Big Spike in Food Recalls During Third Quarter

Food recalls occurred at a four-per-day clip during the third quarter, reaching their highest levels in two years, according to data produced by Indianapolis-based Stericycle ExpertRECALL.

The rise in recall activity involved nearly 8.5 million units of food and beverages, a 57 percent increase over the previous quarter.

Food recalls in the third quarter reached 414 separate incidents, according to the ExpertRECALL™ Index, which is complied from U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Enforcement Reports. There were 2.5 times the number of food recalls in the third quarter of 2012 than the second quarter.

“The number of recalls we saw during the third quarter if troubling,” said Mike Rozembajgier, vice president of recalls for Stericycle ExpertRECALL. “But as we enter the holiday season, its even more worrisome to know that nearly one-quarter of the food and beverage companies that faced a recall in the third quarter has more than one event.”

“As consumers are bombarded with advertisments and messages from manufacturers and retailers during the holiday season, it will be much more difficult for companies to cut through the clutter and connect with consumers on recalls,” Rozembajgier added. “This is why both these groups need to do their part to ensure that the food served during holiday parties to family and friends is safe.”

Stericycle ExpertRECALL is a third party recall company that manages consumer products, drugs, medical devices, juvenile products and food and beverage recalls.

During the third quarter, 189 food and beverage companies recalled at least one product, and 44 were involved in two or more recalls. According to index, 9 food and beverage companies were linked to 10 or more recalls during the period.

One recall involved 500,000 to 1 million units, and two were for between 1 and 5 million units.

Among the 414 food-related incidents, FDA Enforcement Reports show that 58 percent were Class I recalls, meaning they were in the category of problems that pose the greatest threat to public health. Another 38 percent were Class II recalls and 4 percent were Class III.

More than 55 percent of the recalled food and beverage units were from Class I recalls.

Of the 414 recalls during during the period, 359 involved only specific states in the U.S. Another 30 recalls involved the entire U.S. Nineteen involved recalls involved both U.S. and foreign customers, while six involved only international customers.

Salmonella and Listeria concerns drove the recall numbers during the third quarter, reaching the highest level in the last ten quarters.

Source: © Food Safety News

 

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Indiana Moving to Adopt Outdoor Stage Rules, Governor Says

By Rick Callahan | April 25, 2012

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels told an entertainment industry group pushing for safer outdoor events that the state has learned from last year’s deadly State Fair stage collapse and is moving to approve emergency rules for outdoor stages.

But Daniels conceded Indiana still has much to learn from the Event Safety Alliance, an ad hoc group, that is urging the music and live events industry to adopt established best practices for protecting people at outdoor events.

On April 23, the group brought its campaign to Indianapolis, where about 100 people — including state officials — attended the meeting at the state’s government complex. Daniels told the gathering they would find “no more avid and attentive and receptive a student” than the state of Indiana in light of the Aug. 13, 2011, stage rigging collapse that killed seven people and injured dozens more before a scheduled Sugarland concert.

“We’re going to go to school on those things you have to tell us and we’ll try to master them and learn them and apply them as well as any jurisdiction anywhere,” the governor said.

Jim Digby, the executive director and co-founder of the Event Safety Alliance, said August’s tragedy reflects a global problem. He noted that three other fatal accidents marred outdoor events last summer, including the deaths of five people in Belgium who were killed when tents and scaffolding toppled during a music festival just days after the Indiana incident.

“Make no mistake, this is the single most important issue facing our industry,” said Digby, the production manager for rock band Linkin Park.

Digby said the alliance has been granted use of an event safety guide that’s been in place in the United Kingdom for about 20 years that’s commonly called “The Purple Guide,” and members are working to adopt and refine that document’s accumulated knowledge into a U.S. version to help guide the wide-ranging American entertainment industry to create “a multi-lateral culture of safety first.”

“It’s very clear that a single-source document would allow for a common language between all responsible entities,” he said.

