If you’re not too busy farming read this: Draft Guidance for industry: Standards for the growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of product for human consumption,

The purpose of this draft compliance and implementation guidance document is to help covered farms comply with the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule, which establishes science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce.  Entitled “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption,” the rule is part of FDA’s implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). 

The draft guidance provides a broad range of recommendations on how to meet the requirements for most subparts of the rule. It also outlines how to determine whether produce or farms may be eligible for exemptions from certain requirements, or from the rule in its entirety.  

Specific regulatory or statutory requirements are cited, and in some cases, specified using the word must. The use of the word should indicates that something is recommended, but not required. The use of the word including means options that are not limited to the described items.

You are encouraged to submit comments on the draft guidance within 180 days of the publish date to ensure your comments are considered while FDA works on the final version of the guidance.

In addition to the draft guidance, there is an At-a-Glance overview of key points in each of the nine chapters described below, as well as a glossary of key terms. The overviews summarize important aspects of each chapter.  It is recommended that you review the draft guidance itself for complete information.

German man sentenced to over 12 years in jail for baby food poisoning

A man who contaminated baby food in Germany has been sent to jail for 12-and-a-half years.

Gavin Grey of Eyewitness News reports the 54-year-old had attempted to blackmail retailers by claiming he would point out the poisoned items in return for cash.

He targeted shops in a southern German city.

In court, he admitted placing poisoned jars of adult and baby food in supermarkets and trying to blackmail the owners.

The contaminated jars contained ethylene glycol which is an odourless and toxic liquid used in antifreeze.

Prosecutors said some of the foods contained enough of the poison to kill a child and he was found guilty of five counts of attempted murder.

He was also found guilty of extortion, sending threatening emails to the stores demanding R200 million.

The court heard it was a matter of luck no child had been hurt.

Operation Tarantelo: How the illegal bluefin tuna market made over eur 12 million a year selling fish in Spain

Europol coordinated the international Operation Tarantelo, conducted by the Spanish Guardia Civil with support of French, Italian, Maltese and Portuguese authorities, in which 79 individuals were arrested.

More than 80 000 kg of illicit Bluefin tuna were seized and it is estimated the network trafficked a volume of over 2.5 million kg a year

Several poisoning cases were detected due to the unsanitary conditions in which the fish were stored

Operation Tarantelo was launched when the Spanish Guardia Civil became aware of irregularities relating to Bluefin tuna fishing in the Mediterranean Sea. Investigations revealed that the fish was being traded illegally in Spain, but imported into the country through French harbours, after being caught in Italian and Maltese waters. While the fish caught in Maltese waters were illegally imported using documents from legal fishing and authorised farms, the fish caught in Italian waters arrived in Spain without documents or inspections. Although most of the fish was caught in Malta and Italy, in Spanish waters there were also unauthorised catches, in this case, the illegally fished Bluefin tuna was transported in false bottoms under the deck of a vessel.

This illegal Bluefin tuna market was up to 2.5 million kg a year and it is estimated criminals earn at least EUR 5 profit per kg; total illegal profits amount to EUR 12.5 million. The volume of this illegal trade is double the annual volume of the legal trade, which is estimated to be 1.25 million kg.

The tuna business is often linked to other crimes such as food fraud or document fraud. The main risks for consumer health were due to the unsanitary conditions in which the fish was transported and stored. Sometimes the fish was hidden underwater after it was fished, awaiting transportation. The supply chain was interrupted several times, which made the tuna go off and the risk of food poising higher for eventual customers. Several cases of food poisoning were detected after eating the tuna, due to the degradation of proteins from the unhygienic conditions in which the tuna was stored.

Frank Yiannas headed to FDA

Bob Brackett, who was the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s point man during the E. coli spinach outbreak of 2006 ( and did a great job), told me once it was always part of the plan to work in academia, government and industry, and he’s done it.

Much praise from this critic.

 

Frank Yiannas, the vice president of food safety for Walmart and an outspoken proponent of blockchain, is leaving retail to take a post at the Food and Drug Administration.We visited Frank when he was at Disney, Frank visited us when we were in Kansas, we went shopping together at Walmart, as food safety nerds do.

 

I have a lot of respect for Frank, and hope the bureaucratic screws don’t wear him down.

He always said, where can I get the most bang for my food safety buck (OK, those are my words) but I’m fairly sure Frank would go along with that encapsulation.

