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Judge orders destruction of 4.3M eggs
March 2, 2006
Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Judge Thomas Marcelain of Licking County Common Pleas Court was cited as ordering Tuesday the destruction of 4.3 million eggs that state agriculture officials deemed unfit to eat because they were stored at room temperature at one of the nation's largest egg farms.
He also ordered Ohio Fresh Eggs to follow all Ohio Department of Agriculture regulations.
State law requires eggs to be stored under refrigeration in a controlled environment below 45 degrees.
Ohio Fresh Eggs spokesman Harry Palmer was cited as saying the company would destroy the eggs under agriculture department supervision once it finds a suitable landfill.

FDA issues guidelines for fresh-cut produce
March 3, 2006
Monterey County Herald
Dania Akkad
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has, according to this story, issued its first set of safety guidelines for the way fresh-cut produce companies process bagged salad, apple slices and cut celery sticks.
The release of the guidelines follows a scathing November letter in which the FDA urged fresh-cut producers to do more to protect consumers from food-borne illness outbreaks. Eight outbreaks have been traced to Salinas Valley lettuce and spinach in the past decade, according to the FDA.
The recommendations were developed with the help of the produce industry, the same manufacturers the FDA regulates. Unlike an FDA "farm-to-table" action plan released in 2004, the 64-page draft document focuses strictly on activities in processing facilities, particularly those involving workers' hygiene.
Eric Schwartz, president of Dole Fresh Vegetables, who estimated his company is already following 90 percent of the guidelines, was quoted as saying, "I think most of your big players are doing something very similar now. There will be a few things that we do differently."
Schwartz was further cited as saying his company, whose bagged salad products were recalled in October after people in Minnesota and Oregon were sickened by E. coli infections, would like to see the guidelines become mandatory, adding, "I've been in plants (where) literally people are working out of something one step up from a barn. That's why we'd like to see the FDA be the ultimate regulator."
The authors of the FDA document based some of the guidelines on procedures used at the Dole processing plant in Soledad.
Hank Giclas, vice president of science and technology and strategic planning for the Western Growers Association, was quoted as saying, "It's a document we've been asking for for some time, so I'm happy to see them get it out on the street."
Bill Marler, attorney with Seattle's Marler Clark law firm, which has represented clients against Odwalla, Jack-in-the-Box and Dole in food-borne illness cases, was cited as saying the focus on worker hygiene in the guidelines is misplaced, adding, "I don't recall any outbreak of any size that was caused by an ill worker." Marler was further cited as saying the focus of the FDA, he said, should instead be on environmental conditions around farming fields, including the quality of water seasonally overflowing from nearby creeks and area wildlife, and that the key to bringing an end to food-borne illness outbreaks related to fresh-cut produce lies in punishing businesses, adding, "If you've had repeated violations over and over and over again, or repeated outbreaks, the real easy way to deal with it is fine them or shut them down. That's within the purview of the FDA."
FDA spokesman Michael Herndon was quoted as saying that overall, the agency has found that producers are "adhering to good manufacturing practices. That doesn't mean that if we find violations that we won't take action, because we will take action."

Authorities pressured over benzene in soft drinks
By Chris Mercer
Source of Article:
03/03/2006 - More soft drinks will be tested for cancer-causing chemical benzene in the UK after it was revealed some drinks contain up to eight times the legal limit for drinking water. Britain's Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it would conduct its own investigation after industry testing on 230 soft drinks found average benzene levels above the UK's one part per billion limit for drinking water. The tests, done on products at the end of their shelf-life, found benzene levels up to eight parts per billion in drinks. Benzene is listed as a known carcinogen. The FSA re-iterated that levels found to date were very low and not a public health concern. The UK has no limit for benzene in soft drinks, and a spokesperson for the country's soft drinks association said the water limit was not applicable. Yet, a UK food legislation expert told any court would likely look to the drinking water limit for guidance if considering benzene in soft drinks. Water is still the main ingredient in most soft drinks. more information

