FoodHACCP Newsletter



Food Safety Job Openings

03/24. Quality Control Supervisor – Sublette, KS
03/24. Supv FSQA – Newbern, TN
03/24. QA Superintendent – Boise, ID
03/22. QA Technologist - Norwood, MA
03/22. Food Quality & Safety Manager - Denver, CO
03/22. QA Technician – Watsonville, CA
03/21. Quality Assurance Manager – Larsen Bay, AK
03/20. Quality Assurance Manager – Waco, TX
03/20. Mgr Raw Mat’l Food Safety & Qual – Salinas, CA
03/20. Food Safety Engineer – San Fernando, CA

03/27 2017 ISSUE:749

China resumes importing Brazilian meat; others appear to be following
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/03/china-resumes-importing-brazilian-meat-others-appear-to-be-following/#.WNhpUvmLSUl
By NEWS DESK (Mar 26, 2017)
China is back buying Brazilian meat, apparently satisfied the bribes being paid to meat inspectors don’t threaten long term food safety.
“The regularization of the Brazilian meat entrance into China shows the spirit of mutual trust between the two countries and willingness to dialogue in food faith,” Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply said.
China temporarily suspended imports of meat from Brazil on March 20, an action Brazil said amounted only to “preventive measures so that we had the opportunity to offer all the necessary explanations and to guarantee the quality of our sanitary inspection.”
“We are grateful for the gesture of confidence of China, our strategic partner, in the credibility of the Brazilian system,” the statement concluded.
China is Brazil’s largest meat purchaser, accounting for about $1.75 billion of the country’s $13.5 billion in chicken, beef, and pork products exports.
A Federal Police investigation of bribes being paid to meat inspectors, known as Operation Weak Flesh, became public on March 17 as arrests were made and warrants executed in 21 Brazilian meat processing facilities.
Egypt also resumed buying Brazilian beef following a two day suspension. South Korea is also back buying poultry from Brazil’s BRF SA after just a day out of the market.
As soon as the scandal broke, Brazil began working its trading partners with assurances that the Federal Police were targeting people who took bribes, not over a sudden uptick in meat unfit for export.
Those assurances are being played out at the highest levels. Brazil President Michael Temer is expected to call Chinese leader Xi Jinping soon to express his appreciation. Brazil is the source of more than 85 percent of China’s poultry imports. Market sources in the U.S. and the European Union have been limited since 2015 because of avian flu outbreaks.
The Federal Police investigation has not entirely played out, and just how damaging its findings might be won’t be known until it unfolds in the Brazilian judiciary.

REVEALED: Your postcode defines how SAFE your food is
Source : http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/food/783361/food-safety-standards-hygiene-vary-across-britain
By express.co.uk (Mar 25, 2017)
With around 500,000 food poisoning cases a year, the latest Which? research reveals there is still a huge variation in food hygiene standards across the country, with one in five high or medium risk food establishments failing to meet requirements.
Which? found that in 20 local authority areas the chances of someone buying from a food business that is not meeting hygiene requirements was as high as 1 in 3, and in the lowest-rated local authority area, Hyndburn in Lancashire, this rose to nearly 2 in every 3 outlets.
As the Food Standards Agency undertakes a fundamental review of how the food enforcement system works, Which? analysed data submitted to the FSA and Food Standards Scotland by 386 UK local authorities and ranked those local authority areas based on: the proportion of medium and high risk premises meeting hygiene requirements, the proportion of total premises rated for risk, and the proportion of planned interventions (such as inspections or follow up actions) the authorities achieved.
The lowest ranking local authority areas according to Which?'s analysis include:
• Hyndburn in Lancashire was the local authority area with the lowest ranking with only 35 per cent of its medium and high risk businesses meeting acceptable hygiene standards.
• Birmingham, with 8071 food businesses, was second from bottom overall, with only 59 per cent of medium to high risk businesses found to be broadly compliant with hygiene rules. In contrast, 82 per cent of medium to high risk businesses were compliant in Leeds, which has a comparable total of 7603 premises.
• Four London local authority areas (Newham, Ealing, Lewisham and Camden) were all ranked in the bottom 10.
The highest ranking local authority areas according to Which?'s analysis include:
• Erewash in Derbyshire, which topped the table with a 97 per cent compliance rate.
• Sunderland as the highest ranking Metropolitan Borough in England.
• The five most improved local authority areas since our analysis two years ago are: Bexley, Sunderland, Stock port, South Cambridgeshire and Barrow-in Furness.
Bexley is now ranked number one in London, despite being bottom of the UK-wide table four years ago.
With food production becoming ever more complex at a time when the resources of regulators and Local Authorities are under pressure, the FSA and FSS review will look at options such as tighter checks when a food business opens and how data from businesses can be used more effectively.
However, Which? is concerned that proposed reforms could see a potential shift towards more inspections being carried out by third parties employed by businesses in place of checks by public authorities.
Which? is calling on the regulators to ensure that a robust food standards system is put in place that serves consumer interests and avoids any conflicts of interest.
In a landscape that is heavily underpinned by EU regulation, a comprehensive strategy for enforcement post-Brexit is needed, as the UK is likely to take on much more responsibility for checks on imported food products.
Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home Services said: "People expect their food to be safe, but there is clearly still work to be done.
"As we prepare to leave the EU, the Government and regulators need to ensure that there is a robust, independent system of enforcement in place "to give people confidence that the food they're eating is hygienic".

