Hopefully, a few of the 1999 predictions I¡¯ve forecast here will become a reality in the next decade.¡± By his next update for this publication in 2002, most of Dr. Fung¡¯s prognostications were indeed realities?before the decade even hit the midway mark.
In this 2004 Food Safety Magazine interview, Dr. Fung once again takes out his crystal ball (the scientific one, of course!) and analyzes his earlier predictions to see what has transpired and what has yet to transpire in the field.
Food Safety Magazine: Have rapid and automated microbiological methods expan-ded capabilities in the food industry?
Daniel Y.C. Fung: First, the demand for microbiological testing worldwide is increasing and encompasses many product categories, from food and beverage, to pharmaceutical and environmental, to personal care and industrial processing (see box, p. 00). In 2003, according to new market research published in Strategic Consulting Inc.¡¯s Industrial Microbiology Market Review, 2nd Edition, the volume of microbiological tests was estimated to be a worldwide market of 1,136.5 billion tests conducted annually, of which 558.1 million were run in the food industry. Of the six identified industrial sectors, the food industry is the largest market for microbiological tests, representing 49% of the total volume of testing performed, followed by the pharmaceutical (206.9 million), personal care product (194.3 million), beverage (102.4 million), environmental (44.8 million) and industrial processing (30 million) sectors. An analysis of the market trend from 1993-2003 shows that the volume of microbiological testing has experienced steady growth in all of these segments and the report predicts that worldwide usage of rapid microbiological testing methods will double by 2008.
I think this market growth is an indicator that we are making progress in developing better, more usable rapid microbiological detection and analytical methods and technologies that can provide the speed to result that many food companies require. So, these advances really have expanded the food industry¡¯s capabilities and as I¡¯ve said in the past, the reasons that food manufacturers test products are well established. These include finding out whether the raw materials coming into your processing plant are of good quality or not, and whether ingredients and raw materials meet your company¡¯s specifications for microbiological integrity and other requirements. If suppliers don¡¯t meet the specs, they will lose the business. For example, a ground beef processor supplying to fast food operation typically will have a microbial specification of 100,000 organisms and less per gram of ground beef. If you have more than 100,000 organisms per gram, the beef is not very good and will be rejected. The faster the test, the more quickly unacceptable ingredient can be prevented from entering the plant in the first place and the higher the assurance the company has in protecting itself and the health of consumers.
Of course, the next area in which the food manufacturer needs to conduct testing is in the factory itself during the processing. There are different critical points in each manufacturer¡¯s process where you want to know if you have an unusual number of organisms in the product or not, and whether the plant environment is clean and sanitary. Even with the best Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) program, companies are still testing the end product before they release it, as well. Rapid and automated microbiology have really allowed food manufacturers to expand their capabilities to streamline food safety and quality assurance.
With all of these tests, the faster the better, the simpler the better. Overall, my prediction is that rapid methods will enable companies to test more and more classes of foods. We all know that the use of these methods is well established in meat, poultry, dairy and seafood but many people don¡¯t realize that a mere 10 years ago we weren¡¯t concentrating on fruits and vegetables. In the beginning, everyone thought produce was clean until we witnessed E. coli, Salmonella and other pathogen-associated foodborne illness outbreaks sourced to produce. So this is a newer area of concern and the demand for testing in this class of food will increase. Another interesting trend is the increase in consumer demand for imported ethnic foods, such as those you find in ethnic grocery stores. People expect to know exactly what is in the food they consume and these ethnic foods are not being tested regularly.
The Strategic Consulting market report I¡¯ve quoted above also states that roughly 20% of all microbiology tests performed in the food industry are for pathogenic organisms such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7, with the remaining 80% of tests falling into the routine testing category, which includes total count, coliform count and yeast and mold. I predict that in the next five years we will see the percentage of pathogen testing increase by 10%, with a corresponding 10% decrease in the percentage of routine testing as new standards, regulations and or pathogens of concern to the food industry emerge.
Similarly, I also think that the balance of where tests are done worldwide is going to shift. Currently, the total amount of tests conducted throughout the world is split at about 33% each between North America, Europe and the rest of the world. But I think that in the next 10 years, those percentages will shift to 25% North America, 25% Europe and 50% rest of the world. This is because other countries are becoming more conscientious of food safety. In China, for example, the economy is growing and with an improvement in wealth there often follows an improvement in health. Essentially, people are able to and like to eat better food. As such, many countries are looking into safer and healthier foods, so I predict that the food testing market will grow substantially in the rest of the world.
Food Safety Magazine: Will you review your 10 predictions from 2002 and talk about whether you think these forecasts on food microbiology advances in rapid and automated methods have been realized?
Fung: It has been nearly a decade since I made the first set of predictions on advances in the development of rapid and automated microbiology methods, and again, many of these predictions have now been realized. There are exciting new developments in the field that are enabling food microbiologists to get more sensitive, more accurate and very fast results, which in turn helps food manufacturers more quickly release their products to market with a high level of assurance that the products they ship are safe and of good quality.
I think the 10 points made in my predictions are still valid but they have been refined. We have witnessed incremental advances since my 2002 update, and we are doing quite well overall in increasing speed, sensitivity and specificity of microbiological diagnostic test results.
Prediction 1. Viable Cell Counts Will Still Be Used. I would like to add to this predictive statement ¡°and more efficiently,¡± because there have been many developments in instrumentation that are allowing more efficient ways to obtain viable cell count. Again, the ability to tell whether cells are alive or dead in a sample is important because live cells, which can be harmful to the health of those consuming them, will grow into millions of cells in just a few hours. The viable cell count enables us to identify the spoilage potential of a food and, of course, the potential of pathogens to grow in large numbers that will make us sick. As such, viable cell count?total aerobic count, anaerobic count, differential count, and pathogenic count?is a very important parameter used to assess the safety and hygienic quality of food and beverage products. During the last few years, improvements in alternative methods, including rapid culture methods, spiral plating systems and other innovations in more efficient dilution instruments and sample preparation instruments, have made viable cell count procedures more efficient and rapid.
