FoodHACCP Newsletter

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10/08 2018 ISSUE:829


JBS Ground Beef Salmonella Outbreak: Recall Expands, Distribution List Published
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Oct 8, 2018)
The recall and distribution lists related to the JBS ground beef Salmonella outbreak have expanded. Last week we told you about the Salmonella Newport outbreak linked to those products that has sickened at least 57 people in 16 states.
Now, another 400,000 pounds of ground beef products have been recalled, bringing the total to 6,937,195 pounds. You can see the long list of products, where the ground beef may have been sold, and pictures of products labels at the USDA web site. The product brand names include Kroger Cedar River Farms, Connor Perfect Choice, Gourmet Burger, Grass Run Farms Natural Beef, JBS Generic, and Showcase.
The ground beef products were probably sold nationwide, and more specifically, in the states of Alabama, California, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming. The big chain stores that may have carried these recalled products are Savemart, FoodMaxx, Lucky, Harveys Supermarket, Winn Dixie, and Sprouts in certain states. We say “probably” because there is no guarantee that these stores did sell the recalled ground beef.
The recalled products range from ground beef chubs, beef sirloin trimmings, ground chuck, ground biscuit, ground prime rib steakburgers, and fine and course grind ground beef. These products have the establishment number “EST. 267” inside the USDA mark of inspection. Please check your freezer to see if you purchased any of these recalled products. If you have, throw them away or return them to the store where you purchased them for a refund.
Food safety attorney Fred Pritzker, who has represented many clients in Salmonella lawsuits linked to ground beef, said, “No food should ever contain enough pathogenic bacteria to make someone sick. These people got sick through no fault of their own.”
In this JBS ground beef Salmonella outbreak, illness onset dates started on August 5, 2018. The last reported illness occurred ion September 6, 2018. This outbreak will likely grow, but it will take time to identify more of the case-patients. It usually takes a few weeks between when a person feels sick, to when they visit their doctor, are diagnosed, and that illness is reported to officials.
The symptoms of salmonellosis include fever, diarrhea that may be bloody, abdominal cramps and pain, nausea, and muscle aches. Symptoms begin 12 to 72 hours after ingesting this pathogen, and the illness usually lasts a few days. Most people recover without seeing a doctor, so this outbreak could be much larger than stated by the CDC.
If you have eaten any of these ground beef products and have been ill, see your doctor. Long term complications from a Salmonella infection can occur even if you fully recover.

IBM Food Trust commercial blockchain launch links food safety from farm to dinner table
Source :
By Kyt Dotson (Oct 8, 2018)
After 18 months of testing, IBM Corp. today announced the commercial availability of its food safety blockchain-based platform, IBM Food Trust, designed for global use by farms, distributors and retailers.
The system uses distributed ledger blockchain technology to track food throughout the entire supply chain by tagging each actionable event that happens to an auditable historical record. Using the platform greatly increases tracability and accountability, enabling supply chain management to rapidly isolate batches and shipments when foodborne illness or contamination is detected.
The IBM Food Trust network represents the continuation of more than a year of pilot tests with major retailers and food suppliers, including Golden State Foods, McCormick and Co., Nestlé, Tyson Foods and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. These companies formed a consortium in collaboration with IBM to use its food safety blockchain in order to protect consumers and enhance trust the food supply.
“The currency of trust today is transparency and achieving it in the area of food safety happens when responsibility is shared,” said Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of IBM Global Industries, Clients, Platforms and Blockchain.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne illnesses each year in the United States. To lower these numbers, IBM used its blockchain pilot companies to build a robust network of members along the entire food supply chain working together to create end-to-end auditability.
“That collaborative approach is how the members of IBM Food Trust have shown blockchain can strengthen transparency and drive meaningful enhancements to food traceability,” said van Kralingen. “Ultimately that provides business benefits for participants and a better and safer product for consumers.”
Global retailer Carrefour S.A. announced its intent to use the IBM Food Trust blockchain network across its more than 12,000 stores spanning 33 countries at launch. Carrefour will initially select a few branded products to highlight consumer confidence. The company plans to roll the platform out to all of its products by 2022 worldwide as part of its Act for Food program.
In addition to Carrefour, several new organizations are joining the IBM Food Trust, including cooperative Topco Associates LLC, representing 49 members and reaching more than 15,000 stores and 65 million weekly customers; retailer group Wakefern, representing 50 member companies and 349 stores; and suppliers that include BeefChain, Dennick Fruit Source, Scoular and Smithfield.
“Blockchain holds the potential to help us be more transparent and transform how the food industry works by speeding up investigations into contaminated food, authenticating the origin of food, and providing insights about the conditions and pathway the food traveled to identify opportunities to maximize shelf life and reduce losses due to spoilage,” said Ed Treacy, vice president of supply chain efficiencies at the Produce Marketing Association.
The IBM Food Trust blockchain network becomes generally available today worldwide. It runs on IBM Cloud and features enterprise-class security, reliability and scalability for all participants. The technology under the hood relies on Hyperledger Fabric, an open-source blockchain framework hosted by the Linux Foundation.
Participants can select from three different software-as-a-service modules with pricing scaled for small, medium and global enterprises, beginning at $100 USD per month. Suppliers can contribute data at no cost, in a bid to boost the reliability and depth of transparency of the network.
The three different modules include Trace, Certifications and Data Entry and Access.
With Trace, members of the food ecosystem can securely track products from farm to shelf in seconds, allowing retailers and supply networks to mitigate cross-contamination and reduce the spread of food-borne illnesses.
The Certifications module helps verify the provenance of digitized certificates, such as those for organic or fair-trade cargo. Participants can load, access, manage and share food certifications digitally, and it’s expected to speed certificate management up by 30 percent.
Finally, Data Entry and Access allows members to securely upload, access and manage data on the blockchain. The privacy of the various supply networks would be secured with the cryptographic capabilities of the blockchain while also allowing third parties, such as regulators and auditors, to easily verify the integrity of the data on the network.
“Food connects us in such a profound way, it’s the language we all speak,” chef Aarón Sánchez said in a video published by IBM. “What makes IBM Food Trust, built on blockchain technology, so amazing is that we’re opening the door for a conversation with retailers, manufacturers, the farmer, the consumer. Those steps and assurances allow me as a chef to sleep well at night, knowing that people on the other end are doing the right thing. That is the future and that’s why we all need to participate.”
The IBM Food Trust network is generally available today for commercial use as a subscription service for members of the food ecosystem to join. More information on availability, details and pricing is available on the IBM Food Trust website.




