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Why Listeriosis rates are 20-fold higher during pregnancy
RxPG News
National Institutes of Health
PLoS Pathogens, reviewed by: Dr. Priya Saxena
"It's rare for a pregnant woman to get infected, but once she is, she can't clear the infection unless the placenta is expelled."
For years, doctors have puzzled over why pregnant women are 20 times more likely than others to be infected by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, now think they have the answer, and it isn't pretty.
Their research, conducted in guinea pigs, shows that the bacteria can invade the placenta, where - protected from the body's immune system - they proliferate rapidly before pouring out to infect organs such as the liver and spleen. The illness they cause often results in miscarriage or infection of the fetus.
The study is the first to trace such a pathway of infection, and it dashes the widely-held assumption that immune-system changes during pregnancy are to blame for elevated Listeria infection rates.
"The reason the mother is more susceptible is not necessarily because her immune system is compromised, but because the bacteria that got into her placenta are infecting her," said Anna Bakardjiev, the study's lead author and a postdoctoral researcher with Daniel Portnoy, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at UC Berkeley. "The miscarriages that result from these infections may be a natural defense mechanism to dispel this source of infection."
The study will be posted on June 30 in the June issue of the online journal PLoS Pathogens.
Listeriosis is a foodborne illness caused by Listeria monocytogenes. Every year in the United States, about 2,500 people fall seriously ill with the disease. About one in three cases occur in pregnant women, and about one in five of all cases results in death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Apart from pregnant women, the illness primarily affects infants and people with compromised immune systems.
Fever, muscle aches and sometimes gastrointestinal problems are among listeriosis's most common symptoms. In pregnant women, however, the symptoms are often mild, yet the illness frequently causes miscarriage, stillbirth or premature delivery. Babies that are born to infected mothers are often themselves infected, and many die.
From their earlier work, Portnoy and Bakardjiev knew that Listeria bacteria could not easily infect the placenta but, once there, could not be effectively eliminated. For this study, they wanted to know how the bacteria were able to invade the placenta in the first place: Their hypothesis was that the pathogens first infected organs such as the liver and moved from there to the placenta, an organ that, once infected, provides a protective niche for pathogens.
Bakardjiev, who is a pediatric infectious diseases specialist, chose guinea pigs for these studies because of similarities between the placentas of these rodents and women. Pregnant guinea pigs and women also respond similarly to Listeria infection, exhibiting few symptoms, yet almost invariably miscarrying.
To induce infection, Bakardjiev injected the pregnant guinea pigs with Listeria. When she examined the animals' organs, she found that for every bacterium present in the placenta, there were 1,000 to 10,000 times as many in the liver and spleen, an indication that the placenta was fairly well protected from infection.
She then infected the animals with a mixture of two distinct strains of Listeria, adjusting the dose so low that placental infections resulted only half the time. When she examined the animals' placentas 24 hours after the injection, she found, with few exceptions, only one of the two bacterial strains. This told her that it had been a single bacterium that had infected the organ, and that what she was finding were its progeny.
In the liver and spleen, on the other hand, the bacterial strains were present in equal numbers 24 hours after injection.
After 48 hours, the picture changed. At that point, Bakardjiev found a mixture of both strains in the placenta. In the liver and spleen, however, the numbers were now strongly skewed toward whichever strain had originally infected the placenta.
"We reasoned that this meant that a few bacteria had migrated early on from the liver or spleen to the placenta, so now both strains were in the placenta and their populations were burgeoning," Bakardjiev said. "But there must have been a much larger number that had moved from the placenta back to the liver and spleen. These would have originally been just the single strain, so their numbers skewed the ratio."
Bakardjiev and Portnoy, who is the study's principal investigator, called on Julie Theriot, associate professor of biochemistry and of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine, to do the mathematical modeling for the bacterial migrations. Theriot determined that only about one bacterium migrated to the placenta every five hours, while it would have taken a migration of 100,000 bacteria from the placenta to the liver to skew the numbers to the degree they found. Thus, the vast majority of the bacteria in the placenta were a result of bacterial growth there and not from migrations from the liver and spleen.
"It was surprising to find that a single bacterium is sufficient to cause placental infection," Portnoy said, "but even more surprising to find that they (the bacteria) migrated from the placenta back to the mother's liver and spleen in such large numbers."
When Portnoy and Bakardjiev ran the same experiment in non-pregnant guinea pigs, they found that 72 hours after injection, the non-pregnant animals had 1,000-fold lower numbers of Listeria in their livers and spleens than the pregnant animals, and no bacteria in their bloodstreams. In contrast, pregnant animals at 72 hours had the bacteria in their livers, spleens and blood, while the bacterial numbers continued to increase in their placentas, and their fetuses had also become infected.
"I feel that these numbers are an indication that miscarriage is a defense mechanism," Bakardjiev said. "It's rare for a pregnant woman to get infected, but once she is, she can't clear the infection unless the placenta is expelled."
Portnoy and Bakardjiev are now studying how Listeria moves from the digestive tract to the placenta. "An understanding of these mechanisms," Portnoy said, "might contribute to designing methods for prevention and therapy of listeriosis in pregnant women."
The study was supported by funds from the National Institutes of Health. Anna Bakardjiev's work was also supported by a Career Development Award for physician scientists from the NIH.

