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The 2006 Exposure Assessment for Acrylamide
The 2006 Exposure Assessment for Acrylamide

World's first DNA-based meat traceability system in North America
26.jul.06 from a press release
LAWRENCE, Kan. and DUBLIN, Ireland ? IdentiGEN Ltd., a leading provider of DNA-based solutions to the agriculture and food industries in Europe, today announced the formation of a new subsidiary, IdentiGEN North America, Inc., and the hiring of Donald R. Marvin as president and chief executive officer. The new company will focus on the North American commercialization of IdentiGEN's proprietary TraceBack(TM) DNA tracking system, which enables guaranteed verification of the source of meat products throughout the entire chain of production -- from the animal of origin up through the producer, meat packer, food retailer and right to the consumer's plate. The TraceBack system is practical and cost effective, requiring few changes in current handling or processing procedures, and it has been successfully commercialized in Ireland and other countries in Europe. IdentiGEN is now bringing its system to the U.S. and Canada, to help ensure the safety and quality of the $80 billion North American market for beef and pork.
The capability to identify and trace the exact source of meat products through the entire supply chain provides important potential benefits from public health, economic and consumer perspectives, and would be particularly valuable in the event of any challenges to the safety of the
meat supply from communicable disease outbreaks. Moreover, meat traceability enables processors and retailers to ensure the accuracy of the products they deliver, including specialty meat products such as premium, organic, kosher or halal products. In Europe, consumers have already demonstrated their preference for TraceBack-guaranteed and branded beef and
pork. Donald Marvin, the new company's president and chief executive officer, has been a biotechnology entrepreneur and leader in the commercialization of new life sciences diagnostic and research technologies and products for more than 25 years. He is currently president and CEO of Cairn Associates Inc., a life sciences strategy consulting and investment firm.
"Our DNA-based TraceBack system offers producers, packers and retailers the first proven, practical and affordable means to trace the origin of meat back through the supply chain in the event of a disease outbreak or for any other concern, and we are proud now to be able to introduce this service into North America," said Patrick Cunningham, Ph.D., chairman of
IdentiGEN Ltd. "We are especially pleased that our North American expansion will be led by Don Marvin, a life sciences executive with extensive experience in starting and growing entrepreneurial companies, who will direct our efforts to bring the benefits of our innovative identification
system to the vast market for beef and pork in North America." As an identifier, DNA is unique, accurate, permanent and tamper-proof. The TraceBack system is based on the analysis of individual DNA samples from each animal, similar to the use of DNA for forensic identification of
humans. The company's technology, which was designed by researchers and population geneticists from Trinity College in Dublin, combines high-throughput, low cost DNA analysis with a carefully selected and validated panel of genetic markers -- single nucleotide polymorphisms (or
SNPs) -- as identifiers. IdentiGEN has also developed proprietary DNA collection and analysis methods that simplify the entire process so that the TraceBack system can be easily implemented throughout the existing production and supply infrastructure. The DNA-based system enables
identification of an animal, or products from that animal, at every stage of the supply chain; IdentiGEN has also developed proprietary techniques to enable identification of the origin of products containing meat from multiple animals, such as ground beef.
"The value that consumers place on IdentiGEN's unique and cost effective ability to help guarantee the origin and safety of the meat they buy has been demonstrated in Europe, where the TraceBack system has been operational since 2000," said Mr. Marvin. "My past experience in the human DNA identity and genetic variability testing business has given me a
first-hand appreciation of the power of 'nature's bar code', and I believe that our DNA-based TraceBack system offers a solution of unparalleled accuracy, simplicity and practicality that will enhance the safety and quality of our food supply and provide tangible benefits to the producers,
sellers and consumers of meat products." Before founding Cairn Associates, Mr. Marvin was a co-founder of Nasdaq-traded Orchid BioSciences, a pioneer in human DNA identity testing,
where he served as its chief operating officer, chief financial officer and senior vice president of corporate development. Previously, Mr. Marvin was president and CEO of Diatron Corporation, a biomedical company developing fluorescence-based instrument systems for the clinical diagnostics industry. His prior experience includes strategic planning, business
development, technical administration and operations at PepsiCo, Abbott Laboratories and Bayer AG, as well as domestic and international marketing and sales for the clinical diagnostics subsidiary of Boehringer Ingelheim. Mr. Marvin is an experienced fund-raiser, having completed private and public financings that have raised over $250 million for his companies.
Mr. Marvin currently serves on the Board of Directors of Tepnel Life Sciences PLC and Melior Discovery, Inc., and also participates in several angel investment groups. He received his B.S. degree from Ohio State University and his M.B.A. from Iona College.

USDA: Japan has accepted U.S. beef system, Korea still has concerns
by Pete Hisey on 7/28/2006 for Meatingplace.com
Japan's decision Thursday to reopen its market to U.S. beef contained one exception: An unnamed plant that had recently been purchased by a larger processor is temporarily excluded from the agreement. According to Ed Loyd, a spokesman for USDA, the decision to defer that plant's ability to export was made in consultation among all parties, and was made because the plant in question is in the process of hiring key export personnel. "There is no critical issue involved," Loyd said. "The plant just needs time to adjust its leadership." That plant was identified by Reuters as Brawley, Calif.-based Brawley Beef, which was recently purchased by National Beef Inc. A plant placed under close observation by USDA was identified as an American Foods Group facility in Green Bay, Wis., which in the past had shipped beef to Japan from cattle slaughtered before the plant was approved as an exporter by USDA.
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns recently told South Korea that it must accept all USDA-approved U.S. plants, or accept none, and the deal with Japan appears to violate that "all-or-none" rule. Loyd pointed out, however, that Japan is not asking for changes in U.S. procedures, while South Korea has demanded that all tools used in the slaughter of cattle over 30 months of age be segregated from tools used in the slaughter of younger cattle. The United States has asked that Seoul accept its sanitation standards for slaughter tools to prevent possible contamination.
"Japan has accepted our system while Korea has not," Loyd said. "We are basing our decisions on the merits of U.S. food safety in our plants, whether they export or not."
In other words, the beef plant's permission to export is deferred because it violates U.S. export rules, not because it violates Japan's rules.
Loyd points out that the issue of segregating Canadian cattle from U.S. cattle in slaughter facilities is not a request for changes in U.S. procedures. "We will do that once Korea opens to U.S. beef," he said. "It only became an issue because when their inspectors visited plants last month, they expected [the segregation] to already be in place."
Lynn Heinze, a spokesman for the U.S. Meat Export Federation, notes that many plants had been segregating cattle and products meant for export to South Korea before the market closed. "Most of them ran all their Canadian cattle through on one shift, then had a full clean-up before processing U.S. cattle," he said. "It's only a matter of reinstating the process." Some plants that have not exported to Korea in the past may have to submit segregation plans to gain export approval, he said. There is no timetable for an agreement, Loyd said, but "we hope to reach a resolution soon." Korea had agreed in principle to accept U.S. beef back in January, but has dragged its feet in negotiations since.

