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State consumer group calls for food safety improvements

January 28, 2020 - 12:03am

A state consumer group has stepped up with recommendations it says would provide a serious boost to our food safety system. The Seattle-based Washington Public Interest Research Group (Wash PIRG) says food safety has improved in the United States, but it cannot be left to rest on its laurels.

Here’s a quick rundown on the changes Wash PIRG is calling for:

  • 1. Food production and testing
    • Test water used for irrigation or watering of produce for hazardous pathogens.
    • Set health-based bacterial load levels for agriculture watering to prevent contamination.
  • 2. Inspection and monitoring
    • Require plants to identify the most common pathogens associated with meat and poultry products as hazards likely to occur and address them in their safety plans.
    • Establish clear enforcement consequences for recurring violations of food safety protections or plans.
    • Update food safety standards at facilities every three years.
    • Declare antibiotic-resistant strains of salmonella as an adulterant in meat and poultry.
  • 3. Traceability
    • Improve traceability throughout the food supply chain through network-based tracking technologies.
    • Retailers notify consumers about recalled products they may have in their homes.
  • 4. Recall effectiveness
    • Require disclosure of retailers selling products for all Class I and Class II recalls, establish a timeline for the release of that information, and include packaged goods.
    • Penalize companies who continue to sell products after a recall.
    • Develop programs for retailers to directly notify customers about food recalls.

Wash PIRG’s report said: “Our findings make it clear that our food safety defenses need an across-the-board upgrade. Gaps in public health protections, enforcement, and inspection make it too likely that dangers will reach Americans’ plates with potentially disastrous consequences. And, when these dangers are identified through analysis of disease vectors and health impacts, our recall system often allows hazards to continue to impact people’s health.”

Wash PIRG also called the current food safety system “convoluted” in the way responsibilities are divided between USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “This has caused inconsistent oversight, ineffective coordination, and inefficient use of resources,” it said.

“Americans rely on a vast network of farms, slaughterhouses, and manufacturers to provide safe food every day. In 2019 alone, high-profile recalls and foodborne illness outbreaks linked to flour, chicken strips, and romaine lettuce reveal that more action is necessary to protect public health” the report states.

Wash PIRG is an independent, state-based, citizen-funded organization and is a member of PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups. State PIRGs have existed since 1970 and currently employ close to 400 organizers, policy analysts, scientists, and attorneys with a federal lobby office in Washington D.C.

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Botulism suspected in Argentina, confirmed in Iceland

January 28, 2020 - 12:01am

Authorities in Argentina are investigating two suspected cases of foodborne botulism linked to a brand of pickled wild boar.

The National Administration of Drugs, Foods and Medical Devices (ANMAT) reported those ill are associated with eating “Escabeche de jabalí” 400-gram of the “Fatto in casa” brand with a date of July 1, 2020, produced by Norma Coatti.

A 27-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man are affected and both needed hospital treatment.

An inspection of the production plant by authorities in Cordoba found processing conditions do not guarantee that the product is safe for consumption. The site was stopped from producing and marketing such items for preventative reasons.

The manufacturing firm was asked to recall all units of pickled “Fatto in casa” branded products nationally. These include chicken, pork, Viscacha (a type of rodent), and eggplant.

ANMAT advised consumers not to eat the affected recalled products.

Botulism in Iceland
Meanwhile, a case of botulism has been confirmed in Iceland for the first time since 1983.

The Public Health Institute of Iceland (Landlaeknir) revealed an adult began experiencing symptoms on 12 January with poisoning confirmed a week later.

Local health authorities, the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authrority (Matvælastofnun) and Matis, a government owned, non-profit, research company, are trying to find the source of the poisoning with no evidence as yet pointing toward food available on the market.

Botulism cases have only been reported in the country three times, first in 1949 when four people became ill after eating pickled beef, in 1981 when a four-person family fell sick, and in 1983 when a mother and child were ill after eating meats.

Common causes are home-cooked foods such as meats, fish, vegetables and fruits, which are usually canned, pickled or fermented and often vacuum-packed.

Botulism is a rare but life-threatening condition caused by toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. In foodborne botulism, symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food. However, they can start as soon as six hours after or up to 10 days later.

It can cause symptoms including general weakness, dizziness, double-vision, and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of other muscles, abdominal distension and constipation may also occur. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

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Baby food recalled in UK due to tampering fears

January 27, 2020 - 12:03am

Certain Cow & Gate baby food has been recalled from a supermarket in the United Kingdom because it may have been tampered with.

Cow & Gate and Tesco are recalling 15 varieties of 7 plus month Cow & Gate baby food sold in jars by Tesco stores in the U.K.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) confirmed with Tesco and the Food Standards Agency that jars sold in Ireland are not affected by the recall.

All date codes and batches of Butternut Squash Chicken and Pasta, Courgette and Hake Rice, Yummy Harvest Chicken, Apple Crumble, Banana Crumble, Peach Apple and Kiwi, Rice Pudding, Creamy Cauliflower Cheese, Garden Pea and Turkey, Potato Spinach and Beef, Potato and Turkey Roast, Spaghetti Bolognese, Succulent Pork Casserole, Tasty Cottage Pie and Tomato and Courgette Pasta are affected. A zucchini is called a courgette in the U.K.

Police investigation into tampering
A statement from Cow & Gate, which is owned by Danone, said the action follows concerns that a small number of jars may have been tampered with.

“Please do not feed any Cow & Gate 7+ month baby food jars 200-gram purchased from Tesco to your baby. Parents and carers are advised not to use these 7+ month jars of Cow & Gate baby food jars purchased in Tesco stores in the U.K. because they may pose a food safety risk. Please return any jars to Tesco stores where they were purchased for a full refund.”

The company has not clarified how the products were potentially tampered with but said there is an ongoing police investigation so it was unable to share further details.

Cow & Gate 7+ months jars sold at other retailers and other Cow & Gate baby foods are not affected.

The possible tampering of the product may present a safety risk, according to the Food Standards Agency.

In December 2019, Heinz and Tesco recalled all 7+ months Heinz By Nature baby food after one jar was tampered with. Two sharp metal fragments were found in it.

All dates and batches of Heinz By Nature 7+ months baby foods 200-gram jars of Sweet and Sour Chicken, Mango Chicken Curry, Cottage Pie, Cheesy and Tomato Pasta Stars, Sunday Chicken Dinner, Winter Veggies and Lamb, Pasta Bake with Tuna, and Spaghetti Bolognese were affected.

In May 2019, Danone Early Life Nutrition recalled a batch of Cow & Gate Cheesy Broccoli Bake 10 months plus Children as some 250-gram jars contained pieces of a thin blue rubber glove.

The implicated batch with a best before date of Dec. 28, 2020, was made in Poland and only sold by Boots Ireland.

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FDA sends warning letters about Foreign Supplier Verification Program violations

January 27, 2020 - 12:01am

As part of its enforcement activities, the Food and Drug Administration sends warning letters to entities under its jurisdiction. Some letters are not posted for public view until weeks or months after they are sent.

Business owners have 15 days to respond to FDA warning letters. Warning letters often are not issued until a company has been given months to years to correct problems.

