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Large outbreak of hepatitis A in tourists staying at a hotel in Hurghada, Egypt, 2004 -orange juice implicated
June 9, 2005
Eurosurveillance Weekly
Christina Frank1 (, Jan Walter1, Marion Muehlen1, Andreas Jansen1, Ulrich van Treeck1, Anja Maria Hauri3, Iris Zoellner4, Eckart Schreier1, Osamah Hamouda1, Klaus Stark1
1Robert Koch-Institut, Berlin, Germany
2Institute of Public Health, State of North-Rhine Westphalia, Munster, Germany
3State Health Authority, State of Hesse, Dillenburg, Germany
4State Health Authority, State of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Stuttgart, Germany
In August and September 2004, a large outbreak of hepatitis A occurred involving tourists staying at a specific hotel (hotel X) in the Egyptian resort of Hurghada. A total of 351 cases associated with this outbreak were came to the attention of the Robert Koch-Institut (RKI): 271 primary and 7 secondary infections reported in Germany, and 60 primary and 13 secondary infections which were reported via the national public health institutes of eight other European countries.
Descriptive epidemiology, Germany

FSIS Extends Effective Date for BSE Surveillance Notices
June 07, 2005
Source of Article:
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has extended for one year until June 1, 2006 the expiration date for notices regarding sample collection from cattle condemned as part of the BSE surveillance program.

The Notices were set to expire June 1, 2005, but will remain in effect until FSIS takes final action on the interim final rule, "Prohibition of the Use of Specified Risk Materials for Human Food and Requirements for the Disposition of Non-Ambulatory Disabled Cattle." The interim final rule is currently under regulatory review.

FSIS Notice 28-04, FSIS Sample Collection from Cattle Condemned during Ante-Mortem Inspection for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Surveillance Program, gave direction to inspection personnel for sample collection, documentation and shipping procedures.

FSIS Notice 29-04, provided questions and answers for ante-mortem condemned cattle, including expectations of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to test at a central location.

Once final action is taken, FSIS will reissue the relevant information from these notices in a FSIS Directive.

Rosemary reduces HCAs
Source of Article:

6/10/2005-According to this release from the University of Arkansas, Food Safety Consortium, extracts of rosemary have been found in recent years to have beneficial effects on food. The latest one is that the spice can reduce the levels of carcinogenic compounds in grilled ground beef patties. The compounds heterocyclic amines, known generally as HCAs are found in cooked fish and meats. HCAs are produced in protein-rich muscle foods that have been barbecued, grilled, broiled or fried. They have also been linked in epidemiological studies to various cancers.
“Rosemary is a hot antioxidant right now. It real popular,said J. Scott Smith, a food chemistry professor at Kansas State University, where he is researching the extract for a Food Safety Consortium project. Antioxidants are often used in food additives to guard against deterioration of food.
Smith experiments sought to find out how much HCAs can be reduced in ground beef patties after the patties are fortified with rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid, two natural antioxidants extracted from rosemary. The results showed that two HCA compounds were reduced at cooking temperatures of 375 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit, but two others were not. More studies are being conducted to determine if temperature adjustment might make a difference with the compounds that weren reduced. going to continue this line of research and try to narrow down some of the chemicals in some of the spices because theye loaded with antioxidants,Smith said. another thing would be to try some of the things that people put on their foods when they put them on the grill.Smith explained that many spices containing antioxidants are now being used on some meat products for better color stability and flavor stability, particularly in pre-cooked meats.
At KSU, Smith is also evaluating the effects of added spices on the production of acylcyclobutanones (ACBs) in irradiated ground beef. Over the last couple of years there have been concerns raised that ACBs may be carcinogenic.
At some point in the future, Smith expects there to be some increased government concerns about HCAs in meat with a strategy developed to reduce them. Many of the HCAs found in cooked muscle foods were designated as likely carcinogens in the recent 11th Report on Carcinogens published by the U.S. National Toxicology Program.

City Inspectors Close Another Risky Restaurant
Source of Article:
Jun 9, 2005 8:34 pm US/Central
(CBS 2) Before you go out to eat again, consider this: although most foodborne illnesses are undiagnosed and unreported, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that every year, about 76 million people in the United States become sick from pathogens in food. And of these, about 5,000 people die. That's why health inspectors are so vigilant they write up even the smallest violations. Jon Duncanson found yet another local restaurant where you might be eating at your own risk.

