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FDA Notifies Consumers that Tomatoes in Restaurants Linked to Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak
Source from: FDA
Current Information Suggests Outbreak is Not Ongoing
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced the results of an investigation by state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigators, which found consuming tomatoes in restaurants as the cause of illnesses in the Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak. To date, 21 states have reported 183 cases of illnesses to the CDC.
Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses.
Based on information currently available from the CDC, the investigation shows a peak in cases of illness in late September. This suggests that the outbreak is not ongoing. The agency believes that the tomatoes that caused the illnesses have at this point been consumed, destroyed or thrown out because they are perishable. Therefore, FDA does not believe a consumer warning about tomatoes on store shelves is warranted at this time.
FDA has initiated a traceback of these tomatoes and continues its close collaboration with the CDC and state and local authorities to identify the source of contamination on tomatoes in this outbreak. In particular, FDA is working closely with the states of Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, since groups of illnesses were specifically reported in these states.
Investigations of foodborne illness usually begin at the local health department level. A variety of scientific and technological methods to trace the source of reported illnesses are used. Modern technologies, such as PulseNet (the network of public health laboratories that performs "DNA fingerprinting"), have greatly improved the speed and precision of these types of investigations.
In light of recent outbreaks, FDA continues to emphasize consumer advice to reduce the risk of foodborne illness, including Salmonella-related illness, from fresh produce:

Buying Tips for Fresh Produce
Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged.
When selecting fresh cut produce - such as a half a watermelon or bagged mixed salad greens - choose only those items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
Bag fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry and seafood products when packing them to take home from the market.

Storage Tips for Fresh Produce
Certain perishable fresh fruits and vegetables (like strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms) can be best maintained by storing in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40¡Æ F or below. If you're not sure whether an item should be refrigerated to maintain quality, ask your grocer.
All produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled should be refrigerated within two hours to maintain both quality and safety.
Keep your refrigerator set at 40¡Æ F or below. Use a refrigerator thermometer to check!

Preparation Tips for Fresh Produce
Many pre-cut, bagged produce items like lettuce are pre-washed. If so, it will be stated on the packaging. This pre-washed, bagged produce can be used without further washing.
As an extra measure of caution, you can wash the produce again just before you use it. Precut or prewashed produce in open bags should be washed before using.
Begin with clean hands. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating. Produce that looks rotten should be discarded.
All unpackaged fruits and vegetables, as well as those packaged and not marked pre-washed, should be thoroughly washed before eating. This includes produce grown conventionally or organically at home, or produce that is purchased from a grocery store or farmer's market. Wash fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating, cutting or cooking.
Even if you plan to peel the produce before eating, it is still important to wash it first.
Washing fruits and vegetables with soap or detergent or using commercial produce washes is not recommended.
Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.
Drying produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel may further reduce bacteria that may be present.

Separate for Safety
Keep fruits and vegetables that will be eaten raw separate from other foods, such as raw meat, poultry or seafood - and from kitchen utensils used for those products.

In addition, be sure to:Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with hot water and soap between the preparation of raw meat, poultry and seafood products and the preparation of produce that will not be cooked.
For added protection, kitchen sanitizers can be used on cutting boards and counter tops periodically. Try a solution of one teaspoon of chlorine bleach to one quart of water.
If you use plastic or other non-porous cutting boards, run them through the dishwasher after use.

Investigation into source of Salmonella in tomatoes continues
The Produce News
Joan Murphy
WASHINGTON -- Health investigators are focusing on tomatoes delivered to restaurants as the source of the Salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 180 people in 21 states.
Kathy Means of the Produce Marketing Association was cited as saying a traceback of a bulk product will take time, especially if it is a product distributed to restaurants, because restaurants often order tomatoes by color or size to assure consistency, and this means the items are repacked into boxes without their original labeling information, adding, "We've always known leafy greens were not the only issue and that tomatoes were out there."
The story notes that FDA had warned the tomato industry in 2004 that the industry needed to review its microbial food-safety hazard programs in light of continuing outbreaks associated with fresh lettuce and fresh tomatoes. The industry responded with new commodity-specific guidelines to improve Good Agricultural Practices in the field, greenhouse, packingshed and throughout the supply chain.
An FDA spokesperson was quoted as saying, "We have some preliminary indications at this point on type and origin, but not enough data" to release to the public.
Past outbreaks have shown that when restaurants across several states are involved, it points to contamination at the farm or during packing. Research has shown that Salmonellae can grow on tomato skin surfaces and infiltrate core tissues during tomato harvest, packing and transportation. Once tomatoes are contaminated, elimination of Salmonellae can be difficult, so preventing contamination is important.
The University of Georgia's Mike Doyle was cited as saying that he fears the latest outbreak will push consumers away from eating fruits and vegetables, adding, "It's important that the produce industry steps up to the plate and invests in its future before the consumer decides it is not worth the risk of eating produce."
Dr. Doyle was further cited as calling on the industry to agree to a mix of mandatory regulations and institute validated interventions through all stages of the produce industry, stating, "This will necessitate the development of additional effective interventions that presently do not exist."
From a retailer's perspective, the tomato issue is likely to result in "some serious repercussions, perhaps even ultimatums," he added.
While retailers have banded together to ask for tougher standards in the wake of the spinach contamination, the National Restaurant Association has decided to do the same.
The story notes that the University of Florida and the Florida Tomato Exchange are sponsoring a meeting later this month in Orlando, FL, to discuss the latest Salmonella outbreak.

Hold the tomato
Suzanne Hoppough
Stanton Sheetz shuddered a few weeks ago when he heard news reports of how contaminated spinach had made 200 people sick, causing a nationwide food panic that would have utterly depressed Popeye.
Stanton, 51, is chief executive of the privately held chain of 330 convenience stores his father founded in 1952. The spinach news rattled him because his Sheetz stores were still recovering from a food crisis of their own two years ago. This one involved Salmonella in the sliced Roma tomatoes that grace Sheetz's trademark made-to-order sandwiches--giant, fat-laden, juicy creations that won legions of adoring fans. Seven hundred people in four states said they got sick, and Sheetz's food sales--which typically provide two-thirds of gross profit, while gasoline provides the rest--instantly dropped 20%.
The story says that tort lawyers lined up 139 plaintiffs and waged a legal onslaught that only now is abating, racking up several million dollars in settlements. Stanton was cited as saying that some of the same lawyers are lining up clients to sue over tainted spinach, adding, "I never had a flashback in my life until I heard about it and got a sinking feeling in my stomach."
The story says that Stanton learned all too well what--and how long--it takes to win back wary diners after a food scandal. His effort began with a soul-baring press conference, included $200,000 in local print ads apologizing to customers in the chain's five mid-Atlantic states and Ohio and led to major changes in his company's processes, inspections and supplier relations.
All of that was in pursuit of a return to focusing on what Sheetz knows best: surprisingly fresh and tasty food at a gas-station-cum-convenience store--a type of outlet often known for stale and distinctly unappetizing fare.
The story goes on to say that although the Salmonella was linked through farms and a now bankrupt vendor, Coronet Foods (the two companies' insurers continue to fight over which side should take the bigger financial hit), Sheetz stores suffered instantly. Stanton went looking for help--and turned to fast-food chain Jack in the Box.
David Theno, a senior vice president at Jack in the Box and a food-safety czar who was recruited during that chain's E. coli outbreak in 1993, was quoted as saying, "They called and said they might be implicated. I told them how to find the problem out for themselves." Stanton says federal investigators traced the contamination to a Florida tomato farm, which is no longer a supplier.
After Theno coached Stanton on how to field inquiries from microbiologists, the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Public Health, Stanton inserted a new clause into every vendor contract, establishing the right of inspection at any time. He had every store and delivery truck sanitized, and he set up a department to make unannounced health inspections of stores, vowing to temporarily shut down any slackers for cleanup. Stores now get a surprise visit from the Sheetz "germ team," as Stanton calls it, six times annually.
Sheetz has not had to perform any shutdowns in the past year. Newcomers to Stanton's 11,000-employee chain spend 6 of their 80 hours of on-the-job training learning about food safety and cleanliness.
Now Sheetz's fans are returning for made-to-order food. Revenues for fiscal 2006, ended Sept. 30, were up 22% over last year to $3.3 billion, excluding gasoline excise taxes collected by the company. Customers like the food--and also the speedy convenience. Sheetz was the world's first retailer to install self-ordering food kiosks at gas pumps and in stores--for customer convenience and to draw traffic inside stores.

Public Meeting to Address Agenda Items for the 38th Session of the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene
Congressional and Public Affairs
(202) 720-9113
Bridgette Keefe
WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2006 - The Office of the Under Secretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today announced a public meeting to provide information and receive public comments on agenda items and draft U.S. positions for the 38th Session of the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH), to be held Dec. 4 - 9, in Houston, Texas.
The public meeting is scheduled on Thursday, Nov. 9, from 1 - 4 p.m., in the conference room at the south end of the USDA cafeteria located in the USDA South Agriculture Building, 1400 Independence Ave, SW, Washington, D.C. Pre-registration is not required for this meeting; however, attendees must present a photo ID for identification to gain admittance to this meeting.
Agenda items and documents related to the 38th Session of the CCFH will be available prior to the public meeting at
Codex was created in 1963 by two United Nations organizations: the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization. Codex develops food standards, guidelines and codes of practice in order to protect the health of consumers, ensure fair food trade practices and promote coordination of food standards undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organizations. The CCFH was established to elaborate codes, standards and related texts for food hygiene.
The U.S. Delegate to the CCFH, Dr. Robert Buchanan of FDA, invites interested parties to submit their comments on the notice electronically to the following e-mail address:
For further information concerning the 38th Session of the CCFH, contact Rebecca Buckner, FDA, at (301) 436-1486, by fax at (301) 436-2668 or by e-mail at
For additional information about the public meeting or to request a sign language interpreter or any other special accommodations, contact Amjad Ali, international issues analyst, U.S. Codex Office, at (202) 720-7760 or by fax at (202) 720-3157.

Probe continues into source of salmonella contamination at Hershey plant
Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
Published: Monday, November 13, 2006 Article tools
The Hershey plant in Smiths Falls is closed due to a salmonnella scare.
Photograph by : Kristen Goff, The Ottawa Citizen/CanWest News Service

TORONTO -- The Hershey chocolate factory in Smiths Falls, Ont., remained shut down Monday because of a salmonella scare affecting two dozen of the company¡¯s popular chocolates and candy bars.
While the company reported no illnesses, a recall issued on Sunday was still in effect and hundreds of workers were on temporary layoff.
¡°The plant is still in shutdown mode and the investigation is still continuing,¡± said Garfield Balsom, a spokesman for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
¡°The main focus was to make sure that any product that was identified out there was brought back.¡±
The food agency said it was monitoring the effectiveness of the recall of 25 different Hershey products but saw no reason to make it mandatory.
Salmonella bacteria can cause severe stomach ailments, fever and nausea and can be dangerous to those with weaker immune systems.
Balsom said it was likely the first time a chocolate plant in Canada had recalled its products.In June, some Cadbury chocolate imported into Canada from Great Britain were recalled because of possible salmonella contamination. It was not known when the plant, which laid off most of its 500 employees when the contamination was discovered last Thursday night, could re-open. ¡°The focus would be to concentrate internally at the facility and ensure that once they do get back up in operation that product remains safe,¡± Balsom said. In a statement, the company said it wanted customers to be aware of the health concern.
The food agency was unable to say how much of the suspect product had been returned, but the company said most never made it to retailers in the first place.
The company offered refunds to customers who mailed product wrappers to the Hershey main office in Pennsylvania.
¡°Product quality and safety are top priorities at Hershey,¡± Eric Lent, general manager for the company¡¯s Canadian operations said in a statement.
¡°We are working in close co-operation with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to quickly retrieve the product in question from our customers.¡±
The 25 varieties of chocolate recalled include Oh Henry!, Reese¡¯s Peanut Butter Cups and Glossettes.
The products included in the recall have date codes ranging from 6417 to 6455 and were manufactured between Oct. 15 and Nov. 10.
Consumers wanting further information can call 1-800-468-1714.
Although there was no mention of the recall on the company¡¯s website on Monday, a complete list of affected products was listed at the food inspection agency¡¯s website at
Halloween and Christmas candy was not affected by the recall, the company said.

FDA Seeks Injunction of Seafood Processor
source from: FDA
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced that it is seeking a permanent injunction against Worldwide Fish & Seafood, Inc. (Worldwide Fish), Suzanne Weinstein, its president and owner, and Timothy A. Lauer, its general manager. Worldwide Fish does business as Coastal Seafood, a seafood processor located at 2330 Minnehaha Avenue, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The firm distributes seafood products to restaurants in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota.
The government's complaint, filed today by the United States Department of Justice in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota after settlement talks failed, charges the defendants with violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by processing seafood products under conditions that may cause the food to become injurious to health.
According to the government's complaint, seven FDA inspections over the past six years, including an inspection conducted on November 1-3, and November 6, revealed that the defendants had failed to establish and implement adequate Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans to prevent and control food safety hazards associated with each type of potentially hazardous seafood product that they process, as required by FDA regulations. The seafood HACCP regulations require that all seafood processors develop and implement adequate HACCP plans that (1) include all food safety hazards that are likely to occur for each kind of seafood product, and (2) contain preventative measures that the food processor can implement to control those hazards.
FDA inspections also showed that the defendants did not ensure that their equipment was actually recording refrigerator temperatures and that the defendants did not monitor their temperature recording devices. Despite repeated warnings from FDA, including a Warning Letter following one of the inspections, Worldwide Fish has consistently failed to have and implement adequate seafood HACCP plans for each of its potentially hazardous products.

The defendants' lack of appropriate seafood HACCP plans poses a public health risk, because some of the seafood products handled by Worldwide Fish, e.g., clams, oysters, and smoked salmon can be sources of pathogenic bacteria, including Escherichia coli ("E. coli"), Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, and Clostridium botulinum. In addition, Worldwide Fish handles fish species such as tuna, mahi-mahi, and mackerel that when handled inappropriately are known to develop histamine, which can cause adverse reactions, such as severe rash, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea of varying degrees of severity. The fish and fishery products handled by Worldwide Fish are susceptible to pathogen growth and histamine formation when exposed to abusive conditions. HACCP programs rely on strict temperature control to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and to prevent excessive histamine accumulation.

The FDA has initiated this action to promote and protect the public health by enforcing federal food and drug laws. FDA's mission includes ensuring the safety or safety and effectiveness of food, human and animal drugs, vaccines, blood products, medical devices, electronic products that emit radiation, and cosmetics.

Toilets underused to fight disease, U.N. study finds
New York Times
Celia W. Dugger
A United Nations report released yesterday was cited as saying that the toilet and the latrine, which helped revolutionize public health in New York, London and Paris more than a century ago, are among the most underused tools to combat poverty and disease in the developing world.
Kevin Watkins, the main author of the report, was quoted as saying, "Issues dealing with human excrement tend not to figure prominently in the programs of political parties contesting elections or the agendas of governments. They¡¯re the unwanted guests at the table."
Watkins was further cited as saying the human cost of that taboo, however, is more unspeakable than the topic itself, and that every year, more than two million children die of diarrhea and other sicknesses caused by dirty water and a lack of "access to sanitation."
That is the common euphemism for the reality that more than a third of the world¡¯s people ? 2.6 billion ? have no decent place to go to the bathroom, while more than a billion get water for drinking, washing and cooking from sources polluted by human and animal feces.
At any time, almost half the people in developing countries have one or more of the main illnesses associated with inadequate water and sanitation and fill half the hospital beds, the report said. They are plagued by diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, trachoma and parasitic worms.
The United Nations Development Program¡¯s annual attempt to measure human well-being focuses this year on the dearth of clean water and adequate sanitation for the world¡¯s poor. The report, ¡°Beyond Poverty: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis,¡± lays out the grim facts.
In Kibera, the sprawling slum in Nairobi, Kenya, people defecate in plastic bags that they dump in ditches or toss into the street a practice known as ¡°the flying toilet.¡± In Dharavi, the vast slum in Mumbai, India, there is only one toilet per 1,440 people ? and during the monsoon rains, flooded lanes run with human excrement.
Across the countryside in Asia and Africa, people are forced to squat in streams, backyards and fields, befouling the water they drink, the places where their children play and the plots where their food grows.
The report¡¯s authors estimate that it would cost $10 billion a year to halve the percentage of people without access to safe drinking water and to provide them with simple pit latrines. But that is less than half what rich countries spend annually on bottled water.
The report blames the governments of poor and rich countries for paying too little attention to this fundamental problem.

The raw milk wars heat up in Ohio
Business Week
David E. Gumpert
Which state is toughest on small dairy farmers seeking to meet the burgeoning consumer demand for raw milk? It recently looked as if Michigan had the title, after its October sting operation on a farmer delivering raw milk and other products to members of a cooperative in Ann Arbor (see, 10/19/06, "States Target Raw-Milk Farmers"). That one-upped California, which the previous month had quarantined the state's largest raw-milk producer (see, 9/28/06, "Getting a Raw Deal?").
But Ohio may be tougher than both these states when it comes to policing distribution of raw (unpasteurized and unhomogenized) milk, moving aggressively over the last year-and-a-half against farmers who might make it available in any form?as pet food, via herd-share leasing programs, or even giving it away.
David Cox, a Columbus lawyer with the firm Lane, Alton & Horst who specializes in cases involving agriculture regulations, was quoted as saying, "They're treating raw milk like heroin or crack," adding that he now has six Ohio cases at various stages, and one common element in all, he says, is a sense of "vindictiveness" by the state's Agriculture Dept. (ODA).
Ohio's agriculture officials deny there's any vindictiveness behind their actions, but do allow that going after raw milk producers has become a high priority for the state and a hot topic among state agriculture officials.
The story goes on to say that so intense is ODA's campaign against raw milk, the agency earlier this year even sent a written warning to Organic Pastures Dairy, the Fresno, Calif., dairy that tangled with California agriculture officials?against selling raw milk via mail order to Ohio residents. ODA's spokesperson readily acknowledges that it has no jurisdiction in California.
David Gumpert provides updates on this issue at his blog
Gumpert is author of Burn Your Business Plan! What Investors Really Want from Entrepreneurs and How to Really Start Your Own Business. His Web site is

Readers explain why they should have the right to drink raw milk
Dayton Daily News (OH)
Daniel L. Soutar, Huntsville, asks, how did our forefathers live without the Ohio Department of Agriculture
Who could have possibly survived unpasteurized milk? None of us should exist, because our forefathers would certainly have died consuming such a "dangerous food" as raw milk, according to the ideology and actions of the ODA.
I have been the owner of a small business for 26 years, and I know the importance and legality of a business contract that doesn't contravene existing law. This is exactly what we have here. I have the legal right to enter into a private business contract with another businessman; to have him board my animals and to receive their products to be consumed by my family and me.
It is time for the court to make a decision. Five hundred years from now, the ODA will be long gone. Raw milk and private agreements between private parties will remain.
The court can make history by interpreting the existing laws in favor of a family's right to choose its own food, or be relegated to the boneyard of history for the tyranny of an unjust decision that would help lead to the demise of a well-ordered society.

A. Crystal Elkins, Springboro, says the ongoing situation between the Ohio Department of Agriculture and individuals who would like to exercise their right to consume raw milk obtained through a herd share:
We do realize that there is risk in choosing to drink raw milk, but we have taken steps to ensure that the milk that we get is fresh and not treated with any chemicals. We refrigerate it and use it before it spoils. My family thrives on the goodness of raw milk.
In the case of raw milk obtained from a herd share, I know where the milk is coming from. I know the cows are being well taken care of and fed a mostly grass diet.
I feel much safer drinking raw milk from our herd than eating spinach bought in the grocery store. There is no issue with farmers drinking raw milk from the herds on their personal farms, so I don't think there should be an issue with me drinking raw milk from a herd that I share ownership in.
The Department of Agriculture claims that raw milk is responsible for the deaths and sickness of numerous individuals. Yet I see no attempts to limit citizens' choices to eat spinach, oysters or even fast food.
Why is it that the ODA will take away my family's option to drink raw milk, but then allow me to sit down to a meal of raw oysters and spinach salad?

Mark Bensman, New Bremen says, I am baffled and quite disgusted that I must fight for my right to drink milk from my own herd.
All I want to do is drink raw milk from my own herd. Doesn't this sound absurd to have to fight for this? It cannot be a matter of health, as stated by the Ohio Department of Agriculture ? otherwise, why is it OK for owners of small dairy herds across the state to drink their own milk?
Megafarms, including dairy megafarms, are not all individually owned. As far as I know, the ODA supports all of the operations of those herds. Why not ours?
It seems to me that this is all about money, or the loss of it from the big companies' pockets. The ODA must know, and probably fears, that people are figuring out that organic, raw milk is the way nature intended milk to be consumed.
People have been drinking raw milk from small, family-owned herds for generations, with no harm to their health. In fact, good health is the very reason such a large group of people decided to start drinking raw milk.
No one forced anyone, including myself, to enter into a legal and private contract for ownership in a dairy herd. No one should have the right to tell me that I cannot drink my own nutritious, healthy milk.
This is the kind of thing you hear about happening in other countries ruled by evil tyrants.

Laura Flynn, Columbus, says I am a mother, a registered/licensed dietitian and a consumer of raw milk.
Currently, the Ohio Department of Agriculture is threatening my right to provide raw milk to my family. To be within the law, the only way I can provide raw milk is to be a farmer.
I live in the city; it is impossible for me to have a dairy farm in my backyard. So I am, by contract, a co-owner of a dairy farm, and, therefore, a farmer. With the revised contract, I have a direct impact on the milk production of the dairy farm.
Why does the ODA have any business threatening my right to contract? According to the ODA, I do not have the right to purchase raw milk because it is unsafe, and they are "protecting" me.
I am aware of the numerous unsafe food products that are readily available. Science has said that fried foods are unsafe, and yet I still have the freedom to choose to purchase and consume a french fry.
I do not understand why consuming raw milk has become more alarming than eating fried foods.
Let's agree to disagree on the safety of raw milk and place a warning label on it, just like so many other products on the market.
Just exactly whose safety and interest is the ODA protecting? If the ODA were truly interested in protecting my safety, then it would be supporting HB 534, which would set safety standards.

Marcie Stammen, North Star, says my family and I have been drinking raw milk from grass-fed cows every day for a very long time. More than 2,500 Ohio dairy producers drink raw milk every day without the Ohio Department of Agriculture interference or intervention, because they have ownership interest in their herd.
Why does the ODA continue to spend my tax dollars harassing the citizens and the herd-share program? Herd-share contracts are legal because the livestock boarding laws allow boarding an animal on another's property and allow the owner to receive the benefits from those animals.
The government will let people poison themselves with cigarettes, sodas and sugar-laden everything as long as they get their cut.
If I wanted to go to the store, I could freely and legally obtain many products that would not benefit my health and might destroy it. Organic raw milk from grass-fed cows is a nutrient-dense traditional food that our ancestors have consumed for more than 6,000 years.
My family is very healthy and thrives on raw milk. I don't need the government telling me what is best for my family.
The ODA needs to stop interfering in the lives and health choices of informed Ohio citizens.

Food Safety Job Information
Food Safety Job Information

Irradiation could reduce food-borne illness
Consumer Affairs

Hamburgers, apple cider, petting zoos and even spinach have been blamed for E. coli outbreaks in recent years. It doesn't have to be that way, says Dennis G. Maki, M.D., writing in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Irradiation of high-risk foods after processing could greatly reduce the incidence of all bacterial foodborne disease and save hundreds of lives each year, Maki argues.
"Irradiation kills or markedly reduces counts of food pathogens without impairing the nutritional value of the food or making it toxic, carcinogenic, or radioactive," according to Maki, a professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin.
In the latest major E. coli outbreak, 199 persons in 26 states were sickened by fresh spinach or spinach-containing products from commercial brands processed by Natural Selection Foods of San Juan Bautista, California. At least 103 of them developed acute renal failure and three died.
It was, said Maki, at least the 26th reported outbreak of E. coli infection traced to contaminated leafy green vegetables since 1993.
But the problem of food-borne illness extends beyond the widely publicized mass outbreaks. Magi said that during each day of the spinach E. coli outbreak, "there were at least 5 to 10 times as many cases of endemic Shiga toxin producing E. coli infection throughout the country as there were outbreak cases."
Agencies charged with food safety -- the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- have ratcheted up their surveillance efforts. But after some initial success, the rate of decline in food-borne illness has leveled off over the last decade, according to Maki.
The use of industrial farming techniques make it much harder to ensure the safety of meat and produce, Maki said.
"During my childhood in 1950s rural Wisconsin, when I ate a hamburger at home, the ground beef had been produced locally from cuts taken from several sides of beef purchased by the neighborhood grocer from a local farmer, who probably raised no more than 25 pasture-fed cows on a 150-acre farm," he recalled.
"Today, virtually all beef consumed in North America is produced on a vast industrial scale, starting with a herd of tens of thousands of grain-fed cattle, raised in the final months before slaughter in the constrained environment of a feedlot, with the beef cuts from hundreds of cows to several thousand contributing to a single lot of more than 100,000 pounds of ground beef, shipped to many hundreds of supermarkets in multiple states."
There has been a decline in E. coli contamination of ground beef but produce is another matter.
Although most reported infections with Shiga toxin producing E. coli are linked to undercooked ground beef, nearly 25% of outbreaks stem from contamination of commercial produce that is eaten uncooked lettuce, spinach, cabbage, sprouts, or tomatoes," Maki said.
Irradiation Already Approved
Irradiation of food is already approved in the United States for most perishable foods and has been endorsed by the World Health Organization, CDC, FDA, USDA, American Medical Association, and European Commission Scientific Committee on Food.
But, says Maki, intense opposition from antinuclear activitists has blocked widespread use of the technology.
"A number of food products are already commonly irradiated, with no evidence of harmful effects, and for decades, we have sterilized hundreds of millions of implanted medical devices through irradiation each year," Maki said.
The CDC has estimated that irradiation of high-risk foods could prevent up to a million cases of bacterial foodborne disease that result in the hospitalization of more than 50,000 persons and kill many hundreds each year in North America.
"I believe it is time to overcome our irrational fears and act to ensure the safety of our food," Maki concluded.

IFIC study says U.S. consumers confident of food supply safety
CropBiotech Update
Majority of American consumers are confident in the safety of the United States food supply and express little to no concern about food and agricultural biotechnology. This is a finding of a study published by the International Food Information Council (IFIC).
IFIC commissioned Cogent Research to conduct quantitative assessments of U.S. adult consumer attitudes toward food biotechnology to, among others, track public awareness and perceptions of food biotechnology; and identify food biotechnology concerns.
Other findings are:
Food biotechnology is not a consumer labeling demand.
Although many consumers have heard at least ¡°a little¡± about food biotechnology, awareness has declined and knowledge is superficial.
Communicating specific benefits may enhance perception.
Although awareness is low, consumers remain open to the broad concept of animal biotechnology, in general.
Consumers remain opposed to the notion of animal cloning, as well as the use of cloned animals for breeding.
The majority of consumers continue to be unaware of plant-made pharmaceuticals, but those who are aware tend to be favorable.
The study concludes that while there is no overwhelming consumer demand for more information about food biotechnology, it will be important to continue to make science-based information available to the public.

Food safety is top priority for farm groups
Issue Date: November 8, 2006
By Kate Campbell
Assistant Editor
With plans for improving the safety of fresh leafy greens quickly evolving, farmers say a number of significant actions in recent days are helping clarify needed actions in the wake of an E. coli outbreak in September that brought the fresh spinach industry to a halt.
A check of the San Francisco produce terminal indicates that spinach sales are about 50 percent below the level before the outbreak in bagged spinach occurred. Experts are estimating that farmers, wholesalers and retailers have lost at least $100 million.
Now major food service and retail grocery organizations say they want uniform safety standards put in place by Dec. 15. In addition, the group is calling for more fresh vegetable crops being added to a mandatory certification program by Feb. 15. Meanwhile, leading agricultural associations have been aggressively working on a comprehensive food-safety plan for agriculture. Now they're looking at creating a California marketing agreement and a marketing order to be the vehicle for establishing mandatory practices for all aspects of growing, packing, processing and shipping of spinach and leafy greens.
In a letter to the Produce Marketing Association, the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association and Western Growers, the coalition of produce buyers said they expect the fresh produce industry to respond "collaboratively and expeditiously" to protect public health. The group laid out a 10-point list of expectations.
"Like all of us, these businesses are committed to protecting public health and restoring consumer confidence in fresh leafy vegetables in the wake of the recent E. coli outbreak," said California Farm Bureau Federation President Doug Mosebar.
"And I want to stress that California's farmers and ranchers continue to emphasize the importance of food safety. We're working with agricultural associations, leading scientists and government agencies to find the most effective solutions for preventing food-borne illness.
"As these plans, which have been in development for some time, are refined, it's important that everyone have all the information necessary to assure the safety and wholesomeness of the nation's fresh food supply," Mosebar said. "Nothing could be more important than food safety to California's farmers who have made growing fresh fruits and vegetables their life's work."
The produce buyers coalition includes the owners of Safeway, Vons, Albertsons, Ralphs and Kroger grocery store chains, as well as Sysco, Costco and Denny Corp. Other major buying groupsincluding Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailerare likely to join the effort, the group said.
The working group is asking the three produce associations to contact other produce-industry groups in the United States and Mexico to join in the effort of meeting their demands. The group wants standards that are specific, measurable and verifiable, as opposed to the current system, in which food-safety protocols and standards are established among individual companies and their suppliers, often using inspections by third-party auditors.
"We want to pull all these people together and collaborate on new standards," said Tom York, chief executive officer of Markon Crop. in Salinas. "We want standards based on what we know today and translate those requirements into standardized auditing criteria and have a certification program in place."
He told the media that the recent E. coli outbreak was a blatant signal that change in the food-safety system was needed.
Sacramento County farmer Ken Oneto, who is the chairman of CFBF's Specialty Crops Advisory Committee, said, "We're at a place where we have to decide if we want to govern ourselves on food safety issues or have it come from the outside.
"If the commodity organizations can develop and gain member commitment to uniform food-safety practices, that would be best," Oneto said. "Farmers know best what cultural practices work for their specific commodity.
"Being in a packing shed or on a processing line is a different thing than reading about it in a book," Oneto said. "And many farmers have felt that the marketsupermarket chains and major buyerswould, through their purchasing power, set the standards for food safety. So the demands from these companies are not surprising."
He said he fully expects the future for vegetable growers will include more auditing, closer tracking of farm commodities and improved traceability.
"My family eats the food that comes out of our fields and I'm not going to do anything that wil endanger either my family or my customers," Oneto said. "The universal adoption of best farming practices is in everyone's best interest.
"The recent E. coli outbreak in spinach underscores that food safety begins with farmers, but it is a shared responsibility that extends all along the food chain, and the costs of more regulation have got to be shared as well."
Western Growers said it has asked for a California marketing agreement and a marketing order that will set mandatory good agriculture practices to strengthen spinach and leafy green food-safety procedures. The association said the effect of these actions will be to impose enhanced and mandatory food safety processes on all aspects of growing, packing, processing and shipping of spinach and leafy greens.
Under the proposed agreement, enforcement and process verification will be overseen by state and federal regulatory agencies.
"Our industry is at a crossroads," said Tom Nassif, president and chief executive officer of Western Growers. "The consuming public, lawmakers, state and federal government agencies, as well as our members, want greater assurances that the healthy, fresh produce we provide is safe."
Federal marketing orders are administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. State marketing agreements and orders are administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture..Marketing orders and marketing agreements can include mandatory inspections, process verification, research, methods of growing, harvesting and handling and, ultimately, sanctions for non-compliance. Before a marketing order is established, it must first be approved by a referendum of growers of that commodity.

"In this case, the state and federal marketing order will be used to put teeth into food safety practices and guidelines by making them mandatory and by imposing sanctions on those who do not follow those guidelines," said Nassif.

To hasten the process of establishing the practices and setting into motion the creation of the marketing orders, Western Growers has established a close working relationship with CFBF and other association partners, including Produce Marketing Association, United Fresh Produce Association and the Grower Shipper Association of Central California.

State marketing agreements and orders are legal instruments authorized by the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 and in subsequent amendments. The California Secretary of Food and Agriculture is vested with the power to exercise the use of these instruments to regulate the marketing of eligible commodities, including fruits, vegetables, specialty crops, and milk, in specific ways.

Marketing orders help fruit and vegetable growers work together to solve marketing problems that they cannot solve individually. They help balance the availability of quality farm products with the need for adequate returns to producers and the demands of consumers.

There currently are about a dozen federal orders operating in California and more than 50 state commodity marketing programs, covering about half of California's total agricultural output.

In a prepared statement the California Department of Food and Agriculture said it welcomed Western Growers request to enter into a marketing order and marketing agreement to ensure that best agricultural practices are being followed with leafy greens and spinach.

The CDFA statement said: "We look forward to seeing the detailed plans soon and will continue to work closely with our partners at Department of Health, FDA, the Farm Bureau and the industry to ensure that the standards are the strongest they can be."

Louie Brown, a government relations consultant with Kahn, Soares & Conway in Sacramento, said that for the California commodities currently working under a marketing order they can be very effective in enforcing good food-safety practices. "For one thing, through their statutory authority, they have the ability to collect assessments and the opportunity to have access to an entire commodity group," Brown said. "It's a very efficient way to use the industry to provide input and funding for a program such as food safety."
Brown cautioned, however, that for the best outcomes the roles of industry and government must be very well defined.
"But, for a truly credible program, enforcement has to come directly from CDFA or the Department of Health and Safety," Brown said. "In that way you avoid the perception of the fox guarding the hen house."
(Kate Campbell is a reporter for Ag Alert. She may be contacted at
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