Anyone sick: Listeria leads to ham recall in Aus

Pastoral Ham & Beef P/L has recalled Easy Cut Shoulder Ham from Costco stores in NSW, ACT, QLD, VIC, SA due to microbial (Listeria Monocytogenes) contamination.

hamDate notified to FSANZ

25/01/2016 

Food type

Ham (cured pork meat)

Product name

Easy Cut Shoulder Ham

Package description and size

Plastic cryovac bag, random weights approx. 3 kg

Date marking

Use By 02.03.16

Country of origin

Australia

Reason for recall

Microbial (Listeria Monocytogenes) contamination

Distribution

Costco stores in NSW, ACT, QLD, VIC, SA

Consumer advice

Listeria may cause illness in pregnant women and their unborn babies, the elderly and people with low immune systems. Any consumers concerned about their health should seek medical advice. The product can be returned to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Contact

Pastoral Ham & Beef P/L

(02) 9319 4008

http://www.pastoralsmallgoods.com.au/

When all these people say food safety is their top priority, ‘I swear, I swear I’m on the verge’

It’s sort of a Hip morning here, letting the hockey adrenaline run through the system.

The_Tragically_Hip_FireworksFSIS Notice 04-16, 1/20/16

  1. Purpose

On January 25, 2016, FSIS will launch a year-long pilot project to assess whether retailers are using the recommendations in the FSIS Best Practices Guidance for Controlling Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in Retail Delicatessens (FSIS Retail Lm Guideline).This notice provides instructions to the Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit (OIEA), Compliance and Investigations Division (CID) Investigators, on how to complete the Ready-To-Eat (RTE) Retail Deli Tool, a questionnaire in the Public Health Information System (PHIS) that will help Investigators compare the practices observed in retail delis to the FSIS Retail Lm Guideline in the following areas: product handling, cleaning and sanitizing, facility and equipment controls, and employee practices. This notice also provides instructions to Investigators on how to conduct outreach at retail firms that slice or prepare deli products during their in-commerce surveillance activities.

  1. Background
  2. The FSIS Retail Lm Guideline provides specific recommendations that retailers can use in the deli area of their operations to control Lm contamination of RTE meat and poultry products. The guidance highlights recommendations based on an evaluation of retail conditions and practices documented in the Interagency Risk Assessment–Listeria monocytogenes in Retail Delicatessens (Interagency Retail Lm Risk Assessment). The FSIS Retail Lm Guideline includes information from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code, scientific literature, other guidance documents, and lessons learned from FSIS verification sampling and from reviewing sanitation programs for Lm controls in meat and poultry processing establishments. The FSIS Retail Lm Guideline sets out recommendations rather than requirements.
  3. As mentioned above, FSIS is launching a year-long, nationwide pilot project to measure the status of retailers’ voluntary adoption of the recommendations in the FSIS Retail Lm Guideline. FSIS will not perform sampling at retail. The Data Analysis Staff, Office of Data Integration and Food Protection, will analyze the results monthly, and the quarterly results will be posted on the FSIS Web site in a Constituent Update.

 III. Outreach

  1. When conducting in-commerce surveillance at a retail firm that slices or prepares deli products, Investigators are to provide the firm’s management with the tri-fold brochure, Guidance for Controlling

Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in Retail Delicatessens. The brochure is available in English and Spanish on FSIS’s Web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulatory-compliance/listeria . Printed copies of the brochure can be obtained through supervisory channels. Investigators are to provide this information as part of the education and outreach they perform to provide regulatory food safety, food defense, and other compliance information to in-commerce businesses, owners and operators, employees, and others.

  1. In addition, Investigators are to provide the firm’s management with a copy of the letter that explains FSIS’s pilot project. The letter can be obtaion through supervisory channels.
  2. RTE Retail Deli Tool

When conducting in-commerce surveillance at a retail firm that slices or prepares deli products, Investigators are to complete the RTE Retail Deli Tool in PHIS.

