9/30/2002
Issue 22

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E. coli O157:H7 more widespread than thought

USDA today announced a series of new measures designed to reduce the incidence of E. coli 0157:H7 contamination of raw ground beef. The actions are the result of an ongoing review of the current program undertaken by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). USDA says the new measures are based on scientific data "that demonstrate the pathogen is more prevalent than previously estimated." As part of the new policy, FSIS personnel will conduct random testing of all beef grinding operations, and eliminate current exemptions from FSIS microbiological testing.Under the action, USDA says it will:Require beef slaughter and grinding plants to acknowledge that E. coli O157:H7 is a hazard reasonably likely to occur in their operations, unless they can prove otherwise;Require, based on the above assumption, plants to perform a comprehensive re-examination of their food safety systems and include a step to eliminate or reduce the risk of E. coli O157:H7 in their product. In the case of grinding operations, this could consist of a requirement for their suppliers to certify the utilization of a decontamination method in their operation;Verify through increased USDA inspection that intervention steps implemented by establishments are validated, in that they are effective under actual in-plant conditions; Eliminate current exemptions from FSIS microbiological testing. This will result in random testing of all beef grinding operations by FSIS personnel and;Issue guidance to grinding facilities regarding additional prevention actions including: 1) increased plant testing for E. coli O157:H7; and 2) avoiding mixing product from different suppliers to reduce the chance of cross contamination and facilitate traceback investigations.

New E. coli rules provoke plea from Murano: Help us
by Dan Murphy on 9/27/02 for www.meatingplace.com
Sound bite: "I welcome the industry's input on these proposed guidelines [on E. coli O157:H7]. We can't fix this problem by ourselves. We need industry's help."
--Elsa Murano, UJSDA Undersecretary for Food Safety CHARLESTON, S.C. -- In a keynote speech delivered to members of the North American Meat Processors' annual convention here yesterday, the Department of Agriculture's top food-safety official outlined aggressive steps the agency is taking to deal with contamination of raw beef and ground beef products. "We used to think that finding E. coli O157:H7 was like [seeking] a needle in a haystack," said Elsa Murano, USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety. "Now, we know this pathogen is more prevalent, and we need to do more to control it." Murano admitted that USDA places "too much emphasis" on microbial testing. She said the real problem is not insufficient testing; it's the lack of control steps built into the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point programs at the nation's beef packing and ground beef processing plants. A pending Federal Register notice will require all plants to incorporate a control step for E. coli O157:H7 in their HACCP plans, which would be reviewed for compliance by the Food Safety and Inspection Service. She added that a key recommendation would be that ground beef processors segregate their raw beef trimmings by supplier, and if possible, to process batches of product using only a single supplier's raw materials, with a sanitation clean-up process in between each batch of raw material from different packers. "You might hear me suggest that and say, 'No way. We can't do that,' " Murano said. "But if it can be done, it prevents potentially contaminated raw material from one packer to contaminate other batches of product." She added that a review of proper testing protocol and an imperative to immediately notify plants of positive E. coli O157:H7 tests USDA discovers would also be part of the nee program USDA would propose. Audience members asked if the "new" rules shouldn't also include an emphasis on making packers implement effective anti-microbial interventions so that pathogen-free trimmings could be shipped to ground beef processors. "Testing of combos absent any anti-microbial intervention is not going to work," Murano replied. "The key [for ground beef processors] is to obtain their raw beef trimmings from a packing plant that has an effective control step in place, and the documentation to verify that the control step is working." NAMP member Brent Cator, of Cardinal Meats in Canada, asked, "How can I mandate to IBP that they need to test their combos of trimmings? I can't verify whether they are properly testing." "You don't have to be responsible for verification," Murano replied. "You just need a letter certifying that the supplier is testing their trimmings for E. coli O157:H7." But NAMP's Executive Director, Marty Holmes, asked, "If you have this letter from your supplier as a part of your HACCP plan, but then your ground beef product is found to be contaminated, do you have a HACCP violation? Could your plant be shut down?" "You would certainly have to re-assess purchasing from that supplier," Murano replied, adding that USDA is planning a December meeting to review and revise the department's regulations concerning E. coli O157:H7. One change she said USDA wants to implement, but is prevented from doing so, is mandating a CCP for beef trimmings. "Legally, we cannot do that," she said. "At least that's what our lawyers tell us." "Could you get some new lawyers?" asked Ron Kovitz of Centennial Meats in Calgary, Alberta, drawing a round of laughter from attendees and a wry smile from Murano. Could those revisions also include a change to include the packer-supplier in future recall news releases sent out by USDA, other audience members asked? "That's a good question," Murano replied. Would USDA consider allowing processors to more accurately represent the actual pounds of product being recalled, rather than having to state the total production volume being recalled? "That's why we're having the meeting [in December]," Murano said. In light of her comment that "zero tolerance does not mean zero risk," Murano was asked why the Bush administration doesn't simply tell the American people that they cannot expect their food supply to be 100 percent risk-free? "I do think that the definition of risk has changed for Americans after Sept. 11," she said. "I think we have come to accept that the risks associated with food products are relative, compared with what we face from terrorism. And I believe that the critics of the meat industry, who often are trying to scare people, are getting less traction these days with those messages." Murano closed by noting that solutions to dealing with pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7 isn't easy, and will require the combined efforts of both government and industry. "The ConAgra recall [of 19 million pounds of ground beef] made me sick," Murano said. "You think you folks get hammered by the media, but for us, it's even worse. We're always getting blamed for doing something wrong. "But I know that I never again want to relive something like that ever again."