Salmonella infection can ruin a picnic
27.jul.06
Tampa Bay Newspapers (FL)
http://www.tbnweekly.com/pinellas_county/content_articles/072706_pco-09.txt
PINELLAS COUNTY ? Every year homemade ice cream causes several cases of Salmonella infection with several hundred victims at church picnics, family reunions and other large gatherings. From 1996 to 2000 (the most recent year for which surveillance was completed), 17 outbreaks, resulting in more than 500 illnesses, were traced to Salmonella bacteria in homemade ice cream, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The ingredient responsible for the outbreaks is raw or undercooked eggs.
A person infected with Salmonella enteritidis, the strain of Salmonella found most frequently in raw eggs, usually has fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps that begin 12 to 72 hours after eating or drinking a contaminated food or beverage. The infection generally lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without any treatment. However, for those at high risk ? infants, older people, pregnant women and individuals with weakened immune systems ? infection can be life-threatening.
You can enjoy homemade ice cream without the risk of Salmonella infection by substituting a pasteurized egg product, egg substitute or pasteurized shell eggs for the raw eggs in your favorite recipe. Egg products are eggs that have been removed from their shells and pasteurized. They may be liquid, frozen or dried whole eggs, whites, yolks or blends of egg and other ingredients. Egg products are not widely available at retail; they are predominantly used in institutional food service.
Egg substitutes, which may be liquid or frozen, contain only the white of the egg, the part that doesn¡¯t have fat and cholesterol, and are readily available at most supermarkets. Pasteurized shell eggs are also available from a growing number of retailers; you¡¯ll find them located next to the regular shell eggs. These eggs look and taste just like regular shell eggs, though the white may be slightly cloudy, and they are nutritionally equivalent to their unpasteurized counterparts.


Picture from: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/

Dioxin diminishes in market meats
26.jul.06
Environmental Science and Technology Online
http://pubs.acs.org/subscribe/journals/esthag-w/2006/jul/science/nl_meats.html
U.S. inspectors find that dioxin levels decreased more in some market meats than in others over the past decade.
Although dioxin levels in U.S. poultry and hogs have steadily decreased over the past decade, levels of the toxin in cattle have remained quite flat, according to a survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The results, published today on ES&T¡¯s Research ASAP website (DOI: 10.1021/es0608848), may have reassuring implications for humans¡¯ diets, but they are complicated, particularly for beef.
The USDA¡¯s Food and Safety Inspection Service tracks U.S. meat and poultry production for meat market sales, 90% of which come from steers and heifers, hogs, chickens, and turkeys. Researchers from the service standardized a series of small data surveys conducted from 1994 to 1996, for comparison with a comprehensive survey conducted from 2002 to 2003. The more recent survey included ¡°dioxin-like compounds¡± such as PCBs.
In poultry and hogs, dioxin levels declined 20?80% during the period between the surveys, in large part because of efforts to eliminate dioxin in feedstocks. But cattle dioxin levels either stayed the same or barely decreased over that same time period.
The USDA inspectors traced 2 hogs with high dioxin levels ( 2 pg/g lipid weight) back to farms ~100 mi apart that used the same dioxin-containing mineral feed, which was subsequently removed from the market. But the history of the cows with high dioxin levels proved more difficult to track. The researchers say more investigation is necessary to pin down the reasons for the variation in the animals, which could include background deposition from power-plant emissions or even the animals¡¯ ages when they were slaughtered.

