Friday, October 30, 2015

Apples Recalled Due to Positive Screen for One of Three Pathogens

A MN firm is recalling apples because a test indicates the presence of Listeria or Salmonella or E.coli.  So basically, they don't know which because who ever did the test ran a screen which looks for indicator genes for each of the three.

The recall was probably based upon a positive reaction of the test without the isolation of the actually pathogenic organism.  This is the problem with a screen - not sure which organism or it is just a false positive result.

FDA Recall Notice
Northstar Produce Inc. Recalls Granny Smith Size 175 Apples Because of Possible Health Risk

For Immediate Release  October 26, 2015

Contact Consumers Mike Abernathy 763-286-0110
Firm Press Release

Northstar Produce Inc.of St. Louis Park, MN the presence of Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, and / or Enterohemorrhagic E. coli. is recalling 33 cases of Granny Smith Size 175ct apples, because a test performed on a sample of the apples indicated the presence of Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, and / or Enterohemorrhagic E. coli.

Bagged Edamame Recalled Due to Allergen Labeling Deficiency...Contains Soy

Giant Foods is recalling frozen edamame because the allergen statement is not there...Contains Soy.   Of course edamame is soy, just the immature version still in the pods.  But some may not recognize this, and by regulation, the common name must be stated.

From the FDA Guidance Q&A document
Packaged foods that are made using soybeans as an ingredient or as a component of a multi-component ingredient (e.g., soy sauce or tofu) should continue to use the word "soybeans" as the appropriate common or usual name for this ingredient to identify properly the ingredient (e.g., "soy sauce (water, wheat, soybeans, salt)").

 Centre Daily Times
Giant announces edamame recall
By From CDT staff reports
October 30, 2015

Caution: soybeans contain soy.

A warning like this was left off some edamame, causing a Pennsylvania food chain to pull the product from shelves.

Giant Food Stores, LLC and Martin’s Food Markets announced Friday that it was removing Nature’s Promise Organic Edamame products because they contain soy, but it is not listed on the labels as containing the ingredient, which can cause problems for people with a specific allergy.

Man Sentenced to 51 Months for Sales Scam - Industrial Bleach as a Miracle Drink

A Washington man was sentenced to 51 months in prison for selling an industrial chemical as  Medical Miracle Solution, MMS.  The solution, as detailed by the authorities, was sodium chlorite.  According to reports, the directions had the consumer add citric acid to this which creates chlorine dioxide, a very strong oxidizing solution.  This type of mixture is used in a number of industrial applications including use as a sanitizing solution for food contact surfaces.  But not for direct consumption.  A number of people had reported becoming ill.

Peanut Butter Recalled Due to Potential Metal Pieces

Hormel is recalling 153 cases of 16.3 oz jars of Skippy Peanut Butter due to a potential for metal.  Metal pieces were found on an in-line magnet, which probably raised concern that some could have made its way to the jars. 

The interesting thing to note is that product was already shipped given that sufficient metal was found to raise concern.  Also 153 cases, about 3 pallets of product, would probably represent less than an hour of production.  These types of issues can arise for a number of reasons...just in time shipping where product is being shipped as it is made.   Another reason can be inadvertent shipping of product placed on hold because of fact there was an equipment malfunction where that product was placed 'on hold' because the malfunction resulted in metal pieces being generated as indicated by the in-line magnet. An indicator that this may have been the case is the production code / Best if Used By date...if this product had just been made, the code would probably be further out than next December.

FDA Recall Notice
Recall: Firm Press Release
Hormel Foods Sales LLC Voluntarily Recalls a Limited Number of Jars of Skippy Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter Spread Due to Possible Metal Pieces
For Immediate Release
October 29, 2015

Monday, October 26, 2015

Grocery Chain Recalls Deli Salad Items Due to Listeria Positive Samples

Whole Foods recalled various deli salads including chicken and pasta salad made at their central kitchen in Massachusetts.  Product was made on the 16th with a sell-by-date of the 23rd.
At the time of the recall, the product had already reached its expiration date.

