Jeni’s ice cream back after Listeria positives, changes

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams LLC is reopening its production kitchen, but it no longer will be making its ice cream.

jenis-ice-creamThe Columbus-based ice cream maker’s facility at 909 Michigan Ave. will now be used to handle and prepare ingredients, but final production of its products will continue to be done by Orrville-based Smith Dairy, which has been making the company’s ice cream since the production kitchen closed for a second time back in June.

The company declined to answer questions about its new production process at this time.

(Note to self: building trust requires transparency).

Ingredients from farms will be processed in a kitchen separate from the production facility. Produce will not move into the production kitchen until it has been cleaned, peeled, shucked or hulled in that first kitchen.

The production kitchen will still prepare certain ingredients because it has the specialized equipment to do so.

Ingredients then will be transported to Smith Diary, which supplies Jeni’s with its grass-grazed milk and cream, and will be mixed with dairy and frozen into ice cream there.

Every batch will be tested for listeria and other bacteria before going to the public.

The company will continue to handle all of its own research and development and ingredient sourcing, as it was doing prior to the shutdowns.

After Listeria, Jeni’s Splendid founder calls for more industry self-regulation

From the duh files.

Listeria contamination last spring at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams taught company founder Jeni Britton Bauer one lesson: The food industry can’t rely solely on state and federal inspectors to protect consumers.

listeria4The industry also needs to take an active role.

“What has to change is how businesses view our responsibilities,” Bauer said Thursday during what was billed as a “true confessions” talk at Lowcountry Local First’s Good Business Summit in Charleston.

“Do we rely on their periodics (inspections)? Do we rely on our health inspectors any more?” Bauer said. “Absolutely no. Because we know that they are not experts in food safety, they are experts in the law and those are totally different things.

 “The responsibility is on business … to make healthy things, to keep people healthy.”

What Bauer didn’t know at the time, she said, was that the FDA had known about the Listeria problem long before it went public.

“They knew about it for like three weeks, crazy, before it ever got to us, which is very weird,” Bauer said.

FDA spokeswoman Lauren Sucher said she could not immediately verify if that timeline was accurate. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture is the agency that discovered the contamination and officials from that agency have declined to say when the sample was collected.

Been there. Done that.

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.

Whole genome sequencing: US FDA wants food companies to hand over their pathogens

Investigations into foodborne illness are being radically transformed by whole genome sequencing, which federal officials say is enabling them to identify the source of an outbreak far more quickly and prevent additional cases.

whole.genome.sequencingPreviously, samples from sick patients were sent to state and federal labs, where disease detectives ran tests to see if the infections were caused by the same bug. When enough matches emerged, typically a dozen or so, epidemiologists interviewed sick people, looking for a common food that was causing the outbreak.

But the testing wasn’t definitive, and linking one case to another took time. “While all of this was going on, more contaminated product was getting out into the public,” said Dr. Steven Musser, deputy director for scientific operations at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

Now, the FDA is building a network of state and federal labs equipped to map out the exact DNA sequence of strains of Listeria, Salmonella and other foodborne pathogens found in sick patients. These sequences are then uploaded to a public database housed at the National Institutes of Health. The technology can not only differentiate a pathogen from multiple related species, but can also show slight mutations within the same strain.

At the same time, the FDA has begun sequencing pathogens found during routine plant inspections and adding those to the database. One benefit of that, they say, is being able to quickly connect patients within an outbreak. Another is the potential to identify the source of an outbreak after just a few patients fall ill, shortening the time it takes to get tainted food off store shelves.

To increase the odds of a match, the FDA wants manufacturers to contribute samples of pathogens found during their own plant inspections. Some contamination is common in food plants. When it is found in the manufacturing facility, but not in food products, companies generally are required only to clean it up without recalling products.

But eliminating pathogens is tough, and convincing companies to offer up potentially incriminating evidence has been a hard sell, according to interviews with public health officials, food manufacturers and experts on recalls.

 

Consumers in Bangladesh feel unsafe about food

Nearly two years into passage of the Food Safety Act 2013 and six months into formation of the Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA), consumers are still anxious about food adulteration in the country, said speakers yesterday.

Food-security_bdMany consumers, agricultural scientists, right activists, and policy planners, at a seminar, demanded that the BFSA inform the public about its progress in enforcing the act which came into force amidst a huge public outcry over widespread food adulteration.

Cyclospora will do that: Cilantro shortage hits Illinois restaurants, grocery stores

In the produce aisle at a Round Lake Beach grocery store, Valerie Brown hesitated before plucking a bunch of cilantro from between the parsley and green onions.

cilantro.slugs.powell.10She’s used to paying 75 cents for a bundle of the leafy green herb, she said. Today, the price read $1.99.

