New Zealand gov't establishes food safety unit
By Xinhua (May 7, 2018)
WELLINGTON, May 7 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand Food Safety Minister Damien O'Connor said on Monday the establishment of New Zealand Food Safety will help raise the profile of food safety for all New Zealanders.
The New Zealand Food Safety, launched by O'Connor, is one of the four new business units created within the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), along with Biosecurity New Zealand, Fisheries New Zealand and Forestry New Zealand. It brings together about 390 people from MPI's food standard setting, verification and assurance teams into one business unit.
"Our food safety system cares for the people producing and processing food, as well as those consuming it. It protects consumers at home and abroad by ensuring that food grown, harvested, imported, processed, transported, stored, exported and sold is safe to eat," O'Connor said in a statement.
"The integrity of the food safety system is particularly important to New Zealand because we are a nation of food producers and exporters, and we are trusted across the globe," the minister said.
New Zealand Food Safety will make compliance easier for small, regional or rural food businesses including providing guidance to market stallholders, rolling out templates to reduce costs and allowing those operating under several food safety laws to have one plan, he said.
What will it take to improve Food Safety Standards in SA?
Source : http://www.cbn.co.za/component/k2/what-will-it-take-to-improve-food-safety-standards-in-sa
By Super User (May 7, 2018)
The recent Listeria outbreak, which claimed over 180 lives, has been a major eye opener for South Africans and has resulted in consumers not just questioning food safety standards, but insisting on a zero-tolerance approach to bacterial contamination and exposure.
Gareth-Lloyd Jones, Chief Commercial Officer at Ecowize - South Africa’s leading specialised hygiene and sanitation service provider for the food, pharmaceutical and healthcare industries - asks, “Is zero bacterial exposure actually realistic?”
“In short, the answer is no,” he says. “Ultimately, we live in an environment where we are constantly exposed to bacteria. However, South Africa’s food producers are going to have to get as close to zero as practically possible. And, in terms of bacteria that have the potential to cause human health issues, more stringent procedures need to be in place to ensure the lowest risk of contamination.”
In the midst of the recent outbreak, food microbiology and safety specialist, Dr Lucia Anelich highlighted that there are a number of food safety management standards applied by South African food companies. These standards, she says, are based on what is referred to as a ‘hazard analysis and critical control points system’ but - unlike in many other countries - these standards are not legally required or enforced in South Africa.
Jones says, “With this in mind, there is an urgent need for enforceable regulations to be introduced which address all pathogens - beyond those currently in place for Salmonella and E. coli. The introduction of a designated food control or food safety agency would also go a long way towards ensuring a safer environment in which food products are produced.”
“Countries which have implemented such legislation and industry governance have seen a massive reduction in the number, and severity, of outbreaks,” he explains.
A factor which Jones insists needs to be included in the food safety legislation discussion is defining what ‘zero’ actually means in this context. “To guarantee that there is clarity and, of course, compliance within the industry, it should be clear whether it means absolutely no trace of harmful bacteria within a facility. Alternatively, it may mean zero contaminants found on actual food products, or that a set range of certain bacteria - which are not harmful in small amounts - is acceptable. We need to focus on setting these strict and transparent guidelines to achieve the optimum result,” he explains.
Jones highlights that enforcing these standards by modernising legislation and introducing a food safety agency will require many of the country’s food producers to make a massive investment of time and resources relating to their hygiene, maintenance and engineering practices.
“I have noticed that many companies have already started this process and are investing millions. However, these are producers of more premium products. The producers of lower-cost food products like many of the ready-to-eat cold meats would find this process a lot more difficult and would need much longer to fully implement the required changes.”
“There is a great deal of pressure on the ready-to-eat industry following the Listeria outbreak and things are not likely to become easier moving forward. Within this industry, emphasis is placed on their financial competitiveness and keeping their prices low enough to meet retailer and consumer demand. Ultimately, food safety and hygiene practices are an expense for these companies and something they may therefore have considered cutting back on in the past,” he says.
Beyond legislation, Jones adds that the adoption of a designated food safety agency would require funding, which would likely be gathered through some kind of tax – be it from the food industry or through general tax collection.
“The increased cost of more stringent and advanced hygiene and food safety practices, and additional taxes, will likely result in products being sold at higher prices as this cost is passed on to retailers and ultimately to consumers,” he explains.
“The bottom line is that an investment needs to be made to reduce the risk of another dreadful outbreak. While consumers demand a zero-tolerance approach be implemented, as they rightfully deserve to trust that the food they consume is safe, investment in this safety comes at a cost – for the public sector, the national food industry, local retailers, and the end consumer,” he concludes.
