FoodHACCP Newsletter



Food Safety Job Openings

 

10/18. Specialist- QA - Food Science - Arlington, VA
10/18. FSQ& Regulatory Associate - Sidney, OH
10/18. QATechnician - Lawrenceburg, IN
10/17. FoodQuality Assurance Analyst - Sunnyvale, CA
10/17. FoodSafety Associate - Jonestown, PA
10/17. FoodSafety Auditor - Jacksonville, FL
10/15. FoodSafety Manager - Canton, MI
10/15. FoodSafety Specialist - Buellton, CA
10/15. FoodSafety Specialist - New York, NY

 

10/22 2018 ISSUE:831

 

The key role farm workers play in produce safety
Source : https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/10/the-key-role-farm-workers-play-in-produce-safety/
By Cookson Beecher (Oct 22, 2018)
MOUNT VERNON, WA — They’re out there on the front lines waging a battle against dangerous pathogens that can contaminate your food and make you sick or even kill you. Yet most people don’t even think about them when they buy their food.
Who are these food-safety soldiers? None other than the farmworkers, the people who harvest and pack the fruits and vegetables you buy. Most people don’t see them simply because they’re often working far from towns, cities or major thoroughfares. Instead, they’re out in the fields or in the packing sheds in farm country. No wonder they’re often described as “an invisible workforce.”
But with the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011, agricultural employers realize that their farmworkers need to play an important role in preventing microscopic food pathogens, such as E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria, from contaminating crops.
Along with that, they’re also realizing that the workers need to be trained. Prevention is the name of the game simply because contaminated produce doesn’t look any different from good produce. It isn’t a matter of quickly spotting the problem and throwing the contaminated fruit or vegetables away.
This means, of course, that farmers not only need to provide food-safety training to workers but also provide what’s necessary for them to keep food safe from contamination.
With that in mind, Bri Ewing, a food-science educator, shared information about what’s required of growers during her presentation, “Worker Health, Hygiene and Training,” a module of the Produce Safety Alliance’s standard curriculum. Attending the all-day training course on Oct 16 at the Washington State University Research Center were about 30 growers from northwest Washington State.
The alliance is a collaboration between Cornell University, FDA, and USDA to prepare fresh produce growers to meet the regulatory requirements included in the United States Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.
Training sessions based on the alliance’s standard curriculum will be held all across the nation. Go here for locations, dates and times.
The all-day training course is one way to satisfy the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule requirement that at least one supervisor or responsible party for a farm must have successfully completed food safety training at least equivalent to that received under standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the Food and Drug Administration.
After attending the training course, participants will be eligible to receive a certificate from the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) that verifies they have completed the training course.
The training course includes an overview of the Food Safety Modernization Act, along with modules on farmworkers, soil amendments, agricultural water, post-harvest handling, and sanitation.
Faith Critzer, one of the trainers and the Produce Safety Extension Specialist for Washington state,  said that the Produce Safety Rule was driven by widespread concern over continuing outbreaks of food poisoning caused by raw produce and the need to prevent them. Many of the outbreaks caused serious foodborne illnesses and hospitalizations, and in some cases, even deaths.
The rule establishes, for the first time, science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption.
For the most part, the rule covers produce that is eaten raw and therefore doesn’t go through a “kill step” such as cooking. It doesn’t cover produce that is rarely eaten raw.
Go here to see what produce is covered under the law and what produce isn’t covered.
Go here for information on compliance dates and timelines.
Why workers are key
Ewing explained that the workers are a food-safety concern because they can carry human pathogens such as E. coli and norovirus,. The pathogens can be spread to produce in various ways: through their feces from not washing their hands after using the bathroom, clothing, and footwear that has been contaminated with animal feces, tools and equipment, and illness and injury. They can also be spread through saliva and mucus, and in the case of injuries, through blood.
While human pathogens can be spread in many ways, the most common way is what is referred to as the fecal-oral route. An example of this would be if a farmworker didn’t wash his or her hands after using the toilet and then handled produce, which could contaminate it, thus putting the person eating the raw fruit or vegetable at risk.
Ewing advised growers to start out by identifying potential ways contamination can be caused by workers. From there they should decide on topics to include in a worker-training program. Next is to figure out how to monitor how the facilities, including bathrooms, are to be maintained on the farm. From there, figure out ways to correct any identified problems. And then come up with a plan to keep records on worker health and training.
In other words, have a plan that identifies possible problems and ways to correct them before they happen. And keep records about how to keep track of this.
Keeping records is important because the Produce Safety Rule requires a grower to establish and keep records of training that document required training of personnel, including the date of training, topics covered, and the persons(s) trained.
Farmworkers can be trained to play an important part in preventing foodborne pathogens from contaminating produce. For example, they can learn to identify problems, such as deer or bird droppings in a field, which can contaminate the crop with E. coli. They can also learn how to make sure they don’t cause any contamination. They can do that in a variety of ways, such as washing their hands after using the bathroom before returning to the field, keeping equipment clean, tending to cuts before continuing to harvest or pack food, making sure containers they put produce in are clean, and not coming to work when they’re sick.
But more than that, they can be trained to see possible problems before they happen. And that goes for everyone working at the farm, including the people in the office, said Ewing.
The more people you have looking out for problems, the better,” said Ewing. Owners, supervisors, and managers are especially important in this
“They need to set the example,” Ewing said, adding that when workers see the people in charge of taking basic prevention steps, they’ll be more likely to follow their example.
Farmers need to provide at least one fully serviced bathroom facility for every 20 workers within one-quarter of a mile. These must be well-stocked and serviced on a regular basis. There must also be hand-washing facilities available. Anti-bacterial hand cleaners aren’t a substitute for running water.
Single-use paper towels, which are then thrown away,  are required because anything used by more than one farmworker could spread contamination.
Workers need to take their breaks in an area that’s not in the field where crops are being harvested or about to be harvested.
Drinking water should be provided.
“When workers’ basic needs aren’t met, they’re not thinking about food safety,” said Ewing.
Food safety specialist Critzer agreed. “You have to take care of people as well as food safety,” she said.
What about sick workers?
Some farmworkers come to work even if they’re sick simply because they need to earn some money. But supervisors and other workers need to be watchful about this. If, for example, a worker is using the bathroom more than would be usual, that could be a sign that he’s having digestive problems such as diarrhea or vomiting. That’s a clear signal that he or she should be sent home since sick farmworkers can contaminate produce. They can also be contagious to other workers.
Excessive coughing and a runny nose can also be a sign that a worker shouldn’t be handling produce.
But as several farmers pointed out, this can be a sensitive topic. How do you go about bringing this up to a worker?
Ewing agreed but pointed out that having good communication with workers is very important. And just as important is that the workers feel comfortable bringing up topics such as this — and any other food-safety problems they might see — to the supervisor or owner.
As the Produce Safety Alliance’s curriculum says: Good communication is a two-way street, meaning everyone has a responsibility to share what they know and listen when others have information to share.”
What about paid sick leave?
In Washington state, employees — including farmworkers — who are covered by the state’s Minimum Wage Law are covered under the Washington Sick Leave Law, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2018.
The rate of pay for paid sick leave is the normal hourly rate. For piece rate workers, the hourly rate is determined by using the total earnings in the most recent workweek divided by the total hours worked in that workweek.
All employees (including seasonal) accrue 1 hour of paid sick leave for each 40- hours worked as an employee.
 The employer must provide notification to employees of their entitlement to be paid sick leave, and this must be provided to an employee when he or she starts employment.
For more information, call wafla, a seasonal and ag employers HR association,  at (360) 455-8064.
California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, and Arizona are among the other states with paid sick leave. Ag employers are advised to call their Departments of Labor and Industries to get details of those laws.
Workers need to know not just what to do or not to do, they also need to know why the main reason being that they don’t want people to get sick. Knowing that keeps them motivated to do the right thing. But it also goes beyond wanting to make sure people don’t get sick. It goes to what would happen if the farm they’re working on were to get shut down because of a food safety problem. This has happened to small and large farms alike. In other words, they need to know that their job depends on getting this right.
At the end of the presentation, Critzer pointed out that food safety and food quality go hand in hand together.
“At the end of the day, everyone needs to know that this benefits everyone,” she said.
Good step forward
Peter O’Driscoll, executive director of the Equitable Food Initiative said he’s encouraged to see the emphasis in the Produce Safety Alliance’s curriculum on the importance of training farmworkers.
“The module on Worker Health and Hygiene appropriately concludes that workers can be assets to the food safety plan if trained properly, or liabilities if not trained,” he said.
O’Driscoll noted that the curriculum also points out that workers are taking on additional responsibilities in implementing food safety protocols, and should, therefore, be incentivized.
“This concept is at the heart of EFI’s premium program, which encourages retailers to pay a modest price premium for EFI-certified produce that is returned to farmworkers in the form of a bonus,” said O’Driscoll.
He said he is hopeful that growers will take the Produce Safety Alliance curriculum’s recommendations and implement them in the context of a “broader commitment to building a culture of food safety and responsible labor practices.”