Some of the specific advances I¡¯ve predicted in this area are closer to reality, including the improvement of vital stains using very specific dyes that differentiate living versus non-living cells in less than one hour and the development of hand-held units in which a film is produced from the reaction of a sample and vital stain and automatically scanned to provide a viable cell count. A very interesting new development relates to the automation of the conventional most probable number (MPN) technique, which is difficult to run and very time-consuming. When yours truly developed a miniaturized MPN system 30 years ago, it improved on the drawbacks of the method but still had to be performed manually. Recently, the Journal of Rapid Methods & Automation in Microbiology published a paper detailing how my system is being automated using instruments and sophisticated statistics to increase the efficiency of the MPN method.
Something new in this area is work involving developing technology that can split a cell into many, many particles, which can be used instead of single-organism counting methods. For example, you break up one E. coli into several thousand pieces through sonification or some other method, and then attach to each particle some signal that can be amplified so that eventually you can detect one E. coli in a liquid. The cell particles react with a special compound, enabling the microbiologist to see and count all the organisms. This is actually being done: You can detect one cell. And, if you can detect one cell, imagine a scenario where you can bombard that cell and pick it up?now you¡¯ve got some markers that show the cell is alive and markers that show the cell is pathogenic. With these multiple markers of that one cell¡¯s breakup products you can identify both the pathogenic bacteria and their numbers quickly. Thus, I would refine my original prediction to include a new prediction that the industry will see advances in rapid microbiology technology that will allow us to detect organisms and get a viable cell count at the same time. I know one company right now that has technology that can detect one E. coli per mL in a liquid in about 10 minutes. This is almost like science fiction, but it is being done right now.
Another of my predictions related to viable cell counts was the development of technologies for early sensing of viable colonies on agar. I stated that I believed that in the future it would be possible to use heat-sensing or colony-sensing devices to detect the development of colonies on the agar without having to ¡°see¡± the colonies with one¡¯s eyes. This development would shorten the procedure to about three to four hours instead of the traditional 48 hours to count a visible colony. Well, I just saw something in Boston that really is like science fiction. A person there showed me a series of agar plates showing from one, individual cell on a plate all the way to an actual colony (which could be seen with the naked eye) by a procedure involving an antibody reaction and the amplification of specific dyes. The ability to identify one E. coli O157:H7 on the surface of an agar is really amazing. This type of development, which shows our ability to see cells much sooner, supports my earlier predictions.
Prediction 2. Real-Time Monitoring of Hygiene Will Be in Place. Of course, ATP bioluminescence diagnostic tests are firmly entrenched in food company hygiene monitoring and sanitation programs worldwide?and with good cause. These systems are truly rapid methods, offering food companies real-time screening results about the cleanliness of processing equipment and facilities and promoting good cleaning practices in food plants that reduce microbial contamination. As I stated in 2002, the use of catalase enzyme, surface contact plates, paddle methods, swabs, the Petrifilm contact method, impedance instrumentation and optical method automated systems all have significantly helped food manufacturers obtain very rapid indicators of hygiene.
Recently, there has been a more concerted movement to improve residue testing in terms of hygiene monitoring applications. Our ability to measure the presence of protein, fat, carbohydrate, and so on, has improved since my 2002 prediction. In particular, protein tests have moved beyond the first generation stage and today allow the user to detect protein residues in five seconds. These are instant detection tests are very simple?you take a swab, activate it, swab the target surface, and if it changes to a specified color, you know that too much protein is present, which indicates that microbes are present in unacceptable numbers.
Prediction 3. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), Ribotyping, and Genetic Tests Will Become Reality in Food Laboratories. This was a bold prediction in 1995, a not-so-bold one in 1999 and a given in 2004. Today, many food companies and the federal government are using PCR to detect pathogens because the method offers the ability to detect with a high degree of specificity and rapidity several pathogens of interest. More and more food industry labs, including smaller ones, are incorporating genetic-based rapid methods and testing because the newer systems are user friendly. For example, at one laboratory I know they are using an automated instrument to perform gene sequencing to confirm Salmonella. The machine can do it very fast and its sophisticated automation eliminates many of the time-consuming aspects of past genetic testing protocols.
While PCR, ribotyping and other genetic-based tests have become a reality in many laboratories, their application will be even more useful if these systems can do more to determine the virulence factor. This means that the microbiologist not only can detect the organism but also can determine whether the organism possesses a pathogenic gene. This exciting advance is now being made and it will be quite useful to know that gene. We hear about the mapping of the human genome, but there also are many bacteria that have been completely genetically mapped, as well. We now have very detailed information that we can study to discover why L. monocytogenes or E. coli O157:H7 is pathogenic, which enhances our ability to develop better methods to control or eliminate that harmful pathogenicity in food. Molecular biology is here to stay and will flourish.
Prediction 4. Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) and Immunological Tests Will Be Completely Automated and Widely Used. ELISA is well established and highly trusted as a microbial detection technique in food testing applications. In 2002, I noted that test kit manufacturers were focusing on improving lateral flow test systems to increase their sensitivity. Since then, the systems have indeed been refined to the point that they can detect 105 or even 104 organisms and some near the 8-hour total test time mark.
Although rapid ELISA tests are indeed widely used in the food industry because of their rapidity (some provide results in 8 hours), as stated in my prediction, these immunological tests are not yet completely automated. However, automation of ELISA tests is improving for the benefit of the food industry. For example, there have been advances by some companies that offer automated ELISA systems who have begun to develop interesting new media designed for use with their systems that speed the enrichment process.
