Sponsorship Q/A

Comprehensive News List

General Food Safety News/Outbreak News/
Recall News/New Methods News/ USDA/FDA News/
On-Line Slides/ Job Information/ Training Network/
Internet Journal of Food Saety

Updates in FoodHACCP

Listeria Training Program for All Employees
source from cornell.edu/

Powerful Search Engine - Pubmed

Journal of Food Protection Feb. Issue

JOB Openings
Quality Assurance/Sanitation Manager - Torrance, CA

Quality Control Manager - Hollister, CA

Internet Journal of Food Safety
New Article
Vol 5, 9-12
Food Safety Standards and Market Assess: Developing countries scientists get into
a new engagement with trade

To submit your research note or articles for Internet Journal of Food Safety, click here

Food Processors who need specific tranings
View the info.


FSIS Food Safety Fellowships Available
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (a regulatory agency of the US Department of Agriculture) has occasional vacancies in a program for recipients of recent doctoral degrees to serve as staff fellows in microbiology, epidemiology, biotechnology or risk assessment to learn about and contribute to FSIS's scientific and regulatory programs.

Please visit this URL or refer it to interested potential candidates:

Codex Alimentarius - Codex Committee on Food Additives and Contaminants (CCFAC)
February 2, 2005
European Commission

European Community comments on the Harmonisation of Terms (CX/FAC 05/37/12) available at http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/ifsi/eupositions/ccfac/ccfac_index_en.html

European Community comments on Inventory of Processing Aids (CX/FAC 05/37/14) available at http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/ifsi/eupositions/ccfac/ccfac_index_en.html

European Community comments on Discussion Paper on Carriers (CX/FAC 05/37/13) available at http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/ifsi/eupositions/ccfac/ccfac_index_en.html

European Community comments on the Preamble of the General Standard for Food Additives - Progress Report of the Working Group on the Working Principles of the GSFA (CX/FAC 05/37/7) available at http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/ifsi/eupositions/ccfac/ccfac_index_en.html

The University of Florida, Juice & Beverage Center and the Food Science
and Human Nutrition Department are co-sponsoring a Sanitation Symposium
with the Florida Section of IFT. This symposium will be held in
conjunction with Florida IFT's Suppliers Night on February 22, 2005, at
the Rosen Centre in Orlando, Florida. The symposium will be from 8 AM
to 3:30 PM with Suppliers Night beginning at 3:30.
The Symposium agenda can be downloaded by visiting Florida IFT's
website at:

Contact Information
Mickey Parish, Ph.D.
Co-Director, Juice & Beverage Center, and
Professor of Food Microbiology
University of Florida
863-956-1151, x1254