A few things to note - the notice states that a sampling of the products tested positive which indicates more than one product.  Whether or not that is the case, they do have Listeria within the facility and there should be a question of whether it is under control.  Commissary operations may or may not do extensive testing for Listeria, mainly because the shelf-life is so short.  Since this product is one day beyond the Food Code limitation of 7 days (day one is the day product is made), there should be controls in place.  Also, since this is a dual jurisdiction plant (both FDA and USDA have oversight), from a USDA perspective of a facility with RTE product and post-lethality exposure, some testing should be taking place.

When Listeria is found on product, there is a high probability that it will still be in the environment unless there is a good explanation why contamination was limited to that day.  Hopefully before this facility restarts, they conduct ample cleaning and verification testing prior to starting production.

No illnesses have been reported...yet.  With Whole Genome Sequencing, further analysis of the LM found in the facility can now be matched against cases of Listeria infection that have occurred throughout the region.

USDA Recall Notice
Whole Foods Market Recalls Curry Chicken Salad Product Due To Possible Listeria Adulteration
Class I Recall 131-2015
Health Risk: High Oct 24, 2015

En EspaƱol
Congressional and Public Affairs  Julie Schwartz   (202) 720-9113

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2015 – A Whole Foods Market establishment located in Everett, Mass. is recalling approximately 234 pounds of curry chicken salad products that may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The chicken curry salad was packaged on Oct. 16, 2015, and was sold prepackaged, in salad bars, in store's chef's cases, and in sandwiches and wraps prepared in the stores. The following products are subject to recall: [Labels (PDF Only)]

Friday, October 23, 2015

Oregon Cannery Documentation Issue Leads to Cascading Recall

 Skipanon Brands, also known as the Oregon Ocean Seafood processing plant, issued a recall for their canned foods due to lack of documentation and possible under-processed products discovered during an FDA audit.  There were no reported illnesses.

The plant, identified on their own website as a micro-cannery, packed product for many other labels. The initial recall on October 9th caused a cascade of recalls by companies who used Skipanon as a co-packer to pack their branded product.
A few things to note"
A co-packer issue can impact a number of brands.  So it important to make sure the company co-packing product is compliant with standards, especially FDA Low Acid Canned Food Regulations.

With the first recall issued on the 9th, it took close to 2 weeks for companies to issue recalls.  Had there been illnesses, this delay could have had resulted in a much bigger disaster, especially if it had been a Clostridium botulinum issue.

The list of recalls follows:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

CDC Report - 2014 Case of Ciguatera Toxin in Florida After Consuming Naturally Contaminated Black Grouper

In a CDC report, in 2014, a Florida woman contracted ciguatera fish poisoning after eating black grouper in a restaurant.  Five additional cases were also reported, also associated with black grouper from the same international supplier.

About 7 hours after eating black grouper, the woman experienced acute onset of neurological symptoms including paradoxical temperature perception (burning sensation like dry ice), paresthesias (tingling or pricking or “pins and needles”, in the peripheral nerves), extremity numbness, a metallic taste, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, arthralgia, and myalgia.

Ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP), occurs when predatory reef-dwelling fish harboring ciguatoxins is ingested.  Ciguatoxin is stable to both freezing or cooking.   The naturally occurring toxin originates in several dinoflagellate (algae) species.  That toxin accumulates in the meat of preparatory reef fish as they eat smaller fish that have eaten the toxic algae.
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)
Use of Surveillance Systems in Detection of a Ciguatera Fish Poisoning Outbreak — Orange County, Florida, 2014
October 16, 2015 / 64(40);1142-4
Benjamin G. Klekamp, MSPH1; Dean Bodager, MPA2; Sarah D. Matthews, MPH1

California Restaurant Source of Shigella - Number of Cases Continues to Climb

UPDATE (10/23/15)- Within a few days, the number of Shigella cases linked to a California restaurant continues to climb.  Reports now have the number at 110 cases in 4 different California Counties.

