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Updated: 1 hour 4 min ago

FDA warns consumers to not eat certain Jif peanut butter because of Salmonella outbreak

4 hours 21 min ago

Federal officials are recommending that the public not consume any of dozens of Jif brand peanut butter products because of a new outbreak of infections from Salmonella Senftenberg.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are reporting 14 patients across 12 states with two people having been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported as of today.

The outbreak strain of Salmonella Senftenberg was found in the J.M. Smucker Company’s production facility in Lexington, KY, according to the Food and Drug Administration. 

“The analysis shows that this 2010 environmental sample matches the strain causing illnesses in this current outbreak. Epidemiologic evidence indicates that Jif brand peanut butter produced in the J.M. Smucker Company facility located in Lexington, KY, is the likely cause of illnesses in this outbreak,” according to the public alert issues today by the Food and Drug Administration.

The CDC has not yet posted specific patient details such as when the people became sick or their ages. The agency has been interviewing patients and so far five out of five interviewed reported eating peanut butter in the says before becoming ill Four of those patients reported eating Jif brand peanut butter.

There is great concern that consumers may have unused portions of the implicated peanut butter in their homes. The J.M. Smucker Company, which produces Jif brand peanut butter, has recalled dozens of products, but date codes for the products are not included in the recall information.

Consumers can use the following label information to determine whether they have the recalled peanut butter. If consumers have products matching the above description in their possession, they should dispose of it immediately, according to the FDA.

“The recalled peanut butter was distributed nationwide in retail stores and other outlets. Recalled products include the products below with lot codes 1274425 – 2140425. Lot codes are included alongside best-if-used-by date,” according to the company’s recall notice posted by the FDA.

Description

UPC

JIF 16 OUNCE CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER

5150025516

JIF 16 OUNCE CRUNCHY PEANUT BUTTER

5150025537

JIF 96 OUNCE CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER TWIN PACK

5150024705

JIF 96 OUNCE CRUNCHY PEANUT BUTTER TWIN PACK

5150024706

JIF 40 OUNCE NATURAL CRUNCHY PEANUT BUTTER

5150007565

JIF 12 OUNCE CRUNCHY PEANUT BUTTER INTERNATIONAL

5150008026

JIF 3/4 OUNCE PEANUT BUTTER PLASTIC CASE

5150008051

JIF .64 OUNCE NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER PLASTIC CASE

5150008058

JIF 96 COUNT NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER TO GO CASE

5150021889

JIF 36 COUNT CREAMY JIF PEANUT TO GO CASE

5150024114

JIF 8 COUNT CRUNCHY PEANUT BUTTER TO GO

5150024130

JIF 8 COUNT CREAMY PBTR TO GO

5150024136

JIF 4.5 OUNCE CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER TO GO

5150024137

JIF 54 OUNCE CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER TO GO 36 PACK

5150024143

JIF 28 OUNCE CRUNCHY PEANUT BUTTER

5150024163

JIF 96 COUNT CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER TO GO

5150024170

JIF 54 OUNCE NATURAL CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER TO GO 36 PACK

5150024174

JIF 28 OUNCE CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER

5150024177

JIF 40 OUNCE NATURAL HONEY

5150024182

JIF 12 OUNCE CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER

5150024191

JIF 12 OUNCE NATURAL CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER TO GO

5150024307

JIF 40 OUNCE NATURAL CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER

5150024321

JIF 28 OUNCE NATURAL CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER

5150024322

JIF 4 POUND CAN CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER

5150024331

JIF 96 OUNCE NATURAL CREAMY TWINPACK

5150024404

JIF 15.5 OUNCE NO ADDED SUGAR PEANUT BUTTER

5150024540

JIF 13 OUNCE SQUEEZABLE POUCH

5150024545

JIF 13 OUNCE SQUEEZABLE POUCH

5150024545

JIF 13 OUNCE NATURAL SQUEEZE POUCH

5150024572

JIF 13 OUNCE NATURAL SQUEEZE POUCH

5150024572

JIF 80 OUNCE CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER TWIN PACK

5150024769

JIF 80 OUNCE CRUNCHY PEANUT BUTTER TWIN PACK

5150024776

JIF 40 OUNCE REDUCED FAT CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER

5150025499

JIF 16 OUNCE CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER

5150025516

JIF 16 OZ REDUCED FAT CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER

5150025518

JIF 16 OUNCE CREAMY OMEGA 3 PEANUT BUTTER

5150025530

JIF 16 OUNCE CRUNCHY PEANUT BUTTER

5150025537

JIF 80 OUNCE NATURAL CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER TWIN PACK

5150025542

JIF 16 OUNCE NATURAL CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER

5150025565

JIF 16 OUNCE NATURAL CRUNCHY PEANUT BUTTER

5150025574

JIF 16 OUNCE NATURAL CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER HONEY

5150025578

JIF 40 OUNCE CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER

5150072001

JIF 40 OUNCE CRUNCHY PEANUT BUTTER

5150072002

JIF TO GO 8 PACK 250 GRAM CREAMY

5150075007

JIF 46.5 OUNCE NO ADDED SUGAR PEANUT BUTTER

5150041418

JIF 1.1 OUNCE PORTION CONTROL PEANUT BUTTER 120 COUNT

5150092100

JIF 96 OUNCE CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER TWIN PACK

5150024705

JIF 28 OUNCE CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER

5150024177

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People urged to cook frozen fruit and vegetables because of Listeria findings

17 hours 40 min ago

Listeria monocytogenes has been detected in a number of frozen vegetables tested in Ireland.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) said findings show a potential risk of illness for consumers who have non-ready-to-eat (RTE) frozen vegetables, fruits or herbs without cooking.

After a 2015 to 2018 listeriosis outbreak in Europe traced to uncooked non-RTE frozen sweetcorn and other vegetables, a national microbiological survey on frozen vegetables, fruits and herbs sold in Ireland was done between August and November 2019 by the FSAI. More than 50 people were sick from five countries and 10 died in the outbreak linked to vegetables made by Greenyard in Hungary.

Of 906 samples tested for Listeria monocytogenes in Ireland, 27 were positive, and 21 were non-RTE frozen vegetables. It was detected in four samples of RTE frozen fruits and two RTE frozen vegetables.

Low levels but a risk with frequent consumption
Listeria monocytogenes was below the limit of detection at under 10 colony forming units per gram (cfu/g) for most samples, apart from three which were non-RTE frozen petit pois, non-RTE frozen diced onion, and frozen chopped basil.

