FoodHACCP Newsletter



Food Safety Job Openings

02/18. Regional Food Safety Coord - Garland, TX
02/17. QA/QC Technician 1st shift - Chaska, MN
02/17. Food Safety Auditor II - Dallas, TX
02/17. Agricultural Inspector QA - MD
02/15. Director of QA - Ft. Atkinson, WI
02/15. Food Safety/QA Mgr – Minneapolis, MN
02/15. QA Technician – Newport News, VA
02/15. Food Safety Specialist – New Orleans, LA
02/13. Food Safety Representative - Texas
02/13. Quality Assurance Specialist - Grandview, WA
02/13. Qual & Food Safety Spec – Franklin, TN

02/20 2017 ISSUE:744

Health Beat: Food safety mistakes at home
Source : http://www.wfmz.com/health/health-beat/health-beat-food-safety-mistakes-at-home/337623238
By Melanie Falcon (Feb 16, 2017)
ORLANDO, Fla. - Do you have a food thermometer at home? Better question: do you actually use it? A recent study found that less than 10 percent of people who own a food thermometer use it. The USDA recommends consumers use a thermometer to limit the risk of salmonella and other pathogens from being in their meats and poultry if they are not properly cooked.
Another thing people should do is separate the food and be careful of cross contamination. Use separate cutting boards for meats and produce to ensure that germs from raw meat are not getting into your salad.
What about storing your food? The Kansas State study found that only 18 percent of people correctly stored raw poultry in the refrigerator. It is important to keep your refrigerator below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and refrigerate foods promptly.
"The key thing to remember is make sure food is not in the danger zone for more than two hours. The danger zone is temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees," said Joe Kivett, a food safety expert and author of The Food Safety Book.
Those are temperatures that can allow bacteria to grow on your food and cause food borne illness. Furthermore, washing your hands seems like the simplest of all tasks, but the Kansas State researchers found that people tracked contamination all over the kitchen and the house when cooking.
"People think I'm at home, it's my house, and I don't need to wash my hands all the time, but there are so many things. You go to change a baby's diaper and you came back to the kitchen or you go to the bathroom and you came back," Kivett said.
So wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and that can save you from being sick hours later.
Kivett also said that if you get food delivered from the now-popular meals kit services, like Blue Apron or Plated, to make sure the package is not damaged and the meals are not in the danger zone for more than two hours.

Deadlines for new food safety law coming up(NZ)
Source : http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU1702/S00577/deadlines-for-new-food-safety-law-coming-up.htm
By Ministry of Primary Industries (Feb 20, 2017)
The deadline for some businesses to register under the new Food Act is coming up. Food businesses, including restaurants and cafes with an alcohol licence, need to apply by 31 March.
Over 5,000 food businesses across the country are already registered under the new law, which came into effect last year.
Sally Johnston, Manager Food and Beverage at MPI, says the new law aims to improve food safety by moving to a risk-based approach.
“It sets different rules for different businesses depending on what they do, and focuses on what’s most important for making sure food is safe.”
While new businesses have to comply straight away, existing businesses are changing over to the new rules in stages. Other businesses that need to register by 31 March this year include Early Childhood Education centres that serve food; processors of nuts, seeds or coffee beans; and manufacturers of food for vulnerable people (like babies or the elderly), ready-to-eat salads, and sauces, spreads, dips or soups that need to be kept cold.
“Local councils and MPI are working with businesses to help them change over to the new rules. We’ve been holding workshops for food businesses around the country and have published online tools, step-by-step guides and videos on the MPI website.
“Under the new rules, higher-risk businesses, including restaurants and cafes, need to use a written plan for food safety, called a food control plan. Medium and lower risk businesses will follow a set of food safety rules known as a national programme.
“All registered businesses get checked by a food safety verifier. This is an important part of the system, as it’s how we check businesses are making safe food. Those that manage food safety well will be checked less often than those who don’t.
“This means that doing things well can help businesses save time and money, as well as giving customers confidence that their food is safe.”
Most businesses need to register with their local council. They can find out how the rules apply to them by using a tool called “Where do I fit?” on the MPI website: www.mpi.govt.nz/foodact

Six Certification Courses Being Offered at Food Safety Summit
Source : http://finance.yahoo.com/news/six-certification-courses-being-offered-170018694.html
By Marketwired (Feb 17, 2017)
The Food Safety Summit will kick off on Monday, May 8th with six certification courses focused on Produce Safety, Seafood HACCP, Preventive Controls for Animal Food, Foreign Supplier Verification, Preventive Controls for Human Foods and Auditor Training. These important courses will be held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois during the 19th Annual Food Safety Summit being held Monday, May 8 - Thursday, May 11. This must attend event is for producers, processors, retailers, wholesalers, foodservice administrators, controllers and the community offers an informational based gathering and expo intended to meet the instructive and educational needs of the industry.
"The Food Safety Summit seeks to help advance knowledge among the food industry to meet FSMA requirements and to help all members of the food industry get the training they need to do their jobs," said Scott Wolters, Director, Tradeshows and Conferences, BNP Media, producers of the Food Safety Summit. "For the 2017 Summit, we are working with leading subject matter experts to offer six FSPCA, AFDO and NEHA certification courses. Attendees to these programs will also have access to the full Summit program."
Seating for each certification course is limited, and all are expected to sell out, early registration is strongly encouraged. Click here to register for the following Certification and Training Courses. All courses begin on Monday, May 8th and vary in length.NEW - Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training - This course will provide a foundation of Good Agricultural Practices and co-management information, FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirements, and details on how to develop a farm food safety plan. This course satisfies the FSMA Produce Safety Rule training requirement outlined in 112.22(c) and, after attending the course, participants will receive a certificate of course attendance from the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO).
NEW - Preventive Controls for Animal Food - This course is being made available in response to the Food and Drug Administration's final rule issued for Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals. Completing this course meets the FSMA requirements for a PCQI. Under the rule, covered animal food facilities are required to establish and implement an animal food safety system that includes an analysis of hazards and implementation of risk-based preventive controls.
NEW - FSPCA Foreign Supplier Verification Programs Training - Importers have precious little time to design, test and implement a Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP). Waiting to create a comprehensive FSVP could result in disruption of the supply chain, delays in entry processing, and in some cases, the exclusion of products from the U.S. marketplace. This course is a two-day standardized, training curriculum that will provide participants with an understanding of the requirements of the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs rule for importers of food for humans and animals.
Preventive Controls for Human Foods - The regulation requires that certain activities, including the creation and implementation of a Food Safety Plan with risk-based Preventive Controls, must be completed by a "preventive controls qualified individual" (PCQI). An easy way to become a PCQI is to successfully complete training in the development and application of risk-based preventive controls. This course, developed by the FSPCA, is the "standardized curriculum" recognized by FDA and successfully completing this course meets the FSMA requirements for a "preventive controls qualified individual".
Professional Food Safety Auditor Training - This course is designed to strengthen and enhance the skills, knowledge and critical thinking behaviors attributed to a qualified food safety auditor in the post FSMA environment. All course participants will receive a Certificate of Completion from NEHA.
Seafood HACCP - Segment 2 - This one-day Segment Two course is required to receive a Certificate of Course Completion from the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) to demonstrate that participants meet the training requirement of the FDA Seafood HACCP regulation CFR Part 123.10. This training sequence is equivalent to the training received by attending a standard "live" three-day Alliance training course. Attendees must first complete the Segment One Internet Training Course provided by Cornell University.
In addition to the certification programs there will be several hands-on learning opportunities in four half-day workshops, which allows for more extensive and interactive education with expert panelists and industry peers. Workshops on Tuesday, May 9th include The Latest in Listeria Control; Preventive Controls and Sanitary Food Transportation Act (SFTA): The Basics and Sustainment; A Guide to Success as a Food Safety Professional; and Integrated Food Safety System Update. Attendees will then have access to 20+ education sessions, access to the exhibit hall, and networking events. Registration is open and the full conference program is now available live at www.foodsafetysummit.com.
About the Food Safety Summit
The Food Safety Summit is a solutions-based conference and expo designed to meet the educational and informational needs of the food industry including growers, processors, retailers, distributors, foodservice operators, regulators and academia. The event will be held Monday May 8 through Thursday, May 11, 2017 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL. The event is produced by BNP Media (www.bnpmedia.com), one of the country's leading business-to-business media companies serving professionals across 50+ industries. Details and registration information are available at www.foodsafetysummit.com.

