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Restaurant inspections hit the Web
January 2, 2006
The Waterloo Cedar (Iowa)
Jens Manuel Krogstad
WATERLOO --- Black Hawk County Health Officer Sandy Heinen was cited as saying her job is as much about education as it is about regulation, adding, "What I like as a health officer is when they have questions for me. I try to write positives on the inspection report. I don't want it to be all doom and gloom."
The story says that the results of her inspections can now be found online thanks to the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals' "Informed Dining" Web site, unveiled Nov. 9. Inspections always have been available to anyone who visited the county health department.
more information

Single lawsuit sought in spraypark case
December 29, 2005
Finger Lakes Times
Craig Fox
Three law firms representing 663 people who became ill after visiting the Seneca Lake State Park, New York, Sprayground last summer want to combine their efforts into one class action lawsuit.
A hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 18 in Syracuse, where the Seattle firm of Marler Clark and Rochester attorney Paul Nunes of Utterberg & Kessler will ask a Court of Appeals judge to let them join their cases with those of the Dreyer Boyajian law firm in Albany.
Nunes and the Seattle firm were already working together on a class action suit against the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which owns and runs the park.
Nunes was cited as saying that the three firms want to team up because they have an expertise in class action lawsuits involving food-borne and water-contamination illnesses.
The sprayground was closed Aug. 15 after about 40 people complained of a gastrointestinal illness. In subsequent weeks, the outbreak grew to nearly 4,000 people across the nation.
The state Health Department determined the illness was cryptosporidiosis, caused by a microscopic parasite.

FDA and KDHE warn consumers about raw milk
December 28, 2005
Following an E. coli outbreak in the state of Washington, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is joining with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to warn the public against drinking raw milk.
Raw milk is not treated or pasteurized to remove disease-causing bacteria and may cause life-threatening illness. There is also a potential risk of getting rabies from drinking raw milk.
more information

Law giving inspectors power to close plants suspended...for now
By Ahmed ElAmin
Source of Article:
03/01/2006 - The UK's food safety regulator has temporarily backed down from a plan giving inspectors the power to close down plants, a decision welcomed by a business lobby group. The decision will provide relief to processors, who have seen an increase in regulatory supervision over the past few years under an EU-wide policy to increase food safety. A package of new hygiene laws came into force on 1 January.
In the UK, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) had planned to implement the hygiene regulations by also giving local plant inspectors new powers to close down businesses suspected of not having the proper hygienic conditions. The regulatory change was due to come into effect on 1 January, but that date has now been dropped. more information

Salmonella poisoning lawsuits
December 28, 2005
The State/WIS 10
Relatives of man who died after eating at Old South say their lives will never be the same
The stories explain that James ¡°Buzzy¡± Arledge had spent the day golfing and was ready for some country cooking when he returned to his Lugoff home one Friday last May.
He and his wife, Carolyn, decided to go to Old South, a popular Camden restaurant known for its country-style buffet and owner Betty Hatfield¡¯s homemade biscuits.
The decision would turn out to be fatal for Arledge, who died a couple of days later of complications from salmonella poisoning after eating undercooked turkey at the restaurant.
His widow, who filed lawsuits last week against the restaurant and Duke Manufacturing, the maker of the oven in which the turkey was cooked, was cited as saying her life has been turned upside down, adding, "My life revolved around him. It¡¯s just never going to be the same. ... He enjoyed life, and it was just cut too short."
Arledge, who was 58 when he died, was a DuPont retiree. Years earlier, he had been in a bowling league at DuPont with Floyd Hatfield, one of the owners of Old South.
That Friday in May, the Arledges had their fill of a turkey dinner with all the fixings before returning home to work on remodeling their hallway. They had ripped out part of the paneling when they both started feeling sick and had to stop.
Arledge was further cited as saying she and her husband thought they had a virus that would pass within a few days, adding, "We didn¡¯t know," her voice trailing off.
What they didn¡¯t know was that dozens of people were beginning to show up at the Kershaw County Medical Center with similar symptoms. They all had eaten at Old South and were victims of what later turned out to be the largest salmonella outbreak in state history, sickening more than 300 people.

Pasteurizing fruit? It could help fight salmonella
December 31, 2005
Scripps Howard News Service
Lance Gay
The idea of pasteurizing fruit sounds odd, but U.S.. Agriculture Department researchers say a form of the technology might help fight outbreaks of salmonella that scientists are increasingly tracing back to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Bassam Annous, a microbiologist at the Agriculture Department's food safety technologies research unit in Wyndmoor, Pa., said his experiments have shown dramatic reductions in levels of salmonella infections on cantaloupes that have been pasteurized.
He said the process wouldn't work with leafy vegetables or apples because it causes lettuce to wilt and apples to turn brown, but he said there's no reason it couldn't be used for citrus fruits, avocados and perhaps tomatoes.
"If the rind is thick, the flesh is not affected," he said. Annous said there's another benefit -- the process kills other pathogens that cause produce to decay, and so the treated produce lasts longer on the shelf.
The process involves immersing the fruits in water heated to 169 degrees Fahrenheit for three minutes then sealing each fruit in a plastic bag to prevent re-contamination before rapidly cooling the produce in ice water.

