Food fraud: CFIA lays charges after regular cheese passed off cheese as kosher at kids’ camp

I don’t get the kosher-halal food thing, seems to involve excessive animal suffering, but hey, who doesn’t want to make a buck and fly live animals for slaughter 150 years after frozen food transport was invented.

According to Michele Henry of the Toronto Star, for the first time in Canada, the country’s food inspection agency has laid criminal charges against a businessman and his company for allegedly trying to pass off run-of-the-mill food as kosher.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has charged Creation Foods and its vice-president, Kefir Sadiklar, with sending cheddar cheese falsely described as “kosher” to Jewish summer camps in June 2015. The agency alleges forged documents were created to make it seem like the cheese adhered to Jewish dietary laws.

The regulatory body, which polices food labels across Canada, has laid five charges against Sadiklar and his family-run Woodbridge-based distributor related to cheese products sent to two camps — Camp Moshava near Peterborough and Camp Northland-B’nai Brith in Haliburton.

The agency alleges that forged letters of kosher certification were slipped into boxes of non-kosher Gay Lea Ivanhoe shredded “Ivanhoe Old Cheddar Cheese” that Creation delivered to “strictly kosher” Jewish summer camps in June 2015. Kosher products are typically sold at a higher price than non-kosher products.

In an email to the Star, the federal food inspection agency said this is the first case it “has brought before a provincial court related to the misrepresentation of a kosher food product.”

Sadiklar, 39, is scheduled to make his next appearance in Newmarket court on May 20.

If convicted, he and Creation could face steep fines and even jail time.

The allegations made by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have not been tested in court.

The term “kosher” refers to food that follows Judaism’s strict dietary rules that dictate not only what observant Jews can eat, but how the food is prepared and handled. In the case of making cheese, a rabbi would be responsible for adding the coagulation enzyme at the first stage and certifying that no non-kosher products touched the kosher cheese on the line.

A rabbi has more microbiological knowledge than a microbiologist?

Market food passed on safety, not some weird religious stuff.

If god was so caring, why are so many people getting sick from the food they eat?(Darwin had the same problem with religion after his daughter, Annie, died at 10-years-old).

‘We were wrong’ Butcher should have been charged with manslaughter in Mason Jones E. coli death

A butcher whose E. coli-infected meat killed a five-year-old boy should have been charged with manslaughter, a court has heard.

mason-jonesMason Jones, from Deri, Caerphilly county, died in 2005 after eating contaminated meat at school.

William John Tudor was jailed for a year for breaking food safety laws.

But Cardiff Civil Justice Centre heard the Crown Prosecution Service has admitted it made the “wrong decision” in not pressing manslaughter charges.

The infected meat which killed Mason came from Tudor’s butchers in Bridgend which also supplied more than 40 other schools in the south Wales valleys.

About 160 people fell ill during the E. coli outbreak.

The original inquest in 2010 into Mason’s death recorded a narrative conclusion. Delivering his verdict, coroner David Bowen said: “I have agonised over a verdict of unlawful killing but despite substantial, some might say horrific, breaches of food hygiene regulations the evidence is not strong enough.

“There is little doubt Mason was owed a duty of care and a catalogue of failures to observe basic food hygiene breached that duty.

“But it is not enough for there to be a breach of the duty of care, however extensive and reprehensible that may be.”

On Tuesday, Cardiff Civil Justice centre considered an appeal by Mason’s family to get the original inquest narrative conclusion quashed and a second inquest heard.

Mason’s family, including his older brother who was also infected during the outbreak, were all present in court.

Representing the family, Mark Powell QC, claimed the coroner got the original verdict wrong.

“We say the coroner misdirected the jury and misdirected himself as to the essential elements of the offence,” he said.

“We don’t say the coroner was acting improperly, we say he was wrong.”

Following Mason’s death, the CPS declined to press charges of manslaughter against Tudor, of Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan.

