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Darwin’s Pet Food pathogen problems ongoing for 14 months

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 01:39

Judy, who owns Blitz the German shepherd, took this photo of Darwin’s brand raw dog food when she opened it and noticed it was off-color.

Since October 2016, Darwin’s Natural Pet Food has recalled eight production lots of raw pet food. In all, the manufacturer recalled more than 23 tons of cat and dog food during a 14-month period.

The recalls include seven dog foods and one cat food. Customers who purchased the recalled products were notified of the recalls by email — two to three months after the production dates of each batch. No recall notices were posted for the general public on the company’s website or the Food and Drug Administration’s website.

Darwin’s has not responded to a request for comment on their recalls or their follow-up actions.

The company, incorporated under the name Arrow Reliance Inc., recalled the pet foods because of positive test results showing Salmonella and/or Listeria monocytogenes. The bacteria can cause serious infections in people who handle the pet food. It can also contaminate surfaces, containers and utensils, which can spread the bacteria to foods, hands and anything coming into contact with the contaminated items.

Several of Darwin’s customers say there were product safety and package quality issues that predate the latest round of recalls.

Blitz

Judy’s story
Judy adopted Blitz, an abandoned German shepherd, from an Orange County, California rescue organization in June 2012. Described by his owner as a gentle giant, he is thought to be 7 to 9 years old. About a year ago, he became partially paralyzed after developing inter-vertebral disk disease. He gets around with the aid of a special wheelchair and loves to swim.

Judy has been a customer of Darwin’s since 2012-2013. The food agreed with Blitz. His coat was soft, his stools were normal, and he didn’t itch.

About a year ago, Judy noticed a change in the Darwin’s products. The packaging was leaky, and the meat quality appeared to have deteriorated. She reported her concern to a company representative, who offered to reimburse her for the leaky packages of dog food.

According to Judy, Blitz began to suffer bad bouts of diarrhea in April 2017. He was treated with antibiotics on the assumption he was infected with giardia. Despite treatment, Blitz continued to suffer cycles of diarrhea, and was recently lab-diagnosed with a Salmonella infection.

Judy was never notified of the recalls, as she had not received any of the recalled production lots. Upon contacting the company by email after learning about the recalls, she was assured that leaky and off-color packages of meat she had been sold were “good to use.” She is now working directly with the Food and Drug Administration regarding the situation.

“I just want good, healthy food for my dog,” Judy said. “Is that so much to ask?”

Jerry’s story
Jerry volunteers at the German shepherd rescue center where Blitz was adopted. His 7-year-old German shepherd, Yavol, was 4-months-old when Jerry rescued her.

Yavol has been eating Darwin’s products for more than a year. She has suffered many bouts of lethargy, lack of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting. Yavol has been treated multiple times with generic flagyl and, on a few occasions, with antibiotics, but her digestive problems have persisted.

For the past six months or more, the Darwin’s products Jerry has been getting have had leaking packages and off-colored meat. He reported the issues to the company on multiple occasions. After being told at first that the product was safe to use, he persisted and was eventually supplied with replacement packages as compensation for the off-color and leaky packages.

Jerry did not receive notification of any recalls from the company.

Darwin’s recalled products as of Dec. 21, 2017

Darwin’s Natural Selections brand, frozen, raw Turkey with Organic Vegetable Meals for Dogs

  • Package size: 2 lbs.
  • Number of packages recalled: 1192
  • Date recall initiated: 10/17/2016
  • Manufacturing date: 7/20/2016
  • Lot number: 3142070
  • Reason for recall: Listeria monocytogenes

Darwin’s Natural Selections brand, frozen, raw Beef with Organic Vegetables Meals for Dogs

  • Package size: 2 lbs.
  • Number of packages recalled: 2391
  • Date recall initiated: 10/17/2016
  • Manufacturing date: 7/21/2016
  • Lot number: 3146070
  • Reason for recall: Listeria monocytogenes

ZooLogics brand, frozen, raw Turkey with Vegetable Meals for Dogs

  • Package size: 2 lbs.
  • Number of packages recalled: 1337
  • Date recall initiated: 10/17/2016
  • Manufacturing date: 7/25/2016
  • Lot number: 3155070
  • Reason for recall: Listeria monocytogenes

Natural Selections Duck Meals for Cats, frozen

  • Package size: 2 lb. net weight flexible film, partitioned into 4 quadrants
  • Number of packages recalled: 1560
  • Date recall initiated: 9/8/2017
  • Manufacturing date: 06/01/2017
  • Lot number: 38277
  • Reason for recall: Salmonella

Natural Selections Chicken with Organic Vegetables Meals for Dogs

  • Package size: 2 lb. net weight flexible film, partitioned into 4 quadrants
  • Number of packages recalled: 6,306
  • Date recall initiated: 12/4/2017
  • Manufacturing date: 09/26/2017
  • Lot number: 40727
  • Reason for recall: Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes

Natural Selections Duck With Organic Vegetables Meals for Dog

  • Package size: 2 lb. net weight flexible film, partitioned into 4 quadrants
  • Number of packages recalled: 3,924
  • Date recall initiated: 12/4/2017
  • Manufacturing date: 09/29/2017
  • Lot number: 40487
  • Reason for recall: Salmonella

Natural Selections Turkey With Organic Vegetables Meals for Dogs

  • Package size: 2 lb. net weight flexible film, partitioned into 4 quadrants
  • Number of packages recalled: 7123
  • Date recall initiated: 12/4/2017
  • Manufacturing date: 08/24/2017 and 09/20/2017
  • Lot number: 39937 and 40507
  • Reason for recall: Salmonella

What consumers need to know
Consult the list of recalled products and do not feed your pet any food that has been recalled by the manufacturer.

Do not feed your pet any food that appears to be spoiled, off-color, off-odor, or otherwise defective.

Take special care to avoid any drippings from thawed food that could contaminate your work surfaces.

If your pet is suffering from diarrhea, be extra careful about washing your hands before handling or preparing food.

FDA tips on using raw pet food
Because raw pet food is more likely than other types of pet food to contain Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes and other pathogens, the single best thing consumers can do to prevent infection is to not feed pets a raw diet. However, the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine is aware that some people prefer to feed their pets this type of diet.

If you choose to feed raw pet food to your pet, be aware that you can infect yourself with Salmonella or Listeria by spreading microscopic amounts of the bacteria from the contaminated food to your mouth.

For instance, you may accidentally ingest the bacteria if you touch your mouth while preparing the raw food or after handling a contaminated utensil. If you get Salmonella or Listeria on your hands or clothing, you can’t see it or smell it, but you can spread the bacteria to other people, objects and surfaces.

To prevent infection with Salmonella and Listeria

  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after handling raw pet food, and after touching surfaces or objects that have come in contact with the raw food. Potential contaminated surfaces include countertops and the inside of refrigerators and microwaves. Potential contaminated objects include kitchen utensils, feeding bowls and cutting boards.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects that come in contact with raw pet food. First wash with hot soapy water and then follow with a disinfectant. A solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach to 4 cups of water is an effective disinfectant. For a larger supply of the disinfectant solution, add ¼ cup bleach to 1 gallon water. You can also run items through the dishwasher after each use.

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Springfield expands smoked fish recall to 6 months of products

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 00:50

Springfield Smoked Fish Co. has expanded its Listeria-related recall of Smoked Salmon to include an additional brand name, a private label name, and various package sizes, fish meats and cuts, as well as spreads that were distributed nationwide; including online sales, dozens of retail and wholesale establishments and an undisclosed list of restaurants and other foodservice operations.

According to the recall notice on the FDA’s website, Springfield Smoked Fish sold the products online to consumers nationwide.

It also distributed the implicated products in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, Colorado, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The expanded recall “includes product produced between May 22, 2017, and December 12, 2017, the date the facility ceased production of the products.”

The Springfield, MA, based company initially recalled 1-pound, pre-sliced “Nova Salmon” produced Nov. 24 after environmental and product sampling tests by the firm returned positive results for Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.

“The company is working diligently to determine the root cause and continues working with food safety experts to implement corrective actions and preventative measures,” according to the recall notice posted on the Food and Drug Administration’s website.

Products added to the recall this week includes the following items sold under the brand names “Springfield Smoked Fish” and “Rachael’s Springfield Smoked Fish”:

Product Description Sizes Lot #’s UPC# Smoked Salmon – all species 4 oz. 15171 through 45172 045049113342, 045049113250, 045049113359 8 oz. 045049113083, 045049113274, 045049113304 1 lb. 045049112086, 811907018018 5lb. 045049112079 1 1/4.lb n/a 3 lb. 045049150613, 045049111065 Sliced sides (catch weight) n/a unsliced sides (catch weight) n/a trimmings/chips 045049113212 wings and bellies 045049111256 ground/spreadable 045049113236, 045049112413 Whitefish Meat 5 lb. bag 18171 through 43171 045049117111 Belly Lox  4 oz. and sliced sides 13171 through 33171 045049113311 Smoked Chubs  Catch weight 34171 through 46171 n/a Smoked Bluefish  Catch weight 34171 045049117357 Smoked Trout  6 oz. 17171 through 42171 045049117258 Smoked Whole Whitefish  Catch weight 17171 through 46171 n/a Smoked Sable  Catch weight 20171 through 33171 n/a Kippered Salmon  Catch weights 22171 through 41171 045049117012 Hot Smoked Salmon Steaks Catch weights 43471 n/a Smoked Whitefish Spread  8 oz. & 4lb 25171 through 46171 045049117432   25171 through 46171 045049117418 Cream Cheese Spreads 8 oz. & 5lb Use by 12/15/17  through 2/9/18 Spreadable Plain 045049117708 Lox 045049117760 Scallion 045049117746 Veggie 045049117739 Strawberry 045049117784 Hot and Spicy 045049117920 Whitefish Salad 8 oz. & 5lb use by 12/15/17 through 2/9/18 045049117425 045049117425

Additionally, two cream cheese spreads produced under the private label “Boston Salads” include the following recalled items:

Scallion Cream Cheese Spread 5lb use by 12/15/17 through 2/9/18 611140151721 Veggie Cream Cheese Spread 5lb use by 12/15/17 through 2/9/18

611140151714

 

The Springfield Smoked Fish recall notice did not include names or locations of restaurants or other foodservice operators that received the fish products.

