FoodHACCP Newsletter



Food Safety Job Openings

09/01. Quality Control Manager – Avenal, NJ
09/01. HACCP Coordinator – Momence, IL
09/01. Food Safety/QC Compliance Officer - Beatrice, NE
08/30. Senior Quality Mgr Flavors/Food – Clark, NJ
08/30. R&D Principal Scientist - Purchase, NY
08/30. Food Safety Specialist - Lake Success, NY
08/28. Food Safety Microbiologist – N. Canton, OH
08/28. Food Safety & Qual Assoc – Orange County, CA
08/28. Food Safety Administrator – Vina, CA

 

09/04 2017 ISSUE:772

 

Hepatitis A found in freshcut pineapple in British Columbia
By CORAL BEACH (Sep 3, 2017)
Consumers urged to seek post-exposure vaccine ASAP if they ate Western Family pineapple chunks
Anyone who has eaten Western Family brand freshcut pineapple in British Columbia recently is at risk of developing Hepatitis A and has an extremely limited amount of time to take the post-exposure vaccination for the virus.
Complicating the situation is the fact that Canadian public health officials believe other products are affected, but they had not been identified for the public as of Saturday evening. No illnesses had been confirmed as of Friday.
The British Columbia Center for Disease Control reported that the Hepatitis A virus had been detected in a sample of Western Family fresh pineapple chunks. The agency did not indicate whether the sampling had been done by government or industry.
The implicated freshcut pineapple chunks were sold in single-serve, clear plastic cups at grocery stores in British Columbia, according to a public alert from the BC Center for Disease Control (BCCDC).
 “Current information indicates the cups were produced on Aug. 11 and distributed to 38 Save-On-Foods, Overwaitea Foods and PriceSmart Foods stores in BC,” according to the alert.
“The fruit cups may have been on sale from Aug. 11 and have a best-before date of Aug. 19.”
There is concern that consumers may still have the product in their home freezers. Anyone who has the implicated Western Family fresh pineapple chunks in their homes should immediately discard it in a sealed bag. Refrigerators, containers and other items that came into contact with the pineapple should be cleaned and sanitized.
Hepatitis A infection is caused by a virus that affects the liver. The virus is found in the stool of a infected people. Some people who are infected do not develop symptoms of infection.
The virus is spread when a person eats food or drinks something that has come in contact with infected stool. Very small amounts of the microscopic virus, which cannot be seen or otherwise detected without laboratory equipment, can result in infection.
Infected food handlers can pass the virus on to other people if they do not wash their hands with soap and water after using the bathroom.
Limited time to seek vaccination
Most children are routinely vaccinated for Hepatitis A, but many adults have not received the vaccine because it was not available when they were children.
There is a post-exposure vaccine available, but it must be given within 14 days of exposure to the virus.
“If you consumed this product on Aug. 18 or later you should receive a dose of Hepatitis A vaccine,” according to the public health alert. “If you develop symptoms of Hepatitis A, contact your family doctor and local health unit office immediately.”
Also, anyone who has eaten Western Family brand fresh pineapple chunks and developed symptoms of Hepatitis A infection should immediately seek medical attention.
It can take 15 to 50 days for the symptoms to develop, so people who are not ill but ate the implicated pineapple should monitor themselves for symptoms during the coming weeks.
Symptoms can include yellow skin or eyes, loss of appetite, fever, tiredness, stomach ache, nausea, dark colored urine, and light or whitish colored bowel movements.
Sometimes the symptoms can be so mild that a person may not be aware that they have the disease. Illness can last for several weeks, but people generally recover completely. However, for the elderly or those with chronic liver disease the infection can be life threatening.
Free vaccinations available
For information about free Hepatitis A vaccine if you consumed the product within the past 14 days, check with one of the following health authorities:
Fraser Health: http://www.fraserhealth.ca/hepAclinics
Interior Health: https://www.interiorhealth.ca/pages/default.aspx
Island Health: http://www.viha.ca/about_viha/news/news_releases/NR_HepatitisA_westernfamily_pineapple_1sept2017
Northern Health: https://www.northernhealth.ca/YourHealth/HealthAlerts/CommunicableIllnessDisease.aspx
Vancouver Coastal Health: http://www.vch.ca/about-us/news/Hep-A
A free Hepatitis A vaccine may also be offered at Overwaitea banner stores including Save-On-Foods, PriceSmart Foods, Overwaitea Foods and Urban Fare. Contact the pharmacist at any of these stores for more information.

