Monday, November 30, 2015

Bagged Celery / Salad Items Recalled after Linked to E. coli in Costco Chicken Salad

Taylor Farms is recalling a number of celery and other bagged lettuce items after chopped celery those items were identified as the source of E. coli O157:H7 in the Costco chicken salad E. coli outbreak.  There have been at least 19 cases reported with two of those developing HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure).

Taylor Farms prepares these ready-to-eat salad items for retail as well as foodservice use.  Operations such as Costco use bagged chopped celery in their food preparation area rather than having to wash and chop their own celery.  Taylor Farms would be responsible for ensuring the safety of the items, often utilizing multiple wash steps with some type of sanitizer.

FDA Recall Notice
Recall: Firm Press Release
Taylor Farms Pacific, Inc. Recalls Celery Products Because Of Possible Health Risk

For Immediate Release
November 26, 2015
Contact  Consumers  Taylor Farms Pacific, Inc.  (209) 830-3141

Firm Press Release

Taylor Farms Pacific, Inc. of Tracy, CA, is recalling the products listed below because they may include celery which could potentially contain E. coli 0157:H7. The products listed below are being recalled out of an abundance of caution due to a Celery and Onion Diced Blend testing positive for E. coli 0157:H7 in a sample taken by the Montana Department of Health. The Celery and Onion Diced Blend tested by the state of Montana was used in a Costco Rotisserie Chicken Salad that has been linked to a multi-state E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Chicken Salad Recalled Due to Potential Link to E. coli Illnesses

 Costco is recalling chicken salad in several western states due to a state health department E. coli outbreak investigation that is focusing on chicken salad purchased in its Colorado stores.

While E. coli O157:H7 has not been associated with chickens, cross contamination can occur in facilities that also handle higher risk items such as beef.  It can also be found in produce items that were subject to contamination.

Colorado Department of Public Health
Chicken salad pulled from Colorado Costco shelves for E.coli
Mark Salley| 303-692-2013 |
DENVER – The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is working with other western states and the CDC to investigate illnesses due to E. coli O157:H7 from chicken salad purchased at Colorado Costco stores in late October.

FDA Developing New Micro Surveillance Sampling Approach

FDA published notice of its sampling program.  "Under the new sampling approach, the FDA is collecting a statistically determined number of samples of targeted foods over a shorter period of time—12 to18 months—to ensure a statistically valid amount of data is available for decision making."  FDA has  been sampling since 2014, but looks to increase this surveillance, especially for items considered higher risk.

Companies should have a plan in place for the event product is sampled, whether that is in the market, or during an inspection.  If FDA samples product or the environment during an facility inspection, consider:
- Holding product.
- Stopping production and conducting a complete sanitation.
- Pulling duplicate samples and having them tested.
One of the difficulties is the delay that can occur with FDA getting back to a facility with results.  The longer the period, the more exposure in terms of extent of product distribution.

A proactive approach is always best - developing and implementing a sampling program to understand and control potential risks.

FDA Website - Sampling
Sampling to Protect the Food Supply
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is based on preventing problems before they happen, rather than solely responding to outbreaks of foodborne illness. But in order to develop prevention-based systems, you need data and other information to help identify hazards that need to be addressed and minimized.
That is why sampling is an important part of this preventive approach and why the FDA is developing a new microbiological surveillance sampling model designed to identify patterns that may help predict and prevent future contamination by disease-causing bacteria.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Update on Salmonella Outbreak Associated with Cucumbers

CDC updated the information regarding the outbreak of Salmonella related to contaminated cucumbers that began in July.    There have been 838 cases of Salmonella reported in 38 states with 165 hospitalizations and 4 deaths.
 Graph showing People infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona, by date of illness onset - as of November 18, 2015 
CDC Recall Update
Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Poona Infections Linked to Imported Cucumbers 
Posted November 19, 2015 11:45 AM ET
 At A Glance
Deaths: 4
Hospitalizations: 165
Recall: Yes
What's New?
  • Since the last update on October 14, 2015, 71 more ill people have been reported from 23 states.
  • Connecticut and New Hampshire were added to the list of states with ill people, bringing the total number of states to 38.
  • The number of reported illnesses has declined substantially since the peak of illnesses in August and September; however, it has not returned to the number of reported illnesses that we would expect to see (about 5 every month). The investigation into the source of these illnesses is ongoing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Survey Shows that Many Distrust Large Food Companies More than Small

