Don't think you're immune from food safety issues
Source : https://www.thepacker.com/article/dont-think-youre-immune-food-safety-issues
By Tim York (July 23, 2018)
The eastern part of the city of Salinas is rife with gang violence, drug activity, and hundreds of shootings and dozens of murders every year. Yet, if you don’t live on the east side of town where most of the violence occurs, it can be easy to feel immune and unaffected.
So too is the case with the number of people impacted by produce safety issues each year.
As we go to print, the Yuma romaine issues have abated, and taking the top spot in the news is McDonald’s halting the sale of salads in more than 3,000 locations due to possible cyclospora contamination. Just as those of us who live in south Salinas are disconnected from the violence in the east side, some growers and shippers whose crops haven’t been directly affected by a food safety crisis have become disengaged from produce safety issues — and we can’t let that happen.
While the produce industry has made huge strides in our collective understanding of ways to keep food safe and reduce vulnerabilities, as an industry, we’ve been too slow in moving science-based solutions to the marketplace. In late June, the Center for Produce Safety — which has spent more than $20 million in research producing dozens of key learnings — held its ninth industry symposium designed to be the place to learn more about the latest research conducted in produce safety. While the event was rich in content that can keep food safe, only 300 people attended, many of whom were researchers, academia and regulators.
When we subtract the number of researchers, academia, regulators, and multiple company attendees, there were just 85 companies represented at the symposium. We can and should do better.
What’s more, when our science tells us to take certain actions to enhance safety and protect our brands — and we don’t apply that science — we shouldn’t be surprised or angry at anyone when our products are implicated in food safety crises. Instead, we’ll need to take a good hard look in the mirror.
Though the FDA is intended to be the voice of the customer and protect public health, regulation cannot move as fast as is required. With regulatory limitations and absent broad industry initiatives by grower-shippers, buyers can demand safer product through pressure to implement enhanced practices, aka super-metrics. As buyers, with our distributors’ reputations, and that of our operator customers, on the line, we cannot and should not tolerate mediocrity in food safety. If we do, and without all buyers committing to the same standards of food safety, we end up with a tiered system of food safety, with the toughest buyers having significantly more stringent standards and metrics than those that require the bare minimum.
Improvements nudged along by buyers shouldn’t be the only lever we pull. First and foremost, nobody in the produce industry can become apathetic. We need to remember food safety is about people and that doing everything possible to keep our food safe is a moral imperative.
Next, we must use the science available to us. Make best practices mandatory and get engaged with groups like CPS. Lastly, let’s use peer pressure for positive change. Our destiny is in our hands.
Tim York is CEO of Salinas, Calif.-based Markon Cooperative. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is camel milk the new super food or food safety roulette?
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/07/is-camel-milk-the-new-super-food-or-food-safety-roulette/#.W1aKwk66zct
By Cookson Beecher (July 23, 2018)
Behold the camel — giver of milk long known for its abundant supply of vitamins, proteins and minerals — and in some cases for sustaining life itself.
Yes, camel milk. People in Africa, the Middle East and Asia have depended on camels for milk for centuries. And now, in the United States, as the milk is getting a toehold, demand is outstripping supply.
Always in the quest to find the magic bullet of health, some U.S. consumers are turning to it as the latest answer to better health. Some are going so far as touting it as the new “super food.” “Trending” is another way to describe it.
Its rise in popularity can be attributed to the perceived health benefits of camel milk. And because it doesn’t contain certain proteins that cause milk allergies, people who can’t drink cows milk can sometimes drink camel milk without having digestive problems.
According to the Australian Camel Industry Association, camel milk has five times the vitamin C and 10 times the iron compared to cow’s milk.
In a study of the chemical composition and nutritional quality of camel’s milk, researchers found levels of sodium, potassium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, niacin and Vitamin C were higher than in cows milk, while levels of thiamin, riboflavin, folacin, vitamin Bt12, pantothenic acid, vitamin A, lysine and tryptophan were relatively lower than those of cow milk.
