Sunday, 28 December 2008

Stores recall fake Colgate toothpaste

Thousands of tubes of fake Colgate toothpaste have been recalled by two major retailers. It was labelled Colgate Cavity Protection and came in 100ml tubes.To read the full article in The Independent follow the link.

Sushi recalled due to undeclared egg

The US FDA has issued a product withdrawal/recall alert to conifrm that KRC Food Trading Inc is recalling its Fish Cake sushi with production date of December 19 and December 22 due to the label not declaring eggs.

People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to eggs run the risk of serious or life-threateningallergic reaction if they consume these products.

The Fish cake Sushi was distributed in California in coffee shops, bakeries, and Korean markets in Los Angeles, CA including two retail stores owned by the firm.

Follow the link for more details.

Choking hazard posed by mini cup jelly products

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is advising consumers to be cautious about a possible choking hazard associated with various brands and flavours of imported mini-cup jelly products containing konjac.

"If consumed as a single-bite, these products may cause choking, particularly for those at higher risk including infants, young children, the elderly, and people with swallowing difficulties. Depending upon the size, shape and consistency, mini-cup jelly products may become lodged in the throat and difficult to remove. To be safe, break the jelly into smaller bites prior to eating".

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is warning the public not to consume assorted flavours of Three Fish brand Bidrico coconut/fruit jelly with Konjac powder, a mini cup dessert described below, as it poses a choking hazard.

Follow the links for more details.

On the 9th January the CFIA issued further information on this recall to include additional product information.


Monday, 22 December 2008

Limits of detection

Why is it that water, food or drink that was described as pesticide or contamination free before is now being said to be contaminated?

Sometimes it is because of the limit of detection. The limit of detection (LOD) is a specific term used in analytical chemistry. It defines the limit of the test in determining absence from being 99% confident that the substance being tested for is present. As tests and analytical equipment is developed and improved this LOD becomes lower and lower. This means that on one occasion a pesticide or chemical contaminant may be deemed as ND - not detected, but that at a future point in time as the degree of accuracy improves what was deemed as not detected is now seen as a positive result.

To what level can we detect? well down to microgrammes or nanogrammes. How small is this? Well we would be familiar with a kilogramme bag of sugar and how much it weighs in our hand. This is one thousand grammes let me explain a different way.

1 Tonne (metric) = 1000 kilogrammes (kg) or 1000 000 grammes (g)

1 Kilogramme (kg) = 1000 grammes (g)

1 gramme (g) = 1000 milligrammes (mg) = 1000 000 microgrammes (ug) = 1000 000 000 nano grammes (ng) or 1000 000 000 000 picogrammes (pg)

Therefore the limit of detection can be at microgramme or nanogramme levels.

It can be more confusing still because contamination is often expressed in "parts per ...." This is an expression of proportion there is one part of this chemical compared to the total number of parts e.g. one part per million (ppm); one part per billion (ppb). As one litre of water weighs one kilogramme (kg), contamination can be expressed as one part per million (1 ppm) or one milligramme per litre (written in scientific shorthand as 1 mg/l); one part per billion (1 ug/l) - these are very small quantities.

Does the presence of chemical at this level cause illness - either acute (instant) or chronic (long term)? Well this is the ultimate question and thousands of scientists around the world are working on this at the moment. Policy makers have to make a formal decision now so they have to use current science to set safe limits for our food and water.

In the future what is deemed as safe now may through research be determined as unsafe; what is deemed as contamination free may then be deemed as contaminated. Science evolves continually. George Bernard Shaw is reputed to have said that "Science ... never solves a problem without creating ten more." How true ...

First published at The Human Imprint

FSA Update on Irish Beef

The UK FSA issued an update on Irish Beef on the 22nd December 2008. Read it here.

Salami recalled due to salmonella

The UK FSA has issued a food alert to confirm that Aytac Halal Foods Ltd has recalled a batch of its own brand pre-packed sliced turkey salami due to the presence of salmonella. Aytac Halal Foods Ltd has contacted all of its customers and requested they remove the affected products from their stores. Product recall notices will appear in stores advising customers of the recall. The product recalled is:

  • Aytac Sliced Turkey Salami
  • Pack size: 200g
  • Use by: 12/01/09
  • Lot no: 330156

No other Aytac Sliced Turkey Salami products are known to be affected.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Cocoa products recalled because they may contain melamine

The US FDA has issued a product recall notice to confirm that Dorsey Marketing Inc. (DMI) of Ville St. Laurent, Quebec, Canada, is voluntarily recalling the following G&J Gourmet Market cocoa products because these products may contain melamine. The products are:

G&J Hot Cocoa Stuffer Item 120144 (UPC 061361201444). This hot cocoa product was sold in small green and blue boxes with a backer card, candy cane and marshmallows.

G&J His and Hers Hot Cocoa Set Item 120129 (UPC 489702201296). This cocoa product was sold with 2 ceramic mugs in a brown box.

G&J Cocoa item 120126, sold in 2 flavors: French Vanilla Cocoa and Double Chocolate Cocoa
G&J French Vanilla Cocoa (UPC 061361201260). This product was sold in a small green bag with a whisk attached.

G&J Double Chocolate Cocoa (UPC 061361201260). This product was sold in a small pink bag with a whisk attached.