The work found such low levels posed a minimal risk to people who are in good health.

“However, the risk could be higher for consumers who are immunocompromised, or if consumer preparation and handling practices allow any of the Listeria monocytogenes contamination present in the non-RTE frozen vegetables to increase at the point of consumption to levels high enough to potentially cause listeriosis,” said the study.

Of 828 samples tested for Listeria spp., 37 were positive. No samples were contaminated with Salmonella.

Presence of E. coli as a hygiene indicator was assessed in 887 frozen vegetable, fruit and herb samples. Ten were contaminated with E. coli at levels of between 20 and 100 cfu/g and two were RTE frozen vegetables. There were two non-RTE samples of frozen spinach with E. coli levels of 1,100 cfu/g and 570 cfu/g.

Clear instructions to consumers to fully cook frozen vegetables intended by the manufacturer to be non-RTE was lacking on the packaging of 37 of 399 samples tested.

Pamela Byrne, FSAI chief executive, said caterers and food service businesses must ensure they follow the manufacturers’ instructions when preparing food for customers.

“It is vital that food manufacturers follow best practice guidelines and ensure frozen products that are not RTE are clearly labelled as such, with clear cooking instructions. They also need to ensure there are no serving suggestions presented on the packaging which could suggest that the products can be eaten thawed without prior cooking,” she said.

Public polling results
A survey was commissioned by safefood between January and March 2020 to understand the consumption habits of adults living on the island of Ireland in relation to uncooked RTE and non-RTE frozen vegetables, fruits and herbs. More than 800 participants were interviewed in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

A third regularly ate more than one type of frozen vegetables, fruits and/or herbs uncooked. Frozen fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and mixed berries were most likely to be consumed without cooking, mainly in a dessert or smoothie.

Uncooked frozen vegetables such as sweetcorn, carrots, peas, peppers and spinach were also eaten by a few as part of a salad or as a garnish.

Just over half of adults had heard of Listeria. A wide variety of foods were associated with Listeria, with meat and chicken/poultry topping the list. One in five people had previously heard about the 2015 to 2018 outbreak of listeriosis linked to frozen vegetables.

The consumer survey showed that 203 adults in Ireland said they regularly consumed frozen sweetcorn but only 21 said they would eat it uncooked. A quarter said that sweetcorn does not need to be cooked before eating. The microbiological survey found that 9.8 percent of frozen sweetcorn samples were contaminated with low levels of Listeria monocytogenes.

Overall, 85 respondents said they either rarely or never follow cooking instructions on the packaging of vegetables, fruits and herbs when preparing frozen food for vulnerable groups.

Combining results from both surveys shows there were a small proportion of non-RTE frozen vegetables which some consumers said they regularly consume uncooked and that were contaminated with low levels of Listeria monocytogenes.

Gary A Kearney, interim safefood chief executive, said if a product says “cook before eating” people should always follow that advice.

“We know from social media that there’s a growing trend for people to eat frozen fruit and vegetables raw in things like smoothies and salads. While the risk of contracting a Listeria infection is low, it’s still a risk you can avoid by reading the manufacturer’s instructions and cooking these frozen foods before you eat them,” he said.

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90 tons of bacon topping recalled because of metal pieces

May 20, 2022 - 3:58pm

Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp. of Sioux Center, IA, is recalling 185,610 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) bacon topping products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically metal.

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today that the problem was discovered after the firm received a customer complaint reporting they found metal in the RTE bacon topping product.

These items were shipped to distributors and retail locations nationwide. Some of the bacon product may have been used to produce other products. FSIS expects there to be additional products recalled containing the bacon. 

The RTE item was produced on various dates between Feb. 21 to Feb. 23 and March 3 to March 5. 

Recalled product:      

  • 5-lb. packages containing “Golden Crisp PATRICK CUDAHY PRECOOKED BACON TOPPING” SKU 43200 12002 with lot codes 2054, 2062 and 2063.
  • 5-lb. packages containing “Smithfield PRECOOKED BACON TOPPING” SKU 43200 12003 with lot codes 2063 and 2064.
  • 5-lb. packages containing “Golden Crisp PATRICK CUDAHY FULLY COOKED BACON TOPPING APPLEWOOD SMOKED” SKU 43200 12296 with lot codes 2053 and 2062.
  • 5-lb. packages containing “Smithfield FULLY COOKED BACON TOPPING” SKU 43200 12663 with lot code 2064.
  • 5-lb. packages containing “MEMBER’S MARK FULLY COOKED BACON CRUMBLES” SKU 78742240923 with “BEST IF USED BY” date of “2022-11-18.”

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 27384” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to distributors and retail locations nationwide. Some of the bacon product may have been used to produce other products.

As of the posting of this recall, there have been no confirmed reports of injuries or adverse reactions due to the consumption of these products. 

FSIS is concerned that some products may be in consumers’ refrigerators or found at distributor and retail locations. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. Additionally, distributors and retailers are urged not to sell these products. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

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QueensMade drinks recalled in Cincinnati over lack of inspection

May 20, 2022 - 1:15pm

QueensMade Lemonade LLC Cincinnati is recalling all its juice-type products, including all lemonade flavors as well as its Ginger Turmeric shots. The products included in this recall are adulterated because they were produced without the benefit of inspection and the safety parameters were not able to be verified.

The juice products were sold at various retail locations, restaurants, and mobile food trucks throughout the Cincinnati area.

Recalled products:

  • QueensMade Lemonade
    16oz. plastic bottle and 32 oz plastic jug
  • QueensMade Mixed Berry Lemonade
    16oz. plastic bottle
  • QueensMade Strawberry Lemonade
    16oz. plastic bottle and 32 oz plastic jug
  • QueensMade Mango Lemonade
    16oz. plastic bottle
  • QueensMade Munkfruit Lemonade
    16oz. plastic bottle
  • Ginger Turmeric shots

Point-of-sale locations include:

  • Curb Master Food Truck
  • BP Oil Gas Station-6464 Winton Road, Cincinnati
  • Jo Jo Fish and Chicken-979 Hawthorne Avenue, Cincinnati
  • Supreme Styles Barber Shop-1569 Chase Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45223
  • Facebook

As of the posting of this recall, there have been no reports of illness involving these products.

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Advocates want answers from feds on infant formula outbreak and shortage; Congress, Biden act to ease situation

May 20, 2022 - 12:06am

The shortage of infant formula and the food safety reason behind it are front and center for groups like Consumer Reports and the Environmental Working Group, which are calling on Congress to take action.

