Blow out your birthday cake candles, unless you’re sick
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/08/blow-out-your-birthday-cake-candles-bacteria-included/#.WYfbU4jyiUl
BY KELSEY M. MACKIN (Aug 6, 2017)
Editor’s note: A recent experiment at Clemson University examined the potential spread of bacteria from people blowing out candles on birthday cakes.
We all look forward to that one day a year when family and friends gather around in song to watch you blow out the candles on your birthday cake. In my house, it wasn’t just once a year. Nope, it didn’t matter if it was your special day, it was often a group effort, whether you wanted the help or not.
Growing up as one of four children, my parents had their hands, and calendars, full year round. There were always exciting events, holidays, and of course, birthdays to celebrate. September, October, February, March, June, and July all called for cake and candles in our house. Little did I know that sharing the blow of candles, also meant sharing the blow of bacteria.
According to new research from Clemson University, blowing out candles increases bacteria on a cake icing by a whopping 1,400%. Yes, over one-thousand, a pretty high blow to many.
Paul Dawson is a known food myth buster and professor at Clemson University. His experiments fought the infamous 5-second rule and discussed the dangers of double-dipping. Most recently, he led a team of students in the birthday cake bacteria discovery.
Rest assured, the spread oral bacteria or respiratory droplets, does not actually mean that anyone who eats the cake is in any serious trouble. That is, unless you didn’t wait for your sister, ‘the birthday girl’, to take the first bite… But in all seriousness, if you’re sick you s think twice about blowing out your candles, and opting for a personal cake, cupcake, or slice instead.
The moral of the study? Think twice if you or your loved one is sick on their special day, and maybe don’t think too long about it if they’re not! The next time you share cake, share Clemson’s mind-blowing, candle-blowing discovery.
Second brand of papayas recalled in outbreak; more expected
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/08/second-brand-of-papayas-recalled-in-outbreak-more-expected/#.WYfbBYjyiUl
By CORAL BEACH (Aug 5, 2017)
Wholesalers can identify the papaya recalled by Agroson’s LLC by codes found above the handle on the master carton, codes include: 3044, 3045 and 3050. The farm that grew the papayas is also listed on the upper left side of the master carton, CARICA DE CAMPHE.
Agroson’s LLC, a distributor in New York City, is recalling Cavi brand maradol papayas because they were grown on a farm in Mexico that produced other brands of papaya that are linked to a deadly Salmonella outbreak in the U.S. that has sickened more than 100 people.
Investigators with the Food and Drug Administration are “in discussion with other distributors and expect to have additional information to share in coming days,” an agency spokeswoman told Food Safety News on Friday night.
The New York distributor shipped the maradol papayas to wholesalers in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey who in turn sent the fruit on to retailers and other
customers, according to the Agroson’s recall notice on the FDA’s website.
No illnesses had been confirmed in connection with papayas from Agroson’s as of Friday.
As of Wednesday, there were 109 confirmed outbreak victims across 16 states, with one death reported in New York City, according to a Friday update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Agroson’s distributed the now-recalled papayas between July 16 and 19. They were available for sale at retailers through July 31. Consumers can identify the papayas by PLU sticker that has “cavi MEXICO 4395” printed on it.
“All wholesale customers to whom the papayas were delivered have already been notified to remove the recalled papayas from inventory, store shelves, and other commercial venues. Recall effectiveness checks are already underway by Agroson’s LLC,” according to the recall notice.
“The recall was initiated after Agroson’s LLC, was notified by the FDA, on August 2 that several brands of maradol papaya from the farm Carica de Campeche had tested positive for Salmonella. None of the brands were specifically Cavi brand, but as a precaution FDA recommended a recall of all papayas imported in the month of July from this farm.”
The FDA has been working with state officials and the CDC to investigate the ongoing outbreak, which was first identified by Maryland public health staff investigating a cluster of Salmonella Kiambu illnesses.
Grande Produce of San Juan, TX, recalled Caribeña brand maradol papayas it distributed in Maryland and other states after people confirmed with Salmonella infections reported eating the fruit before they became ill. Lab tests conducted by Maryland officials confirmed the outbreak strain of Salmonella on Caribeña brand maradol papayas collected from a grocery store in Baltimore and from sick people’s homes.
Friday morning FDA named the Carica de Campeche farm in Mexico as the source of several brands of papayas, including those distributed by Grande Produce and Agroson’s, that tested positive for Salmonella.
“Papayas from the Carica de Campeche farm tested positive for Salmonella Kiambu, Salmonella Thompson, Salmonella Agona, Salmonella Senftenberg, and Salmonella Gaminara,” FDA reported Friday morning.
