Foodborne Outbreak and Recalls Mansour Samadpour IEH Laboratories and consulting Group Seattle, Washington
Why do we have so many foodborne outbreaks • Many food producers with respect to food safety unknowingly play a game of Russian Roulette • Food safety becomes a focus only when it becomes an issue (outbreak, recall, NOS, NOIE, customer specification) • Even after a major outbreak, in most cases, for the rest of the members of a given industry the guys with the problem had “done something wrong” • They wish for them to go away/bankrupt. Only with repeated outbreaks the industry and or regulators will come up wit ha workable solution • Sometimes the entire industry takes actions (beef, almond)
How outbreaks are detected In most instances outbreaks detect epidemiologist With better epidemiology we will see a lot more outbreaks
The Current State of Epidemiology • Most of the action (if not all) happens at the county and state level • CDC is increasingly loosing interest/leadership • Several states have a don’t ask don’t tell foodborne surveillance programs • The entire surveillance relies on the cooperation of clinical labs, with the assumption that lab tests will be ordered, and pathogens will be isolated for foodborne illnesses • In the absence of effective surveillance programs most outbreaks will not be detected • Very few states have real time foodborne illness investigation programs • We need to reduce the time that it takes to detect outbreaks
Why do they happen? • Lack of control and verification over the entire span of food production • Lack of Regulatory oversight (in case of FDA regulated industries) • Non-validated interventions • Non-validated SSOPs • Insufficient CPs and CCPs • Incompetent regulation and regulatory instruments • Economics of food safety
Economics of Food Safety • Resembles the current administration's Economic Policy • No one wants to pay for the cost • There is no premium attached to comprehensive food safety programs in the buyer community (retailers, and most food service operations), • Producers have to pay the full cost, in a competitive market which is slow to adjust or reward for the food safety costs
How likely is a company to have an outbreak/recall? • No food company is immune to recalls or outbreaks • The likelihood of getting involved in a RC/OB is a function of: • Inherent risks associated with their products: • Beef trim vs. ground beef for food services vs. ground beef for retail, vs. frozen ground beef/patties for retail • Chemical, physical, biological hazards • Nature of the processing: Do we have a kill step • Control of the process • Verification: in-house vs. independent • QAQC reporting to production
A food producer is as good as it’s worst production facilityor it’s worst supplier or.. • The weakest link in the chain • What control do we have over imported foods? • We need identical programs not equivalent programs • Importing “cheap foods” breeds economic fraud and forces suppliers to take short cuts
How to reduce the risk of outbreaks and recalls Two types of food safety systems: • Validation/Verification Based • Faith Based
E. Coli O157 testing program for ground beef production • 100% trim lot testing for E. coli O157. • Each lot about 5 tons. • One composite sample (60 pieces) of 375 grams per lot • Positive lots are sent to industrial cookers or to rendering • Program went into effect on Dec. 15, 2002.
Consequences of 100% testing for E. coli O157 • About 1500 less reported cases of E. coli O157 infections in the population in 2003 vs. 2002. • This represents ca. 36% reduction in human cases solely attributed to the impact of testing and the actions taken by the food industry in response to having positive test results.
E. coli FSIS O157:H7 Testing Program 1.0 0.8 New method 0.6 Percent Positive Samples 0.4 25g -> 325g 0.2 0.0 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2006 1995 2005 1994 2003 2004 Year http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Science/Ecoli_O157_Summary Beef Industry Success
Case Study: Ground Beef • Ground Beef is the main source of exposure to O157 in beef • Ground beef producers are the recipients of upstream process failure • They have little control over their process or the fate of their company • They receive beef trim that has already been tested for E. coli O157, and has tested negative • The FSIS test results show that although the use of primary tested trim has resulted in decreasing the incident of positive O157 ground beef by 50%-60%
Case Study: Ground Beef • We need a second firewall between the grinders and the trim suppliers • The FSIS data shows that the exposure fro ground beef can be further reduced if grinders conduct their own secondary testing of the trim, followed by verification testing of their final products • This will result in drastic reduction of O157 incidents in ground beef to a point that can remove it from the public health radar
Conclusions • We need a single food safety agency • FSIS vs. FDA • An expanded version of FSIS with it’s own Foodborne Diseases Epidemiology Division, with expanded authority (including some currently held by APHIS) may be the answer • We have to address the cost associated with food safety (consumers, retailers, food service) • We can do better in epidemiological investigations: what is done in most cases is too little too late