Australian farmers’ markets branded meat risk

Kath Sullivan of The Weekly Times reports that farmers’ markets put the reputation of Victoria’s meat exporters at risk, according to the former MeanGirls_162Pyxurzchairman of the ­industry’s Victorian regulator, PrimeSafe.

Tempy farmer Leonard Vallance criticised the Victorian Government’s handling of meat safety, and its relationship with the regulator, as he completed his term as PrimeSafe chairman.

“Farmers’ markets are the achilles heel of the Victorian food industry,” he said. “The reputational risk to our export markets is massive … they (farmers’ markets) are nowhere near adequately regulated.”

In Victoria, PrimeSafe regulates meat processors, including all butchers, abattoirs and supermarkets, but compliance of farmers’ markets is a local government responsibility.

“Local government would be fine if they were doing their job properly,” Mr Vallance said. “The issue is that people are selling meat in less than ideal conditions.”

Mr Vallance said the Government had created “double standards” where butcher shops were required to operate under strict conditions, including in a temperature-­controlled environment, but people selling meat in farmers’ markets were not.

“There should be a level playing field for all meat retailers,” he said.

Victorian Farmers Market Association president Wayne Shields said accredited markets complied with the food safety regulation.

“All meat has to be packaged and sealed at a PrimeSafe premises before it can be sold at a market,” Mr Shields said.

He said PrimeSafe “would prefer to snipe from the sidelines,” rather than help small producers.

EFSA advises on meat spoilage during storage and transport

Continuing in the advice vein, the European Food Safety Authority is trying to balance safety and quality when transporting meat.

meat.and.you.simpsonsEFSA had previously advised on the implications for meat safety if two parameters – time and temperature – varied and provided several scenarios for ensuring safety of meat during storage and transport of meat. The Commission subsequently asked EFSA to consider what implications such scenarios would have for the growth of bacteria that cause meat to spoil.

“If the sole consideration was safety, policy makers would have more options on the table to pick from. However, scenarios that are acceptable in terms of safety may not be acceptable in terms of quality,” said Dr. Marta Hugas, Head of EFSA’s Biological Hazards and Contaminants unit.

Current legislation requires that carcasses are chilled to no more than 7C and that this temperature is maintained until mincing. The European Commission wants to revise this legislation to provide industry with more flexibility and asked EFSA’s scientific advice on safety and quality aspects.

Experts also said that effective hygienic measures during slaughter and processing help control contamination with spoilage bacteria.

Fresh or frozen, deep-fried or baked: Reducing E. coli in meatballs

I’d always use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer to account for variations in cooking appliances, degrees of thawdiness (yes, I’m making up words) initial bacterial loads.

meatballs2We investigated the effects of deep-frying or oven cooking on inactivation of Shiga toxin–producing cells of Escherichia coli (STEC) in meatballs.

Finely ground veal and/or a finely ground beef-pork-veal mixture were inoculated (ca. 6.5 log CFU/g) with an eight-strain, genetically marked cocktail of rifampin-resistant STEC strains (STEC-8; O111:H, O45:H2, O103:H2, O104:H4, O121:H19, O145:NM, O26:H11, and O157:H7). Inoculated meat was mixed with liquid whole eggs and seasoned bread crumbs, shaped by hand into 40-g balls, and stored at −20°C (i.e., frozen) or at 4°C (i.e., fresh) for up to 18 h. Meatballs were deep-fried (canola oil) or baked (convection oven) for up to 9 or 20 min at 176.7°C (350°F), respectively. Cooked and uncooked samples were homogenized and plated onto sorbitol MacConkey agar with rifampin (100 μg/ml) followed by incubation of plates at 37°C for ca. 24 h. Up to four trials and three replications for each treatment for each trial were conducted.

Deep-frying fresh meatballs for up to 5.5 min or frozen meatballs for up to 9.0 min resulted in reductions of STEC-8 ranging from ca. 0.7 to ≥6.1 log CFU/g. Likewise, reductions of ca. 0.7 to ≥6.1 log CFU/g were observed for frozen and fresh meatballs that were oven cooked for 7.5 to 20 min.