No injuries have been reported and only a few samples have, in fact, been found to include melamine. However, DMI is proceeding with this recall in the interest of public health and the safety of American consumers. For further details follow the link.

Sausage: potential contamination with listeria

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Nostrano Inc. are warning the public not to consume Nostrano brand Genoa Mild Sausage because the product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The affected product, Nostrano brand Genoa Mild Sausage, is sold in approximately 325 g packages, with a Best Before date of 09 JL 09, and codes “91009” and “1017”.

The product has been distributed in Quebec.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Biscuits recalled due to potential melamine contamination

The FDA has issued a food recall press release to confirm that Interfood Shareholding Company is recalling all lot codes of multiple varieties of the Wonderfarm brand of biscuits because they may be contaminated with Melamine. The Wonderfarm biscuits are sold in 800g red metal tins. The four varieties being recalled are:
  1. Wonderfarm "Successful" Assorted Biscuits (UPC:8935001262091)
  2. Wonderfarm "Royal Flavour" Assorted Biscuits (UPC:8935001263098)
  3. Wonderfarm "Lovely Melody" Assorted Biscuits (UPC: 8935001263296)
  4. Wonderfarm "Daily Life" Assorted Biscuits (UPC: 8935001264200)

The manufacturer identified on the product is Interfood Shareholding Company in Vietnam.

The recall was initiated after the firm was advised that samples collected by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture of the Wonderfarm "Successful" Assorted biscuits, tested positive for melamine. Interfood Shareholding Company was identified as the manufacturer of the product. After being advised that "Royal Flavour", "Lovely Melody", and "Daily Life" also tested positive for melamine, the firm agreed to expand their recall to include those products as well.

No illnesses associated with this product have been reported to date.

Denmark: infant botulism

There have been a number of reports in the media about a baby food being recalled in denmark as a result of a 4.5 month old child being found to have botulism.

Eurosurveillance reports that "The infant was still breastfed but had started to receive supplementary feeding during the last 3-4 weeks prior to admission. Five days before admission the infant was fed with three spoonfuls of an organic banana/peach puree from a European commercial company. The mother had noticed that the baby food had a very pervading and unusual smell, and the product appeared to be fermented. However, no gas production was noticed from the glass jar and the normal click occurred when opening it. The glass jar was thrown out afterwards.

Other supplementary foods consumed by the infant included gruel made by the mother from organic produced corn, buckwheat flour, whole meal with rice and millet to which grapeseed oil was added.

Based on a precautionary principle, a press release was issued warning about the specific batch of banana/peach puree and the lot (which was marked ‘best before December 2008’) was recalled by the company. Warnings were issued through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) and the European Early Warning and Response System (EWRS).
In total, 11 jars of baby food, four samples of the gruel ingredients and one sample of oil have been investigated for botulinum toxin using a mouse model. No preformed botulinum toxin was detected in these samples. Currently the samples are being investigated for botulinum toxin production after spore germination, as well as detection of botulinum toxin after trypsin activation of the samples."

The RASFF report is here. To date the case has not been directly linked to the food product under investigation.

Potential listeria contamination of meat

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Mariposa Meats are warning the public not to consume two types of Old Style brand products because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Follow the link for full details

Mini cup dessert recalled due to potential chocking hazard

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is warning the public not to consume Lychee Flavor Nata De Coco in Konnyaku Jelly, a mini cup dessert, as it poses a choking hazard.

The alert states that: "The affected product, was sold in plastic bags with Japanese text and the package bears a bilingual sticker that describes the product. Product is described as Nata De Coco in Konnyaku Jelly, Lychee Flavor. Each bag contains 12 mini cups and bears UPC 4 560124 220389. The affected mini-cup jelly product is about the size of coffee creamer with rounded edges. It contains a flavoured centre.

This product was imported by Daiso Store Canada Ltd., Richmond, BC and was only sold from the Daiso Store located at Hazel Bridge Way, Richmond, BC."

There have been no choking incidents associated with the consumption of this product. Follow the link for more information.

Second recall for nuts and Salmonella

The UK FSA has issued a second food alert to confirm that Imperial Snack Foods Ltd has recalled one batch of its own brand brazil nuts, due to the presence of salmonella. The alert states that:

"Imperial Snack Foods Ltd has recalled the affected batch. Product recall notices will appear in stores nationwide. These notices will advise customers of the recall and advise them of what actions to take if they have already purchased the product. The products being recalled are:

  • Brazil Nuts
  • Best Before: 17/11/09
  • Size: 200g
  • Batch code: 8320.K


No other Imperial Snack Foods Ltd products are known to be affected." Follow the link to find out more.

Nuts recalled due to Salmonella

The UK FSA has issued a food alert to confirm that JLM Global Foods Ltd has recalled one batch of its own brand Snack ‘n’ Time Mixed Nuts, due to the presence of salmonella. The FSA state that "The product was supplied exclusively to One Stop convenience stores. Product recall notices will appear in stores nationwide. These notices will advise customers of the recall and advise them of what actions to take if they have already purchased the product.

The product recalled is:

  • Snack ‘N’ Time Mixed Nuts
  • Best before: 08/09
  • Size: 340g
  • Batch Code: 08316 C

No other JLM Global Foods Ltd products are known to be affected." For more information click on the link.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

FSAI issue further update

The FSAI has issued a further update with regard to Irish Pork and Bacon - follow the link to find out more.

