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FSIS Requires Labeling of Salt Solutions Added to Meat, Poultry

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its final rule requiring that processors of raw meat and poultry disclose the products’ added solutions on their labels.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is requiring that the descriptive designation include the percentage of added solution and the individual ingredients or multi-ingredient components in the solution listed in descending order of predominance by weight.

The agency proposed changes to the labeling of these products on July 27, 2011, in response to petitions wanting to prevent consumers from being misled by the marketing of added-solution poultry products.

In 2010, the Truthful Labeling Coalition, which included three meat and poultry processors, wrote to then-Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen and complained that Pilgrim’s Pride labelled their chicken “100% Natural” and “Reduced Sodium” despite containing 180 mg of sodium per serving — “four times the amount of sodium in truly natural single-ingredient chicken that has not been pumped full of saltwater.”

Michael Jacobson, executive director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, praised the rule, stating that about 60 percent of all raw meat and poultry products are injected with, or soaked in, a salty solution.

“That sodium increases blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks and strokes,” he said. The finalized rule “will make it clear to shoppers that many meat and poultry products are adulterated, not enhanced, with high percentages of salty solutions.”

FSIS stated that the new rule will improve public awareness, will allow consumers to better determine whether certain products are suitable for their dietary needs, and may help lead to “an increase in consumer welfare.”

The rule will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

Food Safety News

USDA Reports on FSIS Enforcement Actions for Final Quarter of Year

A federal sentencing in Arkansas, convictions in Florida and a guilty plea in Puerto Rico topped fourth quarter enforcement actions by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).   USDA’s final period of the year ended last Oct. 1 at the start of the current federal fiscal year. The three-month quarterly enforcement report includes FSIS administrative, civil and criminal actions.

Edward Martsolf, owner of the Petit Jean Farm in Morrilton, AR was sentenced for knowingly offering for sale, and selling and transporting meat as human food that was misbranded with counterfeit marks of federal inspection that he applied. He was sentenced to three years probation, fined $ 2,000 and required to pay $ 3,257 in restitution.

Martsolf earlier plead guilty to two counts of forging and applying counterfeit marks of federal inspection and selling and offering misbranded meat products for sale.  Also during the quarter, Jorge F. Ortega, owner of Jorge’s Farm near Citrus Park, FL was convicted of thee felony counts for selling adulterated and misbranded meat food products in commerce, selling un-inspected meat food products in commerce, and inhumane slaughter of swine.

He was sentenced to three years probation and 200 hours of community service entering an open plea for selling adulated and misbranded meat, selling uninspected meat, and violating humane slaughter standards.

The final criminal charges stemming from FSIS enforcement actions during the period came in Puerto Rico. Jose Suarez, owner of PR’s Joshua Enterprises, please guilty to one count of information for selling or offering for sale, 52,859 pounds of pork shoulders, that were at the time adulterated and unfit for human consumption.

His sentencing was scheduled for the new fiscal year.

Among the major civil enforcement actions by FSIS during the quarter include:

-Zhong Chen, Asian Chen, and Kimen Chen, owners of the Chicago’s Feida Bakery, were permanently enjoined from misbranding, selling or transporting meat and meat products.

-Richard Galligan, owner of Galligan Wholesale Meat Co. in Denver, signed a settlement agreement with the U.S. attorney for Colorado and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. For release from civil and administrative action, Galligan agreed to pay $ 80,000. At issue was possible breach of contract by mistake, unjust enrichment, and fraud.

–San Leandro, CA-based Galant Food Co. received an administrative complaint and consent decision, suspending federal meat inspection services for multiple regulatory violations and failures.

-John Stubblefield, owner of Hot Springs Packing Co. Inc. entered into a consent decision and order with FSIS allowing federal inspection services to resume when Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) controls are implemented.

-Paul and Kelly Rosberg, owners of Nebraska’s Finest Meats in Randolph, remain suspended from federal meat inspection services because of acts of intimidation and interference.

-Brasher Falls, NY-based Tri – Town Packing Corporation was subject to an FSIS complaint to withdraw federal meat inspectors for multiple violations.

Back in the meat and poultry plants were FSIS enforcement actions typically begin, meat inspectors issued 263 NRs ( non-compliance records). It raised the total number of NRs for the year to 1,087. Upon appeal, 302 were dismissed and 158 resulted in modified NRs. Appeals were upheld for 539 NRs for the year, which typically means what the decision of the FSIS meat inspector stands.

With those high retail beef prices continuing, the quarterly report shows beef production at just over 34 million for a second straight quarter. That’s down from 38.5 million and 35 million during the first two quarters of the year Poultry production, topping 2.3 billion carcasses for the final quarter, marked a high for the year.

Food Safety News

FSIS Approves Chinese Plants for Poultry Processing

Four Chinese poultry processing plants have been approved to export cooked chicken to the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has approved China’s export health certificate which demonstrates that poultry exported to the U.S. was raised and slaughtered in the U.S., Canada or Chile and that it was cooked to a proper temperature.

For the first time, FSIS also published the names of the four Chinese poultry processing establishments it audited in March 2013 and found to be operating under requirements equivalent to those of the U.S.

The plants are located in the Shandong province and include Shangdong Delicate Food Co., Weifang Legang Food Co., Qingyun Ruifeng Food Co., and Qingdao Nine-alliance Group Co.

It will be up to U.S. companies to decide to import cooked poultry from China. It’s currently unknown when – or even if – the marketplace will participate in the arrangement which could be economically beneficial for them.

When they do, FSIS will re-inspect the products exported by the four Chinese establishments when they reach U.S. ports before they will be allowed into domestic commerce.

Chinese-processed poultry that hits U.S. stores would be labeled as such, although if it’s repacked or further processed in the U.S., information that it had originated in China would not be included on the label. FSIS believes this repackaging is unlikely to occur, but states that if it does, it would be done under agency supervision.

Nancy Huehnergarth, a nutrition policy consultant and one of the women behind the Change.org petition to keep Chinese chicken off U.S. plates (which currently has 327,500 signatures), thinks consumers should be scared about the new development given China’s “abysmal” record on food safety. She is particularly worried that consumers’ right to know where their food comes from will be jeopardized by repackaging and reprocessing.

Food Safety News

NRDC Releases FSIS Inspection Reports on Foster Farms

At first blush, it might seem like overkill to go back five years collecting noncompliance reports (NRs) from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) for all Foster Farms facilities.

