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Meat and milk from animal clones are safe - Expert Q&A
03.jan.07
University of Maryland, College Park
Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it has approved consumption of meat and milk from some species of cloned, food-producing animals. Here Dr. Gary Weaver, Director of the Program on Agriculture and Animal Health Policy, Center for Food, Nutrition, and Agriculture Policy (CFNAP) at the University of Maryland, answers questions about the decision, about the safety of consuming meat and milk of cloned animals and the science of cloning. A licensed veterinarian, Weaver has been head of pathology at a veterinary diagnostic laboratory, mycotoxin researcher, practicing veterinarian, lawyer and legal consultant on animal health issues. He has served as expert in bioterrorism and counterterrorism for the FDA and the intelligence community. Dr. Weaver's comments may be used by media.

What¡¯s your opinion of the FDA ruling?
Their conclusion that meat and milk from some species of animal clones ? so far cattle, swine, and goats ? and their non-cloned offspring are safe to eat is a good one. FDA experts have carefully studied all available scientific reports about animal cloning for more than five years.
Concerns have been raised about the safety of meat and milk from clones, but the FDA reported in a new scientific publication that meat and milk from cloned animals and their non-cloned offspring are indistinguishable from those of traditional animals consumed by Americans every day. In fact, the only way to positively identify a clone is to certify that it has virtually the same genetic material as another animal that is not its identical twin. The FDA therefore concluded that food products from cloned cattle, swine, and goats are as safe for people to eat as those from non-cloned animals.

How does cloning work?
In animal cloning, the genetic material from the male donor with the desirable traits is not diluted as it is in natural reproduction, when all genetic materials from donor and recipient are randomly mixed. Cells used in cloning are typical animal cells consisting of the relatively small, dense nucleus (containing virtually all of the cell¡¯s genetic material) residing with other cell parts in the larger, surrounding cytoplasm ? all enclosed by the cell membrane. The newest, most-promising cloning method first isolates a donor animal cell nucleus, then places it into a recipient¡¯s egg with its nucleus removed. The resulting embryo is transferred to a female to carry to term.
How are cloned animals different from traditionally bred animals?
Adult cloned animals ? plus their non-cloned offspring ? are the same as traditional, non-cloned animals born to other traditional, non-cloned animals. Cloned animals used for meat and milk have only traditional animal genes. They have a mother; they do not develop in a test tube or incubator. In addition, clones are used to reproduce non-cloned offspring that also have only traditional animal genes

Is a cloned animal the same as a genetically modified organism, or GMO?
There is nothing genetically modified because cloned animals contain only their own species¡¯ traditional genetic material. There is nothing genetically added or subtracted either. Cloned animals and their non-cloned offspring are not genetically modified organisms because GMOs (aka, genetically engineered organisms or transgenic organisms - here, transgenic animals) all contain deliberately added foreign genes.

Why are people concerned about cloning?
The many reports of what may possibly go wrong with animal clones have proved to be not much more than exciting scientific fiction when compared to the rather dull findings that cloned animals are the ordinary animals people have raised and consumed for millennia.
Also, some organizations claim that animal cloning is unnatural human intervention, but that bridge was crossed many centuries ago. For millennia, people have closely controlled domestic animal reproduction to develop specific animal breeds for companionship, food, and work. Today, all breeds of cattle, dogs, cats, pigs, horses, chickens, plus all other domestic animals are the direct result of intensive, unending, human intervention using selective animal breeding programs. None of today¡¯s domestic animal breeds would ever have developed using only natural selection and random breeding. There would be no Holstein cows for superior milk production or Angus cattle for high-quality beef. There most certainly would be no Siamese cats or Chihuahua dogs if humans had let ¡°nature take its course.¡±

Will successful animal cloning bring us closer to being able to clone a human being?
Cattle cloning procedures do not necessarily work in other animal species. Furthermore, the U.S. is only one small part of a growing global scientific research effort to understand animal cloning. Sadly, some recent U.S. public policies and opinionated activism threaten our scientific leadership in this and other areas of research.

