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Internet Journal of Food Safety

10/20
2006
ISSUE:231

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EPA TIGHTENS WATER-QUALITY STANDARDS
Source of Article: http://www.meatnews.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Article&artNum=12695
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UNITED STATES: A new law will give red meat and poultry processors greater confidence in the safety of their water supplies.
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The new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule targets utilities that provide water from underground sources and requires greater vigilance for potential contamination by disease-causing microorganisms including viruses.
"The Bush Administration's Ground Water Rule boosts drinking water purity and public health security," Benjamin Grumbles, assistant EPA administrator for water, explained. ¡°These first-ever standards will help communities prevent, detect and correct tainted ground water problems so citizens continue to have clean and affordable drinking water.¡±
EPA said in a news release that the law¡¯s risk-targeting strategy provides for:
* Regular sanitary surveys of public water systems to look for significant deficiencies in key operational areas triggered source-water monitoring when a system that does not sufficiently disinfect drinking water identifies a positive sample during its regular monitoring to comply with existing rules.
* Implementation of corrective actions by ground water systems with a significant deficiency or evidence of source water fecal contamination compliance monitoring for systems that are sufficiently treating drinking water to ensure effective removal of pathogens.
Under the new regulation, a ground-water system is subject to triggered source-water monitoring if its treatment methods don't already remove 99.99 percent of viruses. Systems must begin to comply with the new requirements by December 1, 2009.
Contaminants in question are pathogenic viruses such as rotavirus, echoviruses, noroviruses ? and pathogenic bacteria, including E. coli, Salmonella, and Shigella. Utilities will be required to look for and correct deficiencies in their operations to prevent contamination from these pathogens.
EPA said fecal contamination can reach ground water sources, including drinking water wells, from failed septic systems, leaking sewer lines, and bypassing through the soil and large cracks in the ground. Fecal contamination from the surface may also get into a drinking-water well along its casing or through cracks if the well is not properly constructed, protected, or maintained. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that, between 1991 and 2000, ground water systems were associated with 68 disease outbreaks that caused 10,926 illnesses. Contaminated source water was the cause of 79 percent of the outbreaks in ground-water systems.

Salad plant will close after spinach scare; 200 out of job
17.oct.06
Indystar.com (Indiana)
Associated Press
http://www2.indystar.com/articles/7/247518-1447-127.html
A nationwide spinach recall caused by an E. coli outbreak is prompting Ready Pac Produce Inc. to close a salad processing plant that employs about 200 workers.
Company officials were cited as saying that Ready Pac, which produces fresh-cut salads, fruits and vegetables, plans to stop production next month at its plant in Plymouth about 20 miles south of South Bend.
Steve Dickstein, Ready Pac's vice president of marketing, was quoted as saying, "The entire industry has dropped quite a bit," as a result of the E. coli outbreak traced to spinach farms in California.

Food safety expert says concerns should be over
By Emma Ritch
The Sun News
Source of Article: http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/
Perusing produce these days could leave shoppers with a sense of confusion.
Two popular leafy vegetables have been recalled in recent weeks after E. coli scares, leaving some to question the safety of fresh vegetables - considered a necessary addition to any healthy diet. E. coli, or Escherichia coli O157:H7, is a leading cause of foodborne illness that averages 73,000 infections and 61 deaths in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The E. coli contamination of bagged spinach first reported Aug. 30 caused at least three deaths and 200 illnesses in 26 states. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration lifted its advisory against eating fresh spinach on Sept. 25. But last week, a California grower recalled 8,500 cartons of green-leaf lettuce because of concerns it had been irrigated with E. coli-infected water. Vegetables aren't the only food susceptible to E. coli contamination. An Iowa company recalled 5,200 pounds of prepackaged ground beef patties last week because of possible E. coli contamination.
Government agencies are responding, said Jim Rushing, a Clemson University professor who works in food safety.
He attended a meeting Oct. 6 of the International Association for Food Protection, which brought together the FDA, the CDC and 110 scientists to discuss the outbreak and government response. The group also examined what could be done to prevent another E. coli outbreak, he said.

Question | With the recent E. coli outbreaks in fresh vegetables, what kind of questions have consumers and food sellers been asking?
Answer | I think the biggest question for everyone is how to prevent such an outbreak from happening in the future and what we can do differently in the future to make sure something like this doesn't happen again.

Q. | The recent E. coli contaminations of spinach and lettuce have consumers worried. What extra steps can consumers take to disinfect their vegetables?
A. | Not very much really. Once contamination has occurred on a leafy product, it's very, very difficult to wash it off, so we really have to rely on the industry to do its part. There's almost nothing you can do at home that will make a significant difference.

Q. | Should consumers stop eating fresh vegetables in favor of canned produce?
A. | No, there's no reason to do that. The outbreak is over. ... There's no reason to stop eating fresh vegetables. The health benefits far outweigh any risks. There are close to 2 million packages of leafy greens packaged every day. Of course 200 people got sick, and that's too many, but if you calculate the risk, it's really low. Also, you have to consider the FDA responded faster to this outbreak than any other in history.

Q. | How can shoppers make sure the produce they're eating is safe?
A. | They can't. You can't look at produce, or you can't look at red meat, or fish, or chicken, or anything and know if there's microbiological contamination, so all you can really do in those situations is depend on the food industry to do the right thing.

Q. | What effect will the E. coli scares have on the produce market in the long term?
A. | Very little. When people again feel safe, they will return to eating those vegetables.

Packaging traceability law comes into force
By staff reporter
Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/
19/10/2006 - Processors will be required to have a traceability system in place for packaging materials on 27 October 2006.
It is part of the EU food safety policy to require traceability of foods and food contact materials.
The new requirement is a provision of EC Regulation 1935/2004, which deals with materials and articles that may come into contact with foods. The law was adopted by the bloc last year to update a previous EU directive on food contact materials. The regulation entered into force on 3 December 2004, except for Article 17 on traceability, which enters into force on 27 October. The later implementation date was given to provide time for businesses to put traceability systems in place. The new regulation is directly applicable throughout the EU and was made to aid regulators and processors in controlling and recalling defective products.
Traceability requires that processors must be able to provide records to regulators to allow them to follow a material or article through all stages of manufacture, processing and distribution. The records should allow the identification of businesses from which and to which packaging and other food contact materials originate from.
The regulation covers materials such as rubbers, ceramics, plastics, paper, glass, metals, inks, textiles, waxes, cork and wood.
Last year the bloc's General Food Law entered into force. The specific requirements covered in the guidance document include the traceability of food products, withdrawal of dangerous food products from the market, operator responsibilities and requirements applicable to imports and exports.
The new mandatory traceability requirement applies to all food, animal feed, food-producing animals and all types of food chain operators from the farming sector to processing, transport, storage, distribution and retail to the consumer. The guidance document lays down detailed implementing rules for operators.
Information on the name, address of producer, nature of products and date of transaction must be systematically registered within each operator's traceability system. This information must be kept for a period of five years and on request, it must immediately be made available to the competent authorities.

Coming soon: Milk, meat from cloned animals
Government moves toward regulations. E-town firm one of leading cloned livestock operations.
(Lancaster New Era, PA)
By Ryan Robinson
The government is moving closer to approving meat and milk from cloned animals.
Bad news for some opposition groups, who question the ethics of the technology and say the public won¡¯t buy food from cloned animals. Good news for the biotechnology industry, and potentially, for agriculture in general. And for one of the world¡¯s premier livestock cloning companies, Cyagra Inc., located along Bossler Road in Elizabethtown. ¡°We are excited about it,¡± Cyagra¡¯s director of marketing, Steve Mower, said today. ¡°All the scientific research shows there is no difference between the actual clone and the original animal.¡± The Bush administration is currently reviewing Food and Drug Administration plans to regulate cloned animals and food derived from them, the agency said in a statement Tuesday. A draft of the plans should be released by the end of the year, the FDA said. The agency has ¡°studies that show that the meat and milk from cattle clones and their offspring are as safe as that from conventionally bred animals,¡± the FDA statement said. The biotech industry says cloning lets breeders do what they¡¯ve always done: select the best animals from the herd for reproduction.
But the Consumer Federation of America said years of independent polling, including a surve by the Gallup organization and the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, indicate that consumers oppose animal cloning and wouldn¡¯t buy cloned meat and milk even if the government declared them safe.
A fight is brewing over whether food from cloned animals must carry special labels.
The Washington-based Center for Food Safety said food labels should disclose that it came from cloned animals. Concerns over hormones and antibiotics have helped drive ever-growing
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demand for organic food, said Joseph Mendelson, legal director of the Center for Food Safety.
¡°Because consumers are not getting the specific product information, it will impugn the whole conventional market,¡± Mendelson said.
Mower disagrees.
¡°If you label it, you have to be able to tell there is a difference,¡± he said.
Cyagra conducted a large research report, one of several that Mower said have shown cloned animals and their meat and milk are no different from their conventional counterparts.
In Cyagra¡¯s study, 80 blood and urine measures, including various hormone levels, were taken in 10 newborn, 46 weanling and 18 adult clones.
Seventy-nine biochemical measurements from three cuts of meat taken from five male and six female adult clones were compared with those from matched cuts from conventional animals.
Mower said no differences were found.
The research was submitted to the FDA and is being reviewed by a scientific journal, he said.
In its petition filed Thursday, Oct. 12, the Center for Food Safety asked the FDA to regulate clones as New Animal Drugs, and also called for environmental impact statements to evaluate the environmental and health effects of each new proposed line of clones, according to a Washington Post article. The petition states that available science shows that cloning presents serious food safety risks, animal welfare concerns and unresolved ethical issues that require strict oversight.
The local firm, Cyagra, inserts the DNA material from an animal being cloned into unfertilized embryos. They are transferred into one or more host animals, which give birth nine months later to clones. The clones¡¯ semen or cells, in turn, can be used to produce hundreds of progeny.
The company has produced hundreds of cloned dairy and beef calves to date, about 50 to 60 every year, Mower said. One of its Holstein clones was named an intermediate champion at the World Dairy Expo last year in Wisconsin.
On a smaller scale, Cyagra is also cloning some of the world¡¯s top pigs, sheep and horses.
Mower said no clones have been produced for Lancaster County clients.
Chet Hughes, the county¡¯s extension livestock educator, said local beef farmers will likely take advantage of the technology when it becomes more affordable.
¡°For the long-term, it could be a very positive thing,¡± Hughes said. ¡°If you can deliver consistently high-marbled, quality beef ? feedlots want those cattle.¡±
Cost for a guaranteed healthy cloned calf is $17,000, Mower said.
Hughes said there are about 10 large beef feedlots in the county, each with 800 to 1,000 cattle.
There are many smaller feedlots with 100 to 250 cattle, he said. At any one time, there is about 75,000 beef cattle on feed here.
Hughes said farmers in general have shown they are proactive when it comes to technology. Some already use artificial insemination and embryo transfer to improve their bottom lines.
But the public may be slower to accept cloning, he said.
¡°I think there are potentially questions, ethical or religious-based,¡± he said. ¡°People may say, ¡®How far can we go with this?¡¯ ¡±
To the agriculture industry, image to consumers is important, Hughes said.
¡°If cloning takes away from the thought of a safe, fresh, wholesome product, people might back off their consumption¡± and the decreased demand would hurt farmers. Dairy producers are worried about what might happen if ¡°clone-free¡± products start showing up in supermarkets.
¡°We have concerns where people are going to try to draw distinctions and differences where none exist,¡± said Chris Galen, spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation.
The federation opposes putting cloned milk on the market, at least until it¡¯s proven safe. Galen said producers worry it could interfere with widely held beliefs among consumers about the wholesomeness of milk. Troy Ott is an associate professor of reproductive biology in Penn State University¡¯s dairy animal science department. ¡°The scientific community has carefully looked at and evaluated whether there are any health or safety issues,¡± he said. ¡°Numerous studies have demonstrated there are not.¡± As for the acceptance of cloning, he said today that the public¡¯s perception is what ¡°will carry the day.¡± ¡°The microwave oven and pasteurization of milk took time,¡± Ott said. ¡°It takes about a generation. I expect it will be pretty much the same with cloning technology.¡± 10-19-06

Food Safety Job Information

Wal-Mart Canada eyeing Canada's $1-billion-plus organic foods market
15.oct.06
CP Wire
Rita Trichur
TORONTO -- Discount powerhouse Wal-Mart Canada, which is opening its first Canadian supercentres this fall, is preparing to shake up this country's billion-dollar organic grocery trade with the promise of sharper competition and lower prices.
But its move into that burgeoning market comes at a time when a rash of food scares has sparked skepticism among some consumers about the purported advantages of organic foods.
The story says that Wal-Mart has issued an open call to Canadian product suppliers -- especially vendors of fresh food and eco-friendly wares -- to help stock its existing 272 Canadian discount stores and seven planned Ontario supercentres, which will carry a full range of fresh produce, meats and bakery items in addition to general merchandise.
Jim Thompson, senior vice-president of the retailer's merchandise division, was cited as saying there is a growing appetite for organic foods in Canada and Wal-Mart Canada plans to court hundreds of potential suppliers in Toronto next month, adding, "We see this as a huge opportunity. We're trying to get ahead of the curve here in Canada and address the relevant customers and what they are asking for."
The story goes on to say that despite their growing popularity, critics cite growing safety concerns about organic foods which are currently certified by a mishmash of authorities across Canada.
Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers' Association of Canada, was quoted as saying, "There is no national standard for that type of food. And with what we've just been through with spinach, lettuce and carrot juice, it draws attention to the potential for a huge problem where we don't have any regulatory standards."
Canada imports between 80 to 90 per cent of the organic foods consumed domestically and the federal government is under increasing pressure to introduce national standards to regulate and certify products.
Laura Telford, executive director of Canadian Organic Growers, was cited as saying the deadly E. coli outbreak that affected California spinach was linked to a nearby cattle ranch, making it a case of water contamination from conventional agriculture rather than an organic issue, adding, "Many people who eat organic foods are sophisticated consumers, they can see throughout that," although she conceded that organic foods are generally just as susceptible to infection from bacteria and toxins like botulism as regular foods.
When asked if Wal-Mart is concerned about any long-term fallout from the recalls, Thompson said: ``Wal-Mart has some of the highest product testing in retail. And all our products, whether it's organic or any type of product, is put through all kinds of testing before we'll take receipt of it.''

Salmonella Sickens 20 Children At Day Care
October 20, 2006
Source of Article: http://www.nbc6.net/
DORAL, Fla. -- Health officials confirmed Thursday that salmonella caused dozens of children to get sick last week at a day care in Doral. Authorities said at least 20 and as many as 60 children at Born 2 Learn, a pre-kindergarten school in Doral, came down with the infection, NBC 6's Carlos Vergara reported. Representatives of the Miami-Dade County Health Department said they are not sure where the salmonella originated. They said that parents of students at the school have been notified and that classes are still going on.
The manager of the school said that classes have not been affected at any point.
"The health department, only they know what happened. When they close the investigation, they come and talk with the principal and explain what happened," said Jeannette Arreaca of Born 2 Learn.
Health department officials are investigating the origin of the salmonella.
"We are doing an investigation to try to determine the cause of this outbreak, and the facility, the day care, is cooperating with us fully," Juan Suarez of the health department.
Parents said they were immediately informed about the outbreak by letter.
"(They told) us that there was a virus and that any child that might be sick, please not to take the child here to school," said parent Carolina Borrero.
Born 2 Learn defended its cleanliness, and tests of water have turned up negative, Vergara reported.
The health department asked the school to send letters to parents urging a health checkup for students.
Tests on the food served at Born 2 Learn will not be back until next week.
Salmonella is often contracted by eating contaminated foods, such as chicken or eggs. Often, the food is contaminated by animal feces.
The symptoms of diarrhea, fever and cramps can last four to seven days. The infections usually do not require treatment, but some patients are hospitalized because of dehydration or if the infection spreads to the intestines, experts told NBC 6.
Elderly people, young children and those with impaired immune systems are most vulnerable to salmonella.

Health alert as Scots E coli cases jump by 44% over past year
19.oct.06
The Scotsman
Lyndsay Moss
http://news.scotsman.com/health.cfm?id=1547352006
The number of cases of the potentially deadly E coli O157 bug reported this year in Scotland has now, according to this story, exceeded the total for the whole of 2005, it emerged yesterday.
Figures from the Executive agency Health Protection Scotland (HPS) show that the infection is up almost 50 per cent compared with the same time last year.
Experts warned that the public and the medical profession needed to remain vigilant to the risks of E coli, which has been linked to a number of outbreaks of infection in Scottish nurseries this year.
HPS said there were 189 reports of E coli O157 in the first 40 weeks of 2006, compared with 131 in 2005 - a rise of 44 per cent.
The 189 cases reported so far exceed the total of 172 infections recorded last year, suggesting that the 2006 final figure will come in at more than 200.
John Cowden, a health protection consultant at HPS, was quoted as saying, "The rate has been up and down for the past five or six years, so even if it exceeds 200 this year it does not constitute a trend. We would need to see a rise over several years before that emerged. But the total cases of E coli in the year so far has now exceeded the total for the whole of last year."


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