Beach Beat: Sprout, sprout, let it all out — comment now
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/01/beach-beat-sprout-sprout-let-it-all-out-comment-now/#.WIV-q_mLSUl
BY CORAL BEACH (JAN 22, 2017)
Fresh, raw sprouts are among the most notorious of offenders in terms of foodborne illness outbreaks with almost 2,500 confirmed victims, including three deaths, in the past 20 years in the U.S. alone.
Add in the 2011 E. coli outbreak in Europe — which sickened more than 3,900 people, killing 53 and leaving about 800 with possible kidney failure from hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) — and one begins to wonder why there aren’t photos of sprouts on post office walls.
The dangers have not discouraged sprout enthusiasts, though, be they consumers or growers. After all, the nutritional value of sprouts is easily documented and they add a bit of crunch and subtle flavor to everything from sub sandwiches to pasta salad.
And they’re so easy to grow, as demonstrated on countless window sills in kindergarten classrooms and home kitchens across the country. All you really need is water, seeds or beans, and enough warmth to entice Mother Nature to do her thing. And therein lies the rub.
The same conditions needed for optimal sprout production are the living conditions of choice for bacteria such as E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella.
“But if you do it right, there’s not a problem,” sprout growers and lovers inevitably say.
I couldn’t agree more.
Unfortunately, there are people who do it wrong. Some of them are those industrious home chefs who grow their own and inadvertently poison their family and friends from time to time. Others are commercial growers who ship their sprouts to retailers and foodservice operations ranging from five-star restaurants to elementary school salad bars.
I’ve been watching the fresh sprout scene relatively closely since February 2011 when I went to work as a staff writer for fresh produce trade publication The Packer newspaper. That’s also when I stopped eating fresh, raw sprouts. I won’t even grow my own now that I understand the science behind the situation.
Granted, I don’t have all of the technical terms on the tip of my tongue, but by interviewing scientists, growers, industry watchdogs and government employees, and reviewing research and statistics related to sprouts, I’ve come to understand that growing safe sprouts for human consumption is a difficult, complex undertaking that masquerades as a simple process.
To do it right — which I personally define as producing sprouts that won’t poison people — pristine conditions are required, along with an absolute commitment to relentless cleaning, sanitizing and pathogen testing. It’s not brain surgery, but it can be just as deadly if it’s not done right.
Toward that end, the Food and Drug Administration published its long-awaited draft guidance to help sprout growers comply with the produce safety rule, which is one of the congressionally mandated regulations in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Sprouts are so problematic that FDA included a special section on them in the produce rule.
The 125-page draft guidance is available on the FDA website. The government is accepting comments on the sprout draft guidance until July 24.
Topics covered in the draft guidance include:
General sprout production;
Buildings, tools and equipment;
Cleaning and sanitizing;
Agricultural water in sprouting operations;
Seeds for sprouting;
Sampling and testing of spent sprout irrigation water or sprouts;
Environmental monitoring; and
Some people might say the sprout draft guidance and produce rule are an example of big government intervening in business operations. I contend they are an example of what Abraham Lincoln was talking about when he referred to a government “for the people.”
Now it’s time for you to meet the challenge of the Gettysburg Address and do the “by the people” part.
Take a look at the sprout draft guidance. You don’t have to read the entire 125-page document — check out pages 16-27 for Sections 3 and 4, “General Sprout Production” and “Buildings, Tools and Equipment.” You’ll see that the “government intervention” is chock full of outrageous guidelines for growers such as:
“You must visually examine seeds, and packaging used to ship seeds, for signs of potential contamination with known or reasonably foreseeable hazards. This visual exam of seeds and their packaging upon receipt is one of the first steps to take at your operation to reduce the chance of seeds serving as a source of contamination in the sprouts you produce.”
After you take a gander at the guidance, take a few more minutes to send the FDA your comments and use the power President Trump referenced in his inaugural remarks: “… we are transferring power from Washington D.C. and giving it back to you, the American people.”
Editor’s note: For information on how to submit comments, click here. All submissions must include the Docket No. FDA-2017-D-0175 for “Compliance with and Recommendations for Implementation of the Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption for Sprout Operations.”
Trump Names Sonny Perdue to Head USDA
Source : https://foodsafetytech.com/news_article/trump-names-sonny-perdue-head-usda/
By Food Safety Tech Staff (Jan 19, 2016)
This morning President-elect Donald Trump named Sonny Perdue, former governor of Georgia, to lead the USDA. The new agriculture secretary grew up on a farm in Georgia, has a doctorate in veterinary medicine, and owns the firm Perdue Partners, LLC, a global trading firm specializing in exporting U.S. goods.