souce from: http://www.ejnet.org

EPA assessment of dioxin understates uncertainty about health risks and may overstate human cancer risk
11.jul.06
The National Academies
WASHINGTON -- Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency presented a comprehensive review of the scientific literature in its 2003 draft reassessment of the risks of dioxin, the agency did not sufficiently quantify the uncertainties and variabilities associated with the risks, nor did it adequately justify the assumptions used to estimate them, according to a new report from the National Academies' National Research Council. The committee that wrote the report recommended that EPA re-estimate the risks using several different assumptions and better communicate the uncertainties in those estimates. The agency also should explain more clearly how it selects both the data upon which the reassessment is based and the methods used to analyze them.
"Failure to fully characterize uncertainty can convey a false sense of precision in the conclusions of the risk assessment," said committee chair David L. Eaton, a professor and associate vice provost for research at the University of Washington, Seattle. "EPA could improve the transparency and credibility of the assessment by more clearly identifying the assumptions used to support risk estimates and by updating them when significant new findings are made."
Dioxin and related compounds have been a concern since they were found in Agent Orange, a herbicide widely used during the Vietnam War. The chemicals result unintentionally from many industrial processes and persist in the environment, allowing them to build up in the food chain. Humans are exposed to dioxins primarily through the consumption of beef, pork, fish, and dairy products, although occupational or accidental exposure can be higher. Efforts to reduce dioxin and related compounds in the environment in recent years have resulted in lower concentrations of the chemicals in humans.
EPA first assessed the risks of dioxin in 1985. After new scientific data emerged, the agency issued a draft reassessment in 2003. The Interagency Working Group on Dioxin, consisting of representatives of seven federal agencies, recommended further review of the new document.
In its 1985 assessment, EPA classified dioxin as a "probable human carcinogen," but the agency's 2003 reassessment says that dioxin is better characterized as "carcinogenic to humans." Since 2003, however, EPA has issued new guidelines for classifying the carcinogenicity of chemicals. The Research Council committee was split on whether the available evidence met all the criteria for classifying dioxin as "carcinogenic to humans" under the new guidelines, but it was unanimous in agreeing that dioxin should at least be considered "likely to be carcinogenic to humans."
The committee considered the choice of phrasing to be more a question of semantics than science, and said that the public health implications of the two classifications appear to be identical. And although the epidemiological evidence supporting classification of dioxin as a human carcinogen is not strong, occupational studies show a modest association between relatively high concentrations of dioxin in the body and increased mortality from all cancers. Animal studies provide additional support for classifying dioxin as a carcinogen.
The committee did express concern, however, with how EPA estimated cancer risk from dioxin. Because the data indicating cancer risk are from occupational and animal studies where doses of dioxin are much higher than those to which human populations are typically exposed, mathematical models are used to extrapolate the effects of lower doses in order to estimate human risk.
The committee took issue with EPA's decision to rely solely on a "linear" model that assumes the risk of cancer is directly proportional to dose at all levels of exposure, including the levels found in the environment, which are generally much lower than those shown to cause cancer in animals. Such an approach usually results in higher risk estimates than those based on nonlinear assumptions, where biological responses do not vary proportionally with dose. EPA said there was a lack of data to support a nonlinear approach, but the committee said that compelling new animal data from the National Toxicology Program -- released after EPA completed its reassessment -- when combined with substantial evidence that dioxin does not directly damage DNA, is now adequate to justify the use of nonlinear methods for estimating cancer risk at relatively low levels of exposure. Such a nonlinear model would result in a lower estimate of risk. The report recommends that EPA estimate cancer risk using both a nonlinear and linear model and describe the strengths and weaknesses of each.
The agency also should make clear how it chose its "point of departure" dose, which corresponds to the lowest experimental dose associated with adverse health effects; extrapolation is used to estimate the risk at lower doses. The point of departure is typically associated with an incremental effect, such as 5 percent more cancers, which would be expressed as a 5 percent "effective dose." However, very low effective doses, such as the 1 percent effective dose used by EPA in its reassessment, require more supporting data in order to detect such a small increase in effects. The committee said that EPA did not adequately justify its use of a 1 percent effective dose. The report recommends that cancer risks be estimated using a number of points of departure and that the uncertainties associated with each be fully explained, and quantified when possible.
To assess risks other than cancer at very low doses, EPA usually identifies a "reference dose" below which it anticipates no adverse effects. But the agency said that establishing a reference dose in the dioxin reassessment would not provide useful information. The committee, however, said a reference dose would supply valuable information, such as the risks faced by populations, including workers, who may be exposed to more than the reference dose.
The committee agreed with EPA's conclusion that dioxins are probably toxic to the human immune system, but it said that the agency's finding that dioxin-like compounds are immunotoxic at "some dose level" is inadequate. EPA should expand on this issue in its reassessment by discussing the biological mechanisms by which exposure to low doses of dioxins could compromise the immune system. The agency also should more thoroughly address how developmental and reproductive harm caused by dioxins in animals may relate to human risks.
The committee endorsed EPA's use of a "toxic equivalency factor" for estimating the toxicity of dioxin-like compounds relative to dioxin. Toxic equivalency factors assign a percentage of toxicity; for example, a certain dioxin-like compound may present one-tenth the risk of dioxin, which is important when considering the cumulative risks of exposure to multiple dioxin-like compounds in the environment.
Overall, EPA addressed many sources of uncertainty qualitatively, but the committee noted that the report would be substantially strengthened if the agency included more quantifiable measures of both the uncertainty and variability in the available scientific data used to estimate dioxin risks to public health. It recommended that EPA write a more thorough chapter on risk characterization -- a culmination of all the relevant toxicity and exposure data and their relationship to potential health effects -- that includes a comprehensive discussion of uncertainties. The agency also should routinely monitor dioxin-related research and establish criteria for deciding when findings such as the new National Toxicology Program data are compelling enough to revise the most recent dioxin risk assessment.
The committee's report was funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The National Research Council is the principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. It is a private, nonprofit institution that provides science and technology advice under a congressional charter. A committee roster follows.
Copies of HEALTH RISKS FROM DIOXIN AND RELATED COMPOUNDS: EVALUATION OF THE EPA REASSESSMENT will be available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at HTTP://WWW.NAP.EDU. Reporters may obtain a pre-publication copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above).

Radiation-killed bacteria vaccine induces broad immune response in mice
25.jul.06
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Vaccines made with bacteria killed by gamma irradiation, rather than by standard methods of heat or chemical inactivation, may be more effective, say researchers supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Vaccines made from gamma-irradiated bacteria also may not need to be kept cold; an advantage in settings where refrigerating vaccines is impractical or impossible. A report on the research appears in the current issue of the journal Immunity.
In experiments with mice, scientists including Eyal Raz, M.D., Sandip Datta, M.D., and Joshua Fierer, M.D., of the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine demonstrated that a vaccine made from irradiated Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, unlike a vaccine made from heat-killed bacteria, provides protection against challenge with live Listeria. The irradiated bacteria also stimulated a protective response from immune system cells called T cells. Previously, only vaccines made from live, weakened Listeria bacteria were believed capable of eliciting a T-cell response.
"This advance is potentially of great importance in meeting the challenge of creating vaccines that are safe, effective and simple to manufacture and transport," says NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.
Ideally, vaccines should stimulate a strong response not only from both arms of the adaptive immune system (antibodies and T cells), but also the body's innate immune system. However, traditional ways of making vaccines--either by killing disease-causing agents with heat, chemicals or by weakening (attenuating) live pathogens--have characteristic shortcomings. For example, heat- and chemical-killed vaccines, while safe and relatively easy to produce, generally produce a less broad immune response than live, attenuated vaccines. Conversely, it can be difficult to create live, attenuated vaccines that safely preserve the pathogen's ability to trigger strong innate and adaptive immune responses. more information

O.C. restaurant hit with $3.2 million verdict
25.jul.06
Orange County Register (CA)
Nancy Luna
Alexis Sarti, 22, a San Clemente woman left with permanent nerve damage after eating an Ahi tuna appetizer at Salt Creek Grille was, according to this story, awarded $3.2 million by an Orange County jury.
The Dana Point eatery plans to appeal the July 11 verdict. The story explains that Sarti sued the 10-year-old Craftsman-style eatery after a near fatal incident stemming from ¡°cross contamination¡± of her raw fish with campylobacter jejuni, bacteria found in raw poultry.
The bacteria attacked her nervous system, causing temporary double
vision and paralysis from head to toe after the April, 2005 incident, according to the lawsuit she filed last year.

Science extends shelf life of fresh meat
24.jul.06
Farmscape (Episode 2202)
Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork Council
Bruce Cochrane
www.farmscape.ca
A food science professor with the University of Manitoba says new sanitation compounds and procedures, tighter temperature controls and new packaging materials have allowed processors to dramatically increase the shelf life of fresh meat products. The investigation and control of factors that cause spoilage in meat will be among the topics explored next month in Calgary when the Canadian Meat Council hosts a symposium on advanced methods in quality control of meat and meat products. U of M food science professor Dr. Richard Holley says science has a pretty good handle on factors that influence the safety and shelf life of fresh meat products.
Clip-Dr. Rick Holley-University of Manitoba
Over a period of the last 15 years, I would say, we've seen shelf life extensions from 30 days with pork to 55 days, largely as a result of improvements in plant sanitation, temperature control as well as improvements in packaging materials and also packaging approaches using some of those materials. I'm thinking now of film materials which, while they have low oxygen transmission, are shrinkable so you get less opportunity for spaces in the package, between the package and the surface of meat, and get therefore less extraction of the liquid material during storage and shipment, distribution to customers. You prevent that from happening, you also prevent blood pigment precipitation on the surface of the meat and then discoloration that occurs as a result, which is a periodic problem.
Dr. Holley notes, while the major issues associated with extension of shelf life are microbial, the growth of bacteria, there are also physical characteristics that are important in maximizing product shelf life.

