FoodHACCP Newsletter

Food Safety Job Openings

06/22. Food Safety Specialist - Brandon, FL
06/22. Food Safety Specialist - Columbus, OH
06/22. Quality Assurance Technician - Sparks, NV
06/20. Quality Assurance Technician - San Leandro, CA
06/20. Food Safety Specialist - Silver Spring, MD
06/20. Dir, Food Safety Tech Center - Caldwell, ID
06/18. Food Safety Director - Wheeling, WV
06/18. QA Director - Redmond, WA
06/18. Food Safety Documentation Spec - Louisville, KY


06/25 2018 ISSUE:814


Digital records bring greater food safety, management benefits
Source :
BY LAURA MUSHRUSH (June 25, 2018)
Editor’s note: This is the second installment of a four-part series on how companies can use electronic record keeping to enhance food safety efforts. The series is sponsored by PAR Technologies. 
“Today’s food supply chains have an inherent weakness: individual parties are using disparate digital systems, different technologies, and paper-based processes to bridge the gaps,” says Premal Bhatt, QA and Food Safety SME. For the last 15 years, Bhatt has worked to establish global food safety and quality standards.
The food industry’s tendency to operate in silos instead of a “single end-to-end view of the food delivery prevail” has created costly delays in handling food safety issues, explains Bhatt. However, there is a promising remedy made available with digital record keeping: Blockchain. 
“Blockchain is a digital computer networking technology that creates a complete, immutable record of transactions that have been made, and shares it in real time among all participants in a network,” he says. “It provides impressive advantages such as transparency, immutability, traceability, better management of product shelf-life, and rapid determination of the cause of a foodborne illness outbreak or food fraud.”
Th recent foodborne illness outbreak caused by romaine lettuce being contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7 greatly magnified traceability issues within the current fragmented food safety record keeping systems, says Bhatt.
In a piece by Steve Suppan, senior policy analyst at the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy, he explained the experiment conducted by Walmart and IBM to trace a package of sliced mangoes to their source. While Walmart’s traditional trackback time took almost seven days (six days, 18 hours and 26 minutes), the digital program was able to whittle it down to 2.2 seconds.
“The Blockchain-connected sensors can locate and communicate the source of contaminated produce far more quickly than traditional traceback communication, and well within the 21 days of the harvest to wholesale processing to retail to consumption cycle,” explains Suppan. “Reducing the time for identification of the source of food borne illness will not only protect more consumers, but increase the brand value and reduce the reputation risk that comes with being identified after the fact of contamination as a site of foodborne illness.”
Real-time data has multiple benefits
Along with improved traceability, digital records bring various business advantages. Greg Sommerville, founder of Global Supplier Verification, says real-time data that is assessable anytime, anywhere is one of the biggest benefits.
“Technology is going mobile so records and production can be monitored remotely. Employees can log in from anywhere and see what is happening at that time. Storing items in the cloud with a strong security brief is key in ensuring everyone the companies that wants to have access does,” says Sommerville. “Cloud storage allows a digitally connected supply chain where partners within the supply chain have access to relevant records for themselves, verifying practices and ensuring requirements are met.”
According to Sommerville, digital technology is also beneficial in keeping in compliance with food safety plans through automated sampling to ensure correct samples are taken off the line at the right time and right amount.
“Sensors in equipment are being used as early warning indicators for machinery or to keep critical limits in place,” he explains. “The sensors can record on a continual basis with notifications to responsible persons if the system starts to fail.”

How well do you know your barbecue food safety facts?
Source :
By Brianna Steinhilber (June 23, 2018)
How healthy is your summer barbecue? Put your knowledge to the test with these common nutrition and food safety dilemmas.
It’s officially summer. Which means it’s also officially time to throw open the doors, fire up the grill and take your dining outdoors.
But from the condiment table to the cooler, there are diet landmines everywhere you turn. And that’s just scratching the surface of the dangers that lurk at your outdoor barbecue. Food safety is a huge concern as the temperatures heat up and people take their cooking and eating out of the kitchen and into the backyard. When it comes to safely handling food and preventing food-borne illness this season, how do you stack up?
NBC News health and nutrition editor Madelyn Fernstrom puts your summer barbecue knowledge to the test with these common nutrition and food safety dilemmas. Quiz yourself now to stay safe later!

Kellogg Salmonella Lawyer Explains Outbreak Will Most Likely Grow
Source :
By News Desk (June 22, 2018)
Kellogg Salmonella lawyer explains why this multistate outbreak linked to Honey Smacks cereal, which has already sickened 73 people in 31 states, will most likely grow. “The cereal was recalled on June 14, 2018, but unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that consumers should not “eat Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal of any size package or with any ‘best if used by’ date,” said Fred Pritzker, a food safety attorney who is representing clients sickened in this outbreak.
Consumers should discard any size of this product they may have on hand, even if some of it was eaten and no one has been sick. “Salmonella bacteria can cluster in tiny, tiny clumps and may not be distributed evenly throughout the cereal,” Fred added.
“In addition, the recall announcement was made on June 14, 2018, while the latest illness occurred on May 28, 2018,” he said. “That is a window of more than two weeks when consumers were most likely eating this cereal before anyone knew about this problem. Many, many boxes of this cereal were consumed in that time frame. We don’t know when this problem began or how much of the cereal may have been contaminated.
It takes two to four weeks before public health officials are told about someone sickened with Salmonella food poisoning. The person feels sick, sees their doctor, is tested, the test results come back, and the government is informed. Then the isolates are tested and the bacteria is “fingerprinted” to determine whether that patient is part of a larger outbreak.
Symptoms of salmonellosis include nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, stomach cramps, a fever, and diarrhea that may be bloody. Anyone who has eaten Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal and is sick with these symptoms should see a doctor,” Fred said. “This is a serious infection and can have long lasting health consequences.” 