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Marijuana edibles on a rocky road to food safety assurances
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/05/marijuana-edibles-on-a-rocky-road-to-food-safety-assurances/#.WvEe4oiFOUl
BY COOKSON BEECHER (May 4, 2018)
They call her “The Weed Whacker.”
As the first marijuana specialist for the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment — and therefore the first marijuana specialist for a public health authority in the entire nation — she disposed of $28 million dollars of cannabis products in 2016 alone. Why? Because she found them out of compliance with her health department’s regulations and requirements.
On the other side of the coin, she’s known for saving companies millions of dollars in potential losses by pointing out where they’re not in compliance. This, in turn, allows them to fix the problems, get their house in order, and sell their smokable and edible products.
She is Kimberly Stuck and she is all about food safety. As a public health investigator for the Denver health department for more than three years, she worked as a food safety specialist. In that job, she inspected restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals, festivals, farmers markets, and dispensaries. A certified Professional of Food Safety, she is also HACCP certified and ServeSafe Certified.
From there, she went on to become a marijuana specialist for the department. In that job, she inspected cultivation operations, marijuana-infused product facilities, and dispensaries. She also conducted contaminated marijuana product investigations, which she says took up most of her days. Court appearances, product testing for pesticide contamination, recalls and product destruction were all part of the job.
“It is very exciting to work as a marijuana investigator,” she said in a LinkedIn post. “In an industry that has never existed before, I am constantly finding new challenges and learning something new.”
One thing she learned as a marijuana specialist for Denver is that there is a great deal of confusion and a huge need for expertise in the industry. Convinced that she could save cannabis companies millions of dollars by informing them of preventative measures they could take, which in the end would also protect consumers, she went out on her own and launched Allay Cannabis Consulting.
Allay’s goal “is to help the cannabis industry thrive on a global scale,” according to the company’s website.
According to stats from Arcview’s midyear update to its fifth edition of “The State of Legal Marijuana Markets, the spending on legal cannabis in North America was $7.3 billion in 2016 and will post 33 percent growth in 2017 to $9.7 billion. Analysts expect it to then grow at a 28 percent compound annual rate to reach $24.5 billion in 2021.
Currently, nine states allow the sale of recreational marijuana and 29 allow the sale of medical marijuana. Proposals are being floated in other states as legislatures are keen to capture tax revenues from this booming industry.
Mass confusion defines laws for edibles
Each state has different regulations for recreational and medical marijuana, some of which are still being crafted. For example, Kansas, Idaho and South Dakota do not allow edibles, either for recreational or medical reasons. In Washington state, adults 21 and over can buy medical and recreational edibles and concentrates. California and Colorado also allow recreational and medical edibles.
In all of this, what concerns Stuck the most is that many health departments aren’t regulating edible marijuana the way they should be — or at all.
In Denver, she said, as soon as recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado, the city’s health department “got on it right away.” But the state’s health department isn’t looking at edibles as food, so except in Denver, very few local or county health departments have signed off on regulating marijuana edibles for food safety.
Stuck is concerned about food safety issues, especially in edible medical marijuana products. Many health conditions include suppression of the immune system, making pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and molds particularly dangerous to people who consume medical marijuana in edible forms.
Medical marijuana is now legal in more than half of the 50 states, but there were virtually no regulations about controlling pathogens when the trend began. Some states have made advances in tightening up their regulations. But, others still don’t have regulations.
“It was happening in states like California, Oregon, Nevada, and Hawaii,” Stuck said. “It’s the Wild West out here. It’s crazy.”
Stuck said that food safety standards should cover everything from employee hygiene, to food handling, to temperature control requirements, and all other steps of producing, packaging, holding and selling. While some counties have regular health department inspections, others are still working toward that.
As a consultant, she urges manufacturers to take a proactive approach, pointing out that upgrading to good food safety standards now can reduce the risk of outbreaks, hefty fines, or even closure.
Looking into the future
“Edible cannabis products are here to stay,” Stuck said, pointing out that they could eventually become legalized on the federal level. When that happens, the Food and Drug Administration will adopt regulations across the board, which in turn would clear up the confusion that comes with different regulations in each state.
Though U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said he wants the Department of Justice to return to aggressive prosecutions under the federal marijuana prohibition, other current and former federal officials think a different approach is in the public’s best interest.
Former U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, who told Bloomberg news in 2009 that he was “unalterably opposed” to the legalization of marijuana, tweeted on April 18 that he has a new view and a new job. He’s now on the board of the multi-state cannabis company Acerage Holdings. Boehner was Speaker from 2011 until he resigned from his seat in the House in 2015.
“I’m joining the board of #AcreageHoldings because my thinking on cannabis has evolved,” Boehner tweeted. “I’m convinced de-scheduling the drug is needed so we can do research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities.”
