FoodHACCP Newsletter



Food Safety Job Openings

09/22. Food Safety Specialist 1 - Cuyahoga Co, OH
09/22. Product Safety and Quality Analyst – Austin, TX
09/22. Food Safety, Qua & Reg – Springdale, AR
09/20. Food Safety Manager – Jessup, MD
09/20. Associate Food Safety Consultant - Teaneck, NJ
09/20. Food Safety Auditor - Charlotte, NC
09/19. QA Technologist - Norwood, MA
09/18. Vice President of Food Safety - Delano, CA
09/18. Assistant Professor - Fort Collins, CO
09/18. HACCP Qual Assistant - Dallas/Fort Worth, TX

 

09/25 2017 ISSUE:775

 

Contaminated Hands Caused Bayshore Salmonella Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/contaminated-hands-caused-bayshore-salmonella-outbreak/
By Denis Stearns (Sep 24, 2017)
POSTED IN FOODBORNE ILLNESS OUTBREAKS
According to news reports, two people were hospitalized as a result of a Salmonella outbreak at a Duluth nursing facility last month, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
All told, 15 people became ill in mid-August at Bayshore Residence and Rehabilitation, said Doug Schultz, a health department spokesman, but only five — all residents — tested positive for Salmonella.
The 15 included four staff members and 11 residents, two of whom were hospitalized, Schultz said.
The health department contacted the facility after it noted a “cluster” of cases, Schultz said. Based on what inspectors found, it appeared that the disease was not foodborne but was transmitted via “contaminated hands of staff or residents.”
Earlier this week, Bayshore administrator David Uselman said facility personnel did a thorough examination of the facility’s kitchen and concluded that the bacteria had been brought in from the outside.
Cleaning the environment was recommended, Schultz said, along with making sure staff are properly trained on hand-washing and then pass along that training to residents.
Salmonella, which is the name for the illness and the bacteria that causes it, sickens about a million people in the United States every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It leads to 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths annually. Most people infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection.
Bayshore Residence and Rehabilitation, at 1601 St. Louis Ave. on Park Point, is licensed by the state to provide 139 nursing home beds.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants.  The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.
If you or a family member became ill with a Salmonella infection, including Reactive Arthritis or Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Salmonella attorneys for a free case evaluation.

An angler’s fantasy: Safer fish for all
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/09/an-anglers-fantasy-safer-fish-for-all/#.WchenMhJaUl
By REBECCA LILY (Sep 22, 2017)
Everything you always wanted to know about Salmonella and fish, but were afraid to ask
OPINION
A study from the University of Adiyaman in Turkey suggests that because of the presence and abundance of 30,0000 known species of fish, the aquatic animals form the largest group in the animal kingdom used for the production of different animal-based foods.
While this makes fish one of the most sought after ingredients in the seafood industry, it has also become one of the protein sources many health organizations are monitoring meticulously because of the risks of contaminants.
Many of their concerns involve food poisoning, which often comes as a result of pathogenic organisms, including Salmonella.
Salmonella is a rod-shaped, gram-negative bacilli that can lead to foodborne illnesses and serious infections. It is a member of the Enterobacteriaceae family of bacteria and is facultatively anaerobic, which means it can grow either with or without oxygen.
Some may think that diarrhea — a primary symptom of many foodborne illnesses such as salmonellosis is a minor health issue — but the World Health Organization describes it as the second leading cause of death among children who are younger than five years old.
Salmonella in fish: It comes with the territory
Aquatic environments and their shorelines are considered to be major reservoirs for Salmonella. Hence, fishery products have been regarded as major sources of pathogens that originate from fish. There are three categories of pathogenic contamination that are often associated with fishery products and fish.
The first is indigenous bacteria, which refers to the type of bacteria that exists as part of the natural microflora of fish. The second, enteric bacteria or non-indigenous bacteria, occurs as a result of fecal contamination. The third is bacteria that is introduced during processing, storage, transportation or preparation for consumption. Salmonella falls under the second group.
The increased run off of organic matter into freshwater bodies such as ponds during rainfall events can also contaminate an aquaculture system with various bacteria and other pathogens. Animal waste, fertilizers, contaminated feed, unsanitary water and other elements of farming are also contributing factors to the prevalence of Salmonella.
Some research, however, shows that fish — except river fish — are not considered a natural habitat of Salmonella. In fact, Benjamin Chapman, a specialist on food safety and associate professor at North Carolina State University, argues that Salmonella in fish can occur as a result of improper handling during preparation or processing.
People who handle the food, in processing facilities or restaurants, probably don’t wash their hands properly every time they should. It is also possible that other meats, which are in the same processing facilities — such as beef or poultry — can cross contaminate fish and fishery products.
How to prevent Salmonella poisoning
As with any other types of meat, the risk of foodborne illnesses is much higher in fish that are raw or undercooked as compared to those that are cooked to the proper temperature to kill pathogens.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using a food thermometer to make sure food is cooked to a safe internal temperature. For fin fish, the CDC’s recommended internal temperature is 145 degrees. Make sure to let the meat rest for about 3 minutes before eating or carving.
Refrigeration is another treatment approach. Freezing fish for 15 hours at minus 35 degrees C, or for a week at minus 20 degrees C is considered an effective way to kill some parasites. But freezing does not kill all pathogens, including listeria monocytogenes, hepatitis A or Vibrio vulnificus.
It is also important that people who catch their own fish carefully select fishing spots that are less prone to pollutants, such as bodies of water that are not contaminated with animal manure.
Food safety measures for people who eat raw fish
Although many studies describe the potential hazards of eating raw meat and fish, including the risk of Salmonella infection, many people still believe in the health benefits of eating raw proteins. Other research suggesting it is beneficial is not uncommon.
Frying fish, for instance, can decrease the level of omega-3 fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) as well as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which are both healthy and essential for the development of the brain. The same fatty acids also reduce the risk of heart-related illnesses, and some studies found they can even lower the risks of depression.
For these reasons, it is undeniable that raw fish dishes have gained popularity across the globe. Examples include Sushi and Sashimi from Japanese cuisine. Soused herring, a marinated raw herring, is common in the Netherlands. In Latin America, the marinated seafood dish ceviche, which usually consists of raw fish cured in lime juice or lemon, is popular.
For reducing the risks of contaminants and poisoning from raw fish, experts suggest eating only fish which have been frozen. Buy from reputable shops or suppliers, and buy refrigerated fish.
Always inspect your fish by making a visual check, and make sure that it smells fresh. Never keep fresh fish for too long and never leave it out for too long. Always work in a clean kitchen, and wash your hands frequently.

