FoodHACCP Newsletter

Food Safety Job Openings

02/24. Food Safety & QA Mgr – Milford, IA
02/24. Senior Qual Mgr, Food Safety – Clark, NJ
02/24. Director of QA & Food Safety - Carver, MA
02/22. Supv FSQA – Carthage, TX
02/22. FSQA Technician - Alsip, IL
02/22. Food Safety Specialist – Charlotte, NC
02/20. Program Mgr, FS & Compliance – Seattle, WA
02/20. Food Safety Representative - Colorado
02/20. Food Safety Division Manager – Chicago, IL

02/27 2017 ISSUE:745

Beach Beat: Carnac the Magnificent tells all about Salmonella
Source :
BY CORAL BEACH (Feb 26, 2017)
And now, Carnac the Magnificent will use his mystical powers to answer the riddle before hearing it: “An Aztec warrior, a couple of eggheads from Cornell and a middle schooler from Utah.”
The question in the envelope has, of course, been hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnalls’ porch since noon today.
As usual, the great seer, soothsayer and sage has ascertained the correct answer. The riddle this time: “Describe an ancient Mexican, two nerds and a modern teenager who had/have close, personal relationships with Salmonella.”
Johnny Carson’s alter ego came to mind in recent days as I pondered the awesome power of the pathogen and the headlines it’s been generating. Carson and the writers for NBC’s “The Tonight Show” could take seemingly unrelated details from such news and weave witty bits of repartee for Carnac and Ed McMahon, culminating with the wacky answer that made perfect sense when Johnny finally opened the envelope.
There’s no way to reach that level of humor in this column. Salmonella is serious stuff and I’m just not that clever. But the Aztecs, food safety researchers at Cornell University and a 15-year-old kid in Utah really do share a Salmonella connection.
Ancient DNA tells tales
A team of researchers from academic institutions in the U.S., Germany, Switzerland and Mexico is advancing the theory that Salmonella is the source of the epidemic that wiped out the Aztec civilization in the 1500s. They used a metagenomic tool to analyze DNA from remains in an epidemic cemetery at Teposcolula-Yucundaa, Oaxaca in southern Mexico.
The analysis of DNA from the teeth of the Aztecs showed the presence of Salmonella enterica. It has been likened to typhus, and in modern times, kills about 10 percent to 15 percent of those infected.
“This cemetery is linked to the 1545-1550 CE epidemic locally known as ‘cocoliztli,’ the cause of which has been debated for over a century,” according to the study abstract in bioRxiv.
“Here we present two reconstructed ancient genomes for Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Paratyphi C, a bacterial cause of enteric fever. We propose that S. Paratyphi C contributed to the population decline during the 1545 cocoliztli outbreak in Mexico.”
Speaking of DNA, Salmonella as a genetic engineer
Even though it is estimated to cause 1 million foodborne illnesses in the U.S. every year, with 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths, Salmonella infection has long been seen as a less-than-life-threatening scenario.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after becoming infected. The illness usually lasts a week or less, and most people recover without treatment. However, in some cases, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized.
So, unless you are in a high-risk group — young children, elderly people, pregnant women or people with compromised immune systems — you’re gonna spend a few days staggering between the bathroom and your bed, but you’ll live to tell about it if your fresh sprouts or raw milk are contaminated with Salmonella.
At least that was the conventional wisdom. That’s one of the things I love about science. It allows for conventional wisdom to become better informed.
The brilliance of Cornell’s Gellert Family Professor in Food Safety, Martin Wiedmann, and doctoral candidate Rachel Miller is shining a new light on the impact a “simple bout of food poisoning” can have. They’ve found evidence it permanently damages victims’ DNA.
“Not all salmonella serotypes are equal,” Miller said in a news item from University Relations at Cornell University.
Miller and Wiedmann examined multiple serotypes of salmonella and found some that encode for cytolethal distending toxin — S-CDT, a virulence component for serotype Typhi — can cause DNA damage and contribute to long-term disease consequences.
“Think about possible DNA damage this way: We apply sunscreen to keep the sun from damaging our skin. If you don’t apply sunscreen, you can get a sunburn — and possibly develop skin problems later in life,” said Miller.
“While not the sun, salmonella bacteria may work in a similar way. The more you expose your body’s cells to DNA damage, the more DNA damage that needs to be repaired, and there may one day be a chance that the DNA damage is not correctly repaired. We don’t really know right now the true permanent damage from these salmonella infections.”
That which does not kill us makes us stronger
So what about the 15-year-old kid in Utah? What’s the Salmonella connection? Why is Friedrich Nietzsche suddenly relevant? Walk with me on the beach beat and connect the dots.
Since 2009 there have been 30 documented outbreaks associated with raw milk sold at Utah dairies statewide, with more than 400 people becoming ill, according to the state health department. The 15-year-old kid is one of nine people confirmed with Salmonella infections in an outbreak in 2016 that was traced to raw milk.
Who knows if the kid wanted to drink the unpasteurized raw milk — did a friend’s parents serve it with lunch after soccer practice? Did the child’s own parents serve the raw milk? All we know is the child’s DNA could be permanently damaged from the Salmonella infection contracted from the unpasteurized milk.
We also know that Utah’s public health officials, along with their peers across the country and at the CDC, USDA and Food and Drug Administration all warn parents about the dangers of pathogens in unpasteurized raw milk.
“Public health officials warn that drinking raw milk may be dangerous, regardless of where it is obtained,” according to the Utah outbreak report. “Raw milk should not be consumed by young children, pregnant women, the elderly, people with weakened or compromised immune systems, or anyone who does not want to become ill.”
This is where the famed philosopher enters the picture. Many raw milk advocates express a view similar to Nietzsche’s observation “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”
In the raw milk community the good old days are often referenced, with advocates of unpasteurized milk saying a little exposure to bugs will help a body build resistance. However, they never reference any peer-reviewed research to support their case. See my note below regarding this point, I’m on a roll here.
When the kids of raw milk advocates get sick with infections from Salmonella or E. coli or Listeria it’s never the unpasteurized milk at fault. In a way, I agree. It’s not the fault of the raw milk. Even teaming with bacteria, milk can’t be anything but an inanimate object when you’re on the beach beat.
It’s the fault of the parents, and I think they should be held accountable.
Virtually no one argues with the concept of a minimum age to drink alcohol. The physically addictive nature of alcohol, plus the damage it can do to a developing body and brain are well known. No one would think twice about indicting a parent on criminal charges if they gave their underage child so much alcohol that hospitalization was required.
If you want to drink unpasteurized raw milk, go for it. But don’t tell me it’s not appropriate for the government to tell you not to give it to children. Rules about booze, cigarettes, car safety seats and raw milk not only protect children, they protect society at large by reducing the number of illnesses, hospitalizations, ongoing health problems, etc., associated with such substances and behaviors.
Researchers research raw milk research
Back in 2014 when the Maryland House of Delegates’ Health and Government Operations Committee was considering legislation related to the sale of raw milk, the lawmakers did an outrageous thing. They sought unbiased scientific information.
The resulting review of literature of the risks and benefits of consuming raw and pasteurized cow’s milk says what the raw milk advocates don’t want to talk about.
“Overall, our review identified no evidence that the potential benefits of consuming raw milk outweigh the known health risks,” according to the researchers from the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.
“Based on our findings, we discourage the consumption of raw milk. The risks of consuming raw milk instead of pasteurized milk are well established in the scientific literature, and in some cases can have severe or even fatal consequences. The potential benefits on the other hand, are still unclear and would benefit from further investigation. We are left with a large uncertainty about the potential benefits of raw milk but with a clear understanding of the microbial hazards from consuming raw milk.”
The researchers identified more than 1,000 scientific articles for consideration in their review. They concluded that drinking raw milk carries an increased risk of foodborne illness as compared to drinking pasteurized milk.
“While some articles noted nutritional deficiencies in pasteurized milk, these can be overcome by eating a well-balanced diet. Overall, our review identified no evidence that the potential benefits of consuming raw milk outweigh the known health risks.”

