FoodHACCP Newsletter

Food Safety Job Openings

03/17. Quality & Food Safety Technician – Stanfield, OR
03/17. Quality Assurance Technician -  Bolingbrook, IL
03/17. Quality Assurance Technician – Dillon, MT
03/14. HACCP & Food Safety Coord - Mundelein, IL
03/14. Quality Assurance Manager - Minden, NV
03/14. Food Safety Scientist, Toxicology - Louisville, CO
03/12. Quality and Food Safety Mgr – Gainesville, GA
03/12. QA Coordinator – Palm Beach Gardens, FL
03/12. Food Safety Tech - 2nd Shift – Sebastopol, CA

03/26 2018 ISSUE:801


Faces of Food Safety: Meet Kari Johnstone of FSIS
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Editor’s note: This is a recent installment in a series of employee profiles being published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service, republished here with permission.
For over 18 years, Kari Johnstone has been dedicated to food safety. Specifically, Johnstone serves as a supervisory public health veterinarian (SPHV). Johnstone begins her typical workday by ensuring that the inspection line is fully staffed before touring the evisceration department to ensure all inspections are carried out correctly. She then performs presentation checks and verifies Good Commercial Practices, which involves observing the appropriate handling of live poultry. Johnstone understands how necessary it is to protect the public from potentially adulterated food. She explains how the relationship between the poultry industry and the American people is changing. “Food safety is growing in importance to the public. The public demands more information from USDA and FSIS. The public has become more involved in what happens to food in processing.”
Johnstone is a capable, compassionate team member whose talents and passions enrich her professional work and who work alongside her. She firmly believes in being personable and in the power of spirited teamwork. “When I am doing presentation verifications and standing next to the Food Inspector on the line, I ask how they are doing and how the birds look. I really work to promote the idea of the inspection team.” Johnstone said when describing her everyday work process.
Success in the workplace
A proponent of synergy in the workplace, Johnstone attributes much of her circuit’s success to collaboration. “My work unit meetings with the team are conducted as discussions. I want their ideas and points of view to resolve any issues we may be having. It’s been effective. We are all in this together, and I truly want everyone to feel they make a difference.” Johnstone strives to work collaboratively and be both a source of confidence and pillar of strength for her coworkers, a great demonstration of the Agency’s core value of collaboration. “I try to be positive and uplifting. I want to do my best at the job and carry my share of responsibilities. I want my coworkers to feel at ease and know that I will handle situations that arise. I put myself in other’s shoes and treat them as I would want to be treated,” said Johnstone.
She values professionalism, but also recognizes the power of humor in the workplace. “I love to talk to inspectors and my fellow SPHVs and sometimes I do talk their ears off. I really enjoy making everyone laugh. Laughter is the best medicine. I take my job seriously, but if I’m going to be somewhere for eight hours or more, I’m going to enjoy it.” Johnstone says, explaining the fulfillment she receives from working for FSIS and being a “people person.” She feels lucky to have a group of coworkers who are truly sincere, hard-working individuals.
Presently, Johnstone is in the process of partnering with the National Association of Federal Veterinarians to improve communication between the Federal veterinarians within the agencies. In 2017, Johnstone was awarded the title of “Best Supporter of Employee Wellness,” recognizing her constant efforts to uplift the health and wellbeing of those who work around her.
Before coming to FSIS, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Performance with the Flute from Oklahoma Christian University, a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Pittsburg State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology from Lester E. Cox School of Medical Technology. Upon becoming board certified by the American Society for Clinical Pathology, she worked as a medical technologist in clinical microbiology, virology and hematology before graduating with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1997 from Louisiana State University. Johnstone practiced veterinary medicine privately in Bentonville, Arkansas, prior to beginning her career with FSIS. She credits this experience with teaching her to work flexibly and to think quickly, two concepts that she applies to her work each day at FSIS.
A talented musician
Johnstone is not just a dedicated public servant, she is also a gifted musician. She performed her first flute recital from memory at the age of 11. Johnstone would go on to receive a full-tuition music scholarship to Oklahoma Christian University and pursue a successful career as a professional flutist. She continues to perform professionally through various outlets in her community and hopes to focus on music during her retirement. She also recently competed in the Shrineman Olympic triathlon in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Johnstone spends her free time with her husband Brian Johnstone and their two Dalmatians, Tango and Almighty Thor. An avid health enthusiast, she encourages others to pursue fitness as the Texas Public Health Veterinary Team President of the USDA-Agriculture Running and Walking Club.

