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Ground lean veal recalled in Canada after E. coli testing

Thu, 11/09/2017 - 12:55

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has posted a recall of ground lean veal by Vantage Foods Inc. The company cited possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination as the reason for the recall.

Vantage Foods Inc. distributed the veal to various Food Basics brand supermarket locations in Ontario. Little detail was included in the recall notice, about how the possible contamination was discovered.

“This recall was triggered by test results,” according to the recall notice posted on the CFIA website. “The agency is conducting an investigation and will post additional recalls as necessary.

“Food contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick.”

Although no injuries or illnesses had been reported as of Nov. 8 recall, consumers who have the recalled meat on hand are urged to discard it immediately. All of the recalled veal has a “Best Before” date of “2017 NO 04.”

Consumers can identify the recalled ground lean veal by looking for the following label information:

Brand Name Common Name Size Date code UPC number None – Packaged for
Food Basics stores Ground lean veal Variable Best Before
2017NO04 Starts with
0 226811

 

The recalled product has the establishment number “734” printed inside the Canadian mark of inspection.

Ecoli O157: H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Symptoms usually begin two to eight days after exposure to the bacteria.

While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

This condition can occur among people of any age, but is most common in children younger than 5, older adults, pregnant women and people with suppressed immune systems. HUS is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output. People who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

Anyone who has eaten ground lean veal and developed E. coli symptoms should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to pathogen. For more information, consumers can contact CFIA by filling out an online feedback form.

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Canadian raw milk crusader serving 60 days — on weekends

Thu, 11/09/2017 - 00:01

Canada’s best known raw milk crusader, Ottawa’s Michael Schmidt, was sentenced Wednesday to 60 days in jail after being found guilty of obstructing a peace officer.

Michael Schmidt

His conviction last month stemmed from an Oct. 2, 2015, incident at his Durham area farm when Schmidt and others confronted officers executing a valid search warrant.

Schmidt’s confrontations with authorities over raw milk have been ongoing for 22 years. The first raid of Schmidt’s farm related to its raw milk production was in 1994.

Walkerton Judge R. Menard said he was sentencing Schmidt to jail because interference with a peace officer is a serious offense. By sending Schmidt to prison the general public will understand that people must abide by the law, the judge said.

Schmidt was in custody for processing, but the court is permitting him to serve his time intermittently on weekends. His first day of incarceration is scheduled for Nov. 10.

Schmidt and other owners of dairy cows kept on his farm confronted representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Ministry of Natural Resources in 2015 to prevent them from collecting items outlined in the warrant. Local peace officers accompanied them.

Charges were dismissed against Schmidt’s supporters. Under Canadian law, Schmidt could have been jailed for up to two years for an obstruction conviction.

Schmidt is also the subject of proceeding in a Newmarket court regarding the distribution of raw milk. The last hearing in that case was in June, but a judge has yet to announce a decision.

The Canadian Food and Drugs Act states:

“No person shall sell the normal lacteal secretion obtained from the mammary gland of the cow, genus Bos, or of any other animal, or sell a dairy product made with any such secretion, unless the secretion or dairy product has been pasteurized by being held at a temperature and for a period that ensure the reduction of the alkaline phosphatase activity so as to meet the tolerances specified in official method MFO-3, Determination of Phosphatase Activity in Dairy Products.”

According to Health Canada, the number of food poisoning incidents from milk has dramatically decreased since pasteurization of milk was made mandatory by Health Canada in 1991. Canada’s raw milk ban does not apply to cheese.

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Nestle recalling 13 tons of Hot Pockets sent to food banks

Thu, 11/09/2017 - 00:00

Nestle Prepared Foods Co. is recalling 26,400 pounds of pork and beef “Hot Pockets” products that were donated to a charitable organization and distributed to food banks.

The recalled products are misbranded and include undeclared allergens, according to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

“The products contain eggs, milk, soy and wheat, known allergens, which are not declared on the product label,” according to the recall notice.

“These items were donated to a charitable organization, in which the product was further distributed to a food bank in Missouri. The products may have been repackaged and further distributed and sold to additional food banks in Missouri.”

The frozen not-ready-to-eat (NRTE) pork and beef hot pocket items were produced on Sept. 21, 2016, and Jan. 10 and 13 this year. The recalled products include:

  • 2,400-pound bulk packages of “Nestle Hot Pockets BBQ Burger Bites.”
  • 16,800-pound bulk packages of “Nestle Hot Pockets 3 Cheese Bacon Bites.”
  • 7,200-pound bulk packages of “Nestle Hot Pockets Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Snack Bites.”

The recalled products do not have the USDA mark of inspection, and do not identify the known allergen ingredients. The recalled items were distributed to the following food banks in Missouri:

  • Gleaner Basket/Monark Southern Baptist Church/ANT Enterprises, Neosho, MO;
  • KIDs Across America, Golden, MO;
  • River of Faith Church, Seligman, MO;
  • Teen Challenge, Neosho, MO;
  • United Methodist Church, Noel, MO; and
  • We Care for 4 States, Joplin, MO.

FSIS was notified by an Office of Investigations, Enforcement and Audit compliance officer on Oct. 26 about the problem. The officer discovered the violations during routine in-commerce surveillance activities. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

FSIS and the company are concerned that unused portions of the recalled products may be in consumers’ freezers.

Consumers who have received or purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned.

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FDA commissioner issues new guidance for menu labeling

Thu, 11/09/2017 - 00:00

Ahead of the effective date for those new, long-awaited menu labeling regulations, which is May 7, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is out with some non-binding “guidance” to help with implementation. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb rolled out the guidance this week, using the occasion to underscore his commitment to improving nutritional information.

“As someone who enjoys eating out with my family and picking up the occasional take-out meal, I – like many Americans – want to know what’s in the food I eat,” Gottlieb said.

“As FDA Commissioner, I also know that more people are eating meals away from home, and our diets are increasingly comprised of foods we get from restaurants or take-out meals. FDA is committed to leveraging nutrition to enhance health and reduce disease, and the agency soon will be announcing a broader policy effort in this area.”

In addition to menu labeling, Gottlieb said improvement to the “Nutrition Facts” panel on food packages and additional consumer education policies are in the works.  His comments this week are consistent with his previous statements supportive of  nutrition information initiatives since he was named to head FDA by President Donald J. Trump.

The menu labeling requirements are only mandatory for restaurants and retail outlets with 20 or more locations. Smaller operations can “opt-in” to the federal program. Most effected restaurants and retailers were ready to implement new menu labeling in May this year, but FDA put the brakes on for more comments, especially from pizza and movie chains.

