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Managing Moisture to Prevent Pests in Food Facilities

(Patricia Hottel is technical director at McCloud Services in South Elgin, IL, a leader in integrated pest management solutions serving the food supply chain of custody.)

The improper handling of water and organic debris in food facilities during food preparation and cleaning can contribute to pest problems such as cockroaches and small flies. The proper management of water in food facilities is crucial in reducing pest survival and contributes to the overall image of your brand.

Below are tips that can be helpful in reducing pest success in commercial kitchens due to moisture:

Beware of high-pressure hoses. High-pressure hoses are a more energy-efficient and less labor-intensive method for cleaning floors but have a tendency to push food debris into inaccessible areas. In addition, power washing can lead to more rapid deterioration of floor coatings and tile grout, increasing the attractiveness of floors for pest development. Mopping helps reduce these issues and is preferred. If mopping cannot be done, raising equipment off the floor can help reduce the organic debris collection points underneath the equipment. Where such design changes are not possible, place these hard-to-clean areas on a regular cleaning schedule to insure that food deposits are not available for pest development. In addition, placing equipment on wheels will help provide additional access for cleaning staff.

Use epoxy grouts instead of tile grout. Tile grout can deteriorate overtime allowing for organic material to accumulate between and underneath floor tiles. Epoxy grouts are now available, which are more resistant to high-pressure hoses than other grouting materials, and will last longer.

Clean floor mats daily. Floor mats are an area where moisture and organic debris can accumulate. Mats should be picked up each night to allow for proper floor cleaning and drying.

Clean ramps installed to move carts in and out of proofers, freezers and coolers. Areas sometimes neglected during the cleaning process are ramps. This can be another point where organic debris can be pushed during power washing of floors. Ramps either need to be tightly sealed or removed on a regular basis for proper cleaning.

Keep countertop cracks clean and sealed. Serving counters are designed with numerous cracks and crevices. It is hard to design them without some cracks and crevices and they are subject to lots of water and food spills. Place these countertops on a proper maintenance schedule to insure joints and edges are properly sealed. Sometimes what looks like sealant is caked food debris. Add a little moisture and we can have fruit fly or other small fly issues. Keep countertop cracks clean and sealed.

Avoid using partition walls. Partition walls, especially along cook lines, can be an area of cockroach harborage. A more open layout without partition walls is advised whenever possible.

Use flexible gas lines for cooking equipment. Flexible gas lines for cooking equipment are recommended so that the area behind the equipment can be accessed and cleaned. Due to the warmth of this area, it is an area common for cockroach activity.

Ensure that all floor drains can be easily accessed for cleaning. Unfortunately, floor drains used for water management can be located under equipment and cabinets. Hard-to-reach drains can be difficult to inspect and clean. If cabinets are located above a drain which staff cannot easily access for cleaning cut a hole in the cabinet so it can be accessed. Equipment on wheels can also help staff access floor drains. Special drain caps are now available to help seal drains to allow water flow into the drain while excluding pests.

Food Safety News

Congressman Moves to Prevent FDA from Changing Cheese Regulations

Last week, the world of artisan cheesemaking sounded some serious alarm over a stance that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had seemingly adopted that would disallow the centuries-old practice of aging cheese on wooden shelving.

In the aftermath, FDA apparently backed off from its position. But that’s not stopping Vermont Congressman Peter Welch from moving to head off the agency before it can implement any such regulations.

Welch, a Democrat, has introduced an amendment to the agriculture appropriations bill for fiscal year 2015 that would expressly prohibit FDA from using any funds to prevent or limit the use of wooden shelves for aging cheese.

In a statement reiterating his plans to introduce the amendment, Welch said that FDA’s clarification on their stance directly contradicts an earlier statement they had put out, including information in an email to his office.

“Artisan cheese makers cannot afford to live with this threat to their livelihoods caused by regulatory ambiguity at the FDA,” Welch wrote.

The charges of ambiguity are the culmination of communications from FDA over a span of five months, starting in January 2014 with an email from FDA Egg and Dairy Branch Chief Monica Metz to officials at the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

The New York officials were asking FDA to clarify its position on wooden shelving after an artisan cheese producer in the state had been told that she should replace her wooden shelving with another material after consecutive FDA inspections found Listeria monocytogenes contamination on the shelves.

Metz emailed a document to the officials stating that wooden shelving did not conform to current good manufacturing practices, which require materials capable of being adequately cleaned and properly maintained. Wood did not meet those criteria, Metz stated, because its porous nature may foster bacteria growth and prevent adequate cleaning and sanitizing.

