Requires Clear Allergen Labels
(THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
requiring food labels to identify allergens in easy-to-understand language cleared
Congress Tuesday and headed for the president's signature. Sponsors said the bill
would help protect 11 million food-allergic consumers. The House voted by voice
to pass the bill, which also requires food ingredient statements to identify food
allergens used in spices, natural or artificial flavorings and additives. The
Senate approved the measure last March, and President Bush is expected to sign
Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., sponsor of the legislation, said labels that are incomplete
or written in scientific jargon contribute to 200 deaths every year from allergic
reactions, and 30,000 people requiring emergency treatment. ``If we do not take
action to improve food labels, the numbers of deaths and food incidents will rise,''
bill, authored in the Senate by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., requires labels
to make clear which, if any, of the eight main food allergens -- milk, eggs, peanuts,
tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat -- are contained in a product. It also
requires the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to track food allergy-related
Lowey said, the Food and Drug Administration approves such terms as ``whey,''
``casein'' and ``lactoglobulin'' to indicate the presence of milk in a product,
terms that many parents don't recognize and that can be particularly difficult
for children to understand. Tim Willard, vice president of communications for
the National Food Processors Association, said the bill was a ``step forward for
uniform, clear and consumer-friendly food allergen labeling.''
legislation also includes a second measure, promoted by Rep. Chip Pickering Jr.,
R-Miss., and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., that creates incentives for animal pharmaceutical
makers to invest in drugs for so-called minor animals. The legislation is aimed
at easing the process for FDA approval and making it economically feasible for
drug companies to develop drugs for pet rabbits, sheep, deer, game birds and aquatic
said it would be particularly beneficial to the catfish industry, which now has
only six drugs approved for use. 7-20-04
continual challenge of emerging infectious diseases
July 12, 2004
Institute of Health
diseases, which have shaped the course of humanity and caused incalculable suffering
and death, will continue to confront society in unpredictable ways as long as
humans and microbes co-exist, write authors from the National Institute of Allergy
and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health in a review
article published in the July 8 issue of the journal Nature.
In their paper,
the authors classify three types of emerging infections and consider methods for
their control: newly emerging infections (e.g. HIV, SARS); re-emerging/resurging
infections (e.g. influenza, West Nile virus); and deliberately emerging infections
(e.g. microbes used for bioterror).
The authors note that emerging infectious
diseases are superimposed on a constant backdrop of established infections. Approximately
15 million deaths in 2002 were directly attributable to infections, according
to the World Health Organization. Tragically, the authors point out, the burden
of all infections falls most heavily on those least able to manage them: people
living in developing countries, especially infants and children, and indigenous
and disadvantaged minorities in developed countries.
Why do infectious diseases
emerge and re-emerge The viruses, bacteria and parasites that cause these diseases
continually and sometimes dramatically change over time. The authors note that
emergence results from dynamic interactions between rapidly evolving infectious
agents and changes in the environment and in host behavior that provide such agents
with favorable new ecological niches.As a result, new pathogens arise, and familiar
ones re-emerge with new properties or in unfamiliar settings.
the authors write, the results have been devastating. For example, importation
of smallpox into Central America caused 105 million deaths in 1520 521, effectively
ending Aztec civilization. AIDS, first recognized in 1981, now threatens to surpass
in global fatality the Black Death?of the 14th century and the influenza pandemic
of 1918?919, two notable infections that emerged to each kill tens of millions
In the past five years alone, two pathogens well known to countries
on other continents were seen in the Unites States for the first time West Nile
virus and monkeypox virus. In addition, a new infectious disease, SARS, emerged
in 2003 and has since caused more than 8,000 cases of illness and nearly 800 deaths
around the world. In addition, in 2001 the United States was confronted with a
third, extremely disquieting category of threat: a disease resulting from the
deliberate release of an infectious agent, anthrax, by a terrorist(s).