 

 


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Food Fraud Vulnerability Assessment and Prefilter for FSMA, GFSI and SOX Requirements
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/februarymarch-2017/food-fraud-vulnerability-assessment-and-prefilter-for-fsma-gfsi-and-sox-requirements/
By John Spink, Ph.D., and Doug Moyer, Ph.D.
Have you completed your food fraud vulnerability assessment (FFVA) for all types of fraud and all your incoming and outgoing products? For the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), you must address all types of food fraud and identify and address “hazards that require a preventive control.” This article presents recent peer-reviewed research on methods to comply with FSMA, the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and other food safety requirements and initiatives.
Food Fraud Scope
Food fraud is illegal deception for economic gain using food, including economically motivated adulteration (EMA) defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be a “substance” for “economic gain.” FSMA has been less clear on the terminology since the Preventive Controls-Qualified Individual training added new terms of “economically motivated hazard” and “economically motivated food safety hazard.” The general types of food fraud include adulterant substances, theft, tampering, simulation, diversion or gray market, and intellectual property rights counterfeiting.
Compliance History and Requirements
Although FDA’s current focus is on FSMA, there are several compliance requirements that address all types of global food fraud (Table 1). While strict liability and the Park Doctrine have been in effect, there is a new emphasis on criminal liability for the individuals, not just the company. The FDA Office of Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice have publicly stated there will be a focus on criminal prosecution for the corporations as well as the individual.
FSMA Preventive Controls rule: As of September 2016, one significant compliance requirement is for vulnerability assessments that address all types of food fraud, specifically, all “agents” that could lead to a “hazard that requires a preventive control” from an act that is “economically motivated.” Sections of the final FSMA rule specifically mention “theft” and “stolen goods.” Additionally, FSMA does not supersede existing regulations such as the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act of 1938 (FD&C Act) but instead augments those requirements. Such requirements that are still in effect are specifically noted in the “Adulterated Foods” and “Misbranded Foods” sections.
Compliance Requirement: Vulnerability assessment and comprehensive protection plan for all types of food fraud
Compliance Date: September 2016
FD&C Act: Since 1938, all types of food fraud have been illegal and unfit for commerce per the “Adulterated Foods” and “Misbranded Foods” sections. The original act refers to “fraud jokesters” and was implemented in part due to a highly publicized diethylene glycol (DEG) poisoning incident.[1] Unfortunately, DEG poisoning is still a problem that was listed in the FDA EMA public meeting in 2009 and a concern for FSMA in 2011.[2]
Compliance Requirement: All types of fraud, including misbranding
Compliance Date: 1938
GFSI Benchmarking Requirement Issue 7: GFSI Issue 7 is scheduled to publish in February 2017 and requires an FFVA for all types of food fraud and a food fraud prevention strategy.[3] GFSI stated the intent and scope in the July 2014 “GFSI Position on Mitigating the Public Health Risk of Food Fraud.”[4] The GFSI Board of Directors endorsed food fraud guidance and the FFVA created by the SSAFE organization.5 Some GFSI food standards providers—such as the British Retail Consortium (BRC)—included food fraud prevention requirements as far back as July 2015.
Compliance Requirement: All types of food fraud that could lead to a health hazard
Compliance Date: One year after publication of Issue 7 (January 2018); BRC Global Standards compliance has been in effect since July 2015; new requirements for FSSC 22000 were released in December 2016 and will be required by late 2017
Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX or Sarbox): SOX financial and securities regulatory requirements have been implemented since 2002 and were expanded with the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010. Public companies (often private companies also) must manage, document and report enterprise-wide risks. There is clear criminal liability not only for the corporation but also for decision makers, including CEOs, CFOs, boards of directors and even board-level auditors. The Committee of the Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) created a management system called enterprise risk management (ERM) that addresses financial risk such as that posed by food fraud events.
Compliance Requirement: Implement internal controls and an integrated framework that manages risk within a risk appetite; publicly report the risks
Compliance Date: 2002
Other significant requirements regarding food fraud prevention are being implemented or are in development by the European Commission, UK and China, as well as by the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the International Standards Organization (ISO). Although no public details are available, ISO 22000 Food Safety Management is reportedly expanding to include food fraud and food defense.
Food Fraud Requirements
The most detailed explanation of food fraud compliance requirements is provided by GFSI. The GFSI position paper on food fraud states:
Food fraud…is deception of consumers using food products, ingredients and packaging for economic gain and includes substitution, unapproved enhancements, misbranding, counterfeiting, stolen goods or others.[4]
Specific GFSI requirements have been provided in advance of the final publication (Figure 1[3]).
ERM and COSO Resources
Fortunately, the food industry does not need to reinvent the wheel to address food fraud. In conjunction with criminology theories that address crime prevention, there are financial and securities management resources already in place. For example, public food companies are already required to have an enterprise-wide system to identify, manage and report risks. One of the most widely adopted systems was created by COSO/ERM,[6,7] such that food safety systems adapt or translate into ERM systems and not the reverse. This means resource-allocation decision making surrounding food fraud prevention is integral to the corporation’s ERM system.
The most important topic for resource-allocation decision making is the concept formally defined by COSO as “risk appetite.” Essentially, this is the maximum risk the stakeholders are expecting from their investment in your company. Every decision across the corporation is assessed in relation to every other decision. Plotting food fraud on the corporate risk map is risk aggregation that allows for comparison with all other enterprise-wide concerns.
There is a hierarchy of systems that begins with the determination of the corporate risk appetite that is managed within an ERM. This is accomplished in two parts: an initial screening assessment [a prefilter, or the first step of “initial screening” in a food fraud initial screening (FFIS) tool] and when needed, a detailed or full assessment (e.g., FFVA per SSAFE guidance; Figure 2). These vulnerability assessments build from food fraud insight. The insight could be from known or suspicious incidents and internal reports. There are other specific tools or models available, including the U.S. Pharmacopeia adulterant-substance vulnerability assessment focused on food ingredients and others addressing all food fraud types such as cargo theft. Market monitoring and horizon scanning are proactive searches that feed into ongoing assessments, as ERM mandates an iterative process.
Food Fraud Initial Screening Tool
ERM risk assessments occur into two stages: A qualitative initial screening followed by a more detailed quantitative assessment.
The following describes a method for the qualitative initial screening, which is the FFIS.[8] The FFIS provides a prefilter or preliminary review of the entire vulnerability. For some decision makers, detailed information may not be needed for an initial review.
From the FFIS article, the ERM Stage 1 qualitative assessment includes:
Step 1 — Define the Scope and Basic Terms: This includes defining “very high” through “very low” for likelihood and consequence. This includes selecting sample or typical ingredients (incoming goods, raw materials) and finished goods (outgoing products) as well as approximately five geographic regions and five product groups. To meet compliance requirements, the assessment must cover all products and all geographies (for example, suppliers and product groups are combined to cover the full spectrum). If any products or geographies are not covered, then the analysis is incomplete and out of compliance.
Step 2 — Incident Review: Gather summarized (or detailed) food fraud incident information (all types) to the level of precision, accuracy and certainty required by the resource-allocation decision maker.
Step 3 — Conduct the Food Fraud Initial Screening (Figure 3): Assess both health hazards and economic impact for the selected ingredients and finished goods.
Step 3A — Health Hazards (Figure 4): Assess health hazards. For compliance with FSMA’s Preventive Controls rule, this would be to identify “hazards that require a preventive control.” This assessment of health hazards provides insight on the overall economic impact. For example, situations with a higher health hazard would probably also lead to a higher economic impact.
Step 3B — Economic Impact (Figure 5): To apply the ERM system, the food fraud vulnerabilities must be presented in economic terms. This is also a compliance requirement for SOX.
Step 4 — Corporate Risk Rank (Figure 6): The fraud opportunities are posted on the corporate risk map and ranked. COSO formally defines this as “risk aggregation.” Here, red and orange cells are defined as unacceptable vulnerabilities because they exceed the corporation’s risk appetite. Yellow cells include vulnerabilities that are of concern but fall within “actively monitor” actions. The blue and green cells are below the risk appetite but still a concern.
The corporate risk map is a common and recognized chart for CFOs and risk managers. The most valuable feature is that a single chart enables all risks to be evaluated against all other risks. This document presents risks that are unacceptable and must be addressed—or at least publicly acknowledged in an annual report—or the risk manager could face criminal liability. For the CFO, this chart is the financial equivalent of your receiving a positive Salmonella test from a certified lab. In short, if you receive such a report, you know you must act on it or you could be fired—or worse.
Conclusion
All types of food fraud can result in enterprise-wide risks, so an ERM system must address all types of vulnerabilities. The model developed in this article addresses the first stage: the FFIS. Companies should utilize the FFIS as a starting point to meet the compliance requirements of FSMA, the FD&C Act, GFSI and SOX. The GFSI Board endorsed the SSAFE FFVA as a logical next step for a more detailed assessment.
For more information, please see the link to the FFIS scholarly article or more information on www.FoodFraud.msu.edu. Other capacity-building training resources include the International Union of Food Science and Technology scientific information bulletin and video on food fraud prevention,[9] food fraud massive open online courses and executive-education short courses.[10] 
John Spink, Ph.D., is the director of the Food Fraud Initiative and an assistant professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University.
Doug Moyer, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Program in Public Health at Michigan State University.
References
1. www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/WhatWeDo/History/ProductRegulation/SulfanilamideDisaster/default.htm.
2. www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/MeetingsConferencesWorkshops/ucm163619.htm.
3. www.myGFSI.com.
4. www.mygfsi.com/files/Technical_Documents/Food_Fraud_Position_Paper.pdf.
5. www.ssafe-food.org/.
6. www.coso.org/.
7. www.coso.org/ermupdate.html.
8. Spink, J, DC Moyer and C Speier-Pero. 2016. “Introducing the Food Fraud Initial Screening Model (FFIS).” Food Cont 69:306–314.
9. iufost.org/iufost-scientific-information-bulletins-sib.
10. www.foodfraud.msu.edu/resources/events/.