A report on FoodSafetyHelpline says camel milk is low in fat but has a high percentage of unsaturated fatty acids. In addition, components like long chain immunoglobulins are found in the milk, which some people say helps boost immunity in those who drink.
“From all the data presented it is clear that the camel produces a nutritious milk for human consumption,” according to a report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FOA).
However, the FOA data does not show a difference between camels milk and cows milk in terms of specific health claims by proponents.
Federal law in the United States prohibits food producers, including milk producers, from making medical claims about their products. It is also against the law for producers to disseminate consumer testimonials about specific health benefits of the products. Such claims move products out of the food category and into the drug category of the Food and Drug Administration’s jurisdiction.
Producers seeking FDA approval for products claimed to have specific medical or health benefits must prove those claims with research and testing data that has been peer reviewed and met other requirements to ensure safety and effectiveness.
Where can I buy it?
For the most part, camel milk is sold online in the United States, delivered to customers frozen via Fed Ex. However, in some cases it’s distributed direct to the customer. And some specialty stores sell it.
In California, it’s sold at nine Lassens stores and the marketing director said people can special order it at stores that don’t carry it.
A google search will lead a consumer to an array additional sources.
What does it taste like?
Descriptions about its taste vary. Some say camel milk is sweet and delicious. Others say it tastes good but has a hint of salty flavor. Others say you start with just a shot glass to get used to it and then proceed to the point where you can drink all you want. Others say it tastes horrible. And still others say it tastes like milk, adding that’s because it is milk.
Of course, when it comes to any kind of milk, a lot of the taste depends on what the animal is eating and how it’s cared for. And also, taste can be impacted by how sanitary the milking operation, processing and storage facilities are.
In addition to raw, pasteurized and powdered forms, camel milk is also used to make products such asa dietary fat referred to as hump fat, fermented kefir, soap, lip balm, lotions, bath soaps, facial washes, face masques and bath bombs.
Supply and demand in the U.S.
The supply in the United States is limited for a variety of reasons: As a starter, it’s not something the U.S. consumer if familiar with. Then, too, there aren’t many camel dairies in the country, and those, for the most part, are small — very small. One in Ohio has only two camels.
Price also enters into the picture. Frozen camel milk is generally going for about $8 per pint, far more than $3.50 for a gallon (8 pints) of whole cow’s milk. That’s not surprising considering that a camel will produce about only about 2 gallons a day compared with 8 to 12 gallons a day that a daily cow produces.
Some people conjecture that camel milk hasn’t garnered much attention in the United States because camels are considered animals from “under-developed countries.”
However, an earlier form of the camel used to live in the American West, Canada and South America. For unknown reasons, it became extinct more than 10,000 years ago. Some scientists say the animals migrated across the land bridge to Asia when the continents were joined.
Is camel milk legal in the United States?
In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration ruled that camel milk could be sold in the United States. But for sales to be legal, they must comply with the same state licensing requirements as other dairies in their state, with all of the necessary food safety and health standards in place.
For the most part, those standards require milk to be pasteurized, which involves heating it to 166 degrees F for 15 seconds, according to public health officials. Pasteurization kills viruses, parasites and bacterial pathogens such as E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella and Campylobacter.
These pathogens can cause serious illnesses, among them kidney failure and even death. High risk groups more likely to develop life-threatening illnesses are young children, pregnant women, old people, and other people with compromised immune systems, among them are cancer patients, HIV-positive patients, and transplant recipients.
Raw milk, regardless of the animal
On a national level, the FDA prohibits the distribution or sale of raw milk — milk that hasn’t been pasteurized — across state lines.
As of April 2016, 13 states allow raw milk to be sold in stores as long as it meets state standards. Seventeen states allow raw milk sales on the farms where it was produced — again, as long as it meets state standards — and eight states allow acquisition of raw milk only through a herdsman-share agreement. Under that sort of arrangement, which is often referred to a “loophole” by public health officials, people pay for shares of an animal or herd and therefore aren’t considered to be buying the milk. Overall, 20 states prohibit the sale of raw milk.