Hurricane season food safety
Source : http://www.wcjb.com/content/news/Hurricane-season-food-safety-446586563.html
By Kelly Gonzalez (Sep 22, 2017)
Hurricane supplies consist of batteries, flashlights, and sandbags, but what happens to your food once the power goes out?
"If your refrigerator is kept close the food would stay good for only a short time, probably up to 4 hours,” said Professor Amy Simonne, Food Safety Expert.
University of Florida safety experts say there are steps you can take to protect your family from food borne illness.
One is to fill up a cup of water and put it in the freezer. Once frozen, put a quarter on top.
"If the power goes off the ice in the container would melt and the quarter would drop,” said Professor Simonne.
Food at that point would not be safe to eat. Local business owners shared their own methods for saving food.
"If you have raw meat in your refrigerator and you want to save it the best thing you can do is pack it in a cooler, don't open lid for minimum time,” said Brian Hood, David's BBQ Founder and Partner.
Hood says fresh meats in a cooler will last 3 to 7 days if it is kept 40 degrees or below, so have a thermometer on hand with your hurricane supplies.
“So, if you have prediction of a hurricane coming you can make your own icepack, put water in some containers and put it in the freezer to prepare,” said Professor Simonne.
And, if your on the fence about what to do… Professor Simonne says "when in doubt, throw it out”.

 

 

 


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Death Wish Coffee pulls ‘Nitro’ because of botulism risk
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/09/death-wish-coffee-pulls-nitro-because-of-botulism-risk/#.WchfE8hJaUl
By CORAL BEACH (Sep 21, 2017)
Less than two months after it hit retail shelves, Death Wish Coffee Co. is recalling “Nitro Cold Brew” beverage, ceasing production and changing its manufacturing process because it may have allowed deadly botulin toxin to develop in the product.
The Round Lake, NY, company launched online sales of the beverage on Feb. 2, billing it as the latest “World’s Strongest Coffee” in the Death Wish Coffee line of extra-caffeinated beverages. The “nitrogen-infused” coffee debuted in retail stores about six weeks ago.
Coffee company officials told Food Safety News on Wednesday that they have been consulting with the Process Authority at Cornell University for the past three and a half months regarding the possibility that their processing could lead to the growth of Clostridium botulinum in the Nitro Cold Brew. The company did not, however, comment on what specifically spurred the internal investigation.
“We strive to have the best product possible. We voluntarily sent the product to the specialists at Cornell as a safety net to protect our customers and make sure they were receiving a top notch nitro brew,” said Alyssa Hardy, content manager for Death Wish Coffee.
“Mike Brown, our CEO and founder is extremely meticulous when it comes to the products we put out, so we have them tested. He decided to do the additional testing as a precautionary measure, and as it turns out, we’re glad we did.”
Recall notices posted on the company website and the Food and Drug Administration website offered similar explanations. The recall of the 11-ounce cans of Nitro Cold Brew includes product sold at retail and via the internet.
“We just started selling at stores about six weeks ago — there were 3,360 cans sent to stores — and all of the Death Wish Nitro product has been recalled at this time,” Hardy said.
“Every single person who has purchased Death Wish Nitro since we launched it has been sent an email informing them of the recall, the risks and that they will receive their money back via a mailed check.”
No confirmed illnesses
The company’s recall notice says as of Wednesday, no confirmed illnesses had been reported in connection with the Nitro Bold Brew.
“Consumers who have purchased Death Wish Nitro should not consume it and can either dispose of it or return the product to the location with proof of purchase for a full refund,” according to the recall notice.
Hardy said Death Wish has been testing its products for 14 weeks on an ongoing basis. She said the specialists have not found C. botulinum in any of the products. She did not specifically answer whether the pathogen has been found in the company’s production facilities.
Internal investigation
Although the weeks of testing haven’t showed any contamination or “degradation of quality” of the Nitro Cold Brew, CEO Brown decided to halt production and add a step to the manufacturing process.
“In short, it looks like our process wasn’t perfect and we’re excited to revisit it with guidance from some of the most meticulous scientists in the world,” according to a statement on the Death Wish Coffee website.
“… a process specialist has recommended that we add an additional step to our nitro cold brew production process.
“Nitrogen-infused coffee is a fairly new process, in which at the moment, there are few federal standards and regulations through the Food and Drug Administration.”
The company statement said the risk of Clostridium botulinum is something that is present with any nitrogen-based products that are low acid foods commercialized in reduced oxygen packaging.
Advice to consumers
Anyone who has consumed Death Wish Coffee brand Nitro Cold Brew and developed symptoms of botulism poisoning should immediately seek medical treatment. The toxins paralyzes muscles, including those used for breathing, which can quickly become life threatening. Most victims require hospitalization and many cannot breath without ventilator support.
Also, anyone who has consumed the beverage in the past couple of weeks should monitor themselves because it can take up to 10 days after exposure for the symptoms to develop. Symptoms can develop in as few as six hours, but usually show up 18 to 36 hours after exposure, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Food contaminated with the bacteria that produces the botulin toxin does not look or smell bad. The contamination cannot be identified without laboratory testing.
People with botulism may not show all of these symptoms at once. The symptoms of botulism poisoning in adults include:
double vision;
blurred vision;
drooping eyelids;
slurred speech;
difficulty swallowing;
a thick-feeling tongue;
dry mouth; and
muscle weakness.

