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1/03
2007
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Cloned Cow Owner Shunned by Milk Group
(Associated Press)
By David Dishneau
HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) -- A western Maryland dairy farmer whose herd includes two cloned cows said Tuesday his milk processor recently stopped accepting shipments from him after he talked to national news media about the animals, even though he voluntarily dumps milk from the clones and their 14 offspring. Farmer Gregory C. Wiles said the other cows in his herd of 110 have produced nearly 3,000 gallons of a milk since Thursday -- milk he says will be wasted unless the dispute is resolved quickly.
The processor, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association of Reston, Va., said it suspended Wiles Dec. 28 because of health violations on his Williamsport farm unrelated to clones. The violations stem from milk output that is too low to allow inspectors to take required samples from Wiles' oversized bulk storage tank, co-op officials said.
"This has nothing to do with his ownership of cloned cows," co-op spokeswoman Amber DuMont said. "Greg's field representative and our member-services team have advised him we'd be happy to reinstate his membership if he increases his production such that we are able to take that sample in accordance with Grade A regulations."
Wiles is in dire financial straits and facing eviction from the farm he manages for his father, Charles. He contends the milk cooperative shunned him because of public wariness about clones despite the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's declaration last week that products from cloned livestock are safe to eat.
The food industry has voluntarily barred distribution of food from clones for several years, and it continues to do so while the government gathers public comment on a proposal to allow sales of such products without special labeling.
"The milk cooperatives are scared right now," Wiles said.
Neither the National Milk Producers Federation, which represents dairy farmers, nor the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, which represents beef producers, has heard of other farmers with cloned livestock being suspended by marketing co-ops or buyers, spokesmen for the trade groups said.
Furthermore, "as far as we know, nobody is not honoring the voluntary moratorium about not shipping or not marketing cloned animal products," said Chris Galen, spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation.
There are about 150 cloned dairy cattle on U.S. farms and universities, Galen said.
Wiles has other options for selling his milk. Three other milk marketing cooperatives operate in Maryland, and he could remedy the sampling problem by installing a smaller bulk tank, Maryland & Virginia co-op officials said.
But Wiles said that if he quit Maryland & Virginia, he would lose the sizable equity he has built up in the co-op during 21 years in business. And installing a new bulk tank makes little sense when Wiles faces a Jan. 9 eviction notice, he said.
Wiles said that if he can't find a new home for his cloned cows and their offspring, he'll probably sell them for use in the human food chain despite the informal ban. It is a threat he has used before; this past fall, during negotiations about the long-running health violations, Wiles told Maryland & Virginia co-op director Janet Stiles that he would add cloned-cow milk to his bulk tank and invite news media to watch unless the co-op backed off, Stiles said.
She said she told him the co-op would suspend him if he broke the informal ban on cloned livestock products.
"We have bent over backward trying to give him ample time. If anything, we probably went too long," Stiles said. "It's very, very unfortunate, the whole way around." 1-2-07

US seeks views on milk from cloned cows
By Chris Mercer
Source of Article: http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/
1/3/2007 - Plans to allow milk and meat from cloned cows to enter the food chain have moved a step closer in the US after the country¡¯s food safety watchdog issued draft guidance for the industry and opened a formal consultation. Milk and meat from cloned cows, pigs and goats is as safe as that from conventionally bred herds, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed. Sheep are excluded.
It opened a 90-day public consultation on this opinion, backed by several studies, and on how clones and their offspring could be managed and monitored in the food chain.
The consultation presents a dilemma for the US dairy industry, which will have to weigh up negative consumer attitudes against potential benefits greater use of cloning may bring. Dairy industries in Europe and beyond are also watching closely.
Consumer groups have continued to attack FDA proposals.
¡°Cloning will not produce safer or cheaper milk and meat,¡± said the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), accusing the FDA of trying to force such products onto an unwilling public.
Almost two thirds of Americans said they were uncomfortable or strongly uncomfortable with animal cloning, in an independent survey last year.
The CFA also raised concerns over the health of cloned animals and their offspring, amid some evidence that animal cloning carries a higher risk of abnormalities and premature death in offspring. Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, said: "Cloning poses no unique risks to animal health when compared to other assisted reproductive technologies currently in use in U.S. agriculture."
Dairy industries must weigh up whether the potential benefits of cloning, such as breeding super-efficient herds that produce higher milk yields, make it worth tackling widespread public scepticism.
More large studies will be important to assess the effects and feasibility of using cloning technology in the dairy industry, said Xiangzhong Yang, animal cloning expert, told DairyReporter.com.
Yang led one of the main studies used by FDA officials in assessing the safety of food from cloned animals. He found no difference in milk quality, including protein, fat, antibody and lactose content, from cloned cows.
Europe's dairy industry remains cautious.
¡°This is a new development and something that may offer possibilities to improve milk production by cows, but there's no intention as far as I know to have this introduced into the EU in the short or medium term,¡± Joop Kleibeuker, secretary general of the European Dairy Association, told DairyReporter.com recently. ¡°We don't see acceptance of this from EU citizens, and we are producing products for our consumers.¡±

