FoodHACCP Newsletter

Food Safety Job Openings

04/21. Quality Supervisor - 2nd Shift – Vineland, NJ
04/21. Food Safety, Quality, and Reg – Mason City, IA
04/21. QA Manager – Moss Landing, CA
04/20. Quality Supervisor 1st Shift – Enid, OK
04/19. Food Safety Program Manager – Raleigh, NC
04/19. Director of Food Safety/QA – Hershey, PA
04/19. Quality Assurance Specialist – Woodland, CA
04/18. Quality Assurance Manager - Dyersville, IA
04/17. Food Safety & QA Coordinator – Milford, IA
04/17. Quality Tech – Administrator – Nashua, NH
04/17. Q&FS Senior Technologist – Greeneville, MS

04/24 2017 ISSUE:753


Publisher’s Platform: Please, put me out of business
Source :
BY BILL MARLER (Apr 23, 2017)
From about 2011 though the summer of 2015 business was slower for The Food Safety Law Firm, which meant on average less people were sickened by the food they ate. For some time I thought the food industry was actually “Putting me out of Business.”
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its FoodNet report this week with the stats on nine pathogens in 10 states for 2016 — comparing 2013-2015[1] — and the new numbers are not great. They confirm why we seem busier lately.
In 2016, FoodNet identified 24,029 infections, 5,512 hospitalizations, and 98 deaths in the United States caused by the nine pathogens.
The pathogens covered in the report are Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Listeria, Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), Shigella, Vibrio, and Yersinia.
Compared with 2013-2015, the 2016 incidence of Campylobacter infection was significantly lower at 11 percent less when including only culture-confirmed infections. Incidence of STEC infection was significantly higher for confirmed infections, posting a 21 percent increase.Similarly, the incidence of Yersinia infection was significantly higher, with confirmed infections increasing 29 percent.
Incidence of confirmed Cryptosporidium infection was also significantly higher in 2016 compared with 2013–2015 with the CDC reporting a 45 percent increase.
Among 7,554 confirmed Salmonella cases in 2016, serotype information was available for 6,583, representing 87 percent of the cases. The most common serotypes were Enteritidis with 1,320 cases or 17 percent; Newport with 797 cases or 11 percent, and Typhimurium with 704 cases or 9 percent. The incidence in 2016 compared with 2013-2015 was significantly lower for Typhimurium (18% decrease; CI = 7%–21%) and unchanged for Enteritidis and Newport.Among 208, or 95 percent, of speciated Vibrio isolates, half, or 103,  were V. parahaemolyticus. There were 35, or 17 percent, that were V. alginolyticus, and 26, or 13 percent that were V. vulnificus.
Among 1,394 confirmed and serogrouped STEC cases, 36 percent, or 503 cases, were STEC O157. Another 64 percent, or 891 STEC cases, were non-O157. Among 70 percent, or 586 cases of non-O157 isolates, the most common serogroups were O26 with 190 cases, O103  with 178 cases, and O111 with 106 cases. Compared with 2013-2015, the incidence of STEC non-O157 infections in 2016 was significantly higher (26% increase; CI = 9%–46%) and the incidence of STEC O157 was unchanged.
We are still seeing a significant downturn in E. coli cases linked to red meat, but are seeing cases in products like flour and soy nut butter, that leave all a bit perplexed.  We are also seeing less cases linked to leafy greens generally. Our growth areas seem to be imported food products and restaurant-related outbreaks.
The entire food chain, both foreign and domestic, as well as government, academia and consumers, clearly have more to do to drive me into retirement.
[1] FoodNet conducts active, population-based surveillance for laboratory-diagnosed infections caused by Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Listeria, Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), Shigella, Vibrio, and Yersinia for 10 sites covering approximately 15% of the U.S. population.
Editor’s note: Bill Marler is publisher of Food Safety News and a founding member of the Seattle law firm MarlerClark LLP, PS.

