After a flood, think food safety
Source : http://www.hpj.com/general/after-a-flood-think-food-safety/article_066c4df8-d828-58f1-9838-0fa8f2b7c467.html
By Curt Wohleber, University of Missouri Extension (May 08, 2017)
Floods can devastate property and have lasting effects on a community. In the aftermath, people might not think about the consequences flooding can have on food.
Floodwater often contains sewage or animal waste that could contaminate foods with harmful organisms, says Londa Nwadike, food safety specialist for University of Missouri Extension and Kansas State Research and Extension.
Organisms in floodwater might include pathogens like E. coli and salmonella, which can cause foodborne illness.
“Floodwaters might also contain petroleum products such as gasoline and oil, which can cause nausea, vomiting and other short- and long-term effects if consumed in large quantities,” she said.
When in doubt, throw it out
The only foods you can keep after exposure to floodwater are commercially prepared foods in undamaged metal cans and retort pouches. Retort pouches are used to package items such as shelf-stable juices.
“All other foods exposed to floodwater should be thrown away,” Nwadike said.
This includes food in the refrigerator and freezer, as well as all foods in boxes, paper, foil or cloth. Also dispose of spices, seasonings and extracts. Throw away any home-canned foods exposed to floodwater, as it is difficult to properly disinfect the seals.
Toss out flooded foods stored in open containers, packages or canisters, as well as foods with caps and pull-tabs, such as condiments and soft drinks.
Clean and disinfect
Don’t open cans or retort pouches until you have sanitized them. Remove labels and note the contents with a permanent marker. Brush or wipe away any dirt or silt. Wash the containers thoroughly with soap and water, then rinse.
You can sanitize cans and retort pouches by two methods. The first method is to put them in a bleach solution for 15 minutes. Use 1 tablespoon unscented chlorine bleach for every gallon of water. The second method is to place them in continuously boiling water for two minutes, then air-dry.
Thoroughly wash all metal and ceramic utensils and cookware with hot, soapy water. Then rinse and disinfect by boiling in clean water or immerse for 15 minutes in a bleach solution.
Throw away all dishes with deep cracks. Plastic cookware, utensils, plates, dishes, cups and wooden utensils and bowls can’t be disinfected, so get rid of them. Plastic baby bottles, nipples and storage containers must also be pitched.
Publisher’s Award: One man’s meat is another man’s poison
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/05/publishers-award-one-mans-meat-is-another-mans-poison/#.WQ_NT9KLSUl
By BRENDA HALL-BUSCH (May 07, 2017)
Editor’s note: This is 2017 winner of the “Publisher’s Award” for essays written as part of a food safety litigation class at the University of Arkansas Law School taught by Bill Marler and Denis Stearns of the Seattle law firm MarlerClark LLP.
In 2015, General Mills announced that it would produce gluten-free Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios. This was a boon to nearly 30 percent of consumers who avoid gluten. However, in July of that year, due to a transportation mix-up at General Mills’ Lodi, CA, facility, wheat flour was mistakenly used instead of gluten free oat flour to make the cereal.
That October, General Mills announced a recall of approximately 1.8 million units of Cheerios produced at the California facility. Nevertheless, as a result of this mix-up, plaintiffs who bought the cereals brought class action lawsuits in the Eastern District of California against General Mills for claims related to selling misbranded food, alleging that the Cheerios cereals were labeled, “gluten free” when in actuality they were not.
Is this just another instance of an opportunistic plaintiffs’ bar trying to profit off of a simple error? No. General Mills’ error, and the actions taken as a result, are a helpful gauge for evaluating the steps that should be taken by a company to assure that its products contain what their labels say they contain, especially for people suffering from food allergies.
Food allergies are a serious problem in the United States, and indeed, around the world. According to FARE, an advocacy group for food allergy research and education, it is estimated that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. Nearly 6 million, or 8 percent of children, have food allergies, with young children being affected most. The number of people with allergies in the US is growing.
Food intolerances are another, although milder, negative biological reaction to food. A severe form of food allergy is Celiac’s disease, an allergy to gluten, the protein found in wheat. Celiac’s disease is a condition that causes damage to the lining of the small intestine in response to eating gluten. The damaged intestine does not absorb needed components of food and this can lead to other problems like delayed growth and intestinal cancer.
Food intolerances do not involve the immune system, as allergies do, although they may cause some of the same symptoms as a food allergy. An example of an intolerance would be lactose intolerance, when a person’s small intestine does not produce enough of the lactase enzyme and is unable to digest lactose, the natural sugar in dairy products. This causes gas, bloating, and other intestinal discomfort.
Eight foods account for 90 percent of all food allergic reactions: milk, wheat (and gluten, the protein found in wheat), eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts and almonds), soy, fish, and shellfish. Even proteins from these foods released into the air from vapor or steam while cooking can potentially cause allergic reactions.
The most severe allergic reaction is anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening. It can occur within seconds or minutes of exposure to an allergen, such as peanuts or bee stings. It causes the immune system to release a flood of chemicals that can cause an allergy sufferer to go into shock, their blood pressure drops suddenly and the airways narrow, blocking breathing. Anaphylaxis can be fatal.
This is why the “mix-up” at General Mills in July of 2015 is a matter of real concern. Immediately after General Mills started selling these products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — the agency charged with ensuring that foods manufactured and sold in the U.S. are correctly labeled and branded — began receiving complaints about the level of gluten in the cereals. The FDA tested samples of the cereals and found that the level of gluten exceeded the FDA’s permissible levels.
The FDA is the oldest consumer protection agency in the United States government. It was established in 1906 to prevent the introduction of adulterated foods into commerce. In 1938, Congress passed the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). This established the legal framework for the FDA’s current operation.
The FDA’s primary work was to protect public health by:
“assuring the safety, efficacy and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation … FDA is also responsible for advancing the public health by helping to speed innovations that make medicines more effective, safer, and more affordable and by helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines and foods to maintain and improve their health.”
