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CDC sees decline in most foodborne illnesses
Source of Article:
Apr 13, 2006 (CIDRAP News) ? The incidence of most major foodborne diseases in 2005 changed little from the previous year and generally continued a slow decline from levels measured in the late 1990s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As in past years, Salmonella infections were the most common foodborne illness, followed by Campylobacter cases. Shigella, Cryptosporidium, and Escherichia coli O157 infections ranked third, fourth, and fifth.
The data come from the CDC's FoodNet surveillance system, which covers all or parts of 10 states with about 15% of the US population. The agency reported the data in the Apr 14 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published today.
The CDC assesses trends in foodborne illness by comparing each year's figures with data from 1996 through 1998, the first 3 years of the FoodNet active surveillance program. On that basis, the agency says the rates of Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria, and several other infections were lower in 2005 than in the baseline period, but most of the progress came before 2005.
The surveillance program identified a total of 16,614 laboratory-confirmed foodborne infections in 2005. Salmonella accounted for 6,471 cases, about 39% of the total. There were 5,655 Campylobacter cases, or about 34% of the total. The CDC reports 2,078 Shigella cases, 1,313 Cryptosporidium cases, and 473 cases of Shiga toxin?producing E coli (STEC) O157. The remaining cases included Yersinia, STEC non-O157, Listeria, Vibrio, and Cyclospora.
The report shows 44 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome, a major complication of E coli O157, among children in 2004, the latest data available. That compares with 52 cases reported in 2003.

A comparison of the 2005 data with the CDC data for 2004 shows little change in incidence for most of the pathogens. The rate of salmonellosis cases in 2005 was 14.55 per 100,000 people, compared with 14.7 in 2004. The 2005 and 2004 incidence rates for others are as follows: Campylobacter, 12.72 and 12.9; Shigella, 4.67 and 5.1; Cryptosporidium, 2.95 and 1.32 (13.2 per million); and E coli O157, 1.06 and 0.9. The CDC said the big increase in incidence of Cryptosporidium cases in 2005 over 2004 was due to a large outbreak at a water park in New York last year. Because the FoodNet surveillance area has increased greatly since 1996, the CDC uses a statistical model to estimate the changes in rates of foodborne infections since the baseline period. Using that method, the agency cites the following estimates of declines in foodborne infections: Yersinia, 49%; Shigella 43%; Listeria, 32%: Campylobacter, 30%; E coli O157, 29%; and Salmonella, 9%.
However, there are several caveats. One is that Vibrio cases have increased an estimated 41% since the baseline period. Further, most of the progress on the other illnesses occurred before 2005. For Campylobacter, most of the decline came before 2001, and the rate of Listeria cases in 2005 was higher than in 2002.
In addition, only one of the five most common Salmonella serotypes?Typhimurium?has declined significantly, the CDC said.
CDC. Preliminary FoodNet data on the incidence of infection with pathogens transmitted commonly through food?10 states, United States, 2005. MMWR 2006 Apr 14;55(14):392-5

Multisite outbreak of norovirus associated with a franchise restaurant --- Kent County, Michigan,
April 14, 2006
Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report
The majority of cases of foodborne gastroenteritis in the United States are caused by noroviruses (1). This report summarizes an investigation by the Kent County Health Department (KCHD) in Michigan into three norovirus outbreaks and a cluster of community cases that were associated with a national submarine sandwich franchise restaurant during May 3--9, 2005. The investigation identified a potential source, a food handler who had returned to work within a few hours of having symptoms of gastrointestinal illness while he was still excreting norovirus in his stools. To prevent norovirus outbreaks, food service workers should be educated regarding norovirus transmission and control. In 2005, new guidelines for state health departments regarding norovirus containment were published by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (2); guidelines for local health departments in Michigan were issued by the state's Department of Community Health and Department of Agriculture (3). The new guidelines for Michigan recommend that food service workers with suspected norovirus not return to work until they are asymptomatic for 48--72 hours. more information

FSIS Issues Amendment to Safe Ingredients List
April 10, 2006
Source of article:

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued Directive 7120.1, Amendment 7, Safe and Suitable Ingredients Used in the Production of Meat and Poultry Products.
The transmittal issues updates to Attachment 1, which identifies the substances approved for use in meat and poultry products as food additives, approved in Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) notices and pre-market notifications and approved in letters conveying acceptability determinations.
To read the entire notice, go to

