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Fresh Fruits, Veggies Can Trigger Allergy
Sun Sep 3, 7:02 PM ET
Source of Article:
SUNDAY, Sept. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Does your mouth get itchy after you eat fresh fruits or vegetables at this time of year? You may have oral allergy syndrome, say experts at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).
OAS, also called pollen-food syndrome, is caused by allergens such as ragweed, which begins to bloom in mid-August.
"The pollen released from ragweed is the airborne allergen most responsible for the onslaught of allergy symptoms at this time of year. In addition to sneezing and itchy, water eyes, and symptoms of OAS, ragweed allergies can take a heavy toll on the allergy sufferer's quality of life," Dr. Suzanne S. Teuber, chair of the AAAAI's Adverse Reactions to Foods Committee, said in a prepared statement.
OAS symptoms are the result of a "cross-reactivity reaction" between allergy antibodies directed toward target pollen proteins with similar proteins found in other parts of plants. Common symptoms of OAS included an itchy mouth and throat with mild swelling immediately after eating fresh fruits or vegetables.
People with ragweed allergies can experience OAS symptoms when they consume bananas, cucumbers, melon, zucchini, sunflower seeds, chamomile tea or echinacea.
OAS can also occur in people with birch tree allergy symptoms when they eat peaches, apples, pears, cherries, carrots, hazelnuts, kiwis, and almonds, the AAAAI said.
Generally, cooking foods will eliminate an OAS reaction, according to the AAAAI.

For and against: Are the dangers of childhood food allergy exaggerated?
British Medical Journal 333:494-496
Allan Colver et al
The complete document is available at:
The numbers of deaths from food allergy are small and not all are preventable. Allan Colver believes that the increasing prescription of emergency prophylaxis to children fuels anxiety rather than saving lives, but Jonathan Hourihane argues that there are no data to show that prescription of autoinjectors increases anxiety and their provision, as part of an integrated care plan, is justified
YES The natural course and epidemiology of food allergy are not the same in children and adults, and the associated dangers may also differ. Many statements on food allergy in children have been derived from adult populations or studies in which children and adults were not analysed separately. However, studies of children suggest that the dangers are overstated; this leads to unnecessary alarm for many families and schools and also to medical advice and management that may be disproportionate to the risk.

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Testing to be carried out for illegal GM rice
Friday 01 September 2006
The Food Standards Agency is taking action to ensure that testing and monitoring is carried out on consignments of American long grain rice in the UK.
The announcement follows a statement by the United States authorities that trace amounts of genetically modified (GM) rice have been found in a sample of rice in the US.
According to information provided by the UK's Rice Association, GM material has been detected at very low levels and could be present in imports already in the UK. No GM rice has been approved for sale in the EU and therefore GM varieties should not be present in imported rice.
The Agency is taking this action to ensure that future supplies of rice are GM free.
Although the European Food Safety Authority is carrying out a detailed evaluation, the Agency has already sought the advice on the safety implications of this rice from members of its independent scientific advisory committee on GM, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes. They have advised that on the basis of current evidence the presence of low levels of this GM material in the food supply is not a health concern.
All imports of long grain rice are being held at ports until they can be certified to be free of GM. The European Commission is leading discussions with the US authorities to ensure that no further products containing unauthorised GM material are exported to Europe.
FSA Director of Food Safety Dr Andrew Wadge said: ¡®The presence of this GM material in rice on sale in the UK is illegal under European health law, even at extremely low levels. This is why we are taking steps to test American long grain rice and ensure future imports are GM free.
¡®Food retailers are responsible for ensuring that the food they sell does not contain unauthorised GM material.
¡®Our independent scientific experts have looked at the data on this material and have concluded that there is no food safety risk. Therefore the Agency is advising people who have long grain rice from the US at home that they can continue to eat it.¡¯

Host defenses against Staphylococcus aureus infection require recognition of bacterial lipoproteins
PNAS Online Early Edition
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
Juliane Bubeck Wardenburg et al
Toll-like receptors and other immune-signaling pathways play important roles as sensors of bacterial pattern molecules, such as peptidoglycan, lipoprotein, or teichoic acid, triggering innate host immune responses that prevent infection. Immune recognition of multiple bacterial products has been viewed as a safeguard against stealth infections; however, this hypothesis has never been tested for Staphylococcus aureus, a frequent human pathogen. By generating mutations that block the diacylglycerol modification of lipoprotein precursors, we show here that S. aureus variants lacking lipoproteins escape immune recognition and cause lethal infections with disseminated abscess formation, failing to elicit an adequate host response. Thus, lipoproteins appear to play distinct, nonredundant roles in pathogen recognition and host innate defense mechanisms against S. aureus infections.