The National Restaurant Association’s Cicely Simpson said her organization is pleased FDA took into account comments from the restaurant industry and will that the organization will “continue to work with the FDA to successfully implement federal menu labeling by May 2018.” Simpson is NRA’s executive vice president of public affairs.

Restaurants and retailers operating in multiple locations and states tend to favor the federal program to avoid the added expense that can come with duplication. Gottlieb says it is also important that the calorie counts be “consistently available.”

“At a time when more than a third of U.S. adults are obese and more people are trying to make healthier lifestyle decisions, we know making informed choices about our diets has the potential to save and improve lives,” Gottlieb says.

“For instance, it can help to reduce the risk of many obesity-related conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain types of cancer. This is why we’re seizing the opportunity to empower Americans to more carefully consider their food choices by providing access to uniform and consistent calorie and nutrition information for foods on display, menus and menu boards.”

The FDA Commissioner claims the agency is “being pragmatic and not overly burdensome to restaurants and similar retail food establishments.” He says the required menu labeling “can be efficiently implemented by restaurants and similar retail food establishments and sustained for the long run.”

FDA first proposed a menu labeling rule in 2011. Gottlieb said he is committed to the May 7, 2018, implementation date. He said the new draft guidance is in direct response to the comments FDA received on the menu labeling regulation.

In recent comments,  some store owners asked us whether posters, billboards, coupon mailings, and other marketing materials would meet FDA’s definition of a menu, which would require owners to include calorie information. The new draft guidance explains that such materials are not considered menus under the regulation and do not require calorie counts, Gottlieb said.

The draft guidance also responds to questions about self-service buffets, beverage stations and pizza menu boards that offering choices with thousands of combinations. In addition to providing examples of how those situations can be addressed, the FDA draft guidance makes other clarifications and accommodations to make sure implementation of the new menu labeling requirements goes forward on time and succeeds for the long-term.

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Dairy surrenders license because of contaminated raw milk

Wed, 11/08/2017 - 17:54

The owners of Pride & Joy Dairy have voluntarily surrendered their raw milk license because DNA testing showed that Salmonella infections in people who drank it matched bacteria in the dairy’s unpasteurized milk.

The move by Cheryl and Allen Voortman is a reversal of their plan to fight a license suspension imposed by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) on Oct. 6. Since February, the couple has repeatedly said there was nothing wrong with their unpasteurized milk and that they were being unfairly targeted. They suggested the “big dairy” industry had influenced state officials.

Top officials with WSDA signed off on the “Final Order” in the licensing proceeding on Monday. The Voortmans had signed the “Agreed Order” on Nov. 2. The couple can still produce milk and they retain their organic certification, Hector Gonzales of the WSDA’s Administrative Regulations Program staff told Food Safety News on Wednesday.

Neither the Voortmans nor an attorney who has been advising them had responded to Food Safety News’ requests for comment as of 6 p.m. EST today.

Gonzales said the Pride & Joy owners can still sell raw milk to processors for pasteurization and retail sales. The final order only applies to retail sales of their unpasteurized, raw milk. Washington state is one of the few states that allow sales of raw milk by retailers.

“Before the department will approve a complete application for a milk processing plant license at 56721 U.S. Highway 97 in Toppenish, WA, Pride & Joy must submit a written plan of action approved by the department,” according to the order signed by Candace Jacobs, assistant director of WSAD’s Food Safety Program, and Program Director Elizabeth McNagny.

“Before the department will approve a complete application for a milk processing plant license, … Pride & Joy must submit a written plan of action approved but he Department that contains the following information:

  • Specific investigative steps taken to identify the cause of the presence of pathogens in its finished, bottled retail raw milk product;
  • Specific findings for its investigative steps taken; and
  • Specific corrections Pride & Joy has taken to reduce the risk of producing and processing adulterated retail raw milk products.”

Timeline of events in Final Order
Washington State’s Department of Health (DOH) informed the WSDA on Jan. 27 of two cases of Salmonella Dublin in people who consumed Pride and Joy’s raw milk. (Editor’s note: The dairy’s on-hand milk in February did not test positive for Salmonella Dublin, but it did test positive for E. coli bacteria. Samples of milk consumed by the sick people was not available for testing.)

The WSDA sent a food safety officer to the dairy to secure a sample of Pride & Joy retail raw milk on Sept. 18. The sample was a half-gallon container with a “pull date” of Oct. 4. The sample was sent to the health department’s laboratory for testing. On Sept. 27 the lab determined the sample Salmonella.

The agriculture department also secured four one-gallon samples of Pride & Joy retail raw milk on Oct. 2. The samples had a pull date of Oct.18. On October 9, the health department lab determined the sample contained, Salmonella.

The health department laboratories used pulse-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) to confirm the specific serotype as Salmonella Dublin. Salmonella from the Sept.18 retail raw milk sample is indistinguishable from the Salmonella Dublin isolates detected in lab samples collected from two people who were infected in January.

(Editor’s note: On Sept. 28 the WSDA issued a public health alert about Pride & Joy raw milk because the dairy owners refused to initiate a voluntary recall.)

On Oct. 6, the agriculture department issued a “Summary Suspension” of Pride & Joy’s milk processing plant license.

The health department lab used PFGE to confirm that the Salmonella Dublin isolate from each of the four retail milk samples collected Oct. 2. The isolate “was indistinguishable from the Salmonella Dublin isolates collected and reported by DOH.” The health department informed the agriculture department of the PFGE results on Oct. 20.

On Oct.25 the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its whole genome sequencing test results for the seven total isolates collected during the investigation. The final interpretation provided by CDC indicated that all five isolates appeared to be related “within zero to two Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms.”

Pride & Joy chose to surrender its milk processing plant license in lieu of contesting its summary suspension and a revocation proceeding and signed an agreement Nov. 2.

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Irish raw milk cheese recalled around world because of Listeria

Wed, 11/08/2017 - 01:11

A Listeria related recall in mid-October of organic, raw milk cheddar cheese announced by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland has made it half way around the world, with authorities in Hong Kong posting a recall this week of the cheese sold under the brand of The Little Milk Co.

No such announcements have yet been made in the United States, even though the Irish raw milk cheese producer’s website indicates its products are sold in New York City.

There is a good chance consumers may still have unused portions of the organic, raw milk cheddar cheese in their homes because its best-before dates range from October this year through July of 2018, according to the recall notice posted by the Irish food safety agency and the food safety authorities in Hong Kong.

The website of Irish Organic Milk Producers Ltd., which markets the Little Milk Co. branded cheeses made with unpasteurized milk, does not appear to have any references to the recall.

