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Kratom linked to Salmonella outbreak; CDC posts warning

Food Safety News - Tue, 02/20/2018 - 18:38

A coast-to-coast outbreak of Salmonella infections have been linked to kratom products, spurring a warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The federal agency had received confirmation of 28 people across 20 states with infections from Salmonella I 4,[5],12:b:- as of Feb. 16, according to the outbreak notice posted today. Eleven of the sick people had such severe symptoms that they had to be admitted to hospitals.

This illustration shows actual kratom capsules with a faux prescription bottle. Photo illustration

The most recent victim became sick on Jan. 30. However, the lag time between symptom onset and confirmed reports reaching the CDC is usually about three to four weeks. People who became ill after Jan. 23 probably have not yet been confirmed for the CDC.

Confirmed victims range in age from 6 to 67 years old.

“Kratom is a plant native to southeast Asia that is consumed for its stimulant effects and as an opioid substitute,” according to the CDC notice.

“It is typically brewed in a tea, chewed, smoked, or ingested in capsules. Kratom may also be known as Thang, Kakuam, Thom, Ketom, and Biak.”

State and federal officials are investigating the outbreak but have not yet identified specific kratom brands or suppliers. Victims report consuming the plant substance in pills, powder and tea forms.

Of the victims interviewed as of today, 73 percent reported consuming kratom

products in the days before becoming sick, the CDC reported.

“Based on current information from this investigation, CDC recommends people not consume kratom in any form because the specific source of Salmonella contamination has not been identified,” according to today’s outbreak alert.

“People should talk to their health care provider before taking any supplement, especially if they are in a group more likely to get a severe Salmonella infection. These groups include people with weakened immune systems, including people who are receiving chemotherapy or have HIV, pregnant women, children younger than 5 years, and older adults.”

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USDA’s acting officials use face time to promote agency agenda

Food Safety News - Tue, 02/20/2018 - 00:01

Meeting with people outside the federal government usually means hearing about somebody’s else’s agenda, but USDA’s top food safety officials apparently think it can be a two-way street.

During this past December and January, Carmen Rottenberg and Paul Kiecker have used their meetings with outside parties to promote USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) agenda with influential people.

Rottenberg and Kiecker, who respectively are the acting deputy Under Secretary and acting FSIS administrator, are not operating with the hesitancy that often marks those in temporary leadership jobs. The public calendar published by FSIS shows Rottenberg and Kiecker are scheduling their face time to advance the agency’s agenda.

The proposed rule for Swine Slaughter Modernization and a controversial National Chicken Council petition about line speeds both caused the agency leaders to direct some traffic their way. From mid-to-late January, Rottenberg brought in a literal “Who’s Who” in agricultural media to talk about the swine rule. Included in her meetings were:

  • David Pitts, Associated Press
  • Gary Crawford, USDA Radio
  • Ingrid Mezo, Chemical News
  • Jacob Bunge, The Wall Street Journal
  • Mike Davis, Southern Farm Network
  • Amy Mayer, Iowa Public Radio
  • John Hult, Sioux Falls Argus Leader
  • Stephanie Ho, USDA Radio
  • Joe Fisher, Northwest Iowa Review
  • Eleanor Goldberg, Huffington Post
  • Chabella Guzman, KNEB
  • Keith Loria, Food Quality, and Safety Magazine
  • Patrick McGroarty, The Wall Street Journal

As the ag media meetings continued, the agency proposed a rule to amend the federal meat inspection regulations to establish a new voluntary inspection system for market hog slaughter establishments called the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS), while also requiring additional pathogen sampling for all swine slaughter establishments.

“FSIS is excited to continue modernizing inspection practices while allowing opportunities for industry to innovate and streamline food production,” Rottenberg said when the announcement was made.

“There is no single technology or process to address the problem of foodborne illness, but when we focus our inspections on food safety-related tasks, we better protect American families.”

The media meetings continued, with Kiecker attending some, when the chicken line speeds were on the agenda. Included in those meetings were:

  • Nicole Erwin, Ohio Valley ReSource
  • Alan Bjerga, Bloomberg
  • Ingrid Mezo, Food Chemical News
  • Rita Jane Gabbett, Meatingplace
  • Danielle Ivory, The New York Times
  • Christine Haughney, Politico

Following those meetings, FSIS in early February denied the National Chicken Council petition to remove the 140 birds per minute (BPM) speed limit for some chicken slaughter plants. FSIS did so it has found inspectors can conduct an adequate inspection of each carcass at line speeds of up to 175 bmp. The chicken council, however, failed to include proper data inspections could occur with higher line speeds, and FSIS said it did not expect to grant any waivers from existing policy.

Rottenberg and Kiecker did their regular separate sessions with consumer representatives in both December and January. The practice of releasing attendance lists for these meetings, however, has ended.

Rottenberg and Kiecker also met in December with outside parties on Codex, Salmonella Performance Standards, Catfish inspection and equivalency, and food safety education. Other meetings in January ran the gamut from Romania pork imports to the Netherlands’ eggs.

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Scientists urge regulators to revisit 60-day rule for raw gouda

Food Safety News - Tue, 02/20/2018 - 00:00

For the third time since 2005, researchers have parsed data from an E. coli O157: H7 outbreak traced to raw milk gouda cheese. For the third time, they have concluded the “60-day rule” isn’t long enough to ensure dangerous bacteria in unpasteurized gouda have died.

This time around the scientists did more than publish the information, though. They are telling the government that the 1950s-vintage 60-day rule needs to be revisited because it is obsolete when viewed under 21st Century microscopes.

The antiquated rule “assumed that any pathogens present would die off over time in an environment of low pH, low water activity, and high salt and the presence of competitive microflora in the cheese,” according to the most recent research report.

