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WASHINGTON, June 28, 2006 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today celebrated 100 years of protecting consumers by commemorating the Centennial Anniversary of the signing of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA).
"Today, we commemorate the centennial of President Theodore Roosevelt's signing of the historic legislation that significantly improved the safety of our nation's food supply," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner. "As we stand on the threshold of the second century of ensuring the safety of America's meat, poultry and egg products, we take pride in our achievements in public health protection and look forward to strengthening our commitment to safeguarding future generations."
On June 30, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the FMIA into law, requiring that meat products be inspected and that federally inspected slaughterhouses and processing plants operate under sanitary conditions.
"In 1906, early childhood mortality in America was high from maladies now largely overcome and rare because of laws like the FMIA," said Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Richard Raymond. "By incorporating science to an unprecedented degree, we are more effectively anticipating and eliminating threats to public health today and in the future."
Conner and Raymond participated in a ceremony held on the patio of USDA's Jamie Whitten Federal Building, which also featured remarks by FSIS Administrator Dr. Barbara Masters and Anthony Arthur, author of a recently released biography of Upton Sinclair, whose book The Jungle is credited with spurring passage of the FMIA. A certificate of appreciation was also presented to the grandson of former Indiana Senator Albert J. Beveridge, the co-author and chief senate sponsor of the legislation that became the FMIA.
Today, more than 7,600 FSIS inspection program personnel are assigned to about 6,000 federally inspected meat, poultry and egg products facilities in the United States to ensure products are safe, wholesome and accurately labeled. FSIS also inspects each shipment of imported meat and poultry from qualified countries to ensure U.S. food safety requirements are met.
FSIS incorporates the results of more than 90,000 microbiological tests annually for E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes to further the goal of preventing contamination and protecting public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has attributed significant declines in rates of illness from foodborne pathogens to the implementation of FSIS food safety regulations.
The centennial celebration featured a documentary video chronicling the history of meat inspection and food safety. The video incorporated historic photographs and artifacts, as well as footage from the Johnson and Eisenhower administrations, in telling the colorful and historically significant history of U.S. meat inspection and food safety from 1906 through the present day.
FSIS has also honored the centennial anniversary of the FMIA with a Web page dedicated to the people and complex history of inspection. The people, the policies and the evolution of FSIS' authorities, and its relationship to other Agencies within USDA, are detailed in an entertaining format. The Web page can be found at:

Poll shows most Japanese consumers don't want U.S. beef
by Ann Bagel on 6/29/2006 for
The Japanese government has agreed to resume U.S. beef imports pending a round of U.S. plant inspections, but most Japanese consumers appear to disagree with the decision.
A telephone survey of 1,965 randomly selected adults conducted by the Asahi newspaper June 24-25 revealed that 52 percent of respondents rejected reopening Japan's market to U.S. beef. Thirty-seven percent they would accept such a move. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed said they did not want to eat U.S. beef even if imports resumed. Twenty-three percent said they did. The survey did not give a margin of error.

