Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Potential Salmonella Contamination of Carob Powder Ingredient Results in Numerous Recalls

A series of recalls were issued when a supplier of organic carob powder notified its customers.  The supplier, Ciranda Inc, has no information on the Salmonella issue on its website, but the ingredient they sold resulted in a number of recalls nationwide.  There have been no illnesses.

The Plain Dealer
Salmonella in carob triggers recall of snacks nationwidehttp://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2014/07/salmonella_in_carob_triggers_r.html
By Brie Zeltner, The Plain Dealer The Plain Dealer
on July 29, 2014 at 12:36 PM

CLEVELAND, Ohio-- A recall of organic carob powder that began last week due to salmonella contamination has expanded to include several brands of energy bars and snacks sold nationwide, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Five Things You Should Know About Food Safety on the Tavis Smiley Show

A light discussion on Food Safety with Tavis Smiley of The Tavis Smiley Show on PRI.
Five Things You Should Know About Food Safety.

Bread Company Retracts Recall After Negative Confirmation for Listeria monocytogenes

A Ohio bread company cancelled a recall after discovering that the Listeria organism they found was not the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes.

Why were they doing Listeria testing in the first place?  Listeria has not been shown to be a hazard in bread products.  The water activity is too low to support growth and the environment is not one that would be conducive to allow the organism to be a big concern.  Salmonella would be a better choice if you really wanted to do environmental testing.

Perhaps a customer requirement where the bread products would be used in premade sandwiches?  Or it was part of a third party audit requirement where some less-than-knowledgeable inspector told then they had to do Listeria testing.  (The latter would be a more likely case....always question auditors when they require you to do something that does not make sense). 

Why did they conduct a recall based on environmental testing results that were not confirmed?  This is another question that is difficult to figure out.  Before you begin testing for a pathogen in the environment, know the implications of what you will do when you find it.   First there is timing - in cases there a positive result can trigger a recall, be sure to use rapid tests that have a higher degree of differentiation.  Second - a program should be set up so that you are not just testing product contact surfaces (which is probably the only time where an environmental positive sample warrants a recall).  So were they testing product contact surfaces or plant surfaces? 

It seems the company had not put sufficient thought into the various scenarios that can occur when a positive is found.  Again, the company may have been doing this to comply with some audit requirement, rather than really understanding the real risks associated with their operation and the implications of positive test results.

It is also equally important to understand your supplier's testing programs.  If your supplier is doing testing, it is important that you know that they know what they are doing is correct.

Columbus Dispatch
Schwebel’s says recalled bread poses no health risk

By Lisa Abraham The Columbus Dispatch • Thursday July 24, 2014 2:35 AM 

With tests having determined that the bacteria found at Schwebel Baking Co.’s Youngstown bakery is not harmful, the plant is expected to resume full production today.

Monday, July 21, 2014

US Companies Facing Difficulties in China After Supply Chain Issues

It is not easy for US food companies to establish operations in China, as YUM and McDonalds found out. Both companies encountered issues two years ago when a chicken supplier was found to be using antibiotics. Both were sent reeling again as a meat provider was exposed for carrying out some unsanitary practices including "workers picking up meat from a factory floor, as well as mixing meat beyond its expiration date with fresh meat".

It is puzzling that the US companies catch such heat when it is the Chinese supply chains that cause them such issues.  Granted, companies need to secure their supply chains to ensure that upstream suppliers are following strict controls, however, one would thing that these suppliers are also providing other Chinese based companies their supplies as well.

Yum, McDonald's apologize as new China food scandal brews
By Adam Jourdan

SHANGHAI Mon Jul 21, 2014 5:55am EDT

Reuters) - McDonald's Corp and Yum Brands Inc are facing a new food safety scare in China, denting the fast food giants' efforts to shore up reputations and businesses that were hurt by a 2012 safety scandal in one of their biggest markets.

McDonald's and KFC-parent Yum apologized to customers on Monday after Chinese regulators shut a local meat supplier following a TV report that showed workers picking up meat from a factory floor, as well as mixing meat beyond its expiration date with fresh meat. The firms said they'll stop using the supplier.

Stone Fruit Recalled by CA Packer Due to Positive Listeria Results, Bakery Products Also Recalled

A California packing house is recalling various stone fruit (whole peaches (white and yellow), nectarines (white and yellow), plums and pluots) packed between June 1, 2014 through July 12,2014 after internal testing found positive Listeria results.  There have been no reported illnesses.

