Category Archives: food safety

All the Cows Go Mad — The Latest on Mad Cow Disease

 

Photo from CNN.com

FoodFacts.com would like to address the news of confirmed “mad cow disease” case in California.

Think back to a little less than a decade ago, when “mad cow disease” was first mentioned in the United States. The widespread panic that ensued following a presumptive diagnosis of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as “mad cow disease,” in Washington took over news headlines for weeks.

In 2006, the phrase “mad cow disease” came up again, when a cow in Alabama was confirmed to have BSE.

And then today, news broke that South Korea had suspended the sale of beef from the US following the confirmation of BSE in a dairy cow in California.

Some people may fail to remember why the panic ensued back in 2003 and 2004 – just that the term “mad cow disease” resulted in fear across the country. But the fear is valid, given the deaths of 150 in the 1980s and 1990s in Britain that were cause by BSE.

What is BSE and why should we fear it? What does it do?

BSE is a fatal neurological disease in cattle, and is related to something called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob in humans, which is an incurable disease that results in the decrease of mental function and movement, and eventually, possibly death. Humans can contract the disease following the consumption of beef from an infected cow.

Should people be concerned? According to public health officials, people in the United States have a very low risk of consuming beef from an infected cow or contracting the illness, and no extra precautions need to be taken.

Wishing you the best from all of us here at FoodFacts.com!

Mutated Gulf Seafood — Are Consumers Safe?

Photo from Donald Waters/AP Photo

FoodFacts.com will be exploring the effects on seafood following disasters such as oil spills today.

 

Back in 2010, theGulf of Mexicosaw an oil spill unlike any seen in decades. For months, the news covered the BP oil spill, examining the environmental effects of the spill that flowed for months following an explosion of an oil rig.

 

Roughly two years later, the effects on the fish and seafood in the waters are finally being seen, with mutated fish and eyeless shrimp being discovered in the very same waters the oil streamed into.

 

For obvious reasons, this is cause for concern among consumers. The fact that mutated and sick fish reside in those waters begs the question to be asked: are consumers at risk if they purchase seafood that came from the Gulf?

 

Scientists can’t point the finger to the oil spill as the definite cause of the deformities. However, given the history, many are convinced that the fish and seafood are showing illness and mutations as a result of the spill.

 

Rest assured, according to the Food and Drug Administration – the deformities presented in the seafood and fish do not pose any risk to the consumers as sick fish are not permitted to be sold, according to FDA regulations. Furthermore, the FDA has said that numerous testing has been performed and is continuing to be performed even today to be sure.

 

If that wasn’t enough to try and alleviate consumers concerns, the FDA also makes a point of explaining the amount of seafood that would need to be consumed to even reach the level of concern the FDA has regarding the issue, and that amount is even more than eating 9 pounds of shrimp per day for 5 years.

 

So is there cause for concern? As mentioned in previous blog postings, that is all up to the individual consumer and their trust in the government. But regardless of the concern level of Gulf seafood currently, a person should ALWAYS pay attention to seafood safety.

 

That being said, FoodFacts.com would like to wish you and yours and a happy and healthy weekend!

Dioxins — Any “eggscape” from them?

 

Picture credit to FoxNews.com

FoodFacts.com would like to take some time to look at dioxins.

 

Recently, it has been revealed that in Germany, the highly poisonous chemical was found in eggs from a couple of farms in levels that was above the permissible level set.

 

Needless to say, the farms found with those eggs have been sealed off and are not permitted to sell more eggs. That doesn’t mean that eggs containing dioxins haven’t been sold already, though.

 

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency webpage, dioxins are a “group of toxic chemical compounds that share certain chemical structures and biological characteristics.” [1] They can be released into the environment in many different ways, including forest fires and certain industrial activities.