Whole Foods, other stores pull squash noodles for Listeria
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/02/whole-foods-other-stores-pull-squash-noodles-for-listeria/#.WKpDPPmLSUl
BY NEWS DESK (Feb 16, 2017)
Veggie Noodle Co. of Austin, Texas is voluntarily recalling its Butternut Spirals because of possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.
The freshcut vegetable company distributed the spiral cut butternut squash to Whole Foods Markets and other retailers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin.
“The potential contamination of the Butternut Spirals was found as a result of routine product testing, according to the recall notice posted Wednesday on the Food and Drug Administration’s website. “There are no reported illnesses associated with this recall to date.”
However, it can take up to 70 days after exposure for symptoms of Listeria infection to develop. Anyone who has consumed any of the recalled product should monitor themselves for symptoms. If they become sick, they should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to the bacteria.
Symptoms can include high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Otherwise healthy people can recover with little impact, but children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems can develop serious infections that sometimes result in death.
“Consumers who have purchased the recalled Veggie Noodle Co. Butternut Spirals are urged not to consume it, and either discard the product or return it to the store where it was purchased for a full refund.”
To determine whether they have the recalled product in their homes, consumers should look for the following codes on the 10.7-ounce clear plastic containers of spiral-cut butternut squash:
UPC number 852287006059; and
“Enjoy By” date of February 23, 2017, located on the side of the packaging.

