Shazam to let Chiquita reach shoppers via stickers

We – meaning my former lab – advocated that if Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers were going to undertake all those food safety steps back in 2000, they should brag about it.

Specifically through urls on product (youtube didn’t exist back then, but we still took lots of video and didn’t know what to do with it; fortunately, when the family and I tried to drive to Georgia for IAFP 2000 where I was to give the Ivan Parkin lecture – nice job, this year, Gary – we had the camera so was able to dial it in) we wanted to see all the efforts greenhouse growers were taking to enhance microbial food safety.

They eventually went with third-party auditors, because, like politicians and those in biz, they don’t lead, they see which way the wind is blowing and follow.

I’m old, awaiting the birth of my third grandson.

Almost 20 years later, for four weeks this summer, Chiquita stickers will be co-branded with a Shazam code that shoppers can scan to see videos of how bananas move through the supply chain from Latin American farms to U.S. grocery stores.

The program will start in mid-July and aims to draw attention to the company’s sustainability efforts.

“Fifty million Chiquita blue stickers will feature the Shazam code on a weekly basis, with five different experiences where consumers can follow the journey of a banana from the farms in Latin America, to the port facility, right across the Atlantic and all the way to the consumer’s kitchen table, without having to leave the grocery store,” said Jamie Postell, director of sales for North America. “This new partnership with Shazam and the latest technology in immersion allows consumers to learn about Chiquita’s commitment to sustainability and discover what Chiquita does, day after day, in order to deliver the promise that stands behind the blue sticker.”

Could you include some food safety instead of following trends?

 

 

Food safety culture jumped the shark years ago

This short document is based on the content of the GFSI full position paper “a culture of food safety”. It includes the key definitions and a short description of the dimensions and critical components of food safety culture developed in the full paper.

This may therefore be a helpful aide-memoire. Crucially (who writes like this and expects attention from minimum-wage, front line staff? Where’s the Pink Floyd?), the full paper places emphasis on: 1. The essential role of leaders and managers throughout an organisation, from CEO to farm, field and shop floor supervisors, from local ‘Mom and Pop’ grocery stores to large franchise restaurant organisations. 2. Why regular communication, education, metrics, teamwork and personal accountability are vital to advancing a food safety culture. 3. How learned skills including adaptability and hazard awareness move important safe food practices beyond a theoretical conversation to live in “real time.

Get used to ‘food authenticity’ Irish minister launches food safety strategy

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has launched a three-year food safety and food authenticity strategy, which aims to help guarantee food safety as the agri-food sector grows.

“Our future plans for food safety and food authenticity are ambitious, but we should not fear the breadth of our ambition as we dedicate our resources to improvement,” Minister Creed stated.

The Department will be working closely with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) to deliver the strategy.

Dr Pamela Byrne of the FSAI said, “Assuring authenticity, monitoring the food chain, detecting fraudulent and deceptive practices and continually developing the best food safety systems, aligned to new and emerging food safety legislation, is embedded in our organisation’s DNA.”

British Virgin Islands: Stop using deodorizers on preparation surfaces

The Environmental Health Department has sounded an alarm on the use of deodorizers on food preparation surfaces, and is calling on food handlers and establishments that serve food to put a halt to the practice.

Chief Environmental Health Officer Lionel Michael, said his department observed the practice during a number of inspections at local restaurants, bars, delis, grocery stores, and supermarkets in the territory.

He told BVI News his department also received a number of complaints about the practice.

Deodorizers such as air fresheners, aerosols and disinfectants are used to remove unpleasant odours from an area.

Michael said these deodorizers should not be used to clean equipment, stoves, tables, countertops, table mats, microwaves, can openers, refrigerators, or any other food preparation area.

“Deodorisers are not cleaning agents for food surfaces. Deodorizers are for floors and bathrooms – their purpose is for deodorising floors and walls but not on food surfaces. Deodorizers can leave a residue, and chemical contaminants on food surfaces can get on food and cause chemical contamination and chemical poising. It can lead to foodborne illness,” Michael told BVI News.

