You can’t handle the truth: Surveys still suck and do not measure behavior

Food safety training is an important tool in preventing foodborne illness (FI), which affects millions of people each year in the United States and around the world and costs billions of dollars.

food.safety.trainingTraining gives those working in the food service industry the knowledge and skills necessary to properly handle, cook and serve food.

The objectives of this research was to assess changes in knowledge of Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County’s (PHDMC) Level One Food Safety Certification program participants, analyze which questions were most often answered incorrectly, and determine whether there was a relationship between quiz scores and primary job responsibility, using pre- and postquiz training data. The course teaches food safety topics, including handwashing, employee hygiene, correct cooking and holding temperatures, sanitization duties of the person in charge, and others. The participants are offered a quiz at the beginning of the course, and the same quiz is offered after completion of the two-hour training.

Pre-training and post-training quiz score data were obtained from approximately 692 participants completing the PHDMC Level One Food Safety Certification program from 2011 to 2013. Paired t-tests were used to evaluate change in scores overall, on individual questions, and by job responsibility. Quiz scores significantly improved both aggregately (20.6%) and in nine out of the ten questions. The temperature-related questions had the most incorrect answers (score range: 38% – 71%) but also showed the most improvement (improvement range: 28% – 49%). This research shows that PHDMC’s Level One Food Safety Certification class was associated with a change in knowledge of participants from pre- to post-training.

Increasing knowledge with food safety training at public health – Dayton & Montgomery County

Food Protection Trends, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 262-269, July 2015

Matthew M. Tyler, Naila Khalil, Sara Paton

http://www.foodprotection.org/publications/food-protection-trends/article-archive/2015-07increasing-knowledge-with-food-safety-training-at-public-health-dayton-montgomery-county/

Sounds like hucksterism and Pinto defense: Chinese ‘mall’ for Australian food

Billionaire Richard Liu has further opened Australian food producers to the massive Chinese consumer market, launching an “Australia Mall” channel on China’s biggest online trading platform, JD.com.

Richard LiuThe 40-year-old Mr Liu, China’s 11th-richest man, was in Melbourne launching the new platform and announcing a deal with Treasury Wines to use the system, under which a2 milk is already sold.

“We believe it’s important to market the country first and then its product and we want to promote Australia as a very clean, very natural and very beautiful country,” he told The Australian.

“We also want to make Chinese people aware of how straight and stringent Australian regulations are in regards to food safety and security.”

Mr Liu said the platform would focus on food and cosmetics in Australia but also healthcare, sports, shoes, baby goods and others. A deal with Australia Post was also announced today.

JD, which is a $US46 billion company listed on the Nasdaq, has 100 million Chinese users and is the world’s third-biggest online trading platform, meaning there are big opportunities for local companies that team up with JD.

Going public: Yes, Blue Bell sucks at risk analysis

Food safety experts, puzzling over the earliest days of Blue Bell Creameries’ response to a finding of listeria in some of its products, were confused.

blue.bell.scoopsIn mid-February, company workers began quietly reclaiming products from retailers and institutional customers such as hospitals. That was about a month before the iconic Texas-based ice-cream maker announced its first product recall in 108 years.

The stealth approach, called a withdrawal, came before any illness had been linked to the tainted ice cream. A withdrawal, which generally is used for minor problems, requires no broad notice to the public.

While the state health department called the withdrawal acceptable, some food safety experts are questioning why the public was not made aware of Blue Bell’s issues sooner.

“With something like this, I don’t understand how they got away with doing a withdrawal,” said Cliff Coles, president of California Microbiological Consulting Inc. “Withdrawal is not nearly as strong of language as a recall. If you knew that you had listeria, why wasn’t it a recall?

“I think they could have stepped up to the plate a whole lot quicker and done a whole lot more to protect the consuming public,” he added. “They pussyfooted around what they should have done in the first place.”

He and other food safety experts said they were unaware of any past cases in which a withdrawal, rather than a public recall, was used in a case in which a pathogen such as listeria was found in a ready-to-eat food.