Video: Vulto Creamery Listeria Outbreak Update
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/vulto-creamery-listeria-outbreak-update/#.WNhuIfnyiUl
By BILL MARLER (Mar 25, 2017)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local officials, has identified Ouleout cheese from Vulto Creamery of Walton, New York, as the likely source of an outbreak of listeriosis in six people from four states. Two of the six people have died.
The agencies have been investigating this outbreak since January 31, 2017. After gathering evidence about various cheeses eaten by the people who became ill, CDC identified Ouleout cheese from Vulto Creamery as the likely cause of the outbreak.
After being informed of a positive test conducted on a retail sample of Ouleout cheese by the FDA, Vulto Creamery began contacting its customers to return Ouleout cheese on March 3, 2017, and on March 7 announced a recall of its Ouleout cheese along with its Miranda, Heinennellie, and Willowemoc cheeses.
On March 8, 2017, FDA received positive test results from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets confirming samples of Ouleout cheese that matched the genetic fingerprint of Listeria monocytogenes in the outbreak.
The CDC reports that six people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from Connecticut, Florida, New York and Vermont. Illnesses started on dates ranging from September 1, 2016, to January 22, 2017. All six people were hospitalized and two people died. Ill people ranged in age from less than one year to 89, with a median age of 55.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Listeria outbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.
If you or a family member became ill with a Listeria infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Listeria attorneys for a free case evaluation.

 

 

 


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New “Filthy Food Bill” Would Cripple U.S. Food Safety
Source : http://www.legalreader.com/new-filthy-food-bill-would-cripple-u-s-food-safety/
By Brianna Smith (Mar 23, 2017)
Many can agree that food safety should be a top priority for lawmakers and food companies alike. After all, proper food safety protocols are what keep consumers safe from foodborne illnesses like salmonella and E. coli. Unfortunately, some legislators in Congress are proposing an “unrelenting gauntlet of regulatory obstacles” for all new food safety rules, known as the Regulatory Accountability Act. The Regulatory Accountability Act has already passed the House, and will “require endless studies of potential agency alternatives and subject new rules to layers upon layers of judicial review and congressional approval.” Now that it’s been approved in the House, the Senate is working on drafting up its own version. This is bad news for consumers and food safety advocates across the country.
So what exactly would legislation like the Regulatory Accountability Act mean for food safety in the U.S. if it’s passed? According to Food Safety News, before new safety rules can be adopted, “agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture would first have to consider an endless array of regulatory options.” After that, proposed rules would have to “withstand two layers of review by judges newly charged to second-guess agency experts” before having to be approved by BOTH the Senate and the House. With so many obstacles, many worry that very few, if any, new food safety rules will ever pass. Because of this, some have begun referring to the legislation as the “Filthy Food Bill.”
Wondering why consumers should be alarmed over the “Filthy Food Bill?” Well, for those unaware, many of the food safety rules we have in place today have “saved thousands of lives and prevented millions of illnesses.” All you have to do is look at examples mentioned by Food Safety News to realize how important food safety rules are. One of these examples mentions how the USDA issued a rule to “ban the sale of hamburgers contaminated” with E. coli bacteria after four children died from consuming the pathogen. Rules like this one keep consumers safe and save lives, but if the Regulatory Accountability Act or other laws like it are allowed to pass, life-saving laws like the one issued by the USDA might be a thing of the past.
Laws like the Regulatory Accountability Act aren’t progress. Instead, they take us backward where we shouldn’t be, especially considering the fact that “unsafe food continues to kill 3,000 Americans every year and send 128,000 to hospitals.” With so many food-related deaths and illnesses each year still occurring, now is not the time to be passing laws that will make our food less safe and more prone to contamination.
Sources:
‘Filthy Food Bill’ draws fire from host of food safety advocates
Under-The-Radar Legislation Threatens To Undermine Federal Protection Of Health And Environment