FDA seeks comments on safety of animal cloning
A Risk-Based Approach to Evaluate Animal Clones and Their Progeny - DRAFT

Grand Jury Releases E. coli Report
Testing Of Produce, Land, Water Recommended
January 3, 2007
Source of Article: http://www.theksbwchannel.com/
SALINAS, Calif. -- The Monterey County Grand Jury Tuesday released a report on E. coli and produce on the Central Coast and made some strong recommendations to help protect the public in the future.
The grand jury found that only one waterway in the lower Salinas River watershed does not violate federal E. coli standards.
The report concluded that outbreaks have and will continue to impact all of Monterey County.
"For the board of supervisors to move forward without the industry basically is the blind leading the blind. The industry understands the problem. As far as enforcement, the county understands the problem and the advisory committee will make recommendations," Monterey County Supervisor Lou Calcagno said.
The grand jury is recommending that the county health department tests all susceptible local produce, land and water before and during harvest, and that the county finance that testing.

Caterer being sued over food
BY JOHN STEVENSON : The Herald-Sun
Dec 31, 2006 : 9:32 pm ET
Source of Article: http://www.heraldsun.com/durham/4-804464.cfm
A local caterer is being sued over food that allegedly left a man sick with salmonella poisoning two years ago, and the case has been placed on a Jan. 9 court "clean-up" calendar to see where it is headed.
The lawsuit contends that Thomas Smith of Durham was hospitalized and suffered "great pain of body and mind" after he ate food catered by Carl T. Privette for a June 2004 luncheon at Peace Missionary Baptist Church on Apex Highway.
The food was contaminated by salmonella and was "unwholesome, poisonous and unfit for human consumption," according to the lawsuit.
In addition, Privette was operating without a caterer's license and was "incompetent and unqualified," the suit adds.
At the time, reports indicated that 55 people became ill from eating baked beans at the church luncheon, but Smith apparently is the only one to file a lawsuit. His court paperwork refers generically to food without making any specific mention of beans.
Privette could not be reached for comment Thursday. Official documents indicate he offered to settle the lawsuit for $4,000 in September.
Peace Missionary Baptist Church originally was a defendant in the case but was released three months ago.
Other defendants are Sam's Club No. 6668 and Tom Inscoe Wholesale Meats Inc., both of which allegedly had a role in marketing the food catered by Privette.
In its defense, Sam's contended in court documents that Smith's lawsuit failed to state a valid legal claim. It also said that if Smith sustained injuries, they resulted from pre-existing or unrelated medical, genetic or environmental conditions for which Sam's was not responsible.
Inscoe denied it was the source of any "unwholesome, poisonous or unfit food."
Two years ago this month, Privette received what is known as a deferred prosecution deal on misdemeanor criminal charges of creating a public health hazard by failing to prepare food in a licensed, inspected or commercial kitchen before selling it to the churchgoers.
The deal gave him no formal punishment, and the charges technically should have been erased from his record by now.
As part of the arrangement, Privette agreed to comply with all applicable rules and regulations before doing any more catering.
Such deferred prosecution agreements are not unusual. Prosecutors and judges often give them to nonviolent misdemeanor suspects who lack previous criminal records.

