Monday, 23 December 2013

EU court annuls GM potato approval, dealing blow to Commission

Europe's second-highest court on Friday (13 December) overturned a decision by the European Commission to allow the cultivation and sale of a genetically modified potato developed by German chemicals group BASF.

The General Court of the European Union said the Commission had failed to follow the bloc's rules when approving the Amflora potato, which is genetically modified to produce extra starch for use in the paper industry. While Amflora is no longer grown in Europe - BASF withdrew the product in 2012, citing opposition to the technology - the ruling raises new concerns about the EU's complex and much-criticised approval system for GMO crops. "Because the Commission significantly failed to fulfil its procedural obligations, the General Court has annulled the contested decisions," the court said in a statement.

The Commission and BASF were not immediately available for comment.

Source: Euractiv

FDA issues proposed rule to determine safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soaps

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a proposed rule to require manufacturers of antibacterial hand soaps and body washes to demonstrate that their products are safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections.

Under the proposal, if companies do not demonstrate such safety and effectiveness, these products would need to be reformulated or relabeled to remain on the market. Today’s action is part of a larger, ongoing review of antibacterial active ingredients by the FDA to ensure these ingredients are proven to be safe and effective. This proposed rule does not affect hand sanitizers, wipes, or antibacterial products used in health care settings. Click on the link to read the full report.

Illegal horsemeat allegations lead to raids and arrests in France

The Guardian reports 21 people arrested in south of France over claims horses used in medical research were illegally sold for human consumption. Follow the link to read the report.

EFSA evaluates molecular typing methods for food-borne pathogens

Molecular typing methods are laboratory techniques, such as whole genome sequencing, that enable the classification and comparison of strains of disease-causing bacteria. EFSA’s Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) has reviewed the methods for typing the food-borne pathogens Salmonella, Escherichia coli, Listeria and Campylobacter, and has evaluated the effectiveness of these methods for:

  • Detecting and identifying food-borne outbreaks; 
  • Estimating the contribution of various sources to food-borne illnesses; 
  • Predicting which strains of food-borne pathogens may potentially cause epidemics.
EFSA’s BIOHAZ Panel recommends that public health and veterinary authorities strengthen their cooperation on the use of molecular typing for food-borne pathogens.

Source: EFSA

FDA proposes new food defense rule

As required by the bipartisan FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today proposed a rule that would require the largest food businesses in the United States and abroad to take steps to prevent facilities from being the target of intentional attempts to contaminate the food supply. The FDA is unaware of an event where the food supply was adulterated with the goal of inflicting massive public health harm. While such events are unlikely to occur, mitigating strategies proposed in the rule can continue to ensure the safety of the food supply. The proposed rule is intended as a preventive measure, and the FDA seeks public comment on the proposed approach.

The proposed rule is the sixth issued under the landmark FDA FSMA law, which focuses on prevention and addresses the safety of foods that are produced domestically or are imported to the United States. “The goal is to protect the food supply from those who may attempt to cause large-scale public health harm,” said Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. “Such events, while unlikely to occur, must be taken seriously because they have the potential to cause serious public health and economic consequences.

The FDA’s goal is to devise an approach that effectively protects the food supply in a practical, cost effective manner.” The FDA is proposing a targeted approach focused on certain processes within a food facility that are most likely to be vulnerable to attack. Under the proposed rule, a food facility would be required to have a written food defense plan that addresses significant vulnerabilities in its food production process. Facilities then would have to identify and implement strategies to address these vulnerabilities, establish monitoring procedures and corrective actions, verify that the system is working, ensure that personnel assigned to the vulnerable areas receive appropriate training and maintain certain records.

This is the first time the FDA has proposed a regulatory approach for preventing intentional adulteration of the food supply, and the agency is seeking public input to refine our approach and further focus the scope of the rule. Since Sept. 11, 2001, and the subsequent passage of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, the FDA has developed a variety of guidances and other tools to help industry protect the food supply against intentional adulteration.