In addition to selling its raw milk cheeses in Ireland and the United States, Irish company also sells unpasteurized products in Europe and other parts of the world, according to its website.

On Tuesday, the Centre for Food Safety of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department in Hong Kong posted a recall alert for three varieties of Little Milk Co. branded cheddar cheese.

The recall notices for organic raw milk cheddar from the Irish and Hong Kong food safety agencies report different best-before dates and different product weights for the Little Milk Co. branded products. Information on the recalled cheese packaging and labeling for products sold in locations other than Ireland and Hong Kong was not included in either of the recall notices.

In Ireland, the recalled cheese is sold in three package sizes, Organic Mild Cheddar 135-grams; Milk Organic Wedge 1 kilogram; and Grated Cheese 2 kilograms. It can be identified by looking for Batch number B82, and best-before dates: of Dec. 18, 2017; Jan. 1, 2018; Jan. 14, 2018; Jan. 25, 2018; Feb. 12, 2018, March 5, 2018; March 12, 2018; March 26, 2018; and July 17, 2018.

In Hong Kong, the recalled Little Milk Co.branded cheese can be identified by the following label information:

  • Organic Irish Cheddar Cheese, 135-gram packages with a best before date of Oct. 30;
  • Organic Irish Cheddar Cheese – Vintage, 120-gram packages with a best-before date of Nov. 19; and
  • Organic Irish Cheddar Cheese – Mature, 135-gram packages with best-before dates of Oct. 20 or Dec. 22.

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FSN Briefly

Wed, 11/08/2017 - 00:17

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 iwaspoisoned.com.

Food safety tips for diabetics
As November is National Diabetes Month, practicing safe food handling to prevent foodborne illness is in the spotlight for those with diabetes and anyone preparing food for them.

The Food and Drug Administration is offering a free booklet “Food Safety for People with Diabetes.”

“Practicing food safety is critical because diabetes can affect the function of various organs and systems of the body, making those living with this disease more susceptible to infections and pathogens that cause foodborne illness, often called ‘food poisoning,’ ” according to the FDA.

“When persons with diabetes contract a foodborne illness, they are more likely to have a lengthier illness, undergo hospitalization, or even die. ”

Some foods are more likely to harbor harmful bacteria or viruses, such as uncooked fresh fruits and vegetables, animal products including unpasteurized raw milk and raw milk cheeses, and lunchmeats and deli-type salads that have been prepared in delis or other retail establishments.

Trump Administration delays GMO rules
This week, the Trump Administration announced the withdrawal and re-evaluation of rules that the Obama Administration proposed for the modernization of the federal government’s regulation of genetically engineered foods.

What “could have been” includes an update of the 1997 U.S. Department of Agriculture’s regulations of genetically engineered (GE) organisms, or GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Congress approved The Plant Protection Act in 2000, which granted the USDA expanded powers. However, the USDA never revised its regulations regarding the new authority.

Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, said the move by the Administration on Monday is taking the country in the wrong direction.

“In the 17 long years since USDA gained new statutory authorities, GE crops have cost farmers billions of dollars in lost revenue from transgenic contamination and herbicide drift damage.” Kimbrell said in a written statement. “… Secretary (Sonny) Purdue’s decision to delay urgently needed new rules once again is another instance of this Administration placing corporate profits over public welfare.”

WHO urges end of antibiotics in animals
The growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria spurred the World Health Organization (WHO) to update its guidelines for the use of antibiotics in animals used for human food.

The WHO recommendations aim to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics used to treat infections in humans, according to the international body.

“Over-use and misuse of antibiotics in animals and humans is contributing to the rising threat of antibiotic resistance. Some types of bacteria that cause serious infections in humans have already developed resistance to most or all of the available treatments, and there are very few promising options in the research pipeline,” according to a WHO news release.

Scientific evidence shows that overuse of antibiotics in animals, including the common practice of using them to promote growth, contributes to the emergence of antibiotic resistance, according to Dr. Kazuaki Miyagishima, WHO director of the Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses.

Also, 80 percent of medically important antibiotics are used by the food industry on animals. The Lancet’s Planetary Health publication posted research showing that ending the unnecessary use of antibiotics in food producing animals reduced antibiotic-resistant bacteria up to 39 percent.

WHO recommends that healthy animals should only receive antibiotics to prevent disease if it has been diagnosed in other animals in the same flock, herd, or fish population.

In 2006, the European Union banned the use of antibiotics to promote growth in animals. Some major U.S. food companies have already adopted “antibiotic-free” policies to meet consumer demands.

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PCA appeal could impact future food safety prosecutions

Wed, 11/08/2017 - 00:00

The trial judge is as much on trial as the criminal defendants during an appeal, and a 97-minute session Tuesday in a federal appeals court in Atlanta was an illustration of how that system works. It came during oral arguments in the case of United States v. Michael Parnell, Mary Wilkerson and Stewart Parnell before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

The three criminal defendants want their convictions and sentences overturned. To succeed they’d need the appellate court to reverse one or more of the many rulings by U.S. District Court Senior Judge W. Louis Sands. He was the trial court judge, who during almost three years, presided over the complicated criminal case.

There’s a significant obstacle for the defendant/appellant attorneys, and it kept coming up Tuesday in the Atlanta courtroom. The “finder of fact” in this or any appeal is the trial court judge. Appellate judges don’t make changes to the record.

Through out the most significant criminal case involving food safety in history, Sands made hundreds of decisions large and small. The case culminated in a near two-month jury trial that ended with convictions and sentencing of the trio associated with the now-defunct Peanut Corporation of American (PCA).

The government prosecuted a 76-count federal criminal indictment against the trio in Sands’ Albany, GA, courtroom. Stewart Parnell was PCA’s chief executive and Michael was his peanut broker brother. Wilkerson was quality assurance manager PCA.

The three, who were sentenced in late 2015, are in federal custody. Collectively they are serving 53 years for their roles in a Salmonella outbreak that sickened thousands and killed nine in 2008-09.

Oral arguments for the Parnells
Michael Parnell’s attorney Joseph R. Pope wasted no Tuesday painting a picture of a leading issue of the appeal before the court. He said the case against his client had improperly been depicted as a “death case” and as a “conspiracy” without any co-conspirators.

Stewart Parnell, former CEO of the now defunct Peanut Corporation of America.

Pope, from the Williams Mullen law firm in Richmond, and Stewart Parnell’s appellate attorney Justin Lugar of the Gentry Locke firm in Roanoke,VA, both argued that jury misconduct and mistakes in applying sentencing guidelines should open their clients’ jail cells.