The food is on the stove: cooking up, simmering down, and looking good. The restaurant: The Great Wall. The complaint: mice dropping from the ceiling.

Inside the Cantonese eating establishment, health inspector Greg Nelson finds you can't get to the employee hand washing sink. It is stuck below the pipes and meters just near the hanging ducks
more information

AMI says beef is safe, full cattle and beef trade with Canada should be restored: Institute calls isolationists¡¯ efforts to keep border closed ¡®economic suicide¡¯
June 9, 2005
American Meat Institute Media Release
St. Paul, Minn.? The American Meat Institute (AMI) today told USDA's BSE Roundtable that full trade in cattle and beef with Canada is warranted by science and essential to the survival of beef companies nationwide.
According to AMI, both the U.S. and Canada were proactive in striving to prevent BSE and aggressive in responding to the one case detected in the U.S. and the three cases detected in Canada. Both nations also have taken extensive steps to protect both animal health and the public health, and those measures have been successful.
According to AMI, the fact that over the last 12 months, the 380,000 cattle most likely to test positive for BSE all tested negative sends a resounding message that U.S. policies are working. And because Canada's BSE prevention strategies and regulations are virtually identical, AMI argued that Canada is a near mirror image of the U.S. and that full trade should be resumed.
¡°There are those here today who will attempt to advance many conspiracy theories¡¦they¡¯ll try to alarm the public with publicity stunts and false claims of imminent danger,¡± said AMI Foundation President James H. Hodges. ¡°But we cannot let this animal disease become an emotional disorder. We must allow science ? not hysteria -- to chart our course.¡±
Hodges said that some American isolationists are distorting science in an effort to maintain a closed border and high cattle prices. But he noted that the North American beef industry is an integrated industry regulated by nearly identical sets of rules and governed by the same scientific principles. ¡°We cannot criticize Canada without criticizing ourselves,¡± Hodges said.
Hodges said that we are now importing record levels of Canadian beef from cattle under 30 months of age. ¡°When our policies permit beef from Canada, but not the animals from which the beef is derived, our policy sends a message to the world that Canada does a better job of processing cattle than we would if we imported the cattle here and processed them ourselves. Is that the message we want to send? ¡±
AMI Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Janet Riley unveiled new black wrist bands that say, the Institute¡¯s new web site that was developed to communicate the urgency of restoring trade with Canada.
¡°We chose black because we are mourning our losses,¡± Riley said. We¡¯ve lost more than 6,100 workers due to layoffs and closed plants. We¡¯ve also lost slaughter capacity. In 2005, we expect to slaughter four million fewer cattle than we slaughtered in 2002. Just this week, another beef packing plant closed in Gering, Nebraska and more than 200 people lost their jobs. The plant cited the inability to source Canadian cattle as a chief reason for the closure.
Riley detailed the millions in aid the Canadian government is providing to its own beef industry in an effort to build new beef plants and expand existing ones that can process Canada¡¯s glut of cattle. She said the plants are state of the art and offer serious competition to the members of the U.S. beef industry.
¡°U.S. policies are stoking Canada¡¯s meat packing engine,¡± Riley said. ¡°We are killing our own U.S. plants. We are committing economic suicide.¡± Riley also said he damage is also hitting hard-working Americans, who are paying record prices for beef ? the highest prices since 1979.
¡°Our industry is in crisis. This strain will drive businesses to bankruptcy and drive those who survive to consolidate into larger companies,¡± Riley noted. ¡°You can¡¯t have it both ways¡¦you can¡¯t fight against free trade and fight against consolidation in the beef industry. But that¡¯s exactly what the isolationists are trying to do.¡±
¡°It is my hope that the 9th Circuit will recognize that this is just a profit-making game for the isolationists and that the court will reverse the preliminary injunction,¡± Riley said. ¡°It is my hope that the court will see what my industry sees: the isolationists¡¯ efforts are like a cancer on the U.S. beef industry. The longer they go untreated, the greater the damage they will do and more irreversible their effects will become.¡±
For more information, visit

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

Food Traceability:
One Ingredient in a Safe and Efficient Food Supply

Case Study:
Hitting the Traceability Target at Birds Eye Foods

Beating Back Biofilms in Food Processing

Restaurant voluntarily closes after salmonella outbreak
By Norman Parish
Of the Post-Dispatch
Source of Article:
The Madison County Health Department is investigating how 13 people recently received salmonella from an East Alton restaurant.
The customers reported illnesses after they ate between May 21- May 24 at Casa Romero Restaurant, 521 East Airline Drive. No one suffered severe illness, county health officials said.
The restaurant, which voluntarily closed last week, will reopen after the investigation is completed, said Toni Corona, county public health administrator.

