of Food Safety Combined News
Western blot test
confirms Alabama beef cow positive for BSE
Pete Hisey on 3/13/2006 for Meatingplace.com
A beef cow from a farm in Alabama has tested positive for bovine spongiform
encephalopathy, USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford said today
in a news conference. The disclosure follows an announcement last weekend
that Rapid tests on an animal March 9 had yielded inconclusive results
for BSE. The animal, believed to be about 10 years old, was non-ambulatory
when examined by a local veterinarian; two Rapid tests indicated BSE and
a Western blot test by the USDA's veterinary laboratory in Ames, Iowa,
confirmed the disease. The animal had only lived on the farm for a year,
and APHIS will work with Alabama officials to trace its herd of origin
and its offspring. Clifford said this afternoon that it was too early
to know if the animal was of U.S. or Canadian origin.
The agency is estimating the
animal's age based on dentition examinations. Results from an immunohistochemistry
(IHC) test will not be ready until the end of the week, but Clifford said
the Western blot results "are sufficient to assume a positive"
result. "We will be working to locate animals from this cow's birth
cohort¡¦and any offspring," Clifford said. "We will also work
with Food and Drug Administration officials to determine any feed history
that might be relevant to the investigation. Experience worldwide has
shown us that it is highly unlikely to find BSE in more than one animal
in a herd or in an affected animal's offspring. Nevertheless, all animals
of interest will be tested for BSE."
EU eyes possible
BSE cases in sheep
by Pete Hisey on 3/13/2006 for Meatingplace.com
The European Union's main animal disease laboratory in Weybridge, England
is studying the brains of two sheep, one from France and one from Cyprus,
that may mark the first cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in that
species. The European Commission ordered further tests after scientists
indicated that initial tests detected the disease.
The two cases were discovered during routine surveillance for transmissible
spongiform encephalopathies in small ruminants. The next round of tests
may take more than a year to complete.
teens often take risks with food
By Megan Rauscher
Mon Mar 13, 12:16 PM ET
Source of Article: http://news.yahoo.com/
YORK (Reuters Health) - A substantial number of teenagers with food allergies
admit to "risk-taking" behavior such as not reading food labels
or knowingly eating foods labeled "may contain" allergens, a
survey shows. The poll of 174 food-allergic individuals whose average
age was 16 years also shows that many of them do not always carry self-injectable
epinephrine -- the medication that is immediately needed in the case of
a severe allergic reaction. Whether or not they pack their EpiPens depends
largely on where they are going, who they will be with, and how convenient
it is to carry it. If the purse is small or the clothes tight-fighting,
odds are they won't carry it. "If you're not carrying it with you,
it's a little hard to inject it," Dr. Scott H. Sicherer from Mount
Sinai School of Medicine in New York warned at an asthma and allergy conference
in Miami Beach. Among the food-allergic teens surveyed, 75 percent were
allergic to peanuts, 20 percent to milk, 75 percent were allergic to two
or more foods, 82 percent had had a severe "anaphylactic" allergic
reaction at some time in their lifetime, and 52 percent had more than
three. The teens reported they were most apt to carry epinephrine with
them when traveling (94 percent) or going out to eat (81 percent). However,
when they are with friends, at school or dance events, or on dates, "we
are looking at levels that are generally below 65 percent of the time
that they are carrying it," Sicherer said. Teens are least likely
to take epinephrine to sports events (43 percent).
Studies have shown that food-allergic
teenagers and young adults are at highest risk for dying from a severe
allergic reaction. "We have to impress upon parents of these children
and for the teenagers themselves and for those around them that they have
to be consistent in carrying self-injectable epinephrine," Sicherer
said. The survey also revealed that three quarters of the teens said they
"always" read food labels, but 42 percent said they would eat
a food labeled "may contain" an allergen. Only 60 percent of
food-allergic teens told their friends about their allergy, but most of
those that did not indicated that they wanted their friends to know and
wished the school would tell them. "That's very telling," Sicherer
said. "These teenagers are really thirsty for their friends around
them to know about their allergy and they are a little reluctant to do
the teaching themselves."
Sixty-eight percent felt that
educating their friends would make living with food allergy easier.
laws in jeopardy
By Jon Brodkin
Monday, March 13, 2006
Source of Article: http://www.dailynewstranscript.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=73639
E-mail article View text version View most popular
Food safety laws governing milk and restaurants in Massachusetts could
be eliminated under new legislation approved by the U.S. House of Representatives,
according to an analysis of the bill. Legislation known as the National
Uniformity for Food Act would pre-empt 200 state food safety and labeling
laws across the country, according to "Shredding the Food Safety
Net," an analysis by the Center for Science in the Public Interest
and Natural Resources Defense Council. Safety laws related to milk, restaurants
and food establishments would be taken off the books in all 50 states,
according to the report. The federal bill would prevent states from having
standards stricter than federal requirements unless they receive permission
from U.S. authorities.