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New Zealand ready to review regulations for raw milk sales
Source :
By News Desk (Oct 4, 2018)
Two and half years ago, the government of New Zealand struck a blow for food safety by limiting raw milk sales to registered dairy farms where farm gate purchases and home delivery are permitted.
The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) plans a November 2018 review of how things are going with the new requirements, which are set out in the Raw Milk for Sale to Consumers Regulations, and became effective in March 2016. The regulations were approved by New Zealand’s cabinet in June 2015.
The MPI is the executive department of the government of New Zealand charged with overseeing, managing and regulating the farming, fishing, food, animal welfare, biosecurity, and forestry sectors of New Zealand’s primary industries.
The raw milk regulations up for review are the result of a consultation and review process undertaken three years ago to strike a balance between managing public health risks and satisfying demand for raw milk by both rural and urban consumers in New Zealand.
When the new regulations went into effect, the MPI said the government recognized drinking raw milk is a high-risk food carrying an increased risk of food poisoning when compared to pasteurized milk. The department said the new requirements imposed more checks and balances, but allowed dairy farmers to continue direct sales to the public with sales at the farm gate or through home deliveries.
To sell raw milk, New Zealand dairy farmers must register with MPI, test for pathogens, keep sales records, and keep their animals in good health. There are no limits on how much raw milk they can sell.
Before 2016, New Zealand’s regulations restricted the sale of raw milk to farms with a limit of five liters per person, but the government ’s review then found it did not adequately control the production, supply, and sale of raw milk. The pre-2016 rules also involved “collection points” for fresh milk deliveries that came into question.
The MPI’s review is scheduled to begin in November, with the eye on whether any modifications are needed. Raw milk advocates say the current system is resulting in more unregistered sellers in the market, possibility meaning there will be a push to allow consumers to pick up raw milk from collection points again.
There are 27 “Farm Dairy Operators” registered with MPI to produce, process and sell raw milk to the public. Those operators pay for registration and testing costs, while the unregistered escape those added expenses.
MPI is headquartered in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, which sits near the North Island’s southernmost point on the Cook Strait. The Ministry’s 2017-18 budget is just shy of $1 billion.
The most recent recall of raw milk in New Zealand was just 30 days ago when Bella Vacca Jerseys found Campylobacter bacteria in as many as four batches of its product.