A California restaurant is being held responsible for up to 80 people becoming infected with Shigella with about a dozen becoming hospitalized.  Because this is a highly contagious bacterial infection, a number of secondary infections are beginning to arise. (People who are contracting the disease from someone who ate at the restaurant).
Shigella causes severe diarrhea, sometimes bloody, as well as fever and abdominal pain. Symptoms will occur within a day or two after infection and will last 5 to 7 days.  It is highly infectious, only requiring less than 20 cells to cause infection.  It spreads through contact with food or person to person which can be problematic when someone has profuse diarrhea and does not wash their hands or washes their hand insufficiently. 
Glove usage handling ready-to-eat foods would help...but that is not a law in CA.  In 2014, California repealed the law requiring glove usage to prevent bare hand contact with ready-to-eat food.

Getting sick workers to stay home is another issue.  Many people will still go to work even if they are ill.
Rod-shaped, drug-resistant Shigella bacteria 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Bottles of Sparkling Beverage Recalled Due to Potential for Glass Fragments

Martinelli, a California bottler of sparkling fruit juice is recalling certain lots of Martinelli’s 8.4 oz. mini glass bottles of cider and sparkling grape juice due to the possibility of small glass chips at the top of the bottles occurring when opening the bottle, which could possibly enter the beverage and cut or injure the consumer.
The company discovered the issue through their own internal testing.

 FDA Notice - Recall: Firm Press Release
Notice of Voluntary Recall of Certain Martinelli's 8.4 oz. Sparkling Beverages Due to Potential for Glass Fragments

For Immediate Release
October 15, 2015

Contact Consumers  S. Martinelli & Company   1-800-662-1868

S. Martinelli & Company of Watsonville, California, today announced a voluntary nationwide recall of certain lots of Martinelli’s 8.4 oz. mini glass bottles of Gold Medal Sparkling Cider, Sparkling Cider Northwest Blend, Sparkling White Grape, and Sparkling Red Grape, due to the possibility of small glass chips at the top of the bottles occurring when opening the bottle, which could possibly enter the beverage. Consumers could potentially be cut or injured if a chip occurs.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fresh Whole Apples Recalled Due to Positive Listeria Test

Del Monte Fresh Produce is recalling apples for potential Listeria contamination after a customer tested fresh apples and found a sample to be positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria has not been an issue in whole fresh apples, and would be considered low risk. But caramel apples have been linked to an outbreak and sliced apples have been recalled due to the presence of Listeria.  In a recent study, Listeria was shown to grow only minimally on whole apples with caramel (no stick) and no growth when those caramel apples (no stick) were stored at refrigeration temperatures.  Even sliced apples shows minimal growth especially at refrigeration temperatures. 

FDA Notice - Recall: Firm Press Release
Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A. Inc., Recalls Limited Quantity of Fresh Apples Due to Possible Health Risk
For Immediate Release October 14, 2015

Contact  800-659-6500

Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc., (“Del Monte Fresh”) is initiating a voluntary recall of Granny Smith green apples because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stuffiness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Research Findings on Listeria Growth in Caramel Apples

The Listeria outbreak associated with caramel apples has raised questions regarding how the Listeria was able to grow in an acidic fruit.  Researchers have found that inserting the stick in the apple was an important factor as well as also storing at room temperature.  So when the stick is inserted, it drives the organism into the apple, and the stick causes cellular damage to the apple, creating conditions that allow the Listeria to grow sufficiently when stored at room temperature.

It would be wise for those selling caramel apples to store them at refrigeration temperature and limit the shelf-life to less than 28 days.

The other point made by the researchers in this study is the concept of microenvironments existing at interfaces in food, in this case, the interface of stick and the apple.  When inserted, the stick changes the apple matrix enough to allow Listeria to grow.  Normally, the apple pH would be too low to support the growth of Listeria.

