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08/14 2017 ISSUE:769

 

Egg Contamination Spreads Across Europe
Source : https://foodsafetytech.com/news_article/egg-contamination-spreads-across-europe/
By Food Safety Tech Staff (Aug 14, 2017)
At least 17 countries have been affected by the egg scare, which involves eggs that were tainted with a pesticide.
At least 17 countries have been hit with the European egg scandal involving insecticide contamination. Ground zero of the problem has not been definitively identified, as Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany are reportedly pointing fingers over which country is to blame and how long they knew about the problem. Dutch authorities may have known about the problem as far back as November 2016.
The eggs have been tainted with the pesticide Fipronil, doses of which are not harmful to humans engaging in short-term consumption. When consumed in large doses, it can cause damage to the kidneys, liver and thyroid glands.
Farmers in the Netherlands used a company, Chickfriend, to delouse their chickens, but this company reportedly mixed fipronil into the cleaning solution and could have contaminated nearly 180 farms in the country as a result, according to The New York Times. As many as 20% of Dutch egg-laying chickens could be affected. Chickfriend was recently raided by authorities and two of its directors were arrested. Antwerp-based Poultry-Vision stated that it provided Chickfriend with fipronil via a source in Romania, according to The Guardian.
Contaminated eggs, which have been distributed to at least 17 countries (mainly in Europe) have also been found at producers in Belgium, France and Germany, and as a result, millions of eggs have either been destroyed or removed from store shelves.

