Muscle Milk recalled for premature spoilage

Who writes like this? PR thingies.

muscle.milkOut of an abundance of caution and with an emphasis on its customers’ wellness and safety, HP Hood LLC is voluntarily recalling certain code dates of protein drinks from its Sacramento, CA, facility, due to the potential for premature product spoilage.

HP Hood is voluntarily recalling specific products after identifying a possible packaging defect that may result in product spoilage during transport and handling. Consumers may notice that, in some cases, the packaging is bloated and product inside may have an off taste or odor. Consumers should not use the product, since it does not meet its high quality standards.

The recalled products are limited to plastic bottles of 14 oz. and 10 oz. MUSCLE MILK® Genuine, MUSCLE MILK® Pro Series, MUSCLE MILK® 100 Calorie, with Best By dates of November 21, 2016 through May 23, 2017, with an “HS” in the code date. This recall applies only to the products listed. The Best By and code dates are printed on the top of the lid of single serve bottles.

No confirmed reports have been received of any consumer illness nor injuries to date.

This is how bad Whole Foods sucks at food safety

Whole Foods just don’t get it.

whole.foods.empty.valuesAccording to Stephanie Strom of the New York Times, when U.S. Food and Drug Administration types asked for proof the company had fixed potential Listeria problems, Whole Foods “failed to provide photos, invoices, records of product destruction and other documentation that would demonstrate the necessary corrections.”

Individuals are required to provide more proof on a tax audit.

Whole Foods, Chipotle, an emerging pattern of documented bullshit to validate what many food safety types thought long before: bullshit, on food, in management and in communications.

Risk Analysis 101.

Fancy food ain’t safe food: Another Whole Foods edition

Condensation from ceiling pipes dripping on food. Sounds like a familiar food safety risk.

whole.foodsBut nasty things like engineering concerns are of little concern to new-age companies doing its utmost to squeeze more profits by dressing up crap with adjectives.

Megan Woolhouse of the Boston Globe reports the Food and Drug Administration has warned Whole Foods Markets to resolve serious violations found at a regional food preparation facility in Everett after inspectors discovered condensation from ceiling pipes dripping on food, as well as evidence of Listeria.

Last week, the federal agency sent a lengthy letter to Whole Foods citing an extensive list of food safety violations during multiple visits in February to the company’s kitchen in Everett, which makes ready-to-eat foods for 74 stores in Northeastern states.

The agency said Whole Foods’ initial response to the violations was unacceptable because the company did not offer sufficient documentation about how it would correct the problems at the 70,000-square-foot facility and ensure compliance with health and safety rules.

“FDA has serious concerns that our investigators found your firm operating under these conditions,” according to the June 8 warning letter, which was first reported by Bloomberg.

Whole Foods’ global vice president of operations, Ken Meyer, said in a statement issued Tuesday evening that he was “honestly surprised” by the warning and that the company has taken “thorough and tangible steps” to address problems. “We’ve been in close contact with the FDA, opened our doors to inspectors regularly since February, and worked with them to address every issue brought to our attention,” Meyer said.

FDA inspectors who visited the Everett plant, known as Whole Foods Market North Atlantic Kitchen, wrote that they saw condensation dripping onto surfaces where dishes such as pesto pasta and mushroom quesadillas were being prepared or stored, as well as uncovered barrels of egg salad “that were placed in an area below the condenser. Condensate was observed to be dripping at a rate of approximately once per second.”

ass.whole.foodsThe FDA inspectors also found a type of Listeria that indicated the presence of a more severe form of the germ when they tested swabs of more than 100 surfaces throughout the facility. The letter said it found Listeria welshimeri, a form of the bacteria that the FDA said is an indicator of the probable presence of Listeria monocytogenes, a potentially deadly form of the bacteria.

In one instance, the inspectors found that a hand-washing station did not have hot water, yet was used by employees returning from a break before they began preparing food. Inspectors also said they saw an employee spray ammonium-based sanitizer on an open colander of salad greens and found sheet pans used for raw meats and ready-to-eat food products soaking in tanks with inadequate levels of sanitizer.