Advice to consumers
Although the recall notice states that “No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem,” there is still concern that people may have unused portions of the original and additional recalled fish products in their homes.

“Consumers are urged not to consume these products,” and anyone who purchased the recalled products can take them back to the store where they purchased them for a refund or “simply discard them.”

Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled fish products and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about their possible exposure to the pathogen. Also, people who have eaten the recalled fish products and not become ill should monitor themselves in the coming weeks because it can take up to 70 days for symptoms to develop.

Listeria monocytogenes is a microscopic organism that can cause serious infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems, sometimes causing death. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 413-737-8693.

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Top food safety stories touched many lives this year

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 00:22

Editor’s Note:  The Food Safety News list of the year’s most significant news is compiled annually by our writers and editors. The list for 2017 is not led by any one or two blockbuster food safety stories, but it also won’t be quickly forgotten.

It was a year when there was finally a climax to several food safety sagas that stretched back over several years. And 2017 was a year of transition and turning the pages, though much of that remains incomplete.

Food Safety News will remain on the case in 2018, bringing closure to food safety stories, whether it’s wringing the last truth out of an outbreak; waiting for a court to render a final ruling; or catching the food industry doing something it will soon regret.

But for now, we pause to review of 2017. In about a week, we will return with a preview of what lies ahead for food safety in 2018.

1. Beef Products Inc. wins reported $177 million from ABC in a sudden end “pink slime” trial
After five years of preliminary legal wrangling, a trial in Union County, SD, got underway in June over BPI’s claims against ABC News for financial damages under the state’s agricultural disparagement act. BPI closed three of its four plants and lay off 700 workers when demand for its lean finely textured beef fell off after numerous media reports, including a series of ABC News reports in March 2012, that referred to the product as “pink slime.” BPI’s lawyers said ABC used the phrase more than 350 times across six different media platforms including television and online.

Because BPI was claiming as much as $1.9 billion in actual damages, ABC was potentially on the hook for almost $5.7 billion because South Dakota law provides for triple damages. Before BPI finished putting on its case, the two parties settled for an undisclosed amount and called off the rest of the trial.

The undisclosed settlement, however, did not remain undisclosed. When the Walt Disney Co., which owns ABC, later reported financial information to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The report included $177 million that financial analysts say was likely the payoff to BPI.

While the settlement amount officially remains confidential, its likely to attract renewed interest into agricultural disparagement laws on the books in 13 states. In addition to South Dakota, they are: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas.

BPI’s status as the first plaintiff to come away as a winner in such a disparagement case is obvious. Since the settlement, BPI is investing in plant and new product development, and a new $10 million fund to help workers it had to lay off five years ago.

That’s an outcome not experienced by Washington State apple growers who sued CBS in 1989, or Texas cattlemen who sued Oprah in 1996. In those cases, the media won.

2. A pesky parasite causes year’s most massive outbreak, but the source remains a mystery
During 2017, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 1,065 laboratory-confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis from U.S infections. The cause of the intestinal infection is a single-celled parasite called Cyclospora cayetanensis.

Imported fresh produce, usually from Mexico, was linked to previous U.S. outbreaks of cyclosporiasis. Fresh basil, cilantro, mesclun lettuce, raspberries and snow peas transported the parasite to the United States in past outbreaks.

How the parasites spread in 2017 remains unknown. In addition to contaminated fresh produce sources, some people in the U.S. contract Cyclospora parasites during foreign travel. However, for 2017, the CDC found 587, or 56 percent, of those infected in the U.S. did not report any international travel.

Cyclospora cases involving people who reported no foreign travel touched 36 states in 2017.

3. Rogue wave takes life of food safety leader Dave Theno
Nothing feels more like a gut-punch than the sudden and unexpected death of a friend and colleague. And that’s exactly how many in the food safety community were feeling after hearing about the death in Hawaii this past June 19 of Dave Theno at age 66.

He is best known as the food safety expert that saved Jack-in-the-Box after the San Diego fast-food chain brought him in to manage its way back from the deadly 1993 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak.

Theno was hit and killed by a massive wave while swimming with his grandson near Hulopo’e Beach, fronting the Four Seasons Resort on Lana’i. The family kept a vacation residence on the island not far from the resort and often swam in the area.

His leadership not only saved Jack. In many ways, the impact he had on the beef industry saved the American hamburger, which in recent years has been experiencing a renaissance.

After 16 years, Theno left Jack for Gray Dog Partners, his Del Mar, CA-based food safety consulting business where he was CEO from 2009 until his untimely death.

Theno had complete authority over food safety at Jack, and he did not hesitate to use it. The meat industry howled when he first implemented “test and hold” to make sure the beef sold to consumers was free of E. coli O157, but all soon followed along.

A food safety leader on many fronts, Theno was known for always keeping with him a picture of Lauren Beth Rudolph, one of four children killed in the 1993 E. coli outbreak.

4. Egg men finally do their jail time after Supreme Court declines to hear their case
Doing three months in jail at two of the better prison hospitals on the planet may not seem like much in the way of punishment. However, the fact that Austin “Jack” DeCoster is spending his holidays in a federal prison hospital outside Boston and that his son Peter already did his 90 days at a similar prison facility at Rochester, MN, is significant.

It all dates back to 2010 when then FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg wrote a letter to U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-IA, suggesting that incarceration of “responsible corporate officials” could be a useful enforcement tool for her agency.

The issue the DeCosters wanted the U.S. Supreme Court to review was whether a “responsible corporate official” (ROC) can see their liberty denied for the illegal acts of underlings of which they have no personal knowledge or intent.

Jailing “Jack” DeCoster is popular with many who’ve followed his career. Now 83 years old and under the care of prison cardiologists, DeCoster was a “habitual violator” of environmental laws, paid millions for fostering conditions involving harassment and assault and pleaded guilty to hiring illegal aliens.

But for the charge that sent he and his son to jail — shipping adulterated eggs into interstate commerce — they knew nothing, according to the official record. They got jail time for being “RCOs.”

Their appellate attorneys said circuit courts do not agree on whether the U.S. Constitution permits such incarcerations, and that’s why the issue will eventually have to be decided by the Supreme Court.

But that decision did not happen in time for the DeCosters.

5. I.M. Healthy products implicated in outbreak sold online months after recalls
Months after a product recalled for sickening people with E. coli O157:H7 and causing acute kidney failure in several young children, you don’t expect to find one of the world’s largest retailers selling it online,

But we did. And then, we did again.

Probably the most shocking was finding the Jeff Bezos-owned Amazon.com was till selling I.M. Healthy brand soy nut butter in September when it had been recalled in March. But, the fact that the recalled soy nut butter was still available in October on Shop.com seemed even more peculiar.

Worth noting are two pretty simple facts. The first is that the obligation to round up the recalled product from the marketplace falls on the party doing the recalling. It cannot be resold, contributed to charities like food banks or even sold at yard sales.

Likewise, it cannot be sold by others.

We learned about this from readers who bought recalled products online. the Food and Drug Administration heard about it from us, and they did their thing. And, the offending websites finally removed the recalled food.

A mystery remains, however. A dangerous outbreak was traced directly to these products with multiple laboratory confirmations. The products caused serious injuries. There should have been some urgency about their removal. Why all the yawns?

The media mostly slept through this one, but Food Safety News did not, thanks to our readers.

6. U.S. bans Brazilian beef as JBS works to calm the chaos after Bautista brothers’ exit
Brazilian billionaire brothers Joesley and Wesley Batista created enough chaos for the world’s largest meat-packing company in 2017 to bring down most businesses. But Sao Paulo-based JBS S.A., which owns Greeley, CO-based JBS USA, is not just any company.

Joesley and Wesley were, respectively, JBS’s chairman and CEO when the series of tumultuous events began. It would take a 12-part mini-series to depict all the twists and turns going back to 2016.

Suffice to say the Batistas were involved in charges involving bribes paid to the former president of the Brazilian parliament and later Michel Temer, the current president of Brazil. By May 19, 2017, JBS S.A. was admitting to paying bribes to Temer and the two previous presidents of Brazil. Later testimony revealed JBS had bribed 1,829 Brazilian politicians including food safety inspectors.