And the Susies in our lives.

Raw is risky: Outbreak of multidrug-resistant Salmonella infections linked to raw chicken products

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and public health and regulatory officials in several states are investigating a multistate outbreak of multidrug-resistant Salmonella infections linked to raw chicken products. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) is monitoring the outbreak.

Always handle raw chicken carefully and cook it thoroughly to prevent food poisoning. This outbreak is a reminder that raw chicken can have germs that spread around food preparation areas and make you sick.

CDC is not advising that consumers avoid eating properly cooked chicken, or that retailers stop selling raw chicken products.

CDC advises consumers to follow these steps to help prevent Salmonella infection from raw chicken:

Wash your hands. Salmonella infections can spread from one person to another if hands have Salmonella germs on them. Wash hands before and after preparing or eating food, after contact with animals, and after using the restroom or changing diapers.

Cook raw chicken thoroughly to kill harmful germs. Chicken breasts, whole chickens, and ground poultry, including chicken burgers and chicken sausage, should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill harmful germs. Leftovers should be reheated to 165°F. Use a food thermometer to check, and place it in the thickest part of the food.

Don’t spread germs from raw chicken around food preparation areas. Washing raw poultry before cooking is not recommended. Germs in raw chicken can spread to other foods and kitchen surfaces. Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils with warm, soapy water after they touch raw chicken. Use a separate cutting board for raw chicken and other raw meats if possible.

CDC does not recommend feeding raw diets to pets. Germs like Salmonella in raw pet food can make your pets sick. Your family also can get sick by handling the raw food or by taking care of your pet.

CDC will update the advice to consumers and retailers if more information comes available, such as a supplier or type of raw chicken product linked to illness.

Symptoms of Salmonella Infection

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria.

The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.

In some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other places in the body.

In rare cases, Salmonella infection can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

Children younger than 5 years of age, adults older than 65 years of age, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe illness.
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Keith Warriner awarded for efforts

Friend of the barfblog and fresh food safety advocate Keith Warriner of the University of Guelph has been recognized by the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) with an award.

U of G and Moyers Apple Products were awarded the 2018 Mind to Market Award for Outstanding Research Collaboration and Commercialization on Oct. 17. Awards are given to partnerships that exemplify “the success that is possible when the brightest minds in industry and research collaborate to address today’s most critical issues.”

Food science professor Keith Warriner led the research at U of G and found a way to combine UV light and ozone to kill pathogens on apples. Last year, Warriner’s work in this area received one of 11 Premier’s Awards for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.

The research partnership began following a listeria outbreak in the caramel apple industry. Moyers Apple Products sought a solution to a worldwide problem to ensure safe apple products.

Warriner said the partnership was not only a great platform for commercialization of research but also great training for students on the project.

And to think, I worked at the University of Waterloo from 1990-93 at an Ontario Centre of Excellence.

Food is the new Mob: There’s paperwork and there’s chicken shit; Brazil agriculture ministry investigates food processor



Brazil’s agriculture ministry has opened its own corruption probe into police allegations that BRF SA, the world’s largest chicken exporter, evaded food safety standards, a ministry official said on Wednesday.

Ana Mano of Reuters reports the investigation, announced in the official gazette on Oct. 17, does not name any companies. It follows the release two days earlier of a report by federal police claiming senior managers at BRF allegedly adulterated documents and laboratory results to dodge food safety and quality checks.

The ministry official, who asked not to be identified, said the investigation concerns companies cited in a March 2018 federal police operation, codenamed Trapaça.

The operation alleged that BRF and laboratory Mérieux NutriSciences Brasil colluded to bypass official controls.

The Agriculture Ministry’s press office had no immediate comment. BRF said it has not been notified of the ministry’s investigation and could not comment. Mérieux denied the fraud and corruption allegations.

Federal police alleged that BRF tried to control dissemination of news that China found traces of the highly toxic dioxin in chicken imports from Brazil in 2015, and acted to prevent the government from investigating the case thoroughly.

The police also accused BRF of using the forbidden antibiotic Nitrofurazone and misreporting the levels of other antibiotics in its industrial processes. BRF has said it is cooperating with the investigation and suspended all employees named in the police report.

Authorities found evidence that BRF ordered the slaughter in 2016 of about 26,000 birds infected with Salmonella Typhimurium, a pathogen harmful to humans, as well as faked information provided to authorities to hide that decision.

