Mettwursts and pepperoni made by Australian smallgoods firm recalled

Brad Crouch of The Advertiser reports that mettwurst and pepperoni manufactured by Barossa Valley smallgoods firm Linke’s Central Meats is being recalled amid potential contamination fears.

mettwurst-and-pepperoniFollowing food safety checks by the Department of Primary Industries and Regions

South Australia (PIRSA), three types of mettwursts and one pepperoni from the Nuriootpa-based Linke’s Central Meats have been recalled and SA Health is advising people not to consume them.

SA Health has not received any reports of illness associated with these smallgoods but PIRSA is now investigating as routine food safety checks have been unable to verify the safety of the firm’s manufacturing processes for these mettwurst and pepperoni products.

Linke’s Central Meats can be found at South Australian Foodlands, the Loxton IGA and independent smallgoods stores.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) will be issuing a nationwide recall for the product and further information about the recall can be found on the FSANZ website.

Trust but verify: are food safety issues behind China?

The China Post writes that the issue of food safety has once again been put under the spotlight due to the contaminated oil case, a familiar attitude and approach to dealing with the problem can be detected in the government. The question is whether the same measures are likely to be effective this time.

cooking-oil_1705312cAfter more food companies, including well-known food manufacturers, were reported to have used the polluted oil, the government called for a meeting to be held between central and local health departments within 24 hours to deliberate a plan to solve the problem. In addition, they also started thorough investigations to check the purchasing details.

This situation brings up the question of why such problems have happened again less than a year after the previous incident. Especially as the government promised to protect consumers’ rights and guarantee food safety through various methods. Why is the health of citizens once again being threatened by polluted oil?

It would appear that a great deal more government and corporate determination is needed to actually put plans into practice and solve the problem as soon as is practically possible.

Canadian meat inspectors to inspect Canadian meat inspectors

If food safety audits and inspections couldn’t get worse, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is bragging that it is creating Inspection Verification Teams to oversee the performance of Canada’s food safety system. thought inspectors were supposed to do that?

Starting this month, six teams of three inspection verification officers will begin conducting targeted verifications at federally registered food establishments such as slaughter and meat production facilities. The verifications will focus on areas critical to the inspection and production of safe food, such as plant sanitation and the effectiveness of a company’s response to food recalls. An additional four teams will be operational by the fall.

As announced in June 2013, the Government of Canada has committed $16 million over three years to establish the Inspection Verification Teams. Their activities are over and above regular inspections conducted every day in facilities across Canada. Existing front-line CFIA inspectors will continue to conduct specified daily tasks to verify that food safety requirements are being met while the Inspection Verification Teams have a broader oversight role.

Food fraud: If verification is now standard, why isn’t it marketed at retail so consumers know?

Almost a year later, can we be confident that the beef burger is a horse-free foodstuff, asks Alison Healy in The Irish Times.

Every week seems to bring new scares: if it’s not fox masquerading as donkey meat in China, it’s the discovery of donkey, water buffalo and goat in sausages and burgers in o-HORSE-MEAT-COSTUME-570South Africa.

The chief executive of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Alan Reilly, believes burgers and processed-meat products have never been safer, because of the range of tests and regulations that have been introduced in response to the scandal.

“The industry will never be caught on the hop again, like it was with horse meat,” he says. Laboratory certification has become standard for anyone selling or buying meat, and testing the authenticity of meat products is the industry norm now. “So from a consumer perspective, that’s a hugely positive step.”

Both ABP and Tesco Ireland point to a range of tests and standards they have introduced to ensure that a meat-contamination scandal cannot happen again. ABP says it believes it has the most comprehensive testing regime of any European meat processor, including DNA testing of cattle and a strict supplier-approval process.

Tesco Ireland says it now has a world-class traceability and DNA-testing system across its food products. “The initial focus of our testing programme was on products containing beef, but things have evolved during the course of the year to include pork, lamb, chicken, fish and processed meats,” a spokesman says.

Tesco is also looking at ways of using tests to help identify the likely origin of some products. “For example, it can be very difficult to identify the provenance of products such horse-hamburgeras olive oil, rice or coffee by sight, smell and taste alone. Using our authenticity testing, which looks closely at the chemical make-up of a product, we can verify that what is in the pack is exactly what it says on the label.”

That’s all nice, but consumers have heard all this before, only to be eventually disappointed.. Over time, or bad economics, or both, someone will cut corners. The best producers should be marketing the authenticity of their products and make the testing to validate those claims available for public review.

Blade-tenderized rib-eye in restaurants may present public health risk; better cooking protocols required

Fate of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in mechanically tenderized beef prime rib following searing, cooking, and holding under commercial conditions

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 3, March 2013, pp. 376-551 , pp.

