Does sampling, testing make romaine purchased in Canada safer than that in U.S.?

Will it soon be safer to purchase romaine lettuce in Canada than the United States, even if it’s all grown in Californa’s Salinas Valley?

Before anyone could ask that question, the California Leafy Green Marketing Agreement (LGMA) launched a new consumer website claiming to be “the ultimate resource” on “everything you need to know about lettuce and leafy greens.”

Since an Oct. 7 announcement by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Salinas Valley romaine growers have been smarting over the sudden sampling and testing requirements that will remain in effect until the end of the year. According to the California growers, sampling and testing to move romaine into Canada are requirements that will cost consumers more than it’s worth.

The CFIA is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to head off another outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 sourced to romaine lettuce from U.S. growing regions. But … Read more

‘Ineffective trial counsel’ gets Stewart Parnell the hearing that could set him free

U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Q. Langstaff has ordered Stewart Parnell returned to the C.B. King Federal Courthouse in Albany, GA, on Feb. 24, 2021, for a hearing that could lead to freedom for the former peanut executive.

Parnell was sentenced in 2015 to a 28-year  prison term, which he is currently serving at a federal prison in South Carolina. He will be returned to the courtroom where a jury convicted him in 2014 so the federal magistrate can hear oral arguments on a motion to vacate his conviction and sentence on grounds he was denied effective counsel.

Two of Georgia’s most accomplished appellate attorneys, Savannah’s Amy Lee Copeland and Atlanta’s Amy Levin Weil, are representing Parnell in the motion hearing. They will argue that Parnell received ineffective assistance from trial counsel.

Gentry Locke LLP attorney Thomas J. Bondurant Jr. from Roanoke, VA, represented Parnell at trial and will likely … Read more

Fresh produce industry never likes testing such as that now imposed by Canada

The nation’s only produce surveillance program did not survive the first term of the Obama administration. When it did exist, USDA’s Microbiological Data Program (MDP) used to conduct 80 percent of all federal produce testing for foodborne pathogens.

The program paid labs at Land Grant universities to test local produce as it came out of the ground. The national budget for the MDP did not top $5 million, a hardly noticeable amount in Washington D.C.

But from the moment it began during the first Bush administration, the fresh produce lobby wanted the MDP dead. It was too successful, working as a “tripwire,” interrupting fresh produce distributions whenever dangerous pathogens were discovered.

Fresh produce works fast, moving from the field to your dinner plate in only a matter of days, and sometimes hours. Anything that interrupts that fast flow is a problem for the industry.

So if the little MDP was … Read more

National cattlemen’s organizations split on RFID for traceability

Cattlemen and ranchers have three national organizations vying for their loyalty and support, and they don’t always agree on policy.

That’s apparently going to be true for something as simple as whether the interstate movement of cattle should require the use of radio-frequency ear-tags for traceability purposes.  Commonly referred to as RFID, electronic ear-tags are used in Europe to track animals from birth to market and even on to the meat counters of retail outlets.

In comments filed last week that expressed some concerns, but overall support for going to an RFID system, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association said  “knowing where diseased and at-risk exposed animals are, as well as where they have been and when, is indispensable to emergency response and ongoing disease control and eradication programs.”   

In comments filed ahead of the deadline, the USCA expressed support for RFID with these provisos:

  • There should be no private control of
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Listeria found in a quarter of frozen veg in England

Listeria was detected in almost a quarter of frozen vegetable samples in England, according to a study.

Between December 2018 and April 2019, 1,050 frozen fruit and vegetable samples were collected. Listeria monocytogenes or other Listeria species were detected in 167 samples of vegetables. Listeria monocytogenes was present in 10 percent of frozen vegetables.

The study of frozen fruit and vegetables from catering and retail premises in England assessed microbiological quality with respect to Listeria and E. coli. Findings were published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology.

Eleven samples contained more than 100 colony forming units per gram (cfu/g) of E. coli. Listeria monocytogenes or other Listeria species were detected in six samples of fruit and six fruit and vegetable mixes.

Obtaining baseline data
Work was prompted after the outbreak of listeriosis that affected 54 people in six countries with 10 deaths in 2015 to 2018 associated with … Read more