National Chicken Council petitions FSIS for labelling law for frozen chicken thingies

Labels aren’t the same as risk communication. And it’s not clear how effective they are as behavior change vehicles.

Information and safe handling labels can provide the basics, if developed in a science-based manner, but as the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection said in 2014, risk communication folks should really be involved in message crafting and evaluating effectiveness.

The frozen chicken thingie outbreaks are starting to matter. Like these two in 2015.Barber-Foods-stuffed-chicken-breasts

In an effort to ensure safe eating experiences and address potential consumer confusion, the National Chicken Council (NCC) has petitioned the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) for mandatory labelling of raw, stuffed chicken products that may appear cooked and ready-to-eat.

Specifically, NCC is requesting that the agency take the following actions:

Conduct a rulemaking to adopt a regulation requiring that not-ready-to-eat stuffed chicken breast products that appear ready-to-eat be prominently and uniformly labelled to clearly inform consumers that the products are raw and how to properly handle and cook them; and

Publish a Compliance Guideline explaining how to validate cooking instructions for not-ready-to-eat stuffed chicken breast products that appear ready-to-eat, which incorporates NCC’s “Best Practices for Cooking Instruction Validation for Frozen NRTE Stuffed Chicken Breast Products.”

“NCC increasingly is aware that some consumers may be uncertain of the proper handling and cooking methods for not-ready-to-eat stuffed chicken breast products that may appear ready-to-eat, and the proposed measures are necessary to ensure proper handling and cooking of these products,” said NCC President Mike Brown in the petition.

“This labelling would clearly inform consumers that these products are raw and require proper cooking while providing specific and uniform instructions on how to cook the products.”

FSIS has had labeling guidance out for a while. Making it a rule will help with consistency of info but it’s not a magic bullet.

Oh, and this:

Self-reported and observed behavior of primary meal preparers and adolescents during preparation of frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products
01.nov.09
British Food Journal, Vol 111, Issue 9, p 915-929
Sarah DeDonder, Casey J. Jacob, Brae V. Surgeoner, Benjamin Chapman, Randall Phebus, Douglas A. Powell
http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do;jsessionid=6146E6AFABCC349C376B7E55A3866D4A?contentType=Article&contentId=1811820
Abstract:
Purpose – The purpose of the present study was to observe the preparation practices of both adult and young consumers using frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products, which were previously involved in outbreaks linked to consumer mishandling. The study also sought to observe behaviors of adolescents as home food preparers. Finally, the study aimed to compare food handler behaviors with those prescribed on product labels.
Design/methodology/approach – The study sought, through video observation and self-report surveys, to determine if differences exist between consumers’ intent and actual behavior.
Findings – A survey study of consumer reactions to safe food-handling labels on raw meat and poultry products suggested that instructions for safe handling found on labels had only limited influence on consumer practices. The labels studied by these researchers were found on the packaging of chicken products examined in the current study alongside step-by-step cooking instructions. Observational techniques, as mentioned above, provide a different perception of consumer behaviors.
Originality/value – This paper finds areas that have not been studied in previous observational research and is an excellent addition to existing literature.

Could Alzheimer’s stem from infections like Salmonella

Gina Kolata of The New York Times reports on new research by a team of investigators at Harvard which suggests Alzheimer’s disease stems from the toxic remnants of the brain’s attempt to fight off infection.

salm.alzIt is still early days, but Alzheimer’s experts not associated with the work are captivated by the idea that infections, including ones that are too mild to elicit symptoms, may produce a fierce reaction that leaves debris in the brain, causing Alzheimer’s. The idea is surprising, but it makes sense, and the Harvard group’s data, published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine, supports it. If it holds up, the hypothesis has major implications for preventing and treating this degenerative brain disease.

