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Overview and History of FDA and the CFSAN

Approaches to Establish Thresholds for Major Food Allergens and for Gluten in Food

Novel Antimicrobials Protect Against Mastitis-Causing Bacteria

Data on Benzene in Soft Drinks and Other Beverages

Food giants sued over teen¡¯s illness; bad meat alleged
The Journal Gazette (IN)
Rebecca S. Green
The parents of an 18-year-old Allen County boy have, according to this story, sued numerous agriculture and food companies, alleging their son was made gravely ill by eating tainted hamburger more than a decade ago.
Filed this month in Allen County Superior Court, the lawsuit pits Michael Campbell and his parents, Connie and Duane Campbell, against some of the giants of the food industry ? Cub Foods Inc., Con Agra Foods Inc., Monfort, Excel Corp., Cargill Inc. and IBP Inc.
According to court documents, Connie Campbell bought ground beef at a Cub Foods Store on Sept. 22, 1993.
Cub Foods, though not in Fort Wayne, is a division of Minneapolis-based SuperValu Inc., as is Scott¡¯s Food & Pharmacy.
Court documents was cited as saying she prepared the ground beef ¡°in a manner that is reasonably expected for safe handling and consumption¡± on Sept. 23, 1993, and that same day her son ate the meat and fell violently ill.
The then-5-year-old Michael Campbell was hospitalized and diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is associated with E. coli gastroenteritis.
David Van Gilder, the attorney for the Campbell family, was cited as saying that Michael Campbell has continued to struggle with catastrophic illnesses, including kidney failure, since September 1993.
Indiana law allows for a lawsuit involving a child to be filed up to two years after that child¡¯s 18th birthday, Van Gilder said.
The Campbells waited through Michael Campbell¡¯s adolescence to see whether his condition improved, Van Gilder said.

E coli claimed in boy's burger
May 25, 2006
Montgomery Advertiser (AL)
Mike Linn
Skylar Hill, 5, of Lanett, was, according to a federal lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Montgomery, hospitalized for three weeks after eating a hamburger poisoned with E coli bacteria at an Alabama McDonald's.
Tim Dillard, the boy's attorney, was cited as saying McDonald's contacted him to work out a settlement but didn't follow through, adding, "I don't understand why they don't just say they're sorry and come up and meet the maker. I'm not casting stones or anything. Mistakes happen. But at the same time, when a mistake this serious happens, I think you need to stand up and say, 'I'm sorry and we want to compensate you.'"
Wayne Morse Jr., a Birmingham attorney representing McDonald's, was cited as saying it's too early to comment on the allegations.
Dillard was further cited as saying the burger was believed to be undercooked because restaurant officials told the child's parents they were having problems with the thermostat on the grill.
About three days after Skylar ate the burger, his family took him to the doctor's office because he had become ill, Dillard said. Shortly thereafter he was diagnosed with E coli poisoning at a children's hospital in Birmingham.
The boy's hospital bills topped $170,000, Dillard said. Skyar incurred chronic daily cramps, vomiting, diarrhea and failed kidneys.

Disease has sickened 1,300 state prisoners
May 24, 2006
LA Times
Jenifer Warren
SACRAMENTO ? Nearly 1,300 inmates at nine California prisons have been stricken with gastroenteritis, according to corrections officials, who remain stumped by the source of the bacterial outbreak.
Some inmates have been hospitalized, but most have been treated in their cells for vomiting, fever, headaches, diarrhea and cramping caused by Campylobacter bacteria. A small number of staff members also have become ill.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Terry Thornton, was cited as saying that health authorities have not pinpointed the source of the bacteria, adding, "It's a mystery right now. We're looking at everything."

E. coli found in 9 wells
May 30, 2006
The Portsmouth Herald (Maine)
Shir Haberman
YORK, Maine - York¡¯s Emergency Management Agency received notification from the state Health and Environmental Laboratory in Augusta that three private wells in York had tested positive for E. coli contamination following recent flooding.
The owners of all properties on which the wells were located were advised of the contamination and told to "shock" their water supplies with a dose of bleach.
E. coli O157:H7, the strain found in the contaminated wells, is one of hundreds of strains of the bacterium Escherichia coli, the Centers for Disease Control Web site indicates. Although most strains are harmless and live in the intestines of healthy humans and animals, this strain produces a powerful toxin and can cause severe illness.