US fails to meet goal on Listeria as rate rises
Thu Apr 13, 6:14 PM ET
Source of Article:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States fell short of its 2005 goal to reduce cases of the foodborne bacteria Listeria by 50 percent, according to a government report released on Thursday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the rate of Listeria food poisoning rose in 2005 to 3 cases per million people, an increase from 2.7 cases per million a year earlier.
Listeria is a potentially fatal disease for at-risk populations including the very young and elderly. It can cause high fever, severe headache and nausea. U.S. health officials say it triggers about 2,500 illnesses each year and 500 deaths. As recently as 1998 the rate was near 5.0 cases per million. A USDA spokesman said the department, which oversees regulations designed to stop the spread of the bacteria, has rules in place that should help lower future incidences.
The Consumer Federation of America said while the government made progress lowering the rate between 1996 and 2002, Listeria has started to climb because USDA hasn't established tighter controls for deli meats and hot dogs.
"There is no progress if you don't have the government pushing the industry to improve," said Carol Tucker Foreman of the Consumer Federation of America.
In response to a nationwide outbreak of Listeria, the Clinton administration in May 2000 established a series of public health initiatives to reduce the incidence of the bacteria to 2.5 cases per million people by 2005. Critics said several of the measures, including enhanced labeling, have not been put in place by USDA.

Heat tests key for benzene in soft drinks
By Chris Mercer
Source of Article:
11/04/2006 - Testing soft drinks to reflect the effects of storage and transport conditions will be crucial to realistically monitor benzene formation in different drinks, a former industry scientist told
Leaving soft drinks in warm conditions, such as a car boot or garage, can significantly increase the chance of benzene forming in the drink, said a scientist who tested the effects of heat and light on benzene in soft drinks for the industry in 1990.
Recent tests by UK and US food safety watchdogs have found several soft drinks containing benzene traces above the countries' respective limits for drinking water. The suspected source was two common ingredients in the drinks ? sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
Benzene is a listed carcinogen, although both authorities said the levels found in drinks to date should not pose an immediate health risk.
One scientist who helped the soft drinks industry sort out the same problem in 1990, however, said testing drinks after exposure to heat and light was now crucial.
¡°When those 38 drinks that [the UK Food Standards Agency] tested positive for benzene are subjected to even short periods of heat and light, they could dramatically increase to beyond the WHO 10 parts per billion water standard.¡±

He and New York-based lawyer Ross Getman, who have pioneered the re-emergence of the benzene in soft drinks issue, said food safety watchdogs should make sure they expose drinks containing sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid to heat. Britain's Food Standards Agency has not tested soft drinks for benzene after heat exposure; although a European Commission spokesperson said new guidelines on benzene testing, now being drawn up by the soft drinks industry, were likely to include ¡°predictive testing to simulate storage¡±. Industry testing on soft drinks 15 years ago is thought to have found that temperatures of 30¡ÆC and exposure to UV light for several hours were enough to more than triple benzene residues in some drinks. The tests were designed to simulate the worst case scenario, and ¡°were not necessarily representative of what the consumer was receiving¡±, according to Greg Diachenko, a scientist with the US Food and Drug Administration, who also took part in negotiations with soft drinks makers over benzene in 1990 and 1991. Data reported by America's soft drinks industry association in the 1980s, however, showed that soft drinks could be exposed to between 32¡ÆC and 49¡ÆC in US summer months. The association said hot warehouses and cars parked in direct sunlight were examples of when soft drinks would be exposed to higher temperatures.

¡°Heat is a major factor¡± in the formation of benzene in drinks, according to Mike Redman, a scientist with the American Beverage Association and who also represented the industry in meetings with the FDA over benzene in 1990. Redman told that soft drinks firms reformulated drinks in 1990, mainly by adjusting the levels of sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid, to reduce and control the potential for benzene traces to form. Still, the continuing presence of soft drinks containing benzene above drinking water standards has led to calls for sodium benzoate to be taken out of drinks formulas. ¡°What are we to tell consumers? ¡®Product contains cancer-causing substance, drink immediately, do not store in a warm environment or near sunlight?' Preferably benzoate should not be used in combination with vitamin C (ascorbic acid) or added juice,¡± said the scientist involved in industry testing for benzene 15 years ago. broke the current story on benzene in soft drinks, after it uncovered in February that recent FDA testing had found some drinks containing benzene above America's limit tap water.

