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New International Health Regulations: World Health Organization
May 27, 2005
Infectious Disease News Brief ? Health Canada
The World Health Assembly approved a new set of International Health Regulations to manage public health emergencies of international concern. The new rules will prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease. Many of the provisions in the new regulations are based on the experience gained and lessons learnt by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the global community over the past 30 years. The need for new rules and operational mechanisms for a more coordinated international response to the spread of disease has been most clearly shown during the recent outbreaks of SARS in 2003 and avian influenza in 2004-2005. The regulations include a list of diseases such as smallpox, polio and SARS whose occurrence must be notified to WHO. The regulations also include a matrix for countries to decide whether other incidents constitute public health events of international concern. The regulations will formally come into force two years from the date on which they were approved by the Assembly. The press release and new regulations are available at
Minister of Health, Minister of State and Chief Public Health Officer applaud the adoption of new International Health Regulations
Source: World Health Organization, 23 May 2005.

Highlighted Job Openings
Quality Services Technician - Los Angeles, CA - Mars, Incorporated

Quality Assurance Specialist - Omaha, NE - ConAgra Foods, Inc.

Food Safety Specialist - Albuquerque, NM - The Steritech Group

Quality Services Manager - IL-Chicago - Kraft Foods

Microbiologist - MN-St Louis Park - Novartis Consumer Health

Sanitation Supervisor - US-MN-St Louis Park - Novartis Consumer Health

Quality Assurance Lab Manager - GA - Atlanta - The Coca-Cola Company

Quality Assurance Lab Technician - CA-San Diego - Jack in the Box

QA Audit Specialist - Omaha, NE - ConAgra Foods, Inc.

Sr Food Safety and Plant Reg. Spec. - Omaha, NE- ConAgra Foods, Inc.

Poisoned hotdogs left out for Lethbridge canines
May 27, 2005
The Calgary Herald
Elise Stolte
Police are, according to this story, warning parents to keep a close eye on young children after someone scattered nearly 100 pieces of poisoned hotdog in a Lethbridge community, poisoning at least three dogs.
Staff Sgt. Jeff Cove of the Lethbridge police was quoted as saying, "What if a child had come along and in a moment of inattention, popped it in their mouth? Kids do these things. We are concerned that someone would deliberately put the apparently poisoned hotdogs out. ¡¦ Putting out poison like this is just wanton and reckless disregard for the safety of other individuals. Frankly, it's a criminal offence."

Scientists identify phthalates as a gender bender

Source of Article:

30/05/2005 - Normal exposure to phthalates, a chemical group used in plastics packaging to make products flexible and pliable, may harm the genital development of unborn baby boys, according to a study by US-based scientists.

The findings, reported in a study published in the online edition of Environmental Health Perspectives, are the first to "support the hypothesis that prenatal phthalate exposure at environmental levels can adversely affect male reproductive development in humans", the authors state.

Previous studies on male animals, mainly rodents, have shown that high levels of phthalates can make them more feminine and lead to poor sperm quality and infertility. The new study indicates that exposure to normal levels of phthalates may have a similar effect on humans. In the study researchers from a number of universities analysed human exposure to phthalates, which are commonly used in consumer products as solvents and to soften plastics for bags.

Phtalates can also be found in soft vinyl plastic toys, medical tubing and fluid bags, and a variety of cosmetics such as perfume, lotion, shampoo, make-up, nail polish, and hairspray.

A national study in the US found that the majority of the general population had measurable exposure to multiple phthalates, the scientists stated. Researchers collected data from 85 mother and son pairs. Prenatal urine samples were analysed for the presence and quantity of nine phthalate metabolites. The 85 male children were then examined for genital characteristics that serve as markers of normal sexual development.

"The findings suggest that some phthalates have antiandrogenic effects, meaning they may suppress the hormones involved in male sexual development," the scientists state. "Higher levels of four phthalate metabolites (mono-ethyl phthalate [MEP], mono-n-butyl phthalate [MBP], mono-benzyl phthalate [MBzP] and mono-isobutyl phthalate [MiBP]) were found to correlate with a higher-than-expected number of abnormalities in genital development including smaller anogenital distance, scrotum, and penis and an increased likelihood of undescended testicles."

The findings were consistent with those from previous rodent studies on phthalate exposure, they stated.

"These changes in humans associated with prenatal exposure to some of the same phthalate metabolites that cause such alterations in male rodents suggest that these widely used phthalates may undervirilize humans as well as rodents," the authors wrote.

The lead author of the study was Shanna Swan of the University of Rochester's department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Environmental Health Perspectives is published by a section of the US health and human services department.

