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

Food Safety News - 23 hours 41 min ago

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 - 23 hours 43 min ago

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 are problem

Food Safety News - 23 hours 43 min ago

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 - February 16, 2018 - 9:45pm

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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Peanut butter defendants get more time for rehearing filing

Food Safety News - February 16, 2018 - 12:04am

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 - February 16, 2018 - 12:02am

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 - February 16, 2018 - 12:01am

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 - February 15, 2018 - 3:56pm

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 - February 15, 2018 - 1:04am

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.

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

Food Safety News - February 15, 2018 - 12:01am

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 - February 15, 2018 - 12:00am

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.

Pork and chicken empanadas recalled for misbranding and allergens

Food Safety News - February 14, 2018 - 5:55pm

Linden, NJ-based Saker ShopRites, Inc. has recalled approximately 19,757 pounds of pork and chicken empanadas 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 egg, a known allergen, which is not listed in the ingredient statement on the label.  The fully cooked pork and chicken empanadas were produced between Oct. 7, 2017, and Feb. 12, 2018. There have been no reports of injuries.

  • 9-oz. vacuum-packed plastic packages containing three pieces of “3 pk CHICKEN EMPANADA wheat shell filled with seasoned chicken” with various expiration dates between Oct. 15, 2017, and Feb. 20, 2018.
  • 6-oz. vacuum-packed plastic packages containing three pieces of “2 pk CHICKEN EMPANADA wheat shell filled with seasoned chicken” with various expiration dates between Oct. 15, 2017, and Feb. 20, 2018.
  • 9-oz. vacuum-packed plastic packages containing three pieces of “3 pk PORK EMPANADA wheat shell filled with seasoned pork” with various expiration dates between Oct. 15, 2017, and Feb. 20, 2018
  • 6-oz. vacuum-packed plastic packages containing three pieces of “2 pk PORK EMPANADA wheat shell filled with seasoned pork” with various expiration dates between Oct. 15, 2017, and Feb. 20, 2018.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 5495” or “EST. P-5495” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations in New Jersey.

The mistake was discovered by FSIS personnel during routine label verification activities. 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.

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. Retail distribution was limited to Saker Shoprites Inc. stores in New Jersey.

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Banned pesticides found in cactus pads could poison people

Food Safety News - February 14, 2018 - 2:58pm

Dangerously high levels of banned pesticides in edible cactus from Mexico spurred California health officials to issue a public warning today urging people to throw out the product because it could cause acute poisoning.

The contaminated cactus pads may also have been distributed in other states.

Photo illustration

Washing or peeling the cactus pads, also known as nopales, is not effective and people should not try to salvage any of this contaminated produce, according to the warning this morning from the California Department of Public Health and the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR).

The cactus pads may also have been distributed in Oregon and Nevada. California officials have informed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about the situation.

“Routine surveillance samples collected by DPR inspectors found various pesticides, including dimethoate, omethoate, monocrotophos, and methidathion, at levels that pose a health risk to humans,” according to the public warning. “

“Both monocrotophos and methidathion have been banned for food use in the United States for several years.”

Symptoms of poisoning from the pesticides include sweating, headache, weakness, nausea, vomiting, hypersalivation, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea, the state’s top health official said in the public warning. Anyone who has eaten cactus pads from Mexico and developed such symptoms should immediately seek medical attention.

“Consumption of monocrotophos can lead to neurotoxicity and permanent nerve damage,” said CDPH Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith.

The California pesticide regulation inspectors collected and tested samples of the cactus pads that were sold to consumers and wholesalers between Jan. 23-29.

California officials said they have located some of the implicated cactus pads, but not all of them. The cactus pads subject to the public warning are known to have been sold at the following locations:

  • Rancho San Miguel Markets, Madera;
  • La Monarca Market, Lower Lake;
  • FreshPoint Central California, Turlock;
  • Arteaga’s Food Center, Sacramento;
  • Stater Bros. Distribution Center, San Bernardino; and
  • S&L Wholesale Produce, San Francisco.

