Comprehensive News List
General Food Safety News/ Outbreak News/ Recall News/ New Methods News/
USDA/FDA
News/ On-Line Slides/ Job Information/ Training Network/
Internet Journal of Food Saety

8/21
2006
ISSUE:222

Sponsors

















Sponsorship Q/A

Click here
to go
Main Page

 

Click here
to go
List of Newsletters


To subscribe this Food Safety Newsletter,
Click here

 

On-Line Slides

Internet Journal of Food Saety

 

Job Openings

 

 

Current Job Information
Current Job Information

FDA issues Pacific Northwest shellfish warning
Source of Article: http://www.ift.org/news_bin/news/news_home.shtml
8/14/2006-The Food and Drug Administration is advising consumers not to eat raw clams harvested in the Pacific Northwest because of reports of a significant increase in gastrointestinal illnesses caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp). This advisory updates a July 31, 2006, advisory to consumers on eating raw oysters harvested in the Pacific Northwest.
"FDA is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and our state partners in this continuing investigation," said Dr. Robert Brackett, Director of FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. "We will continue to update the public as more information becomes known."
In recent months, there has been an unusual increase in bacterial illness associated with eating raw oysters and raw clams from the Pacific Northwest. The illnesses are associated with the naturally occurring bacterium Vp, which is most prevalent during summer months when water temperatures in the Pacific Northwest are most favorable for its growth. While Vp can cause mild gastrointestinal disorders in healthy individuals, older persons and those with weak immune systems are at greater risk for serious illness, such as septicemia (infection of the blood system).
Until the threat of Vp from shellfish harvested in the Pacific Northwest has passed, consumers are advised to thoroughly cook oysters and clams harvested from that area before eating. They also should thoroughly cook oysters and clams if they are not certain of their origin, or if they wish to further reduce their risk of infection from bacteria that may be found in raw oysters and clams.
Pacific Northwest oysters and clams are distributed nationally. To date there have been 72 laboratory confirmed and an additional 105 probable Vp illness reported from Washington State, Oregon, and New York linked to contaminated oysters and clams.
In Washington State, shellfish control authorities are identifying and closing harvest areas where oysters and clams associated with the illnesses originated. Washington State has initiated a recall of all shell stock oysters (in the shell) harvested from areas closed within the state.
Because of the potential for nationwide distribution, consumers are advised to follow recall instructions and return associated shell stock oysters to the retailer from which they were purchased. The FDA is currently working with state shellfish authorities to take appropriate action to address any product that be remaining on the market.
Cooking destroys the bacteria, eliminating the risk of illness for both healthy and immunocompromised individuals. The majority of illnesses that occur from the consumption of raw shellfish are not life-threatening to the general population and commonly range from mild intestinal disorders of short duration to acute gastroenteritis. The symptoms are watery diarrhea, often with abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills. Usually these symptoms occur within 24 hours of ingestion and last no more than three days. Severe disease is rare and occurs most commonly in persons with weakened immune systems. Individual who believe they have experienced the same symptoms of illness after consuming oysters or clams should consult their health care provider and contact their local health department.

Methods for Reducing Levels of Acrylamide
Source of Article: http://www.foodingredientsfirst.com/

Aug 18,2006-Efforts to reduce acrylamide in food in the United States may depend on the fate of a proposed Federal law, according to the C&EN article. 18/08/06 Scientists now can identify strategies for reducing levels of acrylamide formed when starchy foods are baked, roasted, fried or toasted, according to an article scheduled for the Aug. 14 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, the American Chemical Society's weekly newsmagazine.
Those first roadmaps for responding to concerns about acrylamide -- a neurotoxin and probable human carcinogen -- have emerged from a flurry of scientific research done on the compound since 2002, writes C&EN Senior Editor Bette Hileman. The studies began after acrylamide was first identified in food; about 200 scientific papers on the compounds now have been published.
However, the research provides few answers about acrylamide's human health risks, C&EN says. The article discusses how food authorities in the United States and Europe have taken different approaches to regulating acrylamide levels in food. The highest levels occur in French fries and potato chips. Efforts to reduce acrylamide in food in the United States may depend on the fate of a proposed Federal law, according to the C&EN article. The law would restrict state efforts to regulate acrylamide and other food compounds more stringently than does the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "No Quick Fix for Acrylamide in Food: Intense scrutiny has provided methods of reduction but few answers about risk."

