Keeping Watch on Food Safety
Source : http://www.csnews.com/product-categories/foodservice/keeping-watch-food-safety
By Bob Phillips, Convenience Store News (July 24, 2017)
Monitoring temperatures is a vital component.
NATIONAL REPORT — Convenience stores with foodservice operations have a two-pronged mission: deliver great-tasting and safe food to their customers. The first can be a challenge in terms of messaging, as c-stores don’t immediately come to mind for many consumers as a destination for immediate-consumption fresh food. That perception is, thankfully, changing as foodservice becomes more and more visible throughout the convenience channel. The latter, of course, can mean the difference between operating a thriving business and going out of business.
To stay on top of things, c-store operators routinely check temperatures in their freezers, cold doors and hot units several times a day, to ensure they are running at peak efficiency.
“Retailers usually walk around the store with clipboards,” explained Reggie O’Donoghue, director of product management, retail solutions, for Emerson Commercial and Residential Solutions. “There are typically thermometers in the fixtures themselves, and they’re logging the temperature that’s displayed.”
It’s an ongoing process, and the timing often varies — every hour; every shift change. “It all depends on the retailer and what’s being monitored,” said O’Donoghue. “Especially when things get busy, they have to take care of their customers first.”
Robin Gabriel, proprietor of Hinsdale Shell, an independent convenience store with a Shell-branded gas business in Hinsdale, Ill., has thermometers mounted on all of the store’s deli and foodservice coolers. “And we’ve got dials on the outside of our walk-in coolers, as well as hanging thermometers,” she said. “We’re checking those on a regular basis.”
At Hinsdale Shell, monitoring schedules for the various foodservice units — especially cold and frozen doors — vary depending upon their function. “Our big walk-in coolers attached to the beer case really don’t have anything perishable in them — only pop, beer, water and juice,” explained Gabriel. “So that’s not as big of an issue. But the milk coolers are checked two or three times a day.”
A separate cooler that contains items for immediate consumption, including juices, beer and lunch meats, is manually checked several times a day, as are the deli coolers throughout the store.
According to Gabriel, the local Board of Health provides impetus for retailers to make sure their cold and frozen units are running efficiently. “The Board of Health regularly comes in — four times a year — to monitor things,” she said. “They double-check to make sure all the coolers and freezers are being maintained at the correct temperatures.”
What exactly is “the right temperature?” David Brewster, design consultant to the retail industry, said manufacturers will provide their retailer customers with the information they need for proper settings, as well as the correct procedures for monitoring the equipment.
“Also, someone — probably the store manager, plus others — will have food safety training,” said Brewster. In addition, there are operational issues important for retailers to understand, “such as setting the beer cave at 28 degrees and keeping grab-and-go cases shielded so that hot air coming in the door does not degrade the products’ safety or visual appeal.”
Determining appropriate temperatures for foodservice units amounts to Foodservice 101, according to Mathew Mandeltort, vice president of foodservice strategy for Naperville, Ill.-based convenience distributor Eby-Brown Co. LLC.
“When McDonald’s rolled out the ill-fated McDLT back in 1985, the tagline was ‘Keep the hot side hot and the cool side cool.’ It’s the same with foodservice products,” said Mandeltort. “Produce can be a little trickier because certain fruits and vegetables like certain temperature zones. In that case, double-check with your produce supplier or the USDA for the correct storage temperatures.”
Mandeltort refers to food safety and food quality as “mission critical elements” of foodservice. As such, temperature monitoring should be done every day — at a minimum, he advises.
“In a perfect world, it would take place in real time,” he explained. “Fortunately, there are systems that enable foodservice operators to remotely monitor temperature activity by sending out real-time alerts in the event of a temperature anomaly.”
One such monitoring system is Emerson’s Site Supervisor, which not only monitors temperatures in the cold doors and freezers, but also controls indoor and outdoor lighting cycles and HVAC settings in the building.
“Our Site Supervisor is a facility control platform that allows retailers to manage their system needs — HVAC, refrigeration, lighting, etc.,” O’Donoghue explained. “That will help them create the ideal shopping environment and allow them to focus on what they do best: serve their customers.”
He describes Site Supervisor as a “flexible platform.” For c-stores, it typically consists of one controller that manages all of their systems. For single-store operators, the controller is located in-store, which allows for localized monitoring of said systems. For larger chains, units can be connected to remote centers for monitoring. “Some chains outsource that to third-party vendors to monitor their facilities; others do it themselves,” O’Donoghue noted.
In terms of investment, the system is quite reasonable overall. “A rough estimate for installation of the controller and then tying it into site systems would be less than $5,000 for the basic system,” he said. Then, the monthly fees are also reasonable. “I believe that you can get some basic monitoring for about $25 a month,” he added.
Site Supervisor employs a variety of methods to alert retailers that something’s not right with the climate in their facilities. “You could have an audible alarm established,” said O’Donoghue. “You don’t want to do that for everything, but you might want to do that for more of the critical systems.”
A horn and strobe attached to the system can also be particularly effective.
“For instance, let’s say a walk-in cooler door was left open for more than five minutes and you didn’t have it in stocking mode. You might have an audible alert and a light go off to let you know that the temperature has gone above a certain point. That’s fairly common,” he said.
Site Supervisor can also be configured for retailers to receive emails and text messages when something is askew. And if a retailer subscribes to Emerson’s ProAct Services, there are even more benefits —including a technician able to perform a variety of maintenance and repair services to the system.
“On a basic level, that [technician] is calling someone or calling multiple people as defined by the retailer,” said O’Donoghue. “On another level, they’re connecting to the store and trying to do some triage on the store to understand what’s going on a little better. And [yet] another level is to connect to the store, interrogate it, do some triage, and then call a service provider on behalf of the retailer.”
PEACE OF MIND
Ryan Krebs, director of foodservice at York, Pa.-based Rutter’s Farm Stores, has been an Emerson customer for years. The convenience store retailer uses Emerson’s E2 system along with a technician tool that can view settings one site at a time with limited alarm capabilities.
“We just use a basic system that monitors our refrigeration and freezer units electronically. If something is out of temp, they will give the store a call to alert us,” said Krebs. “We take temperatures aggressively — every three hours. Sometimes, we’ll see a unit going out of temp before they even call us. It’s a basic monitoring system that we use, but it’s been very effective for us.”
For a chain as large as Rutter’s — which has 83 stores in Pennsylvania and Maryland — a monitoring system affords the retailer peace of mind that in addition to its store-level employees checking regularly, a digital backup is in place to monitor temperatures.
“It will notify us of things being out of range so that we don’t lose product and can get on-site and fix the problem,” said Krebs. “There’s certainly huge value to that, especially when you have freezers and refrigeration units the size we do, with the size of inventories inside of them.
“We have been working with Emerson for a long time and add monitoring to all our new stores,” he continued. “It gives us a good safety net for the monitoring procedures we already have in place. Having levels of safety when it comes to food holding is always a priority.”
Energy efficiency is another key component of a monitoring system’s value.
“These systems typically save energy, which directly affects the bottom line,” O’Donoghue said.
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New vending machine standards to address food safety, machine hygiene
Source : http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/new-vending-machine-standards-to-address-food-safety-machine-9052100
By Loh Chuan Junn (July 21, 2017)
A standard for vending machine operation was launched on Friday (Jul 21) that is expected to ensure food safety for consumers and provide new entrants to the industry with the industry's best practices.
