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Bush orders anti-terror measures for food supply

Wednesday, February 4, 2004 Posted: 10:16 AM EST (1516 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush has ordered three Cabinet departments and the Environmental Protection Agency to develop new procedures to protect the nation's food supply from terror attack. An executive order released Tuesday involved the departments of agriculture, health and human services and homeland security, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, in the response to potentially calamitous agricultural terrorism.
"It's from farm to fork," said Jeremy Stump, USDA's director of homeland security. "It's a protective shield around the whole sector."
The directive calls for creation of systems to contain any outbreaks of plant or animal disease that result from terror attack, and to prevent or cure the diseases themselves.

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

Staff and Wire Reports
The Times-Journal
Published February 04, 2004
A DeKalb County resident who died last year was diagnosed with a form of a rare illness sometimes linked to mad cow disease, but it was unclear how he got the infection.

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.

“It’s 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>
Wilson declined further comment and referred questions to New Beacon Hospice, which cared for the victim in DeKalb County. Mary Colley of New Beacon refused comment, citing patient confidentiality laws.

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.

About 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.

Details 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.
Safeguarding America food supply is a central feature of the programme. The budget provides funding for an interagency initiative to improve the government capability to rapidly identify and characterise a bioterriorist attack, and improve surveillance capabilities in human health, food, agriculture and environmental monitoring.

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.

The 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.

USDA budget targets industry for new FSIS inspection user fees
February 2, 2004
Meat AMI
Proposal includes additional $47 million in BSE-related initiatives for fiscal
Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture officially released its fiscal year 2005 budget proposal, which would increase Food Safety and Inspection Service funding by $61 million to $952 million, according to a USDA news release.
However, the proposed budget also includes "a continuation of existing user fees, as well as new fees for inspection services provided beyond an approved inspection shift," according to the department. That translates to about $124 million in new FSIS "user fees" for meat, poultry and egg inspection services beyond one approved eight-hour shift, along with $24 million in Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyard Administration licensing fees to cover "administering meat packers and stockyards activities."
The USDA budget proposal would provide $82 billion in spending, a $4 billion (five percent) increase for the department from the previous fiscal year. However, discretionary spending, which covers annual appropriations for FSIS inspection, GIPSA and other agencies, would be reduced to $20.8 billion, which is $720 million (three percent) less than fiscal year 2004.
Specifically, the USDA fiscal 2005 budget items of interest to the meat and livestock industry include the following:
?$952 million for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (an estimated increase of $61 million versus fiscal 2004) to support FSIS activities and fund about 7,690 meat, poultry and egg inspectors.
?Charging federally inspected meat, poultry and egg companies $124 million in new user fees for the cost of providing inspection services beyond one approved eight-hour shift. The new "tax" would be in addition to $110 million in fees collected annually from companies for overtime, holiday or voluntary inspection services. As a result, one-quarter of total FSIS funding (about $234 million) would be paid by “user fee?taxes.
?$24 million in license fees?charged by GIPSA to be paid by “packers, live poultry dealers, poultry processors, stockyard owners, market agencies, dealers and swine contractors, as defined under the Packers and Stockyards Act.?The fees would be used to fund GIPSAs $24 million in salaries and expenses to oversee Packers and Stockyards Programs, meaning license fees would fund 100 percent of GIPSAs PSA oversight.
The budget also contains $60 million -- including $47 million in new spending -- to fund multi-agency efforts to enhance USDAs bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) prevention activities, increased testing, monitoring and surveillance. The $60 million total includes:
?$33 million to further accelerate the development of a national animal identification system
?$17 million for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to collect 40,000 samples at rendering plants and on farms to test for BSE ?$5 million for the Agricultural Research Service to conduct advanced research and development of BSE testing technologies ?$4 million for FSIS to conduct monitoring and surveillance of regulatory compliance for new rules on specified risk materials and advanced meat recovery
?$1 million for GIPSA to dispatch rapid response teams to markets experiencing BSE-related complaints regarding contracts or lack of prompt payment
USDAs proposal is one component of the Bush administrations overall federal budget proposal to Congress, which is required to approve or modify the federal budget. Both of the current proposals for user fees and license fees require new statutory authority and would need separate congressional approval.