Publisher’s Platform: Modest good news on foodborne illnesses
Source :
By BILL MARLER (Mar 23, 2018)
My friends at CIDRAP did a great job of pouring over the recent FoodNet report in the March 23 MMWR report on the incidence of a variety of pathogens. I will steal a bit from their work.
Good news: Salmonella Typhimurium and Heidelberg illnesses down which mirrors decrease in positives in chicken and a decreased incidence of hemolytic uremic syndrome from 2006 to 2016 which mirrors an STEC O157 decline in ground beef over the same timeframe.
A team from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and partners in 10 states that are part of the FoodNet surveillance network reported its findings today in the latest issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
The group publishes an annual FoodNet report in early spring, and this year’s report sums up lab-confirmed infections from nine pathogens for 2017, detailing changes since 2006. The pathogens are Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Listeria, Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E coli (STEC), Shigella, Vibrio and Yersinia.
For 2017, the FoodNet system identified 24,484 foodborne illnesses, 5,677 hospitalizations, and 122 deaths. Highest incidences per 100,000 population were for Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Shigella.
Growing use of culture-independent diagnostic tests (CIDTs) at public health labs is a useful tool for quickly identifying illnesses that might be missed by other lab tests, leading to more accurate incidence estimates, the authors write. They note, however, that their use can complicate the interpretation of estimates and that culturing isolates is still needed to reveal subtype information and test for antimicrobial susceptibility.
Regarding the infections only found on CIDT testing, percentages were highest for Yersinia (51%), Campylobacter (36%), Shigella (31%), Vibrio (29%), STEC (27%), Salmonella (9%), and Listeria (1%). Compared with findings from 2014 to 2016, incidence for 2017 was significantly higher for Cyclospora, Yersinia, Vibrio, STEC, Listeria, and Campylobacter.
Given that the use of CIDT panels are rising, tests more often routinely detect Cyclospora, Yersinia, Vibrio, and non-O157 STEC, the group said. “The increased incidence of these infections in 2017 was most likely driven by the increased use of CIDTs,” they wrote.
Of subtyped Salmonella isolates in 2017, the five most common were Enteritidis, Typhimurium, Newport, Javiana, and I 4,[5],12:i:-, a variant of Typhimurium. For 2017, the incidence of Heidelberg was 65% lower than from 2006 to 2008, with a similar decrease for Typhimurium over the same period.
When the scientists looked at STEC isolates, they found that the incidence of non-O157 STEC increased significantly in 2017 compared with 2014 to 2016. Though O157 STEC held steady, the incidence decreased 35% compared with 2006 to 2008.




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Universal Pure Survey: Food safety helps drive increase of HPP
Source :
By Crystal Lindell (Mar 22, 2018)
As demand for fresh food grows, more retailers are stocking their shelves with foods and beverages that have been high pressure processed (HPP) to help ensure food safety, food quality, and eliminate food waste, according to a new survey.
A whopping 85 percent of retailers say their companies are affected by the fresh food demand, and 78 percent go so far as to say they’re favoring companies that produce fresh product options, the survey found. And, more than 60 percent of retailers say they’re stocking more refrigerated and fresh products, while 48 percent say they’re expanding their refrigerated section.
That’s good news for HPP, as a growing number of producers and retailers are more familiar with HPP than ever before from 60 percent in 2016’s survey to 77 percent (producers) and 74 percent (retailers) last year and see its benefit for eliminating pathogens, allowing cleaner food labels, enhancing taste and extending shelf life, according to the survey, commissioned by Universal Pure, the largest provider of HPP services globally.
“The survey results demonstrate that HPP is a preferred technology for food safety, food quality and shelf life,” says Mark A. Duffy, CEO of Universal Pure. “Consumers want better-for-you foods that are fresh, tasty, preservative-free and safe, and HPP can help deliver these results.”
High Pressure Processing uses cold temperatures and high pressure to improve food safety. It also helps ensure the quality, taste and texture of food products and extend their shelf life.
HPP has come into its own, according to the study. Notably, 78 percent of retailers have a favorable view of HPP, and 85 percent said the method of processing used by a food producer positively affects their decision to purchase a food and beverage product.
The survey measured and compared perceived advantages in food quality, food safety, and food waste with other types of pasteurization, including heat pasteurization, pulsed electric field radiation, ultraviolet radiation, and other processes. High pressure processing was favored by producers and retailers among other food processing methods on measures concerning food quality, food safety and food waste.
Other Survey Findings
HPP Favorability Grows
81 percent of producers reported their companies are using HPP at some level compared to 60 percent last year.
HPP was favored by producers and retailers among other food processing methods on measures concerning food quality (67 percent), food safety (59 percent) and food waste (56 percent).
Shelf-Life Interest Expands
The biggest reason producers say they use HPP is for shelf-life extension (73 percent). That along with food safety benefits (63 percent), nutrient preservation (58 percent) and cleaner label enablement (54 percent) dwarf all other reasons. The 2016 survey found that food safety was the biggest reason.
96 percent of retailers say they are more likely to purchase a product with a longer shelf life, while 94 percent of food producers say they could expand distribution range if their products had a longer shelf life.
Reducing Food Waste Is Important
74 percent of retailers and 92 percent of producers say the issue of food waste is important to their companies.
About the Survey
The online survey was conducted by a third-party and commissioned by Universal Pure, the country’s largest HPP outsourcing service provider for food and beverage producers. The survey was completed in October 2017 and included food producers (80 percent) and food retailers (20 percent). This is the second year that the survey has been commissioned by Universal Pure.