Update to food safety laws in Anchorage, Alaska
Source : http://www.barfblog.com/2017/08/update-to-food-safety-laws-in-anchorage-alaska/
By Robert Mancini (Aug 31, 2017)
Anchorage, Alaska to impose new updates to food safety laws including no bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods for bartenders that handle sliced lemons and other like garnishes. Studies have shown that the rind and even the flesh of lemon slices harbor a plethora of microorganisms, either from the environment or the food handler. However, the true impact on public health has not been evaluated and there has been resistance from industry on the new proposed update.
Devin Kelly of Dispatch News writes
Anchorage bartenders and waiters may have to start using gloves or utensils to make mixed drinks with lemons, limes, olives or other garnishments if city health officials move forward with a recently unveiled update to local food safety laws.
Other proposed food safety law revisions, released last week, relate to wild game meat donations, wild mushrooms and the city’s growing cottage food industry. Health officials say Anchorage is trying to come more in line with state and federal regulations aimed at preventing foodborne illnesses.
This would be the most substantive update to the city’s food safety laws since 2010. Among the key changes:
* Elimination of an Anchorage law that allows bare-hand contact in bars and restaurants when it comes to garnishing beverages. Right now, Anchorage bartenders are exempt from state laws that require gloves or utensils to handle any kind of food that’s considered ready to eat.
* New regulations would exist for the sale in Anchorage of cottage food, or homespun, non-temperature-controlled products like bread, cookies, jams, pickles and relishes that weren’t acknowledged anywhere in city law until earlier this year. Officials say the changes reflect the booming popularity of farmers markets in the state. The revised update would create new licensing requirements, such as an Anchorage food worker card and recipe submissions.
* Freshly caught fish could be cooked at 125 degrees, about 20 degrees below the temperature recommended by federal authorities. Members of the Anchorage restaurant industry requested the change, hoping to cook more tender, flaky fish, according to DeAnn Fetko, deputy director of the Anchorage Department of Health and Human Services.
* Wild mushrooms would no longer need to be reviewed by a certified specialist, a rule that hasn’t been enforced because of the scarcity of those specialists, officials said. The state certifies mushroom producers, and Anchorage restaurants will be required to indicate on a menu that wild mushrooms are “not an inspected product.”
* Wild game meat could be donated to food banks and cultural programs, an old local law that officials say was inadvertently left out of the 2010 update.
* Businesses would be required to clean and maintain “grease interceptors,” or grease traps, at least every 30 days, and keep the records to show inspectors.
The rest of the story can be found here:
https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/anchorage/2017/08/29/gloves-for-bartenders-anchorage-proposes-updates-to-local-food-safety-laws/

Studio seeks recipe for food safety
Source : https://www.innovatorsmag.com/studio-seeks-recipe-for-food-safety/
By Staff reporter (Aug 31,2017)
A pioneering new facility opened in America is going to bring together scientists and manufacturers to advance food safety.
The food safety studio in Bellevue, Washington, is an initiative led by MilliporeSigma, one of the US arms of Merck KGaA, the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company.
“The opening of MilliporeSigma’s Food Safety Studio demonstrates our commitment to ensuring the safety of the global food supply,” said Jean-Charles Wirth, Head of the Applied Solutions business unit at MilliporeSigma. “With this investment, we are bringing teams together in a workspace designed to foster open innovation and collaboration with the goal of becoming the leader in food safety testing.”
Technology developed at the studio will be designed to quickly detect food borne pathogens. In America around 48 million people are hit with food borne illness annually, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and this new collaboration space will work to tackle it.
Technology and cross-sectoral partnerships are redefining the parameters of what is possible when it comes to improving food safety. This month, for example, we reported a new alliance between major names in the global food industry and IBM, which is using blockchain technologies to boost product safety.

 

 

 


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(LEAD) S. Korea to improve livestock breeding to secure food safety
Source : http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/business/2017/08/30/0501000000AEN20170830011251320.html
By yonhapnews.co.kr (Aug 30, 2017)
South Korea will expand free range livestock husbandry in raising chickens as a way to improve food safety following the recent pesticide egg scandal that rocked the nation, the agriculture ministry said Wednesday.
At the policy briefing held before President Moon Jae-in in Sejong, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said it will introduce mandatory "pasture-raised" poultry farms from 2018 to improve the hygiene and safety of birds being raised.
It will give financial incentives to livestock farmers who remove confinements and cages and keep their animals outdoors.
The ministry will also introduce a new nationwide system to trace the entire history of egg circulation and sales in 2019 and tighten quarantine procedures on poultry products.
The measures came as the country has been rocked by a food scare after eggs from dozens of poultry farms were contaminated with insecticides, including fipronil and bifenthrin. Such toxic chemicals are banned from being used on chickens in South Korea as they could possibly harm human organs when ingested.
Some of them were found out to be tainted with dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT), a poisonous pesticide that was banned nearly 40 years go.
The tainted-egg fiasco broke at a time when the country is already suffering from rising egg prices due to a significant reduction in supply caused by the recent outbreak of avian influenza here and the subsequent massive culling of egg-laying chickens.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said it will establish a joint system with Beijing to strengthen the crackdown on illegal Chinese fishing by the end of this year.
The revisions will help the two sides share information on boats that trespass the maritime boarder and fish illegally.
The issue of unauthorized fishing has been a source of diplomatic tension between Seoul and Beijing as the South Korean Coast Guard has been intensifying the use of firearms against Chinese fishermen who violently resist maritime inspection and arrest.

Federal court upholds Seafood Traceability Rule; targets fraud
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/08/federal-court-upholds-seafood-traceability-rule-targets-fraud/#.Way0yMhJaUl
By DAN FLYNN (Aug 30, 2017)
Big business, lobbyists say it's too costly to make sure the fish they sell is what the labels say it is
A new federal plan to combat seafood fraud by requiring the fishing industry to trace their catches from boat or farm to the U.S. border has survived a court challenge.
The Seafood Traceability Rule surfaced during President Barack Obama’s final days in office and is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2018. For the first time, it requires seafood importers of species like tuna, grouper, swordfish, red snapper and blue crab to track fish entering the U.S. by species and origin.
The rule is the American government’s response largely to the international advocacy group Oceana’s evidence showing fish sold on restaurant menus and in retail stores are often identified as one species on labels and menus when they are actually a less expensive or inferior species.
The National Fisheries Institute and eight individual seafood companies, however,brought a lawsuit in January to prevent the rule from taking effect.