Food safety measures at the Carica de Campeche farm in Mexico are illustrated on the grower’s Facebook page with this and several other photos.
“On (Thursday) CDC announced it has added illnesses of Salmonella Thompson to this outbreak investigation because of epidemiological and laboratory evidence. Whole genome sequencing is pending for these samples. The Carica de Campeche farm has been added to Import Alert (IA) 99-35.
“The FDA had increased testing of papayas from Mexico in an effort to see if fruit from other farms could be contaminated. If the FDA finds Salmonella in other shipments, those farms will also be added to IA 99-35.”
Both Grande Produce and Agroson’s have stopped using fruit from the Carica de Campeche farm, according to the companies’ recall notices. Agroson’s is taking additional steps.
“The company is taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of its imported produce by taking samples of every load to a private lab, and testing for Salmonella,” Agroson’s reported in its recall.
Advice to consumers, restaurants and retailers
State and federal public health officials recommend applying the golden rule of food safety regarding papayas on hand in homes and businesses: When in doubt, throw it out.
Additional recommendations from CDC include:
If you have had whole, fresh papayas in your home or business, wash and sanitize countertops, cutting boards and utensils, as well as drawers or shelves in refrigerators where papayas were stored, with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water; dry with a clean cloth or new paper towel.
Wash your hands with running water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.
Anyone who has eaten fresh papaya recently and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection is urged to seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure so the proper diagnostic tests can be performed.
Salmonella bacteria can cause diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and fever. Symptoms usually begin between 12 to 36 hours after exposure, but they may begin as early as 6 hours or as late as 72 hours after exposure.
Symptoms can be mild or severe and commonly last for two to seven days. Salmonella can infect anyone, but young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems are the most likely to have severe infections.
Editor’s note: Because of the popularity of papayas in Mexican and Hispanic cuisine, public health officials say people in those groups are at particular risk during the current outbreak. To access Spanish versions of information the CDC and FDA have posted about the outbreak and recalls, please use the following links:
Grande Produce papaya recall: https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm569122.htm
FDA outbreak investigation: https://www.fda.gov/Food/RecallsOutbreaksEmergencies/Outbreaks/ucm568393.htm
CDC outbreak investigation: https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/kiambu-07-17/es/index.html
Deadly Salmonella Papaya Outbreak Sickens 109
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/deadly-salmonella-papaya-outbreak-sickens-109/
By News Desk (Aug 4, 2017)
The deadly Salmonella Kiambu outbreak linked to papayas has now sickened at least 109 people in 16 states. That’s an increase of 64 more ill persons from the last update on July 21, 2017. Six more states have reported patients since then: Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.
This outbreak began when Maryland officials started investigating a Salmonella cluster in their state. They found two types of Salmonella: Kiambu and Thompson. Officials were not sure if those sickened with Salmonella Thompson were part of this outbreak.
Now, laboratory tests showed that the strain of Salmonella Thompson isolated from papayas collected in the Maryland investigation is “closely related genetically” to clinical isolates from patients so they are part of the outbreak.
Thirty-five of these patients have been hospitalized because they are so sick. One death was reported from New York City.
The case count by state is: Connecticut (4), Delaware (1), Iowa (2), Kentucky (2), Louisiana (1), Maryland (6), Massachusetts (3), Michigan (1), Minnesota (4), North Carolina (2), New Jersey (26), New York (26) Oklahoma (2), Pennsylvania (7), Virginia (11), and Wisconsin (1). Illnesses started on dates ranging from May 17, 2017 to June 22, 2017. The patient age range is from less than 1 year to 95, with a median age of 36. Sixty-three percent of ill persons are female. Among 74 people interviewed, 50, or 68%, are of Hispanic ethnicity.
Investigators used whole genome sequencing (WGS) to learn more about the DNA of Salmonella from Maradol papayas that officials in Maryland purchased from a grocery store in that state. The samples yielded the outbreak strains of Salmonella Kiambu and Salmonella Thompson, both from the Caribeña brand Maradol papayas imported from Mexico.
The Salmonella Kiambu isolate from the papaya is closely related genetically to Salmonella Kiambu isolates from ill persons. The testing also showed that the Salmonella Thompson isolate from another papaya is closely related to the Salmonella Thompson isolates from patients.
The FDA has tested other papayas imported from Mexico from the Caria de Campeche farm. They found other types of Salmonella on the fruit, including Salmonella Agona, Salmonella Kiambu, Salmonella Gaminara, Salmonella Thompson, and Salmonella Senftenberg.