The county received the first reported case of salmonella from the restaurant June 2, Corona said. Restaurant officials could not be reached for comment.
The health department is now trying to determine the source of the salmonella bacteria. The county is currently interviewing past patrons, employees and others affiliated with the restaurant.

Shampoo detergent added to paint makes surfaces self-sterilizing
June 7, 2005
American Society for Microbiology
ATLANTA -Adding a common ingredient in shampoo to paints and varnishes can create self-sanitizing coatings for frequently touched surfaces in public buildings that continue killing germs for months, according to research conducted by a multi-state consortium of high school students and retirees.
Working through the website, 10 students from New York, Texas and Virginia joined three World War II veterans and a retired railroader from Virginia to report their research findings at the 105th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.
"Public buildings and especially schools are at the center of the epidemiological web for spreading common upper respiratory diseases that cost the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars annually in lost productivity. While it has long been known that our coinage possesses the quality of being self-sterilizing, little previous thought has been given to making frequently handled surfaces such as railings, doorknobs, push-plates, desktops, and faucet handles in public buildings similarly self-sterilizing through the addition of rapidly effective agents," says Carl Vermeulen, a retired microbiologist who runs the website and is coordinator of the project.
In order to find additives that could create the most effective self-sterilizing surfaces, the students tested a variety of metal dusts, salts and other organic chemicals by mixing them into clear varnish. Once dried, varnished surfaces were tested for the speed in which they killed the microbes applied to them. The coating doped with cetavlon, a major detergent component of many shampoos that is completely safe for humans, killed the microbes within seconds of application. Even after 5 months the coating could still self-sterilize within 30 seconds.
"We found that the common shampoo ingredient cetavlon was especially effective, as well as having good dopant properties due to its being a detergent that mixes well with both aqueous and oil-based coatings," says Vermuelen.
While they have shown that paints and varnishes can be made rapidly and inexpensively self-sterilizing, the group has yet to develop floor and furniture polishes that work. Students who may be interested in pursuing this line of research can contact Vermeulen through his website at

Why the fuss about sudan I?
May 28, 2005
American Council on Science and Health
Elizabeth M. Whelan, Sc.D., M.P.H.
This article appeared in the May 28, 2005 issue of the British publication The Grocer:
Food is a highly emotional issue. As a result, food scares make great headlines. It has been said that scary rumors can be halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on. This week, the great scare is the appearance of the banned dye called para red in several food products. The dye is called a "carcinogen" by the scaremongers, but it is unlikely to do harm in the tiny amounts ingested by humans.
Rarely has there been a clearer illustration of the fact that each new food scare seems to follow a pattern similar to ones that came before -- since the previous world-shaking food scare, just weeks earlier (and still ongoing), involved another harmless but banned red dye making its way into the food supply: Sudan I.
The Sudan I scare was insightfully described by The Economist as "the biggest food scare since the last one." Over 400 products containing Sudan I have been recalled due to the purported "human cancer risk" they pose. Sudan I is approved for use in polishes, waxes and solvents--but not in foods.
The alleged problem began when a very large batch of chili powder somehow was contaminated with Sudan I and then was used widely in the preparation of Worcester sauce, which, in turn, was used in as many as 600 prepared food products--everything from shepherd's pie to salad dressing.
The scare and recall was not limited to Great Britain. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a "health hazard alert" for various chili sauces, and as this article is being written, the Sudan scare is heating up bigtime in South Korea and China. Indeed, the South Korean FDA has begun inspecting outlets of fast food restaurants after the Chinese operation of Kentucky Fried Chicken admitted that it had discovered traces of Sudan I in its cuisine. U.S. manufacturer Heinz reported traces of the dye in its Chinese products. The threat of a massive, region-wide recall is becoming increasingly possible.
What is at the heart of this spicy kerfuffle? The same old, same old.
In high doses, Sudan I and its numerical cousins--Sudan II, III and IV--cause cancer in laboratory rodents. Of course, as critics have pointed out, you would have to consume 800 liters of Worcester sauce daily for two years to get the amounts the rodents consumed, given that the amount of Sudan I in any affected product is only measurable in micrograms, or millionths of a gram. That's a lot of Bloody Maries. If, however, you believe that mice and men are the same, then you see a reason for alarm, despite these barely measurable levels.
What is of great interest here is the fact that the British government--specifically the UK Food Standards Agency--seems to have orchestrated this scare/scam in a very self-serving, manipulative manner. Instead of informing consumers that the risk was purely hypothetical, the FSA appeared to hype the risk, recommending that consumers "avoid eating any food known to be contaminated." Critics maintain that the agency's zeal and excessively precautionary warnings represent a PR move to convince consumers that their government food watchdog agency was indeed doing their job--and watching over their flock of nervous eaters. In Canada, the Food Inspection Agency was equally alarmist, warning consumers "not to consume the certain food products [which] contain a non-permitted color, Sudan I, which is considered to be carcinogenic." The fact is, myriad chemicals, natural and synthetic, cause cancer when administered to rodents at high doses--including the benzo(a)pyrene in your tea, and the furan in your scones.
The overwhelming majority of the European media coverage (the U.S. has thus far been spared this particular food scare) referred to the Sudan dyes as "causing cancer"--and that was enough to alarm people in dozens of countries. Such a designation, as described above, is grossly misleading. Interestingly, there is not a shred of scientific evidence that people consuming foods with trace levels of this dye are at any increased risk of cancer. Perhaps we need a team of psychiatrists to explain why an estimated ¡Ì100 million worth of perfectly safe and wholesome food was discarded--to avoid a cancer risk that was never there. Who knows what the cost of the para red scare will be? Or the next scare? Or the next?
Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan is president of the American Council on Science and Health (,

