Food fraud: Gel-injected shrimp from China

Ms. Yang in the southern China port city of Guangzhou bought six high priced giant tiger prawns in October—she was happy with the purchase until she found gel inside the heads of the prawns.

Juliet Song of NTD writes that such gel, the presence of which is not typically detectable upon superficial inspection, is injected some time between when the shrimp are caught and when they’re sold, in order to add weight and thus earn a greater profit. Shrimp sold live have not been injected, because the injection would kill the shrimp.

Chinese food authorities have not been particularly active in pursuing the cases brought to their attention, according to interviews and news reports, and there is not even a consensus at which point in the production line the operation takes place.

China is the third-largest exporter of seafood to the United States, and it also exports significant amounts of shrimp and catfish, representing 2 of the 10 most consumed seafood products in the country. Nearly $150 million worth of shrimp were imported from China between January and October 2015, according to data by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The problem of adulterated shrimp has persisted for over a decade, despite new cases regularly reported in the Chinese press. Some of the first well-publicized cases of the gel-injected shrimp appeared in 2005, the same year in which the municipal government of Tianjin launched a strike-hard campaign against shrimp injectors. The report, which referred to the campaign gave no details about how many were arrested, or whether the shrimp adulteration rings were broken.

It is unclear how much, or if any of the gel-injected shrimp make their way to these shores, but food safety experts said there is reason to be concerned. The Food and Drug Administration issued an import alert on Dec. 11, 2015, about the “presence of new animals drugs and/or unsafe food additives” from seafood imported in China, including shrimp.

Wu Wenhui, a professor at Shanghai Ocean University, said in an interview in the Chinese press that customers should be wary about industrial gel ending up in shrimp, given that it’s cheaper than the edible version. “Industrial gel is used for furniture, print, and contains many heavy metals such as lead and mercury, which harms the liver and blood, and is even carcinogenic.”

But the act of injection is itself potentially unsafe.

“Even if what was injected was edible gel, which may not itself be harmful, who can guarantee that the process is aseptic?” said Liu Huiping, a member of the executive council of the Tianjin aquatic products association, in an interview with the Beijing News.

 

Food fraud: Connecticut meat supplier pleads guilty to fabricating E. coli test results

In the late 1990s, as on-farm food safety programs started to gain traction at the producer end – and a requirement by retailers – I had a couple of memorable conversations.

Genetically engineered Bt-corn was introduced in 1996 and growers loved it. But powerful technology requires powerful management so at least 20 per cent of a corn field had to be non-Bt-corn — a refuge — to stall the development of resistance. A grower told me he didn’t pay attention to that, his neighbor was his refuge.

At an informal meeting of chicken producers, one told me the paperwork wasn’t onerous, he sat down by the fire on Friday nights and filled out a week’s worth.

I told him it was supposed to be in real time.

But neither of these examples are as a Stafford Springs meat supplier who pled guilty to fabricating E. coli test results in federal court.

Officials told Doug Stewart of Fox 61 Memet Beqiri, also known as Matt Beqiri, 32, of Tolland, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty Tuesday in Hartford federal court to a charge related to his meat processing business’s falsification of numerous E. coli test results.

Beqiri pleaded guilty to one count of making and using a false document and aiding and abetting, a charge that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 12, 2019.  Beqiri was released on a $25,000 bond.

Ryan J. Woolf, the attorney for Matt Beqiri, said his client was made aware of the issue and worked to rectify the situation. He also said this will “never happen again,” and that “no injuries, illness resulted from this issue.”

Beqiri is the owner and general manager of New England Meat Packing, LLC, in Stafford Springs.

Officials said the company is required to perform one generic E. coli carcass swab for every 300 animals slaughtered and to periodically collect ground beef samples for E. coli testing.

