May 5, 2016

Tennessee Department of Health: Raw Milk Can Be Hazardous

As several states around the country try to pass legislation to make the sales of raw, or unpasteurized, milk legal, and the CDC announces a study about a serious Listeria monocytogenes outbreak at the Ropelato Dairy Farm in Utah in 2014 linked to raw milk, the Tennessee Department of Health is weighing in on the topic. They released a statement that "raw milk can be hazardous to your health." The opening paragraph states, "Milk, whether it comes from seemingly healthy cows, goats, or any other animal, can cause serious health problems, including death, if it has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria." Dr. John Dreyzehner, Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner, says that those who think raw milk has health benefits compared to pasteurized milk should understand the … [Read more...]

OSHA Fines Pilgrim’s Pride $122K for Ammonia Release

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined Pilgrim's Pride Corporation, the nation's largest chicken producer, for failur to use proper safety procedures that resulted in the release of 79 pounds of anhydrous ammonia. The release of the chemical on Sept. 28, 2015 endangered workers at the plant because it can burn skin and cause death if inhaled. "Anhydrous ammonia can have devastating and lethal effects," said Jack Rector, OSHA's area director in Fort Worth. "Had Pilgrim's had the right processes in place, this ammonia release may have been prevented. We will continue to monitor the company's progress as they make much-needed improvements to equipment, procedures and training to keep their workers safe." OSHA issued the citation after investigators inspected the … [Read more...]

Often Linked to Salmonella Illnesses, Turtles Are Not Good Pets

Turtles are frequently linked to Salmonella illnesses and should not be purchased as pets, health officials warn. Two Salmonella outbreaks linked to tiny pet turtles have sickened at least 51 people in 16 states, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Small turtles have long been associated with Salmonella infections, especially in children. For this reason, the sale of turtles with shells of less than four inches in length has been banned since 1974. Many of the case patients in these outbreaks reported buying the small turtles from street vendors. Unfortunately, children are disproportionately affected by Salmonella outbreaks linked to turtles. About half of the illnesses in these outbreaks affected children 5 and under. Epidemiologic … [Read more...]

FSMA Final Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Food Released

The FDA has released the final Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food. The earliest compliance dates for some firms begin one year after publication of the rule in the Federal Register. Problems in transportation, including mishandling and dirty containers, have been the cause of some food poisoning outbreaks over the years. The goal of this rule is to "prevent practices during transportation that create food safety risks, such as failure to properly refrigerate food, inadequate cleaning of vehicles between loads, and failure to properly protect food." The rule builds on safeguards envisioned in the 2005 Sanitary Food Transportation Act. Unsanitary transportation practices have been discovered over the years, and regulations are … [Read more...]

FDA Proposes Limit for Inorganic Arsenic in Infant Cereal

The FDA has proposed a limit for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal. Arsenic is a naturally occurring element that exists in both organic and inorganic forms. Inorganic arsenic is more toxic to the human body. Consumption of inorganic arsenic is associated with cancer, skin lesions, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Poor pregnancy outcomes and neurodevelopment toxicity are also concerns. In July 2013, the FDA released a draft quantitative assessment of lifetime risk of certain cancers associated with exposure to inorganic arsenic in apple juice. Guidance for industry keeps the level of inorganic arsenic in that product to 10 parts per billion. Rice products are a focus for the FDA because the plant takes up arsenic in the soil as it grows. Relative to body weight, rice … [Read more...]

CDC Study on Retail Deli Slicer Cleaning Frequency

The CDC, in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for the week of April 1, 2016 has published a study on how often retail deli slicers are cleaned. Deli foods are notorious for being contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Listeria infections are the third highest number of foodborne illness deaths in the country, after Salmonella and Toxoplasma gondii. Deli meats are a major source of listeriosis illnesses. And once Listeria bacteria are present in a facility, it can be very difficult to eradicate them. Mechanical slicers pose cross-contamination risks in delicatessens. Reducing Listeria contamination of these products in delis will likely reduce Listeria illnesses and outbreaks. Good slicer cleaning practices can reduce this risk. CDC's Environmental Health … [Read more...]

CDC Lab Worker Acquired Salmonella Infection at Work

A laboratory worker at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acquired a Salmonella infection at work. Scientists and researchers at BSL-2 laboratories, where this incident occurred, work with "common and treatable causes of illness." Preliminary tests indicate that the worker was infected with a strain of Salmonella which matched the strain being worked on at the lab. [Editor's humorous side note: I am not saying that this is how this infection occurred, but this incident reminds me of television shows that show characters eating and drinking in laboratories. One of the first things my microbiology professor at college told us is that you never drink or eat in a lab. Ever.] The workers is now recovered and back at work at the CDC. No other staff were exposed, based on … [Read more...]

Food Safety Tips for Your March Madness Party from the FDA

Hosting a March Madness party? The U.S. Food and drug Administration (FDA) has these food safety tips to keep your gathering free of food poisoning. Buffets are a great way to serve food when gathering to watch "the big game." To keep the food your are serving buffet style free from dangerous bacteria, remember three key things: size, time and temperature. Size refers to the size of the platters or portions you put on the buffet table. Don't put all your food out at once. Instead, divide what you have prepared onto a number of small platters and dishes ahead of time, and replace them with fresh ones throughout the party. Don't add new food to an existing serving dish. Bacteria from people's hands can contaminate the food and the dish. Next, time. Bacteria multiply rapidly at room … [Read more...]

Imported Foods Most Often Rejected: Seafood, Veggies, and Fruit

The USDA has released a report detailing the foods the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) most often rejects at our nation's ports for problems. They are seafood/fish products, vegetables/vegetable products, and fruit/fruit products. The countries that have the most shipments refused are Mexico, India, and China. Data for this report was analyzed over the years 2005 to 2013 and was compared to data from the years 1998 to 2004. In addition, refusals of spices, flavors, and salts doubled between 1998 to 2004 and 2005 to 2013. The FDA only inspects about 1% of the 60,000,000 tons of food imported into this country every year. Inspectors target certain facilities and firms and certain types of products that have a higher risk for pathogenic bacterial contamination or other type of … [Read more...]

Hams Withdrawn From the Market for Appearance

Meatingplace is reporting that Smithfield Foods and Kroger are withdrawing 500,000 pounds of whole and half semi-boneless Cumberland Gap hams because they did not meet appearance standards. This is not a food safety issue. The hams do not have the pink color most consumers expect from a cooked and salted ham. The withdrawal is in these divisions: Cincinnati, Columbus, Michigan, Central, Louisville, Delta, Nashville, Mid-Atlantic, Jay C, and Dillons. The corporation does not know when the ham products will appear again in stores. Kroger has initiated its customer recall notification system. Meatingplace has written about this issue before. Consumer complaints about the color of hams have been sent to Oscar Mayer since 2011. The color may vary dramatically within one ham, or the meat … [Read more...]

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