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Updated: 1 hour 19 min ago

Briefly: Royal restrictions — Sick leave — Camel urine cocktails

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 00:01

Every hour of every day people around the world are living with and working to resolve food safety issues. Here is a sampling of current headlines for your consumption, brought to you today with the support of Alchemy Systems.

Photo illustration

Sick leave shown to control foodborne illnesses
There’s growing evidence that paid sick leave can help control the spread of diseases carried by food workers. The news comes as restaurant workers are increasingly involved in a multi-state hepatitis A outbreak that has sickened more than 1,200 people, killing dozens.

Research published in late 2017 showed that foodborne illness rates decreased by 22 percent after implementation of paid sick leave law in jurisdictions with laws more supportive of employees taking leave. Foodborne illness rates increased in jurisdictions with laws that are less supportive of workers.

This is particularly important information because more than 50 percent of foodborne illness outbreaks originate from food and beverage establishments, according to public health officials. “Forty-six percent of restaurant-associated outbreaks implicate an infected food worker, which tend to infect a median of twice as many people than other outbreaks, according to the research”

Previous studies suggest an association between paid sick leave and better population health, including fewer infectious disease outbreaks. View the study “Association of Paid Sick Leave Laws With Foodborne Illness Rates” here.

This week, Prince Harry, second from left, and his bride to be Meghan Markle, far left, visited an area of London to see work being done to combat knife crime in the city.

Royal food safety rules for princess to be
With her marriage to Prince Harry, Meghan Markle will have new food safety rules on the list of changes she will make when she becomes a member of the British royal family.

Because of fears that untimely gastro upset could disrupt the public duties of the royal clan, shellfish and other specific foods are off the menu.

Along with rare meat, under-cooked eggs, foreign water, and overly spicy or exotic food, the risk of contracting foodborne illness outweighs the consumption of shellfish as “the royal entourage likes progress to run smoothly, free from the disruptions of gastronomic indisposition,” the BBC reports.

Whether upstairs or downstairs, Brits and Yanks alike could benefit from a review of the royal rules. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, poisoning from shellfish occurs worldwide but is most common in temperate waters, especially off the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts of North America. Cases have also been reported from countries such as the Philippines, China, Chile, Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia.

Camel urine/milk brew spurs health warnings
An Islamist leader recently posted a video of himself drinking a “bitter and rich” mix of camel urine and raw camel milk that has sparked controversy because of his claims of health benefits.

Both Muslim and non-Muslim scientists disagree with such medicinal claims, arguing that consumption of camel urine can spread diseases like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS). In 2012, the disease was discovered in Saudi Arabia. It killed at least 36 people during a 2015 outbreak in South Korea.

Additionally, the World Health Organization said the virus can be avoided by eliminating contact with camels, drinking raw camel milk or camel urine, or eating meat that has not been properly cooked.

In recent months U.S. officials seized more than $70,000 in raw camel milk products stored in a warehouse in Kansas City, KS, including some bearing labels from a Missouri dairy. It is against federal law to ship any unpasteurized milk across state lines.

As with raw milk from any mammal, raw camel milk can carry pathogens, parasites and viruses that can be eliminated with simple pasteurization.

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Don’t get ejected from the playoff party for food safety fouls

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 00:00

The NFL playoffs are often a time for gatherings of family and friends for fun and food.

Just as a team cannot be successful unless all the players are on the same page, game-day feasting must follow a food safety playbook to avoid painful penalties. Hosts and guests must buy in to the basic rules of food safety to avoid a yellow flag on seven-layer dip.

With only eight teams left in the post-season battle for the Super Bowl, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is reminding people about how to keep foodborne illness on the bench and out of the game when preparing for and participating in playoff parties.

Tackle food poisoning fears in the kitchen by following these four simple rules:

Clean — According to the Food and Drug Administration, 25 percent of people don’t wash their hands before preparing food. By washing hands frequently with warm soapy water for 20 seconds, especially after handling raw foods including meat, poultry and fresh produce, the spread of germs and foodborne illness can be reduced and prevented. While enjoying foods, encourage party guests to wash their hands before and after eating. The USDA even suggests providing disposable towelettes nearby for a quick touch up during timeouts.

Cloth kitchen towels are a major source of cross-contamination and frequently spread bacteria and viruses. Used towels should be removed from the kitchen as soon as they are soiled. Paper towels should never be reused, but can be safer than cloth towels is properly used.

Separate — It’s the offense and defense when it comes to food safety habits. Avoiding cross-contamination starts at the grocery store. Separate raw meat and poultry from produce and other food items in your shopping cart. Place raw foods in plastic bags to prevent their juices, which may contain harmful bacteria, from contaminating other foods. When preparing your Super Bowl treats, cut fruits and veggies on a designated cutting board and keep it separate from where you prepare other raw meat and poultry products.

Cook — Whatever you choose to serve, use your food thermometer. It is the only way to ensure the safety of meat, poultry, seafood and egg dishes. If your Super Bowl menu includes chicken wings, they should reach a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees F. No matter what your Uncle Buck believes, USDA research proves that color and texture are unreliable indicators of safety and doneness for meat, poultry and seafood.

Chill — To keep food out of the “Danger Zone”  of 40 degrees F to 140 degrees F, keep hot foods like pizza and wings hot, and cold foods like guacamole and cream cheese dip cold. When setting food out, be sure to serve cold foods in small portions, keeping refills cool in the fridge until they are needed. Remember that you can use an ice bath to keep cold foods cold, and keep hot foods in a pre-heated oven. Since most games last longer than two hours — the cutoff for leaving food at room temperature — remember to refrigerate leftovers during the fourth-quarter commercials if they’ve been on the table since the pre-game show.

 

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How sweet it is? EFSA seeks suggestions on sugar research

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 00:00

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), an agency of the European Union that provides independent scientific advice and communicates on existing and emerging risks associated with the food chain, is seeking feedback on the approach it plans to take for its upcoming assessment of dietary sugars. The aim of the assessment is to establish a cut-off value for intake of “free” sugars that are not associated with adverse health effects.

EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies (NDA) has drafted a protocol to define the methods for:

  • collecting data (i.e. which data to use for the assessment and how to identify and select them);
  • appraising the relevant evidence; and
  • analyzing and integrating the evidence to draw conclusions that will form the basis of the scientific opinion.

Dominique Turck, Chair of EFSA’s NDA Panel, said: “This is an important and complex piece of work, which is why we want to give our stakeholders and members of the public the opportunity to comment on our approach before we start the assessment.

“We are looking forward to receiving comments and suggestions from across the scientific community that will help us to optimise both the transparency and the methodological rigor of this assessment.”

