FoodHACCP Newsletter



Food Safety Job Openings

04/21. Canning Food Safety Auditor - Pocatello, ID
04/21. Food Safety & Brand Std Spec – Denver, CO
04/21. Food Safety Specialist - Waco, TX
04/18. VP, Food Safety (Corporate) - Coral Gables, FL
04/18. Sr Dir, Operational QA - Springfield, MO
04/18. Food Quality Control Specialist – Wyckoff, NJ
04/16. Quality Specialist – Berkeley, CA
04/16. Food Safety Specialist, Corp - Phila, PA
04/16. QA & Food Safety Analyst – OK City, OK

04/23 2018 ISSUE:805

 

Publisher’s Platform: At least 64 with E. coli in 16 States Linked to Romaine Lettuce from Yuma Arizona
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/04/publishers-platform-at-least-64-with-e-coli-in-16-states-linked-to-romaine-lettuce-from-yuma-arizona/#.WtxbCIhubct
By BILL MARLER (Apr 22, 2018)
The Numbers:
As of Friday night, the CDC reported 53 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 being reported from 16 states.  However, the CDC reported only 1 case in Alaska while Alaska Department of Public Health reported 8 ill from the Anvil Mountain Correctional Center in Nome, and that its investigation had confirmed that the whole head romaine lettuce consumed by the Nome patients was grown in Yuma, Arizona. In addition, the CDC reported 6 ill in Montana while Montana Department of Public Health reported 8 and the CDC reported 3 ill in Arizona while the Arizona Department of Health reported 5.The CDC further reported that 31 people have been hospitalized, including five people who have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
The hardest hit states are Alaska with 8 ill, Idaho with 10 ill, Montana with 8 ill, New Jersey with 7 ill, and Pennsylvania with 12 – 5 states with 45 ill – 19 in the other 11.
As of a few moments ago, I had been contacted by nearly 30 people, most of whom are clearly part of the CDC’s and states’ counts. However, some with E. coli O157:H7 are awaiting contact by health officials.  In addition, two patients (13-year-old from New York and a 6-year-old from California) that I spoke to their families this morning, both recently developed HUS, and may not yet be counted in the CDC totals.  Given that I have also been retained by a 23-year-old HUS patient in Idaho and two adult HUS patients in New Jersey, I think the CDC count of five with HUS, is unfortunately low.
Counting the bodies in an outbreak can be the easy part; positive stool cultures for E. coli O157:H7 are genetically matched by PFGE (unclear if state and CDC labs are doing WGS yet) and people are interviewed to determine what they consumed in the 3-5 days before the onset of illness. That is how the state health authorities and the CDC have determined (thanks to the prisoners in Alaska) that whole head and chopped romaine from Yuma Arizona is the cause of this outbreak – that is likely to grow in number.
Tying the Chain Together:
What we know: there is a cluster of cases in the East – New Jersey and New York – that share a common exposure of eating salads with romaine lettuce at Panera Bread.  Panera received chopped-bagged romaine from processor Freshway Foods.  At this point, we cannot confirm where Freshway Foods, which services the Midwest and East,  sourced the romaine, but a subpoena in the lawsuit I filed last week will likely do the trick.
For Illnesses in the West, I have found a common processor for cases in Montana and Idaho, but I do not – yet – have the evidence to file suit.  If anyone reading this wants to “drop a dime” on the processor, feel free to call.
And, then there is Alaska; as noted above the Alaska Department of Public Health announced that whole head romaine lettuce consumed by the Nome patients was grown in Yuma, Arizona.  And, Food Safety News  has learned the romaine was likely delivered to the correctional facility during the final week of March. Prison officials believe it was all consumed during the first week of April. Inmates who became ill first experienced symptoms on April 5, 6, 9 and 15. Country Foods, located three hours from Nome by air, is the food supplier for the Anvil Mountain prison.
I have been told the name of the Yuma, Arizona grower X by at least two people who would know, but I will let the FDA announce the growers name on Monday.
The bigger question is the link between grower X and all 64 – and growing illnesses.