European listeriosis outbreak blamed on frozen corn: 6 dead
Source :
By NEWS DESK (Mar 22, 2018)
Week-old speculation about frozen corn being responsible for a three-year listeriosis outbreak in Europe, which has had an 18.75  percent fatality rate, is probably correct.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) jointly published a rapid outbreak assessment today (March 22) that says frozen corn  is the “likely source of an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes” involving Austria, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom since 2015.
The five European Union (EU) countries have reported 32 confirmed listeriosis cases with six deaths between December 2015 and March 8 this year, according to the EFSA-ECDC assessment. Whole genome sequencing was used to define the multi-country outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes serogroup IVb multi-locus sequence type 6. Investigators also used it to identify the implicated food source.
Other current listeriosis outbreaks in Australia, South Africa, and Europe are not related events.
Investigations point toward frozen corn packed in Poland and processed and produced in Hungary. The report recommends further investigation to identify the exact point of contamination in the food chain.
Food business operators in Poland, Finland, Sweden and Estonia have withdrawn and recalled the implicated products. These measures are likely to reduce the risk of human infections in these countries.
However, new cases may be identified due to the long incubation period of listeriosis, which is up to 70 days, the long shelf-life of frozen corn, and the possible future consumption of frozen corn bought before the recall was implemented.
To reduce the risk of Listeria monocytogenes infection from frozen corn, consumers should adequately heat frozen vegetables to kill pathogens. This applies especially to consumers at the highest risk of contracting listeriosis – such as the elderly, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems.
What is a rapid outbreak assessment?
Coordination across the EU is crucial when there are multi-country foodborne outbreaks. One aspect of this coordination is the production of a rapid outbreak assessment (ROA) by EFSA and ECDC in close cooperation with affected countries.
The ROA gives an overview of the situation in terms of public health and identifies the cause of the infections. It also includes trace-back and trace-forward investigations to identify the origin of the outbreak and where contaminated products have been distributed. These help to identify measures that will prevent further spread of the outbreak.
Multi-country outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes serogroup IVb, multi-locus sequence type 6

Do Not Feed Rad Cat Raw Food to your Cat
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By Patti Waller (Mar 22, 2018)
Radagast Pet Food, Inc. of Portland, OR is recalling one lot of Free-Range Chicken and one lot of Free-Range Turkey Recipe because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Listeria monocytogenes can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.
This recall includes only the two lots listed below.
Listeria monocytogenes is pathogenic to humans. Healthy people exposed to Listeria monocytogenes should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, fever. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.
Listeria monocytogenes can affect animals eating the product. Animals exposed to Listeria monocytogenes can display symptoms such as: diarrhea, fever, muscular or respiratory signs and anorexia. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
No pet or human illnesses have been reported.
The single lot of Rad Cat Raw Diet Free-Range Chicken Lot 62762, BB Date: 10/19/18, was shipped to distributors in May 2017 in CA, MN, OH, OR, PA, and RI. Product has the following UPC’s:
8oz  UPC 8 51536 00103 6
16oz UPC 8 51536 00104 3
24oz UPC 8 51536 00105 0
The single lot of Rad Cat Raw Diet Free-Range Turkey Recipe, Lot 62926, BB Date: 05/03/19, was shipped in December 2017 in CA, CO, FL, GA, NY, OH, OR, RI, TX, and WA and sold through independent pet retail stores. Product has the following UPC’s:
8oz  UPC 8 51536 00100 5
16oz UPC 8 51536 00101 2
24oz UPC 8 51536 00102 9

Live Animals Processed Under USDA Regulations Do Not Need to Comply with FSVP Regulation, FDA Explains
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By Staff (Mar 21, 2018)
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took steps to make the importation of certain live animals less burdensome.

Live animals imported for use as food are regulated by FDA. However, most live animals (e.g., cattle, poultry, swine) intended for use as food, including those that are imported, are required to be slaughtered under mandatory inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and processed at USDA-regulated establishments that are subject to USDA-administered hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) requirements. While the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) regulation explicitly provides an exemption for certain food (i.e., certain meat, poultry, and egg products) that is subject to certain USDA requirements at the time of importation, the exemption does not include live animals that are imported for use as food.
The guidance issued today explains that the agency intends to exercise enforcement discretion regarding the application of the FSVP rule to importers of live animals that must be slaughtered and processed at establishments regulated by USDA and subject to HACCP requirements (or at State-inspected establishments subject to requirements equivalent to the federal standards). This means the agency does not intend to enforce the FSVP requirements that these importers would otherwise have to meet. This intent to exercise enforcement discretion accounts for the role of another Federal agency with regards to these animals. This is also consistent with the exemption in the FSVP rule for certain USDA-regulated products.
This intent to exercise enforcement discretion does not apply to importers of other live animals intended for use as food (e.g., farmed bison, deer, elk), the slaughtering and processing of which is under FDA’s jurisdiction. Some animals that are subject to FDA jurisdiction for slaughtering are slaughtered under voluntary inspection by FSIS. This intent to exercise enforcement discretion does not apply to the importation of such animals either.
Importers of live animals that are covered by this intent to exercise enforcement discretion should use the affirmation of compliance code “FSX” when filing with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system. This will indicate that FDA intends to exercise enforcement discretion with regards to the FSVP requirements.

