USDA FSIS has awarded a contract to 3M Food Safety for its pathogen detection instruments and kits. 3M’s molecular detection system will be the primary method used by the agency to detect Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes and E. coli O157. The technology combines isothermal DNA amplification and bioluminescence detection for a fast, accurate and simple solution that also tackles some of the constraints of PCR methods. Users can concurrently run up to 96 different tests for many organisms across food and environmental samples.
Yesterday the USDA announced a Class I recall of Johnsonville’s smoked pork sausage products due to contamination with extraneous materials. The company received three consumer complaints of pieces of hard, green plastic in the sausage. The 14-oz plastic packages contain six pieces of Jalapeno Cheddar Smoked Sausage and were produced on January 4 and shipped to locations nationwide.
The recall affects about 109,603 pounds of product.
Thus far there have been no reports of adverse reactions or illnesses as a result of the contamination. Consumers who have purchased the products are urged to throw away the sausages or to return them to the place of purchase.
Over the past five years, the food and beverage industry has seen a big increase in the units recalled—a 92.7% spike in FDA recalls and an 83.4% increase in recalled pounds by USDA since 2012, according to Stericycle’s quarterly recall index. The firm cites technological advances in food testing, factory farming and more automation in food production as the main contributors to the high numbers.
During Q4 2017, bacterial contamination and undeclared allergens led the pack in food recall causes. According to Stericycle, back in 2012, about 28% of FDA food recalls were a result of bacterial contamination, while undeclared allergens accounted for 35% of pounds of food recalled by USDA. During Q4 2017, 44% of food recalls (based on units) were from bacterial contamination, followed by undeclared allergens (31%), mislabeling (13%), and quality (10%). Among the top categories for recalls were prepared foods (20%, nuts and seeds (16%), produce (15%) and baked goods (12%). In addition, nearly 50% of the USDA recalled pounds were a result of lack of inspection.
Fruit and vegetable farmers are doing an “impressive” job of complying with the laws and regulations related to pesticide use in production, according to the USDA’s annual Pesticide Data Program (PDP) report. Based on data from 2016, the report found that more than 99% of samples had pesticide residues that were “well below” the EPA’s established tolerances, and more than 23% had no detectable residues. Less than half-a-percent of samples (0.46%) had residues that exceeded the EPA established tolerance.
To compile the PDP report, surveys were conducted in 2016 on several foods, including eggs, milk, and fresh and processed fruit and vegetables. The report contains data from more than 10,000 samples collected throughout the United States.
A release from the Alliance for Food and Farming states that the U.S. food supply is one of the safest in the world, yet: “Activists groups often manipulate the findings from the USDA PDP report taking the very positive results and somehow turning them into something negative. This tactic has been used routinely for 20-plus years to create a so-called ‘dirty dozen’ list, which has been repeatedly discredited by scientists.”
Rich Products Corp. recalled 3.420 pounds of ready-to-eat beef meatball products over concerns that they may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes. The recalled products, which were produced on December 17, 2017, include 36-lb cases that contain six bags of “Member’s Mark Casa Di Bertacchi Italian Style Beef Meatballs with a “best by” date of December 17, 2018. The meatballs were shipped to distributors in the South, including Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia. The issue was discovered on January 24 when FSIS was notified by Rich Products that it shipped adulterated products into commerce. More information about the meatball recall is available on USDA’s website.
Despite the government shutdown, certain aspects of the USDA will continue to operate. On Friday, USDA issued a release in which U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue outlined the services that will continue to be available, including the following:
- Ensuring meat, poultry and egg products are safe
- Inspect before and after bird and animal slaughter for food intended for humans
- Apply foreign government inspection requirements and procedures
- Conduct emergency operations related to voluntary meat and poultry products
- Conduct epidemiological investigations related to foodborne health hazards and disease outbreaks, and provide pathological, microbiological, and chemical examination of USDA regulated products for disease, infection, contamination and adulteration
- Prevent movement of adulterated product
A full outline of the government shutdown plan is available on the USDA website.
Earlier this week the USDA’s FSIS proposed to amend inspection regulations, modernizing food safety inspection systems, in an effort to make egg products safer. It would require official plants that process egg products to develop HACCP systems, sanitation standard operating procedures and meet sanitation requirements consistent with meat and poultry regulations.
“FSIS is proposing that official plants will be required to produce egg products in such a way that the finished product is free of detectable pathogens,” according to a USDA news release. “The regulatory amendment also uses agency’s resources more efficiently and removes unnecessary regulatory obstacles to innovation.”
FSIS will also be taking over jurisdiction of egg substitutes.
According to the agency, the financial impact of the proposed rule could be minimal, as it states 93% of egg products plants already have a written HACCP plan that deals with at least one production step in the process.
Once published in the Federal Register, a 120-comment period will go into effect.
The CDC estimates that Salmonella, E. coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes and Campylobacter cause 1.9 million cases of foodborne illness in the United States. A report just released from the Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration (IFSAC) analyzed data from more than 1000 foodborne disease outbreaks involving these pathogens from1998 through 2013.
The report found the following:
- Salmonella illnesses came from a wide variety of foods (more than 75% came from the seven food categories of seeded vegetables, eggs, chicken, other produce, pork, beef and fruit.
- More than 75% of E.coli O157 illnesses were linked to vegetable row crops, like leaf greens, and beef.
- More than 75% of Listeria monocytogenes illnesses came from fruits and dairy products.
- More than 80% of non-dairy Campylobacter illnesses were linked to chicken, other seafood (i.e., shellfish), seeded vegetables, vegetable row crops, and other meat and poultry (i.e., lamb or duck).
A copy of the report, “Foodborne illness source attribution estimates for 2013 for Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter using multi-year outbreak surveillance data, United States”, is available on the CDC’s website.
Over the past week, the USDA has undergone changes in top leadership. Following 39 years with FSIS, Deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety and FSIS Administrator Al Almanza retired. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the appointment of Carmen Rottenberg as acting deputy undersecretary for food safety and Paul Kiecker was named acting administrator for FSIS. Rottenberg and Kiecker will serve in these roles until presidential nominees are confirmed by the Senate.
“Highlights for me have been using a science-based approach to modernize the poultry slaughter inspection system, implementing the Public Health Information System (PHIS), reducing listeriosis and E. coli O157:H7 illnesses from FSIS-regulated products and adding six other dangerous strains of E. coli to the zero-tolerance list, and implementing performance standards for Campylobacter and Salmonella.” – Al Almanza reflecting on his time leading the USDA
Almanza has been hired by U.S.-based meat processor JBS to serve as the global head of food safety and quality assurance. The company has more than 300,000 customers in more than 150 countries. “During his long and storied career at FSIS, Al earned the respect and admiration of his peers for his team-based management approach and his willingness to partner with both industry and public health organizations to ensure the provision of safe, quality food to consumers,” said JBS Global President of Operations Gilberto Tomazoni in a company press release. “JBS is privileged to have someone of Al’s caliber join our company.”
On Saturday the USDA announced a Class I nationwide recall of 7,196,084 pounds of hot dog products from Marathon Enterprises, Inc. Produced between March 17, 2017 and July 4, 2017, the certain beef and pork hot dog and sausage items may contain bone fragments.
The issue was uncovered via the FSIS Complaint Monitoring System on July 10, which stated that pieces of bone were found in the product. No injuries have been reported yet.
USDA Recall Classification of Class I Recall: “This is a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.”
FSIS has posted a full list of the recalled items on its website.