February 11, 2016

FDA Examining Raw Milk Cheese Criteria

Cheesemakers, especially artisan producers, have suggested that the FDA is applying safety criteria to raw milk cheese production that limits producers without benefitting public health. Raw milk cheeses have been linked to recalls and food poisoning outbreaks in the past several years. Raw milk cheese produced by Family Cow in Pennsylvania caused Campylobacter illnesses in 2013, and there have been dozens of recalls of raw milk cheeses over the years. Raw milk cheese has been recalled for Campylobacter, Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria monocytogenes contamination in all of the four years Food Poisoning Bulletin has been published. Some studies have concluded that aged raw milk cheeses are safe to eat, since the aging process changes the composition of the cheese. Aging reduces the … [Read more...]

DeLauro and Slaughter Criticize USDA Salmonella Standards

Congresswomen Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) have released a statement on the USDA's finalization of new federal standards to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in ground chicken and turkey products, as well as raw chicken breasts, legs, and wings. They are critical of the standards since they do not declare Salmonella as an adulterant. The statement from Congresswoman DeLauro reads, in part, "while the new federal standards announced by the USDA are progress in fighting foodborne illness, implementing these standards alone is not enough to keep American consumers safe. The USDA should immediately declare Salmonella as an adulterant as part of their work to protect consumers and reduce public health threats." Congresswoman Slaughter said in a statement, "the USDA … [Read more...]

What’s With Norovirus in Overland Park?

There are three norovirus outbreaks in Overland Park, Kansas that are being investigated by the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. At least 628 people have been sickened so far in these outbreaks. Norovirus is very common, especially in the winter months. The virus is very contagious and easily transmitted through contact with food and surfaces, and from person-to-person. When people stay indoors more often in the colder weather, it's very easy to pass the virus around and contract it. The first outbreak is among people who visited the New Theatre Restaurant in mid-January 2016. At least 600 people have been sickened in that outbreak. Most of those sickened were at the facility between January 15 and 19, … [Read more...]

FDA Updates Investigation of Roos Cheese Listeria Outbreak

The FDA has updated its investigation and criminal charges against Roos Foods Inc. in association with the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to the company's cheeses. On Friday, January 22, 2016, the Department of Justice filed criminal information in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, charging the company with "the distribution of adulterated cheese in interstate commerce." The company has signed a plea agreement in which it has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Roos and its principals, Ana A. Roos and Virginia Mejia, agreed to a proposed consent decree of permanent injunction. A multistate outbreak of listeriosis linked to Hispanic-style cheese products made and distributed by Roos Foods of Kenton, … [Read more...]

Food Safety for Super Bowl 50

The 50th Super Bowl will be played next Sunday, February 7, 2016, and the USDA is offering tips to help you serve a safe buffet or meal during your party. Food safety has changed in the last 50 years, along with the game. The most important change in food safety is that using a good, reliable food thermometer is the only way to make sure that meat, poultry, and egg products are cooked to safe temperatures. And research has shown that kitchen towels can be a source of cross-contamination, so either wash them frequently in the hot cycle of the washing machine, or use paper towels while you work in the kitchen (and don't reuse those!). The four basic tenets of food safety remain: Clean, Separate, Cook, & Chill. Always wash your hands well with warm water and soap for 20 seconds … [Read more...]

How Does Listeria Monocytogenes Get on Salads?

When you bring up the subject of food poisoning, most people think of meat or raw eggs. Green salads are usually the last foods we worry about in this regard. But produce is one of the leading carriers of pathogenic bacteria that make people sick. In fact, a report by Center for Science in the Public Interest last fall found that produce is the most common source of food poisoning outbreaks. The current Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to withdrawn Dole prepackaged salads is a case in point. We heard from many people who started eating salads as part of a program to get healthy. And they were upset and dismayed to discover that they may have been exposed to pathogenic bacteria simply because they ate a salad or two. So what's the problem? How do Listeria monocytogenes and other … [Read more...]

Keep Your Food Safe During the Storm

A huge winter storm is approaching the Northeast United States, and may cause flooding and power outages. The FDA is offering advice to prepare for this storm and keep your food safe. Before the storm, make sure you have appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer. The refrigerator should be set to 40°F or lower, and the freezer should be at 0°F or lower. The thermometers will help you determine if the food is safe if there is a power outage. Frozen items in a closed, well filled freezer can stay safe up to 48 hours. If the power is out for more than four hours, refrigerated food should be transferred to coolers with ice cubes or frozen gel packs. Purchase or make ice cubes in advance and freeze gel packs ahead of time. Store these items in the freezer. Make sure you … [Read more...]

FSIS Launches Pilot Project on Listeria Monocytogenes and Delis

Listeria monocytogenes can be found in most environments, but is a particular problem in delicatessens. Food Poisoning Bulletin has told you about many recalls of deli foods for contamination by this pathogenic bacteria. Listeria is often associated with ready-to-eat deli meats and soft cheeses that may be recut and packaged by store delis. And studies have shown that Listeria can easily survive the standard cleaning procedures used by most deli operators and employees. The bacteria can survive at refrigerator temperatures and can hide in nooks and tiny crevices. In fact, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems are told to avoid eating ready-to-eat foods purchased from delicatessens. The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) held a webinar on January 13, … [Read more...]

FoodSafety.gov Offers Hand Washing Advice

FoodSafety.gov is offering advice about hand washing, now that the holidays are over and cold and flu season is here. Proper hand washing is the most effective way to reduce infection and illness, especially foodborne illness. People often touch their ears, eyes, and noses without even realizing they are doing it. Your hands should be washed before eating food, before, during, and after preparing food, before and after treating a cut or wound, and before and after caring for someone who is sick. Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling uncooked eggs or raw meat, poultry, and seafood. The correct way to wash your hands is to use warm water, lots of soap, and lather for 20 seconds. Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between the fingers, and under the … [Read more...]

Indiana Farms Test Positive for Avian Influenza

Several farms in Indiana have tested positive for the presence of highly pathogenic H7N8 avian influenza (HPAI), which has resulted in a ban on U.S. poultry from several countries. South Korea and Japan announced this weekend that fresh poultry meat from the United States will not be allowed into those countries. Nine poultry farms in Indiana have tested positive for some form of the bird flu. The farms are all within the control, or quarantine, area that was established after the first farm was affected. Experts think the total number of birds sickened could be more than 100,000. This outbreak could delay the reopening of some export markets to U.S. poultry products. USDA labs are testing to see the strain of H7N8 confirmed at the nine Indiana farms. The Centers for Disease Control … [Read more...]

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