Monday, 24 December 2007

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Cranberries may act against E.coli

Researchers in the US have identified that compounds found in cranberries may have an action against E.coli. The research is now ongoing to identify how consumption of cranberry juice or cranberry products could be helpful for individuals. For more information follow the link.

Would it be possible to use the natural cranberry product as a feed additive for cattle fed distillers grain? See previous post. Maybe someone will undertake further research to see if it is necessary and if so, if it works?

Naan Bread recalled

The Food Standards Agency have issued a food alert for naan bread. Batches of own-brand naan bread have been recalled by Sainsbury's and Morrisons due to potential contamination with glass. Follow the link for more information.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Biofuel bi-product may not be so good for cattle or is it?

Research from Kansas State University has suggested that feedlot cattle that have been fed distiller's grain have an increased incidence of E. coli O157:H7 in their hindgut. Distiller's grain is a by-product of the ethanol production process.

University of Nebraska- Lincoln researchers have also undertaken similar research and found no increase in prevalence of E.coli 0157:H7 in cattle fed distillers grain.

This is obviously work in progress and more research needs to be undertaken but it has proved an interesting debate on the web this week, especially as a number of the ethanol plants have been built close to feedlots in order to provide a "mutually beneficial"model of production.

Follow the link for further information.

Monday, 3 December 2007

FSA Blog's first birthday

Andrew Wadge has written a blog post about the first birthday of his blog. In that year over 161,000 people have visited the blog. For more details follow the link:

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Salmonella and Seeds

There have been six food alerts in the last four weeks on the Food Standards Agency web-site for recalled seed products (human consumption) from retail shelves. Follow the link for more information

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Salmonella and Tomatoes in the US

During 2005--2006, there were four outbreaks of Salmonella infections associated with eating raw tomatoes at US restaurants occurred. The outbreaks resulted in 459 confirmed cases of salmonellosis in 21 States. For more information click on the link

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Sainsbury's tuna recall

Sainsbury’s has recalled some of their tuna products due to high levels of the toxin histamin resulting in concern that this may cause illness among consumers. For more information follow the link.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

E Coli 0157

There have been a whole series of recalls for E Coli 0157 recalls in the US over the last couple of weeks:
E Coli 0157 still continues to be a problem that needs to be addressed

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

High levels of salt in fast food

We often discuss in food safety circles the difference between acute and chronic food safety and health issues. We may all be familiar with the acute symptoms of food poisoning or food borne disease, but increasingly there are concerns over food ingredients that overtime can cause illness or a deterioration in health i.e. chronic issues. One of these ingredients is salt. Excess salt can cause stroke and heart disease and has been estimated to kill thousands of Britons every year.

Cash (Consensus Action on Salt and Health) surveyed 346 food and drink items and stated in the resultant report that some fast food meals contained more than twice the daily recommended amount of salt for an adult. In other cases, family meals could give a child more than four times the daily recommended salt amount. For further details follow the link:
http://news.independent.co.uk/health/article3075675.ece#2007-10-19T00:00:01-00:00

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Cleaning Schedule

Cleaning schedules are used to communicate information between management and staff. The schedules co-ordinate hygiene and cleaning activities and must be clear, direct and unambiguous. They need to define: ­

  • What sections of the building and premises, equipment and items are to be cleaned;
  • Whose responsibility it is to clean them;
  • The frequency of cleaning;
  • The procedure for cleaning including the time required for cleaning and if required disinfection, the materials to be used in the cleaning process i.e. chemicals and equipment and the personal safety precautions to be taken including the protective clothing to be worn, and;
  • Who is responsible for monitoring and recording that it has been cleaned.

A manager must be responsible for ensuring that the cleaning programme is adequate and has been implemented correctly and that the individuals undertaking the cleaning tasks have been suitably trained. The cleaning schedule needs to ensure effective cleaning and disinfection and be appropriate to the business

Monday, 1 October 2007

Can you answer these questions?

If you are a food business operator, manager or a food handler - how long ago did you have food hygiene training? See if you remember some of the key facts - can you answer these questions?
  1. Define food hygiene?
  2. Which sectors of the population are particularly at risk from food poisoning?
  3. Name some of the common symptoms of food poisoning?
  4. What are pathogens?
  5. What are the costs of poor hygiene?
  6. What are the benefits of good hygiene?

or these?

