The 2013 conference for the International Association of Food Protection kicked off in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday night, with 2,700 attendees from around the world convening to share the latest advancements in food safety technology and philosophies. The keynote address was delivered by Dr. David Acheson, former Associate Commissioner for Foods at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and current director of the Food and Import Safety Practice at Leavitt Partners.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) on July 27 issued a public notification of a recall being conducted by the Chilean Ministry of Health for chicken products. After official notification from the government of Chile of the positive result for dioxin, FSIS instructed importers to hold this product, although the agency noted that the risk of illness from consuming this product is negligible.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland on July 29 published research into the impact of the horse meat contamination issue on Irish consumer confidence and trust in the food they purchase. The survey reveals significant changes in consumers’ purchasing habits with over half (51%) of people who purchased frozen burgers in the past now buying less of these products (48% buy the same amount).
Life Technologies Corporation today announced that it has signed a five-year agreement with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to accelerate and advance food safety testing of E. coli and Salmonella, two foodborne contaminants commonly associated with outbreaks and/or recalls.
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on July 30 commended the Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response (CIFOR) for the new CIFOR Foodborne Illness Response Guidelines for Owners, Operators and Managers of Food Establishments.
Iowa and Nebraska health officials announced July 30 that they have linked a nationally distributed packaged salad mix to an outbreak of cyclospora parasite infections in their states that has sickened 221 people. Almost 400 people across 15 states are confirmed with the parasite, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but federal officials say the outbreaks might not be related.
The number of people sickened in a multistate Cyclospora outbreak pushed past 400 on August 1, at least unofficially, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 397 cases, and Iowa and Texas added another 22 cases to that figure. In addition, on August 1 Louisiana reported its first cases, raising the number of affected states to 16, according to the CDC.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on August 2 published a new regulation defining the term "gluten-free" for voluntary food labeling.
On August 2, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified Taylor Farms de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V. — a processor of foodservice salads — as the source of the cyclosporiasis outbreak in Iowa and Nebraska. The agency said its traceback investigation found that illness clusters at four restaurants were linked to a common supplier: Taylor Farms de Mexico.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) on August 2 reported that it has identified a number of grocery stores in the Southeast as likely recipients of ground beef that has been recalled due to possible E. coli contamination. The beef was processed by Liberal, KS-based National Beef Packing Company and was sold in 10-pound chub packs under the National Beef, NatureSource, and NatureWell brands.
On August 5, the Watsonville, CA-based Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) launched a shoppers’ guide that is part of the AFF’s continuing efforts to provide consumers with quick and accessible food safety information about produce.
A team of scientists at the University of Hull has uncovered the crystal structure of melamine cyanurate, the substance thought to be responsible for the 2008 Chinese milk scandal, which caused around 300,000 babies to fall ill.
More than 35% of the food additives deemed harmless between 1997 and 2012 were evaluated by employees of food manufacturers or by consultants the companies selected, researchers reported August 8 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The U.S. Food and Drug (FDA) Administration published Federal Register notices on August 8 to extend the comment periods on the proposed rules for Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food and Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption by 60 days — until November 15, 2013. The extension of the comment period also applies to the information collection provisions associated with the proposed rules.
The Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative Technical Working Group (TWG) has approved changes to the Field Operations and Harvesting Harmonized Food Safety Standards. The new version of the Harmonized Standards will become obligatory on November 1, 2013. The new version is now posted on the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative webpage.
NSF International's Applied Research Center (ARC) has released the 2013 NSF International Household Germ Study, revealing that many common kitchen items harbor unsafe levels of E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, yeast and mold.
A total of 307 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 37 states, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on August 9.
On August 12, 2013 Taylor Farms de Mexico officially informed the FDA that, as of August 9, 2013, the company voluntarily suspended production and shipment of any salad mix, leafy green, or salad mix components from its operations in Mexico to the United States. The firm has committed to not resume production and shipping of these products from its operations in Mexico without FDA’s approval. To date only the salad mix has been implicated in the outbreak of cyclosporiasis in Iowa and Nebraska.
The international standards group Codex Alimentarius has established two new Electronic Working Groups — one to address Deoxyynivalenol (DON) Maximum Limits and another to develop a Code of Practice to prevent and reduce contamination in food and feed by Pyrrolizidine Alkaloid — both of which have issued Calls for Data.
Since April 2013, the Chicago Department of Public Health has been using an automated application, called Foodborne Chicago, to search Twitter for posts that include the words "food poisoning" by people who identify themselves as Chicagoans. The health department then contacts some of those people to obtain more information, which in some cases triggers restaurant inspections; in turn, some of those inspections have uncovered violations.