Researchers Demonstrate Potential Mechanism Of Food Allergy
Source of Article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060721120023.htm
Researchers have identified one of the proteins that may be responsible for causing food allergies, which could lead to the development of more accurate non-invasive tests to identify true food allergies, according to a study published in the July issue of Gastroenterology, the journal for the members of the American Gastroenterological Association.
Food allergies often present a unique problem for allergy testing since not every patient has detectable levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE) in their serum, especially patients with delayed allergies. A number of reliable testing methods exist for food and other allergies, including skin tests and serum IgE tests, however, they may not accurately diagnose food allergies. The oral food challenge is considered the most accurate test for food allergies but is expensive to administer and has to be done in a controlled environment. Immunoglobulin (antibody) E is a protein produced by plasma cells (or B-Cells , a type of lymphocyte ), which is designed to control the immune response in extracellular fluids by binding to substances in the body that are recognized as foreign. The study, conducted at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, showed for the first time that CD23, a protein normally expressed in a person's intestinal tract, acts as a receptor for IgE, a protein associated with allergic reactions, and enables it to participate in food-allergic reactions.
"We believe that the presence of CD23 may provide a surrogate method of looking at the gut without invasive tests like biopsies," according to M. Cecilia Berin, PhD, assistant professor, pediatrics/allergy and immunology, Mount Sinai and lead author of the study.
Results of this study showed that CD23 was detectable in stool samples from food allergic patients, but not the controls, suggesting either increased levels of CD23 on intestinal cells or an allergen-induced shedding of CD23 in food allergic patients. Additionally, researchers found a strong correlation between the level of CD23 and food-specific IgE in the stool, demonstrated by the availability of IgE antibodies to interact with CD23 on the outside surface of the gastrointestinal wall.
Researchers collected stool samples from nine pediatric patients (age range three to 17 years) who underwent an oral food challenge, during which they were administered either egg or milk in a controlled environment. All patients had a history of allergies to these foods and had reacted positively through other testing methods. Their symptoms, which occurred less than two hours after the food challenge, included skin reactions, breathing problems and gastrointestinal problems or a combination. They were matched to five pediatric controls with no food allergies.
"Based on the results of our study, we intend to conduct larger scale trials of patients with food allergic disorder to determine how CD23 in the stool correlates with clinical findings," according to Dr. Berin. "We hope to determine that CD23 offers a promising target for food allergies that leads to more accurate, easier to tolerate tests for these patients."
Food allergies affect an estimated six to eight percent of American children age four years or younger and approximately two percent of adults, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The study authors estimate that three and a half to four percent of these food allergies are IgE-mediated. While many people believe they have food allergies, the majority of individuals experience food intolerance.
Food allergies are an exaggerated immune response in which the body produces histamines and antibodies that induce symptoms in the gastrointestinal tract, airways and skin, and in the most severe cases induces anaphylactic shock, an often fatal systemic reaction. These allergies are often characterized by abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, hives, swelling of the eyelids, face, lips and tongue, shortness of breath or wheezing and difficulty swallowing, among other symptoms. The most common allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, wheat, milk, eggs and soy.

Oyster-related illnesses surge in Washington state
Source of Article: http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/
Jul 27, 2006 (CIDRAP News) ? Washington state health officials said yesterday that 60 people have become ill after eating raw oysters from the state's coastal waters in recent weeks, well above the normal reported total for a whole year. The Washington Department of Health (WDH) said it usually records about 20 cases of vibriosis a year, but a dramatic rise in cases prompted the state to close several oyster harvesting areas on Jul 20. The department closed more areas yesterday. Two patients have been hospitalized in the outbreak, but there have been no deaths, a Washington health official told CIDRAP News today.
The vibrosis outbreak is the largest in 8 years, according to an article last week in Washington's Kitsap Sun newspaper.
Additional cases in Oregon and British Columbia have also been linked to eating raw Washington oysters. In a Jul 14 press release, the Oregon Department of Human Services said 14 people had become ill after eating raw oysters at restaurants around Portland.
New York City health officials, citing the outbreak in the Pacific Northwest, on Jul 21 issued a similar warning about eating undercooked shellfish after four clusters of vibriosis cases were recorded in the city. Vibriosis is a bacterial illness caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus, which naturally occurs in seawater. High levels can grow during summer. Nancy Napolilli, WDH director of food safety and shellfish, told the Kitsap Sun last week that unseasonably warm temperatures and afternoon low tides are likely causes of the dramatic rise in vibriosis cases. She also said a change in the strain of bacteria may also be a contributing factor. Symptoms of vibriosis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever and chills, the WDH said. They usually appear within 12 hours after eating infected shellfish, but can begin anytime between 2 to 48 hours after consumption. The illness is usually mild or moderate, lasting 2 to 7 days, but it can be life-threatening in people who have immune dysfunction or chronic liver disease. Most cases resolve without treatment. Washington officials said that while the restricted oyster areas are closed to recreational harvesting, some commercial growers can continue harvesting oysters if they are shucked, packed, and labeled "for cooking only." Napolilli recommends that restaurants and consumers thoroughly cook all shellfish before serving or eating. Cooking shellfish to an internal temperature of 145¡ÆF kills the bacteria, she said.

