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Leafy greens, ground beef among top FMI 2019 food safety initiatives

The FMI Food Safety Program supports the food retail industry in selling safe food to loyal customers every day. FMI has several member committees …
FMI has several member committees dedicated to food safety and the technical staff offers expertise, 24/7 crisis support and comprehensive food safety training programs for member companies.
Last year, FMI members focused on Listeria prevention, cleaning and sanitation resources, and traceability technologies to advance food safety. The year ended up being a challenging one with a series of devastating foodborne outbreaks to hit retailers and our communities.As the FMI Food Protection Committee (FPC) looked at initiatives for 2019, public health and preventing additional outbreaks was at the top of the list.Last month, the FPC met in Miami to finalize this year’s food safety initiatives.These results are based upon a survey sent prior to the January FPC meeting asking for initiative topics. Responses were grouped and finalized at the committee meeting.
This year’s initiatives are:1. Leafy Green Outbreak Response In 2018, retailers were blind-sided by two significant and separate romaine lettuce outbreaks.
To help prevent these types of outbreaks from happening in the future, FMI will serve as the industry’s leading association to help prevent contaminated products from reaching grocery store shelves. This year, FMI Food Safety will focus on:Visiting farms in Yuma, AZ, to meet with produce safety experts and organizations to learn more about water standards, irrigation techniques and food safety practices in use determining recommendations regarding food safety standards for leafy greens Working with all industry and regulatory partners to help speed the time of investigations and make information available to the appropriate officials.
Retail Food Safety Leadership Development The food retail industry is undergoing rapid social and technological shifts. To help our industry more effectively recruit, train and retain future food safety leaders, FMI will focus on providing valuable resources to improve technical and soft-skill food safety knowledge competencies for the next generation of food safety professionals.
These include:Revising and updating existing FMI Food Safety resources Organizing opportunities for FMI members to obtain additional food safety leadership skills from subject matter experts through webinars and the SQF International Conference Offer Safe Mark food safety training for retail associates3. Supply Chain Food Safety Programs FMI research predicts that online grocery sales will reach $100 billion by 2025.
Whether FMI members are seeking guidance on how to begin or enhance online grocery capabilities, FMI staff will provide detailed guidance to help assure that food remains safe whether it is stored in lockers, delivered by drones or transported by a third-party delivery service. This year, our team will focus on:Sharing best practices to educate retailers and regulators about the regulatory landscape that governs food delivery in federal, state and local jurisdictions Participating in industry and regulatory working groups to represent FMI members 4.Non-O157:H7 STEC in Ground BeefIn the 1990’s and 2000’s, the USDA focused on ensuring manufacturers and retailers prevented E. coli O157:H7 contamination for ground beef.
However, other species of non-O 157 : H7 STEC, such as “E. coli O 26” are being linked to food borne outbreaks.FMI will work with members and other stakeholders to educate and address this emerging issue.Food retailers and the FMI Food and Product Safety team are prepared to take a greater leadership role to protect the public from food borne illness.These four initiatives represent the challenges facing the food retail and wholesale industries and where FMI and our collective members can make a difference.  We look forward to advancing food safety with our members, and we hope you join us in this effort in 2019.Hilary Thesmar Editors note: This article was originally posted by the Food Marketing Institute. The author Hilary Thesmar is a PhD, RD, CFS, as well as being the Chief Food and Product Safety Officer and Senior Vice President of Food Safety Programs for the institute. Food Marketing Institute (FMI advocates on behalf of the food retail industry, which employs nearly 5 million workers and represents a combined annual sales volume of almost $800 billion, according to the institutes website. FMI member companies operate nearly 33,000 retail food stores and 12,000 pharmacies. FMI membership includes the entire spectrum of food retail venues; single owner grocery stores, large multi-store supermarket chains, pharmacies, online and mixed retail stores.(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.

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Thousands of Venezuela volunteers receive US aid

