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Scientists measure moulds in cornflake brands
Source of Article:
02/09/2005 - Concentrations of harmful moulds called fumonisins were higher in organic samples of cornflakes, finds an investigative study on over 200 samples of this popular breakfast cereal.
Researchers from Ghent University, the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium and the Agricultural and Biotechnology Centre in Hungary screened 205 cornflake samples, conventionally produced and organic, purchased from retail outlets in Belgium, for the natural occurrence of fumonisin B1 (FB1), B2 (FB2), and B3 (FB3).
Fusarium toxins are produced by several species of the genus Fusarium which infect the grain of developing cereals such as wheat and maize. They include a range of mycotoxins including the fumonisins, which affect the nervous systems of horses and cause cancer in rodents.
In addition to infecting the grains, fumonisins are associated with foods derived from maize such as polenta, corn snacks and cornflakes.
The UN's 56th Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives has set a provisional maximum tolerable daily intake (PMTDI) for nephrotoxicity at 2 microgram per kg of fumonisins B1, B2, and B3, alone or in combination, per kg of bodyweight per day.
Cooking in alkaline water can reduce fumonisin levels in food products and baking, frying and extrusion processes at temperatures around 190 o C can also diminish their presence.
The scientists in the study practiced rapid screening using a flow-through enzyme immunoassay method to demonstrate the practicability of a screening test, coupled to a validated confirmatory LC-MS/MS method for the management of food safety risks.
FB1 concentrations ranged from not detected to 464 microgram/kg with mean and median concentrations of respectively 104 ¡¾ 113 and 54 microgram/kg.
For FB2 and FB3, the concentration ranges varied respectively from not detected to 43 microgram/kg and from not detected to 90 microgram/kg.
Concentrations of fumonisins were higher in the organic samples, significantly so in the case of FB1.
But the scientists concluded from the statistical tests that the agricultural practice did not have any significant effect on the fumonisin concentrations, but that the variation between different batches was significant.
Although they reported that there were no significant differences in fumonisin content cornflake brands.

Risk Assessment on Vibrio vulnificus in raw oysters - Pre-publication copy now available!
September 1, 2005
FAO Risk Assesment
FAO and WHO initiated a risk assessment on Vibrio spp. in seafood in 2001. An ad hoc expert drafting group was established to examine the available relevant information and undertake the risk assessment. Their work has been reviewed and guided by two expert consultations. Also in the course of the work, updates and interim replies to their questions posed have been provided to the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH) and the Codex Committee on Fish and Fish Products (CCFFP).
Essentially five risk assessments have been undertaken as follows:
Vibrio parahaemolyticus in raw oysters consumed in Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Australia and the United States of America.
Vibrio parahaemolyticus in finfish consumed raw.
Vibrio parahaemolyticus in bloody clams consumed in Thailand.
Vibrio vulnificus in raw oysters consumed in the United States of America.
Choleragenic Vibrio cholerae in warm-water shrimp in international trade.
The risk assessments are currently being peer-reviewed and will be published in early 2005.

Harvard doctors call for hepatitis A vaccinations for kids

Thursday, September 01, 2005
By Byron Spice, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Source of Article:
An editorial to be published tomorrow in the New England Journal of Medicine calls for vaccinating all children against hepatitis A, citing the outbreak that sickened 600 patrons of a Beaver County Chi-Chi's restaurant two years ago as evidence of the need.

Incidence of the liver disease has reached historic lows within the United States and vaccination now is recommended only for people considered at high risk.

But Drs. Jules Dienstag and Loriana Di Giammarino of the Harvard Medical School argue in their editorial that the low incidence of hepatitis A paradoxically leaves most Americans vulnerable to sporadic foodborne outbreaks, such as the Chi-Chi's incident.

In areas of the world where hepatitis is endemic, children are routinely infected, resulting in a usually non-fatal disease but leaving them with lifetime immunity. In the United States, children are infrequently exposed to the virus so they remain susceptible to the disease as adults, when hepatitis tends to be more severe.