National advisory committee on microbiological criteria to hold public meeting in Atlanta
February 2, 2004
Meat AMI
The National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) will hold a public meeting on Feb. 13, according to a news release from the Food Safety and Inspection Service.
The full committee will discuss performance standards for broilers (young chickens) and ground chicken, the scientific basis for establishing safety-based "use by" date labels for refrigerated ready-to-eat foods and scientific criteria for redefining pasteurization. The full committee will meet from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
All meetings are open to the public and will be held at the Sheraton Buckhead hotel in Atlanta. A meeting agenda is available at
Four NACMCF subcommittees will also meet prior to the full committee meeting on Feb. 13, including:
?On Feb. 10, the Microbiological Performance Standards for Broilers/Ground Chicken subcommittee will meet from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ??On Feb. 11, the Criteria for Refrigerated Shelf-Life Based on Safety subcommittee will meet from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Feb. 12 from 1 to 5 p.m.
?On Feb. 12, the Scientific Criteria for Redefining Pasteurization subcommittee will meet from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
The NACMPF was established in 1988 to provide scientific advice and recommendations to the secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services on public health issues related to the safety and wholesomeness of the U.S. food supply, including development of microbiological criteria and review and evaluation of epidemiological and risk assessment data and methodologies for assessing microbiological hazards in foods. The committee also provides advice to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Departments of Commerce and Defense.
Written comments related to the meeting agenda should be submitted to:
FSIS Docket Room
Docket #03-049N
USDA Room 102
Cotton Annex Building
300 12th St. SW
Washington, DC 20250
Comments may also be sent by fax to (202) 205-0381.
The comments and official transcript of the Feb. 13 full committee meeting will be posted at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPHS/NACMCF/transcripts

No consensus on GMOs

- 04/02/2004 - Demonstrating the clear divisions that exist between member states and the European Commission over genetically modified foodstuffs, in the same week that Belgian ministers threw out an application for an oilseed rape, the EUs food safety chief predicts that GM sweetcorn could be in the European can within months.

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.

Current Food Safety Informaiton
02/04. Inspection changes supported: The European Union¡¯s CLITRAVI
02/04. Lakeland, Fla., Food Technology Services' stock soars after
02/04. BSE test results on Calmar cattle expected this week
02/04. Slaughterhouse Worker Testifies On Mad Cow
02/04. Brucellosis Worries Wyo. Cattle Ranchers
02/04. CANADA: Use Of Cow's Blood In Feed To Continue Despite US BS
02/04. 20 Oregon Dairy Cattle Tested, Found Free Of BSE
02/04. WORLD: OIE proposes changes to BSE status categories
02/04. FRANCE: OIE warns of atypical BSE and scrapie cases in Franc
02/04. Poultry litter banned from cattle feed
02/04. CDC: Death not linked to mad cow
02/04. High-Glycemic Foods Linked to Colon Cancer
02/04. Over-50s rip into food industry for difficult wrapping
02/04. Tracking Pork Products
02/04. COOL for Poultry
02/04. International panel's review of U.S. BSE case out today
02/04. National Beef picks Cross to lead food safety and government
02/04. Thai poultry ban prolonged
02/04. Industry¡¯s BSE Briefing sends clear message: ¡®Restore beef t
02/04. Idaho cows test negative for mad cow
02/04. Mad cow debate a coup for MPs
02/04. USDA sees "very low" prevalence of mad cow in USDA -
02/04. Mad Cow Panel Urges Stricter Ban on U.S. Animal Feed
02/04. USDA: Human Health Risk Small Even if More Mad Cow
02/04. Livestock Congress to Offer BSE Summit
02/04. International panel says BSE is a North American issue
02/04. Toxic drinking water detected on subs [Australia]
02/04. Ohio may tighten bottled water rules
02/04. Cough? Upset tummy? The city knows
02/04. Genesis Juice Co-op to call it quits
02/04. Bottled vs. Tap: Do you know what you're drinking?
02/04. Irradiated herbal supplements still on sale in Ireland
02/04. Expert Panel Sees More U.S. Mad Cow
02/04. Fighting terrorism on the food front
02/04. Supply chain in demand
02/04. Bush orders anti-terror measures for food supply
02/04. PA State Showmen's Association Prepares Members
02/04. Three new FP6 projects set to improve food quality and safet
02/04. Ricin, Made From Common Castor Beans, Can Be Lethal but Has