The Harvard researchers report a scenario seemingly out of science fiction. A virus, fungus or bacterium gets into the brain, passing through a membrane — the blood-brain barrier — that becomes leaky as people age. The brain’s defense system rushes in to stop the invader by making a sticky cage out of proteins, called beta amyloid. The microbe, like a fly in a spider web, becomes trapped in the cage and dies. What is left behind is the cage — a plaque that is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

So far, the group has confirmed this hypothesis in neurons growing in petri dishes as well as in yeast, roundworms, fruit flies and mice. There is much more work to be done to determine if a similar sequence happens in humans, but plans — and funding — are in place to start those studies, involving a multicenter project that will examine human brains.

“It’s interesting and provocative,” said Dr. Michael W. Weiner, a radiology professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and a principal investigator of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, a large national effort to track the progression of the disease and look for biomarkers like blood proteins and brain imaging to signal the disease’s presence.

The work began when Robert D. Moir, of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, had an idea about the function of amyloid proteins, normal brain proteins whose role had long been a mystery.

The proteins were traditionally thought to be garbage that accumulates in the brain with age. But Dr. Moir noticed that they looked a lot like proteins of the innate immune system, a primitive system that is the body’s first line of defense against infections.

Elsewhere in the body, such proteins trap microbes — viruses, fungi, yeast and bacteria. Then white blood cells come by and clear up the mess. Perhaps amyloid was part of this system, Dr. Moir thought.

glen-campbell-ill-be-me-movie-reviewHe began collaborating with Rudolph E. Tanzi, also at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, in a study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. The idea was to see if amyloid trapped microbes in living animals and if mice without amyloid proteins were quickly ravaged by infections that amyloid could have stopped.

The answers, they reported, were yes and yes.

In one study, the group injected Salmonella bacteria into the brains of young mice that did not have plaques.

“Overnight, the bacteria seeded plaques,” Dr. Tanzi said. “The hippocampus was full of plaques, and each plaque had a single bacterium at its center.”

In contrast, mice that did not make beta amyloid succumbed more quickly to the bacterial infection, and did not make plaques.

Scientists find ancient Welsh beer recipe that could treat food poisoning

While breweries in China may date back 5,000 years, a 16th century Welsh drink has been found to contain antibacterial properties that could help fight food poisoning.

stream_imgScientists at Cardiff University hope to create a “super mead” using a mixture of herbs that can tackle salmonella.

“We’re actually running out of antibiotics now, so it’s imperative that we identify new products that are active against these bacteria, especially the likes of salmonella and e-coli which are causing problems all over the country and indeed the world…”

– Dr James Blaxland, Cardiff University

The scientists have been trying to work out how to make a so-called ‘super honey’.

They’ve found with a mix of herbs that together can fight bacteria like salmonella.

“Back in the sixteenth century, there was a Welsh drink called metheglin. Metheglin translates into ‘healing liquor’.

Basically, it’s mead… alcoholic mead that we drink… combined with medicinal herbs.

What we are trying to do is identify those medicinal herbs that we could add to the mead to make a drink that was antibacterial.”

– Prof Les Baillie, Cardiff University

They hope combining Welsh history with science being done in Wales could lead to new and effective drugs.

Pasteurization works, and Salmonella is not a magical ingredient of raw milk

My version of the 90-10 rule: 90 per cent of time is spent on 10 per cent of participants, whether it’s hockey parents, graduate students, or public health.

napoleon.raw.milkSo once again, raw milk and cream produced by a Fresno County-based dairy company were recalled Monday due to salmonella, the California Department of Food and Agriculture said.

Salmonella was detected by the CDFA in Organic Pastures Dairy’s Raw Heavy Cream, Raw Whole Milk and Raw Skim Milk with the “USE BY” date of June 1, 2016.

The dairy products should be immediately pulled from retail shelves and consumers are urged to throw out any products in their homes, the CDFA said.

The salmonella bacteria was found during a follow-up test to an earlier recall. On May 9, Organic Pastures Dairy’s products with “USE BY” date May 18, 2016, were recalled also due to salmonella.