Both of the following warning letters address violations of the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP). FSVP regulation requires that importers perform certain risk-based activities to verify that human and/or animal food they import into the United States has been produced in a manner that meets applicable U.S. food safety standards.

Dinamix Distribution LLC — McAllen, TX
The Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter dated Dec. 12, 2019, to the owner of Dinamix Distribution LLC, Rodulfo Suarez.

During a Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) inspection at Dinamix Distribution LLC  on June 28, 2019, FDA investigators found that the company was not in compliance with federal law for the following products imported from the companies foreign suppliers: mayonnaise; tomatoes-spice flavored drink; and punch flavored soft drinks imported from (redacted). The company also did not have FSVPs for these products. 

The FDA received a company response dated Aug. 8, 2019, regarding the FDA 483a FSVP observations form issued June 28, 2019. But, it did not address the lack of FSVPs for the imported products’ according to the FDA warning letter.

In response to these deviations, the FDA issued an FDA 483 Inspectional Observations form that lists deviations observed at the facility.

The violations noted by the FDA:

     “You did not develop an FSVP as required by section 805 of the FD&C Act and 21 CFR part I subpart L. Specifically, your firm did not develop an FSVP for each of the following foods:”

  • “mayonnaise manufactured by (redacted)
  • “tomatoes-spice flavored drink (redacted) manufactured by (redacted)
  • “punch flavored soft drinks manufactured by (redacted)

A complete list of the violations can be found in the FDA’s warning letter.

Swagath Home Foods LLC  — Redmond, WA
The Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter dated Jan. 7, 2019, to the Managing Partner of Swagath Home Foods LLC, Ravi Modalavalasa.

During a Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) inspection at Swagath Home Foods LLC, FDA investigators found that the company was not in compliance with the requirements of federal law for their black pepper powder imported from Subhash Masala Co. Pvt. Ltd., spiced chutney powder imported from MTR Foods Pvt. Ltd., and potato chips imported from Pepsico India Holding Pvt. The company did not have FSVPs for the products.

In response to these deviations, the FDA issued an FDA 483 Inspectional Observations form that lists deviations observed at the facility.

The violations noted by the FDA:

  • The FDA received a response dated Sept. 28, 2019, which included a document entitled “Swagath Foreign Supplier Verification Program Guidelines.” The document stated that the company intends to undertake certain verification-related steps, such as: verifying FDA’s website for any known banned products for import hazard, “enforc[ing] hazard analysis for each and every product imported,” and “not importing products that are flagged for risk.” However, this response was deemed inadequate because the company did not demonstrate that they have performed any FSVP requirements for particular products. 
  • We also note that the guidelines the company provided were very general and do not reflect all of the requirements in the FSVP rule.

 A complete list of the violations can be found in the FDA’s warning letter.

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New York company recalls cheese in five states after tests find E. coli

January 26, 2020 - 7:36pm

Random testing by state officials has found E. coli contamination in cotija cheese, spurring a recall in five states.

The New York company Quesos La Ricura Ltd. is recalling an undisclosed number of packages of the cheese because they may be contaminated with Shiga toxin producing E. coli bacteria, according to test results from Florida inspectors.

Quesos La Ricura Ltd. reported distributing the cheese to retail stores in New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Florida, according to the company’s recall notice posted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The notice did not include any product photographs.

The cheese is packaged on yellow foam trays wrapped in plastic with labels with the following information: “Quesos La Ricura Queso Cotija, Cotija Cheese aged over 60 days” UPC: 7 69087 00933 6 and a weight of 12 oz. “Sell By” date May 20, 2020-3/ May 20, 2020-4.

No illnesses had been confirmed in relation to consumption of this cheese as of the posting of the recall notice.

Consumers who have purchased Quesos La Ricura Cotija Cheese are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 516-932-5756.

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Sanitizer found in milk; one person sick with recall underway

January 26, 2020 - 3:25pm

Officials are reporting at least one person is sick in relation to milk that is now under recall because it is contaminated with a sanitizer.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has posted a recall for seven varieties of milk packaged under two brands, Sealtest and L’ecole, c’est nourissant. The recall notice does not include how much milk is under recall, per the agency’s policy.

Agropur Cooperative, the recalling company, reported distributing the milk in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

“This recall was triggered by the company. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products,” according to the recall notice.

“Check to see if you have the recalled products in your home. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.”

Photos of the recalled milk are available on the CFIA website. Consumers can use the following information to determine whether they have the recalled milk in their homes.

Brand Product Size UPC Codes Sealtest Skim Milk 2 L 64420001412 FE 08 (1490) Sealtest Skim Milk 4 L 64420001405 1490 FE08 Sealtest 1% Milk 4 L 64420001603 1490 FE08 Sealtest 2% Milk 4 L 64420000774 1490 FE08 Sealtest 2% Milk 1 L 64420000798 FE 08 (1490) L’ecole, c’est nourissant 2% Milk 150 mL 55872001068 FE 08 (1490) Sealtest 3.25% Milk 1 L 64420000244 FE 08 (1490)

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The petition perspective from one catbird seat

January 26, 2020 - 12:05am
Opinion

Julie Larson Bricher recently wrote an article on MeatingPlace.com outlining a petition that asks the USDA to declare 31 Salmonella serotypes as adulterants in meat and poultry. The move would make what is now legal against the law. Bricher’s piece has generated a lot of comments.

Today I write not to discuss Bricher’s article — which is based on an interview with the lawyer who filed the petition, Bill Marler. Today I want to discuss comments regarding Bricher’s story. Commenters on MeatingPlace.com can post anonymously or with pseudonyms. Some recent comments on Bricher’s coverage of the petition, and my responses, are shown here in a modified question-answer format.  

“Mr Alright” posted: Make sense to me. It really takes too long to find out who is making hundreds of individuals sick. Test and hold for salmonella testing makes complete sense. It’s time to step up and move out those who don’t care about consumers.

“Sure Jan” replied: Most Salmonella strains aren’t pathogenic. Methods don’t exist to rapidly and cost effectively identify just the 31 strains he is asking for. This is a supply chain nightmare and would unjustly affect the most food insecure in our country.

Carl’s response: True, many Salmonella serotypes are not pathogenic to humans, or in past feeding trials it took thousands to cause disease. Interestingly two serotypes that are poorly pathogenic to humans, S. Gallinarum and S. Pullorum, are highly regulated by USDA’s subagency APHIS because they are pathogenic to poultry. 

There are currently rapid methods to identify the 31 serotypes in the petition based on Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology. And, with additional development of Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) there will be more specific rapid methods.

As for declaring these pathogens as adulterants being “a supply chain nightmare” it should stimulate the industry to apply logical controls on ingredients. The animals coming into slaughter bring the majority of pathogens that end up on the product entering commence. FSIS-inspected establishments perform thorough clean ups thus, preventing resident pathogens contaminating product. 