E. coli Food Fight
Posted on January 2, 2007 by E. coli Lawyer
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
Linda Johnson, AP writer for New Jersey wrote over the weekend: ¡°Industry, Government Join E. coli Fight¡±
¡°In light of food poisoning outbreaks involving spinach and lettuce, the government and the produce industry are scrambling to make leafy greens safer before the spring planting season.¡±
In fact, during the last four months of 2006, U.S. consumers have suffered a literal epidemic of bacterial contamination in their produce supply. The numbers are staggering. In September the consumers across the country were struck with the largest E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in history associated with leafy greens. FDA¡¯s official figures reflect 204 confirmed illnesses and 4 deaths. The FDA quickly followed with announcements that not one, but two distinct Salmonella outbreaks had been traced to contaminated tomatoes grown in the Southeast and served in restaurants, sickening nearly 400 - and there had been others. There was still more. In early December, the FDA announced another outbreak of E. coli O157:H7. This time, over 100 people were confirmed ill as the result of contaminated lettuce in products sold at Taco Bell restaurants. Almost immediately thereafter, it happened again. Nearly 100 more restaurant customers were confirmed ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections after consuming lettuce provided at Taco John¡¯s restaurants in Iowa and Minnesota.
¡°New guidelines from the industry are due in April on how to prevent contamination throughout the food chain, from before greens are planted until they reach the dinner table¡¦ Members of Congress are asking federal agencies to report on what went wrong and how to fix the problem. Some lawmakers want to replace the patchwork system of federal food regulation with a single agency in charge of what people eat¡¦ States are active, too. In California, where most of the nation's green leafy vegetables are grown, farmers are poised to approve new labeling by March for farms that follow stricter practices for raising greens.¡±
However, these new outbreaks are in fact not new at all. In particular, there is a long and full history of E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks associated with leafy greens. Prior to September¡¯s spinach outbreak, the fresh produce industry and the FDA were aware of what the regular consumer was not ? prepackaged spinach and lettuce were potentially risky foods with respect to contamination with E. coli. According to a new article in the New England Journal of Medicine written by Dr. Dennis G. Maki, the latest outbreak is ¡°at least the 26th reported outbreak of E. coli infections that has been traced to contaminated leafy green vegetables since 1993.¡± The FDA counts 20 such outbreaks since 1996, and states ¡°a majority of the outbreaks, including the recent outbreak in September of 2006, traced product back to California, eight of which were from the Salinas Valley.¡± Among these was an outbreak associated with Salinas Valley Spinach that killed 2 elderly nursing home residents in 2003.
It is time for Congress to get all the parties in a room and have a full discussion on how to move forward rapidly with a solid food safety program for fresh produce. I would suggest:

- A thorough, scientifically based discussion on how these recent outbreaks actually happened and what can be done to prevent or limit the next one.
- Increased funding for university-based research, health department epidemiological surveillance, and prevention of bacterial and viral contamination.
- Consideration of pre-consumption bacterial and viral testing of raw food products, especially those where no ¡°kill step¡± is expected.
- A discussion of making mandatory good agricultural and food handling practices.
- A review of the proposal to create a single federal agency charged with ensuring the nation¡¯s food safety, whether the food is grown within the United States or in foreign countries.