FDA warns ready-to-eat condiment and hot sauce manufacturers
Source : https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/10/fda-warns-ready-to-eat-condiment-and-hot-sauce-manufacturers/
By Kelsey M. Mackin (Oct 22, 2018)
A Ready-to-Eat (RTE) single-serve condiment manufacturer from New York and a shelf-stable RTE hot sauce manufacturer are both on notice from the Food and Drug Administration for violations of federal food safety rules.
The FDA sent warning letters to the companies in September and August of 2018 and posted them for public view in recent days. Companies are allowed 15 working days to respond to FDA warning letters. Failure to promptly correct violations can result in legal action without further notice, including, without limitation, seizure and injunction.
Elwood International Inc., Copiague, NY
In a Sept. 27, 2018, warning letter to Founder, Owner and Chief Executive Officer Mr. Stuart Roll, and Vice-President Mr. Richard F. Roll, staff from the FDA discussed the inspection of the firm’s Copiague, NY warehouse facility, which revealed serious violations of the Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food rule (CGMP & PC Rule) and the low-acid canned food regulations (LACF regulations).
“We determined that your food products are adulterated, in that they were prepared, packed or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have been contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health,” according to the warning letter.
The FDA investigator noted the following violations:
•During the inspection, the FDA collected a sample of the firm’s Elwood’s Fat-Free Low Sodium Ranch Dressing Artificial Flavor and found that it is a low-acid food product; “The inspection revealed serious violations of the LACF regulations.”
The FDA also acknowledged the firm’s voluntary recall of all lots of this product within expiry.
•The firm did not have personnel involved in retorts, thermal processing systems, aseptic processing and packaging systems, or other thermal processing systems, and container closure inspectors under the operating supervision of a person who has attended and satisfactorily completed a school approved by the Commissioner; “Specifically, you manufacture shelf stable RTE Elwood Fat-Free Low Sodium Ranch Dressing Artificial Flavor packaged in 12 g cups and no one at your firm has attended or completed a Better Process Control School.”
• The firm failed to exclude pests from their food plant to protect against contamination of food;
Specifically, during the inspection of your facility, FDA investigators observed the following evidence of insect and rodent activity:
On 01/08/2018 at the 3 N Oak Street Facility in the Production Room/Kitchen, Production Office, and Electrical Closet Areas
•A.  One apparent dead rodent was observed to be approximately 3 feet from the West wall, in the middle of the floor, between both windows.
•B.  Two apparent dead rodents were each observed to be on a white sticky trap in the Northwest corner of the production office, in front of the window adjacent to a tall, white plastic cabinet.
•C.  Two apparent dead rodents were each observed to be on white sticky traps against the West wall, adjacent to the window in the Northwest corner.
•D.  One apparent dead rodent was observed to be on a white sticky trap in the Northeast corner between a tall, white metal cabinet and a low-standing, black metal cabinet.
•E.  One apparent dead rodent was observed to be on a white sticky trap in the Northeast corner in front of the low-standing black metal cabinet.
•F.  15 intermingled rodent excreta pellets (REPs) were observed behind the low-standing black metal cabinet in the Southwest corner.
•G.  10 REPs were observed on the white radiator next to the white plastic cabinet, in the Northwest corner.
•H.  Too numerous to count (TNTC) REPs were observed on the floor along the production office wall shared with the Production Room/Kitchen. There were REPs in front of the low-standing, black metal cabinet located under yellow organization bins hung on the East wall.
•I.  25 intermingled REPs were observed on the floor along the West wall of the Production Room/Kitchen between the door to the Employee Breakroom and the Batch Room area.
•J.  15 REPs were observed under a wooden pallet intermingled with unknown white powder. The wooden pallet was located along the west wall of the Production Room/Kitchen between the door to the Employee Breakroom and the Batch Room area. The wooden pallet held several bags of product.
•K.  Three intermingled REPs were observed to be on the windowsill located on the West wall of the Batch Room.
•L.  Intermingled TNTC REPs were observed in the Northeast corner between the tall, white metal cabinet and the low-standing black metal cabinet.
•M.  Two REPs were observed on the floor along the exterior North wall of the women’s bathroom, outside the door to the Production Office.
A physical sample was collected from the Production Room/Kitchen, Production Office, and Electrical Closet Areas during the inspection of the facility and was analyzed by the FDA’s laboratory; “The analysis of this sample confirmed the material collected consisted of rodent excreta pellets. The analytical results for this sample confirmed the presence of rodent activity within your facility.”
On 01/08/2018 at 89 Hudson Street – Food Warehouse
•A.  Three apparent dead insects and one apparent dead cockroach were observed on a white sticky trap along the South wall, approximately four feet east of two red wires protruding from the concrete floor.
•B.  13 apparent dead spiders and one apparent dead cockroach were observed on a white sticky trap located east of the door marked “EXIT” in the Southwest corner of the building.
•C.  Three apparent dead cockroaches were observed on a white sticky trap in the Southwest corner of the building along the west wall.

