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

3/28
2005
ISSUE:158

Sponsors



















Sponsorship Q/A

 

Online-Slides
Cleaning and Sanitation of Processing Equipment

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

Shiga Toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), O157 and Non-O157
source from wisc.edu

Powerful Search Engine
Pubmed

Journal of Food Protection
March. Issue

JOB Openings
Job Openings

Internet Journal of Food Safety
New Article
Vol 6. 1-4.
A Preliminary Study of Kashar Cheese and Its Organoleptic Qualities Matured in Bee Wax

Vol 5. 24-34.
Effect of Coating and Wrapping materials on the shelf life of apple (Malus domestica cv.Borkh)

Vol 5. 21-23.
Prevalence of bacteria in the muscle of shrimp in processing plant

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

Food Processors who need specific tranings

Many food processors need
supplemental food safety training.
Also, there are many food safety
educators. FoodHACCP is trying to
facilitate networking between these
two groups.
View the info.

USDA/FDA Current News
Click here

 

A nationwide outbreak of Salmonella Bovismorbificans PT24, Germany, December 2004-March 2005
March 24, 2005
Eurosurveillance Weekly Volume 10, Issue 12
Andreas Gilsdorf1 (gilsdorfa@rki.de), Andreas Jansen1, Katharina Alpers1, Helga Dieckmann2, Ulrich van Treeck3, Anja M.Hauri4, Gerhard Fell5, Martina Littmann6, Peter Rautenberg7, Rita Prager8, Wolfgang Rabsch8, Peter Roggentin5, Andreas Schroeter9, Angelika Miko9, Edda Bartelt10, Juliane Braunig10, Andrea Ammon1
http://www.eurosurveillance.org
1Robert Koch-Institut, Department for Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Berlin, Germany
2Regional Health Authority, Niedersachsen, Hannover, Germany
3Institute of Public Health, Munster, Nordrhein-Westfalen , Germany
4Regional Health Authority, Hessen, Dillenburg, Germany
5Institute for Hygiene and Environment, Hamburg, Germany
6Regional Health Authority, Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany
7Institute for Medical Microbiology and Virology, Universitat Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
8National Reference Centre for Salmonella and other Enterics, Robert Koch-Institut, Wernigerode Branch, Germany
9National Veterinary Reference Laboratory for Salmonella, Bundesamt fur Risikobewertung (Federal Institute for Risk Assessment), Berlin, Germany
10Bundesamt fur Risikobewertung, Berlin, Germany
Since late 2004, there has been an increase in notifications of Salmonella enterica serovar Bovismorbificans infections in northwest Germany. Over the 13 weeks between 29 November 2004 and 17 March 2005, 525 cases of laboratory confirmed S. Bovismorbificans were reported to the Robert Koch-Institut (RKI) with a peak of onset of symptoms in the third week of 2005 (Figure). A 62 year old woman has died of the infection.
An inquiry through Enter-net in January 2005 did not show any increase of Salmonella Bovismorbificans in other European countries [1]. This serovar was one of the ten most frequently notified salmonella serovars detected in humans between 2001 and 2003 in Germany: 152 cases of S. Bovismorbisficans were notified in 2003 (0.3% of all notified salmonella cases with serovar information), 186 cases in 2002 (0.3%), and 388 cases in 2001 (0.5%).
We report the preliminary results of a case-control study conducted by the RKI in cooperation with the federal states involved.
Figure. S. Bovismorbificans outbreak 2004/2005, Germany: Number of cases with the week of reported symptom onset. Weeks 48/2004 to 07/2005 (n=402)
On the basis of initial laboratory results and exploratory interviews with patients by the responsible local health authorities, the hypothesis evolved that raw pork products were the likely vehicle of transmission. Raw meat products are consumed frequently in various regions of Germany.
In cooperation with the federal states with the highest number of cases (Nordrhein-Westfalen, Hessen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg and Niedersachsen) a case-control study was conducted to validate this hypothesis.
Cases were defined as people living in one of the federal states listed above with onset of gastroenteritis between 1 December 2004 and 10 February 2005 and stool cultures positive for S. Bovismorbificans. For every case, one control was chosen at random by sequential sequence telephone dialling.
Altogether, 141 cases and 135 controls were included in the study. Among the queried food items, raw minced pork was clearly associated with illness (Odds Ratio= 11.0; 95% Confidence Interval: 4.2-28.9). Additionally, one particular fermented raw pork sausage was associated with infection (Zwiebelmettwurst). The consumption of all other food items was similar between cases and controls.
Comparative subtyping of the S. Bovismorbificans isolates by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and phage typing found that case isolates and isolates from some pork products were indistinguishable (phage type 24). On the basis of these findings, intensive efforts are being made to trace the possible food source of this outbreak at the level of meat suppliers.
Since one of the implicated meat suppliers exports products to other European and non-European countries, associated cases may have appeared in other countries. If the occurrence of S. Bovismorbificans PT 24 is observed in other countries in humans or food samples, the following authors would like to be informed:
Andreas Jansen (jansena@rki.de), Andreas Gilsdorf (gilsdorfa@rki.de), Juliane Braunig (j.braeunig@bfr.bund.de)
References:
1. Enter-net website. http://www.hpa.org.uk/
2. Robert Koch-Institut. Zu einem uberregionalen Ausbruch von Salmonella Bovismorbificans:
Erste Ergebnisse einer Fall-Kontroll-Studie. Epidemiologisches Bulletin 2005; 07: 54-55

