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USDA BSE Update - Thursday, January 22, 2004

January 22, 2004
From a press release
WASHINGTON -- USDA's investigation into the 81 cattle that came from Canada continues. In total, 23 of the 81 cattle that came from Canada have been located:
* One of the 81 was the positive cow.
* Three have been located at a facility in Tenino, Washington.
* Six have been located at a facility in Connell, Washington.
* One has been located at a dairy in Quincy, Washington.
* Three were at a facility in Mattawa, Washington.
* Nine were in the index herd.
USDA has transported and sampled a total of 39 animals from the Mattawa facility and 131 animals from the index premises. To date, 129 samples from the index herd have completed testing; results were negative. Twenty samples from the Mattawa herd have completed testing; results were negative.
USDA's investigation into 17 additional cattle, mentioned by Dr. Brian Evans, Chief Veterinary Officer for Canada, in the January 6, 2004, technical briefing, continues. These cattle are not part of the original 81 animals. To date, four animals have been traced. Three are located at the Quincy, Washington, facility, and one is at a Boardman, Oregon, facility. The State of Oregon has placed the Boardman facility under a hold order to facilitate the investigation. Investigators are still determining whether the remaining 13 animals entered the United States.
Senior U.S. government officials are continuing talks with trading partners and this week are meeting with officials in Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong and South Korea to discuss BSE related issues.
Additional information on BSE can be obtained by visiting the USDA website at http://www.usda.gov/BSE. Past BSE updates can be viewed at http://www.aphis.usda.gov.
SOURCE U.S. Department of Agriculture

Two groups to sue farmed salmon industry
January 23, 2004
Associated Press
Terence Chea
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Environmental Working Group and the Center for Environmental Health were cited as filing notice last week of their intent to sue 50 salmon farms, fish processors and grocery chains under a California anti-toxics law.
Michael Green, executive director for the Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health, was quoted as saying, "Our goal is to challenge them to change their practices so their fish is safe to eat."
Alex Trent, executive director of the trade group Salmon of the Americas, was quoted as saying, "(Consumers) will be doing themselves and their families a great disservice if they stop eating farmed salmon," noting that farmed salmon, a source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, is much cheaper than wild salmon and can be purchased year-round.
The story explains that under Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, companies are required to notify consumers if their products contain hazardous levels of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm.
State law requires private groups to first file notice of their intent to sue to give the state attorney general and other prosecutors 60 days to decide whether to join or take over the lawsuit.

Food safety facts for fresh fruits and vegetables

BSE-HACCP Issue Clarified
Confusion over altering HACCP plans to be in compliance with new BSE regulations is resolved.

The North American Meat Processors Association, Reston, Virginia, has provided information to processors who are reassessing their HACCP plans regarding the purchase of bone-in beef from cattle less than 30 months of age in accordance with the new regulations designed to keep bovine spongiform encephalopathy out of the U.S. meat supply and restore lost export markets.

NAMP reported that according to USDAs Food Safety and Inspection Service Tech Center in Iowa and its staff field office in Washington, D.C. that a standing letter on file as part of a purchase specification is acceptable for receiving bone in beef order to comply with the new BSE regulations. The letter must state that either:

a) All meat received is from cattle under 30 months of age, or

b) All specific-risk materials according to the FSIS regulations have been removed.

The second option (b) regarding SRMs will probably be much easier to obtain. Again, this can be a standing letter on file, and does not have to come with each load, NAMP emphasize. FSIS is supposedly working on a notice to issue to inspectors for further clarification.

This is different information than we were given by the policy office earlier in the week,?the NAMP release said. And we know there is a lot of confusion in the field.?NAMP advised processors that are having problems with their local inspectors to contact their district office for clarification, or the FSIS Tech Center (Tel: 800) 233-3935).
Web posted: January 23, 2004

Agriculture Department Plans Cattle Identification System
(Washington Post, DC)
By Marc Kaufman

The Agriculture Department wants to implement a nationwide cattle identification system as a way to better track the nation's herd after the discovery of the nation's first known case of mad cow disease.

Speaking yesterday before the House Committee on Agriculture, Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman said the department has been studying how to organize a cattle identification system for 18 months and now is looking to speed its implementation.