That’s exactly what the New York City-based National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) did Thursday in dumping 300 pages of NRs on Foster Farms in the public square. And one could even argue that NDRC is not providing anything new since FSIS reports NR summaries by plant in the agency’s quarterly reports.

However, NRDC obtained FSIS inspection reports that provide far greater detail by filing requests under the Freedom of Information Act. And, with Foster Farms being under the government’s microscope since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) blamed it for the much-publicized outbreak of drug-resistant Salmonella, the story told by the data is surprising.

NR reports for 2014 alone account for 100 of those 300 pages. And the two Foster Farms plants in California which CDC linked to the antibiotic-resistant Salmonella outbreak have racked up 200 separate violations during the period.

NRDC, which works on farm and food policy out of its San Francisco offices, is one of a couple dozen activist groups that have used the Salmonella outbreak to pressure Foster Farms about its policy regarding antibiotics. It wants Foster Farms to limit antibiotic use to treating sick chickens, not for growth enhancement.

In releasing 300 pages of the inspection reports, NRDC called many of them “incredibly unsavory.” The group’s statement noted that, “the pattern of violations at Foster Farm plants doesn’t leave us feeling warm and fuzzy about the company’s commitment to protecting public health.”

The Foster Farms-linked drug-resistant Salmonella outbreak ran from March 2013 to July 2014. Heavily centered on California where Foster Farms does most of its production, the 29-state outbreak resulted in 634 confirmed illnesses, and nearly 40 percent of the cases required hospitalization. Foster Farms did not recall any products until the outbreak was nearly over.

Reading noncompliance reports is best not done around meal times. NRDC states that the inspection reports contain descriptions of “mold growth, cockroaches, an instance of pooling caused by a skin-clogged floor drain, fecal matter and ‘Unidentified Foreign Material’ (which has it own acronym, UFM) on chicken carcasses, failure to implement required tests and sampling, metal pieces found in carcasses, and many more.”

“We would have expected that improved sanitation would be a top priority at Foster Farms at the height of the Salmonella outbreak, yet its slaughter and processing plant in Livingston, CA, was cited 154 times in the weeks and months after October 7, 2013, when USDA issued a public health alert about Foster Farms chicken,” reads the NRDC’s statement.

The environmental group said a violation was occurring once every other day between October 2013 and March 2014. The Foster Farms plant that was temporarily closed in January 2014 had NRs for cockroach infestations and “egregious insanitary conditions.”

NRs are the first step USDA/FSIS meat inspectors take to obtain corrective action. Many corrections are obtained on the spot, while others are settled or appealed. Foster Farms opted not to accept an invitation by Food Safety News to comment on the inspection reports released by NRDC.

On its website, Foster Farms says that antibiotics are not used for routine growth promotion. CEO Ron Foster has defended the use of antibiotics for keeping flocks healthy. The company has also claimed to have achieved dramatic reduction in Salmonella and Campylobacter in its fresh poultry, and those gains have been confirmed by outside experts.

Food Safety News

FSIS Approves Non-GMO Label for Meat

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has approved for the first time a third-party certification label that claims a meat product is free of genetically modified organisms.


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The Non-GMO Project, a third-party certifying organization, had asked FSIS in October 2012 for permission to issue a label for food companies stating that the animals used were fed an entirely non-GMO diet. The agency worked with the organization, the food companies in question, the Food and Drug Administration and the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service to verify the accuracy of the label.

However, this approval does not equate to an official sanction of the non-GMO claims, merely that the product meets the Non-GMO Project’s standards for what constitutes GMO-free.

Read more: Center Store Survey’s GMO Label Findings

“The agency has not developed any new policy regarding non-GE or non-GMO products and is not certifying that the labeled products are free of genetic engineering or genetic modifications,” said FSIS spokesperson Cathy Cochran.

FSIS permits food companies to use third-party certification labels provided the claims are “truthful, accurate and not misleading” and that information is available for consumers to scrutinize the claims.

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FSIS Denies CSPI Petition to Declare Antibiotic-Resistant Salmonella an Adulterant

Thursday was a busy day for the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. In addition to publishing its new poultry inspection rule, the agency also released its response to the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s petition, denying the organization’s request to have antibiotic-resistant Salmonella declared an adulterant.

CSPI’s petition, originally filed on May 25, 2011, called on FSIS to issue an interpretive rule declaring antibiotic-resistant (ABR) strains of Salmonella Hadar, Salmonella Heidelberg, Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Typhimurium to be adulterants when found in ground meat and poultry. The declaration would mean that the agency would have to test for these pathogens and remove contaminated products from the food supply.

“We have concluded that more data are needed to determine whether ABR Salmonella should have a different status as an adulterant under the [Federal Meat Inspection Act] and [Poultry Products Inspection Act] than Salmonella strains that are susceptible to antibiotics,” reads the FSIS response.

“The petition asserts that the crucial legal difference between ABR Salmonella and susceptible Salmonella strains is that ABR Salmonella occurs as the result of human intervention, i.e., the administration of antibiotics to live animals used in the production of meat and poultry,” the letter continues.

FSIS responds that ABR microbes can be present in food animals even if they haven’t been exposed to antibiotics, so more data would be needed on how much the administration of antibiotics contributes to the presence of ABR Salmonella in ground meat and poultry.

Another important aspect of the issue is whether “proper cooking” kills a pathogen. FSIS states that, in the case of E. coli strains that have been declared adulterants, consumers sometimes consider ground beef cooked rare, medium-rare or medium to be properly cooked even though it hasn’t reached a high-enough internal temperature to kill off the pathogen.

But for Salmonella, the agency says it is not aware of data to suggest that consumers think ground poultry, pork or lamb is properly cooked if it is less than “well-done.”

Other areas where FSIS said the request lacks data are:

  • the number of Salmonella per serving in different known food products responsible for outbreaks in order to understand the actual ineffective dose of different strains
  • whether ABR Salmonella causes more severe illnesses
  • that ABR Salmonella is more heat-resistant than susceptible strains

“USDA’s failure to act on antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella in the meat supply ignores vital information about the public health risk posed by these pathogens,” said CSPI Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal. “Despite numerous examples of outbreaks linked to resistant pathogens, USDA leaves consumers vulnerable to illnesses that carry a much greater risk of hard-to-treat infections leading to hospitalization.”