Representatives from both organizations discussed problems with the internal structure at the Food and Drug Administration and how that complicated the situation involving Abbott Nutrition and the current shortage of infant formula that is plaguing parents across the country. In relation to an outbreak, the company initiated a massive recall that is behind the current formula shortage.

A media call yesterday gave the consumer advocates the chance to raise questions.

Scott Faber, senior vice president for governmental affairs with the Environmental Working Group (EWG), said there are four lines of questioning that should be pursued by lawmakers.

First, the EWG and other consumer groups want to know what happened with a 33-page whistleblower document that was sent to the FDA in October 2021. It laid out numerous violations of company policy and federal regulations at Abbott Nutrition’s infant formula plant in Sturgis, MI. Infant formula from the plant has been associated with an outbreak of cronobactor infections that put four babies in the hospital, with two dying.

The whistleblower document was sent to some officials at FDA but was apparently not shared with key food safety officials. Also, the agency did not appear to begin any investigation based on the document, which U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-CT, entered into the congressional record this month.

Second, Faber and Brian Ronholm who is Director of Food Policy for Consumer Reports (CR) both want to know why the FDA took so long to begin investigating consumer complaints related to infant illnesses and formula produced at the Sturgis plant. The complaints span from 2019 through 2021, but the FDA did not begin inspections related to them until January this year.

Third, officials at both the EWG and CR want to know how much the fragmented organization of top food safety entities in FDA contributed to the mishandling of the investigation into Abbott. They said FDA Commissioner Robert Califf should immediately act to put a deputy director of food safety in place with that person directly reporting to the commissioner and serving as the immediate supervisor of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Nutrition. Currently there is a shotgun approach with people in charge of various food safety responsibilities at FDA reporting directly to the commissioner instead of having a chain of command structure.

Fourth, the consumer groups want to know why FDA inspections have dropped since the signing of the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011. “Why is the FDA treating the inspection numbers in FSMA as a ceiling instead of a floor,” Faber asked.

Ronholm said it is clear that public confidence in the FDA is eroding and the situation with the Abbott infant formula contaminated plant and subsequent infant formula shortage is only making things worse.

“Those of us familiar with the situation often say that the ‘F’ in FDA is silent,” Ronholm said, adding that the agency is responsible for overseeing 80 percent of food in the country. He said the lack of a single, empowered person at the top of the food chain at FDA is crucial for better oversight and the safety of the U.S. food supply. 

Also, Ronholm said, the FDA Commissioner has in recent years been a medical professional focused on the drug side of the agency, which has further diminished the work of the food side. Current commissioner Califf has proposed that Janet Woodcock oversee possible changes for the food side of the agency.

“There’s no way that Dr. Woodcock can really lead the culture change that’s needed in the food program, or even lead things operationally given the scope and the responsibilities under that,” Ronholm said.

That’s our initial reaction to what Dr. Califf is proposing, I think, extremely disappointing and just an affront to anyone working on policy. Especially when you consider that Dr. Woodcock is extremely qualified on the medical products pharmaceutical products set of things, but he really has no real background on food policy. So it’s kind of an insult to those of us who dedicate our lives to working on food policy.”

Other related news
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved $28 million to help alleviate the infant formula shortage.

If approved by the Senate, the measure would provide emergency funding for the Food and Drug Administration in an effort to help alleviate the current shortfall and head off future shortages. The bill was approved by a tally of 231 to 192.

The emergency funding would be used to increase the number of FDA inspection staff, provide resources for personnel working on formula issues, help the agency stop fraudulent baby formula from entering the United States’ marketplace, and improve data collection on the formula market, according to a release from the House Appropriations Committee.

“This bill is the first step to help restock shelves and end this shortage,” House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat who introduced the legislation said.

“Parents and caretakers across the country cannot wait — they need our support now. This bill takes important steps to restore supply in a safe and secure manner. Additionally, with these funds, FDA will be able to help to prevent this issue from occurring again.”

The House is set to begin a hearing on the situation with Abbott, the infant formula shortage, and the reasons behind it on May 25.

On the Senate side of the Capitol, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden sent a letter to Abbott CEO Robert Ford requesting information on the company’s tax practices and $8 billion stock buybacks the company has authorized since 2019.

Wyden also requested information on how much money Abbott spent to upgrade an infant formula plant Michigan prior to its closure due to bacterial contamination. The senator also asked whether Abbott used billions of dollars in tax cuts to buy back shares rather than to invest in improvements at the facility in Sturgis. 

Lastly, President Biden on Wednesday invoked the Defense Production Act to address the infant formula shortage in the United States. The White House announced in a fact sheet that Biden would use the Cold War-era law to require suppliers to “direct needed resources to infant formula manufacturers before any other customer who may have ordered that good.”

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EU court rules on Lithuanian Salmonella in chicken case

May 20, 2022 - 12:05am

A European court has ruled on a case involving how national authorities handle detection of Salmonella types in chicken meat that are not listed in EU regulation.

The request for a ruling was made in a case between Romega UAB, a poultry meat wholesaler, and the State Food and Veterinary Service (VMVT) in Lithuania regarding the decision by VMVT to fine Romega and order the firm to withdraw poultry because of findings of certain Salmonella types.

Proceedings at the European Court of Justice were a step in the action before the national court in Lithuania.

Incident background and different perspectives
In October 2018, after detection of Salmonella Kentucky in fresh poultry meat imported from Poland, Lithuanian authorities inspected Romega. During the visit, officials found this Salmonella type in fresh poultry meat that Romega had placed on the market. In early April 2019, the authority fined Romega €540 ($568).

In mid-April 2019, the Lithuanian authority, after having identified Salmonella Infantis in fresh poultry meat sold by Romega, prohibited the firm from continuing to place such meat in commerce and ordered it to withdraw and destroy products already sent to market.

Romega brought an action before the Regional Administrative Court in Vilnius seeking annulment of the fine and the later decision. This was dismissed in July 2019 but Romega appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania.

The company cited EU regulation that only prohibits the presence in fresh poultry meat of Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium. According to Romega, the finding of other Salmonella types such as Kentucky or Infantis does not enable such products to be seen as unsafe food.

VMVT believed it could undertake further sampling and analyses for other Salmonella types not covered in the relevant legislation. The fact that the two Salmonella types listed have not been detected does not automatically mean products are safe to eat.

The referring court in Lithuania said it was uncertain about the scope of the authorities’ discretion to check for the presence in fresh poultry meat of Salmonella types or pathogenic microorganisms other than those listed in EU rules.