At Kansas State, we just recently completed a work studying a combination method using immunomagnetic separation and ELISA technology that can detect E. coli O157:H7 in 5.25 hours. In this automated system, immunomagnetic capture is combined with ELISA. Following growth of the organisms, immunomagnetic beads are placed with the antibody against the organisms and the entire 250 mL sample is circulated through the machine many times. Each time and every time it comes back to the magnetic area, organisms are captured. In approximately 30 minutes nearly all of the organisms are captured and the beads are released. The beads and bacteria go through an ELISA test. For example, a sample of ground beef is placed in the broth and incubated for 4.5 hours, circulated for 30 minutes and then undergoes the ELISA test where the reaction takes place. If you see a positive, you will confirm, and if negative, the food is safe. The speed to result of 5.25 hours is the fastest possible right now. I am trying to reduce this time even more by growing the pathogen in oxyrase and shortening the incubation to 3 hours. Perhaps we can cycle the sample faster and capture more organisms by doing this. I am absolutely sure that this type of combination technology will be able to provide results in four hours. That¡¯s what I predict and it is an exciting thought.
Prediction 5. Dipstick Technology Will Provide Rapid Answers. Many forms of dipsticks have been available for rapid screening of pathogens and today are widely used in the food industry. While they provide very fast microbial detection and screening results, I would add to this prediction that we will see advances in increasing the tool¡¯s sensitivity. By this I mean that dipstick technology will be improved in the future so that it detects not only the antigens but toxins, as well. We must realize that dipstick technology is used after preenrichment, and the methods can provide results in 10 minutes but you need to have the culture enriched to about 106 organisms before it will provide a sensitive reaction.
Prediction 6. Biosensors Will Be in Place in HACCP Programs. In 2002, I said that we are a few steps away from the ability to place biosensors in food processing systems for the instantaneous detection of pathogens in the food matrix. And we are still a few steps away. Again, there is no lack of sensors available, particularly if one considers monitoring of ATP, catalase, enzymes, pH, oxygen gas, hydrogen gas, other metabolic products, conductance, impedance, capacitance, microcalorimetry, and so on, as ¡°biosensors¡± for microbial activities. These methods can be used successfully now, but they will not enable the user to detect specific pathogens in ¡°real time,¡± and thus are not fully efficient for use in the HACCP program.
The problem with biosensors is that is very difficult to capture one target pathogen in 25 grams and get it to interact with the biosensor. The biosensor itself is fantastic but if there is any interference the signal will not be accurate. We must have good separation technology in order to utilize biosensors to their fullest potential in terms of food testing.
Prediction 7. Instant Detection of Target Pathogens Will Be Possible By Computer-Generated Matrix in Response to Particular Characteristics of Pathogens. In 1995, when I first made this prediction, I didn¡¯t refer to the exact method by which this instant detection would be accomplished. Now, I know that this prediction is really referring to technological advances in microchips or microarray biochips. With these chips (one million dots on one small slide), we can study different pathogenic genes and their characteristics. We now can instantaneously flood a pure culture or preparation and very quickly get a reaction with the target organisms. Microarray technology allows you to test multiple pathogens simultaneously. Today, we can test 10 pathogens and analyze each pathogen for 10 specific genes. Given the advances in microarray technology, we soon should be able to detect 100 pathogens on one chip. With microchips that are in development right now we can detect Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobac-ter genes. The organisms will hybridize and by entering specific dyes, the organisms easily stand out.
An exciting aspect of this is that such technology is moving us in the direction where it is possible to have one test that can show us all the positives for pathogens and all the viable cell counts at once. I predict that in the future there will be microchip systems that will capture all of the important foodborne pathogens known at that point and allow for viable cell count so that the food manufacturer will be able to release product more efficiently. In many cases, product is held until all test results are in, and that means staggering the release because frequently it takes five days for yeast and mold and only two days for total count, but you cannot release the product you have the results for both. With a microchip, there is a real possibility of multiplexing, or having all pathogens and bioburden on the same platform, so that we could have a single test for coliform, total count, yeast and mold, and pathogens of interest.
Prediction 8. Effective Separation, Concentration of Target Cells Will Greatly Assist in Rapid Identification. This is the bottleneck of food microbiology right now because we do not know how to separate and concentrate target cells efficiently. We always need to enrich the organisms. Separation technology is an area of great interest for development, including immunomagnetic, filtration, centrification and electrostatic attraction, because it can save at least one day in the enrichment procedure of many pathogen detection protocols such as PCR, ELISA, gene probes and other methods. We need to identify better ways to concentrate the cell and the target organisms so that it is possible to use new technologies like microarray to analyze the sample. For example, the problem with microarray is that one meat particle will ruin the whole system. You can not have any interference particles when you analyze microarray samples. Developments that will advance separation technology is exceedingly important.
Prediction 9. A Rapid Microbiolog-ical Alert System Will Be in Food Packages. Advances are moving us closer and closer to making this prediction come true. As I stated in the updated predictions for 2002, we know that microbial cells during growth and spoilage will generate a variety of compounds that can be detected by various devices. There now are sensors in food packages that can sense CO2, pH, ammonia, and other compounds. There is technology in which antibodies from certain pathogens are placed on the packaging film and if the pathogen is present, it reacts with this antibody and further reacts with another antibody inside a unit that automatically makes a sandwich ELISA test on the packaging film.
I also know companies that have been continuing to develop the barcode color change type of system that I¡¯ve talked about in previous updates, in which a series of reagents is embedded in a unit within the food package and when enough of a certain gas (e.g., ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, CO2, or pH changes) is generated, a color change will occur similar to temperature-sensitive papers to indicate a potential spoilage problem exists and at what level of spoilage the product has reached by the number of bars that have changed color. I¡¯m convinced that this will be an excellent tool for consumers, who will be able to throw away spoiled food, as long as they are educated about the color change.
Prediction 10. Consumer Will Have Rapid Alert Kits for Pathogens at Home. It remains conceivable that rapid alert kits for food spoilage and even potential food pathogen detectors available for home use will be developed. I know of some individuals who are trying to make CO2 detection technology into solid state technology so that people can check food packages for themselves at home. As I stated earlier, we would still need a lot of consumer education. I am also hopeful that these at-home microbiological alert systems will do more than just alert the consumer that a food is potentially dangerous. It would be very good if the kit provides information on cooking and storing foods properly so consumers can better protect themselves.
