Global Handwashing Day Provides Inspiration
Source : http://www.qualityassurancemag.com/article/global-handwashing-day-provides-inspiration/
By QA Staff (Oct 15, 2018)
With Monday, October 15 being Global Handwashing Day, it’s a great week to promote handwashing.
With Monday, October 15 being Global Handwashing Day, it’s a great week to promote handwashing in your facility – and community.
Established by the Global Handwashing Partnership in 2008, Global Handwashing Day is celebrated each year as a way to increase awareness and understanding of the benefits of handwashing with soap. Global Handwashing Day is an opportunity to get involved in creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times.
Handwashing is one of the most important steps that can be taken to prevent illness, food contamination and the spreading of germs. Many germs that can make people sick are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. Handwashing is especially important during key times, such as after using the bathroom or before preparing food.
CDC has developed materials to help you and your employees celebrate by:
Learning how to wash hands the right way with these video demonstrations.
Watching a Facebook Live talk on October 15 at 11 AM EDT to learn why hygiene education is so important.
Joining the #HandwashingHeroes social media campaign and sharing a picture of you showing your clean hands.
Sharing handwashing lessons, events, and materials for thousands of students across the state of Georgia, where CDC is based.
Helping promote Global Handwashing Day in your community with CDC resources and materials.
QA Magazine also publishes regular online articles and annual magazine features on handwashing, including the most recent feature on How to Inspire Handwashing.
Employee Management Handwashing
French caviar processor resolves problems with botulism controls
Source : https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/10/french-caviar-processor-resolves-problems-with-botulism-controls/
By News Desk (Oct 15, 2018)
Operators of a caviar processing business in France have corrected food safety problems that U.S. inspectors found earlier this year, according to a close out letter posted by the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent inspectors into the Caviar Petrossian S.A. location in Paris on April 25 and 26. The inspectors found “serious violations” of federal food safety laws. The company responded to the FDA’s concerns in writing on May 4, describing corrective actions, but the U.S. regulatory agency found that response inadequate.
Specifically, the seafood company did not have sufficient temperature monitoring and documentation for its refrigerated vacuum packaged liquid caviar, according to an Aug. 2 warning letter made public in recent days by the FDA.
Provisions in the U.S. Seafood HACCP regulation require companies to ensure proper temperatures are maintained to control Clostridium botulinum growth and toxin formation. The toxin causes botulism poisoning.
“Your corrective actions must ensure adulterated product does not enter commerce. FDA recommends you revise your corrective action to describe the disposition of the affected product, such as: evaluating the cumulative time and temperature exposures for food safety; destroy affected products; or divert the products to a non-food use, in addition to the corrective actions listed in your plan,” the U.S. agency told the French company in the Aug. 2 warning letter.
On Sept. 21, the FDA sent a close out letter to Caviar Petrossian CEO Armen Petrossian.
“Based on our evaluation, it appears you have addressed the violations contained in the Warning Letter. Future FDA inspections and regulatory activities will further assess the adequacy and sustainability of these corrections,” the close out letter states.
“This letter does not relieve you or your firm from the responsibility of taking all necessary steps to assure sustained compliance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and its implementing regulations or with other relevant legal authority.”
Meat sector review identifies areas for improvement
Source : https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/10/meat-sector-review-identifies-areas-for-improvement/
By Joe Whitworth (Oct 15, 2018)
A review of meat processing plants in the United Kingdom following a number of high-profile issues has spurred a series of recommendations to improve the industry.
Suggestions in the draft review will be considered at a meeting by the Boards of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) on Oct. 17.
The UK-wide review of cutting plants and cold stores was launched in February this year after non-compliance issues were identified at some cutting plants during 2017 and early 2018. Industry practices on traceability, durability and authenticity were put under scrutiny.
Incidents involved Russell Hume, a company the FSA said was unable to demonstrate compliance with food hygiene rules and which went into administration earlier this year. Undercover footage in July 2017 of a 2 Sisters Food Group plant released by newspaper The Guardian and broadcaster ITV showed poor food hygiene practices and breaches of food safety legislation.
The 19 recommendations are designed to prioritize food safety and improve industry standards in the meat supply chain. They are spread over short (0-6 months), medium (6-18 months) and longer term (18+ months). For the full list go to page 51 of the draft review.
“Consumers need to see evidence that food businesses are prioritizing food safety as part of their overall management culture which will drive improvements in public confidence in the meat industry,” according to the review.
Some proposals for industry were introducing CCTV at critical points within cutting plants and cold stores, such operators reviewing traceability records to ensure comprehensive supply chain information is available for audit and demonstrating transparency by making information available to regulators such as data from DNA testing for authenticity.
Ideas for regulatory authorities included trialing use of a single organization to deliver all official controls in a geographic location, assess the role of agents and brokers of meat and controls applied at this part of the distribution network and more effective use of data and improved regulatory coordination and consistency.
FSA and FSS said preliminary analysis of the recommendations suggests their financial impact on businesses and regulators would be “minimal”.
Jason Feeney, chief executive of the FSA, said the review followed a series of events over the past 12 months at a number of meat businesses.
“These incidents cast a shadow over the whole sector and not just the businesses directly at fault. This challenged consumer confidence and trust in the industry as a whole. There are good reasons why the meat industry has specific controls in place to protect public health and provide assurance about the authenticity of meat products on the market.”
Geoff Ogle, chief executive of FSS, said the review was essential to ensure the public has confidence in the safety of the UK meat industry.
“The majority of our meat sector acts responsibly ensuring food safety compliance across their process, and it is important that the actions of a minority do not damage the reputation of the whole sector. The input of industry bodies in this review has been, and will continue to be, paramount…,” he said.
Ogle said after agreement on the next steps it will deliver the improvements identified.
“All decisions and actions will continue to be taken in the best interests of consumers and will be based on the evidence base and expert scientific advice. We all have a part to play in ensuring the safety of our meat and meat products.”
Meanwhile, a UK trade union has claimed victory after the FSA ended a four-year recruitment freeze on meat hygiene inspectors.
Unison ran a petition demanding the agency end the hiring freeze which was signed by more than 104,000 people. FSA directors agreed to fund 36 permanent executive officer grade posts in field operations. Recruitment will start in the coming weeks, with new employees taking up their posts as soon as they’ve been trained.
“This has been a long and dedicated campaign and we’re delighted the FSA has seen sense and has proven that it values the role meat inspectors play in protecting the public. Unison will be working with the FSA to make sure it sticks to its promises, making sure the new posts live up to expectations,” said Unison national officer Paul Bell.
The union previously raised concerns about safety in the meat industry and the need for more inspectors. It said there must be a permanent independent inspection presence in every slaughterhouse to prevent a culture of complacency in food hygiene.
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Antibiotic-Free Production and Broiler Chicken Meat Safety
Source : https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/octobernovember-2018/antibiotic-free-production-and-broiler-chicken-meat-safety/
By Dianna V. Bourassa, Ph.D., and Kim M. Wilson, Ph.D.