Food Safety: several recalls across the U.S.
Source :
By David Sherman (Oct 4, 2018)
There are several food recalls underway across the United States:
Johnston County Hams is recalling more than 89,000 pounds of ready-to-eat ham products due to possible listeria contamination, the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said Wednesday.
The recall was announced after health officials linked an outbreak of listeriosis to ham products produced at Johnston County Hams, according to the service. The agency was notified last month of a patient who had reported consuming products from the company before getting sick.
“The epidemiologic investigation identified a total of four listeriosis confirmed illnesses, including one death, between July 8, 2017 and August 11, 2018,” the recall announcement said. The illnesses were reported in North Carolina and Virginia. All of the patients were hospitalized, and the death was reported in Virginia, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
The recalled products were produced between April 3, 2017, and October 2, 2018, and shipped to distributors in Maryland, North Carolina, New York, South Carolina and Virginia, according to the Food Safety and Inspection Service. They have the establishment number “EST. M2646” inside the USDA inspection mark on the packaging.
They include Johnston County Hams Inc. country style fully cooked boneless deli ham; The Old Dominion brand ole fashioned sugar-cured premium full cooked country ham with sell by dates from April 10, 2018, to September 27, 2019; Padow’s Hams & Deli Inc. fully cooked country ham boneless glazed with brown sugar; premium fully cooked country ham with less salt distributed by Valley Country Hams LLC with sell-by dates from April 10, 2018, to September 27, 2019; and Goodnight Brothers Country Ham boneless fully cooked. All of these recalled products are plastic-wrapped and at weights of 7 to 8 pounds.
Consumers and retailers should not eat, serve, or sell any of these products, the CDC and the Food Safety and Inspection Service warned. Products should be returned to where they were purchased or thrown away, and consumers are warned to check their freezers, as well
“Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators and freezers where recalled ham was stored,” the CDC also said.
Arizona-based meat producer JBS Tolleson, Inc. is recalling 6,500,966 pounds of “various raw, non-intact beef products” due to an outbreak of salmonella, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday. The recalled products may be contaminated with salmonella.
The recall was issued after health officials identified JBS as the common supplier of raw ground beef products found to be the “probable source” of reported salmonella illnesses.
Fifty-seven cases of salmonella illness linked to this outbreak were reported in 16 US states between August 5 and September 6. The USDA’s FSIS was first notified of the possible outbreak in September. Receipts and shopper cards from eight patients helped investigators identify the source of the outbreak.
Symptoms of salmonella usually begin 12 to 72 hours after consuming contaminated food. These can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever that last between four and seven days. Most people recover on their own but those who experience persistent diarrhea may need to be hospitalized.
Those at most risk for severe illness include people with weakened immune systems, babies and elderly individuals.
The recalled products were packaged between July 26 and September 7 and were sold nationwide under brand names Walmart, Cedar River Farms Natural Beef, Showcase, Showcase/Walmart and JBS Generic.
The USDA inspection mark on the packaging of the recalled products contains the establishment number “EST. 267.”
Eggs from Gravel Ridge Farms in Cullman, Alabama, have been linked to 38 cases of salmonella in seven states, the US Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.
The cage-free large eggs, which were sold in grocery stores in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama, were recalled in September after illnesses were confirmed.
The recalled eggs have a UPC code of 7-06970-38444-6 and best-by dates of July 25 through October 3. A full list of locations where the eggs were sold can be found on the recall announcement.
Ten people have been hospitalized, but there have been no reported deaths, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Twenty-three salmonella cases have been reported in Tennessee, seven in Alabama, four in Ohio and one case each in Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky and Montana. The illnesses began between June 17 and August 16.
Many of those infected reported eating dishes containing eggs at restaurants supplied by Gravel Ridge Farms.
The CDC advises that the eggs should not be eaten, sold, or served. They should be thrown away or returned to the store where they were purchased.
The places where the eggs were stored should be cleaned and sanitized, and eggs should be handled and cooked safely to avoid the potential for illness.
Symptoms of salmonella infections include fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps that appear 12 to 72 hours after infection, according to the CDC.
In some cases, people may have diarrhea so severe that they need to be hospitalized, but most recover without treatment after four to seven days.
The FDA says infections can be serious and sometimes fatal in certain populations, including young children, frail or elderly people and those with a weakened immune system.
The CDC, the FDA, and state officials are investigating the outbreak.

Conflicting pesticide regulations may fuel needless food safety disputes
Source :
By Paul Pryce, Western Producer (Oct 4, 2018)
Since 1961, the Codex Alimentarius has provided a common set of standards for food safety, ranging from nutrition labeling to maximum residue limits (MRLs) for pesticides.
Scientists and officials from 185 member countries, as well as one member organization (the European Union), contribute to the development of these standards …. However, in recent years, some countries have been rapidly developing their own separate standards. In the most recent example of this, China notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) in February that it had developed draft standards on MRLs for 107 pesticides ….
The development of national lists is not on its own a concern …. What is concerning, however, is the degree to which some national lists are being developed independently from the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) ….
[T]he proliferation of various MRLs for different markets will make pesticide use extremely complicated over time. This is especially true of those markets where a national list is used but the regulatory system is less sophisticated than that seen in China. In such scenarios, the MRL often defaults to 0.01 parts per million (ppm), effectively zero tolerance.

Canada should encourage partners to …. [base their pesticide] …. guidelines in the Codex …. This would ensure consistent rules to which farmers globally can adhere when applying pesticides …. to crops. This would have the additional benefit of …. resolving disputes within the WTO regarding food safety and consumer protection.