“However, these assumptions were made before E. coli O157: H7, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella were recognized as common foodborne pathogens and before evidence had accumulated regarding the ability of these pathogens to tolerate these conditions.

“Hard and semihard cheeses have long been considered a lower risk to public health than soft and semisoft cheeses, but further evaluation is warranted for Gouda cheese in particular, given recurrent outbreaks associated with this semihard variety.”

Two of the outbreaks referenced in the research published in the February edition of the Journal of Food Protection occurred in Canada, in 2002-03 and 2013. The first sickened at least 13 people. The 2013 outbreak sickened 29 people, killing one.

The third outbreak was in 2010, with 41 people across the Southwestern United States confirmed with E. coli O157: H7 infections.

All three outbreaks were traced to gouda cheese made with unpasteurized, raw milk.

Outbreak investigations revealed live E. coli O157: H7 present in unopened gouda samples that were well past the 60-day aging requirement, according to the most recent research by scientists from numerous federal and provincial public health agencies in Canada.

Raw milk gouda tested during the investigation of the 2013 outbreak showed live E. coli present 306 days after it was produced.

“This finding is consistent with those from other outbreaks and microbiological studies of artificially contaminated cheeses that have revealed that pathogenic bacteria, including E. coli O157: H7, can survive in various varieties of cheese through production and the subsequent aging and storage periods at levels sufficient to cause human illness,” the Canadian research team reports in this month’s edition of the Journal.

The scientists also looked at the manufacturing practices at the cheese production facilities and found they were operating within the applicable laws and regulations.

“… no major deviations in cheese production and subsequent handling were noted in the outbreak presented herein or in the E. coli O157: H7 infection outbreak attributed to raw milk Gouda cheese in Canada in 2002. The implicated cheeses were produced in accordance with regulated microbiological and aging requirements.”

Consequently, the scientists report, if E. coli is present in the raw milk used to make the cheese, it does not die during the minimum 60-day aging period. Instead, the potentially deadly pathogen can survive for five times that long in large enough numbers to cause infections in people who eat it.

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Publisher’s Platform: Tragically, “Forever Young”

Food Safety News - Mon, 02/19/2018 - 21:55

My friend, Darin Detwiler, let me post this for him tonight for tomorrow:

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the day the last of four young children died during the landmark 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak.

Riley Edward Detwiler

I learned about the reality of this foodborne pathogen on Riley’s deathbed. When he was only a few months old, I justified being out to sea on a Navy submarine by telling myself that I was making the world a safer place for him, and I thought that I would spend the rest of my life making up lost time with him when he was older.

Riley would now be older than I was during that outbreak.  I never got to see him grow older than he appears in the few photos and videos from so long ago. Over the years since his death, however, I have seen news of recalls and outbreaks and deaths on a far too regular basis. I have also seen much improvement in food safety.

We have gained new federal food safety regulations and policies at the USDA and, most recently at the FDA. We have witnessed advancements in science and data collection and even a whole new “culture of food safety.” We have training, certifications, university programs, conferences, magazines, books, and even movies that serve to inform and motivate new generations of food safety experts.

Many of the changes in food safety policies came about through the hard work of victims, families, advocacy groups and industry leaders. Statistics and charts alone achieve little without victim’s voices. Facts rarely motivate policymakers as much as seeing the faces and stories. I am very proud of their efforts. I am also proud to have stood with them and before them, trying to prevent other parents from looking at their family table with one chair forever empty due to preventable illnesses and deaths from foodborne pathogens.

One thing that hits me hard lately is how the faces and stories of victims from mass shootings are seemingly not enough to bring about change in terms of gun control. While no new policies will bring back the dead, they would bring hope and an increased safety for others. I am saddened by the thought that so many parents will live with the belief that their child’s death did not result in some element of change.

Perhaps the reasons matter not as to why parents worry about making the world a safer place for their children. Too many homes in this country include a chair forever empty at a family table due to reasons that could and should have been prevented.

Darin Detwiler Ph.D. is the assistant dean, the Lead Faculty of the MS in Regulatory Affairs of Food and Food Industry, and Professor of Food Policy at Northeastern University in Boston. In addition to serving as the executive vice president for public health at the International Food Authenticity Assurance Organization, he is the founder and president of Detwiler Consulting Group LLC. Detwiler and serves on numerous committees and advisory panels related to food science, nutrition, fraud, and policy. He is a sought-after speaker on key issues in food policy at corporate and regulatory training events, as well as national and international events. Detwiler holds a doctorate of Law and Policy.

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French baby formula scandal broadens; retailers blame Lactalis

Food Safety News - Mon, 02/19/2018 - 00:01

Negative news keeps piling up for French dairy giant Lactalis, which recalled 12 million cans of baby milk in December because of a multi-country Salmonella outbreak traced to the product.

Forty infants across France, Spain and Greece have been confirmed in the Salmonella Agona outbreak. Lactalis distributed the product to 86 countries. The company sells products in the United States, but the recalled infant formula was not sent to the states.

French media report that retailers testified before a government panel this past week, confirming that they continued to sell the product after the recall. The retailers said a series of confusing messages from Lactalis was partly responsible for their failure to pull the implicated product from shelves.

Representatives from the retailers also testified that the chains had received the product from Lactalis after the recall was initiated in December 2017, according to a report from Reuters. The retailers, Carrefour, Casino, Leclerc, Intermarche, Auchan, Systeme U and Cora, spoke during a hearing before the French Senate’s Economic Affairs Committee.

Foodwatch, a non-profit consumer watchdog group in Europe, filed a complaint saying Lactalis violated federal laws 12 times in relation to the ongoing baby formula scandal. A coalition of families with children who have been infected is also pursuing legal action against Lactalis.