Antibiotic-Free Production and Broiler Chicken Meat Safety
There is a significant amount of research regarding the potential impact of the use of antibiotics in animal feeds on the occurrence of antibiotic resistance. However, there is little information on how the use of antibiotic-free production systems impacts the levels and prevalence of foodborne pathogens on raw meat products.
For many years, poultry feeds have contained subtherapeutic levels of antibiotics, known as antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs), to maximize the growth potential of broiler chickens. With increasing concerns regarding antibiotic resistance, the use of antibiotics in chicken feed has decreased. Antibiotic use in poultry feed can be divided into three general categories: no antibiotics ever (NAE), reduced use, or full spectrum. The NAE category applies to birds that have never been fed any antibiotic during their lifetime, including those that are medically important and those that are not used in human medicine. The reduced-use antibiotic category does not allow the use of medically important antibiotics but does allow the use of antibiotics not used in human medicine. Full spectrum allows any U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved antibiotic to be used in chicken feed. In 2017, 40 percent of broiler chicken feed was provided to chickens raised with NAE. This was increased from 20 percent in 2016. Reduced antibiotic-use feeds increased from 18 to 29 percent and full-spectrum feeds decreased from 28 to 12 percent.
Impacts of NAE Production
Changes in the use of antibiotics in poultry feeds can have major impacts on gut health, specifically with regards to coccidiosis and necrotic enteritis. Coccidiosis is caused by intestinal infection of coccidia protozoan parasites (Eimeria), which are commonly found in fecally contaminated environments, such as chicken growout houses. Infections can cause varying degrees of inflammation, bleeding in the intestine, and damage to epithelial cells. A more severe infection has been associated with increases in Salmonella susceptibility. Since the 1970s, coccidiosis has been controlled through the use of ionophores. Although ionophores are not used in human medicine, they are classified as antibiotics and are thus not used in NAE feeds. Non-antibiotic-classified compounds or coccidia vaccines are now being used in place of ionophores to control infection in NAE birds. Some of the FDA-approved compounds used to treat coccidiosis can include arsenic-based compounds.4 While arsenic-based compounds have been shown to decrease the incidence of Salmonella shedding in chickens,5 there is some concern about potential presence of arsenic in meat. Live coccidial vaccines have been in greater use to manage coccidiosis in the U.S.; however, this may be a challenge in food animals without antibiotics. Breakouts of Eimeria, even at low levels, can cause varying degrees of intestinal damage. It has been suggested that with increased intestinal damage, antibiotic-free birds could be more likely to become susceptible to necrotic enteritis, which occurs typically as a secondary infection of the intestinal epithelium with Clostridium perfringens. C. perfringens is commonly found in healthy animals and proliferates in the intestine upward of 10 bacteria per gram of gut content. Although other predisposing conditions can occur, such as issues with diet formulation [large amounts of animal-origin protein or nonstarch polysaccharide (NSP) cereal base without enzymes to break down NSP], changes in the immune status caused by mycotoxins, or viral disease, the most common predisposing factor is coccidiosis. During coccidiosis infection, lesions are formed in the intestine, creating a suitable environment for C. perfringens to proliferate and produce toxins. This secondary infection further damages the intestine, leading to necrosis. Necrotic enteritis induced by coccidiosis can reduce short-term and overall body weight gain compared with healthy birds, limits digestion potential, and increases body-weight variability through market age. The implications of decreased uniformity within a flock due to necrotic enteritis and therefore carcass variability become important for mechanical efficiency during processing. Some work has been done assessing the presence of foodborne pathogens including Salmonella and Campylobacter in the intestines of broilers provided feed with or without antibiotics. A study looking at the presence or absence of bacitracin dimethyl salicylate (BMD) found no differences in cecal Salmonella or ileal Campylobacter prevalence but observed less ileal Salmonella and more cecal Campylobacter at processing age from birds fed with BMD antibiotic added.
Alternative feed ingredients such as prebiotics and probiotics are being used as replacements for antibiotics. Prebiotics are feed ingredients that cannot be digested by the bird but instead selectively stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria, thus improving bird health. Some of these include nondigestible oligosaccharides (manno-, fructo-, and galacto-oligosaccharides; MOS, FOS, GOS). The beneficial bacteria selected for stimulated growth or activity include Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus spp., which fall into the category of lactic acid-producing bacteria (LAB). Prebiotics such as MOS can work by blocking binding sites on the intestinal epithelium for pathogens, including Salmonella Typhimurium. Feed additives such as organic acids, inorganic acids, fermentation products, essential oils, and plant extracts can also be added to the diet and/or drinking water to reduce pathogens, including Salmonella. Probiotics, or direct-fed microbials (DFMs), on the other hand, are defined as live microbial feed supplements, which can benefit the bird by improving intestinal microbial balance. Common DFMs include combinations of LABs including Lactobacillus and Bacillus strains with particular lines of species that have been shown to reduce pathogens and potentially improve growth. Probiotics not only affect the bacteria in the intestine but also benefit the bird by regulating the immune response[15,16] and enhancing intestinal integrity. Regulating the bird immune response, including inflammation, is a critical energetic cost to the bird. Currently, the precise modes of action of probiotics are not clear due to the complexity of the bacteria within the gut and a knowledge gap on chicken-microbe relationships. Without understanding the microbial community in the chicken and taking into account the flock-to-flock variability, probiotic administration will remain inconsistent, and breakouts of intestinal disease affecting the final product will continue.
Links between Animal Health and Food Safety
The inclusion of AGPs in feed typically results in the modulation of the intestinal microbial community present, including the suppression of bacterial pathogens, although the mechanisms by which they work are not completely clear. More importantly, AGPs reduce intestinal disease severity, thus decreasing mortality, while improving feed conversion. In the absence or reduction of antibiotic use, there is a pressing need to better understand the role of bacteria in the intestine as they promote health and overall performance. A meta-analysis showed that the need to use AGPs is reduced when nutrition, housing, and hygiene/biosecurity are optimized. Intestinal health has been of increased interest as poultry nutritionists, veterinarians, and producers have attempted to implement new approaches to be better equipped for the changes in live production practices. Although withdrawing AGPs may reduce the risk of creating on-farm antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the use of therapeutic antibiotics increased during the first year after AGPs were banned in Denmark. Early intestinal development is more critical than ever as a growth promotion method with the future discontinued use of antibiotics. During the first week of life, the gut tissues undergo rapid development, increasing the surface area necessary for optimal absorption of nutrients. Intestinal improvements can be seen as increased villus length and lamina propria thickness. If villus growth is impaired during the first 2 weeks of life, this can lead to a permanent limited digestive capacity, reducing growth potential. The early intestinal environment is aerobic, lacks diversity, and contains mostly facultative anaerobic bacteria including enteric bacteria (e.g., Salmonella, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella) as well as Lactobacillus. Over the course of the first few days, bacterial density increases upward to 1011 bacteria per gram of gut content and includes strict anaerobic bacteria (e.g., Clostridium) and different defined communities in each section of the gut. The microbiome of an animal varies in both the density and species as well as in different sections of the intestine. The intestine at an early age is easily susceptible to disease since there is limited colonization resistance, and typically develops as an animal ages. The balance between bird, intestinal bacteria, and the environment is quite delicate, and imbalance can lead to impairments such as an overgrowth of nonspecific intestinal bacteria, leading to enteritis. Intestinal ballooning causing poor gut integrity and malabsorption can lead to wet litter and poor growth. Both poor gut integrity and wet litter can impact processing efficiency and presence of foodborne pathogens on processed
Impact of Intestinal Integrity on Food Safety
Bird health has a significant impact on processing factors directly relating to food safety. For example, broilers with airsacculitis have increased fecal contamination and increased cuts or tears of the digestive tract during processing (Figures 1 and 2). This is thought to be due to variability in bird size due to some birds not being as healthy as others. This size variability becomes a problem because of the high levels of automation necessary during commercial poultry processing. Each piece of equipment is adjusted to operate based on a specific bird size. When birds with smaller or larger body weights enter the equipment, processes such as opening of the body cavity, viscera pack removal, and crop removal become less efficient and can lead to unintended cutting or tearing of viscera. This allows for intestinal contents, which can contain high levels of foodborne pathogens, to come into contact with carcasses on the processing line. In short, bird health impacts flock uniformity, which then leads to potential impacts on food safety.