BSE in six-year-old dairy cow "highly probable," Canadian Cattlemen Association says
by Pete Hisey on 4/13/2006 for
A six-year-old dairy cow from British Columbia is believed to be Canada's fifth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Final test results will not be available until this weekend, but Dennis Laycroft, executive vice president, Canadian Cattlemen's Association, told Bloomberg that a confirmation was "highly probable." Canadian veterinary authorities said that the infection may have resulted from cross-contamination from poultry feed or other feed that may have contained protein from cattle. If confirmed, the case would be significant because the animal was born at least two years after the imposition of a ban on cattle parts in feed meant for cattle, the suspected source of BSE infection. The animal was discovered on a farm in Fraser Valley in British Columbia as part of the nation's BSE surveillance program, which has tested more than 100,000 high-risk cattle since 2003. The test was deemed inconclusive, and samples were sent to the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg, Manitoba. CCA's Laycroft told Bloomberg that even if this younger animal tests positive, that result would be consistent with results in Europe, where cases were discovered well after feed bans were enacted, most due to contamination or improper cleaning of feed containers, as well as cross-contamination from feed meant for other animals or feed imported from countries with no feed bans.

Source of Article:
UNITED STATES: Irradiation must be used in sufficient doses to kill pathogens.
Irradiation is effective at eliminating pathogenic bacteria from meat in a processing plant before it¡¯s shipped out. But irradiation can be less effective if plant personnel don¡¯t use it in sufficient doses--and if they don¡¯t account for the strength of the bacteria they¡¯re trying to kill, according to an article in a recent Food Safety Symposium newsletter. Some bacteria may be stronger than meat processors realized, and bacteria left for dead may rise up and haunt the processors.
¡°Many processors do not use the maximum level of irradiation because of quality reasons,¡± said Aubrey Mendonca, an Iowa State University food science researcher, who is researching the problem for the Food Safety Consortium. ¡°A maximum level of irradiation may detract from the desirable sensory qualities of the meat. What they try to do is find a dose that would still give them good food safety protection against pathogens.¡±

When food processors determine at what level they will irradiate meat, they often look for the most effective minimum dose--a level that will kill the pathogens without detracting from the meat¡¯s taste, aroma, appearance or other sensory qualities. That determination is usually made by relying on studies that show how much irradiation is needed to kill pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella Typhimurium, or Listeria monocytogenes.
Mendonca said the flaw in that approach occurs when processors use studies of pathogens that are cultured under optimal growth conditions in a laboratory. The conditions that those microorganisms face in the laboratory are not as stressful as the situations encountered by the bacteria seeking to survive in a processing plant¡¯s environment. In fact, growth conditions in laboratory media rarely produce stress-hardened bacteria.

Mendonca¡¯s studies have shown that these starved bacteria that must compete within the more rugged environment of a processing plant develop greater abilities to resist adversity simply because they must adapt to their living conditions or die. So when they are the targets of irradiation, these starved bacteria may not die but may merely be injured unless a higher dose of irradiation is administered. The solution would be for processors to base their irradiation levels on what it takes to kill stress-adapted organisms instead of laboratory-grown organisms, he said.

716 Chinese die of infectious diseases, food poisoning in March
April 11, 2006
Source of Article:
The number of Chinese dying of infectious diseases rose to 704 in March, while 12 died of food poisoning, the Ministry of Health announced Monday.
The top five killer diseases in March were tuberculosis (TB), hydrophobia, AIDS, hepatitis B and epidemic cerebrospinal meningitis, accounting for 86.45 percent of the total fatalities, says the ministry's monthly epidemic report. TB, hepatitis B, bacterial and amebic dysentery, syphilis and gonorrhea accounted for 87.21 percent of the total incidents of infectious diseases, the report says. The ministry reported in March that 536 people were killed by infectious diseases in February with TB the main killer. The ministry said 29 incidents of food poisoning occurred in March, affecting 666 people, 277 fewer than the same period last year. Source: Xinhua

VIDAS¢ç LDUO New Proactive Solution for Listeria Risk Control
bioMerieux¡¯s new VIDAS¢ç LDUO test now enables the simultaneous detection and differentiation of Listeria spp and Listeria monocytogenesin a single test for food products and environmental samples.bioMerieux¡¯s know-how in immunoassays allows synthesis of antibody fragments which reduce non-specific interactions with food matrices for increased specificity. The use of these highly specific antibody fragments also improves sensitivity by more rapid diffusion in the sample. The combined use of VIDAS¢ç LDUO with LX broth enables faster growth of bacteria for enhanced detection, outperforming the ISO standard 11290-1.

A proactive approach
By working in routine with the simultaneous detection of Listeria spp andListeria monocytogenes, laboratories can improve their efficiency and better anticipate the risk of Listeria contamination. The use of Listeria spp as an early alert indicator reinforces the control of this pathogen. The immediate result for Listeria monocytogenes optimizes the confirmation procedure.