Those familiar with slaughter procedures and the scientific literature know the sources of fecal bacteria on carcasses. In beef slaughter, aerosols from hide pulling are a common pathogen source. In pork and poultry slaughter, the defeathering and dehairing procedures press fecal material into the empty follicles where they are protected from subsequent interventions. The petition references Galton’s 1954 observation of swine dehairing, “The carcass is subjected to vigorous treatment, and in the process, fecal leakage from the completely relaxed anus inevitably will occur.” (Galton, M. M., W. V. Smith, H. B. McElrath, A. B. Hardy. (1954). Salmonella in Swine, Cattle and the Environment of Abattoirs. J Infect Dis. 95(3):236-245.) Mark Berrang, in 2001 published a solution to the problem in poultry processing by eviscerating the poultry before defeathering (Berrang, M. E., R. J. Buhr, J. A. Cason, J. A. Dickens. (2001). Broiler Carcass Contamination with Campylobacter from Feces during Defeathering. J Food Prot. 64(12):2063-2066.). 

The most practical intervention is likely preharvest control of human pathogens in live animals. Pomeroy in the 1970’s successfully produced Salmonella-Free turkeys starting with Salmonella-free chicks and biosecurity (Pomeroy, B.S., Nagaraja KV, Ausherman LT, Peterson IL, Friendshuh KA. 1989. Studies on feasibility of producing Salmonella-free turkeys. Avian Dis. 33:1-7.). The preharvest controls have advanced since then based on research by industry, government, and universities. What’s lacking is the incentives for implementing those controls, the realization of how important preharvest controls are on the ingredients, and thus, the final product and environment. For instance, in the early days of regulating Escherichia coli O157:H7 in ground beef and the Salmonella Performance Standards, I found several grinders who did not realize the source of the pathogens was the trim. Now, many grinders require their trim suppliers to have both validated interventions and verification. Sadly, the epidemiology indicates not all grinders and not all grinders require Salmonella interventions.  

“Sam Johnson” posted: A fool’s errand

Intellectually. there’s little justification to say that E. coli O157:H7 and the Shiga-toxin producing E. coli are adulterants but salmonella is not. This is a true statement. Intellectually there is no justification to say any naturally occurring bacteria. virus. or prion is an adulterant given the definition of adulterant. This is a non sequitur argument.

[Carl]: There are several definitions for adulterant in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Here are the most important ones for meat: 

9CFR 301.2 Definitions.

Adulterated. This term applies to any carcass, part thereof, meat or meat food product under one or more of the following circumstances:

(1) If it bears or contains any such poisonous or deleterious substance which may render it injurious to health; but in case the substance is not an added substance, such article shall not be considered adulterated under this clause if the quantity of such substance in or on such article does not ordinarily render it injurious to health;

[Carl]: Thus, any Salmonella on lettuce is an adulterant because it is an added substance. Is Salmonella on meat or poultry an “added substance”. The papers by C.O. Gill and others indicate the flesh of animals after slaughter is sterile. Leucocytes remain active after slaughter for a while scavenging any bacteria introduced by the bleeding knife. Here are two: (Gill CO, Penney N, Nottingham PM.1978. Tissue sterility in uneviscerated carcasses. Appl Environ Microbiol. 36:356-359. Gill, C.O. 1979. Intrinsic Bacteria in Meat. J. Appl. Bacteriol. 47: 367-378.) Thus, if the muscle comes into the slaughter establishment sterile, then any Salmonella is an added substance. In the Washington Post article on the Salmonella petition, Katie Rose McCullough, a food scientist with the meat institute was quoted, “Unlike E. coli (sic), salmonella (sic) can be part of the animal’s flesh — in the lymph nodes — which filter and collect potentially harmful pathogens to keep animals healthy. “You can’t remove all of it; that’s impossible.” 

[Carl]: The lymph nodes can be excised and inspecting lymph nodes is a part of current meat inspection. In fact inspectors slicing lymph nodes has been cited as one vector of Salmonella contamination for meat. The ideal means of preventing lymph nodes carrying pathogens such as Salmonella or Shiga Toxin positive Escherichia coli (STEC) would be preharvest control of those pathogens in the live animals. A bonus benefit of preharvest control would be less environmental contamination from animal production via manure, runoff, air and wild animals. But that’s another article.

Two other definitions of adulterant are:

“(3) If it consists in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, or decomposed substance or is for any other reason unsound, unhealthful, unwholesome, or otherwise unfit for human food;

(4) If it has been prepared, packed, or held under unsanitary conditions whereby it may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby it may have been rendered injurious to health;”

[Carl]: USDA in the Supreme Beef Processors, Inc. v. USDA used (4) in arguing that the establishment had failed three Salmonella Performance Standard test because the ground beef at the plants was produced under “insanitary conditions. Supreme Beef’s winning argument was that the trimmings they bought contained the Salmonella and not insanitary conditions within their establishment. Most grinders now require more of their trim suppliers. 

“eye-roller” replied to “Sam Johnson:” Seriously. If people butcher their own chicken at home they too will find salmonella. How are we supposed to consider something an adulterant when it’s just there naturally?

[Carl]: Excellent reply and the premise for the petition. The petition identifies 31 serotypes of Salmonella that are associated with outbreaks, many of them from poultry. Thus, epidemiology demonstrates that these serotypes are injurious in the hands of ordinary consumers. Therefore, according to 9CFR 301.2 (1) or 9 CFR 381.1(I) those serotypes are adulterants. If people butcher their own chickens and it contains one of those serotypes, it’s not an issue. If they attempt to sell it, then it’s a regulatory issue on several levels. 

“|” posted: Further info needed It would be nice if the article went into the details of the implications of this being passed versus current regulation. Some of us are a little distant from QA and regulatory.

[Carl]: Hopefully, this article will help you. 

“bockchain” posted: cool fantasy but. . . One need only look at the processing differences between beef and poultry to understand that this proposition is absurd. There is no way to implement such a strategy, and more importantly, no need to do so. The food safety environment now is a vast improvement over that which led to the Jack in the Box outbreak.

[Carl]: Thank You. We hope the petition will fulfill the fantasy. 

Yes, the biggest difference between beef and poultry — and swine — processing is the dehairing and defeathering process that presses fecal material into empty follicles. That aside from carriage is the principal reason the tolerance for Salmonella, based on baseline surveys, is higher for pork and poultry and ground pork and poultry. Beef is skinned thus, there are no empty follicles protecting fecal borne pathogens from interventions, only cuts and creases.

Scientific research over the past half century shows it is possible to implement this strategy. This petition will provide an incentive to implement those interventions. The epidemiological record demonstrates the need for implementing this petition. Declaring E. coli O157:H7 an adulterant in ground beef after the Jack in the Box outbreak stimulated both research and interventions for that pathogen. At the time, salmonellosis was a greater food-borne hazard but FSIS did not act on it. The rate of salmonellosis has diminished little since then. Therefore is long past time for action.

“Matt F” posted: “We’re smarter than this, aren’t we?

Sure, Salmonella isn’t something to be trifled with, for particular strains anyway, but simple safe handling and preparation will eliminate the hazard easily enough. Declaring Salmonella an adulterant would be a monumental mistake.

