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New Safety Guidelines For Fresh-Cut-Food Processors
By Amy Radishofski, Staff Reporter, Manufacturing.net
Manufacturing.Net - March 12, 2007
The FDA on Monday published a draft final guidance for processors of fresh-cut
produce on how to minimize microbial food safety hazards.
Personnel health and hygiene, training, building and equipment, sanitation
operations and fresh-cut produce production, processing controls and recommendations
on record keeping and recalls will be covered by the new guide.
The guide advises processors to consider using food safety programs like
the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system, designed
to prevent, eliminate, or reduce levels of microbial, chemical and physical
hazards in food production. It also recommends that safe practices by
adopted by partners throughout a company¡¯s supply chain, from growers
and packer to distributors and food service operators.
The document also incorporates comments on the FDA¡¯s March 2006 draft
on manufacturing practices regulations. It will become final once the
White House Office of Management and Budget completes and authorization
step under the Paperwork Reduction Act.
¡°Ensuring the safety of the American food supply is one of this Agency¡¯s
top priorities,¡± said Andrew C. von Eschenbach, MD, Commissioner of Food
and Drugs. ¡°Americans are eating more fresh-cut produce, which we encourage
as part of a healthy diet. But fresh-cut produce is one area in which
we see food-borne illness occur. Offering clearer guidance to industry
should aid in the reduction of health hazards that may be introduced or
increased during the fresh-cut produce production process.¡±
In Madison, Wisconsin, on Monday the Agriculture, Rural Development and
Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations
will have a hearing on improvements for food safety, focusing on the safety
of fresh produce.
According to the FDA, the peeling, slicing, coring and trimming that fresh-cut
produce goes through during processing can increase the risk of bacterial
contamination and growth. Consumers can reduce the risk of illness by
following safe handling practices like refrigeration and using clean hands,
utensils and dishes for preparation.
Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards of
Fresh-cut Fruits and Vegetables by FDA
industry's vulnerable underbelly
After an E. coli outbreak led to steps to make meat safer, illness from
the germ is linked increasingly to fresh produce.
By Jerry Hirsch
Times Staff Writer
Published March 11, 2007
The Klaus family has lived the fast-food industry's nightmare: people
getting sick from E. coli. A few days after picking up a dinner of hamburgers
and chicken nuggets at a Wendy's drive-in, the Salem, Ore., family received
a call from county health inspectors inquiring whether they had eaten
food from the chain.
JoAnn Klaus already knew something was wrong: Her 4-year-old son, Evan,
was hospitalized with diarrhea and dehydration, and 23-month-old Scott
had similar symptoms.
As the brothers received blood transfusions to save their lives, health
inspectors scoured the local Wendy's looking for any source of the E.
coli bacteria that had attacked the boys. They discovered that restaurant
employees cleaned lettuce with equipment that was used to handle raw hamburger
The boys are still paying the price for their meal. Now 11 and 8, Evan
and Scott see a kidney specialist annually. Scott takes medication for
high blood pressure, and doctors say he may develop kidney problems in
Cases like this still haunt the fast-food industry. In the last few months,
hundreds of diners have been sickened by E. coli transmitted through lettuce
served by fast-food chains Taco Bell and Taco John's.
Without improvements in food handling, especially of produce, new outbreaks
of E. coli and other food-borne diseases will shake the public's confidence
in the fare served at restaurants, industry executives say.
"People might start to say they shouldn't eat anywhere," said
Brian Dixon, vice president of marketing for Taco John's.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 52% of the
9,040 outbreaks of food-borne illness reported between 1998 and 2004,
the latest year for which numbers are available, were linked to restaurants
and other commercial food establishments.
Irvine-based Taco Bell, a division of Yum Brands Inc., sells more than
$6 billion of tacos, chalupas and burritos annually through its 5,800
U.S. restaurants. Industry analysts believe the chain's sales plunged
in the Northeast during the outbreak late last year. Yum, which also owns
KFC and Pizza Hut, said Taco Bell's sales fell 5% in the fourth quarter
of 2006, when the outbreak occurred, and that the incident cost the chain
$20 million in operating profit.
