Contact us/ Search FoodHACCP.com/ Consulting room/
Internet Journal of Food Safety/ On-Line Courese/ Discussion Room


Sponsorship Q/A

IAFP 2005 call for abstracts
October 28, 2004
International Association for Food Protection
Des Moines, Iowa - The International Association for Food Protection is now accepting abstracts for IAFP 2005 to be held in Baltimore, Maryland, August 14-17, 2005. The deadline for submissions is January 12, 2005. IAFP accepts abstracts online or via E-mail. Call for Abstracts (Submission Form, General Information and Instructions), Speaker Reference Guide, Policy for Commercialism and information on the Developing Scientist Awards Competition are available at our Web site, www.foodprotection.org.
Poster or oral presentation formats are available. Abstracts are limited to 250 words and must report the results of original research pertinent to the subject matter. Papers may also report subject matter of an educational and/or nontechnical nature. The Program Committee will evaluate abstracts submitted for IAFP 2005 for acceptance. Information in the abstract data must not have been previously published in a copyrighted journal.
With a reputation for quality content, the Annual Meeting features over 500 technical, posters and symposia presentations, detailing current information on a variety of topics relating to food safety. The quantity and quality of presentations provide information on the latest methods and technologies available. Top industry, academic and government food safety professionals attend each meeting. This broad mix of more than 1,600 attendees includes professionals in quality control, processing operations, regulatory inspections, consulting groups, risk assessment, research and development, microbiological research, plant management, technical services and HACCP management.
Questions regarding abstract submission should be directed to Bev Brannen, IAFP Public Relations, at bbrannen@foodprotection.org or call 515.276.3344; 800.369.6337.
The International Association for Food Protection is a non-profit educational association of food protection professionals. The Association is dedicated to the education and service of its Members, specifically, as well as industry personnel. The Association provides Members with an information network and forum for professional improvement through its two scientific journals, Journal of Food Protection and Food Protection Trends, educational Annual Meeting, and interaction with other food safety professionals. Membership information can be obtained by calling 800.369.6337; 515.276.3344; fax: 515.276.8655, E-mail: info@foodprotection.org; or Web site: www.foodprotection.org.

FDA Warns Consumers About Risks Associated With Unpasteurized Juice
The Food and Drug Administration today reminded consumers of the dangers associated with drinking unpasteurized fruit and vegetable juices. This warning follows reports that the New York State Departments' of Health and Agriculture and Markets, and local health departments in northern New York are investigating a recent foodborne disease outbreak possibly linked to the consumption of unpasteurized apple cider.

Under FDA regulations, most juice processors are required to use Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles to increase the protection of consumers from illness-causing microbes and other hazards in juices. But not all juice that consumers purchase comes from a facility for which HACCP is required.

In light of this outbreak, FDA would like to remind consumers that there are health risks associated with drinking juice or cider that has not been treated in any way to kill harmful bacteria. Such products may be sold in bottles or by the glass in supermarkets, at farmers markets, at roadside stands, or in some juice bars. Untreated products that are sold in bottles are generally displayed on ice or in refrigerated cases and are required to carry the following warning statement on their label:

WARNING: This product has not been pasteurized and therefore, may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness in children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems.

Untreated products that are fresh squeezed and sold by the glass are not required to carry the warning label statement.

FDA advises consumers that, when in doubt, look for this warning statement on bottled juice and ask if fresh squeezed juice has been treated in a way to kill bacteria.

Consumers who do not wish to risk illness from consumption of raw juices should not drink unpasteurized juices. If you cannot determine if a juice has been processed to destroy harmful bacteria, either don't drink it or bring it to a boil in an open container to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present.

For additional information visit, http://www.cfsan.fda.gov.

Hepatitis A shots for restaurant staff?

County health official wants vaccinations to become mandatory
By Sharon Haddock
Deseret Morning News

Source of Article: http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/

PROVO ?The head of Utah County's health department thinks asking all restaurant employees to get Hepatitis A shots is a no-brainer. After all, an outbreak would deal a very harsh blow to any restaurant.
That's why Dr. Joe Miner says the Utah County Board of Health should make vaccinations mandatory for workers in food establishments.
But the suggestion has left a bad taste in the mouths of Utah Valley restaurant owners, and at least one member of the county health board ?the owner of two popular Utah Valley restaurants ?isn't convinced the county needs a vaccination policy for food-service workers.
"It doesn't really get spread through restaurants at all," said Craig Witham, the board member who owns the Los Hermanos restaurants in Provo and Lindon. "(Hepatitis) isn't airborne like some diseases, and restaurant owners don't want Hepatitis A associated with food services."