Imports account for 90 percent of the fish Americans consume each year — ocean products worth about $10 billion a year. Tracking it all can be complicated. U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta, who heard the case, understands that.
He wrote that “the vast majority of seafood consumed each year in the United States either originates from the waters far from home or is caught locally but passes through a foreign processing and distribution chain.”
 “Take, for example, a catch of king crab harvested off the coast of Alaska,” the judge wrote. “That crab may be sent from Alaska to South Korea or China for processing and packaging. The packaged crab meat, in turn, is exported from Asia across the Pacific to the United States, to be combined with other ingredients into a crab cake, eaten by someone with little appreciation for the peripatetic journey that produced her meal…”
Mehta, himself born in India, says the “catch-to-table distribution chain, however, is rife with vulnerabilities.”
“It is well documented that, at each stage, opportunities seek to game the system, largely by circumventing laws or norms that regulate the manner in which the world seafood market operate,” he said. “Such activities — known as ‘illegal, unreported, and unregulated’ (IUU) fishing and ‘seafood fraud’ — have had profound global and domestic economic and non-economic consequences.”
The judge, appointed by Obama, ruled against the fishing industry.
“In the end, the rule weathers the storm of plaintiffs’ various challenges,” he said in his ruling. However, he first asked President Donald J. Trump’s Secretary of Commerce, banker Wilbur Ross, to sign on to the rule, and he did.
Until Ross came on board for Seafood Traceability, the “muddled” administrative record left some saying the rule was a last-minute maneuver of the Obama Administration.
“In the court’s view, Secretary Ross’ under-oath ratification of the rule cures any potential Appointments Clause promulgation,” Mehta wrote in his 67-page ruling, upholding the program.
The U.S.-based seafood importers, processors, and harvesters tried other arguments, such as claiming the Food and Drug Administration has exclusive jurisdiction over the industry. The judge did not see it that way.
He found the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Managment Act (MSA) gives the Department of Commerce all the power it needs to implement the rule.
Fish importers are also concerned about the financial cost of compliance. The department’s estimate for the first year’s cost to the industry ranges from $60,000 to $7.85 million and just more than  $6 million annually after that. There’s an “upper-bound” cost estimate of $20.3 million in the first year and $18.5 million for each year following.
Mehta said the industry cost of compliance — even at the “upper-bound” levels “remained only a fraction, less than one-half of one percent, of the $9 billion value of U.S. seafood imports.” Also,the record keeping burden would not pose a significant adverse impact on small businesses, according to his ruling.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing costs $10 billion to $23.5 billion worldwide with legitimate fishermen being among those who suffer the losses because IUU fish undercut their prices. Seafood fraud is misleading consumers about the type or origin of seafood to charge more than the actual market value

Campylobacter Outbreak Associated with Cafe Juanita in Washington State
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/campylobacter-outbreak-associated-with-cafe-juanita-in-washington-state/
By News Desk (Aug 30, 2017)
A Campylobacter outbreak that has sickened two people is associated with Cafe Juanita in Kirkland, Washington state. A single meal was consumed by a party there on June 24, 2017.
On July 24, Public Health King County learned about two ill persons during an interview with one of them who had been diagnosed with this type of food poisoning. King County did not confirm the second illness until August 16, 2017. No other ill persons have been identified.
The patients shared many food items, including foie gras. This food has been linked to other Campylobacter outbreaks in the past, especially when it is eaten raw or undercooked.
Public Health’s Environmental Health Inspectors visited the restaurant on August 17, 2017. During the field inspection, officials saw the cooking process and checked the final cooking temperature of the foie gras. The food did reach a safe temperature during the inspection, but workers had not been using a food thermometer. They were told to use a food thermometer to make sure that all foods are reaching a safe temperature to kill any pathogenic bacteria that may be in the product.
The symptoms of a Campylobacter infection include diarrhea that may be bloody, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and fever. These symptoms usually appear within 1 to 10 days after ingesting the pathogenic bacteria. Most people are sick for about a week. Some people do not have any symptoms at all.
Campylobacter can cause complications such as sepsis, which is a potentially life-threatening bloodstream infection, and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Guillain-Barre syndrome damages nerves throughout the body and can cause muscle weakness and permanent paralysis.
Most of these outbreaks are linked to the consumption of undercooked meat, especially poultry, or ready to eat foods that are contaminated with juices from raw meat. Person-to-person transmission is rare. Large outbreaks of this illness are usually linked to consumption of unpasteurized or raw milk, cheese, and contaminated water.
To avoid this infection, make sure you cook all poultry products thoroughly, to a final internal temperature of 165°F, tested with a reliable food thermometer. If you order any poultry product from a restaurant and see that it is undercooked, send it back. Always wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food, handling raw animal products, and before eating. Do not drink unpasteurized milk, eat unpasteurized dairy products, or drink untreated surface water. And prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen, especially between raw meats and poultry and foods that are eaten raw.