On 01/08/2018 at 99 Hudson Street – Food Warehouse and Unused Office Space
•A.  50 intermingled REPs were observed scattered throughout the ½ bathroom located in the Northwest corner, sharing a wall with the ¾ bathroom.
•B.  40 intermingled REPs were observed to be scattered throughout the hall closet located in the Northeast corner.
•C.  50 intermingled REPs were observed scattered under the approximate four-inch gap beneath the kitchenette cabinets.
•D.  One apparent dead rodent and seven apparent dead cockroaches, 15 cockroach excreta pellets, and approximately two dead insects were observed on a white sticky trap between the door of the ¾ bathroom and the North door leading to the Food Warehouse.
•E.  25 intermingled REPs were observed scattered throughout the ¾ bathroom.
•F.  Six apparent cockroach egg cases were observed along the West wall underneath and behind a wooden desk adjacent to the South door leading to the Food Warehouse.
•G.  Two apparent dead cockroaches were observed on a white sticky trap approximately three feet from the South door leading to the unused office space.
•H.  An unmarked box of orange-red colored powder was observed to have approximately five dead insects and four apparent egg cases inside. This unmarked box was located on a wooden pallet, on the floor along the West wall, four feet from the South wall garage door.
According to the warning letter, “the plant is not constructed in such a manner that drip or condensate from fixtures, ducts, and pipes does not contaminate food, food-contact surfaces, or food packaging materials.”
At the 3 N Oak Street Facility
•A. On 01/08/2018 condensation from the ceiling and ceiling pipes was observed dripping throughout the facility. The condensate was observed falling directly onto the clear lidding film used on both Single Process Lines while one of the processing lines was packing ready-to-eat (RTE) Tartar Sauce into plastic ½ oz. cups, and the other “Jelly Packing Line” was filling RTE Strawberry and Grape Jelly stamped “0098 16:28.”
•Again on 01/17/2018, condensation from the same area of the ceiling was observed dripping onto the “Jelly Packing Line,” on the metal surface immediately adjacent to where exposed plastic ½ oz. cups were being filled with RTE Grape Jelly.
•On 01/12/2018, the firm voluntarily destroyed (b)(4) of Elwood Reduced Sugar Jelly in strawberry and grape flavor with lot # E-678-10 200-10 GM 0098 16:28. However, this immediate correction does not address appropriate corrective actions needed to prevent recurrence of the observed deficiency.
•B.  On 01/08/2018 condensate was observed dripping onto the packaging film on the “Single Process Line” where RTE margarine was being packaged.
•C.  On 01/08/2018 condensate was observed accumulating on a black pipe directly above Kettle (b)(4) that was manufacturing Mayonnaise, and a liquid was observed falling from the ceiling between Kettle (b)(4) and Kettle (b)(4). Condensate and liquid were observed on at least 11 boxes of a pallet of a finished product of Winston Single Servings Mustard located at the Southeast corner in front of the garage adjacent to Kettle (b)(4).
•D.  On 01/08/2018 a spinning fan on the ceiling directly above the “Jelly Packing Line” was observed to spray an unknown wet substance throughout the facility, while the firm was packing RTE Grape and Strawberry Jelly. This appeared to be due to the spinning fan being located adjacent to a leaky pipe.
•E.  On 01/17/2018 condensate was observed dripping onto the lid of a sealed holding drum, into which RTE margarine was being pumped.
•F.  On 01/19/2018 condensation and apparent rust was observed on the ceiling and in the uncovered ceiling light in the Batch Room, directly above where clean utensils were stored.
The firm also failed to take effective measures to protect against the inclusion of metal or other extraneous material in food; “Specifically, the 3 N Oak Street Facility was not equipped with shatterproof lights or light fixtures in the food Production Room/Kitchen where food is exposed during manufacturing and packaging.”
The firm also failed to maintain buildings, fixtures, and other physical facilities of their plant in a clean and sanitary condition and in repair adequate to prevent food from becoming adulterated.
The plant did not have adequate sanitary facilities and accommodation for trash disposal; “Specifically, during the inspection, our investigators observed throughout the 3 N Oak Street Facility, an accumulation of overflowing trash in the Northeast corner of the Batch Room along the wall of the Employee Breakroom. The trash was observed to be overflowing onto a pallet of raw materials adjacent to the large, plastic, gray trash bin.”
The firm did not conduct operations in accordance with adequate sanitation principles and take adequate precautions to ensure that production procedures did not contribute to allergen cross-contact and to contamination;
•A.  Our investigators observed on 01/17/2018 that while the single process lines were cleaned while the packaging film was still installed on the machines, water and sanitizer were observed splashing onto the film, an RTE food contact surface. This practice was observed again on 01/19/2018.
•B.  Employees were observed on 01/17/2018 cleaning the lids of the holding drums used for storing mayonnaise, jelly, or salad dressing products by resting them on the floor and spraying them with steam water. The edges of the lid remained in contact with the floor during and after spraying with water. The floor had an accumulation of stagnant liquid and food residue which was observed directly contacting the lids.
•C.  Employees were observed on 01/17/2018 placing the outlets of product transferring hoses inside the drains on the floor, to flush out the residual product. The hoses were then flushed with steam and water after being in direct contact with the floor drains and wastewater. This practice was also observed on 01/19/2018.
•D.  On 01/19/2018 an employee was observed washing stainless steel buckets on the floor, directly on top of the floor drain. These buckets are used to weigh ingredients during manufacturing.
The FDA reminded the firm of their responsibility for ensuring that their facility operates in compliance with the Act, the LACF regulations, the CGMP & PC rule, and other applicable requirements.
Maui Preserved LLC, Haiku, HI
In an Aug. 10 warning letter to Mr. Anthony M. Labua-Keiser, the FDA described violations observed during an April 30 – May 3, 2018, inspection at the company’s facility where they manufacture shelf-stable, ready-to-eat hot sauces, which are acidified food products.
Acidified food processors are required by federal law to comply with Current Good Manufacturing Practices in Manufacturing, Packing, or Holding Human Food, which includes taking effective measures to keep conditions sanitary.
Some of the significant violations cited were:
•The firm failed to provide the FDA, before packing any new product, information on the scheduled process from a qualified processing authority filed with FDA for their Thai Chile Hot Sauce and Hot Hot Sauce. There is no scheduled process on file for this product.
“As a commercial processor engaged in the thermal processing of acidified foods, you must provide the FDA information as to the scheduled processes, including conditions for heat processing and control of pH, salt, sugar, and preservative level and source and date of the establishment of the process, for each acidified food in each container size,” according to the warning letter.
•The firm failed to mark their acidified product bottles with an identifying code permanently visible to the naked eye which specifies the establishment where the product was packed, the product contained therein, and the year, day, and period during which it was packed.
Specifically, the 8-digit code on the firm’s acidified food containers do not include the establishment where the product was packed, the name of the product and the date the product was processed; “Each container or product must be marked with an identifying code permanently visible to the naked eye. If the container does not permit the code to be embossed or inked, the label may be legibly perforated or otherwise marked, as long as the label is securely affixed to the product container. The required identification shall specify in code the establishment where the product was packed, the product contained therein, and the year, day, and the period during which it was packed. The packing period code shall be changed often enough to enable ready identification of lots during their sale and distribution. Codes may be changed periodically on one of the following bases: intervals of 4 to 5 hours; personnel shift changes; or batches, as long as the containers constituting the batch do not represent those processed during more than one personnel shift.”
The FDA reminded the firm that the violations cited in this warning letter are not intended to be an all-inclusive statement of violations that exist in connection with the firm’s products.