Sign up for United's food security webcast and guide: United's food security webcast and guide to federal food safety and security inspections
February 1, 2005
United News Release
After 9/11, protecting the food supply took on new meaning. In the past three years, Congress has passed sweeping bioterrorism legislation and government agencies have issued new regulations to protect the food supply from intentional contamination. Yet, listen to what government leaders are still saying:
"For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do." --Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, December 3, 2004
How secure is your business, and what's your responsibility for complying with new regulations? You can be sure government inspectors and market partners are intent on placing liability with you. Now, United offers produce industry members the tools you need to help understand the threats to your business and protect your interests.
Two-Part Webcast and Guide - One Low Price!
Sign up today for United's two-part webcast February 2-3 for only $250 ($500 for non-members), and receive a copy of our new Guide to Federal Food Safety and Security Inspections at no extra cost.
Webcast Part 1: The Threat of Bioterrorism to the Produce Industry
Broadcast live from the Fresh Produce & Floral Council Luncheon in Los Angeles, California
Wednesday, February 2, 2005
3:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. EST
Part 1 of our webcast provides an introductory overview of the threat of bioterrorism to the produce industry, and what government and industry are doing to ensure the security of our food supply. In this innovative learning format, internet users across the country will join with a live audience at the Fresh Produce and Floral Council's February meeting in Los Angeles for a simultaneous broadcast and live discussion. United's food security expert Dr. Donna Garren will lead the discussion from Los Angeles, featuring experts from government and the supermarket and restaurant industries, live online.
Featured Speakers:
Bill Pool, Manager, Agricultural Production & Research, Wegmans Food Markets
Dr. Ernie McCullough, Manager, Food Safety Programs, Arby's
Dr. David Acheson, Director of the FDA's Food Safety & Security Initiative
Dr. Donna Garren, Vice President, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs, UFFVA
Webcast Part 2: Complying With the Requirements of FDA's Final Rules
Thursday, February 3, 2005
3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. EST
Part 2 of our webcast convenes at the same time the next day to go into detail on what companies must do to comply with the final rules and regulations issued by FDA. New rules on establishment and maintenance of record will be explained directly by the lead author of the FDA rule to ensure your company is in compliance. And, United's outside legal counsel will explain how your company needs to comply with all four of FDA's new regulations under the Bioterrorism Act. Make sure your company is prepared when government comes to inspect your facility and your records!
Featured Speakers:
Dr. Nega Beru, Director of the FDA's Division of Plant Product Safety
David Durkin, Esq., UFFVA Legal Counsel, Olsson, Frank and Weeda, P.C
Dr. Donna Garren, Vice President, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs, UFFVA
BONUS! -- Guide to Federal Food Safety and Security Inspections
All webcast registrants will receive a copy of United¡¯s new Guide to Federal Food Safety and Security Inspections developed in cooperation with the law firm of Olsson, Frank and Weeda. This Guide will provide a detailed review of the Bioterrorism Act, including legal compliance with the four new regulations associated with the Bioterrorism Act.
How To Register
Register today to participate in the live webcasts from your own office. No travel required! Use your own computer to hear live presentations, view real-time PowerPoint visuals, and ask your own questions online - without ever leaving your desk!
Sign up today for only $250 for both webcasts ($500 for non-United members), and receive the new Guide to Federal Food Safety and Security Inspections at no extra cost. Click here to register online, and follow the simple directions for signing onto the webcasts. Registration price includes access to BOTH webcasts and the Guide; webcasts will not be sold separately, although registrants can participate in either or both sessions.
Can¡¯t Join the Webcast? Buy the Guide!
United's new Guide to Federal Food Safety and Security Inspections may be purchased separately for $100 ($200 for non-United members) by clicking here. The new Guide will be mailed to you immediately after the webcast on February 3, 2005.
Questions? Please contact United at webcast@uffva.org or call (202) 303-3400.

Call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at:
Or send Email to:

By phone or on the Web, answers to your questions on... Safe food storage, handling, preparation
Product dating
Product content
Power outages and much more!

Effective food safety education
January 2005
Food Safety In-Sight Volume 3, Number 1
TM Environ Health Associates, Inc.
Lacie Thrall / FoodHandler Inc.
Basic food safety in a restaurant kitchen is not rocket science, but it is critically important for the crew to take the time to learn about it and for managers to set the example each day. Customers never expect or want to see a manager, chef, or a crew member make a very visible food safety mistake, like not washing hands before food prep and gloving, or touching their face or hair while prepping or handling food. Have we all seen it happen in our restaurant or as a customer elsewhere? Certainly. Are you using some creativity in your current training methods to help your staff ¡°get it¡±so to speak, and reflect positive behaviors regarding food safety? Effective food safety programs tap the psychology of how people learn and make the education fun. Your well thought out training methods might also help reduce the employee turnover. Illustrate your points to the crew with real life examples from your experience and use humor. You can even use past mistakes to make a point. Food safety knowledge is such an important factor to a restaurant¡¯s success, but think of the old simple adage about learning:
For each basic concept in food safety, teach the crew ¡°who, what, where, why, and when¡±. Sometimes managers stop at the ¡°show me¡± step and don¡¯t take the time to involve the veteran crew along with a new crew member?particularly on the most simple food safety concepts like portioning, handwashing, when to use gloves, how to clean a piece of equipment, using a thermometer and learning what are the correct temperatures. Use colorful signage, videos, or workbooks to read, but don¡¯t stop there.
Positive Reinforcement --Have you done a fun verbal quiz lately with your crew about what are the correct temperatures for your foods? Do YOU know them and are they posted in the prep area? Positive reinforcement affects behaviors the most, even though behavioral changes are difficult.
Rewards / recognition for any training is needed with ongoing participation by management and employees. Examples & key tips:
- REMEMBER ? You get ALOT more with sugar than a baseball bat...
- Any kind of recognition improves performance and daily?become watchful to catch the good actions
- Team building skills are needed in food service?the veterans need reinforcement too
- Mention of their good practices on a colorful bulletin board
- Newsletter mention or local newspaper article about training of group
- Certificates of training or a ¡°leader¡± job title
- Ask the local health department for training assistance?usually it¡¯s free & onsite
- Monetary rewards, movie passes, or any kind of incentives if possible
- THANK YOUS! They¡¯re A Biggie!! The crew needs direct involvement in the food safety learning process ? NOT JUST DO AS I SAY.
Think a bit like a customer and then, do even more to make that customer notice good food safety practices!