There are few comparisons between raw products from chickens fed NAE and conventionally raised birds. When retail chicken breasts were sampled for Salmonella, Campylobacter, and coliforms, no differences in prevalence or antibiotic resistances were observed between organic, antibiotic-free, or conventional products (Figure 3). However, in this study, chicken was purchased at a retail market from a variety of sources. In another study where chickens were all processed at the same plant, Salmonella was isolated more frequently from antibiotic-free chicken than conventionally raised birds. A more comprehensive analysis of the impact of NAE programs on the presence of Salmonella and Campylobacter on ready-to-cook poultry meat could potentially be done by assessing regulatory results from both NAE and conventional programs.
To minimize potential negative food safety impacts of antibiotic-free programs on ready-to-cook poultry products, poultry producers are working toward enhancing and maintaining optimum bird health.
Dianna V. Bourassa, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor/Extension Specialist in poultry processing in the Department of Poultry Science at Auburn University.
Kim M. Wilson, Ph.D., recently completed her doctoral degree at Ohio State University.
2. Volkova, VV, et al. 2011. “Associations between Vaccinations against Protozoal and Viral Infections and Salmonella in Broiler Flocks.” Epidemiol Infect 139:206–215.
3. Hofacre, CL, et al. 2018. “An Optimist’s View on Limiting Necrotic Enteritis and Maintaining Broiler Gut Health and Performance in Today’s Marketing, Food Safety, and Regulatory Climate.” Poult Sci 97:1929–1933.
4. Nachman, KE, et al. 2013. “Roxarsone, Inorganic Arsenic, and Other Arsenic Species in Chicken: A U.S.-Based Market Basket Sample.” Env Health Persp 121:818–824.
5. Hofacre, CL, et al. 2007. “Use of Bacitracin and Roxarsone to Reduce Salmonella Heidelberg Shedding Following a Necrotic Enteritis Challenge Model.” J Appl Poult Res 16:275–279.
6. Prescott, JF, et al. 2016. “Experimental Reproduction of Necrotic Enteritis in Chickens: A Review.” Avian Path 45:317–322.
7. Antonissen, G, et al. 2015. “Fumonisins Affect the Intestinal Microbial Homeostasis in Broiler Chickens, Predisposing to Necrotic Enteritis.” Vet Res 46:98.
8. Van Immerseel, F, et al. 2004. “Clostridium perfringens in Poultry: An Emerging Threat for Animal and Public Health.” Avian Path 33:537–549.
9. Wilson, KM, et al. “Comparison of Multiple Methods for Induction of Necrotic Enteritis in Broilers.” J Appl Poul Res in press.
10. Kumar, S, et al. 2018. “Effect of Antibiotic Withdrawal in Feed on Chicken Gut Microbial Dynamics, Immunity, Growth Performance and Prevalence of Foodborne Pathogens.” PLOS ONE 13(2):e0192450.
11. Spring, P, et al. 2000. “The Effects of Dietary Mannaoligosaccharides on Cecal Parameters and the Concentrations of Enteric Bacteria in the Ceca of Salmonella-Challenged Broiler Chicks.” Poult Sci 79:205–211.
12. Cerisuelo, A, et al. 2014. “The Impact of a Specific Blend of Essential Oil Components and Sodium Butyrate in Feed on Growth Performance and Salmonella Counts in Experimentally Challenged Broilers.” Poult Sci 93: 599–606.
13. Fuller, R. 1989. “Probiotics in Man and Animals.” J Appl Bacteriol 66:365–378.
14. Caly, DL, et al. 2015. “Alternatives to Antibiotics to Prevent Necrotic Enteritis in Broiler Chickens: A Microbiologist’s Perspective.” Front Microbiol 6:1336.
15. Lyte, M. 2011. “Probiotics Function Mechanistically as Delivery Vehicles for Neuroactive Compounds: Microbial Endocrinology in the Design and Use of Probiotics.” Bioessays 33:574–581.
16. Vanderpool, C, et al. 2008. “Mechanisms of Probiotic Action: Implications for Therapeutic Applications in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.” Inflamm Bowel Dis 14:1585–1596.
17. Butaye, P, et al. 2003. “Antimicrobial Growth Promoters Used in Animal Feed: Effects of Less Well Known Antibiotics on Gram-Positive Bacteria.” Clin Microbiol Rev 16:175–188.
18. Dibner, JJ and JD Richards. 2005. “Antibiotic Growth Promoters in Agriculture: History and Mode of Action.” Poult Sci 84:634–643.
19. Jensen, HH and DJ Hayes. 2014. “Impact of Denmark’s Ban on Antimicrobials for Growth Promotion.” Curr Opin Microbiol 19:30–36.
20. Yu, Q, et al. 2012. “Lactobacillus amylophilus D14 Protects Tight Junction from Enteropathogenic Bacteria Damage in Caco-2 Cells.” J Dairy Sci 95:5580–5587.
21. Solis de los Santos, F, et al. 2007. “Gastrointestinal Maturation Is Accelerated in Turkey Poults Supplemented with a Mannan-Oligosaccharide Yeast Extract (Alphamune).” Poult Sci 86:921–930.
22. Kamada, N, et al. 2013. “Control of Pathogens and Pathobionts by the Gut Microbiota.” Nat Immuno 14:685–690.
23. Teirlynck, E, et al. 2011. “Morphometric Evaluation of ‘Dysbacteriosis’ in Broilers.” Avian Path 40:139–144.
24. Russell, SM. 2003. “The Effect of Airsacculitis on Bird Weights, Uniformity, Fecal Contamination, Processing Errors, and Populations of Campylobacter spp. and Escherichia coli.” Poult Sci 82:1326–1331.