Boehner has also said he has seen the difference medical marijuana made for a friend suffering from back pain.
Also in April, President Donald Trump told a top Senate Republican that he would support efforts in Congress to protect states that have legalized marijuana. He also told him that he would support a legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all.
Then, on April 19, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-NY, announced that he’s introducing legislation to decriminalize marijuana.
“My thinking — as well as the general population’s views — on the issue has evolved,” Schumer said, “and so I believe there’s no better time than the present to get this done. It’s simply the right thing to do.”
With those changing views, a new day may be dawning for marijuana. But Stuck said just because marijuana edibles and medicinals are legal only in some states, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a need for some regulatory oversight to make sure they’re safe.
In current conditions, she said, it’s a real struggle for many growers, manufacturers, and retailers to know exactly what they need to know and do to be in compliance with their own state’s laws. And they’re often confused about where they can find the right information.
“It’s scary to me,” she said. “But some companies are reaching out to get educated. And more health departments are coming online.”
In this climate, Stuck said it’s no wonder consumers aren’t quite sure what edibles or oils are safe.
Imagine this, if you will
You live in one of the states that allow the sale of recreational or medical marijuana. The stores selling it have ads on billboards and in newspapers. You go to one of them and buy what looks like some nice brownies, cookies or candy. The people selling you the marijuana edibles give their hearty endorsements of how good they are.
You go home and share them with your family and friends, although definitely not with your kids or your friends’ kids. In fact, you make it a point to secure any that haven’t been eaten to make sure the kids have access to them.
You feel totally safe in doing all of this because your state is allowing the sale of these edible products. Surely everything’s being tested — after all, it is food.
But wait. Before they got to the store where you bought them, what sort of inspections were required? How do you know whether or not they contain foodborne pathogens such as E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella or pesticides or mold mycotoxins or toxic metals?
Or maybe you live in one of the 29 states that allow medical marijuana edible items or oils. Surely you can have absolute faith in them, after all, they’re being prescribed by doctors and used as medicine.
But there’s a fly in the marijuana ointment. Because the federal government identifies marijuana as an illegal, controlled substance, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not involved in setting standards as would be the case in many foods and medicines.
That leaves the ball in the states’ courts.
Marijuana often referred to as weed, pot, grass and other slang terms is a greenish-gray mixture of the dried flowers, or “buds,” of Cannabis. It is the most commonly used illicit drug, according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
In the past, the federal government used an arsenal of propaganda that led people to believe that marijuana would turn someone into a drug-crazed person. “Women cry for it, men die for it,” proclaimed the film “Reefer Madness.” “If you smoke it, you will kill people,” said another.
Then came medical marijuana. It got its toe into the door and eventually pried it open. People learned that it had many benefits, among them relieving pain, insomnia, anxiety, spasticity, and treating potentially life-threatening seizures associated with conditions such as epilepsy. All without physical addiction.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, about 85 percent of Americans support legalizing medical marijuana.
Generally, consumers are advised to keep medical marijuana oils refrigerated unless they’re told it’s not necessary. Refrigeration keeps any bacteria that might be in the oils from multiplying to dangerous levels.
What are THC and CBD levels all about?
To begin with, they’re about how potent marijuana or marijuana edibles are.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. It’s the ingredient in the cannabis plant that gets people high. In some cases, THC levels are on the package labeling. In some states, a package of edibles is limited to 100 mg with each piece containing 10 mg.
In medical marijuana, the main ingredient, CBD, or cannabidiol, has little, if any, intoxicating properties. Because CBD-rich cannabis is non-psychoactive or far less psychoactive than THC-dominant strains, it is the choice for a wide range of patients.
Medical marijuana comes in various forms, among them liquid tinctures, capsules, oil for use in vaporizers, and sprays that can be inhaled or sprayed under the tongue. In addition, there are topical CBD creams that are prescribed for muscle pain.
However, because CBD reduces the speed at which the body metabolizes the blood thinner warfarin, it’s best to confer with your doctor about this.
California is a good example of how much confusion there can be when it comes to marijuana edibles and medical marijuana. Recreational marijuana became legal in the Golden State on Jan. 1 this year.
Betsy Gribble of the Sequoia Analytical Lab told KSRO in Sonoma County, CA, that even though California state officials are cracking down on marijuana regulations, only a fraction of the edible marijuana currently on the shelves is being properly tested. That’s because retailers with temporary licenses can sell inventory they had in stock before 2018. For consumers, that means they might be buying products that haven’t gone through testing.
Gribble says her lab checks for a variety of contaminants ranging from E. coli to heavy metals. But soon it will start looking for more. Beginning in July, marijuana in California must be tested for foreign materials such as bugs or hair. And next year, tests will include searching for lead, mercury, arsenic, and mold.