"I understand the need to get it done quickly," Veneman said. But she also said there is ongoing debate about whether there should be one system organized and perhaps funded by the federal government, or whether the USDA should set standards that cattle ranchers and the meat industry can apply in a variety of ways.

Highlighting the sense of urgency, Veneman said authorities have been able to locate only 24 of the 80 cows that came into the United States with the animal later found to be infected with mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Federal officials want to find those animals because they came from the same dairy herd in Alberta, Canada, as the sick cow and may have eaten the same contaminated food believed to have caused the animal to become infected. With a national identification system, it would be considerably easier to locate individual animals.

The USDA reported yesterday that it had found one more of the animals that came into the United States with the sick cow on a dairy facility in Boardman, Ore., near the Washington border. The farm was placed under quarantine.

Veneman said some meat retailers and restaurant chains such as McDonald's have already begun identification programs of their own. Last fall, she said, McDonald's began paying a higher price for beef that could be traced back to its birth herd.

Veneman's comments came in answer to questions from Rep. Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.), who said a government-sponsored identification system has been tested and is being used with about 1 million of the nation's 45 million cattle. Peterson said the discovery of mad cow disease in Washington state made it essential to get an identification system into place quickly, and he suggested that the government require ranchers to use the one it helped develop several years ago.

At the hearing, Veneman said that American consumers appear to be taking the mad cow scare in stride, and that "retailers and food service outlets are reporting virtually no adverse effects on consumer demand." She also said that the price of cattle is now about 10 to 15 percent lower than before the contaminated animal was found on Dec. 23, but that prices have been increasing in recent weeks. 1-22-04

Current Food Safety Informaiton
01/23. A short statement on Kevin's Law
01/23. New measures to stop imports of chilli and chilli products w
01/23. Food Standards Agency Scotland offers ¡Ì70,000 to Scottish fo
01/23. More to beef than described in column
01/23. USDA BSE Update
01/23. Two groups to sue farmed salmon industry
01/23. Oregon Dairy Part Of Mad Cow Probe
01/23. Canadian Cows Traced To Idaho In Mad Cow Investigation
01/23. Backers Of Food Labels Vow To Fight Delay
01/23. December restaurant closures
01/23. Food safety facts for fresh fruits and vegetables
01/23. Requesting information for proposed food safety conference
01/23. Cow's 'downer' status comes into question
01/23. Farmed salmon industry faces legal action over contaminants
01/23. Downside to Downer Ban
01/23. BSE-HACCP Issue Clarified
01/23. Commentary: 'Lack of evidence' justifies caution on BSE
01/23. EU might ban Thai chicken due to risk of bird flu -
01/23. Bird flu fears may lead to EU ban on Thai chicken
01/23. Thailand admits to Avian 'flu'
01/23. Antibiotics in food production investigated
01/23. BSE Workshop
01/23. Senate approves delay on COOL as part of 2004 omnibus fundin
01/23. Veneman tells Sen. Enzi: COOL not a food-safety issue
01/23. 'May contain' gets an overhaul -
01/23. USDA Finds Herdmates of Mad Cow Animal in Idaho
01/23. Japan, U.S. no closer on end to mad cow beef ban
01/23. Brucellosis latest concern for U.S. beef producers
01/23. Op-Ed: Crying Wolf Over Mad Cow Disease
01/23. Japan, US end meeting without agreement on lifting beef impo
01/23. Michigan faces public health challenge with white-tailed dee
01/23. Discount Cards Help in Mad Cow Recall

