FoodHACCP Newsletter



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07/27. Food Safety Specialist - Tampa, FL
07/27. Food Safety Program Manager - Seattle, WA
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07/25. Food Safety Coordinator - Lake Odessa, MI
07/25. Food Safety Specialist - Santa Clarita, CA
07/25. Food Safety Specialist - Harrisonburg, VA
07/23. Regional Food Safety Specialist - Glendale, CA
07/23. QA/QC Compliance Lab Tech - Stockton, CA
07/23. Quality Assurance Technician - Petaluma, CA

07/30 2018 ISSUE:819

 

Food Safety Authority of Ireland issues recall of sugar over "metal wire" fears
Source : https://www.irishpost.com/news/food-safety-authority-ireland-issues-recall-sugar-metal-fears-157883
By Ryan Price (July 30, 2018)
THE Food Safety Authority of Ireland has issued a recall of a particular brand of bagged sugar over concerns it may contain "metal wire".
The brand in question is Whitworths Granulated Sugar, which is sold in Dealz stores all over Ireland.
No other Whitworths sugar products are affected.
The recall has been made following alerts over a possible presence of small pieces of metal wire.
Consumers that purchased the bagged sugar are being advised to return the product the store it was bought from for a full refund.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has also issued the product’s batch code, which are F301U81902 and F301U81933.
The original alert, with images included, can be found here.

Canadians' Food Safety Knowledge Is Lacking, Federal Survey Finds
Source : https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2018/07/30/canadians-food-safety-knowledge_a_23492207/
By Jordan Press (July 30, 2018)
OTTAWA — Canadians are becoming less aware of how to safely handle and prepare food to avoid food-borne illness and food poisoning, according to government-backed research.
The findings from the report, which cost the government $126,449, point to an overall deterioration over the past eight years in Canadians' confidence that they can protect themselves and their families from food-borne illness and food poisoning.
A majority of seniors and pregnant women in the survey didn't consider themselves to be at any greater risk from food poisoning, even though they are.
The pollsters recommend the government gently target public awareness campaigns at those groups, among others, about how to properly handle food "without undermining the public's confidence in agriculture or the agri-food industry, or Canada's food safety system, which is reasonably good."
New food safety rules
The results of the survey are based on responses from 1,201 respondents through telephone interviews, and 1,613 people through an online panel. All work was done between Dec. 14, 2017 and Jan. 18, 2018.
A spokesman for Health Canada said the department will update its safe food handling advertising campaign based on the research report, as well as information from other sources.
The Liberals introduced new food safety rules last month, just a few weeks after the research report was delivered to Health Canada. The regulations will come into force early next year, and will require companies to keep detailed records about the path food takes from producer to consumer.
Federal officials believe that being able to trace food to its source could speed up the pace of recalls.
Consultations on the regulations are open until Sept. 7.
The survey provided to Health Canada in early May will now become the benchmark by which the government can measure the effects of public awareness efforts in the coming years, but also provide insight into how attitudes have changed since 2010.
Each year, about one in eight Canadians — or four million people — are affected by a food-borne illness like norovirus, salmonella or listeria, leading to about 11,500 hospitalizations and some 240 deaths.
Many small things can be done to avoid problems, but the survey found a broad lack of knowledge about washing reusable shopping bags, rinsing poultry before cooking, as well as properly storing, defrosting and cooking meat and seafood.
More pregnant women and parents of young children in 2018 than in 2010 defrost meat or poultry at room temperature rather than in the fridge.
And seniors are more likely to view food as safe to consume past the best-before date, aren't aware of the proper temperature to leave a fridge — between 2 C and 4 C — and tend to believe frozen, breaded chicken products just need to be reheated rather than cooked through.
"The results of this survey also suggest an 'out of sight ... out-of-mind' tendency among the public with regards to safe food handling in general, food-borne illness and listeria in particular," the report says.
"In the absence of sustained messaging related to food safety, it is likely that consumer vigilance may lapse, especially with respect to specific food safety practices that have not yet become normalized or habitualized."
If the federal government wanted to increase food safety awareness with seniors — defined in the survey as anyone 60 and over — it should focus on consequences, said Wanda Morris, vice-president of advocacy with CARP, formerly known as the Canadian Association of Retired Persons. She pointed to campaigns about falls that focus on the likelihood that not preventing them could lead seniors to live in long-term care homes.
She suggested food safety authorities should try "tying in an awareness campaign of 'do you want to save a few pennies and risk long-term care or death'. And the bigger fear is long-term care. In my experience people are more concerned with long-term care than they are about dying."