Acrylamide level in food largely unknown
By LIBBY QUAID, AP Food and Farm Writer
Source of Article: http://news.yahoo.com/
WASHINGTON - Maureen Cohen read a newspaper article about cancer-causing acrylamide in her kids' favorite snacks and wanted to know more.
"I just got curious," said Cohen, a mother of three in Vienna, Va. "If it's known that it's a cancer-causing substance, I sure would like somebody to look into it and find out."
Acrylamide turns up in all kinds of tasty foods, including french fries, potato chips, breakfast cereals, cookies and crackers. But it's difficult for consumers to figure out how much acrylamide is in a particular meal or snack.
Nobody puts acrylamide in food. The chemical is a natural byproduct of cooking starchy food at high temperature.
So while you might find acrylamide in potatoes that are fried or baked at high temperatures, you might not find it in potatoes that are boiled and mashed.
French fries and potato chips already are well up on the list of bad-for-you foods.
Acrylamide also forms in plenty of other starches, like the toasted oats in Cheerios, the flour in hard pretzels or even the sweet potatoes in Gerber Tender Harvest organic baby food.
But compared with other worrisome chemicals in food, such as mercury in fish or benzene in soda, relatively little is known about how acrylamide forms, how it affects people or what to do about it. High levels of acrylamide in food were first reported by Swedish researchers in 2002.
Cohen looked on the Food and Drug Administration Web site to see how much acrylamide was in her potato chips ? reduced-fat Pringles ? but that kind of Pringles wasn't listed. She called the company but was told to provide a letter from her doctor.
Then she mentioned it to her father-in-law, who works for a nutrition and health advocacy group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Already aware of the chemical, CSPI began surveying manufacturers of 30 products. None provided information on how much acrylamide is currently in their products.
Now the group wants the government to publish more data on acrylamide in major brands. The most recent FDA data on brand-name foods is more than two years old.
Consumers, especially parents of young children, need the information so they can pressure companies to reduce the amount of acrylamide in food, the center's executive director said last month in a letter to the FDA.
"It's simply impossible for consumers to try to keep track of how much acrylamide is in different foods and different brands," said CSPI's Michael Jacobsen. "Consumers rely on the government to ensure the safety of these products, and the government simply isn't doing it."
In a statement, the FDA said it is researching whether acrylamide poses a health risk to people. The agency's focus is trying to calculate exposure to the chemical.
"We have already done extensive sampling to make this determination on exposure," FDA spokeswoman Julie Zawisza said. "We don't believe additional sampling will inform our exposure assessment significantly."
Also unknown is exactly how acrylamide affects people ? studies have shown it causes cancer in lab mice and rats. Yet studies that looked at specific cancers in people have not shown there is a link to acrylamide.
Food companies are concerned about acrylamide and are trying hard to find out more about it, said Pat Verdun, chief science officer for the Food Products Association, which represents major food makers.
"It's not like we can wave a magic wand and all of a sudden we know how to get a consistent reduction," Verdun said.
Companies are reluctant to provide information on acrylamide levels because the chemical doesn't form consistently, Verdun said.
Test results differ even for the same brand of food, according to the FDA. The agency found that french fries from seven different McDonald's restaurants all had different levels of acrylamide.
The federal limit for acrylamide in drinking water is .5 parts per billion. That's equal to about .12 micrograms in an eight-ounce glass of water.
By comparison, a one-ounce serving of Cheerios has about seven micrograms of acrylamide, and a six-ounce serving of french fries has about 60 micrograms of acrylamide, according to CSPI.
So what should consumers do about acrylamide? It's hard to imagine people giving up foods like french fries or potato chips, which are made from the most commonly eaten vegetable in the United States.
"A product can have high acrylamide levels but also have wonderful nutritional value," Verdun said. "So you have this risk-benefit issue at play here."
The Center for Science in the Public Interest doesn't want people to stop eating whole grains, either, Jacobsen said. His advice is to eat less of the foods with high acrylamide levels and low nutritional value, such as french fries and potato chips.
Maureen Cohen doesn't want to eliminate foods from her family's diet. She just wants more information such as the warning signs the state of California is trying to make McDonald's and other companies post about acrylamide.
"I would welcome that," Cohen said. "I might think, instead of having a biggie size, I might reduce it down to a small."

