Alert

CDC Expands Warning: Get Rid of All Lettuce from Yuma Region

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Alert

 

Last week Food Safety Tech reported on a multi-agency investigation of an E.coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to chopped romaine lettuce from Yuma, Arizona.

Now the CDC is advising consumers, restaurants and retailers to get rid of all romaine lettuce—not just chopped romaine, but also whole heads and hearts of romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing the variety—if they cannot confirm the source. “Information collected to date indicates that romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region could be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 and could make people sick,” the CDC states on its website.

The most current illness case count is 53, with illnesses reported in 16 states. There have been 31 hospitalizations thus far and no deaths, according to the CDC.

Recall

Packaging Process Breakdown Causes Eataly Recall

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Recall

Eataly USA has recalled its Eataly Artichoke Spread due to undeclared walnuts. A customer who is allergic to walnuts suffered a “light” allergic reaction after consuming the spread.

“The customer declined to fill out the Eataly incident form and just wanted to bring the seriousness of what happened to our attention.” – FDA

After investigating further, it was discovered that the issue was caused by a temporary breakdown in the packaging process, FDA stated in a safety recall.

The product was distributed at the company’s popular New York City Eataly Flatiron location.

HACCP, hazard analysis and critical control points

Food Safety Lessons for Cannabis

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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HACCP, hazard analysis and critical control points

A HACCP plan has historically been applied by the food manufacturing and food service industries to ensure the sale of  food that is safe for consumption. As the cannabis industry grows in the manufacture of cannabis-infused products, namely edibles, lessons can be learned from the progress and success of programs like Good Manufacturing Practices, HACCP, Juice HACCP and FSMA. One side of the coin is compliance with regulations; the other side of the coin is taking all necessary steps to ensure a safe product for the consumer.

A webinar next month, Lessons from Food Safety: Applications to the Cannabis Industry, organized as a partnership between Cannabis Industry Journal and the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) will cover the above topics, along with the disparities in state-to-state cannabis safety and quality regulations, and implications for infused-product manufacturers. The webinar will be held at 1 pm ET on May 2. To learn more, follow this registration link.

Eggs

Rose Acres Recalls Eggs, FDA Investigating Salmonella Link

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Eggs

Rose Acre Farms has voluntarily recalled eggs from its farm in Hyde County, North Carolina following an investigation by FDA, CDC and other agencies involving Salmonella illnesses. FDA testing determined that eggs produced from this farm are connected to 22 cases of Salmonella Braenderup infections; the CDC is confirming illness information with state health departments.

The exact amount of eggs recalled totals 206,749,248.

The eggs are sold under several brand names, including Coburn Farms, Country Daybreak, Food Lion, Glenview, Great Value, Nelms, and Sunshine Farms, as well as restaurants.

FDA is advising restaurants and retailers that they should not sell or use any recalled shell eggs. In addition, they should take measures to avoid cross-contamination of the food processing environment and equipment by washing and sanitizing display cases and refrigerators regularly, washing and sanitizing cutting boards, surfaces and utensils, and washing hands with hot water and soap after any cleaning or sanitation process. Consumers are advised not to eat the recalled eggs.

A full list of the recalled eggs are available on FDA’s website.

Lettuce

Romaine Lettuce Likely Source of Widespread E. Coli Outbreak

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Lettuce

At least 35 people in 11 states have been infected with E.coli O157:H7, according to the CDC, and the FDA is investigating a likely link to these infections and chopped romaine lettuce from Yuma, Arizona. The reported illnesses occurred between March 22 and March 31, and 93% of the 28 people interviewed reported eating romaine lettuce (mainly from a restaurant) during the week that they became ill.

The FDA and CDC are advising consumers to ask restaurants and other food service establishments where they source their romaine lettuce from and to avoid any that came from Yuma, Arizona. In addition, they should not buy or eat it if they cannot confirm the source.

“Retailers, restaurants, and other food service operators should not sell or serve any chopped romaine lettuce from the winter growing areas in Yuma, Arizona. If you cannot determine the source of your chopped romaine lettuce, do not sell or serve it. The FDA currently does not have information to indicate that whole-head romaine lettuce or hearts of romaine have contributed to this outbreak.” – FDA

The agencies will continue to investigate this outbreak. FDA emphasized that this outbreak is not related to a multistate outbreak that occurred last November to December involving leafy greens, as those infections had a different DNA fingerprint of the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria.

