Thursday, November 22, 2012

Do you have a Food Safety Program ?

PrimusLabs program designed for smaller growers

A three-pronged program to help small growers meet food safety requirements is in the works at PrimusLabs, with a March rollout planned.

Debra Garrison, director of business development for Santa Maria, Calif.-based PrimusLabs, said the company is working with university extension offices and county Farm Bureau Federation staffs to develop and test the program. She said 10 state agriculture departments are also working on the project.
PrimusLabs at Fresh Summit 2012Coral BeachPrimusLabs staff (from left), Anita Gonsalves, Kiley Harper-Larsen, Debra Garrison and Jaime Logan, discussed food safety programs for all sizes of operations with attendees at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2012. Garrison said a new program for smaller growers is in the pilot phase, and set to launch in March 2013.“We know a lot of smaller growers don’t have the resources and staff that larger operations have to devote to food safety plans,” Garrison said.
“We also know that there aren’t enough auditors in some regions and those are often where the smaller growers are.”
To address those issues, PrimusLabs is developing the Small Scale Local Farm Food Safety Program. Garrison said it is designed with the locally-grown movement in mind and will target growers with 100 acres or less who sell directly to local chefs, school districts, retailers and foodservice customers.
Teresa Wiemerslage, an outreach educator with the Iowa State University Extension Office, said small growers need the help. She said Nov. 14 that the ISU Extension Office has been in discussions with PrimusLabs about its new program.
About 20 produce growers Wiemerslage has been working with is one group that could benefit from the programs.
“They needed certifications to service an account,” Wiemerslage said. “But a $1,000 audit is not something that is easy for them to swallow.”
The state does not have an auditor on staff, so growers must pay to bring in auditors when they seek certification.
Such scenarios are exactly what the PrimusLabs program is designed to address, Garrison said. The program allows smaller growers to have access to a larger pool of independent third-party contract auditors who should be able to provide audits for a few hundred dollars instead of more than $1,000.
One prong of the program will help university extension programs identify, qualify and train independent third-party contract auditors by targeting graduate students and retired extension agents.
To learn more, click here

Source : The Packer, Coral Beach, 11/15/2012 9:17 AM 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

In security with Food and Drug Administration

Food recalls spike in the third quarter

The number of food recalls spiked in the third quarter this year, according to new data from Indianapolis-based ExpertRECALL Stericyle.

The report revealed 414 food recalls during the quarter, about four recalls per day — 2.5 times that of the second quarter, according to the report.
Food recalls published on the Food and Drug Administration’s website during the third quarter reached the highest level in the last two and a half years, according to the report. For the third quarter 2011, the number of food recalls totaled less than 150.
The ExpertRECALL third-quarter statistics were not segregated by type of food (such as fresh produce or meat). Salmonella, listeria, E. Coli and botulism accounted for 74% of recalls publicized during that time period. Part of the surge in food recalls was likely linked to numerous mango recalls from 15 companies from late August to late September. Those recalls were linked to as many as 1 million Daniella brand mangoes, recalled because of a link to a salmonella outbreak.
More than 55% of all food recalled in the third quarter were part of Class 1 recalls, according to the report. Class 1 recalls put consumer at the highest risk, according to the FDA’s classification.
Of the more than 400 food recalls in the third quarter, the ExpertRECALL report said that 359 of those recalls affected consumers only in certain U.S. states, with 30 affecting consumers nationwide.
The report is based on FDA enforcement reports and news releases, which don’t always categorize the recall information by type of food products, said Mike Rozembajgier, vice president of recalls for ExpertRECALL-Stericyle.
He speculated one reason for the spike in food recalls in the third quarter of 2012 may be linked to “follow-on” recalls, which occur when a product is used as an ingredient.
The ExpertRECALL quarterly recall report has been issued for more than a year. By early to mid next year, Rozembajgier said the company hopes to issue industry-specific trend reports on FDA recalls.
Rozembajgier said the company works with suppliers and retailers in the event of a recall. In 20 years in business, the company has handled more than 3,000 recalls.
“When a recall hits, we can assist (the industry) in the logistics necessary to get the product out of the market place, taking the calls from business partners or consumers, work with getting the message out and notifying the public about the recall,” he said.
The company also collects and counts recalled product in warehouses and makes sure recalled product is destroyed, he said. The firm also has a call center to help deal with questions from consumers on food recalls.
To learn more about this article click here.
Source : The Packer, Tom Karst.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

E. coli lasts longer in Salinas soil, study says

According to Packer Daily, a new research finds the pathogen E. coli lives 10 more days in soils from California's Salinas Valley.

E. coliNew research finds the pathogen E. coli O157:H7 lives about 30 days in soils from California’s Salinas Valley — 10 days more than in the state’s Imperial Valley or Yuma, Ariz.
Lower salinity in Salinas irrigation water is the main cause of the difference, said Mark Ibekwe, a microbiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Riverside, Calif.
Ibekwe and three colleagues published their findings, “Persistence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Major Leafy Green Producing Soils,” in the journal Environmental Science & Technology in October.
The results were based on laboratory-tested soil samples. Field studies of E. coli are typically limited to nonpathogenic varieties.
Increasing salinity in Salinas water would not be realistic or beneficial for leafy greens growers there, Ibekwe said. Nevertheless, the research underscores the importance of keeping new pathogens from entering the fields.
“You don’t want to introduce another variable into the farming environment that will ultimately cause adverse effects on the crops and result in lower yield,” Ibekwe said. “Because of how salinity will react with other factors there, we are not suggesting that.
“What we’re saying is that because we know there’s a longer survival in the Salinas area, we should be very, very careful in introducing pathogens from manure, poorly composted materials or any source at all into the farming environment,” he said.
Imperial and Yuma irrigation water has higher salinity because it’s drawn from rivers, Ibekwe said, whereas Salinas depends on groundwater.
To a lesser extent, the research also links longer survival to higher levels of organic carbon in Salinas soils. Total nitrogen is another contributor, the scientists said, but that shed little light in this case because the three regions have similar levels.
These factors add to a list of others previously identified such as temperature, pH level and moisture content.
The research was funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Agricultural Research Service.
It’s not the only E. coli research tied to the Salinas Valley.
In 2011, Steven Koike, plant pathology farm advisor at University of California Cooperative Extension, Monterey County, began a two-year study of survival on lettuce residue plowed back into soil. That project was funded for $118,000 by the Center for Produce Safety.
Source : Packer Daily, 11/14/2012 6:13:12 PM, Mike Hornick