September 15th Edition

Image source: FDA.

Class I ground beef recall for E. coli O26

Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. (Wyalusing, PA) recalled approximately 8,500 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O26, according to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). While E. coli O157:H7 gets most of the blame for E. coli infections, there are other serotypes such as O26 that are dangerous as well.

FSIS became aware of the E. coli O26 problem on August 5 when the agency was notified by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources of an E. coli O26 cluster of illnesses. In conjunction with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Services, and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, two case-patients were identified in Maine as well as one in New York with a rare, indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern as determined by PFGE subtyping in PulseNet. PulseNet is a national network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by the CDC. Illness onset dates range from June 24 through July 16, 2010.

FSIS determined there is an association between the ground beef products subject to recall and the cluster of illnesses in the states of Maine and New York. FSIS is continuing to work with affected state public health partners and the processor on the investigation.

Bill Marler, personal injury and products liability attorney, has been crusading for some time to petition FSIS to consider these non-O157 serotypes as adulterants in the same way as that of E. coli O157:H7. “I do not want to sound like a broken record, but we can not wait yet another year or years for more tests to develop that might be more convenient for FSIS and the beef industry. The time has come to do the logical thing,” Marler said in his September 4 blog.

For more information on the non-O157 pathogens, see the October 18, 2007 edition of Tech Flash, Volume 3, No. 10. The emergence of the “other” E. coli bacteria such as O26 has created the need for testing kits that can easily and quickly identify them. See last month’s Tech Flash.

E. coli O26 is a bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration-and in the most severe cases-kidney failure. The very young, seniors and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illnesses caused by contaminants such as E. coli O26.

3-A Sanitary Standards revised

3-A Sanitary Standards, Inc. (SSI) announced the release of four revisions of 3-A Sanitary Standards. 3-A SSI formulates sanitary standards and accepted practices for the sanitary design, fabrication, installation and cleanability of dairy and food equipment or systems used to handle, process and package consumable products where a high degree of sanitation is required. The four revisions include:
  1. 3-A Sanitary Standard for Plate Type Heat Exchangers (Number 11-09)-This is a major five-year update of this standard, with numerous technical changes. This standard covers the sanitary aspects of plate type heat exchangers, beginning with the inlet fittings for product(s) and for heat exchange media and ending with the outlet fittings for product(s) and heat exchange media. 
  2. 3-A Sanitary Standard for Scraped Surface Heat Exchangers (Number 31-06)-This standard covers the sanitary aspects of scraped surface heat exchangers for adding heat to, or removing heat from, products. This standard does not pertain to freezers for ice cream, ices and similarly frozen dairy foods, or to batch processors.
  3. 3-A Sanitary Standard for Boot Seal Type Valves (Number 55-02)-This is a major revision of a 3-A Sanitary Standard that was previously withdrawn. This standard covers the sanitary aspects of boot seal type valves used as components on processing equipment and pipelines that hold or convey milk, milk products and other food products. 
  4. 3-A Sanitary Standard for Vacuum Breakers and Check Valves (Number 58-01)-This standard covers the sanitary aspects of vacuum breakers and check valves used on processing equipment and on equipment and lines which hold or convey milk or milk products. 

Fabricators of equipment built to a 3-A Sanitary Standards may obtain authorization from 3-A SSI to display the 3-A symbol on conforming equipment. All 3-A symbol-holders must verify conformance to the latest revision of the standard covering their equipment in the next license renewal period. 

Copies of the new standards are now available for purchase in an electronic format or printed version through the 3-A SSI website; see Popular Topics, Purchase Standards and Practices.

Getting a green grip on energy usage

PepsiCo will partner with GreenHouse Holdings, Inc. to use Southern California Edison's (SCE) Automated Demand Response (Auto-DR) program at its Buena Park bottling plant. GreenHouse Holdings, Inc. is a San Diego, CA-based integrated energy solutions provider, developer of eco-friendly infrastructure and qualified service provider of SCE's Auto-DR program. The program provides site assessment, feasibility studies, project development, engineering, installation of enabling technologies and complete processing of all incentives. 

The Auto-DR program offers financial incentives and technical support to SCE customers with automated load control systems that participate in demand response events.  Auto-DR uses control systems to automatically achieve specified energy demand reductions (kW and duration) during periods of peak energy demand. 

In using the Auto-DR system, Pepsi can shed or reduce electric consumption during costly peak energy periods when the demand is highest. In addition, the system gives Pepsi the ability to reduce operating costs by curtailing the use and purchase of electricity. Pepsi will then receive financial incentives from SCE for participating in the program.

Although salmon grown from AquAdvantage eggs are the same biologically and nutritionally as any other Atlantic salmon, their accelerated growth comes from the addition of a growth hormone gene from the Chinook salmon. Source: AquaBounty.

Genetically Engineered salmon: Good science or bad information?

