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Sweden investigating Campylobacter increase

August 22, 2020 - 12:05am

Public health officials in Sweden have noted an increase in the number of people falling ill with Campylobacter infections this month.

The rise coincides with an increase in Campylobacter in broiler flocks since the end of July, according to Folkhalsomyndigheten (Public Health Agency of Sweden).

This agency, regional infection control units, National Veterinary Institute (SVA), Livsmedelsverket (National Food Agency), Swedish Board of Agriculture and Swedish Work Environment Authority are investigating causes of the increase and trying to reduce the number of cases.

During the four weeks before the increase, the number of reported cases with domestic infections or where information about country of infection was missing were 88 cases in week 28 in early July; 77 in week 29; 88 in week 30 and 94 in week 31. In week 32 at the start of August infections increased to 149 and they reached 161 in week 33.

Investigating sudden rise in infections
The rise has affected different parts of the country but one county, Sörmland, found 12 cases in July and already there have been 19 in August.

Rikard Dryselius, a microbiologist at Folkhalsomyndigheten, said the general increase is seen in most counties across Sweden, especially in those with a large enough population base.

“We do not know yet whether it is an outbreak or not. The information we have is a sudden increase in the number of human cases that, according to the Swedish National Veterinary Institute, follows a sudden increase among large broiler flocks. Typing is under way and comparisons will be performed,” he told Food Safety News.

The SVA reports information weekly on the proportion of Campylobacter positive flocks. This shows an increase for week 29, 30 and 31.

Campylobacter infection is more common in the summer, but the increase comes after a period when the incidence has been unusually low. The prevalence of Campylobacter in broiler flocks has been very low during the first half of the year.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is one plausible explanation for the low numbers as similar patterns have also been observed for other diseases, which we intend to investigate further. An additional explanation could also be the low level of Campylobacter positive broiler flocks, as you can see in the statistics of SVA,” said Dryselius.

Tackling Campylobacter problem
For the past three years, Folkhalsomyndigheten and Livsmedelsverket have compared Campylobacter from fresh chicken bought in stores during the summer with Campylobacter from human cases during the corresponding period.

This work found about a third of cases could be linked to chicken meat and the majority to Swedish conventionally bred chicken.

Evidence so far suggests the increase in infections and higher occurrence in broiler flocks is also on this occasion connected, according to Folkhalsomyndigheten.

Folkhalsomyndigheten and the National Veterinary Institute will analyze Campylobacter samples from patients and broiler flocks as part of the investigation.

A total of 8,132 cases of campylobacteriosis were reported in 2018 compared to 10,608 in 2017. Most are considered sporadic but in the past few years, several large outbreaks linked to domestically produced chicken have occurred. In 2016 and 2017, the country had a large outbreak caused by Swedish chicken with an estimated 5,000 more cases reported between August 2016 and May 2017 than normal.

People with infection usually have diarrhea which is often bloody, fever, and stomach cramps. Nausea and vomiting may occur. Symptoms usually start two to five days after the person ingests Campylobacter and last about one week.

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Sept. 22 set for virtual public meeting on Salmonella

August 22, 2020 - 12:03am

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Food Safety (OFS) and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) are hosting a virtual public meeting on Salmonella with participation from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The FSIS staff will discuss the agency’s commitment to reduce pathogen contamination by leading with science, building relationships, and influencing behavior change to decrease Salmonella infections associated with FSIS-regulated products and save lives.

The week prior to the public meeting, the OFS will release the “Roadmap to Reducing Salmonella: Driving Change through Science-Based Policy,” which outlines how OFS and FSIS will advance programs and policies that are science-based, data-driven, and promote innovation to reduce Salmonella in meat, poultry, and egg products.

Salmonella is an important foodborne pathogen of concern in multiple FSIS-regulated food products. To address foodborne sources of Salmonella, FSIS is committed to aggressively targeting Salmonella in regulated meat, poultry, and processed egg products through various strategies and initiatives. The public meeting is part of FSIS’ efforts to be transparent and share data with stakeholders, including regulated establishments, other government agencies, industry groups, and the public.

FSIS is announcing that it will hold a virtual public meeting through a Federal Register notice and the agency is seeking comments on the Salmonella initiatives addressed at the public meeting. Industry, interested individuals, organizations, and other stakeholders are invited to participate in the public meeting and to comment on the Roadmap data and science that drive FSIS’ Salmonella reduction efforts. Interested parties should submit comments on or before September 25, 2020 at http://www.regulations.gov.

The virtual public meeting is set for Sept. 22 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. EDT. Questions must be submitted by Sept. 10 to FRN@usda.gov. Stakeholders will have an opportunity to provide oral comments during the public meeting. Stakeholders must notify FSIS during registration of their wish to speak at the meeting. The meeting is virtual and will be viewed via the Webex link provided by email when you register for the meeting. There is no fee to register for the public meeting, but pre-registration is mandatory for participants attending. All attendees must register online at https://ems8.intellor.com?do=register&t=1&p=831058.

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Wawona recalls peaches linked to multi-state Salmonella outbreak

August 21, 2020 - 5:49pm

Following recalls by major retailers, fresh fruit giant Wawona is recalling certain bagged peaches, including some organic peaches, because of links to an ongoing Salmonella outbreak.

As of yesterday there were 68 confirmed cases of Salmonella infections in people spread across nine states. For those with information available, 14 have been admitted to hospitals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prima Wawona of Fresno, CA, reported to the Food and Drug Administration that only bagged peaches — not those sold in bulk or loose fruit — are implicated in the recall. Aldi and Target already recalled Wawona peaches linked to the outbreak.

According to the recall notice, Wawona distributed and sold the implicated peaches from June 1 through Aug. 19 in supermarkets. People can use the following labeling information to determine whether they have the recalled peaches in their homes:

  • Wawona Peaches – 033383322001
  • Wawona Organic Peaches – 849315000400
  • Prima Peaches – 766342325903
  • Organic Marketside Peaches – 849315000400
  • Kroger Peaches – 011110181749
  • Wegmans Peaches – 077890490488

The product codes can be found at the bottom of each package.

