More food safety culture

Outbreaks of foodborne diseases are recurrent events, which regularly cost human lives. In modern view, food safety goes beyond food safety management systems; and this means that food safety culture, with its internal and external environment, must also be considered and taken into account. This article aims to briefly discuss the key issues of a food safety culture and the characteristics of the company’s involvement with this element. The work discusses the latest legal regulations since the term “food safety culture” has become an official law in European Union and is recommended by Codex Alimentarius for implementation.

Food Safety Culture-a new element in the assurance of safety system, 2021

Department of Hygiene of Animal Feedingstuffs, National Veterinary Research Institute in Pulway

Krzysztof Kwiatek, Ewelina Patyra

Trying to measure food safety culture

The importance of a safety culture in the food industry has been systematically growing for years, but not without difficulties. The research problem undertaken by the authors is to answer the question whether and to what extent this issue is present in the norms and standards recommended by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). 

The aim of the article is to present the general essence of food safety culture and to show its relationship with the requirements of the indicated norms and standards. The following research methods were used: literature analysis, secondary data analysis, synthesis and inference. The article defines the concept of food safety culture from the perspective of organizational and national culture. The authors of the work analyzed all standards and norms in terms of the requirements of the food safety culture.

Food safety culture in the light of the standards recognized by the GFSI, 2021

Quality Problems

Wiśniewska, Małgorzata Z. Grybek, Tomasz

Surveys still suck: Temperature awareness in Saudi Arabia

Foodborne diseases are usually caused by consuming foods that are stored at an inappropriate temperature. This study aims to evaluate the knowledge of safe food temperature control among restaurant supervisors of Dammam city, Saudi Arabia.

A cross-sectional study was carried out during January 2019 to May 2019. A close-ended questionnaire was used to assess knowledge and source of information about food temperature control from restaurant supervisors. The response rate of the study was 97 (80.8%). Demographic profile and knowledge scores of restaurant supervisors are reported as percentage. Chi-square test was used to compare group differences in knowledge.  value <0.05 was considered significant. Restaurant supervisors had good knowledge about safe temperature for cold food (93.8%) and storing food in the freezer (83.5%) and in the refrigerator (79.4%), while they had poor knowledge of safe temperature for hot food (14.4%) and the range of temperature in which bacteria grow rapidly (danger zone temperature) in food (15.5%). All restaurant supervisors reported food and environmental inspector as their main source of information about food temperature control. Restaurant supervisors’ education level and place of work showed a significant association with safe temperature for storing food in the refrigerator and the best method to check safe cooking temperature (I have one of those, upper right, in my knapsack, which I take everywhere).

The high percentage of lack in the knowledge of safe temperature control for hot foods and danger zone temperature among restaurant supervisors is of great concern for public health as it exposes the customers to foodborne illnesses. The study results emphasize on the necessity to conduct education and training programs for restaurant supervisors to improve the quality of food served to consumers and protect them from foodborne illnesses and food poisoning.

Knowledge of safe food temperature among restaurant supervisors in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, 12 July 2021

Journal of Food Quality

Mohammed Al-Mohaithef,1 Syed Taha Abidi,2 Nargis Begum Javed,2 Musaad Alruwaili,2 and Amal Yousef Abdelwahed2,3

CDC warns of Salmonella infections linked to BrightFarms brand sunny crunch salad

A CDC food safety alert regarding a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium infections has been posted:

Key points:

Eight people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from two states (Wisconsin and Illinois). No hospitalizations or deaths have been reported.

Interviews with ill people and traceback information show that BrightFarms brand Sunny Crunch salad may be contaminated with Salmonella and making people sick. At least five people ate or bought this product before getting sick.

The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because some people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella.

Investigators are working to identify if additional products are contaminated.

CDC is advising people not to eat, sell, or serve BrightFarms brand Sunny Crunch salad. See the Food Safety Alert for product details and description.