Interested parties can submit comments on the protocol until March 4.

The EFSA has scheduled a technical meeting in Brussels on Feb. 13 to discuss the methodology that will be used in the assessment. Registration for the event is now open.

Sugar by another name is still sugar
Free sugars comprise monosaccharides (glucose, fructose, galactose) and disaccharides (sucrose, lactose, maltose, trehalose) added to foods by manufacturers or consumers plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices, and fruit juice concentrates.

The health effects under consideration will include micronutrient intake and status, body weight and obesity, glucose homeostasis and type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular risk factors and diseases, liver function and dental caries.

The advice – requested by the national food authorities of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden – will help the Member States to establish recommendations on the consumption of free sugars and to plan food-based dietary guidelines.

In 2010, EFSA provided advice on dietary reference values (DRVs) for carbohydrates and dietary fiber, which included sugar. At the time, the available evidence was insufficient to set an upper limit for the daily intake of total or added sugars.

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Two more Utah restaurants’ customers exposed to hepatitis A

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 00:39

Two restaurants in Utah are linked to a hepatitis A outbreak in the state that has been ongoing since August. The report from state health authorities comes almost too late for the restaurant’s customers to seek post-exposure treatment to avoid infection.

Earlier this month Utah officials reported that a 7-Eleven employee could have exposed thousands to the virus by working while infected. That announcement came very late during the window of opportunity for post-treatment, leaving people only a couple of days to seek preventive treatment. The post-exposure treatment must be given within two weeks of exposure to the virus.

For the most recent restaurant exposure situations, health officials are advising  anyone who ate, drank or used the restrooms at Sonic Drive-In or Olive Garden in Spanish Fork on certain days in December to monitor themselves for signs of hepatitis A infection. It can take up to 50 days for symptoms to develop.

Each of the restaurants had an infected employee who was working while contagious, the department said.

The at-risk period for customers of the Sonic on North Main Street in Spanish Fork was Dec. 23 and 24. For the Olive Garden on North Canyon Creek Parkway in Spanish Fork, customers who were there anytime from Dec. 21-30 may have been exposed to the virus, according to a statement from the Utah County Health Department.

The department is making vaccinations available to those who may have been exposed to the disease. As of Jan. 8, Utah had confirmed 133 outbreak associated cases of hepatitis A.

Health officials encourage vaccine for foodservice employees
Since Jan. 1, 2017, Utah’s public health staff has identified 152 confirmed cases of hepatitis A virus infection. Many of the people are homeless and/or substance abusers. Several cases have been linked by investigation and/or viral sequencing to a national outbreak of hepatitis A involving cases in California, Arizona, Michigan, Kentucky and other states.

An increasing number of people who are neither homeless nor substance abusers are being exposed and becoming infected with the virus via foodservice workers at restaurants and other retail locations that sell food. Generally, people are contagious before symptoms begin, and some infected people never develop symptoms.

Hospitalization rates of less than 40 percent have been the norm in previous hepatitis A outbreaks. However, jurisdictions associated with the current outbreak are reporting  hospitalization rates approaching 70 percent. The high rate of hospitalization may be a result of cases having underlying illnesses such as alcoholism and other substance abuse.

Hepatitis A is usually spread through having oral contact with items contaminated with hepatitis A, for example, through ingesting food or drinks contaminated by microscopic amounts of infected feces that cannot be seen by the human eye. If symptoms occur, they usually appear anywhere from 2-6 weeks after exposure.

Symptoms usually develop over a period of several days, and may include the yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, abdominal pain, nausea or diarrhea. Hepatitis A vaccination is the best way to prevent hepatitis A infection.

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UPDATE: Roe recalled nationwide in Canada for botulism risk

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 00:03

Canadian officials posted an expanded recall, including additional distribution information, indicating recalled roe may have been distributed nationwide.

Imperial Caviar & Seafood has expanded its Jan. 3 warning to include retail locations in New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec and possibly the entire nation because of concern with regard to the distribution of recalled roe that carries a risk of botulism poisoning.

Initially, Imperial Caviar & Seafood recalled VIP Caviar Club brand recalled a limited amount of trout roe that had been distributed in Quebec in November 2017. Soon after, the company expanded the recall in December 2017 to include additional trout roe in Ontario.

The Jan. 3 recall included certain lots of Whitefish Roe and Salmon Roe listed below, that had been distributed across Canada in 50-gram containers:

Brand Name Common Name Size  Product codes UPC VIP Caviar Club Salmon Roe 50 g 27017-02 BB: 27-SEP-18 1 86866 90024 8 VIP Caviar Club Salmon Roe 50 g 19417-01 BB: 13-07-2018 1 86866 90024 8 Imperial Caviar & Seafood Whitefish Roe 50 g 17917-02 BB: 28-JUN-2018 1 86866 90027 9

 

The above items remain under recall with only the update of additional distribution information, according to yesterday’s recall by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

To date, no illnesses have been confirmed in relation to the recalled roe.

“Check to see if you have recalled products in your home. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased,” according to the recall notice on the CFIA website.

“Food contaminated with Clostridium botulinum toxin may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, blurred or double vision, dry mouth, respiratory failure and paralysis. In severe cases of illness, people may die,” according to the notice

In foodborne botulism, symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food, but they can occur as soon as six hours or as long as 10 days after exposure.

Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled fish eggs and developed symptoms of botulism poisoning should immediately seek medical attention and inform their doctors about the possible exposure.

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CDC names top five foodborne illnesses in United States

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 00:00

The top five germs that cause illnesses from food eaten in the United States are norovirus, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, Campylobacter and Staphylococcus aureus, aka staph.

Some other germs don’t cause as many illnesses, but when they do, the diseases are more likely to lead to hospitalization. Those germs include E coli, Clostridium botulinum (which causes botulism), Listeria, Vibrio and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) often called E. coli O157.

What causes food poisoning?

Many different disease-causing germs can contaminate foods and there are many foodborne infections.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year 48 million people in the United States get sick from a foodborne illness. Of those, 128,000 require hospitalization and 3,000 die.

Researchers have identified more than 250 foodborne diseases. Most of them result in infections, caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses and parasites. Harmful toxins and chemicals also can contaminate foods and cause foodborne illness.

Do I have food poisoning?
Common symptoms of foodborne diseases are nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea. However, symptoms vary among the different types of foodborne illnesses and among different individuals.

Symptoms can sometimes be severe, and some foodborne illnesses can even be life-threatening. Although anyone can get a foodborne illness, some people are more likely to develop one with serious implications. Those groups include:

  • Young children;
  • Older adults;
  • Pregnant women; and
  • People with immune systems weakened from medical conditions, such as diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, organ transplants, HIV/AIDS, or from receiving chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

Most people with a foodborne illness get better without medical treatment, but people with severe symptoms should see their doctor.

