48 sweet shops inspected by food safety department
Source : http://retail.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/food-entertainment/food-services/48-sweet-shops-inspected-by-food-safety-department/55009575
By Shilpy Arora, TNN (Oct 23, 2016)
The department has collected more than 65 samples of Khoya, and different types of sweets including Kaju Katli, Coconut Barfi, Gulab Jamun etc. the department has also collected samples of sauce from fast food joints and restaurants.
Gurgaon: The Department of Food Safety has inspected 48 sweet shops across the city in the last one week.
The department has collected more than 65 samples of Khoya, and different types of sweets including Kaju Katli, Coconut Barfi, Gulab Jamun etc. the department has also collected samples of sauce from fast food joints and restaurants.
Sources informed that the department came into action after it received a few reports on arrival of adulterated milk, paneer and Khoya in the city from Mewat and some parts of Rajasthan. The officials have collected samples of ready-made sweets, milk cake, khoya, kaju barfi, etc. the department has inspected sweet shops in Sector 29 market, Jharsa Road, Badshahpur, Patuadi, Sector 40 and MG Road.
"While some samples have already been sent to the authorized laboratory in Chandigarh for test, some samples will be sent tomorrow. We are expecting reports by the end of this week. Strict action will be taken if any of the samples are found to have any adulteration. The sweet shops can't put people's health on stake," said KK Sharma, Food Safety Officer of Gurgaon. He added that sauce samples have been collected as adulterated sauce can cause serious health hazards.
The department also requested the people to bring any violation to their notice. "I request people to report any violation or adulteration to us. It will help us nab those who use adulterated products in festive season. People can either write to us online or call the landline number of the food safety department to report any kind of adulteration of violation of norms while preparing sweets or other food items," said Singh.
Beef Checkoff goes on the griddle Tuesday in Montana
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/10/beef-checkoff-goes-on-the-griddle-tuesday-in-montana/#.WA1rpE6tSUm
By Dan Flynn (Oct 23, 2016)
The Beef Checkoff is up Tuesday for a federal court hearing where anything could happen from dismissal of the challenging lawsuit to a temporary restraining order for the plaintiff’s.
The Beef Checkoff refers to money for marketing and research, including food safety research, to promote the cattle industry. The Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 gives the Secretary of Agriculture the power to impose a $1 per head charge each time cattle are sold.
The latest challenge to the Beef Checkoff was filed May in U.S. District Court in Great Falls, MT. The Billings, MT, Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund of the Stockgrowers of America – usually referred to as R-CALF, sued Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack over program details.
At Tuesday’s hearings, U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2013, will have an opportunity to sort out some of the completing motions that have been going back and forth.
The $1 per head Checkoff is split between a national fund, known as the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Fund, and a qualified state beef council (QSBC), in most states.
R-CALF sued, claiming the U.S. Department of Agriculture does not have a “procedure by which a cattle producer who disagrees with the Montana Beef Council’s message.”
However, attorneys for USDA said such a procedure does exist and there is an opt-out option that was found consistent with the First Amendment.
In a 2005 Supreme Court case, promotions like those funded by the Montana Beef Council, were found to be “government speech” and therefore legal.
R-CALF attorneys are telling Judge Morris that the Montana Beef Council is not sufficiently under USDA control for the 2005 standard to apply to it.
The Supreme Court found that “compelled funding of government speech does not alone raise First Amendment concerns” and there is no right not to fund government speech.
R-CALF want Judge Morris to issue a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent any Beef Checkoff dollars from going too or being used by the Montana Beef Council without “the payer’s affirmative consent” and until the court can act on the plaintiff’s motion for a summary judgement.
The freshness of the 2005 high court case, known as Johanns v. Livestock Marketing Association, may be a factor in why attorneys for both R-CALF and USDA say they are prepared to go to trial without the need for any pre-trial discovery or depositions.
But government attorneys do not think it should get that far because, they argue, R-CALF lacks standing to continue the case, which they say was brought on a misunderstanding since all Checkoff dollars can be re-directed to the national fund.
“Recognizing that all producers may not have been aware of the option to direct their full federal assessment to the Beef Board (particularly in light of language that was inadvertently removed from the Beef Order in 1995,) USDA recently issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposes to make this option and procedures for exercising it explicit in the Beef Order,” USDA’s attorneys said.
“Specifically, the proposed rule would make it clear that producer may ‘choose to direct the full $1.00-per-head federal assessment to the Beef Board … in states where state statutes do not require producers to contribute a portion of the $1.00 per head federal assessment to the State beef council,” they added.
That, however, goes where R-CALF likely does not want to go, either. It competes against the larger Denver-based National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). The two organizations frequently take opposing policy positions and NCBA manages the Beef Board.
R-CALF believes American beef should primarily be marketed as just that, made in the USA. It was an original and long-time supporter of County of Origin Labeling (COOL). NCBA, like most of the North American beef industry, favored killing COOL, especially after the World Trade Association ruled it was a non-tariff barrier to trade damaging Canada and Mexico.
“With COOL gone, there is now a worldwide effort to render the origins of U.S. cattle irrelevant on a global scale,” R-CALF’s CEO Bill Bullard wrote recently in a letter to the industry. “The effort includes relegating U.S. farmers and ranchers to nothing more than raw-product suppliers to the multinational meatpackers’ global supply chain.”
Iowa Launches Food Poisoning Hotline and Response Initiative
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/iowa-launches-food-poisoning-hotline-and-response-initiative/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 21, 2016)
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced a new joint initiative this week with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) to help reduce the effect of foodborne illness outbreaks in that state. A hotline called IowaSic is now available for residents of that state to call if they think they have been sickened with food poisoning.