 

While many people fail to realize it, most every living creature has been exposed to dioxins in some way, shape or form over time. Dioxins are not reported to be harmful at small levels, but long-term exposure or high levels could result in numerous adverse health effects, including but not limited to cancer. Exposure to high levels of dioxins have also reportedly led to reproductive and developmental problems, according to studies, and an increased risk of health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. While there are no known health effects on those who have consumed dioxins in small doses, more research does need to be done on those who are exposed to low levels of it over long periods of time, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

 

This isn’t the first time the issue of dioxins has been brought up with regards to Germany. Back in January of 2011, the European Union issued a health alert when officials discovered that animal feed had been tainted with dioxins, which was in turn fed to animals like hens and pigs and contaminating eggs, poultry and pork. Following that health alert, new measures were implemented to keep dioxin ingredients out of animal feed. Because of those new measures, and tests performed, officials do not believe the cause of this exposure was due to animal feed, and are still looking into the cause of the exposure.

 

Is there cause for concern? In Germany, there is reportedly no danger to the public. But it certainly makes everyone wonder what chemicals might be in their foods.

 

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, there are always measures being taken to lower dioxin levels in foods. Furthermore, there are regulations in place regarding dioxin emissions when it comes to industrial sources. And over time, reduced dioxin emissions will result in reduced levels of dioxins in foods. That being said, cause for concern more or less rests on your faith in the government and their efforts.

 

FoodFacts.com would like to extend our best wishes!

 


[1] Dioxin. Environmental Assessment. United States Environmental Protection Agency. <http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/CFM/nceaQFind.cfm?keyword=Dioxin>

Salmonella. Are You Up to Date on the Latest Outbreak?

FoodFacts.com will be looking at Salmonella today.

 

As of April 6, 2012, 100 people have been stricken with Salmonella in an outbreak that has spread across 19 states. The specific serotype is Salmonella Bareilly. Dates for the onset of the illness ranges from January 28 to March 25, with reported cases of the disease occurring in people ranging from 4 years of age to 78. People who are reported to have contracted Salmonella live from Texas eastward, with New York having the highest number of reported cases thus far at 23, and Arkansas, Mississippi and Missouri have the lowest number of reported cases at one. The outbreak has resulted in 10 hospitalizations, but no deaths.

 

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are working together on an investigation into the cause of this outbreak, there has yet to be an official food source identified, but it has been said that the cause of the outbreak is most definitely a food source. One possibility being investigated by the FDA is sushi, as several people who were infected reported eating sushi, sashimi, or other related products in the week prior of infection symptoms showed up.

 

This particular serotype of Salmonella is actually one of the rarer ones. Symptoms of being infected with Salmonella include:

 

-         Abdominal Cramps

-         Nausea

-         Vomiting

-         Diarrhea (which can be bloody and with mucus)

-         Headache

-         Drowsiness

-         Rose spots

 

The symptoms of Salmonella infection can typically last up to seven days, with symptoms showing up anywhere from 12 to 72 hours after coming into contact with the bacteria. Most people recover without treatment, but some may be hospitalized for dehydration caused by the symptoms of the infection.

 

Some common foods that have caused Salmonella outbreaks in the past include ground beef, ground turkey, cantaloupe, and whole, fresh imported papayas, all in 2011 alone. In 2010, alfalfa sprouts and shell eggs sickened 140 people and over 1900 people, respectively.

 

So how can you protect yourself against Salmonella? First and foremost, make sure you cook your food thoroughly. The better it’s cooked, the more likely you are to kill the germs in it. Also, make sure to wash your cooking utensils and prep area thoroughly, as well as your hands often. Finally, pay attention to the news and food recalls – if you have a product listed in a recall, don’t hesitate to get rid of it. It could save you some agony down the road. There is no medication to prevent the disease, but you can cut down your chances of developing the infection by following a few basic safety tips such as the ones listed above.

 

Wishing you a safe and healthy week from FoodFacts.com!

Food Recall: Mrs. Freshley’s Cereal Bars

Foodfacts.com
Foodfacts.com brings you the latest in food recalls! Check back daily for updates!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 4, 2011 – Flowers Foods is voluntarily recalling the following Mrs. Freshley’s multipack cereal bars, labeled in English/French for Canadian distribution, because they may contain undeclared non-fat dry milk. People who have allergies to dairy products run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products. No illnesses have been reported to date.

