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12/28
2006
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FDA OKs Food From Cloned Animals
By LIBBY QUAID
AP Food and Farm Writer
Published December 28, 2006, 11:16 AM CST
WASHINGTON -- The government declared Thursday that food from cloned animals is safe to eat. After more than five years of study, the Food and Drug Administration concluded that cloned livestock is "virtually indistinguishable" from conventional livestock. FDA believes "that meat and milk from cattle, swine and goat clones is as safe to eat as the food we eat every day," said Stephen F. Sundlof, director of the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine. Officials said they don't think special labels are needed, although a decision on labeling is pending. Because scientists concluded there is no difference between food from clones and food from other animals, "it would be unlikely that FDA would require labeling in those cases," Sundlof said.
Final approval is still months away; the agency will accept comments from the public for the next three months.
Critics of cloning say the verdict is still out on the safety of food from cloned animals.
"Consumers are going to be having a product that has potential safety issues and has a whole load of ethical issues tied to it, without any labeling," said Joseph Mendelson, legal director of the Center for Food Safety.

Carol Tucker Foreman, director of food policy at the Consumer Federation of America, said the FDA is ignoring research that shows cloning results in more deaths and deformed animals than other reproductive technologies.
The consumer federation will ask food companies and supermarkets to refuse to sell food from clones, she said.
"Meat and milk from cloned animals have no benefit for consumers, and consumers don't want them in their foods," Foreman said.
However, FDA scientists said that by the time clones reached 6 to 18 months of age, they are virtually indistinguishable from conventionally bred animals.
Labels should only be used if the health characteristics of a food are significantly altered by how it is produced, said Barb Glenn of the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
"The bottom line is, we don't want to misinform consumers with some sort of implied message of difference," Glenn said. "There is no difference. These foods are as safe as foods from animals that are raised conventionally."
Those in favor of the technology say it would be used primarily for breeding and not for steak or pork tenderloin.
Cloning lets farmers and ranchers make copies of exceptional animals, such as pigs that fatten rapidly or cows that are superior milk producers.
"It's not a genetically engineered animal; no genes have been changed or moved or deleted," Glenn said. "It's simply a genetic twin that we can then use for future matings to improve the overall health and well-being of the herd."
Thus, consumers would mostly get food from their offspring and not the clones themselves, Glenn said.
Still, some clones would eventually end up in the food supply. As with conventional livestock, a cloned bull or cow that outlived its usefulness would probably wind up at a hamburger plant, and a cloned dairy cow would be milked during her breeding years.
That's unlikely to happen soon, because FDA officials have asked farmers and cloning companies since 2001 to voluntarily keep clones and their offspring out of the food supply. The informal ban would remain in place for several months while FDA accepts comments from the public.
Approval of cloned livestock has taken five years because of pressure from big food companies nervous that consumers might reject milk and meat from cloned animals.
To produce a clone, the nucleus of a donor egg is removed and replaced with the DNA of a cow, pig or other animal. A tiny electric shock coaxes the egg to grow into a copy of the original animal. Cloning companies say it's just another reproductive technology, such as artificial insemination, yet there can be differences between the two because of chance and environmental influences.
Some surveys have shown people to be uncomfortable with food from cloned animals; 64 percent said they were uncomfortable with such food in a September poll by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, a nonpartisan research group.