Although raw camel milk is advertised online, including on Amazon.com, that doesn’t mean it can be sent out to anyone who orders it. Because each state has its own regulations on how raw milk can be sold and distributed, customers need to check their own states’ regulations before ordering.
Meet three U.S. camel dairy farmers
Camelot Dairy: As the owner of a Colorado dairy with 130 cows, Kyle Hendrix was plenty busy. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t worried about the future. He was beginning to realize that if you aren’t shipping out huge quantities milk, “you’re a nobody.”
“The guys here who are milking 2,000 cows, they’re considered small,” he said. “The business has become a vicious cycle.”
Hendrix had already shown an independent streak when he left a multi-generation family beef cattle business and started a dairy farm. So it’s not all that surprising that he was open to trying something new.
That “something new” turned out to be a camel dairy farm, which he aptly named Camelot Dairy. As he tells it, it was all a matter of happenstance.
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5 food-safety slips that can ruin summer cookouts
Source : http://www.parkrapidsenterprise.com/lifestyle/food/4474813-5-food-safety-slips-can-ruin-summer-cookouts
By Washington (July 22, 2018)
It's challenging for me to completely relax at a typical backyard cookout or pool party because I feel I have been endowed with a burdensome superpower: I see food-safety blunders. As I scan the sunny scene of revelers in shorts and sundresses clinking glasses of rosé and nibbling finger foods, the radar in my mind inevitably homes in on a hot spot. The host is basting steaks on the grill with the marinade the meat sat in for hours, so I guess I'll be sticking with the vegetarian option.
I tend to spy several such situations at any given outdoor event, and it's not just me being persnickety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48 million people in the United States get sick from food-borne illness each year, and summertime is high season. While there are myriad causes for these illnesses throughout the food supply chain, improper food handling at home is among them, and the one over which we have the most control.
As you plan your next summer gathering, keep it truly healthy by taking note of these five common food-safety mistakes and how to avoid them. However, consider yourself forewarned: After reading this, you may become a keen food-safety spotter yourself. To lift that weight from your shoulders and breathe easy at a summer shindig, pass this information on to everyone you know.
Basting with the marinade
A golden rule of food safety is not to let juices from raw meat, poultry or fish come in contact with ready-to-eat foods. Raw items may contain a multitude of different disease-causing bacteria, most of which are killed off through cooking. If you baste with a used marinade, germs in it might not be cooked long enough, especially if you are basting when the food is nearly done
There are two ways to use a marinade safely as a basting liquid: When you initially prepare the marinade, reserve some in a separate container for basting, or, once you remove the raw food from a marinade, you can put it into a saucepan on the stove and bring it to a boil. Since even a clean marinade comes in contact with undercooked meat via the brush when basting, avoid basting toward the end of cooking and toss out any leftover basting liquid.
Guessing foods' doneness
There is a relatively small window of temperatures where meat, poultry and fish are cooked thoroughly enough to be safe to eat, but not so much that they are dry and tough. Newsflash: The commonly applied method of poking the food with a finger is not the best way to determine doneness (especially if that finger is on an unwashed hand, but more on that soon). The only way to be sure the temperature is just right is to use a food thermometer. If you don't have one, it is well worth the roughly $10 cost of an instant-read thermometer.
The Agriculture Department-recommended safe minimum cooking temperatures are: 145 degrees for steaks and chops (with a three-minute rest time), 160 degrees for ground meat, 160 degrees for poultry and 145 degrees for fish. That doesn't mean you won't ultimately opt to cook your steak medium-rare (about 135 degrees) if that's how you prefer it, just like you might eat your eggs with the yolks runny despite government warning. But at least you will be doing it knowingly and without a dirty finger.
