10/11
2004

ISSUE:
137

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USDA Releases Transport Security Guide
October 06, 2004

Source of Article: http://www.meatami.com/

Guidance is now available to help the commercial agricultural transportation industry enhance security measures to help prevent a potential terrorist attack. This voluntary guidance was created through a partnership of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference (AFTC) of the American Trucking Associations (ATA).

This guidance, USDA/AFTC Guide for Security Practices in Transporting Agricultural and Food Commodities, is meant to protect people, property, products, processes, information, and information systems. When taken together, the agriculture, food and transportation components are vital to the Nation¡¯s economy and public health.

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), as a part of the partnership between USDA and the AFTC, surveyed approximately 24,000 commercial agricultural and food transporters to identify potential security vulnerabilities during the transportation of agricultural and food products throughout the farm-to-table continuum, and to evaluate appropriate countermeasures to mitigate those potential vulnerabilities. The survey findings and analysis have been provided to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and used in these guidelines, as appropriate. Information and recommendations contained in this document are intended as voluntary guidelines for the safe and secure transport and handling of products delivered by over-the-road food transporters.

For guidance specific to meat, poultry and egg products please refer to Food Safety and Security for the Transportation and Distribution of Meat, Poultry and Egg Products, published by the Food Safety and Inspection Service.

As an additional resource, AFTC publishes a Resources Directory for Security Practices in the Transportation of Agricultural and Food Commodities. It provides methods and tools for companies to assess threat vulnerabilities and implement security plans to protect against intentional contamination or disruption, including terrorist attacks.

The USDA/AFTC Security Guide and AFTC Resources Directory are both available in hard copy or on CD-Rom.

For a copy of this Guidance, go to http://www.meatami.com/

FOOD SAFETY PARTNERSHIPS

Source of Article: http://www.meatnews.com/

USDA announces cooperative partnerships for meat safety.
USDA¡¯s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced that $275,000 will be awarded to nine states to help educate food animal producers about production practices that promote food safety.Through cooperative agreements, FSIS provides states with funding and resources to develop state-level animal production food safety partnerships. FSIS enters into these agreements with state Departments of Agriculture and/or state animal health agencies to encourage development of HACCP-compatible animal production food safety practices, FSIS explained in a release.¡°The partnerships between FSIS and these nine states will further enhance communication and cooperation and will improve food safety practices on the farm,¡± Acting FSIS Administrator Dr. Barbara Masters said. ¡°These initiatives provide critically important information to producers about minimizing potentially dangerous pathogens.¡±

The states that will receive funding to support their animal and egg production food safety programs in 2004 are: Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia.

The funds will support a variety of educational programs and initiatives, including:* Demonstrations of best management practices for producers;

* Methods to improve humane handling of livestock;
* Antibiotic residue avoidance, and;
* Compliance with the Food and Drug Administration¡¯s ruminant feed ban.

The development and implementation of best management practices to reduce foodborne pathogens before slaughter is one of the goals outlined in USDA's food safety vision paper, ¡°Enhancing Public Health: Strategies for the Future.¡± The science-based initiatives outlined in the vision document will help FSIS better understand, predict and prevent microbiological contamination of meat and poultry products, improving health outcomes for American families
.

State health inspectors close 2 York County, Pa., Taco Bell restaurants
October 3, 2004
Knight-Ridder Tribune
Sean Adkins, York Daily Record, Pa.
A Pennsylvania state health inspector was cited as recently closing two local Taco Bell restaurants and ran a follow-up inspection on a third location of the fast-food chain.
The story says that in August, a customer complained to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Food Safety and Laboratory Services about soiled conditions at the KFC/Taco Bell at 450 Shrewsbury Commons.
Mounds of dirt and food lay on the floor under the cooking area, the restaurant had unclean tables and an employee had continued to use a tong that had dropped to the floor, according to the health report.
On Aug. 24, state health inspector Jerry Heisey ran the first of three inspections at the store and found multiple violations such as old adhering food debris on most clean utensils stored over the three-bay sink and food particles stuck to walls.
All the floors in the food preparation area had an "excessive" amount of old food, dirt and standing water, the report states.
The report was quoted as saying, "The walk-in freezer is a disaster. There is food stored on the floor, old food on the floor and a pool of unidentified substance." That inspection resulted in a score of zero, and the restaurant was closed "due to the gross unsanitary conditions." The bureau issued KFC/Taco Bell a warning letter -- a correspondence that requests that a business respond with a detailed outline of its corrective-action plan.
Heisey returned the next day to KFC/Taco Bell to run a compliance inspection.
The inspector found that the under-counter refrigerator was still not working and that the warmer shelving had an accumulation of old adhering food debris.
Despite the infractions, KFC/Taco Bell scored an 88 and re-opened for business.
Sally George, a spokeswoman for Taco Bell, was cited as saying Taco Bell took actions to correct the issues and has worked with the state health department to ensure the restaurant remains in compliance, adding, "We have retrained all of our workers on food safety issues. We take these things very seriously. We are meeting all standards." A Sept. 28 routine food safety inspection of the restaurant netted a score of 95 with two points lost to food debris stuck to the inside of a microwave.

