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3,100 Reported Ill From N.Y. Water Park
Fri Aug 26
Source of Article:
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - More than 3,100 people in 32 counties have reported being sickened with a gastrointestinal illness related to a state-run water playground, health officials said Thursday.
The Sprayground at Seneca Lake State Park closed Aug. 15, and officials continue to investigate how cryptosporidium ended up in two storage tanks that supply water for the park near Geneva.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the last time a similar outbreak affected more people ? nearly 5,500 ? was in 1995 in Georgia. Contaminated drinking water in the Milwaukee area sickened more than 400,000 people in 1993.
"We recognize this is a significant outbreak and our priority is to continue working with counties to increase public awareness about the precautions everyone should take to stop further spread of illness," said state Health Department spokesman Jeffrey Hammond.
Dr. Andrew Doniger, Monroe County's health director, said more reported illnesses are coming from those who had contact with sick children. He said caregivers must wash their hands thoroughly and disinfect children's toys.
Cryptosporidiosis is very contagious and can cause symptoms including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and fever. The disease usually goes away without treatment in healthy individuals. Food service workers experiencing symptoms should stay home, as should children in day care.
Geneva is 38 miles southeast of Rochester

Honey, I poisoned the kids
Official advice not to feed 'molten gold' to infants is ludicrous, writes Bee Wilson
Thursday August 25, 2005
The Guardian
Source of Article:
'Unsuitable for infants under 12 months." Almost every jar of honey sold in the UK now comes with this stark warning, with no explanation as to why. Likewise, the Food Standards Agency strongly advises against giving honey in any form to under-ones.
Honey has become a scary food for modern parents. I know of one father who suffered a panic attack after mistakenly giving his 11-month-old daughter a fruit smoothie containing a tiny dab of honey. Yet the risks are not as obvious as the labels suggest. And the history behind the warning is both ambiguous and full of irony.

It was only in 1978 that honey became a forbidden food for infants. Two years earlier, a very rare syndrome called infant botulism had been diagnosed for the first time, after some sick babies in California were found to have traces of botulism spores in their stools. Then, in 1978, an epidemiological study was done by the California Department of Health Services, which tested more than 550 samples of food, drugs and miscellaneous environmental substances for botulism. They found botulism organisms in five samples of soil, one of dust from a vacuum cleaner and nine of honey. Immediately, honey became an official danger for infants, because it was the only variable in infant botulism that could be controlled. You can't put a label on soil saying "do not eat"; but with honey, you can. more information

Key findings may lead to Salmonella elimination
By Lautaro Vargas, 27 August 2005
Source of Article:
Norwich researchers have made two key findings about the behaviour of Salmonella, the Western world¡¯s deadliest food borne pathogen, which could lead to the development of a vaccination to eliminate the killer bacteria from the human food chain.Norwich researchers have made two key findings about the behaviour of Salmonella, the Western world¡¯s deadliest food borne pathogen, which could lead to the development of a vaccination to eliminate the killer bacteria from the human food chain.The findings were the results of two unique studies: One looking at the Salmonella bacteria¡¯s ability to act fast, both on an evolutionary timescale and during the early minutes of infection; the other investigating its response to changes in body temperature.

Both studies involved the Institute of Food Research (IFR), which is now in the process of protecting the intellectual property behind the breakthrough discoveries. The research is expected to lead to the identification of new drug targets with potential applications against other bacterial pathogens.Last year there were 100,000 reported cases of Salmonella in the UK alone. It costs the UK economy an estimated ¡Ì1bn each year and currently kills about 1 million people worldwide on an annual basis.Professor Jay Hinton from the IFR worked on both studies. He said: ¡°Most infections come from infected chickens and pigs. The best way to stop it is to stop the contamination of the chickens and pigs through vaccination. ¡°We found that Salmonella genes are switched on by the temperature of the body. It does not want to expend energy needlessly when waiting to be eaten on a lettuce leaf. Some of these genes will make good targets for vaccines and we need to pick them.¡±Professor Hinton and the team, which included the University of East Anglia and University College London, investigated the response of Salmonella to body temperature for the first time. The team discovered the thermal switch, a protein called H-NS, and found that it allows 532 genes to be activated within minutes.These genes code for functions essential for infection such as the ability to swim and to infect gut cells. The team believes that as the temperature rises, the protein structure that compacts Salmonella DNA changes shape, allowing gene expression to start.Once the identification of appropriate targets, which is still in the ¡°very early stages¡± is made, the IFR will look for a joint venture partner. Prof Hinton said: ¡°The vaccines could also potentially be used for other bacterial pathogens such as chlamydia, legionella and gonococcus, the causal agent of gonorrhea.¡±Prof Hinton also worked with a team of scientists that used DNA microarrays to analyse the results of ¡°experimental evolution.¡±This study ? published this month by IFR and Sweden¡¯s Uppsala University ? found that Salmonella can evolve at a surprisingly rapid rate by jettisoning superfluous DNA. The team tracked Salmonella in real time over 6,750 generations to make the first estimation of the rate of gene loss for any bacterium. Project leader Prof Dan Andersson said: ¡°Nearly one quarter of the bacteria¡¯s genes could be lost in only 50,000 years. This was a surprise to us as it had been thought this process would take many millions of years.¡±