The editorial accompanied a report by federal and state health officials regarding the Beaver County outbreak, which was tied to contaminated green onions from two Mexican farms.

The idea of immunizing all children against hepatitis A is not new and has been advocated by hepatitis specialists for years. No action has been taken, though Curtis Allen, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, yesterday said that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which sets national guidelines for vaccine use, may take up the issue in October.

"The issue often comes down to cost-benefit ratios and competition for other initiatives," said Dr. Phil Rosenthal, a pediatric liver specialist at the University of California, San Francisco.

The Pennsylvania experience, Dienstag and Di Giammarino contend, provides evidence of just how vulnerable adults have become -- 18 percent of those exposed fell sick and one out of four people who were sickened ended up in the hospital. At least three people died; the journal lists three deaths, though the death of a fourth patient months later is included in media reports.

Vaccinating all children instead of only those at high risk would not be cheap, the Harvard doctors acknowledged, but half of all people who get hepatitis have no known risk factors and it is impossible to eliminate or predict foodborne outbreaks.

And the costs of treating patients with severe disease and the public health costs for responding to outbreaks are considerable. It cost $46,000 to treat people sickened in a 1992 Denver outbreak, they noted, but 15 times that much for mass administration of immune globulin to keep the disease from spreading to the larger population.

Green tea, grape seed ... and chicken?
by Ann Bagel on 9/6/2005 for
Green tea and grape seed extracts one day may eliminate the need to use synthetic antioxidants in chicken if researchers with the Food Safety Consortium have their way.

Chicken meat lipids can be oxidized during processing, and cooking can cause rancidity. Irradiation especially accelerates lipid oxidation. However, laboratory experiments at the University of Arkansas have shown that infusing extracts of grape seed and green tea into the chicken before cooking or irradiation can slow down the lipid oxidation process, making the product more palatable and extending its shelf life.
Green tea and grape seed extracts may serve as alternatives to synthetic antioxidants such as TBHQ.
Other recent studies at Arkansas show that grape seed extract increased the lightness and decreased the redness and hardness of skinless, boneless chicken breast meat. The green tea infusions were found to prevent and minimize sensory changes during irradiation. Panels of sensory testers have found no significant difference in taste between irradiated and non-irradiated chicken breast infused with grape seed and green tea extracts.
The Food Safety Consortium is a coalition of the University of Arkansas, Iowa State University and Kansas State University.

Infant Formula Recall Regulations

USDA's Hurricane Katrina Aftermath Information Updated

USDA, Red Cross, et al. Partner To Provide Shelter For Hurricane Katrina Survivors

USDA Assists With Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts

FDA Amends Interim Final Rule "Use of Materials Derived from Cattle in Human Food and Cosmetics"

FDA Action Plan for Furan in Food
Questions and Answers Regarding Establishment and Maintenance of Records

Bryce Quick Named FSIS Deputy Administrator

Educational Workshops on Current Good Manufacturing Practices; Public Workshops

FDA, USDA Report Results of BSE Investigation

FDA Dallas District Investigation of BSE Event in Texas 2005

USDA and FDA - Investigation Results of Texas Cow That Tested Positive for BSE

RapidPak Will Debut New Pasteurization Technology At Worldwide Food Expo
Source of Article:
RapidPak will feature the new SP Technology for flash pasteurization of pre-cooked food products. A significant improvement over conventional surface pasteurization which can take up to 20 minutes to complete, SP Technology takes just 1.5 seconds and causes a 3 log reduction in Listeria monocytogenes.
The SP module can be retrofitted into existing RapidPak packaging lines and has no effect on line speed. It uses a quick burst of high pressure steam that adds no additional thermal load to the product. The process has no effect on sensory characteristics and minimizes purge. Low capital cost and minimal floor space requirements make it a simple and easy addition to food packaging systems. SOURCE: RapidPak