After three years of waiting for a response, CSPI filed a lawsuit on May 28, 2014, asking the court to require the agency to respond. FSIS’ denial is “without prejudice,” meaning that CSPI can submit a revised petition with additional information if they choose to do so.

Food Safety News

FSIS Poultry Rule Requires More Pathogen Testing, Introduces Voluntary Inspection System

The new poultry inspection rule announced today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires additional microbiological testing at all poultry processing facilities and introduces a fifth inspection system available for U.S. plants to voluntarily adopt.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called the rule a “longstanding effort” to “modernize our system” and said the agency is confident that it will result in safer food.

USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) already tests for Salmonella and Campylobacter, Vilsack said, but this rule requires plants to do additional testing at least twice per shift.

“They will have to pick the pathogen that they believe is a hazard within their establishment, and, being a poultry establishment, it could either be Campylobacter or Salmonella,” said FSIS Administrator Al Almanza.

“This is extraordinarily important,” Vilsack said. “We think it will increase the chances of us detecting problems and it places a responsibility and burden on the processing facility to do additional testing.”

The New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS) is based on the HAACP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) and directs poultry companies to sort their own product for quality defects before presenting it to FSIS inspectors.

“In this option, we’re moving away from a system that was devised and designed as far back as 1957, where individual inspectors are at the beginning of a line taking a look at issues that really involve quality assurance, not so much food safety,” Vilsack said. “We still have a responsibility to inspect carcasses, and we will continue to have inspectors at the end of the evisceration line doing that important inspection.”

The goal is to free up inspectors on each line to be able to ensure that sampling and testing are done properly and sanitation requirements are met, and to verify compliance with food safety rules.

“They’re all going to be performing food safety tasks that are more relevant to public health and food safety than sorting duties that they’re relegated to today,” Almanza said.

After many public comments expressed concern that the proposed increased line speed of 175 birds per minute would jeopardize worker safety, FSIS responded by maintaining the maximum line speed of 140 birds per minute to match all other existing poultry inspection systems.

According to Vilsack, the plants that have been using HIMP on an experimental basis for more than a decade have an average line speed of 131 birds per minute.

“We are still looking to improve worker safety,” he said. The rule also requires plants adopting the NPIS system to set up a method of notifying employees about initial indications of injury and encouraging early reporting of injury. In addition, FSIS inspectors will be trained to watch for injuries and report concerns directly to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

FSIS estimates that the NPIS will prevent nearly 5,000 Salmonella and Campylobacter foodborne illnesses each year. The system is part of the agency’s Salmonella Action Plan, unveiled last December, along with revised pathogen reduction performance standards for all poultry and new standards for poultry parts, which will be announced later this year.

Vilsack said that the department does not have an estimate of how many companies will choose to opt in to NPIS.

“This is a significant opportunity to bring the inspection system for poultry into the 21st century, relying on sampling and testing, understanding the science of pathogens much better than we did in 1957, and, I think, it also reflects a department that took very seriously the comments that were provided over the last several years about this rule,” Vilsack said.

Food Safety News

FSIS Warns About Breaded Chicken Products Produced Without Inspection

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert because VU Foods, LLC, a Kansas City, Mo., establishment, refused to issue a recall of breaded chicken products for which there is reason to conclude that they are unfit for human consumption.

The products were considered for recall because they were produced without inspection.

The products bear the establishment number “P-45038” inside the USDA mark of inspection or on the label. Some labels state that the products were distributed by Tact Foodservice or US Foods. These products will not be identifiable to consumers because they were sent to distributors and labeled for “Use in Restaurant Only.”

The following products were shipped to distribution centers:

  • Select Cut – Cubed Chicken Breast Meat (product code: 10800)
  • Select Cut – Cubed Chicken Breast Meat (product code: 10810)
  • Cubed Chicken Breast Meat (product code: 10500)
  • Pre-Battered Chicken Tender (product code: 80022)
  • Boneless All Natural Chicken Breast Nuggets (product code: 8550)
  • Chicken Dark Meat Nuggets (product code: 20505)
  • KIKKA Boneless All Natural Chicken Breast Nuggets, packed exclusively for KIKKA RESTAURANTS

The problem was discovered by the state of Missouri, which was assisted by law enforcement to enter a warehouse location and observed products that were produced without the benefit of inspection. The state of Missouri notified FSIS of the facility operating without the benefit of inspection on July 15, 2014. On that same day, the state of Missouri began detaining the breaded chicken products produced at the facility and FSIS began detaining additional products on July 17, 2014. FSIS served a Notice of Suspension to VU Foods, LLC, on July 24, 2014. FSIS is continuing to detain the product in question and is conducting trace forward operations with distribution centers to request the product back from their restaurant customers.

The investigation enforcement actions are ongoing and FSIS is prepared to take additional actions or expand the investigation based on new evidence.

FSIS has received no reports of illness due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a health care provider.

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/reportproblem.

Food Safety News

FSIS Proposed Rule Requires Source Records for Ground Beef Products

ground beefThe U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing to require all makers of raw ground beef products to keep records of the meat’s sources.

Retail outlets regularly make ground beef by mixing cuts of beef from various sources. This proposal, if finalized, will require them to keep clear records identifying the source, supplier, and names of all materials used in the preparation of raw ground beef products.

This would help USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) when tracing the producer of ground meat linked to a foodborne illness outbreak.

“The improved traceback capabilities that would result from this proposal will prevent foodborne illness by allowing FSIS to conduct recalls of potentially contaminated raw ground products in a timelier manner,” said Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Brian Ronholm. “By requiring retail outlets to maintain improved records on sources for ground products, the proposal will enable FSIS to quickly identify likely sources of contaminated product linked to an outbreak.”

“FSIS has concluded that record-keeping by retail facilities that grind raw beef to date has not been sufficiently effective,” reads the agency’s statement. “This proposal is in keeping with the agency’s latest efforts to target its food safety prevention tools at areas that will have the most significant public health impact.”

FSIS has opened a public comment period on the proposed rule that will end 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

Food Safety News

Consumer Group Again Calls on FSIS to Address Food Safety Inspector Shortages

Food & Water Watch (FWW) continues to prod the U.S. Department of Agriculture about shortages of food safety inspectors.

