Enforcement – Food Safety Website https://www.storkxx.com Breaking news for everyone's consumption Sun, 23 Aug 2020 21:26:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.4&lxb_maple_bar_source=lxb_maple_bar_source https://www.storkxx.com/files/2018/05/cropped-siteicon-32x32.png Enforcement – Food Safety Website https://www.storkxx.com 32 32 Audit finds issues with Norway’s import control system not resolved https://www.storkxx.com/2020/08/audit-finds-issues-with-norways-import-control-system-not-resolved/ https://www.storkxx.com/2020/08/audit-finds-issues-with-norways-import-control-system-not-resolved/#respond Mon, 24 Aug 2020 04:03:49 +0000 https://www.storkxx.com/?p=196845 Continue Reading]]> Norway must improve its import control system for products of animal origin, according to a report from the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

The recommendations by the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) follow an updated country profile in July 2020, assessing Norway’s performance in food and veterinary areas. This profile is based on a general review audit by ESA in the country in February 2020.

In this audit, ESA assessed how Norway has followed up on 38 open recommendations out of 54 made in visits between October 2016 and December 2018.

The EFTA Surveillance Authority monitors compliance with European Economic Area (EEA) rules in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Country profiles have information on how control systems for food and feed safety, animal health and welfare are organized. To verify actions taken to address recommendations issued in sector-specific audits, ESA conducts a general review audit.

Veterinary checks on animal products
Although Norway has made good progress to address most points, it has not yet taken appropriate measures to address recommendations made on the import control system following a visit in October 2017 on the use of TRACES in import and trade, according to ESA.

TRACES NT is the European Commission’s online platform for sanitary and phytosanitary certification needed to import animals, animal products, food and feed of non-animal origin and plants into the EU. More than 40,000 users from 85 countries employ it.

ESA required improvements to ensure that all animal products from third countries undergo veterinary checks at the Norwegian border. A case has now been opened to investigate further.

One of the recommendations that ESA judged appropriate measures were not taken in a timely manner concerned authorities ensuring that no consignments in transit from a non-EEA country are introduced into the area without undergoing the necessary veterinary checks.

The other was about Norway ensuring customs authorities allow the intended customs-approved treatment or use of the consignments only in accordance with regulation.

Norway response
During the general review audit Mattilsynet (Norwegian Food Safety Authority) informed the ESA that outstanding issues will be completed by development of IT solutions within the customs digitalization program, in which the TREFF-project is a central part. Deadline for full implementation is 2024.

The ESA may send a letter of formal notice to a country, indicating it considers them to be in breach of their obligations. If the issues are not resolved, the ESA may deliver a reasoned opinion, requiring them to comply with the EEA rules in question. If the country still does not comply, the ESA can refer the matter to the EFTA Court.

In November 2019 the ESA carried out a check on hygiene in milk and meat, and their products. The final report was published in May 2020. An audit on ready to eat food is planned for fall this year and one on veterinary medicinal products and residues has been postponed until 2021.

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Warning letters sent because of dangerous mislabeling https://www.storkxx.com/2020/08/warning-letters-sent-because-of-dangerous-mislabeling/ https://www.storkxx.com/2020/08/warning-letters-sent-because-of-dangerous-mislabeling/#respond Mon, 24 Aug 2020 04:01:00 +0000 https://www.storkxx.com/?p=196803 Continue Reading]]> Editor’s note: As part of its enforcement activities, the Food and Drug Administration sends warning letters to entities under its jurisdiction. Some letters are not posted for public view until weeks or months after they are sent. Business owners have 15 days to respond to FDA warning letters. Warning letters often are not issued until a company has been given months to years to correct problems.

Two food firms have received warning letters for misbranding. Misbranding is a food safety concern because undeclared allergens and other labeling problems are a serious threat to public health.

Winter Gardens Quality Foods Inc.
New Oxford, PA

A company in Pennsylvania is on notice from the FDA for not declaring milk, a major food allergen, on Whole Foods brand Vodka Sauce’s finished product label. This was the result of a mistaken switching of product labels. 

In a Aug. 5 warning letter the FDA explains its inspectors determined that Winter Gardens Quality Foods Inc. did not follow the requirements of the Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food regulation (CGMP & PC rule).

On March 20, after the firm was notified by a customer of a mislabeled product, the firm recalled the Whole Foods brand Vodka Sauce. The Vodka Sauce, which contains milk, was mislabeled with Puttanesca Sauce back panel ingredient labels that do not declare milk. 

The firm stated “the associate that was changing over the label machine did not properly check the new roll of labels.” On June 10 the company provided an updated “Procedure for Proper Packaging and Labeling,” and records of employee training as evidence of corrective actions taken by your firm. The FDA will verify implementation of any corrective actions during the next inspection of their facility.

The full warning letter can be viewed here.

