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Could The French Fries You Eat Be Killing You?

Source of Article:

August 4 - Hot and greasy. For some they're simply irresistible, but one state wants to make sure you know exactly what you're eating before you dig in to another bag of french fries.

Can french fries cause cancer? Well, that depends on who you ask. A Swedish study a few years back reported some carbohydrates cooked at prolonged high temperatures can create a chemical by-product that causes cancer in rats. Then a German study showed the same cancer causing substance can be passed from mothers to fetuses and nursing babies. However, the most recent studies show no link between increased risks of cancer and frying foods, but that isn't keeping the state of California from seeking warning labels on french fries.

"The last thing we want to do is scare people or alarm them," says Allan Hirsch from the California EPA.

The California EPA wants consumers to know this favorite American snack may be dangerous. A warning the potato industry and the state of Idaho find ridiculous.

"We've been eating acrylamide since man invented fire. Ever since we started cooking foods, there's been acrylamides that we've been consuming," says Frank Muir from the Idaho Potato Commission. "If you put a warning label on french fries or potato chips because of acrylamides, then to be fair, you're going to have to put it on bread, you're going to have to put it on all the ready to eat cereals, those high brand cereals, they have acrylamide."

So far here in Kansas, state agencies have not looked into putting out any similar types of warnings. And even if they did, local Spangles restaurant managers don't think a little acrylamide is going to get most customers to stop asking for their golden fried potatoes.

"There may be one or two interested in health concerns but it will still be a majority purchased item of our products," says Dean Maxwell, a Spangles area supervisor.

So what do consumers think? We couldn't find anyone willing to change their order so far.

Now at the federal level, the FDA says it is continuing to study acrylimide, but at this point it is not issuing any warnings to consumers.

E. coli O157, water contamination - Switzerland (black forest)
July 27, 2005
A ProMED-mail post
Date: Wed 27 Jul 2005
From: Thomas Roesel
Source: [translated by submitter, edited]
http: //`
Epi-Notice: Bloody diarrhea and hemolytic uremic syndrome in Freiburg
On 12 Jul 2005, doctors from Inselspital in Bern reported to the Federal Department of Health 2 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in children who were hospitalized within 24 hours of each other in the same area in Freiburg.
An investigation ensued, involving the health authorities in the canton of Freiburg, which revealed 5 further cases of bloody diarrhea without HUS as well as other cases of "typical" gastroenteritis that occurred. These cases came from 4 of the 5 villages in the area. Fecal contamination of the area's drinking water supply was the presumed cause for these cases. Infection could have been related to bathing in springs or streams in the region. The large number of cows found in valley fields, together with heavy rainfall during early June 2005, may explain the contamination of the natural springs as well as the drinking water supply and the feeder streams. No other consumable was identified that could have caused an infection. Analyses of samples taken from the 1st 4 patients, performed at the National Center for Enteropathic Bacteria Reference Laboratory, led to the isolation of large amounts of enterohemorrhagic E. coli O157. Traces of verotoxin were demonstrated in water samples taken from the area's water supply.
As soon as the fecal contamination of the water supply became known, the cantonal health authorities, working together with area officials, ordered countermeasures. In one of the villages, the residents were urgently advised not to consume water that was not first boiled.
Dr. Thomas R. Roesel
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Washington, DC
[ProMED thanks Dr. Roesel for this posting and translation.
Water supply and swimming areas are not commonly reported sources of verotoxin-producing E. coli. As here, heavy rains over cow pastures can wash the toxin- producing E. coli into the potable or swimming water.
It should be noted again that a recent (6 Jun 2005) article in the journal Pediatrics reported that early recognition of infection with E. coli O157:H7, with the use of intravenous plasma expansion with fluids, could lower the risk of developing hemolytic uremic syndrome:
Ake JA, Jelacic S, Ciol MA, et al: Relative nephroprotection during Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections: association with intravenous volume expansion. Pediatrics 2005; 115:673-80. - Mod.LL]