His farming experience will be seen as a plus by many folks in the agriculture industry. However, the selection of Perdue also means there will be no Latinos in Trump’s Cabinet (this hasn’t happened since the Reagan administration).
Key issues in the agriculture sector that Trump’s administration will need to address include the 2018 farm bill, immigrant labor, the decline of farm income, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
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Global Standards Impacting Food and Beverage Processors
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/signature-series/global-standards-impacting-food-and-beverage-processors/
By Iuliana Nita (Jan 18, 2016)
Globalization has helped to create a business environment where geographical boundaries are blurred. Businesses and people are more interconnected through advanced technology and means of communication, where the exchange of an international good or service can occur with just the click of a button.
Aside from country-specific trade agreements, opportunities for international commerce have become nearly seamless. But with international commerce comes accompanying regulations, especially for food and beverage manufacturers. In fact, the food and beverage industry continues to be one of the most regulated industries to ensure consumer health and safety.
To remain compliant and protect brand integrity, food and beverage processors must be familiar with key global regulatory bodies and their safety standards for food contact materials, which can vary from country to country.
Global Standards, Common Goal
Despite the varying food and beverage standards around the globe, most regulatory bodies have one common goal: to protect the health and safety of consumers. This includes, but is not limited to, regulations for tubing that comes into direct or indirect contact with food and beverage materials. Tubing transfers and dispenses beverages and other foods with liquid-like consistencies across beverage processing operations—including soft drinks, bottled water and fruit drinks, along with alcohol (beer, wine and liquor) and dairy products like ice cream and milk.
Foods or beverages passing through tubing that has been contaminated with a buildup of bacteria, for example, can have foul effects on the product’s end taste or smell, also known as organoleptic properties. Bacteria buildup can also negatively affect overall hygiene and cleanliness. In more severe cases, chemicals leaching from the tubing composition into a food and/or beverage can have a negative impact on the product’s organoleptic properties, but an even more damaging impact on processors’ ability to achieve compliance with regulatory standards that govern the health and safety of foods and beverages for consumer consumption.
The European Union (EU) has enacted the Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) to protect human health and the environment from risks associated with a variety of hazardous chemicals. Beyond REACH, the EU also outlines specific rules to regulate articles or materials that come into contact with food.
For example, the Framework Regulation—or Food Contact Materials Regulation—covers the safety of all materials that might come into contact with food. Also known as Regulation (EC) 1935/2004, it states that any material intended to come into direct contact with food must be sufficiently inert to prevent substances from being transferred to the food in quantities large enough to endanger human health, bring about unacceptable changes to the food’s composition or deteriorate its organoleptic properties.
In addition, Regulation (EC) 2023/2006 lays out Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) for the development of food contact materials, which apply to all sectors and stages of manufacturing, processing and distribution. In Europe, all food contact materials are required to meet both Framework Regulation (EC) 1935/2004 and Regulation (EC) 2023/2006. There are additional safety regulations that have been put into place by the EU, which are applicable to all plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food. For example, Plastics Regulation (EU) 10/2011—also known as Plastics Implementing Measure—includes directives for food contact involving plastics. These materials can include packaging, food storage containers, kitchenware or utensils, as well as the plastics found in tubing materials that are often employed in food and beverage processing applications.
Plastics Regulation (EU) 10/2011 authorizes modeling as well as experiments to demonstrate product compliance. In fact, Saint-Gobain has recently helped develop a model in collaboration with academia to evaluate compliance using some of its Tygon® tubing products. The dynamic conditions of the particular model were selected based on an intimate knowledge of the food applications and situations that Saint-Gobain’s Tygon products typically endure and were continuously monitored for safety compliance.
North America (U.S. and Canada)
In the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the main governing body that oversees food additive standards.
The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act prohibits the adulteration of food, which is aimed to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by preventing contamination. This includes food contact substances (FCS), or any substance that is intended for use as a component of materials for manufacturing, processing, packing, packaging, transporting or holding food—as well as tubing that is typically used in food and beverage processing systems.
To date, the FDA has established a food contact notification process as the primary method of regulation when the FCS is not subjected to any food additive regulation, such as the Code of Federal Regulations, Vol. 21, Parts 174 to 186, Threshold of Regulation, Food Contact Notification Clearances and more.
Other U.S.-based standards include 3-A Sanitary Standards, which are managed by an independent organization that is dedicated to advancing hygienic equipment design for the food and beverage industry. Much like the government regulations for the food and beverage sector, 3-A Standards also share a common commitment to promoting food safety and public health.