Salmonella is believed to have evolved from E. coli bacteria over one million years ago when it lived freely in the environment. It developed the ability to parasitise animals by losing many genes and gaining new ones from other bacteria.

Prof Hinton said: ¡°For bacteria to do well, they have to react very fast, and we have shown Salmonella to be remarkably dynamic. These findings help to explain the success of this pathogen in infecting so many different species of animals and reptiles, as well as man.¡±

This month more than 1,700 cases of Salmonella food poisoning from chicken were reported in Spain and earlier outbreaks in Europe have been linked to lettuce and eggs.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, strains of S. typhimurium resistant to a range of antibiotics have emerged and are threatening to become a serious public health problem.

E. coli contamination feared
August 24, 2005
The Windsor Star
Windsor Star
Deb Bennett, director of health protection at the Windsor-Essex County, Ontario, Health Unit, was cited as saying Tuesday that nearly 50 employees of an Oldcastle plastics plant are showing symptoms that may be linked to E. coli contamination of the company's drinking water.
Bennett was further cited as saying that while nine employees of A-P Plasman Inc. have been diagnosed with shigellosis, a gastrointestinal infection, 40 others are sick and are being tested.
The health unit went to the plant after it received a complaint of a foul odour and discolouration of the drinking water, Bennett said. After an Aug. 11 inspection, the plant discovered a valve malfunction which caused sewer water to contaminate drinking water.

Parasite Outbreak Puts Swimmers At Risk
Wed Aug 24,10:40 AM ET
Source of Article:
A dangerous parasite prompted the closing of hundreds of Hamilton County swimming pools Tuesday, and at least nine people are already sick, News 5 reports. Eight children are ill and an adult has been hospitalized after an outbreak of cryptosporidium at Powel Crosley Y.M.C.A. in Springfield Township, health officials said. "Crypto" will give you cramps and severe diarrhea that can last up to two weeks ?- or even worse.
A severe outbreak in Milwaukee in 1993 killed 100 people when "crypto" spread into the water supply. About 400,000 people were infected. The local water supply has been tested and given the all-clear, but Hamilton County health officials are worried that swimmers could spread the outbreak to other pools, News 5 reports. The bug is spread by ingesting fecal matter. The Hamilton County Health Department mailed letters to 320 pool operators, asking them to put up a "No Swimming" sign for eight hours and super-chlorinate the water. "You can't kill it with normal does of chlorine and that's what we do when we ask people to super-shock their pools," said Kathy Lordo of the Hamilton County Health Department. At Powel Crosley, they used 10 times the normal amount of chlorine, just to be sure, and they cleaned the slides and railings, trying to reassure members. The symptoms can be tricky, and victims and doctors may not suspect "crypto." "You can have diarrhea for a day or two and it kind of goes off for a little bit and it may flare up again," Lordo said. The health department is trying to track the outbreak. If you were in the Powel Crosley. pool after Aug. 1 and you've had diarrhea, call health officials at (513) 347-3273 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. This number is not for general questions.

The best ways to avoid "crypto:"
Wash your hands often.
Avoid swimming.
Anyone who is infected can be contagious for up to two weeks. They are advised not to swim and not to work in daycare or restaurant facilities during that time.

Job Openings
Manager Sanitation - Garner, NC - ConAgra Foods, Inc.

Dir of Micro Tech and Proc Valid - CO-Boulder/Ft Collins Swift & Co.