The outbreak occurred at Taco Bells in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
and Delaware, but reverberated across the nation.
"If it happens on one coast the people on the other coast will know
10 minutes later," said Ted Taft, a food industry consultant with
Meridian Consulting Group in Wilton, Conn.
E. coli has dogged the fast-food industry since 1992, when tainted hamburger
meat served by the Jack in the Box chain killed three children and sickened
Roni Rudolph Austin still bears the emotional scars of that outbreak.
Her 6-year-old daughter, Lauren, died 10 days after eating a hamburger
with contaminated meat from a Jack in the Box in Carlsbad, Calif.
"It upsets me that we are so many years past the point when Lauren
died and we are still seeing this," Austin said.
"You can't protect your children from ignorance, but that's how E.
coli gets out ? through people's ignorance in how to process foods,"
The incident sparked large-scale testing for E. coli, more stringent inspections
and improved sanitation in slaughterhouses as well as other regulatory
changes. Fast-food chains also reviewed their cooking techniques to make
sure meat was heated to at least 160 degrees, the temperature that kills
Those measures, while changing the way many fast-food chains operate and
reducing outbreaks from contaminated meat, did nothing to improve the
safety of produce.
"Produce is the Achilles' heel of the restaurant industry,"
said Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University
of Georgia, who was hired as a consultant by Taco Bell during the outbreak.
"People eat it raw and the produce industry does not have a sure-fire
treatment that kills harmful bacteria." Health officials say contaminated
lettuce found its way from the California farms to the companies that
chop and dice the greens that caused the Taco Bell and Taco John's outbreaks.
Lettuce is used in 70% of Taco Bell's food items.
"This is a serious issue,"
Taco Bell spokesman Will Bortz said. "We need to identify where there
are loopholes in the system and address how to fix them, both for Taco
Bell and the industry."
Last month, the Department of Agriculture announced a new meat inspection
policy that would increase scrutiny of processing plants with repeated
safety violations and where the threat of E. coli is higher. Less-risky
plants with better food-handling records would be inspected less often.
Under this new system, hamburger processors would get more oversight.
In California, produce companies are developing a plan to enact safer
farming and processing practices that would be subject to state inspection.
But state lawmakers, and one national produce association, say more stringent
regulation is needed to improve the safety of fresh produce.
David Theno, a food safety expert hired by Jack in the Box in 1993 to
retool its procedures, said restaurant chains should be more aggressive
in getting the produce industry to take action.
The first step is more testing
of produce for pathogens, said Theno, now the company's senior vice president
for quality and logistics.
"People will say it is too expensive or that it is not practical
but the meat guys said the same things in 1993 and 1994 and eventually
came around," he said.
Jack in the Box suppliers follow rigorous testing and employ stringent
safety procedures for growing and processing produce, Theno said.
Farmers, for example, must fence their fields to prevent contamination
from animal feces. They must provide bathroom facilities for workers near
where produce is harvested. Bins used to hold vegetables are sanitized
By the time lettuce is shredded and mixed, a single contaminated head
could taint a much larger shipment, Theno said.
Few companies have honed centralization of distribution and preparation
better than Taco Bell.
Fifteen years ago, the chain turned its cooks into food assemblers. They
no longer slice tomatoes or cook raw meat. Instead, vendors handle those
tasks, and the processed food is shipped to the restaurants from a central
distribution point. Workers reheat the meat and scoop it into taco shells
and tortillas. They sprinkle pre-shredded lettuce and cheese over the
top and throw in some pre-diced tomatoes.
The system has freed workers to focus on speed and given Taco Bell's offerings
a consistency and predictability desired by consumers, Bortz said.
The strategy of pushing food preparation and cooking to vendors was hailed
as fast-food industry innovation, allowing the chain to shrink the size
of its kitchens and open mini-stores inside gas stations.
The rest of the fast-food restaurant industry has adopted many features
of the Taco Bell system, speeding up the development of a sophisticated
supply chain that quickly moves ingredients from farms and slaughterhouses
into the mouths of millions of customers on a daily basis.
