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Bush visit likely to signal end to beef ban

From Monday's Globe and Mail
Source of Article: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/
Ottawa ? Federal officials predict that the mad-cow dispute with the United States will be resolved during President George W. Bush's visit to Canada this week, but caution that other trade quarrels will take longer. "We've been given signals that the President will be proposing a timetable that could be less than six months [to open the border to Canadian beef] with clear commitments on the part of the United States," Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew said yesterday, referring to one of the most contentious of trade irritants.The expected announcement of a specific date for resuming beef shipments "will be the good news on Tuesday" when Mr. Bush arrives in Ottawa, Mr. Pettigrew said on CTV's Question Period.

To highlight the issue, organizers of the two-day summit have included Alberta beef on the menu tomorrow night at the official dinner Prime Minister Paul Martin is hosting for Mr. Bush. Canada's 10 premiers and more than 600 other Canadian and U.S. dignitaries, trade and security officials and business people will also be in attendance. The short presidential visit comes at a difficult time in relations. The long-standing softwood-lumber dispute continues and Canada is drafting a hit list of proposed retaliatory measures in what could become a tit-for-tat escalation. The bloom is off the world's largest two-way trading partnership because of protectionist measures adopted by the U.S. Congress, many economic analysts say. They cite the so-called Byrd amendment: a U.S. domestic trade law that has been declared illegal by the World Trade Organization. Canadian diplomats in Washington have said they believe Mr. Bush is a genuine free-trader.

But they would like to hear him say he will use some political capital with Congress to bring domestic trade laws in line with international treaties. The resumption of beef exports cannot come soon enough for the thousands of Canadian cattle ranchers and beef producers who have lost more than $2-billion since the ban was imposed by the United States 18 months ago. Exports were halted when bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad-cow disease, was discovered in a single Alberta cow. The U.S. ban has cost Canadian taxpayers about $488-million, the amount of federal compensation to beef producers. Experts from the World Health Organization and other agencies have certified that Canadian beef is safe for human consumption.

A senior government official said Washington is likely to allow the resumption of exports some time within the next 150 days, "barring some extraordinary Congressional intervention which we do not anticipate." And on softwood lumber, "we continue to have a difference of opinion," the official said. Canadian officials are playing down expectations for the President's visit. Mr. Bush will be in the country a mere 28 hours. This visit is about the two governments "getting back to work" on important bilateral files after the recent U.S. election, a senior Canadian official said. "Don't expect any surprise announcements."The meeting will be successful if it generates momentum on both sides of the border on important issues, the official said. Mr. Bush is arriving in Ottawa tomorrow morning for meetings with Mr. Martin and other cabinet ministers. On Wednesday, he will travel to Halifax to thank the Atlantic provinces for hosting thousands of stranded airline passengers whose flights were diverted to Canada during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Mr. Bush turned down an invitation to address Parliament, but he will meet privately with Conservative Leader Stephen Harper tomorrow afternoon, and with opposition leaders and the provincial premiers at a reception.

The President will be accompanied by his wife, Laura Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who will be taking over for Mr. Powell at the State Department in the New Year. Protest groups plan to take to the streets in Ottawa to voice opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Ottawa and Halifax airports will be closed to other air traffic during the arrival and departure of Mr. Bush's airplane. This will force minor changes to commercial air schedules and passengers are advised to check their airline for revised departure times.

Survey Finds Little Mycotoxin in Baby Foods

A survey carried out by the UKs Food Standards Agency has shown that mycotoxins are not present in the majority of samples of infant and baby foods and none were over legal limits.

The mycotoxins analysed in this study were aflatoxins B1, B2, G1, G2, ochratoxin A and patulin. A total of 199 samples of infant and baby foods were bought and analysed between November 2003 and January 2004. A wide range of brands and retailers, including supermarkets and smaller shops, was covered in order to ensure that the survey was representative of the UK infant and baby food market.

Overall, the levels of mycotoxins found were very low less than 10% of the samples tested had a detectable level of mycotoxins. None of the samples were over the legal limits for total aflatoxin, aflatoxin B1, ochratoxin A or patulin. Patuli n was not detected in any of the 30 samples tested for it.