Hepatitis A ?or what used to be known as infectious Hepatitis ?is spread hand-to-mouth after exposure to contaminated feces. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, usually accompanied by a fever and jaundice.
The vaccine is extremely effective, even with only the initial dose. Three shots over six months are required for a person to be fully vaccinated.
Owners who require their employees to get the shots must either pay the additional cost ?about $25 for each injection ?or ask employees to bear that cost.Some insurance companies cover the cost but not all.Since many food-service workers are earning a minimum wage that can be a hardship, Witham said.It also is difficult to make certain every employee receives the required series of shots since there's a fairly high turnover rate in the industry.Melva Sine, president of the Utah Restaurant Association, said she doesn't support the effort because restaurant owners are already taking steps to ensure the public's health and safety.She said it becomes essentially an unfunded mandate ?a law requiring compliance without any money attached to pay for it.
Miner said it's true that Utah County hasn't had problems with Hepatitis A outbreaks ?but the potential is there and the fallout would be devastating to a business.
A major outbreak stemming from exposure in a busy restaurant could involve thousands of customers and their families, as well as any out-of-state visitors. They all would need to be given gamma globulin, a shot that would create a rapid but temporary immunity, to help them regain full health."I think it's an important thing to do," Miner said. "The vaccine is so effective. Let's use it."
Miner said if there's major resistance to the mandatory shots, he will instead suggest the industry adopt a "no bare hands" policy ?a suggestion found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Food Code, a reference guide for food-control agencies when they are creating and adopting policies aimed at preventing foodborne illness."That means no ready-to-eat food should be touched with bare hands at any point in the process," Miner said.Miner said if a food handler has Hepatitis A and works at a restaurant but wears gloves, it doesn't become a crisis.
Miner said since the board has been discussing the possibility he's been hearing from a lot of residents and restaurant owners and workers. "It's pretty much been all negative," he said.
A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for Nov. 22 at 4 p.m. in room 1600 in the Health and Justice Building, 151 S. University Ave., Provo.


Source of Article: Northwest Food Processors Association Food Safety News

October 25, 2004

On October 8, the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition announced that the Agency has signed a fi ve-year contract with the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) to provide review and evaluation of topics in the areas of food safety, food security, food processing, and human health. Under the terms of the
Articles are excerpts or summaries from sources named. NWFPA FOOD SAFETY NEWS OCTOBER 25 5
contract, FDA just signed a task order to have IFT develop and conduct food security training for the food industry. The goal of the training is to increase awareness of food security needs and measures that can be taken to increase food security to
reduce the risk for an intentional act of terrorism or contamination using the U.S. food supply. The training will be for small, medium, and large businesses, and provide approaches that each industry may take to reduce the risk for an intentional act of terrorism or contamination using the U.S. food supply.
Source: CFSAN 10/04

Cleaning up the meat cheats
October 26, 2004
Sydney Morning Herald
Food inspectors, according to this editorial, test samples from more than 50 butcher shops in Sydney and the Hunter and find evidence of widespread substitution using cheaper meats. What's more, half the mincemeat samples reveal the presence of sulphur dioxide, a preservative not permitted in fresh meats. Distressing? Certainly for Jews and Muslims, who do not expect to be served pork when they order beef or lamb. Dangerous? Certainly if the added preservative disguises the meat's shelf life and infected meat is served as fresh. Surprising? Not in a time when butchers are made to cut margins to the bone (excuse the pun) just to stay in business and when they think (stupidly, as it turns out) they can avoid vigilance. If they're in the business of the meat cheat, they don't much deserve business survival.
The editorial says that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting avarice as well as sloppiness. Australian beef and lamb prices have jumped markedly because of drought and export demand, particularly from Japan, where the mad cow-inspired ban on American beef is likely to end soon. The price increase, of course, means butchers can make a tidy profit by substituting pork or mutton for beef or lamb mince. It will take more detective work to determine just how much this is responsible for 70 per cent of samples being contaminated with wrong types of meat.
Food authority targeting of any substitution racket is welcome, however, because the heavy penalties, and the increased chance of exposure, will serve as the best deterrent. This problem emerges only months after some retailers were found to be substituting cheaper fish for more expensive species. By some accounts, the fish industry has been much repaired as a result. Now, butchering needs a dose of the same. If butchers, big and small, cannot figuratively and literally clean up their own acts, the law anticipates its own remedies.