Dried coconut identified in outbreak; CDC says don’t eat it
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By CORAL BEACH (Mar 21, 2018)
The CDC is urging the public to avoid eating certain brands of dried coconut because they are linked to a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella poisoning that has been ongoing since September 2017.
This outbreak is unrelated to the Salmonella outbreak linked to frozen shredded coconut announced in January
“CDC recommends people not eat recalled International Harvest Inc. brand Go Smile! Raw Coconut, Go Smiles Dried Coconut Raw or recalled Natural Grocers Coconut Smiles Organic,” according to an outbreak notice posted today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Retailers and restaurants should not sell or serve recalled dried coconut products, the CDC said.
“Even if some of the recalled dried coconut was eaten or served and no one got sick, throw it away or return it to the place of purchase,” the CDC notice said, adding that sanitizing procedures should be implemented.
“Put it in a sealed bag in the trash so that children, pets, and other animals can’t eat it. Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators and freezers where recalled coconut was stored.
“If you aren’t sure if your dried coconut was recalled, do not eat it and throw it away.”
Thirteen people from eight states are confirmed to be infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium that has been found in the implicated brands of dried coconut. Three of the victims have required hospitalization because of severe symptoms. No deaths had been confirmed as of today.
Of the victims for whom complete information is available, 88 percent reported eating dried coconut purchased at grocery stores before they became sick. Of the seven people who reported eating dried coconut before becoming ill, four said they purchased the product at different Natural Grocers store locations.
However, illnesses that occurred after Jan. 25 might not yet be reported to the CDC because of the time it takes between when a person gets sick and when the illness is reported to local, state and, ultimately, federal public health officials. Please see the CDC’s “Timeline for Reporting Cases of Salmonella Infection” for more details.
Illnesses started on dates ranging from Sept. 22, 2017, to Feb. 26, 2018. Ill people range in age from 1 to 73, with a median age of 40. Sixty-seven percent are female.
FDA’s role in the investigation
The Food and Drug Administration has been working with state officials to pinpoint the source of the outbreak. They collected leftover dried coconut from ill people’s homes, as well as dried coconut from Natural Grocers store locations where people who got sick shopped and from the Natural Grocers’ Distribution Center.
FDA testing identified the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium in an unopened sample of Natural Grocers Coconut Smiles Organic collected from Natural Grocers.
The outbreak strain was also identified in an opened, leftover sample of Natural Grocers Coconut Smiles Organic collected from a sick person’s home.
In addition, FDA collected dried coconut from International Harvest Inc. The outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium was identified in samples of International Harvest Brand Organic Go Smile! Dried Coconut Raw and Go Smiles Dried Coconut Raw.
Courtesy of Natural Grocers
On March 16, 2018, International Harvest Inc. recalled bags of Organic Go Smile! Raw Coconut and bulk packages of Go Smiles Dried Coconut Raw. The recalled Organic Go Smile! Raw Coconut was sold online and in stores in 9-ounce bags with sell-by dates from Jan. 1, 2018, through March 1, 2019.
Recalled bulk Go Smiles Dried Coconut Raw was sold in a 25-pound case labeled with batch/lot numbers OCSM-0010, OCSM-0011 and OCSM-0014. These products were sold in various grocery stores. Regulatory officials are working to determine where else Organic Go Smile! Raw Coconut and Go Smiles Dried Coconut Raw were sold.
On March 19, Vitamin Cottage Natural Food Markets Inc. recalled packages of Natural Grocers Coconut Smiles Organic labeled with bar code 8034810 and packed-on numbers lower than 18-075. Recalled Natural Grocers Coconut Smiles Organic were sold in 10-ounce clear plastic bags with the Natural Grocers label. The packed-on number can be found in the bottom left-hand corner of the label.

Listeria Outbreak Could Lead to Tighter Food Safety Rules in South Africa
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By QA Staff (Mar 21, 2018)
At least 180 people have been killed in South Africa since January last year and almost 1,000 infected.
As reported by Reuters, a huge and deadly outbreak of listeria in South Africa could alter the country’s approach to food-borne disease and prompt improvements in food safety standards, a leading health official said on Friday.
The World Health Organization’s top specialist on global food safety likened the South African outbreak’s potential impact to the “mad cow disease” BSE crisis in Europe that began in the 1980s and a vast E-coli outbreak traced to “Jack in the Box” burgers in the United States in 1993.
“I’m convinced we’re going to be talking about this outbreak for the next 20 years,” Peter Ben Embarek, who manages the WHO International Food Safety Authorities Network, told Reuters.
“This could be the crisis that will finally make at least South Africa - and possibly the whole of Africa - realize the importance of food safety and food-borne diseases and the need to invest in improving things.
At least 180 people have been killed in South Africa since January last year and almost 1,000 infected in the world’s worst recorded listeria outbreak.
Click here to read the entire article.
Source: Reuters