Yum.

The letter further cited problems with workers using improperly diluted disinfectant in heavier than necessary amounts to clean vegetables.

Whole Foods has 15 business days to respond to the FDA’s letter.

The Everett facility warning is a blow for a company that is generally known for the pride it takes in high-quality products, which typically come with a high price tag. The Austin, Texas based chain is also widely credited with helping to bring about the organic food revolution.

But fancy food ain’t safe food.

One of the most worrisome findings, said Mel Kramer, president of EHA Consulting Group Inc., a Baltimore firm that advises restaurants and food manufacturers on food safety, was the inattention to how vegetables were washed. The use of too much disinfectant, he said, can lead to serious gastric problems such as diarrhea.

“This is pretty serious from a major company that the public generally looks to as a good actor,” said Kramer, who said he had reviewed the FDA warning letter at the request of the Globe. “An inspection is a picture, and the picture during those inspections was pretty poor.”

The Everett warning also comes seven months after Whole Foods voluntarily recalled products prepared and packaged in the same Everett kitchen facility, including curry chicken salad and classic deli pasta salad, after a routine inspection found possible Listeria contamination of the life-threatening sort, according to a list of product recalls posted on the FDA’s website.

FDA food recall process too slow

Liz Szabo of USA Today writes contaminated food has remained on the shelf for months because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sometimes moves too slowly to force food manufacturers to recall it, according to a report released Thursday by a watchdog agency inside the Department of Health and Human Services.

TOTAL RECALL, Arnold Schwarzenegger, 1990

TOTAL RECALL, Arnold Schwarzenegger, 1990

In one case, the manufacturer of a nut butter took 165 days to recall a product contaminated with salmonella according to the report from the Office of the Inspector General, which looked at 30 recalls between 2012 and 2015. Fourteen people in 11 states became ill in the outbreak.

“Consumers remained at risk of illness or death for several weeks after FDA knew of potentially hazardous food,” according to a preliminary report from an ongoing audit.

In another series of recalls, at least nine people became ill, including a baby who died, from listeria bacteria in cheese. Two women also miscarried. Yet “81 days passed from the date FDA became aware of the adulterated product and the date the firm had voluntarily recalled all affected products,” according to the report.

The FDA doesn’t have an “efficient and effective” process to set a deadline for food manufacturers to voluntarily recall tainted food, a problem that requires the FDA’s “immediate attention,” according to the report. The FDA must give companies a chance to recall products voluntarily, before announcing a mandatory recall.

The new report is not the first to find problems with food recalls. A 2011 audit also found the recall program was “inadequate.”

In a statement, the FDA called the delays “unacceptable,” but noted that recalls are generally issued within an average of about a week.

recall“Public health is our top priority and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration works hard to ensure the U.S. food supply remains among the safest in the world,” the FDA said in a statement. “A small number of these recalls fell well outside of that average, with months passing before all impacted products were taken off shelves, even though the FDA notified the companies involved of a contamination as soon as it had evidence. . . . The recall process should be as swift as possible.”

From the report:

We found that FDA did not have an efficient and effective food recall initiation process that helps ensure the safety of the Nation’s food supply. Specifically, FDA did not have policies and procedures to ensure that firms1 or responsible parties2 (collectively referred to in this document as “firms”) initiated voluntary food recalls promptly. This issue is a significant matter and requires FDA’s immediate attention. … We suggest that FDA revise its policies and procedures to instruct recall staff to establish set timeframes for (1) FDA to request that firms voluntarily recall their products and (2) firms to initiate voluntary food recalls.

The information in this early alert is preliminary, and the audit is continuing. We will issue a draft report at the conclusion of the audit and include comments and actions taken in response to this early alert.