Travel health advisory: Gastrointestinal illness while traveling
October 5, 2004
Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/tmp-pmv/2004/gastro041005_e.html
Each year, thousands of Canadian sun-seekers may be returning home with more than just memories of their trip. Nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea can be some of the more unpleasant side effects from a get-away. The risk of acquiring gastrointestinal illness in tropical and sub-tropical locations can be high for many travellers.
Diarrhea or "tourista", is the most common medical problem affecting travellers to developing countries and other tourist destinations. Travellers' diarrhea is an intestinal infection caused by bacteria, parasites, or viruses transmitted primarily from contaminated food or water.
Bacteria are the most common cause of gastrointestinal illness. The most common causes include Escherichia coli, Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella species and Shegella species.. Less common causes include the Aeromonas, Pleasiomonas and Yersinia species and non-cholera vibrio species and rarely the Vibrio cholerae species.
Parasites that cause acute diarrhea in travellers include Giardia lamblia, entamoeba histolytica and cryptosporidium among others. Giardiasis is the most common form of diarrhea persisting for weeks after travellers return home.
Norwalk virus (NV) and Norwalk-like viruses (NLV) are common forms of viral gastroenteritis with outbreaks generally occurring where people congregate in close quarters for extended periods. Outbreaks of NV and NLV have been previously reported on cruise ships, trains and on land-based bus tours. Rotavirus is a less common intestinal infection.
The table below illustrates examples of laboratory confirmed cases of diarrheal illness in returning Canadian travellers reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada's Travel Medicine Program in 2003. This is by no means a complete report but serves as a reminder that diarrheal illness does occur in Canadian travellers.
Causes of Diarrheal Illness
Destinations Where Illness was Acquired
Bacteria
Salmonella Cuba, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Thailand, St. Lucia, Costa Rica, Morocco, Czech Republic, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, El Salvador, Hong Kong, Congo
Campylobacter Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Ecuador, India , Morocco, Romania
Shigella Mexico, Cuba, Costa Rica, India, Dominican Republic, Congo, Chile
Yersinia enterocolitica Cuba, Ecuador, Tonga
Vibrio
Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, India
Parasitic
Giardia, Entamoeba, Cryptosporidium, Hymenolepsisana Haiti, Brazil, India, Mexico, Thailand, Romania
Source: National Enteric Surveillance Program
Episodes of travellers' diarrhea usually begin abruptly, either during travel or soon after returning home. Although usually mild and self-limiting, travellers' diarrhea can adversely affect the quality of a vacation or the success of a business trip.
Travellers' diarrhea is avoidable. The risk of illness will depend on the quality and purity of the food and water consumed, and the use of good personal hygiene practices.
Food-borne gastrointestinal illness
Contaminated food is the most common cause of travellers' diarrhea. The highest risk foods include custards, mousses, potato salads, hollandaise sauce, mayonnaise and seafood. Salad bars, raw vegetables and fruits that cannot easily be cleaned - such as grapes, strawberries and raspberries. Although eating food purchased from street vendors can enhance the traveller's cross-cultural experience, many lack adequate sanitary facilities and proper refrigeration, allowing for an increased risk of travellers' diarrhea.
Water-borne gastrointestinal illness
While most drinking water in Canada is treated to remove organisms which can cause illness, this may not always be the case in other countries. For instance, if untreated water is used to wash or prepare food, the food can become contaminated with disease-causing organisms.
Water-borne diarrheal illness usually results from the ingestion of viruses and parasites in water contaminated by human or agricultural fecal waste. The lesser importance of water as a cause of travellers' diarrhea is likely due to the relatively lower concentration of contaminating organisms in liquid rather than solid foods.
Prevention of gastrointestinal illness
National authorities in many countries with high tourist populations have been taking specific measures to minimize the traveller's risk of acquiring a gastrointestinal illness. National programs to improve conditions can include training of hotel and resort food handlers in basic sanitation and food processing measures, unannounced inspections of facilities with special attention to critical food handling procedures, and the formulation of recommendations for each inspected hotel and resort facility.
Recommendations