Papaya pathogen problems persist
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/08/papaya-pathogen-problems-persist/#.Way1NMhJaUl
By PHYLLIS ENTIS (Aug 29, 2017)
Little appears to have changed since 2011 outbreak, despite efforts of U.S., Mexican governments
Salmonella — the pathogen behind an ongoing foodborne illness outbreak that has sickened 173 people across 21 states, killing one — is a normal inhabitant of the intestinal tract of many birds, reptiles and mammals.
The possibility that an agricultural product such as papayas may be contaminated with Salmonella is impossible to eradicate; however, the risk of widespread contamination can be controlled through careful attention to current best sanitary practices in the cultivation, harvesting and packing of raw produce. Failure to do so can result in a vicious cycle of contamination in fields, packing houses and the distribution system.
Cultivation, harvesting and packing
The papaya is a fast-growing, tree-like herbaceous plant, which is at home in tropical and semi-tropical climates and is cultivated extensively across southeastern Mexico, according to a report issued by the University of Florida IFAS Extension Service. The most recent report from Mexico’s Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación (Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food) shows Mexico to be the fifth largest producer of papayas in the world.
The papaya plant is propagated from seeds, with seedlings transplanted into fields when they are of sufficient size. The plant matures in six to nine months in warmer regions. Susceptible to a variety of plant diseases and pests, such as root rot, powdery mildew, papaya ringspot virus, fruit fly and white fly, papaya plants usually have an abbreviated commercial lifespan of two to three years, according to information from the University of Hawaii. It is not unusual for a papaya plant to only produce a single crop in its lifetime.
Once harvested and delivered to the packing house, each papaya is graded according to ripeness and size. Next, the fruit is sorted according to size a second time, as well as shape, and color. It is also examined for insect or mechanical damage.
The sorted fruit is generally washed in large vats of chlorinated tap water to remove dirt, debris and insect contamination. Depending upon the condition of the fruit and the expected final destination, it may be subjected to additional treatments, including a hot water bath or a fungicide dip. After air-drying, the fruit is packed for shipment.
2011 Salmonella Agona outbreak
In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration investigated a Salmonella Agona outbreak that was traced to contaminated papayas imported from Mexico. The papayas were grown and packed by Agromod SA de CV of Chiapas, Mexico, and distributed by Agromod Produce Inc. of McAllen, Texas.
The Agromod papaya plantation had an interconnected drainage ditch system, according to information presented in 2013 during the annual educational conference of the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA).
The marsh-like environment of the drainage ditches was a haven for waterfowl, frogs and other wildlife, and provided perfect growth conditions for pathogenic bacteria. During heavy rain and flooding, the ditches overflowed into the soil surrounding the trees, impregnating the soil with pathogens from the water.
During an on-site inspection of Agromod’s plantation and packing house, investigators from FDA recovered a full two dozen different types of Salmonella, including the Salmonella Agona outbreak strain. Salmonella-positive samples were drawn from fields where the papaya grew and from packing-house drains.
The crops at Agromod were harvested by two-person teams. One person worked at tree level, picking fruit and handing or tossing it to the other person below. The second person laid each papaya onto a piece of poly foam on the unprotected soil. The foam was wrapped around the fruit, which was loaded into foam-lined bins for transport to the packing house.
It was common practice at Agromod for the sheets of poly foam to be reused for up to 15 days before being discarded, helping to spread contamination from the fields to the fruit, packing house and back again.
Once in the packing house, the fruit was washed in large vats of water. The level of chlorine in the wash water was not properly monitored or controlled, allowing Salmonella to spread throughout an entire batch of papayas.
The wash water was discharged into the drainage ditch system, returning Salmonella to the fields in a vicious cycle of contamination.
Import Alert
In response to the extent of Salmonella contamination brought to light during the investigation of the 2011 outbreak, FDA instituted Import Alert #21-17, “Countrywide Detention Without Physical Examination Of Papaya From Mexico.” Firms that provided documentation of five consecutive Salmonella-negative commercial shipments qualified for an exemption from the automatic detention at the U.S. border.
Concurrent with FDA’s initiation of the Import Alert, Mexico’s Servicio Nacional de Sanidad, Inocuidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria (National Service for Health, Safety and Agrifood Quality) (SENASICA ) unveiled a plan to assist that country’s papaya growers, packers and shippers in addressing the issues of safe growing and handling of the fruit.
History repeats
Notwithstanding the efforts of multiple agencies in both countries, the United States is once again in the throes of an outbreak of Salmonella that is associated with consumption of fresh, whole papayas imported from Mexico.
As of Aug. 18 when the CDC posted it’s most recent outbreak update, 173 people had been confirmed sick across 21 states, with 58 hospitalizations, and one death on New York City. The CDC warns that the number of confirmed illnesses is likely to increase.
Thus far FDA has identified one farm in connection with the contaminated papaya. That farm, Carica de Campeche, has been supplying papayas to the U.S. market under an Import Alert exemption since 2015.
According to a spokesperson from FDA, at present there are no specific ongoing testing or inspection requirements that a producer must meet in order to maintain an exemption from automatic detention, although a firm is expected to “… continue to provide the commodity in a wholesome manner and follow all the regulatory requirements of FDA.”
The FDA revoked the exemption granted to Carica de Campeche under Import Alert 21-17 on Aug. 7.