Outbreaks Linked to Imported Foods Are Increasing
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/outbreaks-linked-to-imported-foods-are-increasing/
By News Desk (Feb 16, 2017)
A study published in the March edition of the CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases reveals that more Americans are being sickened by imported food. The study’s authors state that “a small but increasing number of foodborne disease outbreaks [are] associated with imported foods, most commonly fish and produce. New outbreak investigation tools and federal regulatory authority are key to maintaining food safety.”
About 19% of the food we eat in this country is imported. About 97% of the fish and shellfish we consume, 50% of fresh fruits, and 20% of fresh vegetables come from other countries. This proportion has steadily increased over the past 20 years because consumers want to eat produce out of season and want a wider selection of products.
A food poisoning outbreak is two or more unrelated people with a similar illness from eating a common food. The study’s authors reviewed reports to identify outbreaks associated with imported foods from 1973 to 2014. Up until 1997, this information was reported anecdotally.
During 1996 – 2014, 195 outbreak investigations implicated an imported food. These outbreaks caused 10,685 illnesses, 1017 hospitalizations, and 19 deaths. The number of outbreaks associated with an imported food increased from an average of 3 per year during 1996 – 2000 to an average of 18 per year during 2009 – 2014.
The most common agents in these outbreaks were Salmonella and scombroid toxin (a compound produced by degrading fish such as tuna, mackerel, mahi-mahi, and bluefish). Most illnesses were associated with Salmonella and Cyclospora.
Fish and shellfish caused 55% of outbreaks, and 11% of outbreak-associated illnesses. Produce caused 33% of outbreaks and 84% of outbreak-associated illnesses. Outbreaks attributed to produce had a median of 40 illnesses, compared with a median of 3 illnesses in outbreaks associated with fish.
These foods were imported from Latin America and the Caribbean in most of the outbreaks. Mexico was most frequently implicated, along with Indonesia and Canada. One quarter of the outbreaks were multistate, which reflects the wide distribution of imported foods.  The researchers stated, ” Mexico is the source of about one quarter of the total value of fruit and nut imports and 45%–50% of vegetable imports, followed by Chile and Costa Rica. Similarly, our finding that many outbreaks were associated with fish from Asia is consistent with data on the sources of fish imports.”
Almost all of these foods linked to or associated with outbreaks are under FDA jurisdiction, but only a tiny percentage of these foods are actually inspected by government officials when they enter the U.S. The researchers state that “new rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011, including the Preventive Controls Rule for Human Food, Produce Safety Rule, Foreign Supplier Verification Program, and Accreditation of Third Party Auditors, will help to strengthen the safety of imported foods by granting FDA enhanced authorities to require that imported foods meet the same safety standards as foods produced domestically.”
The researchers end by stating the prevention, focusing on the imported foods that cause the most outbreaks, produce and seafood, could help prevent future outbreaks. Strengthening reporting by gathering better data on the original of implicated food items could also help.
Resource: Gould L, Kline J, Monahan C, Vierk K. Outbreaks of Disease Associated with Food Imported into the United States, 1996–2014. Emerg Infect Dis. 2017;23(3):525-528.

Imported food sickens more Americans than ever
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/02/imported-food-sickens-more-americans-than-ever/#.WKpD9PmLSUl
By NEWS DESK (Feb 16, 2017)
World in shopping cartIncreasing demand in the U.S. for year-round access to all foods means more foreign food in grocery stores and that means more foodborne illness outbreaks from imported food.
Writing for the March edition of Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four researchers take a deep dive into outbreak trends involving imported foods.
In “Outbreaks of Disease Associated with Food Imported into the United States, 1996-2014,” the four report there’s “a small but increasing number of foodborne disease outbreaks associated with imported foods, most commonly fish and produce.”
The researchers — the CDC’s L. Hannah Gould (now with the NYC health department) and Jennifer Kline, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Caitlin Monahan and Katherine Vierk — report 19 percent of food consumed by Americans is now imported. This includes 97 percent of fish and shell fish; 50 percent of fresh fruits; and 20 percent of fresh vegetables.
“The proportion of food that is imported has increased steadily over the past 20 years because of changing consumer demand for a wider selection of food products and increasing demand for produce items year round,” wrote the researchers.
Number of outbreaks caused by imported foods and total number of outbreaks with a food reported, United States, 1996–2014. Reporting practices changed over time; 1973–1997, imported foods anecdotally noted in report comments; 1998–2008, “contaminated food imported into U.S.” included as a location where food was prepared; 2009–2014, reporting jurisdictions could indicate whether each food is imported (yes/no) and the country of origin.
Number of outbreaks caused by imported foods and total number of outbreaks with a food reported, United States, 1996–2014. Reporting practices changed over time; 1973–1997, imported foods anecdotally noted in report comments; 1998–2008, “contaminated food imported into U.S.” included as a location where food was prepared; 2009–2014, reporting jurisdictions could indicate whether each food is imported (yes/no) and the country of origin.
They found the reported number of outbreaks associated with imported foods remains small, but has increased as both an absolute number and in proportion to the total number of outbreaks where the implicated food was identified and reported. And while multiple imported foods are associated with outbreaks, the most likely suspects when imported food is involved are fish and produce.
Many outbreaks, especially those involving produce, are traced back to Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Mexico is the source of one quarter of the total value of fruit and nut imports, and 45 to 50 percent of the vegetable imports, and is trailed by Chile and Costa Rica. The researchers also found that fish outbreaks are most commonly associated with Asia.
All total, where imported food was implicated, there were 195 outbreak investigations in the U.S. during the study period with 10,685 illnesses including 1,017 hospitalizations and 19 deaths. The pace is quickening, however, with just three import-related outbreaks occurring from 1996 to 2000 and 18 per year on average from 2009 to 2014
“The most common agents reported in outbreaks associated with imported foods with scombroid toxin and Salmonella and Cyclospora.
Almost all the outbreaks involving imported food fall under the jurisdiction of FDA. The researchers predict enforcement of the Food Safety Modernization Act’s rules for preventive controls, foreign supplier verification and third-party auditing will help strengthen the safety of imported foods by requiring they meet domestic food standards.