Frequent flipping means safer burgers
May 24, 2004
Washington State University
PULLMAN, Wash. ? Frequent flipping is the best way to ensure that hamburgers and other thin meats are thoroughly cooked, according to research done at Washington State University.
¡°Our research found that either using a clamshell grill that cooks both sides of the meat simultaneously or frequent flipping in the frying pan or on the grill is the best way to assure that thin meats like hamburgers are thoroughly and evenly cooked,¡± says Val Hillers, retired WSU Extension food safety specialist. ¡°And the best way to be sure your meats are safe to eat is to check them with a food thermometer.¡±
Meats, especially ground meats like hamburger, need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. to kill bacteria that can cause serious illnesses and even death, according to Hillers.
Research conducted by WSU food safety scientist Dong-Hyun Kang found that using the two-sided clamshell grills, or frequently turning meats on a single-sided grill or in the frying pan, were the best ways to ensure that thin meats are evenly cooked to a safe temperature.
Kang¡¯s research involved inserting multiple temperature probes into hamburgers and other thin cuts of meat, and monitoring temperatures while cooking them using a variety of techniques.
He found that that traditional approach of only turning the meats once on the grill or in the frying pan often resulted in uneven heating and cool spots that could harbor bacteria, such as the strain of E. coli that can cause serious illness and even death.
¡°Dr. Kang¡¯s research found that even though portions of the meat may have achieved a safe temperature the cool spots could harbor live bacteria,¡± Hillers says. ¡°His research showed that the quick two-sided cooking provided by a clamshell-style grill was the most effective at killing dangerous food borne bacteria, and frequent turning was the most effective when cooking on the grill or in the frying pan.¡±
¡°Of course, the only way to determine whether any meat is cooked to a safe temperature is to check it with a food thermometer,¡± says Hillers. ¡°It also helps avoid overcooking.¡±
Kang¡¯s research findings are highlighted in the educational materials developed by Hillers and Sandy McCurdy, University of Idaho Extension food safety specialist to promote increased use of food thermometers.
Haggen Foods and Top Food stores in Washington, and Albertson¡¯s stores in Idaho, are helping get the word out in time for the Memorial Day holiday and the summer grilling season. The stores are featuring displays and information cards in their meat sections promoting the proper use of food thermometers.
Additional information about food thermometer use can be ordered from WSU Extension. Materials include recipes with directions for using a thermometer when cooking hamburger patties, pork chops, chicken breasts, sausage patties and ground turkey patties. A brochure with additional information about using food thermometers and a video illustrating proper thermometer use also can be ordered by going to and entering "thermometer" in the search box.

272 Report Symptoms Stemming from Salmonella Outbreak
Monday May 30, 2005 8:01am Posted By: Theresa Acker
Source of Article:
Columbia, SC - D-HEC says 272 people have reported symptoms stemming from a Salmonella outbreak at a Camden restaurant last week. A statewide public health advisory was issued earlier this week for anyone who ate the Old South Restaurant from last Thursday to Sunday.

D-HEC reports 50 people have been hospitalized.

Fifty-eight-year old James Arledge of Lugoff died Sunday after eating chicken, dressing, chicken, peas and apple cobbler at the restaurant last Thursday. The restaurant closed voluntarily Tuesday.

The 272 reports surpass a 1996 food-born illness outbreak in Greenville County.

Nebraska Health Official Richard Raymond to be Nominated USDA Under Secretary For Food Safety
May 31, 2005

Source of Article:

Nebraska health official Richard Raymond, M.D., will be nominated to serve as USDA's Under Secretary for Food Safety, according to an announcement from the White House today.

As Under Secretary, Raymond would oversee USDA¡¯s Food Safety and Inspection Service and serve as chair for the U.S. Codex Steering Committee. He would replace former Under Secretary Dr. Elsa Murano, who returned to Texas A & M University late last year.

Raymond currently serves as director of the Regulation and Licensure Agency within the Nebraska Health and Human Services System (HHS) and also serves as chief medical officer of that system. He was appointed director by then-governor Mike Johanns. The Regulation and Licensure Agency licenses health related professions such as nurses, doctors, and psychologists, as well as facilities and services. The agency is also responsible for regulations for HHS, as well as environmental issues dealing with safe drinking water and disease outbreak investigations.

Raymond previously served as the director of the Clarkson Family Practice Residency Program and earlier in his career, Raymond served as medical director for the Nebraska Health System's Hospice Program. He earned a bachelor's degree from Hastings College and a doctor of medicine from the University of Nebraska.

[FDA] Outdoor Eating Food Safety Tips

New Technologies, Demands Lead To Food Identity Crisis
(The Washington Post, DC)
By Cindy Skrzycki

The National Milk Producers Federation had a meltdown two years ago when it learned the International Ice Cream Association wanted to tinker with the "standard of identity" for the frozen confection.

