FoodHACCP Newsletter



Food Safety Job Openings

 

03/08. QA Food Safety Manager - Minneapolis, MN
03/08. Remote Food Safety Auditor - Chicago, IL
03/08. Food Safety Specialist - Rice, TX
03/06. Director of Food Safety and Quality Assurance - Grand Rapids, MI
03/06. Quality Assurance Manager - San Antonio, TX
03/06. Food Safety & Quality Technician (Nights) - Twin Falls, ID
03/04. Food Safety Coordinator - Spokane, WA
03/04. Food Safety and Quality Assurance Coordinator - Arbuckle, CA
03/04. Food Safety & Quality Specialist - Redwood Falls, MN

 

03/11  2019 ISSUE:851

 

Florida company recalls organic sprouts from Whole Foods, Freedom Fresh
Source : https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2019/03/florida-company-recalls-organic-sprouts-from-whole-foods-freedom-fresh/
By News Desk (Mar 10, 2019)
Fullei Fresh of Miami is recalling organic bean sprouts because the Florida Department of Agriculture found a potentially deadly bacteria in a package of the fresh sprouts at a retail store.
The company shipped the sprouts to Whole Foods Markets in Florida and Miami-based Freedom Fresh, a distributor, according to its recall posted by the Food and Drug Administration. The recall notice does not include any information about where Freedom Fresh sent the fresh sprouts.
Although the recall notice is dated March 8, Fullei Fresh reported it shipped the organic bean sprouts on Feb. 18. The sprouts were marked with a sell-by date of Feb. 28. The company did not report what day the Florida inspectors collected the sample for testing.
The state’s tests confirmed the sprouts were contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause infections that often lead to serious medical conditions that sometimes result in death. The company reported to the FDA that it has not received any reports of confirmed illnesses in connection with the organic sprouts.
Consumers are urged to check their homes for unused portions of the recalled sprouts. Anyone who has the sprouts on hand should throw them away and throughly clean and disinfect anything that came into contact with them or their packaging, including refrigerators.
To identify the 4-ounce plastic clamshell containers of recalled organic sprouts, consumers should look for a lot code of 041, a sell by date of Feb. 28, and a UPC number of 017442052108.
Consumers with questions can call 305-758-3880.