Investigators are not to ask the firm’s manager or employees to answer the questions in the RTE Retail Deli Tool. Investigators are to make independent observations. Investigators may request records in addition to those required to be kept under 9 CFR 320.1 or 381.175 (e.g., records that show the firm is cleaning every four hours or rotating sanitizers) in order to identify industry practices and to determine whether the firm is following the FSIS Retail Lm Guidelines. Investigators may also make inquires to clarify their findings.

After completing the RTE Deli Tool in PHIS, Investigators are to discuss any vulnerability that they observed with the firm’s manager or employees.

  1. Questions

Refer questions regarding this notice through askFSIS. When submitting a question, use the Submit a Question tab, and enter the following information in the fields provided:

Subject Field: Enter Notice 04-16

Question Field: Enter your question with as much detail as possible.

Product Field: Select General Inspection Policy from the drop-down menu.

Category Field: Select Sampling: Listeria from the drop-down menu.

Policy Arena: Select Domestic (U.S.) Only from the drop-down menu.

When all fields are complete, press Continue and at the next screen press Finish Submitting Question.

Daniel Engeljohn

Assistant Administrator

Office of Policy and Program Development

 

Pilot project: control of Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in retail delicatessens

20.jan.16

USDA FSIS

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/f519e2b4-1aff-4b80-beff-dba497a7338f/04-16.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

 

‘We don’t have any magic’ Kathy Glass on Listeria in apples

Kathleen Glass started working at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Food Research Institute 30 years ago, studying various microbes — primarily those turning up in the meat and dairy industries — and assisting with food safety investigations.

caramel.appleShe added her first fruit case last year with a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak in caramel apples.

Now, Glass and other researchers are working to better understand the needs of the tree fruit industry in order to help growers, packers and retailers meet new food safety regulations and ensure the safety of their products.

“The meat and dairy industries had problems 20 years ago. That’s really when we found our religion when it comes to food safety,” Glass said.

Fruit growers didn’t have as much to worry

A couple of consecutive outbreaks with ready-to-eat meat products led to significant changes in cleaning and sanitation in that industry, Glass said, as well as the addition of growth inhibitors to meat products so that Listeria can’t grow during the normal shelf life.

The changes sparked a 42 percent decrease in cases from 1996 to 2012.

The World Health Organization estimates an infectious dose of Listeria at about 10,000 cells or more.

“Just a couple of Listeria in our food products probably is not going to make us sick. That means we need to focus on foods that support growth — perishable things you should refrigerate, those with the right amount of moisture and the right acidity level,” Glass told growers and packers at December’s Washington State Tree Fruit Association Annual Meeting in Yakima, Washington.

Investigators eventually tied the Jan. 6, 2015, Listeria outbreak to a specific supplier of Granny Smith and Gala apples in California, marking the first direct tie of fresh whole apples to a serious food safety outbreak.

road.apples .tragicallyhipBut there were some novel things about the case, Glass said. Healthy children were getting sick from an unusual food source: caramel apples.

The apples were sanitized, dipped in hot caramel, and the pH of the apples was too low for minimum growth of the pathogen, which raised several questions.

Is this the work of a superbug? Are conditions present to allow growth? Could damage to the apple contribute?

Preliminary studies suggest that damage to apples could encourage microbial growth, Glass said. In this case, puncturing the apple with a stick allowed Listeria to translocate to the core.

In addition, deep depressions in apples may protect Listeria from hot caramel. Storage temperature also is an issue, with the apples stored at room temperature at retail, enabling Listeria growth.

Glass said it’s clear the industry is stepping up its efforts in the food safety arena and in environmental testing, which is the best way to determine if there’s an area of concern.

The problem is knowing if disinfectants are as effective as hoped.

“We have to try things that have been done elsewhere and apply things in different ways,” she said. “It’s a tough, tough thing, because they don’t have a great kill step. We don’t have any magic at this point, and more research is needed.”

