List of Food Safety Combined News
caused by strain used in biological weapons
of Article: http://english.ohmynews.com/
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _
An American expert is investigating
an outbreak of food poisoning in Thailand after a finding that the bacteria
that caused it is the same strain used to produce biological weapons,
officials said Tuesday. Last week, 143 people suffered stomach pains,
vomiting and muscle weakness after eating fermented bamboo shoots at a
temple fair in the northern Thai province of Nan, and 39 remain in critical
condition, said Prajaya Boonyawongwiroje of the Public Health Ministry.
An expert from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention is in
Nan to investigate the outbreak and has brought 50 doses of anti-toxin
serum, said Prajaya, the ministry's acting permanent secretary said. Britain
and Canada also have sent serum. The serum is used to cure botulism, a
form of food poisoning caused by the clostridium botulinum bacteria, one
of several used in biological weapons. Severe cases of botulism can be
fatal. Thai officials have given no indication that the food poisoning
originated from anything else but contaminated food. Cases of botulism
are reported in Thailand and across the world each year. Thai officials
say U.S. health experts are eager to study such outbreaks of botulism
to strengthen preparedness for biological weapons attacks in the United
sickness on cruise to Mexico: Common virus suspected in outbreak; tests
March 18, 2006
More than 200 people who returned to San Diego yesterday from a cruise
to Mexico reported suffering a highly infectious stomach illness.
Their reports prompted public health officials to alert area physicians
that they should expect more cases of the ailment in coming days.
The outbreak occurred aboard the Celebrity Cruise ship Mercury. It was
probably caused by a norovirus, an infection spread through commonly touched
surfaces containing the stool or vomit of infected people, according to
Celebrity Cruises and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It will take several weeks to confirm the infection source through CDC
lab tests, but everything is pointing to the norovirus, said David Forney,
chief of the CDC's vessel sanitation program.
As of yesterday afternoon, Celebrity Cruises said 191 passengers and 14
crew members had reported having symptoms of the illness.
for the Safety Assessment of Direct Food Additives and Color Additives
Used in Food
FSIS reissues directive clarifying use of photographs
SECOND USDA CONFIRMATORY TEST RESULTS POSITIVE FOR BSE
GIPSA Verifies Performance of Test Kit to Detect Aflatoxin in Corn
Confidentiality arrangement between the FDA and French Health Products
FDA Joins Investigation of Latest BSE Case
David W. Boyer Appointed New Head of FDA's Office of Legislation
Presentations from Meeting on Advances in Post-Harvest Reduction of Salmonella
EIAO Assessment of Compliance with the Listeria monocytogenes (LM) Regulation
Verification Procedures for Consumer Safety Inspectors for the Listeria
BSE; Minimal-risk regions and importation of commodities
National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods
Ante-mortem inspection of horses; Correction
on listeria regulations
March 20, 2006
Herd on the Hill
Edited by Elliotte Bowerman
The FSIS has issued two directives regarding compliance and verification
of the Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) regulation as well as an introduction
to Phase 2 of the Lm risk-based verification testing program.
Copies of the directives are available at NMA¡¯s Files page
Americans are Eating Less ¡®Risky Foods¡¯
March 21, 2006
Source of Article: http://www.meatami.com/
A new study the says that the
number of people who reported eating one or more foods associated with
an increased risk of foodborne diseases declined by a third from 1998
to 2002. The study was released today at the International Conference
on Emerging Infections
Researchers compared data from
two Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) telephone
surveys conducted in 1998 and 2002, which asked subjects about the foods
they consumed in the previous week. In 1998, 31 percent of those surveyed
said they had consumed one or more risky foods in the previous week. In
2002, the number had dropped to 21 percent. ¡°Risky foods¡± were defined
as foods commonly associated with an increased risk of foodborne illness.
- pink hamburgers
- pink ground beef
- raw fresh fish
- raw oysters
- raw or unpasteurized milk
- runny eggs, and
- alfalfa sprouts.
A working group that included
researchers from the California Department of Health Services, the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, the Connecticut Emerging Infections
Program, the Georgia Division of Public Health, the Tennessee Department
of Health and the Oregon Department of Health Services, conducted the
for more information
NEW BSE CASE
FOUND IN JAPAN
Source of Article: http://www.meatnews.com/
JAPAN: Authorities confirm the country¡¯s 23rd case of the brain-destroying
the first case in beef cattle.
Japanese authorities have confirmed a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy
(BSE) in a cow raised in Nagasaki. This is the 23rd case of the disease
in the country, and it is the first case in beef cattle in Japan. All
the other cases had been in dairy cattle. The cow was a 14-year old Japanese
Black cow that had been used for breeding beef cattle. The agriculture
ministry has reported that the cow had had 10 calves and some of them
had been slaughtered for meat, but it reassured consumers that because
BSE is not transmitted from mother to calf, there was no danger to humans.
