March 29, 2015

Preventing E. coli Outbreaks One Goal of NYC Restaurant Inspections

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Can restaurant grading systems like the one in New York keep people out of the hospital? Reducing food poisoning from E. coli, other bacteria and unsanitary conditions is one of the goals of the these systems. With letter grading systems, restaurants have more of an incentive to use good food safety measures. New York's program requires restaurants to post the letter grade of their health inspection in their front window. The city began using the letter grading system in July 2010. Poor hygiene, improper food handling and storage and temperature abuse are the most common causes of bacterial and viral foodborne illnesses. Outbreaks are often linked to cross-contamination in kitchens, sick employees, employees who don't wash hands before touching food, pest infestations, unsanitary … [Read more...]

Missouri Bill Would End Regulation of Farm Sales

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A bill that may be introduced to the Missouri legislature would end regulation on farm-produced products sold directly to the consumer. House Bill 866 is sponsored by State Representative Mike Moon (R-Ash Grove). Moon has not been able to get the bill scheduled on the calendar. The bill states that the farmer "must retain the right to choose" whether the products will be regulated by the state or local agencies. If the foods sold are not inspected or regulated, a sign must be posted warning consumers that the items are not regulated. The consumer then "retains the responsibility" that the products are wholesome. Food poisoning outbreaks linked to farm-sold goods have been numerous in the past few years. For instance, the Campylobacter outbreak linked to Family Cow raw milk in … [Read more...]

Reusable Plastic Containers Still Harbor Bacteria After Cleaning

food transportation

A new study conducted at the University of Markansas at Fayetteville has found that Salmonella and other foodborne pathogens attach to reusable plastic containers used in industry and remain even after cleaning. Those pesky biofilms are, again, the culprit. Scientists looked at the materials used to make these food containers that are used to transport fruits and vegetables to grocery stores. In the study, researchers let Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, and E. coli O157:H7 bacteria to grow on the reusable plastic container (RPC) surface and then cleaned and sanitized the containers according to industry standards. In all cases, the material still had biofilms that protected the bacteria even after cleaning. Biofilm is a kind of slime made of protein that surround the bacteria, … [Read more...]

Peanut Allergy? Avoid Cumin For Now, FDA Advises

Spice Mill Cumin Peanut Recall

Shipments of cumin contaminated with undeclared peanut have triggered so many product recalls, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising people with peanut allergies or severe sensitivities to avoid the spice for the time being as they are at risk of a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction. For those affected by the advisory, products to avoid include ground cumin sold as a spice, or in spice mixes, dinner kits-particularly for Indian of Tex Mex foods; marinades for meat and poultry and finished food products such as soups and chilies. Products made before 2014 are unlikely to contain the affected ground cumin. The FDA advises consumers peanut allergies to review product labels and be aware that affected products may list “spices”  rather than "cumin" in their … [Read more...]

Listeria in Sprouts Prompts Two Recalls

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Listeria in bean sprouts has prompted two recalls so far this year,  one from Go Hang  brand sprouts, the other from Jack and the Beanstalk brand. Consumers who have purchased either of these brands should not eat them as Listeria can cause serious illness. At the time of the recall, no illnesses had been reported, but Listeria infections can take up to 70 days to appear. Recalled Jack and the Beanstalk soybean sprouts  were distributed to Bay Area stores and restaurants in  1 pound bags with the bar code 7-27580-12366-9;  1.5 pound bags with the bar code 7-27580-12365-2, and 10 pound bags with the bar code 7-27580-12351-5. NATTO soybean sprouts with the bar code 7-27580-12367-6  are also part of this recall. The recalled items are Go-Hang Soybean sprouts were distributed inK O-MART … [Read more...]

USDA Approves GMO Apple Despite Health Concerns

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The USDA decided to approve a genetically modified (GMO) apple that doesn't brown after bruising or slicing. This apple, called the Arctic apple, was developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits. The apple, called the "botox apple", is produced by using a new form of genetic engineering called RNA interference or gene silencing. Consumer advocates and food safety groups are concerned about this apple and the new method of producing it. Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for Center for Food Safety said in a statement, "This produce is completely unnecessary and poses numerous risks to apple growers, the food industry, and consumers. For USDA to turn a blind eye to these risks for such an inessential technological 'advance' is foolish and potentially costly." These apple trees could easily … [Read more...]

Canada Confirms New Case of Mad Cow

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The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed its first case of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a beef cow since 2011 and the fourteenth case since 2005. The government says that no part of the animal's carcass entered the human or animal food systems. These cases, in addition to the consumers' right to know, are one reason consumer's advocates want to see country of origin labels (COOL) on imported meats. The beef cow was from Alberta, Canada. BSE is a progressive, fatal disease with no cure. It is caused by proteins called prions that are not destroyed by cooking. The prions are also very resistant to UV radiation, disinfectants, and ionizing radiation, but can be destroyed by a combination of those treatments and time. The disease has a … [Read more...]

Employee at Passaic Schools in New Jersey Has Hepatitis A

School Cafeteria

A high school cafeteria employee in the Passaic, New Jersey schools has been diagnosed with hepatitis A, according to a letter sent to parents by the Passaic New Jersey Superintendent of Schools. Anyone who bought food from the Passaic High School teacher's cafeteria between January 15 and January 30, 2015 may have been exposed to the virus. The High School has been thoroughly cleaned to disinfect the building. Hepatitis A is a virus that causes injury to the liver. The virus is shed in the feces of the infected person. When a person with the virus doesn't wash their hands after using the bathroom, the feces and virus can get into food or drink they have prepared. When someone else eats or drinks those products, they can get sick; this is called the "fecal-oral" transmission. Direct … [Read more...]

Listeria Survives Standard Cleaning Procedure for Retail Delis

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Listeria can survive the standard cleaning procedure used by retail delis, a new study by Purdue researchers has found. Listeria monocytogenes, an uncommon and deadly bacteria, is often associated with ready-to-eat deli meats, hot dogs, refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads, prepackaged deli salads,  soft cheeses, smoked fish, raw cheeses and sprouts. In 2014, three deadly multistate outbreaks were linked to these foods. Bean sprouts produced by Wholesome Soy of Chicago, killed two people and sickened three others in an outbreak announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in November. Listeria in soft cheese was the source of a three-state October outbreak linked to Oasis cheeses that killed one person and sickened two others;  and a March, outbreak, linked to Roos … [Read more...]

NPA Questions Tests on NY’s Herbal Supplements Probe

Dietary-Supplements

The CEO of the Natural Products Association (NPA) is questioning the testing methods used in the New York Attorney General's probe of herbal supplements. Show us the data, he says. Last week, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman sent cease and desist letters to GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens after tests on their store brand herbal supplements tests showed most did not contain the contain plant species identified on the label. And some contained contaminants not identified on product labels. Because supplements do not have to undergo a premarket evaluation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before they are sold,  manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that their products are safe and accurately labeled. Undeclared ingredients can interfere with … [Read more...]

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