The impact of food safety rules on brokers
Source : https://www.freightwaves.com/news/2017/8/29/the-impact-of-food-safety-rules-on-brokers
By Maria Theresa Dalagan, contributor (Aug 29, 2017)
Freight brokers have traditionally been worried about laws that effect the products they ship. But new government regulations are bringing with them new worries. According to a guest blog post by Todd Bryant in Supply Chain Drive, the main focus for most of these newly-minted regulations are the elimination of contamination in food shipments. With food and food raw materials being the single largest commodity hauled by trucking companies (22%)- it is imperative that brokers have an understanding of these regulations because they now have liability to them.
The so-called “Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food” rule explicitly states how “shippers, receivers, loaders and carriers” in the business of delivering food items within the United States are subject to compliance. Section 111, for example, of the Food Safety Modernization Act, has directed “a study of the transportation of food for consumption in the United States.”
These rules made it clear that brokers are now equal partners in ensuring the safe transportation of products, equating them to shippers. A waiver from compliance is possible for a business:
Delivers only “Grade A” milk or milk products in bulk after passing inspection from the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments;
Delivers shellfish or shellfish by-products in accordance to standards set by the National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP) authority; and
Delivers to its own outlet of food or food products or receives only food served directly to consumers upon delivery
The new rules make brokers review their knowledge of transportation laws currently implemented as far as food items go. One of the laws that Bryant mentioned is Section 409 (h)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act which states:
“A manufacturer or supplier of a food contact substance may, at least 120 days prior to the introduction or delivery for introductions into interstate commerce of the food contact substance, notify the Secretary of the identify and intended use of the food contact substance, and of the determination of the manufacturer or supplier that the intended use of such food contact substance is safe under the standard described in subsection c)(3)(A).”
Now, what is stated in the said subsection is as follows that if a regulation:
“fails to establish that the proposed use of the food additive, under the conditions of use to be specified in the regulation, will be safe: Provided: That no additive shall be deemed to be safe if it is found to induce cancer when ingested by man or animal.”
Exemptions were also mentioned in anticipation of manufacturing practices that involved importation of food grade ingredients with the intent of using it on food products for export.
Other notable exemptions mentioned:
Companies having an average annual revenue of less than $500,000;
Farm directly involved in importing or transporting live food animals (exception to the exception: molluscan shellfish as aforementioned in this article);
Companies involved in shipping food contact substance, defined in Section 409 (h)(6) as “any substance intended for use as a component of materials used in manufacturing, packing, packaging, transporting, or holding food” (somewhat related to Section 409 (h)(1);
Transportation of food items in a reefer or any item that needed “temperature control for safety”; and
Unprocessed by-products with the goal of said raw materials as ingredients for animal food.
Improper handling of items for shipment would affect the way these food products - whether shipped as raw materials, processed additives or finished products - in terms of potability and taste. Keeping food safe from contamination is goal.
Proper handling and storage are not limited to the warehouses. The same standards and specifications are also required from the transportation equipment and operations involved in temperature-sensitive cargo such as food products from raw materials to finished products. This made the Food and Drug Administration extra sensitive to the shippers not trained enough when it comes to sanitary transportation practices. For the most part, it boils down to the level of responsibility that these shippers are willing to shoulder in accordance to the new rules.
For brokers, this could mean that they start to pivot a way from handling food products or agriculture products. With food and food products being such a large percent of truckload freight, it means more likely that brokers will have additional responsibilities in handling food products- and thus should implement a more rigorous food transportation compliance program. For brokers that do this, it gives them a huge market edge because they can go to shippers and show them they have such a program and are not only ensuring compliance, but have invested in the infrastructure to monitor and report on food safety and tracking systems among its carrier base.
One could also argue that food is the most likely place we will see blockchain applications hit the trucking space first. After all. the ability for brokers to monitor food compliance, handling, and termperature control is only as good as the carriers that haul the freight. With blockchain, the broker will know everyone that had control of the freight, what temparatures they kept the freight at, and how the freight was handled from farm to fork.

Papaya pathogen problems persist
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/08/papaya-pathogen-problems-persist/#.Way2OshJaUl
By PHYLLIS ENTIS (Aug 29, 2017)
Little appears to have changed since 2011 outbreak, despite efforts of U.S., Mexican governments
Salmonella — the pathogen behind an ongoing foodborne illness outbreak that has sickened 173 people across 21 states, killing one — is a normal inhabitant of the intestinal tract of many birds, reptiles and mammals.
The possibility that an agricultural product such as papayas may be contaminated with Salmonella is impossible to eradicate; however, the risk of widespread contamination can be controlled through careful attention to current best sanitary practices in the cultivation, harvesting and packing of raw produce. Failure to do so can result in a vicious cycle of contamination in fields, packing houses and the distribution system.
Cultivation, harvesting and packing
The papaya is a fast-growing, tree-like herbaceous plant, which is at home in tropical and semi-tropical climates and is cultivated extensively across southeastern Mexico, according to a report issued by the University of Florida IFAS Extension Service. The most recent report from Mexico’s Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación (Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food) shows Mexico to be the fifth largest producer of papayas in the world.
The papaya plant is propagated from seeds, with seedlings transplanted into fields when they are of sufficient size. The plant matures in six to nine months in warmer regions. Susceptible to a variety of plant diseases and pests, such as root rot, powdery mildew, papaya ringspot virus, fruit fly and white fly, papaya plants usually have an abbreviated commercial lifespan of two to three years, according to information from the University of Hawaii. It is not unusual for a papaya plant to only produce a single crop in its lifetime.
Once harvested and delivered to the packing house, each papaya is graded according to ripeness and size. Next, the fruit is sorted according to size a second time, as well as shape, and color. It is also examined for insect or mechanical damage.
The sorted fruit is generally washed in large vats of chlorinated tap water to remove dirt, debris and insect contamination. Depending upon the condition of the fruit and the expected final destination, it may be subjected to additional treatments, including a hot water bath or a fungicide dip. After air-drying, the fruit is packed for shipment.
2011 Salmonella Agona outbreak
In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration investigated a Salmonella Agona outbreak that was traced to contaminated papayas imported from Mexico. The papayas were grown and packed by Agromod SA de CV of Chiapas, Mexico, and distributed by Agromod Produce Inc. of McAllen, Texas.
The Agromod papaya plantation had an interconnected drainage ditch system, according to information presented in 2013 during the annual educational conference of the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA).
The marsh-like environment of the drainage ditches was a haven for waterfowl, frogs and other wildlife, and provided perfect growth conditions for pathogenic bacteria. During heavy rain and flooding, the ditches overflowed into the soil surrounding the trees, impregnating the soil with pathogens from the water.
During an on-site inspection of Agromod’s plantation and packing house, investigators from FDA recovered a full two dozen different types of Salmonella, including the Salmonella Agona outbreak strain. Salmonella-positive samples were drawn from fields where the papaya grew and from packing-house drains.
The crops at Agromod were harvested by two-person teams. One person worked at tree level, picking fruit and handing or tossing it to the other person below. The second person laid each papaya onto a piece of poly foam on the unprotected soil. The foam was wrapped around the fruit, which was loaded into foam-lined bins for transport to the packing house.
It was common practice at Agromod for the sheets of poly foam to be reused for up to 15 days before being discarded, helping to spread contamination from the fields to the fruit, packing house and back again.
Once in the packing house, the fruit was washed in large vats of water. The level of chlorine in the wash water was not properly monitored or controlled, allowing Salmonella to spread throughout an entire batch of papayas.
The wash water was discharged into the drainage ditch system, returning Salmonella to the fields in a vicious cycle of contamination.
Import Alert
In response to the extent of Salmonella contamination brought to light during the investigation of the 2011 outbreak, FDA instituted Import Alert #21-17, “Countrywide Detention Without Physical Examination Of Papaya From Mexico.” Firms that provided documentation of five consecutive Salmonella-negative commercial shipments qualified for an exemption from the automatic detention at the U.S. border.
Concurrent with FDA’s initiation of the Import Alert, Mexico’s Servicio Nacional de Sanidad, Inocuidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria (National Service for Health, Safety and Agrifood Quality) (SENASICA ) unveiled a plan to assist that country’s papaya growers, packers and shippers in addressing the issues of safe growing and handling of the fruit.
History repeats
Notwithstanding the efforts of multiple agencies in both countries, the United States is once again in the throes of an outbreak of Salmonella that is associated with consumption of fresh, whole papayas imported from Mexico.
As of Aug. 18 when the CDC posted it’s most recent outbreak update, 173 people had been confirmed sick across 21 states, with 58 hospitalizations, and one death on New York City. The CDC warns that the number of confirmed illnesses is likely to increase.
Thus far FDA has identified one farm in connection with the contaminated papaya. That farm, Carica de Campeche, has been supplying papayas to the U.S. market under an Import Alert exemption since 2015.
According to a spokesperson from FDA, at present there are no specific ongoing testing or inspection requirements that a producer must meet in order to maintain an exemption from automatic detention, although a firm is expected to “… continue to provide the commodity in a wholesome manner and follow all the regulatory requirements of FDA.”
The FDA revoked the exemption granted to Carica de Campeche under Import Alert 21-17 on Aug. 7.

Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Turtles
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/salmonella-outbreak-linke-to-turtles/
By Denis Stearns (Aug 29, 2017)
CDC and multiple states are investigating a multistate outbreak of human Salmonella infections linked to contact with pet turtles.
Thirty-seven people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Agbeni have been reported from 13 states.
Illnesses started on dates ranging from March 1, 2017 to August 3, 2017
Of 33 people with available information, 16 have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Twelve (32%) ill people are children 5 years of age or younger.
Epidemiologic and laboratory findings link the outbreak of human Salmonella Agbeni infections to contact with turtles or their environments, such as water from a turtle habitat.
In 2015, state and local health officials collected samples from turtles at a street vendor. Whole genome sequencing showed that the Salmonella Agbeni isolated from ill people in this outbreak is closely related genetically to the Salmonella Agbeni isolates from turtles. This close genetic relationship means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection.
Do not buy small turtles as pets or give them as gifts.
Since 1975, the FDA has banned selling and distributing turtles with shells less than 4 inches long as pets because they are often linked to Salmonella infections, especially in young children.
All turtles, regardless of size, can carry Salmonella bacteria even if they look healthy and clean. These outbreaks are a reminder to follow simple steps to enjoy pet reptiles and keep your family healthy.
This outbreak is expected to continue since consumers might be unaware of the risk of Salmonella infection from small turtles. If properly cared for, turtles have a long life expectancy.