Prop 65 litigation passes hurdle
Lean Trimmings
Eliotte Bowerman
The Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, State of California, issued a unanimous decision on Aug. 31 in favor of the plaintiffs in the declaratory judgment action filed by the American Meat Institute and National Meat Association against Whitney R. Leeman.
The AMI-NMA lawsuit was triggered by Ms. Leeman's claim that the notice and labeling requirements of California's Proposition 65 are not subject to the pre-emption of state laws and regulations provided by the Federal Meat Inspection Act. Leeman also argued that the trade association's lawsuit was a "strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP)" filed in response to her service of notices on four meat companies that they sold meat containing cancer-causing chemicals and reproductive toxins without giving the warning required by state law (Proposition 65). Leeman filed her notices against the four meat companies in November 2004. AMI/NMA argued that the Federal Meat Inspection Act preempts the California law, a position strongly supported by the United States Department of Agriculture. USDA's position is that the kind of warning Leeman is seeking would be misleading as applied to meat that is USDA inspected and approved for sale. Subsequently, the California Attorney General (CAG) filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Leeman and arguing against federal preemption.
In their unanimous decision, the Court said: "we therefore conclude that the first
prerequisite for an anti-SLAPP motion is not present in this case because Leeman has failed to establish that the complaint arose from protected activity. Having determined that the complaint does not arise from protected activity, we need "not reach the anti-SLAPP statute's secondary question" as to "whether ... 'there is a probability that (plaintiffs) will prevail on the claim'" and we thus do not address the preemption issue." The case is now returned to the trial court in San Diego, which will address the merits of the AMI/NMA preemption claim.
Leeman has filed more than 60 suits in the state based on this California law, the most recent against two fast food companies.

Shigella outbreak shuts down local restaurant
01.sep.06 - San Diego, CA
Jermaine Ong
SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency was cited as saying that 10 people have been diagnosed with symptoms of Shigella, and traced to the Filbertos restaurant on 3446 University Avenue.
Investigators said they believe people eating at the restaurant between Aug. 24 and Aug. 28 may have been exposed to Shigella.
San Diego County Department of Health officials closed the restaurant on Aug. 31, and it will remain closed pending further investigation of any violations.

At least 19 taken ill at luncheon
New Haven Register (CT)
William Kaempffer
NEW HAVEN ? At least 15 people were hospitalized with nausea, cramps and vomiting Wednesday after a catered lunch at the United Illuminating Co. on Church Street.
City Fire Department EMS Supervisor Abe Colon was cited as saying that four other people became ill but declined to go to the hospital.
Inside the Connecticut Financial Center, city health department officials collected samples of the food, which included pulled pork and chicken, and shipped them off to a laboratory for testing to see whether food poisoning was to blame.
Until those results comes back, said city Director of Health William P. Quinn, it¡¯s impossible to conclusively say what caused the people to get sick.
"The incubation period, if it was food, would be very short. That¡¯s why we¡¯re not ruling anything out," said Quinn. "There are viruses that could spread quickly from person to person."

Lupin detection made easier
By staff reporter
Source of Article:
05/09/2006 - A new method of screening for the potentially hazardous plant substance Lupin will allow bakers to use the soya-alternative without running the risk of contravening EU law. UK food science company Hallmark Analytical Ventures (HAV) has developed equipment to accurately detect very low levels of the legume lupin in food.
Under an EC directive which will come into force in autumn, any product containing lupin must carry a label warning consumers as it has been known to cause extreme allergic reactions especially among peanut-allergy sufferers.
The UK's Food Standards Agency has warned peanut allergic consumers, who number 1 per cent of the UK population, to avoid products containing the substance. Having first been introduced to the food industry as an ingredient in wheat flour in the 1990s, lupin is still favoured by bakers who use it in flour and baked goods as a high-protein alternative to soya. It is particularly prevalent in speciality breads being gluten-free and a source of essential amino acids.

In addition, flour derived from the substance can also be used to replace eggs and butter thanks to its distinctive yellow colour.
The HAVen lupin Elisa detector can pick up one part per million and is designed to be used in laboratory conditions, five ready-to-use tests are given in each kit. It operates by establishing the protein content as a marker for lupin levels throughout the product as a whole and works at a range of between 1 to 16 parts per million, the detection limit is less than 0.25mg per kg of flour.

Tasting robot could be next generation quality and safety tool
By Ahmed ElAmin
Source of Article:
05/09/2006 - A "tasting" robot that can identify foods, drinks and their ingredients through the packaging provides a glimpse into the future direction of safety and quality control in manufacturing plants. The robot, designed as a 60 cm tall doll, is outfitted with infrared spectroscopic technology along with a computer processor and software. The robot can then emit a voice through its swiveling head and lit up mouth to identify the food, list its ingredients and give advice on potential health-related issues. NEC System Technologies has been working for the past two years with researchers at Japan's Mie University to combine its robot and pattern recognition systems with their analytical software in developing the robot. While NEC has been exhibiting the robot as a consumer-oriented gadget for giving advice, the sensor technologies it contains could easily be transformed into a device for performing safety and quality checks on packaged foods and drinks, before they leave the plant. NEC calls it the "world's first partner robot" with a sense of taste. The spectrometer is fitted into the robot's left arm, which emits a beam of infrared light on objects placed up against it. The robot than analyses the light to determine the chemical make-up.

Tasting by the robot involves the analysis of food components. The analysis includes estimating the major components such as sugar and fat, found in the food, estimating the presence of food components, and estimating the quantities of the identified components. "The tasting capability of the robot is not the same as that of a human," NEC stated in a press release outlining further improvements in the device's capabilities. "The human sense of taste is synthesized by taste cells on the tongue which senses sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and tastiness. Humans do not conduct an analysis of a food's components. We may be able to say that the creation of this robot is somewhat comparable to imitating birds in order to design airplanes."

The tasting robot uses infrared spectroscopic technology to analyze the components of a food. It transmits infrared rays at the food and measures the degree of absorption of certain wavelengths. Different foods give out different wave shapes, a kind of "food's fingerprint". When a certain molecule is present in a food, a ray of a specific wavelength is absorbed. As a result, the robot can estimate the major components, such as sugar and fat, and the quantities of these components present in a food. The robot's software is pre-loaded with food information. Last year NEC displayed tests in which the robot identified food without opening the package. It was able to identify between several types of cheese, such as Edam, Gouda and Camembert. It was also able to identify different meat products and breads, such as pain de mie, baguette and croissant. "When a new food is introduced to the robot, it will compare that food's absorption spectrum against the ones the robot has already cataloged and determine which ones are comparable to the food that has just been introduced," NEC's designers stated. "Also, the robot looks at the absorption rate for certain wavelengths and thus estimates the amount of each component contained in the food." In July this year NEC System Technologies and Mie University displayed tests at a hotel in Japan in which the robot was able to differentiate between different types of wines. The robot was able to name the brand and give a brief tasting note, along with some recommendations on compatible foods. In terms of absorbance spectra, differences among different types of wine are strikingly smaller than those among other types of foods, NEC noted in announcing the development. For this reason it is more challenging for the robot to discriminate between different types of wine than it is to differentiate between other types of food. "In order for the robot to be able to achieve the ability to differentiate wine we made several improvements," NEC stated. "Also, since the intention was to create a sommelier robot that can taste wine, we also included a feature that selects the wine suited to a customer's taste by carrying on a dialogue with him/her."
NEC says it is working on developing the robot's abilities in the prevention of lifestyle-related diseases and to help in the treatments for those diseases through dietary therapy.