In a letter sent to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday, FWW Executive Director Wenonah Hauter cited incidents of understaffing in the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which she said “directly contradict” agency testimony before the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee in April that there have not been any gaps in inspection.

The move follows a letter the organization sent last February, which described the FSIS policy of hiring “temporary inspectors” and the inspector vacancies resulting from a hiring freeze. The letter also claimed that there has been an increased number of recalls for products that had not received the benefit of inspection.

Hauter noted that a draft of the FY 2015 FSIS Appropriations Explanatory Notes posted on the USDA’s website in March included a paragraph about personnel reduction stating that, “Due to anticipation of the Poultry Slaughter Modernization rule publication in FY 2014, the Agency has determined that it is not prudent to rehire formerly filled positions at this time because the new methods for poultry slaughter require fewer Federal in plant personnel.”

Since the February letter, FWW has obtained several FSIS emails that suggest a lack of inspections.

According to the letter, Spam® was produced on April 27 without the benefit of inspection, an April report about inspection visits for the Denver District showed that there were 100 instances in which establishments didn’t receive inspection and 17 instances in which establishments were short-staffed, a FSIS front-line inspector described “severe” inspection staffing shortages in Alabama, and a series of emails directed inspectors not to visit processing plants because they were needed to cover slaughter assignments.

Responding to The New York Times article about FWW’s February letter, FSIS Deputy Assistant Administrator Aaron Lavallee wrote in an agency blog post that, “FSIS is legally required to have a sufficient number of inspectors present in every single meat and poultry plant in the country. No plant in America is allowed to operate if it does not have the required number of safety inspectors in the plant at all times, and every plant currently operating in America has the necessary food inspection staff.”

Lavallee explained that vacancy rates should not be confused with plant inspector shortages, implying that meat and poultry are less safe because of them.

“There is no connection between recent recalls and FSIS vacancy rates, and any claims that these issues are linked are false,” he wrote.

But Hauter was not convinced by Lavallee’s blog post.

“[I]t is apparent to us that FSIS is in complete disarray and is in need of an overhaul of leadership,” she wrote. “We have lost confidence in that agency because its leaders cannot be trusted to tell the truth and on the current course it is heading public health is being placed in jeopardy.”

Food Safety News

FSIS Offers Food Safety Tips for Areas Affected Post-Hurricane Arthur

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued some food safety recommendations for the Mid-Atlantic states potentially affected by severe weather conditions related to Hurricane Arthur (downgraded Saturday to a Post-Tropical Storm).
The National Weather Service, which upgraded Arthur from tropical storm to hurricane status on Thursday, said that the storm was meandering off the east coast of Florida and was expected to slowly drift northwest overnight before turning north later. A steady strengthening is forecast as the storm approaches the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This type of weather forecast presents the possibility of power outages that could compromise the safety of stored food.

FSIS recommends that consumers take the following steps to reduce food waste and the risk of foodborne illness during severe weather events.

Steps to follow if the power goes out:

  • Keep appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer to ensure temperatures remain food safe during a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40 degrees F or lower in the refrigerator and 0 degrees F or lower in the freezer.
  • Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags or small containers prior to a storm. These containers are small enough to fit around the food in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold. Remember, water expands when it freezes, so don’t overfill the containers.
  • Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately — this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
  • Know where you can get dry ice or block ice.
  • Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than four hours.
  • Group foods together in the freezer — this “igloo” effect helps the food stay cold longer.
  • Keep a few day’s worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling.
  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
  • Place meat and poultry to one side of the freezer or on a tray to prevent cross-contamination of thawing juices.
  • Use dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible during an extended power outage. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.

Steps to follow after a weather emergency:

  • Check the temperature inside your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40 degrees F for two hours or more.
  • Check each item separately. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch.
  • Check frozen food for ice crystals. Any food in your freezer that has partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees F or below.
  • Never taste a food to decide if it’s safe.
  • When in doubt, throw it out.

FSIS will provide relevant food safety information as the storm progresses from its Twitter feed @USDAFoodSafety. To get tweets about weather-related food safety issues affecting just your state, follow @FL_FSISAlert, @GA_FSISAlert, @SC_FSISAlert, @NC_FSISAlert, and @VA_FSISAlert

The FSIS YouTube video “Food Safety During Power Outages” has instructions for keeping frozen and refrigerated food safe. The publication “A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes” can be downloaded and printed for reference during a power outage.

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at www.AskKaren.gov  or m.AskKaren.gov on a smartphone. Mobile Ask Karen can also be downloaded from the Apple and Android app stores. Consumers can email, chat with a live representative, or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline directly from the app. To use these features from Mobile Ask Karen, simply choose “Contact Us” from the menu. The live chat option and the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), are available on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT.

Food Safety News

FSIS: ‘Conclusive Evidence’ Linking Salmonella Case to Foster Farms Chicken Prompts Limited Recall

After months of illnesses and public calls for Foster Farms chicken to be recalled for potentially causing multiple Salmonella outbreaks, the company announced Thursday night that it was voluntarily recalling an undetermined amount of chicken products produced on three specific dates in March 2014.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service requested Foster Farms conduct the recall because the product is known to be associated with a specific illness of Salmonella.

The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “P6137,” P6137A” and “P7632” inside the USDA mark of inspection and were produced on March 8, 10 and 11, 2014.

Despite the latest Foster Farms outbreak having been going on since March 2013, there had been no evidence until now that connected a human illness to a specific lot of chicken. Until now, Foster Farms had refused to recall any products, and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials did not have any power to enforce a recall because they could not trace an illness back to one specific production lot.

The recalled products were shipped to Costco, Foodmaxx, Kroger, Safeway and other retail stores and distribution centers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah. While it is unlikely that much of the product remains in circulation at this point, some of it may still be frozen in freezers. Consumers are encouraged to check any frozen Foster Farms chicken for the recalled establishment number.

The USDA has supplied a full list of recalled products here.

“FSIS was notified on June 23rd of the illness and took immediate steps to collect the product for testing and announced the recall as soon as a direct link was confirmed,” said an FSIS spokesman in a written statement. “Combating Salmonella remains a top priority for FSIS and we continue to take all steps within our authority to reduce foodborne illness.”

This small recall comes on the heels of Food Safety News’ announcement that the most recent Salmonella outbreak had surpassed 600 official cases and at least 212 hospitalizations.