How the history of food safety shapes today's rules
Source : http://www.foodengineeringmag.com/articles/96505-how-the-history-of-food-safety-shapes-todays-rules
By Richard F. Stier (Feb 15, 2017)
A commitment to food safety certainly is not new. In fact, it was just this that led to the development of HACCP (Hazard Analysis, Critical Control Points) back in 1959. The scientists from the National Aeronautical and Space Agency (NASA), the Natick Army Laboratories and Pillsbury put their heads together to create a risk-based system to ensure food safety that became HACCP.
NASA, under the leadership of Dr. Paul LaChance, mandated that its contractors identify “critical failure areas” and eliminate them from the system. It also mandated that foods for the space program be pathogen free.
To ensure that these foods were safe, extensive testing was done, so much so that there was little product left. There had to be a better way, and HACCP was the answer. The processors identified significant microbiological hazards and established procedures to control the identified hazards.
These three groups established that finished testing was not the way to ensure the production of safe foods. The way to do so was to manage and control the processes, in other words, be proactive.
Pillsbury thought enough of the system that it adopted it company-wide and even became trainers for representatives of the Food and Drug Administration back in 1973.
HACCP received a big boost in 1985 in a report issued by the National Academy of Sciences entitled “An Evaluation of the Role of Microbiological Criteria for Foods and Ingredients.” The report stated that HACCP “provides a more specific and critical approach to the control of microbiological hazards than that achievable by traditional inspection and quality control procedures.”
The report also concluded that “testing of finished products was not an effective means of protecting the consumer and assuring the foods were free of microorganisms of public health significance,” a conclusion which some individuals and organizations still seem to be ignoring. Ironically, these conclusions were the same reached by the scientists from Natick, Pillsbury and NASA 25 years before.
The committee that developed this report remained in place and was renamed the National Advisory Committee for Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF). This committee first published basic principles for HACCP in 1989—principles that were revised in 1992 and 1997. The seven principles published in 1997 harmonized the NACMCF and the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene, which meant that the world agreed not only on the seven basic principles of HACCP, but the five preliminary steps.
HACCP expands throughout the world
From the mid-1980s with the publication of the National Academy of Sciences report, food processors began to adopt HACCP in earnest around the world. This was driven in part by regulations and through business pressures. The European Union mandated the program for all food processors to be completed by 2006. The United States established HACCP regulations for seafood in 1995, meat and poultry in 1996 and juice in 2001. The enactment of the seafood HACCP regulation had far-reaching consequences for HACCP as a system. By including the concept of prerequisite programs for HACCP in the regulation and implying that certain hazards could be controlled using these programs, the groundwork was set for ISO 22000 and the Preventive Controls Regulations.
But what really must be acknowledged is that a significant part of HACCP growth, especially in the US, was not driven by regulatory considerations, but by economics. Large processors, grocery chains and fast food/restaurant operations simply told their suppliers that food safety was now an essential element in the purchasing equation; no HACCP or food safety plan, no business for you.
The food industry had been utilizing third-party audit firms for years, but it was during this same period that the old GMP or sanitation audit morphed into the HACCP audit, an industry and its associated protocols that are still changing today.
It was also during this window that the US FDA showed that it supported the adoption of HACCP. This occurred even before the seafood and juice HACCP regulations were enacted. We can go back to 1971 with the adoption of the Low Acid Canned Food Regulations found in 21 CFR Part 113. These are an HACCP-based approach to addressing a specific food hazard: Clostridium botulinum. The proactive approach offered through HACCP was lauded by many experts.
“Our safety systems should be preventing problems rather than chasing the horses after they are out of the barn,” says former FDA Commissioner David Kessler. “HACCP is a system that will make that possible.”
In a 1990 publication, Dr. Fred Shank emphasized industry commitment and manufacturers’ knowledge of their own systems in building food safety programs.
“HACCP utilizes the manufacturer’s in-depth knowledge about his product and processing system,” he wrote. He then explained how such systems could be viewed by the FDA, which is similar to today’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). “Instead of relying on traditional inspections, our role in HACCP will be to review system parameters and operating procedures, to provide selective auditing of the system’s records, including verification by laboratory analysis, and provide for appropriate enforcement.”
This shows the FDA has long advocated HACCP as a proactive system for ensuring food safety and not “reactive” in nature as many have characterized HACCP to be.
The enactment of FSMA and supporting regulations
FSMA is an act of Congress and a law that requires regulations to ensure proper enforcement. Regulators thought the country could do better when it came to food safety, a perception reinforced by a number of incidents in the 1990s and early 2000s: Jack-in-the Box in 1993; Odwalla in 1996, which helped spawn the meat and poultry and juice HACCP regulations; melamine in imported dairy ingredients; and major outbreaks associated with peanuts and peanut butter in 2007 and 2009.
The 2009 peanut butter outbreak associated with the Peanut Corporation of America was a classic example of what not to do when it comes to protecting the public health. The end result was more than 700 illnesses, a few deaths and more than 400 other recalls. The company no longer exists, and company officers are serving prison time.
Now we have FSMA and Preventive Controls for the industry and for anyone shipping to the US. For now, very small companies might not have to comply with the regulations, but if their customers demand that they do so, they had better do it or risk survival.
The Foundational Rules for FSMA have been developed in the five years since the act was signed into law (see FSMA Foundational Rules). Addressing all of these issues is beyond the scope of this piece, but one issue that created a great deal of confusion was the utilization of the term Hazard Analysis, Risk-Based Preventive Controls (HARPC). After almost five years of waiting, the Preventive Controls Regulations found in 21 CFR Part 117 do not even mention the term HARPC nor does the class for Preventive Controls Qualified Individuals (PCQI).
However, let’s look at different elements that make up the preventive controls regulation and determine how easy or difficult compliance might be.
Determining potential hazards (hazard analysis)
Determining potential hazards is the first step in the preventive controls process and is defined in 21 CFR Part 135. Is this really different from what food processors have been doing in the past? Yes and no. The regulation states, “The hazard analysis must include an evaluation of the hazards identified in paragraph (b) of this section to assess the severity of the illness or injury if the hazard were to occur and the probability that the hazard will occur in the absence of preventive controls.”
The regulation calls for operators to identify potential hazards and then determine the severity of each hazard and the likelihood of occurrence. This has not been specifically mandated in past HACCP regulations in the US, but it is not new. It has been an expectation in many of the different HACCP audits, the GFSI or Global Food Safety Initiative audit schemes and ISO 22000.
“Determining the hazards is more of witchcraft than it is a science,” says Cliff Coles of Clifford M. Coles Food Safety Consulting, Inc. “It requires an intimate knowledge of the product, the process, the history of the issues and perhaps even consumer complaints. It calls upon everyone in the organization to contribute to the ‘what if’ and ‘what is’ scenario. For those who have relied on third-party laboratories for the sense of security, now becomes the time to truly test the systems that are in place. Identifying the hazards is not a mere paper exercise; it requires hands-on, in-depth thinking and investigations.”
Many large companies have developed schemes to evaluate potential risks using likelihood of occurrence vs. severity of risk. This will obviously be a greater challenge to the smaller companies. But, if a small operator has developed, implemented and is maintaining a functioning food safety program, this next step should not be such a challenge, especially if it has been audited by a third party that has diligently evaluated its HACCP plan and associated hazard analyses. However, this is a common gap.
“The hazard analysis should be well documented and the related corrective actions be detailed enough that the processor can defend what they have done to auditors, regulators and clients,” Coles says. “The Hazard Analysis Worksheet that is used industry-wide is a nice tool, but really does not provide the depth necessary for a good program.”
He warns the Hazard Analysis Worksheet should be a document that is constantly reviewed and updated to accommodate any changes in the production line or facility. The FDA has issued warning letters to low-acid “healthy” juice manufacturers that relied only on high-pressure processing (HPP) and refrigeration as their preservation methods.
“First, the risk is with Clostridium botulinum, not so much with the non-spore forming pathogens. HPP is not a sporicidal process. Secondly, the processor has no control over how long a single-serve juice drink…will be kept out of refrigeration and what role that time lag can play in the growth of C. botulinum,” he explains. “By not determining the proper risks, FDA put a number of manufacturers in this category on notice. The same is happening with IQF vegetable manufacturers that believe that the blanch process is not a kill step. As evidenced by recent FDA recalls, the sentiment is that if you blanch, you had better do a good enough job to eliminate the pathogens and eliminate the reintroduction of the pathogen post-blanch. If a product is peroxidase enzyme negative as a result of the blanch process, it had better be pathogen free also.”
Verification of process preventive controls
In 117.160, the regulation states processors must validate the preventive controls put in place are “adequate to control the hazard as appropriate to the nature of the preventive control and its role in the facility’s food safety system.” The regulation then states that sanitation and allergen preventive controls need not be validated, so it is mandatory that all process preventive controls be properly validated. This means that any process employed by a processor to control a microorganism of public health significance must be properly validated, that is, shown to effectively control the identified hazard.
The low-acid canned food regulations specifically state that processes must be developed by a “competent processing authority to achieve commercial sterility.”
Perhaps the best example of this in the United States food industry today is the program developed by the Almond Board of California (ABC). In response to outbreaks of Salmonella associated with raw almonds in 2001 and 2004, the ABC has implemented programs to ensure that all almonds produced in California are properly processed.
“After the first outbreak, ABC initiated an industry survey to assess prevalence [levels and concentration] of Salmonella bacteria in raw almonds coming from the orchard,” says Tim Birmingham, technical director for the Almond Board of California. “In addition, ABC embarked on an industry-wide food safety program, starting with Good Agricultural Practices in the orchard. However, ABC recognized that GAPs, although necessary, were only a mitigation strategy and could not be relied upon alone to ensure safety.”
ABC determined to ensure food safety, controls needed to be implemented to eliminate the threat. These included a risk assessment on almonds, establishing resistance data for the target pathogen, determining a non-pathogenic surrogate, selecting competent process authorities to ensure all processes for almonds are properly validated and then reviewing said validation data using an expert panel.
“The Almond Board of California Technical Expert Review Panel [TERP]—consisting of food microbiologists, engineers and ex-regulatory personnel—review validations and make a determination as to whether or not the process and equipment are able to deliver a minimum 4-log reduction of Salmonella bacteria on almonds,” he says. “In addition to initial validation and TERP acceptance, ongoing auditing is conducted to ensure equipment is operating within the critical limits accepted by ABC TERP.”
Guidance documents, including good agriculture practices, sanitation, good manufacturing practices, pathogen environmental monitoring and others, are available to the ABC’s members on its website as well as in other forms.
Preventive controls for allergens and sanitation
The Preventive Controls regulation specifically states that preventive controls need to be established for allergens and for sanitation if potential risks are identified during the hazard analysis step. However, the controls for these elements need not be validated. This is contrary to the expectations in the GFSI audit schemes and in the ISO 22000 standard.
“Manufacturers of all foods and beverages need to employ comprehensive microbiological environmental monitoring programs in their facilities where food and beverages are being produced,” says Dr. Eddy Richter, Richter International. “These programs provide essential data to support [verify] that food and beverages are being produced in a wholesome and sanitary manner. Recent FDA warning letters [ice cream] and voluntary recalls [hummus] were a direct result of hazardous pathogens being discovered in the environment of food manufacturing facilities, not in finished product. Large retail customers as well as the federal government will no longer tolerate our nation’s food supply being produced in less than sanitary factories.”
The concept is an essential element of the seafood HACCP regulation, a concept that streamlined HACCP plan development and reduced the number of critical control points significantly. Prior to the enactment of the seafood HACCP regulation, HACCP plans often had 10, 15 or more critical control points. This number was reduced to between one and three in most cases.
Dr. John Surak, with Surak and Associates, further emphasizes that the centerpiece of the regulations is the food safety plan. He says the FDA requires the written Food Safety Plan to have the following:
Hazard analysis
Preventive controls
Monitoring
Corrective actions
Verification including validation
Associated records
“Preventive controls are developed from the hazard analysis and should address the identified food hazards,” he says. “The preventive controls are to be specific to the site, process and product.” Preventive controls, as dictated by the regulations, need to be established for the following:
Process preventive controls, including critical control points
Food allergen preventive controls, mandatory under specific circumstances
Sanitation preventive controls, mandatory under specific circumstances
Supply chain preventive controls, mandatory under specific circumstances
Surak, who served as the leader of the US delegation to the ISO committee that developed the ISO 22000 food safety standard, says the FDA approach is very similar to the ISO 22000 approach. In ISO 22000, the hazard analysis is used to develop a control strategy. In addition, the hazard analysis under ISO 22000 leads to the development of a control strategy, which is documented in either the HACCP plan or in the Operational Prerequisite program (OPRP). So, the CCPs in the ISO HACCP plan are the Process Preventive Controls under FSMA, whereas the OPRPs are equivalent to the food allergen preventive controls, allergen preventive controls and supply preventive controls.
PCQI training
The preventive controls qualified individual (PCQI) is defined in the regulations as “a qualified individual who has successfully completed training in the development and application of risk-based preventive controls at least equivalent to that received under a standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by FDA or is otherwise qualified through job experience to develop and apply a food safety system.”
“The Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance [FSPCA] has developed the ‘standardized curriculum’ recognized by FDA to receive this training,” says Jenifer Kane of the International Food Protection Training Institute (IFPTI). “The program is based on collaboration among federal and state regulatory officials, academic food safety researchers and educators and US food industry representatives.”
The regulation requires every processing facility to have a trained resource person or PCQI who has completed specialized training. Kane says responsibilities of the PCQI include:
Preparation of the food safety plan
Validation of the preventive controls
Records review and
Reanalysis of the food safety plan.
Foreign supplier/supplier verification
Based on the hazard analysis, if a company is using ingredients or materials that are deemed potential risks, and there is no step to properly control said hazard, it must have a supplier verification program. This applies to not only products that are prepared, blended and assembled, but also things like salty snacks, such as potato chips, which are deemed a safe product by most, but the seasonings on the chips could be contaminated. (There was a major outbreak of Salmonellosis in Europe in 1995 attributed to potato chips seasoned with contaminated paprika.)
This rule may well be the most complex of all the requirements, especially for small companies, which might not have the resources to properly develop, document, implement and maintain such programs. Processors, might have to turn to outside groups to properly evaluate and maintain their suppliers and the ingredients that they supply. This program may include initial evaluations of materials plus ongoing verification of materials deemed hazardous and, therefore, subject to preventive controls.
Les Vaccarello, a consultant to the date industry, says the industry is doing a lot more to be in compliance.
“We felt that dates were safe and wholesome products. However, due to a combination of market pressures and the enactment of FSMA, the industry has changed,” he says. “Processors are moving forward to adopt the Global Food Safety Initiative [GFSI] audit schemes, the most popular being SQF and BRC at the moment.”
Additionally, the California Date Administration Committee/California Date Commission (CDAC/CDC) funded a study that clearly demonstrated certain varieties of dates not only did not support the growth of Salmonella, but were lethal to the pathogen. A similar study using date paste has shown similar results.
“We feel that the steps that the industry has taken have put us in a position where we can clearly show that our primary products, dates and date paste, are safe. And since these products are eaten and used in many cases without further processing [cold pressed bars], we can comply with the Supplier Verification provisions of the Preventive Controls regulation,” says Vaccarello.
This, as well as the example from the ABC, demonstrates that when industries come together, the potential for ensuring food safety becomes higher and, in the long run, less expensive for the industry in question.
The big question
Perhaps the biggest question in the minds of many food processors in the US and around the world is “How will this be enforced?” For guidance, the industry can look to how FDA has inspected regulated industries, such as seafood and juice. Insight can be gleaned from the guidance documents developed for those two industries. Also, processors should work closely with trade associations for insights into industry issues.
However, the industry will not know until investigations begin, so for now, the best advice is to read the regulations carefully and be ready to explain all programs and produce the necessary documentation to defend your position.
References:
International Organisation for Standardization, (2005), ISO 22000: Food safety Management systems — Requirements for any organization in the food chain, ISO, Geneva, Switzerland.
Shank, F.R., 1990, "The Safety of the Food Supply in the Nineties," J.Assoc.Food & Drug Officials, 54:4, 33.
Sperber, W.H. and Stier, R.F., (2009 – 2010), “Happy 50th Birthday to HACCP,” Food Safety Magazine, 15:6, 42 – 46, December – January.
United States Food & Drug Administration, 1989, Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 113 & 114, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.
USFDA, Dept. of Health and Human Services, (1994), “Food and Safety Assurance Program; Development of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points,” Proposed Rule, Federal Register, Vol.59:149,39888-39896, August 4.
United States Food & Drug Administration, (1995), “Procedures for the Safe and Sanitary Processing and Importing of Fish and Fishery Products,” Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21 Parts 123 & 1240, December 18.
United States Food & Drug Administration, (2001), “Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point: The Safe and Sanitary Processing and Importing of Juice,” Code of Federal Regulations, 21 CFR Part 120, Federal Register Vol: 66:13, 6137 - 6202.
United States Food & Drug Administration, (2015), Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 117, “Current Good Manufacturing Practice Hazard Analysis and Risk Based Preventive Controls for Human Food,” U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.
References:
Clifford Coles, Clifford M. Coles Food Safety Consulting, Inc.,
cmlkcoles@gmail.com
John Surak, Surak and Associates,
jgsurak@yahoo.com
Jenifer Kane, IFPTI,
jenifer.kane@ifpti.org
Edward Richter, Richter International,
erichter@richterinternational.com
Tim Birmingham, Almond Board of California,
tbirmingham@almondboard.com
Les Vaccarello, Consultant to the Date Industry,
lvace71a@aol.com