Stephen Ostroff, 2016 Food Safety Consortium

Blockchain Transformational, Says Ostroff. FDA Updates on Pathogens, FSMA, WGS and More

By Maria Fontanazza
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Stephen Ostroff, 2016 Food Safety Consortium

Stephen Ostroff, M.D. deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, sounds excited about the promise of blockchain. He also continues to enthusiastically wave the flag for whole genome sequencing (WGS) in solving foodborne illness cases. At the recent GMA Science Forum, Ostroff shared his usual update on incidents involving pathogens, agency progress in inspections and FSMA, and what the future holds.

The 2018 Food Safety Supply Chain conference features a Blockchain panel discussion | June 12–13 | Learn morePathogens

“There’s been essentially zero change in incidents of pathogens, and in some [cases there have been] increases—despite the fact that we’ve been doing quite a bit to improve the profile of food safety in the United States,” said Ostroff. This isn’t the first time that Ostroff pointed to the fact that foodborne illness is resistant to change, but he still emphasized the disappointment that industry is “way off” from the Healthy People 2020 target rate for pathogens established by the government. “None of these are close to where we thought we would be,” he said, referring to the government’s established target rates for Campylobacter, E.coli O157, Listeria, Salmonella, Vibrio and Yersinia.

Ostroff has previously pointed to improved diagnostics and surveillance systems as being partially responsible for a lack of improvement in the number of foodborne illness cases (due to higher detection rates), but during this particular presentation he brought attention to culture independent diagnostic tests (CIDTs)—which he said are having a “major impact on data collected in FoodNet.” CIDT is relatively new and is more rapid than the culture method, but it doesn’t allow for subtyping or antimicrobial resistance testing.

According to Ostroff, CIDTs have major implications for folks who work in food safety. The overall incidence of infection with foodborne pathogens is not decreasing, and the use of CIDTs makes assessment of trends difficult. CIDTs appear to be finding infections previously undiagnosed or unrecognized. In addition, they could affect the agency’s ability to monitor FSMA impact measures.

Inspections

The agency continues to look at inspection data from both the perspective of the number of inspections and their outcomes. During FY 2017, there were 1253 domestic and 146 foreign inspections. For FY 2018, there have already been 1610 domestic inspections to date.

Enforcement Discretion

In January, FDA issued new enforcement discretion for certain provisions in four FSMA rules. This included resolving issues related to the “farm” definition, requirements for food contact substances under FSVP, and certain written assurances in place for the Preventive Controls (human and animal) rule until FDA comes up with a practical solution to issues raised by stakeholders, Ostroff said.

Oversight of Food Imports

FDA continues to take a risk-based approach to FSVP and overseas inspections. Part of these efforts includes the agency’s systems recognition program where it looks at other mature food safety systems around the world to recognize countries that have programs similar to the United States. Thus far FDA has recognized Australia, Canada and New Zealand food safety systems; It is currently in the process of evaluating European Union members.

Intentional Adulteration Rule

The International Adulteration rule continues to be a hot topic of discussion, especially as it relates to associated costs. FDA is actively working on putting out a draft guidance that will discuss how to conduct vulnerability assessments, along with its interpretation of the rule, according to Ostroff. Part one of the draft should be out “in the very near future”, he said. He added that the agency is trying to be flexible with the rule and although food defense is an important component of food safety, companies should never do anything in the context of food defense that could pose a food safety risk.

Whole Genome Sequencing

WGS provides more precise identification at a genetic level and helps expedite recognition and response time for nearly all current foodborne illness and outbreak investigations. “It’s the new normal—it’s here and it’s here big time,” said Ostroff, adding that the GenomeTrakr network has more than 167,000 isolates sequences in the database and is becoming more and more powerful. “It’s amazing what this tool can do,” he said, citing two recent cases involving strains of Salmonella in papayas and kratom.

Blockchain

“I think blockchain can be really transformational in the world of food safety,” said Ostroff, calling it “traceability on steroids without question”. He thinks the technology could also be useful in addressing food fraud and economically motivated adulteration, and provide more consumer transparency. Right now the FDA is looking very closely at blockchain in context of traceability and FSMA.

Recall

FDA Orders Mandatory Recall of Triangle Pharmanaturals Kratom Products

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Recall

Earlier this week the FDA ordered a mandatory recall for all Triangle Pharmanaturals food products that contain powdered kratom as a result of Salmonella contamination. The mandatory action was issued because the company “refused to cooperate with FDA despite repeated attempts to encourage voluntary recall,” FDA stated in a release.

For more than a month, FDA has been investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella infections that were linked to products containing kratom, a plant native to Thaland, Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Over this period of time, there have been several voluntary recalls by companies that provide products containing kratom: PDX Aromatics, Tamarack, Inc., and NutriZone LLC. All of these recalls were due to positive Salmonella product sample results.