Are there any benefits to cloned animals over traditionally bred livestock?
Cloning allows livestock producers to reduce, by years, the decade or so now required to get superior animals to market with the newly-identified, superior genetic traits of male animals which are then placed in artificial insemination breeding programs.

USDA prime beef ? currently about three percent of all beef steaks ? could become our only grade of beef ? and at affordable prices! Also, fewer superior dairy cows could produce the same quantity of milk while making less animal waste.
It is noteworthy, however, that few cloned animals will actually be consumed by Americans any time soon, because they are too expensive to eat. For now, all cloned animals will likely be breeding stock that pass along their superior traits to their non-cloned offspring, which will end up on American dinner tables in time.
See the CFNAP report on Public Attitudes Towards Animal Cloning:
Topline Results from Recent Consumer Survey at http://agresearch.umd.edu/CFNAP/Topline_of_Animal_Cloning_121406.pdf .
Dr. Weaver holds a Ph.D. in veterinary pathology (comparative pathology program) from the University of Minnesota, a D.V.M. from the University of Illinois, and a B.S. from Northern Illinois University. He also received his J.D. from The Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He is a member of the Michigan Bar Association, the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, the veterinary medicine honor society Phi Zeta, the agriculture honor society Sigma Gamma Delta, and is a licensed veterinarian.
CFNAP has unrestricted gifts from both the Aurora Foundation and Viagen to study cloned animals and their products. Weaver reviewed more than 200 peer-reviewed, scientific papers about cloning, published from 1952 to date. His conclusions about the food safety of cloned animal products are based solely on the FDA recent peer-reviewed scientific paper.

Survey says: FDA approval of cloned meat imminent, impact on beef industry minimal
By Tom Johnston on 1/4/2007 for Meatingplace.com
The Food and Drug Administration will surely approve eating the meat of the offspring of cloned cattle, sheep and hogs in the near future, but the impact it would have on the beef industry would be minimal, according to an online survey of Meatingplace.com readers.
Asked if they expect FDA to formally green-light the technology (see FDA: Cloned animal products are edible, Meatingplace.com, Dec. 29, 2006), 75 percent of the survey respondents said yes and 25 percent said no. Results were based on roughly 340 responses to a recent survey on Zoomerang.com.

The great unknown
While it is widely expected that FDA will give its blessing, it is also unclear as to what will happen thereafter. After all, many experts say it will be too costly to clone animals in any substantial quantity, and most consumers say they wouldn't eat meat or drink milk derived from a cloned animal if it were available at their local supermarket.
The responses by Meatingplace.com readers underscored the uncertainty about the future of meat derived from cloned animals.
Fifty-eight percent of the respondents said commercial production of cloned livestock would not significantly increase if FDA approves the measure, while 42 percent said FDA approval would pave the way to increased clone production.

Price points
Opinions varied on what type of impact the potential increased production of cloned animals would have on commercial livestock prices, with 51 percent saying there would be no impact on prices; 30 percent saying it would slightly decrease prices; 9 percent saying it would slightly increase prices; 6 percent saying it would significantly decrease prices; and only 4 percent saying it would significantly increase prices.
"The expense of cloning will have to decrease significantly to have an effect on the commercial meat business," a meatpacking plant executive said in his response.

The bottom line
Readers' answers also varied widely when asked what impact cloned livestock would have on their businesses in the foreseeable future.
Only 13 percent said it would have a significant impact; 22 percent said it would have a moderate impact; 35 percent surmised that it would have a slight impact; and 30 percent believe it will have no impact whatsoever.