The new cases were reported by the California Department of Public Health, which has now seen 468 of the cases — by far the most of any state. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not yet updated its outbreak page.

Earlier, Foster Farms chicken was linked to another Salmonella outbreak that sickened 134 people in 13 states and caused at least 33 hospitalizations.

“I commend both Foster Farms and FSIS for doing the right thing for food safety,” said food safety attorney Bill Marler, whose law firm, Marler Clark, underwrites Food Safety News. “Recalling product is both embarrassing and hard, but is the right thing to do for your customers.”

According to USDA, Salmonella is not an adulterant on chicken the way harmful E. coli is considered an adulterant in ground beef. Because of that, the agency has been extremely limited in its abilities to regulate Foster Farms.

A bill recently introduced by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) would explicitly give FSIS the authority to declare any foodborne pathogen an adulterant and recall contaminated products.

Even when the product is tied to an outbreak, it is not illegal for chicken to be contaminated with Salmonella, and so the USDA had no way to enforce a recall on Foster Farms unless it could prove a strong connection between a human illness and a specific lot of chicken products.

As USDA Assistant Administrator for FSIS Field Operations Daniel Engeljohn explained to trade publication Meatingplace in October 2013:

“We had data suggesting Foster Farms was producing product associated with the illnesses but we were not able to associate that with any particular time in which the product was produced or day of production.”

In October 2013, a coalition of consumer groups urged USDA to force a recall of Foster Farms chicken. Just before that, the agency announced it had no plans to enforce a recall or shut down any of the company’s plants after Foster Farms complied with making revisions to its food safety protocols.

Last month, California-based Foster Farms celebrated its 75th anniversary, at which time the family firm was honored for its leadership in the poultry industry and commitment to consumers by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), U.S. Representatives Jim Costa (D-CA) and David Valadao (R-CA), and California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross.

“Foster Farms used the occasion of its anniversary to report on the company’s $ 75 million effort to reduce Salmonella,” a company statement read. “Most recent 10-week data, shared with both the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicated a Salmonella parts level of approximately 2 percent, significantly less than the USDA reported 2011/2012 industry benchmark of 25 percent.”

Food Safety News has reported extensively on the Foster Farms outbreaks and the issue of why some meat or poultry products are recalled for contamination and others are not. Read more here: “Fight Over Salmonella and Adulterants Spills into the Chicken Coop”

CDC estimates that for every one case of Salmonella that is detected, another 29 cases go undetected. Those estimates would suggest that the Foster Farms outbreak may have affected more than 17,000 people.

Food Safety News

FSIS Releases List of Some Retail Locations Believed to Have Received Recalled Ground Beef

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) released a list of retail locations in several states the agency “has reason to believe” received ground beef recently recalled by Wolverine Packing Co. of Detroit, MI.

“This list may not include all retail locations that have received the recalled product or may include retail locations that did not actually receive the recalled product,” the agency noted. “Therefore, it is important that you use the product-specific identification information available here, in addition to this list of retail stores, to check meat or poultry products in your possession to see if they have been recalled.”

The list includes Gordon Food Service Marketplace, with stores in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin; Surf N Turf Market in Sebring, FL; Giorgio’s Italian Deli in Stuart, FL; M Sixty Six General Store in Orleans, MI, and Buchtel Food Market in Buchtel, OH. FSIS has not released the names of any restaurants that may have received the recalled ground beef.

Wolverine Packing recalled about 1.8 million pounds of ground beef on Monday because of potential contamination with E. coli O157:H7. At the time the recall was issued, there were 11 E. coli illnesses in four states linked to the recalled product.

The ground beef products were produced between March 31, 2014, and April 18, 2014. Click here to see the full list of products that were recalled. The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “EST. 2574B” and will have a production date code in the format “Packing Nos: MM DD 14” between “03 31 14” and “04 18 14”.

The ground beef products were shipped to distributors for restaurant use in Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio. There was no distribution of the products to the Department of Defense, the National School Lunch Program, or catalog/Internet sales.

FSIS officials began gathering primary distribution information from Wolverine Packing after the recall was issued, the agency stated Wednesday, noting, “This process is lengthy and involves contacting each establishment at each level of distribution. As FSIS identifies retail establishments (e.g., supermarkets), the agency will update the distribution list. Please continue to check back over the coming days for updates.”

Food Safety News

FSIS is ‘Super-Sizing’ Ground Beef Pathogen Testing This Summer

(This May 16, 2014, blog post by Brian Ronholm, Acting Under Secretary for Food Safety, Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, is reposted here with permission.)

As grilling season heats up, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is enhancing our food safety testing program for ground beef. While FSIS has a range of safeguards to reduce E. coli in ground beef, this summer we will begin new testing to improve the safeguards against Salmonella as well. Salmonella is commonly found in ground beef and, in fact, caused an illness outbreak in January 2013 in six states. Salmonella is an especially difficult bacteria for food safety experts to address because it is so prevalent in almost all food sources.

Recognizing that we need more information about the prevalence of Salmonella in ground beef to better prevent foodborne illness, FSIS is “super-sizing” our pathogen testing program to include Salmonella every time our laboratories test for E. coli in samples of ground beef and ground beef sources. Because the samples taken for E. coli testing are much larger than those we have taken in the past for Salmonella, there is higher likelihood that we will be able to detect the bacteria if it is present.

Once FSIS has collected enough data about the prevalence of Salmonella in ground beef, we will create a new standard to encourage ground beef processors to strengthen their Salmonella controls, resulting in safer products and fewer foodborne illnesses. The data collection process will take some time, but it is critical that the new standard is supported by meaningful data. Of course, we will continue to analyze any positive samples for multi-drug resistance and specific serotypes to determine whether they are contributing to human illnesses.

Salmonella is the most urgent issue facing FSIS when it comes to protecting consumers and it is why we developed our Salmonella Action Plan. This plan details our strategy for reducing the number of Salmonella-related illnesses, and this enhancement to our sampling and testing programs is part of that comprehensive effort. Another part of our war on Salmonella is encouraging consumers to take steps to protect themselves from illnesses, including cooking all ground beef to 160 degrees F (poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees F). For more information on ways to keep your family Salmonella-free this summer, we invite you to check out FoodSafety.gov or AskKaren.gov before your next cookout.