The bagged peaches were distributed through retailers in the following states: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Anyone who has the recalled product in their possession should dispose of it immediately or return it to the place of purchase for a refund. Consumers with questions may contact Prima Wawona’s toll-free number at 877-722-7554 or visit its website at wawonapacking.com.

About Salmonella infections
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled peaches and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

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Farmer guilty of putting metal in baby food

August 21, 2020 - 12:05am

A man who put shards of metal in baby food jars in the United Kingdom has been found guilty of blackmail and contaminating goods.

Nigel Wright began threatening supermarket chain Tesco in spring 2018, writing to his local store in Lincolnshire and warning unless they paid him £750,000 ($982,000) worth of bitcoin – an online currency that would allow the 45-year-old to remain anonymous – he would spike food on their shelves.

Under the pseudonym ‘Guy Brush’, Wright, a farmer, demanded larger sums of money up to £1.5 million ($1.96 million) in bitcoin, telling Tesco he would also contaminate jars with Salmonella, white powder and knives.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in late September.

Heinz and Cow & Gate baby food recalled
In mid-December 2019, a mother in Lockerbie found small knife fragments in the baby food she was about to give her child. When a nationwide recall was issued in that month, a family in Rochdale also contacted the company saying they had thrown out two tins of baby food containing metal.

Cow and Gate baby food recalled in January 2020

This recall involved Heinz and Tesco removing from sale all of the 7+ months Heinz By Nature baby food range after the discovery that a jar had been tampered with as two sharp metal fragments were found in the pot. One month later, Cow & Gate and Tesco recalled 15 varieties of 7+ month Cow & Gate baby food jars sold in the UK following concerns some may have been tampered with.

Wright is believed to have placed three jars of baby food with shards of metal in two Tesco stores between May 2018 and February 2020.

Charles White, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Wright demanded an extraordinary amount of money, and was so determined to secure it that he was prepared to contaminate children’s food on supermarket shelves. It is a testament to the vigilance of parents and the swift action taken by the supermarket, police and other agencies that the public were kept safe.”

Investigation and arrest
When arrested in February 2020, Wright told police he had been threatened to do the extortion by people who said they would harm his family if he did not.

The investigation was run by the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit assisted by partners including the National Crime Agency as well as Tesco, Heinz and Cow & Gate. It was supported by the Food Standards Agency, Food Standards Scotland, Public Health England, Public Health Scotland and Police Scotland.

Operation Hancock, which was the largest blackmail inquiry ever in the UK was led by Hertfordshire Assistant Chief Constable Bill Jephson.

“Throughout this investigation, our key focus was to safeguard the public and identify the individual or group involved as they clearly had no concern for the impact of their actions. I hope the conviction of Nigel Wright will serve as a deterrent to anyone who thinks blackmail is a viable criminal option. The resources available to law enforcement to respond to threats of this nature are significant as crimes like this will simply not be tolerated,” he said.

The prosecution was able to prove there was no evidence to support Wright’s claims. Instead, Hertfordshire police found material which pointed to the fact he had acted alone.

Evidence against Wright
A laptop was discovered in his Toyota with draft copies of the extortion letters and access to the email account that “Guy Brush” had used to communicate with Tesco.

Wright searched online for “tesco tampered” and “boy autopsy” and had read an article about the recall of baby food.

The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, also known as the Old Bailey, was shown photos Wright had taken of contaminated jars, positioned next to small knives and with small, green markings on the base of the jar.

As the blackmail continued, an officer posed as a Tesco employee and gave Wright an access code for the £100,000 ($131,000) worth of bitcoin. When Wright was arrested, he had a copy of this access code written on a piece of paper.

White said evidence included the laptop, images Wright had taken of contaminated food and the bitcoin access code.

“He created an elaborate lie saying that he himself was blackmailed, but it is clear Wright was the only person responsible for potentially putting the public’s safety at risk.”

Wright was found guilty of three counts of blackmail and two counts of contaminating goods after a nine day trial. He was remanded in custody and will be sentenced in late September.

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USDA Appoints New Members to Food Safety Advisory Committees

August 21, 2020 - 12:03am

The appointment of 10 new members to the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI) and an additional new member to the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) have been announced by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

“USDA is excited to announce the new committee members to NACMPI and NACMCF,” said Under Secretary for Food Safety Mindy Brashears. “These committee members represent a diverse group distinguished by their knowledge and interest in meat and poultry safety. Their expertise and advice play a key role in informing USDA’s food safety decisions to ensure the U.S continues to have one of the safest food systems in the world.”

The new NACMPI members appointed to serve two-year terms are:

  • Jimmy L. Avery, Mississippi State University
  • William H. Battle, Pride of the Pond and Battle Fish North
  • Tina Conklin, Michigan State University
  • Patricia Ann Curtis, North Carolina State University
  • Jennifer A. Eberly, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
  • Casey Lynn Gallimore, North American Meat Institute
  • Joseph Jay Harris, Southwest Meat Association
  • Curtis Lynn Knipe, Ohio State University
  • Byron Williams, Mississippi State University
  • Sherri L. Williams, JBS USA, LLC

See here for the full list of NACMPI members.

The newly appointed NACMCF member to serve a two-year term is Shannara Lynn, National Oceanic, and Atmospheric Administration

See here the full list of NACMCF members.

Background

NACMPI was established in 1971 by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). NACMPI is an advisory committee that advises on food safety concerns and other matters affecting inspection program activities, including food safety policies that will contribute to USDA’s regulatory policy development. More information on NACMPI is available on the FSIS website.

NACMCF was established in 1988 by the USDA’s FSIS, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the Department of Commerce (National Marine Fisheries Service), and the U.S. Department of Defense. NACMCF is an advisory committee that provides impartial scientific advice and peer reviews to food safety agencies on public health issues related to the safety and wholesomeness of domestic, imported, and exported foods. More information on NACMCF is available on the FSIS website.