Food safety issues unclear as U.K. nears Brexit; U.S. food safety regs questioned
Source : https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2019/03/food-safety-issues-up-in-the-air-as-u-k-approaches-brexit-u-s-food-targeted/
By Joe Whitworth (Mar 9, 2019)
The United Kingdom will lose access to RASFF after Brexit and Britain’s future relationship with EFSA remains unclear, according to the British public health minister. Britain’s future trade with U.S. food companies is also a question mark, with some in the U.K. saying certain food safety practices in the United States are unacceptable.
Questioned by the British Parliament’s Energy and Environment Committee this week, Minister Steve Brine, MP, confirmed the U.K. would not be able to vote in the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed or have access to the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) after the U.K.’s exit from the European Union later this month. The planned departure is also known as Brexit.
Brine admitted it is not known what the U.K.’s relationship with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) will be, and whether Britain will retain access to food safety risk assessment work.
Lord Robin Teverson, chair of the committee, said the lack of clarity is deeply concerning in the scenario that an agreement is reached and there is a transition period.
“During this time we will be required to follow the EU’s food safety rules and regulations, but we discovered . . . that the U.K. government has no idea whether we will have full access to EU risk assessments, or any access to their surveillance and information sharing mechanisms. This is deeply concerning,” Teverson said.
Members of the committee heard there was a significant level of uncertainty about what European Union systems the U.K. will still be part of and what it will need to do itself. The U.K. will be bound by EU food safety decisions, but Brine did not know whether it will be able to attend meetings of the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed where those decisions are made.
Brine told the committee he hoped access to RASFF could be negotiated and that the U.K. will continue to be able to work with EFSA. Committee members expressed doubts on the feasibility of that, given third-country participation is only possible if that country applies all related EU legislation.
If the U.K. leaves the European Union without a deal, all the food safety functions currently undertaken in Europe will have to be done domestically.
Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) Chairwoman Heather Hancock and the U.K.’s chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss, also gave evidence to the committee on how Brexit will impact food safety decision making.
Members of the committee heard the FSA was confident it has the resources needed to take on the functions of EFSA beginning March 29, if required, and additional systems and capabilities have been put in place to improve the U.K.’s surveillance capability.
“We understand that if the U.K. leaves the EU without a deal it will have to assess and manage food safety risks itself, and we were reassured by the extent of the preparations that the FSA have undertaken in this regard,” said Teverson.
Future trade deals
Minette Batters, National Farmers Union president, said it is not surprising that the U.S. wants access to the U.K.’s agricultural market and a trade deal that includes Britain accepting U.S. production standards and practices.
“It is imperative that any future trade deals, including a possible deal with the U.S., do not allow the imports of food produced to lower standards than those required of British farmers. We should not accept trade deals which allow food to be imported into this country produced in ways which would be illegal here,” Batters said.
The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) said members are reporting that overseas customers are cancelling orders and buying product from other countries because of the lack of clarity around Brexit. The association’s leaders said this will cause disruption to the supply chain and have financial consequences for British meat companies that may struggle to win back lost business.
Nick Allen, chief executive of the BMPA, said disruption has started and damage is already being done.
“Despite numerous crisis meetings with government officials, we are still no closer to getting definitive guidance on tariffs, certification and health marks that our members desperately need. The lack of clarity around Brexit is now causing orders to be cancelled and effectively closing-off once lucrative export markets to British firms,” Allen said.
British Poultry Council CEO Richard Griffiths said the country cannot afford to lower food standards in pursuit of trade deals.
“It is insulting of the U.S. to offer trade products that do not meet our high standards of food production,” Griffiths said.
“British food producers don’t dip their chicken carcass in chlorine as we do not believe in ‘cleaning up at the end’ or taking any short-cuts when it comes to producing food to high standards. Using chemicals to disinfect food at the end of a production process can hide a multitude of sins, but what it can’t hide is the need for their use in the first place.”
In an interview on the BBC Radio 4 “Today” program this week, U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. Woody Johnson claimed the U.S. has the lowest level of food poisoning rates.
Kath Dalmeny, chief executive of Sustain, said Johnson’s statement was “simply not true.” The organization represents about 100 national public interest organizations working at international, national, regional and local levels, according to its website.
“The U.S. and U.K. governments’ own figures show that food poisoning rates in the U.S. are anything up to 10 times higher than in the U.K., and that 380 people died of Salmonella food poisoning there, compared to none over the same period in the U.K.,” Dalmeny said.

 

 

 