A Closer Look at Environmental Monitoring in the Processing Plant
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/augustseptember-2017/a-closer-look-at-environmental-monitoring-in-the-processing-plant/
By Bob Ferguson
A Closer Look at Environmental Monitoring in the Processing Plant
Strategic Consulting Inc. and Food Safety Magazine surveyed more than 100 food processors throughout the United States on their preparations for compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and how elements of their food safety programs may be changing as a result. In this article, we’ll present our findings on the changes reported in environmental monitoring and sanitation programs and how the analytical testing procedures that processors use may be changing. 
We asked processors about any changes they had made to their environmental monitoring (EM) programs in response to FSMA (Figure 1), in terms of both the numbers and types of samples they would be collecting and the sample analysis used on them. Processors were split in their responses, with the number of respondents saying they would be collecting more samples roughly equal to the number who said their sample volumes would remain mostly unchanged. This answer varied only somewhat by type of processor, with approximately 40 percent of fruit and vegetable processors, 45 percent of processed foods processors and 50 percent of dairy processors saying they would be taking additional samples, with the major exception being the protein sector, where all processors indicated that they would neither be making changes to their EM programs nor collecting additional samples.
Enter the FDA and Its Methodology
Knowing that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has indicated its intent to more frequently collect swab samples during inspections, we also asked processors whether they plan to specifically increase the number of EM swab samples they collect or sample more locations prior to FDA inspections. Seventy percent of respondents indicated that they have not changed their programs in response to any FDA programs. Of the 30 percent of companies that indicated that they have made changes, they reported that they will be taking more samples and in more locations, and using the samples to test for more pathogens than they had been looking for previously, with Listeria most often mentioned. Outside of surface swabs, other EM program changes reported included adding sampling and analysis for specific media, with additional sampling of process and wash water most frequently mentioned, and more staff EM training. These companies also said that they will be increasing their testing of incoming raw materials and final product as well.
Understanding that when FDA collects additional swab samples that these may be analyzed using whole-genome sequencing (WGS), we asked whether companies would also be submitting their own samples for WGS. Ninety-three percent said they would not be using WGS and that they had made no changes to the analyses they use for samples. Of the seven percent that indicated they would be using WGS, none said that their decision was specifically in response to FDA, but they indicated that WGS “is good data to have.”
“Whole-genome sequencing is a powerful tool,” said David Acheson, former FDA associate commissioner for food and current CEO of The Acheson Group, “but we understand the reluctance of some processors to develop data that can be discoverable. But it is clear that processors need to find (and the FDA is encouraging them to find) any resident strains that may be in their plant. Other diagnostics like PFGE [pulsed-field gel electrophoresis] can work, but WGS does work and it is the way the regulatory agencies are moving. But if you are repeatedly seeing the same pathogen in your plant that may be resident, and a food safety incident results, any lack of action on your part to identify and correct a resident strain due to a reluctance to use WGS will be no excuse.”
For an illustration of how this use of WGS will enhance traceability, particularly of resident strains, consider the following example offered at the Food Safety Summit in May from Dr. Robert Tauxe, director, Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tauxe cited French regulators who were working on a recurring Listeria cluster in a hospital where there were repeated outbreaks of small numbers of people getting sick. The French officials, using WGS on cultures recovered from ill patients during one of these outbreaks, were able to genotype the organism and match the source to resident organisms found in samples from a specific piece of equipment in the hospital. Once that equipment was cleaned and the source removed, they saw no more incidents.
This is a clear lesson for food processors and a model of investigations they can expect to see more often, where WGS will be used to pinpoint the exact source of contamination responsible for a food safety incident.
“The FDA is a strong believer in whole-genome sequencing as a method to identify resident organisms,” said Jenny Scott, senior adviser, FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Office of Food Safety. “It is not the only way, but we encourage facilities to use one of the analytical techniques available to identify resident strains. We will be asking our inspectors to pay attention to the environmental monitoring data at a facility but [pay] particular attention to the corrective actions taken, and in those facilities where they have an ongoing program and they are sharing the results, the results look good, they are sampling in the right areas, the facility has good CGMPs [Current Good Manufacturing Practices] in place, there may be no point for us to take any samples in a facility. Any positive findings can be mitigated by the right corrective actions. We don’t expect facilities to never find a positive—we hope they will occasionally find positives—but the focus will be on the corrective actions taken and making sure there is ultimately no problem with their product.”
Legal Considerations
Understanding that companies may be wary of developing data that may be discoverable or will have to be produced during an FDA inspection, we also asked companies whether they were considering working with an attorney in the management of their sanitation program. Ninety-one percent of the respondents replied that they have not been working with an attorney and they have no plans to change. Of the remaining nine percent who indicated that they are or do plan on working with an attorney, about half reported that they have an attorney to review their data regularly, and the other half said they will call in their attorney in case of an incident.
We talked with Shawn Stevens, a food industry lawyer from Food Industry Counsel LLC, about developing data using WGS and working with an attorney as a regular part of a sanitation program.
“Food processors need to be careful not to try to use routine solutions that worked in the past to solve these new and unique problems,” said Stevens. “The situation we are in is clearly different [from] what it has been in the past, particularly the approach of the FDA and the prospect of ‘swab-a-thons’ and the increased risk of criminal exposure. Companies need to use new, ‘nonroutine’ methods, both analytical and legal, to navigate through what has become an unmarked minefield.
“Using WGS is not absolutely necessary, but finding and eliminating niche organisms is. To the extent that genetic typing is needed in that effort, it should be used. We generally recommend a three-stage process, which consists of first finding out if you have a problem and if niche-harborage organisms are present. To do this, a company must swab and test their facility through an ‘aggressive hunt.’ Second, once and if organisms are identified, eliminate the problem through decontamination processes. Third, if the first two steps are not effective because of the likelihood that multiple genotypes are present and you need higher resolution in your analytical method to better identify and characterize the problem, then employ WGS to get that data you need, get the right characterization and identification and clean again.
“As for doing this with or without the help of an attorney, there is an argument that this work is not part of your written FSMA plan and is therefore outside the purview of the FDA. This may turn out to be the case, but this is by no means certain, and having an additional layer of protection and additional guidance in the process to avoid the errors that can increase exposure in this uncertain risk environment will help manage the risk. It may even help convince senior management to take these necessary steps, knowing the risk is better managed.”
A Look at Sanitation
We also asked processors about changes to their sanitation programs (Figure 2). Forty-one percent of the respondents said they have made changes to their sanitation programs, with roughly one-third saying the changes were “significant.” Of the remaining 59 percent who said they have not made changes, two-thirds of these respondents indicated that they believe their program is effective and does not require change. We also asked about the impact on their sanitation programs from employee turnover, the impact of retention-incentive programs and their attitudes toward outsourcing their sanitation programs; we received more details and data than we have room for in this column. Look for more details of these results of our survey in a future Food Safety Insights column.