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Trump wants a single federal food safety agency put under USDA
Source :
BY DAN FLYNN (June 22, 2018)
President Donald J. Trump wants to consolidate federal food safety under a single agency housed in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
President Barack Obama also wanted to consolidate food safety, only he preferred housing it in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Food and Drug Administration.
Obama failed because Congress would not extend him the power to reorganize government. Trump is picking up where Obama left off on that one, seeking executive reorganization authority under his “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century” project.
Food safety is but one of many federal government functions that Trump wants to reorganize. His reorganization project’s report says federal food safety efforts are currently marked by “inconsistent oversight, infective coordination and inefficient use of resources.”
The Government Accountablity Office (GAO) of Congress has also issued numerous reports, going back years, all calling for a single federal food safety agency and listing numerous criticisms of the existing system.
The FDA along with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) are the two top federal food safety agencies now. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assists with foodborne outbreak investigations, but does not have responsibility for food safety rules or enforcement of them.
“There are many examples of how illogical our fragmented and sometimes duplicative food safety system can be,” says the Trump Administration report issued Thursday.
“For example: while FSIS has regulatory responsibility for the safety of liquid eggs, FDA has regulatory responsibility for the safety of eggs while they are inside their shells; FDA regulates cheese pizza; but if there is pepperoni on top, it falls under the jurisdiction of FSIS; FDA regulates closed-faced meat sandwiches, while FSIS regulates open-faced meat sandwiches.”
Trump’s executive budget office says consolidation is the answer.
“To address this fragmented and illogical division of federal oversight, FSIS and the food safety functions of FDA would be consolidated into a single agency within USDA called the Federal Food Safety Agency,” according to Trump’s Office of Executive Management and Budget (OMB).
The new USDA food safety unit would pick up about 14,200 employees with the annual budget authority of about $2.3 billion by combining existing FSIS and FDA food safety workforces and budgets. Currently, FSIS employes about 9,200 with a $1 billion budget. The FDA’s food safety work involves about 5,000 employees and budgets totaling about $1.3 billion.
Others who’ve called for a single food safety agency, according to the report, include the National Research Council and National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The outside groups have “recommended that the core federal food safety responsibilities should reside in a single entity or agency, with a unified administrative structure, clean mandate, a dedicated budget, and full responsibility for the oversight of the entire U.S. food supply.”
The most frequently offered congressional  solutions to the single agency question aren’t mentioned in the report. Bills offered by U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-CT, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, over the years have sought a single, independent food safety agency.
The single, independent food safety agency is the model that is usually favored by groups representing consumers and victims of foodborne illness. They believe an independent agency would have the highest visibility and focus to gain public support and resources.
Obama set out six years ago, after Democrats lost control of Congress to the Republicans, to ask for the authority to reorganize government. Down through history, executive reorganization on occasion has been a bipartisan issue. Presidents Hoover, Eisenhower, and Carter are among those who’ve reorganized the executive branch. So too did George W. Bush who consolidated multiple protective units into Homeland Security after 9/11.
Obama’s plan was to first merge six business agencies and then follow up by building a single food safety agency at FDA. From Herbert Hoover through Ronald Reagan, presidents had the power to reorganize the federal government, subject only to a veto by Congress.
But Congress killed that process during the Reagan Administration and instead put itself at the center of reorganization proposals for the past 30 years. Obama was not able to get Congress to return to the congressional veto system.
Some observers say the reason reorganizations die in Congress is that any changes by  the executive branch of government also change legislative branch committee lineups.
Take, for example, the $70 billion food stamp program now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It’s a USDA program now and falls under the House and Senate agriculture committees. Trump wants to move it out of USDA and house it with other public assistance programs. That would mean less power and influence for ag committee members.
“USDA is well poised to house the Federal Food Safety Agency,” Trump’s new proposal says. “USDA is a strong leader in food safety; has a thorough understanding of food safety risks and issues all along the farm to fork continuum, and many agencies with USDA focus on food safety.”
The report notes that USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) spends $112 million “on in-house food safety research, and ARS scientists work with both FSIS and FDA to help develop research priorities and food safety practices.”
Other USDA food safety programs involve managing wildlife on farms, monitoring animal health, collecting pesticide residue data on fruits and vegetables and working with the states.
If the Trump reorganization went through, FDA would be renamed the “Federal Drug Administration” and continue with its focus on drugs, medical devices, biologics, tobacco, dietary supplements, and cosmetics.