Pet Fooled’ Director Questions Pet Food Safety
Source :
By Emily Zak (Apr 23, 2017)
Just this January, a drug used for euthanasia turned up in canned dog food, killing at least four pugs. Unlike human food, pet food in the U.S. has very little oversight.
I spoke with Kohl Harrington, the director of ”Pet Fooled,” a new documentary about the pet food industry’s lack of regulation.
Your film contrasts the marketing message of big pet food companies with the experiences of pet owners.
I think because their market share and profit are public, most of them, at the end of the day, have to make money.
There are small, independent companies out there that have gotten involved in the industry because they build appropriate food on the market. But when it gets into companies buying other companies, it becomes about market share and how many ways you can get their food and how convenient is it. So it’s very complicated.
How aware is the public now about the pet food industry and its regulations?
It’s progressing, I think, slowly. I don’t know if this is because I live in L.A., but I’m not getting feedback from people who watch the movie and say it’s crazy or that it was boring.
There’s a lot of confusion and options. The product’s on the market, and it’s here. And it says “100 percent complete and balanced.” So people think it’s 100 percent appropriate.
So, that’s what the film questioned: “Was it appropriate?”
What topics do you wish the film included?
I wish I could’ve talked about bioavailability, how much of that ingredient [corn] is stored on the body, versus if you were going to take raw meat.
Companies will say corn is a great source of protein. OK, yeah, there’s protein in it, but it’s about how much of it is bio-available for the animal.
I wish that the companies would have met with me and proved me wrong. I wish that I could met with the heads of Milo’s Kitchen and Waggin Train, for them to tell us that we were wrong.
One of the stories that stood out to me in your film was the history of kibble.
Mark Warren was a veterinarian, and he wanted to make the first prescription diet. It got very complex because of the meat rations in World War II, so the government knew that people were more likely to share their meat with their animal.
Mark Warren was hired by the government to create options to keep the animals alive. So he created a meat-free pet food in order for the pets to live without dying.
The theme of it was a better quality pet food. So ultimately that became Science Diet. Now it’s become a massive profitable industry.
The biggest question that I get from people is, “What dry food do you recommend? We have no other option than to feed dry food.”
And I, for the film, don’t recommend any brands.
We’re meeting with people who run a variety of different companies right now and talking with them. Because the big thing after this movie is you need to be able to talk to your companies. You need be able to know where things are sourced from. Why are things secret?
At the end of the day, one of the big takeaways is that you have to be proactive if you’re a pet owner.
Pet Fooled is available on Netflix and other streaming services. See the movie’s website for a complete list.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.





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MDH Offers Steps to Keep Backyard Poultry Keepers Safe
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Apr 21, 2017)
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is offering simple steps to keep backyard poultry-keepers safe. There have been large Salmonella outbreaks in the past linked to backyard poultry flocks. In 2014, hundreds were sickened in a Salmonella outbreak linked to the birds, and in 2016, there were eight Salmonella outbreaks caused by contact with live poultry.
Many people keep backyard birds for fresh eggs and meat. But there are risks associated with raising poultry; the birds can be carriers of Salmonella and other pathogenic bacteria. Children under the age of 5, people with weakened immune systems, the elderly, and pregnant women are most likely to become seriously ill with a Salmonella infection. So MDH is offering some steps to protect yourself and your family.
First, be aware that these birds pose a risk. In that 2016 outbreak, 896 people were sickened with Salmonella infection linked to live poultry in small flocks. Thirty-two of those sickened live in Minnesota. In the past five years, 376 Minnesotans got sick with Salmonella or Campylobacter infections linked to live poultry.
Second, keep poultry in their own space outdoors. Live chicks, ducklings, chickens, and ducks should never be kept in the hours or in areas where food or drinks are prepared, served, or stored. Dedicate work clothing and boots for use in poultry areas only, and don’t wear them anywhere other than in the poultry area. Keep that clothing outside.
Always wash your hands with soap and water after you come into contact with live poultry or their environment. Wash your hands after changing bedding, collecting eggs, and handling the birds. Use hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t readily available, but then use soap and water as soon as possible.
Watch the kids around live poultry. It’s fun to cuddle these little birds when they are babies, but that’s an easy way to share germs. Make sure that kids don’t put their hands or fingers near their mouths after handling the birds, and supervise handwashing. And keep the poultry in a secure area with intact fences, barriers, or buildings. If any animals show signs of illness, separate them from the healthy animals and contact your veterinarian.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include fever, nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. If you have backyard poultry and anyone in the family develops these symptoms, they should see a doctor. While most people recover on their own after this type of illness, there can be long term consequences of a Salmonella infection, including reactive arthritis and high blood pressure.

Food Safety Talk 124: Talking about Mike Scorpion
Source :
By Ben Chapman (Apr 21, 2017)
This episode starts with a chat about the need for butter refrigeration, bats and scorpions in leafy greens (oh my).  The guys briefly celebrate Ben’s birthday before talking about risk attribution, and yet another hot take on the 5 second rule, eating insects on purpose, and “food safety” tips from the internet. They make two book recommendations before talking about rat lungworm and other disgusting things.  The show wraps with an example of doing food safety right, and breaking news about doing food safety wrong before a brief dip into pop culture.
Episode 124 can be found here and on iTunes.
Do you really need to refrigerate butter? –
Show me the data: butter at room temperature edition
Bats in salad is yuck factor stuff; actual illnesses end up lost
Dead Bat Found Inside Package of Salad in Florida, Officials Say
Isolation of Salmonella Virchow from a fruit bat (Pteropus giganteus)
Maryland Woman Finds Live Scorpion in Bag of Spinach
Nena‎- 99 Luftballons – YouTube
Ranking the disease burden of 14 pathogens in food sources in the United States…
Alton Brown on the 5-Second Rule
Flour recall: How E. coli in flour can make you sick
Get your fried grasshoppers here: the big hit at Mariners home games
8 Foods You Shouldn’t Reheat (Because They Could Poison You)
Feel free to order soup anywhere | Six Tips to Avoid Foodborne Illness When Dining Out
Kitchen Confidential Updated Edition: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
Pod Save America on Twitter
Rat Lungworm on Hawaii puts produce at risk
Undercooled meat. Dangerous fish. Health inspectors ding Trump’s Mar-a-Lago kitchen
Mango Ice Cream Bars Recalled in Georgia due to Salmonella

