FoodHACCP Newsletter



Food Safety Job Openings

07/14. Food Safety Inspector - Tillamook, OR
07/14. Food Safety & Sanitation Spec – Dallas, TX
07/14. Consultant Food Safety – Ann Arbor, MI
07/13. Manager, Quality Control - Jacksonville, FL
07/12. Food Safety & QA Analyst – Denver, CO
07/12. Risk Manager, Food Investigation – Seattle, WA
07/12. Food Safety Specialist – Denver, CO
07/10. Food Safety Engr, Sanitation – Modesto, CA
07/10. Senior Food Safety Specialist – Austin, TX
07/10. Sanitation Manager – City of Industry, CA

07/17 2017 ISSUE:765

 

UK 'sleepwalking' into food insecurity after Brexit, academics say
Source : https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jul/17/uk-sleepwalking-into-food-insecurity-after-brexit-academics-say
By Peter Walker (July 17, 2017)
The government is “sleepwalking” into a post-Brexit future of insecure, unsafe and increasingly expensive food supplies, and has little idea how it will replace decades of EU regulation on the issue, a report by influential academics has said.
The study says ministers and the public have become complacent after decades of consistent food supplies and stable prices for the UK, something greatly helped by the EU.
Written by food policy experts from three universities, it is published on the day David Davis, the Brexit secretary, heads to Brussels for a second round of formal talks with the EU on departure arrangements.
Davis said the talks would be “getting into the real substance” of what had to be decided, saying a priority would be the reciprocal rights of EU nationals abroad.
The report argues that there has been an almost complete lack of action so far in a host of areas connected to food and farming, including subsidies, migrant farm labour and safety standards.
“With the Brexit deadline in 20 months, this is a serious policy failure on an unprecedented scale,” said Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City Universityand one of the authors.
Prof Erik Millstone from Sussex University, who compiled the study with Lang and Prof Terry Marsden from Cardiff University, said the lack of government action was baffling.
“We are surprised at the failure of the government to address a huge set of issues related to food and agriculture,” he said. “They give the impression of sort of sleepwalking into this.”
The 88-page report notes that large elements of EU agricultural and fisheries policies would need major reform even if Britain remained a member. But it warns that departure from the EU raises such urgent complications for food and agriculture that without focus on the issue “the risk is that food security in the UK will be seriously undermined”, leading to dwindling supplies and erratic prices.
It adds: “There are also serious risks that standards of food safety will decline if the UK ceases to adopt EU safety rules, and instead accepts free-trade agreements with countries with significantly weaker standards.”
After 50 years of generally stable supplies and prices, the authors say, the UK could return to the sort of volatility last seen in the 1930s and earlier, calling the scale of the challenge “unprecedented for an advanced economy outside of wartime”.
The report repeatedly castigates ministers for neglecting the issue: “The silence about the future of UK food since the Brexit referendum is an astonishing act of political irresponsibility and suggests chaos unless redressed.”
The government’s approach to Brexit talks has not been helped by apparent splits on the issue, which saw newspapers run damaging leaks about the chancellor, Philip Hammond, from cabinet discussions on two successive days last week.
On Sunday, Hammond told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show that the reports – one saying he called public-sector workers “overpaid”; the other claiming he said driving a modern trains was so easy “even a woman can do it” – were “generated by people who are not happy with the agenda that I have … tried to advance ensuring that we achieve a Brexit that is focused on protecting our economy, protecting our jobs and making sure that we can have continued rising standards in the future.”
But, Hammond insisted, the cabinet was now “coming much closer together” on EU issues.
The food report notes that with the UK importing 80% of its fresh vegetables and 40% of fresh fruit, a falling pound, and potential tariffs and costs from customs delays there could be significant price rises, the report said.
This would have particular repercussions for poorer people, given the already greatly increased use of food banks following seven years of austerity policies.
It says EU subsidies for farmers, while sometimes criticised, have kept supplies stable. The government has guaranteed these will remain in place until 2022, but there is “silence” about what will happen next.
“If UK agricultural markets are radically deregulated, and all production subsidies ended, they will once again become chronically prone to volatilities of supplies and prices,” the authors warn.
“That pivotal fact has been forgotten by many who have become accustomed to the relative stability in prices and supplies that European and British consumers experienced since the 1960s.”
The report highlights the threat to agriculture and the wider food industry from uncertainty about migrant workers, noting that a third of the workforce in food manufacturing, the largest single UK manufacturing sector, comes from overseas.
“Given the importance of UK food supply, the silence from government on the labour question is astonishing,” the authors say.
Another concern identified in the report is a potential weakening of food standards after Brexit, especially if a trade deal with the US mandated the import of hormone-injected beef and chicken washed in chlorine.
Millstone said that while the proposed great repeal bill would initially transplant EU protections into UK law, with a government committed to reducing the number of regulations, it would also allow ministers to change these without parliamentary debate or consent.
“This will hamper not just food safety but environmental protection [and] employment protections,” he said.
Mary Creagh, a Labour MP who supports the Open Britain pressure group, said the report “sets out the truly worrying consequences of a hard Brexit”.
She said: “A hard Brexit will be bad for British families and bad for British farmers. The government needs to protect our agricultural industry, and stop devastating price rises for British people already feeling the pinch.”
Tom Brake, the Lib Dems’ Brexit spokesman, said: “The Conservatives seem utterly overwhelmed by the scale of the task and are incapable of dealing with the consequences of the extreme Brexit they have chosen.”
A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the aim was to make Brexit “as frictionless as possible” and maintain trade with the EU.
She added: “But we also want to provide stability for the sector when we leave the EU – which is why the repeal bill will make sure the laws and rules we have will, so far as possible, still apply and why our agriculture bill will make sure farmers can continue to compete domestically and on the global market.”

