Good governance for food safety management

If there’s one food, safety types will not eat, it’s raw sprouts. Alfalfa, mung bean, pea and clover, they tend to be the same microbiological shithole.

Costco and Walmart stopped selling them five years ago in the U.S.

It’s impossible to get a sandwich or salad in Australia without sprouts.

I’ve written chefs who should not be serving raw sprouts to immunocomprised people in hospitals.

They poo-pooed my concerns.

My South Australian colleague, Andrew Thomson, is the company director for Think ST Solutions, a food consultancy offering practical solutions to both management and staff in hospitals, aged-care facilities, restaurants, hotels and the food industry.

Thomson writes in his latest column for Hospital Health that it’s time for the health- and aged-care sectors to move beyond meeting minimum compliance requirements and strive for business excellence in food safety management systems.

Health- and aged-care organisations face challenges and high expectations from an array of stakeholders, regulatory and accreditation agencies, and consumers. The area of food safety is no exception. Despite this, many organisations are achieving minimum regulatory compliance and failing to recognise related risks until after a serious episode occurs.

It is essential that board directors of health- and aged-care organisations, or those about to take on these roles, understand their role and responsibilities. It is important to be aware of food laws and other regulatory requirements, and ensure that organisations abide by them.

As far back as 1997, Winsome McCaughey AO, the former chief executive of the Australia New Zealand Food Authority, outlined the broad policy framework for food regulatory reform in Australia. The reforms promoted a risk-based approach to food safety management, which is consistent with international guidelines on risk analysis. Central to this approach was the introduction of national food safety standards.

The national food regulator, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, has developed standards that require food safety programs to be implemented in high-risk sectors, such as those providing food services to vulnerable persons. Food businesses providing potentially hazardous food to vulnerable persons — including hospital patients, aged-care residents and children in childcare centres — are captured by these requirements, in addition to businesses that prepare and deliver meals to vulnerable people in the home.

Health- and aged-care organisations need to ensure that risks to food safety management within their business are properly identified, reported and controlled.

The key action points for boards of directors to embrace are:

Understand and accept their role and responsibility in food safety leadership.

Understand and accept, at an individual board member level, the accountability for the role.

Understand the organisation’s obligations under various (food) legislation.

Create clearly defined policies on accountabilities, risk and reporting.

Consider the food safety implications of board decisions.

Oversee management actions in food safety matters.
The board should also agree on how to incorporate food safety management into existing governance structures; how to set objectives and monitor performance of the business and food-related risks; and the appointment of a board member as its food safety ‘champion’ — a nominated food safety director who will take the lead on ensuring that the board’s food safety management responsibilities are properly discharged.

The governance of an organisation involves the establishment of a framework of values, processes and practices designed to regulate, monitor and provide effective reporting on organisational performance. Through this framework, boards and directors exercise their governing authority and make decisions to achieve the organisation’s purpose and goals. Directors ensure the organisation operates effectively and ethically, and complies with all laws and regulations.

Food safety governance is as important as any other aspect of governance. It is also a fundamental part of an organisation’s risk management strategy, which is a key responsibility of a board of directors. Both the board and its management team have a duty to exercise due diligence to ensure that the organisation complies with its food safety duties and obligations. Failure to effectively manage food safety risk has both human and business costs — this includes damaged reputations and potential prosecution.

It is important to distinguish between governance and management practices. Directors should focus on governance-related issues — determining the organisation’s purpose, developing an effective governance culture, holding management to account and ensuring effective performance and compliance. Directors work with management to develop strategy and business plans which are then implemented by management.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for establishing effective governance for food safety management, as the structures and levels of engagement vary with the size and complexity of the organisations involved. There are a number of basic questions that a board of directors can ask itself to assist in creating the right business culture:

How does the board assure itself that the food safety management system has been fully implemented across the organisation?

How does the board assure itself that the organisation is demonstrating its commitment to food safety?

How does the board verify that the organisation’s food safety strategic and operational risks have been adequately identified and assessed, with appropriate mitigation strategies implemented?