Massachusetts officials are
trying to figure out exactly how the proposal would impact food safety
here. "We're in the process of analyzing this legislation,"
said Donna Rheaume, spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Health.
"It appears that food experts in Massachusetts were not consulted.
We're particularly concerned about a potential impact on local industries
such as shellfish and milk." Attorney General Thomas Reilly has joined
38 other AGs in opposing the Republican-backed bill, which passed the
House last week after the food industry lobbied in favor of it.
The U.S. Senate has not yet taken up the proposal. U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy
opposes the bill and worries "it would block Massachusetts officials
from assuring food is safe and wholesome," a spokeswoman said. In
Massachusetts, the bill would effectively kill a law requiring the DPH
commissioner to regulate the production, storage, distribution and sale
of raw milk for pasteurization, according to the "Shredding the Food
Safety Net" report.
The bill also could nullify Massachusetts laws that bar the sale of milk
that fails to meet standards, allow inspections of testing equipment and
milk plants, and prevent the placement of offal, swill and kerosene in
dairy product containers. The bill, according to the report, also would
eliminate Massachusetts laws that require medical examinations of people
handling food and establish financial penalties for the improper manufacturing
and preparation of food.
Another state law governing
what types of fish can be labeled "halibut" could also be voided.
Food industry groups hailed the passage of the bill, saying it eliminates
"conflicting and inconsistent regulations" by establishing nationwide
standards. Each state will have the opportunity to keep its laws on the
books even if the bill passes, according to a paper by the Grocery Manufacturers
Association. "No existing state requirement that differs from a federal
requirement would be preempted without the opportunity for petition, and
state requirements would remain in effect while FDA (the Food and Drug
Administration) considers the states' petitions," the GMA wrote.
But Reilly and other attorneys general contend the petition process described
in the bill is "slow, expensive and uncertain," and robs states
of their traditional role protecting consumers with laws governing food
packaging and food safety.
"Under this bill, states
would be forbidden from adopting their own policies, even if the federal
government had not acted in a particular area or adopted a particular
warning," the attorneys general wrote in a March 1 letter to members
of Congress. "Important consumer warnings dealing with mercury in
fish, arsenic in drinking water, and lead in cans are just a few examples
of states' food labeling requirements that would be eviscerated by this
here for more information
danger? Parents look inside the lunchbox
March 12, 2006
New York Times
At a recent
gathering of kindergarten mothers in Seattle, Shawn Lilley was cited as
telling the women that chemicals could leach from plastic bags and other
plastic containers into food, and since then, a few more kindergartners
have shown up with sandwiches in wax paper.
Linda Walker, who packs lunch daily for her three children, was quoted
as saying, "Shawn researches these kinds of things, and it's not
that much more
expensive, so we switched."
The story says that whether the information on chemical hazards comes
from magazines, the Web or the playground, many parents are changing their
buying habits to try to protect children from what they see as dangers.
on what exactly is toxic, however, is scant and sometimes conflicting.
Dr. Leonardo Trasande, assistant director at the Center for Children's
Health and the Environment at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New
York was cited as saying that the Environmental Protection Agency has
approved 80,000 chemicals for consumer use, and of those, 2,800 are produced
in volumes of more than a million pounds a year, but fewer than half the
high-volume ones have been studied for toxicity, and that until more information
is available about those chemicals, parents should focus on common and
significant risks, like lead, pesticides and tobacco smoke, in their children's
The story says that some plastics contain additives like bisphenol A (BPA)
Phthalates and Dr. Wade V. Welshons of the University of Missouri in Columbia
was cited as saying these have been found to be harmful in animal studies;
the Centers for Disease Control has detected them in the urine of a majority
of the thousands of people it has tested in the United States.
BPA is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in polycarbonate
packaging for all types of food "based on numerous safety tests,"
according to the Society of the Plastics Industry, a trade group. But
Dr. Welshons said a re-evaluation is needed, focused on the last five
years of research. Many plastic bags and wraps are made with 100 percent
polyethylene, so Dr. Trasande and others call them safer.
Ms. Lilley began buying organic foods nine years ago, when she became
pregnant with her first child. Since then, the newsletter from the
Puget Sound Community Co-op, where she shops, combined with Web
research, has persuaded her to buy wax paper bags, dye-free detergent
and other cleaners that emphasize natural ingredients.
picking von Eschenbach as FDA chief
March 10, 2006
Reuters Susan Heavey
A government official was cited as saying Friday that President Bush was
expected to nominate acting Food and Drug Administration chief Andrew
von Eschenbach as the permanent head of the health agency.
The nomination, which the official said was expected in the coming days,
is likely to face scrutiny from Congress and reignite debate over the
FDA's delayed decision regarding easier access to emergency contraception.