China's food safety plan includes alignment with international standards
Source : http://www.world-grain.com/articles/news_home/World_Grain_News/2017/03/Chinas_food_safety_plan_includ.aspx?ID=%7BCB75E0DC-4CDE-44A7-AA32-42E6614FBCBB%7D&cck=1
By world-grain.com (Mar 22, 2017)
China has outlined steps it plans to take to ensure food safety, including aligning its standards with international standards and launching a risk alert system, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) said in a March report.
The nation outlined four key objectives in regard to food safety in its 13th Five-Year Plan on Food Safety that was released on Feb. 21. They include:
Enhancing sample testing to cover all types of food.
Effective governance of resource contamination.
Reinforcing on-site inspections, establishing a professional inspect team and standardize enforcement procedures and documentation.
Aligning Chinese food safety standards with international standards.
In its plan, China acknowledges that problems still exist due to the contamination of input sources, and challenges remain given the number of small-sized producers, absent food safety standards and insufficient regulatory/enforcement capacity.
During the last five years, China’s food safety regulatory system has improved. This has included creation of the Food Safety Commission as the coordinator for food safety issues among relevant ministries. Two dozen laws and regulations have been revised, and the Ministry of Agriculture issued 2,800 limits for pesticide residues in foods.
According to its plan, China will establish a database that covers food safety standards developed by CODEX and other countries, conduct research and comparison of foreign and global standards. Specifically, it will develop or update 300 national standards; develop/update/assess 6,600 maximum residue limits (MRL) for pesticides; and 270 residue limits for veterinary drugs.
By the end of the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2020), the national food safety standard system will cover all foods consumed (including agricultural products and dietary foods for the special population groups).
As part of the plan, China will develop no less than 20 key limit standards for pesticides and vet drugs; and no less than five standards for new toxicities and contaminants.
In addition, the plan says efforts will be made to construct a comprehensive legislative system with the Food Safety Law at its core. China also will revise the Agricultural Product Quality and Safety Law, the Implementing Rules of the Food Safety Law, Administrative Rules for Pesticides, Administrative Rules for Quality and Safety of Dairy Products, support the promulgation of the Soil Pollution Prevention and Rectification Laws, the Grains Law, and the Administrative Rules for Chemical Fertilizer etc.
China also will develop/revise a variety of regulations on food labeling, food safety incident investigation, information disclosure, whole-process traceability, etc.
For the oversight of food import and export, the plan pledges to launch a food safety risk alert system and a food importer/exporter reputation recording mechanism. It also will reinforce inspections of foreign food safety regulatory systems. Chinese authorities will improve quality and safety inspections and testing of imported and exported food; formulate plans for sample testing and risk surveillance.
China will actively participate in the formulation of international rules and standards and join global efforts in response to food safety incidents.