The Public Health Agency of Canada reminds travellers that travel to tropical and sub-tropical climates and to developing countries poses the greatest risk for gastrointestinal disease. Travellers should discuss food and water precautions with a travel medicine clinic or their physician prior to departure.
Canadian travellers are reminded to practice heightened personal hygiene including good hand-washing practices. Using soap and hot water and lathering for at least 20 seconds is the single most important procedure for preventing infections. This is because disease-causing micro-organisms can frequently be found on the hands. Alternatively, travellers can use waterless, alcohol-based antiseptic hand rinses.
The Public Health Agency of Canada strongly recommends the following key principles regarding food and water precautions to minimize their risk of exposure to disease.
The key principles to remember are: boil it, cook it, peel it or leave it!
Eat only food that has been well-cooked and is still hot when served.
Drink only purified water that has been boiled or disinfected with chlorine or iodine, or commercially bottled water in sealed containers.
Drinking carbonated drinks without ice, including beer, is usually safe.
Avoid ice, unless it has been made with purified water.
Boil unpasteurized milk.
Avoid unpasteurized dairy products and ice cream.
Avoid uncooked foods - especially shellfish - and salads. Fruit and vegetables that can be peeled are usually safe.
Avoid food from street vendors.
Wash hands before eating or drinking.
Safe beverages include carbonated soft drinks, carbonated bottled water, bottled fruit juices, alcoholic beverages without ice, and hot beverages such as tea. If required, water purification may be achieved by either heat, filtration or chemical disinfection. Boiling is the most effective way of producing water that is safe to drink. Simply bringing water to a boil is sufficient to kill all of the organisms that can cause travellers' diarrhea.
Travellers are also reminded that too much sun, alcohol and spicy food may disturb their usual digestive processes. Protection from sun exposure, and none or moderate consumption of alcohol and spicy food are recommended.
If nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea or vomiting develops during travel or after returning, seek medical attention if the symptoms persist longer than 48 hours, or if there is bloody diarrhea. Most cases of traveller's diarrhea are self-limiting and clear up in a few days. Diarrhea can cause dehydration if the lost fluid and electrolyes are not replaced. The most important aspect of treating diarrhea is rehydration. It is essential to drink more fluids as soon as diarrhea starts. The Public Health Agency of Canada's Committee to Advise on Tropical Medicine and Travel recommends the following homemade oral rehydration solutions.
Homemade Oral Rehydration Solutions
Ingredients
Amount
Recipe 1
Fruit juice
Honey (pasteurized)
Salt
Baking soda
240 ml (1 cup)
2.5 ml (1?2 tsp)
0.5 ml (1/8 tsp)
1 ml (1/4 tsp)
Recipe 2
Purified water
Salt
Sugar
1 litre
5 ml (1 tsp)
40 ml (8 tsps)
World Health Organization's oral rehydration salts are widely available in developing countries.
Source : Committee to Advise on Tropical Medicine and TraVel (CATMAT) / "Advisory Committee Statement on Travellers' Diarrhea", CCDR , Vol.27 (ACS-3), March 15, 2001.
Travellers may want to take with them over-the-counter medicines for the treatment of diarrhea should they become ill during their trip. Several products are available. In consultation with a travel clinic or your personal physician, the appropriate product can be recommended. Imodium¢ç (loperamide HCL) is an effective antimotility agent available to decrease the duration and severity of diarrhea in mild to moderate cases in adults and children of > 2 years of age. Caution should always be exercised when using antimotility agents with children as they have an increased risk of severe complications.
Bismuth subsalicylate is an anti-secretory, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory product that is also effective in treating mild to moderate travellers' diarrhea in adults. However, its effectiveness can be delayed, requiring frequent dosing. As well, if the traveller is taking doxycycline-an antibiotic medication to prevent malaria-it will interfere with the absorption of bismuth subsalicylate.
Any traveller who has fever and diarrhea during or following a visit to an area where malaria occurs must have a blood test to rule out the presence of malaria in their system.
The Public Health Agency of Canada does not recommend the general use of antibiotics as a preventive measure. However, following an individual risk assessment, antibiotics may be prescribed by a physician for use by high-risk, short-term travellers-such as those for whom a brief illness cannot be tolerated; those with increased susceptibility to travellers' diarrhea; and those who are immunosuppressed or have chronic illnesses-should they develop diarrhea or stomach illness in a location where medical help is not available