Blue Bell, which first announced the listeria issue in a March 13 recall notice, has declined to go into detail about the withdrawal, citing pending litigation.

Blue Bell has been criticized for moving slowly to alert the public to the magnitude of its problem. The March 13 recall notice came as a terse, six-paragraph statement that pointed the finger at a specific production line that put out a “limited” amount of product. The release noted that “all products produced by this machine were withdrawn. Our Blue Bell team members recovered all involved products in stores and storage.”

listeria4Asked if that means 100 percent of the amount distributed was reclaimed, and that none of the product ended up in the hands of consumers, the company declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

That’s a key point. Food safety experts said a withdrawal would only be appropriate if the company could guarantee that it could account for 100 percent of the product that left the plant.

“Even if one [listeria-tainted] box was sold, at that point, the mechanism is no longer withdrawal,” said Mansour Samadpour, president of Seattle-based IEH Laboratories, a food consulting firm. “It has to be a recall. You have to announce it so anyone who purchased it would know not to consume it.”

“The key there is 100 percent,” he said.

In emailed answers to questions from The Dallas Morning News, Blue Bell challenged the notion that it did not move quickly enough to protect public health.

“From the moment we found out about a presumptive positive [listeria] test on February 13, we began working with regulators and immediately retrieved (we call this a withdrawal) the products that were on the market, which had been produced on a specific machine,” the company said. “That machine was already down for maintenance, so no more products were produced on that machine, and it has since been retired.

“As soon as we were notified on February 13, we notified FDA, and began instructing our employees to recover the products in question, which had been distributed to institutional and retail sales accounts,” the company said. “We went to those account locations and withdrew the products.”

Ignoring the safety: NZ company guilty of supplying Listeria-infected meat to hospital

We won’t get caught. No one got sick yesterday, so there’s a greater chance no one will get sick today.

These basics of of the human psyche continue to undermine tragedies from Bhopal to BP to the Challenger and food safety.

But with all the toys and technology, you’ll be found out – so act accordingly, even if decent humanity is not enough against the directive of profit.

A meat processor, its director and an employee have admitted selling Listeria-contaminated meat to the Hawke’s Bay Hospital and omitting to listeria4provide test results showing meat had tested positive.

The Hawke’s Bay District Health Board discovered cold ready to eat meats supplied by the company was contaminated in July 2012, after a number of Listeria cases had been linked to the hospital kitchen.

The outbreak claimed the life of 68-year-old Patricia Hutchinson on June 9 that year, and contributed to the death of an 81-year-old woman on July 9. Two other people were infected.

Bay Cuisine has pleaded guilty to charges laid under the Food Act and was not charged in connection with the Listeria infections.

When the health board discovered a link between the infections and the hospital kitchen it sent 62 unopened plastic pouches of Bay Cuisine meat products to ESR for testing. All the pouches were found to contain Listeria.

A summary of facts complied by the Ministry for Primary Industries said the company had the contract to supply the hospital since 2002.

The summary states that on July 9, 2012 the DHB requested copies of all test results Bay Cuisine had carried out for Listeria. Production manager Christopher Mackie replied by telling the DHB a batch of corned silverside had tested negative for Listeria, when in fact it had tested “presumptive positive”.

The following day an officer from the Ministry, investigating the Listeria cases at the hospital, requested test results. Mackie sent these on July 13 but again omitted reports showing that some products had tested “presumptive positive”.

But analysis of cellphone text messages between MacKie and company director Garth Wise show that on the evening of July 12 Wise had sent a text to Mackie suggesting that he “hold back the presumptive listeria ones [results] as there is only 3 or 4 of them and we just send the good”.

A subsequent search of the Bay Cuisine premises by the Ministry found the company had not provided the original, correct spreadsheet to the Ministry. This spreadsheet showed positive Listeria tests for meat products on June 18 and July 10.

Bay Cuisine, Wise and Mackie appeared in Napier District Court on Friday.

Through its lawyer Jonathan Krebs the company pleaded guilty to five representative charges of selling contaminated food, one charge of suppressing test results and one charge of omitting to provide information to the Ministry. Mackie pleaded guilty to one charge of suppressing test results and one of omitting information. Wise pleaded guilty to one charge of omitting information.

