FoodHACCP Newsletter

Food Safety Job Openings

11/03. Quality Assurance Analyst – Yonkers, NY
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11/03. Vice President of Food Safety - Delano, CA
11/01. Food Safety & QA Spec - Redwood City, CA
11/01. Food Safety Supervisor - NW OH
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10/30. Agricultural Food Safety Auditor - USA
10/30. Food Safety & Facility Manager - Honolulu, HI
10/30. Quality & Food Safety Manager – Tomah, WI

11/06 2017 ISSUE:781


California DPH Says Lead Contamination in Imported Candy a Significant Problem
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Nov 3, 2017)
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has released a report about lead contamination in imported candy. A state law has mandated testing of those products. A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives and conducted at the University of California – San Fransisco (UCSF) found that CDPH “issued more alerts for lead in candy than for the other top three sources of food-borne contamination combined.”
The law that mandated testing was passed in 2006. Before that time, CDPH did not test widely for lead in candy.
In the six years before the law was passed, only 22% of alerts about food contamination were about lead in candy. But after that law was passed, 42% of the food contaminated alerts issued by state officials were for lead in candy. And nearly all of that candy was imported. That is more than the total number of recalls for Salmonella, E. coli, and botulism combined.
The current tolerable lead level in food that is likely to be consumed by children was lowered by the FDA to 0.10 parts per million (PPM) after several case reports of lead-contaminated candy were received. For instance, in 2002, childhood lead poisoning was associated with imported candy. In 2007, an outbreak investigation found food-related sources of lead exposure among children and pregnant women in Seaside in Monterey County. In that last case, some candy sampled had lead levels as high as 2,300 PPM.
The CDC says that no safe blood level in children has been identified. Lead exposure can damage every system in the body. And lead exposure does not have obvious symptoms so often goes unnoticed. There are about half a million U.S. children, ages 1 to 5 with blood lead levels about 5 micrograms per deciliter, the level at which public health officials recommend action be taken.
Lead is a toxic heavy metal. It an cause neurological damage, hearing loss, and developmental delays. As many as 10,000 children in California under the age of six are poisoned by lead every year.
Dr. Margaret Handley, professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at University of California – San Francisco said in a statement, “With this policy change, identifying lead sources is more upstream and community-based. By testing candy and issuing alerts when foods are found to be contaminated, we can identify and remove sources of lead before children become poisoned.”
In the study, scientists obtained CDPH health alerts for the years 2007 to 2014, and from the California Department of Health Services newsroom for alerts that were issued between January 2001 and June 2007. They also obtained data on candies tested in 2o11 and 2012 from the CDPH FDB Food Safety Section.
A total of 164 health alerts were issued for food contamination in California between 2001 and 2014. Of those, 36.6% were issued for lead contamination in foods.
Of the 60 lead-related health alerts issued during this period, 55, or 91.6%, were for imported foods. Almost all of the health alerts for lead-contaminated imported foods were for candy products. Most of the candy came from Mexico, China, and India.
The authors conclude that lead-contaminated candies represent “an important contribution to lead exposures in California.” The number of unique products that were identified presents a challenge for exposure-based testing programs.
Consumption of contaminated foods can immediately result in elevated lead levels, especially in children.

FDA Issues Guidance to Allow “Co-Manufacturers” Additional Time to Implement Certain Supply-Chain Program Requirements
Source :
By Staff (Nov 3, 2017)
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the availability of a guidance designed to give certain co-manufacturers more time to meet supplier approval and verification requirements under three FDA food safety regulations.
Three of the rules created to implement the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act – Preventive Controls for Human Foods, Preventive Controls for Animal Food, and the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs – have requirements for a supply-chain program for certain raw materials and other ingredients. This program is designed to address hazards requiring a supply-chain-applied control.
This guidance is intended for participants in “co-manufacturing” agreements in which a brand owner arranges for a second party to manufacture or process food on its behalf. The rules require co-manufacturers to whom the supply-chain program applies to approve their suppliers of certain raw materials/ingredients and conduct supplier verification activities. While the co-manufacturer is required to approve its suppliers, there is some flexibility in the rules that allows the co-manufacturer to rely on a brand owner’s supplier verification activities.
To meet the requirements of the supply-chain program, the co-manufacturer may need detailed information from the brand owner. Based on input from the food industry, FDA has determined that the industry needs more time to establish new contracts that will allow brand owners and co-manufacturers to share certain information, such as audits of suppliers.
The guidance states that FDA does not intend to take enforcement action for two years against a co-manufacturer that is not in compliance with certain supply-chain program requirements related to supplier approval and supplier verification. This enforcement discretion is conditional on the supplier approval and verification activities being divided between the brand owner and the co-manufacturer.
This guidance, entitled “Supply-Chain Program Requirements and Co-Manufacturer Supplier Approval and Verification for Human Food and Animal Food: Guidance for Industry,” is immediately effective. You may submit electronic or written comments regarding this guidance at any time, as well as find more information, at


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We are so proud that more than 400 attendees successfully finished Basic and Advanced HACCP Trainings through FoodHACCP. All attendees received a HACCP certificate which fulfills all USDA/FSIS and FDA regulatory requirements for HACCP Training