In addition to the current Salmonella outbreak, Lactalis executives admitted in recent days that Salmonella had been found in the same production plant in 2005. Dozens of infants fell ill then, also.

The French government is investigating reports that the company also found Salmonella in finished products, but did not reveal those test results as required by law.

In financial news this past week, Lactalis finally made public annual reports for 2014, 2015 and 2016 that are required by French law, according to multiple media outlets in France. It marked the first time since 2011 that the multi-national company published balance sheets.

French authorities gave the company a March 17 deadline to produce the remaining financial reports it has not yet filed.

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FDA warns supplement maker food safety ignorance no defense

Food Safety News - Mon, 02/19/2018 - 00:00

A dietary supplement manufacturer is on notice from the FDA because the firm’s products were prepared, packed, or held under conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby they may have been rendered injurious to heath.

Staff from the Food and Drug Administration inspected the San Francisco, CA, location of Reishi D. International Inc. from Aug. 2-7, 2017, and discovered  “serious violations” of the Current Good Manfacturing Practice (cGMP) regulation for foods, according to a Feb. 7 warning letter made public by the FDA in recent days.

Additionally, review of the firm’s product labels resulted in misbranding violations, “during the inspection of your facility, our investigator collected labels and brochures for your Reishi D. dietary supplement which contain violations of the Act and applicable regulations.” according to the letter sent to Zheng Xiong Li, CEO of Reishi D. International Inc.

Specifically, FDA’s Division 5, West Director Darla Bracy, noted the following observations logged during the inspection:

  • During the inspection you did not provide documentation of the approval for release of your dietary supplements by your quality control personnel.
  • You distributed Reishi D., Lot #CC4020-6160 and failed to collect and hold a reserve sample. The firm also informed the FDA investigator that they were not aware of the requirement to collect and hold reserve samples of finished dietary supplements they received from their contract manufacturer.
  • You told our investigator that you did not have any written procedures for handling any returned dietary supplements.”
  • The firm’s Reishi D. product is misbranded because the label fails to identify the part of the plant, e.g., root, leaves, from which each botanical dietary ingredient in the product is derived.
  • The firm’s serving size declared on the labels are incorrect. The suggested use states “Take 1 capsule twice daily,” but the serving size lists “2” capsules. The serving size listed should be one capsule. An incorrect serving size could lead a consumer to overconsume the product.
  • The firm makes the false claim in their product brochure: “Propolis is a rich source of minerals, vitamins C, E, provitamin A, and B-Complex ….” To bear “rich in” claims, a product must contain 20 percent or more of the RDI or DRV of the nutrients that are the subject of the claim. The Supplement Facts label for the firm’s Reishi D. product does not list any minerals or vitamin C, E, A or B vitamins. Furthermore, an RDI has not been established for “provitamin A.”

The FDA noted a response letter from firm on Oct. 15, but evaluated all of their corrective actions as inadequate. Once again, the FDA requested that the the firms next response “include the timeframe in which the corrections will be completed and provide any documentation that will effectively assist us in evaluating whether the corrective actions have been made and the adequacy of such corrective actions.”

Food companies are given 15 working days to respond to FDA warning letters. “You should take prompt action to correct the violations noted in this letter. Failure to do so may result in regulatory action by FDA without further notice, including, without limitation, seizure and injunction,” according to the warning letter.

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Spring chickens have sprung; CDC warns of pathogen dangers

Food Safety News - Mon, 02/19/2018 - 00:00

Baby chick season is upon us.

Some say the big question is whether the chicken or the egg came first, but public health pros say a more important question is whether you know the food safety do’s and don’ts involved with backyard flocks.

In 2017, live poultry was responsible for 10 Salmonella outbreaks in the United States, sickening more than 1,100 people across 48 states and killing one.

“Contact with live poultry or their environment can make people sick with Salmonella infections. Live poultry can be carrying Salmonella bacteria but appear healthy and clean, with no sign of illness,” according to the a warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

People planning backyard flocks usually buy chicks in February. After six weeks they are moved from their indoor heat lamp environments to outdoor coops.

Most farm stores know the importance of encouraging handwashing after handling chicks in order to avoid issues of cross-contamination from hands. Furthermore, the CDC recommends always washing hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching anything in the area where live birds live and roam.

Adults should always supervise handwashing for children. Poultry should not be allowed to live or roam inside the house, and children younger than 5 years old should not be allowed to handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry without constant adult observation.

This chick season, remember to monitor for symptoms of Salmonella infection. Anyone that is exposed to backyard poultry and develops symptoms of Salmonella should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure so the proper diagnostic tests can be performed.

Symptoms for most people can include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, beginning 12 to 72 hours after exposure to the bacteria.

Illness from Salmonella usually lasts four to seven days. In some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that the person needs to be hospitalized. Salmonella infections are more likely to be severe for children younger than 5 years, older adults and people with weakened immune systems, such as people with cancer, diabetes, and liver or kidney disease.

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Michigan posts 25th hepatitis A death; restaurant worker sick

Food Safety News - Sun, 02/18/2018 - 00:09

Hepatitis infection can cause a yellowing of the eyes and/or skin, which is referred to as jaundice. Photo illustration

An outbreak of hepatitis A has claimed another life in Michigan. Also, another restaurant worker has tested positive for the highly contagious virus, exposing an unknown number of people who ate at a Red Lobster in the past month.

The death toll in Michigan stands at 25 as of the state health department’s most recent update, which included information up to Feb. 14. The state reported 751 confirmed cases as of that date, with more than 80 percent having required hospitalization.

Most people infected in the multi-state outbreak, which is described as having begun in California although Michigan has been tracking cases just as long, have been homeless or substance abusers. However, depending on the state, one-fifth to one-third of victims have been neither homeless nor substance abusers.