Food Safety News

FSIS Issues Food Safety Advice for Storm-Lashed Eastern Seaboard

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) on Wednesday issued food safety recommendations for the eastern seaboard, which has been affected by a massive storm system that has dropped about 10 inches of rain on the region and left as many as 30,000 people without power.

Power outages from weather emergencies compromise the safety of stored food, but consumers can take steps to reduce food waste and the risk of foodborne illness. The FSIS website provides consumers with resources to keep food safe and protect themselves.

FSIS’ YouTube video “Food Safety During Power Outages” has instructions for keeping frozen and refrigerated food safe. The publication, “A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes,” can be downloaded and printed for reference during a power outage.

FSIS will provide relevant food safety information as the storm progresses from its Twitter feed @USDAFoodSafety. To get tweets about weather-related food safety issues affecting just your state, follow @XX_FSISAlert, replacing XX with your state or territory’s postal abbreviation.

Steps to follow if the power goes out:

  • Keep appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer to ensure temperatures remain food safe during a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40 degrees F or lower in the refrigerator and 0 degrees F or lower in the freezer.
  • Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags or small containers prior to a storm. These containers are small enough to fit in around the food in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold. Remember, water expands when it freezes, so don’t overfill the containers.
  • Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately — this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
  • Know where you can get dry ice or block ice.
  • Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than four hours.
  • Group foods together in the freezer — this “igloo” effect helps the food stay cold longer.
  • Avoid putting food outside in ice or snow because it attracts wild animals and/or could thaw when the sun comes out.
  • Keep a few days’ worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling.
  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
  • Place meat and poultry to one side of the freezer or on a tray to prevent cross-contamination of thawing juices.
  • Use dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible during an extended power outage. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully stocked 18-cubic-foot freezer cold for two days.

Steps to follow after a weather emergency:

  • Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40 degrees F for two hours or more.
  • Check each item separately. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch.
  • Check frozen food for ice crystals. The food in your freezer that is partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees F or below.
  • Never taste a food to decide if it’s safe.
  • When in doubt, throw it out.

Videos detailing food safety information are available in English, Spanish and American Sign Language on the FSIS YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/USDAFoodSafety. An FSIS Public Service Announcement illustrating practical food safety recommendations for handling and consuming foods stored in refrigerators and freezers during and after a power outage is available in 30- and 60-second versions at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/videos-psas/food-safety-public-service-announcements. News organizations and power companies can obtain hard copy (Beta and DVD) versions by contacting the FSIS Food Safety Education Staff at (301) 344-4757.

Food Safety News

Recall of Processed Egg Products Expanded, FSIS Releases Distribution List

Nutriom LLC of Lacey, WA, is recalling an additional 82,884 pounds of processed egg products that were produced on dates not included in the original Feb. 15 recall announcement from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

Monday’s announcement from FSIS included a 56-page distribution list of retail outlets in 46 states which may or may not have received the processed egg products manufactured by Nutriom.

The processed egg products were initially recalled in February because FSIS officials said they may be contaminated with Salmonella. The agency issued a public health alert on March 26 removing the products from commerce after the company declined to expand that initial recall. However, Nutriom agreed the following week to a partial recall of six production lots in response to the FSIS request.

Monday’s FSIS announcement stated that, “As part of the investigation in the detention and seizure of product identified in the March 26 public health alert, FSIS identified and verified USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Salmonella sample results that validated the public health safety of four of the lots included in the public health alert. As such, FSIS has determined these products do not need to be removed from commerce. With public health as the focus, Nutriom LLC has agreed to voluntarily recall the remaining product identified in the March 26, 2014 public health alert.”

Neither the agency nor the company have received reports of illnesses due to consumption of these products.

Monday’s recall expansion includes the products listed below, along with the rest of the April 14 FSIS announcement:

The following products were shipped to co-packers for incorporation into consumer-size packages:

  • 3,884-lb. super sack of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the lot code “H0613-B”
  • 1,989-lb. super sack of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the lot code “I0413-A”
  • 958-lb. super sack of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the lot code “I0413-A”
  • 4,422-lb. super sack of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the lot code “L1713-A”

The following products were packaged in consumer-sized packages:

  • 1.75-lb. packs of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with lot code 2814-A and the Julian dates “0374,” “0384,” “2683” and “2693”
  • 66-gram spray bottles of “Bak-Klene Egg Wash” with the lot code “L1013A”
  • 1.17-lb. packs of “OvaEasy UGRA, Reduced Cholesterol” with the Julian dates “3228,” “3229,” “3230,” “3231,” “3281,” “3282,” “3283,” “3284,” “3337,” “3338,” “3339” and “3340”
  • 4.5-oz. cans of “OvaEasy Whole Plain Egg” with the Julian date “2883”
  • 571-gram packs of “Vitovo Low Fat” with the Julian date “3193”
  • 1.1-lb. bags of “OvaEasy Boil-in-Bag UGR, Heat & Serve (HS)” with the Julian dates “3188”
  • 2-oz. packs of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the Julian dates “0074,” “0084,” “0094,” “0354,” “0364,” “0374,” “2243,” “2253,” “3463,” “3473” and “3483”
  • 66-gram spray bottles of “Panera Egg Wash” with the Julian dates “0144,” “0154,” “0164,” “0174,” “0214,” “0224,” “0234,” “0244,” “0284,” “0294,” “0304” and “0314”
  • 2-oz. pack of “Wise Company, Wise Blend” with the Julian date “0943”

On Feb. 15, 2014, the company recalled 226,710 pounds of processed egg products. To read the recall release, click here. The following products listed below were included in the initial recall.