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French agency warns about products from Djen Foods

August 21, 2020 - 12:01am

Authorities in France have ordered the withdrawal and recall of all products sold by Djen Foods as they could be a threat to public health.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Food (DGAL) said the items, mainly beef, poultry and smoked fish, were manufactured without the necessary approvals.

The decision follows an inspection by officials in Seine-et-Marne with police in Meaux at a site located in the town. Authorities in Seine-et-Marne this past week ordered all production at the establishment to be stopped until further notice because of the potential risk to human health posed by the foodstuffs produced at the site and placed on the market.

They found the operation of Djen Foods took place in a premises with equipment unsuitable for production of foodstuffs.

Inspection findings
The establishment did not have the sanitary approval necessary for its activity and breaches of hygiene regulations intended to secure the production and placing on the market of products were observed, according to authorities.

They added performing sensitive operations such as drying and smoking or vacuum packing processed and refrigerated products, without control of the hygienic conditions and temperatures of foodstuffs poses a serious risk. Shortcomings were also noted in product traceability.

Officials did not say how long Djen Foods had been operating for or if anyone had reported an illness in relation to products from the site. French media, citing an article in Le Parisien, which is behind a paywall, quoted the owner saying he had been operating since last year and had told the authorities what he was producing and how but had not received a visit.

The recall and withdrawal includes all products marketed by Djen Foods or bearing a Djen Foods label: such as meat and fish, fresh or smoked, or other cooked dishes, in bulk or vacuum packed, kept at room temperature, refrigerated or frozen regardless of the use-by date on the foods.

Products are marketed mainly in Ile de France, probably in establishments specializing in sales of exotic foods. They can be identified by labels indicating: “Made in France by Djen Foods”.

Health officials recommended that those in possession of the implicated products do not consume them and return them to the point of sale for destruction.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Food are continuing to investigate particularly around product traceability.

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Target recalls peaches after being linked to Salmonella outbreak

August 20, 2020 - 1:43pm

Target is recalling peaches because of possible Salmonella contamination.

Minnesota state health and food safety officials are warning Minnesota consumers not to eat fresh, whole peaches supplied by Wawona Packing Company and purchased at retail locations including Aldi and Target after linking Salmonella infections to the produce.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections linked to consumption of peaches supplied by Wawona Packing Company. 

According to the MDH, ill people have reported purchasing peaches from Aldi, Target, and possibly other retail locations. On August 19, Aldi announced a recall of peaches from Wawona Packing Company, including both loose and bagged peaches. 

So far, there have been 68 reported cases of Salmonella Enteritidis resulting in 14 hospitalizations in 9 states.  — Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The full CDC report can be read here.

Twenty-three residents of Minnesota have been identified as part of the outbreak. Those ill range in age between 3 and 92, with a median age of 28. Six patients were hospitalized but have all recovered.

Target is in the process of removing peaches from its stores.

Recalled products:

Target Item Number:

  • Target Item # 267-03-4038, Peach per pound; UPC # 492670340386
  • Target Item # 266-03-0010, Peach by the each; UPC # 204038000005
  • Target Item # 266-03-0002, 2 lb peach bag; UPC # 033383322056
  • Target Item # 267-50-4044, 2 lb organic peach; UPC # 849315000400
  • Target Item # 267-03-4405, White Peach per pound UPC # 492670344056

Target is in the process of removing peaches from its stores.

Customers who have purchased the peaches should not consume them and dispose of them immediately.

As of now,  23 residents of Minnesota have been identified as part of the outbreak. Those ill range in age between 3 and 92, with a median age of 28. The patients became ill between July 12 and Aug. 3.

About Salmonella infections
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled onions and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

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ALDI recalls peaches as CDC investigates a multistate Salmonella outbreak

August 20, 2020 - 11:25am

ALDI has recalled assorted peaches received from its supplier, Wawona Packing Company, because of possible Salmonella contamination and a link to a food poisoning outbreak.

The CDC and FDA are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections linked to bagged peaches sold at ALDI stores in 9 states — Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

So far, there have been 68 reported cases of Salmonella Enteritidis resulting in 14 hospitalizations. The full report can be read here.

ALDI has removed the affected peaches from select ALDI stores in Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

The fruit was also available for purchase through the company’s partnership with Instacart, a grocery delivery service.

The affected products and UPC codes can be found below:

Product Packaging UPC Code Select Stores in These Affected States Wawona Peaches 2 lb. 2 lb. bag 033383322001 Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and West Virginia Loose Bulk Peaches Loose Bulk N/A Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia Peaches Organic 2 lb. 2 lb. bag 849315000400 Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia

 

ALDI recalls Wawona Packing Company peaches from stores.

If customers have products affected by this recall, they should discard it immediately or return it to their local store for a full refund.

Customers with additional questions can contact Wawona Packing Company LLC Customer Service at 1-877-722-7554.

About Salmonella infections
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled onions and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

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Breast milk for sale: Risks and costs 

August 20, 2020 - 12:05am

“Some of the samples have such high bacterial content, it’s closer to sewer water.”

Top athletes are always looking for an edge over their competition. Occasionally, this drive will lead them to take extreme, dangerous or even illegal steps to gain that edge. And one of the latest trends to gain an advantage? Human breast milk.

Some athletes have been using breast milk for human growth hormones and as a supplement to gain muscle mass.

The benefits of breastfeeding infants are well established, and breastfeeding is strongly recommended by health care professionals and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But that’s for babies. What about breast milk for adults? And what about breast milk as a way to bulk up and gain muscle weight? Or breast milk for treating certain kinds of cancer?

Before answering any of these questions, it’s best to start by asking, is it safe for adults to consume human breast milk at all?

The Food and Drug Administration says that there are a number of risks for consuming shared breast milk. These risks include “exposure to infectious diseases, including HIV, to chemical contaminants, such as some illegal drugs, and to a limited number of prescription drugs that might be in the human milk, if the donor has not been adequately screened. In addition, if human milk is not handled and stored properly, it could, like any type of milk, become contaminated and unsafe to drink.”