Should the boost in funding for organic farming survive in the new administration?
Source :
BY MISCHA POPOFF (Apr 21, 2017)
And By Jay Lehr
President Obama tripled the budget and staffing at the offices of the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP), only to see American organic acreage flatline during his tenure.
The $9.1 million might seem like a rounding error for Washington D.C. But what 43 organic staffers actually did during Obama’s tenure will surprise you. Did they weed out fraud, make organic food better and encourage more domestic organic production? Sadly, no, no and no.
Organic imports from countries like China and Turkey grew steadily during Obama’s years, a trend that, not surprisingly, coincided with increased incidents of organic foodborne illnesses. Alas, Obama tripled the NOP budget and staffing, but failed to require field testing.
Roughly 40 percent of the organic food sold in America tested positive for prohibited pesticide residue during Obama’s years, in two separate studies by the USDA. Just 0.7 percent of American farmland is organic, but organic sales accounted for 4 percent of total food sales, more than five times the amount of land under organic management. This means American grocery retailers now rely on imported organic food somewhere around 80 percent of the time.
This tripling of NOP budget and staff did absolutely nothing to help American organic farmers. In fact, it hurt them.
Worse than this embarrassing organic trade imbalance is the fact that organic foods accounted for a whopping 7 percent of all food recalls in America last year, almost double what one would expect according to organic sales and 10 times what one would expect from America’s flatlining organic acreage.
Meanwhile, organic inspections and certifications all occur independently of these 43 federal organic staffers. People are often surprised to learn that the USDA does not employ any organic inspectors. Staff only keep an eye on those that do by randomly auditing files generated by USDA-accredited certifying agencies, most of which are private certification businesses. These certifiers number just 80, and employ just 160 independent organic inspectors on contract. They pay the USDA for the privilege of being audited. So, what was $9 million spent on every year? And, again, what did these 43 people do every day they went to work?
The 160 inspectors working for 80 certifying agencies. Together they account for all oversight of every American organic farm, processor, distributor and broker/trader, including the importation of certified-organic goods from abroad. They’re being overseen by 43 federal staffers? Yes. That’s the sum total of it.
Miles McEvoy, Obama’s man in charge of America’s organic program, claims the increases were necessary to ensure the integrity of the USDA-certified organic label. But with organic food recalls and imports both going up, and the number of American organic farmers and acreage flatlining, it would appear McEvoy was totally, completely and undeniably wrong. Yet, he remains in command at the NOP.
Only organic end-products are tested under McEvoy, and just 5 percent of the time at that, and only for pesticides, not for pathogens from manure, thus accounting for the organic industry’s shamefully high record of foodborne illness outbreaks. Costs of this pesticide testing are, again, covered entirely by the private sector. Many farmers make use of manure, but usually not on crops for human consumption. Only in the organic industry is manure routinely applied to fields used to grow food for humans, a practice which can be detrimental to human health, sometimes permanently, when manure is not fully composted.
And yet, the only across-the-board organic testing in America’s multibillion dollar organic industry is for GMOs, even though no one anywhere in the world, not human or animal, has ever fallen ill from consuming GMO foods. Costs, again, are borne entirely by — you guessed it — the private sector.
So where did all that money go if not to field testing? Perhaps to fund the hundreds of anti-modern-farming NGOs that run a constant barrage of anti-GMO, anti-pesticide, anti-fertilizer, anti-animal-confinement campaigns? On that question, there are two more troubling points to make.
First, many of the 80 certifying agencies that grant USDA organic certification to farmers, processors, etc., receive anywhere between 1.5 percent to 3 percent of gross revenue from their clients. This “royalty” from an industry worth roughly $46 billion a year — more than Major League Baseball — has proven highly lucrative just for doing paperwork. And people from these agencies, and sometimes the agencies themselves, can be found at the forefront of anti-modern-farming campaigns throughout all 50 states. Certifiers only collect royalties on shipments they approve, while being left to decide whose products they’re going to test for pesticides, just 5 percent of the time. No wonder so much organic food is being imported, with an astonishing 40 percent of it testing positive for prohibited pesticides, and with so many cases of organic foodborne illness.
Second, it turns out $9.1 million per-annum to run the office is just the tip of this organic iceberg. Another quarter of a billion — $256 million to be exact — was spent by the Obama Administration on subsidies to the American organic industry.
So, if American organic farm acreage flatlined over the past eight years while organic food recalls went up, along with imports, in a nation that has exported food throughout its history with one of the world’s top food safety records, what do we call this? This profligate spending not only failed to deliver, but delivered precisely the opposite of what anyone who works for a living expects from Washington.
Make no mistake. This was not simply a case of yet another program gone awry in the nation’s capital. The price tag for America’s new F-35 fighter is, unfortunately, a typical example of such incompetence and waste. But if the F-35 flew backwards instead of forwards, and Obama knew about it for the past eight years and funded it anyway, that’d be fraud. Fraud against American organic farmers, American consumers of organic food, and taxpayers.
Let’s hope the next administration fully reverses this trend.
Editor’s note on the authors: Mischa Popoff is a policy advisor at The Heartland Institute, and is the author of Is it Organic? The inside story of the organic industry. Jay Lehr is the Science Director at the Heartland Institute and is the author of more than 1,000 magazine and journal articles and 30 books.