The following products were shipped to co-packers for incorporation into consumer-size packages:

  • 1,383-lb. super sack of “OvaEasy Boil-in-Bag Egg Mix, Butter Flavor” with the lot code “C0513-A”
  • 2,540-lb. super sack of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the lot code “B1913-A”
  • 2,409-lb. super sack of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the lot code “B1913-B”
  • 4,712-lb. super sack of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the lot code “E0713-A,B”
  • 1,265-lb. super sack of “OvaEasy Boil-in-Bag, Heat and Serve” with the lot code “F1813-A”
  • 4,155-lb. super sack of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the lot code “I1113-A”
  • 6,132-lb. super sack of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg, Cage Free” with the lot code “J2913-A”
  • 9,345-lb. super sack of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg, Cage Free” with the lot code “A1414-A”

The following products were packaged in consumer-sized packages:

  • 3.06-lb. bags of “OvaEasy Boil-in-Bag Egg Mix, Butter Flavor” with the Julian dates “3074” and “3075”
  • 2.34-lb. bags of “OvaEasy Boil-in-Bag, Reduced Cholesterol” with the Julian dates “3122,” “3123,” “3124,” “3127,” “3128” and “3129”
  • 4.5-oz. cans of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the Julian date “2903,” “1343” and “2893”
  • 4-oz. bags of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the Julian dates “0853” and “0863”
  • 4.5-oz. bags of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the Julian dates “0853,” “0863” and “0873”
  • 1.75-lb. packs of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the Julian dates “0813,” “1083,”  “1093,” “1433,” “1443,” “1573,” “1723,” “2063,” “2163,” “2173,” “2183” “2243,” “2253,” “2183,” “2533,” “2543,” “2553,” “2563,” “2623,” “2633,”“2673,” “2683,” “2693” and “2703”
  • 3.2-oz. bags of “Wise Company, Wise Blend” with the Julian dates “0953” and “0993”
  • 2-oz. packs of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the Julian dates “2073,” “2063,” “2163,” “2603,” “2613” “2903,” “2913,” “2953,” “2963,” “3173” and “3183”
  • 3.2-oz. packs of “Wise Company, Wise Blend” with the Julian dates “1133,” “1143,” “1153,” “1163” and “1353”
  • 1.17-lb. bags of “OvaEasy UGRA Boil-in-Bag, Reduced Cholesterol” with the Julian dates “3129,” “3130” and “3137”
  • 1.75-lb. packs of “OvaEasy” with the Julian dates “2163,” “2173,” “2183” and “2243”
  • 4.5-oz. packs of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the Julian date “2563”
  • 1.1-lb. packs of “OvaEasy UGR H&S” with the Julian dates “3173,” “3174,” “3175,” “3177,” “3178,” “3179,” “3180,” “3181,” “3182,” “3183,” “3194,” “3195,” “3196,” “3197,” “3198” and “3199”
  • 1.1-lb. packs of “G0213-A UGR H&S” with the Julian dates “3186,” “3187,” “3189,” “3190” and “3191”
  • 128-gram packs of “Egg Crystal, Sea Salt and Pepper” with the Julian date “3033”
  • 128-gram packs of “Egg Crystal, Sausage and Herb” with the Julian date “3043”
  • 1.17-lb. packs of “OvaEasy UGR-A Reduced Cholesterol” with the Julian dates “3141,” “3142,” “3148,” “3149” and “3150”
  • 3-oz. packs of “eFoods Plain Whole Egg” with the Julian dates of “3173” and “3183”

On March 26, 2014, FSIS and the company did not reach agreement pertaining to products subject to expansion of the initial recall. FSIS acted within the scope of its authority and responsibility and issued a public health alert. To read the public health alert, click here.

The dried egg products in the recall expansion were produced from January 2013 through January 2014 and bear the establishment number “INSPECTED EGG PRODUCTS PLANT 21493G” inside the USDA Mark of Inspection. These products were shipped nationwide and to U.S. military installations in the United States and abroad, and to Mexico.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts four to seven days. Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider.

FSIS inspects egg products under the Egg Products Inspection Act. FDA typically takes jurisdiction of egg products after they leave the egg facility if they are incorporated into FDA-regulated products. In this case, USDA is leading the recall rather than FDA, because the products are in consumer packages with an identifiable USDA Mark of Inspection, and FSIS had jurisdiction over the product when the contamination occurred. FSIS and FDA are continuing to work together to ensure food safety, and the management of this recall is such an example.

Consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact Julie Cuffee, Customer Service Representative, at (360) 413-7269, ext. 101.

Food Safety News

NIOSH Director Says FSIS Administrator Misinterpreted Line-Speed Study

John Howard, director of the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), is concerned that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has misinterpreted the findings of a recent study evaluating worker safety at poultry-processing plants.

At the request of FSIS, NIOSH evaluated the effects of waivers of line-speed restrictions on employee health, with a focus on musculoskeletal disorders and acute traumatic injuries. NIOSH released its findings at the end of March, and Al Almanza, FSIS administrator, subsequently wrote a blog post on the study.

In a letter to Almanza dated April 7, Howard pointed out three aspects of the FSIS blog that he found not wholly accurate.

Almanza’s statement that NIOSH “made several recommendations to improve worker safety at this facility, but slowing the evisceration line speed was not among them,” is a misleading one, Howard wrote.

“Line speed affects the periodicity of repetitive and forceful movements, which are key causes of musculoskeletal disorders. Many of the NIOSH recommendations address the design of job tasks to minimize these factors,” his letter stated.

Second, Howard stated that Almanza’s statement that “the increase in evisceration line speed was not a significant factor in worker safety” was not a conclusion actually drawn by NIOSH.

Lastly, Howard felt that the FSIS administrator had generalized findings from the one plant studied even though the reported stated that it “may not be representative of other poultry processing plants.”

“In sum, no conclusion can be drawn from this one [Health Hazard Evaluation] regarding the effect of line speed changes on worker health,” Howard stated.

Food Safety News

NIOSH Director Says FSIS Administrator Misinterpreted Line-Speed Study

John Howard, director of the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), is concerned that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has misinterpreted the findings of a recent study evaluating worker safety at poultry-processing plants.

At the request of FSIS, NIOSH evaluated the effects of waivers of line-speed restrictions on employee health, with a focus on musculoskeletal disorders and acute traumatic injuries. NIOSH released its findings at the end of March, and Al Almanza, FSIS administrator, subsequently wrote a blog post on the study.

In a letter to Almanza dated April 7, Howard pointed out three aspects of the FSIS blog that he found not wholly accurate.

Almanza’s statement that NIOSH “made several recommendations to improve worker safety at this facility, but slowing the evisceration line speed was not among them,” is a misleading one, Howard wrote.

“Line speed affects the periodicity of repetitive and forceful movements, which are key causes of musculoskeletal disorders. Many of the NIOSH recommendations address the design of job tasks to minimize these factors,” his letter stated.

Second, Howard stated that Almanza’s statement that “the increase in evisceration line speed was not a significant factor in worker safety” was not a conclusion actually drawn by NIOSH.