Aussie butchers fined for dosing meat with SO2

Two Sydney butchers have been fined for selling meet that had been dosed with sulphur dioxide a known food allergen. The Ausfoodnews article states that:

"Sadik Brothers Butchery in Auburn was fined $11,550 for six dosing offences, while Teng Cheng Butchery in Lakemba received a $3,993 fine for three breaches.

“The Auburn incident is particularly worrying because it involved two separate inspections by the Food Authority only a month apart,” Minister Macdonald reported. “On each occasion they found dosed lamb, mutton and beef products.”"

For more details follow the link.

We had a similar incident in the UK in 2000. 1,300 tons of condemned poultry was sold into Britain's supermarkets, butchers and restaurants over three years. Three the men, all executives of meat supply firms, were convicted of offences in an operation that was estimated to have earned a £2.9m profit. Condemned meat had been bleached and then sold into the human supply chain. Follow the link to find out more.



Crisps recalled for potential rubber contamination

Ausfoodnews has reported that the Smith’s Snackfood Company has implemented a voluntary recall of two products as a precautionary measure following the discovery of pieces of rubber in some packs produced at their Queensland manufacturing plant.

The company has advised that the rubber could pose a choking hazard. Rubber contamination of crisps seems to be a recurrent theme on this site as it was only at the beginning of this month when Walkers had to recall crisps for potential rubber contamination in the UK for the third time this year. Follow the links for more background.

Winter vomiting bug hits the UK

The Telegraph reports that the winter vomiting bug has hit the UK. The virus, known as norovirus is estimated to have hit record levels in 2007 with around five million people affected. It has got off to a good pre-Christmas start again this year with many hospitals and schools affected.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Drink recalled due to undeclared milk

The FDA has issued a product recall press release to confirm that Kashi Company of LaJolla, CA is recalling a limited number of canisters of Kashi GOLEAN Powder Chocolate Energy Shake Mix because they contain undeclared milk. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk, run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.

The product was distributed to grocery, health food, pharmacy and on-line retailers nationwide. The product is packaged in a 14.8 oz – canister with a bar code of 18627 71000. Canisters with a Better if Used by Date stamped on the bottom of the canister between the dates of JAN 17 2009 and NOV 15 2009 are included in this alert. No allergic reactions have been reported to date. For more etails follow the link

Pastrami may contain Listeria

The CFIA report that the public warning issued on December 13, 2008 has been updated to correct the size and to include the UPC.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is warning the public not to consume Old Style brand Pastrami because the product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The affected product, Old Style brand Pastrami is sold in 375 g packages bearing a Best Before date of 09JA15 (January 15, 2009) and a UPC of 6 28292 50004 8.

FSA issue Irish dioxin update

The FSA issued a further update on the issues surrounding dioxin contamination of irish meat. Follow the link for more details.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Milk allergy causes recall

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and DMR Food Corporation are warning people with allergies to milk not to consume SunRidge Farms Organic Dark Chocolate Raisins and SunRidge Farms Organic Dark Chocolate Peanuts. The affected products may contain milk which is not declared on the label.

Product recall due to listeria

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Cambrooke Foods are warning the public not to consume certain CamBrooke Foods brand imitation cream cheese and Peanot ButterTM spreads because the product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Follow the link for more details.

The US FDA also issued a recall alert regarding these products. Follow the link for more.

A follow up alert has now been issued by the CFIA.

Fish may contain botulinum toxin

The FDA has issued a warning to retailers and food service operators not to offer for sale ungutted, salt-cured alewives (also called gaspereaux fish) from Michel & Charles LeBlanc Fisheries Ltd., CAP-PELÈ, New Brunswick, Canada, because the fish may contain the Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum) toxin. Consumers should not consume the product.

C. botulinum toxin can cause botulism, a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition. The toxin cannot be removed by cooking or freezing.

The fish were imported into the United States and sent to these Florida distributors:

Stilton Cheese recalled for Listeria

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is warning individuals not to consume the Cropwell Bishop Creamery Finest Blue Stilton Cheese described below because the product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

All sizes of the Cropwell Bishop Creamery Finest Blue Stilton Cheese, product from England, bearing Best Before date 08/DE/12 are affected by this alert. This product has been sold nationally through Costco Wholesale stores. There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Food poisoning incident linked to shredded lettuce

Eurosurveillance reports that between 14 September and 20 October 2007, an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157 simultaneously occurred in the Netherlands and Iceland.

The report states that "A total of 50 laboratory-confirmed cases were reported with a STEC O157 infection caused by the same clone. ... The most probable cause of this international outbreak was contaminated lettuce, shredded and pre-packed in a Dutch food processing plant. Samples of the environment, raw produce and end products, taken at several vegetable growers and processing plants all tested negative for STEC O157. However, the only epidemiological link between the cases in the Netherlands and in Iceland was the implicated Dutch processing plant.

In Europe, food products are often widely distributed posing the risk of potential spread of food borne pathogens simultaneously to several countries. This international outbreak emphasises the importance of common alert and surveillance systems in earlier detection of international outbreaks and better assessment of their spread
." Follow the link to read the full report

Irish pork recall reaches the US

Marler Blog reports that the ripples from the irish pork dioxin incident have reached the US. Follow the link for more details.