Out with the old, in with the new-ish in USDA’s No. 2 post
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/07/out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new-ish-in-usdas-no-2-post/#.WWxHqIjyiUl
By DAN FLYNN (July 15, 2017)
Al Almanza puts in his retirement papers; confirmation process begins for Stephen Censky
The Al Almanza decade as USDA’s most important figure in food safety is ending, and Stephen Censky is coming in as deputy secretary to help Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue run the department.
Almanza, deputy under secretary for food safety and administrator of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), is retiring from government effective July 31. Censky is stepping down as chief executive of the American Soybean Association to take the post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Almanza’s actual departure will come on a day he chooses, while Censky must go through the Senate confirmation process. There are about 1,200 positions in the federal government that require Senate confirmation. Thirteen of those are USDA jobs, including the deputy secretary and the secretary of agriculture.
President Trump has not nominated anyone to the other 11 top jobs at USDA, including the USDA under secretary for food safety. Between President Obama not filling it during his last three years in office, and President Trump being slow to act, one of the most important food safety positions in the federal government has been vacant for going on four years.
Censky is no stranger to Washington D.C. or the agricultural industry. He came to the nation’s capitol as legislative assistant for Sen. Jim Abdnor, R-SD, and later served in both the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, ending up as administrator of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. He went on to run the American Soybean Association for the past 21 years.
Censky received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture from South Dakota State University and his post-graduate diploma in agriculture science from the University of Melbourne, Australia. He grew up on a soybean, corn and diversified livestock farm near Jackson, MN. He and his wife Carmen reside in suburban St. Louis and have two daughters who are in college.
The Washington Post and the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service are keeping track of the slow-moving confirmation process. They report Trump has not yet named 370 of the 564 “key” positions. Of 139 formal nominations, 48 have been confirmed. Once a nomination is made, the average time to confirmation has been about 45 days.
Almanza has been with USDA for 39 years. He began as just another meat inspector in west Texas in 1978, and finishes out on top after a decade of leadership at FSIS.
“As he stated in his letter to employees, he is proud of the accomplishments to modernize food safety and he leaves knowing that the mission to protect public health will be in the good hands of the nearly 9,500 dedicated public servants of FSIS.” according to a notice posted Friday by USDA.