More than 140 other charges were dropped by the Ministry. The company and the men vacated not-guilty pleas that had entered a year ago.

Other charges to which the company pleaded guilty related to meats it had provided to various outlets between May and July 2012.

The company faces a fine of up to $500,000 on the charges of deception and omitting information and fines of up to $5000 for each of the other five charges. Wise and Mackie faces a maximum fine of $100,000.

Almost 1800 sickened: It’s summer (up north), but beware the water

Outbreaks of illness associated with recreational water use result from exposure to chemicals or infectious pathogens in recreational water venues that are treated (e.g., pools and hot tubs or spas) or untreated (e.g., lakes and oceans).

caddyshackFor 2011–2012, the most recent years for which finalized data were available, public health officials from 32 states and Puerto Rico reported 90 recreational water–associated outbreaks to CDC’s Waterborne Disease and Outbreak Surveillance System (WBDOSS) via the National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS).

The 90 outbreaks resulted in at least 1,788 cases, 95 hospitalizations, and one death. Among 69 (77%) outbreaks associated with treated recreational water, 36 (52%) were caused by Cryptosporidium. Among 21 (23%) outbreaks associated with untreated recreational water, seven (33%) were caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli O157:H7 or E. coli O111). Guidance, such as the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC), for preventing and controlling recreational water–associated outbreaks can be optimized when informed by national outbreak and laboratory (e.g., molecular typing of Cryptosporidium) data.

A recreational water–associated outbreak is the occurrence of similar illnesses in two or more persons, epidemiologically linked by location and time of exposure to recreational water or recreational water–associated chemicals volatilized into the air surrounding the water. Public health officials in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and Freely Associated States* voluntarily report outbreaks of recreational water–associated illness to CDC. In 2010, waterborne outbreaks became nationally notifiable. This report summarizes data on recreational water–associated outbreaks electronically reported by October 30, 2014 to CDC’s WBDOSS (http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/surveillance/) for 2011 and 2012 via NORS.† Data requested for each outbreak include the number of cases,§ hospitalizations, and deaths; etiology; setting (e.g., hotel) and venue (e.g., hot tub or spa) where the exposure occurred; earliest illness onset date; and illness type. All outbreaks are classified according to the strength of data implicating recreational water as the outbreak vehicle (1). ¶Outbreak reports classified as Class I have the strongest supporting epidemiologic, clinical laboratory and environmental health data, and those classified as Class IV, the weakest. Classification does not assess adequacy or completeness of investigations.** Negative binomial regression (PROC GENMOD in SAS 9.3 [Cary, NC]) was used to assess trends in the number of outbreaks over time.

For the years 2011 and 2012, public health officials from 32 states and Puerto Rico reported 90 recreational water–associated outbreaks (http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/surveillance/rec-water-tables-figures.html) (Figure 1), which resulted in at least 1,788 cases, 95 (5%) hospitalizations, and one death. Etiology was confirmed for 73 (81%) outbreaks: 69 (77%) outbreaks were caused by infectious pathogens, including two outbreaks with multiple etiologies, and four (4%) by chemicals (Table). Among the outbreaks caused by infectious pathogens, 37 (54%) were caused by Cryptosporidium. On the basis of data reported to CDC, 37 (41%) of the 90 outbreak reports were categorized as class IV.

Outbreaks associated with treated recreational water accounted for 69 (77%) of the 90 outbreaks reported for 2011–2012, and resulted in at least 1,309 cases, 73 hospitalizations, and one reported death. The median number of cases reported for these outbreaks was seven (range: 2–144 cases). Hotels (e.g., hotel, motel, lodge, or inn) were the setting of 13 (19%) of the treated recreational water–associated outbreaks. Twelve (92%) of these 13 outbreaks started outside of June–August; ten (77%) were at least in part associated with a spa. Among the 69 outbreaks, 36 (52%) were caused by Cryptosporidium. The 69 outbreaks had a seasonal distribution, with 42 (61%) starting in June–August (Figure 1). Acute gastrointestinal illness was the disease manifestation in 34 (81%) of these summer outbreaks, with Cryptosporidium causing 32 (94%) of them. Since 1988, the year that the first U.S. treated recreational water–associated outbreak of cryptosporidiosis was detected (2,3) (Figure 2), the number of these outbreaks reported annually (range: 0–40 outbreaks) has significantly increased (negative binomial regression; p<0.001). Incidence of these cryptosporidiosis outbreaks has also, at least in part, driven the significant increase (negative binomial regression; p<0.001) in the overall number of recreational water–associated outbreaks reported annually (range: 6–84).