The document also cited a number of recent studies concluding that Listeria monocytogenes could survive cleaning and sanitation on wooden boards.

In the email containing the document, Metz implied that the stance was the agency’s “policy on aging cheese on wooden boards” and mentioned that it had been cleared for release.

Since January, the New York Department of Agriculture has been in dialogue with FDA about the position, and the agency has allegedly been unwilling to change its stance, according to New York Department of Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball.

“I am very concerned about the damage this policy could do to these businesses, not only in New York, but across the country, and respectfully request a suspension of any enforcement actions until a full science-based peer review is completed,” Ball wrote.

In March, Welch’s office received an email from FDA stating that wooden shelving for aging cheese was not permitted and never had been. The email reiterated Metz’s points about wood not meeting good manufacturing practice standards due to its porous nature.

Cheesemakers began a public pushback in the first week of June, gaining widespread attention by the next week. Headlines interpreted the situation as FDA waging a war on the artisan cheese world.

On June 11, FDA issued a clarification statement that the agency was not banning the use of wooden shelving for aging cheese, adding that the agency had never taken enforcement action solely on the grounds of a cheesemaker using wooden shelves.

“The communication was not intended as an official policy statement, but was provided as background information on the use of wooden shelving for aging cheeses and as an analysis of related scientific publications,” the statement read. “Further, we recognize that the language used in this communication may have appeared more definitive than it should have, in light of the agency’s actual practices on this issue.”

A spokesman for the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets told Food Safety News they were satisfied with that clarification.

Welch, however, said he was pushing forward with the amendment to the agriculture appropriations bill to guarantee that artisan cheesemakers don’t face any regulatory scrutiny for continuing to use wooden shelves.

A spokesman for Welch’s office suggested to Food Safety News on Friday that the congressman remains dubious regarding FDA’s position: “The email our office got [from FDA] lays out their position pretty clearly.”

Food Safety News

Supco Decision: FDA-Approved Label Does Not Prevent False Advertising Claims

Stewart and Lynda Rae Resnick, who once bought and sold The Franklin Mint, may hit another payday after the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Thursday that their Pom Wonderful juice company can sue Coca-Cola for falsely advertising a pomegranate drink.

In a case that’s significant for determining what’s allowed when it comes to labeling food and beverages, Pom Wonderful got the legal green light to go after Coke for mislabeling a drink that is 99.4-percent apple and grape juice. Coke calls it “Pomegranate Blueberry” and that’s misleading, according to Pom Wonderful, since the Coke product is 0.3-percent pomegranate, 0.2-percent blueberry and 0.1-percent raspberry juice.

By comparison, Pom’s blueberry pomegranate juice is 85-percent pomegranate and 15-percent blueberry juices from concentrate and natural flavors.

Coke’s position was that the approval for its label by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) precluded false advertising claims under the Lanham Act. Lower courts had agreed that the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) precluded the Lanham Act on false advertising.

But the lower courts got it wrong. The Supreme Court said the FDCA and the Lanham Act are supposed to work in concert. POM’s claim against Coke can go forward. The FDCA does not preclude Lanham Act lawsuits.

In the 8-0 decision, the high court said there is nothing in the text, history, or structure of the FDCA or the Lanham Act to indicate that Congress intended the use of one to preclude the other. (Justice Stephen Breyer recused himself from the case.)

Instead, the court said the FDCA and the Lanham Act complement each other in the federal regulation of misleading food and beverage labels and that competitors can bring false advertising claims for food and beverage products with labels approved by FDA.

In addition to Pom Wonderful, the Resnicks own Fuji Water and Teleflora.

Food Safety News

Supco Decision: FDA-Approved Label Does Not Prevent False Advertising Claims

Stewart and Lynda Rae Resnick, who once bought and sold The Franklin Mint, may hit another payday after the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Thursday that their Pom Wonderful juice company can sue Coca-Cola for falsely advertising a pomegranate drink.

In a case that’s significant for determining what’s allowed when it comes to labeling food and beverages, Pom Wonderful got the legal green light to go after Coke for mislabeling a drink that is 99.4-percent apple and grape juice. Coke calls it “Pomegranate Blueberry” and that’s misleading, according to Pom Wonderful, since the Coke product is 0.3-percent pomegranate, 0.2-percent blueberry and 0.1-percent raspberry juice.

By comparison, Pom’s blueberry pomegranate juice is 85-percent pomegranate and 15-percent blueberry juices from concentrate and natural flavors.