CFIA report prosecution for adulterated oil

The CFIA report that on June 27, 2008, Hanif’s International Foods Ltd. of Delta, BC entered a guilty plea in Surrey Provincial Court to two violations of section 5(1) of the Food and Drugs Act. The company was fined $7,500 for each violation for a total of $15,000.

It was found that Hanif’s International Foods Ltd. added canola oil to imported almond oil, then packaged and sold it as “pure almond oil” at various retail establishments located between British Columbia and Manitoba. For more details follow the link.

Irish pork back on shelves

The UK FSA issued the following statement yesterday:

"Measures are now in place to restore supplies of Irish pork and bacon to consumers. Pork from animals reared, slaughtered and processed in Northern Ireland remain unaffected by this incident. In the UK, shops, manufacturers and caterers that can trace the origin of any pork directly to a farm that is unaffected by contaminated feed are able to continue selling their products.

This follows confirmation from the Irish authorities that the necessary controls have been established.

Food Standards Agency Chief Scientist Dr Andrew Wadge said: 'Consumers can be reassured that systems are in place, so we can buy pork from Northern Ireland and now the Republic of Ireland with confidence. We have worked together with food businesses and local authorities to make sure that the appropriate checks are being carried out.'" Follow the link to find out more and read the full statement.

Allergen alert for "freefrom" foods

The UK FSA reports that Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd has withdrawn its own brand Freefrom Chipolatas, Chicken Steaks, Chicken Nuggets and Beef Burgers
  • 16 Freefrom Pork Chipolatas 400g
  • 4 Freefrom Chicken Steaks 380g
  • 20 Freefrom Chicken Nuggets 425g
  • 4 Freefrom Beef Burgers 227g

Date codes: All date codes

Other information: All products are frozen

Some batches of the four products have been found to contain accidental traces of milk protein, which is not indicated on the label. This makes the products a potential health risk for people who are allergic to or intolerant of milk or milk constituents.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

EFSA responds to Commission’s urgent request on dioxins in Irish pork

Click on the link to read the European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) response on the Irish pork incident and the EFSA Statement on the risks for public health due to the presence of dioxins in pork from Ireland

Pork and bacon supplies go back on the market

Click on the link to read the DAFF Statement released yesterday about the restoration of pork and bacon supplies in Ireland.

FSAI issue further update

The FSAI has issued a further update with regard to the Irish pork and bacon recall. It reads:

"Following from the FSAI’s recommendation to recall all Irish pork products produced from pigs slaughtered in Ireland from 1st September 2008, further investigations and continuous monitoring with the Food Standards Agency – Northern Ireland (FSA NI) has necessitated further action for Irish manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and caterers.

The Food Standards Agency, Northern Ireland (FSA NI) are continuing investigations with regards to 12 meat processors in Northern Ireland (see list below) to establish whether the contaminated pork meat from the Republic of Ireland has been processed in these establishments. Until such time as this has been determined, FSA NI has advised that all pork and pork products from these establishments should be placed on hold and the origin confirmed.

Products from these establishments may be on the market in the Republic of Ireland. As a precaution the FSAI is recommending that these products be removed from sale pending verification of the country of origin of the meat.

As information becomes available this alert will be updated".

Follow the link for further information.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Questions and Answers from Beef Alert

The FSAI has produced a question and answer page on the current beef alert which contains detailed information on the current investigation. There is also a similar information page on the pig meat recall. Click on the links to find out more.

Update on Irish Beef

The UK FSA issued this statement on the 9th December:

Ireland’s Food Safety Authority (FSAI) has confirmed that feed contaminated with dioxins has been fed to some cattle in Ireland. FSAI has evaluated samples taken from affected herds and is satisfied that these samples raise no public health concern.

The Food Standards Agency can confirm that cattle on nine farms in Northern Ireland have also been affected. FSA is conducting its own tests to establish the level of chemicals that might be present in meat from affected herds in Northern Ireland.

As a precaution, stock and carcasses from affected Irish and Northern Irish herds is being held and is not allowed to enter the food chain.

Dr Andrew Wadge, FSA Chief Scientist, said: ‘We would expect that the risk from dioxin in beef is significantly lower than in pork. Cattle consume a wider variety of feeds and the way their bodies process the feed is different which makes the risk of contamination much lower. We're waiting for the results of the scientific tests to check for levels in Northern Ireland.

'The risk to UK consumers remains very low. This is because you would need to eat large quantities of the contaminant chemical over a long period of time for there to be any risk to your health. Because of this low risk to health, we’re taking a proportionate approach and therefore products are not being removed from the shelves.'

Click on the link to go to the FSA website.

FSA update on Irish Pork

Statement published on Tuesday 9th December:

The FSA has today published a list of the meat processors in the Republic of Ireland affected by the pork incident and also meat companies in England that have received affected pork products. The risk to consumer health from these pork products remains very low, as the Chief Scientist highlights in his recent blog.