Using the same tools for raw and cooked food
Cooking food to the perfect temperature doesn't do much good safety-wise if you are transferring bacteria right back onto that food by using the same utensils and dishes you used for the raw ingredients. Think double when cooking out with two sets of tongs, spatulas and plates at the ready, one designated for raw, and another for cooked food. Even better if they are somewhat different from each other - handle color or brand - so you can distinguish them.
Touching food with unwashed hands
One reason there is more food poisoning in the summer months is because more cooking and eating are done outside, away from running water, and therefore more likely with unwashed hands. If you are hosting a cookout or pool party, keep hand wipes and sanitizer (with a minimum of 60 percent alcohol) in easy reach of food-prep areas.
To minimize contamination from guests' hands, have enough serving utensils (please put a spoon in that bowl of nuts and tongs in the chip bowl) and keep wipes and sanitizer out for them, too. Don't think a dip in a pool, lake or ocean leaves you with clean hands. There are plenty of germs in those bodies of water that you wouldn't want to come in contact with food. So wash your hands before cooking or eating, even after swimming.
Keeping food out too long
Leaving food out for way more than a couple of hours at a time is the norm at backyard parties I've attended. It seems people have no clue about the potential hazards. Bacteria grows and thrives at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees, so food should not be in that temperature zone for more than two hours. If it's more than 90 degrees outside, the limit is one hour. It's easy to let time slip away when you are entertaining, so set a timer when you put the food out to remind yourself of when it needs to be refrigerated.
If you have guests dropping by at various times throughout the day, consider staggering the dishes you serve, putting some out at the start of the party, then replacing those with others later. If possible, keep cold food out on a bed of ice and warm food either on a side rack on the grill or in a 200-degree oven. Your guests will not only be better served with a fresher-tasting meal, they will be better off in the days to come as well.
Measures proposed to prevent repeat of baby formula crisis
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/07/measures-proposed-to-prevent-repeat-of-baby-formula-crisis/#.W1aMFk66zct
By Joe Whitworth (July 20, 2018)
A raft of measures have been proposed in France to avoid a repeat of incidents such as the Salmonella outbreak traced to Lactalis infant formula in 2017.
The parliamentary group charged with the inquiry made 49 recommendations including creation of a food safety police agency to manage issues throughout the supply chain and stronger penal and financial sanctions for companies at the origin of the crisis.
It also proposed a tax on manufacturers to reinforce the capacity of supervisory authorities.
A Salmonella agona outbreak sickened 38 babies in France, two from Spain and one in Greece in 2017. Lactalis recalled infant formula products it had distributed to more than 80 countries.
France already has the Direction générale de la concurrence, de la consommation et de la répression des frauds (DGCCRF) which is mandated to protect consumers, the Douane (French customs) and the Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES), which does monitoring, expert assessment and research for health topics.
The rapporteur of the inquiry, Gregory Besson-Moreau, is expected to introduce a bill with the proposals later this year.
UFC Que Choisir, a consumer group, welcomed questioning of the “blind trust” placed on self-checks by companies but questioned the effectiveness of a standalone food police agency.
Foodwatch said conclusions from the inquiry were useful but are just a “small part of the puzzle” to avoid future food scandals. The non-profit organization contends there is a need for further strengthening of food legislation with greater coordination between the different ministries.
“The conclusions of the parliamentary inquiry commission on the Lactalis case are useful, for example to reinforce the controls of the industry and public authorities. But that will not be enough to avoid other crises,” said Karine Jacquemart from Foodwatch France.
The inquiry also shone a spotlight on distributors after recalled items were discovered to be still on sale during the 2017 investigation. Lactalis had recalled more than 7,000 tonnes of products.
A number of French supermarkets were found to have sold Lactalis infant formula subject to the recall.
Lactalis was recently allowed to restart production of infant milk formula at its Craon plant but products cannot yet be sold.
The report comes days after recommendations from the conseil national de la consummation (CNC) to improve the withdrawal and recall procedure in the country and information given to consumers.
A set of 30 proposals were presented to Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy.
They included creation of a dedicated website for withdrawals and recalls, ability to use bank details to contact clients, blocking recalled products at checkouts, better information for the consumer on the website of implicated companies and strengthening resources and staff for market surveillance authorities.