01/22. Administration Backs A Food-Labeling Delay
01/22. USDA Aide: Japan's Plan For Testing US Beef Wouldn't Help
01/22. Agriculture Department Plans Cattle Identification System
01/22. Mad cow and madder organic agriculture
01/22. Aussie know-how makes Japanese meat safer
01/22. USDA mulls mandatory national livestock ID program
01/22. Japan bans Thai chicken imports after bird flu report
01/22. U.S. Critiques Mad Cow Testing Suggestion
01/22. Hold order halts movement of cows at Boardman dairy
01/22. Agriculture committee questions BSE actions
01/22. USDA details BSE containment operations
01/22. Inspector Shortage Looming?
01/22. Chickens possibly exposed to bird flu were sold to the publi
01/22. Veneman discusses BSE issues with Congress
01/22. Japan blocks sale of 'at risk' U.S. beef
01/22. Making airwaves
01/22. Europe on the alert for carcinogenic colours
01/22. Parliament doubles EU food agency funding
01/22. FDA amends fish oil GRAS
01/22. German GM bill causes concern
01/22. Additional key officials confirmed for BSE Briefing in the N
01/22. USDA continues its BSE epidemiological investigation
01/22. Poland is first to lift US beef ban due to mad cow
01/22. U.S. expects beef nations to adopt its mad cow rules
01/22. USDA Mad Cow Investigation Expands to Oregon
01/22. Agriculture Chief Defends Mad Cow Actions
01/22. US official rejects screening all cows for BSE
01/22. Produce has peril, too
01/22. Pittsboro Reports E. Coli In Its Water Supply
01/22. Ontario minister acknowledges Walkerton compensation plan no
01/22. USDA's Veneman Uncertain About U.S. Beef Trade
01/22. East Europe Toils to Put Safe Food on EU's Plate
01/22. What's the beef?
01/22. USDA Says Mad Cow Probe Should End in Weeks
01/22. Administration Backs a Food-Labeling Delay
01/22. Food Standards Agency Scotland Offers ¡Ì70,000 To Scottish Fo
01/22. Restaurant Can Sue Columbia Professor

01/21. Salmon scare raises more suspicion than fear
01/21. Mad Cow Hunt Gains Steam
01/21. Fish Alert: What's the Net?
01/21. FDA isolates all potentially infected products from Washing
01/21. U.S. experts attempt to contain Vietnam's bird flu crisis
01/21. Annual Meat Conference adds BSE session to program
01/21. Poland¡¯s meat and dairy sectors still struggling on EU compl
01/21. Europe safe from Avian 'flu, say experts
01/21. Tracking the harmful red ingredient
01/21. Uphill battle to convince Japan over BSE imports
01/21. Restoring confidence: the task ahead
01/21. FDA Finds Animal Proteins In Feed Grain
01/21. Congress seeks ban on downer animals
01/21. 'Frankenfood' and the ensuing debate
01/21. [Australia] Livestock clear of mad cow
01/21. US Congress, Japan Review USDA Mad Cow Safeguards
01/21. Traces of GM DNA found in digestive tract
01/21. Japan Bans Wholesale of Some U.S. Beef
01/21. Chi-Chi's legal claims proceed
01/21. No spread is found in CWD among deer
01/21. Spanish mad cow cases climb in 2003, drop-off seen
01/21. Campylobacter jejuni Appears Associated with Immunoprolifera
01/21. Congress, Japan Review USDA Mad Cow Safeguards
01/21. Cancer Fear Causes EU Chili Crackdown
01/21. Testing now required for food service workers
01/21. Food irradiation: It's a good thing for our safety

01/20. U.S. Lacks System To Trace Cows, Critics Say
01/20. U.S. Balked At New Mad Cow Safeguards
01/20. Group Files Mad Cow Claim Against State
01/20. Mayet/Lery Group: Ownership of BSE test patent
01/20. Canadians fed downer cattle banned from U.S; Inability to st
01/20. Burying heads over mad cow
01/20. The whole cow and nothing but the whole cow
01/20. Hepatitis A - Russia (Karachayevsk-Cherkessia)
01/20. Doubting our prime cuts: Concerns focus on mad cow and more
01/20. Crises like mad cow don't weigh on minds of consumers for lo
01/20. Grocery industry offers up to 100,000 reward for information
01/20. 'More than just meat'; Food inspection is a complex safety s
01/20. We should test every cow
01/20. America's beef problem
01/20. Statement on FDA's participation in U.S. government's
01/20. Mass BSE testing unwarranted: PM
01/20. Every serving of salmon adds to the accumulated risk
01/20. Store it-don't ignore it
01/20. Japan warns another mad cow case can occur in US
01/20. Eating Chicken May Boost Arsenic Exposure
01/20. Primary source vs the spin on salmon safety

