Salmonella cases in humans: assessing current EU reduction targets

After several years of decline, salmonellosis cases in the EU have flattened out.

EFSA scientists say that setting stricter targets for Salmonella in laying hens at farm level could help reduce cases of this origin by a half.

EU countries are currently required to reduce the proportion of laying flocks infected with certain types of Salmonella to 2%. EFSA experts estimate that if this target was reduced to 1% salmonellosis cases in humans transmitted via laying hens would drop by 50%.

Read entire post Salmonella cases in humans: assessing current EU reduction targets | European Food Safety Authority



Family awarded $6.5 million in Salmonella chicken case

Earlier this month, an Arizona federal court awarded a family $6.5 million (gross amount) as compensation for a foodborne illness case. The outcome is the first ever of its kind, specifically for the poultry industry.

Posted on Food Safety Magazine

The Problem

The child suffered an internal brain injury as the result of a Salmonella Heidelberg infection, reportedly caused by eating chicken produced by Foster Farms. An outbreak was investigated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014.

The Plaintiff’s/Family’s Argument

Evidence was produced proving that the presence of Salmonella Heidelberg at Foster Farms was the norm, including the exact strain that sickened the child. Also, a history of negligence was apparent due to other foodborne illness outbreaks that Foster Farms had been connected to. In this particular Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak, 639 people from 29 states were sickened from March 1, 2013 to July 11, 2014, according to the CDC.

Now, poultry producers can be held liable for contaminated meat they produce, despite the fact that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not necessarily consider Salmonella an “adulterant” in raw chicken.

Read entire article Family of 5-Year-Old Awarded $6.5 Million in Salmonella Chicken Case | Food Safety Magazine

Evidence on link between antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance

A new report from the three agencies presents new data on antibiotic consumption and antibiotic resistance and reflects improved surveillance across Europe.

The European Food Safety Authority, the European Medicines Agency and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control are concerned about the impact of use of antibiotics on the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “To contain antibiotic resistance we need to fight on three fronts at the same time: human, animal and the environment. This is exactly what we are trying to achieve in the EU and globally with our recently launched EU Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance.

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“This new report confirms the link between antibiotic consumption and antibiotic resistance in both humans and food-producing animals.”

Links between antibiotic use and resistance

Links between antibiotic use and resistance

The report notes that resistance to quinolones, used to treat salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis in humans, is associated with use of antibiotics in animals. The use of third- and fourth-generation cephalosporins for the treatment of infections caused by E. coli and other bacteria in humans is associated with resistance to these antibiotics in E. coli found in humans.

Source: European Food Safety Authority

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Shortage of public health veterinarians could threaten Food Safety

On-going vacancies and funding shortages for public-health veterinarians, particularly those with the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), could hamper efforts to ensure the safety of U.S. meat products and overall public health, according to the National Association of Federal Veterinarians (NAFV).

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The NAFV notes that a recent Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) food safety report indicates that the incidence of foodborne illnesses from Listeria, Salmonella, and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) have increased in recent years. Between 2013 and 2016, FSIS inspectors have recorded a 4% increase in Listeria, 2% in Salmonella and a 21% increase in STEC. And according to NAFV, previous analyses have indicated the number of infections far exceeds those diagnosed.

In a news release, NAFV stresses that FSIS must have a professional leadership workforce that is highly educated and well-trained in science and food safety-related issues to ensure food inspections are conducted correctly, efficiently and effectively.

According to information from NAFV, there were 720 FSIS veterinarians working in food-safety inspections in 2016, reflecting an 11% vacancy rate. About $10 million in FSIS appropriations would be needed to bring the agency’s food-inspection force up to full strength.

USDA needs more professionals with formal professional food safety education and credentials to avoid increases in food safety illnesses.

Public-health veterinarians perform several specialized tasks in protecting food safety, including:

  • Anti-mortem inspections for zoonotic and foreign animal diseases
  • Post-mortem verification of food safety, disease and conditions and carcass disposition
  • Expert direction of the national residue program
  • Decision and direction of sample collection for pathology and microbiological determinations
  • Verification of eligibility of products for export and signing of certificates

“USDA needs more professionals with formal professional food safety education and credentials, as well as food safety experience, to better implement continuous improvements in food safety and avoid increases in food safety illnesses as reported by FSIS in 2016,” says the NAFV.

Source: Bovine Veterinarian


What you should know about how eggs are monitored for food safety in the USA

Many agencies of the USDA work to keep eggs safe from farm to table.

Food safety is a major concern and responsibility of the federal, state and local governments. Safe food is an economic priority because consumers take for granted that the food for sale in grocery stores and from farmers markets is safe. Michigan State University Extension wants to insure that consumers understand food safety and the process that keeps our food system safe.

