Top food safety stories of 2016 include criminal investigations
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/12/top-food-safety-stories-of-2016-include-criminal-investigations/#.WGIRpPmLSUl
BY NEWS DESK (Dec 26, 2016)
2016 surf and sandThe editors of Food Safety News have complied this list of major news from 2016. While the year will no doubt be best remember for its presidential election, there were other milestones worth remembering as we prepare to turn the page and begin the New Year.
No. 10 — Mike Taylor leaves FDA, heads to the major leagues
The food safety leadership changes now occurring across the board in the federal government began last spring when Dr. Stephen Ostroff took over for attorney Mike Taylor as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine.
Taylor, with a JD from the University of Virginia College of Law, returned to government at the birth of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was the federal government’s response to a string of troubling and often deadly outbreaks of foodborne illness. FSMA was passed in the final days of 2010 with large bipartisan margin.
Taylor’s appointment to implement it was not without controversy. After all, he led an internal policy group for fanatic-hated Monsanto Company for 16 months after he left government the first time. His many critics never knew or cared that his USDA leadership during the Clinton administration banned a dangerous pathogen in meat (E. coli O157:H7) and for the first time adopted modern, science-based methods for preventing or minimizing such pathogen contamination in raw products.
The Obama administration brought him back for a second act to implement FSMA, and run the food divisions of FDA. FSMA called for prevention, not just reaction to food illnesses and deaths. Taylor headed up teams of FDA personnel who were charged with writing and adopting rules to make the new law work.
Taylor’s exit, to the well-connected Freedman Consulting, last June marked the start of the current period of transition being experienced at FDA and across the other federal good safety agencies. The changes in personnel probably won’t be complete until well into 2017.
As the man at the center of both the E. coli E. coli O157H:7 crisis 22 years ago and implementing FSMA since 2010, Taylor’s departure from government was a major food safety story of 2016.
No. 9 — Catfish inspection program survives the move to USDA
Just before the year began, catfish inspection was moved to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) under a Memorandum of Understanding signed by both USDA and the FDA. Under that agreement, called for in both the 2008 and 2014 Farm Bills, the new catfish inspection program took effect on March 1, 2016, with an 18 month transition period. Next Sept. 1, full enforcement begins.
Yet, it’s somewhat surprising the new catfish inspection program remained intact and on-track as the year ended. The Senate voted to shift it back to FDA under a resolution that will expire at year’s end without a House vote. The steam for such a vote might have been lost after a Dec. 7 hearing at which the Government Accountability Office acknowledged the MOU ended duplication between FDA and USDA.
No. 8 — Blue Bell just can’t shake the Listeria blues
After a tough year in 2015 that saw modern science identify and link a deadly, five-year, multi-state Listeria outbreak to its iconic ice cream, Blue Bell Creameries was supposed to be on a recovery track in 2016.
Ice cream lovers waited with spoons in hand for announcements about when Blue Bell would be back in their local stores. Company officials dribbled out information as the U.S. Department of Justice investigated what Blue Bell knew and when in relation to the Listeria that sickened 10 and killed three.
Justice won’t comment on the investigation, so the Brenham, TX, ice cream giant is headed into another New Year with the possibility of criminal charges it its future. Blue Bell officials came out early in 2016 with a report stating Listeria will always be a threat. They said their new cleaning, sanitizing and testing programs are keeping their customers safe as possible, though.
Texas officials imposed a fine and put Blue Bell on a short leash in July 2016. An agreement between Blue Bell and the Texas State Department of Health Services requires the company to pay $175,000 within 30 days of the signing of the agreement. Another $675,000 — for a total fine of $850,000 — must be “held in abeyance” and would go to the state if Blue Bell fails to meet food safety requirements in the coming 18 months.
Two months after signing the agreement with Texas, Blue Bell was again recalling ice cream because of potential Listeria contamination, but this time blaming cookie dough from a supplier as the source. That claim turned out to be true and cookie dough producer Aspen Hills Inc. of Garner, IA, recalled its dough, triggering a series of secondary recalls of other products.
No. 7 — DeCoster becomes a case name as the egg men appeal to Supreme Court
It was a surprising twist of events that bought us to this point, but it’s possible that by this time next year the DeCoster name will be case name found in law books.
That’s what will happen if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to take up the appeals of Austin “Jack” and Peter DeCoster v. U.S. The court has invited the DeCoster attorney, former acting Attorney General of the Untied States, Peter D. Keisler, to file a writ of certiorari by Jan. 10, 2017.
Acceptance of the writ, which is rare, would mean the two DeCoster v. U.S. cases would be heard on a consolidated basis by the highest court in the land. It would also likely mean the DeCoster name would become a case name. At one time, many though 82-year old “Jack” DeCoster was the largest egg producer in the U.S.
But the DeCoster name was also known for the family businesses that had environmental, labor, and food safety violations from Iowa to Maine. Their history is why a federal judge in Sioux City, IA, decided to sentence both “Jack” DeCoster and his 52-year old son Peter, each to three months in federal prison.
Each DeCoster plead guilty to adulterated food from their egg production facilities in Iowa getting into interstate commence, and each agreed to pay $100,000 fines. A near-record $6.8 million fine was also paid by their Quality Egg Corp., which plead guilty to two felonies and the same misdemeanor each DeCoster was charged with.
DeCoster attorneys argued the DeCoster’s as “responsible corporate officials” without personal knowledge of a violation, cannot be jailed for it. They appealed and lost, but that set the case up for the Supreme Court because 8th Circuit decision is not consistent with precedents in other circuits.
And while, few get to the Supreme Court, only the high court can bring about consistency among the circuit courts. That’s how DeCoster might become a case name.
No. 6 — FSMA goes live
The birth date for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was Jan. 4, 2011, when it was signed into law by President Obama. The start date, however, came during May 2016 when all seven of foundational rules to implement the new law were finished.
The starting point remains where its been for awhile — about 48 million illnesses or 1 in 6 Americans get sick from foodborne diseases each year. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 128,000 people require hospitalization and 3,000 die.
The foundational rules include: Preventive controls for human foods; Preventive controls for animal food; produce safety; foreign supplier verification; third-party certification; sanitary transportation; and intentional adulteration. All are now effective, although there are staggered compliance dates and enforcement dates, depending on business size and other factors.