02/03. USDA budget targets industry for new FSIS inspection user fe
02/03. AMI statement: USDA's proposed user fees for meat and poultr
02/03. FDA's budget proposal for FY 2005 requests increase for food
02/03. President requests budgetary increase: Greater food defense
02/03. National advisory committee on microbiological criteria to h
02/03. Issues headlining the 6TH Annual Food Safety Summit
02/03. CJD (New Var.) - UK: Update 2004
02/03. FSIS notice 10-04
02/03. To the point: Mad cow has confidence stirred, but not shaken
02/03. Mad cow loopholes
02/03. Canada looking at ban on slaughtering sick cattle
02/03. PM's science plan is having technical difficulties
02/03. Tons of old pork ribs sold as fresh, state files indicate
02/03. Cooking Reminder
02/03. IPE wrap-up: Biosecurity a rising concern for poultry proces
02/03. New poll says Americans don't fret BSE
02/03. Survey: Most South Koreans deem U.S. beef 'unsafe'
02/03. No consensus on GMOs
02/03. New study shows BSE case has Americans' confidence 'stirred, but not shaken'
02/03. 3 more cattle killed in mad cow investigation
02/03. Control and prevention of mad cow disease to be established [Serbia]
02/03. Man Who Killed the Mad Cow Has Questions of His Own
02/03. New case of mad cow disease in Portugal's Azores islands
02/03. International Panel Reports on Mad Cow
02/03. Far From the Maddened Cow
02/03. German Beef Sold Without BSE Test
02/03. Restaurant operators had a confusing day
02/03. NAFDAC Declares Pure Water Unsafe [Nigeria]
02/03. Restaurant owner fined nearly ¡Ì10k
02/03. USDA aims fight against terrorism at food safety
02/03. BSE concerns on the wane
02/03. Food safety tips
02/03. Hygiene hell at take-away
02/03. Food Standards Agency Scotland Offers ¡Ì70,000 To Scottish Fo

02/02. Irradiated Ground Beef Featured at Pennsylvania Farm Show
02/02. National Center for Electron Beam Food Research Offering Int
02/02. Jean Barton Serves Irradiated Ground Beef at Pennsylvania Fa
02/02. SureBeam Failure Expected To Have Short-Term Effect
02/02. FDA Names David W.K. Acheson, M.D., Director of the Food Safety and Security Staff
02/02. Image Of Stumbling Holstein Irks US Cattle Industry
02/02. Prolonged U.S. Beef Ban Feared After Talks Fail
02/02. 205 Cows Killed Show No Infection
02/02. BSE, atypical - France: OIE
02/02. New Hampshire repeals food safety education rule
02/02. Global Forum of Food Safety Regulators 2 ¡°Building effective
02/02. Asia and Pacific Conference on Food Safety ¡°Practical Approa
02/02. Codex Committee on Food Hygiene
02/02. Codex Food Additives and Contaminants

02/01. 4th Asian Food & Nutrition Safety Conference
02/01. Codex Committee on meat hygiene
02/01. One sick cow is a food story
02/01. Food inspection results as smiley faces now online
02/01. Bird flu 'no threat to SA'
02/01. Acheson named Director of Food Safety and Security
02/01. USDA issues health alert on preparing ground beef
02/01. National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria to h
02/01. FSIS issues two new BSE-related notices

01/31. Probiotics, dead or alive, can relieve gut disease
01/31. U.S. officials find another cow from Canadian herd with infe
01/31. Purdue: BSE tests for all overkill
01/31. Scientists Study Disease-Resistant Elk
01/31. Monterey County Warns Of Homemade Cheese
01/31. Import risks lurk on United States buffet of plenty
01/31. Salmonella cases prompt advisory

01/30. Your dangerous kitchen
01/30. Clues found in listeria battle
01/30. Mad cow case reveals food safety system flaws
01/30. The race to trace food disease
01/30. No improvement in pesticide residues
01/30. EU sees GM import soon, Belgium bans rapeseed crop
01/30. Bush Wants $441 Millions for Mad Cow, Food Safety

