Monday, March 16, 2009

How to prevent food-borne illnesses

food safety inconsistent in Scrutiny.almost always includes a method invented in Minnesota to keep astronauts from getting sick in space.The idea: Food makers must identify the riskiest steps in processing each kind of food and systematically attack the pathogens at those critical junctures.Food scientists say the deadly salmonella outbreak linked to the Peanut Corp. of America shows why such preventive measures should be mandatory across the food industry.Under the government's fragmented regulation of food safety, some industries, such as meat and seafood, are required to have science-based programs to keep harmful germs out. For most other food processors, such programs are voluntary.Makers of fresh juice and canned vegetables have to follow preventive control efforts, but not those that package fresh lettuce and spinach. Almond processors must comply with salmonella-prevention requirements imposed in 2007. The peanut industry doesn't.The PCA processing plant in Blakely, Ga., linked to the salmonella outbreak wasn't required to have a hazard-control program and "to our knowledge, did not have one," Arty Schronce, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Agriculture, said in an e-mail.It's not known how many plants don't bother with food-safety protocols developed nearly 50 years ago at Pillsbury. Large food makers have widely embraced the practice, said Francisco Diez, an associate professor of food safety microbiology at the University of Minnesota.For others, "the government has relied on self-policing by the industry, but the case of PCA shows that self-policing is not sufficient," Diez said.Even food industry groups say that Congress should require every manufacturer to have a food safety plan.

peanut product recalls have been announced because the products may be contaminated with salmonella, an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections, especially in young children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems:
Texas Star Nut & Food Co. of Boerne, Texas, recalled raw peanuts distributed in Texas through retail grocery stores. No illnesses associated with this product have been reported to date, the company said. The product is packaged in 12-ounce plastic bags with UPC code 8-32112-00410-4 with product code date "sell by Jan. 11, 2009 thru July 11, 2009." The sell by date appears in the clear box that includes the product name "Raw Peanuts." Details: By phone, 1-866-455-8300.
Ultimate Nut and Candy Co. of Burbank, Calif., recalled specific peanut products distributed through its store in Los Angeles Farmer's Market and the Internet from Jan. 1, 2007, to Feb. 13, 2009. No illnesses associated with this product have been reported to date, the company said.

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