The widely recognized 3-A symbol—which is also known as the Symbol of Assurance—indicates that food and beverage equipment meets 3-A’s design and fabrication standards. It is considered to be among the best in the food and beverage category, particularly within the dairy industry.
Lastly, the National Sanitation Foundation lists appropriate materials and manufacturing processes for the production of food safety materials, ensuring that products coming into contact with food and beverages meet specific safety standards.
In Canada, the main regulation affecting international food and beverage processors is the Safe Food for Canadians Act, which is enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
The standards require all food manufacturers, including processed food manufacturers, to be licensed and have preventive control systems, such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans or their equivalent. HACCP plans help find, correct and prevent hazards throughout the production process to ensure food safety and integrity.
Further, the Canadian Food and Drugs Act outlines specific standards and regulations for various types of foods and beverages. For food contact materials in particular, both Division 16 on Food Additives and Division 23 for Food Packaging apply.
Japan and China
In Japan, the Ministry of Health, Safety and Welfare has enacted the Food Sanitation Act. This act defines additives as “substances which are used by being added, mixed or infiltrated into food or by other methods in the process of producing food.” Only additives on the approved “positive list”—which designates select materials as safe for food and beverage processing applications—may be used.
The fundamental law regulating “food-related products” in China is the Food Safety Law and China’s National GB (Guobiao) Standards, which are monitored by the China Food and Drug Administration. Much like their international counterparts, the Food Safety Law and China’s GB Standards seek to ensure food safety and consumer health.
The Chinese Food Safety Law includes generally applicable standards, material standards, testing methods standards and GMP standards. The newest draft that applies to additives in food contact materials (GB 9685) was released in January 2015. More specifically, the updated Food Safety Law includes regulations for food manufacturing that will be more closely enforced, as China continues to refine the provisions and associated regulations. Food and beverage manufacturers should continue to stay aware of the significant changes that have been made.
Achieving Regulatory Compliance
Individual food and beverage processors are responsible for achieving compliance with various global regulations before placing a product into the marketplace. Material specification for tubing is a good place to start when looking for ways to assure regulatory compliance. Certain tubing materials are especially prone to leaching flavors or susceptible to imparting tastes from other substances into the product. From a safety and regulatory compliance standpoint, tubing materials should not leach chemicals into the food or beverage products.
The most effective course of action that beverage processors should take to ensure product quality is to partner with a knowledgeable component supplier that can provide guidance on proper tubing solutions. For example, Saint-Gobain Process Systems offers a complete portfolio of Tygon S3™ tubing solutions that complies with the industry’s most recognized regulatory standards around the world, including those set by REACH, FDA, 3-A, CFIA, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, China’s Food and Drug Administration and more.
Further, food and beverage processors must anticipate inevitable regulatory changes related to bisphenol A and phthalates, which are being driven by perceived consumer safety concerns. They can stay ahead of the curve by requiring phthalate-free tubing solutions like Saint-Gobain’s Tygon S3 B-44-3, which is a phthalate-free, bio-based tubing that combines the high-performance standards that customers demand with an eco-friendly tubing design. It is specially formulated for transferring a wide variety of beverages, including soft drinks, fruit juices, flavored teas and bottled water.
Choosing the right tubing solutions supplier with comprehensive design capabilities and products can also help food and beverage processors to design and/or select high-performance, long-lasting dispensing equipment.
Iuliana Nita is the global marketing manager, Food and Beverage, Process Systems Business Unit at Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics.
1. Pigeonneau, F, et al. 2016. “Numerical Investigation of Generalized Graetz Problem in Circular Tube with a Mass Transfer Coupling between the Solid and the Liquid.” Int J Heat Mass Transf 96:381–395.
You are here: Home / Food Safety / How to Report Problems to the FDA
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/how-to-report-problems-to-the-fda/
How to Report Problems to the FDA
By Linda Larsen (Jan 17, 2017)
The FDA is charged with making sure that foods and drugs are safe to eat and use. If you have a problem with a product that this agency regulates, you can report it.
FDA regulates about 20% of the products sold in this country. They include human prescription and over-the-counter drugs; medical devices; foods, including dietary supplements, infant formulas, beverage, and ingredients added to foods; veterinary products, including foods and drugs for animals; electronic products that give off radiation; biologics, including vaccines, blood, and tissues for transplantation; and cosmetics. The FDA also regulates tobacco products.
If you report a problem to the FDA, you could help identify a risk and protect others from harm. Your report could also help the FDA know when to trigger preventive and protective actions. Products may be removed from the market if they are deemed and hazard.
You are report products that cause unexpected side effects or adverse events. You can also report quality problems and potentially preventable mistakes, such as labels or packaging that look alike. Report medical products that do not work well, and of course, report any food concern, from illness or allergic reactions.