Officials said, “Between November 3, 2016 and September 9, 2017, Beqiri authorized the preparation and submission in the company’s Lab Sample Report binder, which the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) reviews, a total of 36 documents relating to 52 separate carcass swabs and ground beef samples on behalf of New England Meat Packing.  The 36 documents were each on the letterhead of a certified laboratory that tests food product samples to ensure safety and wholesomeness and signed by the laboratory director.  The documents stated that the required E. coli testing of samples submitted by New England Meat Packing had been conducted and completed, and that all 52 samples tested negative for E. coli.  In fact, none of the 52 carcass swabs and samples had been submitted or tested by the identified laboratory, or any other laboratory, and the 36 documents were fraudulently prepared using laboratory letterhead obtained from previous testing that New England Meat Packing had conducted with that laboratory.”

Officials said  Beqiri admitted to an investigator with USDA’s FSIS that the documents were fraudulent, and that his business did not collect and submit the samples to the certified laboratory because he did not correlate the potential impact on food safety with his sampling program and wanted to create the appearance he was compliant with all USDA HACCP testing requirements.

There have been no known instances of illnesses reported by anyone who consumed the meat in any of the states where the meat was distributed, according to officials.

In Denmark food companies caught selling fake organic products escape prosecution

Bullshit.

The systematic kind.

Dutch News reports government and organic food label inspectors identified 68 companies which have been selling or trading products labeled as organic which broke the rules, RTL Nieuws.

 In some cases the companies earned tens of thousands of euros selling non-organic coffee, meat, chocolate and vegetables as organic even though they did not meet the proper standards, RTL said. The broadcaster bases its claim on an analysis of reports made to the two watchdogs covering the sector between 2015 and 2018. In total, 58 cases involved ‘misleading’ the public and the remaining 10 were more serious fraud offences, RTL said.

‘These are not incidents,’ VU University criminologist Wim Huisman told the broadcaster. ‘This shows that there is a substantial problem and that it is happening systematically.’

“People who buy organic food pay a higher price for produce which is animal and environment friendly” (more bullshit) food scientist Gertjan Schaafsma said. ‘If there is fraud, these people are being ripped off.’

A spokesman for the NVWA told RTL that the agency does not have enough staff to tackle all the fraud involving organic food. Priority, therefore, is given to cases which have implications for food safety.

Missouri is a special place: Rent-A-Car Employee accused of spiking co-workers’ water with LSD

I did acid twice, in my teens.

It wasn’t good.

Mushrooms are a much better psychedelic, but I only did them once.,

I had a colleague in the early 1990s who would tell me when he retired, he would sit at a cottage with a couple of Marshall amps, his electric guitar and do a bunch of hallucinogens.

Not sure that worked out.

According to Tom Ozimek of The Epoch Times, authorities are investigating the case of an Enterprise Rent-A-Car employee accused of slipping LSD into his co-workers’ water bottles.

A 19-year-old man is in custody in connection with the incident, which allegedly took place at an Enterprise Rent-A-Car location in Arnold, Missouri, last Thursday, March 21, according to KMOV.

Arnold Police received a call from the Enterprise manager, who reported that two employees, a 24-year-old woman and a 23-year-old man, had both been hospitalized after they began to feel “weird and dizzy,” according to the Jefferson County Leader.

 Police say the man told them his coworkers at Enterprise Rent-A-Car had “negative energy,” and he wanted them to mellow out. So the 19-year-old put LSD in three people’s water bottles and coffee cups.

Messing around with people’s food or beverages is never OK.

Fish fraud: Seafood mislabeling persistent throughout supply chain

Not only does Canada continue to have a problem with fish mislabelling, but that problem persists throughout the supply chain, according to a first-ever study by University of Guelph researchers.

U of G researchers found 32 per cent of fish were mislabelled and the number of incorrectly identified samples became compounded as the samples moved through the food system.

“We’ve been doing seafood fraud studies for a decade,” said Prof. Robert Hanner, lead author and associate director for the Canadian Barcode of Life Network. “We know there are problems. But this is the first study to move beyond that and look at where the problems are happening throughout the food supply chain.”

The findings reveal that mislabelling happens before fish are imported into Canada, as well as throughout the supply chain, Hanner added.

“It seems it’s not isolated to foreign markets, but it’s also happening at home. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has partnered with us to actively find solutions to this persistent problem,” said Hanner.