Food safety to keep in mind when using the microwave
Source :
By Jane Hart, Michigan State University Extension and Hailey Szymanski, MSU Dietetic Intern (Nov 1, 2017)
From thawing to cooking, make sure you’re using your microwave safely.
Using a microwave to reheat food has become very popular over the decades, but there are some important things to remember to keep you and your food safe.
Safe containers are important while using a microwave so that your food stays protected from harmful toxins. It is best to reheat food in microwave-safe containers such as glass, ceramic, and plastic containers labeled for microwave oven use. Cover and stir or rotate the microwave-safe container periodically for even heat distribution and allow the moist heat to help destroy harmful bacteria and ensure uniform cooking.
Reheating foods is allowed if the food was properly refrigerated and did not exceed more than 2 hours at room temperature before the food was stored. Be sure to heat the food entirely until it reaches 165°F by checking with a food thermometer. The food must always reach this temperature, even if food quality is diminished in the process. Avoid overcooked foods by adding some water to the dish before placing in the microwave.
Cooking raw meat in the microwave is safe but the food must reach proper temperatures. Raw beef, pork, and lamb should reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit, ground meats should reach 160 F and all poultry should reach 165 F. Use a lid or cooking bag and always rotate the food midway by stirring or rearranging for thorough cooking. Let the food stand for at least 10-15 minutes before consumption to distribute heat evenly and finalize the cooking process. Always use a temperature probe to check the temperature before service.
Thawing food in the microwave is permitted as it provides a quick method for frozen foods to thaw to avoid conditions and times that may maximize bacterial growth. If food is thawed in the microwave, it must be cooked immediately. The use of slow cookers and low temperature ovens for thawing frozen foods may result in favorable temperature for bacterial growth, so these methods should be avoided as well.
Microwave cooking can be safe if the proper precautions are taken. Regardless of what the purpose is, your food will not be safe if it was not handled properly to begin with. Here are a few reminders for safe food handling to prevent a hazardous condition later on:
Always purchase fresh, wholesome foods by looking at the “sell-by” and “use-by” dates
Take purchased foods home immediately to limit time spent in the temperature danger zone
Keep perishable foods no longer than 2 days before cooking or freezing
Raw eggs in shell may be kept up for 3-5 weeks but hard cooked eggs should not exceed 1 week
Never leave raw  or cooked foods outside of the refrigerators for more than 2 hours including preparation and service times
Keep a clean kitchen and always wash hands frequently during food preparations
With these tips, we can keep ourselves healthy and safe! For more information about food safety, contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.
This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

Food safety tips for soup
Source :
By Karen Fifield, Michigan State University Extension (Nov 1, 2017)
Soup is a good way to use up leftovers, but you should be conscious of food safety when storing it.
Soup is so good on a cold day. Soup seems to be a fairly safe and easy item to have on the menu, and all you have to do is add some vegetables, broth, meat, beans or whole grains to make the creation spectacular. Soup can even be a good way to use up many leftovers that may be hanging out in the refrigerator.
It is important to use up leftovers before they reach seven days in the refrigerator. Label and date leftovers each time you store them in the refrigerator so you can easily decide if you can use an item in your soup or if it should be thrown out.
Generally, when soup is made it is in large quantity, this allows for extra portions to be frozen for use later when there isn’t enough time to cook. Soup can be stored safely in the refrigerator for three to four days when cooled properly. You will want to know how many days you have left up to seven days with the left overs. For example, if you have corn in your soup and the date indicates it needs to be thrown out in the next five days you will want to date your soup to be thrown out in the next five days. Or you could freeze it in small portions, remembering to date and a label. When you are ready to use it from the freezer, thaw only what you need to use for the next meal. This allows you to be able to use all the soup instead of throwing it out.
Another important method that needs to be done properly is cooling the soup. It is not safe to store a large pot of food in a refrigerator unless it has been cooled in an ice water bath or an ice paddle has been used to cool it down to 70 degrees Fahrenheit within two hours and then down to 41 F or below within the next four hours. Other ways to help cool the large pot of soup is to separate it out into smaller portions, in a dish no deeper than 2” with a large surface area to provide faster cooling.
No matter how you look at it, soup is a good meal on a cool day and a good way to use leftovers. Michigan State University Extension wants to remind you to always cool foods properly for safe keeping. Storing food correctly keeps it safe to eat.
This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