 

 


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New Data Ranks Food Safety at America’s Baseball Stadiums
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/news/new-data-ranks-food-safety-at-americae28099s-baseball-stadiums/
By Staff
New Data Ranks Food Safety at America’s Baseball Stadiums
Are hot foods served at America’s beloved baseball stadiums safe to eat? Sports Illustrated gathered data from 28 local public inspection records (the most recent available) throughout the U.S. and Canada for Major League Baseball venues. Some of the findings are as follows:
Top 3 Venues According to Safety Records:
Safeco Field (Seattle, WA) - “Stellar condition” with just 5 total violations, 1 of them critical. A historical look at Safeco’s records show consistently acceptable food safety practices.
Fenway Park (Boston, MA) - 30 total violations, 2 of them critical. The stadium was cited for a dirty ice machine and a broken dishwasher. However, Fenway’s most recent health inspection was performed at a time when inspected stands were not actively serving food to the public.
Minute Maid Park (Houston, TX) - 28 total violations, 9 of them critical. In Houston, most of the negative marks were due to “structural deficiencies” found in the stadium itself. Also, one concession stand was reusing popcorn buckets.
Bottom 3 Venues According to Safety Records:
Tropicana Field (St. Petersburg, FL) - 241 total violations, 105 of them critical. The home of the Tampa Bay Rays was cited for a plethora of food safety hazards--live insects, ice bins with black mold growth, and employees not washing hands in between handling food and cash.
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (Oakland, CA) - 131 total violations, 63 of them critical. Health inspectors found vermin, food kept at unsafe temperatures and handwashing facilities in ill repair.
Oriole Park (Baltimore, MD) - 264 total violations, 15 of them critical. However, since inspectors looked at Oriole Park before baseball season began, violations were not related to any food items since they were not being served at the time. Issues were related to poor access to hot water for handwashing, and rodent infestations at multiple concession stands. Other food areas had expired licenses for selling food.
Public health records requests for some stadiums (Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH and Comerica Park in Detroit, MI) were not granted.
See Sports Illustrated's full report on how they tallied their data, along with their definitions for terms such as "critical" health violations.

Going Camping? Six Food Safety Tips to Keep You Well
By Linda Larsen( Aug 9, 2017)
FOodsafety.gov is offering six tips to eat safely when you’re camping. The blog post is slanted toward Latinos, since about 12% of new campers are Latino.
Outdoor cooking requires planning, especially transporting, storing, and cooking food safely. These six tips will help you pack items you’ll need while preparing food outdoors.
First, look for camping-friendly foods that are light to carry and can be safe without refrigeration. Cold foods can be brought along for the first day, but after that you will need shelf-stable foods.
Cleaning supplies are another must. Disposable wipes, biodegradable soaps, and paper towels or clean towels are necessary. If there isn’t a source of clean running water where you are planning your campout, you should boil lake or river water or use sanitizing tablets for hand and dishwashing.
Cooking gear should be planned for food safety. You’ll need separate knives for raw meats and other foods, separate cutting boards for raw meats and foods eaten without cooking, separate containers for raw and cooked foods to avoid cross-contamination, and a food thermometer.
That food thermometer is necessary whenever you are cooking meat or poultry products.A reliable food thermometer is the only way to tell whether or not the food you are preparing is safe to eat. Color is not a reliable indicator of doneness. Bring along a list of safe internal final cooking temperatures on your phone.
A cooler is necessary for all perishable foods. Always use frozen clean, water-filled carton or gel packs to keep food below 40°F. Raw meats should be packed below ready-to-eat foods to prevent cross-contamination. Also double wrap raw meat and poultry to prevent leaking juices.
Pack foods in the reverse order you plan to eat them. The first foods packed should be the last foods used.
And pack a separate cooler for beverages and food. Every time the cooler is opened, the time food stays safe will decrease.
Plan on bringing bottled water for drinking. Water in lakes and streams is not safe to drink even if it looks crystal clear. If you can’t carry enough bottled water, bring purification tablets (NOT sanitizing tablets used for hand washing water), and water filters.
Enjoy your camping adventure with these tips. And stay safe.