The government is searching through PulseNet to identify more potential patients who may be part of this outbreak. Officials are looking at the supply chain to determine where the papayas were contaminated.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and a fever. Most people get sick 6 to 72 hours after exposure to the bacteria. While most people recover without medical treatment, some do become so ill with sepsis or dehydration that they need to be hospitalized.
If you have eaten papayas and have experienced these symptoms, see your doctor as soon as your can. Even if you recover completely from this infection, salmonellosis can have lifelong consequences, including irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure, and reactive arthritis.
The noted law firm Pritzker Hageman helps people who have been sickened by contaminated food protect their legal rights and get answers and compensation. Our lawyers help patients and families of children in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against retailers, grocery stores, food processors, restaurants, and others. Attorney Fred Pritzker recently won $7.5 million for a young client whose kidneys failed because he developed hemolytic uremic syndrome after an E. coli infection. You should know that class action lawsuits may not be appropriate for outbreak victims because each individual case is different.
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Greed: Two men imprisoned from the horsemeat scandal
Source : http://www.barfblog.com/2017/08/greed-two-men-imprisoned-from-the-horsemeat-scandal/
By Robert Mancini (Aug 2, 2017)
This story is a good segue to promote my talk on food fraud at Bug Day on October 17th, 2017 in Winnipeg Manitoba. Bug Day is hosted by Health Sciences Centre in collaboration with the University of Manitoba’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Medicine Program.
Bug Day is Manitoba’s largest healthcare education event and it is held every year during National Infection Prevention & Control Week.
Lucy Pasha-Robinson of the Independent writes:
Andronicos Sideras, 55, and Ulrik Nielsen, 58, were jailed at Inner London Crown Court for four years and six months and three years and six months respectively.The pair were found guilty of a conspiracy to sell 30 tonnes of horsemeat as beef, most of which entered the food chain. Sideras, one of the owners of meat manufacturer Dinos & Sons, mixed the products together before selling the meat to other firms. Nielsen, the Danish owner of FlexiFoods, bought horsemeat and beef from suppliers across Europe and had it delivered to Dinos in Tottenham, north London.Nielsen’s “right-hand man”, Alex Beech, 44, arranged for the shipments to be transferred and handled the accounting.
Some of the horses acquired for meat were racehorses injected with who knows what posing a myriad of possible chemical food safety concerns to consumers.
The majority of the meat, including some from farm horses not sold for slaughter, made it into the food chain and, while the face value of the fraud was £177,869, police said the true cost had probably run into millions of pounds.
Prosecutor Jonathan Polnay said the scandal had led to a “crisis of confidence” in the food supply chain which hit sales and there were a “very, very large number of victims” in this case.
Letter From The Editor: Fill USDA’s top food safety posts now
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/08/letter-from-the-editor-fill-usdas-top-food-safety-posts-now/#.WYfd1YjyiUl
By DAN FLYNN (Aug 1, 2017)
UPDATED: So far, so good. Secretary Perdue has named, on a temporary basis, two USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) career employees to the top jobs. Paul Kiecker is acting FSIS administrator and Carmen Rottenberg is acting deputy undersecretary for food safety.
A couple days ago we ran Al Almanza official farewell message. He’s been the indispensable man of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service for the past decade. He’s been the big boss for about 10,000 FSIS meat, egg and poultry inspectors along with the agency’s other personnel. He stepped down as FSIS administrator after 39 years of service.
Almanza’s departure means USDA’s top two food safety jobs are vacant and must be filled. The FSIS administrator — the big boss job — is not a political appointment. The other job, USDA’s under secretary for food safety, is. The president appoints, with the confirmation of the U.S. Senate, the under secretary. It’s an important political job.
It is the top food safety job, not only at USDA, but within the larger government of the United States, when all the protocol and practical considerations are taken into account. Food safety positions a the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention get lesser titles of “deputy commissioner” and “director” and do not require Senate confirmation.
Congress elevated the top food safety job at USDA to a presidential appointment requiring Senate confirmation for good reason.
The most recent person to serve as USDA under secretary for food safety was Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, USDA’s former chief medial officer. She left the federal government more than three and half years ago.
President Obama and former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack were apparently OK with leaving the office vacant for the last three years of that administration. They did something totally different. In military terms, they gave a “dual hat” to Almanza, making him deputy under secretary for food safety while he continued to run FSIS. Hagen’s deputy, Brian Ronholm, also continued to serve.