Reduce Foodborne Illness Causing Microorganisms through a Structured Food Safety Plan
Source :
By James Cook (Apr 20, 2017)
In 2011 three U.S. government agencies, the CDC, the FDA and the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) created the Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration (IFSAC). The development of IFSAC allowed these agencies to combine their federal food safety efforts. The initial focus was to identify those foods and prioritize pathogens that were the most important sources of foodborne illnesses.
The priority pathogens are Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes and Campylobacter. To research the most important product sources, the three agencies collaborated on the development of better data collection and developed methods for estimating the sources of foodborne illnesses. Some of this research was to evaluate whether the regulatory requirements already in effect were reducing the foodborne pathogens in a specific product matrix. The collection, sharing and use of this data is an important part of the collaboration. For example, when the FDA is in a facility for routine audit or targeted enforcement, they will generally take environmental swabs and samples of air, water and materials, as appropriate, which are then tested for the targeted pathogens. If a pathogen is found, then serotyping and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) fingerprinting is performed, and this is compared to the information in the database concerning outbreaks and illnesses. This data collection enables the agencies to more quickly react to pinpoint the source of foodborne illnesses and thereby reduce the number of foodborne illnesses.
The IFSAC strategic plan for 2017 to 2021 will enhance the collection of data. The industry must be prepared for more environmental and material sampling. Enhancement of data collection by both agencies can be seen through the FSIS notices and directives, and through the guidance information being produced by the FDA for FSMA. Some examples are the raw pork products exploratory sampling project and the FDA draft guidance for the control of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods.
Starting May 1 2017, the next phase of the raw pork products exploratory sampling project will begin. Samples will be collected and tested for Salmonella, Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STECs), aerobic plate count and generic E. coli. In the previous phase, the FSIS analyzed 1200 samples for Salmonella for which results are published in their quarterly reports. This is part of the USDA FSIS Salmonella action plan published December 4, 2013 in an effort to establish pathogen reduction standards. In order to achieve any objective, establishing baseline data is essential in any program. Once the baseline data is established and the objective is determined, which in this situation is the Health People 2020 goal of reducing human illness from Salmonella by 25%, one can determine by assessment of the programs and data what interventions will need to take place.
The FDA has revised its draft guidance for the control of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat food, as per the requirement in 21 CFR 117 Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Foods, which is one of the seven core FSMA regulations. Ready-to-eat foods that are exposed to the environment prior to packaging and have no Listeria monocytogenes control measure that significantly reduces the pathogen’s presence, will be required to perform testing of the environment and, if necessary, testing of the raw and finished materials. Implementing this guidance document helps the suppliers of these items to cover many sections of this FSMA regulation.
The purpose of any environmental program is to verify the effectiveness of control programs such as cleaning and sanitizing, and personnel hygiene, and to identify those locations in a facility where there are issues. Corrective actions to eliminate or reduce those problems can then be implemented. Environmental programs that never find any problems are poorly designed. The FDA has stated in its guidance that finding Listeria species is expected. They also recommend that instead of sampling after cleaning and/or sanitation, the sampling program be designed to look for contamination in the worst-case scenario by sampling several hours into production, and preferably, just before clean up. The suggestion on this type of sampling is to hold and test the product being produced and to perform some validated rapid test methodology in order to determine whether or not action must be taken. If the presence of a pathogen is confirmed, it is not always necessary to dispose of a product, as some materials can be further processed to eliminate it.
With this environmental and product/material testing data collected, it is possible to perform a trends analysis. This will help to improve sanitation conditions, the performance of both programs and personnel, and identity the need for corrective actions. The main points to this program are the data collection and then the use of this data to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness. Repeated problems require intervention and resolution. Changes in programs or training may be necessary, if they are shown to be the root cause of the problem. If a specific issue is discovered to be a supply source problem, then the determination of a suppliers’ program is the appropriate avenue to resolve that issue. Generally, this will mean performing an audit of the suppliers program or reviewing the audit, not just the certificate, and establishing whether they have a structured program to reduce or eliminate these pathogens.
IFSAC collected and analyzed previously collected data to assess if older programs, such as 21 CFR 118 production, storage and transportation of shell eggs, actually reduced the incidence of Salmonella enteritidis illnesses. This is a structure for the environmental testing of hen houses for this pathogen which, if found, requires the testing of the eggshells for the same pathogen. If the pathogen is found on the eggshells of a product destined for the processing market, a kill step can be performed to eliminate it and avert consumer illness. The review of this data proved that this program and other interventions have been effective in reducing illness caused by Salmonella enteritidis from eggs.
Data collection to reduce the incidence of foodborne illnesses is taking place in many locations. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the United Kingdom has been monitoring Campylobacter in chickens since 2014. FSA sampling was performed at the retail level. By sampling and testing, then working with the industry and retailers, the percentage of chickens testing positive for Campylobacter has been reduced from 78% in 2014 to 56% in 2016. The level of chicken with more than 1000 cfu/g of campylobacter reduced from 20% in 2014, to 7% in 2016. Additionally, by working with consumers to improve kitchen practices, the surveillance agencies have reported a 17% reduction in foodborne illness related to Campylobacter contamination (see Figure 1).1
The FSA will be changing the way it monitors Campylobacter levels on chicken so it can better focus on those processors that are not making significant improvements in their reduction of this pathogen.
Sampling and testing is just one of the many aspects of a good structured food safety plan. Process and program audits, training and other key elements are essential too, but sampling and testing is an area that is often neglected because of the fear of finding results that are out of compliance. This fear is not warranted. If the food safety plan is designed properly then these out of compliance results are used to perform continuous improvement in the food safety plan. Essentially, continuous improvement is necessary to become a major player in the industry, and this is how the most successful companies excel. Governments have shown that a structured plan that incorporates the correct sampling and testing will result in a reduction of foodborne pathogens. Although it is still essential that the materials be handled properly throughout the supply chain, it is also essential that consumers are trained to properly handle and/or cook these materials, as there is a risk involved with some raw ingredients. Foodborne pathogens are part of some products’ risk, and making a structured plan to reduce, and hopefully one day eliminate these pathogens, is an essential part of doing business.
Food Standards Agency. (March 2017) “Latest figures reveal decline in cases of campylobacter”. Retrieved from