Salmonella Kiambu and Thompson Outbreak Linked to Papayas
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/salmonella-kiambu-and-thompson-outbreak-linked-to-papayas/
By News Desk (Aug 9, 2017)
The CDC has updated its investigation into the Salmonella outbreak linked to imported Maradol papayas. Now, the investigation, which was originally focused on Salmonella Kiambu infections, has been expanded to include Salmonella Thompson infections.
The case count still stands at 109 people sick. Forty-eight people are sick with Salmonella Kiambu infections, and 61 people are sick with Salmonella Thompson infections. Those patients live in 16 states across the country. Thirty-five patients have been hospitalized, and one death was reported from New York City. Illnesses began in May 2017 and continue.
All evidence, including epidemiologic and laboratory, indicate that Maradol papayas imported from Mexico “are the likely source of this multistate outbreak.” Caribbean, Cavi, and Valery brand papayas from Mexico have been identified as brands linked to this outbreak and have all been recalled.
The FDA has identified Maradol papayas from the Carica de Campeche papaya farm in Mexico as a likely source of this outbreak. FDA is working to identify other brands that may have originated from this farm.
The CDC recommends that consumers do not eat, restaurants do not serve, and retailers not sell all brands of Maradol papayas from Mexico until the investigation is further along. If you aren’t sure whether or not papayas you have purchased are Maradol papayas, ask your retailer.
If you did purchase Maradol papayas, do not eat them. Throw them away in a sealed bag, or take them back to the place of purchase for a refund. Wash your hands well after handling these fruits. And wash and sanitize countertops and drawers and shelves in the refrigerator where you stored the papayas.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include abdominal cramps and pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. People usually become ill 6 to 72 hours after ingesting food or drink contaminated with the pathogenic bacteria. Most people recover without medical treatment, but some do develop sepsis (a blood infection) or dehydration and need to be hospitalized.

FDA ends Hampton Creek query; gives GRAS status to protein
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/08/fda-ends-hampton-creek-query-gives-gras-status-to-protein/#.WZPo8VFJaUl
By CORAL BEACH (Aug 9, 2017)
Target still not ready to put Just Mayo, other Hampton Creek products back on shelves
With an FDA query behind it and the launch of “Just Scramble” ahead of it, Hampton Creek Inc. is seeking to mend fences with Target, which pulled all 20 “Just” food products from its shelves in June after reportedly receiving letters about food safety issues.
“More than a month ago, Target was led to believe that several of our products were mislabeled or unsafe. We’ve remained confident that our products were safe and properly labeled, and that when presented with the facts, the FDA would agree,” according to a statement Monday from the San Francisco-based Hampton Creek.
“As expected, they have. They informed us, after reviewing applicable evidence, that the matter is closed. We’ve reached out to Target to determine the steps needed to get back on shelves and restore our partnership.”
A spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration confirmed on Tuesday that the agency had closed the matter.
“The FDA has no further questions for the company on this issue and considers this closed,” FDA communications officer Sylvia Ballinger told Food Safety News.
As with its comment on June 23 when it pulled Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo and other Just branded products ranging from cookie dough to salad dressings, Target offered little comment regarding the news from FDA.
“Hampton Creek products remain under review at Target,” Target Senior Public Relations Manager Jenna Reck told Food Safety News on Monday. “As a matter of policy, Target doesn’t comment on discussions with our vendors and has no update to share at this time.”
When the retailer unexplainably reset all of its cash registers to prohibit sales of Hampton Creek products in late June, Target’s official comment did not reference food safety or any other motivation.
“Pending a full review, Target started a market withdrawal of Hampton Creek products, which are being removed from Target stores and target.com,” said the retailer’s official statement on June 23.
Bloomberg news, which received copies of letters sent to Target and at least one other retailer, reported at the time that a variety of food safety concerns were cited.
Hampton Creek flatly denied any food safety problems in a written statement on June 23:
“The allegations that our products are mislabeled and unsafe are false. The Sweet Mustard product complies with all FDA labeling requirements. Our Non-GMO product claims are supported by ingredient supplier documentation. We are confident that our Non-GMO products are properly labeled. We have robust food safety standards, and as such, we remain confident about the safety of all products we sell and distribute. We look forward to working with Target and the FDA to bring this to a quick resolution.”
That resolution, at least as far as the FDA is concerned, appears to have been reached.
Moving forward with Just Scramble
As of Tuesday, Hampton Creek reached a major milestone in a plan to introduce another Just branded product that replaces animal proteins with plant proteins. Dubbed Just Scramble, the egg substitute is built on a mung bean protein isolate.
“Hampton Creek has just been notified by the FDA that our submission for mung bean protein isolate nicknamed ‘Jack’ has been met with a ‘No Questions’ letter from the agency, meaning there are no concerns around safety and it is ‘Generally Regarded as Safe’ (GRAS),” said Hampton Creek Communications Director Andrew Noyes.
“Jack, which our research and culinary teams also refer to as ‘magic bean,’ has been in the food system for thousands of years and it’s the base ingredient for our forthcoming Just Scramble product, an egg substitute that contains 20 percent more protein than a chicken egg with zero cholesterol.”
Noyes said the mung bean protein isolate can also be used to make a range of other products, such as ice cream and butter substitutes. He said Hampton Creek may produce some of those products and license others to other food manufacturers.
Hampton Creek officials expect the FDA’s “no questions” letter to be posted for public view by the end of September, Noyes said. To read the Hampton Creek submission to FDA, click here.