Meat preservatives may cause cancer: US study
Wed Aug 16
Source of Article: http://news.yahoo.com/
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The humble hot dog, and other meats preserved with nitrites, may cause genetic mutations known to cause cancer, said a study.
The University of Nebraska Medical Center began their study off-campus.
"We bought at a supermarket large batches of hot dogs," lead researcher Sidney Mirvish told AFP.
"We examined the hot dogs -- wieners, frankfurters or sausages -- because they are a widely consumed nitrite-preserved meat and because of the proposed linkage of such products with colon cancer," the study said. The researchers used water to extract compounds in the hot dogs, and found apparent N-nitroso compounds, the study said. The scientists put the water extract in contact with salmonella bacteria, which before long showed a significant mutation of its genetic code. "Most N-nitroso compounds are carcinogenic in laboratory animals," according to the study, "And these compounds are likely risk factors for the induction of several types of human cancer."
"Sodium nitrite is added to certain meat and fish products as a preservative," the study said. "If we show that's bad, they might change the manufacturing method of hot dog".
Not so, said an industry group. The American Meat Institute said the study did not at all represent the reality of hot dog manufacture. They said the level of nitrites in the Mirvish study was much higher than what is used in today's meat products. The study should not be used to place the hot dog into question, said James Hodges, of the institute.

Ecolab Receives 'Black Pearl Award' for Food Safety Excellence
Thursday August 17, 6:25 pm ET
Source of Article: http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/060817/20060817005702.html?.v=1
CALGARY, Alberta--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 17, 2006--Ecolab Inc. is the 2006 recipient of the prestigious Black Pearl Award of Corporate Excellence in Food Safety and Quality. Presented to Ecolab by the International Association of Food Protection (IAFP) during its Annual Meeting on Wednesday, August 16, the Black Pearl Award recognizes efforts in advancing food safety and quality through consumer programs, employee relations, educational activities, adherence to standards, and support of the goals and objectives of IAFP.

"Healthful" raw milk: A dangerous myth is back
17.aug.06
American Council on Science and Health
Ruth Kava, Ph.D., R.D.
http://www.acsh.org/factsfears/newsID.824/news_detail.asp
"Raw milk appeals to consumers who seek natural and unprocessed foods," writes Elizabeth Weise in USA Today, but what they and their children may also find are illness and, conceivably, death. It's ironic that a food process instituted back in the 1920s and 30s to prevent real, milk-borne disease, is now being demonized as a cause of nutrient depletion (which it is not). Indeed, some raw milk advocates blame pasteurized milk for everything from infant colic to osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancer (have they been talking to the anti-aspartame lobby?). None of this is true. In fact, the only problem with the USA Today article is that it presents the topic of raw milk as a debate -- there is none among serious scientists.
While raw milk may taste somewhat sweeter than the pasteurized variety, this hardly makes up for the fact that it is considerably more likely to carry disease-causing microorganisms. Indeed, as we have noted in the past, there have been well-documented outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 infection in children, an infection that can result in permanent kidney damage, if not death.
It's one thing to advocate for organic produce -- as long as it's washed well, it's unlikely to harm anyone's health. But rejecting pasteurization -- a process that has been proven to vastly decrease the probability of disease -- because of adherence to a quasi-religious belief in the power of "natural" products is beyond logic.
This is but another sad example of parents who wish only the best for their children's health actually putting that health in jeopardy -- much as do those who reject childhood vaccinations. We can only hope that the public health community exerts itself to counter the spread of the raw milk myth. As John Sheehan, the director of the Division of Dairy and Egg Safety of the Food and Drug Administration notes in the USA Today article, drinking raw milk is "like playing Russian roulette with your health." What's worse is playing the . with the health of one's children.

