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10/05
2006
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FDA warns consumers not to drink carrot juice
Source of Article: http://www.ift.org/news_bin/news/news_home.shtml
10/02/2006-In response to a fourth case of botulism being linked to Bolthouse Farms, Bakersfield, California brand carrot juice, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers not to drink Bolthouse Farms Carrot Juice, 450 ml and 1 liter plastic bottles, with "BEST IF USED BY" dates of NOV 11 2006 or earlier. Consumers should discard this product. FDA is also reiterating its advice to consumers to keep carrot juice including pasteurized carrot juice refrigerated.
The fourth case of botulism poisoning involves an adult female in Florida who is currently suffering from paralysis. To date, one link between the illness and the consumers appears to be that the juice they drank was not properly refrigerated once it was in the home, which allowed the Clostridium botulinum spores to grow and produce toxin.
Clostridium botulinum is a bacterium commonly found in soil. Under certain conditions these bacteria can produce a toxin that if ingested can result in botulism, a disease that may cause paralysis or death. Cases of botulism from processed food are extremely rare in the U.S.
Symptoms of botulism can include: double-vision, droopy eyelids, altered voice, trouble with speaking or swallowing, and paralysis on both sides of the body that progresses from the neck down, possibly followed by difficulty in breathing. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.
Adequate refrigeration is one of the keys to food safety and is essential to preventing bacterial growth. Refrigerator temperatures should be no higher than 40¡ÆF and freezer temperatures no higher then 0¡ÆF. Consumers should check the temperatures occasionally with an appliance thermometer. Consumers should look for the words "Keep Refrigerated" on juice labels so they know which products must be kept refrigerated. FDA is looking into whether industry's current juice labels provide clear refrigeration instructions.

Carrot juice with botulism latest food scare from California
Miscellaneous News
Published: Wednesday, 4-Oct-2006

Source of Article: http://www.news-medical.net/?id=20387
A Floridian woman, the fourth victim of botulism poisoning contracted from drinking spoiled carrot juice, is suffering from paralysis.
Her case has prompted the recall of the California carrot juice produced by Bolthouse Farms, Bakersfield.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. is warning consumers not to drink Bolthouse Farms Carrot Juice, 450 ml and 1 liter plastic bottles, with "BEST IF USED BY" dates of NOV 11 2006 or earlier and repeating it's advice that such juices must be stored in a refrigerator.
At present it appears that the link between the four cases is that the carrot juice was not properly refrigerated once it was in the home which allowed the Clostridium botulinum spores to grow and produce toxin. Clostridium botulinum is a bacterium normally found in soil and under certain conditions the bacteria can produce a toxin that if ingested can result in botulism, a disease that may cause paralysis or death. However cases of botulism from processed food are extremely rare in the U.S. and the FDA is investigating other possible links.
Symptoms of botulism can include double-vision, droopy eyelids, altered voice, trouble with speaking or swallowing, and paralysis on both sides of the body that progresses from the neck down, possibly followed by difficulty in breathing.
Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.
To maintain adequate food safety levels refrigeration is essential in order to prevent bacteria growing.
It is recommended that refrigerator temperatures should be no higher than 40?F and freezer temperatures no higher then 0F. and consumers should check the temperatures occasionally with an appliance thermometer.
Consumers should look for the words "Keep Refrigerated" on juice labels and follow those instructions; one of the things the FDA is investigating is whether drink labels provide clear refrigeration instructions. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is warning consumers not to drink certain brands of carrot juice described as they are also affected by this alert:
Bolthouse Farms 100% Carrot Juice", sold in both 1 L and 450 ml sizes, Earthbound Farm Organic Carrot Juice", sold in both 1 L and 450 ml sizes and President's Choice Organics 100% Pure Carrot Juice" sold in both 1 L and 450 ml sizes.
The manufacturer, Wm. Bolthouse Farms Inc., Bakersfield, California has voluntarily recalled the affected brands of carrot juice which may have been distributed across Canada.
To date there have been no reported illnesses in Canada.
Apparently food contaminated with Clostridium botulinum bacteria may not look or smell spoiled but can nevertheless make people ill and even cause death.

