Thursday, August 17, 2017

Canada - Norovirus in Raspberry Mousse Cake

In Canada,  a norovirus outbreak associated with Raspberry Mousse cakes has been reported.  The suspect product had been shipped throughout Canada.  There is not much more information available including how the product came to be contaminated.

While the raw materials may have been contaminated, it seems much more likely that this situation is the result of a norovirus-infected employee handling the finished product.  People who become infected with norovirus illness can develop symptoms as fast as 12 hours after exposure and those symptoms can last 24 hours or longer.  These symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramps. As they shed the virus through either portal, (and even after they are feeling better), the virus can get on hands or other surfaces, where it can makes its way to the food.   On surfaces, it can last for weeks, unless that surface is properly cleaned.  This is why it is critical to have sick employees (especially those who are vomiting, have diarrhea or jaundice), stay away from food.

CFIA Release
Updated Food Recall Warning - Raspberry mousse cakes recalled due to norovirus 
Recall date: August 16, 2017 
Reason for recall:  Microbiological - Other Hazard classification:
Class 3 Company / Firm:
Industry Distribution:
Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Possibly National, Quebec, Saskatchewan Extent of the distribution:

FDA Guidance on Seafood HACCP and FSMA

FDA issued guidance for seafood firms on the requirements that need to be followed with regard to FSMA.  This guidance, Seafood HACCP and the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act: Guidance for Industry, basically say that seafood firms can use their HACCP plans as required in 21CFR123 and do not have to comply with the new Preventive Control requirements (part C and G) of the new regulation (21CFR117).  Parts A and B (GMPs) do apply with one specific requirement for training of employees and managment (for them to become 'qualified').

A NM Bakery Issued a Warning Letter - Issues with Sanitation and Lack of Management Training

A New Mexico bakery was issued a warning letter from the FDA.  Most of the issues cited involved basic sanitation, and they were issues that were also noted in a 2014 inspection...thus the issuance of the Warning Letter.  To look at the facility from Google Street view (below), it looks like a legit operation (compared to this)

Many bakeries may be new to FDA inspections, although it was noted that this firm had a previous FDA inspection in 2014 (and unfortunately, didn't make much progress from that time...or so it seems).  But one of the items that is most interesting involves training, or the lack of training, specifically of management (see further down).

  • Unsanitary condition noted on 1) walls, overhead door, and cooling fan in areas used to cool baked bread., 2) condenser fans and support pole in walk-in refrigerator used to store uncovered apple pies, and 3)  3-Compartment sink used to clean in process equipment.
  • Peeling paint in the incoming supply room above ingredient containers which had broken lids, no lids, lids not fully covering materials. Additionally, peeling paint was observed on the ceiling of the walk-in refrigerator used to store uncovered apple pies.  
  • Fresh and dried dough on the ceiling above an uncovered mixer and along the rim of the (b)(4) bucket. (b)(4) is used as a processing aid in the production. 
  • Condensation issues  with buildup inside the proofing  along the ceiling, sides of walls, and along the door frame. As the uncovered dough enters the  proofing (b)(4), condensation drips directly onto uncovered dough.  Dark brown condensation buildup was observed in the production area on the ceiling above the proofing  and the final bread rolling area.  Condensation buildup was observed in the walk-in freezer fans located above finished product.
  • Inadequate screening or other protection against pests - the outer door and warehouse garage doors were open during food production activities without adequate protection to prevent entry of pests into the production facility.
  • The procedure used for cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and utensils has not been shown to provide adequate cleaning and sanitizing treatment - the 3-compartrnent sink was set up in the following incorrect order: wash, sanitize, and rinse. Utensils were then immediately used without allowing them to air dry. At the final dough, recently used trays covered with residue were slammed on the floor to remove particles and then placed onto the cart, without washing, to be reused. Our investigator observed fresh dough immediately placed on these trays and sent to proofing .   In the proof , there is no evidence that the conveyor trays used to transport the dough from the extruder to the are sanitized.  The firm’s water filters have not been changed since 2013. There was dark brown and slimy residue in the filter. The filtered water is used in the production of dough, to clean large pieces of equipment, and used in the 3-compartment sink.

But this is the item to note - "Personnel responsible for identifying sanitation failures and food contamination lack a background of education and experience to provide a needed level of competency as required by 21 CFR 110.10(c). Specifically:
  •  The production manager did not know the correct order of operation to properly clean and sanitize utensils at the 3-compartment sink. The 3-compartrnent sink was set up in the following incorrect order: wash, sanitize, and rinse. During the inspection, the rinse water was observed to be cloudy and dirty, providing a possible source of cross-contamination.
  • The production manager did not know what the adequate sanitizer concentration should be; there were no test strips available to verify the concentration, and he relied solely on placing one capful of bleach into water
  • The president of the company lacks basic sanitation knowledge. For example, when asked about the sanitation procedures, he commented on cleaning the floors and was not aware of equipment cleaning and maintenance schedules. He also did not know the required sanitizer concentration and did not provide test strips to employees for verification."
As we know, as part of 21CFR117, it is required that management be adequately trained in food safety.

Finally - the firm failed to provide appropriate training in food handling techniques and food protection principles have not been provided to food handlers 1) an employee touching ready to eat bread rolls with bare hands to determine if they were cool enough for packaging. 2) an employee in the packaging area wearing only one glove, on the right hand. The employee was manually sorting bread into final packaging with both the gloved and bare hands.

FDA Recall Notice
July 5, 2017
Brent A. Bischoff
K & B Company Inc.
109 Arnold St.
Gallup, NM 87301

Monday, August 14, 2017

Virginia Peanut Company Issued Warning Letter - A Cat for Pest Control? The Risks of Ordering Food Online

FDA issued a warning letter to a Virginia peanut products company.    A summary of the key findings:

  • A cat as pest control.  And cat feces in the facility.
  • Sliding doors not sealed providing an opening to the outside
  • Employees not properly washing hands
  • Employees using tobacco in food contact areas
  • Food residues left on equipment
  • Old, unused equipment stored throughout facility
  • Air flow blowing peanut dust around.
  • Employees not wearing hair restraints.
  • Labeling issues involving nutrient claims, ingredient statements, and company listing.

It seems that they sell products online, and looking at their website (, it seems like a legitimate company.   However, entering the address into google street view, this is the picture that comes up..
While I am not sure if this is the processing facility or facilities, it does seem to match the description painted by the warning letter.

Really makes you think twice about ordering food online, doesn't it?

FDA Warning Letters
Coleman Peanut Company 8/2/17
August 2, 2017

Peas at Farmers' Market Responsible for Salmonella Infections - Wisconsin

Loose, shelled peas sold at a Wisconsin farmers' market are responsible for causing 7 cases of Salmonella infection, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health.

As a raw agricultural commodity, the peas fall outside of regulatory oversight.  

The name of the vendor has not been released, so this impacts all vendors selling peas at the Green Bay Farmers' Market, as well peas sold by vendors at another nearby farmers' market.

Peas are often cooked before heating, and this would have most likely eliminated the pathogen, but we know that many people use them raw without cooking. Certainly they should have been first washed, but this may not have removed the pathogen especially if present in high numbers. but it would have helped.

ABC News 2 - Wisconsin
Salmonella outbreak linked to peas sold at Farmers Markets
By Brittany Schmidt |
Posted: Fri 1:44 PM, Aug 11, 2017 |
Updated: Fri 10:43 PM, Aug 11, 2017

Friday, August 11, 2017

Doughnuts Gone Bad - Norovirus Outbreak Linked to Ohio Doughnut Shop

In Ohio, over 250 have become infected with norovirus linked to a doughnut shop - Mama C's Donuts.  Symptoms of norovirus, which include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, fever, and body aches can last as long as 24 hours.  The highly contagious virus spreads easily, so the health department is concerned about secondary infections.

So instead of a cruller, you get a crueler.   Hey, a new way to make coconut glaze.

The Blade
266 norovirus cases linked to Maumee doughnut shop 
By Lauren Lindstrom  | BLADE STAFF WRITER

Europe - Eggs Contaminated with Pesticide Removed from Shelves

In Europe, eggs (and products made from eggs) from farms in the Netherlands and Belgium are being pulled from store shelves after it was found that those farms used a banned pesticide, Fiponil, a substance used to kill lice and ticks in chickens.  Product was shipped to  countries that have received the eggs are the UK, Sweden, Austria, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Denmark and Switzerland.