GAO is like broken record on food safety
Source :
By Richard Raymond 1 (Feb 24, 2017)
The General Accounting Office (GAO) has released yet another report on the U.S. food safety system. The latest is dated January 2017 and was addressed to Congressional Requesters on the Food Safety Inspection system of the Federal Government. It is titled: FOOD SAFETY; A National Strategy is needed to Address Fragmentation in Federal Oversight. It can be seen in its entirety at
As always, it calls for a single food safety agency, and, as always, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says that the Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS), the Food & Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) are cooperating more and more every year, doing as much as allowed by existing statutes while GAO says they could do more within the laws of the land if they just tried.
The report also, as always, laments the fact that 30 laws exist, governing who does what in regards to food safety, and that these laws
are implemented by 16 separate agencies.
But of course those numbers are very misleading to the average reader of the report, as I assume was the intention of the writers.
The great majority of food we consume is regulated by FDA’s Center for Food Safety & Nutrition (CFSAN) and USDA’s FSIS.
The CDC plays a key role in investigating foodborne illness outbreaks and identifying links to sources through its Pulse Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) but has have no active role in regulating food safety.
So they are asking Congress and the Office of Management & Budget (O&B) to fix the fragmentation, even though it is Congress and the past Presidents who signed bills into laws that fragmented food safety roles in the first place.
I had a reporter ask me just the other day how this could have happened. I will explain in the paragraphs that follow.
In 1906 Congress passed, and President Teddy Roosevelt signed into law, the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA). The Act was a response to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, a mandatory read for many college lit students.
Sinclair tried to display how the evil meat packers and processors were taking advantage of Eastern European workers who had migrated to the U.S. hoping for a better life.
But in the book he also described some very disgusting examples of contaminants getting into the meat mixers, sick and diseased animals, contagious workers, etc.
Some say the FMIA was written to protect the public’s health, but the cynics say it was to keep meat export numbers intact. (Kind of like the Interim Rule when we discovered our first BSE cow in 2003.)
The FMIA was very specific when it named the five animal species subject to daily, continuous inspection. All four-leggers, they were sheep, goats, horses, cows and pig but no Bison or poultry.
In 1957 a similar bill was signed into law by President “Ike” Eisenhower called the Poultry Products Inspection Act. This bill was stimulated by large chicken companies taking pride in their product and methods who wanted to put those cutting corners for profit either out of business or brought into the flock.
Congress was a bit smarter on this attempt and listed every fowl known to mankind that had ever been consumed.
If it has two legs and feathers, it would now get daily, continuous inspection.
A similar dispute in 1970 between those taking the high road and those cutting corners in the egg products industry hatched an idea called the Egg Products Inspection Act, giving USDA responsibility for egg products, and egg products getting daily, continuous inspection.
Yet, shell eggs remain outside any written law, thus by default remaining at FDA for whatever inspection or audits they may deem necessary when funding will allow for that activity.
Ah, but it got even more scrambled than an omelet in 2008. That is when the U.S. Congress, the same men and women that the GAO wants to act to form a “National Strategy _____ to Address Fragmentation in Federal Oversight,” passed the Farm Bill that gave the whiskered catfish to FSIS for, you guessed it, daily, continuous inspection.
You can fill in the blank with your own thoughts, but mine, if trying to guess what the GAO really wanted to be the title of the document would say “National Strategy to Create a Single Food Safety Agency to Address Fragmentation in Federal Oversight”.
So imported catfish now also receive inspection at ports of entry, and testing for residues like antibiotics, and they can only enter this country where there is a port of entry with an FSIS inspection work force.
Tilapia, sea bass, salmon and all other species with gills and fins, but not legs or feathers, can be flown, trucked or shipped to any airport, dock or warehouse with no inspection. The other fish and seafood fall under FDA.
I doubt that eating catfish from Vietnam is any more dangerous to my health than shrimp from Thailand, and the 2008 Farm Bill that rewrote a portion of the FMIA left bison at FDA, where no inspection of slaughter plants is done.
The GAO had a panel that helped them formulate the report. Among others it included Mike Taylor and Bob Buchanan, two of the top food safety officials at FDA/CFSAN while I was Undersecretary for Food Safety at USDA/FSIS.
It also included three representatives, including a lobbyist, from three consumer advocacy groups that each has its own agenda.
It included a mom of a child who died from E. coli O157:H7 but it did not include any USDA/FSIS top officials from the Bush era when I was in D.C. or the years before.
Which agency has the most to lose with a single food safety agency? I say it is FSIS as it gets over $1 billion annually for food safety activities, including an inspection work force of around 7,500.
FDA gets peanuts for a very limited inspection/audit work force that was responsible for the oversight of the Peanut Corporation of America and its food safety fiasco. They would like some of that money and some of that work force.
I have never liked people who just criticize a plan without offering up a workable alternative, so I have written a blog in the past with my thoughts on changes that would help unscramble this mess we have; a solution that would be much easier to explain than having different four-legged species in two different agencies, and eggs and egg products also in two different agencies.
If there is interest, maybe I will resurrect that piece down the road.

Food safety: Who cares anyway?
Source :
By STAFF WRITER (Feb 24, 2017)
An intense if somewhat muted row  has been ensuing between some local business importers and the Government Analyst Food & Drugs Department (GA/FDD) over what has become the prevalent practice by some distributors of importing volumes of food items that do not adhere to the requirements that obtain under the Food and Drugs Act. These requirements have to do with the need to satisfy food safety considerations that underpin human health concerns.
On the whole, public interest in food safety issues is nowhere near as focused as it should be, that truism is illustrated in the seeming extent of the demand for expired imported food items openly available on the local market. There is, too, a marked public indifference to the frequent warnings disseminated by the GA/FDD about fake brands, though it has to be said that far more resources need to be put into planned and sustained public awareness initiatives on food safety issues.
Numbered amongst the suspect food imports are significant volumes of infant formula. Official attention to this issue continues to fail miserably to match its seriousness.
All too frequently, it appears that foods that do not qualify for entry under our food safety regulations are shipped to Guyana and find their way through our ports of entry and onto the market without the official clearance of the GA/FDD. It would appear that rogue importers are not without the kinds of official ‘connections’ that allow for this practice.
Ranged off against the country’s food safety regulations, are a seemingly willing but weak enforcement agency, a preoccupation on the part of the aforementioned rogue distributors with profit, an insufficiently sensitized population, a state public health apparatus that is nowhere near as diligent and as sustained in its insistence on food safety standards as it should be and a private sector business support infrastructure which, by its silence, continues to send a message of indifference on the food safety issue.
Such official comment on food safety as has been forthcoming in recent years has arisen primarily out of the restraints being placed on the export of foods from Guyana on account of  laws passed in importing countries, particularly the United States that seek to tighten food safety qualifications for importers. Even here, the Government of Guyana has, up until now, failed to invest in the tools and human resources that can ensure compliance with importing country regulations (the US Food Safety Modernization Act is the best example), a posture which, in effect, does potential harm to the market prospects in the US for our food exporters.
Where domestic food safety is concerned it is apposite to comment on a statement from the GA/FDD earlier this week about the dangers associated with the consumption of ready-to-eat foods. Here again, the Department is drawing attention to a prevalent and potentially dangerous transgression, which (even though we ponder the likely extent of the impact of what is no more than a feeble reminder) by and large, has long been lacking in any serious and sustained official oversight. One cannot help but feel that the GA/FDD’s reminder notwithstanding, the practice of offering unsafe ready-to-eat foods to consumers, including thousands of the nation’s schoolchildren will persist except a far more widespread and robust public awareness exercise ensues.
A few small snackette proprietors and roadside vendors have already frowned on the GA/FDD’s reminder, making the point about the additional costs associated with adding food warmers to their inventory. If there is something decidedly irrational in seeking to mount a spirited defence of a commercial practice that may carry a public health risk, the persistence of the practice has everything to do with the fact that the authorities, both central government and City Hall, have failed in their enforcement responsibilities. There is simply no persuasive evidence that at a law-enforcement level, indifference to considerations of food safety are measured against the likely high cost to the health services of treating ailments associated with consuming foods that might be unfit for human consumption; nor, it appears, is there any real mindfulness of the impact of indifference to food safety might be having on the productivity of the work force.
Reducing the food safety-related risks to the public goes beyond strengthening the capabilities of the GA/FDD even though serious investment in a complete makeover of the Department that focuses on capacity building from the standpoint of the science of food safety would represent a significant breakthrough. It would require a severing of such corrupt connections as rogue importers might have, and a far greater sense of official earnestness in the enforcement of food safety regulations and the imposition of penalties for transgression. More than that, our business support organizations, particularly the Private Sector Commission must publicly set their faces against the rogue importers, positioning the policies of the private sector alongside those that have to do with the health and wellness of the nation.
The virtue of realizing a heightened national sensitivity to food safety issues requires a regime of public consultations that go way beyond what, frequently, are the farcical fora that pass for engagements with national audiences. We will continue to run food safety-related risks with the health of the nation until the authorities succeed in doing sufficient to get the attention of the nation. Not nearly enough is being done at this time.