How Digital Technology Streamlines Supply Chain Management
Source : https://foodsafetytech.com/feature_article/digital-technology-streamlines-supply-chain-management/
By Alex Bromage (Mar 21, 2017)
Today’s food and beverage producers must deliver to exact requirements and provide safe products of the highest quality. In an increasingly global and connected world, the emergence of new business models, such as Amazon Food and the offer of direct deliveries to consumers, is creating ever more complex supply chains for manufacturers. The number of steps between the raw ingredients and the consumer is increasing, creating new and more numerous challenges inside the production process for food and beverage manufacturers. Thus it is important to remain committed to constantly innovating and developing new services and technologies to support customers with increasing supply chain complexities. This includes systems to help track products as they enter the factory environment, when they leave the factory, and when they enter the retail distribution chain. The digitalization of management processes and services, alongside basic management processes, is playing an important role in helping food and beverage manufacturers to manage these complexities.
Supplier Base
The first step to keeping food safe starts before the raw ingredients enter the processing facility. The safety of raw material is so important because it impacts the end quality of the product. Pasteurization and heat treatment can only improve the product so much, and therefore the higher quality the raw ingredients, the better the final product.
Basic management processes must be in place at this stage of the supply chain, ensuring the good management of the supplier base. Working closely with customers to implement supplier framework audits that allow them to benchmark their suppliers’ performance is crucial. Through this supplier framework customers to collaborate transparently with their suppliers, encouraging the open sharing of information and traceability in the supply chain.
Production Process and Entering the Retail Distribution Chain
Increased sophistication of tools in the industry is also enabling high-level traceability at the packaging stage. This means that food and beverage manufacturers are tracking and tracing products right the way through to the consumer. One such available tool can enable food and beverage manufacturers to program their entire plant through a single data management system, and improve product traceability internally. Specifically designed for the food and beverage industry, specific software provides a user-friendly interface through which customers can control their entire operations—from raw material reception to finished packaged and palletized products. Streamlines data collection facilitates accurate data analysis to ensure that safety standards are maintained throughout the production process.
Using unique package identification technology, such as a 2-D barcode on packages, information can be processed this information and the product(s) tracked throughout the supply chain. For example, if a manufacturer were to experience a food safety issue in a certain production batch, the tool would be able to track all products in that batch and support making a recall. In addition to improving functions on a reactive basis, a reporting function, is designed to provide data to help prevent issues from happening again in the future, mitigating against food safety risks.
As new business models continue to emerge and more parties become involved in the production process, the complexity of the supply chain will only increase. Digital strategies alongside basic management processes have an increasingly important role to play in helping food and beverage manufacturers manage these complexities to ensure that their food is safe for the end consumer.

