FoodHACCP Newsletter



Food Safety Job Openings

12/09. Food Safety Manager - West Chester, OH
12/08. Quality Technologist – Walnut Creek, CA
12/08. Food Safety & QA Coord – San Antonio, TX
12/08. Assoc Food Safety Consultant – Hackensack, NJ
12/07. Food Safety Consultant – Minneapolis, MN
12/06. Quality & Food Safety Specialist - Plymouth, WI
12/06. Food Safety Document Coordinator – USA
12/06. Quality Assurance & Safety Mgr – Saluda, SC
12/04. Food Safety & Quality Technician – Seattle, WA
12/04. Dir, Food Safety & Health – Bentonville, AR
12/04. Food Safety Manager – Mountain View, CA

12/18 2017 ISSUE:787

 

No 'Dirty' American Chickens, Say British Food Safety Experts
Source : https://www.inverse.com/article/39489-brexit-american-chickens
By Eileen Guo (Dec 17, 2017)
The United States exports more poultry than almost any other country in the world, but not everyone is a fan of American chicken.
A team of British food policy experts released a new briefing paper titled “Will the British public accept chlorine-washed turkey for Christmas dinner, after Brexit?” that makes a strong case against American poultry. With the UK preparing for its exit from the European Union, the country is currently negotiating post-Brexit trade deals, which could allow American chicken back into at least one European market. (American chicken has been banned from Europe since 1997.)
The issue is that American poultry is washed in chemical disinfectants, like chlorine, a practice banned under European food safety standards. In Europe, chicken is typically washed in cold water.
According to standards set forth in a World Health Organization and UN Food and Agricultural Organization report, disinfectants “must not be used to mask poor hygiene conditions.”
Which is exactly what is happening in the American poultry market. In the U.S., poultry is mostly raised in factory farms with the birds crammed into small areas. This reduces costs for farmers but increases the likelihood of disease. The UK briefing paper cites that 97 percent of American chicken breast meat is contaminated with salmonella and E. Coli.
In comparison, the European Union has higher standards for raising poultry, with legally mandated minimums for space, light, and ventilation provided to the birds. This is more expensive, but poultry that are raised in more space are less likely to fall sick and spread disease.
Additionally, the food policy experts also fear that allowing disinfectant-washed poultry may open the door for disinfectant-washed fruit, vegetables, and fish - also common practices in the United States.
“The UK should continue to insist on improving hygiene standards in poultry farms, slaughter houses and meat-cutting plants and not allow standards to decline, nor try relying on chemical disinfectants to reduce the harm that filthy meat can cause,” said Professor Erik Millstone, one of the briefing paper’s authors. “UK consumers would be safer to keep EU standards, and not to accept US disinfectant-washed-but-still-dirty poultry.”
The academics conclude by recommending that the UK commits to maintaining the same safety and quality standards that it had under the EU; and that public health, environmental, animal welfare, and consumer organizations should work together to prevent the sale of poultry, fish, fruit, and vegetables washed with chemical disinfectants in the UK.

Lab robots crucial for end-to-end food safety data systems
http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/12/lab-robots-crucial-for-end-to-end-food-safety-data-systems/#.Wjc0ek66yUl
By Mahni Ghorashi (Dec 14, 2017)
Opinion
Next generation sequencing is beginning to replace traditional DNA methods in food safety testing. As this trend continues, sequencing will no longer be the time intensive process it once was. Laboratories will be limited by how quickly they can prepare samples, not how quickly they can sequence them. Automation will, therefore, play an increasingly critical role in the evolution of laboratory processes.
Critical stages of the NGS (next generation sequencing) workflow are already being automated by a variety of hardware and software innovations. Robotic solutions, for example, play an important role in addressing the substantial bottlenecks created by humans preparing lab samples.
In the next two to three years, automation of a different kind will help us to fully leverage the precision and speed of NGS technologies. The effective automation of bioinformatic workflows will dramatically increase our ability to analyze enormous bodies of data and identify macro-level trends across large volumes of data.
By leveraging NGS technologies and the technologies that automate NGS workflows — from library preparation to sequencing, analysis, and interpretation — the food industry at large will finally have the kinds of tools and information it needs to proactively identify threats and prevent outbreaks from occurring.
Sequencing secrets
Next generation sequencing is on its own an automated DNA sequencing technology. The technology has revolutionized the study of genomics and is quickly making inroads in food safety applications. NGS has distinct advantages over traditional sampling methods like Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) or antigen-based methods.
First, NGS generates and analyzes millions of sequences per run, allowing researchers to sequence, re-sequence and compare data at a rate previously not possible. Second, NGS testing is universal, while PCR testing methods are targeted. With PCR you have to know what you expect to find in order to test for it. What’s more, each target requires a separate testing run. This is costly and doesn’t scale.
By contrast, a single NGS test exposes the precise ingredients and all potential threats — both expected — in any given sample. In the not too distant future, the cost and speed of NGS will meet and then surpass legacy technologies.
Adopting NGS technologies, however, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve solved a number of bottlenecks in workflow. Robotics is playing a key role in automating critical stages of the NGS workflow.
Challenges to food analysis automation
Preparing sample materials for food testing workflows requires a coordinated series of molecular biology reactions. Library prep can take up to 60 percent of a lab technician’s time and directly impacts the quality of resulting analyses. This process, known as sample preparation or library preparation, can be performed manually or automatically and can vary according to application and throughput.
In clinical and pharmaceutical settings, for example, robotic systems automate numerous operations, including liquid handling, creating efficiencies and helping to generate the highest quality data possible.
Adopting existing robotics systems for food testing is not as straightforward as it might seem, though. In doing so, the food testing industry has had to overcome unique challenges. In contrast to the materials being analyzed in clinical and pharmaceutical settings, food comes in a wide variety of forms: environmental samples, packaged foods, dairy, meat, and produce in solid, liquid, powdered, frozen, cooked, raw and concentrated forms. All of these require different methods of preparation before they can be analyzed.
Another challenge inherent to food analysis is that the compounds in natural products are variably distributed throughout unprepared samples. Complex food items further complicate this issue, as dozens of ingredients can be heterogeneously distributed throughout any given product.
Cryogenic mills or grinders blend samples at low temperatures and are often used to prepare samples of fruits and vegetables being analyzed for volatile pesticides. These mills and grinders produce homogenous samples of small sizes that can be held in a relatively small volumes of solution. This is important because it increases the efficiency of liquid-handling applications, those most commonly automated in today’s food testing labs.
Robotic liquid handling
Having long been deployed in clinical settings, robotic liquid handlers are a mature and reliable technology. The same handler a food lab has used to prepare samples for PCR can be deployed to prepare samples for NGS.
Robotic liquid handlers are XYZ robotic systems that dispense selected quantities of samples, reagent, or other solutions into the appropriate containers for any given application. Some examples on the market include: BioRad’s iQ-Check Prep System, a robotics platform that performs DNA extraction and PCR plate set-up, as well as Illumina’s automated solutions that are specific to NGS sample prep.
Food safety’s next frontier
Beyond robotics, another target for automation in the near term time is in artificial intelligence and machine learning to amplify our existing bioinformatic workflows. NGS provides an enormous amount of data, much of which goes unused in food safety applications today. The next revolution in food safety is in automating data-science operations that can leverage this data.
Automating bioinformatic workflows will dramatically increase our ability to analyze enormous bodies of data and identify macro-level trends. Imagine the insights we could gain when we combine trillions of genomic data points from each phase in the food safety testing process — from routine pathogen testing to environmental monitoring to serotyping.
The first step is to unify all of the various tests performed at each stage of the food safety workflow into a single, universal test. Just having the all this data in a single place represents enormous opportunity.
We could begin to query the data for questions you’d typically ask of your food safety systems:
•What is the risk profile of a given sample?
•Does it contain harmful pathogens?
•What strains are present?
•Are the pathogens from a supplier or the environment in which it was manufactured?
A single algorithm could reveal such information in a single test run.
This is just the first layer of automation — which on its own we expect to drive down the costs of testing, increase scale, and reduce errors that emerge in today’s data silos.
Where it gets interesting is when you add in a secondary layer of automation in the form of machine learning and artificial intelligence. That’s how our industry will truly get our data to work harder for us. Imagine what’s possible when we can automate insights that are impossible to identify today without a team of bioinformaticians working with reams of data over long periods of time?
With the addition of machine learning, we can conduct analyses across bioinformatics runs. We can associate genomic data with data gathered across the supply chain. This will dramatically enhance our ability to identify emerging pathogen threats, locate problematic suppliers, build rapid response consumer-alert systems, model for long-term threats of climate change, and even draw conclusions about consumer preferences.
What’s next?
 The holy grail of food safety is to have end-to-end systems in place for gathering supply chain and sequencing data, which can then be appended to and stored on immutable decentralized block chains.
We’re not too far off from that. Recent advances in IoT are making it easier than ever before to gather data at each stage of the supply chain, from farm to table.
Block chain technology is already being tested for food industry use cases in large pilots with top global brands. We’re even starting to see the first miniaturized sequencers becoming commercially available, which is the first step toward in-line sequencing.
The essential technological components exist. In order to build the end-to-end system of the food safety future, we will have to fuse these components and
their operation together. That is an enormous technological, infrastructural, and cultural challenge. I’m confident we’ll get there. The opportunities are too great to imagine otherwise.