Label it what you will
FDA scientists have not only concluded that milk and meat from cloned livestock are safe to eat, but also are so much the conventional method's equal that special labeling would not be required.
As if deeming the products safe wasn't heinous enough to food safety groups, who argue FDA's preliminary approval is not backed by a sufficient amount of research, the prospect of depriving consumers of the opportunity to know what they'd be buying is downright reckless, critics charge.
The question of whether there has been sufficient scientific testing of cloned animal foods to deem it safe is not so clear cut, as evidenced by the responses of Meatingplace.com readers.
Although 31 percent of them are extremely confident of the meat's safety, 26 percent said they are extremely skeptical. Meanwhile, 18 percent said they are somewhat confident; 16 percent said they were somewhat skeptical; and 9 percent were neutral on the subject.
And on the matter of special labeling, Meatingplace.com readers are convinced that consumers would want labeling, with 82 percent saying that consumers will demand special labeling even if it weren't formally required by regulators.
"I think the last thing the industry needs is something consumer activists can use," a beef company executive said in the survey. "There is already enough bad press on natural labeling, using CO (carbon monoxide) for processing, animal rights, so I don't really see this as a positive. I can see the headlines now: 'Frankenstein Beef!'"

Let Them Eat Clones
Even if it's creepy, cloned meat is safe and tasty, says the Food and Drug Administration.
(Los Angeles Times, CA)
CLONED BEEF: It's what's for dinner. Or at least it will be, if the Food and Drug Administration acts on its recommendation last week to allow meat and milk from cloned animals to be sold without special labels ? a position that has food-purity activists up in arms.
Cloned meat, genetically modified crops and hormone-injected milk cows do not qualify as progress to the organic food crowd, which says such advances will cause as-yet-unimaginable health and environmental damage. It would be easier to take them seriously if scientists didn't dismiss most of their concerns out of hand, after voluminous studies showing no ill effects. Animal cloning appears to touch a particular nerve. A recent survey by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology found that 64% of Americans are uncomfortable with animal cloning. The numbers are probably worse in much of Europe and Asia, where U.S. experiments with modified crops cause widespread dismay and often lead to bans on U.S. farm exports. There are legitimate ethical or religious objections to human tampering with the natural reproductive process. And cloning can have ill effects on animals, causing more mutations and early deaths. But the food purists do their cause a disservice when they argue that cloned meat is somehow unsafe or unhealthy.
To begin with, the clone genie is already out of the bottle. There is a voluntary moratorium on the sale of cloned meat and dairy products, but it is widely ignored. Some of the meat currently in the freezer of your local supermarket may well be from the offspring of a cloned animal. The second delusion is that non-cloned products now in stores are more "natural." Cloning, which involves replacing an egg's nucleus with DNA from a genetically desirable animal, is just the latest artificial reproductive technology to come down the pike. Chances are, that T-bone on your table came from a cow produced using artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, embryo transfer or some other method that didn't involve a cow and a bull making beautiful music together. Finally, it's delusional to think that special labels would make any difference. It's impossible to distinguish at the molecular level or by taste meat from a cloned animal from the meat of an animal born of two parents. So there would be no way to determine whether meatpackers were complying with the labeling law.
It isn't the FDA's job to rule on the morality of animal husbandry, nor to placate nervous trading partners overseas. Its mandate is to ensure the safety of the nation's food supply, and the verdict is in: Cloned meat is safe.
Those who aren't convinced will have other options. Just as "organic" farms and dairies across the country put special labels on their hormone-free milk or pesticide-free produce, ranches will doubtless spring up to market "non-cloned" meats. Those who want to pay more for lower-quality food will no doubt be able to do so. 1-8-07