Challenging common food safety misconceptions
Food-borne illnesses mostly preventable scientist tells audience
Tim Whitnell
Mar 27, 2005
Source of Article: http://www.haltonsearch.com/
From E. coli to mad cow to salmonella, there are a host of dangerous food-borne bacteria and illnesses that are out there but are, for the most part, preventable, says a Canadian food health expert.
Douglas Powell of the Food Safety Network talked about basic hygiene and good and bad practices in the food production/preparation and fast food service industries, when he addressed a crowd of about 50 people at a recent Canadian Federation of University Women-sponsored meeting.
Powell is an associate professor in the Department of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph and director of the Food Safety Network, where he leads a research team that integrates scientific knowledge with public perceptions. The Food Safety Network at the U. of Guelph provides research, commentary, policy evaluation and public information on food safety issues "from farm to fork". The Food Safety Network works closely with the Canadian Research Institute for Food Safety. Powell led the development and implementation of an on-farm food safety program for the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetables Growers Association. The safe food advocate asked his audience at the Burlington Seniors Centre if they knew which foods in their fridge are the safest and which the most prone to carrying or being cross-contaminated by bacteria or viruses. He found that many people had misconceptions about the safety of what they eat and how to properly prepare it.

NEW Section in FoodHACCP.com

JIFSAN OFFERS FOOD SAFETY RISK ANALYSIS COURSE

Northwest Food Processors Association Food Safety News
March 28, 2005
The Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN) is offering on-line distance learning short courses in Food Safety Risk Analysis. JIFSAN is a partnership between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the University of Maryland. Registration is now open for two courses: Overview of Risk Analysis (begins March 28)
Introduction to Food Safety Risk Assessment (begins April 21)
Details are posted at http://www.jifsan.umd.edu/pd2005.
Source: JIFSAN 3/05