25. Mollenkopf, DF, et al. 2014. “Organic or Antibiotic-Free Labeling Does Not Impact the Recovery of Enteric Pathogens and Antimicrobial-Resistant Escherichia coli from Fresh Retail Chicken.” Foodborne Pathog Dis 11:920–929.
26. Park, JH, et al. 2017. “Comparison of the Isolation Rates and Characteristics of Salmonella Isolated from Antibiotic-Free and Conventional Chicken Meat Samples.” Poult Sci 96:2831–2838.
One Death Linked to Contaminated Deli Ham Listeria Outbreak
Source : https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/news/one-death-linked-to-contaminated-deli-ham-listeria-outbreak/
By Staff (Oct 10, 2018)
One Death Linked to Contaminated Deli Ham Listeria Outbreak
One death has been attributed to a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to Smithfield, NC-based Johnston County Hams. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) announced last week a recall of 89,096 (44 tons) of ready-to-eat ham products that may be contaminated. The ham products affected include various boneless and fully-cooked deli ham selections.
On September 27, USDA FSIS learned that one person who contracted listeriosis had consumed a ham product produced by Johnston County Hams. After that, an investigation ensued with the help of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and various state public health and agriculture partners. That epidemiological investigation led officials to believe that Johnston County Hams was linked to a total of four confirmed Listeria illnesses. The illnesses and the one death occurred between July 8, 2018 and August 11, 2018.
USDA FSIS sampled two deli ham products from the Johnston County Hams plant in 2016 and again in early 2018. Whole genome sequencing results showed that Listeria monocytogenes identified in deli ham both years was closely related genetically to Listeria monocytogenes from ill people.
FSIS is concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase. The partnering agencies are continuing to work together to determine if there are additional illnesses linked to Johnston County Hams.
Canada’s top food safety agency reports on strategic progress
Source : https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/10/canadas-top-food-safety-agency-reports-on-strategic-progress/
By News Desk (Oct 15, 2018)
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is out with a progress report on the strategic framework it launched last year known as “Responding to Today, Building for the Future” (RTBF).
“At that time, we promised to keep our staff, as well as our partners, engaged and informed of the changes and progress we are making to improve how we do business,” according to a statement from CFIA President President Paul Glover and Executive Vice President France Pégeot.
“We are proud of the significant work that has taken place across the Agency over the last year – from our core focus on food safety, animal health, plant protection and international market access, to the steps we have taken to innovate and better position ourselves for the future,” they added.
The progress report says that during a time of change for risks to food safety and animal and plant resources, CFIA “should be extremely pround of how far we’ve come.”
“It’s been a monumental year in many ways with several key strategic initiatives coming to fruition – from publishing the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) that come into force in January 2019, to moving from theory to practice with incremental implementation of the Establishment-based Risk Assessment (ERA) Model, to releasing a growing number of online services for industry through My CFIA,” the report continues.
“We also tested new inspection procedures in hog slaughter establishments in two facilities in Alberta and rolled out the first wave of new digital devices for employees across the country, to help them work more efficiently and effectively.”
CFIA also reports making these changes to it governance and organizational structures:
establishing the Strategic Priorities Oversight Committee where senior management can make decisions on how initiatives move forward based on readiness and capacity for change;
creating a new International Affairs Branch to bring focus and accountability to international activities within CFIA and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), in an effort to better advance the Government’s market access and trade agenda;
creating the new Innovation, Business and Service Development Branch focused on future design and implementation of business development, services and technology with a dedicated team (known as the i-Zone) that promotes a culture of innovation that challenges the status quo; and
starting up Business Line Management Boards for food, plant and animal to enhance and integrate risk based planning and resource optimization across the Agency
“Last year, our goal was to advance the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), a shift that would see us move from 14 sets of commodity-specific regulations to one comprehensive set of regulations that are outcome-based,” the report adds.
“This was an ambitious goal for the organization, one we had been working toward for many years. We are proud to say that we accomplished it.”
CFIA’s additional accomplishments during the past year include:
Establishment-Based Risk Assessment (ERA) Model and ERA-Hatchery Model Data Collection
Data was collected from federally regulated establishments and inspectors for dairy, meat/poultry and maple. Data collection started for additional food commodities including fish and seafood, honey, and egg products.
Data was collected from federally regulated hatcheries.
ERA Results Integration
Analyzed results from dairy and meat/poultry.
Analysis started in maple and hatchery sectors.
Set up a task force to integrate all commodity results into program and operational planning.
Adapting the ERA algorithm for an Importer Risk Assessment Model.
Canadian Food Safety Information Network (CFSIN)
Formally initiated the development of the CFSIN technical solution.
Signed three data sharing arrangements with Ontario, Alberta and Nunavut.
Finalized a common CFSIN data dictionary and identified a common food classification system.
Developed an inventory of environmental scanning and intelligence activities.
The Canadian government’s plans for the next three years include:
Establishment-Based Risk Assessment (ERA) Model
Develop an algorithm for an ERA-Feed Model.
Use results of the ERA-Feed Model to take a systematic, evidence-based approach to assess the level of risk associated with feed establishments.
Integrate establishment data online through My CFIA/ Digital Service Delivery Platform (DSDP).
Use ERA results to inform compliance verification frequency for all food commodities based on food safety risks.
Use ERA-Hatchery results to inform compliance verification frequency Canadian.
Food Safety Information Network (CFSIN)
Release the CFSIN platform and focus on on boarding, supporting, and developing the network with food safety partners.
Create a strategy to engage with the food industry and academia to grow the network.
Develop a shared Pan-Canadian approach to federal, provincial and territorial food surveillance activities.
5 Pro Tips for Food Safety
Source : https://www.newsanyway.com/2018/10/10/5-pro-tips-for-food-safety/
By ELLIOT PREECE (Oct 10, 2018)
For anyone that is in the food service industry or simply prepare meals at home, making sure that all people that eat the food are safe is very important. To do this, there are a variety of food safety tips that should be followed.
Keep it Clean
If you are going to prepare and handle food, you always need to make sure that you are as clean and sanitary as possible. Whenever you are going to prepare food, you will want to make sure that you are going to clean your hands, all plates, and other utensils as much as possible. If you are going to be preparing produce or other items that will not be cooked, you should also make sure they are rinsed free of any chemicals.
Be Wary of Raw Meat
Having meat is very common with any meal as it can provide you with a great sense of protein. When you are looking to handle meat, it is important that you are very wary of the use of it. Most importantly, you need to make sure that you are very careful when it comes to raw meat. This includes making sure that you properly clean any plates, utensils, or gloves that were used to handle the raw meat. You should also always avoid having the raw meat touch the countertops of your kitchen.
Know Key Temperatures
If you are going to be making any type of meat, you will want to make sure that it is properly cooked. If you do not hit the ideal temperature points with your meat, it will likely result in the food not being cooked enough. This could then lead to an illness for anyone that consumes it. Some of the key temperatures to know include 160 degrees for beef, 170 degrees for chicken and pork, and 180 degrees for turkey. The temperature should be taken from the center of the meat to ensure it is cooked all the way through.