The Agency used the survey results to inform negotiations to set limits for mycotoxins in infant foods within the European Union and to ensure that infant foods available in the UK comply with legal limits. The results of this survey do not raise any new safety concerns and no one should change the infant and baby food products they buy as a result of it.

Two U.S. senators propose a law requiring clean vehicles for shipping meat and other food.

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) and Senator Fritz Hollings (D-South Carolina), respectively the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, introduced a bill that would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to issue regulations requiring the use of sanitary transportation practices.

The bill (S. 2952), the "Norman Y. Mineta Research and Special Programs Improvement Act," revives legislative proposals that have been circulating since the original passage of the Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 1990. If enacted, it would direct the Food and Drug Administration to engage in rulemaking to define sanitary food transportation practices. Such regulations would apply to shippers, carriers by motor vehicle or rail, receivers, and "other persons engaged in the transportation of food." Failure to comply would render the food adulterated and would be a "prohibited act" under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The bill would also authorize inspections by federal and state transportation safety officials for the purpose of identifying suspected incidents of contamination or adulteration of food.
Web posted: November 23, 2004
Category: Food Safety,Legislation and Regulation,Processor News
Domenick Castaldo, Ph.D.

U.S. researchers are exploring new strategies to make food safer.

Power ultrasound and electrolyzed water are promising new food-processing technologies that could make the American food supply safer, University of Illinois food scientist Hao Feng said in a University release.

"Power ultrasound -- the use of high-frequency sound waves -- has great potential among these new technologies,¡± Feng said. His laboratory contains a specially designed multiple-frequency, multiple-mode, modulated sono-reactor, that he said is the first of its kind in the world.

Feng is investigating ultrasound's proficiency in killing foodborne pathogens on the surface of fresh food. He is also combining ultrasound with electrolyzed water and other sanitizers to penetrate and destroy pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes and E. coli in the narrow and deep crevices of certain foods.

"Electrolyzed water is created when electrolysis is used to split salt water into two streams, one acidic, the other alkaline,¡± he explained. ¡°Acidic water is very powerful in killing microorganisms on food surfaces, on everything from fruits and vegetables to eggs, poultry, beef, and seafood.¡±

Feng achieved the best food safety results by combining two or more methods to achieve a synergistic effect: ¡°We have combined ultrasound with a mild heat treatment, such as a hot-water wash, for added benefit, and we've introduced elevated pressure into the mix to kill an even greater number of microbes,¡± he said. According to Feng, food microbiologist Scott Martin, and graduate student Adam Baumann, combining ultrasound with ozonated water can eliminate all Listeria biofilms on stainless steel within 60 seconds.

Feng has also treated apple cider with ultrasound and mild heat to achieve the 99.999 percent reduction in E. coli 0157:H7 required by the Food and Drug Administration. Traditional methods of eliminating this very dangerous and acid-tolerant pathogen have involved high temperatures, which compromised quality, Feng said.

Feng and his colleagues also hope to investigate the use of irradiation to eliminate viruses, such as hepatitis B. The food science and human nutrition department has purchased a new irradiator, an electron beam machine, and a high-dose X-ray machine. When the X-ray equipment arrives, the University of Illinois will be able to conduct extensive research on the irradiation of food.

Web posted: November 23, 2004
Category: Food Safety,Research
Domenick Castaldo, Ph.D.

Innovative Biosensors Name Evaluation Labs for New Rapid, Ultra-Sensitive E.coli O157:H7 Test

Innovative Biosensors, Inc. a company developing fast, portable systems to detect pathogens, will be starting laboratory evaluations in two leading food testing labs. The labs, Marshfield Clinic Laboratories and Midwest Laboratories will be looking at the new E. coli O157:H7 test.

This E.coli O157:H7 test is part of the BioFlash¢âsystem, which is based on the CANARY (Cellular Analysis and Notification of Antigen Risks and Yields) technology, a revolutionary diagnostic technology developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. BioFlash¢â delivers extremely rapid detection of pathogens at previously unseen levels of sensitivity and specificity. Accurate results can be obtained in less than 5 minutes.

The combination of speed and sensitivity of the BioFlash¢â system is unmatched by other methods such as immunoassays and PCR. Rapid immunoassays require at least 15 minutes, but have a much higher limit of detection. Ultra-fast PCR still requires at least 30 min of sample preparation, notwithstanding PCR contamination issues. The BioFlash¢â system offers detection down to 50 cfuEscherichia coli 0157:H7 without cross-reaction with normal E. coli strains.