What You Should Do:

Do not eat, sell, or serve BrightFarms brand Sunny Crunch salad produced in Rochelle, IL. Throw it away or return it to where you bought it. Even if some of the salad was eaten and no one got sick, throw the rest away or return it.

Wash items and surfaces that may have touched the salad using hot soapy water or a dishwasher.

Contact a healthcare provider if you think you got sick from eating the salad.

About Salmonella:

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 6 hours to 6 days after being exposed to the bacteria.

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

In some people, the illness may be so severe that the patient is hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other parts of the body.

Children younger than 5, adults 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe illness.

If you have questions about cases in a particular state, please call that state’s health department.

At least 170 people take ill after consuming prasad in India

Avinash Kumar of the Hindustan Times reports at least 170 people took ill due to suspected food poisoning in Kothwan village in Munger district of Bihar late on Monday.

Sources in the district administration said more than 250 people were invited to the house of one Mahesh Koda for Satyanarayan Katha on Monday evening. After consuming the prasad, most of the villagers complained of an upset stomach, dizziness and vomiting.

As the number grew, the district administration alerted the civil surgeon who sent a team comprising two doctors, six paramedical staff and three ambulances to attend to the patients at around 11pm.

Munger district magistrate Navin Kumar said most of those who took ill were fine after being given medication.

Dr NK Mehta, who treated the villagers said of the 170 people, 80 are still under treatment and everyone was out of danger.

Marshall McLuhan would have something to say about social media in education

Social media platforms are increasingly gaining popularity for various usages in higher education. However, research in this domain is still in nascent stage, especially in India.

Through a systematic review process, this study has summarized some of the major findings of the 184 papers published in the last ten years (2010-2019) in highly reputed journals that are indexed in SCOPUS and EBSCOHOST. The findings are classified as emerging from Indian and international studies and research gaps have been identified. Future studies should explore this gap to help the policy makers at national and various institutional levels to come up with appropriate strategies for reaping more benefit of social media in higher education.

Reviewing current state of research on the use of social media in education, 2021

International Journal of Multidisciplinary pp.70-77

Nirankush Dutta & Anil Bhat

The ghost of Heston: Norovirus outbreak in England

After battling the Covid-19 pandemic for almost two years, a new virus outbreak has been reported in the UK, which is spreading like wildfire. Referred to as the vomiting bug, Norovirus is highly infectious and causes vomiting and diarrhoea.

Arushi Bidhuri of The Health Site writes Public Health England issued a warning about this nasty virus after routine surveillance reported that there has been a massive jump in cases of norovirus. According to reports, 154 outbreaks have been recorded in England since May. This is roughly three times the previous five-year average of 53 outbreaks over the same time period. According to PHE, while small children have been affected, there has also been an increase in infection across all age categories.

As we continue to take precautionary measures against Covid-19, here are some precautions you should take to avoid the contraction of the highly infectious, norovirus. Again, the most important thing is to pay close attention to hygiene.

Quarantine yourself in case you experience any symptoms of norovirus.

Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, using soap and water. Unlike COVID-19, alcohol sanitisers do not kill norovirus, therefore soap and water are the best options.

To disinfect contaminated household surfaces, use a bleach-based household cleaner or a mixture of bleach and hot water.

Avoid cooking or eating with others at least 48 hours after recovering from the infection.

Any contaminated clothes or bedding should be washed with detergent and at 60 C, and contaminated objects should be handled with disposable gloves if feasible.

People infected with the virus should take rest and stay hydrated.

Seek medical attention if symptoms persist for more than 24 hours.

Since young children and the elderly are more prone to rapid dehydration, take extra care and be cautious.

How human cells and pathogenic shigella engage

One member of a large protein family that is known to stop the spread of bacterial infections by prompting infected human cells to self-destruct appears to kill the infectious bacteria instead, a new study led by UT Southwestern scientists shows. However, some bacteria have their own mechanism to thwart this attack, nullifying the deadly protein by tagging it for destruction.

