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Food Vendors Shut Down for Health Code Violations at Western Montana Fair

Three food vendors were shut down Friday at the Western Montana Fair in Missoula, MT, after health department inspectors found that “hundreds of pounds of food” the concessionaires were planning to serve had not been properly refrigerated for several days.
Other violations involved improper storage of food, unsanitized dishes, and employees not washing their hands, apparently in one case because not enough water was available.
Although three people reportedly felt ill after eating food served by the vendors, there were no official reports of foodborne illnesses linked to the fair, said Amanda Poston, an infectious disease nurse with the Missoula City-County Health Department.
“I’m the one who gets the reports, and we have not had any confirmed cases,” she told Food Safety News.

The three vendors — Route 66, Delightful Goodies and The Candy Stand — which are all affiliated with North Star Amusements of Cody, WY, will have to prove they can provide safe food or they won’t be allowed into the fair next year, a department official said.
“In order for those vendors to come back to Missoula next year, they are going to need to contact us and let us know how they are going to be able to do it safely next year,” said Environmental Health Specialist Alisha Johnson.
Johnson noted that in the six years she had worked for the department, she had never seen a food vendor be shut down at the fair.
“Really, the responsibility rests on the operator themselves to know what the regulations are, and the put proper food safety protocols in place, and that simply wasn’t happening here,” she said.
Department inspectors had talked to the vendors earlier in the week about the observed food code violations and what needed to be done to remain open, but their advice was not being followed.

“They just couldn’t quite meet those requirements, and we realized that it was irresponsible to continue to let them operate,” Johnson said.

On Monday, a local newspaper slammed the carnival contractor and the fair organizers for the situation, editorializing that, “These folks were clearly, repeatedly, in violation of health regulations that could have sickened their customers.”

Food Safety News

Colorado Restaurant Closed for Repeated Food Code Violations

The Weld County Commission on Monday approved the recommendation of its health department to close a colorful Mexican restaurant in Greeley, CO, for multiple critical food code violations. Tacos y Salsas, one of 11 units in a Colorado chain of restaurants owned by David Martinez, saw its Greeley outlet shut down until health code violations are corrected.

Tacos y Salsas restaurants are known for their select raised beef, fresh corn tortillas made on-site, and offering soda only in bottles, as practiced in Mexico.

Here’s what the Weld County Department of Public Health’s Environmental Health Service found in most its recent inspection of the Tacos y Salsas at Greeley:

  • Raw hamburger, eggs and bacon found stored above ready-to-eat foods in the walk-in cooler. All raw animal products shall be stored below ready-to-eat foods. Corrected at time of inspection. Repeat violation.
  • Personal drink found stored over food preparation table. Personal drinks shall be stored in a designated area or below food, food contact surfaces and equipment. Moved during inspection. Corrected at time of inspection. Repeat violation.
  • The facility had three repeat violations after receiving training. In addition, staff was unable to demonstrate that they understood risks associated with cold holding food (started ice bath but then did not maintain it and did not take temperatures to ensure food was cold held). Recommend additional training from third-party consultant. Correct immediately. Repeat violation.
  • Found potentially hazardous foods in the steam table at 110-127 degrees F. All potentially hazardous foods shall be maintained at 135 degrees F and above. Foods were off temperature less than four hours so were reheated and placed back in steam table, which was turned up. Corrected at time of inspection.
  • Found potentially hazardous foods holding at 48-68 degrees F in the reach-in cooler. Foods had been attempted to be kept cold by placing in ice, but ice was inadequate or missing (had completely turned to water that was at 52 degrees F). All potentially hazardous foods shall be maintained at 41 degrees F and below. Foods were off temperature for less than four hours, so ice baths were remixed. Corrected at time of inspection. Repeat violation.

Such violations were deemed critical by health officials because they carry the risk  of spreading foodborne illnesses.

Food Safety News

Untangling Brazil’s controversial new forest code

Approved in 2012, Brazil’s new Forest Code has few admirers. Agricultural interests argue that it threatens the livelihoods of farmers. Environmentalists counter that it imperils millions of hectares of forest, threatening to release the billions of tons of carbon they contain. A new study, co-authored by Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) scientists Michael Coe, Marcia Macedo and Brazilian colleagues, published this week in Science, aims to clarify the new law. Entitled “Cracking Brazil’s Forest Code,” the article is the first to quantify the implications of recent changes to the Forest Code and identify new opportunities and challenges for conservation.

The Brazilian Forest Code is the largest single protector of forests on private properties, which contain over half of Brazil’s remaining forests and savannahs. Though championed by conservationists, the law has proved challenging to enforce. As global demand for beef and animal feed increased in the early 2000s, annual deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon surged to more than 20,000 km2 per year — prompting global outrage and a redoubling of efforts to improve enforcement. These pressures inspired a backlash from agribusiness interests, who lobbied to reduce the burden put on landowners to conserve and restore forests.