100 years later, the food industry is still ¡®The Jungle¡¯
02.jan.07
New York Times
Adam Cohen
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/02/opinion/02tue4.html
Nothing in ¡°The Jungle¡± sticks with the reader quite like what went into the sausages. There was the rotting ham that could no longer be sold as ham. There were the rat droppings, rat poison and whole poisoned rats. Most chilling, there were the unnamed things ¡°in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit.¡±
Upton Sinclair wrote ¡°The Jungle¡± as a labor expose. He hoped that the book, which was billed as ¡°the ¡®Uncle Tom¡¯s Cabin¡¯ of wage slavery,¡± would lead to improvements for the people to whom he dedicated it, ¡°the workingmen of America.¡± But readers of ¡°The Jungle¡± were less appalled by Sinclair¡¯s accounts of horrific working conditions than by what they learned about their food. ¡°I aimed at the public¡¯s heart,¡± he famously declared, ¡°and by accident I hit it in the stomach.¡±
¡°The Jungle,¡± and the campaign that Sinclair waged after its publication, led directly to passage of a landmark federal food safety law, which took effect 100 years ago this week. Sinclair awakened a nation not just to the dangers in the food supply, but to the central role government has to play in keeping it safe. But as the poisonings of spinach eaters and Taco Bell customers recently made clear, the battle is far from over ? and in recent years, we have been moving in the wrong direction.
When ¡°The Jungle¡± was published, the public reaction was instantaneous. Outraged readers deluged President Theodore Roosevelt with letters. Roosevelt was ambivalent, but he invited Sinclair to the White House for lunch, and promised to send his labor commissioner and assistant Treasury secretary to Chicago to investigate.
Sinclair settled into a New York City hotel and started a publicity campaign. He wrote articles with titles like ¡°Campaign Against the Wholesale Poisoners of the Nation¡¯s Food,¡± and released more stomach-churning details.
As a result of Sinclair¡¯s crusade, Congress passed the Food and Drug Act, which had been effectively blocked by industry. At the start of 1907, it became a federal crime to sell adulterated food or drugs, and the new law set up a system of federal inspections. Food had to be labeled, and it was illegal to misstate the contents. Future laws would expand on this newly declared government responsibility to ensure the safety of the nation¡¯s food supply.
In recent years, the momentum has shifted. Since the Reagan era, conservatives have tried to turn ¡°government regulation¡± into an epithet. Books like ¡°The Death of Common Sense,¡± a 1990¡¯s best-seller, have twisted the facts to argue that laws like a New York ordinance requiring restaurants to clean dishes in a way that kills salmonella are somehow an infringement on liberty.
Food safety has been particularly hard-hit by this anti-regulatory climate. Harmful bacteria are rampant in meatpacking plants and in produce fields, but government oversight is eroding. The Bush administration has slashed the number of Food and Drug Administration inspectors, and it has installed a former lobbyist for the cattle industry as the Agriculture Department¡¯s chief of staff.
But this is an unusually promising moment for food safety. Wide media attention was given to last fall¡¯s spinach contamination, which killed three and injured more than 200 in 26 states, and to the Taco Bell food poisonings, which made dozens of people ill. And Democrats have recaptured Congress, which should hold hearings to get to the bottom of those recent food disasters and to explore what the next ones are likely to be. It should push for larger budgets for food inspections and, as one Democratic-sponsored bill calls for, create a single federal agency with responsibility for food safety.
The answer, Sinclair believed, was always the same: providing the American people with the gritty truth that they needed to protect themselves. ¡°The source and fountain-head of genuine reform in this matter,¡± Sinclair insisted, ¡°is an enlightened public opinion.¡±