IBM in Blockchain Collaboration for Food Safety
Source : http://windowsitpro.com/iot-solutions/ibm-blockchain-collaboration-food-safety
By Christine Hall (Aug 28, 2017)
Another new use has been found for blockchain. Last week, IBM announced that it's collaborating with a group of 10 major food suppliers "to identify new areas where the global supply chain can benefit from blockchain." It appears that initially the focus will be on tracking food products as they move their way from farm to processing facilities to grocery store shelves. The deal includes Dole, Driscoll’s, Golden State Foods, Kroger, McCormick and Company, McLane Company, Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Unilever and Walmart.
Actually, this is not so much a "new" use of blockchain as it is an adaptation of an already established use. For several years IBM has been doing something similar with its use of blockchain to track its own supply chain.
The collaboration should have a positive impact on consumers on several levels. Big Blue has seen tremendous savings in its own use of the technology, and if food suppliers see similar savings -- and there's little reason to believe they won't -- that should help keep prices down on store shelves. Consumers will also see a public health benefit, as the technology will enable food suppliers to quickly identify the source of food borne outbreaks.
The latter is key. According to IBM, each year one-in-10 people fall ill from contaminated food, and about 400,000 die. "It can take weeks to identify the precise point of contamination, causing further illness, lost revenue and wasted product," the company pointed out in a statement. "For example, it took more than two months to identify the farm source of contamination in a recent incidence of salmonella in papayas."
"Safety is a key value for Kroger, and our partnership with IBM positions us to explore and test blockchain technology as a solution for enhanced food safety across our business," said Howard Popoola, Kroger's vice president of Corporate Food Technology and Regulatory Compliance, in a statement. "Food safety is a universal priority for food retailers and companies. It's not a competitive advantage; it benefits our customers to have greater transparency and traceability in the supply chain."
Using blockchain, all participants in the process -- growers, suppliers, processors, distributors, retailers, regulators and consumers -- can be given access to known and trusted information regarding the origin and state of food. According to IBM, this means that the source of an outbreak can be found in minutes or hours instead of days or months.
The collaboration is also good for IBM and other companies pushing blockchain. Because the uses being pursued by the food industry are basically a repurposing of existing uses, this indicates that the technology is maturing and that adopting blockchains is now becoming somewhat intuitive. This should make the technology easier to sell, which hasn't been the case up until now.
Although a couple of years back blockchain was being touted as "the next big thing," its adoption has been rather slow. Financial institutions, the tech's most obvious match, have shown interest, but being conservative by nature have been slow to adopt. Health care has been slowly adopting it, employing it to protect patients privacy and for purposes such as making medical images quickly and securely available. Blockchain is also being adopted by the oil exploration industry, and in Europe, it's being harnessed as a peer-to-peer network to aid wholesale energy traders.
IBM evidently seems to think that its new food industry partnerships makes this a good time to more actively push the technology. In the same press release that it used to announce the food deal, it introduced a new Blockchain Platform, available through its Bluemix Cloud, which offers something akin to one-stop-shopping for blockchain technology.
According to Big Blue, the platform is designed with ease-of-use in mind.
"It offers the development tools that enable organizations of any size – and from any industry – to set up and participate in a blockchain network, from multinational corporations to a farmer with a smart phone," said Marie Wieck, IBM's blockchain GM, in a blog. "All members within a blockchain network will see the benefits of faster and more secure transactions and exchanges of information."
Pricing for the Blockchain Platform starts at $0.50 hourly.

Restaurant menus now likely to contain calorie counts by 2018
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/08/restaurant-menus-now-likely-to-contain-calorie-counts-by-2018/#.Way3uchJaUl
By DAN FLYNN (Aug 28, 2017)
The Affordable Care Act is intact, Bill de Blasio is on hold, and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is on board.
That means big restaurants’ menus might yet be required to include calorie counts under federal regulations.
Let’s take these developments one at a time.
Legal authority for menu labeling rests in that much-maligned but politically durable Affordable Care Act. Otherwise known as Obamacare, the ACA survived the congressional chopping block this past spring and summer.
With FDA in a holding pattern for a year on enforcement of the regulations that are ready to go, it was conceivable federally mandated menu labeling would go away with the death of Obamacare. But the Republican majority failed at that task.
When FDA put things on hold, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took off. The Big Apple tried to fill the space by imposing menu labeling regime on its own.
The threat of state and local governments imposing a maze of menu labeling laws is why industry groups like the National Resturant Association favor the federal program.
Federal menu labeling is designed to keep state and local governments at bay. It applies to chain restaurants with 20 or more locations, including supermarkets, convenience stores, and similar retail outlets. It also permits any single-site operator to register with the federal system and thereby escape any attempts to impose state and local menu laws.
New York City wanted to move in and fill space when the federal program appeared to no longer be on the tracks, but that’s no longer going to happen.
The Big Apple and organizations representing grocery store, convenience store and restaurant owners reached a court settlement announced Friday. New York City has agreed not to fine or sanction businesses for alleged non-compliance with calorie and nutrient information menu-labeling requirements before a May 2018 compliance date established by the FDA.
The Food Marketing Institute (FMI), and the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) sued and then settled with New York City.
“The Food Marketing Institute is pleased we were able to reach a settlement with the city, which both protects our members from fines prior to the federal compliance date and also serves as a strong deterrent for other states and localities from prematurely enforcing the federal menu-labeling rule prior to the federal compliance date,” said FMI Chief Public Policy Officer Jennifer Hatcher.
She says local enforcement is “preempted by federal law,” and FMI is encouraging its members to comply with the federal rule “subject to any further modifications or clarifications…”
Lyle Beckwith, senior vice president of government affairs for NACS, said the settlement is “a victory for common sense.” He praised NYC because it “agreed not to jump the gun.”
The final piece was FDA Commissioner Gottlieb’s statement Friday, promising “additional practical guidance” on the menu-labeling requirements by year end.
“We are pleased that the Food and Drug Administration will provide clear menu labeling guidance by the end of this year,” commented Cicely Simpson, NRA’s executive vice president.
“The FDA,” Gottlieb said, “takes our responsibility seriously to ensure that food is labeled in a manner that provides people with the information they need to make healthy choices.”
Taken together, these recent developments mean is likely federally imposed menu labeling is going to take effect next year. In the meantime, FDA is going to be under pressure to bring down the costs of the regulations.
NACS’s Beckwith points to a new economic study that finds the industry’s costs of complying with the existing rule will be more than $300 million a year or more than triple FDA’s estimate. He says the actual expenditures for convenience stores is seven times higher than the estimate.
As it stands now, the menu labeling showing calorie counts for the various choice takes effect on May 7, 2018. Many restaurant chains were ready to comply when the hold was put on the new regulations.