Why do we have so much E-coli?
May 30, 2006
The Herald (Scotland)
Helen Puttick
E-coli O157 is a horribly familiar germ in Lanarkshire. In the winter of 1996-97, 21 people died in an outbreak of the bacterium in Wishaw - the worst food poisoning case of its kind in the world.
The story recalls how it began with 100 pensioners sitting down at the town's Old Parish Church lunch club for steak pies made using meat and pastry supplied by John Barr & Sons. Within five days, 10 people were ill with possible or confirmed cases of E-coli.
The incident sparked multiple inquiries, yet reports since suggest that lessons still need to be learned and the high number of cases in Scotland compared with England continues to mystify.
Professor Hugh Pennington, who led investigations following the 1996 Wishaw outbreak, was cited as saying yesterday he hoped there would be no more cases linked to butchers' premises, adding, "We will not be seeing the end of E-coli because it is out there in cattle and sheep and we know most cases are environmentally acquired. It is hard to say how we can eliminate it. But with a lot of common sense . . . and all the checks that go into food businesses that get more stringent every year . . . we should have this problem cracked."
Professor Pennington was further cited as stressing that everything possible should be done to fight the germ, adding, "As the Dunfermline outbreak shows, it can be quite a devastating illness."
He added that it would be useful to look at the subtle differences in the types of E-coli found in England and Scotland, to see if this was relevant, and to investigate how the new type in the Dunfermline outbreak had emerged here.

Food Products Association Applauds Senate Introduction of ¡°National Uniformity for Food Act¡±
Source of Article:
(Washington, D.C.) ? Commenting on the introduction today in the U.S. Senate of the ¡°National Uniformity for Food Act,¡± Cal Dooley, President and CEO of the Food Products Association (FPA), made the following remarks:

¡°The introduction in the Senate of the National Uniformity for Food Act is a strong step forward for this important legislation, which will provide consumers with the same accurate, science-based information on food safety, regardless of where they live. The Food Products Association applauds Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) for their leadership on the issue of national uniformity and for introducing this bill.

¡°The National Uniformity for Food Act is a logical extension of the approach to consumer information that currently exists for nutrition labeling, allergen labeling, meat and poultry standards, prescription drugs, pesticide residue standards and medical devices. It will put food safety in the hands of the nation¡¯s top food scientists and food safety experts. Under national uniformity, consumers will be able to pick a product off the grocery shelf in any state and find on the label consistent, science-based information that has been reviewed and accepted by government health authorities.

¡°There have been many inaccurate statements made by opponents of national uniformity legislation about the bill¡¯s potential impact, and the record needs to be set straight. For example, a rigorous legal analysis prepared for the National Uniformity for Food Coalition has shown that the uniformity provision of the proposed legislation would affect only 11 of the 200 state laws and regulations opponents claim would be eliminated by the bill. To ensure that this legislation and its positive impact on food safety standards and warning requirements is fully understood, we urge the Senate, as soon as possible, to hold a hearing on the important issue of national uniformity.

¡°National uniformity legislation recently was passed by the House of Representatives by a strong, bipartisan majority. It is now time for the Senate to quickly consider and pass the National Uniformity for Food Act. It is a common-sense piece of legislation that will benefit consumers in all fifty states.¡±

Creekstone wins rapid hearing on USDA suit
by Pete Hisey on 5/29/2006 for
U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson has ruled in favor of Creekstone Farms in the opening rounds of its suit against USDA to allow it to test all of its cattle for bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Robertson set a schedule that will allow Creekstone to file a motion for summary judgment by June 23, and USDA will have until Sept. 15 to respond. By federal court standards, that is rapid action and could take months off the trial process.
Creekstone contends that USDA is overstepping its authority by refusing to allow the beef processor to test all of its cattle for BSE, a move that would make its beef highly desirable in markets such as Japan and South Korea. The company has its own testing lab, but USDA refuses to authorize the purchase of adequate supplies of rapid test kits, contending that universal testing is a marketing gimmick, not a scientific food-safety strategy.

Petting zoos are a health risk
May 26, 2006
Daily Star (AZ)
Jennifer O'Connor, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Norfolk, Va., writes regarding the May 18 article "History event gets a new look," to say this article did readers a disservice by not warning them about the very real health hazards of petting zoos.
Petting zoos are hotbeds of E. coli bacteria, and numerous children have been infected with this potentially deadly illness after visiting such displays. Some have died. Infections can spread through direct animal contact or simply by touching the surroundings near an animal exhibit. Petting zoos have nearly disappeared in Florida after 26 people were confirmed stricken with E. coli, including 23 children, after visiting petting zoos at local fairs. The last thing any parent wants is their child getting sick; avoiding petting zoos is one simple way parents can ensure their kids' health and well-being.