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Efficacy of Sulfur Dioxide and Sulfur Discs against Wine-Spoilage Yeasts: In Vivo and In Vitro Trials
Source :
By Aguilar Solis Maria de Lourdes Alejandra, Ph.D., David M. Gadoury, Ph.D., and Randy W. Worobo, Ph.D.
Winemaking involves the multiplication and metabolism of numerous yeasts and bacteria in grape juice. After fermentation, the fermented juice is stabilized by the addition of sulfites (sulfur dioxide) to protect against refermentation or the growth of deleterious microorganisms that could spoil the wine through production of undesirable flavors and aromas.[1] Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is an antioxidant and antimicrobial,[2] and it is also used to sanitize and store empty barrels. SO2 has not been systematically evaluated to sanitize wine cooperage, and current knowledge of the use of SO2 is largely based upon studies performed in wine, where carbonyl compounds, sugars and other uncontrolled conditions may confound its observed antimicrobial effects. Glucose present in wine is one of the main SO2-binding compounds. Moreover, SO2 forms additional compounds with aldehydes and, to a lesser extent, with ketones.[3] SO2 exists in equilibrium in aqueous solutions between molecular SO2 (SO2•H2O), bisulfite (HSO3-) and sulfite (SO2-3) species, but this equilibrium is strictly dependent on pH.[2,4] It is generally believed that the molecular sulfur species is the antimicrobial form of SO2, which is predominant at low pH. Because SO2•H2O does not have a charge, the molecule enters the cell and undergoes rapid pH-driven dissociation at cytoplasmic pH (generally near 6.5) to yield bisulfite and sulfite. As the intracellular concentration of molecular SO2 decreases due to the internal equilibrium, more molecular SO2 enters the cell, further increasing intracellular concentrations.[4]
Oak barrels have been commonly used for aging wines and spirits due to their positive effects on the finished product that include increased color stability, spontaneous clarification and desirable complex aromas.[5] However, spoilage sometimes occurs during aging, or even after bottling, due to the continued growth or residual secondary metabolites of contaminant microorganisms, such as the yeast Dekkera/Brettanomyces, causing widespread losses in the wine industry due to degraded wine quality.[1] The growth of yeasts belonging to Dekkera⁄Brettanomyces during the production of red wine, especially during aging, can seriously affect the organoleptic quality of the finished product. These yeasts grow slowly during wine aging in wooden barrels, particularly when the SO2 concentration is low (molecular SO2 < 0.5 mg/L), the pH is high (> 3.8) and the temperature is above 15 °C.[6] Although barrel disinfection methods are becoming more sophisticated (water vapor, ozonization, etc.), the shape and microstructure of wooden barrels offer undesirable microorganisms niches that provide a great degree of protection from direct contact by sanitizers.[7] It is now generally accepted that control of Dekkera/Brettanomyces spp. cannot be achieved by mere cleaning or incomplete sanitization of all cellar equipment but demands much more stringent microbiological control and judicious utilization of sulfite or dimethyl dicarbonate.[8] The ability of yeast strains to survive high alcohol concentrations allows them to carry out refermentation in barrels or bottles, thereby modifying the alcohol/sugar balance and the aroma of the wine, reducing its quality. This process is mainly carried out by Zygosaccharomyces bailii and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, due to their tolerance of high concentrations of alcohol and SO2[9] and their survival of primary alcoholic fermentation.[10] The presence of yeasts of the genus Zygosaccharomyces, in particular Z. bailii, is well known in wineries producing sweet or sparkling wines using juice concentrate or sulfited grape juice. Their high level of resistance to preservatives, particularly in Z. bailii, means that addition of high, but sublethal, doses decreases the incidence of competing microorganisms, making the survival of resistant strains even more problematic.[8] To reveal more precise indications of the true antimicrobial efficacy of SO2, we conducted in vitro experiments in which no other compound was added other than SO2 in the form of potassium metabisulfite (KMB). SO2 was also evaluated using 5-g sulfur discs in wine barrels (in vivo experiments). The purpose of the study was to test SO2 at three pH levels to assess its efficacy against wine-spoilage yeasts and then assess the use of sulfur discs (~5 g) in naturally contaminated barrels held for 3 and 6 weeks. The results from these experiments will serve as a guide to more efficient sanitization practices using SO2 as a sanitizer.
Three isolates of Dekkera/Brettanomyces bruxellensis (2080, CE149 and CE261), three isolates of S. cerevisiae (CE78, CE9 and CE81) and an isolate of Z. bailii (4A1) were obtained from the Department of Food Science collection at Cornell University.
Preparation of starter culture and inoculation
The yeasts, stored at -80 °C in 15% glycerol (w/v), were revitalized and maintained on YPD agar. All strains were grown until stationary phase (108 CFU/mL) or at least 106 CFU/mL (growth under agitation at 200 rpm, 30 °C). The growth time varied according to the strain. Each strain was grown in YPD broth adjusted to different pH levels (3.0, 3.2 and 3.4) with 1 M HCl and/or 1 M NaOH. Once the cultures reached 108 or 106 CFU/mL, the target inoculum was verified via a viability assessment. A 1-mL volume of culture was placed in sterile Eppendorf tubes and centrifuged (4,500 rpm, room temperature); the supernatant was discarded and resuspended in 1 mL McIlvaine buffer[11] at the different pH levels stated above. A 1-mL culture was inoculated into 99 mL McIlvaine buffer at the different pH levels mentioned above, reaching a concentration of 104–106 CFU/mL. Analyses were performed in triplicate.
Preparation of KMB solution
The solutions were prepared before each experiment by dissolving the required amount of KMB in McIlvaine buffer at the different pH values. The final concentrations of KMB were 0 and 300 mg/L. Each KMB solution was spiked with 1 mL cells to achieve a final volume of 100 mL and plugged with rubber stoppers.
Sampling and microbiological isolation
Each flask was aseptically sampled at different times. The flasks were incubated in a water bath at 30 °C with no agitation and sampled at 0, 15, 30, 60 and 90 minutes. At each sampling time, 1 mL was taken and properly diluted in 0.1% (w/v) buffered peptone water, immediately plated in duplicate onto YPD agar and incubated at 30 °C for 48–72 hours for Z. bailii and S. cerevisiae, and up to 3–4 weeks for D./B. bruxellensis. When necessary, direct plating from the flask was also performed to increase the level-of-detection threshold. The volume plated was 100 µL.
Microbiological enumeration
Plates were enumerated for total microbial count. The counts were averaged and expressed as log values. The log reduction was then calculated for each strain and expressed as log values. Each inactivation experiment and controls were performed in triplicate for each strain.
Sulfur disc treatment of barrels
The 20 donated barrels used for this study were identified with Dekkera/Brettanomyces by the wineries that donated them. These naturally contaminated barrels were split in two groups of 10 barrels each to identify both Brettanomyces and general yeast populations and were then treated with sulfur discs. Each barrel had an identification number. The treatments were conducted for 3 and 6 weeks. Briefly, 7 L distilled water were added to each barrel, before and after burning the sulfur discs inside the barrels. The barrels were rolled several times to enhance the contact of water with the inner surface of the barrel, stored bung side up for 24 hours and then sampled before and after burning the sulfur discs. Water samples were collected in sterile bottles. The first portion of the water was discarded to “rinse” the bunghole (outer portion of the bung), and then 70% ethanol was sprayed around the bunghole. The samples were placed at 4 °C until analysis. The samples were analyzed to determine the initial and final yeast populations, either by filtration using discs or pertinent dilutions of the samples, since the microbial loads varied for each barrel. If samples needed to be diluted, 0.1% (w/v) buffered peptone water was used.
The samples were divided into two groups and filtered through cellulose. The results of the two filters were then averaged. The maximum volume filtered was 100 mL, and the results were calculated as CFU/100 mL and then transformed into log10. The cellulose filters were aseptically placed onto WL and YPD agars. WL agar was used to detect D./B. bruxellensis and incubated at 30 °C for up to 3–4 weeks; colonies that grew before 3 days were discarded. Incubation time was also used to demonstrate growth, as nothing that grows before 3 days in WL with cycloheximide is D./B. bruxellensis. The WL agar contained 10 mg/L cycloheximide to allow for selection of D./B. bruxellensis (dissolved in 50% ethanol and filter-sterilized), 150 mg/L biphenyl to prevent the growth of mold, 30 mg/L chloramphenicol to prevent the growth of lactic acid bacteria and 25 mg/L kanamycin sulfate to inhibit the growth of acetic acid bacteria. YPD agar was used to detect general yeast populations and was incubated at 30 °C for 48–72 hours. The YPD agar contained all of the above selective agents except cycloheximide.
Statistical analysis
The reductions in yeast were calculated from the initial concentration of yeast cells (target inoculum) at time zero minus the last concentration of yeast at time 90 minutes for the in vitro experiments. All experiments, including the controls, were performed in triplicate. The analysis used was a three-way analysis of variance, and simple comparisons were performed using the Tukey’s test (P < 0.05). For reduction of Brettanomyces and general yeast populations using sulfur discs, a Fisher’s exact test was performed.
Results and Discussion
Effects of KMB on strains
Sulfite acts as a powerful antimicrobial agent and is highly toxic to most non-Saccharomyces yeasts.[12] In this work, we studied the effects of pH at a high concentration of KMB using a matrix with no SO2-binding compounds commonly found in wines. At pHs 3.0 and 3.2, total log reductions were observed for Z. bailii. However, at pH 3.4, there was no reduction, likely due to the decreased availability of SO2, which is the germicidal form of the sanitizer (Figure 1). Divol et al.[13] found that 200 mg/L SO2 did not affect the capacity of Z. bailii cells to grow on a solid medium, but did not mention pH as a factor, which has an important influence on the antimicrobial effect of SO2.
For strain 2080 (D./B. bruxellensis) (Figure 2), a 1.9-log reduction was achieved at pH 3.0. At pHs 3.2 and 3.4, there were log reductions of only 0.5 and 0.3, respectively. With regard to strain CE149 (D./B. bruxellensis) (Figure 3), there was a 3-log reduction at pH 3.0, and 2.5- and 2.4-log reductions at pHs 3.2 and 3.4, respectively. CE261 (D./B. bruxellensis) (Figure 4) was reduced 1.78 log units at pH 3.0, and 1.2 and 1.0 logs at pHs 3.2 and 3.4, respectively. Interestingly, reports about the effects of SO2 on D./B. bruxellensis inactivation are often contradictory. Some authors refer its sensitivity to values higher than 30 mg/L SO2, while others state it should be regarded as resistant and growth has been reported when values greater than 30 mg/L SO2 are used. This controversy probably arises from differences in experimental conditions and strain behavior variability.[14] Our results showed that 300 mg/L KMB was not sufficient to reduce the yeasts tested to undetectable levels.
At pH 3.0, only strain CE78 (S. cerevisiae) was reduced 1.0 log10 unit, and at pHs 3.2 and 3.4, there were reductions of only 0.7 and 0.5 log10 units, respectively (Figure 5). The two S. cerevisiae strains CE81 and CE9 were reduced only 0.2 and 0.1 log10 units, respectively, at pH 3.0 (Figures 6 and 7). No significant differences were found for either strain when three different pHs were compared using either 0 or 300 mg/L KMB, since we observed that KMB did not cause noticeable reductions in either strain. In fact, the effect of the sanitizer was expected to be negligible for S. cerevisiae strains. In reality, S. cerevisiae strains could be considered as controls since they are generally recognized as being sulfite-resistant yeasts. For S. cerevisiae, differences in resistance have been attributed to production of compounds, particularly acetaldehyde, that bind sulfite to form α-hydroxysulfonates.15 Indeed, S. cerevisiae strains produce relatively high levels of acetaldehyde.[16] However, the study of production of sulfite-binding compounds is beyond the scope of this study.
Reduction of Brettanomyces and general yeast populations using sulfur discs
The 6-week treatments were shown to be highly effective in decreasing both Brettanomyces and general yeast populations (Tables 1 and 2, respectively) with the exception of only one barrel that presented reminiscent yeast populations after the application of sulfur discs. Three barrels of general yeast populations from the 3-week treatment had reminiscent populations of yeast after treatment. The reminiscent populations of yeasts in some barrels after treatment with sulfur discs can be attributed to an incomplete burning of the sulfur discs, since data showed that there were barrels with higher initial microbial loads that had total elimination or undetectable levels of microorganisms, and others that had fewer microorganisms and did not have a total elimination. No statistical differences were found between the 3- and 6-week treatments for both Brettanomyces and general yeast populations, suggesting that the level of disinfection was the same. SO2 rings used and held for 3 or 6 weeks were sufficient to decrease the microbial loads to undetectable levels in the majority of the barrels. However, several variables can influence treatment effectiveness when microbial elimination is taken into consideration, that is, the amount of oxygen consumed inside the barrel, the initial microbial load, the presence of debris or residues of organic matter and how much of the sulfur disc was burned.
In this study, we considered the use of a noninterfering matrix to be an important variable to prove the maximum efficacy of SO2 whether in solution or in the headspace of a 225-L barrel. The highly variable results found in the literature make it difficult to precisely define an optimal protocol for the use of SO2 as a surface sanitizer in wineries. When used in solution, SO2 provides relative efficacy toward the strains and initial microbial concentration levels presented here. This fact is of substantial importance for winemakers when SO2 is to be used in the liquid form at a specific pH. However, under laboratory conditions, SO2 was under no other conditions other than the ones encountered in the barrel. This should be considered when sanitization protocols are going to be achieved. The lack of a systematic approach to evaluating SO2 in common protocols of winery sanitization has resulted in the generalized use of certain protocols that might not be applicable to all the surfaces in wineries. High microbial loads were used under laboratory conditions, representing the worst-case scenario of barrel contamination. However, when we extrapolated this same approach under winery conditions, we realized that the use of SO2 as a gas, although effective, was only challenged with up to 103 CFU/mL for general yeast populations and up to 108 CFU/mL for Brettanomyces populations. This should be taken into consideration by winemakers since microbial loads in naturally contaminated barrels may vary according to their previous sanitization practices.
Winemakers must keep in mind that prevention is more effective than correction. Presanitization practices (rinsing at the right temperatures to avoid thermally adhering debris on the surface) and the correct concentration of SO2 that is effective for the surface to be sanitized are the best approaches when optimal sanitization is desired. In general, winemakers and the wine industry should consider reassessing their practices in terms of the use of scientifically validated information and utilize it to protect their wine from future contamination.
This work was supported by CONACYT-Mexico, federal formula multi-state project under grant NC-1023 and Cornell University Research Travel Awards. The authors thank the industry donors at Constellation Brands, California. Some experimental details were omitted for brevity; please contact the authors for more information.
Aguilar Solis Maria de Lourdes Alejandra, Ph.D., is a technical compliance specialist who works in the wine industry.
David M. Gadoury, Ph.D., is a senior research associate in the Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, Cornell University, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station.
Randy W. Worobo, Ph.D., is an associate professor of food science and microbiologist in the Department of Food Science, Cornell University, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station.
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16. Romano, P et al. 1994. “Acetaldehyde Production in Saccharomyces cerevisiae Wine Yeasts.” FEMS Microbiol Lett 118:213–218.