Safety of  breast milk on the internet

“Mother’s Liquid Gold” is sold on Facebook marketplace.

A quick search on Facebook marketplace will show you that breast milk sharing and selling isn’t hypothetical. It’s already happening. Selling breast milk is not illegal. It is unregulated.

“When human milk is obtained directly from individuals or through the internet, the donor is unlikely to have been adequately screened for infectious disease or contamination risk,” according to the FDA. In addition, the  FDA says it is not likely that human milk has been collected, processed, tested or stored in a way that reduces possible safety risks.

In an episode of the Netflix docuseries (Un)Well, “Bulking Up with Breast Milk,” these questions about breast milk usage are raised.

Dr. Sarah Keim, Epidemiologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, was interviewed for the (Un)Well documentary series. She talked about a study she led that was published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine in 2015, titled, “More than a lucrative liquid: the risks for adult consumers of human breast milk bought from the online market.”

“I don’t think there’s really any circumstance, where one could recommend breast milk sharing,” Keim said. “Unless you have a lab in your kitchen, you really can’t test the milk yourself and know that it’s completely safe.”

Keim’s warnings aren’t hyperbole. Her study tested 102 samples of breast milk from across the country and showed that breast milk bought online contained detectable bacteria in 93 percent of the samples.

“Some of the samples have such high bacterial content, it’s closer to sewer water,” she said.

The study says that “the lack of pasteurization and testing not only indicates a bacterial risk but breast milk also exposes consumers to a host of infectious diseases, including cytomegalovirus, hepatitis B and C, HIV-1/2, HTLV-I&II and syphilis.”

Keim’s study came to the conclusion that breast milk purchased online is not optimal for adult nutrition or in the treatment of disease, as there are more risks than proven benefits.

“As adult consumers are generally ineligible for milk banks, unless milk is coming from a known source – a lactating partner, for instance – it comes from an online source and therefore poses many unknown potentials for communicable disease. Buying online potentially exposes the consumer to bacteria, viruses and contaminants that render this not a ‘clean’ ‘super food’ for performance nutrition or supplementation.”

Where breast milk is needed most

Breast milk is sold for $1.00 an ounce on Facebook marketplace.

However, there are safe ways to get human breast milk for babies. The FDA recommends that, if after consultation with a health care provider, people who decide to feed a baby with human milk from a source other than the baby’s mother, should only use milk from a source that has screened its milk donors and taken other precautions to ensure the safety of its milk.

“There are human milk banks that take voluntary steps to screen milk donors and safely collect, process, handle, test and store the milk. In a few states, there are required safety standards for such milk banks. FDA has not been involved in establishing these voluntary guidelines or state standards.”

Verified milk banks can be found through organizations like Human Milk Banking, Association of North America. 

There is another concern to consider when asking whether adults should consume human breast milk, is there enough? 

Human breast milk is always in demand. It can be vital for premature babies to receive milk instead of formula. Less than half of mothers with premature babies can provide the milk needed for their babies to provide nutrients, immune and growth-promoting components.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the screening of milk donors has become more rigorous. This has made keeping a sufficient supply of donor milk even more difficult. Adults using human milk potentially diminish the donor supply from milk banks and take away milk from the premature babies that need it most.

So for the athlete looking to bulk up, there’s more than just the efficacy of breast milk in relation to performance to think about. The athlete must also consider the potential health risks and the damage they may be causing by using a limited supply of breast milk.

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Outbreak investigation finds different Salmonella strain in chicken nuggets

August 20, 2020 - 12:03am

Testing of chicken nuggets as part of an outbreak investigation has revealed a different strain of Salmonella.

Public Health England (PHE) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) are investigating a 2018 Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak to try and find the source.

Chicken nuggets were tested because they were referenced in a patient interview in relation to the Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak but while negative for that strain they were positive for Salmonella Infantis.

PHE has confirmed there are no cases linked to the Salmonella found in the chicken nuggets. The agency is looking at a number of other Salmonella infections to see if it’s possible to establish a common cause for them.

An initial Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) alert described a foodborne outbreak in the United Kingdom suspected to be caused by Salmonella in frozen chicken nuggets from Poland. While the alert was still live at the time of publication, Food Safety News has been assured it is incorrect.

Raw product that needs cooking
The chicken nuggets product was sold in a supermarket and the retailer has withdrawn it from sale. The FSA would not say if the item was currently being sold.

Screenshot of RASFF notice that FSN has been assured is incorrect

“Due to confidentiality requirements of RASFF we do not share details on brand or business names. The RASFF portal is a restricted system because it contains commercially sensitive information,” said an FSA spokeswoman.

“As this is a raw product, effective cooking in line with the instructions on the pack, and normal good hygiene practices will prevent illness. Therefore a recall was not required. As the product is produced in Poland, we have notified the authorities in Poland via RASFF to investigate further with the manufacturer.”

The spokeswoman said such products are not ready to eat and require cooking.

“If cooked in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and good hygiene handling practices are followed, such as washing hands after handling the raw products and good kitchen hygiene, then this will be sufficient to protect people from illness.”

Supermarket chain Iceland recently recalled chicken breast toppers and southern fried chicken popsters because Salmonella was found in the products.

The FSA said investigations are ongoing but there’s no confirmed link between the two issues as yet.

Iceland Chip Shop Curry Chicken Breast Toppers 400-gram with best-before dates Feb. 27, March 17 and April 8, 2021 are affected. Southern Fried Chicken Popsters in a 220-gram pack have a best-before date of April 4, 2021.

Raw material for these products came from Poland and they were distributed to Brunei, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Falkland Islands, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Ireland, Israel, Jersey, Malta, Norway, Saint Helena, Saudi Arabia Spain and Thailand.

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Marginal movement on E. coli infections in Scotland

August 20, 2020 - 12:02am

Levels of E. coli infections reported in Scotland were marginally down in 2019 based on figures released by Health Protection Scotland.