Canadian officials still searching for source of E. coli outbreak
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/04/canadian-officials-still-searching-for-source-of-e-coli-outbreak/#.WtxbM4hubct
By NEWS DESK (Apr 22, 2018)
An E. coli outbreak in Canada that was initially linked to a restaurant in Edmonton, Alberta, has grown to include people who do not have any connections to Mama Nita’s Binalot, and one of them has died.
Described as “extremely complex” by Dr. Chris Sikora, medical officer of health for the Edmonton Zone, the ongoing outbreak has sickened at least 34 people. Eleven of the people have been admitted to hospitals, according to a news release from Alberta Health Services. During a news conference on April 20, another medical officer for the Edmonton Zone said the death was not linked to food from Mama Nita’s Binalot.
“Although today we do not have a grip on a specific source, we have various leads that we’re exploring with rigor,” Edmonton Zone Medical Officer Dr. Jasmine Hasselback said during the news conference.
The outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections in Alberta coincides with an ongoing outbreak in the United States. The U.S. outbreak, also involving the O157:H7 strain, is linked to romaine lettuce. It has sickened 53 people across 16 states.
Canadian officials say the 34 lab-confirmed cases there represent a significantly higher number of infections than is considered normal. However, the Edmonton medical officers said the public’s risk of infection is low.
Alberta public health officials reported the 13 most recent lab-confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection, which are not linked to the restaurant, are connected to the illnesses among the restaurant patrons. The Alberta health officials are working with officials in other Canadian provinces and the Public Health Agency of Canada on the outbreak investigation.
People who ate at Mama Nita’s Binalot restaurant in Edmonton started becoming ill in late March. The Environmental Public Health division of Alberta Health Services (AHS) has been working with the restaurant owners, who voluntarily closed until the health agency gave them clearance to reopen.
“AHS no longer has public health concerns related to this business,” according to the agency’s news release.
Advice for the public
The predominant symptom associated with E. coli O157:H7 is diarrhea, which may be bloody. In more severe forms of the disease, a form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) can develop.
Symptoms usually start one to 10 days after eating food contaminated with E. coli bacteria. Anyone who starts to develop symptoms of infection should visit a health care clinic or physician as soon as possible. It’s important to mention possible exposure to E. coli O157:H7 so proper testing and treatment can be determined.
The incubation period for E. coli typically runs from one to ten days, meaning the time from exposure to show symptoms. While most people recover on their own, complications involving HUS can turn deadly, especially for high-risk groups.
Children, the elderly and the immunocompromised people such as cancer patients are at greater risk of complications from E. coli O157:H7.