School Food Safety Facilities Lacking
Source of Article: http://english.donga.com/srv/service.php3?biid=2006081792428
AUGUST 17, 2006 03:34
After suffering the worst-ever mass food poisoning incident in Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development inspected school meal facilities and food cleanliness in 9,186 elementary, middle and high schools nationwide last month. According to the result released on August 16, many schools were not equipped with a sanitary system, heightening the possibility of another food poisoning incident. The result showed that among 8,024 schools (87.4%) that run their own school lunch programs, and 1,161 (12.6%) schools that have school meal providers, 6,982, or 76 percent, did not have a closed room where food ingredients are washed and sterilized. Nor did they have a separate cook room and a washing room, a circumstance where foods are highly likely to be contaminated. In particular, more than a half of the schools (57.5%) did not have a closed room where all the sterilizing work is done. Worse yet, most of the schools were not equipped with refrigerators (77.7%) or thermos boxes (89.2%). Only 55 percent of the schools cooked with washed and sterilized food ingredients. Schools that have meal providers (17%) had 2.7 times higher rate of using food not certified by Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) than those having their own lunch programs (6.4%). HACCP is a systematic preventative approach to food safety that addresses physical, chemical and biological hazards as a means of prevention. About 90 percent of the schools used tap water to cook. But the rest 10 percent, or 922 schools, used underground water as most of them are located in rural areas without tap water. Among them, however, 4.4 percent used underground water without going through chlorination, raising the danger of food poisoning by norovirus.

Family Sues Wendy¡¯s over E. coli Poisoning
Source of Article: http://www.marlerclark.com/news/wendys-ecoli002.htm
OGDEN, UT (August 11, 2006) A lawsuit was filed today against Wendy¡¯s, the Dublin, Ohio-based restaurant chain whose North Ogden, Utah, restaurant was traced as the source of an E. coli O121:H19 outbreak in late June, 2006. Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm that has successfully represented hundreds of E. coli victims, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Weber County residents William and J. Corey Cohron and their two young sons. The complaint, which was filed in Weber County Superior Court, seeks compensation for the family¡¯s significant medical-related expenses, economic losses, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Todd Gardner, a partner in Bateman Goodwin & Gardner, is serving as local counsel on the case.
Corey Cohron consumed a Wendy¡¯s ¡°BLT¡± salad on June 30, 2006 while in attendance at a CORE Academy conference held at Orion Junior High School in Harrisville, Utah. In the following days, Corey became ill with symptoms of E. coli infection, including diarrhea. The remaining members of the Cohron family subsequently fell ill with diarrhea. While Corey, William, and five-year-old Liam recovered from their E. coli infections without requiring medical treatment, seven-year-old Wil suffered a particularly severe E. coli infection. Wil required emergency room treatment on July 12, and was admitted to the hospital from July 12 through July 14. After discharge, Wil was seen by his primary care physician on July 17 and July 19, but his condition continued to deteriorate and he was seen in the emergency room again on July 21. Wil was diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)* and was admitted to Primary Children¡¯s Medical Center in Salt Lake City, where he remained from July 21 through July 27. While hospitalized, Wil tested positive for E. coli O121:H19.
On August 7, 2006, the Weber-Morgan Health Department announced that at least four individuals had contracted E. coli O121:H19 after eating iceberg lettuce prepared at the Wendy¡¯s restaurant located at 2500 N 400 E in North Ogden. WMHD suspects that the lettuce was cross-contaminated with another food source, and that the lettuce itself was not contaminated. WMHD stated that three of the four people confirmed with E. coli O121:H19 had developed HUS.
¡°Wendy¡¯s should have been aware of the dangers of cross-contamination leading to outbreaks since cross-contaminated lettuce was the source of an E. coli outbreak at two Oregon Wendy¡¯s restaurants in 2000,¡± said William Marler, managing partner of Marler Clark. Marler represented the families of several children who were part of the 2000 Wendy¡¯s outbreak and developed HUS and suffered acute kidney failure. ¡°Wendy¡¯s is in the business of selling food ? that food should be safe for human consumption.¡±
*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.
Marler Clark 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. Mr. Marler recently resolved an HUS case for $11 million. Marler Clark and Todd Gardner worked together to secure the largest known settlement on record in the State of Utah involving foodborne illness. Marler Clark has litigated dozens of cases against chain restaurants such as McDonald¡¯s, Wendy¡¯s, Carl¡¯s Jr., Subway, Friendly¡¯s, KFC, and Sheetz. Total recoveries for victims of food poisoning exceed $200 million.

