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A Notice from the FDA
To Growers, Food Manufacturers, Food Warehouse Managers, and Transporters of Food Products On How to Dispose of Contaminated or Spoiled Food

Colorado State professor receives $2 million to study bacteria
September 20, 2005
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Bill Jackson, Greeley Tribune, Colo.
FORT COLLINS? John Sofos and his team at Colorado State University have, according to this story, received $2 million to study and find ways to control Listeria monocytogenes.
The bacterium most commonly contaminates food at facilities that produce ready-to-eat packaged food, retail stores and in the home when food products are not handled within proper food safety guidelines.
The grant, which was awarded by the National Integrated Food Safety Initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provides funding for the project to begin this month and continue through September 2009.

EHEC O157 outbreak in Sweden from locally produced lettuce,
August-September 2005
September 22, 2005
Eurosurveillance Weekly Release
Volume 10 Issue 9
Ann Soderstrom1 (, Anders Lindberg2, and Yvonne Andersson3
1Smittskyddsenheten (Department of Communicable Disease Control) Vastra Gotaland, Sweden
2Smittskyddsenheten (Department of Communicable Disease Control) Halland, Sweden
3Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, Stockholm, Sweden
An outbreak of enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157 VT2 infections are known to have affected 120 people on the west coast of Sweden (Halland and Vastra Gotaland counties) between 16 August and 10 September 2005. The outbreak was first identified at the end of August when about 10 cases were notified. To date (20 September), about 120 cases have been confirmed by culture, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) has shown one dominant strain. Most of the patients were women. Seven people have developed haemolytic uraemic syndrome. A few people in other parts of Sweden became ill due to infection with the dominant outbreak strain during this period.
An intense investigation into the source of the infection was undertaken by the communicable disease control departments in Vastra Gotaland and Halland, in cooperation with the local environmental health agencies and the Smittskyddsinstitutet (Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, SMI) in Sweden. The patients were mostly women (ratio 2 men to 3 women) and a few patients were children. The patients were contacted and interviewed about foods consumed in the seven days before onset of symptoms.
Descriptive epidemiology suggested a link between infection and the consumption of iceberg lettuce. This association was confirmed using a case control study, which showed an odds ratio of 13 for consumption of lettuce and illness. Trace back investigations implicated a local lettuce producer. The implicated crop was irrigated using water from a small stream. It was possible to link cases from other parts of Sweden to either consumption of lettuce from the implicated producer or travel to the west coast.
Food and environmental investigations continue with lettuce, water and environmental samples being examined for the presence of the outbreak strain. The lettuce was removed from sale on 9 September. Since 10 September, there have been no new cases detected in connection with this outbreak.

FDA Offers Valuable Food Safety Information for Hurricane Aftermath

New Tools Used to Control Foodborne Hepatitis A Outbreaks Related to Green Onions
Source of Article:
Novel use of genetic testing methods helped public health officials control and limit the further spread of four outbreaks of foodborne hepatitis A virus in 2003 related to the consumption of green onions, according to a detailed analysis published in the October 15 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, now available online.
The authors of the study, Joseph J. Amon, PhD, MSPH, and colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), explained that these molecular epidemiologic methods had not previously been used in an ongoing investigation of a hepatitis A virus outbreak. The methods, involving genetic sequencing analysis of virus found in blood samples from infected individuals, have greatly improved understanding of outbreaks of other foodborne pathogens, but are time-consuming and not widely available.
In September 2003, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia reported a total of 422 cases of foodborne hepatitis A virus infection to CDC. Preliminary investigations suggested clustering of reported cases among patrons of three unrelated restaurants. Investigators identified green onions as the likely culprit in the outbreak by interviewing infected and uninfected restaurant patrons. In addition to these standard techniques, the researchers also compared viral RNA sequences from case patients and individuals concurrently ill with hepatitis A virus infection in non-outbreak settings in the United States and Mexico.
Viral RNA sequences from patients in the three states, plus patients involved in a subsequent outbreak in Pennsylvania in October 2003 (the latter recently described in the Sept. 1 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine), were slightly different from each other. The viral sequence from each outbreak, however, was identical to one or more sequences isolated from northern Mexican residents infected with hepatitis A virus. The researchers concluded that the sources of the green onions served in restaurants in Tennessee and Georgia were three farms in northern Mexico.
Dr. Amon and colleagues credited the viral sequencing techniques with helping them to identify the relationships between the outbreaks in four separate locations, and to define the scope of the outbreaks quickly. The sequencing allowed them to determine if cases reported in other states were related to the four original outbreaks and provided reassurance that a larger outbreak was not occurring. The molecular epidemiologic methods also enabled public health officials to respond quickly to the later Pennsylvania outbreak. As a result, consumers were warned of the potential risk, and entry of green onions from four Mexican farms into the state was banned.