Brittan’s Food Standards Agency says it is "very unlikely" there is any health risk.  However it is caused quite a stir throughout the EU.

BBC News
Eggs containing fipronil found in 15 EU countries and Hong Kong

Salmonella Outbreak Associated with Papayas Increase to 141 Cases

The case count for those impacted by the Salmonella outbreak associated with Maradol papayas continues to increase.  As of 8/11/17, infections have been reported in 19 states with a total of 141 cases with 45 hospitalizations and 1 death.

The Maradol papayas originated from the Carica de Campeche farm in Mexico.  FDA has issued warning for 3 brands - Caribeña, Cavi and Valery brands of Maradol papayas.  Recalls were issued for each of the brands ( CaribeñaCavi, and Valery ).
FDA has issued an import alert.  (Import Alert 99-35)

Several types of Salmonella bacteria have been isolated, including Salmonella Agona, Salmonella Kiambu, Salmonella Gaminara, Salmonella Thompson, and Salmonella Senftenberg.

Posted 8/11/17
CDC Outbreak Notice
Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Kiambu and Salmonella Thompson Infections Linked to Imported Maradol Papayas

Thursday, August 10, 2017

This Week in Mislabeled Product

Each week, we normally see numerous recalls issued that involve mislabeling of product.    In most cases, theses calls involve allergen risks.  This past week was no exception.  The scope of these recalls vary as well as the way in which the mislabeling issue was identified. 

A Wisconsin firm is recalling hamburger patties after receiving complaints that hamburger patties with cheese, a dairy allergen, and bacon were mislabeled as plain patties.

A St. Louis, Mo. establishment, is issuing an allergy alert on 13 German Chocolate Cakes labeled as regular chocolate cake because the product contains pecans that are not listed on the ingredient label.  The issue was discovered by an employee

A Calif. establishment, is recalling approximately 2,133 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) beef products due to misbranding. The products contain monosodium glutamate (MSG) that was not declared on the product labels.  The issue was discovered during a USDA / FSIS inspection.

Taylor Farms Retail, Inc. in Salinas is conducting a limited recall of 293 cases of Taylor Farms Creamy Homestyle Coleslaw Kits due to an undeclared milk allergen.  Milk is an ingredient in the dressing packet included in the salad kit. The undeclared allergen was discovered through a quality check.

USDA / FSIS Recall Notice
Kenosha Beef International, LTD. Recalls Beef Products Due To Misbranding and Undeclared Allergens
Class I Recall091-2017
Health Risk: HighAug 9, 2017

Monday, August 7, 2017

Black Forest Ham Recalled for Not Declaring Malted Barley on Label

A Maryland Company is recalling close to 120,000 lbs of RTE Black Forest Ham because the product label did not have an ingredient - Malted Barley.  The recall came after a complaint was made.

The recall notice states that the absence of malted barley as an undeclared allergen.  And while barley is allergenic, it is not included within FALCPA.   It does contain gluten however.

USDA / FSIS Recall Notice
Hahn Brothers, Inc. Recalls Ready-To-Eat Ham Products Due To Misbranding and Undeclared Allergens
Class II Recall 088-2017
Health Risk: Low 
Aug 5, 2017

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Why Is the UK Afraid of Importing US Chicken Meat?

There has been much scuttlebutt regarding the UK not wanting to allow importation of US chickens. While EU has banned US chickens since 1997, the issue has been raised as the UK plans to exit the EU.  Will the UK now allow the importation of US chickens?  Well, it seems that they have issue with the fact that the US uses a chlorine disinfection step to get rid of the pathogenic microbes.  But it is not the fact of chlorine that bothers our friends across the ocean, but it is the fact that we have to use chlorine in order to compensate for what they consider our less than clean birds.

According to UK food safety expert, Simon Dawson - there is no issue with chlorine, and that chlorine can be a useful tool in reducing harmful pathogens, such as Salmonella and Campylobacter, that are naturally associated with the birds.  And there is no real evidence that our birds are not as clean, but rather is more precautionary...based on "no poultry welfare standards" in the US and "also been reports, including undercover video evidence by the Humane Society of the United States, of both inhumane and unsanitary practices being carried out".

So it has nothing to do with the fact we have awesome, inexpensive chicken that UK consumers would definitely prefer.  Hmm....I am going to Chick-fil-A for lunch.

The Conversation
Chlorine-washed chicken Q&A: food safety expert explains why US poultry is banned in the EU
August 2, 2017 7.03am EDT

NC Establishment Recalls Ground Beef Due to Foreign Material Complaints of Styrofoam Pieces

JBS of North Carolina is recalling 5,000 lbs of ground beef after receiving complaints of foreign material in the form of styrofoam pieces.

USDA Recall Notice
JBS USA Inc. Recalls Beef Products Due To Possible Foreign Matter Contamination 
Class III Recall  086-2017
 Aug 1, 2017

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Papaya's Recalled After Linked to Salmonella Outbreak.

A Maryland distributor, Grande Produce, is recalling Cariberia brand of papaya maradol after it was linked to a Salmonella outbreak where there were 47 cases.   The impacted product was shipped July 10 to July 19, so it is unlikely that any of this perishable produce is still around.

While much of the product was pulled back from the distributors, the company should have issued a public recall.  This recall comes a week after Maryland Dept of Ag first issued a warning.

FDA Recall Notice
Grande Produce Issues Voluntary Recall of Limited Quantity of Papaya “Caribeña” Due to Potential Health Risk
For Immediate Release
July 26, 2017

Rogue Employee Posting Photos of Moldy Equipment Goes Viral - Gains International Media Attention

 A new reality for food operations, especially large foodservice chains - a reported issue at one store within a chain that impacts the entire corporation.  This was recently the case for Chipotle where an outbreak at one store gained international attention dropping the company's stock price.  Now a case at a McDonalds store, where a rouge employee posted pictures online of a piece of ice cream equipment that had mold. [Yeah, he could have cleaned it, but instead decided to post pictures online..nice].   Unfortunately, this has gained international attention, being reported in major news media outlets around the world.

Clearly this was not an issue you want to see, but the overall cost of an issue like this can be huge, rippling back in the food chain to the ingredient manufacturers, transporters, etc.  Maintaining a tight system across hundreds or thousands of outlets can be tough.  So it is not only important to have systems in place for running a clean operation, but having systems that encourage employees to report issues, or even handle issues.  Good hiring practices also help.

Former McDonald’s Employee Unearths Gross Find Hidden Within McFlurry Machine
Natasha Hinde Lifestyle writer at HuffPost UK

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Failure to Enforce Employee Sick Policy May Be Root to Chipotle Outbreak

In a CNBC news article, investigators found what could be a systemic issue in the under-enforcement of the employee sick policy that keeps ill workers home rather than working.  It is reported that managers from various stores were not executing the policies and forcing workers while ill.

Many have stated that norovirus is also seen at other chains but we just don't hear about it.  And while there is validity to the point that the news media and the business investors are hyper-aware of issues at Chipotle, my point is that the restaurant managers and employees should have been hyper-aware of the need to adhere to policies including the employee health policies, especially in light of the past issues that the chain has suffered.

The US Food Code states that employees who have diarrhea, are vomiting, or have jaundice must be excluded from the workplace.  Company's employee health policies must adhere to this in order to prevent the spread of foodborne illness from organisms such as Hepatitis A, norovirus, Salmonella, STEC E. coli, and Shigella.  These organisms are highly infectious and can be easily passed to consumers via food, especially ready-to-eat food.

Chipotle's recent norovirus outbreak was the result of lax sick-policy enforcement
  • A self-identified Chipotle employee alleged in a Reddit post last month that a manager required them to work while sick.
  • A Chipotle employee from a different state told CNBC that it was only after the norovirus outbreak last week that their manager began enforcing the sick policy.
  • Chipotle's sick policy may not be the only one that managers are overlooking.
Sarah Whitten | @sarahwhit10 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Foodbank recalls 27,000 lbs of Food for Loss of Temperature Control

The Idaho Foodbank is recalling various products after it was discovered that the cooler temperatures were not maintained.  The issue was discovered after reviewing cooler temperature records.

These are the types of issues that should never occur if daily record reviews are completed.  This not only goes for manufacturing operations, but also for foodservice, retail, and volunteer organizations such as foodbanks.