 


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GMS gets closer to a food safety strategy
Source : http://www.khmertimeskh.com/65333/gms-gets-closer-to-a-food-safety-strategy/
By Sok Chan / Khmer Times (July 14, 2017)
A draft five-year strategy for promoting safe and environment-friendly agriculture products in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) that would enhance regional food safety and promote trade is expected to be finalised today, according to the Asian Development Bank.
“The five-year Regional Strategy and Action Plan (2018-2022) for Promoting Safe and Environmentally-Friendly Agro-based Value Chains focuses on making the region a global player in safe agricultural-based food products produced through sustainable and climate resilient means,” said Edgar Valenzuela, a communication and knowledge management specialist with the ADB.
“The strategy would seek to be inclusive, taking the needs of small-scale farmers and enterprises into consideration,” said Mr Valenzuela.
He added that the strategy would be finalised today at the ongoing 14th annual GMS agricultural working group meeting in Siem Reap organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and reviewed again in September, before it is adopted.
Pavit Ramchandran, an ADB senior environment specialist, echoed Mr Valenzuela’s comments.
“The focus will be on inclusiveness for, and the impacts on, small-scale farmers and micro- and small-agricultural enterprises in the GMS,” said Mr Pavit.
Mr Pavit said the working group also discussed the outcomes of the highly successful GMS one-stop market pavilion and the policy forum organised at the recently concluded World of Food Asia 2017 in Thailand.
The GMS, comprising Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, is a major food-producing region. The region has comparative advantages in specific food supply, built upon its abundant natural resources, low costs of production, proximity to large markets, and a variety of unique food items.
“The overriding theme of the regional strategy for 2018 – 2022 will be on establishing a food safety regime in the GMS that aligns with regional and international standards,” stated the draft strategy.
According to the draft strategy, agricultural and food trade is growing rapidly in the GMS and food safety would enable it “to move further along the value-added path” and attract more foreign direct investment.
“The continuity  of  its  landmass,  the  rapid  development  of its economic  corridors,  and  the  diversity  of  its agro-ecological environment make the GMS uniquely placed within Asean to be a leader in the agrifood trade,” added the draft strategy.
The draft strategy also warned that porous  borders  throughout  the  GMS  present  the  risk  that  unscrupulous  business  enterprises could harm consumers  through  the  distribution  of unsafe  food  products.
“Therefore, it is essential that coordination of policies and border control are enacted by GMS countries to harmonise protocols and practices related to trade of seed, fertiliser, animal feed, pesticides, food, and live animals to protect the health of crops, livestock, and people,” it added. (Additional reporting by Sonny Inbaraj Krishnan)

If You Are Eating Outdoors This Summer, Handle Food Safely
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/if-you-are-eating-outdoors-this-summer-handle-food-safely/
By Linda Larsen (July 14, 2017)
The USDA is offering food safety tips to all Americans who are eating outdoors this summer. Picnics and barbecues are part of the fun of the season. But the risk of food poisoning increases with the air temperature. When the air temperature is above 90°F, perishable foods should not be left out of refrigeration longer than one hour, half the usual time.
When you are packing food for transport, make sure to keep cold food cold. You should always use an insulated cooler with ice or frozen gel packs for all food. Keep cold food below 40*F to prevent material growth. If you pack meat, poultry, and seafood while still frozen, they will stay cold longer.
When you pack coolers for your picnic, put beverages in one and perishable foods in another. When you open and reopen the beverage container, you won’t be exposing perishable foods to warm temperatures. Keep the coolers closed as much as possible.
Watch out for cross-contamination. Meat, poultry, and seafood should be securely wrapped so their juices won’t contaminate food that will be eaten raw.
Clean produce before you pack it. Al fresh fruits and vegetables should be rinsed under running water. Wash and scrub fruits and veggies even before you peel them. Dry them with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to remove more bacteria.
Look for picnic areas that offer clean running water and Brin along soap and paper towels. Moist towelettes can be used to clean your hands before food preparation and eating, but soap and water is better.
When you grill outdoors, be sure to follow food safety rules. Always marinate foods in the refrigerator, never on the counter or outdoors. If you want to use some of the marinade as a sauce, it’s safest to reserve some before you add raw meat, seafood, or poultry. Don’t reuse marinade.
Never partially cook meats and hold them to finish cooking later. Partial cooking before you grill is only safe when you are at home and can immediately grill the food.
Cook food thoroughly and know safe final cooking teperauters. Ground meats should always be cooked to 160°F and tested with a food thermometer. Whole cuts of beef, pork, veal, fish, and lamb should be cooked to 145°F. And all poultry products sold be cooked to 165°F.
Don’t reuse platters or utensils that come into contact with raw meat, poultry, or seafood, because that can cause cross-contamination. And check for bristles in food, because cleaning a grill with a bristle brush can leave some behind on the rack.
And remember the safe food handling steps: clean, separate, cook, and chill. Follow these rules for safe summer eating.