In some instances, Taco Bell's kitchen arrangement might prevent outbreaks
from meat and poultry, which is cooked at the processor and then reheated
at the restaurant. But it still leaves the chain vulnerable in its uncooked
products ? cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro the items the FDA says
are now the most common sources of E. coli.
Safety experts say fast-food chains need to push the produce industry
to come up with treatments that do a better job of killing dangerous pathogens
and to improve the way their prepared produce is packaged so that a surprise
bacterial hitchhiker from the farm to the take-out window can't unleash
"The question," said Carl Winter, director of the FoodSafe Program
at UC Davis, "is not if another outbreak will occur, but rather when."
food: A lot can go wrong -- at any step along the way
Diagnosing a foodborne illness is straightforward. Determining where and
when the pathogen started may be more challenging.
By Victoria Stagg Elliott, AMNews staff. March 19, 2007.
Last fall, Dr. Samiya Razzaq,
a pediatrician at Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, witnessed
the result of gaps in the nation's food safety controls. Three young children
were sick enough to be transferred to her institution because of something
they ate. Another 40 from the same day care center also were ill, although
they did not have to be hospitalized.
"The whole food safety system is fragile," said Dr. Razzaq,
who also teaches at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. "One
little mistake from somewhere and it's a major epidemic."
The good news is that these patients recovered. But the cause of this
illness cluster has not been confirmed, and Dr. Razzaq suspects it may
have been part of the large national outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7
reported in September 2006 and associated with raw, bagged, pre-washed
spinach. At least 204 cases were confirmed across the country, including
Foodborne illnesses have made headlines in the past six months with stories
ranging from Salmonella-contaminated peanut butter to Clostridium botulinum-tainted
baby food. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that
76 million illnesses annually can be blamed on foodborne pathogens. And
each year, 325,000 people are hospitalized; 5,000 do not survive.
Ironically, it is produce -- usually considered to be among the healthiest
of foods -- that has been associated with much of the recent harm.
The latest report from the CDC's Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance
Network says food-related illnesses have declined over the past decade,
and many experts say the food supply is more safe than ever. But produce
seems to be responsible for a growing percentage of these incidents, with
bagged salad blamed most often. According to the Center for Science in
the Public Interest, salads are the culprit in 28% of produce-related
76 million illnesses a year
can be blamed on foodborne pathogens.
"We live in a microbial world. If something has crawled or slithered
or flown over that field and defecated, there's really little we can do
to decontaminate that piece of produce," said Sam Beattie, PhD, assistant
professor in food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University
To be fair, detection of recent widespread outbreaks in part can be attributed
to improved public health technology and industry trace-back systems.
The development of pulsed field gel electrophoresis means that bacteria
can be distinguished at the DNA level, and the establishment of CDC's
PulseNet just over a decade ago allows public health and food regulatory
agency laboratories to match up these bacterial "fingerprints."
"A patient in Ohio, somebody else in Florida, someone else in Long
Island might have gone unrecognized before," said Marguerite Neill,
MD, associate professor of medicine at Brown Medical School and an infectious
disease physician at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island in Pawtucket.
But factors other than detection bias are probably at work, too, experts
say. For instance, E. coli O157:H7, which was discovered only decades
ago, has proven to be more virulent than many other pathogens. Washing
will reduce its presence, but even nearly undetectable amounts are dangerous.
Changes in how food is produced and eaten also may play a role. Food is
more likely to be mass-produced and distributed widely rather than being
grown and eaten locally, making contamination during the production process
a national, even international, problem. The most recent spinach outbreak
hit people in 26 states and Canada.
"When your food came from the farm down the street, people got sick,
but the number of people made ill was small," said Bennett Lorber,
MD, Thomas M. Durant Professor of Medicine in the infectious diseases
section at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia. "Now
we have immense food producers, producing incredible volumes of food,
and it's distributed all over country. If there's a contamination problem,
there's the potential for many, many people to be sick."
Consumers also are eating more produce, particularly if it has been cut
and washed before being packaged. According to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture,
per capita consumption of fresh spinach in 1980 was less than half a pound
per person. It increased to more than a pound and a half in 2003. Much
of this growth is due to increases in sales of triple-washed, ready-to-eat
While such products make it easier to eat these generally healthy foods,
it also appears to present more possibilities for contamination as spinach
makes its way from the farm to the dinner table.