This past year, there were 150 cases of E. coli O157 and 108 of non-O157 STEC, which is a slight decrease on the 156 cases of E. coli O157 and 110 non-O157 STEC patients in 2018.

Four outbreaks were reported. This was fewer than the six in 2018, and the average from 2014 to 2018 of five outbreaks with a range of three to nine per year. In 2019, outbreaks involved three different serogroups; two of E. coli O157, one of O26 and one of O125. In all four, the main mode of transmission was considered to be food.

Data comes from a Health Protection Scotland (HPS), part of Public Health Scotland (PHS), publication on Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157 and other STEC infections for 2019.

High infection rates
Enhanced surveillance of E. coli O157 and other STEC is done with the Scottish E. coli O157/STEC Reference Laboratory (SERL) and NHS board health protection teams. Data is also integrated with other sources, such as ObSurv, the system for surveillance of all general outbreaks of infectious intestinal disease.

Rates of E. coli O157 infection in Scotland rose in the mid-1990s and remain high compared to other countries in the United Kingdom and Europe. More than 40 percent of people are admitted to hospital as a result of infection.

The age distribution of 149 cases of E. coli O157 ranged from less than one to more than 90 years old. A total of 56 percent of cases were female. Children less than 16 years of age accounted for 33 percent of cases and 13 percent were over 65 years. As seen in previous years, children younger than 5 years old had the highest rate of infection. Cases peaked in summer months with most infections in the second and third quarters of the year, with 65 percent of cases in this period.

Like in past years, phage type (PT) 21/28 and PT8 remain the two most frequently reported based on the available 135 isolates with 33 and 32 respectively. Of the 149 reports of E. coli O157 in 2019, 29 had no identifiable Shiga toxin genes. This was a slight decrease on the 33 Shiga toxin negative cases in 2018 and the 31 in 2017.

Non-O157 in Scotland
Lab and surveillance data is also captured on non-O157 STEC infections which account for 42 percent of all STEC reports in Scotland. One person had two different serotypes of non-O157 STEC so overall 109 lab reports of non-O157 STEC were identified compared to 110 in 2018 and 83 in 2017.

Twenty-four different non-O157 STEC serogroups were found in 2019 plus two unidentifiable serogroups, of which 13 were reported only once. STEC O26 was the most common with 34 while the only other serogroup in double figures was STEC O125 and nine cases were STEC O145.

Age distribution of the 108 cases ranged from less than one to more than 80 while 49 percent were female. Children less than 16 years of age accounted for 29 percent of cases and 12 percent were more than 65 years old. As in previous years, children younger than 5 years old had the highest rate of infection.

Most infections occurred in the second and third quarters of the year, with 69 percent of cases in this period. The peak in weeks 41 to 44 was associated with an outbreak of E. coli O26.

Information on 233 cases of E. coli were reported to HPS following case interviews by the local health protection team; 133 of E. coli O157 and 100 of non-O157 STEC. In total, 38 percent of cases where information was known were admitted to hospital for at least one night during illness. For E. coli O157 this figure was 45 percent and for non-O157 STEC it was 28 percent.

Of the 233 cases where information was available, 27 percent of all E. coli cases acquired their infection outside the UK. For E. coli O157, 29 percent reported travel outside the UK and for non-O157 STEC cases the figure was 24 percent.

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HelloFresh recalls onions as part of outbreak control efforts

August 19, 2020 - 5:07pm

HelloFresh is recalling its onions because of the potential presence of Salmonella. Customers are asked to discard all onions received from May 8 through July 31. This recall comes after HelloFresh’s onion supplier Thomson International Inc. recalled red, yellow, white, and sweet yellow onions. 

Onions from Thomson International Inc. have been linked to a Salmonella Newport outbreak strain that as of Aug. 18, 2020, has seen a total of 869 people infected in 47 states. Hundreds have also been infected in Canada where additional products are recalled.

It is recommended that all onions received during the specified time period are disposed of. Customers should check the product codes, located on the bottom square of the box shipping label.

The recalled products:

Production Week Production Week Start Date

HelloFresh Product Codes*

*Number sequence may vary

Everyplate Product Codes*

*Number sequence may vary 20 5/08 2-3-5-6-17 81-82-84-86-92-94 21 5/15 2-8-15-19 82-86-83-93 22 5/22 2-5-6-9-20 87-88-89-93-90-94 23 5/29 6-8-9-15-B- 3-5-20 82-84-86-87-89-91-92-95 24 6/5 6-8-17- B 82-84-86-89-90-95-83-93 25 6/12 3-4-10-15-18-17-19-20 82-87-88-95-82-87-88-95 26 6/19 2-3- 8-12 88-89-84-93 27 6/26 5-17- 4-15-18-20 82-87-89-90-91- 84-92-93 28 7/3 3-9-10-12-15-17- 6 85-86-90-91 29 7/10 3-20-7-21 82-88-89-90-92-96 30 7/17 4-19-21 82-84-89-94-96- 83-95 31 7/24 2-3-4-19-7-8-16 82-92- 81-84-87-89-94-96-98

 

Please see the photo provided as a reference for locating the product code.

The FDA recommends extra caution in disinfecting and sanitizing surfaces and containers that may have come in direct contact with these products. The company notes that in the event that the onions have been consumed, please note that thoroughly cooking the product to 165ºF, as instructed by the recipe, will kill the salmonella bacteria.

HelloFresh says that they have taken immediate steps to ensure our onions are no longer sourced from this supplier.

If customers have any additional questions, they can contact HelloFresh at hello@hellofresh.com.

About Salmonella infections
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled onions and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

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Aux Vivres recalls tempeh and vegan burgers because of Bacillus cereus

August 19, 2020 - 5:02pm

The Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ), in collaboration with the Food Inspection Division of the City of Montreal and the company Aux Vivres, is recalling certain veggie burgers and tempeh because of possible Bacillus cereus contamination. They are warning the public not to consume the products.