Bribes of government officials were said to be part of a strategy for the brothers and JBS to obtain reduced market funding from government sources. It appeared for some time the brothers would stay out of jail through so-called leniency deals with prosecutors that involved an agreement to pay hefty fines.

The U.S. halted imports of fresh Brazilian beef on June 22, and the ban remains in place as the year comes to a close. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue initially implemented safety checks on all Brazilian imports in March but went to the ban when far too many samples tested were failing.

At year-end, fixes were underway at JBS. Irish expatriot Jeremiah O’Callaghan is the new board chairman and a new global compliance department, governance committee and “Always Do It Right” compliance program was set up. Alfred “Al” Almanza, who formerly headed USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Program, was hired to lead global food safety and quality assurance for JBS. And an advisory board for JBS USA was recently created.

Finally, there will be no fire sale. JBS is divesting specific assets, but not all assets, in the divestiture program, which is expected to raise about 6 billion Brazilian Reals. R$1.00 equals about 30 U.S. cents. The most prominent asset on the block is the Five Rivers Cattle Feeding operation in Colorado.

7. Produce rule’s water quality requirements put on hold
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law on Jan. 4, 2011, by President Barack Obama. After five years of rule writing, comment reviews, revisions and final adoptions, many of the specific safety requirements started going into effect in 2017.

But growers of fresh produce, which is responsible for an increasing number of foodborne illness outbreaks, are getting more time.

It’s going to be at least 11 to 13 years after the FSMA became law before water quality standards will take effect for fresh fruits and vegetables. Credit goes to produce lobbyists.

The FDA made the delay official on Sept. 12. Compliance dates for agricultural water requirements were formally extended for another two to four years for fresh produce other than sprouts. Food safety advocates say the water rules, which include testing for pathogens, are critical for fresh produce because it is often consumed raw, without a cooking step to kill pathogens.

The new agricultural water compliance date for large farms is Jan. 26, 2022. Small farms and very small farms will have until Jan. 26, 2023, and Jan. 26, 2024, respectively. The smallest of growing operations, which often supply local farmers markets and retailers, are exempt from the food safety requirements.

  • Compliance dates for covered activities, except for those involving fresh sprouts, are to be:
    Very small businesses, those with more than $25,000 but no more than $250,000 in average annual produce sales during the previous three year period: four years
  • Small businesses, those with during the previous three years more than $250,000 but no more than $500,000 in average annual produce sales: three years
  • All other farms: two years

The compliance dates for certain aspects of the water quality standards, and related testing and recordkeeping provisions, allow an additional two years beyond each of these compliance dates.

8. Food freedom movement begins to get traction with state legislatures
Law professor and author Baylen J. Linnekin says Maine’s Food Sovereignty Act has “faced its first test and survived.” Maine’s food freedom law cleared several hurdles in 2017. It had to escape Gov. Paul LePage’s often used veto pen, and it needed a special session amendment to keep the U.S. Department of Agrucilture from ceasing to recognize state-inspected slaughter facilities.

When local officials at those quaint town meetings began declaring their little jurisdictions free from food licensing, inspection and other food safety regulations a few years ago, it was sort of charming. But 2017 showed that when enough cities and towns pass food freedom laws, the state legislature probably won’t be far behind.

Maine, North Dakota and Wyoming have now all adopted some version of food freedom laws. Maine’s Food Sovereignty Act allows farmers and other food producers to engage local consumers in direct sales if there is a local food freedom ordinance in effect.

Gov. LePage asked the Maine Legislature to amend the new law in special session to make it clear that the act does not repeal other state or federal food safety provisions. USDA had threatened Maine’s jurisdiction over five meat processing facilities unless the food freedom law was amended.

Linnekin, author of “Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws would Make Our Food System More Sustainable,” is an advocate of outcome-based approaches for food safety.

9. Appeals heard on Peanut Corporation of American criminal convictions, sentences
This year the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals accepted all written documents and heard oral arguments in its review of the convictions and sentencing of executives formerly associated with Peanut Corporation of America (PCA).

All that remains is for the appellate judges to render an opinion on whether to overturn any part of the convictions and sentences of brothers Stewart and Michael Parnell along with Mary Wilkerson.

The most recent activity were oral arguments on Nov. 7 in Atlanta. All written briefs were submitted earlier in the year. It’s not known when the court will rule.

A jury convicted brothers Steward and Michael Parnell along with former PCA employee Mary Wilkerson in 2014. They were sentenced in 2015. Their appeals, which were combined, involved multiple issues.

The trio remains incarcerated. Both Stewart Parnell, 63, and Michael Parnell, 58, are in federal minimum security prisons at Estill, SC, and Milan, MI, respectively. The jury convicted the brothers on a series of fraud and conspiracy charges.

Unless their appeals are successful, Stewart is not due for release until 2040, and Michael won’t be free until 2033.

Wilkerson was convicted of one count of obstruction of justice, and is due for release on March 10, 2020, from a minimum-security federal women’s prison camp at Marianna, FL.

10. Federal food safety sees new leadership during year of transition

Al Almanza retired from the federal government on July 31.

This past spring, Dr. Stephen Ostroff arrived in Chicago to headline a food safety conference as acting FDA Commissioner. By the time he left town, he was again FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb became the 21st FDA Commissioner on May 11. He stepped in with apparent ease from his days as a deputy commissioner. The new Commish has kept Ostroff on board to run food safety.

At the CDC, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald took over as director in July. She succeeded Dr. Tom Frieden, who headed CDC for the eight years of the Obama administration.

Fitzgerald is an obstetrician-gynochologist and was Georgia’s public health commissioner. Her first months on the job at CDC have been reportedly low key. CDC is about to make history as the City of Atlanta annexes the federal campus on Jan. 1, 2018.

On July 31, Alfred “Al” Almanza retired from the federal government after almost four decades of service. He ended up with two titles: Deputy Under Secretary of Food Safety and administrator of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

Secretary of Agriculture Perdue named two FSIS veterans to replace Almanza on an acting basis. Carmen Rottenberg was named interim Deputy Under Secretary for the Office of Food Safety, and Paul Kiecker became FSIS’s acting administrator.

President Donald J. Trump has yet to appoint a USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety as required by law. That appointment will require confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

The Under Secretary for Food Safety is the highest food safety job in the federal government. It’s been vacant for the past four years.

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Canadians warned to avoid romaine lettuce until further notice

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 21:02

Canadian officials are advising the public to avoid eating romaine lettuce until further notice because of an expanding E. coli outbreak, but they have not revealed the supplier or brands involved.

At least one person has died and 40 have been confirmed infected with E. coli O157:H7. Sixteen have required hospitalization. Onset of their symptoms  range from mid-November through early December. There is a lag between when people become ill and when the government records a confirmed outbreak case, so additional victims are likely to be identified.

Contaminated romaine lettuce could still be in consumers’ homes, restaurants, grocery stores, foodservice operations, distribution centers and other points in the food supply chain. Romaine’s shelf life of up to five weeks prompted health officials to urge people to discard all romaine lettuce.

“There appears to be an ongoing risk of E. coli infections associated with the consumption of romaine lettuce,” according to an update posted today by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

“Individuals in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador are advised to consider consuming other types of lettuce, instead of romaine lettuce, until more is known about the outbreak and the cause of contamination.

“… exposure to romaine lettuce has been identified as the source of the outbreak, but the cause of contamination has not been identified.”

Ongoing threat
In the past week, 10 more victims have been identified. The initial outbreak notice, posted Dec. 11, reported 21 confirmed victims.

“These illnesses indicate that contaminated romaine lettuce may still be on the market — including in restaurants, grocery stores and any establishments that serve food,” PHAC reported today.

Outbreak victims reported eating romaine lettuce at home, as well as in prepared salads purchased at grocery stores, restaurants and fast food chains, according to the outbreak update. Public health investigators are working with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to determine the source of the romaine lettuce that ill individuals were exposed to.

That source is most likely the United States, or possibly Mexico, based on growing seasons and existing supply chain patterns. Between the relatively limited number of possible suppliers and government traceability requirements, the lack of information from Canadian officials is “perplexing” as far as food safety attorney Bill Marler is concerned.

“This outbreak has been going on for weeks and it’s perplexing that a lettuce source has to been named,” said the Seattle attorney who has been representing victims of food poisoning since the deadly 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak.

“Canada has a very sophisticated surveillance system, similar to the U.S. That raises concerns because if you don’t know where the lettuce is coming from, you don’t know if there is an ongoing threat.”

Even if the grower of the implicated romaine lettuce has harvested the last crop of the season, the E. coli risks can continue. Growing fields could be contaminated, thus contaminating the next crop to be rotated in, and packing/processing facilities could be the source of the pathogen. If that’s the case, Marler said other fresh produce commodities could be contaminated in the facilities.

It remains unknown if whole heads of romaine or chopped, bagged romaine — or both — are implicated in the current outbreak. Canadian officials have not revealed those details. No products have been recalled.

Advice to consumers
Although anyone can contract an E. coli infection, pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, young children and older adults are most at risk for developing fatal infections or severe complications.

Anyone who has eaten romaine lettuce and developed symptoms of E. coli infection should immediately seek medical attention. Specific lab test are required to diagnose E. coli infection.

Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, headache, mild fever, severe stomach cramps, and watery or bloody diarrhea. The onset of symptoms can range from 1 to 10 days after exposure.

“Some do not get sick at all, though they can still spread the infection to others. Others may feel as though they have a bad case of upset stomach. In some cases, individuals become seriously ill and must be hospitalized,” according to the health agency notice.

People who develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) need intensive medical treatment, usually including dialysis for kidney failure.

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Trump releases former Agriprocessors executive from prison

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 14:17

The medium-security federal prison at Otisville, NY freed 58-year old Sholom Rubashkin Wednesday because President Donald J. Trump commuted the remaining 20 years of his sentence.

Rubashkin won his freedom because of an impressive campaign dating back to 2012 after an appellate court decided to let a 27-year sentence stand on the first-time, non-violent offender.

More than 100 former Attorneys General, Deputy Attorneys General, FBI Directors, Solicitor General, Federal Judges, U.S. Attorney, State Attorneys General and law professors signed letters requesting executive clemency for Rubashkin. The White House also released numerous letters from “bipartisan leaders from across the political spectrum, from Nancy Pelosi to Orrin Hatch,”favoring the Rubashkin commutation.

Rubashkin’s troubles began with the 2008 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid of Agriprocessors Inc.’s kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, IA. That led to Rubashkin’s federal indictment on bank fraud and related charges.

The role of Linda R. Reade, chief judge for the U.S. Court for Northern Iowa captured national attention, both for the stiff sentence and his involvement with the original ICE raid.

When, upon review, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th District in St. Louis found the judge’s actions were acceptable, there was an unsuccessful attempt in 2012 to obtain a Writ of Certiorari for the U.S. Supreme Court to review Reade’s actions.

Former President Barack Obama exercised his constitutional power to grant executive clemency—including pardons and commutations– for 1,927 individuals convicted of federal crimes. But Rubashkin was not among them.

The attorneys and law professors renewed their campaign once Trump was President-elect. They claimed Rubashkin’s 27-year sentence–for fraud offenses for inflating collateral to obtain a higher line of credit and being 11 days late in paying for some cattle– was “far longer than the median sentences for murder, kidnapping, sexual abuse, child pornography…”

In Feb. 23 letter to Trump, renewing the request for clemency, 60 Congressmen and Senators and over 100 attorneys, judges and law professors said the Rubashkin case represented a “manifest injustice” that will erode confidence in federal courts to “administer justice.”

The presidential action is a commutation of the remaining prison sentence, not a pardon. It means Rubashkin’s conviction remains and his term of supervised release and restitution obligations remain.

Trump’s only pardon so far went to the 85-year-old former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.

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Ground beef recalled for undeclared soy and misbranding

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 13:57

PFP Enterprises LLC,  doing business as Texas Meat Packers in Fort Worth is recalling approximately 7,570 pounds of ground beef products due to misbranding and an undeclared allergen, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The products contain soy, a known allergen, which is not declared on the product label.

The raw, frozen, ground beef items were produced on Sept. 28, 2017. The recalled products include:

  • 40-lb. cases containing four 10-lb. bags of “85/15 Ground Beef Bulk” with item code 4013 and Patterson Food Processors printed on the label.
  • 10-lb. cases containing two 5-lb. bags of “85/15 Ground Beef Bulk” with item code 4012 and Patterson Food Processors printed on the label.

The recalled products bear the establishment number “EST. 34715” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to a distributor and institutional locations in Texas.

The problem was discovered when FSIS received a complaint from a school about the product’s packaging. FSIS laboratory testing confirmed that the product contained soy and added water. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Institutions and consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website.

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Brucellosis diagnosis difficult; key questions can save lives

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 00:09

It’s not every day that doctors see a Brucella infection among their patients. The disease is rare in the United States, with only about 120 cases annually. But when brucellosis is suspected, it’s vitally important to order the right tests to diagnose and treat the disease promptly with appropriate antibiotics.

But, before the tests are ordered, it is crucial to ask patients the right questions. Their health could depend on it. Those who don’t receive treatment for brucellosis can develop serious disease that can affect their lives and persist for years.

Although brucellosis is mainly a bacterial disease of animals, several species of Brucella bacteria are known to cause disease in humans. Because the diagnostic test and treatment vary, it is important to identify not only whether a patient is infected with Brucella, but also what kind of Brucella is causing disease.

Each species of Brucella has distinct risk factors. When brucellosis is suspected, getting a thorough medical history is an important first step because symptoms can develop anywhere from five days to six months after exposure.

Diagnosing brucellosis cannot be done by symptom presentation alone because initial symptoms are nonspecific and resemble those of other febrile illnesses. A person who is infected with Brucella typically presents with a history of fever; sweats; malaise; anorexia; headache; fatigue; and muscle, joint, or back pain.

About 70 to 75 percent of U.S. brucellosis cases reported annually to CDC are due to the bacterial species Brucella melitensis and Brucella abortus. Many of these cases are associated with consumption of unpasteurized dairy products — such as raw milk and cheese made with raw milk — during international travel to places where brucellosis is endemic in animals. Although acquired outside the United States, these cases are not diagnosed until after the patient has returned home, due to brucellosis’ long incubation period.

In the United States, 25 to 30 percent of brucellosis cases are due to Brucella suis and almost all are diagnosed in people who hunt and slaughter feral swine. People usually become infected through contact with blood and fluids from infected swine while dressing the carcass. However, keep in mind that dogs can contract brucellosis from feral swine and they can then spread the infection to people.

Although less common in humans, Brucella canis is found in dogs all over the world, including the United States, and generally causes mild illness in people.

Finally, people can become infected with Brucella RB51, a strain of Brucella abortus that is used to vaccinate cattle in the United States and other parts of the world. Although RB51 was developed to be less pathogenic, it can cause disease in humans. Human cases of RB51 are often associated with needle-stick exposures while vaccinating cattle, and cases are usually veterinarians or veterinary technicians.

Human cases in 2017 linked to raw milk
Although very rare, the CDC has received notification of two confirmed human infections with RB51 brucellosis associated with consumption of raw milk in the United States this year, emphasizing the need for healthcare professionals to ask patients whether they have consumed raw milk or other unpasteurized dairy products.

Most clinical diagnostic laboratories are able to run serologic tests, which detect an antibody response to most of the Brucella species. However, Brucella canis and Brucella RB51 won’t show up on serology, so cultures are needed to confirm the infection. State health departments can provide assistance in finding laboratories with culture capabilities. They can also guide physicians and assist in determining the appropriate route of sample submission for a proper diagnosis.

Always remember to inform the lab that brucellosis is suspected when submitting a sample. This will ensure that the lab staff will take appropriate precautions when performing tests and prevent additional exposures to the bacteria.

Treatment for brucellosis is typically a combination of doxycycline and rifampin for at least six weeks. However, Brucella RB51 is resistant to rifampin and it should not be used if this strain is suspected.

If not treated appropriately, brucellosis can lead to long-term disease associated with arthritis, endocarditis, chronic fatigue, depression, or swelling of the liver or spleen.

Visit the CDC’s brucellosis website or consult the CDC’s brucellosis reference guide for more information on the different types of diagnostic tests available, treatment, and prevention of brucellosis.

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Food safety reminders for your egg-cellent holiday season

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 00:00

With the holiday season hustling and bustling, company and food goes hand in hand. Friends and families gather for dinner and coworkers share treats in offices and factories. Each holiday season, the CDC renews reminders about the importance of food safety basics.

“Wash hands and surfaces often, avoid cross-contamination, cook foods to proper temperatures and refrigerate foods promptly,” is the mantra from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those rules are particularly important when preparing and serving dishes and drinks made with eggs, which are frequently featured in festive feasts. Children, the elderly, pregnant women and anyone with a compromised immune system, such as transplant recipients and cancer patients are at greater risk of becoming infected by such pathogens.

Eggs are a staple ingredient in cookies, cakes, Chanukah latkes and eggnog. The way eggs and their shells are handled can help or hinder the holidays. The vast majority of eggs that are sold in their shells are not pasteurized, and therefore can contain Salmonella bacteria. Regulations require certain measures for commercially sold eggs that help reduce pathogens on shells. However, Salmonella can live inside the shells.

To avoid holiday hazards, check this list of egg-cellent food safety tips. In fact, check it twice to make doubly sure you don’t poison family or friends.

Think of raw eggs like raw meat: Would you rub meat on your countertops? Would you touch raw chicken and carry on preparing other foods without washing your hands with soap and water? After cracking eggs into a bowl, always wash your hands and anything else you touched. Also watch for drippings on the sides of bowls and countertops, making sure to clean thoroughly clean anything that has come into contact with raw eggs.

Raw eggs make an entire dish raw: Rolling out raw cookie dough on counters and cutting out holiday cookies creates cross contamination possibilities for anything cookie makers or their dough touches. Be sure to closely supervise children and clean up carefully so guests don’t unknowingly touch potentially contaminated surfaces.

Say no to raw dough: Just like eating raw meat or fish, consuming raw cookie dough could make you sick. No matter what farm they come from or what store sells them, all eggs are at risk of containing Salmonella. The CDC warns against eating raw cookie dough because of raw eggs. Raw flour can also contain pathogens such as E. coli and requires similar procedures as eggs to avoid foodborne illnesses. Children, the elderly, and anyone with a compromised immune system are at greater risk of becoming infected by such pathogens.

