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News and Resources Roundup
27th March | Food Safety News and Free Resources |
🐟 💀 Pickled carp (fish) – yum? – causes botulism death 💀 🐟
Nine people in Vietnam who ate pickled carp required hospitalisation and one person died. Two people have become quadriplegic. The people were in separate outbreak clusters, from different groups but are thought to have consumed food from the same boxes of product, which may have been mishandled.
Learn more about botulism in Issue 80
Traceability – Free Training 4th April
This free webinar, hosted by Eurofins, explains the key requirements of a Food Traceability Plan.
Harmful algal blooms guidance
Joint FAO-IOC-IAEA technical guidance has been published. The guidance is for policy-makers and explains best practice for the implementation of early warning systems for harmful algal blooms.
Food contaminated with toxic BPA-like chemicals found in food labels, study finds
A BPA-like chemical, BPS, was found at high concentrations in thermal food labels and some of the chemical migrated into foods.
Food safety in fruit and veg in Vietnam
A report by the Asian Development Bank that investigated food safety and supply chains for fruit and vegetables in Vietnam found that improvements could be made in the areas of microbial safety, cool storage (to present post-harvest losses) and pesticide use. Pesticide misuse was reported in interviews with farm workers, which were conducted in 2021.
IFS is (again) recognised by GFSI
GFSI suspended IFS in December 2022, until 8th March. (By the way, if you don’t know what these acronymns are, you can safely ignore this news item!). As reported in our news round-up earlier this month, there was a meeting between GFSI and IFS on the 3rd of March. According to GFSI, the standards owner IFS provided ‘suitable remediation’ and has now had its GFSI recognition reinstated. The GFSI has not publicly explained what the non-conformity was or what the remediation was.
EU auditors worry about Turkish produce and shellfish
Auditors for the European Commission’s health and safety agency have concerns about standards of official controls and checks on fruit and vegetable processing and bi-valve mollusc operations in Türkiye.
What is a State Salmonella Fund?
In Finland, pig farms are attempting to eradicate Salmonella by killing infected livestock. Farmers are paid compensation by the state, under a system which is due to end soon. The costs of eliminating and remediating Salmonella on farms is high and have increased recently, and the Finnish government is considering a scheme to assist.
Free webinar – Food Safety Culture, 19th April
This free webinar is hosted by Food Safety Magazine and fourth in a series. The webinar will teach why food safety culture is important, how the US FDA and the US food industry are addressing food safety culture and “where food safety culture is headed in the future”.
📌 In Food Fraud News this week (for paying subscribers) 📌
Giant snails for food and pets
Tonnes of 🐈 carcasses discovered at a cat processing facility
Fake cumin seeds
Organic fruit and veg delivery boxes fraud (and more…..)
20th March | Food Safety News and Free Resources |
🦟 Cockroaches and Food Safety – Free Training 🦟
This on-demand webinar hosted by IFSQN, explains the major cockroach species and how to address them in food facility pest management programs.
📖 Food Law Book 📖: Advanced Introduction to International Food Law
A new book Advanced Introduction to International Food Law, by Professor Neal D. Fortin has just been published. Available here:
PFAS Training Webinar: What the food industry should know about “forever chemicals”, 30th March
This free webinar is hosted by SGS and addresses: What are PFAS and where are they used; Levels of PFAS in food; Current and planned regulations; Challenges of PFAS analysis; Prevention strategies.
Plastic microwave containers + starchy foods = contaminated food
This new research shows that potentially dangerous materials can be synthesised during microwave cooking of starchy foods in plastic containers.
🍄 Naturally occurring fungicide might be confused with contamination in organic food 🍄
Salts of phosphonic acid are applied to food crops as fungicides. They are not allowed to be applied to organic crops. However, new research argues that the salts also occur naturally, making it hard to tell the difference between fraudulent fungicide use in ‘organic’ production and naturally occurring chemicals.
🧪 Food-approved additives are possibly unsafe when in nanoparticle form 🧪
Nanoparticles of silicon dioxide and titanium dioxide – which are approved food additives in many countries – were found to cause intestinal changes when eaten, leading researchers to suggest that they have negative health effects when eaten.
The researchers also tested zinc oxide and iron oxide and found potentially positive effects from ingesting nanoparticles of those chemicals.
📌 In Food Fraud News this week (for paying subscribers) 📌
Spanish officials raid shipping containers full of drums of imported honey and take samples for adulteration testing (a video);
More information about the (not) British beef scandal is revealed;
Multiple notifications for too much sulphites, nitrates and other preservatives in seafood and beef;
News from Namibia and Vietnam.