Pero Family Farms Food Company LLC
Delray Beach, FL

A company in Florida is on notice from the FDA for not declaring egg and milk, major food allergens, on Zucchini Spiral Pesto Side Dish Kits finished product labels. This was the result of a mistaken switching of product labels.

In Aug. 5 warning letter the FDA explains that they have determined that Pero Family Farms Food Company, LLC did not follow the requirements of the Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food regulation (CGMP & PC rule).

On March 10, after the firm was notified by a customer of a mislabeled product, the it recalled Zucchini Spiral Pesto Side Dish Kits. The Zucchini Spiral Pesto Side Dish Kits were mislabeled with a sweet teriyaki veggie rice back panel label that does not declare egg and milk ingredients. The firm provided corrective and preventive actions to the Office of Human and Animal Food Operations East Division 4 Recall Coordinator (DRC) by email on April 9 stating, “(redacted).” The FDA will verify implementation of any corrective actions during the FDA’s next inspection of your facility.

The full warning letter can be viewed here.

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Sept. 22 set for virtual public meeting on Salmonella https://www.storkxx.com/2020/08/sept-22-set-for-virtual-public-meeting-on-salmonella/ https://www.storkxx.com/2020/08/sept-22-set-for-virtual-public-meeting-on-salmonella/#respond Sat, 22 Aug 2020 04:03:29 +0000 https://www.storkxx.com/?p=196817 Continue Reading]]> The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Food Safety (OFS) and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) are hosting a virtual public meeting on Salmonella with participation from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The FSIS staff will discuss the agency’s commitment to reduce pathogen contamination by leading with science, building relationships, and influencing behavior change to decrease Salmonella infections associated with FSIS-regulated products and save lives.

The week prior to the public meeting, the OFS will release the “Roadmap to Reducing Salmonella: Driving Change through Science-Based Policy,” which outlines how OFS and FSIS will advance programs and policies that are science-based, data-driven, and promote innovation to reduce Salmonella in meat, poultry, and egg products.

Salmonella is an important foodborne pathogen of concern in multiple FSIS-regulated food products. To address foodborne sources of Salmonella, FSIS is committed to aggressively targeting Salmonella in regulated meat, poultry, and processed egg products through various strategies and initiatives. The public meeting is part of FSIS’ efforts to be transparent and share data with stakeholders, including regulated establishments, other government agencies, industry groups, and the public.

FSIS is announcing that it will hold a virtual public meeting through a Federal Register notice and the agency is seeking comments on the Salmonella initiatives addressed at the public meeting. Industry, interested individuals, organizations, and other stakeholders are invited to participate in the public meeting and to comment on the Roadmap data and science that drive FSIS’ Salmonella reduction efforts. Interested parties should submit comments on or before September 25, 2020 at http://www.regulations.gov.

The virtual public meeting is set for Sept. 22 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. EDT. Questions must be submitted by Sept. 10 to FRN@usda.gov. Stakeholders will have an opportunity to provide oral comments during the public meeting. Stakeholders must notify FSIS during registration of their wish to speak at the meeting. The meeting is virtual and will be viewed via the Webex link provided by email when you register for the meeting. There is no fee to register for the public meeting, but pre-registration is mandatory for participants attending. All attendees must register online at https://ems8.intellor.com?do=register&t=1&p=831058.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety Website, click here.)

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Farmer guilty of putting metal in baby food https://www.storkxx.com/2020/08/farmer-guilty-of-putting-metal-in-baby-food/ https://www.storkxx.com/2020/08/farmer-guilty-of-putting-metal-in-baby-food/#respond Fri, 21 Aug 2020 04:05:43 +0000 https://www.storkxx.com/?p=196754 Continue Reading]]> A man who put shards of metal in baby food jars in the United Kingdom has been found guilty of blackmail and contaminating goods.

Nigel Wright began threatening supermarket chain Tesco in spring 2018, writing to his local store in Lincolnshire and warning unless they paid him £750,000 ($982,000) worth of bitcoin – an online currency that would allow the 45-year-old to remain anonymous – he would spike food on their shelves.

Under the pseudonym ‘Guy Brush’, Wright, a farmer, demanded larger sums of money up to £1.5 million ($1.96 million) in bitcoin, telling Tesco he would also contaminate jars with Salmonella, white powder and knives.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in late September.

Heinz and Cow & Gate baby food recalled
In mid-December 2019, a mother in Lockerbie found small knife fragments in the baby food she was about to give her child. When a nationwide recall was issued in that month, a family in Rochdale also contacted the company saying they had thrown out two tins of baby food containing metal.

Cow and Gate baby food recalled in January 2020

This recall involved Heinz and Tesco removing from sale all of the 7+ months Heinz By Nature baby food range after the discovery that a jar had been tampered with as two sharp metal fragments were found in the pot. One month later, Cow & Gate and Tesco recalled 15 varieties of 7+ month Cow & Gate baby food jars sold in the UK following concerns some may have been tampered with.