1900 sickened: DeCosters appeal jail time in Salmonella egg case

Austin “Jack” DeCoster and Peter DeCoster were sentenced April 13, 2015 to three months in prison for introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce after eggs from their Iowa farms were linked to a 2010 national salmonella outbreak which sickened at least 1,900 people.

decostersU.S. District Court Judge Mark Bennett required the father and son to complete a year of probation following prison and pay $100,000 each. The DeCosters’s former company, Quality Egg LLC, was fined nearly $6.8 million.

More than 1,900 people across the country reported getting sick from Salmonella enteritidis linked to tainted eggs supplied by Quality Egg. The companies recalled 550 million eggs nationwide.

Quality Egg pleaded guilty in June 2014 to bribing public officials and misbranding eggs to make them appear fresher.

The DeCosters’s sentences — especially the prison time — were viewed as a warning to other food producers.

Jack DeCoster, 82, of Turner, Maine, and Peter DeCoster, 52, of Clarion, are now trying to get out of their jail time. They filed an appeal April 27, 2015, asking the U.S. District Court of Appeals 8th Circuit to remove incarceration from their sentence.

“They’re arguing that, based upon the type of offense, any sentence of jail time is not appropriate,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan said last week.

Pro-business groups, including the Cato Institute and the National Association of Manufacturers, filed briefs in support of the DeCosters, arguing executives shouldn’t serve jail time for this type of crime.

“If executives can be imprisoned for criminal violations of strict liability laws by virtue of the position they hold within a company, the United States economy would suffer,” attorneys for Cato and the manufacturing association argued. “Executive business decisions would be motivated less by good business principles and more by fear of possible future prison sentences.”

The 8th Circuit heard oral arguments in the appeal March 17 in St. Paul, Minn., and the parties are now waiting for a decision.

Salmonella in organic shake: Gift that keeps on giving

A confirmed case of Salmonella in Wisconsin likely resulted from consumption of an organic shake and meal replacement that was recalled earlier this year, state officials said Friday.

Garden of Life Organic Shake & Meal ReplacementThe recalled product, Garden of Life RAW Meal, has been acquired by consumers from Internet retailers such as eBay and Amazon, according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

People should not consume the product if it is from the lot codes listed in the previous recall announcements found on the FDA Recall website .

Consumers should dispose of the product or follow the instructions given in the original recall notices found on the FDA website.

So much for going back to sleep: After 300 sickened with Salmonella from sprouts, another positive linked to same Adelaide facility

At the end of April 2016, South Australia Health’s chief medical officer Paddy Phillips said after an outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul linked to sprouts sickened over 300, “This business was completely compliant with all our investigations and there is no reason to believe there are any further issues with the production of bean sprouts at this factory.”

salm.sprout.adelaide.This is the factory (right, exactly as shown). I keep saying it’s like 1978 here, and there’s probably a VW microbus out back loaded with Salmonella-infectd sprout plants.

Today, SA Health is once again urging the public to throw out their bean sprouts after a dramatic surge in salmonella cases and discovery of the dangerous bacteria in packaged sprouts sold by Thebarton producer Star Tu — the second time it has been detected at the producer this year.

Officials have ordered Star Tu to recall all of its products and stop selling immediately after Salmonella Saintpaul samples were found in packaged bean sprouts.

A packager of Star Tu products, Sunshine Sprouts, has also been ordered by SA Health to stop selling any products containing Star Tu mung bean sprouts.

SA Health chief public health officer Professor Paddy Phillips said the public should either throw out their bean sprouts or return them to the place of purchase.

Since the start of last December there have been 271 cases of confirmed Salmonella Saintpaul notified to SA Health resulting in 47 people being admitted to hospital.

South Australia usually sees around 15 to 20 cases each year.

sprout.adelaide“Our investigations then led us to the Star Tu factory and we found a positive Salmonella sample taken from a piece of equipment. Once this was cleaned and further inspections took place there was no evidence indicating any further risk.

Dumbass.