When you are preparing a meal, you should also make sure that you stay on top of the two-hour rule. During meal preparation, there are bound to be times in which meat or dairy products will be outside of the fridge or freezer. However, you should always make sure that this time period is limited. In no event should you use any meat or dairy that has been outside of the fridge or freezer for more than two hours at a time. This will ensure the food continues to be safe to enjoy.
Ultimately, if you want people to know how to handle food, they will need to get the proper training. Through a Utah food handler training program or other type of program, all participants will learn more about food training. This will include learning how to handle food during food preparation, how to identify issue with common foods that you will be preparing, and all rules and regulations that dictate how a kitchen and meal preparation will be handled.
Trimble Leverages SmartSense for Food Safety Systems
Source : https://www.iotevolutionworld.com/smart-transport/articles/439849-trimble-leverages-smartsense-food-safety-systems.htm
By Ken Briodagh (Oct 10, 2018)
In a recent release, SmartSense by Digi, a division of Digi International, a company fielding IoT-based condition monitoring solutions, has announced that Trimble is integrating SmartSense continuous temperature monitoring for food safety systems to provide remote, real-time temperature data for its data aggregation and supply chain analytics platform.
With this integration, users will have access to data aggregation via a single analytics platform providing a unified display of information from varied sources across multiple applications and environments.
“Our clients have the expectation that they will be able to view all of their cold chain data through a single pane of glass, and we realized that we weren't able to meet that expectation without supplying temperature data,” said Joe DeBoth, SVP and GM, Trimble Transportation Visibility. “With SmartSense by Digi's cold chain monitoring solution and expertise, we were able to easily pull reliable data into our aggregation platform to offer real-time analysis and actionable insights.”
This collaboration with SmartSense will operate with the goal of establishing an end-to-end integration flow of data by placing temperature sensors and cellular gateways on fleets of vehicles to collect and transmit information, making real-time temperature analytics available in Trimble's freight portal for the first time. Many of Trimble's wide range of users have a vested interest in ensuring that their goods maintain proper temperature in transit, be it to prevent food-borne illness, vaccine spoilage, or otherwise potentially dangerous situations regarding their products. As companies suffer damage to their brands following these types of mishaps, more organizations will require complete visibility into the level of care their products receive in transit.
“We collaborated with Trimble to create real-time shipment visibility that offers rich temperature control tracking and predictive analytics to perishable goods shippers and transportation providers,” said Kevin C. Riley, SVP and COO, Digi International. “This enterprise integration effort with Trimble allows us to expand the SmartSense brand by offering our temperature monitoring expertise to a major player in the supply chain data and analytics space.”
Many consumers don’t trust industry food safety efforts
Source : https://www.thepacker.com/article/many-consumers-dont-trust-industry-food-safety-efforts
By Tom Karst (Oct 10, 2018)
Perception is reality and a new survey from food and marketing agency Charleston Orwig found that more than a quarter of consumers said they do not trust the vigilance of the food industry’s safety efforts.
In a blog post called “Food Safety in America - Time to Bolster Consumer Confidence,” the agency reported a survey of 500 consumers found:
When asked if they trusted the food industry for safe food, 48% said they do trust the food industry and 27% said they did not;
More than 77% of consumers say that cooking a meal in their own kitchens is the best way to ensure it is safe to eat;
Restaurants were deemed the second safest, with more than 59% of consumers considering this to be a reliable option;
Just 29% of respondents consider food trucks or public vendors safe and almost 42% considering this option potentially unsafe;
Asked to compare food safety now versus a decade ago, about 35% of consumer said food is safer and 32% said it was less safe;
The survey said 59% of consumers said they assume food from individual farmers, food manufacturers or restaurants is safe if they have not heard about a specific problem;
The survey said that having had a food-borne illness did not make a person think food was less safe than participants overall;
49% of consumers said grains, beans and pasta are the safest foods, followed by fresh fruits and vegetables at 42%;
Leafy greens and lettuce were tied with processed food as the next category of highest concern with 45% of consumers rating them risky, according to the survey; and
55% say meat and poultry are the riskiest to eat; the blog post speculated the divide could be tied to people’s overall perception of what makes up a healthy diet.
TK: As the Charleston Orwig blog post concludes, the industry needs to do a better job of communicating their food safety efforts to consumers. An unanswered question in this discussion is how consumer doubts about food safety reduce consumption.
On a related note, check out Farm Journal’s effort to build “Trust in Food” at this link.
JBS Ground Beef Salmonella Outbreak: Recall Expands, Distribution List Published
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2018/jbs-ground-beef-salmonella-outbreak-recall-expands/
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's Food Safety Blockchain Picks Up Steam
Source : https://www.fool.com/investing/2018/10/10/ibms-food-safety-blockchain-picks-up-steam.aspx
By Timothy Green Timothy Green (Oct 10, 2018)
Walmart isn't the only company interested in Big Blue's blockchain tech.
There has been no shortage of hype surrounding blockchain over the past few years. It's the latest "change the world" technology, and people tend to get excited about those. But beyond trials, tests, cryptocurrency, and start-ups, successful real-world applications of the technology have been few and far between.
One company that has found success turning blockchain into a real business is International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM). IBM is trying to apply blockchain to many different areas and industries, but food safety is perhaps the most notable so far. IBM's Food Trust blockchain platform is now generally available, and the company has added a handful of new partners on top of Walmart, which committed to the platform last month.
What is IBM Food Trust?
IBM Food Trust is a blockchain-based cloud platform that allows food to be traced throughout the supply chain. The goal is to provide greater traceability, transparency, and efficiency, according to IBM.
The platform is capable of reducing the time it takes to trace the origin of contaminated food. It can take days or weeks to determine the source of a food-borne illness outbreak today. With IBM Food Trust, the source of the outbreak can be traced in seconds, potentially reducing the number of people affected. The platform can also be useful in maximizing shelf life and reducing spoilage losses.
Adding to the network
Walmart was the first major company to announce its intention to adopt IBM Food Trust in a significant way. The retailer is requiring suppliers of leafy greens to adopt the platform by Jan. 31, 2019, and it plans to expand that requirement to other suppliers over the next year. With Walmart being the leading grocery seller in the U.S., that news was a huge win for IBM's blockchain efforts.
IBM announced on Oct. 8 both the general availability of IBM Food Trust and the addition of a handful of other partners. Most notable was Carrefour, the French multinational retailer with more than 12,000 stores. Carrefour will use IBM Food Trust for some of its private-label products initially, with plans to expand to all its brands by 2022.
Topco Associates, a cooperative spanning 49 members, 15,000 stores, and 65 million weekly customers, has also joined IBM Food Trust. Wakefern, a 50-member cooperate with 349 stores, and suppliers including BeefChain and Smithfield have also committed to the platform.
Other companies are developing hardware and software for the IBM Food Trust ecosystem. 3M is working to allow its food-safety diagnostic equipment to communicate with the blockchain platform; Centricity offers solutions that make collecting, protecting, and sharing agronomic and compliance data simple, and Emerson is providing temperature-related information on in-transit cargo to improve shelf-life estimates.