It is easy to overlook microenvironments that exist in food.  They can arise in multicomponent foods with particulates, in foods at the packaging interface, or in foods that allow moisture migration to surface changing the moisture content.  The interaction at these interfaces can impact preventive factors such as pH,  water activity (Aw), or preservative concentration.
MBio - American Society of Microbiology
Growth of Listeria monocytogenes within a Caramel-Coated Apple Microenvironment
+ Author Affiliations
Food Research Institute, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Address correspondence to Kathleen Glass,
Editor Stefan H. E. Kaufmann, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology
A 2014 multistate listeriosis outbreak was linked to consumption of caramel-coated apples, an unexpected and previously unreported vehicle for Listeria monocytogenes. This outbreak was unanticipated because both the pH of apples (<4.0) and the water activity of the caramel coating (<0.80) are too low to support Listeria growth. In this study, Granny Smith apples were inoculated with approximately 4 log10 CFU of L. monocytogenes (a cocktail of serotype 4b strains associated with the outbreak) on each apple’s skin, stem, and calyx. Half of the apples had sticks inserted into the core, while the remaining apples were left intact. Apples were dipped into hot caramel and stored at either 7°C or 25°C for up to 11 or 28 days, respectively. Data revealed that apples with inserted sticks supported significantly more L. monocytogenes growth than apples without sticks under both storage conditions. Within 3 days at 25°C, L. monocytogenes populations increased >3 log10 in apples with sticks, whereas only a 1-log10 increase was observed even after 1 week for caramel-coated apples without sticks. When stored at 7°C, apples with sticks exhibited an approximately 1.5-log10 increase in L. monocytogenes levels at 28 days, whereas no growth was observed in apples without sticks. We infer that insertion of a stick into the apple accelerates the transfer of juice from the interior of the apple to its surface, creating a microenvironment at the apple-caramel interface where L. monocytogenes can rapidly grow to levels sufficient to cause disease when stored at room temperature.

Bags of Spinach Recalled Due to Sample Testing Positive for Salmonella

Dole Fresh Vegetables is recalling bags of Spinach after testing conducted by the Michigan Dept. of Ag detected a sample positive for Salmonella.  Only two lot codes - A27409B & A27409A, with an Enjoy By date of October 15 and UPC 7143000976, are being recalled.  There have been no reported illnesses.

 Dole Spinach

FDA Recall Notice
Dole Fresh Vegetables Announces Precautionary Recall of Limited Number of Spinach Salads

For Immediate Release
October 13, 2015

Contact Consumers   Bil Goldfield   (818) 874-4647
Consumer Response Center  (800) 356-3111
Firm Press Release

Dole Fresh Vegetables is voluntarily recalling a limited number of cases of bagged salad. The product being recalled is Dole Spinach coded A27409B & A27409A, with an Enjoy By date of October 15 and UPC 7143000976 due to a possible health risk from Salmonella. Dole Fresh Vegetables is coordinating closely with regulatory officials. No illnesses have been reported in association with the recall.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

CDC Announcement - October 15th is Global Handwashing Day

While many may scoff, or even mock, those federal officials for putting such effort into creating a 'day' for such a menial task as handwashing, perhaps this is an opportunity to remind all those who handle food of the importance of handwashing.  You may even want to go as far as having a handwashing retraining event....A Handwashing Celebration Extravaganza!


CDC News Release
Announcement: Global Handwashing Day — October 15, 2015
October 9, 2015 / 64(39);1124

October 15, 2015, marks the 8th annual Global Handwashing Day. This observance increases awareness and understanding of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent disease around the world.

Gluten Free Cheerios Recalled Due to Transportation Error that Caused Contamination

General Mills is recalling 1.8 million boxes of gluten-free Cheerios after FDA received 125 complaints from people having an adverse reaction, primarily gastrointestinal issues associated with celiac disease, an extremely painful disorder triggered by the ingestion of gluten.

According to the report - "The company said Monday the foul-up occurred when the Lodi plant lost rail service and its gluten-free flour was transferred from rail cars to trucks.....General Mills said oat flour was contaminated when bulk rail cars full of the stuff were offloaded into bulk trucks, Foster said. The bulk trucks were believed to recently have carried wheat, she said."
An incredible error for a product purchased specifically because it is supposed to contain no gluten.