More data published from BPA study; results ‘support the safety of BPA’
Source :
By News Desk (Oct 3, 2018)
More research has been released by the United States National Toxicology Program (NTP) as part of a landmark study on the safety of bisphenol A (BPA).
The Consortium Linking Academic and Regulatory Insights on BPA Toxicity (CLARITY-BPA) program is studying a range of potential health effects from exposure to the chemical.
It was initiated by NTP, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide data for regulatory decisions.
The draft CLARITY-BPA core study research report was reviewed by an external expert panel in April 2018 and the final version was released last week along with data from academic studies. A report integrating findings from the core study and grantee studies is expected in fall 2019.
BPA is used in the production of polycarbonate plastics such as water and infant bottles and epoxy resins which coat some metal food cans and bottle tops.
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) said the results support the safety of BPA.
“The final report on the CLARITY Core Study strongly supports recent statements from the U.S. FDA that BPA is safe at the very low levels to which people are typically exposed. The scope and magnitude of this study are unprecedented for BPA, and the results clearly show that BPA has very little potential to cause health effects, even when people are exposed to it throughout their lives,” said Steven G. Hentges, Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group of the ACC.
CLARITY-BPA has two components: A “core” guideline-compliant chronic study conducted at NCTR according to FDA Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) regulations and studies of various endpoints, by NIEHS-funded researchers at academic institutions using animals born to the same exposed pregnant rats as the core GLP study.
In February this year when the pre-peer reviewed draft report was released, the FDA said an initial review supports its position that currently authorized uses of BPA continue to be safe for consumers.
At the time, the Endocrine Society expressed disappointment at the FDA’s statement saying it was “premature to draw conclusions” based on one component of a two-part report.
Results from the CLARITY-BPA studies will also be used as part of the European Food Safety Authority’s re-evaluation of the chemical’s toxicity with results expected in 2020.
Last month, new rules that tightened restrictions on the use of BPA in food contact materials in the European Union entered into force.

Campylobacter and Salmonella behind most outbreaks in Germany
Source :
By Joe Whitworth (Oct 3, 2018)
Almost 400 foodborne outbreaks occurred in Germany last year, according to a report. Most outbreaks with high evidence were caused by raw milk.
A total of 389 outbreaks involved at least 2,277 illnesses, 412 hospitalizations and four deaths. Salmonella was implicated in two deaths and Verotoxin-producing E. coli (VTEC) and Hepatitis A virus in one each.
Almost three-quarters of the outbreaks were caused by Campylobacter spp. and Salmonella.
The number of outbreaks is down slightly from 397 in 2016, while illnesses fell from 2,508 but hospitalizations rose from 256. The amount of associated deaths stayed the same.
Data on foodborne outbreaks in Germany are collected by local health and food safety authorities and transmitted to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) or the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL). The nationwide system for collecting data on foodstuffs involved in disease outbreaks is called BELA.
Campylobacter accounted for the largest proportion of outbreaks with 38 percent. They were most commonly caused by the consumption of untreated raw milk. As in the previous year, Campylobacter and raw milk were the most frequently reported combination of pathogen and causative food.
Other causes of outbreaks were Salmonella with 34 percent, Norovirus with 5 percent, VTEC at 3 percent, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E virus both with 2 percent, Giardia Lamblia at 2 percent and Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus cereus both with 1 percent.
Outbreaks were also caused by Clostridium perfringens, Ciguatoxin and histamine. In 7 percent of them the pathogen or agent remained unknown.
A total of 49 of the 389 outbreaks were classified as high-evidence according to European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) criteria. These outbreaks considered a causal relationship between a food and the cases to be likely.
A high level of evidence was found in 27 outbreaks from detection of the pathogen or virus in the food or its ingredients. In 21 outbreaks, the descriptive epidemiological evidence was considered enough without detection of a pathogen in the food and in two outbreaks, the association between disease and a suspected food could also be established through an analytical epidemiological study.
In addition to raw milk, foods linked to outbreaks included pork, meat, fish, bakery products, egg products and cereals. Re-occurring pathogen and food combinations included Salmonella in tiramisu, Clostridium perfringens in goulash and histamine in tuna.
Foods causing the high level evidence outbreaks were consumed mostly at home, followed by catering such as restaurants and hotels and at farm level.
The outbreak with the most cases, 126, was caused by norovirus. Patients had consumed bread and rolls from a bakery. While it was not possible to detect it in samples, the descriptive epidemiological evidence suggested that transmission could have occurred from an infected bakery employee via delivered food.
The second largest, with 102 cases, occurred in two restaurants supplied by a hotel kitchen. The outbreak was caused by Clostridium perfringens which was detected in samples of goulash.
The third largest with 72 infections was caused by Salmonella Typhimurium. A survey of sick people pointed to raw sausage products and Thüringer Mett (minced pork eaten raw) traced back to a slaughterhouse. The pathogen was detected in food, the environment and patients.
A country wide outbreak of VTEC O157, which led to 15 cases and one death, was linked to mixed minced beef (beef and pork). Two nationwide salmonellosis outbreaks were caused by Salmonella Kottbus. In one, a strong link was found between infection and consumption of smoked ham. In the other, quail eggs were identified as the probable cause.
Produce testing
Meanwhile, in summer this year, the BVL warned about microbial contamination of fruits and salads if they are not kept in the refrigerator and stored correctly. As part of a risk-oriented nationwide surveillance plan 745 samples of prepackaged sliced fruit were tested for various microorganisms in 2016.
Mold was most frequently detected in 135 out of 737 samples at levels above recommendations of the German Society for Hygiene and Microbiology. Warning values for enterobacteria were exceeded in some samples indicating good hygiene practices were not followed. E. coli was detected in five of 745 samples, two of which exceeded the society’s guidelines.
In two out of 700 samples the guideline values for coagulase-positive staphylococci were exceeded but Salmonella was not found in any of the 632 fruit samples analyzed.
BVL said there is a risk of contamination from cultivation to packaging with salads and fruit as they are eaten raw and do not undergo any production step capable of killing microorganisms. It advised consumers to look out for curved packaging, color loss or brown spots, keep produce in the fridge and stick to the expiry date, eat quickly once opened and dispose of items left uncooled for a long period of time.