Even that was better than last week, said Brown, who lives in Antioch. Her husband visited three grocery stores and couldn’t find a single sprig. Cilantro is her parakeets’ favorite food, so she put a bundle in her cart despite the sticker shock.

Grocery stores and restaurants in the area said they’ve been noticing the same higher-than-usual prices and tighter-than-usual supply since officials implemented a partial import ban on some cilantro imported from Mexico.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration and state public health officials linked cilantro from the state of Puebla, Mexico to outbreaks of cyclosporiasis in the U.S. in 2013 and 2014 and identified it as the possible cause of a 2015 outbreak, according to an import alert the FDA posted in July. About 40 percent of cilantro sold in the U.S. is grown in Puebla, said FDA spokeswoman Lauren Sucher.

Food bugs: ‘You can’t stop what’s comin’ they aren’t waitin’ on you, that’s vanity’

My latest for Texas A&M’s Center for Food Safety:

no.country.for.old.menMy worst failure as a human is that many loving, generous and smart people want to help me.

And I don’t want their help.

But sometimes, people need help, even if they don’t know it.

I sliced the tip off my thumb while making the girls’ lunch – food safety risk – and after three hours of bleeding, I finally took my wife’s advice and ended up with a few stitches.

I apply these lessons to food safety. The outbreaks that occur, the terrible soundbites, the gross mismanagement and I wonder, why didn’t they seek help sooner?

Most of it is psychological, just like my resistance to seek help, or, as one correspondent wrote, “it simply can’t happen. Until it does.”

Top 10 signs someone may need microbial food safety help:

The bugs will keep on coming, and whether it’s pride or vanity, people will ignore the protective measures until they get caught.

Dr. Douglas Powell is a former professor of food safety who shops, cooks and ferments from his home in Brisbane, Australia.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the original creator and do not necessarily represent that of the Texas A&M Center for Food Safety or Texas A&M University. 

Leafs are bumpy: Change in disinfecting spinach, salad greens could reduce illness

Cross contamination in commercial processing facilities that prepare spinach and other leafy greens for the market can make people sick. But researchers are reporting a new, easy-to-implement method that could eliminate or reduce such incidences.

howcleanisyoThe scientists will present their work at the 250th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Spinach or other leafy salad greens were responsible for 18 food-poisoning outbreaks over the last decade.

Greens are washed by commercial processes before they head to the grocery store. But these methods, which can include water and bleach rinses or irradiation, are not completely effective, says Nichola Kinsinger, Ph.D. She says scientists have estimated that 99 percent of food-borne illnesses from leafy greens can be traced back to disinfection issues. As a result, they have searched for and developed a different approach to attacking the bacteria, most notably E. coli, which is the cause of many outbreaks.

“Despite current disinfection rinsing, bacteria are surviving on the leaf and causing cross contamination, resulting in the numerous outbreaks we hear about in the media,” Kinsinger says. She is a postdoc in the lab of Sharon Walker, Ph.D., at the University of California, Riverside. “Pathogens can come from irrigation waters or from water used during processing, and they can adhere to spinach leaves. If these bacteria are not all killed in the disinfection process, they can continue to live, grow, spread and contaminate other surfaces within the facility and other leaves.”

Using a parallel-plate flow chamber system that Walker developed, the researchers tested the real-time attachment and detachment of bacteria to the outer layer of spinach leaves. At low bleach concentrations, the bacteria fell off the leaves, but remained alive. At the higher concentrations used commercially, however, all of the bacteria were killed. “This result was perplexing,” Walker says. “Our experiments were telling us that commercial bleach rinses should be much more effective than they are. But then we studied the leaf itself in more detail.”

A spinach leaf is not perfectly smooth, she notes. So, the team modeled how the bleach would move across the surface of a spinach leaf, taking its bumps and grooves into account. Surprisingly, the model revealed that the concentrations of bleach on leaves may not be consistent.

“We found that because of the topology of the spinach leaf, nearly 15 percent of the surface may ‘see’ a bleach concentration that is 1,000-times less than that of the rinse solution,” Kinsinger says. In some cases, that translated to a 90 percent bacterial survival in their tests—and a high risk for cross contamination.

To reduce that risk, the researchers are optimizing an inexpensive titanium dioxide (TiO2) photocatalyst that companies could add to the rinse water or use to coat equipment surfaces that come into contact with the leaves as they are processed. When TiO2 absorbs light, it produces a strong oxidant that kills bacteria.

The scientists now plan to conduct more studies on the photocatalyst, and they will look at a broader range of foods, engineered surfaces and pathogens.

 

67 sick: Raw oysters can suck and yes, I’ve temped oysters on the grill

Canadian health types are now investigating 67 Canadian cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections in British Columbia and Alberta linked to raw shellfish. The majority of the illnesses have been linked to the eating of raw oysters.

oysters.grillThe risk to Canadians is low, and illnesses can be avoided if shellfish are cooked before being eaten.

