Ordering Meal Kits Might Not Be Safe For One Reason
Source : http://www.refinery29.com/2017/05/154339/meal-kits-blue-apron-home-chef-plated-are-they-safe
By TANYA EDWARDS (MAY 15, 2017)
If you've been ordering home delivered meal kits — or are thinking about it — you need to know about the warnings issued at the 2017 Food Safety Summit at Rutgers University this week, Food & Wine reports.
Speaking at the summit, human ecology professor Bill Hallman warns that our beloved ready-to-make dinner kits are not as safe as we think. He specifically called out the kits with meat as being unsafe.
Hallman and his team studies 169 different services, reviewed 400 websites and spoke with over 1,000 people who'd tried different meal kits. What they learned is surprising.
The biggest safety issue? Most kits sat outside for up to eight hours before being opened and refrigerated. According to the FDA, perishable food should not be kept out for more than two hours. It is important to keep hot foods hot (140 degrees F or above) and cold foods cold (40 degrees F or below).
Of course, delaying opening and storing the meal kits fall on your shoulders, not the service, but Hallman takes issue with the services for not taking responsibility for any food safety concerns when deliveries don't arrive on time, as well FedEx, UPS, and USPS.
The other problem? Many of the websites for these services didn't have any safety information, or it was inaccurate. "Your bison meat may be thawed by the time it gets to you," said Hallman. The instructions continued, "touch the meat and if it is cool to the touch, your order is in good condition," he says. That's not accurate, and very unsafe, Hallman said, adding that "cool to the touch" is not a food safety standard.
The research also concluded that "microbial loads [were]off the charts" in many of the packages, especially those with temperatures of 60 degrees and higher. Yuck
If you're into the ease and new recipe ideas that meal kits deliver, be sure to check their website to find out if they're following food safety standards, and please, please don't let your delivery site outside for eight hours.
Summer food safety: tips for parents and children
Source : http://www.oxfordeagle.com/2017/05/14/summer-food-safety-tips-for-parents-and-children/
By Oxford Eagle Contributors (May 14, 2017)
Are you planning a summer picnic or get together outside? Taking advantage of warmer temperatures and the great outdoors can encourage more physical activity after mealtime; however, it also provides the perfect environment for bacteria and other pathogens in food to multiply rapidly and cause foodborne illness.
Nothing puts the brakes on having a great summer vacation quite like coming down with a case of food poisoning- or needing to take care of a family member who has! Therefore, summer is the perfect time to review the basic steps to food safety.
Follow the suggestions below to prevent food-borne illness, and discuss these concepts with your children. This is especially important if they are preparing their own meals or snacks to eat.
• Wash hands thoroughly: Before handling any food, make sure you wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Repeat this after you are done handling food, and any time you touch raw meat.
• Beware of the “danger zone:” The “danger zone” in food safety is the temperature range between 40 degrees and 140 degrees. In this range, bacteria rapidly multiply and can reach unsafe levels after two hours, or one hour if the temperature is at or above 90 degrees. If you have leftovers that haven’t been eaten or refrigerated within two hours after being served (or one hour if at or above 90 degrees, the food should be discarded.
• Keep cold foods cold, and keep hot foods hot: Keep cold perishable foods at or below 40 degrees until you are ready to cook or serve. If you are away from home, use a cooler filled with ice or ice packs to keep perishable foods at a safe temperature. After cooking, make sure to keep hot foods at least 140 degrees until they are ready to be served. Put perishable food items back in the refrigerator or cooler once you are done using them.
• Cook to correct internal temperatures: Use a food thermometer to determine whether meats are done cooking — do not rely on color alone! The following are safe minimum internal temperatures: beef, pork, veal, lamb, fish (steaks, chops, roasts), 145 degrees; ground meats, 160 degrees; poultry, 165 degrees.
• Keep raw meats separate: Be careful when transporting and storing raw meats, ensuring that juices from the raw meat do not come into contact with fruits, vegetables, and other ready-to-eat foods. Put raw meat into plastic bags, and keep it separate from other foods.
Wash fruits and vegetables: Before cutting or peeling, make sure that you rinse all produce with water.
Patty Hudek is an extension agent at the Lafayette County’s Extension Service on Veterans Drive. You can reach her at email@example.com.
Supermarket Trends: Technology, food safety and sustainability are top of mind
Source : http://www.chainstoreage.com/article/supermarket-trends-technology-food-safety-and-sustainability-are-top-mind
By ED MCKIERNAN (May 12, 2017)
The supermarket industry is constantly changing. Consumer food choices and how they shop, frequent regulation modifications and new technologies to integrate are just a few things we gathered from recent customer input concerning the most pressing issues for the industry. As 2017 rolls along, there are four emerging trends we see that grocery marketers should be aware of for the remainder of the year.
1. Impact of the digitally engaged food shopper on retail facilities
Convenience continues to be a focus for store format changes. Digitally engaged food shoppers are continually seeking fresh items, quick access and new experiences. To keep up with this demand, retailers are competing with new shopping types and competition -- online, click and collect and the latest innovations in store layouts and formats.
To meet these challenges, retailers will need to expand flexibility and create new features in existing facilities while continuing to integrate information technologies and data into these new areas of their business. This will result in the eventual linking of the cold chain to the supply side of retail, just as digital engagement is changing the consumer side.