Reaction against carbon monoxide in meat packaging spreads
by Pete Hisey on 3/3/2006 for
In the wake of the Kroger Co.'s ban of meat products packaged using carbon monoxide in the packaging atmosphere, other grocers are weighing in against the process.
According to The New York Times, several regional and national supermarket chains have announced that they will not sell meat containing CO. They include Florida giant Publix, Wegman's, H.E.B., Stop & Shop, Waldbaum's, Food Emporium and Super Fresh.
According to the report, Publix officials said they thought the process "unethically disguised how old [the meat] was."
Meanwhile, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said that he would introduce a bill to ban the use of carbon monoxide in meat packaging if the Food and Drug Administration does not ban the use of the substance. FDA has not officially approved CO as an additive; it simply said that it did not disagree with industry contentions that it should be a product "generally regarded
as safe (GRAS)."

Food allergy or intolerance?

March 2006
SAFEFOOD NEWS - Winter 2006 - Vol 10 No.2
If you experience an unpleasant reaction, such as hives, nausea or diarrhea, when you eat certain foods, you may have a food allergy. Then again, it may be a food intolerance. Either way, your best response is often to avoid the offending food in the future.
Food allergies
If you have a true food allergy, your immune system is unusually sensitive to a protein contained in particular foods. When a food containing the protein is eaten, the immune system produces antibodies to attack what it considers a foreign and harmful substance. This reaction triggers the release of histamines and a chain of reactions which result in uncomfortable, sometimes life-threatening, symptoms affecting the skin, the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, or even the cardiovascular system.
True allergic reactions to foods are rare, but can be quite severe, and include tingling in the mouth, swelling of the tongue or throat, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hives, dangerously low blood pressure, and unconsciousness. In fact, an estimated 150 persons in the U.S. die each year from a severe food allergic reaction. The symptoms of an allergic reaction appear quickly, usually within two hours after the offending food is consumed.
For adults with food allergies, the most common triggers are shellfish such as shrimp and lobster, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and eggs. Reactions in children are most often caused by eggs, milk, soy, and peanuts. Children may outgrow certain food allergies, but those that first appear in adulthood usually remain for life. In addition, true allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish are usually life-long for both children and adults.
Food intolerances
If the adverse reaction to food doesn't involve the body's immune system, but rather is the result of the body's inability to digest certain foods or components of foods, it is called a food intolerance. Lactose intolerance is a common type of food intolerance. Individuals with this condition cannot properly digest milk due to the body's deficiency of an enzyme called lactase, which breaks down the sugar in milk. If a lactose-containing substance such as milk is consumed, cramps and diarrhea result. For some, the reaction occurs with any amount of the offending food. Others can enjoy small amounts of lactose-containing foods, but have trouble digesting a full glass of milk or bowl of ice cream, for example.
Dealing with a food allergy or intolerance:
Currently, there are no cures for food allergies or intolerances. There are digestive aids that can help with intolerances to the sugars in milk and beans. For annoying, but not severe food allergy symptoms, your doctor may prescribe an antihistamine. For severe reactions, an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) may be necessary. People prone to severe reactions to food are advised to wear an alert bracelet or necklace.
Once a food allergy or intolerance is diagnosed, the following steps can help prevent an adverse reaction:
Consult with your health care professional or a registered dietitian to learn how to manage your food allergy or intolerance.
Always know what you are eating and drinking. Read food labels carefully.
Learn the common ingredient terms for the offending substance. For example, if you are allergic to eggs, avoid foods that list albumin and globulin in the ingredient list.
When eating out, ask about ingredients and preparation methods of menu items before ordering.

Source of Article: Northwest Food Processors Food Safety News
March 1, 2006

Some fish sold at Washington groceries contains so much mercury or PCBs that people should limit their consumption, a study by the state Department of
Health has found. Even so, the fi rst state survey of grocery fi sh also found that many other kinds of fi sh are safe to eat in moderate amounts, and state health offi cials
highlighted that in a continued push to get people to eat fi sh regularly.
¡°Fish are great food. We want everybody to be eating the recommended two meals a week.