Called TR 57: Guidelines on food safety and good hygiene practices for the vending industry, the technical reference was developed by the Singapore Manufacturing Federation-Standards Development Organisation and SPRING Singapore, with the help of industry players.
It was drawn up to help companies plan for and operate vending machines, in order to ensure the robustness of their operations, especially since meals dispensed by these machines are not subjected to further cooking to destroy harmful microorganisms that may be present.
Speaking at the launch of TR 57, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling said it was timely to introduce the new standard, as interests in food vending machines have been gaining traction, following the launch of the Industry Transformation Map (ITM) last September.
“We have seen a growing number of companies implementing vending machines and selling ready meals. For food companies, vending machines are an important alternative channel to grow their business in today’s tight labour market,” Ms Low said.
TR 57 will provide food companies with a set of industry practices to help meet local licensing requirements for vending machine operation. The standard can also be useful for food vending machine operators to meet licensing requirements set by the National Environment Agency (NEA). It covers areas such as design and structure, cleanliness and maintenance, food hygiene, and food transportation.
For example, the guidelines specify the temperature range for the storage of various types of food. Hot pre-packed ready-to-eat food should be stored above 60°C for instance.
This sort of key operational guidelines are "practical for new players entering the food vending industry", said managing director of Royal Vending Jae Teo, whose company is one of the first vending machine operators in Singapore.
Noting that there are already vending machine cafes operating in the heartlands, such as Ang Mo Kio and Sengkang, Ms Low said that this number is set to grow.
Already, there are 30 companies planning to install new machines within the next year, she revealed.
According to Ms Low, food vending machines can help to ensure variety and convenience for consumers.
At the same time, these machines can also reduce rental costs for business owners and allow them to target areas where there is a higher demand.
"Besides common local hawker fare like hor fun and fried rice, the machines are able to dispense a wide range of other food items such as rice dumplings, pizza, and even chili crab. Furthermore, vending machines are available round-the-clock, serving as a convenient dining alternative 24 by 7,” she said.
Produce states get $30 million to help FDA enforce new rule
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/07/produce-states-get-30-million-to-help-fda-enforce-new-rule/#.WXbCQE66yUl
By News Desk (July 20, 2017)
Forty-three states and territories are getting a total of $30.9 million from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help the federal agency implement the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule.
“Congress envisioned the states and FDA working together as an integrated food safety system when it passed FSMA,” said Barbara P. Glenn, CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) when she announced the funding on Wednesday.
She praised FDA for providing the additional money for the states.
“Safe food is a quintessential American value,” Glenn said in the announcement. “Congress’ commitment to fund FDA and FDA pointing the funds to the states is an important milestone. We appreciate the continued advancements on collaboration that these commitments afford.”
The FSMA’s Produce Safety Rule was adopted in November 2015. It establishes science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fresh fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption. The nation’s largest growers have to comply with certain aspects of the rule beginning in January 2018. Smaller producers get additional time to comply.
FDA awarded $21.8 million in 2016 to 42 states to help implement the produce rule.
The FSMA marks the first time Congress has extended FDA’s regulatory authority to certain farms. The funding has allowed FDA to work through state departments of agriculture in at least 39 states to implement the rule.
FDA and NASDA entered into a cooperative agreement in 2014 for a joint strategy on how to use implementation funds granted by Congress. As part of the agreement, NASDA developed the “Model Produce Safety Implementation Framework” and the “On the Farm Readiness Review Process” to help states prepare for enforcing compliance with the produce rule.
The nonpartisan NASDA represents both the elected state agricultural commissioners and appointed department directors, cabinet secretaries and other officials that head farm programs in all 50 states and four U.S. territories. It works to form partnerships and achieve consensus for on-farm policies between the states and the federal government.
While the smallest growers of fresh produce are exempt from the Food Safety Modernization Act, implementation remains problematic, especially provisions about agricultural water testing and standards.
FDA is looking at ways to simplify the microbial quality and testing requirements for agricultural water while still protecting public health. Agricultural water can be a major conduit of pathogens that can contaminate produce.
FSMA’s produce safety rule sets microbial quality standards for agricultural water, including irrigation water that comes into contact with produce. Growers say the water standards, which include numerical criteria for pre-harvest microbial water quality, are too complex to understand, translate and implement.
FDA is working to simplify the water standards in hopes of increasing compliance.
Produce growers also say FDA is taking too long to answer technical questions relating to implementation of the new rule.
Consumer Food Trends Create Food Safety Challenges for the Foodservice Industry
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/junejuly-2017/consumer-food-trends-create-food-safety-challenges-for-the-foodservice-industry/
By Gina R. (Nicholson) Kramer, RS/REHS, and Vincent Fasone, RS/REHS
Modern food trends are creating many safety challenges, and food safety specialists must be prepared to respond. Food safety and quality experts must anticipate future trends when navigating the changes to food safety practices that their companies must implement. Consultants also must use food trends as a compass to guide food entrepreneurs in protecting their brand. Regulators must watch food trends and changes in consumer behavior to anticipate changes to the food code to protect public health.
Gardens in Our Restaurants
We have visited several restaurants where hydroponic wall gardens have been installed in the front of the house where customers dine. This system, primarily used to grow herbs and leafy greens, looks like beautiful living wall art to the guest, but is it safe to use in the menu items? We considered this question while dining, watching how guests behaved around the raw agricultural ingredients to be featured in our poached pear and toasted walnut mixed-greens salad.
Guests “oohed and ahhed” over the color combinations on the wall that created a piece of modern art. Then it happened. They had to touch, pet and fondle the garden that was soon to become our dinner. They had to examine if it was really live plants or just silk imitation. I began wondering what else customers might do to those leafy greens on the wall. How easy it would be for someone to spray or place an unknown substance on the produce or in the soil or water, contaminating the root system.
Would this wall of living art be considered an approved source by a regulatory agency? Would a regulator even look at this agricultural field of greens during their inspection? Does the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food code really address this scenario? Maybe this needs to be presented as an issue at the next Conference for Food Protection meeting in 2018.
Another restaurant agricultural food trend is to have an actual garden outside the restaurant in the flower beds surrounding the brick and mortar or on the building’s rooftop. Again, the food safety professional switch turns on when I see these types of gardens as a guest in a hotel where my room overlooks the chef’s rooftop gardens or walking into a restaurant for dinner and being fascinated by the beautiful colors of heirloom tomatoes growing in the flower beds.
While this type of production can yield fresh, delicious produce, Listeria and other foodborne disease-causing bacteria can develop when growers lack a good food safety protocol or workers fail to follow it. Workers can unknowingly track pathogens into kitchen areas on their shoes and then to the actual food prepared. Some large foodservice companies that employ this fresh produce growing practice have worked with food safety experts to develop proper Standard Operating Procedures and Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) to implement in this growing trend at foodservice businesses (pun intended)!
If consumers are to gain all of the health benefits of eating fresh produce, it must be grown, harvested and prepared in a clean environment.
