FoodHACCP Newsletter



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01/02 2016 ISSUE:737

Glyphosate: Unsafe On Any Plate – What Is In Your Food?
Source : http://www.valuewalk.com/2017/01/glyphosate-monsanto/
By  PeakProsperity (Jan 1, 2017)
In November, a very concerning report — Glyphosate: Unsafe On Any Plate — was released by The Detox Project and Food Democracy Now!, raising the alarm of the high levels of glyphosate in the US food supply and the (deliberate?) low levels of awareness of its associated health risks.
Dave Murphy, executive director of Food Democracy Now!, joins us this week to explain the finding of this new report on the world’s most-used herbicide (more commonly known by its retail brand: Roundup). As happened in past decades with the alcohol and tobacco industries, there’s compelling evidence that profits have taken a priority over consumer safety — and as public health concerns are being raised, Big Ag is circling its wagons and attacking the questioners rather than embracing open scrutiny.
Are we being poisoned in the pursuit of profit?
Look at the chemical and what actually it does. Monsanto has three patents for glyphosate and the first one is from 1964 from the Sulfur Chemical Company in Westport, Connecticut. It was originally used to clean pipes. It’s like Drano: it basically strips minerals out of and heavy metals out of a pipe. Scientists have found that it actually chelates those same minerals in soil and makes them unavailable into the plant. At some point in the 1960s a Monsanto chemist discovered that it would also kill weeds. Monsanto applied for a patent in ’68 or ’69, was awarded that patent in ’74, and that is when Roundup first went on the market.
It was used you know in forests and to kill weeds on road sides and that kind of thing. It was used in forest management for a long time and in public parks.
Today, 300 million pounds of glyphosate-based herbicides are used here in the United States each year. In our report ,we have one graph showing how from 1992 (four years prior to Roundup Ready crops being introduced) to 2014 — I mean — the states of Minnesota becomes three quarters covered in all black. Iowa is fully blotted out. Illinois is fully blotted out. North Dakota is mostly blotted out and so is South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. And this is just showing you how widespread glyphosate use is.
The US geological survey did tests in 2007 and again in 2011, showing that 75% of the rain water and river and stream samples in the Midwest contained glyphosate, which is pretty alarming. This chemical is being sprayed on our food and then is evaporating into the air and going downwind and being taken up into clouds. It can fall hundreds of miles away from where it is originally applied.
The reason we took our time with this report and why we made it so detailed is because the highest level of glyphosate found today is in Cheerios, which is often the first solid food that a mother will feed her child as they are transitioning from breast milk or formula. Cheerios is an iconic brand, and all the mothers I talk to explain how their babies love to grab onto them. They are a perfect finger food because they have that hole in the center. And so it is a common food for a mother to automatically give her child. The only problem is a single serving of Cheerios to a one year old child would subject them to a harmful dose of glyphosate.
Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Dave Murphy (81m:26s).

CDC Releases Info About Another Cucumber Salmonella Outbreak, 8 Months Later
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/cdc-releases-info-about-another-cucumber-salmonella-outbreak-8-months-later/
By Linda Larsen (Dec 31, 2016)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued information about a Salmonella Oslo outbreak linked to Persian cucumbers this week in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. But the outbreak happened eight months ago.
Public health officials in Minnesota and Michigan started an investigation when four people were sickened with Salmonella Oslo infections that occurred March 21 to April 9, 2016. A total of 14 people in 8 states were identified as being part of this outbreak at the end of the investigation. Whole genome sequencing and pulsed gel-electrophoresis identified the outbreak strain of Salmonella Oslo, which was new to the PulseNet database.
Epidemiologic evidence found that Persian cucumbers were the source of infections in this outbreak. Persian, or “mini” cucumbers are small and seedless with smooth skin. The cucumbers were purchased from a single grocery chain that was not identified in the report.
This is the fourth multistate outbreak of Salmonella infections associated with cucumbers since 2013. Salmonella outbreak associated with cucumber have been increasing in number every year since 2010. The CDC report states, “further research is needed to understand the mechanism and factors that contribute to contamination of cucumbers during growth, harvesting, and processing to prevent future outbreaks.”
The median age of patients in this outbreak was 36 years. Three of the patients in this outbreak were hospitalized. Only about 25 cases of Salmonella Oslo infections are reported to officials every year in the United States.
The investigation found two Canadian Persian cucumber suppliers that were in the timeframe of interest, but officials could not identify a single growers. The growers who could have supplied the cucumbers were in Canada, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.
Cucumber samples were collected from the point of sale, from patient’s homes, and from one of the Canadian suppliers about 1 month after the patients purchased them. No cucumbers tested positive for Salmonella. This highlights one of the problems investigators encounter when investigating outbreaks in produce. The typical shelf life of cucumbers is less than a week. And since it takes time for a person to get sick, go to the doctor, and have test results, these foods are usually discarded before they can be collected for testing.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea that may be bloody, fever, and abdominal cramps. These symptoms usually begin six to seventy-two hours after exposure to the pathogenic bacteria. Most people recover on their own, but some become so sick they must be hospitalized.