K-State researchers discover houseflies in fast-food restaurants carry antibiotic-resistant bacteria
Kansas State University
Ludek Zurek
MANHATTAN -- Those annoying houseflies buzzing around your meal at a fast-food restaurant may be more than a nuisance -- they also may pose a health threat.
According to researchers at Kansas State University, the flies can carry and have the capacity to transfer antibiotic-resistant and potentially virulent bacteria to your food.
Ludek Zurek, a K-State assistant professor of entomology, and Lilia Macovei, an entomology research associate, wrote about their findings in the June 2006 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
Resistance to antibiotics is a serious concern because the number of antibiotics effective at treating human infections continues to decline.
It's a concern, according to the researchers, that may extend to the food supply as well.
Zurek and Macovei cite the two main sources of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are places where antibiotics are used the most: in clinical settings and in the agricultural industry, which heavily uses antibiotics to promote growth of poultry, swine and cattle.
"That causes a great selective pressure on bacteria," Zurek said. "As a result, we very often find antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the feces of domestic animals. Since houseflies develop in decaying organic material, especially in animal manure, we looked at the gut of these flies to see what kind of microbes, in terms of antibiotic resistance, they carry."
Zurek said Enterococci bacteria are commonly found in animal and human digestive tracts, and are known for their multi-antibiotic resistance. Two of its 26 species, Enterococcus faecalis and Enterococcus faecium, are responsible for the majority of human infections, he said.
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Food safety - E. coli O157 H7 and interventions
National Cattlemen's Beef Association
Government Affairs Centre (USA)
The incidence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 prevalence in beef products and the rate of illnesses continue to decline. The beef industry remains committed to further reducing and eventually eliminating E. coli 0157:H7.
NCBA continues to encourage collaboration between USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), USDA¡¯s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), and the industry on beef safety research efforts.
As research develops new intervention technologies, FSIS and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) need to have a streamlined process for approvals of these new technologies. FSIS and FDA need to continue to work together for faster approvals of new technologies to improve food safety procedures. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) also now plays a role as they will be the agency to review approval requests on vaccines for E. coli 0157:H7 at pre-harvest.
USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service announced February 28, 2005, that the percentage of E. coli O157:H7 positive ground beef samples collected in 2004 fell by 43.3 percent when compared to 2003 and has declined 80 percent since 2000. A report released April 2005 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and USDA showed that the overall incidence of E. coli O157:H7 cases has declined 42 percent since 1996. The CDC also reports that the drop in E. coli illnesses meets the U.S. Healthy People 2010 goal six years ahead of schedule. CDC says ¡°these improvements likely reflect industry efforts to reduce E. coli O157 in live cattle and during slaughter.¡±
NCBA most recently hosted its Beef Industry Safety Summit April 18-20, 2006 in Jacksonville, Fla. The Summit originated in as the Beef Industry E. coli Summit in January 2003 to address the industry¡¯s plan to continue to fight against foodborne pathogens and has been held consecutively each year. Participants discuss and develop industry-wide science-based strategies, research and ¡°best practices¡± aimed at making beef even safer. The summits convene representatives from all cattle and beef industry segments including cattle production, fabrication, processing, retail and foodservice.
Key Points
¡¤ Reports release recently by USDA¡¯s Food Safety Inspection Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show a substantial decline in the overall incidence of E. coli O157:H7 cases.
¡¤ The CDC also reports that the drop in E. coli illnesses meets the U.S. Healthy People 2010 goal six years ahead of schedule.
¡¤ CDC says ¡°these improvements likely reflect industry efforts to reduce E. coli O157 in live cattle and during slaughter.¡±
¡¤ Since 1993, NCBA has invested $20 million in checkoff dollars on research into new interventions at pre- and post-harvest to further reduce the presence of E. coli O157:H7 and significant progress has been made.

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Some Limited Success Removing Acrylamide From Food
Source of Article:
Mon 26-Jun-2006
Scientists are making progress in reducing the levels of the potentially cancer-causing acrylamide from foods like potato chips, but reducing its presence in coffee is still a challenge, according to food science experts meeting here at the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting + FOOD EXPO¢ç.
Newswise ? Scientists are making progress in reducing the levels of the potentially cancer-causing acrylamide from foods like potato chips, but reducing its presence in coffee is still a challenge, according to food science experts meeting here at the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting + FOOD EXPO¢ç.
Acrylamide, a chemical found in potato chips, French fries, coffee, and bread, was the center of a worldwide health scare in 2002 after a European study found it was formed in some foods that were fried or baked at high temperatures. Since then, scientists have tried to find ways to reduce acrylamide from food without destroying their taste and quality.
Researchers now believe they can reduce or remove before cooking some of the compounds that help form acrylamide during baking or frying.
¡°[F]or certain applications, [this] is a very promising approach,¡± said Richard Stadler, head of quality management at Nestle. Reducing acrylamide in coffee, on the other hand, has always been a challenge, he said.
Michael Pariza, director of the Food Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin, said there¡¯s yet been no single all-encompassing method found for reducing acrylamide while preserving quality. But he says the problem must be taken in context.
There are thousands of compounds in food that are potential carcinogenic, he said. But that doesn¡¯t mean they¡¯re dangerous. ¡°We need to keep this in perspective,¡± Pariza said.
James Coughlin, a food toxicology expert from California, said a recent study in Germany of three men and three women given potato chips containing acrylamide found that more than half of the compound was excreted in their urine. Coughlin said the results were encouraging, but regulators don¡¯t care as much about the positive studies as they do about the negative ones.
¡°I think there¡¯s something wrong with that,¡± Coughlin said.

