FoodHACCP Newsletter

Food Safety Job Openings

03/03. Quality Assurance Manager – Conroe, TX
03/03. QA Tech – Carthage, MO
03/03. QC Bottling Technician – Acampo, CA
03/01. QC Specialist – San Rafael, CA
03/01. Supplier Quality Technologist - Chicago, IL
03/01. Director Quality – Central, IN
02/27. Sanitation Food Scientist - Kansas City, MO
02/27. Corporate Food Safety Mgr - Atlanta, GA
02/27. Food Safety Specialist - Waukegan, IL

03/06 2017 ISSUE:746

Food safety a priority for Midland County Health Department
Source :
By John Kennett (Mar 5, 2017)
Are Midland County food establishments providing safe food in a healthy environment? Or, should residents be concerned about conditions as they dine in county eateries?
An influx of new restaurants in recent years has prompted the Daily News to look into conditions at county food establishments. Beginning in April, the Daily News will be collecting reports from the Midland County Health Department to provide readers with a monthly report including serious violations along with photos of each establishment.
The MCHD licenses and inspects more than 270 fixed food service establishments within Midland County each year. The MCHD is required by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) to inspect those establishments once every six months. However, MCHD registered sanitarians Greg Price and Bob Wolfe, along with sanitarian Alan Bloch, conduct inspections for each establishment once every five months. Both schools and seasonal food establishments are exempt from the twice yearly inspections and only require annual inspections.
The trio works for the Midland County Environmental Health Department, a division of the Midland County Health Department. Price, Wolfe and Bloch perform a variety of duties in an effort “to promote and protect the public’s health through: health promotion, disease prevention and protection of the environment.”
Price began with the MCHD in 2013 and leads current efforts to promote the food program while also promoting other programs including onsite well and septic, swimming pools, body art, long-term water monitoring and other true generalist job duties. He acts as the standardized food trainer, has been nominated as director of the Northern Michigan Environmental Health Association and is currently an associate member of Michigan Association of Local Environmental Health Administrators.
Prior to working for Midland County, Price worked as a registered sanitarian for the Mid-Michigan District Health Department in Gratiot County from 1999 to 2013. He earned a master’s of science degree from Central Michigan University in 1992 with a double major in earth science and geography along with a double concentration in environmental analysis and land use planning.
Wolfe graduated from Ferris State University in 1993, achieving a bachelor’s of science degree in industrial and environmental health management. Since then, his duties have included inspections and investigations of water and sewage treatment systems, body art facilities, campgrounds, public swimming pools and food service facilities. Along with those duties, he has taught food service education classes, provided consultation services about environmental topics, operated a small construction business and small family farming operation. He began with the county in 2002.
Foodborne illnesses
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year roughly 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die. These illnesses and deaths cost Americans billions of dollars each year due to medical expenses and loss of productivity.
The food industry and government collaborate to ensure that food provided to the public is safe. This shared responsibility extends to ensuring that consumer expectations are met and that food is unadulterated, prepared in a clean environment and honestly presented.
MCHD inspections
Individual inspections take anywhere from 45 minutes to three hours, depending on the size of the establishment.
“Inspections are more educational in nature than enforcement driven,” Price said. “Our department strives to correct violations during the inspection process.”
Food inspections fall into three categories: routine; citizen complaints; or a foodborne investigation.
Routine inspections focus on five categories, or “foodborne illness risk factors:”
• Food from unsafe sources
• Inadequate cooking
• Improper holding temperatures
• Contaminated equipment
• Poor personal hygiene
Routine inspections cover the operations, food handling, facility, hygienic practices and related aspects of a food establishment. Ideally, any violation would be corrected at the time of inspection. Each inspection has environmental sanitarians looking for three types of violations: core; priority; and priority foundational. The MDARD defines each as:
• Core violations “ ... usually relate to general sanitation, operational controls, sanitation standard operating procedures, facilities or structures, or general maintenance.”
• Priority violations “ ... whose application contributes directly to the elimination, prevention or reduction to an acceptable level, hazards associated with foodborne illness or injury and there is no other provision that more directly controls the hazard. These violations have a quantifiable measure to show control of hazards such as cooking, cooling and handwashing.”
• Priority Foundation violations are “ ... items that require the purposeful incorporation of specific actions, equipment or procedures by industry management to attain control of risk factors that contribute to foodborne illness or injury, such as personnel training, infrastructure or necessary equipment. Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a seven-step process that a food producer or establishment can use to develop an effective food safety plan. The HACCP process establishes the procedures used, identifies critical control points and aids in the development of effective control measures.”
If immediate correction is not possible, a follow-up evaluation must be conducted within 30 days when a priority or priority foundation violation is found, or a substantial number of core violations are cited but not corrected during the routine evaluation.
Even local health departments are required to undergo periodic audits. In an effort to regulate local health departments, the MDARD comes in once every three years to conduct an audit and evaluate three years of evaluation reports, enforcement procedures and policies.
New food establishments
Another important duty for the MCHD is licensing of new food establishments.
Before an eatery may open its doors to the public, it must be licensed by either the MDARD or MCHD.
Those the MCHD must inspect and approve include:
• Restaurant, cafeteria, grill, cafe, delicatessen
• Bar, brewpub, tavern, nightclub
• Rental hall, theater, commissary, catering kitchen
• Doughnut shop, lunch counter, sandwich shop, soda fountain, coffee shop
• Catering truck
• Temporary food service stand at a festival, event, flea market
• Vending machine
• Special transitory food unit
The MDARD is responsible to license:
• Retail grocery, convenience or party stores
• Bakery, fish market, butcher shop, candy store, produce market
• Food warehouse, distribution center, transfer station, public cold storage facility
• Dairy processing/manufacturing
• Bottled milk, cheese, butter, yogurt
• Large or small food processing plants
• County fairgrounds during the fair
Reporting a foodborne illness
Anyone suspecting they have gotten sick from food eaten at a restaurant or grocery store may call the Midland County Environmental Health at (989) 832-6679 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. You will need to provide the following information: Name, address, phone number (you will remain anonymous to the restaurant), name of restaurant, location/address of restaurant (it must be in Midland County), date of suspect meal, specific information about the foods you believe made you sick, three day food eating history, and when your symptoms began and what they were.