Study: Processed Mac and Cheese Has Lots of Phthalates
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/news/study-processed-mac-and-cheese-has-lots-of-phthalates/
By Staff (July 14, 2017)
The Coalition for Safer Food Processing and Packaging (CSFPP) has released testing data on the presence of phthalates in what has become known as the ultimate comfort food--macaroni and cheese.
Phthalates are chemicals commonly used in plastic products to help make them softer. Besides food packaging, phthalates are also used in the production of items such as nail polish, toys, flooring materials and hair spray, among others. According to some reports, the consumption of phthalates is linked to a number of health problems, particularly in males. These include testicular cancer, and problems with fertility, making exposure of phthalates to pregnant women and young boys a particular health concern. Austim has also been linked to phthalate consumption.
As part of CSFPP’s study, they purchased 30 different cheese products from a variety of U.S. retailers. This included:
15 types of natural cheese (cottage, hard, shredded and string)
10 variations of macaroni and cheese with dry cheese powder
5 kinds of sliced processed cheeses
All cheeses were then shipped to Belgium for independent lab testing at the Flemish Institute for Technological Research, also known as VITO. “Significant levels” of phthalates were detected in all but one of the cheese products tested. In fact, average phthalates levels were:
2x more common in macaroni and cheese powder than in processed cheese
4x more common in macaroni and cheese powder than in natural cheese
In order, the most commonly detected phthalate discovered by VITO’s testing were:
DEHP, or Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate
DEP (Diethyl phthalate)
BBP (Benzyl butyl phthalate)
DINP (Diisononyl phthalate)
It is important to note that food manufacturers are not directly adding phthalates to their recipes. Pthalates make their way into food products by way of direct contact with plastic materials during processing, packaging and labeling. This transmission is particularly notable for cheese products because phthalates are known to adhere to fatty foods more so than others.
At some point or another, phthalates have been banned in a number of countries and regions including Argentina, European Union, Japan and Mexico.