What relevant information is the board receiving on food safety management? Is this reporting sufficient?

What processes are in place to inform board members of the results (and actions taken) from internal and external audits and comprehensive senior management reviews to ensure the food safety management system is fit for purpose?

How does the board satisfy itself that the organisation has food-handling employees and managers that are competent and adequately trained in their food safety responsibilities and accountabilities?

Does the organisation have sufficient resources (people, equipment, systems and budget) for managing its food safety management systems?

What approach does the board use to compare the performance of the food safety management system with comparable organisations? How does it monitor and rate its organisation’s performance?
In regards to competency and adequate food safety training, shrinking training budgets and providing employees with traditional training approaches to basic compliance training is one area for urgent change if an organisation is to flourish.

The decades-long and less desirable training practice used by many organisations relies on herding as many employees as possible to undertake (any form of) training and then show the regulator and/or accreditation assessors the training records. This approach fails on several fronts: it does not provide employees with the skills they urgently need for doing their job now and in the future; lacks the required processes when employees learn new skills and behaviours; and does not address developing the best employees for future roles. Questions relating to employee learning strategies, skills development, performance and systems improvement, and measuring training success are largely overlooked by senior leaders and the regulator.

RMIT Online and Deloitte Access Economics recently released Ready, set, upskill: Effective training for the jobs of tomorrow. This report provides fresh insights into post-COVID skill needs; how prepared Australians feel for a changing workplace; and where employers should invest in training to prepare for what’s ahead.

Modern approaches to learning in the workplace necessitate a model of continuous learning and supporting employee learning — it moves beyond designing and delivering one-off training programs.

A comprehensive table of sprout-related outbreaks can be found here.

Public health inspectors in Saudi Arabia

Background: Every year about 600 million –—almost 1 in 10 people in the world –—fall ill after eating unsafe food, and more than 400,000 people die. Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) perform important roles and have numerous responsibilities in efficiently protecting public health from foodborne illnesses (FBIs). Some of these roles and responsibilities include undertaking food safety assessments, enforcing local food safety legislation, and providing support to food establishments (i.e., restaurants) regarding the minimization of food safety risks. The processes of qualifying and training PHIs, and ensuring timely addressing of their professional needs are essential for the successful and safe development of the food industry in any country. At the same time, there is a significant knowledge gap in the food safety area in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including Saudi Arabia, which is related to the lack of a detailed understanding of the major issues preventing, or interfering with, the implementation and improvement of a food safety inspection approach.

Purpose: There are two key approaches towards food safety inspection at the food establishments across the globe —the traditional approach and the risk-based (modern) approach. The traditional approach typically focuses on reactive measures towards problems once they have been identified. In contrast, the risk-based approach recommended for adoption by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has a more proactive character, whereby it attempts to identify and address food safety issues before they actually become a public threat. The transition of Saudi Arabia to the risk-based food safety approach raises important questions about the professional needs of the Saudi PHI workforce for and during such a transition. Therefore, guided by the Knowledge-to-Action (KTA) framework, the aim Page | v of this Thesis was to identify the knowledge and skills needs of the PHIs in Riyadh to conduct risk-based food inspections, including any barriers and factors that may influence the effectiveness of the inspection process.

Methods” This research was conducted in two phases using both qualitative (phase 1) and quantitative (phase 2) methods and utilising a sequential exploratory design. In the first phase, seven semi-structured interviews were conducted with four PHIs, two senior Environmental Health Mangers (EHMs) and the Coordinator of the Food Safety Diploma. The reason for the inclusion of the EHMs and the Coordinator in phase 1 was to obtain different perspectives. Then, the information gathered from these interviews and the knowledge and skills framework of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), were used to inform the development of the survey in the second phase. A survey was deemed to be a best fit in the current study to capture a large cohort of PHIs’ perceptions. A total of 502 PHIs were invited to participate in phase 2 and 301 completed and submitted it, resulting in a 60% response rate. Findings Results revealed that the levels of formal qualification of PHIs in Riyadh are significantly lower than in other developed and developing countries. Female PHIs typically have lower levels of knowledge and skills compared to their male counterparts. In addition, according to the conducted qualitative (Phase 1) and quantitative (Phase 2) investigations, the majority of participants demonstrated only limited levels of understanding and knowledge about Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles, food sampling techniques, food microbiology and the English language as a communication tool with restaurant staff.