Two die because of reactions to undeclared allergen ingredients
Source : https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/10/two-die-because-of-reactions-to-undeclared-allergen-ingredients/
By Joe Whitworth (Oct 10, 2018)
Two people in England died after having allergic reactions linked to eating at Pret A Manger in different incidents.
Celia Marsh, 42, from Wiltshire, died in December 2017 after eating a “super-veg rainbow flatbread” which should have been dairy free.
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, died after eating a baguette from the sandwich chain in July 2016. She had a sesame allergy and the product was not listed with allergen information.
Regulation (2014) states that food businesses that sell freshly handmade, non-pre-packaged food do not have to individual label products and can provide allergy information in writing or verbally.
The Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) called for a change of culture in businesses, regulation and enforcement.
Sterling Crew, chair of IFST’s food safety group, said: “I believe when businesses are fully complying with the regulations, and such tragic cases still occur, the law needs to be reviewed.”
Food allergens that must be labeled in Europe are celery; cereals with gluten – wheat, rye, barley and oats; crustaceans – prawns, crabs and lobsters; eggs; fish; lupin; milk; mollusks – mussels and oysters; mustard; tree nuts – almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts; peanuts; sesame seeds; soybeans and Sulphur dioxide and Sulphites (if at a concentration of more than ten parts per million).
This differs from the United States were only eight foods are identified by law: milk; eggs; fish; crustacean shellfish; tree nuts; peanuts; wheat and soybeans.
Dairy in dairy-free yogurt
In the case of Celia Marsh, Pret said it was mis-sold a dairy-free yoghurt which was found to contain dairy protein. However, the firm that sold the yoghurt said the claims were “unfounded”.
Pret said testing of the dairy-free yoghurt supplied by Coyo contained traces of dairy protein. The chain has terminated its relationship with Coyo and is taking legal action.
Coyo recalled dairy-free coconut yoghurts in February this year as they contained traces of dairy but said this was not related to the Pret allergy death.
“The dairy-free product we provided to Pret in December 2017, at the time of this tragedy, is not linked to the product we recalled in February 2018. The product recalled in 2018 was made with a contaminated raw material that was only supplied to us in January 2018,” the firm said in a statement.
“In February 2018…we issued a precautionary product recall after trace amounts of dairy ingredients were identified in materials used to make our product. This contamination was traced to a third-party supplier who we no longer work with. We urge all parties to work together, and not to speculate on the cause of this tragic death which is unknown as far as we are aware and is still being investigated by the coroner’s court.”
Sesame allergic reaction
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died following a severe allergic reaction to sesame after eating a baguette from Pret A Manger at Heathrow airport prior to boarding a British Airways flight for Nice, France. Sesame seeds had been baked into the dough.
Although her father administered adrenaline auto injectors that Natasha carried, she suffered cardiac arrest and died later the same day.
The Anaphylaxis Campaign, which supports people at risk of severe allergies, said it would back the recommendation made by the coroner to review the food information regulations on the labeling of pre-packaged food made on site for direct sale.
“We hope the review will cover all food business that sell food that has been prepared and packed on the same premises from which they are being sold, irrespective of the size of the business,” said the charity.
Clive Schlee, CEO of Pret, said it will start trialing new labels which show ingredients, including allergens, on packaging from next month before rolling this out to all UK shops.
“Pret is also committed to working with others, including the government, regulatory authorities, charity groups and industry peers to secure legislative changes to better protect people with allergies.”
Other changes include allergen warning stickers on all freshly made products, additional allergen warning signs displayed in shops and full ingredient information, including allergens, for all products available online and in shops.
A food safety lawyer at Leigh Day representing the family of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse joined calls for a ‘Natasha’s Law’ to force companies to label foods containing allergens.
Tina Patel said current laws are leaving consumers exposed to potential safety issues.
“We live busy lives, often grabbing food on the go, those who have food allergies need full protection which the current food regulations, which allow a company such as Pret, which sells 218 million items a year and is worth £1.5 billion ($1.9 billion) to operate in the same way as a small single-store sandwich shop, do not provide,” she said.
Patel said retailers need to take on a greater responsibility in ensuring the food they sell clearly displays all allergen information.
“The only way to ensure food retailers do this is to make it mandatory – this means the current food regulations need to be amended to compel them to do so. The onus should not be on the consumer to hunt for allergy information,” she said.
“There then needs to be a greater deterrent for non-compliant retailer. Currently penalties can be limited to a £5,000 fine ($6,500) which would not even amount to a slap on the wrist for multi-national food business operators who do not comply.”
Food banks across the country increasingly focusing on food safety
Source : https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/10/food-banks-across-the-country-increasingly-focusing-on-food-safety/
By Cookson Beecher (Oct 9, 2018)
We get our food from all sorts of places — grocery stores, restaurants, farms, relatives, our own gardens — and sometimes community food banks. In each and every case, food safety plays an important part in protecting us from getting sick from contaminated food. But nowhere is that more important than at food banks.
Why food banks? The answer can be seen in who turns to community food banks and pantries for help in obtaining enough food to get through the week or month.
Unlike the general population, people who receive food from such programs include a large proportion of what health officials refer to as vulnerable or high-risk individuals. Some estimate say they account for up to 60 percent of food bank recipients.
Children and the elderly are vulnerable because their immune systems are either not developed enough to protect them from foodborne pathogens or too fragile to offer much protection.
High-risk groups also include sick people and those with immune systems weakened from medical conditions, such as diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, organ transplants, HIV/AIDS, or from receiving chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Add to that group, pregnant women and the malnourished.
In short, these people are more likely to come down with food poisoning if they eat foods containing dangerous bacteria such as E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella or foods containing viruses or parasites such as Cyclospora. Worse yet, they’re the ones likely to suffer the most severe symptoms when they do get sick from these microscopic foodborne pathogens.
The statistics are grim. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevent estimates that each year 48 million people, which is more people than the entire state of California, get sick from a foodborne illness. The CDC estimates 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die.
However, many cases of foodborne illnesses are not reported, with some people mistakenly referring to their gastric distress as “the stomach flu.”
The most common symptoms of food poisoning are an upset stomach, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. It may take hours or days before these symptoms develop.
According to CDC, while most people don’t take long to recover, some people need to be hospitalized, and some foodborne illnesses result in long-term health problems or even death. Infections transmitted by food can result in chronic arthritis, brain and nerve damage, and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which causes kidney failure.
“Our food safety guidelines are very important because the last thing a person coming to a food bank needs is to get sick,” said Julie Humphreys, community relations manager for Second Harvest, a Feeding America member food bank. “We want them to be assured that the food they’re getting is safe. Our job is to handle and provide a basic need and feed people today so they can have a better chance of going forward tomorrow.”
With centers in Spokane and the Tri-Cities in Washington state, Second Harvest provides more than 2.5 million pounds of donated food each month throughout the Inland Northwest, which includes Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. It supplies the food to 250 community food banks/pantries, meal centers, and other programs. The network feeds 55,000 people each week.