It is important to see how a monumental error can occur when responding to a crisis. In this case, people worked around the loss of rail service only to contaminate product by not considering the gluten issue in the stopgap measure - off loading into uncleaned transport vehicles.

Untrained logistics/transportation people?  This is a reminder of ensuring that all people within the organization are trained in food safety - both general food safety as well as the food safety issues specific to the activities that with which they are tasked.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications

When people with celiac disease eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley), their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.

Star Tribune
FDA says it received 125 complaints about gluten-free Cheerios before recall
General Mills said it knows how the gluten got into its flour and has taken steps to prevent it.

Federal food regulators said Tuesday they have received 125 reports of adverse health effects — mostly gastrointestinal problems — from consumers who ate gluten-free Cheerios.

After hearing of such complaints, General Mills Inc. on Monday recalled 1.8 million boxes nationwide of gluten-free Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios, concluding they inadvertently contained wheat, which contains gluten.

Whole Foods Roquefort Cheese Recalled Due to Listeria Positive Sample

Whole Foods is recalling Papillon Organic Roquefort Cheese after FDA sampling found the whole uncut wheels of cheese positive for Salmonella.

Papillon is a brand of cheese made in France and imported into the US.

FDA Recall Notice
Whole Foods Market Voluntarily Recalls All Cut, Wrapped And Weighed Papillon Organic Roquefort Cheeses Because Of Possible Health Risk

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Is Quat Binding Making Your Sanitizer Ineffective?

Quat binding or quat absorption is a phenomena that occurs when storing cotton wash cloths in buckets of sanitizer strength quaternary ammonia, and the cotton material inactivates the quat to a point where it is not longer at the proper strength.  So while you think you are sanitizing a surface, you are essentially just wiping it with water.  Same thing can occur with mops or common rags.

Two solutions are to spray apply the sanitizer to the surface and then wipe.  Or you can use microfiber cloths that will have less of an inactivating effect.
What Is Quat Binding And Why It Must Be Prevented
 BY Becky Mollenkamp
Posted 6/25/15

The science behind quat binding and how it can be prevented

Quaternary ammonium chloride (quat) is an active ingredient in disinfectants that are used widely throughout the industry. These disinfectants are popular because of their effectiveness against germs, bacteria and viruses; their relatively low toxicity at proper dilution; low odors and; long shelf life.

When used properly, quat disinfectants can be very effective. But if used incorrectly, quat binding can occur, drastically reducing the cleaning efficacy.

Quat binding, also known as quat absorption, is still a relatively new and misunderstood issue in the jan/san industry. It is garnering more attention, however, because of its potential to negatively impact cleaning results. The phenomenon of quat binding occurs when the active ingredient (quaternary ammonium chloride) becomes attracted to and absorbed into fabrics. The science behind how this happens is simple: Quats are positively charged ions and cotton and other natural textiles are negatively charged; positive attracts negative.

Acidified Food Processor Cited for Improper pH Monitoring - FDA Warning Letter

A Warning Letter was issued by FDA to a acidified food processor for not verifying equilibrium pH.  (Equilibrium pH is measuring the pH after 24 hours to ensure that low acid components within the finished product are below 4.6 in order to prevent Clostridium botulinum growth).

Along with this, there was the lack of production and processing records showing adherence to scheduled processes, lack of a recall procedure, and they were not documenting the calibration of pH meter or the accuracy checks of thermometers and were using expired buffer solutions for pH meter calibration.  
There are many small processors who focus on acidified foods.  With FSMA, more of these processors will fall under FDA jurisdiction / regulations.

For someone looking for co-packing, it is critical to review a companies capabilities beyond what is on the website.  Looking at this company's website, you would think that these folks were operating correctly.  This includes looking at audit reports, and of course, any FDA warning notices.