Outbreaks spark more safeguards for produce
Source of Article: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/
Many in industry step up measures after 2006 foodborne illnesses
Karen Miltner
Staff writer
(January 5, 2007) For anyone with a vested interest in seeing Americans eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, 2006 was stitched with panic and caution.
At the forefront was the E. coli outbreak linked to California spinach that killed three people and sickened more than 200 nationwide in August and September. Another high-profile E. coli outbreak in November and December linked to Taco Bell restaurants in the Northeast brought green onions, then lettuce, under scrutiny.
In other states, restaurant tomatoes have been named the carrier in a salmonella outbreak.
"It's the year we'd like to forget," said Bill Pool, manager of agricultural production and research at Wegmans Food Markets Inc.
Certainly this is not the first time that produce has been linked to outbreaks. But the events from 2006 have had a galvanizing effect on the food industry, government agencies and consumer awareness, causing grocery companies such as Wegmans Food Markets Inc. to step up their already stringent safeguards.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, foodborne illness is responsible for about 5,000 deaths, 325,000 hospitalizations and 76 million illnesses every year.
A 2004 report from the CDC's Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network says the incidence of infection of the most common pathogens such as campylobacter, cryptosporidium, E. coli, listeria and salmonella is on the decline.
But an updated report issued last month from the Center for Science in the Public Interest demonstrates that produce beat out other food categories ? including seafood, poultry, beef and eggs ? in causing the highest number of foodborne illnesses from 1990 to 2004. Seafood caused the largest number of outbreaks.
"I don't think that foodborne illness outbreaks are on the rise, but there is a higher awareness on the part of the public," said Sue Grace, nutrition program leader and a food safety instructor at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County.
Grace and other experts point to a number of factors responsible for this year's attention to produce safety: a global food economy; improved tracking and reporting among local, state and federal agencies; genetic fingerprinting to better identify pathogens; and increased produce consumption.
Unlike meats, poultry and seafood, most fresh produce is eaten raw, eliminating what industry experts refer to as the "kill step" that would prevent illness from already contaminated but properly cooked foods.
"The stuff grows outdoors in the dirt. There is nothing you can do that will make it 100 percent safe unless you cook it or irradiate it," said Wegmans' Pool.
Irradiation, a process already used for dried herbs and spices and ground beef, is also being considered for pre-packed foods such as bagged salads and spinach. But even if the FDA approves this usage (a petition is under review), there are not enough facilities to handle the potential demand, Pool added.
"Certainly these (2006) outbreaks have thrown things up in the air considerably," said Robert Gravani, a Cornell University food science professor and director of the National Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Program. The program offers research and education to growers, packers and farm workers about reducing microbial risks in fruits and vegetables.
"We know where (these dangerous microbes) live, but how they are getting from there to our fruits and vegetables is the huge question," Gravani said. "If this was an easy-to-solve problem, it would have been solved already."
Gravani is seeing more retail food chains signing third-party auditors to ensure growers and packing houses are following good agricultural practices.
While Wegmans has a long history of building relationships with its national and international suppliers and encouraging them to use good agricultural practices, it is asking them to use third-party audits both in the fields and in the packing houses, said Pool.
The chain is also requiring the local growers it buys from to have a certified GAPs program in place by 2008.
Tops Friendly Markets and Martin's Super Food Store also have started using outside auditors to test products from its distribution centers, said spokesman Denny Hopkins.
A Pittsford woman filed a lawsuit this fall against Natural Selection Foods of California and Dole Food Co. after bagged spinach tainted with E. coli sent her to the hospital. The woman purchased the spinach at Martin's in Perinton in August.
Recent outbreaks have made Pittsford resident Robin Suwijn more wary than usual.
"I have started to apply the same caution that I had when we have been to Costa Rica, Belize, Guatemala and Mexico. Now it's becoming more like that here," said the frequent traveler, whose husband was hospitalized for a foodborne illness he contracted at a local restaurant a few years ago.
In 2004, the Monroe County Health Department stepped up its requirements for food safety training in food service establishments.
Now medium- and high-risk establishments (places where a lot of food preparation and handling takes place, such as full-service restaurants) must have a full-time food worker on staff with nationally accredited food worker certification training.
And all establishments, regardless of risk level, must have a staffer with county-level training on the premises during all hours of operation.