Eater-tainment in grocery stores has turned the corner store into a destination. When visiting a brick-and-mortar store, today’s consumers expect to be entertained and want customized shopping experiences. This concept does create increased in-store engagement for millennial shoppers, but flexible facilities are needed as shopping types change, new styles are introduced and consumer needs continue to evolve. Updated and scalable equipment and technology are needed to support these advancements.
2. Need for transparency in food safety
A variety of healthy, fresh food options are accessible from most grocers, as many food retailers have adapted their facilities to meet this consumer demand. Supermarkets are offering prepared food options in addition to onsite food preparation stations as store concepts converge to keep up with this trend. Delivering the fresh food that consumers want while keeping the food safe, reliable and profitable is also a concern.
In order to consistently deliver in this area and maintain food safety as well as control shrinkage, food retailers are depending on facility data to increase visibility and control of the store equipment that maintains product freshness. Being able to access real time performance data in order to address potential food safety issues such as equipment downtime or refrigerant leaks can also reduce maintenance costs and better energy efficiency.
In addition to Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requires those in the food industry to implement and document a program ensuring safe transport of food within the U.S. Preventing food loss and protecting customers from foodborne illnesses are critical concerns for retail store operators. By connecting the cold chain from farm to fork and focusing on monitoring and data, plus the new addition of cargo solutions and tracking can help address these concerns.
3. Continued focus on sustainability
Consumers are increasingly conscious of -- and concerned about -- the sustainability efforts of the brands they support. For many shoppers, a retailer’s reputation, as well as its impact on the environment, have become important factors in selecting where they shop. Food retailers need to achieve sustainable, optimized operations by providing solutions that address energy efficiency and ensure food safety.
Retailers can take advantage of different types of monitoring reporting to maximize energy performance across an enterprise of stores. Setpoint management helps retailers to sustain energy savings in the long term while ensuring that operational issues are actually fixed rather than given a temporary Band-Aid. Retailers can also earn financial incentives from utilities, conserve energy, minimize power interruptions, increase energy reliability and protect the environment by reducing power usage at times when demand on the electric power grid is high.
Refrigeration leak detection and minimization programs are also critical. Supermarkets must meet new regulatory requirements to avoid costly EPA fines related to refrigerant leaks. When you examine the cost of lost refrigerant, the degradation of refrigerated system performance and the potential for eventual food loss, the business case for implementing effective leak detection programs is clear.
Food retail facilities generate a significant amount of data, with information on key building systems, including HVAC and refrigeration equipment, which can provide an extensive picture of how their operations are running. Facility data is only going to become more valuable as new technologies are assimilated into an enterprise. The use of accrued performance tracking data can improve maintenance activities and allow management to plan out preventive maintenance measures.
4. Leveraging IoT and connected devices to optimize energy efficiency.
Recent retail customer feedback has shown that energy costs continue to be a top concern. With the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) and connecting coolers, freezers, HVAC units and others power-using equipment to a centralized program, retailers can get an accurate picture of their energy use. The information allows them to manage equipment performance and utilize settings for optimum temperatures and lighting.
Data insights from continuous remote monitoring help identify problem areas and opportunities for efficiencies, which can ultimately reduce costs. A solid IoT plan is critical to meeting customer expectations and building a positive brand.
As 2017 unfolds, change will be the one constant we can depend on. Successful grocery retailers will come through these fluctuations stronger by leveraging technology and adopting smart strategies to maintain food safety and sustainability, while making smarter business decisions that benefit their customers.
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Uncertainty under Trump? Not among food safety regulators
Source : http://www.fooddive.com/news/uncertainty-under-trump-not-among-food-safety-regulators/442585/
By Megan Poinski (May 12, 2017)
Despite concerns in other areas of government, top regulators from the FDA, USDA, CDC and AFDO remain confident in the direction of food safety under the new administration
While uncertainty swirls about how the Trump administration will affect U.S. policy from national security to climate change, food safety regulators remain confident.
“For me, I believe food safety is going to be one of the best worlds to be in these next four years,” said Alfred Almanza, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) acting deputy undersecretary for food safety and administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
Almanza shared the stage at the Food Safety Summit in Chicago on Thursday with Dr. Robert Tauxe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) director of foodborne, waterborne and environmental diseases; Dr. Stephen Ostroff, the deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); and Joseph Corby, executive director of the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO).
All four regulators gave updates on their agencies — what's coming next and what the future may hold. While Almanza was the most confident, they all seemed to have faith that policy and funding — at least in the areas of food safety they oversee — will go in the right direction.
Corby, whose organization supports streamlining local, state and federal food regulations, said he has seen an unprecedented amount of collaboration between all levels of food safety officials. Before taking the helm of AFDO, Corby spent 37 years in the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets — and he’s seen his fair share of policy fights.
“We knew that to create an integrated system would take a while,” Corby said. “It’s a long process and people have to change cultures. But there are things going on right now that have never been done before. That I never thought would happen.”
Among those unprecedented acts of collaboration, Corby pointed out the FDA and state authorities in Wisconsin have come up with a sharing agreement: A federal inspection also counts as a state inspection, meaning that food facilities don’t have to be scrutinized twice by different regulators. Meanwhile in New York, the FDA is using state-level reports to prepare federal import alerts.
Ostroff said this collaboration is key to achieving food safety. As more agencies work together, they advance a common — and nonpartisan — goal.
“In the food safety arena, I think we have a pretty good story to tell,” he said. “It’s a pretty good story in terms of what we’re about, where we’re going, and what the impact will be in public safety and health. I haven’t heard anything to indicate that doesn’t resonate with the administration.”