Pasteurized egg products: Egg products that are sold in cartons are generally pasteurized. Many restaurants use such egg products because of the added safety pasteurization provides. These products also eliminate the possibility of bacteria or other pathogens on shells contaminating foods and food preparation areas. If sauces such as Ceaser dressing or Hollandaise call for raw eggs, using egg products is safer.

Cook thoroughly: Make sure your no foods are raw or undercooked in the center. Avoid burning the outside of lotkes and getting stuck with raw centers by keeping and eye on the pan’s heat. Steer clear from sunny-side-up eggs with runny yolks.

Do not drink unpasteurized eggnog: Unpasteurized raw eggs should not be used in eggnog, smoothies, shakes or any other beverages. Don’t believe the myth that spiking the eggnog with alcohol will kill pathogens. That is simply not true, according to public health officials.

Don’t risk poisoning the fun with food borne illnesses. Let your holiday times and treats be treasured fondly.

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Chipotle customers sick in L.A.; investigation underway

Wed, 12/20/2017 - 13:57

Chipotle Mexican Grill’s stock is dropping like a rock today after reports of several cases of norovirus infections among customers of one of the chain’s Los Angeles locations.

The Los Angeles Health Department has confirmed it knows about the reports. The department activated its Acute Communicable Disease Control unit to investigate the situation.

It’s too early in the investigation for the health department to speculate on the scope of the possible outbreak. At least five people in two separate dining parties reported classic symptoms of norovirus infection after eating at the restaurant on or around Dec. 13, according to the website iwaspoisoned.com.

The website, founded by Patrick Quade, has accurately identified several foodborne illness outbreaks associated with restaurants, including an outbreak in July linked to a Chipotle restaurant in Sterling, VA.

Chipotle’s spokesman Chris Arnold said the Denver-based burrito chain is aware of three reports about the Los Angeles restaurant at 4550 W. Pico Blvd. He said none of the implicated customers have contacted the company. Even though there is “no clinical validation” for the reported illnesses, Chipotle launched “heightened” sanitization efforts at the restaurant.

Bloomberg news is reporting the beleaguered company’s stock is tumbling today, with shares down at least 3.4 percent as of midday.

“The latest report sent the shares down as much as 3.4 percent to $302.60, marking the biggest intraday drop since Nov. 13. Even before the decline, the stock had fallen 17 percent this year,” Bloomberg reported.

A series of outbreaks among hundreds of Chipotle customers across the country in the last six months of 2015 started the company’s fall from more than $750 per share in July that year to less than half that by January 2016. those outbreaks included bacterial pathogens as well as norovirus.

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Frozen raspberry problems continued in 2017 for Canada, U.S.

Wed, 12/20/2017 - 00:19

Individually Quick Frozen raspberries imported from China were the source of 615 confirmed cases of Norovirus in Quebec between March and July of this year, and of 15 cases in Minnesota in August of 2016.

Photo illustration

The Quebec outbreak encompassed clients and staff of seven seniors’ residences, two daycare centers and one hotel conference in four separate administrative regions of the province, according to a spokesperson for Quebec’s Ministry of Health and Social Services.

Confirmed cases were documented in Mauricie at six seniors’ residences, Laurentides at a hotel conference, Chaudieres-Appalaches at a daycare center, and Capitale-Nationale at a daycare center and a seniors’ residence.

Of the 615 outbreak victims, 141 were employees of at least two different seniors’ residences, and four were employees at one of the affected daycare centers. Citing privacy concerns, the health ministry declined to provide any further breakdown of the data by gender, age or geographic location. However, extrapolation of the venue data provided by the provincial health agency suggests that approximately 250 of the outbreak victims were seniors, and 33 were children.

In Minnesota
The Minnesota outbreak was linked to ice cream manufactured by Sebastian Joe’s, a Minneapolis-based company, according to a spokesperson from the Minnesota Department of Health. The ice cream was supplied to multiple venues within the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

Raspberry chocolate chip flavor ice cream consumed at two Sebastian Joe’s venues, one private gathering, and one Twin Cities area restaurant was identified as the source. Of the 15 confirmed cases, 10 were female. One person was hospitalized.

The ice cream contained frozen raspberries imported from China. Analyses conducted by the Food and Drug Administration confirmed the presence of norovirus matching the case specimens in samples of the raspberries.

Product recalls
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a total of 14 recall notices related to the implicated raspberries — the first on June 20 and the last on Aug. 21. Eleven of the notices were disseminated only to the food industry, with no public warning released.

Only the recall notices dated Aug. 11, 16 and 21 were released to the public. They alluded to the existence of “… reported illnesses associated with the consumption…” of the recalled products.

From June 23 to Aug. 14 Quebec’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food issued a series of six public alerts and product recalls, which included numerous bakery products manufactured with the individually quick frozen (IQF) raspberries. Each of those alerts warned of “many” illnesses associated with the consumption of products containing IQF raspberries.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration carried out analytical sampling and laboratory analysis when advised of the Minnesota outbreak, according to a spokesperson from FDA. As a result of the FDA investigation, the agency added IQF raspberries from Taian Runko Industry International Trade Co. Ltd. to the Import Alert 99-35 requiring “Detention Without Physical Examination.” The “Red List” status was effective May 2, and has not been changed.

Sebastian Joe’s initiated a product withdrawal as a result of the 2016 Minnesota outbreak.

Public health alerts
The Public Health Agency of Canada never issued a public health alert in conjunction with the norovirus outbreak linked to the IQF raspberries. A spokesperson for health agency said the agency’s silence was due to the outbreak having been confined to a single province.

The provincial health department responsible for investigating the 5-month outbreak, did not issue any news releases or public health alerts either. According to a provincial spokesperson, food recalls are the responsibility of the ministry of agriculture and the federal food inspection agency. The spokesperson added that health ministry worked with those agencies on the investigation.

The first public notice of the Quebec outbreak was contained in a public warning and recall notice issued by the agriculture ministry on June 23. The Canadian Food inspection Agency (CFIA) did not post a similar warning with its recall notices until Aug. 11.

The Minnesota Department of Health website did not post any alerts regarding the norovirus-related ice cream recall in that state.

Timeline
August 4-14, 2016: Norovirus illnesses associated with consumption of raspberry chocolate chip ice cream at four Minneapolis-St. Paul area venues.

March-May 2017: Three separate outbreak clusters involving six seniors’ residences, all of which were serviced by a single central kitchen.

May 2, 2017: Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) red raspberries from Taian Runko Industry International Trade Co. Ltd. (Taian, Shandong CHINA) is added to the FDA’s “Red List” one the Import Alert 99-35, citing norovirus GII contamination.

May 31, 2017: CFIA is notified by Quebec authorities that norovirus outbreak clusters are linked to raspberries, and it initiates a food safety investigation.

June 2017: Two additional outbreak clusters occur, one at a daycare center and the other at a hotel.

June 20, 2017: CFIA issues first product recall notice for IQF raspberries imported from China.

June 23, 2017: Quebec’s health ministry issues first Consumer Alert and recall notice for IQF raspberries and some products containing the raspberries, reporting for the first time the existence of “many” illnesses associated with consumption of IQF raspberries.

July 2017: Two additional outbreak clusters are reported, one at a daycare center and the other at a seniors’ residence.

Canadian, U.S. outbreaks unrelated
The Minnesota and Quebec outbreaks occurred more than six months apart and appear to have been independent of each other. Taian Runko, the company identified by FDA during its analytical sampling, was not involved in the Quebec outbreak, according to CFIA.

Consumer information
Norovirus is the leading cause of outbreaks from contaminated food in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accounting for approximately 50 percent of all food-related illnesses.

Symptoms of norovirus infection include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain. The symptoms usually develop within 12-24 hours after exposure to the virus and last one to three days.

Most cases of norovirus are self-limiting, and do not present a long-term health risk. Nevertheless, seniors and children are at heightened risk of severe dehydration if infected with the virus.

Most cases of norovirus illness in the population at large are shrugged off as “stomach flu.” Victims are usually not seen by doctors, and the infections go unreported.

A national survey carried out in the United Kingdom in 2011 determined that only 1 in every 23 people with norovirus consulted a physician. Only one case was reported to national surveillance for every 12.7 patients. Overall, for every 288 cases of norovirus occurring in the general population, only one was reported to national surveillance authorities.

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Briefly: Rattlesnake pills — Russian residues — Inedible edibles

Wed, 12/20/2017 - 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.

Marijuana edibles contaminated with mold
Alaskan officials revoked the facility manufacturing license of Frozen Budz and fined the company $500,000 for a variety of violations, including selling products that were contaminated with mold.

The company also failed to test its edibles for E. coli, Salmonella, mold and other contaminants, according to state officials. In addition to the fine and license revocation, Alaska’s Marijuana Control Board also seized all products made by Frozen Budz from a manufacturing facility and retail stores.

“The licensee disregarded marijuana industry regulations and put the public at significant risk by selling products that were not safe, tested, or tracked,” according to Peter Mlynarik, chair of the Marijuana Control Board.