Published recently in the journal Food Research International, the study was conducted in collaboration with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Hanner is the associate Director for the Canadian Barcode of Life Network, headquartered at the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, University of Guelph.

U of G researchers examined 203 samples from 12 key targeted species collected from various importers, processing plants and retailers in Ontario. Of the samples, 141 (69.5 per cent) were from retailers, 51 (25 per cent) from importers and 11 (5.5 per cent) from processing plants.

Researchers identified the samples using DNA barcoding. Developed at U of G, DNA barcoding allows scientists to determine species of organisms using a short, standardized region of genetic material.

The findings revealed 32 per cent of the samples overall were mislabelled. The mislabelling rate was 17.6 per cent at the import stage, 27.3 per cent at processing plants and 38.1 per cent at retailers.

Poland sick cow slaughterhouse: Meat from closed abattoir ‘sold to nine EU countries’

Secret filming by broadcaster TVN revealed the unwell animals being killed at a slaughterhouse situated 112km east of Warsaw.

Chris Harris of Euronews reports meat from the abattoir went to Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden.

“The priority today is to trace and withdraw from the market all the products originated from this slaughterhouse,” Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU commissioner responsible for food safety said in a statement.

“I call on the member states affected to take swift action.

“At the same time, I urge the Polish authorities to finalise as a matter of urgency their investigations, taking all the necessary measures to ensure the respect of the EU legislation including effective, rapid and dissuasive penalties against the perpetrators of such a criminal behaviour that could pose risk to public health and portrays an unacceptable treatment of animals.”

Polish police are investigating after the secret footage appeared to show sick cows dragged into the slaughterhouse and sold with little or no veterinary inspection.

Authorities reacted to the scandal by imposing controls in Polish abattoirs.

“This is the problem of just one company. It is unpleasant, and it is worth stigmatising.

“Fortunately, it is a small slaughterhouse and the other 99.9% of meat processing plants are good,” said Janusz Rodziewicz, head of meats lobby SRiWRP.

But Patryk Szczepaniak, the reporter who uncovered the scandal, said it was a nationwide problem.

Poland produces about 560,000 tonnes of beef a year, with 85% exported to countries including Britain, Spain, Italy and Germany.

Jello at an Australian hospital deliberately contaminated with ‘organic’ material (that means poop)

It’s bad enough to live on Jello – like I had to before my recent colonscopy – but when someone deliberately adds shit, at a hospital, things get worse.

ABC News reports jellies and custards at one of Adelaide’s biggest hospitals, Flinders Medical Centre, were contaminated with a “solid organic” product

Police would not rule out faeces, and said the material was being analysed

Health staff are assisting police with a criminal investigation

“We are satisfied that there are no patients who have been fed the contaminated foodstuffs. No threat or claim has been made in connection with this,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Joanne Shanahan said.

Asked whether it was faeces, and what colour the substance was, Assistant Commissioner Shanahan said she could not comment beyond saying the “matter was being forensically analysed”.

The contaminated items were discovered yesterday on a refrigerator tray in a hospital kitchen, and police were notified this morning.

They have now launched a criminal investigation.

“During a routine food safety inspection yesterday a small number of desserts were identified as contaminated,” said Sue O’Neill, the CEO of the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network.

“Staff were vigilant and isolated the area and raised the alarm. Management then initiated a small assessment team who investigated all other prepared food.”

Ms O’Neill said the contaminant was a “solid, organic-looking product” and was “very obvious”.

Poison Squad: The man who pioneered food safety

Eric Schlosser writes in this New York Times review of Deborah Blum’s new book, “The Poison Squad,” that a now forgotten chemist at the Department of Agriculture, Harvey Washington Wiley, played a more important role — not only in ensuring the passage of the 1906 food safety bills but also in changing popular attitudes toward government intervention on behalf of consumers.