Those who would like to receive an inspection for a specific food establishment may submit a Freedom of Information Act request to the Midland County Department of Public Health. The Freedom of Information Act is a law that gives you the right to access information from the government. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government. To download an FOIA request, visit
For anyone seeking more information about food health, visit the Midland County Health Department Food Safety page at



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The Coming Storm in the Spice Industry, Part II: What the Industry Can Do
Source :
By Jeffrey L. Kornacki, Ph.D.
The Coming Storm in the Spice Industry, Part II: What the Industry Can Do
In Part I of this article,[1] it was revealed that spices are the subject of increasing recalls for food pathogens. This article focuses on what the industry can do. My perspective is that nothing short of a world-class food safety system will be adequate for U.S. spice processors to prevent and survive after such recalls.
Supplier Controls
I previously showed that spices may be produced under unsanitary conditions in Third World countries. Very often, lot identity is lost as shipments move from country to country. International spice trade organizations and the U.S. food industry should be involved in enhancing lot tracking efforts and developing and insisting upon appropriate supplier controls, including adherence to Good Agricultural Practices and compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act.
In many instances, microbiological control includes a step, often at the port of entry into the U.S., to reduce the microbial population in spices, using irradiation, ethylene oxide, propylene oxide and steam treatments. However, validation of these techniques is essential, recognizing that a treatment that effectively reduces 5–6 log CFU on one spice may have a different effect on another, due to differences in the matrix, packing density, water activity (aw), etc. Niemira[2] reviewed the effects of irradiation, microwave and alternative-energy-based treatments for low-aw foods, and Grasso et al.[3] reviewed the impact heat and steam treatments have on such foods. However, the microbial load on spices may be quite high, with 3% of dried herbs and spices having Bacillus cereus counts greater than or equal to 100,000 per gram4 and 1.5% and 1.1% Salmonella contamination of dried spices and herbs sampled at retail and production, respectively, out of 2,833 retail samples and 132 production batches tested. 
Lot Selection and Testing for Pathogens
Often, spices are purchased based on lot selection, for example, testing microbial counts or pathogen presence or absence. The distribution of microbial populations is rarely uniform and often sporadic, especially in a dry powdered product.[5,6] Even when contamination happens, the microbial populations are normally distributed when converted into logarithms, as opposed to a standard distribution. This nonuniformity should be recognized by purchasers of spices, who should insist that if “lot selection” is used, an appropriate sampling and testing plan is in place. A test from a single sample taken from a lot is not adequate. Such a plan would take into consideration the risk associated with the organism tested and whether risks increase, decrease or remain the same during storage, handling and distribution. Such plans are provided by the International Commission for the Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICMSF, Figure 1),[7] the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Bacteriological Analytical Manual (BAM)[8] and certain European plans, as summarized by Sagoo et al.,[4] shown in Figure 2. A discussion of these plans was also previously published.[9]
European criteria[4] indicate that five samples (n) per lot be tested for Salmonella, B. cereus, Clostridium perfringens and generic Escherichia coli. In this scheme, c (the number of samples allowed above m and below M) is 0 for Salmonella, with all five samples tested at the 25-g level. Since c = 0 for Salmonella, no sample may test positive and still be acceptable.
The ICMSF scheme (Figure 1) and the FDA BAM approach would suggest that n should be 15, 30 or 60, depending on the end use of the product, for Salmonella, unlike the European approach, which had five samples tested per lot. It should be noted that if thirty 25-g samples were selected, they could be composited into two 375-g test samples per FDA’s BAM.[8] Lots would need to be rejected or treated with a validated approach to destroy Salmonella if any samples from the lot tested positive.
Aerobic Plate Count (APC) Suggestions
Sometimes, a spice purchaser will establish a “low bac” specification of their own choosing. This amounts to a value of M in the ICMSF and European schemes. However, it should not be assumed that because a value of M is assigned that it is the actual maximum level in the lot. In other words, setting a value of M is not a guarantee that such levels are not present.
For example, assume that the purchaser of spices wishes to have a lot with fewer than 100,000 CFU/g for APC and they receive results of 50,000, 10,000, 70,000, 80,000 and 5,000 from five subsamples. All these values are actually less than 100,000, but is the maximum level in the lot really under 100,000 CFU/g? Transforming the data into log values to reduce the variation and account for potential log10 normal contamination results in values of 4.70, 4.00, 4.84, 4.90 and 3.70 log CFU, respectively. The average log10 CFU is thus 4.41 log CFU/g with a standard deviation of 0.49. A 95% confidence interval is approximated by ±2× the standard deviation on either side of the mean, or 0.98 in this example. Adding 0.98 to 4.41 results in 5.39 log, which exceeds our specification of 100,000 CFU/g (5 log), and the lot is very likely to have a maximum APC greater than 100,000 CFU/g, that is, closer to 260,000 CFU/g.
The best approach is to work this backward. Thus, one could add 2 or 3 standard deviations to the average of the log10 CFU/g values to set M in the case of testing for nonpathogens.
Note that if the standard deviation of the log values collected over time is 0.50 and one does not wish to receive a lot with a maximum value of more than 100,000 CFU/g, then the specification for M could be set at 5.00–1.00 (2× the standard deviation of 0.5) or 4.00 log (10,000 CFU/g). In this example, setting M equal to 10,000 CFU/g ensures that 95% of the time, the lots received should be below 100,000 CFU/g.
Appropriate Sanitization and Regulatory Philosophy
FDA regards any low-dose pathogen (Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes)-contaminated ready-to-eat food processed on the same line or portions of a line between verified cleaning and sanitization breaks to be adulterated.[10] Hence, any manufacturing lots included in this “regulatory lot” in the marketplace would be subject to recall. This highlights the importance of cleaning and sanitization to create a “clean break” and of segregating processing lines (Figure 3[11]). Thus, food produced before or after clean breaks may not be subject to recall if appropriate assurances can be provided that it is also not adulterated. But before we move on, some definitions are in order.
