FoodHACCP Newsletter



Food Safety Job Openings

11/17. Product Quality, Sr Program Mgr - Austin, TX
11/17. QA/QC Technician – McCarran, NV
11/17. Quality Assurance Manager – Anacortes, WA
11/15. Regional Food & Safety Spec - Baltimore, MD
11/15. Food Safety and Quality Manager – Kent, WA
11/15. Quality Assurance Technician – Seattle, WA
11/13. Regional Food Safety & Qual Mgr – Franklin, MA
11/13. Food Safety & Qual Supervisor – New York, NY
11/13. Food Safety QA Specialist – Emeryville, CA

11/20 2017 ISSUE:783

 

Ready-to-eat chicken wraps recalled for allergens, misbranding
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/11/ready-to-eat-chicken-wraps-recalled-for-allergens-misbranding/#.WhJbUkpl-Ul
By NEWS DESK (Nov 17, 2017)
Missa Bay LLC  in Swedesboro, NJ, is recalling 46 pounds of chicken wrap products due to misbranding and undeclared allergens, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
The product contains peanut and soy, known allergens, which are not declared on the product label.  The ready-to-eat (RTE) chicken wraps were produced on Nov. 8.  The recalled products are:
2-pound packages containing 4 8-ounce. trays of “Fresh Prep’D brand Buffalo Style Ranch Wrap Kit” with a “USE BY” date of 11/21/17.
The recalled products bear establishment number “P-18502B” below the USDA mark of inspection on the label. They were shipped to retail locations in Indiana and New Jersey.
The problem was discovered on Nov. 15, 2017, by Missa Bay’s quality assurance supervisor while performing verification activities. After discovering the mistake, the firm immediately notified FSIS.
There have not yet been any confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.
Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.
FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website.

E. coli O157:H7 Lawsuit Initiated Against Damsy Restaurant by Pritzker Hageman
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/e-coli-o157h7-lawsuit-damsy-restaurant/
By Linda Larsen(Nov 16, 2017)
Pritzker Hageman law firm has initiated an E. coli O157:H7 lawsuit against Damsy Restaurant at 405 1st Avenue Southwest in Rochester, Minnesota. The complaint alleges that a child was sickened with a Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infection after eating at that facility on or about September 14, 2017.
This outbreak was discovered when officials from Olmsted County Public Health Services and the Minnesota Department of Health began investigating a cluster of genetically indistinguishable E. coli O157:H7 infections in Rochester, Minnesota in late September 2017. At least eight confirmed cases have been identified in this outbreak, and more cases are suspected.
When this outbreak cluster was identified, officials from the Olmsted County Public Health Service inspected the restaurant. The facility was shut down at that time, according to documents that will be filed with the court. The lawsuit states that “no particular food item was associated with the outbreak. Widespread cross-contamination of raw meats and violation of sanitary food preparation standards in the kitchen was suspected.”
E. coli infections are reportable illnesses. Information about the DNA of bacteria causing these illnesses is stored in PulseNet, a nationwide database of bacterial isolates and samples. When illnesses caused by genetically similar bacteria are noticed in an area during the same time frame, officials suspect an outbreak.
According to the initiated E. coli O157:H7 lawsuit, the family ate “all or parts of a chicken sandwich, beef sandwich, falafel, hummus, fried and pita bread” during their visit. The next day, the father and his wife noticed that their child was suffering from severe diarrhea.
The child was taken to the doctor on September 18, 2017 when her condition did not improve. Doctors could not diagnose an illness and told the parents to “continue pushing fluids” and to return if she did not get better.
The child’s diarrhea then turned bloody. She was taken to St. Mary’s Emergency Room in Rochester on September 22, 2017. The doctors referred her to the Mayo Clinic for admission. Doctors were concerned that she was in kidney failure. Children under the age of 5 are more likely to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure that can cause seizures, strokes, and death when they are sickened with a STEC infection.
She tested positive for E. coli O157:H7 while in the hospital. Public health officials determined that she was part of the Damsy Restaurant E. coli O157:H7 outbreak. The child was discharged from the Mayo Clinic several days after admission, and is still recovering.
The lawsuit alleges that Damsy restaurant “manufactured, distributed, marketed, and sold food that was contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, a deadly pathogen.” Minnesota food law prohibits these actions.
If you or someone you know ate at Damsy Restaurant in Rochester in late September and have experienced the symptoms of an E. coli infection, it’s important to see your doctor. A study published in the British Medical Journal has found that people who have recovered from this infection may have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, heart problems, and kidney problems later in life.
The symptoms of an E. coli infection include diarrhea which is usually bloody and/or watery, a mild fever, and severe and painful abdominal cramps. Most people start getting sick a few days after exposure to this dangerous bacteria.
If this infection is improperly treated with antibiotics, or if the patient is young, a complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) may develop. Symptoms of this condition include little or no urine output, lethargy, easy bruising, a skin rash, and bleeding from the nose or mouth. Anyone experiencing these symptoms must be taken to a doctor immediately.

 

 

 


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Wyoming tracking Salmonella illness clusters; cause unknown
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/11/wyoming-tracking-salmonella-illness-clusters-cause-unknown/#.WhJcb0pl-Ul
By NEWS DESK (Nov 16, 2017)
Public health officials are investigating clusters of Salmonella infections in central Wyoming that include sick people from schools and childcare centers.
The Wyoming Department of Health launched its investigation after receiving multiple reports of gastroenteritis illnesses in Fremont County. State health department employees are contacting people whose children attend the implicated schools and daycare centers.
Some of the sick people have tested positive for Salmonella infection and others have classic symptoms of salmonellosis but without laboratory confirmation of infection from the bacteria, according to health officials.
Teresa Nirider, the spokeswoman for Fremont County Public Health, told The Ranger newspaper in Riverton, WY, that state officials visited the county this past week. She told the newspaper that she did not have information on the total number of illnesses, but that a health care provider had alerted the state after seeing a cluster of cases.
Health officials are urging anyone who has symptoms of Salmonella poisoning to immediately seek medical attention. Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to serious illness if infected.
Symptoms can include fever, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that is often bloody. Specific lab tests are necessary to diagnose Salmonella poisoning. Generally, symptoms develop between 12 and 72 hours or exposure to the microorganism, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Regardless of age, diarrhea may be so severe that hospitalization is required. Salmonella infection can spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and other parts of the body. Unless patients receive prompt antibiotic treatment the infection can cause death.