Anyone can get sick from eating contaminated food. Practice the four simple food safety steps – clean, separate, cook, and chill – to lower your chance of food poisoning and to protect yourself and your loved ones.

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Salmonella outbreak in Chile linked to homemade mayo

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 00:00

A large Salmonella outbreak affecting 174 people in the Bío Bío Region of Chile has been linked to homemade mayonnaise from a local restaurant in the city of Lota.

“The Seremi de Salud Bío Bío confirmed 174 cases of salmonella making it the largest outbreak of the last four years nationwide and the largest recorded in the Bío Bío Region,” according to reports from South American media.

The restaurant, Dulce y Salado, was closed last week in hopes of halting further illness. However, of the 174 reported cases, there have been 25 hospitalizations. The outbreak victims range from 1 to 91 years old.

Health officials are investigating whether raw egg was the source of the salmonella and the strain is being identified.

In recent years there have been a number of foodborne illnesses and outbreaks in the United States traced to homemade or restaurant-made mayonnaise.

Symptoms of Salmonella can include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In severe cases, the infection can be fatal. Infants, young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with a weakened immune system are at greatest risk.

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Canada declares outbreak over; CDC, FDA still investigating

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 23:24

Canadian officials said today an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce is over, but U.S. officials are continuing to investigate the deadly foodborne illness outbreak that they believe is linked to leafy greens.

Both countries’ public health officials posted updates on the outbreak today stressing that there is little remaining danger to the public because the most recent victim became sick Dec. 12, 2017.

“Leafy greens typically have a short shelf life, and since the last illness started a month ago, it is likely that contaminated leafy greens linked to this outbreak are no longer available for sale,” according to today’s media statement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Between the two countries, 66 people have been infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7, with each country reporting one death. In the United States, there are 24 confirmed victims across 15 states. In Canada there are 42 victims across five provinces.

“Illnesses started on dates from Nov. 15 through Dec. 12, 2017,” the CDC reported today. “Among the 18 ill people for whom CDC has information, nine were hospitalized, including one person in California who died. Two people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure.”

Many of the sick people reported eating romaine lettuce in various forms from grocery stores, restaurants and other locations. The Public Health Agency of Canada began advising people in the five implicated provinces to consider not eating romaine until further notice. The agency ended that advisory today.

To view a larger version of this information graphic, please click on the image. Source: CDC

In the U.S., the CDC did not make any recommendations to the public about avoiding any foods in its initial Dec. 28, 2017, media statement on the outbreak or in today’s update.To date, only half of the U.S. victims have been interviewed by outbreak investigators.

“The likely source of the outbreak in the United States appears to be leafy greens, but officials have not specifically identified a type of leafy greens eaten by people who became ill,” the CDC reported today.

“State and local public health officials continue to interview sick people in the United States to determine what they ate in the week before their illness started. Of 13 people interviewed, all 13 reported eating leafy greens. Five of nine ill people specifically reported eating romaine lettuce.”

Little transparency during outbreak
Neither country released any information about produce growers, suppliers or any other entities in the farm-to-fork continuum in connection to the outbreak.

No recalls have been initiated, but some retailers and restaurants temporarily pulled romaine lettuce from shelves and menus. Consumer Reports recommended that consumers avoid romaine lettuce until the outbreak cause was determined.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency — which is similar to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — tested samples of romaine lettuce as part of the outbreak investigation. Today the Canadian officials revealed that all food samples tested negative.

In the U.S., the FDA, which had not posted any public information about the outbreak until today, is assisting the CDC, but has virtually nothing to report.

“The FDA’s outbreak investigation team is working with CDC and state and local officials to determine what ill people ate, where they bought it, and the distribution chain — all with the goal of reaching where these foods were produced, to see if there’s any common food or point where the food might have become contaminated.”

Industry, watchdog reactions
The statements today spurred very different reactions from produce industry groups and consumer advocates.

A coalition of produce marketing and lobbying groups — United Fresh Produce Association, Arizona and California LGMAs, Canadian Produce Marketing Association, Produce Marketing Association and Western Growers — welcomed the statements as vindication.

“In collaboration with our association colleagues we’d like to share the following update to last week’s communications regarding the E. coli O157:H7 foodborne illness outbreak that has impacted many (of our) members,” the produce groups’ release said.

“… the undersigned organizations call your attention to the following details:

“Public health agencies in both the United States and Canada are informing consumers that there are no concerns about consuming any particular food, while they continue their investigations into what caused this E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that began in November.

“Based on these statements, both governments have concluded that the food responsible for this foodborne illness outbreak is no longer in the market.

“The industry associations are committed to working with government agencies in both the United States and Canada to assist with the ongoing investigations.”

There is a very different view at Consumers Union, which is the policy and mobilization division of Consumer Reports. Food safety advocates there “continue to think it prudent to avoid romaine lettuce for now,” according to Jean Halloran, director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union.

In a media statement, Halloran urged the CDC and Canadian officials to share their raw data on the outbreak and called on the FDA to request and review internal bacterial testing data from producers of romaine lettuce in order to pinpoint the source of the E. coli bacteria that has triggered the illnesses.

“This is a dangerous strain of E. coli that can cause severe illness and even death,” said Halloran’s statement. “Health officials need to take more aggressive steps to protect the public. In order to ensure that this threat to consumers’ health won’t continue or happen again, the government needs to identify the source.”

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Tick tock goes the outbreak clock — nine weeks and counting

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 00:04

Consumers, lettuce growers, retailers and restaurants in the United States are still stuck between the romaine and the risk as federal agencies continue to withhold information about a deadly E. coli outbreak.

That may change today as some people in the food chain have an inkling the Food and Drug Administration and/or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may break the silence. Members of Congress, produce industry groups and consumer advocates have been cranking up the pressure on the two U.S. agencies to reveal what they know, even if it isn’t definitive.

Some grocery retailers and foodservice operators, including Wendy’s fast food chain, have stopped selling and serving romaine lettuce until there is more information about the cause of the outbreak. Consumer Reports is recommending that people stop eating romaine lettuce until more information is made public.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, D-CT, sent a list of pointed questions to the CDC director Monday. Four days earlier produce industry groups jointly issued a statement, in part to reassure consumers.

“Our leading produce industry associations have and will continue to cooperate fully with public health officials investigating this foodborne illness outbreak,” the produce groups’ statement says.

Turning to the government, the produce industry leaders slammed the ball into the CDC’s court, even though the FDA is the regulatory agency with jurisdiction over food.