 

 


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EU Salmonella Food Poisoning Cases Risen Since 2014
Source : http://www.qualityassurancemag.com/article/eu-salmonella-food-poisoning-cases-risen-since-2014/
By qualityassurancemag.co (Dec 13, 2017)
Increase is a reversal of a decade-long declining trend.
LONDON –  The number of salmonella food poisoning cases in the European Union has risen by 3 percent since 2014 in a "worrying" reversal of a decade-long declining trend, EU health and food safety officials said on Tuesday.
Salmonella bacteria was the most common cause of food-borne illness in 2016, accounting for 22.3 percent of outbreaks, compared with 11.5 percent in 2015, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said in a report.
There were 94,530 human cases of salmonellosis reported in the EU in 2016, it said. Salmonella enteritidis, the most common type and one mostly linked with eating eggs and poultry, accounted for 59 percent of cases originating in the EU.
BABY MILK MAKER ORDERS GLOBAL RECALL OVER SALMONELLA FEARS
"The increase shown by our surveillance data is worrying and a reminder that we have to stay vigilant," said the ECDC's chief scientist, Mike Catchpole.
Salmonella food poisoning can cause diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps and vomiting. These symptoms typically come between one and three days after infection and last four to seven days. More severe cases can cause death. A total of 1,766 people were admitted to hospital with salmonella in 2016 and there were 10 salmonella deaths.
The EFSA and ECDC report, which looked at outbreaks of food-borne disease in the EU, said that overall outbreak numbers were broadly stable, with 4,786 food-borne outbreaks in 2016 compared with 4,362 in 2015.
Campylobacter, common in chicken meat, caused a high number of infections, though fatalities were low, the report said.
Listeria infections, which are generally more severe, led to hospitalization in 97 percent of reported cases. Listeriosis killed 247 people in the EU last year.