How Well Does the U.S. Food Recall System Work?
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/how-well-does-the-us-food-recall-system-work/
By Wendy Bedale, Ph.D.(Mar 21, 2017)
This bag of flour sits in my pantry, unopened. It is one of the products that General Mills recalled this year because of the possibility of pathogenic Escherichia coli contamination. I don’t know how to dispose of it: Should I throw it in the regular trash, compost it, burn it?
Last week, I ran out of my “good” flour and was tempted to open that full bag of suspect flour. Even though I know (from my science background and from reading the General Mills website) that baking will destroy the bacteria, I changed my cooking plans, knowing that my elderly mother might eat the cake I had planned to make. Flour generates dust, especially when I use my giant stand mixer. Although inhaling pathogenic E. coli may not be problematic, the dust could fall into the glass of water I’m drinking or onto my sponge which wipes other surfaces that will later contact food. The pathogenic strains of E. coli associated with this recall (Shiga toxin-producing strains O26 and O121) require ingestion of only a few cells (~10) to trigger disease, so worrying about such scenarios may not be that far-fetched.
That bag of flour remains unopened, taking up space in my cupboard. It’s not the first bag from the recall that I’ve had in my possession. I threw the first bag away (with some lingering worry as it was nearly empty) and asked my husband to pick up another bag at the store. The store must not have been aware of the recall, as the new bag, the one still sitting in my pantry, was also part of the recall.
It surprised me that the store had not yet pulled the flour from the shelves. The recall has been mentioned in the press, on TV and on the websites of both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You can find more than 11,000 news articles with the keywords “flour recall E. coli” in a Google search. However, even with this publicity, it is astonishing how few people seem to be aware of the recall. Even after at least 63 people have been sickened and 17 people hospitalized (including one with kidney failure), the grocery store where my husband purchased the flour clearly did not pull the flour.
Anecdotally at least, consumers don’t seem to be getting the message. One of my friends had heard (from a television cooking show) that there was a new reason now to avoid eating raw cooking dough. She has a degree in microbiology, yet she couldn’t remember the reason. Another acquaintance said she’d always eaten raw cookie dough (just like she grew up drinking raw milk) and wasn’t going to stop now. Pinterest is still awash with recipes for “play clay” for kids (whose fingers often find their way into their mouths as they play). At a meeting in July attended mostly by food safety professionals, several FDA field investigators that I met confessed they were unaware of the recall and assumed that flour carried little risk for foodborne illness.
Certainly flour is a dry (low water activity, to be more scientific) food. Bacteria cannot grow in dry environments, but they can survive. It is not unusual to find some level of microbes in flour. As the General Mills blog states, “Bacteria is commonly found in flour at low levels because flour comes from milling wheat, something that is grown outdoors where bacteria are often present.”
This is not the first pathogenic E. coli outbreak in which flour was suspected to play a role. In a 2009 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, flour used to make Nestle Toll House prepackaged cookie dough was considered a prime suspect. Shortly thereafter, Nestle began heat-treating all flour used in refrigerated cookie dough, as did other manufacturers of similar products. Heat-treating is less effective at killing pathogens in a dry material such as flour than it is for higher water activity material. It also can alter flour’s chemistry and quality (sometimes in good ways, though) and is costly, which perhaps explains why it hasn’t been embraced universally for flour (which contains only low levels of microbes and is usually eventually cooked anyway).
Another E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in 2016 may have been the result contaminated flour. This outbreak appeared to be related to a dough mix used at Pizza Ranch restaurants. However, it should be noted that in both the Toll House cookie dough and the Pizza Ranch dough outbreaks, the pathogen was never actually found in the product or any of the ingredients (including the flour) used to make the product.
CDC’s case count map for the most recent flour-associated outbreak is a patchwork of colors, demonstrating how today’s global food supply chain can affect people across the country (and in other countries: Canada was also involved in the recall). (As an aside, the outbreak map for the 2009 cookie dough outbreak looks remarkably similar to my eyes; are people in these regions especially prone to eating raw dough, or do they like to bake more often?)
It’s possible that contaminated flour has caused other illnesses in the past, but the systems allowing disparate cases to be linked were not yet in place. It can take a week or more for E. coli-related illness to develop, and the symptoms of the illness may not always lead those who are sick to the doctor. Even if they do visit the doctor, the doctor might not culture and identify the pathogen. It’s a testament to science, technology and industry and government cooperation that the 2015–2016 outbreak was linked to flour.
It did, understandably, take some time to piece together the evidence in the outbreak. Illnesses starting back from December were linked based on similar pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and whole-genome sequencing results obtained from patient isolates. At least 50 percent of those sickened who were questioned reported eating raw dough or batter the week before they became sick, and many also reported using Gold Medal brand flour.
Interestingly, more than three-quarters of those sickened have been females (as were a similar percentage of those sickened in the 2009 prepackaged cookie dough outbreak). Perhaps this is not surprising when you think about who generally uses flour. Those affected ranged from 1 to 95 years of age, with a relatively low median age of 18. This again seems consistent with who you might expect to be licking beaters or sampling cookie dough.
General Mills first announced the recall on May 31 and expanded its scope on July 1. Pathogens that genetically matched those from patients eventually were found in the flour itself and also in the General Mills Kansas City production facility, where the flour was produced on select dates between November 2015 and February 10, 2016.
Although CDC has recently (September 29) declared the outbreak investigation to be complete, with the last reported cases in September, the outbreak itself probably isn’t over because the contaminated flour is still lurking in stores and cupboards around the country. Flour has a long shelf-life.
As a consumer, I went through the recall process with General Mills. It was easy enough to do online. I promptly (within 4 days) received a coupon for a free replacement bag of flour as well as additional savings coupons.
I also received a nice letter from General Mills, but unfortunately, it didn’t tell me what to do with my potentially contaminated bag or warn me that additional contaminated products might still be available for purchase. Forty-five million pounds of flour have been recalled, which sounds like a lot. But what does “recall” mean if customers are unaware of the recall or what they need to do? I wonder how much of the recalled flour is being destroyed vs. eaten.
Because of my job, I often haunt the FDA recall list and Food Safety News, so I pay attention to recalls and know how to find out what products are specifically affected. At least by informal queries, however, it seems that not everyone does. As noted before, FDA investigators and my local grocery store were unaware of the recall at least a month after it was announced. My microbiology-trained friend admitted she had no idea how to find out if her bag of flour was one that had been recalled. Complicated supply chain webs also cloud the ability to follow recalls. The Kansas City plant makes products for other companies, some of which have recalled their products. It is not always straightforward to identify all recalled products even for someone who works in food safety.
Many bags of recalled flour likely will still be used and will cause more disease. Retailers need to promptly pull product from shelves. Use of store cards may allow retailers to notify customers that they have purchased a recalled product and direct them appropriately.
Consumers are being bombarded with warnings, so it’s not surprising that they often tune them out. Some could argue that since no deaths occurred and only 17 individuals required hospitalization, consumers’ limited attention span might be better directed elsewhere. Consumers should, however, be aware of recalls and know how to find specific recall information. They should understand that raw dough and flour both can be risky. Perhaps a food safety unit could be included in high school health courses.
General Mills acted promptly and responsibly in communicating the flour recall, yet people are still sickened long after the recalls occurred. Manufacturers need to be diligent in promptly issuing recalls and to communicate recall information effectively to consumers and to retailers. They need to understand that consumers don’t always cook food as instructed before eating it.
FDA’s new SCORE (Strategic Coordinated Oversight of Recall Execution) should expedite the removal of recalled product from store shelves. Focusing on prevention rather than reaction at the manufacturer level may, however, be the best way to prevent foodborne disease outbreaks by preventing the need for recalls in the first place. A proactive approach is what the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)’s 2015 Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls rule seeks to bring about. Although FSMA classifies recalls to themselves be a preventive control, the fact that people are still getting sick from General Mills flour long after the recall demonstrates that recalls are not 100 percent effective and should be a last line of hazard prevention. Better attention to preventing food hazards could help protect consumers who hear far too many warnings every day.
The author thanks Lindsey Jahn, Adam Borger, Kathleen Glass and Chuck Czuprynski for helping comments and discussion.