Food Safety Magazine: What are the top pathogens of concern to the food industry?
Fung: Two years ago I stated that if I had to give a top five list of microorganisms of concern to the food industry, I¡¯d include Salmonella, Clostridium, Staphylo-coccus, E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and I still believe this is true. I also stated that we need to monitor the various strains of all these pathogens because these also have antibiotic-resistant and toxigenic characteristics or properties that are associated with a large number of foodborne illness outbreaks. Again, we should not jump on the bandwagon of a ¡°top five¡± list; we must monitor all potentially harmful pathogens in foods.
I think that the next wave of microbes of concern will be viruses and protozoa. Viruses are very hard to detect and while we can detect them through molecular biology methods, we cannot do so with accuracy. The next major concern is how to work with viruses; in other words, how to extract them out of the food sample in order to detect them. We also are starting to worry about protozoa in water, fruits and vegetables because of irrigation methods that spread fecal material in the water and on crops. When a foodborne illness outbreak occurs, we often don¡¯t know what the source of the problem is at the outset and so we will first look for bacteria, yeast and mold. However, if the source of the outbreak is a virus or protozoa, we have no idea. So I predict that there will be more activity in food virology and food parasitology.
Because of advancements in molecular biology, these techniques are now a useful tool in the food lab and will likely help us to more easily deal with viruses. For example, PCR is useful in food virology because it can amplify DNA and the reverse-transcriptase RNA. In the same vein, we can use food molecular biology to very rapidly detect target microorganisms. At our annual International Rapid Methods Workshop here at Kansas State University, we coined another term several years ago, ¡°Food Molecular Biology Day,¡± dedicating one entire day of the workshop to this topic. The use of food molecular biology will definitely increase in the near future because this field encompasses the identification and detection of the genetic material of all bacteria, yeasts, molds, viruses, parasites and even higher organisms.
According to a new market report, in 2003 the worldwide industrial microbiology market generated more than 1.1 billion tests and had a market value in excess of $3.2 billion. The report includes a thorough review of the global market along with detailed examinations into its six main sectors?food processing, beverage, pharmaceutical, personal care products, environmental and industrial process.
Microbiology Market Review, 2nd Edition: Global Review of Microbiology Testing
in the Industrial Market,¡± from Strategic Consulting Inc., projects that worldwide
microbiology testing in this area will continue to grow over the next five years
and will reach 1.5 billion tests in 2008 with a market value of more than $4.9
billion.(For more information, visit www.strategic-consult.com or e-mail queries
Daniel Y. C. Fung, Ph.D., is professor of food science at Kansas State University (KSU), Manhattan, KS, and director of KSU¡¯s annual International Workshop on Rapid Methods and Automation in Microbiology, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in June 2005. Dr. Fung is an internationally recognized authority in the field of rapid methods, authoring more than 700 papers on the subject. Among the numerous honors awarded to him for outstanding achievements in the field of food microbiology include his participation as an invited lecturer at the 100-year commemoration of the death of Louis Pasteur in Paris, the International Award given by Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) in 1997, and his election to the first group of Fellows by the International Academy of Food Science and Technology. He can be contacted at Dfung@oznet.ksu.edu.
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of Article: http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2005-01-02-canada-madcow_x.htm?csp=34
TORONTO (AP) ? Canada on Sunday confirmed its second case of mad cow disease, just days after the United States said it planned to reopen its border to Canadian beef.
The dairy cow from Alberta, which was born in 1996, has tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, as mad cow disease is formally known, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The results confirmed preliminary tests released earlier this week.
The border was closed 19 months ago when a cow in northern Alberta was discovered with mad cow disease, which attacks the animals' nervous system. Concerns persisted after a Canadian-born cow in Washington state was found in December 2003 to have the disease.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday that the border could be opened in March. Despite learning of the new suspected case, the Bush administration said the next day that it would stand by its decision to renew Canadian cattle imports, expressing confidence that public health measures in both countries will protect U.S. livestock and consumers. Food contaminated with BSE can afflict people with usually fatal variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The Agriculture Department suggested Sunday that its stance would not change. "I don't anticipate that this confirmation will change implementation of our rule," department spokeswoman Alisa Harrison said Sunday. "I think it's pretty much where we were last week. We've been working closely with Canadian officials."
Harrison said U.S. officials had considered the possibility of additional confirmed mad cow cases in Canada and their action was "based on guidelines set by the World Health Organization." She said the rule is to be formalized on Tuesday. Under the WHO guidelines, Harrison said, a country with a cattle population of 5.5 million head over 24 months of age like Canada could have 11 cases of mad cow during a consecutive 12-month period and still be considered a minimal risk country. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said the infected cow did not enter the human food or animal feed supply and posed no risk to the public. Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin spoke to President Bush on Friday about the new suspected case. Martin sought assurances that it would not mean a re-closure of the U.S. border to Canadian beef imports, and Bush assured him that his administration is committed to keeping the border open, a Canadian official said on condition of anonymity.
Authorities said the cow was born in Alberta in 1996, prior to the introduction of the 1997 feed ban. It is suspected that the animal became infected by contaminated feed before the ban. BSE is a chronic, degenerative disorder affecting the central nervous system of cattle. Since it was first diagnosed in Britain in 1986, there have been more than 180,000 cases.