But there are contaminants,¡± said Jim VanDerslice, a Health Department epidemiologist.
Halibut and red snapper bought from local stores had mercury a brain poison at levels
high enough that children and women of childbearing age should eat no more than one meal a week of the fi sh, based on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines. Chinook salmon topped the list for the most PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, a long-banned chemical suspected of causing cancer and impairing brain development.
But the results have experts divided on the dangers. Health Department offi cials say the
PCB levels in the salmon are too low to put people at risk unless they eat unusually large
amounts of the fi sh. But some environmentalists point out that EPA guidelines say eating
chinook salmon with that much PCB more than once a month could increase the risk of
cancer. more information

EU: Dioxin Suspected in Chinese Produced Feed Additives
Source: Feedinfo News Service
(dated 01/03/2006)
1 March 2006 - Animal nutrition producer Provimi has informed Feedinfo News Service of the suspected presence of dioxin in samples of Choline Chloride, Vitamin K3 and Threonine tested during a routine supplier audit screening at a laboratory belonging to the Belgian food safety authority FAVV. According to Provimi, all three contaminated additives, tested in 500-gram samples, were manufactured in China. The suppliers have been notified.
Specifically with regard to the Threonine discovery, Feedinfo News Service contacted Chinese Threonine producer Star Lake Bioscience Co. Inc.

Shigellosis cases on the rise
March 1, 2006
The Courier-Journal (KY)
Health department officials were cited as saying Louisville is seeing a significant rise in shigellosis cases since August 2005, especially in schools and day-care centers, with 107 cases in the past seven months, compared with eight cases for the same period in 2004-05.
Shigellosis is a highly contagious bacterial disease with symptoms that include diarrhea, fever, nausea, abdominal cramping and vomiting. In severe cases there may be blood or mucus in the stool.
The most effective way to prevent the spread of shigellosis is to wash your hands, officials said.
In 1996, a major shigellosis outbreak resulted in 1,030 cases in Louisville.

Number of people sickened in sushi food poisoning case rises
February 28, 2006 (TN)
BENTONVILLE, Ark. Health officials have, according to this story, received 123 reports from people who say they became ill after eating at a sushi restaurant in Bentonville, and the reports keep coming in.
The story says that the restaurant, Sushi King, remained closed yesterday after a salmonella outbreak.
Ann Wright, a spokeswoman with the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services, was cited as saying the department's lab has confirmed 30 cases.
The cases were connected to the restaurant because of statements given by people who became sick, but food taken from the restaurant tested negative for salmonella. Wright was further cited as saying the cause of the outbreak may never be known.
Sushi King owner John Wei voluntarily closed the restaurant while the Benton County unit of the Health Department completes its investigation.
Wei says he does not know when he will reopen the restaurant. All food in open containers must be thrown out, the restaurant must be sanitized, and employees must take classes on safe food handling.

Food Safety and Inspection Service New Technology Information Table
New technologies have resulted in significant improvements in the safety of meat and poultry in recent years. FSIS defines "new technology" as new, or new applications of, equipment, substances, methods, processes, or procedures affecting the slaughter of livestock and poultry or processing of meat, poultry, or egg products. Steam vacuums, steam pasteurization, and antimicrobials are all examples of advances in food safety technology that have occurred in recent years. FSIS encourages continued improvement and innovation in food safety technologies.

FSIS believes that increased public and industry awareness of the new technologies being used could further promote their use, by small and very small plants in particular, towards improving the safety of meat, poultry, and egg products. In an effort to share this information, FSIS is providing below a brief summary describing some of the new technologies that it has received and reviewed, and for which FSIS has had "no objection" to use in FSIS establishments. Also listed on this website is the case number assigned to the new technology and the name of the establishment.