CDC Warns About Cyclospora Outbreak; 206 Are Ill
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/cdc-warns-about-cyclospora-outbreak-206-are-ill/
By Linda Larsen (Aug 9, 2017)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA are investigating an increase in cyclosporiasis cases. They want to warn public health departments and healthcare facilities about this problem.
There is an ongoing Cyclospora outbreak right now in Texas, with at least 197 people sick. And as of August 2, 2017, the CDC states that 206 people in 27 states are sick with cyclosporiasis infections. Those patients got sick on or after May 1, 2017. Eighteen people have been hospitalized because their illnesses are so severe. No deaths have been reported.
The CDC has not yet provided a case count map or identified the states where people are sick. No specific food has been identified as possible sources, and officials are working to identify the source. Officials also do not know if these cases are related to each other and the same food items or are caused by several different foods or by other exposure, such as swimming.
This 2017 outbreak is higher than illnesses reported in 2016. As of August 3, 2016, 88 people were sick with cyclosporiasis in the United States. The FDA had increased import inspections and issued more import alerts last year, which may have contributed to the decrease in 2016.
Healthcare providers should now consider a diagnosis of cyclosporiasis in patients with prolonged or remitting-relapsing diarrheal illness. Testing for this parasite is not routinely done in most U.S. laboratories, even when stool samples are tested for parasites. A doctor must specifically order testing for Cyclospora by molecular methods or gastrointestinal pathogen panel test. And since cyclosporiasis is a notifiable disease, doctors must report suspect and confirmed cases to the government.
Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis. Most people ingest this parasite by eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with the parasite. This illness is not transmitted person-to-person.
The symptoms of Cyclospora food poisoning include watery diarrhea, which can be profuse and explosive, along with loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting and low grade fever. These symptoms usually begin 2 days to 2 weeks after ingesting the parasite. If not treated, the illness can last for months with relapsing diarrhea.
This parasite is found in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Other outbreaks have been linked to basil, cilantro, raspberries, snow peas, and mesclun lettuce. No frozen or canned produce has been implicated in these outbreaks. These outbreaks usually occur during May through August or September.
If you have been experiencing the symptoms of cyclosporiasis, see your doctor. Treatment is usually with trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMX). No effective alternative treatments have been found for patients who are allergic to or cannot tolerate TMP/SMX, so they must be monitored and given palliative care.
Pritzker Hageman, America’s food safety law firm, successfully helps and represents people hurt by adulterated foods in outbreaks throughout the United States. Its lawyers have won hundreds of millions of dollars for foodborne illness patients and their families, including the largest verdict in American history for a person harmed by E. coli and hemolytic uremic syndrome. You can report an illness to our firm. The firm also publishes the E-news site, Food Poisoning Bulletin, a respected Google News source for food safety news and information.  Pritzker Hageman lawyers are often interviewed as experts on the topic by major news outlets including the New York Times, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal. In addition, the firm represents people harmed by pathogenic microorganisms in Legionnaires‘ disease, surgical site infections, and product liability cases.