An international outbreak of human salmonellosis associated with animal-derived pet treats - Canada and Washington State, 2005
26.jul.06
Canada Communicable Disease Report, 1 July 2006 Volume 32 Number 13
Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/ccdr-rmtc/06vol32/dr3213eb.html
Introduction
In 2004-2005, contact with Salmonella-contaminated pet treats of beef and seafood origin resulted in human Salmonella Thompson infections in the State of Washington (WA) in the United States (USA) and in Western Canada. This is the third published report of an outbreak of human illness associated with pet treats in North America, the first in the USA. This report describes the investigation of the international outbreak and provides recommendations on how to reduce the risk Salmonella-contaminated pet treats pose to humans. Public health practitioners should consider pet treats a potential source for Salmonella transmission.
Case 1
In February 2005, a 26-year-old man in Alberta (AB), Canada, presented with diarrheal illness. Stool culture yielded S. Thompson. The patient fed his dog beef pet treats a few days before the onset of his illness. The dog was asymptomatic. A package of the same brand of pet treats fed to the dog was purchased and submitted for testing. The treats yielded S. Thompson, S. Cerro and S. Meleagridis. The S. Thompson isolates from the patient and treats were indistinguishable (i.e., the outbreak strain) by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). The treats were packaged and distributed by a British Columbia (BC) manufacturing plant, but records were inadequate to determine where the treats had been produced.
Case 2
In February 2005, a 37-year-old woman in BC presented with diarrheal illness. Stool culture yielded S. Thompson. The patient fed her dog salmon pet treats a few days before the onset of the patient's illness. The dog also had a diarrheal illness, but specimens were not collected. The remaining pet treats were collected from the patient's house for testing. The treats yielded S. Thompson. Isolates of S.Thompson from the patient and treats were indistinguishable from each other and from the outbreak strain by PFGE. The salmon treats originated from a WA manufacturing plant. The treats were imported into Canada, labeled and distributed for sale in BC and AB by the same BC manufacturing plant identified in case 1.
Case 3
In March 2005, an 81-year-old woman inWA presented with diarrheal illness, fever, and vomiting. The patient was hospitalized and stool culture yielded S. Thompson indistinguishable from the outbreak strain by PFGE. The patient purchased and fed beef pet treats to her dog, but did not recall touching the pet treats prior to the onset of her illness. The patient had frequent contact with her dog, but reported no recent illness in the dog. The remaining treats were collected from the patient's house for testing. The treats yielded S. Thompson. The treats originated from and were packaged by theWA manufacturing plant that was the source of the treats in case 2.
Additional Cases
Six additional human cases of S. Thompson (three in BC, two in WA and one in AB), indistinguishable by PFGE from the outbreak strain, were identified by retrospective case finding. Five of the six additional patients were interviewed. Three (60%) of them were exposed to pet treats from the WA or the BC manufacturing plants. The two other cases had pet dogs. Stool culture from an asymptomatic dog yielded S. Thompson indistinguishable from the outbreak strain by PFGE.
Source Investigation
The BC and WA manufacturing plants were investigated by authorities. Both manufacturers processed frozen raw beef into pet treats for cats and dogs by thawing the materials, cutting them into the desired shapes and sizes, dehydrating them, and then packaging and/or wrapping the finished products for distribution. The manufacturers in BC and WA received frozen raw beef parts from slaughter houses in Canada and the USA, respectively. The WA manufacturer also received frozen raw salmon from aWA seafood company, and frozen raw shrimp from two seafood companies - one located in WA and the other in Rhode Island. Although the pet treats were dehydrated, the dehydration temperatures were not high enough to kill bacteria that may have been present. No other bacterial kill step, such as irradiation, was used during the processing. Production code dates, lot numbers and location of plants were not recorded on the finished product packaging. The BC manufacturing plant received some of its processed beef treats, and all of its processed salmon and shrimp treats from the WA manufacturing plant.
Cultures of shrimp, salmon and beef pet treats manufactured at theWA plant and collected at the BC plant by Canadian authorities and cultures of salmon treats collected at theWA plant by USA authorities yielded S. Thompson indistinguishable by PFGE from the outbreak strain. The salmon treats contained up to 80,000 CFU of Salmonella per gram. Pet treats from the BC and WA plants also contained other Salmonella serotypes including S. Montevideo, S. Newport, S. Give, S. Meleagridis, S. Cerro, S. Muenster, S. Agona, and S. Anatum. Both manufacturing companies issued voluntary recalls of the implicated products in June 2005.
Editorial - CDC Atlanta
In 2004, there were 5,085 laboratory-confirmed cases of human Salmonella infections in Canada, and 35,661 laboratory-confirmed cases in the USA(1,2). Studies in the USA have shown that for each laboratory-confirmed case of Salmonella infection, there are 38 Salmonella infections in the community, indicating that over one million people in Canada and the USA may be infected with Salmonella each year(3). Although salmonellosis is generally a self-limiting infection, it can result in serious illness in more vulnerable populations such as the very young, the elderly, and immunocompromised persons. Most human Salmonella infections are acquired by handling or consuming contaminated food products, particularly foods of animal origin. Infections are also acquired by direct and indirect contact with farm animals, reptiles, chicks, and occasionally companion animals. Infected animals usually shed Salmonella in their feces. Humans can become infected when contaminated food, hands, or other objects are placed in the mouth; therefore, hand washing is critical to prevent Salmonella infection following contact with animals. In recent years, an increasing variety of animal by-products, such as pig ears, have become available for purchase as animal-derived pet treats for companion animals. Animal-derived pet treats have been associated with previous outbreaks of human Salmonella infection in Canada. In 1999, contaminated pig ear pet treats were confirmed as the source of an outbreak of human S. Infantis infections in several provinces(4,5). In 2002, contaminated pet treats imported from Texas were associated with human S. Newport infections in Calgary(6). Follow-up investigations in Canada and the USA indicated that pet treats are frequently contaminated with Salmonella. In Canada, following the 1999 outbreak, Salmonella was isolated from 48 (51%) of 94 samples of pig ear pet treats purchased from retail stores in Alberta(5). In theUSA, Salmonella, including S. Infantis, was isolated from 65 (41%) of 158 samples of pig ear and other animal-derived pet treats purchased from retail stores in 1999-2000(7). The S. Infantis isolates from the patients in Canada and the pet treats in the USA were indistinguishable by PFGE.