“No public agency has contacted any romaine lettuce grower, shipper or processor and requested that they either stop shipping or recall product already in the marketplace,” according to the six product industry groups.

None of the groups responded to requests for further comment on the situation. The organizations that joined to issue the statement are:

Nine weeks and counting
Today marks the beginning of Week 9 since the first outbreak victim in the U.S. was confirmed with an infection from E. coli O157:H7. The two-nation outbreak has sickened 58 people in Canada and the United States, with each country reporting one death in their most recent statements.

Canadian officials announced the outbreak Dec. 11 and on Dec. 14 began recommending that people avoid eating romaine lettuce until further notice because it was the likely source of the E. coli. Laboratory testing has shown that outbreak victims in the U.S. and Canada are infected with the same strain, indicating a common food source.

In the United States, the CDC did not release any information about the outbreak until it posted a news release — not an outbreak notice — on Dec. 28. The agency has not posted any additional information since then. The FDA has not publicly posted any information, but has confirmed for Food Safety News that it is involved in the investigation.

No products have been recalled and neither Canadian nor U.S. officials have released any information about brands of romaine lettuce, growers, distributers, retailers or foodservice operations that may have sold the implicated romaine.

It is not known if all forms of romaine — head, leaves, hearts and chopped — are implicated. However, Canadian officials have reported that confirmed victims have reported eating romaine lettuce in all forms, at home and in restaurants before becoming ill.

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Briefly: Shame game — Flying high — Produce pesticides

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 00:02

Every hour of every day people around the world are living with and working to resolve food safety issues. Here is a sampling of current headlines for your consumption, brought to you today with the support of Alchemy Systems.

The ABCs of Milwaukee restaurant grades
Milwaukee residents will soon be seeing letter grades that reflect the number of health code violations at local restaurants. The report card approach has been adopted in a number of cities to raise awareness and encourage foodservice operators to step up food safety efforts.

Restaurants in Milwaukee will receive an A, B, or C. If they earn a C it doesn’t mean what some might think. The C grade is not considered “passing” and most likely will result in temporary closure.

According to a recent post on Barf Blog “In 2018, letter grades will be given to restaurants inspected by the city but posting them will be voluntary. Then in 2019, all restaurants will need to put those grades up for the public to see.”

Regarding a lack of foodborne illness as “the goal” of the grades, Commissioner of Health Bevan Baker said that posting the letter grades will let everyone know exactly where a restaurant stands, and allow them to dine in confidence.

Gate Gourmet back in air after Listeria finding
After Listeria monocytogenes was discovered in November 2017 in its catering facility, the Gate Gourmet kitchen at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has returned to full service for Delta, and partial service for American.

Followed by Delta, American halted food deliveries from the Gate Gourmet kitchen on Nov. 1 until the kitchen’s food safety and public health issues could be resolved.

According to American, “During this period, we have been working extensively with outside food safety experts to ensure that any re-entry to their kitchen at LAX maintained our highest food safety standards,” further, “We also enlisted the support of a third-party expert, who inspected and substantiated the safety of their facility.”

Spokeswoman Nancy Jewell of the Gate Group said Sunday, “Food safety is our highest priority.”

“We reaffirm that our LAX facility is operating without restriction and continues to comply with all local and federal regulations as confirmed by independent food safety experts and agencies.”

Produce pesticide report shows high compliance
The most recent test results available show low or no pesticide levels in most fruits and vegetables in California, according to a report from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR)

Specifically, produce collected by  DPR was tested for about 400 types of pesticides, and showed results indicating that the vast majority of fruits and vegetables available for sale in California meet the state’s stringent pesticide safety standards.

Director of DPR Brian Leahy said “Once again this report shows that California consumers can have high confidence in the fresh fruits and vegetables available to them at stores,” and “A strong regulatory program gives guidance to the proficient farmers and pesticide applicators that grow the fruits and vegetables that are part of a healthy diet.”

If illegal residues are found in testing, the DPR immediately removes the illegal produce to prevent it from reaching consumers. The department also attempts to trace it to its source, then verifies that the produce is either destroyed or returned to its source.

Consumers can view the DPR’s 2016 Pesticide Residues in Fresh Produce report here.

 

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USDA drafts rule for eggs, egg substitutes used in many foods

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 00:01

Eggs and egg substitutes used as ingredients in other foods could be subject to new safety rules from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Safety plans and measures to ensure that eggs are free of pathogens like Salmonella are among the requirements of the proposed regulations.

The 252-page draft rule would require egg plants to use Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) planning. At so-called breaker plants, eggs are removed from their shells before they are divided into whole eggs, egg whites, and egg yolks.The egg products, in frozen, refrigerated, liquid and dried forms, are used in a vast number of food products

The purpose of the proposed rule is to modernize food safety inspection systems at egg products plants. Under HACCP systems, owners and managers of plants will be able to tailor food safety systems to best fit their particular facilities and equipment. Furthermore, FSIS plans to remove prescriptive regulations and give egg products plants the flexibility and incentive to innovate new means to achieve enhanced food safety.

“As we continue to modernize inspection systems and processes, we are committed to strengthening consistency across the services of FSIS inspection personnel carry out for the consuming public,” said Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Carmen Rottenberg.

“This proposed rule will ensure the same level of inspection and oversight of all regulated products as we carry out our public health mission.”

About 93 percent of egg products plants already operate under written HACCP plans for at least one step in their production processes. In addition to HACCP planning, the proposed regulations would require egg plants to adhere to Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures or Sanitation SOPs that are consistent with existing meat and poultry requirements.

The draft rule is designed to replace existing regulations concerning grounds and pest management, plant construction and sanitation including rooms, doors and windows and lighting and ventilation.

“The agency is proposing to replace all of these with general sanitation requirements, as it has previously done with the requirements on the same subjects in the meat and poultry product regulations,” according to FSIS officials.

A 120-day public comment period will begin as soon as the Federal Register publishes the new draft rule.

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Court shuts down large raw milk co-op; advocate done fighting

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 00:00

The outcome feared by raw milk advocates on both sides of the 48th parallel is now a reality. A judge in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, issued a permanent injunction against Our Farm Our Food Co-op. Justice P.W. Sutherland’s ruling — which restrains any further raw milk production without licenses — applies to all who know of the order.

Our Farm Our Food is a co-op cow share scheme. The cows were kept at Glencolton Farm near Durham at a farm owned by raw milk advocate Michael Schmidt and his wife, Elisa Vander Hout. It involved deliveries of raw milk on a weekly basis to the 150 families who owned so-called shares of the herd.

