Utah food freedom politician says market will take care of food safety

“I saw Wyoming do this last year, and I thought ‘Hey, that’s a cool bill. That’s a cool idea,’”

Food-FreedomThis might not be the best way to make food safety rules.

Folks who want to make food in their home or garage and sell it are part of a growing business segment. By many accounts, the cottage food industry is growing in North America. Twenty U.S. states allow certain foods to be processed in the home and sold for consumption – but it’s a patchwork of regulatory approaches.

According to City Weekly, Utah politician Rep. Marc Roberts wants to exempt food producers who sell direct to the public from regulations. Including some high-risk products like dairy and poultry.

Government regulations set the bar of the lowest acceptable level of risk reduction.

No regulation = no bar. Rep. Roberts says no problem, the market will take care of it.

While Roberts says that under his bill, consumers would be encouraged to talk with the producers to find out how the poultry or dairy is produced, he does concede that if his bill were to become law and the safety inspections were removed, there’s nothing that would prevent a producer from lying to customers about their process. “That’s where the market is a beautiful thing in my opinion,” says Roberts, “why would a producer sell [tainted] food because his interest is to make sure his customers are healthy. So yes, you could get sick. There’s always going to be bad players in the market—in any market. But by-and-large, [producers’] incentive is to make sure their customers are healthy and happy.”

Yeah, unless the producer doesn’t know what hazards they should be controlling, or how to control them. Or doesn’t care.

I prefer prevention rather than relying on market corrections post-illness, long term sequelae or death.

Risk reduction is better than zero tolerance: USDA finalizes new food safety measures to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry

While you’re scarfing down wings and that beverage Americans call beer during the Super Bowl, be content to know that the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has framed new rules with an aim to lessen salmonella and campylobacter in ground chicken and turkey products. The FSIS has updated its microbial testing schedule at poultry facilities and will start the provision of online updates of individual companies’ food safety performance.

buffalo.wild.wingsThe new rulings demand that the companies have to reduce the frequency of contaminated chicken parts to 15% or less. The new standard has also levied limits for turkey and ground meat products. Alfred Almanza, the USDA’s deputy undersecretary for food safety, was of the view that after a year of testing, the USDA will start posing the test results from every poultries.

“[This] is not a good thing for them, if they’re failing. So those are pretty significant deterrents, or incentives for them to meet or exceed our standard”, affirmed Almanza. But as per some, there is a lot of guesswork required in the calculation.

As part of this move to make chicken and turkey items that Americans frequently purchase safer to eat, FSIS has also updated its microbial testing schedule at poultry facilities and will soon begin posting more information online about individual companies’ food safety performance.

Nosestretcher alert: With 74 now sick from Salmonella in bagged lettuce, spokesthingy says, ‘it’s safe.’ Where’s the data

Australians have been assured prepacked lettuce on retail shelves is safe to eat as the number of salmonella cases linked to some products grows.

lettuce.skull.noroFresh Produce Safety Centre technology manager Richard Bennett said consumers shouldn’t worry about potentially tainted lettuce unless it had been sitting in their refrigerators (disclaimer — I gave a talk for this group a couple of years ago; weren’t interested in hard questions).

“Any product on the retail shelf now is fresh, safe and healthy,” Mr Bennett told AAP.

Mr Bennett said Australia was a leader in food safety and systems were usually able to prevent outbreaks of disease.

No, most of it doesn’t get reported.

The Australian Fresh Produce Safety Centre, a bastard child of the leafy greens marketing thingy or whatever they’re called in California, is following the same playbook of saying everything is OK, why are you looking at us?

Consumers deserve better.

41 sick from Salmonella in Kentucky

The Estill County Health Department says that they are investigating a Salmonella outbreak in the community.

shuttle.bus.vomitThere are 41 people sick and the Estill County Health Department says that 19 are confirmed Salmonella.

Six of those 19 cases have been hospitalized and three of those six are still in the hospital.

The Estill Co. Health Department is working with the State Health Department to find the source of the outbreak. They will DNA test the Salmonella to determine where it comes from. Those tests will be sent off Monday.

All 19 people with Salmonella had eaten at the same establishment in Irvine, but they had also had eaten at other establishments.

‘Never had a problem’ Colorado restaurant opens after Salmonella infection

A Basalt restaurant has reopened after voluntarily closing and working with environmental health officials when six people were infected with Salmonella after dining there, according to the Eagle County Public Health and Environment Department.