The hearing was told that the CPS have since said to the family that was the wrong decision.

Mr Powell said the family is motivated by “a desire to right a wrong”.

The hearing was told Tudor had sufficient training in food hygiene and knew there was a risk someone might die.

The Civil Justice Centre heard a judgement would be handed down at a later date.

Lights out for falsely advertised UV disinfectant devices

Two marketers of ultraviolet light “disinfectant” devices have agreed to stop making claims that their devices can wipe out foot fungus and dangerous bacteria like MRSA, E. coli, and Salmonella in order to settle U.S. Federal Trade Commission charges alleging they engaged in false and unsubstantiated advertising.

shUVeeThe settlements impose judgments of $656,423 and $629,359, against Angel Sales, Inc. and its principals and Zadro Health Solutions, Inc., respectively. Based on their ability to pay, the Angel Sales judgment is suspended and the Zadro Health Solutions’ judgment is partially suspended upon payment of $222,029 for consumer refunds. In each case, the full judgment will become due immediately if defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.

“The defendants said their devices’ UV rays would kill dangerous microorganisms, but they didn’t have scientific evidence to back that up,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “I’m pleased that the FTC’s action has put an end to these deceptive claims.”

3 found guilty in Georgia Salmonella trial

In a decision that may finally hold U.S. food producers accountable, a federal jury convicted three people Friday in connection with an outbreak of Salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths.

2009_0115_ss_peanut_crackerFormer Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell was found guilty of conspiracy and other charges after a seven-week trial in Albany, Georgia.

Parnell, his brother, Michael Parnell, and quality assurance manager Mary Wilkerson have been on trial since Aug. 1 on charges stemming from the 2008-2009 outbreak that sickened 714 people and was linked to nine deaths. Michael Parnell was found guilty of conspiracy. Wilkerson was found guilty of obstruction.

Conspiracy charges and the obstruction charges each carry up to 20 years in prison. Sentencing will take place at a later date.

Experts say it’s the first time corporate executives and plant workers have gone to trial in a food poisoning case.

Who wants to be embarrassed? Reputational risk drives social media processes

From a C on a restaurant door to a public lawsuit, embarrassment may be the most effective way to make food safer.

In the handwashing world, it’s a combination of shock and shame.

public.embarrassmetAnd that seems to work with food suppliers.

Wall Street and Technology reports that in a recent study, reputational risk exceeded compliance as the top concern for financial services organizations with respect to social media.

Though compliance drives so many decisions in financial services, that’s entirely not so with social media. Instead, reputational risk is a greater concern, according to a recent survey of audit professionals.

According to the 2014 Internal Audit Capabilities and Needs Survey by Protiviti, a global business consultancy owned by Robert Half International, financial services respondents identified brand/reputational damage as the greatest risk posed by social media. Compliance came in a distant second, with data security ranking third.

Drilling down, 53% of financial services industry respondents gave reputation risk a “No. 1” ranking among the hazards. By contrast, 19% named compliance as the greatest risk, and 9% selected data security.

The survey drew responses from 600 internal auditors representing all types of industries. Of those, 110 were drawn from financial services institutions; 76% came from US firms.

This all applies to food safety risk.

Raw poultry: the legal history, public policy, and consumer behavior

In Feb., 2014, Melvin N. Kramer,
 of EHA Consulting Group, wrote a piece about the ongoing Salmonella outbreak linked to Foster Farms poultry.

It is reprinted here with permission.

 The CDC reported that as “of January 15, 2014, a total of 430 persons infected with seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 23 states and Puerto Rico.” (1) In response to the news, the popular media, the technical and professional public health and consumer publications, including the blogosphere, have weighed in with opinions.

Chicken_labelThe question is whether or not the poultry producer should have voluntary recalled the raw chicken, which based on epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials, indicated “that consumption of Foster Farms brand chicken is the likely source of this outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections.”(2) This question is not only multi-faceted, but has a rich history, both from a public health, public policy, and legal perspective dating back to the early 1970s.