What Do You Need to Know About Salmonella Bacteria?
Source :
By Linda Larsen (June 21, 2018)
There are currently two Salmonella outbreaks in the United States making people very sick. The first is a Salmonella Adelaide outbreak that is linked to precut melons. The second is a Salmonella Mbandaka outbreak that is linked to Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal. So what do you need to know about Salmonella bacteria?
First, this pathogenic bacteria is everywhere. Salmonella is found in animal guts, in people, and in the environment. Salmonella outbreaks have been linked to chickens, eggs, pistachios, raw tuna, sprouts, nut butter, pork, and cucumbers. About 1,000,000 people are sickened with Salmonella infections every year in the U.S.
Contaminated foods do not look, smell, or taste different, and there is no change in the texture of the product. Any food can be contaminated with this pathogenic bacteria.
This type of food poisoning is more common in the summer. Unrefrigerated foods warm up more quickly in the summer months, which spurs the growth of this pathogen. And people take food such as chicken on picnics, where the product can be subject to temperature abuse.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that may be bloody. While these symptoms are severe, most people do not see a doctor; that means that this illness is very underreported. Epidemiologists use a number called a “multiplier” to estimate the number sickened in a Salmonella outbreak: that number is 38. That means that 38 times more people are sick in a typical Salmonella outbreak than are reported.
To avoid a Salmonella infection, follow a few rules. First, never eat raw or undercooked eggs. Chickens can carry Salmonella bacteria in their ovaries. That means the bacteria is deposited directly into the eggs. Salmonella is destroyed by heat: all eggs and dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160°F.
Second, be careful when handling raw chicken. Cross-contamination can easily occur in a kitchen when juices from the raw bird drip onto surfaces, utensils, the kitchen sink, and plates and serving pieces. Never put cooked chicken on a plate that held the raw chicken. And thoroughly clean your kitchen after working with raw poultry.

Waters Technologies for food safety, food authenticity and biomedical research at ASMS 2018
Source :
By Waters (June 21, 2018)
Creating access to the power and potential of mass spectrometry for more laboratories…
Waters is giving scientists attending ASMS 2018 a first look at new mass spectrometry technologies developed to serve the multi-faceted analytical requirements of food testing, university and biomedical research laboratories. The new products include a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry (GC-MS/MS) system for food safety analyses and a direct-analysis mass spectrometry system for rapid molecular fingerprinting of food commodities, ingredients and processed products.
Food Safety Analysis – Waters® Xevo™ TQ-GC System
At ASMS Waters will preview its new Xevo TQ-GC mass spectrometer, GC-MS/MS system for food safety and quality laboratories. The system, to be officially launched later in the year, allows laboratories to consistently meet and exceed limits of detection when quantifying pesticides residues and other contaminants in food using GC-MS/MS methods set forth by worldwide regulatory agencies/authorities. Hundreds of pesticides are in use throughout the world, and with other emerging contaminants regularly coming to the attention of regulatory authorities, laboratories need to be able to accurately detect and quantify pesticides in a variety of food types and GC-MS/MS, along with liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), is the preferred technique of choice for the majority of them.
Food Authenticity and Adulteration – DART QDa with LiveID System
The product of a collaboration between Waters and IonSense™, Inc. (Saugus, Mass.) the Waters™ DART™ QDa™ with LiveID™ System is a direct analysis system for rapid molecular fingerprinting of food commodities, ingredients and processed products. It allows scientists to answer questions such as: Is the sample I’m testing authentic? Has the composition of it changed? Is sample quality good or bad? Featuring the LiveID software platform, the instrument performs real-time sample recognition and verifies sample authenticity or adulteration in seconds.
Direct Analysis in Real Time (DART) is a direct and rapid analysis technique for various sample types with minimal sample preparation and no requirement for a chromatographic separation. The Waters LiveID software trains and validates multivariate statistical models using the chemical profile obtained from the DART QDa analysis. The LiveID models can be used to identify unknown samples, generating easy-to-interpret results in near real time and a simple yes/no answer in seconds.
Educating Tomorrow’s Science Leaders – ACQUITY QDa Practical MS Education Package
The ACQUITY™ QDa Practical MS Education Package, developed jointly with the National Mass Spectrometry Facility at Swansea University in the UK, was created to give university chemistry departments an affordable means to enable undergraduates to access mass spectrometry equipment during their degree schemes and educate them in the fundamentals of mass spectrometry.
Today’s undergraduates can be at a disadvantage since many mass spectrometers at universities are housed in core or specialised facilities, and typically only available to principal investigators (PIs) and their extended teams for use with specific research projects. Rarely are undergraduate students given direct access to the instruments; yet hands-on experience with mass spectrometry and knowledge of the related fundamentals is a valuable asset to college graduates entering today’s workforce.
The Practical MS Education Package comes with everything needed to introduce undergraduates to mass spectrometry including experiments, student and instructor handbooks, instrumentation, software, chemistry standards and multimedia content to enrich the teaching of mass spectrometry fundamentals in the college classroom.
“The education package was developed, in partnership with Waters, to give students an opportunity to have hands-on experience with mass spectrometry and to learn to how to interpret spectra as part of an analytical practical,” said Rhodri Owen, Experimental Officer, NMSF Centre, Swansea University. “Being compact and quick to set up, the ACQUITY QDa is ideal to move between labs and even off campus for outreach events, and in 2017 we were able to give over 9,000 people a chance to see it in action screening common household goods at the Swansea Science Festival.”Driving Biomedical Research
In other news, Waters and Elucidata Corporation (Cambridge, Mass. and New Delhi, India) have entered into a co-marketing agreement that combines the Waters Symphony Data Pipeline™ Software with Elucidata’s Polly™ Workflows and cloud applications to enable efficient automated processing and interpretation of metabolic flux analysis studies from Waters mass spectrometry data. Metabolomics flux studies measure the production and consumption rates of metabolites in a biological system.
Waters and Biognosys AG (Schlieren, Switzerland) have expanded their marketing agreement to include Biognosys® Spectronaut Pulsar® X software and the PQ500 Reference peptide kit for the Waters Xevo G2-XS QTOF quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometer running SONAR™ Software, a novel Data Independent Acquisition (DIA) technology. The combined platform quantitates reproducibly a large number of proteins (<500) in 15 minutes with single digit CVs. The platform is well-suited for enabling biomedical research laboratories to rapidly characterise and quantitate the protein profile of large sets of samples in a systematic and standardised way for clinical proteomics research.
Also at ASMS, Waters announced the release of the Targeted Omics Library, including the new MetaboQuan-R™ Method Packages. The Library is a growing repository of downloadable Packages for rapidly expanding the number of analytes a lab can measure while reducing method development time. Each Method Package includes a Quanpedia™ file containing all chromatographic and mass spectrometric settings for “load and go” use on the Waters ACQUITY UPLC™ IClass Plus System and Xevo TQ-S micro triple quadrupole mass spectrometer and comes with an application note for the associated method.
The latest version of Progenesis™ QI software for proteomics, which creates and queries spectral libraries, is now capable of handling data dependent analysis (DDA) data, supporting identifications from all the DDA search engines supported by Progenesis QI for proteomics. It also incorporates a mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry (MS/MS) spectral clean-up tool for cleaner library matching. Progenesis QI for proteomics is an excellent tool for performing host cell protein analysis, where the majority of analytes can be found across multiple experiments. Additionally there is an improved workflow for Waters MS(E) data with automatic peak detection thresholding to maximise the number and quality of identifications, while improving software performance.
Waters Announces Winner of This Year’s ASMS Research Award
This year’s recipient of an ASMS Research Award sponsored by Waters is Dr. James Prell, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Oregon. The Prell laboratory uses state-of-the-art mass spectrometry and ion mobility techniques to investigate the physical and chemical properties that govern the organisation of macromolecular assemblies at the nanoscale, including those found in biological membranes.
Waters scientists are giving a total of 12 oral and 76 poster presentations at ASMS 2018. A complete list of them, including poster #MP 034 titled Real-Time Authentication of Food and Beverages Using DART QDa LiveID Analysis, is available here.