PROTECTION OF U.S. AG FROM TERRORIST ATTACK

Northwest Food Processors Association Food Safety News
March 28, 2005

The U.S. Government Accountability Offi ce released a March 8 report to Congressional Requestors entitled
¡°Homeland Security: Much Is Being Done to Protect Agriculture from a Terrorist Attack, but Important
Challenges Remain.¡± The ¡®Results in Brief¡¯ section of the report states in part that:
? DHS created a Food and Agriculture Sector Coordinating Council to help the federal government and
industry share ideas about how to mitigate the risk of an attack on agriculture.
? USDA has established a steering committee to guide efforts to develop a National Veterinary Stockpile
that, among other things, is intended to address what vaccines are needed to respond to animal diseases
most damaging to human health and the economy.
? DHS, USDA, and HHS have funded research to address a range of issues related to agroterrorism.
? USDA created 16 Area and Regional Emergency Coordinator positions to help states develop individual
emergency response plans and to serve as a technical resource for states, industry, and other stakeholders.
? While these actions are important and necessary steps, the United States still faces several complex
challenges that limit the nation¡¯s ability to quickly and effectively respond to a widespread attack on
livestock and poultry.
? Many United States¡¯ veterinarians lack training needed to recognize the signs of foreign animal diseases.
? USDA does not use rapid diagnostic tools to test animals at the site of an outbreak.
? Vaccines cannot be deployed within 24 hours of an outbreak.
? Current USDA policy requires a complex process for deciding if and when to use vaccinesa process that
could be too lengthy during an attack.
? Agricultural inspections at ports of entry, the fi rst line of defense against the entry of foreign animal and
plant diseases, have declined.
? There are weaknesses regarding the fl ow of critical information among key stakeholders.
? States are not receiving suffi cient technical federal assistance in developing emergency response plans and
other activities to effectively prepare them to deal with agroterrorism.
? Shortcomings exist in DHS¡¯ coordination of federal working groups and research efforts.
? USDA has not yet integrated the databases of the member laboratories within its own networks, nor have
they integrated with HHS laboratories for diseases of common concern.
? We are making several recommendations aimed at improving agencies¡¯ efforts to mitigate and quickly
and effectively respond to a widespread attack on animal agriculture and to address routine management
problems that impair the agencies¡¯ ability to protect against agroterrorism in general.
The complete text of the report is posted at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05214.pdf.
Source: US GAO 3/9

Newly Formed ARS Laboratory Will Focus on Egg Safety and Quality
By Sharon Durham
March 22, 2005
Egg safety, quality and marketability are the focus of a new Agricultural Research Service (ARS) laboratory established this year in Athens, Ga.

The new Egg Safety and Quality Research Unit, based at the Richard B. Russell Research Center, will conduct research to protect both the health of consumers and the marketability of eggs. Scientists will develop improved technologies for egg production and processing that will reduce or eliminate microorganisms that can transmit disease to humans or cause spoilage.

One of the unit's key research goals is to determine how microbial pathogens infect poultry and cause egg contamination, according to ARS microbiologist Richard Gast, the unit's research leader. Additionally, scientists will investigate how poultry production practices can influence such infections.

Researchers will develop methods to prevent pathogens from infecting egg-laying poultry, and tests to detect infected flocks and contaminated eggs. Ultimately, the research may also help improve egg processing practices, which could reduce microbial contamination while enhancing egg quality.

Researchers in the unit include Gast, veterinary medical officer Jean Guard Bouldin, microbiologist Peter Holt, physiologist Randy Moore, and food technologists Deana Jones and Mike Musgrove.

In 2003, an estimated 87.2 billion eggs were produced in the United States, with about 85 percent of them destined for human consumption, according to figures from USDA's Economic Research Service. Per capita consumption of eggs and egg products in 2003 was the equivalent of 254 eggs, an increase of 19 eggs per person from 1990, ERS estimated.

AFNOR Approval RAPID'Staph: 24 hr Enumeration of Coagulase-Positive Staphylococci and S. aureus
Bio-Rad has extended its range of products for the isolation, enumeration and identification of staphylococci to include RAPID¢¥Staph. This selective agar medium has recently been approved by AFNOR, according to ISO 16140 protocol, for the 24 hr enumeration of coagulase-positive staphylococci at 37 ¡ÆC, including Staphylococcus aureus, in food and environmental samples.
Characteristic growth of coagulase-positive staphylococci on RAPID¢¥Staph is shown as grey-black colonies surrounded with a clear halo. Sulphamethazine prevents high levels of Proteus contamination; lithium chloride and potassium telllurite inhibit growth of other bacteria. The optimized peptone formula improves growth and suits nutritional demands of Staphylococcus.
Characteristic colonies of on RAPID¢¥Staph are confirmed by using a validated procedure using Bio-Rad¢¥s PASTOREX¢â Staph-Plus latex agglutination test for detection of Staphylococcus aureus, or by spot on Baird Parker R.P.F. agar plates, or by means of a rabbit plasma coagulase test.
KEY BENEFITS:
- easy reading and enumeration of colonies
- a much lower cost, compared with Baird Parker R.P.F. agar
- easy confirmation, saving time and money, compared with ISO 888-1
- more selective than Baird Parker Egg Yolk Agar
- shorter time to result (24 hr) and rapid confirmation, when compared with Baird Parker Egg Yolk Agar (48-72 hr)