The outbreak, which includes cases in California, Michigan, Kentucky, Utah, Nevada, New York, Arkansas and Oregon, has sickened more than 1,600 people and killed at least 46.

Hepatitis A can be spread through food and beverages that are contaminated during production or by infected people during food preparation or serving. Consequently, infected restaurant employees or other foodservice workers can expose other employees or customers — often without knowing it because people are contagious before symptoms develop.

Potential exposures at Red Lobster
The most recently reported restaurant worker in Michigan who tested positive for hepatitis A potentially exposed people who ate, drank or worked at the Red Lobster restaurant at 27760 Novi Road in Novi, MI, from Jan. 15 through Feb. 14.

It is past the window of opportunity for many unvaccinated people who were at the restaurant during the possible exposure period. The post-exposure hepatitis A treatment must be giving within two weeks of exposure or it is not effective.

Anyone who ate or drank anything from the implicated Red Lobster in Oakland County and has developed symptoms of hepatitis A infection should immediately seek medical attention, county health officials said in a public advisory.

“Vaccination can prevent the disease if given within 14 days after potential exposure,” said Kathy Forzley, director of health and human services for Oakland County. “If you have eaten at this location during these dates and have not been vaccinated for hepatitis A or have a sudden onset of any symptoms, contact your doctor.”

The county had a special vaccination clinic session yesterday and has another one scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday at 1010 E. West Maple Road in Walled Lake in the Easterseals office. 

Most children in the United States have been receiving hepatitis A vaccinations since the preventive became a routine recommendation in 2006. Even though it has been available since 1996, the vast majority of adults have not been vaccinated.

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by a virus. The virus is shed in feces and is most commonly spread from person to person by unclean hands contaminated with microscopic amounts feces. Symptoms of infection may include sudden abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, headache, dark urine, and/or vomiting often followed by yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Symptoms may appear from 14 to 50 days after exposure, but usually develop about one month after exposure to the virus, according to public health officials. Some people who are infected do not become sick, but they are contagious.

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Pilgrim’s Pride recalls 50 tons of chicken patties for rubber bits

Food Safety News - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 00:01

Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. is recalling more than 50 tons of ready-to-eat chicken patties from schools and other institutions nationwide after a consumer complained of finding rubber in the product.

The 101,310 pounds of Gold Kist Farms breaded chicken patties, produced Sept. 2, 2017, are packed in 30-pound boxes with six 5-pound bags inside. The packaging identifies the product as “GOLD KIST FARMS, Fully Cooked Whole Grain Home-Style Breaded Chicken Patties,” according to the recall notice posted Friday night by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

School cafeteria managers and other foodservice operators should look for the case code of 72491050xx and the product code of 665400 to further identify the recalled chicken patties. The recalled patties have the establishment number “P-20728” inside the USDA mark of inspection on their labels.

“The problem was discovered after the firm received a customer complaint on Feb. 13,” according to the recall notice.

“Pilgrim’s Pride distributed the product to institutions, including schools. Although the product was sold through the USDA commodity program, the introduction of the foreign material was due to an equipment failure at the facility.”

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.

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

Consumers with questions about the recall can contact James Brown, consumer relations manager at Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., at 800-321-1470.

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CDC says more frozen coconut Salmonella illnesses possible

Food Safety News - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 00:00

Although the agency has posted a final investigation report on a Salmonella outbreak traced to frozen coconut, officials at the CDC are concerned that additional people could be hit by food poisoning because of the product.

“This frozen shredded coconut has a long shelf life and may still be in people’s freezers. People unaware of the recall could continue to eat the products and potentially get sick,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reported the likely source of the Salmonella outbreak was Coconut Tree Brand frozen, shredded coconut.

“CDC recommends people not eat, and restaurants and retailers not serve or sell, recalled Coconut Tree Brand frozen Shredded Coconut.”

Anyone who finds they still have the frozen coconut on hand should discard it and throughly clean and sanitize freezers, refrigerators, counters and anything else the coconut contacted.

The outbreak crossed the border, with at least one confirmed victim in Canada and 27 spread across nine U.S. states. At least six people in the U.S. required hospitalization. No deaths were reported.

Public health investigators in Massachusetts were key in discovering the outbreak while searching for the cause of an illness in their state.

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FDA, Smucker don’t agree on which dog foods have been pulled

Food Safety News - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 00:00

The Food and Drug Administration alerted pet owners Friday about potential pentobarbital contamination in several brands of dog foods manufactured by The J.M. Smucker Co.

The warning came after a media outlet reported the results of a study that found low levels of pentobarbital in some samples of Gravy Train canned dog food. The drug is used to euthanize animals.

Based on the testing results provided to FDA, the agency has made a preliminary evaluation that the level of pentobarbital found in the samples is “unlikely to post a health risk for pets.”

However, the presence of pentobarbital at any level in pet food is a violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, and FDA therefore is investigating the potential source and route of contamination.

Smucker responded to the findings of the private study by initiating a voluntary business-to-business withdrawal of certain Gravy Train, Kibbles ’N Bits, Ol’ Roy and Skippy branded canned dog food from retailer warehouses.

According to FDA, the list of affected products (shown below) includes all lots of the specified products manufactured from 2016 through the present. The products were distributed to retailers across the USA.

A comparison of the FDA list to a list of 27 products provided to Food Safety News Thursday by a Smucker spokesperson reveals significant differences.

While all 18 products on the FDA list were included in the Smucker information, several Gravy Train, Skippy and Kibbles ’N Bits products named by the company were absent from the FDA list.

