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Mom fights for answers on E. coli

by Frank Gray
Source of Article:
It was late April when Lori Coker got a call from her son¡¯s child-care center, saying her son had diarrhea, was vomiting and had to go home. Over that weekend Coker spoke with her doctor and monitored her son. By Monday he hadn¡¯t improved, so his mother took him to the hospital, where he stayed for three days before being taken to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.There it was determined that Coker¡¯s son, Landin, had E. coli and had developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, in which E. coli gets into the kidneys and causes them to shut down. For 15 days, Landin was on dialysis because his kidneys had failed. The strain of E. coli that he had was the same as the one that appeared at Jack In the Box restaurants several years ago and sickened hundreds of people and killed four.On May 25, Landin was discharged, but he had to remain in isolation at home for nearly a week more until it could be determined that he was free of E. coli.Coker¡¯s son will still have to go to the hospital every month or so for the next several months, and after that he will have to be checked every year for a variety of complications that could arise from his exposure to E. coli, including the threat of kidney disease later in life.The lesson to be learned from all of this is that E. coli is nothing to be trifled with, especially when it involves children. It causes more than occasional diarrhea in its victims. It can become a life-threatening illness that can cause lifelong damage.It can also drain the finances of families that it strikes. In this case, Coker, a single mother, hasn¡¯t been able to work for a month.¡°It¡¯s been a month since I got a paycheck,¡± she says.

It turns out that some children at the child-care center her son attended had had diarrhea for two weeks before her son came down with E. coli, but that had been attributed to the fact that some of the children were teething.That irritated Coker. She doesn¡¯t take her child to child care when he¡¯s sick, just so he doesn¡¯t make the other children at the center sick, she says. The child-care center, though, did accept children when they were sick, as long as the illness was regarded as mild, she said.Now, more than 10 children at the center have tested positive for E. coli, and though none suffered as much as Coker and her child, all have paid a price. Coker said several two-income families with children at the center have turned into one-income families, at least temporarily. And she said she has learned that one parent lost a job, apparently because that parent had to remain home with a child.¡°I¡¯m just glad to bring my kid home, but financially it¡¯s devastating, and it has lifelong ramifications,¡± Coker said.Her main concern, all along, Coker says, has been to find out where her son got E. coli. Where did it originate? What was the source? Coker said she has thoroughly cooperated with the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health. She provided a list of everywhere they had eaten for three weeks before her son got sick. ¡°They led me to believe that they were on board with me,¡± she says.Now, she says, department officials are cold at best in their treatment of her when she tries to get answers. She says the department has the attitude that it owns any information it gathers and that what it learns is none of her business. She says she was told that she won¡¯t be told the source of the E. coli that sickened several kids unless it¡¯s linked to packaged meat, and then she will hear about it from news reports, the same as everyone else.That angers Coker. ¡°You went through this hell, but you don¡¯t deserve to know¡± where it originated? she says. She and other parents have a right to know, and the public needs to know, just for its own protection, to make sure such an outbreak doesn¡¯t happen again.The health department, citing privacy laws, has been close-mouthed about much of the case. The department has refused to identify the child-care center. The Journal Gazette filed a Freedom of Information request to learn the name of the child-care center, but the request was denied by the county.The newspaper has since appealed that decision to the state public access counselor, but no decision has been made on the appeal.Curiously, Coker won¡¯t identify the child-care center either, other than to say it is on the outskirts of New Haven. Although she urged the child-care operator to call the newspaper, at least to offer her statements, she promised she would not reveal the name of the center.Late last week, Coker said, after what she regarded as much rebuffing by the health department, she was told that she could see the state report on the case when it is complete, but it would be some time before it is available.
Why the secrecy? Coker asks. Someone is being protected while the public, which needs to know as much information as possible for its own safety, is being told nothing.
We asked the health department about that. The fact is, there isn¡¯t much information to tell anyone right now, other than that the outbreak was limited to children at the child-care center. If some of Coker¡¯s claims about the refusal of the department to give her any information are true, she wasn¡¯t treated correctly, we were told.

The department did tell us this much: The investigation has found no food link to E. coli at the center, and tests have found no evidence of E coli in the water at the center.