Lastly, Howard felt that the FSIS administrator had generalized findings from the one plant studied even though the reported stated that it “may not be representative of other poultry processing plants.”

“In sum, no conclusion can be drawn from this one [Health Hazard Evaluation] regarding the effect of line speed changes on worker health,” Howard stated.

Food Safety News

WA Egg Processor Responds to FSIS Request With Partial Recall

Nutriom LLC of Lacey, WA, has agreed to a partial recall of six production lots of its processed egg products in response to a request last week from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service.

The family-owned business had initially declined to comply with the FSIS request last week, prompting that agency to issue a public health alert to remove Nutriom products from commerce.

The company released a statement on Saturday noting that, while products from the six lots were tested at a FSIS-approved laboratory and found to be safe, Nutriom owners determined that a technical, non-food safety related error occurred.

“Based upon our research, we concluded that there is no scientific or legal basis for us to further expand the recall beyond these six lots,” the statement reads, adding, “We presented FSIS with substantial supporting information on our production practices, including a series of laboratory test results from both private and federal government laboratories confirming microbiological safety. For reasons that remain unclear to us, these arguments were rejected by FSIS.”

The company first voluntarily recalled some product in February after an alleged discrepancy in laboratory results was discovered. Then, last week, FSIS requested that the company include additional products in the recall.

“Because the product was not produced in accordance with FSIS requirements, it is unfit for human consumption,” the agency stated.

According to the company’s March 29 statement, “The request was based upon irregularities in recordkeeping that were the responsibility of an individual no longer employed by the company. There were no suggestions of any food safety problems associated with the product, but we decided to fully cooperate with the agency.”

The statement continues, “It is important to emphasize that Nutriom has never encountered even a suggestion of any injury or illnesses associated with consumption of its products. FSIS inspectors had a continuous presence during production since the company’s founding. Nutriom believes it would be doing a disservice to its customers to recall and destroy wholesome egg products under these circumstances.”

Nutriom developed and has a patent pending on a new drying technology for dehydrating eggs. The pure-egg product, which contains no added chemicals or preservatives, is said to function and taste like fresh eggs when it is mixed with water and cooked.

The U.S. military is reportedly one of Nutriom’s largest customers, along with others working in remote locations where space, weight and refrigeration are issues.

A list of all recalled Nutriom products can be found here.

FSIS inspects egg products under the Egg Products Inspection Act. FDA typically takes jurisdiction of egg products after they leave the egg facility if they are incorporated into FDA-regulated products. In this case, USDA handled the original recall rather than FDA because the products are in consumer packages with an identifiable USDA Mark of Inspection, and FSIS had jurisdiction over the product when the contamination occurred.

Food Safety News

FSIS Issues Public Health Alert After WA Firm Declines to Expand Recall of Processed Egg Products

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a public health alert on Wednesday because Nutriom LLC of Lacey, WA declined to expand its Feb. 15, 2014, recall to include an additional 118,541 pounds of processed egg products for which there is reason to conclude that they are unfit for human consumption.

The request for expansion was based on evidence collected during an ongoing investigation conducted by FSIS at the establishment. The company has refused to recall the additional processed egg products. As a consequence, FSIS intends to take appropriate action to remove the products from commerce.

FSIS issued the original recall because the company allegedly recorded false laboratory results. The company allegedly produced negative laboratory results for Salmonella when the results were actually positive, or reported that sampling had occurred when, in fact, no microbial testing was performed.

FSIS requested the company to include additional products, but it declined. Because the product was not produced in accordance with FSIS requirements, it is unfit for human consumption.

The following products were shipped to co-packers for incorporation into consumer-size packages:

  • 3,884-lb. super sack of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the lot code “H0613-B”
  • 1,031-lb. super sack of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the lot code “I0413-A”
  • 958-lb. super sack of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the lot code “I0413-A”
  • 4,422-lb. super sack of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the lot code “L1713-A”

The following products were packaged in consumer-sized packages:

  • 1.75-lb. packs of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the Julian dates “0374,” “0384,” “2683” and “2693”
  • 66-gram spray bottles of “Bak-Klene Egg Wash” with the lot code “L1013A”
  • 1.17-lb. packs of “OvaEasy UGRA, Reduced Cholesterol” with the Julian dates “3129,” “3228,” “3229,” “3230,” “3231,” “3281,” “3282,” “3283,” “3284,” “3337,” “3338,” “3339” and “3340”
  • 4.5-oz. cans of “OvaEasy Whole Plain Egg” with the Julian date “2883”
  • 571-gram packs of “Vitovo Low Fat” with the Julian date “3193”
  • 1.1-lb. bags of “OvaEasy Boil-in-Bag UGR, Heat & Serve (HS)” with the Julian dates “3161,” “3162,” “3182,” “3183,” “3188,” “3201,” “3202,” “3203,” “3204,” “3205,” “3208,” “3209,” “3210,” “3211,” “3212,” “3213,” “3220,” “3221” and “3222”
  • 2-oz. packs of “OvaEasy Plain Whole Egg” with the Julian dates “0074,” “0084,” “0094,” “0354,” “0364,” “0374,” “2243,” “2253,” “2953,” “2963,” “3463,” “3473” and “3483”
  • 66-gram spray bottles of “Panera Egg Wash” with the Julian dates “0104,” “0154,” “0164,” “0174,” “0214,” “0224,” “0234,” “0244,” “0284,” “0294,” “0304” and “0314”
  • 2-oz. pack of “Wise Company, Wise Blend” with the Julian date “0943”

On Feb. 15, 2014, the company recalled 226,710 pounds of processed egg products. To read that recall release, click here.

The dried egg products were produced from May 2013 through January 2014 and bear the establishment number “INSPECTED EGG PRODUCTS PLANT 21493G” inside the USDA Mark of Inspection. These products were shipped nationwide and to U.S. military installations in the United States and abroad, and to Mexico.

FSIS inspects egg products under the Egg Products Inspection Act. FDA typically takes jurisdiction of egg products after they leave the egg facility if they are incorporated into FDA-regulated products. In this case, USDA handled the original recall rather than FDA because the products are in consumer packages with an identifiable USDA Mark of Inspection, and FSIS had jurisdiction over the product when the contamination occurred.

FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare and consume egg products that have been cooked to a temperature of 160 degrees F. The only way to confirm that egg products are cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature.

Food Safety News