01/19. Eat your fish
01/19. Farmed salmon is safe
01/19. Farmed salmon, pro and con
01/19. Mad cow reaches absurd level of hysteria: Billions of dollar
01/19. Safefood awards students for the best research on food safet
01/19. Nestle taken to court over GM mislabelling
01/19. U.S. delegation to discuss BSE in Japan and Korea
01/19. More Cows Found
01/19. Illegal Meat
01/19. BSE Workshops Coming
01/19. AMI to host DeHaven at February BSE conference
01/19. No changes in BSE policy as North American agriculture offic
01/19. Washington legislators call for more BSE regulation
01/19. Voluntary labelling proposed
01/19. International food safety issues
01/19. FDA to closely examine herbal supplements
01/19. Locke proclaims beef and dairy week: Consumers urged to buy
01/19. BSE: food safety key to winning back business

01/18. Probed meat packers eye Owen Sound plant
01/18. Holes in the USDA¡¯s BSE testing system
01/18. Stricter feed laws in the Netherlands
01/18. FSIS held public meeting on new technology office
01/18. Veneman and Canadian, Mexican Ag Ministers set to 'harmonize
01/18. Hunters kill 73 deer with CWD during 2003 season
01/18. Questions about mad cow disease and chronic wasting disease
01/18. How you clean could be making you sick

01/17. Big Beefs Dirty War - Meat industry has resisted cleaning up
01/17. Steps to Safer Beef?
01/17. Food Safety to Go: American Dietetic Association Forms
01/17. Japanese team: U.S. and Canadian beef still not 100 per cent
01/17. Genetically Modified Organisms Not Easily Contained
01/17. EU Commission Seeks to Increase Biotech Food Safety
01/17. Japan BSE study berates US beef safety
01/17. Japan Team Still Skeptical of U.S. Beef
01/17. US bans import of Hungarian meat
01/17. More U.S. Herds Quarantined Over Mad Cow
01/17. EU commissioner denies strict food standards a barrier to tr
01/17. Pet hazards in your home
01/17. Handle with care

01/16. Better hygiene helps ensure vegetable safety, Texas A&M expe
01/16. Update on chilli warning -
01/16. If it's not one thing (mad cow), it's another (PCBs)
01/16. Dairy farmers and cattle ranchers call for ban on 'downer' c
01/16. Getting on their case: Sausage-makers have a beef with the U
01/16. Minister sees mad cow deal closer
01/16. New mad cow cases in Italy
01/16. FDA places six Canadian feed plants on import alert
01/16. Speller Looks For Answers On Cow Bans
01/16. Senators Urge Emergency Meat Labeling
01/16. USDA Officials Urge Adoption Of Cattle Identification System
01/16. PAA updates landmark report identifying pattern of misinform
01/16. BC-Food
01/16. Unsolved mysteries
01/16. Suit Seeks to Block Sales of GloFish
01/16. Validity Of Mad-Cow Tests Questioned
01/16. Cattlemen discuss mad cow -
01/16. Challenging year for Europe¡¯s food industry
01/16. USDA: No BSE testing done in Washington
01/16. Another Washington herd quarantined
01/16. Japan official calls lifting of beef ban 'desirable'
01/16. Beef specialists say COOL not effective for food safety
01/16. BSE: FAO tells trading states to tighten controls
01/16. FSA debates kava
01/16. Ebola Outbreaks Caused By Meat?
01/16. Fish Oil for Mom May Prevent Allergies in Baby
01/16. EU Commission Seeks to Increase Biotech Food Safety
01/16. More mad cow tests weighed to calm Japan
01/16. Inspectors: Testing Of U.S. Beef Is Inadequate
01/16. US consumer groups ask more info on mad cow probe
01/16. Discovery of animal bonemeal in livestock feed sparks Danish
01/16. Swiss export BSE expertise to North America
01/16. High bacteria levels found in La Pine school water
01/16. We're All Going to Die!
01/16. Pay more attention to foodborne disease
01/16. Thoughts about mad cows
01/16. In the genes
01/16. Vietnamese City Bans Sale of Poultry, Asia Worries
01/16. N. America Farm Ministers Meet on Mad Cow Concerns

