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Food Lion to bring fresh produce to seniors

Food Lion plans to donate fresh produce to seniors in South Carolina through an event and meal delivery service as part of Older Americans Month.

The retailer said it will host a “farmer’s market style shopping experience” that will include at least 10 types of produce at the York County Council on Aging on May 29.

Food Lion also said it will provide Cherokee Meals on Wheels and Union County Council on Aging with 700 bags of mixed fruit for delivery to homebound low-income clients. Deliveries will take place May 30.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina is also a partner in the two initiatives.

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Supermarket News

New Illnesses Bring Scottish E. Coli Outbreak to 21 Sick

An additional six cases of E. coli have been linked to burgers eaten at the Glasgow Hydro arena, bringing the total number ill to 21.

The cases first began appearing several weeks ago. Some attendees who ate burgers at the arena between Jan. 17 and Jan. 19 have fallen ill with symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infectoin, which includes diarrhea, stomach cramps and nausea.

Health officials are asking anyone who attended events at the arena within those three days and then fell ill with similar symptoms to contact a healthcare provider to record their case.

All of those who fell ill are recovering at home by this point.

Investigators have not conclusively linked the illnesses to the burgers, but said burgers appear to be the most likely source of infection.

Food Safety News

Studies on Restaurant Safety Practices Bring More Concerning News

A recent study on food worker habits found that 60 percent of restaurant employees said they had worked a shift while ill, with 20 percent saying that, in the past year, they had worked at least one shift while experiencing vomiting or diarrhea.

Four articles published in the December edition of Journal of Food Protection spotlight restaurant safety practices across the country. The research was organized by the Environmental Health Specialists Network (EHS-Net) within the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Food Safety News highlighted two of the studies on Monday in a story entitled, “Studies on Restaurant Food Safety Produce Some Unsettling Data.” Below are some findings from two of the other studies:

Food Worker Experiences with and Beliefs about Working While Ill (article link)

When food handlers work while ill, they run a considerable risk of sickening restaurant patrons. In fact, ill employees contribute to as many as two-thirds of restaurant-related outbreaks. EHS-Net researchers conducted interviews with 491 food workers from 391 randomly selected restaurants in nine states to discover trends behind worker motivations for working while ill.

  • 60 percent of restaurant workers said they had worked a shift while ill. Of those who had done so, 89 percent said they made the decision independently, while the decision was influenced by management 11 percent of the time.
  • Those were worked while ill did so for one or more reasons: no paid sick leave (44 percent); understaffed or no staff available to cover shift (32 percent); symptoms didn’t feel contagious or bad enough (31 percent); feelings of obligation or strong work ethic (31 percent). More than 70 percent said that the severity of illness, type of symptoms and possibility of making others ill each influenced their decision to work.
  • 20 percent of workers said they had worked one or more shifts while experiencing vomiting or diarrhea in the previous year. Of those, 61 percent did so on two or more shifts.
  • Managers were aware of sick employees working in 63 percent of circumstances, usually because the employees informed them.
  • About half of the employees who said they worked while ill changed their behavior in some way, but only one-third of those changes related to food safety, such as more frequent hand washing or avoiding food preparation. “These data suggest that food workers are working while ill and are not taking the necessary precautions to prevent their customers from getting ill,” the authors wrote.

Frequency of Inadequate Chicken Cross-Contamination Prevention and Cooking Practices in Restaurants (article link)

Poultry is the most commonly fatal food associated with foodborne illness, as well as the fourth most common food to cause illness. Between 1998 and 2008, 61 percent of poultry-related outbreaks were connected to restaurants. EHS-Net researchers interviewed kitchen managers in 448 restaurants concerning chicken preparation and cooking practices.

  • 80 percent of managers said their restaurants washed, rinsed and sanitized raw chicken contact surfaces as recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Another 10 percent said they washed and rinsed surfaces but did not sanitize them, which does not meet FDA’s recommendations, while 4 percent said they only used a sanitizing solution.
  • 60 percent of restaurants had designated cutting boards for raw meat, while 40 had them never, rarely or only sometimes.
  • Cooks determined whether chicken was fully cooked by using a thermometer 46 percent of the time.
  • Chickens were rinsed or washed in 42 percent of kitchens. While proper washing may reduce the bacterial load on a chicken, it also increases the potential for cross-contamination from spraying water if not done correctly.
  • When asked the safe minimum temperature for cooking raw chicken, 43 percent of managers answered FDA’s recommended temperature of 165 degrees F, while 25 percent answered with a temperature below that and another 25 percent provided an answer below. Only 7 percent said they did not know. The lowest temperature answered was 90 F, and the highest 500 F.
  • “A limitation of our study is that the data were collected through self-report methods and thus may be susceptible to a bias toward over-reporting socially desirable behaviors, such as preparing chicken properly,” the authors wrote. “Data were collected from English-speaking managers only; thus, our data may not represent the proportion of kitchen managers who are not English speakers.”