Porto-Fett, Anna C.S.; Shoyer, Bradley A.; Thippareddi, Harshavardhan; Luchansky, John B.


We evaluated the effect of commercial times and temperatures for searing, cooking, and holding on the destruction of Escherichia coli O157:H7 (ECOH) within mechanically tenderized prime rib. Boneless beef ribeye was inoculated on the fat side with ca. 5.7 log CFU/g of a five-strain cocktail of ECOH and then passed once through a mechanical tenderizer with the fat side facing upward. The inoculated and tenderized prime rib was seared by broiling at 260°C for 15 min in a conventional oven and then cooked in a commercial convection oven at 121.1°C to internal temperatures of 37.8, 48.9, 60.0, and 71.1°C before being placed in a commercial holding oven maintained at 60.0°C for up to 8 h. After searing, ECOH levels decreased by ca. 1.0 log CFU/g. Following cooking to internal temperatures of 37.8 to 71.1°C, pathogen levels decreased by an additional ca. 2.7 to 4.0 log CFU/g. After cooking to 37.8, 48.9, or 60.0°C and then warm holding at 60.0°C for 2 h, pathogen levels increased by ca. 0.2 to 0.7 log CFU/g. However, for prime rib cooked to 37.8°C, pathogen levels remained relatively unchanged over the next 6 h of warm holding, whereas for those cooked to 48.9 or 60.0°C pathogen levels decreased by ca. 0.3 to 0.7 log CFU/g over the next 6 h of warm holding. In contrast, after cooking prime rib to 71.1°C and holding for up to 8 h at 60.0°C, ECOH levels decreased by an additional ca. 0.5 log CFU/g. Our results demonstrated that to achieve a 5.0-log reduction of ECOH in blade tenderized prime rib, it would be necessary to sear at 260°C for 15 min, cook prime rib to internal temperatures of 48.9, 60.0, or 71.1°C, and then hold at 60.0°C for at least 8 h.

Sprout safety issue requires industry reinforcement – and verification

Manuals and guidelines are nice, but without implementation, coupled with meaningful verification, they’re sorta useless.

Steffanie Smith of the Sprout Alliance for Safety and Science board member
Partner, California Sprouts, writes to The Packer about our paper, “Failures in sprouts-related risk communication,” a study scheduled to be published in the April 2013 issue of the journal Food Control.

While we agree with the fact that there have been several outbreaks in sprouts over the last several years, we disagree with the assumption that sprouts are not safe to consume raw.

We formed the alliance because our member companies have proven sprouts can be grown safely if companies are dedicated to following rigorous food safety practices.

Since 1999, there have been a number of sprout growers that have been diligent in following Food and Drug Administration guidance and have instituted comprehensive and sprout-appropriate good manufacturing practices.

Those companies have a long history of not being associated with an outbreak.

While there is no fresh produce product that can ever be absolutely safe, sprouts can be produced that meet all the safety expectations consumers hold for fresh produce.

The challenge in the industry has been to get and keep growers in compliance.

Since there are growers that do and growers that don’t comply, we formed the Sprout Alliance for Safety and Science for growers that not only want to comply with FDA guidance, but are willing to implement and comply with rigorous alliance standards as well.

Members of the Sprout Alliance for Safety and Science did not believe, as an industry, we could wait until the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Sprout Safety Alliance process is complete before providing member companies with state-of-the art recommendations on how to implement the current guidance, as well as the expanded alliance requirements for producing safe sprouts.

To that end, SASS has created a technical committee made up of leading food safety experts who will be further developing and continuously updating the set of alliance standards.

There is a commitment among some sprout companies to meet and even exceed the FDA guidance in order to produce safe sprouts.

Through the alliance, we want to help educate foodservice and retail customers, as well as the end consumer, that a choice exists.

’Nothing can be done to ensure seeds are safe’ sprouted seeds pose an unacceptable risk to health

As officials in Brussels meet Jan. 26, 2012, to discuss the introduction of new control measures to prevent a repeat of last year’s E. coli O104 outbreak in Germany and France, food safety experts have questioned the effectiveness of the measures proposed.

At a meeting last week of the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF), which advises the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA), Dr Norman Simmons, a former ACMSF member said after the meeting: “There is no doubt about it, sprouted seeds are a risk … nothing can be done to ensure the seeds are safe. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next outbreak is even bigger.”

Among the control measures up for discussion are:

• sourcing seeds only from approved establishments;
• ensure only potable (drinking quality) water is used for irrigation and cleaning; • one-up-one down traceability of seeds;
• the use of microbiological testing for common bacteria before products can be released to market; and,
• rules governing the frequency of sampling.

