Friday, April 29, 2016

Thriving in a Post-Chipotle World

In light of their food safety gaffs, the restaurant chain Chipotle is still struggle to recover.  In their first quarter report, sales are down 30% in same-store sales and their share price is down about 40%.

But where there is decline for one, others have thrived.  Panera sales have increased, with same-stores increase of 4.7%

Business Insider
PANERA PRESIDENT: 'We live in a post-Chipotle world'
Kate Taylor
Apr. 27, 2016, 10:57 AM

As Chipotle struggles, Panera is thriving.

FDA Inspection Report from Salad Facility Responsible for Listieria Outbreak

Earlier this year, bagged salads produced by Dole in their Ohio facility, were involved in a Listeria outbreak.  According to the CDC Final Report, issued March 31 2016, 19 people became infected and there was 1 death.  In Canada, the CFIA reported 14 cases  and 3 deaths, although stated that the deaths may or may not be related to Listeria monocytogenes (LM).

FDA conducted an investigation of the facility and during that investigation, completed environmental sampling.   A 483 report was issued, and thanks to the Marler Blog, that report was posted (a 2014 report was also included there, but was not included here).  In reviewing this 483 report, there were some important findings.   A summary of those below as well as reports.
(An FDA 483 Report 'lists observations made by the FDA representative(s) during the inspection of your facility. They are inspectional observations, and do not represent a final Agency determination regarding your compliance')

Failure to perform microbial testing where necessary to identify sanitation failures and possible food contamination.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cooked Poultry Products Recalled Because of Foreign Material

Pilgrim's Pride is recalling 4.5 million pounds of cooked chicken products, institutional or foodservice packs, due to the potential for foreign matter.  The issue was initially identified by customer complaints received by the company, and after notifying FSIS, FSIS then identified additional consumer complaint issues.  No injuries have been reported.

The recalled product has the EST. 20728 posted, indicating the product came out of their Waco TX processing facility.  The period of time is 18months from August of 2014 to March of 2015.

This is a surprising amount of product in a very large time frame to be included in a Class 1 recall, especially considering there were no injuries reported.  This is the expansion of the April 7th recall that focused on institutional packs of chicken nuggets.

USDA Recall Notice
Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. Recalls Poultry Products Due To Possible Foreign Matter Contamination
Class I Recall 027-2016 EXP
Health Risk: High Apr 26, 2016

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Tea Bags Recalled for Salmonella After Ingredient Tests Positive for Salmonella

 CVS Pharmacy is recalling tea bags after an ingredient produced by the manufacturer’s raw material supplier tested positive for Salmonella in another company’s product.

The tea, if prepared with boiling water, would eliminate the pathogen.   However, it is one of the reasons why drinking sun tea is not a good idea.

FDA Recall Notice
CVS Pharmacy Announces Voluntary Recall of Gold Emblem Abound Organic Spiced Herbal Tea Due to Possible Health Risk

Frozen Vegetables Recalled due to Positive Listeria Tests

 A Washington state firm is recalling frozen vegetables after a lot of IQF organic peas and a lot of IQF organic corn tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.  The testing was completed by Ohio state health officials.  There have been no injuries to report.

FDA Recall Notice
CRF Frozen Foods Recalls Frozen Vegetables Due to Possible Health Risk

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day - Reducing Food Waste and the Challenge for Food Safety

One of the challenges that will increasingly challenge food safety professionals is the increased pressure on becoming more sustainable, especially on reducing food waste.  As people are told to reduce their food waste, there will be more pressure to keep food longer than it should be, or to use food that may not be as good as it should be (trying to rescue decaying fruit for example).  Throw in the fact that there are more agricultural commodities coming from organic practices which can have higher rates of product deterioration.

Much of this will come down to improving our systems from farm to table.  Culling systems that can remove real spoilage issues at the farm and packing house.  Improved logistics to move product quickly and under the right conditions to the point of sale or processing.  An understanding by consumers of what is actually bad versus not pretty but okay to eat.  Planning by the consumer is another important control....that is, don't buy so much or make too much of something that you get to the spot when you have to decide if it is still good because of shelf-life.  We answer so many questions from people who are worried about a chicken dish they made days ago or a jar of pickles that is two months past the shelf-life.  The key is to manage what you have so you never get to that point.

Then there are some who insist that the issue is the shelf-life dates used by manufacturers.  Correct, these dates are mainly based on quality, not safety.  However, increasing the date could mean that you get a lower quality product.  Did you ever taste a shelf-stable juice product in a plastic container past the may be safe, but it tastes...well, it doesn't flavor.

USDA News Release
USDA Tips for Reducing Food Waste and Preventing Illness

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Small Firm Recalls Vegetable Soup Due to Improper Processing

A small Lancaster, PA firm is recalling jars of vegetable soup because it was determined they were not following regulations for processing this type of product.

Vegetable soup is normally a low acid product, (finished equilibrium pH greater than 4.6 and a water activity greater than 0.85).  To make this product, a manufacturer must follow the Low Acid Canned Food Regulations (LACF) which requires that a firm have an established process and that process is filed.  Generally, small firms are limited to canning high acid foods or acidified foods that have a pH of 4.6 or less.    
In this case, the product was close to the pH of 4.6 so perhaps their goal was having an acidified food where the acid portion, perhaps a tomato base and some added acid, was expected to reduce the pH below 4.6.  However, this was not being achieved.  Another important element is that it is the particulates in the soup that must also reach an equilibrium pH of less than 4.6....not just the broth.  (Hard to tell what was actually being measured from the report).

It is important for small firms to understand canning regulations.  This is not the first instance of a company producing low acid foods - whether they did not know the regulations, or the process they used did not achieve the pH they wanted.  This can be an issue with small firms who want to make products for sale at farmers' markets.

FDA Recall Notice
Mary's Home Canning Recalls Mary's Home Made Vegetable Soup Because of Possible Health Risk
For Immediate Release
April 15, 2016