Before the trade ban, animals regularly crossed the border and Canada sold more than 70% of its live cattle to the United States. That market was worth $1.5 billion in 2002. The decision to allow Canadian cows into the United States in light of the latest scare brought sharp responses from several Democratic lawmakers last week. Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., called the decision "outrageous" and accused the Agriculture Department leadership of caring "more about the interests of mega feed lots and processors than the interests of farmers, ranchers and consumers." Ron DeHaven, administrator of the agriculture department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, has said beef brought into the United State will be subject to Canadian inspection and subject to re-inspection by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. The USDA ruling, effective March 7, declared Canada a "minimal-risk region" so that cattle could be shipped into the United States under certain restrictions. The cattle must be slaughtered by the age of 30 months, which scientists say is too young to contract mad cow disease, and they must be transported in sealed containers to a feedlot or slaughter house. The discovery in Washington state a year ago is the only confirmed case of mad cow disease in the United States. There have been a handful of suspected mad cow cases during preliminary screening in the United States, but more sophisticated tests produced negative results for the disease.
the beef industry and the USDA acknowledge that eventually another mad cow case
is likely to be discovered among the 40 million adult cattle in the United States.
About 1% of the herd, or 446,000 cattle, are considered in the targeted "high
risk" category, according to the USDA, because they are not ambulatory and
do not show signs of other ailments. Darcy
Davis, chair of Alberta Beef Producers, said Sunday the new case should not cause
too much concern among Canadian beef producers. "It's
an ongoing concern with BSE, but at the same time we have the safeguards in place
and we're handling it scientifically now and we know that we have an extremely
low incidence," Davis said. While
investigators have identified the latest infected animal's farm of origin, they
were shifting their efforts Sunday to identify any other animals of similar risk
? specifically, recently born offspring of the infected animal and cattle born
on the same farm within a year of the infected animal.
Food Safety and Solar Cooking
Food safety for food cooked by any method requires meeting specific rigid conditions. Cooked food at temperatures between 125¡Æ F and 50¡Æ F (52¡Æ C - 10¡Æ C) can grow harmful bacteria. This temperature range is known as the danger zone. To protect against food poisoning, microbiologists and home economists strongly recommend that food be kept either above or below these temperatures. These precautions are the same whether food is cooked with gas, electricity, microwaves, wood fire, or solar heat as well as foods cooked by retained heat, crock pot, barbecue pit or any other method. In cooked food held at room temperature, there is a chance of Bacillus cereus food poisoning, a major intestinal illness. Worse, if the food is not thoroughly reheated before consumption, there is a chance of deadly botulism poisoning or salmonella. Even if it is reheated, when cooked food has been in the danger zone for three to four hours, there remains a risk of food poisoning in solar cooked food as in food cooked by any other method.
It has been carefully documented with regard to solar box cookers that it is safe to place raw refrigerated or frozen food, even chicken or other meat, in an SBC in the morning several hours before the sun begins to cook it. Refrigerated food placed in an SBC remains sufficiently cold until the sun starts to heat the SBC. Once the full sun is on the oven, the heating of food proceeds quickly enough so that there is no danger of food poisoning.2 Uncooked grains, beans and other dried raw foods can also be placed in an SBC in advance. Both of these methods facilitate absentee cooking.
There are three main points at which caution is required: it is dangerous to keep cooked food more than three or four hours in an unheated or cooling SBC unless both the SBC and food have been cooled rather quickly to below 50¡Æ F (10¡Æ C) in which case the SBC is serving as a cool box; it is dangerous to let cooked food remain overnight in an SBC unless it is likewise cooled; and it is dangerous for food to partially cook and then remain warm in the SBC when temperatures are not sustained as might occur on a poor solar cooking day, at the end of the day or when clouds move in. Cooked or partially cooked food should either be cooled to below 50¡Æ F (10¡Æ C) or cooking should be finished with an alternate fuel. If food has remained in the temperature danger zone for 3 to 4 hours it should be considered spoiled and should be discarded. Reheating the food does not correct the problem as heat does not inactivate all toxins.
Food does not have to be visibly spoiled in order to be toxic and cause illness evidenced by nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Even if food has not been at the incubating temperatures of the danger zone for the full 3 to 4 hours, absolutely discard food that is bubbling, foaming, has a bad smell, is becoming discolored, or gives any other indication of spoilage. Discard it out of reach of animals and children and thoroughly wash the pot. Discard it without tasting it as even small amounts can make an adult very sick.
If temperatures below 50¡Æ F (10¡Æ C) cannot be obtained, it is still valuable to drop food temperatures as low as possible and as quickly as possible rather than allowing food to remain warm since bacteria grow more slowly at lower temperatures.
An alternative method of holding cooked food is to reliably maintain the temperature of the entire food mass above 125¡Æ F (53¡Æ C). This can be achieved by first heating the food to boiling, simmering for a few minutes to allow heat to penetrate to the center of each particle and for a pocket of steam to collect under the lid. Then proceed as for retained heat cooking. This provides the level of temperature needed throughout the food, whereas leaving a pot of food on a very small flame may allow food at the edges to remain in the danger zone. Where neither of these methods can be used, it is best to cook amounts of food that will be consumed in one meal relatively soon after being cooked.
article was excerpted from The Expanding World of Solar Box Cooking, by Barbara
BSE confirmed in suspect Alberta animal; investigations underway
Sun Jan 2, 8:58 PM ET
Source of Article: http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/cpress/20050103/ca_pr_on_na/mad_cow_5
OTTAWA (CP) - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed Sunday that an older dairy cow from Alberta tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, BSE (news - web sites), otherwise known as mad cow disease.
No part of the animal entered the human food or animal feed systems and the finding does not indicate an increased risk to food safety, the agency said in a release Sunday.
The case is not expected to affect a U.S. decision to reopen its border to Canadian cattle.
The border was closed to all Canadian beef 19 months ago when a cow in northern Alberta was discovered with mad cow disease, costing the Canadian cattle industry about $5 billion.
The border has gradually been reopened to some cuts from younger animals but the ban on imports of live animals remains in effect.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (news - web sites) announced Dec. 29 that the border could be fully opened in March. Despite learning of the new suspected case the next day, the Bush administration said it would stand by its decision.