Thank you, WGS: Listeria linked to smoked salmon in Denmark and France

In Denmark, on 23 August 2017, Statens Serum Institut (SSI) identified a genetic cluster of four human Listeria monocytogenes sequence type (ST) 8 isolates by core genome multilocus sequence typing (cgMLST) [1]. The allele calling was performed in BioNumerics (v7.6.2, Applied Maths, Belgium). We initiated an epidemiological investigation and notified the Danish Central Outbreak Management Group (collaboration between the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (DVFA), the National Food Institute at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and SSI). On 25 August, two additional human isolates were found to belong to the same genetic cluster.

A confirmed case was defined as a person clinically diagnosed with listeriosis after 1 January 2017 with laboratory-confirmed L. monocytogenes ST8 clustering using cgMLST (≤ 5 allelic distance, single linkage). Cases diagnosed before 1 January 2017 with an isolate belonging to this cluster were defined as probable cases.

As of 25 August 2017, the genetic cluster comprised six cases; five confirmed and one probable. The age of the cases ranged from 59 to 96 years (median 80 years) and four were women. All patients had underlying illness and no travel history. One patient died within 30 days of diagnosis. Epidemiological investigations including a standard questionnaire on exposures showed that all five confirmed cases had consumed cold-smoked and/or cured salmon in the 30 days before disease onset. Four cases had bought the salmon in retail chain X. No other food-item was reported as consumed in high frequencies among cases. Epidemiological follow-up for the probable case did not include information on fish consumption.

On 29 August 2017, a comparison between the human outbreak isolates and 16 L. monocytogenes ST8 food- and environmental isolates identified in Denmark from 2014 to August 2017 showed that the human isolates clustered with a food isolate from cold-smoked salmon, cut and packaged at company Y in Poland (zero to two allelic differences using cgMLST). L. monocytogenes had been detected on 31 July 2017 at levels of 110 CFU/g (threshold: 100 CFU/g) at the end of shelf life. The product was widely sold in Denmark and had been sampled by the DVFA in retail chain X, as part of a consumer exposure survey (i.e. analyses project on retail packages). Because the L. monocytogenes concentration had been just above the accepted limit and found at the end of the product shelf life a recall of this batch was not conducted. However, due to the positive finding, follow-up sampling had been performed on the 9 and 10 August 2017 from the central storage unit of retail chain X. L. monocytogenes had been isolated from two batches analysed before end of shelf life. In one sample from the same batches, which was also analysed at the end of the shelf life, on 28 August 2017 a L. monocytogenes level of 240 CFU/g was found. Isolates from the follow-up samples had zero to four allelic differences to the human outbreak isolates using cgMLST.

The human outbreak sequences were also compared to all L. monocytogenes ST8 genomes derived from clinical samples in Denmark from 2012 onwards. Although ST8 genomes from Danish patients in the period 2012–2017 showed high diversity, the outbreak isolates clearly formed a distinct cgMLST cluster with 16 allelic differences to the nearest isolates outside the genetic outbreak cluster and a maximum of nine allelic differences within the cluster (Figure 2a). We investigated the relatedness of outbreak isolates further by single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) analysis performed by both SSI and DTU using two analysis pipelines: Northern Arizona SNP Pipeline (NASP) [2] and CSI Phylogeny version 1.4 from Center for Genomics Epidemiology (CGE), DTU [3] leading to the same conclusion.

On 30 August 2017, DVFA advised retail chain X to recall all cold-smoked salmon produced at company Y. This advice was based on the elevated number of L. monocytogenes (240 CFU/g) found in the product at the end of shelf-life and the link to the outbreak. Retail chain X voluntarily recalled both cold-smoked and cured salmon produced at company Y. As part of the recall procedure, retail chain X informed company Y on the situation. Information from company Y, provided by the Polish food authorities via the European Union Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), showed that the implicated batches were exclusively sold via retail chain X and only in Denmark.