The Importance of Food Safety and Environmental Monitoring Solutions
Source : https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/signature-series/the-importance-of-food-safety-and-environmental-monitoring-solutions/
By Julian Hough (Apr 20, 2018)
The Importance of Food Safety and Environmental Monitoring Solutions
Imagine if you had enough money to put 8.5 million people, at an average annual cost of $30K, through 4 years of private college. Or, at a sticker price of $23,810 each, you could buy a Prius for about 40 percent of all American families.
That’s what $1.6 trillion would get you. That’s trillion–with a “T”. Twelve zeros! It’s also the figure that Americans spent in 2015 on food and beverages in grocery stores and eating out establishments (Canning, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Economic Research Service, May 2017).
The Costly Side of Foodborne Illness Outbreaks
Food safety is paramount to consumer confidence and business success. In the age of 24/7 news coverage, foodborne illness outbreaks fall quickly under the spotlight of public awareness.
In August 2015, at least 64 people who ate at 22 different Mexican quickserve restaurant locations contracted Salmonella from tainted tomatoes. This chain is facing two lawsuits from customers affected by the outbreak.[1] A top-selling ice cream brand recalled all products last spring after 10 reported cases of Listeria in four states were linked to frozen treats. Three of the people sickened in Kansas later died.[2]
Managers and executives, who must balance the burden of ensuring food safety while still maintaining a profitable business venture, dread such outbreaks. Years of hard work, brand-building and clawing a market share in a highly competitive industry can be undermined and toppled quicker than you can say “Salmonella.” This is a huge problem for any CEO and their brand. Recalls cost a company money. Lots of it. According to the USDA, foodborne illnesses cost companies more than $15.6 billion annually.
The newsworthy cases mentioned above are the tip of the iceberg. Food safety has a much broader base of concern and relies on the implementation of safe handling and best practices in the supply chain that encompasses production, processing, distribution, and preparation.
Today’s busy and tech-savvy millennials are acutely aware of the food they put into their bodies. Food safety and consumer health is featured in the news whenever an outbreak of foodborne illness occurs. CEOs are sitting up and taking notice. In a 2017 interview McDonald’s CEO, Steve Easterbrook, stated, “Food safety is McDonald’s number one priority”.   
The Role of FSMA
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) laws are a positive way forward, their approach being one of promoting proactivity in preventing the outbreaks, rather than being reactive to them after the event.
In addition to a myriad of other wireless monitoring solutions, data loggers are a technology that has been embraced by a gamut of processing facilities—from meat, to dairy, to labs—to maintain regulatory compliance.
Wireless Monitoring - a Solution-based Approach
While the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) are effective in reducing the risk of foodborne illnesses, it requires copious amounts of time, resources, and training. Manual record-keeping is inherently cumbersome, so foodservice directors are thus pressured to create efficient time and labor savings to reduce operating costs and remain profitable.
Any investment that can make food safe by monitoring environmental parameters, will be highly desirable. Wireless monitoring technology is a bastion of hope and a vanguard in mitigating risk associated with foodborne illness outbreaks.
Food processing facilities that invest in a temperature monitoring system benefit in some of the following ways:
Reduces/eliminates manual labor
Streamlines the collection of environmental data
Provides custom reporting
Complies with the new FSMA laws and FDA rulings
Maintains more stringent food temperature controls
The cost of investing in a monitoring system that helps to maintain product integrity, compared to the obscene amounts involved in a recall, is a no-brainer investment. Not investing in one is being pennywise and pound foolish.
Wireless monitoring systems protect inventory and help ensure equipment is operating correctly by monitoring factors including temperature and humidity. As an exception-based system, notifications are sent out only when readings fall outside preset conditions. This will help to maintain product integrity and quality and prevent costly food spoilage due to equipment failure.
Since its establishment in 1885, Cooper-Atkins Corporation (recently acquired by Emerson) has built a rock-solid reputation providing quality environmental monitoring solutions for more than 130 years. As a trusted brand in the food industry, it continues to push the boundaries of new-age technology by developing innovative and HACCP-compliant, wireless monitoring products, such as EnviroTrak and NotifEye that meet its customers’ needs.
Scott D’Aniello, vice president of Industrial and Food Processing for Cooper-Atkins says, “We are choosing to be a leader, not a follower. We have been around a long time and are fully vested in providing the best food safety solutions for our customers. Our goal is to make their business more viable–from both a financial and safety sense. McDonald’s recently awarded us the prestigious “Global Supplier of the Year 2015” which speaks volumes about who we are and the level of service we provide.”
Despite the introduction of FSMA in 2011, and its recent 2016 upgrade, government mandates, aimed at streamlining food safety regulations, have offered CEOs only a thin blanket of comfort. CEOs in the food industry will face a worrying time in 2018. The same food safety concerns that worried them in 2017 will continue to plague them.
Despite many challenges, meeting regulatory and organizational requirements is still the main goal. It’s still complicated, but today’s technological innovations are helping to ease the burden and keep food safe for consumers.
Julian Hough is a marketing specialist with Cooper-Atkins Corporation (part of Emerson) that has been manufacturing temperature monitoring equipment for 130 years.
References
1. http://www.businessinsider.com/the-chipotle-salmonella-outbreak-has-been-traced-to-tomatoes-2015-9.
2. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-texas-bluebell-idUSKBN0UM2CC20160111.

 

 


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GAO says some USDA food safety standards are outdated
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/04/gao-says-some-usda-food-safety-standards-are-outdated/#.WtxbnYhubct
By NEWS DESK (Apr 19, 2018)
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)  should carry on with its work to reduce pathogens in meat and poultry, but first, the agency needs to improve documentation, add some timelines to its tasks and check on the effectiveness of on-farm practices.
Those three new recommendations by the Government Accountability Office (GAO),  the auditing, evaluation, and investigative service of Congress, were released on Wednesday in a study that again reviewed USDA’s work to reduce pathogens in meat and poultry products. The GAO’s most recent report on the topic was in 2014.
“The U.S. food supply is generally considered safe, but foodborne illness — such as salmonella poisoning — remains a common problem,” according to the 49-page GAO report.
“For some meat and poultry products such as ground beef, there are standards for how much harmful bacteria USDA can find when testing. However, some common products such as turkey breasts and pork chops don’t have such standards. It’s unclear how USDA decides which products to consider for new standards. Also, we found that some of USDA’s food safety standards are outdated, with no deadlines for revision.”
The new GAO report says the FSIS administrator should:
Document the agency’s process for deciding which products to consider for new pathogen standards, including the basis on which such decisions should be made.
Set time frames for determining what pathogen standards or additional policies are needed to address pathogens in beef carcasses, ground beef, pork cuts and ground pork.
Include available information on the effectiveness of on-farm practices to reduce the level of pathogens as part of finalizing agency guidelines for controlling Salmonella in hogs.
In a four-page letter, USDA’s Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, Carmen Rottenberg concurred with GAO’s recommendations. She also provided additional perspective on the issues raised in the review. FSIS has no pre-harvest, on-farm jurisdiction. 
The agency is providing guidelines on the reduction of Salmonella in market hogs based on the available science. Rottenberg also said FSIS lacks mandatory recall authority, and with Salmonella and Campylobacter not ordinarily adulterants in raw product, it would not be recalled in normal circumstances.
GAO revisited FSIS progress at the behest of three Senate Democrats — Dianne Feinstein of California, Richard Durbin of Illinois, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. They’ve sent the new report with four of their own questions in a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, asking for a response by May 7.
The Senators want to know if FSIS has developed pathogen standards for such products as turkey breasts and pork chops, what the timeline and process for new standards is, and when the agency will issue on-farm guidelines for controlling pathogens in hogs. Finally, they want to know how FSIS is using whole genome sequencing of foodborne pathogens.