Largest Food Poisoning Outbreak of 2016: Salmonella in Cucumbers
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/largest-food-poisoning-outbreak-of-2016-salmonella-in-cucumbers/
By News Desk  (Dec 31, 2016)
The largest multistate food poisoning outbreak in 2016 ended in 2016, but it started in 2015. At least 907 people were sickened with Salmonella Poona infections that were linked to imported cucumbers. Six people died, and 204 people were hospitalized in this massive outbreak.
The strange thing about this outbreak is that even though the cucumbers that were identified as the source of this outbreak, infections were still being reported to officials two months after the recall was issued. Cucumbers do not have a long shelf life.
The cucumbers in question were traced to Rancho Don Juanito de R.L. de C.V. in Baja, Mexico. Two import alerts were issued by the FDA, banning those products from coming into the United States.
Three outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona were identified in this outbreak. These strains were found in cucumbers that were collected from retail locations and in samples taken from the facility that distributed them. Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce in California imported the cucumbers and sold them to distributors. Investigators isolated the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona from the Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce facility.
In a report about this outbreak, the FDA wrote, “The results indicated a high level of contamination in these cucumbers, which could increase the likelihood of cross-contamination of shipping containers or other food contact surfaces.”
The peak of the outbreak was in August and September 2015. The cucumbers were recalled in September 2015. The states with the highest number of cases were Arizona, with 140, California, with 245, Minnesota, with 46, Wisconsin with 46, Utah with 62, and Texas, with 51.
Illnesses started on dates ranging from July 3, 2015 to February 29, 2016. Ill persons ranged in age from less than 1 year to 99. Six deaths were reported from Arizona (1), California (3), Oklahoma (1), and Texas (1). But Salmonella infection was not considered a contributing factor in two of the three deaths in California. Illnesses started on dates ranging from July 3, 2015 to February 29, 2016. Whole genome sequencing showed that isolates from ill persons were closely related genetically.
Illness clusters were an important clue in this investigation. When several unrelated people ate or shop at a same location and get sick within a few days of each other, the contaminated food item was probably served there. There were eleven illness clusters in seven states identified in this outbreak.
Two recalls of garden variety cucumbers were announced. On September 4, 2015, Andrew & Williams recalled all cucumbers sold under the Limited Edition brand label from August 1, 2015 through September 3, 2015. And on September 11, 2015, Custom Produce Sales recalled all cucumbers sold under the Fat Boy brand label.
After the outbreak peak, illnesses did not return to the baseline number for several months for this DNA fingerprint. One hundred twenty seven illnesses started after September 24, 2015, when the cucumbers were no longer available.
Whole genome sequencing showed that the illnesses that occurred after late September 2015 were related to the illnesses that occurred before. Investigators were not able to discover if the illnesses could be explained by cross-contamination within the distribution chain, such as shipping containers.

 

 

 


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Blue Bell asks FDA if it can return testing to ‘industry norm’
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/12/blue-bell-asks-fda-if-it-can-return-testing-to-industry-norm/#.WGmu8PmLSUl
BY NEWS DESK (Dec 31, 2016)
Blue Bell Creameries wants the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to release it from doing more expensive production plant environmental testing for foodborne pathogens in favor of specific product testing that it says is more in line with what it calls “the industry norm.”
There is no word on FDA’s response to the request, which was made available to the Houston Chronicle under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) submittal.
Attorney Joseph Levitt made the request to FDA on behalf of Blue Bell. The company contends the environmental testing results in the destruction of hundreds of thousands of cartons of ice cream worth millions of dollars that are not contaminated by bacteria just because pathogens are found in the production plant. Blue Bell wants to limit the destruction of products to only those that test positive for a contaminant.
In 2015, Blue Bell was linked to a deadly five-year, multi-state Listeria outbreak, which forced it to remove its iconic brand of ice cream from grocery freezer spaces and close its three production facilities. Questions of what and when Blue Bell knew also attracted the interest of the U.S. Department of Justice over possible federal criminal charges.
Things did not exactly go smoothly for Brenham, TX-based Blue Bell this year either. Early in 2016, Bell Blue reported Listeria will always be a threat. Company officials said their new cleaning, sanitizing and testing programs are keeping their customers as 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 required 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.

Food safety regulatory outlook for 2017
Source : http://www.world-grain.com/articles/news_home/World_Grain_News/2016/12/Food_safety_regulatory_outlook.aspx?ID=%7B8DE45DE1-E13E-4D68-88B8-3986ABF55F20%7D&cck=1
By Jay Sjerven (Dec 28, 2016)
Forecasting the direction of food safety policy and enforcement may be difficult in the wake of any general election. The incoming administration will select its own team, and this team may bring new visions and perspectives to federal agencies and offices. Priorities may differ from those that informed the previous administration’s focus and approach to regulatory affairs. This certainly may prove to be the case as the nation prepares for possibly wide departures from recent practice when Donald J. Trump is inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States on Jan. 20, 2017.
As of this writing, there are things known and things unknown about the direction of food safety policy and enforcement in 2017.
It is known President-elect Trump has been critical about what he asserted was federal regulatory overreach under the Obama administration, including by the Food and Drug Administration.
In a speech before the Economic Club of New York in September, Trump said, “The FDA food police, which dictates how the federal government expects farmers to produce fruits and vegetables, even dictates the nutritional value of dog food. The rules govern the soil farmers use, farm and food production hygiene, food packaging, food temperature and even what animals can roam which fields and when. It also greatly increased inspections of food ‘facilities’ and levies new taxes to pay for this inspection overkill.”
Also known is Trump’s choice to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to which the FDA reports, Representative Tom Price of Georgia. Price is an orthopedic surgeon and a critic of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. But as of this writing, Trump had yet to announce his choices to head the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the lead agencies with responsibility for food safety.
It was unknown how much the skeptical attitude toward “regulatory overreach” of the incoming administration may affect how food safety law as embodied in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act will be managed and enforced now that the FDA has issued its congressionally mandated final rules and the act is in the process of being implemented. Regardless, food industry sources and analysts said it remained essential for the entire food chain to ensure their operations are in compliance with the FSMA and its implementing rules.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association said, “We have worked collaboratively with FDA throughout the development of these final rules. We are confident that our members have made where necessary the proper adjustments in their manufacturing processes to be compliant with the new regulations. We also look forward to working with the agency in an inclusive and deliberative manner as additional FSMA rules are implemented in 2017.”
David Acheson, president and chief executive officer, The Acheson Group, said he expected the FSMA and its implementing rules to comprise the food safety regulatory framework in the many years ahead.  Acheson pointed to the broad support the act had in Congress, in the food industry and among consumers.
“2017 will be when we begin to see FSMA implementation bite on large businesses,” Acheson said. “I think this will go slowly at first with a focus on specific areas, such as ‘environmental monitoring program’ and ‘supply chain control.’”
At the same time, the Trump administration may view how the FDA should enforce the act and its rules differently from how the Obama administration has or a Clinton administration might have, Acheson said. That will become clear over time.
Under the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Justice has adopted a robust approach with regard to enforcement of food recall procedure. It was uncertain to what extent this approach may be retained in the coming years.
As to how the industry was adjusting to the current DOJ approach, Acheson said many companies to an extent still seemed to have “their heads in the sand.” Acheson added, “Most don’t understand their extreme vulnerability to DOJ actions and focus if their brand is linked to an outbreak and they have not followed good practices to control risk. Maybe under Trump, this will back off some.”
Asked what other recent trends in FDA’s food safety approach may be extended into 2017, Acheson said he expected the use by the FDA of whole genome sequencing in investigating food safety issues will continue to accelerate.
The use of whole genome sequencing by both the FDA and food companies has vastly improved the detection and identification of foodborne pathogens, their origins and spread, and enabled response to related disease outbreaks to be more prompt, targeted and effective. The technology has been employed in several recent high-profile and complicated food recalls and, indeed, has resulted in a marked increase in overall recalls.
“The key point is, if you make ready-to-eat (food), watch out,” Acheson advised. “FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and increasingly the Food Safety and Inspection Service are looking at whole genomic sequencing as a tool to shut down issues before they lead to an outbreak or even a single case of illness.”
A priority for the food industry in 2017 will be to secure the harmonization of compliance dates for implementing the FDA’s Nutrition Facts Panel updates and the USDA’s disclosure standard for bioengineered foods, the GMA said.
Food manufacturers, except for small businesses, must comply with the FDA’s mandatory revisions to the Nutrition Facts Panel by July 26, 2018. Additionally, Congress has mandated the USDA to issue the final disclosure standard for bioengineered food by July 29, 2018.
The food industry associations pointed to the time and cost that would be expended in undertaking not one but two major revisions to product labeling in a short period. Additionally, the associations asserted if there was a single compliance date for both required label changes, “consumers will be introduced to a single label format instead of potentially being exposed over several years to different versions of the same label at the same time.”
Acheson suggested there was some doubt over the future of menu nutrition labeling under the incoming administration. Menu nutrition labeling was required under the Affordable Care Act, which President-elect Trump has vowed to repeal and replace. Menu labeling has been postponed a couple of times, and compliance now is required by May 5.