FDA Recall Notice
The Idaho Foodbank Recalls Coconut Beverage, Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Eggs, and Cheese Product Because Of Possible Health Risk
For Immediate Release
July 21, 2017

Canned Beans Recalled Due to a Supplier-related Can Seam Issue

Bush Brothers and Company is recalling 28oz cans of Bush Bean products after a defective can side-seam was detected.  This is a can supplier issue in that wielding of the seam on the side of the can is done by the can supplier.  

A defective can seam may result in loss of container integrity, allowing bacteria into the can.
Baked Beans Voluntary Recall Notice
A Message For Our Customers
July 22, 2017

Salmonella Outbreak Associated with Papayas

FDA and CDC are reporting that 47 have become ill with a particular strain of Salmonella from Cariberia brand Maradol papaya.  According to the FDA report, "The FDA, CDC, MDH and other state and local officials are investigating Salmonella Kiambu and Salmonella Thompson illnesses linked to Caribeña brand Maradol papayas from Mexico distributed by Grande Produce disclaimer icon in San Juan, TX."

FDA Outbreak
FDA Investigates Multiple Salmonella Outbreak Strains Linked to Papayas

Friday, July 21, 2017

Chipotle Rocked by News of Norovirus Outbreak and Rodent Video

There are now 60 cases of Norovirus that are being linked to a Chipotle restaruant in northern VA. The health department stated that one patron has tested positive, but it there is still insufficient evidence to identify the source.  The restaurant was closed for a day, but reopened on the 20th of July, after being closed for a day.

The outbreak was initially posted on a non-regulatory website on the 18th..  According to an article on CNBC, "So far eight cases between July 14 and July 17 were reported to, a website that allows users to report when they get sick after eating at a restaurant. Business Insider was alerted to the issues at the restaurant by the site, and then published a story."   Immediately, this news hit the major mass news media outlets including the Wall Street Journal and NY Times.  

With that, the stock price dropped by 5%.  Stock prices continued to slide, and with a release of a rat video (which was really mice) on the internet did not help.  The stock has dropped a whopping $40 per share in the last five days.

Just goes to show how hard it is to recover once a bad reputation is developed.

Loudoun County Health Dept.
Posted on: July 20, 2017
Health Department Updates Investigation of Reports of Illness at Chipotle Mexican Grill in Sterling

Laboratory Related Salmonella Outbreak - A Reminder about Pathogen Control for Those Doing Testing

CDC is reporting that 24 people in 16 states have become ill with an outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium.  A few important points for facilities that are doing their own testing:
  • Laboratories need to have and adhere to strict cleaning and sanitizing protocols.  There is a lot of emphasis on cleaning and sanitizing in the food production facilities, but unfortunately, this may not be as strictly enforced in the laboratories.  
  • Laboratories located in food production facilities need to recognize they are a high risk source for pathogens, especially if those laboratories are using methods that enrich for pathogens such as Salmonella or Listeria.  Laboratories need to verify cleaning through environmental monitoring.  Control of access for people and materials in and out of the laboratories must be in place.
  • Pathogens are highly infectious, so people working in the laboratories must adhere to proper personal hygiene protocols.  Not only can these pathogens represent a risk to food produced, but there is also a risk for laboratory workers as well as family or friends of those workers.
We have all seen laboratories where too much is taken for granted.  That is, cleaning off the bench top or keeping it under the hood is all that one needs to do.  But when working with bacteria that are, or may be pathogens, a test tube, a petri dish, or sample card can have levels in the millions of cells per gram or ml.  Considering it may take as few as 10 cells or less to make someone ill, it is easy for a small amount to make it past rudimentary cleaning procedures.  (I know, there are some of you that used to mouth-pipet this stuff).

Infection Control Today
Human Salmonella Typhimurium Infections Linked to Exposure to Microbiology Labs
July 19, 2017

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

CDC Report on Foodborne Illness Associated with Fish

Each year people become ill from eating contaminated fish.  CDC issued a report on data from their surveillance system on the agents and the types of fish in the period 1998 to 2015.  Table 2 from that report (ref below) provides a nice summary of those findings that link agent and the source of fish:
Scombrotoxin is the leading agent of foodborne illness associated with fish and it is found in tuna and mahi-mahi.  Scombrotoxin is due to histamine formation as a byproduct of microbial activity as that fish meat spoils when it is temperature abused.   The symptoms are similar to what you would have during an allergic reaction.  This toxin is not destroyed by heating.

Ciquatoxin is found associated with tropical predator fish such as grouper and barracuda when those fish eat smaller fish that have eaten a particular types of dinoflagellate (type of plankton).  The toxin bioaccumulates in the predator fish.  There are gastrointestinal issues, but the biggest issue are the neurological affects  that include headaches, muscle aches, numbness, and cold allodynia -  a burning sensation on contact with cold.  These symptoms can persist for weeks to months.  The toxin is heat stable.

Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2017 Jul 6. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2017.2286. [Epub ahead of print]
Fish-Associated Foodborne Disease Outbreaks: United States, 1998-2015.
Barrett KA1, Nakao JH1, Taylor EV2, Eggers C3, Gould LH1.

Pew Releases Report on Making Meat and Poultry Safer

Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-profit organization dedicated to encourage responsive government and support scientific research on a wide range of issues including food safety, released a report on making meat and poultry safer.  A few of their recommendations:
  • Government agencies should fund research into how to best manage herds or flocks to maintain animal health and keep harmful bacteria out, including the use of clean feed, vaccines, and prebiotics and probiotics.
  • Regulatory agencies should provide incentives for the implementation of pre-harvest food safety interventions
  • Industry should consider individual pre-harvest interventions within the larger context of managing the health of the herd or flock and implement adequate controls to protect animal health and keep pathogens out,
  • All stakeholders should develop information technology infrastructure and capacity to encourage sharing of efficacy and safety data among industry, academia, governmental researchers, and regulatory agencies
Good for them.  Now just need some funding to make it more of this happen.

The full report can be found here.  Good reference information on pre-harvest interventions.

Pew Charitable Trusts - Press Release
Pew: Safer Meat Requires Reducing Risks Where Food Animals Are Raised
Report highlights effective measures to decrease contamination on farms and feedlots
July 17, 2017
Safe Food Project

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

NY Establishment Recalls 7.2 Million Pounds of Hot Dog Product After Complaints of Bone Material

  A NY establishment is recalling approximately 7.2 million pounds of hot dog products after complaints of bone material were received.  This covers about 3.5 months of production.  According to the USDA recall notice, "The problem was discovered through FSIS’ Consumer Compliant Monitoring System (CCMS) on July 10, 2017. Complaints stated that extraneous material, specifically pieces of bone, were found within the product.    There has been one reported minor oral injury associated with consumption of this product. FSIS has received no additional reports of injury or illness from consumption of these products."

The brand of product, Sabrett, is sold in the locally in the NY area to deli's and foodservice operations, but in large part to street vending carts.

USDA Recall Notice
Marathon Enterprises Inc. Recalls Hot Dog Products Due to Possible Extranous Material Contamination
Class I Recall 082-2017
Health Risk: High
Jul 15, 2017

Thursday, July 6, 2017

CDC Report - Two Outbreaks of Trichinosis Linked to Consumption of Walrus Meat

If you ever have the opportunity to eat walrus meat, make sure it is cooked well.  There were two recent outbreaks of trichinosis or trichinellosis (five cases each) in Alaska that were associated with consumption of walrus meat.  The disease is caused by the parasite trichinella and is acquired when the larvae of the worm in ingested when consuming contaminated meat of animals including bear, cougar, wild boar and walruses.  Domestic pigs were once a source, but not really any more since controls were put in place by the industry to improve farming conditions.

Initial infection leads to nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, fever, and abdominal discomfort. This is followed within a few weeks by headaches, fevers, chills, cough, swelling of the face and eyes, aching joints and muscle pains, as the larvae get into the blood stream and start to encyst into the muscles.. "If the infection is heavy, patients may experience difficulty coordinating movements, and have heart and breathing problems. In severe cases, death can occur."

Cooking wild meat to an internal temperature of 160ºF will take care of the issue.  Canning wild meat is another alternative to consider.

