Monday, March 27, 2017

Judge Issues a Consent Decree Against Milk Powder Producer

In December of 2016, FDA seized milk products from Valley Milk Products , a Virginia diary processor.  This past week, a Judge issued a consent decree of condemnation and permanent injunction against the company and three individuals - the General Manager, the Plant Manager, and the Quality Compliance officer.  Basically the product is bad and the company can not produce dry dairy products until they fixed specific issues.

It may be worth reading the Consent Decree here.  In fact, I suggest reading the Injunction Provisions starting on page 8, including the requirements for development and implementation of a Salmonella Monitoring Plan (F.1.) on page 10.   While there have been no reported illnesses, FDA found Salmonella is the facility and the facility did not appear to take sufficient action.   This can be seen as what is to come for FDA facilities with FSMA and the new tool of whole genome sequencing.

FDA Press Release
Food regulators seize adulterated milk products for food safety violations

UPDATE: On March 14, 2017, Judge Elizabeth K. Dillon of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia entered a consent decree of condemnation and permanent injunction against Valley Milk Products LLC (Strasburg, VA), and three individuals, General Manager Michael W. Curtis, Plant Manager Robert D. Schroeder, and Quality Control Compliance Officer Jennifer J. Funkhouser. The seized milk powder products have been condemned and forfeited to the United States. The company may attempt to bring the condemned products into compliance but only under the supervision of the FDA, and it may not resume manufacturing powdered milk products without first implementing corrective action. The action does not affect liquid milk products made by the company. More information can be found on (case number 5:16cv76). No illnesses have been reported to date associated with these products. Consumers can report problems with FDA-regulated products to their district office consumer complaint coordinator.

Microgreens Recalled for the Salmonella Contamination

A Kansas firm is recalling microgreens due to the potential for Salmonella.  The recall comes after examinations by FDA revealed the product contained Salmonella.

Microgreens are similar to bean sprouts in that seeds of various plants are grown from the seed and harvested after sprouting, however with microgreens, the immature greens are cut to include only the stem and leaves.  This is normally within a month of germination.   A variety of plants can be eaten this way and according to a microgreen website, "Some common varieties include amaranth, basil, beets, broccoli, cabbage, celery, chard, chervil, coriander/cilantro, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, parsley, peas, radish, rocket/arugula, spinach, and sorrel."  In this recall, it was Asian style microgreens.

This issue is that if Salmonella is present on the seeds, then it can grow along with the germinating seed.  It can be difficult to eliminate Salmonella from the seeds.  There was a similar recall in October of 2016.

FDA Recall Notice
Chlorofields Recalls Asian MIicrogreens Because Of Possible Health Risk
For Immediate Release
March 23, 2017

OK Firm Recalls Nearly 1 Million Pounds of Breaded Chicken for Metal Complaints - Linked to Conveyor

A OK establishment is recalling close to one million pounds of breaded chicken products for the potential of metal contamination.  According to the notice: "The problem was discovered on March 21, 2017 after OK Foods Inc. received five consumer complaints stating that metal objects were found in the ready-to-eat chicken products and by FSIS inspection personnel during verification activities. After an internal investigation, the firm identified the affected product and determined that the objects in all the complaints came from metal conveyor belting." 

It would be interesting to know if the firm had a metal detector in place.  With a breaded chicken product, one would expect to see one.

USDA Recall Notice
OK Food Inc. Recalls Breaded Chicken Products Due To Possible Foreign Matter Contamination
Class I Recall 030-2017
Health Risk: High 
Mar 23, 2017

Texas Establishment Recalls RTE Beef Products After Receiving Two Customer Complaints for Rubber with Plastic

A Texas establishment is recalling 35,158 lbs of frozen RTE beef taquito product after the company received two customer complaints for rubber with plastic.  From the report - "The problem was discovered when Ajinomoto Windsor, Inc. received two consumer complaints of foreign material in its ready-to-eat beef products on March 14, 2017 and March 21, 2017. The foreign materials were pieces of rubber with white plastic that originated from the establishments processing equipment."

USDA Recall Notice
Ajinomoto Windsor, Inc. Recalls Frozen Ready-To-Eat Beef Products Due To Possible Foreign Matter Contamination
Class II Recall 031-2017
Health Risk: Low 
Mar 24, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

Refrigerated Packages of Edamame for Sushi Recalled for Listeria

 A California company is recalling fresh refrigerated packages of edamame (soybeans) after the company tested and found Listeria.  The packed edamame was sold at designated retail sushi counters within grocery stores, cafeterias, and corporate dining centers in about 33 states.

