lunes, 22 de diciembre de 2014

The ongoing risk of Listeria caused by caramelized apples.

Twenty-six ill people have been hospitalized and nine illnesses were pregnancy-related, five patients died.
Listeria monocytogenes is an organism, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Listeria infection can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
Illnesses as of Friday Evening: As of Friday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 28 people (although the Washington State Department of Health reports 29) have been infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes from 10 states linked to commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples.  The states reporting illnesses are:
•Arizona (4), California (1), Minnesota (4), Missouri (5), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (1), Texas (4), Utah (1), Washington (1) and Wisconsin (2). Twenty-six ill people have been hospitalized. Among the 26 people hospitalized, five deaths have been reported.  The States reporting deaths are: •Minnesota (2), California (1), Texas (1) and Missouri (1).
Listeria was a contributing factor, but not cause of the Missouri death. One 81-year-old woman who died of Listeria in California on December 2 after purchasing and consuming a caramel apple shortly before Halloween.  The family has been informed that she is a link to the outbreak by California health officials.  Nine illnesses were pregnancy-related (occurred in a pregnant woman or her newborn infant). Three invasive illnesses (meningitis) were among otherwise healthy children aged 5–15 years. Outbreak Investigation as of Saturday Morning: The information CDC has at this time indicates that commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples are the source of the outbreak
The most detailed information comes from the Minnesota Department of Health.  Minnesota cases purchased prepackaged caramel apples from Cub Foods, Kwik Trip, and Mike’s Discount Foods, which carried Carnival brand and Kitchen Cravings brand caramel apples.  Both brands are made by H. Brooks, a 110-year old company in New Brighton. The company only sells the caramel apples in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
At this time, no illnesses related to this outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and not prepackaged or to caramel candy.
Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify cases that may be part of this outbreak.  DNA “fingerprinting” is being performed on the Listeria bacteria isolated from ill persons using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS).  Two outbreak clusters were identified by the PFGE technique, and Listeria isolates within each cluster were found to be highly related by the WGS technique but distinct between the two clusters. CDC is investigating the two clusters together because one person was infected with both Listeria strains simultaneously and also because illnesses in the two clusters have occurred during a similar time period and in similar regions of the country.

Source: FoodHACCP Newsletter

viernes, 19 de diciembre de 2014

Walmart leads the charge toward improved poultry safety.

The end result, must be a reduction in Salmonella of at least 1­log10 (i.e., a 10­fold reduction) on all chicken parts supplied to Walmart.
Walmart’s existing food safety program already requires poultry suppliers to achieve prevention-based certification against one of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) internationally recognized standards.
Under the new program, US poultry suppliers for Walmart and Sam’s Club will need to implement holistic controls “from farm to fork” to significantly reduce potential Salmonella and other pathogens. All poultry suppliers must comply with by June 30, 2016.
Devil’s in the details: The enhanced poultry measures involve a 4­point prevention and reduction plan along the entire poultry production chain, the four critical control points are: 1) primary breeder stock, 2) Biocontrol measures, 3) whole chicken process control, and 4) chicken parts intervention.
Regarding point 1: Wall Mart want to reduce the vertical transmission of Salmonella to broiler flocks, all poultry suppliers are expected to source from primary breeders who participate in USDA’s National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) for Breeding Poultry (9 CFR145.83).
Salmonella data, obtained via the current NPIP programs, must be reviewed by suppliers on a regular basis. This will enable them to measure the effectiveness of preventive and corrective actions that occur when Salmonella is detected, and to reduce recurrences.
Presently, primary breeders have done a good job of driving down rates of contamination, this goal and the Company will ask suppliers to report on their progress regularly.
Biocontrol on the farm: As for point 2, when Salmonella serotypes associated with human illness are detected in a poultry housing complex, suppliers must use autogenous (endogenous) or commercial Salmonella bacterins (vaccines derived from killed or attenuated bacteria) to vaccinate broiler­breeder flocks against those serotypes. Moreover, to further control horizontal transmission at broiler farms, we are asking suppliers to re­double their efforts to adhere to disease prevention best practices associated with bio­security and vector control.“
Point 3 focuses on process control measures for whole­bird processors. Poultry suppliers are expected to implement a regulatory approved intervention or combination of two interventions, one between pre­scald and the other post chill.
“Those interventions must consistently produce at least a cumulative 4­log10 (99.99%) reduction of Salmonella. Both intervention(s) and their corresponding reductions must be scientifically validated.