Food Safety Testing: What Are Your Options?
Source : https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/december-2017january-2018/food-safety-testing-what-are-your-options/
By Timothy A. Freier, Ph.D.
According to a recent study by MarketsandMarkets Research,[1] the global food safety testing market size was over $12.01 billion in 2016 and is projected to reach $18.41 billion by 2022. This growth magnifies the need for fast, accurate analytical test results—and demand has never been greater. Increased consumer interest in food safety and quality issues, and the capability to rapidly share these issues through social media, combined with expanding regulatory initiatives such as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), are increasing the importance of testing. Many food and feed manufacturers are reevaluating their options for how to conduct this critical testing as efficiently as possible. One option that is nearly always considered is setting up an in-house lab. Below are some topics to consider if you are contemplating an in-house lab.
Physical Space
When looking to set up an in-house lab, remember that planning the physical layout of the space is crucial. Specialized air-handling systems, filters and maintenance programs to prevent contamination from spreading throughout the lab and into the production environment should be included in a mandatory conversation. Keeping functions segregated, implementing shoe/uniform changing facilities and procedures, and investing in special utilities such as power, steam or treated water are all options to consider when thinking about the best way to set up an efficient in-house lab. Design is also a critical factor for your in-house facility. The flow of samples, storage of supplies and staffing of employees should all be considered in advance to minimize potential risk. For example, individual work departments could include the concept of mobile workstations, which would allow for the growth and modification of future workflows and permit easier cleaning in the area. Another example is flooring. The type of flooring for any lab is a key consideration and often overlooked. Seams, cracking and resistance to chemicals used for cleaning will all need to be taken into account when you are designing an in-house lab.
Specialized Equipment
Equipment for chemistry, such as complex chromatography systems, has always been expensive. A single system such as a liquid chromatograph-tandem mass spectrometry system can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. And that is just the upfront cost. Maintenance on these systems can cost tens of thousands of dollars per year. Equipment used for microbiology is also getting more expensive. While pipettes and Petri dishes are relatively cheap, automated pathogen detection and subtyping systems can climb into the six-digit range. Try to plan out your 3- and 5-year testing strategies before you invest in equipment and start preparing the physical layout of your lab.
Staffing
Finding and retaining good employees will be another crucial step and consideration in building out your in-house lab. In addition to finding the right people to run your lab, you will want to find experts who have their fingers on the pulse of the industry—and then keep them! Ongoing training requirements and covering absences will be something to work on with your human resources department in advance. Also, keep in mind that despite how experienced a person is when first hired, extensive training is typically required before an employee can conduct any testing.
ISO Accreditation
In the U.S., the regulations do not yet require ISO accreditation for most testing. However, more and more scrutiny is being placed on how critical testing is conducted. Having ISO 17025 accreditation is becoming a normal expectation. Attaining this accreditation can be a very labor-intensive and costly endeavor for any in-house lab. Producing the systems and documentation required for ISO accreditation can take hundreds of person-hours to accomplish.
The ISO 17025 standard was last published over 10 years ago, and the requirements are now evolving. In fact, a new draft revision of the ISO 17025 standard is expected to be published by the end of the year. The draft revision is expected to encompass several changes related to management, structure and documentation requirements. Some of the proposed changes would impose an increased emphasis on processes and risk management.
The revised standard has been described as closely aligned with the general principles of the ISO 9001:2015 standard, and subsequently, there is an increased emphasis on outcomes rather than documented procedures. For example, the revised ISO 17025 standard would emphasize the results of a process rather than the specific steps of completing a process.
While a formalized risk management approach seems unlikely, the draft revision is expected to require labs to implement actions to identify and address risks deemed appropriate to each lab. Overall, the risk management requirements would emphasize the importance of a highly effective quality management system for ensuring the quality of test results.
In terms of structure, the draft standard revises the current order of the standard, separates processes into core and supporting processes, and modifies certain definitions. For example, the revised ISO 17025 standard has broadened the definition of “laboratory” to be a body involved with calibration, testing or sampling activities.
Companies that are currently accredited to ISO 17025 will be granted up to 3 years during which to comply with the revised standard, but it is important to note the new requirements could impose a significant burden on many lab operations.
Regulatory and Client Scrutiny
FSMA has given the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) new authority to review records, including details of how critical verification testing is conducted. The new FSMA-type inspections are just beginning, but it is expected that FDA investigators will be questioning the scientific validity of test results. This may lead to in-depth documentation reviews of the laboratory testing.
Customers of ingredient suppliers are also beginning to look closer at how verification testing is conducted. FSMA is increasing the pressure to understand how hazards are being controlled, monitored and verified throughout the supply chain. In many cases, it is expected that ingredients will be tested in an ISO-accredited lab or a lab that has been audited and approved.
Turnaround Time Requirements
One might assume that the fastest way to get test results is to have an in-house lab right next to the production facility. However, situations like having sporadic high sample volumes or employee absences can delay the testing. Keep in mind, a large contract lab can more easily absorb these issues and continue to meet the required turnaround times. Before investing in an in-house lab, make sure to research the pros and cons. Also, be sure you know where the closest contract lab is located in case you need to send overflow samples or just need the occasional help with big-volume orders.
Hidden Costs
It is never easy to reckon all the costs of setting up an in-house lab. In addition to the initial costs to build the lab and hire the people, there are many ongoing costs. These are just some: utilities, proficiency testing programs, ongoing training, equipment calibration and routine maintenance (which often needs to be done by outside contractors), human resources and administration assistance, laboratory information management system installation and maintenance and other IT assistance, quality assurance sampling and recordkeeping, special considerations for Occupational Safety and Health Administration compliance, time spent for client visits or audits, and purchase of expensive chemical standards, microbiological cultures and calibration equipment. Again, I cannot stress enough how important it is to do your research in the planning phase for your in-house lab. You do not want to get your lab built and then realize you can’t afford to move forward because of all the hidden costs.
Keeping Up with New Technologies
The pace of innovation and improvements for chemical and microbiological testing is accelerating. Areas such as nontargeted detection, chemometrics and next-generation sequencing could completely change how we conduct food safety and quality testing. Large commercial labs have people dedicated to following these developments and working with scientific organizations and method developers to understand and implement these new technologies. An in-house lab may not have these resources and may find itself using outdated technologies.
Ability to Troubleshoot
Many new detection technologies look relatively simple to use. Because of automation, some of these systems involve simply adding the sample, pushing a button and waiting for the results to come out. However, nothing is ever that simple! A good understanding of the underlying principles of how a method actually works is necessary to be able to sort out the atypical results that will inevitably arise. An in-house lab may not have personnel with this in-depth technical knowledge and will need to rely on vendors or outside experts to help, potentially delaying critical actions.
Increasing Need for Method Validation and Verification
Many people might assume that if a detection method has gone through validation by a respected organization, such as AOAC, that it has been given the green light for all samples. However, there is a growing understanding that validating or verifying methods to make sure they work for special matrices or sample sizes is critically important. Guidance for validating and verifying rapid microbiological detection methods is available from FDA, and ISO 16140-2:2016 also considers validation of an alternative method to a reference method. A new chapter to ISO 16140 (Chapter 4) is still under development but will give guidance for how an individual lab can conduct validation and verification of microbiology methods. New detection methods with rapid turnaround times are typically operating very close to the detection limits. A food matrix that might have some inhibitory properties (certain spices, for example) can slow the growth of the target microorganism. If the method was not validated for this matrix in the original official validation studies, the laboratory will need to conduct its own validation. In addition, many food and feed manufacturers are moving to more scientifically justifiable sample plans, such as those specified by the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods. This typically involves testing many samples (15, 30 or even 60) from a production lot. To save costs, labs are compositing individual samples together to do a single enrichment and detection. If the original method was validated for 25-g samples, and now the lab is testing 375-g composite samples, the test method needs to be validated for this larger sample size. These validation studies can be very involved and require expert microbiologists to determine the need for the study, conduct the study and interpret the results. Often, test methods need to be tweaked (extend the incubation, limit the sample size, add neutralizing agents, etc.) to validate their efficacy for a specific matrix. When staffing your in-house lab, make sure you have the expert microbiologists who have performed method validation and verification studies. This investment will save you time, money and customers in the future.
Summary
An in-house lab is just one option for testing food samples. As the food industry evolves, there is an increasing trend to outsource testing to third-party contract labs. If you are considering an in-house lab, please make sure you plan properly, using the above as a guide.  
Timothy A. Freier, Ph.D., has over 20 years of experience as an applied food microbiologist. He joined Mérieux NutriSciences in 1996 as the technical director and director of education services and is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Food Safety Magazine. He is now the division vice president for scientific affairs–microbiology, has published several refereed journal articles, book chapters and patents, and given numerous presentations on a variety of food safety-related topics.
Reference
1. www.marketsandmarkets.com/.

Salmonella Outbreak in Oregon and Washington State: Not the First Time Cantaloupe Has Been Contaminated
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/salmonella-outbreak-oregon-washington-cantaloupe/
By News Desk (Dec 14, 2017)
The Salmonella outbreak in Washington state and Oregon that has sickened at least 18 people has been linked to precut cantaloupe, watermelon, or fruit mixes containing both of these fruits. Most people don’t think of fruit as being a source of pathogenic bacteria, but this is not the first time melons have been linked to a food poisoning outbreak.

Salmonella Newport Outbreak in WA and OR: Why is Precut Fruit a Food Poisoning Risk?
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/precut-fruit-food-poisoning-risk/
By Linda Larsen (Dec 13, 2017)
A Salmonella Newport outbreak in Washington and Oregon has been linked to precut fruit sold at QFC, Fred Meyer, Rosauers, and Central Market stores. How is this possible? How can fruit, which doesn’t naturally carry pathogenic bacteria like meats and poultry do, be contaminated?
Most people don’t know that eating produce is the most common way people get food poisoning. In fact, Salmonella is the most common pathogen found on produce. The fruits and vegetables can be contaminated in the field by animal feces or by contaminated irrigation water. They can be contaminated during harvest, or during processing or transportation before they even get to the stores. And cutting fruits and vegetables at those stores or at distribution centers can multiply the problem.
Whenever a piece of fruit that has bacteria on its surface is cut, that bacteria is spread to the flesh of the fruit. That’s why consumers are told to always rinse off fruits and vegetables before they are cut. And when contaminated pieces of fruit are mixed with others, the bacteria spreads further. One contaminated piece of fruit, cut into pieces, can contaminate a large batch of food.
Public health officials in Washington are trying to determine the source of the fruit, where it was processed, and where it was cut and packaged. There may be more retailers that carried the recalled product.
This isn’t the first time that precut fruit has been contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. In 2014, Kirkland Signature Fruit was recalled at Costco stores for possible Salmonella contamination. No illnesses were linked to that recall.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. These symptoms usually appear 12 to 72 hours after a person eats food contaminated with the bacteria.
Most people recover on their own without medical treatment after this infection, but some do get so sick they have to be hospitalized. Infants, pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and people with health problems are more likely to have severe complications after this illness.

If you ate precut watermelon, cantaloupe, or fruit mixes in Washington or Oregon and have been experiencing these symptoms, see your doctor. A Salmonella infection can have long term health complications even if you recover completely, so your doctor should be aware of this illness.
The experienced lawyers at the noted law firm Pritzker Hageman  represents and helps people who have been sickened by contaminated food such as recalled contaminated fruit. We get answers,  justice, and compensation for those who have been injured through our work. Our lawyers represent clients sickened with bacterial infections in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against retailers, grocery stores, food processors, restaurants, growers, and others. Attorney Fred Pritzker and his team recently won $7.5 million for a young client whose kidneys failed after he developed hemolytic uremic syndrome with an E. coli O157:H7 infection. Please note that class action lawsuits are usually not appropriate for outbreak victims because these types of cases are very unique.