Beware the ¡°medium¡± burger on the barbecue: Minced or chopped up meats should not be cooked to preference says safefood
May 29, 2006
safefood Media Release
safefood is urging consumers to be extra vigilant when cooking meats that have been minced, skewered or rolled such as burgers, sausages and kebabs. These types of meats should be thoroughly cooked and never served rare or pink in the middle.
With whole cuts of meat e.g. steak, any harmful bacteria will live on the outside only, but when meat is minced or chopped up, the bacteria is moved around. These meats must be cooked thoroughly until piping hot all the way through to avoid food poisoning.
While many people believe that foodborne infections are acquired in food outlets such as restaurants, the World Health Organisation has reported at least 40% of foodborne illness occurs in the home. A further report has found that 50% of burgers cooked in the home were not properly cooked. The same study revealed that harmful bacteria were found in 40% of foods cooked at barbecues.
Speaking earlier today, Dr. Thomas Quigley, Director of Food Science, safefood said, ¡°Thorough cooking of these meats is the best way for consumers to minimise the risks of food poisoning.
Our advice is that when checking that a burger or sausage is cooked, cut into the middle with a clean knife and check that it is piping hot in the middle. Meats change colour when cooked. Looking at colour is especially useful for checking meat, so also check that there is no pink meat left in the middle.¡±

Salmonella on parliament's list of endangered species
May 30, 2006
The Copenhagen Post
After wiping out salmonella in Danish produced poultry, parliament is now, according to this story, turning its sights towards imported meat, with a majority of MPs ready to act to ban meat found to contain the virus, daily newspaper Politiken reported Tuesday.
The story notes that Denmark currently has a ban on meat found to contain salmonella strain DT 104. J©ªrgen Schlundt, the director of the World Health Organisation's office for food safety was cited as telling parliament Monday hat should be expanded to include all variants of the virus, adding, "Denmark has reached an extremely high level in its fight against salmonella, and it should demand the same of imported meat."
The efforts to eliminate salmonella from the butcher's case have cost millions, and members of parliament were afraid those efforts could be undermined.
A non-governmental majority is calling for the ban to be implemented as a way to ensure that all meat in Denmark is guaranteed salmonella-free.

Congress freezes spending on animal ID
by Pete Hisey on 5/25/2006 for
About $33 million meant to fund the next steps in a national animal identification system was frozen during negotiations over a $93.6 billion agricultural bill on Tuesday.
An earlier attempt to kill the program outright was defeated, but the House approved a measure to withhold funding for animal ID until USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service publishes a proposed rule, setting out parameters for the plan.
Conservatives also attempted to eliminate several programs under the sweeping agricultural bill, including such expenditures as $229,000 for a dairy education program in Iowa and $180,000 for a hydroponic tomato project in Ohio. All challenges were easily defeated.
USDA did not immediately return calls for comment.

Mexico reopens border to U.S. beef on the bone
May 25, 2006
KRVN 880 Rural Radio (Lexington, NE)
MEXICO CITY - Javier Trujillo, Mexico's head of animal health, was cited as saying Mexico on Wednesday had reopened its border to U.S. imports of beef on the bone, lifting another part of a drawn out ban on American beef that started with a mad-cow disease outbreak, adding, "Beef on the bone from the United States and Canada can enter Mexico. It's solved."

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Current Job Information
05/30. Agriculture Food Safety Auditor - Emeryville, CA
05/30. Quality Assurance Team Advisor - GA-Gainesville
05/30. QA Mgr, Food & Nutr Mfg. - Evansville, IN; Louisville, K
05/30. Quality Assurance Manager - Atlanta, GA
05/30. Quality Assurance Manager - TN-Tennessee
05/30. Supervisor, Quality Assurance - NC-Rocky Mount
05/26. QA Supervisor Food/Beverage - Bay Area, CA
05/26. TX-Austin-Microbiology Lab Technician
05/26. PA-Fort Washington-Quality Engineer
05/26. Quality Assurance Supervisor - NC-Lincolnton