A few steps will keep veggies from turning you green
08.jan.07
Kirkland Lake Northern News (ON)
Clare Howard, Copley News Service
Greg Wolf, manager of food and nutrition services at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Ill.and supervisor of a staff of 70, changed already-rigorous procedures in the wake of the recent E. coli outbreak. Now, even bagged and washed spinach is washed again. And again.
Wolf, who earned a bachelor's degree in biology, attends food safety workshops and seminars, and has worked in the food industry for 30 years., was quoted as saying, "Bacteria requires a food source, moisture and suitable temperatures. But there is more to this than just cleaning produce."
Food sanitation authorities at Center for Science in the Public Interest, Illinois Central College and OSF all offer similar guidelines for cleaning fruits and vegetables. Some guidelines are well-known tips passed on from our mothers, but several are bound to catch many cooks by surprise. There are some sneaky ways E. coli invades our systems.
Every kitchen procedure starts with "proper" hand washing, which means hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Hand washing is repeated when switching tasks or touching something possibly contaminated, which could be raw meat, unwashed dishes or "bare human body parts other than clean hands and clean, exposed portions of the arms," according to OSF guidelines. That means if you touch your face or a cabinet door knob, wash again.
Wolf's procedure for cleaning spinach:
Wash your hands.
Empty spinach into a large colander.
Toss and rinse thoroughly under cool running water.
Place spinach in a large salad spinner and spin to dry.
Place in a container, cover, label and date.
Use cleaned spinach within five days.
Clean and sanitize salad spinner for next use.
The newest design for spinners has holes on the bottom so water drains out and does not recontaminate the produce. Don't put produce in a sink full of water and let it soak. It is the action of running water that is necessary.
Wolf said staff sanitizes cleaned equipment with heat or chemicals. He recommends home cooks use the dishwasher whenever possible. That means putting kitchen sponges and vegetable scrub brushes through a cycle of the dishwasher to halt cross- contamination.
For items that can't be run through the dishwasher, sanitize with a solution of 1 teaspoon bleach to 1 gallon of water.
Even fruit that is peeled, such as oranges and melon, must be cleaned. Contaminants on the outer skin can be introduced into the flesh with hands or knives.
Joy Ashwood, associate professor and chef instructor in the culinary arts department at Illinois Central College in East Peoria, was cited as saying that care needs to be taken when slicing onions, which grow in the soil.

Move sinks outside toilet area
07.jan.07
Times Colonist (Victoria)
Patrick MacKinnon of Victoria, B.C., writes that concurrent with the latest worry about resistant bacteria, one of your readers has expressed misgivings about opening the washroom door after washing for fear of renewed contamination.
Since handwashing does not require the privacy that a toilet does, this and other problems could be resolved by placing washbasins along the wall outside the public toilet.
This would also have other benefits: Persons exiting the toilet would be more likely to handwash since they might be observed, they would take more care to leave the basin in a clean condition, it would be easier for maintenance staff to restock and to disinfect these basins and it would ease congestion within the toilet area itself.
Considering the benefits, this requirement might find its way into future building codes. Retrofitting existing installations also need not be too expensive in many cases.

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A cry over raw milk
06.jan.07
Lancaster Sunday News (PA)
Jon Rutter
http://local.lancasteronline.com/4/29288
On the wall of his Country Side Dairy & Produce stand outside Strasburg was a Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture permit authorizing him to sell the unpasteurized drink.
The friendly, black-bearded man, who asked to remain unidentified, was quoted as saying, "I just felt it¡¯s safer having my milk tested. The state¡¯s not hard to work with."
But, the story says not all producers feel the same way, and more than a few local Amish and Mennonite farmers ? the exact number is hard to pin down ? sell raw milk without a permit.
They tout the product as a wholesome natural elixir with many health benefits.
But critics see ¡°bootleg¡± milk as an outbreak of virulent E. coli and other pathogens waiting to happen.
A Pennsylvania Region 6 milk inspector who spoke on condition of anonymity was cited as saying sanitation practices vary widely from farm to farm, adding, "What I see [in Lancaster and Lebanon counties] kind of sickens me."
The inspector claims that Harrisburg treats the Amish preferentially because they are a tourism draw.
Bill Chirdon, who became the department¡¯s director of food safety three months ago, was cited as saying plain sect farmers here have steadfastly resisted permits more than milk producers elsewhere in the state, adding, ¡°There are people who want us to prosecute more.¡±
He said the department is indeed taking a firm line in the case of Levi Miller, an unpermitted Amish raw-milk seller in Leacock Township who ¡°absolutely refuses to go along with us.¡±
However, Chirdon said, legal battles ultimately give farmers and ag officials a black eye. ¡°We¡¯d rather use education,¡± persuasion and negotiation to resolve conflicts. To that end, he said, ag officials will discuss raw-milk trends during a Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture conference next month in State College.
Sally Fallon, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a natural food advocacy group in Washington, D.C., was quoted as saying, "Raw milk is inherently safe because there are a lot of components in it that kill pathogens