"Not a controlled environment"
The leading candidate for last fall's spinach-related outbreak is feces
from cattle at bordering ranches or from wild pigs who wandered through
fields, but the irrigation water or the wash used in processing could
have been tainted. The problem could have been fertilizer. Cutting the
vegetable in the fields may make a ripe environment for bacteria to flourish.
Those who picked, processed and packaged it may not have had good hygiene.
"A farm is outside. It's not a controlled environment," said
Don Schaffner, PhD, a spokesman for the Institute of Food Technologists,
an international nonprofit of 22,000 food scientists. "You can't
control the rainfall. You can train people to wash their hands, but cows
and pigs cannot be as easily trained. And heaven help us if the problem
comes from birds."
325,000 people in the U.S.
are hospitalized with foodborne illnesses each year; 5,000 die.
Packaging may be conducive to bacterial growth, although this is unproven.
The product may have been improperly stored in transport, the grocery
store or the consumer's home.
Once the vegetable is out of the package, it could be mishandled. Although
farming and processing issues are getting attention right now, consumer
mishandling remains the most common cause of foodborne illness.
"Somebody makes some hamburgers. Then they use the same cutting board
and cut up some spinach for spinach salad, and there's cross-contamination,"
said Jeffrey T. LeJeune, DVM, PhD, who teaches in the food animal health
research program at Ohio State University.
While the actual reason for last fall's outbreak is unclear, government
and industry stakeholders are taking action. In January, the large fresh-cut
salad producer Fresh Express, whose products were not associated with
the illness, said it would provide $2 million for research leading to
strategies that would prevent E. coli contamination. Also, last month,
more than 90% of companies in this industry signed the California Leafy
Greens Marketing Agreement requiring signatories to follow guidelines
governing irrigation water quality, purity and timing of fertilizer, harvesting
equipment cleaning, and farm worker behavior.
"Food safety is a sacred trust between the people in our industry
and the public," said Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers,
an agriculture trade group in Irvine, Calif. "We take that responsibility
Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration added spinach to its Lettuce
Safety Initiative and will hold a public meeting this year on foodborne
illness associated with greens. The agency also will consider if more
guidance or regulation is necessary or if irradiation of these products
should be allowed.
The USDA is funding research to assess the presence of E. coli to determine
its sources and look for strategies to reduce it. The Government Accountability
Office called transforming food safety a high-risk issue in January and
wants the structure of the system, currently run by 15 federal agencies,
to be reconsidered.
"There ought to be a government-wide approach to food safety,"
said Lisa Shames, GAO acting director of food and agriculture issues.
"It's not that food is unsafe. It's just that the system is fragmented."
Can physicians do more?
Food safety issues also maintain a high profile among physician concerns.
The American Medical Association published Diagnosis and Management of
Foodborne Illnesses: A Primer for Physicians and Other Health Care Professionals,
in conjunction with the American Nurses Assn., the CDC, the FDA's Center
for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection
Service in April 2004.
But food safety experts want more. Those working in this area want physicians
to step up testing to determine exactly what is causing a patient's illness
to make outbreak detection easier. Knowing that can affect treatment decisions
because, in the case of E. coli O157:H7, evidence suggests that antibiotic
use can make things worse.
Consumer mishandling is the most common cause of foodborne illness.
"A lot of time physicians will tell people, 'Oh, it's food poisoning.'
But they'll never order a stool culture," said Dr. Schaffner of the
food technologists group. "I know physicians are limited by insurance,
but it would really be wonderful for physicians to work with us more closely."
Physicians say this is not always practical. Millions may be affected
by foodborne illness, but only a fraction are sick enough to see a doctor.
Because there is no rapid in-office test, an even smaller percentage will
still be sick when results come in.
For example, Richard Roberts, MD, a family physician in Belleville, Wis.,
treated a 70-year-old man in August 2006. The man had severe diarrhea
and may have been a part of the spinach outbreak. He collected stool cultures,
because the man's age put him at greater risk for severe illness. The
test results came back days later as positive for E. coli O157:H7. By
then, though, the man was well.
