Oysters linked to 170 illnesses in Finland; people sick in other countries

Contaminated shellfish are continuing to cause illnesses in several European countries and Hong Kong.

At least 170 people have fallen ill in Helsinki, Finland, after eating oysters in various restaurants in February and March. Cases have also been reported in other Finnish cities.

Norovirus has been found in nine different oyster batches with two from the Netherlands, six from France, and one from Ireland. Importers have withdrawn affected batches from the market.

Officials have tested food from restaurants and taken patient samples, finding norovirus. Some of those sick reported eating oysters.

A report on the outbreak is being prepared for the Finnish Food Authority (Ruokavirasto) and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Norovirus is the most commonly identified cause of foodborne outbreaks in Finland. Between 2017 and 2021, oysters caused 11 norovirus outbreaks in which more than 110 people fell ill.

Finland has published four Rapid Alert System … Read more

Raw milk bill requires Hawaii Legislature to choose between health risks or food security

Hawaii House Bill 521 reads like another attempt to weaken the regulation of raw milk until you notice that the year 3000 is currently listed as the effective date. That might be a long wait for those who want to legalize raw milk and raw milk products in the Aloha State including the bill’s powerful author.

Nevertheless, HB521 is getting serious consideration from Hawaii’s legislative committee. The bill has already been heard by the House Finance Committee and the Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce. Those two committees agree that the purpose of HB 521 is to:

1) Authorize and decriminalize the sale of raw milk and raw milk products directly to consumers for human consumption, subject to certain conditions; and

(2) Authorize the sale of raw goat milk for pet consumption, subject to certain conditions.

Hawaii’s Health Department is completely opposed to HB 521. The department’s testimony could not … Read more

Letter to the Editor: Food safety cannot wait — infant formula letter important to industry

From: Susan Mayne, Director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

I am writing in response to the opinion piece published on March 13, 2023, titled “Be Best or Be Better,” by Bill Marler. The article references a letter sent by FDA on March 8 to the infant formula industry to share current safety information and call on the industry to take prompt action to improve processes and programs for the protection of our most vulnerable population. In the opinion piece, Mr. Marler charges the agency to do three things, which I would like to respond to.

First, Mr. Marler says FDA should “put an inspector in every plant 24/7”
Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring the safety of the formula they sell to consumers, and it’s FDA’s responsibility to verify through the use of inspections that they are taking the appropriate steps and meeting the legal requirements … Read more

The review finds the need to improve the evaluation of food safety interventions

There are issues with how the impact and success of food safety projects are measured in developing countries, according to a review.

The study summarizes interventions evaluated in some low- and middle-income countries in Asia between 2000 and 2020 and the outcome on knowledge, attitude and practice, hazard presence, and effects on health. 

Overall, 25 studies were considered. A ‘before and after’ study design was the most frequently used.

Methods focused on training to improve knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) towards safe food or on specific technologies. Nine studies were specific as they looked at cattle, poultry, pigs, and fish value chains. All but one reported some level of success. Some food safety work targeted dedicated hazards, including Taenia solium, E. coli, zoonotic fish trematodes, fecal coliforms, and fecal Streptococcus.

How to judge success
However, there is a clear evidence gap for the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of food safety interventions … Read more

EU assesses produce and shellfish controls in Turkey

Two audits by the European Commission’s health and safety agency have looked at checks on food of non-animal origin (FNAO) and bivalve mollusks in Turkey.

A DG Sante audit on FNAO, in September 2022, made three recommendations. The focus was microbiological contamination of soft berries like strawberries, leafy crops such as lettuce, and dry tomatoes for export to the European Union.

Food safety at primary production is addressed through, and depends on, good agricultural practices inspection and private certification systems. However, this does not cover small growers supplying export channels outside the main supermarket chains, and authorities do not verify measures to prevent microbiological contamination.

Turkish officials said to prevent contamination of tomato, strawberry, and lettuce products before and during harvest, several provinces will be told to carry out official controls. Other steps include inspection programs, training, audits, and sampling.

During processing, official controls are in place. However, auditors found … Read more