Coke’s position was that the approval for its label by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) precluded false advertising claims under the Lanham Act. Lower courts had agreed that the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) precluded the Lanham Act on false advertising.

But the lower courts got it wrong. The Supreme Court said the FDCA and the Lanham Act are supposed to work in concert. POM’s claim against Coke can go forward. The FDCA does not preclude Lanham Act lawsuits.

In the 8-0 decision, the high court said there is nothing in the text, history, or structure of the FDCA or the Lanham Act to indicate that Congress intended the use of one to preclude the other. (Justice Stephen Breyer recused himself from the case.)

Instead, the court said the FDCA and the Lanham Act complement each other in the federal regulation of misleading food and beverage labels and that competitors can bring false advertising claims for food and beverage products with labels approved by FDA.

In addition to Pom Wonderful, the Resnicks own Fuji Water and Teleflora.

Food Safety News

Supco Decision: FDA-Approved Label Does Not Prevent False Advertising Claims

Stewart and Lynda Rae Resnick, who once bought and sold The Franklin Mint, may hit another payday after the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Thursday that their Pom Wonderful juice company can sue Coca-Cola for falsely advertising a pomegranate drink.

In a case that’s significant for determining what’s allowed when it comes to labeling food and beverages, Pom Wonderful got the legal green light to go after Coke for mislabeling a drink that is 99.4-percent apple and grape juice. Coke calls it “Pomegranate Blueberry” and that’s misleading, according to Pom Wonderful, since the Coke product is 0.3-percent pomegranate, 0.2-percent blueberry and 0.1-percent raspberry juice.

By comparison, Pom’s blueberry pomegranate juice is 85-percent pomegranate and 15-percent blueberry juices from concentrate and natural flavors.

Coke’s position was that the approval for its label by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) precluded false advertising claims under the Lanham Act. Lower courts had agreed that the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) precluded the Lanham Act on false advertising.

But the lower courts got it wrong. The Supreme Court said the FDCA and the Lanham Act are supposed to work in concert. POM’s claim against Coke can go forward. The FDCA does not preclude Lanham Act lawsuits.

In the 8-0 decision, the high court said there is nothing in the text, history, or structure of the FDCA or the Lanham Act to indicate that Congress intended the use of one to preclude the other. (Justice Stephen Breyer recused himself from the case.)

Instead, the court said the FDCA and the Lanham Act complement each other in the federal regulation of misleading food and beverage labels and that competitors can bring false advertising claims for food and beverage products with labels approved by FDA.

In addition to Pom Wonderful, the Resnicks own Fuji Water and Teleflora.

Food Safety News

Chile: “We will seek free transit regulations to prevent port strikes”

TGF-FruitImageInterview with Juan Carolus Brown, new president of Fedefruta
Chile: “We will seek free transit regulations to prevent port strikes”

Great challenges are ahead for the new president of Fedefruta, Juan Carolus Brown, who replaced Cristián Allendes. His team was formed yesterday, with the latter in it, as well as Felipe Garcia-Huidobro (first Vice President), Jorge Valenzuela (second Vice President), María Inés Figari (secretary), Antonio Walker Prieto, Domingo Romero, Ramón Achurra Larraín and Claudio Vergara, who will serve as head treasurer.

In an interview to Estrategia, the civil engineer from the Catholic University, MBA from the University of Chicago and grower (as part of the family business tradition), revealed the strategies he will adopt while in command at Fedefruta.

What are the main challenges you will face as president of FEDEFRUTA?

“In the next two years, we would like some regulation or free transit law for perishable goods to be approved, because we have had to face two port strikes during times when high fruit volumes are usually shipped, causing huge losses which will hopefully not happen again. Regarding labour issues, we want the temporary worker statutes to be approved; a project which has been presented, but that should be pushed forward so that people can be hired whenever they are needed. We wish to come to some agreement about the immigration of people willing to work in the agricultural sector, and we have also been summoned by the agricultural authority to assist in the modernisation of SAG.”

What do you think about the Government’s plan to reform the water regulations?

“We are primary users of water and we use those rights on a daily basis, unlike other sectors. We will try making sure that this doesn’t change.”

What do you mean with sectors that do not use their water rights allocated?

“Concerns arise from mining companies, which have water rights that they do not use, but are kept for future projects. And that should, in my opinion, be subject to regulation.”

How could the water ownership issue be resolved?