FDA: Milk and meat from cloned animals safe
Milk and meat from cloned animals is safe for Americans to eat and, for now, is unlikely to need special labeling, the Food and Drug Administration announced this morning.
But the agency has told producers that no products from cloned goats, pigs or cattle will immediately rush to market, as it maintains a moratorium on their sale until April, as the FDA sifts through comments about its decision.
The long-delayed declaration follows heavy lobbying by the agricultural industry, which is fearful of international buyers boycotting all American livestock, not just the cloned pigs and cattle. A recent poll suggests Americans share those qualms, a group of powerful Senators pointed out to the agency in a letter sent earlier this month.
Lifting the FDA's voluntary moratorium could result in a 15 percent drop in purchases of US dairy products, Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, wrote the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt.
"This could lead to catastrophic income loss for US dairy farmers and cause devastating ripple effects throughout our nation's schools and communities," the Senators wrote on Dec. 11. "Clearly, consumers are not clamoring for this new food technology."
What remains unclear is whether answers given to pollsters translates to reduced milk consumption.
"The word 'cloning' itself is a real pejorative," Chris Galen, a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation, which represents producers responsible for two-thirds of the nation's supply, said today. "It conjures up a lot of unsettling images. The word itself becomes a lightning rod."
Since October 2003, the FDA has considered eating cloned animals safe, citing a report commissioned by the National Academy of Sciences. Federal researchers tracked 400 animals - more than half clones - and found their meat and health was virtually identical to traditional cattle raised the same way. The finding, to be published in the Jan. 1 issue of the journal Theriogenology, adding that cloned meat and milk are so similar to conventional foods that they shouldn't be labeled differently.
That doesn't reassure Greg Wiles, 40, a Maryland producer with nearly two dozen cloned milking cows. As Wiles has waited for the FDA to decide the issue, he's tossed thousands of gallons of butterfat-rich milk down the drain.
If the FDA gives its blessing, the cash-strapped farmer intends to sell the milk - though he worries about milk from one underweight clone whose attempts to give birth ended in the death of both calves.
(By Diedtre Henderson, Globe staff)
Posted by Boston Globe Business Team at 10:23 AM

FDA Releases Draft Risk Assessment and Management Plan for Cloned Animals

Statement of CSPI Biotechnology Director Gregory Jaffe
The FDA¡¯s draft risk assessment and management plan addressing the food safety issues surrounding cloned animals is better late than never. The agency has been delinquent in waiting five years to begin this public evaluation of cloned animals, requiring consumers to rely on the food industry and cloning companies to voluntarily refrain from introducing cloning animals into the food supply.

We hope the FDA¡¯s draft will begin a process in which consumers¡¯ number-one concern about cloned animals, their safety as food, will be addressed in a transparent regulatory process using all available scientific evidence. There are many other controversial issues surrounding animal cloning, including ethical and animal welfare concerns. While those aren¡¯t food safety issues, there should be a governmental forum to explore them and adopt appropriate policies. Congressional hearings might start a robust societal dialogue on those issues.

Americans want to know that the food on their plates is safe to eat. If FDA ultimately determines that cloned animals are safe to eat and if those cloned animals provide societal benefits, consumers may feel more comfortable about eating those foods. To date, the cloning industry has not provided the public with any information about why cloned animals are needed in food production, who benefits from their use, and how they might benefit the consumer at all.

Marler Clark, New York E. coli Victim, Sue Taco Bell
SYRACUSE, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Another E. coli lawsuit was filed against Taco Bell today by Marler Clark (www.marlerclark.com) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Michael Notar, a Clinton, New York, resident who became ill with an E. coli infection and was hospitalized for four days after eating E. coli-contaminated food at Taco Bell. The filing coincides with Taco Bell¡¯s announcement that Taco Bell President Greg Creed and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell will tour the Taco Bell restaurant located at Franklin Mills Circle in Philadelphia at 1:00 p.m. today.

¡°While Taco Bell is parading around with politicians, the victims of this outbreak continue to incur costs related to their illnesses,¡± said William Marler, attorney for Mr. Notar and managing partner of Marler Clark. ¡°The least a multi-million dollar corporation like Taco Bell can do is make a good will gesture and pay my clients¡¯ medical expenses.¡±

According to the complaint, Mr. Notar ate food from Taco Bell locations in Yorkville and Utica, New York, before becoming ill with symptoms of E. coli infection on December 5. His symptoms worsened, and he was hospitalized at St. Luke¡¯s Hospital in New Hartford, New York, on December 6. Mr. Notar was released from the hospital four days later, but continues to suffer gastrointestinal discomfort as a result of his illness, and has scheduled several medical procedures in January to further treat the injuries he sustained while he was ill with E. coli.

¡°Corporate responsibility means stepping up to the plate and saying you¡¯re sorry when you¡¯ve done something wrong ? like poison your customers ? and then putting forth an effort to make things right,¡± Marler concluded.

Marler Clark has associated Underberg & Kessler, a respected Rochester law firm, on the case. The two firms have worked together in other New York litigation, including E. coli and Salmonella cases. Most recently, they were appointed by the New York Court of Claims to represent over 700 victims of cryptosporidiosis at the Seneca Lake State Park Spraypark during the summer of 2005. The case was recently designated a class action.