Unusually high percentage of E. coli victims hospitalized
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/04/unusually-high-percentage-of-e-coli-victims-hospitalized/#.Wtxbx4hubct
CDC, FDA renew public warnings about chopped romaine lettuce as outbreak spreads to 16 states
By CORAL BEACH (Apr 19, 2018)
An E. coli outbreak traced to chopped romaine lettuce has spread to another five states and public health officials are reporting a hospitalization rate of almost 60 percent, which is twice the usual rate.
There are 53 confirmed cases spread across 16 states, as of Wednesday’s update from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the 31 victims who have required hospitalization, five have developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.
To view a larger version of the map, please click on the image.
Both the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration renewed their public warnings Wednesday regarding chopped romaine lettuce, specifically from the Yuma, AZ, growing area. The CDC first posted the warning April 13, three days after its initial outbreak report.
“If you cannot confirm the source of the romaine lettuce, do not buy it or eat it. If you have already purchased products containing chopped romaine lettuce, including bagged salads, salad mixes, or prepared salads, throw them away,” the FDA reiterated in its investigation update Wednesday.
Public health officials across the country have been interviewing sick people in recent weeks after New Jersey officials identified a cluster of E. coli O157H:7 illnesses. In 41 of the 43 completed interviews, the infected people reported eating chopped romaine the week before becoming ill. That’s a 95 percent reporting rate.
Illnesses that occurred after March 29 might not yet be reported because of the time it takes between when a person becomes ill from an E. coli infection and when the illness is lab confirmed and reported. This takes an average of two to three weeks, according to the CDC. Known illnesses began March 13 with the most recent person having become sick on April 6.
Some retailers and restaurants have pulled romaine from their shelves and menus because of the government warnings. However, at least one fresh produce association says it is incorrect to refer to those actions as recalls because specific growers or processors have not been named.
The Packer newspaper reported the produce industry is asking members of the supply chain to refrain from using the word “recall” because consumers may assume when they hear the word that the specific product in question has been definitively linked to the outbreak.
On April 13, United Fresh and four other fresh produce groups — Produce Marketing Association, Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, and Western Growers — issued a joint statement. They said the industry is cooperating fully with government on the outbreak investigation and stressed that only chopped, bagged romaine from the Yuma, AZ, area has been linked to the outbreak.
The CDC reaffirmed Wednesday that only store-bought chopped romaine and chopped romaine served in restaurants are linked to sick people so far.
Most people reported eating salad at a restaurant, and romaine lettuce was the only common ingredient identified among the salads eaten, the CDC reported. The restaurants reported using bagged, chopped romaine lettuce to make salads. Ill people have not been reporting whole heads or hearts of romaine.
Government and industry are reporting that the risk of additional new infections is decreasing because the growing season in Arizona is wrapping up. As harvest in the Yuma area begins to drop off, usually in mid-March, the romaine growers in California begin shipping. The Arizona Department of Agriculture has confirmed that shipments of romaine from the state started dropping off in recent weeks and the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports shipments out of California are increasing.
Insight from the FDA’s produce scientist
Jim Gorny, who is back at the FDA after several years with the Produce Marketing Association, has a relatively unique view on the outbreak and investigation. He’s seen these situations from both perspectives and he agrees that the transition from Arizona to California will likely provide a natural interruption in the outbreak.
The relatively short shelf life of freshcut produce, particularly leafy greens, also provides a kind of self-limiting factor in terms of contaminated product in the supply chain. After it’s harvested, it takes several days for frseshcut romaine and other chopped leafy greens to reach restaurants and grocery stores. Gorny said chopped leafy greens have about 7 to 10 days of shelf life.
“The clock ticks a lot faster once they’re cut,” he said. “Just think of the head of lettuce in your refrigerator. When you chop it up it starts browning on the edges quickly.”
The chopping process also increases the chance for widespread contamination as well as a convenient growth medium. The tanks of water used in fresh processing can spread pathogens from one head of lettuce to an entire lot of bagged lettuce. The cut edges serve as open wounds for pathogens to enter the greens and thrive in a relatively protected environment.
Proper food safety measures reduce the risks associated with freshcut leafy greens, but Gorny said pathogens “shouldn’t be there in the first place.” When foodborne bacteria like E. coli does infiltrate the process and the food, Gorny said warnings and recalls are absolutely necessary.
But, as senior science advisor for produce safety at the FDA, he wants to make sure the public understands why government posts warnings and why industry recalls products.
“I think people are sometimes missing the point of recalls,” Gorny said earlier this week.
The number one reason for a recall is to prevent consumption of a product that could cause harm, he said.
The other two reasons for recalls are to alert people about symptoms so they can seek treatment if they consumed the recalled products, and to alert consumers as well as foodservice operators as soon as possible about the possibility of cross contamination from the recalled products.
Quick action helped consumers
Both industry and consumer advocates have praised the FDA and CDC for acting quickly to alert the public to the connection between chopped romaine and the current E. coli outbreak.
“… government agencies, retailers, restaurants and producers quickly acted to do everything possible to remove any product that could possibly have been involved in this outbreak,” the California Leafy Greens Marketing Association said Wednesday in a news release.
Seattle food safety attorney and victim advocate Bill Marler said the FDA and CDC did the right thing by getting on the leading edge of the outbreak instead of waiting to name a specific grower or processor. The decision to alert the public about the link to chopped romaine on April 13 no doubt helped to decrease the scope of the outbreak, but Marler and the CDC investigators expect cases to continue to be confirmed.
“This stuff (chopped romaine) went all over the country,” Marler said. “This outbreak has the potential to be as big as the spinach E. coli outbreak in 2006.”
In that 26-state outbreak, there were 205 confirmed E. coli O157:H7 illnesses, including 31 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome, 104 hospitalizations, and four deaths.
Marler represented a number of victims on the spinach outbreak. He has already filed a civil case for a 66-year-old woman in New Jersey who became ill after eating a salad at a Panera Bread restaurant. Louise Fraser was hospitalized for more than two weeks with the infection and is till recovering. Her treatment included several blood transfusions, according to the lawsuit.
New Jersey officials began investigating a cluster of E. coli illnesses more than two weeks ago. A county epidemiologist told NJ.com that Panera Bread locations were possibly connected with the illnesses.
Editor’s note: Bill Marler is a founding member of Marler Clark LLP and the publisher of Food Safety News.

