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Restaurateurs unhappy with flavor of new regulations
May 1, 2005
Knight-Ridder Tribune
Tim Bradner, Alaska Journal of Commerce, Anchorage
Alaska restaurant and food service operators are, according to this story, in slow boil over proposed new state food inspection regulations, and are letting state legislators know about it.
Dale Fox, executive director of Cabaret Hotel Restaurant and Retailers Association (CHAR), was quoted as saying, "Most Alaska businesses don't like being the guinea pig for a new kind of program," adding that what's being proposed is a radical departure from the way food inspections are done now. It will wind up costing more money and create safety concerns for food service workers.
The story says that the centerpiece of the new program are voluntary self-inspections by food service operators with reports filed with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. Training requirements for food service managers and food handlers would also be beefed up significantly.
The DEC's Division of Environmental Health would be given authority to levy fines for violations of the code.
DEC commissioner Kurt Fredriksson was cited as telling legislators April 20 that his staff is still reviewing comments on regulations for the new program and that final decisions have not been made. At the April 20 hearing, Fox was cited as raising fundamental questions on whether the self-inspection approach will work, adding, "If you're a good operator you're following the rules already. If you're a bad operator, just filling out paperwork isn't going to change anything. This just doesn't pass the blush test," as being workable.
The story adds that the training requirements, while well-intended, will create a burden on the restaurant industry, which employs around 2,000 people statewide at any given time and turns over as many as 3,000 employees through the course of a year.
The requirement to have a trained and certified food service manager on the premises at all times is a big burden for small restaurants who have limited management staff.
Karen Lynch, food and beverage director of the Cape Fox Lodge in Ketchikan, was cited as saying that the requirement for all food handlers to wear gloves creates an illusion of safety for the public, adding that, "Gloves can become contaminated just as easily as hands."

Chi-Chi's to Pay $800K for Hepatitis Shots
Chi-Chi's to Pay $800K for Nearly 9,500 Who Got Hepatitis Shots After Outbreak Linked to Restaurant
By JOE MANDAK Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press
Source of Article:
PITTSBURGH Apr 29, 2005 ? Bankrupt Chi-Chi's Inc. and its subsidiaries have tentatively agreed to pay $800,000 to compensate nearly 9,500 people who got inoculated because of a hepatitis outbreak linked to a western Pennsylvania restaurant. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the class action settlement agreement, which must still be filed in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware, from William Marler, a Seattle attorney who represents the plaintiffs' class. The victims will split $800,000, but how much each gets will be determined by how many of them eventually file claims with the court, Marler said. His firm will get a fee of $150,000 on top of that amount, though Marler said $100,000 of that money would be donated to charity after his firm pays $50,000 in expenses spelled out in the deal."With class actions what's bothered me in the past is that everybody (the plaintiffs) gets a coupon and the lawyers get a million dollars," Marler said. An attorney for Chi-Chi's declined comment on the deal, and referred questions to a Chi-Chi's spokesman who didn't immediately return calls. Four people died and more than 650 people were sickened by tainted green onions served at the restaurant at Beaver Valley Mall in western Pennsylvania. According to the document, 9,489 people got immune globulin shots from the Pennsylvania Department of Health after the outbreak was publicized in early November 2003. Health officials urged shots for family members of those sickened, as well as those who ate in the restaurant in the weeks leading up to the outbreak. Marler's firm has crafted similar settlements in other large foodborne outbreaks. Typically, about 30 percent of those who got shots will file claims, Marler said. If that happens in this case, about 2,850 claims will be filed and each will be worth about $281. Under the deal, Marler's firm will pay about $40,000 to publicize the settlement in various media. The firm also will pay the Health Department about $10,000 to notify all those who got a shot. The letters will advise them of a deadline that has yet to be determined.

Paper on FAO¡¯s strategy for a safe and nutritious food supply
April 2005
Food Safety and Quality Update: No. 28
The complete document can be downloaded from:
click here to download
At its 19 th session (April 2005), FAO¡¯s Committee on Agriculture (COAG) considered a document prepared by the FAO Secretariat on the above subject. The Committee supported FAO¡¯s proposed strategy which stresses the need for addressing food safety issues along the food chain. It recommended that countries utilize a stepwise and sequential method in implementation of the food chain approach and that special attention should be paid to the needs of smallscale farmers in developing countries to assist them in integrating into international food markets.