Mold is serious stuff. It produces mycotoxins, which can cause disease and even death in humans and animals. And even if a moldy product is treated to remove the mold, the toxin can still remain. The problem here is if a contaminated flower is turned into a concentrate, the percentage of mycotoxin can skyrocket. The same thing happens with pesticides.
Chris Schutz, operations manager for Sequoia Analytical Lab, said pesticides and residual solvents in the concentrated oils is the biggest concern, especially since some producers use dangerous solvents.
“They build up in a person’s body over time,” he said. “You might not feel the effects of this for 5 or 10 years.”
“If you’re putting things in your body, you should know what your putting there and be assured it’s not going to kill you,” said Gribble in the KSRO interview.
The California Department of Public Health’s Manufactured Cannabis Safety branch is one of three state licensing authorities charged with licensing and regulating commercial cannabis activity in California. As such, it is responsible for regulation of all commercial cannabis manufacturing in California.
“We strive to protect public health and safety by ensuring commercial cannabis manufacturers operate safe, sanitary workplaces and follow good manufacturing practices to produce products that are free of contaminants, meet product guidelines and are properly packaged an labeled,” says the Public Health Department’s website.
Department spokesman Ronald Owens said that the state’s Department of Public Health does not have historical data on instances of foodborne illnesses resulting from consuming marijuana edibles in his state.
Treat edibles like food
The CEO and founder of Icicle Technologies, which focuses on food safety, Steven Burton said that edible marijuana products are not all that different from other food products.
“There are many food safety hazards associated with cannabis production and distribution that could put the public at risk but are not yet adequately controlled,” he said.
He said the top four food-safety hazards for the cannabis industry are:
Aflatoxins on cannabis buds. As in any other agricultural product, improper growing conditions, handling, and storage can trigger mold growth.
Chemical residues on cannabis plants. These can be introduced at several points during production and storage.
Pathogenic contamination from pest infestations. This would include insects, rodents, birds and other pests that spread disease.
Pathogenic contamination due to improper employee handling. Burton said that employee training is key for any food facility.
Other food-safety experts also list E. coli, salmonella, listeria and norovirus as “the usual culprits” when it comes to foodborne pathogens
Stuck said that she’s found that most food safety violations are usually due to people. That’s why she takes employee training so seriously.
“A lot of small business owners don’t know anything about food safety,” she said. “They were making brownies in their kitchen and growing pot in their basement. It’s a real struggle for them. And it’s confusing where to find information.”
To get up to speed as they get larger — and a lot of these places have become really large — they’ll hire a chef with experience in food safety. Stuck said she’s found that a lot of the young people going into the business are eager to learn.
“They really want to do things right,” she said. “They don’t want black marks on the industry. I feel that once they understand how much it affects their companies and people lives, they become committed to doing things right.”
Schutz of Sequoia Analytic Labs said that consumers should definitely care about food safety practices when it comes to legalized marijuana products.
“The fact you can unknowingly harm yourself is why you should care,” he said.
In Washington state, the state’s Agriculture Department’s Food Safety Program already regulates, inspects and provides technical assistance to food processors pertaining to safety issues. But now it will conduct similar activities with marijuana-infused edible processors. These activities include assessing facility construction, equipment, cleaning and sanitizing practices, allowable products and carrying out enforcement and recalls when necessary.
Spokesman Hector Castro said the agriculture department will also be involved in increasing outreach and education.
“Some businesses didn’t have a background in food production,” he said. “Some didn’t know about food-safety requirements. Yet they’re producing something that’s consumed by people.” Castro said it’s all about protecting the consumer: “Food safety is one of our responsibilities. Consumers expect it.”
Jeff Kraus, owner of Smuggler Brothers in Sedro-Woolley, WA, said that even though he’s against overregulation, the agriculture department’s new role sounds reasonable.
“If a company is producing food, it should be regulated like any other food producer so people can be assured that what they’re buying is safe,” he said.
Time for a public outcry
“There should be a public outcry about this,” said Stuck, referring to health departments that have not implemented food safety regulations for edibles.
“Why aren’t they out there regulating this? It’s food. It’s medicine. People are trusting that the government is protecting them. It’s unfair to the consumer. They should be able to trust that what they’re buying is safe.”
Icicle Technologies CEO Steve Burton agrees. “… the question of regulatory oversight has become a pressing issue,” he said.
Consumers who want to find out what’s happening in their counties and states should contact local health departments and ask if they conduct regular inspections at edible marijuana manufacturers’ locations.