Wright is believed to have placed three jars of baby food with shards of metal in two Tesco stores between May 2018 and February 2020.

Charles White, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Wright demanded an extraordinary amount of money, and was so determined to secure it that he was prepared to contaminate children’s food on supermarket shelves. It is a testament to the vigilance of parents and the swift action taken by the supermarket, police and other agencies that the public were kept safe.”

Investigation and arrest
When arrested in February 2020, Wright told police he had been threatened to do the extortion by people who said they would harm his family if he did not.

The investigation was run by the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit assisted by partners including the National Crime Agency as well as Tesco, Heinz and Cow & Gate. It was supported by the Food Standards Agency, Food Standards Scotland, Public Health England, Public Health Scotland and Police Scotland.

Operation Hancock, which was the largest blackmail inquiry ever in the UK was led by Hertfordshire Assistant Chief Constable Bill Jephson.

“Throughout this investigation, our key focus was to safeguard the public and identify the individual or group involved as they clearly had no concern for the impact of their actions. I hope the conviction of Nigel Wright will serve as a deterrent to anyone who thinks blackmail is a viable criminal option. The resources available to law enforcement to respond to threats of this nature are significant as crimes like this will simply not be tolerated,” he said.

The prosecution was able to prove there was no evidence to support Wright’s claims. Instead, Hertfordshire police found material which pointed to the fact he had acted alone.

Evidence against Wright
A laptop was discovered in his Toyota with draft copies of the extortion letters and access to the email account that “Guy Brush” had used to communicate with Tesco.

Wright searched online for “tesco tampered” and “boy autopsy” and had read an article about the recall of baby food.

The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, also known as the Old Bailey, was shown photos Wright had taken of contaminated jars, positioned next to small knives and with small, green markings on the base of the jar.

As the blackmail continued, an officer posed as a Tesco employee and gave Wright an access code for the £100,000 ($131,000) worth of bitcoin. When Wright was arrested, he had a copy of this access code written on a piece of paper.

White said evidence included the laptop, images Wright had taken of contaminated food and the bitcoin access code.

“He created an elaborate lie saying that he himself was blackmailed, but it is clear Wright was the only person responsible for potentially putting the public’s safety at risk.”

Wright was found guilty of three counts of blackmail and two counts of contaminating goods after a nine day trial. He was remanded in custody and will be sentenced in late September.

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Administrative action light against large establishments during ‘COVID-19 Quarter’ https://www.storkxx.com/2020/08/administrative-action-light-against-large-establishments-during-covid-19-quarter/ https://www.storkxx.com/2020/08/administrative-action-light-against-large-establishments-during-covid-19-quarter/#respond Wed, 19 Aug 2020 04:05:26 +0000 https://www.storkxx.com/?p=196685 Continue Reading]]> Only a handful of large meat and poultry establishments were subjected to administrative action by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service this past quarter when the industry came under pandemic pressures.

Food Safety Website previously reported production during the April to June quarter kept fairly close to normal at 85.5 percent for livestock and 96.29 percent for poultry. Slaughter was disrupted during the quarter by numerous temporary plant shutdowns and production cutbacks as companies struggled with adjustments related to COVID-19.

The situation became serious enough that by April 28 that the White House empowered USDA, under the Defense Production Act, to keep meat and poultry plants operating while they managed their way through employee COVID-19 illnesses.

During the tumultuous quarter, USDA inspection personnel took administrative actions against only 17 large establishments. USDA was also charged during the quarter with implementing the guidance for meat and poultry plants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to minimize virus spread. That activity is not included in the report.

Here’s what it does say about large plant enforcement activities:

  • JBS and Smithfield Fresh Meat, which were among the temporary closures, led the large establishment administrative actions detailed in the FSIS quarterly enforcement report.
  • The JBS beef plant at Greeley, CO, got a warning letter on May 14 for sanitation violations the in December 2019. The JBS beef plant at Grand Island, NE, was cited for inhumane treatment at slaughter on June 27 this year.
  • A warning letter was sent by FSIS to the JBS pork facility at Ottumwa, IA, on May 11 for sanitation and HACCP violations in December 2019. At its Marshalltown, IA, pork facility, JBS got a deferral for an inhumane treatment at slaughter violation.
  • The Smithfield Fresh Meat Corp. plant in Milan, MO, was also subject to a May 28, 2020 warning letter for inhumane treatment at slaughter. And at Monmouth, IL, a May 8, 2020, warning letter for an inhumane treatment at slaughter incident also went to Smithfield.
  • Three other companies — FPL Foods LLC in Augusta, GA, Preferred Freezer of Elizabeth, NJ, and Sterling Foods of Union City, CA — were subjects of warning letters for violating regulatory control actions.