New Biosensor Rapidly Detects Deadly Foodborne Pathogen

Source of Article: http://www.newswise.com/

Tue 05-Oct-2004

The pathogen responsible for a precooked chicken recall last summer will become easier to detect in ready-to-eat meats, thanks to a new biosensor developed by scientists at Purdue University.

STORY AND PHOTO CAN BE FOUND AT:
http://news.uns.purdue.edu/

Newswise ?The pathogen responsible for a precooked chicken recall last summer will become easier to detect in ready-to-eat meats, thanks to a new biosensor developed by scientists at Purdue University.

A team of food scientists has developed a sensor that can detect the potentially deadly bacteria Listeria monocytogenes in less than 24 hours at concentrations as low as 1,000 cells per milliliter of fluid - an amount about the size of a pencil eraser. The sensor also is selective enough to recognize only the species monocytogenes.

"The selectivity, sensitivity and rapidity of this sensor represent a vast improvement over the types of test kits that are currently available commercially," said Arun Bhunia, associate professor of food microbiology and one of the sensor's developers. "Taken together, those qualities make this research an important contribution in the field of food safety."

Listeriosis, the illness caused by consuming Listeria-contaminated foods like deli meats or cheese, leads to higher rates of hospitalization and mortality than any other foodborne illness, said Tao Geng, research associate in the department of food science and the sensor's co-developer.

"The mortality rate for people with listeriosis is very high, and for this reason, the FDA has a zero-tolerance rule for Listeria. There should be none at all in any ready-to-eat products," he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 2,500 people develop listeriosis every year, and approximately one in every five cases is fatal. The elderly, pregnant women, newborn infants and individuals with compromised immune systems are most at risk of contracting the disease.

The bacteria classified as Listeria include six different species, but only L. monocytogenes can infect humans. This makes it especially important to develop highly selective sensors that can detect only L. monocytogenes, Bhunia said.

"The ability to distinguish this one species from all others makes this a very powerful sensor. No other sensor today can do that," he said.

The sensor also is selective enough to recognize cells of L. monocytogenes when other types of foodborne contaminants, such as salmonella or E. coli, are present.

Known as an "optical biosensor," the device uses light to detect the presence of a target organism or molecule. Bhunia and his colleagues have been developing this sensor for three years and demonstrate its function in the current issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

The sensor is made of a small piece of optical fiber - a clear, solid, plastic material that transmits light through its core. The fiber is coated with a type of molecule called an antibody, which specifically recognizes L. monocytogenes and captures it, binding it to the fiber. When the fiber is placed in a liquid food solution, any L. monocytogenes in the sample will stick to the fiber.

The presence of L. monocytogenes is verified by the addition of a second antibody, which not only recognizes L. monocytogenes but also carries a molecule that produces a fluorescent glow when exposed to laser light. This antibody attaches to the L. monocytogenes bound to the fiber and acts as a flag, signaling the pathogen's presence when laser light is passed through the liquid.

Bhunia expects the sensor to be ready for industrial use in another year.

Many tests currently in use require a high concentration of pathogen cells - typically from 1 million to 10 million cells per milliliter of fluid, Geng said. The tests also rely on a process known as "enrichment," which occurs when a sample believed to be contaminated grows for a period of time in a nutrient broth to allow any pathogen cells present to multiply.

The enrichment process increases the concentration of cells present, making it possible for today's sensors to detect their presence, but it can take as long as seven days to complete a test using conventional methods, Geng said.

Other tests rely on DNA markers, but these also can take days to process, he said. That's a problem because by the time test results come back, products may already be in food suppliers' warehouses or on store shelves, he said.

Last summer, for example, a Georgia company recalled nearly 37,000 pounds of precooked chicken products that may have been contaminated by Listeria. The chicken products had been distributed to warehouses in Georgia and Arkansas, as well as to grocery stores in Maryland and New York, when the recall was issued.

"To overcome the time delay and allow for rapid detection before foods are shipped, you need to be able to detect a lower number of the pathogen cells at the processing plant," Geng said.

The ability to detect L. monocytogenes at low levels is essential because most of the foods susceptible to Listeria contamination are ready-to-eat products, which are cooked or otherwise processed for human consumption before they make it to a grocer's shelves.

"Since precooked meats have already been processed, the bulk of microorganisms that were present in the raw product have been eliminated," Bhunia said.

"We don't expect high numbers of microorganisms in processed products, so we need to be able to detect extremely low levels of contamination."

Detection at low levels also is important for another reason, Bhunia said.

"Listeria can grow at refrigeration temperatures, so if a product has a level of Listeria low enough to evade detection when it's tested at the processor, that Listeria still can grow in the home refrigerator to a level that makes it infective to people at risk."

While Bhunia said there's no known precise number of cells it takes to infect someone, most food safety experts suggest from 100 to 1,000 cells can cause illness.

