Posts from the "Microbial Contamination" category

US: Could Yelp and Twitter Become Tools to Detect Foodborne Outbreaks?

Social media platforms such as Yelp and Twitter have significantly altered the online landscape for restaurants. Now anyone with an Internet connection and an opinion can broadcast their thoughts to others interested in visiting.
But what if public health officials could use Yelp and Twitter to track people mentioning foodborne illnesses online to detect outbreaks at restaurants? That’s exactly what researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute say is possible today, thanks to the number of people who take to social media to mention bouts of illness after eating out.
Click here to read the full article from Food Safety News.

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AU: Microbial Food Safety Assurance

The 2014 Keith Farrer Award of Merit was awarded at this year’s AIFST Convention to Dr Tom Ross for his outstanding contribution to food science. This article is based on his address.
Most people know the basic rules of food hygiene, don’t they? They’re simple rules that reflect our awareness that invisible microbes might make us sick, to minimise contamination of food and limit growth of those organisms if contamination occurs, or to kill them before we eat the food. It’s hardly rocket science, is it? And if these are simple rules that ordinary people apply, how much safer must it be when food professionals prepare and process foods?
If it’s that easy, then it’s hard to understand why – particularly given the enormous advances in biological science and technology over the last few decades – there seems to have been no reduction in the incidence of microbial food-borne illness in decades.
Click here to read the full article in Food Australia magazine.

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US: E. coli victims appeal to workers in LGMA training video

Victims of the 2006 E. coli outbreak linked to fresh spinach tell their stories in a new food safety training video co-produced by the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement and the non-profit group STOP Foodborne Illness.
Lauren Bush tells her story in the video, describing how as a 20-year-old college student she contracted an infection from a spinach salad that ultimately sent her to the hospital with hemorrhaging and other severe symptoms.
Click here to read the full article in The Packer.

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NZ: No traces of the food poisoning bug Yersinia was found in Foodstuffs Living Foods property and processing plant.

NZ Herald: “Foodstuffs has released the results of testing carried out at the location where its pre-packaged Pams lettuce is grown and packed.
The results showed no Yersinia pseudotuberculosis was detected in any samples/”
To read the full article in The New Zealand Herald, please click here.

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Europe’s Three Hepatitis A Outbreaks in 2013: What Can We Learn?

James Andrews writes: “In the first half of 2013, Europe dealt with three simultaneous outbreaks from the hepatitis A virus. Knowing that at least two of those outbreaks were connected to frozen berries, Europe’s Centre for Disease Prevention and Control set out to describe what could be learned from those outbreaks in an article published in Eurosurveillance.”
Read the full article on the Food Safety News website.
Image credit: Mark_K_ / Flickr, CC BY 2.0

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USA Tomato Growers Lose ‘Takings’ Lawsuit Against FDA

Dan Flynn writes: “Tomato growers, packers, and shippers in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina have lost the claim they made for federal reimbursement after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mistakenly named certain tomatoes as the likely cause of a Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak that later turned out to be caused by Mexican-grown jalapeño and serrano peppers.”
Read the full article at the food safety news website.

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Dung Beetles: Future Heroes of Organic Food Safety?

James Andrews writes: “In 2011, an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in Oregon killed one person and sickened more than a dozen people. The outbreak was eventually traced back to organic strawberries grown at an Oregon farm, but how E. coli had managed to contaminate the strawberries remained a mystery for some time afterward.
Eventually, state health officials traced the outbreak to deer that had been rummaging through the fields and leaving behind droppings that contaminated some of the strawberries. And animal feces on the farm have been implicated or strongly suspected in a number of other outbreaks.
But what if organic farmers had a natural, unobtrusive way to help reduce the risk of contamination from animal feces on the farm? Enter the dung beetle.”
Read the full article at the Food Safety News website
Image credit: Steve Slater / Flickr, CC BY 2.0

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Containers Used to Ship Produce Fall Short of Safety Standards for Two Consecutive Years

Smithcom: “A new study demonstrates that Reusable Plastic Containers (RPCs) used to ship fruits and vegetables in Canada are not properly sanitized and show traces of E coli.
The report, developed by a University of Guelph professor and researcher, Keith Warriner, indicates that sanitation standards of RPCs are inadequate for a second consecutive year. ”We saw alarming levels of sanitization and significant risk for food contamination,” said Warriner.
In fact, using UK food safety standards for food surfaces as a pass/fail baseline, 43% of RPCs failed sanitary standards due to high ATP (adenosine triphosphate) readings (equivalent standards do not exist in North America). Specifically, the fecal indicators were more prevalent in the current sampling trials compared to the study performed in 2013. Rates in the province of Quebec are especially alarming. RPCs sampled in Quebec recorded the highest indicator counts and ATP readings.”
Read the full article at, via

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Microbial Testing of Fresh Produce: Where is the Value?

Devon Zagory writes: “Product testing is an inefficient tool for enhancing the safety of fresh fruits and vegetables. The probability of finding a contaminant is very low at the bacterial population densities likely to be found. Product testing is wasteful of resources because of the time and expense of the testing itself, but also because all tested products must be put on hold to await the test results in order to avoid a costly recall should a test return a positive result.”
Read the full article at the Food Safety News website.
Image credit: Wikimedia, public domain

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Back up the food safety training with a good book, writes Richard Bennett

There’s a lot of people responsible for grower, packer or processor quality assurance and food safety who are not technically trained in QA and food safety. That’s just a fact of life that reflects the size, structure and necessities of many fresh produce businesses – small, family and tight. It’s also the reason why some QA standards and customers insist on a minimum level of training for the person(s) responsible for managing food safety in the business, with some now also providing the required training.

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