If a source is pinpointed, said Mindy Waldron, health department spokeswoman, the source will be made known, short of naming an individual.

Investigators suspect at this point that the outbreak was the result of person-to-person contact, but even that has not been confirmed. If it is established that that was the cause, the person who was the source will not be named.

There¡¯s a chance, Waldron said, that the ultimate source might never be determined, but the final state report, which could take weeks to complete, will be made available to the public and people who were affected by the outbreak.

That report might be particularly frustrating to people such as Coker if it concludes that it was impossible to determine the source. Coker¡¯s son spent nearly a month in the hospital. She has a right to know as much as possible, and so does the public.

Roast beef source of salmonella that sickened 155 at Mother's Day brunch

June 7, 2005
CP Wire
HAMILTON - Dr. Bob Nosal, Halton's medical officer of health, was cited as saying the outbreak of food poisoning stemming from a Mother's Day buffet at the Royal Botanical Gardens is the worst he's seen, adding, "I've been here for 16 years and this is the first outbreak (of salmonella food poisoning) of this magnitude. Salmonella infections are quite common. What is uncommon is the size of this outbreak."
The story says that the Halton Region Health Department's investigation confirmed Tuesday that 155 of the 288 people who ate the meal became ill.
Eight of those who got sick needed to be hospitalized due to dehydration caused by excessive diarrhea and vomiting.
The investigation, which is almost complete, found that salmonella bacteria present in one or more beef roasts multiplied, and from there, other roasts as well as pork and ham were contaminated.
Three different strains of salmonella were present in samples collected from people who ate the buffet, but the health department is still waiting on lab results to finalize which strains.
Nosal was further quoted as saying, "Although there are certain products more likely to have salmonella, like chicken and eggs, it can occur in (beef)," adding that about 20 per cent of raw chicken carries salmonella, while five per cent of raw beef is contaminated.
Nosal was further cited as saying a combination of the food being kept at an improper temperature as well as cross-contamination were responsible for the outbreak, and that those who ate the roast beef were 2.5 times more likely to get sick than those who didn't.
Caterer Kate Greenland was cited as saying she was shocked to hear the bacteria came from the roast beef, but she wouldn't comment further on the findings of the investigation, adding, "This is a very serious matter. As you know, the investigation is not complete."
The Royal Botanical Gardens is suing Greenland's company for $1.1 million.
The Gardens is also being sued by at least one patron who got sick.

Control Aflatoxins, WHO urges
Source of Article:
Accra, June 5, GNA - Aflatoxins, a group of toxic compounds produced by fungi, which contaminate stored crops due to heat, humidity and the activities of insects and rodents continue to constitute a major health hazard in Africa, and concrete measures must be taken to control them, an Expert Group Meeting on Aflatoxins and Health recommended at its just-concluded consultation in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. The toxic substances - found in improperly stored foods such as corn, wheat, nuts, peanut butter and dried fruits - are known to be causative factors in child stunting, child mortality, immune suppression and child neurological impairment, in addition to causing household food insecurity.

It also has a synergistic effect with the hepatitis B virus in the etiology of liver cancer and could interact with HIV/AIDS. A statement issued by the World Heath Organisation (WHO) and received in Accra on Monday said exposure to high levels of aflatoxins causes acute aflatoxicosis, which was often under-recognized and under-reported as a cause of liver damage.

It said participants at the meeting reviewed and discussed 12 scientific papers on the health and nutrition impacts of Aflatoxins and other mycotoxins (toxic substances produced by fungi) and agreed that these substances impacted negatively on livelihoods, particularly of poor people, who had limited freedom for food choices. There was also consensus that the menace of Aflatoxins was a health problem rooted in the entire food chain, thus requiring a multi-disciplinary approach for analysis, action and solution. In its recommendations, the Expert Group called on WHO to engage national governments to recognize exposure to Aflatoxins as a major public health issue; incorporate prevention and control of exposure to Aflatoxins in health, agricultural and social development policies and provide technical advice to establish early warning systems for acute occurrence of the condition.

It urged governments to incorporate surveillance for the condition in WHO Foodborne Disease Surveillance and the Integrated Disease Surveillance Systems and facilitate greater interaction with UN and other agencies for prevention and improved management of outbreaks. It also called on WHO to strengthen health laboratories to include Aflatoxin capacity, and reflect Aflatoxin concerns in guidelines for Integrated Management of Childhood Illness and Integrated Management of Adult Diseases, as well as diets for pregnant/lactating women, infants and young children.