U.S. food exporters can apply for license under Canada's food safety law
Source : https://iegpolicy.agribusinessintelligence.informa.com/PL216291/US-food-exporters-can-apply-for-license-under-Canadas-food-safety-law
This article is powered by Food Chemical News
By Joan Murphy (May 3, 2018)
Food companies shipping products to Canada should apply for licenses from Canadian authorities after the final Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) come out in the next few weeks, suggested Cameron Prince, senior food safety director for The Acheson Group (TAG) and former official at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
EU food safety body tells states to keep eye out for insecticide after scare
Source : https://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-eggs/eu-food-safety-body-tells-states-to-keep-eye-out-for-insecticide-after-scare-idUSKBN1I41EZ
By Reuters Staff (May 3, 2018)
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union’s food safety watchdog urged member states on Thursday to monitor poultry products for the insecticide fipronil following the withdrawal of millions of chicken eggs from supermarket shelves last year.
The Parma-based EFSA tested some 5,500 samples of eggs and chicken meat between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30 of last year and found that about one in seven contained levels of fipronil exceeding the legal limit.
“It is recommended that fipronil and other acaricides be included in the future monitoring activities of the member states,” EFSA said in a report.
Eight countries had submitted samples with elevated fipronil concentrations, including Italy, Germany and France, EFSA said.
Fipronil is commonly used to treat pets for fleas and ticks but is banned from use in the food chain because it may cause organ damage in humans if large quantities are ingested.
After a fipronil scandal broke last summer, Dutch authorities identified the source as a small supplier of cleaning products that had sold them to unwitting producers as a more efficient way to fend off red mites in poultry stables.
Whole frozen chickens recalled due to Salmonella risk
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/05/whole-frozen-chickens-recalled-due-to-salmonella-risk/#.WvEghYiFOUl
By NEWS DESK (May 3, 2018)
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) announced that a meat processor in Sealy, TX, is recalling 2,300 whole frozen chickens because of a risk of Salmonella contamination.
Texas All Grass-Fed, the processor, failed to properly document steps taken to prevent or eliminate bacterial contamination from the chickens, or document that the birds were properly cooled after processing, according to a news release.
The recalled whole chickens were packaged in plastic bags. In addition to being sold at the processor’s storefront in Sealy, the chickens were distributed throughout Houston, Dallas and Austin areas.
Although no illnesses have been reported in connection to the recalled products, the DSHS is urging the public to toss out the recalled chicken, or return it to the point of sale.
Advice to consumers
Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but infants, children, seniors and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are more fragile, according to the state health agency.
Most people who become ill from a Salmonella infection will recover fully after a few days. It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and not get sick or show any symptoms, but still be able to spread the infection to others.
Anyone who has eaten any of the whole, frozen chicken products and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to the bacteria.
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, called salmonellosis, typically start 6 to 72 hours after exposure to Salmonella bacteria, but in some people it takes two weeks for symptoms to develop. Symptoms include fever, chills, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms usually last for four to seven days.
From the community: 6 Food Safety Tips for Handling Eggs Safely from Stop Foodborne Illness
Source : http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/arlington-heights/community/chi-ugc-article-6-food-safety-tips-for-handling-eggs-safely-f-2018-05-01-story.html
By Community Contributor Stop Foodborne Illness (May 1, 2018)
ggs are a symbol of new life. Enjoy them but be aware of the risks they carry. If not handled smartly, eggs can cause food poisoning because salmonella is a common bacteria found in uncooked, unbroken eggs. Salmonella can be present on both the outside and the inside of eggs. Stop Foodborne Illness, the national advocacy group that educates people on being food safe (http://stopfoodborneillness.org), has some good advice on how to keep your eggs pathogen-free.
The bad news is … some things you should know about salmonella poisoning:
• Typical symptoms are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and fever.
• Symptoms usually last, at least, a couple of days.
• Susceptibility and severity are generally associated with babies and young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and others with compromised immune systems. However, anyone can get ill from salmonella.
• Severe cases can be life-threatening.
The good news is that there are safe ways to handle and prepare eggs! If you follow these guidelines from Stop Foodborne Illness, you and yours will be much more likely to stay healthy.
Always choose clean and fresh eggs. When purchasing eggs, open the carton and make sure they're clean, and intact. Handle with care: Chickens can harbor Salmonella without showing any signs of being sick, so all unpasteurized eggs -- even those that are fresh, organic, or unbroken -- can contain Salmonella. Buying in-shell pasteurized eggs reduces that risk. Wash your hands thoroughly. Everybody, including children, must wash their hands with soap and water before and after handling eggs - which includes prepping, cooking, cooling, dyeing, hiding and hunting them.