FDA Warns Against Harmful Effects of Kratom
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/fda-warns-against-kratom/
By Linda Larsen (Nov 15, 2017)
The FDA is warning consumers about the risks of consuming kratom, which is an ingredient in dietary supplements that is sold as a treatment for depression, pain, and anxiety. First, those conditions are serious medical issues that should be diagnosed and managed by a licensed healthcare provider. And second, this substance c Kratom is a plant that grows in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. Supporters say that it’s natural because it’s a natural product. But it has effects similar to opioids, such as codeine and morphine, and can lead to abuse, addiction, and death.
Kratom is often taken recreationally by users for euphoric effects. There is an opioid epidemic in this country, and officials say that the increasing use of this plant as an alternative to opioid drug use is disturbing.
This substance is being actively marketed to treat medical conditions. Because of this, the FDA released a public health advisory about this product.
Kratom cannot be used to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms. The FDA is trying to expand the development and use of medical therapy to assist those addicted to opioids, but the government has a mandate to make sure that treatments are safe and effective. There is “no reliable evidence to support the use of kratom as a treatment for opioid use disorder,” according to the public health advisory.
People who are addicted to opioids are using kratom without any dependable instructions for use. In addition, they are not consulting with a healthcare provider about the substance’s dangers, side effects, or possible interactions with other drugs.
The FDA has data on the harm associated with consuming this substance. Calls to U.S. poison control centers about this substance have increased 10-fold from 2010 to 2015. The FDA knows of reports of 36 deaths associated with the use of products containing kratom, and has reports of kratom laced with other opioids such as hydrocodone. This use is also associated with serious side effects such as seizures, withdrawal symptoms, and liver damage.
The FDA has a team of medical reviewers in their Center for Drug Evaluation and Research that evaluates whether botanicals can be used as drugs. The advisory states, “To date, no marketer has sought to properly develop a drug that includes kratom.”
There are no FDA-approved therapeutic uses of kratom. And the FDA has evidence to show that there are “significant safety issues associated with its use.”
The FDA has taken action against companies that use this substance in dietary supplements and has seized products. Kratom products have been put on import alerts. Officials are working to prevent shipments from entering the U.S., and government officials have seized hundreds of shipments at international mail facilities.
Kratom is a controlled substance in 16 countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, Sweden, and Germany. And Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and other states have legislation pending to ban it.
The warning ends with these words: “While we remain open to the potential medicinal uses of kratom, those uses must be backed by sound-science and weighed appropriately against the potential for abuse. They must be put through a proper evaluative process that involves the DEA and the FDA.” an be addictive and has been linked to deaths.

Food Safety Takes a Back Seat to Trade in the Trump Administration
Source : https://cspinet.org/news/food-safety-takes-back-seat-trade-trump-administration-20171115
By Peter Lurie (Nov 15, 2017)
By moving the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Codex Office from the agency’s Food Safety Inspection Service to its trade office, Secretary Perdue is telling our trading partners and American consumers that food safety takes a back seat to trade in the Trump administration.
Despite the USDA’s reassurance that the Under Secretary for Food Safety will still chair Codex meetings, the move of the little-known but influential office is a mistake.  The administration has not yet even nominated a permanent Under Secretary for Food Safety.  And at a time when other key USDA offices are being populated by country club cabana attendants, pesticide lobbyists, and other unqualified political campaign operatives, the Codex office’s move is more troubling still. (Nov 15, 2017)

Food safety risks, costs, waste likely to increase in ‘clean’ era
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/11/food-safety-risks-costs-waste-likely-to-increase-in-clean-era/#.WhJb60pl-Ul
By DAN FLYNN (Nov 14, 2017)
Two veteran food science and human nutrition experts at Iowa State University are worried about food safety eroding and food waste piling up because of millennials’ demands for “clean food.”
ISU Professors Ruth MacDonald and Ruth Litchfield say the individual choices food manufacturers are making to make “clean label” claims are having negative consequences when it comes to food safety, food waste and costs.
Clean labels refer to declarations on food made without additives, preservatives or chemicals. MacDonald and Litchfield fear too many decisions to remove additives are being made for marketing reasons alone without considering whether they increase food safety risks.
The professors cite the removal of nitrates from deli meats and hot dogs as one example. Nitrates are essential to preventing the growth of the potentially deadly Clostridium botulinum. Food packages using terms like “uncured” or “naturally cured” are likely using a natural source of nitrates such as celery juice as a substitute. However, the ISU professors say celery juice nitrates are not chemically different from synthetic forms.
Too much nitrate exposure may increase the risk for colon cancer, according to tests on animals. But nitrates are found in many fruits and vegetables with health benefits. And, the ISU professors say diets are complicated, with many factors influencing the potential effects of nitrates on the colon.
MacDonald says the public is having a hard time understanding the risks and benefits of their food choices. Often a chemical is seen as dangerous without knowledge that the risk without necessary food preservatives is much more significant.
Know your sources; avoid fake news on social media
Litchfield blames social media for being a “driver of distrust.” She urges consumers not to believe everything they read on social media. She recommends use the internet to track down original research instead.
She says people should understand how quickly manufacturers respond to consumer preferences and then ask themselves if those choices are based on science or the latest marketing-driven fad.
Food manufacturers may advertise “no high fructose corn syrup” on the label, but the body processes it the same as beet syrup, fruit sugars, or agave syrup that some food producers have turned to as substitutes. All are sugar — some just look more appealing on labels.
Litchfield says each person in the U.S. generates about 20 pounds of food waste each month, and the removal of additives and preservatives will only increase that amount. Sodium benzoate, calcium propionate and potassium sorbate have long been used to control the growth of microorganisms without changing the taste or character of the food.
Eliminating such additives is increasing the food safety risk and increasing the amount of food waste, Litchfield contends.
“Many food additives make the food structure more stable, such as keeping marshmallows soft and crackers crispy,” she explains. “Additives reduce off-flavors, prevent separation of liquids or oils, and give food a pleasant feel in our mouths. Taking these types of ingredients out of foods will probably increase the amount of food we throw away.”