 

 

 


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Vietnam’s Food Safety Regulations
Source : http://www.vietnam-briefing.com/news/vietnam-food-safety-regulations.html/
By Vietnam Briefing, Written by Kyssha Mah (Oct 18, 2018)
Vietnam updated its food safety law in February, replacing Decree 38/2012-ND-CP with Decree 15/2018/ND-CP, to reduce regulatory burdens and enhance international trade of goods.
With the change, the government loosened regulations by removing various administrative procedures, with the ultimate aim to increase channels of international trade for food products. The new decree is part of a larger scheme of initiatives – like the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) – to reduce technical barriers to trade and boost foreign investment.
Decree 15 allows the government to adjust the food industry standards with international best practice by relaxing its procedural grip. The EVFTA, for example, outlines sanitary and phytosanitary measures imported food products from Vietnam must comply within the EU.
Grounds for food safety inspection were amended while the procedures for safety audits were reduced significantly: 90 percent of food shipments now enter the country without examination. Previously, all food shipments were examined before the change to the law.
Products circulating the Vietnamese market now take a major leap from pre-inspection to post-inspection, with responsibility now placed on enterprises serving or selling food to declare self-compliance with regard to food safety regulations.
Ensuring food safety
Frequent food poisoning and contaminated food products have been widespread issues in Vietnam, despite the requirements stipulated in previous regulations. Countless food safety incidents arising from a lack of adequate regulatory enforcement exposed food supplies to foodborne illnesses throughout the trade process.
While the removal of administrative barriers enables efficient trade and investment, companies partaking in Vietnam’s food industry should still be conscious of the harmful effects of low-quality food. The demand for high quality and dependable food products should increase as the market continues to develop, and a single food safety scandal can permanently damage a brand’s reputation.
Further, businesses must be prepared for the potential to be inspected by regulatory authorities. The Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Ministry of Industry and Trade will inspect up to five percent of total food imports per year at random.
Currently, the government is in the process of drafting a decree on fines for any violations of food safety.
Steps businesses should take
The Ministry of Health established specifications within updated food regulation standards that must be met by international importers since a duty applies to every product that enters the country.
All companies that want to export food commodities into the country must submit an appropriate certification for registration. Companies are liable for safety issues for their products.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development provides the customs office with details of organizations authorized to export products into the country.  Applicable requirements issued by the Ministry of Health must be met. These include labeling requirements containing the name and details of the manufacturer, registration for food additives, advertisement for food products, and the country of origin.
Businesses that want to partake in Vietnam’s food industry need to recognize the full scope of regulatory changes. Companies should review Decree 15 to ensure products and trade practices are aligned with the update.
Maxfield Brown, Dezan Shira & Associates’ Business Intelligence Manager in Ho Chi Minh City, said “The decree is new and it still takes a while for agencies to implement new levels of regulation. It is up to the body of government interpreting the new law to enforce it—so, it is important to differentiate periods when new regulations are not enforced from periods of uncertainty. People trying to comply with the new update should be cognizant of timing and how to comply with the regulation.”

Austrian Hepatitis A cases match strain in Swedish outbreak
Source : https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/10/austria-reports-hepatitis-a-cases-match-strain-in-swedish-outbreak/
By Joe Whitworth (Oct 16, 2018)
Austria has become part of a multi-country Hepatitis A outbreak with 31 confirmed cases linked to frozen strawberries imported from Poland.
The outbreak of hepatitis A virus (HAV) is connected to the one recently declared over in Sweden which affected 20 people in six counties. Of these cases, 17 were confirmed and three were probable. Dates of symptom onset ranged from May 30 to July 10. Ages ranged from nine to 92 years and 13 out of 20 were women.
In July and August, Austria recorded nine hepatitis A cases with the source unknown.
Researchers reported in the Eurosurveillance journal that by sharing the sequence information identified in Sweden internationally, 14 cases in Austria were found linked to strawberries from the same producer.
Genotyping of the hepatitis A outbreak strain in Sweden showed of 17 of the 20 cases confirmed an identical genotype IB strain. Environmental investigations and interviews with kitchen personnel found strawberries had not been heated adequately before serving. Following the outbreak, the juice bar chain where at least 10 cases had fallen ill stopped using frozen strawberries in smoothies and changed to pasteurized frozen pellets of the fruit.
The incriminated batch of frozen strawberries was withdrawn in June but it had best before date April 6, 2020. In total, 1,664 packages with 5 kg strawberries each were removed from the Swedish market.
Almost two months after the initial outbreak alert in Sweden, Austria reported a case of HAV infection with a strain indistinguishable from the Swedish outbreak strain. It can take up to six weeks after exposure for symptoms to develop.
In late August, the Austrian reference laboratory for viral hepatitis reported five cases sharing the Swedish outbreak genotype IB strain to the Ministry of Health (MOH). The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) was told to investigate the outbreak.
As of early October, 36 cases of laboratory-confirmed acute hepatitis A had been reported to public health authorities in Austria since June. Of those, 14 met the definition of a confirmed case and four were classified as non-outbreak infections based on sequence-typing data.
For confirmed cases, disease onset ranged from June 8 to Sept. 20, age range was between 5 and 70 years, with eight males and six females affected. Twelve patients ate strawberry ice cream during the incubation period and nine remembered the restaurants where they ate it.
For the remaining 18 cases, sequence-typing data was not yet available and patient interviews regarding food exposure during their incubation periods is ongoing, according to the researchers.
Since mid-May, only one wholesaler in Austria purchased frozen strawberries from the producer in Poland, but further distribution included two wholesalers in Slovakia and one ice cream producer in Italy.
The Austrian importer of frozen strawberries from the Polish producer is expecting a supply of 22 tons at the end of 2018 and has requested evidence for a HAV-negative test result of samples. It has also asked for a guarantee from purchasers that frozen strawberries are heated before consumption.
There are several challenges with HAV outbreaks related to berries, according to the researchers.
“First, the trace back can be difficult as berries are typically harvested by one producer, then packed by another food business operator whereby batches may then be mixed or split. Another point to consider during HAV outbreak investigations is the long incubation period of hepatitis A up to six weeks. After such a long time, it can be difficult to recall food consumption and collect food leftovers. Furthermore, the time from the onset of symptoms to a primary diagnosis and the sequence information can take several weeks,” they said.
“In the current outbreak, leftovers from the suspected frozen strawberries in Sweden were sent to Livsmedelsverket and the presence of HAV could be confirmed by real-time PCR and Sanger sequencing, providing evidence for the source of infection. While being invaluable in tracing the source of infections, the molecular detection of viruses in food is challenging.”
Researchers also said boiling recommendations could be considered for frozen strawberries in Sweden. Such advice is already in place for frozen, imported raspberries because of the risk of norovirus.