Multiple agencies with in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) monitor shell eggs and poultry farms to insure safety.  The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) inspects handlers and hatcheries to insure that eggs are “as good or better than Consumer Grade B quality standards.” They insure that the processing plant follows USDA’s sanitation guidelines and proper manufacturing processes.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) works to reduce risk of disease in flocks. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) works to ensure that eggs are kept at a temperature no greater 45 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the risk of food borne illnesses and works to educate consumers about the safe handling of eggs. The USDA also researches egg safety and egg processing through the Agricultural Research Service and the National Agricultural Statistics Service collects information about the egg industry that is used in economic analyses.


The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) implements the Egg Safety Rule (of 2010) which has been designed to reduce the risk of food borne illness, specifically, Salmonella enteritidis. This includes the provision that large egg-laying production facilities maintain written safety plans and comply with inspections. The FDA Egg Safety Plan also outlines the monitoring of birds for Salmonella and routinely tests flocks as pullets and either once or twice during the lay period.  According to veterinarian Eric Gingerich, “This testing keeps the producers honest and gives them an incentive to vaccinate, use products that improve gut health and perform the management aspects of Salmonella prevention.”

In cooperation with federal food safety efforts, state agriculture departments assist with monitoring the compliance of egg packers with U.S. standards, grades and weight classes. State and local health departments ensure that retail food establishments comply with health codes and applicable food codes.

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Blockchain seen as tool in food safety

The food industry is turning to the same technology used by virtual currencies to strengthen food safety and inventory management by tracking meats and crops from farm to table.

Working with IBM, retail giant Walmart Stores is testing the technology system on mangos in the United States and pork in China.

Blockchain, the underlying technology behind virtual currency bitcoin, is a digital system that allows counter parties to transact using individual codes for goods.

“I see a lot of potential to create what I call a digital and transparent food system,” said Wal-Mart food safety vice president Frank Yiannas.

The technology enables different parties in the supply chain to share details such as the date an animal was slaughtered or the weather conditions at harvest time. Data can be stored through a photograph on a smartphone that is transmitted onto a dedicated platform.

Wal-Mart Stores is testing blockchain, the underlying technology behind virtual currency bitcoin, on mangos.

“The advantage of blockchain is that the ledger is immediately updated and all the parties have access to the latest information,” said Bill Fearnley, Jr. an expert at market intelligence firm IDC.

Supporters of blockchain are especially keen to address salmonella and other food safety problems that can cause health scares that weigh on corporate reputation and damage sales. The technology allows a more efficient response if there is a problem, enabling companies to locate the source of an incident more quickly, Yiannas said.

He pointed to a 2006 case where it took hundreds of investigators and two weeks to identify the source of bad spinach under a paper-based system.

But blockchain “reduces tracing from days to seconds,” Yiannas said. “The more accurately you can track food, the better.

Demand for transparency

The other great virtue of blockchain is enhanced transparency by letting consumers look up key information on where food comes from, an asset amid growing concerns about genetically-modified crops and artificial ingredients.

The technology also has been embraced by companies in the jewelry business to fight the sale of so-called “conflict diamonds,” which come from war-torn regions.

Danish shipping giant Maersk estimates the technology could save billions of dollars by eliminating fraud and incorrect deliveries. It is testing the technology with container ships between Kenya and the Netherlands.

Source: PHYS

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U.S. has no beef with spoiled Brazilian meat

After reports of inspectors taking bribes to allow the sale of contaminated meat, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now testing shipments of raw beef and ready-to-eat meat products originating from Brazil.

According to reports, meatpackers in Brazil have been shipping out Salmonella-tainted beef products–a problem that is known and ignored by some official health inspectors. As a result, two Brazilian meatpacking companies are being investigated. Police have issued at least 38 arrest warrants in connection to the sale of tainted, expired meat. Reports indicate that police found meat that had been treated with water and manioc flour in an effort to disguise the spoiled meat’s discoloration and foul odor.

In light of the news of what has been taking place in Brazil, the country’s meat products are no longer welcome in Chile, European Union and South Korea as of this week. These bans are temporary. However, the U.S. will continue to accept meat from Brazil because it is believed that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s food safety checks and balances are strong enough to weed out and detect any problems such as contamination. This week, some U.S. lawmakers are still pushing for a temporary ban on imported meat from Brazil.

An official statement from USDA reads, “The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is in contact with USDA embassy officials and Brazil’s ministry about their investigation. It is our mission to keep the food supply safe for American families and FSIS has instituted pathogen testing of all shipments of raw beef and ready-to-eat products from Brazil as well as increased the examination of all these products. We will continue to monitor the events as they unfold.”

Due to these events, it is expected that 100 percent of Brazilian meat imports in the U.S. will be reinspected.

Brazil is one of the world’s largest exporters of beef. In August 2016, the U.S. finally began allowing beef imports from Brazil after a 13-year ban due to multiple complications with foreign beef producers.

Source: Food Safety magazine

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