orders anti-terror measures for food supply
The president ordered the agencies to plan ways to stabilize the food supply and the economy and to help the nation recover after an attack. And he ordered the agencies to help agribusinesses develop plans to protect themselves.
"We should provide the best protection possible against a successful attack on the United States agriculture and food system, which could have catastrophic health and economic effects," Bush said in the executive order signed last Friday.
No one event, such as the discovery in December of the United States' only known case of mad cow disease, prompted the initiative, White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said. The order is part of a process to protect agriculture and food, an economic sector that the government labeled in February 2003 as critical infrastructure, she said.
The plan calls on the Agriculture Department to develop a National Veterinary Stockpile that would hold enough animal pharmaceuticals "to appropriately respond to the most damaging animal diseases" within 24 hours of an outbreak. This would include such diseases as foot and mouth, which can spread rapidly and make herds unsalable, and anthrax, which can kill people as well as animals, Stump said.
Mad cow disease probably would not be listed under the program because its long incubation time makes it a poor tool for terrorism, Stump said.
The Agriculture Department is working on a national animal identification system that could track infected livestock. The animal ID system set to be phased in for livestock starting in July 2005 would require 48 hours to locate cattle and other animals. Stump said drugs could be made ready at various locations in 24 hours and given to animals once the ID system tells authorities where the animals are.
The executive order says USDA also must create a National Plant Disease Recovery System that could respond within a single growing season to "a high-consequence plant disease" with pest control measures or disease-resistant seed. The paper gave as examples soybean rust and wheat smut. Both are fast-spreading fungal diseases that can devastate crops, and neither is a major threat in the United States.
Under the new plan, the three departments and EPA, working with the CIA and other government organizations, would look for weak spots in the agriculture and food sectors and develop ways to repair them. This would include heightened screening of foods entering the United States. The government already has enlisted customs officials in the Homeland Security Department to help the Food and Drug Administration inspect shipments.
The plan also tells Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman to develop a plan within 120 days to encourage "self-protection for agriculture and food enterprises vulnerable to losses due to terrorism."
Industry officials said their organizations were willing to help.
"We take our responsibility of pointing out vulnerabilities very seriously," said Bryan Dierlam, director of legislative affairs for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
"If there's a threat to our food supply and our way of life on the farm, then farmers definitely would be in favor of taking some measures to protect it," said Mark Gage of Page, North Dakota, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers.
If there is a terror event, the Homeland Security Department would be in overall charge of the agricultural response, Stump said.
The directive also lets Homeland Security take charge of a peacetime outbreak of a major disease that threatens widespread risk to human health or the economy, Stump said. The new plan could allow a faster and more coordinated response, he said.
Responsibility for food safety is scattered among many agencies, and the initiative "crosses over agencies" so the response to both terror and to nonterror disasters would be comprehensive, Buchan said. Cabinet secretaries still would be responsible for their sections of the overall plans, she said.
The initiative could be financed out of $560 million proposed in the administration's fiscal 2005 budget for agriculture and food defense, Buchan said.
CDC: Death not linked to mad cow
and Wire Reports
Doctors determined that a man who died in November while under hospice care suffered from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Coroner Tom Wilson said Tuesday. The disease was listed as the cause of death on the death certificate, he said.
Health officials said the illness kills a few people each year in Alabama, but there has never been any sign of a link with mad cow disease, which has drawn wide attention since the Dec. 23 announcement that a cow in Washington state had tested positive for it.
A variant of CJD is the human form of mad cow disease, but Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta spokesperson Christian Pearson said the government would have been informed if a U.S. case was diagnosed. The CDC was unfamiliar with the Farrow case.
not unheard of for the general public and or the media to confuse the two,?said
Pearson. “I suspect this is probably a misunderstanding.?br>
Officials with the DeKalb County Public Health Department and the area health office covering northeast Alabama said they were unaware of the case. Doctors are not required to report cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob to the state.
WHNT-TV of Huntsville reported that the man was diagnosed with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a designation given cases where the source of the infection was unknown.
Researchers believe there is a connection between mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, and a variation of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal disorder that causes rapid dementia and loss of muscle control.
Sharon Thompson, a nurse with the epidemiology office of the Alabama Department of Public Health in Montgomery, said four to five people die each year in Alabama of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
None of those deaths have been from the variant of the disease sometimes linked to mad cow disease, she said. “There are cases of it that occur naturally,?said Thompson.
one person in 1 million died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob annually in the United States
from 1979 through 1994, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention in Atlanta.