Does Europe have an egg problem? Salmonella cases no longer falling in the EU
Source : http://www.barfblog.com/2017/12/does-europe-have-an-egg-problem-salmonella-cases-no-longer-falling-in-the-eu/
By Doug Powell (Dec 13, 2017)
The declining trend of salmonellosis cases in the EU has levelled off according to the annual report on zoonotic diseases published today.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reports that cases of Salmonella Enteritiis acquired in the EU have increased in humans by 3% since 2014. In laying hens, the prevalence increased from 0.7% to 1.21% over the same period.
“The increase shown by our surveillance data is worrying and a reminder that we have to stay vigilant,” said Mike Catchpole, ECDC’s Chief Scientist. “Even in a state of high awareness and with national control programmes for S. Enteritidis in place, there is a need for continuing risk management actions at the Member State and EU level,” he added.
Marta Hugas, EFSA’s Chief Scientist, said: “The decrease of Salmonella has been a success story in the EU food safety system in the last 10 years. Recent S. Enteritidis outbreaks contributed to a change in this trend in humans and poultry. Further investigations by competent authorities in the field of public health and food safety will be crucial to understand the reasons behind the increase.”
There were 94 530 human cases of salmonellosis reported in the EU in 2016. S. Enteritidis – the most widespread type of Salmonella, accounted for 59% of all salmonellosis cases originating in the EU and is mostly associated with the consumption of eggs, egg products and poultry meat.
Campylobacter and Listeria
Campylobacter, the most reported food-borne pathogen in humans, was detected in 246 307 people, an increase of 6.1% compared with 2015. Despite the high number of cases, fatalities were low (0.03%). Levels of Campylobacter are high in chicken meat.
Listeria infections, which are generally more severe, led to hospitalisation in 97% of reported cases. In 2016, listeriosis continued to rise, with 2 536 cases (a 9.3% increase) and 247 deaths reported. Most deaths occur in people aged over 64 (fatality rate of 18.9%). People over 84 are particularly at risk (fatality rate of 26.1%). Listeria seldom exceeded legal safety limits in ready-to-eat foods.
Salmonella food-borne outbreaks increasing
The 4 786 food-borne disease outbreaks reported in 2016 represent a slight increase in comparison with 2015 (4 362 outbreaks), but the figure is similar to the average number of outbreaks in the EU during 2010–2016.
Outbreaks due to Salmonella are on the rise, with S. Enteritidis causing one in six food-borne disease outbreaks in 2016. Salmonella bacteria were the most common cause of food-borne outbreaks (22.3%), an increase of 11.5% compared to 2015. They caused the highest burden in terms of numbers of hospitalisations (1,766; 45.6% of all hospitalised cases) and of deaths (10; 50% of all deaths among outbreak cases).
Salmonella in eggs caused the highest number of outbreak cases (1 882).