I feel in a somewhat unique position to write this paper since my superior at the New Jersey State Department of Health, Oscar J. Sussman, DVM, JD, MPH was involved. He influenced the American Public Health Association (APHA) to formally sue the United States Department of Agriculture for failure to warn the public that up to 50.8% of Federally Inspected poultry was positive for salmonella.(3) Sussman wanted the USDA to put a very simplistic warning on every retail package of poultry stating, “Caution. Improper cooking of this product may be hazardous to your health.”(4)

The warning was to counter the seal of inspection in which the USDA certifies that the poultry is “wholesome” because a pathogen such as salmonella is not wholesome unless and until the poultry is properly thermalized to an internal temperature of 165°F. This temperature will adequately kill all salmonella and other pathogens present.

The lawsuit was filed and adjudicated in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The issue of the litigation went in a slightly different direction challenging the Wholesome Meat Act and the Wholesome Poultry Products Act as contained in 21 U.S.C.S. § 601, et seq. and 21 U.S.C.S. § 41 et seq., respectively.

In the initial case, which was ultimately appealed and decided on December 19, 1974 by the United State Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in the matter styled APHA v. Butz, the plaintiffs argued that the government’s official mark of inspection was misleading; therefore, the product was misbranded since the USDA failed to warn against the dangers of salmonella.(5)

chicken.thermAlthough the USDA tried to settle the case in exchange for consumer education, which they ultimately did, the case went on to the appellate court, which affirmed the lower trial court’s decision in favor of the government.(6)

What is relevant to the current debate with Foster Farms boils down to the definition of the term “adulterated”, defined in the statute as:

(1) if it bears or contains any poisonous or deleterious substance which may render it injurious to health; but in case the substance is not an added substance, such article shall not be considered adulterated under this clause if the quantity of such substance in or on such article does not ordinarily render it injurious to health.(7)

The USDA’s position, which was the prevailing position per the lawsuit decision, was articulated in a letter from the USDA on August 18, 1971 and cited in the appellate opinion, which stated:

“the ‘American consumer knows that raw meat and poultry are not sterile and, if handled improperly, perhaps could cause illness’ In other words, American housewives and cooks normally are not ignorant or stupid and their methods of preparing and cooking of food do not ordinarily result in salmonellosis.”(8)

The Court’s opinion that salmonella in raw poultry is not an adulterant is the reason why Foster Farms did not conduct a voluntary recall nor was there a withdrawal of the USDA from the plant, which would in effect close the processing facility. Furthermore, the plant must be operating within the numerous USDA regulations or else there would have been significant negative consequences up to and including the withdrawal of inspection.

In contrast to the poultry producer, Costco’s El Camino Real store in South San Francisco, Calif., voluntarily recalled 9,043 units (approximately 39,755 lbs.) of rotisserie chicken products that may be contaminated with a strain of Salmonella Heidelberg, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

chicken.south.parkCostco recalled 8,730 “Kirkland Signature Foster Farms” rotisserie chickens and 313 total units of “Kirkland Farm” rotisserie chicken soup, rotisserie chicken leg quarters, and rotisserie chicken salad. The products were sold directly to consumers in a Costco located at 1600 El Camino Real, South San Francisco, Calif., between Sept. 11 and Sep. 23, 2013.(9) The initial recall was initiated on Oct. 12, 2013 due to concerns about a group of Salmonella Heidelberg illnesses that may be associated with the consumption of rotisserie chicken products prepared in and purchased at the Costco El Camino Real store.

On October 17, 2013 Costco’s El Camino Real store in San Francisco, Calif., voluntarily recalled an additional 14,093 units of rotisserie chicken products that may be contaminated with a strain of Salmonella, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced. This is in addition to the 9,043 units that were recalled on Oct. 12.