The under secretary for food safety reports to the secretary of agriculture and is housed in the Office of Food Safety along with their own deputy or deputies. From there, the under secretary can be a change agent for FSIS.
All four who’ve served as under secretary for food safety made significant contributions. Hagen served from August 2010 to December 2013. The three previous under secretaries were Dr. Richard Raymond from July 2005 to Jan. 2009; Elsa A. Murano from Oct. 2001 to Dec. 2004; and Dr. Catherine Woteki from July 1997 to Jan. 2001.
During the past three years, when the same person was the big boss at FSIS and serving as deputy to the vacant office of the USDA’s under secretary for food safety, there really isn’t anyone playing the “change agent” or “safety valve” role.
As we’ve reported before, since the law has required the appointment of an under secretary for food safety, but the office has been vacant for almost as much time as there has been someone serving the post. The four under secretaries for food safety each served about 1,250 days.
President Bill Clinton signed the Agriculture Reorganization Act, which mandates the appointment of the USDA under secretary for food safety, on Oct. 19, 1994. That was 8,320 days ago. The four Senate-confirmed under secretaries for food safety served a total of about 5,000 days.
That means in the time since it was created, the job of USDA under secretary for food safety has been vacant for 3,320 days or just more than nine years. In other words, 40 percent of the time there has been no USDA under secretary for food safety. Half of that vacant time was logged during the Obama Administration — about four and a half years.
And it remains vacant with the clock running on the new administration’s watch. We used to think of this solely as a White House problem, but more recently we’ve come to believe that does not explain it. The current administration might not even be aware the USDA under secretary for food safety is a job awaiting presidential appointment.
But the last administration surely knew what it was doing. During three budgets years and God knows how many Farm Bill hearings, we do not recall anyone on the Hill asking why the under secretary for food safety post was going vacant. Had somebody moved a corn row, there probably would have been hearings and calls for an inspector general to investigate.
And you might ask, what’s the harm?
Well, earlier this year folks from FSIS contacted us about the big boss and deputy food safety post and how the lack of the latter has left them without a sounding board for concerns involving Almanza when they did not want to take the extraordinary step of ratcheting up an agency complaint to the level of the secretary of agriculture.
The examples we heard about did not involve food safety, but mostly personnel issues. While they won’t have Almanza to kick around anymore, they made a cleat point about the need to maintain the posts of FSIS administrator and under secretary for food safety as separate jobs to be done by different individuals.
There are busloads of politicians on the House and Senate agriculture committees, but I am not aware of even one who’s demanded the appointment of an under secretary for food safety be made with all due speed.
Hey, this time it’s only been just short of three years and eight months, with days continue to add up.
President Trump needs to appoint the next USDA under secretary for food safety so confirmation can get underway.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue needs to make the White House understand this is a priority appointment. If anyone representing establishments regulated by FSIS is lobbying for leaving the under secretary for food safety’s office vacant, Perdue needs to call them out.
Ideally, the new under secretary for food safety will be on board soon enough to participate in the new big boss selection at FSIS.
And, in as much as there is only one Al Almanza, plan to fill these two jobs with two people.
Perdue Appoints New USDA Food Safety Leaders
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/news/perdue-appoints-new-usda-food-safety-leaders/
By Staff (Aug 1, 2017)
Perdue Appoints New USDA Food Safety Leaders
Yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the appointment of two new appointments to assist with achieving the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) food safety goals.
Carmen Rottenberg will be the Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. In her role, Carmen will be responsible for the development, implementation, and enforcement of all of Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) regulations, policies, and programs. She has served a number of roles with FSIS--including Chief of Staff, Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Administrator--over the last 6 years. Carmen earned a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Hope College in Holland, MI and a law degree from American University’s Washington College of Law.
Paul Kiecker will be the Acting Administrator for the Food Safety and Inspection Service. He has been with FSIS for 29 years, starting as a food inspector in 1988. His most recent role within FSIS was as Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Field Operations. Paul’s experience and responsibilities have ranged from strategic planning, policy formulation and implementation and budget development and execution to human resource management, and day-to-day inspection operations.
Perdue says, “Ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply is our most important responsibility, and it’s one we undertake with great seriousness. Both Carmen and Paul have dedicated their careers to the mission of food safety and I am pleased to have appointed them to these important roles within the USDA. I commend the work of the entire USDA’s food safety team for painstakingly safeguarding the food we serve our families every single day."
The roles now assumed by Carmen and Paul were most recently held by Al Almanza, who just retired from USDA on Monday. Both Rottenberg and Kiecker will serve in their respective capacities until presidential nominees are confirmed by the Senate for those roles.