Supplier’s Listeria Problems Affect Cheeses by Sargento, Sara Lee, Meijer
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/news/suppliere28099s-listeria-problems-affect-cheeses-by-sargento-sara-lee-meijer/
By foodsafetymagazine.com (Feb 14, 2017)
The third party supplier at the helm of the massive recall--Deutsch Kase Haus of Middlebury, IN--is no stranger to Listeria contamination. In the fall of 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reportedly conducted environmental testing in which three out of 25 swabs tested positive for the presence of Listeria monocytogenes.
Just over 7 years later, a number of recalls have been announced after cheesemakers learned that the Deutsch’s Longhorn Colby cheese they received may have been contaminated with Listeria.
Sargento
Sargento is one of most well-known cheese makers in the U.S. In all, the company has recalled seven different cheese varieties all packaged at Sargento’s Plymouth, WI processing plant. Sargento’s cheese products affected include a variety of the brands sliced and shredded Colby, Colby Jack, Pepper Jack, nacho and taco selections.
Sara Lee
More than 730 cases of Sara Lee’s cheeses--which had already been shipped to Alabama, California, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Texas--have been recalled. Two of Sara Lee’s sliced varieties--Colby Jack and Monterey Jack with jalapeno peppers--were also recalled.
Meijer
The regional supermarket chain’s white labeled Colby and Colby Jack cheeses--sold exclusively via the stores’ deli counters--have also been impacted by ingredients from Deutsch Kase Haus. Meijer says their affected products were sold between November 10, 2016 and February 9, 2017.
MDS Foods
The Massillon, OH-based cheese manufacturer had to recall its Colby and Colby Jack minihorn cheeses due to Deutsch’s Listeria contamination. MDS’s products were sold under the Amish Classics, Deli Readi, Deli Made EZ, Lipari Old Tyme, Duck Deli and Meijer brands.
To date, there have been no confirmed illnesses linked to any of the cheese recalls.