Food Safety News

Additional E. coli Illnesses Bring Gort’s Raw Cheese Outbreak to 23 Sick

Another two victims from British Columbia have been reported ill with E. coli O157:H7 after eating contaminated raw cheese products produced by Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm of Salmon Arm, B.C., bringing the total ill to 23.

One elderly victim has died.

The sickened individuals fell ill between mid-July and mid-September. On Sept. 17, the farm recalled 15 products that were sold online, at the farm, and in retail stores around B.C. and Alberta between May 27 and Sept. 14.

The number ill by province is as follows:

Alberta (9 illnesses), British Columbia (11), Manitoba (1), Quebec (1), Saskatchewan (1).

Symptoms of E. coli infection typically include stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, fever. Severe illnesses may develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal kidney disease.

Food Safety News

Additional E. coli Illnesses Bring Gort’s Raw Cheese Outbreak to 23 Sick

Another two victims from British Columbia have been reported ill with E. coli O157:H7 after eating contaminated raw cheese products produced by Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm of Salmon Arm, B.C., bringing the total ill to 23.

One elderly victim has died.

The sickened individuals fell ill between mid-July and mid-September. On Sept. 17, the farm recalled 15 products that were sold online, at the farm, and in retail stores around B.C. and Alberta between May 27 and Sept. 14.

The number ill by province is as follows:

Alberta (9 illnesses), British Columbia (11), Manitoba (1), Quebec (1), Saskatchewan (1).

Symptoms of E. coli infection typically include stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, fever. Severe illnesses may develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal kidney disease.

Food Safety News

Stemilt and Lantao the first to bring Starkrimson pears from the U.S. to China

Stemilt Growers of Wenatchee, WA, and Lantao of Shanghai, China, have teamed up to be the first marketers of Washington-grown Starkrimson pears in China under the new protocol between the United States and China announced earlier this year.

Just like its name implies, Starkrimson pears have a crimson red color that brightens as its ripens. It has a juicy texture and sweet flavor with a floral essence.

TateMathisonBillYoungTate Mathison, Bill Young and Dave Martin check Stemilt Pears in China.Because of it striking red color and sweet flavor, the Starkrimson Pear is a good multi-purpose pear well-suited for the Chinese market, according to Mike Taylor, vice president of sales and marketing for Stemilt.

“Our experience is the Chinese consumer appreciates a sweet and juicy piece of fruit” he saidr.  “We expect there will be an education period to explain the difference between a typical Asian pear and our Western-style pears.  We feel very confident that Lantao, our partners in China, will do a great job in exposing both Starkrimsons and Anjous in the market, and increase their sales and acceptance with the Chinese consumers”.

Lantao has marketing and distribution facilities in six different markets in China, including the so-called “big three” Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou and also in the internal secondary cities of Shenyang, Zhengzhou and Harbin. 

“Although our initial introduction of the Starkimson pear will be in the primary markets, there has been plenty of growth in our secondary market cities for premium fruit from the United States” said John Wang, president of Lantao.  “Our so-called second-tier markets have populations of over 10 million people, with growing economies and a burgeoning middle-class.”

Dave Martin, export sales director, and Bill Young, export account manager for Stemilt Growers, were in China to see the first arrivals of the fruit earlier this month

“China is one of our important export markets, and we hope to achieve similar success with our pears as we have had with our apples and cherries,” said Martin.  “We appreciate working with Lantao because they seem to grasp our philosophy when it comes to openness, trust, honesty, commitment and the belief in the quality of our fruit.”

Stemilt is a major grower of pears in the Wenatchee region in Washington state. Starkrimson pears will be followed with an extended program of Red and Green D’anjou pear shipments into the Chinese market maintaining a steady supply of Red and Green pears through the spring, and early summer months.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

EPC-NEPC bring together produce trade at inaugural ‘Alliance Event for the Industry’

GROTON, CT — The inaugural “Alliance Event for the Produce Industry” was held Sept. 17-18 at the Marriott Mystic Hotel & Spa, here, attracting 130 attendees for an educational forum co-sponsored by the New England Produce Council and the Eastern Produce Council, featuring presentations by the Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Produce Association.

The opening day opened with a morning tour of Lyman Orchards, located in nearby Middlefield, CT.

StenzelSilbermannCaldwellTom Stenzel, president and chief executive officer of the United Fresh Produce Association, and Bryan Silbermann, president and CEO of the Produce Marketing Association, were on hand Sept. 17 as their organizations played key roles in the educational sessions of the inaugural joint meeting of the Eastern Produce Council and the New England Produce Council, held Sept. 17-18 in Groton, CT. (Photo by Tad Thompson)The formal program opened Sept. 17 with a luncheon, followed by United’s chief executive officer, Tom Stenzel, presenting a “Washington Update.” Stenzel then moderated a panel comprised of Douglas Fisher, secretary of agriculture for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, and Steven Reviczky, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture.   These agriculture leaders discussed topics of concern to United and the produce industry.