Source of Article: http://www.meatnews.com/
A possible victim of CJD victim could have been infected 15 years ago. If a suspected case of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in a man in Ireland is confirmed, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland believes he may have become infected 10-15 years ago from the consumption of contaminated beef products in Ireland.

The FSAI said that this timeframe would be the typical incubation period for the disease. The Authority stressed that bovine spongiform encephalopathy controls in place in Ireland since 1996, are very strict and there are layers of robust control measures to ensure maximum consumer protection in relation to BSE.Dr. John O¡¯Brien, chief executive at FSAI said that the incidence of BSE in Ireland continues to decline in the cattle population, demonstrating that the controls introduced in 1996 and 1997 are working. There are fewer cases of BSE and the vast majority of current cases are in animals born before the introduction of these enhanced controls.¡°The main consumer protection measure has been the removal of specified risk material from the human food chain,¡± he said. ¡°SRM are the parts of an animal most likely to contain BSE infectivity if that animal is incubating the disease. This SRM removal is supervised on a day to day basis by veterinary inspectors. We are confident that the controls in place are ensuring SRM removal and thus consumers are being protected. The FSAI and the Department of Agriculture and Food have been to the forefront in the EU with the most aggressive controls to protect both animals and humans from the BSE agent.¡±He emphasized: ¡°The FSAI, DAF, and the other agencies involved in policing the food chain are working closely together to ensure full compliance and maximum consumer protection. In fact, one of the key factors for establishing the FSAI in 1996 was the BSE crisis. We base our decisions upon the best scientific data and knowledge, and develop inspection and audit controls to ensure maximum consumer protection in relation to meat and meat products. A rigorous policy of safeguards is now firmly established throughout the food chain.¡± O¡¯Brien said that the FSAI¡¯s BSE Scientific Sub-committee continuously reviews these controls and over the past five years has recommended additional control measures when appropriate.

¡°We believe that the controls are proving to be effective, but public confidence can only be maintained through continued vigilance and transparency. The FSAI will continue to be the over-arching watchdog and will sustain its independent audits of the current controls on an ongoing basis. We are confident that based on current controls, consumers of Irish beef are not being exposed to the BSE infective agent,¡± he said.

In Ireland, there is a sequence of controls for BSE along the food chain. The feeding of meat and bone meal is prohibited to all farm animals and there are stringent controls at rendering plants and feed mills. All cattle are examined by veterinary inspectors before slaughter at the abattoir and rapid BSE testing is carried out on all animals over 30 months of age. Veterinary inspectors, under service contract to the FSAI, ensure slaughtered cattle have had SRM removed. At boning plants, the carcasses are inspected again. In butcher shops, environmental health officers under contract to the FSAI inspect carcasses at this level. In addition, all butchers operating in Ireland are aware that it is illegal to sell meat products containing SRM.Web posted: November 9 [sic], 2004

Campylobacter: Unmasking the Secret Genes of a Food-Poisoning Culprit

Source of Article: http://www.rednova.com/news/display/?id=97856

Microarrays, or gene chips, enable scientists to get a quick look at thousands of genes in a single experiment. Here, technician Sharon Horn monitors robotic equipment as it imprints Campylobacter microarrays on glass slides. Photo by Peggy Greb. (K11465-1)