[Carl]: Yes, I suspect you, me, and many readers of MeatingPlace.com are competent in handling raw meat and poultry. We prevent cross contamination, wash our hands and, check internal temperatures correctly. However, the epidemiological record, Aside from the environmental contamination of produce, illustrates that the incompetent are numerous. For example, I have witnessed a NASA engineer, a House Agricultural Committee staff member, an architect, and USDA staffers mishandle grilled meat and poultry. These were not stupid people but they were ill-trained in handling potentially hazardous products. I often advised the hot line on the science of food safety. Once, I suggested some of their recommendations were too simplistic and could be more sophisticated. “Oh no”, was the reply, “The consumers who we usually communicate with are those smart enough to find our telephone number or to email us. Their ignorance is scary enough. We fear for those who don’t contact us.” 

One of the four options I suggested in 2014 was, with tongue in cheek, “Continue the status quo and let the incompetent suffer the consequences: While seeming cruel, it would provide continuing incentives for educational efforts such as those at CDC, FSIS and FDA. It would also not impose a greater burden on producers and growers, and, thus, raise the cost of food.”

(Custer, C.S. 2014. Controlling Pathogens: Options and a Recommendation. 

In conclusion 
Not declaring the 31 serotypes of Salmonella adulterants would be a monumental mistake. Salmonellosis has been a leading food-borne cause of death as reported by CDC for decades. I believe the major cause of USDA dragging its feet is the wrong-headed decision in APHA vs Butz 1975. That decision was largely based on a 1971 unsubstantiated political opinion that consumers were competent. That opinion was contrary to the previous decade’s science, the 1969 NAS Report, “An Evaluation of the Salmonella Problem”, and the USDA’s 1970 report, “A Review of the NAS-NRC Report.  An Evaluation of the Salmonella Problem”. It’s past time for USDA and FSIS to correct those mistakes and enforce to Meat and poultry Inspection Acts.

Carl Custer

About the author: Carl Custer is an independent consultant for food safety microbiology. He retired from USDA FSIS in 2007 after over 34 years as a bench and a desk scientist. Carl also served as a trainer for FSIS inspectors, the FSIS Hotline, retail processors and inspectors, small farm processors, and country ham processors. Carl is a lifetime member of the International Food Protection Association (IAFP) and the American Society for Microbiology. Carl started his Food Microbiology career in 1966 as a technician then as graduate student for Dr. Carl Vanderzant at Texas A&M. Projects included dairy, meat, and seafood microbiology.

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Researchers report temperature important for controlling Listeria in rakfisk

January 26, 2020 - 12:03am

Researchers have looked at the effect of different ripening temperatures and salt concentrations on the growth of Listeria monocytogenes in a traditional Norwegian fermented fish product.

Rakfisk is made from lake trout or arctic char by mild-salting and brine maturation at low temperatures for several months and is eaten without heat treatment.

Ripening temperature had the largest impact on Listeria monocytogenes growth during rakfisk production as low ripening temperatures resulted in essentially no growth. However, even freezing temperatures cannot kill Listeria.

Chosen salt concentrations and temperatures reflect the prevailing types of commercial rakfisk production, said researchers in the study published in the journal Foods.

Recent reported outbreaks
Outbreaks of listeriosis, where batches of rakfisk were implicated, were not recorded until fairly recently. In the last six years, two outbreaks affecting three and 12 people, respectively and a recent suspected outbreak occurred.

The Norwegian Directorate of Health recommends that vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems due to underlying medical conditions, avoid rakfisk.

Scientists behind the study are from Nofima, an institute in Norway for applied research within fisheries, aquaculture and food.

In the European Union, standard ready to eat foods that contain less than 100 colony forming units (CFU) per gram at the end of shelf life are accepted. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires absence of Listeria in 25-gram samples of RTE seafood products.

Rakfisk is a seasonal product, mainly consumed from late fall through to Christmas. There are no critical control points during the production process that guarantee elimination of Listeria monocytogenes in the final product.

The most common production method is based on mild salting and spontaneous brine formation where the gutted fish is dry-salted and layered belly up, preferably under pressure, in airtight containers.

Containers are stored at low temperatures of 3 to 7 degrees C (37.4 to 44.6 degrees F) for three to 12 months and occasionally longer. The fish is submerged in the salt brine during storage. Salt concentration in the brine varies among producers but is between 4 and 7 percent.

Importance of low temperature
Rakfisk was produced with and without the addition of Listeria monocytogenes to the trout or char used. Production conditions were 4.8 percent or 6.3 percent sodium chloride with storage at 4 or 7 degrees C (39.2 to 44.6 degrees F). Brine samples were used for microbiological analysis and were collected from the containers on days 0, 3, 7, 14, 28, 42, 63, and 91.

Low temperature and relatively high salt concentrations were found to be the major hurdles for growth of Listeria monocytogenes in rakfisk production. The levels of organic acids produced during fermentation were too low to inhibit growth.

Results show temperature was the main factor influencing growth of Listeria monocytogenes in rakfisk brine. At 7 degrees C (44.6 degrees F), rapid growth occurred, especially at the lower sodium chloride concentration of 4.8 percent.

Inoculation level in the study was unrealistically high but even very low contamination levels would result in numbers of food safety concern assuming a similar growth rate, said researchers.

High sodium chloride concentration of 6.3 percent delayed growth but Listeria monocytogenes eventually reached the same levels. Changes in temperature or salt did not change the lactic acid levels but there was a significant increase in formic and acetic acid in low-salt conditions.

Low temperature of 4 degrees C (39.2 degrees F) restricted growth of Listeria monocytogenes at both salt levels. However, producers using this temperature generally employ a maturation time of minimum five months.

Researchers also investigated the effect of the anti-Listeria bacteriophage P100 on rakfisk with added Listeria monocytogenes.

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Illegal fish skin snacks from Singapore discovered during routine inspection

January 25, 2020 - 5:28pm

A California company is recalling fish skin snacks from Singapore because they were not presented for import re-inspection to the United States.

Golden Pearl Trading Corp., doing business as Dandy Food Products, has recalled about 12,000 pounds of ready-to-eat imported catfish products, according to a notice posted by the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS).

In addition to the re-inspection violation, the company imported the snacks from Singapore, which is not eligible to export ready-to-eat catfish (Siluriformes) to the United States.

The FSIS discovered the problems during a routine inspection activity, according to the recall notice. The agency reported the snacks were produced on or around Sept. 26 through Dec. 24, 2019.

Consumers can determine whether they have the recalled fish skin snacks by looking for the following: 113-gram foil bags labeled as “Sugar Kid SALTED EGG FISH SKIN.”

“FSIS is concerned that consumers may still be in possession of the product. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them,” according to the recall notice.

No illnesses or adverse reactions had been confirmed in relation to the recalled product as of the posting of the recall notice. 

Consumers with questions about the recall can contact Robert Moore, managing director of Golden Pearl Trading Corp., at 408-836-7923 or at Robert@dandyfood.com.

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Dutch meat firm fined for lack of cooperation in pork recall

January 25, 2020 - 12:03am

A meat processing company in the Netherlands has been fined for not fully cooperating during a recall of pork possibly contaminated with Salmonella in 2018.

The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) imposed the fine of more than €500,000 ($552,000) as the firm took “insufficient measures” to withdraw pork that could have been contaminated with Salmonella Goldcoast.