No. 5 — Listeria in CRF Frozen Foods products and plant
Another multi-year, multi-state Listeria outbreak — this one running from September 2013 through May 2016 — was discovered in 2016 and traced to CRF Frozen Foods of pasco, WA, thanks to public health scientists sharing data.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ultimately reported that nine people were sickened across four states. All required hospitalization. Three died. CRF closed its plant and ultimately recalled all of the frozen vegetables and fruits it had produced from May 1, 2014, trough June 2016.
The FDA facilitated the recall of at least 456 products related to this outbreak. CRF Frozen Foods recalled 358 products and at least 98 other products were recalled by firms that received CRF’s recalled products. Ajinomoto Windsor Inc. recalled almost 50 million pounds of its meat products made with CRF’s vegetable and fruit products.
Although CDC closed its outbreak investigation there is an ongoing threat because of the long shelf life the frozen products, some of which have best-by dates through April 2018. Consumers could still become ill from the products because Listeria monocytogenes can survive freezing temperatures.
No. 4 — E. coli outbreak linked to flour rocks General Mills, food industry
As with the ongoing Listeria threat from CRF’s frozen vegetables and fruits, additional E. coli infections are possible in a 24-state outbreak traced to flour made at General Mills’ plant in Kansas City, MO.
And as with CRF and Blue Bell, high-tech sleuthing by epidemiologists at the CDC and state health labs across the country are credited with cracking the case. Initially investigators, who had been watching the situation since December 2015, found a common denominator of raw dough among some of the 63 victims.
The dough led to flour and General Mills ended up recalling a total of 45 tons of the baking mainstay sold in consumer packages and large bulk lots to other food companies. Federal investigators matched E. coli from flour from bags in consumers’ homes in multiple states to pathogen isolates infecting the outbreak victims, ultimately identifying two strains O121 and O26.
General Mills issued its first flour recall related to the outbreak on May 31. After the outbreak strain of E, coli was found in victims’ homes the company expanded the recall twice.
In addition to the recalled General Mills flour — Gold Medal, Signature Kitchens and Wondra brands — a variety of packaged and fresh-baked foods, as well as shelf-stable baking mixes, were pulled back by manufacturers because they were made with the implicated flour. Some meat and poultry products that had the flour as a breading ingredient were also recalled.
National brands including Marie Callender’s and Betty Crocker were among those implicated in the main and secondary recalls. A list of the recalled products is available on the CDC website.
The outbreak also caused FDA and CDC to repeat warnings not to eat raw dough or batter.
3. — Dole knew of Listeria but kept salad plant running; 4 of 33 victims died
A number of factors combined to propel this ongoing story to the No. 3 spot for 2016 — it spanned an international boundary; was directly responsible for one death and implicated in three others; spurred the CDC to alter its outbreak victim questionnaire; and launched a criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.
The criminal investigation is still pending.
Inspection reports obtained by Food Safety News revealed that company officials at Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc. knew their salad production plant was contaminated with Listeria since at least mid-2014. Dole did not suspend production at the Springfield, OH, plant until on Jan. 21, 2016, after a random test by state officials found the pathogen in a bagged salad from a grocery store.
From mid-2014 through the end of 2015 internal testing revealed Listeria in the plant at least nine times. Dole’s vice president for quality assurance and food safety, as well as the company’s quality assurance manager, were also aware of internal tests on Jan. 5 and 7, 2016, that showed Listeria on equipment and other surfaces in the plant.
Dole continued to produce and ship salads until after the CDC posted an outbreak notice.
The CDC had become aware of the ongoing Listeria outbreak in fall of 2015. Investigators caught a break and linked the outbreak to Dole salads in 2016 after the Listeria found by the routine product sampling by the Ohio Department of Agriculture matched the outbreak victims.
The coincidental nature of the detection of the source was another example of how the investment of government resources into the CDC’s PulseNet database and whole genome sequencing of pathogens is paying off.
This outbreak also revealed a hole in the CDC’s outbreak victim questionnaire. It did not ask victims if they had eaten leafy greens before becoming ill, partly because Listeria had never before been linked to them.
“During December 2015 and January 2016, eight new or previously interviewed patients or their surrogates participated in open-ended interviews or provided shopper card records, and all reported consuming leafy greens in the month before illness onset,” CDC reported when it announced it was adding the leafy greens question to its standard questionnaire.
The Dole salad outbreak generated high consumer interest, according to the CDC, which reported the agency’s Web page on the outbreak received more than 787,000 page views, more than any other outbreak to date.
No. 2 — Federal GMO label law crushes states’ efforts to force disclosure
A Senate compromise bill for labeling food with genetically modified ingredients earned bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress and was signed by President Barak Obama in 2016.
The new law ends years of debate and supersedes attempts by states to impose disclosure requirements for labeling on foods that are made with genetically engineered or genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The only state law in effect at the time the new federal law was signed was Vermont’s, which took effect July 1, 2016.
The Secretary of Agriculture must now come up with a symbol or notice about GMOs that food manufacturers can use on their packages. QR codes that can be scanned with smartphones, website addresses and toll-free telephone numbers are among the options.
More than 1,000 food and agricultural organizations supported the compromise. It allows food producers to choose how they want to disclose the presence of genetically modified ingredients in their products.
In a letter circulated by the Center for Food Safety, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson asked Obama to veto the compromise bill because of its reliance on smart phones.
Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), urged Obama to “sign this bill quickly.” GMA did much of the heavy lifting on behalf of the national labeling law.
“Vermont’s mandatory on-package GMO labeling law took effect on July 1 and threatens the nation’s food supply chain with costly and lasting disruptions,” Bailey said in July 2016. “Already, consumers in Vermont are finding fewer products on the shelves and small businesses are facing higher costs of compliance.”
No. 1 — Chipotle Mexican Grill finds out how much food safety failures cost
There is a lot that’s still unknown about the string of foodborne illness outbreaks among patrons of Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants in 2015, but one thing became crystal clear in 2016. Bouncing back from burrito blunders isn’t as easy as founder Steve Ells said it would be.
The last in the series of six 2016 Chipotle outbreaks wasn’t declared over until February 2016. By then the Denver-based fast-food chain’s stock had dropped from its all-time closing high of $557.77 on Aug. 5, 2015, to below $400. By June 14, 2016, analysts said they thought the stock would bottom out at $384.77 per share, but it dipped even lower in recent weeks.