Lower cooking temperatures combat acrylamide, more evidence

Source of Article:
6/9/2005 - New research from the US backs growing evidence that food makers wanting to slice acrylamide from their fried food products should opt for lower cooking temperatures.Acrylamide hit the headlines in 2002 when scientists at the Swedish Food Administration first reported unexpectedly high levels of this potential carcinogen, found to cause cancer in laboratory rats, in carbohydrate-rich foods cooked at high temperatures.Since the Swedish discovery a global effort has been underway to deepen knowledge about this chemical, with more than 200 research projects initiated around the world, and their findings co-ordinated by national governments, the EU and the United Nations. The ¢æ799 billion European food industry has also started to tackle the issue, in particular looking at ways processing can reduce the levels of acrylamide: a chemical that appears to form as a result of a reaction between specific amino acids and sugars found in foods reaching high temperatures in their cooking processes. According to the industry¡¯s body, the CIAA, recent processing investigations have achieved a 30 to 40 per cent reduction in acrylamide. Breakthrough research by UK scientist Professor Don Mottram at the University of Reading has contributed considerably to our understanding of how acrylamide is created in foods.Mottram's team suspected it could be created by a reaction between an amino acid called asparagine, which occurs naturally in relatively high levels in potatoes and other cereals, and sugar. Tests confirmed that when the amino acid is heated, it does react with sugar to create acrylamide, a process called the Maillard reaction. This occurs at temperatures above 100¡ÆC (212¡ÆF). Their findings were published in Nature 419, 448-449 (2002).

Recent research to come out of the US Texas A&M University confirms these findings, revealing that lowering cooking temperature is an ¡°easy and effective way¡± to reduce acrylamide in fried foods. Graduate student Claudia Granda, at the Texas A&M university, altered cooking times, pressure and temperatures to see if acrylamide levels could be decreased. She found lowering the pressure permitted the use of lower temperatures to 118 C (244 F) during vacuum frying. Granda also increased the cooking time to eight minutes and found much less acylamide was formed. Potato crisps are normally fried at 165 C to 180 C (330 F to 360 F) for four minutes.

An added benefit of the vacuum frying, says Granda, is that the potato crisp does not lose its crispy texture. Because potato varieties have varying levels of reducing sugars, Granda tested different types. Storage temperatures, according to Granda, also affected the reducing sugars in the potatoes. Lower storage temperatures increased the amount in potatoes.

The researcher also found that the type of cooking oil had no effect on acrylamide levels. But with the lower cooking temperatures, less oil (28 per cent compared to 40 per cent) was retained on a ¡®wet basis¡¯ in the end product than at normal cooking temperatures.