I.M. Healthy Lawsuit: E. coli-HUS Lawyer Says Zero Tolerance for Contamination
Source :
By News Desk (Apr 20, 2017)
According to attorney Fred Pritzker, whose law firm has filed a lawsuit alleging E. coli from an I.M. Healthy product, parents should contact a doctor if their children have eaten an I.M. Healthy product and have any of the following symptoms within 10 days after consumption: diarrhea, especially if it is bloody; severe stomach cramping; vomiting; and/or decreased urine output, which is a sign of kidney failure from an E. coli complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
“Talk to your doctor about a stool test. It is usually the only way to prove your child has E. coli poisoning,” says attorney Pritzker, who has a national practice representing people sickened by contaminated food.
I.M. Healthy products, recalled in March 2017, have been linked to an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections. The most recent outbreak numbers provided by the CDC are 29 people sickened, 24 of them children. Twelve people have been hospitalized, nine of whom developed HUS.
“When children are harmed by a product that was supposed to be safe to eat, parents have the right to sue on their child’s behalf to get compensation and to hold the companies responsible accountable,” said Pritzker. “There is zero tolerance for E. coli bacteria in any ready-to-eat product.”
Pritzker discusses this outbreak in a new video.
To date, twelve states are involved in this outbreak. The case count by state is: Arizona (4), California (5), Florida (1), Illinois (1), Massachusetts (1), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), New Jersey (1), Oregon (9), Virginia (2), Washington (2), and Wisconsin (1). People got sick on dates ranging from January 4, 2017 to March 13, 2017. The patients are 1 to 57 years old, with a median age of 8. Twenty-four of those sickened are younger than 18. Fifty-nine percent of the patients are male.
The products recalled in March include the following: I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter products, I.M. Healthy brand granola, Dixie Diner’s Club brand Carb Not Beanit Butter, and 20/20 Lifestyle Yogurt Peanut Crunch Bars.
After the recall, the FDA has shut down the Dixie Dew Products manufacturing plant in Kentucky, where the soy paste used in those products was made. FDA inspectors found “grossly insanitary conditions” that caused the products to be adulterated, according to the FDA Dixie Dew inspection report. In that inspection, liquid was dripping from a hole in the ceiling tile onto food manufacturing equipment, forklifts moved in and out of the facility, going to and from the waste disposal area, and the hot water tank for the hand washing stations was out of repair for two years.
The young age of most of the patients in this outbreak can be attributed to the product itself. SoyNut Butter is used as a substitute for peanut butter in many schools and daycare facilities. This also explains the high rate of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in this outbreak, since children under the age of five are most likely to develop that serious complication after an E. coli infection.
Unfortunately, nuts, a raw agricultural product, can be contaminated just like any other type of produce. Even though nut butters may seem benign, soy nut butter can be contaminated with E. coli bacteria. There have been four serious food poisoning outbreaks linked to nut butters in the U.S. since 2009.
Pritzker Hageman, America’s food safety law firm, successfully represents people harmed by adulterated food products in outbreaks throughout the United States. Its lawyers have won hundreds of millions of dollars for survivors of foodborne illness, including some of the largest verdicts and settlements in American history. The firm’s recent trial victory on behalf of a child with E. coli poisoning and hemolytic uremic syndrome is the biggest recovery of its kind. This was an individual case and not part of a class action lawsuit. The firm also publishes Food Poisoning Bulletin, a respected source for food safety news and information. Pritzker Hageman lawyers are regularly interviewed by major news outlets including the New York Times, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal.