Jury misconduct came up following the 2014 trial after defense attorneys found out a juror had doubts about the verdict because of comments other jurors made about deaths associated with PCA’s contaminated peanut butter products.

The case stemmed from the 2008-09 nationwide Salmonella outbreak traced to peanut butter and peanut paste produced at PCA’s plant in Blakely, GA. During the trial, Sands permitted the government to put on testimony about how conditions at PCA’s plant caused the outbreak. He also allowed an expert witness to answer questions about the nature of Salmonella illnesses. But Sands did not allow the jury to hear anything about the outbreak deaths.

At least five jurors, however, went on record after the trial admitting they knew deaths had resulted from PCA’s shipments of peanut butter and peanut paste that its owner and managers knew was contaminated with Salmonella.

Judge W. Louis Sands

In 2015 Sands conducted a lengthy investigation into the possible jury misconduct. He found the story told by the juror most troubled about the situation was not shared by the others. It appears that nine of the jurors never knew about the deaths, and defense attorneys either agreed or were out of challenges when seating two others after saying they’d heard some people had died in the outbreak.

It remains a little cloudy whether the deaths were ever subjects of “jury deliberations” or just some conversations on the side. The outbreak was big news in Georgia in 2009, but the trial did not occur until five years later.

Veteran Department of Justice prosecutor John Alexander Romano contends it’s not like jurors heard a “fresh” media depiction of the case during the trial. One of the appellate judges suggested what they heard was just what family members said.

The attorneys for PCA’s one time CEO Stewart Parnell and his peanut broker brother Michael Parnell seemed most concerned about the how Sands managed to sentence their clients to 28 and 20 years, respectively, in federal prisons.

Both were moved up multiple levels under federal sentencing guidelines because of the “net dollar value” of the losses their crimes caused. About 200 companies recalled almost 4,000 food products because they contained peanut butter or peanut paste made at PCA’s Blakely plant.

Defense attorneys are questioning whether the government ever documented sufficient losses to justify the sentences imposed on the Parnells and Wilkerson. Under threat of subpoena, the FBI collected financial loss data from about 50 companies.

The trial court called a single FBI agent to the stand who introduced what the agency collected. It was an unaudited spreadsheet, which she did not analyze. Defense attorneys contrasted that proceeding with the restitution hearing held by Sands, which concluded with no dollar amount required.

Just one of the companies that had to recall product, Kellogg’s with $45.6 million in losses, would have been enough to justify the multiple level enhancement of the sentences for both of the the Parnell brothers. But attorney Pope pointed to an apparently open FBI inquiry to Kellogg’s. The information submitted by the food giant included the statement that it was “not sure if this is what you are looking for.”

In his examination of the submissions made to the FBI, Pope said: “I can’t tell you what they mean.”

Were the appellate judges to throw out the FBI’s net loss values for just being weak or inadequate work, it would likely mean homecomings for brothers Stewart and Michael Parnell.

Argument for quality assurance officer Wilkerson
Then there’s Mary Wilkerson, PCA’s then-newly promoted quality assurance manager. She was sentenced to five years in federal prison on a conviction of a single count of obstruction of justice, a process crime. The jury acquitted her on another count.

The question of whether Wilkerson should have been put on trial with the Psrnells came up during the appeal arguments. Her attorney, Albany-based Thomas G. Ledford, said he was ordered by Sands not to ask for a separate trial again.

Sands, however, removed Wilkerson from the restitution hearing on the basis that she was not part of the criminal conspiracy.

Shirley Almer, one of the nine people who died in the Salmonella outbreak traced to contaminated peanut butter products manufactured by the peanut Corporation of America.

Ledford has been insistent that the DOJ has violated its electronic-discovery policies in the way that it has treated Wilkerson. Ledford is a court-appointed attorney in the hardscrabble small city of Albany, GA, who claims the government kept giving him “unsearchable” files.

“It was unreadable to us,” says Ledford. His basic claim is that DOJ provided “discoverable material” in a form that could not read or accessed. Romano says the court paid for 286 hours, or almost seven weeks, of work by an IT expert to help Ledford with the data.

Tuesday’s hearing saw a delegation of the Parnell brothers’ family members at the court, but also there was Jeff Almer, whose mother was one of the nine fatalities attributed to the outbreak.

If the government’s side is mostly upheld by the appeals judges, the approach the government took in the PCA prosecution will likely be seen again, according to food industry attorneys. It involved the use of fraud and conspiracy charges with such safe food concerns as shipping adulterated and misbranded food.

Appellate courts are on predicatable schedules. Rulings for the appeals in this case could take days or months.

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Listeria positive prompts recall of frozen, organic green beans

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 22:46

Nature’s Touch Frozen Foods LLC of Front Royal, VA, recalled two years worth of its frozen organic whole green beans today because Connecticut inspectors got positive results for Listeria monocytogenes on a random sample from a retailer.

The frozen food company reported it distributed the frozen, organic green beans to retailers in a dozen states, but did not name those retailers in its recall notice.

There is concern that consumers may have unused portions of the recalled organic green beans in their homes because some of the implicated beans have best-before dates ranging from this summer through June 21, 2019.

No one should eat the recalled product because of the danger of contracting listeriosis, a potentially life-threatening infection caused by Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Nature’s Touch is urging consumers to discard the recalled organic green beans or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

“All affected retailers have been contacted to ensure that the recalled product is removed from store shelves,” the company news release said.

“Nature’s Touch has immediately ceased the production and distribution of this product and is working in full collaboration with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration on this recall.”

Nature’s Touch distributed the recalled green beans in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia. Consumers can identify the recalled Nature’s Fresh branded frozen green beans that are subject to the recall by looking for the following:

  • 10-ounce bags
  • “Organic Fine Whole Green Beans”
  • UPC number 8 73668 00141 8
  • Best-before dates from June 4, 2017, through June 21, 2019

As of today, no illnesses had been confirmed in relation to the recalled green beans. However, it can take up to 70 days after exposure for symptoms of listeriosis to develop.

Anyone who has eaten the recalled green beans and become ill with symptoms of listeriosis would immediately seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to the bacteria.

Similarly, anyone who has recently eaten the recalled frozen, organic Nature’s Touch green beans should monitor themselves for symptoms of infection for the coming weeks.

Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Symptoms can include high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The Nature’s Touch consumer service staff will be available to answer any questions Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST by phone at: 1-877-850-2664 or by email at: info@naturestouch.ca.

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection is the agency that found the Listeria monocytogenes in the product sample.

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Pesticide report shows no residue on 50% of U.S. food tested

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 00:43

The annual analysis of pesticide residues in domestic and imported foods, with the results for fiscal year 2015 showing 98 percent of tested foods produced in the United States do not violate federal limits.