Key New (and Not So New) Food Safety Challenges
Source : https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/december-2017january-2018/key-new-and-not-so-new-food-safety-challenges/
By Larry Keener, CFS, PCQI
“Gluten-free diets becoming more common even if celiac disease isn’t.” “California adds glyphosate to list of cancer-causing chemicals.” “Flour recalled over possible link to E. coli outbreak.” “Huge recall of frozen fruits and vegetables after Listeria outbreak.” “Brazil’s largest food companies raided in tainted meat scandal.” “Recalls of organic food on the rise.” “Sally the salad robot is aimed at reducing the risk of foodborne illness by assembling salads out of precut vegetables stored in refrigerated canisters.” “Hurricane Harvey brings food safety challenges to millions.” As these headline news items attest, there are growing challenges in food safety that companies must address to remain innovative and grow their businesses.
Despite significant advances in detection tools, regulations, monitoring and consumer education on food safety, reports of foodborne illness outbreaks are expected to increase. More sensitive testing methods, changing consumer behaviors, climate change, modes of transportation and increasing complexity and globalization of the supply chain all contribute to this increase. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that foodborne diseases cause an estimated 48 million illnesses each year in the United States, including 9.4 million caused by known pathogens.
Food safety challenges exist along each step of the supply chain from concept to commercialization. The very name “supply chain” assumes that this is a linear relationship.  However, as we all know, the complexity of the current supply chain from farm to fork makes it difficult to accurately manage the challenges facing us today, so organizations must reduce the complexities within the supply chain to enable accurate control of the process. This will involve the proactive identification of potential risks and their mitigation, resulting in brand protection and meeting ever-changing consumer needs. Addressing these food safety challenges will require investments in information technology (IT), end-to-end management of the supply chain and building food safety capability from the CEO down to the line operators. The following key areas must be managed to address the new food safety challenges facing the food industry.
Information Technology
Capturing digital information across the supply chain is difficult. Most organizations are still using spreadsheets or have multiple stand-alone systems. The capability to harvest these data and gain insights is becoming more of a necessity than a luxury. A company cannot afford to not have these systems in place to mine vast amounts of data to identify and prevent risks.
Moreover, these IT tools can impact productivity as well as food safety and quality. An excellent example is the potential use of Blockchain technology to monitor performance and behaviors of supply chain partners. Blockchain has also been shown to be an effective tool in the management of food fraud and food defense issues. Leading multinational food companies have begun to take notice and invest in Blockchain technology. Yet, with these advances, we also encounter new vulnerabilities for the enterprise. Hacking, identity theft and other modes of internet-mediated fraud are major challenges. It is easy to imagine the possibility of having the company’s operations be brought to a grinding halt due to internet intruders gaining access to a company’s critical information and processes. This is most assuredly a new and evolving threat. The ramifications of these illicit internet activities for food safety must be given priority consideration in the company’s business plans and risk assessment activities.
Supply Chain Management
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link: Manufacturers need to maintain a strong perimeter defense. For many in the industry, the safety of the ingredients, packaging and equipment coming into our facilities is the weakest link. After all, the complexities of managing what comes into our buildings can be vast and overwhelming. The global food supply depends on highly efficient and well-regulated supply chains. Under the best conditions and with state-of-the-art controls, supply chains represent a monumental source of risk for food safety and also for an enterprise’s financial well-being. Shareholder performance correlates well with supply chain management.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) recognizes the vulnerability of suppliers and heavily regulates minimum standards that every U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-regulated food facility must follow. For those overwhelmed by the prospect of building a supplier management system, FSMA is a good (and required) place to start. But is it enough? Does compliance with the regulations protect you against the unexpected, the “known unknowns”?  
The following are among FDA’s key new import authorities and mandates relating to the control of inbound supply chain management.
•    Importer accountability: For the first time, importers have an explicit responsibility to verify that their foreign suppliers have adequate preventive controls in place to ensure that the food they produce is safe.
•    Third-party certification: FSMA establishes a program through which qualified third parties can certify that foreign food facilities comply with U.S. food safety standards. This certification may be used to facilitate the entry of imports.
•    Certification for high-risk foods: FDA has the authority to require that high-risk imported foods be accompanied by a credible third-party certification or other assurance of compliance as a condition of entry into the U.S.
•    Voluntary Qualified Importer Program: FDA must establish a voluntary program for importers that provides for expedited review and entry of foods from participating importers. Eligibility is limited to, among other things, importers offering food from certified facilities.
•    Authority to deny entry: FDA can refuse entry into the U.S. of food from a foreign facility if FDA is denied access by the facility or the country in which the facility is located.
Food Safety Leadership
Management commitment is essential to ensure that food safety challenges are adequately controlled to maximize business performance and to minimize disruption resulting from failures to protect the consumer. To ensure that food safety is an enabler of business growth, company leadership must provide adequate and necessary resources and demonstrate behaviors that support the importance of food safety in limiting or mitigating enterprise risk.
Food safety professionals must move from a compliance function to the role of business partner who infuses food safety into the company strategy. They must become great storytellers when communicating or selling food safety initiatives to show both the ability to produce safe food and enable business growth. Food safety professionals must be able to show the benefits and return on investment of these key food safety initiatives. Food safety professionals must also build food safety knowledge with frontline operators to help change behaviors and ensure food safety plays a critical role in getting product out the door.
If we accept and understand that modern food processing can be traced to 1810 with the opening of a canning plant in France and that food safety as a subject was first codified in 1906 with the advent of the Pure Food and Drug Act, then we understand that food safety as a discipline is not really a new topic, but only in 2011 was the most comprehensive food safety legislation, FSMA, finally enacted. Food companies large and small are still grappling with the concept of food safety and how or where it fits into their corporate culture. CEOs and CFOs and their corporate boards are standing up and taking notice. Food safety is a critical business process that demands the highest level of visibility in the corporate structure and strategic plan. Leading food companies have made this calculation and understand the importance of ensuring that the products they manufacture and market will not cause irrevocable harm to the consumer or to the enterprise.
Discussions of “food safety culture” are very topical. The best food safety culture will only be a subset of a much broader corporate culture. Defining a corporate culture is the CEO’s prerogative. When food safety executives are effective in causing the organization to consider food safety proactively instead of as an afterthought, and when food safety is a part of every transactional conversation, it is then part of the company’s culture. Food safety is about risk and risk tolerance. A CEO’s propensity for risk will impact both corporate and food safety culture.
Other Important Challenges to Consider
Infrastructure
Government officials have noted that the U.S. needs increased infrastructure investment to strengthen our economy, enhance our competitiveness in world trade, create jobs and increase wages for our workers and reduce the costs of goods and services for our families. It is further noted that the poor condition of the U.S. infrastructure has been estimated to cost a typical American household thousands of dollars each year.
Experts in the field report that infrastructure projects, like roads and bridges, should be designed to survive rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change (see below). They report that this approach to infrastructure enhancement would protect taxpayer dollars spent on projects in areas prone to flooding and also improve “climate resilience” across the U.S.—that is, a community’s ability to cope with the consequences of global warming.
Since 2011, the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, is compelling proof that the water distribution systems across the country are at risk and so too are the populations that they service. We have a very old water infrastructure in our nation, with many areas still maintaining Civil War-era cast-iron pipes, with an estimated useful life of 150 years (at the time of installation). “A major symptom of the aging water infrastructure includes 300,000 water main breaks in North America as a result of widespread corrosion problems, adding up to a $50.7 billion annual drain on our economy. Leaking pipes are also losing an estimated 2.6 trillion gallons of treated drinking water annually, representing $4.1 billion in wasted electricity every year.”[1]
From personal experience, a ruptured main in a 150-year-old distribution system in a northern Kentucky town took several weeks for public health authorities and FDA to pronounce it free of contaminants and its water safe for consumption and use in food processing operations. Moreover, affected food companies were required to destroy significant quantities of food that had been manufactured after a sustained pressure drop had been confirmed within the distribution system. Additionally, the impacted municipality did not have the laboratory capacity to monitor the microbiological safety of its water supply during and after the failure. Recovery and testing were aided by the labs of a large ice cream producer and food processor based in the town.
The inundation of water treatment facilities with floodwater, during some natural disasters, as described below, is an immense public health challenge. With such a catastrophic occurrence, it would be reasonable to conclude that the entire water distribution system has also been compromised. In older systems where potable waterlines and raw sewage lines are contained in a common subterranean vault, there is the real threat of dangerous microbes being introduced into the water distribution system. In this situation, the safety of the water supply depends on pipe integrity and on the pressure differential between the potable waterline and the raw sewage line. That is, the higher pressure on the waterline would preclude the entry of materials leaking from the sewage line in the event of a failure.
Natural Disasters
Between August 25 and September 11, 2017, the U.S. mainland was inundated by hurricanes Harvey (August 25) and Irma (September 11). Within weeks of those catastrophic storms, hurricanes Jose and Maria (September 20, 2017) ravaged the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and other islands of the Atlantic basin. The damage to the infrastructure in the affected communities varied. The preliminary cost of storm-related damage from Hurricane Harvey alone was estimated between $70 and $200 billion. Damage estimates from Puerto Rico, where the infrastructure was all but obliterated by hurricanes Jose and Maria, are currently beyond speculation. One month after September 20, only 45% of the island’s population has access to clean water; more than 80% of the island is without electrification; 50% of the main highways remain closed due to damage or debris; and 25% of the country’s ports remain inoperable.
The relevance to food safety management is that with the advent of global warming, new strategies are needed for control over supply chains and protection of public health. Imagine a food processing operation in Houston, post-Hurricane Harvey and what it will take to bring that facility back on line. Most assuredly, the water supply and sewer systems were heavily damaged. Owing to the density of the petrochemical industry in that area and damage to its infrastructure, an assortment of exotic chemicals could find their way into groundwater and water treatment facilities. It is inconceivable that absent federal intervention from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, these infrastructure challenges can be resolved. So, not only is the manufacture of food suspended, but there will also be questions about the public health status of previously processed food and food ingredients in the manufacturing supply chains. Raw materials and ingredients that may have been held up in transit due to failed roads, railways and ports will demand a comprehensive food safety assessment. One might also imagine a cold storage distribution center that has flooded and lost power. In this case, the food safety assessment would probably involve representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service, local public health officials as well as company food safety personnel. In this example, the disposition would most likely be straightforward and predicated on maintaining proper cold-chain integrity. If the cold chain were preserved and objective data available to document this, then the food might likely be judged safe. But in the absence of objective data, one could only conclude that the materials are unfit for human consumption. In the last several years, cloud-based monitoring technologies have emerged that may be helpful in the acquisition and preservation of critical storage temperature data.
In contrast, food safety assessments where packaged or canned foods are involved might not be so straightforward. A company taking a very conservative approach in managing the disposition of affected materials could encounter difficulty with FDA. That is, the agency would probably be inclined to conclude that the canned and packaged foods may have been held under insanitary conditions where they may have become adulterated and are not fit for human consumption. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for these sorts of disasters. It is understood that all concerned parties, the marketing and manufacturing company and the regulatory agency staff, are trying to do their best to protect public health. Planning and guidance for managing adverse weather or infrastructure failure events should be included in the company’s crisis management and special events procedures.
Another scenario might involve raw material and ingredients delayed in transit. It is easy to envisage railcars, over-the-road transport vehicles or ships containing sensitive food ingredients that are unable to deliver because of infrastructure compromised by a natural disaster. In most cases, these items are to be delivered for a just-in-time production schedule, and shipments might include highly perishable materials. Imagine the predicament of a juice processor with a sea tanker load of orange juice, intended for further processing, stuck in port for a week or more without the ability to unload its cargo. This vast quantity of juice would most likely spoil before it could be offloaded and processed. There are many less dramatic but equally challenging examples involving shipment of mixed loads of food and other nonfood materials that should be considered. This situation represents a potentially insidious threat, depending on the nature of the products involved. These scenarios must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to establish the threat and risk to food safety.
Weather- and infrastructure-related events are increasingly a challenge for food safety management. These threats must be considered in the company’s crisis management program. The food safety team, in conjunction with legal, logistics and others, should conduct a failure modes and effects analysis and consider storm events and infrastructure failures as part of the exercise. From experience working with clients in hurricane-prone areas, for example, where the risk assessment leads to the development of plans for the removal and relocation of the plant’s critical manufacturing assets, retorts, kettles, heaters and packaging line equipment were on the relocation list. This sounds extreme, but in fact, the company preserved its property and probably ensured a speedy recovery of its plant operations.
Validation
Among the myriad challenges facing the food industry is the new FSMA requirement for the validation of preventive controls. Validation seeks to confirm, with a high degree of confidence, that a preventive control measure of a food safety plan is effective at mitigating or reducing the identified food safety hazard to an acceptable level. Validation is a relative new concept for the food industry and is causing concern and confusion for both regulatory operatives and food safety specialists. The process validation scheme in Figure 1[2] depicts the steps involved in the validation process. Also superimposed beneath the validation scheme is the formula used for the food safety objectives. You will see when proceeding left to right that [H°] (risk characterization) is associated with the input to the process being validated. The sum of the reduction plus the sum of any increase of the hazard (–ΣR + ΣI) corresponds to the preventive control, and the output of the process is the performance objective (FSO/PO) for achieving safe food.[2]
Summary
The brave new world of food science and technology has been a boon for mankind. Today, we can produce food and foodstuffs more efficiently than ever before. The power of science and technology has transformed food processing. We have capabilities today that we dared not dream about a mere 20 years ago. Whole-genome sequencing, gluten-free grains, metagenomics, nonallergenic peanuts and high-pressure thermal sterilization are all prime examples. More and more often, the regulatory agencies are demanding that companies prospectively validate the safety of novel and emerging technologies. Innovation is disruptive and often involves a high level of risk taking. For this reason, food companies are often reluctant to lead innovation. The prevailing attitude, among industry-leading companies, toward innovation is “me too” or “we’d prefer not to be first.”
It was absolutely revolutionary 225 years ago (circa 1790) when Nicolas Appert was able to stuff food into glass bottles and immerse them in boiling water to preserve them for ambient storage. It is interesting to contemplate the potential harm that this breakthrough technology harbored. Neither Appert nor other scientists of his day had any understanding of anaerobic bacteria and most assuredly had no concept of the consequences of exposure to the deadly neurotoxin produced by Clostridium botulinum. The reader will recall that germ theory (by Louis Pasteur, Joseph Lister and Robert H. Koch) was not fully elucidated until about 1880. Yet, the canning industry has thrived and, in a very real way, changed the world and the world’s economic development. Perhaps the only other technological advancement in food to surpass the societal impact of the canning industry has been the development of mechanical refrigeration. In developed countries, the demand for food in the cold chain is rapidly expanding, so much so that the modern supermarket has been reengineered to accommodate more and more refrigerated and frozen products.
In addition to advancements in preservation technologies, we can now manipulate crops and select for specific plant attributes that would have caused Gregor Mendel to pause and ponder. The ability to genetically manipulate food and food crops is controversial. George Washington Carver, the great American food scientist of last century, reported that “farmers had every right to encourage the abundance of their crops including the use of genetic modification.” Carver studied, among other scientific disciplines at Iowa State College (1896), the genetic modification of cacti.[3] In fact, the food industry has been on the genetic modification journey for many years and with good outcomes for mankind. The truth is that man has been modifying food crops since we transitioned from hunter-gatherers to an agrarian society. Risk is an element of innovation. The food industry and its regulatory companions must be vigilant to safeguard the public from potential harm arising from the use of novel processing and preservation technologies. But at the same time, we should discourage the hunt for phantom risks that will probably impede innovation.
There is also increasingly risk to the food supply associated with natural disasters: Floods, hurricanes and wildfires are prime examples. These disasters can devastate and disrupt supply chains, which may cause great harm to the stability of society. The food industry is at great risk and the foods they manufacture susceptible to the devastation caused by flooding, fires and storms. In fact, these climate-related natural disasters may be the biggest contemporary issue facing the food industry. Climate change, an extrinsic risk, is causing the food industry, and especially food safety leaders, to rethink business plans and strategies to cope with this new reality. 