How to Deal with a Major System Disruption in a Meat Processing Facility
Source :
By Hayriye Cetin-Karaca, Ph.D., and Gene W. Bartholomew, Ph.D.
How to Deal with a Major System Disruption in a Meat Processing Facility
Any comprehensive food production process relies on control programs to ensure food safety and quality. Major interruptions to these processes and programs may cause large economic losses to the producer as well as risks to consumers. Depending on the location of the facility and the type of food processed, control programs go by names such as prerequisite programs (PRPs), Standard Operating Procedures, Critical Control Points (CCPs), preventive controls (PCs), quality control points and Good Manufacturing Practices. Most, if not all, of these programs depend on the infrastructure of the facility for proper implementation, so any compromise to the normal design and functional state of the facility will probably jeopardize one or more of these control programs. Loss of system control probably will impact the safety or quality of any food items in process or stored on-site.
While we should use good design and management systems to lessen the frequency or severity of these perturbations to our control programs, there will be some excursions outside of our control. A process deviation occurs whenever the actual process or a critical factor is less than what is required by the process schedule, for instance, when any operating parameter of a thermal processing system is not met. Causes of deviations may include severe weather or lack of delivery of critical ingredients, power or potable water. The actual list of elements disruptive to our control programs is probably quite lengthy. We believe that planning for these disruptions with appropriate responses and actions is the best way to minimize the impact of a disruption. But if the potential inventory of calamities is quite lengthy, the planning process we encourage likewise becomes extremely burdensome. One way to deal with this apparent stalemate is to take a page out of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points process—brainstorm to come up with a list of possible interruptions to your operation and then evaluate each one based on the likelihood of occurrence and its severity.
Because the list of potential interruptions to the myriad food production processes is extensive, we can neither generate this list nor discuss how to adequately plan and react to all the possibilities in a single article. Instead, we will provide some examples of disruptions that we have experienced in the meat and poultry processing industry and a framework for development of your own road map. Before we proceed, we advise the following caution: Never jeopardize employee safety when planning for or responding to a facility emergency. There will undoubtedly be some circumstances when the facility is unsafe for normal worker activity, such as structural building issues or lack of light. Employees need to be equipped with appropriate safety gear before they enter areas within the plant to do monitoring, remediation or other activities. In some cases, food items in process or finished product stored on-site will have to be sacrificed to protect employees.
Case 1. Loss of Potable Water
While perhaps taken for granted in most developed countries, potable water is a critical resource for almost all food processors, and the means with which it can become compromised are numerous. Let’s consider the case where facility water is provided by a municipality or other third-party supplier. Some causes of water contamination or loss of potability include failure to properly disinfect at the treatment facility, failure to maintain integrity at an intermediate storage vessel, heavy rains and subsequent flooding, or a break in the water delivery system. Contamination may also occur within a food plant by a break in the internal water supply system, siphoning of nonpotable water into the supply system, inappropriate use or overuse of chemicals in boiler water, etc. An assessment of how long the potability of water is lost is important, because any product not in a finished state prior to that time may be in jeopardy. This should become apparent if you consider the myriad ways that water is used in food facilities, from the obvious use as an ingredient or rinsing agent to the less obvious but equally important use as a solvent for hand and equipment washing. Because pinpointing the exact time that water may have become contaminated is difficult, some finished product may have to be held for evaluation and disposition. In any case, each facility should have, in writing, a clear procedure for dealing with water contamination issues that engineering, maintenance, operations and food safety or quality have developed, because eventually you will need it.
If your facility is prenotified of a compromise in either the treatment of water supplied or a disruption in the delivery system, there are some things you can do to prevent major loss of products and plant downtime. The plant must recognize the disruptive character of a loss of potable water and accept it—often the best first reaction to this notification is to cease all production and water use before the disruption actually occurs and continue the shutdown conservatively until well after the system has been restored to normal. If there is a shut-off valve where the supply enters the facility, turn it off completely before the service interruption (if not, see the situation described next). After you have been notified of an acceptable return of potability, identify the water line that you can drain closest to where the supply enters your facility and let it run for at least 10 minutes to flush out any stagnant or untreated water. We recommend collecting a sample of this water at the end of the flushing period and testing it to compare with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or other microbiological regulatory requirements for potable water (for EPA, this equals nondetectability for total coliforms in 100 mL and a recommendation of less than 500 heterotrophic plate counts per mL[1]). This testing will take at least 48 hours to complete, so if you start production before these results are issued, product should be placed on hold. You must consult with a processing authority on product disposition if either result is unacceptable.
If your facility is operating when it has become known there is or has been a potential loss of potable water, plant personnel must make a reasonable but conservative effort to estimate when contamination could have started and what product or ingredients in the facility may have been impacted. These materials must be quarantined until a processing authority or other knowledgeable person can judge their suitability for use. This will include any work in progress. Production should immediately cease, and the management team should get together and determine a course of action. The exception to stopping all production would be situations where there is a heat step or similar process underway that requires a water shower or rinse after completion. This process can continue to completion, but all said rinsed or exposed product must also be put on hold. Discussions also need to begin immediately with the water supplier if the failure occurs outside your facility, because your facility will remain idle until potability is restored and customers are expecting product.
