All posts by Lisa Strickland

CDC fowl warning: Hundreds sickened by backyard flocks

More than a third of the 372 people infected with Salmonella from backyard flocks so far this year are children younger than 5 years old, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting eight separate outbreaks across 47 states. ….

From Jan. 4 through May 25, the CDC had confirmation of 372 people with Salmonella infections linked to contact with live poultry in backyard settings. Of those, 71 had symptoms so severe they required hospitalization. Thirty-six percent of the infected people are children younger than 5 years old.

Public health officials interviewed 228 of the sick people and 190, or 83 percent, reported contact with live poultry in the week before they became ill……

While contracting Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter and other bacteria from live poultry is relatively easy, the preventive measures recommended by public health officials are also easy, but must be practiced diligently. Tips include:

  • Wash hands after handling live poultry.
  • Do not allow live chickens, ducks, and geese in the house, especially the kitchen.
  • Do not allow children younger than 5 years to handle or touch live poultry and eggs without supervision.
  • Do not snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live poultry.

Read more. Food Safety News June 2, 2017

Study: Effective Handwashing Does Not Require Hot Water

Handwashing is a hot topic in the world of food safety. Lack of proper handwashing procedures in food service and other sectors can lead to the spread of foodborne illness. Are current handwashing rules in need of updating? A new study suggests it may be time.

According to research released by Rutgers University, cool water is apparently just as effective as hot water in terms of washing away harmful bacteria. For the study, 21 volunteers had their hands covered with a harmless bacteria multiple times over a 6 month period. Each time, the volunteers were instructed to wash their hands at varying water temperatures—60 °, 79 ° or 100 °. They were also asked to use 0.5 ml, 1 ml or 2 ml volumes of soap.

Read more.

How safe are those home-delivery meal kits?

Research shows food safety gaps in home-delivery meal kits

Failure of cold-chain results in ready-to-cook meal kits with ‘microbial loads off the charts’

CHICAGO — A Rutgers University professor Thursday poured some cold water on those trendy ready-to-cook dinner packages being delivered to homes across America, especially those with meat included.

Speaking on the final day of  the 2017 Food Safety Summit in a session on “Home Delivery,” the professor of human ecology presented results of a Rutgers-Tennessee State University study that looked into the integrity of home-delivered dinners. Professor Bill Hallman said researchers placed orders for delivery of 169 meal kits, including entrees of 271 meat items, 235 seafood items, 133 game items, and 39 poultry items. What the researchers  found raised concerns about pathogens, packaging, labeling and cold-chain integrity.

The study also involved 1,002 interviews with consumers, and review of 427 domestic food delivery vendor websites.

Read more

Agar Art Contest!


Thank you to everyone who created a log phase masterpiece, to our esteemed judges, and to everyone who voted for People’s Choice on Facebook! We received 117 amazing entries from 26 countries and 17 U.S. states. Special congratulations to our winners! View this year’s winners, as well as winners from last year and other notable 2015 and 2016 entries, in the Agar Art Gallery at Microbe 2016.

1st Place – The first race

The first race copy

Fertilization is the first competitive event of plant and animal life. It is a process involving the fusion of male and female gametes to form a zygote. Millions of spermatozoa race and compete to be the first to penetrate the egg, but only one of them finally meets the egg and creates a zygote leading to the development of an embryo.

In this artwork, I used four bacteria as paint and a selective agar medium as canvas. The red colored paint was Staphylococcus aureus, which is an opportunistic pathogen in both humans and animals. The green color was Staphylococcus xylosus, a commensal organism in human skin, the white was Staphylococcus hyicus, an animal pathogen responsible for grassy pig disease. The yellow colored organism was Corynebacterium glutamicum, a non-pathogenic but industrially important bacterium for production of amino acids such as L-glutamate and L-lysine. Other colors were from mixture of two or more of these four organisms.

Md Zohorul Islam, DVM
Graduate Student
Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Department of Microbiology and Infection Control, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark

 

To view 2nd and 3rd places, click HERE.

Food Allergy Training is Slowly Being Mandated Across the U.S.


As I’m sure most of you know, we have seen an increase in food allergies in the United States over the past two decades. The science and theories about why that is happening is a topic for another day. However, the rise in food allergies has had a major impact on restaurants and food service establishments. As we see an increase in food allergies, we need to see an increase in food allergy training. This is happening, slowly, in food service across the country. Over the past few years, more allergy training courses and certifications have been developed, and regulations for training and notifications have been put into place. But more needs to be done to educate and train food service employees around safely and successfully accommodating food allergies.

