U.S. Approves Chinese Genetically Modified Rice
As reported by Reuters, a rice genetically modified (GMO) by Chinese researchers to resist pests has passed safety inspections by authorities in the U.S., allowing for its sale there even though Beijing continues to prohibit planting of any GMO food grain. The rice, known as Huahui 1, was developed by a team at Huazhong University in central Hubei province to resist pests like the rice stem borer. While Chinese authorities granted the strain a safety certificate in 2009, it has never been approved for commercial production. Beijing has spent billions of dollars researching GMO crops but has held back from commercial production of any food grains because of consumer concerns about their safety. Validation of the country’s GMO safety testing and products by U.S. authorities could help persuade the government and consumers in China to accept the products at home.
Finding Sources of Foodborne Illnesses
The Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration (IFSAC) releases a report titled “Foodborne illness source attribution estimates for 2013 for Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter using multi-year outbreak surveillance data, United States.” The authors used outbreak data to update previous analyses. CDC estimates that, together, these four pathogens cause 1.9 million cases of foodborne illness in the U.S. each year. The report noted that Salmonella illnesses came from a wide variety of foods; E. coli O157 illnesses were most often linked to vegetable row crops (such as leafy greens) and beef; Listeria monocytogenes illnesses were most often linked to fruits and dairy products; and non-dairy Campylobacter illnesses were most often linked to chicken. IFSAC indicated that attribution percentage for dairy was not included in this analysis because, among other reasons, most foodborne Campylobacter outbreaks were associated with unpasteurized milk, which is not widely consumed, and likely over-represents dairy as a source of Campylobacter illness.
USDA’s FSIS proposes to amend the egg products inspection regulations by requiring official plants that process egg products to develop HACCP systems and Sanitation SOPs and to meet other sanitation requirements consistent with the meat and poultry regulations. FSIS is proposing that facilities will be required to produce finished egg products free of detectable pathogens. The regulatory amendment is also said to remove unnecessary regulatory obstacles to innovation.
According to “Impacts of the 2014-2015 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Outbreak on the U.S. Poultry Sector,” a new report from USDA’s Economic Research Service, between December 2014 and June 2015, more than 50 million chickens and turkeys in the U.S. died of highly pathogenic avian influenza or were destroyed to stop the spread of the disease. These birds accounted for about 12% of the U.S. table-egg laying population and 8% of the estimated inventory of turkeys grown for meat. In response to this historic animal-disease event, many destination markets for U.S. poultry commodities levied trade restrictions on U.S. poultry exports, distorting markets and exacerbating economic losses.
USDA’s FSIS also proposes to amend the federal meat inspection regulations by establishing a new voluntary inspection system for market hog slaughter facility called the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS), while also requiring additional pathogen sampling for all swine slaughter facilities. According to the agency, market hogs are uniform, healthy, young animals that can be slaughtered and processed in this modernized system more efficiently with enhanced process control. For market hog establishments that opt into NSIS, the proposed rule would increase the number of offline USDA inspection tasks, while continuing 100% FSIS carcass-by-carcass inspection.
FDA scientists releases their quantitative risk assessment model using a discrete event framework to quantify and study the risk associated with norovirus transmission to consumers through food contaminated by infected food employees in a retail food setting. According to the agency, norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness in the U.S. Food employee contact with raw or other ready-to-eat foods is the most common scenario resulting in foodborne norovirus outbreaks. The objective of this risk assessment was to evaluate the impact of prevention strategies and their level of compliance on contaminated food servings and the number resulting infected consumers; and to provide a basis for potential changes regarding Employee Health for the 2017 FDA Food Code.
In other news, the U.S. FDA has released five guidance documents to help importers and food producers meet key food safety provisions mandated by FSMA. Two of these documents, a draft guidance and a Small Entity Compliance Guide, are meant to help industry meet the requirements of the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) regulation. The third draft guidance addresses the term “same level of public health protection” that is used in both the FSVP regulation and the Produce Safety regulation. This draft guidance provides a framework for determining the adequacy of a process, procedure, or other action intended to provide the same level of protection as those required under FSMA for produce and for human or animal food. The fourth guidance is another chapter in the draft guidance that FDA has been issuing to help food processors and manufacturers comply with the regulation implementing FSMA’s requirements for hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls for human food. This chapter is designed to help food facilities comply with the supply-chain program requirements of that regulation. The final guidance announces the agency’s intention to exercise enforcement discretion with regard to FSVP for certain importers of grains brought into the U.S. as raw agricultural commodities. More information about these guidance documents can be found at FDA.gov.
France’s Lactalis Forced into New Recall in Baby Milk Scare
As reported by Reuters in January, French dairy group Lactalis is widening a product recall to cover all baby milk manufactured by a factory at the center of a Salmonella contamination. The move comes as the government seeks to contain reputational damage to France’s strategic agri-business industry in overseas markets. At least three dozen children have fallen ill in France and at one other in Spain. Lactalis management said it would recall all infant formula milk products made at its Craon factory that were still in warehouses and on store shelves, regardless of the date of manufacture. The tough measure reflects high-level frustration at the botched handling of the crisis after France’s biggest supermarkets, including Carrefour, Auchan, and Leclerc, said that some Lactalis products subject to recalls in December still found their way onto their shelves.
Retail Food Waste Action Guide
ReFED launches the Retail Food Waste Action Guide, which finds that food waste represents an $18.2 billion opportunity for grocery retailers. Developed in partnership with the Food Waste Reduction Alliance and its members, the guide supports grocery retailers in developing and implementing prevention, recovery, and recycling solutions to help the industry prioritize and accelerate waste reduction activities. It was created with input from more than 30 expert contributors, including major retailers such as Ahold Delhaize USA, Albertsons, Kroger, Publix, Safeway, Target, Wegmans, Walmart, and Whole Foods. The guide finds that, on average, the value of wasted food in retail is equal to roughly double the profits from food sales; prevention solutions such as dynamic pricing and markdowns have the highest profit potential; and new digital technologies such as ride-sharing platforms and chain-of-custody records are being applied to food waste through solutions like dynamic routing and cold chain management.
SGS of Geneva, Switzerland, acquires Vanguard Sciences.
The American Botanical Council (ABC)-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program changes its names to ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program.
Limagrain Céréales Ingredients partners with Novolyze to reinforce the microbiological control of its proprietary heat process for flours.
PerkinElmer collaborates with TeakOrigin to develop technology that uses a single platform to analyze food for key indicators that determine authenticity, quality, and freshness.
Matrix Sciences acquires Neumann Risk Services.
The International Food Protection Training Institute moves to new office in Portage, Mich.
IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group acquires all assets related to the Sample6 DETECT platform.
GFSI forms public-private partnership with the Argentinian Ministry of Agribusiness to work together on a national training program based on GFSI’s Global Markets Program.
Diversey unveils new brand identity to differentiate itself in the global hygiene marketplace and reflect its customer-first ethos.
Sterigenics International changes its parent company name to Sotera Health LLC. Its three operating companies—Nelson Labs, Nordion, and Sterigenics—will maintain their current names.
Food Safety Net Services opens analytical laboratory for the food and consumables industry in Atlanta, Ga.
The U.S. FDA discontinues the Food Advisory Committee.
ScanTech Sciences’ first Electronic Cold-Pasteurization Center is slated to open and be operational in late Spring 2018.
Northwest Food Processors Association changes its name to Food Northwest.