Illinois new raw milk rules get first legislative tests
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BY DAN FLYNN (Feb 23, 2017)
Three bills introduced into the Illinois General Assembly loosen up cottage food sales and promote farmers markets, but apparently are not intended to alter the state’s new raw milk law.
Illinois in 2016 aligned itself with the surrounding states of Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin by prohibiting any retail sales of milk without pasteurization. On-farm sales are permitted under new regulations.
Raw milk cheese aged 60 days can be sold under a separate permit, but sales of other unpasteurized raw milk products are also prohibited.
Three bills, two in the House and one in the Senate, have been introduced in Springfield, making changes for farmers markets and cottage food producers. All three measures, with very similar language, have been assigned to committees.
All three call for establishing a state Farmers Market Task Force “to address farmers market vendor complaints regarding the reasonableness of local health departments” fee and sanitation provisions.”
The proposals also call for providing farmers market vendors with “effective means to maintain potentially hazardous food at a specific temperature.” That language is apparently intended to allow vendors to use ice chests to keep food cold. Currently refrigerators are required.
Lawmakers are also promising the legislation will ease regulations on the sale of raw or unprocessed milk, but the bills appear to fall short of doing that, at least as introduced. All three are susceptible to such amendments, though, as they go through the legislative process.
Language in the bills also calls for making it possible for hand-washing stations to be shared by farmers market vendors.
New rules regarding unpasteurized raw milk, which were approved by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, took effect July 1, 2016, after a three-year regulatory process.
Illinois had long prohibited selling raw milk, expect on the farm. The 2016 rules make those common practices law, and for the first time give the Illinois Department of Public Health comprehensive enforcement authority.
To continue with on-the-farm sales of unpasteurized raw milk, a permit is required that is backed up by proper sanitation, storage and milking environment and practices. Labeling, consumer advisories and periodic testing is also required.
Raw milk can be purchased on about 60 farms in Illinois. Illinois officials said they wanted to regulate raw milk without driving it further underground.
The Illinois raw milk rules cover milk from cows, sheep or goats that has not been pasteurized.  Without pasteurization, harmful bacteria is not killed and consumers may be sickened by any number of pathogens including E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella and others.
Illinois experienced four outbreaks between 2006 and 2010 that were traced by to raw milk or raw milk cheese, which together sickened 140 people.
Both House Bill 2820, sponsored by Rep. Steven A. Andersson, R-Geneva, and House Bill 3063, sponsored by Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, were assigned Wednesday to the House Business Incentives for Local Communities Committee.
Senate Bill 1469, sponsored by Sen. David Koehler, D-Peoria, and two Chicago Democrats, Sens Jacqueline Y. Collins and Patricia Van Pelt, remains in the Assignments Committee.
Illinois is a split Red-Blue state with Democrats controlling both chambers in the General Assembly, 36-to-22 in the Senate, and 76-to-51 in the House. Governor of Illinois is Bruce Rauner, a Republican.