Under the judge’s orders, any further operations by the co-op will result in criminal charges against those involved. The order could mean the end of raw milk trade in Ontario or at least drive it underground.

Schmidt, Canada’s best known raw milk crusader, was recently sentenced to serve 60 days in jail after being found guilty of obstructing a peace officer. He is allowed to serve his time on weekends only, remaining free on weekdays.

The Ontario judge heard a separate civil case in May 2017. Schmidt says he is neither a member or an owner of the co-op. He told local media that the decision about whether to comply with the judge’s decision falls on co-op members, not him.

“I don’t have to fight for the right for raw milk for myself,” Schmidt said. “I have done that for 24 years… it’s up to other people. You can’t have people counting on you as the guy fighting for them. If you think it’s not right, you could go ahead and rock the boat.”

Unpasteurized, raw milk is heavily regulated in Canada and the United States. It is illegal for interstate transport in the U.S. because of its health hazards. Public health officials at local, state, national and international levels consistently recommend against consuming raw milk, raw cheeses and other raw milk products. Pasteurization kills the pathogens most frequently found in raw milk, including E. coli and Salmonella.

As for himself, Schmidt says he is putting new energy into building a concert hall at Glencolton Farm.

During the trial, a permanent injunction was defined as an order that would criminalize all distribution and potentially even the consumption of raw milk.

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Price Chopper, Market 32 stores recall sushi for risk of Listeria

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 21:13

Price Chopper and Market 32 Supermarkets are recalling many varieties of packaged AFC Sushi branded tuna sushi because of potential Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Photo illustration

The sushi was sold in various package styles at the deli section in Price Chopper and Market 32 Supermarkets stores, according to the recall notice on Price Chopper’s website.

“To date, affected sushi has only been found at the Price Chopper stories in Edwardsville, PA, at 180 Westside Mall, and in Rotterdam, NY, at 1879 Altamont Avenue, but, as a precaution, the sushi made with tuna manufactured by AFC Sushi has been recalled from all of the chain’s stores,” the companies said in a release.

According to the recall notice on the Price Chopper website, many customers who purchased the items have already been contacted through their SoundBite notification program. Anyone else who is concerned they may have the recalled product in their homes can check the list of UPC codes and names of affected products:

  • 2301200013 Plus Trio
  • 2301200017 Sushi Ultimate
  • 2301200023 Sushi Delight
  • 2301200024 Sushi Deluxe
  • 2301200026 Rock & Roll
  • 2301200037 Chef Sampler C
  • 2301200038 Chef Sampler D
  • 2301200039 Chef Sampler E
  • 2301200040 Jalapeno Roll
  • 2301200050 Spicy Roll (BR Rice)
  • 2301200070 Done Deal Roll
  • 2301200100 Spicy Roll
  • 2301200110 Hawaiian Roll
  • 2301200121 Rainbow Roll
  • 2301200210 Rainbow Roll Special
  • 2301200211 Super Calif Mix
  • 2301200212 Super Spicy Mix
  • 2301200252 Sunny Delight Party Tray
  • 2301200701 Happy Heart Platter
  • 2301250190 Red Chili Roll
  • 2301286181 Sashimi Sampler
  • 2301286209 G-Shock Roll
  • 2301286481 Chef Sampler A
  • 2301286482 Chef Sampler B
  • 2301290115 Hybrid Roku Platter
  • 2301290116 Hybrid Go Tray
  • 2301290117 Hybrid Yon Tray
  • 2301290118 Hybrid San Platter
  • 2301290119 Hybrid Ni Platter
  • 2301290120 Hybrid Ichi Platter
  • 2301290138 Spicy Tuna Roll SP
  • 2301290169 Spicy Tuna Roll SP (BR)
  • 2301290245 HYBRID MINI PLATTER
  • 2301290360 CLASSIC YUMMY ROLL
  • 2301290375 ABURI ALASKAN CHEESE ROLL
  • 2301290376 ROASTED EEL & CUKE ROLL
  • 2301290377 SEARED TUNA & MISO MAYO R
  • 2301290378 SHRIMP DYNAMITE ROLL
  • 2301290379 TUNA TATAKI ROLL
  • 2301290380 UNA MAYO ROLL

Listeria is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections, especially in pregnant women, young children, frail or elderly people, those with weakened immune systems and in unborn fetuses.

Others may experience only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Anyone who has eaten any of the implicated sushi and developed symptoms should seek medical attention immediately. It can take up to 70 days after exposure for symptoms to appear, so anyone who has eaten the sushi should monitor themselves for symptoms of infection in the coming weeks.

The retailers are offering consumers full refunds when they return the recalled sushi to stores. For additional information consumers can call AFC Sushi at 866-467-8744.

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Biscuits pulled in 23 states for Listeria risk; Mary B’s this time

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 21:01

Hom/Ade Foods Inc. is the latest food company to recall biscuits because of potential Listeria contamination. All of its Mary B’s brand biscuits with dates through Sept 23 are now recalled.

Recalls in the past month included biscuits under brands including Food LionSEG and Southern Home, and T. Marzetti Company’s Marshalls brand.

As with the other recalls, Hom/Ade Foods reported the potential Listeria monocytogenes contamination involved another company in the food supply chain.

“The problem was discovered in a product sampling conducted by an outside co-packer, who manufactured the product,” according to the recall.

Hom/Ade Foods distributed its recalled Mary’s B’s biscuit products to retailers in 23 states, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia and sold in retail stores.

The company says no illnesses have been reported in connection with the recalled item, but consumers should not eat them.

The Mary B’s products affected are frozen bagged biscuits with the UPC codes listed below; “All ‘Best If Used By’ dates BEFORE September 23, 2018 and with the letter ‘M’ immediately after the date are included in the recall.” Consumers can identify the UPC code on the back of the package, in the lower right corner.