Pig Roasting and Food Safety
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/pig-roasting-and-food-safety/
By Linda Larsen (Dec  28, 2016 )
If you want to roast a whole pig this holiday season, FoodSafety.gov has tips to make sure that the pork is cooked properly and is safe to eat. There was one large food poisoning outbreak this year linked to whole roasted pork that was produced by Kapowsin Foods.
Those pigs were linked to a Salmonella outbreak last year and this year. In 20156, 192 people in five states were sickened with an antibiotic resistance strain of Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:-. Thirty of those patients were hospitalized. This year, three people were sickened with Salmonella infections after eating whole roast pig at the Good Vibe Tribe Luau in Seattle. The pigs were produced by Kapowsin Meats of Graham, Washington.
Whole pigs can be difficult to roast correctly, whether they are grilled, cooked in a rotisserie, or roasted in a rock lined pit. You may want to hire a professional to cook the pig, or break the animal down into individual cuts before cooking.
When you order a whole pig, buy it from a reputable supplier and order in advance. You’ll need about 1-1/2 pounds of pre-cooked weight per person. Remember that it’s not safe to roast a frozen pig. Ask the vendor to thaw the pig for you under refrigerated conditions before you pick it up. Order the pig at least seven days in advance.
The pig should be wrapped in food grade plastic or a large food grade plastic bag to avoid cross-contamination. Pick up the pig just before you are ready to cook it. This animal is too large for the refrigerator, and keeping it in a cooler is problematic. You can keep it in a food grade plastic lined-bathtub full of ice, but make sure it’s kept at 40°F or lower. Use an appliance thermometer in the pig to monitor the temperature constantly. Disinfect your tub after the pig is removed.
Make sure you have two food thermometers on hand, a clean table for preparation and carving, clean utensils and serving dishes, paper towels and disinfectant wipes, an apron, disposable gloves, and access to warm running water an soap.
Always use clean utensils to remove and carve the pig, and not the dirty utensils you used during the cooking process. The station where the pig is prepared and carved must be kept clean. Any utensil or surface that comes into contact with the pig must be sanitized.
If you want to stuff the pig, keep the stuffing to a minimum to reduce the risk of bacterial growth. A large pig takes a long time to heat up to a safe temperature, and the stuffing in the middle heats up last. The stuffing may be in the danger zone of 40°F to 140°F too long, which allows bacteria to grow.
Follow cooking instructions carefully. A whole pig can take 4 to 12 hours to cooking through, longer if it’s stuffed. Check the temperature in the deepest part of each shoulder and each leg, several places in the loin, and in the stuffing. The meat should be cooked to at least 195°F.
Any pork that is not eaten should be refrigerated within two hours, or one hour if the air temperature is 90°F or higher. Pack leftovers in shallow containers. Freeze for 4 to 12 months, or refrigerate up to three days.

