August 17, 2019

Keep Your Backyard Barbecue Safe From Staphylococcus With Tips

The USDA is offering tips to help keep your backyard barbecue safe from Staphylococcus aureus bacteria this summer.  Cooking outdoors presents special challenges, including grilling food to a safe internal temperature, and higher ambient temperatures. The press release focuses on Staphylococcus aureus, which sickens about 240,000 Americans every year. About 1,000 of those patients need to be hospitalized, and about six people die every year. A USDA scientist developed a test that detects the pathogen in foods, which is faster, more sensitive, and less expensive than other standardized tests. Reuven Rasooly, a chemist with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) said in a statement, "The current test detects active toxin only 50 percent of the time compared to the test, … [Read more...]

Stericycle: Recalls Declined in First Quarter 2019; Shutdown to Blame?

According to Stericycle Expert Solutions, which releases a summary of recall trends every quarter, recalls of food, pharmaceutical, and consumer products declined "significantly" for the first time since 2012 in the first quarter of 2019. The press release states that "The declines were largely due to reduced oversight from the government shutdown earlier this year which stopped or limited many government safety inspections for food, pharmaceutical, automotive, medical device, and consumer products, the industries tracked in the Stericycle Recall Index. When the shutdown ended at the end of January, it took several more weeks for the regulatory agencies to ramp safety inspections back up to normal levels." The shutdown lasted for 5 weeks from December 2018 to January 2019. FDA … [Read more...]

USDA Guidance For Responding to Customer Complaints Issued

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a best practices guideline to help the meat and poultry industry respond to customer complaints about adulterated and misbranded products, in particular, reports of foreign materials in these products. This document is not regulatory. Since the beginning of 2019, there have been seven recalls of USDA-regulated food products for foreign material contamination. Those recalls have included ground beef chubs, breaded chicken products, chicken nuggets, frozen pork, and deli ham products. Corporations that have recalled these foods include Pilgrim's Pride, Johnsonville, Tyson Foods, and Bellisio. These recalls usually start because a consumer has found a material, such as glass, plastic, or … [Read more...]

GAO High Risk List Report Finds Food Plans Partially Met

The Government Accounting Office (GAO) has released its 2019 report on federal oversight of food safety, and the results are mixed. Food safety remains on the High Risk List, which is updated every two years. The safety of the U.S. food supply is covered by a system that includes 30 federal laws administered by 15 federal agencies. Federal oversight of food safety was added to the high risk list in 2007. The list is used to set agendas of agencies that are charged with oversight. The report states, "For more than four decades, we have reported on the fragmented federal food safety oversight system, which has caused inconsistent oversight, ineffective coordination, and inefficient use of resources. As of November 2018, two of the three recommendations to this high-risk area had … [Read more...]

Seven Recalls of Foods For Foreign Material Since January 2019

There have been seven recalls of meat food products for possible foreign material contamination since the beginning of January, 2019. This large number of recalls, which has affected more than 427,000 pounds of food. News reports are suggesting that the USDA, which regulates these foods, may make some changes to guidance for food processors. One reason could be that more automation in these meat processing plants has contributed to the contamination, since parts of the machines can break off and get into the food. These recalls are a reminder to consumers to pay attention to recall notices that are issued by the USDA and the FDA. These pieces of glass, rubber, wood, and plastic can pose a choking hazard and mouth injuries. The recalls since the start of the new year include: … [Read more...]

CSPI Wants USDA to Name Poultry Producers in Salmonella Outbreak

Center for Science in the Public Interest wants the USDA to name slaughterhouses and processing facilities who may be associated with the two recent Salmonella outbreaks tied to poultry. One of those outbreaks is ongoing. An ongoing Salmonella Reading outbreak linked to raw turkey products has sickened 279 people and hospitalized 107. One person living in California died in that outbreak. The last update on that outbreak was issued on February 15, 2019. And the Salmonella Infantis outbreak linked to raw chicken that sickened 129 people has just ended, according to the CDC. All the USDA will say is that these pathogens have been found in "many" processing establishments, and that "raw turkey products from a variety of sources are contaminated with Salmonella Reading." Several … [Read more...]

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro Urges End to Shutdown

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is urging the government to reopen areas that are shutdown, and end food safety risks to consumers. The shutdown is now on Day 28. Some employees at the FDA and USDA are furloughed, and others are working without pay. The FDA has brought back some workers, but they are not being paid. In her statement, she writes, "The President’s shutdown is putting our nation’s food supply at risk—a fundamental responsibility of the FDA and USDA. FDA inspectors are still working without pay, and they are only able to carry out one third of regular inspections. FDA also remains understaffed for food surveillance and food recall operations, and enforcement appears to be down. At the same time, the status of FDA’s work finalizing guidance and implementing rules … [Read more...]

IFSAC Estimates of Foodborne Illness Sources For 2016

The Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration (IFSAC), a tri-agency group that was created by the FDA, CDC, and USDA, has released an executive summary of the pathogens that cause foodborne illness and the foods they are linked to. Researchers looked at Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter outbreaks and illnesses for 2016. These pathogens were chosen because they cause 1.9 million illnesses each year combined, and cause severe illness. The IFSAC data was derived from 1255 foodborne illness outbreaks that occurred from 1998 to 2016 that were linked to a single food category. These estimates will help these agencies to intervene and to create policies for reducing outbreaks. Overall, E. coli O157 illnesses were most often linked to leafy greens and … [Read more...]

In the Path of Hurricane Lane? The USDA Is Offering Food Safety Tips

If you are in the path of Hurricane Lane, which is in the area of Hawaii, the USDA has food safety recommendations. The hurricane will pass to the south-soueast of the Big Island in the early morning hours of August 23, 2018, and will turn northwest toward the other Hawaiian Islands Thursday through Saturday. As with all hurricanes, excessive rainfall, major flash flooding, landslides, and mudslides may occur. Flooding can occur in areas that usually don't experience this disaster. Rainfall totals of more than 20 inches are possible. And power outages will most likely occur. Power outages can affect foods stored in refrigerators and freezers. Before the storm, make sure you have appliance refrigerators in your fridge and freezer to check on how safe the food is if the power goes … [Read more...]

Congresswoman Questions USDA Equivalency of China’s Poultry Processing Plants

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) recently wrote a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, questioning the USDA's process approving China's poultry processing plants. These plants are now able to export processed chicken to the United States.  She expresses concern about the way the USDA has approved those plants. Her letter states that she opposed the equivalency designation because "it irresponsibly granted equivalency to the entire country's poultry processing system despite FSIS having only audited a limited number of China's poultry processing plants." She also states that the recent release of internal emails shows that "FSIS is taking a stunningly passive approach in approving three new Chinese poultry processing as eligible to export to the United States." The … [Read more...]

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