Are Your Food Products in Compliance with the New Prop 65 Requirements?
Source :
By Ryan S. Landis, Esq. (Oct 2, 2018)
Are Your Food Products in Compliance with the New Prop 65 Requirements?
New revisions to the warnings provisions required by California’s Prop 65 regulations took effect on August 30, 2018. If applicable, the revisions will change the way companies assess and label the food products they distribute or sell in California.These new warning regulations fall under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, referred to as Proposition 65. In order to manage the significant financial and business operation risks of noncompliance, the regulatory changes provide new “safe harbor” warning content and methods of transmission. In addition to new, more specific warning language, the changes require the identification of at least one of the chemicals from the Proposition 65 list that triggered the need to warn, unless a company wants to use a “short-form” option that merely states “cancer” or “reproductive harm” without an explanation for the warning. The requirements for transmission of this new warning language relate to all modes of purchase and distribution, including online/internet purchases as well as direct-import and drop-ship delivery.
The significant changes to Proposition 65’s warning requirements require an understanding of the chemical constituents of all products sold or distributed in the state of California. The Proposition 65 chemical list includes a wide range of naturally occurring chemicals (present in food) as well as synthetic chemicals including lead and phthalates.
The consequences of noncompliance with Proposition 65 arise primarily from private enforcer plaintiffs who are awarded 25 percent of any civil penalty and who partner with bounty hunter attorneys who collect reasonable attorney fees for the enforcement action. While the California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) facilitates the addition of new chemicals to the state’s list of carcinogens and reproductive toxicants (there are more than 900 chemicals on the list), anyone in the state can sue for enforcement under Proposition 65. This has led to an industry of those pursuing Proposition 65 enforcement actions for financial gain.
In addition to general content and transmission changes for consumer product, occupational and environmental chemical exposures, OEHHA adopted new safe harbor warning language for certain specific types of exposures including food exposure (including dietary supplements) and beverage and food exposure in restaurants. An example of a food exposure safe harbor warning under the new regulations is as follows:
WARNING: Consuming this product can expose you to chemicals including lead, which is known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information, go to
The warning must be provided on the food product label (enclosed in a box) or on a product sign, label, or shelf tag. Depending on consumer information already on the food product, the warning may need to be transmitted in other languages as well.
Just recently, OEHHA proposed a regulatory exemption for Proposition 65-listed chemicals in coffee where the presence of the chemicals is the result of roasting or brewing coffee (primarily acrylamide). There was also a recent California Appellate Court ruling that found Proposition 65 cancer warnings for acrylamide in certain breakfast cereals was preempted by federal nutrition policies aimed at encouraging Americans to consume more whole grains as well as by U.S. Food and Drug Administration letters stating that any warnings should be deferred given the uncertain science on acrylamide in food risks to humans. This court ruling may expand the sphere of pre-emption protection in other contexts where state warning requirements should defer to more carefully articulated federal policies.