A business is obliged to withdraw food from the market if there are reasons to believe that it does not comply with food safety regulations.

The meat processor also asked customers to ignore instructions from the NVWA to withdraw products from the market, according to the agency.

First turnover-related fine
An NVWA spokesman told Food Safety News that the law in the Netherlands does not allow the agency to name the company.

Because there was intent, in the NVWA’s opinion, and the company has a turnover of more than €10 million ($11 million) a turnover-related fine was imposed. It is the first time the NVWA has imposed such a fine on a company but the business can still object to the penalty.

At the end of 2018, NVWA traced the source of contaminated pork with Salmonella Goldcoast to a pig slaughterhouse. Potentially tainted pork was sold from early June to late October 2018.

The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) retrospectively noted an increase in Salmonella Goldcoast infections from June 2018 which prompted an investigation in October into the possible source by RIVM and NVWA.

RIVM normally sees around eight cases of Salmonella Goldcoast a year but 19 patients had been registered. Some of them could be linked to a specific slaughterhouse via DNA typing.

Water temperature at the slaughterhouse was lowered from 68 degrees C (154 degrees F) to 48 degrees C (118 degrees F), creating conditions for bacteria development. The 68 degrees C temperature was reinstated in October to prevent a possible recurrence of contamination.

International angle
NVWA started a tracing campaign for all pork from the slaughterhouse from early June to late October.

All involved companies to which pork was supplied, including the fined meat processing company, had to withdraw the products in which the pork was processed. If firms do not cooperate with such a recall it is a violation of the law and NVWA can impose sanctions.

The associated Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) alert on Salmonella in pig meat from the Netherlands lists 60 countries being potentially affected including Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Belgian authorities issued a warning that some meat products could be contaminated with Salmonella following processing of potentially contaminated raw materials in December 2018. No increase was detected in Salmonella infections in 2018 compared to the previous year.

Recalls in the country were issued by Vleeswaren Peeters and Imperial Meat Products, part of the Campofrio Food Group.

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Consumers report plastic pieces in hamburger; recall initiated for 9 states

January 24, 2020 - 7:26pm

Following consumer complaints, a Chicago company is recalling ground beef in nine states because of contamination with pieces of plastic.

There is concern that consumers may have unused portions of the recalled hamburger in their refrigerators or freezers because the expiration date is not until Jan. 31, according to a recall notice posted by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

Amity Packing Company Inc. of Chicago produced the ground beef on Jan. 6 and sold it in vacuum-packed 1-pound packages labeled as “Pre 95% LEAN/5% FAT GROUND BEEF.” It is marked with a “USE/FREEZE BY” date of Jan. 31. Consumers should look for the following identifying information to determine whether they have the recalled hamburger: lot code 0060, case code 11402, and the establishment number EST. 6916.

“The problem was discovered after Pre Brands LLC. received two consumer complaints reporting findings of clear, thin pliable plastic in raw ground beef. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products,” according to the recall notice.

Amity reported distributing the recalled ground beef to retail locations in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The FSIS is urging consumers who have purchased the hamburger to not eat it. The meat should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

Consumers with questions about the recall can contact Pre Brands LLC at 844-773-3663.

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Feds again withhold information about E. coli outbreak; restaurant chain implicated

January 24, 2020 - 4:54pm

Federal officials today confirmed another E. coli outbreak that they had previously not revealed to the public. Specific details were not available from the CDC or the FDA, but at least four states have been reported with confirmed patients.

The most likely source of the E. coli O157:H7, reported by 9 of 11 sick people who ate at fast food locations, was lettuce on Subway sandwiches, according to a source close to the investigation. Neither the FDA nor the CDC would not confirm that Subway products are involved.

“This is an ongoing investigation into an outbreak that was identified in December,” Food Safety News learned from Peter Cassell, a press officer for the Food and Drug Administration. 

“Upon detection, the outbreak had already ended. In an abundance of caution and to try to inform future prevention, we are working to see if we can identify the source. Per CDC and FDA policy, since there were no specific, clear and actionable steps for consumers to take to protect themselves from contaminated food associated with this outbreak, there was and is no current public health advisory.

“Should our investigation conclusively identify a source and/or contributing factors that could inform future prevention, we are committed to publicly communicating these insights.”

The CDC also provided Food Safety News with confirmation of the previously undisclosed outbreak. An official comment from the agency did not include any specific details except that patients were confirmed in four states.

“In early December 2019, CDC, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and four states, began investigating a multistate outbreak of E. Coli O157 infections,” according to a press officer from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“No new illnesses have been reported since CDC initially identified this cluster, and the outbreak is over. CDC is continuing to work with FDA to identify the source of the outbreak.”

The four states are Nevada, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, according to a source close to the investigation.

On Halloween, Food Safety News learned of another E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that the two federal agencies had not revealed to the public. It ended in September and involved romaine lettuce. 

Spokespeople from FDA and CDC told Food Safety News that because they believed all of the implicated romaine had passed expiration dates by the time the outbreak was discovered, agency officials did not think the public needed to know.

About E. coli infections
Anyone who has eaten at Subway restaurants and developed symptoms of E. coli infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctor about their possible exposure to the bacteria. Specific tests are required to diagnose the infections, which can mimic other illnesses.

The symptoms of E. coli infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody. Some patients may also have a fever. Most patients recover within five to seven days. Others can develop severe or life-threatening symptoms and complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

About 5 to 10 percent of those diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a potentially life-threatening kidney failure complication, known as a hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, feeling very tired, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor.

Many people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent injuries or death. This condition can occur among people of any age but is most common in children younger than five years old because of their immature immune systems, older adults because of deteriorating immune systems, and people with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients.

People who experience HUS symptoms should immediately seek emergency medical care. People with HUS will likely be hospitalized because the condition can cause other serious and ongoing problems such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease, brain damage, and neurologic problems.

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More poisonings in Brazil linked to beer; officials urge extreme caution

January 24, 2020 - 12:03am

More than 20 people are suspected to have been poisoned and four have died in Brazil after drinking contaminated batches of beer. Tests have found diethylene glycol in 32 lots of 10 Backer beers.

Officials from the Minas Gerais State Department of Health recommended no beer produced by Backer should be consumed. The agency advised people who have any beers made by Backer to not dispose of them in sinks or toilets or place them in the garbage. Instead they should be identified with an inscription such as: “Do not ingest. Product unsuitable for consumption”, stored separately from other foods and taken to a designated reception point.

A total of 22 suspected cases of poisoning by diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in antifreeze, have been reported including 19 men and three women. They live in Belo Horizonte, Capelinha, Nova Lima, Pompéu, São João Del Rei, São Lourenço, Ubá and Viçosa, according to the Minas Gerais State Department of Health.

Four have been confirmed and the remaining 18 are under investigation because they presented symptoms suggesting intoxication by diethylene glycol and reported having the product.

For one of the four deaths, presence of diethylene glycol in the blood was confirmed. The man was admitted to a hospital in Juiz de Fora and died on Jan. 7, 2020. The other three deaths are a man who died on January 15 in Belo Horizonte; another man who died the day after in Belo Horizonte and a woman, who died on Dec. 28, 2019 in Pompéu but cause of death has not been determined.