“Out of a desire to inform consumers quickly, earlier this week we published a list of products that included the ingredient that could have contained extremely low levels of pentobarbital, regardless of whether the products were manufactured during the withdrawal timeframe. The FDA chose to focus on products made within a specific timeframe,” a Smucker spokesperson told Food Safety News.

FDA is aware of these differences and has requested clarification from Smucker regarding the status of the additional products, according to a statement added to the agency’s consumer alert notice several hours after its initial release.

Although Smucker has not initiated a consumer-level product recall, as of Friday, Target, Walmart, PetSmart and the Department of Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) have alerted their customers to the product withdrawals.

FDA advice to retailers, consumers
Retailers should remove the withdrawn pet food from their shelves and/or websites and contact the manufacturer for further instructions. If retailers have records to identify consumers who have purchased the withdrawn product, the FDA encourages those retailers to contact the consumers to alert about the product withdrawal.

Consumers should not feed their pets the withdrawn lots of canned dog food. Consumers who purchased these products should safely dispose of the cans and/or contact the Sucker company for information about returning the products.

Consumers who think their pets may be ill from eating food contaminated with pentobarbital should contact their veterinarians immediately.

The FDA encourages consumers to report complaints about this and other pet food products electronically through the Safety Reporting Portal or by calling their state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators.

In addition to certain Skippy and Kibbles ‘n’ Bits dog foods, the Smucker Co. is pulling Gravy Train and Ol’ Roy brands.

Canned dog food listed by the FDA as being included in the market withdrawal are:

  • Gravy Train with T-Bone Flavor Chunks, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910052541
  • Gravy Train with Beef Strips, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 791052542
  • Gravy Train with Lamb & Rice Chunks, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910052543
  • Gravy Train with Chicken Chunks, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910034418
  • Gravy Train with Beef Chunks, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910034417
  • Gravy Train with Chicken Chunks, 22-ounce can, UPC 7910051645
  • Gravy Train with Beef Chunks, 22-ounce can, UPC 7910051647
  • Gravy Train Chunks in Gravy with Beef Chunks, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910034417
  • Kibbles ‘N Bits 12-can Variety Pack – Chef’s Choice American Grill Burger Dinner with Real Bacon & Cheese Bits in Gravy, Chef’s Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Turkey Bacon & Vegetables in Gravy, 12 pack of 13.2-ounce cans, UPC 7910010377, 7910010378
  • Kibbles ‘N Bits 12-Can Variety Pack – Chef’s Choice Bistro Hearty Cuts with Real Beef, Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy, Chef’s Choice Homestyle Meatballs & Pasta Dinner with Real Beef in Tomato Sauce, 12 pack of 13.2-ounce cans, UPC 7910010382, 7910048367, 7910010378
  • Kibbles ‘N Bits 12-Can Variety Pack – Chef’s Choice Homestyle Tender Slices with Real Beef, Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy, Chef’s Choice American Grill Burger Dinner with Real Bacon & Cheese Bits in Gravy, Chef’s Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Beef & Vegetables in Gravy, 12 pack of 13.2-ounce cans, UPC 7910010380, 7910010377, 7910010375
  • Kibbles ‘N Bits Chef’s Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Beef & Vegetables in Gravy, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910010375
  • Kibbles ‘N Bits Chef’s Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Turkey, Bacon & Vegetables in Gravy, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910010378
  • Kibbles ‘N Bits Chef’s Choice Homestyle Tender Slices with Real Beef, Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910010380
  • Ol’ Roy Strips Turkey Bacon, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 8113117570
  • Skippy Premium Chunks in Gravy Chunky Stew, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 79100502469
  • Skippy Premium Chunks in Gravy with Beef, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910050250
  • Skippy Premium Strips in Gravy with Beef, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910050245

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Chicken salad Salmonella outbreak nears 100 cases in 2 states

Food Safety News - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 21:45

Health officials have identified almost 100 sick people in Iowa and at least one in Minnesota in a multi-state Salmonella outbreak investigation linked to chicken salad sold at Fareway stores.

The company that supplied the deli chicken salad to Fareway Stores Inc. has not been revealed by the regional grocery chain, state officials or federal officials.

Salmonella bacteria under high magnification.

As of tonight the grocer, which has about 120 retail stores, did not have any information about the situation on its website. It has not recalled any food in relation to the outbreak.

Iowa’s Department of Public Health issued a public alert Tuesday about the link between the chicken salad and the Salmonella outbreak. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service followed up Wednesday with its own warning.

Those warnings did not report the number of illnesses. Today the Iowa health department reported 94 sick people are implicated: 28 of them have laboratory-confirmed infections from Salmonella typhimurium and 66 of them  are probable cases.

All of the 28 confirmed sick people reported eating chicken salad from Fareway during the seven days before they became ill. Of the 66 probable victims for whom confirmation tests are pending, all reported eating chicken salad from a Fareway store in the week before they became ill.

Other probable cases have epidemiological links to a confirmed sick person, according to the Iowa health department update posted today.

Illness onset dates range from Jan. 1 through Feb. 16. There are likely more outbreak victims that are not yet showing up in state totals because of the lag time between illness onset, diagnosis and reporting to state officials.

In Minnesota, only one person had been confirmed as a victim of the outbreak, according to the state’s health department Facebook page. The sick person lives in Martin County.

The chicken salad linked to the outbreak was sold at all of Fareway Stores Inc. grocery stores in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota, according to federal officials. Neither the official websites or Facebook pages for the Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota health departments had any mention of the outbreak as of tonight.

Photo illustration

Advice to consumers
“(The Food Safety and Inspection Service) FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ refrigerators or freezers,” according to the public alert posted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wednesday night.

“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.”

Anyone who has eaten any chicken salad from Fareway stores and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to the bacteria.