New U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal maintains status quo on food safety
Source :
By Dan Flynn (Oct 2, 2018)
The new U.S.-Mexico-Canada-Agreement, USMCA contains food safety provisions not unlike the North American Free Trade Agreement it seeks to replace, but not the kind of changes some wanted.
Fulfilling one of President Donald J. Trump’s campaign promises, news that trade ministers from the U.S., Mexico and Canada had reached an agreement Monday pushed the Dow Jones Industrials up another 200 points in record high territory. The deal seemed to cool concern about trade wars.
Trump called USMCA a “historic transaction.”
The agreement first reached between the U.S. and Mexico, and now involving Canada, is not revolutionary when it comes to food safety. Two Canadian think tanks had proposed that the replacement for NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) include at least a bilateral food protection system for the U.S. and Canada.
Earlier in the process, the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) and the Canada Institute of the Wilson Center teamed up to promote “new thinking” about safety to encourage debate within the NAFTA renegotiation talks.
The two think tanks produced an eight-page discussion paper, “Risk and Reward: Food Safety and NAFTA 2.0,” written by Rory McAlpine and Mike Robach, suggesting Canada and the U.S. establish a joint risk assessment organization for food safety.
McAlpine, senior vice president for government relations at Toronto-based Maple Leaf Foods Inc. and Robach, who retired in August from his job as vice president for corporate food safety and regulatory affairs for the Minneapolis-based Cargill Inc., called for the food safety reforms.
Maple Leaf and Cargill are multi-national corporations that are active on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border. McAlpine and Robach are considered to be leaders in the broader food safety community.
“North Americans share a highly integrated food supply, one that is perhaps the safest in the world,” their paper said. The two nations have “robust systems” for standards, inspections, and business practices that are highly uniform and well grounded in science, it said.
They advocated for joint action by the U.S. and Canada for food safety.
“The need to act jointly is heightened by the ‘One Health’ paradigm, which recognizes that the health of people is increasingly connected to the health of animals and the environment,” the paper continued.
They sought a joint food safety risk assessment organization in any NAFTA 2.0, but that’s not part of USMCA.
Chapter 9 of the new agreement on “Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures” is silent on such reforms, but instead contains language similar  to the existing NAFTA agreement. It contains the following familiar objectives:
•protect human, animal or plant life or health in the territories of the Parties while facilitating trade between them;
•reinforce and build upon the SPS Agreement;
•strengthen communication, consultation, and cooperation between the Parties, and particularly between the Parties’ competent authorities;
•ensure that sanitary or phytosanitary measures implemented by a Party do not create unnecessary barriers to trade;
•enhance transparency in and understanding of the application of each Party’s sanitary and phytosanitary measures;
•encourage the development and adoption of science-based international standards, guidelines, and recommendations, and promote their implementation by the Parties;
•enhance the compatibility of sanitary or phytosanitary measures as appropriate; and
•advance science-based decision making.
Scientific and technical food safety disputes among the parties will be handled by expert panels whose work will be subject to legal review for accuracy, clarity, and consistency, according to the USMCA provisions. Panels will rely on relevant international standards.
The trilateral trade agreement is “timely and beneficial” for soybean growers, American Soybean Association (ASA) President John Heisdorffer said. U.S. soybean exports to Canada and Mexico reached almost $3 billion in 2017.
The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) hailed the agreement, especially improvement in market access for U.S. dairy, wheat and wine.

Ice cream maker expands recall; stops production because of Listeria
Source :
By News Desk (Oct 1, 2018)
A micro-creamery owner has closed up shop until further notice because state testing found Listeria monocytogenes in his company’s ice cream and production plant. The owner also expanded a previous recall to include all Reilly Craft Creamery ice cream produced since Feb. 20.
Owner Chris Reilly announced he would not reopen Reilly Craft Creamery LLC in a notice posted by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). The initial recall posted Sept. 4 included only two flavors of ice cream from the Detroit company.
“The ice cream is packaged in paper pint cartons and the product numbers are on bottom of the container,” according to the notice on the Michigan agriculture website. “Photos of the packaging are available on the company’s website at”
Consumers are urged to check their home freezers to make sure they do not have any Reilly Craft Creamery ice cream. Any of the company’s ice cream that was purchased after Feb. 20 this year should be immediately discarded or returned to the place of purchase.
As of Sept. 28 there hadn’t been any confirmed illnesses related to the Reilly Craft Creamery ice cream. However, it can take up to 70 days after consuming the pathogen for symptoms of Listeria infection to develop.
The recalled ice cream has lot code #022018-1 and was sold in one-pint containers in the following flavors:
House Made Honey Comb
•Mint Choc Chunk
•Choc Choc Chunk
•Sea Salt Caramel
•Hand-Steeped Coffee
•Single-Batch Strawberry
•Chocolate Deluxe (Vegan)
•Small-Batch Strawberry (Vegan)
•Butter Pecan
•Vanilla Bean
Stores that sold the ice cream include Whole Foods, The Farmers Hand and Western Market. Reilly distributed the ice cream to dozens of retail locations in Detroit and a distributor in Ann Arbor, MI. Reilly’s recall notice did not indicate where the distribution company sent the ice cream.
In a statement on the company website, Reilly said he has also closed his soft serve ice cream operation in Detroit because it used the same factory as the recalled pints of ice cream. He told Crain’s Detroit he wants to reopen in the spring, but those odds are low.
“The business is still dealing with recall compliance with the state and U.S. Food and Drug Administration,” according to Crain’s Detroit
Reilly, who had to buy back all of the ice cream from retailers and a distributor, told Crain’s Detroit that the recall bankrupted him.
State inspectors found the Listeria monocytogenes contamination in two flavors of Reilly’s ice cream during routine testing. In a follow-up inspection investigators collected swab samples from equipment and surfaces in the production facility, some of which were positive for the potentially deadly pathogen.
Since his initial recall on Sept. 4, Reilly has complimented and thanked the state inspectors.
“We should all give thanks, too, that our food safety system works so well. MDARD is a shining example of what government can do well,” Reilly says in a statement on his company’s website and Facebook page.
Advice to consumers
Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still cause serious infections. Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical treatment and tell their doctors about the possible Listeria exposure.
Also, anyone who has eaten any of the recalled Reilly ice cream should monitor themselves for symptoms during the coming weeks. Symptoms of Listeria infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache and neck stiffness.
Pregnant women, the elderly, young children and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. High-risk patients can develop life-threatening infections. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, their infections can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth.