Brian Leahy, DPR director said in today’s warning that state officials are not aware of any illnesses to date. Anyone who bought the cactus pads from the listed locations recently should return them to the place of purchase or dispose of it in the garbage, he said.

“(The) DPR believes it is possible that some of the cactus pads may have been sold to other stores in California, Nevada, and Oregon. The tainted produce was packaged with the brand names ‘Mexpogroup Fresh Produce,’ ‘Aramburo,’ or ‘Los Tres Huastecos,’ ” according to the public warning.

The pesticide regulation department removed the cactus pads it could locate from store shelves and distribution centers. The department quarantined or destroyed the seized produce, the department reported.

Any person who sees any of the implicated cactus pads for sale in any place is encouraged to report it to the state health department’s toll-free complaint line at 800-495-3232.

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Salmonella in chicken salad suspected cause of Iowa illnesses

Food Safety News - February 14, 2018 - 12:03am

Few details are included in a consumer alert from the Iowa Department of Public Health that warns people about a Salmonella outbreak linked to chicken salad sold at Fareway grocery stores.

Laboratory tests have detected Salmonella in the chicken salad, which is made by a third party, according to the state alert issued Tuesday. Iowa officials are investigating an undisclosed number of Salmonella illnesses across the state.

The Fareway Stores Inc. grocery chain has not issued a recall and did not appear to have any information about the Salmonella investigation on its websites as of Tuesday night. The grocery chain stopped selling the implicated chicken salad Friday evening after state officials notified the company about “multiple cases” of illnesses.

“The bottom line is that no one should eat this product,” said state Medical Director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk said in the consumer alert. “If you have it in your refrigerator, you should throw it away.”

Iowa’s Department of Public Health and Department of Inspections and Appeals jointly issued the consumer alert, but the agencies did not reveal the name of the chicken salad supplier.

Although the alert did not specify how many illnesses are under investigation in relation to the chicken salad, Iowa officials reported the cases are spread “across Iowa.” The Fareway grocery chain has more than 120 locations.

Advice to consumers
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.

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.

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FDA, state investigate Darwin’s pet food after illnesses, death

Food Safety News - February 14, 2018 - 12:01am

The Food and Drug Administration and the Washington State Department of Agriculture are investigating what FDA describes as a “pattern of Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes contamination in raw pet foods manufactured by Arrow Reliance Inc.”

FDA has received a total of six complaints of illness in animals who were fed the raw pet foods, including the death of one kitten. Salmonella recovered from the kitten was indistinguishable from the Salmonella found in a closed package of Darwin’s food from the same lot that was fed to the animal, according to the agency.

People who handle contaminated pet food and anything it touches, including counter tops, utensils and pet bowls, are at risk of contracting infections from pathogens such as Salmonella. Infected pets, which don’t always show symptoms, can transfer Salmonella infection to people.

In addition to the reports of sick pets, FDA reports it is aware of at least three animals that were reported to have been injured by bone shards in Darwin’s pet food.

Arrow Reliance Inc., doing business as Darwin’s Natural Pet Food, issued the latest in a series of recall notices on Saturday.

The company notified its customers of the recall by emails sent only to those customers who purchased the recalled products. No public recall notice was issued, company officials told the FDA, because they only sell products online through direct-to-customer sales.

Included in the Saturday recall were:

  • ZooLogics Chicken Meals for Dogs, 2-pound, with the lot number 41567, and  manufacture date of Nov. 2, 2017; and
  • ZooLogics Duck Meals for Dogs, 2-pound, lot number 41957, and manufacture date of Nov 16, 2017.

Since October 2016, the company has recalled a total of nine batches of its Natural Selections and Zoologics branded of Meals for Dogs and Meals for Cats, including

four batches of its Natural Selections brand of Meals for Dogs recalled on Dec. 4, 2017.

Shortly after the December 2017 recall, one of Darwin’s customers learned that her German Shepherd, Blitz, had become infected with Salmonella. Judy, who asked that her last name not be published, registered a formal complaint with FDA.

Follow-up testing of Blitz by FDA’s Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network confirmed that the dog was infected with Salmonella. In addition, lab analysis of closed packages of Darwin’s pet food obtained by FDA from Judy on Jan. 24 found Salmonella in the product.