Cooking would kill many of the L. monocytogenes cells that can grow at refrigeration temperature, but many ready-to-eat products, such as deli meats, smoked fish, cheeses and hot dogs, aren't always cooked by consumers before consumption, Bhunia said.

Bhunia said his next goal is to optimize the test conditions of the biosensor so a sample can be processed in one working day and be monitored remotely via computer.

"Our end goal is to use this technology to keep Listeria monocytogenes-tainted foods out of the food supply," Bhunia said. "To do this, we will continue to develop ways to make this device more user-friendly."

Bhunia's research was supported through a cooperative agreement with the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Center for Food Safety Engineering at Purdue. Mark Morgan, associate professor with the Purdue Department of Food Science Sensors and Controls Laboratory, also participated in the research.


Related Web sites:

Purdue University Center for Food Safety Engineering: http://www.cfse.purdue.edu/

Centers for Disease Control Listeriosis information: http://www.cdc.gov/

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OA/topics/lm.htm

PHOTO CAPTION:

Purdue researchers have developed a new biosensor that can detect minute quantities of the deadly foodborne bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. Here, research associate Tao Geng places an optical fiber, which is part of the biosensor, into a sample to test for the bacteria's presence as Arun Bhunia, professor of food science, watches. (Purdue Agricultural Communications photo/Mike Kerper)

A publication-quality photo is available at http://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/+2004/bhunia-sensor.jpg

ABSTRACT

Detection of low levels of Listeria monocytogenes cells using a fiber optic immunosensor

Tao Geng, Mark T. Morgan and Arun K. Bhunia

Biosensor technology has great potential to meet the need for sensitive and near real-time microbial detection from foods. An antibody-based fiberoptic biosensor to detect low levels of Listeria monocytogenes following an enrichment step was developed. The principle of the sensor is a sandwich immunoassay where a rabbit polyclonal antibody was first immobilized on polystyrene fiber waveguides through a biotin-streptavidin reaction to capture Listeria cells on the fiber. Capture of cells on the fibers was confirmed by scanning electron microscopy. A cyanine 5-labeled murine monoclonal antibody C11E9 was used to generate a specific fluorescent signal, which was acquired by launching a 635 nm laserlight from an Analyte-2000 and collected by a photodetector at 670 to 710 nm. This immunosensor was specific for L. monocytogenes and showed significantly higher signal than other Listeria species or other microorganisms including Escherichia coli, Enterococcus faecalis, Salmonella enterica, Lactobacillus plantarum, Carnobacterium gallinarum, Hafnia alvei, Corynebacterium glutamicum, Enterobacter aerogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Serratia marcesces in pure or mixed culture setup. Fiberoptic results could be obtained within 2.5 hours of sampling. Sensitivity threshold was about 4.3 x 103 CFU/ml for a pure culture of L. monocytogenes grown at 37c. When L. monocytogenes was mixed with lactic acid bacteria or grown at 10c with 3.5% NaCl, the detection threshold was 4.1x104 CFU/ml or 2.8x107 CFU/ml, respectively. In less than 24 hours, this method could detect L. monocytogenes in hot dog or bologna naturally contaminated or artificially inoculated with 10 to 100 CFU/g after enrichment in buffered Listeria enrichment broth.

Listeria ID kit receives AOAC approval!

Frederick, MD, October 11, 2004 - Microbiology International, a leading North American distributor of automated microbiology solutions has recently received Performance Tested Methods Certification (Certificate No. 060402)
from the AOAC Research Institute on Listeria ID, their revolutionary identification kit that enables laboratories to rapidly confirm which Listeria species they have isolated directly from a selective isolation plate.
Each year an alarming number of food recalls take place in the United States due to pathogen contamination. These recalls cost food and ingredient manufacturers millions of dollars per year and jeopardize the health of many Americans who may consume the contaminated products. Because of this, the food industry needs to be vigilant when it comes to controlling microbiology contamination throughout its production process. One of the key bacterial pathogens which can find its way into a wide range of food products is Listeria monocytogenes. While a number of Listeria species are not considered potential human pathogens, Listeria monocytogenes is a great threat. It is important that food testing laboratories isolating Listeria species can rapidly confirm which species they are dealing with.

Listeria ID has been designed to enable users to generate rapid confirmation of the identity of any Listeria species that they isolate from food or food ingredient samples. The product is normally used on "Listeria-like colonies" that have been isolated on a selective agar plate. One colony is then taken and suspended in the Listeria suspending broth (supplied in the kit). The bacterial suspension is then added to all 12 wells of the micro-well strips provided. Finally the haemolysin reagent (containing stabilized red blood cells) is added to well twelve. The micro-well strip is then incubated for 18-24 hours in a non-fan-assisted incubator at 35-37C.