This work provides new information on the effect of prior storage temperature (refrigerated or frozen), as well as subsequent cooking via deep-frying or baking, on inactivation of STEC-8 in meatballs prepared with beef, pork, and/or veal. These results will help establish guidelines and best practices for cooking raw meatballs at both food service establishments and in the home.

Effect of deep-frying or conventional oven cooking on thermal inactivation of Shiga toxin–producing cells of Escherichia coli in meatballs

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 5, May 2016, pp. 696-889, pp. 723-731(9)

Porto-Fett, Anna C. S.; Oliver, Michelle; Daniel, Marciauna; Shoyer, Bradley A.; Stahler, Laura J.; Shane, Laura E.; Kassama, Lamin S.; Jackson-Davis, Armitra; Luchansky, John B.

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/contentone/iafp/jfp/2016/00000079/00000005/art00005

 

Guess he figured no one would notice in Burford: Meat business, owner fined

Burford is a wonderful little hamlet outside of my hometown of Brantford, Ontario. I’m sure it’s a lovely place now, but when I was a teenager it was a destination for and depravity and decadence.

burfordA lot of people had mullets.

 A Burford meat business and its owner have been fined $3,750 for violating provincial food safety law, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

On Jan. 27, 1107053 Ontario Inc., operating as Greenwood Meats, of 124 King St., and owner Thomas Greenwood pleaded guilty in provincial offences court in Brantford to one count each of processing meat products without a licence under the Food Safety and Quality Act, said a media release.

On June 18, 2015, a joint inspection was conducted at Greenwood Meats by regulatory compliance officers of the ministry and the Brant County Health Unit.

During the inspection, Greenwood admitted that about 330 pounds of ready-to-eat meat products were produced on site without a licence under the act, the ministry stated in a media release.

Greenwood had signed a document in 2008 stating that he would not produce this type of meat products at his premises, according to the ministry.

The meat products, valued at about $1,600, were voluntarily condemned so they would not be distributed or sold to the public.

Greenwood and his company were fined a total of $3,000 plus a $750 victim fine surcharge.

I don’t have to close my dirty restaurant I’ll just ignore you: Philadelphia health department finally gets power to shut dirty eateries

Sam Wood of Philly.com writes that for years, whenever the Philadelphia health department discovered a restaurant with hygiene problems that posed a public threat, it has ordered the business to shut down and clean up.

rockey.meat.feb.16And for years, restaurants have been able to ignore those cease-and-desist orders.

That’s set to change in March.

An agreement signed by the health agency and the Department of Licenses & Inspections will give health inspectors the power to shut down problem eateries, said Palak Raval-Nelson, director of Environmental Health Services.

“For so long, we’ve only had a water gun to squirt, and now we’re getting an Uzi,” said Raval-Nelson.

As the policy stands now, if inspectors find inadequate refrigeration, an infestation of mice, or spilled sewage, they can do little more than ask L&I to step in.

“Our authority has been limited to asking for a voluntary closure,” Raval-Nelson said.

Nine times out of 10, proprietors agreed to close, she said. Those who didn’t were referred to L&I.

Under the new agreement, in the works since July 2015, health officials can act on their own, said Chief Deputy City Solicitor Andrew Ross.

“It makes the process more efficient,” Ross said. “We’re not growing any new teeth, we’re just moving them from one mouth to the other.”

The discovery of vermin will trigger an automatic 48-hour closure, Raval-Nelson said.

“It’s very difficult to get rid of vermin in less time,” she said. “You can’t go running around stomping on the mice and roaches.”

Though Philadelphia has resisted issuing letter grades for restaurant sanitation, it has made health reports public through the city’s website. (They are compiled at philly.com/cleanplates.) Public attention to the issue was heightened early last year when about 100 lawyers and students were sickened after eating at Joy Tsin Lau, a frequently cited restaurant in Chinatown.

E. albertii: Prevalence in retail raw meat in China

Escherichia albertii is a newly emerging enteric pathogen that has been associated with gastroenteritis in humans.

e.albertiiRecently, E. albertii has also been detected in healthy and sick birds, animals, chicken meat and water. In the present study, the prevalence and characteristics of the eae-positive, lactose non-fermenting E. albertii strains in retail raw meat in China were evaluated.