01/15. Chemical safety: Smoke flavourings
01/15. Nagase to market Syscan's food safety solutions in Japan
01/15. Redondo eateries must post grades
01/15. Milford, Pa.-area residents object to proposed meat irradiat
01/15. Midwestern meat processors scramble as irradiation firm liqu
01/15. Farm salmon fiasco joins history of food scares
01/15. An idea we can't throw back
01/15. Mad Cow Politics In Washington
01/15. US Cattle Tracing Will Calm Beef Fears -Farm Group
01/15. Medical, health and food safety experts advise reading past
01/15. Ireland boosts food safety: Fewer food businesses in Ireland
01/15. Meat Processing Global editor Chris Harris looks at the trad
01/15. INDIA/USA: Heinz suspects foul play in fungal ketchup compla
01/15. Brain Sandwiches Still on Some Menus
01/15. How Safe is the Beef Supply?
01/15. Tracking beef from the field to your dinner plate
01/15. Butchers, farmers prefer muscle cuts
01/15. The telltale brain
01/15. Menudo safe from disease
01/15. Mad cow concerns hit county -
01/15. Emmi lauches lactose-free milk
01/15. Funding approved for USDA's animal health complex renovation
01/15. Canada bans downers
01/15. BSE Questions Answered
01/15. Scottish salmon safe to eat, says EU
01/15. Annual Meat Conference adds special 'BSE Update' session to
01/15. Hunt for infected cows leaves out 'slaughter auctions'
01/15. Canada Tells Japan Its Mad Cow Tests Are Rigorous
01/15. USDA Tracing Suspect Cattle From Canada
01/15. Japan minister says early lifting of ban on US beef desirabl
01/15. No soap? No problem
01/15. Your Guide To Food Poisoning

01/14. Food safety and PCBs found in fish
01/14. Cattlemen¡¯s organizations modify convention forum to tackle
01/14. Starved for reform: After mad cow disease, we could learn a
01/14. FDA advances consumer health and safety in 2003
01/14. Can you handle the germy truth?: Your average shopping cart
01/14. More black widow spiders turning up in grapes: Ottawa issues
01/14. Consumer group says mad cow-like disease may already be kill
01/14. Mad cow scare a boost for Maine-produced meat
01/14. Mad cow takes center stage at one of the nation's largest ga
01/14. It's all over for SureBeam
01/14. Restoring consumer confidence
01/14. NZ raises allergy issue for supplement users
01/14. Herbal weight loss supplement appears to impact heart on fir
01/14. Mad Cow Import Bans Get Canadian Goats
01/14. Speller optimistic Japan and South Korea may lift beef ban
01/14. US beef left in limbo
01/14. USDA Killing More Washington State Cows
01/14. Canada Bans Downers From Certain Slaughter Plants
01/14. Editorial cried wolf over mad cow
01/14. Outbreak at Chili's prompts changes
01/14. ¡®It¡¯s your right to know what you are eating¡¯
01/14. Eating customs questioned

Current Recall Information

Food Safety Mobile Game
U.S. Codex Office "What's New" Page: Updated January 20, 2003
FSIS to Conduct Teaching Workshops on BSE

FSIS Constituent Update/Alert: Updated January 16, 2004
Substances Prohibited From Use in Animal Food or Feed, Animal Proteins Prohibited
Questions and Answers For FSIS Notice 4-04 Regarding FSIS¡¯s BSE Regulations
Substances Affirmed as Generally Recognized as Safe: Menhaden Oil
Interim Guidance For Non-Ambulatory Disabled Cattle and Age Determination
New Regulations That Prohibit Non-Ambulatory Disabled Cattle and the Use of Certain Materials
Using Dentition to Age Cattle
Frequently Asked Questions: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
FSIS Further Strengthens Protections Against Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) page

Current Outbreaks
01/22. Hepatitis A - Russia (Buryatiya)
01/22. Princess cruises ship reports outbreak of intestinal illness
01/22. Cholera kills 10 in Mozambique