Other large establishments against which FSIS took administrative action include Agri Star Meat and Poultry LLC, Postville, IA, for inhumane slaughter; Allen Harim Foods, Harbeson, DE, for sanitation; Butterball LLC, Carthage, MO, for sanitation, HACCP; Indiana Packers, Delphi, IN, for inhumane slaughter; Jennie O Turkey, Faribault, MN, for  sanitation, HACCP; Pitman Farms, Moroni, UT, for sanitation, HACCP; Washington Beef, LLC, Toppenish, WA, sanitation, HACCP; and Whole Stone Farms, Fremont, NE, for inhumane slaughter,

The report for the government’s third quarter, covering the period from April 1 to June 30, shows FSIS inspection personnel inspected 35.67 million livestock carcasses, down from 42.90 million in the second quarter of the fiscal year. Because of interruptions in production, meat industry experts say animals slaughtered later in the quarter were fatter than normal.  That means the gap between this quarter and the previous is likely even narrower.

Meat and poultry shortages were forecast at the time the White House opted to use the Defense Production Act for the industry. While shortages were largely avoided, consumers started the grilling season paying about 10 percent more than a year earlier for beef products.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety Website, click here.)

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FSA: Tech is useful but cannot replace physical inspection https://www.storkxx.com/2020/08/fsa-tech-is-useful-but-cannot-replace-physical-inspection/ https://www.storkxx.com/2020/08/fsa-tech-is-useful-but-cannot-replace-physical-inspection/#respond Sat, 15 Aug 2020 04:08:00 +0000 https://www.storkxx.com/?p=196589 Continue Reading]]> Remote food safety assessments are useful but cannot replace a physical inspection, according to the Food Standards Agency.

Virtual food hygiene inspections are being used in the United Kingdom but local authorities cannot give a business a food hygiene rating based only on a digital overview.

Michael Jackson, head of the FSA’s Regulatory Compliance Division, said the global spread of coronavirus has brought an unprecedented set of challenges.

“During this difficult time, new and innovative ways to help local authorities form a view of food hygiene standards at businesses have been developed. These offer real potential for the future but have not yet been properly tried and tested,” he said.

“Our view is that, at present, remote food safety assessments conducted virtually are a useful tool to help inform a view of a business’s hygiene standards, but they cannot replace a physical inspection. Remote food safety assessments are not suitable for all businesses and where they have been used during the pandemic we will be evaluating the experience of local authorities and food businesses to determine the appropriate circumstances for them to be used to inform inspections in the longer term.”

A council’s experience
In the initial phases of the pandemic, FSA advised local authorities to defer planned inspections and focus resources on urgent reactive work, such as investigating foodborne outbreaks and doing remote assessments of poorly compliant and other high-risk businesses with onsite visits only where there was evidence of potentially serious public health risks.

In late June, the advice changed with the focus on resuming physical inspections for poorly compliant and high-risk businesses, including those that changed activities during the pandemic or reopened after a prolonged closure. Initial remote assessment will be used to target areas to focus on during the subsequent onsite visit to manage resources and minimize time onsite.

Tendring District Council’s environmental health team piloted Digital Inspections from Scores on the Doors (SOTD), allowing staff at the council in Essex, England, to inspect food premises remotely during the shutdown. The tool was put together after a conversation with Transparency Data when the country went into lockdown.

Tendring has been using virtual inspections for COVID-19 checks, low-risk food inspections, and to offer guidance; allowing staff to see the inside of premises when site visits were not possible and respond to questions quickly.

The council is speaking with the FSA about using virtual inspections and sharing findings from the work. The agency contacted the council to remind them the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) Brand Standard only permits ratings to be given following an inspection, partial inspection, or audit.

A wider conversation to be had
The FSA is gathering case studies from local authorities on their experience of using remote assessment to inform hygiene inspections. The agency will also be doing a formal evaluation looking at appropriate circumstances for using this approach in the longer term based on local authority and food businesses’ experiences. This will begin in the autumn.

Each business is given a score from A to D with A being the highest risk. For example, a hospital would be classed as A, while a corner shop with pre-wrapped sweets would be a D. Remote inspections are aimed at lower risk sites to help with the backlog facing councils due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of local authority resources. Many businesses adapted to takeaway services during the outbreak.

Limitations with virtual assessments include what can be observed using technology, and officers cannot use techniques associated with a physical inspection to find pest control, cross-contamination, and temperature issues. There can also be problems with the integrity of evidence supplied virtually.

View on the ground
An experienced environmental health officer (EHO) said technology certainly has a role to play as part of the job but not for inspections.

“An inspection is unannounced, here I am, I am looking everywhere. If it’s a pub that one of our contractors inspected and the toilet seats were kicked off, the door locks smashed and the cellar needed a paint. I am happy to accept a series of photos, a What’s App video and some invoices from the contractors and the FSA says we can comply with those,” the EHO told Food Safety Website.