Two Outbreaks of Trichinellosis Linked to Consumption of Walrus Meat — Alaska, 2016–2017

CDC Report - 2016-2017 E.coli non-O157 Outbreak in Canada Associated with Flour

CDC issued a field note on the 2016-2017 E. coli non-O157 outbreak in Canada associated with flour.  In all, 29 people were infected in Canada and one in the US.   Robin Hood flour was the identified brand.  According to the report, "Eleven of these sixteen patients reported they ate or probably ate raw dough during their exposure period."  "Eight patients were hospitalized, and one developed hemolytic uremic syndrome. Clinical isolates were typed as E. coli O121:H19."

Notes from the Field: An Outbreak of Shiga Toxin–Producing Escherichia coli O121 Infections Associated with Flour — Canada, 2016–2017
Weekly / July 7, 2017

Energy Bars Recalled After Complaints of Nut Allergic Reactions

Clif Bar is recalling certain varieties of its energy bar products after receiving 'a small number' of consumer complaints of peanut or tree nut allergic reactions, although these were not confirmed.

This is the type of issue where good allergen verification records are needed.  Are there other products run in the facility with peanuts and tree nuts, and if so, were good sanitation and other allergen procedures followed.   What about supplier control?  Do any of the suppliers handle peanut and tree nuts that could have accidentally made their way into a non-nut ingredient.

FDA Recall Notice
Voluntary Recall of CLIF BUILDER'S Bar Chocolate Mint Flavor, CLIF Kid Zbar Protein Chocolate Mint and CLIF Kid Zbar Protein Chocolate Chip Flavors
For Immediate Release
July 5, 2017

Results of Sampling Retail Foods for Listeria

USDA led a multiyear study to look at Listeria in foods at retail.
  • Six broad groups were tested - seafood, produce, dairy, meat, eggs, and combination foods) 
  • Samples were collected weekly at large national chain supermarkets and independent grocery stores between December 2010 and March 2013.
  • 27,389 total samples were taken with 
  • 116 samples tested positive by the BAX PCR system for L. monocytogenes, and the pathogen was isolated and confirmed for 102 samples (0.3%)
  • 571 samples that tested positive for Listeria-like organisms

A few takeaways
  • Screening samples used a 25 gram sample. If a larger sample size was used, would the percent positive be higher?
  • Sampling ended over 4 years ago.  If sampling and testing were conduced today, would we expect lower numbers?
  • Cut raw vegetables were the highest at 1%., but the scariest is the pre-made salads - seafood salad and deli-type salads (and pre-made sandwiches) since those would be consumed without any preparation and the numbers/gram were generally lower.
  • While the percentage of cheese samples that were positive are low, there where some high numbers on those that tested positive.
Journal of Food Protection
Survey for Listeria monocytogenes in and on Ready-to-Eat Foods from Retail Establishments in the United States (2010 through 2013): Assessing Potential Changes of Pathogen Prevalence and Levels in a Decade
John B. Luchansky,1 Yuhuan Chen,2* Anna C. S. Porto-Fett,1 Régis Pouillot,2 Bradley A. Shoyer,1 Rachel Johnson-DeRycke,3 Denise R. Eblen,3 Karin Hoelzer,2 William K. Shaw Jr.,3 Jane M. van Doren,2 Michelle Catlin,3 Jeehyun Lee,4§ Rohan Tikekar,4§ Daniel Gallagher,5 James A. Lindsay,1 The Listeria Market Basket Survey Multi-Institutional Team, and Sherri Dennis2

Penn State Extension educators develop plan to educate plain sect on food safety

Penn State News
Penn State Extension educators develop plan to educate plain sect on food safety
June 13, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Technology has changed the way we communicate and learn. Computers, video conferencing and online courses are just a few of the tools educators commonly use to impart knowledge.

But what if you normally use technology to teach but can't?

That was the challenge Penn State Extension food-safety educators like Jeff Stoltzfus, who is based in Lancaster County, faced earlier this year when asked to use today's technology to educate Amish and Mennonite farmer — some of whom reject modern ways — about new food-safety regulations.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Chicken Salad Recalled for Being Tuna Salad - Allergen Mislabeling

Whole Foods is recalling chicken salad product that contains...tuna salad.  While this mislabeling issue may seem small and easy to make, it is reason for a Class I recall due to undeclared allergens, in this case, fish in the product but not on the label.  The issue was discovered at store level as store employees were unpacking the product.

According to the report, this company had a similar issue in the past.  In January of 2017, they shipped egg salad labeled as chicken salad.  Again, this is a allergen mislabeling issue.  This would be where one would want to have an Allergen Preventive Control or a Critical Control Point to ensure the labels match the product produced.

It seems that Jessica Simpson made the same mistake...thinking Chicken of the Sea was chicken.  Don't be like Jessica Simpson, control your labels!

USDA Recall Notice
Willow Tree Poultry Farm Recalls Chicken Salad Products Due To Misbranding And Undeclared Allergens
Class I Recall 080-2017
Health Risk: High
Jul 1, 2017

Friday, June 30, 2017

CDC Reports on a 2016 Salmonella Outbreak Related to Peppers

CDC released a report detailing a 2016 Salmonella outbreak related to peppers.  This is the first time this report has been issued.  Investigators had difficulties in determining the type of pepper as well as the source of the pepper.  Because the lack of 'actionable' information, no warning was issued to consumers.

In June 2016, PulseNet identified a cluster of 16 Salmonella Anatum infections with an indistinguishable [unique] pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern from four states.  Thirty-two patients in nine states were identified with illness onsets from May 6–July 9, 2016.  The combined evidence indicated that fresh hot peppers were the likely source of infection; however, a single pepper type or source farm was not identified.  Much of this related to different foods people ate, whether specific peppers were included in salsa recipes, etc.   The only link was related to testing in in April 2016, the same PFGE pattern had been uploaded to PulseNet from an isolate obtained from an Anaheim pepper, a mild to medium hot pepper.

This demonstrates the challenges posed by our food system, especially for produce items like peppers that are used primarily as an ingredient in many different foods, such as salsa.  Cross contamination from the peppers to other items may muddy the investigation.
Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Anatum Infections Linked to Imported Hot Peppers — United States, May–July 2016
Weekly / June 30, 2017 / 66(25);663–667
Rashida Hassan, MSPH1; Joshua Rounds, MPH2; Alida Sorenson, MPH3; Greg Leos, MPH4; Jeniffer Concepción-Acevedo, PhD1; Taylor Griswold, MS1; Adiam Tesfai, PhD5; Tyann Blessington, PhD5; Cerise Hardy, MPH5; Colin Basler, DVM1 (View author affiliations)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Target Store Pulls Hampton Creek Food Products

Target stores removed Hampton Creek products from their stores.  These products are under the 'Just' brand and include Just Mayo, Just Mustard, and Just Chocolate Chip.  There is no official word yet on the actions were taken, but will stop selling the products ' pending a full review.'

Bloomberg News
Target Begins Removing Hampton Creek's Products From Stores
By Olivia Zaleski
‎June‎ ‎22‎, ‎2017‎ ‎5‎:‎24‎ ‎PM Updated on ‎June‎ ‎22‎, ‎2017‎ ‎9‎:‎24‎ ‎PM
 - Target received information alleging possible health concerns
 - The allegations included claims about mislabeled products

USDA ERS Publishes Food Safety Costs for Produce Operations Complying to Increased Food Safety Standards (LGMA)

The USDA Economic Research Service released a 64 page report on the costs associated with meeting safety standards established by the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA).  The costs with the LGMA should be similar to what will be required by the FSMA Produce Safety Rule.  This is based upon 7 produce operations and was conducted in 2012.

The paper acknowledged that it is difficult to assess the costs, and thus come up with average cost/farm or cost/acre for compliance.  They were able to determine where those costs went on average:
  • food safety staff - 38%
  • foremen food safety time - 32% 
  • audits - 17%
  • lost product due to animal intrusion - 11%
  • water testing - 2%
  • Other costs not uniformly collected included harvest worker training, glove use, raw product testing, and external record keeping management systems.
Estimated costs for foreman (based upon time allocation) ranged from 80,000 to 1,012,000 million.
Firms averaged
Table 3
Range of costs per firm for different food safety practices
                                                                        Range of costs ($) Number of observations  
                                                                        Low                High
Cost per firm:
Total field-level audits                                   27,150            305,430                 6
Raw product testing                                                0              90,000                 6
External record keeping                                          0                8,868                 7
Training                                                          19,900              71,398                 4
Protective clothing                                         12,000              52,000                  5
Total water testing                                           7,000               85,000                  7
Lost product                                                            0             304,000                 7
Equipment cleaning/sanitizing                       21,000             250,000                 4
Hired toilet/handwashing facilities                45,451              130,367                3 
and services

Note: In reporting individual costs per firm, there is a mix of costs for different-sized operations, and also a mix of costs for leafy greens and the whole produce operation. The  combination of firms reporting data for any cost also varies. As a result, the numbers in table 3 cannot be added together to get a low and a high for all costs. Source: USDA, Economic Research Service.