FDA Warning Letters
Backwoods Food Mfg Co Inc 9/15/15
September 15, 2015

Danielle (NMI) Coursey, President, Co-Owner  Michael R. Coursey, Vice-President, Co-Owner
Backwoods Manufacturing, Inc
591 Main Parkway
Tahlequah, OK 74464

Dear. Ms. Coursey,

On March 24-26, 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted an inspection of your facility located at 591 Main Parkway, Tahlequah, OK, where you manufacture a variety of acidified foods. The inspection revealed serious violations of the regulations for acidified foods (Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 108, Emergency Permit Control (21 CFR Part 108) and Part 114, Acidified Foods (21 CFR Part 114)). Accordingly, we have determined that your acidified food products are adulterated within the meaning of Section 402(a)(4) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) [21 U.S.C. § 342(a)(4)], in that they have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health. You can find the Act and the Acidified Food regulations through link in FDA’s home page at

Number of Cucumber Related Salmonellosis Cases Rises

There have been an addition 61 cucumber linked cases of salmonellosis since the September 29 CDC outbreak update. This brings the total to 732 people.  With a relatively short shelf-life of 14 days, CDC anticipates that there should not be too many more, if any, additional cases.
It is surprising the lack of outrage in the media.  732 cases.  4 deaths.  Let's compare that to the Salmonella outbreak associated with Foster Farms raw chicken, a product that is supposed to be cooked.  In that outbreak , CDC reported that "a total of 634 persons infected with seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg were reported from 29 states and Puerto Rico from March 1, 2013 to July 11, 2014.  38% of ill persons were hospitalized, and no deaths were reported."   Have we become desensitized?  Or are there less deep pockets to access?
Certainly the scope is huge.  35 states.  This demonstrates the impact of one initial supply hub in moving product across the county. 
It also shows the inability to track an outbreak related to produce.  3 months is a long time for such a short shelf-life product.
  Epi Curve Multisate Salmonella outbreak for Imported Cucumbers - Poona
CDC Outbreak
Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Poona Infections Linked to Imported Cucumbers
Posted October 6, 2015 4:00 PM ET
What's New?
  • Since the last update on September 29, 2015, 61 more ill people have been reported from 24 states. Given the 14-day shelf life of cucumbers and the gap between when someone gets sick and when that illness is reported to public health, it is not unexpected to continue to see illnesses reported after the recalls.
  • A death has been reported from Oklahoma, bringing the total number of deaths to four.
  • Maryland was added to the list of states with ill people, bringing the total number of states to 35.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Another Brand of Raw Dog Food Recalled - Presence of Listeria and Salmonella

If products are made from raw meat, they can contain pathogens unless treated in a way to eliminate those pathogens.  While holding that product at cold temperatures helps prevent growth, it does not eliminate it. 

When someone is into the 3rd day of uncontrollable loss of bodily fluids, my guess is they won't really be trying to determine if that food made Barky's coat more shinny.

FDA Recall Notice
K-9 Kraving Dog Food Has Announced a Voluntary Recall of Their Chicken Patties Dog Food Shipped Between July 13th - July 17th, 2015 Because The Product May Be Contaminated With Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes
Contact:   Consumer:   1-800-675-1471

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 2, 2015 – Baltimore, MD – K-9 Kraving Dog Food has announced a voluntary recall of their Chicken Patties Dog Food shipped between July 13th - July 17th, 2015 because these products may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes. Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Question - Are Transportation Companies Preparing for Food Safety Requirement per FSMA

Are your transportation companies preparing for upcoming FSMA regulations?  The FSMA Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food was enacted to help maintain the safety of both human and animal food during transportation by establishing criteria, e.g., conditions and practices, training and record keeping, for the sanitary transportation of food.

According to the article in Bulk Transporter - probably not.  But they should begin.....getting an organization in the habit of executing food safety controls will take time.