New food safety rules condemn millions of Canadian animals to suffer, say advocates
Source :
By Elizabeth McSheffrey in News (June 21, 2018)
Animal welfare advocates are chastising the federal government for publishing new food safety regulations that fall short of their demands for the care and wellbeing of animals bound for slaughter.
Last week, the federal health and agriculture departments announced new Safe Food for Canadians Regulations on behalf of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) — an unprecedented consolidation of various food production laws for meat and fish inspection, agricultural products, and consumer packaging and labelling, that come into force on Jan. 15, 2019.
While the rules make headway in reducing the health and safety risks for food that ends up on Canadian shelves, Mercy For Animals, an international animal welfare advocacy group, said the changes don't go far enough to protect the 750 million animals killed for food each year in Canada.
"These new regulations don’t go anywhere near what we asked as far as protecting animals from painful and unnecessary processes," said Courtney Dobbin, the organization's special projects manager for Canada. "The Canadian government knew slaughter regulations will condemn millions of Canadian animals to continue to be shocked, shackled and scalded alive.”
Activist recommendations left aside
While the new regulations were under public consultation, Mercy For Animals sent the CFIA an online petition signed by nearly 23,000 supporters, requesting that it replace live-shackle slaughter methods for poultry with a less cruel, controlled atmosphere gassing system; ban the use of electric prods and whips, install cameras in slaughter houses to deter animal abuse; mandate that the production line be stopped if animals are mishandled or still conscious before slaughter; and issue decisive fines and penalties for rule-breakers.
None of these recommendations were enshrined in the new regulations, although the CFIA said it undertook "extensive public consultations" with animal welfare groups that did result in some tangible changes. It has, for example, added new restrictions to the use of electric prods on pigs and cows, increased the clarification on a license holder's legal obligations for the care of sick and injured food animals, and increased employee skill requirements.
"The new Safe Food for Canadians Regulations are designed to hold the licence holder to high standards of animal welfare by more clearly placing responsibility on them for the care and handling of all animals, including those held in crates prior to slaughter, under all situations and conditions in the slaughter establishment," wrote CFIA media relations manager Natasha Gauthier in an emailed statement.
"At the same time, these regulations are intended to allow greater flexibility in meeting these high standards, for example by permitting the licence holder to introduce more technical innovations. These expected outcomes for humane treatment must be clearly demonstrated at all times to the satisfaction of CFIA.”
Margin for error too large: Animal Justice
According to Animal Justice, an Ottawa-based animal law charity, many of the regulations look good on paper, but in practice, are difficult to enforce. They rely too heavily on the discretion of food producers, it argues, thanks to the use of broad language such as "sufficient ventilation" and "sufficient space" for movement in the prevention of animal suffering.
"What’s sufficient space? I don’t know," said Anna Pippus, director of farmed animal advocacy for Animal Justice, in an interview with National Observer. "It would be very easy to give a number-based standard for each species, to say, 'This is what counts for overcrowding' — you know, pounds per square footage type of thing... when terms are vague like that, they just can’t be enforced."
According to the new regulations, license holders must not cause "avoidable suffering, injury or death" to animals under their care, or subject them to any conditions that could result in such suffering, injury or death. The word 'avoidable,' Pippus alleged, is another example of deliberate ambiguity that creates wiggle room for producer error.
"It’s built into the system as a margin of error that’s accepted by law enforcement and considered normal by industry. They don’t get it right all the time and they know it," she said, referring to a handful of graphic hidden camera investigations appearing to show abuse at the hands of Canadian producers. "So we like to see really clear standards for everything.”
While Animal Justice joined Mercy For Animals in calling for an outright ban on electrical prods, Pippus offered some support for the CFIA’s new restrictions on them: the agency now specifies that the rods must only be used for the purpose of forcing an animal to move, provided it has sufficient space to move, there is no reasonable alternative, it is applied to the rear leg muscles, and it does not cause avoidable suffering, injury or death.
All of the regulations should be clarified with such detail, said Pippus, especially when it comes to the prevention of animal suffering.
CFIA recognizes suffering is inherent
In response to criticisms from animal welfare advocates, the CFIA said it has reasons for laying the legislation out the way it does. The term “avoidable suffering,” for example, is used because the concept “recognizes that there is an inherent degree of potential distress to the animal during “the slaughter process and that some activities are unavoidable.”
The agency does not mandate the use of cameras, it added, because “they do not replace close-up visual observations of the animals from different angles on the slaughter line,” and monitoring activities for animals often involve hands-on physical techniques
The CFIA said its rules are based on “best practices,” but Mercy For Animals pointed out that cameras in slaughterhouses were recently mandated throughout the United Kingdom.
"We only asked for them to match that," said Dobbin. "Again, something that is doable, they just refused."
Other improvements to animal welfare cited by the CFIA in emailed comments include each the implementation of ‘Preventative Control Plans’ that effectively mitigate animal welfare risks at license holder establishments, and have been pre-approved by the agency. Gauthier said license holders are responsible for following the regulations and preventing violations, and the CFIA has a "full-time presence" during all slaughter activities both inside the slaughter house and on the premises.
Consequences for non-compliance, she explained, may range from administrative monetary penalties, to written warnings, seizures, detentions, suspensions, production stop orders, prosecution or license cancellation.
“If any instances of non-compliance are found, the CFIA does not hesitate to take enforcement action,” Gauthier wrote. Addressing Mercy For Animals' concern about stopping the production lines in the event that an animal is still conscious before slaughter, she added that CFIA inspectors have the authority to intervene under such circumstances.
Pippus of Animal Justice remains skeptical — again, citing hidden-camera footage shot inside Canadian facilities, that appear to show harsh treatment of animals when no inspectors are present.
"The problem is there are not enough inspectors, they’re not always on site," she said. "Sometimes they rely on self-reporting, and unsurprisingly, we’ve uncovered enormous problems with the self-reporting system.
"Bear in mind that the CFIA is food safety-based... Often when they’re on site, they’re not on the kill floor watching for humane treatment, they’re much more interested in food safety issues, so you’ll often find them in the ante-mortem inspection or other areas of the facility where they’re doing things that they perceive as being more important."