New Oxoid Listeria Identification Kit is a Winner at ILS

Sales of the Microbact range of biochemical-based identification systems have increased dramatically since they were introduced to the Oxoid range of products last year. Complementing Oxoid's comprehensive selection of products for the growth, isolation and identification of micro-organisms, the Microbact systems provide definitive identification of key pathogenic bacteria, including Listeria species, Gram-negative bacteria, and Staphylococcal species.

There has been particular growing interest in the Microbact Listeria Identification System (12L), which provides accurate identification of pathogenic Listeria species in as little as 4 hours, using 11 carbohydrate utilisation tests and a rapid micro-haemolysis test (as recommended by recognised international standard methods such as ISO TC 34/SCS N307 and FDA Bacteriological Analytical Manual).

The Pathogen Laboratory at International Laboratory Services (ILS) Limited (Derbyshire, UK) performs multiple Listeria identifications each day using the Microbact Listeria Identification System. The laboratory was attracted to the Microbact system because of the clarity and non-ambiguity of the test reactions, and because it included the test for haemolysis. Senior Technician, Steph Shearing, comments, "The results with Microbact Listeria are reliable and more clear cut than our previous method. Also, the design of the test makes it very easy to use, preventing evaporation during incubation and minimising spillages."

Innovative Biosensors Inc. Signs Marshfield Clinic Laboratories and Midwest Laboratories as Evaluation Sites for its Rapid, Ultra-Sensitive E. Coli O157:H7 Test

Source of Article: http://home.businesswire.com/

COLLEGE PARK, Md.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 18, 2004--Innovative Biosensors, Inc. (IBI), a company developing fast, portable systems to detect harmful pathogens, today announced that two leading food testing labs would serve as evaluation sites for the company's rapid, ultra-sensitive E. Coli O157:H7 test. These labs are Marshfield Clinic Laboratories and Midwest Laboratories.
IBI's E. Coli O157:H7 test is part of its BioFlash(TM) system, which is based on the CANARY(TM) technology. The system utilizes genetically engineered biosensors, uncomplicated sample preparation, and simple-to-use instrumentation to facilitate extremely rapid testing of pathogens at previously unachievable levels of speed and sensitivity. The technology is expected to play a significant role in the rapid detection of infectious agents.

"We believe that this evaluation testing will increase operational efficiencies for these market leading testing labs and will simultaneously validate that IBI's E. Coli O157:H7 test offers an unprecedented combination of speed and sensitivity," said Joe Hernandez, Founder and CEO of Innovative Biosensors, Inc. "We are honored that these well-respected labs will be among the first to experience this revolutionary technology, and we look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship."

About Innovative Biosensors, Inc.
Innovative Biosensors is a privately held company developing novel technologies for the rapid detection of pathogens. The Company's technology is expected to have broad applications in food testing, animal health, and human health care, including drug discovery and development and disease diagnosis. Additional information is available at www.innovativebiosensors.com

This release may contain forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, including Innovative Biosensor's mission to develop and commercialize instrument systems, Innovative Biosensor's ability to develop new technologies to conduct rapid diagnosis. Such statements are based on management's current expectations and are subject to a number of factors and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements. Innovative Biosensors cautions investors that there can be no assurance that actual results or business conditions will not differ materially from those projected or suggested in such forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including, but not limited to, the following: Innovative Biosensors' expectations that they will incur operating losses in the near future, the early stage of development of Innovative Biosensors' products and technologies, uncertainties related to preclinical and clinical testing and trials, uncertainties surrounding the availability of additional funding, Innovative Biosensors' reliance on research collaborations, the actions of competitors and the development of competing technologies, potential patent infringement claims against Innovative Biosensors products, processes and technologies, Innovative Biosensors' ability to protect their patents and proprietary rights and uncertainties relating to commercialization rights.

