Hundreds poisoned in France from wild mushrooms

French authorities have renewed warnings about eating wild mushrooms after hundreds of poisoning cases in the past few months.

The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) reported that since the start of the mushroom-picking season in early autumn, poison control centers have recorded a sharp increase in cases, particularly in recent weeks.

Poisoning risks include confusion of an edible type with a toxic species, or consumption of edible mushrooms that are in poor condition, undercooked, or have been incorrectly stored. Most cases are due to foraged mushrooms but occasionally they are because of the purchase at a market or in a shop, or consumption in a restaurant.

Latest intoxication stats
Since July 2020, poison control centers have recorded 732 cases of intoxication, including five people with serious life-threatening illnesses.

Confusion between species sometimes happens through the use of fungi recognition apps on smartphones, which incorrectly … Read more

FAO to develop new food safety strategy

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is to develop a new food safety strategy.

The Committee on Agriculture (COAG), held virtually from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2, 2020, agreed to support the development of the strategy. A previous session backed FAO’s food safety plan in 2014. The COAG has more than 100 member nations and meets every two years. It provides overall policy and regulatory guidance on issues including food safety.

The aim is to submit the updated document at the next meeting of the committee in 2022 for consideration and endorsement. Direction may be influenced by the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit.

Such a strategy would serve as international guidance, policy, and advocacy platform for decision-makers that can be used to encourage increased investments and integration of food safety into the development of sustainable food systems, food security and nutrition policies, and agriculture development strategies.… Read more

Part four: Tips for working with remote auditors

In part four of this four-part series with SafetyChain Software, Food Safety News reviews how companies and auditors should work together to achieve a more effective remote audit.

In an industry that still relies on hard-copy records and face-to-face business, navigating COVID-19 has pushed more food companies into embracing new working systems. Included in this mix are remote auditing methods. Their use has been limited due to companies preferring regular onsite visits. However, to protect employee health and keep production lines rolling, more companies are transitioning to remote auditing to ensure food safety and quality standards. 

From document checks to employee interviews, remote audits follow the same process as in-person audits, says Shamonique Schrick, FSQA Solutions Architect for SafetyChain Software. Whether being hosted via phone or video, the most significant difference is that documents are shared ahead of time on a private digital portal. 

“Companies keeping digital records can transfer … Read more

Letter From The Editor: The dirt on your boots round table

Opinion

After the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law, somebody I don’t remember who told me there was one ticklish part.

FSMA for the first time put the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the farm or at least all the farms growing produce.    It’s at least the biggest on-the-farm assignment for FDA.    The Produce Safety Rule (PSR) was a long-time in the making.

Water quality for growing food was the subject of multiple sessions this past week at the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) virtual annual meeting.   I decided to sit at the “Dirt on your boots” round table to see how things are going with FDA’s new PSR task..

The session, which featured state and federal regulators along with some farm managers, was interesting.   There’s been some anxiety on the farm over FDA’s new role.  

But FDA did something really smart by staging its … Read more

The Wrong Way to Modernize Beef Inspection

Opinion

Earlier this week, Tyson Foods indicated that it will soon replace over a dozen federal food safety inspectors in its Holcomb, Kansas beef plant with company employees, pursuant to regulatory waivers that will also allow the company to raise line speeds. However you feel about the current beef inspection system, this is the wrong way to reform it.

USDA has issued its waivers pursuant to a rule whose purpose is “to permit experimentation so that new procedures, equipment, and/or processing techniques may be tested to facilitate definite improvements.” 9 CFR s. 303.1(h). The waivers apply to the Holcomb plant’s regulatory obligations in areas including inspection staffing, handling of bruised parts, line speed, and microbiological testing. In news reports, Tyson has indicated that it intends to employ “vision systems and machine learning in beef carcass inspection” at the Holcomb plant. Tyson’s waiver application, however, makes no mention of such technologies, … Read more