A broad coalition of consumer and environmental groups, along with community fishing organizations and food retailers, declared FDA’s “partial data release” on genetically engineered (GE) salmon up for approval as a human food product insufficient and unacceptable. The 180-page document, entitled Briefing Packet: AquAdvantage Salmon, contains an overall summary of FDA’s risk-based, scientific process for determining the safety and effectiveness of the AquAdvantage Salmon produced by AquaBounty Technologies Inc.

The document also provides data and information FDA evaluated as part of the application process as well as the agency’s evaluations. In addition, it provides information for both government agencies and the general public to scrutinize. In the event FDA approves AquaBounty’s application, the document will serve as the basis for the Freedom of Information summary that normally accompanies new animal drug approvals.

“For the millions of consumers, fishermen and stakeholders who will be affected by FDA’s decision, FDA’s release of incomplete information is simply too little, too late,” says Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for the Center for Food Safety (CFS).

Materials made available on FDA’s website relate to an announcement by FDA officials on August 25 that the agency will potentially approve the long-shelved AquAdvantage salmon as the first genetically engineered animal intended for human consumption, according to CFS.

In a letter sent to FDA Principle Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein, Rep. Dennis Kucinich called on FDA to slow down its process and ensure the public has sufficient time and all available data to provide meaningful and informed public comment. The letter requests FDA delay its public meetings by 30 days as well as provide a 90-day public comment period, currently absent from the GE salmon approval process, according to CFS. Rep. Kucinich is the Chairman of the House Domestic Policy Subcommittee, which has broad jurisdiction over many federal agencies, including FDA.

According to AquaBounty Technologies, “AquAdvantage Salmon include a gene from the Chinook salmon, which provides the fish with the potential to grow to market size in half the time of conventional salmon. In all other respects, AquAdvantage Salmon are identical to other Atlantic salmon.”

Although salmon grown from AquAdvantage eggs are the same biologically and nutritionally as any other Atlantic salmon, their accelerated growth comes from the addition of a growth hormone gene from the Chinook salmon. The Chinook growth hormone is the same as the Atlantic salmon growth hormone; it is simply regulated differently. The salmons’ ability to grow faster does not change the biological make-up of the fish.

Fish grown from AquAdvantage eggs are all female and sterile, making it impossible for them to breed. In addition, FDA approval requires them to be grown in physically contained systems, further reducing any potential impact on wild populations, according to AquaBounty.

Gourmet food processor creatively weathers the recession

Two Chefs on a Roll CEO Jeffrey Goh says creating new products and being flexible in manufacturing operations helps a processor weather the recession.


Sustainable Plant of the Year: New Belgium Brewing Co. hits the spot

Finding a fun way to discuss carbon footprints in manufacturing and personal lifestyle requires a delicate balance, but New Belgium Brewing has found a way to strike the right note.  

Supply chain efficiency starts at the top

There are many tools to make supply chains respond to quick and unplanned changes, but success must begin with senior management. 

Tech Update: Cooling & freezing equipment

Today’s economy creates hard choices for processors selecting cooling and freezing equipment systems. But solutions exist to decrease energy usage and convert the reject heat of cooling to useful energy to heat water.

Packaging trends survey

It may be a function of their companies’ volumes, but respondents to this year’s survey voice a desire for less physical labor, more machine labor and increased automation.

Engineering R&D: From waste to elixir

Biotechnology meets process innovation to convert toxic byproducts of the olive press into a therapeutic ingredient.

People, Plant and Industry News

The Haskell Company acquired E²M, an Atlanta-based manufacturing system integration firm that engineers solutions for customers in the food, beverage and consumer products industry.


United Natural Foods, Inc. was awarded LEED Gold certification for its new 675,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in York, PA. The facility focuses on efficient water and energy use as well as resource conservation. A cistern built on-site captures 20,000 gallons of rain water to use for the center’s refrigeration system.


The TDL Group began site preparation for expansion of its distribution center in Kingston, Ontario. The multimillion-dollar investment will double the size of its warehouse from 20,000 sq. ft. to 40,000 sq. ft. The location serves Eastern Ontario and Quebec, and will create new staff facilities.


Wixon Inc., a food and flavor products manufacturer, named Ed Becerra vice president of operations.


Stellar expanded its existing refrigeration division to include the company’s maintenance, parts and operations and automation services divisions. The combined units will be known as Stellar Refrigeration Services and will be led by Divisional Vice President Jeff Williams. In addition, Stellar hired Steven Hawkins as director of its automation services department.


Dematic, a global supplier of integrated material handling solutions and services, signed an agreement in principle to purchase HK Systems, a North American automated material handling and software solutions provider.


Eriez announced the availability of Orange University, a mobile training and education center designed for hands-on demonstrations and customer workshops.


TreeHouse Foods Inc. is moving its headquarters to Oak Brook, IL from nearby Westchester in a major expansion.


Combi Packaging Systems LLC and QComp Technologies, Inc. are partnering to offer case packing technology products.