Civil suit does what FDA won’t — names soy nut butter maker
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/03/civil-suit-does-what-fda-wont-names-soy-nut-butter-maker/#.WNhqcfmLSUm
By CORAL BEACH (Mar 21, 2017)
More E. coli cases expected in nationwide outbreak; distribution details deemed corporate secrets
No one knows how many more people will become victims of an ongoing E. coli outbreak traced to soy nut butter products, partly because consumers don’t know what foods could be contaminated — and the FDA refuses to name the manufacturer.
However, a civil action filed Monday by an outbreak victim’s parents may free up the flow of so-called confidential corporate information (CCI).
The lawsuit names Kentucky-based Dixie Dew Products Inc. as the soy paste manufacturer and a defendant along with the SoyNut Butter Co., which has recalled some products because of the outbreak.
“The FDA can confirm that the agency is investigating the SoyNut Butter Co. and its contract manufacturer,” according to a statement from a spokesperson at the Food and Drug Administration on Monday afternoon.
“Consistent with law, FDA releases information, including CCI, to the extent necessary to effectuate a recall. We have no evidence at this time challenging the effectiveness of this recall.”
On March 3, the SoyNut Butter Co. of Glenview, IL, recalled one size of one flavor of its I.M. Healthy branded soy nut butter, which it markets as a peanut butter substitute specifically to schools and childcare centers across the country. It expanded the recall twice, ultimately including all flavors and sizes of the soy nut butter under I.M. Healthy and Dixie Diners Club brands, as well as I.M. Healthy granola.
Then the SoyNut Butter Co. revealed in a statement on its website that it uses a contract manufacturer for the soy nut butter. It did not name the manufacturer or indicate whether the implicated soy nut butter was sold to any other companies.
While the FDA reports it has that information, agency officials will not make it available to consumers.
“The agency is determining next steps in its investigation and will promptly update the public when new information becomes available,” an FDA spokesperson said Monday.
‘Promptly’ a question of perspective
New information could no doubt be helpful in the future, but known information could have already been put to use to help contain the outbreak, according to one of the attorneys representing Travis and Morgan Stuller, the Seattle area parents who filed suit in federal court Monday. Theirs is the fourth case to be filed in relation to the outbreak.
“The scope of this outbreak is much larger than originally believed, affecting a number of brand names. Early on, SoyNut Butter Co. was allowed to not disclose the name of the original manufacturer,” said Bill Marler of Marler Clark LLP, who is joined by Newland & Newland LLP in representing the Stullers.
“This calls into question the integrity of not only the products sold by SoyNut Butter Co., but all of those manufactured by Dixie Dew Products. Are there other related products on the shelf right now that could make people sick?”
That scenario isn’t one of fantasy or fiction, it’s what happened in 2008-09 when peanut butter and paste from Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) in Blakely, GA, sickened more than 700 in a Salmonella outbreak that killed nine people.
As of the CDC’s March 13 update on the soy nut butter E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, 16 people across nine states, including people on both coasts, have been confirmed as victims. Fourteen of them are children. Eight of the 16 have required hospitalization and five, including the Stullers’ daughter developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a life-threatening complication that can cause kidney failure.
The Stullers’ daughter and 14 of the other confirmed victims ate I.M. Healthy brand soy nut butter in the days before becoming ill. Dietary information on the 16th victim was not available, according to the CDC.
Advice to consumers
Anyone who has eaten I.M. Healthy brand or Dixie’s Diner’s Club brand soy nut butter products or anything containing the products and developed symptoms of E. coli infection should immediately seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to the bacteria.
“The symptoms of STEC infections vary but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea — often bloody — and vomiting,” according to the CDC.
“Most people get better within 5 to 7 days, but some infections are severe or even life-threatening. Very young children and the elderly are more likely to develop severe illness and HUS than others, but even healthy older children and young adults can become seriously ill.”
The CDC advises people to watch for diarrhea that lasts for more than three days, or is accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine.
eFoodAlert.com has begun compiling a list of retailers that sold the recalled products. The list will be updated as information becomes available. Click here to view it.
For additional details on the outbreak and recalls, please see:
I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter outbreak reaches Portland school
“Canada recalls I.M. Healthy products; no E. coli cases there yet”
“Oregon confirms E. coli in SoyNut Butter from victims’ home”
“UPDATE: SoyNut Butter Co. expands recall to all soy butters, granola”
“Parents of 8-year-old E. coli victim sue SoyNut Butter Co.”
“I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter recall; E.coli hits kids”
“UPDATE: Patients on both coasts ate ‘SoyNut Butter’ before becoming ill”
“I.M. Healthy soy nut butter linked to E. coli outbreak”
“CDC, states investigating foodborne sources in E. coli outbreak”