Locally Grown, Locally Produced
Customers have been vocal about wanting companies to be more responsible in the area of sustainability. This includes supporting local farmers and food producers to reduce carbon footprints and boost local businesses. Some who have embraced this philosophy have a false sense of security regarding locally grown food—they perceive it as safer than foods produced on big agri-business farms that travel hundreds of miles to the consumer. Safer is not necessarily the case, which is why foodservice companies must implement supplier-approval programs for local growers and producers. They must be required to implement food safety practices at every step of the growing, harvesting, processing and distribution process.
Traceability is more important than ever. If a foodborne illness event occurs, investigators must be able to trace the food to its source. Even though consumers and food businesses purchase from a local cooperative, produce may be provided by dozens of growers. Co-ops must be able to trace food indicated in the outbreak back to the farm it came from.
One of the worst Listeria outbreaks in recent years occurred at Jensen Farms in Colorado in 2011, with 33 people dying from contaminated cantaloupe. Investigators tracked the bacteria’s potential source to a dump truck used to discard melons parked near the packing shed. The truck carried melons to a cattle lot and could have brought Listeria back to the packing area. Inspectors also discovered pools of water in walkways and along drains, providing breeding grounds for bacteria. Washing and sorting equipment was purchased from a potato operation and could not be properly cleaned or sanitized for melons. In addition, the farm did not follow FDA guidelines for cooling melons and packed warm melons from the field in boxes that were then refrigerated. This method of cooling had the potential to produce condensation that promotes Listeria growth.
Every grower must implement proper sanitary measures and employ GAPs developed by the food industry, producer organizations, governments and nongovernmental organizations.
During food safety research at a greenhouse, for example, researchers found no handwashing capabilities. Employees also wore the same gloves when they handled, harvested and placed tomatoes in boxes. Employees touched their feet and ladder steps with their gloves and then cross-contaminated the food product when they packed it.
Again, food producers and processors must have a food safety protocol and confirm that employees follow it. Failure to do so could result in local and regional foodborne illness outbreaks and long-term health consequences for individuals affected.
In 2016, a restaurant in Ohio purchased eggs raised by a small local farmer. The chef loved the deep-orange color and rich taste of the yolks from this flock of laying hens. The chef decided to use these local eggs in house-made mayonnaise, which has become a consumer flavor trend over the past 5 years. The story reported by Food Safety News shares how the local sourcing went wrong for the restaurateur:
“The most recent update on the outbreak, posted March 8 by Public Health of Dayton & Montgomery, reported 20 of 80 sick people had been confirmed by lab analysis to have Salmonella infections. Illness onset dates were from Feb. 22 through Feb. 28.
“Health officials said in a March 3 statement they received the first complaints about illness possibly linked to Lucky’s on Feb. 29. They inspected the restaurant that day.
“House-made mayonnaise from Lucky’s Taproom tested positive for Salmonella.
Drew Trick, owner of Lucky’s Taproom & Eatery, voluntarily closed his doors Feb. 29 when health officials told him about the reports of patrons becoming ill.
“Trick acknowledged responsibility for the Salmonella outbreak March 7 in a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
“‘Well, it seems our efforts to source locally and make our food from scratch has failed our customers and ourselves. Know that we are doing all that is possible to rectify the situation and eliminate the chance of this happening again,’ Trick said in the Facebook post.
“‘Being that it is very early in the investigation, we are awaiting more details than what is being offered by the mainstream media. That being said, we are prolonging our closure for an unknown period of time. We thank you all for your support and hope to open with a clean bill of health very soon,’ he added.” 
In another instance, a local ethnic market wanted to take advantage of the “buy local” trend and located a small farm that raised goats. The market purchased the slaughtered goats, to be used for retail sale, but did not realize that the facility and carcasses needed to be inspected by the state department of agriculture.
Food Safety Threats Strike the Smoothie Craze
The trend toward healthier eating has created food safety issues within the frozen food industry, as consumers eat frozen produce raw that was never intended for consumption without cooking thoroughly. Consumers, for example, often add frozen fruits and vegetables to salads and mix them into smoothies without cooking them.
Smoothies have become another favorite flavor trend now found on many restaurant menus using both fresh and frozen produce to create flavor profiles that satisfy the consumer’s palate. In my past experience as a local regulator and working on the retail side of the food industry, never did it cross my mind that frozen produce was not considered a ready-to-eat (RTE) food. Were other local regulators aware of the required cooking of frozen produce before serving to the public? Did they question the use of these ingredients included in smoothies? I am sure that small foodservice owners/operators/chefs were not aware.
The frozen food industry should have been able to predict this consumer trend and prepare for it by increasing the food safety standards for pathogen tolerance of frozen food production. The only standards that were changed were the consumer cooking instructions on the packaging. Who reads those on the back of a bag of peas? Frozen pizza, yes; frozen spinach, no.
Monitoring social media such as Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, mommy bloggers and other sources for recipes would have been a huge indicator to the frozen food industry that consumers and chefs were using frozen produce as an RTE food.
The year 2016 saw a large-scale voluntary recall of frozen fruits and vegetables marketed under 42 brand names. The recall involved 350 frozen foods, with eight people sickened and two dying. It took the loss of lives, health and negative economic impact for the frozen food industry to begin changing its food safety standards on this particular category.
Escherichia coli in Flour Results in New Food Safety Alert
Raw cookie dough and other food dough were identified as sources for E. coli outbreaks, because consumers ate the dough or batter raw without proper baking. In 2016, 38 people became infected with an outbreak strain of E. coli in 20 states that was traced to flour produced at a General Mills facility in Missouri. All of the people impacted reported using flour in the week before they became ill or eating or tasting homemade dough or batter.
In 2009, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that 72 people became infected with the same strain of E. coli O157:H7 in 30 states. Victims ranged in age from 2 to 65, with 65% younger than 19 years old. Of those who became ill, 71% were female. Fortunately, no deaths occurred. CDC determined that the source of the outbreak was linked to individuals eating raw refrigerated Nestlé Toll House prepackaged cookie dough. These statistics are important to note that mostly children and women were affected by this outbreak, indicating that these two groups are the primary consumers of raw cookie dough.
Nestlé had placed proper food safety warnings on the packaging of these products, but that did not stop people from eating their favorite comfort food. Following consumer food trends and making food safety changes according to how the product was actually being consumed versus how the manufacturer intended it to be consumed would have prevented this outbreak. Even watching the popular TV sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond (1996–2005) would have tipped off manufacturers that people eat raw refrigerated prepackaged cookie dough as a comfort food.
Food safety experts have always warned against eating raw cookie dough, because of the possibility of contracting Salmonella from the raw eggs used in the dough. But in the two outbreaks discussed above, eggs were not the identified contamination source. How does flour, a low-water-activity food, become a hazardous ingredient? Wheat and other grains that are grown for flour production are not treated to kill bacteria that might come from animals, specifically birds and rodents, which defecate on the grain before it is milled into flour. The expectation has always been that the flour used to make food will be cooked to a high-enough temperature to kill foodborne pathogens that may remain in the product.
The hottest snack food flavor trend now is cookie dough! Cookie dough-flavored candy bars, ice cream, protein bars, yogurt and, yes, even cookie dough Oreos. There are cookie dough scoop shops popping up all over the United States. A scoop of your favorite cookie dough replaces ice cream in the crunchy sugar cone. People are lining up out the door to buy this sweet treat. Fortunately, these scoop shops are using pasteurized egg products and heat-treated RTE flour so that customers do not have to worry about Salmonella or E. coli.
