Food Safety News and Resources | December
18 December | Food Safety News and Free Resources1 |
Huge anthrax outbreak (Zambia) |
Update on lead in cinnamon apple purees (USA) |
Salmonella in diced onions investigation results (USA) |
FDA Re-structure Update (USA) |
Glyphosate ban on the cards? (USA) |
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💀 Huge anthrax outbreak (Zambia)
684 suspected cases and four deaths have been recorded in an anthrax outbreak in Zambia (Africa). Anthrax can be contracted by eating food contaminated with the spores of Bacillus anthracis, but is more commonly contracted by people who have handled the bodies of infected animals when the spores are inhaled or enter the skin through cuts. The World Health Organisation is warning people not to handle or consume meat from animals of uncertain origin, or that have died unexpectedly.
☠ Update on lead in cinnamon apple purees (USA
It’s official: the FDA suspects the lead contamination in cinnamon apple purees is the result of “an intentional act”.
“We’re still in the midst of our investigation. But so far all of the signals we’re getting lead to an intentional act on the part of someone in the supply chain and we’re trying to sort of figure that out,” Jim Jones, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods, in an interview with Politico.com last week.
Meanwhile, journalists investigating the number of children affected say it could be much higher than the FDA and CDC’s official numbers.
🦠 Salmonella in diced onions - investigation results (USA)
Eighty people were sickened and one person died during an outbreak of salmonellosis linked to raw diced onions. The same strain of Salmonella thompson was found in patients and in the environment at the farm that supplied onions to the manufacturer.
🏢 FDA Re-structure Update (USA)
The FDA has provided an update on its progress towards a new structure and creation of the Human Foods Program.
🛑 Glyphosate ban on the cards? (USA)
A new and massive petition to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seeks to cancel the registration, and so effectively ban the use, of the herbicide glyphosate.
11 December | Food Safety News and Free Resources |
Mystery outbreak solved (it’s a weird one!) |
Salmonella in cantaloupes update (North America) |
Cinnamon-apple puree poisonings update (USA) |
Spice mix from USA Seized (Taiwan) |
More cinnamon contamination |
Environmental inhibitors in agrifood systems, a report |
New tools and resources for food traceability (USA) |
Free Webinar - Using Monthly Inspections for Prerequisite Program Verification |
Free Webinar - Safely Serving All: Allergen Control and Response in Retail Foodservice |
🕵️♂️ Mystery outbreak solved (it’s a weird one!)
A massive outbreak of food poisoning which sicked 812 people earlier this year had investigators scratching their heads. Here’s what we said about it in October:
🤮 Still no answers in 800+ mass food poisoning outbreak (Finland)
More than 800 people were sickened in a foodborne illness outbreak in August, with victims being mostly children. The victims were from 18 schools and the outbreak has been linked to school meals.
Tortillas are suspected of being the source of the illnesses because people who ate tortillas were three times more likely to be sick than those who didn’t. However, no pathogens, toxins or microbial spoilage have been found. Symptoms are not typical of common food-borne illnesses, because they started less than one hour after eating and persisted on average for less than 12 hours. One batch of tortillas exhibited unexpected pH variations within the batch during testing.
Now, the mystery has been solved. Turns out the tortillas were the source of the poisonings (“likely cause”), as suspected. The affected tortillas, which were made in Poland and produced on a single day, contained ten times more of the preservative calcium propionate than usual. Calcium propionate is a mould inhibitor for bakery foods. Some people who ate the tortillas said they smelt or tasted soapy.
🦠 Salmonella in cantaloupes update (North America)
Case numbers have risen further since our last report, with at least 117 confirmed illnesses, 61 hospitalisations and 2 deaths in the USA and 63 illnesses, 17 hospitalisations and 1 death in Canada.
🍎☠ Cinnamon-apple puree poisonings update (official update)
… For the not-yet-official inside track, see this week’s food fraud news
Case numbers have climbed to 64, all children under 6 years old.
The FDA has initiated an onsite inspection at the manufacturing site in Ecuador and commenced testing of cinnamon samples.
In this week’s regular issue, I share some as-yet-unofficial information about this situation, which I received from a contact in the US on Saturday.
🧪 Spice mix from USA Seized (Taiwan)
Spice mix imported from the USA (450 kg) has been seized by officials in Taiwan after it was found to contain ethylene oxide, which Taiwan authorities say is a carcinogen. The spice mix was intended for TGI Friday’s restaurants and was labelled GMO-Free Blackening Spice.
⚠🛢 Cinnamon contamination: mercury and mineral oil in ground cinnamon from Indonesia
A company in Germany found mercury and mineral oil hydrocarbons in ground cinnamon from Indonesia during checks. The source of the contaminants is unknown.