Although the FDA’s responsibilities are not solely related to food but include medicines and cosmetics, the agency has been a ground breaker in its regulation of food labeling. The FDCA’s ingredient labeling requirements, which mandated that the name of a food, “a statement of ingredients, the net quantity of contents, and the name and address of the manufacturer … in a standardized format on food labels” were previously unheard of.
The FDA began to actively concern itself with allergen labeling in the 1990s. Food sensitive consumers began to advocate for more informative food labeling. By the early 1990s organizations for food sensitive individuals were growing due to the increase in the awareness of food sensitivities, diagnosis of food sensitivities, and the use of the internet. People who were having allergic reactions to foods they were eating that contained allergens that were not clearly labeled as having contained them were contacting the FDA and triggering recalls. The FDA was receiving petitions to improve allergen labeling and in 2001, held public meetings to discuss food labeling.
In addition to the FDA’s efforts to focus on allergen labeling, Congress joined the effort. U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey introduced legislation to improve allergen disclosure on food labels in 200. Senators Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Judd Gregg, a Republican from New Hampshire, promoted allergen labeling initiatives.
Improving allergen labeling became a national issue. Congress unanimously passed the Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) in 2004. It amended the FDCA by adding the requirement that foods list the allergens they contained near the ingredient label, or be deemed misbranded, and unable to circulate in commerce.
The act’s labeling requirements are mandatory, and apply to foods labeled on or after Jan. 1, 2006. The congressional findings emphasize the facts that 2 percent of adults and 5 percent of infants and young children suffer from food allergies, and that each year 150 people die from allergic reactions to food. It referenced celiac disease. It also noted that the FDA sampled baked goods that were publicly sold and found that a quarter of them failed to disclose that they contained peanuts and eggs, major food allergens. In addition, many consumers did not realize that certain ingredients contained allergens. The act was intended to empower consumers with more information about the food they were buying so that they were not risking their lives with every food purchase.
The Act also required the FDA to start a process for formulating a definition for the term “gluten free.” In 2013 the FDA issued a final rule defining the requirements for foods labeled “gluten-free.” Foods labeled “gluten-free” “must contain less than 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten” because scientific testing cannot reliably detect gluten levels below that amount.
By the FDA’s safety assessments, a 0.01 parts per million thresholds for gluten in food would be safe even for the most sensitive person with celiac disease. The “gluten-free” label can also be used with foods that do not contain any type of wheat or rye.
The purpose of FALCPA is to provide consumers with information so that they can make informed food choices and not inadvertently put their lives at risk. Although some critics of the act argue that if a product has any gluten at all, even under 20 ppm, it should be so labeled, so that the consumer has knowledge of what their food contains. However, the FDA set that limit so that foods containing trace amounts of gluten weren’t completely unavailable to people who are already burdened by having to maintain a “gluten-free” diet.
There are penalties to violating FDA regulations, ranging from warning letters, to fines, to jail time. However, as a matter of policy, the FDA prefers self-correction. In light of that fact, how can consumers like the ones in Van Lengen or Haddix trust that their “gluten-free’ items are actually that, and not the product of some mix-up?
In recent years there has been an increase in the number of consumer class action lawsuits challenging labeling claims as misleading. Whether plaintiffs obtain money judgments or not, lawsuits such as Van Lengen and Haddix cause companies to take corrective action to assure that they comply with FDA regulations.
In the case of General Mills in particular, as a result of the lawsuits, the company began “testing all finished product… [and has] instituted additional flour handling protocols at all facilities to ensure this will not happen again.” Plaintiff lawsuits help keep companies cognizant of their responsibilities to do their best to be worthy of the public’s trust, by producing products that are exactly as their labels claim they are.
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CDC says soy nut butter outbreak ‘over’ — but threat continues
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/05/cdc-says-soy-nut-butter-outbreak-over-but-threat-continues/#.WQ_NldKLSUl
By CORAL BEACH (May 06, 2017)
Although the government has posted its final update on the E. coli outbreak traced to SoyNut Butter Co. products — reporting 32 people across a dozen states confirmed sick — there is an ongoing threat and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is repeating earlier warnings.
“The recalled SoyNut Butter products have long shelf lives and may still be in people’s homes or in institutions. People who don’t know about the recalls could continue to eat the products and get sick,” according to the final update from the CDC.
“CDC recommends that consumers do not eat, and childcare centers, schools, and other institutions do not serve, any of the recalled products. Even if some of the product was eaten or served and no one got sick, throw the rest of it away. Put it in a sealed bag in the trash so that children, pets, or other animals can’t eat it.”
Epidemiological investigation, laboratory tests and distribution records provided evidence allowing state and federal officials to trace the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak to I.M. Healthy brand soy nut butter sold by the SoyNut Butter Co.
The most recent victim’s symptoms began on April 18. The first confirmed illness began on Jan. 4, according to the CDC. Of the 32 sick people, 26 were children. No deaths have been reported, but 12 of the victims required hospitalization and nine developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure.
Public health officials identified the outbreak using while genome sequencing, which involves comparing the so-called DNA fingerprints of the outbreak strain of E. coli isolated from sick people. The E. coli matched, suggesting a common source.
Patient interviews showed that 25 out of 25 people interviewed said they ate soy nut butter in the days before becoming ill.
“Laboratory testing identified (E. coli) O157:H7 in opened containers of I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter collected from the homes of ill people in California, Oregon, and Washington,” the CDC reported.
“Officials in California also isolated (E. coli) O157:H7 in unopened containers of I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter collected from retail locations. Whole genome sequencing showed that the (E. coli) O157:H7 in all of these containers of SoyNut Butter were closely related genetically to isolates from ill people, providing more evidence that people in this outbreak got sick from eating I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut butter.”
Investigators reported to CDC that there were two additional ill people who either developed HUS or had a diagnostic test showing they were infected with E. coli bacteria. In interviews, both of these ill people reported eating I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter in the week before becoming ill.
The CDC did not, however, include these people in the outbreak victim count because no bacterial isolates, or samples, were available for DNA fingerprinting.