Resuls: Leading towards the anticipated transition to risk-based food inspections in Saudi Arabia, special attention was focused on the professional needs of PHIs and issues that influence their performance, including on-going professional training. In particular, deficiencies in regular training and in the overall training arrangements to PHIs were also demonstrated by the current study. Additionally, lack of job satisfaction was another major finding of the study, with the highest levels of dissatisfaction being expressed with regard to motivation at the workplace, and the lack of support and security provided by the management. It was also found that a large proportion of PHIs in Riyadh regarded the existing food safety laws and regulations are generally inadequate and not sufficiently clear. These were the issues constituting the greatest perceived obstacles for the effective performance of PHIs and an effective transition toward the risk-based inspection approach in Riyadh. In addition, the obtained outcomes could also be generalised to other regions of Saudi Arabia and possibly, other GCC countries.


Investigating Riydah’s public health inspectors’ ability to conduct risk-based food inspection, and their professional needs, 2021

Queensland University of Technology

Sultan Abdullah Alsaleh

Huh? COVID-19 science and the uncertainty dance

My friend Tim Caufield, professor of law at the University of Alberta, the Research Director of its Health Law Institute, and current Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, writes in an op-ed for the Globe and Mail that COVID public health policies have been with us for a year. So has uncertainty. We’ve all lived through twelve months of “huh”? And this has added to the public’s frustration, fatigue, and stress.

In the early weeks and months of the pandemic, there was uncertainty about masks and asymptomatic spread. There was uncertainty about if and when we’d get a vaccine. There was uncertainty about what type of public health policies worked best and were most needed. We have all had to tolerate a lot of ambiguity. And as the vaccines roll out, we are being asked to tolerate even more. (When will I get a vaccine? Which one will I get? And what about the variants?)

For public health communications to be effective, the public must have confidence in the message. And, unfortunately, for some, that confidence isn’t there. A recent study from the University of Calgary explored pandemic communication and found, not surprisingly, that “participants felt that public health messaging to date has been conflicting and at times unclear.”

This perception is understandable. An atmosphere of seemingly relentless uncertainty and confusion has been created by a combination of scientific realities, media practices, some less-than-ideal communication from policy makers, and the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories.

The science surrounding COVID was – and, for some topics, continues to be – highly uncertain. While a growing body of evidence has emerged around the most contested issues (such as the value of masks and physical distancing strategies), early in the pandemic there wasn’t much that was unequivocal. The science evolved and, as you would hope with any evidence-informed approach, the resulting science advice and recommendations evolved too. But for some, shifting policies, even if appropriate, just added to a sense, rightly or not, of chaos.

In addition, the media has been reporting on the research as it unfolds, including referencing studies that have not yet been peer reviewed. Often the preliminary or uncertain nature of the relevant research is not reported in the media, thus creating a false impression about the actual state of the science – as exemplified by the “hydroxychloroquine works!” debacle (PS, it doesn’t). Perhaps worse, relatively fringe perspectives – such as those pushing the value of “natural herd immunity” – have been given a relatively high profile in both the conventional press and on social media. This can create a false balance (fringe idea vs. broad scientific consensus) that we know can be detrimental to both public discourse and health behaviours.

Despite the frustration that uncertainty can create, the public has a demonstrated preference for honesty about the limits of our knowledge. A recent study from Germany found that “a majority of respondents indicated a preference for open communication of scientific uncertainty in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.” This finding agrees with other research that has found that when uncertainty is relevant to their lives, the public wants to know about it.