Scientists Announce Mad Cow Breakthrough
Genetic Engineering Creates Cattle Without Protein That Causes Disease
(Washington Post, DC)
By Rick Weiss
Scientists said yesterday that they have used genetic engineering techniques to produce the first cattle that may be biologically incapable of getting mad cow disease.
The animals, which lack a gene that is crucial to the disease's progression, were not designed for use as food. They were created so that human pharmaceuticals can be made in their blood without the danger that those products might get contaminated with the infectious agent that causes mad cow.
That agent, a protein known as a prion (pronounced PREE-on), can cause a fatal human ailment, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, if it gets into the body.
More generally, scientists said, the animals will facilitate studies of prions, which are among the strangest of all known infectious agents because they do not contain any genetic material. Prions also cause scrapie in sheep and fatal wasting diseases in elk and minks.
In the future, experts said, similar techniques might be used to engineer animals with more nutritious meats -- though the Food and Drug Administration has said it will require engineered food animals to pass tests far more stringent than those it recently deemed adequate for clones.
"This is a seminal research paper," said Barbara Glenn, director for animal biotechnology at the Biotechnology Industry Organization, a Washington industry group that counts among its members Hematech, the Sioux Falls, S.D.-based company that created the gene-altered cattle.
"This shows the application of transgenics to improving livestock production and ultimately food production."
Prions, which are normal protein components of the brain, immune system and other tissues, cause disease only when they "go bad." For these long strands of protein, that means folding themselves into three-dimensional shapes that are slightly different from their conventional conformation.
Prions remain poorly understood, but experiments suggest that it takes just one bad one to ruin a brain. That's because a badly folded prion in the brain can strong-arm normal, nearby prions, turning good prions bad.
So, although prions are not able to replicate themselves the way bacteria and viruses do -- by creating new offspring -- they can amplify their numbers and spread disease as long as there are normal prions around to be recruited.
That recruitment requirement gave Hematech scientists an idea: Why not make prion-free cattle?
First, they cultivated a colony of cattle cells in a laboratory dish. Then they used a genetic engineering method to "knock out" just one gene inside each cell -- the gene that directs the production of prion proteins.
Finally, using cloning techniques, the team grew a dozen calves, each from one of those altered cells. Because the starter cell from which each animal was grown lacked the prion gene, so did all the daughter cells that ultimately constituted the animals' bodies.
Today, as far as scientists can tell, those 12 cattle are wholly lacking in prions.
The fact that they developed properly and remain healthy even as they approach their second birthdays has already answered one of the more contentious questions in prion biology: Can an animal live without its normal prions?
Experiments by various research teams have, over the years, suggested that normal prions might be crucial for such varied processes as blood formation and memory. But by every test the team has been able to administer, these cattle seem fine, said Juergen A. Richt of the Agriculture Department's National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa, who has been studying them.
"Apparently it is not vital," Richt said. "By our analysis -- how do they eat, how is their heart rate, how is their immunological function -- they seem to be normal."
Richt emphasized, however, that the cattle are still young and may show signs of trouble as they age.
Next came the question of whether they are protected against mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. In one experiment, tissues from one of the animals' brains were grown in a culture dish and exposed to two different strains of infectious, mad cow prions. As expected, the bad prions did not propagate, according to a report in yesterday's online issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology.
A more definitive test -- injection of mad cow prions directly into the brains of living prion-free animals --is now underway. Because it can take two years or more for symptoms to appear (and even longer if prions are eaten, the usual mode of transmission), it will be another six months or so before the results will be known, said James M. Robl, Hematech's president and chief scientific officer.
Until December 2003, mad cow disease had never been found in American cattle. That made the pristine U.S. herd an ideal resource for companies that extract blood and other products from cattle for use in human pharmaceuticals.
Later, two other BSE-infected animals were identified, inspiring Robl and his teammates to develop prion-free cattle.
But policies enacted in recent years by the Agriculture Department have so reduced the risk of BSE in this country, Robl said (current estimates are that, at most, four to seven cases might be found if all 42 million head of U.S. cattle were to be tested) that it may not be necessary for Hematech to use prion-free cattle as it strives to make potent, disease-killing antibodies in cattle for use in humans with life-threatening infections.
"If BSE becomes an issue, we'll know we can make these knock-outs," Robl said. "So it's more insurance at this point." 1-1-07

Food Safety Related JOB OPENINGS
Food Safety Related JOB OPENINGS

Norovirus cases rose fourfold in state in '06
Experts offer solution: Scrub those germy hands
By Christine Rook
Lansing State Journal
Source of Article: http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/
Norovirus helped make 2006 one ugly year, healthwise, across Michigan.
Health experts blame the virus for 143 outbreaks of vomiting and diarrhea in the state. That's more than quadruple the number of reported norovirus outbreaks the preceding year.
And the spike can't be pinned solely on better incident reporting or media hype, some officials say.
"There may be new variants (strains) out there," said Brenda Brennan, an infectious disease epidemiologist with the Michigan Department of Community Health. "Honestly, we're unsure."
Nationwide, the number of reported food-borne norovirus outbreaks rose 78 percent in a single year, from 139 in 2003 to 247 in 2004. That's the most recent year for which data is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. That data set doesn't reflect every outbreak, so the raw numbers don't show the true scope of the problem. But the upward trend in the numbers is noteworthy.
The CDC actually suspects that 23 million Americans suffer each year from norovirus. A single outbreak can involve thousands of individuals.
Locally, the microbe ruined the holiday season for about 400 people. Five area outbreaks since late November have helped make 2006 a banner year for contagious diarrhea in Michigan.
The real problem is personal hygiene - specifically hand washing, or the lack of it by 70 percent of the population, local experts say.
"They ruin it for the rest of us," said Robert Trout, an infection control expert at Lansing's Sparrow Specialty Hospital.
Norovirus isn't a respiratory illness. This microbe invades the guts and exits the body the only two ways it can. People who don't wash their hands after using the toilet put others at risk.
Touch a doorknob or any of a dozen seemingly harmless but contaminated surfaces, and there's the potential for an outbreak.
It's the little things that can cause problems, experts say. For example, a woman who recently stopped by the Okemos post office sorted her mail, habitually licking her index finger before touching each letter.
As far as experts are concerned, she might as well have licked the mail, the counter, the door handle to the building and everything else she touched since she last washed her hands.
Even seemingly adequate hand washing can be undone, experts say. For example, when an ill person touches a faucet handle in a restroom to wash his hands, he contaminates the handle. The next person would need to use a paper towel to turn the faucet and avoid infection.
The solution: Use soap, water and friction to wash your hands. The rubbing removes the viral bits so they get trapped by the soap and rinsed away.
Also, be mindful of what you touch afterward. "It's the best we have right now," said CDC epidemiologist Jacqueline Tate.
Public health officials, of course, have preached hand washing for a century.
"Basically, people don't think," said East Lansing psychologist John Braccio.
There is hope.
The Michigan Department of Community Health this month plans to issue a document reminding people to stay away from healthy humans when sick and, again, to wash their hands.
Later in the year, state health officials hope to spark a community discussion about the problem of people who don't have adequate health insurance or paid sick time.
Without medical care or time off, those people go to work sick, potentially infecting others.
"We keep talking about putting a meeting together," said state health department spokesman T.J. Bucholz.
For now, though, the best way to combat norovirus is hand washing. "Just having water run over your hands helps tremendously," Trout said.