1,500 suffer illness from school lunch (South Korea)
The Korea Times/Yonhap News (Korea)
More than 1,500 students at 22 schools in Seoul, Inchon and Kyonggi Province have, according to these stories, gotten sick after eating school meals supplied by the nation¡¯s biggest food provider, CJ Food System.
The number of victims is the largest ever in school-lunch related illness in South Korea.
The education authorities yesterday ordered 68 schools in the region to stop providing students with foods delivered by CJ. Thus, about 70,000 students of the schools now have to take lunch from home.
Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook is scheduled to preside over an emergency meeting Friday to address the issue. She is expected to receive a briefing and discuss ways of preventing the recurrence of similar incidents.

Officials Determine What Sickened 35 Boy Scouts At Camp
Wed Jun 28
Source of Article:
Officials now know what made some Boy Scouts sick at camp in Westmoreland County last week.
Health officials said it was the stomach flu -- the norovirus (click for more information: ).
The virus spreads through fecal matter.
Thirty Scouts and their leaders at camp Twin Echo fell ill, although only one left camp early.
All have since recovered.

23 kids now confirmed as having had salmonella
Metro West Daily News (MA)
Danielle Williamson
FRANKLIN -- Department of Public Health spokeswoman Donna Rheaume was cited as saying the state continues to scrutinize a pet turtle and owl pellets while trying to nail down the cause of a salmonella outbreak at Jefferson Elementary School, adding, "Originally, 40 to 50 kids were sick, and we've confirmed 23 cases through stool samples. We're testing the owl pellets and turtle water to see if we can grow salmonella from the cultures."
Rheaume said the state likely will pinpoint the cause next week although the state quickly ruled out cafeteria food as the culprit.

Listeria detected in Spring Hill cheeses -- CDFA issues order to withdraw products; No illnesses reported
Community Dispatch
PETALUMA - The California Department of Food and Agriculture has issued an order to Spring Hill Cheese Co. to withdraw from retail distribution all varieties of cheese and cheese curds manufactured at their farmstead facility in Petaluma, due to detection of Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.
CDFA inspectors found the bacteria as a result of product testing conducted during an extensive investigation of the facility after the company's "Jersey Jack" cheese was ordered removed from retail shelves a week ago based on bacteria detected in a routine sample collected by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The withdrawal order involves removal of several thousand pounds of cheese from grocery stores, retail outlets and farmers markets throughout California and includes the following Spring Hill Cheese Co. varieties labeled as: Jersey Jack, Monterey Jack, Mike's Firehouse Jack, Garlic Jack, Horseradish Jack, Sun-Dried Tomato Jack, Zesty Italian Jack, Pesto Jack, Teleme Jack, Dry Jack, Sage Cheddar, Garlic Cheddar, White Cheddar, Old World Portuguese Cheese, and all packaged cheese curds. The cheeses are sold in 8-lb wheels, 8-oz wedges and blocks of a variety of sizes.
The company's cheeses labeled as Colby Jack, Veggie Jack, Colby Cheddar, Mike's Firehouse Cheddar, Jersey Cheddar or Feta, are manufactured at a separate facility and are not affected by the order. Cheeses or curds marked with a white product code sticker starting with the numbers 173 or higher are also not subject to withdrawal. No illnesses have been reported to date.
Listeria monocytogenes may cause listeriosis among "at risk" people, including pregnant women, newborns, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, and sometimes nausea or diarrhea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache and stiff neck can occur. Infected pregnant women may experience only a mild, flu-like illness; however, infections during pregnancy can lead to more serious problems for the fetus. If a related illness is suspected, consumers are encouraged to consult a physician immediately.
Consumers should discard the cheese or return it to the place of purchase for a refund. California consumers who have purchased Spring Hill Co. cheese may call the company at 707-762-3446 with questions about the product withdrawal.