Officials in Michigan, Utah warn about new hepatitis A cases
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/04/officials-in-michigan-utah-warn-about-new-hep-a-worries/#.WtxcDohubct
By NEWS DESK (Apr 19, 2018)
Public health officials in Utah and Michigan are alerting people to possible exposure to the hepatitis A virus after confirmation of infected foodservice workers.
The illnesses are part of a multi-state outbreak that has sickened about 1,200 people and killed almost 50. Infected people are usually contagious before they develop symptoms. The highly contagious virus can be easily transmitted through foods or beverages. Unvaccinated people have only two weeks after potential exposure to seek post-exposure treatment.
The Utah and Michigan foodservice workers are employed at an Edible Arrangements location and a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, respectively.
Initially, most victims in the multi-state outbreak were homeless people or substance abusers. However, from 25 to 35 percent of infected people are neither homeless nor substance abusers. Also, foodservice workers are increasingly being identified in multiple states as being infected, which has the potential to expose large groups of people to the virus.
Anyone who ate food from the Edible Arrangements store at 5211 S. State St., in Murray, UT, between March 21 and April 13 may have been exposed, Salt Lake County Health Department officials warned Wednesday.
The department said about 600 arrangements were sold during that time period. Anyone who handled or ate any portion of the arrangements could have been exposed.
Wednesday’s announcement is the latest potential hepatitis A exposure incident in Utah, which has identified 238 confirmed cases of people infected with the virus. In January Health officials also warned in January about hepatitis A exposure at businesses in Salt Lake and Utah counties.
Anyone who handled or ate Edible Arrangement items from the Murray store should call 385-468-4636 for instructions about post-exposure treatment and self monitoring for symptoms of infection.
In Michigan, officials reported a case of hepatitis A has been confirmed in a food service worker at the Buffalo Wild Wings on Mound Road north of 12 Mile in Warren. Anyone who ate at the restaurant between March 24 and April 9 was potentially exposed to the virus.
Officials inspected the restaurant Tuesday. The management is working with the officials and the restaurant has been approved to operate, the Macomb County Health Department said.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease caused by a virus. The disease can range from a mild illness to a severe sickness that can last several months. For some people it causes life-long complications.
Anyone who ate food or drank beverages from either the Edible Arrangements business in Utah or the Buffalo Wild Wings in Michigan should watch for hepatitis A symptoms for the next 50 days. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, fever, chills and yellowing of the eyes and/or skin. People who develop these symptoms would seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the exposure to the virus.
Michigan is the second hardest hit state, behind California, in the ongoing outbreak. The state has confirmed 804 cases since August 2016. Twenty-five people have died, and 646 have been hospitalized, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Warren is in Macomb County, which has the most confirmed cases in the state, with 216.
Hepatitis A can be prevented with a vaccine administered in two doses six months apart for people older than 1 year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should get hepatitis A vaccine if you are traveling to countries where hepatitis A is common; are a man who has sex with other men; use illegal drugs; have a chronic liver disease such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C; are being treated with clotting-factor concentrates; work with hepatitis A-infected animals or in a hepatitis A research laboratory; or expect to have close personal contact with an international adoptee from a country where hepatitis A is common.