Spanish authorities seize meat; some expired in 2015
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/07/spanish-authorities-seize-meat-some-expired-in-2015/#.W1aMQk66zct
By News Desk (July 20, 2018)
An inspector checks meat products as part of the investigation in Spain.
Spanish authorities have seized meat products potentially unsafe to eat in two separate actions in the country.
In the first case, La Guardia Civil said it found frozen hams that had expired in 2015, issues with labelling and product that showed signs of being unfit for human consumption.
They discovered, in the village of Fuente Vaqueros in Granada, a warehouse which contained 10,700 Iberian pork ham legs and cold cuts in a poor condition. Many were expired since 2015, others did not have expiration dates and some were visibly rotten.
There were no delivery notes to prove the origin or destination of the products. Some of the labels inspected showed signs of having been manipulated, said Spanish authorities.
A Guardia Civil patrol also intercepted a truck near La Fuente going to the nearby warehouse. The truck was loaded with 25 pallets that had anomalies in the labeling. Some of the hams also showed signs of being unfit to eat.
The health department of the Regional Government of Andalusia ordered destruction of the seized products.
In the second and unrelated action, more than 100 tons of meat products, mostly hams, stored inside two warehouses belonging to an establishment in Alzira, a town in Valencia, were discovered last month.
The Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition (AECOSAN) said the warehouses lacked sanitary authorization and the necessary registrations. Health authorities in Valencia seized the products, stopped activity of the establishment and passed information onto the Guardia Civil.
The activity of five companies dedicated to the handling of affected meat products was suspended.
AECOSAN said due to a lack of traceability it has not been possible to determine origin and destination of the products. The agency added the company has links with other warehouses in Valencia and other areas, including Castilla y León, Cataluña, Madrid and Andalucía.
Various items including chorizo, ham and salami were also removed from certain Family Cash and Kuups Design International S.L. stores as a precaution.
Products withdrawn from the market are: Jamón Bodega Alto de Aitana, Jamón bodega Sierra Gorda, Aire de Mariola, Serranía de Ameta, El Galán, Jamones Croval, Don Enrique and Oro la Ermita.
AECOSAN advised consumers who have meat products of the above-mentioned brands in their homes not to consume them.
Investigations into both incidents are continuing.
Another incident related to meat from Spain was reported via the RASFF portal in June and updated this month. It concerns an unauthorised operator for and incorrect expiry date of processed meat products infested with moulds.
The products from Spain have been seized and had labelling either absent, incomplete or incorrect and non-pathogenic microorganisms were found. They were distributed to Andorra, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Poland and the United Kingdom.
CDC-FSIS disclose Salmonella outbreak traced to raw turkey
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/07/cdc-fsis-disclose-raw-turkey-caused-salmonella-reading-outbreak-is-underway/#.W1aLiU66zct
By Dan Flynn (July 19, 2018)
Outbreak strain also found in live turkeys; investigators say it's likely widespread in industry
An outbreak of Salmonella Reading caused by raw turkey products has sickened 90 people in 26 states and hospitalization was already required in 44.4 percent of those cases, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta announced Thursday.
With the CDC announcement, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said it is continuing to work with its federal partners to monitor a Salmonella Reading outbreak that may be associated with raw turkey products.
The agency said it has not identified a single source for this outbreak “at this time.”
FSIS reminded consumers to wash their hands thoroughly after handling any raw meat and poultry products, cook these products to the safe recommended temperature, and use a food thermometer.
Forty people have been hospitalized in the outbreak, which to date has not included any deaths.
Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence from CDC indicates that raw turkey products from a variety of sources are contaminated with Salmonella Reading and are making people sick.
In interviews, CDC said ill people report eating different types and brands of turkey products purchased from many different locations. Two ill people lived in a household where raw turkey pet food was fed to pets. The outbreak strain has been identified in samples taken from raw turkey pet food, raw turkey products, and live turkeys.