🧬💲 Is whole genome sequencing (WGS) cost-effective for pathogen surveillance? 💲🧬
New research which reviewed past papers about the cost effectiveness of WGS says Yes, it is probably cost-effective, though more research needs to be done for middle and low-income countries.
Food Waste: Better ways to talk to consumers about food waste reductions
Researchers investigated whether it is better to use hopeful positive messages and ‘why’ messages when trying to help consumers reduce food waste, compared to loss-based messages and ‘how’ messages. Positive messages and ‘how-to’ focussed messages were shown to result in better outcomes.
⚠🦠 Cronobacter recall for powdered infant formula – USA 🦠 ⚠
⚠ Pet food recall because of dangerously high vitamin D levels (USA) ⚠
13th March | Food Safety News and Free Resources |
🤮 Norovirus infections surge (UK and USA) 🤮
Norovirus infections are at higher levels than usual for this time of year in both the US and the United Kingdom. Norovirus is extremely contagious and viral particles continue to be shed by people after their symptoms have disappeared. Infected people should stay well away from other people’s food. Thorough handwashing prior to preparing food and before eating can help reduce the risk of becoming infected.
🍫 Heavy metals in chocolate (old(ish) news) 🍫
A sharp-eyed reader pointed out that a survey which found heavy metals in many brands of dark chocolate did not make it into our Food Safety News Roundup when the news first broke in December. So this is a catch-up post.
A consumer organisation in the USA organised testing for the heavy metals cadmium and lead in twenty-eight dark chocolate bars. They found the heavy metals in all the bars and very concerning levels in twenty-three of the bars. That’s eighty-two percent!
The consumer group said: “For 23 of the bars, eating just an ounce a day would put an adult over a level that public health authorities and CR’s [Consumer Reports] experts say may be harmful for at least one of those heavy metals. Five of the bars were above those levels for both cadmium and lead.”
Hershey chocolate brand is being sued in the USA over harmful metals in their products (we included this in February’s news roundup).
🤔 IFS versus GFSI update
The suspension of IFS (a food safety standards owner) from GFSI (the international group that benchmarks best practices for food safety standards) was due to expire on 8th March, and a meeting between IFS and “a GFSI benchmark leader” was held on 3rd March, according to a GFSI press release.
It is unclear whether further action against IFS is ongoing or expected to happen in future as there have been no official updates since the meeting.
New rule for ‘Made in USA’ labelling, stakeholder comments sought
The USDA has released a proposed rule for defining how “Product of USA” and “Made in the USA” label claims can be used on meat products. There is a 60-day comment period for stakeholders from within and outside the USA.
Food safety culture webinar, 16th March
A free webinar hosted by Eurofins and SQF promises to provide five actionable tactics, solid ideas, and tips for creating a healthy food safety culture.
😕 Deadly icecream guy somehow dodges jail time (USA) 😕
The man charged with food fraud and food safety crimes over his role in a deadly ice cream outbreak in the USA (Blue Bell Creameries) has avoided jail time and a second jury trial after a successful plea deal. The first trial was thrown out on a technicality.
Arsenic limits in European foods to change
There are new limits for arsenic in salt, cereals and cereal-based products, non-parboiled milled rice, parboiled and husked rice, rice flour, rice cakes and crackers, and non-alcoholic rice-based drinks in Europe.
⚠ 🍃 Hungary and Bulgaria: Worrying results from food safety checks of frozen and pre-cut fruit, vegetables and sprouts 🍃 ⚠
The European Commission Health and Safety Unit checked food safety controls and systems for foods of non-animal origin in Hungary and Bulgaria and found that official controls have been weakened by a shortage of staff and a lack of experienced personnel.
There was a lack of corrective actions requirements, and there were discrepancies between official controls and food company checks for Listeria monocytogenes in frozen vegetables. Positive L. monocytogenes findings did not trigger enforcement by authorities in frozen vegetables. Controls for sprout-producing sites in Bulgaria were unsatisfactory and pre-harvest microbiological risks were ignored.
Recall stats and food safety risk perceptions from Germany
German consumers were surveyed about their perception of the riskiness of raw foods including sausages and hams, and recall statistics are shared in this news article.
🥛 Plant-based milk labelling and naming guidance (USA) 🥛
The US FDA has released draft guidance which allows plant-based milks to use the word ‘Milk’ on their packages. However, the guidance (which is non-binding) says each pack is also supposed to state which nutrients the product is ‘deficient’ in compared to dairy milk.