Ensuring Salmonella-Free Products With the BAX System

Recent product recalls due to contamination with Salmonella have highlighted the damage and disruption that this food borne pathogen can cause and the need for food manufacturers and processors to ensure that their products are completely free from such organisms before they leave the production site.

The DuPont Qualicon BAX¢ç system (available from Oxoid Limited) is a rapid, simple and reliable, genetics-based method that has received worldwide approval for the detection of Salmonella and other food borne pathogens.

In the last year, product recalls due to Salmonella have been required for a wide range of food types, including white peppercorns in Australia (ref1), pork rinds (ref2) and chicken products (ref3) in the United States, and an international recall of raw almonds (ref4). In the UK recent product recalls for Salmonella contamination include deli-cooked lamb sold from in-store delicatessen counters in November 2004 (ref5), Dry Cured York Ham (ref5), and in January 2005 camembert cheese was recalled by a leading supermarket chain (ref6).

Although product recalls like these are rare and well managed, the incident concerning raw almonds demonstrated the devastating and far-reaching consequences of Salmonella contamination. Resulting in an outbreak of salmonellosis infection, which affected at least 25 people in the United States, the recall from the original supplier led to a further 40 company recalls and, due to the large-scale export of the product, the posting of international alerts.

By providing timely and reliable identification of Salmonella, the BAX¢ç system allows food manufacturers and processors to minimise such occurrences. The system has been adopted by many countries as the method of choice for Salmonella detection. For example, the BAX¢ç system has been named as an AOAC International Official Method for the detection of Salmonella (2003.09). It has also been adopted by the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) for the detection of Salmonella in ready-to-eat foods, raw meat and poultry (MLG 4C,00) and it has been approved by Health Canada Certification (MFLP-29), AFNOR (QUA 18/3-11/02), NordVal (NV-doc.1-2004-01-01) and the Ministry of Agriculture in Brazil.

The BAX¢ç system detects target bacteria in raw ingredients, finished food products and environmental samples. In addition to Salmonella, assays are also available for the detection of E. coli O157:H7, Enterobacter sakazakii, Listeria and L. monocytogenes. The automated system is user-friendly and fits easily onto a laboratory bench top.

References:
1. Food Standards Australia New Zealand, 17 November 2004
2. USDA FSIS, 3 May 2004
3. USDA FSIS, 27 July 2004
4. FDA, 18 May 2004
5. Food Standards Agency, 5 November 2004
6. Food Standards Agency, 18 January 2005



Announcement 2005 (01): WHO/Europe Food Safety Program - March 2005
March 23, 2005
A ProMED-mail post
http: //www.promedmail.org
ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases
http: //www.isid.org
From: Daniela Giannuzzo DGI@ecr.euro.who.int
Please find below the latest information about food safety in the WHO European Region.
NEWS
Selected Codex texts on public health-related issues now available in Russian.
As a response to increasing requests from Member States, the food safety program at WHO/Europe has translated into Russian a number of key Codex Alimentarius texts on public health-related issues. We acknowledge the Ministry of Health of Kazakhstan for supporting this initiative.