New Jersey orders Udder Milk to stop illegally selling raw milk
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/11/new-jersey-orders-udder-milk-to-stop-illegally-selling-raw-milk/#.WhJdXEpl-Ul
BY CORAL BEACH | NOVEMBER 14, 2017
Rare, antibiotic-resistant Brucella bacteria confirmed in raw milk drinkers in New Jersey, Texas
Public health officials have ordered a New Jersey company to cease and desist its illegal sales of unpasteurized, raw milk following confirmation that a woman who drank it was infected with antibiotic-resistant brucellosis.
The New Jersey Department of Health issued cease-and-desist orders to Udder Milk on Friday, but did not post the news on is website until Monday. Neither the state health department nor the Udder Milk website indicated where the delivery business is located. No business entities named Udder Milk are listed with the New Jersey or New York secretaries of state offices.
“It is illegal in New Jersey to sell or distribute raw milk or products made from raw milk, such as yogurt, soft cheese and ice cream,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan said in the New Jersey notice.
Federal law prohibits the sale of raw dairy products across state lines. Most states ban the sale of unpasteurized, raw milk and products made from it because of the associated danger of contamination with bacteria, viruses and parasites. New Jersey’s health department is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find out where Udder Milk is getting the raw milk it is selling.
As of 1 a.m. EST today, the Udder Milk website was still marketing raw milk from cows, goats, sheep and camels. Prices range from $10 per gallon for cow’s milk to $13 per pint for camel milk. Goat’s milk sells for $13 per gallon, according to the company’s website. As of today, sheep milk was listed as unavailable.
The Udder Milk website shows delivery locations in several states, including Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. The company has been selling raw milk since 2005, according to its website. The contact page on the Udder Milk site indicates the owner is out of the country.
“People should know that, in general, unpasteurized milk may contain dangerous bacteria and those who have become ill after consuming raw milk products should immediately consult a medical professional,” epidemiologist Tan said.
From 1993 through 2012, there were 127 outbreaks linked to raw milk that were reported to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, resulting in 1,909 illnesses and 144 hospitalizations, according to the Monday notice from the New Jersey health department.
New Jersey action follows temporary closure of Texas raw milk dairy
New Jersey’s action Friday to stop Udder Milk’s sales of unpasteurized dairy products is the result of an Oct. 23 notification that a state resident tested positive for Brucella RB51 infection. The New Jersey woman is at least the second person in the United States confirmed with an infection from the rare, antibiotic-resistant strain of Brucella in recent weeks.
As of mid-October, the CDC and the Texas State Department of Health Services had received reports from at least seven states, not counting New Jersey, about people who drank raw milk from the Texas dairy. Some people who drank K-Bar milk developed symptoms consistent with brucellosis caused by Brucella RB51 and others who were exposed are at risk of becoming infected.
States reporting illnesses with symptoms consistent with brucellosis are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Ohio, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.
K-Bar was stopped temporarily from selling its raw milk, but Texas officials cleared it to resume operations Oct. 11.
“Milk samples from the dairy tested positive for a Brucella strain called RB51,” according to a CDC health advisory posted Sept. 14, which reported thousands of people are at risk.
“Brucella strain RB51 is resistant to rifampin and penicillin. A combination of doxycycline and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole for 21 days is the recommended first-line PEP regimen for RB51 exposure.”
A month before the CDC advisory, Texas officials warned the public against drinking raw milk from K-Bar Dairy. They also urged anyone who consumed raw milk from K-Bar and developed symptoms consistent with brucellosis to immediately seek medical attention and tell their doctors about their possible exposure to the bacteria.
Also, people who consumed raw dairy products from K-Bar Dairy or Udder Milk and did not quickly become ill should monitor themselves — and their children if they served them the unpasteurized milk — for six months because it can take that long for symptoms to develop, the CDC warns.
Advice to consumers and health care workers
Brucellosis symptoms are widely varied from patient to patient and are often non-specific, according to public health officials. Symptoms can also wax and wane over weeks or months, making it difficult for doctors to recognize the infection.
Symptoms can include fever, sweats, chills, weight loss, headache, fatigue and muscle and joint pain. Symptoms may appear up to six months after exposure. In severe cases, infections of the central nervous system or lining of the heart may occur.
Specific blood testing is required to diagnose the infection.
The RB51 strain of Brucella is dangerous for medical staff and lab personnel in addition to patients, particularly because of its resistance to some antibiotics, the CDC warns.
“When ordering blood cultures to diagnose brucellosis, please advise the laboratory that the blood culture may grow Brucella and that appropriate laboratory precautions should be observed,” the CDC recommended to doctors and other health care providers.