 

 

 


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New Report: Food in Europe is “Largely Free of Pesticide Residues”
Source : https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/news/new-report-food-in-europe-is-e2809clargely-free-of-pesticide-residuese2809d/
By Staff (July 26, 2018)
New Report: Food in Europe is “Largely Free of Pesticide Residues”
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released results from its most recent annual testing of pesticide levels in food. EFSA says that “Europeans continue to eat food that is largely free of pesticide residues or which contains levels of residues within legal limits.”
As part of its annual report, EFSA analyzes the results of the EU-coordinated control programme (EUCP), under which reporting countries analyze samples from the same “basket” of food items and for the same pesticides. For 2016 the products were apples, head cabbage, leek, lettuce, peaches, strawberries, tomatoes, rye, wine, cow’s milk, and swine fat.
The reporting countries analyzed 84,657 samples for 791 pesticides.
A few findings from this latest report include:
•96.2 percent (81,482) of the samples were within limits permitted in EU legislation and 50.7 percent of the tested samples were free of quantifiable residues.
•In the previous reporting year (2015), 97.2 percent of samples were within the legal limits and 53.3 percent were free of quantifiable residues. The difference is mainly attributed to the finding of chlorate residues, a compound that was included for the first time in the 2016 control programmes to support ongoing work to establish maximum residue levels (MRLs).
•The majority of the tested samples (67 percent) originated from EU Member States, Iceland and Norway; 26.4 percent concerned products imported from third countries. For 6.6 percent of the samples, the origin of the products was unknown.
•Legal limits were exceeded in 2.4 percent of samples for products from EU and EEA countries, legal limits were exceeded in 7.2 percent of the samples from non-EU countries.
•Of the 1,676 samples of food intended for infants and young children, 98.1 percent were within the limits permitted in EU legislation; 89.8percent of the samples were free of quantifiable residues.
•5,495 samples of organic food were taken in 2016, of which 98.7 percent were within legal limits; 83.1 percent of the samples were free of quantifiable residues.
The lowest MRL exceedance rates were identified for rye (0.7 percent), followed by head cabbage (1.1 percent) and strawberries (1.8 percent). The highest exceedances were found for apples (2.7 percent) and tomatoes (2.6 percent).
EU Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis says that the EFSA’s annual testing and reporting continues to prove that the EU is complying with set food safety standards. “Every year, thousands of food products are controlled by Member States to check that the legal limits are being respected: we owe it to European citizens to make sure that the EU's food chain not only remains the most stringent and controlled in the world but is one that we are very serious about continuously improving.”
To coincide with the publication of this year’s report, EFSA has developed a simple graphical tool that enables users to see the main findings by country and food product. The new tool is available in four languages and complements the existing data “dashboards”, which present the results in greater detail and allow comparison with previous years.

Food safety at summer fairs
Source : http://www.kimt.com/content/news/Food-safety-at-summer-fairs-489225571.html
By Annalisa Pardo (July 26, 2018)
Summer fair season is in full swing and for many, fairs mean fair foods. 
From corndogs to cheese curds, people at the Olmsted County Free Fair say picking healthy options is not a priority. 
"Go to the fair, calories don't count, I'm just going to pig out," Sue Mcnamara said. 
"The fried cheese, the fried food. I don't think there's even healthy options if you wanted to eat healthy," fairgoer Anna Moraczewski said. 
But the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention reminds people there are healthier options. It suggests people look for fresh foods or lean proteins. 
It also said bringing food from home can help cut down on calories, and save money too. 
While calories aren't a concern for most at the fair, food safety doesn't seem to be a concern either, despite all the recent food outbreaks and recalls. 
"I think you know the food's been sitting out a while, so kind of, but it's good enough to risk it," Moraczewski said. 
"I would hope that whatever is here is being careful with their food preparation. I guess I trust it. I don't really worry about it here," Mcnamara said. 
The CDC said when looking for food vendors at fairs there are precautions people can take to stay safe. 
It suggests looking at whether a vendor is clean: Does it have a sink for employees to wash hands? Are employees using gloves or tongs? 
When bringing leftovers home, don't let the fair food sit out for over 2 hours. This time window is cut to one hour in 90 degree weather.