People may want to hear about uncertainty, but will communicating it do more harm than good? Will it just add to an already confused information environment? The data on this point are actually fairly mixed, but recent research exploring the impact of communicating scientific uncertainty found that it either increased perceptions of trust in science or had almost no impact. This is good news. As the authors of one of the studies notes, “this should allow academics and science communicators to be more transparent about the limits of human knowledge.” Other studies have found that being honest about uncertainties in media reports about research can actually boost the perceived credibility of journalists.

And over the long term, honesty about the uncertainties of the evidence used to inform policy seems essential to the maintenance of public trust. For example, being overly dogmatic about a policy or predictive model could hurt the credibility of decision makers if new evidence requires a revision of a past positions.

When possible, public health authorities (or anyone seeking to communicate science) should start with well-defined and well-supported takeaway messages (e.g., please get vaccinated with whatever vaccine is available to and recommended for you!).But then be honest about what is not known (e.g., while vaccines are our best defense, we aren’t sure how long immunity will last).

Depending on the medium used (a social media post, for example, may not be the best venue for a long discourse on methodological challenges), it may also be wise to explain the limits of the research approach (e.g., observational studies can’t prove causation). If there are areas of scientific disagreement, be honest about that too – but be specific about what is being disputed. Often there is broad agreement about the big stuff (e.g., vaccines work!), but academic debate about some details. Often those trying to sow doubt – like those in the anti-vaccine community – will try to weaponize and over-emphasize small academic disagreements. Don’t give them that room.

When communicating about uncertainty it is also important to highlight what is being done to reduce it, such as forthcoming research or new data analysis. This provides a road map forward and invites the public to follow the science as it unfolds. It is also a way to stress that uncertainty is a natural part of the scientific process.

For the public, try not to let the uncertainty kerfuffle distract you from the big picture. Remember that there are many clear knowns. Vaccines, physical distancing, hand washing, masks, and being responsible when symptoms emerge will get us through this pandemic.

Finally, it is also important to take a break from all the uncertainty noise. Studies have shown that the constant consumption of conflicting COVID news can (no surprise here) add to our stress. Put down the phone, back away from the screen, and take ten from “huh?”

Digital media and communication scenarios

It’s not food safety, it has more current relevance to Covid-19, but this paper has some important insights for communicating during an outbreak. The Australian lesson from cornavirus seems to be, go fast, hard.

Expert-lay mass media communication (a phrase I always despised) in public health prevention campaigns has been at the forefront in knowledge dissemination before digital communication gained in momentum.

The advent of digital media has radically changed communicative scenarios and strategies used to actively involve population, for example promoting large-scale change in awareness, behaviour, and attitude. However, research still has not fully documented how digital environments orchestrate different multimodal resources, including, among others, language, still and moving images. Other research gaps deal with understanding how users can be actively engaged in websites and how the identity of participants is projected with reference to their distance from the voice of the expert.

The paper combines linguistic and visual analysis in a multimodal perspective to investigate the interplay of identity and distance in the website and integrated social media of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,, an operating component of the Department of Health and Human Services (US).

Linguistic and visual analysis of the Vital Signs monthly reports on campaigns for HIV prevention will focus on the revision of the notion of deixis to see how this has been reconfigured in multimodal environments. Findings show that person, time, and place deixis have been reshaped in digital scenarios with the aim of engaging participants and disseminate knowledge to prompt change in behaviour.

The image, left, shows person deixis, place deixis and time deixis in English.

“The time is now”: A multimodal pragmatic analysis of how identity and distance are indexed in HIV risk communication digital campaigns in US

May 2021

Journal of Pragmatics, vol.177 pg. 82-96

Maria Sindoni

I need work: barfblog route

In 2000, my lab was awarded slightly more than $1 million Canadian as part of a vitamin litigation settlement. I added some staff, merged with the existing food safety hotline and offered it nationally, and hired a few decent grad students.

I knew the local students, but I wanted something different, people who could shake things up with their research.

I’d been running the Food Safety Network since 1993 with subscribers joining daily. At some point it occurred to me, I have thousands of people already subscribed to FSnet, take advantage of that.

So I did.

I haven’t gotten a pay check in over four years, so why not use the same list, which is now, to reach out to all those microbial food safety types and see if anyone’s got anything for me to write or research.