How can we be sure our food is safe to eat?
Source : https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/25/cuts-weaker-regulation-food-safe-to-eat
By theguardian.com (Aug 25, 2017)
It has been a summer of food scares. They pop up at regular intervals to shake us briefly out of our complacency about the safety of our food supply before we carry on as before. Last year it was a lethal outbreak of E coli linked to salad leaves. This week it was hepatitis E associated with eating pork products from a supermarket the authorities declined to name. Earlier this month alarm was raised about imported eggs contaminated with a pesticide toxic to humans and banned from the food chain.
Let’s face it – too much of the food chain is broken
Lucy Siegle
 Read more
With equal regularity the authorities reassure us that they have it under control. The risks are low. We have a food chain of unparalleled sophistication and all is basically well in this best of all culinary cornucopias.
The truth, however, is that the structures established in the wake of previous scandals to ensure our food is not only safe and wholesome, but is also what it claims to be, are being quietly dismantled. Just when Brexit demands a well-resourced, home-grown capacity to safeguard food standards, we are shrinking our capabilities. Local authorities – a crucial pillar in the edifice since they have legal responsibility for testing foods sold in their areas – are so starved of money that they have cut checking to the bone. Public analysts, who used to be busy producing results for them, describe labs that are only kept going with private commissions as their public work falls away.
Faced with a collapse in local authority funding for enforcement, the Food Standards Agency is rewriting the whole basis of food regulation. It is looking to shift the burden and cost of inspection to the private sector. It says this will make it better able to cope with the new demands of a globalised food system. But its language betrays the government’s ideologically driven deregulatory agenda. Controls are to be “proportionate and risk-based”; “administrative burdens” on business are to be reduced; “relationships with industry improved”; and the agency’s understanding is to become “more commercially astute”. Businesses, especially big ones that are regarded as generally compliant with the rules, will be rewarded with a light touch from government and increasing acceptance of privatised inspection and certification schemes.
Have we forgotten so quickly that businesses generally compliant with the rules sold us industrial-scale adulteration of the food supply when they gave us horsemeat mislabelled as beef – or in the case of Asda, tonnes of undeclared offal in burgers that claimed to be beef? It was generally compliant abattoirs too that produced chicken so routinely contaminated with the potentially lethal food-poisoning bug campylobacter that 280,000 people in the UK were made sick with it year after year.
The Food Standards Agency, at its best a model of transparent working in the public interest, has shrunk from the eight floors it once occupied at London Aviation House to less than two. The Tories had hoped to abolish it. Instead, it had a destructive reorganisation imposed on it by the coalition government, with key functions around nutritional quality and labelling moved back in to Whitehall departments and responsibilities fragmented. It has lost crucial expertise. Initially fiercely independent, it saw the composition of its board shift to members with industry links. At times it now appears cowed into protecting commercial interests more than consumers.
Look at just one of this summer’s scares to see how this may play out. Hepatitis E used to be an illness caught by people travelling, especially to countries with poor sanitation; but now as many as 100,000 people a year are thought to contract the virus in the UK, mostly from eating infected meat at home. The virus affects the liver and, while its symptoms mostly go unnoticed, it has the potential to cause severe illness. The risk is indeed low statistically, as the Food Standards Agency has advised, but if you are one of the unlucky ones the consequences can be devastating, especially if you are pregnant or immuno-suppressed. It can lead to miscarriage and stillbirth, and it can cause cirrhosis.
Over 90% of British pigs have been infected with Hepatitis E, but the particular strain of the virus behind the rising numbers of reported illness in the UK has not so far been found in British herds. However, manufacturers use cheaper European pork imports for many processed and fast foods and this is infected with the relevant strain. UK scientists have detected the genetic material of the hepatitis E virus in 10% of retail sausages.
Concerns resurfaced this week after the publication of research by Public Health England. It reported that cases of the illness in the UK were associated with eating own-brand pork sausages and ham from a particular supermarket. The Food Standards Agency advised cooking pork thoroughly. (Tricky, if you are using ready-to-eat ham.) It told us pregnant women should seek the advice of their GPs. (Good luck with that.)
You may think British consumers are entitled to know which supermarket’s products were identified, but initially neither PHE nor the Food Standards Agency would say. It was left to the press to claim it was Tesco.
Tesco itself initially declined to comment on the allegation directly. Following Guardian inquiries on Tuesday about the basis for keeping the public in the dark, Tesco and PHE changed their position and put out coordinated responses on Wednesday. The supermarket confirmed that its products were involved but said it only used British pork in manufacturing. PHE said it had not named the company because no fault was attached to it, and that it had not found that Tesco products directly caused hepatitis E, a point Tesco was keen to highlight. (PHE’s epidemiological studies do not of course by definition seek to prove cause, but look for association.) Perhaps this is what improved relationships between authorities and industry and more astute commercial understanding looks like, but what clearer role for a robust regulator could there be?
Hepatitis E is a mutating virus, infecting a large proportion of pig herds globally, capable of transmission to humans through meat. Why it has taken such a hold on farms is not known, although modern production methods are likely to be a factor. Who else will develop the tests currently lacking that pinpoint when its presence in pig meat is an active risk to humans? Who would want it to be left to contractors paid by industry to commission those tests and decide what to do with the results? Who else can unpick the conundrum of British pig herds apparently being free of the hepatitis E strain that makes people ill while products said to be sourced from British pigs are apparently associated with the illness?
There is another model for regulating the food industry. The Food Standards Agency itself has used it to great effect recently. For years it urged the meat sector to clean up its act on campylobacter, to little avail. Finally it decided to name and shame supermarkets and abattoirs for their contamination levels. It came under intense pressure from both industry and ministers to back down, but with a little help from the press, stood its ground.
The improvement since has been dramatic. So before we have another food scandal, let’s hear less about reducing burdens on business, and more about the crucial role of an active state in giving the public the protection it deserves.
• Felicity Lawrence is a special correspondent for the Guardian

 

 

 

 

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