AFC is a company that operates sushi counters via franchisees.  AFC provides the know-how and materials to allow a franchisee to operate a sales space in a grocery store.  So the grocery store can offer sushi without much effort.

One difficulty is what has occurred here...packaging and shipping fresh packaged foods across the country.  When many think of sushi, we think of it being made on the spot, not being pre-prepared thousands of miles away.  From a Listeria standpoint, a  contamination issue at the point of processing can have more time for growth during transport, and being sushi that will not be cooked, there will be no reduction step to get rid of the Listeria.

FDA Recall Notice
Advanced Fresh Concepts Franchise Corp. Voluntarily Recalls Edamame Due to Potential Health Risk
For Immediate Release
March 16, 2017

CDC Report on 2015 Salmonella Outbreak Associated with Truffle Oil

CDC issued a report on a 2015 outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis associated with a Washington DC restaurant.  There were 159 reported cases.  Truffle oil was the most likely source based on the epidemiological investigation, but the organism was not isolated from the oil itself.   "Six food items were significantly associated with case status (Table 2), three of which (beef carpaccio, truffle mushroom croquette, and truffle risotto) contained truffle oil. When all truffle oil–containing items were combined into a single variable, including the three that were individually significant, consumption of a truffle oil–containing item was reported by 89% of case-patients compared with 57% of control subjects (p<0.001)."

While this Salmonella strain is normally associated with poultry and eggs, it was unusual that truffle oil was the likely source.  And being a common pathogen, the report indicates that "Timely engagement of the public, health care providers, and local and federal public health officials, is particularly critical for early recognition of outbreaks involving common foodborne pathogens, such as Salmonella Enteritidis"  Basically, by really looking hard, investigators were able to determine that something different was going on, and in doing so, were able to determine the restaurant was involved.  At that point, they closed the establishment thus preventing additional cases that would have most definitely occurred.

As far as testing "Truffle fries sampled from the deep fryer and uncooked truffle mushroom croquettes were among the samples collected on September 10; a truffle oil sample was collected on September 14."  "DCPHL tested the truffle fries, which screened positive for Salmonella by using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), but Salmonella was not isolated during confirmatory testing. All other food and environmental samples were negative for Salmonella."

Another outbreak in the same restaurant chain indicated the issue may have originated in a NY commissary where the oil originated (but not sure if made there).  It seems the commissary had gone through purge and sanitize procedure, so nothing was found there when investigators inspected that operation.

So before we throw truffle oil on the list per se, there should be additional information as to where it was made.  This may be more of a commissary issue that a truffle issue.

Investigation of Salmonella Enteritidis Outbreak Associated with Truffle Oil — District of Columbia, 2015
Weekly / March 17, 2017 / 66(10);278–281

Frozen Pizza with Meat Recalled After Listeria Positive Test Results

A California establishment is recalling frozen, supreme-style pizza after the company's testing confirmed Listeria contamination.

While the product is frozen, which would prevent growth, and it has directions for cooking, which if done properly would eliminate the pathogen, one can never know how the product will be handled b the store and prepared by the consumer.  If similar to those sold here, they are sold refrigerated.

USDA News Release
News Release
RBR Meat Company, Inc. Recalls Frozen Pizza Product Due to Possible Listeria Contamination
Class I Recall 025-2017
Health Risk: High Mar 15, 2017

Trader Joe's Branded Burritos Recalled for Contamination by Hard Plastic Pieces

A NM company is recalling Trader Joe's branded frozen burrito products after 3 complaints of hard clear plastic.  One injury was reported.

USDA News Release
Flagship Food Group Recalls Frozen Burrito Product Due to Possible Foreign Matter Contamination
Class I Recall 026-2017
Health Risk: High Mar 16, 2017

Monday, March 13, 2017

NY Creamery Expands Recall, Product Linked to Illnesses. 2 Deaths

A NY creamery expanded its recall, posted on 3/7/16, as the CDC has linked the product to 6 cases of listeriosis.  There have been 2 deaths.

The product had national distribution, and with the window of time until the product was recalled, there may be additional cases that may be reported.

Listeria can be problematic in soft cheeses in that the product will support the growth of Listeria  We have seen a number of cases of listeria related to soft cheeses, so it is incumbent on those packing soft cheeses to have an aggressive Listeria control program. 
Harder cheese have a lower water activity and will not support the growth of Listeria.  While the risk is lower, the food plant-environmental pathogen still needs to be controlled.

FDA Recall Notice
Vulto Creamery Voluntarily Expands Their Recall of All Raw Milk Cheeses Because of Possible Listeria Monocytogenes Contamination
For Immediate Release
March 11, 2017