"This research highlights the role of viral sequence analysis in improving our overall understanding of the roughly 50 percent of hepatitis A cases in the U.S. that are from an unknown source," Dr. Amon said. "Just as the E. coli-contaminated beef outbreaks in the early 1990s prompted changes in epidemiological surveillance that have increased our knowledge of foodborne bacteria, the 2003 hepatitis A outbreaks demonstrated the potential for integrated molecular surveillance to provide a better understanding of the epidemiology of hepatitis A and facilitate rapid responses to outbreaks."

Senate stalls Japan imports, AMI questions USDA 'consistency'

by Pete Hisey on 9/21/2005 for

A bipartisan Senate coalition voted overwhelmingly to prohibit Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns from spending any money for the purpose of making its proposed rule reopening the border to Japanese beef permanent. The vote was 72-26, and the ban would last until "the president certifies to Congress that Japan has granted open access to Japanese markets for beef and beef products produced in the United States."

Ben Nelson, D-Neb., introduced the amendment. In his floor speech, Nelson cited objections to the rule made by Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund in their comments submitted last week concerning the proposed rule.

USDA supporters aren't too happy with the proposed rule, either. In its comments concerning USDA's proposed rule to allow limited imports of Japanese beef, the American Meat Institute approved of the initiative but asked why Japan is allowed to export to the United States when it has only had a feed ban in place for four years ? compared to eight in Canada ? yet is being allowed the same rights as Canadian exporters while Japan continues to ban shipments from both the United States and Canada.

"It is both ironic and exceptionally disappointing to the beef industry that APHIS is expeditiously moving forward to reopen the American market to these products from Japan while the Japanese government refuses to apply the OIE (Office of International Epizootics) guidelines with respect to American beef products," said J. Patrick Boyle, AMI president. He added that due to the length of the feed ban in place in Canada, the continued ban on live cattle and beef products from cattle 30 months and over makes little sense. "Although AMI supports the proposal to allow the importation of Japanese beef, consistent treatment should also be afforded to Canada and other minimal risk regions," Boyle said.

Mad - Cow Related Ban To Be Tightened
The United States will close a gap in its defense against mad cow disease by changing feed regulations to mirror those in Canada, FDA Commissioner Lester M. Crawford said Monday.
In remarks to a food policy conference hosted by the Consumer Federation of America, Crawford said the new regulations would be coming soon. But he did not say when. Canada has proposed regulations banning at-risk tissues -- brains, spinal cords and other parts that can carry mad cow disease -- from feed for all animals, including chickens, pigs and pets. The new rules have not yet taken effect; Canada's current rules are similar to U.S. rules.
Ground-up cattle remains -- leftovers from slaughtering operations -- were used as protein in cattle feed until 1997, when a mad cow outbreak in Britain prompted the U.S. to ban the feed industry from using such remains in cattle feed. However, the U.S. ban doesn't apply to feed for other animals, creating a potential pathway for the mad cow protein to be fed back to cattle. For example, it's legal to add cattle protein to chicken feed. Feed that spills from cages mixes with chicken waste on the ground, then is swept up for use in cattle feed. Besides the risk of transmission from uneaten feed, scientists believe chicken waste presents a risk because the BSE protein will survive the trip through a chicken's gut.