Manager Food Safety - Omaha, NE- ConAgra Foods, Inc.

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

Food to die for ? Which restaurants could make you sick?
August 29, 2005
From a press release
Savvy travelers and diners finally have a concise online resource to help them decide which restaurants to try and which to avoid in their travels or in their hometowns, based on six clear criteria, including cleanliness.
Visitors to will find simple, no-frills ratings on over 40,000 restaurants all around the world submitted by an ever-growing undercover army of savvy diners who call themselves "Restaurant Police."
"We believe we¡¯re the only global restaurant guide that rates cleanliness as a separate criterion," according to the senior editor of the site, "and frankly, we were surprised that no other dining guide focused any attention on that, since it¡¯s probably the single most important factor for health-conscious travelers."
In addition to cleanliness, the criteria used on the site include food, service, atmosphere, hospitality (customer-friendliness) and value (bang for the buck), each of which is graded with an A, B, C, D or F. These six grades give visitors a concise and yet comprehensive snapshot of what they can expect at each rated restaurant.
The restaurants and their ratings are organized geographically and presented in a large "no-squint" font for quick navigation and easy legibility.
Travelers who use the site once will find it invaluable for trip-planning. Restaurant owners are welcome to use the ratings as a source of ongoing customer feedback and tourist-related businesses may advertise on the site, as well.
Read more news from


Envisio¢â System More Sensitive for Detecting E Coli O157:H7 in Raw Beef
Centrus International Inc. have results of a study evaluating the performance of the Envisio¢â magnetic detection system in comparison to the USDA-FSIS reference method for detecting E. coli O157:H7 in raw beef.

In a poster presentation at the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) Annual Meeting, 2005, Dr. Mark Barbour, Research Associate, Centrus International outlined the study, "The Envisio System: Magnetic Detection Technology for E. coli O157:H7."

"Envisio magnetic detection technology exhibited equal or greater sensitivity and specificity than the USDA reference method with a decreased time to result," says Barbour. "This improved level of performance allows meat processors to optimize production capabilities, while ensuring consumer safety and product quality."
The USDA-FSIS reference method includes 20-hour enrichment in a broth medium, an immunoassay screening test, and confirmation of positive results by immunomagnetic separation and selective plating. Test results showed that the Envisio system detected more positives than the conventional reference method. Both systems correctly reported all uninoculated samples as negative.

The Envisio test system uses a 7.25 hour enrichment, a simple lateral flow immunoassay step then automated analysis using magnetic detection technology for the determination of presence of the target pathogen. The inherent sensitivity of the magnetic detection system lowers the detection threshold for the assay resulting in shorter enrichment times and decreased time to result . Data is automatically interpreted and printed, eliminating subjectivity of visual analysis and reducing potential for recording errors.

The presentation detailed the speed, sensitivity and ease-of-use of the Envisio magnetic detection system for the detection of E. coli O157:H7 in raw beef samples, compared with a reference method used by the USDA-FSIS.

Barbour highlighted benefits to meat processors that the Envisio system provides, including:
¡¤ Rapid results, increasing productivity
¡¤ Increased sensitivity, ensuring accurate results
¡¤ Ease-of-use, reducing human error and the cost of employee training

"The beauty of the Envisio system is in its simplicity," added Barbour. "The combination of simple instrument operation and automated analysis calculations, all but eliminates the possibility of user error."

BBL¢â CHROMagar¢â Listeria Receives AOAC¢â Certification for the Direct Identification of L. monocytogenes and L. ivanovii

Sparks, MD (August 10, 2005) BD Diagnostic Systems, a segment of BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) announced that BBLTM CHROMagarTM Listeria has been validated by the AOACTM-Research Institute (RI) under the Performance Tested Methods ProgramSM for the analysis of raw ground beef, smoked salmon, lettuce and Brie cheese when using FDA BAM, USDA FSIS, AOAC and ISO methods. When used in conjunction with these methods, AOAC RI has validated that BBL CHROMagar Listeria provides an identification of L. monocytogenes/ivanovii with no confirmatory biochemical tests required.

An advantage BBL CHROMagar Listeria has over recommended traditional media, such as Modified Oxford and Oxford, is the ability to distinguish L. monocytogenes and L. ivanovii from other Listeria species. The high level of sensitivity and specificity of BBL CHROMagar Listeria reduces the amount of technologist time invested in identifying false positives from traditional media, reduces biochemical costs and improves turnaround time.