This rule builds on those efforts, as well as the steps industry has taken. The FDA has proposed exemptions to the rule based on size of business, sales and certain types of operations such as holding and repacking food, with certain exceptions. The proposed rule does not apply to farms and food for animals. Also in the proposed rule, the FDA describes its current thinking and is seeking comment on other issues, including economically motivated adulteration. The FDA is seeking comments on its evaluation of what the agency considers to be low-risk activities for intentional contamination at farm mixed-type facilities, with a specific focus on the risk presented by acts of terrorism. The FDA is proposing staggered implementation dates for the proposed rule based on business size, ranging from one year to three years after publication of the final rule. The proposed rule is available for public comment until March 31, 2014.

Source: FDA

FDA and FSIS recalls this week

Megabusiness LLC Issues Alert on Undeclared Sulfites in Del Campo Papa Seca / DRY Potato 24x14 oz.

California Firm Recalls Dried Sausage Products Due To Possible Contamination With Staphylococcus Aureus Enterotoxin

Concertos in Chocolate Issues Allergy Alert on Milk in Solid Milk Chocolate Santa

Spokane Produce, Inc. Voluntarily Recalls Victor™ Toasted Sesame Hummus Because Of Possible Health Risk

Hawaii Firm Recalls Frozen, Raw Chicken Products Due To Possible Temperature Abuse

Potentially Harmful Bacteria Found on 97% of Chicken Breasts Tested in US

About half of samples tested had at least one bacteria resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics; bacteria were more resistant to antibiotics approved for use in chicken production.

While Consumer Reports has consistently been testing chicken for more than 15 years, this is the first time it has looked at the contamination rates for six different bacteria – enterococcus (79.8 percent), E. coli (65.2 percent), campylobacter (43 percent), klebsiella pneumonia (13.6 percent), salmonella (10.8 percent), and staphylococcus aureus (9.2 percent). It also evaluated every bacterium for antibiotic resistance and found that about half the chicken samples harbored at least one multidrug-resistant bacteria.

The judicious use of antibiotics in livestock production is an important subject discussed in Europe as equally as in the US.  Do read this article in Food Politics about the steps the FDA is taking to address antibiotic use.

Some concerning results which underline the reason that raw meat should be handled correctly during preparation, kept separate from cooked ready to eat meat during storage and always cooked thoroughly.

Source: Marler Blog

416 Sickened in US By Foster Farms Salmonella

An update on this outbreak by Salmonella Blog

Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese given official EU protection

No cheese-maker outside designated area will be able to call their product Yorkshire Wensleydale under new rules. Follow the link to find out more.

Source: The Guardian

Recall of Clarke’s Irish Oak Smoked Salmon (Farmed) Due to Presence of Listeria monocytogenes

As a precautionary measure, Clarke’s Fish Exports Ltd. is recalling batches of the above farmed oak smoked salmon due to the detection of Listeria monocytogenes in some batches. The affected smoked salmon was supplied to distributors, on-line customers and retail shops. Batch codes FN47700 / FN47800 / FN47900 with a use by date of 11/01/14 are not implicated in the recall. Clarke’s Organic Farmed Smoked Salmon is not affected by this recall. and Clarkes's Smoked Salmon.

Source: FSAI

VTEC Detected in Some Batches of Kilshanny Farmhouse Cheese

Verocytotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC) has been detected in several batches of gouda cheese produced by Kilshanny Farmhouse Cheese using raw milk. The company has been ordered by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to withhold placing any further batches on the market. Consumers are advised not to eat the implicated cheese.

Turkey butterflies produced in an unapproved establishment (Update 1)

Eighteen tonnes of turkey butterflies, processed by Severnside Provisions Ltd, Newport, South Wales were supplied to independent butchers and catering outlets throughout South and Mid Wales, South West and South Central England. You will also wish to be aware that Severnside Provisions is approved not only for bacon slicing but also for cold storage, rewrapping of raw, cooked and ready to eat dry products.