The new Forest Code is the product of a long and bitter debate in the Brazilian congress, fueled by tensions between the agribusiness lobby, government enforcement agencies, and conservationists. According to the study, the new law granting amnesty to landowners who deforested illegally before 2008, reduces the area to be reforested from 500,000 km2 to 210,000 km2. “The agribusiness lobby should see this as a big win,” explains lead author Britaldo Soares-Filho of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG,) “but if they continue to boycott and sabotage the Forest Code, they will be shooting themselves in the foot.” Ultimately, he warns, “agricultural productivity depends on the conservation of native ecosystems and the climate stability they provide.”

The recent changes affect conservation in all Brazilian biomes, including the Amazon, Cerrado, and Atlantic Forest. “Brazil has done a great job reducing deforestation in the Amazon, but the other biomes have been short-changed in the process,” notes Dr. Macedo. Only 50% of the Cerrado forest remains intact and deforestation is increasing. This study estimates that the new law allows legal deforestation of an additional 400,000 km2 of the Cerrado, “That’s an area almost the size of California. Allowing that to happen would be an environmental disaster,” emphasizes Dr. Macedo.

Despite big losses for the environment, the law also introduced two key conservation measures that could pave the way for commoditizing standing forests in all biomes. First, it creates a new market that allows landowners to trade surplus forests (those that could be legally deforested) on one property, to offset restoration requirements on another. The study found that, if fully implemented, this could reduce the areas requiring restoration to as little as 5,500 km2 of arable land. The new law also creates an online land registry system that streamlines the process for landowners to register their property boundaries and environmental information. More advanced monitoring and documentation of over 5 million rural properties will dramatically improve enforcement. According to Dr. Coe, “No other country has attempted a registry of this scale. By allowing greater transparency, the system has the potential to help improve compliance and therefore become a big win for the environment.”

The Forest Code continues to be difficult to enforce and some worry that the amnesty provided for illegal deforestation may set a dangerous precedent, creating the expectation of impunity for future deforestation. “To be effective, the Forest Code must be tied to economic incentives that reward landowners who conserve native vegetation,” says co-author Raoni Rajão of UFMG.

Fortunately, private initiatives have sprung up to support compliance in the form of international certification standards, commodity roundtables, and boycotts of products produced on newly deforested land. New public initiatives like Brazil’s Low-Carbon Agriculture Program, which provides US$ 1.5 billion in annual subsidized loans to improve agricultural production, while reducing associated carbon emissions, are also key. Such initiatives will be critical if Brazil hopes to succeed in reconciling environmental conservation and agricultural development.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Woods Hole Research Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Minnesota’s Parkers Farm Recalls All Products With Code Date

A Minnesota company that makes peanut butter, cheese spreads and dips, bagel spreads and salsas has recalled all its products for possible Listeria contamination. Parker Farms is asking consumers not to consume any of its products with a code date.

The Coon Rapids, MN-based company said problem with its products was discovered through testing by the State of Minnesota. The Parkers Farm products can either be returned for credit at retailers or discarded.

The list of recalled products includes:

16-ounce Parkers peanut butter in square plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including creamy, crunchy, honey creamy and honey crunchy varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;

34-ounce Parkers peanut butter in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including creamy and crunchy varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;

12-ounce Parkers spreads in round or square plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including jalapeño and pimento varieties with a sell by date before 9/20/2014;

8-ounce and 16-ounce Parkers cold pack cheese in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including sharp cheddar, bacon, onion, smoked cheddar, Swiss almond, horseradish, garlic, port wine, and “Swiss & cheddar” varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;

16-ounce Parkers salsa in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including hot, mild, garlic, and fire-roasted varieties with a sell by date before 7/20/2014;

10-ounce Parkers cheese balls or logs (plastic overwrap), including sharp cheddar, port wine, ranch, and “smokey bacon” varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;

10-ounce Happy Farms cheese balls (plastic overwrap), including sharp cheddar and port wine varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;

16-ounce Happy Farms cold pack cheese in round plastic containers  (tub with snap-on lid), including sharp cheddar and port wine varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;

8-ounce Central Markets cold pack cheese in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including sharp cheddar, port wine, horseradish, and Swiss almond varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;

12-ounce and 20-ounce Hy-Top cheese spread in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including pimento and jalapeño varieties with a sell by date before 9/20/2014;

8-ounce Amish Classic cold pack cheese in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including sharp cheddar, port wine, and Swiss almond varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;

14-ounce Say Cheez beer cheese in round plastic container (tub with snap on lid), including regular and hot varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;

10-ounce Win Schuler original variety cheese balls or logs (plastic overwrap) with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;

8-ounce,12-ounce, and 14-ounce Bucky Badger cheese spreads (tub with snap-on lid) including cheddar, port wine, bacon, garlic, horseradish, jalapeño, and Swiss almond varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015; and

5-pound foodservice products including cold pack cheese foods, cheese spreads and peanut butter with a sell by date before 3/20/2015.