Vibrio vulnuficus, salt water exposure - USA (MD)
September 5, 2005
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases
Sponsored in part by Elsevier, publisher of Journal of Clinical Virology
Date: Fri 2 Sep 2005
From: ProMED-mail Source: Chesapeake Bay Journal [edited]
Shore fisherman dies from saltwater-borne bacterial infection
An Eastern Shore Maryland fisherman died from a rare bacterial blood infection caused when an open wound on his body came in contact with contaminated marine life or saltwater, health authorities said. Dr Ann H Webb, deputy health officer for Talbot County, refused to release details about the death caused by Vibrio vulnificus, saying that she wanted to protect the privacy of the patient¡¯s family. But Webb did say that the fisherman was healthy until a skin abrasion became infected while he was fishing in July 2005 on the Chesapeake Bay.
¡°It¡¯s very rare, and it shouldn¡¯t cause any panic,¡± Webb told The (Baltimore) Sun. ¡°But we¡¯d like to make people aware that when the Bay temperature rises, they should not eat raw seafood. And, if they go swimming, they should not have any open lesions, and they should rinse themselves off well after they leave the water.¡± The last confirmed death from vibrio in Maryland occurred more than a quarter-century ago, health experts said.
Although fatal, vibrio infections are rare in the Chesapeake region. About 100 people a year in the US become sick from the bacteria when they eat raw oysters or touch contaminated fish or crabs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 38 per cent of the people who contract vibrio infections die.
¡°The most important thing is that if anybody receives a wound at the seashore, they should wash it carefully,¡± said John Painter, an epidemiologist with the CDC. ¡°If they see any changes in the wound, they should go to a physician, who should culture the bacteria and consider treatment with antibiotics,¡± he said.
V. vulnificus is a naturally occurring waterborne bacterium similar to the bacterium that causes cholera. Vibrio is commonly found in the Gulf of Mexico and other warm bodies of saltwater, reproducing more as temperatures rise. It normally causes serious problems only to people with weakened immune systems, according to Rita Colwell, a microbiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. ¡°Vibrio is notorious for getting into wounds, and once it gets into the blood system, it¡¯s devastating. It essentially liquefies the internal organs,¡± she said.
[Infections due to V. vulnificus and V. parahaemolyticus are particularly noteworthy at this time as related to the potential for infection in the hurricane affected areas of the USA. - Mod.LL]

Botulism, fermented salmon - USA (Alaska)
August 25, 2005
A ProMED-mail post
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2005
From: ProMED-mail
Source: [edited]
The state Division of Public Health has reported 2 recent botulism outbreaks in Interior Alaska villages, but it hasn't named the villages. Health officials sent nurse practitioners to 2 separate Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta villages Mon, 22 Aug 2005. They went to help with 4 people who became ill after eating fermented salmon, a traditional village meal.
In declining a request by KTUU-TV to name the affected villages, Dr. Richard Mandsager, the director of public health, says botulism is not contagious and poses little risk to the public. "The communities are small, so the risk of stigmatizing either individual or providing information that could lead to identifying individuals is very, very high, so we don't," he said.
Since 1995, the state has averaged 8 cases of botulism a year.
more information

Cryptosporidiosis, swimming pools - USA (Kentucky, Ohio)
September 3, 2005
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases
Sponsored in part by Elsevier, publisher of Drug Resistance Updates
Date: Sat, 3 Sep 2005
From: ProMED-mail Source: The Cincinnati Post [edited] [Edited]
Health departments in Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky [USA] are investigating an outbreak of about 200 confirmed and probable cases of cryptosporidiosis. Health departments from Northern Kentucky and in Adams,
Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton, Highland and Warren counties, and
Northern Kentucky, have been working together to monitor cases and prevent further spread of the disease. People experiencing diarrhea who visit public pools this weekend shouldn¡¯t swim, Hamilton County Health Commissioner Tim
Ingram said. Health departments have asked swimming pool operators to super-chlorinate their pool water to kill the parasite. The outbreak isn¡¯t confined to a particular swimming pool or county. ¡°So we need to consider this a regional problem,¡± said Gary Crum, district director for the Northern Kentucky Health Department.
[The many reports of cryptosporidia in the USA show that the parasite is endemic and therefore cannot be regarded as an emerging infection. Outbreaks of cryptosporidia in the USA occur every year in the summer and early autumn, and ProMED will therefore cease reporting these smaller outbreaks from there.