Whole turkeys produced by Severnside Provisions Ltd. are not affected by this alert. Further investigations have established that ANY turkey butterflies supplied by Severnside Provisions Ltd may have been produced in an unapproved establishment and in conditions that do not meet the required hygiene standards for food production.

Source: FSA

FDA warns consumers not to use muscle growth product

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is advising consumers to immediately stop using a product called Mass Destruction, marketed as a dietary supplement for muscle growth. The product is labeled to contain at least one synthetic anabolic steroid and has been linked to at least one reported serious illness.

The FDA was alerted by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services of a serious injury associated with use of Mass Destruction. The report described a previously healthy 28-year-old male with liver failure requiring transplant after several weeks of product use. Liver injury is generally known to be a possible outcome of using products that contain anabolic steroids and steroid-like substances.

The product’s ingredients are undergoing further analysis by the FDA. Mass Destruction is manufactured for Blunt Force Nutrition in Sims, N.C. and sold in retail stores, fitness gyms, and on the Internet. An investigation is underway to identify the product’s manufacturer. Consumers who suspect they are experiencing problems associated with Mass Destruction or other body building products should consult a health care professional, especially if they have experienced unexplained fatigue, abdominal or back pain, discolored urine, or any other unexplained changes in their health. 

“Products marketed as supplements that contain anabolic steroids pose a real danger to consumers,” said Howard Sklamberg, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The FDA is committed to ensuring that products marketed as dietary supplements and vitamins do not pose harm to consumers.” In general, anabolic steroids may cause other serious long-term consequences in women, men and children. These include adverse effects on blood lipid levels; increased risk of heart attack and stroke; masculinization of women; shrinkage of the testicles; breast enlargement; infertility in males; and short stature in children.

Source: FDA

CFIA recalls this week

Candy Sweet Spots recalled due to undeclared egg

Aurora brand Corn Gnocchi and Rice Gnocchi recalled due to undeclared gluten

Super Candy Buttons recalled due to undeclared egg

Undeclared cashews in Sicilian Ice Cream brand Pistachio Nut Ice Cream

Sainsbury's onion rings and garlic dip products withdrawn

Sainsbury's is withdrawing all date codes of By Sainsbury's Onion Rings & Garlic Dip and By Sainsbury's Share Onion Rings & Garlic Dip because a small number of products contain egg, which is not mentioned on the label due to a packaging error. This makes the products a possible health risk for those who are allergic or have an intolerance to egg.

Source: FSA

Annual report on UK Multi-Annual National Control Plan published

The FSA has published the sixth annual report on progress towards implementation of the UK Multi-Annual National Control Plan, which covers progress in 2012.

The UK Multi-Annual National Control Plan (MANCP) details the roles, responsibilities and strategies of the different authorities and organisations involved in the monitoring and enforcement of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and welfare rules and plant health requirements in the UK. Based on the data collected for 2012, the overall level of compliance in all sectors in the UK was satisfactory when assessed against expectations.

The report informs the European Commission on progress in achieving the objectives of the MANCP, summarises the results of official controls and associated activities carried out by the competent authorities and associated bodies, and outlines the findings of performance audits. It will be used by the Food and Veterinary Office of the European Commission in planning audits of UK control arrangements. The report will also contribute, together with reports prepared by other member states, to a report from the Commission to the European Council and European Parliament on the overall operation of official controls across the European Union.

The report satisfies a requirement of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004, and has been prepared jointly by the FSA, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and its agencies, the Health and Safety Executive’s Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD), Scottish Government Agriculture, Food and Rural Communities (SG AFRC), the Welsh Government Sustainable Futures (WG SF) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (Northern Ireland) (DARD).