How solid are these costs?  Good question.  They are based upon if you ask someone what they are spending on mandated oversight....there may be a tendency to look at worst case scenario. Plus were there savings from improved practices?...hard to say.  I believe these costs increases are there, especially compared to processing facilities that already have much of the infrastructure in place.

Economic Information Bulletin Number 173
Food Safety Practices and Costs Under the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement
Linda Calvin, Helen Jensen, Karen Klonsky, and Roberta Cook
June 2017

Salmonella Outbreak in Canada Associated with Raw Frozen Breaded Chicken

In Canada, there have been 7 cases of Salmonella linked to frozen raw breaded chicken products.

Over the past few years, we have seen Salmonella outbreaks associated with raw breaded chicken (1, 2, 3 ).  In fact, FSIS issued an alert after the the Aspen Foods Salmonella-in-breaded chicken outbreak.   As was pointed out each time, there are a few issues - 1) the product is frozen, so when the consumer begins with frozen product, they may not cook it long enough in order to achieve the proper internal temperature. Along with this, many people do not use a thermometer in order to ensure that temperature is met, and  2) breaded products often look like they are fully cooked. This is because the par-cooking that sets the breading gives it a finished cooked appearance.  

So even though companies may post cooking instructions on the package, there must be controls in place to limit, even to the point of elimination, the risk of Salmonella.  This includes controlling Salmonella in the process environment, preventing growth through tight temperature control, and par-frying it well.

National Post
7 sickened by salmonella related to raw frozen breaded chicken in 4 provinces

Executives of Egg Company Ordered to Begin Serving Sentences for 2010 Salmonella Outbreak

A father and son, owners of an Iowa egg company, have been mandated to report to prison.  They were found guilty in 2014 to the 2010 Salmonella outbreak associated with eggs where close to 2000 people became infected.  They appealed their sentences, but those were upheld.

According to the news release, business groups had supported the appeal, arguing "that it is unfair to send corporate executives to prison for violations that they were either unaware of or that were committed by subordinates. The groups said it's highly unusual to attach a criminal penalty and prison time to executives when there is no proof of intention or knowledge of wrongdoing."  If you believe that food safety starts at the top, which I do, then it is important the executives should not only be aware, but also support food safety.

WRCBTV / Associated Press
Egg executives in salmonella case must report to prison

Posted: Jun 27, 2017 12:53 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 27, 2017 1:13 PM

Monday, June 26, 2017

Chicken Tenders Recalled After Complaints of Bone Fragments

A California company is recalling over 50,000 lbs of chicken bites because the firm received consumer complaints involving foreign objects in the form of bone.  There have been no injuries.

The primary target market for this product is children.

USDA Recall Notice
Overhill Farms, Inc. Recalls Chicken Products Due To Possible Foreign Matter Contamination
Class I Recall 078-2017
Health Risk: High
Jun 24, 2017

Friday, June 23, 2017

US Stops Imported Beef from Brazil for Food Safety Concerns

The US has stopped all importation of fresh beef from Brazil for food safety concerns.  Brazil is the fifth largest exporter of beef to the US.  Since an investigation into the Brazilian meat industry in March, the US has been inspecting all meat products from that country, refusing 11% of those shipments due to "public health concerns, sanitary conditions, and animal health issues."

USA Today
US bans Brazil beef imports over food safety concerns
Roger Yu , USA TODAY
Published 8:39 a.m. ET June 23, 2017 | Updated 0 minutes ago

Drain Decontamination Using Chlorine Dioxide Pods

Our good friend Dr. Mark Berrang shared his recent research on decontaminating floor drains with chlorine dioxide pods.  This may be useful for many facilities beyond the poultry processing facilities where the research was conducted, especially those facilities that have problems with drain backups. This method was able to achieve a 8.7 log reduction in the drain water and 6.7 log reduction of cells attached to drain piping.

Contact me if you want a copy of the paper or the supplier contact used in this research. (we of course, are not endorsing any one supplier).

JAPR Research Report

Self-contained chlorine dioxide generation and delivery pods for decontamination of floor drains

Thursday, June 22, 2017

NY Nut and Fruit Processor Source of Listeria Related Recalls

Over the past several days, many of the listeria - nut/dried fruit recalls have been linked to a company called HVF, Inc. AKA - Hudson Valley Farms. This includes the recent hummus recall due to pine nuts from HVF as well as other recalls such as protein bars from GoMarco, granola products from New England Bakers, and Protein Bars and Bits from Bulletproof 360. It is hard to tell what the ultimate source of these recalls, but clearly HVF is a major link, if not the primary source.

Here again is what appears to be an ingredient supply issue that triggers recalls among a number of further processing facilities.  In this case, the ingredient was produced by a very small processing facility - what kind of supplier controls were in place?  How legitimate is this supplier?

One concern was that the supplier information was not readily available online.  No website was present - was it there and taken down, or was there never one to start?  Wouldn't it be better to have a supplier who is there when there is an issue and to state the nature of the issue on their website?

It was difficult to tell the scope of the operation. According to a story in the Miami Herald, HVF is a company of 10 people or less. Looking further, it appears to be part of a larger group with the parent appearing to be a company called Bedemco, an importer of nut and fruit products.  HVF may just be a packing facility for this family run company.

Hummus Product Recalled For Potential Listeria in Pinenut Topping

 A TN company, House of Taller, is recalling hummus product with pine nut toppings after the pine nut topping after they were notified by the pine nut supplier that Listeria may be present on that ingredient.   The supplier is HVF (Hudson Valley Farms) /Bedemco.

Recalled House of Taller product is under the Marketside label which is sold at Walmart, the Fresh Foods Market Artisan brand and Latana brand. (What qualifies something as artisan? Nothing really, just our next overused marketing label.)
FDA Recall Notice
House of Thaller Recalls Selected Pine Nut Hummus Products Because of Possible Health Risk
For Immediate Release
June 19, 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017

CDC Report - National Botulism Surveillance Summary 2015

CDC released the summary of botulism cases for 2015.  Botulism is the disease caused by the toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum.  The toxin is a neurotoxin that stops neurotransmission resulting in paralysis, or loss in muscle function.  Botulism poisoning can result in death if not treated.  In most cases, it will result in hospitalization with the patient on a breathing apparatus due to loss in the ability to breath (paralysis of diaphragm).

The type we are most familiar is foodborne botulism where the organism grows in the food producing toxin.  But there is also infant botulism where the organism becomes part of the intestinal microflora of an infant.  A similar issue can happen in adults when their intestine is subject to colonization due to illness associated with antibiotic administration and decline of normal intestinal microflora.  Wound botulism occurs when the organism gets into a would and begins to grow.

The largest amount of cases reported in 2015 were infant botulism (141).  No deaths were reported.

There were 39 confirmed cases of foodborne botulism.  The one outbreak occurred when improperly canned potatoes were used to make potato salad at a church potluck dinner.  This resulted in 27 cases.
Another outbreak was associated with fermented seal flipper (4 cases), and then another was associated with beets roasted in aluminum foil and kept at room temperature for several days then made into a soup (2 cases).

National Botulism Surveillance Summary 2015
An overview of national botulism surveillance is available at:

Pet Treats Recall Expanded to Include Private Label Products - Controlling Overseas Co-packers

United Pets is expanding their initial recall of raw hide pet treats to now include private label products including Companion, Dentley's, Enzadent or Dentahex, Essential Everyday, Exer-Hides, Good Lovin' or Petco, Hill Country Fare, and Priority Pet.  The products are being recalled because the foreign manufacturing facility sanitized the product with quaternary ammonium or Quat.  Quat is a surface sanitizer and is not made to be used directly on food for dogs (or humans).