It is also likely to draw renewed attention to an agency that has been
without a full-time administrator for most of Bush's presidency and has
faced concerns over drug safety.
Von Eschenbach has been acting commissioner of the FDA since September,
when Commissioner Lester Crawford abruptly resigned. Crawford stepped
down less than three months after he won a congressional nomination battle
that included tough debate on over-the-counter access to emergency contraception.
A physician and cancer survivor, von Eschenbach took on the FDA post while
still head of the National Cancer Institute, where he later relinquished
his daily duties amid criticism.
here for more information
diagnosed with human variant of mad cow disease
March 10, 2006
Agence France Presse
SANTIAGO - Two Chilean women in the southern city of Curico were diagnosed
with Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, the brain-wasting human variant of mad
cow disease, local officials said Thursday.
The women, one 32 and the other 67, were hospitalized in this town located
194 kilometers (120 miles) south of Santiago.
Officials do not know how they contracted the illness, but a regional
top health official, Gerardo Herrera, said the illness may be due to women's
genetic makeup and not necessarily because they ate contaminated meat.
2 reports outbreak of stomach virus en route to Los Angeles
March 6, 2006
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Lines ship Queen Mary 2 reported an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness
on her voyage last month to Los Angeles. The luxury cruise ship reported
that 31 crew and 86 passengers were ill with symptoms consistent with
That amounted to 2.4 percent of the crew and 3.4 percent of passengers.
The Centers for Disease Control said the ship's tests for common bacterial
causes of intestinal illness came up negative. The Queen Mary 2 stepped
up cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
The health agency said more tests are being done for the possibility that
the illness was caused by noroviruses, a common, nonfatal source of illness
on cruise ships and land.
gastroenteritis outbreaks show sharp increase since 2001
March 4, 2006
Medical News Today
Researchers led by Elaine H. Cramer, M.D., were cited as reporting in
the March issue of American Journal of Preventive Medicine that based
on analysis of cases of gastroenteritis reported on cruise ships calling
on U.S. ports from 2001 through 2004 that gastroenteritis outbreaks per
1,000 cruises increased overall from 0.65 in 2001 to 5.46 in 2004. However,
ship environmental inspection scores were high during this period, with
an average of 95 on a 100-point scale.
Noroviruses are the likely suspects, according to Cramer, medical epidemiologist
with the Vessel Sanitation Program at the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, stating, "Since the introduction of more advanced
laboratory techniques that can positively identify noroviruses, these
viruses have increasingly been identified as associated with cruise ship
In the year before the study, two passengers were likely to come down
with gastroenteritis on an average seven-day cruise, rising to three cases
per cruise during the study period.
Veratox¢ç Aflatoxin Test Kit to Detect Aflatoxin for Commodities in Addition
of Article: http://www.grainnet.com/info/articles.html?type=bn&ID=31801
Washington, DC--The USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration
announced Mar. 7 that Neogen Corporation Veratox¢ç Quantitative Aflatoxin
test kit, Product #8030 quantitative kit has been expanded to include
additional commodities for official testing of aflatoxin in the national
grain inspection system. GIPSA has now approved the official use of the
Veratox¢ç Quantitative Aflatoxin test kit to determine total aflatoxin
levels in corn, corn gluten meal, corn meal, corn soy blend, cottonseed,
distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS), milled rice, popcorn, sorghum,
soybeans, and wheat.
Aflatoxins are toxins produced by a mold that can be present in corn,
sorghum, and other grains. According to GIPSA administrator James Link,
approval to test additional commodities using this kit expands the choice
of aflatoxin test kits available to the national inspection system. For
technical information, call Lynn Polston, GIPSA Technical Services Division,
See Related Websites/Articles:
Identification Using MALDI BioTyper¢â system
source from: www.rapidmicrobiology.com
Identification and classification of microorganisms can now be achieved
using protein 'fingerprints' measured by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry.
The characteristic protein expression patterns of microorganisms, such
as bacteria, yeasts and fungi, can be analyzed with the new MALDI BioTyper¢â
system from Bruker Daltonics which will on show at Pittcon 2006.
The remarkable reproducibility
of the MALDI BioTyper is based on the measurement of high-abundance proteins,
including many ribosomal proteins. As ribosomal proteins are part of the
cellular translational machinery, they are present in all living cells.
As a result, the MALDI BioTyper protein fingerprints are not significantly
influenced by variability in environmental or growth conditions. This
is a crucial advantage of this new microbiology method, as it allows the
generation of robust MALDI BioTyper libraries of microorganisms.
