Australia Could Ban Raw Milk Sale

While the sale of raw milk is already banned for human consumption in all states and territories in the country, raw milk is still sold as ‘bath milk’ or ‘cosmetic milk’ with a disclaimer, but it is knowingly being consumed by people who argue the bacteria in raw milk are beneficial to health. Raw milk cheese gets a pass.

A national ban on the sale of raw milk is looming after state and territory leaders agreed consumers need protection from the dangers posed by unpasteurized milk.

The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation, attended by ministers responsible for food regulation, raised their ‘extreme concern’ about the consumption of unpasteurized cow’s milk that is sold as ‘bath milk’ with a disclaimer ‘not for human consumption.’ The forum found urgent action was required at a national level and are asking for “a joint public health, food safety and consumer law solution that will deliver a consistent approach across all Australian jurisdictions,” Australian newspaper The Herald Sun reports

Last month Premier Mike Baird vowed to work with other state and territory leaders to stop health food stores selling the potentially deadly product. His move followed Victoria’s tough action on producers of raw milk following the death of a Victorian child and the hospitalization of four other children in December. The children suffered severe complications as a result of food poisoning sourced to raw milk consumption.

The sale of raw milk is already banned for human consumption in all states and territories but raw milk is sold as ‘bath milk’ or ‘cosmetic milk’ with a disclaimer, but it is knowingly being consumed by people who argue the bacteria in raw milk are beneficial to health.

Now under new regulations, Victorians who give family members raw milk to drink face fines of $60,000.

As of Sunday, a strong bittering agent will be put into unpasteurized milk to deter people from consuming it, according to the state’s minister for consumer affairs, Jane Garrett. More than 100 protesters gathering outside Garrett’s Brunswick office and vowing they would continue drinking milk in what they describe as its “purest form.” Meanwhile, specialist cheese makers are welcoming a decision by the New Zealand and Australian health ministers to allow a wider range of cheeses to be made from raw milk. The decision was made at a meeting of the ministers in Auckland. The new rules require that the raw milk cheese does not support the growth of disease-causing bacteria, and that there is no rise in the level of those during processing.

Super Bowl Food Safety

By Sangita Viswanathan
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Despite all the excitement surrounding the big game, party hosts should be cognizant of potential lurking dangers in their food. No one wants to get sick off a few wings, jalapeno poppers, and mozzarella sticks – An interview with PURE Bioscience’s CEO, Hank Lambert.

With the Super Bowl this weekend, fans around the country are beginning to plan for their big parties, deciding who to invite and what food they’ll be serving. Some rough estimates predict that football fans, on an average will consume 2400 calories, just during the game.

Despite all the excitement surrounding the big game, party hosts should be cognizant of potential lurking dangers in their food. No one wants to get sick off a few wings, jalapeno poppers, and mozzarella sticks.

Hank Lambert, CEO of PURE Bioscience, Inc. spoke to Food Safety Tech about how costs can keep their food safe and precautions that can be taken to prevent Super Bowl fans from getting sick from the food.

PURE Bioscience develops and commercializes proprietary antimicrobial products based on patented, stabilized ionic silver, and Silver Dihydrogen Citrate (SDC). “The product is a food contact disinfectant that is effective in killing a broad range of pathogens, including norovirus (in 60 seconds). We are non-toxic compared to others that are ammonium or chlorine based, tasteless/ odorless and non-corrosive (with an EPA level 4 toxicity or lowest toxicity label),” describes Lambert.

Lambert warns that norovirus is particularly dangerous during this season, and is a risk at home entertaining as much as it is in a public restaurant or cruise ship. Following food handling and prep guidelines is always critical and Lambert provides a few tips to ensure this:

  • Ensure that hands are properly cleaned between preparing and serving, between handling raw and prepared foods. Proper hand washing by itself, can help halve half the risk of any foodborne illness, he points out.
  • Ensure food prep surfaces are cleaned, so that any cross contamination can be avoided. For instance after prepping raw chicken, make sure you properly wash and sanitize the surface before cutting veggies or cheese on it.
  • Keep raw and cooked foods separate, starting at the grocery store keep your chicken wings for instance in a separate bag from the carrots or celery or dip to minimize risk of cross contamination, and follow this at home in the refrigerator and during prep.
  • Cook your foods thoroughly. For instance, poultry (wings or tenders), make sure it’s cooked to internal temp of 165 F to kill potential bacteria.
  • Keep the foods at safe temperatures, whether it’s in the refrigerator (40 F or below) when storing or serving them to ensure bacteria won’t grow. Don’t leave prepared food out for more than two hours out at a time, Lambert mentions guacamole served in large bowls, left sitting out for hours at such parties. “Serve in a small bowl, refrigerate the rest, and replenish when needed to maintain safe temperatures,” he advises.