The Agency has been working since late Saturday 6 December to gather information to identify both the processors and the companies involved. To date, five processing plants in the Republic of Ireland that have received the contaminated pork have been identified. In addition, 12 processing plants in Northern Ireland have been identified as potentially receiving contaminated pork from the Republic of Ireland and investigations are ongoing. It has been confirmed that no pigs in Northern Ireland have been fed contaminated feed.

The FSA has been in regular communication with local authorities, and has today formally issued a Food Alert for Action. As new information becomes available regarding traceability, the Agency will issue an updated food alert.

There is generally good traceability in the UK food supply chain. Most major retailers and caterers have already traced their products and removed any affected products. We've asked retailers to work with us to agree a date this week when we will be able to say with certainty that consumers can now buy Irish pork unaffected by contaminated feed.

For the time being, shops, manufacturers and caterers that can trace the origin of their products, whether they be meat joints or ingredients of mixed products such as sausages, directly to a farm that is unaffected by the contaminated feed, are able to continue selling their products.

If consumers have any doubts or concerns about the source of any pork products they have bought, they should contact the shop at which they bought them.

Related links
Annexe 1: Meat processors in Republic of Ireland and UK companies in receipt of pork products from these processors See Annexe 1 to Food Alert for Action 74/2008

Annexe 2: Meat processors in Northern Ireland See Annexe 2 to Food Alert for Action 74/2008

Emerging incident involving presence of dioxins in Irish pork meat - follow link to food alert

Comment on the Irish pork incident

On our sister blog The Human Imprint I have written two posts entitled:

Risk: Scientific based or value based and Seeing the positives or the negatives. Check them out.

Monday, 8 December 2008

A blog post on health risks and dioxins

Andrew Wadge, UK FSA Chief Scientist has written a blog post about the difference between safety limits and health risks on his blog in light of the current dioxin incident with Irish pork. Check it out here.

UK FSA statement on dioxins: update

Statement as follows:

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is today reiterating its advice on Irish pork products as a result of ongoing investigations.

The FSA is currently advising consumers not to eat pork, or products where pork is the main ingredient, that are labelled as being from the Irish Republic or Northern Ireland. This includes food such as sausages, bacon, salami and ham.

Following further enquiries by the Food Safety Authority Ireland (FSAI), it has been confirmed only ten pig farms in the Republic of Ireland were supplied with feed contaminated with dioxins. Pigs from these farms have been supplied to four processors.

Dr Andrew Wadge, FSA Chief Scientist, said: 'The risk to UK consumers is very low. This is because you would need to eat large quantities of the chemical over a long period of time for there to be any risk to your health.'

The FSA is currently advising:

retailers and caterers to remove from sale pork products manufactured from 1 September 2008 in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

manufacturers not to use pork from products manufactured from 1 September 2008 in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

However, if shops and caterers can demonstrate their product is not affected by this incident, it can be sold.

The Agency is continuing to monitor the situation and is working closely with the relevant authorities in the Republic of Ireland.

FSAI issue further statement on pork and dioxins

Statement text as follows:

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) today stated its opinion that the data in relation to health risks for people exposed to dioxins does not provide cause for concern. Its view, based on an assessment of international and national data, continues to be that a short term peak exposure to dioxins and PCBs does not result in adverse health effects.

The FSAI states that scientific data and evidence does not support concerns on health effects to people exposed to dioxins at a high level over a short period of time, such as the Belgian Dioxin incident. The FSAI confirms that, as part of its wide ranging deliberations on this aspect, its scientific experts have also consulted widely with scientific experts in the European Food Safety Authority; the World Health Organization as well as with counterpart health risk assessors in the Food Standards Agency (UK). In addition, Department of Health & Children has been in consultation with the Belgian authorities regarding their continued population health monitoring since their dioxin incident in 1999.

According to Mr Alan Reilly, Deputy Chief Executive, FSAI, data used to assess any health risk involves reviewing evidence that is available on incidents and exposure internationally. He stated that a number of factors mitigate and reduce the potential for any health risk in relation to this recall. He maintains that people should not be alarmed or concerned in relation to the potential risks from dioxins found in pork and bacon products.

“Firstly, the dioxins in relation to the pork and bacon recall would have been concentrated primarily in the fat element of the product – pork is considered a healthy lean meat product and only the visible fat element of the product would have potentially contained any contamination. Add this to the fact that only 10% of the product is suspected as being affected on the market and this reduces the potential exposure. Putting all this into perspective with the evidence of long term exposure information we have, there is a low level risk of ill health – and that means for today, tomorrow or 10, 20 years from now. There is no scientific robust evidence to support any other viewpoint in our opinion.”

The FSAI stated that there is nothing that stands out as concerning in relation to data from populations where there was a high exposure over a short period of time to dioxins such as in the case of the Seveso plant explosion in Italy in 1976. These people have been closely monitored for the last 30 years and the data here continues to show no significant evidence and there is nothing emerging in terms of adverse health implications.

“We know there was high exposure over short periods in Seveso and there is no data of real significance showing up in that population to indicate effects. Similar data in relation to the Belgium incident in 1999, which is somewhat similar to our pork incident is available. The Belgian population have been closely monitored for almost 10 years for signs of health effects in relation to their exposure to dioxins and again nothing of significance has shown up in health screenings,” continues Mr Reilly.