The Arab Food Safety Initiative for Trade Facilitation
Source : https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/the-arab-food-safety-initiative-for-trade-facilitation/
By Omar Sabry (Apr 17, 2018)
The Arab Food Safety Initiative for Trade Facilitation
The Arab region has one of the lowest levels of intraregional trade in food and agricultural commodities, despite preferential market access provided under the Pan Arab Free Trade Agreement. Nearly 54 percent of non-tariff measures in the Arab region are mainly related to technical barriers to trade (TBT) and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, contributing to impediments in intraregional trade, especially for food and agricultural products.
Although several countries in the Arab region have taken steps to upgrade their food safety systems, the capacity and efficiency of many countries must still be enhanced to ensure an adequate oversight for locally produced and imported food, as well as to demonstrate compliance with food standards in export markets.
In efforts to address this challenge, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization is implementing the Arab Food Safety Initiative for Trade Facilitation, known as the “SAFE Initiative.” In a nutshell, the SAFE Initiative is a regional initiative led by the League of Arab States and its specialized agencies: the Arab Industrial Development and Mining Organization and the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development.  It is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. The key objective of the SAFE Initiative is to facilitate regional trade in food/agri-based products and improved integration through strengthening the regional coordination and harmonization mechanisms on conformity assessment and Food Safety systems following international best practices (TBT and SPS).
To that end, a key vehicle was identified: setting up a regional approach for common food safety standards development, based on robust risk assessments and taking into account the requirements of the Arab region. Foundational initiatives were begun and cover a broad spectrum of food safety interventions including the enhancement of competencies in risk assessment, the development of an Arab Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed, and the development of common inspection certificates and associated protocols for food imports/exports in the Arab region. Through the creation of the Arab Taskforce on Food Safety, SAFE is also targeting the establishment of a sustainable mechanism for coordination of food safety measures in the Arab region. 
For more information on the SAFE Initiative, please visit the official SAFE website as well as the SAFE Facebook and Twitter pages.
Omar Sabry is a junior consultant at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Food Systems and Nutrition Division, Agri-Business Development Department.

Driving Food Safety with HPP Technologies
Source : https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/driving-food-safety-with-hpp-technologies/
By Jeff Williams (Apr 17, 2018)
1. What is the Cold Pressure Council and what role does it play in food safety?
Jeff Williams: The Cold Pressure Council (CPC) is a trade group that will develop and formalize best practices for cold pressure technology and promote the use of a “Cold-Pressure Verified” seal to help consumers easily identify products. Cold pressure refers to the process of using high-pressure processing (HPP) instead of heat pasteurization to preserve food.
There were several drivers behind the formation of the CPC. First was the desire that everyone using HPP technology follows proper processes and procedures—no shortcuts. HPP is a fantastic technology, and we do not want any ‘bad actors’ misusing the technology and creating a bad image for it. Another driver was the desire by many existing and new brands to have a logo program that would identify that product as ‘cold pressured’ and verified—as in they are following the proper guidelines for safety, validation, and the HPP process. The third driver was to create an independent organization to help foster the growth and development of HPP overall.
As far as Food Safety—HPP is synonymous with it. HPP is cold pasteurization in pure water; it uses ultra-high-pressure-purified water to keep packaged food pathogen-free to stay fresh longer. At very high pressures, bacteria such as Listeria, Escherichia coli, and Salmonella are inactivated. Foods using HPP include ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook meats, ready-meals, fruits and vegetables, juices and smoothies, soups and sauces, wet salads and dips, dairy products, seafood, and shellfish. HPP helps producers increase food safety and extend shelf-life while providing consumers with nutritious, natural, flavorful food.
2. How is the CPC including consumers in the conversation about HPP food and beverage packaging? Why is that important?
JW: The CPC is including HPP in the conversation with consumers with the emergence of the seal on actual product packaging. Currently, the seal can be found on Evolution Fresh and Suja juices. As more members join and qualify for the seal, consumers will see it on additional packages in the market place.
In addition, we are seeing more and more SKUs across every category currently using HPP. The emerging categories include soups, baby food, pet foods, new beverage alternatives, RTE meals, and ingredients into other products that are not processed in this way. With more and more products available, consumers will continue to learn about HPP technology.
Also, a key category you typically would not see is foodservice. Restaurants are pushing towards fresh, natural, and safe foods, just like consumers at home. More and more foods and ingredients used in restaurants are moving to HPP.
There are many new applications coming that are currently in the lab which no one is thinking of right now. You’ll start to see those in stores this year. Finally, there are a number of products currently on the market that do not use HPP, but in the coming year or two, you will see shift to HPP for a number of benefits.
3. What is the CPC’s plan to foster awareness of HPP?
JW: The CPC will continue their membership drive and issuance of guidelines for all categories of HPP food applications. As more applications are added and eligible for the seal, awareness will grow.
4. Looking ahead, what is next for the CPC?
JW: The CPC has an annual conference; this year it will be in June in Chicago. More info can be found at coldpressurecouncil.org/annual-conference/.
Jeff Williams is the chairman of the Cold Pressure Council.