authors write that an effective response to any new infectious disease threat,
whether it emerges, re-emerges, or is deliberately introduced, involves mobilizing
many different types of public health activities. In particular, frontline surveillance
and response is critical and depends on rapid detection, clinical diagnosis and
containment. Concomitantly, basic and applied research enables the development
of medical countermeasures such as surveillance tools, diagnostic tests, vaccines
and therapeutics. The authors note that these efforts have been accelerated by
advances in fields such as genomics/proteomics, nanotechnology, direct and computational
structural determination, immunology, and geographical information systems and
Reference: DM Morens, GK Folkers and AS Fauci. The challenge
of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Nature 430: July 8, 2004.
applauds passage of Food Allergen Labeling Legislationby U.S. House of Representatives
From a press release
WASHINGTON--Following passage yesterday by
the U.S. House of Representatives of a bill providing for changes to the labeling
of allergens in foods, John R. Cady, President and CEO of the National Food Processors
Association (NFPA), made the following comments:
"NFPA applauds the House
passage of this bill, which already has been passed by the Senate. NFPA and a
coalition of industry groups worked closely with both the House and Senate to
provide input on this legislation, and urged its passage. While this legislation
is not perfect, it is a step forward for uniform, clear, and consumer-friendly
food allergen labeling. It will protect the food-allergic consumer, and assist
"The food industry has taken the lead role on providing
information on allergens in foods -- in 'plain language' that can be easily understood
by consumers -- through the labels on food products. In 2001, NFPA and the Food
Allergy Issues Alliance -- composed of industry associations and consumer organizations
-- created guidelines to help food processors diligently inform food-allergic
consumers about the presence of major food allergens in their products in clear,
"This legislation is another step in the process of ensuring
that food- allergic consumers, and caregivers for those with food allergies, are
getting the information they need from the labels on food packages."
Foodborne Pathogens and Disease
the formidable challenges of providing and maintaining a safe food supply.
Pathogens and Disease, is the only peer-reviewed, journal that covers the agricultural,
medical, and industrial aspects food safety and its impact on public health.
read a Free Sample Issue Online, please visit www.liebertpub.com/fpd.
provides the latest research and technology that enables you to solve complex
food safety problems. Each issue includes:
- Emerging pathogens
and technology for rapid and accurate detection
- Strategies to destroy or
control foodborne pathogens in food production and processing
of novel strategies for the prevention and control of plant and animal diseases
that impact food safety
- Special reports on agroterrorism and the safety of
organically grown and genetically modified foods
- Emergence of drug resistance
further information and to subscribe visit www.liebertpub.com/fpd
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baby food 'worst for toxins'
A damning new report by the UK Food
Standards Agency was cited as finding that organic baby foods carry higher toxin
levels than conventional products, and that while many parents are prepared to
pay a premium of up to an extra 20p, or 30%, for a jar of organic food, the survey
found that three of the top four products with the highest levels of toxins were
organic, while none of the 10 baby foods with the lowest toxin levels had the
The story says that consumers¡¯ groups last night demanded clearer
information on food to allow shoppers to make the best choices, while organic
producers called for more research to allow them to avoid contaminated ingredients.
The food watchdog bought 124 samples of different brands of baby food. They
were then tested for PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and dioxins, which are man-made
pollutants present in the environment as a result of industrial processes.
the study showed that toxins in the food were well within the levels recommended
by scientists even for babies, they discovered that the amounts varied dramatically,
even between products containing ostensibly similar ingredients.
its clean and healthy reputation, organic food is no more free of toxins than
conventionally produced baby food.
In all, four of the top 10 foods with the
highest levels of toxins carried the organic label. Meanwhile, none of the 10
most toxin-free products was organic.
In one example, an organic shepherd¡¯s
pie had 90 times the level of the chemicals of its non-organic equivalent.
addition, while fish products have recently been the focus of considerable criticism
over their levels of PCBs and dioxins, the only non-organic fish product tested
had the lowest level of toxins, while the organic fish products were among the
most affected by the chemicals.
