EdNet, the National Food Safety Educator’s Network, is a monthly, multi-agency electronic news journal from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). EdNet provides up-to-date information about food safety and nutrition programs and activities for educators, consumer advocates, government officials, and industry representatives.
If you have questions or comments about this issue of EdNet, send e-mail to the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (FDA).
In this issue:
Advisories, Alerts, and Warnings
- FDA Investigates Multistate Outbreak of Cyclosporiasis
- Olde Thompson Inc. Issues a Voluntary Recall of Earth’s Pride Organics: Organic Oregano 2.2 Oz Glass Jars with Cork Closure Due to Possible Salmonella Risk (FDA)
- Western Mixers Produce & Nuts, Inc. Recalls Pistachios Because of Possible Health Risk (FDA)
- Whole Foods Market Recalls Cheese Because of Possible Health Risk (FDA)
Resources for Educators
- Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Results of Healthy Incentives Pilot; Discusses Additional USDA Efforts to Encourage Healthier SNAP Purchases
- USDA Announces Availability of Biotechnology Regulatory Petitiions and other Actions
- Blog by: Michael R. Taylor, J.D., Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, FDA, Regarding, Spirit of Cooperation Informs Guidance for Egg Producers
- Blog by: Ted Elkin is Director, Office of Analytics and Outreach, at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, entitled, FDA Uses Web Tool to Better the Odds for Food Safety
- Blog by: Michael R. Taylor, J.D., Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, FDA, Regarding, Why FDA Proposes an Action Level for Arsenic in Apple Juice
- FDA Proposes Action Level for Arsenic in Apple Juice
- FDA's Team Tomato Fights Contamination
- USDA Publishes Final Rule Establishing Definitions for Common Cultivar and Common Food Crop Terms Used in Lacey Act
- Outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg Infections Linked to a Single Poultry Producer — 13 States, 2012–2013 – MMWR, July 12, 2013
- Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks — United States, 1998–2008, MMWR, Vol. 62 / No. SS-2 (CDC)
- PFSE: Mythbusters Webinar
- ARS’ Food and Nutrition Research Briefs – July Issue (USDA)
- FDA Issues Two Proposed Rules under FSMA to Strengthen the Oversight of Imported Foods
- FDA Issues Draft Guidance to Help Egg Producers Who Provide Their Laying Hens with Outdoor Access Comply With the Egg Safety Rule
- Updated: FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Web Page
- Updated Validated Test Kit Tables Now Available (FSIS)
- FDA Steps Up Outreach on the Proposed Produce Safety Rule
- FDA Regulations No Longer Authorize the Use of BPA in Infant Formula Packaging Based on Abandonment; Decision Not Based on Safety
- FDA, Justice Department Takes Action Against Vermont Dairy Farm
- The Small Plant Help Desk: We Are Here For You! (FSIS)
- FSIS Policy Updates
FDA Investigates Multistate Outbreak of Cyclosporiasis
The FDA, CDC, and state and local officials are investigating a multi-state outbreak of Cyclospora illnesses possibly linked to undetermined food products. According to reports from the CDC, several state health departments have reported Cyclospora infections. As of July 22, 2013, CDC has been notified of more than 250 cases of Cyclospora infection in residents of multiple states, including Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Wisconsin, Georgia and Connecticut. Illinois and Kansas have also notified CDC of one case each that may have been acquired out of state. It is not yet clear whether the cases from all of the states are part of the same outbreak. The investigation into this outbreak continues, in order to identify possible sources of the outbreak.
Updates about this outbreak can be found at:
Olde Thompson Inc. Issues a Voluntary Recall of Earth’s Pride Organics: Organic Oregano 2.2 Oz Glass Jars with Cork Closure Due to Possible Salmonella Risk
Olde Thompson Inc., Oxnard, CA, in cooperation with the FDA, is recalling Earth’s Pride Organics: Organic Oregano packaged in a 2.2 oz. glass jar with cork closure, Lot #: 060367, 060692, 061252 and 061864 due to possible contamination by Salmonella. If you have the recalled product, please do not consume it. Please dispose of the recalled product and its container.