The products subject to recall were 13,455 “Kirkland Signature Foster Farms” rotisserie chickens and 638 total units of “Kirkland Farm” rotisserie chicken soup, rotisserie chicken leg quarters, and rotisserie chicken salad. The products were sold directly to consumers in a Costco located at 1600 El Camino Real, South San Francisco, Calif., between Sept. 24 and Oct. 15, 2013.(10) These recalls were appropriate and in the best interest of public health, since it was in a ready-to-eat product, which all consumers have a right to expect is pathogen free.

Conversely, Tyson Foods, Inc. a Sedalia, Mo., establishment, voluntarily recalled approximately 33,840 pounds of mechanically separated (raw) chicken products that may be contaminated with a Salmonella Heidelberg strain, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today (January 10, 2014).

The mechanically separated chicken products were produced on Oct. 11, 2013. The following products are subject to recall: 40-lb. cases, containing four, 10-lb. chubs of “TYSON MECHANICALLY SEPARATED CHICKEN.””(11) This product was not available to the consumer, and in fact, was for institutional customers (this was from a correctional facility).

Salmonella’s status as a possible adulterant has been litigated, resulting in courts not considered salmonella an adulterant. From a public health law perspective, unless Congress passes specific legislation and signed into law by the President naming salmonella as an adulterant, raw poultry with salmonella will continue to not be considered an adulterated and, therefore, not subject to involuntary or mandatory recall or plant shutdown.

FunkyChickenHiThe public policy facet of this debate I think is more interesting than the recalls themselves. As referenced earlier, the USDA settled the legal case in exchange for consumer education in the early 1970s. At that time, and to an extent to this date, all the USDA offered were public service spots on radio and television, particularly around holidays and other times with heavy consumer consumption of meat and poultry.

However, the USDA’s FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service) also adopted mandatory Safe Handling Instructions (reproduced below), which are described in the Code of Federal Regulations, title 9, parts 317 and 381. In reality, I believe these mandatory Safe Handling Instructions gave credence to Dr. Sussman and the APHA’s position in the litigation. Furthermore, I believe consumer warnings would have potentially prevented untold illness and deaths from raw meat and poultry, if commenced decades earlier.

Safe Handling Instructions

This product was prepared from inspected and passed meat and/or poultry. Some food products may contain bacteria that could cause illness if the product is mishandled or cooked improperly. For your protection, follow these safe handling instructions.

  • Keep refrigerated or frozen. Thaw in refrigerator or microwave.
  • Keep raw meat and poultry separate from other foods. Wash working surfaces (including cutting boards), utensils, and hands after touching raw meat or poultry.
  • Cook thoroughly.
  • Keep hot foods hot. Refrigerate leftovers immediately or discard.(12)

The historic problem, and the rationale for the Safe Handling Instructions, is that consumers lacked appropriate handwashing practices and strategies to prevent cross-contamination between raw poultry and ready-to-eat foods as well as lacked adequate and verifiable thermalization of poultry to ensure thermal kill of salmonella and any other pathogens.

Therefore, the American consumer – whether in their kitchen or in a ready-to-eat processing plant, an institution such as a healthcare facility or university or retail food establishment – must pay acute attention to handwashing, not cross-contaminating raw and ready to eat food products, and thermalization of poultry to 165°F, verified with a calibrated thermometer.

chickenAlthough it would be ideal to have a guarantee that no pathogens would be present on raw poultry, or for that matter raw beef, seafood, shellfish, fruits, and vegetables, it is not a reality. Eradicating pathogens from raw food is likely not possible without getting into another thorny issue, which is irradiation of food.

If poultry was irradiated, there would be no salmonella in raw poultry! However, until the government passes law otherwise, it is incumbent on consumers to be vigilant and take precautions to ensure pathogen prevention.


(2) Id.