Photo illustration

Of the 835 domestic food samples tested from 39 states, almost half, 49.8 percent, were completely free of pesticides for the period from Oct. 1, 2014, through Sept. 30, 2015, according to the annual report released Monday by the Food and Drug Administration. The agency has been performing sampling and producing the report every year since 1987.

The Environmental Protection Agency sets the allowable limits and the FDA is responsible for enforcing those tolerances for domestic foods shipped in interstate commerce and foods imported into the U.S.

Fifteen of the U.S. food samples had pesticide residues in excess of the legal limits, representing less than 2 percent of the domestic samples tested. The remainder of the samples of U.S. foods had residues within allowable levels. Fruits and vegetables accounted for 58.7 percent of domestic samples.

“Because the violation rates of import samples are generally higher than for domestic samples, the FDA tests more imported commodities than domestic,” according to the annual report. “In its regulatory pesticide residue monitoring program, the FDA selectively monitors a broad range of imported and domestic commodities.”

The FDA analyzed 4,737 from 111 foreign countries during FY 2015. Of those samples, 444, or 9.3 percent, had pesticide residues in excess of allowable limits. Overall, 90 percent of the foreign foods tested were within allowable U.S. limits.

However, the imported foods did better than U.S. foods tested in terms of being completely free of pesticide residues, with 56.8 percent of them in that category.

“FDA’s monitoring is not random or statistically designed; rather, emphasis is given to the sampling of commodities most frequently consumed or imported, commodities and places of origin with a history of violations, and to a lesser extent, larger-size shipments,” according to the report summary.

“Historically, the violation rate of import samples is 3 to 5 times higher than the rate for domestic samples. For example, from FY 2011 to 2014 the violation rate for domestic samples ranged from 1.4 percent to 2.8 percent, whereas the rate for import samples ranged from 7.1 percent to 12.6 percent.”

Specifics for pesticides and commodities
In addition to its standard pesticide residue testing, FDA conducted a focused sampling for pesticide residues in domestically produced game meats in relation to an ongoing audit in the European Union.

“None of the 17 game meat samples contained pesticide chemical residues, with the exception of one sample of elk that contained DDT below the FDA action level,” according to the report.

Game meat tested and the number of samples collected were: bison six samples; elk four samples with 0.029 ppm DDT found in one sample; rabbit three samples; and venison four samples.

The FDA had the ability to detect 696 pesticides and industrial chemicals for the FY 2015 testing program. Of those chemicals, residues of 207 different pesticides were actually found in the samples analyzed.

Eleven pesticide chemical residues found in FY 2015 had not been previously detected in the FDA regulatory pesticide monitoring program. Those are 11 residues, in order of frequency of detection along with the number of samples in which they were found are:

  • Fluxapyroxad 6
  • Temephos 2
  • Carfentrazone ethyl ester 1
  • Cyflumetofen 1
  • Ethiprole 1
  • Fenpyrazamine 1
  • Flumioxazin 1
  • Mefenacet 1
  • Sebuthylazine 1
  • Sulprofos 1
  • Thiodicarb 1

Fresh produce commodities made up the majority of the imported foods with the most pesticide residues. FDA flags imported commodities for “special attention” in the next fiscal year based on current residue results.

For FY 2015, imported commodities selected for special attention in FY 2016 had to have had at least 20 samples analyzed or a minimum of three violations and a violation rate of 10 percent or higher.

Dozens of imported foods met those criteria. The top 10 in terms of violation rates, listed here with the commodity, number of samples tested and percent of violations, are:

  • Dragon fruit and dragon fruit juice, 5 samples, 80 percent in violation;
  • Taro or dasheen, 10 samples, 42.9 percent in violation;
  • Wolfberry, 10 samples, 40 percent in violation;
  • Cocoa beans and products, 16 samples, 31.3 percent in violation;
  • Jack fruit and jack fruit juice, 24 samples, 29.2 percent in violation;
  • Cilantro, 22 samples, 27.3 percent in violation;
  • Prickle pear fruit and juice, 44 samples, 27.3 percent in violation;
  • Cabbage, 15 samples, 26.7 percent in violation;
  • Mushrooms, 86 samples, 26.7 percent in violation; and
  • Parsley, 18 samples, 22 percent in violation.

For additional information

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FSMA whistleblower clause protects those who report problems

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 00:00

Before the Food Safety Modernization Act, no protection from retaliation existed for privately employed food and agriculture workers who took action because of concerns about food safety.

Section 402 is the FSMA’s answer to that problem. It gives those employees protection from being discharged or punished for carrying out their job responsibilities  that involve food safety.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces the FSMA’s whistleblower provisions. OSHA administers more than 20 federal whistleblower protection laws. All the statutes prohibit retaliation against employees who shed light on unsafe or unhealthy conditions or who exercise their other rights under the specific acts.

And unlike many other provisions of the FSMA that have required years of rule-making process to take effect, Section 402 became enforceable on the day President Obama signed the new food safety law, Jan. 4, 2011.

OSHA has been taking complaints from food and agricultural workers ever since, just as it does with other private sector employees such as those involved in the safety of water, pipelines and toxic substances.

Lives destroyed

If your job involved food safety before 2011, there was no place you could tell your story and be sure you would not be doing yourself more harm than good. People in the food safety arena remember what happened to Kenneth Kendrick before Congress extended whistleblower protections in the FSMA.

Kendrick is the former production planner who tried to get someone to listen to him about the risky and unethical practices he discovered while working at a Texas peanut processing facility owned by the now-defunct Peanut Corporation of America (PCA).

He tried to get someone in government, industry or the media interested in what was happening with PCA well before the company’s contaminated peanut products sickened thousands and killed at least nine.

Once that tragedy unfolded, Kendrick was in demand for interviews as everyone wanted to hear from an insider about how the PCA bosses were lying when they said the company had rigorous testing and never found Salmonella in any of their plants.

“People should know,” Kendrick told CNN in 2012, “just how tough life can be for people who do the right thing. My family and I now live in poverty, as many Whistle Blowers often do, and doing the right thing destroyed my life.”

Kendrick is on the circuit as a speaker about whistleblowing and went on to become the Green Party’s candidate for Texas Agriculture Commissioner in 2014.

Whether more recent whistleblowers have it any better now is not known, but OSHA has generated six years of data on the FSMA 402 complaints, from 2011 to 2016.

The statues it enforces “contains whistleblower or anti-retaliation provisions” that provide that employers “may not discharge or retaliate against an employee because the employee has filed a complaint or otherwise exercised any rights provided to employees.”

