Company officials in NZ Listeria outbreak to face trial in 2015

The factory manager and a company director implicated in a deadly outbreak of listeriosis are accused of trying to deceive the Ministry for Primary Industries over laboratory reports on suspect meat.

amy.pregnant.listeriaIn the Napier District Court yesterday, lawyers entered not guilty pleas for Napier company Bay Cuisine, its director Garth Wise, and factory manager Christopher Mackie.

Wise, 53, faces four charges, Mackie, 41, six, and the company 153 charges.

The three parties will face a judge-alone trial in the Hastings District Court after May.

One of the charges the men face carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $100,000.

The outbreak, which occurred in mid-2012, 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.

Listeria was found in pre-packaged ready-to-eat meats that had been supplied to Hawke’s Bay Hospital. Listeria was also found at the Bay Cuisine factory. The company was the sole supplier of pre-packaged meats to the hospital. 

Did bad berliners sicken over 100 in South Australia with Salmonella

Beginning in Jan. 2011, 107 people in South Australia were sickened with Salmonella linked to custard-filled berliners.

Yesterday, the State Government told the Supreme Court it spoke truth when it blamed iconic baker Vili Milisits as the source.

Mr Milisits has asserted public health director Dr Kevin Buckett defamed him in two press conferences and one radio interview by blaming the berliners for food poisoning that affected more than 100 people.

John Whitington, acting for Mr Milisits, was quoted by the Herald Sun as saying, “The Government says the Department of Health conducted investigations, in late January, as a result of increased incidence of reported Salmonella. It says a statistically-significant proportion of people were interviewed.

“It says that, based on that analysis, a person infected with the salmonella bacteria was 38 times more likely to have eaten a custard-filled berliner.”

He asked Judge Brian Withers to order the Government to release that material to Mr Milisits’ legal team, along with the names of the people interviewed.

Judge Withers has reserved his decision.


Mystical One Juice sucks at safety, FDA goes to court seeking closure

At the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Justice today filed a complaint for permanent injunction against a Jamaica, N.Y.-based beverage company to prevent it from processing and distributing juice and other products.

Hank J. Hagen and Milton S. Reid and their company, Mystical One LLC (also known as Mystical One Juice LLC), are charged with violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by failing to have a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan for certain juice products, such as the company’s carrot juice products, and by failing to comply with current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP).

The FDA requires all juice processors to prepare and implement HACCP plans that identify and control food hazards associated with their juices, and it requires all food manufacturers to follow cGMP. The FDA is not aware of illnesses associated with Mystical One’s juice products.

Among the violations observed by FDA investigators were failures to:?

• adequately heat low-acid vegetable juices to destroy or prevent growth of dangerous microorganisms;?
• properly clean food-contact surfaces; and?,
• maintain and monitor sanitation conditions at the manufacturing facility to prevent sources of possible food and water contamination.

Failure to identify and control food hazards could lead to the formation of Clostridium botulinum bacteria that can germinate in the carrot juice made by the company. The neurotoxin formed by these bacteria, when ingested in even very small amounts, could cause paralysis, difficulty breathing and death from asphyxiation. In 2006, six cases of botulism in the United States and Canada were linked to refrigerated carrot juice.

The complaint also charges Mystical One, Hagen and Reid with failing to conform to cGMP requirements for making, packing, or holding human food.

Beverage products produced under conditions that do not comply with HACCP or GMP requirements are considered adulterated under the Act.

Violations cited by the FDA involved the following brands:
• Fresh Carrot Juice,
• Magnum Food Drink,
• Pineapple Ginger Drink,
• Sorrel & Ginger,
• Sea Moss, and,
• Peanut Punch.

NY restaurants argue their grade at Night Court

The health department tribunal is, according to the New York Times, a little-publicized court system that metes out penalties for violations of the city sanitary code.

It has been there for years, in a nondescript government office in Lower Manhattan where more than a dozen administrative law judges escort their charges into cramped rooms and hear them wrangle over infractions, in a ritual reminiscent of visiting the principal’s office.

But in the weeks since the city adopted a new system requiring restaurants to post large, brightly colored letter grades rating their cleanliness and safety, the tribunal has become a high-stakes food court of last resort where hundreds of restaurant owners and their representatives trudge each day to defend what they say are their very livelihoods.

Whether from Dunkin’ Donuts or Le Bernardin, whose case was called last week, they stand in line behind two strips of grimy gray tape on the floor to check in at a reception desk. Then they wait, sometimes all day, to defend their kitchens, many in hopes of nudging a humiliating C up to a bearable B, or turning that middle-of-the-class B into a gold-star A.

At one recent hearing, the judge asked Jay Gavrilov, director of dining services at a residence for the elderly in Battery Park City, if he had anything to say. He responded with an impassioned speech: he was not seeking to reduce his fines or dismiss the violations that had earned him a B.

“My purpose here is to try to get an A to put up,” he said plaintively, “for the well-being and mental well-being of my 80-to-105-year-old residents.”

Food poisoners: deliberate or negligent, send them to jail

I’ve screwed up. I’ve done time. Maybe not enough, that’s another discussion.

With Peanut Corporation of America CEO Stewart Parnell back in the nut business after killing 9 and sickening 700, there’s a move afoot for stricter penalties for those who knowingly market unsafe food.

BBC News reports that Ramazan Aslan, the former owner of some hole-in0the-wall takeaway in Walse that was the likely source of an E. coli outbreak that sickened four, will face charges in court.

He will face a number of food hygiene offences.

The National Public Health Service for Wales said in 2009 that the Llay Fish Bar, Llay – now operating under new ownership – was the likely source.

Four people, including a three-year-old girl, had the same strain of E.coli after buying food from the premises in July last year.