Grocery stores and restaurants are getting in on this latest craze. Customers are flocking to get a scoop of their favorite raw cookie dough. If chefs add this delight to the dessert menu, then it must be asked whether pasteurized eggs and heat-treated RTE flour are being used as the ingredients. Never assume that culinary experts know about the risks of serving raw flour.
Lifestyle Diet Choice or Health Requirement?
Manufacturers of gluten-free (GF) food products understand the strict requirements that surround using this claim on packaging and gaining GF certification. The FDA website states that on August 2, 2013, the agency issued a final rule defining “gluten-free” for food labeling, which will help consumers, especially those living with celiac disease, be confident that items labeled “gluten-free” meet a defined standard for gluten content.
FDA’s website also states that GF foods must contain less than 20 ppm of gluten. Foods may be labeled “gluten-free” if they are inherently GF or do not contain an ingredient that is: 1) a gluten-containing grain (e.g., spelt wheat); 2) derived from a gluten-containing grain that has not been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat flour); or 3) derived from a gluten-containing grain that has been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat starch), if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 ppm or more of gluten in the food.
It goes on further to state that FDA recognizes that people with celiac disease are also interested in being able to identify GF foods served in restaurants and other retail establishments that serve prepared foods to customers. The GF final rule applies to packaged foods, which may be sold in some retail and foodservice establishments such as some carryout restaurants. Given the public health significance of “gluten-free” labeling, FDA says that GF claims on restaurants’ and other establishments’ menus should be consistent with FDA’s definition. State and local governments play an important role in oversight of these establishments.
Those conducting food safety inspections can state that during inspection they are not asking for validation of GF claims made on the menu. Nor are they provided with the proper tools that can measure the concentration of gluten in menu items or food contact surfaces. GF claims made on menus are usually evaluated by the consumer that has sensitivities or allergies to gluten. Below is a story from a customer complaint about a restaurant making a GF claim.
“Restaurant A was in need of a new menu upgrade, and the menu vendor mentioned gluten-free. The restaurant owner was unfamiliar with the meaning of ‘gluten-free,’ and the vendor encouraged him to ‘just pick some items’ as it was the ‘in thing to offer.’ Once the menu was printed, over half of the menu items were labeled as gluten-free.
“I was conducting an inspection at Restaurant A and was reviewing the menu for a consumer advisory. I noticed the gluten-free claim, and we discussed it, even though this did not specifically fall under the food code as a violation. Several weeks later, the health department, where I worked, received a complaint about the gluten-free claims on the menu from a customer who had eaten at Restaurant A and was able to identify that almost all of the items claiming to be gluten-free were indeed not. I revisited the location and discussed the legal ramifications along with a detailed explanation of what ‘gluten-free’ meant under the FDA ruling and encouraged them to update their menu accordingly.”
GF has been publicized in books, on social media and through broadcast media as the newest diet craze. It is the new consumer food trend. Many people are unaware of the sensitivities and severe allergies that individuals have to gluten and that they must not ingest it. GF menu item claims must be validated, monitored and verified on a regular basis by the restaurant kitchen staff. Restaurants must follow the FDA final rule on GF claims.
The food safety industry needs quicker testing methods that are cost effective for use by culinary professionals in restaurant kitchens. This innovation would allow for both industry and regulatory staff to verify the GF claim on menus.
What is a vegan? Here’s how the dictionary defines it: veg·an 've–gen/, as a noun, is defined as a person who does not eat or use animal products; as an adjective, is defined as using or containing no animal products.
Veganism is both the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in the diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals. A follower of either the diet or the philosophy is known as a vegan.
Choosing a vegan diet may be a lifestyle choice, but many individuals that are allergic to dairy or eggs use the vegan claim as a way to navigate food and menu choices.
Consulting about food safety with restaurants that make a vegan claim on their menu can be a unique experience. “Vegan” does not have a formal definition from the FDA, U.S. Department of Agriculture or Federal Trade Commission for the purposes of labeling. Chefs develop their vegan menu passionately so that each item is packed full of flavor for their vegan customers. Most chefs don’t realize the customers with allergies rely on these claims to make life-or-death meal choices.
We are passionate about working with the foodservice companies that are making vegan claims on their menu and want to share the reason why. Below is a true story of the importance of making the vegan claim on a menu.
“Parents ordered a vegan milkshake for their daughter, who had a severe dairy allergy. They were diligent in asking the waitstaff if the milkshake was truly dairy-free and explained that their young daughter was very allergic to dairy. The waitstaff assured the parents that absolutely no dairy was used in the vegan milkshake. Although the shake itself was indeed vegan (dairy-free), the restaurant did not have a designated vegan shake blender. The one that was used was not properly cleaned between uses (dairy and vegan), causing the shake to contain trace amounts of dairy protein, which caused an almost immediate allergic reaction in the little girl and a trip to the local ER. It turned out to be an expensive family night out.”
New Services, Technologies Raise Safety Concerns
Americans’ demand for healthy, convenient food has resulted in food delivery services that send consumers a box of preportioned meal ingredients and recipes for an entire week. These foods are nutritious and appealing, but the question arises as to whether the foods are stored at the proper temperature when delivered. Do delivery personnel leave food packages on the porch during the hot summer until the consumer returns?
Home-delivered food must be accompanied by ice packs or contained in insulated coolers capable of keeping the product safe. In the future, drones and self-driving vehicles may be used to make home food deliveries; food packages may include computer chips to monitor the product temperature and indicate (with a color change or a message on the recipient’s cellphone) if the food becomes unsafe for consumption.
Food delivery by Uber, Yellow Cab and other travel service providers is a hot trend for consumers who don’t want to cook at home and are craving their favorite restaurant’s menu items. The consumer orders the food through the travel service. The driver picks up the takeout order from the restaurant and delivers it to the customer’s door. Who is responsible for the condition, temperature and quality of the food once it leaves the restaurant? What is the chain of custody? Is the food protected from intentional contamination causing harm to the end customer? Who regulates these deliveries?
These are the questions asked when consulting with many foodservice companies. One multi-unit pizza owner told us a horrifying story. He was working the night shift at one of his many locations. A driver of a travel service company picked up a pizza order to deliver to a customer. The driver placed the pizza box on the roof of the car to unlock the door. The pizza box slid off of the roof and fell onto the sidewalk, dropping the pizza (crust side down) directly on the sidewalk. Before the owner could make it outside to throw the pizza away, the driver scooped the pizza up in the box and drove off as fast as possible to make his delivery. The owner was mortified.
Food printing will likely burgeon in popularity as healthy, 3-D printed foods (pasta, chocolates and dough-based foods) become available. Home cooking machines can prepare foods such as lasagna. The consumer places the ingredients in the machine and returns home to find prepared hot lasagna ready for the family meal.
Cruise ships and casinos are now using robots for bartenders. Look it up on YouTube; it is quite a show. Before we know it, machines will replace food employees in restaurant kitchens. Food safety experts need to be ready for the entrance of this technology into retail food establishments.
The food industry must consider various issues relative to this type of technology. How do the robots wash their hands after touching food? Do they need to wear gloves when working with RTE foods?
If the cooking machine breaks, will ingredients such as ground beef cook to the proper temperature? How is the machine cleaned and sanitized, and can it be broken down for cleaning? Users of 3-D printers must be able to prevent foodborne illness and remove allergen proteins that can contaminate foods that the printer next prepares.