Food safety 101
Source : http://thedanielislandnews.com/news/food-safety-101
By SARA GAIL (July 25, 2018)
Have you ever suffered from food poisoning? According to the 2013 NSF International Household Germ Study, more than 20 percent of foodborne illness outbreaks result from food that was consumed in the home. Registered dietitians are taught and trained extensively about food safety. The three main reasons for food foodborne illness are: poor personal hygiene, cross contamination, and incorrect time-temperature control. Below are some tips to lower your risk of foodborne illness.
Personal hygiene
Hand washing is a simple way to stay healthy. Before handling food, always wash your hands. Proper hand washing means scrubbing with warm water (at least 100°F) and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds. Avoid touching cell phones while preparing foods, as this will transfer unwanted pathogens onto the food. Always wash your hands before you eat.
Time and temperature control
The danger zone for food is between 41-135°F. Leaving food out for more than two hours at this temperature will harbor pathogenic microorganisms. In hot weather (above 90°F), that safety window is reduced to one hour. Refrigerators should be at or below 40°F. Freezers should be at or below 0°F. Always defrost meat or poultry in the refrigerator. On hot summer days, place your groceries in the back seat vs. the trunk. Never defrost meat on the counter-top, this will allow dangerous pathogens to multiply. Make sure you cook meat, poultry, pork and fish to the proper temperatures. Visit: https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html to review the safe cooking temperatures.
Cross contamination
At the grocery store, place raw meat in the plastic bags provided. Keep the raw meat in a separate area of the grocery cart to avoid contact with other foods. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and ready to eat foods. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat. Be mindful of touching sink faucets and soap dispensers with contaminated hands. Disposable gloves are a good option when handling raw meat. When grilling, use one plate for the raw meat and a clean plate for the cooked meat. This also applies to tongs and other serving utensils. Do not reuse marinades. Place your raw meat or poultry in a separate bowl or plate on the lower shelf of the refrigerator. This will prevent juices from dripping, leaking, and contaminating the other food in the refrigerator.
More tips:
-Avoid pre-cut fruit from the grocery store, this is one of the top sources of food contamination.
-Wash reusable grocery bags in hot water periodically.
-Wash produce thoroughly under cold water, especially those foods that you cut and peel such as melons and avocados. This will reduce the amount of bacteria that is transferred by the knife as it cuts through the fruit.
-Finally, “when in doubt, throw it out.”
Sara Gail is a registered dietitian, Daniel Island resident, and mother of two teenagers. She has her own private practice, Sara Gail Nutrition, and specializes in individual counseling, family counseling, and food sensitivity testing. Office location: 126 Seven Farms Drive Suite 160-B. www.saragailnutrition.com.