Cleaning is the process that removes soil. Some soils such as protein and fat can protect microbes from the effect of aqueous sanitizer, much like an umbrella protects its user from the rain. One cannot effectively sanitize a surface that is not effectively cleaned. Sanitization is the treatment that destroys vegetative (non-spore-forming) microbes of public health significance and substantially reduces the numbers of other undesirable microorganisms.
The removal of soil should be assessed visually and any unclean surfaces recleaned immediately. In addition, those surfaces in which wet cleaning is indicated can also be tested for adenosine triphosphate (ATP), protein-based assays or other suitable tests. ATP and protein-based swab approaches are likely to be unsuitable for dry cleaning validation. It should be recognized that ATP, while appropriate for assessment of wet cleaning efficacy on the sites sampled, is not appropriate for monitoring the efficacy of sanitization.[12]
Dry vs. wet cleaning
Those industries that manufacture high-moisture products unlike spices have designed equipment that can accommodate water.[10] Poorly designed equipment that traps wet product residues results in contamination of products produced on such lines, with spoilage organisms leading to loss of consumer confidence. Low-aw foods like spices are regarded as low-risk due to lack of microbial growth and spoilage, but this perception has changed in the past decade with numerous instances of low-aw food pathogen-associated recalls or outbreaks.[10] The low-risk perception associated with low-aw foods resulted in equipment that was rarely wet-cleaned and sanitized, and was often not designed to be wet-cleaned and sanitized. However, increased perception of risk as well as the need for allergen control have resulted in more frequent wet cleaning of such equipment, which results in more, not less, microbiological risk.[10] Consequently, dry approaches to cleaning and sanitizing are needed.
Dry cleaning approaches
Dry cleaning approaches can include sweeping, wiping, vacuuming and dry-ice blasting. Blowing residues with compressed air is discouraged due to aerosolization of contaminants.[13]
Dry sanitization approaches
Wet cleaning and sanitization increases microbiological risk in dry processing areas and on equipment used to process low-aw foods. What is appropriate for one piece of equipment may not be appropriate or practical for another. The following is a list of “dry” sanitization approaches:
•    Damp-mopping floors with sanitizer and restricting access to them during drying is a simple approach and may be considered a “dry” sanitization. 
•    CO2-entrained alcohol can be used for sanitizing areas of the facility. Alcohol provides an immediate lethality to populations of vegetative microorganisms but then evaporates quickly, leaving surfaces dry.
•    Wiping selected pieces of equipment with alcohol wipes can be done. One must exercise appropriate caution if in areas with risk of flammability or in confined spaces.
•    If an alcohol-based quaternary ammonium sanitizer is used, one gets the immediate alcohol-associated lethality, leaving behind a quaternary ammonium sanitizer residue, which if wetted due to processing activities will become germicidal.
•    Steaming pieces of equipment to achieve 160 °F wet heat for at least 45 minutes14 is also useful to destroy biofilms of L. monocytogenes. The heat from steaming may drive off residual moisture from equipment, as has been observed in steam chambers, which I have assisted in validating.
•    Gaseous disinfection approaches such as chlorine dioxide or ozone gases have been used. Some third parties provide these services. A similar concept is vapor-phase hydrogen peroxide. However, all such approaches need to be performed with appropriate safety precautions in place and should be validated for their efficacy with appropriate biological indicators.
Environmental Sampling and Corrective Action Programs
Salmonella is the principal organism of concern for spices and most low-aw foods, given its low infectious dose and ability to survive in low-aw environments for long periods.[15–17] Consequently, an environmental monitoring program should include Salmonella, which will facilitate determination of the efficacy of hygienic activities conducted in the plant. Companies also sample their production and near-production environments for Enterobacteriaceae (EB) counts and/or the presence/absence of hydrogen sulfide-producing EB (HTEB). The relationship between these assays is shown in Figure 4.
One typically finds HTEB before one finds Salmonella in a plant environment. Hence, early eradication of HTEB-positive sites is a tool that may prevent such sites from developing into Salmonella growth niches. HTEB sites with high EB counts are of particular concern. A listing of laboratories that provide HTEB testing can be found online.[18]
Tracking and trending Salmonella, HTEB and/or EB sites should be done with documentation of corrective actions taken. Documenting corrective action is one means of demonstrating that the facility has a food safety culture.
Preoperational Sampling Programs
Verification of the sanitization break described earlier should be documented, including identifying who performed cleaning and sanitization, what cleaning and sanitizing chemicals were used and their concentrations. Standard Operating Procedures for all cleaning and sanitizing steps (e.g., clean in place, clean out of place of removable parts and manual cleaning of stationary equipment) as well as the plant environment (ceilings, walls, floors, etc.) should be kept up to date with appropriate documented change policies. In addition, data should be generated that provide evidence that sanitization was effective. This can take the form of preoperational swabs for appropriate hygienic indicator organisms (e.g., EB and APC). In some instances, particularly after a regulatory event such as a recall, it may be appropriate to swab surfaces for the target organism (e.g., Listeria spp. or Salmonella) for a time, provided that product produced on those surfaces is held pending acceptable results. However, it should be recognized that a pathogen recovered from a preoperational surface implicates production lots on either side of the clean break.
Segregation of Lines in Time and Space
Remember, FDA regards any low-dose pathogen-contaminated ready-to-eat food processed on the same line or portions of a line between verified cleaning and sanitization breaks to be adulterated. Given that products produced on common lines or parts of lines can be implicated in recall events, segregating lines associated with different products is encouraged.
Hygienic Equipment Design and Repair Practices
Increasing pressures on the low-aw food processing industry to perform wet cleaning should be resisted unless appropriate equipment and facilities are designed to accommodate water as described earlier. The spice industry should insist that its suppliers of equipment follow appropriate hygienic design criteria, such as that provided by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).[19] GMA facility design criteria for low-aw food processing can be found online.[20]
Preventive Maintenance Programs
In my experience, most microbial contamination events in the low-aw food industry occur because of either poor sanitary design or unhygienic preventive maintenance programs. The spice industry would be well served to periodically review its own programs for performing preventive maintenance. The industry is encouraged to engage its food safety and quality professionals in this effort.
