Posts from the "Microbial Contamination" category

US: Produce crops are safer 24 hours after rain, irrigation

Food Safety Magazine: New research published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology–a scientific journal–says that produce [spinach] farmers should wait until 24 hours after rain or irrigation to harvest their crops. The practice is said to protect consumers from foodborne illness.

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AU: Five tips to help your family avoid gastro this winter

Food Safety Information Council: The Food Safety Information Council today released five tips to help consumers avoid the spread of norovirus, a leading cause of gastroenteritis, over the winter months. This follows recent ANU research that found there are an estimated 276,000 cases of norovirus infection on average in Australia each year, leading to 150 hospitalisations and 1 death.

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US: Television cooking shows lack food safety

Michigan State University: Cooking shows and competitions have become standard fare on television over the past few years. A 2010 Harris Poll showed that eight out of 10 American adults watch cooking shows on television on a regular basis. Unfortunately, when it comes to food safety practices, television cooking shows fall incredibly short, potentially portraying dangerous practices that, if repeated in the home kitchen, could make people sick.

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US: Faster listeria tests start hitting the market

Food Safety News: Once food manufacturers begin looking for Listeria more often, it’s only natural that they will begin to look for faster tests. Traditional means of detecting Listeria involve techniques and processes that take several days to complete while waiting for the return of laboratory results.

But new options are emerging. Here are a couple of examples…

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US: Ice cream as a catalyst for change in the produce industry? By Dr Bob Whitaker

Dr Bob Whitaker, PMA: You are probably thinking that is an odd title unless you have been monitoring the Blue Bell ice cream recall in recent weeks. Blue Bell hit the news back in mid-March when they recalled ice cream products from one of their production lines owing to contamination with Listeria monocytogenes (Lm). Flashing forward to the end of April, Blue Bell has recalled all of its products currently in the market made at all of its facilities due to potential contamination with Lm. It turns out that arriving at where this case is today has been the result of a long and complex, multi-state outbreak investigation that may reach back as far as 2010. There are currently 10 people sickened by this incident across four states (Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas) with three deaths (all in Kansas). All of the victims were elderly and had other underlying health issues and were hospitalized before developing listeriosis.

While this is a tragedy that we can all relate to, you may still be asking, what does this have to do with produce?

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US: PMA gathers industry thought leaders to address produce safety policy

PMA website: Last week, Produce Marketing Association officials convened leaders of the fresh produce industry, regulatory officials, and esteemed members of academia for a Produce Safety Policy Conference in Washington D.C. Topics discussed during the event were the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) work regarding Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) implementation and Listeria monocytogenes food safety policy, with the intent to leverage the thought leadership and collective expertise of industry and its stakeholders.

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NZ: Herb grower’s supermarket parsley tests positive for Listeria

The New Zealand Herald: A fresh herb grower has confirmed its Italian parsley, which was stocked by two New World supermarkets in the Auckland region, has tested positive for Listeria.

Tasman Bay Herbs voluntarily withdrew its full range of products from stockists on Monday, but has now narrowed the presence of the bacteria down to the Italian parsley, which was sold to New World Victoria Park and Warkworth, in the Auckland region.

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AU: Counterfeit food threatens Australia’s international reputation

ABC Radio National: Australian food producers and exporters are calling on the federal government to do more to protect the nation’s clean, green image against a rising tide of counterfeiting.

Unscrupulous foreign operators are taking advantage of Australia’s reputation for quality food by counterfeiting labels and packaging to sell their own inferior and potentially unsafe product in international markets.

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US: Seeking alternatives for reducing bacteria in fresh produce

Farm and Dairy: A team of researchers at Wayne State University have been exploring natural, safe and alternative antimicrobials to reduce bacterial contamination. Plant essential oils such as those from thyme, oregano and clove are known to have a strong antimicrobial effect, but currently their use in food protection is limited due to their low solubility in water.

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UK: A large Great Britain-wide outbreak of STEC O157 phage type 8 linked to handling of raw leeks and potatoes

Epidemiology & Infection: Between December 2010 and July 2011, 252 cases of STEC [Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli] O157 PT8 stx1 + 2 infection were reported in England, Scotland and Wales. This was the largest outbreak of STEC reported in England and the second largest in the UK to date. Eighty cases were hospitalized, with two cases of haemolytic uraemic syndrome and one death reported.

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