Other Frozen Budz violations reported by the state included: Making edibles without tracking the source of the marijuana; Manufacturing products that were not approved by the Marijuana Control Board; Operating out of compliance with their board-approved operating plan; Allowing onsite consumption and delivering marijuana products directly to consumers; and Improperly labeling marijuana products transferred to retail stores.

TASS

Drug residues found in PepsiCo cheese
The Russian news agency TASS reports that inspectors found antibiotic residues in raw milk used for cheese production at PepsiCo’s Altia-based Rubtsovsky Dairy Plant. The Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance suggested the contaminated milk was used deliberately.

In November, regulators identified tetracycline group antibiotics in the plant’s Lamber cheese, prompting an unscheduled field inspection of the plant by federal inspectors.

“The analysis of the log of antibiotics presence in milk showed that the test system in use recorded over 20 cases of antibiotics presence in tested lots of raw milk,” TASS reported.

Although the plant was not able to confirm “return of raw materials” that contained antibiotics, “the possibility of flowing of these raw materials into processing cannot be excluded” government inspectors reported, according to TASS.

Rattlesnake pills linked to Salmonella infection
At least one person in Kansas contracted salmonellosis recently after taking pills made from dehydrated rattlesnake meat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In a statement posted Tuesday, the CDC cautioned consumers against using such products, noting that reptile meat is often contaminated with Salmonella and other bacteria. The pathogens can survive the dehydration and processing used during production of such supplements.

“Rattlesnake pills are often marketed as remedies for various conditions, such as cancer and HIV infection,” according to the CDC. “These pills contain dehydrated rattlesnake meat ground into a powder and put into pill form.”

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicated that the person in Kansas became sick after taking rattlesnake pills purchased in Mexico. Whole genome sequencing showed that the Salmonella that made the person sick matched the Salmonella found in rattlesnake pills from Mexico collected in an earlier, unrelated investigation.

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Woman draws jail sentence for contaminating chicken in 2016

Wed, 12/20/2017 - 00:00

Faye Slye
Stearns County Jail photo

Faye Slye, a 37-year old Cold Spring, MN, woman, was sentenced to 90 days in the Stearns County Jail after being convicted of two felony counts of causing damage to property in the first degree.

She also has to pay $200,000 in restitution to GNP Company, which in June 2016 had to recall almost 28 tons of chicken products because of contamination with extraneous materials.

Pilgrim’s Pride bought GNP Co. in late 2016. Pilgrim’s is owned by Brazil-based JBS S.A.

At the time of the recall, GNP said some of the “Gold’n Plump” and “Just BARE” branded products, produced between June 6 and 9, 2016, were found with sand and black soil contamination. It immediately called in the Cold Spring-Richmond Police Department, which was assisted by the FBI in investigating the incident.

Slye confessed after the investigation turned up both surveillance footage and forensic evidence implicating her. GNP’s surveillance footage for both June 7 and 8 pointed to her suspicious behavior.

Slye said she collected sand and dirt from the parking lot in a plastic bag before using it to contaminate the chicken. Her sleeves also contained the substance.

The former poultry worker can serve the 90-day jail term in 30-day increments during the next three years. She will be on probation for five years.

The chicken products contaminated by Slye were shipped nationwide for both foodservice operations and retail distribution. The company initiated the recall after the second time in 2016 that ash or dirt turned up in tubs of chicken meat.

The Minnesota court did not prohibit Slye’s future employment in the food industry.

The incident at GNP Company occurred about one month after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a final rule on food defense to protect food from acts of intentional adulteration like Slye initiated.

The final rule on Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food Against Intentional Adulteration with requirements for covered facilities to prepare and implement food defense plans is intended to help avoid such threats in the future.

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Listeria finding prompts recall of apples from Michigan grower

Tue, 12/19/2017 - 15:13

A Michigan grower is urging consumers to check apples in their homes and immediately discard them if their packaging has specific codes that identify apples recalled today because of possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Jack Brown Produce Inc. is recalling certain lots of Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp and golden delicious apples, packaged under the brand name “Apple Ridge” according to the recall notice on the Food and Drug Administration’s website.

The company has stopped distribution of the apples, which it sent to retailers in Michigan, Georgia, Missouri, Indiana and Ohio. The apples shipped from Dec. 11 through Dec. 16.

“Jack Brown Produce Inc. said it has stopped distribution of any further products processed at Nyblad Orchards of Kent City as the FDA and the company continue their investigation as to what caused the problem,” according to the recall notice.

“The recall was the result of a routine sampling program which revealed that finished products contained listeria monocytogenes. The tests were conducted at a Nyblad Orchards Inc. processing facility.”

The notice did not specifically say if the recall includes freshcut apples in addition to whole apples. However, photos posted with the recall notice show a package of what appears to be fresh, sliced apples.

Recalled apples, as listed in the notice, are:

  • Honeycrisp apples in two-pound clear plastic bags;
  • Gala apples in 3-pound clear plastic bags,
  • Fuji and Golden Delicious apples in 3-pound clear plastic bags;
  • Fuji and Gala apples in 5-pound red-netted mesh bags; and
  • Gala, Fuji and Honeycrisp apples that were tray-packed and individually sold.

Consumers can identify the recalled apples by looking for lot numbers on the bag labels and/or bag-closure clips:

  • Honeycrisp — NOI 159, 160, 173
  • Gala — NOI 164, 166 on either the product labels and/or bag-closure clip.
  • Fuji — NOI 163, 165, 167, 169, 174
  • Golden Delicious — NOI 168

“Consumers who have purchased Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp and Golden Delicious Apples under the brand name “Apple Ridge” on or after Dec. 11, 2017 are urged to destroy the product and contact Jack Brown Produce Inc. for a full refund,” according to the recall notice.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 616-887-9568 or toll-free at 1-800-348-0834, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST and ask for Lisa Ingalls.

Additional information for consumers
Listeria monocytogenes is a microscopic organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled apples and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical attention and inform their doctors of the possible exposure to the pathogen.

It can take up to 70 days after exposure for symptoms to develop. Consequently, anyone who has eaten any of the recalled apples should monitor themselves for symptoms in the coming weeks.

Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infections can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. In severe cases, the infection leads to death.

A listeriosis outbreak in 2014-15 that was traced to whole apples from a California grower infected 35 people from 12 states, putting 34 of them in the hospital. Listeria monocytogenes bacteria contributed to at least three of the seven deaths that were linked to the outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Keep the links in supply chain connected to boost food safety

Tue, 12/19/2017 - 00:22

The food manufacturing industry has always been concerned with the quality and safety of the food they produce. At the very lowest level, it is an unwritten ethical requirement. But the topic of food safety and quality has never been in the news like it is now.

There are many reasons for this increased awareness of food safety. Among them are government regulations, consumer demands, social media, education and the complex food supply chain.

Government regulations and consumer demands are listed as numbers one and two respectively. Frankly, these can be flipped. Governments have always dictated food policy, but over the last five to 10 years the consumer has not only been driving the government’s efforts but the manufacturers. Let’s face it. The entity that controls the purse strings usually has the last word.

Consumers are increasingly taking an interest in quality, health benefits and a more serious interest in the foods and beverages they consume. With today’s expanded media coverage, social media and multiple avenues of information, the consumer now has an input on food safety. Last but not least is the supply chain. Today’s supply chain is more complex and the value chain has expanded. The consumer food buying process has changed. There are more stopping and touch points in food transport and movement. This is where many of the compromises occur.

Touch points and stopping points
Food manufacturing and distribution used to be quite simple. There were many less products, many less ingredients and many less places for a consumer to acquire these products. Today’s value chain includes traditional grocery stores, club stores, convenient stores, internet buying and home delivery of both domestic and international product. These elements have added more touch points to the process.

To keep food safe through this complicated process, all activities and who performs them through the supply chain need to be understood and the processes need to be perfected.

We need to understand all the components of the food supply chain from field to fork. To effectively manage the process to ensure food safety we need to analyze each component of the chain. Major elements of the food manufacturing supply chain to consider are:

  1. Raw Material/Ingredient Procurement Process.
  2. Food Manufacturing Process.
  3. Finished Goods Distribution Process.
  4. Finished Product Sales Point.

These are the major areas of the supply chain that can impact food safety.  If you notice, they are the same areas that are addressed in overall supply chain management (SCM), or Supply Chain Planning (SCP), or Integrated Business Planning (IBP) or Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP). You get the picture. So why not utilize these processes at the same time to execute FSSCP (Food Safety Supply Chain Management)?

In managing the supply chain, these areas are managed by distinct functions then integrated through a collaborative management and communication process using one of the names above. Adding a few tasks to the process can ensure food safety is addressed while managing the supply chain.

The Procurement Process
There are a variety of materials that are needed to produce finished food products. They include ingredients, raw materials and packaging supplies. The goal is to get the right quantities at the right time at the best costs to get customer the products they want when they want them while garnering the best margin for the manufacturer.

Any material, ingredient or item used in the production process can introduce contaminants.

Technology is available today and continuing to develop to trace all ingredients and materials back to the original source. Companies inspect produce, proteins, and flavorings, chemicals and spices as they enter the facility.

What about packaging materials? To what level are they tested? To what level of packaging manufacturing is traceable? Can the ink be verified as food safe? It is paramount that every component of every package of finished food can be traced to original batch and original grower and supplier.