Which foods cause the most foodborne illness – free webinar 16th March
This free webinar is part of a series. It is called “It Must Have Been the Chicken.” Attribution of Illness Burdens to Specific Foods, and will be held on March 16th at 3:30 pm Eastern (USA) / 12:30 pm Pacific.
In this webinar, hosted by Virginia Tech, Dr. Robert Scharff will present and discuss recent attribution estimates that match specific food categories with illnesses and pathogens. Focusing on produce, he will then present illness estimates, associated economic burdens, and will discuss implications for food firms and regulators. Be sure to stick around for the live only Q&A where Dr. Scharff will stay to listen and answer audience questions. As a reminder: Each webinar will consist of a one-hour presentation followed by 30 min of interactive Q&A. Please join us - all welcome!
Free training: CBD in food supplements (authenticity, testing, regulation)
This free on-demand video training was created by the UK Office of Government Chemist and “aims to help manufacturers, suppliers and laboratories understand the issues surrounding the use of cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, in food supplements and the difficulties likely to be encountered in analysing food supplements containing CBD.”
This is a not-public Youtube video, and is not findable by members of the public. The link is shared with thanks to the Food Authenticity Network.
6th March | Food Safety News and Free Resources |
⚠💥 Mad Cow Disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy BSE) 💥 ⚠
A confirmed case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in Brazil is being investigated by veterinary officials to see if the case is atypical. Exports of beef to China have been temporarily suspended – Brazil 22/02/2023
💀 🥩 Leptospirosis cases investigated in Argentina 💀 🥩
Four adults were hospitalized in Argentina with Salmonella, Shigella and Leptospirosis. Two people died. Authorities suspect meat or offal was the source of the outbreak.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection caused by Leptospira bacteria found in contaminated water or food. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, vomiting, and jaundice. The infection can lead to severe complications such as kidney damage, liver failure, and meningitis. It can be treated with antibiotics but can be fatal in severe cases.
⚠💀 Food-borne Nipah virus kills 8 people 💀 ⚠
Eight people have died from Nipah virus, a food-borne virus, in Bangladesh, with 11 cases recorded in that country so far for 2023. This is the most cases in Bangladesh since 2015. Food-borne Nipah virus infections in Bangladesh are usually linked to the consumption of raw date palm sap, which can be contaminated with bat faeces that contain the virus.
There are no drugs or vaccines to treat or prevent Nipah virus, which can also be transmitted person-to-person and directly from animals to people. Authorities are advising consumers in at-risk areas to always boil date palm juice and sap, peel and wash fruit and discard fruit that may have been chewed by bats.
⚠🌴 Dangerous plant ingredient results in recall of food bars 🌴 ⚠
A food bar containing Cranberries and Maca plant has been recalled after a risk assessment by Danish authorities concluded the Maca ingredient could pose health risks. The recall notice says that “consumption of Maca may be harmful to reproductive health for both men and women”.
Maca is a plant native to the high Andes of Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine.
😊 Residues in Meat and Animals Declines - Europe
The EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) has released its annual report on veterinary redisues and other chemical substances in animals and animal-derived foods and says that residues are declining and compliance is increasing overall. For most contaminant types, including environmental contaminants, chemicals (including metals), dyes, antibacterials and sedatives, the number of non-compliant results were either stable or decreasing over a multi-year period.
There was a higher rate of non-compliance for anticoccidials, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , ‘other pharmacologically active substances’ , organochlorine compounds, organophosphorus compounds and mycotoxins compared to previous years. The rate of non-compliance for ‘other substances’ (category B3f) in 2021 showed a sharp increase compared to all previous years.
“For ‘other substances’ (B3f), non-compliant samples were reported for bovines (1.31%), eggs (0.07%), wild game (12.70%), honey (1.50%) and sheep and goats (1.10%). The substances identified were ‘copper compounds’, acetamiprid, didecyldimethylammonium chloride and fipronil; all the four residues are considered as plant protection product sand/or biocides.” Page 4 of the report
😊 Recommended Resource: How to validate pathogen control CCPs – a guidance document
This peer-reviewed and comprehensive guidance document explains all aspects of the validation of lethal control measures for foodborne pathogens including how to design validation studies and how to obtain scientific and technical evidence for process validations. Recommended. (open access)
📌 In Food Fraud News this week (for paying subscribers) 📌
Beef meat is subject to an alert after authorities discovered bulls with fraudulent ear tags in Europe.
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