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Federal food safety system remains on GAO’s High Risk List
Source : https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2019/03/federal-food-safety-system-remains-on-gaos-high-risk-list/
By Dan Flynn (Mar 9, 2019)
The federal government’s fragmented food safety program remains on the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s High Risk List. Federal oversight of food safety was first added to GAO’s High Risk List in 2007.
The list is updated every two years, and GAO has made recommendations to reduce fragmentation in federal food safety oversight.
But, the complex system of 30 federal laws administered by 15 federal agencies remains largely unchanged. That leaves federal food safety on the GAO High Risk List along with such areas of concern as the security clearance system, cybersecurity, and VA health services.
Department of Defense inventory management and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather forecasting enjoyed progress in getting off GAO’s list.
Congress uses the High Risk List to help set oversight agendas, with the GAO’s findings used in both agency-specific and government-wide reforms. The first list was published in 1990 and included 14 areas. Since then, 48 additions have been made to the list, and 26 removals. Two areas were consolidated into one. The GAO reported that progress on the list has resulted in $350 billion in financial benefits to the federal government.
In its latest publication, the GAO calls upon the federal food safety system to address three specific areas:
It calls for the Executive Office of the President (EOP) “in consultation with relevant federal agencies and other stakeholders” to develop a national strategy for food safety that establishes sustained leadership, identifies resource requirements, and describes how progress will be monitored. The GAO first made that recommendation in January 2017, but the president’s office has not responded to it.
It says USDA should more fully implement the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) Modernization Act of 2010 requirements by providing in its strategic and performance planning documents additional details on interagency food safety collaborations. USDA said it agreed with this GAO recommendation in December 2014.
And, GAO says Congress should consider directing the federal Executive Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to develop a governmentwide performance plan for food safety that includes results-oriented goals, performance measures, and a discussion of strategies and resources. Congress should also consider formalizing the Food Safety Working Group through statute to help ensure sustained leadership across food safety agencies over time.
The GAO, which in the past has called for consolidation of all federal food agencies into one, also suggests Congress at least look “alternative” organizational structures.
Among other shortcomings of the current federal food safety system, the GAO says the agencies are operating without a government-wide performance plan. Nor is there monitoring of the effectiveness of food safety programs.
The GAO High Risk List does recognize the January 2018 signed agreement between USDA and FDA, which formalizes ongoing coordination and collaboration in produce safety, biotechnology, and other areas as “positive.”
The GAO is scheduled to publish its next High Risk List in 2021.

New Study Shows Neighborhood Antibiotic Use Increases Resistance
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2019/new-study-shows-neighborhood-antibiotic-use-increases-resistance/
By Linda Larsen (Mar 8, 2019)
A new study, published in Israel and published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, found that increased use of antibiotics in certain neighborhoods is associated with an increased risk of acquiring an antibiotic-resistant infection. The scientists looked at fluoroquinolone-resistant E. coli bacteria found in urine cultures of Israelis in more than 1700 neighborhoods.
The authors say that this may mean that individual personal consumption of antibiotics isn’t the only way that antibiotic resistance is being spread. There may be a selective mechanism for resistance at the community level too.
The researchers collected medical records and demographic date on 2.4 million patients, and analyzed almost 5 million urine-culture specimens sent to Clalit Health Services from 2010 through 2014. They found that increasing consumption of fluoroquinolones in a given area was associated with increased risk of fluoroquinolone-susceptible urinary E. coli infections. This association was independent of other risk factors including age and previous hospitalizations.
However, personal antibiotics use is the most important factor in antibiotic resistance development. Personal fluoroquinolone consumption accounted for 46% of the cases of fluoroquinolone-resistant E. coli in women, while the neighborhood consumption accounted for 25%.
The scientists hypothesized that more crowded living conditions and the increased contact between people living in those neighborhoods could be a factor in the resistance development. That could increase the opportunity for cross-transmission of resistant bacteria in people’s guts. Antibiotics kill the sensitive bacteria in the intestines, which lets the resistant bacteria multiply and spread.
It may also be that antibiotics are not completely digested. If they escape into the environment, they can increase bacterial resistance. A study from the United Nations Environmental Programme found that up to 80% of antibiotics are excreted unmetabolized through urine and feces; resistant bacteria are also excreted. Even tiny amounts of antibiotics in streams and rivers can affect resistance.
The scientists concluded by stating that these findings emphasize the need to avoid unnecessary antibiotic use. Antibiotic resistant bacteria is a public health issue and threat.

Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Frozen Chicken in Canada Grows Again
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2019/salmonella-outbreak-frozen-chicken-canada/
By Linda Larsen (Mar 8, 2019)
The Salmonella outbreak in Canada that is linked to frozen breaded raw chicken and other raw chicken products has now grown to include 555 sick as of March 1, 2019. So far, twelve products have been recalled in association with this outbreak.
Salmonella Outbreak Raw Chicken Canada
The outbreak by province is: British Columbia (42), Alberta (84), Saskatchewan (18), Manitoba (27), Ontario (201), Quebec (115), New Brunswick (28), Nova Scotia (18), Prince Edward Island (6), Newfoundland and Labrador (12), Northwest Territories (1), Yukon (1), and Nunavut (2). Ninety-two people have been hospitalized because they are so ill.
There are two active investigations in this large outbreak. Nineteen people are sick in six provinces; they got sick between December 2018 and February 2019. One frozen raw breaded chicken product has been identified as the source of this outbreak; it is No Name Chicken Nuggets, Uncooked, Club Pack (2 kg), with a best before date of November 8, 2019. The UPC number is 0 60383 11693 4. The outer box lot code is 2019 NO 08 EST 374. Inner bag lot code: 3128M.
The second active investigation has identified 61 people sick in 10 provinces. They all contracted the infection between June 2018 nAD February 2019. Compliments Chicken Nuggets with a best before date of July 18, 2019 and UPC number 0 55742 33690 0 has been identified as a source of this outbreak, along with Crisp & Delicious Chicken Breast Nuggets with a best before date of July 19, 2019 and UPC number 0 69299 11703 5.
These types of products have been linked to Salmonella outbreaks in the United States as well. In 2015, A Salmonella Enteriditis outbreak that sickened at least 15 people was linked to Barber frozen Chicken Kiev. Four strains of Salmonella were identified; all of them were resistant to ampicillin and tetracycline.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include a fever, abdominal and stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that can be bloody and watery. Most people get sick within a few days of exposure to the pathogen, and most illnesses last for three to four days. Most people get better without medical intervention, but some do become sick enough to be hospitalized.

Raw Dog Food Can Be Risky For Humans and Pets
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2019/raw-dog-food-risky-humans-pets/
By Linda Larsen (Mar 7, 2019)
According to a new study published in Veterinary Record, raw meat based diets for dogs pose a threat to humans and the dogs because they can be contaminated with pathogens such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium, and Enterobacteriaceae.  The study showed that some of these raw products have high levels of pathogens.
Many recalls of frozen raw pet foods have been issued in the United States over the past few years. Those products have also been linked to human illnesses.
In 2018, one person was sickened with a Salmonella infection after feeding a family pet Darwin’s Natural raw ground chicken pet food. That product tested positive for  E. coli O128, Salmonella, and/or Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. And in January 2019, a Salmonella patient in Minnesota prompted a recall of Woody’s Pet Food Deli Raw Free Range Turkey pet food.
The study was conducted in Sweden. Researchers analyzed 60 frozen packs of raw dog food that were made by ten different manufacturers in the UK, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Germany. More than half contained levels of bacteria that were higher than the threshold set by the European Union.
Enterobacteriaceae, which is a pathogen used by food manufacturers as a hygiene marker, was found in all 60 raw dog food samples. Clostridium perfringens was found in two samples, Salmonella was found in four, and Campylobacter in three of the samples.
The study’s authors state that these findings show that people need to be careful when feeding their dogs and other pets raw food diets. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend consumers feed these foods to their pets.
The issue is that there are several ways that these pathogens can make their way from the pet food to people. One is by improper handling of the food that causes cross-contamination. Another is that the animal may contract an infection from the food and may not even show symptoms. Anyone who handles the animal’s feces, or who pets that animal, can pick up the pathogens on their hands and make themselves or others sick. Finally, since the pathogens are shed in the pet’s feces, they can pick up the pathogens on their feet and bring it into the house. This is especially dangerous if there are small children in the house who may crawl around on the floor.
In addition, the researchers warn that the elderly and people who impaired immune systems avoid these raw food products, because they are more susceptible to serious complications from a foodborne illness.