Case Update: Produce Targeted by Man Spraying Mouse Poison
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/case-update-produce-targeted-by-man-spraying-mouse-poison1/
By Robert A. Norton, Ph.D., and Brad Deacon (Aug 1, 2017)
Case Update: Produce Targeted by Man Spraying Mouse Poison
Last April 24, an alert employee at a Whole Foods Market in Ann Arbor, MI, noticed a young man spritz liquid from a small spray bottle onto food in the hot food bar. The man, 29-year-old Kyle Bessemer, was arrested after the media published a surveillance image showing him carrying a red shopping basket and striding past the avocados. Bessemer told police he mixed a Tomcat rodent poison with water in a bottle of hand sanitizer and, over the past two weeks, had sprayed the mixture onto open salad and food bars at several grocery stores. He was suspected of doing the same at 15 other foodservice establishments. Surveillance photos also showed Bessemer squirting liquid on avocados as he squeezed them.
In his statement to police, Bessemer said he had a history of mental illness and thought people were poisoning him, and he ultimately was found unfit to stand trial. This time, nobody got sick from the watered-down poison, but the specter of “what if?” hovers over the affair. Imagine what could have happened if Bessemer had been what we call a “thinking adversary,” one who researched and carefully planned an operation targeting vulnerable, open salad bars. It’s happened before: Back in 1984, followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh used the pathogen Salmonella to poison more than 750 residents of The Dalles, OR. They deliberately contaminated salad bars at 10 local restaurants in hopes of incapacitating voters so their candidate would win in an upcoming county election.
And what if the culprit not only knew what he was doing but was an insider, someone who knew how to avoid security cameras and pick a time when no one would see him? What if he worked in the back, prepping salad bar ingredients? An insider could get into the system, find concentration points and make sure a poisoned product was widely distributed to the public.
This could have been a very different event. Fortunately, a Whole Foods employee was not only alert but willing to speak up; store management responded immediately, contacting local police and removing all produce and salad bar items; and federal, state and local officials responded rapidly, decisively and effectively. Now, there has been enough time to look back and ponder lessons learned. The number one thing to remember is that alert employees are the most important company asset in any food defense program. Food defense plans are important, but worthless without vigilant employees willing to act decisively. Food defense has to be a team effort.
The first thing that happened is that store management immediately contacted local police and removed produce and salad bar items to a landfill rather than using the food as animal feed or compost.
Quick removal of contaminated food material is essential to prevent spread of the incident.
Removal of contaminated food material must be done in a way that does not allow the material to be a source of further contamination in animal feed or the human food chain.
At the time, limited samples were taken of the potentially contaminated food. Additional samples would have been desirable. Consultation with law enforcement officials before disposal of food material would also have been desirable.
In the future, it would be wise to segregate food that is suspected to be contamined in a location where sampling by law enforcement can be accomplished, without danger of contaminating other, safe food or introducing the contaminated food into the human or animal feed chains.
The day after the incident, local law enforcement, the FBI, HazMat, the county emergency operations center, the county public health department, the state health department and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) mounted a coordinated, multiagency response. MDARD also notified the grocery industry.
The state system worked quickly and efficiently, but may have been somewhat delayed because the incident occurred on a Sunday. A thorough after-action review is expected to assess the response time.
Incidents tend to occur at inconvenient times, including weekend and holidays. This should be considered the norm, and emergency plans should include contingencies for incidents when a minimal number of response personnel may be available, Further, it is critical that after-hours emergency contact numbers for key personnel and key agencies be readily accessible.
Emergency response plans should include contingencies for segregating potentially contaminated food materials during off hours, as well as first-run sampling of contaminated materials. States, counties and municipalities should consider identifying collection points ahead of time, where suspect food materials could be collected and initial sampling initiated. These collection points need not be a stand-alone or sole use facility, but should be secure and a location where further contamination of the human or animal food supplies can be prevented.
In the early stages, where identification of the contamination agent(s) has not occurred, it is essential that public access to the portion of the facilities and any equipment associated with the event be temporarily suspended, until which time the type of contamination be identified. Clean up in such instances should not be initiated until which time state or local HazMat does initial testing at the site, so as to ensure that radioactive materials or highly hazardous chemicals are not present.
The Michigan Public Health Laboratory screened the food suspected of contamination on April 27, three days after the incident, finding no evidence of select agents. The first multiagency call took place, and the store was notified that the risk to the public was low.