caddyshack.pool.poop-1For 2011–2012, 21 (23%) outbreaks were associated with untreated recreational water. These outbreaks resulted in at least 479 cases and 22 hospitalizations. The median number of cases reported for these outbreaks was 16 (range: 2–125). Twenty (95%) of these outbreaks were associated with fresh water; 18 (86%) began in June–August; and seven (33%) were caused by E. coli O157:H7 or O111. One outbreak associated with exposure to cyanobacterial toxins was reported.

Discussion

Cryptosporidium continues to be the dominant etiology of recreational water–associated outbreaks. Half of all treated recreational water–associated outbreaks reported for 2011–2012 were caused by Cryptosporidium. Among treated recreational water–associated outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness that began in June–August, >90% were caused by Cryptosporidium, an extremely chlorine-tolerant parasite that can survive in water at CDC-recommended chlorine levels (1–3 mg/L) and pH (7.2–7.8) for >10 days (4). In contrast, among 14 untreated recreational water–associated outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness starting in June–August, 7% (one) were caused by Cryptosporidium. The decreased diversity of infectious etiologies causing treated recreational water–associated outbreaks is likely a consequence of the aquatic sector’s reliance on halogen disinfection (e.g., chlorine or bromine) and maintenance of proper pH, which are well documented to inactivate most infectious pathogens within minutes (5). Continued reporting of treated recreational water–associated outbreaks caused by chlorine-intolerant pathogens (e.g., E. coli O157:H7 and norovirus) highlights the need for continued vigilance in maintaining water quality (i.e., disinfectant level and pH), as has been recommended for decades (5).

In the United States, codes regulating public treated recreational water venues are independently written and enforced by individual state or local agencies; the consequent variation in the codes is a potential barrier to preventing and controlling outbreaks associated with these venues. In August 2014, CDC released the first edition of MAHC (http://www.cdc.gov/mahc), a comprehensive set of science-based and best-practice recommendations to reduce risk for illness and injury at public, treated recreational water venues. MAHC represents the culmination of a 7-year, multi-stakeholder effort and is an evolving resource that addresses emerging public health threats, such as treated recreational water-associated outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis, by incorporating the latest scientifically validated technologies that inactivate or remove infectious pathogens. For example, MAHC recommends additional water treatment (e.g., ultraviolet light or ozone) to inactivate Cryptosporidium oocysts at venues where WBDOSS data indicate there is increased risk for transmission. MAHC recommendations can be voluntarily adopted, in part or as a whole, by state and local jurisdictions.

The number of reported untreated recreational water–associated outbreaks confirmed or suspected to be caused by cyanobacterial toxins has decreased, from 11 (2009–2010) to one (2011–2012) (6). This decrease is likely the result of a decrease in outbreak reporting rather than a true decrease in incidence. CDC is currently developing a mechanism for reporting algal bloom–associated individual cases through NORS to better characterize their epidemiology.

The findings in this report are subject to at least two limitations. First, the outbreak counts presented are likely an underestimate of actual incidence. Many factors can present barriers to the detection, investigation, and reporting of outbreaks: 1) mild illness; 2) small outbreak size; 3) long incubation periods; 4) wide geographic dispersion of ill swimmers; 5) transient nature of contamination; 6) setting or venue of outbreak exposure (e.g., residential backyard pool); and 7) potential lack of communication between those who respond to outbreaks of chemical etiology (e.g., hazardous materials personnel) and those who usually report outbreaks (e.g., infectious disease epidemiologists). Second, because of variation in public health capacity and reporting requirements across jurisdictions, those reporting outbreaks most frequently might not be those in which outbreaks most frequently occur.