Non-O157 verotoxin-producing E. coli in human stools: Manitoba
Infectious Disease News Brief (
Relatively few enhanced surveillance studies have been undertaken to investigate the extent to which verotoxin-producing non-O157 serotypes of E. coli occur in stool samples received for the detection of verotoxin-producing organisms. The prevalence, molecular and epidemiological characteristics, and geographical patterns associated with non-O157 verotoxin-producing E. coli (VTEC) in Manitoba were described. Thirty-two VTEC isolates consisting of 10 serogroups and 13 different serotypes were isolated over a 22-month period. Twenty-three isolates (71.8%) possessed verotoxin-encoding gene stx1 only, five isolates (15.6%) possessed stx2 only, two isolates (6.3%) possessed both stx1 and stx2, and two isolates (6.3%) possessed stx2c. Only three instances of indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns were identified. The age of the individuals from whom non-O157 VTEC were isolated ranged from eight months to 87 years. Mean and median ages were 30 and 22 years of age, respectively. The present study demonstrated a large number of infections associated with non-O157 VTEC in Manitoba. Most non-O157 cases appear to result from sporadic infections, and these occur typically in rural areas. Continued enhanced surveillance is necessary to understand the temporal patterns of non-O157 VTEC and the underlying epidemiological factors driving these patterns.
Source: Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology, Volume 16, No. 6, November/December 2005

Group revives plant for meat irradiation
December 30, 2005
Knight-Ridder Tribune
Joe Ruff, Omaha World-Herald, Neb
An investment team headed by a Texas man is reviving technology known as Surebeam at a plant in Sioux City, Iowa. The team believes there is a growing market for using electron beams to kill bacteria in ground beef and other products.
"We want this to become the 'Intel Inside' of food products," said David Corbin, chairman of the Sadex Corp.
Corbin, of Fort Worth, Texas, and 12 other Sadex shareholders have been licensed to use the Surebeam technology by Titan Corp., which developed the electronic pasteurization method of killing E. coli, Salmonella and other food-borne pathogens. The Sadex group also bought the equipment for an undisclosed price.
Titan, now part of L-3 Communications group, had spun off the technology into a company called Surebeam Corp. of San Diego, Calif., which opened the plant in 2000 and raised $67 million in an initial public offering in March 2001.
Surebeam went bankrupt in January 2004, however. Sadex reopened Surebeam's Sioux City plant in June.

Listeria outbreak prompts call for food prep audit
Source of Article:
The South Australia Opposition is calling for a full audit of public hospital kitchens in the wake of last month's listeria outbreak.
Liberal frontbencher Robert Brokenshire says the SA Government is yet to properly explain why patients at risk were given cold processed meats in hospital.
Two men died after being fed processed meat, which Mr Brokenshire says goes against the advice of international health agencies. The State Opposition says it will investigate claims of unsanitary conditions in public hospital kitchens. Mr Brokenshire says the Government needs to take some responsibility for the outbreak. more information

E. coli Deadlier Than Strain From Years Past
(The Daily News, WA)
By Barbara LaBoe

The strain of E. coli that sickened 18 Lower Columbia residents is likely a stronger and deadlier version of the bacteria than even 25 years ago, according to Clark County's health officer.

Ever since health officials tentatively linked E. coli to raw milk from Woodland's Dee Creek Farm, health officials have heard from people who grew up on raw, or unpasteurized, milk and never had a problem. But, Dr. Justin Denny of the Clark County Health Department said Wednesday that national E. coli researchers believe E. coli mutated in the early 1980s, making it stronger and multiplying the risk of infection.

"It changed into something more serious in the 1980s," said Denny, who is one of the county's lead officials handling the outbreak. "And we think there's more risk with that mutation."

Locally, Denny said he's seen some anecdotal evidence of that. Clark County had 25 cases of the most virulent strain of E. coli in 2005, compared to 18 in 2004, 16 in 2003 and 11 in 2002. There's no hard evidence tying that to a mutation, but Denny said it's certainly a possibility. Those numbers include E. coli cases from other things beside milk. more information

Easier to Use Isolate¢â System Gives More Consistent Results for Cryptosporidium
On April 1st 2000 the UK Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) introduced a regulatory method for the detection of Cryptosporidium in drinking water supplies. Unfortunately, the introduction of innovation into testing laboratories has been hampered by a requirement to carry out extensive 'in house' validations before any change to procedure can be implemented.
In recognition of this obstacle to innovation, DWI have simplified the verification process and improved statistical analysis to demonstrate the equivalence of new products and processes. This change should encourage laboratories to take advantage of some of the new products available. Already, there are alternative filtration, separation and visualisation products available for evaluation.
more information

Chili Dog Recall
December 31, 2005
Marion Star
About 364 packages of Double Chili Dogs, manufactured by Scobee Foods Inc., have been recalled because the product may be contaminated with the Listeria mononcytogenes bacteria. No illnesses have been reported to date. The recalled products bear a sell-by date of Jan. 8, 2006, and a 335 lot code. In December, Scobee Foods sold the product in Texas and Michigan and S. Abraham & Sons sold the product through convenience stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Wisconsin. For more information, call the company at 888-726-9424 or visit