In Canada, a total of 67 cases have been reported in British Columbia (48) and Alberta (19). One case has been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Individuals became sick between June 1 and August 7, 2015 and all reported consumption of raw shellfish, primarily oysters. The investigation is ongoing to determine the source and distribution of these products.

The following safe food practices will reduce your risk of getting sick from Vibrio and other foodborne illnesses.

-Do not eat raw shellfish.

-Cook shellfish thoroughly before eating, especially oysters. Shellfish should be cooked to a safe internal temperature of 74°C (165°F).

-Discard any shellfish that do not open when cooked.

-Eat shellfish right away after cooking and refrigerate leftovers.

-Always keep raw and cooked shellfish separate.

-Avoid eating oysters, or other seafood, when taking antacids as reduced stomach acid may favour the survival and growth of Vibrio species.

-Always wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap after using the bathroom.

-Avoid exposing open wounds or broken skin to warm salt or brackish water, or to raw shellfish. Wear protective clothing (like gloves) when handling raw shellfish.

-Wash your hands well with soap before handling any food. Be sure to wash your hands, cutting boards, counters, knives and other utensils after preparing raw foods.

 

Can labels of tenderized beef prevent E. coli illness?

Labels are a lousy information vehicle; but they’re a start.

According the this report from CBS, needle or mechanical tenderizing is where cuts of meat is pierced with needles or sliced with blades to break down collagen and make it taste better. But the meat could make you sick if not cooked properly.

needle.tenderize.crBrian Buckley, who works for the Institute of Culinary Education, said the process drives surface contaminants, including potentially lethal E. coli, deeper into the meat so cooking is less likely to kill them.

“If you don’t cook the meat thoroughly to 160 degrees all the way through, you could expose people who east more medium to medium rare to E. coli,” he explained.

The problem is there’s no way to know if the meat you’re buying is tenderized. There are no labels to alert consumers.

Between 2000 and 2009 there were five documented outbreaks of E. coli linked to mechanically tenderized beef, leaving 174 people sick, and one dead.

Starting in 2016, tenderized beef in the U.S. will have to be labeled as such, along with cooking instructions. Labels are already required in Canada.

About 25 percent of beef sold in stores is tenderized.

Blue Bell is shipping ice cream again after Listeria outbreak

Blue Bell Creameries began shipping ice cream from its facility in Sylacauga, Ala., on Tuesday, more than three months after an outbreak of listeria contamination nearly devastated the Southwestern ice cream favorite and forced the closing of all four of its plants.

blue.bell.jul.15But while this week’s move put frozen treats one step closer to consumers, the company said it did not yet know which stores would ultimately restock their shelves with Blue Bell flavors, or how soon.

“We’ve still got to meet with our retailers,” said Joe Robertson, Blue Bell’s advertising and public relations manager. “Retailers have been very supportive of us.”

Three people died and several others became ill after eating Blue Bell ice cream products contaminated with the listeria bacteria. A series of recalls and cleanups at the plants failed to eradicate the problem, and in April, the company voluntarily pulled all of its ice cream from store shelves.

Mr. Robertson said that the company had hired microbiologists to help review its safety procedures, and that every batch of ice cream would be tested before shipment. State officials in Alabama began collecting their own samples in late July, and cleared Blue Bell on Aug.

The Alabama plant is the only one of the company’s plants — two others are in Texas and one is in Oklahoma — that has been reopened and is producing the company’s products. Before the shutdown, the Alabama plant accounted for about 20 percent of Blue Bell’s items, Mr. Robertson said.

Blue Bell must notify the Texas Department of State Health Services two weeks before it resumes production, according to Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the agency.

 “In FDA testing, more than 99 percent of Blue Bell products had Listeria in it,” Mike Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, told Yahoo Health. “It was incredible. It wasn’t high levels, but it was there.”

Blue Bell has said its plants have gone through extensive cleaning and decontamination, but is it enough?

Doyle says it should be. Here’s why: Blue Bell likely had to strip down all of its plant equipment, take it all apart, and fully clean and sanitize everything. That includes getting rid of biofilms, a mucus-like substance that can surround bacteria like Listeria and protect it from sanitizers that would otherwise kill it.

Once that’s completed, the equipment will be tested and re-tested, and the ice cream will be frequently checked and swabbed to make sure it’s listeria-free.

“The FDA has jurisdiction over this, and they’re going to be monitoring the whole thing,” says Doyle. “The FDA is going to be all over these Blue Bell plants for a while.”

Doyle adds that it’s actually not uncommon for Listeria to get into processing facilities, since “some soil contains listeria and it can come in on plant workers’ shoes.” However, “the key is to control it,” he says.

Unfortunately, Doyle says there’s no way of visibly telling whether your ice cream is Listeria-free — you have to trust the manufacturer.

Or they could market food safety at retail and make microbial test results public.