, which stretches across continents. As our food supply becomes more globalized, so do the chances for problems, and the increasing complexity created by globalization makes it even tougher to find and eliminate those problems.
As the world’s population becomes more centralized in cities and increasingly less dispersed on farms, reliance on others for our food supply will become the norm, states a 2015 report by Zurich-based Swiss Re entitled, “Food Safety in a Globalised World.”
“Assuring this supply today is not possible without globalisation. It is a process involving countless partners and interfaces, requiring logistics that are complicated and are growing more so by the day,” the group’s report states. “But where there is complication there may be error. And error may lead to harm.”
As writer Beth Kowitt put it in a May 6, 2016, Fortune Magazine article, our pantry is global and so are the chances for contamination. Americans want certain food products available year-round and we want them cheap.
We bring in strawberries from Mexico in the winter, for example, and some exporting countries have different food safety standards and inspection regimes, Kowitt notes.
“The global supply chain has not only given us a cornucopia of food choices; it has also cut costs. The downside is that it has made preventing food-borne contamination nearly impossible. By the time milk tainted with melamine produced in China was detected, it had already been exported to 47 countries by way of milk-containing products,” she writes.
The question of consumer trust
For industry, the cost of recalls inevitably impacts the bottom line. However, the impact to customer trust in a given brand name is harder to quantify.
No food manufacturer wants a consumer to hesitate about buying their product, to stand there in the grocery store, checking the label, and wondering whether the item has been safely produced and whether eating it might harm them or their family members.
Naturally consumers want to know which products are safe and where to find information they can trust. However, according to a March 2016 analysis from Sullivan, Higdon & Sink, an ad agency based in Kansas City, MO, only about one-third of American consumers trust food companies to give them accurate product information.
The good news is that the level of trust has gone up in recent years, SHS notes, mainly due to better and more concerted efforts at consumer education to fill the gap. After all, consumers vote with their wallets (and, increasingly, share their sentiments on social media sites), so any erosion of trust will be felt quickly and painfully and can take a long time to shore back up.
Key to understanding this is the elusive concept of having a “social license to operate.” As explained in a Sept. 6, 2016, Food Safety magazine piece, this means “… 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.”
When contamination is discovered, people get sick, or recalls are announced, there is a perceived breach of this social license. The fragile trust between producers and consumers is consequently damaged and only restored (if at all) by being laboriously earned back bit by bit over time.
Or, as the magazine article put it, “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.”
Diversity, globalization, supply chain complexity and fragile consumer trust have collided to present a perfect storm of challenges for today’s food industry. How companies adjust their operations to handle technology, traceability, and new federal regulations, among other management decisions, will determine how well they weather those challenges.




Internet Journal of Food Safety (Operated by FoodHACCP)
[2015] Current Issues

Vol 17.64-74
Sanitation and Hygiene Meat Handling Practices in Small and Medium Enterprise butcheries in Kenya - Case Study of Nairobi and Isiolo Counties
Sharon Chepkemoi, Peter Obimbo Lamuka, George Ooko Abong’ and Joseph Matofari

Vol 17.25-31
Combined Effect Of Disinfectant And Phage On The Survivality Of S. Typhimurium And Its Biofilm Phenotype
Mudit Chandra, Sunita Thakur, Satish S Chougule, Deepti Narang, Gurpreet Kaur and N S Sharma

Vol 17.21-24
Quality analysis of milk and milk products collected from Jalandhar, Punjab, India
Shalini Singh, Vinay Chandel, Pranav Soni

Vol 17.10-20
Functional and Nutraceutical Bread prepared by using Aqueous Garlic Extract
H.A.R. Suleria, N. Khalid, S. Sultan, A. Raza, A. Muhammad and M. Abbas

Vol 17.6-9
Microbiological Assessment of Street Foods of Gangtok And Nainital, Popular Hill Resorts of India
Niki Kharel, Uma Palni and Jyoti Prakash Tamang

Vol 17.1-5
Assessment of the Microbial Quality of Locally Produced Meat (Beef and Pork) in Bolgatanga Municipal of Ghana
Innocent Allan Anachinaba, Frederick Adzitey and Gabriel Ayum Teye

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