Ostroff did not go into specifics about FDA leadership under the Trump administration; the agency’s commissioner Scott Gottlieb was just confirmed to his position on Tuesday. FDA is a part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which is now run by former Congressman Tom Price.
Almanza had nothing but positive things to say about USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. The former Georgia governor is a veterinarian, which is making Perdue’s transition incredibly smooth, according to Almanza. His education and background are critical to understanding the need for food safety measures, and he is familiar with threats like salmonella, E. coli and campylobacter. Almanza, who has worked under four new USDA secretaries in his career at the agency, said he normally has to explain more about why these bacteria are important.
“I would say that that’s the reason that food safety is going to really have a lot of safety over the next four years, just because we have that foundation of having a veterinarian in that position,” Almanza told Food Dive after the panel.
Both former politicians from Georgia, HHS Secretary Tom Price and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue already had a working relationship before joining Trump’s Cabinet. Almanza said that Perdue promised him USDA would be working “closer than ever before” with FDA on food safety and regulations as the administration goes forward. Both agencies are responsible for different aspects of food safety.
Even before Perdue was confirmed, Almanza said he received nothing but support from the Trump transition team. The administration placed a government-wide hiring freeze on all agencies, but Almanza was able to get exceptions to fill vacancies in lab and field positions within 24 hours. USDA’s food safety budget so far has also been fully funded.
Meanwhile, the CDC does not have a director yet and Trump has yet to name a nominee. However, the CDC's Tauxe felt positive that the agency will move in the right direction. The CDC is also under HHS, and Tauxe said he is confident that Price — who used to represent the area near CDC’s Atlanta headquarters in Congress — understands the importance of food safety.
Although the Trump administration has been criticized by many in the scientific community, Tauxe said there are many young scientists who want to work with the CDC to make a difference.
“I’m very optimistic that the future of science is alive and well,” Tauxe said.
For regulators, science is the reason behind every action, Almanza said. In this administration — and any before or after — science is of the utmost importance.
“I think it’s incumbent upon ourselves to be able to explain why it is we do what we do — and give them the tools to justify it,” he said.
What Is the Internet of Things and How Does It Impact Food Safety?
Source : https://foodsafetytech.com/column/internet-things-impact-food-safety/
By Judy Black (May 12, 2017)
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a category of objects or devices—things—equipped with electronics and online capabilities that let them communicate data to computers and other networked devices. In the home, this may take the form of smart locks that can be controlled via the homeowner’s work computer or a Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat, allowing the user to monitor and control the temperature of their home from a smartphone app. While the in-home applications of IoT may get more consumer attention, many of its most interesting applications are happening in the business and industrial world.
You may have seen TV ads from General Electric or IBM promoting their work on networks of connected trains, semi-trucks and warehouses that communicate precise tracking of cargo and packages in shipping. As more industries begin to see how big data and instant communication can improve their efficiency, IoT is quickly catching on in many fields, including the food business. Indeed, those involved in shipping raw materials or finished food products are likely familiar with the IoT’s impact on the supply chain. The rest of the food industry isn’t far behind, as more than 57% of respondents to a recent survey of food professionals conducted by Quocirca indicated IoT has already impacted their organization.
From farm to fork, connected devices are collecting data and sharing it through centralized networks that help the industry better manage supplies and finished food products. Sensors in the ground can measure moisture levels and regulate irrigation systems to ensure no crops receive too much or too little water and keep farmers informed on soil conditions in real time. At the warehouse level, incoming and outgoing food products can be tagged and scanned to automatically track data like the farm of origin or any other information required by law. In any phase of the supply chain, IoT may take the form of smart pest control devices specifying when they need service or when something has been captured in a trap.
We’re still in the early stages of IoT’s deployment throughout the food industry, but its benefits are already showing up in better food safety practices and a more efficient supply chain, both of which help to cut down on waste and reduce risk. This network of connected devices and centralized hubs for data analysis will only grow in importance as the technology develops and drives innovation in how we can use this data to improve every aspect of the business.
FDA Withdraws Draft Guidance on Fruit and Vegetable Juices as Color Additives
Source : http://www.qualityassurancemag.com/article/fda-withdraws-draft-guidance-on-fruit-and-vegetable-juices-as-color-additives/
By qualityassurancemag.com (May 12, 2017)
The Food and Drug Administration is withdrawing a 2016 draft guidance on the use of fruit juice and vegetable juice as color additives based on public comments that raised substantive technical concerns. The concerns include that the guidance promoted practices that may be inconsistent with current industry practices intended to enhance food safety.
Historically, the FDA has responded to industry questions on the use of vegetable juices and fruit juices as color additives on a case-by-case basis. Color additives used in food must be approved for use by FDA. FDA has authorized the use of juice from certain fruit and vegetables (21 CFR 73.250 and 21 CFR 73.260, respectively) as color additives in food. The draft guidance was developed to assist industry understanding whether plant-derived color additives meet the specifications in these regulations or require separate approval as color additives.
Although FDA is withdrawing this draft guidance, the regulations authorizing certain plant-derived color additives remain in place and the agency will continue to respond on a case-by-case basis to industry questions on these topics. In addition, FDA intends to continue evaluating information submitted to its docket and consulting with stakeholders in considering next steps.
Like all color additives in packaged foods, fruit juice and vegetable juice color additives must be declared in the ingredient label statement and must be safe under intended conditions of use. Fruit juice and vegetable juice when used as color additives in food may be declared as “Artificial Color,” “Artificial Color Added,” or “Color Added,” or by an equally informative term that makes clear that a color additive has been used in the food, such as “Colored with Fruit Juice” or “Vegetable Juice Color.”