Let’s review some basic food allergy statistics. Approximately 15 million people in the United States have food allergies, including 9 million adults and 6 million children. The 8 most common allergies – including milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts – make up 90% of American’s food allergies. Keep in mind, though, there are many other foods that people may be allergic to. In fact, there are over 160 foods that have been identified as an allergen, including some spices. The CDC has found that between 1997 – 2007 there was an 18% increase in allergy rates in children. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include itching, swelling, stomach cramps, vomiting, dizziness, and even death. It is important that food employees get proper training to protect their customers from illness and, potentially, death.  Along with concerns about proper procedures for food allergens, we must also protect customers with food intolerances and sensitivities and those with Celiac Disease.

Food service employees need to understand the risks associated with food allergies and ways they can prevent allergic reactions from happening to their customers. Proper training is required to learn about the allergens, how to avoid cross-contact, the importance of labeling, and how to engage in open communication with the customers…

To read more from Total Food Service, click here.

Norovirus: Facts and Preventative Solutions


Quick Facts: 

  • 20 million people get sick from norovirus each year, most from close contact with infected people or by eating contaminated food
  • Norovirus is the leading cause of disease outbreaks from contaminated food in the US
  • Infected food workers cause about 70% of reported norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food

(CDC

What is Norovirus?

It is a virus that can make you miserable for 1-3 days and is thought to be the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis, which causes diarrhea and vomiting.

“Noroviruses are sometimes called food poisoning, because they can be transmitted through food that’s been contaminated with the virus. They aren’t always the result of food contamination, though” (WebMD).

People can become infected when they eat or drink contaminated foods and beverages. Other foods related to outbreaks are raw or undercooked oysters and raw fruits and vegetables. WebMD further states that, “you can get infected if you touch an object or surface that has been infected with the virus and then touch your nose, mouth, or eyes”.

Ways to Prevent Norovirus

According to FDA model Food Code and CDC Guidelines, all food service workers should follow the following guidelines:

  • Stay home when sick — for at least 48 hours after symptoms stop
  • Wear gloves — wearing single-use gloves avoids touching food with bare hands and possible contamination
  • Wash your hands — wash thoroughly, and wash often!
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables
  • Clean and sanitize all surfaces and utensils — sanitizing regularly with chlorine-based product or other sanitizers approved by the Environmental Protection Agency has been approved for use against norovirus
  • Cook food, especially shellfish, thoroughly — 140 degrees F is considered undercooked; avoid serving undercooked oysters and other shellfish

 

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/norovirus/index.html

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/food-poisoning/norovirus-symptoms-and-treatment

https://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/food-handlers/work-with-food.html

 

Staying Safe After Flour Recalls


On April 4, 2017, the Canadian Brand Robin Hood Flour was recalled for Microbiological – E. coli. The E. coli was identified during the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s food safety inspection. Robin Hood is in the process of removing the recalled product from the marketplace.

General Mills flour also took some heat when they had to recall several types of flour due to E. coli illnesses in 2016 as well.

General Mills made a statement to remind the public not to eat raw dough. “Do not eat uncooked dough or batter made with raw flour. Flour is made from wheat that is grown outdoors where bacteria are often present. Flour is typically not treated to kill bacteria during the normal milling process” (General Mills).

Food Safety Magazine reminds people that, “flour products have long shelf lives and recalled products could be in people’s homes for a long time. If you have any recalled flour products in your home, throw them away.”

Food Safety also lists safe food handling practices when it comes to baking with flour and other raw ingredients:

  • Do not taste or eat any raw dough or batter, whether for cookies, tortillas, pizza, biscuits, pancakes, or crafts made with raw flour, such as homemade play dough or holiday ornaments.
  • Do not let children play with or eat raw dough, including dough for crafts.
  • Bake or cook raw dough and batter, such as cookie dough and cake mix, before eating.
  • Do not make milkshakes with products that contain raw flour, such as cake mix.
  • Do not use raw, homemade cookie dough in ice cream.
  • Follow the recipe or package directions for cooking or baking at the proper temperature and for the specified time.
  • Keep raw foods such as flour or eggs separate from ready-to eat-foods. Because flour is a powder, it can spread easily.
  • Follow label directions to refrigerate products containing raw dough or eggs until they are cooked.
  • Clean up thoroughly after handling flour, eggs or raw dough by washing your hands with running water and soap after handling flour, raw eggs or any surfaces that they have touched. Also wash bowls, utensils, countertops and other surfaces with hot water and soap.