New Sensor Simplifies Efforts To Safeguard Drinking Water From Cyanide
Source of Article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/
Science Daily
A new method for detecting cyanide in drinking water and other sources offers numerous advantages over cumbersome existing technology, scientists report in an article scheduled for the Jan. 1 issue of ACS' Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal.
Idaho State University's Jeffrey J. Rosentreter, Yegor G. Timofeyenko and Susan Mayo point out that cyanide is critical in industries ranging from fertilizers and plastics to mining and steel production, with 1.4 million tons produced worldwide each year.
Cyanide also is toxic and its presence in the environment must be monitored closely. Existing instruments, however, require large samples, take a long time to produce results, require specially trained operators, and have poor precision and other drawbacks.
The researchers describe development of a new cyanide sensor that overcomes those disadvantages, while being inexpensive and portable.
The sensor, for instance, produces results of toxins in water instantaneously and targets the specific form of cyanide toxic to humans and other organisms -- making it especially attractive for safety and security applications, the researchers state.
Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by American Chemical Society.

New ChromoCult¢ç Enterococci Agar for Detection of Enterococci in Water
source from: rapidmicrobiology.com
Enterococcus faecalis ATCC 19433 ChromoCult¢ç Enterococci Agar is an approved, excellent value medium for the detection of Enterococci in water
Do you want to save money?
Merck offers an excellent value chromogenic medium for reliable, fast and safe detection of Enterococci.
Do you want to simplify your analysis?
Then you should use this unique chromogenic technique for the detection of Enterococci.
Do you want to save time?
Benefit from the speed of this new method . in just 24 hours you can clearly and safely detect the absence or presence of Enterococci.

The examination of water is strictly regulated by the European Union Directive on Drinking Water, but to enable the use of alternative methods, especially for the bacteriological examination of water, the ISO 17994 was created, which describes procedures how to prove alternative against reference methods.
Merck.s ChromoCult¢ç Enterococci Agar was successfully approved according to ISO 17994 and is now licensed by the German Federal Environmental Protection Agency as an alternative medium for the detection of Enterococci in water.
The Enterococci family is one of the indicator groups of faecal contamination of water. This group of organisms can survive longer in the environment than the classical faecal marker organism E. coli. Because of this longer survival, the detection of Enterococci serves as a sensitive indicator for possible faecal contamination that has occurred in the past.
This parameter is very helpful for customers using near-shore sea water as a raw material for production of bottled or drinking water and sewage treatment plants are in the neighbourhood and these organisms can also be used as a marker for successful sanitation after accidents in water systems.
On ChromoCult¢ç Enterococci Agar the Enterococci are clearly detectable by the red coloured colonies, thus meeting the requirements for fast detection of faecal contamination in water and indicating any action needed for public health and safety.
Only one medium is necessary, instead of two, as a confirmation test is not required. With this method the results are available one day earlier without compromising safety. The ChromoCult¢ç Enterococci Agar can be used for examination of nearly all types of water samples, e.g. drinking water or pool water.

1st International Conference for Food Safety and Quality (Nov. 7-8, 2006)
Major Topic: Current Detection Methods for Microbiological/Chemical Hazards for Food Safety/Quality

Program - Coming Soon !
2nd International Conference for Food Safety and Quality
(Nov. 6-7, 2007), South San Francisco Convention Center