Like FSIS, CDC said a single, common supplier of raw turkey products or of live turkeys has not been identified.
The outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading is present in live turkeys and in many types of raw turkey products, indicating it might be widespread in the turkey industry, according to report. CDC and USDA-FSIS have shared this information with representatives from the turkey industry and asked about steps that they may be taking to reduce Salmonella contamination.
CDC is not advising that consumers avoid eating properly cooked turkey products, or that retailers stop selling raw turkey products.
CDC advises consumers to follow these steps to help prevent Salmonella infection from raw turkey:
•Always handle raw turkey carefully and cook it thoroughly to prevent food poisoning. This outbreak is a reminder that raw turkey products can have germs that spread around food preparation areas and can make people sick.
•Wash your hands. Salmonella infections can spread from one person to another. Wash hands before and after preparing or eating food, after contact with animals, and after using the restroom or changing diapers.
•Cook raw turkey thoroughly to kill harmful germs. Turkey breasts, whole turkeys, and ground poultry, including turkey burgers, casseroles, and sausage, should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill harmful germs. Leftovers should be reheated to 165°F. Use a food thermometer to check, and place it in the thickest part of the food.
•Don’t spread germs from raw turkey around food preparation areas. Washing raw poultry before cooking is not recommended. Germs in raw poultry juices can spread to other areas and foods. Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils with warm, soapy water after they touch raw turkey. Use a separate cutting board for raw turkey and other raw meats if possible.
•CDC does not recommend feeding raw diets to pets. Germs like Salmonella in raw pet food can make your pets sick. Your family also can get sick by handling the raw food or by taking care of your pet.
CDC promises to update the advice to consumers and retailers if more information comes available, such as a supplier or type of raw turkey product linked to illness.
107 countries received frozen vegetables recalled for Listeria
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/07/107-countries-received-frozen-vegetables-recalled-for-listeria/#.W1aL2k66zct
By Joe Whitworth (July 19, 2018)
U.S., Canada among implicated countries; EU officials say traceability hindered by re-exporting
The U.S. and Canada are among more than 100 countries potentially affected by a recall of frozen vegetables due to Listeria monocytogenes. An outbreak traced to the vegetables from Greenyard Frozen has sickened 47 people in five European countries. Nine people have died.
Greenyard, a producer of fresh, frozen and prepared fruits and vegetables linked to the outbreak, has estimated the cost of the recall at $35 million (€30 million). Company officials said that includes costs for the product, transportation, handling, storage, destruction, subcontracting, lower cost absorption of the factory, and loss of margin. The company is insured for recall costs and possible product liability damages.
Due to the scale of the situation, the European Commission and the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN), which is managed by the Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization, are involved.
A spokesman for INFOSAN said 107 countries and territories received implicated products.
“Some countries have re-exported some of the products imported to other countries. Some have received and reprocessed original products into other products under different brands. All this is contributing to making the traceability and recalls more complex,” he told Food Safety News.
“The genetic sequence of the Listeria strain involved has also been shared with members of the network to facilitate the investigation of listeriosis cases detected in individual countries and see if they can be linked or not to this outbreak by comparing their genetic sequences with the outbreak strain.”
Frozen items subject to recall were produced in Greenyard’s Hungarian facility in Baja between Aug. 13, 2016, and June 20, 2018.
Eighteen cases have been reported this year, with the most recent person becoming sick in May. The outbreak is believed to have begun in 2015. It can take up to 70 days after exposure to the bacteria for symptoms of infection to develop.
In recent days Australian authorities said they had identified a fatal Listeria infection in their country linked to the outbreak in Europe. However, because the person died, public health officials cannot confirm whether the victim ate the implicated frozen vegetables before becoming ill.
Listeria monocytogenes IVb sequence type (ST) 6 that matches the outbreak strain from victims was isolated from frozen spinach and frozen green beans sampled at the facility. It was also isolated in a sample from a floor drain at the packaging area confirming the environmental contamination of the Hungarian processing plant.