  1. What is the purpose of cleaning?
  2. Give three reasons why food premises need to be kept free from food residue, and bacteria.
  3. Explain the difference between cleaning and disinfection
  4. Give two examples of areas or surfaces which need cleaning on a daily basis.
  5. What does a sanitiser do?
  6. Name two pieces of information which should be found in a cleaning schedule.
  7. What should you do when you have finished cleaning duties, before you handle food?
  8. How effective are detergents against bacteria?
If you can't answer these questions then you should think about taking a refresher food hygiene course. For more information on food hygiene training contact l.manning@btinternet.com

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Nut allergy warning not on labels

Cadbury Schweppes has implemented a product recall for the second time in two years due to a nut allergy warning being omitted from packaging. The previous recall of over a million bars of chocolate followed a Salmonella outbreak.

For further information follow the link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/09/14/ncadbury114.xml

Thursday, 20 September 2007

HACCP

The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) management tool is a systematic approach to the identification and assessment of hazards associated with all stages of a food operation or food supply chain. It defines how the food safety hazards should be control led and the identification of control points and critical control points. It is a management tool to assess the food safety hazards most likely to affect a product, how these could be caused and how they need to be controlled. The basis of HACCP is to follow the seven principles below:

1. Identify potential hazards and measures for their control.

2. Determine critical control points (CCP)

3. Establish critical limits, which must be met to ensure CCP is under control.

4. Establish a monitoring system

5. Establish the corrective action to be taken when monitoring indicates that a CCP is not under control.

6. Establish documentation for procedures and records

7. Establish verification procedures to confirm that the HACCP system is working effectively

Friday, 14 September 2007

Popcorn safety

According to the Denver Post, a 53-year-old man who microwaved and ate two to three bags of extra-buttery-flavored popcorn a day for a decade has developed a dangerous lung disease. The condition known as Popcorn lung, or broncheolitis obliterans, permanently scars airways. It will lead to victims fighting for breath and being dependent on oxygen. The disease was first identified in food industry workersut consumers were not deemed to be at risk. The chemical concerned is diacetyl which is used in microwave popcorn production.




The New York Times article contains more details on the issues surrounding this case

Sunday, 9 September 2007

E.coli and potato salad

Recent US recalls for E.coli have included beef, spinach and now potato salad. The potato salad recall has been defined as precautionary because there have been no known cases of illness to date.

http://foodpoisoning.pritzkerlaw.com/archives/e-coli-lawyer-e-coli-and-kroger-potato-salad.html

E.coli outbreak in the US

An E. coli outbreak that affected 8 people in Washington and 2 people in Oregon has led to a recall of “Northwest Finest” ground beef products made by Interstate Meats, based in Oregon. For more information: http://www.foodpoisonblog.com/2007/08/articles/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/washington-oregon-hit-with-e-coli-from-ground-beef/

Recent produce recalls in the US

A Salinas Valley spinach grower recalled bagged spinach products today after Salmonella was detected in some of the company's products. http://www.foodpoisonblog.com/2007/08/articles/food-poisoning-watch/spinach-recalled-for-salmonella-contamination/

The Food and Drug Administration announced the recall of approximately 5,000 cases of Rimmer Mojito Cocktail Garnish due to possible Salmonella contamination. http://www.salmonellablog.com/2007/09/articles/salmonella-outbreaks/mojito-cocktail-garnish-is-recalled/

This week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) includes a CDC report on 4 large Salmonella outbreaks linked to tomatoes served at restaurants. http://foodpoisoning.pritzkerlaw.com/archives/salmonella-a-cdc-report-on-salmonella-outbreaks-linked-to-tomatoes.html

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

ASQ Food Safety Statement

The American Society for Quality (ASQ), has submitted a written statement on US Food quality and safety to the Congressional Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. The subcommittee recently held hearings entitled “Diminished Capacity: Can the FDA Assure the Safety and Security of the Nation’s Food Supply?”