IAFP 2006 marks another year of record attendance
17.aug.06
IAFP
www.foodprotection.org
More than 1,700 of the top industry, academic and government food safety professionals attended IAFP 2006 held at the Telus Convention Centre in Calgary, Alberta, Canada this week.
The meeting has earned recognition as the leading food safety conference and featured over 550 presentations on all aspects of food protection. Networking opportunities, committee meetings, tours and social events rounded out the meeting. Representatives from over 112 companies exhibited equipment and the latest innovations in food safety services.
IAFP 2007 will be held in Lake Buena Vista, Florida on July 8-11, 2007.

Warnex and Eppendorf form strategic alliance
11.aug.06
from a press release
LAVAL, QC -- Warnex Inc today announced that it has formed a strategic alliance with Eppendorf, a global leader in the laboratory equipment market, which will combine Eppendorf's state-of-the-art Mastercycler(R) ep realplex real-time PCR system with Warnex's pathogen detection kits and software to provide enhanced food safety tests. "In addition to offering our customers cutting-edge technology and high quality detection products, we are committed to providing them with superior technical support and customer service," said Mark Busgang, President and CEO of Warnex. "Our alliance with Eppendorf, a leader in the field of laboratory equipment and world-renowned for its level of quality and service, reflects our joint commitment to meet the needs of the industry."
"We are pleased to align with Warnex, a leader in the development of
pathogen detection kits, permitting us to enter into the food diagnostics
market," said Klaus Fink, President and CEO of Eppendorf AG. "With their
scientific expertise and strong commitment to research and development, Warnex
has developed a broad portfolio of pathogen detection tests and has led the way with quantitative real-time PCR tests. Together, our expertise will generate a complete and state-of-the-art food testing solution providing significant customer benefits."
The Warnex(TM) Rapid Pathogen Detection System offers a versatile detection and quantification platform, using real-time PCR technology combined with proprietary genetic markers and software, to rapidly and accurately determine the presence of pathogens in a sample. The system allows for the simultaneous detection of multiple pathogens and processing of samples within 3 to 48 hours, a significant improvement over traditional microbiology tests that require 5 to 7 days.
Warnex will offer Eppendorf's Mastercycler ep realplex real-time PCR system as an additional platform for its proprietary pathogen tests. The Mastercycler ep realplex (www.mastercycler.com) features the latest technology, combined with superior design and a quality finish. Powered by a highly accurate and uniform thermal engine, the system allows for multiplexing with 2 or 4 emission filters and comes with a full real time-PCR licence.

Family sues after getting sick at Deer Park Taco Bell
11.aug.06
Houston Chronicle
Ruth Rendon
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/metro/4110865.html
Family members who claim they ate food tainted with cleaning solutions at a Deer Park Taco Bell are, according to this story, suing the fast-food chain. Emily McDuffie, 30, of La Porte, was cited as saying in a personal injury lawsuit filed in a Harris County district court that she, her three children and her mother, Rejohnia "Lynn" Grimm, 50, of Pasadena, became ill after eating at the restaurant on June 15. The lawsuit contends that the family members were treated at a hospital emergency room after vomiting uncontrollably, losing their ability to speak coherently and suffering from swollen lips, numb tongues and abdominal pain. Attorneys Joel Androphy and Jeff Seely said the Taco Bell manager, Veronica Martinez, made the experience even worse by denying the food was tainted and merely offering the family a refund. When she did admit the food was contaminated, "Martinez was unwilling, however, to identify the specific type of chemicals that were in the tainted food," says the lawsuit, filed Aug. 3.
Not knowing what they had eaten prevented the family from receiving proper medical attention, the lawsuit states. Androphy was quoted as saying this week that, "Taco Bell waited eight days to tell these poor folks what was in the food." According to the lawsuit, the fast-food chain finally told the family the food had been contaminated with "Write-Away Graffiti Remover," a hydrocarbon solvent, and "Kay Sink Sanitizer," a chlorinating sanitizer. The food contained the chemicals because "a bin that contained tortilla chips was cleaned with those products," the lawsuit states. Rob Poetsch, a Taco Bell spokesman, said the company doesn't comment on specific litigation.