Refrigerate, refrigerate, refrigerate - your eggs at 40°F or below. Safely storing and cooking your eggs before consumption is important. When storing eggs make sure they go inside the fridge, not the fridge door. Once hard-cooked, refrigerated eggs can be stored for up to one week. Eggs can be out of refrigeration for 2 hours (when it's under 90°F) and still be safe to eat. Even though eggs will show signs of spoilage (taste, smell, appearance) when they're past the "best by" date, we don't recommend using this as an indicator of an egg's safeness - mainly because eggs that harbor Salmonella taste, smell, and appear exactly the same as "normal" eggs.
Avoid cross-contamination and cook eggs thoroughly
• Using soap and water, wash your hands and all surfaces that may have had contact with raw eggs. This includes countertops, pots and pans, utensils and dishes.
• Don't let in-shell eggs, raw whites or yolks cross-contaminate foods that will be eaten raw.
• Eggs should be cooked until the egg white and yolk are firm. A lightly cooked egg with a runny yolk increases your chance of pathogenic contamination. If a recipe calls for lightly cooked eggs, we recommend using pasteurized egg products.
• Dishes with eggs in the recipe must be cooked to a safe internal temperature of 160°F (71°C)
• Eggs should be eaten or refrigerated within 2 hours after cooking.
• Do not eat eggs that have been left at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Know the safest way to boil eggs
According to Deirdre Schlunegger, Chief Executive Officer of Stop Foodborne Illness, when cooking hard-boiled eggs, place a single layer of eggs in a saucepan. Cover the eggs with at least one inch of water. When the water is at a full boil, remove the pan from the heat source and let the eggs stay in the water for between 12-18 minutes, depending on the size of the eggs. After the eggs have set for the appropriate amount of time, run cold water over them. When the eggs are cooled enough to handle, put them in the refrigerator.
If you and your loved ones celebrate the holidays at a restaurant, and the dish calls for lightly cooked eggs-as some sauces do-ask your server if the dish can be prepared using pasteurized eggs, or liquid egg products, when possible.
About Stop Foodborne Illness
Stop Foodborne Illness is a national nonprofit, public health organization dedicated to preventing illness and death from foodborne pathogens by promoting sound food safety policy and best practices, building public awareness, and assisting those impacted by foodborne illness. For more food safety tips please visit www.Stopfoodborneillness.org/awareness/. If you think you have been sickened from food, contact your local health professional. You may subscribe to receive Stop Foodborne Illness e-Alerts and eNews here: www.Stopfoodborneillness.org/take-action/sign-up-for-e-alerts/.
U.S. joins Canada in investigation of outbreak linked to oysters
Source : http://www.foodhaccp.com/indexcopynews.html
By NEWS DESK (May 1, 2018)
A Canadian outbreak of norovirus traced to raw oysters is now on the U.S. radar as federal and state officials report they are investigating a multistate outbreak in this country.
More than 170 people across three Canadian provinces, Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, had been infected by the highly contagious virus as of the most recent report from the Public Health Agency of Canada. The health agency and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have been working on the outbreak investigation since early April.
Monday evening the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued its own outbreak investigation notice. Complete distribution details were not yet available, but the FDA reported with certainty that the Canadian oysters have been sent to California, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Washington.
“It is possible that additional states received these oysters either directly from Canada or through further distribution within the U.S.,” according to FDA’s notice.
“FDA and the states are conducting a trace-forward investigation to determine where the raw oysters were distributed and ensure they’re removed from the food supply. Retailers should not serve raw oysters harvested from the following harvest locations (or landfiles) within Baynes Sound: #1402060, #1411206, #1400483, and #278757.”
Although the FDA outbreak notice reported the agency is working on the outbreak investigation with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC had not posted any information about the situation as of 10 p.m. Monday. The FDA did not report how many people have been sickened in the outbreak in the United States.
In Canada, people became sick between mid-Arch and mid-April, according to public health officials. The Public Health Agency of Canada reported on April 27 that the number of new cases was beginning to taper off. Federal officials in Canada have closed the implicated shellfish until further notice.
“Most individuals who became sick reported eating raw oysters from the south and central parts of Baynes Sound, British Columbia, before the onset of their illness,” the Canadian agency reported. The investigation into a specific source of contamination impacting the shellfish farms in that area is ongoing.
“Although not all cases of illness have been tested, testing of several cases has confirmed the presence of a norovirus infection. It is suspected that norovirus illness caused by the consumption of contaminated oysters is the cause of illness in the untested cases.”
Advice to consumers
Raw oysters can cause illness in anyone, but they are particularly dangerous for young children, older adults, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems. Oysters and other food contaminated with noroviruses usually looks, smells and tastes normal.
Many foodborne pathogens can be found in raw oysters, including bacteria, parasites, and life-threatening viruses. Some foodborne illnesses caused by oysters, such as listeriosis, can take up to 70 days after exposure for symptoms to develop. Norovirus, however, usually causes symptoms within 12 to 48 hours after consuming contaminated foods or beverages.