The ASQ determined that the Subcommittee should address many issues including:

System and process control i.e. quality assurance rather than quality control
Supply Chain Management and a need to evaluate supply chain and market mechanisms for ensuring food safety as well as concentrating on key critical control points.
International Data System for Traceability. and the development of traceability systems as a pre-requisite to food safety.

Carbon monoxide Transparency of labelling all foods that have been treated with carbon monoxide.
Implement recommendations of the Institute of Medicine’s 2003 report, “Scientific Criteria to Ensure Safe Food”.


To view ASQ’s statement, check out http://www.asq.org/advocacy/index.html. ASQ also discussed specific issues surrounding food safety in its most recent Quarterly Quality Report, titled “Food Safety: A Quality Management Systems Approach,” which can be found at http://www.asq.org/quality-report/index.html.




Thursday, 23 August 2007

E. coli 0157

Following last week's post about E.coli 0157 the USDA has announced that they are going to give $5.5 million towards research at the University of California on developing food safety management practices and seeking to control contamination of fresh produce E. coli O157:H7.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

E coli 0157


  1. There are hundreds of strains of the bacterium Escherichia coli. Although most E. coli are harmless, E. coli 0157:H7 produces a toxin that can cause severe illness.

  2. In 1982 E. coli O157:H7 was recognised as the cause of an outbreak of severe bloody diarrhoea. This outbreak was traced to contaminated hamburgers. Kidney failure can also occur this is commonly called haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

  3. Outbreaks have been associated with the following eating undercooked or contaminated minced (ground) beef or beefburgers made from the meat; leafy salad vegetables such as lettuce, and spinach; or milk that is either unpasteurised, not pasteurised properly or contaminated with bacteria after pasteurisation. Cases have also been linked to handling or touching infected animals or people, poor hygiene by infected people leading to cross contamination or through contact with animal faeces.

The following websites/blogs are good sources of information on E. coli 0157:


Ecoli blog: (http://www.ecoliblog.com/)

Food Standards Agency:

http://www.eatwell.gov.uk/healthissues/foodpoisoning/abugslife/#cat236133

Institute of Food science and Technology Information Statement:


(http://www.ifst.org/uploadedfiles/cms/store/ATTACHMENTS/vtec.pdf)

Friday, 10 August 2007

Foodlink

The Foodlink website is organised by the Food and Drink Federation which represents the UK food and drink manufacturing industry. The foodlink programme has been running for 15 years with the main objective of raising awareness amongst consumers of how to keep food free from harm. Try out the quiz on http://www.foodlink.org.uk/quiz.asp

Saturday, 4 August 2007

2006 UK Food Safety Incidents

In May 2007, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) published its first annual report on food safety incidents. The FSA handled 1,342 investigations into food incidents in 2006, including the national outbreak of Salmonella in chocolate and the contamination of US long-grain rice with an unauthorised genetically modified organism. The report stressed the need for all stakeholders to work in partnership to improve incident handling systems and encouraged more comprehensive reporting. The major categories of incidents in 2006 were:
  • environmental contamination (fires and spills/leads) 28%,
  • natural chemical contamination (mycotoxins, algal toxins and others) 13%,
  • microbiological contamination (salmonella, Listeria, E.Coli etc) 11% and
  • physical contamination (pieces of plastic, glass, metal etc) 10%.

In addition, there were on average one to two food recalls and withdrawals every week due to incorrect or missing allergy labelling or other allergy risks. The 50 allergen incidents resulted in 20 Food Alerts for Information, 10 of which were circulated in November and December. 65% of the alerts (13) were targeted at consumers allergic to dairy products. In 2006, there were 211 incidents resulting from microbiological contamination, 2 incidents related to contamination of animal feed, 39 to on-farm incidents, 5 affecting the quality of bottled water and 19 resulting in contamination of food with histamine or algal toxins (natural chemical contaminants). There were 19 pesticides incidents in 2006. 13 were the result of improper use of pesticides or use of banned pesticides on crops. 3 incidents were the result of a pesticide spill, one was the result of a fi re involving a pesticide, one was the result of human error and one an allegation of fraud involving the improper use of a pesticide. There were 74 incidents involving veterinary medicines in 2006, only 6 incidents concerned UK farmed products, being cattle, sheep and horses. The remaining incidents related to imported fish and shellfish from South East Asia, honey from Australia, New Zealand and Argentina and honey and poultry from Brazil. The FSA circulated 81 Food Alerts in 2006, 66 (81%) were Food Alerts for Information, 5 (6%) were Food Alerts for Action, 8 (10%) were Food Alerts containing updated information and 2 (3%) were Food Alerts requiring further action from local authorities.