Food safety education; does it work?
January 2005
Food Safety In-Sight Volume 3, Number 1
TM Environ Health Associates, Inc.
Roy E. Costa R.S., M.S. President Environ Health Associates, Inc.
Food safety education and training are hallmarks of food safety interventions. Food safety education is often a first step or prerequisite to implementing a food safety system. There are many types of food safety education programs, many levels and a variety of reasons why an operator might conduct food safety education and training. Legislation is the primary motivator for food safety training in the food industry as a whole. Prior to the trend toward mandatory food safety education, few persons received formal training. This picture is changing dramatically, especially at the food service and retail levels. Today, there are over 100,000 food service managers in Florida with a professional food safety manager certification. I personally trained 25,000 managers in my role as a Training and Education Specialist with the Hospitality Education Program at Florida¡¯s Division of Hotels and Restaurants. Not all managers receive training however, as Florida only requires that a manager pass an accredited exam. Many health authorities are considering legislating mandatory food safety education and certification at the food service and retail levels and evaluating the benefits versus the costs of enacting such legislation. The central question remains for many, is food safety education effective? A recent survey of food facilities conducted by the USFDA found that in facilities that had a certified manager, risk factors for foodborne illness were less likely to be out of control. To determine if manager certification alone is causing this effect requires more research, but this is a positive finding. The results of formal studies conducted to determine if food safety education is effective at changing behaviors in the commercial kitchen are mixed. Some studies show a positive correlation between training and sanitary conditions and others do not. Looked at another way, if food safety education is effective at reducing the risk factors associated with foodborne illness then eventually we should see a reduction both in cases of illness and in the number of outbreaks in restaurants when food safety education is mandated. Statistics from Florida seem to indicate, at least in this state, that education is not especially effective in reducing the number of outbreaks. In 1989, mandatory manager certification went into effect in Florida, making Florida the first state to require manager certification for all managers under a state statute. The Florida administrative rule requires at least one certified manager to be on duty at all times in facilities with four or more employees. In 1999, Florida was the first state to require all 500,000-food employees in Florida¡¯s restaurants to receive training in food safety, however state law specifically prohibits any test. Outbreaks and cases of foodborne illness in Florida are more or less at the same levels they were 10 years ago in spite of these interventions, and we must ask why. The best measure of effectiveness of training is the extent to which the information is applied. Passive training techniques do not work well for adults and most of the time food safety trainees simply attend a class to learn about food safety. The required curriculum may or may not be relevant to them. Adults learn by doing. The best food safety educational approach may be on the job training reinforced by a basic food safety course tailored to the worker. It is important to understand the reasons for a safety procedure, but it is far more important to carry out a procedure safely. While a trained employee is critical, this in itself does not assure safe food; he or she is only one component of a food safety system. While a full-blown Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system may be too sophisticated for some smaller establishments, every facility should have standards, operating procedures, and oversight of employee food handling practices. Unfortunately, the FDA Food Code does not require that an operator of a food service establishment implement a food safety program. While FDA recommends implementation of a food safety system, FDA does not mandate it. The FDA Food Code standards provide a starting point for operating procedures, but an operator must integrate the food code standards into his specific operation and then assure the standards are applied. Food safety continues to be on the minds of Americans. Mad cow disease, avian flu and SARS are newly identified communicable diseases related in some way to food. A food operator that ignores food safety education is negligent in light of the ever-increasing risk to our food supply. However, to make the most out of training an operation must have standards and operating procedures and management must evaluate food safety during production. It is clear that without management commitment and an organized approach, food safety education does not work.

Infant Botulism

Yahoo! News Wed, Feb 02, 2005
Tue Feb 1, 7:00 PM ET
Source of Article: http://news.yahoo.com

Signs and Symptoms:
Infant botulism is usually seen in children under 6 months of age. The children may receive medical attention because of symptoms such as constipation, poor sucking action, a weak cry, and a general, progressive muscle weakness.