Trump Administration’s Fall 2018 Unified Agenda Includes FDA Food Safety Initiatives
Source : https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/news/trump-administratione28099s-fall-2018-unified-agenda-includes-fda-food-safety-initiatives/
By Staff (Oct 18, 2018)
Trump Administration’s Fall 2018 Unified Agenda Includes FDA Food Safety Initiatives
Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s blog (FDA Voice) announced the publication of the agency’s Fall 2018 Unified Agenda, compiled by the administration of President Donald Trump. This document provides federal agencies the opportunity to share the government’s top regulatory priorities with the American public, including both short-term and long-term plans.
FDA has identified more than 70 actions in the Fall 2018 Unified Agenda. The following are FDA’s plans and statements regarding food safety.
Our Fall 2018 Unified Agenda includes key actions that will improve labeling and nutrition. We believe it’s important to maintain the basic nature and nutritional integrity of products while allowing industry flexibility for innovation to produce more healthful foods.
Specifically, we’re following up our earlier actions on partially hydrogenated oils in foods with a rulemaking that proposes to remove the remaining uses to further reduce deaths from coronary heart disease. We’re also working on updating the definition of the claim “healthy” on food labels so it reflects current nutrition guidelines and to encourage its use.
In addition, we’re also advancing rulemaking to revoke outdated standards of identity, including standards of identity in French salad dressing and frozen cherry pie. This is a down payment on a comprehensive effort to modernize food standards to reduce regulatory burden and remove old-fashioned barriers to innovation. To support this effort, we’ll also reopen the comment period on a proposed rule seeking to establish general principles to update the framework for standards of identity. In addition to standards of identity, there are statutory and regulatory provisions that relate to the naming of food products.
The Unified Agenda is released by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. It demonstrates the current administration's ongoing commitment to fundamental regulatory reform and a reorientation toward reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens on the American people.

Multidrug-Resistant Salmonella Infantis Infections Linked to Raw Chicken
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2018/multidrug-resistant-salmonella-infantis-infections/
By News Desk (Oct 17, 2018)
Multidrug-resistant Salmonella Infantis infections have sickened at least 92 people in 29 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Twenty-one of those patients have been hospitalized because they are so sick.
Multidrug-resistant Salmonella Infantis outbreak
The case count by state is: Alabama (1), California (1), Connecticut (1), Delaware (2), Florida (2), Georgia (2), Hawaii (1), Illinois (5), Indiana (1), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (1), Maine (1), Maryland (2), Massachusetts (9), Michigan (3), Minnesota (3), Missouri (3), North Carolina (4), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (9), New York (10), Ohio (7), Pennsylvania (11), Rhode Island (2), South Carolina (1), Tennessee (1), Texas (2), Virginia (2), and Washington (2). There is no explanation for why this multidrug-resistant Salmonella Infantis outbreak seems to be concentrated in the northeast part of the country.
Illness onset dates range from January 19, 2018 to September 9, 2018. The patient age range is from less than 1 year to 105. Thirty-four percent have been hospitalized, which is a very high percentage for Salmonella outbreaks. Usually, about 20% are hospitalized.
Unfortunately, there is no one source of this outbreak. The CDC notice states that “many types of raw chicken products from a variety of sources are contaminated with Salmonella Infantis and are making people sick.” The outbreak strain has been found in samples taken from raw chicken pet food, raw chicken products from 58 slaughter and processing establishments, and live chickens. Government officials have not identified a single, common supplier of raw chicken products or live chickens.
This evidence indicates that people in this multidrug-resistant Salmonella Infantis outbreak got sick from handling or eating raw or undercooked chicken.
And this strain is resistant to multiple antibiotics. That means it’s more dangerous, can cause more serious illness, and is much more difficult to treat. This strain is resistant to ampicillin, ceftriaxone, chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, fosfomycin, gentamicin, hygromycin, kanamycin, nalidixic acid, streptomycin, sulfamethoxazole, tetracycline, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole.
So the CDC can only offer advice to consumers. Always wash your hands after handling raw chicken, after contact with animals, and after using the bathroom. Always cook raw chicken to 165°F, and test that reading with an accurate food thermometer. Always reheat leftovers to 165°F, again tested with a food thermometer.
Never wash raw poultry. Bacteria on that food can aerosolize and spread around your kitchen.
Always wash hands, cutting boards, utensils, plates, and counters with warm, soapy water after contact with raw chicken. Use a separate cutting board for raw chicken and raw meats to avoid cross-contamination.
The CDC does not recommend feeding raw diets to pets. Those products can be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and E. coli that can make you and your pets very sick.

Ground Beef Salmonella Outbreak Prompts Food Safety Advice
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2018/ground-beef-salmonella-outbreak/
By News Desk (Oct 16, 2018)
The multistate Salmonella Newport outbreak that is linked to recalled JBS Tolleson ground beef has prompted the Wyoming Department of Health to issue food safety advice about handling this food. The ground beef Salmonella outbreak is just one in a long line of food poisoning illness outbreaks linked to this product, including the deadly E. coli O26 outbreak linked to Cargill ground beef.
Three people in Wyoming are sick in the JBS Tolleson ground beef Salmonella outbreak. And almost 7,000,000 pounds of ground beef has been recalled.
Tiffany Greenlee, WDH epidemiologist, said, “Because ground beef can be stored in freezers for some time, people may still have recalled meat in their homes.” Anyone in the states where the ground beef has been sold should check their freezers. The recalled ground beef has the establishment number “EST. 267” inside the USDA mark of inspection.
But because it can be difficult to know if the meat you have in your home is part of a recall, you need to know are handling and cooking instructions. The only way to make sure that the ground beef you are cooking is safe to eat is if it reaches 160°F on a reliable and accurate food thermometer.
When you cook with raw ground beef, make sure that it doesn’t come into contact with any food that is eaten uncooked. And watch out for the juices. One drop of juice can contain bacteria that can contaminate countertops, utensils, your sink, and other surfaces in your home.
The symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning include fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, and diarrhea that may be bloody. These symptoms start 6 to 72 hours after eating food that is contaminated with this pathogen.
Most people will recover without medical treatment, but it’s possible that anyone with this infection will develop health complications in the future. Those complications can include reactive arthritis, high blood pressure, endocarditis, and irritable bowel syndrome. If you think you are part of this ground beef Salmonella outbreak, see your doctor.

