June 24, 2019

FDA Releases Commodity Sampling Test Results on Raw Milk Cheese

The FDA released test results of commodity sampling last week. The products sampled were raw milk cheese aged 60 days, cucumbers, and hot peppers. This sampling program is part of an effort to help ensure food safety. This program was adopted in 2014 to learn more about the prevalence of disease-causing bacteria in foods and to help the agency identify patterns to help prevent future contamination. Raw milk cheese aged 60 days was one of the commodities selected for the first year of testing. Evidence indicates that aging this product for 60 days may not eliminate or adequately reduce disease causing bacteria, posing a hazard. People may still get sick with E. coli, Salmonella, or Listeria monocytogenes infections if they eat these cheeses. And they can suffer serious complications, … [Read more...]

Safety of Raw Manure Questioned Under FSMA Rule

The safety of raw manure under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) final rule on produce safety is being questioned by the FDA. Submissions on assessing the risk of raw manure as fertilizer are requested. Manure from cattle, chickens, horses, and other farm animals can be, and usually are, contaminated with E. coli and Salmonella bacteria. The FDA is going to conduct a risk assessment to find out how much consumer health is put at risk by the use of raw manure as fertilizer in growing crops covered FSMA's produce safety rule. The agency wants helps of stakeholders, the animal agriculture industry, academia, and members of the public. Produce is the most common food source linked with food poisoning outbreaks. Recent outbreaks just in the past few weeks linked to raw produce … [Read more...]

Jack and the Green Sprouts MN and WI E. coli Outbreak: Protect Yourself

The FDA has released information on how to select and serve produce safely, which is timely considering the two current outbreaks linked to raw sprouts. An E. coli O157:NM outbreak in Minnesota and Wisconsin has sickened at least 9 people, and a Salmonella Muenchen outbreak in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania has sickened at least 13. It's worth noting, however, that raw sprouts are an inherently risky product, and your selecting and handling this food may not have any effect at all on their safety. Sprouts can be contaminated from within, so no amount of cleaning on your part will ever make them safe. For other produce, you can follow safe handling tips to protect yourself and your family. And if you choose to eat raw sprouts, these tips may help reduce the risk of … [Read more...]

FDA Finalizes FSMA Rules on Produce Safety

The FDA finally finalized the rules on produce safety last week. Michael Taylor, the head of that agency said in a statement, "Its been a long and arduous task, to say the least. Finalizing the rules is just one part of building a modernized food safety system." The Food Safety Modernization Act was passed in 2011. The major rules in that Act have been slowly finalized by the FDA and the Office of Management and Budget. This latest new rule targets produce grows. They must ensure the safety of water in irrigation, since some outbreaks have been caused by produce contaminated by irrigation water that contains Salmonella or E. coli bacteria. They must make sure workers practice good hygiene in the field and while packing. A Cyclospora outbreak linked to imported cilantro lead to a ban … [Read more...]

Study Finds Kitchen Utensils Can Spread Bacteria Between Foods

Food safety advice for home cooks has always included certain rules. Always wash your hands before preparing foods and after handling raw meats, poultry, and eggs; keep perishable foods refrigerated, and wash all utensils well after using them. But a new study conducted at the University of Georgia has found that utensils should also be washed after each use and before they are used on another food. Scientists found that the bacteria will "latch on" to utensils such as knives and graters and then contaminate the next food prepared with that item. But most consumers are not aware that this problem exists, according to the study's lead author Marilyn Erickson, an associate professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' department of food science and technology. … [Read more...]

Harvesting 24 Hours After a Rain Enhances Food Safety

Research conducted at Cornell University has found that if produce farmers wait 24 hours to harvest their crops after a rain, the food they produce will be safer for people to eat. The USDA has proposed rules allowing farmers to apply "wait periods" after irrigation water, to let "potentially dangerous microbes die off". Any water applied to a field creates conditions more hospitable to the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Researchers tested fields in several locations in New York state. They found that after rains, the chances of finding Listeria dropped dramatically 24 hours after a rain, to levels similar to the baseline. Farmers would use weather data, GIS technology and data driven information to take a "systems approach" to managing food safety and their crops. Listeria … [Read more...]

Center for Food Safety: The Truth About Produce Wash

Center for Food Safety has written about produce wash, those treatments for washing fruits and vegetables that are promoted as a way to avoid food poisoning. Many foodborne illness outbreaks are linked to fresh product, and consumers want to keep their families safe. So do produce washes work? CFS states "it turns out the produce washes aren't any better than water. Multiple studies have found that produce washes such as Fit and Earth Friendly are no more effective in cleaning produce than regular tap water. In a study of three commercial washes, University of Maine researchers found that distilled water was equally if not more effective in removing microbes such as bacteria and mold." Scientists at the Univeristy of Maine tested Fit, Ozone Water Purifier XT-301, and J0-4 … [Read more...]

Handling Produce Safely: Ashley Eisenbeiser

Earlier this month, the Partnership for Food Safety Education held a webinar on handling produce safely. Since Salmonella-contaminated produce is in the top five pathogen-food combinations that cause food poisoning outbreaks, knowledge is critical. Ashley Eisenbeiser of the Food Marketing Institute spoke about the numbers. Produce is responsible for 46% of reported foodborne illness outbreaks from 1998 to 2008, and caused 23% of deaths in those outbreaks. Overall, leafy vegetables cause 8% of those illnesses. Of outbreaks attributed to produce, 30% are caused by cross-contamination, and 40% to poor personal hygiene; the rest are contaminated at the source. Sixty-eight percent of outbreaks attributed to produce are from food purchased from a restaurant or deli, 9% from private homes, 7% … [Read more...]

Handling Produce Safety: Dr. Linda Verrill

The Partnership for Food Safety Education held a webinar earlier this month all about handling produce and food safety. Dr. Linda Verrill of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), Ashely Eisenbeiser of Food Marketing Institute, and Ellie Krieger, author and nutritionist, were the speakers. Today we will tell you about Dr. Verrill's information and advice. Dr. Verrill spoke about studies and surveys conducted by CFSAN about produce handling and safety. She said that 14 pathogens represent over 95% of annual illnesses and hospitalizations in the U.S. And five of those pathogens are responsible for more than 90% of the health burden: Salmonella, Toxoplasma gondii, norovirus, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter. In fact, Salmonella and produce is in the top 5 … [Read more...]

Salmonella and Listeria Produce Field Contamination Risk Factors

Red and green bell peppers have been recalled in California for possible Salmonella contamination. That makes this study even more relevant. Applied and Environmental Microbiology has published research about identified risk factors associated with contamination of produce fields with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. The study found that management practices are crucial to development of effective Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs). Twenty one produce farms in New York state were visited over a five week period for this study. Soil, draw swab, and water samples were collected. In addition, field-management practices were recorded. They found Salmonella in 6.1% of fields, and Listeria in 18.5%. Most of the pathogen-positive water samples were from non-irrigation surface … [Read more...]

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