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06/04 2018 ISSUE:811


Migrants key in developing European farming, food safety
Source :
By  ANSA (June 4, 2018)
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization says that migrants can be agents of development, contributing to economic growth and improving food security and rural livelihoods.
According to Maria Helena Salgado, deputy director general for climate and natural resources at the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the organization believes that "investing in agriculture and sustainable development are key responses to migration." She was speaking at an event opening in Rome, focusing on the root causes of migration to support effective policies in the future. 
The day-long event this week focused on "Improving knowledge on the causes and impact of migrations for policies and programs that look at the future."
"We are working at all levels to build policies, to boost the ability of protagonists, in particular youths and women," Salgado said.
Migrants help guarantee food safety
Migrants are increasingly being integrated in Italy's agricultural sector, as well as in other European countries like Spain, said Yoan Molinero-Gerbeau, of the National Spanish research council. "We can say that migration in the Mediterranean and the presence of foreign workers have become a structural factor of the production process and contribute in guaranteeing food safety in Europe."
Luca Maestripieri, director general of the Italian foreign ministry's directorate for cooperation, noted that, "inclusive growth is necessary in the Mediterranean and we need to invest in training to create a specialized workforce for a sustainable agriculture that respects the environment."
Maestripieri also stressed the need "to work for the integration of small producers, without forgetting that promoting the integration of women in the economy of rural areas is a key factor of social stability. We are cooperating with the private sector to attract responsible investments."
The themes on the conference's agenda included the contribution that well-managed immigration can give to economic growth, poverty reduction and food security in the Mediterranean region through the exchange of knowledge and technologies.
Apostolos Papadopoulos from the Harokopio University in Athens believes that "policies must be more proactive." He stressed the need to highlight the positive impact of immigration more than the difficulties it involves. In this respect, women have an important role, noted Leonardo Mizzi of the general directorate for international cooperation and development of the European Union. "They must be included more in programs and have a stronger voice in the decision-making process."
First agriculture forum
The event marked the first meeting of the Forum on agriculture, rural development and migration in the Mediterranean, created by the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM), FAO, the Union for the Mediterranean, under the patronage of the Italian foreign ministry.
Participants stressed the strong connection between migration and agriculture given that most migrants hail from poor rural areas with a high unemployment rate. Investing in the development of agriculture, the ability to adapt to climate change and resilience are key factors to be considered when dealing with the challenges posed by immigration in the Mediterranean, the debate highlighted. (Picture shows an Egyptian laborer carrying wheat sheaves at a field. Photo/Archive/EPA/KHALED ELFIQI).

One child dead, 13 others sick in raw cheese E. coli outbreak
Source :
By Coral Beach (June 4, 2018)
A French company this weekend expanded its recall of cheese made with unpasteurized milk after health officials reported a seventh child has developed kidney failure because of an E. coli infection linked to the cheese.
At least 14 children age 5 and younger from various regions of France are confirmed with E. coli 026 infections, according to French officials. One child has died from a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
The Fromagerie Chabert company, which manufactured the implicate cheese, recalled certain batches of its Reblochons on May 14 after the French Ministry of Solidarity and Health reported seven children aged 18 months to 3 years had E. coli 026 infections. Six of them had developed HUS at that time.
“The investigations carried out by the health authorities have confirmed an epidemiological link between these cases and the consumption of raw reblochons made from branded ‘Our regions have talent’ branded milk sold in Leclerc stores in several regions,” according to the French Ministry of Agriculture (translated electronically).
In addition to expanding the recall of Reblochons, the Chabert company is now recalling another variety of raw milk cheese, tartiflard. The cheeses concerned were manufactured on the site of Cruseilles (Haute-Savoie) but transferred to another site of the company Chabert to be cut and packed, according to statements from France’s Ministry of Agriculture.
The specific descriptions of the recalled cheeses are posted on the agriculture ministry’s website. Several retailers, including Lidl, Leclerc and Auchan stores, carried the recalled cheeses.
After the initial recall in France, Canadian officials followed with their own recall of the cheese as a precaution. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency reported the cheese might have been distributed nationwide, but complete details were not available. As of that recall, no illnesses had been confirmed in Canada. Whole Foods Market of Canada initiated its own recall of the Reblochons.
Public health agencies in both Canada and France have standing warnings about the dangers of unpasteurized, raw milk and products made with it. In the announcement of the expanded recall, French authorities reiterated that raw milk and raw milk cheeses should not be eaten by children, pregnant women and immunocompromised people.
Inspectors in France are continuing inspections at the Cruseilles site and at dairy farms that provided the unpasteurized, raw milk for the cheese. They are looking for the specific source of the E. coli O26.
Public Health France is also continuing investigations and maintaining surveillance, in connection with the Pasteur Institute, to detect possible new cases of HUS related to consumption of the recalled cheese.