The French National Reference Centre (NRC) for Listeria (Institut Pasteur, Paris), compared the sequences of the Danish human isolates against its database, using cgMLST as previously described [1,4]. A human isolate from a French resident belonged to the same cluster (L2-SL8-ST8-CT771) as the Danish isolates. This French probable case, a female patient in her mid-80s, was diagnosed in June 2016. Epidemiological investigations carried out by Santé Publique France were inconclusive, since food consumption history was not available at the time of diagnosis nor could information on travel to Denmark be retrieved, as the person had since died.

On 6 September 2017, an official control by the Ministry of Economy was carried out at a French retailer where a kosher chilled cured salmon was sampled for analysis. The sample was contaminated with L. monocytogenes at the level of 460 CFU/g and the salmon producer was company Y. An isolate was sent to the French NRC for typing and showed to belong to the same cgMLST type as the Danish outbreak. Further investigations on the food product confirmed that it had not been further processed after production in Poland. The product was recalled and no human cases were linked to its consumption as of beginning of December 2017.

The other nine countries that replied to the EPIS-FWD UI-426 notification (Austria, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, United Kingdom) did not report any human or food isolates linked to the Danish outbreak. However, after submission of this report, at the end of November, we were informed through EPIS about three genetically linked human isolates in Germany.

Discussion

Here we report on a listeriosis outbreak and highlight the value of rapidly comparing the genomes of human and food/environmental isolates at the national and international levels.

The fact that the contaminated salmon products identified in Denmark and France were from different batches suggests environmental contamination possibly at the production facility at company Y. It is too early to assess whether any measures taken at company Y have been effective in controlling the outbreak. However, experiences from previous investigations suggest that once L. monocytogenes is detected in one product, the whole production site should be subject to a thorough inspection, and sampling with special attention to all the possible contamination/cross contamination issues before implementing corrective measures [5,6]. Moreover, the risk for L. monocytogenes persistent strains in the production environment requires the close monitoring for several years to ensure the elimination of these [7,8].

Since WGS was introduced for routine surveillance in Denmark, a number of listeriosis outbreaks have been detected and solved, including outbreaks involving cold-smoked ready-to-eat sliced fish products [5]. The present investigation further reinforces the suspicion that ready-to-eat fish products are important sources of L. monocytogenes infections in Denmark, as well as in other countries.

Though only involving a low number of isolates, WGS L. monocytogenes surveillance and communication between countries allowed us to detect and rapidly solve this salmon-associated outbreak, leading to food product recall in two European countries. Compared with previous typing methods, WGS has a higher discriminatory power and the ability to determine genetic distance between isolates. The introduction of WGS for surveillance of food-borne infections has shown that it improves outbreak detection and facilitates outbreak investigations and likely helps reduce the number of infections [4,9-16]. The EPIS-FWD communication platforms allowed for the communication to link cases across borders. However, currently cross-border outbreaks are only detected when case numbers in at least one country exceed normal levels and are notified internationally. Therefore, a possible future system for easy exchange of and comparison of WGS data, e.g. by the use of an agreed cgMLST nomenclature, across borders will enable the identification of more dispersed outbreaks as well as cross-border links between food samples and human infections. This report highlights that by the application of cross-disciplinary and real-time cross-border comparison of WGS data, L. monocytogenes infections can be prevented and thereby providing safer food for at-risk groups such as the elderly, immunodeficient individuals and pregnant women.

Cross-border outbreak of listeriosis caused by cold-smoked salmon, revealed by integrated surveillance and whole genome sequencing (WGS), Denmark and France, 2015 to 2017

Schjørring Susanne, Gillesberg Lassen Sofie , Jensen Tenna, Moura Alexandra, Kjeldgaard Jette S, Müller Luise, Thielke Stine, Leclercq Alexandre, Maury Mylene M, Tourdjman Mathieu, Donguy Marie-Pierre, Lecuit Marc, Ethelberg Steen, Nielsen Eva M. Cross-border outbreak of listeriosis caused by cold-smoked salmon, revealed by integrated surveillance and whole genome sequencing (WGS), Denmark and France, 2015 to 2017. Euro Surveill. 2017;22(50):pii=17-00762. https://doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2017.22.50.17-00762

https://eurosurveillance.org/content/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2017.22.50.17-00762

Over 500 sick: E. coli found in well water at zip line attraction in Tennessee

Tennessee’s Department of Health says testing has confirmed E. coli in well water at a zipline attraction.