The first person was admitted to hospital on Dec. 30, 2019, suffering from acute renal failure and neurological issues. However, health authorities were also informed of two cases with symptoms similar to intoxication by diethylene glycol with exposure before October 2019 and an investigation is ongoing.

Beers recalled and banned
The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (Mapa) revealed tests have found diethylene glycol in 32 lots of 10 Backer beers. Affected drinks are Belorizontina, Capixaba, Capitão Senra, Pele Vermelha, Fargo 46, Backer Pilsen, Brown, Backer D2, Corleone and Backer Trigo. Monoethylene glycol has also been found in some lots of Belorizontina brand beers. Only monoethylene glycol, which is less toxic, is used in operations, according to the company.

Brewery officials said it was collaborating with the recall, official enquiries and internally investigating the issue.

The Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa) provisionally banned all Backer beers across the country with an expiration date from August 2020 onwards. The ban will last until the company proves absence of diethylene glycol and monoethylene glycol in its beers and the Três Lobos production site in Belo Horizonte remains closed.

Belorizontina brand beer with lots L1 1348, L2 1348 and L2 1354 and Capixaba beer lot L2 1348 are prohibited and must be collected by Backer as contamination has been proven. Preventive action has been taken for 90 days on all lots of a number of other beers with a date after August 2020 so they cannot be delivered to the consumer and must be removed from shelves.

Tests by MAPA confirmed contamination in the water used by Backer to make its beers.

Several lines of enquiry are being followed including leakage, misuse of monoethylene glycol and possible sabotage by an employee.

On average gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, appear 72 hours after drinking contaminated products before renal failure or neurological signs including facial paralysis, visual blurring, sensory changes and seizure.

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CFIA pulls license for Ontario poultry slaughter business

January 24, 2020 - 12:01am

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has suspended the Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) license #3RWXY8FD (Est. 658) of Cami International Poultry Ltd., a poultry slaughter establishment located in Welland, Ontario.

While the suspension is in effect, the license holder may not conduct any activity for which SFC license #3RWXY8FD was issued.

CFIA suspended license #3RWXY8FD of Cami International Poultry Limited because of a human health risk related to the contamination of meat products, the identification, analysis, prevention, reduction and elimination of the hazards associated with contamination, and non-compliances related to the humane receiving and handling of animals requirements. These non-compliances are in contravention of Part 4 and Part 6 of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR).

There is no food recall associated with this suspension.

License holders are responsible for ensuring that they comply with Canada’s food laws.

Safe Food for Canadians licenses can be suspended:

  • for failure to comply with the Safe Food for Canadians Act, the Food and Drugs Act and their related regulations
  • for default of payment of any fee related to the license
  • if the risk of injury to the public may result from continuing to conduct the licensed activity

The license suspension will be lifted if the agency determines that corrective measures have been taken. If corrective action is not taken within 90 days after suspension, the agency may cancel the license. The agency may also cancel the license on other grounds set out in section 39 of the SFCR.

Cancellation can occur after the license holder has been notified of the grounds for cancellation and provided with an opportunity to be heard.

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Latest recall involving hard boiled eggs covers cornbread dressing, bread stuffing

January 23, 2020 - 6:21pm

Savannah Food Company Inc. is recalling cornbread dressing and bread stuffing made with frozen diced eggs from Almark Foods of Gainesville, GA. The products were distributed through wholesale distributors to restaurants, delis, cafeterias, and foodservice establishments in Tennessee, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Arkansas.

“This recall is taking place due to supplier notification that Almark Foods supplied certain lots of frozen diced egg products which may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes and its association with a Listeria monocytogenes foodborne illness outbreak investigation,” according to the Savannah Mood Co. recall notice posted by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Almark egg facility has been confirmed to be contaminated with the same strain of Listeria monocytogenes that public health officials have found in patients involved in a multi-state outbreak. One person has died.

Products subject to the Savannah Food recall are:

Item # Brand Product 39015 Savannah Classics 7 lb. Special Cornbread Dressing 38016 Savannah Classics 7 lb. Classic Cornbread Dressing 38025 Savannah Classics 4.5 lb. Bread Stuffing 39012 Morrison’s 7 lb. Cornbread Dressing 39010 Morrison’s 4 lb. Cornbread Dressing 38017 Piccadilly 2 lb. Cornbread Dressing

The company hadn’t received any reports of illness associated with the implicated products as of the posting of the recall notice.

Consumers who purchased any of the recalled products are urged to discard them or return them to their place of purchase. For any questions, consumers may contact Savannah Food Company at 731-925-1155.

About Listeria infections
Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections. Anyone who has eaten any recalled product and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical treatment and tell their doctors about the possible Listeria exposure.

Also, anyone who has eaten any of the recalled product should monitor themselves for symptoms during the coming weeks because it can take up to 70 days after exposure to Listeria for symptoms of listeriosis to develop.

Symptoms of Listeria infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache, and neck stiffness. Specific laboratory tests are required to diagnose Listeria infections, which can mimic other illnesses.

Pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and people such as cancer patients who have weakened immune systems are particularly at risk of serious illnesses, life-threatening infections, and other complications. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, their infections can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth.

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hold/Meat and poultry industries end week in silence over Marler Salmonella petition

January 23, 2020 - 5:59pm

With annual retail sales approaching $100 billion, an effective structure of industry associations, and powerful K Street lobbyists, , this week is surprisingly ending in silence from the powerful meat and poultry industries when it comes to banning Salmonella strains.

The week began Jan 19 with the best-known attorney for victims of foodborne illness and his allied activist groups formally asking USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to ban 31 salmonella outbreak serotypes from meat and poultry products.

At present,  no salmonella strains are banned from meat and poultry, and during recent times, USDA denied petitions to declare four Salmonella “Superbugs” as adulterants in meat and poultry. “Superbugs” are antibiotic-resistant like the coronavirus, which is responsible for the world’s latest rapidly spreading outbreak.

Food safety attorney Bill Marler dropped the 60-page petition last Sunday. The petitioners claim the presence of any of the 31 Salmonella strains in meat and poultry is an “undeniable” health hazard in meat and poultry.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta estimates 1.35 million annual Salmonella illnesses with 25,500 hospitalizations and 420 deaths.

The petition claims the 31 Salmonella serotypes should be declared adulterants by USDA under the authority of the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act, two of the major federal laws enforced by FSIS.

Whenever public issues involving meat and poultry flare-up, the industries are quick to respond. The two principals are the North American Meat Institute and the National Chicken Council. Both go way back with NAMI formed from the 2015 merger of the American Meat Institute and the North American Meat Association.

Both are Washington D.C. based. They are adamantly opposed to declaring Salmonella strains as meat and poultry adulterants. But they’ve kept quiet this week about the rollout of Marlet’s Salmonella petition.

Meatingplace, the news service covering the meat and poultry industries did interview Marler and posted an introductory article about the petition. However, it did not include any response from its usually handly industry sources. And Marler said Meatingplace was the only industry associated source to reach out to him this week.

