coli Food Poisoning Cases Drop
USDA to deploy national animal identification system
University of Minnesota to lead national effort in food bio-security
of Homeland Security awards university-based grants
"The breadth and depth of food security knowledge we were able to pull together for this effort is unparalleled," says Frank Busta, University of Minnesota's Department of Food Science and Nutrition and principal investigator on the grant.
"The University of Minnesota, with extraordinary strength and expertise in the health, animal and food sciences, is uniquely positioned to develop interdisciplinary collaborations," said President Robert Bruininks. "We're proud to lead this important effort and look forward to working with our partners in academia, public health, industry and government to make our nation's food supply safer."
"This University of Minnesota team includes some of the brightest, most accomplished people in food production and health safety. Their recognition as a Homeland Security Center of Excellence is well deserved. I know they will make fine contributions to the protection of our national food supply," said Congressman Martin Sabo. Congressman Sabo is the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, which allocates funding for and conducts oversight of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The U.S. food system--from farms to processing and distribution to retail food service--presents an array of vulnerable targets for terrorist attack. Intentional contamination of agricultural or food products with biological, chemical, or radiological agents could lead to potentially devastating effects on human health, as well as major economic losses to a critical sector of the economy. Historically, efforts to protect the food supply have focused primarily on preventing and reducing accidental contamination by naturally occurring agents.
"The need to protect against potential deliberate contamination now creates a demand for enhanced capabilities to anticipate, prevent, respond quickly to, and minimize the impact of such attacks," said Michael T. Osterholm, co-principal investigator and director of the University's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. "This places great importance on federal, state, and local governments and the private sector to coordinate and integrate their biosecurity activities."
One of the major strengths of the proposal lies in a unique farm-to-table private sector industry group that has been collaborating with the University for nearly two years to identify security gaps in the nation's food supply and to develop comprehensive plans to respond to those gaps.
"The University of Minnesota is ideally suited to provide a coordinated effort between academia, government, and the key food and agricultural industry players ?including producers, processors, wholesalers, and retailers," said Joel Johnson, C.E.O., Hormel Foods, Austin, Minn. "By working together with industry, as we have in the past on other initiatives, the University will provide excellent leadership in the nation on this counter-terrorism effort."
Food Hygiene Laws Reviewed
The Regulation on Official Food and Feed Controls, proposed by the Commission in February 2003, will streamline previously weak and scattered controls and reinforce the efficiency of control services performed by both member states and the Commission.
It clearly defines the member states responsibility to ensure that business operators apply E.U. legislation correctly and sets out the role of the Commission's Food and Veterinary Office as "auditor" of the member states' performance. Performance criteria are introduced for the Member State competent authorities and a harmonized E.U.-wide approach to the design and development of control systems is set out.
The regulation will also provide a framework to support developing countries in meeting E.U. import requirements and enable the Commission to fund activities that enhance food and feed safety. It establishes a common regime for controls on food and feed imports, basing the nature and frequency of controls on risk. This means, for example, that import conditions can be more stringent for products with a higher risk profile, such as certain nuts that may contain aflatoxins.
The hygiene package, one of the key elements of the recast of the E.U.'s food safety legislation, is composed of five parts covering general hygiene, hygiene of food of animal origin, official controls and animal health rules for products of animal origin intended for human consumption, and a directive repealing the previously existing legislation.
New rules will be introduced on the inspection of both live animals and meat and on the level of supervision in cutting plants. The hygiene package introduces the HACCP Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points principles in all sectors of the food business except for primary production on farms. For example, two critical control points in slaughterhouses that need to be managed according to the HACCP principles are the prevention of fecal contamination of carcasses and ensuring the correct temperature of carcasses during storage.
The hygiene package will merge, harmonize and simplify the E.U. hygiene legislation that was previously scattered over 17 separate directives and instead create a single, transparent hygiene policy. This policy will be applicable to all food operators and includes effective instruments to manage food safety and any future food crises throughout the food chain.
The hygiene rules allow for some flexibility for small businesses, traditional food production methods and for businesses in isolated areas. In addition, primary production for private use and the direct sale of small quantities of primary products are not covered by the hygiene rules. For example, apples or eggs sold directly at the farm gate or in local retail shops are exempted.