FSIS requests cross-contamination information
by Ann Bagel on 7/7/2006 for
The Food Safety and Inspection Service wants information about cross-contamination by bacterial foodborne pathogens of foods that are not likely to undergo cooking or additional cooking in food handling and preparation. FSIS is interested in quantitative data from observation of retail and home food handlers related to behaviors that could lead to the transfer of bacteria from products of animal origin to foods that are not likely to undergo cooking or additional cooking and the frequency at which these behaviors occur. The agency intends to use information submitted for risk assessment modeling to estimate the public health impact of various bacterial foodborne pathogens in meat, poultry and egg products. Submissions must be received on or before Sept. 3, 2006. To review the entire notice, click here:

EFSA launches GM food consultation
By Anthony Fletcher
Source of Article:
07/07/2006 - EFSA has launched an open consultation on the approach of its panel on GMOs in assessing hybrid genetically modified (GM) crops.
The deadline for submissions is 10 September 2006.
At the same time, EFSA also plans to publish its final guidance document for the risk assessment of GM microorganisms, which has also been subject to an extensive public consultation process.
This is designed to act as an aid to applicants requesting authorisations for GM products and their derived products intended for food. The document provides guidance for the risk assessment of a broad spectrum of GMOs and derived products ranging from single compounds used in food (e.g. amino acids and vitamins) to products containing viable GMOs (e.g. probiotics and starter cultures for dairy products or beverages). All this, says EFSA, is in line with its commitment to openness and transparency and encouraging scientific input from all interested parties. But Europe continues to be heavily criticised in its approach to GM food regulation from outside sources. Francis Smith from the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington DC recently gave an interesting American perspective of the EU's attitude to GM food. She claimed it had little theoretical basis, and panders to the fears and prejudices of its citizens. She said that the EU's precautionary principle, which rules that regulators should err on the side of caution, assumes that a prevention strategy is always appropriate. A recent European Commission (EC) communique reads: 'decision-makers have to take into account fears generated by these perceptions and put in place preventative measures'. "There is little theoretical basis for this approach," argued Smith. "We're talking about regulations addressing perceptions and fears. Also, this is an approach that can never be satisfied - there'll always be someone who can think of yet one more theoretical risk." This has all led to a great deal of conflict. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) recently said that the "failure of other countries to develop consistent and science-based regulatory processes governing biotechnology has the potential to constrain innovation." But convincing both consumers and food makers operating in Europe that GM technology is both completely safe and profitable is likely to continue to prove tricky, however. In addition, EFSA, unlike the FDA in the US, has no teeth it is there to provide risk assessment, but the EC remains the authoritative body. In any case, EFSA plans to publish later a draft guidance document explaining how its GMO panel evaluates the potential human health and environmental effects of hybrid GM plants. This concerns hybrids obtained by combining two GM plants that have been previously assessed. This document will inform applicants of how its panel evaluates the potential interactions between the combined GM plants of the hybrids in terms of their toxicity, allergenicity, nutritional value and environmental impact and will describe what type of information and test results it expects applicants to deliver.