The product then delivers its results within 18-24 hours. The unique feature of this product is an in-well haemolysis test which is based on the ability of a Listeria species isolate to lyse red blood cells. This is one of the key pathogenicity markers and provides a clear discrimination between Listeria monocytogenes (haemolytic) and Listeria innocua (non-haemolytic). The substrate reactions are easily read, well 1 is esculin and should have turned black for all Listeria species isolates tested, the next 10 wells are sugars and will have either remained purple (negative) or turned yellow (positive). The final haemolysis well will either show a button of red blood cells with clear liquid (negative) or a cloudy liquid with no red cell button visible (positive / haemolytic). The results are recorded and used to produce a four digit code which is then input into the dedicated software program. The program analyzes the four digit code and suggests the most probable Listeria species. The Listeria ID kit offers several advantages over the conventional method and other miniaturized biochemical test systems for Listeria species
identification and confirmation. The first advantage is that Listeria ID strips can be used with bacterial colonies taken directly from selective agar plates. Most other systems require the test to be performed on colonies from non-selective plates. Additionally, only one colony is required per test, so there is no problem of multiple species contamination, all distinct colonies can be tested separately. Furthermore, the multi-well strip is a self-contained test system which requires absolutely no setup and delivers the complete result without the need of additional confirmatory tests such as CAMP or a separate blood plate for haemolysis. Finally, the dedicated
software program that interprets the results will deliver a most
probable species result to confirm the identity of the isolate. The software also incorporates a new feature which ensures that in the case of introduction of a non-Listeria species isolate, the program will identify, then prompt the operator to go back to re-confirm that it is indeed a member of the genus Listeria and suggest methods to further confirm.
Since its founding in 1997, Microbiology International's product line has grown to some 40 core pieces of automated testing equipment as well as hundreds of kits, consumables, media, and companion supplies. Company officials claim their automated tools typically maximize the efficiency of laboratory tasks at a rate of up to 70% . Microbiology International,
LLC, is headquartered in Frederick, Maryland with sales personnel located in all regions of the US For more information, call 800-EZMICRO (800-396-4276) or visit www.800EZMICRO.COM

Acrylamides little threat, panel says

By Doug Payne
Source of Article: http://www.medicalpost.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. ?Acrylamides pose little threat to the U.S. population, partly because people don't eat enough of the chemicals to risk the mutagenic effects leading to cancer, an expert panel commissioned by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has reported.

The NTP committee, chaired by Jeanne Manson (PhD) of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, concluded that most Americans would get about 0.43 mcg per kilogram of body weight a day in the diet compared to 0.67 from smoking.

Comparable amounts in lab mice and rats do not cause cancer, they said. "Considering the low level of estimated human exposure to acrylamides derived from a variety of sources, the expert panel expressed negligible concern for adverse reproductive and developmental effects for exposures in the general population," the report said.

Acrylamide is naturally formed in some starchy foods and is a potential carcinogen.

Children Are Facing High Risks From Pesticide Poisoning
Better Protection and Awareness Raising Needed, UN Agencies Say
Source of Article: http://www.prnewswire.com/

WASHINGTON and ROME, Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Children are facing higher risks from pesticides than adults and need greater protection against these chemicals, particularly in developing countries, according to a joint report
published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Pesticide poisoning is a serious health problem that disproportionately
affects infants and children, the UN report, called "Child Pesticide Poisoning: Information for Advocacy and Action" and issued this week in Geneva, said. The number of children affected is unknown but, based on the experience of many countries, likely to be large. The report highlights both
the magnitude of the problem and the need to put more efforts into better reaching and helping the rural, disadvantaged populations who are most affected by pesticide poisoning.

Pesticide poisoning
It has been reported that an estimated one million to five million cases of pesticide poisonings occur every year, resulting in several thousands of fatalities, including children, the report said. "Most of the poisonings take place in rural areas of developing countries, where safeguards typically are inadequate or lacking altogether. Although developing countries use 25 percent of the world's production of pesticides, they experience 99 percent of the deaths due to pesticide poisoning," the report said. Children face a higher risk from pesticides because they may be more
susceptible than adults or more greatly exposed than adults, the report said. Children's behavior, playing and ignorance of risks, result in greater potential for exposure. Malnutrition and dehydration increase their sensitivity to pesticides. Currently around 200 million children are suffering from malnutrition.
Pesticide poisoning can occur via breathing, drinking or eating, or through the skin or mucous membranes. The symptoms resulting from acute poisoning may range from fatigue, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, to respiratory and neurological effects that may be life-threatening. Chronic,
and even low-level exposure to pesticides has been linked to cancer, birth defects, and damage the nervous and the functioning of the endocrine system.