📖 The Food Safety Implications of Environmental Inhibitors Used in Agrifood Systems - Report, FAO (Global)
Environmental inhibitors are “used to improve the production efficiency of crops and livestock while reducing emissions of greenhouse gases such as methane or limiting the loss of nitrogen from cultivated fields and pastures.” However, there may be human health implications from their presence in foods. This report provides an overview of synthetic and biological environmental inhibitors, plus possible food safety implications from their use.
🛠 New tools and resources for food traceability (USA)
The FDA has published new resources to help businesses comply with the Food Traceability Rule, including:
new guidelines for lot coding, with examples of how codes could appear on documents such as invoices,
a video to assist stakeholders in understanding product tracing systems,
an example traceability plan,
updated frequently asked questions,
information bout how to apply for an exemption.
The updates were made on 21st Nov 2023.
🎓 Free Webinar - Using Monthly Inspections for Prerequisite Program Verification 15th December
Hosted by SafetyChain Software, this webinar will teach you how to identify and correct weaknesses in the verification processes to accurately monitor facility and hygiene program effectiveness - and what tools can help streamline both internal and external audits.
🎓 Free Webinar - Safely Serving All: Allergen Control and Response in Retail Foodservice, 12th December
The second in a two-part webinar series hosted by Food Safety Magazine, this webinar will examine allergen control and response in foodservice and retail environments.
📌 Food Fraud News 📌
Lead in cinnamon - possible root cause;
The biggest olive oil seizure ever?;
Lemon juice concentrates;
Fraud in ham, vermouth and chocolate bars.
Become a paid subscriber to access The Rotten Apple’s food fraud news.
4 December | Food Safety News and Free Resources |
Foods and virus transmission in the next global pandemic (Research) |
Update: lead in baby food recall (USA) |
💀 Salmonella in cantaloupe outbreak turns deadly (USA, Canada) |
Pesticides in foods (Policy brief) |
Aflatoxins (Review) |
New food safety standard starts this week (Australia) |
Quantifying risks from protozoa in shellfish – new research |
Free Webinar - SQF + FSMA |
Free Webinar – Food Safety Culture |
😷 Foods and virus transmission in the next global pandemic (research)
Researchers examined possible scenarios for a global pandemic based on either a respiratory infection or a gastrointestinal infection and concluded that we lack preparedness and knowledge of transmission pathways and methods for detecting the presence of viruses on surfaces and in foods. Recommendations are included.
☠ Lead in baby food update (USA)
The number of children aged 1 – 5 years with high blood levels of lead has increased to at least 57 children in the recall of cinnamon apple puree pouches.
US-border screening of incoming cinnamon shipments for lead has not found any concerning shipments.
We don’t know if US agencies have actually visited the manufacturing site, which is in Ecuador.
We still don’t know for sure if the cinnamon is to blame for the “Extremely high” levels of lead in the products. The manufacturer has confirmed that the cinnamon was purchased from a food distributor in Ecuador called Negasmart.
💀 Salmonella in cantaloupe update (USA, Canada)
The number of patients has doubled and at least two people have died since we reported on this outbreak of Salmonella sundsvall, infections last week. The recall of cantaloupes has expanded, with more companies recalling products including cut fruit, fruit cups and whole fruit. The outbreak extends across Canada and the USA and may be linked to fruit from Mexico.
🧪 Pesticides in foods – a policy brief from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
This policy brief discusses the health impacts of hazardous pesticides in food systems and includes policy recommendations for governments.
☠ Aflatoxins occurrence, mechanisms, health effects and detection methods - a review
A new review analyses the global occurrence of aflatoxins, how they are synthesised, as well as their health effects and detection methods.
⚖ New food safety standard in Australia this week
Foodservice and retail businesses will be required to meet a new standard for food safety management on Friday this week (8th Dec 2023). The new standard includes requirements for businesses to train food handlers and supervisors, and manage food safety critical points in their food handling operations.
The new requirements are described in Standard 3.2.2A, Food Safety Management Tools
🦪 Quantifying risks from protozoa in shellfish – new research
Authors of a new research paper attempted to quantify the risks to consumers from exposure to infectious protozoan parasites such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia and Toxoplasma gondii in bivalve shellfish such as oysters, clams, mussels and scallops. Their conclusion: some risk assessment models may overestimate the true risk of illness.
🎓Free Webinar - SQF’s FDA Recognition and What it Means for your Current Certification, 14th December
Hosted by Eurofins, this webinar will discuss the importance of the alignment of SQF Food Safety Code and Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule and how this can help you strengthen your food safety management system and FDA compliance.
🎓 Free Webinar - Food Safety Culture, 13th December
Quality Assurance & Food Safety magazine is hosting a free webinar that will provide a more fundamental understanding of food safety culture, what it looks like, and where there are opportunities to improve it.
Register here: Webinar Registration - Zoom
📌 Food Fraud News 📌
Supplement fraud with banned drugs;
Basmati rice authentication;
Caviar fraud at high levels;
Cinnamon versus cassia.
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