Listeria May be Serious Miscarriage Threat in Early Pregnancy
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By News Desk (Feb 23, 2017)
New research conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and published in the journal mBio has found that Listeria monocytogenes food poisoning can be a serious miscarriage threat in early pregnancy. Scientists at the university’s school of veterinary medicine studied how pathogens affect fetal development and change pregnancy outcomes.
Dr. Ted Golos, a UW-Maidson reproductive physiologist and professor of comparative biosciences and obstetrics and gynecology said, “for many years, Listeria has been associated with adverse outcomes in pregnancy, but particularly at the end of pregnancy. What wasn’t known with much clarity before this study is that it appears it’s a severe risk factor in early pregnancy. It’s striking that mom doesn’t get particularly ill from Listeria infection, but it has a profound impact on the fetus.”
Listeriosis sickens about 1600 Americans every year. The people who get sickest from this type of infection are the elderly and newborn babies. Pregnant women usually don’t get very sick if they contract listeriosis, but they can suffer premature birth, miscarriage, or stillbirth. Babies can even be born seriously ill with listeriosis.
Dr. Charles Czuprynski, a UW-Madison professor of pathobiological sciences and director of the UW-Madison Food Research Institute said, “the problem with this organisms is not a huge number of cases. It’s that when it is identified, it is associated with severe outcomes.”
Many foods can cause serious illness in pregnant women. As a general rule, they are advised to avoid unpasteurized milk, raw cider, soft cheese, sprouts, melons, and some deli meats because of the threat of Listeria and other types of pathogenic bacteria that can be in those products. And there is zero tolerance for Listeria in ready to eat foods for exactly this reason.
Dr. Sophia Kathariou, a North Carolina State University professor of food science and microbiology, gave the researchers a strain of Listeria that caused miscarriage, stillbirth and premature delivery in at least 11 pregnant women in 2000. Four pregnant rhesus macaques at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center were fed doses of Listeria that were comparable to what may be in contaminated food.
Bryce Wolfe, lead author of the study who is a UW-Madison graduate student studying cellular and molecular pathology, monitored the speed and progression of the bacteria’s spread. Czuprynski said, “the animal ingested it; she tracked it being shed in fees and showing up in the bloodstream. They did ultrasound analysis of the fetus, and could then show events in terms of where the organism was preceding fetal demise.”
None of the monkeys showed any obvious signs of infection or illness before their pregnancies ended. Samples taken after intrauterine fetal death showed that the bacteria had invaded the placenta and the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus. Wolfe said, “in that region, there’s a rich population of specialized immune cells, and it is exquisitely regulated. When you introduce a pathogen into the midst of this, it’s not very surprising that it’s going to cause some sort of adverse outcome disrupting this balance.”
Researchers think that inflammation caused by the maternal immune response to the fast-moving Listeria affects the placenta, stopping it from protecting the fetus. The placenta usually acts as a barrier against bacteria and harmful substances, but the researchers think that the mother’s immune system’s attempt to clear the bacteria actually damages the placenta, leaving the fetus open to harmful bacteria and toxins.
The researchers think that Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, and perhaps other pathogens, may be the cause of some miscarriages that are undiagnosed. The bacteria is so quick to reproduce and spread that it is hard to control. And because the mother’s illness is so mild and she may even be asymptomatic, the fetus may be infected before the mother even knows she is sick.
Listeriosis is treatable, but only if it is diagnosed. Sometimes, doctors have their patients take a prophylactic course of antibiotics if the woman has eaten food that may be contaminated with Listeria bacteria.