Triangle Pharmanaturals, however, was not responsive to FDA’s requests to issue a voluntary recall, even after samples of products manufactured by the company tested positive for Salmonella. “In the course of investigating a multi-state outbreak of salmonella infections linked to kratom products in conjunction with local officials, FDA investigators were denied access to the company’s records relating to potentially affected products and Triangle employees refused attempts to discuss the agency’s findings,” FDA stated.

“Under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, the FDA has the authority to order the recall of certain food products when the FDA determines that there is a reasonable probability that the article of food is adulterated or in violation of certain allergen labeling requirements and that the use of or exposure to such article will cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals.” – FDA

As of March 14, the CDC reported that 87 people were infected with outbreak strains of Salmonella in 35 states; 27 people have been hospitalized. And as of April 2, 26 different kratom-containing products have tested positive for Salmonella.

FDA is advising consumers to avoid kratom and all kratom-containing products, which have been sold in several forms, including leaves, tea, pills, capsules and powder. “There is no FDA-approved use for kratom and the agency has received concerning reports about the safety of kratom, including deaths associated with its use,” the agency stated.

Food Safety Tech

Call for Abstracts for the 2018 Food Safety Consortium

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Food Safety Tech

It’s that time of year again! As we prepare to put together another informative and insightful Food Safety Consortium, we are requesting abstracts for presentation content. This year’s event takes place November 14–16 in Schaumburg, IL.

If you’re interested in submitting an abstract, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The abstract should be about 300 words
  • Presentations will be judged on educational value
  • Don’t submit a sales pitch!
  • Presentation time is about 45 minutes—this includes a 10-15 Q&A session

The abstract submission deadline is Friday, May 18. Click here for more information.

Good luck!

fruit painting

New Handheld Scanner Detects Pathogens, Puts Curators at Ease

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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fruit painting

The world-famous Louvre museum in Paris is perhaps most well known for the Mona Lisa, but there are many other noteworthy paintings that travelers come from all over the world to see. Many of these are still life paintings that are hundreds of years old. And while curators use a variety of resins to protect the paintings from elements such as dirt and moisture, if museum visitors get too close, their health could also be at risk.

“The shelf life of fruits, cheeses and meats is obviously not hundreds of years,” said art historian and researcher Ella Salmon. “As such, we apply special resins to keep the food in these still life paintings fresh—but sometimes we cannot control the environment, and as a result, certain pathogens can contaminate the foods.”

Researchers at Université du Croquer may have come up with a solution. They developed a handheld scanner that provides rapid detection of pathogens on still life paintings, allowing curators to quickly detect contamination. This will help them take any paintings down to remove potentially dangerous pathogens from the path of unsuspecting art enthusiasts.

“This is truly a breakthrough technology,” says Ella. “Within the past two weeks, we placed four paintings in quarantine for treatment, including ‘Still life with Ham’ and ‘Fruit and Vegetables with a Monkey, Parrot and Squirrel’. We have been looking for this kind of solution for a long time, and are pleased to now have the ability to allow visitors to get more up close and personal with the art, as we will have assurances that they will be safe.”

Researchers are testing the technology at the Louvre and anticipate making it more widely available within the next six months.

Fake news

Find the fake news: This article is part of the Food Safety Tech April Fool’s edition. To find out which stories are fake and which are real, log onto our site on Monday afternoon (April 2) and click on each story for the update. You can also sound off in the comments section.

–Update April 2, 2018–If you guessed that this was the fake news, then you guessed correct! April Fools!

Impossible Burger

This Bleeding Burger Is…Meat-Free

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Impossible Burger

If it looks like beef, smells like beef, handles like beef and tastes like beef, it should be beef, right? Wrong. And it bleeds too, according to Impossible Foods, maker of the plant-based product. The Impossible Burger is made without antibiotics, hormones, cholesterol or artificial flavors, and is free of slaughterhouse contaminants. In addition, it uses about 75% less water, creates roughly 87% fewer greenhouse gases and requires about 95% less land than conventional ground beef from cows. The product consists of water, wheat protein, potato protein and coconut oil, while heme, a “magic molecule”, creates the flavor and smell of cooked meat.

Impossible Foods, based in Redwood City, California, was founded 7 years ago by a former Stanford University biochemistry professor. The privately held company makes plant-based meat and dairy products. The company’s Impossible Burger has increased in popularity as consumer seeks more sustainable foods and is served in 1000 restaurants nationwide.

Find the fake news: This article is part of the Food Safety Tech April Fool’s edition. To find out which stories are fake and which are real, log onto our site on Monday afternoon (April 2) and click on each story for the update. You can also sound off in the comments section.

Think this is the fake news? Wrong! Here’s our April Fool’s story.

New Handheld Scanner Detects Pathogens, Puts Curators at Ease