Another Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Dried Coconut; This Time It’s Go Smile Coconut
Source :
By News Desk (Mar 21, 2018)
A multistate Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak that is linked to recalled  Go Smile coconut has sickened at least 13 people in 8 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Government officials are recommending that people do not eat recalled International Harvest, Inc. brand Go Smile! Raw Coconut, Go Smiles Dried Coconut Raw or recalled Natural Grocers Coconut Smiles Organic.
International Harvest recalled bags of Organic Go Smile! Raw Coconut and bulk packages of Go Smiles Dried Coconut Raw on March 16, 2018. On March 19, 2018, Vitamin Cottage Natural Foods Market recalled packages of Natural Grocers Coconut Smiles Organic. If you aren’t sure if the dried coconut you purchased has been recalled or not, just throw it away, even if some of it has been eaten or served and no one got sick. Bacteria can exist in tiny clumps in foods; not every shred of coconut may be contaminated.If you choose to throw away the coconut rather than return it to the store, put the coconut into a sealed bag or package so that kids, other people, and animals can’t eat it. Then wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in your pantry, refrigerator, or freezer where the recalled coconut was stored.
Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicates that dried coconut is the likely source of this multistate outbreak. Of the thirteen people who have been infected, three patients have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
Public health investigators are using the PulseNut system to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) performed on isolates taken from ill persons showed that they are closely related genetically. That means the people in this outbreak most likely share a common source of infection.
The case count by state is: California (5), Colorado (1), Connecticut (1), Idaho (1), Missouri (1), Oregon (2), Texas (1), and Utah (1). Illness onset dates range from September 22, 2017 to February 26, 2018. The patient age range is from 1 to 73 years.
In interviews, seven of the eight people said they ate dried coconut from grocery stores the week before they got sick. Of those seven people, four bought the product at different Natural Grocers store locations. Then, the FDA and state officials collected leftover dried coconut from ill persons’s homes, as well as from the Natural Grocery store locations where the patients shopped.
FDA testing found the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium in an unopened sample of Natural Grocers Coconut Smiles Organic collected from Natural Grocers. The outbreak strain was also found in an opened, leftover sample of Natural Grocers Coconut Smiles Organic taken from a patient’s home. And the FDA found the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium in samples of International Harvest Brand Organic Go Smile! Dried Coconut Raw and Go Smiles Dried Coconut Raw.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include a fever, abdominal pains and cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that may be bloody. While most people recover from this illness without medical care, some become so ill, usually through dehydration or sepsis, that they must be hospitalized. If you have been experiencing these symptoms and have eaten dried coconut, see your doctor.

South African Poultry Plant Closes Amid Deadly Listeria Outbreak Investigation
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By Staff (Mar 20, 2018)
South African Poultry Plant Closes Amid Deadly Listeria Outbreak Investigation
The poultry plant where Listeria was found during South Africa’s deadly Listeria outbreak has shut down. Thus far, 180 deaths since January 2017 have been confirmed in the world’s worst Listeria outbreak ever recorded.
The Tiger Brands factory in Pretoria produced a ready-to-eat meat product known as polony. That product has since been recalled, along with the same product made by RCL Foods. Despite an official investigation underway, RCL claims that no deadly strain of Listeria has been found at its processing plant. Tiger Brands says that it has not been confirmed whether or not the Listeria strain found at its plant is the same one that has caused the deadly outbreak. In a statement, Tiger Brands says they will be sending samples to officials to conduct whole-genome sequencing.
Tiger Brands has estimated a $3 million (U.S.) loss within the company’s meat sector alone in March 2018. Two pending class action lawsuits waged against the company total $35 million (U.S.).
The deadly outbreak has negatively affected not only South Africa’s processed meat industry, but also dairy and fresh produce. Imports of these items have been banned in Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Processed meat imports have been banned in Mozambique and Namibia. In fact, Mozambique officials say they have destroyed about 55 tons of processed meat from Tiger Brands and RCL Foods. The same products have been recalled in Botswana. In Malawi, food inspectors are looking more closely at foods imported from South Africa.
A second Tiger Brands factory near Johannesburg is also being investigated by health officials.

