Editor’s Note: We try to frame 10 of the most important events each year, but it’s not just about the “Top Ten Stories”. This is because what is essential seldom concerns a single story – framing what marks an entire year almost always involves more than one writer; when it comes to food safety, we’re pretty good at it. In no particular order, let’s look at what comes out of 2021.

  • Dietary guidelines remain mostly unchanged and inaudible

Blame went to the pandemic that turned the generally dominant updating process into another group of forgettable ‘zoom’ meetings. It was late with a 5-year update slated for 2020. With some statements from early 2021 that too much sugar or too much alcohol was not good for you, the federal government has finally released updated dietary guidelines. up to date for Americans. Expect more noise in 2025 when dietary guidelines are expected to be updated.

  • America’s biggest food security criminals seek releasee

Stewart and Michael Parnell spent 2021 using all their resolve to get out of the federal prisons that hold them. They were not candidates for “compassionate release”, but the Central District of Georgia actively considered their “Habeas Corpus” requests to quash their convictions and sentences.

A “compassionate release” allows the Bureau of Prisons to release older and medically challenged inmates who have served a large percentage of their sentence. Habeas Corpus allows federal inmates to seek the quashing of their convictions and penalties for violating constitutional rights.

Stewart, 67, and Michael, 62, were convicted in 2014 of numerous crimes related to the outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium in 46 states which sickened 714 and contributed to nine deaths in 2008-09. The two brothers remained wards of the Bureau of Prisons at the end of the year, with petitions pending.

  • Food safety relations pick up as the world’s largest organization revives people-to-people meetings.

The International Food Protection Association (IAFP) has only missed twice in its long history, in 1943 and 2020, its annual in-person meetings. For an organization built on relationships – government and industry, students and faculty – virtual meetings weren’t going to last long. The IAFP was back in 2021, for reunions in Hot Phonix, AZ, and continuing a tradition that dates back to 1912.

  • Food Freedom / Food Rights remain popular without really knowing what they mean

This year, so-called food freedom hit Montana, and Maine became the first state to make food a constitutional right. Just as states like Wyoming and Utah enacted food freedom laws, Montana passed legislation to allow farmers and ranchers to purchase fresh food, including raw milk.

Senator Greg Hertz, R-Polson, is a Montana grocer who drafted the bill, which is based on the Montana Cottage Foods Act of 2015. The new Food Freedom Act left the USDA approved meat inspection law intact.

Maine voters easily approved a historic state constitutional amendment establishing a constitutional right to food. Wording added to the Maine constitution provides that individuals have a “natural, inherent and inalienable right to food, including the right to save and exchange seeds and the right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their choice.

An individual’s right to food, however, does not allow “intrusion, theft, poaching or other abuse of private property rights, public lands or natural resources in the harvest, production or acquisition of food.

Call it the right to food or the freedom to eat, food safety precautions are unlikely to go away.

  • Wait – sesame gets allergen status in two years

Sesame will officially become the ninth major food allergen on January 1, 2023. It will take its place alongside peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soybeans, milk, eggs and wheat as designated by the 2004 Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA).

This is what Congress accomplished by adopting the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education and Research Act (FASTER) in 2021.

It’s almost certain that a ninth major food allergen will cause more food recalls, helping to warn people with severe sesame reactions before they happen.

Under the FASTER Act, sesame will be subject to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act with label disclosure requirements and preventative controls for processors, packers, etc.

  • Pathway to declaring adulterating Salmonella serotypes in meat will likely go through the courts

For two years, world-renowned food safety lawyer Bill Marler, also known as the publisher of Food Security News, petitioned the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service regarding “outbreak” serotypes of Salmonella.

Marler wants the USDA to label these “epidemic” Salmonella serotypes as “adulterants” in meat because they are harmful to humans. E. coli O157: H7 and six other “sister” strains of E. coli are adulterants now banned in meat.

In the final days of 2021, Marler asks FSIS for a “definitive and swift response”. to his petition. In other words, he wants a yes or no answer, no more involved in chewing the problem with FSIS.