Detecting and controlling the transmission of Salmonella via pet treats poses several challenges(. Animal-derived pet treats are often contaminated with Salmonella, and the dehydration procedure used to make pet treats may not be effective at eliminating Salmonella. Aside from direct contact with contaminated pet treats, transmission of Salmonella to humans may also occur indirectly through the pets. Pets consuming contaminated treats may be colonized with Salmonella but asymptomatic, thus becoming unknown sources of contamination in the household. Families with young children or elderly household members who feed their pets animal-derived pet treats should be particularly careful as Salmonella infection in these age groups is often more severe.
In Canada, pet treats are not regulated, but the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has used the Animal Health Act to encourage or enforce product recall. The Public Health Agency of Canada and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council are collaborating to improve product safety.
In the USA, pet treats are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Salmonella-contaminated pet treats are considered adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. After the 1999 Canadian outbreak, the FDA encouraged industry to take voluntary steps to ensure the absence of Salmonella in pet treats. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association published ¡°Guidelines for the Manufacturing of Natural Pet Treats for Pets¡± to educate its members(9). The FDA initiated annual nationwide testing of pet treats for Salmonella. Because the prevalence of Salmonella in pet treats in the USA has remained constant over time, the FDA will broaden its use of enforcement actions to ensure compliance with the Act.
Pet treat manufacturers, retailers, consumers, and public health authorities should be aware of the potential for animal-derived pet treats to serve as a source of Salmonella for human disease. Public health authorities should routinely consider this possibility during their investigations of cases or outbreaks of human salmonellosis.
Recommendations
1. People should always wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling pet treats and their pets.
2. People at increased risk for infection or serious complications of salmonellosis (e.g., children aged < 5 years, elderly and immunocompromised people) should avoid contact with animal-derived pet treats.
3. Pet store owners, health-care providers, and veterinarians should provide information to pet owners about the potential health risks of animal-derived pet treats, and prevention of salmonellosis.
4. Pet treat manufacturers should implement a bacterial kill step in the processing of pet treats, such as heat treatment or irradiation.
Acknowledgements
We would like to thank our public health and laboratory colleagues from Alberta, British Columbia and Washington State and the CFIA and FDA for their assistance in this investigation.
References
1. Notifiable Diseases Reporting System, Surveillance and Risk Assessment Division, Centre for Infectious Disease Prevention and Control, Public Health Agency of Canada. 2006.
2. CDC. Salmonella surveillance: Annual summary, 2004. Atlanta, Georgia: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, 2005.
3. Voetsch AC, Van Gilder TJ, Angulo FJ et al. FoodNet estimate of the burden of illness caused by nontyphoidal Salmonella infections in the United States. Clin Inf Dis 2004;38:S127-34.
4. LCDC. Human health risk from exposure to natural dog treats. CCDR 2000;26(6):41-2.
5. Clark C, Cunningham J, Ahmed R et al. Characterization of Salmonella associated with pig ear dog treats in Canada. J Clin Microbiol 2001;39:3962-68.
6. Pitout JDD, Reisbig MD, Mulvey M et al. Association between handling of pet treats and infection with Salmonella enterica serotype Newport expressing the AmpC ©¬-Lactamase, CMY-2. J Clin Microbiol 2003; 39:538-42.
7. White DG, Datta A, McDermott P et al. Antimicrobial susceptibility and genetic relatedness of Salmonella serovars isolated from animal-derived dog treats in the USA. J Antimicro Chem 2003;52:860-3.
8. Finlay R, Reid-Smith R, Weese JS. Human health implications of Salmonella-contaminated natural pet treats and raw pet food. Clin Infect Dis 2006;42:686-91.
9. American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, Inc. Guidelines for the Manufacturing of Natural Pet Treats. Available at: http://www.appma.org/ Accessed: March 20, 2006.
Source: Shendra Brisdon, CPHI(C), CD Public Health Inspector, Fraser Health Authority; Eleni Galanis, MD, MPH, FRCPC, Physician Epidemiologist, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, BC, Canada; Romulo Colindres, MD, MPH, Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta GA; Larry Crowe, CPHI(C), Enteric Investigations, Calgary Health Region; Lorraine McIntyre, Gastroenteritis Outbreak Coordinator, Supervisor, Food Poisoning, Environmental Services, Laboratory Services, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control; Rebecca Baer, MPH, Epidemiologist,Communicable Disease Epidemiology, Washington State Department of Health; Laura MacDougall, MSc, Surveillance Epidemiologist, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control; Lynn Wilcott, BSc, P. Ag. Food Safety Specialist, British Columbia Center for Disease Control; Larry Gustafson, MD, MHSc, Medical Health Officer, Fraser Health Authority; Ana Paccagnella, BSc, RT, Supervisor, Enteric Bacteriology, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control; Linda Chui, PhD, Molecular Program Leader, Provincial Laboratory for Public Health (Microbiology), Alberta, Canada; Doug Everett, CPHI(C), Manager, Environmental Public Health, Alberta Health and Wellness; Diane MacDonald, MHSc, Foodborne, Waterborne and Zoonotic Infections Division, Public Health Agency of Canada; Andrea Ellis, DVM, Foodborne, Waterborne and Zoonotic Infections Division, Public Health Agency of Canada; M Leslie, DVM, MPH, Public Health Veterinarian, Communicable Disease Epidemiology, Washington State Department of Health; Christine E Keys, Microbiologist, Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition; Henry Ekperigin, DVM, MPVM, PhD, Food & Drug Administration, Center for Veterinary Medicine; Mark L Collins, Consumer Safety Officer, Food and Drug Administration, Seattle District Office; A Drake, MPH, Epidemiologist, Communicable Disease Control, Epidemiology & Immunization Section, Public Health - Seattle & King County; J Koepsell, MS, Epidemiologist, Communicable Disease Control, Epidemiology & Immunization Section, Public Health - Seattle & King County; C DeBolt, RN, MPH, Epidemiologist, Communicable Disease Control, Epidemiology & Immunization Section, Public Health - Seattle & King County; S McKeirnan, RN, MPH, Epidemiology Response Coordinator, Communicable Disease Control, Epidemiology & Immunization Section, Public Health - Seattle & King County; J Duchin, MD, Chief, Communicable Disease Control, Epidemiology & Immunization Section, Public Health - Seattle & King County; Janelle M. Johnson, Microbiologist, Food and Drug Administration, Pacific Regional Laboratory Northwest; Doris E Farmer, Microbiologist, Food and Drug Administration, Denver District Laboratory; Fred Angulo, DVM, PhD, Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.