Appellate mandate ends biggest food safety criminal case in history
Source :
By DAN FLYNN (June 21, 2018)
It’s over.
After 1,952 days in federal trial and appellate courts, the case of the United States versus Stewart and Michael Parnell et al is no longer active.
It became history Wednesday when David J. Smith, Clerk of Court for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, entered as the mandate or final word of the appellate court the 21-page ruling a three-judge panel issued last Jan. 23.
And if that were not final enough, Smith also returned seven boxes of exhibits to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.
Those actions end the criminal prosecution of brothers Stewart and Michael Parnell and their associate Mary Wilkerson, which began in the District Court five years, four months and six days ago on Feb. 15, 2013.
On that date, after a four-year federal investigation, federal prosecutors brought a 76-count felony indictment against five former executives and associates of the now-defunct Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). The peanut processing company was blamed for the 2008-09 multi-state Salmonella outbreak that sickened thousands and resulted in at least nine deaths.
Charges involved business practices, including fraud and conspiracy, wire fraud and obstruction of justice, along with allowing misbranded and adulterated food to reach the market. No charges were brought directly involving illnesses or deaths.
A jury trial convicted the Parnells and Wilkerson. Two other PCA testified for the government at trial in exchange for reduced sentences.
As reported on June 13, the Eleventh Circuit denied a petition for rehearing either by another three-judge panel or, En Banc, by the entire court. That set up Wednesday’s action to enter the January opinion as the “mandate” so the Eleventh Circuit could be done with it.
No more severe convictions or sentences have ever been handed down for food safety-related crimes. Stewart Parnell, 64, has 22 years left to serve on his sentence. He was PCA’s chief executive. His peanut broker brother, Michael Parnell, 59, has 15 more years to serve.
Wilkerson has two years left on a 5-year sentence for her conviction for obstruction of justice.