“Darwin’s told me it was safe to feed Blitz the (ZooLogics) food because it wasn’t on the recall list they were dealing with back in November/December. Now, three to four months later, they tell me that the same food they assured is safe to eat now has Salmonella,” Judy told Food Safety News.

FDA has conducted two inspections of Darwin’s manufacturing facility since mid-2016. The first was completed on June 30, 2016, and the second on May 31, 2017, according to information received in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Both inspections were classified “No Action Indicated.”

Darwin’s first series of product recalls encompassed three lots of Meals for Dogs manufactured on July 20, July 21 and July 25 in 2016, less than one month following the June 2016 inspection. The company next recalled one batch of Meals for Cats, manufactured on June 1, 2017, one day after the completion of the 2017 FDA inspection.

Based on information received in response to the FOIA request, it does not appear that FDA conducted an inspection following the Meals for Cats recall.

Illustration courtesy of FDA

FDA advice to consumers
Consumers should not feed their pets recalled lots of raw pet food manufactured by Arrow Reliance Inc. Consumers who purchased this raw pet food should throw it away. People who think they or their pets have become ill from exposure to contaminated raw pet food should talk to their health care providers or veterinarians.

Consumers who had the recalled Darwin’s products in their homes should clean their refrigerator and clean and disinfect all bowls, utensils, food prep surfaces, pet bedding, toys, floors, and any other surfaces that the food or pet may have had contact with.

Animals can shed the bacteria when they have bowel movements, so it’s particularly important to clean up animal feces in yards or parks where people or other animals may become exposed.

Pet owners who opt to feed their pets a raw diet should consult FDA’s “Tips to Prevent Foodborne Illness from Raw Pet Food.”

Salmonella infection symptoms in people can include diarrhea that lasts for more than three days, or is accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine.

People who think their pets have become ill after consuming contaminated raw pet food should contact their veterinarians. Veterinarians who wish to have dogs tested for Salmonella may do so through the Vet-LIRN Network if the pet is from a household with a person infected with Salmonella.

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.

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It gives only a little, but Trump budget takes nothing way from food safety programs

Food Safety News - February 14, 2018 - 12:00am

In the fiscal year 2019 budget that sets out to cut domestic programs by almost $700 billion over 10 years, federal food safety has not only escaped the knife but made some small gains.

President Donald J. Trump’s $1.1 trillion discretionary budget proposal adds $9.4 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services, the government’s largest domestic agency and home to the Food and Drug Administration, while trimming $3.5 billion from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA cuts, however, do not impact food safety.

“The (USDA) budget fully funds the costs necessary to support about 8,100 personnel located at more than 6,400 processing and slaughter establishments for meat, poultry and egg production in the United States,” says the document prepared by the Executive Office of Management and Budget (OBM).

“These personnel act as front-line inspectors and investigators; they provide surveillance to protect the nation’s food supply and further the mission of the Food Safety and Inspection Service.”

The proposed budget for the period Oct. 1, 2018, to Sept. 30, 2019, is subject to review and amendment by Congress before it takes effect.

The Alliance for a Stronger FDA, which represents about 150 patient and consumer groups, biomedical research advocates, health professional groups, and individuals, praised the Trump FDA budget proposal and credited the leadership of FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb for the gains.

FDA’s budget authority would increase by $473 million in the Trump budget. Food safety gets a small slice of that.

“The funding of food safety programs needs a boost given then FDA’s multi-year responsibility for implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the continuing challenges in this area, “ said Thomas Gremillion, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America who is an Alliance, board member.

“FSMA represents a fundamental change in philosophy and programming, and the agency needs more resources to implement the law effectively.”

The Trump budget proposal includes $1.4 billion for food safety across all FDA programs, which is $10 million above Congress’s Continuing Resolution for the fiscal year 2018. The total includes $1.4 billion in budget authority and continues $16 million in currently authorized user fees.

The budget document says FDA’s food safety portfolio during FY 2019 will include implementing mandatory standards for imported foods, rapidly detecting and responding to major foodborne illness outbreaks, and helping consumers make healthy choices with the most up-to-date science.