Mrs. Freshley’s Canadian Label Apple Cinnamon Fruit and Pastry Cereal Bars, UPC 072250002400

Mrs. Freshley’s Canadian Label Blueberry Fruit and Pastry Cereal Bars, UPC 072250002387

Mrs. Freshley’s Canadian Label Strawberry Fruit and Pastry Cereal Bars, UPC 072250002363

The recalled product involves the following distribution:

In Canada: To food and convenience stores in Quebec and Ontario provinces

In U.S: To discount stores nationwide in the dual-language (French/English) multipack carton

The recall was initiated after Flowers discovered that product containing non-fat dry milk was distributed in packaging that did not reveal the presence of milk, and that product labeled for sale and distribution in Canada was sold for distribution in the U.S.

Much of the product involved has been contained within the distribution system. Out of an abundance of caution, Flowers issued the voluntary recall and is advising its trade customers to withdraw these products from sale. The company is in the process of recovering the product involved and is in contact with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to ensure the continued safety of those consumers who may be impacted by this issue. The company also has reported the recall to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.

Canadian and U.S. consumers who have purchased the dual-language (English/French) labeled Mrs. Freshley’s cereal bars with the UPC codes noted are urged to return them to the place of purchase for product replacement or refund. No other Mrs. Freshley’s cereal bars are included in this recall; only Mrs. Freshley’s cereal bars in dual-language packages are involved.

Consumers with questions may call Flowers’ Consumer Relations Center at 1-866-245-8921. The center is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern time. Consumers also may contact the center via e-mail by visiting the Contact Us page at www.mrsfreshleys.com.

Soy Flour Recall!

soy
Foodfacts.com brings you the latest in food recalls! Check back daily for updates!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 4, 2011 – Thumb Oilseed Producer’s Cooperative of Ubly, Michigan is recalling 2623, 40 lb. bags and 360, 1500 lb. totes of soybean flour; in addition to 924, .08 ton loads of bulk soy meal because they may be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Salmonella can affect animals eating the product and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated products. Especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the product or any surfaces exposed to these products. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe or chronic illnesses.

Animals with salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and/or vomiting. Some animals will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy animals can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your animal has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

The soy flour was distributed in 40 lb. paper bags under the names:
Nex Soy (Lot numbers TF112310 thru TF033011) and
Soy Beginnings (Product Code 285100-NFB; Lot numbers TF112310 thru TF033011).
The soy flour was also distributed in 1500 lb. polyurethane totes under the name
Soy Beginnings (Product Code 285100-NFT, Lot numbers TF112310 thru TF082311).
The soy meal was distributed as .08 ton loads after custom processing with Lot numbers O011711 thru O081711.

The recalled soybean flour and meal was distributed to a limited group of wholesale customers located in Illinois, Vermont, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Canada. The shipments occurred in November 2010 thru September 2011. Thumb Oilseed is contacting these customers and taking necessary steps to protect consumer health.

No illnesses have been reported to date. The recall resulted from routine sampling conducted by the company and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which revealed the bacteria in finished product and the manufacturing environment. Thumb Oilseed is cooperating with the FDA in investigating the situation.

This recall does not involve soy oil products produced by Thumb Oilseed.

Consumers who have purchased 40 lb. bags of Nex Soy (Lot numbers TF112310 thru TF033011) and Soy Beginnings (Product Code 285100-NFB, Lot numbers TF112310 and TF033011); 1500 lb. totes of Soy Beginnings (Product Code 285100-NFT, Lot numbers TF112310 and TF092311); and bulk meal with the Lot numbers O011711 thru O081711 are urged to return them to Thumb Oilseed Producers Cooperative for a credit or a refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 989-658-2344 between 9:00 am. and 4:00 pm. EST Monday-Friday.

Kraft recalls Velveeta cheeses with thin wire pieces…

kraftshellscheesecups
Foodfacts.com brings you the latest in food recalls. Check back daily to learn more about the foods we eat everyday!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Northfield, IL., September 30 2011 – Kraft Foods Global, Inc. is voluntarily recalling three varieties of Velveeta Shells & Cheese Single Serve Microwaveable Cups with limited “best when used by” dates as a precaution due to the possible presence of small, thin wire bristle pieces.

