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:


Institute of Food science and Technology Information Statement:


Friday, 10 August 2007


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