Tuesday, 29 July 2008
Vita Food Products, Inc. of Chicago, Illinois notifying the public that twelve individual packages of Vita Nova Salmon, were sold at Kroger stores in Houston, Texas on or after July 22 of this year that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. A further 192 individual packages may also have been affected. Follow the link for more details.
The FDA has warned against eating tomalley in American Lobster (Maine Lobster), because of potential contamination with dangerous levels of the toxins that cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP). Being English I didn't know what tomalley was, but tomalley is the substance found in the body cavity of lobsters that fulfills the functions of both the liver and the pancreas.
Friday, 25 July 2008
Thursday, 24 July 2008
There has been lots of discussion on the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak in the last twenty four hours Salmonella Blog has linked to the Minnesota Star Tribune and their article on how an outbreak in a restaurant was linked and then traced back to jalapeno peppers. The article suggests that the investigation methods used, the way the food safety and agriculture departments interrelate and also the fact that by then tomatoes had been all but eliminated from the investigation helped to speed up the investigation. The article states that:
"27 people who ate at the same Twin Cities restaurant fell ill from the exact rare salmonella strain in the national outbreak. On Monday, federal officials said they found the same strain on a jalapeno pepper in a giant produce warehouse in McAllen, Texas -- the same warehouse identified by Minnesota investigators weeks ago".
On June 30, Ben Miller, the state Agriculture Department's "traceback coordinator," began tracking the suspect peppers' roots. Using restaurant invoices to find the wholesale supplier, he followed the trail to California and Texas distributors. He found the farms that grew the peppers in Mexico.
On July 3, Smith gave the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA information on Minnesota's cases and Miller's traceback. Smith called back on July 9 "so they could be crystal clear about the detail. The pepper [in Texas] was collected on the 11th." Federal officials were also looking at outbreaks in two Texas restaurants linked to salsa that used jalapenos.
Food Poisoning Law Blog has reflected on the food safety investigation infrastructure with a post on a letter written by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, FDA Commissioner with regard to the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak. Senator Clinton asked for details with regard to the following questions:
1. What is your schedule for meetings with stakeholders and industry regarding traceability? With which groups will you be meeting?
2. Given that models exist for traceability, when you will release a “best practices” document?
3. What is your schedule for meetings and implementation of the Food Protection Plan with our neighboring nations, particularly Canada?
4. You have scheduled a meeting with the states on food safety for August 2008. What is the agenda for this meeting, and what does the FDA anticipate as action steps that will emerge from this conference?
I will follow developments at the August 2008 meeting with interest.
Marion Nestle has also written a post about the Government Accountability Office, and a recent report they have produced: Food Safety: Selected Countries’ Systems Can Offer Insights into Ensuring Import Safety and Responding to Foodborne Illness.
The report defines the following areas as key parts of a food safety strategy and I would fully endorse this:
- Farm-to-table oversight (otherwise known as "field to fork");
- Producer responsibility;
- Separate risk assessment and risk management;
- Risk-based inspection systems;
- Certain food imports must meet equivalent safety standards (all food imports should reach equivalent food safety standards);
- Traceback procedures ;
- Cooperation between government veterinarians and public health officials; and a
- Mandatory recall authority.
This strategy can be both market and regulation led and it is important to develop such systems that are appropriate to the stage in the supply chain, the resources that are available and with appropriate training of those who have to implement the systems.
I also read the article on MainStreet.com "Jalapeno protection - a cheap and easy food safety tip" and whilst I agree with and support most of its content I think that there needs to be a clear distinction drawn so as not to confuse readers.
In the home environment effective handwashing, utensil management and separation of raw foods, ready to eat foods and produce is very important to prevent cross-contamination from foods likely to harbour microorganisms to those that will be eaten without any further steps, such as cooking, to reduce them to a safe level. Soap, or detergent is a chemical designed to remove dirt; it is not a chemical designed to reduce bacteria to a safe level. Washing produce with water or detergent will not on its own reduce bacteria to a safe level if they are present, this will only be done by the practice of disinfection, and then only the outer surface - as the article says if the bacteria are internal then disinfecting the outside of the leaf or surface may not be sufficient.In practice in most homes disinfection of produce is not practiced. Food businesses would however be expected to draw this distinction within their protocols. The most important aspect is prevention - not contaminating with bacteria, and viruses in the first place either during growing, harvesting, processing, distribution, retail and/or food service. This requires the implementation of good hygienic practices, standards and protocols and then monitoring to see that they have been followed and are effective. Salmonella can come from a range of sources including workers, pests, equipment, dust, soil, water and so on and at this stage it has not been established where this type of Salmonella originated. The interaction of factors that affect food safety status are complicated and difficult to unravel and the most important aspect is to ensure that individuals have access to the information that they need to minimise their risk of food poisoning either at the point of purchase or in their own homes.
First published in The Human Imprint.
Tuesday, 22 July 2008
"According to the Texas and North Carolina Departments of Health, the strain of Salmonella found in this company's jalapeño and serrano peppers and in its avocado is not Salmonella Saintpaul, and is not believed to be related to the current Salmonella outbreak.
The recall is a result of sampling not by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but by the Texas Department of State Health Services (Texas Health) and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (North Carolina Health ) which revealed that these products contained the bacteria.
The company has voluntarily initiated a recall of its already distributed products and has stopped future distribution while the FDA, Texas Health, North Carolina Health and the company continue to investigate to determine the source of the problem."The second recall press release was a recall of Jalapeno Peppers by Agricola Zaragoza, Inc. of McAllen, TX that had been distributed since June 30th, 2008 because they too were potential ly contaminated with Salmonella. The recall note states that:
"The recall is a result of sampling by FDA, which revealed that these Jalapeno Peppers were contaminated with the same strain of Salmonella Saintpaul responsible for the current Salmonella outbreak. It is unknown at this time which, if any, of the more than 1,200 illnesses reported to date are related to this particular product or to the grower who supplied this product. Distribution of these products has been suspended while FDA, the Texas Department of State Health Services and the company continue their investigation as to the source of the problem."
A number of blogs have been discussing the context of this outbreak and are worth checking out including Marler Blog, BarfBlog, and also MarketWatch .
Monday, 21 July 2008
Salmon and Listeria
Garlic bread and undeclared milk protein allergen
Chicken noodle soup and undeclared milk protein allergen
Sweet products and potential plastic contamination
Water and potential cleaning chemical contamination
Cheese and Listeria
Cereal and undeclared tree nuts
Corn and Listeria
Cheese and Listeria again
For more details on Cryptosporidium and water follow the link to the Drinking Water Inspectorate website.
Friday, 18 July 2008
Follow the link to find out more and preview the contents at the e-books storefront.
Thursday, 17 July 2008
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
Are you reviewing your food safety and quality management system?
Do you need to improve and enhance some of your pre-requisite programmes and procedures?
Then this series of e-books will provide an essential source of information. The Food Safety Series has been extended to five e-books with more due to be published in the coming weeks. The e-books to date are:
Food Safety Series - Allergens
Food Safety Series - Calibration
Food Safety Series - Pest Control
Food Safety Series - Preventive and Corrective Action
Food Safety Series - Product Identification and Traceability
Follow the link to find out more and preview the contents at the e-books storefront.
Sunday, 13 July 2008
Tuesday, 8 July 2008
Tuesday, 1 July 2008
- Two 10-foot-tall cookers may not have heated cans enough to kill all bacteria, including those leading to botulism toxin.
- The cookers had broken alarms, a leaky valve and an inaccurate temperature device.