Source: FSA

Chen Ji Fish Balls produced in an unapproved establishment

Fish Balls purporting to be manufactured by Chen Ji Foods Co. Ltd appear to have been manufactured in an unapproved establishment Despite enquiries by investigating officers, it has not been possible to obtain information relating to the manufacture, distribution or product traceability records for this product. The ID mark of the originating establishment does not appear on the product packaging. This issue may be associated with a similar product called Fu Zhou Chan Kee Fish Balls, which was the subject of a Food Alert For Action last year (ref: 06/2012).

Source: FSA

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Food Safety Recalls - Australia

General Mills Australasia—Old El Paso Hot Chunky Tomato Salsa 300g The recall of the product is due to the potential presence of foreign matter (glass).

Sakata Rice Snacks Australia Pty Ltd—Sakata Paws Original 6 Pack Multipack - The product is labelled as Sakata Original flavour, which does not have milk listed as an ingredient. However, the packet actually contains Sakata Paws Pizza Supreme flavoured rice snacks, which do contain milk as an ingredient.

Tek Shing Trading—Sesame Paste - The recall of the above product is due to the presence of an undeclared allergen (peanut) resulting from a labelling error.

CFIA recalls this week

Organic Traditions Brand Dark Chocolate Hazelnuts and Dark Chocolate Almonds Recalled Due to Undeclared Milk

Edelweiss Brand Fine Dark Chocolate Recalled Due to Undeclared Milk

Aurora Brand Corn Gnocchi Recalled Due to Undeclared Gluten

Undeclared mustard in St-Hubert brand À La King Sauce

Undeclared mustard in Prepared for Normandin brand Marinated Chicken Souvlaki (Continental Sauce)

Undeclared milk in Sir Charles brand Schoko Bananen

Undeclared almonds in Your Fitness Dish brand Quinola Quinoa Granola

Undeclared mustard in certain Comeau brand salmon products

US Recalls this week

Washington Firm Recalls Chicken Noodle Soup Due To Misbranding and Undeclared Allergen - StockPot, Inc., an Everett, Wash. establishment, is recalling 1,864 cases (approximately 22,368 pounds) of chicken noodle soup due to misbranding and an undeclared allergen. The Classic Chicken Noodle Soup product is formulated with wheat, a known allergen. However, the product was released with a Loaded Baked Potato Style Soup side label, which does not declare this allergen.

Bee International Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Egg in "Sweet Spots"

Health Matters America Inc. Issues Allergy Alert On Undeclared Milk In Organic Traditions Brand Dark Chocolate Hazelnuts, Dark Chocolate Hazelnuts With Chili, Dark Chocolate Almonds, And Dark Chocolate Almonds With Chilli

Whole Foods Market Mid-Atlantic Region Recalls Spinach Dip Due to Undeclared Egg

Blooming Import Inc. Issues an Alert on Undeclared Sulfites in Golden Lion Brand Dried Ziziphus Jujuba Mill (Dried Dates)

Pin Hsiao & Associates, LLC. Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Walnuts in Gluten Free Blueberry Mini Muffins - 12 pk.

Canada Firm Recalls Prosciutto Ham Product For Possible Listeria Monocytogenes Contamination

Yauk’s Recalls More Meat Due to Rodent Activity

Yauk’s Specialty Meats, a Windsor, Colo., establishment, is expanding its recall to include an undetermined amount of various meat and poultry products that were produced under insanitary conditions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced.

The products being recalled today are in addition to the approximately 90,000 pounds of various meat and poultry products that were recalled on Dec. 9, 2013 and carry different brand names. Products subject to this recall and expansion may be identified by the following brand names and bear the establishment number “Est. 20309” or “P-20309” inside the USDA Mark of Inspection. Products that do not bear the establishment number “Est. 20309” or “P-20309” inside the USDA Mark of Inspection would not be included in this recall.

Follow the link for product details.

Source: Marler Blog

Village Park Meats Ltd recalls batches of its vacuum packed, cooked, sliced meats due to inadequate controlling factors to prevent growth of Clostridium botulinum

During an inspection it was established that an extended shelf-life was being applied to all vacuum packed cooked meats, despite the fact that production records indicated a 10-day shelf-life was being applied. Due to inadequate controlling factors to prevent growth and toxin production of Clostridium botulinum, a recall is being carried out as a precautionary measure.