Cyclospora cases through the roof; CDC can’t find source
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/09/cyclospora-cases-through-the-roof-cdc-cant-find-source/#.WchfUshJaUl
By CORAL BEACH (Sep 20, 2017)
Previous outbreaks were traced to fresh produce, ranging from imported cilantro to berries
Almost 1,000 people in the United States have contracted infections from  Cyclospora parasites since May 1. Health officials are baffled, saying they haven’t been able to discover the source of the microscopic creatures, which infect humans via contaminated food and/or water.
There were 988 laboratory-confirmed victims in the ongoing outbreak, spread across 40 states, as of Sept. 13. That’s a 380 percent increase in victims compared to the Aug. 2 outbreak announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At that time the agency reported 206 people in 27 states had been confirmed with cyclosporiasis caused by the Cyclospora cayetanensis parasite.
Before its over, the outbreak is likely to exceed 1,000 victims. Illnesses that began after Aug. 2 may not yet have been reported to CDC because of the lag time between a victim’s first doctor visit, lab tests, paperwork and finally reports being filed with public health agencies.
The most recent update from CDC did not include information about the number of victims who have been hospitalized or whether any have died. In its Aug. 7 alert, the agency reported 18 people had required hospitalization. No deaths had been reported at that point.
“At this time, no specific vehicle of interest has been identified, and investigations to identify a potential source, or sources, of infection are ongoing. It is too early to say whether cases of Cyclospora infection in different states are related to each other or to the same food item(s),” the CDC reported Sept. 15.
“Previous U.S. outbreaks of cyclosporiasis have been linked to various types of imported fresh produce, e.g., basil, cilantro, mesclun lettuce, raspberries, snow peas. Consumers should continue to enjoy the health benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables as part of a well-balanced diet.”
However, the CDC outbreak update again urged consumers, retailers and foodservice providers to follow safe produce handling recommendations.
2017 more than tops the charts
It’s not unusual to see an increase in Cyclospora infections in the United States between May and August or September, according to the CDC. In some previous years, outbreaks in that time frame have coincided with the availability of particular fresh produce commodities, such as cilantro from Mexico.
“Cyclosporiasis occurs in many countries but is more common in tropical and sub-tropical regions,” the CDC reported.
“To date, no commercially frozen or canned produce has been implicated (in the 2017 outbreak).”
The number of lab-confirmed cases this year is literally off the chart, though. Since the year 2000, the only annual Cyclospora case count that comes close to the numbers this year was 2005 when a March-May outbreak in Florida hit 582 people. The source was found to be basil from Peru.
In the past decade, 2007 was the only year when the CDC did not receive reports of Cyclospora parasite infections. Since then, there have been outbreaks every year.
See the chart below for the CDC’s Cyclospora counts for the past decade. Click here to see the full chart, which included outbreak data from 2000 to 2015. The numbers for 2016 are not included in the chart, but as of Aug. 3, 2016, the CDC reported there had been 88 Cyclospora infections reported in the United States that began on or after May 1, 2016.
Advice to consumers
The single-celled parasite causes intestinal infections in human beings who eat or drink contaminated food or beverages. It cannot be passed from person-to-person, according to the CDC.
It can, however, take up to two weeks for symptoms to develop. Anyone who has symptoms of cyclosporiasis is urged to seek medical attention.
Symptoms include watery diarrhea that can be profuse, anorexia, fatigue, weight loss, nausea, flatulence, abdominal cramping, myalgia, vomiting and low-grade fever.
If untreated, the illness may last for a few days to a month or longer, and may have a remitting-relapsing course. The treatment of choice for cyclosporiasis is trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMX), according to the CDC.