Longview Restaurants Patrolled By Inspector

Source of Article: http://www.kltv.com/Global/story.asp?S=2619637&nav=1TjDTaK2

In Longview, they do the job of keeping food safe for us to eat, food inspectors are the most unknown and easily unappreciated of any city or county workers. Inspector Amy Lewis has the unenviable job of hawking Longview food establishments to make sure that public health is not jeopardized."In a lot of ways I'm an advocate for the public that doesn't understand or know whats going on behind the closed doors of a kitchen" says Lewis.She does everything from check the temperatures of standing food hot or cold, to making sure pots and pans are properly washed. And restaurant owners suffer a little anxiety when they see her coming. "I kind of feel like the wicked witch when i walk in but i still have a job to do" she says.One of only two inspectors for the city, she strictly goes over each establishment, restaurant, supermarket or convenience store, and works constantly to prevent any chance of food contamination or poisoning. "It's kind of a scary thing, because you almost feel like the responsibility of people rests on your shoulders in some ways at least the people that eat out, something could happen an outbreak, someone could get sick and die" she says.Inspections are all "public record", if you want scores for any establishment, you can call the Longview environmental health department. Bob Hallmark reporting.

CWD is not spreading, tests show
By Associated Press
November 29, 2004

Source of Article: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/state/article/0,1299,DRMN_21_3361198,00.html

VAIL - A debilitating wildlife disease appears to have not spread much around Colorado since a testing program began last year, wildlife officials said.

Chronic wasting disease, which primarily affects deer and elk, has not been found in any new study areas in western Colorado this fall.

In eastern Colorado, the only spreading was in one study area where the disease was found in elk after previously being detected only in deer.

Once chronic wasting disease becomes established in an area, it spreads slowly, said Kathi Green, disease management coordinator for the Division of Wildlife.

The division is tracking the disease through voluntary tests on deer and elk harvested by hunters. Green said hunter participation in the program has dropped from about 13,090 tests last year to 10,680 this year. It was still a large-enough test to gather valuable data, she said.

Chronic wasting disease was detected in 74 deer and elk.

The fatal brain disease is in the same family as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, which has been tied to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.

New study by UGA researcher shows that Salmonella uses hydrogen as an energy source

Source of Article: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-11/uog-nsb112904.php

New research, headed by microbiologists from the University of Georgia, show for the first time that Salmonella ?a widespread and often deadly bacterial pathogen ?use molecular hydrogen to grow and become virulent. The discovery represents a way that diseases caused by Salmonella and other enteric infections could be lessened or even eliminated.
The research, just published in the journal Infection and Immunity, was led by Rob Maier, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and Ramsey Professor of Microbiology at UGA. Other authors of the paper from UGA were and researcher Adriana Olczak and research coordinator Susan Maier; and Shilpa Soni and John Gunn from Ohio State University.

"This builds on our earlier findings that major human pathogens are using an unexpected energy source," said Maier. "This new work expands our knowledge that molecular hydrogen is very important in the process of diseases caused by these organisms."

Such enteric pathogens as Salmonella are responsible for an estimated 2 million deaths a year and cause millions more cases of diarrheal illnesses, even in developed countries. Maier was the first to discover that hydrogen is not lost from the body as a waste product, as researchers previously thought, but remains at substantial levels and is an energy source for pathogenic bacteria. This knowledge that human pathogens can grow on hydrogen while residing in an animal may have profound implications for the treatment of some diseases.

In 2002, Maier published in the journal Science evidence that the gastric bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which gives rise to peptic ulcers, gastritis and some kinds of gastric cancers, needs hydrogen as an energy source. The new research extends those earlier findings to Salmonella.

The work has been possible because of the increasing number of entire genomes that are being sequenced for everything from bacteria to humans. Knowing the exact position of individual genes on the entire genome allows scientists a much richer understanding of how disease processes work than ever before.

"From the gene sequence we found that Salmonella was predicted to have three distinct membrane-associated enzymes that split molecular hydrogen using a unique metal center, which is composed of nickel, iron, cyanide and carbon monoxide," said Maier. "Humans don't make this kind of metal cluster in cells, and so it's an excellent target for therapeutic intervention. Also, making nickel unavailable to the cells by use of metal sequestering agents would be expected to stop the hydrogen using reactions required for growth of the bacterium."

The new research showed that each of the three membrane-associated, hydrogen-utilizing enzymes in Salmonella is coupled to a respiratory pathway that uses oxygen as the terminal electron acceptor. This permits growth of the pathogen.