"The problem with getting cultures most of the time is that by the
time you get the results back the person is better. Then you feel like
you've wasted money," said Dr. Roberts, former president of the American
Academy of Family Physicians. "You give me a test that I can do on
the spot at a reasonable price and have the results here in the clinic.
I'll do that."
bacteria study results
Source of Article:
UNITED STATES: Curbing antibiotic use on poultry farms may do little to
nothing to reduce rates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, relays a new
A surprising finding by a team of University of Georgia scientists suggests
that curbing the use of antibiotics on poultry farms will do little ?
if anything ? to reduce rates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that have
the potential to threaten human health.
Dr. Margie Lee, professor in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, and
her colleagues have found that chickens raised on antibiotic-free farms
and even those raised under pristine laboratory conditions have high levels
of bacteria that are resistant to common antibiotics. Her findings, published
in the March issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology,
suggest that poultry come to the farm harboring resistant bacteria, possibly
acquired as they were developing in their eggs.
¡°The resistances don¡¯t necessarily come from antibiotic use in the birds
that we eat,¡± Lee said, ¡°so banning antibiotic use on the farm isn¡¯t going
to help. You have to put in some work before that.¡±
Lee and her team sampled droppings from more than 140,000 birds under
four different conditions: 1) commercial flocks that had been given antibiotics;
2) commercial flocks that had not been given antibiotics; 3) flocks raised
in a lab that had been given antibiotics; and 4) flocks raised in a lab
that had not been given antibiotics. The researchers examined levels of
antibiotic resistance in normal intestinal bacteria that do not cause
human illness and ? in a companion study published in May in the same
journal ? also examined levels of drug resistant campylobacter bacteria,
a common foodborne cause of diarrhea, cramping and abdominal pain.
They found that even birds raised in the pristine laboratory conditions
had antibiotic resistance levels comparable to what were seen on farms
that used antibiotics. Even when the levels were lower, Lee adds, they
were still well above the reasonable comfort zone for antibiotic resistance
? roughly five to 10 percent. Seventy-three percent of the bacteria from
one flock in the antibiotic-free commercial group were resistant to the
drug oxytetracycline, for example, while 90 percent were resistant to
the drug in a commercial flock that used antibiotics. Ninety-seven percent
were resistant in the experimental flock that was given antibiotics, while
forty-seven percent were resistant in the experimental group that was
not given antibiotics. Strikingly, they even found bacteria resistant
to streptomycin, a common human antibiotic that is rarely used in poultry
and was not used on the farms the researchers studied.
For more information, visit www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=28613.
FDA should ban high mercury tuna from U.S. market, as
Canada requires, according to advocates
from a press release
WASHINGTON -- Following reports that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency
(CFIA) will not allow sales of high mercury canned tuna into the Canadian
market, a mercury watchdog group is calling on the U.S. Food & Drug
Administration to do the same.
"FDA's own testing indicates that some albacore canned tuna has very
high mercury levels comparable to those found in Canada," said Michael
Bender, director of the Mercury Policy Project. "However, the agency
has done nothing to prevent high mercury tuna from ending up in our children's
sandwiches or our dinner plates." A recent national news report in
Canada indicated that 8 out of 60 cans of albacore tuna exceeded the Government
of Canada's guidelines of 0.5 parts per million for mercury. In a follow
up review, CFIA determined that 5 of the 60 cans tested (8%) exceeded
the standard of 0.5 ppm.
In response, the CFIA has contacted tuna importers to ensure that incoming
shipments of canned albacore tuna are tested. CFIA is also reminding governments
of the top exporting countries, including the U.S., and domestic Canadian
importers of the importance of meeting Canadian requirements.
How much fish a person can eat before exceeding the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency's (EPA's) "virtual safe limit," called a reference
dose (RfD), depends on body weight and mercury content of the fish. For
"According to recent testing, some light canned tuna also has high
mercury levels that surpass 0.5 ppm mercury," said Bender. "Unfortunately,
FDA has not followed up on this either. "
Like lead, mercury is a potent neurotoxin that especially threatens the
brains and nervous systems of fetuses and young children. People are exposed
to mercury largely through eating certain fish.