Another rule to remember: “If you have someone at home or a guest is sick, they should not be handling food or around food. Even if you think you are feeling better, you could still be shedding norovirus or other germs when you sneeze, perspire etc., for up to three days after you feel better. So be thoughtful of other guests,” Lambert cautions.

So which traditional Super Bowl foods are the most prone to food-borne illnesses? “A common culprit is often chicken products, which, if not cooked to proper internal temperature, carry the risk of spreading Salmonella. Raw vegetables can also be a leading cause if not properly washed, or if they have been cross contaminated,” lists Lambert.

So while you are reveling in your Super Bowl Party this weekend, eat safe and may the best team win!

Lawmakers Introduce Bill for Single “Food Safety Administration”

Food safety oversight is currently split up among 15 agencies in the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, and Commerce. The Safe Food Act of 2015 introduced in both houses of Congress on Wednesday, aims to consolidate all the authorities for food safety inspections, enforcement and labeling into the Food Safety Administration.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced bills in Congress yesterday with a goal to establish a single, independent federal food safety agency. The aim is to improve food safety for consumers, while also cutting back on the costs of a dispersed system with overlapping responsibilities between agencies, according to Durbin.


“What the bill does is remedy the situation,” DeLauro said. “With a single agency, we believe our country will be able to have the ability to detect relatively minor problems before they become major outbreaks.”

The Act would provide the Food Safety Administration with mandatory recall authority for unsafe food, require risk assessments and preventive control plans to reduce adulteration, authorize enforcement actions to strengthen contaminant performance standards, improve foreign food import inspections, and require full food traceability to better identify sources of outbreaks.

DeLauro said the bill builds on the improvements made in FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

The federal agencies that would be incorporated into one include:

  • FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) and Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM); 
  • The resources and facilities of FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs that administer and conduct inspections of food and feed facilities and imports; 
  • The resources and facilities of the Office of the FDA Commissioner that support CFSAN, CVM and inspections;
  • USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service;
  • The part of USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service that administers shell egg surveillance services;
  • The part of USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics mission area related to food and feed safety;
  • The part of USDA’s Animal and Plant Inspection Health Service related to the management of animals going into the food supply; and
  • The part of the National Marine Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce that administers the seafood inspection program. 

A single food safety agency is not a new concept, and the two lawmakers have sponsored Safe Food Acts five times before, though the most recent was in 2007. In addition, the Government Accountability Office has reported on the need for better coordination of food safety activities over the years.

DeLauro mentioned eggs as an example to show how complicated the current food safety landscape was: “One agency manages the health of hens, another oversees the feed that they eat, another sets egg quality standards but does not test them for Salmonella,” she said. “While still in its shell, the egg is the responsibility of the Food and Drug Administration, but once it’s processed into an egg product, it becomes the responsibility of Food Safety and Inspection Service.”

Durbin and DeLauro are hoping to build bipartisan support for the bills. Current cosponsors of the Senate Safe Food Act include Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Cosponsors in the House include Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), James Langevin (D-RI), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

115 Sickened: Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis Infections Linked to Bean Sprouts

So far, 61 outbreaks have been associated with raw sprouts, sickening at least 11,179.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports this outbreak appears to be over.

barfblog-raw-sprouts-Aug-2014A total of 115 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Enteritidis were reported from 12 states. Twenty-five percent of ill persons were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.

Collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicated that bean sprouts produced by Wonton Foods, Inc. were the likely source of this outbreak.

In interviews, 61 (72 percent) of 85 ill persons reported eating bean sprouts or menu items containing bean sprouts in the week before becoming ill.

In November 2014, Wonton Foods Inc. agreed to destroy any remaining products while they conducted a thorough cleaning and sanitization and implemented other Salmonella control measures at their firm. The firm resumed shipment of bean sprouts on November 29, 2014.

Contaminated bean sprouts produced by Wonton Foods, Inc. are likely no longer available for purchase or consumption given the maximum 12-day shelf life of mung bean sprouts.

Although this outbreak appears to be over, sprouts are a known source of foodborne illness. CDC recommends that consumers, restaurants, and other retailers always follow food safety practices to avoid illness from eating sprouts.

Be aware that children, older adults, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind (including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts).

We count 61 outbreaks associated with raw sprouts, sickening at least 11,179.

How Safe is Consumer Handling of Raw Poultry Products at Home?

Between 1998 and 2008, 20 percent of Salmonella and 16 percent of Campylobacter foodborne disease outbreaks were associated with food prepared inside the home.

Salmonella and Campylobacter cause an estimated combined total of 1.8 million foodborne infections each year in the United States. Most cases of salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis are associated with eating raw or undercooked poultry or with cross-contamination.

Between 1998 and 2008, 20 percent of Salmonella and 16 percent of Campylobacter foodborne disease outbreaks were associated with food prepared inside the home.