Increasingly, molecular typing tools are being employed to understand the epidemiology of waterborne disease and outbreaks. Most species and genotypes of Cryptosporidium are morphologically indistinguishable from one another, and only molecular methods can distinguish species and subtypes and thereby elucidate transmission pathways (7,8). Systematic national genotyping and subtyping of Cryptosporidium in clinical specimens and environmental samples through CryptoNet (http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/crypto/cryptonet.html) can identify circulating Cryptosporidium species and subtypes and help identify epidemiologic linkages between reported cases. Molecular typing could substantially help elucidate cryptosporidiosis epidemiology in the United States and inform development of future guidance to prevent recreational water–associated and other outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis (9,10).

Acknowledgments

State, territorial, local, and Freely Associated State waterborne disease coordinators, epidemiologists, and environmental health personnel; Lihua Xiao, Sarah A. Collier, Kathleen E. Fullerton, Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, CDC.

1Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, CDC; 2Environmental Protection Agency; 3Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Corresponding author: Michele C. Hlavsa, mhlavsa@cdc.gov, 404-71

Outbreaks of Illness Associated with Recreational Water — United States, 2011–2012

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Michele C. Hlavsa, MPH; Virginia A. Roberts, MSPH; Amy M. Kahler, MS; Elizabeth D. Hilborn, DVM; Taryn R. Mecher, MPH; Michael J. Beach, PhD; Timothy J. Wade, PhD; Jonathan S. Yoder, MPH

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6424a4.htm?s_cid=mm6424a4_e

Hangi? NZ food act will see unlicensed online sellers fined

I have no idea what hangi is, but because of the Intertubes, I looked it up (and wiki is never wrong):

Maori-HangiHāngi (Māori pronunciation: [ˈhaːŋi]) is a traditional New Zealand Māori method of cooking food using heated rocks buried in a pit oven still used for special occasions.

To “lay a hāngi” or “put down a hāngi” involves digging a pit in the ground, heating stones in the pit with a large fire, placing baskets of food on top of the stones, and covering everything with earth for several hours before uncovering (or lifting) the hāngi.[1]

According to New Zealand regs, selling homemade hangi without a licence could soon land people with a $450 fine.

The online sale of hangi and other food items has caused an influx of complaints to the New Plymouth District Council recently.

The council’s manager of regulatory services Mary-Anne Priest said phone calls about Facebook pages being used to sell homemade food, and in particular hangi, were growing.

“The staff here have said they’ve handled more complaints about food recently than ever before. People are seeing food for sale on websites and ringing the council to see if it’s ok,” Priest said.

“When we contact the sellers a lot of them seem a little bit unaware that they are required to be licensed. Once we have spoken to them a lot of them have stopped selling.”

She said one-off sales for fundraising events were exempt and the council was not concerned about those.

“But we will go and investigate if people are selling for personal gain.”

Priest said if the online sale of food from unlicensed sellers and unregistered kitchens continued after the Food Act 2014 came into effect in March, then sellers could be hit with a $450 fine for operating without a licence.

She said there would be significant changes happening under the new act and the regulations were due to be released by central government in the next two weeks.

Tastes like chicken: Insects set to appear on Swiss plates

Crickets, locusts and mealworms could be on Swiss menus and supermarket shelves next year, after being given the green light by the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office.

insects.foodHowever, the range of insects on offer is currently limited to these three species because of protein allergies and production conditions.

A consultation period on commercializing the consumption of insects runs until October.

At present, a permit is required to serve up insects, as has already been done at museum nights or at a buffet in parliament last year where politicians were served mealworm hamburgers, cricket rissoles and grasshopper mousse. Feedback was by and large positive.

The authorization of insects as food is part of a comprehensive revision of the Swiss food law.

On Monday the Food Safety and Veterinary Office announced a paradigm shift: all food should be allowed which is safe and corresponds to the law.