The full report can be accessed at: http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/incidentsar.pdf

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Eight point plan to improve co-ordination between government agencies

The Consumers Union (CU) has urged more coordination among government agencies as well as better tools and more resources to keep up with the growing number of imports and to accomplish this, CU has recommended an eight point action plan:

  • Provide increased resources to government safety agencies to prevent unsafe products from crossing our borders.
  • Prompt the need for pre-shipment inspection and testing by holding importers, distributors, and retailers accountable for bringing unsafe products to the market.
  • Develop U.S. government-administered third-party safety certification programs.
  • Develop a product traceability program for country-of-origin labeling for food, drugs, and cosmetics, as well as other consumer products.
  • Require that importers post a safety bond to ensure they have the resources to recall products if required.
  • Give all agencies the power to levy meaningful civil penalties for companies who fail to comply with regulations; and criminal penalties for those who knowingly or repeatedly jeopardize public safety.
  • Authorize mandatory recall authority for all government agencies.
  • Require all government agencies to publicly disclose information pertaining to safety investigation and reports of adverse events.

    Check out the post at:
    http://blogs.consumerreports.org/safety/2007/07/our-eight-point.html

Friday, 20 July 2007

How do we ensure food security?

Food security is a complex issue and there are arguments in favour of both market and regulatory mechanisms to ensure access, availability and affordability for all. Policy in developed countries has historically centred on issues such as self-sufficiency and support of home production. Whilst this has resulted in food availability, it has not focused on affordability especially where these policies have been financed by general taxation. Indeed individuals vary greatly in their ability to make autonomous decisions with regard to food and nutritional choices. Globalisation of food supply chains has provided benefits in terms of increased calories per capita, but it has not addressed nutritional security. It could be argued that malnutrition in terms of both under and over-nutrition has shown an alarming positive correlation, if not actual cause and effect, with increased food availability in terms of calories per capita. There is a recognised nutritional transition in developed and developing countries towards a more sedentary lifestyle and a change in diet towards animal source foods and this transition will impact on natural resource availability in terms of land requirements and water use.

Nutritional food security needs to address the following:
• the development of water policy and/or virtual water trade especially for countries that lack the national ability to provide for their population needs in terms of both food and nutritional security;
• the impact of global supply chains on malnutrition i.e. both under and over-nutrition;
• the factors that impact on personal and group autonomy including low income, low education, family eating habits, knowledge or access to health and nutritional information and availability of food options; and
• the reduction of food waste at household and supply chain levels.
As the human population continues to rise this will provide an increasing challenge to policy makers, governments and food supply chains as they seek to meet both nutritional and calorific needs.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Food Safety Hazards

At all stages of food production it is important to follow good hygienic practices and also prevent contamination (something falling in the food or mixing with the food) or deterioration to the point where the food is no longer fit to eat. A physical item that falls into the food is often called a "foreign body" and items that could cause harm include glass, plastic, wood, metal, string, stones, and bones e.g. fish bones. Chemicals can cause contamination and it is important to control cleaning chemicals and industry or household chemicals to ensure that they do not come into contact with the food.

The moment fruit and vegetables are harvested or animals slaughtered the food will start to deteriorate, either by losing nutrients or physically changing and becoming stale. Over time the human population has used many ways to slow this process including cooking, pickling, adding sugar or salt, dehydrating or more recently the addition of chemical preservatives or the development of particular types of packaging.

Microorganisms can also be present or come into contact with food and given the right conditions will start to grow (multiply). Microorganisms are a group of small biological entities such as bacteria, moulds, yeast, fungi or viruses that can cause either food poisoning or food or water-borne disease. It is important that we prevent contamination in the first place and we take steps such as temperature control to keep foods safe that will support these organisms.