Mar 7, 2013
Produce groups publish cantaloupe safety guidelines
Produce industry groups have announced the publication of a 40-page set of guidelines for preventing dangerous microbial contamination of cantaloupes. "National Commodity-Specific Food Safety Guidelines for Cantaloupes and Netted Melons" covers worker health and hygiene, production, facilities, traceability, recall procedures, and documentation. With financial support form the Produce Marketing Association and the Western Growers Association, the guidelines were developed in a series of weekly webinars from April through October of 2012, according to a recent announcement from the industry groups. A number of Salmonella outbreaks have been tied to cantaloupes in recent decades, and widely publicized Salmonella and Listeria outbreaks were linked to cantaloupes in 2011 and 2012, respectively. A Food Safety News (FSN) report today said production of the guidelines was organized mainly by Hank Giclas, a senor vice president of the Western Growers Association. "There's a need for guidance in the industry right now, particularly as it relates to some of the newer knowledge about vulnerabilities to Listeria and other pathogens," Giclas told FSN. Another industry official said the guidelines are intended to complement cantaloupe safety guidance already available from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), FSN reported.
Feb 25 announcement of guidelines
Full text of guidelines
Mar 7 FSN story
CDC reports outbreak involving antibiotic-resistant Shigella
Shigella sonnei with decreased resistance to azithromycin, the drug used to treat multidrug-resistant strains of the bacteria, may be increasing in the United States, based on detection of the first outbreak of its kind last year in Los Angeles, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today. The event occurred at the private bridge club in May, sickening 43 people, many of them seniors, according to a report in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). The investigation identified four infections among the club's workers, one of them a food handler. The illnesses were severe, but the CDC added that most of the patients were older than the general population. Two of the workers who had positive stool samples were asymptomatic. Four isolates submitted to the CDC's National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) showed resistance to streptomycin, sulfisoxazole, tetracycline, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazol. Unlike other Shigella isolates tested by NARMS, they also showed signs of resistance to azithromycin and along with a macrolide resistance gene. The CDC's PulseNet system found two other infections with the same genetic pattern. Both patients had recently visited Los Angeles but did not have any links to each other or to the bridge club. Though sporadic cases of shigellosis caused by strains with resistance to azithromycin have been detected before, the event in Los Angles is the first known outbreak and could signal increased circulation. The CDC recommended that clinicians report azithromycin treatment failures in shigellosis patients and obtain isolates for further testing.
Mar 8 MMWR report
Feds announce public meetings on livestock antibiotic policies
The FDA today announced five public meetings to gather feedback on its plans to phase in more veterinary oversight on the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals, according to a posting in the Federal Register. In April 2012 the FDA issued three draft documents outlining proposals to phase out growth-promotion (production) uses, due to concerns that they contribute to the development of resistance to antibiotics in humans. Part of the plan asks drug companies to voluntarily remove production uses from product labels. The FDA has also proposed that some drugs be available by prescription only rather than over the counter. The agency said it acknowledges that the change would have implications for veterinarians and animal producers and is seeking additional comments as it moves forward with developing the policies. The FDA is jointly holding the public meetings with the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The sites are Bowling Green, Ky., Apr 9; Olympia, Wash., Apr 23; Fort Collins, Colo., May 8; Pierre, S.D., May 21; and College Station, Tex., Jun 4.
Mar 7 Federal Register notice