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, called salmonellosis, typically start 6 to 72 hours after exposure to Salmonella bacteria. However, in some people it takes two weeks for symptoms to develop.

Symptoms include fever, chills, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms usually last for four to seven days.

Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but infants, children, seniors and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness.

Most people who become ill from a Salmonella infection will recover fully after a few days. It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and not get sick or show any symptoms, but they are still be able to spread the infection to others.

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Pilgrim's Pride Corporation Recalls Ready-to-Eat Chicken Products due to Possible Foreign Matter Contamination

USDA Food Recall - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 12:10
Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., a Waco, Texas establishment, is recalling approximately 101,310 pounds of ready-to-eat breaded chicken patties that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically rubber.

Peanut butter defendants get more time for rehearing filing

Food Safety News - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 00:04

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has approved a motion giving more time for the Peanut Corporation of America criminal defendants to file petitions for rehearing and rehearing en banc.

The new deadline for the filings is March 13.

The circuit court on Jan. 23 upheld all of the district court’s decisions that were under appeal by the defendants, who were challenging both their convictions and sentences.

Attorneys for former PCA executive Stewart Parnell, his peanut broker brother Michael Parnell, and one-time PCA quality control manager Mary Wilkerson sought more time to file petitions because of their “pressing commitments and deadlines in other litigated cases.”

The Department of Justice (DOJ) did not contest the requests for more time.

Petitions for rehearing, either by another three-judge panel or the entire court (en banc) likely will be the final shot the attorneys have at getting their clients out of jail.

A three-judge circuit panel issued a 21-page decision on Jan. 23 that denied all of the trio’s appeals. They are serving a total of 53-years in federal prisons for their roles in the 2008-09 nationwide Salmonella outbreak linked to PCA’s peanut butter. The outbreak sickened thousands and caused at least nine deaths.

Federal prosecutors for the Middle District of Georgia filed a 76-count indictment in February 2013. A jury convicted the three defendants in 2014. Sentencing was delayed for one year while the district court investigated jury misconduct allegations.

Stewart and Michael Parnell were, respectively sentenced to 28 and 20 years in federal prison after each was convicted of multiple felonies. Wilkerson was convicted on a single count of obstruction of justice and sentenced to five years.

Attorney Justin M. Lugar of the Roanoke, VA-based law firm of Gentry Locke represents Stewart Parnell. Joseph R. Pope of Richmond, VA-based William Mullen is Michael Parnell’s attorney. And, Albany, GA attorney Thomas G. Ledford is Wilkerson’s attorney.

Together they are defending against the most severe penalties ever imposed in a food safety case in the United States.

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Information sought from South African Listeria victims

Food Safety News - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 00:02

The biggest listeriosis outbreak to date in the world, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) is asking victims in South Africa to list everything they can remember eating in the past month with the hopes of identifying a source.

Of the 872 confirmed cases, 164 people have died, 43 percent of which were babies less than a month old.

“Given the scale of our mystery outbreak, it has led to what one delegate termed ‘listeria hysteria’, at a listeriosis workshop hosted by the South African Association of Food Science and Technology (SAAFoST) in Johannesburg on Wednesday,” according to a story from The Times in Johannesburg.

Lucia Anelich, SAAFoST president, said given that a single, unique “homegrown” strain of listeriosis was identified in more than 90 percent of the confirmed cases, it was likely that the source was a single food product or range of food products consumed often and by both rich and poor across South Africa; “Cold meats, for example, range from viennas and polony to more expensive slices of ham.”

Since proper cooking temperatures kill Listeria, the food source is thought to be a fruit, vegatables or a ready-to-eat food item. Additionally, the possibility of ill-treated irrigation water is a likely culpret of the pathogen.

A food safety expert and an epidemiologist with listeriosis experience have been sent to South Africa by the World Health Organization (WHO) has sent to help identify the source of the outbreak. According to a WHO spokesman, a “strong lead” is pending with laboratory results.

South Africa is in desperate need for an update to their entire food system, a call for “a dramatic overhaul of our legislation and the entire food safety system.”

For example there were fewer than 2,000 environmental health practitioners responsible for monitoring all food outlets from restaurants to informal vendors; the WHO said that South Africa needs 5,000 of them.

Familiar call goes out in Arkansas for those who ate at local Taco Bell

Food Safety News - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 00:01

Stop us if you heard this one before.

A person infected with hepatitis A goes to work in the food and beverage industry. He or she provides customer service until a test comes back positive for Hep A. Health officials then recommend everyone who served during the period the infected worker was on duty get vaccinated for Hep A while there is still time.

This time that warning goes out to everyone who obtained food or beverages at the Taco Bell in Corning, AR, between Jan. 24 and Feb. 7. The Corning Taco Bell is located on North Missouri Ave.

The Arkansas Department of Health reported positive Hepatitis A test results came back on a Taco Bell employee who worked during that period.

Hepatitis A is a virus, or infection, that causes liver disease and inflammation of the liver. People usually get hepatitis A by having close contact with a person who is infected, from food or drinks prepared by someone who is infected, or by eating shellfish harvested from sewage-contaminated water.

The incubation period — the time from exposure to sickness — for hepatitis A is two to seven weeks. That length of time often is enough for people to get vaccinated and head off the illness.

Once people get hepatitis A, there is not any specific treatment.

Symptoms are flu-like, including tiredness, stomach discomfort, fever, decreased appetite, and diarrhea; light-colored stools; more specific symptoms include dark yellow urine and jaundice.

The Clay County Health Unit at 1009 S. Garfield, Piggott, AR, has immune globulin and hepatitis A vaccines available with an appointment. The contact number is 870-598-3390. There is no risk to Taco Bell customers who ate at the fast food outlet after Feb. 7, 2018, according to state health officials.