Through 2016 the chain’s founder predicted customers would return. He and the company gave away free food, retrained employees in food handling and hand hygiene, imposed an automatic closure protocol in the event of anyone vomiting at a restaurant, floated new product ideas, gave away more free food and made the talk show rounds.
The third-quarter numbers did not bear out Ells predictions. Net income for Q3 was only $7.8 million, compared with the previous year when Chipotle took in $144.9 million net.
Another crucial number for the third quarter was much lower than Ells had hoped. Same store sales were down more than 21 percent. The third quarter was also the fourth consecutive quarterly report showing year-over-year revenue declines
Whether changes at the top, made in late 2016, will boost the chain to its earlier glory will be revealed Feb. 2, 2017, when the fourth-quarter results are reported.
Those changes include billionaire investor Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management picking up a 9.9 percent stake in Chipotle; the resignation Monty Moran who had been co-CEO since 2009; and the installation of four new board members.
The bottomline impact of civil lawsuits brought by more than 100 of the more than 500 people sickened in the Chipotle outbreaks will remain unknown as confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements gag all parties.
Beverage and Packaged Food Makers to Fare Well in 2017
Source : http://www.qualityassurancemag.com/article/beverage-and-packaged-food-makers-to-fare-well-in-2017/
By qualityassurancemag.com (Dec 22, 2016)
According to Moody's Investors Service 2017 outlook, the coming year will be positive for the U.S. packaged foods sector. Although consumer spending on food will be relatively flat at 1% to 2%, cost-cutting will improve companies' profitability and cash flows, as will plant rationalization. In 2017, product innovation will give way to renovation, which will include upgrading packaging, ingredients, flavoring and labeling.
Among companies that face near-term changes or challenges are Kellogg, with no significant growth in sight for its U.S. cereal business, while performance in snacks is mixed, which ups the stakes for achieving targeted "Project K" cost savings. In the coming year, TreeHouse Foods will face integration challenges with Private Brands as key operating and IT systems are taken in-house. Chobani Holdings, CSM Bakery and Del Monte Foods will all need to significantly improve their operating performance to sustain their current credit profiles, Moody's said. M&A in general will be slow in the packaged food business, though companies including Kraft-Heinz, Tyson Foods, Pinnacle Foods and Mondelez International could look to make strategic purchases.
The outlook for global beverage companies will be stable, Moody's said. Sales of premium brands will continue to be strong, though growth in some developed markets will remain challenged and in emerging markets it will continue to be slow. Industry EBIT is expected to increase 4% to 5%.
Among companies, Constellation Brands Inc. will continue to deleverage after investing in glass and further capacity expansion at its Mexican brewery. Diageo's credit metrics should strengthen on the back of improved performance and weakness in the British pound. And Kirin's profitability will remain weak due to strong competition in the Japanese market and losses from its Brazilian business.
Click here to access the full Moody's report, "Consumer Products, Durables, Food and Beverages - 2017 Outlook - Positive for most subsectors." The report is part of a series of 2017 Credit Outlooks that provide insight into next year's credit conditions across all sectors. See more at www.moodys.com/2017outlooks.
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Cilantro blamed in E. coli outbreak despite negative lab results
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/12/cilantro-blamed-in-e-coli-outbreak-despite-negative-lab-results/#.WGIShPmLSUl
BY CORAL BEACH (Dec 22, 2016)
An E. coli outbreak this past summer in Chicago that sickened more than 100 people was likely caused by fresh cilantro, according to the city’s final outbreak report, even though no food from the implicated restaurant tested positive for the pathogen.
The report from the Chicago Department of Public Health, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, also shows 16 of 40 food-handling employees of Carbón Live Fire Mexican Grill tested positive for E. coli soon after the restaurant’s two locations voluntarily closed for cleaning July 1.
However, the health department downplays the significance of the employee test results.
“Among the 40 food handlers interviewed none reported any history of gastrointestinal illness in the two weeks preceding or during the outbreak period, though absenteeism was reported for one. Nearly all food handlers had stool tests performed within one week after the restaurant closure,” according to the report.
Lab tests confirmed 69 people were sickened during the outbreak, with another 37 probable cases. Of the sick people, 22 had symptoms so severe that they required hospitalization. Illness onset dates ranged from June 3 to July 23.
Five of the 69 people confirmed with infections from the outbreak strains of E. coli reported they did not eat at the Carbón Live Fire Mexican Grill and five others were not available for interviews.
Cilantro is the suspected source of the E. coli based on percentages of sick people who ate menu items made with the fresh produce item. Inspectors collected 12 food items, including cilantro, but none of the food returned positive results for E. coli bacteria. The cilantro was sourced from Illinois and Mexico, according to traceback information provided to the health department.
“Lettuce was associated with illness in both multivariable models but was consumed by only 44 percent of cases,” according to the health department report.
“In comparison, cilantro was consumed by 87 percent of cases, and either cilantro or salsa fresca (which included cilantro) were consumed by 95 percent of cases.”
The report references “several critical violations” observed during a July 1 inspection, such as improper temperatures for several food items including red and green salsas, tequila lime sauce, raw fish, guacamole and cheese. Inspectors also noted improper hand hygiene practices among food handlers.
During the voluntary closure of the two Carbón Live Fire Mexican Grill locations the restaurants were cleaned and staff was trained in proper food handling and hand hygiene, according to the report. The the south and west side restaurants re-opened on July 9 and 29, respectively.
Health officials praise the restaurant owner in the report. The owner not only closed temporarily, he also pulled Carbón from the high-profile Taste of Chicago event.
“Closure of the restaurant during the early stage of the investigation prevented additional cases of illness from occurring,” according to the conclusion of the report.
The report’s conclusion also suggests that all of the cilantro and other food samples that tested negative for E. coli may not have been representative of food that sickened customers.
“(E. coli) was not isolated from cilantro or cilantro-containing food items collected from the restaurant or the restaurant’s distributor. Inability to isolate STEC from food samples may have been hindered by imperfect sensitivity of testing, imperfect representativeness of food samples, or turnover of produce items through the distribution chain leading to items no longer being contaminated at the time of collection,” according to the report conclusion, which waffled on the topic of whether food handlers played a role.
“Additionally, cross-contamination during food preparation and transmission by food handlers who were found to have STEC infection likely contributed to the outbreak.”