“The problem is that laws give too much power to mining firms; their water seems to be prioritised, and they are often given rights even when the channels are supposed to be depleted.”

Is the sector still hampered by droughts? It has been said rainy months are coming.

“Droughts are not over as soon as it starts to rain, and until reservoirs reach their normal levels, we cannot say that the problem has been overcome. We would need a cycle of about four or five years of rainfall for the crisis to be definitely resolved.”

Meanwhile, the dollar has reached a value of 550 pesos. Will this affect you? 

“A dollar a little above the 550 pesos is better than at 450 pesos; we are happy with this. But the issue is similar to that of the droughts. We will have higher revenue in pesos than in previous years; however, for the financial situation of fruit exporters to normalise, the exchange rate levels need to stay like this for a while.”

What are the plans for the new fruit season?

“The frosts we had in September 2013 caused some problems, especially in the stone fruit sector, and those that survived will have a very good next season, with 20% higher prices and a production 15% larger.”

Source: Fedefruta

Publication date: 4/18/2014

 

FreshPlaza.com

FDA Proposes Rule to Prevent Food Contamination

WASHINGTON — The FDA proposed a rule Friday that would require the largest food businesses in the U.S. and abroad to take steps to prevent contamination attempts intended to inflict massive harm to public health. The rule is required under the Food Safety Modernization Act.

While the FDA is unaware of any attempt of this kind being made, the rule is intended as a preventive measure.

Under the proposed rule, a food facility would be required to have a written food defense plan that addresses significant vulnerabilities in its food production process. Facilities would have to identify and implement strategies to address these vulnerabilities, establish monitoring procedures and corrective actions, verify that the system is working, ensure that personnel assigned to the vulnerable areas receive appropriate training and maintain certain records.

There are exemptions based on the size of the business, sales and certain types of operations such as holding or repacking food, with certain exceptions. The rule doesn’t apply to farms and food for animals. The FDA seeks public comment through March 31. Implementation would range from one to three years, based on business size.

Supermarket News

Study: E. Coli Cattle Vaccination Could Prevent 83 Percent of Human Cases

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that using E. coli vaccines on cattle could prevent up to 83 percent of human infections. By combining veterinary, human and molecular data, the authors created a model of the pathogen’s transmission from cattle to humans and used it to estimate the human impact of vaccinating cattle.

The vaccine reduces the level of E. coli in a cow’s feces. But there are some cows that shed a particularly high level of the pathogen, and researchers at the Royal Veterinary College, University of Glasgow and University of Edinburgh say that, although these “supershedders” are relatively uncommon, they’re the main source of E. coli contamination and transmission to people.

“In our data, shedding below [1,000 colony-forming units per gram of] feces was found in 86 percent of samples, but it accounted for less than one percent of the total bacteria shed,” the researchers stated. And the strains most associated with human infections were above 1,300 colony-forming units per gram, they added. “In our simulations, eliminating just the 12 percent highest shedding densities produces a 50 percent drop in the frequency of shedding in cattle, but an 83 percent drop in human cases.”

Previously, there have been studies of the vaccine’s efficacy in animals. David Renter, an epidemiologist with Kansas State University, led research published last year that found that the vaccine can reduce E. coli levels by more than 50 percent in most cattle and by 75 percent in supershedders.

“Studies like mine only measure the impact in cattle,” Renter says. “The outcomes that we’re most interested in are ones that make sure fewer people get sick. Those are incredibly costly or sometimes impossible to do, so we need to rely on these modeling studies to pull the data together.”

Epidemiologist and veterinarian Stuart Reid was the senior author on the study from the U.K. Both he and Renter repeat the adage that, “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” In an email to Food Safety News, Reid acknowledged that the study was based specifically on the Scottish farming environment, and that the benefits of vaccinating cattle may vary from country to country. However, the team “thought it important to lay out the ecological and biological justification for intervention,” he noted.

There are currently two E. coli 0157 vaccines on the market – Canada’s Econiche, which blocks the protein that allows E. coli to colonize in a cow’s gut, and America’s Epitopix SRP, which prevents the pathogen’s iron uptake. Both are under limited licensing in the U.S., but Econiche has been fully licensed in Canada.

Despite its availability, less than five percent of Canada’s market is using Econiche, says Rick Culbert, president of the One Health initiative at the company that makes Econiche. This is probably because farmers currently bear the full cost of vaccination but don’t necessarily see any benefit.

“Unlike a lot of other zoonotic diseases, where both animals and humans contract the disease, with E. coli 0157, cattle are an asymptomatic carrier,” Culbert says. “The only reason to vaccinate cattle isn’t to benefit cattle, it’s to reduce the human health risk.”