A survey conducted by the Center for Food Integrity (CFI) shows that people have more trust in smaller, more entrepreneurial companies than in larger food companies.  In general, the larger the company, the more likely the belief that those companies will put profit ahead of principle.  This despite the fact that larger companies normally have much more resources (people, access to technology, established procedures, etc) to produce products more safely and efficiently compared to small companies

This is not surprising. Certainly this goes hand-in-hand with the increased demand for less processed foods, going for foods that appear fresher and with less preservatives.  Here again, the reality is that fresher, less processed foods can actually represent a higher risk.

Where does this skepticism come from?  There are probably a number of reasons, but here are a few.
One is the press that has come from past product issues where large companies hid information or provided misleading information.  There is big tobacco and information on linkage with cancer.  Or we can look at the most recent recall of Volkswagen cars after the company mislead consumers on emission testing.  Being large companies, these issues receive national press coverage and with that, garner public outrage.

Another reason is food related ingredients or chemicals that got bad press regardless of whether they were used incorrectly or at all.  One of the biggest controversies which was a major factor for the organic food movement was alar, the chemical added to orchards to help regulate apple maturing.   Another controversy was the use of mechanically recovered meat (pink slime).  This recovered meat product was painted as a big company way of adding a cheap alternative into our food (as opposed to a more sustainable method for protein recovery).

I believe another issue is that the public has been conditioned to view large corporate entities and government institutions negatively through movies and television shows watched every day.  How many times do we see a big company as the villain?  And the Federal government receives gets a worse rap.  The Lego Movie.  Jurassic World.  Wolf of Wall Street. Here is a list. Then of course there are the movies that directly smack the industry  such as Food, Inc or Super Size Me.
The bigger the food company, the less consumers trust it, reveals new research

By Elaine Watson+Elaine WATSON, 18-Nov-2015

Big food companies are consistently trusted less than small, entrepreneurial ones, even though their scale and resources arguably mean they are able to produce products more safely, efficiently and sustainably than their smaller, sexier, counterparts, according to new research.

Feds Take Enforcement Action Against Unlawful Supplement Manufacturers

 The US Justice Department along with other Federal Departments announced that they are filing cases against a number of supplement manufacturers that "make health or disease treatment claims that are unsupported by adequate scientific evidence".  

It is about time.  There are too many of these modern day snake oil salesmen who are taking advantage of people's wanting to find that secret cure / silver bullet answer to their medical woes.  Not only are claims false, but in some cases, these drugs can be dangerous.

If you had to bet, there are more out there.  While these are probably the worst of the worst, others will continue to sell products that provide little or no benefit to consumers.

Department of Justice - News Release
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Justice Department and Federal Partners Announce Enforcement Actions of Dietary Supplement Cases
Criminal Charges Brought against Bestselling Supplement Manufacturer
As part of a nationwide sweep, the Department of Justice and its federal partners have pursued civil and criminal cases against more than 100 makers and marketers of dietary supplements. The actions discussed today resulted from a year-long effort, beginning in November 2014, to focus enforcement resources in an area of the dietary supplement market that is causing increasing concern among health officials nationwide. In each case, the department or one of its federal partners allege the sale of supplements that contain ingredients other than those listed on the product label or the sale of products that make health or disease treatment claims that are unsupported by adequate scientific evidence.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Frozen Bagged Chicken Wings Recalled Due to Off Odor

Tyson is recalling  approximately 52,000 lbs because of consumer complaints they received about an off odor.  This covers two day codes - Sell by October 24, 2016 and October 25, 2016.  There have been no illnesses reported.

USDA News Release
Tyson Foods Inc. Recalls Chicken Product Due To Possible Adulteration
Class II Recall 141-2015
Health Risk: Low Nov 17, 2015
Congressional and Public Affairs  Gabrielle N. Johnston   (202) 720-9113 

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2015 – Tyson Foods Inc., a Pine Bluff, Ark. establishment, is recalling approximately 52,486 pounds of chicken wing product that may be adulterated because of having an “off odor” scent, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.