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A complaint against Brothers International Food Corp., brought by a former employee, alleges that the company fired the plaintiff in retaliation for raising safety and health concerns about its products. The June 6 complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, is the first to be filed in a federal court under the employee protection provisions of the FSMA, according to a public interest advocacy organization.
The use of sharp needles or blades to tenderize meat by breaking up muscle fiber can push pathogens on the meat’s surface deep into the interior, where they are less likely to be reached and eradicated by cooking or surface cleaning. It’s fairly common practice; the USDA estimates that 37 percent of meat processors use at least some mechanical tenderization.
An outbreak of hepatitis A that has sickened 87 people in eight U.S. states prompted the recall of an organic frozen berry mix, according to federal agencies. Townsend Farms Inc., of Fairview, Ore., on June 4 announced a voluntary recall on the product, which was sold at Costco and Harris Teeter stores, “out of an abundance of caution.”
The elusive foodborne pathogen Salmonella Typhimurium has developed a unique self-protective mechanism that responds to changes in the environment during its infective period, which may protect it from harm, according to new research from scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Wash.
The accuracy of food microbiology laboratory testing for common pathogens “remains problematic,” according to a review of proficiency test results over a period of 14 years. The average percentage of false negative results in the review of almost 40,000 results was more than 5 percent for several common pathogens, researchers reported at the American Society for Microbiology meeting, May 18-21, in Denver.
The USDA is readying new initiatives to support the growing organic agriculture industry in the U.S., agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack told the Organic Trade Association at a speech to its policy conference on May 14. “Organic is not the ‘same as.’ It is its own separate commodity and needs to be treated as such. I’m committed to that,” Vilsack said.
Farm practices meant to improve food safety should rely on science-based management approaches in order to conserve biodiversity in surrounding areas, a recent study suggests. Pressure from produce buyers to adopt additional precautions not mandated by government or industry may damage local ecosystems without clear increases in food safety, the study’s authors say.
Electron-beam pasteurization could reduce the risk of infection with viral pathogens from raw shellfish by 26 percent to 91 percent, depending on the pathogen, according to new research from scientists at Texas A&M University.
The Chinese government has arrested 904 people in a crackdown on food safety violators, according to news reports. Those arrested include 63 people involved in an operation that bought rat, mink, fox, and other meat that had not been tested for quality and safety, added gelatin, nitrates and pigment, and sold it as lamb, the Associated Press and other news outlets reported.
Pulling back from an April 25 report that as many as 2,100 food inspections—or approximately 18% of the total conducted by the agency—would be eliminated this year as a result of the government sequester, FDA officials announced on May 5 that it would reconfigure its budget to avoid reducing inspections.