FDA, producer release few details about recalled whey powder
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/07/fda-producer-release-few-details-about-recalled-whey-powder/#.W1_3qE66zct
By Coral Beach (July 25, 2018)
It is not known how many food companies used potentially contaminated whey powder in their products; it is not known how many pounds of the whey powder have been recalled; it is not known how many foods will be recalled because of the whey powder — that is, the public doesn’t know.
Federal officials and the producer of the whey powder know most of those details, though.
Associated Milk Producers Inc., the company that made the powdered dairy ingredient, won’t reveal its customers, including third-party distributors that sell the product on to other businesses. A spokesperson for the Minnesota-based milk company said Tuesday that “AMPI staff personally contacted each affected customer organization” about the potential contamination and subsequent recall.
When recalls involve food and food ingredients that are sold only on a business-to-business basis, the Food and Drug Administration has not historically revealed the companies involved. Such information falls under protection for “confidential corporate information,” according to FDA officials.
Federal officials have not received reports of any confirmed Salmonella illnesses in relation to foods already recalled because of the whey powder ingredient. However, consumers who have recently developed symptoms of Salmonella poisoning have no way of knowing whether other foods they have eaten were made with the recalled whey powder.
In an unusual move Tuesday, the top administrator at the Food and Drug Administration, Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, issued a statement regarding recalls and alerts that have already been posted because of the whey ingredient. Those nationwide notices include one flavor of Hungry Man frozen chicken dinners, several brands of swiss rolls, several varieties of Ritz crackers, and several varieties of Goldfish crackers.
“I want to reinforce that, at this time, this is a cautionary step and we appreciate that these companies are taking these measures,” Gottlieb said. “As there are likely other food products made by other manufacturers that also use this common ingredient, there may be other recalls initiated in the coming days.”
There is little doubt the agency under Gottlieb’s control has access to at least a partial list of food companies that received the whey powder from AMPI. The FDA shared the list with recall staff at the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
“The initiating firm — in this case the producer of the whey powder — and FDA provided information about where the recalled whey powder was distributed, then FSIS’ Office of Field Operations immediately followed up with FSIS inspected firms to determine if any USDA inspected products may be affected,” a spokesperson for FSIS told Food Safety News.
The FSIS investigators discovered the recalled whey powder had been used in the Hungry Man frozen chicken dinner product and issued an alert. Because the product includes poultry, it falls under the jurisdiction of the FSIS. As has been the practice for years, the FSIS identified the ingredient supplier in the Hungry Man alert. The FSIS also routinely posts locations of retailers that receive foods that are subject to recalls or alerts.
The USDA’s food safety arm releases information regarding FSIS facilities in the same manner for all recalls, regardless whether the initially recalled ingredient was inspected by FSIS or FDA, according to the FSIS spokesperson.
“At this time, no further UDSA products are known to be affected other than the product (Hungry Man dinners) named in the Public Health Alert,” the spokesperson said.
The FDA commissioner maintained a more vague tone in his statement. Gottlieb said FDA officials “believe” the recalled foods “may contain a common whey ingredient supplied by Associated Milk Producers Inc. …”
Gottlieb promised his agency would “be communicating regularly with the public to provide information and updates on this issue.”
“We know that these are products that are widely eaten by consumers, including children. That’s, in part, why we are taking steps to intervene early on this potential risk,” Gottlieb said.
Details from the manufacturer
Unlike the FDA commissioner’s message, the statement from Associated Milk Producers Inc. says definitively that Salmonella was found in a sample of the company’s whey powder. The discovery was made as part of its test-and-hold protocol.
“All products shipped into the marketplace tested negative for Salmonella as part of AMPI’s routine testing program. However, because additional product tested positive for Salmonella under AMPI’s routine test and hold procedures, the company is recalling product as a precautionary measure,” according to the company’s statement.
“AMPI has ceased production at its Blair, WI, dry whey plant, is currently investigating the cause for the positive samples, and will take all necessary remedial actions.”
The AMPI also reported a “limited amount” of the implicated whey powder had been sold for animal feed.
Although the company will not release its customer list to the public, AMPI’s statement Tuesday did include specific details about the recalled milk product.
The dry whey powder subject to the recall is packaged in 50-pound and 25-kilogram bags that were produced at the cooperative’s Blair, WI, dry whey plant from May 1-5, May 24-29, June 2-5, and June 7-14.
The products included in the recall can be identified by the following lot numbers, which can be found printed along the top of the bag.
•7000.118.121.BL – 7000.118.125.BL
•7000.118.144.BL – 7000.118.149.BL
•7000.118.153.BL – 7000.118.156.BL
•7000.118.158.BL – 7000.118.165.BL
Advice to consumers
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not look or smell bad, but it can still cause serious infections. Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled foods and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to the bacteria. Specific lab tests are needed to diagnose and treat Salmonella infections.
Although people of any age can be infected by Salmonella, infants, children, seniors and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness that can result in hospitalization and life-long complications.
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, called salmonellosis, typically start 6 to 72 hours after exposure to the bacteria, but in some people it takes two weeks for symptoms to develop. Symptoms include fever, chills, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea and vomiting. The symptoms usually last for four to seven days.