“If it saves a long drive to premises just to see that I am fine with it but not an inspection that turns out a risk rating for how soon we go back, what we are doing and also the food hygiene rating. You want to be looking under everywhere, smelling and getting the feel for it. I can’t check the use-by dates and fridge door seals. I am not against modern technology but not for inspections. I’ve been to places for years and then they’ll let slip about some walk-in freezers upstairs. So what’s it going to be like with the food business operator holding the camera? You can’t replace an hour on-site with someone walking around with a phone.

“It’s the terminology and what you apply it to, an inspection is completely different than checking those little things. I am fully supportive of keeping the core code of practice, the brand standard, and the core interventions of inspection, re-visits, advice visits, and notices and blending in some of these other techniques. A picture can provide more intelligence to inform my next onsite inspection. We can give businesses an opportunity to send us stuff showing what they do. Use the technology, make it easier, make us better informed and give a business the opportunity to respond but not to replace the inspection.”

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Inquiry criticizes handling of I Cook Foods Listeria case https://www.storkxx.com/2020/08/inquiry-criticizes-handling-of-i-cook-foods-listeria-case/ https://www.storkxx.com/2020/08/inquiry-criticizes-handling-of-i-cook-foods-listeria-case/#respond Thu, 13 Aug 2020 04:08:21 +0000 https://www.storkxx.com/?p=196517 Continue Reading]]> A parliamentary inquiry into the closure of an Australian catering business has found the council failed in its role as a regulator.

I Cook Foods, which provided pre-packed meals to hospitals and the aged care sector, was temporarily closed in February 2019 during attempts to find the source of infection after an 86-year-old woman with listeriosis died.

The investigation led to a closure order which ultimately resulted in the loss of contracts and clients, employees being made redundant, and shutting down the business. Witnesses told the inquiry it was not normal for a site to remain shut under a closure order for a month. I Cook Foods was charged with 48 breaches of the Food Act but these were later dropped by the City of Greater Dandenong.

Council failed in aspects of the regulatory role
The Legislative Council Legal and Social Issues Committee made 13 recommendations following an eight-week investigation that concluded I Cook Foods was not subject to a sound and proper process and there were significant shortcomings in how the firm was dealt with by food safety regulators.

“We found that the closure order was validly executed but that the framework in which the decision to impose the order was made and the processes that led to this decision were inadequate and that I Cook Foods was not dealt with in a fair or consistent way,” said committee chair Fiona Patten.

“The City of Greater Dandenong Council failed in many aspects of their role as regulator. In fact, the committee received evidence of inconsistent reporting practices, fluctuation in inspection procedures, inadequate processes, inadequate adherence to the processes in place, and poor communication by the City of Greater Dandenong.”

The committee heard evidence that highlighted outdated provisions in the Food Act 1984 contributed to difficulties in the investigation. The Department of Health and Human Services needs more powers for food safety regulation in Victoria, according to the inquiry.

“The Food Act 1984 is complex and outdated and should be amended to ensure that certain processes are consistently regulated and decrease the likelihood of situations such as this one arising in the future,” said Patten.

Spotlight on conflict of interest
The committee considered whether there was improper conduct in the closure of I Cook Foods due to a conflict of interest relating to the council CEO’s position on the board of rival business, Community Chef, and/or pending sale of this firm to the State Government.

“It is problematic for the chief executive officer of a local council to have conflicting interests within the same industry they are empowered to regulate,” according to the inquiry report.

Community Chef, created with 14 Victorian local councils, had been operating at a loss since 2016 and did gain additional business following the closure of I Cook Foods but the committee could not determine if this was directly due to any of the parties involved.

At the time of closure, I Cook Foods employed 41 staff and was estimated to provide 7,000 meals per week. Clients were emailed on Feb. 21, 2019 about its closure. This was before I Cook Foods had been formally notified of the closure order.

“It is unacceptable and improper that clients of I Cook Foods Pty Ltd were notified of its closure prior to the business being closed,” said the committee.

Listeria positives possibly related
The trigger for the investigation was an 86-year-old woman contracting Listeriosis at Knox Private Hospital. Of 25 samples taken from the I Cook Foods premises in February 2019, Listeria monocytogenes strains in four food samples of ham and corned beef sandwiches were possibly related to the human sample. Levels found were under the limit in the Food Standards Code.

The City of Greater Dandenong’s three to four-yearly portfolio rotation policy for environmental health officers were not followed in relation to I Cook Foods Pty Ltd.

Ian Cook, director of the company, told a hearing the company had never been cited for unsafe practices. Records from the Dandenong council demonstrated concerns about the presence of Listeria, and food safety practices dating back to 2015. Some issues included problems with the floor, large oven placement, a configuration of walkways, rusty or damaged equipment, and deficiencies in the food safety plan. Between 2016 and 2018 the council received 13 notifications or complaints about food originating from the facility.

Cook alleged an environmental health officer at the council planted a slug during an inspection of the company’s premises, a claim the EHO denied when asked by the committee. Victoria Police is investigating the closure of I Cook Foods.