Ongoing Training
Bacteria are about 1 million times smaller than humans in every dimension and invisible. They can penetrate many areas that seem impossible to those not expecting such a profound difference in relative size. Small cracks and crevices, and even multiple layers of gaskets (e.g., on an air-operated valve stem), may permit microbes to migrate into food streams. Awareness of these potentials through appropriate training, rightly applied, can be used to prevent future recalls in the new regulatory environment in which the spice industry finds itself. 
Jeffrey L. Kornacki, Ph.D., is president of Kornacki Microbiology Solutions Inc. in Madison, WI. He is on the Editorial Advisory Board of Food Safety Magazine.
2. Niemira, BA. 2014. “Irradiation, Microwave, and Alternative Energy-Based Treatments for Low-Water Activity Foods,” in The Microbiological Safety of Low Water Activity Foods and Spices, eds. Gurtler, JB, MP Doyle and JL Kornacki (New York: Springer), 389–401.
3. Grasso, EM et al. 2014. “Steam and Heat Treatments,” in The Microbiological Safety of Low Water Activity Foods and Spices, eds. Gurtler, JB, MP Doyle and JL Kornacki (New York: Springer), 403–424.
4. Sagoo, SK et al. 2009. “Assessment of the Microbiological Safety of Dried Spices and Herbs from Production and Retail Premises from the United Kingdom.” Food Microbiol 26:39–43.
5. Kornacki, JL. 2010. “How Many Samples Do I Take?” in Principles of Microbiological Troubleshooting in the Industrial Food Processing Environment, ed. Kornacki, JL (New York: Springer), 137–146.
6. Courdier, JL. 2014. “Methodological and Sampling Challenges in Testing Spices and Low-Water Activity Food for the Presence of Foodborne Pathogens,” in The Microbiological Safety of Low Water Activity Foods and Spices, eds. Gurtler, JB, MP Doyle and JL Kornacki (New York: Springer), 367–386.
7. ICMSF. 2002. Microorganisms in Foods 7: Microbiological Testing in Food Safety Management (New York: Kluwer Academic Plenum Publishers).
9. Kornacki, JL. 2011. “Practical Sampling Plans, Indicator Microorganisms, and Interpretation of Test Results from Microbiological Troubleshooting,” in Rapid Detection and Quantification of Foodborne Pathogens, ed. Hoorfar, J (Washington, DC: ASM Press), 373–379.
10. Kornacki, JL. 2012. “Hygiene Control in the Dry Food Products Industry: The Roles of Cleaning Methods and Hygienic Indicators,” in Case Studies in Food Safety and Authenticity: Lessons from Real-Life Situations, ed. Hoorfar, J (Cambridge, UK: Woodhead Publishing), 254–266.
11. Stanfield, P. 2003. “Cleaning and Sanitizing a Food Plant,” in Food Plant Sanitation, eds. Hui, YH, BL Bruinsma, JR Gorham, WK Nip, PS Tong and P Ventresca (New York: Marcel Dekker), 101–114.
12. Kornacki, JL. 2010. “How Do I Sample the Environment and Equipment?” in Principles of Microbiological Troubleshooting in the Industrial Food Processing Environment, ed. Kornacki, JL (New York: Springer), 125–136.
14. Chmielewski, RA and JF Frank. 2004. “A Predictive Model for Heat Inactivation of Listeria monocytogenes Biofilm on Stainless Steel.” J Food Prot 67(12):2712–8.
15. Gurtler, JB, MP Doyle and JL Kornacki. 2014. “The Microbiological Safety of Spices and Low-Water Activity Foods: Correcting Historic Misassumptions,” in The Microbiological Safety of Low Water Activity Foods and Spices, eds. Gurtler, JB, MP Doyle and JL Kornacki (New York: Springer), 3–13.
16. Kornacki, JL. 2014. “Processing Plant Investigations: Practical Approaches to Determining Sources of Persistent Bacterial Strains in the Industrial Food Processing Environment,” in The Microbiological Safety of Low Water Activity Foods and Spices, eds. Gurtler, JB, MP Doyle and JL Kornacki (New York: Springer), 67–83.
17. Bean, DC and LS Post. 2014. “Chocolate and Confectionary,” in The Microbiological Safety of Low Water Activity Foods and Spices, eds. Gurtler, JB, MP Doyle and JL Kornacki (New York: Springer), 269–293.

Food Safety: Steam more effective at removing pathogens on cantaloupes
Source :
By NEWS DESK (Mar 5, 2017)
Steam can more effectively combat E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria on cantaloupes than traditional removal methods. That’s the finding of an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist in Pennsylvania.
Dike Ukuku and his colleagues at the ARS Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Unit in Wyndmoor has demonstrated that a relatively inexpensive steam cleaner designed to remove wallpaper and clean outdoor grills can rid cantaloupes of E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria more effectively than existing washes and chlorine treatments.
The ARS study involved submerging cantaloupes in a bath inoculated with E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria strains. After drying and refrigeration, the cantaloupes were cleaned with a commercially available power steamer. The technique produced sufficient heat to kill surface pathogens but not enough heat to damage the fruits.
Pathogen levels on the surfaces of the steam-treated melons were generally 1,000 times lower than those on untreated melons. Pathogens on cut-up pieces of the cantaloupes were reduced beyond detection. Pathogen levels on steam-treated cantaloupes were about 100 times lower than those found on cantaloupes sanitized with chlorine.
Processors and distributors could apply steam when cantaloupes are put into washers or as they are moved on conveyor belts during processing, Ukuku says. The technique also may effectively sanitize watermelons, honeydews, cucumbers and baby carrots.
The new technology could reduce the number of foodborne disease outbreaks from contaminated produce, which annually cause nearly one million illnesses and more than 100 deaths.