That hotline number is 1-844-469-2742 (844-IowaSic) and will be answered by trained specialists. Those specialists will start an investigation into the cause and source of the illness.
IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk said in a statement, “these departments have joined forces to establish a statewide one-call system Iowans can use to report illnesses associated with food poisoning.” Most food poisoning outbreaks are solved relatively slowly, when a number of people who have been sickened see their doctors, and public health officials are alerted.
Dr. Quinlisk said, “Iowa was the first state to positively identify the cause of the 2013 Cyclospora outbreak, which permitted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to trace it back to the source. Had the IowaSic hotline and supporting processes been in place in 2013 it’s possible the duration and impact of the outbreak could have been reduced.”
That particular outbreak sickened at least 127 people in Iowa, Nebraska, and other Midwest states. Epidemiologists and food safety experts were able to trace the cause of that outbreak to fresh produce that was grown and packaged in Mexico and imported into the United States. The contaminated product was distributed to a national restaurant chain where it was eaten by consumers in the states of Iowa and Nebraska.
The hotline specialists will ask those who call about their symptoms, symptom onset, and the duration of the illness. They will also complete a food history of everything the caller can remember eating or drinking for the past several days. These illnesses that are associated with foods purchased from or consumed at food establishments will be investigated by staff with the DIA’s Food and Consumer Safety Bureau.
If you live in Iowa and think you have food poisoning after eating at a restaurant or public gathering, or eating food purchased at a grocery store, convenience store, or market, call the hotline for help.
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Marijuana is smokin’ hot on ballots; food safety not so much
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/10/marijuana-is-smokin-hot-on-ballots-food-safety-not-so-much/#.WA1tCk6tSUl
By Dan Flynn (Oct 21, 2016)
Marijuana is a hot topic among state ballot measures for 2016 and its highly likely after the votes are counted a fourth of the U.S. population will reside in states permitting recreational use of cannabis.
Among the 163 total measures that qualified for spots on ballots across 35 states this year, few are stand-outs and none directly involve food safety. States that have proposals for recreational use of marijuana, however, have to decide how to regulate grow houses and pesticide use and how edibles are made and marketed.
Some of those details are contained in the language of the individual initiatives; others will have to be worked out later. Most of the money and polls are down for wins across the board for the marijuana ballot measures. Internet billionaire Sean Parker has contributed more than $8.5 million to the pro-campaign in California.
The 10 marijuana ballot measures are actually a mix of medical and recreational questions in eight states. But with medical marijuana already legal in 25 states, the impact of these elections on recreational marijuana is getting the most attention.
•Arizona Marijuana Legalization, Proposition 205
•Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, Issue 7
•Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, Issue 6
•California Proposition 64, Marijuana Legalization
•Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization, Amendment 2
•Maine Marijuana Legalization, Question 1
•Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization, Question 4
•Montana Medical Marijuana Initiative, I-182
•Nevada Marijuana Legalization, Question 2
•North Dakota Medical Marijuana Legalization, Initiated Statutory Measure 5
The 26 states, mostly in the West, that permit citizen initiatives and referendums to reach the ballot by petition account for 72 or 44 percent of this year’s 163 ballot measures. Only a handful of these have anything to do with food or agriculture, let alone food safety.
Massachusetts Minimum Size Requirements for Farm Animal Containment, Question 3 (2016)
Less of Massachusetts will likely be involved in farming if animal activists get their way. They are back with a ballot measure to prohibit breeding pigs, calves raised for veal, and egg-laying hens in “confined spaces.” Opposed by farm and agricultural groups with little money (about $75,o00), Question 3 is being promoted by well-funded animal activist groups, with more than $1 million coming from the Humane Society of the United States.
Question 3 defines confined as meaning that which “prevents the animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending its limbs, or turning around freely.” This law would also apply to business owners who knowingly sell pork, veal, or eggs from animals held in this way, even if the source is outside of Massachusetts
Hunting and fishing questions
• Indiana Right to Hunt and Fish, Public Question 1
• Kansas Right to Hunt and Fish, Constitutional Amendment 1
• Montana Animal Trap Restrictions Initiative, I-177
• Oregon Wildlife Trafficking Prevention, Measure 100
Indiana and Kansas are asking voters if they want to OK “right to hunt” initiatives. If approved, the two states would join about two dozen states with similar “right to hunt” laws.
Montana’s I-177 would end trapping on public lands. Currently, Montana issues more than 2,500 licenses for trapping fur-bearing animals. Hunting and trapping groups oppose the measure, which reached the ballot through paid signature-gathering services with support of environmental groups.
Oregon’s Measure 100 would ban the sale of products and parts of 12 types of animals in the state: elephant, rhinoceros, whale, tiger, lion, leopard, cheetah, jaguar, pangolin, sea turtle, ray and shark, except the spiny dogfish. Certain activities and commodities would be exempt from the ban, including antiques more than 100 years old, fixed components of musical instruments, transfers by inheritance, donations for scientific or education purposes, and parts possessed by enrolled members of Indian tribes. Violating Measure 100 would be punishable by a civil penalty up to $6,500 or twice the prohibited product’s value, whichever is greater.
Beer and wine question
Oklahoma Regulations Governing the Sale of Wine and Beer, State Question 792
Oklahoma’s Q-792 would allow grocery stores to sell full strength beer and wine, which now can only be sold in liquor stores in the state.