For more Information, see the December 2016 Federal Register Notice.
Botulism Lawsuit: Nacho Cheese Sickens 5 at CA Valley Oak Food and Fuel
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/botulism-lawsuit-nacho-cheese-sickens-5-at-ca-valley-oak-food-and-fuel/
By News Desk (May 10, 2017)
The botulism outbreak at the Valley Oak Food and Fuel gas station in Walnut Grove, California appears to have been caused by prepared food, “particularly nacho cheese sauce,” according to the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services. Five people have been hospitalized with foodborne botulism after eating food purchased from that facility. And the press releases states there is a sixth patient who may also have botulism food poisoning.
This conclusion is based on “preliminary data,” according to the press release. The sale of prepared food at that gas station was ended by the Sacramento County Department of Environmental Management on May 5, 2017.
Public health officials are asking that anyone who ate prepared food, especially nacho cheese sauce, from Valley Oak Food and Fuel gas station in Walnut Grove, California, from April 23, 2017 through May 5, 2017, and has the symptoms of botulism contact their medical provider immediately. Botulism can be fatal.
Attorney Fred Pritzker, who has represented clients sickened with botulism in lawsuits against corporations, said, “we need to know more about this outbreak and how this suspected food was contaminated. Did the product need refrigeration? Was it prepared on site? What were the conditions in the kitchen when food was made? And what company sold this food or ingredients used to make it to Valley Oak Food and Fuel?”
The symptoms of botulism food poisoning can vary by person. Sometimes the first symptoms are nausea and vomiting. More typical early symptoms include dry mouth, double vision, blurred vision, and drooping eyelids. As paralysis progresses downward through the body, patients have difficulty swallowing, slurred speech, and then general muscle weakness. When the paralysis reaches the chest, muscles that control breathing can be immobilized.
Treatment is with an anti-toxin that is only available through hospitals, which request it from the government. Early treatment with the anti-toxin can increase the odds of a good outcome. In fact, up to 65% of botulism patients who do not receive the anti-toxin die, but when the anti-toxin is given early, the death rate drops to 6%. Other supportive care, such as artificial respiration, may be needed as the patient recovers..
The five, possibly six, patients in this outbreak are all hospitalized in serious condition. We do not know their ages or if any of the patients are children.
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 the largest verdict in American history for a person harmed by E. coli and hemolytic uremic syndrome. The firm also publishes the E-news site, 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. In addition, the firm represents people harmed by pathogenic microorganisms in Legionnaires‘ disease, surgical site infection and product liability cases.
These Are the Filthiest Places In Your Kitchen
Source : http://time.com/4774726/these-are-the-filthiest-places-in-your-kitchen/
By TIME (May 11, 2017)
You're right to be wary of restaurants with less-than-perfect scores from the health department, but chances are good that your own kitchen is a hotbed of germs, too. New research from Drexel University shows that, if held to the same standards as commercial eateries, most homes would be slapped with major food-safety violations.
“When people get sick from food-related issues, they often think back to the last time they ate out,” says study co-author Jennifer Quinlan, associate professor in Drexel's College of Nursing and Health Professions.. “But contamination in the home definitely leads to a certain amount of those illnesses.”
When a team of researchers visited 100 homes in Philadelphia from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, they found evidence of pest infestation, improper food storage, and disease-causing bacteria in many kitchens. Their findings are published in two new studies in Food Protection Trends and the Journal of Food Protection.
“We were able to find actual pathogens that we know people get sick from,” says Quinlan—pathogens like staphylococcus aureus, salmonella, campylobacter, and listeria. “And we were able to isolate these pathogens from essentially all over kitchens, including inside refrigerators, on refrigerator door handles, on counters, in sinks and on sponges.”
Here are five areas that raised the most red flags for the researchers:
1. Your fridge
The biggest mistake noted in the study—seen in 97% of homes—was that raw meat or poultry was improperly stored. It should always be on the lowest shelf in the refrigerator, below ready-to-eat foods and raw fruits and vegetables. As gross as it sounds, juices from your raw chicken could drip down and contaminate other foods.
Refrigerators should also be kept at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but 43% of those in the study registered higher than that. Refrigerators with higher operating temperatures were linked with higher counts of listeria, a bacterium that’s especially dangerous for pregnant women, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.
2. Your dishcloths and sponges
About 45% of households surveyed contained at least one foodborne pathogen, and compared to other areas of the kitchen, sponges were the grimiest: 64% tested positive for bacteria.
“These things are reservoirs for bacteria," says Quinlan. "And even worse, if we found staph or fecal coliforms in your sponges or your dishtowels, it was more likely we would find them elsewhere throughout your kitchen. If you’re using them to clean your counters and other areas, the bacteria’s going to spread.”
Quinlan recommends washing dish towels often, and only using them to dry clean hands and dishes. Microwaving kitchen sponges for one minute a day—or running them through the dishwasher—can also kill harmful pathogens.
3. In and around your sink
Fecal bacteria were found in 44% of the kitchens, and E. coli, a related bacterium, was found in 15%—most often in samples from kitchen sinks. “If it’s wet, it’s more likely to be nasty,” says Quinlan.
Kitchen sinks were also the most likely spot to be visibly dirty: The researchers rated 82% of the sinks they visited as unclean. Kitchens that lacked sanitizer, disinfectant products, or soap near the sink also tended to have higher bacterial counts overall.