Parts and labor: Point 4 involves interventions to reduce Salmonella rates in chicken parts. In recent years, the industry has done a good job driving down rates of Salmonella on whole birds, but today, Americans are buying more chicken parts, USDA has reported that 24% of all chicken parts produced in the US are contaminated with Salmonella. Source: Food production daily

viernes, 5 de diciembre de 2014

Bacteria Spell Out Dutch Food Safety Education Campaign

The Netherlands Nutrition Centre launched a new food safety campaign in November with a little typographic help from bacteria.

For their five educational posters posted across the country, the Centre grew bacteria into the shape of words. Microbial samples from the dishcloths, vegetables and cutting boards of ordinary Dutch kitchens were cultured and photographed for the project.

Foodborne illnesses affect about 700,000 Dutch each year, and the goal of the campaign, entitled “Ziekmakers zie je niet” (“You can’t see what makes you ill”), was to help make invisible bacteria visible to consumers.

Translated into English, the five steps for safely preparing food at home featured on the posters were:
§  Buy refrigerated products that last.
§  Wash your dishcloth every day.
§  Cut meat on a separate cutting board.
§  Stir food you heat in the microwave.
§  Set your refrigerator at 4 degrees C (about 39 degrees F).

More than 2,000 posters appeared across the country in outdoor spaces such as bus shelters for the first week of the campaign, followed by 500 in the second week.

The campaign also ran online banners showing time-lapses of the bacterial growth, overtook the homepage of Dutch news website, and created a video about the making of the posters.

Source: Food Safety News

miércoles, 3 de diciembre de 2014

USA Study: Most Would Accept Nanotechnology, Genetic Modification in Food for Nutrition, Safety

“New technology rejecters” wouldn’t buy GM or nanotech foods under any circumstances and encompassed 18 percent of survey participants.

The study was conducted in four consumer groups: ‘Price Oriented/Technology Adopters’, ‘Technology Averse’, ‘Benefit Oriented’, and ‘New Technology Rejecters’.

Each consumer group has a distinctive demographic background, which generates deeper insights into the diversified public acceptance of nano-food and GM food.
The results obtained suggests that most consumers will accept nanotechnology or genetic modification technology in their food if it will enhance nutrition or improve safety.

The researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of Minnesota conducted a nationally representative survey of 1,117 U.S. consumers. They asked about their willingness to purchase genetically modified (GM) food and foods containing nanotech and qualifiers such as price, enhanced nutrition, improved taste and improved safety, and whether the food’s production had environmental benefits.

The results were published in the Journal of Agricultural Economics and showed that consumers are generally willing to pay more to avoid these technologies in their food, but that they are more accepting of it if there are health and safety benefits.

The researchers divided participants into four groups. The first were the “price-oriented,” who tend to base their decisions in grocery store aisles on the food’s cost regardless of the presence of the technologies. This group made up 23 percent of those surveyed.

The “technology averse” would buy GM or nanotech foods only if those products conveyed food safety benefits. They made up 19 percent of the participants.
Forty percent of participants fit into the “benefit-oriented” group, which would buy GM or nanotech foods if they had enhanced nutrition or were safer.

The study showed that GM or nanotech food products have greater potential to be viable in the marketplace if companies focus on developing products that have safety and nutrition benefits, said Dr. Jennifer Kuzma, senior author of the paper on the research and co-director of the Genetic Engineering in Society Center at NC State. “From a policy standpoint, it also argues that GM and nanotech foods should be labeled, so that the technology rejecters can avoid them.”

Source: Journal of Agricultural Economics, doi: 10.1111/1477-9552.12090

martes, 2 de diciembre de 2014

China food and drug administration announces list of accredited testing agencies for health foods

The additional 22 testing agencies will be responsible for evaluation and testing of both indigenous and imported health foods.
The CFDA has announced the updated list of accredited testing agencies for Health Food efficacy testing. On the 5th of August the CFDA announced a further 22 governmentally sanctioned testing Institutes that have been selected for testing and scientific substantiation of the 27 health claims permissible under Chinese regulations bringing the total number of accredited testing institutes to 32.  
In addition to approving the testing institutes listed below the selection of The National Centre for Food Safety Risk assessment was also made.