FDA shuts down producer Dixie Dew Products Inc.
The Food and Drug Administration worked with the CDC on the outbreak investigation and eventually shut down the manufacturer of the soy nut butter, noting that records and employees at Dixie Dew Products Inc. revealed food safety violations going back at least 15 years.
FDA officials have said they believe all of the potentially contaminated products made with soy paste from the Kentucky company have been recalled, but they are asking the food industry, foodservice operations, schools and consumers to double check the ingredients they have on hand.
The SoyNut Butter Co. recalled its I.M. Healthy brand products made with soy paste from Dixie Dew earlier this year. It expanded the recall to include Dixie Diner’s Carb Not Beanie Butter. On March 25 “Yogurt Peanut Crunch” protein bars, packaged under the 20/20 Life Styles brand, were recalled.
“All of the soy nut butter products manufactured by Dixie Dew have been recalled. Although the suspension of registration applies to the entire facility, FDA does not currently have evidence to indicate that any other products manufactured in the facility are contaminated or otherwise impacted and subject to recall,” according to the FDA suspension notice.
“If you are the brand owner of a product manufactured by Dixie Dew, the FDA encourages you to contact the Director of Compliance Branch at your FDA district office to discuss your product(s). The FDA is currently collecting and testing other products manufactured by Dixie Dew.”
The suspension order applies to the entire facility. While the order is in effect, no food product may leave the facility for sale or distribution.
The future of food safety: the revolution is on our doorsteps.
Source : https://www.newfoodmagazine.com/article/41390/future-food-safety-revolution-doorsteps/
By Rob Chester (May 05, 2017)
In five years’ time, how will best practice look for food safety in light of technological developments?
At NSF International’s own conference, ‘Evolution Meets Revolution’, in London in February 2017, familiar as I am with the developments in the fast-evolving food sector, I was bowled over by the scale of largely positive change that technology is bringing our way. This really is a revolution. As Tom Chestnut, NSF International’s Global VP for Food, said “we can’t see it now, but we will look back on the year 2017 as a tipping point for the food industry”. This is the moment when innovations that have been considered as niche developments for early adopters will transform into mass market industry and consumer tools. By 2036 there will be one trillion connected devices, with 10 billion users and $20 trillion in revenue, but if you think 20 years is a long time off , I can assure you there’s an awful lot more to think about in the next five years.
What brings opportunities often brings problems and technology is no exception. Increasing complexity and power in human hands places huge responsibilities upon all of us. The developers of artificial intelligence worry greatly about social responsibility.
The challenges to today’s brands are many and complex. They have to meet the requirements to maintain consumer trust, be legally compliant, achieve brand protection and fulfil corporate social responsibilities across multiple territories. This means at a minimum the need for diligence in food safety and quality, nutrition, product authenticity, supply chain security, animal welfare, ethical trading issues and sustainability. At the same time the pace of technological change is accelerating. In the last few years we have seen the advent of big data, predictive analytics, the internet of things, robotic working, 3D and 4D printing, DNA and isotope traceability, genetic modification, genome editing and more. Some of these add to the complexity of risk management, while others can help us manage supply chain risks more effectively. For this article I have picked just three innovations that are already impacting on how we approach food safety and brand protection: wearable technology, predictive analytics and alternative sources of protein. There were many more, which ranged from scientific techniques to verify the provenance of food products, as explained by Oritain’s Stewart Whitehead, through to a new standard, Clearview, aimed at helping the supply chain stamp out modern slavery.
NSF International has been working with Google for nearly three years to fine-tune the application of Google glasses for food safety auditing and training. A huge advantage to the user testing has been the fact that NSF already audits all of Google’s worldwide food operations, and advancing the use of wearable technology was a natural evolution for a progressive company like Google. The latest hardware employed by NSF, the ODG R7, now has full-screen viewing while still maintaining full field of vision to complete tasks in total safety. As the user conducts an audit or task, they see a small screen that can display additional material for guidance, instruction and two-way audio-visual communication. The device also includes a camera and operates wirelessly, controlled through a small mouse worn on the finger. The potential uses are numerous: first and foremost, it means that remote auditing – in hard to reach or unsafe locations – becomes an economically viable proposition. Not only that, but even an untrained operator can carry out the audit with full guidance and tuition from a live auditor sitting at a screen on the other side of the world. Alternatively, extra guidance can be provided by pre-recorded mini training sessions. The possibilities are endless.
The pace of technological change is accelerating. In the last few years we have seen the advent of big data, predictive analytics, the internet of things, robotic working, 3D and 4D printing, DNA and isotope traceability, genetic modification, genome editing and more.
While NSF International is an early adopter of this technology, wearables are also in wide-spread use in the aerospace and automotive industries which typically require complex and high-precision tasks where accuracy is essential. The wearable technology market will already be worth over $126 billion by 2020. This is the so-called fourth computer paradigm (following mainframe computers, laptops and mobiles) where wearable devices will take over from mobile as the norm. But where it has taken mobile phones 10 years to develop from an iPhone 1 to today’s iPhone 7, the development of smart glasses will be four times as fast. By 2020 they will be a mainstream consumer product and mobile phones will rapidly be becoming a thing of the past. How will these and other devices in the Internet of Things connect? Likely through more innovation such as Google’s Project Loon (solar-powered balloons), high in the stratosphere, no more than 40 miles apart, providing high-speed connectivity across the globe. Facebook plans to use solar-powered drones to the same end.
Predictive analytics for food safety
The world’s capacity to store and manipulate data has grown exponentially to the point where artificial intelligence now outstrips human thinking and data can be measured in zettabytes. Where you have sufficient data, you can predict with reasonable confidence future outcomes. Predictive analytics are already in common use in other sectors, for example insurance, fleet management and for public policy, and, like wearable technology, the food industry is a relatively late adopter. In the UK, while the number of food business is growing fast, and customer complaints are rising by a similar percentage, the number of employees involved in food hygiene regulation and enforcement by comparison has fallen by 15%. How can we keep our citizens safe? In Chicago, U.S., the authorities have proven that predictive analytics can forecast accurately when there is a major risk of a food business failing a food safety audit and enable pre-emptive action to be taken.