New Food Safety Guidelines May Be Coming
Source : https://www.qualityassurancemag.com/article/food-safety-new-guidelines/
By Edited by QA Staff (Mar 5, 2019)
The U.S. government plans to issue new guidelines for food companies as early as this week after an increase in recalls of meat and poultry products, Reuters reports.
The U.S. government plans to issue new guidelines for food companies as early as this week after an increase in recalls of meat and poultry products possibly containing metal, plastic and other foreign materials, NBC News reported.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will advise food makers to start internal investigations when they receive customer complaints and to notify the government within 24 hours if contaminated products are in the marketplace, Carmen Rottenberg, administrator of the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, said in an interview.
The voluntary guidelines, in the works for months, are designed to ensure companies meet pre-existing regulatory requirements, she told NBC News.
USDA records show that since the beginning of 2018, Tyson Foods Inc, Smithfield Foods Inc and other companies have launched more than 25 recalls involving millions of pounds of chicken nuggets, calzones, sausages and other foods that potentially contained dangerous materials.

New food safety guidelines expected after spike in meat and poultry recalls
Source : https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/new-food-safety-guidelines-expected-after-spike-meat-poultry-recalls-n979161
By euters (Mar 5, 2019)
More food prepared by machines contributes to more parts breaking off and contaminating food, consumer advocates say.
The U.S. government plans to issue new guidelines for food companies as early as this week after an increase in recalls of meat and poultry products possibly containing metal, plastic and other foreign materials, a food-safety official said on Monday.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will advise food makers to start internal investigations when they receive customer complaints and to notify the government within 24 hours if contaminated products are in the marketplace, Carmen Rottenberg, administrator of the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, said in an interview.
The voluntary guidelines, in the works for months, are designed to ensure companies meet pre-existing regulatory requirements, she said.
USDA records show that since the beginning of 2018, Tyson Foods Inc, Smithfield Foods Inc and other companies have launched more than 25 recalls involving millions of pounds of chicken nuggets, calzones, sausages and other foods that potentially contained dangerous materials.
Consumer advocates say increased automation in meat processing plants has contributed to more machine parts breaking off and contaminating food. The meat industry says producers are reluctant to recall food until they investigate whether consumer complaints about foreign objects are legitimate.
Multiple consumer complaints have often preceded recalls, the USDA said in the agenda for a monthly meeting that two consumer advocates provided to Reuters last week.
In an interview to answer questions about the meeting agenda, Rottenberg said recalls may have increased because the USDA has put more focus on ensuring that food companies and government inspectors know the requirements for recalling products.
The new guidelines will advise food makers on how to investigate and process complaints and apply information from them to subsequent reports of contaminated products, she said.
"Taking very prompt action is what's really critical to the agency," Rottenberg said.
A trio of recalls of Tyson Foods, Perdue Foods and Pilgrim's Pride Corp chicken products that may have contained rubber or wood put a spotlight on food-safety risks in January and February.
In a separate recall on Feb. 23, frozen food maker Bellisio Foods said there may have been pieces of glass or hard plastic in Boston Market brand barbecue pork prepared meals. The recall affected about 173,376 pounds of products.
On Saturday, privately held Agri Beef recalled about 30,260 pounds of ground beef products produced in its Washington Beef facility in Washington state. Two days earlier, a consumer complained about finding blue plastic in a product, according to the company, which said it was auditing its procedures to prevent future contamination.
"Foreign matter contamination, it's a reflection on something going awry in the inspection process and the quality control process of a company," said Thomas Gremillion, director of food policy for the Consumer Federation of America.
Representatives for Perdue Foods, Pilgrim's Pride, JBS, and WH Group's Smithfield Foods did not respond to requests for comment or had no immediate comment. Tyson said instances of foreign materials in its products were rare.
"If they happen we move quickly to notify those affected and take corrective action," Tyson spokesman Worth Sparkman said.
MORE FOOD PREPARED BY MACHINES
The North American Meat Institute, an industry group that represents Tyson and other companies, in August published its best practices for handling customer complaints about foreign materials in meat and poultry. They were reviewed by the USDA.
"Frankly a lot of consumer complaints are bogus," said Mark Dopp, senior vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs for the group. He said companies often need time to analyze the veracity of complaints before taking action. Technology also helps meat companies detect foreign materials in food before it is shipped to consumers, according to the meat institute.
Rottenberg said food companies must alert the USDA quickly if they receive customer complaints, which sometimes come with photos of meat and poultry products containing foreign materials.
"Companies know whether there's a legitimate concern or whether someone's taking a picture of something that never could have been in their product," she said.
Tony Corbo, a senior lobbyist for Food & Water Watch, said recalls have ticked up partly because more food in meat plants is being prepared by machines with parts that can break off.
"Obviously the agency is starting to see that this is an alarming trend in terms of all these recalls," Corbo said.