Effects of Millennials on Culinary Food Safety
Source : https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/octobernovember-2018/effects-of-millennials-on-culinary-food-safety/
By Douglas Davis
Effects of Millennials on Culinary Food Safety
According to the Pew Research Center, millennials are expected to overtake baby boomers in the U.S. population in 2019.[1] As a result, food and beverage trends will evolve at a pace that has not been seen in decades. Whereas baby boomers want traditional and recognizable food and venues, millennials are seeking the adventurous and experiential while demanding affordable, healthy, and local food choices.[2]
In response to this massive purchasing clout, the restaurant industry is innovating at a record pace in terms of menu choices and business models. This puts a strain on food safety management systems, as new risks must be assessed and interventions implemented in a large organization. Marriott International’s global food safety team is not immune to these growing pains. We realize that innovation must be done responsibly to protect public health.
Our Legacy
Since its founding in 1927 and the first Hot Shoppes chain, Marriott International has aggressively pursued food safety methods, which established a strong food safety culture. These early restaurants pioneered daily employee “stand up meetings,” in which topics of safe food and personal hygiene were discussed. Food safety and taking care of the employee were early core values in the company. The founder, John Willard (JW) Marriott, understood that to achieve success, he would have to establish trust among his customers by establishing an inherent understanding that his food and beverages were safe and of the highest quality. The Hot Shoppes restaurant concept had to learn to manage the potential risks associated with made-from-scratch food production. The fledgling company experimented with food choices, with input from repeat diners, while maintaining a focus on food safety. Early recipe cards included safe food handling procedures.
Fast-forward to the 1990s when Marriott established its own food distribution system—Marriott Distribution Services (MDS). MDS had 13 facilities in the U.S., which performed broad-line distribution for all of Marriott’s foodservice operations, and in 2000, it was awarded the distribution contract for Darden Restaurants. In 2001, Marriott, together with Hyatt, ClubCorp, and Fairmont, launched a procurement company called Avendra to serve the U.S. hospitality market.[3] The result was improved operational performance for hotels by reducing the burden of vendor management, while bringing guests more innovative food choices.
Both MDS and Avendra had robust and comprehensive food safety management systems that included vendor vetting, supply chain management, and hotel-specific Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures. When MDS was sold in 2002, their food safety management system standards were required to be adopted in Marriott’s agreements with new broad-line distributors. Marriott’s share in Avendra was sold to Aramark in 2017.[4] Avendra’s highly skilled quality assurance team continues to evolve as a crucial part of Aramark’s food safety prowess. Aramark has dedicated food safety supervision on-site, serving nearly 2 billion meals every year globally.
Today, Marriott International has a mature food safety culture and is now the largest hotel company in the world.[5] Marriott delivers safe, high-quality food under its 30 brands in over 10,000 restaurants, 6,500 hotels, and countless meetings and events around the world. Marriott’s global food safety team continues the values of its founder by ensuring “best in class” food safety standards and prescriptive protocols. Our culinary team is diligent in seeking out our guests’ food and beverage preferences, evolving our understanding of behaviors and beliefs that influence food choices in today’s markets.
Today’s Customers
Our current focus is, of course, millennials, as they are now the spotlight generation. Demographers define millennials as those born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s to early 2000s. We know that millennials are today’s trendsetters, which means that whatever is trending in food and beverages, it cannot trend without them. Millennials see food as an adventure. They don’t observe traditional meal periods, so foods that were once exclusively for breakfast are now in demand late at night. And fresh foods must be available on demand, anytime. Millennials graze instead of eating large meals. More than any other generation, millennials are more savvy in understanding menu verbiage. French cooking technique terminology is one example. The same can be said for their recognition of nonmainstream fruits, herbs, and vegetables, as well as ethnic spice blends. They help us market and spread the word of a hotel restaurant’s innovative offerings through social media.
Plant-based diets are increasingly popular among this demographic, and Marriott expects this trend to gain greater traction in the future. For hamburgers, it’s not just ground chuck anymore. Beef primals like flank, brisket, and short loin are ground and combined to produce a more flavorful burger. These new cuts of meat and processing techniques raise the risk of contamination. Marriott’s brand standard mandates that all finished ground beef be tested for pathogens using a “test and hold” protocol. Our vendors are held to this standard, and quarterly laboratory analysis must be relayed to the global food safety team. This has proven to be a highly effective method of maintaining food safety standards.
The latest report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture surveyed millennials’ food-buying habits.[6] This younger generation is buying a lot more prepared food, and the wealthier a household becomes, the less food is eaten at home. According to this report, millennials eat in a restaurant or bar around 30 percent more than any of the older generations. This is good news for hotel restaurants.
Are There Effects on Food Safety?
The very popular restaurant Courtyard Bistro is an example of a restaurant concept that is hyperfocused on the modern customer’s tastes. There is an ongoing cadence of menu updates to this brand’s food and beverage offerings. This concept provides fresh and healthy choices for travelers and locals alike. Marriott International’s 29 other brands are also keenly aware that millennials will make up over half of their in-house guest population by 2020. New brands like AC Hotels by Marriott and Moxy are designed to cater to this demographic. Both food and beverage concepts are designed to be bespoke and customizable, while telling a story with the menu.
The reinvented Aloft brand features an innovative “Breakfast Pots” concept as part of the food and beverage strategy called Re F–uel, which allows guests to easily order their meals from a kiosk.[7] Millennials are looking for a frictionless experience, one that enables them to quickly get on with their day. Re F–uel’s Breakfast Pots are customized creations that are both trendy and portable, with unique flavor profiles. This is a welcome change from the traditional breakfast buffet-style outlets of many competitors.
From a food safety perspective, the concept features items that are made quickly in fast-cooking, state-of-the-art ovens. No hot food is held, and cold food components are used in multiple recipes, which reduces inventory. This concept not only exceeds guests’ expectations but also allows operators to focus on a limited number of Critical Control Points (CCPs) that can easily be monitored and documented.
The business model for select service hotels features generalists who multi-task, performing both front- and back-of-the-house functions. It is therefore crucial that this type of employee be food safety trained and able to operate in an efficient and unencumbered manner which maximizes their time, while ensuring comprehension. Food safety training for associates in these brands is typically via online classes. Distance learning is becoming much more widely used, and certifications and on-property food safety tools are increasingly automated. The Marriott culinary team develops these fresh choices but also collaborates with specialized vendors who provide innovative food choices.
The global food safety team has input into issues such as shelf life, critical limits for cooking and reheating, food allergens, nutrient content, and other intrinsic risk factors. These new concepts create new issues in the areas of product packaging and meeting U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling requirements. The team also provides guidelines and resources to hotels that do things such as package their own food or press fresh juices. Additionally, ingredients must comply with the company’s stated animal welfare and “clean label” commitment goals. Providing cage-free eggs, meeting trans fat prohibition regulations, and identifying genetically modified ingredients in jurisdictions that have these laws are some of the many efforts that occur behind the scenes when developing new food and beverage offerings.
We must first be satisfied that products are safe as presented, stored, and prepared. Operators are then trained to ensure a sound food safety management system that covers:
•    Retail items
•    Fresh packaged food and drinks
•    Fresh-made items
•    Prepared, cooled, and reheated sandwiches
Marriott believes that its model of food and beverage offerings that are nutritious, trendy, and always accessible is not a fad.
The millennial demographic is also driving trends in experiential dining. Brands like Residence Inn offer an evening social program called The Residence Inn Mix. Designed to appeal to millennial travelers, part of this engaging experience is food trucks. Guests can get a sense of exciting local food choices in a casual atmosphere.
Residence Inn has also been identified by the food allergen community as a destination for families with food-allergic travelers, including children with life-threatening issues.[8] Marriott’s cleaning and sanitizing standards ensure that in-room hotel kitchens have safe utensils and cooking equipment. We audit extended-stay hotels for standards as well.
A Closer Look at Full-Service Hotels
A food trends survey conducted in 2018 by the National Restaurant Association identified the “hyperlocal” concept as the number one trend that chefs nationwide will be exploring.[9] Hyperlocal is a concept that includes growing produce on the premises in rooftop gardens or indoor vertical farming, or producing foods that are traditionally manufactured in a commercial facility. Marriott’s food and beverage operators are also focusing on this trend, driven by millennials’ demand for variety and their distrust of factory farms. Chef’s gardens allow hotels to bring novel produce and vegetables into the restaurant that would not normally be served by their competitors and are not available through normal produce distibutors.
All these innovative practices must have prescriptive guidelines developed and communicated to hotel operators to ensure brand protection by mitigating unsafe practices that can lead to foodborne illness. Some of these practices that particularly appeal to millenials include the following:
•    Growing vegetables
•    Raising food animals
•    Brewing beer
•    Fermenting meat (charcuterie)
•    Producing probiotic-type beverages
•    Beekeeping (for honey)
•    Generating water
•    Aging meat
•    Distilling beverages
•    Producing cold-pressed juices
Resources including Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan templates and other best practices are made available to hotels via Marriott’s intranet. Many times, these innovative chefs employ food safety methodologies that far exceed local jurisdictional requirements.
As our full-service North American hotels continue to push the envelope on nontraditional food production and procurement, expanded preventive controls are being initiated in the U.S. as they are in other parts of the world. Our hotels overseas are seeing increased local jurisdictional requirements in food safety that go above and beyond FDA Food Code guidelines. In China, for instance, all our hotels must have a hygiene manager by law. Throughout Asia, the EU, and the Middle East, random food sample analysis and environmental sampling are routine. Food handler vaccinations and routine stool testing are common outside of the U.S. Some of these additional prerequisite programs are added to high-risk hotels’ HACCP plans in the U.S. as proactive interventions.
Executive chefs are increasingly becoming more educated and competent in developing Good Agricultural Practices plans on their own, taking responsibility for measures to address the risks of growing their own produce. The global food safety team continuously tries to identify risks associated with these emerging practices and provide solutions. There are many anecdotes in which local food safety regulations have evolved after learning of these specialized activities. Hotel HACCP plans are shared with and often adopted by city, county, and state environmental health specialists as best practices.
Training
The global food safety team mandates that each food handler has food safety training and that each food manager obtains an American National Standards Institute-accredited food safety certification. In addition to food handlers and food managers, general managers and assistant general managers, as well as hotel engineers, are required to take food safety training. All those who prepare food, work on equipment, purchase food, or manage those who do these jobs must have a good understanding of the risks associated with foodservice. These stakeholders are trained to not only prevent foodborne illnesses but also how to identify guests who may bring in prolific infections like norovirus. As some of these pathogens can be transmitted from person to person, nonfoodborne prevention measures also must be followed.
In-house guests present a much more significant risk than transient customers in freestanding restaurants. This captured population utilizes in-room dining, transports food throughout the property, and stores leftovers in minibars. Contagious infections can be transmitted to other guests by way of casual common-room contact or in hotel events and meetings.
Through the protocols authored by the global food safety team, hotels are guided through the prevention, management, and remediation of gastrointestinal outbreaks among guests and associates. Comprehensive cleaning and sanitizing protocols must be developed and deployed that include mandated disinfection products along with strict restriction/exclusion guidelines for ill food handlers.
Food allergy/food intolerance training is also required for all food managers in response to our guests with special dietary needs. There must be an emphasis on knowing ingredients that go into menu selections and how to prevent cross-contact. Our third-party brand standards audit ensures that hotels are complying with these training requirements.
Technology
Through social media, guests can call out improper food handling or unsanitary conditions in restaurants, frequently in real time. Millennials account for most of these postings. It is important for our hotel teams not to become defensive toward or dismissive of these observations, regardless of their validity. By using social media comments as a vehicle to increase food safety awareness and identify additional training needs, our operations become safer.
As the hotel workforce continues to evolve, and newer branded hotels are staffed with younger people, antiquated CCPs and manual monitoring methods are increasingly questioned. Millennials have grown up with apps that assist in everyday life, and having to handwrite temperature logs is not intuitive for them. The goal of the global food safety team has been and will continue to be the automation of all monitoring and verification processes. We are converting many hotels to electronic monitoring with the help of younger associates. Seamless adoption of new technology must be the new norm in hotel environments, as we continue to leverage the Internet of Things, finding cloud-based solutions for training, supply chain intelligence, and HACCP monitoring. This ensures accuracy and continuity and demonstrates our due diligence in active managerial control.
Public Trust
Group meeting planners, tour operators, and others who bring in blocs of constituents are increasingly asking what food safety controls are in place. Food waste protocols and food sustainability issues rank second and third. As more and more sensational headlines concerning foodborne outbreaks in popular restaurants occur, Marriott remains steadfastly determined to mitigate the risks associated with these new and innovative foods, procurement methods, and production techniques.
A team of researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recently simulated a number of types of restaurant outbreaks, using common causes like norovirus, Escherichia coli, and Salmonella.[10] They sought to determine how each would financially impact various restaurant categories. Depending on factors like outbreak severity, fines, lawsuits, legal fees, and number of employees affected, full-table-service restaurants, like many hotels, would be financially devastated by a single outbreak. The cost of such an outbreak can range between $8,030 and $2.2 million. Upscale restaurants would see a cost between $8,273 and $2.6 million.
Conclusion
Many food and beverage operations have made the fatal mistake of putting profit above safety. By accepting complacency instead of striving for excellence, they fail to continuously evolve in addressing emerging risks. Marriott’s core values dictate that our hotels improve the communities that we do business in. There is research that shows millennials want to make the world a better place as well. We realize that this generation has actually helped us improve food safety and protect public health by challenging us to continuously improve our methods so they can be proud to work, eat, drink, and thrive in Marriott hotels. Together, we can uphold what our founder JW Marriott started, a vibrant culture of food safety wherein every associate is responsible for food protection and public safety. 
Douglas Davis, CP-FS, is the senior director, global food safety for Marriott International.
References
1. www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/01/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers/.
2. wholesale.wf.com/food_for_thought/generational-preferences-impact-the-food-industry/.
3. www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4007041.html.
4. news.marriott.com/2017/12/aramark-completes-purchase-avendra/.
5. investor.shareholder.com/MAR/releasedetail.cfm?releaseid=39128.
6. www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/86401/eib-186.pdf?v=43097.
7. skift.com/2018/01/22/marriotts-revamp-of-aloft-and-element-points-to-the-future-of-select-service-hotels/.
8. www.healthcentral.com/article/food-allergy-travel-tips-you-can-take-it-with-you.
9. www.foodandwine.com/news/menu-trends-2018.
10. www.cnbc.com/2018/04/17/heres-what-it-costs-restaurants-when-a-foodborne-illness-outbreak-occurs.html.