A few highlights from the article:
  • Carriers must develop and implement procedures that describe how they will comply with provisions for temperature control and how they will provide this information to shippers and receivers.
  • Drivers will need to be trained on temperature management and reporting requirements, and temperature records for each shipment must be retained for one full year.
  • Food shippers must specify in writing to carriers the sanitary requirements for transport vehicles and temperature control systems for all shipments of “Time/Temperature Control for Safety Food” (TCS food).
  • Food receivers must carry out loading and unloading operations under conditions that will prevent TCS food from reaching unsafe temperatures.
  • Condensation inside a refrigerated or tank trailer may get more attention.
  • Carrier personnel must be trained.
So it would behoove you to ask the question of your logistical provider.

Bulk Transporter
Bulk food haulers need to prepare in advance for the FDA’s comprehensive food transport requirements
Oct 5, 2015 Charles Wilson | Bulk Transporter
NEW RULES covering food transportation and distribution will begin to take effect starting in June. However, there is growing concern that many food transporters still are not ready to deal with these new rules.
The lack of preparedness was a key point addressed during a panel discussion that took place during the 2015 Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky.

Company Issues Another Recall for Green Beans After Listeria Positive Sample is Detected

Cascadian Farms, an organic division of General Mills, is recalling frozen green beans after a product sample was found to be positive for Listeria.   This comes after Cascadian Farms issued a recall back in August for product produced in 2014 when that product was found to be positive for Listeria.

Proper cooking of the green beans by the consumer will eliminate the Listeria, but there is a concern that people will not follow cooking instructions.  There have been no illnesses associated with this product.

The most likely source of Listeria contamination is in the processing environment.  Generally, green beans are blanched by the processor before freezing.  This blanching would eliminate the organism.  however, Listeria is problematic in that it can establish itself within moist, cool processing environments such as those used to make green beans.  Facilities work to prevent Listeria contamination through following practices such as good sanitation, controlling movement in and out of more critical areas (post blanch - freezing - packaging), and then monitoring those areas.

Freezing the product does not allow the organism to grow, but freezing will not eliminate it.

Wall Street Journal Business
General Mills Recalls Another Batch of Green Beans Due to Listeria
Company says it found a pack of Cascadian Farm Cut green beans with listeria; it had seen another in August
By Josh Beckerman Oct. 2, 2015 3:47 p.m. ET

General Mills Inc. GIS 0.39 % is voluntarily recalling a small amount of frozen Cascadian Farm Cut Green Beans after a package tested positive for listeria, the second listeria-related recall for this brand of green bean this year.

The recall involves green beans produced on one day in June and is limited to 16-ounce bags with a “Better If Used By” date of 29JUNE2017.

General Mills said no related illnesses have been reported.

Breaded Chicken Product Recall Expanded Due to Salmonella Presence in Facility

Aspen Foods is expanding an recall for stuffed and breaded chicken products due to potential Salmonella contamination.  The initial recall issue in July was for close to 2 million pounds of product.  This recall is for product produced after the company had the first recall and was issued because USDA sampling found that the responsible strain of Salmonella was still in the facility.

Facilities with a Salmonella issue can find that once it becomes endemic within the facility, it can be very difficult to eliminate. 

This is not a ready-to-eat product, but one that appears to be one.  Thus the concern for Salmonella being present.

USDA Recall Notice
Aspen Foods Recalls Frozen, Raw, Stuffed & Breaded Chicken Products Due to Possible Salmonella Enteritidis Contamination
Class I Recall 101-2015 expansion
Health Risk: High Oct 2, 2015

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

EDITOR’S NOTE: This release is being reissued to expand the July 15, 2015 recall to include additional products. After further analysis, Aspen Foods chose to recall products in an effort to prevent additional illness. Details of this release were also updated to reflect a change in poundage and distribution area.

WASHINGTON, October 2, 2015 – Aspen Foods, a Chicago, Ill. establishment, is recalling approximately 561,000 pounds of frozen, raw, stuffed and breaded chicken products that appear to be ready-to-eat (RTE) and may be contaminated withSalmonella Enteritidis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Study - Removing Pathogens from Produce by Brushing or by Peeling

In this month's Journal of Food Protection, a research article looks at removing pathogens from the surface of produce by brushing and peeling.  Celery, carrots, honeydew and cantaloupes were inoculated with high does of pathogens, brushed and or peeled, and then analyzed.