Food safety officials put ‘plastic’ eggs rumour to rest
Source :
By Wilson Thomas (Apr 19, 2017)
While the scare created by rumours on ‘plastic’ eggs being sold in the market is yet to settle down, samples lifted and tested by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) officials here found it to be safe.
FSSAI officials here said that six egg samples lifted from different places and sent for laboratory examination were tested safe with no deformity detected. The samples were tested at Government food safety laboratory in Madurai.
The examination subjected protein, cholesterol, fat, sodium and other nutrients present in the egg samples. The shell of the egg samples were also subjected to examination. “All the samples sent for laboratory examination conformed to standards. No deformity or artificiality was found in the samples,” said O.L.S. Vijay, designated officer of FSSAI in Coimbatore.
Dr. Vijay said that hardening of inner and outer shell membrane of the eggs was dubbed as plastic egg. “The inner shell membrane of the egg, the thin membrane coming in touch with the egg white (albumen), may become harder when it is older than 15 days. Due to this, the hardened inner shell membrane may look like a thin white layer with elasticity when boiled or fried,” said Dr. Vijay.
Similarly, the outer shell membrane lying between inner shell membrane and white outer shell also gets thickened as the egg becomes older.
According to Dr. Vijay, lack of calcium in the feed given to chicken may result in the texture and quality of the outer shell. The shell becomes delicate when there is an acute deficiency of calcium.
While feeds for egg laying chickens in farms used to include varied sources of calcium including calcium powder, crushed corn and dry fish in the olden days, egg producers are learnt to be using calcium solutions nowadays.
Food safety officials said that eggs produced in Namakkal are now stamped with “best use before date” so that buyers use them before the inner shell membrane gets harder. The best use before date stamped is normally 15 days from the date of egg laying.
FSSAI officials here had received two complaints from consumers who alleged that artificial eggs with plastic presence are sold in market. While one complaint was sent by a resident of Saravanampatti in March, the second complaint was from a resident of Masakalipalayam near Singanallur in April.

Enforcement of meat inspections not limited to Secretary of Ag
Source :
BY DAN FLYNN (Apr 19, 2017)
Congress was not “clear and unambiguous,” but the “better reading” of federal law finds it did not intend to withhold jurisdiction from the district courts in deciding criminal violations under the Federal Meat Inspection Act. That finding by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit means the criminal convictions of William B. Aossey Jr., Jalel Aossey and Midamar Corp. all stand.
William B. Aossey was convicted by a jury trial on July 3, 2015, on 15 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, and falsifying export certificates. In addition to two years of imprisonment, he was fined $60,000 and ordered to forfeit $184,933 and pay prosecution costs of $16,824. In plea agreements, Midamar president Jalel Aossey and Midamar Corp. on Sept. 9, 2015, entered guilty pleas for conspiracy and accepted terms of a consent degree with the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
The three defendants were involved in the combined appeal of their convictions based on the argument that Congress gave exclusive enforcement authority under the Federal Meat Inspection Act to the Secretary of Agriculture, meaning federal district courts have no jurisdiction.
The 8th Circuit ruling, however, found the federal statute “provides an administrative enforcement mechanism for the Secretary of Agriculture that supplements the authority of the United States Attorneys to pursue criminal prosecutions in district courts.”
In this case, the appellate court found the U.S. Attorney for Northern Iowa “properly proceeded in district court.”

Before their  convictions were upheld, William B. Aossey, 75, served two years in federal prison, and his 42-year old son, Jalel Aossey, completed his sentence of one year and one day.
Midamar Corp., which as a corporate entity, plead guilty to a single conspiracy court, has survived the criminal prosecution of the business and its officers. William B. Aossey, founder of both Midamar and the Islamic Services of America, was removed as a company officer by USDA.
The 2015 prosecutions all stemmed from the shipments of misbranded beef products to Malaysia and Indonesia during a period of about two and a half years. Midamar is a halal food distribution company based in Cedar Rapids, IA.
According to the company,  Jalel and Yahya Aossey are the current owners and managing directors of Midamar.