"Green" Catalyst Takes on Hormones in Wastewater
By Jan Suszkiw
June 29, 2006
Hydrogen peroxide is best known for its bubbly cleansing of minor cuts and scrapes. But combining it with an enzyme-like catalyst called Fe-TAML also produces reactions that break down dyes, pesticides and other wayward chemicals that have become environmental pollutants. Now, the dynamic duo's powers of degradation may include neutralizing hormones in municipal and agricultural wastewater, an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist reports today. Speaking at an American Chemical Society meeting in Washington, D.C., ARS animal physiologist Nancy Shappell discussed the results of a laboratory study in which she combined Fe-TAML with hydrogen peroxide to break down estradiol, a natural form of the female hormone estrogen, and ethinylestradiol, a synthetic version used in contraceptives. Fe-TAML is short for iron tetra-amido macrocyclic ligand. Shappell's collaborators are Terry Collins and Colin Horwitz with Carnegie Mellon University's Institute for Green Oxidation Chemistry in Pittsburgh, Pa., where Fe-TAML was developed; and Patrick Hunt and Kyoung Ro with the ARS Coastal Plains Soil, Water and Plant Research Center, Florence, S.C.
According to Shappell, with the ARS Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center in Fargo, N.D., the study dovetails with growing concern that hormones?whether flushed into sewage or excreted by livestock?can disrupt the endocrine systems of fish, other wildlife and potentially humans. While wastewater treatment plants remove most pollutants, contamination of surface and groundwater can still occur, notes Shappell, who is in the Fargo center's Animal Metabolism-Agricultural Chemicals Research Unit. Ethinylestradiol is particularly worrisome because it is more resistant than estradiol to degradation by microbes and other natural processes. But in Shappell's lab experiments, hydrogen-peroxide reactions spurred by Fe-TAML made short work of the hormone. Indeed, more than 95 percent of it degraded within five minutes' exposure to the reaction. Estradiol met a similar fate, adds Shappell, who used high-performance liquid chromatography and tandem mass-spectrometry analysis to confirm the results.
In the next step, she'll team with the Florence lab to test Fe-TAML on hormones in effluent from hog-farm lagoons.
ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.

Are Your Cleaning Procedures Removing Allergens?
TECRA Aller-tect¢â is a simple and very sensitive swab test for the detection of protein residues. Checking for removal of protein residues after cleaning can quickly identify contamination. As the majority of allergens are proteins, if a surface is found to be protein-free, it is also free of those allergens.
TECRA Aller-tect has been validated for a range of allergens and approximate limits of detection for each have been determined.
Aller-tect requires little technical training and is ideal for use in a production facility. Simply swab, click, heat and read!
Sensitive results make this a reliable tool to include in any Allergen Management Plan and can be used in conjunction with the TECRA Allergen VIA kits (for testing specific allergens), for a complete allergen testing solution.
In addition to Allergen testing, Biotrace International offers a complete line of the products needed to check the safety and quality of food production processes; including rapid pathogen and toxin tests, products for environmental and carcass sampling, dilution and enrichment and ATP testing that gives a ¡°real time¡± assessment of plant sanitation.
For more information about the new Aller-tect swab and the full range of Biotrace Industrial microbiology products, visit the Biotrace website or use the contact details at the top of this page.