Fighting terrorism on the food front
- 04/02/2004 - Safeguarding America food supply against possible terrorist threats will eat into a considerable chunk of the USDA budget next year. The country is also planning to stockpile animal vaccines, following concerns that diseases such as BSE and Avian Influenza could be used in acts of bioterrorism.
of the 2005 budget for US department of agriculture (USDA) programmes, which include
increased funding to secure the safety of the country food supply were revealed
yesterday. The FY 2005 budget calls for $82 billion in spending, an increase of
$4 billion, or about 5 per cent above levels for FY 2004.
The administration has directed the USDA to develop a national plant disease recovery system, capable of responding quickly to a major crop disease with pest control measures and resistant seed varieties. To this end, the USDA budget for FY 2005 includes $381 million for a Food and Agriculture Defence Initiative to enhance monitoring and surveillance of pests and diseases in plants and animals, conduct research on emerging animal diseases and establish a system to track select disease agents of plants.
In addition, President Bush has earmarked $7 million for the development of a national stockpile of animal vaccines to protect the livestock and poultry industries in case of a terrorist attack. A current stockpile run by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service was funded this year with less than $1 million. P> Reuters reports that Jeremy Stump, USDA homeland security director, said the government recognised that the US agriculture sector was a potential target for a deliberate attack.
Under the directive, the USDA will store emergency supplies of vaccines to prevent the spread of highly contagious viruses like foot-and-mouth, highly pathogenic avian influenza and exotic Newcastle. The directive comes as the USDA continues its investigation into the first US case of mad cow disease, and international health officials try to contain a deadly outbreak of bird flu in Asia.
agriculture budget provides funds to protect America food supply and agriculture
systems, improve nutrition and health, conserve and enhance our natural resources
and enhance economic opportunities for agricultural producers,?said agriculture
secretary Ann Veneman.
budget targets industry for new FSIS inspection user fees
advisory committee on microbiological criteria to hold public meeting in Atlanta
No consensus on GMOs
Belgian ministers rejected an application from biotech company Bayer CropScience to grow genetically modified (GM) oilseed rape commercially throughout Europe after research from a recent report in the UK ?the Farm Scale Evaluations (FSE) - showed that growing the crop could harm the environment.German-based Bayer CropScience had applied through Belgium for a Europe-wide licence to grow and import the GM oilseed rape. Belgian ministers have forwarded the application to all member states for a joint decision. In contrast, speaking at a meeting with consumer organisations this week EU Commissioner for health and consumer protection David Byrne said that authorisation for biotech sweetcorn ?Bt-11 from Swiss firm Syngenta - could be made a couple of weeks after 15 April, referring to the exact date when the new rules on GMO labelling would apply.
The imminent rules were created in order provide consumers with the choice between GM and non-GM products on supermarket shelves and their entry will likely mark the end of the unofficial ban on biotech foods and crops in place in Europe since 1998. Despite the tighter labelling rules Europe remains divided on the issue with member states yet to be convinced about the full benefits of GMO crops and foodstuffs. The Belgian decision this week to block any approval process for Bayers oilseed rape is one such example.
Ministers from the EU member states at the European Council are due to take a decision in the next three months on the import of Syngentas genetically modified sweetcorn. If they fail to reach a conclusion, the Commission could allow imports of the GM maize variety under its own initiative.
Food Safety Informaiton
FLOW DIAGRAM FOR LISTERIA ONE HOUR TEST
Hour Test for Listeria
Breakthrough in fighting food pathogens
- 03/02/2004 - A previously unidentified protein on the surface of intestinal cells has given researchers in the US clues on how to prevent disease. The scientists believe their results could eventually lead the way to preventing food-borne Listeria monocytogenes infection, which has a 20 per cent fatality rate.
research reveals a detailed mechanism that allows interaction of Listeria with
a cell-surface protein, or receptor, on intestinal cells," said microbiologist
Arun Bhunia. "Knowing the entryway into the cell will allow us in the future
to develop a method to prevent that interaction."
The research team placed a Listeria protein known to bind with human host cells in a laboratory dish with human intestinal cells. They found that the bacteria's ligand bound with an intestinal cell surface protein, which they identified as heat shock protein 60 (Hsp60). Heat shock proteins are found in most cells. They are called chaperone proteins because they help other proteins stay organised when cells face any type of stress. Until recently, it was believed these proteins were only found in the mitochondria, the cells' engines.
Now that researchers know that these proteins also are found on cell surfaces and act as receptors, they will begin investigating how to control the infection process. The scientists used an anti-Hsp60 antibody, a built-in disease-fighting antibody that reduced Listeria's ability to bind with intestinal cells by 74 per cent.