Wegman's then recalled bakery products that were made from the fruit.

Both companies acted out of an abundance of caution.  Research published in the Journal of Food Protection (abstract below) shows that Listeria, while it can attach to the exterior surface, does not grow, let alone survive.  The only issue would be if the contamination at the source allowed a high level of the organism to attach, which would be, according to the  publication "it is unrealistic to assume that such artificially high levels of contamination would occur when basic good agricultural practices are followed."

In terms of the bakery products, baking would eliminate the pathogens.  It would only be a concern if the fruit was added to the bakery items after cooking in a 'fresh application'.  Even then, the fruit would be washed and peeled, and that process would serve as a reduction step.

FDA News Release
 Recall -- Firm Press Release
FDA posts press releases and other notices of recalls and market withdrawals from the firms involved as a service to consumers, the media, and other interested parties. FDA does not endorse either the product or the company.

Wawona Packing Co. Takes Precautionary Step of Voluntarily Recalling Fresh, Whole Peaches, Plums, Nectarines, and Pluots Because of Possible Health Risk

Contact: Consumer: 1-888-232-9912
Media: Amy Philpott 703-472-6615

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - July 19, 2014 - Wawona Packing Company of Cutler, Calif is voluntarily recalling certain lots of whole peaches (white and yellow), nectarines (white and yellow), plums and pluots packed between June 1, 2014 through July 12,2014 due to the potential of the products being contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Wawona Packing has notified retailers of the specific lots being recalled. No other products are impacted by this recall. No illnesses have been linked to this recall to date.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Eggs from Free Range Chickens - No Sunny Side Up

It is the scene from Rocky....he is preparing for the big fight, and he starts his day by knocking back a half dozen raw eggs in a glass.   Well, hopefully those where conventionally produced eggs and not eggs from free range chickens.

In a study published in Food Control, chicks were separated after hatch...some went to live the life on the open range while the other half were stuck in conventional cages.  And as you might predict, the eggs from free range chickens had higher levels of Salmonella (2.6% vs 0 for conventional) and Campylobacter (26.1% versus 7.6% for conventional).  This is because free range chickens are more apt to come into contact with biological contaminants and pass those contaminates to the eggs.  (Additionally, conventional eggs are washed with a high pH solution, which would further reduce the level of contamination.)

This is not a beat down on Free Range eggs, but people need to recognize the higher risk for eggs from free range chickens, which are often purchased at farmers's markets, farm stands, and such.  If buying eggs that are not conventionally produced, you can reduce the risk of illness by properly cooking (over hard or scrambled) and proper handling the eggs.

Food Control 
Volume 47, January 2015, Pages 161–165
Microbiological contamination of shell eggs produced in conventional and free-range housing systemsM.A. Parisia, J.K. Northcutta, , , D.P. Smithb, E.L. Steinberga, P.L. Dawsona

Implementing a Preventive Maintenance Program (PMP)

I thought this was a great article on implementing a preventive maintenance program. A lot of small processors are tasked with implementing a preventive maintenance program in order to pass a third party audit.  They go out and buy some fancy software and then begin the arduous task of implementing it.  But they soon realize that it is overly burdensome and that their overall operations costs have increased because of higher costs of managing the program are not being offset by improvements in efficiency.  Instead of the PM program working for them, they are working for the PM program.

Sometimes a simpler approach is needed.  Figure out the most important assets and focus your efforts on them.  Don't over maintain, but understand what is going to improve overall performance of you operation taking all costs, including energy, into account.

4 Things to Know Before Implementing a Predictive Maintenance Program
7/15/2014 9:02:00 AM
It is not a commonly drawn linkage, but the correlation between how we manage our assets and overall sustainability metrics could not be clearer.

However, it's one thing to want a predictive maintenance model, and quite another thing to actually implement it in a manufacturing environment. At times it can seem overwhelming. We have so much data to draw on, and between the rise of Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT), it can be overwhelming to consider how to achieve true predictive maintenance, above and beyond the preventive maintenance we widely practice.

With that, let's look at four key things we can do as we strive to implement a predictive maintenance approach across our organization, and at the same timein the spirit of our previous messageconsider how these ideas correlate to overall sustainability performance.