Chennai: Food safety raids hurt mango sales
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By Madhumitha Viswanath (June 21, 2018)
CHENNAI: The sale of mangoes has sharply declined this summer. Traders attribute the dip to tough action taken by food safety officials on shopkeepers, who ripen mangoes using harmful chemicals.
Sudden inspections and seizures of mangoes by State Food Safety Department officials have prevented many small vendors from selling mangoes, or in some cases, closing down the shops. “Compared with last two years, the sale of mangoes in the market alone has dipped by a good 30 per cent,” said M Abdul Khader, head of the Koyambedu vegetable vendors’ association.
Of the 817 shops that sell only fruits at Koyambedu, around 400 deal only in mangoes. “Last year, around 20 trucks used to come to deliver mangoes alone, but this year that number has reduced to almost half. Even after so many raids, there are still some shops which ripen mangoes using chemicals like Carbide stones and Ethylene powder,” said Abdul.
After a recent meeting with all fruit vendors, Food Safety Wing officials asked all vendors to construct heating chambers to ripen the mangoes without the use of any chemicals. Syed Khadeer built such a chamber at the cost of H10 lakh. “The chamber I built is automatic and it can hold 50 cartons of mangoes at once, “ said Syed, a fruit vendor who deals in  raw mangoes.
While officials have only seized mangoes that were ripened using chemicals, from the next batch of raids such erring shops will be permanently closed and the licence of those vendors will be cancelled, said S Rajendran, the District Revenue Officer. “There are around 20 private heating chambers in and around Koyambedu that these vendors can use. We found that only 25 per cent of total fruits is being sent to these chambers. After this, we conducted sudden raids for two days and seized around 10 tonnes of mangoes,” said Rajendran.

New cases of salmonellosis reported in melon-related outbreak
Source :
By CORAL BEACH (June 20, 2018)
Ten more people are sick in a Salmonella outbreak that has spread to two more states. Pre-cut melons are implicated, according to public health officials who renewed their public warnings yesterday about the fresh fruit products.
The 10 new confirmed cases of Salmonella Adelaide bring the outbreak count to 70 victims across seven states. Out of 63 for whom the information is available, more than half have been so sick they had to be admitted to hospitals. No deaths have been reported, according to the June 19 update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With the most recent person having become ill on June 3, the CDC reported it is expected more outbreak illnesses will be confirmed.
“Illnesses that occurred after May 28 might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks,” according to the CDC update.
In an update earlier this month, the CDC reported most of the ill people ate pre-cut cantaloupe, watermelon, or a fruit salad mix with melon purchased from grocery stores before they became sick. Information collected from stores where ill people shopped indicated that Caito Foods LLC supplied pre-cut melon to those stores.
Initially, the implicated pre-cut melon was reported to have been distributed to only nine states. However, in its own update yesterday the Food and Drug Administration updated that count to 22 states. Others might be added to the list as state and federal officials continue their traceback investigations.
Both FDA and CDC repeated their warnings to consumers and retailers yesterday, urging them to not eat, serve or sell the implicated melon products. However, it is likely difficult to identify some of them because of the number of distributors and retailers involved. Also, the products were packaged in clear, plastic clamshell containers under several different brands or labels.
Distributors are known to have distributed the implicated melon products to Costco, Jay C, Kroger, Payless, Owen’s, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, Walmart, Whole Foods/Amazon. Other retail locations may be added to the list, the FDA reported.
On June 8 Caito Foods LLC recalled some freshcut melon products and some individual retailers have followed suit, but there haven’t been any recalls from other distribution channels.
“The FDA has posted a list of stores and states where recalled pre-cut watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and fruit medley products were sold. Additional stores and locations may be added as FDA receives more information,” the CDC update said.
“Do not eat recalled products. Check your fridge and freezer for them and throw them away or return them to the place of purchase for a refund. If you don’t remember where you bought pre-cut melon, don’t eat it and throw it away.
“Retailers should not sell or serve recalled pre-cut melon products distributed by Caito Foods Distribution, Gordon Food Service, and SpartanNash Distribution.”
The FDA reported the implicated melon products have been distributed in: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
States reporting illnesses and the number of case each has confirmed as of yesterday were: Illinois with 7; Indiana with 11; Kentucky with 1; Michigan with 38; Missouri with 10; Ohio with 2; and Tennessee with 1.
Advice to consumers
Public health officials continue to remind consumers that it is particularly important for young children, adults older than 65, and pregnant women to avoid exposure to Salmonella because they are at higher risk of being infected.
Anyone who has eaten pre-cut melon recently and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure. Specific tests are necessary to find Salmonella infections, which can be easily misdiagnosed as other illnesses.
Most people infected with Salmonella develop signs and symptoms 12-72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria. Symptoms can include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. In some people, diarrhea may be so severe that they need to be hospitalized.
Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other places in the body. In some cases, Salmonella infection can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.
The illness usually lasts about a week or less in healthy adults, but other groups are at a higher risk of developing serious infections and complications. High-risk people include children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, transplant recipients and HIV patients.