U.S. and Australian Food Safety Systems are “Comparable”
Source :
By Staff (Apr 19, 2017)
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new partnership with the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. Both parties now recognize each other’s food safety systems as “comparable”.  By recognizing each other’s systems, the FDA and Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources have confidence that they can leverage each other’s science-based regulatory systems to help ensure food safety.
This means that each party will consider the oversight of the other when prioritizing inspection activities. There will also be the implementation of systems recognition to help the countries collaborate on outbreak responses.
In recent years, FDA has also determined that food safety systems in New Zealand and Canada are also comparable to those in the U.S. According to FDA, “Systems recognition involves reviewing a foreign country’s domestic food safety regulatory system to determine if it has a food safety system that provides a similar system of food safety protection to that provided by the FDA. Domestic systems provide the baseline level of public health protection that helps assure the safety of exported foods from that country. Systems recognition also helps the FDA focus more on potential risks when planning the scope and frequency of its inspection activities, including foreign facility inspections, import field exams, and import sampling.”
FDA also says that systems recognition is voluntary and not required in order for a country to export foods to the U.S. The FDA continues to have inspection authority over food imported from any country with which it has an arrangement and can exercise this authority as needed. Imports from Australia must continue to comply with U.S. statutory and regulatory requirements to ensure safety and proper labeling, including the new standards adopted under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.

Are Organs-on-Chips the Next Pioneers in Food Safety?
Source :
By Food Safety Tech Staff (Apr 18, 2017)
FDA is evaluating the use of micro-engineered chips as a potential model for studying hazards in food. Last week the agency announced a multi-year cooperative R&D agreement (CRADA) with Emulate, Inc., a manufacturer of organ-on-chip technology that “emulates human biology. The company’s Human Emulation System, a platform that includes organ-chips, instrumentation and software, recreates the natural physiology of human tissues and organs with the intention of providing a “predictive model of human response to diseases, medicines, chemicals, and foods with greater precision and detail than other preclinical testing methods, such as cell culture or animal-based experimental testing,” according to the company’s press release.
“The flexible polymer organ-chips contain tiny channels lined with living human cells and are capable of reproducing blood and air flow just as in the human body. The chips are translucent, giving researchers a window into the inner workings of the organ being studied.” – Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., senior advisor for toxicology, CFSAN
In the agency’s blog, FDA Voice, Fitzpatrick states that the chip technology could shed light on how the body processes an ingredient in a supplement or how a toxin(s) affects cells. It could also one day lead to much less animal testing, if at all. The goal of the research, which will begin with a liver-chip, is to be able to predict how organs will respond to exposure to chemical hazards in foods, cosmetics and dietary supplements more precisely than cell culture or animal-based tests. In the future, other organ-chips may be used, including kidney, lung and intestine models.

FDA sends warning letter to Vietnam over importer’s seafood HACCP
Source :
By NEWS DESK (Apr 17, 2017)
Vietnam’s Ba Hai Company Limited received a warning letter dated March 21, 2017 from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over its fish and fishery products examined at  an importer located in the United States.
FDA inspected the Crystal Cove Seafood Corporation in Floral Park, NY last Oct. 13 to assess the importer’s compliance with U.S. seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations. The trading and importing company  was found importing various fish and fishery products from Ba Hai’s facility in Vietnam.
FDA said Ba Hai’s HACCP plan for scombroid species of fish contains “serious deviations” from seafood HACCP requirements, enough that its frozen scombroid species of fish are adulterated.
The warning letter says Ba Hai should keep its product “out of commerce until the cause of the deviation is corrected at the Receiving, Preserve (Anneal), and Pre-Chilled critical control points to control scombrotoxin formation.”
FDA also warns that if it finds Ba Hai’s response inadequate, it may take further action including refusing to admit the scrombroid species of fish import to the U.S. This includes the possibility the products could be detained at the U.S. border without physical examnation.
In addition to providing Ba Hai with internet access to the 4th Edition Hazards Guide, the FDA warning letter also provides detailed instruction on how the company might go about correcting the specific deviations, including instructions for harvesting and holding on fishing vessels prior to processing.
The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers lists Ba Hai Company Limited as using HACCP as a quality control system. The company is one of Vietnam’s leading seafood processors and exporters of frozen tuna, treated tuna loin, ribbon fish, shell swimming crabs, and other fishery products.
The privately held Crystal Cove Seafood Corp. engages in trading and importing frozen seafood items for wholesalers, traders, retail and restaurant chains, and processors primarily in the United States. The company was founded in 1980 and is headquartered in Floral Park, New York.