A total of 280 food and beverage workers filed FSMA whistleblower complaints with OSHA between 2011 and 2016. OSHA statistics show 62 of those filings were “settled or settled” out positively for the employee. Federal courts took over in two other cases.

Fifty cases remained unresolved at the end of 2016. At least 165 others were either withdrawn or dismissed. Failure to respond to OSHA’s additional requests for information is a frequent cause for dismissal.

The FSMA whistleblower law says “no entity engaged in the manufacture, processing, packing, transporting, distribution, reception, holding, or importation of food may discharge an employee or otherwise discriminate against an employee” if it involves “any violation” of any act or omission the employee reasonably believes to be a violation of any provision of the FSMA.” In such circumstances, the employee acting “at the employee’s initiative or in the ordinary course of the employee’s duties” is protected.

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DOH updates Commercial harvest closures for shellfish growing

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 00:00

The Washington State Department of Health has updated closures of shellfish growing areas used for commercial harvest because of dangerous levels of toxins and fecal material.

“This report is provided by the Washington State Department of Health, Office of Environmental Health and Safety as a service to the shellfish industry and partner agencies,” according to the report, which lists the growing area closures for commercial harvest only. The report notes that it does not include recreational harvest closures, and that the listed closures are temporary and, “do not represent changes in growing area classification.”

Those interested in a geographical look at the closures can view the DOH’s “Commercial Shellfish Map Viewer” on the state’s website. The map identifies “Closed Parcels” as well as conditional, prohibited, restricted, and unclassified growing areas.

Commercial Shellfish Map Viewer, courtesy of the Washington State Department of Health, Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

The report includes the following recently closed areas:

HOOD CANAL #6 GROWING AREA Closure Date: 11/05/2017 Closure Reason: CONDITIONAL CLOSURE Re-opens on: 11/10/2017 Closure for: All Species The Conditionally Approved portion of Hood Canal # 6 near Big Bend Creek is closed due to 0.83 inch of rain at the Taylor United FLUPSY.

PICKERING PASSAGE GROWING AREA Closure Date: 11/05/2017 Closure Reason: CONDITIONAL CLOSURE Re-opens on: 11/10/2017 Closure for: All Species The Conditionally Approved portion of McLane Cove in Pickering Passage is closed due to 0.83 inch of rain at the Taylor United FLUPSY.

SAMISH BAY GROWING AREA Closure Date: 11/04/2017 Closure Reason: EMERGENCY CLOSURE Re-opens on: 11/07/2017 Closure for: All Species The Conditionally Approved portion of Samish Bay is closed due to high fecal coliform in samples collected from the Samish River on 11/3/17. The Conditionally Approved portion of Samish Bay will open on 11/7/17 at 10 a.m. based on samples collected from the Samish River on 11/5/17.

Additionally, the report includes the following Growing Areas with Ongoing Closures: 

ALDEN BANK GROWING AREA Closure Date: 07/22/2016 Closure Reason: BIOTOXIN Closed Until Further Notice Closure for: Scallop The PSP result from a pink scallop sample collected on 7/22/16 was 99 micrograms of toxin.

ANNAS BAY GROWING AREA IN MASON COUNTY Closure Date: 05/01/2017 Closure Reason: CONDITIONAL CLOSURE Re-opens on: 12/01/2017 Closure for: All Species The Conditionally Approved portion of Annas Bay around Hood Canal Marina (at Union) is seasonally closed from May 1 through November 30 each year.

BAINBRIDGE SOUTH GROWING AREA Closure Date: 09/11/2017 Closure Reason: BIOTOXIN Closed Until Further Notice Closure for: Geoducks Geoduck Tract Number: 07850 – X-bed The PSP toxin result for Restoration Point Tract #07850 on 9/11/17 was 128 micrograms of toxin.

CEDAR RIVER GROWING AREA Closure Date: 05/07/2015 Closure Reason: BIOTOXIN Closed Until Further Notice Closure for: Razor Clams The Willapa Spits portion of the Cedar River growing area is closed due to increasing levels of domoic acid.

DISCOVERY BAY GROWING AREA Closure Date: 06/23/2017 Closure Reason: BIOTOXIN Closed Until Further Notice Closure for: Geoducks The PSP result on 6/23/17 was 118 micrograms of toxin in geoducks. The blue mussel closure was lifted on 10/24/17.

HUNTER BAY GROWING AREA Closure Date: 05/18/2016 Closure Reason: BIOTOXIN Closed Until Further Notice Closure for: Scallop The PSP result on 5/18/16 was 110 micrograms of toxin in pink scallops.

KINGSTON GROWING AREA Closure Date: 08/28/2017 Closure Reason: BIOTOXIN Closed Until Further Notice Closure for: Geoducks Geoduck Tract Number: 06250 – Apple Cove Point North The PSP result on 8/28/17 was 300 micrograms of toxin.

KINGSTON GROWING AREA Closure Date: 08/21/2017 Closure Reason: BIOTOXIN Closed Until Further Notice Closure for: Geoducks Geoduck Tract Number: 06400 – President Point The PSP result on 8/21/17 was 98 micrograms of toxin.

MACKAYE HARBOR GROWING AREA Closure Date: 06/19/2017 Closure Reason: BIOTOXIN Closed Until Further Notice Closure for: Scallop The PSP result on 6/19 was 220 micrograms of toxin in pink scallops.

PENN COVE GROWING AREA Closure Date: 09/26/2017 Closure Reason: BIOTOXIN Closed Until Further Notice Closure for: All Species The PSP result on 9/26/17 was 961 micrograms of toxin in blue mussels.

PORT ORCHARD PASSAGE GROWING AREA Closure Date: 09/11/2017 Closure Reason: BIOTOXIN Closed Until Further Notice Closure for: Geoducks Geoduck Tract Number: 06800 – Agate Pass/ Sandy Hook The PSP toxin result on 9/11/17 was 616 micrograms of toxin.

PORT ORCHARD PASSAGE GROWING AREA Closure Date: 08/14/2017 Closure Reason: BIOTOXIN Closed Until Further Notice Closure for: Geoducks Geoduck Tract Number: 07000 – Battle Point North (Manzanita) The PSP result on 8/14/17 was 110 micrograms of toxin.

PORTAGE BAY GROWING AREA Closure Date: 10/01/2017 Closure Reason: CONDITIONAL CLOSURE Re-opens on: 12/31/2017 Closure for: The Conditionally Approved portion of Portage Bay is closed from October 1st through December 31st, based on seasonal water quality conditions.