Food & Water Watch Demands Revocation of Brazil Beef Equivalency
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/food-water-watch-demands-revocation-of-brazil-beef-equivalency/
By News Desk (Mar 21, 2017)
Food & Water Watch has written a letter to Acting Agriculture Secretary Michael Young, urging him to revoke the meat inspection equivalency determination for beef exported from Brazil. There have been recent revelations of massive corruption in the Brazilian meat inspection system, and chronic problems with past equivalency audits.
Equivalency determination means that the USDA considers the meat inspection system in another country to have the same standards as the U.S. system. China and the EU have already suspended imports of Brazilian beef.
Among the meatpackers involved in the scandal are BRF and JBS. JBS operates Brazilian plants that are certified to export meat and meat products to the United States. Until recently, Brazil was restricted to exporting only processed meat products to this country, but USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and FSIS have allowed fresh meat exports from Brazil. Domestic livestock groups have objected to this change, citing concerns about animal health and systemic shortcomings in the Brazilian meat inspection system.
The investigation of this scandal has uncovered some issues. Allegedly, company officials influenced the Brazilian government over assignment of certain federal inspectors to their plants, and those inspectors were paid bribes to ignore that adulterated meat was put into commerce. In addition, uncooperative inspectors were assigned to other meat plants. And, apparently, health certificates were falsified, and some of the bribes were paid directly to the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party of Brazilian President Michel Temer.
Before the current scandal broke, groups were strongly against keeping Brazil’s meat inspection system equivalent to the USDA. Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement last June, “Brazil and Argentina have checkered food safety records, as USDA has been forced on several occasions to suspend imports of products currently eligible to come into the U.S. for various food safety violations and for failure to meet our inspection standards.”
And the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) issued a press release in 2014 that states that a newly released FSIS inspection repot shows “significant flaws in Brazil’s Food Safety Inspection.” Back in 2014, Dr. Kathy Simmons, NCBA chief veterinarian said in a statement, “This audit report confirms many of the compliance concerns that NCBA recently expressed in our comments on behalf of our members. Our members have significant concerns with Brazil’s ability and willingness to meet established compliance requirements. Most alarming to me is the inconsistent application and implementation of Specified Risk Material requirements throughout the system and a history of unresolved drug residue violations.”

Current Trends in Consumer Taste in Food
Source : http://www.qualityassurancemag.com/article/current-trends-in-consumer-taste-in-food/
By qualityassurancemag.com (Mar 19, 2017)
As consumer food purchase and consumption trends continually shift, following are a few of the latest trends being seen around the U.S.:
Butter. Americans are forecast to eat about 8% more butter than last year, reaching 940,000 metric tons, almost the weight of three Empire State Buildings. That’s the most since at least 1967, USDA data shows. US Foods Holding Corp., where butter sales jumped almost 7 percent last year even as overall revenue fell slightly. (Bloomberg)
Bottled Water. An industry tracker says bottled water overtook soda as the No. 1 drink in the U.S. by sales volume last year. Bottled water has been enjoying growth for years, while sales of traditional sodas have declined. Research and consulting firm Beverage Marketing Corp. says Americans drank an average of 39.3 gallons of bottled water in 2016, and 38.5 gallons of carbonated soft drinks. In 2015, bottled water was at 36.5 gallons while soda was at 39 gallons. (The Wichita Eagle)
Oranges. USDA projects the 2016-17 orange crop at 67 million boxes, down 18 percent from the previous season and a 70 percent decline since the 2005 arrival of the fatal bacterial disease citrus greening. Although OJ imports will increase 23 percent in 2016-17, larger than originally projected, it will have little impact on the total amount of orange juice available to sell in the U.S. at 1 billion gallons, down 11.3 percent from the 2015-16 season. In addition to fewer oranges and grapefruit for processing, the production of orange and grapefruit juice is declining because processors are squeezing less juice from this season's fruit. (The Ledger)
Non-Dairy Creamers. Manufacturer sales of plant-based alternative creamers grew 14.2% year over year, according to data from Technomic's latest Volumix Beverage Creamer Report, while total volume increased 13.0%. This is in contrast to the decline in total sales and nearly flat total volume growth for dairy-based creamers. (BizJournal)
Avocadoes. An increasing number of shoppers are opting for the convenience of bagged avocadoes. The volume of bags that Del Rey Avocado Co.. produces has doubled over the past five years from 5% to 10% and Index Fresh sells about 35% of its avocados in bags, up from about 15-20% five years ago. Bags also are popular for retailers because they present another way to move volume. (The Packer)