4. Cutting boards
Because so many different foods are prepared using cutting boards, it’s important to clean them between use and be sure no contaminants—from raw meat or unwashed produce, for example—are left behind. But 23% of the cutting boards observed in the study appeared dirty, and 76% were worn with deep grooves or cracks in the surface, where bacteria could potentially hide.
Potentially just as risky, 49% of homes in the study did not appear to have cutting boards in the kitchen at all. “Anecdotally, this could indicate that people are preparing all different types of food, including raw meat and poultry, right there on the counter,” says Quinlan.5. Anywhere pests—and your pets—hang out
Researchers observed insects, like ants, roaches, and flies, as well as rodent droppings or bug traps in 65% of homes. The presence of animals—including household pets— in food-preparation areas could also increase the likelihood of food contamination and the transmission of outside pathogens into the kitchen.
Poisoned in paradise: Rat lungworm nightmare in Hawaii
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/05/poisoned-in-paradise-rat-lungworm-nightmare-in-hawaii/#.WRlh0tKLSUl
BY CORAL BEACH (May 11, 2017)
Victim, legislator, researcher skeptical of Hawaii health officials efforts regarding rat lungworm
Whether state officials have downplayed the danger of rat lungworm parasites, the fact remains that Hawaii is in the midst of an outbreak that has given at least three people from the mainland lasting impressions of the island state.
The mainlanders — a California couple on their honeymoon and a Seattle woman who was set to begin classes at a school on Maui — are among at least 14 confirmed victims of the painful illness. People are exposed to the parasite by eating or drinking contaminated foods and beverages including raw or uncooked snails, slugs, frogs, some seafoods, fresh produce, certain homemade beverages and water from catchment systems.
The Hawaii Department of Health reports there are at least another four probable cases of infection. In humans, the parasite attacks the brain and the spinal cord, often causing eosinophilic meningitis with its severe headaches, random and intense body and joint pains, temporary paralysis and even death, according to public health officials.
In the most serious cases, people experience neurological problems, pain and severe disability. There is no medication or specific treatment for the infection, according to the Hawaii health department. Officials from the department did not accept invitations from Food Safety News for interview opportunities.
One victim’s story
“Morphine did nothing. It felt like someone was stabbing my brain,” said 24-year-old Seattle resident Tatum Larson.
Larson’s symptoms began March 1, the same day she left the Big Island where she had been visiting a friend. She headed Maui to set up housekeeping where she was scheduled to begin classes at a massage school. Her friend on the Big Island had told her about rat lungworm disease upon her arrival, but she didn’t make the connection at first.
The first symptoms for Larson were severe itching and burning in her hands and feet. After two weeks, she went to a clinic and was told it was nothing. She went to another clinic for a blood test when her bones started hurting. Crippling pain in her ankle sent her to an emergency room at 2 a.m., but she was sent away after she declined pain killers.
“The doctors didn’t know what the symptoms meant,” Larson said. “A nurse said my blood was OK and that I just wanted drugs, but I had already turned down pain killers.”
Next, a person specializing in natural medicine suggested Larson might have shingles, so she decided to return to the mainland for a short period because she could not attend school or go to work in the restaurant she’d been waitressing at because of the contagious nature of shingles.
Back in Seattle, Larson was still having symptoms so she went to a doctor there.
“He was stumped, but he knew it wasn’t shingles. He went to the CDC website and saw the symptoms and started putting things together,” she said.
A spinal tap later Larson was diagnosed with meningitis, admitted to a Seattle hospital for two days and treated like an experiment. “The doctors were excited because it was a strange and new thing for them, no literature on it and not much information about treatment,” Larson said.
Discharged from the Seattle hospital with more questions than answers, Larson flew back to Hawaii. During the flight she developed full-blown meningitis symptoms, including a rigid spine, and was immediately taken to a clinic upon landing.
The doctor at the clinic said he didn’t think it was rat lungworm, even though Larson provided her completely history. He sent her to another doctor who did believe it was the parasite, but did not know how to treat it. Larson finally got the doctor to give her anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the swelling in her brain so she could fly back to Washington.
Upon landing in Washington, Larson was wheelchair off her flight, straight to an ambulance and emergency room. She was in the hospital for five days and was well past the window of opportunity to take an anti-parasitical drug.
She’s still in pain and can’t work or go to school, but she is thankful.
“I had insurance. I’m getting treatment for the pain. I’m very grateful for that,” Larson said. “But I want people to know about this. People on the islands know about it, but no one talks about it.
“I’m pretty sure I got it at the Hilo Farmers Market. All the Department of Health needs to do is put up signs telling people about the possibility of it.
“I’m not saying ‘don’t go to Hawaii or don’t eat their produce.’ But people should be informed so they can make their own decisions.”
Officials with Whole Foods Markets have made the decision for their Hawaii customers. In April the grocery retailer announced it was switching from Hawaii-grown lettuce and greens to lettuce and greens from the mainland because of concerns about rat lungworm contamination.
State says don’t worry
Although the Hawaii Department of Health posted a news release April 19 on its website about the surge in cases this year — 11 confirmed at that time compared to 11 in all of 2016 — criticism of the state’s response is coming from several directions.
State records show 76 cases have been reported since 2007 for an average of less than eight annually.
The situation is not an epidemic and “Hawaii is still a safe destination” said Hawaii Department of Health Director Virginia Pressler during a news conference April 19 with the head of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Annually, tourism is a $15 billion industry in Hawaii.