Outbreaks bring sense of urgency to food safety symposium
Source :
By Chris Koger (June 20, 2018)
The backgrounds of scientists and their areas of focus at the Center for Produce Safety’s ninth annual symposium were certainly diverse, but presentation after presentation laid down a basic message: shared knowledge is critical.
The regulatory and produce camps, which don’t always see eye-to-eye on inspections and new regulations, stressed partnerships bolstered by CPS-funded research are helping in answering many food safety questions.
“It’s a good collaborative relationship on research,” Samir Assar, the director of the Food and Drug Administration’s division of produce safety.
“It’s a very important topic right now. We’ve got (the Food Safety Modernization Act) in effect and moving forward with implementation, and we have some public health issues we’re looking to resolve, so research is really important to help answer the questions that we have.”
Others also spoke of those public health issues, mainly two E. coli outbreaks linked to leafy greens in the past six months, the exact origins of which elude the FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and groups within the produce industry.
“I think the reason we have such an exciting event this year is that there’s a lot of momentum on food safety in the industry and great interest to hear what kind of information is out there so we can improve our programs, or at least review them,” said Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli, CPS executive director.
She said the CPS fulfills a need for the industry to “dive deep into food safety and think ‘Let’s see what we can else we can do’” to tackle the problem of outbreaks.
Markon Cooperative CEO Tim York, also chairman of the CPS, said the information gleaned from the center over the years allows growers to step back and rethink growing, packing and other processes.
“There’s a sense of urgency, that unfortunately with romaine and the people affected,” York said. “We’ve got do something. And we have pretty good information from the scientists that was presented.”
Drew McDonald, vice president of quality and food safety for Taylor Farms, moderated a session on past CPS-funded research June 19.
“I’m very happy to see the introduction of people from many different disciplines, diverse backgrounds, coming here to bring their skills and look at this with different eyes,” McDonald said. “I really think that’s going to be the foundation for some real advancement.”

High-pressure pasteurization facility focuses on food safety
Source :
By NEWS DESK (June 19, 2018)
A Michigan couple is killing foodborne pathogens and extending the shelf life of foods while making their state home to one of the largest high-pressure processing machines in the world. Garden Fresh Gourmet’s founders have the Great Lakes HPP Food Innovation Center officially up and running.
High-pressure pasteurization (HPP) can kill a variety of pathogens in food. The process, which can be applied to food after packaging, also extends shelf life. Co-founders of Garden Fresh Gourmet, Jack and Annette Aronson, opened the center with public tours and demonstrations.
The high-pressure process kills yeasts, bacteria and pathogens such as E.coli, Aronson said.
“Single cell organisms can’t live under the pressure — 87,000 pounds of pressure,” he said. “The 220,000-pound machine is wrapped with 200 miles of cable so it can’t explode, and it doesn’t smash the food because the pressure is equal on all sides.”
Garden Fresh Gourmet did not have access to food technology in Michigan until they were acquired by Campbell Soup Co. in 2015. The Aronsons said they were having to “send out” all of their food to be processed in Wisconsin.
“There was nobody in our state that had the machine,” Jack said.
The Aronsons said they purchased the machine for $8 million dollars from Avure Technologies Inc., a supplier based in Ohio. According to the couple, the machine is capable of processing 70 million pounds of food per year.
This machine is in a 40,000-square-foot facility, but in hopes of expanding, the Aronsons are looking to give Great Lakes HPP space to support more food entrepreneurs.
“If we buy the whole building, we can have more food entrepreneurs come in to manufacture in the building,” Jack Aronson said.
In addition to Garden Fresh Gourmet, the facility currently has contacts with Clean Planet Foods and Drought Juice. Functioning at full force, the facility will employ approximately 50 employees. Aronson said the food innovation center has plans to support Clean Planet Foods, Drought Juice and Garden Fresh’s overflow production.
According to Aronson, “This can extend Drought Juice’s shelf life from three days to 40 days, which can help make them a national brand,” and “they can deliver all over the United States now.”
The Great Lakes HPP center will also offer lab testing for food businesses. The innovation kitchen includes services like product preparation, packaging, and high-pressure processing to test shelf life on site.
The facility was built by Shelby Township-based Sterling Contractors Inc. Designers of Oakland County hubs like the Vinsetta Garage in Berkley and Union Woodshop in Clarkston, the center was designed by Ann Stevenson Catallo and her husband Curt Catallo.

