$6.5 Million Verdict in Landmark Salmonella Case
On March 1, 2018, an Arizona federal court jury returned a verdict in the amount of $6.5 million in favor of a 5-and-a-half-year-old child who suffered a brain injury as a result of a Salmonella Heidelberg infection from chicken produced by Foster Poultry Farms. The case established that chicken producers can be held responsible for Salmonella contamination on raw chicken product even though the USDA does not consider Salmonella an “adulterant” in raw chicken and even though the bacteria can be killed by cooking.
New Standard for Regenerative Agriculture
The Carbon Underground and Green America, in partnership with Ben & Jerry’s (Unilever), DanoneWave, Annie’s (General Mills), and MegaFood have begun development of a global verification standard for food grown in a regenerative manner. The standard seeks to encourage farmers to restore the carbon cycle and build soil health, crop resilience, and nutrient density. The core design team for the new standard includes farmers, ranchers, soil scientists, and certification experts and includes input and agreement from nearly 50 organizations on the goals of the new standard. Benefits of the standard include greater food security, more stable supply chains, greater viability of farmers, and drawdown of carbon from the atmosphere to mitigate climate change and rebalance the carbon cycle.
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service’s 2016 Pesticide Data Program (PDP) annual summary shows more than 99.5% of the over 10,000 samples tested had pesticide residues well below benchmark levels established by the EPA and 22% had no detectable residue. PDP scientists and staff test a wide variety of domestic and imported foods. PDP data is used by EPA to conduct dietary risk assessments and to ensure that any pesticide residues in foods remain at safe levels and adverse health effects are unlikely. The data also provides regulators, farmers, processors, manufacturers, consumers, and scientists with important insights into the actual levels of pesticide residues on popular foods. For printed copies, send e-mail via [email protected].
The USDA’s Farmers.gov is a new interactive one-stop website for producers maintained. The site will allow agricultural producers to make appointments with USDA offices, file forms, and apply for USDA programs.
Reflections on Food Recalls
The recently released Q4 2017 Recall Index from Stericycle Expert Solutions revealed that the food and beverage industry experienced the most dramatic spike in units recalled over the past five years. Food products recalled by FDA skyrocketed 92.7% since 2012, and recalled pounds regulated by USDA, jumped 83.4% in the same period. Technological improvements in food testing, combined with factory farming and growing automation in food production were major drivers of the increases. Undeclared food allergens and bacterial contamination such as Listeria were the most consistent culprits that only worsened over the years. Approximately 28% of FDA food recalls were due to bacterial contamination in 2012, with that number jumping to 31.3% by year-end 2017.
FDA releases the 2017 edition of the FDA Food Code, a model regulation that provides all levels of government and retail industry with practical, science-based guidance and manageable provisions for reducing the known risks of foodborne illness. Significant changes to the 2017 Food Code include a revised requirement for the person in charge to be a certified food protection manager; a new section that addresses the use of bandages, finger cots, or finger stalls; harmonized cooking time/temperature parameters for intact and non-intact meat and poultry in accordance with USDA’s FSIS; and updated procedures to continue during an extended water or electrical outage if a written emergency operation plan has been pre-approved by the regulatory authority. The 2017 FDA Food Code is available at http://www.fda.gov/FoodCode.