Institute To Help Protect Food From 'Farm-To-Fork'
Institute To Focus On Issues Like Bio-Terrorism
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- From the fertile fields of Northern California to the dinner table, it's not a long distance. But plenty of things can happen to the food in between. That's why Gov. Gray Davis and UC Davis Thursday announced plans to develop a system that would protect food from things like salmonella and bio-terrorism.the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security, a partnership of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the Department of Health Services and the University of California Davis, will conduct research aimed at enhancing food safety throughout the process, which is commonly known as "farm-to-fork."The Institute will focus on issues such as bio-terrorism, bio-security, microbiological safety of foods, the safety of food moving across California's borders and consumer food safety education.The Institute was established by a $5 million contribution from Davis' "Buy California" initiative, which directed funds from a federal grant appropriated by the U.S. Congress for the benefit of specialty crops. Other federal funds have been directed to the "California Grown" ad campaign and to a competitive grant program for research and education.

Food Allergen Legislation Clears Key Threshold
Kennedy/Lowey Bill Heads To Senate Floor
http://www.cspinet.org/new/200209251.html
WASHINGTON Americans who suffer from food allergies are one step closer to having common allergens clearly identified in plain English on food labels. Legislation sponsored by Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) today cleared the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee with the support of several key Republicans, including the committee ranking Republican member Judd Gregg, and the Senate only physician, Bill Frist. If ultimately signed into law, the bill would bring about the first food-label changes since the passage of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act in 1990. Right now it's really hard for parents of children with food allergies to spot common food allergens on ingredients lists,?said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “But if this bill becomes law, parents won't have to worry that the most common and dangerous allergens are lurking behind unfamiliar words, or hidden in natural flavorings.The bill would require food manufacturers to use familiar words like milk,?or wheat?to explain more obscure terms like casein?The bill would also close a major loophole that lets allergens present in spices, flavorings, or colorings to go undisclosed on ingredients lists. In order to gain bipartisan support, however, language improving the readability of ingredients lists was dropped from the bill. That language called for standardized font, color contrast, and upper-and-lower-case print. Eight ingredients peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, soybeans, and wheat ccount for most allergic reactions. Allergic reactions to food result in some 29,000 hospitalizations and 150 deaths each year. Similar legislation has been introduced in the House by Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY).