E. coli infections up in S.D.
25.jul.06
Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, South Dakota)
http://www.argusleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060725/NEWS02/60725011
sTate health officials were cited as saying today that reported cases of E. coli bacteria infection in South Dakota in 2006 are slightly higher so far this year, and that 16 cases of E. coli have been reported so far this year, compared to 13 cases reported by the end of July 2005.
State epidemiologist Dr. Lon Kightlinger was cited as saying people should take precautions in handling food and to practice good hygiene to avoid infection.
Kightlinger was further cited as saying 60 percent of South Dakota cases in 2006 have been children younger than 20 years old, and 25 percent of cases are children three years old and younger. Three of the E. coli cases have resulted in HUS, all in children 13 years and younger. There have been no deaths.

Cadbury to consider payouts for victims of salmonella outbreak
22.jul.06
Independent Online Edition (UK)
Martin Hickman
http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/health_medical/article1190550.ece
Cadbury was cited as sayiing it will consider compensating victims of salmonella poisoning after health officials named its chocolate as the prime suspect for an outbreak earlier this year.
Britain's biggest confectioner promised to "take seriously" any case arising from a mysterious spate of infections throughout the spring, which put two children in hospital.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) concluded that consumption of infected Cadbury's products was the "most credible explanation" for 37 cases of salmonella poisoning reported between March and July this year.
The statement is another blow to the reputation of Cadbury - against whom the Food Standards Agency and local authorities are considering a prosecution for breach of health and safety legislation.
The company took five months to inform the Food Standards Agency that salmonella had infected chocolate crumb at its Marlbrook plant in Herefordshire in January.
Even then, as it withdrew one million bars of seven products from sale last month, the FTSE 100 company was insisting its chocolate was safe to eat.
Yesterday, the HPA said that of 49 non-travel-related "primary cases" of Samonella Montevideo since 1 March, 37 were of the same strain of salmonella, SmvdX07, that was found in Cadbury's products including Dairy Milk.
Detailed food histories for 15 of the patients - whose average age was two - discounted many common sources of food poisoning such as eating out and takeaways. The only strong link was that 13 of them had eaten Cadbury products.

Gastrointestinal illness strikes 105 passengers, 20 crew members aboard cruise ship returning from voyage to Alaska
18.jul.06
The Vancouver Sun
Glen Bohn
VANCOUVER - One hundred and twenty-five people became sick on a large cruise ship that returned to Vancouver on Sunday after a seven-day Alaskan cruise.
A Health Canada official said those people -- 105 of the 2,282 passengers and 20 of the 952 crew of the Celebrity Cruises ship Infinity -- had symptoms consistent with common gastrointestinal illness called Norovirus, which results in nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Laser system offers cheaper, faster pathogen detection
By Ahmed ElAmin
Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/
28/07/2006 - A pathogen detecting system that uses scattered laser light can cut costs and speed up safety checks for food processors, researchers developing the technology claim.

New hygiene regulations brought in the by the EU at the start of this year impose tougher and more stringent testing requirements on food processors, making it necessary for them to do the job as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Researchers at Purdue University say they have developed a new system that analyses scattered laser light to quickly identify bacteria for applications in medicine, food processing and homeland security at one-tenth the cost of conventional technologies.

The technique, called Bacteria Rapid Detection Using Optical Scattering Technology, works by shining a laser through a petri dish containing bacterial colonies growing in a nutrient medium.

A major motivation for the research is to reduce the time it takes for industry to identify harmful organisms in food processing. Scientists in food-processing plants routinely grow cultures to test for dangerous pathogens, said Paul Robinson, one of the researchers of the project at the university's Bindley Bioscience Centre.

"The dairy industry, for example, grows bacteria on petri dishes to make sure products are safe, but industry is trying to develop technologies that will very quickly identify organisms," Robinson said. "The same sort of thing holds true for clinical microbiology and other laboratories. With our light-scattering method, it takes less than five minutes to identify harmful organisms after they have grown in a petri dish. The analysis is faster than any other methods in existence, and it's simple."

The machine bounces particles of light, called photons, off of a bacterial colony. The pattern of scattered light is projected onto a screen behind the petri dish.

The "light-scatter pattern" is recorded with a digital camera and analyzed with sophisticated software to identify the types of bacteria growing in the colonies.

The work was started by Arun Bhunia, a professor of food microbiology and Daniel Hirleman, head of Purdue's mechanical engineering school. The findings are published this month in the Journal of Biomedical Optics.

Hirleman adapted some of his previous work to develop new types of sensors that analyzing light scattering off objects for applications such as detecting impurities on silicon wafers in computer chip manufacturing and measuring the size and speed of fuel droplets in jet engines.

"We adapted some ideas from that research to build a scatterometer for food safety, and now we're using the second generation of that instrument," Hirleman stated in a press release.

A critical part of the technique was made possible by adapting a mathematical method created in 1934 by Dutch physicist Fritz Zernike, who created a set of mathematical "descriptors" subsequently called radial Zernike polynomials. These descriptors can be used to analyze how light-wave patterns are distorted after passing through lenses having complex flaws or aberrations.

Individual bacterial colonies growing in a petri dish also distort light passing through them, just as a lens changes light-wave patterns.

"Therefore, we can treat the colonies as lenses and use Zernike polynomials," Rajwa said.

Factors such as the shape of bacteria, their refractive indexes - or how much they bend light - the types of substances secreted by a particular bacterium and the distance between individual bacteria in a colony, all contribute to how a colony distorts light.

The procedure identifies a bacterial colony by comparing an image of its scatter pattern against a template that contains 120 features described by Zernike polynomials.

"A good analogy is the method used by law enforcement to identify a person's face using specialized recognition software," Rajwa stated. "You could describe the face as being made up of a combination of geometric shapes, like ovals, squares and triangles, but each face has a unique blend of these shapes. We did something similar. We reduced complicated scatter patterns to 120 numbers based on Zernike polynomials."

The reduced collection of numbers describes how well the colony fits the template, and then pattern recognition software is used to classify the bacteria.

"One of the most important developments is being able to convert images to numbers, which makes it possible to classify the patterns," Rajwa said. "We are able to take images and convert them to numbers that uniquely describe every picture."

The researchers used the new system to classify six species of listeria, only one of which is a dangerous food-borne pathogen for humans.

"If you have a mixture of different listeria, you would like to know which is the one that can kill you," Rajwa said. "We took pictures of the scatter patterns from different listeria, and we were able to classify all of them accurately."

The scientists used to system to accurately identify other types of bacterial colonies, including salmonella, vibrio, E. coli and bacillus.

"We were able to classify bacterial colonies with greater than a 90 per cent probability of being correct, which is as good as you could do with equipment costing more than $100,000, " Rajwa stated. "And, unlike conventional systems, our method is 100 percent non-invasive, which means we can carry out the procedure without staining, manipulating or killing the biological samples."

Rajwa says the technology does not require complicated lab equipment. A system could be designed so that it wouldn't require someone with a doctoral degree to operate.

"The whole beauty of the system is you don't invade the biological environment that you want to measure," Rajwa stated. "If you are working with stem cells, you don't want to stain them to see if they are stem cells. You want to be able to look at colonies on a petri dish without touching the colonies, without staining or destroying the colonies."

A mass-produced system based on the technology would consist of inexpensive, off-the-shelf hardware, such as red lasers and low-resolution digital cameras available at consumer electronics stores, and likely would cost less than $1,000, the researchers calculate.

The research has recently received funding from the US Department of Agriculture through Purdue's Centre for Food Safety Engineering.

The researchers say further work will include research to develop a graphical user interface.

"Now it requires a qualified, trained person to do all the recognition," Rajwa stated. "We want a system where you can actually put a petri dish or some other container into the system, you press enter and the computer says, 'This is salmonella of this type and this strain, ' and it does this quickly in real time. There is absolutely no fundamental reason why we wouldn't be able to do this, and we are pretty close to having an actual prototype of a product that could be commercialised."