Antibacterial products are not effective and may be harmful, research shows
06.jan.07
Seattle Post-Intelligencer (WA)
Tabitha Alterman, Mother Earth News
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/athome/298256_antibacterial06.html
If you choose "antibacterial" products because you trust them to kill germs, you might want to reconsider. According to recent studies, antiseptic ingredients added to numerous products are not effective and may actually be harmful.
In 2005, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel concluded that there is "no added benefit" from using antimicrobial products versus plain soap and water.
There's also toxicity to consider. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health discovered that one of the most popular antimicrobials, the pesticide triclocarban (TCC), defies water-treatment methods after we wash our hands of it.
Once it's flushed down drains, about 75 percent of TCC makes it through treatments meant to break it down, and it ends up in our surface water and in the biosolids known as municipal sludge. This sludge is regularly applied to crop fields as fertilizer, so the chemical could potentially accumulate in our food, too.
Rolf Halden, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Johns Hopkins and lead author of the study, estimates that TCC contaminates 60 percent of the streams in this country. He says it is known to cause cancer and reproductive problems in mammals, and blue-baby syndrome in human infants.
Introducing an antimicrobial into the environment in this way also has the unwanted effect of increasing pathogens' resistance to clinically important antibiotics.

Let Americans Know What They're Eating
If It¡¯s Cloned, Just Say So On The Label
(Mercury News, CA)
Got cloned milk
Not yet. But the FDA concluded last week that milk and meat from cloned farm animals are safe to consume. Unfortunately, the agency has not taken the additional step of requiring labels on these products.
The FDA's ruling on safety relied solely on scientific evidence, which is its job. The conclusion of all reputable studies so far is that meat and milk from cloned animals is indistinguishable from that of non-cloned animals.
But because some consumers are concerned about cloning, like genetic engineering in the food chain, labels are appropriate.
At least this time, the FDA ruling was not tainted by political influence. The Bush administration has been known to insert its views into the FDA's conclusions, most notably with Plan B, the emergency contraception pill. Despite research showing it was safe, the administration needlessly delayed over-the-counter sales for philosophical reasons.
But a finding of safety by the FDA should not preclude labeling -- and not just because of the ``yuck'' factor. (Polls show more than 60 percent of Americans are ``uncomfortable'' with the notion of cloning animals for food.) Americans should be able to control what they and their families eat. In other realms, public health officials are urging them to watch what they purchase at the grocery store or restaurant.
Labels don't have to imply warnings, either. The organic label is a selling point. If cloned cattle provide superior beef, the industry can make that a plus.
Label requirements may make cloned food more expensive and challenging to produce. For example, it could mean keeping cloned animals separate from others in the breeding chain. So be it. That's the price of the potential benefits of advanced technology.
The idea of cloning still makes a majority of Americans queasy, with good reason. Most oppose cloning humans; some feel animal cloning is wrong, too. Society needs a broader debate of what is acceptable and unacceptable. Legislation may be appropriate if a consensus on right and wrong is reached, or if people believe things are moving too fast.
But decisions like that are not the FDA's job. Its purview is science. And it clearly did its homework this time.
Besides considering every major independent study on the issue, the FDA spent six years doing its own. The Agriculture Department raised more than 400 animals for this purpose, and only one was considered ``abnormal'' and unfit for consumption. That's a number that could occur with normal breeding.
Cloned food won't be showing up anytime soon in supermarkets and restaurants. It costs well over $10,000 to produce a cloned bull or cow. Of the 100 million cattle across the nation today, there are fewer than 1,000 clones.
But it's not too early to step up the debate over the ethics of cloning.
In the meantime, Americans should have no beef with the FDA for establishing that cloned meat and milk are safe. 1-8-07