Modern food trends are creating many safety challenges, and food safety specialists must be prepared to respond—today and in the future.
Gina R. (Nicholson) Kramer, RS/REHS, is the executive director of Savour Food Safety International Inc.™
Vincent Fasone, RS/REHS, is managing director for Savor Safe Food.
A giant E. coli statue in New York City
Source : http://www.barfblog.com/2017/07/a-giant-e-coli-statue-in-new-york-city/
By Doug Powel (July 20, 2017)
John Metcalfe of City Lab writes there is now a giant statue of an E. coli microbe in City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan.
“Earth Potential: E. coli” is based on a 10,000-times magnified electron-microscope image of the fecal bacterium that causes 265,000 infections in the U.S. yearly, with symptoms including cramps and diarrhea. Made from a digital print on cut-out aluminum, it rests in City Hall Park as part of the larger exhibition, “Earth Potential,” by the Estonian artist Katja Novitskova. The show intends to portray “organisms and bodies” that have “significant research value within the scientific community for their potential to advance our understanding of our species and world,” according to the non-profit Public Art Fund. Aside from E. coli, the other pieces in the show include a huge earthworm, a slippery nematode, and a human embryo magnified to resemble a clump of moldy peaches.
Only certain strains of E. coli cause gut-churning maladies; others are beneficial components of the human intestines and boons to science. As the show’s primer explains: “E. coli has been at the center of groundbreaking research: Genetic engineers have used new synthetic biological techniques to recode the bacteria’s genome, potentially changing the organism’s functionality and radically increasing the prospect that humans will have the ability to rewrite the codes for life.”
Food Safety in a “Foodie” Culture: Proactively Protecting the Foodservice Supply Chain
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/food-safety-in-a-e2809cfoodiee2809d-culture-proactively-protecting-the-foodservice-supply-chain/
By Angela Fernandez
Whether it’s celebrating a milestone birthday or taking a casual cruise through the drive-thru, Americans prefer dining out over cooking a meal at home for the first time in history. According to U.S. Census data, Americans spent more at bars and restaurants ($54.8 billion) last year than on groceries ($52.5 billion). Moreover, consumers have higher expectations about their dining experiences. They have come to expect fresh and diversified offerings creating a complex foodservice supply chain to deliver on the promise of more memorable experiences. Just think about how many self-proclaimed “foodies” share millions of food photos on Instagram each day!
As this trend grows, one thing is for sure. American diners clearly expect food to be safe and place their trust in foodservice operators to provide a quality meal. However, foodborne illness outbreaks still happen. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 48 million people each year get sick from contaminated food in the United States alone—60 percent result from restaurant visits.
While there are many factors that lead to a foodborne illness outbreak (cross-contamination of food, employee illnesses), many foodservice companies are focusing their efforts on enhanced food traceability to increase confidence in the food being sold to loyal guests. To become more vigilant about food safety, the foodservice industry needs visibility and continuity of information across the supply chain. While many foodservice industry leaders recognize this as a priority, there is still much work to be done to ensure food can be tracked and traced from farm to table. Let’s explore how traceability works and what the industry is doing to ensure safety in today’s rapidly changing marketplace.
How Traceability Works
Traceability enables foodservice trading partners to track and trace product throughout the supply chain. It involves each trading partner collecting and maintaining product information that supports, at the very least, “one up/one down” visibility of the product’s movement through the distribution channel. End-to-end traceability is achieved as the net result of two complementary business processes: internal traceability and external traceability. When trading partners effectively implement internal and external traceability processes, each traceability partner is able to identify the direct source and direct recipient of traceable items. Both processes are needed to effectively trace product throughout the supply chain.
Foodservice companies are adopting a common global language—GS1 Standards—which serve as the foundation to share and understand information. The backbone of this system is the Global Trade Item Number® (or GTIN®). A GTIN uniquely identifies a trade item and can be encoded into a barcode to track individual items as they move through the supply chain. Foodservice operators also use Global Location Numbers (GLNs) to help identify essential locations within a supply chain. Use of both of these standards provide a solid foundation toward end-to-end traceability—establishing a uniform way to identify both the “what” and the “where” within the supply chain. Using proprietary identification that does not leverage the interoperability of GS1 Standards can mean inconsistent data exchanges between trading partners and enhanced risk to the supply chain.
A New Step-by-Step Guideline
A new guideline was published by a special traceability workgroup composed of suppliers, distributors and foodservice operators who, learning from the impact of past years’ major foodborne illness outbreaks, decided it was time for the foodservice industry to enhance its traceability practices. The workgroup collaborated to broaden their collective understanding of GS1 Standards and how they support food safety. The guideline is meant to serve as an industry blueprint for any trading partner looking to extend their traceability efforts.
The guideline focuses on the implementation of case-level traceability processes leveraging special barcodes called GS1-128 barcodes, which are used to identify and track cases of product in the foodservice supply chain. These barcodes are effective for capturing important traceability information such as product data, production dates and batch/lot or serial numbers. By collecting and maintaining this information, trading partners can support visibility of the product’s movement through the distribution channel and minimize the impact of product withdrawals by removing affected product faster.
Beyond Food Safety Benefits
There are additional benefits to traceability beyond enhancing food safety. Traceability programs help deliver information transparency, particularly sourcing information as “locally grown” and animal welfare information as these are increasingly sought by those dining out. A recent study from the Center for Food Integrity showed that consumers want transparency around a company’s business practices just as much as food product labeling.
Also, the collaborative work done to enhance traceability has the added benefit of streamlining operations, leading to significant internal cost savings for all trading partners. This is important as the foodservice industry explores innovations such as expanded delivery options and the use of restaurant apps. An Accenture study found 71 percent of frequent quick service customers said that they would use delivery options, and more than 60 percent of consumers have downloaded at least one quick service restaurant’s app, according to research from the National Restaurant Association.
Ultimately, forward-thinking foodservice companies recognize that food safety should be the furthest thing from consumers’ minds while they snap away photos of the latest chef’s special at their favorite lunch spot, or pose for a selfie with a fruit-garnished cocktail at Happy Hour. Through collaboration on traceability, the industry is building a solid foundation to enable foodservice companies to focus on other innovations to enhance the overall experience.
Angela Fernandez is the vice president of retail grocery and foodservice at GS1 US and is responsible for leading the industry engagement strategy to drive broader adoption of GS1 Standards and solutions for the food industry. She is an authority on the food supply chain and food traceability, including minimizing the impact of food recalls via GS1 Standards.
Listeriosis: A Grim Reality for the Food Industry
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/junejuly-2017/listeriosis-a-grim-reality-for-the-food-industry/
By Apoorva, Deepthi Vijay, M.V.Sc., and Pankaj Dhaka
The advancement of hurdle technologies that combine existing or/and novel preservation techniques to prevent the growth of microorganisms and increase the shelf life of products has enabled food manufacturers to garner substantial consumer confidence. But it wasn’t long before even such quasi-successful endeavors began to cast a shadow of concern on the commercialization of food with extended shelf lives. Since the advent of ready-to-eat (RTE) foods, there has been an increase in their consumption, as well as rapidly emerging reports of health issues associated with these items.