Infant botulism is caused by Clostridium bacteria that live in soil and dust. These bacteria may also contaminate foods, especially honey. Clostridium bacteria produce a toxin (poison) called botulinum toxin, which blocks the normal messages between muscles and nerves and affects muscles everywhere in the body. The toxin usually affects intestinal muscles first.

Infant botulism occurs worldwide, and 98% of cases occur in infants between 1 to 6 months of age. In the United States, most cases of infant botulism cannot be prevented, since the spores of Clostridium bacteria are found in soil everywhere.

Infants with infant botulism may require hospital-based support for an extended period. In severe cases of infant botulism, the child may require several weeks of hospitalization and even respiratory support.

No special isolation or precautions are needed since this infection is not transmitted from person to person.

Most cases of infant botulism cannot be prevented. Parents can eliminate one risk factor by not feeding honey to children under age 1 year.

When to Call Your Child's Doctor:
Call your doctor immediately if your infant has trouble breathing or if she seems to have trouble swallowing and is drooling abnormally. Also call your doctor if your infant does not seem to be feeding well, cries weakly, has trouble holding her head up, or has stopped sucking normally.

Although it may be just a minor constipation problem, you may want to check with your doctor if your infant has not had a bowel movement in 3 days.

Professional Treatment:
Doctors make the diagnosis of infant botulism by checking the infant's stool for Clostridium bacteria or Clostridium botulinum toxin. A child with infant botulism is treated in a hospital, usually in an intensive care unit.

Poisonous fish downs family

Source of Article: http://www.sunstar.com.ph

SEVEN members of the family in Barangay Calmay, Dagupan City were hospitalized after eating a certain kind of fish. The victims were Gregorio Narnola, his wife Lolita, two children, his brother-in-law Lito Garcia, wife Regina, and son Jeremy. Calmay Barangay Chairwoman Evangelita dela Cruz said the victims were brought to the Cuison Family Clinic Tuesday evening after they felt nauseous. Garcia and Lolita reportedly ate much of the fish and were still in serious condition at the hospital as of Wednesday afternoon. The other victims have already been discharged after they were declared by the attending physician out of danger.It was learned that the family got the fish from their "skylab", a fish-catching structure in the city river. Dela Cruz said since the "bocnoy", which the fish is called, was only few, they decided not to sell it and instead had it for breakfast. But after having breakfast, the family started feeling weak. They also felt nauseous.Dr. Fausto Cuison, owner of the clinic where the victims were brought for treatment, confirmed that they were victims of food poisoning. He opined however that the victims could have been poisoned by red tide toxins. Cuison, a former city councilor, cited the need to have a sample of the fish for examination at the Bureau of Fishery and Aquatic Resources (Bfar) to determine what caused the fish poisonous. The barangay chairwoman, a fish dealer herself, said the "bocnoy" has similar feature as the "bonor", except it is white in color with one big black spot and has big stomach. Both fishes are as big as a finger. Residents of Calmay, a coastal barangay, expressed surprise why the Narnola and Garcia family were poisoned when they usually eat "bocnoy". Dela Cruz called on her constituents to refrain from eating "bocnoy" until the Bfar and Department of Health (DOH) issued a bulletin declaring that the fish is safe to eat. (FPM)

Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF)
European Commission
Week 05 available in pdf format at http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/food/rapidalert/reports/week05-2005_en.pdf

Food Safety and Quality Update - No.25
January 2005
Please click here for download: ftp://ftp.fao.org/es/esn/fsq_update/25.pdf
Welcome to the twenty- fifth edition of the Food Safety and Quality Update.
We appreciate all the feedback and support that we have received over the past year and welcome any new feedback on this issue and throughout 2005 as well. We look forward to working with all of you in the new year.
In This Issue
Information Now Available On-Line
- Call for data- Part II for JECFA 65
- Chemical and Technical Assessments (CTA)- JECFA 61 and 63
- Update of JECFA 60 monographs
Upcoming Events
- Food Business Forum¡¯s International Food Safety Conference
- Codex Executive Committee
- Sub-regional workshop on improving the quality and safety of fresh fruits and vegetables
- FAO/WHO Regional Conference on Food Safety for the Near East
- Other upcoming Codex meetings
- New FAO JECFA Secretary
- Michigan State University food safety course
- FAO Senior Officer position open
- Newsletter archive available