Most people infected with norovirus develop diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain. Diarrhea tends to be watery and non-bloody. Diarrhea is more common in adults and vomiting is more common in children. Regardless, symptoms can easily result in dehydration requiring intravenous fluids.
People who think they might have become ill from eating possibly contaminated oysters should talk to their healthcare providers. Contact your healthcare provider if you have diarrhea that lasts for more than three days, or is accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine.
WebMD lists foods ‘most likely’ to cause foodborne illnesses
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/05/webmd-lists-foods-most-likely-to-cause-foodborne-illnesses/#.WvEii4iFOUl
By NEWS DESK (May 1, 2018)
WebMD, the popular website for checking on symptoms and finding a medical doctor, has published a list of foods “most likely” to cause foodborne illness.
Certain foods, more than others, are linked to foodborne illnesses, according to federal public health officials. WebMD reports its “most likely” list from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are:
Chicken, beef, pork, turkey
Vegetables and fruits
Raw milk, cheese, other dairy products
Seafood and raw shellfish
WebMD says its unlikely anyone can entirely avoid foodborne illnesses, but a reduced likelihood is possible from understanding the risks and practicing safe food handling techniques.
According to CDC estimates, about 48 million, or 1 in 6 people in the United States become ill annually from foodborne diseases. WebMD says many of those illnesses are mild, “causing simple discomfort up to misery from nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps for 24 to 48 hours.”
The medical help site reiterates CDC’s data, which estimates foodborne illnesses annually cause about 128,000 people in the U.S. to be admitted. About 3,000 deaths each year are attributed to foodborne pathogens.
“Any food can be infected with more than 250 foodborne diseases. Bacteria, parasites, viruses, chemicals, and toxins can contaminate food,” WebMD warns.
WebMD’s review of foodborne illness dangers is timely because of the current national outbreak involving romaine lettuce. Its title is a question: “Can You Avoid Foodborne Illness?”
Answers to that question come from CDC and prominent food safety experts like Barbara Kowalcyk, Ph.D., assistant professor of food science and technology at Ohio State University-Columbus, and co-founder of the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention.
Kowalcyk warns that while people think of foodborne illnesses as causing sickness for short periods of time, like 24 to 48 hours, longer-term problems can result such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or reactive arthritis
Also, some populations are more susceptible to foodborne illness than others, such as pregnant women, young children, and older adults.
Anyone with a weakened immune system (such as people with diabetes, liver or kidney disease, or HIV or getting cancer treatments) are among the vulnerable.
Kowalcyk says consumers need to stay on top of outbreak and recall news and check their own homes to be sure they are not eating any recalled products at home.
Editor’s note: Kathleen Doheny wrote the WebMD report. Brunilda Nazario, MD, reviewed it on April 27.
Only 4 samples fail food safety tests during March in Hong Kong
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/05/only-4-samples-fail-food-safety-tests-during-march-in-hong-kong/#.WvEit4iFOUl
By NEWS DESK (May 1, 2018)
Hong Kong’s Center for Food Safety (CFS) Monday released the findings of its food safety report for March. The results of about 12,000 food samples tested were satisfactory except for four samples. The overall satisfaction rate was 99.9 percent.
CFS is a unit of Hong Kong’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.
A CFS spokesman said about 1,300 food samples were collected for microbiological tests, some 3,200 samples were taken for chemical tests and the remaining 7,500 (including about 7,100 taken from food imported from Japan) were collected to test radiation levels.
The microbiological tests covered pathogens and hygienic indicators, while the chemical tests included pesticides, preservatives, metallic contaminants, coloring matters, veterinary drug residues and others.
The samples comprised about 3,600 samples of vegetables and fruit and their products; 700 samples of meat and poultry and their products; 1,600 samples of aquatic and related products; 800 samples of milk, milk products and frozen confections; 800 samples of cereals, grains and their products; and 4,500 samples of other food commodities (including beverages, bakery products and snacks).
The four unsatisfactory samples comprised two vegetable samples detected with pesticide residues exceeding the legal limits; a preserved mustard sample detected with excessive cadmium; and a cut fruit sample found to contain Salmonella.
The CFS has taken follow-up action on the unsatisfactory samples, including informing the vendors about the test results, instructing them to stop selling the affected food items and tracing the sources of the food items in question.
Since the Pesticide Residues in Food Regulation (Cap 132CM) came into effect on August 1, 2014, as of March 31 this year, the CFS has taken over 139,400 food samples at the import, wholesale and retail levels for testing for pesticide residues. The overall unsatisfactory rate is less than 0.2 percent.