Those most at risk from methylmercury-contaminated food are babies and
small children. The brains of babies in the uterus are the most vulnerable.
The greatest risk is to young women, before or during pregnancy, eating
fish containing high levels of methylmercury (eg shark, swordfish, king
mackerel, and some types of tuna).
Coal-fired power plants, cement kilns, waste incinerators and other
industrial sources emit mercury into the environment.
On February 19, 2007, Health Canada issued new advice for pregnant women
and children to limit consumption of canned albacore tuna.
in foods, Codex April 2007
Codex Committee on Contaminants in Foods
Codex Committee on Contaminants in Foods will consider maximum levels
for aflotoxins in various foods including hazelnuts, almonds and pistachios
at its meeting 16 April 2007 to 20 April 2007 in Beijing, China. Agenda
for the meeting may be downloaded from http://www.codexalimentarius.net/download/report/691/cf01_01e.pdf
County food workers could face vaccinations: Officials consider moves
to protect against more outbreaks of hepatitis A
Jack Leonard and Rong-Gong Lin II
In response to a series of hepatitis A outbreaks at restaurants and catered
events across L.A., county officials were cited as saying Tuesday they
might require food-service workers in all 25,000 eateries to be vaccinated
for the virus.
The story says that county supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to ask
health officials to examine the costs and benefits of such a requirement,
which also would extend to 300 catering companies and 270 wholesale producers.
Officials acknowledged that the vaccinations could be a massive undertaking
? possibly involving more than 100,000 workers ? but said they were trying
protect the public health.
The story says that if county supervisors did approve mass vaccinations,
Los Angeles County would join only a handful of municipalities across
the nation that require hepatitis A shots containing antibodies for food
workers, including Las Vegas and St. Louis.
Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding was quoted as saying, "Every time we have
an exposure ¡¦ it causes a lot of public concern, and it's both expensive
and disturbing to a lot of people. I want to be clear: The risk in those
cases is quite low. It's an increased risk. But it's not like you'd expect
15% to 20% of patrons getting sick."
Dr. Ashok Jain, an emergency room physician at Los Angeles County USC
Medical Center and an occupational and environmental medicine specialist,
was cited as saying mandatory vaccinations could give restaurant owners
a false sense of security.
reduces pathogens in meat, say scientists
By Ahmed ElAmin
Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/
08/03/2007 - Tea could be the wonder ingredient used as surface washes
to improve the safety of ready-to-eat meats and vegetable.
Research completed for the US' Food Safety Consortium indicates that a
scientific mixture of tea extracts can be used to reduce pathogenic bacteria
With increased consumer concerns about the amount of chemicals in their
foods, processors are looking for more natural ways to protect their products
from pathogens and other contaminants.
Daniel Fung, the Kansas State University food science professor who supervised
the research, said the study used extracts from green tea, or Jasmine
tea, mixed in some wildflower dark honey.
"Our results indicated that Jasmine tea with honey and green tea
with honey had the highest antimicrobial activity," said Fung.
The tests were first conducted in a liquid medium and found that the tea
extract and honey treatments caused significant reductions of Listeria
monocytogenes and E. coli O157:H7 bacteria.
"That's not surprising," Fung said. "In liquid medium,
it's easier for the compounds to interact with the organisms in liquid."
Fung's team moved on to food, which can be a more difficult medium when
seeking to cause the type of reaction among the compounds that will inhibit
The results were good, they said. Treating turkey breast slice with combinations
of Jasmine tea extract and wildflower dark honey reduced Listeria monocytogenes
by 10 to 20 percent.
Similar reductions of the pathogen were recorded when applied to hot dogs.
They found the most successful reductions in hot dogs were in those that
had been commercially treated with sodium lactate, potassium lactate and
"In that type of hot dogs, it has much more suppressive effect than
in some of the hot dogs without those compounds," Fung said. "There
is a synergistic effect of the tea and honey along with those compounds
with lactate already in the hot dog."
A beneficial side effects of the treatment is shelf life. Fung noted that
the experiments showed the hot dogs were still showing reduced levels
of pathogens 14 days after the application.