Action if suspicion that food is unsafe
Lithuanian, Czech and Italian governments and the EU Commission said that although Salmonella Kentucky and Infantis appear to be less prevalent than Salmonella Typhimurium and Enteritidis, adverse health effects cannot be ruled out.

European regulation states that an authority can do further sampling and analyses to detect other microorganisms either as a verification of processes, for food suspected of being unsafe, or for risk analysis.

Although the microbiological criteria in Regulation 2073/2005 apply only to certain pathogens, the law states an authority does not have to restrict itself, when analyzing food, to verifying whether only those microorganisms are present.

The EU Court of Justice found the rules must be interpreted as meaning that a national authority may judge fresh poultry meat to be unsafe if pathogenic microorganisms other than the two Salmonella types listed in EU regulation have been detected.

The judgement added it was for the national court to determine if the presence of Salmonella Kentucky and Infantis can justify the measures adopted by the authority as appropriate.

VMVT director, Mantas Staškevičius, said there are many Salmonella serotypes that pose a risk to human health, but not all of them are listed in EU legislation.

“Although the company has tried to appeal against the fact that the regulation does not list the bacteria found in the meat they imported, the EU court has clarified that only safe food must reach consumers. We have not and will not compromise on food safety. This decision of the court confirmed that we are right,” he said.

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First signs that the executives may remove FSIS from remote controls

May 20, 2022 - 12:04am

It costs the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) more than $1 billion a year for close to 10,000 inspectors to provide their services at more than 6,200 locations where the private sector produces meat and egg products.

For the past two years, a few executives in Washington D.C., especially the four who report their meetings with people outside the federal government, claim to be managing this mammoth structure only by telephonic or virtual means.

The public calendar issued by FSIS lists meetings held by the Under Secretary and Deputy Under Secretary, Office of Food Safety (OFS), and the Administrator and Deputy Administrator for FSIS with persons outside the federal government.

Because of the pandemic, Mindy Brashears, then Undersecretary for Food Safety, and FSIS Administrator Paul Kiecker ceased holding in-person meetings.

With the new administration in 2021, Sandra Eskin, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, and Kiecker have continued with only telephone or virtual meetings. However, that may be changing.

In March 2022, the most recent public calendar available at FSIS reports two apparent in-person meetings held by Eskin.

She reports meeting about worker safety with Robert Harrison, University of California San Francisco; David Rempel, University of California San Francisco; Carisa Harris-Adamson, University of California San Francisco; and Kathy Fagan, former OSHA staffer, in San Franciso on March 16.

Then on March 30, Eskin reports a meeting about food safety at Campfire Studios in Washington D.C. Whether those two in-person meetings are ice-breakers, marking an end to FSIS remote operations remains to be seen.

Eskin’s telephonic and virtual meetings continued to dominate during March. On her dance card were:

  • Katie Stolte-Carroll, Ohio State University (OSU); Barbara Kowalcyk, OSU; Janet Buffer, OSU; Gina Nicholson Kramer, OSU; Kara Morgan, OSU; Patricia Buck, Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention (CFI); Teresa Schwartz, CFI; Tanya Roberts, CFI and Caren Wilcox, Caren Wilcox & Associates.
  • Mike Taylor, Stop Foodborne Illness.
  • Ashley Peterson, National Chicken Council.
  • Casey Gallimore, North American Meat Institute (NAMI); Mark Dopp, NAMI; Norm Robertson, NAMI; Ashley Peterson, National Chicken Council; Chris Young, American Association of Meat Processors; Emily Solis, Animal Agriculture Alliance; Hannah Thompson-Weeman, Animal Agriculture Alliance; Joe Harris, Southwest Meat Association; and Lindy Froebel, National Turkey Federation.
  • Marie March, Virginia House of Delegates; Caleb Cruey, Virginia House of Delegates; Mike Watson, Carroll County Administrator; Larry Edwards, Carroll County EDA Chairman;
    Moir Beamer, VA Produce; Kevin Semones, Southwest Virginia Farmer Market; Danny Boyer, Blue Ridge Plateau
  • Angie Siemens, Cargill.
  • Mike Taylor, Stop Foodborne Illness; Mike Robach, Cargill.
  • Patricia Buck, The Ohio State University; Thomas Gremillion, Consumer Federation.

The President nominated Dr. Jose Emilio Esteban to be the next Undersecretary for Food Safety this past Nov. 15. But the Senate has not confirmed the appointment. Esteban is currently FSIS’s chief scientist.

Eskin and Kiecker did not leave industry and consumer lobbyists wandering the halls at FSIS. They’ve continued to hold call-in meetings for each group on a monthly basis. And Kiecker again did a separate meeting with those involved with establishment management.

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Children falling sick as parents switch off refrigerators to save money

May 20, 2022 - 12:02am

Children in England are suffering food poisoning because domestic refrigerators are being turned off to save money, according to multiple reports.

Truro Food Bank told the BBC it has had reports of children having upset stomachs, or food poisoning, because some parents are turning their fridges and freezers off overnight to save electricity as rising bills are putting extra pressure on families. Young children are especially vulnerable to small amounts of bacteria that cause food poisoning. Turning these appliances off means food spoils quicker.

Chilling food properly helps stop harmful bacteria from growing. Some items need to be chilled for safety reasons, such as raw, ready-to-eat and cooked food. The fridge should be 5 degrees C (41 degrees F) or below. Food in a freezer won’t deteriorate and most bacteria cannot grow in it but it needs to be defrosted safely, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Recent figures from the Trussell Trust showed food banks in the charity’s network provided more than 2.1 million parcels to people across the country from April 2021 to March 2022.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: “People are telling us they’re skipping meals so they can feed their children. That they are turning off essential appliances so they can afford internet access for their kids to do their homework.

“And yet food banks in our network tell us this is only set to get worse as their communities are pushed deeper into financial hardship. No-one’s income should fall so dangerously low that they cannot afford to stay fed, warm and dry.”

A previous FSA survey found the proportion of people who reported food insecurity, through cutting the size or skipping meals for financial reasons, use of food banks or local authority support, had increased from April 2020 to October 2021.

Those who said they cut or skipped meals because of money issues were significantly more likely to eat food such as cheese, smoked fish, cooked meat, bagged salad and milk past the use-by date.

Other research looking at changes in eating habits in the past 12 months found some people had bought food close to its use-by date more, had eaten food past this date more and kept leftovers for longer before eating.

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USDA issues public health alert over Walmart ham that was not fully cooked

May 19, 2022 - 1:55pm

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a public health alert for ready-to-eat (RTE), Great Value Black Forest Ham produced by Plumrose USA, doing business as Swift Prepared Foods because the product may not be fully cooked. 