Navigating the FDA’s Food Safety Maze
Source : https://modernfarmer.com/2017/09/navigating-the-fda-food-safety-modernization-act-maze/
By Brian Barth (Sep 20, 2017)
obody wants another deadly listeria outbreak. But complying with new regulations threatens to put many growers out of business.
ON SEPTEMBER 2, 2011, the Colorado Department of Public Health reported seven cases of listeriosis to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Over the next nine days, the CDC identified 65 additional people from multiple states who had been infected by the same listeria strain, and traced it back to cantaloupe grown on the Granada, Colorado, farm of Eric and Ryan Jensen. By the time the outbreak subsided in late October, the number of documented cases totaled 147, including 33 fatalities—the deadliest episode of foodborne illness our country had witnessed since 1925.
Following a two-year investigation that revealed substandard fruit-washing practices, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) arrested the Jensens, making them the first produce farmers the federal agency had ever charged with a criminal act: “introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce.” The brothers wound up getting off relatively easy—six months of home detention and $300,000 in restitution—but the day they were taken into custody, the FDA issued a press release stating that the charges should “send a message” to similar would-be criminals, i.e., fruit and vegetable growers. (See “Dirty Deeds: Recent Food Safety Crimes“)
If farmers were concerned then, they’re panicked now. Months before the tainted-cantaloupe saga began playing out on the evening news, Congress had enacted the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to far less public fanfare. The legislation, aimed at ratcheting up FDA scrutiny across the board, subjects fresh fruits and vegetables to the kind of stringent regulations that previously governed only meat, dairy, eggs, and processed foods. And though the law’s been on the books since 2011, the FDA took years to figure out how to implement the produce component. So the Produce Safety Rule didn’t go into effect until January 2016, at which point the agency granted a two-year grace period for compliance. Translation: The clock runs down on January 26, 2018. Tick. Tock.
“This is sending shock waves through the industry, because the act applies legal standards for processed food to growers,” says Paul Underhill, co-owner of Terra Firma Farm, a 250-acre organic operation in Winters, California. “Unlike a company that sells cooked food, we don’t have total control over potential contaminants.”
The FDA’s current guidelines for FSMA compliance involve determining whether farm animals or random wildlife—birds flying above, squirrels hopping about—might have pooped among the rows. Irrigation water is to be tested frequently for microbes. Employees must wash their hands after eating or using the restroom, and children (less likely to prioritize hygiene) are best kept away from the fields. Each crop necessitates a separate paper trail detailing all of the above, plus multiple steps at harvest, from washing the produce to cold storage. “It’s a complete disaster for diversified farms,” says Underhill, who raises nearly 100 different fruits and vegetables and notes that a single crop, like tomatoes, could be harvested 50 times in one season.
An earlier version of the FSMA rules—they’re still being refined as this issue goes to press—proposed a nine-month interval between the application of raw manure and harvest, in direct conflict with the United States Department of Agriculture’s organic-certification standards. While waste-based fertilizers may seem a prime breeding ground for disease, a 2013 French study published in the research journal PLoS One found that soils high in the microbial diversity associated with manure and compost were less apt to sustain pathogenic forms of listeria.
“Requirements need to be based on sound scientific evidence,” says Kali Feiereisel, a food-safety specialist with the advocacy group Community Alliance with Family Farmers. She points to recent CDC data demonstrating that, for the foodborne illnesses it can link to specific sources, only 0.1 to 5 percent originated on a farm in any year. “The rest of the outbreaks stem from other parts of the supply chain: grocery stores, restaurants, home kitchens,” Feiereisel says. Then there’s the question of whether produce-related incidents are actually preventable: “It’s reasonable to expect farmers to implement commonsense practices, but a black hole of endless checklists may not reduce risk.”
Further complications arise for growers who create value-added products, such as jams and pickles, or even chop or freeze vegetables— activities that trigger FSMA protocols for “facilities.” Food hubs and other aggregators of that ilk fall into this category, too, no matter how light their touch. The FDA’s own economic analysis of the law predicted that compliance costs for a facility would average $13,000 per year. The analysis also indicated that farms with annual gross sales under $500,000 would spend approximately 4 percent of revenue to comply, versus 1 percent for larger farms. The danger to public health posed by a produce grower supplying 100 local families is quite different from that posed by an outfit with national distribution—as the 300,000 cases of cantaloupe recalled during the 2011 outbreak attest—something the bill’s Tester-Hagan Amendment acknowledges. Proposed by Montana senator and cattle rancher Jon Tester, the amendment exempts farms with sales below $500,000 from most FSMA requirements, if more than half of those sales are direct to a consumer, restaurant, or retailer within a 275-mile radius (as opposed to a wholesale distributor). For the few requirements that still affect farms of that size, the FDA also extended the compliance deadline by an additional year or two, if sales are under $250,000.
According to Underhill, however, Tester-Hagan’s $500,000 ceiling doesn’t conform to everyone’s definition of a small family farm, given typical agricultural profit margins of around 10 percent. “In some Northern California counties, $50,000 is considered low income. You don’t need to be big to make that much. I know strawberry farmers who gross more than half a million dollars on 10 acres.” He worries that FSMA will hamper organic farmers seeking to scale up: “I’d hate to see a class system in agriculture where you have the big professional growers on top, and then everyone else who will be kept at a certain size by the rule.”
Confusing as the myriad, and continually evolving, rules and guidelines may be, details regarding enforcement remain far murkier. The FDA, empowered by the letter of the law to inspect farms, has relegated the task to state agriculture departments. Will they accept the mission? The Ohio Department of Agriculture, at least, has pledged to do so. In reality, enforcement will fall primarily to third-party auditors. FSMA holds wholesalers, distributors, and processors responsible for all food procured, and they’re not expected to purchase produce from a farm unless it has paid for, and passed, an audit by a recognized firm.
Another final wild card affecting the FSMA rollout: President Donald J. Trump. Last year, his campaign cited the “food police” as an example of government overreach, and his current proposal to cut $108 million from that portion of the FDA’s fiscal 2018 budget would certainly hamper implementation and enforcement.
Regardless, FSMA compliance won’t absolve growers of liability. After all, the Jensen brothers were arrested and sentenced long before the act’s effective due date. For a sure fire safety net, farmers will want our hyper-litigious society’s preferred means of protection—insurance, in this instance, specific policies related to products and product recalls, which tend to be tailored to large, single-crop operations.
Rachel Armstrong, a Minnesota attorney and founder of the nonprofit Farm Commons, points out that a sickened consumer will usually target the grocery store, who will pass the buck down to the food processor or distributor, who will inevitably blame the farmer. Each entity possesses fewer assets than the one above it and is, therefore, more likely to lose in court. Armstrong’s response to frustrated independent farmers: “I’m sorry, guys, but you’re caught between a rock and a hard place. You can’t afford a policy that insures you for the risks you’re likely to experience. In the meantime, grow as safely as you can.” Is that a reassuring legal strategy? “No,” she admits. “But this is a big problem. I honestly think it is one of the biggest problems facing the local food movement right now.”

