Monday, July 20, 2015

Study - Pesticide Levels on Produce Well Below Level for Health Concern

In a recently published study in the Journal of Food Contamination, a UCDavis researcher found that pesticide levels in foods are far below the level of concern for the period 2004 - 2005.  2240 food items were evaluated and that "All estimated exposures to the 77 pesticides were well below the chronic reference dose (RfD) – the EPA’s estimate of the maximum amount of a substance that a person could be exposed to daily without risk of harm over a lifetime".

Takeaways - You can't use pesticides as a reason to avoid eating fruits and vegetables.  The health benefit far outweighs any risk. 
- The primary reason people buy organic produce is pesticides.  Based on this data, is the added cost of organic justified?

Consumer exposure to pesticide residue far below levels of health concern
Posted on July 16, 2015 by admin

A new study published in International Journal of Food Contamination shows that pesticide levels in food are far below levels that would warrant health concern.

The author of the study, Dr. Carl K. Winter of the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of California – Davis, used FDA data on pesticide residue findings collected between 2004 and 2005 on 2,240 food items. A total of 77 pesticides were detected in the samples. (Dr. Winter is a member of ACSH’s Scientific Advisory Panel).

All estimated exposures to the 77 pesticides were well below the chronic reference dose (RfD) – the EPA’s estimate of the maximum amount of a substance that a person could be exposed to daily without risk of harm over a lifetime. As Ross Pomeroy at Real Clear Science notes, “These doses are extremely conservative, often inflated by two orders of magnitude to ensure consumer safety.”

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Small Food Establishment Forced to Recall Improperly Processed Products

A small Washington establishment is recalling canned pickles and sauces after it was determined that the pH was too high.  The company was selling their product at fruit stands and small shops.

This is an example of the type of issue small businesses can run into when getting into producing foods when they do not know what they are doing.  Too many people want to make these type of products to sell at Farmers' Markets and roadside stands, but do not understand the importance of following the proper procedures for processing.  In this case, they had to recall product.  Worse, they could have made someone ill or worse.  Either way, issues like this can become a financial catastrophe for the establishment.

Penn State has begun a new training program to specifically address this need.  In Farmers' Market Food Safety Workshops, guidance is provided.  But this training opens the door to other training that is more specific to the operation and type of products being made.

FDA Recall Notice
Homemade recalls Pickles and Sauces because of possible health risk
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Juy 14, 2015 — Leavenworth, WA — Homemade of Leavenworth, Washington is recalling pickle and sauce products because they may have been improperly produced. Washington State Department of Agriculture routine sampling discovered that a bottle of Homemade Bread and Butter Pickles had a pH level high enough to allow the growth of Clostridium botulinum. Required records were not available to support that safe processing guidelines were followed on all sauce and pickle products produced at Homemade.

Home Canning Season is Here, A Q&A with Martha Zepp, Home Food Preservation Guru

Home canning season is here and Martha Zepp, our expert home canner, is here to provide advice.  There are few, if any, who can match her hands-on expertise. 

Lancaster Online
Q&A: Food safety expert helps home cooks preserve produce properly Martha Zepp, a consultant to Penn State's local Extension office, offers advice on canning produce
Posted: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 11:39 am | Updated: 11:39 am, Wed Jul 15, 2015.

Q&A: Food safety expert helps home cooks preserve produce properly By MARY ELLEN WRIGHT | Staff Writer LancasterOnline

Home canning — processing food for storage in glass jars — is a great way to keep a bit of summer on your shelf year-round by preserving fresh Lancaster County produce. But canning must be done safely.

That’s where Martha Zepp, an expert in food preservation safety, comes in.

As a consultant to the local Penn State Extension office at the Farm & Home Center, Zepp is available to answer your food safety and food preservation questions most Wednesdays (her day in the extension office). She also gives demonstration workshops on home canning and goes to canning-equipment stores around the county to test the dial gauges of people’s pressure canners to be sure they’re in proper working order.

Capturing summer in a jar: Home canning season in full swing here

She does all these things so home cooks can preserve food without accidentally encouraging the growth of botulism or other organisms that could make them sick.

We asked Zepp these questions about safety in home canning.

Another Company Recalls Raw Breaded Chicken Products due to Salmonella

 Aspen Foods is recalling 2 million pounds of raw, stuffed breaded chicken products due to a link to a cluster of Salmonella infections.  This is addition to the product being recalled by Barber Foods.

 Like the Barber Foods recall, the product is raw battered, stuffed chicken products.  It includes chicken cordon bleu and chicken kiev products.  The spreadsheet accessed through the USDA announcement, has over 2000 entries for lots/brand /sizes.