The findings, published online on May 21/21 in Cell, could lead to new antibiotics to fight bacterial infections. And insight into this cellular conflict could shed light on a number of other conditions in which this protein is involved, including asthma, Type 1 diabetes, primary biliary cirrhosis, and Crohn’s disease.

“This is a wonderful example of an arms race between infectious bacteria and human cells,” says study leader Neal M. Alto, Ph.D., professor of microbiology at UTSW and a member of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Previous research has shown that the protein, called gasdermin B (GSDMB), was different from other members of the mammalian gasdermin family. Related gasdermin proteins form pores in the membranes of infected cells, killing them while allowing inflammatory molecules to leak out and incite an immune response. However, GSDMB – found in humans but not in some other mammalian species, including rodents – doesn’t form pores in the membranes of cultured mammalian cells, leaving its target a mystery.

Using a novel screening technology, Alto and colleagues discovered that a protein toxin called IpaH7.8 from shigella flexneri, a bacterium that causes diarrheal disease, directly inhibits GSDMB. Biochemical experiments show that IpaH7.8 places a chemical tag on GSDMB that marks it for cellular destruction.

To understand why shigella flexneri rids human cells of GSDMB, the researchers placed GSDMB within synthetic mammalian and bacterial cell membranes. While GSDMB left the synthetic mammalian membranes unharmed, it poked holes in the bacterial membranes. Further investigation showed that immune cells called natural killer cells stimulate this process.

Alto notes that inhibiting the ability of shigella IpaH7.8 to counteract GSDMB could lead to new types of antibiotics. And because genetic variants of GSDMB have been linked to a variety of inflammatory diseases and cancer, better understanding this protein could lead to new treatments for these conditions too.

If you have a yak, why not get it inspected?

The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is amending its regulations to define yak and include it among “exotic animals” eligible for voluntary inspection under 9 CFR part 352. This change is in response to a petition for rulemaking from a yak industry association, which FSIS granted in 2015.

Additionally, FSIS is revising the definitions of antelope, bison, buffalo, catalo, deer, elk, reindeer, and water buffalo to make them more scientifically accurate.

Moreover, FSIS is responding to comments on whether all farmed-raised species in the biological families Bovidae, Cervidae, and Camelidae, if not already subject to mandatory inspection, should be eligible for voluntary inspection, and whether any species in these families should be added to the list of amenable species requiring mandatory inspection.


Food safety lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic

While it is, perhaps, premature to look at the COVID-19 pandemic through the rearview mirror only, there is, according to Max Teplitski of The Packer, enough data to extract some useful lessons. 

There has been an 80-95% drop-off in the cases of norovirus infections in the U.S. (and a similar trend in England and Wales) during the COVID-19 pandemic, and another study focusing on a decline in foodborne bacterial infections. 

Similarly, studies in Israel and Spain report a 30-80% decline in reported cases of salmonella, shigella and campylobacter infections. Even though the healthcare system was stressed, authors point out that under-reporting of cases could be ruled out.  

While it is beyond doubt that SARS-CoV2 is not a foodborne pathogen, what can we learn from the measures that were put in place to control COVID-19 that also had a positive impact on food safety?

Even though we cannot eliminate the possibility that lockdowns minimized interpersonal interactions and that limited the spread of some foodborne illnesses, other factors were also likely at play. 

From the first days of the pandemic we were all reminded of the importance of hygiene: washing hands, using alcohol-based sanitizers and doing so often. While hand hygiene is something that is commonplace in the produce and, more broadly, food industry, it was the first time that consumers went to great lengths to sanitize hands before coming into public places and after leaving them.  

The authors of the Israeli study, in fact, make a direct link between an increase in handwashing and a reduction in shigella infections. I firmly believe that continuing handwashing and hand sanitizing habits learned over the past 18 months is the single most effective intervention that the food industry and consumers can implement to reduce the burden of foodborne illness. 

Disinfecting shopping carts was a new practice implemented during the pandemic. While it was put in place to sanitize high-touch surfaces (such as cart handlebars), I have no doubt that this was the second most effective practice in reducing transmission of foodborne pathogens.