“We have closed our plant in Hungary and have been conducting an in-depth review of the plant with a view to identifying the root cause of the contamination in full cooperation with the respective authorities and in dialogue with the customer,” according to a statement from Greenyard officials.
“We will not restart production in our Hungarian facility until we are fully satisfied with the results of these tests, for which we are working in continuous cooperation and consultation with the local authorities, and following the European guidelines.”
The company also said it is sourcing alternative supplies in cooperation with customers.
Some of the other countries that recalled products were sent to are: Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium, Chad, Egypt, France, Georgia,Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
The recall does not imply products are contaminated, according to officials. Affected retailers include Woolworths, Aldi, IGA, Auchan, Carrefour, Intermarché, Colruyt, Delhaize, Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Lidl and Iceland.
Greenyard advised consumers to cook frozen products until they reach 70 degrees C and to continue to cook them at that temperature for at least two minutes.
Spanish officials investigating illnesses linked to chard, cheese
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/07/spanish-officials-investigating-illnesses-linked-to-chard-cheese/#.W1aMdU66zct
By News Desk (July 19, 2018)
Two people have fallen ill in Spain after eating chard sold in jars. The product, packaged under the Ybarra brand, is suspected to contain high levels of tropane alkaloids.
The Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition (AECOSAN) reported that it was informed about the situation by health officials in Madrid. The agency said the condition of the two sick people has “evolved favorably.”
Datura stramonium, also known as jimsonweed, is a plant, containing atropine, hyoscyamine, and scopolamine, which are tropane alkaloids that can lead to poisoning.
The affected product is labeled as “Acelgas” (chard) under the Ybarra brand. It is sold in 660-gram glass jars marked with batch number 18023. Grupo Ybarra Alimentación said the incident is limited to only the jars with that batch number and a date code of Nov. 16, 2022.
The implicated product has been withdrawn from stores as a precautionary measure.
The facilities of Grupo Ybarra in Lodosa, Navarra, have been certified to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Food Standard since 2017.
AECOSAN said distribution of the product in question included Andalucía, Cataluña, Castilla y León, Castilla- La Mancha, Madrid and Valencia. Management of food alerts in the country is on a national level through the Coordinated System of Fast Interchange of Information (SCIRI).
Earlier this year, at least 19 people fell ill in Hungary from atropine poisoning in foods containing caraway. Contamination of the caraway seeds, which came from Egypt, likely occurred during harvest, according to investigators.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said tropane alkaloids are secondary metabolites which occur in several plant families. Although more than 200 different ones have been identified in various plants, data on toxicity and occurrence in food is limited.
Typical symptoms are tachycardia, hyperthermia, dryness and reddening of skin, visual defect, speech disorder, a decrease in intestinal sounds, urinary retention, agitation, disorientation and hallucination.
Datura stramonium toxicity usually occurs within 60 minutes after ingestion. Clinical symptoms may last 24 to 48 hours.
Meanwhile, health authorities in Lanzarote, a Spanish island, are investigating an outbreak of Staphylococcal food poisoning that has sickened 11 people. None of the victims required hospitalization. Cheese is suspected to be the source of the outbreak.
Health inspectors have identified the establishment where the implicated cheese is presumed to have been sold and taken samples which are currently being analyzed.
Staphylococcal food poisoning is a gastrointestinal illness caused by eating foods contaminated with toxins produced by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus.
Symptoms usually develop within 30 minutes to six hours. Patients typically experience vomiting, nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. The illness cannot be passed to other people and typically lasts for one day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
FDA should choose public safety over corporate confidentiality
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/07/fda-should-choose-public-safety-over-corporate-confidentiality/#.W1aMok66zct
By Sharon Natanblut (July 17, 2018)
The FDA has an opportunity now to update its recall disclosure policy to provide consumers critical information they need and want to protect themselves during an outbreak. The agency can, and should, begin routinely identifying which retailers and individual store locations sold recalled food. This information will motivate consumers who have shopped in these stores to check their homes for recalled food and discard the food before anyone becomes ill.