For more information about how to identify the recalled organic oregano and specific information about its distribution, go to:
Western Mixers Produce & Nuts, Inc. Recalls Pistachios Because of Possible Health Risk
On July 10, 2013, Western Mixers Produce & Nut Company of Los Angeles, California recalled ARO and/or Treasured Harvest Pistachios because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Pistachios were distributed in: California, Nevada, Ohio and Utah; through Retail Stores, Mail Order and various Distributors during the dates of: October 17, 2012 – April 29, 2013.
Updates regarding this recall can be found at:
Whole Foods Market Recalls Cheese Because of Possible Health Risk
On July 5, 2013, Whole Foods Market announced that it was recalling Crave Brothers Les Frères cheese in response to a recall by the Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company of Waterloo, Wisconsin. The cheese is being recalled because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, To date, one illness and one death have been reported. Crave Brothers was informed by regulatory agencies of an ongoing investigation related to potential health risks associated with Listeria monocytogenes. The company immediately ceased the production and distribution of the products.
For more detailed information about the recall, visit:
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Results of Healthy Incentives Pilot; Discusses Additional USDA Efforts to Encourage Healthier SNAP Purchases
On July 24, 2013, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the results of USDA's Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP) and discussed additional steps USDA and its partners are taking to encourage recipients to purchase healthy foods using SNAP benefits.
Read this news release:
USDA Announces Availability of Biotechnology Regulatory Petitiions and other Actions
On July 19, 2013, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the Agency will be sending several biotechnology regulatory actions to the Federal Register for publication in the coming weeks. Notice of publication of these actions in the Federal Register, as well as links to the regulatory documents, will be posted to the APHIS website as they become available.
Read this announcement at:
Blog by: Michael R. Taylor, J.D., Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, FDA, Regarding, Spirit of Cooperation Informs Guidance for Egg Producers
Michael R. Taylor, blogs about how the FDA went directly to the source, the farm, to make sure that the eggs you serve your family for breakfast are safe to eat. Visits to farms across the country gave the Agency a real sense of some egg producers’ practical needs and the challenges they face. This knowledge helped the FDA to craft a new draft guidance specifically intended to help those egg producers who provide their poultry with outdoor access comply with the rule’s various requirements.
Read the entire blog on FDA Voice at:
Blog by: Ted Elkin is Director, Office of Analytics and Outreach, at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, entitled, FDA Uses Web Tool to Better the Odds for Food Safety
Ted Elkin blogs about the use of FDA-iRISK, an innovative web-based food safety modeling tool, developed by the FDA and our partners and how it is used to reduce the risk in food safety.
Read the entire blog on FDA Voice at:
Blog by: Michael R. Taylor, J.D., Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, FDA, Regarding, Why FDA Proposes an Action Level for Arsenic in Apple Juice
Michael R. Taylor, blogs about how the FDA is acting to help ensure that consumers do not come in contact with apple juice that has levels of inorganic arsenic that exceed 10 parts per billion.
Read the entire blog on FDA Voice at:
FDA Proposes Action Level for Arsenic in Apple Juice
On July 12, 2013, the FDA proposed an action level of 10 parts per billion (ppb) for inorganic arsenic in apple juice. This is the same level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for arsenic in drinking water. The FDA is committed to ensuring the safety of the American food supply and to doing what is necessary to protect public health, said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. We have been studying this issue comprehensively, and based on the Agency’s data and analytical work, the FDA is confident in the overall safety of apple juice for children and adults. The FDA is establishing this threshold to provide guidance to industry. The agency takes the action level into account when considering an enforcement action, if it finds a food product exceeds the threshold.
For more detailed information about how the FDA’s testing and analysis confirm overall safety of apple juice, go to:
FDA's Team Tomato Fights Contamination
A fresh tomato is more than just a tasty addition to a sandwich or salad. To scientists at the FDA, the tomato is an enigma and the focus of a group of researchers nicknamed Team Tomato. The mystery of the tomato has to do with its vulnerability to contamination by Salmonella, a bacterium that is a common cause of foodborne illness. From 1973 to 2010, there were 15 multistate outbreaks of illnesses attributed to Salmonella contamination of raw tomatoes, with 12 of these outbreaks taking place since 2000. They resulted in almost 2,000 confirmed illnesses and three deaths, with states in the eastern U.S. hardest hit. FDA's focus has changed over the last decade to reducing contamination early in tomato production.