CARACAS: Thousands of volunteers in Venezuela will begin mobilizing on Sunday to bring American aid into their crisis-hit country despite a blockade by President Nicolas Maduro who claims the assistance could be cover for a US invasion.
But even as the political battle pitting Guaido against Maduro continued to deepen, Caracas confirmed talks had taken place with an envoy for US President Donald Trump’s administration.The oil-rich country’s economic meltdown under Maduro has left millions in poverty facing shortages of medicine and food, with hyperinflation making purchases impossible.US aid that has been piling up in the Colombian border town of Cucuta has become the frontline of the confrontation between Guaido and Maduro.
“Venezuela is preparing for the humanitarian avalanche,” Guaido told about 4,000 supporters clad in white T-shirts and green scarves who gathered Saturday to sign up as volunteers.The throng included doctors, nurses and students.Six hundred thousand people have registered to help bring aid in through border points, Guaido told the Caracas rally, asking the volunteers to meet in town councils on Sunday to get instructions about the process.Without revealing details that could jeopardize the operation, Guaido said volunteer brigades will travel in a bus caravan to entry points for the aid which he wants to come in next Saturday.
Coromoto Crespo, 58, told AFP he volunteered because of the urgent need for supplies. “To find medicines requires a miracle.I need tablets for high blood pressure, and what I find, I cant pay for,” Crespo said.”One of my relatives died because of a lack of antibiotics.” Guaido has targeted February 23 for entry of the aid, more of which arrived for the stockpile on Saturday. Three US military cargo planes delivered several dozen more tons (tonnes) of food assistance to Cucuta.
Another US aircraft is due in the Caribbean island of Curacao from Miami on Tuesday, and a collection center for Brazilian aid will open Monday on the border, Guaido’s team said. The US shipment Saturday was accompanied by a delegation led by Mark Green, head of the US Agency for International Development.
US assistance has been blocked by containers which Maduro loyalists placed on a border bridge to prevent access. On another front, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza confirmed having held two meetings with special US envoy Elliott Abrams.
Arreaza, who traveled to New York on February 13, said he held the talks with Abrams at the request of the State Department. He declined to comment on the substance of their discussions.Guaido repeated his call on Venezuelas military — whose support for Maduro has been crucial — to let the aid pass. “You have, in your hands, the possibility of fighting alongside the people who are suffering the same shortages you are,” Guaido said in a tweet addressed to soldiers.A State Department spokeswoman, Julie Chung, issued a similar plea during a news conference in Cucuta, urging the military to stand aside at a time when Venezuelans are “dying of hunger.”Maduro asserts that aid could be used as a way for the United States to invade.
He called for reinforced border security and dismissed the arriving “crumbs” as “rotten and contaminated food.”On Friday Maduro instructed his army to prepare a “special deployment plan” for the 2,200-kilometer (1,370-mile) border with Colombia.He said he would examine “what new forces” might be needed to keep the frontier “inviolable.”Maduro has assailed the US aid as a “show” but Arreaza said he would be willing to meet with “the devil” if it helped ensure Venezuelan sovereignty.About 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2015 as the crisis intensified, according to the United Nations.Guaido accuses Maduro of being a “usurper” over his controversial reelection last year in polls widely branded as fraudulent. Maduro, the hand-picked successor to socialist firebrand Hugo Chavez, blames Venezuelas woes on US sanctions, more of which were added on Friday.He said six million families had benefited from subsidized food boxes and he claimed to have bought 933 tons of medicines and medical supplies from China, Cuba and Russia, his main international allies. “We paid for it with our own money because we’re beggars to no one,” Maduro said.

Once-wealthy Venezuela is gripped by a power struggle between socialist leader Maduro and Juan Guaido, the head of the National Assembly who proclaimed himself interim president last month and now has the backing of more than 50 countries.But even as the political battle pitting Guaido against Maduro continued to deepen, Caracas confirmed talks had taken place with an envoy for US President Donald Trump’s administration.The oil-rich country’s economic meltdown under Maduro has left millions in poverty facing shortages of medicine and food, with hyperinflation making purchases impossible.US aid that has been piling up in the Colombian border town of Cucuta has become the frontline of the confrontation between Guaido and Maduro.
“Venezuela is preparing for the humanitarian avalanche,” Guaido told about 4,000 supporters clad in white T-shirts and green scarves who gathered Saturday to sign up as volunteers.The throng included doctors, nurses and students.Six hundred thousand people have registered to help bring aid in through border points, Guaido told the Caracas rally, asking the volunteers to meet in town councils on Sunday to get instructions about the process.Without revealing details that could jeopardize the operation, Guaido said volunteer brigades will travel in a bus caravan to entry points for the aid which he wants to come in next Saturday.
Coromoto Crespo, 58, told AFP he volunteered because of the urgent need for supplies. “To find medicines requires a miracle.I need tablets for high blood pressure, and what I find, I can´t pay for,” Crespo said.”One of my relatives died because of a lack of antibiotics.” Guaido has targeted February 23 for entry of the aid, more of which arrived for the stockpile on Saturday. Three US military cargo planes delivered several dozen more tons (tonnes) of food assistance to Cucuta.Another US aircraft is due in the Caribbean island of Curacao from Miami on Tuesday, and a collection center for Brazilian aid will open Monday on the border, Guaido’s team said. The US shipment Saturday was accompanied by a delegation led by Mark Green, head of the US Agency for International Development.US assistance has been blocked by containers which Maduro loyalists placed on a border bridge to prevent access. On another front, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza confirmed having held two meetings with special US envoy Elliott Abrams.
Arreaza, who traveled to New York on February 13, said he held the talks with Abrams at the request of the State Department. He declined to comment on the substance of their discussions.Guaido repeated his call on Venezuela´s military  whose support for Maduro has been crucial — to let the aid pass. “You have, in your hands, the possibility of fighting alongside the people who are suffering the same shortages you are,” Guaido said in a tweet addressed to soldiers.A State Department spokeswoman, Julie Chung, issued a similar plea during a news conference in Cucuta, urging the military to stand aside at a time when Venezuelans are “dying of hunger.”Maduro asserts that aid could be used as a way for the United States to invade.He called for reinforced border security and dismissed the arriving “crumbs” as “rotten and contaminated food.”On Friday Maduro instructed his army to prepare a “special deployment plan” for the 2,200-kilometer (1,370-mile) border with Colombia.He said he would examine “what new forces” might be needed to keep the frontier “inviolable.”Maduro has assailed the US aid as a “show” but Arreaza said he would be willing to meet with “the devil” if it helped ensure Venezuelan sovereignty.About 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2015 as the crisis intensified, according to the United Nations.Guaido accuses Maduro of being a “usurper” over his controversial reelection last year in polls widely branded as fraudulent. Maduro, the hand-picked successor to socialist firebrand Hugo Chavez, blames Venezuela´s woes on US sanctions, more of which were added on Friday.He said six million families had benefited from subsidized food boxes and he claimed to have bought 933 tons of medicines and medical supplies from China, Cuba and Russia, his main international allies. “We paid for it with our own money because we’re beggars to no one,” Maduro said.

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