More proof: Same E. coli O121 found in flour in sick consumer’s home

On June 10, 2016, U.S. Food and Drug Administration whole genome sequencing on E. coli O121 isolates recovered from an open sample of General Mills flour belonging to one of the consumers who was sickened was found to be closely genetically related the clinical isolates from human illnesses. The flour came from a lot that General Mills has recalled.

flour.e.coli.O121To date, 38 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O121 have been reported from 20 states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from December 21, 2015 to May 3, 2016. Ten ill people have been hospitalized. In its investigation, CDC learned that some people who got sick had eaten or handled raw dough.

FDA’s traceback investigation determined that the raw dough eaten or handled by ill people or used in restaurant locations was made using General Mills flour that was produced in the same week in November 2015 at the General Mills facility in Kansas City, Missouri. Epidemiology and traceback evidence available at this time indicate that General Mills flour manufactured at this facility is the likely source of the outbreak.

On May 31, 2016, following a conference call among FDA, CDC and the firm, General Mills conducted a voluntary recall of flour products produced between November 14, 2015 and December 4, 2015. Recalled products are sold in stores nationwide or may be in consumers’ pantries and are sold under three brand names: Gold Medal flour, Signature Kitchens flour and Gold Medal Wondra flour. The varieties include unbleached, all-purpose, and self-rising flours.

General Mills also sells bulk flour to customers who use it to make other products. General Mills has contacted these customers directly to inform them of the recall. FDA is working with General Mills to ensure that the customers have been notified, and to evaluate the recall for effectiveness.

Flour has a long shelf life, and bags of flour may be kept in peoples’ homes for a long time. Consumers unaware of the recall could continue to eat these recalled flours and potentially get sick. If consumers have any of these recalled flours in their homes, they should throw them away.

(this is bad)

kids.cookie.doughPeople usually get sick from STEC O121 2-8 days (average of 3-4 days) after swallowing the bacteria. Most people develop diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps. Most people recover within a week.

Some illnesses last longer and can be more severe, resulting in a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS can occur in people of any age, but is most common in young children under 5 years, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

Restaurants and retailers should throw away any recalled General Mills flour. Some ill people reported handling raw dough at restaurants prior to eating their meal. Restaurants that allow their customers to handle raw dough should evaluate whether this practice is appropriate.

Restaurants and retailers should be aware that flour may be a source of pathogens and should control the potential for cross-contamination of food processing equipment and the food processing environment. They should follow the steps below:

Wash and sanitize display cases and refrigerators where potentially contaminated products were stored.

Wash and sanitize cutting boards, surfaces, and utensils used to prepare, serve, or store potentially contaminated products.

Wash hands with hot water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.

Retailers, restaurants, and other food service operators who have processed and packaged any potentially contaminated products need to be concerned about cross contamination of cutting surfaces and utensils through contact with the potentially contaminated products.

Regular frequent cleaning and sanitizing of food contact surfaces and utensils used in food preparation may help to minimize the likelihood of cross-contamination.

(this is bad)

kid-cookie3What Do Consumers Need To Do?

The recalled General Mills products have a long shelf-life, and they may be in peoples’ homes. Consumers unaware of the recall could continue to eat these products and potentially get sick.

If consumers have these products in their homes, they should throw it away. As a precaution, flour no longer stored in its original packaging should be discarded if it could be covered by this recall, and the containers used to store this flour should be thoroughly washed and sanitized.

Three people who became ill reported handling raw dough at restaurants prior to eating their meal. As a precaution, consumers, especially children, should not handle raw dough at home or at restaurant locations.

FDA warns against eating raw dough products made with any brand of flour or baking mix before cooking. Consumers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures when handling flour. The FDA recommends following these safe food-handling practices to stay healthy:

Do not eat or play with any raw cookie dough or any other raw dough product made with flour that is intended to be cooked or baked.

Follow package directions on baking mixes and other flour-containing products for proper cooking temperatures and for specified times.

Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw dough products containing flour.

Keep raw foods separate from other foods while preparing them to prevent any contamination that might be present from spreading.