FDA’s antimicrobial drug tally for food animals up 1 percent
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/12/fdas-antimicrobial-drug-tally-for-food-animals-up-1-percent/#.WGmwVPmLSUl
By NEWS DESK (Dec 28, 2016)
However, sales of some specific drugs has decreased; overall rate of sales increases is slowing
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s annual report summarizing sales and distribution data for antimicrobial drugs approved for use in food-producing animals is out.
The report shows that sales and distribution of all antimicrobials increased 1 percent from 2014 through 2015, tying for the lowest annual increase since 2009. The percentage of those antimicrobials that are considered medically important in human medicine increased by 2 percent from 2014 through 2015.
Antimicrobials include antibiotics and other drugs. Use of antibiotics in food-producing animals is of interest to FDA and public health officials because of the increasing incidence of antibiotic-resistant infections in people.
Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The agency says many more people die from other conditions that were complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection.
Section 105 of the Animal Drug User Fee Amendments of 2008 (ADUFA 105) requires antimicrobial drug sponsors to report to FDA on an annual basis the amount of antimicrobial drugs they sell or distribute for use in food-producing animals.
This sales and distribution information does not necessarily represent actual use of the products. For example, drug products entering the market may not necessarily be distributed all the way to the farm; veterinarians and animal producers may purchase drugs in anticipation of using them but never actually administer them to animals, or they may administer them in later years.
The FDA is working with federal, academic and industry partners to obtain more information about how, when and why animal producers and veterinarians use those classes of antimicrobial drugs that are important to human medicine.
ADUFA 105 also requires the FDA to issue annual summary reports of sales and distribution data collected from sponsors each year, by antimicrobial class for classes represented by three or more distinct sponsors, and to provide those summaries to the public.
In May 2016, the agency issued a final rule revising its annual reporting requirements for drug sponsors of antimicrobials sold or distributed for use in food-producing animals in order to obtain estimates of sales broken out by the major food-producing species of cattle, swine, chickens and turkeys. This breakdown by species will not appear in the FDA’s annual summary reports until the report covering calendar year 2016. The final rule includes a provision requiring the FDA to publish the annual summary report for each calendar year by Dec. 31 of the following year.
The FDA’s Guidance for Industry #213, which pertains to medically important antimicrobials used in the feed or water of food-producing animals, established a target date of Dec. 31, 2016, for drug sponsors to voluntarily make changes to affected products to remove production indications (growth promotion and feed efficiency) and move the products from over-the-counter availability to veterinary feed directive or prescription status.
Once these changes are made, use of these products for production indications will be illegal and the remaining therapeutic uses for the treatment, control, or prevention of a specifically identified disease will be limited to use under veterinary oversight. Given that GFI #213 is not expected to be fully implemented until the end of 2016, it is premature to expect to see consequential data shifts in the 2015 annual report.
For more information, please see the 2015 Summary Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals.

 

Holiday Food Safety for Pregnant Women
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/holiday-food-safety-for-pregnant-women/
By Linda Larsen (Dec 27, 2016)
FoodSafety.gov is offering food safety tips for pregnant women this holiday season. Pregnant women must always be diligent about food safety, and especially so when attending parties and family gatherings.
A woman’s immune system is weaker when she is pregnant, which makes her at greater risk of contracting a foodborne illness. Toxoplasma gondii and Listeria monocytogenes. Listeria bacteria can cause miscarriage, premature delivery, or the death of a newborn. And toxoplasma gondii can cause hearing loss, blindness, and intellectual disabilities in children.
Skip raw eggnog and unpasteurized apple cider at holiday parties. Many eggnog recipes contain raw eggs and unpasteurized milk, which could cause Salmonella food poisoning. Raw cider can be contaminated with E. coli bacteria, which can cause serious illness and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), that can destroy the kidneys.
Also avoid eating soft cheeses and cold cuts because they can be contamianted with Listeria monocytogenes and other pathogenic bacteria. Feta and queso fresco could be made with raw milk. Cheeses such as cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella, or cream cheese are safe to eat. Cold cuts could be heated to 165° before eating.
Traditional foods such as chitterlings, and undercooked meats should be avoided. Preparing chitterlings can be messy and labor intensive and can increase the risk of cross contamination in the kitchen. This product can also be contaminated with Yersinia enterocolitica.
Christmas ceviche is another no no. Raw fish is a food poisoning risk because it may contain parasites or pathogenic bacteria. Make sure that all fish dishes are cooked to a minimum temperature of 145°F.
As always, avoid cross contamination between raw meats, poultry, seafood, and eggs and foods that are to be eaten raw. Always wash hands well before cooking and before eating. And make sure that foods are cooked to safe internal temperatures as measured with a reliable food thermometer.

Top 10 Largest Outbreaks of 2016: Salmonella Sproutbreak
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/top-10-largest-outbreaks-of-2016-salmonella-sproutbreak/
By News Desk (Dec 27, 2016)
The fifth largest food poisoning outbreak of 2016 was the Salmonella Muenchen and Salmonella Kentucky outbreak linked to raw alfalfa sprouts. These sprouts came from one contaminated seed lot and were sold under various names. The sprouts were produced by multiple facilities, including Sweetwater Farms of Inman, Kansas.
At least 26 people in 12 states were sickened in this outbreak. Eight people were hospitalized. No deaths were reported. The case count by state was: Kansas (5), Maryland (2), Missouri (3), New Jersey (2), New York (2), North Carolina (1), North Dakota (1), Ohio (1), Oklahoma (3), Pennsylvania (3), Virginia (2), and Washington (1). Twenty-five people were sickened with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Muenchen, and 1 person was sickened with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Kentucky.
Illnesses started on dates ranging from November 26, 2015 to April 7, 2016. Patients ranged in age from 12 to 73 years, and 76% of patients were female.
Alfalfa sprouts by multiple sprouts from one lot of contaminated seeds were the likely source of this outbreak, according to investigative efforts by state, local, and federal health officials. This case was complicated because there were two types of bacteria in the outbreak.
Of the 22 ill persons who were interviewed, 17, or 77%, said they ate or possibly ate sprouts the week before they got sick. Ninety-four percent of those 17 people ate alfalfa sprouts. Traceback investigations found that Sweetwater Farms of Inman, Kansas supplied alfalfa sprouts to all of the restaurants where the ill persons ate sprouts. An inspection of Sweetwater Farms isolated Salmonella Kentucky and Salmonella Cubana. Salmonella Muenchen was not identified.
Sweetwater Farms withdrew all of its sprouts sprouts from the market on February 26, 2016. But people were still getting sick with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Muenchen, and many of those people ate alfalfa sprouts before they became ill.
Traceback investigations found that sprouts other than Sweetwater Farms produced those alfalfa sprouts. All of these sprouters, along with Sweetwater Farms, used a common lot of alfalfa seeds to produce the sprouts. FDA tested samples of seeds from that lot and isolated Salmonella Cubana with the same DNA fingerprint of the bacteria found in Sweetwater Farms irrigation water.
The FDA reminds people that raw sprouts are a health risk. There have been many foodborne illness outbreaks in the past few years linked to these types of products. The seeds themselves can be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. When they are grown in a moist, wet environment, the bacteria multiply quickly.
Everyone who is at risk for food poisoning should avoid eating raw sprouts. That includes the elderly, the very young, pregnant women, those with chronic illnesses, and people with compromised immune systems.
If you are eating at a restaurant, ask that raw sprouts not be added to your food. And if you buy a sandwich from a deli or restaurant, make sure raw sprouts are not included.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include diarrhea that may be bloody, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. These symptoms usually begin six to seventy-two hours after exposure to the pathogenic bacteria.