01/29. Agency publishes fourth Consumer Attitudes Survey
01/29. USDA BSE Update
01/29. Pistachio growers try to keep next scare from being nutty
01/29. FSIS BSE workshops
01/29. Officials address Japan's BSE concerns
01/29. FSIS notice 9-04, Agency verification of establishments' SRM
01/29. FACT responds to FDA on mad cow
01/29. Bush 2005 budget includes increased spending on BSE
01/29. Canadian troops might destroy U.S. beef
01/29. EU eases testing on Brazilian poultry
01/29. FSIS to host BSE workshops for small plant operators
01/29. $60 million sought for new mad-cow programs
01/29. Beef dumped, bison new favourite
01/29. Mad-cow-scared Americans eating buffalo -
01/29. The rest of the Botox story: therapy for many diseases
01/29. Parent's Tip - Honey and newborns -
01/29. Safety A Serious Matter for Pennsylvania Restaurateurs, Regu
01/29. Tighter U.S. beef regulations still too lax for comfort
01/29. People are 'fully protected'
01/29. Mad Cow Disease Raises Safety Issues Beyond the Kitchen

01/28. Salmon: To eat it or not - Commentary
01/28. Burger giant may limit Canadian beef
01/28. Canada won't ban cow blood in feed
01/28. Tips: Wiping up may not be enough
01/28. Squeaky clean? Not even close
01/28. New CAST paper examines food safety strategies
01/28. Cow Chips -
01/28. December restaurant closures
01/28. Officials weigh grading system for restaurants
01/28. Non-meat food poisonings
01/28. Cattle futures-Investigation
01/28. Biotech wheat pits farmer vs. farmer
01/28. Canadian DNA to Fingerprint Pork from Farm to Table
01/28. [Korea] Keep the ban on U.S. beef
01/28. Beef, it's what's for pondering
01/28. New FDA rules on feed win praise from AMI, Harkin
01/28. Kentucky Fried Fish hits Vietnam
01/28. Officials Quarantine Three Cows for Mad Cow Testing
01/28. Blood Transfusion Suspected in New Mad Cow Case in Britain
01/28. U.S. Mad Cow Safeguards Hit Ethnic Delicacies
01/28. Poland finds 10th case of mad cow disease
01/28. Democrats Seek Animal ID Plan for Mad Cow
01/28. So far, no evidence links mad-cow to milk supply
01/28. Test All Cattle to Be Safe from Mad Cow -Nobelist
01/28. Veneman Announces Top ARS Scientists for 2003
01/28. Will S.F. schools feed your children radiation-zapped beef?
01/28. Concern over public perceptions of bird 'flu'
01/28. FSA calls for industry code on sprouted seeds

Current Recall Information

JSR America, Inc.; Withdrawal of Food Additive Petition
FDA Names David W.K. Acheson, M.D., Director of the Food Safety and Security Staff
President Requests Budgetary Increase, Greater Food Defense Role for FDA in FY 2005
FDA's Budget Proposal for FY 2005 Requests Increase for Food Safety

Registration of Food Facility Database Information Verification
36th Session of the Codex Committee on Food Additives and Contaminants
Codex Alimentarius Commission: Sixth Session of the Codex Committee on Milk and Milk
Twenty-sixth Session of the Codex Committee on Methods of Analysis and Sampling
Thirty-sixth Session of the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene
Currently Approved Information Collection (Procedures for Notification of New Technology)
Notice of Request for Extension and Revision of a Currently Approved Information Collection
Statement by Dr. Garry L. McKee on GAO Report on Humane Methods of Slaughter Act
FSIS Unveils New Humane Activities Tracking System
Public Meeting To Address Codex Committee On Milk And Milk Products

Public Meeting To Address Codex Committee On Food Hygiene
Public Meeting To Address Codex Committee On Analysis And Sampling
Public Meeting To Address Codex Committee On Food Additives
President¡¯s Agriculture Budget Proposes Increased Funding To Protect The Nation¡¯s Food
Prior Notice of Imported Food Under the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness
Prior Notice of Imported Food Under the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness
National Advisory Committee On Microbiological Criteria For Foods To Hold Public Meeting
U.S. Codex Office "What's New" Page: Updated February 2, 2004
OPPD (Policy) What's New Page: Updated February 2, 2004
USDA BSE Update, January 30, 2004

Current Outbreaks
02/04. Food poisoning strikes down more than 100 workers in Vietnam
02/03. Shigella Outbreaks Linked with Daycare Centers
02/03. 2 in Suffolk Sickened From Salmonella
02/03. Salmonella Cases Reported
02/02. Carnegie Mellon students become ill
02/01. USDA Issues Salmonella Warning
01/29. More test results due today in illness
01/29. 38 die after eating leftover pork
01/29. Food poisoning may have caused deaths
01/28. Mozambique Cholera Outbreak Infects 2,900