The Food and Drug Administration promised to tighten the rules after the nation's first case of mad cow disease was confirmed in December 2003. FDA said it would ban blood, poultry litter and restaurant plate waste -- all potential pathways for the mad cow protein to be fed back to cattle. FDA scrapped those restrictions last July. At the time, Crawford said an international team of experts assembled by the Agriculture Department was calling for even stronger rules and that FDA would produce new restrictions in line with those recommendations. The first U.S. case of mad cow disease, confirmed in December 2003, was in a Canadian-born cow in Washington state. The second case, a Texas-born cow, tested positive in June.

Crawford did not say whether the new regulations would ban cattle blood and restaurant leftovers, also considered potential pathways for BSE, from cattle feed. ''Our regulations will mimic theirs,'' he said.

Canada currently prohibits feeding of chicken litter and restaurant plate waste back to cattle. The restrictions it has proposed would ban at-risk tissues from all animal feed. 9-19-05

Campylobacter rises as culprit for foodborne gastroenteritis
Research to focus on prevention in food sources, such as chicken
By Marilyn Bitomsky
September 20, 2005
Source of Article:
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA | The incidence of foodborne gastroenteritis caused by Campylobacter has now surpassed that of salmonella and shigella by a factor of at least two, according to an Australian scientist.To seek prevention and treatment answers, the 13th International Workshop on Campylobacter, Helicobacter and Related Organisms focused on warm-blooded animals and birds, particularly those that are part of our food chain."Spread through contaminated poultry and meats, unpasteurized milk and unchlorinated water, Campylobacter has become a major cause of lost productivity in the workplace and a health issue of concern," said Dr. Victoria Korolik from Griffith University's Institute for Glycomics here. "According to World Health Organization data, Campylobacter affects 1,000 in every 100,000 people."Most gastroenteritis is caused by Campylobacter jejuni, which is highly pathogenic and causes foodborne disease, she said.Things like unpasteurized milk or badly chlorinated water are also sources of infection, because most animal waste material washes into water reservoirs."In rare cases, following diarrhea, people can get neuroparalytic syndrome?their immune system confuses nerve tissue with bacteria and kills it."

She said most research efforts are currently focused on prevention in the animal industry, trying to ensure that chickens which come to the processing plants are not infected with this bacterium. "If we can prevent transmission from food source to humans, then we don't need to worry about curing the humans."

Seafood Availability and Safety
FDA is working with industry to ensure that the seafood that is currently offered for sale in your local market is safe.

With the extensive flooding, power outages, and damage to buildings as a result of Hurricane Katrina, consumers and those in the food industry may have concerns about the safety of food, especially the Gulf Coast's seafood products, exposed to hurricane damage. Although the damage by Hurricane Katrina is extensive, industry, states, and federal food safety officials have well established systems and methods to produce safe food and ensure seafood safety. At this time, FDA offers the following advice:
more information

Job Openings
09/22. Quality Assurance Technician - OR-Portland
09/22. Manager of Food Safety and Quality Assurance - (JL10248) - CO-Denver
09/22. Food Safety Specialist - Las Vegas, NV
09/22. Food Safety Specialist - New York City, NY
09/22. Quality Control Manager - Milwaukee, WI
09/21. Field Sanitation Specialist - Landover, MD
09/21. Regulatory Specialist - Food US-MD-Baltimore
09/21. Director-Quality Control - Columbia, MD
09/21. QA Micro Technician - NJ-Central
09/20. Quality Assurance Manager - Food Processing - OR-Salem
09/20. QA Manager - Lincolnwood, IL
09/19. HACCP Coordinator - Pleasant Prairie, WI
09/19. Quality Assurance Supervisor US-FL-St. Petersburg
09/19. QA Manager - Dairy US-SD-West/Rapid City
09/19. Quality Assurance Supervisor - Food - SC-West Columbia
09/19. Quality Control Manager-BHG US-CA-Fresno
09/19. HACCP Coordinator with Meat Industry Experience - Burbank, CA
09/19. Director of Quality Assurance - MO-Midwestern Town
09/19. Quality Assurance Auditor--ID-Statewide
09/19. Director of Quality Assurance - MA-Boston South