The recalled products:

Product name Format CUP Targeted lot  “Maple-smoked tempeh” 200 g  27932500455 Units sold bearing the use-by date (“best before”) of September 8, 2020  “Smoked onion tempeh”  200 g  627932500752 Units sold bearing the expiration date (“best before”) of September 22, 2020  “Veggie burger”  380 g  627932500158 Units sold bearing the expiration date (“best before”) of August 13, 2020

The products were available for sale at locations across Quebec province. Tempehs were vacuum-packed in clear plastic wrap and sold refrigerated. The “Veggie burger” was packaged in a clear plastic container with a white plastic lid and was sold refrigerated. The label includes, in addition to the proper name of the products, the words “AUX VIVRES”.

The company is voluntarily recalling the products in question. They agreed with the MAPAQ and the Food Inspection Division of the City of Montreal to disseminate this notice as a precautionary measure. So far, there have been no illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.

Consumers who have any of these products in their possession are advised not to consume it. They should either return it to the establishment where they bought it or throw it away. Even if the products do not show any signs of spoilage or odor, consuming them may represent a health risk.

The full recall can be viewed here.

Bacillus cereus

The symptoms of Bacillus cereus food poisoning can include vomiting or diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and pain and may occur between 30 minutes and 15 hours after consuming the contaminated product. Infants, children, and pregnant women are susceptible to dehydration resulting from diarrhea.

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National Herring Import Co. recalls smoked trout spread because of possible listeria

August 19, 2020 - 4:59pm

The Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ), in collaboration with the Food Inspection Division of the City of Montreal and the National Herring Import Company Ltd., is recalling LA Boucanerie “smoked trout spread” because of possible listeria monocytogenes contamination.

The company is advising the public not to consume the product. 

The recalled product:

Product name Format Targeted lot “Smoked trout spread” 160 g Units sold bearing the use-by date (“best before”) of September 14, 2020

This product was available for sale locations across the province of Quebec. It was packaged in a clear plastic container with a black plastic lid and was sold refrigerated. The label includes, in addition to the proper name of the product, the words “LA BOUCANERIE”.

The company is voluntarily recalling the product in question. They agreed with the MAPAQ and the Food Inspection Division of the City of Montreal to release this notice as a precautionary measure. So far there have been no illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

The full recall can be viewed here.

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 of the 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 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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Administrative action light against large establishments during ‘COVID-19 Quarter’

August 19, 2020 - 12:05am

Only a handful of large meat and poultry establishments were subjected to administrative action by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service this past quarter when the industry came under pandemic pressures.

Food Safety News previously reported production during the April to June quarter kept fairly close to normal at 85.5 percent for livestock and 96.29 percent for poultry. Slaughter was disrupted during the quarter by numerous temporary plant shutdowns and production cutbacks as companies struggled with adjustments related to COVID-19.

The situation became serious enough that by April 28 that the White House empowered USDA, under the Defense Production Act, to keep meat and poultry plants operating while they managed their way through employee COVID-19 illnesses.

During the tumultuous quarter, USDA inspection personnel took administrative actions against only 17 large establishments. USDA was also charged during the quarter with implementing the guidance for meat and poultry plants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to minimize virus spread. That activity is not included in the report.

Here’s what it does say about large plant enforcement activities:

  • JBS and Smithfield Fresh Meat, which were among the temporary closures, led the large establishment administrative actions detailed in the FSIS quarterly enforcement report.
  • The JBS beef plant at Greeley, CO, got a warning letter on May 14 for sanitation violations the in December 2019. The JBS beef plant at Grand Island, NE, was cited for inhumane treatment at slaughter on June 27 this year.
  • A warning letter was sent by FSIS to the JBS pork facility at Ottumwa, IA, on May 11 for sanitation and HACCP violations in December 2019. At its Marshalltown, IA, pork facility, JBS got a deferral for an inhumane treatment at slaughter violation.
  • The Smithfield Fresh Meat Corp. plant in Milan, MO, was also subject to a May 28, 2020 warning letter for inhumane treatment at slaughter. And at Monmouth, IL, a May 8, 2020, warning letter for an inhumane treatment at slaughter incident also went to Smithfield.
  • Three other companies — FPL Foods LLC in Augusta, GA, Preferred Freezer of Elizabeth, NJ, and Sterling Foods of Union City, CA — were subjects of warning letters for violating regulatory control actions.

Other large establishments against which FSIS took administrative action include Agri Star Meat and Poultry LLC, Postville, IA, for inhumane slaughter; Allen Harim Foods, Harbeson, DE, for sanitation; Butterball LLC, Carthage, MO, for sanitation, HACCP; Indiana Packers, Delphi, IN, for inhumane slaughter; Jennie O Turkey, Faribault, MN, for  sanitation, HACCP; Pitman Farms, Moroni, UT, for sanitation, HACCP; Washington Beef, LLC, Toppenish, WA, sanitation, HACCP; and Whole Stone Farms, Fremont, NE, for inhumane slaughter,

The report for the government’s third quarter, covering the period from April 1 to June 30, shows FSIS inspection personnel inspected 35.67 million livestock carcasses, down from 42.90 million in the second quarter of the fiscal year. Because of interruptions in production, meat industry experts say animals slaughtered later in the quarter were fatter than normal.  That means the gap between this quarter and the previous is likely even narrower.

Meat and poultry shortages were forecast at the time the White House opted to use the Defense Production Act for the industry. While shortages were largely avoided, consumers started the grilling season paying about 10 percent more than a year earlier for beef products.

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PHE axed with England to get new health agency

August 19, 2020 - 12:03am

Public Health England has been scrapped with England to get a new public health authority.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced a new agency called the National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP) that is focused on controlling infectious disease, pandemics and health protection.

PHE circulates laboratory data on pathogens, infections and communicable diseases of public health importance and reports on outbreaks, incidents and ongoing investigations. PHE Food Water and Environmental Microbiology lab staff are involved in investigating outbreaks of foodborne disease. PHE is also the United Kingdom’s national reference laboratory (NRL) for food microbiology. It is as yet unclear how these and other functions will be transferred to NIHP.