The problem was discovered when the firm identified product that did not appear to be fully cooked, which prompted the establishment to perform an investigation and notify FSIS of their findings that the ham was underprocessed.

The item was shipped to Walmart stores in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

FSIS is concerned that some products may be in consumers’ refrigerators or freezers.

The recalled item was produced from April 28 through May 1. The following product is subject to the public health alert:

  • 1-lb resealable plastic packages containing “Great Value Black Forest Ham Water Added” with a “BEST IF USED BY 07/15/22” date.

The product subject to this public health alert bears the establishment number “EST. 26C” inside the USDA mark of inspection.

FSIS is issuing this public health alert to ensure that consumers are aware that this product should not be consumed. A recall was not requested because it is believed that the product is no longer available for consumers to purchase.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to the 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.

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Publisher’s Platform: Mr. Abbott, you are going to face criminal sanctions

May 19, 2022 - 12:06am

– OPINION –

According to the CDC and FDA, at least 4 kids were sickened and of those two died, from drinking Abbott infant formula. Abbott denies the connection.  However, the resulting investigation and inspection (and whistleblower documents) uncovered enough problems in the Abbott facility to shutter it causing havoc with supplies of infant formula. The facility is now set to reopen, but not before the U.S. Attorney sued Abbott and several employees. In the complaint, filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the FDA, the government alleges that powdered infant formula products manufactured at Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis facility were adulterated because they were made under insanitary conditions and in violation of current good manufacturing practice requirements.

Abbott is essentially confessing to the violations in the below consent decree. Under the proposed consent decree, Abbott Nutrition will be required to retain an independent expert to review the Sturgis facility’s operations to ensure compliance with the law. It also includes requirements for testing products, as well as ceasing production, and promptly notifying the FDA should contamination be detected. The proposed consent decree also requires the implementation of a sanitation plan, environmental monitoring plan and employee training programs.

Here are the key documents:

Here is the 2021 inspection report at the plant – APPLIED – FOI II – BR Abbott Nutritions- FEI# 1815692 9-2021 EIR.

Here are the whistleblower documents – Redacted Confidential Disclosure re Abbott Laboratories – 10-19-2021_Redacted (1)

Here is the 2022 inspection report at the plant – Updated Final Applied_Unapplied Redactions Abbott Nutrition Sturgis FEI 1815692 FDA 483 1-31022 to 3-16-22 – ISSUED_Redacted

Here is the complaint – abbott_complaint_0

Here is the consent decree – abbott_proposed_consent_decree_0

Please read the above and ask the question: is this how infant formula should have been manufactured?

So, what gives the government the right to charge a company and certain employees with either a felony or a misdemeanor?

Congress passed the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in 1938 in reaction to growing public safety demands.  The primary goal of the Act was to protect the health and safety of the public by preventing deleterious, adulterated or misbranded articles from entering interstate commerce.  Under section 402(a)(4) of the Act, a food product is deemed “adulterated” if the food was “prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby it may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby it may have been rendered injurious to health.” A food product is also considered “adulterated” if it bears or contains any poisonous or deleterious substance, which may render it injurious to health.  The 1938 Act, and the recently signed Food Safety Modernization Act, stand today as the primary means by which the federal government enforces food safety standards.

Chapter III of the Act addresses prohibited acts, subjecting violators to both civil and criminal liability. Provisions for criminal sanctions are clear:

Felony violations include adulterating or misbranding a food, drug, or device, and putting an adulterated or misbranded food, drug, or device into interstate commerce.  Any person who commits a prohibited act violates the FDCA.  A person committing a prohibited act “with the intent to defraud or mislead” is guilty of a felony punishable by years in jail and millions in fines or both.

A misdemeanor conviction under the FDCA, unlike a felony conviction, does not require proof of fraudulent intent, or even of knowing or willful conduct.  Rather, a person may be convicted if he or she held a position of responsibility or authority in a firm such that the person could have prevented the violation.  Convictions under the misdemeanor provisions are punishable by not more than one year or fined not more than $250,000, or both.

The legal jargon aside, if you are a producer of food and knowingly or not manufacturer and sell adulterated food, you can (and should) face fines and jail time.

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More than 300 sick in Ferrero chocolate Salmonella outbreak

May 19, 2022 - 12:05am

More than 300 people from 16 countries have been sickened in a Salmonella outbreak linked to Kinder chocolate made by Ferrero in Belgium.

A total of 324 cases have been reported from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Canada and the United States are also affected.

The number of people sick has more than doubled since a previous assessment in April by the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Hundreds of people, mainly children, sick
The UK is the main country affected with 109 monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium patients, France has 81, Belgium has 64 and Switzerland has 43. The United States and Canada both have one each. The Canadian case is a child under the age of 10 with a symptom onset date of Feb. 19. The U.S. patient was reported from the state of Illinois.

Almost 200 people have been interviewed and 170 reported consumption of chocolate products made by Ferrero.

However, eight cases cannot be explained by chocolates manufactured at the Arlon, Belgium factory, suggesting there may be other sources of infection, said ECDC and EFSA. These patients did eat different products made by Ferrero but it is not known where they were made.

Most cases are children under the age of 10 and females are more affected than males. From those with available data, almost half have been hospitalized but no deaths have been recorded.

Positive Salmonella results
Belgian authorities reported 81 samples from finished and semi-finished products, intermediate products, raw materials, environmental swabs and rinse oil samples taken in company checks at the plant from early December 2021 to late January 2022 tested positive for Salmonella. In April, seven samples from finished products tested positive for Salmonella.

Production was stopped on Dec. 16, restarted on Jan. 3, stopped again on Jan. 7 and resumed a few days later.

Belgian officials stopped production at the facility in early April but it could reopen next month with provisional authorization which would be evaluated after three months.

Salmonella positive items were destroyed, the production line was cleaned and an internal investigation launched. Production restarted after negative tests for Salmonella, and all final products were released after a negative result of the tested batch.

A recall has been issued but potentially contaminated products have still been found on sale. Cost of the Ferrero recall could exceed $60 million, according to insurance firm Lockton.

Buttermilk from Italian company
The average time from production to retail is 60 days so the first sampled case in the UK on Dec. 21, 2021, is very unlikely to be explained by contamination detected in the plant in December 2021. This suggests that contamination in the factory occurred earlier than December 2021, said EFSA and ECDC.