The first version of the U.K. safety planning guide was drafted following a 1989 double fatality at a concert, said Tim Roberts, who helped create the best practice rules. Roberts, the director and safety advisor for Event Safety Shop Ltd., said the guide has been updated twice and continues to evolve.

“I can’t say that the U.K. has got this absolutely right — there’s always stuff to learn. And I think the pain that was felt here in Indianapolis was shared around the world. The international production community is a very small community,” he said.

Two investigative reports released this month on the Indiana tragedy found that the stage rigging that collapsed in high winds did not meet industry safety standards and that fair officials lacked a fully developed emergency plan.

Daniels said the Indiana Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission will meet May 2 to discuss proposed emergency rules for outdoor stage rigging and related structures — rules required under legislation he signed into law last month.

Homeland Security Executive Director Joe Wainscott said it’s unclear whether the commission will vote to approve those rules or if the panel’s members might seek changes and approve the rules at their next meeting. But, he said, he expects the board will move quickly given that fair and festival season has arrived.

“I think they understand that there are events coming up for the summer and we need these rules,” Wainscott said.

Daniels said state fire and building inspection officials aren’t waiting for the new rules and are actively canvassing venues around the state to assess stage rigging setups. Local emergency officials have also been advised to conduct their own assessments.

“As far as we’re concerned, we are on full and maximum alert now, knowing what we know now,” Daniels said.

Source: AP

UPDATE: IOSHA Cites 3 Employers Following Investigation Into Fatal Stage Collapse in August, 2011

UPDATE: IOSHA cites 3 employers following investigations after fatal injuries at 2011 Indiana State Fair

Indiana OSHA has cited three organizations involved in the Indiana State Fair accident on August 13, 2011 that resulted in fatal injuries of two workers. Fifty-eight people were injured and 7 were killed when a gust of wind toppled stage equipment just before the band Sugarland was scheduled to perform.

IOSHA cited the Indiana State Fair Commission with one serious violation for failure to conduct a life safety evaluation and cited Local 30 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees for 3 serious violations. Violations included failure to consider soil conditions when placing cable anchor points for the grandstand stage; failure to provide fall protection for workers 4 feet or more above ground level; and, failure to conduct a personal protective equipment hazard assessment of the worksite to determine the personal protective equipment required while erecting the load bearing roof and the grandstand.

IOSHA also cited Mid-America Sound Corporation for 3 knowing violations, including failure to develop and implement an Operations Management Plan, failure to develop a risk assessment plan, failure to maintain and use current engineering calculations and documentation, and failure to provide appropriate, qualified supervision. See the news release* for more information.

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Indiana State Agencies Probe Stage Collapse at the Indiana State Fair on August 13, 2011, Killing 6 and Injuring Up to 40

A stage collapsed during a powerful storm at the Indiana State Fair on Saturday, sending steel scaffolding into the terrified crowd below and killing at least four people among fans awaiting a performance by the country band Sugarland.

The collapse came moments after an announcer warned of the advancing storm and gave instructions on what to do in event of an evacuation. Witnesses said a wall of dirt, dust and rain blew up quickly as a gust of high wind toppled the rigging. People ran amid screams and shouts, desperate to get out of the way.

Hundreds of concert-goers rushed afterward amid the chaos to tend to the injured, many with upraised arms seeking to lift heavy beams, lights and other equipment that blew down onto the crowd. Many of the injured were in the VIP section closest to the stage. Emergency crews set up a triage center in a tunnel below the grandstand at the Indianapolis fairgrounds.

About 40 people were injured, including at least one child, WTHR reported. Witnesses reported seeing many people with head and neck injuries and broken bones.

Todd Harper, spokesman for Wishard Memorial Hospital in the city, said later Sunday that at least 18 patients were brought in. He said their problems ranged from head injuries and bone fractures to lacerations and other cuts and bruises. He said those injuries were not life-threatening and conditions ranged from fair to critical.