"If interaction of these two molecules is the beginning of the infection's intestinal phase pathway that leads to illness, then we need to block them," Bhunia said. "Our focus now is to determine when and under what conditions the bacterium moves from intestinal cells into the system.
"If we understand the mechanism of how bacteria interacts with cells before causing damage and producing systemic illness, this may allow us to formulate a vaccination strategy to prevent the infection."
Listeria is responsible for about 2,500 recorded food-borne illnesses annually in the United States and is the deadliest food-borne disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study of the bacteria, conducted by researchers at Purdue University, was published in the February issue of the journal Infection and Immunity.
revises detection methods for select SRMs
source from: http://www.meatami.com/
The Office of Public Health and Science, a division of the Food Safety and Inspection Service, has issued a revision to the FSIS Pathology Laboratory Guidebook (PLG 0001.01), regarding detection methods for select specified risk materials (SRMs).
The revised method, entitled, "Detection of Central Nervous System Tissue and Dorsal Root Ganglia in Beef and Central Nervous System Tissue in Pork Comminuted Meat Products by Histologic Examination of Hematoxylin and Eosin Stained Slides and Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein Immunohistochemistry", was made effective Jan. 30.
The detection method has been enhanced to detect porcine, as well as bovine, central nervous system (CNS) tissue and has also been extended to include the identification of bovine dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and sensory ganglia as violative materials.
SRMs are defined by USDA as brain, skull, eyes, vertebral column, spinal cord and DRGs of cattle 30 months of age or older, as well as the small intestine of all cattle.
This procedure describes the use of histologic examination of H&E stained tissue slides and Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP) immunohistochemistry to identify CNS tissue and DRG/sensory ganglia (SG) tissue in beef and to identify CNS tissue in pork comminuted meat products. CNS tissue includes both brain and spinal cord; SG tissue includes trigeminal ganglia and other SGs. Of these, only DRGs and trigeminal ganglia are considered violative tissues by FSIS.
For regulatory purposes, however, if SG fragments are identified, they will be designated as DRG/SG and considered violative.
worry about mad cow disease, worry about your sponge
When mad cow disease was discovered in Washington state recently, it made headlines for days and brought action from the federal government. Coupled with a number of E. coli scares, it caused some Americans to swear off hamburger.
But most people don't seem to worry about what experts say is a petri dish for food-borne illness: the home kitchen.
"Everybody is so acutely aware of mad cow disease," said Janet Anderson, a clinical associate professor of nutrition and food sciences at Utah State University, "but people aren't aware of the fact that they don't even wash their hands when they enter their kitchens, which is a much greater risk."
Anderson filmed more than 100 people preparing dinner and found that only two did not cross-contaminate raw meat with fresh vegetables.
It is not only people's hands, though. Dish towels, sinks, refrigerator door handles and warm, moist, crevice-filled sponges are also breeding grounds for bacteria.
"A sponge that's been in use for no more than two or three days in a kitchen will harbour millions of bacteria," said Elizabeth Scott, co-director of the Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health in the Home at Simmons College in Boston. "That means that any time you use the sponge to wipe up a surface you are potentially spreading those pathogens."
Pathogens such as E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter are a potential problem mainly for infants, the elderly ill and people with compromised immune systems. But when allowed to multiply on food, they can make the average person sick.
"The basic reality is that the risks that scare people and the risks that kill people are very different," said Dr. Peter M. Sandman, a risk communication consultant in Princeton, N.J.
"Risks that you control are much less a source of outrage than risks that are out of your control," Sandman said. "In the case of mad cow, it feels like it's beyond my control. I can't tell if my meat has prions in it or not. I can't see it, I can't smell it. Whereas dirt in my own kitchen is very much in my own control. I can clean my sponges. I can clean the floor."
Dread is another factor, Sandman said. People can deal with sick stomachs, but they absolutely dread the idea of rotting brains.
Fair enough, except that many of the estimated 76 million cases of food-borne illnesses in the U.S. each year are contracted in the home, and many can be prevented.
Dean Cliver, a professor of food safety at the University of California, Davis, found that microwaving sponges - cellulose ones, not the natural kind - wipes out harmful bacteria. "We did soak sponges in some pretty bad things," he said, "and one minute in the nuke and that pretty much did it."
Dishcloths also become saturated with bacteria, although since they dry more quickly than sponges, bacteria are less likely to breed. They can be microwaved, too, or simply laundered regularly.
Cliver's other notable discovery involved cutting boards. "Somewhere along the line," he said, "wood got a bad name."