Dr. Anna Fine, director of the FDA’s Health Professional Liaison Program said, “if it’s serious to you, we want to know.” She said you should report an issue even if you aren’t sure a specific product was the cause of the problem.
You can report a problem to the FDA online, via phone, or mail. In limited emergency situations, which are urgent but not life-0threatening, call the emergency line at 1-866-300-4374 or 301-796-8240. This line is staffed 24 hours a day.
For non emergencies, call the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator who works with your state. Or you can visit the FDA non-emergency reporting page.
In your report, include as much detailed information as possible. Identify the age, sex, and ethnicity of the person affected. Include the name, manufacturer, or strength of the drug, or the name of the product. Also name the address of the store where you bought the product and when you bought it. Include details about the problem, such as symptoms, and also include information about medial treatments. Product codes, numbers, and dates on the packaging are also helpful.
FDA Announces Sprout Guidance: What Took so Long?
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/fda-announces-sprout-guidance-what-took-so-long/
By News Desk (Jan 19, 2017)
After eight multistate food poisoning outbreaks linked to raw sprouts in the past five years, the FDA is finally issuing draft guidance for comments to help sprout operations meet new standards that are designed to keep this product safe. Raw sprouts are often contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, and the damp and warm growing conditions are the perfect medium for bacterial growth.
The Produce Safety Rule, under the FDA Food Safety Modernization act of 2011, mandated new requirements for sprout operations. Sprouts are a unique food poisoning risk because the conditions under which they are grown are ideal for the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
Between 1996 and July 2016 there were 46 food poisoning outbreaks associated with sprouts in the United States. They caused 2472 illnesses, 187 hospitalizations, and three deaths.
The Produce Safety Rule requires that covered sprout operations take steps to prevent the introduction of dangerous microbes into seeds or beans used for sprouting. They must also test irrigation water (or, in-process sprouts in some cases) for some pathogens, and test the growing, harvesting, packing, and holding environment for the presence of Listeria species. Corrective actions must be taken when needed.
The Produce Safety Rule sets science-based standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruit and vegetables on farms for produce intended for human consumption.
The largest covered sprout operations must be compliance by January 26, 2017. Small and very small businesses have compliance dates of January 26, 2018 and January 28, 2019.
The most notable recent sproutbreaks include the E. coli O157:NM outbreak linked to Jack and the Green Sprouts raw alfalfa sprouts and alfalfa onion sprouts. That outbreak sickened nine people; seven in Minnesota and two in Wisconsin. And the fifth largest multistate food poisoning outbreak of 2016 was the Salmonella Muenchen and Salmonella Kentucky outbreaks linked to raw alfalfa sprouts produced by multiple facilities, including Sweetwater Farms in Inman, Kansas. The sprouts came from one contaminated seed lot.
In 2014, 111 people in 12 states were sickened with Salmonella infections in an outbreak linked to Wonton Foods bean sprouts. Also in 2014, an E. coli O121 outbreak linked to Jimmy John’s sandwiches made with Evergreen raw clover sprouts sickened 19 people in four states.
To protect yourself against food poisoning, even with these new regulations in place, people in high risk groups should not consume raw sprouts. That group includes the very young, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems and chronic illnesses.
Shanghai leads nation in setting tougher food safety regulations
Source : http://www.shanghaidaily.com/metro/society/Shanghai-leads-nation-in-setting-tougher-food-safety-regulations/shdaily.shtml
By Yang Jian (Jan 19, 2017)
SHANGHAI plans tough new food safety regulations — the toughest in the nation — that would see some offenders banned from the food industry for life.
Yan Zuqiang, director of Shanghai Food and Drug Administration, said some measures in the draft regulation were even tougher than China’s national food safety law.
It was presented to the annual session of the Shanghai People’s Congress yesterday and is expected to be approved today.
The new regulation imposes a lifetime ban from the industry for operators convicted of food safety crimes and a five-year ban for those whose business license is revoked.
“The draft stipulates local food business owners should set up management rules on the use of foods and additives that are near their expiry date, which is stricter than the national law,” Yan said on the sidelines of the Congress.
He said that clause was included in response to a 2014 scandal over out-of-date meat involving fast-food chain supplier Shanghai Husi Food Co.
Zhong Yanqun, deputy director with the Standing Committee of the Congress, said the legislation would rationalize oversight, putting the FDA in charge of food safety from production to the end of the line, including catering services.
Food safety is currently jointly overseen by the city’s quality watchdog, the industry and commerce authority, and the FDA.