Until now it was the other way around: all food that was not explicitly mentioned in the law needed a permit. For example, a milk fat product that doesn’t contain enough milk to be turned into butter will in future no longer need a permit – although it still won’t be able to be sold as butter.

‘No food is safe’ Blue Bell, industry, flout Listeria guidelines

I treat all food as a risk, because I know how it’s produced, I’m familiar with the outbreaks, and I don’t get invited to dinner much.

But I eat (probably too much).

blue.bell.creameriesBlue Bell Creameries, according to the Houston Chronicle, ignored critical parts of federal recommendations aimed at preventing exactly the kind of foodborne illness that thrust the Texas institution into crisis this year.

Among the most straightforward: If listeria shows up in the plant, check for it in the ice cream.

The draft guidelines for fighting the bacteria inside cold food plants were published seven years ago. They were optional and have yet to be finalized but nonetheless provide a road map for hunting and destroying the bug.

Ice cream companies large and small have flouted the guidelines.

Blue Bell “is no better or no worse than probably 90 percent of the rest of the companies,” said Mansour Samadpour, whose IEH Laboratories runs testing programs and crisis consulting for food producers.

Three ice cream makers got into trouble with listeria within the last year: Snoqualmie Ice Cream in Washington state, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Ohio and the much larger Blue Bell. It’s among the top purveyors of frozen treats in the United States. Of the other big companies, Unilever, which makes Breyers and Ben & Jerry’s, declined to say whether it follows the 2008 guidance. Nestlé S.A., which produces Häagen-Dazs and Dreyers, also wouldn’t say. Wells Enterprises Inc., maker of Blue Bunny, didn’t return messages.

The 2008 document, called “Guidance for Industry: Control of Listeria monocytogenes in Refrigerated or Frozen Ready-To-Eat Foods,” laid out a plan to attack one of the most ubiquitous and pernicious microbes in the environment. It lives in soil and animal feed. Refrigeration provides little deterrent to growth. It survives freezing. Once it enters a plant, it’s so hard to remove that, in extreme cases, entire facilities have been demolished to eliminate it.

When companies use the guidelines, they find that they work.

listeria4After the Nebraska Department of Agriculture found listeria in a random sample of Jeni’s, the CEO instituted a monitoring program as stringent as what the FDA prescribed in 2008. After destroying product worth $2 million and spending hundreds of thousands on thorough cleanings and plant upgrades, the company again found listeria in its product June 12 – illustrating the pathogen’s resiliency. But this time, Jeni’s caught it before it left the plant.

Blue Bell now is trying to follow suit, committed to becoming “first-in-class with respect to all aspects of the manufacture of safe, delicious ice cream products,” spokesman Joe Robertson said in an email. It now has a team of microbiologists and, like Jeni’s, will test and hold its ice cream until proven safe, once production resumes. He said the company “always tried to do the right thing to produce high-quality, safe products,” but pending lawsuits in the listeria outbreak prevented him from discussing whether Blue Bell previously followed any aspects of the 2008 guidance.

The FDA recommended that even the smallest companies regularly test food contact surfaces and the food itself for listeria. That may seem like an obvious strategy, but industry and consumer advocates have long fought over it.

FDA records show that Blue Bell had written plans to test its plant environments for pathogens. But they didn’t include sampling the surfaces that come into contact with food or the food itself, or finding the root cause of the contamination. From 2013 to early 2015, Blue Bell found listeria on drains, floors, pallets, hoses, catwalks and surfaces near the equipment that fills containers. But it never looked for listeria in the ice cream.

Mandatory microbial testing on plant surfaces and in food has long been viewed by industry groups as a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t work and costs too much, especially for small producers. Some have deemed it unnecessary when there are controls – like pasteurization – that kill pathogens. But consumer advocates say those arguments veil a deeper objection: Companies know that if they test for bugs, they will find them, and if they find them, the law says they must act.

If Blue Bell had followed the 2008 guidance, the first listeria positive would have set off an intense hunt for the source and likely triggered recalls or stopped shipment of potentially tainted products.