Bamboo leaf extract to stop acrylamide formation?
By Stephen Daniells
Source of Article: http://www.foodnavigator.com/
04/01/2007 - Using an antioxidant-rich bamboo leaf extract could reduce the formation of acrylamide in potato chips and French fries by about 75 per cent, according to a new study.
"This study could be regarded as a pioneer contribution on the reduction of acrylamide in various foods by natural antioxidants," wrote lead author Yu Zhang in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Acrylamide is a carcinogen that is created when starchy foods are baked, roasted, fried or toasted. It first hit the headlines in 2002, when scientists at the Swedish Food Administration first reported unexpectedly high levels of acrylamide, found to cause cancer in laboratory rats, in carbohydrate-rich foods.
Since the Swedish discovery a global effort has been underway to amass data about this chemical. More than 200 research projects have been initiated around the world, and their findings co-ordinated by national governments, the EU and the United Nations.
The researchers, from Zhejiang Universitys Department of Food Science and Nutrition, report that by immersing the potato crisps and French fries in bamboo leaf extract so that the extract penetrated into the potato matrix prior to the frying process, could reduce the formation of this cancer-causing compound.
The extract, with the main components characterised as flavonoids, lactones and phenolic acids, is listed as a food ingredient in China, and permitted as an additive in a range of food products, including fish and meat products, edible oils, and puffed food.
"Our results showed that nearly 74.1 per cent and 76.1 per cent of acrylamide in potato crisps and French fries was reduced when the AOB addition ratio was 0.1 per cent and 0.01 per cent (w/w), respectively," said Zhang.
The researchers also investigated if the bamboo leaf extract affected the sensory properties of the resultant potato products by recruiting 30 untrained volunteers to taste the products in a double blind manner. They report that the crispness and flavour of both with the bamboo extract were not significantly different to normal potato matrixes when the bamboo lead extract addition ratio was less than 0.5 per cent.
The study, funded by the National Natural Science Foundation Council of China, concluded: "This study could be regarded as a pioneer finding of an effective, simple, and practical way to reduce acrylamide formation in potato-based foods by natural antioxidants."
The researchers called for additional research to elucidate the mechanism by which the extract inhibits acrylamide formation, and whether any new intermediates are formed during the Maillard reaction. The effect of the extract on acrylamide inhibition in other fried or baked foods also warrants additional study, they said.
Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Published on-line ahead of print; ASAP article, doi: 10.1021/jf062568i
"Addition of Antioxidant of Bamboo Leaves (AOB) Effectively Reduces Acrylamide Formation in Potato Crisps and French Fries"
Authors: Y. Zhang, J. Chen, X. Zhang, X. Wu, and Y. Zhang