Packaging coating keeps bugs away
By staff reporter
Source of article:
30/05/2006 - A water-based coating for cartons could help keep insects such as German cockroaches and Indian meal moths out of the food chain.
Michelman claims its BugBan 9000 coating can save retailers, distributors and food processors money by reducing the damage to food packaging caused by insects.
The Environmental Protection Agency has approved the use of BugBan 9000 for use on the outside of corrugated surfaces, folding cartons, wood and corrugated pallets used in the transporting of food, the company stated when releasing the product earlier this month.
"It was specifically designed to not just repel insects, but to effectively eliminate the insects before they can penetrate the package -- for the entire life of the package," the company stated.
The water- based coating is repulpable and can be applied to paper and paperboard substrates. It can be applied either off-line or in-line, using rod, blade, flexo, gravure, or size coating application methods.
"Furthermore, controlled studies have shown that material handlers of packaging coated with BugBan 9000 do not experience any significant transference of the product to their hands, even under wet conditions" the company claimed. "Other studies have confirmed that the active ingredient does not migrate through the paper that has been treated to the food contact side."
The company said it tested BugBan 9000 at four universities on a wide variety of insects -- including yellow jacket wasps, fire ants, German cockroaches, and Indian meal moths.
"All reports demonstrated 100 per cent effectiveness in eliminating the insect pests within 24 hours -- eradicating 70 per cent in the first five hours," Michelman claimed.
The annual costs of insect infestation in the sugar, cereal, flour and pet food markets total $226 million annually, Michelman stated.

Magna Medical Services Inc.: New instant Salmonella and E. coli tests available for food service industry
May 29, 2006
From a press release
Toronto -- Today, a new instant screening test for harmful levels of E.Coli and Salmonella, developed by a medical consortium of industry and clinical facilities, and distributed by Desaderal Inc. in Canada and Magna Medical Services Inc. in the United States, will be available to the food service industry worldwide.
Magna Medical Services, Inc., with offices in Las Vegas, Nevada; Bridgeport, Connecticut; and Orlando, Florida, "The applications for this product will be far reaching" says General Manager Robert Greene "It a great feeling to know that your product can save lives". The test can alert food handlers to levels of harm within minutes, instead of the routine 2 - 5 days it takes to verify contamination from lab culture samples.
Recent outbreaks of Salmonella and E. Coli, caused by industry contamination and improper home cooking procedures, have contributed to severe illness among consumers worldwide Salmonella bacteria, found in meat, and animal waste, particularly poultry, causes food poisoning in humans. Proper handling and cooking procedures prevent harmful infection from poultry which naturally contains Salmonella. The MMS Salmonella strip can detect 50 of the most common and deadliest strains. The strips are submerged in food samples, if the organism is present the strip will change color.
Escherichia coli (usually abbreviated to E. coli) is one of the many species of bacteria that is naturally found in the lower intestines of warm-blooded animals. "There are literally thousands of varieties of E.Coli, and the most common and deadliest strains including the O157:H7 and E.coli 103 have been included for detection in the instant E.Coli strip.

'Carcass-to-cut' software tracks meat
By staff reporter
Source of Article:
23/05/2006 - A tracking software program is designed to help meat packing plants identify live animals, link them to individual cuts through to point of sale, and help companies better manage their inventories.
Packing plants are looking for traceability systems due to new food safety measures. The measures brought in new regulations requiring that businesses keep track of supplies from when they are bought from the farmer to then are sold to consumers. Requirements relating to exports, support for branded meat label claims, and for better day-to-day inventory management have also increased the demand for such products. AgInfoLink USA, a privately-held food traceability company, said its Meat Inventory Tracking System (MITS) software was developed to meet the demand. The company just completed its first installation of MITS at Western Prime Meats in Weyburn, a town in Saskatchewan, Canada. Lee Curkendall, AgInfoLink's vice president for business development, described MITS as an affordable and easy-to-use carcass-to-cut traceability system for small to medium size packing plants.
"Traceability, combined with added efficiencies in processes and better management of information, will continue to be an important part of the meat business, and we're making it easier for our customers to meet these challenges and remain competitive," Curkendall stated.

MITS 2.0 includes additional functionality such as the ability to track product by lot ID, animal ID or cut type ID, to edit live animal data, and to manage meat cut inventory within boxed product and storage location. The US Department of Agriculture last month released a plan outlining timelines and benchmarks for implementation of a national system to trace animals throughout the supply chain. The National Animal Identification System, along with a plan for the initial integration of private and state animal tracking databases, sets out what the USDA calls an ¡°aggressive timeline for ensuring full implementation¡± by 2009. Under the plan, NAIS is expected to be operational by next year and achieve full producer participation by 2009.
The agriculture secretary, Mike Johanns, said producers' willingness to meet the benchmarks by registering their premises and animals with NAIS would determine whether the program remains voluntary or becomes mandatory.
Other countries with animal identification systems, such as Australia, are using traceability as a marketing tool to gain a competitive advantage over the US, he warned. Major retailers are also demanding traceability throughout the supply chain. ¡°I hope industry will respond as they see other countries acting and see retailers acting," he said at a press conference. "I think industry will move in a direction to make it happen. I really do see the world headed in this direction.¡±