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FDA to recall more bottled water in bromate scare
By Chris Mercer
Source of Article:
8/24/2006 - America¡¯s food safety watchdog is expected to announce the recall of several bottled water drinks, thought to contain cancer-causing bromate above the legal limit in the US, has learned. The recall is expected to involve a range of private label bottled waters taken from the Springbrook Springs source in Concord, New York, including water sold by the TopCo co-operative under its Food Club brand. Long-term exposure to bromate may increase consumers' risk of cancer, according to the US government's Environmental Protection Agency.
The news comes only a couple of weeks after upmarket US retailer Wegmans recalled its Food You Feel Good About Spring Water because of bromate. Company tests confirmed some drinks contained bromate up to two-and-a-half times the level considered safe by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Wegmans, which also uses the Springbrook Springs source, was alerted to the problem with its water by an independent lab, which claimed it found bromate levels in the drink at 27 and 28 parts per billion (ppb). The FDA maximum is 10ppb. That same lab said it found a similar problem with some other bottled waters, including TopCo's Food Club, using the same source. FDA scientists have been investigating the problem, and several retailers are thought to be involved. Wegmans had warned rivals to be on their guard after its own recall. ¡°It does not affect other brands sold at Wegmans, but it does affect other brands produced by the same supplier for other retailers,¡± the group said.
The FDA has so far declined to comment on the issue, but an announcement is expected soon. The companies involved were also unable to comment at the time of publishing.
There is thought to be no immediate risk to consumers' health.
The issue throws up yet another problem for drinks makers after revelations about benzene in soft drinks earlier this year.
The man behind the independent lab tests for bromate in water was lawyer Ross Getman, the same man who first alerted the FDA to the continuing presence of benzene in some soft drinks.
He praised Wegmans for its speedy response over bromate. ¡°Wegmans has demonstrated how a responsible corporation acts in connection with consumer health.¡±
Bromate is formed in water when ozone and bromide ions react together. The chances of bromate in water are higher when ozone is used as a disinfectant for mineral water, and especially in the presence of calcium chloride, which is a bromide derivative. Guidelines on how to avoid bromate in water have been published by the International Ozone Association.

Sanitation -- snapshots in sanitary equipment: Developing an eye for hygiene
Food Safety Magazine
Donald J. Graham
The complete article is available at:
The old adage ¡°a picture speaks a thousand words¡± is a well-used truism for a reason: Often, seeing something in a visual form sparks a much faster ¡°Aha!¡± moment than one might experience during the more complex process of reading. When you think about the scientific and engineering tomes that we in the food safety and sanitation profession read?not to mention regulatory codes, compliance documents and standards guidelines, company best practices policies, and more?it is also easy to understand why it is desirable to use pictures to tell a story.
We all work in fast-paced manufacturing and food handling environments that don¡¯t leave as much time as we may want to peruse the latest white papers or studies, and yet we are responsible for a wide range of activities that assure the safe production and delivery of foods to our customers. In addition, although we are in our food plants day in and day out, we do not always really see what¡¯s happening on the floor. Humans tend to become innured to the environments in which they routinely work and as a result, may not notice very slight changes in that environment over time. This tendency can pose a significant disadvantage to a food production company when the overlooked element is a food safety hazard.
Equipment is the lifeblood of the food processing plant and the industry understands the important role that the machinery itself can play in enhancing food safety through improved sanitation. But like many items in our daily environment, we may pass by production lines, blenders, piping and compressors every day without really seeing the potential or existing problems posed by unhygienic and/or poorly positioned equipment and auxiliary machinery parts. Sanitary design and sanitation are partners?because if the equipment is not designed and built to be cleaned, it¡¯s not going to get cleaned. If it is designed and built to be cleaned, sanitation will be more efficient and effective, increasing the food safety quotient. Understanding this is the first step to a successful, food safety payback outcome when plant sanitarians, engineers and maintenance crews discuss the purchase, upgrade, or renovation of processing and food-contact equipment.
Of course, the critical second step is to become more aware of what you may not be seeing when you look at existing equipment and components in order to make more informed choices, avoiding investing in poorly designed new equipment. Here, we¡¯ll provide some of the core questions you should ask of yourself, your sanitation, engineering and maintenance colleagues, and your equipment suppliers during the decision-making process, and illustrate with photographs some of the common sanitary design problems that may exist in your plant.
The complete article is available at:

An excellent choice for sanitation programs!
Lawrence, MA, August 22, 2006 Charm Sciences, Inc., is pleased to announce the release of FireFly-2¢â, a palm sized luminometer built for speed, reliability and convenience.
The FireFly-2¡¯s ergonomic design is modeled on the same platform as the Charm novaLUM¢ç. Both are light weight and run the same ATP hygiene tests, the PocketSwab¢ç Plus and the WaterGiene¢â to validate sanitation effectiveness and water quality. The FireFly-2 and novaLUM provide an excellent choice in monitoring surface hygiene with greatly enhanced sensitivity over conventional ATP surface hygiene swabs. The novaLUM has additional versatility. For example, it has an ATP based test to assist with allergen control programs (AllerGiene¢ç), and tests to verify thermal processing in dairy (PasliteTM) and meat products (CHEFTM test).
All FireFly-2 tests are conveniently stored, tracked and trended by the dedicated FireLinkTM software. The FireFly-2 stores 6,000 test results, and is configured to manage multiple sampling plans and surface types with a 1000 test sites per single plan.
Like the novaLUM, the FireFly-2 delivers rapid and cost effective monitoring of sanitation effectiveness. It utilizes a high speed data processor, a complete keyboard with a ¡¯rocker¡¯ toggle switch, and a direct swab chamber entry design, ensuring the fastest pre-operational results which accelerates the production process. FireFly-2 is manufactured rugged to operate in the toughest environments.
About Charm Sciences, Inc Headquartered in Lawrence, MA, Charm Sciences, Inc., is a developer and manufacturer of innovative reliable and accurate tests for chemical and microbiological residues. Established in 1978 by Dr. Stanley E. Charm, Charm Sciences is a science-based company dedicated to improving food safety worldwide using state-of-the-art manufacturing, and an unrelenting quest to develop and utilize emerging technologies.

USDA fails--miserably--to protect public from E. coli
Marler Clark LLP, PS
Marler Clark LLP, PS has seen an increase in business recently, and in light of the
current E. coli outbreak in Minnesota, I think that increase might be courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture. This is the agency that is responsible for, among other things, testing ground beef to ensure that the consuming public has a product free from E. coli O157:H7. What the agency has done, however, is slowly but surely erode the very testing mechanisms and requirements that are our protection against this lethal foodborne bacterium.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDOH), which was instrumental in detecting last fall's large-scale outbreak involving Dole lettuce, recently reported that at least seventeen Longville-area people have been confirmed to be suffering from E. coli infections in the last six weeks. The illnesses were caused by E. coli-contaminated ground beef. One woman died as a result, and the MDOH suspects that the number of victims is likely more than thirty. Additionally, meat companies from Georgia, Maryland, Tennessee, and Virginia have all recalled E. coli-contaminated ground beef in the last month. To its credit, USDA testing was responsible for three of these recalls.
But with a bug as dangerous as E. coli O157:H7, the USDA cannot be satisfied with the occasional recall. It has both the technology and capability to do much more to prevent E. coli from entering our meat supply.
What may come as a shock to many readers is that the recent Minnesota outbreak could have been prevented. A Minnesota Department of Agriculture investigation has revealed that, prior to final grinding into ground beef, USDA testing proved that certain constituent parts of the meat in question was contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.
Nonetheless, the USDA did not see fit to preclude the use of the contaminated meat in a ground beef product that it knew was destined for the human food supply.
"What we're looking at here is USDA's complete disregard for consumer well-being," said William Marler, an attorney who has represented hundreds of victims of E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks. "I'm left thinking, how could the USDA allow meat that it knows is contaminated with a lethal bacterium reach consumers' plates? I think I speak for the American public in saying that this is inexcusable."
"USDA has done a good job of wasting public resources by not stopping this outbreak before it started. We see again that USDA is basically an extension of the meat industry. Testing as performed and overseen by the USDA is a sham."

