Wholesale & Retail Food Alliance
Food safety methods helping to prevent foodborne illness
For the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), please check out CDC Advice and FDA Consumer Updates.
"Take the Online Expressway to Food Safety"
Food Quality Magazine's February/March 2008 issue brings up pertinent questions about how safe our food really is—and what Wholesale & Retail Food Alliance's Steven R. Davis and others are doing about offering more accessible ways, such as online training, to learn about proper food handling.
As author Carol Berczuk says, "But the daily hands-on safety of our retail food supply ultimately depends upon those who handle and prepare it. Teaching those millions of food handlers how to prepare food safely requires more than a set of government standards. It also calls for a way to teach those standards to a diverse and ever-changing retail food industry workforce."
For more about what WARFA and others had to say, see the food safety article online or view it in an easier-to-read font size in PDF format.
"FDA/USDA investigate tainted animal feed"
Consumer update posted April 30, 2007 (updated May 1, 2007). "The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and FDA continue their investigation of imported rice protein concentrate which has been found to contain melamine and melamine-related compounds. Melamine is an industrial chemical that has no approved use in human or animal food in the United States.
"The rice protein concentrate was imported from China by San Francisco-based Wilbur-Ellis, an importer and distributor of agricultural products. Although the company began importing product from China in August 2006, the company did not become aware of the contamination until April 2007* [emphasis: editor]. FDA determined that the rice protein was used in the production of pet food, and a portion of the pet food was used to produce animal feed."
*The USDA reports: (The) FDA determined that a shipment of rice protein imported from China was contaminated with melamine and melamine-related compounds. The product was imported during the week of April 2, 2007 by Wilbur-Ellis, an importer and distributor of agricultural products. The rice protein was used in the production of pet food and a byproduct was used to produce animal feed. Release No. 0117.07 Joint News Release: FDA and USDA Determine Swine Fed Adulterated Product.
You may see questions and answers addressing areas of concern for both humans and animals by going to this FDA news release. See also: U.S. Senator Durbin calls for an oversight hearing on the ongoing investigation and the regulatory mechanisms that govern the pet food industry.
"Joint Update: FDA/USDA trace adultered animal feed to poultry"
WASHINGTON, April 30, 2007 – "The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have learned that byproducts from pet food manufactured with contaminated wheat gluten imported from China have been used in chicken feed on some farms in the state of Indiana. This information came to light as part of the continuing investigation into imported rice protein concentrate and wheat gluten that have been found to contain melamine and melamine-related compounds.
"At this time, the investigation indicates that approximately 30 broiler poultry farms and eight breeder poultry farms in Indiana received contaminated feed in early February and fed it to poultry within days of receiving it. All of the broilers believed to have been fed contaminated product have since been processed. The breeders that were fed the contaminated product are under voluntary hold by the flock owners.
"FDA and USDA anticipate that as the investigation continues additional farms will likely be identified that received contaminated feed. As indicated in previous updates, FDA and USDA have also traced contaminated feed to swine farms in several states. The same procedures are being followed in relation to both swine and poultry; animals are being quarantined by state order or voluntarily held by the owners and USDA is offering compensation for depopulation and disposal of both swine and poultry that have been fed contaminated products."
For the entire story, see the FDA news release.
"Joint Release: FDA and USDA determine swine fed adulterated product / USDA to compensate for depopulation"
WASHINGTON, April 26, 2007 – "The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today notified State authorities that swine fed adulterated product will not be approved to enter the food supply. Based on information currently available, FDA and USDA believe the likelihood of illness after eating pork from swine fed the adulterated product would be very low; however, the agencies believe it is prudent to take this measure.
"The contaminants in question include melamine and melamine-related compounds, including cyanuric acid, the combination of which is a potential source of concern in relation to human and animal health. Scientific research indicates that melamine alone, at detected levels, is not a human health concern. However, no scientific data exist to ascertain the effects of combining melamine and melamine-related compounds. Therefore, a determination has not yet been made regarding the safety of the product.