Definitive identification of potential hazard(s) takes time beyond initial screenings by HazMat. There is no good go-around for this, and therefore food industry defense plans should take into consideration these types of inevitable lag times. Interruption of the process should be anticipated and contingencies built into the plan.
On April 28, four days after the incident, the Michigan Intelligence Operation Center generated an Official Use Only Bulletin and shared it with law enforcement and the grocery industry. The bulletin proved essential in the identification of the suspect by alerting other grocery store employees. An alert employee recognized the suspect and contacted law enforcement officials.
The decision to release information to the public in future events will be dependent on the nature of the hazard(s) and the state of the investigation. Rather than establishing a hard and fast rule, it is advisable that each case be handled independently with the watchword being transparency, wherever and whenever possible.
Avoidance of panic by the public is an essential consideration in any decision.
Release of information must also be done in such a way to avoid investigatory compromise.
The Big Picture
Big picture, what can the government and the food industry gain from the “lessons learned?” Overall, the system worked well in Michigan, although there were issues that both the private sector and public sector agencies are working to address. There is always room in any plan for improvement. In fact, it is not certain that another municipality or state would have been as efficient. In all, 16 grocery stores were investigated by state officials, and the breadth of the investigation was costly. Not all jurisdictions would be able to quickly muster such resources, which could translate into the event spreading quickly and becoming even larger. Illness complaints first emerged after the public announcement. Although claims of illness ultimately proved to be unfounded or unrelated to the contamination events, the investigation nevertheless expended additional law enforcement and public health resources.
The motive to date still remains unknown, which is a troubling gap that may never be answered. There are indications mental illness may have been involved. Insight into the suspect’s motivations might give valuable clues into how the incidents evolved. Although the investigation to date has not uncovered information indicating involvement of others, that question remains open.
A particularly troubling aspect to any event like this is whether it could lead to copycat incidents. The event revealed vulnerabilities in grocery store food defense planning and operations. One of the conundrums in any incident investigation is the question of what should be exposed. Obviously, during the incident, the grocery stores that might be affected need timely information on what transpired and what to look for if similar events were to occur in their facilities. A thoroughly researched after-action report is also essential but may, in some cases, need to include redactions, particularly if proprietary information related to the affected facilities is exposed during the course of the investigation. Specific information related to the affected facility should be restricted to the owners of the facility, while more generalized lessons learned should be distributed industrywide as soon as possible.
The possibility of “thinking adversaries” must always be considered in planning for future events. A thinking adversary is one who will learn from personal mistakes or those of others. It is generally safe to say that future events will not be the same as those in the past. Frequently while planning for future events, companies find security solutions for past events. Thinking adversaries know this and will plan work-arounds to overcome new strategies and safeguards implemented in response to the last incident. Planners need to anticipate generalities, rather than specific scenarios. A security camera system placed over a salad bar might be a valid response, but its placement could also cause a thinking adversary to shift attention to some other location in the grocery store. A whole-of-property camera system could be used to “prevent” this adversarial shifting, but can such a system actually prevent an event or just detect an event once it has occurred? Security camera systems are very good to have, but are only as good as the comprehensive food defense program of which they are an essential part.
Threats evolve with the adversaries. Food defense plans must also evolve. What might have been effective in the past is not necessarily going to be effective in the future. Essential to any robust planning and operational execution is the training of personnel, who are going to be on the front lines when something occurs. They must be empowered with knowledge of what to look for in terms of suspicious activity and authority to act with the full support of the facility or corporation leadership. That being said, one threat that should not be minimized is the potential for events to be precipitated by insiders. Disgruntled employees are the most immediate problem for any corporation, food-based or otherwise. Insiders know the system and how it works, and they also know defense strategies and gaps. It is imperative to hire only thoroughly vetted individuals whose identities are definitively known, and for supervisory staff to monitor all employees’ activities and demeanor. Employees showing signs of discontent or agitation should be immediately removed from critical processes or functions, such as concentration points where large numbers of food products could be intentionally contaminated.
In terms of response improvements needed, Michigan identified first the need to take more and better samples should future events occur. When in question, always take more samples, thoroughly document their source, and let the laboratories sort out what they do or do not need to test. Geocode everything and document sample location with imagery and video.