“Having issued all seven foundational rules to establish a risk-based food safety system, FDA’s implementation of the Food Safty Modernization Act continues by ensuring stakeholders across the public, and private sectors are positioned to comply with these rules,” the document says. It promises Congress that FDA will “build on these regulations and guide the modernization of our food safety system” in 2019.

FDA regulates more than $2.4 trillion in the medical products, food, and tobacco products that are consumed annually in the U.S., including about 75 percent of the food supply.

Trump budget writers also propose returning the siluriformes, aka catfish, inspection program to FDA. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) currently inspects catfish under an agreement with FDA that supposedly ended a decade-long controversy about which agency should have the responsibility.

FSIS’s $1.257 billion annual budget will roll over into the new year. It will lose the Codex Alimentarius Office in a transfer to USDA’s Trade and Foreign Affairs mission area. Codex is a 180-nation body for setting world food standards.

FSIS estimates it will collect $240 million in user fees during FY 2019 for charges covering overtime, holiday and voluntary inspection services. The budget proposes future user fees for all domestic inspections, import re-inspections and central operational costs for state, federal and international meat, poultry, and egg inspections.

The additional FSIS user fees would not take effect until 2020. Dependence on user fees in food safety budgets is on the increase by both FDA and FSIS.

FDA’s year-old animal drug and generic animal drug user fee, for example, is currently up for renewal. Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-TN, says authority to continue the user fee is “critical to keeping the food supply safe.” Those charges support the 115-person animal drug and generic animal drug review unit.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, located in Atlanta, will see a $44 million reduction in its discretionary programs. CDC’s $5.5 billion discretionary budget is only half the story. It’s total budget with additional allocations to combat opioids totals more than $11 billion.

CDC is taking a cut of $703 million in total discretionary dollars. The reduction is due in part to shifting the Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Disease lab safety activities to the Public Health Scientific Services and other CDC activities to the National Institutes of Health.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)) would get an FY 2019 budget of $34.8 billion in the Trump budget, which is $699 million more than the last Continuing Resolution out of Congress. NIH owns 281 facilities with more than 15 million gross square feet of space used for hospitals, laboratories and offices.

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South Dakota scientists target Listeria in food processing plants

Food Safety News - February 14, 2018 - 12:00am

South Dakota State University doctoral student Neha Neha, left, and professor Sanjeev Anand examine Listeria colonies, as part of research to improve Listeria risk assessment models. More robust risk assessment models will help food manufacturers enhance food safety protocols and thus protect consumers from foodborne illnesses. (Photo courtesy of South Dakota State University)

About 1,600 Americans become ill from eating foods contaminated with Listeria each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The pathogen’s recent influx in a variety of fresh, frozen and processed foods is reinforcing the importance of understanding how contamination occurs in processing plants.

A recent article by South Dakota State University’s Department of Dairy and Food Science examines the industry’s need for a more comprehensive approach in Listeria risk-assessment.

According to dairy science professor Sanjeev Anand, Listeria contamination has been  traced to niches in food processing environment that provide safe harbor for the bacteria. For example, bacteria on the spout of an ice cream freezer in one commercial ice cream plant was identified as the source of Listeria contamination.

“Listeria is a cold-loving microorganism. Pasteurization and cooking kills Listeria, but the bacteria can grow at temperatures 40 degrees F and above in refrigerators and can even survive freezing,” according to the university’s report.

With the issue of cross contamination in manufacturing environments, researchers are working to determine how Listeria builds up in those settings, what characteristics make it possible, and how it resists cleaning efforts.

To examine the pathogen’s persistence, the scientists will conduct whole genome sequencing of the bacteria, with the goal of understanding the gene expression that leads to colonization.

It will also help them compare resident strains of Listeria, which have the ability to form resilient biofilms in the harborage sites and are difficult to eradicate.

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USDA extends comment time on proposed swine slaughter rule

Food Safety News - February 13, 2018 - 12:41am

Having already received more than 17,200 comments on proposed changes to swine slaughter inspection regulations, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is extending the comment period on the proposed rule.