Grocers open their doors for returning Fort McMurray residents

The most powerful food safety chat I ever heard was in was June 2006.

donations-for-evacueesChapman and I were talking at a U.S. Food and Drug Administration regional meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Amy tagged along and we went to Canada.

I think.

A few of the FDA folks who had been the first in after Hurricane Katrina in Aug. 2005 in New Orleans had an after-hours pub chat session. The food safety stories were remarkable to hear, the stress still visibly impacting those who had been there.

I’ve heard similar food safety stories and enduring nightmares from first responders in Walkerton, Ontario in 2000, and in Christchurch, N.Z.  after the earthquake in 2011.

Mark Cardwell of Canadian Grocer writes that Craig Anderson, Overwaitea Food Group’s general manager of operations for Canada’s three prairie provinces, says Fort McMurray is usually a bustling place with traffic and people coming and going in all directions at any time of day.

But there’s an eerie silence this week as residents begin returning home after last month’s devastating fire.

“Things are unusually quiet,” Anderson said from the Save-On-Foods store at Fort McMurray’s Stoneycreek Village mall just minutes after it officially reopened on Wednesday.

It was the first of the banner’s three locations in the city to reopen.

Only a few other local food stores have also reopened, including Safeway and Walmart locations in the city’s centre.

Anderson said a small but steady trickle of customers had been coming into the store since 8 a.m., when doors opened. They’ve been buying basic food items, cleaning supplies and, especially, water, since a boil-water advisory is still in effect.

“I’ve been to a lot of store openings, but never one like this,” quipped Anderson. “The mood is serious and sombre.”

Before reopening, grocers have to adhere to strict guidelines put out by Alberta Health Services.

Titled “Reopening your food establishment after a wildfire”,  the five-page guideline contains a series of steps to deal with the potential damages and risks to people and food from fire, smoke, ash, soot, fire retardant chemicals, water and loss of power.

Food in refrigerators, coolers and freezers, for example, has to be discarded if the temperature exceeded 4 degrees Celsius at any time since May 3, when city residents were forced to flee in what was the largest emergency evacuation in Canadian history.

All exposed food items—from open foods and packaged foods (including paper, cardboard boxes, plastic and cellophane) to single-service items and bottles and jars of food with screw-top lids or crown/crimp caps—also had to be tossed.

Not everything is wrong in Kansas (just most things): FDA takes action against food manufacturer for Listeria violations

The U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas entered a consent decree of permanent injunction today between the United States and Native American Enterprises, LLC, located in Wichita, Kansas; its part-owner, William N. McGreevy; and its production manager, Robert C. Conner.

Native American Enterprises.beansThe U.S. Department of Justice brought the action on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for significant and ongoing violations of federal food safety laws and regulations. The complaint alleges that the company’s ready-to-eat (RTE) refried beans and sauces are adulterated in that they have been prepared, packed and/or held under unsanitary conditions whereby the food may have become contaminated with filth or have been rendered injurious to health.  

Native American Enterprises, LLC is a manufacturer and distributor of a variety of food, including RTE refried beans and sauces falling under FDA jurisdiction. The consent decree prevents the company from selling FDA-regulated products until it comes into compliance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act).

The FDA issued a letter to Native American Enterprises, LLC in August 2013 warning the company to promptly correct its violations or potentially face legal action. The FDA conducted several follow-up inspections of the company’s food processing facility and continued to observe unsanitary conditions at the facility, including unsanitary employee practices and persistent strains of Listeria Monocytogenes(L. mono), a dangerous human pathogen that can cause listeriosis, a life-threatening illness. People with compromised immune systems, the elderly, pregnant women, and developing fetuses are particularly susceptible to listeriosis.

The FDA used Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) to identify persistent strains of L. mono at Native American Enterprises, LLC. WGS technology can show the relationship among isolates of bacterial pathogens found in the environment, a food source, or a person who became ill from consuming contaminated food.

