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NFPA Symposium
Prion Inactivation: Current Technology and Future Research Works needs Symposium.

April 1. 2004.
Washington DC.
Click here for more information


USDA approves rapid BSE test

by Brendan O'Neill on 3/19/04 for Meatingplace.com

Days after the Agriculture Department announced an enhanced bovine spongiform encephalopathy testing program, the USDA approved a rapid-results test which may be used on as many as 400,000 animals over the next 12 to 18 months.

Hercules, Calif.-based Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. announced USDA's approval of its TeSeE rapid test Thursday. The test will be licensed by the USDA for use by the National Veterinary Service Laboratories and all the NVSL network laboratories as part of the new BSE testing program, according to the company.

"We are pleased that our test has met the stringent requirements of the USDA qualification process," said Brad Crutchfield, Bio-Rad's vice president of life science. "Bio-Rad has extensive experience working with more than 500 labs in 25 countries around the world that screen for BSE. We are well prepared to provide the USDA with the same high level of support that our other customers receive."

The test, already is use in Japan and Europe, detects the presence of the resistant form of prion protein, or PrPres, linked to BSE and can identify these prions at extremely low levels. The TeSeE test can be used in mass screening programs and produces results in just four hours.

Canada Identifies Possible Source Of Mad-Cow Cases

Canadian investigators have identified 68 British cattle that died or were slaughtered in Canada more than 10 years ago as the probable source of recent cases of mad-cow disease in North America -- a conclusion that leaves open the possibility that more cases may be lurking in Canada or the U.S.

George Luterbach, a Canadian government veterinarian, said the cattle were among 192 animals that Canada imported from Britain between 1980 and 1989, before such imports were halted because of the mad-cow crisis in the U.K. In 1993, after one of the British imports was diagnosed with mad-cow disease, otherwise known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency removed all British cattle from the Canadian herd. However, officials weren't able to locate 68 animals, most likely because they already had been slaughtered, Dr. Luterbach said. Some of their remains may have been processed into cattle feed in Canada, he added.

Late Friday, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency released a summary of its investigation into the U.S. mad-cow case discovered last December in Washington state. The investigating team, including Dr. Luterbach, concluded that the infected U.S. dairy cow and a Canadian beef cow diagnosed with BSE in May most likely contracted mad-cow disease by eating contaminated feed from two Canadian feed mills during the first six months of their lives. Earlier, the infected cows had each been traced to separate birth farms in western Canada, one in Alberta and one in Saskatchewan. A different regional food mill supplied cattle feed to each farm, Dr. Luterbach said.

He said it isn't appropriate to draw conclusions about the scope of Canada's mad-cow problem from these findings, because there are other ways in which the two infected North American cows may have contracted BSE, a fatal brain-wasting disease that can be transmitted to humans who eat contaminated beef as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. For instance, later on they could have eaten contaminated feed meant for pigs or chickens.

Nonetheless, the Canadian investigators' conclusion that two separate feed mills may have been instrumental in spreading BSE in North America is significant, because it means that remains from one or more infected British cattle may have found their way into a number of feed mills in Canada. The disease may just now be surfacing in cattle that ate contaminated feed early in 1997 before a feed ban was implemented. 3-22-04

BSE Best Practices


U.S. beef group plans to model a BSE control strategy after one used for reducing the risk of E. coli contamination.

Finding a unified approach to handling the multiple facets of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in North America will be the focus of a BSE Summit to be held April 26-27 in Fort Worth, Texas. Members of the checkoff-funded Beef Industry Food Safety Council are modeling the meeting after the summit on E. coli O157:H7 held last year in San Antonio, Texas. At that meeting, BIFSCo reiterated a united industry's commitment to develop best management practices for reducing the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 at every point in the production stream -- farm to fork.

BIFSCo members hope to attract their counterparts from the Canadian and Mexican industries to the April meeting, as well as the U.S. federal agencies working on the BSE issue, according to the National Cattlemen¡¯s Beef Association. ¡°Invitations will be extended to representatives from every industry segment touched by the BSE situation, including the rendering, feed, and dairy industries,¡± NCBA said.

