March 27, 2017

USDA Institutes 100% Testing of Brazilian Beef Imports

The USDA announced this week that they have instituted additional pathogen testing of all shipments of raw beef and ready-to-eat products from Brazil after a scandal erupted in that country. It is alleged that beef company officials paid bribes to Brazilian government inspectors to ignore adulterated meat that was put into commerce. Company officials are accused of influencing the government to assign these inspectors to their plants. Health certificates were also allegedly falsified. Brazil is one of the countries that has inspection equivalency from the USDA, which means the U.S. considers their beef inspection programs equivalent to ours. The press release states that "none of the slaughter or processing facilities implicated in the Brazilian scandal have shipped meat products … [Read more...]

Food & Water Watch Demands Revocation of Brazil Beef Equivalency

Food & Water Watch has written a letter to Acting Agriculture Secretary Michael Young, urging him to revoke the meat inspection equivalency determination for beef exported from Brazil. There have been recent revelations of massive corruption in the Brazilian meat inspection system, and chronic problems with past equivalency audits. Equivalency determination means that the USDA considers the meat inspection system in another country to have the same standards as the U.S. system. China and the EU have already suspended imports of Brazilian beef. Among the meatpackers involved in the scandal are BRF and JBS. JBS operates Brazilian plants that are certified to export meat and meat products to the United States. Until recently, Brazil was restricted to exporting only processed … [Read more...]

Steam Makes Melons Safer

After the huge and deadly Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to Jensen Farms cantaloupes in 2011, scientists and researchers have been trying to find ways to make this product safer. The heavily webbed surface of melons is perfect for bacteria to hide and thrive. In that outbreak linked to melons, 147 people in 28 states were sickened, including seven pregnant women. One woman suffered a miscarriage, and three infants were born with listeriosis. In total, 33 deaths from outbreak-associated listeriosis in this outbreak were reported to the CDC.  The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment isolated Listeria monocytogenes bacteria from cantaloupe samples collected from grocery stores and from ill persons' homes. And the FDA isolated Listeria monocytogenes outbreak … [Read more...]

USDA Offers Advice for Those Affected by Winter Storm

Winter storm Stella is hitting the northeastern United States. The USDA has food safety tips to keep in mind when you are preparing for a severe weather emergency. Many people think that storing food outside when it's cold is safe, but it isn't. Outdoor temperatures can vary, and food can be exposed to unsanitary conditions and animals. Instead, make ice by filling buckets and cans with water. Leave them outside to freeze, then use this ice to keep food cold in coolers or your refrigerator or freezer. If the power goes out, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible A refrigerator will keep food cold at safe temperatures (below 40°F) for four hours. And a full freezer will keep temperature below 0°F for 48 hours; 24 hours if it is half-full. Put meat and … [Read more...]

Researchers Find One Mechanism for Antibiotic Resistance

A study conducted at Harvard and MIT and published in the journal eLife has discovered one way that bacteria become resistant to drugs. Individual mutations that increase pathogenic bacteria's resistance to multiple antibiotics has not been fully explored. About 23,000 Americans die every year from bacterial and fungal infections that are resistant to antibiotics. That number is expected to increase to 10,000,000 by the year 2050 if new, effective antibiotics are not developed. Scientist cultured the bacteria Mycobacterium smegmatis, a cousin of the bacteria that causes tuberculosis. The scientists grew the bacteria until they formed colonies, and then exposed the colonies to low doses of antibiotics that killed the bacteria slowly. Mutant colonies arose after that … [Read more...]

WHO Publishes List of Bacteria That Need New Antibiotics

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published its first ever list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health and which urgently need new types of antibiotics. These bacteria are resistant to some last-resort antibiotics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotic-resistant bacteria kill 23,000 Americans every year. And antibiotic resistant bacteria are present in every country on earth. The list highlights gram-negative bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics. These pathogens are constantly evolving to resist new drugs, and they can pass genetic material to other bacteria so they can become drug resistant too. Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO's Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and … [Read more...]

Using Twitter Can Increase Food Poisoning Reporting

A study at Washington University in St. Louis has found that using Twitter could improve foodborne illness reporting and other public health issues, such as hospital quality and the spread of infections. The study was published in the February 3, 2017 issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. Dr. Jenine Harris, associate professor at the Brown School at the University said, "increasing trust and interaction between government and the public through social media are promising strategies for food safety." The study is titled "Using Twitter to Identify and Respond to Food Poisoning: The Food Safety STL Project." "The dashboard technology has potential for improving foodborne illness reporting and can be implemented in other areas to improve response to public … [Read more...]

UK Experts Urge Shoppers to Wash Hands After Handling Chicken Packages

We all know that raw chicken can contain pathogenic bacteria such as Campylobacter and Salmonella. But experts were more concerned with the bacteria on the inside of the basic plastic supermarket wrapping. Now experts in the UK are warning shoppers to wash their hands after handling these packages, since the bacteria could also be on the outside. An investigation by the Daily Telegraph found that the plastic exterior of more than 1 in every 100 raw chickens sold in Britain may have a potentially infectious level of Campylobacter bacteria. That means that 9,000,000 packages of chicken are sold with a "dangerous dose of deadly bacteria on the outside." When a shopper picks up a package of chicken, then snacks on food while shopping, they could get sick. Campylobacter is the leading … [Read more...]

Cornell Develops Processor to Destroy Pathogens in Food

Cornell food scientists have developed a new high pressure food processor to destroy food pathogens. This is the nation's first commercial scale validation facility for a technology that kills bacteria and extends the shelf life of fresh, ready to eat foods. It can be used on juice, baby foods, meats, and salads. The device is a Hiperbaric 55 high-pressure food processor at Cornell's New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. It works by surrounding completed ready to eat foods in their packages with water. The machine applies isostatic pressure up to 87,000 pounds per square inch. According to Cornell, "that's more than six times the pressure at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest ocean trench on Earth." More and more consumers want fresh, packaged, ready to eat … [Read more...]

Secondary Cheese Recalls for Listeria Monocytogenes

There have been more than a dozen secondary recalls of cheeses and products made with cheese under different brand names for possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination in the past month. Those products were distributed by MDS Foods of Massillon, Ohio and were provided to them by Deutsch Kase Haus, LLC of Middlebury, Indiana. The recall notice states, "Deutsch Kase Haus, LLC of Middlebury, Indiana, supplied MDS Foods with Colby and Colby Jack minihorn cheeses that have been found to be contaminated with the pathogenic organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems." No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with the consumption of these products. We have gathered all … [Read more...]

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