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Current Job Information
09/12. Quality Supervisor - Franklin Park, IL
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Nitrites in cured meat linked to lung disease
By Stephen Daniells
Source of Article:
12/09/2006 - People who regularly eat cured meats are 71 per cent more likely to have symptoms of lung disease than people who never eat this type of meat, says a new study from the US. The nitrite content of cured meat has been proposed to be behind the observations. But R. Graham Barr, an assistant professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York told that the research, the first to look at the effects of nitrite consumption in humans, has no current implications for the cured meat industry.
"This is a first, cross-sectional, observational study. Further research is needed before we make any recommendations regarding public health," he said. Nitrites are added to meat to retard rancidity, stabilise flavour, and establish the characteristic pink colour of cured meat. Studies and recommendations by health and governmental organisations ensure the safety of such products.

The implications of the research, said Professor Barr, may be on our understanding on what causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) beyond cigarette smoke.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) mainly affects smokers, and is the number four cause of death worldwide. It is characterised by chronic inflammation in the small airways of the lung and leads to excessive mucus production, excessive fibrous connective tissue development (fibrosis), and degradation of proteins (proteolysis). There is no cure.
Yet a reported 10 per cent of people who die from COPD are said to have never smoked in their lives, a statistic that suggests that other factors beyond smoking may play a role in the development of the disease.
One such factor may be nitrites in cured meat, Barr and his co-worker Rui Jiang told attendees at last weeks European Respiratory Society annual congress in Munich.
The American researchers noted that animal studies have shown that nitrites in food can produce reactive forms of nitrogen that can damage the lungs, causing alterations in lung structure similar to those that characterise emphysema.
Jiang and Barr used data from the third National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) on 7,581 subjects over the age of 44, for which adequate information was available on lung function and dietary habits. The subject group was representative of the US population of that age. The NHANES data was accumulated using food frequency questionnaires that asked participants to quantify dietary intake, including that of nitrite-rich foods, such as various types of cured meat (bacon, salami, cured ham, meat within ready meals, etc.).
Following adjustment for age, sex, ethnic group and smoking habits, the data show that subjects who consume cured meat at least once in two days on average (at least 14 times a month) have significantly more lung obstruction than those who never eat it at all.
Lung function was measured by the volume of air that could be forcibly blown out in one second, the so-called forced expiratory volume (FEV1). The researchers reported that people who ate cured meat at least once every other day had a FEV1 that was 115 ml lower lower than subjects who never ate cured meats.
"Subjects who frequently eat cured meat were 71 per cent more likely to have lung function results suggestive of COPD compared to those who never ate cured meats," said Barr.
He cautioned, however, that the results need to be backed up by significant further research before any recommendations could be made.
"First, we need to replicate it in other cross-sectional studies, then we need to replicate in longitudinal studies. The animal studies on nitrite intake and emphysema are about 3 decades old, so additional animal and bench research is warranted," Dr. Barr told has not seen the full study data, but Barr said that the research has been submitted to a peer-review journal for publication.

Court decision on Montana Quality Foods supports USDA
Elliotte Bowerman, Herd on the Hill
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued an opinion in John Munsell, et al v. USDA, et al on June 13 2006 of importance to all firms operating under a grant of USDA inspection. U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth dismissed Munsell's Motion for Discovery on Jurisdictional and Exhaustion Issues, and granted USDA's Motions to dismiss the complaint.
John Munsell operated Montana Quality Foods and Processing and supplemented beef that the company slaughtered and processed with chubs of coarse ground beef purchased from other processors. Ground beef produced by MQF was sampled by USDA in January 2002 and found positive for E. coli O157:H7. Munsell believed that the source of contamination was the coarse ground beef and wanted USDA to test these chubs. Munsell complained not only to the District Manager, but also to Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and Congressman Denny Rehberg (R-MT). Part of his claim was that he was the victim of retaliation by USDA.
Judge Lamberth, in his discussion of the circumstances, notes that the plaintiff is allowed all reasonable inferences in his favor. In making his decision, Judge Lamberth further notes that under law, "a person shall exhaust all administrative appeal procedures established by the Secretary or required by law before the person may bring an action ... against ... the Department ...or... an agency, office, officer, or employee of the department." Judge Lambert found that "the plaintiffs had available an administrative means of extricating themselves from the morass in which they allege the USDA placed them." Instead the Court found:
Plaintiff Munsell seems to have made a good faith effort to resolve the problem facing MQF; at bottom, this failure to exhaust is caused by a lack of any kind of final refusal of plaintiffs' claims by the USDA that plaintiffs can present to this Court. There seems only to have been an informal dialogue (as opposed to an appeals process) between Munsell, his Congressional representatives, and the USDA. .... Further, although plaintiffs clearly disagree with the assessment that Munsell's concerns had been satisfactorily addressed in that dialogue, they did not dispute that conclusion with the USDA.
The Judge found that had Munsell been "plaintive" rather than "amicable," in his
communications with the USDA, there might be grounds on which he could find the exhaustion (of the appeal process) satisfied. Judge Lamberth goes to the extent of laying out just how Munsell should have framed the appeal rather then simply have a dialogue with the regulatory officials.
NMA's regulatory staff works every day with managers of firms under inspection to respond to regulatory non-compliance claims, and notifications of regulatory enforcement action. It is critical to fulfill the regulatory response procedure so that, in the highly unlikely event that the affected firm needs to seek judicial action, its document trail will show that it first exhausted the administrative process.