FDA to Spend $3M Educating Consumers on Safety of GMOs
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/news/fda-to-spend-3m-educating-consumers-on-safety-of-gmos/
By Staff (May 05, 2017)
This week, a federal budget agreement passed that prevented a government shutdown. Part of that agreement has allocated $3 million to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a new campaign--in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture--to educate consumers about foods produced with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Consumers will be informed about the “environmental, nutritional, food safety, economic and humanitarian impacts” of genetically modified or “biotech” crops that make up almost all of the U.S.’s corn and soybean sources. Together, the agencies will distribute “science-based educational information.”
The funding was requested just last month by a large group of agriculture and food industry advocates in an effort to oppose what they call too much “misinformation” about GMOs. On the other hand, opponents of the government-sponsored campaign say it’s nothing more than a public relations gimmick for GMO companies. There is also skepticism regarding the government pushing what appears to be a pro-GMO agenda.
“The FDA has to regulate the safety of our food supply and medical devices. They are not, nor should they be, in the pro-industry advertising business,” says Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-NY).
FDA’s program to educate the public about GMOs has no known launch date as of yet.
Permanent Injunction Entered Against Syfrett Feed Company
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/permanent-injunction-entered-against-syfrett-feed-company/
B News Desk (May 5, 2017)
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida has entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Syfrett Feed Company of Okeechobee, Florida for distributing misbranded and adulterated medicated animal feed. According to the complaint, the company’s medicated animal feeds did not list the names of active drug ingredients and did not include adequate instruction for use, including feeding limitations, dose administration, and cautionary statements for the use of drugs in combination with other drugs.
The complaint also alleges that the feed was not manufactured in conformity with current good manufacturing practices for medicated feeds. The complaint alleges that the defendants failed to “establish and maintain adequate procedures for the identification, storage, and inventory control of drugs intended for use in their medicated feeds, and failed to establish and use adequate procedures for all equipment used in the production and distribution of medicated feeds to avoid unsafe contamination of animal feeds.”
Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division said in a statement, “Animal feed manufacturers that fail to comply with labeling and good manufacturing requirements for medicated animal feeds jeopardize the health of animals. The Department of Justice and FDA will continue to work together to ensure that animal feed manufacturers produce safe medicated animal feed products.”
The complaint also alleges that Syfrett Feed recalled its non-medicated horse pellet food in April 2014 after customers complained that their horses were getting sick. The complaint states that 15 horses had to be euthanized. Then, in September 2014, two more horses had to be euthanized after eating Syfrett Feed’s horse pellet food. Syfrett Feed then discontinued manufacturing medicated and non-medicated feeds for horses.
The consent decree resolves the litigation. The defendants must adhere to the law’s labeling requirements and current good manufacturing practices for medicated animal feeds. Syfrett Feed must also stop manufacturing medical animal feed until the company implements specified remedial measures. Those measures include, according to the complaint, “retaining an expert to conduct an inspection of Syfrett Feed and certifying that the company’s manufacturing methods, facilities and controls are in conformity with current good manufacturing practices for medicated feeds.”
Hepatitis A found in tuna; time limited for post-exposure shots
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/05/hepatitis-a-found-in-tuna-time-limited-for-post-exposure-shots/#.WQ_OrtKLSUl
By NEWS DESK (May 04, 2017)
People who recently ate poke in Hawaii that was prepared with contaminated, frozen raw tuna still have time to receive post-exposure vaccinations for Hepatitis A. The frozen ahi cubes were distributed to retailers, restaurants and caterers by Tropic Fish Hawaii LLC and was sold to the public between April 27 and May 1 on Oahu.
“Because it generally takes two weeks for those infected to develop symptoms of Hepatitis A, vaccination or immune globulin can still provide some protection against the disease for those who may have been exposed in the last week,” state epidemiologist Sarah Park said in a Department of Health news release.
The implicated frozen ahi cubes are from Indonesia. Wholesaler Tropic Fish Hawaii distributed the tuna to several grocery stores and other customers before receiving screening test results for the Hepatitis A virus.
Anyone who ate poke made with the implicated tuna between April 27 and May 1 at any of the following locations should seek medical attention to determine if they need the post-exposure vaccine:
Times Supermarket and Shima’s locations in Aiea, Kailua, Kaneohe, Kunia, Liliha, Mililani, Waipahu and Waimanalo;
GP Hawaiian Food Catering; and
Crab Shack Kapolei, also known as Maile Sunset Bar & Grill in Kapolei.
Earlier reports that the recalled, contaminated tuna had been sold at Aloha Sushi at 3131 N. Nimitz and the ABC store at 205 Lewers St. were incorrect, according to statements Tropical Fish president Shawn Tanoue provided to local media.
“Our normal procedure is to receive the test results prior to distribution, but unfortunately that did not happen with this particular shipment,” Tanoue told the Pacific Business News. “We have corrected our procedures to ensure this will not happen again. I want to personally apologize to our customers and the public. We are a local company and pride ourselves in our work and in providing the highest-quality products.”
The distributor, which is a subsidiary of CMU and Associates on the Big Island, recalled the imported, frozen raw tuna and notified its customers not to use it after learning of the positive test results for Hepatitis A on Monday, according to the Hawaii Department of Health.
About 140 out of 200 cases of the frozen ahi cubes were recovered before they were sold to distributors. The remaining products were reportedly picked up before they reached retail customers.
The Hawaii Department of Health is working with the Tropic Fish Hawaii LLC and visiting all affected facilities to ensure proper sanitation and decontamination procedures are taken, according to the department’s news release. The implicated tuna is embargoed by the state until further testing is determined and coordination with federal authorities is completed.
FDA warned Tropic Fish Hawaii in July 2016 about food safety violations
A warning letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on July 27, 2016, cited Tropic Fish for producing ahi tuna, mahi mahi, and skipjack tuna under insanitary conditions.