Two types of monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium matching the outbreak strains were identified in the buttermilk line at Ferrero’s plant between December 2021 and January 2022. Buttermilk was provided by an Italian supplier where Salmonella was not detected. This firm also sent buttermilk to other plants of Ferrero and Salmonella has not been detected.

There are two Salmonella strains involved, both are multidrug-resistant, and some isolates carry resistance to disinfectants based on quaternary ammonium compounds and hydrogen peroxide, but remain susceptible to azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, meropenem, and third generation cephalosporins.

Chocolate produced in Belgium was distributed to at least 113 countries.

The first patient was reported in the UK on Jan. 7, with a sampling date of Dec. 21, 2021. The UK issued a notice on a European platform on Feb. 17 and another alert on March 25. It notified the WHO about the cluster of monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium on March 27.

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FDA continues to investigate outbreaks including infant formula and Lucky Charms

May 19, 2022 - 12:04am

The FDA has closed investigations into three outbreaks, but has left the status “ongoing” for one of them.

In an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections that the Food and Drug Administration began investigating on Feb. 9, the patient count stands at 20. The agency is leaving the status of the outbreak as ongoing, but has closed its investigation.

“The investigation status is now ‘closed’ as of May 18, 2022, because there is not enough evidence to identify a vehicle. The outbreak status is listed as ‘ongoing’ because the most recent date an illness began is April 20, 2022, and it can take several weeks to months for someone to have symptoms of listeriosis after being infected,” according to an update from FDA.

An outbreak of Norovirus linked to the consumption of raw oysters from British Columbia, Canada, has ended and FDA’s investigation has closed. The oysters in question were shipped to 13 states in the U.S. and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a total of 103 illnesses from the affected states. The Canadian Broadcasting Company reports that the investigation in that county is ongoing with sewage a likely source of the contamination.

The FDA’s investigation into a cronobacter outbreak linked to infant formula from Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, MI, production plant has ended, even though the agency continues its work on the situation. The CDC declared the outbreak over as of May 12 with four infants sickened and two dead.

The infant formula plant remains closed but it could reopen in two weeks if a federal court approves a consent decree in which Abbott agrees to operate under strict supervision by the FDA. The closure has fueled a nationwide shortage of infant formula, spurring congressional hearings and calls from the White House for action to resolve the situation as soon as possible while maintaining safety standards. Five strains of cronobacter bacteria have been found in the plant, though none of them are an exact match for the strains that sickened two of the infants. The strains for the other two infants is unknown.

In other outbreak news the FDA continues to investigate reports of “adverse events” in relation to a dry cereal that the FDA has said is Lucky Charms made by General Mills. The patient count has increased to 558, up by three from a week ago. The FDA has begun an on-site inspection and sample testing but has not released any other details about the investigation.

An investigation into an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections from an unknown source continues with the patient count holding steady at 19. The FDA began the investigation on Feb. 13 and has initiated traceback efforts but has not reported what is being traced. The agency has not released any other details about the situation.

One other investigation is ongoing with the FDA and involves a meal replacement drink. Six patients have reported adverse events but the FDA has not reported any other patient details. The agency has begun traceback and sample testing efforts but has not named a specific product.

Additional outbreak information
The table below shows information about outbreak investigations being managed by FDA’s CORE Response Teams. The investigations are in a variety of stages. Some outbreaks have limited information with active investigations ongoing, others may be near completion. The table below has been abbreviated to show only active investigations.

A public health advisory will be issued for investigations that have resulted in specific, actionable steps for consumers to take to protect themselves, according to the FDA. Please direct your attention to those pages for the most up to date information on the investigation and for consumer protection information.

Outbreak and adverse event investigations that do not result in specific, actionable steps for consumers may or may not conclusively identify a source or reveal any contributing factors. Adverse event investigations rely on self-reported data. Although these reports may name a particular product, FDA will only indicate a product category in the table and will not publicly name a specific product until there is sufficient evidence to implicate that product as a cause of illnesses or adverse events. If a cause and/or contributing factors are identified that could inform future prevention, FDA commits to providing a summary of those findings.

To view the FDA page with links to specific information on individual outbreaks, please click here

Click on table to enlarge. Use link above to go to the FDA page with links to more specific outbreak information.

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Study finds high levels of AMR Salmonella in pork in Vietnam

May 19, 2022 - 12:02am

Researchers have highlighted high levels of drug resistant Salmonella in pork in Vietnam.

Efforts were led by scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in England who looked at antibiotic resistance in Salmonella strains isolated from pork meat at food retail outlets.

Researchers studied multi-drug resistance — when a strain shows resistance to different antimicrobials and looked for the mcr-1 gene, which can give high-level resistance to the last-resort antibiotic colistin.

They found high levels of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the emergence of colistin resistance, an antibiotic used to treat against multi-drug resistant (MDR) pathogens. Findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Sciences.

The study investigated the antibiotic susceptibility of 69 Salmonella isolates collected from retail outlets and slaughterhouses in Vietnam during 2014 and 2018/19. Isolates came from the PigRISK project, conducted from 2012 to 2017, and SafePORK project, from 2017 to 2022, which aims to reduce the burden of foodborne illness in Vietnam.

Scientists looked at slaughterhouses and pork samples from retail outlets classed as wet markets, supermarkets or “boutiques” – where retailers claim the pork is high quality, traceable and environmentally friendly. These outlets typically target higher income consumers and were created in 2016 to address public concerns about food safety and provide products that meet safety requirements.

Seventeen different serotypes were identified, of which Salmonella Typhimurium was the most common, followed by Salmonella Rissen, London, Anatum, and Derby.

At least half of the isolates were resistant to ampicillin, tetracycline, chloramphenicol and trimethoprim. MDR was present in 41 isolates from 12 serotypes.

Colistin and high end retail findings
Niamh Holohan, from the department of infection biology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the research helps quantify the problem.

“Pork accounts for 70 percent of the total meat consumed in Vietnam, meaning contaminated pork poses a risk to a large number of consumers there. The prevalence of colistin resistance is particularly concerning, as this is really the last line of defense to treat invasive infections in a clinical setting. It’s important that we have this data and quantify the problem accurately, so that we can design the best strategies to try and combat the development of further drug resistance.”

The Vietnamese government introduced a national action plan to monitor AMR in 2017 and a law on animal husbandry in 2018 aiming to eliminate antimicrobial use in animal feeds by 2020.

MDR strains were most common in slaughterhouses and supermarkets and lowest in traditional markets and convenience stores. Colistin resistance was identified in 18 strains with mcr-1 found in seven isolates and mcr-3 in two isolates.