Food Safety Daily News
09/27. Third Case of BSE Detected in Czech Republic
09/27. NY health officials crack down on Indian sweets
09/27. New E. coli rules provoke plea from Murano: Help us
09/27. AwwaRF research on large-scale application of UV disinfectio
09/27. David Byrne welcomes new rules on animal-by-products
09/27. Cheesecake cites plumbing problem for Listeria crisis
09/27. Institute To Help Protect Food From 'Farm-To-Fork'
09/27. National Food Safety Web site Debuts at FPS
09/27. Time to reform food safety system, many in industry say
09/27. Concept of food safety has evolved into food security
09/26. NFPA-SAFE PROGRAM ACHIEVES 100TH AUDIT MILESTONE;
09/26. FSIS TO SUPPORT FOOD SAFETY EDUCATION
09/26. MR. JOHN MCNAMARA ELECTED TO TOXIN ALERT INC.'S BOARD OF DIR
09/26. PRIME MINISTER ANNOUNCES NEW PRESIDENT OF THE CANADIAN FOOD -
09/26. BOTULISM DANGERS DEMAND CARE WITH FOOD: EASY TO UNLEASH ONE
09/26. NEW FSIS E. COLI POLICY TO REQUIRE PRACTICES IN PLACE THROUG
09/26. SALMONELLA IN ONE-THIRD OF SWEDISH MARINATED MEAT IMPORTS: A
09/26. Food Allergen Legislation Clears Key Threshold
09/26. E.coli linked to petting zoos Washing hands after handling a
09/26. FDA ANNOUNCES 2002 FOOD SAFETY GRANTS
09/26. Mercury alert may not apply to retail fish
09/26. Food safety on menu for local high-schoolers
09/26. County to offer food safety course
09/25. Older Adults at Risk of Complications From Microbial Foodbor
09/25. DAVID BYRNE WELCOMES NEW RULES ON ANIMAL-BY-PRODUCTS
09/25. 'BIG BOYS' NOW ONBOARD, AS TYSON/IBP TO SELL IRRADIATED GROU -
09/25. FOOD AGENCY PROPOSES TO ALLOW CONTINUED IMPORT OF RAW MILK V
09/25. It's Official - European Sheep Can't Get BSE
09/25. EXPERTS SUSPECT BSE OUTBREAK IN JAPAN PRIOR TO SEPTEMBER
09/25. WE'RE FIGHTING MAD COW
09/25. STATEMENT OF THE AMERICAN MEAT INSTITUTE ON USDA POLICY ON E
09/25. ACTIVIST GROUP MISREPRESENTS PRODUCE SAFETY
09/25. USDA 'Declares War' on E.Coli Bacteria in Food
09/25. Chronic Wasting Disease is cause for concern
09/25. UDSA eyeing tougher regs on E. coli O157:H7 interventions
09/25. ConAgra Foods takes leadership role in food safety education
09/25. EU Parliament Backs Right to Reject GM Organisms
09/25. Delegation presses USDA on CWD tests
09/25. E. coli 0157:H7 more widespread than thought
09/25. Agriculture Department announces new measures to improve mea
09/25. U.S. to conduct random E. coli tests
09/25. Officials shut down foodstuffs warehouse in Lilburn
09/25. Testing to Start at Meat Plants
09/25. Feds to impose tougher inspections on meat plants
09/25. Health-china: Fears About Food Safety Plague Culinary Wonder
09/25. Scientists to test food after carcinogen scare
09/24. FOOD CONTAMINANTS AND RESIDUES (CHEMICAL AND PHARMACEUTICAL
09/24. FORUM ON FLUORIDATION - REPORT LAUNCHED
09/24. RESEARCH REQUIREMENTS PUBLISHED
09/24. THE NEWSHOUR ON BEEF
09/24. CONDENSATION
09/24. FOLLOW PROPER PICKLING PROCEDURES
09/24. IT'S NOT ALL IN THE TITLE: GAO'S REPORT ON HACCP
09/24. FSIS REVISING 10, 010.1- O157:H7 MONITORING DIRECTIVE
09/24. ConAgra Getting Out of Meatpacking
09/24. Feds to Announce New E. Coli Strategy
09/24. PEANUT ALLERGIES NO LAUGHING MATTER FOR
09/24. FOOD ALLERGY OR INTOLERANCE?
09/24. FRENCH FARMERS' UNION CALLS FOR BAN ON BRITISH BEEF TO CONTI
09/24. MAKING FOOD SAFETY A PRIORITY
09/24. HEPATITIS SCARE DRAWS CROWD TO CLINICS
09/24. Sewing shop owner pinned for needling ham
09/24. Fight for facts on Frankenfoods
09/24. Study: Breeding could avert mad cow
09/24. Modern bacteria are resisting treatment by antibiotics
09/24. Poisoning cases increase
09/24. Food illnesses show sharp rise
09/24. Organizations Provide Tips During National Food Safety
09/24. Group: Fruits, veggies top list of illness culprits
09/24. UK: Young people lack basic food hygiene
09/24. Scientists to test food after carcinogen scare
09/23. FDA Takes First Step Toward Approval Study Examines Safety C
09/23. BROWN BAGGING FOOD SAFETY FOR BACK-TO-SCHOOL
09/23. TOP OFFICIALS CHOSEN FOR NEW EUROPEAN FOOD SAFETY AUTHORITY
09/23. Audit Probes Meat, Poultry Risks
09/23. Group Urges U.S. Gov't to Curb Foodborne Illnesses
09/23. The farmer in the lab
09/23. UK: Consumers need more information about GM food, says surv
09/23. CONFERENCE EXAMINES PROS AND CONS OF GM CROPS
09/23. We've been eating GM food for five years
09/23. Two top trade groups combine on listeria control workshop in
09/23. Consumers continue improving food safety practices, but¡¦
09/23. Kauai research aims for allergy-free soybean
09/23. Food Industry Opposing Label Improvements
09/23. Tighter rules on traceability for GMO products
09/23. The CWD-human link: Is there one? -
09/23. 'Mad cow' not in U.S. beef industry
09/23. BSE Research Centre
09/23. French Abattoir Reopens
09/23. Utah food handlers join war on bioterror
09/23. Teach your children the importance of regular handwashing
09/22. ConAgra Already Had List of Health Violations before Beef Re
09/22. Major papers call for irradiation
09/22. Food Hygiene Improving
09/21. French Food Standard Agency's report on safety of British beef
09/21. Farms fight food tracing
09/21. Campylobacter Concerns
09/21. Food supply chain ¡®vulnerable¡¯