Small or Very Small: New Rules from FSMA Create Unique Challenges
Source : https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/octobernovember-2017/small-or-very-small-new-rules-from-fsma-create-unique-challenges/
By Shari Plimpton, Ph.D., Gina R. (Nicholson) Kramer, RS/REHS, Tara Riley and Elise Forward
Since the new rules for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) were developed, and especially since the Preventive Controls for Human Food rule was released, food manufacturers of all sizes have been working intensely to determine how to implement them into their culture and new food safety plans. FSMA has been a game changer for businesses from large to very small. Many companies have dedicated staff and other resources to develop a separate FSMA team to coordinate implementation of all the new regulatory requirements to be compliant. This approach has proven effective for large companies, but for those that fall into the small and very small categories (generally, a business with fewer than 500 employees and a business with less than $1 million in total annual sales of human food, respectively, at least in regard to this rule), it has been a challenge.
A lack of awareness is one of the greatest challenges to FSMA compliance for many companies. This can manifest in many ways: ignorance of the law, a lack of understanding of the interpretation of the law or unfamiliarity with how to implement what is required. Obviously, these are not the companies that are involved in industry events such as conferences, webinars and even newsletters. These are not the large food companies but are more likely the small or medium-size companies with smaller distribution channels. Picture a mom and pop company that has been in business for many years, has a dedicated following and does not want to grow beyond their current capacity. This company has no reason to look beyond their four walls at what other organizations are doing. These are the companies that have small teams and no dedicated food safety professional. Many companies have said that they are the only ones they know of that have to be in compliance. For companies like this, their state inspector or a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspector will be the person from whom they will most likely hear about the new FSMA regulations or the only ones they will consider a credible resource.
Countless resources (including financial) have gone into developing both training programs and skilled professionals to strengthen the safety of our food supply. While all food manufacturers have faced great challenges in this sweeping set of rule changes, none have faced more uncertainty, and been more challenged, than those that operate as small and very small food businesses. These businesses tend to be primarily owner operated, working with a lean staff (fewer than five) and unable to dedicate anyone to work solely on FSMA compliance.
There are often two scenarios behind a lack-of-resources issue: financial and workforce. A company that lacks financial resources will be unable to support a food safety and quality professional. They may not be able to provide the necessary training to ensure that they know the applicable laws. A company with a lack of workforce resources will have personnel that know about the laws, but these people are tied up in “firefighting” activities and have no time to plan for the future or dedicate time, energy and mental capacity to developing or updating the necessary programs to ensure FSMA compliance.
Working closely with manufacturers of all sizes, we have witnessed smaller manufacturers face a herculean task to grasp and understand the new FSMA rules. They struggle with understanding whether they are exempt from certain parts of the rules and if so, which ones. Many states have attempted to address this by providing lower-cost training for Preventive Controls-Qualified Individual (PCQI) certificate courses. The Ohio Department of Agriculture invested in Lead Instructor training for several of their food safety team members. This has allowed them to offer Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA) PCQI courses to small and very small businesses for less than half the average going rate. Additionally, many industry organizations like the American Frozen Food Association invested in staff becoming Lead Instructors of PCQI, offering a highly discounted rate to their members. While this is very helpful for small businesses watching their budgets, the work of creating the food safety plan continues to be seen and experienced as a monumental task for small and very small food companies. So, these very small businesses look to others for additional support in determining how to build a food safety plan that fits their needs.
Small and very small food businesses have been seeking consultants for guidance on FSMA compliance efforts. Consultants who are properly trained and proficient with the FSMA rules come with a price that many small and very small companies just can’t afford, so they look for alternative solutions. Too often, these companies are misled into relying on consultants who may not be as experienced or as informed as they need to be regarding the implementation of the new FSMA rules. Some consultants still mistakenly take the approach of writing Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans or Hazard Analyses and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for small food businesses after meeting with them for a day or less. Some will even write a full food safety plan for a company after a short phone call. A one-size-fits-all approach may be offered with general product templates being used to create these plans. Overworked and time-short managers/owners of small and very small food businesses find these “low cost” plans hard to resist. Even worse are those situations when the consultant will simply write an HACCP plan for the company from a template without spending any time with the manufacturer.
Say What You Do
Developing a food safety plan is a process that requires the involvement of the key people in the food business and takes more than a day to review and develop accurately. Not only do small businesses usually fail to implement the food safety plans created by someone else, but those plans often do not reflect the real practices of the food manufacturer and fail to keep the products safe or meet regulatory requirements. This has created a unique challenge for small and very small food businesses that want to do the right thing and be compliant with FSMA but are not sure where to turn for support.
There are several not-for-profit organizations dedicated to working with and supporting the success of small and very small businesses in the United States. These organizations range from independent to local, state and federally funded entities. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology,1 the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) is a national system of centers located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Each center is a partnership between the federal government and a variety of public or private entities, including state, university and nonprofit organizations. This diverse network, with nearly 600 service locations, has close to 1,300 field staff serving as trusted advisers and technical experts who are ready and able to assist small and midsize manufacturing companies.
MEP centers tailor services to meet critical needs, ranging from process improvement and workforce development to specialized business practices, including supply chain integration, innovation and technology transfer. The MEP’s foundation is its partnerships. Centers are the hub for manufacturers, connecting them with government agencies, trade associations, universities and research laboratories, state and federal initiatives, and a host of other resources to help them grow and innovate. MEP centers have assisted over 25,000 manufacturers supporting the made-in-your-state and made-in-the-USA effort that consumers have requested over the years. Lesser known is the ability to obtain assistance with food safety program development and training through many MEP centers.
The Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT), an affiliate of the Ohio MEP, is part of the MEPs across the nation that focus on the food industry.2 CIFT has been working with businesses of all sizes, especially those that may be considered small and very small, for over 20 years. CIFT also manages a cooperative kitchen for food entrepreneurs known as the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen (NOCK). Very small food businesses can develop their products, undergo multi-level food safety training and manufacture their products safely at this facility with the guidance of CIFT staff. As part of the assistance received, CIFT’s food safety training programs for small and very small businesses include basic food safety training, Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) training, food safety plan development, basic HACCP (with a certificate) and PCQI training (with a certificate). Some of these are provided through NOCK and others are classes offered throughout the year for those working in food manufacturing.
CIFT also guides new businesses to get to know the food safety regulatory officials from the Division of Food Safety of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Regulatory personnel have been willing to work with these businesses to help them understand state regulatory requirements, to review labels for packaging and to offer training programs. As in many states, regulatory officers are eager to help very small businesses succeed by being a part of helping them understand the rules to which they must adhere.
CIFT has focused on cultivating a network of food safety professionals with both up-to-date credentials for new regulatory and food safety expectations, and hands-on manufacturing experience. CIFT’s food safety program, in partnership with Savour Food Safety International, provides training and in-depth consulting services to assist all food businesses. CIFT’s experience with small and very small businesses has resulted in collaborative projects that help many smaller food businesses develop their own expertise and ability to manage their food safety programs. CIFT’s goal is to train the small business team to develop their food safety plan and manage and modify it so they can keep doing so without having to come back for more consultation support, which can be very costly.
As an example of the effort to meet the specific needs of each business, CIFT and Savour Food Safety International have developed a unique style for conducting the FSPCA PCQI training. It is designed to offer smaller businesses a greater opportunity to understand the new rules as they apply them to their own food safety plan. The approach focuses on working with food industry experienced professionals as instructors, who also then work with small groups during the exercise time so individuals attending can use their own food safety plans for the exercises. They gain not only practical understanding as it applies to their product but also consultation with a seasoned food safety professional to assist them with understanding how the rules apply in their unique situation.
Attendees leave this PCQI class with the beginning work and know-how of developing a food safety plan that meets the new FSMA rules and requirements for their particular products. This gives the small and very small businesses’ owner/operator a great start on what initially seems like an overwhelming but necessary task.
Working with Importers: FSVP
When Forward Food Solutions talks to importers, it often finds itself at a loss for how to tackle the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) requirements. Importers are often not connected to other importers due to the fiercely competitive nature of the business. These companies may not hear of the full regulations, or they hear about it from their overseas suppliers. Don’t be surprised if these companies need some guidance and if you may be the first person explaining FSVP to them.
The lack of understanding of the interpretation of the laws can be seen both in the United States and overseas. The new FSMA laws can be a challenge for those companies that are very new to being regulated, such as importers and trucking companies. These are the companies that may have heard of the laws but don’t have the technical resources on staff to know what they mean for their business, what programs need to be implemented or where to find this information. These are often the companies that “don’t know what they don’t know.”
The Need for Technology
The new FSMA rules brought to light the necessity of technology at every level of the food business and for businesses of any size. Companies can no longer get by with pen-and-paper documents or even elaborate Excel spreadsheets. This has been a rather difficult change for small and very small food companies to implement. The need for user-friendly software platforms to assist with navigation of FSMA rules (document control, workflow, training, track and trace, monitoring and verification, recall and response, supplier management, foreign supplier verification, etc.) has become a big business for IT companies. However, many of the new platforms that have been developed to assist with FSMA compliance have been designed and priced for large food companies. The price range has been out of reach for those in small to very small categories.
A few software solutions have been developed for this group but still require administrative support for onboarding before total integration and come at the business’s expense. The IT companies have decided that the small and very small category is worth the investment (one never knows who will become the next Clif Bar & Company). They are willing to invest on the prospect of growing with the company. Kudos to those companies willing to assist food entrepreneurs in providing safe food to the consumer.
Fortunately, FDA recognized the need to provide technology tools for small and very small businesses. Within the first few weeks of August 2017, FDA launched the Food Safety Plan Builder (FSPB). This software helps businesses build their food safety plan for FSMA compliance. A review of this software follows.
FSPB Overview
The download for the FSPB software is a bit tedious, but the FDA website[3] provides both a short instruction and full user guide to assist you. Be sure your computer can meet system requirements. The red-letter warning of “do not open the download file via your Internet browser” is important and was added a few days after launch.
After downloading the software, find the file named “FoodSafetyPlanBuilder Install_v1.0” and unzip the file. Click to open “FoodSafetyPlanBuilderInstall_v1.0,” click on “Food Safety Plan Builder” (file type: Application Manifest), click “Install” and follow the prompts.
Features
The builder has many prompts and start dialogues to help new users navigate the system. Be sure to thoroughly read each introduction prompt to fully understand the capability of this software.
The FSPB includes tabs where users are prompted to fill in company and/or product information as necessary. Not all tabs require information, and the software makes it clear as you proceed through the tabs what is required and what is not.
The end result is a completed food safety plan compiled from all the information users enter. The complete food safety plan can be printed and/or exported by section or in its entirety. Users can choose a short report header and header placement options as well. Below is a quick description of the content in each tab.
•    Facility Information: Users enter basic company information, including food safety team information.
•    Preliminary Steps: Users enter information on final products, distribution, intended use, consumers and process flow steps.
•    Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) & Prerequisite Programs: This includes a checklist for environmental monitoring and operating conditions [CGMPs, 21 C.F.R. 117(b)].
•    Hazard Analysis & Preventive Controls Determination: Users import (or manually enter) process steps entered in the Preliminary Steps tab and are asked questions to identify known or reasonably foreseeable hazards where applicable. Once a hazard is identified in a process step, users are prompted to then identify appropriate Preventive Controls.
•    Process Preventive Controls: Users import hazards from the Hazard Analysis & Preventive Controls Determination tab and identify process parameters, monitoring, frequency, corrective actions, procedures and records.
•    Food Allergen Preventive Controls: Users import hazards identified as needing allergen preventive controls and enter information on procedures, monitoring, frequency and corrective actions.
•    Sanitation Preventive Controls: Users import hazards identified as needing sanitation preventive controls and enter information on procedures, monitoring, frequency and corrective actions.
•    Supply Chain Preventive Controls: Users import hazards identified as needing supply chain preventive controls and enter information on procedures, monitoring, frequency and corrective actions.
•    Recall Plan: Users describe procedures for a recall, including who is to be notified, effectiveness checks and disposition of recalled product(s).
•    Reanalysis of Food Safety Plan: Users can log and pull historical information of date, time and reason for a food safety plan reanalysis.
•    Food Safety Plan Report: Users see the compilation of all information entered in previous tabs. It may need to be supplemented with other documentation, depending on how much information was entered manually into FSPB or kept outside the system (this can be accomplished within the FSPB software Supporting Documents tab (described below) or outside the FSPB software.
•    Signature: Electronic or manual options are available.
•    Recordkeeping Procedures: This is a checklist to determine whether required documentation for the CGMPs and Preventive Controls rule has been developed and that recordkeeping procedures have been followed.
•    Important Contacts: Users input information for relevant internal or external contacts for a company.
•    Supporting Documents: Include outside documentation in FSPB or include direct links.
Help and Support
FDA has done its due diligence upfront with the user guide and on-screen instructions. The Help button in the toolbar takes users directly to the user guide. As listed on the website, you can also contact this email for further support:
FoodSafetyPlanBuilder@fda.hhs.gov. FDA has even created an excellent YouTube playlist for video training.[4]
Verdict and Recommendations
This tool is simple and effective. It does not allow flexibility but is a great basic way to achieve FSMA compliance and will lay the groundwork for small and very small companies to continue building on their food safety systems. It is probably most helpful to those operations starting from scratch: small and very small companies.
It is important to remember that if companies already have systems and software in place, they may need to assess their needs and be sure all systems integrate well.
Those companies that have a compliance date overdue or coming up should get their information put into this free software as soon as possible, as a food safety plan is the best bet for FSMA compliance when FDA inspectors visit.
Do What You Say
Another challenge that very small food companies face is accurately conducting internal auditing and verification of monitoring methods. Most very small companies, and even a high percentage of small companies, are owner operated. The owner, who wears many hats (CEO, COO, etc.), is also actively involved in producing the food product. The question has been asked many times, “How can I comply with verification and internal auditing if the person who conducts the monitoring or produces the product cannot audit or verify their own records? Will I now have to hire an external person/company to do this for me?” This adds another layer of expense to very small and even small businesses. It is amazing the amount of product that a food manufacturing company can produce with fewer than five people, even two people. Food entrepreneurs are some of the hardest-working individuals.
FSMA was a much-needed update to FDA’s food manufacturing regulations. Implementing change is never easy, even though it is necessary. With the new FSMA rules and the necessary changes they require come unintended consequences to certain segments of the food industry. The small food business category was scheduled to be under compliance inspection beginning in September 2017. The feedback will be interesting and hopefully helpful to the very small food companies trying to figure out how they can become compliant by September 2018. 
Shari Plimpton, Ph.D., is vice president and director of food industry programs at CIFT.
Gina R. (Nicholson) Kramer, RS/REHS, is executive director at Savour Food Safety International Inc.
Tara Riley is director of food safety and quality assurance at Savour Food Safety International Inc.
Elise Forward is president and principal consultant at Forward Food Solutions.
References
1. https://www.nist.gov/mep/who-we-are/mep-national-network.
2. http://ciftinnovation.org/.
3. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/foodSafetyPlanBuilder/.
4. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLey4Qe-Uxcxb9AGNwFj-oGlquHDZ-tkqo&source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.