Reused oil? synthetic colours? Food safety officials step up vigil
Source : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/Reused-oil-synthetic-colours-Food-safety-officials-step-up-vigil/articleshow/54946461.cms
By timesofindia.indiatimes.com (Oct 20, 2016)
Madurai: As homemade sweets have become a thing of the past with people plumping for sweet manufacturers, bakeries and private caterers to place orders, Food Safety authorities are leaving nothing to chance to ensure that people get good quality products.
Madurai Food Safety designated officer Dr S Lakshmi Narayanan while cautioning against violation of norms said they were conducting surprise inspections on food business operators, savoury makers and bakers to check on hygiene and sanitation in production.
During the festival season, many catering units take bulk orders from households often flouting hygiene and sanitation rules during preparations. The quality of oil used leaves much to be desired, synthetic colours are used and as preparations are done over a long period, there are incidents of the sweets becoming stale when they reach the customers.
Lakshmi Narayanan said that they were educating the sweets makers on the importance of adhering to Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Rules of 2011. Initially, all sweet manufacturers are being informed about the rules during the first visit and an appeal is made to follow them."If they continue to violate, they would be slapped with a penalty as per the rules,'' he said.
One of the main things being stressed during these visits is to refrain from reusing cooking oil in any form. In many cases, predominantly the making of savouries, the oil is continuously reused. Sources said that the oil used for frying snacks like, 'Murukku' was rarely replaced but was only replenished by adding new oil when the quantity gets reduced in the pan. All raw materials for the manufacture of food products should meet food grade standards. Packed products should have details of the day of manufacture, expiry date, best before and lot number.
Food safety: how to get sick in your home kitchen
Source : http://www.ydr.com/story/news/2016/10/19/food-safety-how-get-sick-your-home-kitchen/92285448/
By Brett Sholtis (Oct 19, 2016)
A food safety expert provides tips on what not to do when preparing and cooking food.
Raw meat. Spilled milk. Cleaning products. Would your kitchen pass a state health inspection?
Whether you're a soup-spilling slob or a Clorox-wielding germophobe, chances are you could improve your kitchen hygiene.
Jerry Heisey has inspected hundreds of professional kitchens, first as a state health inspector and now as owner of Food Safety Consultants of Central Pa. He brought that knowledge to the kitchen table with a list of the top five things people do wrong when they cook food at home.
Bad shopping habits
Turns out, there’s something called the “danger zone,” and you don’t have to be a Kenny Loggins fan to know what it is.
The danger zone is between 41 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit — that’s the temperature range within which bacteria flourish. People, unaware of this, spoil their temperature-sensitive foods before they even get them home by letting them get to this temperature while shopping. Be mindful of this: put all the non-perishable stuff in the shopping cart first. “The last thing you want to do is the refrigerated food—and then you want to go right home,” Heisey said.
Thawing food at room temperature
No matter what your recipe calls for, thawing food on the kitchen counter is a recipe for foodborne illness.
“The inside is frozen, but the outside is above 41 degrees (Fahrenheit),” Heisey said. “That’s where the bacteria can start to grow at.”
In addition, blood or fluids from raw foods on the counter can easily lead to contamination of other food. Heisey recommends planning ahead so that you can safely thaw food in the refrigerator. That, or use a microwave.
Read: West York Giant's closing will be hardship, area seniors say
Mixing chemicals with food
Your sink is gross. Hand soap, dish soap, window cleaners, counter cleaners, old scrubbers — all this stuff has non-edible chemicals on or in it that should not mix with food. There’s only one way to avoid this: Keep an immaculate sink, not one that’s littered with dish soaps and sponges.
Poor handwashing technique
Handwashing is the “absolute most important” thing people can do to avoid getting sick, Heisey said. Unfortunately, most people see handwashing as more of a ritual than a scientific process. As if that wasn’t bad enough, people then turn off the germ-infested faucet with that supposedly clean hand and then dry off on a scuzzy old towel that hangs from the stove.
Here’s how to wash your hands: Water should be at least 100 degrees. You need soap – it doesn’t matter what kind of soap. And you want to wet your hands, and wash them and rub for about 20 seconds. Then you want to let the water run—don’t turn it off. Grab that paper towel and use it to turn the faucet off. Then and only then you can dry your hands with a clean towel used only for this purpose.
Read: Is that restaurant clean? You can find out, but it isn't easy
Storing meat in the fridge
Ever heard of gravity? When it comes to food safety, it has a way of letting you down.
“Home fridges are kind of difficult,” Heisey said. “You’re always supposed to put your raw foods on the bottom, but then you have a crisper under it. What if the blood does spill onto the lettuce?”
So be sure to organize your food so that nothing goes beneath raw meat. If it means you put the meat goes in the crisper, so be it. In addition, the temperature can be a concern. Make sure it’s 41 degrees or lower, “and obviously the colder the better," Heisey said.
Criminal Prosecutions in the Food Industry: Adulteration and Prison Time
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/criminal-prosecutions-in-the-food-industry-adulteration-and-prison-time/
By Kathy Hardee, Esq.(Oct 18, 2016)
On March 15, 2016, this column discussed the increase in criminal prosecutions of both corporations and responsible individuals for incidents relating to unsafe food. But the ante appears to have once more increased, and the Supreme Court will be the deciding vote. The question now is whether “responsible corporate officers” whose company introduces adulterated food into interstate commerce can be sentenced to jail time, even if they had no knowledge of the adulteration. According to a federal district court and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the answer is yes. The U.S. Supreme Court will have the final say.
Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son, Peter DeCoster, owned Quality Egg, LLC when it was responsible for a 2010 outbreak of Salmonella that sickened as many as 56,000 individuals. Ultimately, in 2014, Quality Egg itself pled guilty to: (a) a felony violation of 18 U.S.C. §201(b)(1) for bribing a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspector; (b) a felony violation of 21 U.S.C. §221(a) for introducing misbranded eggs into interstate commerce with intent to defraud and mislead; and (c) a misdemeanor violation of 21 U.S.C. §331(a) for introducing adulterated eggs into interstate commerce. Pursuant to that plea, the company paid $6.8 million.
The DeCosters themselves each pled guilty to misdemeanor violations of 21 U.S.C. §331(a) as responsible corporate officers under the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). In the plea agreements, the DeCosters stated they had not known that the eggs were contaminated at the time of the shipments but stipulated that they were in positions of sufficient authority to detect, prevent and correct the sale of contaminated eggs had they known about the contamination. The violation carried the possibility of up to 1 year in prison and up to a $100,000 fine. The sentencing court determined that although there was no evidence that the DeCosters had actual knowledge that their eggs were infected with Salmonella, their business practices were so egregious that this case involved more than “a mere unaware corporate executive.” Consequently, the DeCosters were each sentenced to 3 months in prison and fined $100,000.
Assuming the truth of the defendants’ claim that they had no knowledge of the contamination, this is one of the first instances of a corporate representative being sent to prison for unsafe food they knew nothing about. The sentence was upheld by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on July 6, 2016. A petition for writ has now been filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. The primary issue is whether a corporate official can be jailed for something they did not know about. Numerous amicus briefs have been filed in support of the DeCosters by business and industry groups.
The DeCosters argued to the Eighth Circuit that incarceration for acts committed by others is a violation of due process. They cited many cases that have held to that effect. Criminal liability most always attaches only when there is intent to commit a wrongful act. Unfortunately, those other cases weren’t decided under the FD&C Act. The court found that under the FD&C Act, a corporate officer is held accountable not for the acts or omissions of others, but rather for his own failure to prevent or remedy the conditions which gave rise to the charges against him. Thus, the court found that there was some measure of blameworthiness that was imported directly to the corporate officer. While other situations might constitute violations of due process, the FD&C Act language was clear that it was Congress’ intent to make such penalties an option. As the trial court found, the FDCA “punishes neglect where the law requires care.”
In 2015, Stewart and Michael Parnell were convicted of 72 counts of fraud, conspiracy and the introduction of adulterated foods into interstate commerce. Stewart Parnell was sentenced to 28 years and Michael Parnell was sentenced to 20 years for their responsibility in a Salmonella outbreak with their company, the Peanut Corporation of America. The difference is that the Parnells were found guilty of having actual knowledge and facilitating the spread of the contamination.
The egregious conditions on the Quality Egg facilities and bad conduct such as bribing a USDA inspector may have tipped the scales in favor of jail time for the DeCosters. But even without such aggravating circumstances, responsible corporate officers are susceptible to jail time and large fines for adulterated foods of which they have no knowledge. And there is no guaranty that the next case will be quite so obvious.
Fanning the flames, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has stated that it will no longer wait for an U.S. Food and Drug Administration referral of food contamination, but will instead investigate and pursue those it deems threats to the safety of food in commerce. There is also a stated commitment by the DOJ to hold not just companies criminally liable but to pursue those individuals responsible for the company’s actions. The DOJ announced in 2015 that it believed that the most effective way to ensure corporate accountability in the future was to hold the individuals behind the corporations individually accountable for unlawful conduct.
For now, the only thing between the DeCosters or other “responsible corporate officers” and prison is the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court should decide by December whether or not to consider the DeCosters’ petition for writ. If it declines or rules against the petition, the DeCosters will serve their 3 months. Perhaps more importantly, responsible corporate officers need to find out what they don’t know about what they don’t know.
Kathy Hardee, Esq., is co-chair of the Food & Agriculture Industry Group at Polsinelli, PC, which is composed of a team of attorneys from every legal practice area and who each have a focused background in the food industry.
Whatever Happened to Sound Food Science?
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/whatever-happened-to-sound-food-science/
By Andrew G. Ebert, Ph.D., FIFT, CFS (Oct 18, 2016)
If you want to see what the convergence of social media, government, questionable studies and a polarized society can do to torpedo food science and relevant research, you need look no further than the organic food movement. In the 1980s, it looked like the word ‘organic’ as a food descriptor would go the way of the word ‘natural,’ that is, ubiquitous, confusing and more a marketing term than a definition. A few months back, a New York Times article said that the food industry never let science get in the way of a good marketing gimmick.
A U.S. ‘solution’ came with the 1990 passage of the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA). Under OFPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would appoint a 15-member National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to serve as an advisory group to USDA. The first all-volunteer members of the NOSB were appointed in 1992, and the defining goal of the NOSB was to promote agriculture that “enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity.” With that goal in mind, the NOSB and USDA established a labeling program, as well as a list of processes, ingredients and applications that would be suitable for organic foods.
In general, the aim was to favor ingredients or processes that were themselves organic. That means that certain organic pesticides, for example, are allowed on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances and in organic farming. It means that ingredients that add color or texture or taste to organic foods are more likely to be allowed if they are sourced organically even if there are other options for additives or ingredients designated as synthetic or nonsynthetic.
The composition of the 15 member NOSB is established in the OFPA and it provides one designated space for a scientist. The remaining slots are portioned out to include organic farmers, organic handlers, an organic retailer, those devoted to environmental protection, public interest groups and one accredited certifying agent.
It is important to note what the OFPA and USDA labeling program was not intended to do. It was never USDA’s intention to imply that organic foods were inherently safer or healthier than conventional foods. In fact, USDA has been forced to emphasize that fact on several occasions. It was not intended to limit the size of agricultural or food processing businesses that could use the organic label.