So I’m asking.

It’s fairly ironic my full professor contract at Kansas State University was not renewed in 2013 – I got fired for bad attendance – yet millions of students in the U.S. were told to stay at home on their computers for much of the past year while teachers and profs scrambled to put together distance ed programs.

I’ve done distance teaching and talks since 2000 – anyone remember IAFP’s Ivan Parkin lecture that year?

And it’s charming that the rest of the world has discovered the way I’ve been working for the past 30 years – by distance.

My American/Australian/Canadian (added that last passport in because I could) daughter is now 12 and increasingly independent.

I need to get back out there in some capacity.

You know how to reach me.



(This was the official song for the barfblog videos we did; the live versions have crappy video, so you get this. Tom Thompson was a famous Canadian painter, and an unofficial member of the Group of Seven. He’s in the pic, above right.)

Dozens of U.S. national guard troops get poisoned with cold, undercooked chicken and sharp metal shavings hidden in rice

On March 1, ABC7 Detroit reported on what has, according to Red Pilled, been a well-hidden secret in Washington: that National Guard troops stationed in DC have been forced to eat chicken so undercooked and raw it is pink on the inside, with a side of sharp metal shavings hidden inside the rice. Color is a lousy indicator of safety, metal shavings are a good indicator of failure.

The meals have been so poorly cooked that dozens of Michigan’s National Guard troops had to be rushed to the hospital after falling severely ill from eating the clearly undercooked food. At least 74 meals had to be thrown out this Sunday alone after troops were dropping like flies at dinnertime.

To eat for breakfast, all they get to eat is a single ‘Fruit & Nut’ bar, an apple, and a bun.

According to a news report that aired last night on ABC7 Detroit, the source who provided the story to the network said: “Yesterday for instance, there were 74 different meals found with raw beef in them. Just yesterday, the lunches were, soldiers had found metal shavings in their food.”

Speaking on the unreasonably tiny and downright disrespectful breakfast provided to the troops, paid for by Michigan taxpayers, the source commented: “You were getting maybe a danish and some sort of juice. And then we had certain days where it was clearly a dinner roll and Sunny D.”

Melissa Burke of The Detriot News wrote on Mar. 4, the caterer contracted to feed thousands of National Guard troops providing security at the U.S. Capitol defended its food service Thursday, claiming that none of the cases of reported gastrointestinal illness among soldiers have been linked to the company.

“No cases of foodborne illness can be directly tied to this vendor,” said Maria Stagliano, a spokeswoman for Sardi’s Catering in College Park, Maryland. 

The response follows a Wednesday announcement by the National Guard that at least 50 service members have been sickened with gastrointestinal issues after complaints that they were served bad food while on duty guarding the Capitol.

A guard spokesman said none of those sickened have been hospitalized due to illness from the food since the Capitol security mission began Jan. 6; however, some have been treated at hospitals. 

The Michigan National Guard has nearly 1,000 troops serving in Washington as part of the security mission, the largest state contingent, lawmakers say. Michigan soldiers and airmen have complained since mid-February about bad food they were served, ranging from undercooked meat to poor food quality to a lack of vegetarian options. 

“We are proud to serve our food to the National Guard troops who have deployed to Washington from around the U.S., and we stand by the quality and safety of the food we deliver to the National Guard troops,” Sardi’s said in a statement released Thursday.

“As a trusted provider of nutritious and safe meals for the National Guard, Sardi’s Catering adheres to our own rigorous standards for food safety and quality, and we are in full compliance with all standards and requirements in our National Guard Bureau contract as well as state and District requirements.”

Sardi’s in its statement suggested that the Michigan guard had sent up a lopsided number of complaints about the food, compared with other states’ guardsmen. 

“It is not clear why or how one particular state unit has recorded so many complaints, while there have been comparatively few complaints from other state units, according to the National Guard,” Sardi’s statement said.

“We are committed to providing exceptional service to all our meal recipients, and we will continue to work closely with the National Guard to address these concerns.”