In food processing operations, there are myriad risks, both intrinsic and extrinsic. It is also understood that there is, during the mass production of human food, no such thing as zero risk. Yes, we can make exquisite measurements to a precision level of 6–7 × 10-9, but this is still not zero. There is always a residual risk, and it is the responsibility of those who manufacture and market food products to manage that risk to a level that will do no harm. It is only with this mindset that the industry together can meet these and other future challenges in food safety.  
Larry Keener, CFS, PCQI, is president and CEO of International Product Safety Consultants. He is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Food Safety Magazine.
References
1. triecker.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/critical-infrastructure-vulnerability-water-delivery-systems/.
2. Anderson, NM et al. 2011. “Food Safety Objective Approach for Controlling Clostridium botulinum Growth and Toxin Production in Commercially Sterile Foods.” J Food Prot 74(11):1956–1989. doi:10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-11-082.
3. Hersey, MD. My Work Is That of Conservation: An Environmental Biography of George Washington Carver (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2011).
Resources
1. www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/junejuly-2017/the-supply-chain-and-food-safety-culture-distribution/.
2. www.provisioneronline.com/articles/104300-dont-save-bad-pennies-with-older-meat-and-poultry-plants-equipment.
3. www.labmanager.com/insights/2015/12/insights-on-food-safety#.WfjHRltSwdU.
4. www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/augustseptember-2013/the-squeaky-wheel-is-transporation-the-watershed-for-food-safety-and-food-defense/.
5. www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/junejuly-2011/ex-ante-or-ex-post-food-safety-strategies-process-validation-versus-inspection-and-testing/.
6. www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/februarymarch-2006/hurdling-new-technology-challenges-investing-in-process-validation-of-novel-technologies/.    
7. www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/octobernovember-2003/transportation-the-squeaky-wheel-of-the-food-safety-system/.    
8. www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/octobernovember-2001/water-ensuring-its-safety-for-use-in-food-processing-operations/.    
9. Keener, L. 1999. “Mechanistics of Selling Food Safety,” Food Testing & Analysis 5(4).
10. Keener, L et al. 2014. “Harmonization of Legislation and Regulations to Achieve Food Safety: U.S. and Canada Perspective.” J Sci Food Agric 94(10):1947–1953.

The Most Overlooked Source of Contamination in the Food Chain?
Source : https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/december-2017january-2018/the-most-overlooked-source-of-contamination-in-the-food-chain/
By foodsafetymagazine.com
Plastic cutting boards all have one thing in common: After repeated use, they become difficult to clean and, some would argue, impossible to sanitize. Even the Food Code acknowledges this in Section 4-501.12 Cutting Surfaces: Cutting surfaces such as cutting boards and blocks that become scratched and scored may be difficult to clean and sanitize. As a result, pathogenic microorganisms transmissible through food may build up or accumulate. These microorganisms may be transferred to foods that are prepared on such surfaces.
Most food industry professionals realize that just one foodborne illness can dramatically impact the viability of their business and livelihood. They follow Food Code guidelines, develop sophisticated food safety plans, establish checks and balances at Critical Control Points and welcome inspections to validate their successes and learn from their shortcomings. But what do you do when one highly visible, primary food contact surface is always out of compliance? Unfortunately, the answer seems to be “not much.”
Below, important issues are raised regarding the use and misuse of plastic cutting boards in the food processing and foodservice industries. Unfortunately, there are not many definitive solutions or alternatives available. The following problems are associated with plastic cutting boards:
•    Plastic scores easily when cut on with a sharp knife, creating the perfect environment for microorganisms.
•    Sanitizers are ineffective down in the microgrooves where bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms have a perfect environment to thrive.
•    Over time, plastic starts to slough off, leaving a trough of missing plastic.
Let’s explore these problems in greater detail.
If you look closely at any used plastic cutting board, you will notice two things: It is stained and missing material. The process of cutting your board into tiny pieces is inevitable and begins immediately whether you are slicing, chopping, rocking or just sliding the cut foods into a bowl or pan.
Although all the plastic cutting boards sold in the U.S. are certified by the National Sanitation Foundation and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, they are not all created equal. Many boards are made of either polypropylene or soft injection-molded polyethylene. This material is very soft, scores easily and begins to enter the food chain immediately. As such, it should not be used in high-volume commercial food preparation. To make matters worse, this material cannot be resurfaced and ends up in the local landfill.
The best commercially available plastic is extruded, food-grade high-density polyethylene (HDPE). It is the only type of cutting board material that is harder to score, more durable, resists warping during high temperature cleaning/sanitizing and can be resurfaced. But even this material has its flaws. Repeated cutting on even HDPE still leaves microgrooves and begins the process of material sloughing off into the food chain.
A sharp knife can create a groove that is approximately one micron wide at its deepest point. The knife edge can pick up and deposit microorganisms each time it cuts into the board. Unlike wood, which can self-seal and smother potentially harmful organisms, plastic does not seal itself. Once a cut is made, it stays open. As more and more cuts are made deeper and deeper, a labyrinth of pockets create the perfect environment for microorganisms to multiply and thrive. Sanitizers may achieve a 99.999 percent or 5-log reduction of microbes on the surface of the cutting board. But beneath the surface, at the bottom of the cut marks, the kill rate is probably closer to nil.
One of the most important characteristics of food contact surfaces is that they must be smooth. “Smooth” is defined in the Food Code as having a surface free of pits and inclusions with a cleanability equal to or exceeding that of (100 grit) number 3 stainless steel. However, within just a few short hours of use, a plastic cutting board is almost always out of compliance with the health code because it can no longer be considered “smooth.”
Just because plastic cutting boards are made of “food grade” material does not mean that we should be eating it. Plastic is a petroleum-based product. As such, it is made of chemicals not found in nature that humans were not meant to ingest. Couple that with the potential threat that harmful microorganisms, viruses and bacteria cause by hitching a ride into the food chain, and you have a recipe for foodborne illness.