Clostridium Perfringens was in Gravy at Golden Ponds NY Restaurant
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/clostridium-perfringens-was-in-gravy-at-golden-ponds-ny-restaurant/
By News Desk (Dec 22, 2016)
According to the Democrat & Chronicle, Clostridium perfringens in gravy was the probable cause of the large food poisoning outbreak at Golden Ponds restaurant in Greece, New York on Thanksgiving 2016. Laboratory testing found the bacteria in gravy samples taken from the restaurant and in stool samples of patients who ate there.
More than 260 people were sickened in that outbreak. And four of those patients were hospitalized because their illness was so severe. All have been released from the hospital, and everyone has recovered.
The restaurant apparently made the gravy in a very large single container. It can be very difficult to keep food served and stored in large containers at a safe serving temperature. Clostridium perfringens bacteria are present in human intestines, in the environment, and in food. The bacteria grow quickly at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F, and produce a toxin that works quickly, producing violent illness.
This type of outbreak usually occurs when large amounts of food are served to a large number of people. Nursing homes, schools, restaurants, and other institutions are frequently at the center of Clostridium perfringens outbreaks. Food handlers at these institutions must be educated on how to keep and serve food at safe temperatures to prevent illness.
The bacteria is listed as a “suspected” cause in the Monroe County Public Health report, but the symptoms, timing, and other factors all match. Investigators do not know how the bacteria got into the food.
The symptoms of Clostridium perfringens food poisoning include abdominal pain, stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. Most people sickened with this bacteria do not experience vomiting. And the symptoms occur quickly, usually within hours of exposure to the bacteria.
To prevent this type of food poisoning, food handlers should always wash their hands well after using the bathroom and before preparing food. Food should never be stored in very large containers. And food should be served in small containers that are kept at a safe temperature using hot plates or other appliances. Any food kept in a large container, especially foods such as gravy and soups, can harbor cold spots where bacteria can flourish.
Golden Ponds was re-inspected recently and passed the inspection with no issues. Earlier inspections had revealed problems such as the presence of insects and rodents, and food contact surfaces not being cleaned after use.
Food Safety in the Kitchen Starts With Food Safety at the Grocery Store
Source : http://www.twcnews.com/nys/capital-region/healthy-living/2016/12/21/food-safety-in-the-kitchen-starts-with-food-safety-at-the-grocery-store.html
By Katie Gibas (Dec 22, 2016)
Tarin Parker and Nick Laboy are just a couple of the student chefs meeting the busy lunchtime rush at the Emerson School of Hospitality's restaurant.
Students at the culinary high school learn on day one, that food safety starts at the grocery store.
"Just place the meat on one side of your cart and all of the vegetables and other stuff on the other side," Laboy said.
And when you get home, same goes for the fridge; keep those meats bagged and separate from fresh food.
When it is time to start your meal, keep even different types of meat away from each other.
"Bacteria from one meat can go to the other, and if something doesn't need to cook as long as the other, that bacteria can still be alive," Parker said.
"You should have a vegetable board and a meat board, and when you notice that your board starts to get grooves, it's probably time to get a new board because that becomes more difficult to clean," said Dr. Thomas Russo, University at Buffalo infectious disease specialist.
And it's not just beef, pork and poultry that require special handling; all of those holiday cookies hold a hidden danger too.
"Regular flour that you get from the supermarket actually could be contaminated with harmful bacteria," Russo said. "So even if there aren't any raw eggs in your dough, there is a risk that you could get a potentially serious bacterial infection."
And while you and your loved ones feast on that special day, eating and then eating again, remember don't keep food out on the table for more than two hours.
"All leftovers should be heated again to 140 degrees and the reason for that is that there are certain bacteria that could form spores that might not be killed with the original cooking," Russo said.
That way the only thing you'll be spreading is holiday cheer.
LR Acquires Acoura to Strengthen Market Position for Food Safety Services
Source : http://www.foodingredientsfirst.com/news/LR-Acquires-Acoura-to-Strengthen-Market-Position-for-Food-Safety-Services?type=article
By foodingredientsfirst.com (Dec 21, 2016)
Lloyd’s Register (LR), the global engineering, technical and business services organization, has acquired Acoura, the UK’s leading compliance and safety specialists for the food and drink industry, to strengthen the market-leading position of LRQA’s food safety assurance services. LRQA is a member of the LR group and a leading provider of professional assurance services.
With over 28,000 customers in the food and beverage sector, Acoura is one of the UK’s leading providers of risk and compliance services and uses scalable supply chain technology solutions to deliver a wide range of food inspection, advisory and training services.
The acquisition of Acoura will strengthen LRQA’s position within the food sector by expanding their offer into new markets, underpinned with technology. Together, LRQA and Acoura will offer a unique proposition to the global food sector thereby delivering increased brand protection for customers through end-to-end supply chain assurance from farm to fork.
Commenting on the acquisition, John Rowley, LRQA Managing Director said, “The move further strengthens LRQA’s ability to offer a wide range of food safety assurance services to deliver additional value to the many thousands of customers that we serve worldwide by enabling them to efficiently and effectively manage their supply chain, risk and compliance issues.”
The acquisition builds on LRQA’s stated commitment of using technology to drive supply chain resilience through real-time traceability and transparency. It will also enable the design and deployment of globally specific business improvement services, including customised training and assurance services for food supply chains, leveraging LRQA’s presence worldwide.
“The visibility of real-time supply chain information – using Acoura’s technology platform to gather and report data - together with our collective food safety technical expertise - will enable us to deliver valuable insight to customers by enabling them to benchmark their suppliers and improve risk management,” summarized Rowley.
One of Acoura’s main clients is red meat promotion body Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) for which it currently delivers an independent assessment service as part of the quality assurance schemes which underpin the Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork brands.
Uel Morton, Chief Executive of QMS, said: “The announcement represents a fresh chapter in the history of Acoura, previously known as SFQC (Scottish Food Quality Certification). Quality assurance plays a crucial role in reassuring consumers about the integrity of the meat they buy. Given Lloyd’s Register’s impressive pedigree in this field of operation, we are fully confident that Acoura will continue to fully deliver its important remit for our industry.”