Food Safety Month: Memories and myth busting
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/09/food-safety-month-memories-and-myth-busting/#.WchgWchJaUl
By KELSEY M. MACKIN (Sep 19, 2017)
Growing up, September always meant the beginning the school year. But now, entering my 16th year of schooling, September has taken on a new meaning as a graduate student who is passionate about raising the awareness for the FDA‘s National Food Safety Month.
The second of four children, I was fortunate enough to have parents who educated me on the importance of food safety when I helped prepare family dinner or made baked goods. If you had asked me ten years ago what I thought food safety was, I would probably have said, “Not eating raw cookie dough because the egg has not been cooked in it yet.” A decade later, I would definitely applaud my younger self, but from an entirely new arena of appreciation and knowledge.
Until I began working at Food Safety News this summer, I thought “food safety” simply meant knowing the basics of how to prevent foodborne illness in areas of cross-contamination, consumption of raw food, or the growth of bacteria in temperatures that were not cold enough or not hot enough.
By listening to the questions that my editors received, the comments and reactions of readers, and the praise of many of our national and world food safety leaders, I began to understand that food safety was a far more complex issue. Yet, it remains such a simple topic to begin educating consumers, neighbors and ourselves on.
Take a look at any of the recent FDA Warning Letters that Food Saftey News posts each week. I am repeatedly shocked at the harsh reality of the irresponsibility in facilities where our food is prepared, packed or held before it enters the food supply. These are areas that can feel beyond control as a consumer. I feel a sense of betrayal whenever I read the most recent FDA Warning Letters that have to do with the food supply. I have such an appreciation for the government workers who make it their mission to identify these conditions, and advise facilities to clean up their act.
I also have hope for the choices that consumers can control, and choose to make when they purchase, prepare and serve food. Spreading awareness, educating and reiterating the importance of food safety preparation and storage has become something I feel very passionate about.
Having come from a big family, when I moved away from home for college I continued to gather company around food for various celebrations. Realizing that many of my friends in college were learning to prepare food on their own for the first time, my passion for proper food safety continued. Food safety tips and tricks, like our recent Labor Day article, remind me how easy it is to share this knowledge with others. You never know what disaster your comment, correction, or words might prevent.
Here are a few Food Safety Education Myths the FDA seeks to bust this month:
No. 1 MYTH: Only kids eat raw cookie dough and cake batter. If we just keep kids away from the raw products when adults are baking, there won’t be a problem.
FACT: Just a lick can make you sick.
No one of any age should eat raw cookie dough or cake batter because it could contain pathogens that cause illness. Whether it’s pre-packaged or homemade, the heat from baking is required to kill germs that might be in the raw ingredients. The finished, baked, product is far safer – and tastes even better. So don’t do it! And remember, kids who eat raw cookie dough and cake batter are at greater risk of getting food poisoning than most adults are.
No. 2 MYTH: When kids cook it is usually “heat and eat” snacks and foods in the microwave. They don’t have to worry about food safety – the microwaves kill the germs.
FACT: Microwaves aren’t magic.
It’s the heat the microwaves generate that kills the germs. Food cooked in a microwave needs to be heated to a safe internal temperature. Microwaves often heat food unevenly, leaving cold spots in food where germs can survive. Kids can use microwaves properly by carefully following package instructions. Even simple “heat and eat” snacks come with instructions that need to be followed to ensure a safe product. Use a food thermometer if the instructions tell you to.
No. 3 MYTH: When kids wa sh their hands, just putting their hands under running water is enough to get the germs off.
FACT: Rubbing hands with water and soap is the best way to go.
Water is just part of what you need for clean hands. Washing hands properly is a great way to reduce the risk of food poisoning. Here’s how: Wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap. Rub them together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of hands, between fingers, and under nails. Continue rubbing for at least 20 seconds. Sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice to time yourself. Rinse hands well under running water. Dry your hands using a clean towel, paper towel, and use it to turn off the faucet.
No. 4 MYTH: My kids only eat pre-packaged fruits and veggies for snacks because those snacks don’t need to be washed before they eat them.
FACT: Read your way to food safety.
Giving your kids healthy snacks is a big plus for them. But just because produce is wrapped, it doesn’t mean it’s ready to eat. Read the label of your product to make sure it is says: “ready-to-eat,” “washed,” or “triple washed.” If it does, you’re good to go. If it doesn’t, wash your hands and then rinse the fruits or vegetables under running tap water. Scrub firm items, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. Dry with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce germs that may be present.
Happy Fall, and happy and safe food handling!