Raw oysters suspected in outbreak; thorough cooking advised
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/07/raw-oysters-suspected-in-outbreak-thorough-cooking-advised/#.WWxSnIjyiUl
BY CORAL BEACH (July 13, 2017)
Gastroenteritis illnesses among customers of a Seattle seafood restaurant who ate raw oysters there in June have caught the attention of public health officials, who posted a public notice Wednesday.
One person has tested positive for vibriosis infection caused by the Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria and two others have symptoms consistent with vibriosis, according to the notice from the Seattle-King County Public Health Department.
All three ate raw oysters at the Salted Sea restaurant on Rainier Avenue South in Seattle, two on June 9 and the third on June 17, before becoming ill. The health department has been investigating the situation since June 22.
“An on-site investigation was conducted at Salted Sea by environmental health inspectors. No factors were identified that contribute to the spread of Vibrio, such as insufficient refrigeration temperatures or evidence of cross-contamination,” according to the notice posted by the health department.
“Without further information from the ill persons on the variety of oysters consumed, we were unable to pinpoint the particular growing area the oysters came from and no closures or recalls were issued.”
As of mid-day Wednesday, the Salted Sea was open for business. The restaurant manager was not immediately available for comment. The Salted Sea opened in the spring of 2015, according to the restaurant’s website.
The Seattle-King County health officials notified the Washington State Department of Health about the illnesses. The state is responsible for tracking such reports and the harvest locations of implicated oysters.
Although the specific variety of oysters consumed by the sick people is not yet known, the city-county health department reported the oysters served in the victims’ meals were harvested in multiple growing areas and bays in Washington.
Anyone who has eaten raw seafood at the restaurant recently and developed symptoms of vibriosis should seek medical attention and tell their doctors of the possible exposure to the bacteria so the proper diagnostic tests can be performed.
Symptoms include watery diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, headache and fever. People are usually sick for one to seven days, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People usually become sick within 24 hours of eating contaminated seafood.
Annually, vibriosis causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the United States, CDC reports. Most cases occur between May and October when coastal water temperatures are warmest. Several varieties of Vibrio bacteria can cause illnesses in humans. The bacteria are naturally occurring in marine waters.
Seattle-King County reports between 20 and 90 confirmed cases of vibriosis have been reported annually for the past 10 years. The five-year average is 30 cases per year, but higher numbers in recent years spurred action by health officials.
“One major preventative measure taken this year toward improved shellfish safety was the implementation of an updated Washington State Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) Control Plan,” according to the Wednesday notice.
“Led by the Washington State Office of Shellfish and Water Protection, this proposal revised the existing WAC to place more preemptive controls on shellfish harvesting during periods of warm water temperatures.”
In 2015 there were 32 laboratory-confirmed cases of vibriosis in the state, with 34 cases and 46 cases confirmed in 2014 and 2013, respectively.
Advice to consumers
To prevent infection by Vibrio bacteria, the Seattle-King County Public Health Department offered these tips:
Always cook shellfish and other seafood thoroughly before eating;
Wash cutting boards and counters used for shellfish preparation immediately after use to avoid cross contaminating other foods;
Wash hands thoroughly with soap after handling raw shellfish;
Stay out of brackish or salt water if you have any wounds — including minor scrapes and cuts — or cover wounds with waterproof bandages to prevent a skin infection; and
Wash wounds and cuts with soap and water if they have been exposed to seawater, raw seafood or raw seafood juices, to prevent skin infections from Vibrio bacteria.