David Gregory, Acoura’s Non-Executive Chairman said; “LRQA is a leader within the food and beverage sector and we are confident that through the acquisition of Acoura they will be able to offer the widest range of specialist safety and compliance services available. Additionally, as part of the wider Lloyd’s Register group, we see this as representing a great home for both our customers and our staff. I firmly believe that over time, both will benefit from an increased range of global opportunities and services, as well as access to an even wider team of industry experts and specialists to collaborate with. This is a very exciting move for all involved and we’re determined to use the opportunity to better serve our customers, while also playing a leading role in LR’s future developments in the food and drink sector.”
CDC identifies bacteria that killed 3 who ate church meal
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/12/cdc-identifies-bacteria-that-killed-3-who-ate-church-meal/#.WGITb_mLSUl
By NEWS DESK (Dec 21, 2016)
A Thanksgiving Day meal served by a church group in Antioch, CA, that killed three people was evidently contaminated with the bacteria Clostridium perfringens.
“Clostridium perfringens is one of the most common foodborne illnesses in the U.S. It can be found in the human intestine without hurting us, but eating food containing large amounts of this bacteria can cause illness and in some cases death,” Louise McNitt, deputy health officer for Contra Costa Health Services, said in a news release late Tuesday.
It remains unknown exactly what food, or foods, served by members of the Golden Hills Community Church on Thanksgiving Day was contaminated. Several hundred people ate the food, served at an American Legion auditorium in Antioch.
“But after extensive interviews we found most of the ill people ate turkey and mashed potatoes and they all ate around the same time. Some dishes served at the event, including cooked turkey, were brought to the site after they were prepared in private homes,” Marilyn Underwood, county environmental health director, said in the release.
The local officials had said it might take months for laboratory confirmation of the specific pathogen responsible for the more than two dozen illnesses and three deaths. However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified the county it had confirmed the illnesses were caused by Clostridium perfringens.
Many of the estimated 800 people who ate the church meal on Nov. 24 were elderly or infirmed residents of assisted living centers, including the three people who died. They were 43-year-old Christopher Cappetti, 59-year-old Chooi Keng Cheah, and 69-year-old Jane Evans, according to the Associated Press.
All of the reported illnesses occurred within 24 hours of consuming food at the church dinner, which is in line with the CDC’s published information on Clostridium perfringens.
The bacteria is commonly found in meat and poultry, but thorough cooking kills it. However, extremely small amounts of it can survive on utensils and surfaces and cross contaminate cooked foods. It multiplies very quickly when foods are left at room temperature.
“During cooling and holding of food at temperatures from 54 F to140 F, the spores germinate and then the bacteria grow. … If the food is served without reheating to kill the bacteria, live bacteria may be eaten. The bacteria produce a toxin inside the intestine that causes illness,” according to the CDC.
“Foods that have dangerous bacteria in them may not taste, smell, or look different. Any food that has been left out too long may be dangerous to eat, even if it looks okay.”
To prevent the growth of Clostridium perfringens spores that might be in food after cooking beef, poultry, gravies, and other foods commonly associated with Clostridium perfringens infections should be kept at a temperature that is either warmer than 140 F or cooler than 41 F.
Leftover foods should be refrigerated at 40 F or below as soon as possible and within two hours of preparation. Foods should be covered. Leftovers should be reheated to at least 165 F before serving.
FDA Announces Updated FSMA Training Strategy
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/news/fda-announces-updated-fsma-training-strategy/
By Staff (Dec 21, 2016)
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published an updated training strategy that reflects progress made with the agency’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) over the past year or so.
Now, the latest is that FDA has awarded funding for the development of training curricula and delivery:
A cooperative agreement focused on small and mid-size businesses involved in local food production, including those that engage in sustainable and organic farming, has been awarded to the National Farmers Union Foundation.
A cooperative agreement focused on preparing food producers in Native American tribes has been awarded to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
Federal grants have been awarded for the establishment of regional centers to facilitate training delivery under FDA’s partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Recipients include:
Southern Regional Center: University of Florida
Western Regional Center: Oregon State University
North Central Regional Center: Iowa State University
Northeast Regional Center: University of Vermont and State Agricultural College
This program is focused on farmers, small food processors and small produce merchant wholesalers.
Today’s update is an evolution of two previous announcements. In October 2015, FDA shared its strategy to train domestic and foreign food producers and domestic importers on the preparations needed to meet requirements of the FSMA rules. This was followed by a May 2016 announcement that all seven foundational rules of FSMA were final.
Food Safety Modernization Act website, workshops offered by Penn State Extension
Source : http://news.psu.edu/story/443098/2016/12/21/impact/food-safety-modernization-act-website-workshops-offered-penn-state
By Amanda Yeager (Dec 21, 2016)
Pennsylvania produce growers, food processors and animal-feed producers striving to navigate the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) now have new educational resources to help them determine what their farms and businesses must do to comply with new regulations. Penn State Extension recently launched a new FSMA information website and will be organizing several FSMA educational workshops throughout the state during 2017.
Over the next several years, the Food and Drug Administration will begin enforcing the mandated food-safety activities and record-keeping requirements outlined in the law, passed by Congress in 2011. FSMA establishes regulatory practices that produce farmers, food processors and feed manufacturers must adopt to prevent contamination of fresh produce, and processed and manufactured human foods and animal feeds.
The act includes seven regulations, and current Penn State Extension resources focus on three that will significantly impact Pennsylvania's growers, distributors and processors: the Produce Safety Rule, the Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule, and the Preventive Controls for Animal Feed Rule.
"These rules represent a new approach toward preventing foodborne illnesses," said Luke LaBorde, associate professor of food science in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. "Food and feed businesses are charged to take a preventative, instead of a reactive, approach. This means that growers and processors will be responsible for understanding potential risks in their operations and developing science-based measures to control those risks before a problem actually occurs."
Penn State Extension's food-safety educators are helping the food and feed industries interpret and implement the new FSMA regulations, with a dual goal of protecting consumer health and ensuring the success of the produce growers and food and feed businesses so essential to Pennsylvania's economy. Utilizing current food-safety research and science-based solutions for the prevention of microbial contamination, Penn State Extension offers a wide array of food-safety programs, which have trained thousands of produce growers, food processors and food-service workers.
"Penn State can offer multidisciplinary expertise to meet the needs of the people we serve," said LaBorde. "With FSMA, we have statewide food science, horticultural and animal science educators who can provide information and solutions to help growers and processors adapt to the new regulations and facilitate the changes they need to make."