El Korita at Willits Town CenterEl Korita at Willits Town Center closed for five days on Jan. 21, according to Public Health Director Jennifer Ludwig. She said the restaurant owner and staff were extremely cooperative and sought the department’s guidance.

“They thoroughly disinfected the kitchen and all food contact surfaces and equipment; all employees attended food handler safety training, a few employees additionally completed an online course; and all employees were interviewed and tested by public health and environment team,” Ludwig said in an email. “They reopened on Tuesday, January 26.”

El Korita owner Beto Gamboa expressed frustration because he wants to know the cause of the Salmonella. He said he has been in business for 20 years and practiced safe preparation and handling of food. There has never been a previous problem, he said.

The closure cost him about $50,000, Gamboa said. He is waiting word on the problem. Ludwig said the investigation might never determine how the illness was caused.

The restaurant wasn’t forced to close by Eagle County or the Colorado Public Health Department, Ludwig said, and no clearance was needed to reopen.

Who eats these things? Can you add more adjectives? 11 sick Multistate outbreak of Salmonella Virchow infections linked to Garden of Life organic shake meal

As of February 1, 2016, 11 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Virchow have been reported from nine states.

raw-mealOne ill person has been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

The epidemiologic and laboratory evidence available at this time suggests that RAW Meal Organic Shake & Meal products made by Garden of Life, LLC are a likely source of this outbreak.

Of 10 ill people interviewed, 10 (100%) reported consuming powdered supplements or meal replacement powders in the week before illness onset, and all 10 (100%) specifically reported consuming Garden of Life RAW Meal products.

Utah and Oregon health officials reported that Salmonella was isolated from open containers of Garden of Life RAW Meal collected from ill people’s homes. Additional laboratory testing is ongoing to determine the DNA fingerprint of the Salmonella.

On January 29, 2016, Garden of Life, LLC voluntarily recalled a limited quantity of its RAW Meal Organic Shake & Meal products available in chocolate, original, vanilla, and vanilla chai because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella Virchow.

These products have a long shelf life and may still be in people’s homes.

Consumers should not eat and retailers should not sell recalled RAW Meal products.

A list of the recalled Garden of Life RAW Meal products is available on the Recall & Advice to Consumers and Retailers page.     

The recalled products were available for purchase nationwide in many retail stores and online.

This investigation is ongoing. Updates will be posted when more information is available.

54 sick: Salmonella in lettuce spreads in Australia

This is how bad public reporting of foodborne illness is in Australia.

lettuce.skull.noroRetailers, even with crappy Internet, we have cameras, and you’ll be found out.

An increasing number of Queenslanders claim they’ve been made ill from supermarket-bought salads in the wake of salmonella outbreak, but Woolworths and Coles insist there’s no problem with Queensland supply.

“The supplier in question does not supply into Queensland so there is no need to worry,” a Woolworths spokesman told The Courier-Mail.

While a Cole statement confirmed: “None of the recalled products are sold in Queensland, there is no cause for concern.”

It is believed Coles and Woolworths have stopped taking supplies from Tripod indefinitely.

Chelsea Bienke is just one of Queensland consumers who believe a bout of extreme vomiting and diarrhea was sparked after eating Woolworths lettuce.

The Brisbane woman and her sister were extremely ill for days after eating a meal with mixed salad.

“We had diarrhea for days and I was vomiting” Ms Bienke said.

“I felt like complete crap. I couldn’t go to work this week.”

She said she doubted claims that the product wouldn’t affect any customers.

“Well it’s strange how we bought the product last week and by Tuesday we were vomiting and had diarrhea,” Ms Bienke said.

“My niece who doesn’t eat the product is perfectly fine.”

Another Queenslander wrote on Coles’ Facebook page: “Are you sure Qld products are not affected. I bought spinach and rocket mix. My child has been unwell for three days.”

Another Brisbane mum posted on the same page: “You say Qld isn’t affected but my kids have been sick with headache and nausea. We eat your salads all the time and five of my six kids have been sick.