The police said chicken from this batch was sold in at least 10 Brazilian states and exported to Europe.

When facts don’t matter: Arizona cancels vaccine program after backlash from parents who don’t vaccinate

When will post-truth thinking extend to buildings and bridges, which will remain intact because of faith rather than physics?

Australia gets a few totalitarian things right, such as mandatory voting and mandatory vaccination if parents want their kids to attend school.

Stephanie Innes of Arizona Central writes the state of Arizona has canceled a vaccine education program after receiving complaints from parents who don’t immunize their school-age children.

The pilot online course, modeled after programs in Oregon and Michigan, was created in response to the rising number of Arizona schoolchildren skipping school-required immunizations against diseases like measles, mumps and whooping cough because of their parents’ beliefs.

But some parents, who were worried the optional course was going to become mandatory, complained to the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council, which reviews regulations to ensure they are necessary and do not adversely affect the public. The six-member council is appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey, with an ex-officio general counsel.

Members of the council questioned the state health department about the course after receiving the public feedback about it, emails show. The state responded by canceling it.

The complaints that ended the pilot program came from about 120 individuals and families, including 20 parents who said that they don’t vaccinate their children, records show.

“We’re so sorry we couldn’t make a go of this — strong forces against us,” Brenda Jones, immunization services manager at the Arizona Department of Health Services, wrote in an Aug. 6 email to a Glendale school official, along with a notification about the course’s cancellation.

In an email to two Health Department staff members on Aug. 14, Jones wrote that there had been “a lot of political and anti-vaxx” feedback.

“I’m not sure why providing ‘information’ is seen as a negative thing,” said state Rep. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, who spent the last three legislative sessions as chairwoman of the House Health Committee and helped create the pilot program.

“Providing information doesn’t take away a parent’s choice to seek an exemption. … This is a major concern. Vaccines have saved lives for generations. We all want to live in safe and healthy communities.”

Kindergartners in Maricopa County as a whole are now below herd immunity for measles, said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director for disease control for the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

Maricopa County reflects national trends that show people who choose not to vaccinate their children tend to be higher income and white, sh

The American Academy of Pediatrics views non-medical vaccine exemptions to school-required immunizations “as inappropriate for individual, public health, and ethical reasons and advocates for their elimination,” a September 2016 policy statement says.

A California law that took effect in 2016  —  a little more than a year after a measles outbreak erupted at Disneyland and spread to include seven Arizona cases — prohibits personal belief exemptions. Children in California may still get exemptions for medical reasons, as long as their exemption is signed by a licensed physician. Otherwise, they aren’t allowed to enroll in school. 

Naked butcher photos leads Australian residents to throw out beef and sausages

Bridget Judd of ABC News reports the photo, purportedly taken at a local meat supplier, shows a butcher handling sausages dressed in only boots and an apron, leaving his bare buttocks exposed.

Kalkarindji Traditional Owner and Gurindji Aboriginal Corporation spokesperson Rob Roy said the butcher and meat supply facility were “easily identified” by the community.

“That to me is one idiot who is treating black people of this community, Kalkarindji, very wrong and not with a lot of respect,” he said.

“To me, that’s making me think back to Vincent Lingiari, maybe that’s why he walked off the station, because he wasn’t treated fair.

“They’re just treating us like dogs.”

Mr Roy said he had asked local supermarkets to dispose of fresh beef and sausages from the meatworks.

He said it was a health and safety risk, and the community should not “eat dirty meat off their sweat”.

“I went to the main mob, our local community store, told them to empty out the shelf,” he said.

“I said the snags, the beef, I want it all chucked away and empty the fridge until further notice.

“I rang the school, spoke to the principal … and told him to dispose all of [the meat], because we’ve got a really serious situation happening here.”

The butcher, who has been contacted for comment, removed the photo from Facebook on Friday afternoon.

In a statement, the Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation (ALPA), which runs a number of remote stores across the Northern Territory, including the Kalkarindji meatworks, said the man’s employment had been terminated “effective immediately”.

Food Safety Talk 166: Surprising lack of cannibalism questions

Don and Ben traveled to SUNY Geneseo for a live version of the podcast sponsored by the Center for Integrative Learning, and hosted by the amazing Beth McCoy. The episode title comes from an unrecorded after dark which may or may not have taken place in a bar in Geneseo.

Episode 166 is available on iTunes and here.

Show notes so you can follow along at home.