EFSA awards €1m to innovative research projects
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By (Feb 23, 2017)
EFSA has awarded grants worth just over €1 million to three innovative research projects on methodology development in risk assessment. By co-funding these projects EFSA is supporting advances in risk assessment methodology and encouraging scientific cooperation, innovation, and exchange of expertise in the EU.
A total of 28 organisations from 15 European countries, grouped in six consortia, responded to EFSA’s second thematic grant call launched in April 2016. The aim of the call was to encourage cooperation between EFSA and Member States as well as among Member States through the formation of consortia of Article 36 list organisations. EFSA was looking for innovative project proposals that would further enhance the sharing of knowledge and expertise.
Winning projects
The call covered three thematic areas: methods and systems for the identification of emerging food risks (lot 1); integrated methodologies for the risk assessment of mycotoxin mixtures in food and feed (lot 2); and output-based methods for the assessment of the freedom of animal disease/infection (lot 3).
The successful projects are:
Lot 1: DEMETER – DEtermination of METrics of Emerging Risk
Leading partner: Stichting Wageningen Research (The Netherlands).
Partners (4): Wageningen University (The Netherlands); University of Newcastle upon Tyne (United Kingdom); Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (Germany); National Food Chain Safety Office (Hungary).
Lot 2: MYCHIF ­– Mycotoxin mixtures in food and feed: holistic, innovative, flexible risk assessment modelling approach
Leading partner: Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Italy).
Partners (6): Università degli studi di Parma (Italy); Queen’s University Belfast (United Kingdom); Universidade do Minho (Portugal); National Research Council (Italy); Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Italy); Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (France).
Lot 3: STOC-FREE – A Surveillance analysis Tool for Outcome-based Comparison of the confidence of FREEdom generated by control or eradication programmes
Leading partner: Utrecht University (The Netherlands).
Partners (5): Swedish National Veterinary Institute (Sweden); National University of Ireland, University College Dublin (Ireland); National College of Veterinary Medicine, Food Science and Engineering, Nantes Atlantique (France); Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health (Germany); Scotland’s Rural College (United Kingdom).
What are thematic grants?
EFSA constantly reviews existing risk assessment methods and develops new ones in key scientific areas related to food safety to ensure the excellence of its work.  EFSA cannot do this alone. Cooperation with its partners in the Member States is one of EFSA’s priorities to further enhance EU risk assessment capacity. EFSA created thematic grants as an additional instrument for strengthening scientific cooperation by co-funding research projects. This grant scheme enables leading scientific institutions in Member States to work as a collective, share knowledge and expertise, and contribute to meeting future challenges in the field of food safety.
The 2016 thematic grant call follows the successful pilot in 2015 on new approaches in identifying and characterising microbiological and chemical hazards. The pilot call attracted interest from six consortia, with a total of 34 organisations from 14 countries. It was awarded to two proposals, currently under implementation:
INNUENDO, working on a cross-sectorial platform for the integration of genomics in surveillance of food-borne pathogens.
ENGAGE, aiming at establishing next generation sequencing ability for genomic analysis in Europe.
For more information on thematic grants and forthcoming calls, please see our grants page. For information on EFSA’s cooperation with national organisations, see our page on competent organisations in the Member States.

Woods: Food safety answers
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By Good Fruit Grower (Feb 23, 2017)
What FSMA rules do I need to pay attention to?
As a result of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) signed into law in 2011, all tree fruit growers and packers will be required to comply with at least one new regulation within the next few years.
The rules that may impact your operation include the following:
Produce Safety rule: With very few exceptions (i.e. you can prove that 100 percent of the fruit you grow goes to a processor with a kill step like canning or pasteurization, or your annual sales are less than $25,000), all growers will be required to follow the Produce Safety rule. Compliance dates begin on Jan. 26, 2018, with an additional one or two years if your annual sales are less than $500,000.
In addition, packing houses and cold storage facilities that meet the farm definition (which is based on ownership structure and location, not activities performed) will be required to follow this rule.
Preventive Controls for Human Food rule: Packing houses and cold storage facilities that do not meet the farm definition will be required to follow the Preventive Controls for Human Food rule written for processors.
The initial compliance date for this rule is also Jan. 26, 2018, with additional time allowed for facilities with less than 500 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees or less than $1 million in sales.
Preventive Controls for Animal Food rule: Packing houses that do not meet the farm definition and send culls to be used for animal feed will be required to follow this rule, with compliance dates that mirror those for the Preventive Controls for Human Food rule.
Intentional Adulteration rule: Again, packing houses and storage facilities that do not meet the farm definition will be required to comply with the Intentional Adulteration rule.
Compliance with this rule, which deals with preventing terrorism or other efforts to intentionally contaminate the U.S. food supply, will become mandatory on May 27, 2019, with additional time for facilities with less than 500 FTE employees or less than $10 million in annual sales.
Sanitary Transportation rule: This rule will impact the transportation of produce leaving the packing house; transportation of fruit from the orchard to the packing house is largely exempt, although there may be cases where the rule will apply.
Larger businesses will be required to be in compliance by April 6, 2017, while those with fewer than 500 FTE employees have an additional year.
Foreign Supplier Verification rule: This rule will impact packinghouses or marketing companies that import produce from other countries.
The compliance date will be May 27, 2017, or six months after the supplier’s compliance date — which in the case of tree fruit, would be no earlier than July 2018.
What should I be doing now to prepare for compliance with the Produce Safety rule?
Educate yourself as best you can. Each farm will be required to have at least one person who has completed training with curriculum developed by the Produce Safety Alliance before your farm’s compliance date.
Contact your packer’s food safety staff to find out about training opportunities in your area; in Washington, you may also contact Jacqui Gordon of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association at
Take a look at your farm’s current food safety program and start thinking about what changes may be required.
You are likely already doing much of what the Produce Safety rule requires due to the current food safety requirements of your retail customers.
However, there will be places where both record-keeping, and the food safety practices themselves, may have to change.
For example, the rule includes comprehensive new water sampling requirements, so you should start thinking about whether you have access to the laboratory expertise needed to comply with the new requirements, where on your farm these tests should be conducted, and where you may need more information before making that decision.
What should I expect once the Produce Safety rule compliance date for my farm arrives?
You will be required on day one to have at least one person on the payroll who is trained in the Produce Safety Alliance curriculum, and have the records verifying that all employees have received adequate food safety training for their specific job.
As the year progresses, you will be required to show, through written records, that all growing and packing activities are being conducted in compliance with the various requirements within the Produce Safety rule.
An inspector, either from your state department of agriculture or FDA, may show up at any time (it may be during the first year, or several years later) to review your records.
In addition, retail customers will also likely start requiring farmers and packers to provide verification that the Produce Safety rule is being followed.
– by Kate Woods, vice president of the Northwest Horticultural Council.
For questions on the FSMA law and its requirements, contact her at or Laura Grunenfelder, also of the NHC, at Contact Jacqui Gordon ( with the Washington State Tree Fruit Association for questions on food safety training opportunities and Dr. Ines Hanrahan ( of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission for information on research related to FSMA and food safety.

Research Finds Salmonella Food Poisoning Could Damage DNA
Source :
By News Desk (Feb 22, 2017)
Research at Cornell University has found that Salmonella food poisoning caused by some serotypes of the pathogenic bacteria could permanently damage your DNA. The study is published in the journal mBio by the American Society for Microbiology as “The Cytolethal Distending Toxin Produced by Nontyphoidal Salmonella Serotypes Javiana, Montevideo, Oranienburg, and Mississippi Induces DNA Damage in a Manner Similar to That of Serotype Typhi.” Dr. Rachel Miller, author of the study, said, “not all Salmonella serotypes are equal.”
There are more than 2,500 serotypes for Salmonella, but fewer than 100 of those cause most of the food poisoning cases in this country, according to the CDC. Salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses every year in the U.S>, and kills about 450 people.
Miller and Dr. Martin Wiedmann, the Gellert Family Professor in Food Safety at the University, looked at many serotypes of Salmonella that encode for cytolethal distending toxin, or S-CDT, a virulence component for serotype Typhi. While Salmonella typhi causes typhoid fever, the other serotypes Javiana, Montevideo, Oranienburg, and Mississippi also carry the genetic material that encodes that toxin.
We have seen outbreaks linked to these serotypes in the United States just in the past year. In August 2016, a Salmonella Javiana outbreak at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen in Phoenix, Arizona sickened at least 40 people. The outbreak strain of bacteria was founding prepped/repackaged shrimp at the restaurant. Also in 2016, a Salmonella Oranienburg outbreak that sickened at least eight people was found in shell eggs produced by the Good Earth Egg Company of Bonne Terre, Missouri. And in early 2016, a Salmonella Montevideo outbreak linked to Wonderful Pistachios sickened at least 11 people.
Salmonella bacteria with S-CDT led hallmark signatures that show the presence of DNA damage. That could contribute to “long-term disease consequences,” according to Miller.
Miller continued, “Think about possible DNA damage this way: We apply sunscreen to keep the sun from damaging our skin. If you don’t apply sunscreen, you can get a sunburn – and possibly develop skin problems later in life. While not the sun, salmonella bacteria may work in a similar way. The more you expose your body’s cells to DNA damage, the more DNA damage that needs to be repaired, and there may one day be a chance that the DNA damage is not correctly repaired. We don’t really know right now the true permanent damage from these salmonella infections.”