Organic food not much safer, study finds
Chicago Tribune
Source of Article:
CHICAGO - Antibiotic-free foods are not necessarily safer, according to an Institute of Food Technologists study to be released today.
The study, conducted by a panel of food scientists and microbiologists, aims for the heart of the marketing campaigns in the past decade by organic-food advocates who have suggested there is on overuse of antibiotics and that antibiotic-free foods are better for human consumption.
One such group is the Organic Trade Association, based in Greenfield, Mass., which represents many of the nation's organic food producers. The association cites 10 studies from 2000 and 2001 of antibiotic use in farming to support its stand that antibiotics have been abused by American farmers. "What we are trying to do is bring a balance to the discussion," said Michael Doyle, chairman of the panel assembled by the Chicago-based Institute of Food Technologists and a professor and director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia. "The study does raise questions about those groups using this as a basis for their promotion of organic and natural products." The study comes at a time the sales of organic products are skyrocketing, rising to $14 billion in 2005 from $6 billion in 2000, according to data compiled by the Organic Trade Association. Doyle and the Institute of Food Technologists say they don't dismiss concerns about overuse of antibiotics or antimicrobials, such as cleaners and disinfectants. However, they warn against reducing the levels of antibiotic use in food production, saying eliminating those drugs may have little effect on bacteria that might develop resistance to antibiotic treatment but would hurt animal health and food production. "The fact is that if we cut back on antibiotics in animals raised in food production we would see a marked increase in food costs because we're going to have a lot of animals we're not able to treat effectively," he said. Overuse by humans, not regular use in animals, creates strains of resistant bacteria that hurt humans, the panel found.

"Prior human exposure to antibiotics is the greatest factor for acquiring an infection with antibiotic-resistant bacteria," said Doyle, not routine treatment of animals with antibiotics.
Unlike previous studies that were narrowly focused, Doyle said, the institute's examination explores 20 years' worth of research into antibiotic and antimicrobial resistance.
Barbara Haumann, a spokeswoman for the Organic Trade Association, said the group is not trying to make safety claims.
"It is not that foods are safer," she said, adding that the organization has not updated the list of studies since assembling it in 2002.
But "the overuse of animal antibiotics does lead to superstrains of antibiotic resistant bacteria," she said. "Organic producers chose not to routinely use antibiotics because the studies have shown a concern."
Doyle said animal antibiotics may actually make food safer to eat in some instances.
"If you go to the grocery store, about 50 percent are contaminated with campylobacter. It is even higher with free-range chickens," which are not raised in chicken houses and do not get injections, he said. Campylobacter -- the bacteria most likely to give Americans food poisoning -- is killed if chicken is prepared properly. Still, Doyle and the group said they are not trying to change the eating habits of Americans. "People have their preference. It is not our goal to dissuade people from buying organic or natural foods," he said. "We want to put the entire picture in perspective so people can better appreciate the big picture and the science behind it," he said.

Mad cow II: The social disease
Wall Street Journal
Holman W. Jenkins Jr., a member of the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal, writes that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been determined to keep mad cow a matter of government-to-government diplomacy. Now comes the payoff in the form of a recent agreement that has Japanese government inspectors descending on U.S. meatpacking plants, snapping photos and judging whether their output is fit for Japanese consumption.
This might seem, from the point of view of bureaucratic amour propre, to be ceding a precious piece of USDA's sovereignty to foreigners. But -- hooray! -- at least government bureaucrats remain in charge. The alternative, unbearable even to contemplate, would have been to leave it to private buyers and sellers to reach their own terms.
That was the terrible danger posed by Creekstone Farms. It had assayed the collective appetite of the Japanese and proposed testing each animal for mad cow before shipping beef to Japan. No, the expense is hardly justified by the risk. But Japan has instituted universal testing for its own beef and blocked imports of foreign beef that doesn't adhere to the same standard. Retail beef prices promptly blasted off in Japan, reaching an average of $27.80 per pound. Creekstone saw this and naturally would like to help itself to some of this money.
The story goes on to conclude that mad cow fears seem destined to be with us a while yet, and somebody will make a lot of money selling beef stamped "guaranteed mad cow free." But notice that USDA, its foreign counterparts and the beef industry are all fighting the last war. The vector of future troubles decidedly isn't from cows, but from human carriers.

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