Encyclopedia of Rapid Microbiological Methods Now Available
souce from:
The Encyclopedia of Rapid Microbiological Methods is a culmination of many years of research, development and implementation of new technologies by a number of industry sectors, including pharmaceuticals, medical device, cosmetic and personal care, health and clinical, food and beverage, and municipal water, as well as government agencies and their subsidiaries, including bio-defense laboratories, first responders and homeland security. Furthermore, support for novel ways in which to conduct microbiological assays is becoming the norm for both regulatory agencies and pharmacopoeias, as demonstrated in recent initiatives and guidance documents provided by the FDA, EMEA, USP and Ph. Eur.

The encyclopedia attempts to pull together the opinions of these organizations, suppliers of new microbiology platforms, and the laboratories and endusers of the technologies that will be discussed within its pages.

Volume 1 provides an overview of microbiological methods and opportunities for industry, regulatory and pharmacopoeial perspectives, and validation strategies. Topics include the history of microbiological methods, risk-based approaches to pharmaceutical microbiology, the realities and misconceptions of implementing rapid methods in the manufacturing environment, the use of rapid methods in bio-defense and the food industry, PAT, comparability protocols, 21 CFR Part 11 and practical guidance on RMM validation and implementation.

Volumes 2 and 3 explore specific rapid microbiological methods, technologies and associated instrumentation, from both a supplier and an end-user viewpoint. Volume 2 concentrates on growth-based and viability-based rapid microbiological technologies, including flow and solid phase cytometry, ATP bioluminescence, impedance microbiology, and a variety of microbial identification platforms relying on physiological responses.

Volume 3 concentrates on artifact-based and nucleic acid-based technologies, the detection of Mycoplasma, and the use of microarrays, biochips and biosensors. Some of the platforms that are discussed include fatty acid analysis, MALDI and SELDI-TOF mass spectrometry, portable endotoxin testing, 16S rRNA typing, DNA sequencing, PCR, advances in Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) including Lab-On-A-Chip systems, and a novel instantaneous and real-time optical detection technique for airborne microorganisms.

American Meat Institute statement on new BSE case in Canada
American Meat Institute
AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle
"News of an additional case of BSE in Canada is unfortunate, but not unexpected. This announcement shows that Canada's surveillance system is working to target and eliminate any remaining cases of BSE in the country.
Canadian government data demonstrate a current high level of compliance with feed restrictions aimed at preventing the transmission of BSE via feed. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), preliminary information provided by the owner and a further examination revealed that the animal was likely between eight and ten years of age. Based on this information, exposure to the BSE agent likely occurred either before the feed ban was introduced or during its implementation. The estimated age of this animal is consistent with those of previous Canadian cases and exposure to a very low level of BSE infectivity.
Consumers should also be reassured to know that beef from the animal did not enter the food supply. However, it is important to remember that eating beef cuts has never been associated with any BSE-related disease. Parts of the animal that can pose a risk are removed and do not enter the U.S. or Canadian food supplies. Moreover, no variant CJD cases have occurred as a result of eating U.S. or Canadian beef products.
We hope and expect that this case will not adversely affect USDA's rulemaking efforts to restore all beef trade withCanada. We reiterate our confidence that BSE is being eliminated in North America and that Canadian and U.S.prevention systems are working to ensure that cases are identified and removed from the North American herd."