FDA told company president Tanoue in the warning letter that Tropic Fish needed a seafood HACCP plan for its fresh, refrigerated histamine-forming fish and keep it at 40 degrees F or below. The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plan is required by federal law.
Other specific violations noted in the July 2016 FDA warning letter include:
Failure to keep seafood properly refrigerated;
Failure to properly document employee health conditions that could result in the microbiological contamination of food, food packaging materials, and food contact surfaces;
Inspector’s observation of an employee dragging tuna across the floor onto a pallet after management instructed the employee to place the fish onto pallets; and
Improper and inadequate temperature monitoring of seafood.
Advice to consumers
It will be some time before the Hawaii state health department can give the all clear signal. The incubation period for Hepatitis A runs from two to six weeks. Health officials are urging consumers who ate poke with tuna at the locations listed above to not wait for symptoms to develop before seeking medical attention.
Symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, diarrhea, and yellow skin and eyes. Anyone, including foodservice employees, exhibiting symptoms of Hepatitis A should stay home and contact their healthcare provider, according to the state health department news release.
The post-exposure vaccine must be taken within two weeks of exposure or it is not effective, the health department reported.
“While vaccination provides the best protection, frequent hand washing with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A. Appropriately cooking foods can also help to prevent infection,” according to the state health department.
A Pakistani province starts taking food safety seriously
Source : http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21721694-slaving-over-hot-tandoorin-hairnet-pakistani-province-starts-taking-food-safety-seriously
By economist.com (May 04, 2017)
SOMETHING catches the eye on Anarkali Food Street in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province. Bakers are pulling nan bread out of a tandoor oven, just as they did when the 200-year-old bazaar was founded. One detail, however, is strikingly contemporary: synthetic paper hairnets, in a vivid shade of green. “We are worried about the food inspector,” explains Muhammad Aslam, as he wraps dough around a stone.
The feared scrutineers belong to the Punjab Food Authority (PFA), the first agency of its kind in Pakistan. Founded in 2011, it has its work cut out: some restaurants use rancid cooking oil, keep raw chicken on the floor or try to pass off donkey as beef. Such a scandal is the state of hygiene in Pakistan’s restaurants that television shows about crime often feature exposés of particularly abhorrent eateries, using jerky footage from hand-held cameras.
The PFA’s new chief, Noorul Amin Mengal, says it cannot hope to keep tabs on all Punjab’s food outlets. On April 17th he proposed that restaurant customers conduct their own food inspections, using a smartphone app produced by the PFA. But restaurants will be hostile to such intrusion: most of them do not welcome visitors to their kitchens. Your correspondent asked to enter several in Lahore, in both down-at-heel establishments and ritzy ones, and was barred each time.
Pakistan’s government, however, is keen on food inspections. In the past two months it has approved an expansion of the PFA’s operations from cities to rural areas, and signed off on the creation of equivalent agencies in the province of Sindh and in Islamabad, the capital.
A fomer PFA official, Ayesha Mumtaz, made it wildly popular. In just over a year at the agency, she ordered almost 3,000 restaurants to close until they had made improvements, and arrested close to 400 people for selling dodgy fare. She transformed the food culture of Lahore, says Yasmin Khan, a restaurant-owner. Lookalikes of the so-called “fearless lady” used to send the kebab-hawkers on Anarkali Food Street running for cover.
Mrs Mumtaz has 61,000 fans on Facebook; the central-government minister responsible for food safety has barely 4,000. But she made enemies in the food business and among politicians connected with it. She was removed from her post in October, after allegations of corruption involving her driver surfaced. Since then, Lahoris say, there has been a lull in inspections.
The fear Mrs Mumtaz inspired still keeps some food-sellers on their toes. “If Ayesha Mumtaz wasn’t so strict, I wouldn’t be wearing this glove,” says a cupcake-salesman who had not realised that she had been replaced. But as temperatures rise and inspections wane, others are already abandoning their bothersome hygienic garb.
Tips for cutting down on food waste while keeping food safety in mind
Source : http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/tips_for_cutting_down_on_food_waste_while_keeping_food_safety_in_mind
By Jane Hart , Michigan State University Extension (May 02, 2017)
Did you know that May is Older Americans Month? Time to think about cutting down on food waste and to remembering food safety while we’re at it.
When I had family at home, I always made enough food for six or more. Any leftovers were kept for lunches, ingredients for the next meal(s) and/or snacks. Now, I make way too much for one and have to plan what to do next with anything left over.
Vegetables are about the easiest foods to find other uses for. I always have a freezer container available to put leftover cooked vegetables. When making soup or stew, it is so easy to add my “mixed vegetables.” Things like mashed potatoes can even be added to the mix. Although freezing potatoes isn’t recommended, it is fine to put in a soup. No soup will ever taste like the last one you made, but the added nutrition is worth it, along with the savings by using leftovers.
Leftover meat and main dishes can also be salvaged. Meat can be sliced for sandwiches, or save meat with gravy for another meal. I often grind cooked meat into a sandwich spread as well, mixing with salad dressing, onion, celery and/or pickle. It will only be good for a few days in the refrigerator, so don’t make enough for an army. Many of my lunches consist of main dishes (casseroles) put into freezer containers. For organizational purposes, I date, label and freeze to use within three months. Depending on the size, they can be used for one or more people.
If you’re one to make your own soup stock, save any bones from chicken, pork or beef in a freezer bag until you have enough to boil up a batch. After removing the bones form the broth, you can take the meat off and put back into the broth for soup. This makes a hearty broth, and something to add your leftover frozen vegetables you’ve been saving. Add rice, noodles or dumplings for a great meal.
It’s pretty difficult to purchase bread when living by yourself and not have it get moldy by the end of the loaf. An easy way to keep it fresh is to freeze the loaf and take out one or two slices as needed. It takes very little time to thaw, and can be put right into the toaster if you’re in a hurry.