Bush administration eases strict mad cow safeguard
Source of Article:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration on Tuesday eased regulations restricting the use of cattle parts in certain animal feed, a safeguard considered the main defense against mad cow disease.
The Food and Drug Administration said it would no longer designate a cattle's entire small intestine as prohibited material in cattle feed.
"FDA is amending the rule to allow use of the small intestine in human food and cosmetics, provided that the distal ileum has been removed," the agency said.
The Agriculture Department was expected to make similar changes to its rules.
After the discovery of the first U.S. case of mad cow disease in December 2003, the federal government implemented a series of strict regulations preventing the spread of the brain-wasting disease.

Farber assumes Presidency of the International Association for Food Protection
September 1, 2005
International Association for Food Protection
Des Moines, Iowa, Jeffrey M. Farber, Research Director at Health Canada in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, assumed the presidency of IAFP at the conclusion of IAFP 2005.
Dr. Farber is currently responsible for the management of research and policy development in the area of microbiological food safety. He is also Adjunct Professor at the University of Ottawa and a member of the ICMSF. Dr. Farber obtained his B.Sc. and M.Sc.(A) degrees in Applied Microbiology and Immunology from McGill University in Montreal and his Ph.D. in Food Microbiology from McGill University in Quebec. During his career, he has published over 100 papers in refereed journals, book chapters, and is an invited lecturer, internationally. Since joining IAFP in 1986, Dr. Farber has served on many committees and Professional Development Groups, organized symposia and served as Program Committee Chair.
In addition to Dr. Farber, other members of the Executive Board include:
President-Elect Frank Yiannas, Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Vice President Gary Acuff, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
Secretary J. Stan Bailey, USDA-ARS, Athens, Georgia
Past President Kathleen A. Glass, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin
Affiliate Council Chairperson Terry Peters, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

FDA to introduce new rule on feed ban soon
by Pete Hisey on 9/1/2005 for
The proposed rule on ruminant-to-ruminant feed restrictions that the Food and Drug Administration announced in early 2004, then pulled off the table, will finally emerge sometime in the next month or two, according to Dr. Steve Sundlof, director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Sundlof said that the revised rule was on the way, but he would not specify which of the earlier proposed rule's restrictions would remain. The Advanced Notice for Proposed Rulemaking proposed removing all specified risk material (SRMs) from all animal feed and considered other, more moderate steps such as removing poultry litter, plate waste and bovine blood from all feed and dietary supplements.

During the press conference, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said that Japan would not be justified in using that announcement as a reason to hold up reopening its market to American beef. "Japan would not be justified under any science, under any view of the world, to adopt that viewpoint," Johanns said.

Reporters, however, were skeptical, noting that it could be a year before the proposed rule is made final and that this would be a custom-made excuse for Japan to keep its market closed for at least that long and possibly longer.

Sundlof was also asked why the proposed rule has been delayed so long. He responded that the initial recommendations were made when it appeared that the United States might have significant exposure to bovine spongiform encephalopathy. The expanded surveillance program that APHIS announced at about the same time indicated that the infectivity in the American herd was far lower than at first feared, and FDA reexamined its recommendations to bring them in line with actual risk.

"Those are some of the reasons it has been delayed," Sundlof said. "It's a complicated regulation; it involves a lot of material that will have to be disposed of in some environmentally friendly way, and so we have to be very thoughtful about how we propose a rule that has minimal environmental impact yet does the greatest amount to reduce the actual risk of BSE in cattle."