ACMSF member Roy Betts, head of microbiology at Campden BRI , expressed concern about the use of microbiological analysis as a control measure. “I get nervous when we go to microbiological criteria in any detail: it’s not a control measure,” he said, since it is not good at picking up low levels of contamination.

What’s missing in all this is the lack of clear warnings to consumers, and any kind of verification. Guidelines and rules are nice but what if no one pays attention?

Listeria in cantaloupe; 146 sick including 30 dead 1 miscarriage; will talk of change translate into action with meaningful verification?

For those counting – which seems like a bizarrely gruesome fetish – the final tally for the listeria-in-cantaloupe outbreak of 2011 is 146 persons sick from 28 states, including 30 dead and one miscarriage.

Far more important is – will the cantaloupe industry in Colorado and elsewhere become overtly proactive, seeking the best research on the causes, prevention, and how to translate guidelines into actual actions in the field – where contamination starts.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control today issued its final report on the Multistate Outbreak of Listeriosis Linked to Whole Cantaloupes from Jensen Farms, Colorado—United States, 2011.

(Sidenote: In the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to Romaine lettuce served at Schnucks, CDC spokeswoman Lola Russell told The Packer yesterday the agency leaves announcements regarding names of growers and distributors to the regulatory agencies – state health departments and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But it had no problem fingering Jensen Farms? Maybe because the Food and Drug Administration named Jensen Farms on Sept. 14 it was open season after that. Maybe CDC was trying to protect other cantaloupe growers. Maybe they’d like to protect other Romaine lettuce growers? Is there a written policy on when to finger a farm? Consistency in communications helps build trust.)

From the CDC cantaloupe report:

A total of 146 persons infected with any of the four outbreak-associated strains of Listeria monocytogenes were reported to CDC from 28 states.

Among persons for whom information was available, reported illness onset ranged from July 31, 2011 through October 27, 2011. Ages ranged from <1 to 96 years, with a median age of 77 years. Most ill persons were over 60 years old. Fifty-eight percent of ill persons were female. Among the 144 ill persons with available information on whether they were hospitalized, 142 (99%) were hospitalized.

Thirty deaths were reported: Colorado (8), Indiana (1), Kansas (3), Louisiana (2), Maryland (1), Missouri (3), Nebraska (1), New Mexico (5), New York (2), Oklahoma (1), Texas (2), and Wyoming (1). Among persons who died, ages ranged from 48 to 96 years, with a median age of 82.5 years. In addition, one woman pregnant at the time of illness had a miscarriage.

Seven of the illnesses were related to a pregnancy; three were diagnosed in newborns and four were diagnosed in pregnant women. One miscarriage was reported.

Five years after E. coli outbreak, Salinas Valley farmers struggle to rebound

 Woe is the California lettuce and spinach grower.

"It was just more regulations. More inspections. More paperwork. More filings. More fees," said Chris Bunn, part of a four-generation Salinas Valley farming family. Now in his 60s, he quit two years after the 2006 outbreak. "I miss it terribly," Bunn said. "It was a wonderful business."

Deborah Schoch, a senior writer at the California HealthCare Foundation Center for Health Reporting, writes in the Mercury News today that five years after their healthy-looking green fields became the epicenter of a national food disaster, farmers in the Salinas Valley are still working to regain something even the most bountiful harvest can’t ensure: the public’s trust.

They are doing their best to rebound after investigators linked spinach grown and bagged here to a deadly E. coli strain that would kill three people, sicken 206 more and shake the nation’s faith in California leafy greens. So far, they have succeeded in avoiding another major outbreak.

Last year, Monterey County produced spinach worth $127.5 million, down from $188.2 million in 2005, according to reports from the county agricultural commissioner’s office.

Salinas Valley growers and processors have retooled nearly every step in their industry — from planting seedlings to harvesting and washing greens. They have rallied to create a state-industry pact on how to protect 14 types of leafy greens that is being held up as a national model.

"It was the watershed moment for the produce industry," said Joe Pezzini, chief operating officer of Ocean Mist Farms in Castroville.

Too bad it didn’t happen 10 years earlier.

In October, 1996, a 16-month-old Denver girl drank Smoothie juice manufactured by Odwalla Inc. of Half Moon Bay, California. She died several weeks later; 64 others became ill in several western U.S. states and British Columbia after drinking the same juices, which contained unpasteurized apple cider — and E. coli O157:H7. Investigators believed that some of the apples used to make the cider might have been insufficiently washed after falling to the ground and coming into contact with deer feces.

Almost 10 years later, on Sept. 14, 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that an outbreak of E. coli O157: H7 had killed a 77-year-old woman and sickened 49 others (United States Food and Drug Administration, 2006). The FDA learned from the Centers for Disease Control and Wisconsin health officials that the outbreak may have been linked to the consumption of produce and identified bagged fresh spinach as a possible cause.

