May 25, 2015

Study Follows Norovirus from Irrigation Water to Produce

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A University of Florida researcher is conducting a two-year study of how norovirus travels through irrigation water and onto produce. Dr. Melissa K. Jones, a research assistant professor with the University of Florida, Gainesville, will lead the team. Highly contagious norovirus is responsible for about 40 percent of all food poisoning outbreaks and the leading cause of diarrheal disease in the U.S. "We're kind of on the leading edge of it," said Jones, who will present her findings during the CPS Produce Research Symposium, June 23 - 24, in Atlanta.  "One of the things we're learning about norovirus is they have a really high presence in the environment.  And we've known for a long time that they are very, very stable and can survive for years in the water and the soil." The … [Read more...]

WTO Rules Against U.S. on COOL. Again.

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The World Trade Organization has ruled against the United States appeal on an October 2014 ruling delcaring country-of-origin labeling (COOL) in violation of international trade law. U.S. lawmakers want to repeal the legislation. The report issued May 18, 2015 is the fourth and final ruling on COOL. The legislation requires that all livestock from Mexico, Canada, and the United States is separated from birth and identified as to origin on the label. Canada and Mexico are against COOL, saying that it reduces the value of their exports. The ruling lets Canada and Mexico impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods this summer that could reach into the billions of dollars. Supporters of COOL want to work with Congress to make changes with the legislation to bring it into compliance. Most … [Read more...]

USDA Finally Finalizes Mechanically Tenderized Beef Label Rule

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The USDA has finally finalized labeling requirements for mechanically tenderized beef. That product is pierced with needles or small blades to tenderize, which introduces bacteria into the interior. When the beef is cooked less than well done, people who eat it can get sick. The rule will go into effect in May 2016, one year from the date of the rule's publication in the Federal Register. USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza said in a statement, "labeling mechanically tenderized beef products and including cooking instructions on the package are important steps in helping consumers to safely prepare these products. This common sense change will lead to safer meals and fewer foodborne illnesses." There have been six foodborne illness outbreaks linked to tenderized beef … [Read more...]

FDA Inspection Report of Blue Bell Brenham, Texas Plant

Blue Bell Listeria Lawsuit

The FDA has released three inspection reports of the Blue Bell ice cream facilities: one in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, one in Brenham, Texas, and the third in Sylacauga, Alabama. We thought it would be a good idea to cover each inspection report, since they highlight problems at the company that may have led to the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that has sickened ten people and killed three. The problem was first discovered at the plant in Texas. The inspections on the Brenham, Texas plant were conducted on March 16, 2015 through May 1, 2015, according to the FDA Form 483, which is published after inspections. The inspection discovered multiple problems discovered long before the recalls started . The Great Divide Bar manufactured on 1/12/15, and Chocolate Chip Country Cookie, … [Read more...]

Recalled Blue Bell Ice Cream for Sale on Craigslist

Kansas Listeria Lawyer for Blue Bell Case

According to KEYE-TV in San Antonio, Texas, people are trying to sell recalled Blue Bell ice cream on Craigslist. And that isn't the only case. A Dallas Craigslist ad offers Blue Bell Vanilla flavor, and another ad in Houston offers the recalled product. Blue Bell ice cream and all of its other products were recalled for Listeria monocytogenes last month. The ice cream is linked to a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that has killed three people and sickened at least ten. Some offers were made on eBay, but that company does have a policy against selling recalled items. All of those offers have been removed by the company. It is against the law to resell foods that have been recalled for issues such as bacterial contamination. There is one exception: meat. Raw meat that has been … [Read more...]

Botulism Case in North Carolina: Be Careful with Home Canning

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Home canning is becoming more popular, since more people are planting gardens, supporting locally grown produce, and the "clean food" movement gathers steam. But canning low-acid foods, such as potatoes, carrots, and meat, can be tricky. One mistake and one bite of an improperly canned food, and you could die. A woman in North Carolina contracted botulism earlier this year, according to a presentation at the Governor's Task Force on Food Safety and Defense at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center in Research Triangle Park. The North Carolina Health News broke the story. Botulism spores are produced by the Clostridium botulism bacteria. They can survive just about anything. They live in dirt, and can be on any plant harvested from any container, garden, or farm. The spores grow in … [Read more...]

Sprouts Listeria Recall is Latest Example of Inherent Risk

Bean Sprouts Closeup

A Listeria recall for Good Seed brand bean sprouts is the latest example of the inherent risk associated with bean sprouts. Public health officials say sprouts pose a unique food safety risk because the conditions required to grow them are also perfect for growing bacteria. The recalled Good Seed sprouts were sold in Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and North Carolina. Consumers who have purchased them should not eat them as Listeria can cause serious illness and death. Symptoms of an infection include high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. Since 1996, there have been more than 30 “sproutbreaks” where sprouts contaminated with Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli and other … [Read more...]

Industry Appealing Court Decision Affirming GMO Labeling

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Center for Food Safety says that the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is appealing the federal court decision made two weeks ago affirming the constitutionality of Vermont's GMO labeling law. Act 120 was signed into law in May of 2014. The state has declared that Act 120's GMO disclosure requirement is "reasonable related to the State's substantial interests, under Zauderer, Act 120s GE disclosure requirement is constitutional." The ruling also denied plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, granted the state of Vermont's Motion to Dismiss on several grounds, and ruled that plaintiffs were likely to prevail on Act 120's prohibition on labeling GE food as "natural". The law is scheduled to go into effect in July 2016. George Kimbrell, senior attorney at Center for Food … [Read more...]

Razor Clams Harvested in Washington State Must be Discarded

Recall

The Washington State Department of Health announced that razor clams harvested May 7, 2015 along ocean beaches must be thrown away because they may contain high levels of domoic acid, a biotoxin. All recreational and commercial razor clam digs scheduled for the weekend have been cancelled. All razor clams that were commercially harvested are being recalled and the department is asking that anyone who harvested the clams May 7, 2015 destroy them. Jerry Borchert, coordinator of the Department of Health's Marine Biotoxin Program said, "anyone who has eaten shellfish from this area and who experiences symptoms of Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) should see a physician." ASP is caused by domoic acid consumed in high levels. The symptoms of ASP include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal … [Read more...]

Salmonella Sticks Better to Older Lettuce Leaves

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A new study has found that older leaves of lettuce support higher levels of Salmonella bacteria. The study, published in FEMS Microbiology Letters (ahead of print) in Oxford Journals, reinforces the concept of purchasing bagged lettuce that is as far away from the expiration date as possible. Salmonella binds to leaves of salad crops and survives for "commercially relevant periods" according to the study. Scientists found that attachment levels were higher on older leaves than on younger ones. The differences were associated with leaf vein and stomatal densities, leaf surface hydrophobicity, and leaf surface soluble protein concentrations. Foodborne illnesses from leafy greens are on the rise in this country. During the time period 1996 to 2005, leafy green consumption increased 9%, … [Read more...]

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