Visitors to Penn State Extension's new Food Safety Modernization Act website, at http://extension.psu.edu/fsma, will find educational videos designed to help growers and processors understand the FSMA law, identify which rule(s) may affect their operations, and determine whether or not they might qualify for one of the rule exemptions that apply to certain smaller-sized growers or processors.
Website visitors can also use the site to identify and communicate with educators on the cross-disciplinary team of food safety experts, which Penn State Extension has assembled to serve the agricultural and food industries affected by FSMA.
Penn State Extension is posting online news updates and articles about FSMA on the site, as well as other educational materials, such as flow charts, to lead produce growers, food processors, and animal feed manufacturers through the criteria that determine how FSMA rules may pertain to their operations. The FSMA website also includes listings and registration details for several upcoming workshops. New resources will be added to the site as they are developed to serve FSMA education needs.
Workshops are scheduled for 2017 that include official FSMA grower certification trainings and farm food-safety plan writing sessions. Three FSMA Produce Grower Certification trainings will be offered to Pennsylvania produce growers at a reduced rate, with support from the Pennsylvania Agricultural Resource Centers, a partnership between the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
On Jan. 30, Penn State Extension will offer an official FSMA Produce Grower Certification Training session at the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention in Hershey, organized by the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association. FSMA Produce Grower Certifications also will be held in Butler County on Feb. 21 and in Bedford County on March 24.
Farm Food-Safety Plan Writing workshops for growers will be held in Lebanon County on Feb. 9, in Butler County on March 7, and in Bedford County on March 31, and complete event details will be posted on the FSMA website as they become available. Online registration is encouraged; alternatively, calls may be placed to 814-445-8911 to register during normal business hours.
Penn State Extension also hosts Preventive Controls for Human Foods courses for food processors covered under the Preventive Controls Rule. One training specifically for dairy food processors is scheduled for Feb. 21-23 at University Park, and another course for all types of food processing will take place on March 21-23 in Malvern. Online registration is required for these workshops.
Additional FSMA training programs and details will be announced on the website as they are scheduled. Participants will be eligible to earn a completion certificate to satisfy related FSMA training requirements. Preregistration is required for all classes.
Undeclared Allergens and Automation: The Crossroad of Food Safety and the Reduction of Recalls
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/undeclared-allergens-and-automation-the-crossroad-of-food-safety-and-the-reduction-of-recalls/
By Amy Scanlin (Dec 20, 2016)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requires that food companies step up to the proverbial plate to improve their Hazard Analyses, Good Manufacturing Practices and processes for prevention of food recalls. These new requirements mandate that manufacturers monitor and verify everything from their supply chain management, equipment maintenance, ingredient specifications, required nutrient facts panel information and more.
While there are many solutions for preventive controls in any number of FSMA-specific components, one area of particular interest is automation, particularly in the area of packaging. In many cases, these solutions are geared towards solving problems on the factory floor before they have a chance to happen. This is an attractive option, and it helps prevent foodborne accidents such as undeclared allergens in the form of ensuring accurate product labeling.
While FDA has long declared that major allergens (milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts and soybeans) be clearly identified on food labels, a quick search of FDA recalls, both voluntary and via seizure, shows that undeclared allergens continue to be a serious problem. According to the American Institute of Baking, 43 percent of food product recalls are due to mislabeling. Subsequent recalls, reports a Deloitte study on Recall Executive Effectiveness, can cost up to $10 million, or more.
Human error is sometimes behind packaging mistakes, particularly during the manual set up of packaging line equipment. Errors such as an entering an incorrect date code, use of the wrong label, a packaging print error or placing the product in the wrong package entirely can result in a multitude of problematic outcomes for the company. These include spoilage and unsalable products in the instance of an incorrect date code as well as undeclared and/or incorrectly labelled allergens and ingredients in the case of the wrong packaging.
Food manufacturers are required to establish and implement a food safety system that prevents such problems, and this plan must include an analysis of potential existing hazards and preventive control plans to eliminate these risks. By preventing these packaging errors at the source, the requirement for corrective actions involving recalls of mislabeled or incorrectly packaged foods can be avoided, and food manufacturers can maximize the opportunity to get it “right the first time.”
Code assurance and packaging verification systems are examples of areas where automation is making inroads with food manufacturing facilities. Companies in the automation business say their software products can reduce coding errors, reduce packaging mistakes and reduce the risk of food recalls related to an undeclared allergen.
By following the Purdue Enterprise Reference Architecture model, automation systems facilitate enterprise integration that synchronizes business strategy with operational execution in real-time. Seamless integration between systems on the packaging lines provides the ability to couple control with food safety.
“FSMA’s many mandates, and its built-in flexibility in how to meet those requirements, should be strong motivation for food manufacturers to replace paper and general purpose software with 21st century tools to manage preventive controls, validation, verification, monitoring, supply chain management, recordkeeping and recalls,” says Charles Breen, EAS Consulting Group’s independent advisor for FSMA.
Indeed, automation and FSMA can go hand in hand, helping companies to proactively prevent the very situations that wreak havoc for the consumer, the manufacturer and for the bottom line. These preventive controls can represent the heart of what FDA’s FSMA aims to accomplish.
Answers to Three Most Common Food Safety Questions
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/answers-to-three-most-common-food-safety-questions/
By News Desk (Dec 20, 2016)
During the holidays, hotlines for consumer cooking and baking questions light up. Many people cook traditional foods this time of the year, and have questions about food safety or because the recipes are vague. FoodSafety.gov is answering three of the most common questions they get this time of year about preparing and storing holiday foods.
Question one is: I bought a fresh turkey last week. Is it still safe to eat? How long can I keep a fresh turkey in the fridge?
Fresh turkey should only be purchased one or two days before you cook it. If you do not cook the bird within two days, freeze it. It can be frozen indefinitely, but should be cooked within 1 year for best quality.
Question two is: Can holiday meats be cooked at temperatures below 250°F? And can I use an oven bag for roasting a turkey?
Roasting is a recommended method for cooking tender meats. But do not cook meat and poultry at a temperature lower than 325°F because the meat could remain in the “danger zone” of 40°F to 140°F too long and let bacteria grow. The temperature of 325°F will safely cook the meat and poultry and minimizes shrinkage because of evaporation.