Many times contamination of ingredients and supplies occur during transport from the source to the manufacturer. Exposed bins, trucks, crates and other vessels can make items prone to contamination. The cleaning process at the manufacturing facility might not be able to solve the problem if contamination has occurred. All information about the transport the vessel, route and who handled the products need to be tracked, traced and documented.

The Food Manufacturing Process
Effective management of plant operations is critical to a food manufacturer’s profitability and ensuring food safety. Contaminations can occur through a number of issues in the production process, including operator procedures, equipment issues, environment and temperature control

Tracking material movements through the manufacturing process is essential. Many products have temperature requirements that cannot be violated. Monitoring the movement through the process is a daunting task.

There are a wide number of opportunities for a safety breach. Worker contamination, bacteria and allergens on equipment, improper environmental and facility conditions can lead to contaminations.  In addition, frequent schedule changes, production delays, machine breakdowns, unnecessary material movement can all lead to more stopping points where food safety can be compromised.

The Finished Goods Distribution Process
Food distribution has never been more complicated.  Gone are the days of a simplified network that consists of plant to dc to store. Manufacturers warehouses, 3PL’s, company owned trucking, 3PL trucking, distributors, Customer DC’s, customer satellite warehouses and other selling locations all spell trouble for food safety.

Sell by, use by, best by, best before dates and other terms to indicate food freshness complicate the process. Today, individual retailers have their own shelf life dates and rules. These factors contribute to potential breaches to food safety in the supply chain.  If there is an issue it typically falls back to the manufacturer to provide all the critical information about the products lifeline.

Finished Product Sales Point
One might assume that once a finished food product arrives at the point of sale the manufacturer’s responsibility ends and the safety guarantee now rests with the seller. This is a touchy subject and many factors play a role in the question of who is now responsible for food integrity. The manufacturer still holds accountability as the producer but the retailer and any third-party group involved in product movement share responsibility.

Keeping the links intact
The objective of the food manufacturing supply chain is to deliver safe products to the right place at the right time in the right quantities to maximize customer service and maintain margin growth. The major areas of the supply chain that impact food safety and supply chain effectiveness go hand in hand. If products are not delivered on time profits fall. If products jeopardize consumer safety, nothing else will matter as the business will be at greater risk.

To succeed, Food Safety Supply Chain Management must occur.  This combines the management of supply chain and the awareness of food safety into the same process.  The complicated functions of the major roles of purchasing, manufacturing and distribution are collaborative process that focuses on profitable on time delivery as well as food safety at every step. This ensures that the transition from one step to another is seamless and the links do not break causing food safety and supply chain risk.

Supply chain transparency is a necessity as consumers and regulators increase the pressure for safe products and for up to the minute information on a products life cycle from field to fork. Supply chain visibility and traceability allows companies to know where each ingredient and component originated and where each finished product is heading. Start to finish visibility is critical to profitable and safe supply chains and vital to if food safety is jeopardized and recalls are required.

The supply chain today has many players from supplier, farmer, manufacturer, transporter, distributor and seller. These players and their functions must be strategically managed both separately and collectively to minimize risks and provide a continuous unbroken supply chain.

In today’s technology rich marketplace, tools exist to improve this process and more are coming. The visibility and the data provided by IoT solutions allow organizations to significantly reduce supply chain risk by having the correct procedures in place to minimize breaches in food integrity. Lack of end to end supply chain visibility can lead to food safety failures that can result in damaging companies brand reputation, bottom line and ethical responsibility to the public.

Food safety challenges will continue to pressure food manufacturers as supply chain complexity grows and consumer preferences evolve. Manufacturers need to understand that with new and innovative processes and solutions such as Blockchain, the Internet of Things, Machine Learning and others synchronizing the supply chain while maintaining food safety is an achievable goal.

About the author: Stephen Dombroski is the senior marketing manager of food and beverage markets at QAD Inc. in Santa Barbara, CA. QAD is a provider of of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. The company provides services to global manufacturing companies. Dombroski has worked in the food safety and manufacturing industry for three decades.

Dairy recalls eggnog for Salmonella; sell-by dates increase risks

Tue, 12/19/2017 - 00:01

Arruda’s Dairy Farms of Tiverton, RI, is recalling eggnog that has sell-by dates well into 2018 because a sample was found to be contaminated with Salmonella.

The recall was announced Monday after routine testing, according to WPRI-TV Channel 12. The owners of Arruda’s Dairy Farms have suspended production of the eggnog while they and the Rhode Island Department of Health continue to investigate the source of the Salmonella.

No illnesses have been reported in connection with the recalled products, however, public health officials are concerned that consumers may have unused portions of the eggnog in their homes. The recall includes Arruda’s brand eggnog in pints, quarts and half-gallons.

Sell-by dates of “2-3-18” and “2-10-18” are stamped on the recalled eggnog. Arruda’s distributed the eggnog to retail stores and home-delivery customers throughout eastern Rhode Island and the Fall River area.

Customers who purchased the recalled eggnog can return it to the place of purchase for a refund.

Anyone who has consumed any of the eggnog and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to the pathogen.

Symptoms 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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State says ceasing Brucella vaccinations could reduce illnesses

Tue, 12/19/2017 - 00:00

Somewhat mixed messages are coming from health and agriculture officials in Pennsylvania in relation to antibiotic-resistant Brucella infections traced to unpasteurized, raw milk.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture sent raw milk producers an alert about “several cases of brucellosis in humans” and suggested they stop vaccinating their cattle for Brucella.

The letter, provided to Food Safety News on Monday by state officials, specifically references a Nov. 21 notice from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that warned the public about Brucella infections traced to raw milk.

CDC’s epidemiologists and state health officials, including those in Pennsylvania, say the only way to avoid exposure via milk is to drink pasteurized milk. The CDC has reported people in at least seven states have become ill in recent months with brucellosis symptoms after drinking raw milk. At least one person in Texas and another in New Jersey have been confirmed with infections linked to raw milk.

Pennsylvania agriculture officials stopped short of contradicting the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health in their Nov. 30 letter, but implied ceasing cattle vaccinations is another means to avoid exposing people to the bacteria.

“I these unusual cases, the Brucella isolated is identical to the strain of bacteria used in the RB 51 vaccine,” the Pennsylvania agriculture department officials wrote, referring to the human cases reported by the CDC.

“… PDA (Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture) recommends that producers who sell milk stop immunizing their cattle for Brucella. This is especially important if the herd contains Jersey cattle.”

The letter also urged raw milk producers to consult with their veterinarians about whether they should vaccinate their cattle. Brucella bacteria causes infections and miscarriages in cattle, thus increasing production costs for dairy owners.

Less than a week after the agriculture department letter, Pennsylvania health officials doubled down on their warning about the brucellosis cases traced to raw milk. The Dec. 4 warning repeated the CDC’s advice, urging anyone who drank milk from a New Jersey supplier doing business as Udder Milk to see a doctor for treatment to avoid infection and possible life-long medical problems.

“For the second time in three months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning people who might have consumed contaminated raw milk and milk products to visit their doctor. People who bought and drank raw milk from a company called Udder Milk may have been infected with a rare but potentially serious germ called Brucella abortus RB51,” according to the Pennsylvania health department health advisory.

“While Brucella can cause anyone to become sick, women may suffer miscarriage and other pregnancy complications making it critical for pregnant women who may have consumed the raw milk from Udder Milk to seek medical care immediately.

“Although distribution of Udder Milk products has not been confirmed in Pennsylvania, it is possible that Pennsylvanians may have been exposed to these products.”

Raw milk advocates weigh in
Dave Gumpert, raw milk advocate, had high praise for the Pennsylvania agriculture officials’ letter.

“It’s refreshing to see Pennsylvania regulators provide realistic advice to farmers about reducing the Brucella risk associated with raw milk production, rather than resorting to the hysteria and ideology that has colored the CDC’s approach to the problem,” Gumpert said Monday.

“For farmers, it’s much more realistic to get actionable advice, as opposed to being told that the only solution to the particular risk they are dealing with is to go out of business.”

Readers of Gumpert’s blog jumped in with similar comments shortly after he posted information about the Pennsylvania letter. Many of the comments focused on opposition to vaccinations in general.

Brucellosis Eradication Program
Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recognized the dangers of Brucella infection and its costs to farmers more than 50 years ago. The department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and state agencies have been using testing and vaccination in the “Brucellosis Eradication Program” since Congress first funded it in 1954.

“At the beginning of the program, brucellosis was widespread throughout U.S. livestock, but eradication efforts have had dramatic results,” according to USDA.

“In 1956, there were 124,000 affected herds found by testing in the United States. By 1992, this number had dropped to 700 herds and the number of affected, domestic herds has declined to single digits since then.”

Similar to the CDC and state health departments, USDA documents cite a link between human infections of brucellosis and the consumption of raw milk. Most cases of brucellosis in the United States are confirmed in people who have traveled to other countries where they consumed unpasteurized milk or other raw dairy products, such as soft cheese.

“Fortunately, the combination of pasteurization of milk and progress in the eradication of the disease in livestock has resulted in substantially fewer human cases (in the U.S.) than in the past,” according to the USDA.

“Precautions against drinking raw milk or eating unpasteurized milk byproducts are also important. Ultimately, the best prevention is to eliminate brucellosis from all animals in the area.”