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Gravy Train, Ol’ Roy, other brands recalled for euthanasia drug

Food Safety News - Thu, 02/15/2018 - 15:56

The J.M. Smucker Co. has voluntarily withdrawn certain shipments of 27 different pet food products following media reports of pentobarbital contamination in some of its Gravy Train dog food.

Pentobarbital is a tranquilizer that is often used as a euthanizing agent to put down sick or fatally injured animals.

A consumer-level product recall has not been initiated. As of Wednesday afternoon neither Smucker nor any government agencies had revealed whether any of the implicated dog food made it to retail shelves where the public has access to buy it.

Smucker’s spokesperson provided Food Safety News a list of the recalled dog food, which it has requested retailers remove from their warehouses. The list of recalled dog food provided by Smucker is as follows:

  • Gravy Train 13.2 oz. with T-Bone Flavor Chunks – UPC: 7910052541
  • Gravy Train 13.2 oz. with Beef Strips – UPC: 7910052542
  • Gravy Train 13.2 oz. with Lamb and Rice Chunks – UPC: 7910052543
  • Gravy Train 13.2 oz. with Beef Chunks – UPC: 7910034417
  • Gravy Train 13.2 oz. with Chicken Chunks – UPC: 7910034418
  • Gravy Train 13.2 oz. Chunks in Gravy Stew – UPC: 7910051933
  • Gravy Train 13.2 oz. Chicken, Beef & Liver Medley – UPC: 7910051934
  • Gravy Train 13.2 oz. Chunks in Gravy with Beef Chunks – UPC: 7910034417
  • Gravy Train 22 oz. with Chicken Chunks – UPC: 7910051645
  • Gravy Train 22 oz. with Beef Chunks – UPC: 7910051647
  • In addition to certain Skippy and Kibbles ‘n’ Bits dog foods, the Smucker Co. is pulling Gravy Train and Ol’ Roy brands.

    Kibbles ‘N Bits 13.2 oz. Burger Bacon Cheese and Turkey Bacon Vegetable Variety 12-Pack – UPC: 7910010377; 7910010378

  • Kibbles ‘N Bits 13.2 oz. Beef, Chicken, Vegetable, Meatball Pasta and Turkey Bacon Vegetable Variety Pack – UPC: 7910010382; 7910048367; 7910010378
  • Kibbles ‘N Bits 13.2 oz. Beef, Chicken, Vegetable, Burger Bacon Cheese and Beef Vegetable Variety Pack – UPC: 7910010380; 7910010377; 7910010375
  • Kibbles ‘N Bits 13.2 oz. Wet Variety Pack – UPC: 791001037; 7910048367
  • Kibbles ‘N Bits 13.2 oz. Chef’s Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Beef & Vegetable in Gravy – UPC: 7910010375
  • Kibbles ‘N Bits 13.2 oz. Chef’s Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Turkey, Bacon & Vegetable in Gravy – UPC: 7910010378
  • Kibbles ‘N Bits 13.2 oz. Chef’s Choice Homestyle Tender Slices with Real Beef, Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy – UPC: 7910010380
  • Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Select Cuts in Gravy with Beef & Bone Marrow – UPC: 7910071860
  • Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Select Cuts with Burgers & Cheese Bits – UPC: 7910050243
  • Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Chunks in Gravy with Smoky Turkey & Bacon – UPC: 7910050246
  • Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Chunks in Gravy with Beef & Chicken – UPC: 7910050247
  • Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Chunks in Gravy 3 in 1 Chicken, Beef & Liver – UPC: 7910050248
  • Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Chunks in Gravy Chunky Stew – UPC: 7910050249
  • Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Strips in Gravy with Chicken – UPC: 7910050244
  • Skippy 13.2 oz, Premium Chunks in Gravy with Beef – UPC: 7910050250
  • Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Strips in Gravy with Beef – UPC: 7910050245
  • Ol’ Roy 13.2 oz Turkey Bacon Strips – UPC: 8113117570

Smucker initiated the product withdrawal following a Feb. 8 media report of low levels of pentobarbital contamination in some Gravy Train products.

The contamination was detected during the course of a study commissioned by WJLA, a Washington D.C. area station, according to a spokesperson from the Clean Label Project, which conducted the study for the news station. Gravy Train was the only brand of pet food included in the study that was found to contain pentobarbital.

The study was undertaken in response to the 2017 discovery of pentobarbital in brands of canned/wet dog food manufactured by Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food Co. Inc., an adulteration that resulted in illnesses of several pets and at least one death.

Beginning in October 2017, Clean Label Project obtained 99 retail samples of various brands of canned/wet dog food for pentobarbital analysis by Ellipse Analytics, a Denver laboratory.

The samples were analyzed to determine both the presence and the amount of pentobarbital in the dog foods, using test methods consistent with FDA protocols. According to Smucker, the amounts of pentobarbital found in their product “…do not pose a threat to pet safety.”

An FDA spokesperson told Food Safety News Wednesday that the agency’s “…preliminary evaluation of the testing results of Gravy Train samples indicates that the low level of pentobarbital present in the withdrawn products is unlikely to pose a health risk to pets.

“However, pentobarbital should never be present in pet food and products containing any amount of pentobarbital are considered to be adulterated,” said the FDA spokesperson.

All of the products included on Smucker’s retailer recall list came from the same manufacturing facility. The company has narrowed its investigation to “…a single supplier and a single, minor ingredient…” used at that facility.

Jaclyn Bowen, the executive director of Clean Label Project expressed a lack of surprise at the pentobarbital findings.

“At Clean Label Project, we believe that sometimes what’s not on the label is what’s most important,” she said.