Food safety resources available for Colorado produce growers
Source : http://www.thefencepost.com/news/food-safety-resources-available-for-colorado-produce-growers/
By thefencepost.com (Sep 19, 2017)
Colorado produce growers can benefit from a grant the Colorado Department of Agriculture received from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Department has partnered with Colorado State University Extension to offer a variety of resources to help farmers comply with the newly implemented Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.
CDA will use the funding to establish a Produce Safety Program to encourage the safe production of fresh fruits and vegetables and to promote compliance with the requirements of FDA's Produce Safety Rule. The Produce Safety Rule was published as one of several rules under FSMA in November 2015, and the largest farms will need to comply beginning in January 2018.
CDA encourages all farmers, food processors, food transportation businesses, importers and food safety professionals to educate themselves about FSMA, which affects produce growers, food manufacturers (human and animal), food transportation and imported food. The goal of FSMA is to work to prevent food-borne illnesses.
"Education and preparedness for Colorado producers about the Produce Safety Rule is our top priority." said Cristy Dice, Produce Safety Rule Program manager for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. "We are working closely with Colorado State University Extension to provide training and outreach materials to address the specific needs of Colorado's diverse producers."
CDA and CSU will be offering training classes across Colorado in the near future. Educational materials and a training schedule will be available online at http://www.coproducesafety.org. CDA will also be contacting produce farmers to share information about the Produce Safety Rule.
For more information on the FSMA Produce Safety Rule visit: https://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/fsma/ucm334114.htm or http://coproducesafety.org.

Possible Hepatitis A Exposure at World Famous Restaurant in CA
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/possible-hepatitis-a-exposure-at-world-famous-restaurant-in-ca/
By Linda Larsen (Sep 19, 2017)
The San Diego Department of Public Health is advising consumers that if they ate at the World Famous restaurant at 711 Pacific Beach Drive in San Diego, California on seven specific dates, at specific times, they may have been exposed to hepatitis A.
San Diego is battling a huge hepatitis A outbreak. In fact, a public health emergency was declared in San Diego County the first week of September, 2017. Most people sickened are the homeless, but there have been illnesses among people who aren’t in that category. Officials say it’s too early to tell if this case is linked to that current outbreak.
The dates and times of possible exposure are: August 28, 29, and 30, 2017 between 3:00 p and 11:00 pm; September 3 and 4 ,2017 between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm; and September 10 and 11 from 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm. There is no known risk of hepatitis A exposure at the restaurant now or on other dates. The source of the exposure hasn’t been identified.
If you ate at the restaurant before September 5, 2017, it’s too late for a vaccination. You should monitor yourself for the symptoms of this illness. If you do get sick, see your doctor.
Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County public health officer said, “The risk to the public is low, but anyone who ate or had beverages at the restaurant on those dates and times should be aware of the signs and symptoms of hepatitis A. We encourage anyone who has not had the hepatitis A vaccine and those who may have been exposed to contact their health care provider.”
Pharmacies can provide the shot, and anyone who isn’t insured can go to any County public health center. Vaccinations will be given at no cost.
Someone who is infected with this virus is contagious before they develop symptoms. The symptoms of hepatitis A include a fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, lethargy, light clay colored stools, dark urine, pain in the upper right abdomen, and jaundice (yellow eye and skin color).
Some people can be sick for months, while others are usually only sick for a few weeks. Some people may not develop any symptoms at all. Even mildly ill persons are highly infectious.

Hispanics Disproportionately Affected by Papaya Salmonella Outbreak
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/hispanics-disproportionately-affected-by-papaya-salmonella-outbreak/
By Linda Larsen (Sep 19, 2017)
The deadly Salmonella outbreak linked to Maradol papayas imported from Mexico has hit the Hispanic population disproportionately hard. As of last week, at least 235 people in 24 states are sick in this outbreak, which is actually a group of four separate outbreaks caused by eight different strains of Salmonella.
According to the CDC, the percentage of Hispanics in each group ranges from 50% to 94%. The outbreak strains of Salmonella have been found in imported papayas. They match the strains taken from patient isolates.
The outbreaks are separated based on the farms where the papayas were grown. Those farms are the Carica de Campeche farm in Mexico, with papayas contaminated with Salmonella Thompson, Salmonella Kiambu, Salmonella Agona, and Salmonella Gaminara; the Rancho El Ganadero farm in Colima, Mexico, distributed by Caraveo Produce, with the fruit contaminated with Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Infantis; the El Zapotanito farm in La Huerta, Mexico with papayas contaminated with Salmonella Urbana; and papayas from Productores y Exportadores de Carica Papaya de Tecoman y Costa Alegre in Tijuana, Mexico imported by Bravo Produce Inc., contaminated with Salmonella Anatum. All of those papayas have been recalled.
Moreover, the hospitalization rate in this outbreak is very high. The hospitalization rate ranges from 40% to 67%. No official has stated why this is the case, but there could be several reasons. The fruit may have been very contaminated with a lot of bacteria. The bacteria may be resistant to one or more antibiotics. Or the bacteria could be especially virulent.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include fever, diarrhea that may be bloody, vomiting, nausea, and abdominal cramps. Most people get sick within 12 to 72 hours after eating food contaminated with this pathogenic bacteria. If you purchased Maradol papayas imported from Mexico and have experienced these symptoms, please see your doctor.
If you belong to a Hispanic population, or if you know someone who does, please share this information with them. You can find Spanish translations of the CDC’s outbreak coverage at the CDC website.