“When a company repeatedly violates food safety laws and procedures they are putting the public at serious risk,” said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “The FDA took action against Native American Enterprises, LLC to protect public health, and as a result, the company’s adulterated food products are prevented from entering the marketplace.”

Native American EnterprisesUnder the consent decree, the company cannot prepare, process, manufacture, pack, and/or label FDA-regulated food products until it demonstrates that its facility and processing equipment are suitable to prevent contamination. Native American Enterprises, LLC must, among other things, retain an independent laboratory to collect and analyze samples for the presence of L. mono, retain an independent sanitation expert and develop a program to control L. mono and to eliminate unsanitary conditions at its facility. Should the company be permitted to resume operations in the future, the FDA maintains oversight over such operations under this consent decree and may order the company to take corrective actions if the agency discovers further food safety violations.

To date, no illnesses have been reported from Native American Enterprises, LLC’s products. Individuals who have eaten products purchased from the company should contact a health care professional if they experience any symptoms of listeriosis.  In addition, consumers are encouraged to contact the FDA to report problems with FDA-regulated products.

The company also manufactures meat and poultry products, which fall under U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) regulations. While the consent decree does not apply to USDA-regulated products, the FDA and USDA FSIS have and will continue to work closely together. USDA FSIS recently performed an investigation at the establishment and the company is currently operating under an FSIS enforcement verification plan when producing USDA-regulated products.

Voluntary recall of Meadow Gold Dairy products for insufficient pasteurization

The Meadow Gold Dairy plant in Boise is voluntarily recalling Meadow Gold brand Old Style Whipping Cream and Meadow Gold DairyPure brand Whipping Cream and Half and Half due to insufficient pasteurization. It is possible that pathogens present in raw milk, including Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, and/or E. coli, may have survived and, if ingested, could cause serious or life threatening issues.

meadow.gold.creamMeadow Gold Dairy has received no reports of illnesses related to the affected product to date and is removing the product from the market.

Distribution of the affected product was limited in scope. Therefore, consumers should only be concerned with products carrying plant code 16-05 and UPC codes: 1570013313 // 1570010018 // 1570013210 // 4190007913 // 1570016615

No other Meadow Gold Dairy products are affected by this recall.

The recall involves approximately 10,000 units of the affected product, which was distributed in four states including Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming and Utah through numerous retail outlets and food service settings. The company is actively notifying customers and is in the process of retrieving the affected product.

During a routine records review, we discovered that the product may have been under-processed. Meadow Gold Dairy has ceased distribution of the affected product and recovery is actively underway. Consumers who have this product should not consume it. They should discard it and may return the product package to the place of purchase for a full refund or exchange. Consumers with questions can contact the Company at 1-800-587-2259 Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm central time.

The Idaho Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Dairying and the Food and Drug Administration have been notified of this recall.

But will it make fewer people barf? US FDA issues final food defense regulation

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today finalized a new food safety rule under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that will help to prevent wide-scale public health harm by requiring companies in the United States and abroad to take steps to prevent intentional adulteration of the food supply. While such acts are unlikely to occur, the new rule advances mitigation strategies to further protect the food supply.

imagesUnder the new rule, both domestic and foreign food facilities, for the first time, are required to complete and maintain a written food defense plan that assesses their potential vulnerabilities to deliberate contamination where the intent is to cause wide-scale public health harm. Facilities now have to identify and implement mitigation strategies to address these vulnerabilities, establish food defense monitoring procedures and corrective actions, verify that the system is working, ensure that personnel assigned to these areas receive appropriate training and maintain certain records.

“Today’s final rule on intentional adulteration will further strengthen the safety of an increasingly global and complex food supply,” said Stephen Ostroff, M.D., incoming deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, FDA. “The rule will work in concert with other components of FSMA by preventing food safety problems before they occur.”

The rule was proposed in December 2013 and takes into consideration more than 200 comments submitted by the food industry, government regulatory partners, consumer advocates and others.

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.