Second Harvest enjoys an exemplary reputation for food safety. It has received the highest rating every year for 8 years in a row in its annual audits by AIB International, which focuses on food safety when it comes to food handling and distribution. Each of Second Harvest’s 250 partner agencies, which include member food banks, pantries, and feeding programs, are also audited for such things as cleanliness, food storage, refrigeration and distribution.
“Documentation is an important part of this,” said Humphreys. “We have procedures for all of the food that comes in, goes out, and how it’s managed.
Brandon Fullerton, a grant writer at Helping Hands Food Bank in Sedro-Woolley, WA, said food safety is paramount.
“Our job is to feed people,” he said, “and because many of the people who come to food banks are vulnerable, we could actually get them sick if we don’t pay strict attention to food safety.”
Patti Yount, a volunteer at the Helping Hands Food Bank in Sedro-Woolley can attest to how important food safety is to “the vulnerable.” That’s because she was one of them. Before being diagnosed with cancer in her 70s, she was what she would describe as a “healthy” person. But when she began chemotherapy, her doctor told her not to eat any fresh vegetables or fruits — not even from her own garden — only those that were frozen or canned.
She was also told not to pet any animals or change any kitty litter, and not to come into contact with any feces whether animal or human. She was even told to wear a mask and gloves when changing grandchildren’s diapers.
That advice highlighted just how vulnerable she was to E. coli and other foodborne infections. Yet despite all of the care she took to follow her doctor’s advice, she got an E. coli infection anyway and had to go through additional medical care. They never figured out where she was exposed to the bacteria.
“My immune system was so weak that I couldn’t fend anything off,” she said.
Not surprisingly, she’s passionate about the need for food banks to follow good food-safety practices.
“We have to be twice as careful,” she said.
“You can do what you want at home but if you’re serving the general public and vulnerable people, it’s a different kind of responsibility,”said Mitzi Baum, managing director of Food Safety at Feeding America. “You can’t be too careful.”
Steve Davis, chief operating officer for Harvesters Community Network, which serves a 26-county area of northwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas, agrees.
“What people do at home is their business,” he said.“But it might not be OK when you’re serving vulnerable people, and therein lies the difference.”
The big microscopic 3
Microscopic pathogens can be lurking in all sorts of foods: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and surprising to many, fresh fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens. Here’s a quick rundown of three of them:
E. coli, which is commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms, is associated with undercooked ground beef, typically used for hamburgers; vegetables grown in cow manure or washed in contaminated water or cross-contaminated with already contaminated produce; and milk and fruit juice that hasn’t been pasteurized to kill germs such as E. coli.
Salmonella bacteria typically live in animal and human intestines and are shed through feces (poop). Humans become infected most frequently through contaminated water or food. While it is commonly associated with eggs and poultry, it has also contaminated cucumbers, pistachios, raw tuna, sprouts, fruits, pork, sprouts, vegetables, and even processed foods, such as nut butters, frozen pot pies, chicken nuggets, and stuffed chicken entrees and many other foods.
Listeria bacteria can live in soil, water, dust, animal poop, and other substances. .According to the CDC, Outbreaks of Listeria infections in the 1990s were primarily linked to deli meats and hot dogs. Now, Listeria outbreaks are often linked to dairy products and produce. Investigators have traced recent outbreaks to soft cheeses, celery, sprouts, cantaloupe, and ice cream.
Pregnant women are 10 times more likely than other people to get a Listeria infection. Many times, this leads to a miscarriage.
Bottomline, there are many foods that can cause food poisoning and no one is immune. That’s why it’s so important for food bank managers and volunteers to be diligent about keeping an eye on the food that’s being given out and about keeping foods at proper temperatures. For example, leafy greens, which includes spinach and lettuces that have been cut, need to be kept at 41 degrees F or colder.
The reason for that is that once a leaf has been cut, allowing in bacteria that might be on the uncut greens. If the holding temperature is not cold enough, the bacteria begin to multiply rapidly. This, in turn, leads to the dangerous situation in which the bacteria hangs on tight and can’t be dislodged. No matter how many times you wash it, you can’t remove all of the bacteria.
Volunteers — often called the “lifeblood” of food banks— make up a diverse group. Some are old, some are high school and college students. Some have their Ph.Ds; others never finished high school. Some are business people, community leaders, veterans and even politicians. Many are retired people happy to be helping their community.
Many volunteers come to the job with only a smattering of information about food safety, although they’re usually required to get a food handlers license, which gives them basic information relevant to restaurants.
Go here https://furtherwithfood.org/resources/servsafe-food-handling-guide-for-food-banking/ for information about getting a copy of ServSafe Food Handler Guide for Food Banking. This easy-to-implement program has been tailored to meet the unique needs, quality and spirit of Feeding America’s network of food banks and agencies.
While some volunteers show up on a regular basis, some might show up only once and others only now and then, sometimes with a large gap of time between.
“Volunteers come and go,” said Joe Corby, immediate past executive director of the Association of Food and Drug Officials. “That why there’s such a need for continued food-safety education.”
Harvesters’ COO Davis said his organization makes sure the local food banks and pantries and other feeding programs understand the food safety requirements.
“We give them tools they can use with their volunteers,” he said. “If there are problems, we’ll take the chance to retrain volunteers and help them be successful. We do a lot of point-in-time training.”
He said he believes that food safety has to be part of your DNA and culture.
“Anything you want to be good at, you need to do all the time,” he said.
For older volunteers, it’s hard to throw out produce just because it has come nicks or cuts or mold on it. “Waste not, want not,” was a maxim they grew up with. Sometimes the phrase, “Beggars can’t be choosers” also comes into play.
In fact, many who turn to food banks are people you might know. It could be neighbor or relative who lost a job because of an accident or a cancer diagnosis. Others may be too old to work and yet only get a small Social Security check each month. Others might be homeless, struggling to get back on their feet. Some, in their younger years, were pillars of the community.
And some are employed. In fact, 36 percent of client households served by the Feeding America network have one or more adults working.
“It’s important to serve recipients with respect,” said Harvesters’ Davis. “This is one of the things we talk about a lot with agencies in our network. You wouldn’t want to give food out that you wouldn’t want to eat yourself or serve your family.”
Feeding America’s Baum agreed. “Dignity is always an important issue” she said.
“Making our clients feel respected and at ease,” is how Helping Hands staff member Fullerton put it on his food bank’s website.
Let them know why
Feeding America’s Baum said that telling someone to do something can go in one ear and out the other.
“It works best when people understand why the food safety requirements are so necessary,” she said.
For example, telling someone to throw out a cantaloupe because it’s got nicks or dents or mold on it is one thing. But explaining that because cantaloupes grow on the ground and have a netted exterior, they’re more likely to have bacteria on them. To cut through the exterior can take some of the bacteria or mold into the sweet flesh, where the bacteria will multiply. When that happens, people can get sick, or worse.
In 2011, more than 30 people died from eating cantaloupe contaminated with Listeria.