Addressing agroterrorism worries
August 4, 2005
The recent wave of bombings in London and Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt are a stark reminder of the importance of efforts currently underway to keep the nation's food supply safe from terrorism, according to an Aon agribusiness expert.
A Senate Agriculture committee reviewing protection for U.S. agriculture recently heard testimony suggesting that sabotaging the nation's agriculture system would not be that difficult. Aon Agribusiness and Food Systems Group senior vice president Rick Shanks says he understands that perception exists, but that doesn't mean U.S. agriculture is standing pat. "While agroterrorism is perceived as being alarmingly easy, the fact is, the cattle industry is implementing plans to protect against agricultural sabotage," he says. "While nothing is 100% secure, as a nation we've taken big steps in the right direction."
Shanks says another worry for food system experts is the importing of animal diseases from other countries. Senate committee members heard of three significant contagions that could threaten U.S. agriculture:
Rift Valley fever from Africa
Nipah virus from Asia
Avian influenza
All were described as significant threats because of their contagious nature and the fact that they can cause death in humans. Shanks says we are right to be concerned. "Avian flu, for example, is a significant threat to the U.S. poultry system as well as to humans if it breaks out here," he says. "There've been recent outbreaks of avian influenza in Connecticut and Rhode Island. U.S. poultry farmers should remain on guard and be ready to quickly depopulate and vaccinate if the Asian strain of the virus shows up in the U.S."
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner echoed that sentiment, telling the Senate committee that, "diseases and pathogens do not acknowledge state or national borders. The threat to agriculture is very real."
Connor said the department has established formal ties with other governmental agencies like the Department of Homeland Security and the Food and Drug Administration to evaluate the terrorism threat to U.S. agriculture. He said his department is guided by a series of Homeland Security Presidential Directives (HSPD) aimed at strengthening the country's preparedness for terrorist acts.
One such directive seeks a national agriculture terrorism policy that includes addressing:
Awareness and warning
Vulnerability assessments
Mitigation strategies
Response planning and recovery
Research and development
Coordinated budgets
On Aug. 18, 2005, Aon, in cooperation with the US Department of Homeland Security and the University of California's Western Institute for Food Safety & Security, is sponsoring the 2005 AgroTerrorism Assembly on August 18, 2005 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Sacramento, Calif. The Assembly is designed to inform community leaders (government and business), food industry leaders, emergency responders (local, state and federal) -- of the risks and vulnerabilities of agroterrorism and other food-related disasters.
Aon's Agribusiness and Food System Group, based in Kansas City, works with businesses involved in the production, processing and distribution of food. About one-third of Aon Agribusiness and Food System Group's business in the sector is agriculture, and two-thirds is food-related. The group's expertise includes business continuity planning, catastrophe modeling, crisis communications, environmental risk consulting and industrial hygiene, aggression management, counterterrorism and security consulting, crisis and reputation management, and engineering and risk control. In the U.S., Agribusiness and Food Systems Group has teamed up with Aon's Crisis Management group to help clients respond to the new risks facing the food industry. more information

Raw milk concerns push demand for detection

Source of Article:
04/08/2005 - The European Union is reportedly considering lowering the legal levels of alkaline phosphates (ALP) in the dairy pasteurisation process, presenting an opportunity for lab tech firms such as Advanced Instruments.The equipment supplier claims that its Fluorophos ALP Assay can detect minute traces of raw milk - 0.003 per cent - in just three minutes. This, says the company, compares favourably to the 0.1 per cent success rate achieved by using a traditional colorimetric tube. The company is also looking at the US market with interest. As of March this year, dairy lab managers using the Scharer method of visual ALP colorimetric testing no longer comply with US Food and Drug Administration pasteurisation testing requirements. New ALP detection criteria of 350 mU (3 micrograms) per liter (0.075 per cent raw milk equivalent) came into effect. Fluorophos Testing Delivers Speed, Sensitivity, and Early Warning Foremost Farms, formerly Wisconsin Dairies adopted the Fluorophos ALP testing system because of its speed, sensitivity, and because it didn¡¯t require any hazardous chemicals that could endanger lab technicians.
more information

'5-second rule' persists
Dropped food does pick up germs; eating it anyway depends on where it falls

By Maeleeke J. Lavan
Gannett News Service
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
source of Article:

Carly Dimarco-Fayko dropped two cookies on the ground as she walked into school.She stepped on one, but the 9-year-old picked up the other, dusted it off and ate it.One cookie saved, thanks to the five-second rule, that old wives' tale stating that any food dropped on the ground is OK to eat, as long as it's within five seconds.But is it possible to prevent your food from picking up germs if you pick it up off the floor fast enough? Dr. Carolyn Cleary says no.

"Once it's on the floor, the damage has been done," the pediatrician says.