Fung said he will now examine possible applications of the mix as a surface
wash for meat during processing. It could also be used as way to improve
the safety of ready-to eat meats and vegetables, he said.
"We're thinking of using tea to wash carcasses because of its natural
compounds," he said. ""If you can use tea or honey to wash
carcasses instead of lactic acid, you can use a natural compound on the
surface of meat."
developing controls for bacteria in food: Viability kit and bacteriophage
solutions announced at Food Safety Summit
ROANOKE, Va -- Luna Innovations Incorporated announced today at the 2007
Food Safety & Security Summit in Washington, DC, two products that
are under development to provide an integrated approach to the management
of bacterial contamination in food: a rapid bacterial viability kit to
assess decontamination efficiency and to evaluate the cleanliness of surfaces,
and what is anticipated to be the first in a family of bacteriophage products.
Luna¡¯s rapid bacterial viability kit is specifically designed to assess
the presence of bacteria to determine the effectiveness of a decontamination
routine used to clean surfaces in the food processing and manufacturing
industry. The kit is intended to be a faster solution than standard culture
methods, giving food manufacturers more timely information about their
Luna¡¯s initial bacteriophage product candidate is targeted to destroy
Listeria monocytogenes, a common foodborne pathogen responsible for the
disease Listeriosis. According to the Center for Disease Control, about
20% of the people in the United States who become seriously ill with Listeriosis
each year die. Luna¡¯s approach is to use a variety of phage types, creating
a broad killing agent, to improve the safety of food. The mixture is being
designed to be added in line with current food production and manufacturing
processes or sprayed on food surfaces to reduce L. monocytogenes contamination.
Luna¡¯s phage product candidate is all natural and does not contain preservatives
or potentially-allergenic substances. The phage also does not alter the
taste, odor, or color of foods.
"The products currently under development at Luna are aimed at providing
a safe solution for the control of deadly microorganisms in meat, fruits
and vegetables,¡± said Dr. Richard Obiso, Director of Life Sciences at
Are you at
risk of illness when eating raw oysters?
Beaufort Gazette (SC)
About 20 million Americans eat raw oysters. However, for some people,
eating raw oysters can cause serious illness or even death. What causes
this? How do you know if you are at risk? What can you do about it?
Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium that occurs naturally in warm marine
waters. V. vulnificus infections are transmitted to humans either through
open wounds in contact with sea water or by eating certain improperly
cooked or raw shellfish. V. vulnificus is most likely to be present during
the warm months.
In the state, shellfish harvesting (both commercial and recreational)
is generally not permitted between April and October. However, the harvest
season will vary depending on environmental conditions.
While not a threat to most healthy people, V. vulnificus can cause sudden
chills, fever, nausea, vomiting, blood poisoning and death within two
days in people with certain medical conditions. Forty percent of V. vulnificus
infections contracted from raw oyster consumption are fatal. The bacteria
are not a result of pollution. So, although oysters should always be obtained
from reputable sources, eating oysters from "clean" waters or
in reputable restaurants with high turnover does not provide protection.
Eating raw oysters with hot sauce or while drinking alcohol does not kill
the bacteria, either.
All individuals who eat foods contaminated with this organism are susceptible
to gastroenteritis, which usually develops within 16 hours of eating the
contaminated food. However, certain health conditions put you at risk
for serious illness or death. Some of these conditions have no signs or
symptoms, so you may not know you are at risk. If you are an older adult,
you also may be at increased risk because older people more often have
these risk conditions than younger people. Check with your doctor if you
are unsure of being at risk.
These high-risk conditions include:
# Liver disease, either from excessive alcohol intake, viral hepatitis
or other causes;
# Hemochromatosis, an iron disorder;
# Stomach problems, including previous stomach surgery and low stomach
acid (for example, from antacid use);
# Immune disorders, including HIV infection; and
# Long-term steroid use (as for asthma and arthritis).
If you know you are, or think you are, in any of these categories, you
should not eat raw oysters.
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?
The chances for you being at risk are rare. No major outbreaks of illness
have been attributed to this organism.