But Michigan troops aren’t the only ones complaining, with soldiers from New Jersey and Illinois also reporting bad food, according to news reports.

Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey on Thursday asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi to investigate the reports of “tainted” food that sickened at least 30 guard members from his state.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is headed to Washington to visit the troops Friday. She raised concerns about the undercooked food starting in mid-February with the Acting Secretary of the Army John E. Whitley.

National Guard officials said this week they are working with the contractor to fix the issues but stressed the matter is limited to a small number of incidents and is not systemic. 

The guard also said it had not pinpointed the problem to a particular food source, so it could not say whether the issues are the fault of one caterer or an outside food source.

Michigan lawmakers in Washington and Lansing have called on the National Guard to fire the contractor, which was awarded an $11.4 million contract on Jan. 25 to provide meals to troops activated to help with security following the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

Pelosi, who has registered her concerns three times with the National Guard about the issue, also agrees with ending the contract, spokesman Drew Hammill said.

“Obviously, this vendor should be discontinued. This is unacceptable,” Hammill said. “There is no room for this sort of behavior from a vendor of any federally contracted agency.”

Hammill noted that the Capitol police have offered their assistance to the National Guard by using their vendors for providing hot meals to the troops, but the guard declined that offer. 

Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, called the situation “indefensible.” “There is no excuse for treating these brave people who are putting their lives aside and their lives at risk to protect us, treating them like this is completely inexcusable,” Kildee told Fox News. 

Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Holland, and 38 other lawmakers wrote to military leaders Thursday asking the guard to provide the service members with per diem for meals for the rest of their mission and retroactively. 

“Although these conditions have been widely reported and acknowledged by leadership at the National Guard, the situation does not appear to have been rectified and immediate action must be taken,” the lawmakers wrote.

Once the troops are home, Huizenga said he hopes the National Guard’s inspector general will investigate the matter.

Media analytics to measure effectiveness of food safety recall notices

Recall announcements by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Food Safety Inspection and Service (FSIS) are important communication tools. Nonetheless, previous studies found that effects of recalls on consumer demand are small.

Social media analytics can provide insights into public awareness about food safety related incidents. Using the social listening data this study analyzes how the public, in social and online media space, responds to, interacts with, and references food safety recalls and/or initial announcements of foodborne illness outbreaks as reported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Analysis suggests that mentions quantified in the social and online media searches conducted moved closer in-step with the CDC’s initial reports of foodborne illness outbreaks than FDA and FSIS recall announcements. Issuance of recalls may not necessarily be a popular source of food risk information in social media space when compared with reactions to the CDC’s initial illness reports. This relative popularity reflects people more often sharing/posting about illness risk regardless of whether a recall occurs. This suggests that recall announcements by FDA and FSIS may not induce wanted changes in consumers’ behavior, while initial illness reports by CDC may. Although recalls by FDA and FSIS may not generate social media posts, their primary role is to take potentially unsafe food items off grocery shelves.

Online media analytics provides policy makers with implications for effective food risk communication planning; initial CDC reports drive immediate attention more than FDA and FSIS recalls.

Initial reports of foodborne illness drive more public attention than food recall announcements

Journal of Food Protection

Jinho Jung ; Courtney Bir ; Nicole Olynk Widmar ; Peter Sayal

Uncooked, frozen chicken thingies can support Listeria growth while refrigerated

Battered poultry products may be wrongly regarded and treated by consumers as ready-to-eat and, as such, be implicated in foodborne disease outbreaks. This study aimed at the quantitative description of the growth behavior of Listeria monocytogenes in fresh, partially cooked (non-ready-to-eat) battered chicken nuggets as function of temperature.

Commercially prepared chicken breast nuggets were inoculated with L. monocytogenes and stored at different isothermal conditions (4, 8, 12, and 16 ◦C). The pathogen’s growth behavior was characterized via a two-step predictive modelling approach: estimation of growth kinetic parameters using a primary model, and description of the effect of temperature on the estimated maximum specific growth rate (µmax) using a secondary model. Model evaluation was undertaken using independent growth data under both constant and dynamic temperature conditions.