The goal of the meeting, coordinated on behalf of the Cattlemen's Beef Board and state beef councils by the NCBA, will be to identify where more knowledge and research is needed and establish best practices to strengthen defenses against BSE. Working group topics include: testing, specified risk material removal, byproduct handling, consumer relations, and international and retail trade disruptions and changes.

¡°Much in our industry has changed since Dec. 23 and we as an industry need to identify what we can do to further assure our customers about the safety of the U.S. beef supply,¡± J.O. Reagan, Ph.D., NCBA vice president of research and knowledge management, commented. ¡°Even prior to the May 20, 2003, discovery of BSE in Canada, the strategy was and always has been to keep North America BSE-free. We need a unified approach to ensure the safety of the beef supply and mitigate the impact of this disease on this continent.¡±

BIFSCo also will reactivate its BSE Working Group, which will take a longer-term look at BSE. Previously, the Group had identified research gaps in BSE. Currently, the beef checkoff is funding 14 research BSE-related projects. These were in place at the time of the Dec. 23 announcement of BSE detected in a dairy cow in Washington state.Web posted: March 18, 2004

Food Safety and Inspection Service Seeks Research Proposals

Egg safety still an issue

- 22/03/2004 - An FSA survey of UK-produced eggs has found that the level of salmonella contamination is now one third of what it was in 1996. But one industry expert says that food manufacturers should still exercise caution, writes Anthony Fletcher.

The report, which we reported last week, shows that just one in every 290 boxes of six eggs on sale has any salmonella contamination, compared with 1 in 100 in a 1995/96 survey.
¡°This is very reassuring and good news for the consumer,¡± said Dr Judith Hilton, head of FSA¡¯s microbiological safety division. ¡°Basically, if you're buying UK-produced eggs from shops and markets, the possibility of any salmonella contamination is very low indeed and significantly lower today than in the mid-1990s. The UK egg industry is to be congratulated on the excellent progress made.¡±

But while the UK has indeed made some tremendous progress in ridding the retail system from Salmonella-infected eggs over the past few years, one industry expert is urging for caution.

¡°One should remain wary of becoming overly optimistic,¡± Stijn De Preter, communication manager at Leda Technologies told FoodProductionDaily.com. ¡°The situation can quickly change for the worse, as the Belgian Salmonella enteritidis infection statistics show - 5,915 cases were reported in 2002, while 9,015 were reported in 2003.¡±

One of the main reasons for concern is the pooling of eggs by food business operators. ¡°To give you an example: if a hotel or a caterer were to prepare a chocolate mousse for a party of, say, 300 people, its chef would be using anything between 240 and 300 egg whites. The FSA's stats say that approx 1 in 290 boxes contains Salmonella infected eggs, and that samples were tested in pooled 6 egg boxes.¡±

In the best possible scenario, says De Preter, this boils down to 1 infected egg in each 290th box or 1 egg in 1,740. In a worst-case scenario, this boils down to 1 infected egg in 290 eggs. In that case, the chocolate mousse stands a much higher risk of being contaminated.

Indeed, the survey states that although the chances of eggs being contaminated in the UK are now very low, eggs cannot be guaranteed to be salmonella-free, whatever the source or type. As a result, companies such as Leda Technologies are developing equipment that they claim is capable of removing Salmonella contamination from shell eggs without affecting their composition or cooking properties.

Leda¡¯s system, called Pollux, is also capable of pasteurising and cooking shell eggs in one process. The company claims that the process is particularly useful in the preparation of potentially dangerous dishes such as mayonnaise, chocolate mousse, tiramisu and soft to medium cooked eggs.

Officials: Possible St. Louis school food-poisoning outbreak grows


Associated Press

Kansas City Star


ST. LOUIS - Nearly a dozen additional students and two teachers were sickened at a handful of other St. Louis elementary schools the same day more than 40 fell ill after eating lunch at one site, the state's largest school system said Wednesday.

Health officials continued trying to pinpoint what sickened the 45 students and one teacher Tuesday at Lafayette Elementary School as well as the 10 or so students and two teachers that a district survey later found sickened at four other grade schools.

