Saturday, March 6, 2010


Food safety violations occur in almost all countries mostly because of carelessness or inadequate supervision of processing operations at the floor level. Reports of serious food poisoning pour out from even developed countries with much acclaimed safety enforcement infrastructure and vigilance system. Here is the latest episode reported recently claiming lives of seven unfortunate victims in Austria and Germany, after consuming Listeria infected cheese from a reputed manufacturer.

"So far Austrian and German food safety bodies have traced seven deaths to acid curd cheese produced by Prolactal. AGES, the Austrian food safety agency, found that the victims had bought Prolactal cheese and then found Listeria monocytogenes in samples taken at the company. Prolactal has since investigated the causes of the contamination and concluded that human error and failure to adhere to the company control system could be to blame".

The good sense on the part of the manufacturer to own up the responsibility is to be appreciated and immediate diagnosis of the problem brought out the negligence on the part of the staff to close a window that allowed dung beetles (a known source of Listeria) to gain entry into the manufacturing area. Also revealed was that an inappropriate culture blend was used for inoculation which did not contain Listeria inhibiting strains. Of course such admission of guilt is of very little use to the grieving family of those victims who perished due to the negligence.


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