The difficulty of organic labeling came with the fact that the higher costs of organic foods were difficult to justify to consumers based solely on biodiversity, biological cycles or soil biological activity.
For the organic label to work, some organics proponents have found it useful to make consumers fear conventional foods.
The NOSB now considers three prominent criteria for approval of substances suitable for organic foods that are not themselves organic. They include safety, essentiality and sustainability. Of the three, safety has become the most contentious and the one driven least by credible science—a demonstration of choosing research that frightens rather than enlightens. While no one should doubt the earnestness with which NOSB members go about their task, it neither is a body of scientists nor does it have final regulatory authority over food safety.
What poses a great challenge to the NOSB is that the growth of the organic food business in the U.S.—now at approximately $43.3 billion—is commensurate with the growth in public mistrust in many aspects of our lives and the explosion of social media. We now increasingly mistrust media, government, business and science, and we have a social media environment that exacerbates and feeds upon that mistrust.
We have always been somewhat wary of science. Evidence suggests that we prefer scientific claims that engage our capacity to see conspiracies in everything from fluoridated water to Alar to the safety of cranberries in our Thanksgiving dinner. Currently, many are loudly proclaiming our doubts about evolution, climate change, vaccines and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In a January 2015 issue of The Atlantic, a strong case was made that we continue to value science but only when it confirms our preexisting beliefs. An educator quoted in the magazine said, “We build philosophical structures, and when we encounter information, we plug it into those structures.”
If you believe that those mistrustful of science or hesitant to accept scientific validity are of a certain uneducated class, or driven by religion or other belief systems, you are likely wrong.
In a 2015 issue of National Geographic, a study was cited by Andrew Schtulman of Occidental College, suggesting that even those with a scientific bent resist information that might be outside a philosophical construct. In this study, students with advanced science educations were asked to affirm certain established scientific facts. The students would quickly affirm that humans are descended from tree-dwelling creatures or that the moon revolves around Earth.
They were less quick to affirm that we are descendant from sea creatures or that Earth revolves around the sun—facts that are counterintuitive. When it comes to the food sciences, this need to believe the science of our choice has given rise to an entire industry attempting to influence government and consumers. Prominent in those efforts is the idea that any science funded by industry is inherently corrupt and that government reliance on such science taints government with the same brush.
If you look at websites run by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) or the Cornucopia Institute, for example, you’ll find plenty of evidence of groundless health claims, flawed science and allegations of government corruption. Here is the NRDC on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): “Chemical-safety assessments at the FDA are spotty, weakly enforced and often dependent on outdated research.” The Cornucopia Institute website is laden with allegations of government malfeasance, including charges of corruption and undue industry influence at FDA, USDA and the NOSB.
In the past, Cornucopia has alleged a federal investigation was ongoing of a USDA executive (there wasn’t), sued USDA and filed complaints about the appointment of NOSB members. The idea that government employees or volunteers at FDA, USDA or the NOSB could be dedicated to maintaining the world’s safest food supply cannot be accepted if the work runs counter to movement claims.
Organic Valley, for instance, lists five reasons why you should buy organic food. The third is “because chemicals are bad for you.” The word ‘chemical’ is often used pejoratively while ignoring that everything is ‘chemical.’ Although numerous examples exist pointing out this fact, “chemophobia” continues to grow. All of these efforts include selected research fully intended to drive behavior without providing any context or opposing research.
Science has always had an uneasy relationship with mainstream media, yet it is easy now to remember fondly when your daily newspaper had a weekly science section. Today, you may not even have a daily newspaper, and science journalism is rare. A Pew Research Center report on journalism in June of this year said that the newspaper workforce has shrunk by 20,000 in the last 20 years. There is very little indication that the jobs saved are those of science writers.
If you work in food sciences today, you are far more likely to interact with a food writer than you are a science writer. That can be a steep learning curve for both. While it is true that there are outstanding science journalists working online or in social media, any opinion that is measured or carefully looks at science is shouted down, as you can ascertain by reading the comments following any food safety story that attempts to mitigate fear-mongering.
Instead, we circulate the science that matches established opinions. Another Pew study in March of 2014 said that 64% of adults got their news on Facebook, but that news was often an item forwarded by a friend with similar views, resulting in the viral distribution of suspect science. That swirl of fury and mistrust is an ideal environment for feeding fear and driving regulatory decisions and that is exactly the challenge faced by the NOSB.
The Carrageenan Example
Carrageenan is a stabilizer approved as a nonsynthetic ingredient appropriate for use in organic foods. The red seaweed from which it is derived has been used in foods in some cultures for more than 600 years. It has no history, even anecdotally, of causing harm or widespread illness despite its use by millions of consumers.
While carrageenan is a nonsynthetic, rather than organic, it should easily pass any organic threshold related to sustainability. The bulk of the carrageenan used in foods is harvested by aquatic farmers in Africa or Asia in ways that are environmentally friendly and sustainable. In certain formulations, particularly dairy products, carrageenan is the preferred stabilizer because it is readily available, does not require the addition of other stabilizers that would add to the length of food labels, does not degrade during processing and provides the ‘mouth feel’ that consumers prefer. In other words, there is a strong argument as to its desirability, even ‘essentiality.’
Of the stabilizers approved for use in organic foods, carrageenan may have the longest research history. The best of that research has consistently suggested that carrageenan is safe. Unfortunately, much of the rest of that research history is deeply flawed as it actually used a chemical called ‘poligeenan,’[23, 24] an entirely different substance derived from seaweed but processed under high temperatures and acidic conditions not normally encountered in the human gut.