Part of the blame, Cliver said, must go to the rubber industry, which assailed wood cutting boards in order to promote hard rubber and plastic. In recent years, it has become conventional wisdom that plastic cutting boards are safer and easier to clean than wood cutting boards. Even the Food and Drug Administration says that plastic is less likely to harbour bacteria and easier to clean.
In a study, however, Cliver found that cellulose in wood absorbs bacteria but will not release it. "We've never been able to get the bacteria down in the wood back up on the knife to contaminate food later," he said.
Plastic absorbs bacteria in a different way. "When a knife cuts into the plastic surface, little cracks radiate out from the cut," Cliver said. The bacteria, he said, "seem to get down in those knife cuts and they hang out. They go dormant. Drying will kill, say, 90 per cent of them, but the rest could hang around for weeks."
In one test, raw chicken juices were spread on samples of used wood and plastic cutting boards. Both boards were washed in hot soapy water and dried, then knives were used to simulate cutting vegetables for a salad. No bacteria appeared on the knives that cut on wood, but there were plenty on the knives used on a plastic board.
Cliver found that running plastic boards through the dishwasher only spread the bacteria around. The bacteria in the cracks remained. He said that the water in dishwashers must get hotter than 140 degrees or all sorts of bacteria can survive.
Wood cutting boards may be microwaved for five minutes, but Cliver warned that some wood cutting boards contain metal pieces within. He added, "Some people who tried their boards in the microwave had some spectacular fireworks."
Even with clean sponges and cutting boards, no one's kitchen will ever be germ-free because the food supply is not sterile. In 1998, Consumer Reports found that 71 per cent of American store-bought chicken contained harmful bacteria.
Most bacteria in food can be killed if the food is cooked properly. But much of the harm happens before the food gets near the oven.
In an experiment, Anderson of Utah State and her colleagues covered a chicken with a product called Glo Germ, which is visible under ultraviolet light. The chicken was given to a home cook, who was asked to prepare it. By the time the chicken was done, Anderson said, the light revealed chicken juices everywhere - on the counter, in the sink, on cabinet handles, even on the sippy cup of the cook's two-year-old child.
Chuck Gerba, a professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona who has studied bacteria in home kitchens, said he found that people with the cleanest-looking kitchens were often the dirtiest. Because "clean" people wipe up so much, they often end up spreading bacteria all over the place. The cleanest kitchens, he said, were in the homes of bachelors, who never wiped up and just put their dirty dishes in the sink.
The biggest obstacle seems to be simply getting people to wash their hands. Anderson found that only 34 per cent of her subjects washed their hands before cooking, and most failed to use soap. Washing hands in hot soapy water for at least 20 seconds rinses off surface bacteria and makes it difficult for bacteria to cling to skin.
The less bacteria that you pick up, the less likely you will fall ill. Getting people to change their habits, however, is a big mountain to climb.
The truth is, as Sandman pointed out, bacteria in the home kitchen is simply not mysterious or weird enough. To respond to it, you have to do something very banal: wash your hands. And that's just not as compelling as taking a dramatic stand and halting beef consumption in the face of a brain-rotting disease.
is sterile, but certain steps can help cut back on bacteria.
- Regularly launder dish towels.
- Make sure tap water (and thus, the dishwasher) can exceed 60 C.
- Prepare raw meats and vegetables on separate work surfaces.
- Wash your hands before cooking, and as often as you can while cooking - especially if you pet the dog.
- Wash the meat thermometer after each use.
- Wash refrigerator door handles, cabinet knobs and work surfaces.
- Fill the sink with hot soapy water and drop in utensils after using them. Change the water often.
- Fully disassemble your blender before putting it in the dishwasher.
- Use a pipe brush and hot soapy water to clean under processor blades, even if you put them in the dishwasher.
- Wash the sink's drain plug and scrub the sink before washing produce in it.
million sought for new mad-cow programs
PHOENIX - The Bush administration will ask Congress for $60 million to fund a national cattle identification system and other mad cow-related programs, the agriculture secretary said today.
The request for the 2005 fiscal year is $47 million more than the current year's funding and would pay to help develop a national ID system, increased surveillance, research and development and faster responses to complaints, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's convention.
Since the discovery of a cow infected with mad cow in Washington state, consumer confidence in U.S. beef has remained strong and prices are bouncing back from the initial 15 percent to 20 percent decline, said Veneman.
About 3,900 cattle producers are attending the national association meeting in Phoenix, which began Wednesday and runs through Saturday.
Outbreaks Linked with Daycare Centers