BBL CHROMagar Listeria utilizes a chromogenic substrate that produces a blue-green colony with halo when hydrolyzed by a specific enzyme. ¡°Our evaluation of the new BBL CHROMagar Listeria showed a superior performance of the agar in its ability to differentiate Listeria monocytogenes and Listeria ivanovii from other Listeria species and background flora present in various food matrices and environmental samples, compared to non-chromogenic media commonly used for Listeria isolation¡±, said Joseph Odumeru, Ph.D, Adjunct Professor, Department of Food Science at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

The efficient identification of Listeria monocytogenes is important in environmental samples. ¡°Our experience with BBL CHROMagar Listeria, as applied to environmental samples, has been very positive. When comparing CHROMagar to Modified Oxford after prior enrichment, there was excellent agreement between the two media,¡± said Lee-Ann Jaykus, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Food Science and Food Microbiology at NC State University. ¡°Furthermore, interpretation based on colony morphology was easier with BBL CHROMagar Listeria. This saved time, media and labor. After presumptively positive Listeria and L. monocytogenes strains isolated from CHROMagar were further characterized, the species identities agreed with the initial CHROMagar interpretations. In short, our experience shows that BBL CHROMagar Listeria was an excellent pre-screen that greatly facilitated isolation and detection of Listeria as applied to environmental samples.¡±

BBL¢â CHROMagar¢â Listeria is the latest formulation in the BBLTM CHROMagar¢â media line to receive AOAC-RI certification. BBL CHROMagar Salmonella has been certified by AOAC-RI. Customers interested in more information on BBL¢â CHROMagar¢â Listeria, should call 1-800-638-8663, or contact their BD Diagnostic Systems representative.

Don Whitley Scientific Supplies Rapid Test for Campylobacter
Available from exclusive UK distributors Don Whitley Scientific, Warnex has launched a new test for Campylobacter in poultry rinses for use with its Genevision¢â Rapid Pathogen Detection System. Together accounting for 99% of reported cases, Campylobacter jejuni, C. coli and C. lari species can be detected within 48 hours using real-time PCR technology, as opposed the five to seven days required by traditional testing methods.

Campylobacter is the most commonly identified cause of foodborne disease in the UK, and is found mainly in poultry, red meat, unpasteurised milk and untreated water. Although unable to grow in food, it spreads easily requiring only a few bacteria to cause illness. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is working with the food industry to halve the number of UK-produced chickens that test positive for campylobacter by 2010. A consultation document has recently been published in order to establish criteria for monitoring progress towards this target.

"As Campylobacter continues to emerge as a serious pathogen threatening the safety of food, particularly poultry, and water, more companies are beginning to screen for it as part of their regular quality assurance practices," said Mark Busgang, President and CEO of Warnex. "Adding new tests to our portfolio is an important aspect of our growth strategy as it allows us to both leverage our existing installed base to drive additional reagent revenue as well as attract new customers with a more comprehensive food safety solution."

South San Francisco salmonella outbreak unsolved
August 25, 2005
Bay City News
SAN MATEO -- Health officials in San Mateo County were cited as saying that while the cause of a salmonella outbreak in the county last month remains under investigation, almonds have been ruled out as the source.
The outbreak, which was traced back to La Tapatia restaurant in South San Francisco, affected 22 people including one restaurant employee, according to San Mateo County Health Services spokeswoman Beverly Thames.
In a communicable disease report issued to the Board of Supervisors, county health officials initially leaned toward almonds as the cause, saying specimens from the restaurant patrons matched a strain of salmonella found in raw almonds.
However, Thames said Wednesday evening that it appears the salmonella originated elsewhere.
Testing to determine the source of the bacteria is ongoing, she said.
Thames was cited as saying that an environmental health specialist and public health nurse visited the restaurant and recommended ways it can prevent future transmission of harmful bacteria, adding, "The public doesn¡¯t need to be concerned."