UPC # DESCRIPTION COUNT PER PACKAGE 2059300007 MARY B’S JUMBO BUTTERMILK BISCUITS 35OZ 10 / 3.5OZ 2059300015 MARY B’S BUTTERMILK BISCUITS 26.4OZ 12 / 2.2OZ 2059300018 MARY B’S SOUTHERNMADE BISCUITS 26.4OZ 12 / 2.2OZ 2059300020 MARY B’S BUTTERMILK VALUE PACK BISCUITS 44OZ 20 / 2.2OZ 2059300021 MARY B’S SOUTHERNMADE VALUE PACK BISCUITS 44OZ 20 / 2.2OZ 2059300022 MARY B’s BUTTERMILK TEA BISCUITS 24OZ 24 / 1OZ 2059300023 MARY B’S BUTTERTASTE VALUE PACK BISCUITS 44OZ 20 / 2.2OZ 2059300028 MARY B’S THIN BUTTERMILK BISCUITS 28.6OZ 22 / 1.3OZ 2059300033 MARY B’S BUTTERMILK FAMILY PACK BISCUITS 60OZ 30 / 2OZ 2059300034 MARY B’S SOUTHERNMADE FAMILY PACK BISCUITS 60OZ 30 / 2OZ 2059300035 MARY B’S BUTTERTASTE FAMILY PACK BISCUITS 60OZ 30 / 2OZ 2059383000 MARY B’S BUTTERMILK 0 TRANS FAT 220CT BULK BISCUITS 220 / 2.2OZ 2059383004 MARY B’S BUTTERMILK BISCUITS 220CT BULK BISCUITS 220 / 2.2OZ 2059387000 MARY B’S MADE WITH WHOLE GRAIN 220CT BULK BISCUITS 220 / 2.2OZ 3059320583 MARY B’S 3.5 OZ JUMBO BUTTERMILK 144CT BULK BISCUITS

These biscuit products are not ready-to-eat.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Hom/Ade Foods Inc. is working with the FDA and supplier to fix the problem. Consumers can return affected products to the place of purchase for a full refund. Customers or consumers with questions can call Hom/Ade Foods Inc. at 1-855-562-7773.

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U.S. Rep says CDC is endangering lives; wants outbreak details

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 00:05

A member of Congress says the CDC’s response to a deadly and ongoing E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce is deeply alarming and endangering the public.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-CT, fired off a scathing letter Monday to Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. DeLauro, who has routinely championed food safety initiatives, slammed the CDC’s apparent lack of action and failure to provide pertinent information to the public. She said the CDC’s performance so far is too little, too late and too dangerous.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-CT

First revealed by Canadian officials on Dec. 11, a total of 58 people in Canada and the U.S. have been confirmed with E. coli O157:H7 infections. Two have died. Canadian officials warned Dec. 14 that people should avoid eating romaine lettuce until further notice because it is the likely source of the bacteria.

In the United States, the CDC waited until Dec. 28 to go public about the outbreak, which it reported in a news release had been ongoing since at least Nov. 15. The CDC mentioned Canadian officials had identified romaine lettuce, but said U.S. officials were not sure.

“Because we have not identified a source of the infections, CDC is unable to recommend whether U.S. residents should avoid a particular food. This investigation is ongoing, and more information will be released as it becomes available,” according to the Dec. 28 news release from the CDC.

The CDC has not posted any other public information about the outbreak. Whole genome sequencing has shown victims in both countries are infected with the same strain, which suggests a common food source.

“CDC’s stunning lack of guidance to consumers regarding this outbreak is unconscionable,” Rep. DeLauro said in her letter to CDC Director Fitzgerald. “… CDC failed to provide consumers with warnings or updated information on how to best protect their own health.

“Just as concerning, the investigation appears to have gone ‘cold,’ with the agency’s own staff seemingly content with ending the investigation without ever finding the cause and source.”

As of Monday, staff at the CDC were unable to provide Food Safety News with much information regarding the outbreak investigation. A spokeswoman said the CDC has not received any food items for testing, but that local and state agencies frequently conduct such tests during investigations.

Other information cannot be released because the investigation is ongoing. Whether the outbreak is over is also a question looming over the agency.

“In the U.S. outbreak, although the most recent illness started on Dec. 8, it is too early to say whether the outbreak is over,” the CDC spokeswoman told Food Safety News on Monday.

“There is a delay between when someone gets sick and when the illness is reported to CDC. For E. coli infections, this reporting delay can be two to three weeks. Holidays can increase this delay so more time may be needed before an outbreak is declared over when illnesses occur around holidays.

“Officials also assess whether the food item linked to illness is no longer available for purchase, which would indicate the immediate risk to consumers is over. When the food item has not been identified, more time may be needed before an outbreak is declared over because it isn’t known whether the risk is over.”

As far as Rep. DeLauro is concerned, the food item has been identified and the risk to the public is not over. She asked the CDC director to report back to her — in writing — on six specific points.

  1. What is the current status of both the U.S. E. coli outbreak and CDC’s investigation?
  2. When was the first E. coli infection, associated with the U.S. outbreak, reported to the CDC?
  3. Following reported illnesses, when did CDC initially begin investigating the U.S. outbreak?
  4. What is the CDC’s justification for waiting almost a month and a half before publicly confirming the outbreak?
  5. To what degree has the CDC collaborated with the Public Health Agency of Canada regarding both countries’ investigations and the data from the illnesses in Canada?
  6. What information does CDC currently have regarding the source of the outbreak, and what information exists on implicated suppliers, distributors or retailers of contaminated food products?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been similarly mum on the outbreak. On Jan. 2 a spokesman for FDA said the agency is working on the investigation, but that most details are not available to the public. The FDA has not posted any information about the outbreak units website.

“The FDA is supporting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local authorities in an investigation of an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 illnesses,” the FDA spokesman told Food Safety News.

“CDC informed FDA of this illness cluster in Mid-December. As with all outbreak investigations our role is to identify the source of the food(s) the CDC identifies through case interviews and other evidence to identify what was commonly eaten among the people who became ill, and determine whether it is linked to the outbreak through testing or other evidence. Please reach out to CDC for more information about their epidemiological investigation.”

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WHO urges development of new drugs for resistant bugs

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 00:00

A multidrug-resistant type of tuberculosis is at the top of the list of priority pathogens for developing new antibiotics, but at least three foodborne bacteria are also high-priority status.

The foodborne pathogens of Salmonella, Campylobacter and Helicobacter pylori are near the top of the list of 20 antimicrobial-resistant bacteria identified by a World Health Organization (WHO) working group.

Published in The Lancet, the findings from the WHO working group describe a wide variety of factors used during the project to determine what bacteria should be targeted. Ten-Year resistance trends, preventability and treatability were among the criteria used to categorize bacteria into critical, high and medium priority groups.

In a commentary in the same issue of The Lancet, Glenn Tillotson, senior vice president of medical affairs with Cempra Pharmaceuticals in Chapel Hill, NC, complimented the working group’s process.

“The statistical approach used by Tacconelli and colleagues to establish the list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria was of the highest standard, with multiple experts enlisted to provide input into a complex process. A factor that stood out was the use of six WHO regions to support the overall process,” Tillotson wrote.

The purpose of the list of priority pathogens is to encourage development of specific, new antibiotics. However, such decisions are ultimately left to industry as the WHO does not have the authority to force research on specific medications.

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Thorny details down on the farm still stalling FDA enforcement

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 00:00

In the seven years since the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) became law, the question has always been the same. How is the Food and Drug Administration going to do down on the farm?