China issues latest plan to improve food safety
Source :
By Wang Fangqing (Feb 22, 2017)
China's state council, the country's cabinet, has issued a five-year plan to improve food safety and risk management across the country.
Looking ahead to 2020 and taking into account some measures already been undertaken in 2016, Beijing said "the goal of the plan is to build a tightly controlled, highly efficient management system to ensure food safety in China".
Specifically, the plan said the Chinese government would encourage the development of larger-scale food manufacturing. It noted that among the current 118m registered food manufacturing facilities in China, the majority are small facilities with less than ten workers and poor quality control systems. This number of smaller manufacturers poses significant food safety risks, as online food retail sales continue to boom in China, with websites offering diversified sourcing of products, according to the plan.
The state council promised Beijing would work to improve food safety standards by 2020 to meet international standards, including on basic hygiene, finished product, inspection and good manufacturing practices.
China has yet to release detailed national good manufacturing practice guidance for the country's food industry. Food safety and risk management practices in developed countries will be studied and adopted if necessary in China as formal guidance, the Chinese language version of the document read.
The plan, meanwhile, also commits the government to upgrading China's standards on pesticide and veterinary medicine residues, saying the rules were outdated.
Elsewhere, the plan said there would be additional regulatory supervision of online food businesses, including cross-border online food retailing and online-to-offline food delivery services. Imported food inspections will be improved, it added.

Food safety fail: BBC Food Detectives
Source :
By Doug Powell (Feb 22, 2017)
Our resident non-aging television personality and food safety dude, Rob Mancini, who did a MSc with me all those years ago, writes that food safety professionals have been using a number of different mediums to get the word out on food safety.
One such medium are blogs, like the one you are reading now, using current press releases to disseminate information to the masses.  Others use eclectic marketing campaigns, some which are validated others not, radio, Internet, and TV.
While I am a proponent in using media to get information out in a rapid, relevant manner, TV reality shows can be misleading and often times food safety takes a back seat to sensation.
TV reality shows are a fine balance between science and fiction….. it’s about the ratings and trying to get a second season. Prior to embarking on my journey with Kitchen Crimes back in 2005, I was bombarded with emails from my colleagues not to sensationalize the facts and use weird gadgets to uncover dirt, grime, or whatever was lurking in the kitchen. Except hat doesn’t get ratings, sometimes we have to sensationalize and grasp peoples’ attention.
But it has to be done right.   At least it gets people talking and thinking about food safety.
The BBC Food Detective show was peppered with a number of food safety fails including no thermometers to verify internal food temps. Really, no thermometer….. something so simple that can literally save someone’s life. As a society, we do a horrible job in food safety communication, just look at all of the inconsistencies found on the Internet, in food regulations, provincially and internationally, and in the media.

How Good is “Good”? Digging Into Those Food Safety Emojis
Source :
By JESUS HIDALGO (Feb 21, 2017)
As the signs proliferate across King County, questions remain on whether food safety should be graded on a curve.
In February 2013, Seattle-resident and open government consultant Sarah Schacht caught E. coli for the second time in her life after eating at a “mom-and-pop” restaurant, now-defunct Ambassel Ethiopian Cuisine & Bar. She survived what she describes as a near-death experience without losing any organs and with no permanent brain damage—two of the potential effects of the bacterial infection. Still, it wasn’t pretty.
“If anybody has watched Games of Thrones and jumps to its death scenes, that’s what E. coli feels like,” Schacht says. “You’re being repeatedly stubbed in the guts.”
She says that she had no idea that Ambassel Ethiopian had a long string of food-safety violations—despite Public Health King County/Seattle having a trove of troubling information on health inspections at area restaurants—because it was difficult to obtain this info back in 2013.
After recovering from the E. coli, Schacht asked Public Health to make its food safety scores available for the public and redesign its website to make it more user-friendly. She asked, and asked, and asked again. All that she received, she says, was a lack of response, indifference and, at some point, notifications from risk management lawyers.
She continued with her food safety crusade later in 2014 by authoring a petition that asked King County to post restaurant inspection records. The petition received more than 2,000 signatures, and Public Health finally agreed to begin a process to post signs with inspection scores.
The result is the current emoji-based window-sign system that the county rolled out Jan. 17, when Elliott Bay Brewery in Lake City became the first food venue in the county where a food safety system sign was placed. You’ve probably seen them by now, little cartoon drawing with smiles commensurate with how clean the restaurant is.
But for Schacht, what should have been a cause for celebration has become just another round of frustration. She’s not smiling at these emojis at all.
Schacht, arguably the most active critic of the food safety rating system, says that her main concern is that the system is based on zip codes—that is, restaurants are graded on a curve based on how well restaurants in their proximity did. This format, she believes, creates an artificial distribution of areas that will obscure data from entire neighborhoods where food safety is a critical issue.
“The problem is that vulnerable populations like cancer patients, pregnant women, small children, elderly, will not know that perhaps they’re eating in a riskier neighborhood,” Schacht says. “That’s really unfair to consumers and it undermines what the placards are supposed to be about.”
But Public Health’s food program manager Becky Elias believes the curve system is effective.
Elias argues that the zip-code format helps mitigate inevitable style difference that occur between different inspectors—i.e., strict inspectors vs. lenient ones—since the health department tends to assign its inspectors based on a zip code area.
Elias says that she understands that the novelty of the process can be hard to grasp at the beginning but hopes it will be a system that works for both restaurants and consumers.
“I agree that there’s complicated information behind what informs the sign, but we actually consider that that’s what the public asked us to do,” Elias says. “We believe that rating with the zip code adjustment is most effective at capturing the many factors that influence food safety inspection results and then summarizing the information based on relative food safety performance.”
Different Hoods, Different Grades
To better understand how the curve does and doesn’t work, consider two restaurants in Northeast Seattle—Elliott Bay Brewery and one of its neighbors, the Jack in the Box located on Northeast 133rd Street and Lake City Way Northeast.
The brewery has committed only three red critical violations—those violations considered to put patrons at serious health risk—in the last four routine inspections, averaging 3.75 points in red critical violations since September 2015. It has received an “Excellent” grade from the health department.
By contrast, the fast-food restaurant in Lake City averages 20 points for red critical violations since October 2015.
In the 98125 zip code—where Elliott Bay Brewery and this Jack in the Box branch are located—the average scores of all the restaurants have created a “point cutoff” for the “Excellent” category of 7.5 points while the limit between the “Good” and “Okay” categories is 32.5 points. Clearly, with its 3.75 points, Elliott Bay Brewery fits in the first section and the Jack in the Box located in Lake City, with its 20 points, should be rated as “Good” but not “Okay.”
Were these restaurants elsewhere in the county, they would have different emojis in their window. For example, an “Excellent” restaurant in the 98055 area in Renton needs an average of zero points, meaning Elliott Bay Brewing’s extremely low 3.75 points would still not earn an “Excellent” rating. Meanwhile, the Jack in the Box would get downgraded to “Okay,” since the cut off for “good” in that neighborhood is 18.75. The variation is wide: the “Excellent” category in the 98122 area (the Central District) corresponds to venues with an average of or below 8.75 points. The 98004 and 98009 areas in Bellevue or the 98073 in Redmond have an average of 12.5 for the top category, the highest number in the county.
Arbitrary as this sounds, there is ample evidence that the inspectors who provide the raw health grade data play a large role in how restaurants score. That means that there’s a chance that were Elliott Bay located in that Renton zip code, the inspector there would not find any “red critical” problems, meaning it would score a zero and keep its “excellent” rating. Hence the curve.
Right to Know
Along with criticism of the curve, Schacht is also concerned with the way the county announced its plan.
Elias says Public Health did research throughout 2015 to come up with this system, basing its final model mostly on the recommendations of a stakeholder subcommittee that the office had created a year before.
Schacht was invited to participate in this stakeholder committee because of her previous professional work in diverse organizations and despite the fact that she had no association with any restaurant.
The county shared this work in progress on inspection consistency and zip code adjustments in public meetings and at Board of Health meetings in 2014.
Elias says that the information about zip codes and the grading curve was posted on Facebook and Twitter, on Public Health Insider—the institution’s blog—and newsletters for restaurant owners and registered costumers as well.
However, this was not explicitly available on the Public Health’s blog until very recently. In fact, the very first explicit reference of the curve system on Public Health Insider was included in a post dating from Dec. 19, only one month before the first window sign was posted at Elliott Bay Brewery.