Read more at USDA AgResearch Magazine

Produce Farmers Place New Emphasis On Food Safety
Source :
By Karen Faster (Mar 3, 2017)
University Place: Best Practices Minimize Pathogens, Boost Food Quality And Shelf Life
Farmers who follow food safety best practices produce better quality produce that last longer on the market and in consumers' kitchens. The harvest, storage and handling processes intended to minimize pathogens that cause illness in humans also target the organisms that cause produce to decay.
An emphasis on food safety practices at the farm level is growing. University of Wisconsin-Extension organic agriculture specialist Erin Silva discussed these practices and new federal regulations in a Nov. 12, 2015, lecture recorded for Wisconsin Public Television's University Place.
Farmers don't want their customers to get sick, and they don't want to be liable should a foodborne illness break out, Silva said. Meanwhile, growing competition means wholesalers are asking farmers for written food safety plans before allowing them access to produce auctions or grocery stores.
A food safety plan encompasses a farm's practices to ensure its products are safe and the presence of pathogens is minimized, said Silva, who is a professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at UW-Madison. Farmers choose to devise these plans, which do not involve anyone inspecting their operations. Food buyers may have a plan template they want farmers to follow, though. The documentation buyers may request can take several forms, she said, including third-party audits.
A third-party audit does involve someone coming to a farm to review its food safety plan and the practices it outlines, Silva said. Most farms pay for such an audit only when a buyer requires it.
"If farm[er]s are wanting to sell their produce to those specific buyers, they do need to be very diligent and very deliberate about establishing food safety plans and addressing food safety on their farm[s]," she said.
Farmers care about the public perception of their foods and about specific consumer sectors such as farmers' markets and institutional purchasers, Silva explained. The public is aware of foodborne illness outbreaks that can be traced to produce, which could be especially problematic for farms that sell directly through farmers' markets or community-supported agriculture systems.
The federal government has new sets of rules for produce food safety that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration crafted under the Food Safety Modernization Act. Since it was passed in 2011, this law's requirements have gradually been defined and implemented, but they remain subject to changing federal priorities.
Key facts
About 48 million people get sick from foodborne illness every year in the U.S. About 9 million of these illnesses are caused by major pathogens. Produce accounts for about 46 percent of those illnesses, many acquired from eating leafy green or vine-stalk vegetables, including tomatoes, cantaloupe and melons. Twenty-three percent of deaths from foodborne illness are due to produce.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks outbreaks of foodborne illness. For example, a 2011 outbreak of listeriosis linked to cantaloupe grown in Colorado caused 147 illnesses and 33 deaths. A 2006 outbreak of E. coli from spinach, which caused 276 illnesses and three deaths, including one in Wisconsin, prompted wide-ranging changes in how the U.S. deals with produce food safety. In 2014, Salmonella-tainted cucumbers caused an outbreak that led to 275 illnesses and one death.
People with immunodeficiencies are more susceptible to foodborne illness. More people have compromised immune systems than in the past due to cancer; chronic diseases such as kidney failure, diabetes and cirrhosis; medications; and other reasons.
The Food Safety Modernization Act affects the majority of U.S. farms that grow and sell vegetable crops. Very small farms have until  2018 and in some cases 2019 to implement the regulations. The act's produce rule sets new standards for farms on a broad set of issues, including: personnel qualifications and training; health and hygiene; agricultural water use; biological soil amendments and manure; management of domesticated and wild animals; growing, harvesting and packing food for sale; the use of equipment, tools and buildings; and more.
Key quotes
On food safety and the food system: "Versus a century ago, we do have a more dispersed food system where produce on larger farms can reach a wider range of individuals. So if one farm has a food safety outbreak, it can hit a lot more individuals than when we had smaller farms with more of a more local distribution system."
On food safety and natural immunity: "There is some thought that when more people were working out on farms that were exposed to livestock manure, that were exposed to the microorganisms that tended to be in the irrigation water or the soil, that natural immunities were more prevalent. And now that we have more population that is separated from our agriculture systems, there could be an issue with less natural immunity in the population."
On the value of a food safety plan: "It does show that you've had, as a farmer, intentionality and some focus and forethought with respect to risk on your farm and what you're going to do to mitigate that risk."
On the Food Safety Modernization Act: "Farmers [should be] aware that this is an approachable goal for their farm and … the majority of farms across the state are already incorporating many of these practices … We have a very safe food supply in general… These are many practices that are often employed on farms anyway."
On farm employee training. "Even temporary employees or volunteers coming on the farm must be made aware of the food safety plan and the practices that are integrated into that plan."
On toilet use and hand-washing: "Similar to if you're preparing food in your kitchen, something that I tell my kids on a daily basis: Wash your hands. It's a primary avenue for spread of disease organisms. So, similar to in your household, also on the farm, training employees and providing those facilities, those sources of potable water, those sources of single-use hand towels will prevent spread of disease from your employee to the produce."
On recall and traceability procedures: "Having a farmer be able to know what field produce was harvested from; where that produce was then going to with respect to end users; which [community-supported agriculture] boxes, which farmers' market: That has to be integrated within the record keeping so that if something was to be deemed of risk ... if then they realize that perhaps that there was a wild animal intrusion or that there was some higher load of microorganisms in the irrigation water ... they can be proactive and recall that produce before a food safety issue was to occur."
On farm risk assessment: "Farmers should be able to walk through their farm and assess any food safety risks in terms of prior land use. Is there any potential of any sort of chemical contamination on their farm? This tends to be less of a risk, but they should be thinking about that. They should think about where there could be intrusion from wildlife, domestic animals and livestock, whether it be on their own farm or from a neighboring farm. … Areas [that] may be prone to flooding that could cause contamination from water … [should be documented] on farm maps."