JECFA calls for reduction of acrylamide levels in food. The last Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) meeting on the health risks of acrylamide concluded that, at current levels of intake, acrylamide in food may be a health concern. WHO notes for the media and the JECFA report may be found at here
The INFOSAN note (available in English, French and Spanish) may be found at

Newsletter of the WHO Surveillance Programme for Europe. The last issue is available online
Workshop for the development of a national food safety strategy for Georgia and a seminar to introduce the work of Codex Alimentarius. Tbilisi, Georgia, 21-24 Mar 2005. An initiative is planned for food safety policy makers from all Ministries and institutions involved in food safety issues at the national level. National authorities are requested to prepare a country profile illustrating the current food safety situation, pointing out areas that need special attention, to serve as a basis for the development of a national food safety strategy for the country. http://www.euro.who.int/For information and updates on food safety in Europe, visit http://www.euro.who.int/foodsafety.

Contact us at foodsafety@ecr.euro.who.int for more information.
Cristina Tirado (WHO/Europe, Food safety Regional Adviser)
Daniela Giannuzzo (WHO/Europe, Food safety Programme Assistant)
Nicoletta Di Tanno (WHO/Europe, Information and outreach/Web)

Genetically Modified Foods Eaten Regularly

Fri Mar 25, 9:48 AM ET Health - AP
Source of Article: http://news.yahoo.com/
By LINDA A. JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer
TRENTON, N.J. - Can animal genes be jammed into plants? Would tomatoes with catfish genes taste fishy? Have you ever eaten a genetically modified food? The answers are: yes, no and almost definitely. But according to a survey, most Americans couldn't answer correctly even though they've been eating genetically modified foods ? unlabeled ? for nearly a decade.
"It's just not on the radar screen," said William Hallman, associate director of the Food Biotechnology Program at the Rutgers Food Policy Institute, which conducted the survey. Today, roughly 75 percent of U.S. processed foods ? boxed cereals, other grain products, frozen dinners, cooking oils and more ? contain some genetically modified, or GM, ingredients, said Stephanie Childs of the Grocery Manufacturers of America. Despite dire warnings about "Frankenfoods," there have been no reports of illness from these products of biotechnology. Critics note there's no system for reporting allergies or other reactions to GM foods. Nearly every product with a corn or soy ingredient, and some containing canola or cottonseed oil, has a GM element, according to the grocery manufacturers group. In the Rutgers survey, less than half the people interviewed were aware GM foods are sold in supermarkets. At the same time, more than half wrongly believed supermarket chicken has been genetically modified. So far, non-processed meat, poultry, fish and dairy products, and fruits and vegetables (both fresh and frozen) are not genetically modified. GM food first hit supermarkets in 1994, with the highly touted Flavr Savr tomato, altered to give it a longer shelf life and better flavor. It flopped, in part due to disappointing taste, and disappeared in 1997, said Childs. By 1995, farmers in several countries had planted millions of acres of GM corn and soybeans, and processed products containing them were in grocery stores. Genetic modification of crops involves transferring genes from a plant or animal into a plant. Nearly all GM changes so far are to boost yields and deter insects and viruses, cutting the use of pesticides, thus making farming more productive and affordable ? a particular aid to developing nations. More than 80 percent of the soy and 40 percent of the corn raised in this country is a GM variety. Global plantings of biotech crops mostly corn and soybeans and much of it for animal feed grew to about 200 million acres last year, about two-thirds of it in the United States. The one billionth acre will be planted this spring, according to the Biotechnology Industry Organization. Experts say within several years there will be new GM foods with taste and nutrition improvements: cooking oils with less trans fat, tastier potatoes and peanuts that don't trigger allergies. At North Carolina State University, one of the biggest U.S. plant breeding programs, scientists are developing drought-tolerant wheat and are a couple years from field testing GM peanuts that have no life-threatening allergens, said Steven Leath, associate dean for health research. At Rutgers University's agricultural college, plant biology professor Nilgun Tumer and colleagues modified potatoes to better keep their flavor when processed as french fries and to limit browning when sliced, but she said farmers haven't adopted the new varieties. Now her team is trying to give tomatoes a gene to make a compound that helps prevent cancer and osteoporosis. Lisa Lorenzen, a liaison to the biotech industry at Iowa State University, said most Americans haven't worried about GM foods because they trust the regulatory system. She said many Europeans oppose GM foods because they don't trust governments that wrongly insisted for years that the beef supply, tainted by mad cow disease, was safe. Opponents say genetically modified foods could cause allergic or toxic reactions and harm the environment. Worries include the mixing of GM crops with regular ones either by handlers, or pollen already documented and GM foods being sold where they're not approved.
On Tuesday, a Swiss biotech company said it mistakenly sold U.S. farmers an experimental, unapproved GM corn seed, and tons of the resulting corn was sold between 2001 and 2004. U.S. government agencies say there was no health or environmental risk.
In 2000, recalls, lawsuits and public uproar followed disclosure that StarLink GM corn, approved only for animal use, had gotten into taco shells and chips.
University plant scientists, industry, the Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) and numerous European science agencies say GM foods are safe.
"Nobody's been able to prove that anyone's even gotten the sniffles from biotechnology," Childs said.
But Margaret Mellon of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said there's no system to track health problems caused by GM foods.
Her group, along with the Center for Science in the Public Interest, has long pushed for labeling ? only required when GM products have properties different from ordinary foods, such as a higher nutrient content. They contend consumers deserve a choice if they want to avoid GM foods and they also want government regulation.
Currently, companies developing GM foods voluntarily send their data to the FDA (news - web sites), but there's no official approval before products go on sale.
"It's left up to the good nature of Monsanto or DuPont or other companies to do the right thing," said Gregory Jaffe, director of the biotechnology project at CSPI.
___
On the Net:
Rutgers study: http://www.foodpolicyinstitute.org
Biotechnology Industry Association http://www.bio.org

