Friday, January 30, 2015

Ohio Firm Recalls Salami Due to Inadequate Cooling.

An Ohio firm is recalling salami products after it was determined that the cooling step in the process appears to have had a deviation in that the product was not cooled enough.  The hazard of concern in this case is Clostridium perfringens.    FSIS has requirements that must be met for cooling (also called stabilization) which are defined in Appendix B.

Clostridium perfringens is a sporeforming pathogen that can exist in soil, water, food, meat, spices and vegetables.  The spores are heat resistant and can survive cooking temperatures such as process for cooking processed meat products (Dvalue at 212F ranges from 0.7 min to 38.4 min). If present in the raw materials, the numbers are very low, if present at all.  It only becomes a risk if the cooked product is temperature abused where the number of organisms reach a high number.  It divides very fast in the 90F to 115F range (can be as fast as every 10 minutes or less).

The symptoms of the illness occur within 6 to 24 hours after eating the contaminated food and these symptoms include diarrhea and acute abdominal pain.  The illness occurs when the food contains large numbers of bacteria, that once consumed, sporulate in the intestines and thus releasing the toxin.  Toxin can also be preformed in the food.

In this case, the facility needs to cool the meat quickly after the cook step (as per requirements).  If cooling takes too long, then there is a C. perfringens risk.  Salami would be eaten without further cooking.

This facility operated under state jurisdiction but participated in the Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) program. Under CIS, state-inspected plants can operate like a federally-inspected facility by meeting specific conditions, and then ship their product in interstate commerce and internationally.

 FSIS Recall Notice
Ohio Firm Recalls Salami Products Due To Possible Temperature Abuse
Class I Recall 024-2015
Health Risk: High Jan 30, 2015
Congressional and Public Affairs Whitney Joy (202) 720-9113
WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2015 – Great Lakes Smoked Meats, a Lorain, Ohio establishment, is recalling approximately 2,863 pounds of smoked salami product, which may have experienced temperature abuse and may contain Clostridium perfringens, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

Friday, January 23, 2015

USDA Proposes Salmonella and Campylobacter Performance Standards for Poultry Parts and Ground Poultry

 USDA has proposed setting performance standards for poultry processors on raw ground poultry as well as raw poultry parts (breasts, legs, breasts and wings). A performance standard for pathogens is a level of positive samples a facility can have. USDA then tests product at the facility to see whether they are in compliance. This puts pressure on the facility to put measures in place to reduce the prevalence of pathogens thus having a positive impact on safety.

USDA performance standards are in place for whole poultry, but as with the Foster Farms outbreak, numbers can increase during further processing such as cutting into parts or grinding. And these products, ground and parts, represent a big proportion of the product people buy.

These performance standards will allow some level of Salmonella and Campylobacter to still be present, but in lowering the level there, the USDA hopes to reduce the number of illnesses that occur.  That being said, it still important the people handle chicken in a way to prevent cross contamination and cook it to eliminate pathogens that may be present.

USDA News Release
Release No. 0013.15
Contact: Office of Communications (202)720-4623
USDA Proposes New Measures to Reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in Poultry Products
New Standards Could Help Prevent an Estimated 50,000 Illnesses Annually

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21, 2015 -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today proposed new federal standards to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in ground chicken and turkey products as well as raw chicken breasts, legs and wings. Development of these new standards is a major step in FSIS' Salmonella Action Plan, launched in December 2013 to reduce Salmonella illnesses from meat and poultry products.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Food Warehouses - Get Ready for Some Scrutiny

Senator Chuck Schumar (D-NY) is pushing for increase regulatory attention to food warehouses due to reported unsanitary conditions in food warehouses, including rat nests, litter and other forms of untidiness.  Case in point was a warehouse in Pennsylvania, operated by a NY firm (FDA Warning Letter below), where they found rat nests, dead rats, rodent feces, and a number of other sanitary issues.