This case points out the concerns for companies who have another company co-pack their product in facilities outside the country.  One would have expected contracted company, in this case United Pet, would have been controlling those facilities to a point where product produced was compliant with US regulations, or even generally accepted practices.  As the purchasing clients, completing a hazard analysis to take into account unexpected, unacceptable practices can be difficult to impossible without an onsite visit by a trusted, knowledgeable auditor.

FDA Recall Notice
United Pet Group Expands Voluntary Recall of Multiple Brands of Rawhide Chew Products for Dogs to Also Include Private Label Brands Due to Possible Chemical Contamination
For Immediate Release
June 16, 2017

Friday, June 16, 2017

Amazon Acquires Whole Foods announced that it was purchasing Whole Foods Markets today.   The food landscape continues to change in surprising ways.

Produce News
Amazon to acquire Whole Foods in $13.7 billion deal
June 16, 2017

Various Nut Based Products Recalled Due to Listeria

There have been a number of recalls over the past week for nut based products for Listeria.  All recalls state that there was a supplier issue.  One would guess that most, if not all recalls are related to the same supplier.
  • NOW Health Group, Inc. (NOW), of Bloomingdale, Illinois, is expanding the voluntary recall of various nut butters.
  • NEW ENGLAND NATURAL BAKERS of Greenfield MA, is issuing a voluntary recall of various granola products.
  • The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) today announced it has expanded the recall of its 12 oz. packages of Simple Truth Dry Roasted Macadamia Nuts
  • Wildway LLC is voluntarily recalling certain grain-free granola
  • GoMacro, of Viola, Wis., is recalling a limited number of MacroBars and Thrive Bars
  • Bulletproof 360, Inc. (“Bulletproof”) of Bellevue, Washington is recalling five Collagen Protein Bar and Bite products
Another recall that may be related is one for dry fruit products.

  • Publix Super Markets is issuing a voluntary recall for Publix Tropical Medley Mix because it may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes. Publix received notification of the potential contamination from our supplier of dried apricot.

Dry products listed here will not support the growth of Listeria, so then the question of risk is based on the amount of Listeria present.  Therefore, this probably represents a low risk.
NOW Health Group Inc. Expands Voluntary Recall of Ellyndale® Nutty Infusions™ Because of Possible Health Risk
For Immediate Release
June 16, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Breading Recall for Milk Allergens Due to Cross Contact in Processing

Newly Weds Foods issued a statement that their recall for breading, which caused a number of food processors to issue a recall, was due to cross contact in the manufacturing practice at their Massachusetts manufacturing facility.  The issue was discovered by one of their seafood customers. There were other meat and poultry recalls that resulted with more than 1.3 millions pounds of product.
Newly Weds Foods issues statement on breading-related recalls 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Breading Supplier Recall Due to Undeclared Milk Allergens Impacts Many Processors

Newly Wed Foods, a large supplier of breading as an ingredient, announced a recall of their product that has impacted a large number of companies that make breaded food items, forcing those companies to issue recalls.  The reason is that the breading ingredient(s) had milk allergen in them which was not declared on the labels.  The overall impact has been huge, with millions of pounds of various products being recalled.

Here is a list of companies posting recalls.
  • Giant Eagle, Inc. has announced a voluntary recall of Market District Toasted Crumb Tilapia and Giant Eagle Toasted Crumb Tilapia sold fresh from the seafood department of its supermarkets, and Giant Eagle Breaded Chicken Breast sold in the prepared foods department, due to an undeclared milk allergen.
  • Slade Gorton, Boston, MA is recalling the following products because they may contain undeclared milk. 
  • Packer Avenue Foods, Inc., a Philadelphia, Pa., establishment, is recalling approximately 9,690 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) chicken salad due to misbranding and undeclared allergens,.....The products could contain milk, a known allergen, which is not declared on the product label. 
  • Conagra Brands, Inc., a Milton, Pa. establishment, is recalling approximately 717,338 pounds of spaghetti and meatball products due to misbranding and undeclared allergens,....... known allergen which is not declared on the product label. 
  • Gourmet Boutique LLC, with establishments in Jamaica, N.Y. and Phoenix, Ariz., is recalling approximately 294,744 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) chicken products due to misbranding and undeclared allergens, ... The products could contain milk, a known allergen, which is not declared on the product label. 
  • Pork King Sausage, a New York, N.Y., establishment, is recalling approximately 44,035 pounds of raw sausage link products due to misbranding and undeclared allergen,....The products could contain milk, a known allergen, which is not declared on the product label.
  • Advance Pierre Foods, Inc., a Portland, Maine establishment, is recalling approximately 54,699 pounds of chicken products due to misbranding and undeclared allergens, ....The products could contain milk, a known allergen, which is not declared on the product label. 
  • Maid-Rite Specialty Foods, LLC., a Dunmore, Penn. establishment, is recalling approximately 174,000 pounds of various beef products due to misbranding and undeclared allergens.....The products contain milk, a known allergen, which is not declared on the products labels. Tyson Foods Inc., a New Holland, Pa. establishment, is recalling approximately 2,485,374 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) breaded chicken products due to misbranding and undeclared allergens
  • Aldon Food Corporation, a Schwenksville, Pa. establishment, is recalling approximately 18,570 pounds of chicken salad due to misbranding and undeclared allergens, 
  • Water Lilies Food Inc., a Astoria, N.Y., establishment, is recalling approximately 4,335 pounds of ready-to-eat breaded chicken products due to misbranding and undeclared allergens
  • Safeway stores in Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. are recalling deli-prepared fried chicken. Safeway was informed by Newlyweds Foods that the blended bread coating that it provided Safeway to make fried chicken included milk, which was not disclosed as an ingredient.
Breading is used both as a coating as well as added into the product (meatballs).  Breading and powder based coatings including pre-dust,  can include egg, dairy, wheat, corn, soy depending on the formula.  A supplier such as Newly Wed probably has hundreds of breading and coating formulas, and their labels must match the allergens listed.  Their customers, those food processors, depend on Newly Wed to control the allergens so that only those listed on the labels are actually in the product. When an allergen containing ingredient not listed on the official formula and ingredient package label accidentally gets into the product, then this creates an allergen mismatch for all of their processing customers.

USDA Recall Notice
News Release
Tyson Foods Inc. Recalls Ready-To-Eat Breaded Chicken Products Due to Misbranding and Undeclared Allergens
Class I Recall 067-2017
Health Risk: High 
Jun 9, 2017

Pet Treats Recalled Due to Use of QUAT as a Product Application

United Pet is recalling various rawhide chew products for dogs after it was found that the foreign suppliers were using QUAT to treat the products as a microbial reduction.  Quaternary Ammonium products are used as a sanitizer for food contact surfaces, but not for application to items that will be consumed.

In the report, "United Pet Group received very limited reports of pet illness based on the volume of possibly affected rawhide chew products manufactured and distributed. The primary complaint received from consumers was that the affected product had an unpleasant odor. Diarrhea and vomiting were also reported.  Exposure to quaternary ammonium compounds through direct ingestion may cause the following symptoms in dogs: reduced appetite, and gastric irritation including diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms may require treatment by a veterinarian depending on severity."

Of course you can not use a food contact sanitizer on a food unless the use has been approved.

FDA Recall Notice
United Pet Group Voluntary Recalls Multiple Brands of Rawhide Chew Products for Dogs Due to Possible Chemical Contamination
For Immediate Release
June 10, 2017

Club Chef Recalls Produce Items Due to the Potential To Contain Listeria

Club Chef is recalling its snack kits and salad items.     The kits are retail items sold under the Kroger and Club Chef brand.  Club Chef is also recalling onions sold as a part of numerous foodservice items distributed through US Foods.

The recall notice on the  kit items stated that it comes after the company's own internal environmental testing found Listeria in the processing environment.

The US Foods recall impacted our local school district, so it probably impacted a number of foodservice operations across the country.

FDA Recall Notice
Club Chef LLC Announces Recall of Limited Number of Snack Kits
For Immediate Release
June 8, 2017

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Miami Company Recalls Queso Fresco Cheese Due to Listeria

A Miami company is recalling Queso Fresco cheese due to the potential for Listeria.   Queso Fresco, or 'fresh cheese' is a Mexican style soft cheese normally made from unpasteurized milk.   Listeria contamination has been a problem with this style of cheese.  CDC has a fact sheet warning pregnant women to avoid this type of cheese because of the Listeria concern.  Over time, there has been a number of recalls associated with this and similar types of cheese.