SQF Edition 8: Focus on Hygiene and Sanitation
Source : https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/sqf-edition-8-focus-on-hygiene-and-sanitation/
By Remco Products (Apr 17, 2018)
SQF Edition 8: Focus on Hygiene and Sanitation
Food-related outbreaks and recalls due to poor sanitation and hygiene standards prevailing in the food industry is not an uncommon occurrence around the globe, including the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year there are about 48 million foodborne illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths due to consumption of contaminated food. These incidences result into annual losses of over $15.6 billion dollars to the economy. Moreover, about one in four of the food safety recalls in the U.S. relate to poor environmental hygiene and sanitation controls, and, if food facilities were to implement appropriate improvements, it could translate into an actual savings of $0.5–1.5 million annually per company. Establishing such food safety controls usually requires food facilities to develop, implement, and maintain a food safety management system, and the SQF Codes can provide a sound basis for developing such a system.
The SQF Code Edition 8 Food Safety Code for Manufacturing has provided the requirements for environmental hygiene and sanitation controls for the food and beverage industry, at least in the following areas (note: technical elements for Module 11 are referenced in the following points):
1. The Concept of Hygienic Design
Element 11.2.9.3 of the SQF Food Safety Code for Manufacturing states that “benches, tables, conveyors, mixers, mincers, graders, and other mechanical processing equipment shall be hygienically designed and located for appropriate cleaning.”
Hygienically designed surfaces generally have the following quality features: cleanable to a safe microbiological level; made of compatible (corrosion-resistant, nontoxic, nonabsorbent) material; areaccessible for inspection, maintenance, cleaning, and sanitation; allow for no product or fluid collection; have hollow areas that are hermetically sealed; have no niches like cracks, seams, gaps, etc.; exhibit sanitary operational performance; have valves, switches, and other maintenance enclosures designed to prevent any harborage points; have hygienic compatibility with other systems such as the water pipe supply, etc.; and require a validated cleaning protocol for each piece of processing equipment.
Hygienically designed equipment is quicker and easier to clean, and minimizes the risk of product contamination by microorganisms, allergens, foreign material, etc. This in turn maximizes food safety and quality, reduces the risk of an expensive product rejection or recall, and minimizes food waste.
However, when it comes to the implements used to clean food production equipment, very few of these cleaning tools are developed with good hygienic design in mind. Cleaning equipment can be a major collection point for pathogens. Therefore, cleaning implements of poor design could jeopardize food safety and quality. Vikan’s Ultra Safe Technology (UST) brushes and brooms can provide a facility with a superior hygienic cleaning solution. For more information, download our white paper at www.remcoproducts.com/ust-white-paper.
2. Verified and Validated Cleaning Processes
Element 11.2.13 requires sites to develop reliable cleaning and sanitation methods, so it does not pose a chemical contamination risk to raw materials, ingredients, or product.
A well-written cleaning program must also include provisions for effective cleaning of equipment, facilities, utensils, amenities, and external areas. Such a methodic program must be verified to ensure its effectiveness in terms of removing biological, chemical, and/or physical contaminants from equipment.
Moreover, any modifications to the equipment means that cleaning processes must be re-validated. In the case of a cleaning implement such as a scrubbing brush, this may involve development of a consistently effective and appropriate method of decontaminating the cleaning tool. For more information, download our white paper at remcoproducts.com/cleaning-tool-maintenance/.
3. Care, Maintenance, and Assurance of Sanitary Performance of Equipment
Element 11.2.9 requires the site to document appropriate specifications of equipment and utensils. Equipment must be designed, constructed, installed, operated, and maintained to meet applicable regulatory requirements and not pose a contamination threat to the product. Furthermore, they must be cleaned after use or at a frequency to control contamination and be stored in a clean and serviceable condition to prevent microbiological contamination or allergen cross-contact. As a recommendation, there should also be scheduled care and maintenance plan for the cleaning tools because they may be a potential source of food contamination.
For more information, download our white paper at remcoproducts.com/white-paper-selection-care-and-maintenance-guide/.
4. Significance of Sanitary Zones and Environmental Monitoring
The purpose of creating sanitary zones is to ensure separation of functions critical to food safety to prevent direct contamination, cross contact, and cross-contamination incidents. The requirements are provided in section 11.7, which provides guidance on the following:
11.7.1    Process Flow
11.7.2    Receipt of Raw and Packaging Materials and Ingredients
11.7.3    Thawing of Food
11.7.4    High-Risk Processes
11.7.5    Control of Foreign Material Contamination
11.7.6    Detection of Foreign Objects
11.7.7    Managing Foreign Matter Contamination Incidents
Proper placement of zones improves capability of environmental monitoring necessary to verify whether sanitary conditions are maintained on-site. Such zoning can best be supported by a well developed and implemented color-coding program.
For more information, download our white paper at remcoproducts.com/white-paper-making-the-decision-to-apply-color-coding/.