How to Establish a Food Safety Culture in Your Restaurant
Source : https://www.qsrmagazine.com/outside-insights/how-establish-food-safety-culture-your-restaurant
By emphasizing the importance of food safety, your employees will work continuously toward the mission that you’ve implemented.
The food service industry was shaken when restaurant chain Chipotle had multiple, widespread food safety outbreaks, spanning various states. The incidents understandably made consumers anxious and, as a result, Chipotle’s sales plummeted.  It took considerable time and effort to reassure a nervous public that it was, indeed, safe to eat at Chipotle again.
Their tagline, food with integrity, was meaningless when various mistakes were sickening their guests. During (and after) these outbreaks, Chipotle had to review its protocols. Among other things, they sanitized impacted restaurants, examined their food sources, and reminded employees of safety protocols—like not to come to work when ill.
All restaurants should create and implement a food safety culture that emphasizes safety, cleanliness and following well-established protocols. Ensure that your food safety culture that starts at the top, with buy-in from leadership. Demonstrate that food safety is a priority that must be taken seriously by every employee, during every shift, and with every meal. By emphasizing the importance of food safety, your employees will work continuously toward the mission that you’ve implemented.
Every restaurant experiences kitchen chaos—it’s the nature of the industry. Busy shifts mean some employees may take occasional “short-cuts." In my role as a food safety trainer and inspector, I often see examples of this—such as employees not washing their hands regularly because they “don’t want to walk all the way across the kitchen” to the handwashing sink. Or they use the same board to cut raw poultry and then ready-to-eat foods like salad greens, cross-contaminating the vegetables with dangerous bacteria. Perhaps they don’t bother using a food thermometer to check the internal temperatures of the hamburgers they’re grilling and, as a result, serve undercooked meat. Any of these decisions could result in a foodborne illness incident, potentially harming (or even killing) your guests.
Major foodborne illness incidents and outbreaks seem to be increasing. Even innocent or careless mistakes can sicken guests and ruin a restaurant’s reputation. Foodborne illnesses are 100 percent preventable, and could be avoided if restaurants—and other food service organizations—adopted a food safety culture.  This includes providing ongoing education/training, regularly holding inspections, and implementing proper food safety protocols. Ensure that you’re operating safely—for every shift, with every meal.
To create and maintain a food safety culture, your restaurant should:
Start at the top. Ensure that your company leaders are practicing what they preach, and setting a good example for employees to follow. Demonstrate a strong commitment to food safety, and emphasize that anything less than 100 percent effort simply won’t be tolerated.
Explain the reasons behind the rules. Don’t just tell employees what to do. Tell them why to do it. Explain rules around food safety, such as as why they shouldn’t use the same platter for raw meat and cooked meat. Explain the danger of using the same board to prepare seafood for one dish and poultry for another—which could be deadly if that poultry is served to a guest with seafood allergies. When you explain why it’s so important to follow each specific protocol, your employees will understand the reasoning behind the rules and will be more likely (and more willing) to comply.
Train your staff. Food safety training and education should be an ongoing effort for all employees, whether they’ve been with your organization for two hours or two decades. Emphasize why food safety is—and will continue to be—a priority for your organization. Provide continuous updates and refresher courses for all staff to keep the food safety protocols top-of-mind.
Provide the proper equipment. Stock your commercial kitchen with the necessary tools to safely prepare and serve food. Ensure there are calibrated food thermometers at every work station so employees can easily (and regularly) check food temperatures.  Provide plenty of cutting boards so employees can use some for raw proteins, others for ready-to-eat foods, separate ones for allergy-friendly food prep, etc.
Keep temperature logs. Insist that employees take the temperature of foods at specific times—e.g., upon arrival, during the cooking process, etc. Make proper record-keeping part of your employees’ regular routine.
Inspect food to make sure it’s safe upon arrival. If food isn’t safe when it arrives at your facility, there’s nothing your team can do to make it safe later. Empower employees to refuse potentially unsafe foods.
Conduct inspections to ensure that all employees are complying with proper protocols. Conductself-inspections regularly to ensure kitchens are sanitary, food safety rules are being followed, and mistakes aren’t being made. It’s also valuable to hire third-party inspectors to examine your facility and observe your employees in action. An objective outsider often sees things that internal teams may overlook. Their feedback can be hugely beneficial in helping avoid foodborne illnesses, infractions from the health department, and other potential issues.
Avoid careless mistakes. Remind all employees that even seemingly “minor” mistakes could sicken (or even kill) guests. For instance, they shouldn’t use the same towel to wipe the dirty floor and then wash the tables. Insist that they wash their hands carefully and often. Don’t allow them to wear their kitchen aprons into the restroom.
Follow food allergy protocols. When preparing and serving food for a food-allergic guest, make sure your employees double check ingredients, use clean gloves/knives/equipment, prep the food in an allergy-friendly area, and avoid careless (potentially harmful) mistakes, such as garnishing a plate with pesto when serving a nut or dairy-allergic guest.
Building, enforcing, promoting and embracing a food safety culture doesn’t need to be expensive, time-consuming or complicated. By creating a corporate culture focused on food safety, you’ll keep your employees, guests and business much safer and healthier.
Francine L. Shaw is President of Food Safety Training Solutions, Inc., which offers a robust roster of services, including consulting, food safety education, food safety inspections, crisis management training, writing norovirus policies for employees, writing norovirus clean-up procedures, curriculum development, responsible alcohol service training, and more. The Food Safety Training Solutions team has more than 100 combined years of industry experience in restaurants, casinos, and convenience stores and has helped numerous clients prevent foodborne illnesses. Francine has been featured as a food safety expert in numerous media outlets, including the Dr. Oz Show, the Huffington Post, iHeartRadio, and Food Safety News.