The "juice" that always seems to leak out of those packages of fresh chicken you bring home from the supermarket can make a big mess on your kitchen counter. But more importantly, the juice can pose a hazard to your health. Nasty microbes called Campylobacter jejuni can live in that liquid and on the skin of fresh, uncooked poultry. Thoroughly cooking chicken-by grilling, frying, roasting, or bakingkills this food-poisoning microbe. But if you accidentally splash some of the raw juice on food that you'd planned to eat uncooked, such as leafy greens for a fresh salad, you'd be wise to throw them out. Here's why: If the microbe takes hold on those greens, as it is very adept at doing, you might be in for a case of campylobacteriosis food poisoning that you won't soon forget. Campylobacter is thought to be the leading cause of bacterial food poisoning in humans and is likely the perpetrator of more than 400 million cases of diarrhea every year. Though being careful when you handle raw poultry should help keep you safe, ARS researchers want to do more to zap this microbial menace before it reaches your home. At Albany, California, scientists in the ARS Produce Safety and Microbiology Research Unit are making key advances in the international effort to clobber Campylobacter. The California team, based at the Western Regional Research Center, is focusing on Campylobacter's genes. Why the interest in the microbe's genetic makeup? Because investigating genes may lead to discovery of faster, more reliable ways to detect the microbe in samples from humans and other animals, food, and water.

In addition, gene-based research opens the door to simpler, less- expensive tactics for distinguishing look-alike species and strains of Campylobacter and its close relatives, such as the Arcobacters. This will enable experts to quickly finger culprit microbes in food poisoning outbreaks. Finally, the studies may lead to innovative, environmentally friendly techniques to circumvent the genes that make C. jejuni strains so successful in causing human gastrointestinal upset and in some cases paralysis or even death. Working with the Institute for Genomic Research, Rockville, Maryland, the Albany scientists have decoded the makeup, or sequence, of all the genes and other genetic material in a specially selected strain of C. jejuni. Technician Guilin Wang sets the conditions for operation of an automated robotic system for purifying DNA. High-quality DNA is required for spotting onto glass slides for microarray experiments. This research represents the first time that a C. jejuni strain from a farm animal-in this case, a market chicken-has been sequenced. That's important, notes research leader Robert E. Mandrell, because chicken is the leading source of the bacterium in food. Earlier C. jejuni genome sequencing, performed elsewhere, was based on a specimen from a gastroenteritis patient and was lacking key features, such as the ability to colonize chickens, Mandrell says. The next step: Zero in on specific genes. "We're particularly interested in the genes that make Campylobacter so viable and virulent," says ARS molecular biologist William G. Miller. They're targeting, for instance, genes that carry the code for making oligosaccharides. These compounds likely enable the microbe to stick like glue to chicken skin in the poultry processing plant even though the birds are bathed and rinsed with chlorinated water. The oligosaccharides might be important in invading and colonizing the human body, as well, Miller notes.With this genome sequence information in hand, the scientists are developing microarrays, or gene chips, that make possible a quick look at thousands of genes in a single experiment. For these analyses, robotic equipment precisely places pieces of the pathogen's DNA in an array of infinitesimally small droplets on glass microscope slides. "We build and use these microarrays to compare and contrast DNA of various Campylobacter samples," explains microbiologist Craig T. Parker. "We're also using microarrays to get a snapshot of genes in action so that we can see when genes are turned on or off." For example, Parker is pinpointing the genes that are active in helping Campylobacter overcome our bodies' protective actions. By tracking the action of the microbes' genes, Parker and co-investigators may be able to determine a way to derail them. Though C. jejuni has grabbed center stage because of its known virulence, its relatives are also of interest. The Albany studies of C. coll, C. lari, and C. upsaliensis, for example, are attracting the attention of member nations in a threecontinent collaboration called "Campycheck," formed to evaluate the importance of these lesser-known or newly emerging species. The Albany scientists and colleagues from the ARS Richard B. Russell Agricultural Research Center, Athens, Georgia, are advisors to Campycheck. Technician Sharon Horn and microbiologist William Miller prepare samples of Campylobacter for automated analysis of the structure, or sequence, of the DNA. The colored peaks on the computer screen show the sequence of a DNA sample from an earlier run.