Plant at Center of Largest Ever Salmonella Ground Beef Recall Accused of “Inhumane” Animal Treatment in USDA FSIS Inspection Records
Source : https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/news/plant-at-center-of-largest-ever-salmonella-ground-beef-recall-accused-of-e2809cinhumanee2809d-animal-treatment-in-usda-fsis-inspection-records/
By Staff (Oct 16, 2018)
Plant at Center of Largest Ever Salmonella Ground Beef Recall Accused of “Inhumane” Animal Treatment in USDA FSIS Inspection Records
Enforcement notice records issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) last year show that the JBS meat facility in Tolleson, AZ--recently at the center of 7 million pound ground beef recall due to Salmonella contamination--had previously been called out regarding the condition of their plant and animal welfare practices.
In a July 2017 USDA FSIS Notice of Intended Enforcement issued to the JBS president, officials vowed to stop issuing marks of inspection for the company’s products and to suspend inspections of the slaughtering operations in Tolleson. USDA FSIS noted in the letter that these actions were due to JBS’s “failure to maintain or implement required controls to prevent the inhumane handling and slaughtering of livestock at your establishment and to appropriately handle animals”.
During a July 25, 2017 inspection, USDA FSIS inspectors noted the following at the JBS Tolleson plant:
•nonambulatory cows in the pens that were lying in distress
•one cow in Pen 19 lying on her side and unable to rise, mentally incoherent, having difficulty breathing, and repetitively making a kicking motion with its legs while moaning as if in pain
•another cow down in Pen 15, also lying on its side, unable to rise, mentally incoherent, and also struggling to breathe while making kicking motions with its legs
The USDA FSIS letter states,
“This is an egregious act of inhumane handling of animals in connection with slaughter, as a result of your establishment employee actions of mishandling livestock that were in significant distress. Title 9 CFR 313.50(b) states, If the cause of inhumane treatment is the result of establishment employee actions in the handling or moving of livestock, the inspector shall attach a "U.S. Rejected" tag to the alleyways leading to the stunning area." This constitutes failure to adhere to the regulatory requirements of the humane handling and slaughter of livestock, as required by the Federal Meat Inspection Act, 21 U.S.C. 603(b), the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, and the regulations promulgated thereunder.
The letter concluded with a demand that JBS Tolleson respond in writing to USDA FSIS, and that response would then determine how the agency would move forward.
In just two days, the Tolleson plant responded to the USDA FSIS letter, appealing (via email) the agency’s previous Notice of Intended Enforcement and asking for the agency’s action to be dismissed. JBS Tolleson argued that, despite what official inspection records show, their “program was operating in compliance with FSIS regulations and expectations, as well as in a manner consistent with recognized industry humane standards."
In September 2017, the plant’s appeal was denied. However, weeks of back and forth communication and document sharing between the agency and the Tolleson plant led to a win for the facility. The letter reads,
“After a careful and thorough review of the corrective actions and preventative measures your establishment provided to the Alameda District Office from August 30, 2017, through October 12, 2017, FSIS has decided to defer further enforcement actions to afford you the opportunity to implement your proposed action plan.”
The Tolleson, AZ, plant is owned by Brazilian parent JBS S/A and its JBS USA subsidiary.