"Because the animal feed in question was adulterated, USDA cannot rule out the possibility that food produced from animals fed this product could also be adulterated. Therefore, USDA cannot place the mark of inspection on food produced from these animals.
"FDA and FSIS are coordinating with State authorities in eight states where the adulterated feed is known to have been purchased. Eight pork producers in the states of California, Kansas, North Carolina, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah are known to have purchased the feed. These combined operations involve approximately 6,000 hogs. All of the animals are currently being held under state quarantines in CA, NC, NY and SC. In KS, OK and UT producers agreed to hold the animals until further notice. Authorities are also in contact with a feed mill in Missouri that might have received adulterated feed. Pork and pork products derived from animals that were fed the adulterated product will also be destroyed."
For the entire story, see the USDA news release.
"FDA Issues Final Guidance For Safe Production of Fresh-Cut Fruits and Vegetables
" In new, voluntary rules, announced Monday by the Food and Drug Administration, farms that are fruit and vegetable processors are urged to adopt food safety plans similar to those in the meat industry to help prevent foodborne illness outbreaks.
"FDA, March 12, 2007 - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today published a draft final guidance advising processors of fresh-cut produce how to minimize microbial food safety hazards common to the processing of most fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, which are often sold to consumers in a ready-to-eat form. The document suggests that fresh-cut processors consider a state-of-the-art food safety program such as the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system, which is designed to prevent, eliminate, or reduce to acceptable levels the microbial, chemical, and physical hazards associated with food production.
" 'Americans are eating more fresh-cut produce, which we encourage as part of a healthy diet. But fresh cut-produce is one area in which we see foodborne illness occur. Offering clearer guidance to industry should aid in the reduction of health hazards that may be introduced or increased during the fresh-cut produce production process,' said Andrew C. von Eschenbach, MD, Commissioner of Food and Drugs.' "
For the entire story, go to the FDA news release about HACCP implementation for farms.
"Agency Approves First Use of Viruses as a Food Additive"
"WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 (AP) - A mix of bacteria-killing viruses may be sprayed on cold cuts, wieners and sausages to combat common microbes that kill hundreds of people a year, federal health officials ruled Friday.
"The ruling, by the Food and Drug Administration, is the first approval of viruses as a food additive, said Andrew Zajac of the Office of Food Additive Safety at the agency.
"Treatments that use bacteriophages to attack harmful bacteria have been a part of folk medicine for hundreds of years in India and for decades in the former Soviet Union.
"'The approved mix of six viruses is intended to be sprayed onto ready-to-eat meat and poultry products, including sliced ham and turkey,' said John Vazzana, the president and chief executive of Intralytix, which developed the additive.
"The viruses, called bacteriophages, are meant to kill strains of the Listeria monocytogenes bacterium, the food agency said.
"Carrying filth: A 2News Investigation (Purses and bacteria)"
"(KUTV) SALT LAKE CITY. It's something just about every woman carries with them. While we may know what's inside our purses, do you have any idea what's on the outside? Shauna Lake put purses to the test - for bacteria - with surprising results. You may think twice about where you put your purse.
"Women carry purses everywhere from the office to public restrooms to the floor of the car. Most women won't be caught without their purses, but did you ever stop to think about where your purse goes during the day?
"'I drive a school bus, so my purse has been on the floor of the bus a lot,' says one woman. 'On the floor of my car, probably in restrooms.'
"'I put my bus [sic] in grocery shopping carts, on the floor of bathroom stalls while changing a diaper,' says another woman. 'And of course in my home which should be clean.'
"We decided to find out if purses harbor a lot of bacteria. We learned how to test them at Nelson Laboratories in Salt Lake, then we set out to test the average woman's purse. Most women told us they didn't stop to think about what was on the bottom of their purse. Most said they usually set their purses on top of kitchen tables and counters where food is prepared.
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