FSIS offers guidelines for reporting animal diseases
by Anna Blessing on 2/1/05 for Meatingplace.com

The Food Safety and Inspection Service has made instructions for reporting suspected animals with diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy and avian influenza available to public health veterinarians.FSIS Directive 6000.1 directs veterinarians inspecting these animals to contact the district office with the type of disease suspected, name and contact information for the animal's producer and a clinical history of the animal.
To view the complete directive, click here: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Regulations_&_Policies/6000_Series-Slaughter_Inspection/index.asp

A bug's life: aging and death in E. coli
Source of Article: http://www.eurekalert.org/
Caption for image: What is true for E. coli is true for the elephant.?Quote by Jacques Monod. This false color image shows a growing microcolony of E. coli, where the cells are colored by age (in numbers of divisions). The oldest cells are red, and the youngest blue. Photograph by Eric Stewart and Stefanie Timmermann, Inserm U571, Facult?de M?ecine Necker Enfants-Malades, Paris, France.

Click here for a high resolution photograph: http://www.eurekalert.org/images/release_graphics/plos01250502.jpg
Can organisms such as bacteria age? The assumption has been that cells that divide symmetrically do not age and are functionally immortal. In a study published in the premier open-access journal PLoS Biology Eric Stewart and colleagues have now overturned this idea by analyzing repeated cycles of reproduction in Escherichia coli, a bacteria that reproduces without a juvenile phase and with an apparently symmetric division - revealing that these bacteria, like other organisms, have not escaped mortality.

E. coli reproduces by dividing in the middle. Each resultant cell inherits an old end or pole and a new pole, which contain slightly different components, so although they look the same, they are physiologically asymmetrical. At the next division, one cell inherits the old pole again (plus a brand new pole), while the other cell inherits a not-quite-so-old pole and a new pole. Thus, Stewart and co-workers reasoned, an age in divisions can be assigned to each pole and hence to each cell. The researchers used automated time-lapse microscopy to follow all the cell divisions in 94 colonies, each grown from a single fluorescently labeled E. coli cell. In all, the researchers built up a lineage for 35,049 cells in terms of which pole--old or new--each cell had inherited at each division during its history. They found that the cells inheriting old poles had a reduced growth rate, decreased rate of offspring formation, and increased risk of dying compared with the cells inheriting new poles. Thus, the "old pole" cell is effectively an aging parent repeatedly producing rejuvenated offspring.

Stewart and his colleagues conclude that no life strategy is immune to the effects of aging and suggest that this may be because immortality is too costly or is mechanistically impossible. This may be bad news for people who had hoped that advances in science might eventually lead to human immortality. Nevertheless, E. coli should now provide an excellent genetic platform for the study of the fundamental mechanisms of cellular aging and so could provide information that might ameliorate some of the unpleasantness of the human aging process.

Citation: Stewart E, Madden R, Paul G, Taddei F (2005) Aging and death in an organism that reproduces by morphologically symmetric division. PLoS Biol 3 (2): e45.

Eric Stewart
INSERM U571 G??ique Mol?ulaire Evolutive et M?icale
156 Rue de Vaugirard
Paris, France 75015
+33-(0)-1-40-61-53-22 (fax)


Food safety in numbers
Restaurant patrons check ratings before eating out

By Sheryl Marsh
DAILY Staff Writer

Source of Article: http://www.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/news/050201/ratings.shtml

Before Jim and Robbie Wigginton think about sitting at a table in a restaurant to order a meal, they check the writing on the wall. A framed certificate that has a big number on it and is prominently displayed on the wall of a restaurant tells a lot about its cleanliness. "Jim and I walk in and look at the rating, and if it's below 90 we turn around and walk out," said Robbie Wigginton of Decatur.

Although Morgan County Health Department has fewer inspectors and more restaurants than it had in the past, an official said people can feel safe about eating out. Three inspectors perform multiple duties dealing with environmental issues, but officials said they manage to stay on top of inspecting more than 300 licensed food facilities every 120 days. "Every inspection is unannounced," said Public Health Environmentalist Michael Cassidy. "We start outside and move to the kitchen. We check for a number of things, including all the equipment, food temperatures, service display and storage."They also check employee hygiene and storage of chemicals and cleaners to make sure the items are properly stored away from food, Cassidy said. An inspection has two parts. One side of the inspection form relates to food and equipment, including appliances. The other side deals with issues like sewage disposal, plumbing, hand-washing facilities in
restrooms, garbage disposal, and insect and rodent control. Also, they check the construction of buildings to make sure floors, walls and ceilings are in good shape.