US calls to end beef ban
March 20, 2006
Agence France Presse English
TOKYO - Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, the government spokesman,
was cited as telling a news conference Monday that Japan has rejected
a US call for the immediate resumption of US beef imports, because Japanese
consumers will not buy the meat unless Washington clears concerns over
mad cow disease, adding, "Unless safety is firmly secured, imports
cannot resume. In the first place, Japanese consumers will not buy it"
if Washington fails to prove US beef is safe. "US measures should
be considerable enough to get rid of concerns. We need to demand what
we need to demand."
here for more information
approach stimulates protective immunity against listeria
March 20, 2006
Harvard Medical School
BOSTON When bacterial pathogens attack the surface of a cell, vaccine-induced
antibodies can mount a formidable defense and fend off the bad bugs. The
trouble comes when antibodies cannot recognize the pathogen because the
bacteria have infected the cell and are hidden, growing inside the cell's
To mount a defense against these cloaked attackers, Darren Higgins, Associate
Professor of Microbiology at Harvard Medical School, and H.G. Archie Bouwer,
Immunology Research Scientist at the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute
and Portland VA Medical Center, have developed a vaccine strategy for
generating an attenuated strain of an intracellular bacterial pathogen.
The study appears in the PNAS online early edition the week of March 20,
2006. The vaccine approach could also protect against other intracellular
bacterial pathogens, such as tularemia.
The team has initially applied their strategy to Listeria monocytogenes,
which affects the most vulnerable humans the chronically ill, the elderly,
pregnant women, and young children, who are susceptible to a serious infection
caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria. In the United States,
an estimated 2,500 persons become seriously ill with the infection each
year. Of these, 500 die.
After absorption by antigen presenting cells, the attenuated Listeria
strain does not replicate, and is readily killed. Unlike other attenuated
Listeria strains that do not replicate in host cells, vaccine studies
in animals showed that the new strain provided protection from challenge
with a virulent, disease-causing, Listeria strain.
"For the first time, an attenuated strain of Listeria that does not
replicate in an animal and does not require any manipulation of the bacterium
or host prior to immunization still provides protective immunity,"
The team found the replication-deficient vaccine strain of Listeria was
cleared rapidly in both normal and immunocompromised mice. At the same
time, a required class of T-cells ? coordinators of the immune system
was stimulated following immunization. As a result, animals immunized
with the vaccine strain were resistant to 40 times the lethal dose of
"In theory, we could apply this vaccine strategy to other bacterial
pathogens like Salmonella," said Higgins. "All we need is to
use existing strains that do not replicate inside host cells."
The new Listeria vaccine was based on a 2002 study performed by the Higgins
group in which they developed killed E. coli strains as vehicles for delivering
antigens to professional antigen presenting cells in the body. In the
prior study, Higgins showed that the E. coli-based vaccines protected
mice from developing tumors when challenged with melanoma producing cells.
"We have now taken our E. coli-based cancer vaccine work and expanded
it into infectious disease areas," Higgins said. "Our Listeria
studies demonstrate the potential to generate vaccine strains of bacteria
that are effective, yet safe for both healthy and immunocompromised individuals."
The Higgins and Bouwer team is continuing to improve and expand their
approach to other intracellular bacteria.
good or bad?
New York Times
What started out as an informal classroom experiment at East Tennessee
State University has turned up disturbing evidence about some alcohol-based
instant hand sanitizers ? the antiseptic gels and foams that have become
popular as a quick way to disinfect hands when soap and water aren't available.
The story says that many such sanitizers ? whether a brand name or a generic
version ? work well, and are increasingly found in hallway dispensers
in hospitals, schools, day care centers and even atop the gangways of
cruise ships as one more safeguard against the hand-to-mouth spread of
disease. Several studies from such settings have shown that use of the
alcohol-based rubs on hands that aren't visibly soiled seems particularly
helpful in curbing the spread of bad stomach and intestinal bugs. more
on tainted meats
March 19, 2006
Washington Farm Report
The Des Moines Register
Washington, D.C. ? The Bush administration could, according to this story,
be making life tougher for the nation's meatpackers and that's going to
sound bizarre to those who think the Agriculture Department is a wholly
owned subsidiary of big agribusiness.
The story says that the department is making a proposal that could ratchet
up the pressure on processors to ensure that the meat and poultry they
sell isn't contaminated with harmful bacteria.
The plan? Start releasing the names of supermarkets where contaminated
products have been sold.
Suffice it to say that the executives at Hy-Vee, or Dahl's or Wal-Mart
won't be excited to have their company names linked to meat recalls.
What consumer wouldn't think twice about shopping at a store known to
have sold potentially tainted meat?