Zhong said the new legislation would improve control of online food services, requiring food portals to supervise vendors’ online advertising, check their registered company names and their business licenses.
Platforms would be required to immediately remove vendors involved in food safety breaches or operating illegally.
Other measures include requiring delivery men to obtain health certificates and setting out hygiene requirements for equipment, including carry and storage boxes.
And small outfits must register with subdistrict governments to be able to continue operating, after they have met hygiene, fire and safety and environmental standards and received the approval of local residents.
Yan said this provided a solution for small food businesses that are popular but are unable to meet the qualifications for an official eatery license.
The city’s market supervision, environmental protection, housing, urban management and fire prevention authorities would closely monitor such businesses.
Fresh-cut processor expands SmartWash solutions to improve food safety
Source : http://www.freshplaza.com/article/169557/Fresh-cut-processor-expands-SmartWash-solutions-to-improve-food-safety
By freshplaza.com (Jan 19, 2017)
True Leaf Farms, the processing affiliate for fresh cut produce under Church Brothers, takes the next step in their food safety program by expanding their use of SmartWash Solutions™ on all their wash lines.
After trialing various wash line competitors to challenge and enhance their current food safety program, True Leaf Farms found the sophisticated system they were looking for with SmartWash Solutions which heightens their process control and alleviates challenges of the fresh cut process. SmartWash equipment offered a quality of control that other suppliers could not deliver. This control, when coupled with the SmartWash chemical technology, delivered better statistical results in both process control and antimicrobial efficacy.
“Since True Leaf Farms was in the process of evaluating their wash systems, it was the perfect opportunity for us to introduce SmartWash Solutions and compare head to head with competitors,” said Steven Swarts, Director of Business Development at SmartWash Solutions. “When you’re in the fresh cut industry, you’re frequently faced with challenges such as high organic loads and diverse product cuts. Given that our system is built to handle those issues with a high degree of process control, they felt that SmartWash was the best option for supplying a safer food system.”
True Leaf has invested in SmartWash Solutions’ full line of products for both conventional and organic produce wash lines. SmartWash’s Process Pro Data Live™ is used to efficiently track their wash lines in real time, while the Pinpoint Calibration System™ calibrates and verifies chlorine sensors. True Leaf has also deployed a handful of SmartWash Solutions’ Automated SmartWash Analytical Platform (ASAP)™ units in their production, which accurately monitor and control wash water chemistry.
“Converting all of our systems was a large implementation. SmartWash has a very knowledgeable support team who smoothly guided the transition,” said Vince Brigantino, president at True Leaf Farms. “They are an excellent partner and have been there every time we’ve needed them.”
“We chose SmartWash for three reasons,” stated Drew McDonald, VP of Quality & Food Safety for Church Brothers Farms and True Leaf Farms. “First, we have spent significant resources developing our state-of-the-art wash systems and we want to make sure we are operating at the highest level of food safety control. Second, SmartWash Solutions’ performance validation conducted by USDA-ARS as well as the on-site work conducted in our facility meets and exceeds FSMA expectations. And lastly, the reporting and overall technology of the system has no equal.”
By collaborating with True Leaf Farms, SmartWash Solutions continues to add value to the food processing trade and further establish themselves as an industry leader that helps plants achieve FSMA compliance.
“Through this partnership, we’re both helping each other,” said Swarts. “Getting True Leaf Farms on board not only helps us continue to build a client base representing a very large volume of the fresh cut industry, it helps them to continue to improve their food safety systems to ultimately process and deliver products to end users in a safer way.”
Health Unit delivers first-ever food safety A grade
Source : https://www.tbnewswatch.com/local-news/chinese-express-receives-first-food-safety-a-grade-513916
By tbnewswatch.com (Jan 18, 2017)
The Health Unit's new food safety grading system for local restaurants has officially launched.
THUNDER BAY – A new food safety and cleanliness grading system has awarded its first A grade.
Alterations to Thunder Bay’s licensing bylaws require businesses who serve food to the public to post a scorecard displaying their most recent food inspection grade for the public to view.
The Thunder Bay Health Unit launched its new DineWise food safety program Wednesday by presenting its first scorecard to the owners and staff of Chinese Express.
Myhanh Nguyen proudly placed a pre-printed green sign with the letter grade A on the restaurants window.
“It feels amazing to put it out there that we are the first ones to get the (grade) A,” Nguyen said.
“Food safety, cleanliness and sanitation are our number one priority and to be recognized for that is a great reward for sure.”
The program involves health inspectors scoring restaurants on food safety and cleanliness followed by a sign posting with the corresponding grade to be displayed in the entrances and pick-up windows.
It was created to improve compliance with food safety standards and legislation with a goal of reducing the risk of foodborne illness.