Food safety programme gets 5-year extension
Source : https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50515075/food-safety-programme-gets-4-year-extension/
By Sok Chan (July 25, 2018)
A food safety programme implemented by the Mekong Institute in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) has been extended until 2022.
The Promoting Safe Food for Everyone (Prosafe) project is now entering its second phase, which will focus on increasing the safety of food in the region through a “coordinated approach to knowledge and skills development,” according to the Mekong Institute, who will be receiving the support of the New Zealand Aid Programme.
The first stage of the project ended last year after running for 18 months.
Maria Theresa S. Medialdia, director of the Agricultural Development and Commercialisation Department at the Mekong Institute, said at a workshop yesterday that Prosafe’s second phase will aim to provide safer food to consumers by improving regional value chains, boosting their sustainability, increasing professionalism in the sector, as well as strengthening public sector commitment for an integrated approach to food safety.
“The growth of regional and international trade as a result of the globalised economy has led Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam to exert more efforts not only to give their inhabitants food in sufficient quantities but also food that is nutritional and safe,” Ms Medialdia said.
“The quality and safety of food are two essential elements to consider in todays’ agricultural development, both in terms of consumers, who increasingly demand better quality, more nutritional and safer food, and the stricter regulations governing access to international markets,” she added.
Ms Medialdia said that one of the long term goals is to establish a network of skilled and capable trainers that can deliver effective food safety training in CLMV.
She said other goals include boosting the knowledge and skills of government officials as well as members of the private sector like producers, processors, and distributors.
 “The public sector must support the private sector to increase the quality of food”, Ms Medialdia said.
Tuy Sokneng, food safety and quality assurance manager at Leang Leng Fish Sauce, told Khmer Times that to ensure the safety of its products, his company has been implementing a number of food safety management systems, including ISO 2200:2005, ISO 9001:2015 and HACCP.
“The awareness on food safety in the country is still limited. However, we can see that more and more local manufacturers and enterprises are starting to standardise their production and products,” Mr Sokneng said.
Dim Theng, deputy director general of the Cambodia Import-Export Inspection and Fraud Repression Directorate-General (Camcontrol), said ensuring the quality and safety of Cambodian products requires the collaboration of the private sector.
“The government is working hard to prepare the necessary regulations and standards to ensure food products are safe,” he said.
“However, this issue is not only the government’s concern and responsibility. The private sector must also strive to enhance safety in all stages of production, including manufacturing, processing, packaging, and distribution,” Mr Theng said.
He said four government agencies have been assigned the task of strengthening food safety and ensuring the quality of local products: the ministries of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Health.
“Every day, our officials go to markets across the country to check on the stock and look for low quality ingredients or chemicals. When we find products contaminated with chemicals, we remove them from the market, and ask sellers to think more about the health of their customers.”

Brazil calls for end to European Union’s poultry restrictions
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/07/brazil-calls-for-end-to-european-unions-poultry-restrictions/#.W1_5UU66zct
By Joe Whitworth (July 25, 2018)
Brazil has again raised the issue of the European Union’s restrictions on poultry products during a World Trade Organization meeting. The South American country also questioned restrictions imposed by Panama and Russia.
Restrictions affect Brazilian exporters of meat from domestic hooved animals, poultry and rabbits, as well as minced meat, meat preparations and mechanically separated meat. All horse meat slaughterhouses and horse-exporting companies have been removed from the list of establishments eligible for export to the EU.
The EU banned meat imports from 20 Brazilian poultry and beef plants in April this year following an audit of the beef, horse and poultry meat control system in the country.
A follow-up audit this year, recently published by EU authorities, found progress had been made but some areas still needed further attention.
Police in Brazil investigated the meat sector last year and alleged some health inspectors had been bribed so meat produced in unhygienic conditions could be sold.
EU imports of poultry meat from Brazil were 110,763 tonnes from January to May this year, which represented 34.4 percent of imports. That was a decline of 42 percent compared to the same period last year.
At the WTO meeting, Brazil asked the EU to withdraw the measures as they are not science-based and are part of the EU’s perception that certain export companies cannot be trusted to comply with sanitary requirements for the presence of pathogens.
The EU said the decision has a scientific basis and takes into account the risk of cross-contamination when handling poultry meat as well as consumption behavior.
“The fact that Brazil, presumably in order to profit from a lower tariff rate, decided to add salt to fresh poultry meat intended for export to the EU does not justify why the EU should now change its science-based legislation, which is in line with international agreements,” said EU authorities. 
The EU added Brazil was aware that, by adding salt to fresh meat, the end product would fall under the category of meat preparations, and stricter Salmonella microbiological criteria apply.
In November 2017 and March this year, Brazil expressed concerns over reinforced border testing controls in the EU, which had resulted in increased reports of Salmonella detections in poultry.
Brazilian officials said distinct microbiological criteria for fresh meat products and poultry meat preparations were “unjustified,” as the two products were similar.
The country exported a “considerable volume” of uncooked salted poultry meat and seasoned poultry meat to the EU, which were both commercially defined as “poultry meat preparations”.
 “However, Brazil argued that the food safety specifications for salted poultry meat should be the same as those applied to fresh poultry meat, since their intrinsic characteristics relevant to microbial food safety were virtually identical. In addition, both products were uncooked, had similar muscle fibre structure and were not intended for immediate human consumption,” according to minutes made in one of the meetings.
The EU replied that there was no justification for revising the criteria and it applied to domestic production and imports into the region.
Shipments from Brazil are subject to microbiological testing at 20 percent frequency at EU borders in addition to checks requested to be done by Brazilian authorities on each consignment before export as a reaction to the meat fraud scandal.
However, the latest figures show prevalence of Salmonella in poultry meat consignments at the EU border was around 6 percent. The serotype is not known in most cases as lab testing can be limited to Salmonella spp., as required by the legal safety criteria for poultry meat preparations.
A European Commission spokesperson confirmed to Food Safety News that the ban measure taken in April is still in place on the 20 plants and shipments are still subject to 20 percent lab testing.
The spokesperson also said physical checks are made on all consignments of animal origin presented for import with the cost covered by the importer.
“So far, what we have done from our side is halt the addition of new establishments to the list of premises approved for export to the EU,” the spokesperson said. “The approval of new areas of production or new commodities for export to the EU has also been suspended (and to) monitor the results of the import checks, the implementation of corrective measures and the situation of the evolving judicial processes in Brazil in order to take further actions, if necessary.”
Ending the restrictions depends on the implementation and effectiveness of corrective measures put in place by Brazil.
“We are monitoring the complete rectification of the deficiencies identified during the audits and at the control checks at EU borders. No resumption or lifting of measures would be considered, as far as we are not convinced that the measures in place in Brazil are satisfactory and efficiently addressing the deficiencies,” EU officials said.
“There is not a calendar for this and the responsibility is on the Brazilian authorities who should guarantee the compliance of the products to be exported with the EU requirements.”
Brazil indicated more than 95 percent of the notifications of positive results for Salmonella by the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feeds (RASFF) were related to the pathogen in salted poultry meat with no public health significance.
At the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Committee meeting, Brazil raised another concern regarding Panama’s restrictions on beef and poultry meat. 
According to Brazil, Panama did not provide technical justification for its decision to suspend certification of seven thermos-processed beef and poultry sites previously cleared for export. Panama said the evaluation process to grant export permits is underway and a review of the decision is being considered.
Brazil also spoke about Russia’s restrictions on beef and swine meat.
The measure was introduced due to detection of the veterinary drug ractopamine in meat products imported from Brazil. Brazilian exports from 60 establishments were suspended in December 2017.
Russian domestic food safety regulations allow no residues of ractopamine in meat and meat products. Russia said it would lift restrictions when it is satisfied that adequate action has been taken.