RBHAAPC,”“HACCP Plus,” “HARPC Minus” or “HACCPARBPCPHF”: What’s in a Name?
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By Amy Scanlin, M.S. and Allen Sayler (Mar 20, 2018)
“RBHAAPC,”” HACCP Plus,” “HARPC Minus” or “HACCPARBPCPHF”: What’s in a Name?
FDA’s new Preventive Controls for Human Foods (PC) requirements under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) have created quite a stir and a little bit of head scratching (environmental hazard?) by those operating their food safety plans under the time-honored Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system. While the end game of both HACCP and the newer Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls (HARPC) plans are largely the same—a safer food supply—how they get there, at least on the surface, seems to require two food safety plans (FSPs). HACCP utilizes the concept of “reasonably likely” to assess the need to manage or control food safety hazards via prerequisite programs or CCPs, while HARPC utilizes “known or reasonably foreseen hazards” and adds another control, that is, preventive controls that traditional HACCP does not recognize. HARPC also requires the management or control of hazards be risk based, while traditional HACCP implies that the elements used in making risk-based decision about hazards be considered, but the risk-based approach to hazard evaluation is not explicit. 
An updated version of traditional HACCP described in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 22000 standard seems to be a bridge between the “old” HACCP and the “new” HARPC, introducing the concept of “operational prerequisite programs (OPRPs),” which are essential prerequisites. Are OPRPs and preventive controls conceptually the same? The answer in simple terms is “yes”; however, only a limited number of U.S. food manufacturers utilized the ISO 22000 standard as the basis for their food safety program. Can food safety systems based on the ISO 22000 standard be easily modified to meet the HARPC requirements? Again, the answer conceptually is “yes” with the devil being in the details.
Are HACCP-based food safety plans utilized by food manufacturers because of tradition or because customers demand traditional HACCP, which requires a second food safety plan to meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s HARPC requirements? The answer for some large food manufacturers and at least one large dairy company is “yes.” The reason for two food safety plans is also driven by Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)-recognized schemes like SQF, BRC, FSSC 22000 and IFS that require a traditional HACCP approach for a company’s food safety plan. As least some of these GSFI schemes have stated publicly they will not recognize a food safety program built on HARPC, because it is applicable only to U.S. food manufacturers or those exporting food into the U.S. market.
While the creation two food safety plans to satisfy both requirements is certainly possible, operating under two food safety plans is also somewhat unrealistic. The complications of two food safety plans for the same manufacturing facility and the same food include training of processing staff and supervisors, corrective action responses to food safety issues, development and maintenance of dual records systems, etc. Is it realistic to attempt to create one comprehensive plan that satisfies both a traditional HACCP and the newer HARPC risk-based food safety program? The real questions is how to have one food safety plan that satisfies both traditional HACCP and new HARPC requirements. Is the first step to identify these hybrid and merged systems by providing a name? How about RBHAAPC (Risk-Based Hazard Analysis and Preventive Controls), HACCP Plus or HARPC Minus, or better yet, Hazard Analysis, Critical Control Points and Risk-Based Preventive Controls Plan for Human Food (HACCPARBPCPHF)?
So where is the discrepancy between the two plans? The bottom line is that HARPC, as detailed in 21 C.F.R. 117 requires a risk-based hazard analysis using the “known or reasonably foreseeable” standard that is slightly more strict that HACCP’s “reasonably likely” standard. HARPC also mandates environmental monitoring when the Hazard Analysis determines that contamination of a ready-to-eat food with an environmental pathogen requires a preventive control. Other HARPC requirements not found in traditional HACCP include the need to consider radiological and economically motivated hazards; written recall, allergen, sanitation, supplier management (in some cases) and process control plans; and a food safety plan managed and implemented by trained supervisors and staff (Qualified Individuals). HARPC also requires that the food safety plan be actively managed by a “Preventive Controls-Qualified Individual (PCQI).” This would be similar to the SQF requirement of an “SQF Practitioner.”
Is the answer to the fundamental questions of two food safety plans for one food manufacturing facility a hybrid such as RBHAAPC, HACCP Plus, HARPC Minus or HACCPARBPCPHF? Or can a HARPC-based food safety plan supported by a written and implemented set of prerequisite programs the real answer to this difficult question?  If a company was to use HARPC as the basis for its food safety plan, what specific additional items would be needed to satisfy the traditional HACCP requirements driven by customers, GFSI-based schemes, etc.?
Who Makes the Plan? 
While HACCP required a team approach to the development of a food safety plan, with at least one member of the team being HACCP certified, the risk-based approach requires one individual (PCQI) as the lead: someone with the education and experience to oversee and manage the entire food safety plan and be the point of contact for FDA during on-site investigations. Traditional HACCP implies that the HACCP team leader fulfill this role, without establishing any criteria for the team leader’s qualifications.
Go with the Flow
HACCP requires a flowchart; HARPC does not. In terms of making a complicated process simpler for everyone, a flowchart is a fundamental necessity in building a credible risk-based Hazard Analysis. So while not explicitly required by HARPC, it is a must for any food manufacturer’s food safety plan. Additionally, under traditional HACCP, the process flow diagram needs to be verified to ensure it contains all significant processing steps and all food additives, raw materials and food ingredients. The HARPC training manual issued by the FDA-supported Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA) does include information on how to build a process flow diagram, how to verify the diagram and encourages all food manufacturers to also have a written narrative of the processing of all food manufactured in each facility.
The Risks of the Hazards
The HARPC risk-based approach includes two hazards not commonly addressed in a traditional Hazard Analysis: radiological (under chemical) and economically motivated adulteration. The use of a risk-based decision tree as found in the FSPCA for HARPC is very similar to what is used in traditional HACCP; however, the more advanced approach is to use a risk-based matrix/table that provides quantitative measures of the risk of likelihood and severity versus the decision-tree approach that utilizes a qualitative identification of the risk of a hazard. Which is better? Both work, but from experience in trying to train the industry, and state and FDA food inspectors, it was much easier for them to understand and apply the risk matrix/table versus the decision tree. Also, the use of the preventive controls as a tool to control hazards, which is mandated in HARPC but not in traditional HACCP, is easy to explain and justify to any customer or outside third-party auditor expecting a food safety plan to be based solely on traditional HACCP.
Prepare for the Unexpected
Recalls may be the ultimate outcome of a failed food safety plan or significant breakdown. HARPC requires a recall plan, whereas HACCP does not. A recall plan enables a company to be prepared for a worst-case scenario so that a determination and actions can be taken quickly and decisively: How best to notify the public, how to identify specifically where that contaminated food has gone so it can be pulled from commerce and how to verify its destruction by lots and/or product numbers. Much like other food safety plan components, a recall plan must be periodically tested, with “surprise” recall drills to identify the weak links in a food manufacturer’s inventory, traceability and supply chain management programs.
FDA has the authority to inspect a company’s food safety plan at any time, for any reason. Keeping plans up to date, documenting changes as they occur and justifying plan actions will not only help food manufacturers maintain FDA regulatory compliance, but will reduce the possibility of food safety problems resulting in recalls and loss of customers. While all “best laid” plans may eventually go awry, having one viable food safety plan, whether you call it RBHAAPC, HACCP Plus, HARPC Minus or HACCPARBPCPHF, not two, will provide the best path to achieving and maintaining food safety success.
Amy Scanlin, M.S. and Allen Sayler are with EAS Consulting Group, LLC.