Food Fraud Vulnerability Assessment and Prefilter for FSMA, GFSI and SOX Requirements
Source :
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.
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 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.
8. Spink, J, DC Moyer and C Speier-Pero. 2016. “Introducing the Food Fraud Initial Screening Model (FFIS).” Food Cont 69:306–314.

Another 130 cheese products recalled for Listeria; FDA gagged
BY CORAL BEACH (Feb 21, 2017)
FDA just cant say illustration gagMore than 130 additional cheeses and products containing cheeses are under recall because of Listeria monocytogenes found in cheese produced by Deutsch Kase Haus LLC.
A variety of cheese brands are involved, including Sargento, Sara Lee, Saputo, Dutch Valley and Guggisberg, as well as a variety of store-branded products sold by Meijer, Albertsons, H-E-B and other retailers.
The recalls, which began Feb. 10, stem from a random test conducted by Tennessee inspectors on samples of Amish Classics cheese collected from a retailer and produced by Deutsch Kase Haus LLC of Middleburg, IN. The cheese tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes and Tennessee officials posted a consumer alert.
The Food and Drug Administration is investigating the situation along with officials in several states. However, a clause in the federal code prevents FDA from releasing information about what companies bought cheese from Deutsch Kase Haus because such details are considered “confidential corporate information.”
No illnesses have been confirmed in connection with the recalled products, but it can take up to 70 days for Listeria infection symptoms to develop. Consequently public health officials are urging anyone who has eaten any of the recalled cheese products to monitor themselves for the coming weeks.
Symptoms can include high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeriosis can be very serious in children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems. It can result in stillbirths and deaths in severe cases.
For details on the most recent and expanded recalls related to the Deutsch Kase Haus problems with Listeria, please continue reading and use the links at the company names to view complete lists of the more than 130 newly recalled products.
Sargento Foods Inc. of Plymouth, WI, expanded its Feb. 11 recall to include seven more products and announced it has stopped using Deutsch Kase Haus LLC as a cheese supplier.
“Out of concern for the health and well-being of Sargento consumers, the company has terminated its relationship with Deutsch Kase Haus, which supplied Sargento with the affected Longhorn Colby cheese,” according to a statement on Sargento’s website.
“Out of an abundance of caution, in addition to the products recalled on Feb. 10, with the new information we received from our supplier, we are also voluntarily recalling products which were packaged on the same lines.”
Dutch Valley
Dutch Valley Food Distributors, Schlabach branch, officials report Deutsch Kase Haus notified them on Feb. 15 — six days after the Tennessee officials confirmed Listeria in the Indiana company’s cheese — that various cheese products sent to Dutch Valley could be contaminated.
Dutch Valley is voluntarily recalling 22 products that were distributed to 21 states.
“Retailers are advised to remove (these) products from store shelves based on the listed codes,” according to the Dutch Valley recall notice.
“Consumers who have purchased these products are asked to destroy them or to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions regarding the product listed may call Dutch Valley Foods at 800-733 4191.”
Biery Cheese Co.
Also not notified until Feb. 15 by Deutsch Kase Haus of the Listeria problem, Biery Cheese Co. is recalling longhorn colby cheese packaged under three different brands.
Brands involved in the Biery Cheese Co. recall are Delallo, Dietz & Watson and Private Selections.
“The products were distributed between Nov. 11, 2016, and Jan. 4,” according to the Biery recall notice. “These products were packaged at Biery Cheese Company in Louisville, OH, and distributed to distribution centers located in the states of: Georgia, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.”
Customers who have purchased any of the recalled cheese products are urged not to consume it and return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact Biery Cheese Co at 1-800-243-3731
MDS Foods
MDS Foods Inc. has added more than 100 products to its voluntary recall of cheese products produced by Deutsch Kase Haus LLC, according to its expanded recall notice.
“MDS Foods Inc. has also recalled potentially affected products that were packaged on the same production lines in our Tullahoma, TN, facility as the affected product,” the expanded recall notice states.
Customers who have purchased any of the recalled cheese products are urged not to consume them and to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact MDS Foods at 330-879-9780.
Dietz & Watson brand cheese used on roast beef sandwiches sold by Albertsons and Randalls stores in Texas spurred the retailers to issue a recall Sunday.
“The sandwich is made with Colby Jack cheese, which was recalled by MDS Foods. The sandwich is packaged in a clear clam shell container and is sold from the deli department. The sandwich’s UPC code is 2-15469 00000 and has a Sell Thru Date of Feb. 19,” according to the recall notice on the Albertsons website.
“Customers are asked to discard the product or return it to their local store for a full refund. Customers who have questions about the recall can contact Albertsons and Randalls anytime at 877-723-3929.”
Editor’s note: For additional information on the related recalls, please see:
“Saputa pulls gouda from stores in latest Listeria recall”
“String of cheese recalls continues, as does Listeria probe”
“Guggisberg Cheese recalls a dozen products because of Listeria”
“Sara Lee recalls cheese; 3rd-party plant has history of Listeria”
“Taylor Farms recalls Signature, HEB salads; Listeria in cheese”
“UPDATED: Listeria in cheese; recalls by Sargento, Meijer, others”

FDA Tells Pet Owners Not to Feed Two Dog Foods
Source :
By News Desk (Feb 20, 2017)
The FDA is advising pet owners not to feed their pets certain lots of Evander’s Hunk of Beef or Against the Grain Grain Free Pulled Beef with Gravy canned dog foods after unopened cans from both brands were found to contain pentobarbital, a barbiturate. This drug is used in animal euthanasia. It should not be in pet food.
The FDA was not able to determine from records whether any other Evanger’s or Against the Grain products made with beef contained any of the beef used in the recalled products. In addition, the FDA inspected manufacturing facilities on February 14, 2017 and found “numerous significant concerns with conditions” at the company’s Wheeling, Illinois and Markham, Illinois plants. The advisory states that “these are initial observations and do not represent a final agency determination regarding the firm.”
Avenger’s first initiated a recall of certain lots of Evanger’s 12 ounce Hunk of Beef canned dog food on February 3, 2017. During the investigation, the FDA tested two cans of Against the Grain brand canned Grain Free Pulled Beef with Gravy dog food manufactured in the same facilities as Evanger’s products and from the same supplier. Those samples also tested positive for pentobarbital. So Against the Grain voluntarily recalled one lot of that product on February 13, 2017.
Five dogs in a single household suffered acute neurological symptoms shortly after eating the Evanger’s recalled product. One dog was euthanized; there others have recovered. One of the dogs treated remains on seizure medication. The stomach contents of the deceased dog and an open can of the product were tested by an FDA Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network lab, and unopened cans of the product from the pet owner and retailer that sold the product were also tested. All of the samples tested positive for pentobarbital.
In addition, Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food Company issued a press release stating that the beef for its Hunk of Beef product came from a “USDA approved” supplier. But the FDA reviewed a bill of lading from Evanger’s supplier of “Inedible Hand Deboned Beef – For Pet Food Use Only. Not Fit For Human Consumption” and determined that the supplier’s facility does not have a grant of inspection from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The meat products from this supplier do not bear the USDA inspection mark and would not be considered human grade. USDA-FSIS regulates slaughter of animals for human consumption only.
This investigation is ongoing and includes an examination of the suppliers of beef to Evanger’s and Against the Grain to determine a possible cause for the pentobarbital. Oral exposure to pentobarbital can cause drowsiness, dizziness, excitement, loss of balance, nausea, nystagmus (eyes moving back and forth in a jerky manner), inability to stand, coma and death. Consumers who see these symptoms in their pets should consult their veterinarian.
You can report a pet food complaint to the FDA. Use the Safety Reporting Portal or call your state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator.


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