If the water supply has become compromised, it is critical that you assume all supply lines in your facility have become contaminated and require some type of decontamination. While you are waiting for restoration of a safe supply of water, plant engineering or maintenance should inventory all sources of water throughout the plant, as they will all have to be flushed at some point. These sources may or may not be obvious—handwashing sinks, drinking fountains, shower lines in cook systems and coolant water are some that might get missed. When you have been assured that potable water is now available at your water supply’s main entrance into the facility, you will need to disinfect all internal plumbing. Because virtually all municipal water entering our plants in the U.S. is treated at the supplier with chlorine, we add excess chlorine (shocking) to water entering the facility after a disruption to disinfect internal piping. Our objective is to add up to 100 ppm free chlorine and circulate that through all piping in the facility. We require a 3-hour residence time to complete the disinfection process, and we make sure all plumbing gets filled with this shock solution. Other disinfectants, such as chloramines or chlorine dioxide, can be substituted for chlorine or sodium hypochlorite. This is not a simple process, and engineering or maintenance will have to determine how to access the main water supply and add chlorine into it while all the pipes are flushed. Once the shock treatment has had sufficient time to disinfect the system, all water lines must be flushed until the free chlorine falls to less than 4 ppm. This may take some time, so prepare accordingly and stock up on test kits. It is also a prudent practice to test water for microbiological contamination, as described above, for heterotrophic plate count and presence of coliforms. If you are willing to take the business risk and can hold all finished product, you may start production while awaiting test completion.
Case 2. Interruption in the Cooking Process
We have witnessed many instances where cooking processes have been temporarily halted, often caused by a loss of steam in a facility, a general or localized electrical power outage or a mechanical breakdown of the cooking device. In addition to potentially affecting quality attributes of food being processed, this stoppage may lead to serious food safety concerns. Not only is there the obvious failure to meet a CCP or PC because product does not reach a critical limit (CL), but there may also be an opportunity for pathogen or spoilage organism growth while the food remains at sublethal temperatures. Of particular concern in the meat and poultry industry is enterotoxin production by growth of Staphylococcus aureus and growth of the spore-forming bacterium Clostridium perfringens. Both organisms will grow in the general range of 10–46 °C (50–115 °F), with C. perfringens able to tolerate slightly higher temperatures. The staphylococcal enterotoxin is heat stable, so subsequent heat treatments at normal temperatures will not destroy it and it will remain a hazard. C. perfringens, if given enough time to grow and sporulate, will form heat-resistant spores that are unaffected by most cooking temperatures below retort. The rapid growth of spoilage organisms during this warm period will lead to detrimental product characteristics, even if the organisms are eliminated by an eventual heat kill step.
First, let’s deal with cooking processes that are relatively short in duration, as these systems tend to be simpler by design, which facilitates product disposition. If product moves via a conveyor quickly through a heating zone or is a fluid pumped through a heat exchanger, and the heat source is lost in either case, product that continues to move through these systems is undercooked and will contaminate any surfaces it contacts downstream. The system needs to be shut down at this point, including all conveyors and pumps, and all product must be removed from the processing equipment. If partially cooked product can be captured and rapidly chilled to less than or equal to 4 °C (40 °F), it can be put back through the cooking system once sanitary conditions have been restored and the heat delivery mechanism is functioning properly. If the product cannot be easily captured and chilled, volumes will be relatively small and it is safer and more economical to just discard it. In the case where the pumps and conveyors are also without power, all material within the ineffective heat zone will probably have to be discarded once it is safe to remove it from the equipment. In all cases, wherever undercooked product comes in contact with handling equipment on the fully cooked side, all of that equipment will have to be cleaned and sanitized. After all associated equipment has been sanitized and power or function has been restored to the heat section, you can go through a normal start-up process, although initial temperature monitoring to check on CL compliance should be more frequent to ensure the system is back to standard conditions.
For longer cooking processes, whether in a continuous manner or in a static batch, the process is probably complicated by the economic value of affected product and an inability to easily remove it from the cooking device. If product can be easily retrieved and has not been heated above roughly 18 °C (65 °F), it is acceptable to quickly chill as mentioned previously, assuming you can do this on the raw side. Once power is restored, the product can be placed back in the oven and cooking resumed. We have many large-batch cookhouses where quickly moving product out to a raw-side cooler during a cooking failure is impractical. To help facilitate a response to loss of cooking system function at the plant level, we have developed a decision tree, shown in Figure 1, which we have given to smokehouse operators to follow. This decision matrix is based primarily on the possibility of pathogen growth when product fails to reach lethal temperatures in an appropriate time interval. We have used computer modeling to predict worst-case scenarios for growth of both S. aureus (and its enterotoxin) and C. perfringens. We recommend using either the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pathogen Modeling Program (PMP)[2] or ComBase’s Predictive Models.[3] As is evident in our decision tree, it is imperative that time and temperature parameters are observed and recorded so that appropriate Hazard Analyses can be completed. If temperatures remain above 52 °C (we use a conservative figure of 54 °C), neither pathogen will grow and will probably lose viability, so there is no risk to product safety even though it has not yet reached the CL. If product temperatures are below 52 °C during the downtime, then growth of either pathogen to hazardous levels may occur given sufficient time.
We need to make some well-founded assumptions at this point, because we normally lack adequate information concerning initial levels of pathogens and their growth responses to changing and unknown temperatures. We have conducted many internal studies measuring the prevalence of S. aureus and C. perfringens in our raw meat and poultry materials and have never measured either organism at higher than 5 × 102 CFU/g. For either organism to apparently cause illness, required levels in foods are about 1 × 105 CFU/g.[4,5] To help our operators make conservative decisions until the information can be reviewed by a processing authority, we use the time it takes for S. aureus or C. perfringens to increase by 2 logs at the maximum growth temperature, plus a reasonable lag period. The models cited predict this is at least 2.5 hours. This means that product that is exposed to suboptimal cooking temperatures for 2.5 hours or less is safe to then continue cooking, as insufficient time has elapsed for enterotoxin formation or generation of high enough numbers of C. perfringens spores to cause illness. If the interruption to the cooking process lasts longer than 2.5 hours, then product must be put on hold after cooking and chilling are completed for a process authority to review the data and, when necessary, conduct end-product testing for staphylococcal enterotoxin or C. perfringens counts to determine product disposition. Consideration should also be given to organoleptic deterioration of product through either spoilage organism growth or excessive heat effects.