Even within the same brands, organic products
fared no better than ordinary foods.
can persist in stores and processing plants
July 16, 2004
Despite the efforts of food retailers and food-processing plant
managers to maintain a clean, safe environment, strains of the deadly pathogen
Listeria monocytogenes can persist for up to a year or longer, according to Cornell
University food scientists in the latest issue of Journal of Food Protection (July
"This is disturbing because this points the finger at retail stores
and some processors as a continuing source of food contamination," says Brian
D. Sauders, a Cornell doctoral candidate in food science, who worked on the study
with Martin Wiedmann, D.V.M., Cornell assistant professor of food science.
and Wiedmann examined specific strains of L. monocytogenes that had been found
in 125 foods in 50 retail food stores and seven food-processing plants in New
York state examined by inspectors of the New York State Department of Agriculture
and Markets. The inspectors found the bacteria during routine surveys, sanitary
inspections and as a result of consumer complaints between 1997 and 2002.
can cause listeriosis, a deadly disease that primarily affects pregnant women,
newborn children, and adults with weakened immune systems. Each year in the United
States about 2,500 people are infected, of which one-fifth die. Pasteurization
and cooking kill the bacterium.
The foods in which Listeria was found included
ready-to-eat delicatessen foods like ham, beef bologna, chicken, pastrami, roast
beef and smoked fish. It also was found in hummus, imitation crab, cheeses and
in foods requiring cooking before consumption, such as hot dogs and raw foods
including beef, ground chuck, turkey, lobster tails and shrimp.
was found directly on food in 47 of 50 retail food stores, including 20 food stores
where the bacterium was found on several foods. When the 50 stores were re-inspected
weeks, months or even a year later, about 34 percent had persistence of the same
strains of Listeria. Of the seven food-processing plants where Listeria was found,
three had persistent strains of the bacterium.
Wiedmann explains that food
retailers have a harder time controlling for Listeria than do food processors.
Food processors can control for people entering the plant, while retailers cannot
always control the pathogens introduced by customers and employees. "Listeria
is a very hardy organism. Even if you think you're doing a good job of cleaning
and getting rid of Listeria, it is likely to return. Normal cleaning and even
super cleaning does not always get rid of it. It's a tribute to Listeria's ability
to survive," says Wiedmann.
The study is intended to help state health
departments track the origins of listeriosis. "While our understanding of
the ecology of [Listeria] has clearly improved over the last decade, considerable
gaps still exist in our understanding of the transmission of human listeriosis.
For example, our knowledge of the contributions of food contamination with Listeria
at retail, at restaurants, and at home is extremely limited," writes Sauders
in the study.
In addition to Sauders and Wiedmann, the article (titled "Distribution
of Listeria monocytogenes Molecular Subtypes Among Human and Food Isolates from
New York State Shows Persistence of Human Disease-Associated Listeria monocytogenes
Strains in Retail Environments") was authored by Kurt Mangione, Curtis Vincent,
Jon Schermerhorn and Claudette M. Farchione of the New York State Department of
Agriculture and Markets; Nellie B. Dumas and Dianna Bopp of the New York State
Department of Health; Laura Kornstein of the New York City Department of Health;
and Esther Fortes and Katy Windham of Cornell. Funding for the research came from
the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institutes of Health.
to spot-check its mad cow testing program
- U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman was cited as saying in testimony prepared
for Congress on Wednesday that the U.S. Agriculture Department will launch a nationwide
review to make sure its stepped-up testing program for mad cow disease is being
carried out properly, beginning on Thursday at USDA headquarters, "proceeding
to regional and state offices later this month. Over a four to six week period,
AMS (Agricultural Marketing Service) will conduct on-site assessments of random
locations where surveillance activities occur, with a report issued within four
weeks afterward. sThese assessments will be on-going."
food safety awards
July 12, 2004
Herd On The Hill
The International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) will
recognizing excellence in food safety to the following organizations
individuals at IAFP 2004, August 8-11, 2004.