USDA News Release
Aspen Foods Recalls Frozen, Raw, Stuffed & Breaded Chicken Products Due to Possible Salmonella Enteritidis Contamination
Class I Recall 101-2015
Health Risk: High Jul 15, 2015
Congressional and Public Affairs  Gabrielle N. Johnston  (202) 720-9113

WASHINGTON, July 15, 2015 – Aspen Foods, A Division of Koch Poultry Company, a Chicago, Ill. establishment, is recalling approximately 1,978,680 pounds of frozen, raw, stuffed and breaded chicken product that may be contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The frozen, raw, stuffed and breaded chicken items were produced between April 15, 2015 and July 10, 2015 with “best if used by” dates between July 14, 2016 and October 10, 2016. To view a full list of recalled products, please click here (XLS). [View Labels]

Breaded Chicken Nuggets Recalled Due to Presence of Staph Enterotoxin

A PA company is recalling chicken nuggets after the CO Dept of Ag found that a sample of the product was positive for Staphylococcus enterotoxin.  There have not yet been any illnesses reported.

Staphylococcus growth and toxin formation is an issue in breaded/battered product. The main issue is with the hydrated batter before it goes onto the chicken.  In this scenario, the organism grows in the batter when the batter is not held at the proper temperatures.  When the organism reaches sufficient numbers, toxin is produced in the batter and then that toxin ends up on the food, in this case chicken piece, during the battering process.  In a typical batter operation, once the chicken is battered/breaded, then it is partially fried (par-fried) to set the coating.  This heat application (dipping in hot oil) kills the Staphylococcus organism, but does not destroy the toxin since the toxin is heat stable..

To prevent this, proper temperature control of the batter is needed.  FDA has recommended batter handling instructions (
Another possible scenario is that that the chicken nugget product, once fried, is not cooled properly and the organism grows on the temperature abused nuggets.

Staphylococcus enterotoxin is fast acting, causing severe vomiting in an hour to 6 hours after consumption. The symptoms will last a day or so.  When it is a batter contamination issue as described above, there would be no indication to the consumer that the product was contaminated, and no prevention.  Again, cooking by the consumer would not destroy the toxin.

USDA News Release
Murry’s, Inc., Recalls Chicken Products Due to Staphylococcal Enterotoxin Contamination
Class I Recall 100-2015
Health Risk: High Jul 15, 2015

Congressional and Public Affairs  Whitney Joy  (202) 720-9113

WASHINGTON, July 15, 2015 – Murry’s, Inc., a Lebanon, Pa. establishment, is recalling approximately 20,232 pounds of gluten-free breaded chicken nugget product that tested positive for Staphylococcal enterotoxin, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Barber Foods Expands Recall of Chicken Kiev After Additional Illnesses Reported

Barber Foods is expanding its recall of frozen Chicken Kiev after 2 more cases of salmonellosis were reported.  The initial recall was for 58320 lbs.  This recall is for 1.7 million lbs.

While this is raw chicken and there are cooking instruction on the box,  but stated in the notice, "Some case-patients reported following the cooking instructions on the label and using a food thermometer to confirm that the recommended temperature was achieved. Therefore, FSIS advises all consumers to treat these products like a raw chicken product."

USDA News Release
Barber Foods Recalls Stuffed Chicken Products Due To Possible Salmonella Enteritidis Contamination
Class I Recall 096-2015
Health Risk: High Jul 12, 2015

Congressional and Public Affairs Gabrielle N. Johnston (202) 720-9113

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2015 – Barber Foods, a Portland, Maine establishment, is recalling approximately 1,707,494 pounds of frozen, raw stuffed chicken products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The chicken products were produced between February 17, 2015 and May 20, 2015. To view a full list of products recalled as part of this expansion, please click here (XLS). [View Labels]

Since the original recall on July 2, 2015, two more case-patients have been identified. The scope of this recall expansion now includes all products associated with contaminated source material.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Food Safety Update for July 10, 2015

Avian Influenza Outbreak in birds has come to a halt with no new cases reported since June 17th.  It has been one of the most devastating outbreaks of bird flue with approximately 48 million birds affected.  According to reports, there is a lot of room for improvement in responding to such a serious outbreak.
In Texas, there are an increased number of illnesses due to the parasite Cyclospspora.  There have been 151 cases reported.  (Story/link below).
In North Carolina, one restaurant has been linked to 267 cases of salmonellosis.  Bad BBQ.  (Story/Link below)
In a recent study, it was found that farmers should wait for 24 hours after a rainfall or irrigating before harvesting.  The research was based upon the presence of Listeria.