In clinical laboratories, these lessstudied pathogens may inadvertently be killed by the antibiotics used to identify the better-known ones. The likely result? An inaccurate picture of their prevalence and virulence. Campycheck may yield a detailed, accurate picture.The Campylobacter studies in the United States and abroad might never completely eliminate the need for careful handling of raw poultry in our homes or the kitchens of school cafeterias, fine restaurants, and other eateries. But the research can reduce our chances of ever encountering this unruly microbe.-By Marcia Wood, ARS. Research leader Robert Mandrell (left) and microbiologist Craig Parker, both of the Produce Safety and Microbiology Research Unit, examine an image of the results of a microarray experiment comparing over 1,700 genes of Campylobacter jejuni strains from farm animals and humans. This research is part of Food Safety, an ARS National Program (#108) described on the World Wide Web at www.nps. ars. usda.gov.

To reach scientists mentioned in this story, contact Marcia Wood, USDA-ARS Information Staff, 5601 Sunny side Ave., Beltsville, MD 20705-5129; phone (301) 504-1662, fax (301) 504-1641, e-mail marciawood@ars.usda.gov.

USDA to provide additional funding for animal ID program

by John Gregerson on 10/29/04 for Meatingplace.com
Source of Article: www.meatingplace.com
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing an additional $1.5 million for national animal identification system cooperative agreements with states.
Earlier this year, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services received a transfer of $18.8 million from USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation to begin implementing the NAIS. Of that amount, APHIS originally set aside $11.64 million for cooperative agreements with state and tribal governments. The additional $1.5 million will be used to fund additional such agreements. Remaining funds are being used in support of other aspects of the national system, including the development of database architecture.

In an interview in Meat Marketing and Technology magazine, Doran Junek, executive director of the Kansas Cattlemen's Association, described the $11.6 million originally earmarked for pilots as "woefully inadequate."

New food allergy test
By: Ivanhoe Broadcast News

Source of Article: http://news8austin.com/
Experts say food allergies are extremely common, affecting up to 8 percent of children and 2 percent of adolescents and adults.

In young children, the foods most likely to cause allergies are cow's milk, eggs, wheat and peanuts. In older children and adults, peanut and seafood allergies are most common. Other foods that commonly cause allergic reactions include soy products and tree nuts, such as almonds, pecans, and Brazil nuts. Food challenges have long been the "gold standard" for diagnosing food allergies, Dr. Robert Wood, a pediatric allergist from the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, said. During a food challenge, patients are fed increasing doses of the suspected allergen. Then, they are monitored by a physician for symptoms of an allergic reaction, including hives, coughing, difficulty breathing and vomiting. Because of the possibility of a severe allergic reaction, oral food challenges take place in a clinical setting under a physician's supervision.

However, Wood said there are no clear guidelines to determine when a food challenge should be considered. Because of that, some children who could benefit from the test may be overlooked. Now, a blood test that measures food-specific allergy antibodies can be used to help pediatric allergists with the difficult decision of when to reintroduce a food that has caused an allergic reaction in a child.

In a recent study, published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Dr. Wood and colleagues outlined guidelines for using these antibody levels to determine which children should be offered an oral food challenge.

Based on results of their investigation into how well IgE antibody levels could predict children's reactions on the oral food challenge test, the Hopkins team specifically recommends that challenge tests for milk, egg, and peanut be performed on children with at least a 50-50 chance of "passing." "These findings make it clear that doing a blood test to measure IgE levels can accurately predict how a patient will fare during a food challenge, and we recommend its routine use in clinical practice to screen children with suspected allergies before a food challenge is performed," Wood said. The new guidelines outline when to reintroduce foods to children who may be allergic are critical, Wood said.

"Making inaccurate diagnosis to food allergy has huge consequences. It is for both the reason that it is really important to avoid what you are allergic to because reactions can be very severe and because it is really bad to be avoiding foods that you are not truly allergic to. If I told you that you had to go home and eliminate milk and wheat from your diet, 80 percent of everything you eat would be gone because, even if they are not the main ingredient they are a common ingredient in most foods. Avoiding foods that they are not truly allergic to puts children at risk for poor nutrition in addition to the unbelievable amount of work it takes to maintain such a restrictive diet," Wood said.

Patients with IgE levels of 2.0 kilounits or less, who fall under the new Hopkins guidelines, are more likely to pass a food challenge because their low IgE levels could indicate a developed tolerance to the allergen or a previous allergy misdiagnosis. On the other hand, when the expected pass rate for a food challenge is less than 50 percent, or for IgE levels of more than 2.0 kilounits, Wood said it's very likely that the patient has a legitimate food allergy and therefore does not need his or her allergy confirmed through a food challenge, which could cause a significant allergic reaction.
For more information
Jessica Collins, Media Relations
Johns Hopkins Children's Center
100 N. Charles St., Suite 200
Baltimore, MD 21201
(410) 516-4570

Schools trained in food safety

The Urbandale district took part in a study to meet 2005 requirements.