UK food safety reform during Brexit creates ‘additional risk’
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/07/uk-food-safety-reform-during-brexit-creates-additional-risk/#.W1_4hk66zct
By Joe Whitworth (July 24, 2018)
Some academics have argued an “additional, unnecessary risk” is being created by the Food Standards Agency’s decision to continue major reform of UK food safety regulation during the Brexit negotiations.
One part of the briefing paper looks at the significance of the Regulating Our Future reforms.
The reform program is intended to modify how food is regulated in the United Kingdom, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Implementation of some of the program is to be before March, 30, 2019 – the date when the UK will leave the European Union.
The report calls on the FSA to provide clarity and evidence for ROF and where they are not available, then proposals should be modified or suspended at least until after Brexit. It was written by Professor Tim Lang, Professor Erik Millstone of Sussex, Tony Lewis of the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health, and Professor Terry Marsden of Cardiff.
“The FSA’s ROF proposals could potentially weaken food standards in the UK at the very time that the UK needs to demonstrate to the world that it has and maintains rigorous standards,” they wrote.
“Furthermore, the FSA’s plans risk undermining the ability of UK producers to sell their products to the EU after Brexit, as the FSA is still to demonstrate how it intends to ensure that its proposals meet the regulatory requirements for countries from which foodstuffs can be imported into the EU.”
The report called for clarity from the FSA on costs of the current and proposed systems to industry, the agency and local authorities; as well as anticipated savings that ROF might provide.
“It is vital, in the context of negotiating and enacting Brexit, that the FSA, and the UK government more generally, avoid any decisions, proposals or actions that could adversely affect food safety standards in the UK or the reputation of the UK’s food supply,” Millstone said.
The FSA told Food Safety News: “We are absolutely clear that the food regulation changes we are proposing as part of the Regulating Our Future programme will strengthen the current food safety and standards regime.”
The academics said a “careless” Brexit poses significant risks to food that flows into and out of the UK. The report says the government recognizes the serious consequences because it is making contingency plans to suspend food regulations in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Professor Lang said this is risky but could also be seen as sensible emergency planning.
“Consumers would rightly wonder who was guaranteeing the safety and quality of the imported food they were buying. Criminals would be alerted to opportunities for food fraud. And the move would send negative signals to the EU, at a delicate time in Brexit negotiations. It could make the UK’s third country status more problematic for exports,” Lang said.
The report also welcomed the Chequers Statement and Brexit white paper released earlier this month recognizing the importance of agri-food to Brexit, but said both documents have weaknesses. Specifically, government proposing close alignment with the EU for farming and manufacturing but not for retail or food service.
The government’s white paper provided more information on the future relationship between the UK and EU.
Ian Wright, Food and Drink Federation chief executive, said there needs to be an understanding on how the common rulebook will work in practice.
“Businesses and consumers urgently need clarity and confidence in the process for both following and deviating from EU rules. It is welcome that the UK will seek to participate and influence EU technical committees and have access to RASFF, but many questions still remain around our valued relationship with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA),” Wright said.
The FDF is an organization that represents and advises UK food and drink manufacturers. FoodDrinkEurope, a group representing Europe’s food and drink manufacturing industry, said it was “concerned” that the white paper made no explicit reference to UK participation in EFSA.
“Continued EU27-UK cooperation would deliver the best outcomes in terms of risk assessment and the practical work of food and veterinary risk managers, as they ensure effective and timely prevention measures to ensure the safety of consumers in the EU27 and the UK alike.”
In June 2016, UK voters decided to leave the EU in a referendum marked by a “yes” vote of 51.9 percent with a turnout of 72.2 percent.