Trump’s acting solicitor opposes high court review for DeCoster
Source :
By DAN FLYNN (Apr 17, 2017)
The Acting Solicitor General of the United States has filed “the brief of respondent United States in opposition” to any further Supreme Court review of terms of imprisonment for two egg producers under the so-called “responsible corporate officer” (RCO) doctrine—which is said to be a rare instance of strict supervisory liability in the criminal law.
The new brief filed April 12 means the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is opposing the writ of certiorari filed last Jan. 10 requesting Supreme Court review by appellate attorneys for Austin (Jack) DeCosterr, 83, and son Peter DeCoster, 53.
The DeCosters were found responsible for a nationwide Salmonella outbreak in 2010 that led to the largest recall of shell eggs in U.S. history.
Jeffrey B. Wall has been serving as acting solicitor general since March 10. The solicitor general represents the government of the United States before the Supreme Court, a positions sometimes referred to as the “tenth Justice” because the office is involved in so many cases. Noel John Francisco has been nominated as Solicitor General by President Trump, and awaits Senate confirmation.
As the acting solicitor, Wall speaks for Trump’s Justice Department in opposing several prominent business organizations who want the Supreme Court to grant certiorari in DeCoster because the case could be precedent-setting for making “RCOs” do jail time.
“FDA officials give every indication that they view the draconian penalties imposed here—including the prison terms—as a model for similar cases,” said the Washington Legal Foundation’s Cory Andrews, “Either they don’t understand the limited to the “responsible corporate official” doctrine,  or else they are deliberately acting contrary to Supreme Court precedent.”
WLF is among several business-leaning organizations who filed in favor of Supreme Court review of the case.
It was just a little over two years ago on April 13, 2015 that the father and son were sentenced to three months of federal confinement by U.S. District Court Judge Mark Bennett in Sioux City. The DeCosters arrived in court with a plea agreement, in which each agreed pay a $100,000 fine and the family corporation, Quality Egg LLC, accepted a $6.8 million fine.
The $100,000 fines were for guilty pleas to one misdemeanor each for allowing as a responsible corporate official the introduction of adulterated food into commerce. Quality Egg LLC pled to three offenses including a the felony of bribing a federal egg inspection.
In sentencing, Bennett broke from the agreement and added 3 months jail time to each sentence.
Upon appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, the sentence Bennett imposed was upheld on a 2-to-1 vote. Their request for rehearing was denied by the Eighth Circuit on a 6-to-3 vote last Sept.30.
Attorneys for the DeCosters then turned their attention to the Supreme Court, obtaining a stay of the Eighth Circuit ruling on Oct. 11.
Writs of certiorari are filed on behalf of more than 7,000 cases a year, and the Supreme Court accepts only 100 to 150 for review.   Four of the nine Justices are required to for the Supreme Court to accept a case.   Petitions for certiorari  arrive weekly, they are divided among Justices participating in the “cert pool” for initial review.

Illness reports from Wisconsin Jimmy Johns show up on crowdsourcing site
Source :
By NEWS DESK (Apr 16, 2017)
The Weston, WI Jimmy John’s restaurant is being investigated by the Marathon County Health Department over possible food poisoning.  “We have received some complaints and are doing follow-up,” Health and safety director Dale Grosskurth said. “It’s a full investigation.”
The crowdsourcing site reports collecting  eight reports with a 19 total illnesses, according to spokesman Patrick Quade. One reported being treated by a doctor for norovirus.
Quade launched the site after he was a victim of food poisoning. It is designed to allow real-time reporting of food safety issues by consumers. Public health officials across the country are paying attention.
“This efficient, easy to use platform captures reports throughout the United States and globally,” Quade said. “It is in use by health departments in 70 percent of U.S. cities and has helped detect outbreaks.”
The local health department in Wisconsin began receiving reports of illnesses on April 7.
The Jimmy Johns franchise owner, Brian Macak, in a statement said: “Food quality is our top priority and drives every decision we make. The Department of Health inspected our store on Friday following a handful of complaints about one delivery, but they found no food hygiene issues at the store. Regardless, we voluntarily closed our store for a few hours yesterday afternoon to deep clean all of the equipment… The Department of Health is continuing its investigation and we are working closely with them to provide any information required.”
Grosskurth has not said how many complaints the health department is investigating, but said it could be several weeks before the investigation is complete. People reporting illnesses are being asked where they ate and when symptoms began.
One Jimmy Johns customer reported experiencing violent vomiting and diarrhea over about four hours.    That would be consistent with norovirus.
The Weston, WI Jimmy Johns is one of 2,500 locations in 46 states by the sandwich restaurant chains that specializes in delivery.  The chain was founded by Jimmy John Liautaud in 1983.  Based in Champaign, IL, 98 percent of its locations are owned by franchise holders.
Past food safety challenges for Jimmy Johns have focused mostly on its use of sprouts.






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