1 dead, 8 sick (3 newborns): Deleware cheese company pleads guilty in 2014 Listeria outbreak

A specialty cheese manufacturer in Kenton, Delaware, has pleaded guilty to violating federal food and drugs laws that led to a 2014 outbreak of listeria infections from Hispanic-style cheese.

roos-cheese-santa-rosa-de-lima-300pxAfter a criminal and civil complaint was filed this week, Roos Foods Inc., has pleaded guilty to distribution of adulterated cheese in interstate commerce, a misdemeanor, U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III said in a statement Friday.

The company and its principals, Ana A. Roos and Virginia Mejia, also have agreed to a permanent injunction, which requires them to stop processing and distributing food products unless they bring the operations into compliance with federal laws, he said.

The plea stems from a 2014 outbreak in which eight people – five adults and three newborns – in Maryland and California were infected with the L. mono bacterium that causes the disease listeriosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One died as a result of the illness.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspected the company’s Kenton facility and found unsanitary conditions, including roof leaks, rust flakes, un-cleanable surfaces, and product residue on equipment that had purportedly been cleaned, the complaint said. A sample collected at the facility found L. mono on 12 surfaces.

LGMA silent on Listeria outbreak

About four times a day I’ll get a tweet from the Leafy Green Marketing Agreement – the folks who set themselves up after the spinach outbreak of E. coli in 2006 that killed four and sickened 200 – blowing themselves about how great they are, and how their products are so safe.

spongebob.oil.colbert.may3.10If you want that kind of PR, then you have to be to take the hits as well.

LGMA never talks about an outbreak linked to leafy greens (publicly).

To me, they’ve succeeded best at lowering the leafy greens cone of silence and intimidating public health types into delaying reports of outbreaks.

LGMA says essentially that epidemiology doesn’t matter, and product must be shown to have the same outbreak strain as someone who is sick.

lettuce.skull.e.coli.O145That happened with spinach in 2006, and it has happened again with Listeria in 2016 – 2 dead, 19 sick, Canada and the U.S., all linked to Dole pre-packed salads.

Sure, it was probably the plant in Ohio that processed the stuff that was the source of the Listeria (and when I think of Ohio, I think salad).

But where’s the tweet, LGMA?

 

The advancement of mediocrity; How do experts get things so wrong?

In 2008, Listeria in Maple Leaf cold-cuts killed 23 Canadians and sickened another 55.

amy.pregnant.listeriaAn outbreak of Listeria in cheese in Quebec in fall 2008 led to 38 hospitalizations, of which 13 were pregnant and gave birth prematurely. Two adults died and there were 13 perinatal deaths.

A Sept. 2008 report showed that of the 78 residents of the Canadian province of British Columbia who contracted listeriosis in the past six years, 10 per cent were pregnant women whose infections put them at high risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.

The majority — nearly 60 per cent — of pregnant women diagnosed with listeriosis either miscarry or have stillbirths.

In the April 2010 edition of the journal, Canadian Family Physician, the Motherisk team at the previously reputable Toronto Hospital for Sick Children published a piece that said, without any references, that “pregnant women need not avoid soft-ripened cheeses or deli meats, so long as they are consumed in moderation and obtained from reputable stores.”

Nonsense.

Six years later, the hospital has finally decided to take action.

But not because of bogus advice.

The Hospital for Sick Children has permanently discontinued hair drug and alcohol tests at its Motherisk Drug Testing Laboratory after an internal review “further explored and validated” previous, and as yet undisclosed, “questions and concerns.”

André Picard of Toronto’s Globe and Mail reports that just before Christmas, the findings of an independent review of the Motherisk Hair Testing Laboratory were released. The report, prepared by Justice Susan Lang of the Ontario Court of Appeal, makes for bone-chilling reading.

listeria4After a meticulous dissection of the evidence, Justice Lang concluded that the hair testing – which was used to determine alcohol and drug use in child protection investigations and criminal prosecutions – was “inadequate and unreliable,” and so, too, was much expert testimony.

While Motherisk founder Gideon Koren rarely testified himself, the judge said he was ultimately responsible for ensuring interpretations were done properly.

The findings will have sweeping repercussions because the hair testing was used in 16,000 child-protection cases and six criminal cases that resulted in convictions.