IAFP debate: Is the pizza or the box actually causing obesity?
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/07/iafp-debate-is-the-pizza-or-the-box-actually-causing-obesity/#.WWxS1YjyiUl
BY DAN FLYNN (July 13, 2017)
TAMPA, FL  — There are no “snowflakes” or demands for “safe spaces” from any of the attendees of the International Association for Food Protection. Instead there is a willingness to take sides and debate any issue relating to food safety.
Take Stephen Base of Texas A&M University who was willing to step in late and argue the case that obesity in the United States is caused by the box, not the pizza. Base admitted after the Wednesday morning debate that not even he believed it, but he managed to almost triple the number of people in the audience with his arguments — to 32 percent up from 13 before the debate began.
Debating “current perspectives in food safety” has become one of the annual sessions at the IAFP meetings, giving food safety audiences an opportunity to hear opposing sides and then vote on who made the persuasive arguments. Hurt feelings aren’t a concern.
On the question of “Which is the Real Obesogen?  The Pizza or the Box?” Base started out well behind with the audience of about 300 dividing  87 percent to 13 percent on the side that pizza makes people fat, not the box.
He deployed a wicked sense of humor to raise awareness about how much packaging  is used in delivering pizza in America.
The fact that packaging would come in for as much scrutiny as the meat, cheese and veggie filled pizzas — when it comes to what’s making so man people obese — caught many of the IAFP attendees off guard. However fluorinated chemicals in packages, used for their grease-repellent characteristics, are associated by some with obesity. They are the same chemicals that are used for water-repellant, stain-resistant, and non-stick properties in consumer products like furniture, carpets, clothing, cosmetics and cookware.
To make his case, Base compared Americans to Italians and concluded that U.S. packaging is why people in the states are more obese. Taking the opposing side — and winning — was Ruth Kava of the American Council on Science and Health.
She blamed the pizza, and said packaging concerns were not proof of causation. Kava said that while metabolic and genetic issues are involved, obesity overall is about “activity and intake.” She said data shows people are eating more and being less active.
“It’s the pizza,” she proclaimed.
Ugly ducklings and old hot dogs
Another debate centered on whether we should encourage the consumption of “ugly and expired foods” as a strategy to combat food waste.
Estimates of worldwide food waste vary, but United Nations organizations are claiming more than one billion tons of food produced annually is never consumed while one in nine people remain hungry or undernourished.  And food waste represents a $940 billion per year economic loss.
Sarah Cahill of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, took the affirmative side, arguing the time is long past when we can afford to waste so much food.   She said UN figures show that as much as half the fibers, tubers, fruits and vegetables are wasted.
“We need to push industry and the technology,” she said, calling for using ugly or misformed fruits and vegetables that now go unused only because they are misshaped.
Taking the other side in the ugly debate was Robert Tauxe of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
It’s not the misshapen produce that bothers Tauxe, but bruised and spoiled products that may make products ripe for pathogens. The CDC official said food grading does not always equate with safety, but it can be confusing for consumers. He pointed to past outbreaks that included such items as “salvage” chili and over-ripe tomatoes that made people sick.
Tauxe said people have to understand that ugly is not the same as bruised or compromised. In the end the audience, which was split 70-30 against food waste before the debate, ended up being largely unmoved by the arguments presented.
Lawyer vs. lawyer
The third debate pitted food safety attorney Bill Marler of Seattle against Sarah Brew of the Minneapolis law firm Faegre Baker and Daniels over whether consumers “own a piece of food safety.”
Brew, who argued on the side of industry, began with the audience’s overwhelming support, 87 percent to 13 percent.
“Industry does not have the capacity to make sterile food,” she said. The business attorney argued that consumers are the “last defense” for food safety and must take on responsibility for following instructions, including the “clean, separate, cook and chill” instructions on food packaging.
Marler managed to move the needle a bit toward the consumers’ side, with a post-debate breakdown of 82 percent for industry and 18 percent for consumers.
He pointed out that only about 36,000 food scientists have the level of food safety knowledge of most IAFP conference attendees. He said courts exist to divide liability among all parties that might share responsibility, and in the end 12 consumers who happen to be selected to serve on a jury are the ones who decide.