POVERTY BAY GROWING AREA Closure Date: 09/22/2017 Closure Reason: BIOTOXIN Closed Until Further Notice Closure for: Geoducks Geoduck Tract Number: 10380 – Redondo The PSP result on 9/22/17 was 164 micrograms of toxin.

POVERTY BAY GROWING AREA IN KING COUNTY Closure Date: 06/01/2017 Closure Reason: CONDITIONAL CLOSURE Re-opens on: 11/30/2017 Closure for: All Species The Conditionally Approved portion of Poverty Bay will be closed from June 1st through November 30th, based on seasonal water quality conditions.

ROSARIO STRAIT GROWING AREA Closure Date: 06/19/2017 Closure Reason: BIOTOXIN Closed Until Further Notice Closure for: Scallop The PSP result on 6/19 was 103 micrograms of toxin in pink scallops.

SEQUIM BAY GROWING AREA Closure Date: 10/06/2017 Closure Reason: BIOTOXIN Closed Until Further Notice Closure for: Manila Clams, Oysters The DSP toxin result on 10/12/17 was 26 micrograms in oysters and 17 micrograms in manila clams on 10/6/17.

SHOAL BAY GROWING AREA Closure Date: 06/19/2017 Closure Reason: BIOTOXIN Closed Until Further Notice Closure for: Scallop The PSP result on 6/19 was 112 micrograms of toxin in pink scallops.

UPRIGHT CHANNEL GROWING AREA Closure Date: 06/19/2017 Closure Reason: BIOTOXIN Closed Until Further Notice Closure for: Scallop The PSP result on 6/19 was 134 micrograms of toxin in pink scallops.

Lastly, the report includes the following Recently Opened Growing Areas: 

ANNAS BAY GROWING AREA Closure Date: 10/19/2017 Closure Reason: EMERGENCY CLOSURE Re-opened on: 10/30/2017 Closure for: All Species The Skokomish River Delta in Annas Bay and the Bald Point/Brown Point area of Hood Canal 6 are closed to commercial shellfish harvest due to the Skokomish River exceeding 15.0 feet. The Skokomish River Delta in Annas Bay and the Bald Point/Brown Point area of Hood Canal 6 will open for shellfish harvesting on 10/30/17 at 9:15 AM.

EAST STRAITS GROWING AREA IN CLALLAM COUNTY Closure Date: 09/01/2017 Closure Reason: CONDITIONAL CLOSURE Re-opened on: 10/31/2017 Closure for: All Species The Conditionally Approved portion of Pillar Point County Park in the East Straits Growing Area from the boat launch east to the park boundary area is closed from September 1st through October 31st each year, based on seasonal water quality condition.

HOOD CANAL Closure for: All Species #3 GROWING AREA Closure Date: 09/13/2017 Closure Reason: CONDITIONAL CLOSURE Re-opened on: 10/31/2017 The Conditionally Approved portion of Hood Canal 3 Growing Area at the mouth of the Duckabush River is closed from May 1 through October 31, based on seasonal water quality conditions.

Since this report does not include Recreational harvesters, those interested can view current sport harvest guideline information here. For more information about reports and classification information the DOH can be reached at 360-236-3330.

True North recalls Toppers brand salmon for Listeria risk

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 00:30

True North Salmon Co. Ltd. is recalling True North Seafood Co. branded “Toppers Smoked Salmon Flakes” seasoned with lemon and dill because of possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

The problem was discovered during routine testing by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which is advising that no one should consume the recalled product.

Consumers can identify the recalled fish by looking for the following label information:

  • True North Seafood Co. brand “Toppers Smoked Salmon Flakes” seasoned with lemon and dill;
  • 113-gram packages;
  • Product code 7838;
  • All best-before dates up to and including Nov. 17; and
  • UPC number 0 60719 72255 6.

“Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick,” according to the recall notice.

Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled fish and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctors of the possible exposure to the bacteria.

Also, because it can take up to 70 days for symptoms to develop, anyone who has eaten the product should monitor themselves in the coming months for signs of listeriosis.

Symptoms can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache and neck stiffness. Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, the infection can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth. In severe cases of illness, people may die.

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FSN Briefly

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 00:15

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 iwaspoisoned.com.

Modern high-tech greenhouses such as this don’t use dirt.

Organic board supports hydroponics 
By an 8-7 vote, the National Organic Standards Board has recommended that hydroponic and aquaponic growing techniques should not be prohibited from the USDA’s National Organic Program.

However, the board, which advises the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding organic operations, said no to aeroponics. Fourteen members voted against organic certification for the technique. One member of the board abstained from the aeroponics vote.

A debate has been raging years about whether soil is essential to organic growing, with the Cornucopia Institute and the Organic Consumers Association opposing certification of non-soil operations. In 1995 the NOSB recommended that USDA-approved organic certifiers be allowed to license hydroponic operations, “if all provisions of the OFPA (Organic Foods Production Act) have been met.” Licensing has been inconsistent, though, with some certifiers approving hydroponic operations and some not.

Opponents say the foundation of organic farming is clean soil. They contend soil conservation and eliminating certain pesticides and herbicides spurred the birth of the organic movement.

There is concern that certification for hydroponic and aquaponic operations could reduce overall organic output. However, operators of non-soil greenhouses say they can produce 8, 10 and 22 times more tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, respectively, per acre than conventional field operations produce.

So-called cage free poultry operations often confine birds in cramped conditions such as this, which can contribute to the spread of bacteria such as Salmonella.

‘Big Chicken’ says the sky may not be falling, but …
In her words, public health journalist Maryn McKenna says she wrote the book “Big Chicken” in hopes of improving the quality of the chicken consumed in the United States. In the book, McKenna describes the American public’s love affair with white meat and how it has contributed to antibiotic-resistant foodborne infections in humans.

She also calls out the poultry industry for labeling claims that mislead consumers. McKenna notes that “things like, for instance, ‘raised without hormones,’ or ‘raised cage-free’ ” don’t tell the whole story. Hormones have never been legal for meat chicken in the United States, and meat chickens are never raised in cages.

“To me, a label claim of, ‘Raised without antibiotics’ is a thing that’s really worth looking for,” the author told National Public Radio recently.

McKenna also suggests chicken industry heavyweights such as Perdue Farms and Tyson, as well as restaurant chains including Chick-Fil-A, Subway and McDonald’s, haven’t moved away from antibiotic use in chickens because they’re concerned about antibiotic resistance. They did so, she contends, because of the concerns of consumers, who ultimately determine corporate profits.

To view a video from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on how to properly clean up after a norovirus incident, please click on the image.