The latest infected animal was born in 1996, prior to the introduction of a 1997 ban on feed containing animal parts. It is suspected that the cow became infected by contaminated feed before the ban was implemented.
"Canada's public health safeguards have been developed on the assumption that a low, declining level of BSE remains in North America," the statement said.
Canada requires the removal of specified risk material, known as SRM, from all animals entering the human food supply. SRM are tissues that, in infected cattle, contain the BSE agent.
The measure is recognized as the most effective way to protect public health from BSE, the agency said.
The Alberta animal was a dairy cow but more of a family pet and not in commercial milk production, a CFIA veterinarian confirmed last week.
The cow was first examined Dec. 17 after she was identified as a "downer" - too sick to walk.
Before definitive diagnostic findings were released Sunday, tissue samples were tested twice in Edmonton and Winnipeg using two different preliminary quick tests. Test results from all four failed to clear the cow. "Confirming BSE in this animal is not unexpected," the statement added.
Canadian officials have informed the U.S. Department of Agriculture of all results in this case before they have been made public. Officials in Ottawa and Washington have sought to diminish the importance of the latest sick cow and have played down suggestions the case might lead to another prolonged, expensive trade snag. Darcy Davis, chair of Alberta Beef Producers, said the results should not cause concern among Canadian beef producers.
"It's an ongoing concern with BSE, but at the same time we have the safeguards in place and we're handling it scientifically now and we know that we have an extremely low incidence," said Davis on Sunday night from his home in Acme, Alta.
tested over 20,000 head of higher-risk cattle at this point, so really I don't
see how it adds any more worry. With the ban on feed containing animal parts,
Davis estimated 90 per cent of cows in the country are risk-free. While investigators
have identified the latest infected animal's farm of origin, they were shifting
their efforts Sunday to identify any other animals of similar risk - specifically,
recently born offspring of the infected animal and cattle born on the same farm
within a year of the infected animal.
January 2003: Marwyn Peaster, a farmer near Wanham, Alta., notices his Black Angus cow is ill and unable to stand. He ships it for slaughter.
Jan. 31: The cow is condemned on the kill floor as unfit for human consumption. Its brain stem is sent to an Edmonton lab but is deemed low priority and not tested for months.
May 16: Tissue tests on the cow show bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency in Winnipeg confirms the finding and the sample is sent to a British lab.
May 20: The British lab confirms the test results. The CFIA announces the cow was infected with BSE. The United States immediately closes its borders to Canadian beef and cattle and 33 more countries follow suit. Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief tells reporters: "I want to stress from the beginning this is one cow."
May 21: Mel McCrea from Baldwinton, Sask., gets a phone call telling him his ranch must be quarantined. Eventually 17 farms in B.C., Saskatchewan and Alberta are quarantined in the hunt for the birthplace of the cow.
June 5: Test results show none of the 1,200 animals slaughtered to date have BSE.
June 6: Four international inspectors arrive to review Canada's BSE investigation.
June 17: Federal Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief announces a beef industry compensation package, cost-shared with provinces, of up to $460 million.
July 18: Vanclief announces changes to slaughter rules as recommended by the international experts panel: cattle tissues at high risk to carry BSE - notably brain and spinal cord - must be removed at the slaughterhouse for cattle older than two and a half years.
July 26: More than 2,000 people from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Montana rally at the Coutts border crossing in southern Alberta to get the border reopened.
Aug. 8: The U.S. and Mexico partially lift the ban on some Canadian beef, allowing some beef products but no cattle. A month later, boneless cuts are moving over the border.
Sept. 14: Alberta Premier Klein tells a meeting of U.S. governors in Montana that "any self-respecting rancher would have shot, shovelled and shut-up," rather than report a case of mad cow. Klein later explains he was just reflecting on the absurdity of the situation.
Oct. 2: Mexico, Canada's second largest beef market after the U.S., announces it will take some Canadian beef products still banned by U.S., including liver, kidney, heart and tongue.
Oct. 8: Tests confirm the cow that sparked the Canadian crisis was born in Saskatchewan.
Oct. 31: U.S. Department of Agriculture issues proposed rule to allow import of live Canadian cattle under age of 30 months.
Dec. 23: U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announces the first suspected U.S. case of mad cow - a Holstein in Washington state - but says
"We remain confident in the safety of our food supply."
Dec. 25: A British lab confirms earlier findings that the U.S. cow had BSE; 30 countries eventually close their borders to U.S. beef. Canada imposes a partial ban.
Dec. 27: The USDA says it has information the infected cow came from an Alberta herd.
Jan. 5, 2004: The comment period closes in the U.S. on the proposal to reopen the border to live Canadian cattle under 30 months, but officials say no decision will be made until the Washington state mad cow investigation is concluded.
Jan. 6: DNA tests confirm the Washington state cow came from an Alberta herd but USDA chief veterinarian Ron DeHaven says: "Beef continues to be safe, whether this cow originated in Canada or not."
Jan. 9: Bob Speller, the successor to Vanclief as agriculture minister, announces $92 million will be spent over the next five years to increase mad cow testing from the current level of 5,500 to 30,000.
Jan. 13: U.S. President George Bush (news - web sites), meeting with Prime Minister Paul Martin at the Summit of the Americas in Mexico, promises renewed co-operation to keep beef safe.
Feb. 24: Statistics Canada reports that farm income fell to its lowest level in three years in 2003 due in part to the mad cow crisis. Revenue from livestock fell 11 per cent, the largest such drop in more than a decade.
March 3: Klein, pressed by reporters on why his government blocked Alberta's auditor general from investigating allegations of meat packer price gouging, storms out of his news conference, saying: "I've had enough of this crap."
March 4: U.S. officials announce they will take public submissions until April 7 on whether to reopen the border to live Canadian cattle and beef products from older animals.
March 9: Klein, saying Media pressure forced him to reverse his position, orders Alberta's auditor general to determine if meat packers unfairly profited at the expense of cattle producers and consumers.