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Briefly: Ultraviolet decon — ‘Rotten’ on Netflix — Puppy update

Mon, 12/18/2017 - 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.

Ultraviolet pulses prove promising
Fort Valley State University in Georgia is researching uses of a $35,000 pulsed ultraviolet light system that can decontaminate foods and extend shelf life without heat or chemical preservatives. The work is partly funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Used to kill microorganisms on food surfaces, the system “has less impact in changing the color of the food and texture (than heat or chemicals), and it doesn’t increase the temperature of the food because of the short duration of exposure to the light pulses,” according to Ajit Mahapatra, FVSU associate professor of food and bioprocess engineering.

The pulsed UV-light is more efficient than the continuous UV-C light, because it offers better penetration potential through food products, according to a news release from the university. Pulsed UV-light can kill up to 99.9 percent of pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms, molds, parasites and insects. It can also be used for killing bacteria on surfaces of food packaging materials. Continuous UV-C light does not offer the same qualities.

Netflix series includes raw milk episode
Giving food the true crime treatment, “Rotten” dives into the underworld of food production, examining corruption, waste and dangers that hide in our everyday food habits.

The Netflix series is scheduled to debut Jan. 5, 2018. The team that created “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown” is producing the new series. “This series starts on your dinner plate… and follows the money to the shocking consequences — intended or not — of regulation, innovation and greed,” according to promotional materials for the program.

Among the planned episodes is “Milk Money,” which is billed as a look at financially struggling dairy farmers who are switching to organic and/or unpasteurized, raw milk. Consumers pay about $16 per gallon for raw milk in states where it is legal to sell unpasteurized milk.

Federal law prohibits the sale of raw milk across state lines. Most states prohibit sales also. Public health officials from local, state and federal levels routinely warn consumers about the dangers of pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria, which are killed when milk is pasteurized.

More sickened by Petland puppies
With the victim count having reached 97, an outbreak of Campylobacter infections linked to puppies from Petland stores continues to grow.

Campylobacter can spread through contact with dog feces, which can be present in microscopic amounts on dogs’ fur. It usually does not spread from one person to another, but it can be transferred from people’s hands to foods they are preparing or eating. Thorough hand washing after handling dogs can greatly reduce the chance of infection.

An outbreak update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 22 of the victims have required hospitalization. The 17 states involved and the number of confirmed cases in each are, Connecticut 2, Florida 14, Georgia 2, Illinois 10, Kansas 7, Massachusetts 2, Maryland 3, Missouri 2, New Hampshire 2, New York 2, Ohio 32, Oklahoma 1, Pennsylvania 5, Tennessee 2, Utah 2, Wisconsin 8 and Wyoming 1.

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Food safety compromises can carry costly consequences

Mon, 12/18/2017 - 00:00

Editor’s note: This is the fourth of a four-part series on technology and food safety sponsored by PAR Technologies.

Fourth-eight million — 48,000,000 — that’s how many people the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates become sick from foodborne illness each year in the United States. Another 128,000 people end up hospitalized and about 3,000 people die.

Exact figures are hard to pinpoint because so many foodborne illness incidents are not reported. The CDC estimates 31 foodborne pathogens are responsible for 9.4 million of the illnesses every year.

Such staggering statistics show the detrimental consequences food safety lapses can have on human health and society. Compromised food safety can also trigger a costly chain reaction of recalls, lawsuits and loss of business due to damaged consumer trust.

The not so hidden cost of recalls
In a 2011 report sponsored by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, researchers set out to determine the monetary costs of recalls in the food industry by surveying 36 companies.

“For companies that have faced a recall in the past five years, 77 percent of respondents estimated the financial impact to be up to $30 million dollars; 23 percent reported even higher costs,” according to the GMA report.

“Over 81 percent of survey respondents described the financial consequences of a recall as either ‘significant’ or “catastrophic.’ ”

According to those surveyed, the four biggest financial exposures were lost profits from business interruption, recall execution costs, liability risks and reputation damage.

Recalls are increasing – due to operational error
In its annual recall wrap up for 2016, Food Safety News found 764 food recalls – an increase of 22 percent from the previous year. Almost 40 percent of recalls, 305, were triggered by undeclared allergens in products. Milk, eggs, peanuts and wheat were the top undeclared allergens – all four showing increases in incident numbers from the previous year.

In research by Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, 10 years’ worth of recalls in the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland were analyzed, finding most recalls were due to operational error.

“Most recalls, 56 percent, resulted from operational mistakes, such as incorrect labelling, the presence of an undeclared ingredient, or contamination during the production process,” reported Antony Potter at Queen’s Centre for Assured and Traceable Foods.

“While biological causes, such as the detection of Listeria, Salmonella and E. coli were also a factor, a significant number of food safety alerts were actually due to food fraud and corruption by suppliers further down the supply chain. This highlights the need for food producers to invest in ensuring the traceability of their products back through the supply chain.”

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Report warns Salmonella infections back on the rise across EU

Mon, 12/18/2017 - 00:00

The declining trend of salmonellosis cases in European Union countries has leveled off according to the recently published annual report on zoonotic diseases.

The EU is the political and economic union of 28 member states with a population of more than 510 million that are located primarily in Europe.

Cases of Salmonella Enteritidis acquired in the EU have increased in humans by 3 percent since 2014, according to the report by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

In laying hens, the prevalence increased from 0.7 percent to 1.21 percent over the same period.

“The increase shown by our surveillance data is worrying and a reminder that we have to stay vigilant,” said Mike Catchpole, ECDC’s chief scientist.

“Even in a state of high awareness and with national control programs for S. Enteritidis in place, there is a need for continuing risk management actions at the Member State and EU level.”

Marta Hugas, EFSA’s chief scientist, said: “The decrease of Salmonella has been a success story in the EU food safety system in the last ten years. Recent S. Enteritidis outbreaks contributed to a change in this trend in humans and poultry. Further investigations by competent authorities in the field of public health and food safety will be crucial to understanding the reasons behind the increase.”

There were 94,530 human cases of salmonellosis reported in the EU in 2016. S. Enteritidis – the most widespread type of Salmonella, accounted for 59 percent of all salmonellosis cases originating in the EU, most from the consumption of eggs, egg products, and poultry meat.

Campylobacter and Listeria
Campylobacter, the most reported foodborne pathogen in humans, was detected in 246,307 people in the EU in 2016, an increase of 6.1 percent compared with 2015. Despite the high number of cases, fatalities were low. 0.03 percent. Levels of Campylobacter are high in chicken meat.

Listeria infections, which are more severe, led to hospitalization in 97 percent of reported cases. In 2016, listeriosis continued to rise, with 2,536 cases (a 9.3 percent increase) and 247 deaths. Most deaths occur in people aged over 64 (fatality rate of 18.9 percent). People over 84 are particularly at risk (fatality rate of 26.1 percent). Listeria seldom exceeded legal safety limits in ready-to-eat foods.

Salmonella foodborne outbreaks increasing
The 4,786 foodborne disease outbreaks reported in 2016 represent a slight increase in comparison with 2015 when there were 4,362 outbreaks recorded, but the figure is similar to the average number of outbreaks in the EU from 2010 to 2016.

Outbreaks due to Salmonella are on the rise, with S. Enteritidis causing one in six foodborne disease outbreaks in 2016.

Salmonella bacteria were the most common cause of foodborne outbreaks at 22.3 percent, which was an increase of 11.5 percent compared to 2015. They caused the highest burden regarding numbers of hospitalizations impacting 1,766 people for 45.6 percent of all hospitalized cases. Salmonella outbreaks also resulted in more deaths than other outbreaks, with 10 people killed, representing 50 percent of all deaths among outbreak cases.

Salmonella in eggs caused the highest number of outbreak cases at 1,882.

EU summary report on zoonoses, zoonotic agents and food-borne outbreaks 2016
The data for the EFSA-ECDC report is from all 28 EU Member States for 2016.

Nine other European countries reported on some of the zoonotic agents: Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Salmonella Enteritidis is the Salmonella serotype responsible for most salmonellosis cases and Salmonella food-borne outbreaks.

Incidents of Salmonella Enteritidis declined after 2007 in the EU after stepped up surveillance, and implementation of control measures for poultry.

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Speck prosciutto and salami recalled for Salmonella contamination

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 16:53

Piller’s Fine Foods in Waterloo is recalling approximately 1,076 pounds of ready-to-eat salami and speck products that may be adulterated with Salmonella, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The ready-to-eat speck prosciutto and salami items were produced on Sept. 22 and Oct. 12, 2017, respectively. The recalled products include:

  • Vacuum-sealed random weight plastic packages containing “Black Kassel Piller’s Dry Aged D’Amour Salami” with Best Before date of May 12, 2018
  • Vacuum-sealed random weight plastic packages containing “Black Kassel Piller’s Dry Aged Speck Smoked Prosciutto” with Best Before date of May 12, 2018.

These items were produced in Canada and were shipped to distribution centers in California, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and New York.

The contamination was discovered when an FSIS sample of the ready-to-eat salami product was confirmed positive for Salmonella. There has not yet been any confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days.

Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider.

FSIS and the company are concerned that some product may be frozen and held in consumers’ freezers.

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

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website.

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