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FDA warnings: From arsenic in juice to pathogens in meat

Staff writer |
A juice processor in Washington state, seafood companies in New York and Hawaii, and a cattle operation in Texas received warnings from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA) because of food safety problems.

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The FDA told Valley Processing of Sunnyside, Wa. that inspectors had found “serious violations” of the juice Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations during inspections from December 7, 2015, through January 29 this year.

As a result, FDA stated, the company’s apple and pear juice, juice concentrate and essence products “are adulterated in that they have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health.”

Analysis of apple juice concentrate samples revealed inorganic arsenic levels at 88.1 nanograms per gram (ng/g) or parts per billion (ppb) in single-strength or ready-to-be consumed apple juice, according to the warning letter.

FDA’s action level for inorganic arsenic in single-strength apple juice is 10 ppb, so the level found in the sample tested may render the food injurious to health, FDA stated.

FDA sent a warning letter to Adriatic Seafood of Staten Island, N.Y., stating the company’s seafood importing facility had been inspected from April 22 through May 12, 2016.

That inspection revealed “serious violations” of the seafood HACCP regulations, according to the letter, specifically that the company did not implement an affirmative step for its fresh anchovies and fresh sardines as required by federal regulations.

If these problems are not promptly corrected, FDA noted, the agency can refuse entry to the U.S. for these imported fish or fishery products, including placing them on “detention without physical examination” status and seize the products and/or otherwise stop the firm from further violation of the law.

Seafood HACCP issues were also identified after FDA inspected the seafood processing facility of Suisan in Hilo, Hi., on March 22 and 24. According to a June 14, 2016, warning letter, the company’s revised HACCP plan for its tuna intended for raw consumption was inadequate to control for “the significant hazards of histamine formation and pathogens.”

FDA recommended that the company hold raw products at a cooler temperature of 40 degrees F or below and also factor in the time the products spend during transit, in refrigerated storage, and in refrigerated and unrefrigerated processing. Alternatively, if the products are stored under ice, the product must be “completely and continuously surrounded by ice throughout the storage time.”

FDA sent a warning letter to MGM Cattle of Loch Gowna, County Cavan, Ireland, regarding its cattle operation in Kingsbury, Tx., which was inspected on Feb. 4, 5, 9 and 11.

According to the warning letter, the company sold a heifer on or about November 17, 2015, for slaughter as food. Analysis of tissue samples collected from the animal showed 0.632 parts per million (ppm) of flunixin residue in the liver tissue, FDA stated, while the agency’s tolerance is 0.125 ppm for residues of flunixin in the liver of cattle. Flunixin is a non-streroidal, anti-inflammatory drug that also reduces fever and pain.

FDA also noted in the letter that the company did not maintain complete treatment records for its animals, including route of administration for each drug and the individual providing the treatment.

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