Food safety scandal erupts in Europe over eggs contaminated with insecticide
Source : http://www.scmp.com/news/world/europe/article/2105848/eggs-contaminated-insecticide-scandal-erupts-europe
By scmp.com (Aug 08, 2017)
Britain and France said on Monday that some insecticide-tainted eggs may have entered the country, as millions of chickens faced being culled in the Netherlands in a growing European contamination scandal.
Belgium meanwhile vowed full transparency about why it kept the scandal secret despite originally learning in June about the problem involving fipronil, a substance potentially dangerous to humans.
Supermarkets in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium have pulled millions of eggs from the shelves since Belgium gave the European Commission the first notification on July 20, while retailers in Sweden and Switzerland have followed suit.
The European Commission said on Monday that under its EU rapid alert system it had been determined that eggs under suspicion of contamination had also been distributed to France and Britain via Germany.
“It’s now up to the Swedish, Swiss, French and to the UK to check because all these eggs are traceable and trackable,” European Commission spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen told reporters.
Britain’s Food Standards Agency said it was “urgently investigating the distribution of these eggs in the UK” from farms at the centre of the scare, while adding that “the number of eggs involved is very small and the risk to public health is very low”.
It did not give a number but said it represented 0.0001 per cent of eggs annually imported into Britain.
“We are working closely with the businesses that have received eggs from affected farms. Investigations to date indicate that any affected products are no longer on the shelves,” it said.
The French government said thirteen batches of Dutch eggs contaminated with fipronil have been found at two food-processing factories in central-western France.
The agriculture ministry said they were unable to immediately say whether any of the products had been shipped to customers.
There can be no compromise on food safety
It is believed the toxic substance was introduced to poultry farms by a Dutch business named Chickfriend brought in to treat red lice, a parasite in chickens.
Dutch and Belgian media reports that the substance containing the insecticide was supplied to Chickfriend by a Belgian firm have not been confirmed.
Dutch farming organisation LTO said that several million hens may need to be culled at 150 companies in the country, with 300,000 having already been killed.
An LTO spokesman said they “had to be eliminated because of contamination”.
Dutch authorities have closed down 138 poultry farms, about a fifth of those across the country, and warned that eggs from another 59 farms contained high enough levels of fipronil that they should not be eaten by children.
Belgium currently has production blocked from 51 farms, a quarter of those nationwide, with fipronil found at 21 farms, although levels were 10 times below the maximum EU limit, the country’s food safety authority AFSCA said.
Belgium’s agriculture minister meanwhile said he had ordered the agency to report by Tuesday on why it failed to notify neighbouring countries until July 20 despite knowing about fipronil contamination since June.
Denis Ducarme said in a statement he had told (AFSCA) to produce a “report on the circumstances of the agency’s actions since the first information it received about the fipronil problem”
Facing pressure from Germany and the Netherlands, Ducarme promised “complete transparency”.
He said he would speak by telephone with his counterparts in the coming days.
Belgian officials admitted on Saturday they had kept the problem under wraps and failed to trigger the EU’s international food safety alert system, but said it was because of a fraud investigation.
Germany has demanded an explanation from Belgium about why the issue was kept covered up.
Fipronil is commonly used in veterinary products to get rid of fleas, lice and ticks. But it is banned from being used to treat animals destined for human consumption, such as chickens.
The substance is absorbed into the skin or feathers of chickens and then passes into the eggs.
In large quantities, the insecticide is considered to be “moderately hazardous” according to the World Health Organisation, and can have dangerous effects on people’s kidneys, liver and thyroid glands.