Sporadic cases have occurred within South Carolina, becoming more prevalent
during the warmer months. However, to date no fatalities have been related
to eating oysters harvested in state waters.
Extensive federal and state regulatory programs monitor the production
and marketing of raw shellfish to assure product safety. Most healthy
individuals are not troubled by V. vulnificus infections from water or
Thus, the V. vulnificus problem
is primarily restricted to individuals in the risk categories. These individuals
are advised not to eat
Bob Guinn is Beaufort County Clemson
Extension home economics and community development agent. Content was
provided by Clemson University's Home and Garden Information Center.
risk-based meat inspection system
Federal officials recently proposed a timetable to begin implementing
a new meat and poultry inspection system designed to reduce foodborne
illnesses by focusing more attention on high-risk facilities and those
with poor safety records.
The US Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Food Safety and Inspection
Service (FSIS) has been exploring "risk-based inspection" since
2000. On Feb 22, Richard Raymond, USDA undersecretary for food safety,
proposed to implement the new inspection system in April at 30 locations,
and possibly to expand it to 150 locations by the end of 2007, according
to an FSIS press release.
The proposed system is seen as the biggest change in the USDA's food inspection
program since 1996, when the Hazard Analysis and Critical Point Systems
(HACCP) rule made food processors responsible for systematically assessing,
preventing, and controlling food safety hazards.
Assessing each facility's food safety record and the relative risk of
what is produced will allow the FSIS to better allocate its inspection
resources to the processors that need them most, while continuing daily
inspections at all facilities, the FSIS said in the press release. A processor's
food safety performance will be based on information federal inspectors
regularly collect at the plants, such as health infractions and microbiologic
"To continue to prevent foodborne illness, we have to improve our
prevention capabilities, not just respond quickly after an outbreak occurs,"
Raymond said in the press release. "What will change is we will no
longer be treating every plant like every other plant in terms of its
adverse public health potential."
In a separate statement, Raymond asserted that risk-based inspection "will
not reduce the number of inspectors nor will it save any money."
He said the FSIS is rolling out the new inspection program gradually so
that it can be evaluated and revised as needed before it is expanded nationwide.
Industry and consumer groups have expressed concerns about the new approach.
The American Meat Institute (AMI) in a Feb 22 statement said it supports
the concept of risk-based inspections, but maintained that the USDA is
launching the plan prematurely.
J. Patrick Boyle, AMI's president and chief executive officer, said the
USDA should slow the process down, seek additional input, and make participation
voluntary. "This rush to launch a potentially worthwhile prototype
may become a needless public relations and political distraction,"
According to documents posted on the FSIS Web site, the agency held a
2-day stakeholder meeting in October 2006 to solicit input on the proposed
risk-based inspection policy.
The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) sharply criticized the USDA plan
in a Feb 22 statement. Although risk-based system for meat inspection
is a worthy goal, the USDA has neither "meaningful scientific data"
to rank product risk nor an unbiased system for determining facility risk,
the group said. The CFA accused the Bush administration of laying the
groundwork for cutting meat inspection costs and thereby increasing Americans'
risk of illness and death from foodborne pathogens.
Foodborne disease expert Craig Hedberg, PhD, noted that some groups, including
the Government Accountability Office (GAO), have advocated a single federal
agency to oversee food safety. He told CIDRAP News that the USDA's move
toward a more periodic, risk-based inspection system that puts the food
safety burden on producers is similar to the model used by the Food and
Drug Administration (FDA), which oversees produce.
"This is probably a necessary condition to change the culture of
the USDA toward that of the FDA," said Hedberg, an associate professor
of environmental and occupational health at the University of Minnesota
in Minneapolis. "This is one more attempt to make that happen."
Ideally, meat inspectors at processing plants determine if products are
handled properly and then intervene if they need to, Hedberg said. "But
it doesn't actually work out that way," because, while the physical
presence of an inspector should give a certain measure of assurance, foodborne
pathogens can't be seen, touched, or smelled, he said. "You have
to have different strategies to deal with that."
"Industries need more authority to police their own, and I think
that's a good thing," Hedberg said.
International Conference for Food Safety and Quality (Nov.
6-7, 2007), South San Francisco Convention Center
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