“I think it’s a great idea…as I have said I think food sanitation, cleanliness and the safety of the food is our number one priority and by having this program it lets our customers know and be confident eating here,” Nguyen said.
The Chinese Express staff are constantly cleaning and have received numerous compliments on the cleanliness of the restaurant over the years.
Nguyen took the food safety course and it helped her learn how to maintain and keep a clean restaurant.
“We want the restaurant to have the image of a very clean restaurant that makes food safety a priority.”
Environmental health programs manager Lee Sieswerda said the program’s goal is to encourage restaurants to aim for higher standards.
During the inspection restaurants will begin with a score of 100 and the inspectors will go through a list of possible infractions that the restaurant must follow and points are deducted for each infraction.
Restaurants will be given a grade of A, B, C or D after the inspection is complete.
“The C’s and D’s are coloured yellow,” Sieswerda said. “What we are going to do is they are going to be on an enhanced inspection schedule.”
Sieswerda said rather than having an inspection once every year they will be inspected three times for three months to ensure restaurants rise a higher standard.
All food premises are broken up into risk factors, so it’s based on complexity.
The more complex food properties are considered high risk and they are inspected three times a year, a modern risk would be inspected twice a year and low risk places are only inspected once a year.
Sieswerda said by the end of this year all Thunder Bay licensed eating establishments will have a scorecard exposed to the public.
King County Unveils Emoji-Based Food Safety System
Source : http://www.seattleweekly.com/news/king-county-unveils-emoji-based-food-safety-system/
By JESUS HIDALGO (Jan 18, 2017)
They’re like little texts, sent from your local health department.
Elliott Bay Brewery in Lake City on Tuesday became the first food venue in King County holding a window sign that illustrates the county’s brand-new system for rating food safety. The signs will display ratings based on four different inspections rather a single visit, which will hopefully convey an accurate evaluation of a restaurant’s performance over time, according to Public Health Seattle/King County.
Kerry White, Executive Chef of Elliott Bay Brewery, said that she and her colleagues were proud when Public Health Seattle/King County asked the restaurant to be the first food venue in the county where a sign would be posted.
“We hope this has a positive impact in King County. It’s also a great opportunity for us to continue being on the top of our constant focus on good service,” White said.
Restaurants located in the county’s northern area—like Elliott Bay Brewery—will be the first ones to receive their food safety ratings and signs this year.
The origins of the system date back from 2001, when King County became the first municipality in the state to post the results of restaurant inspections online. Twelve years later, a group of the county’s residents reviewed the program in a survey. Later in 2013, that group asked for information more specific than if a restaurant passed or failed an inspection, so Public Health Seattle/King County decided to host meetings with food safety experts and community members to receive feedback about a potential rating system a year after.
In 2016, focus groups and online surveys took place in eight different languages and helped the county develop a final version of a system with emojis that could be accessible, effective and easy to grasp for everybody.
“We know there will be an education process to help customers, and our members, understand what the restaurant window signs represent and we look forward to supporting the health department’s education efforts,” Samantha Louderback, a local government affairs coordinator of the Seattle Restaurant Alliance, told Public Health Insider. “Ultimately, we hope our customers are able to easily and accurately determine what each window sign means and how they convey food safety risks.”
The rating has four categories—“Needs to improve,” “Okay,” “Good” and “Excellent”—which are calculated by the average of “red critical violations” a restaurant committed over the course of the four most recent inspections. Red critical violations are defined as the practices that could provoke food-related illnesses and include lack of hand-washing, keeping unclean surfaces, not cooking food to a safe temperature and not keeping food at a proper temperature.
All categories except from “Needs to improve” are rated on a curve, averaging a restaurant’s score with others in the same zip code.
Another feature of the system is that it trains its staff through side-by-side peer inspections, which should boost inspectors’ consistency and reliability. With a peer review, inspectors are able to talk through their observations, learn from each other and understand how they reach their conclusions as well.
“We worked hard to design a new food safety rating system that advanced equity and fairness,” Damarys Espinoza, Public Health Seattle/King County Outreach Manager, told Public Health Insider. “Our rating methods were designed to fairly measure a restaurant’s food safety practices by focusing on trend over time, scale of performance and rating on a curve. We are also committed to continue that collaboration by making changes to the rating system based on evaluation results.”