¡°We are happy to be working with Marler Clark, who have unparalleled experience with food contamination cases,¡± said Paul Nunes of Underberg & Kessler. ¡°I know no one who has more depth of experience on the topic than Bill Marler and Bruce Clark.¡±

BACKGROUND: Marler Clark has represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness outbreaks since Bill Marler represented victims of the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak. The firm has litigated high profile E. coli cases against McDonald¡¯s, Wendy¡¯s, ConAgra, and other food companies. Please contact Suzanne Schreck at 206-346-1879 or sschreck@marlerclark.com for additional information or for a copy of the complaint.

Korea threatens total ban on U.S. beef
source from meatnews.com
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SOUTH KOREA/UNITED STATES: South Korean lawmakers are reportedly threatening to ban all U.S. beef imports.
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A South Korean parliamentary committee is threatening to completely ban imports of U.S. beef if Washington continues to demand Seoul ease its quarantine inspection regulations, according to an Asia Pulse news report. South Korean officials have rejected all three U.S. beef shipments sent since Korea agreed to end a three year ban on U.S. beef imports.
A statement signed by lawmakers of the National Assembly's committee of agriculture, maritime and fisheries says, "Our measure to return U.S. beef is a justifiable step in line with the bilaterally signed quarantine conditions and there will be no change (in the conditions)."
The statement goes on to say, "In particular, the government won't ease quarantine rules for U.S. beef to irrationally push forward talks on a proposed free trade agreement between South Korea and the U.S."

FSIS END-OF-YEAR DECISIONS
UNITED STATES: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued several rules and withdrawn others.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture¡¯s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued directions for inspection program personnel regarding verifying that an establishment identifies, segregates and properly holds adulterated product that has been returned to the establishment or has been received by the establishment for further processing.
The agency also issued a directive addressing instances that require activation of the Emergency Management Committee to oversee situations involving product that has been intentionally adulterated with threat agents, such as biological, chemical or radiological materials.
Instructions for inspection program personnel from the Office of Field Operations (OFO) on how to respond when an official establishment operates outside its approved hours of operation without inspection were released by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
FSIS, meanwhile, has withdrawn its proposed rule establishing performance criteria for on-line antimicrobial reprocessing of pre-chill poultry carcasses, according to the agency¡¯s recently released semiannual regulatory agenda.
FSIS has also withdrawn its proposal to establish performance standards for chilling ready-to-cook poultry. FSIS said it has taken this action because it plans to address both of these issues in future rulemakings.
FSIS gave no time frame on future rulemakings.

Application Of Micro And Nanotechnologies For The Rapid Detection of foodborne pathogens.
The III Hispano-French Conference on micro and nanotechnologies was held recently in Donostia-San Sebastian, one of the participants being AZTI- Tecnalia which presented part of its research carried out within the framework of the European GOODFOOD - Food Safety and Quality Monitoring with Microsystems programme
Being involved as it is in the field of micro and nanotechnologies, AZTI-Tecnalia is currently taking part in the validation of microsystems for their application in foodstuffs, collaborating in the development of improvements in the "BIO" detection system. Thus, microsystems for their use in the rapid detection of pesticides and pathogens, amongst others.
As regards pesticides, an assessment of a microsystem for determining atrazine and 2,4,6- trichlorophenol in wine samples was presented. Likewise, and with reference to the detection of pathogens, the work undertaken with a prototype for a portable sensor capable of simultaneously detecting Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes in fish and dairy products was presented - a system which considerably reduces the detection time for these infections.
Research work carried out on a microsystem for the quality control of foodstuffs and food safety, particularly fish, was presented. The fish sector above all requires sensitive methods that are able to report on the state of conservation of their products. Thus, part of the research work focused on the determination of volatile substance produced by fish products during their storage and on defining molecular markers capable of indicating the useful or end-life of the same.
Finally, AZTI-Tecnalia informed about the applications and risks of micro- and nanotechnologies in the food sector. It is predicted that these technologies, still emerging ones in the sector, will provide innumerable advantages in the quality control of foodstuffs and food safety (design and development of intelligent packaging, new intelligent systems of traceability, development of nanoparticles with bactericidal action, new functional foodstuffs, etc). Nevertheless, there is considerable social awareness and concern regarding the use of nanomaterials in foods, due to the scant information provided on their possible effects on human health. This is why the scientific community is focusing their research work on the effects and toxicity of these nanomaterials, publishing new works and creating databases. In consequence, AZTI-Tecnalia is currently working on the development of a rapid toxicological test based on the zebra fish animal model, in order to find out the effects, in the short and the long term, of nanomaterials and nanoparticles that have applications in foodstuffs.