GM Food Safety Testing Market -to become Leading Performer for Global Investors with increasing Business Opportunities by 2022
Source : https://theanalystfinancial.com/192570/gm-food-safety-testing-market-to-become-leading-performer-for-global-investors-with-increasing-business-opportunities-by-2022/
By rashmi.s (Apr 17, 2018)
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FOOD SAFETY ALERT: Mussels blamed for norovirus outbreak in Spain
Source : https://www.euroweeklynews.com/news/on-euro-weekly-news/spain-news-in-english/1472327-food-safety-alert-mussels-blamed-for-norovirus-outbreak-in-spain
By Karl Smallman (Apr 16, 2018)
SPAIN’S food safety agency has issued an urgent alert following the outbreak of 39 cases of the norovirus in the country.
According to the Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition (AECOSAN) the cases in the Valencian Community have been linked to mussels of Galician origin.
The Estrella Polar brand frozen packs of 12 cooked mussels affected have now been removed from the shelves.
They carry the lot number: 010DOP-18 or 015DOP-18, with a manufacturing date of 01/19/18 (January 19, 2018) and a preferential use by date of 1/2020.
It is believed the product could have been distributed across Spain’s autonomous communities of Andalucia, Balearic Islands, Catalonia, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y Leon, Basque Country, Extremadura, Galicia, Madrid, Murcia Navarra and Valencia, as well as Italy and Portugal.
European authorities have also been informed through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF).
According to the UK's NHS norovirus, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting, is one of the most common stomach bugs. It's also called the winter vomiting bug because it's more common in winter, although you can catch it at any time of the year.
They say norovirus can be very unpleasant but it usually clears up by itself in a few days.
Their advice is to stay at home until you're feeling better.
There's no cure for norovirus, so you have to let it run its course.
Norovirus can spread very easily, so you should wash your hands regularly while you're ill and stay off work or school until at least 48 hours after the symptoms have cleared to reduce the risk of passing it on.
They recommend:
Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration
Take paracetamol for any fever or aches and pains
Get plenty of rest
If you feel like eating, eat plain foods such as soup, rice, pasta and bread

Federal Efforts to Manage the Risk of Arsenic in Rice
Source : https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-18-199
By gao.gov (Mar 16, 2018)
The FDA warned in 2016 that infants face a higher health risk than adults from arsenic owing to their less-varied diets, and proposed guidance on arsenic levels in infant rice cereal.
We reviewed recent scientific work and FDA and USDA actions to manage the risk of arsenic in rice. We found the agencies have researched methods to detect arsenic in rice and taken other actions, but that FDA could better communicate the risk to the public and coordinate with other agencies.
We recommended that, among other things, FDA develop a timeline to finalize its guidance on infant rice cereal and work to better coordinate its actions.
Rice may be more susceptible to arsenic contamination due to the flooded conditions in which it is usually grown.

 

 

 

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