“To give ourselves the best chance of . . . spotting and being ready to respond to other health threats, now and in the future — we are creating a brand new organization to provide a new approach to public health protection and resilience,” said Hancock in a prepared statement.

Plans are to model the new agency on Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI). It will start immediately under interim leadership of Dido Harding and the transition will be complete in spring 2021. Michael Brodie will be interim chief executive officer of PHE and Duncan Selbie, outgoing PHE chief executive, will become a senior advisor to the Department of Health and Social Care on global and public health.

Selbie said the change does not reflect failure on PHE’s part: “The future arrangements for delivering everything else we do for the country including on health improvement and our corporate services will be worked through over the coming weeks and months . . . “

The Health Protection Agency model was scrapped by the government when PHE was launched in 2013 and public health was brought under control of the Department of Health and Social Care. PHE has faced criticism for its handling of aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wide remit and reorganizing during global pandemic
Plans were leaked during the weekend in The Daily Telegraph before being made official a few days later. Speaking before the official announcement, Debbie Wood, executive director of membership and external affairs at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, said PHE’s remit extends beyond pandemics.

“They have a wider role in protecting and improving the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reducing health inequalities. Simply scrapping PHE and replacing it with a new unit is not a magic wand that will solve all of the issues the country has faced in dealing with COVID-19,” she said.

“Focusing on sweeping organizational change when we are still in the middle of a pandemic is questionable, and we would urge the UK Government to instead put its resources into addressing the situation on the ground. Test and trace needs improving, and local authorities and public health teams need better support.”

Unite, a union representing some PHE employees, said instead of merging it into a new body, PHE should continue its present role and money cut from its budget by the government should be restored. Unite national officer for health Jackie Williams said PHE and its staff are being lined up as the fall guy.

“We are calling for PHE to continue in its present role and allowed to do its vital work, rather than spend huge amounts of time, effort and money reorganizing England’s public health structures in the middle of a global pandemic,” she said.

“The lack of consultation is both appalling and insulting. PHE needs to have the resources to do the job it is designed to do, which is protecting the public health of the people in England, without inappropriate buck-passing political interference.”

Other PHE responsibilities
Christina Marriott, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, questioned the timing of plans to scrap the national public health agency in the midst of a global pandemic and before any public inquiry has started.

“Public health cannot be defined as a narrow health protection agenda. COVID-19 has shown that tackling non-communicable diseases such as obesity and diabetes, including their health inequalities, is vital if England’s population is to be resilient to pandemics. It may be appropriate for the functions to sit in different agencies – but clear accountability for outcomes in health improvement, health inequalities and health protection must be established.”

Ian Johnson, nutrition researcher and Emeritus Fellow, Quadram Institute Bioscience, said the responsibilities of PHE in relation to non-communicable diseases must not be forgotten.

“I very much hope that the excellent contributions that PHE currently makes to the field of public health nutrition, particularly in relation to food policy and the management of obesity, will be supported and strengthened for the future,” he said.

Beth Thompson, head of UK/EU Policy at Wellcome, said people mustn’t lose sight of the fact that public health threats are not limited to COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

“We cannot afford to neglect urgent public health challenges such as mental health and drug-resistant infections.”

Professor Linda Bauld, Professor of Public Health, University of Edinburgh, said the overwhelming burden of death and disease is caused by chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia and others.

“A significant proportion of these diseases are preventable and PHE plays a central role in that through its health improvement functions. This involves addressing health inequalities, overweight and obesity, smoking, harmful use of alcohol, drug misuse, air pollution and a huge range of other important public health priorities. There is a real risk that reorganization threatens these functions. We don’t yet know how or where they will continue to be delivered,” Bauld said

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Fruit and veg most non-compliant category in import checks

August 19, 2020 - 12:02am

Imported fruit and vegetables remained the foodstuff with the most non-compliances in the latest round of testing by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA).

Food safety statistics from January to June showed that 396 of 3,177 consignments of fruits and vegetables failed. A total of 87.5 percent of consignments passed SFA’s standards while all other categories had pass rates higher than 95 percent.

In the previous report, 3,825 consignments of fruit and vegetables were sampled from April to December 2019 with 491 failing. Sample failures were because of microbiological, chemical or pesticide residues exceeding allowable limits.

Of 4,239 meat and meat products tested in the first six months of 2020 only 39 failed and from 790 seafood products sampled only 33 were non-compliant. Out of 515 processed eggs analyzed 21 breached the regulations. From 271 chicken and quail eggs just one sample failed. Of 1,239 processed food tests, 59 violated the regulations.

SFA adopts a risk-based approach and is guided by science-based risk assessment and management. This means food of higher risks are subject to more stringent checks at the point of import. The country imports more than 90 percent of its food.

For products that fail tests, SFA rejects the consignments and requires importers to solve the issue with suppliers from overseas. Offenders who illegally import food are liable on conviction to a maximum fine of SGD $50,000 (U.S. $35,900) and/or imprisonment for up to two years.

Businesses, outbreaks and recalls
For food produced, manufactured, and sold locally, SFA licenses and inspects the premises to ensure compliance with food safety regulations.

Retail had the most inspections and percentage of non-compliances. More than 26,600 inspections found almost 1,300 non-compliances. Of 1,431 inspections of farms only two detected non-compliances. From 2,890 checks at non-retail 54 violations were found. They included poor housekeeping and upkeep of the premises, poor maintenance of equipment and pest infestation.

There were five gastroenteritis outbreaks in the first half of 2020 and 16 recalls, mostly due to allergens and chemicals. The amount of recalls was the same as the second half of 2019 but the number of outbreaks was down from 22  in April through December.

SFA has also established maximum limits for mercury, bromate, and mycotoxins in various foods effective beginning September 2020. These limits are in-line with relevant Codex or regulatory standards of developed countries, according to the agency.

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Hundreds more sick in outbreak traced to Thomson International onions

August 18, 2020 - 7:22pm

More than 200 patients have been added to the tally in a Salmonella outbreak traced to certain fresh onions. Meanwhile, federal officials are testing water and other possible sources of the contamination.