Other examples of suspect research used a flawed cell line in an in vitro study,[23, 25] and a more recent study that identified the test chemical as carrageenan, was actually carrageenan degraded to a very low molecular weight.
More recent research conducted under rigorous Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) guidelines examined carrageenan in an in vivo study of piglets fed carrageenan and in vitro studies of the effects of carrageenan on colon cells.[29, 30] These studies further assured carrageenan safety. A 2014 review of carrageenan suitability in infant formula by the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) found that carrageenan was safe for infants even in doses higher than normally found in liquid formula. The same JECFA review examined much of the long history of carrageenan research and found, as have other reviewers and regulatory bodies, that the science opposing carrageenan was less than compelling.
Like all non-organic ingredients, carrageenan undergoes an NOSB review that makes recommendations as to whether or not carrageenan should remain on the approved list. That review is underway. Earlier in the year, research scientists, toxicologists, seaweed farmers and industry groups all vouched for carrageenan’s ability to meet all three of the NOSB standards.
All the new science, anecdotal evidence and history of use should make carrageenan approval a slam dunk later this year. Well, don’t count on it.
In a previous review, the NOSB recommended that carrageenan be removed from the allowable list based on safety concerns. That recommendation was overturned by USDA. The current science should make the decision easier but NOSB members are under considerable pressure to make decisions based on that ‘construct’ of organic marketing messages. Bloggers, organic trade groups and others self-identified as ‘watchdogs’ will continue to attack the funding of new carrageenan science, knowing that when you cannot attack credible research you can always attack funding.
Others will suggest using other stabilizing ingredients with a limited history of research, as if the absence of research is proof of safety. In the more global argument about food safety, the organic movement and the carrageenan example are only small proof points in a larger reality.
The arguments we make about food safety have very little to do with relevant science or safety and everything to do with ‘trust.’ Given that industry, in general, is demonstrably mistrusted in things like social media and the fact that scientists are woefully ill equipped to engage in anything like a Twitter argument, it is entirely possible to win a regulatory battle and lose the war.
While we always strive for better science related to food safety, it is increasingly important that we also strive for better, more forceful, communication strategies.
Andrew G. Ebert, Ph.D., FIFT, CFS, is a noted food industry pharmacologist and toxicologist. He has served as an official observer at numerous meetings of the Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Codex Alimentarius Food Standards Programme and is on the Expert Committee on Food Ingredients of the Food Chemicals Codex. He previously served on FDA’s Food Advisory Committee.
3. www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic/nosb/nomination-process; uscode.house.gov/browse.xhtml.
10. www.theatlantic.com; www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/01/americans-believe-in-science-just-not-its-findings/384937/.
27. www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2012-title21-vol3/pdf/CFR-2012-title21-vol3.pdf; www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=2a66634873995c995ef1ddd1080a8180&mc=true&node=pt21.1.58&rgn=div5.
A busy food safety day in Hong Kong
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/10/a-busy-food-safety-day-in-hong-kong/#.WA1vZeCLSUl
BY NEWS DESK (Oct 17, 2016)
Finding excessive cadmium in imported cooked snow crab, a preservative not permitted in vinegar, and excessive pesticide residues in three vegetable samples made for a busy Friday at Hong Kong’s Center for Food Safety (CFS).
The unit of Food and Environmental Hygiene Department reported the findings going into the weekend, warning food businesses to stop using or selling the products. Investigations are ongoing and charges could bring some big penalties.
The cooked snow crab with excessive cadmium originated from Fortuna Island Food Ltd., an importer from Japan. The snow crab went to AEON, a retailer, and carried a use-by date of Oct. 6, 2016.
“Subsequent to announcing that crab samples collected at several retail outlets were detected with excessive cadmium earlier, the CFS further found a crab sample of the same kind collected from one of the outlets containing cadmium at a level of 8.1 parts per million (ppm), exceeding the legal limit of 2 ppm,” a CFS spokesman said.
“The CFS has informed the importer and retailer concerned of the irregularity and learned that they have stopped sale of the product in question. The CFS is also tracing the source and distribution of the affected product. Should there be sufficient evidence, prosecution will be instituted,” the spokesman added.
According to Hong Kong’s Food Adulteration (Metallic Contamination) Regulations (Cap 132V), any person who sells food with metallic contamination above the legal limits is liable upon conviction to a fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months.
The spokesman said that edible portions of a crab’s cephalothorax (mainly consists of internal organs such as crab roes and hepatopancreas) are generally tainted with higher levels of cadmium and other contaminants. People who consume more crab should avoid consuming the cephalothorax. Businesses were also advised to ensure that all foods sold in Hong Kong comply with the legal requirements.
As for the Gold Plum brand of Superior Mature Vinegar made by Jiangsu Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs I/E Group Corp. located on mainland China, CFS sampling found it contained ethyl para-hydroxybenzoate at a level of 187 parts per million.
Hong Kong does not permit use of the preservative at any level. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $50,000 and six months imprisonment. CFS has informed the restaurant concerned of the irregularity.
According to information provided by the restaurant, the bottled vinegar was purchased at a stall in Kowloon City Market and was served as a condiment for use by customers only. The restaurant has voluntarily surrendered the remaining portion of the bottled vinegar to CFS for disposal. The agency is tracing the source of the affected product.
Ethyl para-hydroxybenzoate is a preservative of low toxicity. Based on the level detected in the sample, it is unlikely that the sample would pose any adverse health effect upon normal levels of consumption.