The Black Pearl Award will
be presented to NMA Member Jack in the Box, Inc. in
recognition of its outstanding
achievement in corporate excellence in food
safety and quality. The Educator
Award will be presented to Linda J. Harris,
University of California-Davis,
Davis, California. Helen M. Piotter, Indiana
State Board of Animal Health,
Macy, Indiana, will be presented the Sanitarian
may provide protection from smuggled meats
July 15, 2004
A Worcestershire, England, company has developed X-ray machine software
that would help officials detect items smuggled into the United Kingdom, such
as illegal meat, according to published reports.
The software from Cargo Images
Ltd. is linked up with existing airport X-ray systems and sends images of luggage
taken at the point of departure to the plane's destination. This allows customs
officials hours to examine incoming luggage while it is still in flight, according
to Advantage West Midlands, a regional development agency that financed the project.
Suspicious bags or cases are identified with a handheld laser scanner so they
can be manually inspected with the owner at the plane's destination.
detection system has been tested on one route between a U.K. and an overseas airport.
With 36,000 bags inspected, Advantage West Midlands said it was a great success
and is ready to be installed on major international air routes that are sources
of bushmeat smuggling.
Trade and importation of bushmeat, which includes smoked
monkeys, gorilla heads, flying rats and endangered species, is prohibited by the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and poses a danger to
humans and livestock, as the meat is usually infected with disease.
process is great news for British farmers and the government, who may still fear
a repeat of the foot-and-mouth epidemic, which cost the country millions and was
traced to an illegal meat import," said Mike Lamb, managing director of Cargo
of catching mad cow disease overblown: study
July 22, 2004
CanWest News Service
-- A new Statistics Canada study suggests, according to this story, that fears
about getting the human version of mad cow disease could be wildly misplaced,
considering there is no known case of someone contracting the disease in Canada.
as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), it is the form of the illness associated
with the consumption of BSE-infected beef. The report says there has been only
one vCJD death in Canada and it involved a man who had been infected in Britain.
Gilmour, an analyst with Statistics Canada, was quoted as saying in an interview
that, "There have been no deaths from someone contracting the variant form
of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in Canada. As far as we know, there have been no
people who have contracted the disease in Canada. ¡¦ But really, in context, it
is a very rare disease, and maybe the attention given to it is a little extreme."
report was quoted as saying that, "Between 1979 and 2001, Canadians were
more likely to die from extreme cold or from falling off a ladder or scaffold
than from CJD."
Deaths also are rare from so-called classic CJD, which
is not related to mad cow disease but for which the causes are mostly unknown
or hereditary. There were 598 deaths between 1979 and 2001. The symptoms are similar
to those of other neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease. The only
way to confirm the diagnosis is to examine the brain tissue after death.
and Japan set to begin third round of beef trade talks
from the U.S. and Japan were scheduled to begin a third round of discussions in
Tokyo on Wednesday aimed at reopening the Japanese market to U.S. beef, which
has been banned in the wake of disagreements over testing for bovine spongiform
Japan has demanded BSE testing of all slaughtered cattle ?a
policy the U.S. claims is unnecessary. However, a number of recent reports have
indicated that Japanese leaders may soon be ready to shift their stance. (See
Japan said to have backed off 100 percent BSE testing demand at trade meeting,
Meatingplace.com, July 2, 2004; Sources say Japan may abandon blanket BSE testing,
Meatingplace.com, July 12, 2004; and Japanese panel: Eliminating BSE tests for
young cattle a possibility, Meatingplace.com, July 19, 2004.)
This set of talks
follows two earlier rounds ?one in Tokyo in May and one in Colorado in June. After
this third round the two sides are expected to compile a report and reach a conclusion
on the issue during high-level talks next month.
Along with 30 other nations,
Japan banned American beef last December after BSE was discovered in Washington
state. Before the ban, Japan was the most lucrative overseas market for U.S. beef,
and American officials are hoping that convincing Tokyo to lift its ban might
persuade other countries to do the same.