Antimicrobial paper extends shelf life, claims manufacturer
By George Reynolds
Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/
08/01/2007 - MicrobeGuard today announced the launch of a lining paper liner that will feature AgION antimicrobial technology.
Processors and producers are continuously looking for ways to help maintain the quality and extend the shelf life of food products that they prepare and hold. Microbial growth can affect food quality and safety and can damage firms' reputation and profits following costly recalls.
Food Touch paper liners are specifically designed as a sanitary barrier for holding and storing high-value, raw and cooked food items. Featuring MicrobeGuard's Indenta deep textured design, which assists the cooling process, tests shown the lining extends the shelf life of perishable food products, the manufacturer claims.
MicrobeGauard claims AgION antimicrobial technology is one of the few available that is safe enough for human and food contact and is proven to be effective against a broad range of microorganisms, including bacteria, algae, and fungus such as mold and yeast.
Tony Salemi, president of MicrobeGuard said: ¡°The feedback we have received from our customers, which include many expert chefs, is that Food Touch liners have helped to extend the shelf life of perishable food items by up to 5 days.¡±
The AgION antimicrobial technology is incorporated into the Food Touch liners continuously releases silver ions at the surface of the paper when exposed to moisture. The silver disrupts microbe growth by interrupting RNA (ribonucleic acid) replications needed for microorganisms growth, claims MircrobeGuard.
The silver-based technology has been approved for food and water contact by the Environmental Protection Agency and is listed as an indirect food contact substance with the Food and Drug Administration. AgION is also approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Bacteriophage approved for hide washing
By Ahmed ElAmin
Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/
04/01/2007 - A natural cleaning fluid made of live bacteria could help meat processors get rid of pathogens from animal hides, a key source of cross-contamination in the plant.
OmniLytics said this week that the product became available on the market after the US Department of Agriculture gave approval for its bacteriophage treatment for killing E coli O157:H7 on the hides of live animals just before they are slaughtered.
OmniLytics' said its product can be applied as a mist, spray or wash. Bacteriophages are the viral hit squads of the microscopic world. Bacteriophages are viruses that target bacteria, rather than human, plant or animal cells.
For every bacteria, there is a phage that likes to latch on to them, take over their life processes and multiply. The baby phages then burst out to attack other nearby targets, killing the host cell.
OmniLytics said the its bacteriophage product for E. coli can also be used to treat holding areas, transportation vehicles, containers and living quarters.
¡°The USDA's approval of the use of phages as a hide wash continues to validate the broad uses of bacteriophage as a natural, safe and effective bacterial treatment,¡± stated Justin Reber, the company's president and chief executive officer. ¡°Bacteriophage are Mother Nature's way of fighting bacteria with none of the harmful side effects of antibiotics and chemicals.¡±
Bacteriophage target individual strains and species of bacteria. Unlike indiscriminant broad spectrum antibiotics, the specificity of bacteriophages allows targeting of harmful bacteria without killing other beneficial microflora or fauna, he said.
Identified in 1917, bacteriophage or ¡°bacteria eaters¡± are bacterial viruses that are environmentally friendly, biodegradable, and one of many families of viruses that have no effect on non-target organisms, plants, animals or humans.
OmniLytics received the first US registration for a bacteriophage product for its AgriPhage product line in December of 2005. In August of 2006, the FDA also approved the use of bacteriophage as a food additive for the treatment of Lysteria in ready?to?eat meat and poultry products.
¡°Broad spectrum antibiotics, harsh chemicals and irradiation have created super bugs, pollutants, harmed field workers and have even lowered the quality of some food products without effectively controlling the harmful bacteria," Reber stated. "We believe phages can succeed as a long-term solution for controlling unwanted bacteria where these old methods have failed.¡±
Contamination of hides with pathogens such as E. coli is a major problem in slaughtering plants. Cattle can host E. coli without harm. Recent research by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has shown that pathogens tend to gather on cowhides, which causes problems if the meat becomes contaminated during hide removal.
USDA researchers also discovered that killing pathogens in hides before removal is an effective way of reducing the risk of carcass contamination.
Worldwide food and non-food industries spend about ¢æ5.6bn on toxic chemicals that are only partially successful in blocking pathogens, according to estimates.
Recent analysis from Frost & Sullivan forecast that US demand for antimicrobials - chemicals used to wash equipment and foods to ensure they are free of food borne pathogens - would reach $215.8m in 2012, from $161.7m in 2005.

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