Marler asserted that if the U.S. can put a man on the moon and build the Panama Canal,  it  can figure out how to “get chicken shit out of chicken.” He said it “seems like we’re asking for a lot,” but “it’s based in science and on the fact these strains have caused human illnesses and deaths over the last 25 years.”

Petitioners represented by the Marler petition include victims of Salmonella illness: Rick Schiller, Steven Romes, and the Porter Family, and three well-known activist organizations: Food & Water Watch, Consumer Federation of American and Consumer Reports.

FSIS has not yet acknowledged receipt of the Marler petition. The acknowledgment letter won’t way much, other than providing an agency contact. Marler won’t be able to advance the petition to U.S. District Court until FSIS either accepts or denies the request.

But his most formable opponents are for now not saying anything about Salmonella strains. It’s not the only subject, of course, Tom Super at the National Chicken Council is busy getting the word out about Superbowl Sunday when experts figure Americans will consume 1.4 billion chicken wings.

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Sandwich recall expanded with 50 more varieties of products for Listeria risk

January 23, 2020 - 11:55am

Lipari Foods has expanded its recall of sandwiches, adding more than 50 varieties to the list, because of potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. The sandwiches were distributed in 15 states.

All Premo and Fresh Grab sandwiches with best-by dates through Feb. 6 are now included in the recall, according to the company’s notice posted by the Food and Drug Administration. 

Lipari reports it began shipping the implicated sandwiches on Dec. 20, 2019. The company started recalling sandwiches on Jan. 6 and expanded the recall Jan. 13.

There is concern that consumers may have unused sandwiches. Anyone with any of the sandwiches is urged to throw them away or return them to the place of purchase. A supplier notified Lipari of the contamination issue.

“This recall was brought to our attention by JLM, who is further expanding their recent recall to include additional sandwiches with additional Best Buy dates due to potential contamination of Listeria monocytogenes. The company has ceased production at the producing facility while continuing to work in close collaboration with the FDA to further investigate the issue. No illnesses have been reported to date in relation to this recall,” according to the recall notice.

Lipari reported distributing the sandwiches to food service and retail stores throughout Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Consumers with questions should call customer service at 800-729-3354.

Following is a list of the sandwiches in the expanded recall notice. Photos of the products are available on the FDA website.

Brand Product Lipari # Size Best By Date UPC Premo Italian Footlong Sandwich 996431 8 oz. 01/08/20 – 02/02/20 612510093535 Premo Turkey & Cheese on a Pretzel Sub Bun 996428 7 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510094037 Premo Ham & Cheese on a Hawaiian Bun 996425 6 oz. 01/02/20 – 01/27/20 612510093511 Premo Meat Lovers Sub 970844 7 oz. 01/07/20 – 02/01/20 612510093832 Premo Bologna & Cheese Wedge Sandwich 920220 5 oz. 01/12/20 – 02/06/20 612510093306 Premo Tuna Salad Wedge Sandwich 915579 5 oz. 01/12/20 – 02/06/20 612510002049 Premo Tuna Salad Wedge Sandwich 293672 5 oz. 01/12/20 – 02/06/20 612510002049 Premo Chicken & Swiss Cheese Sandwich 915572 5 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510003213 Premo Chicken & Swiss Cheese Sandwich 208004 5 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510003213 Premo Pub Burger with Cheese 915565 5 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510003015 Premo Pub Burger with Cheese 207970 5 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510003015 Premo Asiago Italian Sub Sandwich 915558 6 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510001196 Premo Asiago Italian Sub Sandwich 207919 6 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510001196 Premo King Club Footlong Sub Sandwich 915551 9 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510001080 Premo Ham & Provolone Sub Sandwich 915544 6 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510001059 Premo Ham & Provolone Sub Sandwich 207851 6 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510001059 Premo Turkey & Swiss Cheese Sub Sandwich 915537 6 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510001042 Premo Turkey & Swiss Cheese Sub Sandwich 207834 6 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510001042 Premo Chicken Salad Wedge Sandwich 915530 5 oz. 01/12/20 – 02/06/20 612510002032 Premo Chicken Salad Wedge Sandwich 207715 5 oz. 01/12/20 – 02/06/20 612510002032 Premo Egg Salad Wedge Sandwich 915523 5 oz. 01/12/20 – 02/06/20 612510002025 Premo Egg Salad Wedge Sandwich 207698 5 oz. 01/12/20 – 02/06/20 612510002025 Premo Turkey & Cheese Wedge Sandwich 915516 5 oz. 01/12/20 – 02/06/20 612510002018 Premo Turkey & Cheese Wedge Sandwich 207681 5 oz. 01/12/20 – 02/06/20 612510002018 Premo Ham & Cheese Wedge Sandwich 915509 5 oz. 01/12/20 – 02/06/20 612510002001 Premo Ham & Chipotle Mayo on Glazed Roll 915495 6 oz. 01/07/20 – 02/01/20 612510088500 Premo Ham & Chipotle Mayo on Glazed Roll 207456 6 oz. 01/07/20 – 02/01/20 612510088500 Premo Turkey & Garlic Mayo on Split-Top Roll 915488 6 oz. 01/07/20 – 02/01/20 612510088494 Premo Turkey & Garlic Mayo on Split-Top Roll 207455 6 oz. 01/07/20 – 02/01/20 612510088494 Fresh Grab Turkey & Provolone with Garlic Mayo 455956 6 oz. 01/07/20 – 02/01/20 612510090435 Fresh Grab Ham & Cheddar with Chipotle Mayo 455939 6 oz. 01/07/20 – 02/01/20 612510090428 Fresh Grab Tuna Salad Wedge Sandwich 282022 5 oz. 01/12/20 – 02/06/20 612510002049 Fresh Grab Ham & Cheese on White Wedge Sandwich 253479 5 oz. 01/12/20 – 02/06/20 612510093962 Fresh Grab Turkey No Cheese Wedge Sandwich 253445 5 oz. 01/12/20 – 02/06/20 612510002100 Fresh Grab Chicken Salad Wedge Sandwich 253377 5 oz. 01/12/20 – 02/06/20 612510002032 Fresh Grab Egg Salad Wedge Sandwich 252901 5 oz. 01/12/20 – 02/06/20 612510002025 Fresh Grab Turkey & Cheese Wedge Sandwich 252782 5 oz. 01/12/20 – 02/06/20 612510002018 Fresh Grab Ham & Cheese Wedge Sandwich 252646 5 oz. 01/12/20 – 02/06/20 612510002001 Fresh Grab Chicken Buddies 252595 7 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510003602 Fresh Grab Chicken Sandwich 252527 3.5 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510007020 Fresh Grab Ham & Cheese Sandwich 252493 3.5 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510007006 Fresh Grab Chicken & Swiss Cheese Sandwich 252204 5 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510003213 Fresh Grab Breakfast Muffin 252153 6 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510003039 Fresh Grab Smoked Turkey Sandwich 251898 6 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510007204 Fresh Grab Asiago Italian Sub Sandwich 251847 6 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510001196 Fresh Grab Club Sub Sandwich 251796 6 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510001165 Fresh Grab Ham & Provolone Sub Sandwich 251745 6 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510001059 Fresh Grab Turkey & Swiss Cheese Sub Sandwich 251694 6 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510001042 Fresh Grab Ham & Swiss on Pretzel Sub Bun 251626 6 oz. 01/09/20 – 02/03/20 612510001028 Premo Turkey, Bacon, & Cheddar Ciabatta Sandwich 226442 6 oz. 01/07/20 – 02/01/20 612510007815 Premo Italian Ciabatta Sandwich 226323 6 oz. 01/07/20 – 02/01/20 612510007808 Premo Pesto Chicken Ciabatta 226272 6 oz. 01/07/20 – 02/01/20 612510007228

About Listeria infections
Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections. Anyone who has eaten any recalled products and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical treatment and tell their doctors about the possible Listeria exposure.