Thirty isolates of such strains of E. albertii were identified from 446 (6·73%) samples, including duck intestines (21·43%, 6/28), duck meat (9·52%, 2/21), chicken intestines (8·99%, 17/189), chicken meat (5·66%, 3/53), mutton meat (4·55%, 1/22) and pork meat (2·44%, 1/41). None was isolated from 92 samples of raw beef meat. Strains were identified as E. albertii by phenotypic properties, diagnostic PCR, sequence analysis of the 16S rRNA gene, and housekeeping genes. Five intimin subtypes were harboured by these strains. All strains possessed the II/III/V subtype group of the cdtB gene, with two strains carrying another copy of the I/IV subtype group. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis showed high genetic diversity of E. albertii in raw meats.

Our findings indicate that E. albertii can contaminate various raw meats, posing a potential threat to public health.

Prevalence of eae-positive, lactose non-fermenting Escherichia albertii from retail raw meat in China

Epidemiology and Infection / Volume 144 / Issue 01 / January 2016, pp 45-52

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=10043856&utm_source=Issue_Alert&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=HYG

Modeling toxo in meat

Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite that is responsible for approximately 24% of deaths attributed to foodborne pathogens in the United States.

doug.cats.jun.14It is thought that a substantial portion of human T. gondii infections is acquired through the consumption of meats. The dose-response relationship for human exposures to T. gondii-infected meat is unknown because no human data are available. The goal of this study was to develop and validate dose-response models based on animal studies, and to compute scaling factors so that animal-derived models can predict T. gondii infection in humans. Relevant studies in literature were collected and appropriate studies were selected based on animal species, stage, genotype of T. gondii, and route of infection. Data were pooled and fitted to four sigmoidal-shaped mathematical models, and model parameters were estimated using maximum likelihood estimation. Data from a mouse study were selected to develop the dose-response relationship.Exponential and beta-Poisson models, which predicted similar responses, were selected as reasonable dose-response models based on their simplicity, biological plausibility, and goodness fit. A confidence interval of the parameter was determined by constructing 10,000 bootstrap samples. Scaling factors were computed by matching the predicted infection cases with the epidemiological data. Mouse-derived models were validated against data for the dose-infection relationship in rats. A human dose-response model was developed as P (d) = 1–exp (–0.0015 × 0.005 × d) or P (d) = 1–(1 + d × 0.003 / 582.414)−1.479. Both models predict the human response after consuming T. gondii-infected meats, and provide an enhanced risk characterization in a quantitative microbial risk assessment model for this pathogen.

 Development of Dose-Response Models to Predict the Relationship for Human Toxoplasma gondii Infection Associated with Meat Consumption

Risk Analysis, 19 October 2015

M Guo, A Mishra, R Buchanan, J Dubey, D Hill, H Gamble, J Jones, X Du, and A Pradhan

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/risa.12500/abstract

 

‘I paid the guy in meat’ Barter grows in Greece

Thodoris Roussos stood in his butcher’s shop and pointed to a large white delivery truck at the curb.

greece.barterFor months, he had put off replacing the tires, because Greece’s financial crisis had cut into business. But recently, he upgraded the van with a set of good wheels at a price that could not be beat.

“Normally, the tires cost 340 euros, but no money changed hands,” Mr. Roussos said, beaming. “I paid the guy in meat.”

As Greece grapples with a continued downturn, bartering is gaining traction at the margins of the economy, part of a collection of worrisome signs for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who was re-elected on Sunday.

Graphic artists are exchanging designs for olive oil. Accountants swap advice for office supplies. In the agricultural heartland and on the Greek islands, informal bartering, which has historically helped communities survive, has intensified as more people exchange fruits, vegetables, other crops, equipment, clothing and services.

South Carolina man smuggled stolen steak in his colostomy bag

A 55-year-old American man has been arrested after he allegedly stole packages of steak from a supermarket and concealed the meat in his colostomy bag.

colostomy.bagDavid Early Hoyt (not this dude) was tracked down by police officers from Spartanburg County in South Carolina after they were contacted by supermarket employees who claimed they had spotted a man stealing five packages of rib-eye steak, worth $75, by stuffing them in a bag.

The eagle-eyed employees managed to take note of the man’s licence plate number as he drove away in a green Nissan sedan.