Food Integrity – Connecting the Elements of a Larger Vision
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/food-integrity-connecting-the-elements-of-a-larger-vision/
By Brian Sterling (Jan 17, 2017)
In the first of this series of articles, we introduced food protection as a broad concept encompassing the high goal of what we called food integrity. We proposed a model to help us investigate the interplay of food safety, food security, food defense and food sustainability on food integrity. Our hypothesis was that the four each contribute in their own way and are the means to achieve the goal. By talking about food protection, we broaden our thinking about what is needed to improve food integrity by looking holistically at the safety, security, defense and sustainability of food and the system that delivers it.
This systems-thinking approach is our basis for creating a more effective food system. As food safety professionals, we have seen the increasing global trend by companies and regulators for more proactive methods of protecting the global food supply. We now observe that by focusing separately on food security, defense, safety and sustainability, we have created a reactive, less effective way of addressing the issues in our food system. This has left us with unexplored opportunities and suboptimal solutions. There is growing realization each aspect of our model is only part of the larger and richer vision, and they need to be addressed as a whole if we are to improve the results of our efforts. As they say in Six Sigma training, “Better is always different.”
Consider ‘food integrity’ as the expression of a goal that we want to attain: a goal that continuously balances our needs and desires around food security, food defense, food safety and food sustainability.
If each element at the ‘base’ of our model were a driver of food integrity, then what is its connection between food security and food safety? What about between food security and food defense? Or between those elements and food sustainability? To explore those questions, it will help to have a definition of the four elements, so here goes.
If we consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, food security is clearly a basic physiological requirement. Food security is considered a state of having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. There are many versions of this idea; the theme is that people have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs for an active and healthy life. The societal aspect of food security often challenges us—many people have less access to nutritious food and thus lower food security.
Food safety is typically defined as the discipline and practice of the handling, preparation and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness. Food defense is similarly positioned as the means to protect food from intentional contamination or adulteration by biological, chemical, physical or radiological agents. The two are closely related with the difference mainly being the question of intention; their definitions are also broadly accepted.
Food sustainability is arguably more difficult to define. This is due to the complex network of steps that take place to bring food from farm to fork. There is also the interplay of the physical aspect of producing food with the financial realities of business, the political and cultural realities guiding food production and consumption, the impact that producing food has on our environment and the very real personal and psychological impacts that food has. Our definition therefore reflects the ecological, social and economic values of a community and region. Food sustainability deals with all this and can be defined as the result obtained from a network that integrates all these components and enhances a community’s environmental, economic and social well-being.
With all this in mind, we place food security prominently in our model and connect it to the other aspects of food protection. Food security influences and is influenced by each of the others. To begin:
• Food security guides the efficiency and effectiveness of food safety; it places constraints and expectations upon the discipline and practice of avoiding unintentional contamination of food.
• In return, food safety strengthens food security because of the practical nature of influencing confidence in the food we eat, and lowering or eliminating foodborne illness and death.
In this context, we must take into account food security when we make decisions and take action on food safety and as we build a food safety culture in organizations. Food safety practices and food security will also operationalize food sustainability. More on this in our next article.
Infographic: Who Outsources Pathogen Testing?
Source : https://foodsafetytech.com/news_article/infographic-outsources-pathogen-testing/
By ://foodsafetytech.com (Jan 17, 2016)
Pathogen testing of food samples, whether in-plant or outsourced, is a critical task. Although some companies find it more cost-effective (and they have the capabilities) to conduct testing in-house, other companies don’t want to touch it due to cost and potential risk.
“Food processors are far more comfortable analyzing samples for nutritional parameters, contaminants and routine microbiology in an in-plant lab, but fewer are comfortable running pathogen tests in-plant,” stated Bob Ferguson of Strategic Consulting in the Food Safety Tech article, Changing Landscape for Selecting a Food Safety Contract Laboratory.
According to Ferguson, some of the factors that lead food processors to outsource pathogen testing include:
Need for skilled analysts (including recruiting and maintaining accreditations
Lab accreditation (just 20% of food company labs are accredited)
Analytical methods require complex equipment, which can be expensive to maintain
Risk of in-house pathogen contamination
The below infographic reveals some of the findings, discussed at the 2016 Food Safety Consortium, of a survey conducted of more than 100 food processing customers of food contract laboratories.
King County unveils new food safety signs
Source : http://www.theeastside.news/news/local/king-county-unveils-new-food-safety-signs/article_bcdd6e4a-dd05-11e6-9854-7774d0f38e27.html
By Vernal Coleman (Jan 17, 2017)
Starting this week, residents in West Seattle will get a fresh view into food-safety practices at their local restaurants.
King County public-health officials on Tuesday unveiled newly designed food-safety signs featuring the county’s new health-grading system.
Years in the making, the new grading system will rate the county’s more than 11,000 permanent food businesses based on an aggregate score of four recent health inspections. Under the previous rating system, each restaurant’s health grade was based on a single assessment by county health inspectors.