Most importantly, stay safe. Make sure to avoid the consumption of raw dough, keep flour sealed and sanitary, and remember to replace flour in your home every so often to keep the product fresh.

Sources:

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/11/baking-this-weekend-just-say-no-to-the-raw-dough/#.WO9-dKIrLox

https://www.generalmills.com/flour

https://www.guelphtoday.com/local-news/robin-hood-flour-recalled-580544

FDA Permits Three Exceptions From Sanitary Transportation Rule

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  has published three waivers  to the now final Sanitary Transportation rule mandated by the  Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

 The waivers are for businesses whose transportation operations are subject to separate State-Federal controls. They include:

  • Businesses holding valid permits that are inspected under the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments’ Grade “A” Milk Safety Program, only when transporting Grade “A” milk and milk products.

  • Food establishments authorized by the regulatory authority to operate when engaged as receivers, or as shippers and carriers in operations in which food is delivered directly to consumers, or to other locations the establishments or affiliates operate that serve or sell food directly to consumers. (Examples include restaurants, supermarkets and home grocery delivery services.)

 

To finish reading the article, read more at Food Safety Magazine.

Single-Service Container Testing


Did you know there’s regulations on the sanitation of your milk jug or the foil on your yogurt cup?

Single-service containers and closures have been used in the dairy industry for many years. There are standards established by the FDA to ensure the production of sanitary containers and closures for milk and milk products.

The standards set down specific requirements for the plants that fabricate the containers. This includes blow molders for your plastic milk gallon, the paper and laminators for milk cartons, the plants that produce the caps for that jug, the foil you peel off the yogurt cup or the creamer in the restaurant.

The standards cover everything about the plant and the manufacturing lines. They include requirements regarding the floors, walls and ceilings. There are standards for ventilation and the water supplies. They also cover personnel practices and hand-washing facilities, to name a few.

After a plant has been inspected and meets all of the requirements, the plant is certified and can produce caps and containers for the dairy industry. They are also inspected quarterly.

There are also bacterial standards for the containers and closures. The testing of the final product must be done by a laboratory that has also been inspected and certified by the FDA. The lab is then approved to perform the testing on the caps and jugs.

Daily Laboratories is an example of an FDA certified laboratory. 

Sources:

PMO 2007: Appendix J – Standards: Fabrication of Single-Service Containers & Closures for Milk and Milk Products

Save Hide And Seek For The Playground: Why Kids Should See Their Veggies

When my daughter turned 1, a routine toe prick revealed that her iron levels were low. Because our family doesn’t eat much iron-rich red meat, the pediatrician advised that we feed our daughter spinach. Every. Single. Day. This was bad. My daughter had just entered a picky eating phase and leafy greens were “yuck.”

Things were going poorly until I made popsicles. These frozen treats were chock full of blended spinach, peanut butter, yogurt, carrots, other miscellaneous healthy stuff, and blueberries, which conveniently turned the entire concoction purple. My daughter devoured the pops.

Yes! Parenting win!

Hmm, says Gillian Harris, among the world’s foremost experts on picky eating in children and a consultant and clinical psychologist at the University of Birmingham in the UK, when I describe my pops to her over the phone. “You want the child to look at the vegetable, taste the vegetable, get used to the vegetable and eat that vegetable when they’re 7 or 8,” she says.

In other words, getting your kid to eat veggies through subterfuge — whether via awesome pops or in those now ubiquitous pouches that let children squeeze a mix of fruits and kale/carrot/parsnip/other vegetable into their mouths through a makeshift straw sets the bar too low. Your child must actually learn to like veggies, weird textures and all.

With research showing that low vegetable consumption early in life tracks to low consumption later, and with poor diet correlated with a host of diseases later in life, including weight problems, cardiovascular disease and cancer, getting kids to eat unadulterated veggies has far-reaching public health implications. Yet research suggests that a whopping 93 percent of U.S. children between the ages of 1 and 18 do not meet current recommendations for vegetable intake.

To continue reading the article from NPR, click here.

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