Top 10 Food Safety Testing and Technologies Trends 2017-2022: Food Safety, GM Safety, Pathogen, Meat Speciation, Authenticity, Pesticide Residue, Mycotoxin, Allergen, Water, and Bottled Water - Research and Markets
Source :
By Eastern Standard Time (Mar 2, 2017)
The top 10 food safety testing and technologies market to reach a market size of USD 39.47 billion by 2022
This market covered two segments - food safety testing and water safety testing & technologies. The food safety testing industry includes food safety testing market, GM food safety testing market, food pathogen testing market, meat speciation testing market, food authenticity testing market, pesticide residue testing market, mycotoxin testing market, and food allergen testing market. The water safety testing & technologies industry includes water testing and analysis and bottled water testing.
The growth of the food safety testing market is estimated to be high in most regions. Increase in foodborne illness outbreaks, implementation of stringent food safety regulations globalization of food supply, and availability of advanced technology capable of rapid testing are the major driving factors of this market. On the other hand, lack of food control infrastructure & resources in developing countries, and lack of awareness about safety regulations among food manufacturers are major hindrances for the growth of the market, globally. Change in lifestyles, increase in demand for convenience foods, and increase in food trade and export and import across borders in emerging markets have been key opportunities for the food safety testing market.
Key Companies Mentioned
ALS Limited
Asurequality Ltd.
Bureau Veritas S.A.
Eurofins Scientific Se
Intertek Group Plc
Merieux Nutrisciences Corporation
Microbac Laboratories, Inc.
Romer Labs Diagnostic Gmbh
Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc.
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WHO Publishes List of Bacteria That Need New Antibiotics
Source :
By News Desk (Mar 1, 2017)
The World Health Organization (WHO) has published its first ever list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health and which urgently need new types of antibiotics. These bacteria are resistant to some last-resort antibiotics.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotic-resistant bacteria kill 23,000 Americans every year. And antibiotic resistant bacteria are present in every country on earth.
The list highlights gram-negative bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics. These pathogens are constantly evolving to resist new drugs, and they can pass genetic material to other bacteria so they can become drug resistant too.
Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation said in a statement, “This list is a new tool to ensure R&D responds to urgent public health needs. Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we are fast running out of treatment options. If we leave it to market forces alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time.”
The list is divided into three categories according to the urgency of need to new drugs: Critical, high, and medium priority. The most critical group includes Enterobacteriaceae, which includes Klebsiella and E. coli. Those pathogens can cause severe and often deadly bloodstream infections. Those bacteria have developed resistance to third generation cephalosporins and carbapenems, which are the best available antibiotics for treating multi-drug resistant bacteria.
The second category tier includes Staphylococcus aureus, Helicobacter pylori, fluoroquinolone-resistant Campylobacter, and fluoroquinolone-resistant Salmonella. The third tier includes fluoroquinolone-resistant Shigella bacteria. All of those bacteria are familiar to those in the food safety industry.
WHO hopes that this list will spur governments to advance policies that incentive basic science and advanced R&D by publicly funded agencies such as the FDA and CDC, and by the private sector. Professor Evalina Tacconelli, head of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Tübingen said, “new antibiotics targeting this priority list of pathogens will help to reduce deaths due to resistant infections around the world. Waiting any longer will cause further public health problems and dramatically impact patient care.”
WHO ended its news release by stating that while more research and development is vital, it can’t solve the problem alone. We must prevent infections by these pathogenic bacteria, and use antibiotics in both humans and animals appropriately. And when new antibiotics are developed, they must be used rationally and not overprescribed.

Cage-free hens don’t improve egg food safety, nutrition levels
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By DAN FLYNN (Mar 1, 2017)
There’s no food safety argument to be made for cage-free eggs versus those from chickens in other types of housing, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Nor are cage-free eggs more nutritious.
In what animal activists see as a defeat, a three-judge appeals panel for the 9th Circuit ruled on Feb. 27  in favor of the federal government’s top food safety agencies on a question of egg carton labeling. In the findings, the panel’s rulings on food safety and the nutritional value of cage-free eggs might raise some doubts about the direction egg production seems to be going.
The plaintiff’s, led by Compassion over Killing and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, sought to persuade the judges — who were all appointed by President Bill Clinton — that caged hens produce eggs that are nutritionally inferior and that carry a greater risk of Salmonella contamination. The veteran panel of judges included: Michael Daly Hawkins, Marsha S. Berzon and Mary H. Murguia.
The 9th Circuit panel’s decision stops just short of calling those claims as “junk science.”
“To the extent plaintiffs’ petition argues that egg production methods were an omitted material fact that required disclosure because the hens’ living conditions affect the likelihood of Salmonella-contamination or the nutritional value of eggs, the FDA explained that the plaintiffs had provided insufficient reliable scientific evidence to support these claims,” the ruling says.
The three-judge panel said it did not want to “second guess” the Food and Drug Administration on the food safety and nutrition points, saying courts should be deferential to reviews of scientific judgements and technical analysis when its within an agency’s expertise.
FDA, which along with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) was a defendant in the litigation, made extensive arguments about food safety and nutrition values of egg production when the case was before the U.S. District Court for Northern California.
“Plaintiffs erroneously contend that the studies submitted with their petition demonstrate a causal connection between caged hens and an increase risk of Salmonella infection,” government attorneys argued. “FDA carefully reviewed and evaluated each of the studies plaintiffs provided and found them insufficient to establish that, based on production method alone, a conclusion about the relative risk of Salmonella in particular eggs could be made.”
FDA reviewed every study the animal activists presented and found each one “lacking” with “multiple and significant limitations” and providing “insufficient evidence” that caged hens produce eggs wih a higher incidence of Salmonella than eggs from cage-free hens.
FDA also pointed to some studies presented that “contradicted the conclusion desired by plaintiffs.” The animal activist studies, according to FDA, failed to control for non-housing variables such as flock size, age of buildings, history of Salmonella and geographic locations, and uniform sampling sizes.
As for nutritional value, it was much the same.
In court filings, attorneys for the government said: “FDA’s careful evaluation revealed that all of the studies submitted by plaintiffs to show that eggs produced by caged hens are nutritionally inferior failed to control for variables other than production method. That is, the studies failed to control the hens’ diet, location, and age, or the breed of hens, which made it impossible to determine to what extent, if any, the observed  differences could be attributed to the production environment — i.e., caged versus free-range.”