A 2003 study of the five-second rule conducted by the University of Illinois bears that out. Researchers placed gummy bears and fudge-striped cookies for five seconds on smooth and rough ceramic floor tiles contaminated with E. coli bacteria. All of the food tested showed that E. coli was transferred from the tile to the food.The amount and type of germs your food might pick up depends on where the accident happens. E. coli, pesticides, dust, dirt, oil and other chemicals are all potential health hazards.Most of the time you're going to be OK with eating a little of this and a little of that along with your food, Cleary says, but there's always the chance something could make you sick."From a medical perspective, the biggest thing I'd look at is ... where it falls," says Dr. Mala Gupta, a specialist in internal medicine and infectious disease in Rochester, N.Y. "If it falls in the dirt, then that's a different story than if it falls on a fairly clean surface."A stomach is full of acid and can kill off a lot of bacteria, she adds.Gupta says germs aren't always extremely harmful."There is some data that shows that asthma is much more common now (in young children) because there's too much cleanliness," Gupta says. "Sometimes when they're young, if you get too particular, their immune system doesn't get exposed and they may be more at risk later on in life to contract allergies and asthma."

Plasmas Destroy Mad Cow Disease Particles
The Herald
08/03/05 6:00 PM PT
Source of Article:
The technique involves using forms of gas called plasmas to strip the contaminating material from stainless steel surfaces. Radio waves excite the molecules of harmless gases, which then scour the surface of the instruments, breaking down traces of biological tissue and converting them to non-toxic gases.Scientists at Edinburgh University have developed a new hospital cleaning method that could stop the spread of the human form of mad cow disease.Prions, infectious particles that cause the condition, linked to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), are immune to most sterilization processes.

Sticky Stuff
They vary so much from other viral and bacterial infections that they linger on surgical instruments despite sterilization.The researchers have produced a technique involving gas that can remove the prions -- proteins which are resistant to high temperatures and which adhere to metal surfaces.Professor Robert Baxter, from the university's school of chemistry, said: "Our integrated strategy aims to provide a new approach to decontamination of surgical instruments and to ensure that decontamination is effective."
The new cleaning technique tackles the particles of each of the various strains of the fatal brain disease, including variant CJD, which is linked to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle.

Fatal Disease
As is the case with all forms of the condition, there is no cure. It has so far caused more than 150 deaths in the UK.While between 50 and 65 people die each year from classic CJD, known as sporadic, which is caused by a chance mutation of the brain, it is not known how many people are currently incubating the disease.

The team said current decontamination procedures drawn up by the Department of Health are unlikely to remove all traces of infection from surgical instruments.

CJD has also previously been transmitted by contaminated neurosurgical instruments, tissue grafts and contaminated human pituitary hormones.

Significant Research
The development of new methods for destroying prions is therefore of "vital importance."

The technique, reported in the latest edition of the Journal of General Virology, involves using forms of gas called plasmas to strip the contaminating material from stainless steel surfaces. Radio waves excite the molecules of harmless gases, which then scour the surface of the instruments, breaking down traces of biological tissue and converting them to non-toxic gases.

Spain health ministry says 1,700 people affected by salmonella outbreak
Canadian Press
Friday, August 05, 2005
Source of Article:

MADRID, Spain (AP) - The number of people taken ill in a salmonella outbreak after eating contaminated chicken has reached 1,700 in Spain, the health ministry said Friday. The number of confirmed cases has risen steadily in recent days, and authorities have said a 90-year-old man died as a result of the infection. On Thursday, the number of people infected stood at 1,208. However, the tainted meat has been withdrawn from sale, and the Health Ministry said Friday that the rate of new infections has slowed. Only 41 people remain in hospitals. The Sada company, which packed the two brands of roast chickens involved in the outbreak, has said the contamination originated in a pipe at its plant that poured sauce onto the meat before packing.

New BAX¢ç system assay helps reduce public health risk associated with Campylobacter

Aug. 1, 2005
DuPont Qualicon ? Press Release
WILMINGTON, Del.,? DuPont Qualicon has released a new BAX¢ç system assay for poultry rinses that detects both Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli, the strains most frequently implicated in human illness.
Traditional methods for detecting Campylobacter in meat and poultry are labor intensive, requiring about five days to determine results. By contrast, the automated BAX¢ç system can detect as few as 10 cells of Campylobacter in a 30 ml sample after just 24 hours enrichment.
¡°BAX¢ç systems are already at work in labs around the globe, providing the best science-based tool for detecting microbial threats to the food supply,¡± said Kevin Huttman, president of DuPont Qualicon. ¡°As the international community strives to reduce Campylobacter all along the food chain, the BAX¢ç system will be an integral part of the solution.¡±
Campylobacter are commonly found in the intestinal tracts of animals and some humans without causing symptoms of disease. Infection occurs when people eat undercooked meat or poultry, raw milk or untreated water containing the live bacteria. Consuming as few as 500 Campylobacter cells can cause illness.
A leading cause of gastroenteritis in many countries, Campylobacter are the most frequently isolated bacteria from persons with diarrhea. An estimated 2.4 million cases of foodborne infection from these bacteria occur annually in the United States. Although fatalities are rare, serious complications of Campylobacteriosis can include reactive arthritis and Guillan-Barre syndrome, an unusual type of paralysis.
Food processing companies around the world rely on the BAX¢ç system to detect pathogens or other organisms in raw ingredients, finished products and environmental samples. The automated system uses leading-edge technology, including polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays, tableted reagents and optimized media, to detect Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Listeria species, E. coli O157:H7 and Enterobacter sakazakii. With certifications and regulatory approvals in the Americas, Asia and Europe, the BAX¢ç system is recognized globally as the most advanced pathogen testing system available to food companies.
DuPont Qualicon also markets the patented RiboPrinter¢ç system, the world¡¯s only automated DNA fingerprinting instrument to track and trend bacterial contamination in pharmaceuticals, personal care products and food. For more information and product photos, visit