The MALDI BioTyper represents
an excellent complement to classical microbiological identification and
classification techniques, and to modern PCR-based techniques. In contrast
to other approaches, the MALDI BioTyper does not require any initial assessment
like gram staining, oxidase test of unknown samples, choice of PCR primers
or usage of selective growth media. Applications of the MALDI BioTyper
include taxonomical research on microorganisms, infectious disease research,
as well as microorganism detection and identification in environmental
analysis, food safety and water quality.
Using standardized MALDI BioTyper
methods, after an overnight culture growth, cell material can either be
directly transferred onto a MALDI-TOF target plate, or it can be analyzed
after a rapid organic extraction procedure. Excellent reproducibility
can be achieved routinely even by inexperienced users. Easy and cost-effective
sample preparation combined with rapid TOF data acquisition in seconds
allows the analysis of hundreds of samples within a day. Redundant measurements
are possible to further increase the level of confidence.
The MALDI BioTyper bioinformatics
package performs the microorganism identification and classification based
on MALDI-TOF proteomic signatures. The MALDI BioTyper software carries
out all necessary data processing steps leading from raw spectra to peak
lists. The generation of reference spectra for individual strains is automated,
but the software also allows for expert interaction. Microorganism identification
is performed by pattern matching between reference spectra and MALDI-TOF
profiles of unknown strains. The analysis results are visualized in an
intuitive graphical user interface.
In addition to enabling the
identification of known microorganisms, the MALDI BioTyper software offers
a variety of advanced algorithms for the characterization of unknown microorganisms,
including clustering and phylogenetic dendrogram construction. This unique
feature allows the protein signature classification of unknown species
and strains, and uniquely complements taxonomical and phylogenetic approaches,
such as ribosomal DNA sequencing. The MALDI BioTyper typically achieves
identification at the genus or species level. In many cases even different
microbial strains can be distinguished.
tagging used to quickly identify and distinguish between pathogens and
Medical Science News
Published: Monday, 6-Mar-2006
Source of Article: http://www.news-medical.net/?id=16375
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory
have developed a new, high-throughput technique for identifying the many
species of microorganisms living in an unknown "microbial community."
The method, described in the March 2006 issue of Applied Environmental
Microbiology, has many applications -- from assessing the microbes present
in environmental samples and identifying species useful for cleaning up
contamination to identifying pathogens and distinguishing harmless bacteria
from potential bioterror weapons.
are enormously diverse and complex, with hundreds of species per milliliter
of water or thousands per gram of soil," said Brookhaven biologist
Daniel (Niels) van der Lelie, lead author of the study. "Elucidating
this complexity is essential if we want to fully understand the roles
microbes play in global cycles, make use of their enormous metabolic capabilities,
or easily identify potential threats to human health."
Growing cultures of microbes
to identify species is slow and error prone as the culture conditions
often screen out important members of the community. Sequencing entire
genomes, while highly specific and informative, would be too labor intensive
and costly. So scientists have been searching for ways to identify key
segments of genetic code that are short enough to be sequenced rapidly
and can readily distinguish among species.
The Brookhaven team has developed
just such a technique, which they call "single point genome signature
tagging." Using enzymes that recognize specific sequences in the
genetic code, they chop the microbial genomes into small segments that
contain identifier genes common to all microbial species, plus enough
unique genetic information to tell the microbes apart.
In one example, the scientists
cut and splice pieces of DNA to produce "tags" that contain
16 "letters" of genetic code somewhat "upstream" from
the beginning of the gene that codes for a piece of the ribosome -- the
highly conserved "single point" reference gene. By sequencing
these tags and comparing the sequenced code with databases of known bacterial
genomes, the Brookhaven team determined that this specific 16-letter region
contains enough unique genetic information to successfully identify all
community members down to the genus level, and most to the species level
"Sequencing is expensive,
so the shorter the section you can sequence and still get useful information,
the better," van der Lelie said. "In fact, because these tags
are so short, we 'glue' 10 to 30 of them together to sequence all at one
time, making this a highly efficient, cost-effective technique."
For tag sequences that can't
be matched to an already sequenced bacterial genome (of which there are
only a couple hundred), the scientists can use the tag as a primer to
sequence the entire attached ribosomal gene. This gene is about 1400 genetic-code-letters
long, so this is a more time-consuming and expensive task. But since ribosomal
genes have been sequenced and cataloged from more than 100,000 bacterial
species, this "ribotyping" technique makes use of a vast database
"If there's still no match,"
said van der Lelie, "then the tag probably identifies a brand new
species, which is also very interesting!"
In another test with possible
applications for identifying agents used in bioterror attacks, the technique
also clearly discriminated between closely related strains of Bacillus
cereus, a pathogenic soil microbe, and Bacillus anthracis, the bacterial
cause of anthrax.
This technique could also help
assess how microbial community composition responds to changes in the
environment. Such information might help identify which combinations of
species would be best suited to, say, sequestering carbon or cleaning
up radiological contamination.