“We often describe this as a public health vaccine,” says Jennifer Shea, Bioniche’s vice president of communications. “We talk about it being a cattle vaccine, so you automatically think it’s an agriculture issue, but it’s for the good of the public.”

Culbert says that those using their vaccine in Canada tend to be smaller operations that raise, slaughter and sell their own cattle.

“For them, the vaccine is almost a form of liability insurance for them to make sure their brand isn’t implicated with this bacteria,” he noted.

Another Econiche client is a dairy farm that also grows produce and wants to protect it from possible contamination through manure or irrigation water. Researchers have also pointed out the possible impact in terms of exposure at petting zoos or simply living and working in rural areas.

Microbiologist Michele Jay-Russell studies foodborne pathogens, and, although she doesn’t work directly with beef, she is interested in how the vaccine could impact E. coli’s environmental dissemination into irrigation water and onto produce.

“Among all the pre-harvest interventions – like grass vs. grain-fed or pasture vs. feedlot – it’s the one that has the most promise,” she says.

Renter agrees. “It would be difficult to show directly how [the vaccine] impacts all those things, but it just makes a lot of sense,” he says. “If you reduce the level in cattle, you’re going to reduce the impacts through a variety of potential human exposures.”

Getting E. coli vaccines to be used more broadly would probably take some kind of government or industry intervention, but no one can predict the specifics beyond that.

“Whether you consume beef or not, you benefit from any cattle being vaccinated,” Culber says. ”About a third of the people who get ill from E. coli are associated with the consumption of contaminated beef, about a third are associated with contaminated produce, and the other third is associated with everything from contaminated water to direct contact to crop contamination.”

That’s important to remember because, he says, “If you try to push this on the beef industry, they’re only associated with a third of the illness.”

Food Safety News

Early-warning system to prevent fishery collapse

Sep. 16, 2013 — Threats from overfishing can be detected early enough to save fisheries– and livelihoods –with minimal adjustments in harvesting practices, a new study by researchers in the University of Minnesota’s College of Biological Sciences shows.

The work indicates that a healthy fishery can be maintained the way a skillful captain steers an oil tanker: by small course corrections that prevent disaster far ahead.

The study, by Ecology, Evolution and Behavior (EEB) graduate student Matt Burgess and co-advisors Stephen Polasky (EEB and Applied Economics in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences) and David Tilman (EEB), was published on September 16 in the Early Edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Specifically, the work demonstrates how extinction and overfishing threats from multispecies fisheries can be identified decades before valuable species are over-harvested and populations decline.

Most of the world’s large fisheries use nets or lines with multiple hooks, which catch multiple species simultaneously and have serious ecological consequences. Past population declines and current increases in harvest rates can be used to assess current threats of overfishing and extinction, but this approach doesn’t apply to future threats. By predicting future threats, the researchers’ new method would enable conservation measures to prevent overfishing and extinction.

The “Eventual Threat Index,” presented in the study, uses minimal data to identify the conditions that would eventually cause a species to be harvested at an unsustainable rate. The central premise of the Eventual Threat Index is that because multispecies fisheries impact many species with the same effort, the long-term fates of all species can be predicted if the fate of any one species can be predicted. In any multispecies fishery, there are a few ‘key’ profitable or managed species, which are easy to identify and whose socio-economic importance makes their long-term harvest rate somewhat predictable. Threats to other species are predicted by measuring their harvest rates relative to these key species.

“The data we collect includes estimates of the relative population sizes, catch rates and the growth rates of different fish populations,” Burgess says. “This index uses what we know about what tends to happen to economically important fish to predict the fate of other species caught along with them.”

The approach was tested on eight Pacific tuna and billfish populations; four of which have been identified recently by conventional methods as in decline and threatened with overfishing. The study found that the severe depletion of all four populations could have been predicted in the 1950s using the Eventual Threat Index. These results demonstrate that species threatened by human harvesting can be identified much earlier, providing time for adjustments in harvesting practices before consequences become severe and fishery closures or other socioeconomically disruptive interventions are required to protect species.

Burgess says the index is easy and inexpensive to use. He hopes fisheries will adopt it soon.

“In many fisheries, managers could calculate this index tomorrow using the description in the paper and data they have already collected,” Burgess says.

The study is based on marine fisheries but could be applied to multispecies fisheries in large bodies of fresh water, such as Lake Superior.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News