Students at all of the district's roughly 60 elementary schools were served the same lunch of smoked turkey and potatoes au gratin, though it remained unclear Wednesday whether food - or food handling - caused the illness.

"I have to tell you personally, as a parent, I am highly outraged by this whole incident," William Roberti, the district's acting superintendent, said Wednesday.

All the affected students complained of stomach aches, headaches and vomiting, district spokesman Glynn Young said. Hospital officials called the symptoms consistent with food poisoning.

The children became ill 40 minutes to an hour after eating lunch - consistent with what a health official described as food-borne intoxication. In such cases, a person becomes sick from the toxin produced by bacteria, not from the organism itself, said Larry Kettelhut, the city health department's head of environmental health services.

The city's health department planned to inspect the affected schools, take samples, and examine how the food was provided and stored "to see if there's any connection," Young said.

Preliminary test results were expected as early as Thursday and more specific results early next week, Young said.

"What we're trying to do is find out if this (number of sicknesses) is what you see any given day. That information hasn't come back yet," Young said.

On orders from the city health department, the school district suspended use of milk and food from two suppliers until the cause of the illness could be determined. The companies supply Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp., the district's food-service provider since March 1.

Because of those moves, Young said, there were some logistical problems getting food delivered to every school Wednesday. In the breakfast program, for example, not everyone got milk, and at other schools lunches were served late, Young said.

"In most cases, it worked out OK. We're hoping it's back to normal tomorrow," Young said. "Whatever we do we have do with children's safety uppermost in mind. That's got to be the priority. We'd rather overreact and not have any problems than to have more kids get sick.

"I think everyone's being extremely cautious, and that's exactly the right thing to do."

Nutreco Agriculture Introduces a Rapid Analysis Method for Pathogens

New development within NuTrace¢ç

Nutreco Agriculture has made a new development in the management programme for the main pathogens. Together with the UK firm Matrix MicroScience Ltd, Nutreco Agriculture has developed a fast technique for measuring pathogens in the meat production chain. The method is called Pathatrix¢ç/Colortrix¢â.

Masterlab, part of Nutreco, worked closely with the Nutreco companies in the feed, poultry and pork production chains during this development. Nutreco Agriculture will launch the rapid analysis method for salmonella in March 2004. Campylobacter spp. and Listeria spp. will be introduced into the programme over the next 2 years. The new rapid analysis method represents a significant enhancement of the existing NuTrace¢ç monitoring programme. Faster data availability facilitates better management of the entire production chain from feed to meat.

The Pathatrix¢ç/Colortrix¢â fast analysis method was created by the UK company Matrix MicroScience. Nutreco Agriculture began working with Matrix MicroScience to adapt an existing rapid method so it could be used for the main pathogens in the production chain from feed to meat. The goal of the project was to substantially reduce the time spent tracing the main pathogens at comparable cost and the same level of accuracy.

Much faster
The Pathatrix¢ç/Colortrix¢â method enables analysis results to be made available within 8 hours. The time currently required is 3 to 5 days. This is an enormous time saving. The Pathatrix¢ç method proved to be very efficient and accurate at revealing Salmonella spp. during the successful test phase. So Nutreco Agriculture is launching the first routine application of Pathatrix¢ç/Colortrix¢â for Salmonella spp. Nutreco Masterlab will collect additional data over the coming days and weeks to finally validate and certify this rapid method.

The answer throughout the production chain
All the Nutreco companies in the feed, poultry and pork production chains will be working closely together in the further development of this method. Manfred Hessing, Food Safety & Quality Manager- Food & Feed says, "We are including the rapid analysis technique for pathogens in our NuTrace¢ç monitoring programme. The technique does not prevent pathogens per se, but this fast method means we can take action quickly. This gives us a better and more effective approach to pathogens throughout the production chain from feed to meat. We are therefore implementing this rapid technique throughout the entire production chain."
The 8-hour rapid analysis method for Salmonella spp. will be available, with full validation and certification by the end of 2004. The plan is to implement it for Campylobacter spp. and Listeria spp in 2006.