Food Safety Supercharger lands in Australia
Source : http://www.freshplaza.com/article/184775/Food-Safety-Supercharger-lands-in-Australia
By freshplaza.com (Nov 13, 2017)
The mother of all produce sanitation machines has arrived in Australia, fresh off the ship from Germany, as the country takes its food safety technology to the next level.
Dubbed ‘The Food Safety Supercharger’, the custom-made 250-kilogram test-unit creates a stream of ‘supercharged air’ by applying an electric current to normal air. Using this disruptive technology, it has the capacity to kill microbial pathogens on the surface of fresh produce and nuts, without leaving any chemical residues.
Housed at a NSW Department of Primary Industries laboratory, this world-first machine aims to eliminate microbial contaminants such as Salmonella, Listeria and E.coli which cause foodborne illness outbreaks. Other spoilage-causing moulds can also be suppressed, offering a longer shelf-life and reduced food waste.
Hort Innovation fund manager Tim Archibald said the technology – which is part of a $5M jointly-funded project with the NSW Department of Primary Industries – has never been commercially used on food.
“The Food Safety Supercharger is here, and Australia is on track to introduce some of the most sophisticated sanitation technology in the world,” Mr Archibald said. “While there are good post-harvest practices already in place in Australia, when isolated contamination incidents occur, farmers are devastated.”
“This supercharged air technology has the exciting potential to limit product recalls, minimise trade disruptions and ensure consumers are confident about the produce they are buying. It also offers an environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional food sanitisers.”
Lead researcher, Dr Sukhvinder Pal (SP) Singh, explained that supercharged air is plasma, which is the fourth state of matter after solid, liquid and gas.
“Natural plasma in the universe, such as the sun’s surface, has a temperature of thousands of degrees Celsius, while human-made, non-thermal plasma is only 30 to 40 degrees. That is why the technology can also be referred to as ‘cold plasma’,” he said.
Dr Singh presented the bold idea of applying cold plasma technology to fresh produce and nuts to Hort Innovation about a year ago.
“It was a transformative idea that presented a high reward for the horticulture industry if it worked,” he said. “Non-food sectors such as automotive, aerospace, textile, polymer, electronics and biomedical were already using the technology – particularly overseas, but it had never been applied to fresh produce.
“Once support was secured from Hort Innovation, which encourages disruptive technology, our team was able to start the research with the first-generation plasma unit. We then engaged a world-leading machine manufacturer in Germany to create a custom unit.”
Dr Singh said through their early testing, his team has determined that it is possible to kill bacteria and moulds in a short treatment time but there is still a lot of research to come. He said now the latest generation of the machine is in the lab, the efficiency at which researchers can decontaminate produce is significantly higher than with their previous test unit, which was one-fifth the size. 
He said after determining which fruit, vegetables and nuts are responsive to the treatment, the research team needs to ensure the killing of microbial pathogens does not compromise the quality and nutritional value of food. “Ultimately, we would like to see this technology work and provide a pathway to commercialisation and for growers and packers to adopt it. Time will tell, but the early signs of this research are certainly promising.”
The research is due for completion in 2021.
For more information
Horticulture Innovation Australia Ltd
Tel: +61 2 8295 2300
www.horticulture.com.au