Case 3. Loss of Refrigeration
No matter what type of food product is being produced in a facility, refrigeration is a significant component of the food safety and quality process. Depending on the situation, interruption of refrigeration caused by a power outage or breakdown of the cooling system may occur, affecting a single department/area or the entire processing plant. Although backup generators with the capacity to operate critical equipment such as refrigeration and freezer units, pumps and safety lighting are lifesavers, in most cases, these function strictly as a short-term substitute. An interruption in refrigeration may lead to the growth of spoilage organisms, pathogens and toxins in products that normally are under temperature control. For instance, inadequate cold storage or cooling can allow spores of Clostridium botulinum and C. perfringens to germinate, resulting in vegetative cells multiplying to hazardous levels. Both organisms will grow in the range of 10–46 °C (50–115 °F) and produce heat-resistant spores. S. aureus is another pathogen of concern that produces a toxin when growth is not controlled by adequate refrigeration. Rapid growth of spoilage organisms during this inadequate cooling period will lead to detrimental product quality and sensory issues.
We have facilities that produce both fully cooked items and some that have no kill step in their processes. In either case, their incoming ingredients are often temperature sensitive and must be kept below 7 °C (45 °F) during storage and processing to prevent outgrowth of pathogens and spoilage organisms. If loss of refrigeration is limited to a single room or area, we first assess how long the area, and more importantly the product, will remain below 7 °C if left undisturbed. If refrigerated items are in large totes or vats, or stacked on pallets, they will hold temperature for a long period if the room temperature itself does not climb appreciably. Constant monitoring of surface temperatures is necessary. If you are unsure how long the loss of refrigeration will last, it is usually a simple matter to move these materials to another area that still has adequate refrigeration. This process should be monitored closely to prevent contamination of raw materials and documented. If no other refrigerated areas are available to use as a substitute holding area, we will bring refrigerated trailers on-site and use them as temporary storage coolers. Again, this must be carefully monitored, and we set up a frequent check of trailer temperatures to ensure the trailers are operating properly. Any food processing facility should have a list of vendors that can supply trailers in an emergency because time will be of the essence. Another option we have pursued is to bring in dry ice (not wet ice) and add to combos or vats to maintain low product temperatures. You can follow any of these suggestions if you lose refrigeration in any finished-product coolers as well, whether the items are fully cooked or not.
The situation we just described is rather straightforward and the remediation measures can be completed quickly. It might be another matter entirely if you lose refrigeration to an entire facility or to a critical area that impedes processes upstream or downstream. For instance, if your process requires rapid chilling through use of chilled showers or blast cells after a cook step, and the function of either is lost, the effects on product safety and quality must be carefully assessed. From a product safety perspective, the main concern would be any spores that have survived the cooking process and are routinely controlled by rapid chilling. In the absence of rapid chilling, extensive product testing for any spore-forming organisms associated with your product will be necessary before release. There are also quality issues to consider, either through growth of spoilage organisms that survived the lethality step or excessive heat leading to loss of organoleptic or nutritional characteristics. If refrigeration to the entire facility is lost for short periods, some of the methods to deal with product mentioned in the previous paragraph may help. When we lose cooling for more than one day, we prioritize dealing with finished product on-site and getting it to either refrigerated trailers or an outside cold-storage facility. Once that is handled, plant personnel will have to manage work in process. Typically, any food items requiring refrigeration will be a total loss after one day without refrigeration and should be removed from the facility. Prior to startup after refrigeration is restored, it is usually necessary to completely clean and sanitize holding coolers and chilled shower systems as they often rely on cold temperatures to delay less than daily or weekly cleaning. And don’t forget about incoming raw ingredients that need refrigeration. These shipments should be canceled or delayed as best as possible.
Planning for major disruptions in plant processes is critical to minimize financial costs to the facility and to protect consumers. These disruptions will happen; when they do, the frenzied activity that results without proper planning is not the best situation for making decisions that are wide reaching. We are not suggesting that you spend a lot of time planning for a catastrophe, but instead focus on disruptions that are likely to hit major programs and utilities. This planning begins with an analysis of all programs like PRPs that form the foundation for your food safety and quality plans. First, ask what hazards these programs help control and in their absence, or if they lose effectiveness, what the likely outcome is. Can you identify backup plans before needed, or even better, can you design the system to be more robust so it is less likely to fail? Once you have a list of programs that are at risk, and you understand the consequences of losing that function, it is time to write a procedure that should mitigate most, if not all, of the harm this interruption will cause. It is equally important to assign responsibilities to individuals so it is clear to everyone what their role will be. There is another reward for the plants that undertake this risk analysis procedure: If you address this task in depth, you will find a deeper level of understanding of your process and will make improvements to it even without ever going through a disruption.
Finally, every response to a facility emergency should ultimately lead to a postmortem review of the incident. This postmortem should include the following:
1.    Discovery of the system interruption: Was it timely?
2.    Documentation of the events: Were all needed records maintained?
3.    If a plan was in place prior to the event, was it followed?
4.    Was product handled properly and conditions restored promptly?
5.    Was there a way to prevent the disruption?
6.    Is it likely that future disruptions will be similar to this one?
7.    Were customers notified in a timely manner and market impacts minimized?
8.    If your plant is one of many in a company, have you shared learnings from this experience?  
Hayriye Cetin-Karaca, Ph.D., is a food microbiologist in the food safety and quality department of Smithfield Foods.
Gene W. Bartholomew, Ph.D., is the senior corporate director of food safety with Smithfield Foods.
4. Mor-Mur, M and J Yuste. 2010. “Emerging Bacterial Pathogens in Meat and Poultry: An Overview.” Food Bioprocess Technol 3:24.
5. Schelin, J et al. 2011. “The Formation of Staphylococcus aureus Enterotoxin in Food Environments and Advances in Risk Assessment.” Virulence 2(6):580–592.