If you want to use an oven bag to cook the turkey, follow the manufacturer’s cooking times. In general, for whole, unstuffed turkeys in bags, cook at 350°F. For an 8-12 pound turkey, cook for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. For a 12-16 pound turkey, cook for 2 to 2-1/2 hours. For a 16 to 20 pound turkey, cook for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. And for a 20 to 24 pound turkey, cook for 3 to 3-1/2 hours. The USDA has posted a roasting chart for safe cooking times and temperatures for other types of meat and poultry, including specialty meats such as crown roast of pork, beef tenderloin roast, and leg of lamb.
Question 3: How can I store and prepare fully cooked ham?
There are two types of hams: fully cooked and those that need to be cooke before you can eat them. The type should be clearly displayed on the label. Fully cooked hams can be eaten cold right out of the package, or reheated to 140°F. When storing these hams, follow the “best if used by” dates on the label. Remember that those dates indicate best quality, but you should use store-wrapped ham products within five days.
The hams that are sold raw should have the label “cook before eating” on them. They must be cooked to a minimum temperature of 145°F. Let the ham rest for at least three minutes so the temperature can rise and so the juices redistribute. Use this product within one week after purchase.
Followup tests begin Jan. 13 at poultry plants failing standards
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/12/followup-tests-begin-jan-13-at-poultry-plants-failing-standards/#.WGIU0PmLSUl
BY NEWS DESK (DEC 20, 2016)
Poultry processing plants that do not meet Salmonella control performance standards will have to conduct new follow-up sampling procedures beginning early next year, according to a notice from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
In a Dec. 16 notice, FSIS announced the new follow-up protocol for testing, referred to as sampling by the government, will take effect Jan. 13, 2017. The current performance standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter in not-ready-to-eat comminuted chicken and turkey products, including raw chicken parts, have been in effect since Feb. 11, this year.
The current allowable percentage positive rate for carcasses is 9.8 percent for young chicken and 7.1. percent for turkey during any completed 52-week moving window over the past three months.
FSIS has instructed its inspection program personnel (IPP) at poultry operations for young chickens and turkeys on the new procedures. Beginning on the start date next year, if Salmonella levels are exceeded, the poultry plants will be required to schedule carcass follow-up testing as soon as possible.
IPP staff are to inform plant management of the failure to meet the standards and conduct follow-up sampling when assigned by the Public Health Information System (PHIS). Currently the follow-up sampling will focus on carcasses only. Further instructions could expand the program’s target in the future.
The official notice says it is possible a poultry plant might fail during “consecutive moving windows,” but sampling will normally focus only on the “initial failue in a series.” IPP staff are not to “attempt to formally categorize an establishment by tracking their own testing results” since the FSIS Office of Data Integration and Food Protection (ODIFP) will be responsible for “performing this analysis and reporting.”
IPP staff will be responsible for providing the plant with a “sampling alert message” with details on the sampling that will occur. They also will meet with plant management.
ODIFP will conduct the follow-up testing, which is a largely automated process. It does rely on IPP staff collecting the samples, with at leat one per shift suggested.
The Top 10 most important foodborne outbreaks of 2016
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/12/the-top-10-most-important-foodborne-outbreaks-of-2016/#.WGIU9_mLSUl
BY DAN FLYNN (DEC 19, 2016)
The Top 10 most important outbreaks of 2016, according to the editors of Food Safety News, are presented here. Outbreaks were chosen for the list on a subjective basis, ranked by the number of fatalities and then the number of illnesses for outbreaks involving more than a single state.
The 2016 Top 10 outbreaks include a total of 10 deaths. Four of the outbreaks involved salmonella, three listeria, two Hepatitis A, and one E. coli. Interestingly, salmonella resistant to antibiotics came into play in one of the Top 10 and the single E. coli outbreak did not involve beef, but flour.
1. Live poultry and backyard flocks
Deadly and widespread, the were actually eight multi-state outbreaks of human Salmonella infections linked to live poultry and backyard flocks. They received barely a moment’s notice when the casualties were announced on Oct. 2, 2016. The report said three people died among the 895 confirmed cases of Salmonella, of which 209 required hospitalization. The cases were spread across 48 states. Salmonella serotypes in the outbreaks included
Enteritidis, Muenster, Hada, Indiana, Mbandaka, Infantis, Braenderup and Infantis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the victims had contact with live poultry and chicks from multiple hatcheries in the week before becoming ill. CDC cautioned people with backyard flocks on how to lower the risk of infections.
2. Frozen vegetables linked to outbreak of Listeria
More than 350 consumer products sold under 42 brand names and at lesst 100 other products prepared with ingredients from CRF Frozen Foods were recalled, but not before nine people in four states were put in hospitals with Listeria. Three died. CRF began recalling products April 23, 2016, and then on May 2, 2016, expanded its recall to included all organic and traditional frozen vegetable and fruit products produced at its Pasco, WA facility since May 1, 2014.
3. Hepatitis A from raw scallops
Two Hawaiians are dead and at least 292 were infected with Hepatitis A in 2016’s No. 3 outbreak. Raw scallops, which were harvested in the Philippines and served at Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai, were the likely source of the outbreak, according to the Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH). On Aug. 18, 2016, Sea Port Products Corp. recalled three lots of frozen bay scallops produced Nov. 23-24, 2015, in the Philippines and distributed to California, Nevada and Hawaii. CDC reports no Hepatitis A infections sourced to scallops outside of Hawaii. HDOH ordered the scallops embargoed and the temporarily closed the restaurants. Many Hawaii residents and visitors sought vaccinations, and all were on lookout for symptoms, which include yellow eyes or skin, abdominal pain, pale stools and dark urine. Except for 11 residents of Hawaii, Kauai, and Maui, and seven visitors who returned to the mainland or overseas, all the Hepatitis A victims were from Oahu.
4. Listeria linked to Dole packaged salads
One death was confirmed among 19 Listeria cases in nine states that were linked to packaged salads produced at the Dole processing plant in Springfield, OH. First reported on Jan. 22, 2016, all 19 Listeria victims required hospitalization. Dole recalled all salad mixes produced at its Springfield, OH, processing facility that were still on the market or in people’s homes. Isolates in the U.S. outbreak were also closely related to Listeria isolates from ill people in Canada. The fatality attributed to the outbreak was from Michigan and one of the illnesses was a pregnant woman.