Like many other foods, ice cream has a "standard of identity" -- a sort of food pedigree -- that determines how it is supposed to look and taste, as well as the required ingredients and even its name. The milk producers were upset by a petition the ice cream makers filed with the Food and Drug Administration requesting a change in the composition of ice cream: removing a limitation on the use of whey, a milk-derived protein, in the recipe.

The milk federation, which has a stake in how much of its product goes into ice cream, told the Agriculture Department the only benefit would be to manufacturers because whey is cheaper than milk. The ice cream makers said that the addition of whey won't change the creamy character or taste of ice cream and that it aids in freezing and whipping the ingredients together, as well as in preventing ice crystals.

The debate over the ice cream standard has yet to be resolved. It is only one example of how traditional food standards, many of them issued decades ago for staple foods such as cheese, ketchup, mayonnaise and macaroni, are being challenged. New food technology, processes and nutritional demands from consumers for low-fat and low-calorie foods are driving the development of new products that don't fall in the old categories.
more information

Girl on mend from E. coli: Afflicted teen may head home
May 31, 2005
The Calgary Herald
Leanne Dohy
15-year-old Sara Burgess may, according to this story, be allowed to go home today fter a nightmare month of painful recovery from E. coli infection.
Mother, Linda, was quoted as saying, "We're pretty excited. We're going to have see how she's doing, but we're hopeful that it might be (today)."
The story explains that Sara's kidneys have begun working again, and the teenager was able to go off dialysis late last week. She spent Saturday and Sunday at home with her family, and was disoriented by how much time has passed while she battled the deadly infection.
Burgess was further cited as saying that she's not angry, and knows that the Peters' employee didn't intentionally cause Sara's suffering, adding, "I decided at the beginning that all of my emotion had to go to my daughter. Feeling angry at someone else would not make her better. I know it wasn't deliberate, but at the same time, I feel it's important that people in the food industry know that they have to be careful. It's so important. They have to know what it can do to someone if they don't."

Salmonellosis, foodborne, fatal - USA (South Carolina)(02)
May 29, 2005
A ProMED-mail post
Date: 29 May 2005
From: ProMED-mail
Source: [edited] 28 May 2005
http: //
Case is largest of its kind in SC history
With the number of people reporting symptoms from the salmonella outbreak in Camden, SC rising to 272 on Fri 27 May 2005, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is faced with its largest foodborne illness investigation in recent state history.
State health officials will work over the weekend to determine the source of salmonella at the Old South Restaurant, according to Missy Reese, spokesperson for DHEC's Wateree Health District. Answers likely won't come earlier than Tue 31 May 2005, she said.
The death of a 58-year-old Lugoff resident also has been linked to the outbreak, which affected people who ate at the Camden restaurant from 19-22 May 2005, state health officials said. The number of hospitalizations was at 50 by Fri 27 May 2005.
The state DHEC set up 4 hot lines for people who might have been sickened by the outbreak, though Reese said calls were tapering off. "We're getting toward the end of the incubation time," she said. Salmonella can take up to 72 hours to cause such symptoms as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.
Reese said it was "too early to say" whether the agency will reevaluate how it inspects and rates restaurants or issues public health advisories as a result of this week's events. "The Legislature approves any regulations and sets the laws that we follow," she said. "We just follow the protocol."
DHEC spokesman Thom Berry said the agency moves quickly to notify people who might have been affected by a foodborne illness. Most of those come from small gatherings like family reunions, he said, adding that a situation like the one in Camden is "very rare."
The largest food-borne illness outbreak before Camden was in 1996 in Greenville, when 244 people got sick. No deaths were reported.
[Byline: Kristy Eppley Rupon]

RBG, caterer face lawsuit
May 31, 2005
The Spectator/ Burlington Post
The Royal Botanical Gardens in Ontario and a caterer are, according to these stories, accused of negligence and breach of duty in a $1-million lawsuit filed on behalf of the 150 people who suffered food poisoning after eating a Mother's Day brunch.
The stories say the suit was filed yesterday in Hamilton court by the high-profile law firm of Scarfone Hawkins, which hopes to have it registered as a class action.
A Caledonia man, Douglas Jones, is acting as plaintiff in the suit against the RBG and Compton & Greenland Fine Foods Catering of Hamilton, but lawyer David Thompson was cited as sayiing his firm has received calls from about 15 other people interested in legal action since the May 8 incident and that it could take about six months to register the suit as a class action, adding, "I think it does meet the definition of a class-action lawsuit. Usually, what we're looking for is a common issue ... and if we've got 150 people, it's uneconomical to bring in 150 individual claims." more information