October 2010

Foremost Foods, International, Inc. of Pomona, CA, is issuing a voluntary recall on certain Tomi brand dried seafood products because they have the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium which can cause life-threatening illness or death. Consumers are warned not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled. The products were manufactured by Kien Long Seafood Company Ltd. of Vietnam.

Botulism, a potentially fatal form of food poisoning, can cause the following symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, double-vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of other muscles, abdominal distension and constipation may also be common symptoms. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

These products were distributed in the States of California, Nevada, and Washington through Seafood City and Manila Seafood retail stores. This recall involves products sold between September 23, 2009 and October 20, 2010.

The Institute of Food Research has collaborated in the development of a new method for detecting spores of non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum. This bacterium is the major health hazard associated with refrigerated convenience foods, and these developments give the food industry and regulators more quantitative information on which to base the procedures that ensure food safety.

Botulism is a rare but deadly form of food poisoning that can be caused by consuming tiny quantities of botulinum neurotoxin. The botulinum neurotoxin is the most potent toxin known (just 30ng of neurotoxin is sufficient to cause illness and even death), and the consumption of as little as 0.01g of food in which C. botulinum has grown can result in botulism.

The majority of cases of foodborne botulism are caused by two bacteria known as non-proteolytic C. botulinum and proteolytic C. botulinum. A major difference between these two bacteria is that non-proteolytic C. botulinum is able to grow and produce toxin at 3°C, whilst proteolytic C. botulinum will not grow at temperatures less than 12°C. This ability to grow at form toxin at refrigeration temperatures makes non-proteolytic C. botulinum a major hazard in minimally heated refrigerated foods, such as chilled ready meals.

The production incorporates practices and risk assessments based on the latest scientific information, such as spore heat resistance, growth properties of non-proteolytic C. botulinum, and the incidence of these spores in food. The new method of detecting non-proteolytic C. botulinum is providing high quality information on the incidence of spores in food. An important feature of the new method is that it is specific, and enumerates only non-proteolytic C. botulinum spores. Some previous techniques were not optimised to distinguish between non-proteolytic C. botulinum and proteolytic C. botulinum. The new method is very sensitive with a low detection limit that has been achieved by the use of a selective enrichment and large test samples, and importantly this has been confirmed using carefully structured control samples.

The robust method was developed as a collaboration between the Nestlé Research Centre, Switzerland and IFR, an institute of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and is designed to provide the data the food industry needs for quantitative microbial risk analysis and the implementation of food safety objectives. This allows the total risk from spores of non-proteolytic C. botulinum in the final meal to be calculated. Modelling the risk of this total spore count rising above safe levels and the frequency that this event occurs will allow the management and control of the process more accountably.

 At the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Justice today filed a complaint for permanent injunction against a Brooklyn juice company to prevent it from processing and distributing juice products.

Delores H. Campbell and Winston A. Fearon and their company, Juices Incorporated (also known as Juices International and Juices Enterprises), are charged with violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by failing to have a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan for certain juice products, such as the company’s carrot and beet juice products. The FDA requires all juice processors to have and implement HACCP plans that identify and control food hazards associated with their juices.

Among the violations observed by FDA investigators were failures to:

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