First Dutch "mad cow" disease patient dies
Source: Reuters
Source of Article:
AMSTERDAM, May 3 (Reuters) - A 26-year old woman who had recently been diagnosed with the human variant of "mad cow" disease died on Tuesday, the first Dutch victim of the brain wasting illness, her hospital said.The Mesos hospital in the central Dutch city of Utrecht declined to give further details at the request of the woman's family.The hospital had made a diagnosis of probable variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), on April 15. Specialists at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam confirmed the diagnosis on April 18.Around 150 cases of vCJD have been reported around the world, mostly in Britain, but also in France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Canada and the United States.The disease is fatal and incurable. It is thought to be caused by eating food tainted with material from cattle with BSE, a progressive neurological disorder.The Dutch health ministry has said the woman had not travelled to England nor received a blood transfusion, so that her illness was probably caused by past consumption of tainted meat.There have been some 77 BSE cases in animals in the Netherlands since 1997 with a peak in 2002, but the government says Dutch beef is safe because all cattle are tested for BSE, and brain and spinal material is kept apart and destroyed.The Netherlands is one of the world's biggest exporters of meat and dairy products and its livestock sector has undergone major intensification in the past few years, with most animals raised on specialised farms.The country has suffered a series of animal disease crises in the past decade, including swine fever, foot-and-mouth and bird flu, leading to the culling of millions of animals.The Netherlands announced strict new restrictions last year on blood donation over concerns about the transmission of vCJD.
Mad cow disease first emerged in Britain in the 1980s and forced the destruction of millions of cattle.

5 In Oregon Stricken With Salmonella

Source of Article:
Portland, Ore -- Five Oregon cases of Salmonella have been identified by public health officials, with the source of the outbreak being traced to baby chicks from a Washington hatchery.
Residents in the states of Washington and Idaho have also been affected.Some people who were infected reported that they did not handle chicks directly, but had worked or passed through rooms where chicks were kept. Environments can be easily contaminated from bacteria in animal wastes, according to Emilio DeBess, a public health veterinarian for the State of Oregon. The first cases of Salmonella Ohio-a rare serotype-were identified on April 11, with the most recent cases was reported on April 26, DeBess said. Public health officials warn that more cases could surface. Baby chicks, usually sold by mail order or in feed stores, have been repeatedly identified as the source of salmonellosis outbreaks. Thorough hand washing with soap and warm water is the most important way to prevent Salmonella or other infections, DeBess said. He also recommends that children be supervised so they do not nuzzle or kiss chicks or other fowl. Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection that can cause severe diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps and chills. People are most often infected by eating food or drinking water contaminated with
Salmonella or by contact with infected people or animals. Animals often infected with Salmonella include turtles, iguanas, other reptiles, cattle, chicks, ducklings and other birds. Oregon, Washington, and Idaho public health officials have worked collaboratively to share information on this outbreak.

Numerous Arkansans sick after eating at Benton restaurant
( Air Date: 5/2/2005 )
Source of Article:

The Arkansas Department of Health has announced an outbreak of Salmonellosis in Benton. To date, nine people have confirmed illnesses. There is a link to Cafe Santa Fe at 178324 Highway I-30, Benton. The Health Department does not believe that any other area restaurants are affected. The restaurant voluntarily closed its doors and will reopen after approval from the Health Department to assure that no possible sources of contamination exists. Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection that usually affects the intestines
and occasionally the bloodstream. It is one of the more common causes of
foodborne illness with several hundred cases occurring in Arkansas each year. Most cases occur in the summer months and are seen as single cases, clusters, or outbreaks. The bacteria are spread by eating or drinking contaminated food or water or by contact with infected people or animals. People exposed to the Salmonella bacteria may have diarrhea, cramping, fever, nausea, vomiting and headache. Some people may have very mild or no symptoms, but some infections can be quite serious, especially in the very young or elderly. The symptoms generally appear 12 to 36 hours after exposure. Anyone who has eaten at the Cafe Santa Fe restaurant within the last seven days and is experiencing symptoms such as these should see a physician.