(3) The exact statistic has varied in numerous studies as described in a June 30, 1966 article in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled Isolation of Salmonella from Poultry. Arthur Wilder. Isolation of Salmonella from Poultry. The New England of Journal of Medicine. Volume 274, Number 26. June 30, 1966.

(4) Claim USDA Meat Inspection Inadequate. AP Release. November 6, 1971.

(5) American Public Health Asso. v. Butz. 511 F.2d 331 U.S. App. (1974).

(6) Id.

(7) 21 U.S.C.S § 601

(8) 511 F.2d 334 (1974)





Entire food system should be accountable for outbreaks

Arresting the Jensen brothers without indicting anyone else in the food system is like arresting Richard Eggers to curb the excesses of the global financial crisis.

Eggers, a 68-year-old Des Moines resident, who gained national attention after being fired by Wells Fargo & Co. in July 2012, was featured on the Colbert Report (video below for North Americans) in a segment satirizing the federal government’s failure to jail a cantaloupesingle high-level banker who helped precipitate the global financial crisis.

Eggers was fired after the nation’s largest bank by market value learned that he had been arrested 49 years ago for putting a cardboard cutout of a dime in a Carlisle laundry machine. He is one of an estimated 3,000 low-level bank employees who were fired last year under employment regulations meant to deter the kind of high-level excesses that helped precipitate the global financial crisis.

The Jensen’s case is far more serious, involving the death of 33 people and sickening 143 from Listeria in cantaloupe in 2011, but focusing on the farmers who received stellar audit reports lets the system off the hook.

And the system is at fault.

The nation’s food safety system, especially for produce, is a patchwork of third-party audits, personal assurances, and profit before protection.

The government – the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – says it’s sending a message, but it’s sending the wrong one.

Eric Jensen, 37, and Ryan Jensen, 33, were accused of six counts of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce and aiding and abetting.

The Jensens should be held accountable, as should everyone else in the food system, including the auditors that gave the Jensens a big thumbs up and the retailers who rely on paperwork in the absence of evidence. Going after the weakest link only displays a decrepit and ineffectual system.

Some companies – to their credit – are going beyond the paper trail and using their own staff along with outside expertise to build a credible food safety system; some companies really are better.

And they should brag about it.

Because as a consumer, I have no way of knowing whether one cantaloupe was raised, harvested, packed and shipped more hygienically than another. Retailers insist all food is safe, but weekly outbreaks, especially with repeat offenders, shows the system is broken.

(Meeting government standards implies no sort of microbial food safety; that is a tactic to deflect responsibility, what some call the Pinto effect.)

The FDA may be flexing its tiny muscles against the weak kids, but is doing nothing visible about that troubled third-party system in food, where the company selling the food is paying the auditor to approve the safety of the food.

The best producers won’t rely on government and will get ahead of the food safety curve.

Sydney family’s daughter stricken with Salmonella wins court case against KFC

A Sydney father who claimed his daughter was left severely brain damaged from salmonella poisoning after eating a KFC ‘Twister’ has won a court battle against the fast-food chain.

The family of Monika Samaan brought a multimillion-dollar compensation bid against KFC in the NSW Supreme Court, claiming the then seven-year-old became ill after eating the chicken wrap in Sydney’s west in 2005.

KFC denied the claim but on Friday afternoon Justice Stephen Rothman found in favor of the family in the NSW Supreme Court.

KFC has vowed to appeal the ruling.

In a statement, the restaurant said the case was clearly tragic but they were "deeply disappointed and surprised" by Judge Rothman’s decision.

"We believe the evidence showed KFC did not cause this tragedy and, after reviewing the judgment and seeking further advice from our lawyers, we have decided to appeal Justice Rothman’s decision," KFC Australia’s chief corporate affairs officer Sally Glover said.

"We feel deeply for Monika and the Samaan family, however, we also have a responsibility to defend KFC’s reputation as a provider of safe, high-quality food."