“Clean Label Project’s 2017 Pet Food Study revealed high levels of heavy metals, BPA, and acrylamide in some of the nation’s best selling pet food. The presence of pentobarbital in Gravy Train does not come as a surprise and the Evanger’s recall was not a one-off, rather the tip of the iceberg of an industry that needs to significantly improve its food safety and quality through testing.”

Smucker encourages pet owners with questions or concerns about this situation to contact the company by telephone 800-828-9980 or via email at: http://www.bigheartpet.com/Contact/ContactUs.aspx.

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Feds post chicken salad alert; Salmonella investigation expands

Food Safety News - Thu, 02/15/2018 - 01:04

A day after Iowa officials warned the public about an outbreak of Salmonella linked to chicken salad, federal officials issued an alert saying the implicated product was sold in at least four other states.

Neither the Iowa Department of Health nor the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) named the manufacturer of the chicken salad, which was sold at all Fareway Stores Inc. grocery stores in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota.

“FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ refrigerators or freezers,” according to the public alert posted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wednesday night.

“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.”

Iowa officials reported Tuesday they were investigating “multiple cases” of Salmonella infection “across Iowa”  in relation to the chicken salad. However, they did not report the number of sick people or when the illnesses began.

Fareway Stores Inc. had not issued a recall as of Wednesday night.

The implicated chicken salad was produced from Dec. 15, 2017, and Tuesday, according to the public health alert posted Wednesday night by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The chicken salad was sold in plastic deli containers of varying weights with a Fareway store deli labels.

Iowa officials apparently knew about the problem before Feb. 9, but they did not alert the public until Tuesday.

“On Feb. 9 the Iowa Department of Public Health notified FSIS of an investigation of Salmonella related illnesses, within the state of Iowa,” according to the federal alert posted Wednesday.

Anyone who has eaten any chicken salad from Fareway stores and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to the bacteria.

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, called salmonellosis, typically start 6 to 72 hours after exposure to Salmonella bacteria. However, in some people it takes two weeks for symptoms to develop.

Symptoms include fever, chills, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms usually last for four to seven days.

Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but infants, children, seniors and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness.

Most people who become ill from a Salmonella infection will recover fully after a few days. It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and not get sick or show any symptoms, but they are still be able to spread the infection to others.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Nurses, doctors, others lineup against raw milk bill in Iowa

Food Safety News - Thu, 02/15/2018 - 00:01

Opposition is building against an Iowa bill that would allow dairy operations in the state to sell unpasteurized milk directly to consumers.

Since it survived an initial subcommittee review with a 2-to-1 vote, opponents of House File (HF) 2055 have been registering their declarations against the bill, which remains in the House Local Government Committee.

Led by the Iowa Department of Agriculture, opponents of the raw milk bill include:

  • Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa;
  • Iowa Public Health Association;
  • Iowa Academy of Pediatrics;
  • Iowa Board of Regents;
  • Iowa Medical Society;
  • Iowa Farm Bureau;
  • Iowa Grocery Industry Association;
  • Iowa Geothermal Association;
  • Iowa Veterinary Medical Association;
  • Iowa Association of Counties;
  • Iowa Institute for Cooperatives;
  • Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI);
  • Iowa Dairy Association; and
  • Iowa Environmental Health Association.

No organization has declared support for HF 2055. Opponents are united in the single goal of killing the bill in the committee. The committee has not yet scheduled any action on the bill.

The two subcommittee members who supported the raw milk bill were Rep. Greg T. Heartsill, R-Chariton, and Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton. Rep. Heartsill is the bill’s sponsor. Rep. Art Staed, D-Cedar Rapids, voted to kill the measure in the subcommittee.

HF 2055’s future is now in the hands of the 21-member House Local Government Committee. It, like the Iowa House of Representatives, is under GOP control. Heartsill might request the bill be re-assigned to the House Agriculture Committee.

The Iowa bill would permit dairies to sell raw milk directly to consumers. The unpasteurized milk would have to bear a warning label stating:

“This container holds raw milk not subject to state inspection or other public health regulations that require pasteurization and grading.”

The bill provide for fines ranging from $65 to $650 and up to 30 days in jail for violations of the proposed law. Misdemeanor charges would apply.

Opponents form a powerful coalition of both industry and public health interests concerned about the dangers of raw milk, including such pathogens as E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter. Similiar alliances in other states have been successful in defeating efforts to legalize unpasteurized milk and other raw products made with it.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that raw milk is 800 times more likely to cause foodborne illness than pasteurized milk. “There are no health benefits from drinking raw milk that cannot be obtained from drinking pasteurized milk that is free of disease-causing bacteria,” according to the CDC.

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Food safety concerns at cannabis production facilities continue

Food Safety News - Thu, 02/15/2018 - 00:00

The legalization of cannabis in a growing number of U.S. states and Canadian provinces continues to raise concerns about a variety of food safety hazards, including pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli.

“There are many food safety hazards associated with cannabis production and distribution that could put the public at risk, but are not yet adequately controlled,” Steven Burton of Icicle Technologies Inc. said earlier this month.

For example, pests in production areas can cause pathogenic contamination of cannabis products. But, cannabis operations often are not subject to federal pest control regulations that cover food and pharmaceutical operations.

Each week the FDA makes public warning letters that have been sent to food and drug manufacturers that have violated food safety procedures and controls, including the preparation, packaging, or holding conditions of products. However, because marijuana products are not legal under federal law, those regulations are not applied.

Another hazard involves the issue of product contamination from the employees during the various stages of the production process. The stakes for cross-contamination are the highest when employees are handling the product, making proper employee training and personnel hygiene policies should be is place at all marijuana growing and production facilities, Burton contends.

Unless cannabis products such as edibles can be treated the same as other food products and have a comprehensive food safety program including plans, procedures, training, monitoring and verification, hazards can be expected, according to Burton.


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