Call for tender for scientific and technical assistance relating to collection, reporting, compilation and analyses of data on food-borne outbreaks
March 21, 2005
European Food Safety Authority
http://www.efsa.eu.int/opportunities
Published in the Official Journal of the European Communities, the call for tender n¡ÆEFSA 2005/S 55-052553 is open until 10 May 2005.
Text of the publication in the Official Journal of the European Communities is available at:
Invitation to tender is available at: Click here

Aflatoxins survey published
March 21, 2005
Food Standards Agency
http://www.food.gov.uk/
An Agency survey of spices has found that the majority of products tested had levels of aflatoxins and ochratoxin A below the legal limits.
A total of 61 samples of spices, including chilli powder and cayenne pepper, were collected from a wide cross-section of warehouses, packing establishments, supermarkets and smaller shops.
Survey of spices for aflatoxins and ochratoxin A
click here for the information

New Journal of Food Law and Policy
March 21, 2005
University of Arkansas School of Law
http://www.NationalAgLawCenter.org
The University of Arkansas School of Law is proud to announce the Journal of Food Law & Policy, the first student-edited law journal in the U.S. devoted exclusively to the study of food law and policy. The publication of this journal coincides with the increasing worldwide attention given to food and food systems. Scholarly contributions to the journal will address timely food law topics, including food regulation, food safety, biotechnology, obesity litigation, labeling, food and dietary supplements, food security and bioterrorism, and international food trade.
Special attention will be given to global food law developments, with each edition including an update on U.S. and European food law and eventually other world regional updates.
Several prestigious authors have already committed to contribute to the debut issue, including Peter Barton Hutt, co-author of Food and Drug Law:
Cases and Materials, former Chief Counsel for the Food and Drug Administration, and a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School. The second edition will include a description and analysis of the newly formed European Food Safety Authority and its relevance to U.S. food companies. The Journal is also pleased that the prominent Washington, D.C. law firm Arent Fox will sponsor an "Arent Fox/Dale Bumpers Excellence in Writing Award," which will be presented to the outstanding student paper published in the Journal each year. Former Senator Bumpers from Arkansas is of counsel to Arent Fox and was instrumental in the development of agricultural and food law interest at the University of Arkansas School of Law.
The journal will be published twice a year. Publication of the inaugural
issue is expected at the end of April 2005. The cost of a subscription
is $34. An order form, article submission form, and more information are
at the Journal's web site