In the decade between these two watershed outbreaks, almost 500 outbreaks of foodborne illness involving fresh produce were documented, publicized and led to some changes within the industry, yet what author Malcolm Gladwell would call a tipping point — "a point at which a slow gradual change becomes irreversible and then proceeds with gathering pace"( — in public awareness about produce-associated risks did not happen until the spinach E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in the fall of 2006. At what point did sufficient evidence exist to compel the fresh produce industry to embrace the kind of change the sector has heralded since 2007? And at what point will future evidence be deemed sufficient to initiate change within an industry?

In 1996, following extensive public and political discussions about microbial food safety in meat, the focus shifted to fresh fruits and vegetables, following an outbreak of Cyclospora cayetanesis ultimately linked to Guatemalan raspberries that sickened 1,465 in 21 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1997), and subsequently Odwalla. That same year, Beuchat (1996) published a review on pathogenic microorganisms in fresh fruits and vegetables and identified numerous pathways of contamination.

By 1997, researchers at CDC were stating that pathogens could contaminate at any point along the fresh produce food chain — at the farm, processing plant, transportation vehicle, retail store or foodservice operation and the home — and that by understanding where potential problems existed, it was possible to develop strategies to reduce risks of contamination. Researchers also reported that the use of pathogen-free water for washing would minimize risk of contamination.

Yet it would take a decade and some 29 leafy green-related outbreaks before spinach in 2006 became a tipping point.

What was absent in this decade of outbreaks, letters from regulators, plans from industry associations and media accounts, was verification that farmers and others in the farm-to-fork food safety system were seriously internalizing the messages about risk, the numbers of sick people, and translating such information into front-line food safety behavioral change.

Today, according to  Schochmajor food and retail chains, from McDonald’s to Walmart, want proof that their lettuce is as clean as any natural product can be.

That means no cattle grazing uphill from a spinach farm, no roaming wild pigs, no farm crews without hairnets or gloves, no missing reports.

Some food chains even send inspectors unannounced.

"They’ll be the Toyota Camry with the Hertz sticker on the edge of the field, looking with binoculars," said Mike Dobler, 50, a third-generation grower who works with his family on a large-scale vegetable farm based in Watsonville.

"They’re looking to see if you’re doing what you say you’re doing," Dobler said.

Before September 2006, he said, "we were taken at our word, and nobody asked."

Actually, lots of people asked, including FDA, state public health types, journalists, lawyers and academics. Growers apparently just didn’t pay attention.

A table of leafy green related outbreaks is available at (they didn’t all originate with California produce, but lots did).

Claiming organic when it’s not (in Canada) and getting caught is ‘like getting caught for driving so fast you lose your licence, but aren’t fined’

Auditors, certifiers, validators, grease monkeys, soil farmers, they’re all supposed to make things better.

But claims are nothing more than claims in the absence of data.

And anyone who has to say, “trust me,” is immediately untrustworthy.

So when Laura Telford, executive director of the Canadian Organic Growers, told Canadian news types a couple of weeks ago, “I’m not certain the world needs to know the exact reason why this company lost its certification. I personally feel that its enough to know that CFIA is doing its job … and when a company is not following the rules, there will be consequences,” howls of cynical guffawing ensued among those familiar with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

A few weeks ago, Lynne Moore reported in the Montreal Gazette that on June 30, 2009, the Organic Products Regulations came into effect under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The regulations provided for a transition period, a two-year span that would allow everyone to align their operations to the new reality and take care of practical matters such as using up existing packaging.

In a July 27, 2011, notice, the Canada Organic Office said Jirah Milling and Sales Inc., of Ormstown, Que., was no longer authorized to market organic products or use the Canada Organic logo (the logo that would now be recognized by the U.S. and the EU).

The notice of suspension of organic certification was sent to industry and certification bodies, but the document was not publicly disseminated by the federal body on a website or via a media release.

The Montreal Gazette found the government’s suspension notice about one of Eastern Canada’s most significant international organic dealers on the "newsroom" page of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website. It wasn’t deemed newsworthy in Canada, but it was in the U.S.

Michel Saumur, the office’s national manager and program spokesman, would not provide information about the scope of Jirah’s corporate activities, wouldn’t discuss complaints received about the company, wouldn’t say why its certification was suspended – and subsequently cancelled – and would not even disclose which certifying body had accredited Jirah.

Email inquiries to CFIA’s media office finally generated a response on Friday afternoon. The Organic Products Regulations "do not have provisions for fines and additional penalties at this time."

So it’s something like getting caught for driving so fast you lose your licence, but aren’t fined.