The new technologies listed below along with the summaries should be viewed as an information resource. To view the table, click here

PakSense tests packing tag: Labels note temperatures every 5 minutes

March 2, 2006
Knight-Ridder Tribune
Melissa McGrath, The Idaho Statesman, Boise
PakSense, a local technology firm, has, according to this story, developed a way for those in the food business to monitor their produce, meat and other products in transit with Smart Labels, electronic sensors stuffed into an adhesive label about the size of a sugar packet.
The labels, which can stick to a cardboard box or crate, track the temperature every five minutes for up to four weeks and then transfer that information to a computer.
The story says that Sysco Food Services of Idaho, which distributes food to local restaurants, hospitals, schools and hotels, is testing the technology right now and has found it useful in the field.
Terry Reynolds, vice president of merchandising and marketing at Sysco Idaho, was quoted as saying, "For us, it's important, because we want to make sure we're providing the best quality products to our customers. By maintaining and controlling the temperature of the food, you can make sure it is not going to be in jeopardy of shortening its shelf life."
The Smart Labels are different than radio-frequency identification, or RFID, tags that some manufacturers and retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. use. Those tags are used to help Wal-Mart track what items it needs to restock on its shelves.
PakSense Smart Labels are different because the labels are able to record more than just the product's serial number, company officials said. It can track the temperature surrounding the product. more information

Rochester scientists develop fast-working biosensor
February 23, 2006
URMC Newsroom
University of Rochester Medical Center scientists have demonstrated a new technology that accurately and rapidly detects the meat-spoiling and sometimes dangerous E. coli bacteria.
The unique technology uses a protein from the suspect bacteria as part of the sensing system that also includes a silicon chip and a digital camera.
The journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics published an article on the technology in its February issue. Benjamin Miller, Ph.D., an associate professor of dermatology at the Medical Center, is the lead author of the article.
¡°We¡¯ve developed a very inexpensive technology that can detect an infectious agent,¡± said Miller, who is part of the university¡¯s Center for Future Health ¡°It¡¯s clearly faster and cheaper than any competing technology. This is another step on the way to point-of-care diagnostics.¡±
The technology potentially could detect any biological entity, Miller said. A physician someday, for example, could use the technology in his office to confirm a streptococcal infection in a patient with a sore throat.
The Rochester research team calls the technology ¡°arrayed imaging reflectometry.¡± The system utilizes a silicon chip that is made so that laser light reflected off the chip is invisible unless the target bacteria are present.
The target described in the Biosensors and Bioelectronics article is the bacteria Escherichia coli.
A protein from the bacteria, Translocated Intimin Receptor or Tir, is placed on the chip. The Tir can be seen as a ¡°molecular harpoon,¡± Miller said. The E. coli sends out the harpoon into a cell. Once it is in the cell, the Tir then binds with an E. coli protein called Intimin. A similar process occurs between the Tir placed on the chip and any E. coli in the sample being tested. The binding of the probe and the bacteria alters the surface of the chip. A digital camera image of the chip captures the changes for analysis and confirmation of detection.
Traditional methods of detection of bacteria can take days. ¡°This takes as much time as it takes for a snapshot,¡± Miller said.
The scientists currently are defining the sensitivity levels of the technology, previously called reflective interferometry, and extending the system to other biological targets.
In addition to Miller, the authors of the journal article include Lewis J. Rothberg, professor of chemistry and member of the Center for Future Health, Scott R. Horner, who earned a doctorate in biophysics at the University of Rochester, and Charles R. Mace, a University of Rochester doctoral student in biophysics.
Pathologics, a Rochester area start-up company, was launched to further develop and commercialize the technology. Miller, Rothberg and Horner have a financial interest in the company. Horner is chief technical officer at Pathologics.
Research for the work was supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health.

Johanns uncertain when Japan will reopen its border to U.S. beef.
by John Gregerson on 3/3/2006 for
SAN FRANCISCO ? Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said he is uncertain when U.S. processors will be able to resume beef exports to Japan, though he noted that USDA is fully cooperating with Japan on any questions it has regarding a Tokyo-bound shipment of U.S. veal that contained banned vertebral parts.

"At this point, [setting an exact date for reopening the border] is more in [Japan's] hands than mine," Johanns said Thursday in a keynote address at the National Meat Association's 60th Annual Convention. "They have a 450-page report resulting from our investigation into the veal shipment, and our investigators are working with the Japanese to answer any questions they have as quickly and thoroughly as possible."