2017 Food Industry: 4 Trends to Watch
Source : https://foodsafetytech.com/feature_article/2017-food-industry-4-trends-watch/
By Katy Jones (Dec 27, 2016)
From countless recalls, to FSMA deadlines, to the rising demand for transparency, 2016 has been a monumental year in the food industry. With 2017 knocking, here are the top trends and predictions to watch out for in the food industry next year.
1. Moving Toward a Fully Digital, Connected Supply Chain
The food supply chain in many ways is still lagging behind in technology compared to other supply chains. In 2017, many companies will begin or continue on their journey to fully digitize their supply chain, whether that is simply getting their list of approved suppliers out of an Excel spreadsheet and  into a supplier management software technology solution or fully capturing every step of their products along the journey from farm to fork.
The spectrum of digitization across the supply chain is quite broad. But bottom line, supply chain analytics will empower food companies to create useful KPIs, allow them to truly measure the ROI of their supply chain initiatives and give consumers the transparency that they demand. And systems that fully support the daily monitoring, sharing and interpretation of those analytics needed to help companies will experience tremendous growth in 2017.
Collaboration with your supply chain partners is an absolutely critical element, and we can expect to see more companies fully integrate throughout their network of suppliers and customers. Food companies that will succeed in 2017 will need a fully integrated supply chain network, with access to the same information, working towards a shared mission to deliver results and be ahead of their competitors. A connected supplier network will allow food companies to be agile when faced with an issue, responsive to recalls, as well as be flexible and efficient.
2. Recalls, Recalls, Recalls
We saw a high volume of recalls this year, and this trend is not going away anytime soon. As more and more advances in food testing are made, companies will have access to new technologies across their supply chain that will identify issues early. Consequently, more products will need to be pulled out of the supply chain because of that increased testing in order to maintain consumer sentiment.
The companies that are able to roll out these capabilities quickly and efficiently—armed with the data needed—will be well poised to manage their supply chain, potential recalls and the impact to their customers. With the knowledge that we can expect to see several recalls in the new year, food companies should be looking to mitigate risks and better manage their supply chain.
3. Full-force FSMA Is Here Whether You Like It or Not
FSMA focuses on amplifying preventive controls for food production in order to alleviate potential food contamination outbreaks, and the past two or more years have been focused on this preparation. This preparation will come to a pinnacle in 2017, the first full year of FSMA implementation worldwide, with the FDA starting audits for larger companies. This could lead to the FDA requesting required records, conducting audits and in the worst situation for food companies, shutting down operations if they feel it’s necessary.
FSMA will require detailed record keeping when a recall or outbreak occurs, with clearly defined corrective actions in place. Companies will see an increased need for technologies that help supply preventive processes such as food allergen and sanitation controls, as well a prepared recall and supply chain plan. Tracking and traceability will be the two key parameters that will offer manufacturers the ability to examine specific foods and trends to improve their overall process. In order to comply with these new FSMA regulations at every step of the process, food companies will increasingly look to utilize these technologies to account for full traceability of the supply chain.
4. Growth in Foodservice At the Consumer’s Doorstep
Brands like Starbucks and Panera have been testing the food home delivery waters, but more companies seem to be jumping onto the trend of bringing gourmet food directly to the consumer’s doorstep—Blue Apron, Plated, HelloFresh just to name a few.

Food safety expertise could trump ho-hum ag appointment
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/12/food-safety-expertise-could-trump-ho-hum-ag-appointment/#.WGmxMPmLSUl
By DAN FLYNN (Dec 27, 2016)
One of the nation’s past top food safety officials might be named Secretary of Agriculture by President-elect Donald J. Trump.
Cuban-born Texan Professor Elsa Murano, who served as U.S. Under Secretary of Agriculture for Food Safety in the administration of President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2004, is a late edition to a list of Secretary of Agriculture candidates being considered for appointment by the soon-to-be 45th President of the United States.
Murano reportedly will meet with the President-elect later this week at Trump Tower.
After leaving the government in 2004, returned to Texas A&M where did stints as Vice Chancellor of Agriculture and Life Sciences and then Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences before becoming the 23rd president of Texas A&M on Jan. 3, 2008.
Her presidency, however, was stormy and short as she clashed with A&M System Chancellor Mike McKinney, Gov. Rick Perry’s former chief of staff. She resigned about 18 months later, getting a year off at her presidential pay and reinstatement as full professor at A&M’s Center for Food Safety.
Were Trump to elevate a past Under Secretary for Food Safety as the next Secretary of Agriculture, it would be a contrasting action as President Obama has left the government’s highest food safety job vacant for the past three years.
Since the top food safety job was created in the 1993 USDA Reorganization Act, there have only been three others appointed by a president who have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Those three are Catherine Woteki, who holds a Ph. D in nutrition, 1997-2001; Dr. Richard Raymond, 2005-2009; and Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, 2010-2013. Mike Taylor, who was Food Safety and Inspection Service Administrator, was first to serve as Under Secretary for Food Safety when the office was created, but he served only on an acting basis.
The outgoing president has not commented on why he has let the high ranking food safety office remain vacant.
Woteki is currently Under Secretary for USDA’s Research, Education and Economics unit. Raymond and Hagen are both involved in food safety consulting and issues around the world.
Naming Murano as Secretary of Agriculture would stand out from other choices Trump is said to be considering, as almost all follow the standard profile for the top ag job, meaning they have either been governor of an agricultural state or have served on a congressional committee with “Farm Bill” experience.
Obama went with that model when he named former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack to the job eight years ago.
Examples of possible appointees by Trump include Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND, and Gov. Butch Otter, D-ID. Naming the Democratic senator from North Dakota would likely end up with a Republican being named to that Senate seat.
Gov. Otter is a long-time elected official in Idaho who was amicably divorced after 28 years from the daughter of the late potato billionaire J.S. Simplot.
Since Trump has already named former Texas Gov. Perry as Secretary of Energy, his naming Murano to run USDA might make for some interesting cabinet meetings, considering the A&M disputes. Perry’s man, McKinney, did a scathing performance review on Murano and then made it public. She responded in kind.