The announcement comes after an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness among visitors at CLIMB Works Zipline Canopy Tour, WATE reported.

While tourists continue to enjoy the park, management is working to fix the drinking water.

“I did notice signs not to drink the water. So, I didn’t know if that was something normal everyday or something going on,” LaRie Roe said.

A new filtration system and bottled water for guests have been added. The park is offering refunds for anyone affected with any illness.

100 sick from Salmonella in 33 states: Kellogg’s Honey Smacks Cereal still suck and still being sold

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has become aware that recalled Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal are still being offered for sale. All Honey Smacks cereal was recalled in June 2018.

Retailers cannot legally offer the cereal for sale and consumers should not purchase Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal.

The FDA has learned that some retailers are still selling this product. The FDA will continue to monitor this situation closely and follow up with retailers as we become aware of recalled products being offered for sale. Additionally, the public is urged to report any product being offered for sale to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in their region. More information about the recall can be found at FDA.gov.

The FDA, CDC, along with state and local officials are investigating a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Mbandaka infections linked to Kellogg’s Honey Smacks sweetened puffed wheat cereal.

The CDC reports that 100 people in 33 states have become ill. There have been 30 hospitalizations and no deaths.

Following discussion with FDA, CDC, and state partners, the Kellogg Company voluntarily recalled Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal. The recalled products were distributed across the United States including Guam and Saipan and internationally. Consumers should not eat any Honey Smacks cereal.

As this is an ongoing investigation, the FDA will update this page as more information becomes available, such as product information, epidemiological results, and recalls.

The FDA provided a more detailed a list of foreign countries to which the Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal was distributed.. Here is the list of the foreign countries: Aruba/Curaçao/Saint Maarten (Netherlands Antilles), the Bahamas, Barbados, Tortola (British Virgin Islands), Costa Rica, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Panama, and Tahiti (French Polynesia).

The FDA is advising consumers to not eat and to discard any Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal. This is regardless of size or “best if used by” dates. The recall notice accounts for all of the product that is on the market within the cereal’s estimated one year shelf-life. However, Honey Smacks products with earlier dates could also potentially be contaminated.  

The FDA quickly initiated an inspection at the contract facility where Kellogg’s Honey Smacks is manufactured. As part of the inspection, investigators collected environmental and product samples. Analysis of the environmental samples is now complete, and they were found to be a match to the outbreak strain. In addition, product samples collected and analyzed by state partners were positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella Mbandaka. As of June 12, 2018, the manufacturing facility is no longer producing product. The FDA continues to work with the firm to address corrective actions.

When the Miami Herald filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the inspection of the facility, the FDA denied the request. The agency claimed two exemptions: “disclosure could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings” and possible disclosure of “trade secret and confidential commercial information.”

61 sick in 7 states from Cyclospora in new outbreak linked to McDonald’s; 3000 locations removing salads

At least 61 people in seven Midwestern States have been sickened with Cyclospora possibly linked to salads served at McDonald’s restaurants.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that two people have been hospitalized and to date, no deaths have been reported.

Ashley Nickle of The Packer reports that health authorities in Illinois and Iowa have reported 105 recent cases of cyclosporiasis and have linked some of them to McDonald’s salads.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we decided to voluntarily stop selling salads at impacted restaurants until we can switch to another lettuce blend supplier,” McDonald’s said in a statement. “We are in the process of removing existing salad blends from identified restaurants and distribution centers, which includes approximately 3,000 of our U.S. restaurants, primarily located in the Midwest.”