For 2 giants of soft drinks, a crisis in a crucial market
New York Times/AP
Amelia Gentleman
Two of the world¡¯s biggest brand names, known for wooing customers around the world, are facing a credibility crisis in one of their crucial emerging markets.
The stories explain that the Center for Science and the Environment announced in August that drinks manufactured by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo in India contained on average more than 24 times the safe limits of pesticides, which could come from sugar, water and other ingredients.
When those reports appeared on the front pages of newspapers in India, Coke and Pepsi executives were confident that they could handle the situation. But they stumbled.
They underestimated how quickly events would spiral into a nationwide scandal, misjudged the speed with which local politicians would seize on an Indian environmental group¡¯s report to attack their global brands and did not respond swiftly to quell the anxieties of their customers.
Three weeks later, Coke and Pepsi are still struggling to win back the confidence of consumers. Partial bans on their products remain in a quarter of India¡¯s states and a complex legal battle to overturn the bans is just beginning. The companies acknowledge that things have not gone smoothly.
The stories add that the battle offers a cautionary tale for multinational corporations doing business in developing countries, especially one like India, where the market for soft drinks is about $1.6 billion, with Coke holding about 60 percent.
In some ways, the immediate response from Coke and Pepsi came right out of crisis management text books.
The companies formed committees in India and the United States, working in tandem on legal and public relations issues. They worked around the clock fashioning rebuttals. They commissioned their own laboratories to conduct tests and waited until the results came through before commenting in detail.
Their approaches backfired. Their reluctance to give details fanned consumer suspicion. They became bogged down in the technicalities of the charges, instead of focusing on winning back the support of their customers.
A committee appointed by India's Health Ministry was cited as saying Tuesday that residue data reported by the Center for Science and Environment in New Delhi was flawed.
"The sampling method doesn't have a scientific and statistically valid basis," the committee said Tuesday, adding it didn't find "the conclusions of the research body to be correctly inferred."

Salt And Organic Acids May Increase Pathogen Virulence
21 Aug 2006
Source of Article:
Salt and Organic Acids May Increase Pathogen Virulence
Salt and organic acids may increase the virulence of Listeria monocytogenes, one of the most harmful food-borne pathogens plaguing the U.S. today, say researchers from New York. They report their findings in the August 2006 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. L. monocytogenes is attributed to 28% of all deaths in the U.S. related to food-borne illnesses. Foods considered to be at greatest risk for transmission are ready-to-eat products (RTE), with RTE meat products being the single most common cause of human infection. Researchers believe L. monocytogenes can grow in refrigerated temperatures and in the presence of organic acids and salt, indicating that exposure to certain environmental stress conditions may in fact enhance the organism's survival and induce expression of virulence genes.
In the study researchers measured the effects of temperature (7 or 37 degrees Celsius), pH (5.5 or 7.4), and the presence of salt and organic acids on the ability of L. monocytogenes to grow, invade cells, and survive exposure to synthetic gastric fluid. Results showed that the ability of L. monocytogenes to invade cells is affected by all elements with highest invasion occurring at 37 degrees Celsius and a pH level of 7.4. Although salt and organic acids appear to increase virulence during cell invasion, they alternately reduce the bacterium's ability to survive exposure to gastric fluid.
"Our results suggest that environmental stress conditions from specific foods may influence the L. monocytogenes infectious dose and thereby contribute to the association of food-borne infections with specific foods," say the researchers.
(M.R. Garner, K.E. James, M.C. Callahan, M. Wiedmann, K.J. Boor. 2006. Exposure to salt and organic acids increases the ability of Listeria monocytogenes to invade Caco-2 but decreases its ability to survive gastric distress. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 72. 8: 5384-5395.)