Do not store your bread in the refrigerator; it doesn’t last as long. It you do have bread that dries out, make bread crumbs for toppings on casseroles or cut into cubes for stuffing.
Seniors need to be concerned about food safety, as we are considered more susceptible to the bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. Taking care of leftovers in a safe way is a good start at keeping bacteria at bay. There is an app called FoodKeeper that gives guidance on how long to keep food. Using your leftovers can help save money, but stay safe while doing so.
Food Companies to Display Calorie Counts Despite FDA Delay
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/news/food-companies-to-display-calorie-counts-despite-fda-delay/
By Staff (May 03, 2017)
Earlier this week, it was announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would extend the compliance date for menu labeling requirements. Now--despite the one-year extension--foodservice operators are moving forward with their efforts despite compliance not being required until May 7, 2018. The menu labeling law is part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.
The new law places the onus on restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, coffee shops and businesses that sell prepared foods to display calorie counts on both menus and packaged food labels. Originally, the compliance date was set for this week--May 5, 2017. The law is mainly applicable to businesses that boast 20 or more locations.
The extension, according to FDA, allows the agency to find more affordable and flexible ways to make compliance a bit easier for all involved. The compliance deadline for this menu labeling rule was also previously delayed in 2015 and 2016.
However, the delay comes a bit late for food companies that already spent the time and money (in terms of employee training, caloric testing and new menu/label printing) to get in line with regulations they thought would be legally required in just a matter of days. Thus, companies are moving forward with new labeling despite having an additional year to comply.
FDA is accepting public comments on how to improve the menu labeling rule. A 60-day comment period will begin on May 4, 2017.
Comments can be submitted online via http://www.regulations.gov. Written comments can be sent to:
Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061
Rockville, MD 20852
All comments should be identified with Docket No. FDA-2011-F-0172 for “Food Labeling; Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments; Extension of Compliance Date and Request for Comments.”
Food Defense Training and the New “Focused Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food against Intentional Adulteration” Rule
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/food-defense-training-and-the-new-e2809cfocused-mitigation-strategies-to-protect-food-against-intentional-adulteratione2809d-rule/
By Richard M. Ritota (May 02, 2017)
On May 27, 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized a new food safety rule entitled “Focused Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food against Intentional Adulteration” under the landmark FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. As such, food defense under FDA has now moved from a voluntary program to a mandated requirement for many food establishments. However, most of the larger food wholesalers have already established active food defense programs to protect their brand as well as to meet third-party audit requirements. The regulated industry may also look beyond the rule requirements for additional measures that may afford another layer of protection. A strong cost-benefit analysis before initiating any elective measures is essential. Within this article, the importance of food defense and awareness training, those training requirements found in the new FDA rule, and information that should be helpful in a cost-benefits analysis when considering training beyond the Rule requirements will be discussed.
While the scope of this article does not permit going through each of the new rule requirements in detail, a discussion of FDA’s overall approach to the rules and an assessment of the approach with regard to protecting against intentional adulteration will provide context as well as a starting point for rethinking training and enhancing your company’s food defense program.
Overall, this rule will help to prevent wide-scale public health harm by requiring certain food companies in the United States and abroad to take steps to prevent intentional adulteration of the food supply.
FDA decided to regulate food defense similar to a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system, which has widespread usage by food processors. While the rule has similarities to HACCP, the rule also takes some different approaches by virtue of its focus on intentional contamination/adulteration of food product verses our historical focus of unintentional contamination/adulteration. For example, instead of identifying hazards as in HACCP, firms will identify vulnerabilities. Within this new rule, as with HACCP and the Preventive Controls for Human Food rule, monitoring, corrective action, verification and periodic reanalysis of the plan is required.
Under the new rule, for the first time, both domestic and foreign food facilities are required to complete and maintain a written food defense plan that assesses their potential vulnerabilities to deliberate adulteration where the intent is to cause wide-scale public health harm. Regulated facilities now must identify and implement mitigation strategies to address these vulnerabilities, establish food defense monitoring procedures and corrective actions, verify that the system is working, ensure that personnel assigned to the vulnerable areas receive appropriate training and maintain certain records. Generally, a reanalysis is required every 3 years unless other certain criteria are met.
Training Requirements under the New Rule
Section 121.4 of the FDA Final Rule, entitled “Qualifications of Individuals Who Perform Activities under Subpart C,” delineates training requirements for facilities covered under the rule. The rule takes a tiered approach in addressing who is required to meet specific training as well as their experience requirements dependent upon the activity performed. Section 121.4 is only applicable to those individuals who perform activities found in Subpart C “Food Defense Measures.” Those activities found in Subpart C are specifically the food defense plan, vulnerability assessment, mitigation strategies that include ‘actionable process steps’ and strategies management components, food defense monitoring, food defense corrective actions, food defense verification and reanalysis. An “actionable process step” is defined as “a point, step, or procedure in a food process where a significant vulnerability exists and at which mitigation strategies can be applied and are essential to significantly minimize or prevent the significant vulnerability.”
In general, the final rule mandates all individuals who perform activities under Subpart C to be qualified through training, education or job experience, or through a combination thereof. Employees performing activities under Subpart C include temporary and seasonal personnel. Such individuals are defined in the rule as Qualified Individuals (QIs) and are not required to be employees of the establishment. Section 121.4 requires that individuals performing activities under Subpart C have certain qualifications that vary based on the activity performed. Remember that any employee who would perform job activities limited to those not found under Subpart C is excluded from the mandatory training in the rule.
Individuals and their supervisors at actionable process steps must be QIs and have the appropriate education, training, or experience (or a combination thereof) necessary to properly implement the mitigation strategy specific to their job assignments and receive training in food defense awareness. Many firms will be able to meet these requirements using a combination of internal training and using available free courses and tools developed by regulators such as FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and/ or academia in addition to contacting outside firms for training should that be a preference.