CFS also found excessive pesticide residues exceeding legal limits in one bitter gourd sample, one Indian lettuce sample and one Chinese lettuce sample and is following up on the cases.
“The CFS collected the three samples at the import level for testing under its regular Food Surveillance Program,” the spokesman explained. “The test results showed that the bitter gourd sample contained cypermethrin at a level of 0.092 parts per million (ppm), about 1.32 times the maximum residue limit (0.07 ppm). The Indian lettuce and Chinese lettuce samples contained cyhalothrin at levels of 0.27 ppm and 0.49 ppm, e.g., 1.35 times and 2.45 times, respectively, of the maximum residue limit (0.2 ppm).
“Based on the levels of pesticide residues detected in the samples, adverse health effects will not be caused with usual consumption.”
Generally speaking, to reduce pesticide residues in vegetables, CFS tells consumers to rinse vegetables several times under running water, then soak them in water for one hour, or blanch them in boiling water for one minute and discard the water. To further reduce the intake of pesticide residues, the outer leaves or peel of the vegetables can also be removed as appropriate.
Any person who imports, manufactures or sells any food not in compliance with the requirements of Hong Kong’s Pesticide Residues in Food Regulation (Cap 132CM) concerning pesticide residues commits an offense and is liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and to imprisonment for six months upon conviction.
Since the regulation came into effect on August 1, 2014, CFS has taken over 84 300 food samples at import, wholesale and retail levels for testing of pesticide residues, and a total of 163 vegetable and fruit samples (including Friday’s unsatisfactory samples) have been detected as having excessive pesticide residues. The overall unsatisfactory rate is less than 0.2 per cent.
CFS will follow up on the unsatisfactory results, including tracing the sources and distribution of the food in question and taking samples for testing so as to safeguard public health. The investigation is ongoing.
Hong Kong is a city and autonomous territory on the Pearl River Delta containing more than 7.2 million people. It is a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China.
Egypt says its frozen and fresh strawberries are Hepatitis A-free
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/10/egypt-says-all-its-frozen-and-fresh-strawberries-are-hepatitis-a-free/#.WA1xIuCLSUl
By DAN FLYNN (Oct 17, 2016)
Egypt’s reaction to the Hepatitis A outbreak in the United States sourced to frozen strawberries exported from the Middle East nation may not be any more meaningful than its response to Europe’s massive 2011 E. coli outbreak.
This time, Egypt’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment said that frozen strawberries originating from the country are, based on sampling, Hepatitis-free. Said to be the world’s fourth-largest strawberry producer, Egypt has been working on that answer since August.
With its strawberry production pegged at $330 million, Egypt was granted access to the U.S. market in February 2013. And when the Hepatitis A outbreak began last summer, Egypt’s Union of Producers and Exporters declined to take responsibility.
In 2011, Egypt was a focus of the epidemiological investigation because the fenugreek seeds still thought to be the most likely source of the rare E. coli outbreak were imported into Germany from there.
But when Europe’s top food safety laboratory said it found the infected shipment of Egyptian fenugreek seeds that killed 50 people, Agriculture Minister Ayman Abu-Hadid said Egypt had nothing to do with it and instead blamed Israel.
Europe’s massive E. coli outbreak did have the misfortune of occurring right after Egypt was roiling as its government was upended in the Arab Spring. It meant, according to some, that the fenugreek seed investigation ended prematurely as theory.
This time, Egypt’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment says it is tightening controls on frozen strawberries with an emphasis on preventing the entry of contaminated products. U.S investigators believe the Tropical Smoothie Café chain was the only U.S. business to import these particular Hep A-tainted frozen strawberries.
The latest report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has 131 Hep A victims due to the tainted berries through Sept. 29. And the Virginia Department of Health says 107 of those positive for the virus are residents of the Old Dominion, where the most Tropical Smoothie outlets are located.
Other victims are scattered across seven additional states. As of Sept. 29, about 40 percent, or 52 people, have required hospitalization. Further updates are expected this week.
The outbreak strain of Hepatitis A was identified previously in Egyptian strawberries. Officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are reportedly in communication with their Egyptian counterparts, but how far that goes is not known. The Food Safety Modernization Act promises to hold foreign and domestic producers to the same standards.
When fresh produce is responsible for an outbreak in the U.S., FDA investigations are known for getting down to the specific “farm, field, and row.” Egypt claims it did some sampling and has issued the “all clear.”
And Egypt’s export of 40 million tons of fresh and frozen strawberries to 30 different countries, including the U.S., will continue.
Ireland gives fresh produce growers new food safety guidance
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/10/ireland-gives-fresh-produce-growers-new-food-safety-guidance/#.WA1wJ-CLSUl
BY DAN FLYNN (Oct 14, 2016)
No, Ireland’s new guidance for growing fresh produce is not just for potato growers.
The new guidance document and leaflet are available for free download at www.fsai.ie.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has published the new guidance to help growers with the safe production of all fresh produce coming off Irish farms and more is involved than advice for those potatoes that go with many an Irish beef or lamb dish.
And those meat and potato meals have never been as simple as we remember. Irish grown onions, chives, cabbages, celery, wild garlic and leeks are part of the recipe.
Apples and plums are favorites with Irish produce growers along with berries and nuts. And there is always the fruit of the colorful strawberry trees. The FSAI guidance is for fresh produce growers, including fresh fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, sprouted seeds, edible flowers and herbs.
The FSAI guidance is the product of a working group that included growers, processors, retailers and state experts. The fresh products covered by the guidance document include components that are said to be integral to the Irish diet.