That is the message that consumer groups, members of Congress, and others have been delivering to the FDA. Just last week, food safety lawyer Bill Marler wrote in his blog that “the time has come for the FDA to reassess what are considered ‘trade secrets’ or ‘confidential’ so that consumers can know which retailers have sold recalled foods.” He pointed out that the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has been routinely doing this for the past decade, “and the sky did not fall.”
FDA commissioner recognizes value of giving consumers more information
Six months ago, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb stated publicly that he wants to do more to make sure that consumers have the information they need to avoid exposure to products that are the subject of recalls. He affirmed that by disclosing information about stores and other locations that may have sold or distributed recalled food, “consumers would have an easier time knowing if they might have, or have been, exposed to a recalled product that could cause potential risks if it were consumed.”
And just last month, the FDA released a list of store locations and retail chains in a recall of pre-cut melons linked to a multistate Salmonella outbreak. In this specific case, the agency determined that providing this information could be made public on the basis that it was necessary “to effectuate a recall.”
FDA is expected to update its policy soon, and those favoring greater transparency are cautiously optimistic. While the agency is required to withhold “confidential commercial information,” it can disclose the information if it determines it is “necessary to effectuate a recall.”
Consumers need to know which retailers sold recalled foods
A fundamental understanding of risk communications principles and literature show that the more “real” and “close to home” a risk appears to be, the more likely consumers will focus on it and take appropriate action. The “appropriate action” of checking for and discarding (or returning) recalled food will improve the effectiveness of recalls and save lives.
In 2009, Dr. William Hallman of Rutgers Food Policy Institute, and a former chair of FDA’s Risk Communications Advisory Committee, wrote in a report entitled “Food Recalls and the American Public: Improving Communications:”
“Simply telling people about a food recall is often not enough to motivate them to look for and discard recalled products. Instead, getting people to take action requires that they are aware of the recall, believe it applies to them, believe that the consequences are serious enough to warrant action, can identify the affected products, and believe that discarding (or returning) the product is both necessary and sufficient to resolve the problem.”
A critical element required to motivate people to act during a recall is to help them see that the recall may be personally relevant to them.
Unfortunately, this can be challenging, as people tend to assume that if there is a food recall, it will affect others, and not them. This tendency is known as the “optimistic bias” and results in people erroneously believing that they are at less risk than others for something adverse happening to them.
A 2008 Rutgers national survey assessing consumers’ responses to food recalls found that while 92 percent of Americans agree that food recalls save lives, only 17 percent think it is likely that they have recalled foods in their homes.
Informing consumers that a store where they regularly shop was identified during a food recall increases personal relevancy, and, in so doing, makes consumers more likely to check the foods in their homes.
That, in fact, was the rationale FSIS used when finalizing its policy to regularly release the names of retail locations. The agency stated that providing such information serves as “an additional mechanism for prompting consumers to examine products stored in their refrigerator, freezer, or cupboard when there is a reasonable probability that the product will cause adverse health consequences.”
Disclosing retailers will improve recall effectiveness and increase consumer confidence
The FDA has been under mounting pressure to release the names of retailers that have sold recalled foods to consumers, a practice that USDA has been doing since 2008. In December 2017, FDA Commissioner Gottlieb stated his desire to release such information, recognizing that it would increase the likelihood that consumers would not be exposed to recalled food.
I have confidence that FDA will work to provide this important information to consumers. Since the commissioner’s statement, the agency already has, on a case-by-case basis, named retailers. The risk communications literature provides a scientific basis to justify FDA providing information to consumers that will make it more personally relevant to them and increase the likelihood that they will not be exposed to recalled food.
Identifying individual stores throughout the country that have sold recalled foods will have the added benefit of increasing local media coverage, thereby raising consumer awareness. Further, as consumers come to count on the agency to provide this valuable information, they will have increased confidence in the FDA and its commitment to protect consumers.
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