FDA last week gave itself “enforcement discretion” for some of those complex FSMA rules involving farms. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said it was all part of working “constructively with farmers and other producers to achieve our shared goals around food safety.”

Peter G. Lurie, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), doesn’t exactly see it that way. Lurie says the new guidance for FSMA enforcement amounts to the Trump Administration “undermining that landmark legislation.”

“FSMA was intended to cover the entire food chain, from farm to fork, and the Trump Administration’s new guidance would create a gap in that safety chain by exempting, at least for now, some of those who harvest, package and hold food produced on farms,” Lurie said in a statement from CSPI.

The statement also said the FDA guidance would eliminate company-to-company food safety assurances required under the final FSMA rules that identify dangerous pathogens that should be addressed by downstream processors. The consumer advocacy group contends undoing those aspects of the regulations threatens to expose consumers to hazards like Salmonella and E. coli bacteria.

But the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) praised FDA for hitting the hold button.

The way NSAC sees it, the delay is “FDA’s acknowledgment of the ongoing confusion that businesses have experienced in determining where they fall within FSMA’s regulatory regime, as well as the impracticality of having businesses conducting the same activity (i.e., packing and holding produce) follow different rules just because their ownership structures are different.”

The coalition is an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocate for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. Its activities reach into most every state.

Since the FSMA’s Produce Safety Rule first included a distinction between a “farm” and a “facility,” NSAC says “this seemingly innocuous difference in definition has sent farmers and packers spinning.”

“One of the key sticking points yet to be fully worked out by FDA is whether operations that are only packing and holding intact, raw (unprocessed) produce will be subject to the provisions of the Produce Safety Rule or the Preventive Controls Rule, ” according to NSAC.

“How farms and processing facilities are defined has a direct and significant impact on which rules they are subject to, and by extension, these definitions affect the potential costs or administrative burdens producers/processors may have to undergo as part of compliance.”

FDA attempted to ease confusion and tensions around the rulemaking by extending the compliance dates for two types of operations. Farms, providing a majority of produce to operations, and facilities that solely pack and hold raw or unprocessed produce were included in Produce Safety Rule exemptions.

But they were still left subject to the Preventative Controls Rule.

FDA’s new guidance — that came out this past week — extends the enforcement delay for farmers to include the Preventive Controls Rule. NSAC says the further “enforcement discretion” policy will “ease stress on producers.”

“This new policy will ensure that the types of operations described above will not have the Preventive Controls requirements enforced against them at this time,” NSAC says.

This distinction between a “farm” and a “facility” is particularly important for food hubs or nonprofit packing operations, that do not fit traditional “majority ownership” definitions and have been as of yet unable to receive clear answers from FDA as to which requirements apply to them.

Under the new enforcement discretion policy, a nonprofit food hub that is aggregating and distributing unprocessed produce may still need to register with FDA and follow current good manufacturing practices (CGMPs), but they do not have to adopt the new Preventive Controls requirements until FDA finalizes a rulemaking clarifying which rule governs their activities.

NSAC says it supports “this process of clarification in an attempt to ease regulatory burdens on family farmers and food hubs. It looks forward to working with FDA and with its members to achieve an outcome that honors FSMA’s public health mandate to establish minimum requirements based in science and risk analysis, which are also flexible enough to work for operations of all types and sizes.

The FSMA, with its preventive approach to food safety, for the first time gives FDA authority to establish food safety requirements for farms producing fruits and vegetables. There are some permanent exceptions written into the law.

A farm that produces less than $25,000 in produce sales is exempt under the FSMA’s Tester Amendment, named for Sen. Jon Tester, D-MT.  And the FSMA concerns “covered produce,” meaning that is in its unprocessed state and usually consumers raw.

Thus farms that grow only grains fall outside the FSMA’s jurisdiction because grain isn’t considered produce. Still, the FSMA rules are complex, both individually and in combinations with one another.  Any determination of how the FSMA applies to an individual produce grower is a task filled with complexities.

NSAC was similarly engaged in FDA’s efforts to simplify the agricultural water standard in the Produce Safety Rule. In September 2017, FDA issued a proposed rule to extend the compliance dates for that complicated and inflexible standard to provide time to reevaluate its practicality and effectiveness.

Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. on FDA Food Safety Modernization Act enforcement discretion guidance Guidance for Industry: Policy Regarding Certain Entities Subject to the Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Preventive Controls, Produce Safety, and/or Foreign Supplier Verification Programs

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Briefly: Don’t play chicken — WGS is all that — Explosive trip

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 00:52

Every hour of every day people around the world are living with and working to resolve food safety issues. Here is a sampling of current headlines for your consumption, brought to you today with the support of Alchemy Systems.

We have the technology
Speed and cooperation combined with science can reduce the number of foodborne illnesses and save lives, according to a new report published by eurosurveillance.org.

Researchers reviewed the use of whole genome sequencing (WGS) to identify an international outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections. The cross-border outbreak of listeriosis caused by cold-smoked salmon was revealed by integrated surveillance and whole genome sequencing (WGS) by public health investigators in Denmark and France from 2015 to 2017.

The outbreak involved victims in Denmark, France and Germany, with victims in other countries possibly yet to be identified. At least one company in Poland is implicated as a supplier of the contaminated fish. A retail chain recalled the fish after being notified by government authorities.

“This report highlights that by the application of cross-disciplinary and real-time cross-border comparison of WGS data, L. monocytogenes infections can be prevented and thereby providing safer food for at-risk groups such as the elderly, immunodeficient individuals and pregnant women,” according to the researchers.

Don’t play chicken with campylobacter
The numbers are in for Denmark’s 2016 campylobacter infections and the pathogen continues to be the leading cause of foodborne illness in the country, with chicken remaining the most frequent vector.

As many as 55,000 Danes contract campylobacter infections annually, according to public health officials. However, many people do not seek medical attention for their symptoms and others are misdiagnosed. Consequently, the total number of confirmed campylobacter infections was 4,677 in 2016.

Chicken continues to be the most frequent source of campylobacter infections, with 46 percent of cases in 2016 traced to chicken. Cattle — meat, milk and/or direct contact — accounted for 19 percent, with imported chicken meat is liked to 9 percent of the infections. Contact with dogs and contaminated seawater accounted for 4 percent each.

“Previous source accounts have not established dogs or seawater sources as contributors of illness,” according to the research from the National Food Institute report to the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration.

Government and industry will use data from the report when designing the next Action Plan on Campylobacter. Thorough cooking kills campylobacter and other pathogens, but doneness cannot be determined without the use of a food thermometer.