More on the FBI Spinach Probe
Posted on October 4, 2006 by Bill Marler
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
The US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California announced that agents of the FBI and FDA Office of Criminal Investigations executed two search warrants today on Growers Express in Salinas, CA, and Natural Selection Foods in San Juan Batista, CA, in connection with the September 2006 outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7 that the FDA has traced to spinach grown
in the Salinas area.
"FDA continues to work with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI to determine the facts behind this outbreak," said Dr. Robert Brackett, Director of the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. United States Attorney Kevin V. Ryan stated that "I want to reassure the
public that there is no indication in this investigation that leaf spinach was deliberately or intentionally contaminated. We are investigating allegations that certain spinach growers and distributors may not have taken all necessary or appropriate steps to ensure that their spinach was safe before it was placed into interstate commerce. Moreover, the investigation has not revealed any evidence of a new or continuing threat to public health in connection with the matters under investigation."

FDA Statement on Foodborne E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak in Spinach - This statement is current as of October 5, 2006

Fast-food firm puts safety on the menu: Burger King outlets to display restaurant inspection reports
04.oct.06
Halifax Chronicle-Herald
Jeffrey Simpson
http://www.herald.ns.ca/Search/532100.html
Some metro restaurants aren¡¯t waiting for the province to make food-safety inspection reports easier to access.
Several Burger King franchises in Halifax have voluntarily posted their latest inspection reports inside their establishments so patrons can see them without going to the provincial government.
Chris Doyle, assistant store manager of the Chain Lake Drive restaurant in Bayers Lake Business Park, was quoted as saying Monday, "We figured we¡¯d give the customers some concrete evidence that we¡¯re a clean restaurant."
Mr. Doyle was further cited as saying managers there saw the recent series of stories in The Chronicle Herald about the province¡¯s food-safety inspection system and decided to take matters into their own hands and provide the inspection report from April 3 for their customers to read, even though they¡¯re not required to do so.
This practice is standard procedure in other North American cities, where the food-safety inspection results for restaurants are shared freely with the public.
Billy Fougere, the assistant manager of the Burger King on Young Street, said all four metro-area franchises are supposed to be posting their report.

Spinach suits have familiar taste to Dole
05.oct.06
The National Law Journal
Lynne Marek
http://www.law.com/jsp/ihc/PubArticleIHC.jsp?id=1159952725570
Fighting lawsuits filed by sickened spinach-eaters may seem like familiar territory for Dole Food Co. Inc. of Westlake Village, Calif.
The story notes that Dole settled more than four cases earlier this year brought by people who also became ill with E. coli infections in an outbreak last year tied to the company's bagged lettuce.
Dole settled four lettuce cases, three in Minnesota and one in Oregon, in May and June, without disclosing the terms of the resolutions and binding the parties to confidentiality agreements.
For the moment, the companies are working behind the scenes with their insurers and attorneys to decide how the new spinach cases will be handled. Dole has not yet filed replies to the five lawsuits.
Sarah Brew, an attorney at Greene Espel in Minneapolis who is representing Dole, declined to say whether the company will approach the spinach lawsuits in the same way as it did the lettuce cases.
Dole spokeswoman Marianne Duong was quoted as saying, "We don't comment on pending lawsuits," referring calls to Natural Selection and saying "their approach is very different from us."
Martin Schenker, an attorney with Palo Alto, Calif.-based Cooley Godward Kronish, who is advising Natural Selection as corporate counsel, was ctied as saying it's not clear yet which firms may represent the company in the spinach lawsuits.
Bill Marler, who represented plaintiffs in the lettuce cases and who has filed all five of the lawsuits so far resulting from the spinach outbreak, was cited as saying there were additional settlements beyond the four lawsuits in the aftermath of the earlier lettuce E. coli outbreak.
Marler of Seattle-based Marler Clark is representing 85 people so far who allege they were victims of the spinach E. coli outbreak. He said he expects the cases to be strictly about products liability and proving that his clients became ill because of a pathogen in the spinach.
As in the past lettuce cases, Marler will assert negligence, though he doesn't need to prove that to prevail on the liability issue, stating, "We'll have a full-court press on the defendants, keep the pressure on until they do the right thing for these people."