“The City of Greater Dandenong did not ensure that long-term food safety issues at I Cook Foods were properly addressed in line with its food safety management processes and did not adequately communicate these issues to I Cook Foods as they arose. The abrupt nature of the escalation of known food safety issues at I Cook Foods is concerning and points to deficiencies in process and access to procedural fairness,” according to the committee.

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Auditors find overdue inspections and poor recordkeeping https://www.storkxx.com/2020/08/auditors-find-overdue-inspections-and-poor-recordkeeping/ https://www.storkxx.com/2020/08/auditors-find-overdue-inspections-and-poor-recordkeeping/#respond Wed, 12 Aug 2020 04:05:32 +0000 https://www.storkxx.com/?p=196484 Continue Reading]]> An audit report in an Australian state has found many inspections of food businesses were overdue, recordkeeping was poor, and follow-up and enforcement were not always completed or consistent.

The Western Australian Auditor General’s report focused on food safety regulation by two local government entities, one a metropolitan and the other a regional one, with large numbers of restaurants, cafes, and bars in their districts. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic scope of the audit was amended and it was decided not to identify the local governments.

Auditor General Caroline Spencer said the audit found overdue inspections, poor recordkeeping, and gaps in enforcement.

“These weaknesses increase the risk that unsafe food practices are not fixed, and the public consumes hazardous food. Both entities have advised us that they are in the process of completing overdue inspections and improving their inspection and enforcement practices and reporting. Ultimately, it makes good business sense to maintain clean premises and comply with food safety standards to avoid any reputational damage from serving food that makes people ill,” she said.

Spencer added the findings are not about encouraging more regulation of businesses, as this can lead to an unnecessary burden on food firms.

In 2016-17, Western Australia had 23,000 registered food businesses. Across the state, more than 7,000 cases of intestinal infectious disease were reported in 2017. The Department of Health estimates that a 1 percent decrease in foodborne illness could save the community and health system nearly AUS $6 million (the U.S. $4.3 million) annually.

Overdue inspections detailed
Low-risk firms are inspected every 18 months from the starting point, which is the initial inspection frequency after a business is classified, with a minimum of 24 and a maximum of 12 months.

Medium risk companies are inspected every 12 months from the starting point or a maximum of six and a minimum of 18 months. High-risk sites are inspected every six months from the start or a maximum of three and a minimum of 12 months.

The audit report found current inspection and enforcement processes in the two local government agencies do not support an effective risk-based approach for regulating food businesses. Nearly 30 percent of high and medium risk inspections were overdue as 214 of 741 food business visits were pending as of November 2019.

The first government agency had 48 percent of high and 33 percent of medium risk firms overdue for inspection. On average, they were overdue by around 270 days. The second entity had 44 percent of high and 21 percent of medium risk businesses overdue. On average, they were late by more than 400 days.

These deviations mean businesses are paying annual fees for inspections that are not performed and they may miss out on information and advice on food safety practices. Both agencies told the auditor that some inspections could not be completed because businesses had canceled their registration or were closed.

Business information gaps
Both entities had incomplete records of inspections and inaccurate business register data. In a sample of 35 Australian Food Safety Assessment paper inspection forms, some were difficult to read, missing details, or an assessment against each standard was not recorded. Both agencies said they are developing an electronic form to improve the quality and completeness of inspection information. An electronic version of this inspection form is already available.

Company information in registers was not always accurate or complete as 47 of 1,204 businesses across both entities had no record of inspection and one agency had 15 companies in which the next inspection pre-dates the last one. Incomplete or inaccurate information can result in missed visits, and firms not being inspected according to appropriate risk classification.

Auditors found an instance where risk was not reassessed for business after multiple serious non-compliances were identified. In a review of 41 inspections across both entities, there were 30 inspections that identified non-compliance in food skills and knowledge, cleanliness, maintenance, handwashing facilities, or protecting food from contamination.

Both entities were not following up instances of identified non-compliance in a consistent way, to ensure food safety issues were fixed. Environmental Health Officers only recommended an improvement notice for two businesses, but these were never issued. One company had a follow-up inspection, while the other was later fined AUS $250 (the U.S. $180) for hazardous foods being thawed with no temperature control.

According to the Department of Health records, in 2018-19, only 2.6 percent of 734 inspections across both local government entities led to formal enforcement. Less than 1 percent of all inspections resulted in an improvement notice, the first option for non-compliance.

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Three Californian firms are given warnings because of lack of FSVPs https://www.storkxx.com/2020/08/three-californian-firms-are-given-warnings-because-of-lack-of-fsvps/ https://www.storkxx.com/2020/08/three-californian-firms-are-given-warnings-because-of-lack-of-fsvps/#respond Mon, 10 Aug 2020 04:01:03 +0000 https://www.storkxx.com/?p=196401 Continue Reading]]> As part of its enforcement activities, the Food and Drug Administration sends warning letters to entities under its jurisdiction. Some letters are not posted for public view until weeks or months after they are sent. Business owners have 15 days to respond to FDA warning letters. Warning letters often are not issued until a company has been given months to years to correct problems.