Locked out
Cassidy doesn't get a warm welcome on every visit.
"I was actually locked out of one place," he said. "They saw me coming and I guess they had some stuff in the kitchen they needed to clean up, so they locked me out. I left and got my supervisor to go back with me and inspect it. We talked with them about it, and they weren't happy with their new score."

Environmentalists rate restaurants on a 100-point system.
"Anything below 60 is immediate closure, and anything under 85 makes a restaurant subject to inspection every 30 days until the rating increases," Cassidy explained.

Scores are important to people like the Wiggintons who frequently dine out.
"You can tell much about a restaurant when you walk in and see the appearance," said Deborah Adams of Hartselle. "Scores are usually visible and I look at them. Usually, we have our favorite places, so we're pretty much aware of the cleanliness."

Carol Long of Harvest said she and her family look at ratings first.
"I check the rating, and usually if it's under 85 we'll leave and go somewhere else," Long said. "The rating is important to us because of food safety, especially when you have children."

How they score
Ratings for restaurants in Decatur and the county normally range from 86 to 99. Most facilities score 90 and above, and there are rare occasions when a few score in the 70s, according to documents from the health department. Records show that most restaurants score in the middle to high 90s. School lunchrooms throughout the county usually have high ratings of 98 and 99.

THE DAILY publishes a list of ratings every Wednesday.
Cassidy said he and other environmentalists perform inspections every day.

Strive for cleanliness
Deborah Veres, a manager at Princeton's in Decatur, said the restaurant wants a good score, but cleanliness comes naturally to her. "I try and look at it like I would my own kitchen," she said. "I'm not going to serve anything to someone that I wouldn't want, and I try to keep the place like I would my own kitchen, which is the first place I clean. "Of course we want good scores; that's a given. Sometimes there are variables like a floor tile that knock off points that has nothing to do with cleanliness or safety of food."

Princeton's current score is 90.
Inspectors cut
Each inspection lasts about an hour.
Cassidy said years ago, inspections occurred every 90 days before the environmentalists dwindled from 10 to three.
"I would like to see it go back to 90 days," Cassidy said. "With everything else going on, it's hard to get into restaurants before 120 days." Decatur had an influx of chain restaurants in the 1990s, increasing the workload for inspectors, but Cassidy said environmentalists still manage to perform inspections every 120 days. In addition to inspecting eating places, duties for environmentalists include checking septic tanks, hotels, motels, swimming pools and tattoo parlors. They also deal with rabies enforcement, the West Nile Virus and solid waste, Cassidy said.

The health department has records of 607 food permits, and 319 are for places that serve food to the public, according to Chandra Cochran, an environmentalist.

The others include a camp, day-care food services, food processing, hotels and motels, jails and prison food service, limited food establishments, limited retail, mobile food service, nutrition centers, retail food stores and public school lunchrooms.

Despite low ratings that restaurants get sometimes, Cassidy said, people can feel good about eating out.

"If we didn't feel they were safe," he said, "they wouldn't be in business."