The 9th Circuit panel affirmed the lower court’s grant of a summary judgement to the defendants, which was handed down by Vince G. Chhabria, the district’s presiding judge who was appointed by President Barack Obama.
Cage-free eggs are in demand because many retailers and restaurant chains have made promises to cease using eggs produced by hens kept in cages at some date in the future. Many have set 2025 as an outside target for making the switch.
To meet all the increased demand for cage-free eggs such changes are projected to create, producers will have to invest $9 to $10 billion to switch to cage-free housing, according to some industry estimates. Cage-free eggs currently cost $1 to $2 more per dozen than eggs from hens kept in battery cages.
Most companies who announce they are switching to cage-free eggs say they are doing so because more humane treatment is favored by their customers.

Food Safety Authority of Ireland issued 39 food alert warnings last year – highest figure in a decade
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By Craig Farrell (Mar 1, 2017)
A TOTAL of 67 food alerts and allergen warnings were issued last year – including a decade high of 39 food alerts issued.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) released the food warning figures for 2016 which showed that 39 food alerts and 28 food allergen alerts were issued.
The 2016 food allergen alert figure compares favourable to the 36 warnings released in 2015. However, there was a significant increase in the number of food alerts issued last year as the figure rose by eight compared to the previous year. It was also the highest the figure has been in ten years.
The 39 food alerts resulted in either product recalls or withdrawals from the Irish market. These can occur for a number of reasons such as food contamination, the presence of unauthorised food ingredients or insufficient sterilisation to name but a few.
Food alerts are notifications issued by the FSAI to food inspectors and businesses relating to an identified hazard.
These can be either a biological, chemical or physical agent with the potential to cause an adverse health effect.
Food allergen warnings are alerts to possible risks of food allergies or food intolerance from a particular food.
Reasons why food allergen alerts are issued include the undeclared presence of an allergen or inadequate/incorrect allergen labelling of a food.
In 2016, the FSAI dealt with 554 food incidents and 67 food alerts and food allergen alerts were issued, as a consequence.
These food incidents can lead to either a withdrawal of a certain product from food businesses or a recall from consumers.
The identification of a food incident can arise for a number of reasons such as an inspection by a food inspector; a complaint from a consumer; the food business informing the FSAI that they have a problem with a certain food; laboratory results; or notifications from other Member States through the European Commission’s network.
Dr Pamela Byrne, FSAI Chief Executive said consumers have the right to safe and accurately labelled food so they can make informed purchasing decisions.
She said: “Issuing food alerts and food allergen alerts is a reflection of the seriousness of food incidents, some of which have the potential to cause serious harm to consumers. The increase in recent years of food allergen alerts and food alerts is indicative of the need for food businesses to not only ensure the food they place on the market is safe, but that it is also labelled correctly, especially in the case of allergens.
“We urge food businesses to take their responsibilities seriously, to have robust food safety management systems in place and to take full advantage of all the information and support provided to ensure they are meeting their food safety obligations.”
In the EU, there are 14 categories of allergens that must be labelled or declared and failure to do so may result in a food allergen alert being issued.
In Ireland, milk, soybeans, eggs and nuts were the most common allergens incorrectly labelled/declared in 2016.
Three in every 100 people in Ireland have a food allergy and the seriousness of these occurrences can result in the loss of life to an individual in its most extreme form and can also result in urgent medical treatment and serve allergic reactions.
The main reasons for allergen alerts last year was usually the allergen being unknowingly incorporated in a product by the company and therefore, not listed in the ingredients.

In leaked audio, Trump criticizes Japan’s food safety rules
Source :
By (Mar 1, 2017)
U.S. President Donald Trump criticized Japan’s safety regulations on food imports in a leaked conversation from mid-December when he was president-elect, news site Gizmodo has reported.
The report, published on Monday, is based on audio from a leaked video of what appears to be a Dec. 13 phone conversation between Trump and Wilbur Ross, then the nominee for secretary of commerce. Ross officially took up that post on Wednesday.
The recording was provided to Gizmodo anonymously, the site reported.
In the conversation, Trump expressed his intention to strengthen quarantine checks on Japanese food products. This suggests that he may criticize policy on agricultural trade with Japan in the future, including in planned bilateral economic dialogue.
“If you look at Japan, what they do with food … they say it’s not clean enough, and you have to send it back,” Trump said in the conversation.
Ross agreed and advised Trump “not to say it’s punitive, but in the interest of American safety” when strengthening quarantine measures on Japanese food imports.
Gizmodo said the conversation was recorded at a location that houses the offices of Ross’ private equity firm in Manhattan. The location was determined by checking metadata on the leaked video, the site said.
Neither Trump nor Ross can be seen in the video, which appears to have been taken while Ross was speaking in the next room, with Trump’s voice audible through a speaker phone, Gizmodo said.
As of Tuesday, the White House had not responded to requests for comment.
The video can bee viewed in full on the Gizmodo website.

Canada Catching Up On Food Safety — Beef Irradiation Approved
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By Ruth Kava (Feb 27, 2017)
Canada recently (finally) approved the use of irradiation to safeguard fresh and frozen ground beef. The United States has allowed its use for that purpose (and many others) since 1999. And over 60 countries world-wide also permit the use of this safe deterrent for foodborne illness. According to Health Canada (their version of the FDA), irradiation is permitted only on potatoes, onions, wheat, flour, whole wheat flour, spices and dehydrated seasonings, and now on ground beef.
As in the United States, Canadian foods that are irradiated must carry the radura — the radiation symbol, seen below, as well as text stating that the item has been irradiated.
Although we've discussed the benefits and lack of risks of food irradiation many times in the past (for example see here), it's worth reviewing some of the most salient points about the process.