One was a 7-year-old child, he said, but didn’t elaborate further.

“We set up a command center and a page was sent out to staff to call the command center,” he said, adding the hospital hadn’t seen such a sudden influx of patients since a tornado outbreak in 2000. “This was unusual. We can’t think of an incident that compared to this mass of people” arriving.

Indiana State Police 1st Sgt. Dave Bursten said the number of injured could rise because some people may have taken themselves to hospitals.

Bursten said the injuries ranged from cuts and scrapes to “very serious injuries” and that it was a “very likely possibility” that the death toll could also climb.

Emergency crews continued to search the fairgrounds early Sunday to ensure there were no other injured concert-goers who might have wandered off after the collapse, Bursten said.

Fair officials canceled all activities Sunday. The fair, which runs through Aug. 21, was expected to resume Monday with a service honoring the victims, he said.

Bursten said emergency personnel and fair officials were monitoring the weather because a severe storm had been expected to hit the area around 9:15 p.m. But the storm hit shortly before 9 p.m.

He said preparations were being made to evacuate the facility but that the “significant gust of wind” struck the stage rigging that holds lights and other equipment before the evacuation plan was activated.

“As we all know, weather can change in a very rapid period of time,” he said.

Concert-goers said the opening act by Sara Bareilles had finished and the crowd was waiting for Sugarland to take the stage. They said an announcer had alerted them that severe weather was possible and gave instructions on what to do if an evacuation was necessary. But the same announcer said concert organizers hoped the show would go on, and many fans stayed put.

The wind that toppled the rigging came just minutes after that announcement, fans said.

“It was like it was in slow motion,” concert-goer Amy Weathers told the Indianapolis Star. “You couldn’t believe it was actually happening.”

Associated Press photographer Darron Cummings was in the audience attending the concert as a fan shortly before the collapse. He said he and his companions sought shelter in a nearby barn after seeing the weather radar and eyeing dark clouds approaching.

“Then we heard screams. We heard people just come running,” Cummings told the AP. “When you see dark clouds like that if there’s going to be bad weather, there’s going to be mass chaos on leaving.”

Witnesses told WTHR that some of the injured were in a VIP section in front of the stage known as the “Sugar Pit.” The witnesses said the dirt, dust, rain and wind came up the main thoroughfare of the fairgrounds just before the collapse.

“Panic kicked in when they seen the dust bowl coming in from the Midway,” concert-goer Darryl Cox told the television station.

Another person at the concert, Emily Davis, told the station that there was lightning and the sky had gotten dark but it wasn’t raining when the wind suddenly toppled the rigging.

“It was horrible, people were running and going crazy,” she said.

Jessica Alsman told the AP the towering, metal stage scaffolding “kind of wobbled at first.” Then pandemonium set in as it fell.

“As soon as we saw the wind gust, the wind was in our faces,” Alsman said. She said and three friends grabbed each other and formed a chain.

You can’t imagine – we just thought it was going to rain or something,” Alsman said.

Sugarland tweeted about the incident about an hour after it happened.

“We are all right. We are praying for our fans, and the people of Indianapolis. We hope you’ll join us. They need your strength,” the band said.

Indiana’s position in the Midwest has long made it prone to volatile changes in weather. But even Wishard Memorial Hospital’s spokesman, Harper, said he was surprised how things blew up without warning.

“I was at home watching a movie and I looked outside and all of a sudden the wind picked up. It had been a beautiful day up until then and then it started raining – and then I started getting calls on the pager.”

In April 2006, tornado-force winds hit Indianapolis just after thousands of people left a free outdoor concert by John Mellencamp held as part of the NCAA men’s Final Four basketball tournament.

And in May 2004, a tornado touched down south of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, delaying the start of the Indianapolis 500 and forcing a nearly two-hour interruption in the race.

Associated Press writer Caitlin R. King in Nashville, Tenn., contributed to this report.

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