During a four-week trial in 2010, Monika’s father Amanwial Samaan told the court he and his wife Hanna, son Abanou and Monika all fell ill with vomiting and diarrhea after sharing the Twister.

Monika, who was in a coma for six months and in hospital for seven, is effectively now a quadriplegic and severely brain damaged.

She took the NSW Supreme Court action through her father.

KFC’s lawyer, Ian Barker QC, argued there "never was a shared Twister" because there was no sales data to prove the family purchased it.

"You did not tell anyone at the hospital, when you were there between October 27 and 29, that you had shared a KFC Twister that Monday," Mr Barker said in the NSW Supreme Court in July 2010.

"Because there was no direct question at me," Mr Samaan replied.

He also accused Mr Samaan of thinking KFC "might be an easy target."

But the family’s barrister, Anthony Bartley SC, presented evidence about KFC food practices that were "disturbing and unsettling."

"If the store was particularly busy, then even if chicken dropped on the floor… it was on some occasions simply put back into the burger station from where it had fallen," he said.

He told the court Monika, who had been a bright girl, could now feed herself to a limited extent but wears a nappy and goes to a special school.

KFC said it would not comment further on the matter as it is now on appeal.

1994 Australian E. coli O111 food poisoning legal fight ends

In Feb. 1995, four-year-old Nikki Robinson died in Australia from E. coli O111 after eating contaminated mettwurst, an uncooked, semi-dry fermented sausage; 173 others were sickened, 23 of whom developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

The company, Garibaldi, blamed a slaughterhouse for providing the contaminated product, while the State’s chief meat hygiene officer insisted that meat inspections and slaughtering techniques in Australian abattoirs were "top class and only getting better."

By Feb. 6, 1995, Garibaldi Smallgoods declared bankruptcy. Sales of smallgoods like mettwurst were down anywhere from 50 to 100 per cent according to the National Smallgoods Council.

The outbreak of E. coli O111 and reverberations fundamentally changed the public discussion of foodborne illness in Australia, much as similar outbreaks of VTEC or shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) in Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. subsequently altered public perception, regulatory efforts and industry pronouncements in those countries.

Now, 16 years later, Adelaide Now reports that all 23 HUS victims of the Garibaldi mettwurst saga have been compensated and will receive free health care for life.

After 16 years of illnesses, hospital treatments, coronial inquests and legal negotiations, counsel for the victims today told the District Court all cases had at last been settled.

All that remains is for the final "second wave" victims and insurer QBE – who inherited the disgraced company’s debts and obligations – to sign off on settlement papers.

Outside court, lawyer John Doherty – who has represented the victims throughout – said QBE had paid out "multi-millions of dollars" but declined to give specifics.

He said the State Government would continue to provide ongoing medical care for each child.

"One child had an organ transplant, only for it to fail and for him to need another one," he said.

"Another boy was just six months old when he was infected – his mother donated her kidney for a transplant a few months ago.

"This is not like a broken arm or leg – these are conditions that these children will have for the rest of their lives."

A coronial inquest would rule Nikki was killed by toxins in the meat that attacked her brain and caused a fatal stroke.

Her death was the result of Garibaldi’s failure to upgrade its processes and standards.

The company had been a serial food-safety offender, responsible for poisoning 100 wedding guests with salmonella in 1990.

During the epidemic, doctors and nurses came to refer to the emergency department of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital as "a battlefield’ as children were admitted on a daily basis with severe symptoms.

Scott Granton (right,in 2005, with Nikki Robinson in background) was left with 50 per cent kidney function, developed type 1 diabetes and had to learn to walk again.

Previously, the District Court has heard 20 of the claimants fell ill during the "first wave" of the epidemic, reporting to hospitals within days of consuming the goods.

Mr Doherty said the hospital and the media deserved thanks for their efforts throughout the saga.

"The Women’s and Children’s Hospital is truly a venerable institution. The media really has been instrumental in brokering this result because of the pressure it has put on QBE and the State Government.