U.S. FOOD SAFETY AGENCY URGED
Source of Article: http://www.meatnews.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Article&artNum=12525
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UNITED STATES: The recent outbreak of bacteria-contaminated spinach rekindles the push for the creation of a national food-safety agency.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CD) traced last month¡¯s outbreak of E. coli O157:H7-contaminated bagged fresh spinach to farms in three California counties. The contaminated spinach sickened 175 people in 25 states. One person died.
The incident has re-ignited debate over moving food safety responsibility ? now shared by U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ? to a single national food safety agency. Last year, the Safe Food Act was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and in the House of Representatives by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). The bill proposed the creation of a Food Safety Administration to assume all responsibility for food safety and oversight.
Proponents say such an agency would streamline the process of preventing, tracking and containing outbreaks, which is currently handled by 12 federal agencies and sub-agencies. However, the bill has remained in congressional committees since its introduction.
¡°In my view, if we already had a consolidated food safety agency ... we might already have gotten to the bottom of this latest outbreak,¡± DeLauro said. ¡°Perhaps it never would have occurred in the first place.¡±
DeLauro has requested a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee before the current session of Congress adjourns on October 6. Durbin has also requested a hearing in the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee.

Strategic Diagnostics Inc. announces NPIP technical approval and first commercial orders for Rapidchek¢ç SELECT¢â Salmonella
05.oct.06
Strategic Diagnostics Inc.
NEWARK, Del.-- Strategic Diagnostics Inc. (Nasdaq:SDIX), today announced that their new RapidChek¢ç SELECT¢â Salmonella testing product has been approved by the Technical Committee of the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) as an analytical method for the detection of Salmonella species in NPIP samples. The method was approved at the NPIP 38th Biennial Meeting held in Portland, Oregon. The Company also announced full commercial adoption of the method by four food processing companies within the first four weeks of commercialization, each with an average annual account value of $50,000.
Adoption of the method by NPIP is a strong endorsement of performance attributes of the RapidChek¢ç SELECT¢â Salmonella product. The NPIP is a cooperative Federal-State-Industry program developed for controlling certain poultry diseases. NPIP consists of a variety of programs intended to prevent and control egg-transmitted, hatchery-disseminated poultry diseases. One such program is monitoring environmental samples for the detection of Salmonella species in poultry hatcheries.
NPIP samples tend to be high in non-Salmonella, background bacteria, which interferes in the performance of many rapid detection methods that compete with SDI¡¯s RapidChek¢ç SELECT¢â Salmonella. These interferences produce costly, high ¡°false positive¡± results not seen with the SDI method. In addition to the NPIP approval, the SELECT¢â technology will be added to Title 9 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Section 147.12(b)(3).
¡°Strategic Diagnostics invented the SELECT¢â technology as a result of direct input from NPIP and other customers experiencing test specificity and sensitivity issues in their Salmonella testing programs. Its ability to generate exceptionally accurate results in the most challenging samples, and to do so in a highly cost effective manner, continues to earn us new business opportunities and industry recognition,¡± commented Matthew Knight, President and CEO of SDI. The NPIP market segment for SDI has an estimated value of $6MM dollars, and the overall domestic Salmonella market has been estimated at $74MM annually.
Commenting on the first commercial wins for the new product, Mr. Knight added, ¡°We are excited that within the first month of commercialization we have begun to see uptake in the commercial food manufacturing markets we have targeted. Converting four new accounts, all taken from competition, is a clear indication that RapidChek¢ç SELECT¢â Salmonella is succeeding in delivering more value than the competitive offering. Today¡¯s announcement is another example of how SDI¡¯s focus on the customer is guiding our innovation and enabling us to deliver high value products to important markets like food safety.¡±

Warnex receives NPIP approval for Salmonella test: Test approved by USDA's National Poultry Improvement Plan
03.oct.06
from a press release
Laval, QC - Warnex Inc. (TSX: WNX) today announced that its Salmonella test used with the Warnex(TM) Rapid Pathogen Detection System has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP).
The objective of the National Poultry Improvement Plan is to provide a
cooperative industry-state-federal program through which new technology can be effectively applied to the improvement of poultry and poultry products. The plan consists of a variety of programs intended to prevent and control poultry diseases.
The Warnex Salmonella test for environmental samples was independently
validated by NPIP-approved laboratories, which concluded that the Warnex test
performed as well as or better than the two NPIP-approved microbiological
reference methods. In addition, the test performed just as well with pooled
samples, which can increase a plant's testing efficiency and significantly reduce testing costs.
"Our new sample pooling feature clearly illustrates our commitment to innovation aimed at improving our clients' efficiency," said Mark Busgang, President and CEO of Warnex. "This, in addition to NPIP approval which provides further regulatory and scientific validation of our tests, will help reduce the barrier to entry for major poultry clients and encourage adoption." The Warnex 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.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1.4 million cases and 500 deaths occur in the United States annually due to Salmonella infections. Salmonellosis, an infection caused by eating food contaminated with Salmonella, causes symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, vomiting and abdominal cramps, lasting usually 4 to 7 days. In some cases, it may cause blood infection and even death, if untreated.

Mushrooms sicken family; Boy, 5, required liver transplant after family dined on wild fungus
04.oct.06
The Record (Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo)
Lianne Elliott
A five-year-old boy needed a liver transplant after he and his family were severely poisoned by wild mushrooms they picked in Waterloo and ate for dinner last week.
As the boy recovered in hospital yesterday, health officials were, according to this story,urging people across Waterloo Region not to forage for wild mushrooms.
People might think they know mushrooms well, but poisonous mushrooms can look almost identical to edible ones.
And, if the wrong mushroom is accidentally consumed, it could take hours or even a day for a person to feel the effects of the poison. By then, it could be difficult to treat.
Heather Ferries, a nurse educator with Ontario's poison information centre was quoted as saying yesterday that, "Picking mushrooms is a . of Russian roulette. The difference between these mushrooms can be microscopic. Unless you're a formal mushroom expert, a mycologist, they are not safe to eat."
Ferries, reached in Toronto, said new mushroom species are popping up in Ontario. What looks like the mushroom you've picked and eaten for years could actually be a new, poisonous species.

'Organic' doesn't mean safer or more nutritious
04.oct.06
Indianapolis Star (IN)
http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061004/OPINION01/610040332/-1/ZONES02
Dennis Avery, Director of Hudson's Center for Global Food Issues, Churchville, VA, and Alex Avery, director of research and education, write that it's a bad moment for believers in the mystical wonders of organic and natural foods. Deadly E. coli bacteria, lurking in spinach from one of the biggest organic farms in America, just killed one woman and hospitalized at least 29 other people with kidney failure. In all, the contaminated spinach sickened nearly 200, in at least 23 states and Canada.
Meanwhile, several California kids are on kidney dialysis with permanent organ damage from the same virulent strain of E. coli O157: H7 after consuming raw, unpasteurized milk or colostrum from the Organic Pastures Dairy of Fresno, Calif.
Tragically, the victims were all seeking greater food safety and the promised health benefits of vegetables and milk produced the "old-fashioned way."
Earthbound Farms, which grew the contaminated spinach, is being sued by a shocked family of organic believers in Ohio. Three family members were sickened, and one daughter has permanent kidney damage.
Earthbound Farms advertises that it sells "Food for Life," and says "It's just plain healthy to include lots of organic vegetables in your diet." That certainly rings hollow today.
Now the farm's parent company has recalled huge batches of spinach sold all over the country under a variety of labels. "We will do whatever is necessary to help protect the health and safety of the consumers," said an Earthbound spokesperson.
Does that mean Earthbound will stop fertilizing its leafy vegetables with cow manure? Most conventional farmers fertilize their food crops with "chemical" fertilizer, and put their livestock manure on feed crops like corn. Organic farmers reject chemical fertilizer. Instead, they compost raw cattle manure for some weeks, hoping that will kill any dangerous organisms that could contaminate the food. Sometimes it doesn't.
In the old days, when organic produce came from a few little farms, an occasional sick customer was no big deal. Often, the victim refused to believe organic food could cause the illness. But so many people now believe the organic hype that organic farms have gotten big and corporate and the manure-related consumer epidemics make national news.
Organic Pastures ironically boasts that raw dairy foods are an outstanding source of nutrients and "beneficial bacteria." Unfortunately, they're also a source of dangerous bacteria.
The organic dairy claims, "Raw milk strengthens the immune system." And that organic raw milk has "many enzyme-based pathogen-killing systems." Apparently not enough of them.
"It has been theorized," says the organic company, "that the combination of grass feeding, no antibiotics used, no hormones, and low levels of grain used in the diet cause a change in the cow's immune system and rumen. This change in physiology inhibits pathogen development in the (organic) milk."
That is a marketing lie designed to wring a higher price from the consumer for a product that's condemned by health authorities because of its inherent dangers. The Food and Drug Administration says drinking raw milk is playing Russian roulette with your health. Such milk-borne diseases as tuberculosis and undulant fever were epidemic in the days before pasteurized milk. Now the E. coli pathogens revealed the lie again.
The Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council are trying to blame "factory livestock farms" for the O157 in the cattle manure. But a recent Swiss study found organic cows have as much O157 as other cows. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it's found the deadly O157 in every cattle herd it's tested.
Our objective should be to get the manure away from our food crops. Organic and natural aren't safer or more nutritious: Just more expensive, and far more dangerous.

Hide-Washing Improves Beef Safety
souce from: USDA-FSIS
By Laura McGinnis
October 4, 2006
A practical, effective cattle-washing system that reduces levels of pathogens on cattle hides?lessening the likelihood that the pathogens will get onto the meat and be consumed by humans?has been developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Clay Center, Neb. The system could help reduce pathogens such as Escherichia coli O157:H7, which causes nearly 73,000 illnesses and 60 deaths every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although E. coli O157:H7 can harm humans, cattle can carry it without adverse effects, according to researchers at the ARS Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) in Clay Center. ARS research showed that the pathogens tend to gather on the animals' hides, which becomes a problem if those bacteria then come into contact with meat during hide removal. In the hide-washing process, the hide-on carcass is cleaned in a high-pressure water washing cabinet to remove excess organic matter, then sprayed with an antibacterial compound. In field trials, the process significantly reduced the number of samples that tested positive for E. coli O157:H7. USMARC Director Mohammad Koohmaraie estimates that about 40 percent of the feedlot- raised beef cattle processed in the United States now undergo hide-on carcass-washing treatment, a development that benefits both beef companies and consumers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service reported that the incidence of E. coli O157:H7-positive ground beef samples collected fell by 43.3 percent after the beef industry began using the washing cabinets. The CDC also noted significant reductions in illnesses caused by E. coli and the pathogens Listeria, Campylobacter, Yersinia and Salmonella. Read more about this research in the October 2006 issue of Agricultural Research magazine, which highlights ARS food safety research.
ARS is the USDA's chief scientific research agency.

Delta Airlines named as defendant in E. coli lawsuit
Deseret Morning News
Source of Article: http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,650196134,00.html

A Lehi man has filed a federal suit, claiming his son was sickened with E. Coli during an overseas flight from Germany last month.
In a suit filed in U.S. District Court on his own without aid of an attorney, Jeffrey Vernon Merkey claims his 23-month-old son was initially infected by a bag of baby spinach he and his wife purchased at an area grocery store and then two weeks later, the boy was sickened by an airline meal containing partially-coooked spinach on a flight from Germany.
Merkey is suing Delta Airlines and Natural Selection Foods over the two unrelated incidents.
Speaking to the Deseret Morning News, Merkey says his son has suffered serious kidney damage and remains hospitalized at Primary Children's Medical Center.
The father is seeking unspecified damages and payment for his son's medical bills, which he estimated has accumulated to about half a million dollars.

Regulations amending the food and drug regulations (1447 Good manufacturing practices)
02.oct.06
Canada Gazette (Vol. 140, No. 39)
Food and Drugs Act, Department of Health
Description
The Good Manufacturing Practices regulations, Division 2 of Part C of the Food and Drug Regulations (the Regulations), are regularly reviewed by Health Canada. As a result, several provisions have been identified for amendment because they are not consistent with international standards and/or current industry practice, are not uniformly applied to all sectors of the industry, or do not provide the requisite regulatory support to current Health Canada interpretations. Other provisions also require amendment to correct minor errors. A description of the issues and the reasoning behind the resulting proposed amendment appear below.

Scientists focus on removing pathogens from produce Source of Article: http://www.ift.org/news_bin/news/news_home.shtml
10/02/2006-All raw agricultural products carry a minimal risk of contamination, said a University of Illinois scientist whose research focuses on keeping foodborne pathogens, including the strain of E. coli found recently on spinach, out of the food supply.
Scott Martin, a University of Illinois food science and human nutrition professor, and professor Hao Feng, both IFT members, are working on discovering ways to keep microorganisms out of the food supply.
Martin's research is focused on finding ways to eliminate the biofilms that attach to produce and cause illness. "Once the pathogenic organism gets on the product, no amount of washing will remove it. The microbes attach to the surface of produce in a sticky biofilm, and washing just isn't very effective," he said.
"Another problem with this pathogen is that it has a very low infective dose. It only takes between 10 and 100 cells to cause an infection, so it's impossible to achieve a safe level of the pathogen once it gets on the product. At this point, we need to concentrate on avoiding a crop's exposure to the pathogen as the produce is being grown," he said.
Martin said the California spinach outbreak appears to have been caused by contaminated cow manure used by organic producers. "A very low percentage of cattle are always infected by this strain of E. coli. If fresh manure from those cattle is used as fertilizer, there's an outbreak in the making."
Growers should also be careful about the water they use on the plants. "If farmers irrigate with water from a lake close to a dairy farm, that can also be a potential source of infection," Martin said.
Another technique that has excellent potential in the fight against E. coli 0157:H7 is under development in the lab of Martin's colleague Hao Feng. Feng is developing a process that uses ultrasound and low temperatures to kill pathogenic organisms in liquid products, such as cider and apple juice.
Martin said normal, wild-type strains of E. coli live in the human intestinal tract as a beneficial organism, aiding in digestion and absorption of nutrients. "Only a few strains of E. coli are pathogenic, and E. coli 0157:H7 is a really virulent strain," he said. "But, if you consider the amount of produce that's grown in this country and the number of reported cases we see, your risk of contracting the illness is actually very small."

Food illnesses decline, CDC reports
30.sep.06
Associated Press
Marilynn Marchione
SAN FRANCISCO -- New federal statistics were cited as showing that despite the recent E. coli spinach outbreak, food may be safer now than at any other time in the last decade, with illness occurring at record-low rates.
Dr. Robert Tauxe, top food scientist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was quoted as saying, "The food is actually cleaner to begin with," adding that certain germs have dramatically declined, and "that to me is really solid progress."
However, the trend could reverse in coming years if fruit and vegetable growers do not address problems like those that led to the spinach scare, Tauxe and others said.
Michael Doyle, a microbiologist who heads the University of Georgia's Center for Food Safety, was quoted as saying, "The meat and poultry industry has made great strides. The produce industry has a long way to go to catch up."
The American Society for Microbiology meeting was told Friday that in 2005, compared with the 1996-98 period when the CDC's FoodNet tracking system began, illnesses were down for virtually every major germ.
CDC estimates the declines as follows: yersinia, 49 percent; Shigella, 43 percent; Listeria, 32 percent; Campylobacter, 30 percent; the dangerous O157 strain of E. coli, 29 percent; and Salmonella, 9 percent.
Only vibrio, a germ spread through raw oysters, rose significantly -- 41 percent.
Campylobacter and Salmonella sicken the most people, usually through raw or undercooked poultry or eggs. Yersinia can taint raw meats, seafood and dairy products. Listeria causes problems in lunchmeats and soft cheeses.
E. coli outbreaks typically have involved undercooked ground meat. But in recent years, the germ has increasingly been linked to produce, as has a certain strain of Salmonella.
Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director for the consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest, was quoted as saying, "The problems have changed. A decade ago, beef was at the top of our list of concern. Now we're more concerned about produce."
Carol Tucker-Foreman, food policy director for Consumer Federation of America, was quoted as saying, "Fresh fruits and vegetables are generally not subject to any regulatory standards," and the FDA has only voluntary "guidance" for growers to follow.
Tauxe was further quoted as saying, "There are some very antibiotic-resistant strains in ground beef" that are becoming more prevalent, and that with food safety, "the job's not done with the animals, and we're just starting that with produce."
Plant pathologists who traditionally have worried about things like rust and blights that reduce crop yields "now need to start thinking about the spread of things like E. coli and Salmonella," Tauxe said.
Environmental microbiologists also have to look at ways these germs are spreading in streams and soil, he said.


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