Horse, possum and donkey meat on menu under South Australian food safety changes
Source : https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/27/horse-possum-and-donkey-meat-on-menu-under-south-australian-food-safety-changes
By Calla Wahlquist (Dec 27, 2016)
Proposal, which has been opposed by the Animal Justice party, would be implemented by September if adopted
Horse, possum, camel and donkey will be available for sale from South Australian butchers from September next year if recommended changes to food safety regulations are adopted.
The SA government, which has to update the regulations by 1 September 2017, has suggested the state should adopt the Australian and New Zealand Food Standards code definition of “game meat”, which governs what wild animals may be sold commercially for human consumption.
The proposed change would broaden the range of animals available at butchers to include wild horses and donkeys, as well as wild buffalo, camel, deer, pig and possum.
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Domestic horses, like racehorses, would still not be allowed to be sold for human consumption. Eggs, foetuses and pouch young are still off the list.
Wild goats, rabbits, hare, kangaroo, wallaby and any bird that may be legally hunted can already be slaughtered and sold for human consumption in SA.
A spokeswoman from SA Health said the proposed changes would not change the laws around hunting or culling protected species.
“Any South Australians wanting to hunt protected species in SA would need a permit as per the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 legislation,” she said.
The move would make SA only the second jurisdiction to allow for the local production and sale of horse meat, after Western Australia adopted the broader national standards in 2009. The proposed change has been opposed by the Animal Justice party.
“The newly proposed game industries are particularly obnoxious because they produce meats that people don’t even like,” convenor Geoff Russell told the Advertiser.
According to the Humane Society, about 100,000 horses are slaughtered annually in Australia.
Of those about 8,400 are processed through one of two abattoirs licensed to slaughter horses for export – Samex Peterborough in South Australia and Meramist in Caboolture, Queensland. The rest are processed by one of 33 knackeries and sold as pet meat.
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A Perth butcher, Vince Garreffa, received death threats from animal rights groups after he received ministerial permission to sell horse meat in 2010 and joked that his Inglewood butchery would “be known as the horse whisperers”.
“You just whisper, ‘Can I have a kilo of horse meat please’,” he told Fairfax media.
He later told the Courier Mail he was doing a roaring trade among French and Italian migrants, who say it “tastes of home.”
Legally caught possums and wallabies can already be sold as game meat in Tasmania.
Wallaby is said to taste like kangaroo, only “milder”, but possum has proved harder to describe, earning the qualified approval of one Tasmanian producer who said it was “quite a different meat.”
The proposed SA regulations are open for public consultation until February.

China Uncovers 500,000 Food Safety Violations in Nine Months
Source : http://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/china-uncovers-500-000-food-safety-violations-in-nine-months-1641436
By Thomson Reuters (Dec 24, 2016)
China, rocked in recent years by a series of food safety scandals, uncovered as many as half a million illegal food safety violations in the first three quarters of the year, an official said.
Chinese officials have unearthed a series of recent food health scandals, including rice contaminated with heavy metals, the use of recycled "gutter oil" in restaurants as well as the sale of baby formula containing lethal amounts of the industrial chemical melamine in 2008.
Bi Jingquan, the head of the China Food and Drug Administration, told the Standing Committee of National People's Congress on Friday that while significant progress had been made in the food sector, "deep-seated" problems remained.
According to a transcript of Bi's report published on the official website of the National People's Congress (http://www.npc.gov.cn), Chinese food safety departments conducted more than 15 million individual inspections in the first three quarters of the year and found more than 500,000 incidents of illegal behaviour, he said.
Among the offences were false advertising, the use of counterfeit products and ingredients and the sale of contaminated food products, Bi said.
One case in the northeastern province of Jilin involved the use of industrial gelatine in food, while several cases in southwestern Guizhou province involved the use of counterfeit and low-quality salt.