Boutique stores had high levels of MDR including five isolates with mcr-1. The study showed pork from stores like supermarkets or boutiques still contained Salmonella with high levels of AMR.

Richard Stabler, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “The Vietnamese government is working to reduce the use of antimicrobials used in pork production and to give consumers better information on how their food is produced. This work showed that these retrospective samples, even from high end outlets, had concerning levels of drug resistance and further work is needed to see if the situation has improved.”

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CDC says hepatitis cases of unknown origin in children increase dramatically

May 19, 2022 - 12:02am

Investigators with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to look into a nationwide outbreak of hepatitis infections among children. The cause of the infections remains unknown.

As of May 18, there have been 180 patients identified, an increase of 71 from the most recent report on May 5, according to the CDC. Reports of the illnesses of unknown origin date back to October 2021. There are patients in 36 states, but the CDC is not reporting how many cases per state because of patient confidentiality considerations.

“(M)ost of these numbers involve patients that are just now being reported, rather than new cases of hepatitis – so not all are recent, and some may ultimately wind up not being linked to this current investigation,” the CDC reported. 

“Additionally, there have been no reported deaths since February 2022, and the proportion of patients requiring liver transplants has gone down from 15 percent to 9 percent since May 5.”

Although hepatitis viruses can be transmitted via foods and beverages, the CDC has not indicated that these are infection routes for this outbreak.

“CDC continues to examine possible causes, including testing for and ruling out some of the viruses that commonly cause hepatitis — hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. Adenovirus has been detected in nearly half of the children and continues to be a strong lead,” the CDC reports.

The public health agency has contacted doctors and clinicians across the country and is encouraging them to check for hepatitis infections, especially in children younger than 10 years old.

“It’s important to note that severe hepatitis in children remains rare. However, we encourage parents and caregivers to be aware of the symptoms of hepatitis – particularly jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin or eyes – and to contact their child’s healthcare provider with any concern,” the CDC says.

CDC will begin posting regular online updates specific to the number of patients under investigation on a weekly basis.

Person under investigation (PUI) does not mean this person is a confirmed case. The states and CDC are looking broadly — including hepatitis cases of unknown origin in children under 10 years of age, since October, 2021 — so the number  of PUIs may go up or down as CDC and states review medical charts and learn more.

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Sausage sticks and luncheon loaf recalled after consumer finds metal in product

May 18, 2022 - 2:17pm

America New York Ri Wang Food Group Co. Ltd., of Bay Shore, NY, is recalling 14,635 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) sausage sticks and luncheon loaf products because they may be contaminated with metal. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announcement, The problem was discovered after the firm received a consumer complaint reporting they found two metal pieces embedded in a sausage stick.

The recalled products were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

The RTE sausage sticks and luncheon loaf items were produced on various dates from April 5 to May 5. there is concern that consumers may have the products in their homes because of their long shelf life. 

Recalled products:

  • 16-oz. plastic bags containing one luncheon loaf with a “Use/Refreeze by NOV. 11, 2022” date and lot numbers of 422094 and 422110.
  • 23-oz. plastic bags containing 10 sausage sticks with a “Use/Refreeze by NOV. 13, 2022” date and lot numbers of 422094, 422102, 422112, 422116, 522122 and 522124.
  • 10-oz. plastic bags containing four sausage sticks with a “Use/Refreeze by NOV. 13, 2022” date and lot numbers of 422094, 422102, 422112, 422116, 422119, 522122 and 522123.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 40200A” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

As of the posting of this recall, there have been no confirmed reports of injuries or adverse reactions due to the consumption of these products. 

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.

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Skittles, Starburst and Life Savers Gummies recalled in Canada over metal pieces in product

May 18, 2022 - 1:53pm

Mars Wrigley Canada is recalling certain varieties of Skittles Gummies, Starburst Gummies, and Life Savers Gummies because of the pieces of metal in the product.

Mars Wrigley Confectionery US, LLC received reports from consumers alerting them to this matter but they are not aware of any illnesses to date, according to a recall notice posted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

A similar recall is already underway in the United States.

The recalled products were sold nationally in Canada. The products were also recalled in the U.S.

Recalled products:

Brand Product Size UPC Codes Life Savers Gummies, Sours 180 g 0 64900 42970 5 Manufacturing codes starting with 139 to 201 Skittles Gummies, Original 57 g 0 58496 46078 5 Manufacturing codes starting with 139 to 218 Skittles Gummies, Original 164 g 0 58496 46084 6 Manufacturing codes starting with 139 to 218 Skittles Gummies, Original 280 g 0 58496 46086 0 Manufacturing codes starting with 139 to 218 Skittles Gummies, Berry 164 g 0 58496 46088 4 Manufacturing codes starting with 138 to 218 Skittles Gummies, Berry 280 g 0 58496 46090 7 Manufacturing codes starting with 138 to 218 Starburst Gummies, Original 164 g 0 64900 43137 1 Manufacturing codes starting with 136 to 140 Starburst Gummies, Sours 164 g 0 64900 43138 8 Manufacturing codes starting with 134 to 142 Starburst Gummies, Sour Berries 164 g 0 64900 23277 0 Manufacturing codes starting with 135 to 139

The recalled products should not be used, sold, served or distributed.

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Cocktail sauce recalled in Canada because of spoilage

May 18, 2022 - 1:15pm

Canadian Choice Wholesalers is recalling Suzie’s brand Organic Cocktail Sauce because of spoilage.

The recalled product was sold in Alberta and British Columbia, according to the recall notice posted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency..

Recalled product:

Brand Product Size UPC Codes Suzie’s Organic Cocktail Sauce 237 mL Best if used by 10/07/22 0 47281 20142 9

Consumers are advised to not use, sell, serve or distribute the affected product.

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Committee’s disinterest in food safety may be reason for delaying confirmation

May 18, 2022 - 12:05am

It’s been six months since the White House announced President Biden was appointing  Dr. Jose Emilio Esteban to serve as USDA’s Undersecretary for Food Safety, and nothing more has happened.

By protocol, the undersecretary is the top food safety post in the federal government.  But that has not made any difference to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, where the Esteban appointment has remained week after week, and month after month awaiting a needed confirmation hearing that has not occurred.

It’s now likely that if Esteban ever does win U.S. Senate confirmation, he will be among the last of Biden’s original appointments to do so. About 100 of the top 700 Biden executive appointments still require Senate confirmation.

Esteban needs to have his nomination heard and recommended to the full Senate before his confirmation vote.  He is no closer to accomplishing those steps than he was six months ago.