The WHO said in addition to causing premature deaths in Africa, Aflatoxins exert enormous economic toll in the region. A World Bank study recently cited by UN Secretary General, Busumuru Kofi Annan, revealed that the European Union regulation on Aflatoxins costs Africa 750 million dollars each year in exports of cereals, dried fruit and nuts.

The statement said the findings of the Expert Group would be discussed at the Global meeting on Aflatoxins in Geneva, Switzerland, in July and the FAO/WHO Regional Conference on Food Safety for Africa in Harare, Zimbabwe, in October.Source: GNA

Study of high-pressure process to inactivate Norwalk virus underway

Source of Article:


Blacksburg, Va. ? Virginia Tech's High Pressure Processing Laboratory is part of a $600,000 study of the effects of high hydrostatic pressure in inactivating Norwalk virus in seafood, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service to study.
The laboratory is a facility of the Department of Food Science and Technology, devoted to improving food safety and food processing. Virginia Tech will collaborate with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Microbial Safety of Aquaculture Products Center of Excellence in Dover, Del. and the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta.

Norwalk and Norwalk-like viruses (collectively 'noroviruses') are the most common cause of food borne disease outbreaks in the United States, with 22 million cases reported annually. Disease is characterized by nausea and gastroenteritis, and usually passes in 2-3 days with no long-term effects. The disease is rarely fatal, but dehydration can become dangerous in rare cases. In the United States, most outbreaks are linked to consumption of raw oysters and clams, contaminated water, raw salads, and ready-to-eat foods. Noroviruses are resistant to detergents, solvents, high temperatures and freezing, and are extremely contagious.
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Job Openings
Sanitation Manager - WA-Seattle ? Campbell Soup Co.

Quality Assurance Team Leader - Chatsworth, CA - Nestle USA

QA Inspectional Services Supervisor - Columbus, OH ? Wendy¡¯s Int¡¯l, Inc.

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

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

Salmonellosis, foodborne, fatal - USA (South Carolina) (03): Turkey

A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases
From: ProMED-mail Source: SC Dept. of Health and Environmental Control News Release [edited]
Under cooked turkey most likely cause of salmonella outbreak Laboratory analyses of turkey samples has identified _Salmonella enteritidis_ [_Salmonella enterica_ serotype Enteritidis - Mod.LL] as the probable cause of the food borne outbreak in Camden, the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control said Fri 3 Jun 2005. 20 specimens collected from ill patrons also have tested positive for the same bacterium, a bacteria that lives in the intestinal tracts of animals and birds and that is transmitted to humans by contaminated foods of animal origin.
"Results of the epidemiological investigation, which included interviews of both ill and non-ill patrons, found turkey to be significantly associated with illness," said Jerry Gibson, MD, state epidemiologist and director of DHEC's Bureau of Disease Control. "But smaller contributions of other food items cannot be ruled out, possibly due to cross-contamination during cooking or serving."
To date, there have been 304 confirmed and suspected cases, with 56 hospital admissions for people reportedly exposed between 19 and 22 May 2005. Additionally, the Kershaw County coroner has attributed one death from the outbreak to sepsis related to salmonella infection. DHEC's investigation of the outbreak in Camden associated with the Old South restaurant identified several factors that may have contributed to the large number of cases. In addition, an inspection of the facility did identify some equipment that was not functioning properly, which may have led to under cooking of products.
"Based on the statistical and laboratory evidence, along with knowledge about the biology of salmonella, it is likely that turkey was the vehicle, with preparation and handling practices possibly contributing to illness," Dr. Gibson said.
"The restaurant has been cooperative with DHEC personnel during the investigation. The owners are in communication with DHEC environmental health personnel and are discussing training opportunities for the kitchen staff," said Sandra Craig, director of DHEC's Division of Food Protection. The training will include ServSafe, a certification program developed by the National Restaurant Association, she said. The focus of ServSafe is to train foodservice managers about general food safety principles and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) concepts. The ServSafe training will be provided through a partnership between the SC Hospitality Association and Clemson Extension Service. Additionally, DHEC will conduct individual risk assessment training in the restaurant. The investigation continues with both DHEC and federal partners looking at additional laboratory testing to determine possible sources of contamination throughout the food production process. "While there are many opportunities for food to become contaminated as it is produced and prepared, the proper cooking and handling of food is the best defense in protecting yourself against food borne illnesses," Craig said. She said other risk factors that restaurants need to control to prevent illness include:
- Proper holding temperatures for potentially hazardous food
- Proper cooling and reheating of potentially hazardous food
- Ill (infectious) personnel restricted from working
- Proper hygiene (good hand washing)
- Cross contamination of food and equipment prevented
- All equipment, utensils and food contact items washed, rinsed and sanitized
- All food obtained from approved sources