The key case was that of Tamara Broomfield, who was convicted of administering a noxious substance (cocaine) to her child and various other charges in 2009. Her conviction was overturned in 2014 when the Ontario Court of Appeal expressed serious doubts about the validity of Motherisk’s hair testing.

In response, the Toronto Star published a series of investigative articles, which, in turn, forced the province to commission an independent review, and led to the suspension and permanent closing of the drug-testing lab.

The technical details of how the hair testing was inadequate are important, but the short version is that while the lab promised “gold standard” results, it barely delivered a tin standard.

That this could happen for a decade beggars belief, but, according to Justice Lang, the fundamental problem was lack of oversight, a culture that allowed shoddy science to flourish and be rewarded. To understand this we need a bit of history and context.

Motherisk, a unit of the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children, was founded back in 1985 to conduct research on drugs and environmental chemicals, and how they could affect breastfeeding moms and newborn babies in particular.

Motherisk did groundbreaking research, especially on the role of folic acid preventing birth defects and cancer, and how codeine-based medicine can be fatal to babies after surgery. But labs, no matter how successful, need to generate funds. So Motherisk created a spinoff hair-testing business – one that proved quite lucrative, bringing in up to $1.3-million a year.

Dr. Koren became a much-called-upon expert witness. Problem was he was not an expert in this kind of pathological testing. Justice Lang found that much of his testimony was grossly misleading – there were huge leaps made based on flawed tests.

How does this happen?

In modern society (and perhaps even more in the legal and courts system), we are enamoured by TV series, such as CSI, where a single strand of hair tells a rich, definitive tale.

In real life, science is rarely that magical. Things like hair testing provide some information, but it requires much interpretation and even more caution.

When you have a financial interest in offering black-and-white interpretations, and little oversight and accountability, trouble can ensue. The hair-testing debacle demonstrates this all too well.

But what’s most troubling of all is that the Motherisk story is oddly familiar.

Children, their parents and the public deserve better from Sick Kids.

And if it’s so prestigious, how did they get the Listeria advice so wrong?

Sounds like a French thing: Fromagerie Beillevaire UK recalls its Brie de Meaux à la Truffe due to high levels of Listeria monocytogenes

Fromagerie Beillevaire UK has recalled a batch of its ‘Brie de Meaux à la Truffe’ with a ‘use by’ date of 22 January 2016 because high levels of the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes have been found in the product.

Fromagerie Beillevaire UKListeria monocytogenes can cause foodborne illness, particularly among key vulnerable groups, including pregnant women, unborn and newborn babies, those over 60 years old, and anyone with reduced immunity.

High levels of Listeria monocytogenes in Fromagerie Beillevaire UK, Brie de Meaux à la Truffe.

Product: Fromagerie Beillevaire UK, Brie de Meaux à la Truffe

‘Use by’ date: 22 January 2016

Batch number: 1505523

No other Fromagerie Beillevaire UK products are known to be affected.

Fromagerie Beillevaire UK is recalling the above product as a precaution and has contacted its customers.  Point-of-sale recall notices are also being displayed in stores. These notices explain to customers why the product is being recalled and tell them what actions to take if they have bought the product. A copy of the point-of-sale recall notice can be found below.

If you have bought the above product, do not eat it. Instead, return it to the store from where it was bought for a full refund or call Fromagerie Beillevaire UK Ltd on 01322 438 017 with any queries.

But we’re just down homey folk: Who knew what when as Dept. of Justice investigates Blue Bell for Listeria outbreak

CBS News reports that the U.S. Department of Justice has started an investigation into Blue Bell after their ice cream was linked to a deadly Listeria outbreak earlier this year that killed three people.

listeria4An FDA investigation found Listeria in all three of Blue Bell’s production plants located in Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas. Records indicated that the company knew one plant was contaminated at least as early as 2013.

The FDA investigation uncovered other troubling problems, including condensation dripping directly into ice cream and unsanitary equipment. Last April, Blue Bell shut down all three production facilities, and all ice cream was recalled.

Sources tell CBS News that the Department of Justice is trying to determine what Blue Bell management knew about potentially deadly hazards in their plants, and when they knew it.