Berries with mold on them is another example. According to the USDA, in the case of soft foods such as berries, it’s very easy for the roots or tentacles of the mold to penetrate deeper into the food. By the time mold has moved in, other harmful kinds of bacteria associated with food spoiling may have also infiltrated the food.
Then there’s the question of green potatoes. While some people say, they won’t hurt you, others caution that the green, which is a sign that solanine, a toxin, has developed in the potatoes, can be harmful to children and other vulnerable people. Peeling off the green skin won’t remove the solanine in the potato.
“When in doubt, throw it out.” That’s was food-safety experts say when it comes to questionable fruits and vegetables. No need taking the chance of getting someone sick.
So much has changed
AFDO’s Corby remembers that back when he was the director of the Division of Food Safety and Inspection in New York City, food banks were just starting up.
“We had field people go out to the food banks,” he said. “But since then, things have changed. Now everyone relies on the regional food banks to do the food-safety training. New people are coming in all of the time so there’s always a need for continued training.”
He’s also seen some changes in what the food banks are giving out. Whereas in the past, a lot of it was canned foods, now there’s a lot more perishables, including fresh produce.
Second Harvest’s Humphreys can confirm that, saying that 70 percent of the food given out is perishable, including meat, cheese and milk. And almost one half of it is fresh produce.
“It’s a huge portion of what we distribute,” she said.
At Second Harvest, volunteers do about 14 food sorts a week in three-hour shifts. Before each shift, the volunteers watch a food-safety video and also one about who comes to the food banks.
“When you have a vision of the people you’re sorting the food for, you get a good understanding of why food safety is so important,” said Humphreys.
Humphreys also said that volunteers need to know what to look for when sorting produce.
“We manage this with both a video clip and a personal demonstration,” she said. “For example, if a group comes in and we are sorting apples that day, they will watch a video on sorting apples and what to look for in removing the ‘bad’ apple. Then our volunteer supervisors will hold up examples of a good and bad apple. They give a ‘live look’ at an apple that may have a small soft spot, but is perfectly good and also show an apple that is too bruised or moldy to pass on.”
Humphreys said that the overriding marker volunteers are asked to consider is
“Is this piece of fruit or this vegetable one that you would like on your table?”
The unsalvageable produce goes in a bin that is then donated to area hog farms so nothing is wasted.
“We get a significant amount of produce, and we have to work with volunteers to understand what’s good and what’s bad, said Harvesters COO Davis. “It’s takes a lot of work and training and identifying to look for problems. We do a lot of point-in-time training.”
Poster photos worth a thousand words
Davis believes posters showing which produce is good and which should be tossed can be very helpful.
“The value of a poster is that anything visual is easier for people to learn and remember,” he said. “You get a higher level of adoption, especially when there’s a lot of volunteer turnover. Posters make volunteers more comfortable so they’re not as nervous to dispose of bad produce. The posters give them approval to do that.”
“We’re talking about making posters and getting them to food banks and government agencies,” he said. “ What would be ideal is to get the produce industry in on this.”
What about liability?
Under the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, a federal act that blankets all of the states, donors and recipients are protected against lawsuits as long as they’re acting in good faith. Each state also has its own Good Sam act.
Feeding America’s Baum said that the foundation of the Good Samaritan Act is that the donor is protected as long as there is no evidence of malicious intent or gross negligence.
“It wold be up to a court of law to determine whether inadequate adherence to basic food safety principles is consistent with gross negligence and therefore not protected under the Good Samaritan Law,” she said.
She said that in her 22 years of working at the organization, it has never had a complaint regarding a case of foodborne illness associated with products that were distributed by Feeding America or its partner agencies that she’s aware of.
What about the recipients?
The people getting food from the food banks are often the forgotten part of the food chain. Yet even if everything is done right at the food bank, if someone puts a box of food containing meat, eggs, and produce in the car’s trunk and then goes to watch a kids’ soccer game, leaving the car parked in the hot sun, all of the efforts of the food bank can go for naught.
Feeding America’s Baum said she thinks it’s a good idea to hand out information to recipients, pointing out that there are plenty of resources available such as one (www.fightbac.org), highlighting the four core food-safety basics: clean, separate, cook and chill, put out by the Partnership for Food Safety Education. However, she pointed out that this sort of information is only useful if it’s in the appropriate language of the people it’s being given to.
Setting the tone
Feeding America’s Baum said that the most important advice she would give to a community food pantry manager is that she or he needs to be educated in food safety.
“Lead by example,” she said. “If you understand the basic concepts of food safety and discuss them, you will influence the staff and volunteers. Teach them that feeding the public is different than feeding people in their homes; the risks are greater and we must be more diligent that foods are safely handled. Ensure that food safety practices are followed by observing and empowering staff and volunteers with knowledge and information. And don’t just train someone, educate them and train them. If people understand the ‘why’ they will execute the appropriate practices.
“You can’t be in your office all day. You have to be out there because you’re managing people as well as doing administrative work. You need to be providing constructive advice. It’s important for leadership to know they’re setting the tone when it comes to food safety.”
One common theme among food bank recipients is appreciation. It’s what the volunteers and food bank staff members hear on a regular basis. It’s what makes their work so satisfying.
A video shown to volunteers at Second Harvest in Spokane and the Tri-Cities about who gets food from the food banks features Edwin and Debbie, the head of a a multi-generational family that pulled together under one roof to help make ends meet after Edwin, a concrete finisher, had to leave his job because of a disability.
“With me on disability and Debbie working full time and our daughter working, we get so close to getting over the hump, but we just don’t quite get there,” Edwin says in the video. There’d be times that Debbie and I would have to skip meals in order to make sure the grandkids eat every day. Without the food bank and Second Harvest, we’d struggle. We’d have to spend a lot more of what little money we do have on food. The food bank and Second Harvest just supplements us tremendously.”
“It helps us by feeding us food we might not have,” said one of Edwin and Debbie’s grandsons during a food-bank cooking class.
The big food-bank umbrella
In the “food-bank world,” a “food bank” is the term used to describe a large- scale, logistically complex distribution center. On the local level, what most people call a food bank is referred to in the food-bank world as a “partner agency” — a smaller community partner that distributes food directly to the end consumer.
Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief agency and its third largest charity. It oversees a network of more than 200 food banks that feeds more than 46 million people through community food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other community-based agencies. Among the recipients are 12 million children and 7 million seniors.
Thirty-six percent of client households served by the Feeding America network have one or more adults working.
Food banks and partner agencies in the Feeding America network receive funding through many different channels. These include, but are not limited to: foundation and community grants; Feeding America; and donations from individuals, businesses and organizations. The food is donated by grocery stores, food clubs such as Costco and Sam’s Club, food manufacturers, retailers such as Starbucks and Quik Trip, online retailers such as Amazon, retail deliveries such as Instacart and Peapod, restaurants, farmers, the USDA, and individuals.
Community food drives are also an important source of food for food banks. While they might not necessarily bring in a huge volume of food compared to other food sources, they give everyone in the community an opportunity to help their hungry neighbors by donating even one can of food.
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