October 28, 2004
Source of Article: http://desmoinesregister.com/

The food service department within the Urbandale school district is getting a head start on meeting new federal food safety standards scheduled to take effect in July 2005.Department members participated in a three-year study organized by Iowa State University's Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management. Iowa State professor Jeannie Sneed, principal investigator in the study, said child nutrition programs will be required to meet a set of food safety standards.The new federal "rules really started with the space program, when food safety in outer space was being considered," Sneed said.Forty schools throughout the state of Iowa participated in the study, which first assessed each food-preparation area's general hygiene, sanitation and preparation methods.

"The baseline showed us where we are, and then how we can move forward to meet the . . . guidelines," Sneed said.After initial testing, some employees in each food department were trained to meet those standards and to effectively share that information with remaining staff members."We saw the . . . requirements coming down the pike, so we wanted to see that the groundwork was laid before the time came," Sneed said."I'm happy we were part of the testing, because it gave us a head start on the standards," said Cathy Howsare, director of food service with the Urbandale schools.She said the assessment and training reinforced important safety issues to the entire staff.

"I've had a lot of this training, but many on our staff haven't," Howsare said. "It was a great way for our hourly employees to learn more about food safety, and it didn't end up being costly for us."Sneed said that in the 1980s when federal money was cut, the system of sending inspectors out to check institutional facilities for safety changed."The shift in responsibility changed from the inspector to the processor," said Sneed, who explained kitchen employees now need to have the knowledge to test and track their own safety points and maintain records to show compliance with standards.

Howsare said her staff was positive about the assessment and training, and the three-year study improved its overall operation."I'm proud that we were one of the schools picked to participate, and that we were able to carry out and meet all of those standards," she said. "We do take food safety in our district very seriously."

Advanced ID's disease outbreak simulation proves successful
October 27, 2004
From a press release
CALGARY, ALBERTA - Advanced ID Corporation (OTCBB: AIDO), a total solutions provider in the radio frequency identification (RFID) market, today announced that it met with Thailand Government officials to demonstrate the capabilities of its RFID livestock identification and trace back technology under a disease outbreak simulation.
The demonstration was given to six government and corporate officials including Dr. Yukol Limlamthong, Director General, Department of Livestock Development, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, and other representatives from the Thailand Animal Identification Program. The demonstration successfully showed the vital details necessary to pinpoint the location of a diseased animal back to its herd of origin, identifying each transitional location and showing all points of contact.
Seymour Kazimirski, Chairman of Advanced ID Corporation and present at the meeting, commented, "Although our demonstration was done to show the virtues of our RFID identification and trace back system for large animals, government officials have indicated their intent to utilize our system for implementation of a poultry identification program. Given Thailand's Bird Flu crisis which has led to human deaths, and is threatening to destroy their poultry exports, we have been asked to provide Thailand officials with an implementation plan for livestock identification related to export license farms, transportation vehicles and processing plants. The implementation of an identification and trace back system for poultry will be done in conjunction with Thailand's requirements to identify cattle and hogs."
In other news, Bill Hoffman, Vice President of Business Development and Marketing for Advanced ID, was elected Chairman of the AIAG's (Automotive Industry Action Group) B-11: Label and RFID Tire and Wheel Identification and Tracking Committee for the third time this year. The B-11 Committee convened again this summer, and with the co-operation of EPC Global, added EPC data carrying capability to the standard.
About Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG)

Kansas State Researchers Seek to Improve Food Safety Practices of Restaurant Employees

