Update to food safety laws in Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska to impose new updates to food safety laws including no bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods for bartenders that handle sliced lemons and other like garnishes. Studies have shown that the rind and even the flesh of lemon slices harbor a plethora of microorganisms, either from the environment or the food handler. However, the true impact on public health has not been evaluated and there has been resistance from industry on the new proposed update.

Devin Kelly of Dispatch News writes

Anchorage bartenders and waiters may have to start using gloves or utensils to make mixed drinks with lemons, limes, olives or other garnishments if city health officials move forward with a recently unveiled update to local food safety laws.
Other proposed food safety law revisions, released last week, relate to wild game meat donations, wild mushrooms and the city’s growing cottage food industry. Health officials say Anchorage is trying to come more in line with state and federal regulations aimed at preventing foodborne illnesses.
This would be the most substantive update to the city’s food safety laws since 2010. Among the key changes:
* Elimination of an Anchorage law that allows bare-hand contact in bars and restaurants when it comes to garnishing beverages. Right now, Anchorage bartenders are exempt from state laws that require gloves or utensils to handle any kind of food that’s considered ready to eat.
* New regulations would exist for the sale in Anchorage of cottage food, or homespun, non-temperature-controlled products like bread, cookies, jams, pickles and relishes that weren’t acknowledged anywhere in city law until earlier this year. Officials say the changes reflect the booming popularity of farmers markets in the state. The revised update would create new licensing requirements, such as an Anchorage food worker card and recipe submissions.
* Freshly caught fish could be cooked at 125 degrees, about 20 degrees below the temperature recommended by federal authorities. Members of the Anchorage restaurant industry requested the change, hoping to cook more tender, flaky fish, according to DeAnn Fetko, deputy director of the Anchorage Department of Health and Human Services.
* Wild mushrooms would no longer need to be reviewed by a certified specialist, a rule that hasn’t been enforced because of the scarcity of those specialists, officials said. The state certifies mushroom producers, and Anchorage restaurants will be required to indicate on a menu that wild mushrooms are “not an inspected product.”
* Wild game meat could be donated to food banks and cultural programs, an old local law that officials say was inadvertently left out of the 2010 update.
* Businesses would be required to clean and maintain “grease interceptors,” or grease traps, at least every 30 days, and keep the records to show inspectors.

The rest of the story can be found here:


Dr Pepper don’t know HACCP

Sometimes, when Amy is feeling nostalgic, she’s go to the Americana section of the grocery store in Australia and buy a Diet Dr. Pepper for, oh, about $2 a can.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) bottler the American Bottling Company after an inspection revealed serious HACCP failings at a Texas plant.

Beverage Daily reports that in a letter to the company dated July 10, but published last week, the FDA said an inspection of the firm’s facility in Irving, Texas revealed serious violations of Regulation 21, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 120, relating to juice hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP).

“Your lemon and lime juices are adulterated in that they have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health,” FDA Dallas District director Reynaldo R. Rodriguez wrote to American Bottling Company president and CEO Larry Young (who is also DPS CEO and president).

Recounting “serious deviations” at the site, the FDA told the managers that the company must include control measures in its hazard analysis and HACCP plan to “consistently produce at a minimum, a five-log* reduction of the pertinent microorganism for at least as long as the shelf life of the product when stored under normal and moderate abuse conditions.”

These were required under 21 CFR 120, the FDA wrote, but the company’s plan for its ReaLemon 100% Lemon Juice and ReaLime 100% Lime Juice brands did not provide such controls in relation to Listeria monocytogenes.

Only microbial verification studies relating to Salmonella and E.coli O157:H7 were evaluated, the FDA added, but “the pertinent microorganism in the juice from these concentrates is Listeria monocytogenes.”

“In addition, the study did not evaluate or identify the critical factors necessary for achieving a 5-log reduction (i.e. specific Brix, acidity, temperature, preservatives), and the time of holding necessary for achieving a 5-log reduction.”