What store wouldn't think twice about buying from a supplier with a record
of producing tainted meat?
Ken Kelly of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer
advocacy group, was quoted as saying, "Meat processors are going
to have to spend more attention and time to make sure they are putting
out a safe product. Retailers don't want their names out there."
Beef processors have had a lot of success recently in reducing the incidence
of E. coli bacteria. Pressure from USDA after a series of high-profile
recalls in 2003 forced packers to significantly increase in-house testing
The overall number of recalls involving meat and poultry has dropped dramatically
as well. There were 53 last year, down from 113 in 2002.
But contamination with Salmonella bacteria remains a problem throughout
the industry. USDA's new undersecretary for food safety, Richard Raymond,
a former Nebraska physician, has pledged to do something about it.
Changing recall policies might help.
James Dickson, an expert on food safety at Iowa State University, was
cited as saying he believes processors are doing about as much as they
can to prevent contamination, adding, "It will be interesting to
see what happens the first time there's a large outbreak."
tests soft drinks for benzene
Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/news/ng.asp?n=66512-coca-cola-soft-drinks-benzene
20/03/2006 - Coca-Cola said
it was testing its soft drinks around the world for benzene, as the group
sought to reassure consumers that soft drinks were only a very small contributor
to daily benzene intake. The soft drinks giant said in a statement it
was testing products globally for benzene levels, one month after the
US Food and Drug Administration revealed to BeverageDaily.com it had found
some drinks containing benzene above the legal limit for water in the
Benzene is listed as a known carcinogen, although the FDA assured it did
not present an immediate health risk at the levels found to date in drinks.
Coca-Cola said it had tested drinks for benzene in the past, and stated
¡°unequivocally that our products are safe¡±. It did not deny some of its
drinks contained benzene traces. ¡°Consumers around the world invite us
into their lives more than one billion times a day; we take this relationship
and responsibility very seriously,¡± the group said.
vs. Bacteria: The New Fight Against Salmonella
Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience Managing Editor
Sat Mar 18, 9:00 AM ET
of Article: http://news.yahoo.com/
Salmonella and other
potentially deadly bacteria in poultry face a new enemy, as scientists
develop more effective ways to fight fire with fire. As they've been doing
since the 1970s, researchers put "good" bacteria into the chickens
on purpose to fight bad bacteria. Now one group has cooked up a culture
of the beneficial variety that preliminary studies show is more effective
in combating salmonella. The good bacteria is sprayed on chicks or introduced
into their water.
It's all okay with the Food and Drug Administration, so long as the bacteria
is what researchers call a "defined culture," one that's derived
from a single defined group of known bacteria.
"They're known organisms, specific isolates that are well characterized,"
explained Billy Hargis University of Arkansas's Food Safety Consortium
Reveal the Complexity of Food Allergy Management
Source of Article: http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/518440/?sc=rsmn
Newswise ? Allergists representing three organizations developed evidence-based
guidelines for food allergy diagnosis and management, which has become
more sophisticated and challenging in recent years due to the increase
in prevalence of certain food allergies and important scientific developments.
The Joint Task Force guidelines, ¡°Food Allergy: A Practice Parameter,¡±
are published this month in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology,
the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and
Immunology (ACAAI). The Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters, representing
the ACAAI, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI)
and the Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (JCAAI), has published
20 practice parameters for the field of allergy-immunology.
¡°The practice parameter on
food allergy represents more than 10 years of research and investigation
of literature by members of the Joint Task Force,¡± said Jean A. Chapman,
M.D., Cape Girardeau, Mo., a chief editor. ¡°Designed to improve patient
care, the guidelines provide practicing physicians with an evidence-based,
broadly accepted approach to the diagnostic evaluation and management
of IgE-mediated (allergic) food reactions.¡± more
guidance to reduce infection risk from spa pools and whirlpool baths
March 16, 2006
Eurosurveillance editorial team
New guidance on practical measures to reduce the risk of infection has
been published in the United Kingdom (UK) for commercial and domestic
owners of spa pools (also known as hot tubs) [1,2]. Microbiological hazards
associated with the use of poorly maintained spa pools and whirlpool baths
are recognised worldwide [3,4].
The warm water temperature, large numbers of bathers compared to water
volume, together with other factors in spa pools can provide the perfect
conditions for waterborne pathogenic microorganisms to grow, including
species of legionella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Mycobacterium avium, other
mycobacteria and amoebae. In addition, the air and water jets create an
aerosol at head height level, providing ideal conditions for the transmission
of legionnaires¡¯ disease if the water contains legionellae. The risk of
infection can be greatly reduced if spa pools are properly designed, installed
Technical guidance for the prevention and control of travel associated
legionnaires¡¯ disease has been published at a European level by the European
Working Group for Legionella Infections (EWGLI, http://www.ewgli.org)
, and some countries have passed legislation targeting this disease
[6,7]. These UK guidelines update and expand upon previous guidance issued
in 1994. more
Woodland raw milk scare has Oregon reviewing its laws
March 14, 2006
The Daily News (WA)
It is, according to this story, illegal to sell unpasteurized milk without
a license in Washington, but Longview residents need only cross the Lewis
and Clark Bridge to get raw milk in Oregon, where no license is required
for small farms.