“This is very reassuring – effects have been researched in populations exposed for long periods to relatively low levels and high levels over short periods of time and it could be expected that there might be some effects – but there is no major indicators emerging. The body does deal with low levels of dioxin – it removes them itself over a period of time. Bearing in mind all the factors and data, the FSAI’s view even in any worst case scenario where someone may have been exposed to a lot of contaminated pork, the possibility for an ill health effect is very low. It is highly unlikely anyone in Ireland was continually exposed to large amounts of this pork given the pattern of pig production in Ireland,” concludes Mr Reilly.

Last updated: 08/12/2008

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Irish pork and dioxins: an update

Today has seen many developments in the investigations into the contamination of Irish pork products with dioxins. I have posted a number of posts including the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) statement, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) statement and the initial review that I posted first thing today.

The Guardian reports that Michelle Gildernew, the North's agriculture minister, confirmed that restrictions had been placed on the farms, which were identified by her department's electronic monitoring system. She said "To date, nine farms in the north have been identified as having used the contaminated feed."There is obviously a large amount of north-south movement of these products in Ireland and we need to carefully consider the way ahead."

The FSAI Statement said that "It is now considered that the profile of dioxins found is similar to those found in electronic transformer oils". Further investigations will be undertaken by the authorities to determine the exact nature of the source of contamination.

FSAI updated statement on dioxin and Irish Pork

The FSAI has issued a further statement today - it reads as follows:

"The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) today updated consumers on the national recall of Irish pork and bacon products. Irish pork and bacon products are being recalled as a precautionary measure from the market due to the illegal presence of a dioxin contaminant in a portion of the Irish pork and bacon available on the market. The FSAI reiterates its advice to consumers not to consume any Irish pork or bacon products. However, it stresses that people should not be alarmed or concerned in relation to the potential risks from dioxin’s found in pork products. A short term peak exposure to dioxins and PCBs does not result in adverse health effects. The FSAI confirms that:
• The use of a contaminated ingredient added to pork feed is identified as the source of the contamination. This feed was provided to ten Irish farms which produce approximately 10% of the total supply of pigs in Ireland.
• It is now considered that the profile of dioxins found is similar to those found in electronic transformer oils.
• Retailers have been asked to co-operate and to assist in the collection, return and disposal of product through the supply chain. The FSAI and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will work with the retail sector and producers in relation to resumption of product supply when appropriate.
• The retail and hospitality industries have been briefed and advised on appropriate actions to take.
• Environmental health officers (EHOs) throughout the country are assisting in this withdrawal process.
The FSAI will provide updates as and when further information becomes available
."

FSA Statement on Irish Pork

The FSA has issued a statement today on Irish Pork as follows:

"The Food Standards Agency is today advising consumers not to eat pork or pork products, such as sausages, bacon, salami and ham, which are labelled as being from the Irish Republic or Northern Ireland, while it continues to investigate whether any products contaminated with dioxins have been distributed in the UK.

From the information that we have at this time, we do not believe there is significant risk to UK consumers as adverse health effects from eating the affected products are only likely if people are exposed to relatively high levels of this contaminant for long periods.

This precautionary advice had been issued following the Irish Government's announcement that it is recalling all pork products made in the Irish Republic since September after dioxins were found in slaughtered pigs that are thought to have eaten contaminated feed.

Dioxins are chemicals that get into food from the environment and they are associated with a range of health effects when there is long term exposure to them at relatively high levels.

The Agency is continuing to monitor the situation and is in close contact with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. If it is confirmed that any affected products have been distributed to the UK the Agency will take appropriate action to protect consumers. An urgent meeting of the UK food industry is being organised by the Agency as part of its investigation into possible distribution channels in this country
".

Their information statement on dioxins can be found here.

Sainsbury's recall chicken due to potential contamination with milk protein

The UK FSA issued a press release on the 5th December to confirm that the supermarket chain Sainsbury's had issued a recall of their own-brand cooked wafer thin chicken (70g) with date codes up to and including 22 December. The press release states that:
"This is a precautionary measure by Sainsbury's, as traces of milk protein have been found in a sample of the product, which is not mentioned on the packaging. If you have a milk allergy, please do not eat this product. If you have bought the affected product, return it to your nearest Sainsbury's for a full refund. No other Sainsbury's products are affected by the recall". Follow the link for more details.

Walkers recall crisps for potential rubber contamination for the third time this year

The UK FSA has issued a food alert to confirm that Walkers Snack Foods Ltd has recalled certain date codes of Walkers crisps due to the possible presence of pieces of yellow rubber in the products. This is the third recall this year for rubber contamination. There were recalls back in August and in February. This alert reads:

"Walkers Snack Foods Ltd has undertaken a product recall of all the affected batches. Product recall notices will appear in the national press today, 4 December 2008, and point-of-sale notices will be displayed in all retail outlets. These notices will advise customers of the reason for the recall and the actions they can take if they have already purchased the affected products.
The affected products are: Walkers Crisps
Best before: 17 January 2009 GBL***306 (the asterisks represent different line numbers and therefore may vary). A variety of different flavours, sizes and pack formats are implicated
."

Follow the UK FSA link to obtain a full list of products.