First, use of low-dose irradiation kills pathogenic organisms such as E. coli, Salmonella, and other bacteria, as well as parasites that might be present in foods (e.g. Trichinella in pork). It cannot and does not make food radioactive. Properly applied, food irradiation doesn't alter the appearance or taste of foods. Since it is used at the end of processing (in the case of ground meat, after the meat has been ground), there are fewer chances for recontamination.
Irradiation can also improve the shelf life of some fresh foods. For example, it can reduce or eliminate sprouting of potatoes. Irradiation of dried herbs and spices can eliminate molds and help preserve freshness, and treatment of imported fresh produce can eliminate exotic pests and prevent their dispersal.
When ionizing radiation is produced by electron beam or X-ray machines (such as are used for dental X-rays), no radioactive material is needed, and there is no radioactive waste produced.
So we hope that our neighbors to the north take advantage of this modern technology to enhance the freshness and safety of their food supply, and extend their approval of irradiation to other foods.
On a clear IoT day, you can see data forever and evermore
Source :
By LAURA MUSHRUSH (Feb 27, 2017)
The second in a four-part series brought to you by Par Technology Corp.
It doesn’t matter whether a grower or food packing facility is 5 or 5,000 miles away from Megan Arnold’s office at Robinson Fresh, because within seconds her food safety analysis can begin with pinpointed data at the tips of her fingers.
A decade ago, the food sourcing sister to C.H. Robinson, a third-party global logistics giant currently operating in 36 countries, was operating on spreadsheets and watching its growth rapidly outpace the capabilities of its technology.
“I was thinking, ‘This is not sustainable because we were growing and growing,’ ” said Arnold, director of food safety at Robinson Fresh. “So we looked into a lot of different systems to help manage all of our data and partnered with a company to tailor a program to not only fit our needs, but our growers’ needs and customers’ needs as well.”
Its data tracking program, which utilizes the Internet of Things, otherwise known as IoT technology, has revolutionized the way Robinson Fresh tracks essential food safety and business management metrics through efficiently connecting the complex web of channels within the company.
Want to know the results of the surprise audit completed this morning or test results from water samples taken by a grower in Brazil? Once upon a time, it could have taken days to fully answer questions like these, but now all Arnold has to do is log onto the online cloud storage base and it is all there.
Like all new and flash things, the latest and greatest technology is very attractive — sexy even. But without purpose, it is essentially worthless. Will Daniels, president of Fresh Integrity Group Inc., said for a food company to be a fit for IoT, it must first reflect and identify what is needed to bring value to the investment.
“The company needs to be hungry for the data — hungry for the results of the data and a desire to use that data,” Daniels said. “In my opinion, it is somewhat of a challenging task to connect this Internet of Things to be meaningful, to make sense.”
According to Daniels, companies should implement a short-term IoT plan by going after low-hanging fruit and identify easy connection opportunities that require minimal work to activate. Then, go after the long-term plan with a bigger picture and more detailed oriented mindset.
“For example, at a freshcut processing facility, there is a lot of data being collected around wash line performance, such as temperature and chemical levels,” Daniels said.
“It is really good data when everything is working right, but the sensors collecting it can cloud over and become less reliable. So if you don’t have a maintenance crew who understands the importance of keeping those sensors maintained, you lose the value.”
This is a common problem Daniels has seen when working with food companies. Sometimes it happens when maintenance contracts change hands, sometimes when there’s turnover within a company. To avoid inconsistencies in IoT collection and interpretation, he recommends food companies build a system of process management that can transfer from one owner to the next.
While integrating IOT into a food company is a complex and resource consuming process, the payouts can be significant.
For Robinson Fresh, the ability to pinpoint and fix a problem immediately though data tracking while maintaining a connected global supply chain has made IoT indispensable.
“Do you research on a company and find one that fits your operation,” Arnold recommends to food companies exploring IoT. “This is definitely where we are going as an industry, and if you are not doing it yet, then I suggest you take the steps to start.”

UK Experts Urge Shoppers to Wash Hands After Handling Chicken Packages
Source :
By News Desk (Feb 27, 2017)
We all know that raw chicken can contain pathogenic bacteria such as Campylobacter and Salmonella. But experts were more concerned with the bacteria on the inside of the basic plastic supermarket wrapping. Now experts in the UK are warning shoppers to wash their hands after handling these packages, since the bacteria could also be on the outside.
An investigation by the Daily Telegraph found that the plastic exterior of more than 1 in every 100 raw chickens sold in Britain may have a potentially infectious level of Campylobacter bacteria. That means that 9,000,000 packages of chicken are sold with a “dangerous dose of deadly bacteria on the outside.” When a shopper picks up a package of chicken, then snacks on food while shopping, they could get sick.
Campylobacter is the leading cause of food poisoning in the UK. At least 485,000 cases are estimated every year, and about 100 people die. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) had thought that the risk of people getting sick because of bacteria on the exterior of chicken packages “extremely unlikely.”
Dr. Lisa Ackerley, an independent food hygiene expert, told the Telegraph that, “I strongly suspect that many food poisoning cases are from cross contamination, which may involve the spread of bacteria from contaminated hands to mouth as well as via contaminated food.”
[Editor’s note: Whenever I pick up a package of raw meat or chicken in the supermarket, I use one of the plastic bags the store provides and use that as a bag over my hand. I pick up the package and then pull the bag on my hand over the package to make sure I don’t touch it.]
The Telegraph article states that supermarkets did not offer small plastic bags to shoppers so they could separate the raw chicken from other food in the shopping cart. The FSA had requested that action.
The FSA released a survey in 2016 of Campylobacter on fresh chickens. That survey found that 73% of chickens sold in the UK tested positive for Campylobacter, and 7% of packaging tested positive for the presence of Campylobacter. That survey also listed the major retailers in the UK, along with the sample numbers for each.
Cross-contamination from rinsing the chicken before cooking, from not properly cleaning work surfaces and utensils after they touch raw chicken, from not properly washing hands after touching the raw meat, and from improperly storing raw chicken near fresh foods, can make people sick.  Chicken must be cooked to 160°F, and tested with a meat thermometer, to make sure all bacteria present on the product are destroyed before serving.


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