Source of Article: http://news.yahoo.com/
MANHATTAN, Kan., Oct. 21 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The numbers are downright sickening. An estimated 76 million foodborne illness cases occur in the United States every year. That's one in four Americans who will contract a foodborne illness annually after eating foods contaminated with such pathogens as E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, hepatitis A, and Listeria.Here's some more food for thought: Approximately 325,000 people are hospitalized with illnesses and 5,000 die. The estimated costs in medical expenses and lost wages or productivity are between $6.5 and $34.9 billion. While most foodborne illness cases (or food poisoning as it is sometimes called) go unreported to health departments, nearly 13.8 million cases a year are caused by known agents -- 30 percent by bacteria, 67 percent by viruses, and three percent by parasites.Toss in the fact that approximately 75 percent of all food consumed away from home is prepared in a restaurant, deli, cafeteria or institutional food service operation and that more than 11.7 million individuals are employed in the food service industry, the potential for foodborne illness outbreaks is significant.Despite those numbers, few Americans understand the impact a foodborne illness could have on themselves or their families, especially children. But a three-year, $482,763 grant received by researchers at Kansas State University (K-State) from the United States Department of Agriculture, seeks to improve food safety practices of restaurant employees by using the theory of planned behavior. The grant was one of 26 totaling more than $12 million awarded to 19 colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and its territories through the National Integrated Food Safety Initiative, announced by the U.S.D.A. The goal of these grants is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of food safety programs.According to Carol Shanklin, associate dean of the K-State Graduate School and a professor of hotel, restaurant, institution management and dietetics and Kevin Roberts, an instructor in hotel, restaurant, institution management and dietetics, the overall intent of the grant is to look at restaurant employee knowledge, attitude and practices related to food safety.

Both Roberts and Shanklin said the three most common risk factors implicated in foodborne diseases are directly related to the food handling practices of foodservice employees. These risk factors -- time/temperature abuse, cross contamination and personal hygiene, hand washing in particular -- are preventable if proper food safety practices are followed.Shanklin, Roberts, and the grant's other researchers, Betsy Barrett, an associate professor of hotel, restaurant, institution management and dietetics, and Laura Brannon, an associate professor of psychology, will develop a training program designed to overcome employee barriers to food safety implementation in restaurants and increase the frequency of food safety practices utilized in restaurants. Researchers will evaluate employees' knowledge and observe their practices before and after attending a training seminar; and consult with them on why they are not using correct food handling practices.Based upon the results of that study, a training program will be developed to specifically address those barriers and those critical behaviors that need to be implemented by the employees in order to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks among consumers."Our ultimate goal is to develop tools that restaurant managers can use in training and supervising employees that would reinforce appropriate food handling practices to decrease consumers' risk of foodborne illness when they dine away from home," Shanklin said. "Foodborne illness outbreaks can have a negative effect on a restaurant because word of mouth is the most positive or negative advertisement that a business can have."The grant was the only one funded that was specifically targeted towards commercial restaurants. All others focused on food processing operations."I think this speaks well for K-State's reputation for quality food safety research at U.S.D.A. by the reviewers," Shanklin said. "I think even though 20 restaurants will be involved in the study, a sampling of restaurants within three states -- Kansas, Iowa and Missouri -- the results will benefit the whole industry and ultimately consumers." http://www.usnewswire.com/

Scientists push boundaries of bacteria-fighting film

Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/news/news-NG.asp?n=55638-scientists-push-boundaries

26/10/2004 - Scientists in Germany have applied a medical profession technique to create bacteria-fighting packaging that can be applied to liquid products such as milk.

This is a significant step forward. There has been great interest in the food packaging sector about coated packaging films that actively fight against bacteria could help stop food going mouldy without the use of food preservatives.
Bacteria settle themselves at the exact spot where the foodstuff touches the packaging, and multiply rapidly from there. To put paid to the unwanted settlers, film-packaged foodstuffs often contain added food preservatives such as benzoic or sorbic acid.

However, discerning consumers prefer to have as few additives as possible in their food. The concept of bacteria-fighting packaging is therefore of great interest to food manufacturers eager to appeal to consumer demand for less additives, while at the same time making food products safer.

This is why scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV, working in the Alliance for Polymer Surfaces POLO, have initiated a project to find out how this concept can be developed.

The researchers found that instead of adding preservatives to the food, they could coat the packaging film with them.

This places the substances directly at the surface of the foodstuff, which is where they need to act,?said group leader Dieter Sandmeier. “In that way we can cut food preservatives to a minimum.?

The coating layer is applied using special techniques and materials based on substances such as Ormocers. These plastics contain elements of inorganic glass and organic polymers.