Hemolytic uremic syndrome, petting zoo
- USA (Florida)(02)
March 25, 2005
A ProMED-mail post
http: //www.promedmail.org
ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases
http: //www.isid.org
[1]
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005
From: ProMED-mail Source: Kansas City Star/Orlando Sentinel [edited]
http: //www.kansascity.com/
More cases of mysterious kidney ailment reported
Doctors identified new victims of a potentially fatal kidney condition Thu, 24 Mar 2005 while health investigators focused on a strain of dangerous bacteria as the possible cause of their illnesses. 2 more people in Central Florida were diagnosed with the rare ailment called HUS, or hemolytic uremic syndrome, which attacks and shuts down the kidneys.
The Florida Department of Health also was investigating another case in Wisconsin involving a child who recently visited the Orlando area. The Wisconsin child brought the total number of confirmed illnesses to 9. In addition, 2 Central Florida patients were hospitalized with suspected cases. 8 of the 9 confirmed cases are in children. Health officials fanned out with a renewed sense of urgency, testing farm animals that might have spread the bacteria that often cause the kidney ailment. The animals were at 2 events from 3-13 Mar 2005: the Central Florida Fair in Orlando and the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City.
more information

Fla. officials report kidney failure in 7 children who visited petting zoos
March 24, 2005
CP Wire
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The Orlando Sentinel was cited as reporting in its Thursday editions that seven children have contracted a life-threatening kidney infection, hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, which health officials said may be the result of an infection picked up at petting zoos.
Dr. Mehul Dixit, who is treating some of the children at Florida Hospital Orlando, was cited as saying that five of the seven were hospitalized in critical condition, including one on dialysis, and another had been upgraded to stable condition. One child was treated at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children & Women and released several weeks ago.
The children all touched animals recently at area fairs, including the Central Florida Fair in Orlando and the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City. They might have been exposed to the bacteria through the animals' feces, officials said.
Health officials are also investigating whether they contracted the disease from contaminated food or beverages.
Bill Toth, a spokesman for the Orange County Health Department, was cited as saying that not all the children showed signs of E. coli exposure, and investigators were running additional tests.
Officials were cited as saying that three of the children tested positive for a different bacterium -- Staphylococcus aureus -- that can sometimes lead to the kidney problem.
Central Florida Fair manager Charles Price was cited as saying petting zoo exhibits are inspected by health officials and veterinarians, adding, "We have hand-washing stations everywhere. A fair today is not like it was 15 years ago. We are under extreme scrutiny."
An official with the Strawberry Festival wouldn't comment.
The story notes that last fall, 15 children developed the life-threatening kidney ailment in North Carolina, and a petting zoo exhibit at the state fair in October was determined to be the likely source. In all, 108 people, more than half of them small children, were affected by E. coli traced to the fair, though most had far milder symptoms than the 15.

Fight against tainted food grows
March 26/05
Knight-Ridder Tribune
Byline: By Tim Moran, The Modesto Bee, Calif.
SACRAMENTO -- Trevor Suslow, an extension specialist in the vegetable crops department at the University of California at Davis, was cited as outlining the battle against food contamination at the California Agricultural Symposium Thursday in Sacramento.
Suslow was cited as giving a mixed grade to the state's food industry. There's lots of good news, including the use of sophisticated science such as DNA fingerprints to learn how and where bad things get into the food chain.
Commodity groups from almonds to strawberries are investing in research
to make food safer, Suslow said, and food processing plants and procedures are being designed for the first time with food safety in mind, rather than "just moving more material faster."
Suslow was further cited as saying that sometimes solutions can be simple, such as washing fresh market tomatoes with plain water, but it's tougher with strawberries or cilantro leaves, which have all kinds of nooks and crannies for microbes to hide in.
He also said that problems are more likely to occur closer to the consumer -- at a
restaurant or in home preparation.
The story adds that the industry has been developing voluntary "Good Agriculture Practices," which include analyzing risks, identifying potential problems, and developing written procedures and training people to use them.
Documentation and a system of tracing food lots are also a part of the
program.
The application of the programs throughout the food chain has been
uneven, Suslow said, and the industry underutilizes the existing science
available.