FDA Recall Notice
Global Garlic Inc. Recalls "Queso Freso/Whole Milk Cheese" Because of Possible Health Risk
For Immediate Release
May 30, 2017

Bakery Recall Pepperoni Rolls After Receiving Foreign Object Complaints

An Ohio establishment is recalling 3.000 lbs of frozen, ready-to-eat, beef and pork pepperoni rolls  a bakery product, after receiving three complaints of clear meat casings in the product.  So did someone not remove the casing from the pepperoni before slicing?

USDA Recall Notice
P&S Bakery, Inc. Recalls Pepperoni Product Due to Possible Foreign Matter Contamination
Class I Recall 058-2017

Health Risk: High Jun 2, 2017
En Español

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

WASHINGTON, June 2, 2017– P&S Bakery, Inc., a Poland, Ohio establishment, is recalling approximately 2,959 pounds of pepperoni product that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically clear meat casing utilized in food production, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

FDA Delays Compliance Dates for Agricultural Water as Part of FSMA Produce Safety Rule

The FDA announced that it is planning to extend the deadline for compliance to agricultural water standards used in irrigation as part of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule .  Irrigation water can be a source of pathogens, but it is not an easy to control, especially when that water comes from surface waters.  Work done here at Penn State by Luke LaBorde etal (ref below) found that it was hard to make a connection between water standards and pathogen levels.  So testing water to see if it meets standards that may not mean much in terms of the pathogens present.  It is easy to see how environmental factors will constantly change...whether that be the occasional presence of animals, the amount of rainfall, the amount of sunshine, etc.

For more information on irrigation water, visit the Penn State Extension Website -

Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Updates
FDA Intends to Extend Compliance Dates for Agricultural Water Standards

Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it is exploring ways to simplify the agricultural water standards established by the Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA) produce safety rule (PSR) after receiving feedback from stakeholders that some of the requirements are too complex to understand and implement.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Backyard Chicken Flocks Result in Numerous Salmonella Outbreaks

CDC reports that since the beginning of this year, there have been 8 Salmonella outbreaks related to backyard chickens. Within that, there have been 372 people infected and 71 of those cases resulting in hospitalization.

Poultry is a risk for Salmonella as well as Campylobacter.  People with backyard flocks, they are apt to treat the birds more as pets than farm animals, and with that, forget the need for proper personal hygiene including proper washing of hands, changing of clothes that are poop stained, and even removing shoes after stepping in bird dropping.  And even further, people increase the risk when they allow the birds to come inside their house or they snuggle with the birds.

CDC Zoontotic Diseases - Outbreak Advisory
Multistate Outbreaks of Human Salmonella Infections Linked to Live Poultry in Backyard Flocks, 2017

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Canadian Produced Flour Recalled for E. coli O121

Smucker Foods of Canada is recalling flour produced at Ardent Mills in Saskatoon SK, Canada for the potential to be contaminated by E. coli O121.  Impacted product is packaged in 20 lb. paper bags and was distributed nationwide to 19 distributors and two small retailers.  There have been no reported illnesses in the US.

This recall relates to a Canadian recall issued in March.  This recall was expanded in April to include product produced by Ardent Mills.

FDA Recall Notice
Smucker Foods of Canada Corp. Announces a Voluntary Recall on Select Golden Temple®, Swad®, and Maya® Flour Products in the U.S. Due to Possible E. Coli 0121 Contamination
For Immediate Release

May 31, 2017

CDC Report - Fourteen Consume Toxic Mushrooms in California

From CDC - In December of 2016, there were 14 cases of mushroom poisoning that took place in California.  "Eleven patients recovered, although three required liver transplants because of irreversible fulminant hepatic failure. One of those patients, a child, developed cerebral edema and suffered permanent neurologic sequelae."

Weather conditions provided conditions for Amanita phalloides, also known as  “death cap", to grow in the region.  The primary toxin, α-amanitin, causes damage to liver and kidney.  The toxin is heat stable and so is not destroyed by cooking.  It is interesting to note that people are initially sick with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, then feel better, then are sick again with potential kidney damage.

Amanita is mistaken for edible Agaricus (wood mushrooms or field mushrooms).
Source -

Deathcap in a spruce wood, West Wales
Amanita phalloides - Death Cap (

Field Mushrooms, Agaricus campestris, in Wales
Agaricus campestris L. - Field Mushroom (
Agaricus silvicola - Wood Mushroom
Agaricus silvicola  - Wood Mushroom (

It is important that people who pick wild mushrooms can properly identify them.  If someone gives you mushrooms.....just don't take them unless you know without a doubt that they can properly identify mushrooms, or you can properly identify wild mushrooms.

CDC - MMWR (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
Amanita phalloides Mushroom Poisonings — Northern California, December 2016
Weekly / June 2, 2017 / 66(21);549–553

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Preparing for a FSMA Audit from FoodOnline

A recent article in FoodOnline (an informative online journal you should subscribe to if you haven't already) discusses how Kraft Heinz prepares for FDA FSMA inspections. A few key points brought up in this article are similar to what we have been hearing about from our industry friends about their recent audits.

A summary of what this company's regulatory affairs manager discussed about their company's experiences:
  • 'Inspectors are calling these ‘routine FSMA inspections' and are not distinguishing between Preventive Controls and modernized GMP inspections' 
  • These audits are generally more focused on high-risk products.
  • Auditors had visited 7 of these audits - one full Preventive Controls inspection and six modernized GMP audits.
  • Generally there are three inspectors.
  • Audits have lasted 1 to 5 days, mostly 4 to 5 days.
  • Four of the seven audits included swabathons (100 to 150 swabs), which included Zone 1 (30%), Zone 2 (20%) and Zone 3 (50%).  No zone 4.
  • There is a focus on the company's environmental monitoring program including the records and corrective actions on positvie results.
  • With regard to verification activities, they are focusing on records including corrective action logs, production schedules, sanitation records, and calibrating inspection equipment records.
  • With regard to the Preventive Control plan, inspectors are reviewing the hazard analysis with questions on the justification behind each of the identified hazards.
  • There is also a review of the written recall plan.
  • Recently there is attention on the supply chain program.
  • Review of handling of byproducts used for animal feed, consumer complaint handling, and FSPCA training looking for certificates of completion.
An interesting item in the article is that FDA will want to take photos in the facility, so a company needs to have a policy to address this.  The same goes with photocopying records.

Source: Food Online 
Inside Kraft Heinz's FSMA Inspection Readiness 
By Sam Lewis, associate editor
Follow Me On Twitter @SamIAmOnFood

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Breakfast Sausage Recalled Due to the Potential for Metal Foreign Material

A Kansas establishment is recalling 90,000 lbs of RTE breakfast sausage for metal pieces after "another FSIS-regulated establishment that pieces of metal were embedded in a fully cooked sausage product".

Over the past year, there has been an increasing amount of recalls due to foreign objects.  While these foreign objects may not result in any major injuries, the cost of conducting a recall warrants companies putting in more effort in foreign object control.  This goes beyond just having a metal detector installed into the process.

First, many metal detectors do not get the attention they need.  A really nice guide for metal detectors is "The Guide to Reducing Metal Contamination in the Food Processing Industry" published by Safeline.  

X-ray equipment is much more affordable than it once was, and it can pick-up items metal detectors can't, such as glass, hard plastic, stones, etc.  They are even suitable for metal and foil containers.

But detection is just one part of a foreign object control program.  Other important elements include raw material inspection, preventive maintenance, employee training to prevent accidental drops, and controls at ingredient addition steps to prevent foreign material from packaging and inline preventive devices such as magnets and sifters.

All of these systems need to be properly maintained and verified for performance.  Additionally, consumer complaints must be reviewed with an investigation and appropriate corrective action for any foreign material issues.

USDA / FSIS Recall Notice
Armour Eckrich Meats, LLC Recalls Ready-To-Eat Sausage Products Due to Possible Foreign Matter Contamination
Class II Recall 054-2017
Health Risk: Low 
May 24, 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

Packaged Salad Items Recalled Due to Metal Pieces from Construction

A NY based produce company is recalling salad products due to the potential for metal pieces.  The metal was said to be generated from construction activities. 

