There can be unintended additional contents, also known as physical contaminants and foreign objects, in fruit and vegetable purchases. Growers aim to eliminate these from the fresh produce sent to retailers and processors. Most retail and food service specifications have a zero tolerance for pests, dead or alive, or other physical contaminants. Consumers also have a low tolerance of additional contents.
Physical contaminants is a broad category that includes but is not limited to soil, stones, sticks, weeds, insects, frogs, glass, nails, plastic and rubber, pens, pins, paper clips and jewellery. Some are a social media novelty while others have genuine injury potential. Some come from the environment and others are from harvest, handling and packing. Some can result in withdrawals, recalls and negative media coverage.
A series of Q&A’s below address the topic of contamination of pests and objects.
Food Safety Information Council: The Food Safety Information Council has released a report card on Australiaâ€™s food safety record in recognition of the inaugural UN World Food Safety Day 7 June 2019. Council Chair, Cathy Moir, said that there are an estimated 4.1 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year that result in 31,920 hospitalisations, 86 deaths and 1 million visits to doctors on average each year.
Food Safety Magazine: Fresh peaches, nectarines, and plums shipped across the U.S. are being recalled due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The recall notice indicates that the country of origin for a portion of the fresh produce is Chile. The recall was the result of a routine sampling program by the packing house which revealed that the finished products contained Listeria bacteria. The company has ceased the distribution of the product as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Jac. Vandenberg continue their investigation as to what caused the problem.
Food Safety News: Scientists in India have discovered how Salmonella enters plants to cause pre-harvest contamination of produce. Researchers found Salmonella enters through a gap created when a lateral root branches out from the plantâ€™s main root and that it can penetrate the deeper layer of the root. This is different to other disease-causing bacteria that enter the root, fruit or leaf by producing enzymes to break down the plantâ€™s cell wall.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Traceback information from the FDA indicated that ill people in this outbreak ate romaine lettuce harvested from specific counties in the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California. The FDA, along with CDC and state partners, investigated farms and cooling facilities in California that were identified in traceback. CDC analyzed water and sediment samples from an Adam Bros. Farming, Inc. farm in Santa Barbara County, which was one of the farms identified in the traceback investigation. The outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 was found in sediment within an agricultural water reservoir on the farm. As of January 9, 2019, this outbreak appears to be over.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand: This compendium brings together information on pathogens and indicator organisms significant to food safety, microbiological guideline criteria for Ready To Eat foods, and process hygiene criteria that have been established for specific food commodities. In addition, a new section on environmental monitoring has been included which provides general guidance on establishing an environmental monitoring program for Listeria monocytogenes.
Food Safety News: The new â€śmetricsâ€ť for members of the Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement are effective immediately. Officials with the grower consortium said inspections are set to begin in November. The revised requirements in Arizona involve:
- Daily cleaning of equipment;
- More extensive review of crop impact after weather events such as flooding or high winds;
- Mandatory traceability measures; and
- A 1,000-foot minimum buffer zone between growing fields and feed lots with 1,000 or more animals. Previously the buffer requirement was 400 feet.
Fresh Plaza: One of the freezing tunnels in Greenyard’s Hungarian plant has been found to be the source of the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that led to the large-scale recall this summer. This discovery was made known by the Belgian company. In July, a major recall campaign was taken for certain products. These had been produced between 13 August 2016 and 20 June 2018 in Greenyard’s Hungarian plant in Baja.
National Public Radio: The illnesses started appearing in late March. Here and there, across the country, people were checking themselves in to hospitals, sick from toxic E. coli bacteria. At least 200 people got sick. Five of them died. Investigators quickly identified romaine lettuce as the source of the outbreak, but have had trouble pinpointing the cause for months. Now, the Food and Drug Administration has a theory for how E. coli ended up on that lettuce.
Smithsonian: Today, the epitome of foodborne illness prevention technology in commercial kitchens is a sign in the restroom that says â€śemployees must wash their hands before returning to work.â€ť To Christine Schindler and Dutch Waanders, that didnâ€™t seem like the optimal solution.