Acrylamide issue tackled at IFT
By Anthony Fletcher
Source of Article:
05/07/2006 - Acrylamide can be reduced or removed before cooking - but the issue remains a major challenge, scientists told last week's IFT conference. Scientists have tried to find ways of reducing acrylamide formation without destroying the taste and quality of the product. To date there has been no single all-encompassing method for achieving this, though scientists are confident that some progress has been made.
"International cooperation on this issue has been fantastic," said David Lineback, director, Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN) at the University of Maryland and a past president of the IFT." "The meeting in Austria last week showed this. But there is as yet no data available on humans, so we simply don't know, or can't explain some of the increases and decreases in acrylamide levels." Acrylamide hit the headlines in 2002 when scientists at the Swedish Food Administration first reported unexpectedly high levels of the potential carcinogen in carbohydrate-rich foods cooked at high temperatures. Until then acrylamide was known only as a highly reactive industrial chemical, present also at low levels for example in tobacco smoke.

Studies indicate that the chemical causes cancer in rats. Toxicological data suggested that this substance might be directly or indirectly - carcinogenic also for humans. The news, and surrounding controversy over the chemical, jolted the global food industry into tackling the issue by looking at ways processing can reduce the levels of acrylamide. Breakthroughs have been made. For example, it was reported at IFT last week that reducing sugar prior to frying or baking is one way of lowering levels. Researchers told delegates in Orlando that food makers could select sliced potato varieties with reduced levels of sugar, or preblanch their products to achieve reduced levels. Lowering pH has also been considered, but scientists generally agree that this ruins the taste of crisps and chips. Controlling acrylamide with lactic acid reduces pH levels and also reduces acrylamide formation. But scientists are yet to find a way of ensuring that this does not affect end product quality. In addition, Lineback said that many labs still face challenges, such as addressing the complex matrix of some ingredients such as cocoa.
"Improvements in some labs would appear to be a necessity," he said.
In Europe, the food industry is working with European Commission officials on a programme to monitor and reduce acrylamide levels in their products. Small working groups are also being set up develop information brochures, with the first meetings scheduled for September, the UK's Food Standards Agency said in a document issued this week. The current EU-wide effort follows a bid by the Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the EU (CIAA) to help its members reduce acrylamide in their products. The take home message from the IFT therefore is that there is still no single all-encompassing method of reducing acrylamide while still preserving product quality. "But it is now possible to identify strategies for reducing acrylamide without reducing qualities," said Lineback.
"However, we're not there yet."

Cadbury rapped over Salmonella scare
July 4, 2006
Ireland Online/BBC
The UK Food Standards Agency's independent advisory committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) was cited as saying today that Cadbury¡¯s method of Salmonella risk assessment could not be relied on for foods such as chocolate, adding in a statement after meeting to discuss the issue on Friday that, ¡°Based on the information provided, Cadbury appears to have used methods for product testing which the committee considered would underestimate the level and likelihood of Salmonella contamination."
The committee was further cited as saying that the company¡¯s risk assessment wrongly drew parallels between the threshold for Salmonella infection and the threshold for infection by other micro-organisms which can be found in chocolate.
Committee spokesman Professor Tom Humphrey was quoted as saying, "We think the testing methods were insufficiently up to date and insufficiently sensitive. We think they made a mistake in assuming there was a safe level of Salmonella in a product like chocolate. Our view is that there isn¡¯t."
In a statement, Cadbury's stressed that legislation left it up to manufacturers to determine testing protocols and that while its testing was based on sound science, it added that future procedures will be "improved" in light of Food Standards Agency advice, stating, "At all times we have acted in good faith and we do not challenge the views of the expert committee advising the FSA. We agree that it is their job to provide guidance on these matters and we welcome their advice. ...We will move to a protocol in which we destroy any product evidencing contamination, regardless of level."
During the ongoing investigation Cadbury's had revealed a previous contamination of its product with Salmonella montevideo in April 2002 - but these products had been destroyed.

Dissociation of pathological and molecular phenotype of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in transgenic human prion protein 129 heterozygous mice
June 29, 2006
PNAS Online Early Edition
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Emmanuel A. Asante, Jacqueline M. Linehan, Ian Gowland, Susan Joiner, Katie Fox, Sharon Cooper, Olufumilayo Osiguwa, Michelle Gorry, Julie Welch, Richard Houghton, Melanie Desbruslais, Sebastian Brandner, Jonathan D. F. Wadsworth, and John Collinge *
Medical Research Council Prion Unit and Department of Neurodegenerative Disease, Institute of Neurology, University College London, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, United Kingdom
Communicated by Charles Weissmann, The Scripps Research Institute, Jupiter, FL, May 26, 2006 (received for review February 16, 2006)
All neuropathologically confirmed cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), characterized by abundant florid plaques and type 4 disease-related prion protein (PrPSc) in the brain, have been homozygous for methionine at polymorphic residue 129 of PRNP. The distinctive neuropathological and molecular phenotype of vCJD can be faithfully recapitulated in Prnp-null transgenic mice homozygous for human PrP M129 but not V129, where a distinct prion strain is propagated. Here we model susceptibility of 129MV heterozygotes, the most common PRNP genotype, in transgenic mice and show that, remarkably, propagation of type 4 PrPSc was not associated with characteristic vCJD neuropathology. Depending on the source of the inoculum these mice can develop four distinct disease phenotypes after challenge with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) prions or vCJD (human-passaged BSE) prions. vCJD-challenged mice had higher attack rates of prion infection than BSE-challenged recipients. These data argue that human PRNP 129 heterozygotes will be more susceptible to infection with vCJD prions than to cattle BSE prions and may present with a neuropathological phenotype distinct from vCJD.
Author contributions: E.A.A. and J.C. designed research; E.A.A., J.M.L., I.G., S.J., K.F., S.C., O.O., M.G., J.W., R.H., M.D., and J.D.F.W. performed research; E.A.A., S.B., J.M.L., J.D.F.W., and J.C. analyzed data; and E.A.A., S.B., J.D.F.W., and J.C. wrote the paper.
Conflict of interest statement: J.C. is a director and J.C. and J.D.F.W. are shareholders and consultants of D-Gen Limited, an academic spin-out company working in the field of prion disease diagnosis, decontamination, and therapeutics. D-Gen markets one of the routine antibodies (ICSM 35) used in this study.

Protecting Ourselves From Shellfish Poisoning
By Silver, Mary Wilcox
Source of Article:
Molecular probes deployed by California scientists are just the latest weapons in our species' long battle with harmful algae
As the sun set over San Francisco Bay on July 15, 1927, area residents had plenty to talk about: Aviators Ernie Smith and Emory Bronte had just become the first to fly a single-engine aircraft, City of Oakland, 2,100 miles nonstop from Oakland to Hawaii. But the next day, a panic began to grip the area. Residents who had eaten mussels gathered along the beaches around San Francisco were falling gravely ill. That day the San Francisco Examiner reported the first two deaths on its front page. An alarm went out. Signs were posted along the beaches, and scientists and public- health officials got to work to understand what was happening. Thanks to the research that followed the San Francisco scare, shellfish poisoning is now rare in California. Indeed, a monitoring strategy developed in the state in response to the incident has saved countless lives around the world over the past eight decades. Scientists have learned a great deal about what can make shellfish and other aquatic organisms dangerous to eat, and this knowledge has been put to practical use in harvesting regulations, monitoring and food-testing programs and public education. At the same time, we've also learned that people have been protecting themselves from ingesting marine toxins for millennia and perhaps much longer. Today, even as modern technology is being harnessed to tackle this daunting and persistent problem, we find that ways of protecting ourselves from toxins in seafood likely have been a part of maritime cultures for thousands of years of human history and may even have roots in prehistoric culture.

Shellfish and Ancient Diets

What was happening on the beaches of San Francisco that warm July day, then, was anything but new. People living around the Pacific Ocean have always eaten shellfish, and consuming these filter- feeders has probably always posed certain risks. The San Francisco scare was one of the occasions that expanded our understanding of those risks.

Shellfish are easily harvested from shallow aquatic environments in much of the world, where they are proteinrich food for predators, including people. It is not surprising that evidence of their use is found throughout the archaeological record left in Africa by earlier hominids, Homo erectus and H. habilis, and by modern human beings. Along the waterways of the world's continents can be found the remains of shell mounds that, in association with the artifacts found with them, have led anthropologists to speculate that horninids ate shellfish, including mussels and other bivalve mollusks, possibly as early as one million years ago. Anatomically modern H. sapiens left sizable middens on coastal sites in Africa and at various locations in Eurasia, supplying good evidence that shellfish were collected more than 100,000 years ago.

Canada Confirms 6th Case of Mad Cow
Canada confirmed on Tuesday its sixth case of mad cow disease and said it would investigate where the cow was born and what other animals may have eaten the same feed. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said test results confirmed what was suspected last week. The animal was at least 15 years of age, and was born before Canada implemented restrictions on potentially dangerous feed in 1997.
The agency said it was launching an investigation.
Mad cow disease is believed to spread through feed, when cows eat the contaminated tissue of other cattle. Humans can get a related disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, in similar fashion -- by eating meat contaminated with mad cow. There have been more than 150 human deaths worldwide linked to the variant. Two of the six confirmed mad cow cases in Canada have involved animals that were infected after 1997, when a ban was instituted on the use of cattle parts in feed for cattle, or other ruminants such as sheep and goats. The agency says Canada's food supply is safe, and the level of mad cow disease in the national cattle herd is very low. Canada has an estimated national herd of 17 million cattle. U.S. Agriculture Department spokesman Ed Loyd said last week trade was resumed with Canada with the assumption that more mad cow cases would be found. Loyd said U.S. officials have ''a high level of confidence in the safeguards and mitigating measures in place in the U.S. and Canada.'' George Luterbach, an animal scientist with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, said the latest case should not have any repercussions internationally. ''It is unwelcome news but not necessarily unexpected news,'' Luterbach said, adding ''it should have little or no implications internationally.'' Having tested 60,000 cattle last year, Luberbach said the agency is confident that mad cow is not a common in Canada or something that is growing. Shipments of live cattle to the United States were halted in 2003 after the first reported mad cow case in Canada. Trade in young animals resumed last year, but there has been no word on when the border may be reopened to older animals.

Hugh Lynch-Ftaunton, president of the 90,000-member Canadian Cattlemen's Association, said some Asian and European countries may wait to see the final report on the latest case before reopening their borders to Canadian cattle. ''Some of the countries that are on the verge of dealing with us differently will probably want to study the report on this and that might slow it down marginally but I don't think it's going to be make or break,'' Lynch-Ftaunton said. Last month, Canada announced it was broadening restrictions on animal feed in an effort to fight mad cow disease. The Agency revealed measures, to be phased in over the next year, aimed at keeping potentially risky cattle parts from all animal feed, not just feed destined for cows. The parts will also be banned from pet food and fertilizers to avoid the risk of inadvertent cross-contamination of feed on farms and ranches. 7-5-06

'Norwalk-like' illness fells 65 at hockey camp: Gastrointestinal bug forces lakeside site to close down temporarily for disinfection (CANADA)
Globe & Mail
Tenille Bonoguore
A summer hockey camp north of Huntsville, Ontario, has been shut down after an outbreak of an unidentified gastrointestinal illness struck 65 of the 300 campers and staff this week.
North Bay and District Health Unit medical officer Catherine Whiting was cited as saying health officers are now investigating the cause of the illness, with preliminary findings pointing to a food-borne "Norwalk-like" virus that is passed through contact with feces and that no new illnesses have been reported since Wednesday night.
The camp's assistant director, Mike Wolfraim, was cited as saying the site was being disinfected in preparation to reopen on Tuesday, adding, "This was not expected, obviously, but it's one of those situations you just have to deal with."
Ontario Camping Association executive director Aruna Ogale was cited as saying all member camps must comply with the OCA's health committee standards and that the hockey camp had followed all the correct procedures in clamping down on the illness and contacting parents, adding, "If they're our members, they have to be willing to toe the line. We visit on a regular basis, and if there's any change in personnel at senior levels, we visit right away."
But Ogale was further cited as saying there are no regulations over who can start camps, and not all sign up to the OCA and its guidelines, camps can vary greatly in standards.
A spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care was cited as saying that summer camps are exempt from the stringent food-premises regulations, coming under their recreational camp regulations that dictate minimal criteria and that training in proper food handling is not a requirement in that process. Minimum standards are set for food preparation, the training to provide that was voluntary and local health units were only required to provide courses if requested.
Dr. Whiting was further cited as saying that while such illness outbreaks are uncommon, said it was a timely reminder for parents to scrutinize exactly where they send children for the summer, adding, "As a parent, you might want to know about the conditions at the camp. You might want to ask about the water and food preparation. It's the same risk assessment as when you're travelling anywhere."
Dr. Whiting said the case also reinforces the need for correct hand-washing and hygienic food preparation.

Illness Linked to Unpasteurized Cheese Curds
People Advised Not to Eat Raw Milk Products

MADISON - State health officials are advising individuals to avoid eating unpasteurized cheese curds produced by Wesley Lindquist of Highbridge, Wisconsin. More than 40 people have exhibited symptoms of nausea, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping, fever and occasionally vomiting after eating the white cheese curds produced by Lindquist. People began getting sick between May 24 - June 2, 2006. Stool samples from six of the ill individuals were tested at the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene and the presence of Campylobacter jejuni was confirmed in all six specimens.
The strains of Campylobacter jejuni detected in the human stool, the cheese curds, and the raw milk used to produce the curds, were matched by DNA testing and case investigations. Campylobacter jejuni bacteria causes nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, fever and vomiting. On rare occasions, the bacteria can cause more severe complications such as temporary arthritis or paralysis, generally after the initial symptoms have disappeared. Anyone who has exhibited these symptoms and has recently consumed unpasteurized milk or dairy products should contact their health care provider. Your doctor should collect a stool sample before giving you any antibiotics to ensure the Campylobacter strain is not resistant to antibiotics. To prevent spreading Campylobacter bacteria, follow proper hand washing procedures and wash down surfaces with an antibacterial agent. The bacteria can be shed in your stool for up to seven weeks, so following the proper hand
washing and disinfecting procedures is extremely important.
Selling or distributing raw milk and raw milk products is illegal in Wisconsin. Lindquist has been ordered to stop production of the cheese curds, as well as all dairy manufacturing activity.
Anyone who has cheese curds produced by Lindquist - which are distributed in unlabeled clear baggies - should contact the Ashland Health Department so further testing can be done on the dairy product. The Ashland County Health Department is continuing to interview individuals who have gotten sick, as well as collecting specimens of both cheese curds and stool samples.
The Ashland County Health and Human Services Department, the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services (Division of Public Health), and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (Division of Food Safety) are collaborating in this ongoing investigation. 7/6/06

Norovirus outbreak reaches 772 cases
Jul 1, 2006
Source of Article:
The number of infections from norovirus, which causes flulike symptoms, has reached 772 cases, according to the Sonoma County Public Health Department.
Since the outbreak began in mid-March, 16 care facilities have reported patients with symptoms of the norovirus, but the county has refused to name them until 48 hours pass without a new case being reported, when the outbreak will be considered over. "The number in the past week were 26 cases. It has gotten down to a steady level, which may be the normal background level and we are just watching it more carefully," said Dr. Leigh Hall, deputy public health officer.
Hall also cautions that the number of cases may be inflated because patients are not being tested and are being counted if they display any of the symptoms. Facilities are required to report an outbreak of any diarrhea-related infection.
He said that two long-term care facilities Thursday each reported three possible new cases of the virus.
Elderly patients at long-term care facilities are particularly susceptible to the infection because it spreads rapidly in close living quarters. - Bob Norberg

9 Miss Florida contestants hospitalized after bout with diarrhea, nausea
05.jul.06 (Florida)
MIAMI -- Nine contestants in the Miss Florida beauty pageant were hospitalized Tuesday evening after complaining of diarrhea and nausea.
The contestants were staying at the Hilton near Miami International Airport. Miami-Dade fire-rescue officials said the contestants might have eaten some undercooked chicken at the hotel the day before

School shut as 22 people catch E coli (UK)
This is Local London
Twenty-two people at Hayes Primary School, George Lane, Hayes, UK, have, according to this story, contracted the potentially fatal E. coli O157 bacteria strain.
Nine others are showing symptoms of the infectious gastroenteritis, which can be fatal to toddlers, young children and the elderly.
Pupils and staff have given samples to the Health Protection Agency for analysis.
They will only be able to return to the school if their sample comes back negative for E coli O157.
South east London health protection unit director Dr Rachel Heathcock was quoted as saying, "We are working closely with Bromley Council's environmental health department to try and identify the source of these infections. As it is possible we may not locate the source, health protection measures, including closing the school while it is deep cleaned, are vital to help reduce the possibility of person to person transmission."