Little information has come from the health department since the joint news conference.
“The Department of Health’s investigation is ongoing and with the heightened public awareness from the recent cases on Maui and Hawaii, we have seen more people come forward for evaluation and testing,” a health department spokeswoman said in an email to Food Safety News on April 28.
“We expect there may be additional cases due to the greater public awareness, and we hope more people will take to heart the message to wash their vegetables and fruits thoroughly before eating to not only prevent rat lungworm, but to also wash off any other contaminants — this is basic good health practice.”
Victim, legislator say worry
From the victim perspective, Larson said her friend on the Big Island explained that locals are aware of the rat lungworm parasite, particularly on the East part of the island where it is more common, especially in the Puna region.
Hawaii State Sen. Russell Ruderman, who represents the Puna district on the Big Island, has been trying to get the state legislature to fund research and public education efforts for at least three years. The bill made it further through the process this year than before, but it stalled suddenly.
The legislature decided in recent days to give $1 million in funding to the Department of Health (DOH). The allocation is contingent on full budget approval. The department has not yet decided how to spend the $1 million, which is split over two fiscal years.
“The DOH didn’t even ask for it,” said researcher Susan Jarvi who is a professor in the department of pharmaceutical studies at the University of Hawaii-Hilo.
Jarvis did ask, though, and has been asking for the state to fund research and public education efforts for years. She helped found the Rat Lungworm Working Group in 2011. She contends many state officials have turned a blind eye to the threat in the popular tourist destination.
Sen. Ruderman has told local media outlets in Hawaii that he believes the fact that most cases until now have involved residents of the Puna area made it easier for officials to ignore.
Jarvis agreed with that assessment, and said that the less than affluent demographic of the area combined with a high percentage of people using catchment methods for drinking water has resulted in many cases of rat lungworm disease that have gone undiagnosed, unreported and untreated in recent years.
Who’s doing what about it?
The Hawaii Department of Health is “continuing to monitor” the situation and working on figuring out how to spend half a million dollars in each of the coming two fiscal years. A department spokeswoman confirmed that the department had not asked for the funding and said “the appropriation came as a surprise to the department.”
“Legislators have expressed their concerns to us for the need for increasing public education and outreach about the disease, so much of the funding may go toward those efforts,” according to the spokeswoman.
“A local cable television company, Oceanic Cable, has stepped forward to donate production services and television airtime for a statewide public service announcement expected to begin airing in May in all counties. The Department of Health is updating our print materials for distribution and posting on every island. This will also be completed this month.”
Meanwhile, Jarvi and other researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand, are closing in on a diagnostic blood test that will reveal not only whether a person is currently infected, but also whether they have ever been a host to rat lungworm parasites.
Jarvi and others at the university laboratory in Hilo are also working on the frontline of public education. Elementary school gardens have become popular in recent years, and they provide the perfect habitat for the snails and slugs that are the intermediary carriers of the parasite larvae, which can contaminate produce, catchment water and other foods and beverages.
By educating children about preventive measures, such as looking for snail and slug slime trails and chew marks on lettuce and other produce, Jarvi said the team is working on low-tech interventions while pursuing the diagnostic blood test.
She said 70 percent of semi-slugs — an invasive species introduced to Hawaii — tested positive for the larvae. The semi-slugs are more mobile than many other snail and slug species, climbing high and low for food and water.
Jarvi said one research project showed that the larvae escape from slugs that have drowned in catchment water containers, living in the water for up to three weeks and posing a threat to anyone who drinks it.
The state health department “has been in contact with” a researcher at the University of Hawaii, but not with the lab on the Hilo campus where Jarvi works.
“Our department recognizes the important value of research,” the health department spokeswoman said. “DOH is not a research facility and we defer decisions and advocacy on research to those organizations and academic institutions that conduct research.”
Advice to consumers and tourists
Jarvi said she would not discourage anyone from visiting Hawaii because of rat lungworm dangers. However, she also said she takes strict precautions with her own health in relation to the threat.
The researcher lives in an area that does not have “city water” and uses a catchment system. She said she is careful to keep the water system secure from snails and slugs. She also takes care with her food.
“I only eat lettuce I have prepared personally,” Jarvi said, adding that thorough cooking or freezing can kill the parasite larvae.
Jarvi said the university lab at Hilo has had more than 10 people bring in salads or send in photos of salads bought at grocery stores and farmers markets that had snails or slugs in them.
Tips from the Hawaii Department of Health include:
Appropriately store, inspect and wash produce, especially leafy greens, no matter where they are grown;
Boil snails, freshwater prawns, crabs and frogs for at least 3 to 5 minutes;
Supervise young children while playing outdoors to prevent them from putting snails or slugs in their mouths; and
Control snail, slug and rat populations around the home, workplaces and other properties, especially if one maintains a home garden.
Practical pointers around submitting water samples for food safety
Soruce : http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/practical_pointers_around_submitting_water_samples_for_food_safety
By Phil Tocco, Michigan State University Extension (May 10, 2017)
Fresh produce growers looking to comply with either Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) audits or the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) usually have to take regular water tests. Since there are a number of different food safety requirements around water, and because none of them are the same, some practical pointers around water testing might be in order.