Huskers say fill your ‘Barf Bucket’ now
Having a toolkit, or “Barf Bucket” as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension calls it, can help with the proper handling of messy incidents associated with norovirus, sometimes referred to as the stomach flu.

Vomiting and diarrhea can hit suddenly when people are infected with the highly contagious virus. When such bodily fluids splash on floors, bathroom fixtures and other surfaces in childcare facilities, nursing homes, schools, restaurants, etc., a “Barf Bucket” is a practical item for containment procedures.

“Knowing how to clean is very important to prevent the bacteria from spreading, as the virus can survive on surfaces for up to a week and is somewhat resistant to general cleaning,” according to the Extension Service.

The Extension Service says some Barf Bucket items, such as gloves, goggles, shoe covers and protective aprons, are Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for the people who are tasked with cleaning up after a norovirus incident.

Among the other supplies recommended for a Barf Bucket kit are:

  • Liquid-spill absorbant material;
  • Single-use flat-edge scoop, shovel or dustpan;
  • Bucket;
  • Spray bottle of disinfectant; see the Environmental Protection Agency for acceptable products;
  • Paper towels;
  • Liquid soap;
  • Garbage bags for double bagging waste and cleaning materials; and
  • A designated mop.

Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness, and accounts for more than 50 percent of food-related outbreaks, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The pathogen can spread through the air, live on surfaces and contaminate food.

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FDA sends warnings to seafood processor, catering service

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 00:00

A seafood processor in Panama, and a ready-to-eat food manufacturer in Tennessee are both on notice from the Food and Drug Administration for violations of federal food safety rules.

The FDA sent the warning letters to the companies in July and September, and posted them for public view in recent days. Companies are allowed 15 working days to respond to FDA warning letters. Failure to promptly correct violations can result in legal action without further notice, including, without limitation, seizure and injunction.

Pesca Fina, S.A. Vista Alegre, Anaijan, Panama 
In a July 18 warning letter to General Manager Constantino Rusodimos, the FDA cited serious violations of the Seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulation. According to the warning letter, the FDA discovered and documented problems during an April 4 inspection of one of the company’s importers in the United States, while assessing that importer’s compliance with the U.S. Seafood HACCP regulation.

“That importer was found to be importing fresh wild caught whole, eviscerated yellowtail tuna, Thunnus Albacares, from your processing facility,” according to the warning letter. “During the inspection of that importer, we collected a copy of your firm’s HACCP plan for fresh wild caught whole, eviscerated yellowtail tuna. Our evaluation of that HACCP plan revealed that the plan demonstrates serious deviations from the requirements of the seafood HACCP regulation.

“Accordingly, your fresh wild caught whole, eviscerated scombrotoxin (histamine) forming fish, including your Mahi Mahi i.e. Dorado, and Yellowtail tuna are adulterated, in that they have been prepared, packed, or held under conditions whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health.”

Upon inspection, the FDA observed the following significant deviations:

  • The firm’s corrective action plans for their “HACCP plan for Whole, Eviscerated Fish, Histamine Producers” at critical control points to control scombrotoxin formation are not appropriate;
  • The firm’s corrective actions do not ensure that adulterated product will remain out of commerce; and
  • The firm does not include a separate critical control point for butchering/packaging, consequently they will be unable to assess the time/temperature exposures during those steps in their process.

The FDA also requested that the firm’s corrective actions include specification of their HACCP plan for Whole, Eviscerated Fish, Histamine Producers, specifically asking the company to “clarify when you take internal temperatures of fish at the receiving step.”

Demetri’s Coffee Chattanooga, TN
In a Sept. 25 warning letter to owner Demetri S. Proffitt, the FDA cited serious violations of the FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) requirements in Manufacturing, Packing or Holding Human Food. The firm manufactures ready-to-eat (RTE) food products for catering operations. The FDA discovered and documented problems at the Chattanooga, TN, manufacturing facility between July 17 and 19.

The conditions observed cause the food products held at the facility to be adulterated because they were prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health.

According to the warning letter, the FDA observed the following significant deviations:

  • The firm failed to hold foods which can support the rapid growth of undesirable microorganisms at a temperature that prevents the food from becoming adulterated. Shelled eggs, uncooked biscuit dough, cheese, gravy and other ingredients were stored in the produce cooler at approximately 60.4 degrees Ft. Some of the tubes of uncooked biscuit dough had expanded outside their packaging, some of which were observed touching the walls of the cooler.
  • The firm failed to comply with the requirement that all people working in direct contact with food, food-contact surfaces and food-packaging materials wash their hands thoroughly and sanitize if necessary to protect against contamination in an adequate hand washing facility before starting work, after each absence from the work station, and at any other time their hands may have become soiled or contaminated.

“Specifically, on July 7, three employees changed their gloves without washing their hands when they changed the type of meat during manufacturing for various ready-to-eat sandwiches,” according to the warning letter.

“Furthermore, the same employees touched non-food contact surfaces, left the room and returned to manufacture ready-to-eat sandwiches without washing their hands.

“Additionally, an employee touched her face several times with a gloved hand and then directly touched ready-to-eat food without washing her hands and/or changing gloves.”

  • The firm failed to take effective measures to exclude pests from the processing areas and to protect against the contamination of food on the premises by pests. Live flies were observed in the production room landing on ready-to-eat sausage biscuit sandwiches and food contact surfaces throughout the inspection. On two two different days, live cockroaches were observed on a food processing table leg and crawling on the walls, ceiling and floor.
  • Employees failed to wear outer garments suitable to the operation in a manner that protects against the contamination of food, food-contact surfaces, or food-packaging materials. An employee who was not wearing an apron was observed to be making ready-to-eat egg and cheese croissant sandwiches when the top of the croissant fell onto the employee’s shirt. The employee placed the top of the croissant back onto the sandwich and packaged it for sale.
  • Floors were observed to have apparent filth, grime, and food debris before and after sanitation practices were performed and condensate was observed dripping from cooling units and ceilings in the bread cooler onto various packaged bread, packaging materials, batter and products used to manufacture ready-to-eat foods.
  • The firm failed to properly maintain plant equipment as to be adequately cleanable and properly maintained. Wooden tables with visible seams and cracks were observed being used to prepare a variety of sausage biscuit sandwiches, burgers, and other food.
  • The firm failed to have adequate drainage of areas which may contribute to contamination of food by seepage, foot-borne filth, or by providing a breeding place for pests.
  • The firm failed to store clothing or other personal belongings in areas other than where food is exposed or where equipment or utensils are washed.
  • The firm’s employees failed to wear, where appropriate, in an effective manner hair nets, headbands, caps, beard covers, or other effective hair restraints.

 

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