Johanns acknowledged that Japanese Agriculture Minister Shoichi Nakagawa characterized the USDA report as "insufficient," but added, "We expected that. We knew they would have questions, and we'll deal with them."

Johanns reiterated that the veal shipment, exported by Brooklyn-based Atlantic Veal and Lamb, was the result of a company employee and FSIS inspector who didn't understand Japan's export requirements. "Among other steps we've taken, we are requiring additional training for all FSIS inspectors involved with U.S. meat exports, not simply those involved with exporting to Japan," Johanns said.

While acknowledging the border closure was a setback for U.S. processors and producers, Johanns said the meat industry had made major strides in the last year with the reopening of South Korea, Hong Kong and other markets to U.S. beef. "Just last month, Mexico opened its market to bone-in beef," he said. "The world is showing confidence in the safety of U.S. beef."

In a separate press conference at the event, Johanns noted that many believe Japan overreacted by closing its border to U.S. beef in January, upon discovery of the vertebral parts at a Tokyo airport. "It's been asked whether we should halt imports of automobiles on the basis of a single defective car part, and I believe it's a fair question," Johanns said. "If every country closed its borders on the basis of a single defect in a single product, world trade would ground to a halt."

Prepared for bird flu

During the press conference, Johanns said it would be "almost biblical" to believe that the bird flu virus HN51 won't make its way to the United States, given that it is spread by migratory birds. "But HN51 would not signal a pandemic here. The virus is very efficient in spreading from bird to bird, but very inefficient in spreading from bird to human," he said. "And, so far, we know of no transmission from human to human, which would mark a true pandemic."

Johanns also said is highly unlikely that an infected bird would enter the U.S. food chain. "The chance of that is so slim," he said. "When birds have it, you know they have it because flocks start dying. And we have plans in place to eradicate flocks if and when it becomes necessary. If the virus shows up here tomorrow, it wouldn't be cause for panic. We have a plan in place to deal with it."

Dr. Brian Evans first to receive award
March 2, 2006
Canadian Beef Breeds Council News Release
Dr. Brian Evans (DVM), Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), has received the first Don Matthews Memorial Award for Excellence in Animal Health at the Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Beef Breeds Council (Council) held in Calgary, February 28, 2006.
The Award, in its inaugural year, will continue to be presented by the Board of Directors of the Council to individuals who have contributed exemplary service to the development of the Canadian purebred beef cattle industry in the field of animal health.
¡°Dr. Evans has had a long and significant career in animal health¡±, said outgoing Council President Norris Sheppard of Ohaton, Alberta, a co-presenter of the Award. ¡°From private practitioner, to negotiator of protocols for the export of semen and embryos, to his other roles including that of being Canada¡¯s Chief Veterinary Officer, we are honoured to present this award to Dr. Evans¡±. ¡°In particular¡±, said Sheppard, ¡°Brian¡¯s role as an articulate and credible spokesman on the BSE file has eased national and international tensions regarding the safety of Canadian cattle and beef and of the credibility of Canada¡¯s systems for the identification and eradication of BSE¡±.
In accepting the Award, Dr. Evans replied, ¡°I cannot adequately express my feelings about the Award but do want you to know that is means so very much to me. Much of the motivation that sustains me in this position is the respect of producers for trying to make a difference. So many of them work so hard and take such pride in their animals it requires that we [in government] do the same.¡±
The Don Matthews Memorial Award for Excellence in Animal Health has been instituted in the honour of the late Don Matthews, Angus breeder, and a past President and driving force behind the Canadian Beef Breeds Council. Matthews had a passion for matters relating to animal health and international trade, foundation pillars of the Council.
The 2006 Award to Dr. Evans was co-presented by Rob Matthews, breeder of purebred cattle at Highland Stock Farms, President of the Canadian Limousin Association, and son of the late Don Matthews. ¡°Our family is proud to be associated with the Council, and this Award in the memory of my Dad¡±, said Matthews. ¡°Dr. Evans is a very deserving recipient of the Award¡±.
The Canadian Beef Breeds Council represents the purebred beef cattle industry in the areas of animal health policy, market access, international market development and other areas of interest to the beef genetics sector.