Another important conclusion in the lessons learned is the need for government agencies to better understand industry practices. This can only be accomplished if industry and government work cooperatively, which is never easy if collaboration is impeded by agencies that have both regulatory and emergency response authority. In times of emergency response, regulatory authorities must temporarily be subservient to the needs of the response. Sensitive, incomplete and rapidly changing information is very challenging to communication, but solutions to overcome these frictions must be found to prevent exacerbation of the emergency. In addition, emergencies are no time for meetings; conference calls with appropriate authorities and direct communications with liaisons should be used to communicate, not meetings. Briefings should be just that, brief and succinct, clearly communicating the knowns and unknowns. Goals for the response, as well as for the subsequent investigation, should be set as early as feasible. The most immediate goal is to identify the nature of the threat and contain its spread and therefore its impact. The investigation will come later. The investigation should never be allowed to impede the response.
Poison egg scandal has Dutch concerned about food safety
Source : http://www.politico.eu/article/poison-egg-scandal-has-dutch-concerned-about-food-safety/
Food safety, German diesel deal and British pollution tunnels make headlines.
By CYNTHIA KROET (Aug 1, 2017)
German front pages focussed on the outcome of Wednesday’s diesel summit, where federal and regional governments agreed with car manufacturers that the industry would cut emissions by paying for software upgrades in more than 5 million cars. Die Welt and FAZ quoted Federal Minister of Transport Alexander Dobrindt from the Christian Social Union, Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, who said he saw a “a sensible basis” for the reduction of emissions.
FAZ also reported on a diplomatic row between Germany and Vietnam. The spat was sparked by claims the Vietnamese secret service kidnapped a former official of Vietnam’s Communist Party in Berlin and returned him to the Southeast Asian country. German authorities are investigating the case.
The number of French households with an income above €100,000 has increased significantly compared to last year, Les Echos reported based on data from the tax authorities. The data also showed some 6,400 people had an income of more than €1 million, accounting for € 3.7 billion in tax revenues, or 5.4 percent of total taxes collected.
Le Monde’s front page featured a story on the eurozone’s economic growth 10 years after the start of the financial crisis. Gross domestic product in euro countries grew by 0.6 percent in the second quarter of this year, according to Eurostat figures. French GDP grew by 0.5 percent over the period, Austria grew 0.8 percent and Spain 0.9. The paper quoted Thibault Mercier, a eurozone specialist at BNP Paribas: “Nobody expected such a performance a year ago, with the prospect of Brexit and the rise of populism in politics.”
The Times’ front page focussed on the construction of so-called pollution tunnels to cover motorways in a bid to protect nearby homes and improve air quality. The paper noted opponents warn the plan risks trapping emissions in an enclosed area and making air quality worse for drivers. The paper also reported on a watchdog’s warning that Whitehall’s “addiction to secrecy” was getting worse. The Advisory Council on National Records and Archives accused the government of censorship after civil servants refused to release a record number of historic sensitive documents for public access.
The Guardian reported on a coroner’s finding that a British man who fought ISIS as a volunteer died a hero when he turned his weapon on himself after being surrounded by enemy troops.
Food safety concerns were Dutch papers’ top story after news emerged that health authority NVWA failed to act swiftly after discovering contaminated eggs. Investigators found traces of a harmful agent in eggs, leading to the temporary closure of 200 poultry farms. Both AD and De Telegraaf ran stories questioning the food industry’s influence.
Australian swim star Ariarne Titmus reveals food poisoning setback before world titles
Source : http://www.barfblog.com/2017/08/australian-swim-star-ariarne-titmus-reveals-food-poisoning-setback-before-world-titles/
By Doug Powell (Aug 1, 2017)
Tasmanian teenager Ariarne Titmus has revealed her world championship swimming success came off the back of a bout of food poisoning.
The 16-year-old represented Australia at the FINA World Swimming Championships in Budapest last week, winning a bronze medal with the 4 x 200m freestyle relay team.
Her performance in Budapest also ranked her fourth in the world for the 400 metres freestyle, behind record holder Katie Ledecky.
Titmus said she contracted food poisoning just days before her world championship debut, which heightened pre-race nerves.
“I didn’t really know how I was going to race because a week out from the competition I got food poisoning and I was actually vomiting the weekend before racing started,” she told ABC Hobart.
“But I was positioned next to Katie Ledecky, which was really exciting.
Despite her 400-metre result, Titmus cited her relay performance when she reeled in a Russian competitor as the highlight.
“I definitely felt really fast, I was mowing her down and it was a really really good swim,” she said.
“It was so cool to be standing up on the dais, because the dais was looking over the whole stadium you can see everything. It was really amazing, unlike any other medal ceremony I’ve ever had before.”
The fundamental importance of chemical food safety testing
Source : https://www.newfoodmagazine.com/news/43410/chemical-food-safety-testing-covance/
By Lukas Vaclavik | Staff Scientist | Covance Food Solutions, New Food (Aug 1, 2017)
Lukas Vaclavik, Staff Scientist at Covance Food Solutions, discusses exclusively with New Food the importance of a thorough chemical food testing process.