Making USDA Work Better for You
Source : https://medium.com/usda-results/ch12-a04f233243d1#.x5nmj9bq4
By Tom Vilsack (Dec 15, 2016)
When I took over as Agriculture Secretary in early 2009, Americans across the country were tightening their belts and finding ways to keep their costs low to save their hard earned dollars as they weathered a national financial storm. During that difficult time, American farmers and ranchers rolled up their sleeves and got to work doing what they do best: adapting.
While the foundational tenets of America’s farms and ranches remain the same today as they have always been?—?embracing good ideas to feed and clothe a nation?—?the modern farming operation is anything but “business as usual.” Our farms and ranches use technology and innovation in new ways everyday to prepare, invent and adjust, making tough decisions and seeking out more opportunities to cut on-farm costs, build margins and manage their debt. As a result of their resolve American agriculture has never been more productive, never been more prosperous and never been more resilient than it is today.
In 2012, we launched our own modernization effort at USDA modeled on the driving ability of farmers to enhance their capacity through modernization and build their resilience with limited means. With USDA’s Blueprint for Stronger Service we mirrored the incredible ingenuity of the American farmer by challenging our team to use creativity and innovation to find ways to do a better job with the resources we had at our disposal already. Faced with a discretionary budget that has been reduced by nearly 10 percent since 2010, we have looked for ways to proactively improve and modernize the way we do business while avoiding unnecessary layoffs and disruption in the services that millions of Americans rely on.
To achieve this, we developed a three-pronged approach to meeting our administrative challenges. These steps have given us the tools to carry out our mission-critical work, while ensuring that USDA’s millions of customers across rural America receive stronger service than ever before. They are:
1. Signature Process Improvements
With the goal of making USDA work more efficiently for the American people, every USDA agency engaged in improvement projects to optimize processes, increase efficiency, reduce costs, accelerate schedules and strengthen accuracy and transparency.
2. Administrative Streamlining
We have delivered targeted, common-sense solutions to save taxpayer dollars by better managing our buildings and facilities, consolidating procurement to improve how we purchase the things we need and enhancing and streamlining our information technology structure.
3. Cultural Transformation
To ensure that USDA remains the best place to work and continues to attract the best and brightest rising talent to our halls, we have taken steps to restructure USDA’s workforce through targeted use of early retirement and voluntary separation authorities, increased use of telework and re-energized USDA’s workforce through internships and pathways programs.
Through these efforts combined, we are proud to have saved taxpayers $1.6 billion in recent years.
Blueprint’s strategy puts trust where it belongs, in the hardworking knowledgeable employees of USDA, unlocking creativity of the federal work force to bring forward stronger and more comprehensive solutions to the challenges facing our department.
Strengthening the Way We Deliver
The Blueprint for Stronger Service started by taking a realistic view of the core needs of American agriculture and laid out a plan for USDA to modernize and accelerate delivery of our services while improving customer experience. Since Blueprint’s launch, every agency at USDA, and many staff offices, have engaged in process improvement projects to optimize the way they do business. By turning to USDA’s agencies and directing them to find efficiencies related to the unique work they do, we’ve improved management processes and established more than $57 million in savings.
Through our Signature Process Improvements alone, our dedicated workforce has already helped us save our customers more than $13.4 million dollars, and more than 375,894 USDA staff hours annually. And you can see instances of these small measures adding up to big savings all across USDA through some of our projects from the last few years:
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has been a particular leader in streamlining procedures to make sure they work better for our customers. In just one of dozens of process improvements the agency has made under this Administration, their Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB) created a process that enables the biologics industry to produce new and innovative veterinary products and gain approval for use in a more timely manner. This project improved the timeliness of final market authorization of veterinary biologics product licensing to the industry from 2.5 days to same day notification. The CVB has provided same day notification of over 241 billion doses of biologics, saving the industry approximately $100,000 per day due to inventory reduction and allowing expedited export shipments. In total, this is an estimated savings of almost $60,000,000 for predominately U.S. manufacturers of veterinary biologics in just over the last 2 years. As a result of their work, not only has the industry gotten increased return on their investment in biologic development, but U.S. agriculture also has access to better biologics.
Process improvements also allowed USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) to reduce the amount of time producers must wait when adding land to their farm operations. By eliminating the requirement to submit added land and new crop practice/type requests for approval, the agency has saved a total of 6,456 USDA staff hours per year. Previous to these process improvements, producers waited an average of 27 days for a determination. The new process allows the insurance companies to make the determination and advise the producer on the impacts to their coverage immediately.
Another streamlined process effort helped our Rural Housing Service to reengineer their mortgage loan application process transforming an outdated, cumbersome and labor-intensive loan application process into an automated and virtually paperless workflow. By improving the process for 140,000 loan applications annually, they achieved annual savings for lenders of $3.5 million and for reduced staff hours by 133,000, a financial benefit to USDA of approximately $4.8 million per year. The automation has enabled the agency to process more loans with fewer people, and has increased program flexibility and capacity, enabling more employees to focus on vital program areas, lender compliance and program oversight.
USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service used a process improvement to better the application process for both the Food for Progress and McGovern-Dole Food Assistance Programs improving guidance, reducing redundancies and improving the clarity and customer outreach for applicants. Stakeholders reported a 17 percent reduction in the number of hours required to submit an application. 91 percent of the stakeholders responded favorably to the changes that were implemented, and 92 percent of the stakeholders rated customer service as either good or excellent.
Our Natural Resource Conservation Service achieved an 85 percent reduction in the time to develop and award a grant (from 60 days to 9 days, on average) and an 80 percent improvement in integrity and accuracy thanks to process improvements. And USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) reduced clearance time of materials that dictate how the agency delivers services internally and programs externally from 18 days to 6 days on average, or 66 percent. As a result, FSA is able to implement and administer programs faster for their farmers and ranchers, saving approximately 5,910 staff hours annually, without sacrificing quality.
Prior to process improvements at USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration (GIPSA), the 700 licensed inspectors who certify U.S. produced grain and other commodities had to consult an aging network of handbooks, directives and program notices to find Federal Grain Inspection Service policy and updates. Under this Administration, GIPSA eliminated the multiple points of reference by identifying a web-based central point for distribution. GIPSA also significantly improved the process for developing and updating policy by reducing the steps by 55 percent, saving enough staff hours annually to equal 10 full time employees?—?time that is now redirected to customer service and oversight.
Lastly, the Economic Research Service modernized their system to process extramural cooperative agreements bringing their execution time down from 4–6 weeks to 5 business days. The new system is faster, transparent, paperless and reduces errors. The number of administrative staff involved in processing these agreements has been reduced by 2.5 full time employees which translates into an administrative savings of $210,000 per year. Additionally, customers have responded positively to the new electronic procedures that aid oversight by managers and provide a common budget office contact for external institutions.
More strategic resource management for the things we need
USDA has also saved significant tax dollars through better management of our buildings and facilities. By ending planned or on-going construction projects, and getting rid of property that’s underutilized or no longer necessary, we have saved $268.6 million. We’ve implemented energy savings practices and worked with utility companies to reduce expenditures by $6.5 million. And here in Washington, several USDA agencies have consolidated their locations from seven leased offices to a single facility, along with reducing leased space across the country, achieving more than $46.5 million in efficiencies.
USDA is a big Department with significant buying power. By taking better steps to buy goods and services at the Department level (as opposed to individual areas or agencies) through strategic sourcing, along with our efforts to centralize our purchasing contracts, USDA has achieved $186 million in efficiencies. We’ve improved our oversight of service contracts, including better acquisition management and data analysis, freeing up another $60 million in results. And we have put an end to the purchase of unnecessary promotional items. This will save taxpayers more than $1.8 million a year.
USDA will also achieve more than $135.5 million in efficiencies by updating the agreements we have for IT support and services, centralizing our data servers, consolidating cell phone services and ensuring that we only buy necessary IT equipment to get the job done
Lastly, we’ve cut back on travel to be sure that employees are only on the road when necessary to get mission-critical work done. These efforts have enabled USDA to avoid costs in excess of $575 million.
A more efficient and effective USDA workforce
The most productive and efficient modern workforce is one that is happy and satisfied. To that end, through USDA’s Cultural Transformation we have taken steps to ensure each and every individual at the Department is afforded equal opportunity for professional growth and the support and services they need to thrive in their careers at USDA.
USDA restructured its workforce through targeted use of Early Retirement and Voluntary Separation authorities. Through these efforts, USDA achieved more than $142.8 million in savings.
Through the increase of telework, the Department has also realized $18 million of cost avoidance in transit subsidies to employees. By having employees work from home more often, we are recognizing not only increased productivity, but also greater operating efficiencies and cost reductions.
We also know that building a diverse bench for the future does not just make practical sense, it makes economic sense. Every leading publication from Forbes to the Harvard Business Review touts the profitability of a workforce that includes employees with both inherent and acquired diversity. Cultural Transformation aims to create a high performing organization through these values of diversity, opportunity and inclusion. The unique perspectives these employees offer strengthen our business decisions, enrich our workplace, stretch our innovation and allow us to better adapt to the needs of the consumers and clients we serve.
We made it a priority to utilize hiring flexibilities and develop a model Pathways intern-to-career program working closely with the Office of Personnel Management and promoted via innovative on-campus hiring events.
We worked with the U.S. Conference of Mayors and other organizations to expand the number of summer youth employment opportunities available, including opportunities in USDA offices across the country.
As a result of these actions, over the past eight years, we’ve seen diversity increase from our lowest to our highest ranks, with 27 percent of our workforce comprised of minority employees. In fact, our Senior Executive Service now exceeds the government-wide workforce in 9 out of 10 diversity categories. The percentage of minorities in these ranks is up by 88% and percent of women has increased by 38% since the Cultural Transformation initiative began. That has earned us recognition as one of the most diverse groups of executives in the entire federal government.
At the same time, our hiring managers have led the charge in hiring returning veterans who have proudly served our country. Since 2011, approximately 30% of all new permanent hires are former service men and women.
In 2012, we embarked on Blueprint for Stronger Service to proactively adjust to a challenging budgetary climate in Washington. We found ways to better manage our processes without cutting services or support for people and communities in rural areas who were just beginning a slow recovery from the depths of the Great Recession. When I launched Blueprint, I asked the workforce of USDA to step up as they always have, and as they always will. True to form, their endless creativity, innovation and dedication to the American people has not only allowed us to cut costs and save taxpayer dollars, but also to strengthen our service and modernize our operations for the people we serve.
It has been the honor of my lifetime to serve the good people of the United States as Agriculture Secretary and to have been entrusted with the incredible privilege of leading the best federal workforce there is. Thank you.