The testing institutes have been selected based on their testing capabilities. China requires pre-market approval of health food by CFDA and only testing reports from CFDA-accredited agencies will be accepted for registration.

The additional 22 testing agencies will be responsible for evaluation and testing of both indigenous and imported health foods. Each registered testing agency will be accredited to carry out testing for a period of 5 years beginning on October 5th 2013. The battery of tests available at each agency corresponds to its testing capabilities, so dependent on the specific claim being tested only certain 

Institutes will suffice. It is therefore extremely important to verify the range of tests available at each Institute.


EU authorities propose moratorium on the use of nanomaterials in foods

The Committee also amended the existing definition of nanomaterials.

On November 24, 2014, the European Parliament (EP) Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) considered draft legislation concerning novel foods.  The Committee amended the draft legislation, proposing a moratorium on the use of nanomaterials in food based on the precautionary principle. 

The Committee approved the amended draft legislation by a vote of 57-4, with two abstentions.  EP Member James Nicholson (ECR, UK), who is steering the legislation through the EP, stated that he was not completely satisfied with the vote.  According to Nicholson, it is “essential that cloning and nanomaterials be dealt with separately.” 

The Committee’s press release states that foods for which production processes require risk assessments, including nanomaterials, should not be authorized until they are approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).  The press release notes that “[s]pecial attention should also be paid to food packaging containing nanomaterials, to prevent them migrating into food.”  In addition, in line with the precautionary principle, all novel food should also be subject to post-market monitoring. 

The Committee amended the existing definition of nanomaterials to bring it in line with EFSA recommendations, and dropped the threshold for a food ingredient to qualify as “nano” from the European Commission’s proposed 50 percent to ten percent. 

The Committee unanimously approved a mandate for Nicholson to begin negotiations with the Council of Ministers, with one abstention.  The Council has yet to adopt its negotiating position.


lunes, 1 de diciembre de 2014

FDA Warning Letters: Excessive Drug Levels Top List of Latest Food Problems

Presences of chemical and inadequate control for growth of harmful bacteria are major problems.
Illegal levels of drug residues in food animals topped the list of problems with food producers in the latest round of warning letters from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for alleged violations of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

FDA stated that Floyd Raber of Millersburg, OH, sold a veal calf for slaughter that contained a drug, sulfamethoxazole, which has no acceptable level in calves sold for veal. Because of this, investigators determined that the meat was adulterated, according to the law, and that the firm held animals under conditions that would lead to unwanted drugs entering the food supply.

Health investigators stated that they found another veal calf sold with unacceptable levels of another drug, sulfamethazine, at Martin Star Dairy of Stevens, PA. That drug also has no acceptable levels in veal calves, thus rending the meat adulterated and classifying the firm as holding animals under conditions that allow for unacceptable drugs to enter the food supply, FDA stated.
Pleasant View Dairy of Dyersville, IA, was found to have sold a steer for slaughter with excessive levels of florfenicol, another regulated drug. FDA also stated that the firm had used another drug, Nuflor, in a way that was not directed by its approved labeling.

Walnut Creek Kitchens of Walnut Creek, OH, received warnings from the agency for allegedly selling adulterated food and misbranded food. First, the firm’s smoked cheeses produced on June 10 and 11, 2014, were found to be held overnight for 12-16 hours at 68-69 degrees F, outside the range of refrigeration, thus rendering them vulnerable to bacterial growth, FDA stated.

Health investigators also detected falsely and misleadingly branded products. The firm’s smoked cheese products claimed to be “smoked,” but really did not go through a smoking process and instead received a liquid smoke applied to the surface of the cheese, the agency stated. Instead of “smoked,” appropriate labels would include “with added smoke flavor,” “smoke flavored ”or“ natural smoke flavor,” FDA stated.

Pagano’s, a seafood processor in Norwalk, CT, was found to have “serious violations” of seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations. A number of the firm’s products, including cold-smoked salmon and caviar, were held in transit for excessive amounts of time and therefore considered inadequate to control for growth of harmful bacteria, FDA stated.
Companies who receive FDA warning letters are asked to respond within 15 working days outlining steps they will take to correct the stated violations.

Source:© Food Safety News