Update on Deadly E. coli Outbreak in Southwest Utah
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/update-on-deadly-e-coli-outbreak-in-southwest-utah/
By Linda Larsen (July 12, 2017)
An E. coli outbreak in Hildale, Utah that killed two children and originally sickened six has been updated by the Southwest Utah Public Health Department. Now eleven people have been sickened in this outbreak.
On July 5, 2017, testing on the city water system was negative for the pathogenic bacteria. On July 7, 2017, the case number increased to nine. Officials were continuing to test the water.
Also on July 7, 2017, the Health Department told residents of Hildale and surrounding areas to not consume any previously purchased ground beef until further notice. Ground beef has been linked to E. coli in the past, especially when the meat is not cooked to 160°F.
Then on July 11, 2017, the Department announced that there were 11 confirmed cases of E. coli in this outbreak. Officials also told residents of Hildale and surrounding areas not to consume raw milk in addition to previously purchased ground beef until further notice. Raw milk has been the vehicle for E. coli outbreaks in the past.
Some news sources are saying that dirty diapers had been discarded outside housing complex where some of the patients lived, and dogs had been in contact with them. One of the children who died had allegedly been cleaning the yard where the diapers had been left.
The symptoms of an E. oil infection are severe stomach cramps and diarrhea that is bloody and/or watery. A mild fever may be present. Because these symptoms are so severe, most people do seek medical treatment. However, treatment with antibiotics can increase the risk that the patient will develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a type of kidney failure.
To prevent E. coli infections, do not prepare food or drink for others, and don’t serve others food, if you have a diarrheal illness. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before preparing or eating food, and before preparing or touching anything you give to a baby. And wash your hands well after contact with animals.
Cook meats, especially all ground meats, to 160°F as tested with a reliable meat thermometer. Do not consume raw milk and products made with raw milk. And don’t swallow water when swimming.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus Outbreak in Seattle Oysters
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/vibrio-parahaemolyticus-outbreak-in-seattle-oysters/#.WWxUIYjyiUl
By BRUCE CLARK (July 12, 2017)
Public Health is investigating an outbreak of gastroenteritis with watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and vomiting associated with consumption of raw oysters at Salted Sea located at 4915 Rainier Ave S #101, Seattle, WA 98118. One person has laboratory-confirmed Vibrio parahaemolyticus and two others have symptoms suggestive of vibriosis.
Two people from one dinner party became ill after eating raw oysters at the restaurant on June 9, 2017. Another person from a separate party became ill after eating raw oysters at the restaurant on June 17, 2017. Public Health learned of the outbreak on June 22nd.
An on-site investigation was conducted at Salted Sea by environmental health inspectors. No factors were identified that contribute to the spread of Vibrio, such as insufficient refrigeration temperatures or evidence of cross-contamination. Public Health also reported the illnesses to Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Shellfish Program, which is responsible for tracking the reports and harvest locations of the oysters implicated in these illnesses. The oysters served at each of the meals were harvested from multiple growing areas/bays in Washington State. Without further information from the ill persons on the variety of oysters consumed, we were unable to pinpoint the particular growing area the oysters came from and no closures or recalls were issued.
Vibrio is a bacteria consisting of multiple species, including Vibrio parahaemolyticus. The bacteria are naturally occurring in marine waters.  Eating undercooked or raw shellfish, especially raw oysters, is the main risk factor for acquiring vibriosis from infection with Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Growth of Vibrio species is amplified during the warmer months and Vibrio levels in shellfish increase during the summer.
Because raw seafood can be contaminated with Vibrio, always cook shellfish and other seafood thoroughly before eating.
Wash cutting boards and counters used for shellfish preparation immediately after use to avoid cross contaminating other foods.
Wash hands thoroughly with soap after handling raw shellfish.
Stay out of brackish or salt water if you have any wounds (including scrapes and cuts), or cover your wound with waterproof bandage to prevent a skin infection.
Wash wounds and cuts with soap and water if they have been exposed to seawater or raw seafood and raw seafood juices, to prevent a skin infection from Vibrio.

Update: 2017 Food Safety Consortium Date Change
Source : https://foodsafetytech.com/news_article/update-2017-food-safety-consortium-date-change/
By Food Safety Tech Staff (July 11, 2017)
This year’s annual Food Safety Consortium will take place November 29 at 1 pm until December 1, concluding at noon. The main conference kicks off on Wednesday, November 29 at 1 pm with a plenary presentation by Stephen Ostroff, M.D., deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at FDA, followed by a town hall meeting where he will answer audience questions. General sessions for the afternoon include a presentation on food defense given by Special Agent Scott Mahloch, weapons of mass destruction coordinator for the Chicago division of the FBI.
During the final session of the day, industry experts will gather for an engaging reflection on Food Safety: Past, Present and Future. Stay tuned for more details on this special event.
On Thursday, attendees will be treated to an interactive court case:
Plenary Mock Food Safety Trial: Sam I Am who made Green Eggs and Ham, represented by Shawn Stevens vs. Food Safety victims ,represented by Bill Marler. Stevens and Marler will be present their case to the honorable Judge Steve Sklare
In addition to the general event, there will be pre- and post-conference workshops. Pre-conference workshops take place on Tuesday, November 28, beginning at 9 am and run for the first half of the morning on Wednesday, November 29. Post-conference workshops take place during the afternoon of Friday, December 1, following the conclusion of the main event.
For more information, visit the Food Safety Consortium website: http://www.foodsafetyconsortium.org/