May 4, 2005
Associated Press
Margaret Stafford
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns was cited as telling the International Symposium of Agroterrorism attended by about 750 people from law enforcement, agriculture, food processing, science, health, government and medicine, that the United States is much better prepared to detect and respond to a strike on the nation's food supply than it was before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and that agroterrorism is a very real threat, adding, "We approach this problem from different perspectives. But the one common understanding is that agroterrorism has the potential to harm our food supply, our economics and, in some cases, our people."
Johanns was further cited as saying that as an example of better partnerships being formed to fight agroterrorism, his department and the FBI will soon sign an agreement that will, among other things, provide training for the agencies' employees to detect and respond to agroterrorism.
The former Nebraska governor also said the USDA is committed to an animal identification system that would eventually allow the government to track animals from birth to market.
Johanns also cited an improved national network of laboratories to test, identify, assess and respond to an attack on the food supply. He said the network also will improve efforts to eradicate and respond to disease outbreaks.

Researcher May Have Found Key To Testing For Mad Cow Disease
Wed May 4, 9:02 AM ET
Source of Article:
For decades, neuroscientists have theorized that a malformed protein, not viruses or bacteria, caused degenerative illnesses such as "mad cow disease" and Alzheimer's disease. The problem, however, was studying the proteins. It took too long for the sick proteins to damage the healthy proteins in a test-tube environment.Dr. Claudio Soto, a professor of neurology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, hopes to change that. A technique his team developed would speed the process by using bursts of ultrasonic waves to break up long protein strands.Soto and his team said their discoveries have led to an early test of blood and food to help doctors detect brain-destroying diseases before they can do much damage -- the first step in developing effective treatments.Such diseases now are detectable only decades after the first problems occur. By that time, it is too late for the patient, Soto said.The team's thesis was published in April in the journal Cell.Currently the only way to test cattle and people for such diseases is to dissect the brain.Because it can take years for sick proteins, called prions, to damage enough healthy proteins to be noticeable, producing a usable sample would take decades."When people begin to develop symptoms of these diseases, more than 50 percent of the brain is already lost," Soto said. "The next step is using this technology to detect prions in the blood; that way we can diagnose the disease before the damage occurs." By breaking a single sample into many, researchers can multiply the growing samples hundreds of times over. In creating the process, researchers laid the foundations of a method to test blood and food supplies for diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and bovine spongiform encephaly, commonly called "mad cow disease." Soto says there is still much work to be done, however. "This is a very unique system by which diseases can be transmitted," he said. "Our next step is to start working with human and animal samples."

Soleris¢â Technology Sets New Standard in Determining the Shelf-life of Milk

Groundbreaking study shows Soleris system is over five times faster than the conventional test method Kingsport, Tenn. (April 20, 2005) Soleris technology (formerly Biosys, also marketed as MicroFoss¢â) has been proven an effective indicator of the shelf-life of pasteurized fluid milk, according to a study conducted by the Mississippi State University Department of Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion. When compared with the test system currently used by most dairies, Soleris¡¯ sensitive technology was more than five times faster, providing rapid, accurate test results within 38 hours, as opposed to more than 8-9 days. This allows dairies to ensure the highest quality through the shelf life of their product, increasing overall customer satisfaction.

Consumer demand for maximum freshness has driven the need for a more rapid method to accurately test the shelf-life of milk. For over 30 years, microbiological estimates have been used as the standard for measuring the shelf-life of milk. Shelf-life, defined as the period between processing and the time milk becomes unacceptable to consumers due to taste or odor, is adversely affected by microbial contamination. The results of the Mississippi State University study show that Soleris technology is more effective than the conventionally used Moseley Keeping-Quality test in indicating the shelf-life of milk.

¡°For decades, dairies have been relying on conventional plating methods to estimate the shelf-life of milk,¡± says Dr. C.H. White, Professor of Dairy Foods, Mississippi State University. ¡°Soleris technology reduces the time it takes to determine the shelf-life of milk, allowing dairies to ensure the highest level of quality possible.¡±

The Moseley test takes inherently longer to predict the shelf-life of milk because it relies on a long pre-incubation, followed by a conventional plating-based system. This means that it can take 8-9 days to test a sample for microbial contamination. Soleris technology, however, features an innovative combination of photo detection, ready-to-use assays and advanced Windows-based software. Soleris technology rapidly and accurately determines the shelf-life of milk within 38 hours.