Contamination during any phase of food processing may result in a plethora of adverse health conditions, ranging from an innocuous flu to complications as severe as neonatal septicemia and, in certain cases, even death. One of the rising concerns with the ingestion of RTE foods was highlighted by an illness outbreak in Canada in 1981. Contaminated coleslaw was found to be at the heart of the epidemic. The statistics were alarming, demonstrating a mortality rate of around 27 percent, the highest rate ever reported for an infection by any foodborne pathogen. This outbreak initiated an avalanche of research to discover the causative agent, and the results indicated Listeria spp. Since then, sporadic outbreaks of Listeria monocytogenes have continually caused extremely serious, invasive and often life-threatening foodborne disease with a high economic burden to both public health services and the food industry in the form of recalls.
A Closer Look at Listeriosis
Listeriosis is an important foodborne bacterial zoonosis, with most cases predominantly associated with the pathogenic species L. monocytogenes. The organism is a Gram-positive intracellular bacterium and is considered a microbial wolf in sheep’s clothing, as it is most commonly found as a saprophyte but may cause lethal disease that most often affects the uterus during pregnancy, the central nervous system and the bloodstream. The versatile cocktail of its virulence properties and the potential for biofilm matrix formation enable the bacteria to withstand an array of external stresses, such as an extreme range of temperature (–0.1 to 45 °C), pH (3.0–9.5) and high salt concentrations (up to 10%). This unique ability to withstand such stresses established it as a ubiquitous organism present in a variety of environments, including soil, vegetation and water, where it survives as a saprophyte.
In animals, the disease causes considerable mortality and economic losses. Listeriosis in animals is also known as silage disease (due to its association with feeding of poorly processed silage) and circling sickness (due to its effects on the central nervous system that can lead to circling movements in the infected animal). Listeriosis is a well-recognized cause of abortion, endometritis, repeat breeding, encephalitis, septicemia and mastitis in animals, arising mainly from the ingestion of contaminated food and water; it is particularly common in ruminants fed contaminated silage.
Infection in humans causes a wide spectrum of illnesses, ranging from febrile gastroenteritis to invasive disease, including bacteremia, sepsis and meningoencephalitis, especially in high-risk patients such as the elderly, immunosuppressed patients, pregnant women and unborn or newly delivered babies. The details of symptoms in various population groups are shown in Table 1, and the pathology of the disease in humans is depicted in Figure 1. While infection can be treated successfully with antibiotics, human infection has a high mortality rate, between 20 and 40 percent.
Routes of Contamination
Consumption of contaminated food is believed to be the principal route of infection in 99 percent of all human cases. However, infection can also be transmitted, albeit rarely, by direct contact with either the environment or infected animals, or by cross-infection between patients during the neonatal period. Hence, the primary intervention to prevent disease is to eliminate or reduce this bacterium from the food processing chain.
Food-Handling Tips for Consumers
• Keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables and from cooked and RTE foods.
• Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources such as mutton, beef, pork and poultry.
• Wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating.
• Avoid raw (unpasteurized) milk or food products made from raw milk.
• Wash hands, knives and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods.
• Keep foods for as short a time as possible, follow the storage instructions carefully and observe the “best by” and “use by” dates on the label.
• Make sure your refrigerator is working properly and maintains food at the proper temperature.
• When using a microwave oven to cook or reheat food, observe the standing times recommended by the oven manufacturer to ensure that food attains the proper temperature.
• For at-risk groups:
• Avoid soft cheeses such as feta, brie, Camembert, blue-veined and Mexican-style cheeses.
• Although the risk of listeriosis associated with RTE foods from deli counters is relatively low, pregnant women and immunosuppressed persons may want to avoid these foods or thoroughly reheat cold cuts before serving.
Being a ubiquitous bacterium, the organism has the unique ability to easily survive and multiply in a plethora of contaminated food items, such as refrigerated foods like unpasteurized milk and its products (e.g., soft cheese, ice cream and butter), meat, vegetables (e.g., coleslaw salad, vegetable rennet and mushrooms) and various seafoods (e.g., RTE raw mollusks, RTE raw fish and other fish products).
Apart from a wide range of tolerances toward temperature, pH, water activity, salt and nitrite concentrations, along with its tendency to form a biofilm matrix, the survival mechanisms of L. monocytogenes in foods result from a complex series of interactions influenced by the bacterium’s adaptation to the composition of the food, the prevailing food microflora and the conditions of food processing techniques, postprocessing strategies and storage conditions. These factors cumulatively pose a big challenge for the food industry to apply the right combinations of various existing hurdles to prevent this organism from entering the food chain at any point without compromising the quality of the final products. Hence, to ensure that manufactured foods are safe for human consumption, it is essential for food processors to determine conditions that maintain food freshness while keeping microbial contamination at a minimum level. The main checkpoints to prevent the entrance of a pathogen into the meat processing chain are depicted in Figure 2.
Due to Listeria’s significantly high fatality rate and seamless association with everyday food items, it’s become extremely important to keep this organism from entering the food processing chain at all possible stages. To do so, health advice and updated regulations must be aligned. Regulations differ between countries and are dictated by the underlying economy, unmet food demands and the demographics of the population, with the majority of developing nations favoring a risk-based approach. By contrast, a zero-tolerance approach is being followed largely by the United States. What is clear is that any approach must be driven by the science, to protect both public health and the food industry.
The picture portrayed above of Listeria is just a glimpse into its multifaceted pathogenicity and showcases its tremendous potential as a food pathogen. Its unique ability to withstand external stresses with an armor of virulence factors establishes it as a ubiquitous organism present in diverse environments. Since the first major foodborne outbreak of listeriosis in the 1980s, a slew of food companies have endured the brunt of Listeria contamination and paid a dear cost, underscoring its increased relevance in today’s environment. Currently, soft cheeses made from unpasteurized dairy products, delicatessen meats, hot dogs and fresh produce are recognized as the most efficient vehicles for transmission of L. monocytogenes. The populations affected by it underline the need for serious efforts to prevent and control it, and ultimately to reduce huge losses in health, life and monetary terms. Prevention largely resides in undertaking due vigilance during meal preparation (especially thorough washing and proper heating; see “Food-Handling Tips for Consumers”) and the avoidance of high-risk foods by susceptible populations. The insidious nature of this foodborne pathogen, manifested by its ability to survive in difficult environmental conditions, is what actually makes it hard to eradicate and thereby warrants the need to contain this organism from entering the food processing chain at all stages.
Chipotle mum on status of restaurant linked to outbreak
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/07/chipotle-mum-on-status-of-restaurant-linked-to-outbreak/#.WXbEM066yUl
By Coral Beach (July 19, 2017)
No one was answering the phone at the Chipotle Mexican Grill on Tripleseven Road in Sterling, VA, Tuesday evening and no one from the chain’s corporate headquarters in Denver was answering questions about when they might reopen the location, which is implicated in an ongoing foodborne illness outbreak.
Earlier in the day the corporation’s public relations staff issued a statement attributed to Jim Marsden, Chipotle’s executive director for food safety, acknowledging the outbreak and indicating the restaurant, which was voluntarily closed Monday, would reopen Tuesday.
Public health officials with Loudoun County and the state of Virginia are investigating the outbreak, which was identified after Chipotle customers reported becoming sick on the iwaspoisoned.com website. But the restaurant is not obligated to seek approval before reopening.
