Outbreak of Salmonella Bredeney Associated with Peanut Butter

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on September 22, 2012 that a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Bredeney infections had been associated with peanut butter.  As of September 22, a total of 29 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bredeney had been reported to CDC’s PulseNet system from 18 states.  Four ill persons had been hospitalized, and no deaths had been reported.

CDC reported that collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies determined that Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter made with Sea Salt is the likely source of this outbreak.

On September 22, 2012, Trader Joe’s voluntarily recalled its Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter because of potential contamination with Salmonella and urged consumers to not eat the product.  The product comes in a 16 ounce, plastic jar. All code dates are included in this recall.  This peanut butter product is sold at Trader Joe’s grocery stores nationwide and on the internet.

Both CDC and Trader Joe’s recommend that consumers do not eat Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter made with Sea Salt and dispose of any remaining jars of peanut butter in the home or return the product to any Trader Joe’s grocery store.

Additional information on this outbreak is available from the CDC at: http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/bredeney-09-12/index.html

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New Resource From IFIC – Understanding Common Food Ingredients

Deutsch: Flüssiges Lecithin

The International Food Information Council has released a two-page guide which helps consumers understand common food additives and why they are added to certain foods.  The guide explains the reasons why additives are used in foods, explains what is meant by the term Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS), and then lists common food additives and ingredients by their functional categories.

The resource is available for downlad at the IFIC web site at:
http://www.foodinsight.org/Content/5438/FINAL%20WIF%208-22-12.pdf

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FDA Advice on Arsenic in Rice

FDA this week recommended that consumers not change their consumption of rice and rice products at this time, and that people eat a balanced diet containing a wide variety of grains.  This recommendation was based on the results of arsenic analyses by the agency of over 200 rice-containing foods.

Arsenic is a heavy metal that, depending upon the chemical form, can cause adverse health effects such as cancer in humans.  Inorganic arsenic is considered the most toxic form, although there also has been some evidence suggesting that certain organic forms of arsenic may also have toxicity.

Consumer Reports recently published an article detailing its findings from analysis of 223 rice-containing foods for arsenic.  The samples covered a variety of rice-containing food categories, including infant cereals, hot cereals, ready-to-eat cereals, rice cakes, and rice crackers.  Among the recommendations stated in the article, Consumers Union believes a standard for arsenic should be set for rice, and industry should accelerate efforts to reduce arsenic levels in rice.

The FDA reported that it has analyzed nearly 200 samples of rice and rice products and is collecting about 1,000 more. Since rice is processed into many products, these samples FDA tested included rice products such as cereals, rice beverages and rice cakes.

FDA has released the results of its initial testing, giving examples of inorganic arsenic found in individual samples. FDA is not recommending that consumers change their consumption of rice and rice products at this time, but that people eat a balanced diet containing a wide variety of grains.  FDA summarized its findings and advice in this article which was published on September 19, 2012.

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Sushi now safe?

A total of 425 people across the United States haven been sickened with Salmonella from eating sushi made with Nakaochi scrape, also known as tuna scrape. Of those sickened, 55 were hospitalized. Recently the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated information and stated the outbreak may be over; however, additional cases may continue to surface if food establishments unknowingly serve the product, which was distributed by Moon Marine USA Corporation.

Tuna scrape is made from meat removed from the backbone of fish. It is a product intended to be cooked, but in this outbreak it was consumed from eating sushi made with the raw product.

More information about the outbreak can be found at Food Safety News. Below is the recent epidemiological data released by the CDC.

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Basic BBQ Safety for the Fourth of July

This USDA video, linked on Food Safety News, gives a few good tips to help you have a safe picnic this Fourth of July.

The four basic steps for safe outdoor cooking are:

  1. clean utensils and surfaces
  2. cook to the proper temperature (see chart below for details)
  3. separate raw foods from cooked foods
  4. keep leftover or uncooked food chilled

Have a great and food safe Independence Day!

Category Food

Temperature (°F) 

Rest Time 
Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb

160

None
Turkey, Chicken

165

None
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb Steaks, roasts, chops

145

3 minutes
Poultry Chicken & Turkey, whole

165

None
Poultry breasts, roasts

165

None
Poultry thighs, legs, wings

165

None
Duck & Goose

165

None
Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird)

165

None
Pork and Ham Fresh pork

145

3 minutes
Fresh ham (raw)

145

3 minutes
Precooked ham (to reheat)

140

None
Seafood Fin Fish

145 or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.

None
Shrimp, lobster, and crabs

Cook until flesh is pearly and opaque.

None
Clams, oysters, and mussels

Cook until shells open during cooking.

None
Scallops

Cook until flesh is milky white or opaque and firm.

None
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Over 250,000 Eggs Recalled in Germany in Latest Dioxin Scare

Eggs
Eggs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More than a quarter of a million chicken eggs are being recalled in Germany after in-house testing discovered “excessive levels” of the poisonous chemical, dioxin.

The story is summarized in an article published in Food Quality News.  In the article, it is indicated that the eggs originated from a single farm in Germany.  The farm has been closed and its 12,000 chickens quarantined.

The source of the dioxin contamination has not been conclusively determined, although there is speculation that contaminated animal feed could be a likely source of the contamination.   In January 2011, 3,000 tons of animal feed containing industrial fats tainted with dioxin was implicated in dioxin contamination of eggs, poultry meat and pork in hundreds of German farms.

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China announces it will update its food safety regulations

China’s Ministry of Health is revamping outdated standards, which, according to this article in Food Safety News, means its “’reviewing and abolishing any contradicting or overlapping standards’ and writing new ones.”

Why is China having this problem? Lester Ross, a Beijing-based attorney with U.S. law firm WilmerHale, said in the Wall Street Journal “some companies see that by using additives, they can cut overhead costs or boost profit margins, and they merely aren’t thinking about the affects the additives will have on consumers.”

In a 2009 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, increased consumption of imported food is creating unique challenges for U.S. food safety officials. On one hand retailers and processors are trying to fill the U.S. demand for low-cost suppliers and exotic foods while also trying to meet U.S. food safety standards.

Food imported from China into the U.S. has tripled in value between 2001 and 2008. Several high profile food contamination and adulteration cases in China and the U.S. have made China a significant public food safety concern.

Here’s a short list of select food safety articles about China. More articles can be found in the New York Times:

Contaminated Milk Is Destroyed in China

Despite Government Efforts, Tainted Food Widespread in China

China: Government Investigates Reports of Problems With Milk Powder Diet

U.S. Drops Inspector of Food in China

The new food safety plan in China is calling for a more coordinated effort between 14 different government departments and has a deadline of 2015.

The priorities will be improved food safety standards for dairy products, infant food, meat, alcohol, vegetable oil, seasoning, health products and food additives.

Also important to note is less than one percent of the U.S. food supply comes from China, according to the 2009 USDA ERS report. Items imported include apple juice, garlic, canned mandarin oranges, fish, and shrimp.

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