Ventura Terra Garden Inc.
Ventura, CA

An import company in California is on notice from the FDA for not having Foreign Supplier Verification Programs for a number of imported food products. The inspection was initiated because of imported enoki mushrooms being associated with a multinational Listeria monocytogenes outbreak.

In the July 29 warning letter the FDA described an April 15-17, 20-21, and 29, 2020, Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) inspection at Ventura Terra Garden Inc.

The FDA’s inspection revealed that the firm was not in compliance with FSVP regulations and resulted in issuance of an FDA Form 483a. The significant violations are as follows:

  1. The firm did not have a written hazard analysis to identify and evaluate known or reasonably foreseeable hazards to determine whether there are any hazards requiring a control. The firm may rely on the hazard analysis of your foreign supplier to meet their obligations under the FSVP regulation, however, they did not provide FDA with any evidence that they documented their review and assessment of their foreign supplier’s hazards analysis. They may meet their requirement to conduct a hazard analysis, by reviewing and assessing their supplier’s hazard analysis and documenting their review and assessment of that hazard analysis.
  2. An onsite audit of the firm’s foreign supplier, (redacted), did not consider an applicable food safety regulation. Specifically, their third-party “Audit Checklist Report” (redacted) dated April 4, 2019, for their enoki mushrooms imported from (redacted), did not include the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule as part of the criteria.
  3. The firm did not promptly document their review and assessment of the results of a verification activity that was conducted by another entity. Specifically, they did not have documentation that they reviewed and assessed the result of third-party (redacted) audit for their Enoki mushroom imported from, (redacted).

The full warning letter can be viewed here.

Kaymile Trading Inc.
South El Monte, CA

An import company in California is on notice from the FDA for not having FSVPs for a number of imported food products.

In a July 28 warning letter the FDA described an April 24, 2020, Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) inspection at Kaymile Trading Inc.

The FDA’s inspection revealed that the firm was not in compliance with FSVP regulations and resulted in issuance of an FDA Form 483a. The significant violations are as follows:

  1. The firm did not develop, maintain, and follow an FSVP. Specifically, they did not develop an FSVP for each of the following foods:
  2. Roasted onion granules imported from (redacted) located in (redacted).
  3. Coarse black pepper imported from (redacted) located in (redacted).
  4. For the roasted garlic granules imported from (redacted), located in (redacted), they did not meet their requirements to conduct a hazard analysis. During the inspection, they provided a copy of their foreign supplier’s HACCP plan. They may meet their requirement to conduct a hazard analysis by reviewing and assessing their supplier’s hazard analysis and documenting their review and assessment of their supplier’s hazard. The firm did not provide documentation that they have reviewed and assessed their foreign supplier’s hazard analysis.
  5. The firm must approve their  foreign suppliers on the basis of an evaluation of the foreign supplier’s performance and the risk posed by the food, and document their approval. They did not document their approval of their foreign supplier of roasted garlic granules imported from (redacted).
  6. The firm did not establish and follow written procedures to ensure that they import foods only from foreign suppliers they have approved based on an evaluation of the foreign supplier’s performance and the risk posed by the food.
  7. They did not establish and follow adequate written procedures for ensuring that appropriate foreign supplier verification activities are conducted with respect to the foods they import.
  8. The firm did not conduct and document (or obtain documentation of) one or more of the supplier verification activities listed for each foreign supplier before importing the food and periodically thereafter. For example, they did not conduct and document (or obtain documentation of) one or more of such supplier verification activities for their foreign supplier (redacted), before importing roasted garlic granules and periodically thereafter.

The full warning letter can be viewed here.

Pasha Food Distribution USA Inc.
Tarzana, CA

An import company in California is on notice from the FDA for not having FSVPs for a number of imported food products.

In a May 18 warning letter the FDA described a March 18, 2020, Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) inspection at Ventura Terra Garden Inc.

The FDA’s inspection revealed that the firm was not in compliance with FSVP regulations and resulted in issuance of an FDA Form 483a. The significant violations are as follows:

  • The firm did not develop, maintain, and follow an FSVP. Specifically, the firm did not develop an FSVP for roasted eggplant manufactured by (redacted), and dried sumac and tahini manufactured by (redacted).

If a firm is a very small importer and they choose to comply with the modified requirements, they must document that they meet the definition of very small importer as required. In addition, for each food they import, they must obtain written assurance, before importing the food and at least every two years thereafter, that their foreign supplier is producing the food in compliance with processes and procedures that provide at least the same level of public health protection. 

The full warning letter can be viewed here.

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National agencies give detail on Opson operations https://www.storkxx.com/2020/08/national-agencies-give-detail-on-opson-operations/ https://www.storkxx.com/2020/08/national-agencies-give-detail-on-opson-operations/#respond Sun, 02 Aug 2020 04:01:18 +0000 https://www.storkxx.com/?p=196180 Continue Reading]]> Authorities in Germany, Spain, Italy and Belgium have provided more details of their roles in an international operation focused on potentially dangerous food and beverages.