“Since the restaurant closed voluntarily, they do not need our permission to reopen,” said Dr. David Goodfriend, who has been director of the Loudoun County Health Department since 2001.
“That said, they have been working closely with us and accepting our recommendations. … We are currently working with the facility to follow up on the patrons’ concerns and to determine how best to go forward. At this point we are not aware of health related concerns associated with other Chipotle locations.”
Neither Goodfriend nor state health officials answered specific questions about the investigation, including whether food samples or environmental swab samples from the restaurant are being tested for foodborne pathogens. According to Chipotle’s statement, the victims’ symptoms are consistent with norovirus.
“The main testing will be stool samples and we hope to have several collected and sent for testing this week,” Goodfriend said.
Although Chipotle’s top food safety executive reported “norovirus does not come from our food supply, and it is safe to eat at Chipotle,” Goodfriend cited information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that identifies foodborne transmission as a frequent route for the highly contagious virus.
“Norovirus is the leading cause of illness and outbreaks from contaminated food in the United States,” according to the CDC. “Most of these outbreaks occur in the food service settings like restaurants. Infected food workers are frequently the source of the outbreaks, often by touching ready-to-eat foods, such as raw fruits and vegetables, with their bare hands before serving them.
However, any food served raw or handled after being cooked can get contaminated with norovirus. Norovirus outbreaks can also occur from foods, such as oysters, fruits, and vegetables, that are contaminated at their source.”
Déjà vu in a burrito bowl
With more than a dozen people reporting they got sick after eating at the Sterling, VA, Chipotle location on Friday and Saturday, the chain with more than 2,200 locations saw its stock drop sharply Tuesday. It fell more than $17 per share, or about 4.3 percent, to $374.98 when the closing bell rang at the New York Stock Exchange.
That’s just 50 percent of its all-time closing high of $757.77, which Chipotle recorded on Aug. 5, 2015, as a series of foodborne illnesses linked to multiple locations was beginning. The Denver-based chain struggled the following year, but closed just under $380 at the end of December 2016.
Public relations and advertising campaigns have failed to work the magic promised by founder Steve Ells. The company is scheduled to report second-quarter financial information on July 25.
The string of outbreaks traced to Chipotle restaurants during the last half of 2015 included:
•Seattle — E. coli O157:H7, July 2015, five people, source unknown;
•Simi Valley, CA — Norovirus, August 2015, 234 people, source was sick employee;
•Minnesota — Salmonella Newport, August and September 2015, 64 sick people, source was tomatoes but it is not known at what point in the field-to-fork chain the pathogen was introduced;
•Nine states — E. coli O26, began October 2015 and declared over on Feb. 1, 2016, 55 people, source unknown, states involved were California, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington;
•Boston — Norovirus, December 2015, 151 sick people, source was sick employee; and,
•Three states — E. coli O26, began December 2015, declared over Feb. 1, 2016, five sickened people, source unknown, states involved are Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska.
Crowdsourcing site detected outbreak
Similar to the outbreaks in 2015, Chipotle customers took to the internet when they became ill. The crowdsourcing website iwaspoisoned.com logged eight complaints on Sunday and Monday about the restaurant in Sterling, VA. The complaints reported 13 sick people, including two hospitalizations, according to Business Insider, which broke the news story Tuesday morning.
As Tuesday wore on, more customers who ate at the implicated Chipotle restaurant in Virginia posted reports on the website, founded by food poisoning victim Patrick Quade. Since its creation, iwaspoisoned.com has partnered with state and local health departments to help identify foodborne outbreaks related to restaurants.
“Virginia state subscribes to us and gets daily alerts,” Quade said Tuesday. “But I gave them an early heads up, too.
“We’re the largest independent food safety issue reporting site, which means we’re often the first to see issues emerge.
“We actively moderate the reports to ensure our data is of the highest quality possible, and have been working for many years with public health agencies and food service companies to take steps to reduce the number of foodborne illness incidents. With technology, we can make eating out a lot safer.”
Quade contends iwaspoisoned.com can serve as an early warning system for companies, allowing them to identify potential foodborne illness outbreaks as soon as possible so they can take action more quickly.
Restaurant’s inspection history
Restaurant inspectors from the Loudoun County Health Department didn’t find any reportable problems during their most recent trip to the Chipotle Mexican Grill on Tripleseven Road in Sterling, VA, which was April 21 this year.
However, inspection reports dating back to 2012 show problems over the years. Following are highlights from those reports:
•April 21, 2017 – Routine, No items found.
•Dec. 5, 2016 – Routine, No items found.
•Aug. 4, 2016 – Routine, No items found.
•March 15, 2016 – Routine, 1 critical violation, 1 repeat violation — Several fruitflies were noted in the establishment.
•May 6, 2015 – Routine, 2 critical violations, 2 repeat violations — Employees or applicants are not aware of the reporting procedures concerning information about their health and activities if they are suspected of causing, or being exposed to a confirmed disease outbreak caused by Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli O157:H7, Hepatitis A virus or norovirus.
Ground beef and beans held at improper temperatures, registering at 44 degrees F in walk in refrigerator. Operators must maintain the temperature of cold holding potentially hazardous food less or at 41 degrees F.
•Jan. 23, 2015 – Complaint – customer reported becoming ill after dining at the restaurant, which she reported had dirty restrooms. No items found. Complaint closed.
•Nov. 20, 2014 – Routine, 1 critical violation — Several fruitflies were noted in dishwashing area in the establishment.
•April 4, 2014 – Risk Factor, 2 critical violations, 1 non-critical violation —
Employee observed drinking from an uncovered container in the food preparation area. Operator voluntarily discarded said container.
Shredded pork held at improper temperatures, testing at 71 degrees F in walk in refrigerator. Operator voluntarily discarded said food.
No disposable towels were provided at the hand washing lavatory in the kitchen. Hand drying devices such as individual disposable paper towels, a continuous towel system that supplies the user with a clean towel or heated air hand drying device must be provided at all hand washing lavatories to encourage proper hand washing and avoid employees to drying their hands on their clothing or other unclean materials
•Oct. 10, 2013 – Routine, 3 critical violations, 2 non-critical violations — Employees or applicants are not aware of the reporting procedures concerning information about their health and activities as they relate to diseases that are transmissible through food, including the date of onset of jaundice or of an illness due to Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli O157:H7, Hepatitis A virus or norovirus.
Wiping cloths improperly stored between use. Operator must ensure wet wiping cloths are stored in a chemical sanitizer at the proper concentration between uses.
Chicken held at improper temperatures, registering at 122-128 degrees F in hot holding unit in kitchen. Operator voluntarily discarded said food.
Prechilled diced tomatoes held at improper temperatures, registering at 48-50 degrees F in walk in refrigerator and front line.
The cutting boards on the drying rack are heavily scratched, scored and discolored. The food contact surface is no longer easily cleaned and sanitized due to condition.
•Dec. 12, 2012 – Routine, No items found.
Why Include Food Fraud Records in Your Hazard Analysis?
Source : https://foodsafetytech.com/feature_article/include-food-fraud-records-hazard-analysis/
By Karen Everstine (July 18, 2017)
Food fraud is a recognized threat to the quality of food ingredients and finished food products. There are also instances where food fraud presents a safety risk to consumers, such as when perpetrators add hazardous substances to foods (e.g., melamine in milk, industrial dyes in spices, known allergens, etc.).