Village Park Meats Ltd has recalled all affected batches follow the link for details.

Source: FSA

Cocaine found in bottle of Caribbean soft drink

The Food Standards Agency is warning the public about a soft drink that has been found to contain high levels of cocaine. The product has been linked to the death of one person in Southampton and is the subject of an ongoing investigation by Hampshire Constabulary.

 he product is labelled as ‘Cole Cold Pear-D’ and the packaging bears the manufacturers name as S.M. Jaleel & Co Ltd, Otaheite, Trinidad. However, the company has said they do not export Pear-D to the UK. Investigations are ongoing to find out whether more bottles of the product have been distributed in the UK. Members of the public should not consume this product and, if found, should take it to their local police station.

Source: FSA

Mencia Luna Beberide 2011 vintage withdrawn

E H Booths is withdrawing all batch codes of Mencia Luna Beberide 2011 vintage, because a labelling error means sulphites are not mentioned on the label. This makes the product a health risk for those with a sensitivity to sulphites. The FSA has issued an Allergy Alert.

Follow the link for product details.

Source: FSA

FSA statement on the Elliott Review interim report

The Food Standards Agency welcomes the interim report from the Elliott Review.

The report, which can be found via the 'External sites' link on this page, recognises the high standards of food safety standards in the UK food industry. However, the need for a more coordinated and proactive approach to food crime is the principal theme of the report and Professor Elliott is right to highlight that there is a role for central government, local authorities and the food industry to play in this area. We know from the horse meat incident that food supply chains are complex and international. We support the European Commission in its work to establish a European Union food fraud unit, to which the FSA has seconded staff, so we are better able to protect consumers from fraud along the whole food chain across the whole of Europe.

The FSA is already working with Defra and local authorities to detect and deter food fraud. For example, we are carrying out a study to test that products which are labelled from the UK are in fact from the UK; we have introduced unannounced inspections of meat cutting plants; and we have increased to £2m the funding to local authorities to support their own testing programmes. We look forward to the discussion on the interim report’s recommendations over the coming weeks.

Saturday, 7 December 2013


An increase in the number of cases of Salmonella enterica serotype Goldcoast infection was observed in England during September 2013. A total of 38 cases were reported, with symptom onset dates between 21 June and 6 October 2013. Epidemiological, environmental, microbiological and food chain evidence all support the conclusion that this outbreak was associated with eating whelks processed by the same factory. Whelks are a novel vehicle of Salmonella infection and should be considered when investigating future outbreaks.


On 9 October 2011, the University Hospital of North Norway alerted the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) about an increase in Shigella sonnei infections in Tromsø. The isolates had an identical ‘multilocus variable-number tandem repeat analysis’ (MLVA) profile. Most cases had consumed food provided by delicatessen X. On 14 October, new S. sonnei cases with the same MLVA-profile were reported from Sarpsborg, south-eastern Norway.

An outbreak investigation was started to identify the source and prevent further cases. All laboratory-confirmed cases from both clusters were attempted to be interviewed. In addition, a cohort study was performed among the attendees of a banquet in Tromsø where food from delicatessen X had been served and where some people had reported being ill. A trace-back investigation was initiated.

In total, 46 cases were confirmed (Tromsø= 42; Sarpsborg= 4). Having eaten basil pesto sauce or fish soup at the banquet in Tromsø were independent risk factors for disease. Basil pesto was the only common food item that had been consumed by confirmed cases occurring in Tromsø and Sarpsborg. The basil had been imported and delivered to both municipalities by the same supplier. No basil from the specific batch was left on the Norwegian market when it was identified as the likely source. As a result of the multidisciplinary investigation, which helped to identify the source, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, together with NIPH, planned to develop recommendations for food providers on how to handle fresh plant produce prior to consumption.