If confirmed by the Senate,  Esteban would become the sixth  Senate-confirmed undersecretary for food safety since Congress created the executive position in 1994. The Senate Agriculture Committee has not said whether disinterest in USDA food safety or some other reason is why it is letting the Esteban nomination languish.

Esteban is a veteran of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), where he worked since 2001, becoming its chief scientist in 2018. His official USDA biolography makes these points:

  • Dr. J. Emilio Esteban was appointed as chief scientist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service in August 2018. In this capacity, Dr. Esteban serves as the primary scientific advisor on matters of public health and food safety that affect the mission of the agency, with primary responsibility for scientific initiatives within the Office of Public Health Science (OPHS). Dr. Esteban’s efforts directly support FSIS’ Strategic Goals 1: Prevent Foodborne Illness and Protect Public Health, and 2: Modernize Inspection Systems, Policies, and the Use of Scientific Approaches.
  • “In 2002, Dr. Esteban joined OPHS as the director of the Western Laboratory. In this role, he directed the implementation of the sampling program and was responsible for the physical plant, equipment and personnel infrastructure. In 2008, he was appointed as the FSIS science advisor for laboratory services, where he harmonized the operation of all three FSIS laboratories, maintained operations to meet with the ISO17025 standard, and coordinated emergency response.
  • “Prior to joining FSIS, Dr. Esteban worked in several positions at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). From 1994 to 2002, he was as an epidemic intelligence service officer; a staff epidemiologist in the National Center for Environmental Health; and an assistant director for the CDC Food Safety Office.
  • “He received his doctorate in veterinary medicine from Mexico’s National University, a master’s of business administration from the Panamerican Institute, and a master’s of preventive veterinary medicine, as well as a doctorate in epidemiology from the University of California at Davis.”

The Office of the Undersecretary for Food Safety has remained vacant since last Inauguration Day, when, Mindy Brashears who was Undersecretary for Food Safety during the Trump Administration left government

The USDA’s undersecretary for food safety is the federal government’s top food safety position, responsible for oversight of FSIS along with other duties. The undersecretary chairs the U.S. Codex Steering Committee, which provides guidance to U.S. delegations to the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

The White House on May 13 announced the appointment of Stacy Dean as USDA Undersecretry for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. Dean also awaits a hearing and confirmation vote.

 FSIS  is responsible for ensuring the nation’s supply of meat, poultry, and processed egg products is safe and correctly labeled and packaged.  The undersecretary must be selected from among individuals with specialized training or significant experience in food safety or public health programs.

In addition to Brashears, previous under secretaries include Dr. Elisabeth Hagen (August 2010- December 2013), Dr. Richard Allen Raymond (July 2005–January 2009), Elsa A. Murano (October 2001–December 2004), and Catherine Woteki (July 1997–January 2001). 

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Concerns raised over peanut traces in food additive from India

May 18, 2022 - 12:04am

Batches of a food additive from India have been found to contain undeclared peanut protein prompting authorities to warn of a serious risk to allergic consumers.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) said some batches of soybean lecithin imported to the United Kingdom were found to contain undeclared peanut protein. Lecithin is used in chocolate, margarine, bread, ice cream and dairy products, infant formulas and convenience foods.

The issue was raised by Germany via a Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) notification in late April and affects dozens of countries including the United States.

It could pose a significant food safety risk as peanut allergy is one of the most common and is estimated to affect one in 50 children in the UK and 6 million people in the United States.

Soybean lecithin is widely used in food production and UK authorities are investigating to determine the scale of the incident and impact on the food supply chain and consumers. The FSA held a call with the British Retail Consortium about the contamination, which occurred in India, earlier this month. India was also at the center of ethylene oxide being detected in sesame seeds sent to Europe in 2020. The chemical is not allowed for food use in the EU.

The affected soybean lecithin is known to have been used in numerous products in the UK and the levels of peanut protein detected vary, depending upon the initial amount of contamination and onward processing in the supply chain. For example, contamination has occurred in chocolate, which is used as an ingredient in other products.

Trade group worried
The European Lecithin Manufacturers Association (ELMA) said it was very concerned about the issue and members were doing additional analyses and controls to prevent the presence of peanut and the peanut protein in soybean lecithin. So far, only the additive from India is known to be affected.

Measures adopted by members include asking Indian suppliers to carry out pre-shipment tests and carrying out their own analyses for peanut protein using validated methods on batches before placing them on the market.

ELMA advised users of soybean lecithin from India to carry out a risk analysis and evaluate ways to communicate the potential risk to allergic consumers.

Food authorities asked businesses to use traceability to identify products, or ingredients used, containing soybean lecithin that came from manufacturers in India. If any affected items are found, product-specific risk assessments should be completed.

If any product containing soybean lecithin has been contaminated with peanut and labeling does not manage the risk to consumers, it should be withdrawn or recalled. Foods still within the control of the company’s supply chain can be relabeled so the risk of peanut contamination is communicated to consumers.

Businesses should also ensure that any future supply of soybean lecithin does not contain undeclared peanut protein before further processing or production.

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USDA gives grant to University of Georgia to study antimicrobial blue light tech

May 18, 2022 - 12:03am

The U.SDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded researchers from the University of Georgia Center for Food Safety a three-year, $599,900 grant to begin a new study to investigate the effectiveness of antimicrobial blue light technology in reducing foodborne pathogens.

Food manufacturers often use chemical sanitizers on food preparation surfaces to help control the spread of foodborne pathogens, but the researchers involved in the study point out that while this is typically effective in easy-to-reach areas, areas that are hard to reach may not receive the same degree of sanitation. 

These hard-to-reach places can harbor biofilms with bacteria that are hard to eliminate. The spread of these microorganisms can occur during food production. Viruses pose another challenge as some, such as norovirus, can survive on a variety of surfaces for long periods of time. 

According to the study, the use of a dynamic and harmless light technology during downtime and close of operation could serve as a useful tool in preventing biofilm formation and persistence. 

The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences researchers’ goal is to deliver a new, low-cost and environmentally friendly means of enhancing food safety.

Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, Center for Food Safety Director and head of the research team, said, “The use of a dynamic and harmless light technology during downtime and close of operation could serve as a useful tool in preventing biofilm formation and persistence.”

Details on the full study can be found here.

About the Center for Food Safety
The University of Georgia founded the Center for Food Safety in 1992 to promote food safety and its role in protecting the agricultural system.

CFS is a leader of multidisciplinary, innovative research to improve the safety of food. CFS researchers develop ways to detect, control and eliminate harmful microorganisms and their toxins from the food supply.

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