HACCP Principles: No. 4 Details matter — as does training
Source :
By LAURA MUSHRUSH |(Mar 19, 2018)
Editor’s note: This is the fourth of a seven-part series on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points sponsored by PAR Technologies. There are seven HACCP principles outlined by the Food and Drug Administration to serve as a guideline for creating a systematic approach in the identification, evaluation and control of food safety hazards.
“What will you measure?”
“Who is going to measure it?”
“How are they going to do it?”
These are just a few of the questions a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points team needs to answer when establishing monitoring procedures for a food safety plan, says Donna Schaffner. The independent HACCP consultant microbiologist and the Associate Director of Food Safety, Quality Assurance and Training for Rutgers Food Innovation Center, Schaffner says keeping an eye on procedures will help keep food companies out of trouble
Monitoring procedures will aide food companies primarily in three ways:
Control and tracking of critical limits;
Determining when action needs to be taken when deviation occurs for a critical limit; and
Provide records that a HACCP plan was kept in compliance.
It is recommended that monitoring procedures be continuous. However, it isn’t always a straightforward process to set a protocol for a time-consuming component like microbiological testing, when compared to physical and chemical protocols. Depending on the product and how it is being processed, monitoring procedures will vary significantly.
However, two things remain the same for every monitoring procedure – attention to detail and personnel training.
To help maintain a structured monitoring protocol, Schaffner advises HACCP teams to create a time interval which includes every detail from when a specific measurement needs to be taken.
Specific methods for taking measurements must also be included. The correct equipment must be selected. Employees must be trained in its proper use and maintenance, including calibration procedures.
 “This information needs to be written into the HACCP plan and then followed. If a HACCP team says a measurement needs to be taken every hour, then it has to be taken every hour,” explains Schaffner.
“Most likely, monitoring critical limits won’t be the only task an employee has throughout the day, but if they get side tracked and don’t keep up with set monitoring times and conduct a measurement incorrectly, it can cause a company to fall out of compliance with its HACCP plan, which can put them at risk for a recall. This is why an investment is made into training personnel to do the job properly.”

Australia, S. Africa post high fatality rates in Listeria outbreaks
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By DAN FLYNN (Mar 19, 2018)
The Australian and South African listeriosis outbreaks have one thing in common — fatality rates as high as 26 to 28 percent.
Health officials in Victoria, Australia, late last week announced the death of a man in his 80s as the fifth fatality in the country’s listeriosis outbreak. Two others who lost their lives from eating rockmelon, referred to as cantaloupe in the United States, were also Victoria residents. The two others were from Sydney.
Australia’s listeriosis outbreak so far involves 19 confirmed cases, including eight cases in Victoria, six in New South Wales (NSW), four in Queensland, and one in Tasmania. Mostly elderly Australians are infected. The average of the outbreak victims is 78.
Microbiological testing linked the latest death of the Victoria man to the outbreak, along with a recent miscarriage, also in Victoria. Lydia Buchtmann, the spokeswoman for the Food Safety Information Council, says more cases linked to the listeria contamination of rockmelon are likely because the pathogen has an incubation period as long as 70 days. All 19 confirmed cases involve people who ate rockmelon before a recall was initiated.
The NSW Food Authority named the Rombola Family Farm in the Riverina area as the likely source of the contaminated melons. The farm halted production and recalled its melons.
Australian growers anticipate the outbreak will result in new requirements once the NSW Food Authority completes its investigation.
South Africa’s outbreak continues to kill
This chart shows the age distribution and outcome of laboratory-confirmed cases of listeriosis identified from 01 Jan. 1, 2017, to March 12, 2018. N=946 where age was reported.
Source: South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases
In the much more massive listeriosis outbreak in South Africa, the fatality rate is running at 18 to 28 percent.
The lower number measures the 183 deaths against all Listeria cases going back to Jan. 1, 2017.
Using only the 649 illnesses caused by the outbreak strain results in the higher fatality rate. Other outbreak strains could be identified as investigators continue testing.
South Africa’s listeriosis outbreak is the largest on record, according to the World Health Organization. The source of that outbreak is a low cost processed meat known as “polony.”
The elderly, children, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems along are most likely to be victims of listeriosis poisoning. Outbreak fatality rates typically range from 20 to 40 percent.