Dioxin scare leads to recall of pork products

Back in March I wrote about the dioxin scare associated with mozzarella cheese. This morning the media is full of stories surrounding the fact that all pork products made in the Irish Republic since September (that have not already been eaten) are being recalled following concerns that they may be contaminated with dioxin. It is believed that the pigs ate contaminated feed. The BBC report that tests showed some pork products contained up to 200 times more dioxins than the recognised safety limit. The FSAI has issued a preliminary press release.

It has not been confirmed whether any of the pork products have been exported to the UK, although approxiamtely 60% of its production is exported worth £216 million per year. This problem comes after issues in the summer for the FSAI with Salmonella Agona contamination.
The BBC article stated that "The Irish minister for agriculture, Brendan Smith, said the problem was confined to 47 farms. He said: "This includes 38 beef farms. This is the total number of farms identified as having received possible contaminated animal feed. There is only one feed supplier involved." The FSAI's chief executive Alan Reilly said: "The levels in the feed were very high. The levels in the pork itself were in the region of about 80-200 times above the safe limits."

At this stage, no beef products have been recalled.

Why is dioxin a problem? Dioxins are highly toxic and carcinogenic (cause cancer). Dioxins are a by-product of industrial production in industries such as chemical and pesticide manufacture, paper bleaching. We have had food safety incidents in the past with this chemical. In 1999, dioxin was found in European animal feed which sparked a continent wide recall centred on Belgium. In 2004, there was another incident with milk in Belgium and the Netherlands and this was believed to have been due to animal feed that was contaminated with potato byproducts and earlier in 2008 with mozzarella cheese.

I have written before about having an effective product recall procedure in place and the interaction between food safety and brand equity. Food safety incidents, such as this one, require an effective, co-ordinated response in order to maintain customer confidence and to underpin the supply chain.

First posted on The Human Imprint

Sandwiches recalled due to undeclared egg products

The US FDA has issued a product recall notice to state that Mom's Food Products, Inc. of Ft Worth, TX is recalling its Pimento Spread sandwiches with a expiration date between December 15th and the 18th due to egg yolks not being declared on the label. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to eggs run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

There have been no illnesses reported to date.

The recall was initiated after it was discovered the Pimento Spread sandwiches with these dates were incorrectly labelled. Follow the link for more details

Fish products recalled as may contain undeclared buttermilk

The US FDA has issued a product recall press release to confirm that Louisiana Fish Fry Products of Baton Rouge, LA, is recalling its 6 ounce packages of "Chicken & Fish Bake Seasoned Coating Mix" because they may contain undeclared buttermilk. People who have allergies to milk products run the risk of an allergic reaction if they consume this product.

The press release states that:

"The recalled "Chicken & Fish Bake" was distributed nationwide in retail stores and through mail orders.The product comes in a 6 ounce bag marked with a "Best By" date from Jan 1, 2008 thru Sept. 25, 2011.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem". Follow the link for more information.

Walgreens Recalls 173 Teddy Bears With Chocolate Bars Sold Since Late September 2008

The US FDA has issued a product recall notice to confirm that Walgreens is recalling 173 teddy bears with chocolate bars sold in stores since late September 2008.

The notice states that: "Analysis by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that certain samples of the chocolate provided with the teddy bears were contaminated with melamine.

Customers who purchased any of the 173 teddy bears should return them immediately to the Walgreens stores where they were purchased for a full refund.

Walgreens already has instructed stores to stop selling the product, which is specifically described as an approximately 9-inch high Dressy Teddy Bear with 4-oz. Chocolate Bar. The product's UPC number is 047475864485, and the product tag also includes the item number 291332. Walgreens has not received any reports of illness or injury related to this product."

Follow the link for more details.

Chocolate bars recalled due to potential of undeclared milk

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation are warning people with allergies to milk not to consume two varieties of Life brand Dark Chocolate Bars. The two affected products, sold in 100g bars may contain milk which is not declared on the label.
All lot codes are being recalled.

Life brand Premium Swiss Dark Chocolate with Orange, UPC 0 57800 16450 0.
Life brand Premium Swiss Dark Chocolate 72% Cocoa, UPC 0 57800 16449 4.

These products have been distributed nationally through Shopper Drug Mart and Pharmaprix stores. There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products. Consumption of these products may cause a serious or life-threatening reaction in persons with allergies to milk protein. Follow the link for more details

Chocolate spreads recalled due to potential for undeclared milk ingredient

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Verger Duhaime Inc. are warning people with allergies to milk not to consume ten types of Duhaime Chocolaté brand spreads. The affected products may contain milk which is not declared on the label.

The affected products, described below, are sold in 150g jars. All lots are being recalled. Follow the link for more details.

Update Jan 2009
The public warning issued on December 5, 2008 has been updated to include additional information. Follow this link to find out more

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Chocolate almonds recalled due to undeclared milk

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and DMR Food Corporation are warning people with allergies to milk not to consume SunRidge Farms Organic Dark Chocolate Almonds. The affected product contains milk which is not declared on the label.

The affected product, SunRidge Farms Organic Dark Chocolate Almonds are sold in 205 g packages, bearing UPC 6 28997 06960 4. All lot codes are affected. This product has been distributed in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.
Consumption of this product may cause a serious or life-threatening reaction in persons with allergies to milk protein. Follow the link to find out more

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Ricotta Cheese may be recalled due to potential contamination with Listeria

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and International Cheese Co. Ltd. are warning the public not to consume Santa Lucia brand Ricotta Cheese because the product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The affected product, Santa Lucia brand Ricotta Cheese, is sold in packages of 500 g, bearing a Best Before Date of 09JA01 (January 1, 2009) and lot number 477. This product has been distributed in Ontario. Follow the link for more details.

Postscript

The public warning issued on December 2, 2008 has been updated to include additional distribution information.

Tesco recall cocoa due to undeclared milk

The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert to confirm that Tesco Stores Ltd has recalled certain batch codes of Tesco Continental Plain Chocolate 74% Cocoa. This is due to a packaging error that has led to a risk of potential presence of milk allergen not being declared

The product being recalled is: Tesco Continental Plain Chocolate 74% Cocoa, 100g
Batch codes 01 2010 L8208 1 and 01 2010 L8208 2

Cyclists affected by Campylobacter during race

Back in March 2008 I wrote about an incident in a cycling competiton where a number of competitors contracted Campylobacter infections from taking part in a cycling race. Campylobacter Blog reported that
"Last June [2007], over a quarter of 800 bicyclists in a race in British Columbia became ill from what public health officials believe is one of the biggest reported outbreaks in this country of Campylobacter jejuni - a diarrhea-causing bacteria that is generally contracted through consumption of contaminated food or water.
But it wasn't the food or water the cyclists consumed that made them sick. No, it was the mud. June can be a rainy month in BC and the mud was so thick in places that bikers had to dismount and push their way through it
."

The Telegraph reported yesterday that more that 660 people took part in the Builth Wells Mountain Biking Marathon in Powys in July. Eight cyclists fell ill with food poisoning after the event and tested positive for campylobacter. The cyclists are believed to have been infected as a result of eating food without washing their hands first. The National Public Health Service for Wales (NPHSW) launched an internet based questionnaire to investigate the outbreak and had 355 responses. 161 cyclists reported symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting. A report, by the NPHSW, concluded that
"the outbreak was caused by campylobacter spread to the cyclists by mud which was contaminated with sheep faeces. Heavy overnight rain is likely to have contributed to the outbreak by increasing the amount of liquid mud on the course. The report recommended cyclists to eat out of protective wrappers at future events".

Campylobacter is the biggest cause of food poisoning in the UK , to find out more check out the Bad Bug Book.

Melamine scare impacts on Chinese exports of milk products

I have talked before about the strong link between food safety and brand equity and made a series of comments about the issues surrounding the melamine contamination of food and feed.
BBC News reports that in the first months of 2008 an average of 12,000 tonnes of dairy products were exported from China every month. Then melamine contamination hit the headlines. Data would now suggest that dairy exports fell 92% year-on-year in October. This is in part due to an import alert implemented by the US FDA which impacted on exports to the US. Melamine has been found in very low quantities in baby milk formula and the FDA has said that it is acceptable below 2.5ppm
The BBC News article reports that the Chinese Ministry of Health has revised the number of infants who died after drinking tainted products. It now says that as many as six infants have died and up to 294,000 children have suffered from urinary tract ailments including kidney stones. More than 850 children are still being treated in hospital; at least 150 of them are said to be seriously ill.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Cumbrian Pancetta recalled over concerns about Listeria

The UK FSA has issued a food alert because Richard Woodhall Ltd has recalled from sale one batch of Cumbrian Pancetta (Tradional Dry Cured) due to the detection of low levels of Listeria monocytogenes.

"Richard Woodhall Ltd has undertaken a product recall and is displaying point-of-sale notices in all stores supplied. These notices alert customers to the recall and advise them of what actions to take if they have purchased the affected products.
The product recalled is:
Cumbrian Pancetta (Traditional Dry Cured)
Pack size: 100g
Best before date: 30 November 2008
No other Richard Woodhall Ltd products are known to be affected"
.

Follow the link for more details

Yazoo milkshakes recalled due to faulty seals

The UK Food Standards Agency has issued a food alert because Campina UK Ltd has recalled the Yazoo brand milkshakes 500g, banana, strawberry and chocolate flavours due to faulty seals on the lids. This has been caused by insufficient sealing of the lids on one of its production lines.
Campina UK Ltd has recalled the affected products from sale. Product recall notices were published in the national press and the trade press on 28 November 2008. These notices alert customers to the recall and advise them of what actions to take if they have purchased the product.
The products recalled are:
Yazoo 500g (475ml) Banana
Yazoo 500g (475ml) Strawberry
Yazoo 500g (475ml) Chocolate
All date codes affected. Lot codes affected end in the letter ‘K’ which can be found on the neck of the bottle. Only 500g Yazoo products with the K-code are affected by this recall. No other Campina UK Ltd products are known to be affected.

Morrisons withdraws wine due to undeclared sulphites

The UK FSA has issued an allergy alert to confirm that Morrisons has withdrawn the Miramonte Ridge brand of Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc wines due to incorrect allergen labelling information.
The Miramonte Ridge brand of Merlot 75cl and Miramonte Ridge brand of Sauvignon Blanc 75cl contain sulphites as ingredients which are not declared on the label, resulting in incorrect allergen information. The product is, therefore, a potential health risk for individuals with a sensitivity to sulphites. Follow the link for more details