UK minister says cut food safety audits

George Eustice, DEFRA’s newly appointed Minister of State, told the British Meat Processors Association’s annual conference in London that  meat manufacturers – and food businesses at large – must be freed from the “burden” of audits.

Eustice argues the need for fewer audits was one of the key findings to come out of Professor Chris Elliott’s report into 2013 horsemeat scandal. By the end of 2015 the government hopes to have finalised a strategy that paves the way for fewer inspections from both retailers and government agencies.

audit.checklistBut could it backfire?

Consumer trust in food safety is at an all time low

Thanks to wholesale media coverage of some notable cases of food fraud and breaches of food safety, we are living in an age of major consumer scepticism. The public wants to see tighter regulations on the food industry and it’s easy to see how the call for reduced audits could be perceived as a step backwards, not forwards.

It’s a stance that’s difficult to begrudge. Little has been done to ratchet-up traceability and safety measures since horsegate.

One thing that most food businesses agree on is the need for food safety procedures to be more streamlined. Paper-based checks are easy to falsify, annoying to complete and time-consuming to review. Eustice appeared to recognise as much when he noted that a greater use of technology must be central to any plans to reduce the incidence of audits.

Any government strategy to remove unnecessary burdens from food businesses will be warmly received. But food businesses must remember their obligation of safety to the end consumer. Technology that offers cloud integration presents the opportunity for food businesses to share safety data with one another on an open platform, paving the way towards transparent food chains.

Inspections and audits are not synonymous with safety. Beyond sharing data amongst companies, share it with everyone – especially consumers.

Three years ago, a group of us came out with a paper we could all (mostly) agree with and got it published. The main points were:

  • food safety audits and inspections are a key component of the nation’s food safety system and their use will expand in the future, for both domestic and imported foodstuffs., but recent failures can be emotionally, physically and financially devastating to the victims and the businesses involved;
  • many outbreaks involve firms that have had their food production systems verified and received acceptable ratings from food safety auditors or government inspectors;
  • while inspectors and auditors play an active role in overseeing compliance, the burden for food safety lies primarily with food producers;
  • there are lots of limitations with audits and inspections, just like with restaurants inspections, but with an estimated 48 million sick each year in the U.S., the question should be, how best to improve food safety?
  • audit reports are only useful if the purchaser or food producer reviews the results, understands the risks addressed by the standards and makes risk-reduction decisions based on the results;
  • sunnybrook-auditorthere appears to be a disconnect between what auditors provide (a snapshot) and what buyers believe they are doing (a full verification or certification of product and process);
  • third-party audits are only one performance indicator and need to be supplemented with microbial testing, second-party audits of suppliers and the in-house capacity to meaningfully assess the results of audits and inspections;
  • companies who blame the auditor or inspector for outbreaks of foodborne illness should also blame themselves;
  • assessing food-handling practices of staff through internal observations, externally-led evaluations, and audit and inspection results can provide indicators of a food safety culture; and,
  • the use of audits to help create, improve, and maintain a genuine food safety culture holds the most promise in preventing foodborne illness and safeguarding public health.

Audits and inspections are never enough: A critique to enhance food safety

30.aug.12

Food Control

D.A. Powell, S. Erdozain, C. Dodd, R. Costa, K. Morley, B.J. Chapman

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713512004409?v=s5

Abstract

Internal and external food safety audits are conducted to assess the safety and quality of food including on-farm production, manufacturing practices, sanitation, and hygiene. Some auditors are direct stakeholders that are employed by food establishments to conduct internal audits, while other auditors may represent the interests of a second-party purchaser or a third-party auditing agency. Some buyers conduct their own audits or additional testing, while some buyers trust the results of third-party audits or inspections. Third-party auditors, however, use various food safety audit standards and most do not have a vested interest in the products being sold. Audits are conducted under a proprietary standard, while food safety inspections are generally conducted within a legal framework. There have been many foodborne illness outbreaks linked to food processors that have passed third-party audits and inspections, raising questions about the utility of both. Supporters argue third-party audits are a way to ensure food safety in an era of dwindling economic resources. Critics contend that while external audits and inspections can be a valuable tool to help ensure safe food, such activities represent only a snapshot in time. This paper identifies limitations of food safety inspections and audits and provides recommendations for strengthening the system, based on developing a strong food safety culture, including risk-based verification steps, throughout the food safety system.