Oxoid Offers New Test for Clostridium Difficile Toxins A and B
19 Sep 2005
Source of Article:

The new Xpect¢â test (product code: 24650) for the direct detection of Clostridium difficile toxins A and B from faecal samples in just 20 minutes is now available from Oxoid.

Until recently, it was thought that all toxigenic strains of C. difficile produced both toxins A and B and that toxin A played the most significant role in disease progression. However, there have now been a number of reports that document the existence of A-/B+ strains of C. difficile linked to Clostridium difficile associated disease (CDAD).

The ability to detect both toxins quickly is extremely important, since there are increasing reports around the world of CDAD caused by strains that are negative for toxin A but positive for toxin B1-4.

Unlike most rapid tests, which detect C. difficile toxin A only, Xpect¢â Clostridium difficile Toxin A/B test detects both toxins A and B. This minimises false negatives caused by A-/B+ strains.

The procedure is very simple with no specimen processing required and minimal manual intervention. Diluted sample is simply mixed with conjugate and added to the test cassette. Within 20 minutes, the result is clearly visible. Such speed allows clinicians to be better informed at the earliest opportunity so that appropriate therapy for the patient can be administered, and ensures prompt initiation of infection control procedures to minimise further spread of disease.

Xpect¢â Clostridium difficile Toxin A/B test provides the flexibility for medium to low volume laboratories to offer C. difficile testing, and for any size laboratory to offer STAT testing for C. difficile. For further information please contact Val Kane, telephone +44 (0) 1256 841144, fax +44 (0) 1256 329728, email

1 CCDR (1999) Report 25-07
2 Department of Health press release 2003/0222 (2003) (PLCM02003/4, PLCN02003/4)
3 Limaye, A.P., Turgeon, D.K., Cookson, B.T. and Fritche, T.R. (2000) J. Clin. Microbiol. 38(4): 1696-1697
4 van den Berg, R.J., Claas, E.C.J., Oyib, D.H. et al (2004) J. Clin. Microbiol. 42(3): 1035-1041

Toxigenic C. difficile strains are a frequent cause of infectious nosocomial diarrhoea associated with recent antibiotic therapy. Those most at risk include the elderly, patients with underlying illnesses and immunosuppressed individuals. Complications include pseudomembranous colitis (PMC), toxic megacolon, perforations of the colon, sepsis and even death.

The impact of C. difficile infection on a hospital includes, increased morbidity and mortality amongst hospital patients, an increase in investigations, therapeutic interventions and infection control procedures, and increased length of stay for affected patients. The earlier infection control procedures can be initiated the better, in order to prevent further spread of the disease.

AMI to hold first allergen conference
by Pete Hisey on 9/21/2005 for
The American Meat Institute will debut its new Allergen Control Conference for the Meat and Poultry Industry at the Crowne Plaza O'Hare in Chicago on Dec. 6 and 7.
The conference is being held in cooperation with Food Allergy Research and Resource Program and Bodendorfer Johnson LLC. Speakers will include Sue Hefle, associate professor and co-director, Food Allergy Research and Resource Program at the University of Nebraska; Jennifer Johnson, principal, Bodendorfer and Johnson LLC; and Jack Cappazo, manager of analytic chemistry, ConAgra.
Cost is $595 for AMI members and $695 for non-members. Topics include allergen detection methods, working with ingredient suppliers, addressing allergens in new-product development and implementing allergen control programs.