Botulinum toxin: friend or foe
Summer 2005
Safefood News
Volume 9 Number 4
Botulinum Toxin is most commonly associated with Botulism, a paralytic illness caused by neurotoxins of the anaerobic, spore-forming bacterium, Clostridium botulinum, an organism found in soil throughout the world. The canning and fermentation of foods are particularly conducive to creating anaerobic conditions that allow C. botulinum spores to germinate. Botulism was first described in the 18th century among those who consumed sausages. Commercially canned foods caused outbreaks in the 19th and 20th centuries before standard methods for inactivating C. botulinum spores in cans were perfected. While outbreaks related to commercially canned foods are now quite rare, improperly prepared home canned and fermented foods, as well as foods served in restaurants, account for a large proportion of U.S. botulism cases. Traditional Alaskan Native foods, especially fermented foods eaten without cooking, pose a risk and account for the high incidence of botulism in Alaska.
Of the seven antigenic toxin types (A-G) identified, types A, B, E and occasionally F are associated with human disease. Studies in the U.S. have shown that spores producing toxin type A predominate west of the Rockies, while type B spores are more predominant in the East. Type E spores are usually associated with the marine environment. Illness caused by toxin type A tends to be more severe and associated with a higher fatality rate.
Botulinum toxin causes paralysis by binding (irreversibly) to receptors on nerve endings, entering the nerve, and interfering with the release of acetylcholine, causing flaccid paralysis. Symptoms begin with a dry mouth, sensation of a "thick tongue" and blurred vision, followed by descending weakness and paralysis, including the muscles of respiration. Recovery can take weeks to months, and may require ventilator support. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the only source of therapeutic antitoxin, which is stocked in locations around the country for rapid release.
more information

How easy is it to obtain restaurant inspection information?
August 2, 2005
Des Moines - Inspectors know how safe the food at your favorite restaurant is, but how do you know?
The state of Iowa is working on a plan to make it easier for you to know how clean and safe restaurants across the state are. As the metro grows, so do your dining choices. How do you know which ones are safe before you head out for dinner?
The State department of Inspections and Appeals inspects them once or twice a year. You can request copies of the inspection reports. But you may have to wait a while. The DIA says it has ten days to get you a copy. That means there's no way for you to get instant restaurant information. It's something some restaurants say you ought to have.