Ham and cheese with virus, please!
Chicago Tribune
Julie Deardoff
In a thoroughly unappetizing development, the Food and Drug Administration has, according to this story, approved the use of six viruses to be sprayed on meat and poultry products to protect against harmful bacteria.
The story says you¡¯ll have no idea the bologna you¡¯ve purchased for junior¡¯s school lunch or the hotdogs you ate at the ballpark have been coated with a cocktail of viruses. Instead, we have to trust the understaffed, overwhelmed and industry-funded FDA that the products are safe.
The story adds that pre-packaged lunch meat is a perfect host for the bacteria Listeria, which kills about 500 people a year and sickens 2,500, because it¡¯s generally not cooked or reheated before being eaten.
Are processed meats really worth it? Not if you're pregnant, have a weak immune system or trying to lose weight. Here¡¯s a better idea, one that¡¯s much better for the environment and your body: eat a plant-based diet, what used to be known as "being vegetarian." Or, if you can afford it, go organic.

Small bugs on ships make big waves
Despite disinfection and inspection, nasty germs such as norovirus sometimes stow away
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Source of Article:
Stormy seas are known to turn the stomachs of cruise passengers, but another culprit can send passengers heaving to the rails. The microscopic norovirus or one of its cousins does so to thousands of cruise passengers each year. Cruise industry representatives note that most people don't get sick. The International Council of Cruise Lines reports that out of the more than 8 million North American passengers in 2005, fewer than 1 percent contracted norovirus aboard ships, compared with an estimated 8 percent of the U.S. population who contracted a virus on land.

Ships are disinfected routinely and regularly inspected by vessel sanitation experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Still, germs sometimes stow away, and the small bugs can have a big impact.
Pam Schuyleman, 52, of Duvall, Wash., became ill during a weeklong cruise in June from Seattle to Alaska aboard the Celebrity Mercury. She and her husband, Jay, who was not ill but deemed guilty by association, spent three days quarantined in their cabin.
"I'm glad we had a window room," she said in a telephone interview.
Her father, 75-year old Rodger Pratt of Kirkland, Wash., along with a reported 123 others, also suffered from norovirus illness on that voyage. "People were heaving into the potted plants," Pam said. The CDC reports that symptoms of the gastrointestinal illness usually last one to two days, with victims suffering nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping. Some people also experience low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and fatigue. Further complications from dehydration and other factors are rare but do occur.

Noroviruses are highly contagious, spreading from person to person by eating or drinking food contaminated with the virus or by touching infected surfaces.
Noroviruses are not just a plague on cruise ships. Outbreaks occur anywhere people are concentrated in a small area, such as nursing homes, schools, restaurants, hotels, airports and catered events.
Cruise lines are required to report incidents of illness to health officials while most other venues are not. Thus, complain cruise officials, cruise ships are unfairly associated with the disease.
David Forney, chief of vessel sanitation for the CDC, agrees the illness is not the fault of the cruise lines. If people would just wash their hands, he says, the problem would be all but nonexistent.

So, if you're planning a cruise, follow CDC recommendations: Wash hands often, and thoroughly, with warm water and soap, followed with alcohol-based hand sanitizing. Avoid shaking hands, if possible, since people are contagious from the day they are ill to days or weeks after they recover.
"I was really careful about washing my hands," Pam said. "I thought, never in a million years would I get sick."
Her father was also particularly mindful of germs since he'd been ill on a previous cruise in Greece. "Every time we walked by one of those sanitizers, we used it," Platt said of the hand-cleaning dispensers placed all around the ship.
They don't blame the cruise line: The crew responded immediately, wiping everything down with disinfectant and checking on them every few hours to make sure they stayed in their cabins. Even with all the precautions, whether on land or sea, some people still get sick, they said.
But Pam complained compensation was lacking: She had to bargain for free movies during her sick days but was refused free soft drinks, though she wasn't able to eat meals for days. She also negotiated for a discount toward future travel. But cruise lines are not legally required to reimburse travelers for onboard illness unless, possibly, negligence could be proven.
Travelers insurance will cover medical expenses but will only reimburse for sick days if the trip is missed or cut short, not for passengers stranded in their cabins.
Would they cruise again? Platt said probably not. He received a voucher for $50 off a future cruise and threw it away. The Schuylemans, however, are already thinking of their next voyage. They'll use the vouchers they negotiated for $310 each toward another cruise. After all, the experience wasn't all bad. "The best part of it was, I got off that boat six pounds lighter than when I got on it," Pam said.

Univerisity of Wisconsin-River Fall 26th Annual Food Microbiology Symposium & Workshop

Current Concepts In Foodborne Pathogens and Rapid and Automated Methods in Food Microbiology, October 14-17, 2006

more information




Compounds in cranberry juice show promise as alternatives to antibiotics
September 11, 2006
Source of Article:
Compounds in cranberry juice have the ability to change E. coli bacteria, a class of microorganisms responsible for a host of human illnesses (everything from kidney infections to gastroenteritis to tooth decay), in ways that render them unable to initiate an infection. The results of this new research by scientists at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) suggest that the cranberry may provide an alternative to antibiotics, particularly for combating E. coli bacteria that have become resistant to conventional treatment.
The new findings, which were presented on Sunday, Sept. 10, at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco, for the first time begin to paint a detailed picture of the biochemical mechanisms that may underlie a number of beneficial health effects of cranberry juice that have been reported in other studies over the years.

Many of those studies have focused on the ability of cranberry juice to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), which each year affect eight million people?mostly women, the elderly, and infants--resulting in $1.6 billion in health care costs. Until now, scientists have not understood exactly how cranberry juice prevents UTIs and other bacterial infections, though they have suspected that compounds in the juice somehow prevent bacteria from adhering to the lining of the urinary tract. The new findings reveal how the compounds interfere with adhesion at the molecular level. more information

FDA set to audit popcorn safety: Flavoring tied to worker illness might harm lungs of consumers opening microwaved packets
Sacramento Bee (California)
Chris Bowman
Federal food-safety enforcers plan to investigate whether consumers of
microwave popcorn are at risk from breathing the same artificial butter chemical that scientists have linked to the devastating "popcorn worker's lung" disease, a top official told The Bee.
"We're looking into the questions that might be raised by the
exposure," said Michael Cheeseman, associate director of the Food and
Drug Administration's Office of Food Additive Safety.
The news surprised public health experts who have pressed the Bush
administration to take more aggressive steps in determining consumer
risks and preventing further outbreaks of the disease in the food and
flavoring industries.
"It's a very big deal. They reversed themselves. They were not
planning to do anything about it," said David Michaels, a George
Washington University professor of public health who has been tracking
the government's response to the flavoring chemical hazard.
FDA officials had maintained that consumers are not harmed by the
buttery chemical vapors released when they open a bag of fresh-popped
The agency's supporting safety data, however, originate from the flavoring industry and date back to the early 1980s.

762 food poisoning cases test positive for Salmonella (Jordan)
Jordan Times
AMMAN ? The number of food poisoning cases caused by the consumption of spoiled sandwiches from a restaurant in Ruseifa on Sunday rose from 170 to 762 and lab tests revealed that the cause was the Salmonella bacteria.
Health Minister Saeed Darwazeh, who checked on the patients at the Yajouz and Zarqa hospitals yesterday, was cited as saying 100 of the cases are still at the hospital, while the rest were discharged after treatment.
During his weekly press conference yesterday, Government Spokesperson Nasser Judeh said the government would take firm measures in this regard, not only by penalising the violators but also in controlling the situation.
The restaurant was shut down on the spot and its contents were seized.

E. coli outbreaks prompt review of Salinas valley lettuce farms
Los Angeles Times
Rong-Gong Lin II,0,1879852.story?coll=la-home-local
KING CITY, Calif. ? Federal and state officials have, according to this story, launched a wide-ranging evaluation of lettuce farming and processing in the Salinas Valley, hoping to determine why leafy greens grown here over the last decade have been linked to a potentially deadly strain of E. coli.
The story explains that lettuce and spinach grown in the valley, dubbed the "Salad Bowl of the World," have been connected to eight of 19 outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7, associated with such produce since 1995. The eight outbreaks have sickened at least 217 people in eight states, including two who died at a retirement home in Northern California in 2003.
Robert Brackett, who directs the food safety division at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is leading the investigation, was quoted as saying, "That organism is so virulent, it is particularly dangerous."
The valley grows the vast majority of the nation's lettuce, thanks to the region's relatively cool climate. Though the outbreaks thus far appear not to have affected sales, some experts say continued reports of infection could erode confidence in the $2-billion-a-year lettuce industry. In addition, such problems can be a liability for produce distributors and food establishments that serve the greens.
One lawyer, Bill Marler, has represented more than 70 clients in cases linked to Salinas Valley lettuce, with settlements he described ranging from the tens of thousands to millions of dollars.
Bob Martin, general manager of Rio Farms, who while giving a tour of his company's expansive lettuce fields bit into some just-harvested leaves, was quoted as saying, "We dare not make a mistake. It could be the difference between staying in business and losing all your contracts."
more information

Mussels with high toxin levels update (UK)
Monday 11 September 2006
The Food Standards Agency today issued a Food Alert for information following Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group's withdrawal of a batch of mussels due to the presence of paralytic shellfish poison above statutory limits.

Product details
The affected batch is 1kg nets of live mussels with code M29 on the packaging. It was on sale in Asda, Morrisons and Tesco stores between 4 and 6 September 2006 and has a shelf life of up to 10 September 2006.
People are advised not to eat these mussels and to dispose of them or return them to the store they bought them from for a full refund.
The Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group (SSMG) has undertaken this recall, because its own testing found levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxins above the level permitted by law

CU biodegradable wipe would quickly detect biohazards, from avian flu to E. coli
By Susan Lang
Source of Article:

Detecting bacteria, viruses and other dangerous substances in hospitals, airplanes and other commonly contaminated places could soon be as easy as wiping a napkin or paper towel across a surface. "It's very inexpensive, it wouldn't require that someone be highly trained to use it, and it could be activated for whatever you want to find," said Margaret Frey, the Lois and Mel Tukman Assistant Professor of Fiber Science and Apparel Design at Cornell University. "So if you're working in a meat-packing plant, for instance, you could swipe it across some hamburger and quickly and easily detect E. coli bacteria." She reported on the research Sept. 11 at the American Chemical Society's national meeting.
Once fully developed, the biodegradable absorbent wipe would contain nanofibers containing antibodies to numerous biohazards and chemicals and would signal by changing color or through another effect when the antibodies attached to their targets. Users would simply wipe the napkin across a surface; if a biohazard were detected, the surface could be disinfected and retested with another napkin to be sure it was no longer contaminated.
In work conducted with Yong Joo, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and Antje Baeumner, associate professor of biological and environmental engineering, both at Cornell, Frey developed nanofibers with platforms made of biotin, a part of the B vitamin complex, and the protein streptavidin, which can hold the antibodies. Composed of a polymer compound made from corn, the nanofibers could be incorporated into conventional paper products to keep costs low. Nanofibers, with diameters near 100 nanometers (a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, or about three times the diameter of an atom), provide extremely large surface areas for sensing and increased absorbency compared with conventional fibers.

"The fabric basically acts as a sponge that you can use to dip in a liquid or wipe across a surface," Frey said. "The fabric itself will transport and concentrate the targeted biohazard. As you do that, antibodies in the fabric are going to selectively latch onto whatever pathogen that they match. Using this method we should, in theory, be able to quickly activate the fabric to detect whatever is the hazard of the week, whether it is bird flu, mad cow disease or anthrax."
Frey and her colleagues are still working on ways, such as a color change, for the fabric to signal that it has identified the contaminant.
"We're probably still a few years away from having this ready for the real world," Frey said, "but I really believe there is a place for this type of product that can be used by people with limited training to provide a fast indication of whether a biohazard is present."
This research was supported by the National Research Initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

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.