Keep the love alive …
... and the pathogens dead; be safe with Valentine's Day oysters
BY COOKSON BEECHER (Feb 13, 2017)
illustration Valentine dinnerOysters and champagne. Love is in the air. It must be Valentine’s Day.
Yes, indeed, oysters have long been associated with romance — the perfect aphrodisiac.
There’s actually some science to back that up, although it’s about the way rats, not humans, responded to oysters in a 2005 study done by a team of Italian and American researchers. The results were so astounding that when they were made public, it was headline news.
According to, “Are oysters really aphrodisiacs or just a Valentine’s Day marketing ploy?” researchers found that oysters and other bivalves, such as clams and mussels, contain rare amino acids that are not commonly found in nature.
These two amino acids — D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate — play a part in the synthesizing of hormones.
Turns out that D-aspartic acid temporarily increases testosterone levels and improves sperm motility. In addition, the second amino acid can increase neural excitably.
When the scientists injected rats (nope, it wasn’t on Valentine’s Day) with these amino acids, the males experienced an increase in testosterone production. And in a fitting partnership for romance, the female rats increased production of progesterone. Both of these hormones increase libido.
And though the results of the tests looked promising, some scientists pointed out that the animal studies might not pertain to humans, which to them meant that it’s difficult to conclude that oysters and bivalves boost sexual desire in humans.
Even so, many oyster lovers smile knowingly at the truth of it. After all, if people associate oysters with “love,” who’s to say that that isn’t an aphrodisiac in its own right.
Oh, so healthy
Another plus in oysters’ favor is how high they are on the nutritional scale. They’re low in saturated fats aka “bad fats,” and high in “good fats” such as omega-3 fatty acids.
And speaking of hearts, as we often do on Valentine’s Day, when oysters are eaten in moderation, they can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. (“All the better to love you, my dear.”)
The list goes on. Oysters provide a lot of vitamins and minerals — iron, zinc, copper and vitamin B-12. As for iron, 100 grams of shellfish contains about 7 mg of iron, compared to only 2.6 mg in the same amount of beef or lamb.
And getting back to the role oysters can play as an aphrodisiac, zinc promotes sperm production — 100 grams of oysters has about 80 mg of zinc compared to 8 mg in the same amount of beef.
And if your true love is the environment, it’s good to know that an adult oyster is capable of filtering 25-50 gallons of water a day. With filtered water, comes more seagrass, which is a feeding and breeding ground for other species such as rockfish and crabs.
Oh, and besides all of that, oysters are just plain delicious (at least in this reporter’s opinion). Many people wouldn’t think of going without them when celebrating holidays like New Year’s Eve, Cinco de Mayo, Fourth of July, and, of course, Valentine’s Day.
Keeping it safe
But before popping the champagne cork, make sure the oysters you’ll be serving, or dining on, won’t send you and your valentine to the emergency room — dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea doesn’t make for anyone’s version of a romantic time.
Other symptoms of food poisoning can include stomach cramps, muscle aches and fatigue. People experiencing severe symptoms, which can start as early as 12 hours after eating oysters, should contact their doctor.
Raw or cooked?
That’s an important question since raw oysters can be contaminated with a variety of foodborne pathogens such as E. coli, norovirus and Vibrio vulnificus to name a few. The Vibrio bacteria, which is generally found in the warmer Gulf Coast waters during the summer, can be life-threatening, even fatal, when eaten by someone with liver disease, diabetes or a weakened immune system, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
On the West Coast, warm temperatures during the summer can trigger Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a bacteria found naturally in the environment. When midday low tides coincide with warm weather, the bacteria can grow quickly, raising the risk of vibriosis illness among people who eat raw or undercooked oysters.
FDA oyster myth busters
MYTH: Eating raw oysters are safe if you drown them in hot sauce, which kills everything.
Fact: The active ingredients in hot sauce have no more effect on harmful bacteria than plain water. Nothing but prolonged exposure to heat at a high enough temperature will kill bacteria.
MYTH: Alcohol kills harmful bacteria.
Fact: Alcohol may kill your good judgment, but it doesn’t destroy harmful bacteria in the food you eat while drinking it.
MYTH: Raw oysters are an aphrodisiac and will cure a hangover.
Fact: There is no scientific evidence that either of these commonly held beliefs is true.
MYTH: Avoid oysters from polluted waters and you’ll be fine.
Fact: Vibrio vulnificus in oysters has nothing to do with pollution. Rather these bacteria thrive naturally in warm coastal areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico, where oysters live.
MYTH: An experienced oyster lover can tell a good oyster from a bad one.
Fact: Vibrio vulnificus can’t be seen, smelled, or even tasted. Don’t rely on your senses to determine if an oyster is safe — or any other food is free of bacteria or other pathogens.
MYTH: Just a few oysters can’t hurt you.
Fact: Roberta Hammond, the Food and Waterborne Disease Coordinator for Florida, cites a case where a fatality caused by Vibrio vulnificus occurred after the victim ate only three oysters. The seriousness of any case depends on many factors, including how much bacteria is ingested and the person’s underlying health conditions.
MYTH: Avoid raw oysters in months without the letter “R” and you’ll be safe.
Fact: While presence of Vibrio vulnificus bacteria is higher in warmer months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a full 40 percent of Vibrio infections occur during colder months from September through April.
Selecting your oysters
Whether your choice is raw or cooked oysters, here are some tips from the FDA about how to select them.
Look for the label: Look for tags on sacks or containers of live shellfish still in the shell and labels on containers or packages of shucked shellfish. These tags and labels contain specific information about the product, including the processor’s certification number.  While some oysters are harvested and processed in accordance with national shellfish safety controls, that information may or may not be on the label. If sellers don’t have any tags to show you, don’t buy their oysters.
Discard cracked/broken ones: Throw away oysters, clams and mussels if their shells are cracked or broken.
Do a Tap Test: Live oysters, clams and mussels will close up when their shells are tapped. If they don’t close when tapped, do not select them.
Storing oysters
Always keep oysters, and other shellfish, cold before cooking or serving them. That’s important because foodborne pathogens reproduce quickly in warm temperatures, and even more quickly once they’re in your system.
With that in mind, put oysters on ice or in the refrigerator soon after buying them. If you’re going to transport the oysters in a picnic cooler, be sure to wash it with hot soapy water before putting the ice and oysters into it — and again before using it for anything else.
Never leave oysters, or other perishable food, out of the refrigerator for more than two hours, or for more than one hour when temperatures are above 90 degrees F.
Cooking oysters
Even though raw oysters on the half shell are extremely popular, many health officials warn that no matter how many safeguards producers follow, there’s no way to assure buyers that the raw oysters are safe to eat. Only heat can do that.
For that reason, they recommend that oysters be cooked, and that means cooked all the way through to a temperature of 194 degrees F for a minimum of 90 seconds. But since poking a thermometer into a batch of oysters isn’t always all that practical, they offer these tips
If you put the unshucked oysters into a pot of boiling water, keep cooking them another three to four minutes after the shells open. Discard any that don’t open;
If you’re cooking shucked oysters, boil or simmer them for at least three minutes, or until the edges curl;
Fry shucked oysters at 375 degrees for at least three minutes;
Broil shucked oysters 3 inches away from the heat for three minutes;
Bake shucked oysters at 450 degrees for 10 minutes; and
Barbecuing oysters just until they open will not kill vibrio bacteria, so keep them on the grill for several more minutes after they open.
Shucked oysters should keep in the refrigerator for up to two days and in a freezer for up to three months.
Here’s to safe eating
Don’t forget proper food handling techniques.
The following suggestions from the Washington State Department of Health will help you handle and prepare shellfish and other seafood safely.
Before starting food preparation, be sure that the preparation area and all surfaces, utensils, pots, containers, and serving dishes are clean.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before preparing food or working with new foods or utensils and after finishing food preparation, handling raw meat or poultry, using the bathroom, changing diapers, petting animals, coughing or sneezing into your hands, blowing your nose, smoking, eating or taking out the garbage.
Don’t let juices from raw seafood, meat or poultry come into contact with each other or with other foods, especially cooked or ready-to-eat ones like lettuce, fresh fruits, or lunch meats.
Wash cutting boards, utensils, counters, sinks, and hands with hot, soapy water after preparing raw seafood, meat, or poultry
Keep your fingernails clean, and use clean dishwashing cloths and towels. Better yet, use disposable materials like paper towels for cleaning, and don’t reuse them.
Use plastic cutting boards instead of wooden ones, which are porous and more difficult to keep clean. Replace plastic boards with deep cuts in which bacteria can accumulate.
Don’t taste seafood, meat, poultry, or eggs when they are raw or during cooking.
Serve cooked shellfish on a clean plate, never the same, unwashed plate that was used to hold raw product.
Ah, shucks — how do you get those shells open?
Click here to watch a short video about how to shuck oysters like a pro.