“As such, it is important that growers producing fresh produce in Ireland use good agriculture and hygiene practices to reduce risk and improve the safety of fresh produce for all consumers,” said FSAI’s announcement.
The new guidance comes at a time when outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with fresh produce are increasing. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has identified that fresh produce such as leafy greens, bulb and stem vegetables, tomatoes, melons, fresh pods, legumes, grains, sprouted seeds and berries pose the highest risks to consumers.
In 2013, frozen berries caused 240 confirmed cases of hepatitis, with a probable 1,075 further cases across 11 European countries, including Ireland. The FSAI’s advice to boil all frozen imported berries before consumption is still in place, as contaminated berries could still be circulating in the food chain.
According to FSAI Chief Executive Pamela Byrne, anything that comes into contact with fresh produce has the potential to cause contamination and it is vital that growers take the necessary steps to limit contamination of fresh produce in the first instance.
Anyone producing fresh produce for sale in Ireland must be registered as a grower with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The guidance cites eight key areas which growers should address to help reduce risk and improve food safety, including:
Choose the right site to grow fresh produce;
Restrict the access of animals, pests and people to that site;
Use organic fertilizers safely;
Use pesticides safely;
Source and use a safe water supply;
Use good harvesting practices;
Train staff and provide good staff facilities; and
Put a system of traceability and recall in place.
The FSAI acknowledged and thanked the working group that assisted in developing the guidance document. It was comprised of growers, processors, retailers as well as representatives of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Bord Bia, Teagasc, the EPA and the Irish Farmers Association.
Now is the Time for Compliance with FSMA and HARPC
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/signature-series/now-is-the-time-for-compliance-with-fsma-and-harpc/
By Dr. Zia Siddiqi (Oct 12, 2016)
If your food processing facility hasn’t taken a close look at the new provisions that have rolled out this month as part of the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA), the time has come to pay attention.
September 2016 marks the date companies have to be in compliance with FSMA. This reform is the largest in the food safety industry in about 70 years, so it’s going to affect a lot of your operations, including your Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. Throw in the new Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls (HARPC) versus Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) discussion into the mix, and things can get confusing quickly.
You may have questions, which is why we’ve put together some responses that will help you out.
What is FSMA and How Will It Affect Me?
At its core, FSMA is a move to make food safety a more proactive approach across the U.S. Signed into law in 2011, its goal is to keep the food supply safe by encouraging preventative techniques to avoid contamination, versus reacting to contamination problems after the fact.
With the first deadline upon us, it’s time to start working to become compliant. But which set of rules should you follow? Traditionally, HACCP guidelines were the ones to follow, but now many food processing facilities will have to follow a new, more stringent set of guidelines called HARPC.
Depending on the type of business in question, deadlines for compliance are as follows:
Very small businesses averaging less than $1 million per year in annual sales of human food: September 2018
Business subject to the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance: September 2018
Small business with fewer than 500 full-time employees: September 2017
All other businesses: September 2016
HARPC vs. HACCP – What’s the Difference?
HACCP is a global set of guidelines that addressed food safety through the analysis and control of biological, chemical and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling, manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product. It focused on CCPs to minimize risk.
Since the passing of FSMA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration instituted a new set of guidelines that are a sort of evolution of HACCP regulations. These are the new HARPC regulations, meaning that even if you are compliant with HACCP, you will need to ensure compliance with the newer HARPC guidelines.
HARPC mandates that companies have written plans that identify potential risk-based hazards, enumerate how to prevent those hazards, list monitoring procedures and specify the actions to take if an issue does occur. It is also necessary to record of all of this information and keep it on hand.
The biggest difference in the HARPC standards is the aforementioned emphasis on risk-based prevention versus reaction. Food processors have to take into account all of the potential risks to their product, including naturally occurring hazards and anything that might intentionally or unintentionally get introduced to their facility. These potential risks need to be accounted for in your food safety plan along with actions to be taken if an issue does arise.
Because the potential hazards under HARPC go beyond CCPs, here are some new things to consider and include in your food safety plan:
Biological, chemical, physical and radiological hazards
Natural toxins, pesticides, drug residues, decomposition, parasites, allergens and unapproved food and color additives
Naturally occurring hazards or unintentionally introduced hazards
Intentionally introduced hazards (including acts of terrorism)
While HACCP standards generally did not apply to all food processors, HARPC covers almost every food processor.
If you already have a HACCP plan in place, it is far easier to modify it than start from scratch. Primarily, you want to focus on identifying and creating solutions for naturally occurring and unintentional issues that your food processing facility might face.
In addition, HARPC mandates that plans are reanalyzed at least every 3 years or more often as any internal changes impacting food safety are made.
How Does This Affect My IPM Program?
An IPM program already emphasizes prevention tactics over chemical treatments when dealing with pests, so your IPM plan won’t need to be overhauled. Your program needs to include regular monitoring, analysis and documentation.
Check the current IPM program in place and make sure that you are considering all of the potential risk factors listed in your food safety plan. Consider putting monitoring devices and traps around your facility to give you a better idea of where pests might be hiding or entering. Ask your pest management professional to give you regular updates on the status of these tools and don’t forget to document everything along the way.
It’s also a good idea to ask your pest management professional to provide training for your staff. Employees should always be encouraged to come forward immediately should a pest sighting occur. Every facility’s IPM program is different, so getting tips specific to your facilities specific pest issues will be a huge help in the fight against invasive pests.
Becoming compliant takes time, as changes to your IPM program and to your facility’s everyday procedures can’t be done overnight. As FSMA starts to kick in, you’ll be a step ahead of the game if you start making these proactive and preventive changes now.
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