The following products are being recalled:

velveeta-chart

For exact product images click here.

Consumers can find the “best when used by” date on the bottom of the package.

No other “best when used by” dates of Velveeta Shells & Cheese Single Serve Microwaveable Cups or any other Kraft Foods products are being recalled.

There have been no reports of consumer injuries or complaints. Kraft Foods is issuing this voluntary recall out of an abundance of caution.

Approximately 137,000 cases of the affected products were shipped to customers across the United States. The affected products were not distributed in Canada.

Consumers who purchased affected “best when used by” dates of these products should not eat them. They should return them to the store of purchase for an exchange or full refund. Consumers also can contact Kraft Foods Consumer Relations Monday through Friday at 1-800-308-1841.

The affected products were manufactured in Champaign, IL and Lakeville, MN.

Friday’s Food Recalls

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Foodfacts.com brings to you the latest news on food recalls!

True Leaf Farms is voluntarily recalling 90 cartons of chopped romaine because of the potential of contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. The recalled product was shipped between September 12 and 13 to an institutional food service distributor in Oregon who further distributed it to at least two additional states, Washington and Idaho. The romaine affected by this recall has a “use by date” of 9/29/11.
ucm273974
No illnesses related to this finding have been reported

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The recalled bags of romaine were packed in True Leaf Farms cardboard cartons and distributed by Church Brothers, LLC, and shipped between September 12 and 13, 2011. All bags carry a “use by date” of 9/29/11. Produce affected by the recall was labeled as follows:

2# bags, chopped romaine – Bag and box code B256-46438-8
Photos of the recalled product can be viewed at www.churchbrothers.com/recall. This recall includes only chopped romaine as described above.
ucm273975
FDA notified the company today that a sample taken as part of a random check from a single bag of chopped romaine tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. True Leaf Farms is working with FDA to inform consumers of this recall. In addition, the company is working with its food service distribution customers to ensure that other romaine products that may be implicated are pulled from the market.

“We are fully cooperating with the FDA, and we are contacting all of our customers to ensure prompt removal of any product potentially associated with the recall,” said Steve Church, True Leaf Farms. “We are committed to conducting this recall quickly and efficiently to reduce any risk to public health.”

Anyone who has in their possession the recalled romaine as described above should not consume it, and should either destroy it or call Church Brothers, LLC for product pickup.

Consumers with questions or who need information may call Church Brothers, LLC, the sales agent for True Leaf Farms, at 1-800-799-9475, or may visit www.churchbrothers.com for updates.

(Food and Drug Administration)

Another day, another recall!

listeria monocytogenes
Foodfacts.com urges all consumers to check pantries, refridgerators, and freezers for 16 oz containers of Publix Spinach Dip. This product was recently tested and found to have traces of Listeria monocytogenes. This can cause moderate to serious side-effects, and even fatalities in young children and elderly adults.
ucm273456

Contact:
Consumer:
1-800-242-1227
www.publix.com

Media:
Maria Brous
863-680-5339

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 26, 2011 – Publix Super Markets is issuing a voluntary recall for spinach dip because it may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes. The problem was discovered as a result of routine microbial testing conducted by Publix. The 16 ounce containers of prepackaged spinach dip were sold at Publix retail deli departments with a UPC of 41415-00062 and use by date of OCT 10 C1.

Consumption of products containing Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious and sometimes fatal infection in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.

The spinach dip was sold in Publix grocery stores in Florida. The following counties in Florida did not receive recalled product: Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Okeechobee. Publix stores in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee are not involved with this recall.

“As part of our commitment to food safety, potentially impacted product has been removed from all store shelves,” said Maria Brous, Publix media and community relations director. “To date, there have been no reported cases of illness. Consumers who have purchased the products in question may return the product to their local store for a full refund. Publix customers with additional questions may call our Consumer Relations department at 1-800-242-1227 or by visiting our website at www.publix.com.” Customers can also contact the US Food and Drug Administration at 1-888-SAFEFOOD (1-888-723-3366).

Publix is privately owned and operated by its 147,500 employees, with 2010 sales of $25.1 billion. Currently Publix has 1,038 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. The company has been named one of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For in America” for 14 consecutive years. In addition, Publix’s dedication to superior quality and customer service is recognized as tops in the grocery business, most recently by an American Customer Satisfaction Index survey.