FDA Works to Trace Source of Foodborne Illness in Florida

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is initiating an investigation to determine the source of several clusters of a gastrointestinal illness known as cyclosporiasis that is associated with fresh basil served in Florida during mid-March through mid-April. Known as a traceback, the investigation will work to locate the source of the contaminated produce.

The Florida Department of Health asked FDA on June 2, 2005, to begin the traceback after results of an epidemiological investigation implicated fresh basil as the source of illness in Florida. The Florida Department of Health has 293 laboratory-confirmed cases in 32 Florida counties during March and April of this year. The outbreak includes several clusters and a large number of sporadic cases.

"FDA is aggressively working with our federal and state partners to determine the source of the contaminated product and taking appropriate action to protect the public," said Dr. Robert Brackett, Director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

Cyclosporiasis is caused by the ingestion of the Cyclospora parasite and results in the infection of the small intestine. It causes watery diarrhea with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, substantial weight loss, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, low-grade fever and fatigue. Symptoms usually develop about a week after consuming the contaminated food. Cyclospora infection can be treated with appropriate antibiotic therapy. Individuals experiencing these symptoms after consuming basil products are advised to consult their physicians and notify their local health departments.

In order to help reduce the chances of infection from consuming fresh fruit and vegetables, consumers are reminded of the importance of washing all fresh fruit and vegetables, including fresh herbs, under running tap water before eating them.


Source of Article: Norhtwest Food Processors Association Food Safety News
June 6, 2005

On May 4, the USDA¡¯s Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a revised Notice, entitled ¡°Use of Microbial
Pathogen Computer Modeling in HACCP Plans.¡± The notice provides inspection program personnel with
information about Microbial Pathogen Computer Modeling (MPCM) programs and appropriate verifi cation
activities when an establishment uses MPCM programs in validating and maintaining its HACCP plans. FSIS has
also developed guidance material about MPCM programs for establishments and inspection program personnel.
An MPCM program is computer-based software that, based on such factors as growth, lethality, and survival
in culture broth and food products, estimates the growth or decline of foodborne microbes in food samples in
production. MPCM programs can be valuable tools for establishments to use in supporting hazard analyses,
developing critical limits, and evaluating the relative severity of problems caused by process deviations. They can
also be used to help predict the expected effectiveness of corrective actions.
The Notice is posted at here
Source: USDA 5/4/05

Consumer groups support R-CALF

June 6, 2005
Herd on the Hill
Edited by Dana Downie
A group of national, state and regional public interest groups have filed a
brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of R-CALF. Claiming
to represent over 50 million consumers (the majority of whom have probably
never heard of them), Consumer Federation of American, National Farmer's Union and Public Citizen have led a coalition of 67 other groups in a farcical attempt to discredit the scientists responsible for solutions in a world in which Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) is a reality. Letting ranchers from the Cattlemen's Competitive Marketing Project (CCMP) lead the charge, the groups claim that USDA's Animal Plant & Health Inspection Service took an "inappropriate shortcut" in releasing the lengthy rule which creates the category of minimal risk region. In a teleconference last week, the group cited very few actual facts and relied on fear and innuendo to make its case.