FSN Briefly
Source :
Transcontinental bat — California shellfish harvest ban — Food irradiation review in Europe
Every hour of every day people around the world are living with and working to resolve food safety issues. Here is a sampling of current headlines for your consumption, brought to you today with the support of
The international radura symbol, left, varies slightly from the version used in the U.S., at right.
EU urged to update irradiation regs
Ionizing radiation can be used to sanitize food, killing bacteria like Salmonella, Camplyobacter and E. coli, but the European Union has inconsistent rules across its member states on the process. That needs to change, according to the International Irradiation Association (IIA).
“Europe was a leader in food irradiation research and commercial applications until the late 1990s. As the yearly reports of the European Commission (EC) show, the quantities of food being irradiated in the EU have declined substantially since the European Directives on irradiation of food and food ingredients, 1999/2/EC and 1999/3/EC entered into force,” according to comments the IIA filed earlier this month as part of a review of the directives.
Dried aromatic herbs, spices, vegetable seasoning, and even frog’s legs contribute to an average of 6,000 tons of food irradiated in Europe each year since 2007. However, the Panel on Gamma and Electron Irradiation said that the European Directives are out of date and do not reflect current approaches to international regulation of food irradiation.
The IIA wants a complete revision of the European Directives on irradiation of food.
Additional feedback from the International Irradiation Association, as well as the Evaluation Initiative roadmap include additional details.
Sonoma County mussels still quarantined for PSP
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced the end date of the statewide annual quarantine on sport-harvested mussels as of midnight Tuesday, except for Sonoma County.
Although paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins remain at low or undetectable levels along the rest of the California coast, mussels from Sonoma County contain dangerous levels of PSP toxins. PSP is a form of nervous system poisoning, making the infected mussels unsafe to eat.
Neither cooking nor freezing destroys the poison. It is not possible with visual inspection to determine if an area of water, or the shellfish in it, is contaminated, according to public health officials. The toxin can only be detected with laboratory analysis.
“The annual quarantine on sport-harvested mussels, which typically runs May 1 through Oct. 31, is intended to protect the public from shellfish poisoning caused by marine biotoxins,” according to CDPH’s statement Tuesday. “There have been no reports of shellfish-related poisonings in California during this quarantine period.”
Bat found in bagged salad traveled across U.S.
When two Florida residents found partial remains of a bat carcass while sharing a bag of prepackaged Fresh Express salad earlier this year, they likely had no idea the animal had traversed the continent with their leafy greens.
However, federal investigators determined it was a Mexican free-tailed bat, found in the Sourhwest United States, but not in the Southeast.
“Further investigation determined that the bat most likely came in contact with the salad material in the fields, during the cutting and harvesting of greens, before being sent to a processing plant in Georgia,” according to a report fro the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Bats are known to carry rabies virus, but the virus wasn’t detected in the remains of the animal found in the bagged salad. The bat’s cranium was intact, and the virus does not survive more than a few days outside a living host.
After being notified of the investigation, Walmart removed the lot of prepackaged salad from all store locations on April 5. Fresh Express, the prepackaged salad supplier, recalled the affected lot of salads on April 8.