Analysis shows source of E. coli outbreak was leafy greens 
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/07/analysis-shows-source-of-e-coli-outbreak-was-leafy-greens/#.W1_5q066zct
By Joe Whitworth (July 23, 2018)
Increased use of ingredient-based analyses is being promoted by researchers after the method was used to identify the source of infection in an E. coli outbreak.
Public Health England was alerted to an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O157 phage type (PT) 34 in July 2016 involving 56 cases in England and Wales. The source of infection was baby-mixed leaf salad, which was an ingredient in multiple dishes.
“A traditional analysis may have resulted in multiple menu items being associated with illness, thereby failing to identify the true source of infection,” said researchers.
Ingredient-based analyses are rarely used in outbreak investigations and are likely to be more resource-intensive than a traditional approach, according to the scientists.
A number of patients in the outbreak reported eating at a staff canteen and a garden café. The operations had a common salad supplier. The supplier, a wholesale distributor, sourced some of its baby mixed-leaf and rocket salad products from another supplier. That supplier provided salad items to 30 venues across the country, each associated with at least one case.
The researchers used control measures that included the supplier volunteering to suspend the distribution of salad leaves. Food distributors only provided limited information on when specific batches of product were bought and sold.
There were 76 different menu items served across the two venues containing salad ingredients supplied by the distributor. By measuring at ingredient level, the number of exposures to analyse was reduced to 22 salad ingredients.
Baby mixed-leaf salad supplied by the distributor was the only ingredient independently associated with being a case.
A retrospective case-control study was done using an online questionnaire to get information on menu items consumed at each venue. Among 203 responses, 24 cases were identified (13 confirmed, two probable and nine possible) and onsets ranged between June 7 and 25, 2016.
 There were no positive microbiological results from food samples as they were not collected until after the contamination had likely passed.
Use of an ingredient-based analysis may have resulted in more accurate exposure classification because respondents were more likely to accurately recall which main menu items they had eaten rather than a potentially non-memorable ingredient, said researchers.
“Another example of an ingredient-based analysis used to identify a non-memorable ingredient as the source of infection is the outbreak of STEC O104 in Germany in 2011,” according to the research.
“In that outbreak, all cases in the ingredient-based study had consumed sprouts but only 25 percent of cases in the previous case-control study reported eating sprouts. As sprouts were served as garnish or in side salads accompanying main dishes, consumption of this ‘concealed exposure’ was likely to be forgotten.”
A potential limitation of such analysis is that ingredients may not be used consistently in dishes, potentially resulting in exposure misclassification.
For example, the chef at the garden café could not provide accurate information on which herbs were used in which dishes as this varied from day to day. This limitation did not impact the study as no herbs were supplied to either venue by the common supplier.

 

 

 

 

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