Read more of this Consumer Update at:
USDA Publishes Final Rule Establishing Definitions for Common Cultivar and Common Food Crop Terms Used in Lacey Act
On July 9, 2013, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a news release to announce the publishing of an interim rule establishing the definitions of common cultivar and common food crop and seeking public comment on the definitions of commercial scale and tree, terms used in the Lacey Act, a federal law that combats trafficking in illegal wildlife, fish, and plants.
Read this APHIS news release at: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/2013/07/lacey_act_final_rule.shtml
For all information related to the implementation of the Lacey Act declaration requirement and future updates as they become available, you can also visit APHIS online at:
Outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg Infections Linked to a Single Poultry Producer — 13 States, 2012–2013 – MMWR, July 12, 2013
On August 2, 2012, CDC's PulseNet detected a cluster of 19 Salmonella Heidelberg clinical isolates matching the outbreak pattern. This report summarizes the investigation by CDC, state and local health departments, the USDA-FSIS, and the FDA and reinforces the importance of safe food handling to prevent illness. A total of 134 cases from 13 states were identified, including 33 patients who were hospitalized.
Reade this MMWR report at:
Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks — United States, 1998–2008, MMWR, Vol. 62 / No. SS-2
Foodborne diseases cause an estimated 48 million illnesses each year in the United States, including 9.4 million caused by known pathogens. During 1998–2008, CDC received reports of 13,405 foodborne disease outbreaks, which resulted in 273,120 reported cases of illness, 9,109 hospitalizations, and 200 deaths. Efforts to reduce foodborne illness should focus on the pathogens and food commodities causing the most outbreaks and outbreak-associated illnesses, including beef, poultry, fish, and produce.
Read this entire MMWR report:
The Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE) has created materials for consumers and educators that debunk common home food safety myths. Brush up on safe food handling advice with Fight BAC. PFSE will be holding a Mythbusters webinar on September 5, 2013, so stay tuned for details for the full announcement in the August issue of EdNet.
For more information about the Mythbusters Campaign and the upcoming webinar, please visit:
ARS’ Food and Nutrition Research Briefs – July Issue
The USDA’s Agriculture and Research Service (ARS) has published the July 2013 issue of the Food and Nutrition Research Briefs.
To view, visit ARS-USDA on the web at:
FDA Issues Two Proposed Rules under FSMA to Strengthen the Oversight of Imported Foods
The FDA issued two proposed rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) aimed at strengthening assurances that imported food meets the same safety standards as food produced domestically. These new measures respond to the challenges of food safety in today’s global food system, in which imported food comes into the U.S. from about 150 different countries and accounts for about 15 percent of the U.S. food supply. They are part of the effort mandated by Congress to modernize the food safety system and focus on preventing food safety problems, rather than relying primarily on responding to problems after they have occurred.
Read more of this Constituent Update at: http://www.fda.gov/Food/NewsEvents/ConstituentUpdates/default.htm
FDA Issues Draft Guidance to Help Egg Producers Who Provide Their Laying Hens with Outdoor Access Comply With the Egg Safety Rule
FDA is issuing draft guidance with practical and reasonable food safety controls to help egg producers who provide their laying hens with outdoor access comply with the Egg Safety Rule and thereby prevent Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) in shell eggs. FDA believes the draft guidance will help clarify how the Egg Safety Rule applies to their operations so the egg producers can confidently and efficiently implement the appropriate food safety measures.
Read more of this Constituent Update at:
Questions and Answers Regarding the Final Rule, Prevention of Salmonella Enteritidis in Shell Eggs During Production, Storage, and Transportation (Layers with Outdoor Access) can be found at:
Updated: FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Web Page
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Web page has been updated. Read about FDA’s new toolkit with resources for farmers and view information on how FDA is progressing in implementing the FSMA mandates.