Hong Kong’s food safety checks for imported fruits and greens ‘too lax’, governance watchdog says
Source : http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/2119669/hong-kongs-food-safety-checks-imported-fruits-and
By Ernest Kao (Nov 13, 2017)
Ombudsman cites ‘hasty’ inspection of fruits and vegetables entering city, slow laboratory tests and lenient rules on lead residue in leafy greens
Food safety checks for imported fruits and vegetables are too slack, with ‘hasty’ or no inspection of items at checkpoints, slow laboratory test results and lax rules on lead residue in leafy greens, according to the city’s governance watchdog.
The Office of the Ombudsman said on Monday that these loopholes in gatekeeping had raised the risks of unsafe produce entering the city’s markets, potentially jeopardising the health of residents.
“The situation is undesirable,” Ombudsman Connie Lau Yin-hing said, as she described the results of her office’s most recent investigation into an issue of public interest.
The Office of the Ombudsman, set up in 1989, carries out regular investigations into public administration and complaints against government departments and officers.
Its reports, including this latest study on safety control for imported fruits and vegetables, are available on its website.
The Centre for Food Safety under the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department is in charge of sampling the items when they arrive by land, sea and air. Its officers look out for residue of specific pesticides and heavy metals known to affect health, and zoom in on produce most likely to be tainted with such substances.
There can be no compromise on food safety
The Office of the Ombudsman said its investigation focused on sampling procedures of produce at the checkpoints.
At the land checkpoint in Man Kam To in the New Territories, produce sampling from lorries coming from the mainland was done at “a very hasty pace”. Workers would only take out crates near the doors for checking, while those stored deeper inside the lorries could “easily evade inspection”, the watchdog pointed out.
Worse yet, even though 80 per cent of imported fruits and vegetables are transported by sea, no routine checks were conducted at the Kwai Chung checkpoint or importers’ warehouses, unless the department had received prior information on safety scares.
‘The more stringent the law, the more safe the food’: the struggle for Hong Kong food safety standards
Instead, it relied on general sampling of all produce, including items brought in by land and air, at wholesale and retail points.
“The system of sampling checks on [produce] imported by sea is clearly rather lax,” the watchdog’s report read. “Most of the fruits and vegetables imported by sea would have already entered the market for public consumption before having undergone any inspection.”
However, “the saving grace” was that the department had recently started a trial scheme to sample produce imported by sea at importers’ warehouses. It should collect more fruit samples at the Man Kam To checkpoint and also give its officers better instructions on collecting samples, the watchdog said.
Hong Kong upgrades food quality scheme to enhance safety standards
The watchdog also highlighted the slow pace of laboratory tests on food samples. It usually took 19 working days from the time a sample was sent to the government laboratory to when results were released. If there were regional food scares or reports of Hong Kong residents falling ill from specific produce, then the tests could be ready in two days.
The report urged the department to speed up food testing by devoting more resources to the process.
Finally, the watchdog criticised current lenient regulations on harmful residue in commonly consumed vegetables.
First, not all products were covered under guidelines for acceptable levels of pesticides and metallic contaminants. For instance, there were no such guidelines for lotus roots and bean sprouts, which feature in Chinese cooking. This should change, said the watchdog.
Second, lead content guidelines were 20 times more lax than standards established by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation and the World Health Organisation, known as Codex Alimentarius. The code sets the maximum limit of lead in leafy greens at 0.3mg per kg, but under Hong Kong law, the limit is 6mg per kg.
The report noted: “The saving grace is that the government has recently proposed legislative amendments in accordance with Codex’s standards. Hopefully, there will be more stringent regulation of the content of ‘lead’ in leafy vegetables.”
Landowners built illegal private garden in Hong Kong – and for 20 years the government did nothing
Dr Kwok Ka-ki, deputy chair of the Legislative Council’s food safety panel, urged the government to establish a labelling system that would allow consumers and officials to trace where food products came from, as this would be crucial if problems were to arise.
“Till this day, the government has no ability, without help of mainland authorities, to go to mainland farms supplying Hong Kong to check the vegetables or the water for problems.
“This is ridiculous,” Kwok said.
The Ombudsman said the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department generally agreed with its recommendations.
The Ombudsman wants the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department to:
1) Collect more fruit samples at Man Kam To for testing
2) Instruct officers how to properly sample produce transported by lorries
3) Collect more samples at importers’ warehouses
4) Focus more on sea imports during sampling at wholesale and retail points
5) Speed up laboratory testing
6) Include lotus roots and bean sprouts in food safety guidelines
7) Adopt international standards for acceptable lead content in produce
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: alert raised on lax food safety tests