E. coli Cattle Vaccine Authorized for Field Use in Canada
BELLEVILLE, Ontario, Dec. 22 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. (TSX: BNC), a research-based, technology-driven Canadian biopharmaceutical company, today received authorization from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to distribute its E. coli O157:H7 cattle vaccine to Canadian veterinarians under a Permit to Release Veterinary Biologics as specified in the Canadian Health of Animal Regulations. This authorization equates to what is referred to as a ¡°conditional license¡° in the U.S. This is the first vaccine technology for control of E. coli O157:H7 to be authorized for field use by a regulator globally. The vaccine is indicated for the reduction of shedding of E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in cattle.
¡°The Bioniche E. coli O157:H7 vaccine, developed through a partnership with the University of British Columbia, the Vaccine and Infectious Diseases Organization (VIDO) at the University of Saskatchewan and the Alberta Research Council, is a world¡¯s first,¡° said Graeme McRae, President & CEO of Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. ¡°Bioniche believes that this vaccine will be an important factor in helping to reduce the prevalence of this toxic bacterium, first implicated in meat contamination and now being increasingly identified as a contaminant of produce. CFIA¡¯s approval gives the Company a clear and manageable pathway to full licensure.¡°

In order to progress from a Permit to Release Veterinary Biologics to a full license, the CFIA indicated that Bioniche must provide additional data confirming reduction in E. coli O157:H7 shedding by vaccinated animals. The Company believes that this requirement will be met in 2007.
¡°This vaccine will ensure that Canadian cattle producers continue to provide a safe product for Canadian consumers,¡° said Dr. Lorne Babiuk, Director of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) and Canada Research Chair in Vaccinology and Biotechnology in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. ¡°More importantly, the reduction of E. coli shedding into the environment will have far-reaching consequences regarding environmental contamination. The recent outbreaks of E. coli infection from consumption of vegetables is an example of additional benefits of such a vaccine. The key discovery to making this vaccine a reality was made by Dr. Brett Finlay at the University of British Columbia, when he deciphered the mechanisms by which E. coli attaches to and infects animals. Using this knowledge, it was possible to target the specific proteins of the bacterium for use in the vaccine.¡°
Recent outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 affecting spinach and other produce in North America have highlighted the fact that this is an increasingly serious human health threat that goes beyond meat (the first major foodborne outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 occurred in 1982 and was associated with ground beef). Human exposure to E. coli O157:H7 is being increasingly associated with contaminated fruit, vegetables, unpasteurized milk and fruit juice, potable and recreational water, and from direct contact with animals at fairs and petting zoos.
Clinical trials have been conducted with the Company¡¯s vaccine over the past four years involving more than 30,000 cattle. Studies have consistently shown a significant decrease in the number of cattle shedding these deadly bacteria in their manure. In a controlled experiment conducted at VIDO, vaccinated cattle were challenged with a very large dose of bacteria, and there was a reduction in the magnitude of shedding by 99.47%. In clinical trials conducted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in commercial feedlot settings (where vaccinates and non-vaccinates were mixed), there was a 75% lower prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 in cattle vaccinated with two doses of the Bioniche vaccine. Another three-dose vaccination study was performed by the university, which showed that vaccinated cattle were 98.3% less likely to colonize the bacteria in their intestine.

About E. coli O157:H7
Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria are normal organisms found in the intestinal track of all animals and humans. Most E. coli are non-pathogenic (non-disease-causing) to their host, however certain strains can cause intestinal disease and, occasionally, other significant systemic disease. The E. coli O157:H7 bacterium, which was first identified in South America in the late 1970s and drifted northward, produces a powerful toxin (shiga/vero toxin) that can cause severe illness in humans and often result from consumption of contaminated food or water. Today, the bacteria can be found in most cattle herds in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. Ruminant livestock (e.g. cattle) are considered the major reservoir of E. coli O157:H7 worldwide. Numerous studies have demonstrated that the incidence of E. coli O157:H7 in beef and dairy cattle is widespread and that the organism is found in, on, and around cattle in all parts of the world. Use of manure as fertilizer for crop production and run-off from beef and dairy cattle operations are a source of contamination for the general environment, as well as surface and ground water. E. coli O157:H7 contamination of food and water as a result of fecal shedding by livestock is a well-recognized and documented threat to human health.