What is the range of testing Covance normally conducts? (Is it just food safety or are you also involved in R&D as well as nutritional content etc.?)
We support our clients globally with a wide range of tests that ensure integrity of client product. This includes nutritional chemistry assays, microbiological and chemical safety testing. Covance Food Solutions also provide tailored product design services. Our chemical food safety testing solutions allow determination of both residues, which are intentionally used to protect plants and animals from pests and diseases (pesticides and veterinary drugs), and contaminants entering the food supply chain unintentionally (e.g. mycotoxins, heavy metals or persistent organic pollutants). We also offer tests that can reveal presence of adulterants. Hazardous chemicals or pathogens have detrimental impact on consumer health and regulatory compliance of the product. Economic aspects are also important. Contaminated raw materials cannot be used in food production and tainted products cannot be marketed and in most cases have to be disposed of. Last but not least, food safety or adulteration scandal may have catastrophic impact on client’s brand and business.
What are the most common techniques used in chemical food safety testing?
A number of different analytical techniques are used in chemical food safety testing. These range from bioassays, such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), to advanced state-of-the-art instrumental techniques including infrared (IR) spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) or mass spectrometry (Mass Spec). Mass Spec, especially in hyphenation with liquid or gas chromatography, is the most frequently employed tool in this endeavour, as it allows detecting low concentrations of analytes in complex matrices.
What are the main challenges you encounter when testing?
The challenges we face are inherent to our business. To help our clients ensure the safety and regulatory compliance of their products, we test a variety of samples that largely differ in complexity and range from fresh produce to concentrated botanical extracts. As a trusted third-party laboratory, we want and need to provide accurate results that are delivered and meet the time expectations of our clients.
App note: Detection of squalene and squalane origin with flash elemental analyser and delta V isotope ratio mass spectrometer
This application note assesses the chemical differences between squalane from shark liver oil and squalane from olive oil, and how the differences can detect origin and adulteration.
The above translates to a need for rapid, selective and cost effective analytical methods that utilise streamlined workflows as well as providing high-confidence quantification and identification of analytes. To match these requirements in the food contaminant and residue testing industry, advanced instrumentation, such as mass spectrometry and hyphenated techniques, need to be used. In recent years there has been increased interest among our clients in harmonisation of methods and quality systems across our laboratories. Such harmonisation ensures clients obtain comparable results at all Covance Food Solutions laboratories, which is important to our clients who are competing in an increasingly globalised market.
What are the latest technological developments that are used in chemical food safety testing?
There is a clear trend towards finding new ways to analyse as many analytes in a single run as possible. Modern workflows, based on LC/MS and GC/MS, can quantify hundreds (triple quadruple and ion trap instruments) or even over a thousand analytes (time-of-flight or orbitrap instruments) in a single run. The separation techniques coupled with high resolution mass spectrometry are increasingly employed in methods that allow simultaneous analysis of numerous multi-class residues and contaminants, such as pesticides, mycotoxins, plant toxins or adulterants. Another rapidly developing area is automation of sample preparation and other strategies that enable increased analysis throughput and reduced time between sample receipt and reporting of the results.
It was great to hear from Lukas and as ever feel free to post any comments below.
USDA Food Safety Leader Al Almanza Retires
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/news/usda-food-safety-leader-al-almanza-retires/
By Staff (Aug 1, 2017)
USDA Food Safety Leader Al Almanza Retires
In a farewell message published online last week, Al Almanza announced his retirement--effective July 31, 2017--from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). He was with the agency for 39 years, most recently serving as Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety and FSIS Administrator.
“As I look back over my ten years leading the Agency, I am proud of the accomplishments we have made together as FSIS has continually looked for ways to improve food safety and become more efficient.” says Almanza.
He states that his own career highlights (accomplished with the help of the entire FSIS team) include:
using a science-based approach to modernize the poultry slaughter inspection system
implementing the Public Health Information System
reducing listeriosis and E. coli O157:H7 illnesses from FSIS-regulated products
adding six other dangerous strains of E. coli to the zero-tolerance list
implementing performance standards for Campylobacter and Salmonella.
Almanza closes his farewell address by saying,
“It has been a pleasure partnering with all of you to protect the public’s health. I leave confident in the knowledge that, between FSIS’ dedicated employees and the dedication of our stakeholders and partner agencies, the safety of the supply of meat, poultry and egg products is in good hands. Thank you all!”
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