5 things to know about foodborne illness

Julie Jargon of The Wall Street Journal reports that roughly one in six Americans, or 48 million people, get sick each year from foodborne diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

happy-vomit1Approximately 128,000 of them are hospitalized and 3,000 die from the illnesses. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. CEO Steve Ells is making an all-out effort to revive his chain’s fortunes after contaminated ingredients caused a spate of such illnesses, as The Wall Street Journal reports in a Page One article.

Here are five things to know about foodborne illnesses, according to the CDC:

  1. Which food items account for the most illnesses?

Produce is the most common contributor to foodborne illnesses, accounting for 46% of them between 1998 and 2008, followed by meat and poultry, dairy and eggs and fish and shellfish.

  1. Which pathogens are most responsible?

Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness in the U.S., followed by salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, Campylobacter spp. and Staphylococcus aureus. The bacteria behind the Chipotle outbreak are called Shiga toxin-producing E.coli 026.

  1. How dangerous is E. coli 026?

This strain of E. coli can cause diarrhea and vomiting and sometimes lead to kidney failure. No one who contracted this kind of E. coli infection in the Chipotle outbreak died or was diagnosed with kidney failure, though 21 of the 55 ill people were hospitalized. A smaller E. coli outbreak sickened five more. Kidney failure and death is more often associated with the E. coli 0157 strain, which was the pathogen in the 1993 Jack in the Box outbreak that resulted in the deaths of four children.

  1. Is the rate of foodborne disease outbreaks growing?

Infections of E. coli O157 in 2014 decreased 32% when compared with 2006-2008. There has been no change in the number of overall Salmonella cases in 2014 versus 2006-2008. Campylobacter infections increased 13% during that time.

  1. How can I prevent getting a foodborne illness?

Frequent hand washing and washing of surfaces where food is prepared is critical. Cooking food thoroughly is another key way to prevent contamination. A food thermometer should be used to determine when an item is done. Steaks, for example, should be cooked until they reach an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Food should be kept at a temperature of 140 degrees after cooking because bacteria can grow as food begins to cool. Microwaved food should reach 165 degrees or higher. Perishable items should be refrigerated promptly. And raw meat and eggs should always be prepared separately from other foods.



28 sickened with Salmonella: Lettuce is overrated

I prefer a cut-up variety of fibre-rich vegetables.

lettuce.skull.noroA few years ago I toured my local Coles supermarket with the two heads of food safety – both now gone.

We spent about 2 hours going through the store and I pointed out labeling problems, lack of hygiene, and asked, how were consumers supposed to know what food was safe?

Now there is a problem with bagged lettuce packaged up and served at Coles, Woolies, and elsewhere, with 28 people sick.

This is nothing new.

But it’s tragic that people continue to get sick from the food that should nourish them.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of a healthy diet.

Because they are fresh, anything that comes in contact has the potential to contaminate.

That means food safety starts on the farm.

Washing produce may make you feel better, and government agencies advocate washing, but with fresh produce, washing does little.

It may remove some of the snot that a 3-year-old sneezed on it, but microbiologically, not much else.

lettuceThe key is to have programs in place to reduce contamination.

Twenty years ago, my lab started working with Canadian farmers to limit contamination on fresh produce farms.

Of particular importance: quality of irrigation water, manure, and employee handwashing.

You see a bird, I see a Salmonella factory. We can’t kill all the birds, but we can take appropriate steps to reduce risk.

Fresh produce has been the leading cause of foodborne illness in North America for two decades.

Right now there is an outbreak of Listeria on Dole packaged salads in Canada and the U.S. that has killed two and sickened 20.

Are packaged salads the villain?

Yes and no.

There has been much debate in the food safety community over whether pre-packaged salads are a good thing or a bad thing.

I agree with a scientific advisory committee in the U.S. that said pre-packaged salads are safer because your sink is a pool of germs.

But only if the companies producing the stuff – and making the profit – can prove it.

During one of my many trips to Coles, I asked the store manager if he washes pre-packaged greens.

He replied, “Of course, why wouldn’t I, my wife does it.”

Oh, Australia.

There are no labels with recommendations on pre-packaged salads in Australia.

There are no guidelines.

There is no public disclosure.

If 28 people got sick, there’s a lot more for it to bubble up to Australian media.

Retailers should be clear about practices and sourcing.

And they should market food safety.

Dr. Douglas Powell is a former professor of food safety in Canada and the U.S. who shops, cooks and ferments from his home in Brisbane, Australia. And coaches ice hockey.