Blanket testing for BSE isn't necessary
January 31, 2005
Winnipeg Free Press
Peter Schroedter writes that calls for the federal government to test every beef animal destined for the human food chain are based on the false assumption that Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) poses a human health risk greater than other food-borne diseases.
Schroedter says that the argument for blanket testing comes from cattle producers who are desperate to export beef at any cost.
The assumption is that consumer confidence has been shaken to the point where only testing can restore confidence. But what is the real health risk BSE poses for beef consumers?
The British cow herd in the mid-1970s was roughly four million head, providing beef for more than 55 million Brits. In 1984, when the first case of BSE was diagnosed in the U.K., the British soon started removing infected animals, eliminating cattle over 30 months of age from the food chain and removing high-risk material from carcasses at slaughter. But by then the BSE cows had been out of the barn and in the kitchen for more than a decade.
By the time the British took action, billions of roasts and burgers had been consumed annually by more than 55 million Brits over more than a decade.
Once the tentative link between BSE and a new form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease was made in 1993, people began to suspect the worst. As late as 1996 Dr. Stephen Dealler was quoted by CNN saying that there could be a "calamity" in which the worst case scenario would see millions of people dying from CJDv. Then he added "or there may be very few".
To date the total fatalities from CJDv since the UK CJD Surveillance Unit began keeping records in 1990 is 148. Five patients are still living with CJDv for a total of 153 cases. This in a beef-eating population numbering almost 60 million now, who ate beef from a highly contaminated BSE herd for more than 20 years before the testing and preventive measures were taken. Even with a protracted incubation period lasting 20 years, BSE beef has not turned into the "calamity" that worried Dr. Dealler and others.
So far Canada has had four BSE cases out of the 5.5 million cattle that make up Canada's cow herd and to date no known cases of CJDv has originated in Canada. The U.K. has so far had 185,000 cows test positive to BSE with 34,000 BSE positive cases in a single year when the disease hit its peak.
Schroedter says that as tragic as each CJDv fatality is, preventive measures must be in line with the fact-based health threats. The plain fact is, the human health risk is minute when compared to other food-borne diseases.
While BSE is getting all the media attention with a 20-year fatality count of 153 CJDv cases in the U.K. other food-borne diseases annually result far more deaths annually. Proven disease risks such as E-coli 0157:H7, Salmonella and other food- borne pathogens regularly make their way through the food-processing system and infect consumers with life-threatening diseases.
According to the June 1997 California Poultry Letter, some 660 Americans die each year from food-borne pathogens. Considering that Canada's food inspection system is comparable to the U.S. system our statistics at one-tenth the scale will have 66 death annually from food-borne diseases. Consumers have the right to demand safe food and in the case of BSE and CJDv the best preventive measures are already in place. The removal of high-risk material, eliminating downer cows from the system are the best precautionary measures that can be implemented.
If beef consumption rates are an indicator, consumer confidence in Canada's beef supply is stronger than ever. Consumers are eating more beef after BSE was discovered in Canada than before.
If every beef animal slaughtered in Canada has to be tested, then test it for diseases that pose the greatest human health risk rather than testing for BSE which will amount to little more than an empty public relations gesture instead of a real health risk management tool.

Biosensors can help stem spread of infectious diseases after disasters

January 31, 2005
University of South Florida
Biosensors developed at the University of South Florida lab of Luis Garcia-Rubio, a chemical engineer at the university¡¯s College of Marine Science, can detect infectious diseases in blood and bodily fluids as well as identify pathogenic microorganisms in contaminated water. The new sensors could be our most effective future frontline defense against diseases emerging after disasters such as the recent tsunami, as well as help reduce the every day, annual rates of illness and deaths caused by contaminated water and unsanitary conditions world-wide.
¡°In the wake of the recent tsunami, it was anticipated that infectious diseases could increase dramatically in affected areas,¡± Garcia-Rubio said. ¡°Public health officials rightfully fear thousands more will die from infectious water-borne and water related diseases after the tsunami. When people are forced to live in crowded refugee camps, they are more easily exposed to infectious diseases that spread quickly due to a lack of clean drinking water and unsanitary conditions.¡±
The CMS research group, comprised of engineers, physicists microbiologists and chemists, is now testing portable, miniaturized biosensors that can - in real-time and continuously - monitor for a number of infectious diseases using as little as a single drop of blood. The sensors then wirelessly teleport data to a remote location for analysis..
¡°By optically identifying how an organism absorbs and scatters light, our new, minimally invasive technology identifies the light wave spectrum in a sample collected on-site,¡± explained Garcia-Rubio. ¡°Because each organism absorbs and scatters light differently, we can analyze the light wave spectrum and scatter pattern and identify an organism in the sample by comparing those patterns with known, cataloged samples.¡±
Up to now, said Garcia-Rubio, without expensive processes and highly trained personnel, there have been no portable instruments capable of detecting and classifying either microorganisms or cells in real time.
After patenting their technology, the research group has moved into field experiments with confidence that in the near future their advancement will be available to help public health officials rapidly detect not only infectious diseases, commonplace after natural disasters like the recent tsunami, but also waterborne pathogens that can occur in the drinking water of developed countries, including the United States.
According to Debra Huffman, a collaborator of Garcia-Rubio¡¯s lab, the new biosensors can detect malarial parasites, the dengue virus that causes dengue fever, e. coli, salmonella, shigalla and listeria as well as causes of bacterial dysentery, such as cryptosporidium (protozoan parasites). The sensors can also identify bacillus antrhacis, anthrax that can be weaponized by terrorists.
¡°Development and implementation of portable cost effective technologies for the early and rapid diagnosis of pathogenic microorganisms and infectious diseases is the best way to stem the spread of disease following an environmental disaster,¡± said Garcia-Rubio. ¡°However, the new technology can also help prevent the yearly illnesses and deaths resulting from contaminated water supplies both globally and here in the U.S.¡±
It doesn¡¯t take a tsunami to cause widespread illnesses resulting from contact with contaminated water.
¡°The World Health Organization reported in 2002 that there are nearly two million deaths annually related to unsafe water and poor sanitation and hygiene,¡± pointed out Huffman. ¡°The majority of those deaths are among children under five years of age.¡±
According to Huffman, diarrhoeal diseases account for one-third of illnesses globally and are the sixth leading cause of deaths world-wide.
¡°Natural disasters notwithstanding, one sixth of the world¡¯s population lacks good access to safe water,¡± she said.
The new biosensors can help reduce those rates.