The most extensive violations were found in Oklahoma, where the FDA released 16 separate positive tests for listeria on equipment and in ice cream from March 2013 through January 2015.

Last October, Gerald Bland who worked at the Blue Bell factory in Brenham, Texas, described to CBS News, unsanitary conditions on the factory floor.

“On the wall by the 3-gallon machine, if it had rained real hard and water sat on the roof, it would just trickle down,” Bland said.

Rain water from the roof would leak into the factory.

Another worker, Terry Schultz, told us that his complaints to management about unclean conditions went nowhere.

“The response I got at one point [from management] was, ‘is that all you’re going to do is come here and bitch every afternoon?'”

The message Schultz took management’s response was, “Production is probably more important than cleanliness.”

All three of Blue Bell’s plants are now back up and running, and by the end next month, its ice cream will be back on the shelves in 15 states.

 

Bad advice: Food safety and biological nonsense from leading Toronto hospital

In 2008, Listeria in Maple Leaf cold-cuts killed 23 Canadians and sickened another 55.

amy.pregnant.listeriaAn outbreak of listeria in cheese in Quebec in fall 2008 led to 38 hospitalizations, of which 13 were pregnant and gave birth prematurely. Two adults died and there were 13 perinatal deaths.

A Sept. 2008 report showed that of the 78 residents of the Canadian province of British Columbia who contracted listeriosis in the past six years, 10 per cent were pregnant women whose infections put them at high risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.

The majority — nearly 60 per cent — of pregnant women diagnosed with listeriosis either miscarry or have stillbirths.

In the April 2010 edition of the journal, Canadian Family Physician, the Motherisk team at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children published a piece that said, without any references, that “pregnant women need not avoid soft-ripened cheeses or deli meats, so long as they are consumed in moderation and obtained from reputable stores.”

Nonsense.

christine_rupert.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxFive years later, the hospital has finally decided to take action.

But not because of bogus advice.

The Hospital for Sick Children has permanently discontinued hair drug and alcohol tests at its embattled Motherisk Drug Testing Laboratory after an internal review “further explored and validated” previous, and as yet undisclosed, “questions and concerns.”

The decision, announced earlier this year, comes amid a Toronto Star investigation and mounting pressure from critics to shutter the lab, whose hair drug and alcohol tests have been used in criminal and child protection cases across the country, typically as evidence of parental substance abuse.

In March, Sick Kids temporarily suspended all non-research operations at Motherisk, after Lang’s review and the hospital’s review revealed new information, pending the results of Lang’s review, which are expected by June 30.

Yesterday, parents who had lost custody of their children or were convicted of crimes as a result of the lab’s results, received some vindication.

Now if they could get their kids back.

ITALY-G8-G5-AGRICULTURE-FARMAccording to a Star editorial, a powerful report made public last week by retired judge Susan Lang found the testing program at the Motherisk lab was “inadequate and unreliable.” As a result, the Ontario government is launching an immediate review of all child custody and criminal cases that may have been adversely affected by false results from the lab.

The probe is both overdue and very welcome. In the last 10 years hair samples from more than 16,000 people were requested by child protection agencies and the review found six criminal cases that led to convictions where hair tests from the lab were used. No one knows how many parents may have lost custody of their children or how many may have been convicted of a crime based on faulty lab results.

Still, it didn’t have to take so long to resolve — or indeed occur in the first place.

First, Sick Kids could itself have reviewed procedures at the lab when questions were first raised about the accuracy of Motherisk hair strand testing during an October 2014 court case, which overturned evidence from the lab based on expert testimony that its results were unreliable.

Instead, in the face of an investigative series of articles by the Star’s Rachel Mendleson, the hospital went on the defence.

Then, when it did conduct a “review” it got it wrong. In November of last year, CEO Dr. Michael Apkon and pediatrician-in-chief Dr. Denis Daneman announced that an internal probe of Motherisk’s processes “has reaffirmed that the public can have full confidence in the reliability of Motherisk’s hair testing.”