Most companies will have to wait years for nanotech's benefits
By Sean Roach Source of Article:
21/08/2006 - Most nanotechnology in the food industry is at zero commercial activity and will be limited to high-value products over the next few years, says the first detailed report on the technology¡¯s future. Today, the UK research group Cientifica publishes a nanotechnology report that attempts to fully understand the scope, integration and applications of nanotechnology in the food industry over the next ten years. While the introduction of nanotechnology will undoubtedly change the food industry, producers and suppliers have little knowledge of when these applications will be commercially available and if they will be cost effective for their products. This is the first detailed report to assess these concerns by studying nano-applications that are currently on the market. The report states that there are some uses of nanotech in food processing at the moment, but this is limited to the use of nanoclays in food packaging and the development of improved nutraceuticals. Cientifica estimates that there has been $17bn (¢æ13.2bn)worth of public nanotechnology funding, which has largely gone to nano-material sciences. However, the food industry is experiencing a trickle-down effect of that research which could be fully implemented over the next six years.

The most promising application of nanotechnology will be in active packaging. These are packaging materials that interact with the products they contain to preserve or enhance quality. Cientifica estimates that active packaging will be a $2.7bn (¢æ2.1bn) market by 2012. However, these nanotech solutions will only account for a meagre percentage of the $402bn (¢æ312bn) world packaging market. While active packaging is promising to improve the safety and quality of products, the price-tag will significantly hinder its integration into the world market. Cientifica believes that these advanced packaging solutions will only be viable for high-value products such as caviar in the near future. Producers of packaging for common products such as milk and meat will not find the benefits of nanotech packaging to be cost effective. Cientifica singled out four additional areas that will see commercial implementation in the next six years. This includes smart packaging that reacts to the environment, food safety nano-devices that will detect harmful contaminates, methods to change raw food ingredients into consumable products and additives that will be added to a final product to enhance its quality. These applications will create a $5.8bn (¢æ4.5bn) market by 2012, with active packaging and food safety showing the highest growth potential. Nano-additives will be the smallest contributor to the overall market largely due to the safety concerns regarding these materials, states Cientifica.The development of these materials are being spearheaded by the big players in the food industry who are looking to use nanotechnology to engineer, process and package food. Among the biggest companies with research and development agendas are Altria, Nestle, Kraft, Heinz and Unilever, as well as smaller nanotech start-ups. Cientifica has found over 150 applications in the food industry at present and states that the amount of companies applying nanotechnology to food to be in the area of 400. It is impossible to gauge the full-scale integration into the market as many companies regard their nanotech projects as sensitive.

These companies will be the main the drivers responsible for the eventual integration of nanotechnology into the broader market as the technology becomes more widespread and cost-effective, said Cientifica's CEO Tim Harper. "While there is so little on the supermarket shelf that you can buy today, a quick glance at the ingredients list on any processed food will show you the impact that chemistry has already had on the food industry,¡± said Harper. ¡°In every market, from textiles to plastics, where chemistry goes, nanotech is never far behind, leading to rapid adoption and high growth opportunities." The report is the first to give current markets for nanotechnology-enabled food products based on available products and market pull. Previous estimates relied on the number of patents filed and the amount of research going on in the field.
The 80-odd-page report is available today and will be a major cornerstone for the upcoming Nano4food conference that takes place in October.

Outbreak News
08/24. Stomach virus hits Flathead
08/24. More Scots than ever struck by norovirus sickness
08/24. Hepatitis outbreak spreads through Somogy County
08/24. China restaurant sorry over sick snails
08/24. Confirmed cases of E-coli could have local link
08/24. Tracing E. coli outbreak to source can help prevent further
08/23. Norovirus shuts down resort
08/23. Hospital warns of gastro
08/23. State looks into Salmonella issue: 56 people have been sicke
08/23. Number of people sick from eating snails in Beijing rises to
08/23. E. coli death is state's first in 3 1/2 years

FDA OK's Bacteriophages to Reduce L.monocytogenes on Meat Products
A mixture of bacteriophages, can be safely sprayed on meat and poultry to 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 preparation of bacteriophages infects only various strains of the Listeria bacterium and not human or plant cells, the FDA said. 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. 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.
FDA Approval of Listeria-specific Bacteriophage Preparation on Ready-to-Eat (RTE) Meat and Poultry Products