Outbreak at Fager’s Island Shell Shocked Oyster Festival in Maryland
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/outbreak-at-fagers-island-shell-shocked-oyster-festival-in-maryland/
By News (Nov 13, 2017)
According to news reports, officials at the Maryland Department of Public Health are investigating a “stomach flu” outbreak among people who attended the “Shell Shocked” beer and oyster festival on November 4, 2017. That event was held at Fager’s Island Restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland.
The state health department is working with the Worcester County Health Department on this outbreak. There is no information posted about these illnesses on either government website. According to the Baltimore Sun, the restaurant was allowed to hold a similar event on November 11, 2017.
At least 145 people were sickened in this outbreak. What is commonly known as the “stomach flu” is almost always food poisoning. No one has been sick enough to need hospitalization. No deaths are linked to this outbreak. We don’t know what may have caused this outbreak, but this event is a good reminder about how raw shellfish can cause illness and who should avoid these types of foods.
In the past, raw oysters have been linked to several types of food poisoning outbreaks. The most common illness associated with this food is norovirus. That illness has symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Symptoms appear quite quickly, and usually only last a day or two. Most people recover without medical treatment, but some people can get dehydrated with this type of illness.
In 2014, a Campylobacter outbreak was linked to recalled oysters in Oregon. That outbreak sickened three people. Symptoms of a Campylobacter infection include diarrhea, headache, body aches, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever. This illness usually lasts for one week, and some people, especially those in high risk groups, can become seriously sick.
Oysters can also be contaminated with Vibrio vulnificus. A Virbrio outbreak associated with raw oysters and clams sickened at least 104 in 13 states in 2013. Symptoms of this illness include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills. that bacteria live in marine waters and their numbers increase in the summer months. Campylobacter and Vibrio infections are usually more serious than norovirus infections.

People in high risk groups should avoid eating raw or undercooked shellfish. Those groups include the very young, the elderly, pregnant women, people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, and those with compromised immune systems.

 

 

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