The regulation on hygiene requirements for animal feed completes the "farm to fork" approach, providing rules on the production, transport, storage and handling of animal feed. The Commission said that many food crises have their origin in contaminated feed, such as the dioxin crisis. Therefore the hygienic handling and production of feed is absolutely vital to ensure safe food. Also of particular importance is the liability of feed operators to pay for the costs, such as withdrawal from the market and destruction of feed, if something goes wrong with their feed as a result of infringements of the feed safety legislation.
The regulation covers all types of feed and the entire range of feed business operators.
However, there is some flexibility for small businesses and remote regions, for which Member States may put in place appropriate solutions based on the local situation, without compromising the objective of food safety. For example, pet food is excluded from the hygiene rules, as is the trade of small quantities of feed between farmers at the local level.
David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, welcomed the Council adoption of the Regulation on Food and Feed Controls and the Regulation on Feed Hygiene, in addition to the package of food hygiene legislation, which was just recently finalized. All of these new laws will apply beginning on January 1, 2006.
"These are some of the key initiatives that I promised to deliver on as Commissioner and I am very pleased indeed to see their completion", Commissioner Byrne said. ¡°These laws will radically improve our food safety systems and involve important structural reforms. These rules significantly strengthen consumer protection in the E.U.¡±
Web posted: April 27, 2004
JUICE HACCP RULE OVERVIEW
sterilization process could bring salmon to the dry-shelf
Food Safety Informaiton
Proposes Additional Rules to Ensure the Safety of Imported Food
The new regulations would require samples to be properly identified, collected and maintained; mandate that private laboratories use validated or recognized analytical methods; and direct private laboratories to submit the results directly to FDA. The proposal also would require importers to provide notice to FDA about the use of a sampling service or a private laboratory to sample and test food that is subject to an FDA enforcement action.
"This is yet another of the many steps initiated by our agency to protect Americans from food that appears to be adulterated or misbranded," said Dr. Lester M. Crawford, the Acting FDA Commissioner. "When it is finalized, this regulation will add an important building block to the FDA regulatory wall that helps to keep suspect food from harming our consumers."
Imports of food are rapidly rising and last year reached more than 6 million shipments. FDA estimates that importers hire more than 100 private laboratories to generate analytical data in support of claims that imported food products comply with U.S. laws. After questions were raised in mid-1990s about the coordination between these firms and FDA, the agency conducted several meetings with stakeholders that resulted in suggestions that the FDA take the following actions:
consistent and objective national standards for the format and content of analytical
data that private laboratories submit to FDA;
The proposed rule emphasizes the importance of keeping the manner and process of sample collection and analysis free of any unauthorized influence or interference in order to deter manipulation, alteration, or substitution of the tested products.
The proposal, which can be accessed at www.fda.gov/OHRMS/DOCKETS/98fr/04-9699.htm, is on display today at the Office of the Federal Register. The proposal provides a 90-day period for comments. Comments should be identified by Docket No. 2002N-0085 and submitted using one of the means described in the opening section of the posted document.Bacterial Proteins Combat Campylobacter
By Sharon Durham
April 28, 2004
Proteins from harmless microorganisms can reduce Campylobacter and other pathogenic bacteria in poultry intestines, a team of Agricultural Research Service and Russian scientists has discovered.
ARS microbiologist Norman J. Stern of the Poultry Microbiological Safety Research Unit in Athens, Ga., used the proteins, called bacteriocins, to reduce Campylobacter numbers in bird intestines by 99.999 percent in small research trials. Large research trials will be necessary to determine if the technology is commercially feasible.
According to Stern, this is the first treatment used in the last 25 years to achieve a significant reduction of Campylobacter in research trials on chickens.
The bacteriocins reduce the numbers of Campylobacter by a millionfold when fed to chickens. Bacteriocins could provide an effective alternative to antibiotics the poultry industry uses to control pathogenic bacteria.
Foodborne bacterial infections are responsible for billions of dollars of economic losses in the United States and worldwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that Campylobacter is one of the most common bacterial causes of diarrheal illness in humans in the United States. CDC has identified poultry as the primary vehicle for its transmission to humans. Controlling Campylobacter in poultry would reduce public exposure to the bacteria.
Preliminary data indicate bacteriocins may be effective in reducing other foodborne bacteria such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli. The patented technology to utilize the bacteriocins is available for licensing for commercial development.
is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.