New food-safety regulations imminent
Source :
By PRETORIA NEWS (Mar 19, 2018)
DISPOSAL: Polony products from Enterprise Foods and Rainbow Chicken are the main causes of listeriosis in the country. An Interwaste truck leaves the Enterprise factory in Germiston to dispose of contaminated foods. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)
It’s too early to begin fathoming the full impact of the listeriosis outbreak, but already 183 people have died and just under 1000 people taken ill in South Africa alone.
As listeriosis is not a notifiable disease elsewhere in the Southern African Development Community region, the death toll is likely to be far higher - some estimating as many as 500 deaths.
Lawyers have announced their intention to launch a class-action lawsuit, while the food manufacturers in the eye of the storm scramble to shift blame and hatch a PR response that’s vaguely compassionate.
The outbreak’s been a long time coming because of an alarming lack of government oversight of the sector. Now, food safety regulations are likely to be expedited to prevent other such outbreaks.
Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has acknowledged there are flaws in the system, citing a lack of environmental health practitioners (EHPs), but has denied his department should have moved faster in identifying the listeria outbreak.
Yet countrywide, there’s a shortage of at least 3300 EHPs and local municipalities are unable to do the job effectively.
During a debate in the National Assembly on March 8, Motsoaledi said: “It was a mistake for the constitution to give that job to local government, because municipalities can’t afford it because they’ve got basic services to provide.”
Food safety expert Linda Jackson of Food Focus says, with this outbreak, the government is under pressure to improve its activities and is likely to publish the revised food hygiene regulations soon.
“We only have one regulation in place - the Regulations Governing General Hygiene Requirements for Food Premises and the Transport of Food (R962) - which is very basic in terms of controls.
“It is really not onerous and requires any restaurant to have a certain number of toilets, hand-wash basins and pest and waste control. It also addresses the finishes in kitchens in broad terms to ensure cleanability.
“It requires the person in charge to provide training for their staff on hygiene matters, but this is hugely problematic,” Jackson said.
The new requirements, known as R364, are far more stringent because they shift more responsibility on to who’s in charge: they need to be able to prove certain actions and be trained themselves.
“The guy who makes the decisions was never required to be trained on the principles of food safety - it’s the blind leading the blind,” she said.
“The new regulations bring us in line with the US and Europe. Often the owner of a restaurant doesn’t fully understand why certain activities are a risk to consumers’ health - and that not leading by example puts their business at risk.”
Jackson said implementation would be tough because hygiene controls need to be improved: “The restaurant chains set rules, they audit, but the privately-owned restaurants don’t necessarily have systems in place. They are doing things wrong and don’t realise this.
“The only way this is going to work is if we have more EHPs and more surveillance.”
The weaknesses in the system have been identified in the listeriosis outbreak and the government needs to be seen to act. “If we don’t increase our legislative framework, the rest of the world will take an even dimmer view of our food safety.
 “It’s the right thing to introduce it, but to be effective we need to have increased capacity for monitoring. It’s the most basic thing we can do as a country, but we can’t have a toothless bulldog.”
R364 is an improvement, but it’s still lagging behind EU regulations, she said, because it tells the industry what to do but it doesn’t take into account risks such as the menu and raw materials.
“Although this regulation is an improvement, we are still not requiring a full-blown HACCP approach, as they do elsewhere.”

HACCP or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points is a systemic approach to food safety used by the World Health Organisation to prevent biological, chemical and physical hazards in production processes. It’s proactive in that it aims to avoid hazards rather than attempting to deal with the fallout of the effects of those hazards
“The system is used at all stages of the food chain, from ‘farm to fork’, in production and preparation processes to packaging and distribution.
“It can also be applied to industries other than food, such as pharmaceuticals and cosmetics,” Jackson said.
The HACCP concept of managing food safety was originally a collaboration between the US Army, Nasa and Pillsbury to produce food safe for space exploration. It uses a worst-case scenario to prevent a problem rather than treat it. The only sector that has to comply to HACCP in South Africa is peanut butter, because of the school feeding schemes and the high risk of aflatoxin contamination in the peanuts that can have serious health implications.
“The scope of our HACCP regulation R908 must be extended beyond peanut butter,” she says. “The entire food sector should have to comply. It’s likely they’ll change the scope now, but it’s a reactive approach to a problem.”
“Using HACCP is like having a fire extinguisher - you hope you never need to use it, but you still have one - just in case. We think about what could go wrong and put all the controls in place to ensure that it doesn’t.
“The rest of the world is already applying these principles. We need to move to this. It’s all very well to have it, but if we aren’t enforcing it, again, it won’t help us to ensure safe food.”
Jackson’s also questioning why it’s taken so long for the food-safety regulations to be passed. R364 was first published in 2015 and has still not been signed into law, while the sugar tax, which has been criticised as being too low to be effective in curtailing sugar consumption, but which is estimated to generate in excess of R4billion annually for the fiscus, was promulgated barely 18 months after it was tabled.
With no indication of when R364 will become law and practical issues that still need to be resolved, Foster Mohale, communications director in the Health Department, could only confirm that the regulations were still under consideration, but could give no time line nor comment on the 3300 vacancies.
“The (R364 regulations) are currently undergoing the second phase of legal processes which include translation into the second language as part of the constitutional requirements. Once this is concluded, the minister will publish the regulations in the Government Gazette.”



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