A second afternoon panel, discussing the use of produce in northeastern school foodservice programs was moderated by Andrew Marshall, United’s policy and grassroots manager.

The Sept. 18 schedule opened with Bryan Silbermann, president and CEO of PMA, introducing the association’s food safety leaders, Bob Whitaker and Jim Gorny.

Whitaker and Silbermann both encouraged produce industry leaders to take aggressive action in their own businesses, as opposed to passively waiting for someone else to address the industry issues and disseminate simple answers to solutions.

Whitaker, who is PMA’s chief science and technology officer, closed his comments showing a picture of a beautiful little boy who died of food poisoning. He reminded the audience that what may seem casual decisions they make involving food-safety ramifications can mean life and death decisions. He noted that it is the young and old who are at greatest risk of food-borne illness.

Gorny, PMA’s vice president of food safety and technology, was scheduled to speak about the Food Safety Modernization Act during the afternoon session on Sept. 18. The closing session also was scheduled to feature a retail and foodservice panel.

An optional golf event was available on the afternoon of Sept. 18 at Lake Isles near Foxwoods Resort & Casino.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

EPC-NEPC bring together produce trade at inaugural ‘Alliance Event for the Industry’

GROTON, CT — The inaugural “Alliance Event for the Produce Industry” was held Sept. 17-18 at the Marriott Mystic Hotel & Spa, here, attracting 130 attendees for an educational forum co-sponsored by the New England Produce Council and the Eastern Produce Council, featuring presentations by the Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Produce Association.

The opening day opened with a morning tour of Lyman Orchards, located in nearby Middlefield, CT.

StenzelSilbermannCaldwellTom Stenzel, president and chief executive officer of the United Fresh Produce Association, and Bryan Silbermann, president and CEO of the Produce Marketing Association, were on hand Sept. 17 as their organizations played key roles in the educational sessions of the inaugural joint meeting of the Eastern Produce Council and the New England Produce Council, held Sept. 17-18 in Groton, CT. (Photo by Tad Thompson)The formal program opened Sept. 17 with a luncheon, followed by United’s chief executive officer, Tom Stenzel, presenting a “Washington Update.” Stenzel then moderated a panel comprised of Douglas Fisher, secretary of agriculture for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, and Steven Reviczky, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture.   These agriculture leaders discussed topics of concern to United and the produce industry.

A second afternoon panel, discussing the use of produce in northeastern school foodservice programs was moderated by Andrew Marshall, United’s policy and grassroots manager.

The Sept. 18 schedule opened with Bryan Silbermann, president and CEO of PMA, introducing the association’s food safety leaders, Bob Whitaker and Jim Gorny.

Whitaker and Silbermann both encouraged produce industry leaders to take aggressive action in their own businesses, as opposed to passively waiting for someone else to address the industry issues and disseminate simple answers to solutions.

Whitaker, who is PMA’s chief science and technology officer, closed his comments showing a picture of a beautiful little boy who died of food poisoning. He reminded the audience that what may seem casual decisions they make involving food-safety ramifications can mean life and death decisions. He noted that it is the young and old who are at greatest risk of food-borne illness.

Gorny, PMA’s vice president of food safety and technology, was scheduled to speak about the Food Safety Modernization Act during the afternoon session on Sept. 18. The closing session also was scheduled to feature a retail and foodservice panel.

An optional golf event was available on the afternoon of Sept. 18 at Lake Isles near Foxwoods Resort & Casino.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

New Texas Illnesses Bring Cyclospora Case Count to 469

An increase of 44 cases in Texas over the weekend has brought the number of confirmed illnesses from recent Cyclospora outbreaks to 469, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

At least 171 Texans have fallen ill with Cyclospora since early June. Texas health department spokeswoman Christine Mann told Food Safety News investigators are still not sure if the Texas illnesses are connected to the 232 illnesses in Iowa and Nebraska that have been traced back to Taylor Farms salad served at Olive Garden and Red Lobster, both owned by Darden Restaurants.

According to a report on NBC Nightly News, a Texas woman has filed a lawsuit against Darden after allegedly falling ill from eating at Olive Garden. A spokesperson for Darden told NBC that its Texas restaurants use a different salad supplier than Taylor, which supplies to restaurants in Iowa, Nebraska and possibly other states.

Darden representatives have not responded to repeated inquiries from Food Safety News.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention most recently updated its outbreak case count on August 5. The case count by state is as follows:

Arkansas (2 cases), Connecticut (1), Florida (25), Georgia (4), Illinois (5), Iowa (148), Kansas (3), Louisiana (3), Minnesota (1), Missouri (2), Nebraska (84), New Jersey (1), New York (6), Ohio (1), Texas (171) and Wisconsin (12).

There is a high likelihood that many of the illnesses in states with small case counts were contracted during travel to other states.

Cyclospora is a single-celled parasite often associated with contaminated fresh produce. Symptoms can take several days or weeks to appear and include watery diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, nausea and stomach cramps.

Food Safety News