According to the findings of this study, L. monocytogenes may proliferate in battered chicken nuggets in the course of their shelf life to levels potentially hazardous for susceptible population groups, even under well-controlled refrigerated storage conditions. Model evaluation demonstrated a satisfactory performance, where the estimated bias factor (Bf ) was 0.92 and 1.08 under constant and dynamic temperature conditions, respectively, while the accuracy factor (Af ) value was 1.08, in both cases. The collected data should be useful in model development and quantitative microbiological risk assessment in battered poultry products.

Growth of listeria monocytogenes in partially cooked battered chicken nuggets as a function of storage temperature


Alexandra Lianou 1,2,* , Ourania Raftopoulou 1,3, Evgenia Spyrelli 1 and George-John E. Nychas

FDA, California agricultural stakeholders launch multi-year study to enhance food safety

This is a few months old, but if Frank’s in it, I’ll run it, late but not never.

The following quote is attributed to Frank Yiannas, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response:

The FDA is committed to providing innovative food safety approaches that build on past learnings and leverage the use of new information and data. Today we’re announcing a partnership with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), the University of California, Davis, Western Center for Food Safety (WCFS), and agricultural stakeholders in the Central Coast of California to launch a multi-year longitudinal study to improve food safety through enhanced understanding of the ecology of human pathogens in the environment that may cause foodborne illness outbreaks.”

“The launch of this longitudinal study follows a series of E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks in recent years linked to California’s leafy greens production regions, particularly three outbreaks that occurred in Fall 2019. Due to the recurring nature of outbreaks associated with leafy greens, the FDA developed a commodity-specific action plan to advance work in three areas: prevention, response, and addressing knowledge gaps. We’ve already made great strides executing our 2020 Leafy Greens Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) Action Plan by engaging with state partners to implement new strategies for preventing outbreaks before they occur, collaborating with industry partners to assess and augment response efforts when an outbreak occurs, and analyzing past leafy greens outbreaks to identify areas of improvement important to enhance leafy greens safety.”

“In alignment with the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative, the findings from this longitudinal study will contribute new knowledge on how various environmental factors may influence bacterial persistence and distribution in the region, and how those factors may impact the contamination of leafy greens.”

The California longitudinal multi-year study will examine how pathogens survive, move through the environment and possibly contaminate produce, through work with water quality, food safety, and agricultural experts from CDFA, the WCFS, representatives from various agriculture industries, and members of the leafy greens industry.

Staphylococcus and meat production chain

Staphylococcus saprophyticus is a primary cause of community-acquired urinary tract infections (UTIs) in young women. S. saprophyticus colonizes humans and animals but basic features of its molecular epidemiology are undetermined.

We conducted a phylogenomic analysis of 321 S. saprophyticus isolates collected from human UTIs worldwide during 1997–2017 and 232 isolates from human UTIs and the pig-processing chain in a confined region during 2016–2017. We found epidemiologic and genomic evidence that the meat-production chain is a major source of S. saprophyticus causing human UTIs; human microbiota is another possible origin. Pathogenic S. saprophyticus belonged to 2 lineages with distinctive genetic features that are globally and locally disseminated. Pangenome-wide approaches identified a strong association between pathogenicity and antimicrobial resistance, phages, platelet binding proteins, and an increased recombination rate.

Our study provides insight into the origin, transmission, and population structure of pathogenic S. saprophyticus and identifies putative new virulence factors.

Foodborne origin and local and global spread of staphylococcus saprophyticus causing human urinary tract infections

Emerging Infectious Diseases vol. 27 no. 3

Opeyemi U. Lawal, Maria J. Fraqueza, Ons Bouchami, Peder Worning, Mette D. Bartels, Maria L. Gonçalves, Paulo Paixão, Elsa Gonçalves, Cristina Toscano, Joanna Empel, Małgorzata Urbaś, M. Angeles Domínguez, Henrik Westh, Hermínia de Lencastre, and Maria Miragaia