Current New Methods
02/04. Air Products Makes Strategic Investment in Sterilox Technolo
02/03. Breakthrough in fighting food pathogens
02/02. FSIS revises detection methods for select SRMs
02/01. Simultaneous detection of E.coli and coliforms in Food and W
01/31. Oxoid Rapid Serum Test for E. coli O157 - FREE TEST KITS now
01/30. PDX 24 - The 24 Hour Test for Listeria in Environmental Samp
01/29 One Hour Test for Listeria
01/29 BOC Aqueous Ozone Technology Validated for Controlling Listeria
01/28. Researchers scrambling to develop rapid BSE test
01/28. Local company developing minute test for detecting CWD, mad cow disease
01/28. A leap forward for traceability technology
01/28. New detector promises safer processing


One Hour Test for Listeria
One Hour Test for Listeria in the Food Processing Environment
Faster, more selective, sensitive and inexpensive than any available Listeria test.
No pre-enrichment is required due to the high analytical sensitivity of this chemiluminescent system. Results are available within one hour of the time the sample arrives in the laboratory or testing area. The test has been shown to be sensitive to as few as 10 CFU/mL. Data are available to support the claim for zero false negative results. An inexpensive handheld luminometer is required to read the results. The test includes a self contained sampling swab and transport media that is easy to use, requires no gloves nor whirl bags.

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.

"This 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."
Bacteria have proteins, called ligands, which bind with a protein molecule, or receptor, on cells in the body, which is like placing a key in a lock. This interaction opens the door that leads to a complicated series of biochemical reactions. These reactions allow the pathogen to enter cells, in this case in the intestine, and then move on into the liver, spleen, brain or placenta, causing illness and possibly death.

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.

FSIS revises detection methods for select SRMs
January 30, 2004

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.

Your dangerous kitchen
The Halifax Herald Limited
Sunday, February 1, 2004

Don't worry about mad cow disease, worry about your sponge
By Amanda Hesser / The New York Times

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.


No kitchen is sterile, but certain steps can help cut back on bacteria.
- Microwave sponges and dishcloths on high for at least one minute.

- 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.

$60 million sought for new mad-cow programs
By Michelle Rushlo
The Associated Press


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.

The ban on U.S. beef in dozens of export countries remains a problem. However, "restoring our export markets has been a top priority," said Veneman, who noted that U.S. officials have been holding aggressive talks with Japan and Mexico.

About 3,900 cattle producers are attending the national association meeting in Phoenix, which began Wednesday and runs through Saturday.

Shigella Outbreaks Linked with Daycare Centers
Yahoo! News Tue, Feb 03, 2004

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Between 2001 and 2003, six states experienced between 5 and 40 times the normal number of dysentery cases caused by the Shigella bacillus, public health officials report. The prolonged outbreaks tended to start in daycare settings, and then spread from there throughout the communities. More than 3000 laboratory-confirmed cases of diarrhea caused by Shigella sonnei were reported through the Public Health Laboratory Information System during the epidemic, Dr. Marci Drees and colleagues report in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web sites).In Maryland, the number of cases was 10-fold higher than in previous years, while in New Jersey, the there was a 40-fold increase in cases. States tend to have cyclical outbreaks every few years, Drees told Reuters Health. "This was the largest outbreak seen in Delaware in 20 years," added Drees, who is with the CDC and is stationed at the Delaware Department of Health. The patients' median age ranged from 4 to 7 years, but the oldest patient was 101 years old. "Most cases are self-limited and will get better regardless," Drees pointed out. However, children can continue to shed the bacillus for up to a month, so antibiotic treatment is often recommended to decrease this length of time. Control measures include notification of daycare providers, parents and the medical community, and diligent hand-washing. "If possible, the staff that change diapers should not be preparing food," Drees added. "It only takes a small number of bacteria to give the disease to another," she explained. "It's not that people are being obviously messy or dirty, either. The standard of hygiene to prevent disease spread is so high that it's hard for anyone to maintain it 100 percent of the time." Most health departments do not allow children to return to daycare until two negative stool cultures are documented. However, not allowing children to return to daycare can backfire, the authors point out, since parents may place their children in alternative childcare settings. Another option is to keep infected children who don't have symptoms in daycare, but apart from uninfected kids. SOURCE: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, January 30, 2004.