Sources of exposure
Diet can be a major source of exposure for children. As they grow, children drink more water and eat more food, per body weight, than do adults. Water and food containing pesticide residues may therefore be a source of chronic, low-level or high-level pesticide exposure. Growing food on or near contaminated soils, using contaminated water on
crops or for washing puts people -- and children -- at particular risk. When a mother to be is exposed to pesticides, the child becomes exposed as well, before birth, while still in the womb. Small children can also come into contact with persistent and bio-accumulative pesticides through breast
feeding. Protecting pregnant women and lactating mothers from exposure to toxic contaminants is therefore crucial.
Pesticides used in the field or in the household are often stored improperly in or around farmers' homes where family members can easily access them. These toxic substances may contaminate food or water and cause air
pollution. In some instances, the empty pesticide containers are reused to store water and food. Children tend to explore their immediate environment, play close to the
ground and put things in their mouths. As a consequence, they may receive significant doses of pesticides from soils, dusts and contaminated objects that can be found in rural areas, homes or gardens.

Poverty
Poverty can put children in potentially high-risk situations. In poor families, children often help out on family farms where pesticides are used. Pesticide users, including teenagers, may lack access to protective equipment such as gloves and masks, and receive no training. As a result, pesticides are often being used by young workers carelessly, and without protection. In many developing countries, the marketing and advertisement of pesticides is often uncontrolled or illicit. Misbranded or unlabelled formulations, including ready-made solutions in soft drink bottles and other unlabelled liquid containers, are sold at open stands. Low retail prices
promote pesticide use but weak legislation and inadequate law enforcement fail to control risks.

Minimizing the risk
To reduce pesticide poisoning, FAO, UNEP and WHO urge:

* to reduce and eliminate possible sources of pesticide exposures to children at home and at work;

* to keep pesticides out of children's reach and store them securely in containers that are properly labeled and use child-proof tops;

* to reduce the use of agricultural pesticides through Integrated Pest Management (IPM);

* to train health care providers on the recognition and management of pesticide poisoning;

* to provide training for people on how to use pesticides judiciously and how to prevent exposure;

* to run information and education campaigns via TV and radio programs;

* to reduce the risks associated with the use of pesticides through a comprehensive life-cycle approach, i.e. addressing all aspects of pesticide management from manufacturing until use or disposal following the FAO International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides.

Two key international conventions are aiming at reducing the adverse health and environmental aspects of pesticides: The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), created to reduce and eliminate 12 POPs
of which nine are pesticides, and the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade. The Rotterdam Convention facilitates information
exchange on a broad range of potentially hazardous chemicals and gives importing countries the power to decide whether or not they want to receive future imports of certain chemicals.

SOURCE Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Web Site: http://www.fao.org/english/newsroom

Health department inspects restaurants, seeks source of E. Coli

Source of Article: http://www.mydjconnection.com/

By CHRIS CLINE Daily Journal Staff Writer


PARK HILLS -- The St. Francois County Health Department conducted routine inspections at two local restaurants on Monday in an attempt to identify where a strain of E. coli 0157:H7 originated that infected a 2-year-old Bonne Terre girl. "We have not made any direct links to any of the food establishments that we inspected with the origin of strain of E. coli 0157:H7," said John Peacock, Environmental Public Health Specialist. "We were given information from the family of the infected person of places they had eaten prior to being infected. Typically we like to have nine days of food history prior to the infection. The family struggled with naming anything beyond the day prior to the illness." Peacock said in addition to the two restaurants, the family named a temporary food establishment, such as an event, that is no longer in operation. "We also took a water sample out of the private well at the residence of the family," Peacock said. "It came back negative." Liz Maserang, Communicable Disease Coordinator with the St. Francois County Health Department, said people need to realize how serious this is." Maserang said the County Health Department received test results on Friday from the Missouri Department of Health that identified the strain of E. coli as E. coli 0157:H7. "We want to stress to the public how serious this is," said Maserang. "People really need to pay attention and take precautions when eating out and eating in their own homes." Emilie Allen remains on life support at Cardinal Glennon Hospital after contracting the strain of E. coli on Sept. 18. As of this morning, Allen's mother Valerie Pinkston-Allen said there was no change in her daughter's condition. "Emilie is still on life support," said Allen. "Hopefully in a couple of days she can be taken off." Allen was put on life support on Sept. 29 because she was having problems. In addition to being placed on life support, Allen's kidneys shut down on Sept. 24 and she is now undergoing dialysis. A benefit account has been set up for Emilie Allen at First State Community Bank. According to a fact sheet released by the county health department, anyone can become infected with E. coli 0157:H7, but children and the elderly are more likely to develop serious complications. The illness is acquired by ingesting food or water that contains the bacteria. The bacteria can be found in the intestines of some cattle and contamination of the meat can occur during the slaughtering process. Eating meat that is rare or inadequately cooked is a common way of receiving the infection. Infection can also occur by contaminating surfaces or utensils with raw meat and then preparing uncooked food on those surfaces without washing them. Vegetables, fruits and unpasteurized fruit juices can also be contaminated. Petting or handling animals that are infected without washing hands immediately is another way the infection can be transmitted. Person-to-person transmission can also occur if infected people do not wash their hands after using the toilet. Symptoms can include severe diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Blood is often seen in the stool. Fever may or may not be present. Symptoms usually appear three days after exposure, but may be as short as one day or as long as nine days. In some cases, particularly with children under 5 years of age, the infection causes a complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome. This is a serious disease in which the kidneys fail. Most people recover without treatment from E. coli 0157:H7 within five to 10 days. Medications such as Imodium or Lomotil should not be given to people who are suspected of having E. coli 0157:H7.