March 10: The federal agriculture committee grills the heads of Canada's three main meat-packing companies over allegations packers are gouging consumers and ranchers. The executives say they don't know how much aid money trickled down to them and added they have faced increased costs due to the crisis.
March 11: Alberta Agriculture Minister Shirley McClellan releases a departmental report into mad cow aid programs. The report can't confirm whether meat packers gouged consumers and cattle producers but McClellan says the province achieved its chief aim of keeping the cattle industry alive.
March 22: Martin visits a third-generation ranch family in the heart of Alberta cattle country to announce an extra $995 million in mad cow aid money, two-thirds of which will go directly to cattle producers.
March 30: The federal agriculture committee orders Canada's top five meat-packing companies to open their books to them in private by April 21 to prove that the companies have not been profiting unfairly during the crisis.
April 7: The USDA stops taking submissions on whether the U.S. should re-open its market to Canadian cattle. Veneman promises to review the submissions quickly.
April 19: U.S. changes import rules and begins accepting more beef products from Canada, including all bone-in cuts and processed beef from animals under 30-months of age. Canada's beef industry lauds the move.
April 30: Martin pays his first visit to the White House. Bush promises the U.S. will drop its ban on live Canadian cattle "as soon as possible" but gives no firm commitment on when trade would resume. Martin later says he found Bush's response "very encouraging."
May 2004: U.S. Agriculture Department reaches deal with R-CALF USA, a protectionist cattle group, to halt imports of Canadian processed beef products such as ground beef and sausage until the larger issue of dropping the ban on live Canadian cattle is settled.
May 26: R-CALF, the Consumer Federation of America, Public Citizen, a national, non-profit consumer agency and the U.S. Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, press the U.S. government to hold public hearings on Canadian imports and want experts from the Institute of Medicine (news - web sites) and National Academy of Sciences (news - web sites) to calculate the chances of more mad cow cases.
July 23: A risk assessment study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture supports reopening the border to live Canadian cattle.
Aug. 3: Meat-packers nearly tripled their profits since the mad cow crisis hit Canada, says a report by Alberta's auditor general.
Aug. 12: Angry after struggling to survive the mad cow crisis for 15 months, a small group of Canadian producers launches a multimillion-dollar claim against the U.S. government in a bid to force the reopening of the border to live cattle.
Nov. 29: A report from BMO's economics department says Canadian cattle producers have lost about $5 billion since the crisis began.
Nov. 30: During a visit to Canada, Bush says his administration is working as quickly as it can to restore the free flow of cattle across the border.
Dec. 10: Ottawa proposes banning high-risk cattle tissues from all animal feed, pet food and fertilizers. Such materials were banned from cattle feed since 1997 to prevent BSE.
Dec. 29: The U.S. announces plans to reopen the border on March 7 to nearly all Canadian exports of beef and live cattle.
Dec. 30: CFIA announces that preliminary tests show BSE is suspected in a 10-year-old Alberta dairy cow, but U.S. officials say that won't change plan to reopen border.
Jan. 2, 2005: CFIA announces further tests confirm the 10-year-old Alberta cow had BSE and that a news conference would be held the following day in Ottawa.
Tight rules on food contact materials enforced
Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/news/news-NG.asp?n=57009-tight-rules-on
03/01/2005 - Food packaging firms enter 2005 facing tough new rules on materials used that entered into force in December 2004. Repealing the former framework Directive 89.109/EEC, the new regulation ((EC) No 1935/2004) lays down stricter demands on the purity of materials which come into direct or indirect contact with food in the packaging chain.
In addition, the rules impose tighter requirements relating to the traceability of food-contact materials, and outlines definitions for active and intelligent packaging materials as well as certain requirements for the use of these materials in the EU.
International firms working in the sector will have already absorbed the legislative changes into their daily working practice.
¡°The new EU regulation governing materials used in food packaging is both more stringent and more extensive than the previous framework legislation but the effects on Iggesund Paperboard are minimal since all our products and systems already meet the Requirements,¡± comments Jan Erik Winlund, in charge of product safety and regulatory affairs at packaging firm Iggesund Paperboard.
¡°The secondary packaging is included in the regulation in order to ensure that no undesirable substances can migrate from the secondary packaging to the food contained in the primary packaging,¡± added Winlund.
He predicts that companies which have supplied materials for secondary packaging and which were not previously affected by the requirements governing food contact will now be forced to implement extensive measures if they want to continue supplying materials for food packaging.
According to a recent article by Devon Wm. Hill the regulation establishes the principle of the ¡®traceability¡¯ (Article 17) of food-contact materials and articles at all stages of their manufacture, processing and distribution, by requiring that all business operators be able to identify the materials and articles received from and supplied to the previous and next operator in the chain.
The regulation does not specify how this objective would be achieved and leaves this to the operators themselves.
The new rules also define active and intelligent packaging materials as well as certain requirements for the use of these materials in the EU. Namely, the framework regulation calls for these materials to be the subject of a specific directive governing their use, and the regulation outlines labelling requirements and mandates that their use must not mislead the consumer.
new provision for a specific directive on active and intelligent packaging materials
has been proposed by the European Commission.
New USDA testing facility to evaluate meat safety and quality
by Ann Bagel on 12/28/04 for Meatingplace.com
After two years in development, new food processing and testing facilities for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are open in Beltsville, Md.
The new sensory testing operation at the ARS Food Technology and Safety Laboratory allows scientists to look for ways to tenderize whole muscle meats and processed meats such as hams and sausages through techniques such as hydrodynamic pressure processing. Scientists will also research methods to reduce the amount of pathogenic and spoilage microbes on such products.
Studies are underway to evaluate pressure technologies in the role of improving the quality and shelf life of meat products. These new facilities will help scientists determine the value-added capabilities of those technologies.
Meats used in testing are processed and cooked on-site using commercial equipment.