A nationally representative Web survey of 1,504 U.S. adult grocery shoppers was conducted to estimate the percentage of consumers who follow recommended food safety practices when handling raw poultry at home.

The survey results identified areas of low adherence to current recommended food safety practices: Not washing raw poultry before cooking, proper refrigerator storage of raw poultry, use of a food thermometer to determine doneness, and proper thawing of raw poultry in cold water.

Nearly 70 percent of consumers reported washing or rinsing raw poultry before cooking it, a potentially unsafe practice because “splashing” of contaminated water may lead to the transfer of pathogens to other foods and other kitchen surfaces.

Only 17.5 percent of consumers reported correctly storing raw poultry in the refrigerator. Sixty-two percent of consumers own a food thermometer, and of these, 26 percent or fewer reported using one to check the internal temperature of smaller cuts of poultry and ground poultry. Only 11% of consumers who thaw raw poultry in cold water reported doing so correctly.

The study results, coupled with other research findings, will inform the development of science-based consumer education materials that can help reduce foodborne illness from Salmonella and Campylobacter.

Journal of Food Protection, Number 1, January 2015, pp. 4-234, pp. 180-186(7) Kosa, Katherine M.; Cates, Sheryl C.; Bradley, Samantha; Chambers IV, Edgar; Godwin, Sandria. 

Norway Finds ‘Probable’ Case of Mad Cow Disease

A second positive test for bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE on a 15-year-old cow reinforced suspicions that it had mad cow disease, the Norwegian Veterinary Institute said.

“We have a likely and strong suspicion of a possible variant of BSE,” Bjørn Røthe Knudtsen of the Food and Safety Authority has told public broadcaster NRK.

The authorities however said there was a distinction between the type of BSE caused by cows eating meat-based feed — banned in Europe since 2001 after the British epidemic — and an atypical version which has sporadically appeared in older cows in several European countries in recent years. A definitive diagnosis can only be made by a European reference laboratory in Britain.

“We take this seriously and we are handling it as if our suspicion were confirmed,” Food and Safety Authority official Solfrid Aamdal said in a statement.

What’s Frustrating for Food Manufacturers?

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Gary Nowacki, CEO of TraceGains, highlights the concerns that came out of an Ask the Expert discussion about Supplier Qualifications and Management at the 2014 Food Safety Consortium.

“A common takeaway–whether it was small, mid-size or large companies–was the frustration of having to do more audits, and the growing demand for more paperwork. A question that was often asked was that ‘my customer is asking me to subscribe to a different audit, and that defeats the promise of GFSI, that it would lead to fewer audits.’ My advice to them is to not just blindly agree, but ask the customer politely what exactly they are looking for, and see if they can address that. Another frustration related to the increase in paperwork and the time and resources consumed in filling these plethora of forms. So there was a discussion about how we can standardize these. And people are looking to get automated solutions as they are not getting more headcount.”

Apple Recall – Here are 5 Fruits and Veggies at Greater Risk

“Fresh fruits and vegetables are probably the biggest source of foodborne illness today in North America, and that’s because they’re fresh — we don’t cook them — so anything that comes into contact has the potential to contaminate.”

A Listeria outreak in apples has killed seven people and hospitalized 31, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has trace the outbreak to Bidart Bros. apple-packing plant in California.

While apples are the second most popular fruit in America, according the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, outbreaks linked to apples are rare, due to the natural hard surface of the fruit, which, prevents bacteria from entering the fruit, says Doug Powell, PhD, a former professor of food safety in the U.S. and Canada who publishes

In a Yahoo! Health article, Amy Rushlow quotes Prof. Powell: “Fresh fruits and vegetables are probably the biggest source of foodborne illness today in North America, and that’s because they’re fresh — we don’t cook them — so anything that comes into contact has the potential to contaminate.” Powell especially sounds caution about the following five fruits and vegetables, which have been linked to a significant number of foodborne illness outbreaks over the past years:

1. Sprouts: A 2011 outbreak in Germany killed more than 50 people and sickened more than 4,000. In late 2014, more than 100 Americans became ill after eating sprouts tainted with E. coli. Sprouts are particularly prone to bacteria because they germinate in a high-temperature, high-moisture environment — the same environment where germs thrive. The CDC recommends that pregnant women, children, older adults, and people with weak immune systems avoid eating raw sprouts. Cooking sprouts destroys harmful bacteria.

2. Cantaloupe: Cantaloupes’ porous rinds allow bacteria to enter the fruit. In addition, the fields where cantaloupes are grown are often flooded, resulting in the fruits sitting in water that may have come downstream from a livestock operation.”

3. Leafy greens: Bacteria becomes trapped on the inner leaves as the head is forming, and leafy greens are difficult to wash effectively. Over the past several years in the U.S., bags of romaine lettuce, prepackaged salad mix, spinach, and spring mix have all been linked to E. coli outbreaks.