External warehouses, along with transporters (to be tackled by the transportation component of FSMA) are all part of the food chain, but have not received as much attention as the processing component - processing facilities and connected/internal warehouses.  For the food system to be safe, all components of that chain must utilize food safety practices.  Unfortunately, some of these ancillary services have not had the level of attention that they should have had.   One exception being where the warehouse had to meet 2nd party or 3rd party inspection requirements.

Think Progress
Senator Pressures FDA To Crack Down On ‘Disgusting’ Warehouses That Supply Our Food

by Sam P.K. Collins Posted on January 12, 2015 at 11:57 am Up

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cited squalid conditions in 90 warehouses, including a Chinese food distributor that the agency found to have rodent nests, carcasses, and feces littering in its warehouse during an inspection in December.

That’s why Sen. Chuck Schumer wants the regulatory agency to up the ante and crack down on food manufacturers that cannot maintain sanitary spaces for food production. He’s calling for more frequent inspections, higher fines, and the creation of an easily searchable food database for distributors and consumers.

Drink-up - EFSA Determines Up to 400mg/day Safe for Healthy Adult

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released its determination that 400 mg/day of caffeine is safe for the healthy adult.

According to the Caffeine, This is equivalent to about:
5.2  -  Shots of espresso
Two - 5 Hour Energy Shots
1  -  Starbucks Venti brewed coffee
2.5 -  16 fl.oz. Monster Energy Drinks
5 -  8 fl.oz. Red Bulls
11.7  - 12 fl.oz. Cokes

And according to that same website, my morning coffee from the Creamery, 20oz size is probably between 200 and 400mg.  Of the beverages, coffee and energy drinks have the highest level of caffeine (8oz of Red Bull would be slightly less than 8 oz of regular coffee).

According to a Penn State study, 85% of American consumer one caffeinated beverage per day with an average intact of 165 mg.   The group that had the highest intact of caffeine were in the 50-64 year drinkers.

IFT Weekly
 EFSA determines 400 mg/day of caffeine is safe

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published its long-awaited caffeine risk assessment. Previous studies on the safety of caffeine have been published by the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) in 1983, 1999, and 2003. In 2013, EFSA was asked to evaluate potential adverse health effects that may arise following consumption either alone or in combination with alcohol and/or other substances such as energy drinks.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Drug-laced Bread Sickens 40 in LA

A bread made in celebration of Three Kings Day was contaminated with synthetic cannabinoid, or synthetic pot.  It affected at least 40 people with the symptoms that included heart palpitations, dizziness, numbness and hallucinations. 

This specific chemical, JWH-122, was developed for research and would be illegal to have, but other forms of synthetic pot, known as Spice or K2, can be purchased legally.

Police continue to investigate how the chemical got into the food, most likely a case of intentional contamination.

Orange County Register
Testing: Three Kings Day bread laced with 'substantial' amount of synthetic pot
Jan. 13, 2015    Updated Jan. 14, 2015 9:56 p.m.

A holiday sweet bread that caused dozens in Orange County to become ill might have been deliberately laced with a synthetic drug that mimics the active ingredient in marijuana, the president of a Santa Ana-based lab said Tuesday.

Neil Spingarn, a pharmacologist who heads up S&N Laboratories, tested a sample of the Three Kings Day bread and found it contaminated with “a substantial” amount of a synthetic cannabinoid – an artificial THC with intensified effects. THC is the main chemical ingredient in marijuana.

“The levels in the cake are not small.” Spingarn said. “What is most striking is that this was not inadvertent.”

Shigella Outbreak in American Samoa, 2014 - CDC MMWR

Shigella is one of the reportable illnesses according to the US Food Code.  In this CDC MMWR Report, it can be seen why when you consider so many children became infected in such a short period of time.