NuTrace¢ç is Nutreco's quality programme. It represents a total approach by Nutreco to quality and information within the food chain. NuTrace¢ç addresses all the quality criteria which Nutreco companies impose on themselves. NuTrace¢ç is being introduced into every link of the production chain for premix, animal feeds, fresh fish, fresh chicken and fresh pork.

Matrix MicroScience
Matrix is a highly innovative company focused on the development of diagnostics for the rapid detection of food-borne pathogens such as Salmonella spp., Listeria spp., Campylobacter spp. and E.coli O157. Matrix has achieved AOAC RI approval for a range of its products. Matrix MicroScience is an international organisation with offices, research and production facilities in Newmarket, UK, and Denver, USA. It was established as an independent company following the sale of its highly successful parent company in August 2000.

Nutreco Holding N.V.
Nutreco Holding N.V. is an international company producing high-quality food for humans and animals. The company is active in various links of the food production chain for fish, poultry and pork. These activities are sub-divided into Nutreco Aquaculture and Nutreco Agriculture. Eight business units operate within various business groups, with over 120 production and processing facilities in 22 countries and approximately 13,000 employees worldwide.
Since its stock market flotation in June 1997, Nutreco has completed acquisitions in the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Canada, Poland, Chile, Portugal, France, Scotland, Belgium, Hungary, Norway, Australia and the US. Nutreco's turnover in 2003 was EUR 3,674 million. Nutreco is listed on the Officiele Markt of Euronext in Amsterdam and is on the Midkap Index (Amsterdam), the Euronext 150 index and the Next Prime Index (Euronext).Source: Nutreco Agriculture / Matrix MicroScience
Posted: March 19, 2004

E.sakazakii seen as blue green colonies on Oxoid Chromogenic Enterobacter sakazakii Agar.
Increasingly there is concern in the food industry about the occurrence of Enterobacter sakazakii infections in neonates who have been fed milk-based powdered infant formula. To assist food laboratories in the testing of these products, Oxoid have introduced Oxoid Chromogenic Enterobacter sakazakii Agar (Druggan-Forsythe-Iversen (DFI) formulation) that allows recovery and detection of E. sakazakii in just 3 days - 2 days faster than by conventional methods.

Enterobacter sakazakii is a Gram-negative rod-shaped bacterium within the family Enterobacteriaceae. The organism was previously called "yellow-pigmented Enterobacter cloacae " until 1980 when it was renamed Enterobacter sakazakii.[1] Urmenyi and Franklin reported the first two known cases of meningitis caused by E. sakazakii in 1961. Subsequently, cases of meningitis, septicaemia, and necrotizing enterocolitis due to E. sakazakii have been reported worldwide.

Infants born prematurely and those with underlying medical conditions are at the highest risk of developing E. sakazakii infection. Clusters of E. sakazakii infections linked to powdered infant formula products from various manufacturers have been reported in a number of countries. Outbreaks have also occurred in neonatal intensive care units worldwide.[2]

In 2002 the FDA published a recommended method for isolating and identifying E. sakazakii from infant formula: pre-enrichment in sterile water and enrichment in EE Broth is followed by plating onto VRBG Agar then sub culture onto Tryptone Soya Agar. Yellow-pigmented colonies are confirmed as E. sakazakii by oxidase and other biochemical tests.

When compared to the current FDA method, all clinical and food strains of E.sakazakii (95/95) were detected on the new Oxoid chromogenic Enterobacter sakazakii Agar (DFI formulation) two days sooner than the alternative method.[3]

Pre-enrichment and selective enrichment are followed by plating samples onto Oxoid Chromogenic Enterobacter sakazakii Agar (DFI formulation). This innovative new chromogenic medium contains the substrate 5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indolyl-a,D-glucopyranoside which is cleaved by the enzyme a-glucosidase, expressed by E. sakazakii, to form easily distinguishable blue-green colonies.

1. Lai KK. Enterobacter sakazakii infections among neonates, infants, children, and adults. Medicine 2001; 80:113-22.
2. van Acker et al. Outbreak of necrotizing enterocolitis associated with Enterobacter sakazakii in powdered milk formula. J Clin Microbiol 2001;39:293-97
3. Data on file at Oxoid Ltd.