The best ways to ensure front-end food safety
Source : https://www.bakingbusiness.com/articles/47253-the-best-ways-to-ensure-front-end-food-safety
By Dan Malovany (Oct 15, 2018)
Automating lot tracking using bar codes and RFID-type scanners allows a single point collection of the data that can then be electronically transferred upstream, said Jason Stricker, director of sales and marketing, Shick Esteve.
Lot tracking often starts in the receiving area by scanning information from bar codes into a bakery’s system, which initiates those lot numbers to track the amount dispensed into each batch.
Kevin Pecha, sales manager, AZO, pointed out that a panoply of information on flour, water, pre-mixes, liquid additions, mixing parameters and even temperatures creates essential front-end controls.
“This batch record can be saved, transferred to a supervisory system such as an ERP system or printed for future use,” Mr. Pecha said.
He also pointed out that the past data will assist in future forecasting to procure more accurate production schedules.
Shick Esteve’s Automated Ingredient Management (AIM) software integrates with new and existing automated ingredient handling systems.
“AIM provides recipe and batch management, production scheduling, lot tracking, traceability and process data acquisition,” Mr. Stricker said. “AIM is able to integrate with various front-end management software seamlessly. We can push data upstream to eliminate data entry requirement or allow their system to extract the data required for reporting. All data can be warehoused onsite or in the cloud, allowing for extensive and complete recordkeeping.”
Bühler developed the WinCos system that includes recipe management, lot number traceability, contamination control, product interlocking and trend visualization, just to name a few.
“The WinCos automation system has been developed to deliver the functionality needed in a modern food business,” said John Hunter, sales account manager, bakery and ingredient handling, Bühler Inc.
Zeppelin System USA offers its Production Resource Information System Management Applications (PRISMA) suite.
“The PRISMA system can integrate the manual scaling process with the automated bulk handling and batching system, prompt operators for required ingredients, monitor the accuracy of manual as well as automated scaling actions against preset tolerances, and record the results instantly,” noted Joseph Cross, process manager.
Bar code labelers and scanners track ingredients from incoming shipments through intermediate scaling to final point-of-use control.
“PRISMA can also provide one-up/one-down supply chain traceability for smaller companies without large ERP/MES systems by allowing users to set up suppliers and customers to integrate with lot tracking,” Mr. Cross explained. “This functionality provides preconfigured reports showing what lots from which suppliers went into every batch produced for each customer order over any selected timeframe.”
A lot of accuracy
Traceability is a critical component in achieving compliance with regional and international government regulations as well as with countless audits and Global Food Safety Initiatives, observed James Toole, ingredient handling product manager at Gemini/KB Systems.
“Bakeries are becoming more astute with respect to increasingly stringent regulations governing lot tracking and food safety,” he said.
Gemini/KB Systems’ automated ingredient storage and handling systems provide devices such as load cells on bulk ingredient bins, loss-in-weight feeders for minor ingredients and mass flow meters for liquid ingredient handling. Mr. Toole said these systems interface with a bakery’s ERP management software to manage inventory levels, provide lot costing and track ingredients from receipt through finished product.
“Our customers rely on lot tracking for product recalls and product warnings as well as for better inventory management purposes,” he said.
Mr. Hunter noted mass flow discharge systems from bins and silos allow bakeries to carry out lot number tracking for bulk ingredients and those that have been dispensed to intermediate silos. Bühler designs its systems to ensure accurate ingredient handling and physical separation of allergens or organic materials.
“Integrating bar code lot number capture systems with the pneumatic transfer line for bulk intake, or bag tipping points, will enable a bakery to prevent a system start-up if an operator tries to send the wrong ingredient to a destination bin,” he said.
Mr. Hunter added that product interlocking also prevents a transfer line from starting if the wrong ingredient is about to be put into an intake line.
To ensure accuracy, Mr. Toole recommended periodic calibration of all the measuring devices by trained in-house personnel.
“Calibrating these devices will confirm the weight of ingredients are exact and as precise as possible,” he said. “This can help with calculating costs and find any discrepancies between amounts delivered versus quantities used.”
Mr. Toole added that calibration frequencies range from monthly or quarterly to weekly or even daily, depending on the needs of the operation.
Not a lot of water
From an ingredient handling perspective, controlling water usage and temperature — especially with temperamental doughs — safeguards critical process consistency from the get-go, said Darren Adams, vice-president of engineering, The Fred D. Pfening Co. Often bakeries need to use ice or mechanical chilling to ensure proper dough temperature.
“It’s really a science to determine what the right temperature of ingredients should be,” Mr. Adams said. “Sometimes, the easiest way to achieve that end dough temperature is to chill the mixing jacket itself. The dough is making contact with that very cold surface. More often, bakers just want to add as cold of water possible until they reach that dough temperature they need.”
Pfening’s Enviro-Blender incorporates up to three temperatures of water such as cold, city tap and hot water to reach a formula’s optimum level.
“When the water is not cold enough, we’ll make a brine solution, assuming the dough accepts salt, and we can then provide really cold water,” Mr. Adams explained.
The water-saving blender serves up to three mixers, gives a flow rate of up to 300 lbs a minute and offers 10 batch and temperature set-points with touchscreen controls. It also can be integrated into older equipment and in newer software management systems.
Mr. Adams added that Pfening’s metering system, with flow rates up to 400 lbs a minute, also handles oils, corn syrup and a variety of other liquid ingredients.

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).
ERA Implementation
•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.

 

 

 

 

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