01/21. Botulism, fish-related 2003 - Norway, Germany
01/21. Stomach bug hits Open
01/20. Trichinellosis - Turkey
01/20. Botulism Utah
01/20. N.B. medical health officer says source of E. coli infection
01/19. Norovirus outbreak hits CSU extension staff
01/19. Produce-related foodborne illnesses
01/18. Pizza restaurant blamed for food poisoning

01/16. Botulism infection after eating fish in Norway and Germany:
01/16. Salmonella linked to shelter kittens
01/16. Dozens ill after eating at suburban pizzeria [Australia]
01/16. Children of salmonella victim awarded compo
01/16. Melbourne restaurant cleared of salmonella accusations
01/16. Fort Bend E. coli cases confined to animal pen
01/14. Lodge open again after illness was reported
01/14. Woman claims poisoning from meal at Gurnee Chili's

Current New Methods
01/22. Hepatitis A - Russia (Buryatiya)
01/22. Princess cruises ship reports outbreak of intestinal illness
01/22. Cholera kills 10 in Mozambique

01/21. Botulism, fish-related 2003 - Norway, Germany
01/21. Stomach bug hits Open
01/20. Trichinellosis - Turkey
01/20. Botulism Utah
01/20. N.B. medical health officer says source of E. coli infection
01/19. Norovirus outbreak hits CSU extension staff
01/19. Produce-related foodborne illnesses
01/18. Pizza restaurant blamed for food poisoning

01/16. Botulism infection after eating fish in Norway and Germany:
01/16. Salmonella linked to shelter kittens
01/16. Dozens ill after eating at suburban pizzeria [Australia]
01/16. Children of salmonella victim awarded compo
01/16. Melbourne restaurant cleared of salmonella accusations
01/16. Fort Bend E. coli cases confined to animal pen
01/14. Lodge open again after illness was reported
01/14. Woman claims poisoning from meal at Gurnee Chili's

BSE Busters


Researchers are investigating methods of destroying the infective agent of bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

U.S. scientist are employing enzymes, heat, pressure, and caustic solutions to destroy the misshapen protein prion that is believed to cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Joe Wilson, president of Waste Reduction by Waste Reduction Inc., a Indianapolis, Indiana-headquartered waste reduction technology firm, tells MeatNews.com that USDA has been impressed with the results of his companys system. The Waste Reduction by Waste Reduction treats whole carcasses as well as specific risk material ?spinal cords, brains, intestines, and eyes with sodium hydroxide under 60-65 psi of pressure at 300 degrees F. The company sells equipment that will liquefy a 1,500-pound cow in six to eight hours destroying the prion. have tested this with mice and the infectivity of the material was completely destroyed,?Wilson said. The process leaves behind only about 75 pounds of material that can be safely used as fertilizer. Wilson added that because his process is wet, dust possibly contaminated with BSE is suppressed. The only other alternative is incineration at 1,000 degrees but you still have the risk of spreading the prion in the smoke due to cold spots in the incinerator,?he explained. Wilson predicted that within 10 years SRM treatment and disposal systems will be mandated at all processing plants. He added that the disposal systems dont need to be cost centers. The treated material can be burned as fuel or sold as high-quality fertilizer, The explained. The company manufactures systems that can hold up to 10,000 pounds of material, enough to dissolve several carcasses at once. A digestor that size would cost about $1 million. A large meatpacking plant could generate half a million pounds per day of waste material. Wilson estimated that 30 to 40 digestors are in use in the United States, and at least five are on order for veterinary schools and animal diagnostic centers.

In the meantime, researchers at North Carolina State University are working in cooperation with scientists in the Netherlands to develop enzyme systems that tear apart prions.

Initial studies tested the effects of a bacterial enzyme keratinase on brain tissues from cows with BSE and sheep with scrapie. Results showed that, when the tissue was pretreated and in the presence of a detergent, the enzyme fully degraded the prion, rendering it undetectable. The researchers now plan another study to test the effectiveness of the enzyme on the treated BSE prions in mice. The two-year study begins in January 2004 and is funded with $190,000 from the National Cattlemans Beef Association.