We have managed to develop films that can protect solid products from attack by all kinds of bacteria,?said Sandmeier.Films such as these are not good enough when it comes to protecting liquid foods like milk, however. This is because the food preservatives introduced do not remain on the surface as they would on cheese or sausage. They spread through the entire product and are heavily diluted.

Packaging materials for liquids therefore need to be sterilised with hydrogen peroxide, for example, before being brought into contact with foodstuffs. But this complex procedure is performed at temperatures in excess of 70 C, which is too high for certain plastics such as PET.

The IVV researchers therefore looked to the medical profession for inspiration, and saw that doctors sterilise medical instruments with plasma, an ionised gas.

There is just one drawback in applying this to industrial packaging however; the treatment takes at least half an hour, or even up to one and a half hours ?far too long for an industrial bottling process.

The scientists however have now optimised the process so that it only takes one to five seconds. In this way they have no problem complying with environmental protection regulations, and energy consumption can be reduced by a factor of up to 1,000.

Antibacterial packaging is a growing field of research. A recently published report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that herb basil, when incorporated into plastic wrapping, can enhance food safety. The basil, which has long been known to contain bacteria-fighting properties, can be incorporated into the plastic wrapping to preserve foods.

The extracts methyl chavicol and linalool ooze out of the wrapping and slow the growth of eight types of lethal bacteria including E. coli and listeria. Experiments showed the wrapping extends the shelf life of cheese and most likely of meats, fish, baked goods, fruits and vegetables.

The research scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute are presenting this and related topics at the K fair in Dseldorf, which finishes tomorrow.

Cambrex acquires innovative rapid microbial detection company takes microbial testing from days to hours
October 20, 2004
From a press release
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., -- Cambrex (NYSE: CBM) announces that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Cambrex France SARL, has acquired Genolife SA for approximately $6.0 million in cash. Genolife, located in Saint Beauzire, France, is an innovative biotechnology company specializing in rapid microbial detection testing for the pharmaceutical, agriculture, food, and cosmetic industries.
"Cambrex's endotoxin and mycoplasma detection product lines will be enhanced by the addition of rapid microbial detection technologies provided by the Genolife acquisition and the recently announced Epoch Biosciences license," commented Dave Eansor, President Bioproducts. "The new microbial detection products that we develop will prove to be some of the fastest, most accurate, and highly sensitive available on the market."
The Genolife technology measures total viable organisms (TVO) in less than 5 hours rather than days or weeks required for other methods of detection. Faster results will reduce costs by quickly confirming product specifications, identifying production problems or contaminated product, and reducing product hold times and product returns. Cambrex will also use the technology internally for in-process testing of its own media, biologics and cell therapy production to cut product costs and cycle times.
Cambrex plans to leverage its existing endotoxin detection sales force for the introduction of the products and services using the Genolife and Epoch technologies. Product and service introductions are expected as early as 2005. The Company estimates the acquisition to be EPS neutral in 2005 and accretive thereafter.
Genolife, founded in 1996 by Drs. Franck Chaubron and Bruno Venuat, has provided products and services for bacterial, yeast and fungal identification and Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) detection services. Drs. Chaubron and Venuat will remain employees of Genolife to ensure that the value of the intellectual property is maximized.

Ventilex introduces new steam pasteurizer
October 19, 2004
Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)
West Chester, Ohio-based Ventilex USA Inc. announced the introduction of their latest Fluidized Bed Steam Pasteurizer at the opening of their new office. This pasteurizer may be used in the nut industry as a defense against salmonella. According to the company, the unit's steam treatment kills bacteria, and also dries nuts to the desired moisture level and maintains the appropriate steaming time and pressure without changing the taste, appearance, shelf life or germination potential of the nut.
Ventilex is known as a specialist in drying-cooling-steam pasteurization. In addition to showcasing their latest equipment, Ventilex USA Inc. also celebrated the dedication of a new, expanded office facility at 8106 Beckett Center Drive in West Chester, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Thursday, September 30th, and the opening was officiated by Mr. Tom Schroeder, President and CEO of Ventilex USA Inc., and Mr. Henk Dijkman, Managing Director of Ventilex B.V., the parent company based in Heerde, The Netherlands.