ISOPOL XVI 16th International Symposium on Problems of Listeriosis
March 20-23, 2007
Marriott Riverfront Hotel Savannah, Georgia, U.S.A.
www.aphl.org/conferences/ISOPOL.cfm
ISOPOL represents the premier international meeting on Listeria and listeriosis, and takes place every three to four years. The 16th international conference in this series will address a wide range of current research and trends related to Listeria, including pathogenesis, genetics and genomics, immunology, epidemiology, risk assessments, clinical aspects, food ecology, evolution, physiology, adaptations, diagnostics and subtyping.
The conference will be of interest to academic researchers; those with clinical, veterinary, public health and epidemiological interests; regulatory agency representatives; representatives from the food industry; and others with interests in Listeria and listeriosis. Participation by students and scientists in the early stages of their careers is highly encouraged. The conference will provide abundant opportunities for networking and exchange of information between senior scientists/ professionals, students, and young scientists. Plenary sessions and symposia will feature internationally renowned Listeria researchers.
Abstracts for oral presentations and posters are being solicited. To submit an abstract, please visit the conference website at www.aphl.org/conferences/ISOPOL.cfm and complete the online submission form. All abstracts must be submitted no later than November 1, 2006. Notification of acceptance will be provided by December 15, 2006.
More information on ISOPOL XVI may be found on the conference website. Questions on registration, logistics and abstracts should be directed to Terry Reamer at terry.reamer@aphl.org or 240.485.2776. Technical questions should be directed to ISOPOL@cdc.gov .

No. of victims in Moscow food poisoning rises to 300
17/ 08/ 2006
Source of Article: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20060817/52753404.html
MOSCOW, August 17 (RIA Novosti) - A total of 301 foreign and Russian construction workers have now been hospitalized in Moscow and its environs with food poisoning, a consumer watchdog said Thursday. The first cases emerged on Tuesday and by the end of Wednesday had risen to 225, but the national food watchdog said the number of patients had now topped 300.
"A total of 301 acute infectious intestinal cases have been registered among construction workers from Turkey, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Moldova, and [Russia's] the Stavropol Territory," said the Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare, which is investigating the incident. All the patients are suffering similar symptoms: high temperature, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The patients are largely in a satisfactory condition, but some have contracted a severe form of a "food bacterial poisoning," the service said. Earlier reports said the workers could have contracted salmonella poisoning, a potentially lethal infection that affects the gastrointestinal system. The service said food delivered for the workers was to blame, but added the source of the infection was still to be specified. On Tuesday, when the first patients arrived in hospitals, the workers were served breakfasts and lunches - soft-boiled eggs, meat sandwiches, rice with lamb and carrots, onions and spices, and a salad - cooked by a private firm. The service also said the workers had their meals served in improper sanitary conditions. "Numerous violations of sanitary rules for cooking have been revealed during the investigation," the service said.
The first patients arrived from a construction site on Tverskaya Street just a few steps away from Red Square and the Kremlin. Initial reports said poor-quality meat served as shashlik, or skewered meat cubes cooked over coals, sold by street vendors could have been to blame for the illnesses. Workers from former Soviet republics are the main source of cheap workforce for numerous construction projects in booming Moscow, many of which are implemented by Turkish firms. Poor working and living conditions of migrant workers, particularly from post-Soviet Central Asia who often stay in Russia illegally, have been continuously criticized by the Asian governments and rights groups.

Cryptosporidium outbreak in Missoula
10.aug.06
Missoula Missoulian (MT)
http://www.missoulian.com/articles/2006/08/10/web/webnews/wnews36.txt
MISSOULA - Six confirmed cryptosporidium cases - the story says two of them more epidemiologically linked - have been received by the Missoula City-County Health Department during the last week and a half.
The eight Missoula crypto cases have been exposed to many different recreational water sources during the 2 to 12 days prior to their onset of illness. The health department has been unable to identify a single common source.
The health department is urging residents who play or swim in recreational waters - including streams, rivers, lakes, pools, hot tubs and splash parks - to learn about crypto and take precautions.