Operation Opson IX, coordinated by Europol and Interpol, ran from December 2019 to June 2020.  More than $40 million worth of food and drink was seized including 12,000 tons of illegal and harmful products.

The Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) revealed that German authorities uncovered manipulation of olive oil and issues with declaration of natural vanilla in food.

In olive oil thought to be extra virgin, the highest quality level, inferior oils such as lampante oil were found. In foodstuffs such as ice cream and desserts, investigators found inexpensive, synthetically produced flavoring substances instead of natural vanilla.

Olive oil and vanilla fraud
Operation Opson brought together 11 European countries to investigate olive oil fraud. From the beginning of January to end of March, German food surveillance authorities checked more than 3,694 liters of extra virgin olive oil, which must meet certain quality criteria.

In 83 controls, olive oil advertised as extra virgin was examined for possible adulteration with other grades of olive oil such as virgin, refined or lampante oil. It was also tested to see if cheaper sunflower, rapeseed or soybean oil was added, dyed and sold as olive oil.

Irregularities were detected in around a quarter of cases. The 19 problematic samples came from wholesalers, importers and exporters, bottling plants, retailers and the catering trade.

Authorities also tested products containing vanilla to uncover misleading and fraudulent practices such as replacing the advertised real vanilla with synthetically produced vanillin. In the 208 controls 36 non-compliances were found including replacement of natural vanilla with the inexpensive artificial flavoring ethyl vanillin.

The Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office in Switzerland and Austrian Food Safety Agency (AGES) also focused national controls on products containing vanilla. Swiss officials reported two abnormal findings out of 20 tests.

In seven cases, affecting olive oil and vanilla, reports were created in the Administrative Assistance and Cooperation Food Fraud system as a final assessment needed further checks by manufacturers and suppliers abroad. This IT system allows EU countries to contact one another and share information which can lead to administrative actions and sanctions or judicial proceedings. Two cases were also forwarded to the public prosecutor.

Italian wine crackdown and Spain’s horse meat focus
The Italian NAS Carabinieri were part of operations in the olive oil and wine sectors, targeted actions on milk and dairy product fraud and looking into counterfeiting and falsification of horse passports for marketing of horse meat from animals not intended for human consumption.

These investigations involved 1,647 companies, which led to 85 judicial police investigations and 312 administrative proceedings as well as seizure of 850,000 kilograms and liters of food and drink worth more than $4.7 million. The horse meat operation included 59 passports being seized.

Police in Florence investigated counterfeit wine of domestic and foreign origin. Original empty bottles were filled with wines of different origin and lower quality, followed by sealing with counterfeit caps and fake packaging attached. Products were marketed mainly using online auction platform eBay, on domestic and foreign markets including Spain, Germany, Belgium, France and the United States.

Horse meat

The Guardia Civil in Spain took part in 3,000 controls and inspections in distribution centers, warehouses, transport, containers and warehouses as well as ports and airports. This led to 19 people being arrested and 40 investigated.

Fraud detected in 2020 includes falsification of documents on lamb of French origin sold with a protected geographical indication of Castilla y León, production of wines adulterated with sugars and national distribution of pizzas from a place that did not have the required hygienic conditions.

SEPRONA of Barcelona has arrested 15 people and investigated another 13 for alleged crimes against public health and documentary falsification. More than 10,000 horses have been looked at in livestock farms and slaughterhouses in Barcelona for suspected falsified passports that classed them as meat fit for human consumption and more than 300 horses already slaughtered were found not to comply with regulations. A total of 185 passports were seized that had indications of forgery. This operation is still open at national and European level.

Tampering with horse traceability documents
The Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) in Belgium led a project with the Netherlands supported by DG Sante to help national authorities fight against sales of illegal horse meat.

The operation enabled document checks for 157,000 horses from eight countries and around 117 tons of horse meat. Live animals and more than 17 tons of horse meat were seized in several EU slaughterhouses. Inspections of slaughterhouses in several countries showed around 20 percent of foreign passports used for these horses had signs of tampering.

In Belgium, 20 controls were carried out, including four in slaughterhouses. More than 300 passports and horses were screened with 88 percent of these compliant. A total of 28 forged passports were identified and 13 concerned false identities.

The main purpose of falsification is to introduce horses excluded from the food chain into the supply chain by fraudulently modifying this status via their passports. These horses were potentially able to receive a drug treatment reserved for animals excluded from the food chain.

In total, 86 horses without passports and coming from several EU countries were checked via their microchip. Following these checks, 13 files were opened by FASFC and 12 health seizures made. A truck used to transport horses with forged identifications was seized during one of the controls.

In 2019, 5,584 horses were checked at the slaughterhouse as part of normal daily surveillance, and more than 98 percent were compliant.

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