If it’s ‘yes’, he will celebrate with his group of plaintiffs consisting of Rick Schiller, Steve Romes, the Porter family, Food and WaterWatch, the Consumer Federation of America and Consumer Reports.

If it’s “no,” Marler will appeal the FSIS decision to federal courts where, over the course of his career, the Seattle lawyer has made billions for victims of foodborne illness. An appeal under the Federal Administrative Procedures Act becomes the basis for challenging FSIS decisions.

  • Trial of retired Blue Bell president Paul Kruse begins March 14

A federal Grand Jury indictment of Paul Kruse, the retired president of Blue Bell Creameries, fell in late 2020. Some pre-trial cases took place in 2021. The trial, however, was postponed until 2022 because that defense lawyers had scheduling conflicts.

The trial is scheduled to begin March 14 with jury selection in Federal Court for the Western District of Austin. The conspiracy and fraud charges, a 7-count indictment against Kruse, stem from a listeriosis outbreak in 2015.

There have been 10 confirmed cases in this outbreak in four states. The outbreak involved Blue Bell ice cream, consumed by three people who died. Blue Bell had to recall its production, close its production plants and lay off its employees.

Blue Bell ice cream remains one of the most popular products in Texas. The company has agreed to pay criminal penalties totaling $ 17.5 million and $ 2.1 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations regarding ice cream products manufactured under “unsanitary” conditions and sold to facilities. federal, including the military.

The total of $ 19.35 million in fines, forfeitures and civil settlements was the second highest amount ever paid in resolving a food security issue. Kruse, 66, was the company’s long-time president, credited by some Texans with saving the company.

  • These epidemics before 2020, where E.coli O157: H7 contaminated Roman cultures, are not forgotten by the FDA

The Food and Drug Administration hopes to make changes to water requirements under the Produce Safety Rule, in part to prevent feedlot dust from transporting E. coli to nearby lush green fields and into other areas. other fields used for the cultivation of products.

The agency announced in December that it was revising Subpart E of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) product safety rule to change pre-harvest agricultural water requirements for products. applicable (other than sprouts).

If finalized, the proposed rule would replace the pre-harvest microbial quality criteria and testing requirements in the product safety rule with a pre-harvest systems-based approach for water assessments and testing. agricultural.

The proposed rule would define assessments as actions to identify conditions that are reasonably likely to introduce known or foreseeable hazards in or on products or food contact surfaces and determine whether corrective or mitigating actions are needed. to minimize the risks associated with pre-harvest agricultural water.

These requirements would address concerns about the complexity and practical implementation of certain pre-harvest agricultural water requirements in the product safety rule while protecting public health, according to the FDA. The requirements should also be adaptable to future advances in agricultural water quality science.

The harvest and post-harvest uses of agricultural water or the agricultural water requirements for shoots will not change. Sprouts are subject to specific pre-harvest water requirements, and the compliance dates for these sprout requirements have passed.

  • How long will it take the US Senate to confirm Dr. Jose Emilio Esteban?

First-year presidential administrations often don’t appoint someone as the USDA’s undersecretary of food security. This is one of the factors that explains why the most senior food safety position in the federal government has become vacant almost as often as not.

Thank the new Biden administration for the November 12 appointment of Dr. Jose Emilio Esteban as USDA’s Under Secretary for Food Safety. The position became vacant on January 20, 2021, when Mindy Brashears returned to her senior research position at Texas Tech University.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) chief scientist Esteban cannot take over as undersecretary until the U.S. Senate confirms it. It needs a hearing and recommendation from the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and a majority vote from the entire United States Senate for its confirmation.

The most recent USDA confirmation to the Senate was Rostin Behnam to chair the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The president appointed him on September 20 and it took three months for the Senate to confirm it.

How long will the Senate make Esteban wait? This is a question for 2022.

  • Keep reading Food Safety News for the major outbreaks for 2021 and the forecast for 2022.

We love to get everyone in the act for these year-end stories. We will continue to provide our readers with new content until the end of this year and into 2022. Perhaps our look back and forecast will include something that you missed over the year and that you can watch next year.

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