The list of foods at “high risk” for pathogens continues to grow, a fact that exasperates Samadpour. Peanuts and peanut butter, for example, weren’t on the radar until a series of outbreaks that caused hundreds of illnesses beginning in 2007.

“The way the food industry operates, they have an assumption that any food is safe until proven otherwise,” he said, noting that outbreaks of foodborne illness get detected by chance – Blue Bell’s was discovered only because South Carolina officials randomly tested ice cream early this year. “At what point are we going to say … no food is safe?”

The ultimate stopgap – testing food before it gets shipped – isn’t foolproof. The only way to detect everything is to test everything, which is impossible because the tests destroy the product. But Samadpour points to advances in the ground beef industry, which caused E.coli O157 infections to drop by half since 1997. After regulators declared the bacteria an unlawful “adulterant,” the industry ramped up testing.

Other food manufacturers balk at the cost, but there is a price either way. The FDA estimated the Food Safety Modernization Act will cost the food industry $471 million a year, while foodborne illness costs the nation $2 billion.

“One thing about food safety is it doesn’t regard the size of your company,” said Samadpour, who was hired by Snoqualmie. “You can be a tiny company and kill 50 people.”

Food safety’s part of it: A Framework for Assessing Effects of the Food System

The U.S. National Academic Press has published a new report by Malden C. Nesheim, Maria Oria, and Peggy Tsai Yih, Editors; Committee on a Framework for Assessing the Health, Environmental, and Social Effects of the Food System; Food and Nutrition Board; Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources; Institute of Medicine; National Research Council.

framework.for.assessing.effects.food.systemHow we produce and consume food has a bigger impact on Americans’ well-being than any other human activity. The food industry is the largest sector of our economy; food touches everything from our health to the environment, climate change, economic inequality, and the federal budget. From the earliest developments of agriculture, a major goal has been to attain sufficient foods that provide the energy and the nutrients needed for a healthy, active life. Over time, food production, processing, marketing, and consumption have evolved and become highly complex. The challenges of improving the food system in the 21st century will require systemic approaches that take full account of social, economic, ecological, and evolutionary factors. Policy or business interventions involving a segment of the food system often have consequences beyond the original issue the intervention was meant to address.

A Framework for Assessing Effects of the Food System develops an analytical framework for assessing effects associated with the ways in which food is grown, processed, distributed, marketed, retailed, and consumed in the United States. The framework will allow users to recognize effects across the full food system, consider all domains and dimensions of effects, account for systems dynamics and complexities, and choose appropriate methods for analysis. This report provides example applications of the framework based on complex questions that are currently under debate: consumption of a healthy and safe diet, food security, animal welfare, and preserving the environment and its resources.

A Framework for Assessing Effects of the Food System describes the U.S. food system and provides a brief history of its evolution into the current system. This report identifies some of the real and potential implications of the current system in terms of its health, environmental, and socioeconomic effects along with a sense for the complexities of the system, potential metrics, and some of the data needs that are required to assess the effects. The overview of the food system and the framework described in this report will be an essential resource for decision makers, researchers, and others to examine the possible impacts of alternative policies or agricultural or food processing practices.

UK butcher fined for black market ‘smokie’ sheep meat

I don’t know what ‘smokie’ sheep meat is but willing to find out.

smokies.sheep.meatApparently, a Ridley Road butcher in the UK has been fined for illegally selling a West African delicacy which is outlawed by the European Union for being unsafe.

Sultan Mohammed was found with 18 portioned bags of scorched skin-on sheep meat bags, known as “smokies”, in a chiller in Islam Halal Meat Ltd, when environmental health officers inspected the shop on August 6, 2013.

The meat was seized and destroyed.

“Smokie” meat is made by scorching unskinned sheep or goat carcasses with a blowtorch after slaughter and hanging.

They are often produced in very unhygienic conditions, intentionally bypassing official controls, breaching specific waste disposal regulations and disregarding animal welfare rules.

Because of this the meat poses significant risk to human and animal health and is not considered fit for human consumption because of a risk of diseases like scrapie, bovine spongiform encephalitis, E. coli or salmonella.

EU Community Hygiene Regulations do not permit the production of “smokies.”