FSMA’s Preventive Controls Rules require food manufacturers to identify and evaluate all “known or reasonably foreseeable hazards” related to foods produced at their facilities to determine if any hazards require a preventive control. The rules apply both to adulterants that are unintentionally occurring and those that may be intentionally added for economically motivated or fraudulent purposes. The FDA HARPC Draft Guidance for Industry includes, in Appendix 1, tables of “Potential Hazards for Foods and Processes.” As noted during the recent GMA Science Forum, FDA investigators conducting Preventive Controls inspections are using Appendix 1 “extensively.”
The tables in Appendix 1 include 17 food categories and are presented in three series:
•Information that you should consider for potential food-related biological hazards
•Information that you should consider for potential food-related chemical hazards
•Information that you should consider for potential process-related hazards
According to the FDA draft guidance, chemical hazards can include undeclared allergens, drug residues, heavy metals, industrial chemicals, mycotoxins/natural toxins, pesticides, unapproved colors and additives, and radiological hazards.
USP develops tools and resources that help ensure the quality and authenticity of food ingredients and, by extension, manufactured food products. More importantly, however, these same resources can help ensure the safety of food products by reducing the risk of fraudulent adulteration with hazardous substances.
Data from food fraud records from sources such as USP’s Food Fraud Database (USP FFD) contain important information related to potential chemical hazards and should be incorporated into manufacturers’ hazard analyses. USP FFD currently has data directly related to the identification of six of the chemical hazards identified by FDA: Undeclared allergens, drug residues, heavy metals, industrial chemicals, pesticides, and unapproved colors and additives. The following are some examples of information found in food fraud records for these chemical hazards.
Undeclared allergens: In addition to the widely publicized incident of peanuts in cumin, peanut products can be fraudulently added to a variety of food ingredients, including ground hazelnuts, olive oils, ground almonds, and milk powder. There have also been reports of the presence of cow’s milk protein in coconut-based beverages.
Drug residues: Seafood and honey have repeatedly been fraudulently adulterated with antibiotics that are not permitted for use in foods. Recently, beef pet food adulterated with pentobarbital was recalled in the United States.
Heavy metals: Lead, often in the form of lead chromate or lead oxide which add color to spices, is a persistent problem in the industry, particularly with turmeric.
Industrial Chemicals: Industrial dyes have been associated with a variety of food products, including palm oil, chili powder, curry sauce, and soft drinks. Melamine was added to both milk and wheat gluten to fraudulently increase the apparent protein content and industrial grade soybean oil sold as food-grade oil caused the deaths of thousands of turkeys.
Pesticides: Fraud in organic labeling has been in the news recently. Also concerning is the detection of illegal pesticides in foods such as oregano due to fraudulent substitution with myrtle or olive leaves.
Unapproved colors/additives: Examples include undeclared sulfites in unrefined cane sugar and ginger, food dyes in wine, and tartrazine (Yellow No. 5) in tea powder.
FDA’s Appendix 1 includes 17 food categories. USP FFD includes 34 System Ingredient Groups to facilitate searching of records by food category, many of which align with the food categories in Appendix 1.
USP FFD brings together information from a variety of public sources including documented food fraud incidents, recalls and scientific literature to assist in the identification of food fraud-related hazards. The evaluation of data about food fraud-related hazards is an important component of food safety plans.
Once hazard identification is completed, USP’s Food Fraud Mitigation Guidance supports the process of evaluating hazards and establishing control plans where needed. Beyond helping with FDA’s requirement to identify and evaluate hazards, the USP guidance is also useful for supporting compliance with GFSI-recognized certification programs, which require (or soon will be requiring) food fraud vulnerability assessments that go beyond an examination of historical records for potentially hazardous adulterants.
The Produce Safety Rule: Be Prepared for a Food Regulatory Inspection
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/the-produce-safety-rule-be-prepared-for-a-food-regulatory-inspection/
By James Gorny, Ph.D. (July 18, 2107)
It is important to understand your rights and responsibilities during a food regulatory inspection, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s regulatory authority has been significantly expanded under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Under FSMA, FDA is now focused on proactively trying to prevent food contamination from occurring at food facilities and farms. Today, many of FSMA’s final rules are in varying stages of implementation, and FDA, in collaboration with the states, are now embarking on FSMA food regulatory inspections. Details regarding the final FSMA regulations can be found on FDA FSMA webpage.
The Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) food safety team, in collaboration with Keller Heckman, a premiere global food and drug law firm, have developed a new, easy to read food regulatory inspection manual that is intended to help fresh produce food facilities and farms understand their rights and responsibilities during a food regulatory inspection. Additionally, the manual provides practical information and checklists to help prepare firms for a food regulatory inspection.
The manual begins with an overview of each of the seven major FDA FSMA regulations with links to the actual regulations. It also contains suggested “boiler plate” language or model policies and procedures that can be incorporated into your companies inspection plan to expeditiously and tactfully handle a food regulatory inspections conducted by the FDA or a state food regulatory agency. The likelihood of inspections for farms and facilities has greatly increased under the new FSMA regulations and inspection frequency will depend on the size of your business and the types of products you handle. If you operate a farm subject to the FSMA produce safety rule, compliance dates and inspections that will follow are right around the corner in January 2018. However, it is still unknown whether regulators will be using similar or different procedures and practices when inspecting a farm compared to a food facility but being prepared is always best.
Being prepared is the key to successful inspection and that means understanding what FDA can require of you during an inspection. It is always important to respond and provide accurate information to the inspector, but it is equally important to understand the significance of protecting confidential information.
The risks of failing to be prepared may potentially result in product recalls, adverse publicity and adverse business consequences resulting in a facility shutdown, re-inspection fees, criminal prosecution and possible imprisonment. This manual outlines steps to proactively prepare, including tips on establishing a company inspection team, as a trained and prepared inspection team will help ensure your company is appropriately and accurately represented during a food regulatory inspection. In addition to suggestions for setting up your inspection team, the manual contains worksheets and templates that can be used to develop your company inspection manual. Developing a company inspection manual as well as policies, procedures and practices around food regulatory inspections is critically important. Your inspection manual will allow you to be prepared for example to identify and clearly communicate to an inspector what is and what is not company confidential information. Along with the templates and worksheets provided in the manual, you will find an outline of important information needed during an inspection, and a list of do’s and don’ts for both before and during an inspection. The list of do’s and don’ts summarizes how to get through an inspection without a tremendous amount of stress. The appendices in the manual provide copies of actual FDA forms typically issued during and inspection, so that you may become familiar with them before being presented with them during a regulatory inspection.
In addition to the PMA food regulatory inspection manual itself, PMA also held a webinar entitled “What to do when FDA knocks” to familiarize produce industry businesses with this new resource as well as answer questions about food regulatory inspections. Ms. Leslie Krasny, the author of the PMA food regulatory inspection guide and a partner in the Keller and Heckman San Francisco office, was the featured speaker on the webinar. The webinar can be viewed and listened to in its entirety on by visiting the PMA website.
A food regulatory inspection is always a stressful event but being prepared can minimize that stress. Ultimately, the inspector is looking for evidence of deficiencies and violations and other information regarding the actions and culture of corporate management that might form the basis of an enforcement action. So plan ahead and be prepared for your next food regulatory inspection by downloading a copy of the PMA food regulatory inspection guide today.
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