Signs Agreement with U.N. Agency on Protecting Food in the Americas
Source of Article: http://usinfo.state.gov/
Washington -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has signed an agreement with a health agency of the United Nations to improve the protection of food in the Americas.
In a June 24 statement, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said its agreement with the USDA calls for improving protection in the Americas of the "food supply and animal agriculture from intentional and accidental introduction of harmful substances and exotic disease."
In addition, the agreement calls for promoting the trade of safe food in the Western Hemisphere, increasing interchanges of scientists and government food safety officials, and promoting the sharing of resources.
Also, the agreement says that by establishing the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) in January 2005, the Western Hemisphere will become the largest trading bloc in the world. The agreement says that along with the "effects of constant global movement," the new FTAA will result in the need for increased cooperation between PAHO and the USDA.
"The international exchange of people, food, animals, and agricultural products brings with it increased challenges to public health, animal health, and economic growth," the agreement says.
Other essential parts of the agreement, which takes effect immediately and covers a period of three years, include promoting greater participation of countries with small- and medium-sized economies in the international "standard-setting processes," and enhancing "program coordination" between USDA and PAHO.
Elsa Murano, USDA under secretary for food safety, said the June 24 signing of the agreement between her department and PAHO is an example of how the Bush administration is "devoted to improving public health through expanded trade of safe food across the globe."
Murano added that the agreement comes at a pivotal moment for USDA and PAHO.
"This is a very important first step for us," she said. "I look forward to working with PAHO to further enhance food safety in the Americas."
USDA Secretary Ann Veneman says the role of food safety is central to the future of free trade in the Americas and will require extensive cooperation among regional policymakers and organizations.
Veneman told PAHO officials in a 2003 speech that "as we seek to expand and maintain markets and the confidence of consumers in our own countries and worldwide, our challenge will be to address legitimate concerns, in areas such as food safety ... without erecting unnecessary barriers to trade."
First inconclusive test confirmed negative for BSE
Ann Bagel on 7/1/04 for Meatingplace.com
Because the results were negative for BSE, APHIS did not release details about the carcass in question, such as what state it came from or its age. USDA said it would release more information about any animal that is confirmed positive for BSE.
The second inconclusive BSE test, announced late Tuesday, is still being analyzed by USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. Results are expected within four to seven days.
USDA officials have emphasized that inconclusive test results are a normal component of the sensitive screening tests. During a media briefing Wednesday, APHIS Deputy Administrator John Clifford would not speculate about the expected rate of false positives in the expanded surveillance program, but a statement released by the American Meat Institute noted that based on a similar testing program in Japan, 90 percent of samples that initially test inconclusive ultimately prove to be negative for BSE.
"The public and the markets need to realize that we're likely to hear more announcements about inconclusive results in the future and that it's in everybody's interest not to overreact," AMI President J. Patrick Boyle said in the statement. "Regardless of whether the final test result produces a positive or a negative for BSE, the bottom line is that the animal will never enter the human food supply."
Tuesday's announcement of the second inconclusive BSE test sent live cattle futures for August delivery down 2.125 cents a pound, closing at 85.75 cents at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
The market closed before USDA's announcement of a negative confirmation for the first inconclusive test.
Meatingplace.com editor Eric Hanson contributed to this report.
and vegetable contamination a hot topic
USDA signs agreement to improve safety of traded food
Eric Hanson on 6/25/04 for Meatingplace.com
Kiwifruit allergies hitting children: British tests
Source of Article: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/
British children as young as 4 months are developing life-threatening allergies to kiwifruit, causing them to vomit, wheeze and collapse, researchers say.
Scientists at Southampton University, commissioned by the Food Standards Agency, fed the fruit to almost 300 people of all ages, including many who had reported having other allergies, the Daily Telegraph reports.
They found that severe symptoms were significantly more likely to occur in young children, with 40 per cent experiencing acute problems. Generally, allergic adults and children react equally to foods such as milk and nuts.
Three-quarters of the children under 6 reacted on their first exposure to the fruit. One in five were sick, had breathing problems or collapsed.
Jane Lucas, a paediatrician and clinical research fellow at Southampton University, told the newspaper: "Children seem to be having a more severe reaction."
The team believes that the rise in cases may be because of greater consumption of the fruit and a general increase in the incidence of food allergies.
Dr Lucas told the Sunday Herald newspaper in Glasgow that her research showed young people to be most at risk.
"I noticed a huge rise in the number of children arriving at our allergy clinic with a kiwifruit allergy, and there was very little research being done in that area, which I hope our study starts to remedy," she said.
"As more people try kiwifruit and it becomes more available, the numbers of sufferers will rise.
"As with peanut allergies, there is no known treatment available at the moment."
Her case studies included a 4-month-old baby who had to be resuscitated after just a tiny taste of the fruit.
The magazine Allergy recently featured the story of Kristjan, 9, who almost died after eating kiwifruit.
He ate the fruit for the first time at age 5 and needed antihistamines to recover from severe swelling to his face.
On the second occasion he ate food that had come into contact with a knife used to cut a kiwifruit. He was rushed to hospital and treated with adrenalin.
Research has revealed that kiwifruit proteins have some chemical similarities to raw Malaysian rubber - used to make latex gloves, balloons and condoms - and those allergic to either kiwifruit or latex experience similar reactions.
Dr Ann Clarke, of the Latex Allergy Support Group, told the Sunday Herald: "Problems are on the increase ... around 1 per cent of the population are allergic to this protein, and there is really not enough awareness of the dangers."
The Southampton researchers studied 273 adults and children suspected of having a kiwifruit allergy, with 45 subjects undergoing testing.
One in five subjects suffered severe symptoms, including collapse, wheezing and vomiting.
Almost all (90 per cent) of the children under 6 in the study had an underlying condition such as hayfever, eczema or asthma, and 60 per cent reported having a peanut allergy.
Kiwifruit is increasingly popular in Britain. More than 1 million ($60 million) worth of the fruit - about 31,000 tonnes - is sold in the country each year.
Local High School Secretary Killed By Peanut Allergy
News Fri, Jul 02, 2004
A secretary at Andover High School died from a peanut allergy, according to the Oakland County Medical Examiner's report. Officials ruled that the death of Amy Topic, 34, was caused by an accidental ingestion of peanuts, The Daily Oakland Press reported. Topic, a mother and popular secretary at the school, died on May 29, according to the paper. Her husband, Andrew, an English teacher at Andover, died in September 2003 of a heart attack, the paper reported. The couple left behind a 3-year-old son. Topic knew that she was allergic to peanuts, but apparently did not know she had ingested peanuts or peanut products, a doctor told the paper. Her official cause of death is listed as an anaphylactic reaction.
than 240 report being 'violently' ill
Food Safety Informaiton