The 30-day extension of the comment deadline to May 2 comes at the request of industry and consumer groups, according to a statement from the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

“FSIS has proposed to amend the federal meat inspection regulations to establish a new inspection system for market hog slaughter establishments that provides public health protection at least equivalent to the existing inspection system,” the USDA’s sub-agency reported. “Market hog slaughter establishments that do not choose to operate under the new swine inspection system may continue to operate under their existing inspection system.”

The sub-agency also proposed several changes to the regulations that would affect all establishments that slaughter swine, regardless of the inspection system under which they operate or the age, size, or class of swine.

Those proposed changes would allow all swine slaughter establishments to develop sampling plans tailored to their specific operations and thus be more effective in monitoring their specific process control, according to the FSIS statement.

In addition, the FSIS contends thee changes would ensure that food-contact surfaces are sanitary and free of enteric pathogens before the start of slaughter operations.

The proposed rule can be found at https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/c17775a2-fd1f-4c11-b9d2-5992741b0e94/2016-0017.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

Comments on the rule may be submitted:

  • Online via the Federal eRulemaking Portal, available at https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=FSIS-2016-0017 ;
  • By mail sent to Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Patriots Plaza III, Mailstop 3782, Room 8-163A, Washington, D.C. 20250-3700; or
  • By hand or courier delivery to Patriots Plaza III, 355 E St. SW., Room 8-163A, Washington, D.C. 20250-3700.

All comments must include the agency name and docket number: FSIS-2016-0017.

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FDA’s ‘best advice’ for food safety reflected in new Food Code

Food Safety News - February 13, 2018 - 12:02am

The FDA has released an updated version of the federal Food Code with “significant changes” that include a section on the use of bandages among foodservice workers and revised cooking temperatures.

With the Monday release of the 2017 edition of the Food Code, officials from the Food and Drug Administration described the document as a model regulation that provides all levels of government and industry with practical, science-based guidance and manageable provisions for reducing the known risks of foodborne illness.

“It represents FDA’s best advice for a uniform system of provisions that address the safety and protection of food offered at retail and in food service,” according to a constituent update from the FDA.

The Food Code provides guidance for restaurants, retail food stores, vending operations and food service operations including those in schools, hospitals, nursing homes and child care centers. Previously updated and published every two years, the document is now revised every four years.

“(It) provides uniform standards for retail food safety, eliminates redundant processes for establishing food safety criteria, and establishes a more standardized approach in controlling food safety hazards within a retail environment,” according to the FDA’s statement.

Significant changes to the 2017 Food Code include:

  • Revised requirement for the “Person in Charge” to be a Certified Food Protection Manager;
  • New section addressing the use of bandages, finger cots or finger stalls;
  • Harmonized cooking times and temperatures for meat and poultry to ensure uniformity with guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service; and
  • Updated procedures for retail food establishment operations to continue during an extended water or electrical outage, as long as a written emergency operation plan has been pre-approved by the appropriate  regulatory authority, immediate corrective action is taken, and the regulatory authority is notified if the plan is implemented.

The 2017 FDA Food Code is available on the FDA website at http://www.fda.gov/FoodCode.

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Cooking water suspected cause of Olympics norovirus outbreak

Food Safety News - February 13, 2018 - 12:01am

Cooking water is emerging as the likely source of a foodborne norovirus outbreak, predominately among security staff, at the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

As of Monday, Korea’s public health authorities had confirmed 194 cases of norovirus in the outbreak, according to the Korea Herald. No athletes have been confirmed with the highly contagious virus. Of the confirmed cases, 147 patients have recovered and returned to work, with 47 still in quarantine.

Cooking water at a facility in the PyeongChang, the host city for the games, was possibly contaminated, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an interim report. The lodging facility housed more than 1,000 people, mostly private security staff for the Winter Games.

Korean authorities reported Monday that the number of new cases has fallen off since the lodging facility stopped serving meals. However, the Tribune News Service reported cases have been confirmed outside the mountain town of Pyeongchang.

Of the new cases added to the outbreak count on Monday, nine are in Gangneung, which is located on the coast. The venues for Olympic hockey and figure skating competitions are in Gangneung.

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