IAFP announces 2005 award recipients
June 6, 2005
IAFP ? News Release
Des Moines, Iowa ? The International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) will present awards recognizing excellence in food safety to the following organization and individuals at IAFP 2005, August 14-17, 2005 in Baltimore, Maryland.
The Black Pearl Award will be presented to DuPont, in recognition of their outstanding achievement in corporate excellence in food safety and quality.
The Harry Haverland Citation Award will be presented to Harold Bengsch, Springfield, Missouri, for his years of devotion to the ideals and objectives of the Association.
Catherine Nnoka, International Life Sciences Institute, North America, Washington, D.C., is the recipient of the Harold Barnum Industry Award. This awards recognizes her outstanding service to the public, industry and the Association.
The Educator Award will be presented to Dr. Christine M. Bruhn, University of California-Davis, Davis, California, to recognize her outstanding service to the public, the Association, and the arena of education in food safety and food protection.
Steven T. Sims, FDA, College Park, Maryland, will be presented the Sanitarian Award to recognize his outstanding service to the public in the field of food sanitation.
The Maurice Weber Laboratorian Award will be presented to Vijay K. Juneja, USDA-ARS-ERRC, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, to recognize his service for outstanding contributions in the laboratory and recognizing a commitment to the development of innovative and practical analytical approaches in support of food safety.
The International Leadership Award will be presented to Dr. Serve Notermans, Bilthoven, Netherlands, for his dedication to the high ideals and objectives of IAFP and for promotion of the mission of the Association in countries outside of the United States and Canada.
Maricopa County Environmental Services Department will receive the Food Safety Innovation Award for creating a new idea, practice, or product that has had a positive impact on food safety.

Food Security and Safety Are Program Priorities for Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
June 03, 2005

Source of Article:

The 2006 program priorities of the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) will continue to focus on food security and food safety as part of its work plan for the new fiscal year. FDA is reviewing the program priorities and requesting public comments by July 19.

A Notice was published in the Federal Register as an opportunity for the public to participate in the priority setting. The FDA will use this input to develop CFSAN's FY 2006 work plan. The work plan establishes the program priorities for the period of Oct. 1, 2005 through Sept. 30, 2006.

The 2006 work plan will be divided into five sections:
(1) Ensuring Food Defense and Security;
(2) Improving Nutrition and Dietary Supplement Safety;
(3) Ensuring Food/Color Additives and Cosmetic Safety;
(4) Ensuring Food Safety: Crosscutting Areas; and
(5) Priority Ongoing Activities.

The format of the new work plan will be identical to the prior year work plan and is set to be available in the fall of 2005. CFSAN intends to issue a progress report on what program priority activities have been completed, as well as any adjustments for the balance of the fiscal year, in summer FY 2005.

Written comments should be submitted by July 19 to:
Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061
Rockville, MD 20852

New lactic acid product helps sausage makers fight listeria

Source of Article:

03/06/2005 - Number one culture maker Chr Hansen launches new product based on lactic acid to help salami and fermented sausage makers fight the common food pathogen listeria, reports Lindsey Partos.Food makers are required to test each food batch where Listeria monocytogenes may be present, such as soft cheese and processed meat products, and in particular those kept refrigerated for a long time where the pathogen can grow at low temperatures.Although infections caused by Listeria are not as common as for salmonella, they can cause anything from diarrhoea to blood poisoning or meningitis, just as the bacterium can lead to miscarriages or cause disease in foetuses and newborns. Danish ingredients firm Chr Hansen, just taken over by private equity company PAI, claims the cost of its B-LC-20 product is far form prohibitive for the maker, amounting to less than half a per cent of the sausage sales price, and bringing savings in the long run. "Peanuts compared to the cost producers will incur if forced to destroy a weeks production or even worse make a total recall from the market,¡± says marketing manager Eva Stenby. more information

'Food safety can only be achieved if we all work well together': MOH
Brockville Recorder and Times
Charles E. Gardner, MD, CCFP, MHSc, FRCPC, medical officer of health and chief executive officer
Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit (Ontario), writes in response to the editorial on May 28 entitled "Make response proportionate to the risk." This editorial was one of several media articles in our district over the past few weeks raising concerns regarding the health unit's intentions towards local farmers' markets.
Food safety is in everyone's interest. By conservative estimate, over two million Canadians will be stricken with food-borne illness each year. This is not just a serious personal health issue for the victims but has significant costs to society through demands on the health-care system, lost productivity and potentially devastating consequences for the producers of the food products involved.
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