Source: Eurosurveillance

Smoked fish products processed in an unapproved establishment

Smoked mackerel, catfish, barracuda, and tilapia have been processed in an unapproved establishment, trading as Lloyds & Sons. Investigations at the establishment found that Lloyds & Sons were smoking fish products without approval from the competent authority and a remedial action notice has been served to stop this operation.

Some of the implicated products may still be available on sale at food premises in the London area. Despite investigations by the enforcement authorities, it has not been possible to obtain full distribution details. There is known distribution to some specialist retail establishments in London, however, it is possible that distribution may have taken place to other establishments outside of London.

Source: FSA

Cleveland Meat Company prosecution

The FSA has welcomed the successful prosecution of the Cleveland Meat Company Ltd for breaches of food safety regulations. The company has been ordered to pay more than £27,000 in fines and prosecution costs after being found guilty on 12 charges. It entered a guilty plea on a 13th charge during the course of the hearing.

The FSA brought the prosecution against the Cleveland Meat Company after FSA staff identified breaches of the regulations, which are in place to prevent potential consumer exposure to BSE. These breaches included the failure to remove specified risk material (SRM) from a sheep carcass. SRM are the parts of the animal most likely to carry infectivity.

Andrew Rhodes, Chief Operating Officer of the FSA, said: 'We are pleased with the successful conclusion of this prosecution. These regulations are in place to keep the public safe and the FSA’s job is to ensure they are enforced properly across the country. Where companies are not meeting their responsibilities we will take action.'

Source: FSA

Asda withdraws four breakfast cereals

Asda has withdrawn four of its own-brand 'Chosen By You' breakfast cereals because there is a risk the products could be cross-contaminated with peanuts and nuts. Peanuts and nuts are not mentioned on the product labels, which means the products are a possible health risk to anyone with an allergy to peanuts or nuts. The FSA has issued an Allergy Alert.
Follow the link for product details.

CFIA recalls this week

Undeclared sulphites in certain Premium brand champanades

Undeclared sulphites in certain Naturo Fruit to go! brand Blueberry & Pomegranate fruit bars

Certain Healthcare Food Services brand Chicken Rice Soup may contain pieces of plastic

Undeclared milk in certain Organic Traditions brand dark chocolate hazelnuts

Edelweiss Brand Fine Dark Chocolate Recalled Due to Undeclared Milk

Organic Traditions Brand Dark Chocolate Hazelnuts and Dark Chocolate Almonds Recalled Due to Undeclared Milk

Food recalls in Austrailia

ALDI—Brannans Butchery Thai Style Chicken Breast Kebabs 450g undeclared allergens (soy and sulphite) due to an incorrect label applied to the product. The product inside the tray is actually Thai Style Turkey Sausages.

Lion-Dairy & Drinks Pty Ltd—Dare Cold Pressed Coffee. The recall is due to the potential for bottle failure. If Dare Cold Pressed bottles are left unrefrigerated, the bottles may burst. Follow the link for product details

Coles Corned Beef Silverside (raw / random weight) contains undeclared sulphites. The product is being recalled due to incorrect labelling. Products with other date codes are not affected. Follow the link for more details.

Yumis Quality Foods—Deli Originals Mediterranean Style Spinach Dip - The recall is due to microbial (Listeria monocytogenes) contamination.  Listeria may cause illness in pregnant women and their unborn babies, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems.

Asahi Premium Beverages Pty Ltd—Vodka Cruiser Pomegranate & Guava 275ml bottles. The label on the bottle and consumer packs do not include the Mandatory Warning Statement to the effect that the product contains phenylalanine. Any consumers who have the rare genetic disorder ‘phenylketonuria’ may have a reaction if the product is consumed.

FDA recalls this week

Huxtable’s Kitchen Issues Voluntary Allergy Alert on Undeclared Allergens in Butternut Squash & Creamed Spinach Gratin - it may not list wheat and egg in the ingredients