Nation's Top Food Safety Law Firm commends FDA's New Transparency Commitment
Source :
By PRESS RELEASE PR Newswire (Oct 1,2018)
Marler Clark, the food safety law firm, commends the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) recent statement committing to disclose retailer information to improve consumer safety. This commitment to transparency is especially important where the source of the specific contaminated product is not easily identifiable to consumers, as in the recent Romaine lettuce E. coli O157:H7 or in the  Pre-cut fruit Salmonella Outbreak. Releasing retailer information increases consumer knowledge for all parts of the supply chain.
Marler Clark represents 100 people sickened in the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak and has represented victims of every major foodborne illness outbreak for the past 25 years. In addition to working with health departments to collect information, Marler Clark conducts its own traceback investigations to help hold companies accountable to providing contaminated food to consumers.
"Greater transparency from the FDA not only increases consumer safety by providing more information to consumers about foods to avoid, it also increases accountability to insure similar outbreaks do not happen again," said Bill Marler, Managing Partner ad Marler Clark.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, has represented thousands of individuals in claims against food companies whose contaminated products have caused life altering injury and even death. Managing partner, Bill Marler began litigating foodborne illness cases in 1993, when he represented Brianne Kiner, the most seriously injured survivor of the historic Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, in her landmark $15.6 million settlement with the company.  For the last 25 years, Marler Clark has represented victims of nearly every large foodborne illness outbreak in the United States, filing lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, Chili's, Chi-Chi's, Chipotle, ConAgra, Dole, Excel, Golden Corral, KFC, McDonald's, Odwalla, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Sizzler, Supervalu, Taco Bell and Wendy's. The firm has secured over $650,000,000 for victims of E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria and other foodborne illnesses.
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Poultry line speed waivers possible if producers meet new criteria
Source :
By Dan Flynn (Oct 1, 2018)
To get a “speed waiver” to run an “evisceration line” at up to 175 birds per minute, rather than the current 140 bpm, is going to require poultry businesses to jump through a few more hoops at USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
While most people don’t have a clue what an “evisceration line” is, it’s speed limit has long been controversial for reasons that are not always clear to outsiders. Worker safety advocates associate the line speed with on-the-job injuries.
But the industry’s National Chicken Council points out the “evisceration line” is “highly automated” and involves removal of the birds’ organs, carcass cleaning, and inspection. Birds are not killed and birds are not cut up for packaging on the line.
And while the National Chicken Council in 2017 unsuccessfully petitioned FSIS to eliminate the speed limit entirely, worker safety advocates wanted it reduced by half.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) studies have found high rates of carpal tunnel syndrome among workers in the poultry industry. NIOSH research found from 34 percent to 42 percent of workers in poultry processing establishments had carpal tunnel syndrome, and 76 percent had evidence of nerve damage in their hands and wrists from repetitive motions.
It’s a controversy that puts FSIS in the middle. In response to previous comments, FSIS said “working conditions in poultry slaughter establishments is an important issue,” but pointed out that’s the job of NIOSH and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
After turning down the National Chicken Council request in early 2018, FSIS said it would keep the speed limits, but offer criteria-based waivers around it
FSIS said to be eligible for a line speed waiver, a young chicken slaughter establishment:
•Must have been operating under the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS) for at least one year, during which time it has been in compliance with all NPIS requirements;
•Must be in Salmonella performance standard category 1 or 2 for young chicken carcasses;
•Must have a demonstrated history of regulatory compliance. More specifically, the establishment has not received a public health alert for the last 120 days, has not had an enforcement action as a result of a Food Safety Assessment conducted in the last 120 days, and has not been the subject of a public health-related enforcement action in the last 120 days; and
•Must be able to demonstrate that the new equipment, technologies, or procedures that allow the establishment to operate at faster line speeds will maintain or improve food safety.
FSIS on Sept 28 published a new rule in the Federal Register that expands that criteria. A speed waiver to 175 birds per minute will be available only if broilers are being slaughtered in compliance with good manufacturing practices, or “in a manner that will result in thorough bleeding of the poultry carcass and will ensure that breathing has stopped before scalding.”
Higher speed limits are not necessarily met when waivers are granted. The 20 chicken plants in the HACCP-Based Inspection Project, or HIMP, that began in 1997 on average achieved 131 bmp. The New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS) was envisioned as a 175 bpm program, but then kept at 140 bpm unless there is a waiver.
For almost 20 years, the 20 former HIMP establishments were authorized to operate at 175 bpm. Consumer advocates argued that created new competitive pressures that could undermine food safety in ways not predictable from currently available date.
“FSIS disagrees that the line speed waivers granted to the former HIMP establishments to operate at line speeds up to 175 bpm after they converted to the NPIS created a new competitive advantage over other NPIS establishments subject to the 140 bpm maximum line speeds prescribed in the final NPIS regulations,” the agency’s Federal Register announcement says. “The 20 former HIIMP young chicken establishments had been authorized to operate at line speeds up to 175 bpm for over 20 years during the time they were participating in the HIMP pilot. Under the final NPIS rule, these establishments were permitted to run at the line speeds that were authorized before FSIS established the NPIS.”
First HIMP and then NPIS are the only poultry inspection modernization changes FSIS has achieved since the 1950s. The National Academy of Sciences called for “fundamental change” in poultry inspection 21 years ago.
“Although FSIS has denied NCC’s request to establish a waiver program to allow young chicken NPIS establishments to operate without line speed limits, the Agency will consider granting individual waivers to allow young chicken establishments that meet the criteria described above to operate at line speeds of up to 175 bpm,” the agency adds.
“Under these criteria, line speed waivers will no longer be limited to the 20 former HIMP establishments, and thus, will be equitably distributed to eligible establishments. Because FSIS is not removing the maximum line speed for all NPIS establishments, FSIS has no reason to believe that granting additional individual waivers will create competitive pressure for establishments to increase line speeds. Establishments will not submit line speed waiver requests if their current line speeds meet their business needs.”
Finally, FSIS says increased line speeds may be permitted for testing improvements in equipment and technology, and it does not believe the regulatory changes put the U.S. poultry industry at any disadvantage with its foreign competition.