In this outbreak, some 280 cases of severe diarrhea (and in some cases bloody diarrhea), primarily among young children, were seen on this US Territorial Island.  Investigators felt that most of the cases were due to person-to-person contact [although it can be transferred via ready-to-eat foods when the foods are handled by an infected handler.]
Notes from the Field: Outbreak of Diarrheal Illness Caused by Shigella flexneri — American Samoa, May–June 2014
January 16, 2015 / 64(01);30-30
Julia E. Painter, PhD1,2, Allison Taylor Walker, PhD1,2, Jarratt Pytell2, Motusa Tuileama Nua3, Siitia Soliai-Lemusu3, Eric Mintz, MD2, Ibne Ali, PhD2, Michele Parsons, MS2, Haley Martin2, Michael Beach, PhD2, Anna Bowen, MD2, Jennifer Cope, MD2 (Author affiliations at end of text)
On May 9, 2014, a physician at hospital A in American Samoa noticed an abnormally high number of children presenting to the emergency department with bloody diarrhea. Based on preliminary testing of stool specimens, Entamoeba histolytica infection was suspected as a possible cause. Shigella was also suspected in a subset of samples. On May 22, the American Samoa Department of Health requested assistance from CDC with the outbreak investigation. The goals of the investigation were to establish the presence of an outbreak, characterize its epidemiology and etiology, and recommend control measures. The CDC field team reviewed the emergency department log book for cases of diarrheal illness during April 15–June 13, 2014. During this period, 280 cases of diarrheal illness were recorded, with a peak occurring on May 10. Twice as many cases occurred during this period in 2014 compared with the same period in 2011, the most recent year for which comparable surveillance data were available. Cases were widely distributed across the island. The highest number of cases occurred in children aged 0–9 years. Across age groups, cases were similarly distributed among males and females. These patterns are not consistent with the epidemiology of disease caused by E. histolytica, which tends to cause more cases in males of all ages.

Trichinellosis Surveillance in the United States, 2008 - 2012 - Summary of CDC Report

CDC issued a surveillance report on cases of Trichinellosis.  This is a quick summary.
Trichinellosis is a parasitic disease caused by Trichinella, a nematode. It had been traditionally associated with undercooked pork, but more recently it is more associated with wild game.  [Prior to improvements in pig husbandry in 1940's and 1950's, it was estimated that over 15% of people in the US had been infected by Trichinella.]
From the report:
"Trichinella infection in human hosts can be divided into an intestinal (enteral) phase and a muscular (parenteral) phase, with clinical manifestations ranging from asymptomatic infection to fatal disease, depending on the number of larvae ingested. After ingestion, larvae are released into the intestinal mucosa and subsequently migrate to the blood vessels, from which they spread throughout the body before reaching the skeletal muscles."

 During the initial phase, within the first few days of infection, symptoms can range from asymptomatic to severe gastrointestinal distress.  As the parasite migrates to the muscle and embeds itself, the person can have fever, muscle pain, and swelling.  Death can occur in cases where this is inflammation of the heart, brain, or lung tissue as well as due to respiratory failure from a high level of infection of encysted worms in the diaphragm muscle [it gets so many encysted worms that the muscle can't work...tell me that isn't a miserable way to buy the farm].
During the reporting period, 2008-2012, there were 84 confirmed cases.
  • 22 cases were linked with pork products, including 10 with commercial pork products, 6 with wild boar, and 1 with home-raised swine, and 5 unspecified.
  • 41 cases were linked to bear meat
  • 2 cases with deer meat
  • 2 with ground meat
  • 17 cases unknown
  • From 51 cases that were further investigated, 24 reported eating raw or undercooked meat [for the other cases, as we know, people hate to admit being stupid...who wants to admit eating bear tartare, or drinking the fresh blood of their hunted bear prey...yeah, you know that guy].
So the number of cases has continued to decline thanks to commercial pork practices and better cooking practices by the consumer, but vigilance is still needed, especially with wild game.  Consumers of pork and game must follow proper cooking or freezing methods to destroy the parasite.