4. Tomatoes: There are several ways for germs to enter the fruit of the tomato, including via groundwater or through the water tomatoes are plunged into to give them a little shine.

5. Garnishes, such as green onions, cilantro, and parsley: Green onions and other herbs and vegetables used as garnishes are at high risk for outbreaks because we typically don’t cook them.

However, Powell advises that while there is no one measure that will keep you completely safe, a few small steps can add up such as rinsing fresh produce, and cooking then when you can.

Source: Yahoo! Health

Salmonella – Most Expensive Pathogen

The top 15 pathogens, which includes Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Campylobacter and E. coli O157:H7, make up 95 percent of illnesses and deaths from food in the U.S.

Salmonella ranks first among the top 15 most costly foodborne illnesses, raking up around $3.7 billion every year in medical costs for Americans.

According to the latest estimates from USDA’s Economic Research Service, the top 15 pathogens, which also include Listeria monocytogenes (ranked third), Campylobacter (ranked 5) and E. coli O157:H7 (ranked 9), make up 95 percent of illnesses and deaths from food in the U.S.

Salmonella’s cost is $3.7 billion, with 1,027,561 total cases, 19,336 hospitalizations and 378 deaths.

Listeria monocytogenes’s cost is $2.8 billion, with 1,591 cases, 1,173 hospitalizations and 306 deaths.

Campylobacter’s is $1.9 billion, with 845,024 cases, 8,463 hospitalizations and 76 deaths.

E. coli O157’s is $271 million, with 63,153 cases, 2,138 hospitalizations and 30 deaths.

Deaths tend to account for the bulk of the total costs. Death associated with salmonella, for example, cost nearly $3.3 billion, or almost 90 percent, of its $3.7 billion cost.

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GFSI Recognizes SQF Scope Extension for Storage and Distribution

Scope J, Provision of Storage and Distribution Services, is the latest extension to the SQF scopes covered by the GFSI benchmarking requirements, and includes the management of safety schemes for storage facilities and the distribution vehicles for food and feed.

The Global Food Safety Initiative Board of Directors is pleased to announce that SQF has achieved recognition against the Guidance Document Sixth Edition for the scope of Storage and Distribution (J). This is in addition to the scopes for which SQF has already achieved GFSI recognition (AI, BI, C, D, EI, EII, EIII, EIV, F, L and M). The GFSI Guidance Document’s Scope J, Provision of Storage and Distribution Services, is the latest extension to the scopes covered by the GFSI benchmarking requirements, and includes the management of safety schemes for storage facilities and the distribution vehicles for food and feed.

Scopes of Recognition

GSFI-SQF-Scope-Jan-2015The GFSI Benchmark Committee was led by Kevin Swoffer, director, KPS Resources Ltd with the support of Cloeann Durham, Sr. Director Quality ; CCBCC, The Coca-Cola Company and Bizhan Pourkomailian, Director Food Safety and Supplier Workplace Accountability, McDonald’s.

“The GFSI Board is delighted to recognize yet another food safety scheme against the GFSI requirements for storage and distribution activities. SQF now offers another option to companies looking for food safety management solutions in this part of the supply chain,” said Cenk Gurol, Aeon, Chairman of the GFSI Board.

“SQFI is pleased to announce the recognition and benchmarking of our Storage and Distribution of Food Products Program by GFSI. We are excited to offer these highly anticipated benchmarked modules to our stakeholders so they can be assured they are transporting and storing perishable and non-perishable food and feed products safely,” said LeAnn B Chuboff, Senior Technical Director, SQFI.

The Safe Quality Food (SQF) program is recognized by retailers and foodservice providers around the world as a rigorous, credible food safety management system. It is the only certification system recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) that offers certificates for primary production, food manufacturing, distribution and agent/broker management. This enables suppliers to assure their customers that food has been produced, processed, prepared and handled according to the highest possible standards, at all levels of the supply chain.

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is a business-driven initiative for the continuous improvement of food safety management systems to ensure confidence in the delivery of safe food to consumers worldwide. GFSI was launched in 2000 following a number of food safety crises when consumer confidence was at an all-time low. Its collaborative approach to food safety brings together international food safety experts from the entire food supply chain at technical working group and stakeholder meetings, conferences and regional events to share knowledge and promote a harmonized approach to managing food safety across the industry.

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) was founded to deliver equivalence and convergence between effective food safety management systems through its benchmarking process and continues to flourish in doing so. Benchmarking is a “procedure by which a food safety‐related scheme is compared to the GFSI Guidance Document”. The benchmarking process determines equivalency against an internationally recognized set of food safety requirements, based on industry best practice and sound science. These requirements are developed through a consensus building process by key stakeholders in the food supply chain and can be found in the GFSI Guidance Document Sixth Edition, freely available for download on