Temperature sensor uses Internet to send alarm
By Ahmed ElAmin
Source of Article:
15/09/2005 - A new sensor alerts plant monitors, either by sound or through the Internet, when unplanned changes in temperature could compromise the safety of their products. Weiss Instruments's XJ500 monitor and web-based XWEB System are suited for restaurants, institutional food service operations, convenience stores, supermarkets, warehouses and food processing plants. Users can start with a smaller package with alarms and grow their system to Internet-based control and supervision.
The system has the ability to record temperatures, along with compressor, fan, and defrost run times. Alarms can be faxed or e-mailed to multiple locations when the systems perform abnormally.
"With our XJ500 and XWEB systems, you can be alerted to a small problem before it becomes a big one," Weiss stated.
The system can also control and monitor reach-in refrigerators, walk-ins, freezers, hot food cabinets, ovens, ware-washing and lighting control.
Used along with Weiss's iCool wireless connections, the system eliminates the need for mechanical thermostats, time clocks, thermometers and wiring.
The system has the ability to automatically print all temperatures as often as the user wants.

National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria For Foods

Food labs test equipment for allergens
September 22, 2005
Source of Article:
Soybeans don¡¯t strike fear in the hearts of many people. But for those who have serious allergic reactions to the vegetable, its presence in a package of cookies can be troublesome.
Previously, the food industry had no test to detect traces of soy on their equipment, said Sue Hefle, co-director of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln¡¯s Food Allergy Research and Resource Program.
When the food industry finishes making a soy-containing product and then switches to one that doesn¡¯t contain soy, Hefle said they clean their equipment, but some traces of soy could still be left.
Because there was no previous test for soy on machinery, Hefle said her lab developed one this year.
Food industry companies can now buy Hefle¡¯s test from the Neogen Corporation in Lansing, Mich. The company makes kits for food manufacturers to test for microbes, fungal toxins, and allergens on equipment.
Hefle said UNL¡¯s Food Allergy Research and Resource Program is one of the only programs that works with the food industry on allergenic food issues.
The soy test is not the first of its kind to come from Hefle¡¯s lab. Under the program, the first test for peanuts was developed in 1998. In following years, tests for milk, almonds and eggs were also developed.
¡°We eventually hope to cover all of the eight foods that pose the most hazards to allergic people,¡± Hefle said. She said they¡¯re continuing their work on tests for shrimp, walnut and hazelnut traces in hopes of commercializing those with Neogen as well. Mohammed Abouzied, principal scientist for Neogen, said UNL¡¯s food allergen tests are widely used. ¡°The food industry is starting to be more concerned about the well-being of the customer and its reputation,¡± Abouzied said. He said manufacturers like to test their equipment even though there is no strict regulation for it. Hefle said the kits are so easy and quick to use, her lab examines its equipment with the same test. ¡°The food industry used to send samples to me and it would take a lot longer,¡± she said. ¡°Now they can just take the kit out of the box.¡±

Scientists discover how allergy protein works
Source of Article:
9/22/2005 - Scientists have discovered how an apple allergy protein retains its potency, a move that could help the food industry understand how best to deal with allergy-causing ingredients.This is vitally important - apples are the most widely grown and consumed fruit in Europe and are used as an ingredient in numerous foods.
However, around 1 million people in Europe are allergic to apples.