Consumer Alert: Listeria Contamination in Raw Milk
By FDA
Dec 26, 2006 - 6:51:55 PM
Contact:
Jessica Chittenden
518-457-3136
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- Albany, NY -- December 21, 2006 -- New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick H. Brennan today warned consumers in the Allegany County, New York area not to consume "unpasteurized" raw farm milk from the Gerald E. Snyder farm due to possible Listeria contamination.
The Snyder farm located at RD #1 1444 Randolph Rd., Alfred Station, New York 14803 holds a Department permit to legally sell raw milk at the farm. Samples are taken monthly and tested by the Department to determine if the raw milk is free of pathogenic bacteria.
A routine sample of the milk, taken by an inspector from the Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services on December 11, 2006, was subsequently tested by the Department's Food Laboratory and discovered to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. On December 15, 2006, the producer was notified of a preliminary positive test result and volunteered to suspend raw milk sales until the sample results were confirmed. Test results were confirmed on December 20, 2006 and the producer is prohibited from selling raw milk until subsequent sampling indicates that the product is free of pathogens.
Listeria contaminated product could cause Listeriosis, a disease that usually causes mild flu-like symptoms in healthy individuals; however in immune-compromised individuals, meningitis and blood poisoning can occur. Pregnant women are also considered a high-risk group, as Listeriosis can also result in stillbirths.
It is important to note that raw milk does not provide the protection of pasteurization, which eliminates all pathogenic bacteria, including Listeria. Producers who sell raw milk to consumers must have a permit to do so from the Department, must sell directly to consumers on the farm where the milk is produced and must post a notice at the point of sale indicating that raw milk does not provide the protection of pasteurization. Farms with permits to sell raw milk are inspected by the Department monthly.
To date, no illnesses are known by the Department to be associated with product from the Snyder farm.

Spices and herbs may help you avoid disease
POSTED: 8:26 a.m. EST, December 28, 2006
By Amy Paturel
M.S., M.P.H.
CookingLight.com
Imagine going to your doctor with joint pain and leaving with a prescription for ginger.
Before the advent of synthetic drugs, that might have happened. Herbs and spices have a long history as folk medicine, and not without merit.
Today, researchers are working to quantify their health benefits.
"We don't have enough evidence to say herbs and spices are 100-percent disease-preventing, but several have positive outlooks," says Milton Stokes, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.


Oregano: The strongest health benefit for oregano, shown at left, is that it's been linked to food preservation. In 2003, researchers found that applying a concentrated oregano extract to prepared meats may destroy Listeria bacteria. "The same chemical constituents that give herbs and spices their pungency are also powerful bacterial inhibitors," says Catherine Donnelly, Ph.D., professor of nutrition and food science at the University of Vermont. "Oregano is one of the best bacteria killers." Its phenols -- a type of antioxidant -- destroy the cell membranes of bacteria.


Cinnamon: "Cinnamon affects cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose transport -- all reported in clinical trials," says Don Graves, Ph.D., a professor of biochemistry at the University of California in Santa Barbara. In a 2003 study, researchers supplemented the diets of 60 diabetic men and women with one, three, or six grams (just more than one teaspoon) of cinnamon daily. After 40 days, subjects' levels of ldl cholesterol fell by as much as 26 percent. "There was no difference in the effects at one gram or six," Graves says.


Ginger: In 2001, a headline-making study found highly concentrated forms of ginger helped reduce osteoarthritis-related knee pain. "Ginger improved pain to a degree almost the same as anti-inflammatory medications," says researcher Roy Altman, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. There is a catch, though: "If you wanted to use ginger for this effect, you'd have to take a bushel and boil it down," Altman says. Ginger's most consistently proven benefit is its ability to relieve nausea.


Turmeric: Because rates of Alzheimer's disease are lower in India, where the population eats a diet containing more turmeric than Western diets, scientists have suggested the spice may be linked to preserving mental function. "The compounds in turmeric have demonstrated antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cholesterol-lowering properties -- all thought to be involved in the onset of Alzheimer's disease," says Sally Frautschy, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and neurology at UCLA.