USDA/FDA NEWS
Positive E. coli Test Results: Updated September 26, 2002
OPPDE What's New Page: Updated September 26, 2002
FDA Announces 2002 Food Safety Grants
Public Meeting To Address Agenda for Codex Coordinating Committee
Older Adults at Risk of Complications From Microbial Foodborne Illness
New Measures To Address E. coli O157:H7 Contamination
FSIS Signs State Agreements Supporting Food Safety Education For Animal And Egg Producers
USDA Strengthens Food Safety Policies
FDA Draft Action Plan for Acrylamide in Food

Recall Summary
09/27. ALLERGY ALERT - Undeclared peanut protein in various QUALITY brand products
09/26. LABONTE brand NATURAL HONEY may contain chloramphenicol
09/26. Indiana Firm Has Recalled Fresh Pork Tenderloin Sep 26
09/26. Indiana Firm Recalls Fresh Pork Tenderloin Because Of Misbranding
09/25. A bad day for the bisque
09/25. Nut Country, USA Issues Allergy Alert for 11 of its Products for Undeclared Allergens
09/25. Soyco Foods¢ç Issues Allergy Alert Regarding Possible Trace of Milk Protein
09/25. Soyco Foods¢ç Has Recalled Soymage Vegan Single Slices Sep 24
09/25. Nut Country Has Recalled 11 of its Products Sep 24
09/23. Sweets With Nuts Being Recalled
09/23. Cooked Beef Recalled
09/23. South Beach Beverage Co. Issues Voluntary Recall of SoBe Tsunami Beverage
09/23. New Choice Food Mini Gel Candies Recalled Due to Choking Hazard
09/23. Pennsylvania Co. Has Recalled Beef Product Sep 23
09/23. South Beach Beverage Has Recalled SoBe Tsunami Orange Cream Beverage
09/23. New Choice Food Has Recalled Mini Gel Candies Sep 23


Growing demand for microbial scanners

23/09/02 - Interactive, a US-based company that holds the rights to light based scanners used to inspect meat for microbial contamination, is increasing production of its small, hand-held version of the scanners. The increase in production is due to an order for 17 devices, placed by Excel, a Kansas beef-processing company that is a subsidiary of Cargill.
Excel is also set to build a 900-square-foot addition to one of its plants, where the first of the full-sized scanners will be commercially tested.Known as VerifEYE, the machines were developed by the Agricultural Research Service and Iowa State University. The research was carried out at ARS' Pre-harvest Food Safety and Enteric Diseases Unit, which is part of the agency's National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa.ARS is the US Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.The instruments use specific wavelengths, or colours, of light to illuminate carcasses. The reflected light is analysed electronically to determine if contaminants such as fecal matter are present. The new development represents another step toward getting the devices to market, according to Mark Rasmussen, the ARS unit's research leader who developed the technology with ARS microbiologist Tom Casey, also at Ames. The hand-held devices, which are about the size of a compact video camera, will be used for online and spot inspections. Initial testing will determine their best use. Meanwhile, testing of the full-sized machine will take place in a new addition to Excel's plant in Nebraska Construction is set to begin next month, and installation of the device is scheduled for November. The machine will examine carcasses as they are conveyed across the scanners' sights. Contaminated carcasses can be removed from the line and decontaminated before entering the food chain.

OUTBREAKS
09/27. 52 in state stricken with E. coli

09/27. Botulism linked to baked potato

09/26. SUSPECT CHEESE PULLED OFF CITY SHELVES

09/25. MAN ON LIFE SUPPORT AFTER BOTULISM POISONING: IMPROPERLY COO

09/25. TAINTED FOOD LINKED TO FOUR DEATHS SO FAR

09/25. TESTS SUGGEST LANE COUNTY, ORE., E. COLI SPREAD THROUGH AIR

09/25. Listeriosis Update
09/25. Food illnesses show sharp rise

09/24. 80 INFANTS SICK IN FOOD POISONING AT GERMAN DAYCARE CENTRE

09/24. MORE THAN 200 PEOPLE ILL IN FURTHER CHINA FOOD POISONING OUT

09/24. Press Release: Listeriosis Update

09/23. BAD JAPANESE FOOD SENDS 55 TO HOSPITAL IN BEIJING

09/23. Officials look for source of listeriosis

09/23. Salmonella strain passes without link

09/22. An E. coli nightmare

09/21. Five deaths linked to listeria

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