Maier believed that these enzymes might enable bacteria to glean energy from the splitting of molecular hydrogen. Because the high-energy gas produced by the reactions of normal flora bacteria in the intestinal tract is freely diffusible, it can be measured within tissues colonized by pathogens. So, using mice as a model system, Maier and his colleagues were able to find that, indeed, Salmonella use molecular hydrogen as an energy source to grow and cause disease.

It should be noted that the team studied a type of Salmonella enterica called Typhimurium, a common food-poisoning bacterium closely related to a different strain of Salmonella that causes typhoid fever.

Killer fingertips can stop E.coli

E.coli couldn't survive on the fingers
Scientists have found how the skin of the fingertips defends itself against a common bug that causes diarrhoea.
The skin secretes a special protein, called psoriasin, which kills several strains of E.coli by mopping up the zinc the bacteria rely on to survive.

Most strains of E.coli are harmless and live in the gut, but some, such as the O157 strain, cause food poisoning and are potentially fatal.

The University of Kiel research appears in Nature Immunology.

Clean fingers

The German researchers analysed the water people had used to wash their hands and other parts of their body, as well as skin scrapings from different body parts.

Psoriasin is probably key in the local innate [inborn] defence of healthy skin against the gut bacterium E. coli.

The study authors

There were no living traces of certain strains of E.coli on the skin and in the water, even when they looked at conditions similar to those found when people get hot and sweaty.

Further laboratory tests enabled Dr Jens-Michael Schroeder and colleagues to pinpoint this down to psoriasin.

Psoriasin was originally discovered some years ago in people with the skin condition psoriasis, in larger quantities than normal.

It has also been found on the skin of newborn babies and might, therefore, protect the infant from infection during birth, the researchers believe.

The researchers say the findings explain why skin regions that are often exposed to high concentrations of E.coli, such as the skin around the anus, are rarely infected with this gut bug.

Bug busting

Higher levels of psoriasin were found on the hands, in the armpits and on the face.

Lower levels were found on the backs of the legs and arms.

"Psoriasin is probably key in the local innate [inborn] defence of healthy skin against the gut bacterium E.coli," said the authors.

Dr Mark Farrar, from the Skin Research Centre at Leeds University, said: "What's interesting is the mechanism by which it kills - using zinc.

Some strains of E. coli cause illness

"It's a novel mechanism."

But he said other characteristics of the skin were also important in preventing infection.

"The skin is very dry which is a hostile environment for bacteria. That could be a major factor as well."

Dr Farrar said that in the future it might be worth looking at other molecules that work in a similar way to psoriasin, to develop new antimicrobial products, particularly against more harmful or pathogenic strains of bacteria.

But he added: "It would take a while to develop something that could be used routinely."

He said scientists should monitor what effect psoriasin has on the naturally occurring skin bacteria.

"If they are resistant to killing [by psoriasin] you could look at what the mechanism of resistance is, which, in turn, could tell you whether pathogenic organisms are likely to develop resistance in the future," he said.

2004/2005 Oxoid Food Safety and Hygiene Awards Now Open

The Oxoid Awards are designed to reward the companies, laboratories and individuals who ensure that our food is safe to eat. Last year, Young's Bluecrest Seafood Ltd won Oxoid Laboratory of the Year and are seen here receiving their prize from Oxoid's CEO Mike Smith (pictured centre). The 2004/2005 Oxoid Awards are now open for entry and there are three prize categories:

Oxoid Laboratory Technician of the Year - the first prizewinner will receive ¡Ì1000, a trip to the 2005 International Association of Food Protection Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, and a commemorative trophy. Second and third prizewinners will receive framed certificates of merit.

Oxoid Laboratory of the Year - for this Award entries are welcome from all types of laboratories that are involved in food hygiene and safety. So if you are an in-house, contract or public laboratory that is really making a difference to standards of food hygiene and safety, this your opportunity to be recognised. The first prize in this category is ¡Ì500, second and third prizewinners will receive framed certificates of merit.

The Judges' Special Award - in previous years the Judges found that some entries did not meet the criteria for Laboratory Technician of the Year or Laboratory of the Year, but were worthy of special mention. So for 2004/2005 Oxoid has introduced The Judges' Special Award. The winner will receive ¡Ì500 and a commemorative trophy.

The Awards are easy to enter. For full details please contact Jennifer Laidlaw, Awards Manager, contact details are at the top of this page.