The researchers have filed a provisional patent for the data-processing technique, and a full patent application has been filed on the underlying light-scattering technology.

Carbon monoxide meat packaging system offers key food safety benefits, new University analyses show
July 26, 2006
AMI Media Release
www.meatami.com
Washington, DC- New university-based analyses show that a meat packaging system that uses low oxygen combined with gases including minute levels of carbon monoxide to prevent premature browning also can prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
The new analyses -- done independently of one another by Dr. J. Chance Brooks, assistant professor of meat science at TexasTech University, and Dr. Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia¡¯s Center for Food Safety and Quality Enhancement ? showed that this packaging system effectively prevented the growth of pathogens that were artificially introduced into packaging systems.
In a story reported by WSB TV Atlanta July 17, Dr. Doyle, who did a limited analysis at the request of a local reporter, said, ¡°The carbon monoxide [packaged] beef would be safer, it would also look better and taste better. This is a good process.¡±
This news seems to have prompted another desperate press release by Kalsec, Inc. this week attacking this innovative system that prevents spoilage, prevents premature browning and maintains flavor of retail meat products.
¡°Kalsec¡¯s behavior is like that of a temperamental child who doesn¡¯t get his way. FDA has affirmed the acceptability of this system eight times. Leading scientists have said the system is both safe and offers clear benefits. But still, Kalsec kicks and screams and refuses to concede,¡± said AMI Foundation Vice President of Scientific Affairs Dr. Randy Huffman. Huffman pointed to a recent scientific perspective published in the May 2006 edition of the journal Food Technology in which four globally recognized food scientists wrote, ¡°Claims that CO packaging will result in unsafe products is scientifically not sound.¡± The scientists stated ¡°a valid argument can be made that CO packaging creates opportunities to increase safety.¡± The co-authors concluded: ¡°Because scientific studies have validated the safety of low-CO packaging technology for fresh meat, it seems appropriate to let the marketplace decide the success or failure of the process.¡±
¡°Kalsec¡¯s tired claims that this system is harmful to consumers are as scientifically believable as the once held notion that the earth is flat. Both claims can be scientifically dismissed ¡± Huffman added. He speculated that Kalsec is seeking victory in the court of public opinion because their case would lose on its merits in a court of law.
Huffman pointed out that this low-oxygen packaging system is much like other gas packaging systems used to maintain the crispness of potato chips, the pop of a soda, and to prevent wilting in bag salads. It is a technology to be valued, not disparaged. He cited the following additional comments from leading experts as evidence of the packaging system¡¯s safety:
Dr. Melvin Hunt, professor of meat science, Kansas State University, to the Kansas City Star:
"Over the last few weeks, media have persuaded some consumers that they are being misled because meat that would have otherwise turned brown is still red. Some retailers are now fearful of selling products packaged in this impressive, safe and cutting edge technology. The effort to discredit the science that went into it ? and efforts to discredit the federal agency that reviewed it three times -- is scientifically inaccurate and unfortunate.
A close look at this media scare shows motives that are as transparent as carbon monoxide itself. But carbon monoxide packaging technology has a real benefit to consumers. The only benefits generated by these unfounded safety allegations are to the company that stirred the controversy ? and to the media outlets that benefit from the attention grabbing story."
Texas Tech University Press Release:
¡°In a related microbiological study, a research team headed by Dr. Mindy Brashears found that beef inoculated with pathogenic bacteria, Salmonella and E. coli O157, and then packaged with carbon monoxide had less pathogenic bacteria after 14 days than similarly inoculated beef wrapped in traditional packaging without carbon monoxide.¡±
Dr. Alden Booren, professor, Michigan State University in a letter to The Honorable Carl Levin, U.S. Senate.
¡°The risk of a significant food safety hazard occurring in meat packaged using this low-oxygen carbon monoxide modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) technology does not change when this technology is compared to conventional retail meat wrap technologies. For this reason I would not hesitate to utilize the technology in the Meat Laboratory Pilot Plant, a facility I help manage at Michigan State University.¡±
Dr. Gary Acuff, professor, food microbiology, Texas A & M University in a letter to the editor of Meatingplace magazine.
¡°Low-oxygen modified atmosphere packaging is a safe technology that provides significant consumer benefits, not the least is a longer shelf-life than aerobic packaging. Adding very low levels of carbon monoxide to the atmosphere provides an acceptable color that helps meet consumer expectations. The use-by date on every package tells consumers the point at which the product will no longer be acceptable. This is not a misleading technology; however, facts seem to be getting lost in the publicity generated by critics.¡±
EU Scientific Committee on Food, 2001.
The EU Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) in 2001 determined that the use of CO under intended conditions of use in meat packaging is safe. The committee concluded ¡°there is no health concern associated with the use of 0.3% to 0.5% CO in a gas mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen as a modified atmosphere packaging gas for fresh meat provided temperature during the storage and transport does not exceed 4 C.¡±
Huffman also urged consumers and media to visit www.meatsafety.org for additional information about this packaging system and a host of other meat safety issues.

FDA Approval for First Portable Endotoxin Test System
Souce from: Rapidmicrobiology.com
Charles River Laboratories International, Inc. has received FDA approval that allows for the sale and marketing of the first portable endotoxin test system. The patented Endosafe-PTS¢â is used to detect endotoxin contaminants in drugs, medical devices, biological products and other unique applications including NASA spacecraft missions. The PTS is a revolutionary technology that:

is a portable handheld system that can be used for point of use testing
provides quantitative results in 15 minutes rather than current methods which take from 45 minutes to several days
requires minimal technical training ? just insert the PTS cartridge, add sample and read quantitative results
The Endosafe-PTS¢â system can accelerate the discovery and development of new drugs by offering quick and easy endotoxin contamination results, thereby saving pharmaceutical companies, medical professionals and scientists both time and money in the manufacturing process.

Real world applications for the PTS system include: Medical devices & injectable drugs, Dialysis clinics, Nuclear medicine ,Hospitals, Stem cell research and Planetary protection

The PTS utilizes disposable cartridges that are pre-loaded with reagents and a portable, handheld reader to provide quantitative endotoxin amounts. Because of its portability, the PTS allows for testing to be performed at the point of sample collection. In addition, the simple one-button operation requires minimal technical training and the data can be stored in the PTS, downloaded to a computer and/or printed.

NASA recently used the Endosafe-PTS¢â to monitor the environment for microbial contamination during the construction of the Mars exploration rovers "Spirit" and "Opportunity". PTS units are scheduled to be flown to the International Space Station to perform environmental monitoring for microbial contamination. Future applications of PTS may include detecting signs of microbial life on Mars.

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