Food hygiene’s dirty secret
Source :
By Paul Jakeway | Director | Deb (Nov 1, 2017)
Food and beverage companies could be putting themselves at severe risk of suffering a food safety incident, without even knowing it, potentially leading to lawsuits and ruinous fines. Deb’s Paul Jakeway explains further.
Estimates from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) reveal that roughly 5. 5 million people in the UK are affected by foodborne illnesses each year. These illnesses (more commonly known as food poisoning) can develop from a number of sources, such as undercooked meat that harbours potentially dangerous bacteria or food that is meant to be refrigerated, but has been left out for a lengthy amount of time.
Cross-contamination is another common cause of food poisoning, occurring when bacteria and viruses transfer onto food from contaminated surfaces, equipment or other food. People can also be a major source of cross-contamination – usually transferring contaminants via their hands.
Understanding the threat

Two types of bacteria which present a risk are Campylobacter and Listeria. Campylobacter is considered to be responsible for more than 280,000 cases of food poisoning each year. According to the FSA, Campylobacter is likely to be responsible for more than 100 deaths a year, costing the UK economy about £900 million.

Outbreak traced to puppies in 13th month; new states involved
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By Coral Beach (Oct 31, 2017)
Although officials with Petland Inc. say any dog can be infected with Campylobacter, 93 percent of victims in an ongoing, 15-state outbreak had contact with Petland puppies before becoming ill.
In an outbreak update Monday, federal officials reported a dozen more people have been confirmed in the outbreak since Oct. 3, bringing the total to 67. No deaths have been reported, but almost a third of the victims, 27 percent, have required hospitalization, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Whole genome sequencing, which provides so-called DNA fingerprints of pathogens, has identified the outbreak strain of Campylobacter in victims and puppies. The laboratory tests show bacteria isolated from human and canine samples is resistant to a variety of first-line antibiotics, including azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, clindamycin, erythromycin, nalidixic acid, telithromycin, tetracycline, gentamicin and florfenicol.
“Antibiotic resistance may be associated with increased risk of hospitalization, development of a bloodstream infection, or treatment failure in patients,” according to the CDC update, which urged physicians to be on the lookout for Campylobacter symptoms and determine treatment in the context of this antibiotic-resistant outbreak.
The most recent victim’s symptoms began Oct. 13, according to CDC. The first case in the 13-month outbreak was identified in a person who became ill in September 2016. Additional victims may not yet be included in the total case count because of the weeks-long lag time between the onset of symptoms and when lab results are reported to public health officials.
Victim count
To view a larger version of the map, please click on the image.
As of Monday, the confirmed victims are:
•18 Petland employees;
•44 people who either recently purchased a puppy from Petland, visited a Petland store, or live in/visited a home with a puppy sold by Petland;
•4 people who reported contact with puppies from other sources; and
•1 person who had a laboratory-confirmed infection and did not report any puppy exposure.
Despite the fact that vast majority of confirmed victims have epidemiological links to Petland puppies, the pet store chain’s official response has been to point to other possible sources of the Campylobacter. As of Monday night, the company had not updated outbreak information on it’s website since posting a news release Oct. 3.
Petland’s position
“Today the CDC posted an update announcing they have expanded their investigation and confirmed they have found campylobacter in puppies sources other than Petland,” the company said in the Oct. 3 news release. “The CDC’s expanded investigation resulted in cases found in humans in Utah, Wyoming, New Hampshire and Maryland. These are states where Petland has no store locations.
“Petland has been able to provide traceback for any puppy purchased as requested by the CDC, thus making sense for CDC and Petland to work together to conduct testing. However, more than 98 percent of people obtain their puppies from other sources, including shelters, rescues, friends, online and through local advertising. Petland is therefore pleased that the CDC is expanding its investigation.”
The 98 percent statistic cited by Petland’s corporate management is for all people who buy puppies in the United States and not specific to the outbreak victims.
Public health investigators in Ohio identified the outbreak earlier this year and alerted the CDC and the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. On Sept. 11 the CDC posted its initial outbreak investigation report. At that point, the outbreak included 39 victims in seven states.
Advice to consumers
The CDC recommends that adults always supervise very young children when they are around puppies or any other animals. Other advice includes:
•Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching puppies or picking up their poop;
•Make sure children wash properly after touching puppies or any other animals; and
•Work with your veterinarian to keep your animals healthy and prevent diseases.

Halloween Food Safety Tips
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By Linda Larsen (Oct 31, 2017)
It’s Halloween, and parents should know about food safety tips to protect their children. These are offered by Jacquelyn Arnold with the Shelby County Health Department in Alabama.
Halloween pumpkin
Make sure that your kids have eaten a snack or light meal before they go out trick-or-treating. They shouldn’t snack while they are out, because you need to inspect the treats they are given before they eat them.
Tell your children not to accept – and especially, not to eat – anything that isn’t commercially wrapped. The kids should wait until they get home and you have checked the candy before they take a bite. Always discard any homemade treats unless you are absolutely sure they are from someone you know and trust.
Inspect the commercially wrapped treats for any signs of tampering. They may include discoloration, an unusual appearance, tiny pinholes, or tears in the wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious. And discard any treats with open or torn wrapping.
Consider given alternative treats for health reasons. You may give out packages or crackers with cheese or peanut butter, fruit leather, mini boxes of raisins, hot chocolate mix packages, or microwaveable popcorn. The kids may not be happy, though!
If you are having a Halloween party, there are food safety issues to consider too. If you are having caterers make the food for your party, work with a reputable, licensed facility. Have properly working chafing dishes to keep hot food hot, and chilled serving dishes or ice to keep cold foods cold. Remember that the danger zone for bacterial growth is between 40°F and 140°F.
Make sure that there is plenty of room in your fridge to store cold food before, during, and after the party. If the fridge is too crowded, store and cool drinks in coolers with plenty of ice. Wash fresh vegetables and fruit before serving.
If you are serving juice or cider at your party, make sure it is pasteurized to kill pathogenic bacteria. Products that have not been treated and are therefore raw will say so on the label.
Have a happy Halloween! And stay safe.