"Although much of the research on herbs and spices is preliminary, there's no downside to adding them to your diet," says Dave Grotto, R.D., spokesperson for the ADA. He recommends focusing on one of the strongest benefits: Herbs and spices help boost the flavors of food without added fat. "If herbs and spices help make healthy food more palatable, that's a win," Grotto says.

Officials: Don't eat cheese made with unpasteurized milk
BY DANA COLE/HERALD/REVIEW
Cochise County health officials are warning residents about risks associated with eating cheese made from milk that has not been pasteurized.
Queso fresco and other Mexican-style soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk can contain listeria bacteria, the source of a dangerous and sometimes fatal food borne infection called listeriosis. The county Health Department is launching an informational campaign to educate people about the dangers of listeriosis, along with steps that address prevention.
While anyone who eats cheese made from unpasteurized milk can be affected by listeriosis, health officials are particularly concerned about high-risk groups, including pregnant women, newborns, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, pregnant women are 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to contract listeriosis.
Infected pregnant women will sometimes experience mild, flu-like illnesses only, but when listeriosis occurs during a pregnancy, it can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth, premature delivery, or infection in the newborn. About a third of all listeriosis cases happen during pregnancy, and it's the newborns who suffer the most serious effects from the disease.
The Hispanic community is at a higher risk for contracting listeriosis, as Mexican-style soft cheeses are traditional staples, especially during the holidays and celebrations when families gather.
Raw milk is often used for traditional taste reasons. The cheeses, which include queso freso, panela, asadero and queso blanco, are brought across the border from relatives or vendors selling the products door-to-door.
The county health department is reporting serious listeriosis outbreaks in California, Washington and North Carolina where 12 cases of infected individuals - all Hispanic - were linked to eating contaminated, homemade queso fresco. In the most recent outbreak, 11 were non-English speaking women and 10 were pregnant.
The infection resulted in five stillbirths, three premature deliveries and two infected newborns.
Listeria is commonly found in soil, water, decaying vegetation and the intestinal tract of animals.
Without adequate pasteurization, the bacteria can survive and multiply in contaminated foods. While pasteurization destroys the presence of listeria in milk, the bacteria is neither destroyed when cheese is heated nor when it is refrigerated. In fact, listeria can form in a refrigerated environment.
In this country, an estimated 2,500 persons become ill with listeriosis every year, and of those, 500 people die. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches and sometimes nausea or diarrhea. If the infection spreads, it could lead to headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance or convulsions. The incubation period ranges from three to 70 days.
The best way to prevent contracting listeriosis is to use cheeses made with pasteurized milk.
Sold in reputable markets, these cheeses are clearly labeled "made with pasteurized milk."
Since the bacterium has been found in foods that become contaminated after processing, health officials caution pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems against eating the following:
- Hot dogs and luncheon meats, unless they have been heated and are steaming hot.
- Refrigerated pat/s or meat spreads, with the exception of canned or shelf-stable pat/s and meat spreads.
- Refrigerated, smoked seafood, unless it is in a cooked dish.
County health officials urge consumers to follow four simple steps to minimize the likelihood of getting listeriosis.
- Clean. Before, during and after food preparation, wash hands and kitchen surfaces often with hot water and soap. Listeria can grow at refrigerator temperatures, so clean refrigerators regularly and wipe up spills immediately. Use hot water and a mild liquid dishwashing detergent, then rinse thoroughly and dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.
- Separate. Keep raw meats separate from other foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
- Cook. Thoroughly cook food to a safe internal temperature before eating. Always cook meat, poultry and seafood thoroughly.
- Chill. Your refrigerator should register at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Place a thermometer in the refrigerator and check the temperature periodically. Store perishable foods that are pre-cooked or ready-to-eat in the refrigerator and eat them as soon as possible.
The value of word of mouth and community awareness cannot be underestimated, especially in rural areas where access to media and medical professionals may be limited.
It is essential to encourage self-policing and enforce the importance that cheese and dairy products sold by stores - regardless of size - be pasteurized and from recognized brands.
Vendors and local suppliers must understand the danger of selling soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk because the queso fresco they are providing to their community may be endangering the life of an unborn child.
Information about listeriosis is available at different county locations frequented by mothers-to-be and the Hispanic community.
Informational brochures can be obtained through the Cochise County Health Department Environmental Health Division by contacting 432-9440.
For more information in Spanish or English, go online to www.cfsan.fda.gov.