Instant, portable, simultaneous pathogen inspection

Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/
18/08/2006 - US scientists have developed a miniature portable nanotech device to simultaneously detect numerous toxins, pathogens and chemicals in foodstuffs.
The development means food samples would no longer have to be sent to a laboratory for tests ? a comparatively lengthy and costly procedure ? but could be analyzed for safety and quality at the farm, slaughter house, during transport, or in a processing or packaging plant, the project's researchers say.
The system employs the use of nanotechnology - a science that arranges an atom's shape and size on the nanoscale so that it functions in a different way. The science holds the promise of helping manufacturers produce novel products and improve their processing and packaging.
A nanotech portable device would not only accelerate the testing procedure, but would allow more tests to be carried out on more produce samples, increasing the overall safety of the food supply. The process involves using nanowires and antibodies in such a way that a single test will be able to identify the presence and type of contamination as well as its concentration.
In developing the process, scientists manipulated individual nanowires by assigning each a recognizable pattern of silver and gold stripes. Each nanowire, while similar in composition, is identifiably different from one another in a system described by the scientists as ¡°nanobarcoding¡±.
Specific pathogen antibodies are then attached to the individual nanowires. For example; nanowire-one could have the antibody to Salmonella and nanowire-two the antibody to E. coli.
These strips are then placed on the meat. If a meat product has Salmonella the hazardous cells will bond with the Salmonella antibody on nanowire-one.
The results are still impossible to see with the naked eye at this point because of the microscopic nature of the technology. To overcome this hurdle, scientists developed a fluorescent solution that contains a multitude of antibodies. The nanowires are then exposed to the fluorescent antibodies. Because pathogens would have already bonded with antibodies on the nanowires, the fluorescent pathogens will also bond with these pathogens and their specific nanowires.
Scientists have dubbed this process "sandwich immunoassay" because the pathogen would be stuck between the antibody on the nanowire and the fluorescent antibody that it was later exposed to to make it visible. Since each nanowire is recognizable by its gold and silver striped pattern, a processor will instantly be able to tell which pathogens are present and in what concentration. The innovative technique was pioneered by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientist Jeffrey Tok, who collaborated with groups at Stanford University, University of California at Davis, and Oxonica technologies.
The technology is now being fitted with nano-sized nickel stripes, which will allow the nanowires to be magnetically separated during the required washing steps--a prerequisite for any portable microbiodetector.

FDA Says Viruses Safe for Treating Meat
FDA Declares Bacteria-Killing Viruses, Possible Alternative to Antibiotics, Safe to Treat Meat

Source of Article: http://abcnews.go.com/
WASHINGTON Aug 18, 2006 (AP)? A mixture of six bacteria-killing viruses can be safely sprayed on meat and poultry to combat common microbes that kill hundreds of people a year, federal health officials said Friday. The mixture of special viruses, called bacteriophages, would target strains of Listeria monocytogenes, the Food and Drug Administration said in declaring it is safe to use. The viruses are designed to be sprayed on ready-to-eat meat and poultry products just before they are packaged. The bacterium they target can cause a serious infection called listeriosis, primarily in pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems. In the United States, an estimated 2,500 persons become seriously ill with listeriosis each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those, 500 die.

The preparation of bacteriophages the name is Greek for "bacteria-eater" infects only various strains of the Listeria bacterium and not human or plant cells, the FDA said.
People normally come into contact with phages through food, water and the environment, and they are found in our digestive tracts, the FDA said.
The viral preparation is made by Intralytix Inc. The Baltimore company first petitioned the FDA in 2002 to allow the viruses to be used as a food additive. Messages left with the company and the FDA were not immediately returned Friday. The viruses are grown in a preparation of the very bacteria they kill, and then purified. The FDA had concerns that the virus preparation potentially could contain toxic residues associated with the bacteria. However, testing did not reveal the presence of such residues, which likely wouldn't cause health problems anyway, the FDA said.
Scientists have long studied bacteriophages as a bacteria-fighting alternative to antibiotics.