Breeding resistant chickens for improved food safety
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By Jan Suszkiw (Oct 31, 2017)
A new test developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in College Station, Texas, could make it easier to breed pathogen-resistant chickens.
The test identifies roosters whose blood contains naturally high levels of two key chemicals, cytokines and chemokines. These chemicals mobilize the birds' innate immune response, according to ARS microbiologist Christi Swaggerty, in ARS's Food and Feed Safety Research Unit.
Using the new test, commercial poultry breeders can single out roosters that have a strong immune response and use them to selectively breed a more robust flock. Such resistance, especially during the birds' first week of life, may lower costs related to animal well-being and food safety.
Protecting chickens from pathogens involves sanitation, vaccination, biosecurity and use of antibiotics and other medications. But some chickens have an especially robust and efficient immune response and can resist pathogens, notes Swaggerty.
The researchers used the test to select roosters for breeding a line of resistant broilers. They then exposed the resistant broilers to several pathogens. They compared the resistant group to a group of susceptible broilers bred from roosters with low cytokine and chemokine levels.
The published results showed that the susceptible broilers had more pathogens and signs of infection than the resistant group. Ultimately, such resistance could mean fewer pathogens remaining on birds at the processing plant and improved consumer safety, Swaggerty notes.
Swaggerty and her colleagues study the genetics of chickens' resistance to foodborne disease-causing pathogens, such as Salmonella and Campylobacter. Some species of these two bacteria together cause 2 to 3 million U.S. cases of foodborne illness in consumers and 450-500 deaths annually.
Another poultry disease, coccidiosis, is caused by a single-celled parasite known as Eimeria. In the U.S., coccidiosis inflicts annual production losses of up to $800 million, making this intestinal disease a significant threat to nearly 9 billion U.S. meat-type birds.
 Explore further: Foodborne bacteria can cause disease in some breeds of chickens after all
More information: C. L. Swaggerty et al. Selection for pro-inflammatory mediators produces chickens more resistant to Campylobacter jejuni, Poultry Science (2017). DOI: 10.3382/ps/pew465
Provided by: Agricultural Research Service search and more info website

Listeria Right Now: Innovations in Food Safety
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By Staff (Oct 30, 2017)
Listeria Right Now: Innovations in Food Safety
This special BONUS episode of Food Safety Matters focuses on Listeria Right Now, an environmental Listeria test offering molecular-level accuracy, with no enrichment and a total time to results of under one hour. This innovative food safety product was introduced at the annual IAFP meeting this year, with many people remarking that it was a “game changer”.
Because of the pervasiveness of Listeria in the environment, the risk that Listeria can be introduced into a food processing facilities can happen at any time. The goal of an environmental monitoring program is to verify the effectiveness of contamination control programs, identify microbial harborage sites, and ensure that corrective actions have eliminated organisms such as Listeria from the plant.
With the intent of helping to control this ubiquitous pathogen in food processing facilities, Neogen has developed a one-hour Listeria test that features the total elimination of the enrichment process. Neogen’s new Listeria Right Now test is fast and flexible enough to be used in a “seek and destroy” mode, as well as to identify vectors and sources of contamination.  
To understand the practical applications of this innovative new pathogen test and the possibilities it brings to food processing and production we spoke with Jim Topper, a senior marketing development manager with Neogen.

Salmonella Outbreak Associated with Raw Tuna: How Does it Get Contaminated?
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Oct 30, 2017)
A Salmonella paratyphi outbreak associated with raw tuna or salmon was reported by the Clark County Health Department in Washington state on October 26, 2017. At least 30 people in 7 states have been confirmed ill with the outbreak strain of Salmonella. All are sick with the same strain.
This outbreak was gradually uncovered during the month of September and into October, 2017. Out of fourteen people who were interviewed by officials, eleven said they ate raw seafood before they got sick. That’s a much higher percentage than the number of people who eat sushi in a week in the general population, and is considered epidemiologic evidence of a probable cause.
Relish Foods recalled raw frozen tuna loins and tuna steaks last week, and Salmonella was found on those products. But the strain of Salmonella on the seafood did not match the outbreak strain taken from patients. The states where the ill persons live are Washington, Oregon, Texas, Florida, California, Hawaii, and New Jersey. The recalled tuna was sold in Washington, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, and Texas, so there is some overlap.
So how does raw tuna or salmon become contaminated with pathogenic bacteria? It actually happens more often than you think.
In 2015, a Salmonella outbreak linked to frozen, raw tuna used for sushi sickened 65 people in 11 states and hospitalized 11 of them. And in 2012, a Salmonella outbreak linked to raw, scraped tuna sickened 425 people in 27 state and the District of Columbia.
Tuna does not naturally carry Salmonella bacteria, unlike cows and chickens, so it has to come from somewhere else. The tuna in the 2012 outbreak was imported from India. The contamination there could have occurred in polluted waters, or in a processing plant. It could also be contaminated anywhere along the supply chain. Contaminated imported raw seafood have caused other outbreaks, including the huge hepatitis A outbreak in Hawaii last year that sickened 291 people.
Another factor may be the way the tuna is processed. Tuna used to make sushi is often deep frozen to kill parasites so it can be eaten raw. But the fish may be frozen, thawed, and refrozen several times. And every time the flesh goes through that process, more bacteria can grow. Freezing does not kill Salmonella bacteria.
So how do you protect yourself against illnesses if you choose to eat raw fish? First of all, don’t eat raw seafood or meats if you fall into a high risk group: the elderly, people with chronic illnesses, those with compromised immune systems, and pregnant women. Second, if you do choose to eat raw fish, make sure the restaurant or vendor you buy from has impeccable standards and hygiene. It is, though, possible to get sick even at a very expensive restaurant.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include fever, abdominal cramps, diarrhea that may be bloody, nausea, and vomiting. Most people get sick within a few hours to a few days after eating a contaminated food. And most do recover on their own without seeing a doctor. But others may develop dehydration or sepsis and require hospitalization.
If you have eaten raw tuna or salmon in the past month and have been experiencing these food poisoning symptoms, see your doctor. Your case may help solve this outbreak. And since Salmonella infections can lead to serious complications later on, your doctor should know about this illness now.



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