Health officials say Colorado illness traced to recalled beef
Source of Article:
DENVER ? State health officials said Friday one human case of E. coli has been traced to ground beef that was recalled by the Flanders Provision Co. The victim was an adult from Delta who was hospitalized and released, said Cindy Parmenter, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Health and Environment. Parmenter said no other details were available and no other illnesses were traced to the recalled meat. El Paso County health officials said two other cases of E. coli were confirmed in children there, but the officials don't believe they were related to the recalled beef. Those case were under investigation. E. coli is a bacteria that can cause diarrhea, dehydration and other, deadly illnesses. Flanders Provision Co. recalled about 900,000 pounds of frozen ground beef patties because the patties may be contaminated with the bacteria. It was sold in 2-, 3- and 5-pound packages under the brand names Flanders Bun Buster, Flanders Beef Patties, America's Pride Beef Patties, Grill Master Beef Patties and Value Time Beef Patties. It was also sold in 10-pound packages under the brand names of Flanders Beef Patties, Flanders Homestyle Cubed Beef Patties and Flanders Patty Mix.
The meat was processed between Feb. 21, 2005, and March 10, 2005, and distributed to retail stores nationwide.___
On the Web:
U.S. Department of Agriculture:

More thorough recall process may have prevented Salmonella outbreak
August 24, 2005
Marler Clark
SAN FRANCISCO - Food Safety attorney William Marler today reissued calls for more stringent recall procedures for contaminated food in the aftermath of a Salmonella outbreak at a restaurant in San Francisco. According to health officials, 22 ill persons have tested positive for a strain of Salmonella matching the strain associated with raw almonds.
In May, 2004, officials at the FDA, in conjunction with state health officials from Oregon, Washington, and California, reported a link between a number of Salmonella illnesses and raw almonds processed and sold by Paramount Farms, Inc. of California. As a result, Paramount Farms recalled approximately 13 million pounds of raw almonds. Eventually at least 46 illnesses, including a death, were tied to that outbreak. Documents acquired in litigation against Paramount Farms demonstrate that of the roughly 13 million pounds of almonds recalled, only 1,183,279 pounds were recovered by the firm. While a significant amount of the recalled almonds were likely consumed before the recall, it remains likely that the most recent outbreak can be traced back to the prior problem.
¡°Given the amount of potentially contaminated product involved, tougher follow-up procedures were needed in this case,¡± said Marler, who has represented thousands of food-poisoning victims in the past. ¡°If even ten percent of the product was allowed to remain on the shelves, that leaves the potential for hundreds, if not thousands, of illnesses. And in reality, they recovered only ten percent of the product. The other ninety percent has either been consumed or is still out there.¡±
Marler¡¯s firm, Marler Clark, has filed lawsuits on behalf of eleven people who became ill with Salmonella infections after consuming contaminated Paramount Farms almonds. For more information on Salmonella litigation in this case, visit

Unpasteurized juice poses serious health risk, says FDA
By Chris Mercer
Source of Article:
8/29/2005 - Untreated juices are still causing serious outbreaks of foodborne illness across America, according to the US Food and Drug Administration, warning consumers to be extra careful.

The FDA said that while most peoples' immune systems can usually fight off the effects of foodborne illness, children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems risk serious illnesses or even death from drinking untreated juices.
That is because when fruit and vegetables are juiced, bacteria from the produce can become a part of the finished product.

Unpasteurized, or otherwise untreated juices, sold in grocery stores are required to carry warning labels for consumers, stating: ¡°This product has not been pasteurized and therefore may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness in children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems.¡±

However, with consumers choosing to drink ever more juice as a healthier alternative to fizzy sodas, the FDA is concerned that more people may be putting themselves at risk.

¡°The FDA does not require warning labels for juices that are fresh-squeezed and sold by the glass, such as at farmers markets, at roadside stands, or in some juice bars,¡± it says.

Food and drinks producers and distributors face inevitable fines if any outbreak of food poisoning can be traced back to their products.

The FDA last October published the final 2004 Produce Safety Action Plan aimed at minimizing the number of foodborne illnesses that are contracted each year through the consumption of fresh produce.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in the US each year, 76 million people become sick, more than 325,000 people are hospitalized, and 5,000 people die from foodborne illness.

It also says that at least 12 percent of foodborne-outbreak-associated illnesses in the 1990s were linked to fresh produce.

Outbreaks elsewhere in the world back up this theory. In 1999, unpasteurized orange juice was responsible for a food poisoning outbreak in South Australia affecting more than 500 people.

Consuming dangerous foodborne bacteria will usually cause illness in one to three days after eating the contaminated food, though can cause sickness anywhere between 20 minutes or up to six weeks later.