As part of the tiered approach, increased qualifications are required for those individuals who prepare the food defense plan, conduct a vulnerability assessment, identify and explain the mitigation strategies or conduct the reanalysis of the food defense plan. These individuals must be a QI and have successfully completed training for the specific activity at least equivalent to that received under a standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by FDA or be otherwise qualified through job experience to conduct the activities. Job experience may qualify an individual to perform any of the activities listed previously if such experience has provided an individual with knowledge at least equivalent to that provided through the standardized curriculum. It is the intent of FDA to establish a standardized training curriculum, available online, of approximately 4 hours for those individuals performing these activities with the exception of the vulnerability assessment.
For those individuals performing a vulnerability assessment, the training will likely be more extensive. As the Hazard Analysis is vital for the HACCP plan to function as intended, as is the vulnerability assessment for a food defense plan. Conducting a vulnerability assessment is a unique and difficult challenge that requires skills in food safety, food defense and general security, along with excellent decision making and science-based analytical skills. Such a diverse background for one individual is not commonly found, especially within smaller companies. As such, this training will benefit much of the regulated industry. FDA has indicated that the curriculum designed for this activity will require multiple days; however, the course length could vary based on the vulnerability assessment method chosen.
It is important to note that Section 121.4(d) of the rule mandates that the responsibility for ensuring compliance by individuals with the rule’s requirements be clearly assigned to supervisory personnel with adequate qualifications to supervise the activities.
Training and the Importance of a Food Defense Culture
With few exceptions, there is good argument that general food defense and awareness training should be provided to all employees. Please note, however, that in the final rule, FDA does not take this approach and limits training to those activities found under Subpart C. FDA believes that it is useful to train all employees; however, the best use of resources is to train individuals at actionable process steps in food defense awareness, because that is where intentional adulteration, when intended to cause wide scale public health harm, is most likely to occur.
Many in the food industry feel one of the most critical food defense mitigation strategies is to establish a culture of food defense through corporate example, leadership, employee awareness and employee training. A food defense culture is simply one of the most vital pillars for a successful food defense plan. Widespread use of cameras in critical areas of a food operation is essential as is the concept of properly trained employees as mobile cameras, listening devices and alarms when something out of the ordinary. Employees should be instructed to be vigilant and be required to report odd or suspicious activity. Good training can help all staff to mitigate smaller scale acts of intentional adulteration as well as those intended to cause wide-scale public health harm.
Companies must protect their facility, brand, product and their employees; however, distinguishing among overall facility security, personnel security and food defense can be a challenge. For example, who knows if a disgruntled employee may attack the food product (food defense training) or coworkers (violence in the workplace training), or seek to damage the facility (facility security training)? Having all staff constantly vigilant of their surroundings and committed to reporting/responding to potential suspicious activity is the best defense against a disgruntled worker or a terrorist. We often hear of concerns surrounding home-grown terrorists. While often lacking sophistication, those that wish to do harm can be highly successful when they know how to blend within our culture. Employees know their coworkers, recognize those making deliveries and often many of the visitors to facilities. With proper food defense training they just may be in the best position to note atypical action and could be the only defense against someone willing to carry out criminal activity. The Department of Homeland Security has many more stringent barriers to penetrate (as indicated below in the solid rings), whereas hometown security, and indeed often facility security, has a more penetrable barrier (as noted by the single dotted ring), making nefarious actions easier to carry out, particularly by those who understand the culture and can thus better blend in.
In the illustration, the term “hometown” is used instead of the more common term of “homegrown.” The use of hometown better demonstrates the simple and unfortunate situation that there may only be localized opportunities to interfere with their intentions. In some scenarios, such local opportunities could be limited just to a vigilant employee.
It is worthwhile to note that although an act of intentional adulteration is not likely to occur in the U.S. based upon a historical perspective, violence in the workplace is much more common. Such is the example on December 2, 2015, in San Bernardino, California, where 14 people were killed and 22 were seriously injured in a terrorist attack in the workplace where a coworker and his wife targeted a San Bernardino County Department of Public Health training event and Christmas party, of about 80 employees. There are many cases of workplace violence and to repeat, having a trained vigilant staff is critical as a counter measure for more than intentional food contamination.
For facilities under the new rule, staff who monitor, take corrective actions and conduct verification within vulnerable areas must receive appropriate training. This training must be specific to the tasks assigned. All training records must be maintained. When staff fail at any of these tasks, prompt corrective action must take place and questions such as those noted below must be answered.
• Was the problem a result of inadequate training?
• If so, what were the training deficiencies?
• Should the task be reassigned?
• How will such identified deficiencies be corrected?
Besides facility/activity-specific training, more general training, such as the excellent food defense training that has been developed by FDA and USDA, should also be provided, The FDA’s “Food Defense 101, Food Defense Awareness for the Front-line Employee,” is a great course to meet the food defense awareness requirement. State food safety agencies have also developed superb food defense materials, although unfortunately many of these training materials are often underutilized. Training must also include facility specific training for some employees, general security and company-sponsored incentive plans.
Another excellent resource that companies should strongly consider utilizing and training their employees to use to build new or enhance existing food defense programs is the FDA “Food Defense Plan Builder,” a free and downloadable software program developed by FDA for use by the food processing industry. More information on this tool can be found at www.fda.gov/Food/FoodDefense/ToolsEducationalMaterials/ucm349888.htm.
Food defense and awareness training should not be limited to a one-time occurrence. There are times where retraining may be required under the rule, such as when there is a change in production, resulting in a new mitigation strategy. In this case, affected employees and supervisors may need retraining if their responsibilities under Subpart C change. The training may be shorter than the original training but will need to be facility/activity specific. In general, refresher training for all employees is recommended.
A critical and fundamental aspect of training is the familiar “If you see something, say something.” It is vital that a culture is in place that encourages employees to be comfortable reporting something out of the ordinary and not have to worry about criticism or retaliation if a false alarm. Often overlooked, employers must remember to stress confidentiality to their staff when something is reported.