Do grilled foods pose a cancer risk

Summer 2005
Safefood News
Volume 9 Number 4
As the weather heats up, many of us look forward to the great American summer pastime of backyard grilling. Yet, recent research indicates that grilling muscle meats, such as red meat, poultry and fish, may pose certain health risks.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), cooking these foods at high temperatures, especially over an open flame, produces substances called heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, which have been shown to cause tumors in animals. BarbequeWhile the risk to humans is less clear, there is concern that high levels of HCAs may increase the risk of breast, colon, stomach and prostate cancers. In addition to HCAs, another class of cancer-promoting substances, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, are formed when fat from meat, poultry or fish drips onto hot coals or stones, causing flare-ups. PAHs are deposited onto the food when smoke and flames are allowed to reach the food.
Does this mean you should do away with Saturday backyard barbecues with family and friends? Not if you take a little care to keep high heat flare-ups under control. Here are some tips on how to minimize the formation of HCAs and PAHs and still produce delicious, flavorful dishes.
Clean the grill thoroughly before cooking to remove any charred food debris left over from previous uses.
If using starter fluid on charcoal, allow the excess to burn off before putting the food on the grill. Never reapply starter fluid while cooking.
Choose lean cuts of meat to grill rather than higher-fat varieties such as ribs or sausages. Also, trim any visible fat and remove skin from poultry.
Marinate meat using an oil-free marinade. Marinating meats for as little as 10 minutes may significantly reduce the formation of HCAs.
Consider pre-cooking meat, poultry, and fish in the microwave or oven until almost done and then finishing on the grill to impart a grilled flavor.
Grill vegetables, fruits or veggie burgers. Unlike meat, these foods do not form cancer-causing substances when prepared on the grill.
Grill at a lower temperature away from direct flame and raise the cooking rack to the highest position. Use a meat thermometer to monitor doneness.
Use tongs or a spatula to turn food. Piercing the meat with a fork allows juices and fat to drip down onto the coals and cause flare-ups.
Place meat on aluminum foil rather than directly over the coals to avoid letting juices and fat drip into the fire and to prevent charring.
Flip frequently. Researchers have found that grilling hamburger patties at a lower temperature and turning them often accelerates the cooking process, reduces HCA formation and still kills bacteria effectively. This method also enhances even cooking throughout the product.
Have a spray bottle filled with water to keep coals and flames under control.
Scrape off all charred or burnt portions of food before eating.
AICR brochureA free AICR brochure, "The Facts About Grilling" which includes guidelines for overall cancer prevention and tips for food safety,is available online at the AICR website at
1. Cancer Experts Reissue Warning About Grilling. American Institute for Cancer Research Press Release. May 23, 2005.

Over 100 Iraq soldiers hospitalized with apparent food poisoning
Source of Article:
August 3, 2005
TIKRIT, Iraq Police in Iraq say it appears to be a massive case of food poisoning.
Over a hundred Iraqi soldiers have been hospitalized after getting sick at their base in northern Iraq. Hospital officials say the troops are suffering from fever, vomiting and stomach pain.The base is in Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein.A police official says they are investigating the source of the food poisoning.

Bioinformatics may isolate food allergy proteins

Source of Article:

05/08/2005 - A team of UK scientists will analyse and demonstrate how bioinformatics could help food companies improve their products, from pin-pointing allergy-causing proteins to identifying the cause of batch spoilage, reports Chris Mercer.

The scientists, based at Britain¡¯s Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Centre (CCFRA), defined bioinformatics as ¡°the collection, classification, storage and analysis of biochemical and biological information using computers¡±.
Their year-long project now aims to show how this technology could be harnessed to help food and drink makers after originally being developed to help scientists in their attempts to map the human genome sequence.

John Dooley, a scientist on the project, believes bioinformatics are likely to help firms predict the allergenicity and functionality of products by examining their ingredients¡¯ protein structures.

A database of proteins could be built up to aid analysis. For example: ¡°If I know the protein that causes allergens from nuts, can I use that to look for similar looking proteins from other nuts?¡± said Dooley.

He said that by identifying the right proteins it may even be possible to replace or remove certain ones to reduce the likelihood of a product causing an allergic reaction in the consumer.

For example, scientists may be able to remove or replace the allergenic proteins in gluten, the source of coeliac disease, so that they can breed new strains of bread-making wheat.

Such techniques offer obvious opportunities for product development, but could also help producers meet upcoming EU regulations on allergens in food. From 25 November this year, the Commission will require firms to declare on labels whether the product inside contains potential food allergens. more information

Job information

Dir. of Tech. and Process Valid. - CO-Boulder/Ft. Collins ? Swift & Co.

Food Safety & QA Mgr - CO-Boulder/Fort Collins ? Swift & Co.

Manager Sanitation* - Garner, NC - ConAgra Foods, Inc.

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

07/25. Director of Corporate Quality Assurance - FL-Lakeland

07/25. QA Tech - Food/Beverage - San Francisco, CA

07/25. IL-Barrington-Pilot Plant Food Scientist

07/25. Quality Assurance Manager - Dallas, TX

07/25. Quality Control Lab Technician - GA-Atlanta

07/25. Quality Assurance Manager - Oakland, CA

07/22. Quality Assurance Coordinator - Reno, NV

07/22. Regulatory Affairs Scientist - Hackettstown, NJ

07/21. Director of Quality - Western Chicago Suburbs, IL

07/21. Quality Assurance Technician - KING OF PRUSSIA, PA

07/21. CA-Thousand Oaks-QC Technician

07/21. KS-Atchison-Corporate Microbiologist

07/21. CA-San Francisco-FOOD SAFETY COACH

07/21. CA-Sacramento-FOOD SAFETY COACH

07/21. FOOD SAFETY MANAGER - KY-Northern

07/21. US-WI-Madison-Food Micro biologist

07/21. Food Manufacturing Quality Manager - Northwest Ohio