Key firm changes safety practices
Tanimura & Antle launches new rules for growers
By DAWN WITHERS
The Salinas Californian
A leading produce company has taken the lead in changing its food safety practices following the E. coli bacteria scares that rattled the Central Coast produce industry this fall.
While many Salinas-area growers and shippers work toward new industry-wide guidelines or hurry to complete their own, Tanimura & Antle Inc. has already launched the new rules its growers will be expected to follow.
The Spreckels-based company moved quickly because existing rules for preventing food contamination may not be adequate, Bob Mills, Tanimura & Antle's director of food safety, said Wednesday.
On Dec. 21, the company introduced stricter food safety
standards for the growers who provide its produce, Mills said in an e-mail.
That makes it the first company to announce the completion of new food safety guidelines after a late summer national E. coli outbreak related to fresh spinach.
Tanimura & Antle is the largest family owned and operated produce company in the Salinas Valley, according to its Web site.
"Our main objective at this time is to produce safe and healthy vegetables for the public," he said.
One of Tanimura & Antle's growers, Baillie Family Farms/Tri-Counties Packing in Salinas, called the new guidelines "livable" and said they require much more water and soil testing.
"Those things we are already doing for the most part," said the company's president, John Baillie. Tanimura & Antle's new rules, Baillie said, are very similar to those proposed by produce industry trade groups in response to the spinach outbreak. They include tightening protections for crops in areas at risk for flooding, increasing water quality testing and managing use of compost.
Other local growers and shippers said they are working either to enhance their own food safety programs or develop the new industry-wide guidelines, due out next month.
Agency, industry teamwork
"(Providing) food safety has never been an option, period," said Bruce Knobeloch, vice president of marketing for River Ranch. The company is the country's leading supplier of value-added produce, according to the River Ranch Web site, and includes the top-selling U.S. spinach brand, Popeye.
Knobeloch said River Ranch is consulting with major produce trade groups to provide comments and help complete the new industry-wide food safety guidelines. River Ranch will adopt the new program once it becomes public, he said, because it will represent the best and safest methods in the industry.
"We're going to be fully compliant," Knobeloch said. "I think everyone and every company has done significant review of their quality-assurance programs and upgraded them as necessary."
The late summer outbreak of E. coli bacteria that killed three people and sickened more than 200 others sparked the food safety efforts after it was linked to spinach grown in either Monterey or San Benito counties.
A final report has not been issued, and the outbreak's full impact on the industry is still unknown. However, investigators have said from the start that new, enforceable guidelines are needed.
State and federal health agencies spent the fall designing stricter food safety rules with industry trade groups such as the United Fresh Produce Association, Produce Marketing Association and Western Growers. The new rules will require more water and soil testing as well as extensive food safety records to verify produce sold to consumers meets the new standards.
A second draft of the guidelines circulated Dec. 22 and another will be released before Jan. 12, said Jim Bogart, president of the Salinas-based Grower-Shipper Association of Central California.
Current systems failed
Western Growers has taken the lead on a separate set of guidelines for California growers. The trade group, which represents the California and Arizona produce industries, is writing a marketing order of food safety guidelines with the California Department of Food and Agriculture to create new rules for produce inspections by the state. Companies that comply with those standards will receive a safety seal of approval on its produce.
Western Growers' spokesman Tim Chelling was unavailable for comment Wednesday but has said the organization wants the new guidelines out in January.
The completed marketing order is expected by spring, and a public meeting will be held for a smaller voluntary marketing agreement with the state Jan. 12 in Monterey.
Andrew Cumming, president of Metz Fresh in King City, a spinach grower, said the stricter rules adopted by Tanimura and Antle and the trade groups are proposing are exactly what he expects his company will have to do to comply with new industry guidelines.
Although following those rules will increase the costs for consumers, Cumming said, the produce industry needs to change its existing, voluntary systems, because they failed to prevent outbreaks.
"It's a reaction to that circumstance," he said, referring to the new guidelines under development.
Contact Dawn Withers at withers@thecalifornian.com.