The new grading system will reflect how a restaurant scored in critical areas such as properly controlling food temperatures and using safe serving practices. Under the new system, zero is a perfect score. A restaurant can be closed if it amasses 90 points or more.
A restaurant may be ranked excellent, good, fair or needs improvement on signs, which feature smiley-face emoji in backgrounds of green, yellow and grey.
Dow Constantine and other county officials unveiled the new signs and final design Tuesday morning at the West Seattle Fish House on 35th Avenue.
According to the county, it could take some time before the signs start showing up in your favorite restaurants. Establishments will be rolled into the new system in four phases throughout 2017.
Restaurants in King County are inspected on average 1-3 times per year, so some restaurants will not be inspected and get their window signs until later in 2017.
Phase one of the roll out will begin today in restaurants in Seattle (north of Interstate 90), Shoreline and Lake Forest Park.
Technology gives transparency to transportation food safety
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/01/technology-gives-transparency-to-transportation-food-safety/#.WIWBhfmLSUl
BY LAURA MUSHRUSH (JAN 16, 2017)
The second in a four-part series brought to you by Par Technology Corp.
There are mountains of it; fresh, nutritious, beautiful — belonging on the finished plates of high-end restaurants, school lunch trays and dinner tables across America. But instead, it’s dumped into landfills to rot into nothing — enough each year to feed 3 billion people.
On top of that overall estimate, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that problems with production, handling and storage are responsible for 54 percent of the world’s food waste, while 46 percent happens during processing, distribution and consumption phases.
Sometimes it’s because of compromised food safety from unstable temperatures, improperly sealed containers or mislabeling, but whatever the reason, it carries a hefty price tag.
In efforts to protect food during the trip from the farm to a consumer’s fork, the Food Safety Modernization Act include a rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food. It sets clear, defined responsibilities for shippers, loaders, carriers by rail or motor vehicle, to ensure food safety through sanitary practices while keeping in step with FSMA’s effort to shift food safety to a prevention focus.
While some methods used prior to the issuance of the rule are in compliance with FSMA, food companies will be able to more easily implement cutting-edge practices and safe guard their products with the help of technology to keep a close eye on sanitary conditions of shipping containers, temperature control and tracking of products.
“Today we have remote monitoring systems that we didn’t have very long ago and we’ve got the capability to watch a load all the way through,” said Dave Theno, CEO of Gray Dog Partners Inc. The food safety consultant’s long resume includes working with Jack in the Box during their E. coli outbreak in the 1990s, Kellogg’s, and current clients such as Costco and Subway.
“With product traceability requirements, which are a big part of this, we have the opportunity to stay ahead of the curve on this to know where loads are all the time.”
Along with tracking temperature control, this type of eyes-in-the-sky technology plays a huge role when it comes executing a recall, determining where things went wrong, and most importantly — preventing one from happening. Take allergen control for example, and the importance of proper truck sanitation practices being put in place.
“Let’s say you’re worried about allergen control and you’re handing something in a truck that had hauled peanuts before. So how do you protect the load that you’re hauling from becoming contaminated?” Theno said.
According to Theno, at the end of the day, it comes down to food companies continuing to practice proper food safety protocols.
“The actual compliance part of it is not the simplest to understand, but a lot of people are over guessing themselves about how complex it is to do. It’s kind of the same old story — just being enforced,” he says.
“It’s just really all about making sure food safety criteria that is relevant to the products is contained.”
Editor’s note: Watch for Part 3 of this series, which includes information about high-tech solutions to help food companies meet FSMA requirements, scheduled to publish Jan. 23.
FDA Revises Draft Guidance for Listeria Control in RTE Foods
Source : https://foodsafetytech.com/news_article/fda-revises-draft-guidance-listeria-control-rte-foods/
By Food Safety Tech Staff (Jan 16, 2017)
Any food facility that manufactures, processes, packs or holds ready-to-eat (RTE) foods should view FDA’s update on its draft guidance, Control of Listeria monocytogenes in Ready-To-Eat Foods. Consistent with FSMA, the draft focuses on prevention, and includes best practices and FSIS’s seek-and-destroy approach. Other recommendations include controls involving personnel, cleaning and maintenance of equipment, sanitation, treatments that kill Lm, and formulations that prevent Lm from growing during food storage (occurring between production and consumption).
“This guidance is not directed to processors of RTE foods that receive a listericidal control measure applied to the food in the final package, or applied to the food just prior to packaging in a system that adequately shields the product and food contact surfaces of the packaging from contamination from the food processing environment.” – FDA
The agency will begin accepting comments on January 17.
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