Like eggs over easy warning letters follow last year’s violations
Source : https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2019/03/like-eggs-over-easy-warning-letters-follow-last-years-violations/
By Dan Flynn (Mar 4, 2019)
Shell egg farms in Alabama and New York inspected last year by the Food and Drug Administration were recently warned about the serious violations FDA discovered.
In the warning letters, FDA discloses more details about a previously reported outbreak and reports  that the  Salmonella Enteritidis or SE outbreak caused a cage-free egg producer to cease operations.
Alabama’s Gravel Ridge Farms in Cullman was the likely source of a multi-state SE outbreak that last year sickened 44 people in 11 states, FDA says in the recently released warning letter dated Feb. 12, 2019.
As consequence, Gravel Ridge recalled 660,000 shell eggs between May 22 and Aug. 29, 2018. It was one of two large shell egg recalls that occurred last year.   The other involved a Salmonella Braenderup outbreak.
FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) Network and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigated the outbreak. A match to the outbreak strain was turned up from an environmental swab in laying house 2 at Gravel Ridge Farms.
The warning letter says FDA’s “Whole Genome Sequence (WGS) analysis of these isolates of SE revealed that they are genetically identical to 45 clinical isolates from ill patients sequenced to date.”
“Moreover, as you are aware, CDC and FDA have dtermined, based on the epidemiological, traceback, and laboratory evidence, that shell eggs produced at your Cullman, Alabama location are the likely source of this multi-state SE outbreak,” it continued.
The other warning letter, also dated Feb. 12, 2019, went to New York’s Walnut Ridge Farm 1 in Ovid. Walnut Ridge was inspected last Aug. 1 and 2; and the inspection of Gravel Ridge first occurring from Sept. 5-7, 2018
with followup visits on Sept. 12, 20, and 25.
The FDA warning letters, to Walnut Ridge owner Samuel T, Peachey and Gravel Ridge’s co-owners Dustin P. Smith and Daniel B. Wright, say thetwo egg farms are operating in violation of FDA’s egg safety rule.
Shell egg producers with 50,000 or more laying hens are required to adhere to the Egg Safety Rule. FDA adopted the Egg Rule to prevent Salmonella Enteriditis (SE) from contaminating eggs on the farm and during storage and transportation. It’s been in effect since July 2010.
Here’s the rundown from the two warning letters on the major violations by farm:
Gravel Ridge Farm (Linked to outbreak)
Did not implement a written Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) Prevention Plan
A draft SE plan submitted during the inspection failed to include a requirement that procured pullets are SE monitored or raised under SE monitored conditions.
Nor did the draft plan promise to purchase chicks only form SE monitored breeder flocks.
And the draft plan does not provide for testing the pullet environment for SE at 14-to16 weeks of age.
No protection against cross-contamination from visitors to the farm or poultry houses or preventive measure to defend against wild birds, cats, other animals.
No biosecurity measures.
Rodents, flies and other pests are not controlled.
Failure to conduct environmental tests for each poultry house.
Walnut Ridge Farm 1
Failed to implement a written, farm-specific SE prevention plan.
 Documentation was not provided for testing  the pullet environment at 14-to16 weeks
No records of SE prevention measures
Rodent monitoring was being conducted only outside the poultry houses, not inside as also required.
The future of Gravel Ridge Farm remains unclear.  “We are aware you have currently recalled all eggs, depopulated all flocks, and have ceased egg production,” the warning letter says.   “Your response states you are unlikely to become operational “.
The Hyde County unit of the national egg producer Rise Acre Farms was the likely source of last year’s Salmonella Braenderup outbreak.   The Seymour, IN-based Rose Acre recalled almost 207 million shell eggs for possible contamination with the Salmonella bacteria.    In the same outbreak, Cal-Maine Foods recalled 280,800 eggs it purchased from Rose Acre Farms.
The Salmonella Braenderup outbreak.sickened 45 people in ten states, and was declared over on last July 26 by CDC.