The products are distributed nationwide under the Parkers Farm, Parkers, Happy Farms, Central Markets, Hy-Top, Amish Classic, Say Cheez, Win Schuler, and Bucky Badger labels. These products were sold at several retail stores including but not limited to Hy-Vee, Cub, Rainbow, Byerly’s, Lunds, Target, Whole Foods, Price Chopper, Nash Finch, Costco, ALDI, Wal-Mart, and Brookshire stores.

Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious and sometimes fatal infection in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individualls suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

No illnesses have yet been associated with the recall.

Food Safety News

Big Y to reveal code during Super Bowl

Big Y will run a television commercial during the Super Bowl revealing of a code it has asked shoppers to decipher.

Shoppers are asked to guess what ”I-M-B-Y” means. They can post their guesses on the Big Y Facebook wall with the hash tag #BigYSurprise or Tweet @BigYFoods, along with the hash tag #BigYSurprise.

Among the guesses:

“It’s My Big Y.”
“In My Big Y.”

Prizes will be awarded to winners.

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UK: Groceries Code Adjudicator urges fruit growers to inform of unfair demands by supermarkets

Fruit Focus 2013
UK: Groceries Code Adjudicator urges fruit growers to inform of unfair demands by supermarkets

Hot sunny weather that has helped boost the fortunes of fruit growers this season continued to shine on the 1200 visitors that attended Fruit Focus 2013 at East Malling Research, Kent, on 24 July.

Two pressing topics overshadowing the fruit sector – fairness in the supply chain and seasonal workers – were aired. Christine Tacon, the newly appointed Groceries Code Adjudicator, urged fruit growers to inform her of any unfair demands being put on them by the supermarkets.

Speaking to a packed audience at the NFU Fruit Forum, she said: “This is your big chance to sort the industry out. Unless you let me know what’s going on, I won’t be able to help.”

Ms Tacon, who took up her role on 25 June, oversees a legally binding code of practice introduced three years ago. It is designed to curtail practices that pass risk from the supermarket down the chain, such as lump sum payments to cover profit shortfalls or demands to fund promotions. It covers all retailers with a turnover of more than £1bn.

Although the Code had been in place for three years very few breaches had been reported, due to a “climate of fear” that a complaint against a retailer would cost a supplier its business. “I can take complaints anonymously – I need to know who you are, but the retailer doesn’t,” Ms Tacon said.

While she was able to launch investigations that could result in large fines being imposed on supermarkets found guilty of breaching the code, such investigations would be resource hungry, Ms Tacon said.

She hoped her preferred route of working closely with code compliance officers (CCOs) would be sufficient to build more trust into the supply chain. These senior staff appointed by supermarkets already appeared to be onside, given the threat of adverse publicity as well as sizeable fines, she added.

Another issue attracting plenty of sector interest, the potential demise of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS), also saw a full house.

Anthony Snell, Herefordshire fruit grower and chairman of the West Midlands NFU Horticulture Board, feared the scheme was becoming embroiled in politics. “The big message for government is that it is not an immigration issue, it should not even be political. It is purely economic, being about the availability of seasonal labour to pick crops to ensure a vibrant horticultural industry.”

Describing the scheme as tried and tested, he said he could not manage without the 250-300 workers he employed each season on his farm. They were young workers who paid their taxes and National Insurance and then went home. Urging government to rethink its plans to close the scheme at the end of 2013, he said: “It is a brilliant system and must be continued without a break.”

A Migration Advisory Committee report on seasonal migrant workers published in May concluded that British farmers should be able to recruit enough seasonal workers in the first one to two years without the scheme after working restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian nationals are lifted at the end of this year.

Chief horticulture adviser Hayley Gibbons said an NFU survey revealed a very different outcome, with 50% of growers doubtful that workers from Bulgaria and Romania would come back to the sector once access to the wider job market and permanent work opened up.

“With a £3bn farm-gate value for this industry that’s a big gamble to take,” she said. Given the dearth of UK labour, she added: “Producers may not be able to deliver – it is very important that SAWS is not caught up in a top-line immigration debate.”
Jon Day, event director at Fruit Focus organiser Haymarket Exhibitions, said the success of this year’s event outlined growers’ hunger to improve their businesses.  

“With over 120 exhibitors in attendance, Fruit Focus offers an unrivalled opportunity in the UK for growers to keep up-to-date with the latest technology, business and variety developments,” he said.

Chris Mack, chairman of Fruit Focus principal sponsor Mack, said: “Once again, Fruit Focus has shown how much energy and drive there is in British fruit production at the moment.”

“This year it was a particular pleasure for me to meet the people behind the new Malling Centenary strawberry, and to see the pride that comes with seeing years of hard work come to fruition. My congratulations to the event organisers for another seamless, well-attended day.”

Click here to find out more about the events at the show


Publication date: 7/29/2013