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Leafy greens outbreak research on agenda at CPS symposium
Source :
By News Desk (June 4, 2018)
A diverse array of research about fresh produce and food safety are on the agenda for the annual Center for Produce Safety Symposium, ranging from protective edible films for fruit to what can be done to prevent outbreaks related to leafy greens.
The symposium is scheduled for June 19 and 20 in Charlotte Marriott City Center in North Carolina. Registration information is available on the Center for Produce Safety website.
One of the panel discussions on the agenda — Leafy greens associated illness outbreaks: lessons for the future? — is particularly timely, in light of the current investigation into chopped romaine lettuce associated with an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that has sickened almost 200 people in 35 states. Five of the people have died and 26 have developed kidney failure as a result of the infections.
“There have been a number of illness outbreaks associated with leafy greens over the last decade. Interestingly, these outbreaks have a number of similarities that may hold the key to preventing future illness outbreaks. This session will feature a compilation of data developed by CDC around these previous outbreaks,” according to the symposium agenda.
Biologist Bob Whitaker, longtime produce researcher and food safety expert, is scheduled to moderate the session. Whitaker is on the board of the Center for Produce Safety and is chief science and technology officer for the Produce Marketing Association.
The panel on the leafy greens session is scheduled to include:
•Kari Irvin of the Food and Drug Administration’s Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation Network (CORE);
•Kate Marshall of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
•Jennifer McEntire of the United Fresh Produce Association; and
•Gurmail Mudahar of the Tanimura & Antle produce company.
Another panel is scheduled to discuss what lies ahead in produce safety research. Leanna Kelly of the Markon Cooperative is on the agenda as the moderator. Panelists and their topics include:
•Trevor Suslow of the University of California-Davis — Scientifically valid corrective actions for multiple harvest shade-house production systems;
•Paula Rivadeneira of the University of Arizona — Use of raptors to prevent wild bird and rodent intrusion into fresh produce fields;
•Daniel Munther of Cleveland State University — Mathematical modeling tools for practical chlorine control in produce wash process; and
•Anita Wright of the University of Florida — Application of chitosan microparticles to eliminate foodborne pathogens in agricultural water that contacts fresh produce.
The Center for Produce Safety is a 501(c)(3), U.S. tax-exempt, charitable organization focused exclusively on providing the produce industry and government with open access to the actionable information needed to continually enhance the safety of produce.
Board members and advisors for the center include leaders from industry, government and the academic communities to identify the most pressing research needs, fund the most promising investigations and advance real-world solutions.
Government and industry launched the center seven years ago as a public-private partnership. It is now international in scope with projects in five countries. Since its founding, the center has awarded $16.4 million to fund 100 one- to two-year research projects at 30 universities and organizations.