More “fake meat” skirmishes breaking out as Missouri settlement takes time
Source : https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2019/03/more-fake-meat-skirmishes-breaking-out-as-missouri-settlement-takes-time/
By Dan Flynn (Mar 4, 2019)
Attorneys have again told federal Judge Fernando J. Gaitan, Jr that they have a “tentative settlement” in the Turtle Island Foods versus Missouri case, but they say they need more time in mediation to work on “final language and approval of necessary officials.”
Turtle Island Foods v. Missouri is the challenge by Turtle Island Foods in U.S. District Court for Western Missouri over the state’s 2018 prohibition for using meat and meat-like terms for plant-based or lab-grown competitors.
Judge Gaitan has ordered the parties in the case to either file a stipulation of dismissal of the case or provide the court with details of the settlement before April 1.
ACLU of Missouri Foundation attorney Anthony E. Rothert, representing Turtle Foods, and Deputy Missouri Solicitor General Julie Marie Blake, representing state Attorney General Joshua D. Hawley, are the negotiators in the tentative settlement. Assistant AG Peter A. Houser is assisting Blake.
Turtle Island Foods produces Tofurky brand products. It is joined by The Good Food Institute, a non-governmental organization that promotes a vision of meat alternatives replacing the need for animal agriculture.
When Turtle island’s complaint was filed in federal court last August just as the new Missouri law was taking effect, it seemed that a “battle royal” was in the works. The complaint sought both declaratory and injunctive relief under a civil rights action.
And the AG responded last December, it answered to the complaint with language pointing to a strategy of not giving an inch to the Plaintiffs. To all but the most minor of statements in the Plaintiff’s brief, the Missouri AG’s response was: “The State is without sufficient knowledge or information to form a belief as to the truth of the allegationsa…and, therefore, denies the same.”
As 2019 got underway, anyone without insider knowledge of the case would have assumed a negotiated settlement wasn’t at all likely. But by the end of January, the parties announced the tentative settlement and said details would be made public in early March.
The only thing that changed is that it is taking a little longer.
The Turtle Island Foods complaint includes copies of Tofurky brand products. It asserts a commercial free speech right to use “meat” words like Burger, Sausage, and Hot Dog as Veggie Burger, Chorizo Style Sausage, and Plant-based Hot Dogs.  The term “Plant-Based” is prominent on several of its packages.
A compromise or settlement in Missouri, however, is not slowing down a campaign against “fake meat” labeling in other states.  A few examples:
In South Dakota, the “misbranding” legislation passed the Senate on a 33-to 0 vote last week and is expected to sail through the 70-member House of Representatives this week.
Also last week, the Mississippi House voted 117-to-0 in favor of Senate Bill 2922, prohibiting the labeling of animal cultures, plants or insects. SB 2922, which earlier passed the Senate, is now on the governor’s desk.
A Washington State bill comes down the hardest on lab-grown meat. It would make it a crime to sell the product and bar state funds from being used in the research.
While plant-based meat substitutes are not new, product improvement has helped grow their sales to the $1.5 billion range. Lab-grown meat, however, for now, remains in the laboratory. Cultured meat may be the future, but it isn’t yet available in supermarkets and restaurants.

 

 

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