Even if a lab conducts a water test you are looking to have done, it doesn’t mean they test every day of the week. Call ahead to the lab and ask questions well in advance of taking samples, like, “Do you process generic E. coli samples every day or on certain days?” Some labs may only run irrigation water samples two days a week. In those cases, any sample delivered to the sampling site after a pickup day might sit for several days before being tested, changing the contamination level in the water.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received feedback around the current FSMA agricultural water standard noting implementation may be too difficult given current realities. FDA has announced they are addressing this concern. Some key points they hope to solve include the hold time of samples to meet current analytical methods, not being able to find a lab that meets the current guideline and how to define separate water sources.
Current sampling to meet guidelines requires transporting the sample on ice to a lab within 6 hours. In some geographic areas, this may be impossible. The current approved water testing method specified under FSMA (Modified mTEC, method 1603) is not a readily available test in most of the United States. Some flexibility was granted in that the lab chosen to carry out the test did not need to be certified to carry out the test. Regardless, finding a lab to carry out this test has proven challenging.
Finally, the need for understanding where one water source ends and another begins is still unclear. In some water systems, a shared surface water source may have several points where water is drawn. The law is unclear under what circumstances one or another user of a shared water source would both have to test. These issues will be addressed in the new guidelines.
What you can do
Stepping back from these concerns about FSMA regulations, it is important to put water testing in context. If you are currently not testing any agricultural water used on fresh produce for generic E. coli, it is recommended you start. Choose any lab or method, as long as the result gives a number of generic E. coli that will help you understand the quality of your water supply.
If you are currently taking water samples for GAPs, use the accompanying guidance for the GAP scheme you are using to determine what to test for and how frequently. Don’t change anything about what you are testing for or how often you are testing. As the federal guidelines change, and the FSMA law gets better understood, then you may need to change testing methods and frequency of sampling. Until then, it is better to know what’s in your water using a test that hasn’t been formally approved than to continue to be in the dark about your water quality.
If you would like more information on water testing, feel free to contact the Michigan State University Extension Agrifood Safety Workgroup at 517-788-4292 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu. To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu/newsletters. To contact an expert in your area, visit http://expert.msue.msu.edu, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).
Where to call, email or chat to answer your food safety questions this picnic season
Source : http://lancasteronline.com/features/food/where-to-call-email-or-chat-to-answer-your-food/article_2fb0ff32-34cb-11e7-8768-43544cc66284.html
By ERIN NEGLEY (May 09, 2017)
Does all cheese need to be refrigerated?
Can you use onions with black mold on the end?
Is it OK to eat a cooked hamburger that you left on the counter for hours?
USDA has answers to these questions by phone, email, online or chat. The agency’s hotline, 888-674-6854, has food safety experts available, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Questions are answered in the Ask Karen chat during the same hours at askkaren.gov.
Several questions from LNP's features staff were already in the common questions of the website.
Q: How long can you freeze ground beef?
A: Ground beef is safe indefinitely if kept frozen but best if used within four months.
Q: Do I have to cook pork chops well-done?
A: USDA recommends cooking ground pork patties and ground pork mixtures such as meat loaf to 160 degrees. Cook organ meats to 160 degrees. Cook all raw pork steaks, chops and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees.
The live chat was very quick.
As soon as I clicked “begin chat,” someone typed, “Thank you for contacting AskKaren. How may I help you today?”
My question was answered in two minutes. The answer was a bit off in syntax but the message was: save time by cleaning the spice container after you finish using it to season raw chicken. It’s not necessary to clean it each time you turn the meat with your hands and then grab the spice grinder.
The chat's also available in the Ask Karen app in Google Play or iTunes.
Here are the answers to the first three questions.
Refrigerating cheese: Soft cheeses such as cream cheese, shredded cheeses and goat cheese must be refrigerated for safety. Hard cheeses such as cheddar, processed cheeses and Parmesan do not require refrigeration for safety, but will last longer if kept refrigerated.
Moldy onions: Black mold on onion is caused by aspergillus niger, a common fungus found in soil. Rinse off small amounts of the black mold on the outer scales of the onion under cool, running tap water or cut off the affected layers. The unaffected part can be used. People allergic to Aspergillus niger should not use onions with black mold.
Hamburger: If a perishable food has been left out at room temperature more than two hours, it may not be safe. Use a food thermometer to verify temperatures. Never leave food in the Danger Zone over 2 hours; 1 hour if outside temperature is above 90 degrees. The Danger Zone is the temperature range between 40 degrees and 140 degrees.
Pet food safety
Source : http://idahostatejournal.com/news/local/pet-food-safety/article_20b15fe2-c0ba-594e-9285-ef01f864b8d8.html
By Julie Buck (May 09, 2017)
A healthy diet is important for everyone, even your pets. When selecting the right food for your pet, consider these important choices.
Raw pet food can make pets sick. The Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, does not recommend feeding raw diets to pets. Germs like salmonella and listeria bacteria have been found in raw pet foods, even packaged ones sold in stores. These germs can make your pet sick. Your family can also get sick by handling the raw food or by taking care of your pet. Purchase pet food from reputable stores and suppliers.
Consider the dry and wet food source. Dry and canned pet food can also be contaminated with germs. Before making any changes to your pet’s diet, talk with your veterinarian.
Tips to stay healthy while feeding your pet:
n Always wash your hands with soap and water right after handling pet food or treats; this is the most important step to prevent illness.
n When possible, store pet food and treats away from where human food is stored or prepared, and away from reach of young children.
n Don’t use your pet’s feeding bowl to scoop food. Use a clean, dedicated scoop, spoon, or cup.
n Always follow any storage instructions on pet food bags or containers.