Also, anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products should monitor themselves for symptoms during the coming weeks because it can take up to 70 days after exposure to Listeria for symptoms of listeriosis to develop.

Symptoms of Listeria infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache, and neck stiffness. Specific laboratory tests are required to diagnose Listeria infections, which can mimic other illnesses.

Pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and people such as cancer patients who have weakened immune systems are particularly at risk of serious illnesses, life-threatening infections, and other complications. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, their infections can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth.

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

Company closes part of plant linked to deadly Listeria outbreak

January 23, 2020 - 12:05am

The owners of a factory in the Netherlands linked to a Listeria outbreak have decided not to reopen part of it.

The Offerman plant in Aalsmeer was shut in October this past year while Dutch authorities investigated the outbreak.

Ter Beke considered renovating the factory but will close the large hall while a smaller one which employs around 40 people will remain open. Some production lines have been moved to different plants while others stayed in Aalsmeer. The company has not yet responded to a request for comment from Food Safety News.

Outbreak details
Twenty-one people were infected with Listeria monocytogenes in the Netherlands and Belgium. One person fell sick in October 2017, eight in 2018 and 12 in 2019.

Three people died. All patients were hospitalized and one woman had a miscarriage. Two Dutch patients were pregnant women in their 30s. The others ranged in age from 64 to 94 years old and 10 were men.

Sliced ready-to-eat (RTE) meat products from boiled and raw sausages from different suppliers produced between 2017 and 2019 by Offerman were contaminated with Listeria that matched the outbreak strain.

An assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) could not identify the exact point of contamination but found it likely happened at Offerman, which was the only common manufacturing point of contaminated products.

Union action
The news was revealed by CNV, the second largest union in the Netherlands. It represents a number of workers at the Offerman Aalsmeer plant as well as other Offerman and Ter Beke sites.

Soraya Faez, from CNV, said 50 people have lost their jobs at the plant in Aalsmeer but some were offered roles at another Ter Beke site in Ridderkerk.

“The other half could stay in Aalsmeer or were offered a new position at another plant. During negotiations we agreed that the employer could offer workers positions in Ridderkerk but acceptance of that position was to be voluntary. This way a worker could choose not to accept the job in Ridderkerk and keep their severance package,” she told Food Safety News.

Faez added the union knew in October that the plant would not reopen and in the first week of January employees were told whether they could stay in Aalsmeer.

“We now have to wait and see how long the plant in Aalsmeer stays open. We did make sure that the severance package we agreed on would also apply to the workers who work in Aalsmeer at this moment. We did that because there were rumors of the second building also closing.”

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Alleged criminal group sold potentially unfit to eat horse meat

January 23, 2020 - 12:01am

Spanish authorities have busted a suspected organized crime group selling horse meat that could have been unfit for human consumption.

The Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) was supported by Europol. The alleged criminal organization, based in the province of Barcelona, reportedly falsified equine documents and sold horse meat without the mandatory documentation to support their activities. Law enforcement officials also searched various horse stables in Catalonia.

Officers from the Spanish Environment Protection Service (SEPRONA) found the implicated horse meat on the market came from 300 horses killed in slaughterhouses. Documents of more than 10,000 horses were checked during enquiries.

Supply chain involvement
The operation led to the arrests of 15 suspects and investigation of 13 others for allegedly commercializing horse meat that did not have the necessary documentation for human consumption. It resulted in the seizure of 185 falsified horse passports and detection of 100 other horses uncompliant with food market regulations.

Members of the criminal network, active since 2015 according to officials, falsified horse passports in slaughterhouses and farms in Barcelona classifying meat as fit for human food. The slaughterhouse, several livestock farms, cattle dealers and veterinarians were involved in the criminal activities.

Meat has not been available for sale since 2018 when the Civil Guard started the investigation after issues were detected with traceability meaning it was withdrawn from the market.

Seized false documents showed the group could have been responsible for introducing meat from hundreds of slaughtered animals onto the market, which failed to comply with national and European regulations.

Previous incidents
It is not the first time authorities have acted in this sector. In 2017, 65 people were arrested in Spain after a Guardia Civil and Europol operation uncovered trading of horsemeat in Europe unfit for human consumption. Work was carried out with Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Offenders were charged with animal abuse, document forgery, perverting the course of justice, crimes against public health, money laundering and being part of a criminal organization.

Operation Gazel detected horses in bad shape, too old or labelled as not suitable for consumption were slaughtered in two different slaughterhouses. The animals came from Portugal and northern Spain, their meat was processed in a facility and sent to Belgium.

In 2019, Spanish police arrested one of the alleged ringleaders of the 2013 horsemeat scandal.

Guardia Civil detained Dutchman Jan Fasen at the request of French authorities. Fasen was sentenced to two years in prison and banned from working in the French meat industry by a Paris court. He had been detained by Guardia Civil during Operation Gazel in July 2017 before being released pending trial.

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State finds Listeria in raw milk — warns consumers, shuts down dairy operations

January 22, 2020 - 2:10pm

Officials have shut down operations at a raw milk dairy and are warning consumers against using unpasteurized milk from Pennings Farm because of positive tests for potentially deadly Listeria monocytogenes.

Initial and followup testing showed the contamination, according to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. State officials first notified the dairy owners of positive initial test results on Jan. 15, but operations continued. Confirmation testing returned positive results for the pathogen on Jan. 21.

Pennings Farm, Warwick, NY, is now prohibited from selling raw milk until testing shows no contamination. No illnesses have been confirmed in relation to the raw, unpasteurized milk.

Any consumers who have any of the raw milk from Pennings Farm on hand should dispose of it immediately. Anyone who has consumed any of the raw milk should monitor themselves for symptoms of Listeria infection for the following 70 days.

About Listeria infections
Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections. Anyone who has consumed any implicated milk and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical treatment and tell their doctors about the possible Listeria exposure.

Also, anyone who has consumed any of the Pennings Farm raw milk should monitor themselves — or children who consumed the milk — for symptoms during the coming weeks because it can take up to 70 days after exposure to Listeria for symptoms of listeriosis to develop.

Symptoms of Listeria infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache, and neck stiffness. Specific laboratory tests are required to diagnose Listeria infections, which can mimic other illnesses.

Pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and people such as cancer patients who have weakened immune systems are particularly at risk of serious illnesses, life-threatening infections, and other complications. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, their infections can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth.

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