DeCosters make Top 10 list of cases justices should have heard
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/08/decosters-make-top-10-list-of-cases-justices-should-have-heard/#.WZPpaFFJaUl
By NEWS DESK (Aug 7, 2017)
It won’t get either of the DeCosters a better place in the lunch line or relief from working a shift in the laundry, but their case has made the “Top Ten” of October-term certiorari petitions the Supreme Court should have granted.
The annual list by the 40-year-old Washington Legal Foundation (WLF), which advocates for “a sound free market economy, a reasonable legal system, competent and accountable government and a strong national defense,” showed a tie for the No. 10 spot between DeCoster v. United States and the similar case of Farha V. United States.
Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son Peter DeCoster contend their three-month sentences for their role in a 2010 Salmonella outbreak are out of line. In that outbreak, there were 1,939 lab-confirmed victims, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated as many as 56,000 people were sickened in the outbreak traced to the DeCosters’ eggs.
“Jack and Peter DeCoster and Todd Farha sit in federal prison because the Supreme Court refused to hear these important cases dealing with the proof required to convict a criminal defendant,” WLF’s Mark Chenoweth wrote.
“The Eighth Circuit approved a conviction of the DeCosters (for shipment of adulterated eggs) under the Park doctrine, which tolerates personal criminal liability based on a defendant’s mere position in a company regardless of his knowledge or participation in the actual violation.
“The Eleventh Circuit approved a conviction of Mr.Farha despite a jury instruction that permitted a finding of deliberate indifference to satisfy proof of knowledge under the federal healthcare-fraud statute, which requires ‘knowingly and willfully execut[ing] a fraud,’ ” according to Chenoweth’s Top 10 list.
“The Due Process Clause prohibits imposing terms of imprisonment for responsible corporate office, and the court should overrule United States v. Park at this next opportunity — or at a minimum clarify that (responsible corporate office) convictions are ineligible for jail time. Likewise, the court must rein in courts of appeals that invest upon watering down statutory mens rea.”
Since the Supreme Court denied their petitions for certiorari, Peter DeCoster, 54, and Farha, 49, have been incarcerated. DeCoster is scheduled to be released from the Federal Medical Center at Rochester, MN, on Oct. 23. Farha is scheduled to be freed from the minimum security federal prison camp at Montgomery, AL, on Oct. 17, 2018.
Austin “Jack’ DeCoster, 82, is being allow to remain free until his son Peter is released. He is then under court order to surrender and serve his 90-day sentence.
At the time of their original sentencing, the DeCosters asked not to serve their sentences at the same time in the interest of continuity for their continuing business endeavors. The trial judge granted their request.
After a federal investigation of the 2010 nationwide Salmonella outbreak that was traced to egg production facilities owned by the DeCoster family’s company Quality Egg LLC, attorneys for the egg men worked out a plea agreement requiring a total payment of $7 million in individual and corporate fines. Individually they each paid about $100,000.
However, the federal Judge Mark W. Bennett in Sioux City, also imposed jail sentences of three months for both of the DeCosters. They paid the $7 million in fines, but appealed the jail sentences to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals where they lost 2-1, and to the Supreme Court, which denied their petition for review on May 22.

17 months later — State hopes to complete outbreak report
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/08/17-months-later-state-hopes-to-complete-outbreak-report/#.WZPppFFJaUn
By CORAL BEACH (Aug 7, 2017)
Virginia did not alert general public to E. coli outbreak traced to raw milk in March 2016
Even though the state has standing warnings about the risk of infections from bacteria in raw milk, Virginia officials did not alert the general public to an E. coli outbreak in March 2016 that sickened at least 14 people — a dozen of them children.
This week, 17 months after the outbreak, public health officials expect to complete their report on the incident, according to a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Health. The implicated milk was from Golden Valley Guernseys dairy, which sent a letter to members of its herd-share operation alerting them to the illnesses at the time.
Of the 14 confirmed E. coli victims, half had symptoms so severe that they required hospitalization. Three developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can lead to life-threatening kidney failure and often necessitates transplants.
The state health department’s Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District office did not make a public announcement about the outbreak at the time because the general public did not have access to the milk, District Director Dr. Wade Kartchner told Food Safety News.
“Consideration was given to putting out a broad public notice, but the nature of the herd-share programs are such that we were confident that we would be able to effectively reach those who were truly at risk of illness,” Kartchner said. “… it is not quite the same situation as a restaurant outbreak where the public at large may be exposed.”
In Virginia, only people who own a share of a dairy cow or herd can legally receive unpasteurized milk. Retail sales of unpasteurized milk are prohibited in the state. Federal prohibits the interstate transportation and sale of unpasteurized, or so-called raw milk, because of the dangers of pathogens.
Although herd-share laws allow people access to raw milk in Virginia, the state’s health department joins other state and federal agencies in strongly warning against the consumption of raw milk or other unpasteurized dairy products.
Similar to long-standing warnings from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Virginia Department of Health specifically urges people to avoid serving raw milk to children.
“Realize that the risk of drinking raw milk far outweighs any reward you could obtain from consuming it. There are a plethora of bacteria that could cause harm to you and your family, including: Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella, or Listeria,” according to the Virginia health department website.
“Young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems have a greater chance of getting ill from drinking raw milk. This doesn’t mean that anyone else is any less susceptible to the dangers of raw milk, but it certainly means to steer clear of serving it to your children.”
The dangers of raw milk range from gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps to more serious problems including kidney failure, chronic illnesses, paralysis and possibly death, according to the Virginia health department.
The department also addresses a common misconception about certain dairy cows being safer than others.
“Even the healthiest, grass-fed, ‘organic’ cows can carry disease and bacteria without ever knowing it from their appearance. The best of sanitary conditions cannot provide assurance that (unpasteurized) milk is free of contaminates,” according to the state health department website.

 

 

 

 

 

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