Young children are at risk for illness because their immune systems are still developing. Also, they are more likely than others to put their fingers or other items into their mouths.
n Children younger than 5 years old should not touch or eat pet food, treats, or supplements.
n Adults should supervise young children when washing hands.
n Everyone who plays with a pet should wash their hands with warm water and soap before touching their face or eating food. Source: CDC.gov
By following these steps, sharing our lives with pets can be a healthier experience, for our pets and ourselves.
Julie Buck, EdD, MHE, RD, is a registered dietitian, food safety specialist and health educator employed at the University of Idaho Extension, Bannock County. She can be reached at (208)236-7310 or email@example.com.
Food Safety Talk 125: Slapping it on a bun
Source : http://barfblog.com/2017/05/food-safety-talk-125-slapping-it-on-a-bun/
By Ben Chapman (May 8, 2017)
Don and Ben talked big concerts, Flaming Lips (the band, not the anatomy) obscure Canadian bands covering Neil Young and then got into some food safety stuff like the particulars of deer antler tea, with some deer penis sprinkled in. The discussion went to the rules around home-based food businesses and how risk-based decisions are made in regulatory choices. The episode finished with some listener feedback on washing produce and mold and whether food employees at Blue Apron (and like mail-order businesses) should have local health department food handler training.
Episode 125 can be found here and on iTunes.
Show notes so you can follow along at home:
Love and Rockets (band) – Wikipedia
Pet Sounds – Wikipedia
Cover version – Wikipedia
Enjoy Every Sandwich: The Songs of Warren Zevon – Wikipedia
Borrowed Tunes: A Tribute to Neil Young – Wikipedia
Borrowed Tunes II: A Tribute to Neil Young – Wikipedia
Day of the Dead (2016 album) – Wikipedia
The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Henry Rollins and Peaches Doing The Dark Side of the Moon – Wikipedia
Watch The Flaming Lips’ Inner-Band Drama From Portlandia‘s Pickathon Episode – Stereogum
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots – Wikipedia
Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto – Wikipedia
10 years later: How the Mad Cow crisis changed an industry and a province (with videos)
Deer-antler tea linked with botulism case in Orange County | abc7.com
Deer Antler to Nourish Blood, Bone, and Joints
Steve Harvey, Asian Remedies and Deer Penis – michelle in the kitchen
Mailing List – New Jersey Home Bakers Bill
NCDA&CS – Food & Drug Protection – Food Program
AFDO Cottage Foods pdf
AFDO Cottage Foods Presentation Corby.pdf
Tragedy as ‘smiling’ baby Tyler Wilson dies of salmonella at five months old | Hull Daily Mail
‘Fry them’ comments in jury room could get Parnells a new trial | Food Safety News
Why are salad greens always labeled “triple-washed”?
Palumbo et al. article
These go to 11.mpg – YouTube
Julie Finigan Morris
FSIS article on mold safety
Parasitic Diseases, 6th Ed —
This Week in Parasitism
Blue Apron Has “Concerns” Over Proposed Food Safety Regulation – BuzzFeed News
Boston’s Chicken & Rice Guys shutdown to “sort out” E. coli outbreak | Food Safety News
Food Safety Technology Disrupters
Source : https://foodsafetytech.com/column/food-safety-technology-disrupters/
By Randy Fields (May 08,2017)
We’ve all heard about the latest disrupters in the retail supply chain, like the Internet of Things, wearable computers, cognitive analytics, machine learning and even the new value chain in which these technologies intercede to provide a better and more accurate shopping experience for consumers. There are also developments like digital fabrication that interacts with both the consumer and appliances to improve the way product gets to the consumer from the point of production.
Technology disrupters can fundamentally change supply chains, destroying existing ones and creating new ones. Other disruptions can be caused by not a single technology but by several new and existing technologies that come together in innovative ways. Smart retailers and their trading partners are working to judge the impact of these technology disrupters before or at least as they occur. They need to be more proactive by investing in key areas of strategy, culture and partnership.
Many of the technology disrupters in food safety are based on the growing ability to apply analytics, including machine learning, to drive a better understanding of and increase the personalized relationships with the consumer, and to glean insight from all the data being collected. Knowing exactly what information shoppers require to feel safe with the products they are buying from you can only help build and maintain a great reputation. Further, analytics help companies predict and address the weakest links on the production floor and in their own extended supply chain to keep those customers free from potentially deadly pathogens.
Cloud computing for the delivery of IT and business processes as digital services is transforming the food safety world through the unprecedented speed and agility it enables for mobile and social engagement. Telling your customers that a recalled product could cause an illness used to require lots of phone calls or even snail mail, but now technologies in the cloud facilitate almost instantaneous messaging of the warning to whole or subsets of a population. This is just one of the ways that everyone from shoppers to business people are changing the way they interact with each other and the way we all do business due to the cloud.
Security in general and cybersecurity specifically are disrupters for companies concerned with food safety, because they can fall prey to sophisticated hackers and other crooks that try to ransom a business’ reputation in the digital world. Think how important it is to protect your own information as well as that of your consumers and customers for payment details and personal data. Now add health data to the mix and you’ll recognize the critical nature of the issue.
All of these technology disrupters have the potential to seriously impair your food safety plans and procedures, but they can also help you better deploy resources to address individual food safety emergencies and ongoing issues. Knowing the impact of the disruption is the first step in addressing it; then you need to develop a plan that helps you take advantage of the positive sides of the disruption and eliminate the negative ones.
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