Our work has been done in test tubes, and weve reduced the prion to undetectable levels,?Dr. Jason Shih, one of the North Carolina State University researchers, said. Our work with mice will show whether these undetectable levels of prion are indeed non-infectious.?Shih added that future research will test keratinases effectiveness in decontaminating equipment that processes animal products.

Good bacteria may guard against Salmonella

The Washtington Times
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark., Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Arkansas researchers have found several promising intestinal bacteria that may protect poultry from Salmonella and other pathogens. Salmonella, Campylobacter and other pathogens can cause illness in people who eat infected poultry that has not been cooked enough. Pathogens such as Salmonella take hold inside the intestinal tracts of chicken and other birds, however, researchers at Agricultural Research Service in Fayetteville, Ark., and University of Arkansas are getting a better understanding of how probiotics, or live beneficial bacteria, affect the poultry's intestinal tract, Science Daily reported. Probiotics, which can be given orally to poultry, help the birds fight illness and disease by using the concept of competitive exclusion -- probiotics are fed to newly hatched chicks and the probiotics occupy sites in the intestinal tract where the pathogens would normally attach and grow, according to the article in Agricultural Research. Since probiotics are there first, the opportunity for pathogenic bacteria to become established is reduced.



Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham have developed a new DNA-based test that allows for rapid detection of contaminated oysters. Their findings appear in the January 2004 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

One of the leading causes of seafood-related illnesses in the United States, Vibrio vulnificus, is transmitted by consuming raw or poorly cooked oysters. Infection by V. vulnificus can result in gastroenteritis, septicemia and in many cases death. Due to the extreme number of illnesses reported, the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference has intervened requesting that the number of shellfish-related illnesses be reduced by 60 % by the year 2007.

"In the last two years alone, California has experienced sixteen illnesses resulting in ten deaths, despite educational efforts directed at high-risk populations to warn them of the potential hazards of eating raw oysters."

The new test uses polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to test for the presence of V. vulnificus in as little as eight hours. Current methods require up to three days to confirm contamination.

"Rapid and sensitive detection of V. vulnificus would ensure a steady supply of postharvest treated oysters to consumers, which should help decrease the number of illnesses or outbreaks caused by this pathogen."

(G. Panicker, M.L. Myers, A.K. Bej. 2004. Rapid detection of Vibrio vulnificus in shellfish and Gulf of Mexico water by real-time PCR, 70. 1: 498-507.)

Biological weapons sensor detects anthrax in two minutes
A safer and faster way of detecting biological weapons agents has been devised by UK researchers with support from the government's defence research agency.
The optical sensor, developed at UMIST with the help of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, is designed to detect changes in antibodies when they come into contact with samples of deadly bacteria such as anthrax. It can also be used to detect bacteria that can lead to food poisoning.
Existing detection devices based on the use of antibodies tend to have low sensitivity - at least 10 million bacteria cells have to be present in 1ml of sample to produce a detectable signal. But levels as low as 10 cells per millilitre can cause infection, making the devices dangerous to use. The UMIST device can operate with a much smaller sample size, said Dr Mohammed Zourob of the university's department of instrumentation and analytical science, who developed the sensor with Dr Nicholas Goddard.
The device, known as a waveguide, is based on a coating of antibodies chosen to target specific bacteria, on to which a light source is shone. When the antibodies come into contact with these bacteria they attack them, changing the way the sensor surface reflects and absorbs light and allowing the germs to be identified.
The waveguide uses a wider field of light than existing sensors, so it can detect changes across the whole sample while existing systems can monitor only certain areas of the surface.
Unlike existing systems the device also uses ultrasound to direct the way the suspect bacteria are deposited, concentrating the sample on the surface and helping to speed up detection, while allowing the cell numbers to be kept small, said Zourob.
'Previously sensors needed 30 minutes [for detection] but our sensor needs two to three minutes or less.'
The device also analyses the reflected light to detect optical scattering effects and fluorescence, which help indicate the type of bacteria present. Existing devices monitor only basic changes in the optical properties of a sensor's surface, and cannot distinguish between benign and malignant bacteria, leading to false alarms.