VIDAS¢ç LDUO: officially validated by AFNOR/ISO 16140
VIDAS¢ç, the world¡¯s leading automated system for food-borne pathogen detection has recently obtained official validation by AFNOR in compliance with ISO 16140 (BIO-12/18- 03/06) for its new and innovative solution for controlling the risk of Listeria : VIDAS¢ç Listeria DUO. This marks the 30th official validation of the VIDAS¢ç system.

bioMerieux¡¯s expertise
Through its expertise in food testing and its knowledge of immunoassay development, bioMerieux is achieving new standards in industrial microbiological control. Our R&D teams are working on new high performance solutions for quality control laboratories in the food industry, using state-of-the-art technologies available in bioMerieux¡¯s portfolio.

Nanotechnology in Food and Agriculture 2006
April 12, 2006
Food Chemical News
Agra Informa Inc.
David Acord
Assessing the commercial potential of nanotech, generating investment and examining the prospects for future regulation
June 6-7, 2006, The Marriott Washington Hotel, Washington DC
Nanotechnology in Food and Agriculture, an event organized by Food Chemical News, is the first conference of its kind to explore the opportunities and challenges relating to the application of nanotech within food, giving you the chance to capitalize on new developments within this field to ensure your company is ready to take full advantage of range of opportunities on offer.
Reserve your place at Nanotechnology in Food and Agriculture and be the first to¡¦
Hear from industry experts about the most realistic and profitable innovations of nanotechnology research and development unique to food and agriculture.
Gain first hand information from the government agencies involved in future regulatory decisions that could have a direct impact on your own initiatives and investments.
Examine the opportunities on offer to potential investors in nanofood and how to secure financial support for your own research and development programs.
Understand the legal requirements involved in nanotech initiatives to protect your own innovations.
Nanotechnology in Food and Agriculture will bring together a number of leading experts with direct influence in this field of technological development, including:
Dr. Mihail C. Roco, National Science Foundation, National Nanotechnology Initiative
Dr. Hongda Chen, USDA, CSREES
Dr. John Turner, USDA, APHIS
Dr. Celia Merzbacher, The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Dr. Philippe Martin, Directorate-General for Health and Consumer Protection, European Commission
Join us in Washington for the first ever conference on Nanotechnology in Food and Agriculture to ensure your organization gains competitive advantage in this dynamic new sector! Can you afford to miss this opportunity?
For further information please contact:
Sophie Stevens, Agra Informa, 80 Calverley Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 2UN, UK
Phone: +44 (0)20 7017 7500 Fax: +44 (0)20 7017 7599

How safe is your kitchen?
April 12, 2006
The Sudbury Star
Michael Cullen, who operates YUM Culinary Academy and teaches cooking at Kitchen Bits and Dumas Your Independent Grocer, writes in this column that there is an overwhelming interest in food preparation these days.
Television networks provide viewers with glamorous cooking shows that entertain and educate. Cookbook sections in bookstores are quite voluminous. Food preparation magazines, kitchen stores and recipe websites have never been more popular.
Unfortunately, the most important part of cooking is often overlooked. I was quite surprised after viewing a number of cooking shows lately that few -- and in some cases no -- cooking safety tips were offered, observed or demonstrated.
Safe food handling and kitchen sanitation is the most important aspect of planning a meal.
Safe food-handling techniques and accurate knowledge of sanitation practices are imperative in order to avoid food-borne illnesses.
Do we take for granted that our food and kitchen are safe? We thoroughly wash and sanitize our kitchen tools after every use. We wash our hands before, during and after cooking and we certainly are aware of proper temperatures with regards to the food we serve, consume or store.
Or are we? Whether you are a chef-du-jour or a domestic diva, it's a good idea to learn a little more on this subject. Your best bet for information on this topic is the Sudbury and District Health Unit.

Viva!: Misery of Being Allergic to Food
By KAREN JOHNSON Medical Nutritionist
Sunday, 9 April 2006
Source of Article:
FOOD allergies and intolerance are very common, with more and more people developing them. Over the past few years I have seen more people in my clinics with symptoms of food allergies and intolerances than any other medical condition.
There are many different symptoms of allergies - bowel disorders, skin conditions, migraine headaches, sinusitis, blocked nose, heartburn, asthma, recurrent infections, extreme tiredness and many more.
The tricky part is identifying the offending food, because the sufferer may not have symptoms immediately. Food is inside you for quite a few days - when you eat the culprit, your symptoms may not develop for several days.