¡°This rapid and accurate technology provides a more effective way for dairies to detect and troubleshoot microbial contamination present in their manufacturing operations,¡± says Dr. Ruth Eden, chief scientific officer, Centrus International. ¡°Rapid elimination of microbial contaminants in the manufacturing process allows dairies to ensure the production of pasteurized milk with longer shelf-life while maximizing customer satisfaction and decreasing product returns.¡±

Determining the Shelf-life of Milk
According to the American Dairy Science Association (ADSA), the most accurate way to determine milk¡¯s actual shelf-life is by sensory evaluation, a test for flavor quality. The results of a sensory evaluation can be used to gauge the overall effectiveness of a microbial shelf-life test system, such as the Soleris and Moseley tests.

Mississippi State University experts first determined the actual shelf-life of each sample using the ADSA-approved sensory evaluation. They then ran the Moseley and Soleris tests, comparing the results with those of the sensory evaluation and then to one-another.

Centrus International, Inc.
Located in Kingsport, Tenn., U.S.A., Centrus is a global diagnostics business, providing innovative solutions that improve the lives of its customers. Centrus customers include leading manufacturers in food processing, meat, dairy, nutraceutical and other industrial diagnostics markets where timely, accurate actionable information is essential to making important business decisions. Centrus is a wholly owned subsidiary of Eastman Chemical Company (NYSE-EMN), and its products and services are available directly and through its business partners worldwide. For more information about Centrus and its products, visit

For more information, please contact Richard Fountain, marketing and communications manager, Centrus International, Inc., tel: 423-229-5986, email:

Cyclospora outbreak

April 29, 2005
Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- At least 30 people have, according to this story, gotten sick in Florida in recent weeks from cyclospora.
Lindsay Hodges, a spokeswoman for the state Health Department, was quoted as saying Thursday, "We are looking to identify any potential links that these cases have."
The story adds that the Health Department issued an alert to physicians and health care providers, telling them to consider cyclospora as a diagnosis.

Are Noroviruses emerging?
May 2005
Emerging Infectious Diseases:
Vol. 11, No. 5
Marc-Alain Widdowson,* Stephan S. Monroe,* and Roger I. Glass*
*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
The complete document can be downloaded at click here

In 1972, noroviruses (previously called "Norwalk-like viruses") were discovered as the first viruses definitively associated with acute gastroenteritis. During the next 2 decades, researchers were unable to develop simple methods to detect these common viruses or to find the etiologic agents of nonbacterial gastroenteritis outbreaks and hospitalizations. Indeed, of >2,500 foodborne outbreaks reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1993 to 1997, <1% were attributed to noroviruses, and 68% were of "unknown etiology" (1). As a result, noroviruses were out of sight and mind and thus relegated to a minor role as agents of gastroenteritis at a time when high-profile outbreaks of Salmonella Enteritidis (2) and Escherichia coli (3) had focused attention and budgets on preventing foodborne bacterial illnesses.

FDA claims no safety concerns with Bt10 corn
Source of Article:
4/29/2005-The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have coordinated efforts to determine the safety of genetically engineered Bt 10 corn in food and feed. Bt 10 is closely related to Bt 11, a genetically engineered corn line which has undergone full U.S. regulatory clearance. FDA has evaluated whether the inadvertent marketing of Bt 10 presents any food or feed safety concerns.
FDA does not believe that possible unintended changes in the composition of corn pose food or feed safety risks or regulatory issues in circumstances in which the corn makes up a small part of the total food or feed supply. In this type of situation, the relevant information for food and feed safety is the safety of the new protein(s) in the corn. Therefore, in circumstances such as those surrounding the presence of Bt 10 in food and feed, the information relevant to safety assessment is limited to the safety of the proteins evaluated by EPA.
Based on EPA's finding that the genetically engineered proteins in Bt 10 are safe, the extremely low levels of Bt 10 corn in the food and feed supply, and the fact that corn does not contain any significant natural toxins or allergens, FDA has concluded that the presence of Bt 10 corn in the food and feed supply poses no safety concerns.
Thus, under these circumstances, there are no further requirements under the U.S. regulatory process for Bt 10 to be legally present in the United States food and feed supply. However, it is not legal for Bt 10 to be planted in the United States.
For more information on the respective roles of USDA-APHIS, EPA, and FDA in the federal regulation of genetically engineered plants, see the
United States Agencies Unified Biotechnology Website: