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Internet Journal of Food Saety

7/14
2006
ISSUE:219

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Family Sues Stop & Shop over Child¡¯s E. coli Poisoning
Source of Article: http://www.marlerclark.com/news/stopshopecoli001.htm
CONCORD, NH (July 10, 2006) A lawsuit was filed Thursday against Quincy, Massachusetts-based Stop & Shop, a subsidiary of Ahold USA, on behalf of an eight-year-old boy who became ill with a severe E. coli O157:H7 infection after eating ground beef purchased at a Manchester, New Hampshire, Stop & Shop. Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm that has successfully represented hundreds of E. coli victims, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Hercules ¡°Eric¡± Tsirovakas and his parents, John and Christina Tsirovakas, of Epsom, New Hampshire. The complaint, which was filed in United States District Court in Concord, New Hampshire, seeks compensation for the family¡¯s significant medical-related expenses, economic losses, and for Eric¡¯s pain and suffering.
Eric consumed a hamburger made from ground beef purchased at Stop & Shop at a family barbecue on September 4, 2005. He subsequently became ill with an E. coli infection, experiencing painful abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. Eric was seen in the emergency room at Concord Hospital twice, and was admitted to the hospital on his second visit. Twenty-four hours after being admitted, he was transferred by ambulance to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC). Eric developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)*, a complication of E. coli O157:H7 infection, and spent 22 days in a pediatric intensive care unit at DHMC, undergoing several surgical procedures and eight rounds of kidney dialysis treatments after his kidneys shut down. Eric¡¯s medical bills to date total over $100,000.

¡°We filed this lawsuit after months of trying to discuss with Stop & Shop how to make matters right for Eric and his family,¡± said Denis Stearns, the Marler Clark partner who filed the lawsuit. ¡°Medical bills aside, the strain on the family was enormous. John, Christine, and their other children faced the possibility that Eric might not recover from his illness. John and Christine were forced to leave their two younger children with family members while they stayed with Eric at the hospital. And all of this was because of tainted meat.¡±
The City of Manchester Department of Health and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services conducted an investigation into the cause of Eric¡¯s E. coli infection. The Stop & Shop¡¯s meat department was cited for unsafe meat-handling practices, a ¡°critical violation,¡± and E. coli O157:H7 was found in uncooked hamburger patties made from ground beef purchased at Stop & Shop. Health officials concluded that the source of Eric¡¯s E. coli infection was contaminated ground beef purchased from Stop & Shop.
*Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome is a frightening illness that even in the best American medical facilities has a mortality rate of about 5%. About 50% of patients require dialysis due to kidney failure, 25% experience seizures, and 5% suffer from diabetes mellitus. The majority of HUS patients requires transfusion of blood products and develops complications common to the critically ill. Among survivors of HUS, about five percent will eventually develop end stage kidney disease, with the resultant need for dialysis or transplantation, and another five to ten percent experience neurological or pancreatic problems which significantly impair quality of life. See www.about-hus.com.
BACKGROUND: Marler Clark (www.marlerclark.com) has extensive experience representing victims of foodborne illnesses. William Marler represented Brianne Kiner in her $15.6 million settlement with Jack in the Box in 1993. In 1998, Marler Clark resolved Odwalla Juice E. coli outbreak cases for five families whose children developed HUS and were severely injured after consuming contaminated apple juice for a reported $12 million. The firm has litigated dozens of E. coli cases against supermarket chain stores, including Albertson¡¯s, BJ¡¯s Wholesale Club, Cub Foods, Price Chopper, and Supervalu. Marler Clark is working with David McGrath of Sheehan Phinney Bass & Green, PA, on the case.

Day-care kids' illness likely from E. coli
13.jul.06
Columbus Telegram
Nelson Lampe
http://www.columbustelegram.com/articles/2006/07/12/ap-state-ne/
OMAHA, Neb. - Health investigators are, according to this story, trying to find out how at least four children who attended the same day-care center contracted diarrhea from what probably was E. coli.
The four toddlers all were attending the Here Wee Grow center in Sidney.
Two of the children remain hospitalized. The four range in age from 9 to 18 months.
Dr. Tom Safranek, the state epidemiologist, was quoted as saying, "We have no idea how it first got into the day-care center. We're trying to define how big an outbreak of diarrhea it was. It's most likely E. coli, but we haven't established that yet," Safranek said. "I don't know that I ever will. ¡¦ Day-care center operations have to anticipate that kids with infectious diarrhea will show up, and they have to have a protocol to deal with it."
Safranek said he didn't know whether the Here Wee Grow center was prepared for the outbreak. But, he said, his long-distance impression was "that it's really a highly professional operation."
Melody Leisy, emergency response coordinator for the Panhandle Public Health District, was cited as saying the center has not been fined or previously admonished for any health violations.

Schools closed as 41 struck down in latest E.coli outbreak (UK)
13.jul.06
24dash.com
Press Association 2006
Jon Land
http://www.24dash.com/content/news/viewNews.php?navID=47&newsID=8054
The UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) was cited as saying today that two schools have been closed after an outbreak of E.coli struck down 41 people, mostly children.
A total of 39 cases - including 37 children - linked to Hayes Primary School, in Bromley, south London, have been confirmed as the potentially-fatal E.coli O157 strain and there are a further two suspected cases.
Two cases - both children - linked to Parklands Nursery, Bromley, have also been confirmed.
Hayes Primary School was closed on June 30 and Parklands Nursery closed voluntarily last Wednesday.
Dr Rachel Heathcock, South East London Health Protection Unit Director, was quoted as saying, "Unfortunately, with E.coli O157 there is always a risk of transmission to family members, and we have advised the siblings of all known cases to stay at home from schools, nurseries and playgroups. We will continue to work closely with Hayes Primary School, Parklands Nursery and Bromley Council's environmental health department to try and identify the source of these infections. In the meantime, control measures including closing the school and nursery while they are cleaned reduce the possibility of person-to-person transmission."
The outbreak comes after 24 people were struck down with the bug in Leeds. A five-year-old girl and an 82-year-old woman were among those affected by the potentially-fatal E.coli O157 strain, centred on a butcher's shop in the city.

Tainted potato salad linked to more illnesses: 35 sickened at 2 catered events in Lucas County
11.jul.06
The Blade, Toledo, Ohio
Knight-Ridder Tribune
Erica Blake
The Toledo-Lucas County health department was cited as saying yesterday that ontaminated potato salad that made about 100 people sick in the Bowling Green area also was the likely source of a food-borne illness that affected as many as 35 more people at two other catered events.
Alan Ruffell, the health department's director of environmental health, was cited as saying that the same potato salad that led health inspectors to Nick & Jimmy's Bar & Grill, 4956 Monroe St., was believed to have been served at an office lunch party on June 16 and a g raduation party June 17 -- both held in Lucas County.
Those who became ill at the two Lucas County parties are in addition to the nearly 100 people sickened June 15 at a graduation party in Wood County.
The Ohio Department of Health, which is investigating the complaint, found that eight stool samples from people who ate the potato salad tested positive for Norovirus.
According to the Wood County health department, the potato salad served at the gatherings tested "fairly high for fecal coliform."
Public health officials said the potato salad was most likely contaminated when a food service employee failed to wash his or her hands after using the restroom.
Restaurant owner Nick Tokles was cited as saying the Ohio Department of Health reported to him that the tests could not verify whether the virus was animal or human and that vegetables are often grown using manure-based fertilizers and the problem could have been from the improper washing of carrots or celery before being added to the potato salad, adding, "They cannot tell you it was done through humans or if it was animal," he said of the health department. They can speculate, but they cannot prove it."
Mr. Tokles was cited as saying he has been in the restaurant business most of his life, including 27 years at the Monroe Street location and that he has catered numerous events and served the potato salad to thousands of people without problems.
The story notes that in response to the initial complaint, the Toledo-Lucas County health department inspected Nick & Jimmy's Monroe Street location on June 16 and found 35 violations, including 12 that were labeled critical. A June 27 follow-up inspection found only three violations, of which two were critical.
On June 28, the health department issued a public health order to "cease and desist" all catering operations because the restaurant is not a licensed caterer.
Mr. Ruffell added that the health department has "not ruled out anything as far as penalties."

USDA posts guide to pre-harvest security

I-D-P-H says norovirus caused outbreak at Special Olympics

Source of Article: http://www.whotv.com/Global/story.asp?S=5127780&nav=menu100_2
DES MOINES, Iowa Samples from individuals who became ill during the Special Olympics U-S-A National . in Ames have tested positive for norovirus. At least 30 people were treated yesterday for vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. The Iowa Department of Public Health says norovirus is a common cause of viral gastroenteritis, also known as the stomach flu.
Outbreaks are normally associated with food and water.
The Special Olympics held its closing ceremonies last night. Officials are concerned that people heading home this weekend will bring the sickness with them. More than 30-thousand people from across the country attended the six-day event in central Iowa.
IDPH Director Mary Mincer Hansen says that norovirus can be spread from person to person, especially among family members. At least ten people have been hospitalized. Others are being held in a recreation center at Iowa State University as a precaution.

Salmonella victim may sue Cadbury¡¯s
By Times Online and PA
Source of Article: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,200-2263884,00.html
A woman who was in hospital for five days with suspected salmonella poisoning
after eating a Cadbury¡¯s chocolate bar is considering legal action against the confectionary giant.
Lawyers for Catherine Henderson, 62, from Northern Ireland, said they are investigating the possibility of taking Cadbury¡¯s to court after tests showed Mrs Henderson had been struck down by the same rare strain of salmonella found in its chocolate. Cadbury¡¯s recalled more than a million chocolate bars across seven product lines last month after a leaking pipe at its Herefordshire factory caused salmonella contamination. Mrs Henderson¡¯s solicitors said she was rushed to hospital after having trouble breathing and was kept on an isolation ward for five days where she was hooked up to a drip and given antibiotics. Mrs Henderson, who said she had eaten a "Cadbury¡¯s caramel bar", said: "I couldn¡¯t believe what was happening to me. All of a sudden my legs went weak and I started finding it hard to breathe. My heart was racing and slowing down as if it was going to stop." She was told by environmental health officials that her tests showed the presence of salmonella montevideo. Lawyers said the Health Protection Agency had so far identified 31 people who had been infected with this strain of salmonella - which can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, chills and headaches - and that one adult, one child and one infant had been admitted to hospital with the infection. Sallie Booth, from law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: "This type of bug is extremely dangerous, especially to the most vulnerable in society - the very young and the very old. "As chocolate is targeted mainly at children, the measures taken by Cadbury¡¯s should have been ultra-rigorous."
Last week Britain¡¯s food standards watchdog said Cadbury failed adequately to assess the risk of salmonella in its chocolate.

Making Fresh-Cut Apples Convenient and Safe
source from USDA/gov
By Rosalie Marion Bliss
July 14, 2006
A new wash treatment developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists provides antibrowning as well as antimicrobial benefits to fresh-cut apples. Microbiologist Arvind Bhagwat led the project. He worked with plant physiologist Robert Saftner and horticulturist Judith Abbott. They are with the ARS Produce Quality and Safety Laboratory (PQSL) in Beltsville, Md. Thanks to ARS research, managers at schools, grocery stores and restaurants nationwide have already been providing customers with sliced apples that stay fresh for several weeks. This ARS team now has discovered a dip solution--PQSL 2.0--that keeps sliced apples fresh and controls pathogens. Volunteer sensory panelists tasted four slices of Fuji and four slices of Granny Smith apples. Each slice had been dipped that day in one of four different commercial or ARS wash treatments including PQSL 2.0. The panelists then reported any differences detected in aroma and flavor. All four treatments were found to maintain the apple slices¡¯ cut-surface color, firmness, aroma and flavor similarly. In a separate test, the researchers exposed five pathogens to fresh batches of each of the same four antibrowning wash treatments for two hours. Formula PQSL 2.0 reduced levels of all five pathogens in the wash solutions by 99.999 percent. PQSL 2.0 also came out ahead in reducing microflora on sanitized apples after slicing. Such native bacterial and fungal populations can accelerate spoilage over time. Further preliminary studies have shown that a newer version of PQSL 2.0 controlled, or eliminated, two pathogens on apple slices. Low doses of Listeria and Salmonella had been put directly onto apple slices along with the new formula, and the pathogens were found to be inhibited, or completely eliminated, after one, two and three weeks.

Entry-level X-ray inspection system targets food sector
By Ahmed ElAmin
Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/
11/07/2006 - An entry level X-ray inspection system offers processors a cost-effective way of meeting the EU's food safety requirements, its UK-based manufacturer claims.
Loma Systems says its new machine, released in June, offers processors with small pockets an advanced X-ray technology for detecting contaminants such as metal, stone, glass, dense plastics, bone and ceramics in their products. In addition, the X-ray system can detect other product problems such as over or underfill, Loma Systems stated. ¡°Key drivers such as supermarket codes of practice and other important food manufacturing regulations are having major impact on suppliers who are now demanding increasingly better technology as well as value for money,¡± the company said in a press release this month. New EU hygiene regulations now require all food businesses to implement a documented safety management system based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles. HACCP is a tool to assess hazards and establish control systems that focus on prevention rather than relying mainly on end-product testing. It is an internationally accepted systematic method of identifying specific hazards in plants and measures for their control to ensure the safety of food. Loma Systems said the design of its X-ray collimator improves its penetration of products making contaminant detection more precise.
Loma said it also improved its X-ray tank for better thermal management and build consistency in high speed processing lines. Loma has also redesigned the machine's cabinet to provide better protection and stability. The design for the X-ray tube protects it from the extreme temperatures use in manufacturing facilities such as those for frozen foods, the company claimed. The product on the machine's computerised menu holds up to 50 different product specifications, which can be automatically called up and reset. Operators can access statistical data and automatic ¡®pop up' fault display.

A new Dry-Bag which you add 20 liters of di-water to and then the food customer has a 20 liter bag of buffered peptone water.

Remel, Dry-Bag
To view Powerpoint Presentation, click here





New test may offer easier detection of BSE, vCJD
by Ann Bagel on 7/10/2006 for Meatingplace.com
A new test may be able to detect bovine spongiform encephalopathy in animals and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans before symptoms appear, according to research published in the journal Science. The study, conducted by scientists led by Claudio Soto of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, suggests that damaged brain cells may "leak" the prions that cause the diseases, offering a chance to detect the disease in blood. Current tests for BSE and vCJD require brain or other tissue samples. In the research, Soto and his colleagues infected hamsters with prions, then tested their blood at various times. They used a special technique to accelerate the prions' conversion from normal proteins to misshapen infectious forms, which allowed them to detect the prions in their "silent phase" of infection.
Soto and the university have created a company to develop the test commercially.

Standardized Realtime PCR detection of Aspergillus DNA
source from: rapidmicrobiology.com
Sangtec Molecular Diagnostics has launched a standardized diagnostic kit for realtime PCR detection of Aspergillus DNA from clinical samples, affigene¢ç Aspergillus tracer.

The affigene¢ç Aspergillus tracer assay is an important addition to the Sangtec's Opportunistic Infections panel of assays targeted towards immunocompromised patients, such as transplant recipients. The assay detects all clinically relevant Aspergillus species, e.g. Aspergillus fumigatus, A. flavus, and A. niger says Therese Sundell, International Product Manager. It has the same PCR profile as all other affigene trender and tracer assays, which enables the laboratory to include any combination of assays in the instrument during one run. The incidence of invasive fungal infections has increased dramatically in recent years among immunocompromised patients such as transplant recipients and patients receiving intensive chemotherapy. Systemic fungal infection can be life threatening. One of the most frequent fungal pathogens is Aspergillus spp, today the most common mould infection in immunocompromised patients. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential for adequate therapeutic management, explains Ingvarsson. A reliable test with high sensitivity that provides fast results is highly requested from transplantation centers since this enables the physician to start treatment at a very early stage of the infection which reduces the risk for the patient considerably. Also prophylactic treatment can be avoided, which is very important since available treatments give severe side effects. With a test that identifies an emerging Aspergillus infection at an early stage, treatment can be given at the right timepoint and only to the patients who need it, concludes Ingvarsson.

Harvard Risk Assessment of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Update; Notice of Availability and Technical Meeting

FDA Warns Consumers About Dangerous Ingredients in "Dietary Supplements" Promoted for Sexual Enhancement
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers not to purchase or consume Zimaxx, Libidus, Neophase, Nasutra, Vigor-25, Actra-Rx, or 4EVERON. These products are promoted and sold on web sites as "dietary supplements" for treating erectile dysfunction (ED) and enhancing sexual performance, but they are in fact illegal drugs that contain potentially harmful undeclared ingredients. These products have not been approved by FDA, and there is no guarantee of their safety and effectiveness, or of the purity of their ingredients. FDA advises consumers who have used any of these products to discontinue use and to consult their health care provider. FDA encourages anyone experiencing ED to seek guidance from a health care provider before purchasing a product to treat this medical condition.
"These products threaten the public health because they contain undeclared chemicals that are similar or identical to the active ingredients used in several FDA-approved prescription drug products. This risk is even more serious because consumers may not know that these ingredients can interact with medications and dangerously lower their blood pressure," said Dr. Steven Galson, Director of FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
Chemical analysis by FDA revealed that Zimaxx contains sildenafil, which is the active pharmaceutical ingredient in Viagra, a prescription drug approved in the United States to treat ED. The other products contain chemical ingredients that are analogues of either sildenafil or a pharmaceutical ingredient called vardenafil. Vardenafil is the active ingredient in Levitra, a prescription drug that, like Viagra, is approved in the United States to treat ED. There is no mention of any of these ingredients in any of the illegal products' labeling.
This deception poses a threat to consumers because the undeclared ingredients may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs (such as nitroglycerin) and lower blood pressure to dangerous levels. Consumers with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease often take nitrates. ED is a common problem in men with these conditions, and they may seek products like the ones noted above because these products claim that they are "all natural" or that they do not contain the active ingredients used in FDA-approved ED drugs. In addition, because the manufacturing source of the active ingredients in these "dietary supplements" is unknown, there is no assurance that the ingredients are safe, effective, or pure.
FDA Warning Letters to the firms marketing these products state that the products are illegal drugs based on claims made for the products or their ingredients. The letters also state that the products' labeling is false and misleading because it fails to disclose the presence of the chemical ingredients or the potential side-effects associated with the products' consumption. FDA instructed agency staff to stop the importation of Libidus, and the agency recently stopped a shipment of 4 EVERON from entering the United States. Based on responses to these actions, FDA may take additional enforcement steps.
Today's actions follow a first-of-its-kind FDA survey, in which the agency analyzed 17 dietary supplements marketed on the internet to treat ED and to enhance sexual performance in men. "Our survey found that many of the so-called 'dietary supplements' marketed as treatments for erectile dysfunction actually contain non-dietary chemicals, including chemicals used as active ingredients in FDA-approved drugs. The claims made for these products were in fact claims made for the undeclared non-dietary chemicals they contain, which rendered them illegal drugs. FDA is committed to protecting the public health by removing such illegal and dangerous products from the market," said Margaret O'K. Glavin, FDA's Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs.

Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Fresh Tomato Supply Chain from FDA click here to view

Experts warn farmers of the dangers of corn fungus
BY PAUL HACKBARTH
For the News-Democrat
Source of Article: http://www.belleville.com/
Derik Holtmann/ News-Democrat What better setting than a corn field to learn about a fungus affecting corn crops in Southern Illinois
That was the case Thursday as Southern Illinois University's Belleville Research Center held short seminars about the latest agricultural updates at its 40th annual Field Day.
Reducing the risk of aflatoxin contamination in corn was one of eight topics that agricultural specialists from SIU Carbondale presented in corn and soybean fields at the research center.
Aflatoxin is produced by the aspergillus fungus and can affect corn, cereal grains, soybeans, spices and nuts. The toxin can cause liver cancer in humans who eat affected corn or certain dairy products and animals that consume affected corn feed. Cases of aflatoxin were found on grain farms in Southern Illinois after a drought during the summer of 2002. Eleven percent of samples collected exceeded the limit for human consumption set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
David Steiner, 61, of Alhambra, said his farm was affected by the toxin last year. "We still haven't got rid of the grains," he said.
Since his corn crop is shipped off, Steiner worried affected corn could be used to make ethanol.
Ahmad Fakhoury, plant pathologist at SIUC, said the toxin would stay in corn byproducts, such as ethanol. "The toxin will not be degraded, and you can't get rid of it. It can actually concentrate it more in (ethanol)," he said. While a small amount of toxin can cause serious problems for farmers, "it's a wimpy fungus. It's not the kind that would wipe out your entire crop," Fakhoury said. Aflatoxin can show up in corn used for animal feed and in storage. Drought and insect damage can allow the fungus to affect kernels, he said. High temperatures and humidity are ideal conditions for the toxin. "86 degrees and 84 to 85 percent humidity are optimal for growth," he said. Fakhoury said no hybrid of corn is resistant to aflatoxin currently, but proper sanitation, fertilization, protection from insects and drying corn to a moisture content of at least 13 percent minimizes growth. More than 275 local farmers, farm equipment and pesticide dealers attended Field Day. The Belleville Research Center is devoted to crop research but expanded Field Day this year to include animal science, growing turf grass and landscape horticulture.

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