26th Session of the Codex Committee on Methods of Analysis and Sampling

Public Meeting to Address Codex Meeting on Fish and Fishery Products

Those nasty noroviruses, including Norwalk, may be getting nastier
January 28, 2005
Globe and Mail
Page A13
Helen Branswell, Canadian Press
In a matter of a few years, the term Norwalk virus has, according to this sory, become part of the public lexicon, grounding planes and closing daycares, spreading misery in long-term-care facilities and schools.
Infectious-disease experts were cited as saying they think outbreaks are more common and there's something changing in the behaviour of the nasty noroviruses.
Dr. Paul Sockett of the Public Health Agency of Canada, was quoted as saying, "We certainly believe that what we've seen over the last five years is an increase in the activity of this virus. And this is early stages yet but we have some evidence which suggests that we may have a slightly more virulent strain that's been circulating in the past couple of years."
Dr. Sockett, who works in the agency's centre for infectious-disease prevention and control, acknowledges the increase may be partly attributable to the fact that public-health officials are paying more attention to noroviruses.
But he believes the increase in cases reported to laboratories across the country can't be explained away by more vigilant reporting -- there were 300 to 400 reports a year in 2003 and 2004, up from a mere 14 in 1998.
Infectious-disease specialist Dr. Michael Gardam, director of infection prevention and control at Toronto's University Hospital Network, was quoted as saying, "If you think about what's happened to the cruise industry -- that didn't happen 10 years ago. That really is something that seems to be fairly new. There's no doubt Norwalk seems to be a bigger player than it was six years ago."
Dr. Gardam and others acknowledge the sense of increased activity could be, at least in part, due to greater attention being paid to noroviruses because of the havoc they wreak in hospital settings and because it is now easier to study the viruses.
Until recently, there was little incentive for doctors or hospitals to send stool samples for testing for norovirus. They could diagnose from clinical symptoms and knew that while the disease was miserable, it was rarely life-threatening.
And there was little point to sending samples to the lab; the virus can't be grown in culture, so there was no way to produce a viral isolate to study.
With the development of polymerase chain-reaction testing, laboratories can now amplify pieces of the virus and produce a genetic fingerprint that can be compared to the fingerprint of other noroviruses.
Dr. Allison McGeer, head of infection control at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, was quoted as saying, "The argument for not studying them is people don't die from them very often . . . but from an institutional-disruption point of view, they're expensive as all get out. And I think that means we've got to sit down and figure out what we're doing with them."
The Public Health Agency is trying to do just that. Last week it convened a meeting of provincial and territorial public-health officials to try to get a handle on the problem.
Dr. Sockett was further quoted as saying, "Certainly one of the things we would like to do is to sort of collect the different strains and catalogue them and see where they're appearing in the country to see if there's any connect between them and what types of evolution in those strains are taking place."
The story notes that the laboratories of the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control have been doing that type of tracking for the past four years, producing Canada's first database of about 350 viral fingerprints dating back to 1994 from frozen stool samples.
Dr. Judy Isaac-Renton, director of laboratory services, was cited as saying they've seen a dominant strain, the seventh strain they typed in 2002 dubbed 007, adding, "We always have a picture of James Bond on it because it has the licence to ill.