This is why people find it difficult to link what they have eaten to the onset of their symptoms. Many people tell me that they have been experimenting by taking foods away from their diet for many years without success.
There is no accurate diagnostic test, which is why GP and hospital doctors are unable to tell people what's causing their symptoms. more information

40% of state's fish high in mercury, study says: Data cited in report cover 2 decades
April 11, 2006
Knight-Ridder Tribune
Michael Hawthorne, Chicago Tribune
Tests found that 40 percent of the fish sampled in Illinois during the past two decades had mercury levels above the federal exposure limit for an average-size woman, according to a new report to be released by the Illinois Public Interest Research Group that is intended to pressure utilities to curb emissions of the toxic metal.
A largemouth bass caught in the Sherman Park lagoon on Chicago's Southwest Side was found to be the most contaminated. Mercury levels in the fish were eight times higher than the government's exposure limit.
The story says that high mercury levels found in waterways throughout Illinois led Gov. Rod Blagojevich earlier this year to make an election-year push to dramatically reduce mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants, the top source of the metal.
Attempting to bolster the governor's case before a state board, environmental advocates and state officials will release a report Tuesday that documents why Illinois cautions people to limit eating fish caught in the state.

Aflatoxin: 'Milk at risk' say Experts
By Francis Gachuiri ( Friday, April 07, 2006)
Source of Article:
Veteneray experts are alleging fears that some milk products in Kenya may contain cancerous aflatoxin fungus obtained through animal feeds.
The Principal of the College of Agriculture and Veterinary services at the University of Nairobi Prof. Agnes Mwang¡¯ombe said the aflatoxin germ found in milk is a silent killer that cannot be destroyed by heating.
Speaking on Thursday at a seminar on Aflatoxin content in animal feeds, Pro. Mwang'ombe urged dairy product consumers to exercise extreme caution on the sources of those products before consuming.
She however said the University of Nairobi in collaboration with stakeholders especially animal feeds manufacturers was conducting a research to ascertain the levels of aflatoxin fungi in animal feeds before they are released for livestock consumption.
Meanwhile, the government has said it is putting in place measures to ensure the safety of dairy products that are sold to consumers.
Livestock and Fisheries Development PS Dr Jacob Ole Miaron says monitoring of hygienic standards in the dairy industry is crucial.
Speaking at a meeting of the Kenya National Dairy Producers The PS noted that some milk processors were using substandard equipment and endangering the lives of consumers, he said the safety of dairy products was a global concern and should be addressed locally in order to increase chances of market access in the region.

Internet Journal of Food Safety (Current Issue)
Vol 8. 23-29
Development of Process for Preparation of Pure & Blended Kinnow Wine
without Debittering Kinnow Mandarin Juice
Vol 8. 19-23
Aspergillus, Health Implication & Recommendations for Public Health Food Safety
Vol 8. 14-18
An Observational Study of The Awareness of Food Safety Practices in Households in Trinidad
Vol 8. 7-13
Antibacterial activity of oregano tea and a commercial oregano water against Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes 4b, Staphylococcus aureus and Yersinia enterocolitica 03.
Vol 8. 3-6
Safety and quality practices in closed-house poultry production in Thailand: Lessons from
2004-avian influenza outbreak
Vol 8. 1-2
The introduction of the Japanese Carpet Shell in coastal lagoon systems of the Algarve (south Portugal):
a food safety concern

On-Line Slides
Protection of Food from Adulterants/Proper Labeling, Storage- VIDEO
Dr. Lori Pivarnik
University of Rhode Island
Click here for Windows Media Streaming Versions

Prevention of Cross-Contamination - VIDEO
Dr. Thomas Rippen
Seafood Technology Specialist with the Maryland Sea Grant Program
the University of Maryland Eastern Shore
Click here for Windows Media Streaming Versions (Recommended)
or click here for HTTP Server

Current Job Information
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Constituent Update: Apr 14, 2006
Benzene in Soft Drinks
Availability of Revised Versions of Guidance Materials
Interstate shellfish dealers certificate
Safe and Suitable Ingredients Used in the Production of Meat and Poultry Products
FSIS Reminds Consumers to Properly Handle and Cook Ground Beef Products
FSIS Issues Amendment to Safe Ingredients List
CFSAN 2005 Program Priorities Report Card
USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline Offers Food Safety Recommendation for Spring Religious Holidays
Guidance for Industry: Q&A Regarding Food Allergens, including the Food Allergen Labeling
FSIS to Hold Public Meeting to Discuss Proposed Rule on Availability Of Retail Lists During Recalls
Single Minimum Internal Temperature Established For Cooked Poultry
FDA's Accomplishments in 2005
Food Defense Acronyms, Abbreviations and Definitions
Letter Regarding Benzene Levels in Soft Drinks
Ike Scenario 04D-06: Clarification of the Appeal Process