McDonald’s spokeswoman Terri Hickey said, “McDonald’s is committed to the highest standards of food safety and quality control. We are closely monitoring this situation and cooperating with state and federal public health authorities as they further investigate”

In June, federal agencies investigated cyclosporiasis cases that were linked to Del Monte vegetable trays. More than 225 illnesses have been reported in that outbreak. At this time, no link has been made by health authorities between the outbreak linked to McDonald’s salads and the outbreak linked to Del Monte vegetable trays, which included broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and dip.

Mass. restaurant Kitty’s closed after 39 sick from suspected Salmonella

ABC News reports a Massachusetts restaurant has been shut down until further notice after nearly 40 people reported getting sick during a suspected salmonella outbreak.

The North Reading Board of Health posted an advisory saying the state Public Health Department had received complaints from 39 people who said they got sick at Kitty’s late last month. The state confirmed nine cases of salmonella and 30 suspected cases of salmonella.

The source of the outbreak was traced to the antipasto salad.

The restaurant was closed July 5 and allowed to reopen Friday after a sanitization but has since closed again.

9 dead, 38 sick from Listeria linked to frozen corn in EU back to 2015

My daughters ate a lot of frozen peas and corn when they were young.

Now I’m being told by Europeans I’m stupid.

As I’ve written before, Chapman and I did a bunch of work with the processing vegetable growers in Ontario (that’s in Canada).

We didn’t do any testing, but all the plants we visited had internal Listeria testing and used test-and-hold procedures. That was over 15 years ago.

Additionally, the blanching process should have removed Listeria (but should be verified).

The UK Food Standards Agency, Food Standards Scotland, Public Health England and Health Protection Scotland – that’s a lot of admin types — are reminding people that most frozen vegetables, including sweetcorn, need to be cooked before eating. This includes if adding them to salads, smoothies or dips.

People should always follow manufacturers’ instructions when preparing their food. If the product is not labelled as “ready to eat”, the cooking instructions should always be followed before eating the food hot or cold. 

In the UK, that means piping hot mush.

Any barfbloggers in the EU wanna take a picture of those clear cooking instructions on frozen corn and send them on?

Last week, the European Food Safety Authority said that frozen corn and possibly other frozen vegetables are the likely source of an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes that has been affecting Austria, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom since 2015.

Experts used whole genome sequencing to identify the food source, which initially was thought to be limited to frozen corn. As of 8 June 2018, 47 cases including nine deaths had been reported.

The same strains of L. monocytogenes have been detected in frozen vegetables produced by the same Hungarian company in 2016, 2017 and 2018. This suggests that the strains have persisted in the processing plant despite the cleaning and disinfection procedures that were carried out.

The available information confirms the contamination at the Hungarian plant. However, further investigations, including thorough sampling and testing, are needed to identify the exact points of environmental contamination at the Hungarian plant. The same recommendation applies to other companies belonging to the same commercial group if environmental contamination is detected.

On 29 June 2018, the Hungarian Food Chain Safety Office banned the marketing of all frozen vegetable and frozen mixed vegetable products produced by the affected plant between August 2016 and June 2018, and ordered their immediate withdrawal and recall. This last measure is likely to significantly reduce the risk of human infections and contain the outbreak. All freezing activity at the plant has been stopped.

New cases could still emerge due to the long incubation period of listeriosis (up to 70 days); the long shelf-life of frozen corn products; and the consumption of frozen corn bought before the recalls and eaten without being cooked properly.

To reduce the risk of infection, consumers should thoroughly cook non ready-to-eat frozen vegetables, even though these products are commonly consumed without cooking (e.g. in salads and smoothies). This applies especially to consumers at highest risk of contracting listeriosis – such as the elderly, pregnant women, new-borns and adults with weakened immune systems.

Frozen fruit and veg: That’s what my 2-decade hockey buddy, who also has four Canadian kids about the same age as mine, said when I asked, how do you go about managing the food for all these kids (along with the pets and horses).

But like Hepatitis A in frozen fruit, I now cook the shit out of them.