Food safety warnings are making eating more dangerous
Source :
By (May 30, 2018)
California judges recently ruled that coffee must henceforth come with health warnings. This is definitely a landmark – but not quite in the way its proponents imagine. Rather, it underlines how food safety issues are at heart political.
Yes, coffee contains a chemical – acrylamide – which has been associated with cancer in rats. But you have to look pretty hard to find a food which doesn’t have some associated risk. Meanwhile, the EU database of “dangerous” chemicals looks more like an A-Z of everything food-wise rather than a few bad guys you might conceivably start to avoid.
Take bromate, which many baked goods contain. It is a notorious carcinogen that comes in several flavours, as it were, such as calcium, potassium, and sodium. Speaking of sodium, everyone knows that too much salt causes heart disease - but did you know that too little also increases the risk of death from heart attacks and strokes?
But let’s start with “A” and acrylamide, which can be found not merely in coffee but in fried potatoes and baked goods like crackers, bread and cookies, breakfast cereal, canned black olives and prune juice. The last of these I’d be prepared to give a miss, but otherwise for me, acrylamide is where the precautionary principle (that says chemicals are “guilty” until proved safe) becomes untenable. This is because the risks are tiny and the costs seem too high.
Nonetheless, in 2008, Heinz, Frito-Lay and others all settled lawsuits over the chemical with the California attorney general, promising to reduce the levels of acrylamide in their products. For the last decade, fast food restaurants in California have been obliged to post acrylamide warnings and pay penalties for not having done so.
The streetlight effect
For me, this story illustrates a wider problem about not only food science but the scientific method in general. This is that “facts” are not quite as objective as we dearly love to believe and science is not quite so, well, scientific. This issue boils down to issues with experimental method and the purchasing by governments, lobbyists or corporations of the research results they desire.
Take that first aspect: experimental method. Most toxicity studies rely on the results obtained by giving vastly higher doses of a chemical to mice. With acrylamide, the studies showing potential cancer links in rats and mice used doses “1,000 to 100,000 times higher than the usual amounts, on a weight basis, that humans are exposed to,” one research review noted. Even water is toxic in great excess. What is dangerous at vastly higher doses may not be harmful in moderation.
Then there’s also the fact that the response of mice offers no definite information about the response of human beings. Indeed, even the response of a study group of humans will not reveal definitively how all humans may react (I can eat peanuts all day). Yet it’s difficult to test chemicals on people, so mice are made to serve instead. This is what social scientists call the “streetlight effect” – the coin was dropped in another street but it’s dark there so we’re looking for it in this lit one instead.
And there’s another reason why some questions get asked and some get quietly shelved: corporate lobbying. Take the currently hot issue of biphnol A (BPA), which most of us unwittingly get regular doses of via tinned foods. It’s been linked to diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and is considered an endocrine and hormone disruptor.
BPA has been the subject of much debate. For example, when the European Food Safety Authority concluded in 2015 that it was far less risky than some advocacy groups had suggested, they were accused of being in the pockets of the lobbyists. Maybe they listened because, not long after declaring it safe, they proposed classifying it as a reprotoxin; a substance presumed to have adverse effects on sexual function and fertility in men and women, as well as problems in children. This finding could pave the way for the chemical to be phased out in consumer products. This might sound like a good thing, but the alternatives aren’t necessarily safer.
On the contrary, the case illustrates a risk averse culture that leads to mismatches between “real hazards” and sensible policy.
Paying the piper
In this way, foods with trivial health risks (like unpasteurised dairy products) are hounded out of the market while others like red meat or high fructose corn syrup, which are far more dangerous, with risks of cancer or heart disease, remain immune. And there is little effort or interest to address foods like soya and rapeseed which are intimately part of the current system of billion dollar industrialised food production. Instead, the staples of small and medium scale producers, fish, olive oil, cereals, and anything unpasterurised, has been the subject of research that insists they must be avoided.
There is little method in this food safety madness, unless it’s that of the increasingly important role of lobbyists. These are smart people. They know that science must be obeyed. But on which point, when and for how long? The food industry has learned to co-opt scientific pronouncements for its own purposes, to power a Galbraithian manipulation of the mass market. We perceive the safety agencies as a brake on the food industry, but in reality they have become one of their tools – as the “revolving door” of senior appointments maybe indicates.
New discoveries about food risks are seamlessly incorporated into marketing strategies – “high in trans fats”, “low in salt”, “gluten free”. It really doesn’t matter what the exact finding is any more, as long as the end result is increased profits. Even at the cost of declining public health.

FDA Should Make Leafy Greens Safety a Priority, Say Consumer and Food Safety Advocacy Groups
Source :
By Staff (May 30, 2018)
FDA Should Make Leafy Greens Safety a Priority, Say Consumer and Food Safety Advocacy Groups
A number of consumer and food safety groups penned a 6-page letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking that the agency do more to help industry keep leafy greens safe.
The letter, addressed to Scott Gottlieb, FDA Commissioner, requests the agency to initiate “requirements for comprehensive and rapid traceability of produce, including leafy greens” within 6 months. The groups are asking FDA to “implement the long overdue directive laid out by Congress in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requiring the agency to issue a proposed rule establishing recordkeeping requirements for high-risk foods.” The groups believe that these actions will lead to faster traceability in outbreak investigations and quicker recall announcements. Finally, the groups are requesting immediate access to current best practices and existing requirements related to enhancing traceability for leafy greens.
The letter is signed by the following consumer and food safety groups:
•The Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention
•Center for Science in the Public Interest
•Consumer Federation of America
•Consumers Union
•Food & Water Watch
•National Consumers League
•The Pew Charitable Trusts
•STOP Foodborne Illness
•Trust for America’s Health
Some parts of the letter make no qualms about putting FDA on the spot regarding the agency’s ability—or lack thereof—to simply trace a food back to its origin:
“Current technology makes it possible for retailers to track and trace products with extraordinary speed and accuracy. Retailers using advanced technology, such as blockchain, now report they can identify the origin of certain produce shipments in as little as 2.2 seconds. Given these advances, it is no longer acceptable that the FDA has no means to swiftly determine where a bag of lettuce was grown or packaged.”
In the letter, the groups cite the recent E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to romaine lettuce as the impetus for their requests. Nearly 2 months after it was publicly announced, the outbreak is still under investigation and a farm source has yet to be identified. According to FDA’s last update dated May 16, 172 have been reported sick in 32 states in connection to the contaminated romaine lettuce. Seventy-five people have been hospitalized and one person has died.
See the letter submitted to FDA in its entirety on