Cadbury recall update 6 July 2006

Rosemary may protect flavour in convenience meats
By Stephen Daniells Source of Article:

04/07/2006 - Adding a touch of rosemary to minced meat before high-pressure processing could stop the flavour loss associated with this anti-microbial treatment, say Brazilian and Danish researchers.
"Addition of 0.1 per cent dried rosemary to minced chicken thighs or breasts prior to high-pressure processing inhibit lipid oxidation during subsequent cooking and could form the basis for product development," wrote lead author Neura Bragagnolo in the journal Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies (doi: 10.1016/j.ifset.2006.04.005). Although the rosemary extract market is growing, one problem is that the ingredient is still considered to be a flavour and not an antioxidant, even though it is often used as such. Many producers believe that this should be changed to reflect current market practices. Some authorities such as the French have recognised this fact, though European legislation has been slow to catch up. "High-pressure processing has a great potential for microbial control of raw chicken meat as a "fresh" chill-stored, convenience product for wok cooking," explained Bragagnolo. "While raw chicken meat is oxidatively stable, high-pressure treatment at 600 MPa and above induces lipid oxidation resulting in off-flavors during subsequent cooking." The researchers, from the State University of Campinas in Brazil and the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University in Denmark, investigated the effect of a high pressure processing treatment and subsequent cooking (95 degrees Celsius) on the formation of lipid oxidation products of minced chicken thigh and breast meat with and without prior addition of rosemary (0.1 per cent, Thorslunde, Denmark). Electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy was used to quantify lipid oxidation in the minced chicken meat. After 10 hours of storage, the researchers found that the level of lipid oxidation was significantly lower in the rosemary treated meats. For the thigh meat, addition of rosemary was associated with a 55 per cent reduction, according to the ESR signal, while breast meat with rosemary was associated with a 42 per cent reduction, compared to the meat without rosemary. "Rosemary showed accordingly a clear antioxidative effect in pressure-processed samples after a subsequent heat treatment and rosemary was found both to inhibit the radical formation and the subsequent lipid peroxidation and oxygen consumption," reported the researchers.

The differences between the cuts of meat can be explained, say the researchers, by the fat content of the specific cuts. Breast meat is reported to have a higher content of polyunsaturated fatty acids than the thigh meat.
"It may now be concluded that addition of rosemary to the product prior to high-pressure treatment is effective in protecting against formation of "pressed-over-flavor" upon subsequent cooking," said the researchers.
The antioxidant activity of the herb is attributed to the phenolics diterpene compounds in the rosemary.
The market for rosemary extracts is already healthy. Suspicion over chemical-derived synthetic preservatives has pushed food makers to source natural preservatives such as rosemary extract instead, and market analysts Global Information pitch the global food preservative market at ¢æ422.7bn, reaching ¢æ522bn by 2008.
Vitiva claims to have a 70 per cent market share of the active ingredient market in Europe. However,this figure is disputed by Avignon-based Naturex, which reported a turnover of ¢æ34.8m for 2004, a growth of 23.7 per cent on the prior year.

Blue conveyor belt targeted at food processing market
By staff reporter Source of Article:

07/07/2006 - Habasit Rossi is colouring its processing equipment blue in a bid to meet demands for better safety from the food industry. The company, a subsidiary of Switzerland-based Habasit, has introduced a new conveyor belt with its blue Habilene coating for the food market. Coloured equipment allows processors to better trace back pieces that could possibly break off and contaminate food products. Habasit said it choose blue, as this colour rarely exists in foodstuffs. ¡°Other benefits include significantly improved product visibility and since blue material is less reflective than smooth white surfaces, there is far less interference with optoelectronic devices,¡± the company stated in a press release. Habasit said it worked closely with the industry in order to develop the blue range. Habasit recently introduced several new products to its existing range of blue polyurethane and silicone coated fabric belts.

¡°Newly released to the market is a conveyor belt with a blue Habilene coating, another solution within the poloyolefine coated Cleanline range, specifically developed to improve the release properties of sticky foodstuffs,¡± the company stated. The company also produces a oil and fat resistant PVC coating, coloured blue and branded as
ySAN. Blue-coated conveyor belts have been steadily gaining a higher share in bakery, biscuit, dairy, meat, fish and poultry processing plants because they provide better food hygiene, the company stated. The UK Habasit division of the company is based in Silsden near Keighley. The UK Rossi division offers a range of gearmotors and gear reducers.

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