Finding Salmonella on a piece of equipment in no way provides confidence that the problem has been solved and shows a complete lack of knowledge of how raw sprouts become contaminated at seed.

But that’s why Paddy gets the big bucks.

“Yesterday it was confirmed that since these investigations, five sealed bags produced by Star Tu were contaminated with Salmonella, and given this new evidence we have issued this factory with an order to recall and stop selling. We are also today advising South Australians to either throw out their bean sprouts or return them to the place of purchase and we are recalling all products that have come from this factory.

Li Tu, whose family owns the Star Tu business, said it had been “growing and distributing high quality bean sprouts for over 20 years”.

“As well as meeting SA Health standards, we also have had robust food safety programs since 1999 with annual checks and inspections,” he said.

Unknown“Our factory was described as being as clean as a hospital by one of SA Health’s employees.

“We’re obviously not in the business of making people sick so we do not take this matter lightly. We are working closely with SA Health to find the source of the problem.”

Bullshit.

Raw sprouts are an unnecessary health hazard. But they are happily served up at hospitals and aged-care facilities and other places where the immunocompromised can be found in oblivious Australia.

An updated table of raw sprout related outbreaks is available at: http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Sprout-associated-outbreaks-4-27-16.xlsx

Never underestimate the power of denial.

Erdozain, M.S., Allen, K.J., Morley, K.A. and Powell, D.A. 2012. Failures in sprouts-related risk communication. Food Control. 10.1016/j.foodcont.2012.08.022

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713512004707?v=s5

Nutritional and perceived health benefits have contributed to the increasing popularity of raw sprouted seed products. In the past two decades, sprouted seeds have been a recurring food safety concern, with at least 55 documented foodborne outbreaks affecting more than 15,000 people. A compilation of selected publications was used to yield an analysis of the evolving safety and risk communication related to raw sprouts, including microbiological safety, efforts to improve production practices, and effectiveness of communication prior to, during, and after sprout-related outbreaks. Scientific investigation and media coverage of sprout-related outbreaks has led to improved production guidelines and public health enforcement actions, yet continued outbreaks call into question the effectiveness of risk management strategies and producer compliance. Raw sprouts remain a high-risk product and avoidance or thorough cooking are the only ways that consumers can reduce risk; even thorough cooking messages fail to acknowledge the risk of cross-contamination. Risk communication messages have been inconsistent over time with Canadian and U.S. governments finally aligning their messages in the past five years, telling consumers to avoid sprouts. Yet consumer and industry awareness of risk remains low. To minimize health risks linked to the consumption of sprout products, local and national public health agencies, restaurants, retailers and producers need validated, consistent and repeated risk messaging through a variety of sources.

sprouts.adelaide

Stop kissing small turtles: 133 sick from four multistate outbreaks of human Salmonella

Since 2015, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, multiple states, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine have investigated four separate multistate outbreaks of human Salmonella infections linked to contact with small turtles.

turtle.kissIn the four outbreaks, a total of 133 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella were reported from 26 states between January 16, 2015 and April 8, 2016:

  • 38 ill people were hospitalized, and no deaths were reported;
  • 41% of ill people were children 5 years of age or younger; and,
  • epidemiologic and laboratory findings linked the four outbreaks of human Salmonella infections to contact with small turtles or their environments, such as water from a turtle habitat.

Since 1975, the FDA has banned the sale and distribution of turtles with a shell length of less than 4 inches in size as pets because they are often linked to Salmonella infections, especially in young children.

Small turtles should not be purchased as pets or given as gifts.

All turtles, regardless of size, can carry Salmonella bacteria even if they look healthy and clean. These outbreaks are a reminder to follow simple steps to enjoy pet reptiles and keep your family healthy.

It’s not simple or so many people wouldn’t get sick – so many little kids.

The outbreak is expected to continue at a low level for the next several months since consumers might be unaware of the risk of Salmonella infection from small turtles. If properly cared for, turtles have a long life expectancy.