HPP: Achieve High Standards of Food Safety Without Compromising Food Quality
Source : https://foodsafetytech.com/feature_article/hpp-achieve-high-standards-food-safety-without-compromising-food-quality/
By Mark Duffy (Mar 16, 2017)
As food companies analyze and modify their production processes to ensure FSMA compliance, many are finding that traditional food processing technologies aren’t ideally suiting their needs. Conventional pasteurization technologies like heat pasteurization have been relied on to protect the safety of the food supply over the years, but they aren’t without their downsides. For example, sometimes they negatively impact the flavor, texture, nutrients and color of food products. Additionally, many traditional food processing methods require chemical additives to be integrated to preserve quality and taste. In a market where consumers are more frequently appreciating, if not demanding, cleaner labels with simple ingredients, these solutions are often becoming less attractive options for some companies.
This new demand for a higher level of food safety combined with an emphasis on food quality has led some producers of refrigerated foods to turn to an increasingly popular alternative: High pressure processing.
How HPP Works
High pressure processing, or HPP, is an effective technique that uses pressure rather than heat or chemicals to disable pathogens in food. After packaging, food products composed of some degree of water activity (Aw) are placed into a machine that applies incredibly intense water pressure to food—sometimes as much as 87,000 psi.
This process interrupts the cellular function of the microorganisms both on the surface and deep within the food and can serve as a critical control point (CCP) in a HACCP program. Research studies on a wide range of refrigerated food products and categories confirm that HPP technology inactivates vegetative bacteria like Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, E. coli 0157:H7, and Campylobacter as well as yeasts and molds. Additionally, because pressure is applied after the food is packaged, HPP drastically reduces any chance of recontamination.
Besides its food safety benefits, HPP offers food producers added benefits over traditional methods. Because the pressure inactivates spoilage organisms along with pathogens, many foods see a substantial increase in shelf life after undergoing HPP, sometimes even twice as long. Processors use this shelf-life extension to increase their distribution reach and reduce food waste.
In a recent survey, 57% of respondents in the food and beverage industry characterized their companies’ use of HPP as substantial or growing. Survey respondents also scored HPP’s ability to make food safer by eliminating pathogens above a 4 on a 5-point scale, one of the highest of any food processing technology.
However, HPP isn’t right for every product. It isn’t effective on some enzymes and bacterial spores, like Clostridium botulinum. Producers need to tap into other techniques to address concerns not affected by HPP. The process also requires foods to be packaged in fairly flexible packaging to allow for an even application of pressure. Glass bottles or particularly hard plastics will not be suitable.
HPP can also be daunting to implement for some companies. Purchasing an HPP machine is a major investment, typically seven-figures, without factoring in specific facility requirements or staffing needs. In the same survey of food and beverage producers, the most commonly cited concerns had nothing to do with the efficacy or value of the technology, but rather with the cost of purchasing and staffing the equipment.
For businesses that don’t want to make that kind of capital expenditure commitment but want to take advantage of high pressure processing, HPP outsourcing providers offer a more affordable solution. These companies own and operate HPP machines on behalf of clients. That way, food brands don’t have to purchase expensive HPP machines and regularly maintain their own equipment.
Is HPP right for you? The answer and the nuances are highly variable, but HPP is a fast-growing food preservation technology offering many benefits, including food safety benefits, across a broad product spectrum.

 

 

 

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