Since the previous update on Aug. 7, an additional 229 ill people have been confirmed, including nine from four new states: Arkansas, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Texas. As of today, 869 infected people have been reported in 47 states, with 116 of those patients having been admitted to hospitals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The implicated onions, from Thomson International Inc., were recalled on Aug. 1. The recall includes all varieties of onions that could have come in contact with potentially contaminated red onions, according to the Food and Drug Administration’s outbreak investigation report. Recalled products include red, yellow, white, and sweet yellow onions shipped nationwide from May 1, to Aug. 1. they were sold under the following brand names: Thomson Premium, TLC Thomson International, Tender Loving Care, El Competitor, Hartley’s Best, Onions 52, Majestic, Imperial Fresh, Kroger, Utah Onions, and Food Lion.

“Recalls have also been initiated by companies that sold onions or products containing the recalled onions. FDA has published a list of Recalls of Food Products Associated with Onions from Thomson International, Inc. and USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has published a list of Ready-to-Eat Meat and Poultry Products Containing Recalled Onions,” according to the FDA update posted today.

The FDA is working with the CDC to investigate the Salmonella Newport outbreak. As part of the root cause investigation at Thomson International, Inc. the FDA is collecting and analyzing onions, water and environmental samples.

Investigators in the United States are working with colleagues in Canada on a related outbreak there that has been traced to Thomson’s onions. As of its Aug. 14 update 339 confirmed cases of Salmonella Newport illness linked to this outbreak had been reported in seven provinces, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is also involved in the outbreak investigation. It has issued a number of food recall warnings for related products that went to Canada. Some of the products were possibly distributed nationally.

About Salmonella infections
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has eaten any recalled products and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

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Organic soup recalled after consumer complaints, mistakes at Faribault Foods

August 18, 2020 - 6:39pm

Minnesota’s Faribault Foods Inc. has recalled 15,134 pounds of canned soup because of misbranding and undeclared allergens, according to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The product contains milk and soy, known allergens, as well as beef and pork, which are not declared on the product label.

The cans labeled as chicken noodle soup actually contain a meatball and pasta product. The canned soup items were produced on May 26, 2020 Consumers can use the following information to determine whether they have the recalled soup:.

  • 14-oz. cans of “PROGRESSO ORGANIC CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP” with a best by date of “BestByMAY262022” printed on the bottom of the can and a best by date of “09JUN2022” printed on the product case.

The recalled products  bear establishment number “EST18826A” printed on the bottom of the can under the best by date. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

The mistakes were discovered when the firm’s distributor notified FSIS of consumer complaints that the soup contained meatballs and pasta instead of chicken and noodles.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ pantries. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

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

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Tiger Brands to sell processed meat division traced to deadly outbreak

August 18, 2020 - 12:05am

Tiger Brands is to sell its processed meats division, which includes the business implicated in the Listeria outbreak in South Africa in 2017 and 2018.

The transaction includes two separate deals — Molare Proprietary Ltd. will buy the abattoir business at Olifantsfontein and Silver Blade Abattoir Proprietary Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Country Bird Holdings, will acquire the meat processing businesses at Germiston, Polokwane and Pretoria.

Molare, a major supplier of pigs to the abattoir business, will pay 117 million Rand ($6.7 million) for this deal while Silver Blade has agreed a 311 million Rand ($17.8 million) purchase for the meat processing businesses and all the inventories with the transaction expected to be effective beginning in November this year.

Listeria outbreak
The value added meat products (VAMP) business units operate from an abattoir and three meat processing facilities in South Africa, where they produce and package products such as polony, viennas, bacon and sausages.

The listeriosis outbreak began in 2017 and was declared over in September 2018 with 1,065 confirmed cases and 218 deaths and is now the subject of a class action law suit. It was traced in March 2018 to a ready-to-eat processed meat product called polony made at the plant in Polokwane and run by Enterprise Foods, which is owned by Tiger Brands.

Country Bird operates the Supreme Chicken brand, which provides frozen chickens for households, Nutri Feeds brand, which is active in animal nutrition, Opti Agri brand supplying day old chicks into the poultry market, Country Bird Logistics brand which provides a wholesale branch to Country Bird´s operations and poultry related operations in eight other African countries.

Noel Doyle, CEO of Tiger Brands, said almost 1,000 jobs will be safeguarded with the sale of the business.

“This is no small matter, particularly given the escalating unemployment in South Africa in the context of the severely constrained environment and poor economic outlook. We felt that it was our duty to our employees, customers and consumers to ensure that the processed meats category – an important source of protein to many South Africans – properly recovered after the listeriosis outbreak,” he said.

No impact on class action
Tiger Brands conducted a review in 2017 looking at selling its VAMP business. However, the outbreak and closure of manufacturing facilities delayed the evaluation. When the business re-opened at the beginning of the 2019 financial year, a review was started.

In late 2019, a Tiger Brands stock market statement said the business was “not an ideal fit within its portfolio” and that consideration should be given to exiting the category with several offers received.

Tiger Brands said the transactions do not impact the class action law suit or affect its commitment to resolve the ongoing legal process. Any potential liability under the class action will not transfer to the new owners.

“We cannot overstate the significant and far reaching consequences of the listeriosis crisis, particularly on the victims of the outbreak and their families. Tiger Brands remains committed to following due process to ensure that an equitable resolution of the matter is reached in the shortest possible time,” said Doyle.

Tiger Brands representatives said the transactions do not impact the class action or affect its commitment to resolve the ongoing legal process.

In June, the Johannesburg Division of the Gauteng High Court ruled in favor of Tiger Brands telling the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), two accredited national laboratories and some meat producers to provide epidemiological information for the class action lawsuit.

Tiger Brands said the ruling would help provide access to information relevant to the proceedings and enable parties on both sides to move matters forward. The firm issued subpoenas in May 2019 to NICD and other parties requesting the information and later filed an application to the High Court.

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