Many facilities carryout construction activities while they are producing products.  However, it is critical to protect product from contamination.  Metal pieces can easily be shot over wide areas during construction activities such as grinding and wielding.

BrightFarms is an interesting company.   Based in NY, the company is building huge hydroponic greenhouses in various market areas in order to grow produce locally to supply those markets.  [Story below].

FDA Recall Notice
Brightfarms Announces Voluntary Regional Recall of Produce Due to Potential Presence of Metal Pieces From Construction
For Immediate Release
May 18, 2017

One Man Dead, A Mom Still Hospitalized after Three Weeks, Both Consumed Contaminated Nacho Cheese Sauce

One woman's story, associated with the botulism in gas station nacho sauce case, highlights the issues for someone with botulism poisoning.  A few hours after eating Doritos drizzled with nacho cheese sauce, she felt fatigue and by the next day, she had blurred vision followed by vomiting and difficulty in breathing.  These symptoms are caused by the  neurotoxin produced by Clostridium botulinum as it grew in the nacho cheese sauce. Once the toxin contaminated food is consumed, "Botulinum toxin causes flaccid paralysis by blocking motor nerve terminals at the neuromuscular junction. The flaccid paralysis progresses symmetrically downward, usually starting with the eyes and face, to the throat, chest, and extremities. When the diaphragm and chest muscles become fully involved, respiration is inhibited and, without intervention, death from asphyxia results". (FDA Bad Bug Book)

There has also been one death being associated with the tainted nacho cheese.  A man had been on life support.  This has not yet been confirmed by State officials.

There are now 10 people that have been affected from eating at this establishment.

Sacramento Bee
Mom put nacho cheese on her Doritos. Three weeks later, she’s still in the hospital.
By Sammy Caiola
May 16, 2017

Meat Processor Recalls Hot Dogs After Receiving Three Complaints for Metal

An Ohio meat processor is recalling 210,000 lbs of  hot dogs after 'the establishment received three complaints of metal objects in the beef frank product package'.

USDA / FSIS Recall Notice
John Morrell and Co. Recalls Beef Frank Products Due to Possible Foreign Matter Contamination
Class II Recall 052-2017
Health Risk: Low May 19, 2017

WA Institutional Food Processor Recalls Food After Learning of Water Contamination Issue

A Washington state establishment which manufacturers food for correctional facilities, senior centers, and county jails, is recalling 319, 000 lbs of food after being notified by the local water authority that the well water used to manufacture their products may be contaminated with hazardous chemicals. This contamination issue also affects the local city's drinking water.

The chemicals, Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), originated from the local Air Force base where they were used in fire fighting spray.  While these chemicals are above EPA standards, there are no food safety regulations. The EPA classifies these as emerging contaminants.with a limit of 70 parts per trillion.  The wells were found to have 1100 parts per trillion.  The chemicals do not have an acute affect at this level, but the concern is for cumulative exposure where they can cause liver damage, cancer, among other negative health affects.  

It is important to understand where a facility's water comes from and potential contamination issues, even if it is municipal water and/or well water.  Are the wells in areas where there has been past contamination issues?  What is the depth of the well?  How often is the water monitored and what is it monitored for?

UDSA /FSIS Recall Notice
Correctional Industries Airway Heights Food Operations Recalls Frozen Meat and Poultry Products Due to Water Contamination
Class II Recall 053-2017
Health Risk: Low May 20, 2017

Monday, May 15, 2017

Nacho Cheese Sauce Probable Source of Gas Station Botulism Cases

Public Health officials in CA believe the source of the botulism cases that occurred from eating at a gas station to be the nacho cheese sauce product.  Most cheese sauce products are made to be shelf-stable for distribution, but once opened, most products may need to be stored at the proper temperatures (outside of the temperature danger zone) to prevent growth. Much of this depends on the formulation (pH, Aw, preservatives).  They also have to be protected against cross contamination.

It difficult to tell whether these product were not properly formulated or were improperly held,  One could guess that the cheese sauce was not properly stored or handled after opening, allowing for a small amount of contamination to grow.  It may have been transferred from a pouch to a canister or serving trey.  For Clostridium botulinun, intoxication to occur, the organism would need to grow in number to produce sufficient toxin.  The product itself would need to be formulated to allow growth and that product would also need to be held at improper temperatures, most likely in the upper part of the temperature danger zone (70F to 125F).

With a thick product like this, people may assume it is like ketchup or mustard that can be left at room temperature after opening....not unless it was formulated that way.  Generally cheese sauce have a higher pH and Aw.   Another potential issue can occur if these products are modified in any way.  Adding peppers or other raw ingredients can be an issue.  Adding water to the product can also be an issue....such as might be the case if the product thickened up after sitting on the hot bar all day.

Sacramento Bee
Nacho cheese to blame for rare botulism outbreak at Sacramento area gas station
By Sammy Caiola
May 10, 2017

Canadian Firm Recalls Frozen Breaded Chicken Products for Potential Staph Aureus Enterotoxin

A Canadian firm is recalling breaded chicken products for Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin.  Product was distributed in Ontario.  No illnesses have been reported.

The issue with Staphylococcus is that the organism  can grow in the batter if that batter is temperature abused.  As the organism grows to high numbers, it produced a heat stable toxin.  So once there, the fryer used to set the coasting at the manufacturing facility as well as any cooking done in the home by the consumer will not eliminate that toxin.. It is critical (thus a CCP / Process Preventive Control) for facilities to control batter temperature throughout the day.

Food Recall Warning - Various breaded chicken products recalled by Maple Leaf Foods due to a toxin produced by Staphylococcus bacteria
Recall date:May 9, 2017 
Reason for recall:Microbiological - Staphylococcus aureus .

Fresh Bagged Spinach Recalled for Listeria Contamination

A KY company is recalling bags of fresh spinach after being notified by their supplier partner that the spinach may have Listeria contamination.  According to the report, "The products were distributed in North Carolina, Illinois, Kentucky and West Virginia and distributed through retail stores, wholesale and foodservice distributors."

FDA Recall notice
The Horton Fruit Company, Inc. Issues Voluntary Recall of Fresh Spinach Because of Possible Health Risk
For Immediate Release
May 12, 2017

Frozen Peas Recalled After Sample Tests Positive for Listeria

A Wisconsin frozen food company is recalling frozen peas after product was tested by the State of Florida and found to contain Listeria.

While we would expect that someone would cook frozen peas, which if done according to instructions, would eliminate Listeria, people may not always do that.  Or they may use them as raw in specific applications such as pea salad or in a smoothie.

FDA Recall Notice
Lakeside Foods, Inc. Recalls Season's Choice Frozen Sweet Peas Because of Possible Health RiskFor Immediate Release
April 11, 2017

RTE Burrito Products Recalled for Listeria Contamination.

A New Mexico food company is recalling 252,000 lbs of frozen burrito products after FSIS testing found a Listeria positive product sample.  The product is classified as a ready-to-eat product, and as a ready-to-eat product, the company would need to have an active Listeria control program.   With this much product recalled, it probably was not that 'active'.

The directions are heat-and-serve for both frozen and thawed product.

USDA / FSIS Recall Notice
Green Chile Food Company Recalls Meat and Poultry Burrito Products Due to Possible Listeria Contamination
Class I Recall 050-2017
Health Risk: High 
May 13, 2017

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Home Delivered Meat - Buyer Beware

A recent study conducted by RU and TSU looks at issues involving meat shipped to homes via home delivery systems such as meal kits.   These issues include:
  • A wide range of temperatures upon receipt, ranging from (-)23F to 75F.  Much of the issue was related to the type of coolant (dry ice best, gel packs worst) and the amount of insulating packaging material surrounding the product.
  • Most home delivery companies did not require receipt upon delivery, which means that product can sit on the front porch until the home owner realizes it is there.  This can be an issue when the product is shipped as a surprise gift, so the recipient is not expecting it.
  • Home delivery companies did not have food safety information on their website
  • Products were not properly labeled to indicate the type of meat.
  • Microbial loads varied greatly. Pathogen loads varied greatly.
The authors stated that the bigger, better known companies did a better job, but with many companies entering the business channel, there may be more concern.

In the end, buyer beware.

Study of meat from home delivery services shows disturbing results
By Rita Jane Gabbett on 5/11/2017