The spokesman added that excessive pesticide residues in food may arise from the trade not observing Good Agricultural Practice, e.g. using excessive pesticides and/or not allowing sufficient time for pesticides to decompose before harvesting. The maximum residue limits (MRLs) of pesticide residues in food set in the Regulation are not safety indicators. They are the maximum concentrations of pesticide residues to be permitted in a food commodity under Good Agricultural Practice when applying pesticides. In this connection, consumption of food with pesticide residues higher than the MRLs will not necessarily lead to any adverse health effects.
The spokesman also reminded the food trade to ensure that food for sale is fit for human consumption and meets legal requirements. Consumers should patronize reliable shops when buying food and maintain a balanced diet to minimize food risks.
With almost 7.5 million people, the former British colony of Hong Kong is today an autonomous territory of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It is a major port and global financial hub in southeastern China.
Food safety important to avoid illness
Source : http://www.wycoreport.com/news/local_news/food-safety-important-to-avoid-illness/article_980e5768-4b46-11e8-aca3-9bd7d9ffce4f.html
By Mary Catherine Brooks WYOMING COUNTY BUREAU CHIEF (Apr 30, 2018)
It is important to handle, prepare and store food using USDA-recommended guidelines, he emphasized.
Young children, older adults and those with compromised immune systems are especially at risk for food-borne illness, according to the USDA.
Food-borne pathogens – disease-causing bacteria, viruses, or parasites – may be hiding in food that appears to be perfectly fine, according to Ghering.
Food should never be tasted to determine if it is safe to eat.
The easiest way to keep food safe is to clean, separate, cook, and chill.
The “Four Basic Steps To Food Safety,” according to the USDA, include the following:
— Clean: Keep hands and surfaces clean.
Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get on to cutting boards, utensils, counter tops, and food.
To ensure that the preparer’s hands and surfaces are clean, be sure to wash hands using warm, soapy water for at least 30 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, or handling pets.
Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot, soapy water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, and seafood products and preparation of any other food that will not be cooked.
Also sanitize cutting boards and counter tops by rinsing them in a solution made of one tablespoon of unscented liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water or run the plastic board through the wash cycle in the automatic dishwasher.
Use paper towels to clean kitchen surfaces. If using cloth towels, wash them often in the hot cycle of the washing machine.
Always wash produce. Rinse fruits and vegetables, and rub firm-skin fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten.
With canned goods, always clean the lids before opening.
— Separate: Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria are spread from one food product to another. This is especially common when handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
The key is to keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.
To prevent cross-contamination, separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from other foods in the grocery shopping cart, grocery bags, and in the refrigerator.
Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs without first washing the plate with hot soapy water.
Don’t reuse marinades used on raw foods unless they are brought to a boil first.
Consider using one cutting board only for raw foods and another only for ready-to-eat foods, such as bread, fresh fruits and vegetables, and cooked meat.
— Cook: Always cook food to safe internal temperatures.
Foods are safely cooked when they are heated to the USDA-FDA recommended safe minimum internal temperatures.
Always use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of cooked foods. Check the internal temperature in several places to make sure that the meat, poultry, seafood, or egg product is cooked to safe minimum internal temperatures.
Cook ground beef to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit and ground poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The color of the food is not a reliable indicator of safety or doneness.
Reheat fully cooked hams packaged at a USDA-inspected plant to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. For fully cooked ham that has been repackaged in any other location or for leftover fully cooked ham, heat to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cook seafood to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook shrimp, lobster, and crab until they turn red and the flesh is pearly opaque. Cook clams, mussels, and oysters until the shells open. If the shells do not open, do not eat the seafood inside.
Cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm. Use only recipes in which the eggs are cooked or heated to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cook all raw beef, lamb, pork, and veal steaks, roasts, and chops to 145 degrees Fahrenheit with a three-minute rest time after removal from the heat source.
Bring sauces, soups, and gravy to a boil when reheating. Heat other leftovers to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Reheat hot dogs, luncheon meats, bologna, and other deli meats until steaming hot or 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
When cooking in a microwave oven, cover food, stir, and rotate for even cooking. If there is no turntable, rotate the dish by hand once or twice during cooking. Always allow standing time, which completes the cooking, before checking the internal temperature with a food thermometer.
— Chill: Refrigerate food promptly.
Cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Keeping a constant refrigerator temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below is one of the most effective ways to reduce risk of foodborne illness. Use an appliance thermometer to be sure the refrigerator temperature is consistently 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and the freezer temperature is 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
Always refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, and other perishables within two hours of cooking or purchasing. Refrigerate within one hour if the temperature outside is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Never thaw food at room temperature, such as on the counter top. It is safe to thaw food in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. If food is thawed in cold water or in the microwave, cook it immediately.
Divide large amounts of food into shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator.
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