5. Listeria outbreak linked to raw milk from Miller’s Organic Farm
On March 17, 2016, CDC issued one of its most controversial reports of the year. It had been unable to name the source of two Listeria illnesses that occurred in 2014 until whole genome sequencing of Listeria bacteria from raw milk produced by Miller’s Organic Farm showed it was “closely related” genetically — the phrase scientists use when regular people would say “matches” — to Listeria bacteria from cases investigated two years earlier. Raw milk advocates cried foul over the report, which led to a federal court ordering Miller’s Farm in Bird-in-Hand, PA, to submit to USDA’s inspection. CDC stuck to its science that the two cases, including a death in Florida, were linked to unpasteurized raw milk from Miller’s.
6. Hepatitis A linked to frozen strawberries
The second largest Hepatitis A outbreak of 2016 did not involve any deaths, but did result in 134 illnesses in nine states. Of those, 129 people reported eating a smoothie containing strawberries from a Tropical Smoothie Café. And 52 people with Hepatitis A symptoms, including yellow eyes or skin, abdominal pain, pale stools and dark urine, required hospitalization. On Oct. 30, 2016, The International Company for Agricultural Production and Processing (ICAPP) recalled strawberries imported from Egypt going back to Jan. 1, 2016. The frozen strawberries were imported for use by foodservice operations across the country, including restaurants, schools, hospitals, hotels and a wide variety of other entities.
7. E. coli infections linked to flour
On Sept. 29, 2016, CDC said the outbreak involving Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infections from flour was over, but illnesses might continue for “some time.” That’s because flour and other dry products with flour as an ingredient typically remain in people’s homes for a long time because of long shelve lives. That’s why consumers who are unaware of all the recalls associated with the seventh most important outbreak of 2016 might continue to get sick. When it was declared “over,” the flour outbreak had seen 63 confirmed illnesses in 24 states. No deaths were reported, but 17 victims required hospitalization. One victim developed the sometimes fatal hemolytic uremic syndrome or HUS. The epidemiologic, laboratory and traceback evidence all pointed at the General Mills facility in Kansas City, MO, as the source of the outbreak. On May 31, 2016, General Mills recalled several sizes and varieties of Gold Medal, Gold Medal Wondra and Signature Kitchens flour because of possible E. coli contamination. In June and July, respectively, FDA isolated STEC O121 and STEC O26 in open samples of General Mills flour collected from homes of ill people in multiple states. The outbreak also caused FDA and CDC to repeat warnings not to eat raw dough or batter. Numerous products made with the recalled flour were also recalled.
8. Salmonella Virchow linked to Garden of Life organic product
Six of the 33 Salmonella Virchow cases linked to Garden of Life Raw Meal Organic Shake & Meal Products from 23 states required hospitalization. No deaths resulted. All the epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicated Raw Meal Organic Shake & Meal products made by Garden Life LLC was the likely source of outbreak. Garden of Life recalled several lots of the product in chocolate, original, vanilla, and vanilla chai on Jan. 29, 2016.
9. Salmonella linked to sprouts from contaminated seed lot
One seed lot was found responsible for alfalfa sprouts that were contaminated with Salmonella Muenchen and Salmonella Kentucky. The final CDC report on the outbreak came out on May 13, 2016, and said there were 26 confirmed cases across 12 states. There were no deaths, but eight people required hospitalization. Investigations by FDA and state health departments traced all the contaminated sprouts back to Sweetwater Farms in Inman, KS. Kansas officials warned the public not to eat alfalfa sprouts produced by Sweetwater Farms on Feb. 19, 2016, and a week later Sweetwater withdrew all its products from the market. FDA worked to keep any additional contaminated seed from reaching the market.
10. Multi-drug resistant Salmonella Heidelberg infections linked to bull calves
Late in the year, on Nov. 28, 2016, the CDC announced 21 confirmed cases of Salmonella Heidelberg in eight states that were notable for being resistant to multiple drugs and involving contact with bull calves. Eight of 21 sick people required hospitalization. Epidemiologic, traceback and laboratory findings identified dairy bull calves from livestock markets in Wisconsin as the likely source of the infections. The dairy bull calves involved in the outbreak were also purchased for 4-H projects. In interviews, health officials found 79 percent of the ill people reported contact with bull calves or other cattle before they become sick. CDC has concluded the human illnesses are linked to ill calves as labotratory testing identified Salmonella Heidelberg in the calves. More troubling, isolates from ill people were found to be resistant to antibiotics, which limits treatment options.
USDA 'Best if Used By' Labeling to Reduce Food Waste
Source : http://www.qualityassurancemag.com/article/usda-encourages-best-if-used-by-labeling-to-reduce-food-waste/
By qualityassurancemag.com (Dec 19, 2016)
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued updated information on food product labeling, including new guidance aimed at reducing food waste through encouraging food manufacturers and retailers that apply product dating to use a “Best if Used By” date label.
“In an effort to reduce food loss and waste, these changes will give consumers clear and consistent information when it comes to date labeling on the food they buy,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza. “This new guidance can help consumers save money and curb the amount of wholesome food going in the trash.”
Except for infant formula, product dating is not required by federal regulations. Because food manufacturers use a variety of phrases to describe quality dates, which has caused consumer confusion and led to the disposal of food that is otherwise wholesome and safe because it is past the date printed on the package, FSIS is changing its guidance. Research shows that “Best if Used By" is easily understood by consumers as an indicator of quality, rather than safety.
USDA estimates that 30% of food is lost or wasted at the retail and consumer level. This new guidance builds on other recent changes FSIS has made to facilitate food donation and reduce food waste. In January 2016, FSIS issued Directive 7020.1, which made it easier for companies to donate products that have minor labeling errors, such as an incorrect net weight. FSIS has also begun recognizing food banks as “retail-type” establishments, which allows food banks (under certain circumstances) to break down bulk shipments of federally-inspected meat or poultry products, wrap or rewrap those products, and label the products for distribution to consumers. In 2016, FSIS enabled 2.6 million pounds of manufacturer donations.
Comments on this revised guidance may be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov or by mail to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, FSIS, Docket Clerk, Patriots Plaza III, 355 E St. S.W., 8-163A, Mailstop 3782, Washington, DC 20250-3700. All comments submitted must include docket number FSIS-2016-0044. FSIS will accept comments for 60 days.
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