Salmonella outbreak rises to 350 cases
(Filed: 05/10/2004)

Tuesday 5 October 2004

Source of Article: http://news.telegraph.co.uk/

Health officials are investigating a large rise in the number of cases of salmonella food poisoning.The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said that more than 350 cases of Salmonella Newport had been reported so far in an outbreak which was first traced early last month.While there are various types of the bacteria, tests have shown that the strains found in the latest outbreak were identical. The HPA said that the likely source of the outbreak was lettuce from fast-food or take-away shops.There have been separate outbreaks reported in north-east Lincolnshire, Birmingham and the West Midlands, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.Dr Bob Adak, who is leading the investigation for the HPA, said: "We usually only see around 150 cases of this particular strain of salmonella each year, so when these separate outbreaks were reported to us we knew something was happening."Dr Adak said the HPA had used questionnaires to find any common foods eaten in the days before people became ill.Salmonella Newport has the same symptoms as other strains of salmonella, including diarrhoea, vomiting and fever. It is usually spread by undercooked food or cross-contamination from raw foods in the kitchen. Around 15,000 cases of salmonella are reported to the HPA each year. While the most common source of Salmonella Newport infection is chicken and turkey, a national outbreak in 2001 was caused by lettuce.Judith Hilton, head of microbiological safety at the Food Standards Agency, said the risk of food poisoning can be reduced by washing food, using a clean kitchen and good personal hygiene.

Food scientists design sensor for listeria detection

Source of Article: http://www.foodnavigator.com/

06/10/2004 - Food scientists continue to roll out tools in the fight against foodborne pathogens as researchers in the US design a new biosensor to detect the potentially deadly bacteria Listeria monocytogenes.The antibody-based fibre-optic biosensor created by food scientists at Purdue University can detect the listeria bacteria in less than 24 hours at concentrations as low as 1,000 cells per millilitre of fluid ?equivalent to the size of a pencil rubber.According to the researchers, the sensor is selective enough to recognise only the species monocytogenes.Listeria monocytogenes (Lm), an emerging foodborne disease because the role of food in its transmission has only recently been recognised, can cause abortion and stillbirth, and in infants and persons with a weakened immune system it may lead to septicemia (blood poisoning) and meningitis. The disease is most often associated with consumption of foods such as soft cheese and processed meat products that are kept refrigerated for a long time because Lm can grow at low temperatures. Outbreaks of listeriosis have been reported from many countries, including Australia, Switzerland, France and the US. Two recent outbreaks of Listeria monocytogenes in France in 2000 and in the USA in 1999 were caused by contaminated pork tongue and hot dogs respectively.

Food safety experts estimate that 100 to 1,000 cells can cause the illness. Cooking kills most of the L. monocytogenes cells that can grow at refrigeration temperature, but ready-to-eat products, such as pates, smoked fish, cheeses and hot dogs, are not always cooked by consumers before consumption. "The selectivity, sensitivity and rapidity of this sensor represent a vast improvement over the types of test kits that are currently available commercially," said Arun Bhunia, associate professor of food microbiology and one of the sensor's developers. The bacteria classified as Listeria include six different species, but only L. monocytogenes can infect humans. The sensor is made of a small piece of optical fibre - a clear, solid, plastic material that transmits light through its core. The fibre is coated with a type of molecule called an antibody, which specifically recognises L. monocytogenes and captures it, binding it to the fibre. When the fibre is placed in a liquid food solution, any L. monocytogenes in the sample will stick to the fibre.

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