Tracking system keeps your food safe
Source : http://www.shanghaidaily.com/district/jiading/Tracking-system-keeps-your-food-safe/shdaily.shtml
By Zhao Yiwei and Li Xinran (Dec 27, 2016)
A TOTAL of 31 farming enterprises and 64 wet markets are taking part in Jiading’s food tracking system.
Through tags on food packages, consumers can get information that includes who made it, who distributed it and how it was stored.
For example, when a local housewife buys fish at her local market, she can scan the QR code on the package with her phone and learn that it is from the Zhoushan archipelago in neighboring Zhejiang Province and the day on which it was caught.
The district’s food tracking system is part of a citywide effort which includes 20 sorts of food in nine categories. People can download apps or log on a website to trace data from throughout the supply chain.
The nine categories are grain, livestock, poultry, vegetables, fruit, seafood, bean products, dairy items and edible oil.
Of the local farming companies from Jiading, two plant melons, three produce strawberries and the rest grow grapes.
“All the fruits are locally produced and mainly from Malu, Huating, Nanxiang and Jiading Industrial Zone,” said Guan Liqin, of the district’s agricultural commission.
“They are sold at the farms, through the wholesale market or e-commerce platforms,” Guan added. The QR codes on packaging enable buyers to learn details of the farms and their produce including the fertilizer used and the last time pesticide was sprayed, Guan said.
Pork, beef, lamb, chicken and vegetables sold at wet markets in Jiading are also traceable. “All electronic scales at markets are connected to a network while each certificate and details from slaughterhouse to market will be uploaded and checked by authorities,” said Luo Jun, a market official.
Another 50 meal kit suppliers, central kitchens, 100 large restaurants and more than 300 medium-sized restaurants will be covered by the tracking system soon.
Zhang Jie, an official in charge of food safety at the district market supervision bureau, said: “The establishment of the tracking system is not only to restore consumers’ confidence about food security but also help enhance the effectiveness of supervision.”

 


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