USDA Offers Tips for Safe Grilling This Summer
Source :
By Linda Larsen (May 29, 2018)
The USDA is offering tips for safe grilling this summer. With Memorial Day over, the summer grilling season has begun. Foodborne illness tends to rise during the summer months, because temperatures are warmer, and people tend to travel with food.
Properly handling perishable foods during travel, by making sure all food is kept at a safe temperature, avoiding cross-contamination between raw meats and poultry and foods that are eaten uncooked, and using a food thermometer when grilling can all help prevent food poisoning.
If you are traveling to a location where you will grill, perishable foods must be handled in a special way. Bacteria grow quickly in warm weather. Perishable foods must be kept at 40°F or below to reduce bacterial growth. Any perishable food, cooked or not, that is over 40°F for more than two hours hold not be eaten. In hot weather, when temperatures are over 90°F, that time shrinks to one hour.
Use an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen cold packs to store all perishable food. And remember that the cooler can’t cool food down to a safe temperature; it only keeps food cold.
Pack beverages in one cooler and the food in another. That way the food will stay safe, because coolers that hold beverages are opened far more often, which causes the temperature inside to fluctuate.
Cross-contamination has caused many foodborne illness outbreaks. Stop meat juices from touching other items in the cooler by placing raw meats in waterproof containers.
Make sure you have these tools and utensils with you for safe grilling: a food thermometer, paper towels or moist towelettes, two sets of cooking utensils, and plates for cooked items. Use the first set of utensils to handle raw foods, and the second for cooked foods. Same for plates: use one set for raw foods, and the other for cooked. Never put cooked foods on the same plates that held raw meat or poultry.
Safe grilling means you know the safe final internal temperatures for cooked meats and poultry. Beef, pork, lamb, and veal steaks, roasts, and chops should be cooked to 145°F with a three minute rest time. Ground meats should be cooked to 160°F. And whole poultry, poultry breasts, and ground poultry should be cooked to 165°F.
When 9you’re done cooking, discard leftovers. If you want to save them, they need to be refrigerated within two hours of cooking. And eat leftovers within three to four days.

Rep. DeLauro Sends Letter to USDA Expressing Concern Over Chinese Chicken
Source :
By News Desk (May 29, 2018)
Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) has written a letter to Sonny Perdue, the Secretary of the USDA, expressing concern over reports suggesting that the government is planning to let China export its own poultry products to the United States. Food safety and consumer advocates have long opposed such a move to import Chinese chicken, citing serious food safety concerns about food from that country and many deadly outbreaks that have occurred there.
According to the letter, Chinas General Administration of Customs Under Secretary met with a Chinese deputy director to discuss agricultural trade. DeLauro states, “given China’s longstanding and well documented food safety problems, it is appalling to me that officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service were not included in this most recent meeting.”
Scandals in the Chinese food system are legendary. A recent report by China’s own FDA revealed that the agency found more than 500,000 incidents of illegal behavior and food safety violations in the first three quarters of 2016. In addition, that agency’s top officials described the Chinese food system as having “deep-seated” problems.
Some of the food scandals in China include many deaths from tainted baby formula, produce contaminated with pesticides, and the use of steroids in pork production. Food & Water Watch issued a report last year stating that Chinese chicken imports were endangering public health.
One of the issues with importing chicken from China into the country is that the meat will not be labeled with the country of origin. So consumers won’t even have the choice of refusing to purchase and eat chicken imported from that country.
Representative DeLauro’s letter also states that Chinese food is compromised by regulatory deficiencies in that country. Heavy metals such as lead and cadmium accumulate in chicken tissue. China’s coal mining industry puts those toxins into the soil. And antibiotic misuse is rampant in China. Chinese researchers found multiple, antibiotic-resistant genes carried in the country’s commercial chicken flock.
The letter ends by stating, “The safety of our nation’s food supply should not be compromised by politicized, quid-pro-quo trade negotiations. Allowing China to export Chinese-raised poultry poses serious risks to public health and consumer safety.”

Hurricane Survival Guide: Food safety tips
Source :
By (May 29, 2018)
USDA's advise: 'When in doubt, throw it out'
Meat, poultry, fish and eggs should be refrigerated at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and frozen food should be kept at or below zero degrees.  
When the power goes out, the refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about four hours if unopened, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Services. A full freezer will maintain the temperature for about 48 hours and about 24 hours if half full --- if the door is not opened.
If you think power will be out for an extended period of time, buy dry or block ice to keep the fridge or freezer cold. Freeze containers of water and gel packs to help keep food cold if the power goes out. Freeze items you don't need immediately. 
USDA experts advise that as soon as the power returns residents need to check the temperature inside of the refrigerator and freezer. Put thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer. If they are still at safe temperatures, your food should be fine. Never taste food to determine its safety. 
Store nonperishable foods on higher shelves to avoid flood water. Do not eat any food that may have touched flood water and sanitize pots and pans, dishes and utensils with 1 table spoon of bleach for every gallon of water. Discard food that is not in waterproof containers or in damaged cans.
The FoodKeeper app has storage times listed, it is free and it's available for Android and Apple devices.



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