FSIS releases final mechanically tenderized beef labeling rule

I don’t order steaks at restaurants very often; it’s not for safety reasons, it’s because I can buy good ribeye or fillet and grill it at home.china_use_2

About once a week I make a spinach salad with pears, blue cheese and toasted walnuts served with sliced steak. I like to sear the outside to about 220F – and keep the inside around 130F. Something I can do with little risk if my meat is fully intact.

I don’t buy mechanically tenderized meat.

At least I don’t think I do. As a consumer, up until now I’ve been at the mercy of the butcher/meat counter. I ask questions. Folks tell me it’s not tenderized.

Soon, I’ll be able to look for a label. According to Meating Place, USDA FSIS’s final rule on mechanically tenderized beef labeling was just released.

The rule was two years in the making and requires that the product names of the affected products include the descriptive designation “mechanically tenderized,” “blade tenderized” or “needle tenderized.” Raw products that are destined for foodservice or home cooking have to include cooking instructions that recommend that mechanically tenderized beef be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees followed by a three-minute rest time.

The new rule is intended to address issues with the blades or needles used to mechanically tenderized meat cuts, which can introduce pathogens from the surface of the meat into the interior. If not fully cooked, then, the pathogens could make diners sick the same way a rare or medium rare burger can.
Consumers have been getting messages about fully cooking their burgers, however, whereas they are more likely to cook mechanically tenderized steak on the rare side, the same they way would with an intact cut.

About 11 percent, or 2.6 billion pounds, of beef products sold in the U.S. have been mechanically tenderized, according to USDA data. Deputy Undersecretary Al Almanza said the new rule comes in response to six outbreaks of illnesses linked to bacterial contamination in mechanically tenderized meat since 2000.

Poop soup: Don’t feed geese signs do little at Anchorage park pond

Rick Sinnott, a former Alaska Department of Fish and Game wildlife biologist, writes that last summer Thom Eley watched, dumbfounded, as a couple visiting the playground at Anchorage’s Cuddy Family Midtown Park changed their child’s diaper and threw the soiled one into the park’s centerpiece.

GOOSEDOGS03PCTY-joker“The mother took the folded-and-loaded diaper,” Eley says, “and heaved it into Cuddy Pond with a kerplunk,” then hurried out of the area. The park, Eley observed, has no shortage of trash cans. But he also noted a considerable amount of trash – plastic bottles, cups, and bags – floating in a layer of scum on the pond surface. Maybe the couple thought the pond was the place to toss out a dirty diaper.

Eley’s spouse, Cherie Northon, is less worried about the poopy diaper than she is about all the duck and goose feces dissolved in the pond. When Northon raised the issue in 2012, she realized local, state, and federal agency staff familiar with the Cuddy Park pond were also concerned, but no one stepped forward to coordinate its cleanup. “Everybody complained about it,” Northon recalled, “but nobody was doing anything.”

Northon is executive director of Anchorage Waterways Council, a nonprofit that works to protect and restore water bodies and wetlands in the city. Eley is a board member.

The council is trying to focus the attention of various agencies and the public on the growing problem.

According to Northon, while water flowing into the pond had relatively low levels of bacteria in August 2015, samples taken across the pond found levels of more than 40 times higher than the maximum concentration of E. coli bacteria allowed by the state for bodies of water used for recreation. Other potentially dangerous bacteria have been found in similar concentrations. In other words, don’t touch the stuff, it’s poop soup (also loaded with Salmonella and Campylobacter)

On a recent sunny Sunday, I found the park full of people. An ice cream truck in the parking lot piped out music.

geese.control.dogsThe pond and nearby lawns were alive with Canada geese, at least 350 by my count. Small clots of geese gathered near people on the path. Many, perhaps most, of the people were feeding geese. That’s no surprise. Cuddy Park has become the city’s unofficial goose- and duck-feeding venue.

I suggest doing what gold courses do: get a couple of Australian shepherds. They love nothing more than chasing geese if there are no sheep to herd.