(Food and Drug Administration)

Wire in bread sticks? Listeria in cantaloupe? Food Recalls!

Foodfacts.com brings you the latest food recalls and safety information from the Food and Drug Administration. Check back for updates on what you’re REALLY eating!

Pepperidge Farm Sesame Sticks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Norwalk, Conn., September 22, 2011 – Pepperidge Farm, Incorporated is voluntarily recalling a limited quantity of 10.2-ounce boxes of Baked Naturals Sesame Sticks as a precaution due to the possible presence of small, thin pieces of wire.

The affected product is marked with a yellow 20% More! banner across the top of the package and has the following codes on the top package flap:

W07*1781 Sell by 11/20/2011
W07*1891 Sell by 11/27/2011
W07*1921 Sell by 12/4/2011
W07*2041 Sell by 12/11/2011
W07*2061 Sell by 12/13/2011
W07*2221 Sell by 1/1/2012

No other Pepperidge Farm products are affected.

A small number of consumers have reported minor scrapes in and around the mouth. Pepperidge Farm issued the voluntmy recall out of an abundance of caution to ensure the safety of consumers.

Approximately 13,000 cases of the affected products were shipped to customers across the United States. The product is not distributed in Canada.

Consumers who have purchased this product should not eat it. They should check their pantry shelves for boxes with “Sell By” dates of 11/20/2011 through 1/1/2012 marked on the top package flaps and return them to the store of purchase for an exchange or full refund. Consumers also can contact Pepperidge Farm Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time at (866) 535-3774.

The product was manufactured in the company’s Willard, Ohio facility.

ucm273144

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 23, 2011 – Carol’s Cuts LLC, Kansas food processor, is recalling 594 pounds of fresh cut cantaloupe packaged in 5-pound trays as chunks and as an ingredient in 8-ounce mixed fruit medley because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriage and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Carol’s Cuts Fruit Medley, packaged in 8-ounce individual serving clamshell containers (6 packages per case) and 5-pound bulk trays of cantaloupe chunks were distributed to institutional food customers, including restaurants, in Overland Park, Kansas, Kansas City and Maryland Heights, Missouri and Omaha, Nebraska. Institutional customers may have used the cantaloupe on salad bars and as fruit menu items. Some institutional customers may have placed the 8-ounce servings in retail venues. Carol’s Cuts has notified all institutional customers of the recall and asked that the contaminated cantaloupe be returned or destroyed.

The Carol’s Cuts Fruit Medley product was shipped to customers on August 26 and September 12, 2011 and can be identified by oval label stickers stating Fruit Medley and having Best if Used By dates of September 3, 2011 and September 19, 2011 respectively. The 5-pound bulk trays of cantaloupe chunks were shipped to customers on August 26 and August 29, 2011 and are identified with tray stickers showing a Lot # 72361 and a Best if Used By date of September 3, 2011; and shipped September 12, 2011 and are identified with tray stickers showing a Lot # 72700 and a Best if Used By date of September 19, 2011.

The Carol’s Cuts recall is part of a larger recall involving cantaloupe traced to Rocky Ford cantaloupes produced by Jensen Farms in Holly, Colo. The Food and Drug Administration confirmed that listeria was found in samples taken from a Denver-area store and the Jensen Farms packing facility. The melons were shipped to at least 17 different states across the U.S. between July 29 and Sept. 10. As of Thursday there were eight deaths and 55 illnesses related to the contaminated cantaloupe.

Jensen Farms earlier issued a voluntary nationwide recall of its cantaloupes after news of the multi-state outbreak. Jenson Farms has ceased production and distribution of the product while FDA and the company continue their investigations as to what caused the problem.

Consumers who may have the recalled Carol’s Cuts product in their possession should return it to the place of purchase for a full refund or destroy it.

Carol’s Cuts LLC is located at 1247 Argentine Boulevard, Kansas City, KS 66105. Consumers with questions may contact the company at (913) 281-5200, Monday thru Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm.

(Food and Drug Administration)