Canada changing beer standard to help brewers, consumers
Source  :
By DAN FLYNN (June 19, 2018)
Changes sought by brewers to Canada’s National Beer Standard are open for comments during the next 90 days, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Beer is one of the industries that made Canada great again and again as its 817 brewing facilities account for 84 percent of the beer purchased in Canada.
Domestic wines satisfy only 33 percent and domestic hard liquors only 56 percent of the country’s drinkers.
Nevertheless, Canadian brewer associations favor  “modern beer standards” with a handful of changes. CFIA opened a 90-day comment period on the change last Saturday (June 16) that will continue until Sept. 14, 2018. Amendments would include:
“Other micro-organisms” in addition to yeast will be permitted in the alcoholic fermentation process. Brewers say the change will support innovation.
Sugar will be limited to 4 percent by weight, preserving beer’s “traditional reputation” for being low in residual sugar. The hard limit would replace language on how beer should possess “aroma, taste, and character commonly attributed to beer.”
Another change recognizes herbs and spices as ingredients in beers along with flavoring preparations. Flavor development is consistent with growth in the beer industry.
The changed beer standards will also label disclosure of flavor prepreations used by brewers in such creations so they can be distinguished by consumers.
“Proposed changes would remove duplication of the standard for ale, stout, porter, and malt liquor, make it clearer for brewers which ingredient would be used, and allow industry to be more innovative in product development while maintaining the integrity of beer,” according to CFIA.  The proposed changes, under Canada’s Food and Drug Regulations, include label changes that will require brewers to identify food allergens, gluten sources, and added sulfites.
CFIA’s began the consultation process last year, including letting the World Trade Organization (WTO) know about the potential changes in the Canadian Beer Standard. It collected 161 submissions during 2017 from consumers, brewers, provincial liquor board, and trade associations.
CFIA said it has gained the most support for these changes to the National Beer Standard:
Repealing the standard for Ale, Stout, Porter and Malt Liquor
Removing references to specific additives from the beer standard, since these already appear in the Lists of Permitted Food Additives from Health Canada
Removing the statement related to the aroma, taste and characteristic associated with beer
Clarifying the term carbohydrate matter by providing examples, and when such ingredients may be added
Allowing flavouring preparations if declared as part of the common name
The agency said “mixed reactions” have been received to these additional changes:
Mandatory “barley or wheat malt” in the definition of beer
Comments were received stating that the malt portion should not need to include barley or wheat and should be derived from any cereal grain to allow for greater flexibility and innovation for industry; and allow current beer-like products derived from non-gluten containing grains to be included under the beer standard.
The majority of brewers provided comments that barley be maintained as a mandatory ingredient in beer.
Adding a 4 percent limit in weight of sugar
The majority of respondents supported this new requirement to maintain the integrity of beer.
Those who were not supportive were concerned that this may exclude some styles of beer, hinder craft beer development and creativity, and may have trade implications.
Repeal of the exemption for beer from the mandatory labelling of food allergens, gluten source and added sulphites
The majority of respondents, who were consumers, supported this change to require full labelling of all food allergens, gluten sources and added sulphites.
Those who were not supportive of the labelling exemption repeal indicated that consumers are already aware that beer is made from barley or wheat malt.
While Canadians strongly favor their owns beers, national sales were off about 1.1 percent in 2017.
Beer is also facing new competition from recreational marijuana, which Canada’s House of Commons voted to legalize Monday. (Commons and the Senate have passed differing versions that now much be reconciled before weed will be legal throughout Canada.)
Beer Canada, the national trade association, and the Alberta Small Brewers Association, Barley Council of Canada, British Columbia Craft Brewers Guild, New Brunswick Craft Brewers Association, Nova Scotia Craft Brewers Association, and the Ontario Craft Brewers are backing the amended Beer Standard. More than half of Canada’s brewing facilities are located in either Ontario or Quebec.
Here’s how to submit comments
By email:
By mail:
Director, Consumer Protection and Market Fairness Division
Food Safety and Consumer Protection Directorate
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
1400 Merivale Road, Tower 2, Floor 6
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0Y9

Campylobacter in chicken liver parfait nearly killed British man
Source :
BY NEWS DESK (June 18, 2018)
A British man who was admitted to intensive care after an awards banquet in October lost the use of his limbs, his speech and the ability to blink — leaving his eyes wide open and him unable to sleep.
“I remember trying to communicate to my wife that I didn’t want our son to see me as I felt like I was turning into a vegetable,” Philip Earlam told the Evening Standard. “I couldn’t move and I could barely see. It was so frightening seeing parts of my body shut down and having no idea why it was happening or what could be done to stop it.”
Earlam, 47. works for Vodafone, a telecommunications conglomerate, and was one of 63 people Public Health England said were confirmed, or thought to have contracted Campylobacter at The Brewery conference centre in Chiswell Street, Barbican. The center hosted the Digital Impact Awards in October and used Gather & Gather to cater the event.
Earlam, who got sick the next morning at his home in Northwich, Chesire, spent several days in intensive care and then was transferred to a neurological ward at Royal Stoke Hospital, the Evening Standard reported.
“Within the space of 24 hours I’d gone from planning on returning to work to being in intensive care, hooked up to various machines, and with the staff struggling to establish what was wrong with me as my condition deteriorated on an hourly basis. … It just felt like I was silently slipping away.”
He was diagnosed with Miller Fisher Syndrome, which can be triggered by Campylobacter. It causes abnormal muscle coordination, paralysis of the eye muscles, absence of the tendon reflexes and is fatal in 8 percent of cases.
Ultimately, Earlam spent seven weeks in the hospital.
He is suing Gather and Gather. Several other people who ate at the banquet are taking action through Leigh Day solicitors.
Many recipes call for baking chicken liver parfait to only 150 degrees F. However, according to the U. S. Department of Agriculture food safety guidelines, such poultry dishes must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F to kill pathogens such as campylobacter.
“Around 500 people attended the event and we are aware of a number of individuals that fell ill after consuming the chicken liver parfait,” Leigh Day attorney told the Evening Standard. “Many attendees may not have been fully aware of the source of their illness and as such the true scale of those affected remains largely unknown.”
An investigation by Public Health England found Campylobacter bacterium in the chicken liver parfait element of a pigeon breast starter.
“Campylobacter was found in samples of food and in samples from attendees at the event, and the likely source of the campylobacter was the chicken liver parfait,” the agency said. “Our health protection team sent a survey to the guests as part of the investigation. Out of 447 guests, 88 people responded and, of these, 63 met the case definition for a confirmed or probable case of Campylobacter.”
Leigh Day is also investigating a possible outbreak of Campylobacter at the Brewery involving Gather & Gather on Sept. 29. The company is no longer catering for the venue at which Earlam was infected.



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