May 2, 2016

Blue Bell May Have Figured Out Listeria Contamination Source

According to two letters sent to the FDA in mid-February, 2016, Blue Bell thinks they have identified where the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria were living in two of its plants last year. But the problem areas were redacted in the letters that the FDA published recently, to "protect trade secrets." The company found the pathogenic bacteria in equipment at its Brenham, Texas plant and thinks it spread in the drainage system of the plant in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The deadly Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to Blue Bell products prompted a massive recall of all of Blue Bell's products. All three plants were shut down for months last summer. The company started producing and selling ice cream again in August 2016 after an investor stepped up to help them out. Ten people in four … [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...]

FDA Warning Letter to Preferred Meal Systems of Illinois

The FDA sent a warning letter to Preferred Meal Systems in Illinois in February 2016, detailing violations of Current Good Manufacturing Practice in Manufacturing, Packing or Holding Human Food (CGMP) regulation. FDA inspectors collected environmeal samples that found Listeria monocytogenes in the facility. That facility makes ready-to-eat cold cut sandwiches and boxed lunches, for which there is zero tolerance for Listeria contamination. They also make non-RTE cooked frozen entrees and side dishes. The swabs that were positive for Listeria monocytogenes were taken in the Airline Production Room on the floor under the tomato sauce filler, in a square shaped hole, on the bottom of a shovel, in the floor drain, and on the floor near the roll up door to the dock area. In addition, they … [Read more...]

Recalled Imported Pork Highlights Problems with TPP

Food & Water Watch has sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, stating that the recent recall of 170,000 pounds of imported pork and nine other recent recalls highlights the fact that the Trans Atlantic Trade Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreements may be flawed and problematic for food safety concerns. Both of those agreements would expedite food imports into the United States from other countries. That recall this month was for pork from Denmark. The meat was not presented at the U.S. point of entry for inspection as the law requires. Food & Water Watch wrote to USDA about this problem last year, but states "the problem seems to be getting worse." USDA claims that the Public Health Information System (PHIS) and Customs and … [Read more...]

Senator Schumer Wants FDA to Crack Down on Unsanitary Warehouses

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on the FDA this week, asking for more inspections on food warehouses. Last year the FDA found "squalid" conditions in 90 warehouses that hold food that is shipped to consumers. In a press release, Schumer said, "at the end of 2014, the FDA quietly revealed hundreds of food safety violations at food processing facilities over the course of the year, and everyone from restaurant-goers to owners are appalled by some of the disgusting conditions at warehouses that supply our food. Reports of the filthy conditions at some of these warehouses sound like a page straight out of Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle'." Some of the issues in those warehouses were dead and alive rats and birds, and rodent feces next to the food. The FDA inspects "high risk" facilities … [Read more...]

Food Safety Violations Found at Kansas Prisons

Inspections conducted at prisons in Kansas by the Kansas Department of Corrections has found consistent food safety violations in the prison system's kitchens. Almost 340 inspections conducted between January, 2013 and July 2014 at 19 facilities found repeated deficiencies and noncompliance. It is considered cruel and unusual punishment to not take adequate care of prisoners, who are under complete government control. In addition, when outbreaks occur, taxpayer money is then spent giving medical care to prisoners and investigating the problem. Lawsuits against prisons have been filed and won by the families of prisoners who have been sickened in outbreaks at prisons and jails. The violations recorded in the inspections included not keeping proper temperature logs, not having inmate … [Read more...]

USDA Sends HIMP Poultry Rule to OMB

The USDA has submitted a draft final version of the HAACP Based Models Project (HIMP), the Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection Rule to the Office of Management and Budget today. That rule has been criticized from everyone from food safety advocates to workers unions. Food & Water Watch does not like this rule, which would reduce the number of USDA inspectors in poultry slaughter plants and replace them with company employees. Line speeds for poultry carcass inspections will be increased to 175 birds per minute, which critics claim is much too fast for any reasonable inspection. The industry will gain at least $260 million every year because of fewer regulations, increased production, and no guarantees of food safety. Only one USDA inspector will be on each slaughter … [Read more...]

Food & Water Watch Criticizes USDA Meat Inspection Plans

Tony Corbo of Food & Water Watch states that the USDA is "dismantling the meat inspection system as we know it." Information received through the Freedom of Information Act from USDA's FSIS had a spreadsheet with the number of temporary inspectors hired and where they are working. Last December, FSIS posted "As the Food Safety and Inspection Service looks to transition through modernization and implementation of the New Poultry Slaughter Inspection System, the Agency is announcing temporary Food Inspector positions to facilitate the transition and to help ensure seamless implementation should the Agency decide to proceed with implementation of the new system." That new system, commonly known as HIMP, has been heavily criticized by many consumer, food safety, and worker safety … [Read more...]

Canada Wants Option to Fine Meat Plants for Violations

The Canadian government wants to have the power to fine meat processing plant that violate food safety rules, according to CTVnews. Lisa Murphy, a CFIA spokeswoman, said that "these proposed new fines demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that Canada's stringent food safety requirements are being followed." Now, food inspectors can only issue written warnings, or can suspend a facility's license and shut it down, as is the case in the United States. This proposed measure may have been prompted by the huge recall of beef products from the now defunct XL Foods plant in 2012. Beef from that facility caused an E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak that sickened 18 people. The proposed fines range from $2,000 to $15,000. The meat packing industry is questioning why they are being singled out, and why … [Read more...]

Want to See How Fast 175 Birds Per Minute Is?

Many consumer and food safety advocates are angry about the proposed HAACP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) for poultry inspection. That model shifts responsibility for inspecting poultry from government to corporations. In addition to having employees inspect the birds, line speeds will be increased from 140 birds per minute to 175 birds per minute. It's easy to talk about how increasing line speeds will increase worker injuries and make it harder for anyone to see problems with carcasses. It's another thing to actually watch birds fly by at the rate of 175 per minute. To see how this line speed looks, take a gander at the simulation of a 175 bpm model provided by the Food Integrity Campaign. Scroll down to FIC, Poultry Workers Campaign against USDA Proposal. Do you really … [Read more...]

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