In the end, it comes down to this  - if, as in this study, produce is heavily contaminated with pathogens, those pathogen can be difficult to remove with either brushing or peeling, especially once the brushes or peelers become contaminated.  But in reality, with very few exceptions where GAPs are not follow, pathogens are absent from produce.

A few of the findings:
  • "Pathogen removal (either E. coli O157:H7 or Salmonella) was significantly lower from contaminated cantaloupes than from other contaminated produce items".  Yeah, it's the rougher surface, so it is going to stick there.
  • "Both pathogens could still be detected on all produce items brushed with any of the three brush types suggest that contamination of the peeler is a likely route for transfer of pathogens from the surface to the internal tissues."  Once your cleaning tools encounter contamination, they can spread it. 
  • "The incidence of contamination for the nylon brush was significantly lower than that for the Sparta brush, which in turn was significantly lower than that for the scouring pad."  The harder to clean the brush or pad, the more that it can contaminate.
  • "To reduce risk further, consumers should be advised that brushing or peeling under running water may be beneficial for limiting contamination of the utensil and thus the risk of cross contamination to noncontaminated produce items subsequently processed with the same utensil."  Keep your brushes and peelers clean.
Carlisle 4054102 8 inch White Sparta Spectrum General Clean Up / Pot Scrub Brush
A Sparta Brush
Journal of Food Protection®, Number 9, September 2015, pp. 1624-1769, pp. 1624-1631(8)
Role of Brushes and Peelers in Removal of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella from Produce in Domestic Kitchens
Authors: Erickson, Marilyn C.1; Liao, Jean2; Cannon, Jennifer L.2; Ortega, Ynes R.2

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Using the Smartphone for Stealth Auditing

Is that person checking the score of the Steeler game....or I am getting audited? 

Penn State News
Phone app allows researchers to conduct concealed food safety observations
By Jeff Mulhollem
October 1, 2015
food safety app

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Smartphones are so ubiquitous, and text messaging and social media activities so common in public places, that no one questions what anyone does with their phone. That pervasiveness allows a phone application to be used in direct, concealed observations without alerting the people being observed.

That is the conclusion of food science researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, who studied whether phones could be used in place of the traditional clipboards to improve the quality of data collection related to food safety observations.

Two PCA Operational Managers Sentenced to Time in the Big House

Sentences were handed down for the two operational managers involved in the PCA Salmonella outbreak case.  Operations Manager Samuel Lightsey, 50, will serve three years in prison while Daniel Kilgore, 46, another ex-manager at the plant, will serve six.  Because they agreed to testify against the owner, Steward Parnell (who received a 28 years), their sentences were shorter as part of the plea bargain agreement.

Like the Quality Manager, these two operations managers who were probably just following orders, may have never considered the implications associated with positive Salmonella test results for the product.  Or the fact much of their product was destined for high risk individuals as part of thief foodservice sales.  Easy to justify since the owner didn't seem to was just another day of making and shipping product that may or may not have a little Salmonella.  In the end, it was a big deal.  And unfortunately for these pawns, they will be spending time in the big house. 

Think about of them picking up the phone and dialing the FDA about the positive results would have saved them, all the consumers who had gotten sick, and provided it was early on, would have limited impact to the owner and his company.  Or hell, if they had only put forth the effort to clean the damn plant to rid the source of contamination. 

USA Today
Lenient sentences for ex-officials in salmonella outbreak
Kevin McCoy, USA TODAY 2:50 p.m. EDT October 1, 2015

Two ex-officials of Peanut Corporation of America drew lenient sentences Thursday for their self-admitted roles in a salmonella outbreak blamed for killing nine and sickening hundreds.

Georgia U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands sentenced Samuel Lightsey, 50, a former operations manager at the peanut firm's Blakely, Ga. plant, to serve three years in prison. Daniel Kilgore, 46, another ex-manager at the plant, drew a six-year sentence from the judge.