EU health and food safety experts warn of stubborn salmonella
Source : https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-europe-salmonella/eu-health-and-food-safety-experts-warn-of-stubborn-salmonella-idUSKBN1E61LI
By Reuters Staff (Dec 12, 2017)
The number of salmonella food poisoning cases in the European Union has risen by 3 percent since 2014 in a “worrying” reversal of a decade-long declining trend, EU health and food safety officials said on Tuesday.
Salmonella bacteria was the most common cause of food-borne illness in 2016, accounting for 22.3 percent of outbreaks, compared with 11.5 percent in 2015, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said in a report.
There were 94,530 human cases of salmonellosis reported in the EU in 2016, it said. Salmonella enteritidis, the most common type and one mostly linked with eating eggs and poultry, accounted for 59 percent of cases originating in the EU.
“The increase shown by our surveillance data is worrying and a reminder that we have to stay vigilant,” said the ECDC’s chief scientist, Mike Catchpole.
Salmonella food poisoning can cause diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps and vomiting. These symptoms typically come between one and three days after infection and last four to seven days. More severe cases can cause death. A total of 1,766 people were admitted to hospital with salmonella in 2016 and there were 10 salmonella deaths.
The EFSA and ECDC report, which looked at outbreaks of food-borne disease in the EU, said that overall outbreak numbers were broadly stable, with 4,786 food-borne outbreaks in 2016 compared with 4,362 in 2015.
Campylobacter, common in chicken meat, caused a high number of infections, though fatalities were low, the report said.
Listeria infections, which are generally more severe, led to hospitalization in 97 percent of reported cases. Listeriosis killed 247 people in the EU last year.

Canada E. coli Outbreak Linked to Lettuce
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/canada-e-coli-outbreak-linked-to-lettuce/
By Bill Marler (Dec 11, 2017)
Why you should take note?
The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with provincial public health partners, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada to investigate an outbreak of Escherichia coli O157, commonly called E. coli. The outbreak involves three provinces and is linked to romaine lettuce. At this time, there are no product recalls associated with this outbreak. The outbreak investigation is ongoing, and this public health notice will be updated on a regular basis as the investigation evolves.
The risk to Canadians is low. However, Canadians are reminded to follow safe food handling practices for lettuce to avoid becoming ill. Most people with an E. coli infection will become ill for a few days and then recover fully. Some E. coli infections can be life threatening, though this is rare.
How does lettuce become contaminated with E. coli?
E. coli are bacteria that live naturally in the intestines of cattle, poultry and other animals. A common source of E. coli illness is raw fruits and vegetables that have come in contact with feces from infected animals. Leafy greens, such as lettuce, can become contaminated in the field by soil, contaminated water, animals or improperly composted manure. Lettuce can also be contaminated by bacteria during and after harvest from handling, storing and transporting the produce. Contamination in lettuce is also possible at the grocery store, in the refrigerator, or from counters and cutting boards through cross-contamination with harmful bacteria from raw meat, poultry or seafood. Most E. coli strains are harmless to humans, but some varieties cause illness.
Investigation summary
Currently, there are 21 cases of E. coli O157 illness under investigation in three provinces: Quebec (3), New Brunswick (5), and Newfoundland and Labrador (13). Individuals became sick in November 2017. Ten individuals have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Individuals who became ill are between the ages of 5 and 72 years of age. The majority of cases (71%) are female.
Many individuals who became sick reported eating romaine lettuce before their illnesses occurred. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is working with public health officials to determine the source of the romaine lettuce that ill individuals were exposed to.
Who is most at risk?
Although anyone can get an E. coli infection, pregnant women, those with weakened immune systems, young children and older adults are most at risk for developing serious complications.
What you should do to protect your health?
The following food safety tips for lettuce will help you reduce your risk of getting an E. coli infection.
Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, before and after handling lettuce.
Discard outer leaves of fresh lettuce.
Wash your unpackaged lettuce under fresh, cool running water. There is no need to use anything other than water to wash lettuce. Washing it gently with water is as effective as using produce cleansers.
Keep rinsing your lettuce until all of the dirt has been washed away.
Don’t soak lettuce in a sink full of water. It can become contaminated by bacteria in the sink.
Ready-to-eat lettuce products sold in sealed packages and labelled as washed, pre-washed or triple washed do not need to be washed again.
Use warm water and soap to thoroughly wash all utensils, countertops and cutting boards before and after handling lettuce to avoid cross-contamination.
Store lettuce in the refrigerator for up to seven days. Discard when leaves become wilted or brown.
Bagged, ready-to-eat, pre-washed lettuce products should also be refrigerated and used before the expiration date.
What are the symptoms?
People infected with E. coli can have a wide range of symptoms. Some do not get sick at all, though they can still spread the infection to others. Others may feel as though they have a bad case of upset stomach. In some cases, individuals become seriously ill and must be hospitalized.
The following symptoms can appear within one to ten days after contact with the bacteria:
nausea
vomiting
headache
mild fever
severe stomach cramps
watery or bloody diarrhea
Most symptoms end within five to ten days. While most people recover completely on their own, some people may have a more serious illness that requires hospital care, or may lead to long-lasting health effects. In rare cases, some individuals may develop life-threatening symptoms, including stroke, kidney failure and seizures, which could result in death.
There is no real treatment for E. coli infections, other than monitoring the illness, providing comfort, and preventing dehydration through proper hydration and nutrition. People who develop complications may need further treatment, like dialysis for kidney failure. You should contact your health care provider if symptoms persist.
What is the Government of Canada doing?
The Government of Canada is committed to food safety. The Public Health Agency of Canada leads the human health investigation into an outbreak and is in regular contact with its federal and provincial partners to monitor the situation and to collaborate on steps to address the outbreak.
Health Canada undertakes food-related health risk assessments to determine whether the presence of a certain substance or microorganism poses a health risk to consumers.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency conducts food safety investigations into the possible food source of an outbreak.
The Government of Canada will continue to update Canadians as new information related to this investigation becomes available.
Additional information
Leafy Greens Fact Sheet
E. coli Fact Sheet
General Food Safety Tips
Befoodsafe.ca
Recalls and safety alerts mobile application