Explosion was huge relief
Another tourist has come forward with a tale of terror to tell about poisoning in paradise during a trip to Tunisia in 2014.

The case of African Salmonella infection involved a rare strain of the pathogen that is antibiotic resistant according to media reports out of England, Australia and New Zealand. Infection from the specific strain of Salmonella is confined to the genital area.

The tourist, David Worsley, is suing the tour operator TUI, alleging that a TUI representative told him he was merely suffering from sunstroke when he became ill at the Rui Marco Polo Hotel in Hammamet. Worsley says he had a high fever and was so sick he thought he was going to die.

“After the holiday, my testicle had swollen to the size of a grapefruit and it was so heavy it was like it was made of glass,” Worsley told British media.

“The pain was so bad I thought I was going to die. When it finally exploded I felt fantastic. It was such a relief.”

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7-Eleven customers at Utah location exposed to Hepatitis A

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 00:00

Some customers of a 7-Eleven store in Salt Lake County have only today and tomorrow to receive post-exposure treatment for hepatitis A exposure from an infected employee at the convenience store.

As many as 2,000 people or more were likely exposed, according to the county health department. Utah is one of several states involved in an outbreak of a particular hepatitis A strain that was initially identified in San Diego. As of Jan. 2 the state reported 124 confirmed outbreak cases.

Sunday the Salt Lake County Health Department posted a health alert urging medical review for anyone who used the restrooms or consumed certain foods and beverages at the 7-Eleven at 2666 West 7800 South in West Jordan. The exposure dates are Dec. 26, 2017, through Jan. 3.

Post-exposure treatment is only effective if administered within two weeks of exposure, so people who were at the 7-Eleven location on Dec. 26 have only until Tuesday to receive treatment.

“The preventive injection recommendation is for customers who visited the store on any date from Tuesday, Dec. 26, through Wednesday, Jan. 3, and who used any restroom in the store or consumed any of the following items,” according to the county alert.

  • Fountain drinks or other self-serve beverages;
  • Fresh fruit; or
  • Any item from the store’s hot food case, such as pizza, hot dogs, chicken wings, or taquitos.

“Packaged items, including bottled beverages and microwaved foods, are not implicated in the possible exposure. Customers who consumed only packaged or bottled items do not need to contact the health department. Customers who are fully vaccinated with two doses against hepatitis A also do not need to contact the health department.”

Customers with questions are urged to call the county health department at 385-468-4636 for instructions. The phone line will be staffed form 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning today, Jan. 8. Health department staff will screen callers for their exposure risk and provide them with options for receiving the post-exposure hepatitis A vaccine.

County officials did not indicate when they became aware of the sick 7-Eleven employee, who they reported worked while ill and “potentially handled certain items in the store.” The 7-Eleven store operators are cooperating with the health department investigation. The store has been sanitized “according to health department recommendations,” according to the statement released Sunday.

Hepatitis A vaccinations are not required by law for foodservice workers, but the nationwide outbreak has some officials and advocates calling for employers to step up and provide the vaccinations for the highly contagious virus, which attacks the liver and can be fatal.

“This is an important reminder to food service establishments that they should consider vaccinating their food-handling employees against hepatitis A,” said Gary Edwards, executive director of the county health department.

“It’s also important that food handlers be conscientious with hygiene, hand washing and not working when ill — and that managers be vigilant in enforcing those important requirements that help protect public health.”

Another advocate of vaccination for all foodservice workers

“One hepatitis A positive foodservice worker can infect customers and cause thousands to seek preventive vaccines,” said Seattle food safety attorney Bill Marler. “Illness and vaccines can cost us all thousands if not millions of dollars, and can cost restaurants their viability, either by a downturn in customers or an increase in lawsuits.”

Hepatitis A vaccine is covered by most insurance plans, according to the county health department notice, and is widely available at local pharmacies, health care providers and county immunization clinics. Call 385-468-7468 for an appointment at a health department immunization clinic.

Advice to the public
Anyone who developed symptoms of hepatitis A infection after using the restrooms or consuming certain beverages and food at the 7-Eleven store should immediately seek medical attention.

It usually takes two to seven weeks for symptoms to develop after exposure to the virus. So,people who were potentially exposed at the convenience store location should monitor themselves in the coming weeks. If they develop symptoms, public health officials say they should immediately seek medical attention.

Symptoms can include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal, and sometimes yellow eyes or skin and dark urine. People are often most contagious before they feel sick, which makes it difficult to know whether a foodservice worker is infected. That is one of the reasons health officials and other public health advocates want businesses to pay for employee vaccinations.

A person can get Hepatitis A when they eat, drink, or touch their mouth with food, liquid or objects —  including their hands — that have come into contact feces from an infected person. Microscopic amounts of feces that are undetectable by the human eye carry enough of the virus to infect people.

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Editor’s note: Bill Marler is a founding partner of Marler Clark LLP and is publisher of Food Safety News.

Costco stores in Canada recall croissants for plastic

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 00:00

Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd. is recalling its Kirkland Signature brand all butter croissants from certain Costco stores because they may contain plastic. The company did not provide any details on how the possible contamination was discovered.

Consumers should not consume the Kirkland Signature brand “All Butter Croissants,” according to a notice posted Jan. 6 by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Some of the recalled products have best-before dates reaching into April. Implication locations are:

  • Costco Barrie – 41 Mapleview Dr. East, Barrie;
  • Costco London South – 4313 Wellington Rd. South, London;
  • Costco London North – 693 Wonderland Rd. North, London;
  • Costco Newmarket – 18182 Yonge St., Newmarket; and
  • Costco Etobicoke – 50 Queen Elizabeth Blvd., Etobicoke.

Additionally, the Kirkland Signature brand “All Butter Croissants (Frozen, Uncooked)” were sold only from the following Costco locations in Ontario:

  • Costco Newmarket – 18182 Yonge St., Newmarket; and
  • Costco Etobicoke – 50 Queen Elizabeth Blvd., Etobicoke.

The Kirkland Signature brand croissants were produced and packaged on Jan. 2 and 5 and have “Best Before” dates of Jan. 7 and April 2. The products subject to the recall and identifying codes on the packages are:

Brand Name Common Name Size Code(s) on Product UPC Kirkland Signature All Butter Croissants 12 pack Best Before
18/JA/07
Packaged on
18/JA/05 0 00010 46334 5 Kirkland Signature All Butter Croissants (Frozen, Uncooked) 204 x 85 g Produced on
01/02/18
Packaged on
18/JA/05
Best Before
18/AL/02 0 00010 46391 8

There have been no confirmed reports of injury due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Retailers and consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to sell or consume them. It is against federal law for anyone to sell recalled food. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

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