See the latest at:
Updated Validated Test Kit Tables Now Available
FSIS is announcing the availability of updated tables of validated test kits to regulated establishments. These test for the presence of relevant pathogens or indicator organisms of interest (Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC); Listeria monocytogenes and Listeria species; and Salmonella and Campylobacter species) in meat, poultry and processed egg products. These tables are intended to be informational and are not an endorsement or approval of any particular method by the agency. FSIS intends to update these tables on a quarterly basis
The tables are available at:
FDA Steps Up Outreach on the Proposed Produce Safety Rule
FDA is expanding its outreach to small- and medium-size growers to address questions that have arisen since the proposed rule was issued in January 2013. According to Michael Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, FDA expects and welcomes questions that arise during the rulemaking process. In a new interview, he emphasizes that FDA is committed to developing, with input, a final rule that prevents illnesses but that also is practical and adaptable to a wide diversity of growing conditions and practices. As part of the expanded outreach, FDA is issuing several new publications focusing on key issues such as agricultural water and alternatives and variances to certain provisions in the proposed rule.
Read more of this Constituent Update at:
FDA Regulations No Longer Authorize the Use of BPA in Infant Formula Packaging Based on Abandonment; Decision Not Based on Safety
The FDA will publish a final rule amending the food additive regulations to no longer provide for the use of bisphenol A (BPA)-based epoxy resins as coatings in infant formula packaging because this use has been abandoned. FDA’s action is based solely on a determination of abandonment and is not related to the safety of BPA. The agency’s current safety review supports the safety of BPA for use in the manufacture of food contact articles as authorized in the food additive regulations.
To read this Constituent in its entirety, visit:
FDA, Justice Department Takes Action Against Vermont Dairy Farm
The FDA has announced that the United States District Court for the District of Vermont entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Lawson Farm of Irasburg, Vermont, its owner, Robert Lawson, and its manager, George R. Lawson, for selling cows and bull calves for human food that contain illegal drug residues in violation of federal law.
Read more of this News Release at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm360026.htm
The Small Plant Help Desk: We Are Here For You!
If you are a small or very small plant, there is a valuable resource available right at your fingertips! The Small Plant Help Desk is a tool you can use as a small or very small business owner or operator to help answer questions such as: How do I apply for a grant of inspection? Who do I contact if I want to start a mobile slaughter unit? Where can I locate the How to Develop a Meat and Poultry Recall Plan online? All of these questions can be easily answered by contacting the staff at the Small Plant Help Desk.
The staff on the Help Desk have in-plant experience and expertise assisting with the grant of inspection and walking you step-by-step through the process. Staff can also assist you in finding valuable resources regarding your in-plant operations and can point you in the right direction for more specific inquiries.
The Help Desk is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST. We have staff ready to answer your calls, so you can expect someone to answer. If you do call and we are unavailable, it’s because we are either on the call with other customers or temporarily out of the office. Please be sure to leave a message or contact us by e-mail because we will get back to you! To reach the Small Plant Help Desk, call 1(877) 374-7435, or e-mail Infosource@fsis.usda.gov. We look forward to hearing from you!
For all policy questions, contact AskFSIS at:
FSIS Policy Updates
FSIS issues Notices and Directives to protect public health. The following policy updates were recently issued:
- PHIS Directive 13000.3:Responding in PHIS to Industry Appeal of a Noncompliance Record (NR)
- FSIS Notice 46-13: LIMS-Direct to Replace Learn for Sampling Data Reporting
- FSIS Notice 44-13: Notification of Availability of Establishment Guidance for the Selection of a Commercial or Private Microbiological Testing Laboratory (July 3, 2013)
- FSIS Notice 44-13: Notice of Request for Revision of a Currently Approved Information Collection (Interstate Shipment of Meat and Poultry Products)
- FSIS Directive 6130.1: Ante-Mortem, Postmortem Inspection of Equines and Documentation of Inspection Tasks
All Notices and Directives are available at: