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Internet Journal of Food Safety

12/22
2006
ISSUE:238

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MERRY CHRISTMAS

FDA Reminds Consumers to Practice Egg Safety this Holiday Season
Source from: FDA
The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reminds consumers to pay special attention to the handling of eggs and preparation of foods that contain eggs during this holiday season. Some holiday favorites, such as cookie dough, homemade eggnog, and some types of stuffing, may contain eggs that are raw or undercooked. Eggs sometimes contain a bacteria called Salmonella enteriditis (SE), which can cause illness if eggs are not handled and cooked properly. An FDA national survey of consumer food safety practices, the 2006 FDA/FSIS Food Safety Survey, found that cookie dough is one of the major sources of raw egg in the American diet, and that only three percent of respondents always use a food thermometer when they cook baked egg dishes such as stuffing.

To avoid egg-related illness from holiday foods:
Do not eat unbaked cookie dough.
Cook baked egg-containing dishes to160 degrees F.
Make recipes that call for raw or undercooked eggs, like eggnog, with eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella or with pasteurized egg products.
An estimated 118,000 illnesses per year are caused by consumption of eggs contaminated with SE. To help consumers avoid these illnesses, FDA requires the following statement on packages of fresh eggs that have not been treated to destroy Salmonella:

Safe Handling Instructions: To prevent illness from bacteria, keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly.

Following these instructions is important for everyone, but especially for those most vulnerable to foodborne illness young children; the elderly; persons with weakened immune systems due to conditions such as AIDS, cancer or diabetes, or treatments such as chemotherapy for cancer; persons with weakened immune systems due to steroid use; and persons with immune suppression after organ transplantation.
Find more information about holiday food safety at www.cfsan.fda.gov or call 1-888-SAFEFOOD.

Lettuce Irradiate (December 19, 2006) INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY; Editorial Opinion
Source of Article: Food Irradiation Update (January 2007)
Public Health: The answer to recent E. coli outbreaks and other food-borne illnesses has been sitting on the shelf for decades while hundreds of thousands of Americans have been sickened and thousands have died. Virtually every modern kitchen has a microwave oven that's used to prepare everything from popcorn to the proverbial TV dinner. We do not fear it; we use it without a second thought. Yet a similar technology that can make food safer is feared and remains relatively unused.
That technology is food irradiation. The U.S. Army pioneered its development in 1943, and it has since been commercially used in more than 40 countries, including on a small scale in the U.S. Astronauts on space shuttle missions have eaten irradiated foods, even steak.
Food irradiation uses gamma rays from a solid radioactive source to break up the DNA of, and thus kill, dangerous bacteria, parasites, mold and fungus in and on agricultural products. It does not make food radioactive, any more than getting a dental X-ray or passing through a metal detector at the airport makes you or your teeth glow in the dark.
The recent deaths traced to contaminated produce served at Taco Bell restaurants is reminiscent of the 1993 deaths of children from tainted beef served at Jack in the Box restaurants. Back in 1997 over 25 million pounds of hamburger was recalled by Hudson Foods in Nebraska after it was discovered to be contaminated with E. coli bacteria. All these incidents could have been prevented by food irradiation.
But when you mention "radiation," Americans think of things like Hiroshima, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Never mind that the process has been deemed safe by the World Health Organization, the Food and Drug Administration, the American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control.
So-called food-safety advocates warn that irradiation can produce cancer-causing chemicals in foods while depleting them of nutrients. The same fears could be associated with roasting, frying, boiling and broiling, not to mention your backyard barbecue. As the CDC notes: "An overwhelming body of scientific evidence demonstrates that irradiation does not harm the nutritional value of food, nor does it make the foods unsafe to eat."

The CDC feels that if properly done, food irradiation is no more dangerous than the pasteurization of milk or the fluoridation and chlorination of drinking water, advances in technology that have saved countless lives and prevented countless illnesses. As the CDC said in 2005: "Food irradiation is a logical step to reducing the burden of food borne diseases in the United States."
Three decades ago, the WHO declared: "All the toxicological studies carried out on a large number of irradiated foods, from almost every type of food commodity, have produced no evidence of adverse effects" in irradiation.
More recently irradiation was given a clean bill of health by Paisan Loaharanu, a former director at the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization, who said: "The safety of irradiated foods is well-established through many toxicological studies. . . . No other food technology has gone through more safety tests than food irradiation."

Despite all the evidence of its safety, only about 1% of our meat and produce is irradiated while 325,000 Americans are hospitalized and 5,000 die each year from food-borne illnesses. How many of those incidents are preventable?
Well, said Dennis Olsen, professor of animal science at Iowa State University, "If the spinach that contained E. coli in the outbreak in September and October had been irradiated, there would not have been 199 cases of illness, 102 hospitalizations and three deaths."

Food for thought.
Spinach that is making the experts turn green with Anger;(December 5, 2006); Destination Sante; Health News Agency: The alert regarding fresh spinach infected by the E.coli 0157:H7 bacteria which recently affected 26 American States, means the time has come to review the situation. The experts are reminding people of the benefit of irradiating food.
The affair shook North America between mid-August and the beginning of October of this year. In all, 199 people were infected by the E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria after having eaten fresh spinach. Half of them had to be hospitalised. One in eight even suffered from haemolytic uraemic syndrome.
"The precise contamination mechanism is still being examined", says Dr Maki at Wisconsin University. "The bacterial strain in question was detected in fertiliser produced in four neighbouring Californian farms".
Dr Maki went on to deplore the fact that irradiation of foods is so strongly rejected by certain groups - in particular "anti-nuclear activists and other groups" - whereas it is recommended by the WHO, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Atlanta CDC. All of which consider, according to Maki, "that irradiation of food at risk could prevent over a million infections and 50,000 hospitalisations in North America. The time has therefore come to go beyond irrational fears and to act to protect food safety.

E. coli outbreaks prompt leaders to back irradiation
20.dec.06
Farm News Iowa
Randy Mudgett
http://www.farmnews-iowa.com/News/articles.asp?articleID=5122
A rash of food safety incidents have sickened people as close to home as Des Moines and Cedar Falls within the past few weeks rejuvenating the call for safer food handling methods.
The story says that the sicknesses were blamed on produce that carried a harmful E. coli bacteria, but food safety specialists, regulators and lawmakers say the foods could be made safer if irradiation processes were used on all foods.
Recently, after an outbreak of E. coli that sickened hundreds in the New Jersey area, New York Sen. Charles Schumer called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to trace produce to its source. Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley was cited as saying rather than spending money to trace E. coli-tainted produce, the government should institute irradiation to kill the bacteria at the source.
The FDA has approved irradiation of meat, poultry, fruits, vegetables and spices, claiming that the process is safe and effective in decreasing or eliminating harmful bacteria and pests in food. The term ¡®¡®irradiation¡¯¡¯ tends to conjure up thoughts in some people who claim the process causes cancer and disease. However, scientists say the irradiation process does not change the taste or nutrient content of foods, rather it extends the shelf life of fresh foods, making foods safer.

Davidson's Pasteurized Shell Eggs now available throughout western U.S.
21.dec.06
Davidson's Pasteurized Shell Eggs
LANSING, Ill. -- In the wake of recent food safety news, Davidson's Safest Choice Pasteurized Shell Eggs, pasteurized to eliminate dangerous egg-related Salmonella bacteria, are now available at Safeway, Vons, and Pavilions supermarkets throughout California, Arizona, Oregon and Washington.
Davidson's Pasteurized Shell Eggs ( http://www.safeeggs.com ) undergo an all natural patented pasteurization process that destroys harmful bacteria including Salmonella enteritidis (SE), the main egg-related Salmonella bacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year more than 118,000 egg-related Salmonella cases are confirmed, and many more are underreported or misdiagnosed.
The rise in consumer demand for pasteurized shell eggs throughout the Western U.S. is indicative of a similar trend in foodservice and institutional settings, according to Greg West, president of National Pasteurized Eggs (NPE), which produces the Davidson's Pasteurized Shell Eggs brand. "Many independent and chain restaurants throughout the West value the safety and quality of pasteurized shell eggs. In fact, a growing number of healthcare, school and foodservice entities throughout the West have recognized the importance and safety of pasteurized shell eggs."
Facilities now using pasteurized shell eggs include major healthcare institutions such as Cedars-Sinai Hospital Medical Center, Los Angeles, University of California-Irvine Medical Center at Irvine, and Kaiser Permanente Hospitals throughout Southern California, as well as leading restaurants including Toscana in Los Angeles, Salt Creek Grill in Dana Point and the Balboa Yacht Club in Newport Beach. Carl's Jr. Restaurants and FATBURGER restaurants have also implemented the product throughout all of their restaurants in California.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates more than 2.3 million eggs contaminated with SE were sold last year, exposing a large number of people to risk of illness. The risk of complications from egg-related Salmonella is even greater for the 60 million Americans who are part of the highly susceptible population, including children under 10, pregnant women, those over 50 and those with compromised immune systems. To be certain shell eggs are safe, the FDA recommends in the US Food Code to cook eggs until the yolks are hard, or to use pasteurized shell eggs in all dishes calling for lightly cooked or raw eggs.

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Lawsuit filed after restaurant illness outbreak
20.dec.06
WISH - Indianapolis, IN
Marlee Ginter
http://www.wishtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=5843120&nav=0Ra7
In a 24-Hour News 8 exclusive interview one of the women suing Olive Garden talked about the outbreak that sickened hundreds of people after eating at the restaurant in Castleton.
She wants the restaurant and even health officials to look at the way the outbreak was handled. She says her family should never have been exposed to the virus in the first place.
Diana Redman says she spent days vomiting, cramping and not eating after she had dinner at the Olive Garden restaurant in Castleton. She spoke first to 24-Hour News 8. Now a week later and feeling better she's filing a lawsuit.
"I had to miss work and a Christmas party on Saturday. It wasn't just a 24 hour flu, it was pretty intense," Diana said.
The doors to the restaurant are back open and there are cars in the parking lot. The restaurant went through several thorough cleanings after health officials say upwards of 400 people reported illnesses.
"They should have shut themselves down. They shouldn't have waited for the Board of Health to do it on a Friday so that me and my family of five should never have been exposed to what we were exposed to," Diana said.
24-Hour News 8 spoke with Olive Garden company officials out of Orlando, Florida. The company issued this statement, "We have not seen the lawsuit so we can't comment on it. But we can say we've always demonstrated a great deal of respect and caring for our guests."
"I think the lawsuit gets their attention to make changes happen," Diana said.
Diana hopes the lawsuit will prompt a quicker response should the norovirus ever show up in the restaurant again.
Diana says her daughter was also sick for several days.
Restaurant officials say they disinfected three times both Wednesday and Thursday of last week and then over the weekend.
Still, Diana says it should've been shut down well before then.

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FDA: Questions & Answers Taco Bell E. Coli O157:H7 Lettuce Outbreak

FDA: Dr. X and the Quest for Food Safety Interactive Video (46:00 min.)

FDA: ALERT materials now available in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, & Vietnamese


FOOD SAFETY HELP FOR DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Source of Article: http://www.meatnews.com/
GLOBAL: Agencies agree plan for food safety, animal/plant health assistance.
Five international organizations have set up a new medium term strategy to help developing countries implement internationally-agreed standards for food safety and animal and plant health.
The strategy will strengthen the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) to assist developing countries implement international sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards.
To date, the STDF has approved 23 projects and 21 project-preparation grants benefiting developing and least developed countries.
The STDF was created in 2002 as a trust fund by five organizations: UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and World Trade Organization (WTO).
This followed a joint commitment made at WTO's Ministerial Conference in Doha in November 2001. The STDF is administered by the WTO.
The new strategy for the STDF places greater emphasis on coordinating, mobilizing funds and identifying and disseminating best practice in the provision of SPS-related technical cooperation and capacity building.
With increasing funds going into SPS-related technical cooperation projects, identifying and implementing good practices will benefit to donors and recipients alike, the OIE said.
So far, 11 donors have committed funds to the STDF. With a new operating strategy in place, it is hoped that the annual funding target of US$5 million will be met.
The medium term strategy also sees a role for the STDF to act as a vehicle to administer grants, with project-preparation grants being used to attract funds from the wider donor community.

Taco Bell turns onto 'recovery' road
20.dec.06
USA Today
Bruce Horovitz
http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2006-12-20-taco-poll-usat_x.htm
A national poll done for USA Today was cited as finding that about 1 in 3 frequent fast-food customers say they plan to eat less often at Taco Bell ? or not at all ? as a result of the chain's recent E. coli outbreak.
Yet the online poll, by food service research firm Sandelman & Associates, shows fast-food eaters are satisfied with how Taco Bell (YUM) handled the crisis in which 71 people fell ill after eating at the Mexican-style chain. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed rate Taco Bell's actions after the outbreak as "good," "very good" or "excellent."
Bob Sandelman, CEO of the research firm, was quoted as saying, "It's clearly affecting their business. But Taco Bell appears to be on the road to recovery."
Other chains, including McDonald's and Burger King, were affected to a lesser degree by E. coli outbreaks.
The poll of 311 people who eat fast food at least once a month ? and were aware of the E. coli at fast-food chains ? was conducted Dec. 15-18. It noted that federal health officials suspect lettuce as the probable cause of the outbreaks at Taco Bell and that the outbreaks had been limited to four states, with no cases reported since Dec. 3.
Taco Bell President Greg Creed was cited as declining in a phone interview to comment on Sandelman's findings but he did say that Taco Bell has been doing its own polling since the outbreak and that 94% of people who describe themselves as Taco Bell eaters have a "positive" view of the brand and 82% believe the food is "safe," adding, "Given the publicity in the marketplace, these are very good numbers."
The story says that Taco Bell's national online survey of 400 people was done Dec. 15.
Creed was further quoted as saying, "Over the last few days, sales have started to recover. This is a bigger issue than Taco Bell." It's an ingredient issue, and Taco Bell will seek better industry testing in the field, "before it comes to our restaurant." The outbreak could have happened to anyone. It's not like we did anything wrong."

USDA discovers anti-E. coli feed additive
19.dec.06
Wisconsin Ag Connection
http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-national.php?Id=2655&yr=2006
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service has patented a new chlorate-based compound that when added in small amounts to cattle feed two days before slaughter significantly reduces levels of Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 in the animals' digestive tract.
In some tests, levels fell from 100,000 E. coli cells per gram of fecal material to 100. The agency obtained similar results with Salmonella in swine, sheep and poultry.
The compound is added to feed at levels ranging from 0.5 percent to 5 percent of an animal's diet two days before slaughter.
The compound will be submitted to regulatory agencies soon for approval as a feed additive.

Expert suspects mutation at root of norovirus outbreak in Japan
19.dec.06
Kyodo News International
Shigeo Matsuno, a senior researcher at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, was cited as saying Wednesday that the record-breaking outbreaks of gastroenteritis caused by norovirus infection across Japan may stem from a mutation of the virus, adding, "The cause...is not eating raw oysters...It must be human-to-human infection in most cases. It is natural to think that the infection spread so rapidly because many people have no immunity to the virus."
The story says that oysters and other bivalves often cause norovirus infection because they concentrate the virus after taking it in along with plankton in the water.
Apart from bivalve consumption, infection occurs orally when viruses in substances excreted or vomited are somehow transmitted, and in places where people are in close contiguity, such as nursing homes and schools.
Oral infection with only a small number of norovirus organisms -- less than 100 --is known to cause gastroenteritis that brings stomach pain, severe diarrhea and vomiting.
Some 3,000 medical institutions across Japan reported they treated 65,638 infected patients between Nov. 27 and Dec. 3, a record-high average of 21.8 per institution, compared with 19.8 logged in the preceding week, also a record since the survey began in 1981.

Researchers study electrolyzed water as pathogen killer
By staff reporter
Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/
19/12/2006 - Electrolyzed water can be used to destroy pathogens like E. coli in foods such as vegetables, according to new research into the process.
Electrolyzed water has been promoted in the past as a way of reducing the amount of chemicals needed for cleaning in plants. It may also provide an option to vegetable producers and processors, who were hit this year by the public reaction to an E. coli outbreak due to contaminated spinach in the US.
Joellen Feirtag, a University of Minnesota food scientist, has been experimenting with electrolyzed water since April. He is using a water-based electrochemical activation system that disinfects, cleans food and wipes out E. coli, he said in a press release issued by the university.
"This system could be used from the farm to the retail market?for irrigation in fields, washing in processing plants and misting in grocery stores," he said. "The results we're seeing are phenomenal. It's killing all bacteria and viruses. It even kills avian flu and anthrax spores."
Electrolyzed water systems are not new. However a system originally developed by a team of Russian scientists is unique because it produces a pH-neutral solution that will not cause deterioration or off-flavors when sprayed on food, Feirtag stated. The system is also environmentally friendly as its only outputs are water and salt.
Feirtag sees great potential for the system and is working to get it into the food industry. A few Minnesota companies are already using the system as a test. The solution can be sprayed directly onto foods such as vegetables, destroying bacteria like E. coli.
Earlier this year FoodProductionDaily.com reported on EAU Technologies, a US company has made inroads in bringing its electrolysed water technology to market as a replacement for chemical cleaners.
EAU has said its electrolyzed oxidative water technology can replace many of the traditional methods in the processing sector now used to clean, disinfect, hydrate and moisturise foods. The non-toxic water cuts down on existing bacteria, virus and mold proliferation. Special generators create acidic and alkaline fluids with the cleaning and sanitising properties.
The water eliminates pathogens in processing plants by treating not only surface contamination but also the plant and animal foods directly.

EAU has been testing the water production technology companies such as Tyson Foods, Whole Foods Market and Super Saver and Water Sciences.

EAU is petitioning the Food and Drug Administration for approval to use its disinfecting products along the entire food chain process for fruits and vegetables.

Professors to develop hand-held pathogen testing device
Source of Article: http://www.physorg.com/news85673661.html
Testing for deadly food, air and water pathogens may get a lot easier and cheaper thanks to the work of a Michigan State University researcher and his team.
Syed Hashsham, an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Center for Microbial Ecology, is developing a portable, hand-held device capable of detecting up to 50 microbial threat agents in air, water and food.
"This device will give us the ability to measure pathogens in a manner and at a price that really matters for human health," Hashsham said. "If we can screen for all pathogens together, we can minimize the threat significantly."
Hashsham intends for the portable, hand-held device to be an all-in-one pathogen testing center where DNA amplification and pathogen identification will happen on the same DNA biochip. A DNA biochip has signature pieces of DNA attached to a silica surface, similar to a computer chip, and is about the size of a thumbnail.
Today, testing air, water or food for pathogens like cholera and dysentery must be done one pathogen at a time. Testing for each pathogen on an individual basis is dangerous, more expensive and time consuming. Simultaneous testing simplifies the process, making it safer and more cost effective.
Earlier this year, Hashsham was awarded $966,608 from the 21st Century Jobs Fund to develop and commercialize the device.
Hashsham, James Tiedje, University Distinguished Professor of crop and soil sciences and director of the Center for Microbial Ecology, and Erdogan Gulari, professor at the University of Michigan's Department of Chemical Engineering, formed a cross-disciplinary team to develop this technology.
The procedure begins with sample processing that extracts DNA from all microorganisms present in the sample. The DNA can then be introduced into the device where it will undergo polymerase chain reaction for the selected harmful pathogens. Polymerase chain reaction is a process that takes a small amount of DNA and makes billions of copies so the pathogens can be easily detected, Hashsham explained.
Most of the genetic material in any bacteria isn't harmful. For instance, the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, responsible for the waterborne illness cholera, has many housekeeping genes that maintain the organism, but are not dangerous to humans by themselves. But the gene producing the cholera toxin is harmful. These genes serve as good markers for detection. Hashsham's device will be designed to look for such marker genes.
"This technology is rugged and highly parallel; it can analyze lots of marker genes in a lot of samples, together with significantly lower false positives," Hashsham said.
He said the hand-held testing device could be used anywhere that cost-effective testing of food, water or air is needed for a number of pathogens.
"Because of the lower cost, there also will be applications in countries where fewer resources are available for drinking water safety," Hashsham said.
Looking toward the future, Hashsham has been in touch with several organizations that might be interested in the device. AquaBioChip LLC, a Lansing-based company formed by the same team through a previous grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., will test the device under field conditions.
He has a team of six graduate students and technicians working on this device. "They are the heart of the project as well as the scientists being trained for the future," Hashsham said. That number of employees is likely to increase when the device gets to the commercialization stage.
Source: Michigan State University

The truth about milk
20.dec.06
The Record (Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo, Ontario)
Vivienne Evans of Kitchener writes to say bravo -- finally an article that points out the relative dangers of drinking raw (unpasteurized) milk (The Facts Are In: Raw Milk Is Dangerous, Dec. 1.
Evans says that in 1952 and 1953, I was attending school in Britain, where lunch was provided which included drinks of unpasteurized milk.
Within a year I was diagnosed with bovine tuberculosis of the neck, and for the next three years I had to undergo various procedures, including a major operation to remove swollen glands. It was not a pleasant way for a youngster to spend time.
We know so much more about food safety than we did 50 years ago, so why are we still allowing people to play Russian roulette with their health?

Jennifer Ghent-Fuller of Waterloo writes that organic pasteurized milk could be a substitute for those who want to avoid the hormones and antibiotics that may be given to dairy cattle.
Although John Stuart Mill, as quoted, said that those who are harming only themselves should not be interfered with, he was writing in a time before universal health care.
While people who become ill from intentionally drinking raw milk may not be harming us, they are certainly costing money to taxpayers who are funding the cash-strapped health care system.

Eldon Yundt of Walkerton writes that the Dec. 14 editorial, Unfit For Human Consumption, condemning the sale of raw milk was not the usual balanced, unbiased commentary.
The writer compares raw milk with drinking poison. What a statement.
There's no question people have become sick from consuming raw milk, as they also have from hamburger, spinach, liquor and tobacco. I do not hear a demand that the sale of these products be banned, banished or outlawed. Instead the government regulates them to make them as safe as possible.
I suspect the real reason behind this blanket demand to ban raw milk has more to do with filthy lucre tha n filthy milk. Raw milk comes from a $2,000 cow. Pasteurized milk comes from a $2,000 cow with a $25,000 quota.
It became mandatory to pasteurize milk in 1938, but comparing production methods then with those of today is not realistic. We have stainless steel tanks, refrigeration and plastic piping. Michael Schmidt's cows were regularly tested and found healthy. That is more than is required of restaurants in Ontario.
I really believe that your editorial writer, knowingly or unknowingly, has taken up the cudgel of the established dairy industry who wish to curtail any competition.
It is also illegal to sell pasteurized milk outside the quota. A farmer with more pasteurized milk than his quota cannot sell it. He cannot give it away. He must dump it.
These laws make as much sense as your editorial, which was not up to your usual standard of impartiality and insight.