For grocery store rotisserie chicken, there's a food safety 'danger zone'
Source : http://www.foxla.com/news/local-news/234902746-story
By Bob DeCastro, Kelly Taylor (Feb 09, 2017)
Rotisserie chickens at the grocery store, seasoned and cooked to juicy perfection, can make for a quick and easy meal. However, they can also be recipes for danger and make you really sick.
According to food safety consultant Jeff Nelken, there’s a pecking order when it comes to rotisserie chicken.
“Go for the ones that are hotter as opposed to the ones that are cooler, because you know this one has been receiving adequate temperature,” Nelken said. “And usually they’ll even have a dot that tells you how long that chicken has been there.”
Most importantly -- be sure the chicken is actually hot
“When you are touching it, it should be very warm to the touch, and it should be fully making contact with a heating environment so you know that it has been properly connecting to the surface,” he added.
Bacteria grows at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature of your chicken drops below 140 -- it's in a “danger zone” and the bird could be unsafe to eat after just four hours.
FOX 11 went to one Southern California grocery store and found thermometers were not even working on the heated display. Employees told us the chicken had been sitting out for three hours and they insisted the heat lamps made them safe to eat, despite there being no way to tell whether the chicken was maintained at the proper temperature.
Our producer: “Is that hot enough for these?”
Store employee: “Yes it is. What the book says.”
Producer: “I just don’t want the people who I’m serving this to get sick. That’s why I’m asking.”
Employee: “We have to go by what the book says.”
A store manager eventually told us they test the temperature every hour. When he learned the thermometers weren’t working, he said he would have them replaced.
Keeping the rotisserie chicken at a safe, hot temperature is key. Here are some other tips:
-Make sure your rotisserie chicken is the last item on your grocery list.
-Bring the chicken straight home.
-Eat it or refrigerate it within two hours, or within one hour on hot days.
-If you do choose to refrigerate the rotisserie chicken, remove the meat first so that it can cool down to a temperature below a safe 40 degrees more quickly.
“You don't want you driving around for two hours with the chicken in your car not having adequate temperature maintenance, so that we don’t a chance of bacteria growing in that situation,” Nelken said.
He added, “if you’re going to not use it in two to three days, you certainly could start putting it in the freezer but you have to use the proper cooling down process and then packaging it correctly so that you don’t end up with freezer burn.”
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