Brucella Outbreak From K-Bar Dairy Raw Milk Prompts CDC Warning in Seven States
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/brucella-outbreak-from-k-bar-dairy-raw-milk-prompts-cdc-warning-in-seven-states/
By Linda Larsen (Sep 18, 2017)
A health warning for Brucella in Texas’ K-Bar Dairy raw milk has been issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Texas Department of State Health. Public health officials are investigating brucellosis illnesses in as many as seven states.
It is illegal to sell unpasteurized, or raw, milk, across state lines. The milk in question came from K-Bar dairy in Paradise, Texas. Weeks ago, Food Poisoning Bulletin told you about a Brucella outbreak in that state linked to raw milk that hospitalized one woman. Isolates from that patient match antibiotic-resistant Brucella bacteria in samples taken from the dairy’s raw milk. The bacteria is called Brucella RB51, which is rare but causes serious illness.
Officials are warning that anyone who consumed raw milk or raw milk products from K-Bar Dairy between June 1 and August 7 2017, should immediately contact their doctors and get antibiotic treatments. Brucella infections an cause lifelong chronic conditions such as arthritis, heart problems, enlargement of the liver or spleen, and nervous system problems.  Pregnant women can suffer miscarriages, and people with weakened immune systems can become seriously ill if they contract this infection.
Dr. William Bower, team lead for the CDC group that investigates brucellosis said, “It’s very important for people who drank raw milk from this dairy to seek treatment to prevent infection with Brucella RB51. Even if people don’t have any symptoms now, they can develop a chronic infection that can impact their health for years to come.”
Purchase records from the dairy show that people in Texas and others as far away as California and North Dakota have bought products from them. CDC and Texas officials are trying to reach people in more than 800 households known to have purchased K-Bar raw milk. Texas is contacting 170 households; the CDC is trying to contact the remaining 672 households but many didn’t provide contact information.
Government health officials are worried that people who have these products in their home are not aware of this serious health risk. The CDC and Texas Department of State Health Services say that they have received reports about people who drank K-Bar milk or have symptoms consistent with brucellosis caused by RB51 in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Ohio, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.
If you did consume some of these products, tell your doctor that you may have been exposed to RB51. A link on the CDC website will give your doctor information about testing patients for RB51 and reducing the risk of serious complications. The symptoms of brucellosis include, but are not limited to, muscle pain, lasting fatigue, fever, arthritis, depression, and swelling of the testicles.
RB51 is a weakened strain of Brucella that is used to vaccinate young female cattle against infection with more serious strains of that bacteria. But in some rare cases vaccinated cows can shed the bacteria in their milk. Tests on milk from that dairy revealed two cows were infected with Brucella RB51. The only way to get rid of this bacteria is to pasteurize the milk.
The CDC bulletin ends with this statement, “Raw milk and raw milk products are those that have not undergone a process called pasteurization that kills disease-causing germs. CDC recommends that people only drink milk that has been pasteurized to kill germs. Even healthy animals may carry germs that can contaminate milk. There is no substitute for pasteurization to assure that milk is safe to drink.
“The risk of getting sick from drinking raw milk is greater for infants and young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as people with cancer, an organ transplant, or HIV/AIDS. However, healthy people of any age can get very sick if they drink raw milk contaminated with harmful germs.”

Omnichannel ops and IOT
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/09/omnichannel-ops-and-iot/#.WchhXMhJaUl
By LAURA MUSHRUSH (Sep 18, 2017)
IOT prevents mandated data tracking for food retailers from being a logistical nightmare
Editor’s note: This is Part 3 of a special series sponsored by Par Technologies Corp. Read Part 4 on Sept. 25.
With just a few taps on a smartphone, a week’s worth of groceries is ordered for a family and delivered right to their door. For them, their grocery store’s adoption of the omnichannel approach to streamline in-store and online shopping experiences is about convenience and quick service.
For the grocery retailer, however, this move to stay competitive in the market place presents a whole new set of risks and challenges to deliver safe food to customers’ doors.
Where was the food sourced? Has it been continuously kept at the proper temperatures? When is the expiration date? How has the food been handled after returning from a cancelled delivery? When did the order exchange hands from the delivery driver to the customer?
While this may seem like a lot of information to keep track of, it doesn’t even begin to touch the amount of data food retailers need to track to stay in compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
For food companies exceeding $1 million in annual revenue, at least two years of food safety records must be kept on file. If inspectors come knocking, failure to produce them in a reasonable amount of time can result in enforcement actions up to and including suspension of operations.
And it doesn’t stop with the food companies. Shippers and carriers are required to have 12 months of transportation and training records on hand.
Records don’t have to be a logistical nightmare
Paper-based records, which are still an industry standard, have a lot of potential to be a logistical nightmare because of human error and increased labor. However, as technology continues to develop, more food retailers are switching to cloud-based systems, with sensors automatically streaming into the online data base via the Internet of Things, otherwise known as IOT.
While the integration of IOT and the omnichannel approach may seem complex, the process in which they work is straightforward. Wherever and whenever a food retailer wants to start tracking its products in the food chain, sensors can be placed in places such as shipping containers or individual boxes out for delivery to report data back to a centralized location.
The benefits of IOT are twofold. Not only are companies able to efficiently track data essential to an effective food safety plan to protect customers and reduce losses in spoilage, but also utilize IOT in keeping a real-time tab on inventory and other business management points.