Recipe for a Successful PCQI
Source : http://www.qualityassurancemag.com/article/recipe-for-a-successful-pcqi/
By qualityassurancemag.com (Dec 11, 2017)
All FDA-regulated facilities are required to have at least one Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) who is qualified and has successfully completed training in the development and application of risk-based preventive controls. So what makes someone qualified to be a PCQI?
PCQIs are required to have the necessary training, education, job experience, and/or completion of a course that is recognized by FDA. Currently the only standardized curriculum that is FDA recognized is that of Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA) for Preventive Controls for Human Food and Preventive Controls for Animal Food.
Completing the FSPCA course does not, in and of itself, mean the PCQI is qualified and successful. The PCQI is required to perform or oversee preparation of the Food Safety Plan, validation of preventive controls, record review for preventive controls, and reanalysis of the Food Safety Plan. Successful completion will help determine if the person is qualified to be a PCQI.
PCQI success is partly determined by a facility’s successful passing of an inspection without incurring regulatory action. The PCQI’s responsibilities are essential for an effective food safety preventive controls program.
In most FDA-regulated facilities, if the PCQI is not part of management, he or she at least works closely with senior management. So a successful PCQI should share traits similar to those of a successful manager. A PCQI should be self-motivated, able to delegate wisely, a good communicator, confident, and humble.
A common mistake that facilities make is to select an underqualified person as the PCQI. Perhaps the person does not have the education or experience to oversee the implementation and management of the Food Safety Plan. Others may believe they have to conduct the validation and review all preventive controls records themselves. This is not the case, which is why the term oversee is used.
Not all PCQIs will be experts in processing authority or microorganisms. Additionally, the PCQI is not required to be an employee of the company, rather a company may choose to use a consultant as its PCQI. This may be the case when a company has limited resources to successfully implement and manage its Food Safety Plan.
Some facilities decide to have more than one PCQI. In fact, with the responsibility the position has for overseeing food safety, it may be most prudent for facilities to have more than one PCQI on staff, because people do get sick, go on vacation, and change employers. However, it is recommended that facilities with more than one PCQI have one of them identified as the primary PCQI.
Although it is not required to have the PCQI be at the plant when a regulatory agent is present, it would be wise for this individual to be readily accessible. This is especially important to consider if the PCQI is located far away from the plant. Additionally, when the facility is identifying the food safety team in the Food Safety Plan, all PCQIs should be listed.
In addition to the PCQI, other qualified positions recognized by the FDA are the qualified individual (QI) and qualified supervisor.
The QI is generally a line employee or individual(s) responsible for monitoring activities per the food safety plan.
The qualified supervisor will most likely be responsible for verification activities if the PCQI is not directly performing this activity.
The QI must have the education, training, experience, or combination thereof necessary to manufacture, process, pack, and/or hold clean and safe food as appropriate to his or her assigned duties.
As a lead instructor for the FSPCA Preventive Controls for Human Food, I often ask participants what surprises or challenges they expect. Prior to the course, many do not fully realize their role and level of responsibility as the primary PCQI. Participants also are surprised by the number of resources that are available through FDA and FSPCA.
Whichever way the PCQI attains his or her knowledge, the successful PCQI has all the necessary resources and management commitment to ensure the implementation and maintenance of the Food Safety Plan.
The ultimate demonstration of a successful PCQI is when the facility successfully passes an FDA inspection.

Lack of food safety knowledge can be a problem for retailers
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/12/lack-of-food-safety-knowledge-can-be-a-problem-for-retailers/#.Wi8sVEpl-Ul
BY LAURA MUSHRUSH (Dec 11, 2017)
Editor’s note: This is the third of a four-part series on technology and food safety sponsored by PAR Technologies.
Pizza, meatloaf, pasta salad, deli sandwiches, rotisserie chicken, a full Chinese food buffet – and yes, even sushi are common fan favorites found in supermarket café’s and deli section for grocery shoppers wanting to dine in or pick up a quick and easy meal while grocery shopping.
While this diversification in retail offerings opens the door to winning over cliental, the same door also opens supermarkets up to liabilities in the event of a food safety compromise or its prepared products.
According to Donna F. Schaffner, Associate Director in Food Safety, Quality Assurance and Training for Rutgers Food Innovation Center, using Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, better known as HACCP, is an effective way to reduce dangers.
Ensuring that food prepared by store employees is done so in a way that comples with the Food Safety Modernization Act is crucial, especially with high-risk foods such smoked meats, pickled or fermented products, sushi and during reduced-oxygen packaging of foods.
While food safety and HACCP should be at the forefront of every retailer’s agenda behind the deli counter, it can sometimes become compromised because of a lack of understanding of its importance.
“With some notable exceptions, the managers of grocery stores seldom seem to understand the significance of the potential food safety hazards that could be generated in their deli departments, and do not require their food preparation employees to attend a HACCP certificate training,” Schaffner said.
Such a lack of understanding may lead to using a “whatever is available” approach to operations rather than following the HACCP plan. That, Schaffner said, can cause food safety compromises such as cross-contamination of by allergens and pathogens. While this unavailability of knowledge and understanding is the most common issue Schaffner sees, she said the high rate of turnover for employees in food service adds another difficult layer in terms of adequate employee training.
According to Schaffner, advancements in technology have made implementation of HACCP in retail stores easier while overcoming challenges.
“Several companies are offering standard-template type computer programs for documenting and storing the records of HACCP checks in the food service environment,” Schaffner said.
Other pieces of technology include better designed paper towel dispensers to encourage employees wash and dry hands properly, training aids such as UV sprays to make germs visible to the naked eye, automated temperature tracking sensors, and preloaded HACCP checklists on handheld devices, notes Schaffner.

It’s Important to Use a Food Thermometer so the Food You Serve is Safe to Eat
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/important-food-thermometer/
By Linda Larsen (Dec 11, 2017)
Michigan State University has issued a post telling consumers that using a food thermometer is easy and important for your family’s health. Most people don’t use a food thermometer when cooking. Although about 62% of American consumers have a food thermometer in their kitchens, fewer than 10% actually use it.
Any food that contains meat, poultry, fish, or eggs should be tested with a food thermometer before it is eaten to make sure that food has reached a safe final internal temperature. Using a thermometer is the only way to know that your food is thoroughly cooked and that it has reached a temperature that will destroy pathogenic bacteria.
If your family has a member who is in a high risk group for food poisoning, this cooking step is even more important. Those in high risk groups include the elderly, infants, young children, people with compromised immune systems, and those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Those people can become seriously ill and even die if they contract a foodborne illness.
Many cooks use indicators of color, firmness, the color of juices, and shrinkage as signs of doneness. Those indicators are not reliable signs of proper doneness, and in fact, sometimes food that is exhibiting these signs can be overcooked and dry. A food thermometer not only makes sure your food is safe, but also that it isn’t overcooked.
There are many types of food thermometers. You can buy an inexpensive thermometer from the grocery store for a few dollars, or invest in a really accurate and reliable thermometer for about a hundred dollars.
Oven safe thermometers can stay in the food as it cooks in the oven or on the grill. Make sure that ou read the label on the thermometer you buy so you know if it can be used in these alliances. Digital or dial instant read thermometers are used when the food has been removed from the heat source. The latter type of thermometer can give a reading in two to ten seconds. The AMI Foundation has prepared a video showing how to use a thermometer to test meats.
Finally, make sure that you know the safe temperatures of food before you cook. USDA has a chart that details the specifics of food temperatures along with rest times. Print it out and tape it to the inside of your pantry door for reference.

 

 

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