Time bombs: Carriers, shippers do little to protect perishables
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/07/time-bombs-carriers-shippers-do-little-to-protect-perishables/#.WWxTmIjyiUl
BY CORAL BEACH (July 11, 2017)
TAMPA, FL — Described by a top Walmart executive as a mega trend that is redefining food safety, home delivery of perishable foods is a mega disaster in the making if businesses don’t step up and do the right thing.
Part of the problem is packaging. Part of the problem is transportation. Part of the problem is perception. All of the solutions are within reach, but with virtually no regulations covering virtual food sales, consumers are at the mercy of profiteers.
The hot topic of keeping food cold was center stage Monday at the Tampa Convention Center when representatives from government, academia and business discussed “Perishable Foods Delivered to Homes via Common Carriers: Safe of Sorry” during a symposium at the annual meeting of the International Association for Food Protection. About 3,500 people from around the world are registered for the four-day conference and trade show.
“It’s here, so let’s figure out how to do it safely,” said Frank Yiannas, Walmart’s vice president for food safety. “Don’t let a new business model outpace standards, controls and prevention.
“As long as foodborne illness exists any place in the world it can exist every place.”
Yiannas issued a call to action during his presentation, urging businesses engaged in home delivery of perishable foods to demand packaging innovations that include time and temperature monitoring and tamper-evident seals to protect their customers.
“Twenty percent of food will be sold online by 2025,” Yiannas said, adding that projections show 70 percent of consumers will be buying at least some of their food on the internet by then.
He compared home delivery of foods in the 2020s to the proliferation of drive-through windows of the 1980s. But the convenience of grocery shopping from home comes with big risks that most consumers don’t yet comprehend.
William Hallman, a Rutgers University professor who is chairman of the school’s Department of Human Ecology, went a step further in his presentation.
“Consumers don’t perceive a risk and they aren’t looking for it,” Hallman said during the session Monday, expressing cautious optimism. “It is possible to do this, though. You can do it safely.
“Industry should be proactive and pack (home-delivered foods) for the worst case scenario, not the best case scenario, which is what they are doing now.”
Hallman and researchers at Tennessee State University joined forces on a project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to examine food safety issues related to home-delivered proteins, aka meat, fish and poultry. They quickly discovered they were examining a moving target, which is one of the factors contributing to the hazards of home delivery of perishable foods.
When the scientists started their project, they identified about 500 websites offering raw meat, fish and poultry for home delivery. By the end of the research project, 73 of those operations had “disappeared,” Hallman said, with new online businesses popping up as fast as the others had dissolved into the internet ether.
“There are very few barriers to these businesses,” Hallman said. “And the parcels being sent by them are not treated any differently that other products being delivered by FedEx and others.”
The research project involved interviews with more than 1,000 consumers and 160 orders of raw meat and fish. Half were sent to Rutgers and half were sent to Hallman’s counterparts at Tennessee State. The scientists documented the condition of the parcels upon receipt and took 10 temperature readings of each product.
Almost half of the food orders — 47 percent — arrived at temperatures above 40 degrees F. That’s the top limit of the safe temperature zone where pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella thrive. Some of the foods were measured at 75 degrees, he said.
Researchers discovered a number of other problems, including:
Gel packs, which are a popular method used by shippers to keep food cold, just don’t work in the online/mail-order format;
Containers used to ship perishable foods are often much larger than necessary and 63 percent did not have packing materials to fill the empty space, which compromises temperature control measures;
More than two-thirds of the shipments — 72 percent — came with dry ice, but the majority did not have any warning labels or handling information to help consumers avoid skin damage and poisoning;
Only 37 percent of the deliveries had visible information indicating the parcels contained perishable foods;
Only 25 percent had food safety information inside the containers; and
Some foods, primarily fish and fish products, did not have any labeling of any kind.
Compounding the problems in some cases were statements on websites and in the food parcels that provided so-called food safety advice that actually increased the danger to consumers.
Hellman cited instructions on some products that directed consumers to touch the raw meat when they received it to check the temperature, advising that if it is cool to the touch, it is safe to eat.
Adding to the problems for consumers, Hallman said, is the fact that most of the businesses offering home delivery do not have contact information on their websites for consumers if they have complaints or questions.
The federal government is attempting to help on that point, according to Melanie Abley of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. She said the Consumer Complaint Monitoring System is a first line of defense in the fight for better food safety in the mail-order food arena.
“We have gotten complaints about meat juices leaking on to other foods, temperature abuses and cooking instructions that don’t reach the correct temperatures to kill pathogens,” Abley said.

 

 

 

 

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