Chemotherapy patients are at risk from poor food safety practices at home
Source :
By Ellen W. Evans (Oct 1, 2018)
While chemotherapy is a gruelling form of treatment in itself, the reduced immune system function that it causes can leave patients at risk from pathogens too. These illnesses can be contracted from a range of sources, including food.
We know that people undergoing chemotherapy are at an increased risk of foodborne illness. In fact, food poisoning such as campylobacteriosis, listeriosis and salmonellosis are common among cancer patients.
However, our research has found that chemotherapy patients may not be aware of the additional risks that foodborne bacteria present. While anyone can have food poisoning, those who are undergoing chemotherapy treatment can be made seriously ill simply because the food they are eating isn’t being handled properly. Foodborne infections can cause delays in treatment and potentially increase patient mortality.
To reduce the chance of contracting a foodborne infection it is essential that patients and those caring for them adhere to key food safety practices. As well as sticking to use-by dates, these practices include cleaning hands, surfaces and equipment, cooking foods thoroughly, separating ready-to-eat food from raw food and keeping food at safe refrigeration temperatures.
Our previous research looked specifically at the food safety information which is available to people receiving chemotherapy treatment from NHS hospitals. We found that a clear lack of consistent, correct and credible information on the critical importance of food safety for chemotherapy patients. Exploring the issue further, we have been assessing what people receiving treatment and their families know about food safety and how they implement this knowledge at home.
As described in our recently published research, we found that although people receiving chemotherapy and their families are aware of some food safety practices relating to refrigeration, cooking and cleaning, they are still following potentially unsafe practices when handling and storing food at home.
The study involved 172 people, most of whom had received chemotherapy for treatment of cancer in the past three years. 51 of this number were family members, who had been responsible for preparing food for partners or children during chemotherapy. We found that less than half of the people surveyed had received any information about food safety from healthcare providers. People with neutropenia (an abnormally low level of white blood cells, which fight infections), blood-related cancers, or those that had received a transplant were significantly more likely of receiving information on food safety. We presume this is because they are at an increased risk of infection, but haven’t conducted research with healthcare providers on this point specifically.
Although those that said they had received information were found to be more knowledgeable about food safety, gaps in their awareness and potential food safety malpractices were still reported. In particular, we found that awareness of when to wash hands was very high and hand-washing practices were frequently reported to be implemented in the home. But the reported hand-washing methods were inadequate. Only 58% reportedly rubbed their hands together and between fingers with soap for the recommended 20 seconds when washing.
Most participants also knew of the importance of ensuring fridges were kept at the right temperature (below 5กษ) but only 35% said that they used a thermometer to check their own fridge was correct. Similarly, with cooking, although the chemotherapy patients and family members knew to ensure food was cooked thoroughly, 78% said they never used a meat thermometer to make sure it was done.
We also found a particular issue in relation to raw poultry. Many participants thought that they needed to wash raw poultry (and did so). But washing poultry is a food safety malpractice. Water splashes created when washing raw meat can result in the transfer of pathogens and cause cross-contamination in the kitchen.
Looking to prepackaged foods, we found that up to 40% relied upon, taste, smell or the look of food, rather than following use-by dates. Although food might appear ok, use-by dates are the only reliable way to ensure food safety. These dates are determined by looking at bacteria growth to ensure that dangerous levels are not exceeded between when the product is made and consumed.
We are now looking at how healthcare providers can deliver credible and effective food safety information to those receiving chemotherapy and their families. But what we can tell from our research to date is that people receiving chemotherapy need to be made aware just how critical food safety can be to their health.




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