Thankfully, the public and those who lost custody of their kids or were convicted of a crime based on the lab’s “unreliable” results did not have to depend on these two men’s judgment of the program for justice.

Two days later the Ontario government announced Lang’s independent investigation, which found that the lab’s “flawed hair-testing evidence had serious implications for the fairness of child protection and criminal cases.”

There’s more the hospital could have done to prevent this disaster. As Lang found, the hospital could have headed it off in the first place if it had applied lessons around forensic training and oversight from a 2008 inquiry into the actions of the hospital’s former disgraced pathologist, Dr. Charles Smith.

Smith, who served as head pediatric forensic pathologist at the hospital, made errors in hundreds of autopsies before 2001 that resulted in false convictions of several people for killing small children.

In the end, it isn’t just leadership at the Motherisk lab that is on “trial.” It is the people who run one of the country’s most prestigious hospitals.

Prestigious is an adjective thrown around so people don’t ask questions.

If it’s so prestigious, how did they get the Listeria advice so wrong?

 

Blue Bell: The rise and fall (and rise again?) of an ice cream empire

Mark Collette of the Houston Chronicle writes that Paul Kruse’s father had warned him about the perils of family-run businesses, but he couldn’t escape his place as the obvious heir of a dawning ice cream empire.

blue.bell.jul.15After ascending to the corner office in 2004, Kruse delivered Blue Bell Creameries to its greatest height, becoming the No. 1 U.S. brand.

This year, it took barely two months to undo everything.

Ironically, Blue Bell’s food-poisoning crisis could give it a one-up on competitors, because it already has been forced to make expensive changes to equipment and safety protocols that other ice cream makers soon will have to emulate under new federal regulations. It took most of the year to upgrade while other brands gobbled up market share.

Under Paul Kruse, Blue Bell’s annual sales grew by 70 percent from 2006 to 2014, versus just 8 percent for the entire U.S. industry, according to figures from the market intelligence firm Euromonitor. It rose from fifth to third in U.S. market share. Relative to its own past, it abandoned any notion that slow was better, roughly doubling the geographical reach it had attained in the previous century. In 2014, for the first time, Blue Bell stole the No. 1 spot in brand sales from Dreyer’s, the longtime U.S. favorite.

Before the listeria crisis struck in March, it sold more than $333 million, according to Euromonitor figures updated in August. As a privately held company, Blue Bell doesn’t publicly disclose sales. But by that reckoning, it had, in one quarter, sold more than half of what it did in all of 2010 – and peak summer sales hadn’t even set in yet.

All that production came with a price. Brenham plant workers said sanitation was hurried. Hot water ran low. And federal records showed that problems reached to plants in Oklahoma and Alabama, negating the possibility that the listeria outbreak was a failure of one supplier, one machine or one employee. Somewhere amid all that growth, reality couldn’t keep up with the clean country image. Worse, it hadn’t been keeping up for years. Epidemiologists this year determined that illnesses from as early as 2010 were caused by Blue Bell – retroactive medical sleuthing made possible by the DNA database.

Had Blue Bell folded, it would have joined the majority of third-generation businesses, only a small percentage of which survive into the fourth, according to various consulting firms.

Unlike public companies, which send CEOs packing after six years on average, family bosses are entrenched, raising a host of challenges, said Andrew Hier, senior partner of the Cambridge Family Enterprise Group. They may have more difficulty coping with shifts in technology over time. Decision-making becomes more complicated in the so-called “cousin generation,” with more personalities at the table. Though privately held, Blue Bell now has hundreds of shareholders. Kruse’s cousin, Greg Bridges, is the vice president of operations.

After 10 illnesses and three deaths linked to Blue Bell, it now has been forced to modernize. It faces a task like Odwalla, the homegrown juice brand roiled by E.coli poisonings in 1996, and, more recently, Chipotle, the fast-food burrito chain plunged into crisis from at least four separate disease outbreaks in a span of months.

Odwalla had to abandon its raw-is-better philosophy and start pasteurizing its juices. Similarly, Chipotle is instituting pathogen testing standards unlike any others in fast food.

And lots more.