Food allergy support group forming at Co-op
January 01, 2005
Source of Article: http://www.reformer.com/Stories/0,1413,102~8868~2629611,00.html
-- A food allergy support group is being formed at the Brattleboro Food Co-op
The purpose of this group is to offer support with the challenges that are inherent with food allergies, including gluten intolerance.
Based on the need of group members, the Brattleboro Food Coop will provide classes and speakers.
Facilitating the group is clinical social worker Shafia Ciccarelli, who has extensive experience in working with groups regarding food related issues.
is a free program open to all community members. Space is limited, call the Brattleboro
Food Co-op for reservations at (802) 257-0236.
Vitamin C passed onto infants may protect against allergies
Source of Article: http://www.foodnavigator.com/news/news-NG.asp?n=56964-vitamin-c-from
03/01/2005 - Mothers who eat plenty of foods rich in vitamin C during breastfeeding could reduce the chances of their children developing allergies, report Finnish researchers.
higher concentration of vitamin C in breast milk was associated with a reduced
risk of atopy in a group of 34 infants, they report in the January 2005 issue
of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (59, pp123-128).
The researchers recruited mothers with atopic disease at the end of gestation and assessed their sensitization to allergy. Four-day food records and breast milk samples were collected when the infants were one month old.
Only dietary intake of vitamin C but not vitamin supplements was shown to influence the concentration of vitamin C in breast milk.
Higher levels of the vitamin, as well as the antioxidant beta-carotene and trace mineral selenium, were associated with a lower risk of asthma in a large study by Cornell researchers published earlier this year.
This was followed by a report from a team at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore showing that children with asthma tended to have lower blood levels of vitamin C than children with healthy lungs.
However the team cautioned that antioxidant levels may be surrogate markers for socioeconomic variables such as race, poverty, tobacco exposure, or general nutritional status.
Vitamin C and other antioxidants are thought to fight oxidation, a factor in disease.
Issues Notice For HACCP Reassessments At Plants That Slaughter Young Cattle
WASHINGTON, Dec. 23, 2004 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today informed slaughterers of young calves, including those labeled as "veal," of the need to reassess their food safety plans with respect to residues and the use of unapproved new animal drugs.
This notice reflects the need of slaughterers to consider new conditions that affect the hazard analysis or otherwise alter Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans of establishments. The notice requires establishments to reassess their HACCP plans to determine if unapproved new animal drugs are hazards reasonably likely to occur in production. Through these reassessments, establishments should make appropriate changes to HACCP plans or Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures to prevent and control identified potential food safety hazards.
Earlier this year, FSIS inspectors identified implants in young cattle that were being presented for slaughter as "veal" during routine ante-mortem and post-mortem inspections. Industry sources relayed information to FSIS officials that the use of such growth promoting implants was widespread throughout the veal industry. The Food and Drug Administration has declared that the use of growth-promoting implants in animals labeled as "veal" is illegal.
FSIS is concerned about the illegal and widespread use of implants in young calves, and believes this reflects a change in conditions that would affect the hazard analysis or alter the HACCP plans of establishments that slaughter young calves.
Comments must be received by February 22, 2005. Written comments may be submitted to the FSIS Docket Room, Reference Docket #04-017N, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Room 102 Cotton Annex, 300 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20250-3700. Any comments received will be available for public inspection in the FSIS Docket Room from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and will be posted at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FRDockets.htm.
further information contact Carole Thomas, Technical Analysis Staff, Office of
Policy, Program, and Employee Development, FSIS, U.S. Department of Agriculture,
phone (202) 205-0210.
December 27, 2004 - New Year's resolutions often begin with "I will lose
five pounds" or "I promise to exercise." But there are other resolutions
that could save you a trip to the doctor or, worse, the hospital. These resolutions
may be easier to keep - for yourself and your family. USDA advises putting these
"food safety" resolutions at the top of your 2005 New Year's list: I
will buy and use a food thermometer.
I will use an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and will check to make sure that the temperature is 40 degrees F. or below. In the freezer, I will make sure the thermometer reads 0 degrees F. or below.Bacteria grows rapidly at temperatures above 40 degrees F.
will not leave pizza sitting out on the table or my "doggie" bag in
the car overnight.
I will wash my hands and all food preparation surfaces with soap and water before and after touching raw meat, poultry or fish.Bacteria on raw meat, fish or poultry can contaminate other foods such as bread or lettuce that will not be cooked.
will not feed my dog or cat old "leftovers" or "take-out"
food that's no longer fit for people.
will not leave "take-out" or "ready-to-eat" food in the refrigerator
so long that it's forgotten.
I will not lick the spoon or the bowl of homemade cookie dough or cake batter made with raw eggs.Salmonella - a very unpleasant and potentially dangerous illness can come from eating raw eggs - even one taste of raw dough could contain harmful bacteria.
grilling outdoors, I will use a clean plate for the cooked hamburgers, hot dogs
or other meat or fish. I won't use the same plate that held raw meat.
will separate cooked foods from uncooked foods when preparing a meal, including
using separate cutting boards and knives.
will always put an ice pack in my child's lunch box and my own lunch bag if I
have a perishable lunch, such as meat, poultry, fish, milk or eggs.
will not "save money" by buying dented cans or cracked jars.
I will put meat and poultry packages in plastic bags at the meat counter before putting them in my grocery cart.Leaking packages from meat or poultry could contaminate other foods in the cart, leading to foodborne illnesses.
I have a question about food safety, I will call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
toll free at 1-888-MPHotline or 1-888-674-6854, TTY: 1-800- 256-7072.
can call the year-round hotline Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST
(English or Spanish). Listen to timely recorded food safety messages at the same
number 24 hours a day. Check out the FSIS Web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov.
E-mail questions can be answered by MPHotline.email@example.com.
By phone or on the Web, answers to your questions on...
food storage, handling, preparation
SafetySmart Hand Sanitizer Creates "Invisible Barrier" Against Bacteria
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