The “Focused Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food against Intentional Adulteration” rule protects our food against intentional adulteration where the intent of the adulteration is to cause wide-scale public health harm. As such, the rule includes some exemptions for smaller firms and the retail food sector. In the case of disgruntled employees being recruited by terrorist organizations, the many provisions of the final rule focused on protecting food against wide-scale intentional adulteration will minimize the likelihood of success. However, we must remember that someone desiring to commit intentional adulteration could bypass a more protected facility by targeting food facilities exempt from some or all the requirements.
The importance of a robust employee food defense training cannot be overemphasized. Training is a low-cost, broad mitigation strategy to minimize a facility’s vulnerability to potential acts of intentional adulteration. Food defense culture based upon a strong employee training program is simply one of the most vital pillars for a successful food defense plan.
In regard to those larger food facilities affected by the new rule, they now face a new and daunting requirement that includes some unique skill sets that differ from those typically found in the industry. The importance of a robust training program could be obscured by the new technical challenges within the rule. Doing the bare minimum training or providing lower quality training is not an area to cut corners. Effective food defense employee training is a critical part to the foundation of a successful food defense program.
It is important that a food defense program not be limited to those regulated firms under the rule. Just like unintentional adulteration can have a dramatic effect on a firm’s bottom line, so would be the effects of intentional adulteration. Fortunately, a good food defense training program can be a deterrent to thwart intentional contamination. When training is coupled with utilizing the many food defense tools and checklists developed by FDA, USDA, states and academia, we can provide a strong overall food defense program to all in the food sector including very small firms while keeping expenses down.
Internet of Things to Have Major Impact on Food Safety
Soruce : https://foodsafetytech.com/news_article/internet-things-major-impact-food-safety/
By Food Safety Tech Staff (May 01, 2017)
The Internet of Things (IoT) is increasingly becoming a buzzword across industries. More recently the connection is being made in the food industry, as the IoT is expected to transform how food companies use and process information. A new complimentary webinar series will examine the impact of this movement from the farm to the point of purchase. In part one of the series, experts from Rentokil Steritech, Rentokil Initial and Google will share insights about the IoT’s impact on the food industry and how companies can collect and process the information in a meaningful way for use in making business decisions.
Warning Letter says juice maker fails to pass FDA inspection
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/05/warning-letter-says-juice-maker-fails-to-pass-fda-inspection/#.WQ_Q2dKLSUl
By NEWS DESK (May 01, 2017)
Stoney Ridge Farm LLC in Everson, WA, was inspected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Dec. 21 and 22, 2016, and again on Jan. 5 this year and the results were not good.
“The inspection revealed serious deviations of the juice Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulation, Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 120 (21 CFR 120,” FDA’s Seattle district director said in a Warning Letter to the juice processor.
After the inspections, an FDA Form 483, listing the deviations was left with the company. Stoney Ridge responded on Jan. 19, 2017, saying it had updated its HACCP. However, the Warning Letter says the response was not adequate.
Among the violations at Stoney Ridge are:
FDA WarningFailure to document the monitoring of critical control points by not recording actual times and temperatures and other measurements described in the HACCP plan.
Failure to document continuous recording thermometer and flow rate for apple cider in order to ensure control of biological hazards identified in HACCP plan.
Failure to monitor conditions and practices during processing with sufficient frequency to ensure conformance with current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations. This included failure to monitor the condition and cleanliness of food contact surfaces, protection of food, food packaging material and food contact surfaces from adulertion.
Failure to exclude pests from inside the juice facility. This is due to accumulated debris and flies in the production room.
Failure to maintain sanitation control records.
“You should take prompt action to correct these violations and to establish procedures whereby such violations do not recur,” Miriam R. Burbach, FDA’s Seattle district director wrote. “These actions include, but are not limited to, an injunction.”
FDA asked Stoney Ridge Farm to respond within 15 days to the April 18 Warning Letter with specifics about how it plans to correct the deviations. “If you cannot complete all corrections before you respond, we expect that you will explain the reason for your delay and state when you will correct any remaining deviations.”
A copy of the Warning Letter was sent by FDA to the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Program.
Food safety practices for packing lunch and snacks for your child
Source : http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/food_safety_practices_for_packing_lunch_and_snacks_for_your_child
By Laurie Messing, Michigan State University Extension (May 01, 2017)
It is a daily routine in many homes: Parents getting ready for work, getting children up and dressed and fed, packing school lunch and snack bags and then everyone heads out the door to a day full of work, school or fun at childcare. Packing snacks and lunches to send with your child to daycare does take some time and planning to keep nutritious food safe from bacterial growth from the time the food leaves your home early morning until your child’s snack and lunch time.
Michigan State University Extension recommends following these tips below to help keep packed lunches safe:
Always start your lunch packing and food prep with clean hands and clean surfaces to reduce the risk of contamination. Get your child involved in packing their lunch as well and have them wash hands before helping.
Begin with safe perishable foods that have been properly stored in the refrigerator. Any foods left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours have been exposed to the temperature danger zone and may have harmful bacteria present.
Foods that can easily spoil (such as leftovers, casseroles, soups, meats, meat sandwiches, eggs, dairy products and vegetables) must be kept cold. Find out if your child’s snacks and lunch can be kept in a refrigerator at the childcare site or if you need to provide a method for keeping it cold.
Add an icepack or frozen gel pack to your child’s lunch. If you do not have an icepack, you can also keep foods cold by freezing part of the lunch such as water bottle, yogurt, pudding, applesauce or a 100 percent juice box and packing it next to the perishable food right before you leave home in the morning
Use an insulated lunch box or soft sided lunch bag, which will also assist in keeping cold foods cold.
Wash fruits and vegetables and dry them before adding to the lunch box.
Pack snacks and lunches the night before and store them in the refrigerator to keep them safe and make things easier during the morning rush.
Make sure to label your child’s snack/lunch bag to avoid confusion at daycare.
When using the microwave oven to reheat lunches, cover food to hold in moisture and promote safe, even heating. Reheat leftovers to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit (73.9 C), making sure to use a food thermometer to be sure a safe temperature has been reached before consuming the food.
A few easy food safety tips can go a long way in preventing foodborne illness for your children.
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