The Food-Safety Challenge of Nutritious Food
Source : https://www.qsrmagazine.com/health-wellness/food-safety-challenge-nutritious-food
By Jessie Szalay (Sep 2017)
Products like fresh produce and raw ingredients present a unique set of issues.
Joann Chung often helped her parents with their sushi restaurants. In 2015, Chung and her husband, Derek, opened Pokeatery in San Mateo, California. Preparing raw fish for so many years has made Chung an expert in poke's specialized food-safety requirements.
 “I grew up thinking about food safety,” she says. “It was ingrained in me. I’ve noticed that a lot of poke restaurants are opened by people who don’t have experience with raw fish. That scares me a little bit.”
When working with raw fish, temperature maintenance is paramount, Chung says. While refrigerated, fish should be kept at 39–41 degrees. Pokeatery managers check their equipment and the fish on the line at least every two hours—and even more frequently on hot days. The riskiest time, Chung says, is when the raw fish is being cut because it’s exposed to room temperature. Crewmembers are trained to cut the fish quickly to minimize exposure.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, Americans suffer nearly 50 million cases of foodborne illness each year. “Nearly every perishable ingredient has the potential to develop harmful bacteria if handled improperly,” says Eric Kinniburgh, COO of Bareburger, a New York–based better-burger concept. But some items—especially fresh meat and vegetables popular with healthy quick serves—carry more risks than others. Raw fish and shellfish are among them.
There’s no raw meat at Bareburger, but temperatures never go unmonitored. The casual-dining chain augments staff checks with wireless technology that monitors cold holding temperatures and provides mobile alerts if things change.
At Oklahoma City–based Coolgreens, district manager Angelo Cipollone also requires staff to check the equipment and line temperatures every two hours to ensure that the fresh and often raw ingredients for its salads and flatbreads are safe. The health-forward fast casual maintains three logs, for food preparation, equipment temperatures, and storage. “We keep track of things by noting time and temperature,” Cipollone says. “Even the health inspector has said we only need temperature, but I know this helps guarantee what customers get is safe.”
At vegan food stall and truck Cinnamon Snail in New York City, cooling equipment—including refrigerated trucks—is not only frequently checked for temperature, but also for what is placed inside it. Fresh tofu can spoil if the water it’s submerged in isn’t changed regularly.
The fresh herbs and arugula that the concept depends on for its signature Southeast Asian–inspired tofu and seitan sandwiches and bowls can spoil quickly if placed in the wrong area of a refrigerator, says founder and chef Adam Sobel. Keeping them safe and fresh requires a careful eye, but “herbs lend an irreplaceable flavor profile. I want to bring vegan food to people who aren’t particularly on board with veganism, and I want to blow their minds,” Sobel says.
Cinnamon Snail offers primarily cooked fare because Sobel knows his clientele—often vegan skeptics—are more open to a hearty tempeh burger than a raw pizza. These vegan ingredients may require special preparation. Seitan only keeps for a week unless it’s processed, but once it’s turned into burgers, it can be stored for a month.
According to industry research, fresh produce items that are often eaten raw cause more foodborne illnesses than any other single category of food, says Katy Jones, chief marketing officer of FoodLogiQ, a software provider that helps brands track their food supply chain. Contamination and storage difficulties, as with Sobel’s herbs, can make fresh produce challenging.
One partial solution is sourcing organic produce, Bareburger’s Kinniburgh says. The rigorous environmental standards that organic farmers are held to ensure improper fertilization isn’t used in the soil, he adds.
Cooking ingredients can cut down on food-safety risks because it kills off bacteria on fresh vegetables. But cooking food still requires careful preparation, especially for fresh, unfrozen meats that can harbor bacteria like salmonella.
Sarela Herrada, director of food and beverage at Mediterranean fast casual Cava, says that sourcing raw meat is challenging because it requires immediate processing and use. “It has such a short shelf life. It’s delicate and labor intensive, but we believe it offers a unique culinary experience,” Herrada says.
Cooking the fresh meat as it’s ordered requires more labor but offers food-safety benefits. Bareburger’s meals are also cooked to order, which Kinniburgh says eliminates the need to hold pre-cooked food. “This helps dramatically in reducing unsafe conditions,” he says. Dangerous bacteria don’t have a chance to grow and fester.
Regardless of when it’s cooked, fresh meats can cross-contaminate in unexpected ways. At Coolgreens, free-range chickens are kept in a separate area, and the marinades are used for a 12-hour batch and then thrown out, Cipollone says.
Despite all precautions, operators may deem some ingredients to be too risky to use. The key is to find excellent replacements. For example, after seeing multiple recalls, Cipollone decided alfalfa sprouts—which are delicate and, he says, impossible to wash—were more trouble than they were worth. Coolgreens ultimately substituted in a watermelon radish.
“Never sacrifice the flavor or nutrition profile,” Cipollone says. “It’s easy to say, ‘Let’s just avoid the dangerous products,’ but you have to replace them. Otherwise you’re not going to have much left.”

 

 

 

 

 

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