In 1906 the United States was the only major industrialized nation without strict laws forbidding the sale of contaminated and adulterated food. In their absence, the free market made it profitable to supply a wide range of unappetizing fare. Ground-up insects were sold as brown sugar. Children’s candy was routinely colored with lead and other heavy metals. Beef hearts and other organ meats were processed, canned and labeled as chicken. Perhaps one-third of the butter for sale wasn’t really butter but rather all sorts of other things — beef tallow, pork fat, the ground-up stomachs of cows and sheep — transformed into a yellowish substance that looked like butter.

Harvey Washington Wiley was born in a log cabin on April 16, 1844, a fitting entrance for an American hero. His father was a farmer and a lay preacher in southern Indiana who sheltered escaped slaves as part of the Underground Railroad. Wiley served briefly in the Civil War, studied medicine in Indiana and chemistry at Harvard, and became the first chemistry professor at Purdue University in 1874.

The deliberate adulteration of food had been a problem for millenniums, inspiring government regulations in ancient Egypt, Sumeria and Rome. By the late 1870s, the Industrial Revolution, applied to food processing, provided a variety of new techniques and ingredients useful for committing fraud — artificial flavors, artificial colorings, chemical preservatives. But simultaneous advances in chemistry also facilitated the detection of such fakery. At the request of the Indiana State Board of Health in 1881, Wiley began to study the authenticity of the honey and maple syrup for sale in that state. According to Blum, he used laboratory instruments like the polariscope to uncover that “a full 90 percent of his syrup samples were fakes … and there were ‘beekeepers’ who had not, of late, been bothering to keep bees.” Wiley’s findings soon appeared in Popular Science magazine, and his career as a public crusader was launched.

After being named the U.S.D.A.’s chief chemist in 1882, Wiley spent the next 30 years at the department campaigning for safe food and proper labeling. He supervised a series of investigative reports that gained much public attention, warning about “pepper” made from sawdust, “cocoa powder” containing iron oxides and tin, “flour” laced with clay and powdered white rocks, “whiskey” that was actually watered-down ethyl alcohol tinted brown with prune juice, “coffee” that featured ingredients like sand, tree bark, ground acorns, charcoal and a black powder composed of charred bone. To test the health impact of various additives, he recruited young men to serve as guinea pigs in “hygienic table trials,” serving them questionable ingredients during meals in the basement of U.S.D.A. headquarters — and then observing what happened. Soon known as the Poison Squad, these idealistic volunteers embraced the motto on a sign in their special dining room: “only the brave dare eat the fare.” …

“The Poison Squad” offers a powerful reminder that truth can defeat lies, that government can protect consumers and that an honest public servant can overcome the greed of private interests.

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.

Everyone has a camera Pakistan grape edition: Fruit seller is filmed spray painting green grapes red days after Brit aunt became seriously ill eating them

Jay Akbar of The Sun, writes this is the moment a fruit seller was caught spray painting green grapes red just days after a British tourist fell sick eating his wares.

Layla Khan, 23, filmed the dodgy vendor in the village of Afzalpur, Pakistan, after her aunt ate his grapes and contracted diarrhea.

She was shocked to find the merchant crouched behind a stall using a can of Win spray paint to dye the fruit.

The middle-aged man smirked when he noticed the camera, before placing the grapes in a pile of painted fruit on the ground.

The seller, who had red paint on his hands, did not react when questioned in the video by Layla, a carer from Birmingham.

She said: “Tourists need to keep their eyes open and be very careful in street markets like this.

“You can easily be exploited and it is very dangerous for your health. This man does not care that he is feeding people poison and it left my aunt very ill.

“When we confronted him he said ‘Everyone is doing it’ – and smirked. I saw many British people walking around – it’s a spot that is popular with tourists and a busy area.

“My aunt had fallen ill for two days with diarrhea and sickness but had only eaten grapes from a man on the street.

“My cousin and I were shopping and we decided to visit – there were street vendors selling all sorts of food like kebabs, samosas, fruit and coconuts.

“Tourists need to open their eyes and see what they are buying – you’d have to be blind to miss him spraying them in the street.

“Go to a supermarket to buy food to be safe – the grapes cost more but it’s worth it.”

Layla said she reported the incident to the local police force who have been approached for comment.