That could soon change, though, as Oregon officials review their laws
in light of a December E. coli outbreak at a raw milk farm in Woodland.
And those changes could impact Oregonians like Rainier's Tanya Duarte,
who sells raw milk from her Jersey cows. She's okay under current law
as long as she has three or fewer cows, sells only on farm property and
The story says that until recently, Duarte listed her farm on a "Where
Can I Find Real Milk Products" webpage of a national raw milk advocacy
Is that advertising?
That's one of the things state officials hope to answer when they review
their raw milk laws, admitting some are too vague to render an opinion
about Duarte's web listing.
Ron McKay, administrator of the food safety division of the Oregon Department
of Agriculture, was quoted as saying, "I think those regulations
were written before we had (websites)," and that advertising in newspapers
or on the radio, though, is banned.
Duarte was cited as saying she didn't consider the website listing advertising,
though she took her listing off the website after The Daily News contacted
her because she realized she had enough customers, adding, "I'm not
supposed to advertise, and that's why I don't have a price (on the milk
listing). And I remember checking with the state and them saying the law
had too many gray areas to address websites."
McKay was further cited as saying this is one of several raw milk issues
his department plans to review in the coming months and that Washington's
Dee Creek Farm case -- and the subsequent review in the Legislature --
sparked the review.
Also included will be how cow shares -- sometimes used in an attempt to
circumvent bans on raw milk sales -- should be regulated. Cow share programs
sell a portion of a cow to a person for a monthly fee. In return, the
cow's "owner" receives regular milk.
Woodland's Michael and Anita Puckett -- who produced the E. coli-tainted
milk that sickened 18 Dee Creek Farm customers -- said their cow shares
program exempted them from Washington's license requirement. State officials
disagreed, warning the couple months before the outbreak that they needed
Legislation awaiting the governor's signature strengthens that restriction,
providing state inspectors greater access to farms and allowing producers
to be charged with a misdemeanor for violations. Similar action could
happen in Oregon.
McKay said Ag officials will need to work with the state Attorney General's
office to determine their next steps, including whether to approach the
Legislature or begin a series of public hearings.
Duarte was cited as saying she wouldn't mind the laws being clearer, but
she certainly doesn't want Oregon to follow Washington in requiring a
license for all raw milk sales, adding, "That would be bad news,
definitely. ¡¦ I just did a lot of research and came to the decision that
raw milk is better for you. I think the media does a really good job of
scaring people a lot when it's not necessary. And I think people ought
to be more informed on both sides."
Rapidly Detects Harmful Bacteria
By Kristin Bullok
Source of Article: http://www.nationalacademies.org/headlines/20060313.html
March 13 - Scientists developed a rapid and efficient way to identify
the presence of pathogenic bacteria within an unknown mixture of microbes.
Using this sequencing-based method, the research team successfully distinguished
between two closely related microbes -- a pathogenic soil bacterium and
an anthrax bacterium. This new method should advance the study of microbes
in the environment and improve the ability to distinguish between benign
and harmful bacteria.
The multistep process, described
in the March 2006 issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, involves
mixing various bacterial DNA with a specific enzyme capable of cutting
the DNA into short segments. Creating short DNA segments allows for specific
tagging and rapid sequencing of the pieces, resulting in the identification
of each unique bacterium in the mixture. The more traditional technique
of culturing bacterial populations involves more time and may favor the
detection of certain bacteria over others.
A number of National Research
Council reports discuss the need to rapidly identify microbes. Making
the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism
says it is necessary to develop rapid and sensitive techniques to detect
harmful microbes in the environment. Microbial Threats to Health: Emergence,
Detection, and Response calls for a global effort to address emerging
infectious diseases and provides a set of recommendations for responding
to the threat. Indicators for Waterborne Pathogens recommends improving
current microbe detection methods and highlights the promise of using
DNA-based techniques to determine the presence of pathogenic microbes
Making the Nation Safer: The
Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism (2002)
Microbial Threats to Health: Emergence, Detection, and Response (2003)
Indicators for Waterborne Pathogens (2004)
"Use of Single-Point Genome Signature Tags as a Universal Tagging
Method for Microbial Genome Surveys" in Applied and Environmental
U.S. Department of Energy's Microbial Genome Program
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Preventing Emerging Infectious
Diseases: A Strategy for the 21st Century