The Institute of Food Research has responded to this gap in knowledge by analyzing for the first time the effects of heat and the presence of sugars on apple allergens at a molecular level. ¡°In Mediterranean countries reactions to apple allergens can be as severe as to peanuts,¡± said author Dr Ana Sancho. ¡°We investigated how one important allergen stands up to processing.¡± The team studied a lipid transfer protein (LTP) from apple peel called Mal d 3, which can cause severe symptoms including anaphylaxis. They heated it at different temperatures with and without the addition of sugar and analysed the effects on the protein structure. Colleagues in Amsterdam investigated the impact on histamine release in the blood of apple allergic patients. Histamine is one of the main chemicals unleashed when the immune system overproduces the antibody IgE, causing allergic symptoms. ¡°Our study showed how tough this protein really is,¡± said Dr Sancho. ¡°We demonstrated for the first time how Mal d 3 maintains its ability to cause allergic reactions, and the extent to which reactivity can be reduced by different processing methods.¡± During heating the protein unfolded, but it refolded once cooled. Mild heat treatment did not alter the reactivity of the protein, but severe heat treatment (100¡ÆC) caused a 30-fold decrease in the allergenicity of Mal d 3. The presence of sugars - which results in the Maillard reaction - had a protective effect and less allergenicity was lost. The Maillard reaction is one of the most common chemical reactions to occur during processing. ¡°We found that the protein binds to glucose, demonstrating the importance of studying allergens in context,¡± said Dr Sancho. ¡°Different food components will interact with allergens and have an impact on their stability. ¡°Some may mask an allergen so it cannot be detected, but will not actually affect its ability to cause a reaction. With a greater understanding of how food processing modifies allergens we can start to generate new ways to reduce current problems and prevent allergenic activity in novel foods of the future.¡± The results are published in the October issue of Allergy. For further information on food allergy suitable for the agro-food industry, allergic consumers, health professionals and regulators, click here.

E. coli outbreak cases rise to 41
Source of Article:
20 September 2005
The number of cases of e.coli food poisoning in the south Wales valleys has risen again, to 41 in 19 schools.
Not all of the cases are confirmed, but seven schools in Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr have been added to the list of those originally affected. Almost all sufferers are believe to be children. So far, 13 have been taken to hospital and five have been discharged. Food suppliers continue to be examined as part of the inquiry. All the schools remain open. The number of cases has risen from seven at the weekend. The National Public Health Service for Wales said the total went up to 22 on Monday. Another one was confirmed on Monday afternoon, and eight more on Tuesday. The figure rose again on Tuesday afternoon. The two local authorities have said they are on top of the situation and have sent advice to parents in an attempt to contain the outbreak.
Primary: Abertaf; Blaengwawr; Bedlinog; Pengeulan; Cwmdare; Troedyrhiw; Rhigos; Glenboi, Maesycoed, Capcoch, Caradog, Upper Rhymney, Comin, Aberdare Town Church School
Infant: Cwmbach; Penygraig, Cynon
Secondary: Pen y Dre; St John the Baptist

The health service said there were usually only 30 cases of e.coli food poisoning a year in Wales.
Consultant epidemiologist Dr Roland Salmon said: "You'd think with all this activity, success (in finding the cause) was assured, but sadly it isn't always. "Sometimes outbreaks just disappear as mysteriously as they've come. Overall I would think we ought to be seeing significant developments if we are going to by early next week at the latest."

Dr Salmon told BBC Radio Wales that the investigation was now in a "behind-the-scenes stage" and confirmed that all the children involved had been in the "school catering system". He added: "We will work back up through the food chain - that is an important element of any investigation.
"If that requires looking at wholesalers, manufacturers, retailers, those steps will be set in motion."
Severe stomach pains
Sources of e.coli include handling raw meat, eating undercooked meat, consuming untreated milk or dairy products, direct contact with animals, or close contact with another infected person. The condition is described as a serious form of food poisoning and symptoms can range from mild diarrhoea to abdominal cramps and blood in the stools. Hugh Pennington, president of the Society of General Microbiology said: "The complications arise later when the kidneys go on the blink. "It's not that common and most kids will come through, but sometimes they will need special treatment." Today is a process of reassuring parents and pupils and working closely with environmental health and moving forward from here. Bedlinog Primary head Tony Soanes The schools affected first noticed signs of children becoming unwell at the end of last week. Tony Soanes, head of Bedlinog Primary School said: "At first it was just diarrhoea then one or two children went home and it just progressed from there.

"Today is a process of reassuring parents and pupils and working closely with environmental health and moving forward from here."
A helpline has been set up with five lines, on 029 2040 2520, open from 0900 to 2100 BST every day until Friday.