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Internet Journal of Food Safety

6/5
2007
ISSUE:259

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2nd 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

Vitamin C, Courtesy Of China
June 4, 2007
Source of Article: http://www.thedailygreen.com/
With 90 percent of the U.S. vitamin supply now coming from China, and food and drug import scandals seemingly cropping up by the hour, vitamin makers are making a push to tell consumers their products are OK. We might expect the same soon from the makers of pain relievers, antibiotics, and a host of other common pharmaceuticals and supplements. They are now all made, primarily, in China too.
Consumers are on edge, after the Food and Drug Administration warned on Friday not to buy toxic Chinese toothpaste. That followed closely on the broadening scandal into pet and animal feeds tainted with an industrial chemical supplied by China.
And with inspectors employed by governments that are part-owners of manufacturing plants, there¡¯s good reason to be skeptical about the quality of a range of products.

FDA: Keep carrot juice cold to avoid toxin
By Emily Brown
Bloomberg News
Posted June 5 2007
Source of Article: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/
U.S. regulators said makers of carrot juice and other low-acid drinks should ensure the products are kept cold during distribution to prevent botulism poisoning.
The bacteria that cause botulism can grow unless juices low in acid are properly processed and refrigerated, the Food and Drug Administration said in guidance to the industry today. Six cases of illness linked to carrot juice occurred last year.
Botulism is a rare sickness caused by botulinum toxin, one of the most poisonous substances occurring in nature. Victims can become paralyzed or even die, according to the FDA.
Four people in the United States and two in Canada were sickened in September and October by botulism poisoning traced to carrot juice. Food-borne botulism is rare in the United States, the FDA said.
"Those cases were really unprecedented," Michael Kashtock at the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition said Monday. Celery juice is also considered a low acidic drink, he said.
About 110 cases of botulism poisoning occur each year in the United States. Twenty-five percent of those are caused by food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The tainted juice came from a single firm, said regulators, who didn't identify the manufacturer. Companies that make carrot juice and other low-acid drinks should label the products "Keep Refrigerated," the FDA said. WM Bolthouse Farms recalled some bottles of its carrot juice last year, according to a statement. The Bakersfield, Calif.-based company said proper refrigeration is generally at or below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

FDA to Establish Panel on Risk Communication
Source of Article: http://www.ombwatch.org/article/blogs/entry/3404/24
FDA has announced the creation of an advisory panel which will aid agency officials in communicating food and drug safety risks to the public. Last year, the Institute of Medicine recommended Congress pass legislation creating such a panel.
FDA should be applauded being proactive on the recommendation. During recent food and drug safety crises, FDA has seemed unwilling or unable to allay public fears with immediate communications and relevant information. Establishing this panel has the benefit of being both good politics and good policy.
But policy and politics don't always get along so well. Members of this panel will need to be unbiased and apolitical in their assessments of food and drug safety and the need for public outreach. Even so, because political officials will likely be doing most of the actual communicating, the potential for politically-motivated cover-ups remains.

The Institute of Medicine report states:
The expertise needed on the advisory committee may include consumer and patient perspectives¡¦risk communication, health literacy, social marketing expertise, public relations expertise, social sciences expertise with an emphasis on qualitative research and survey science, journalism, and ethics.
Conspicuously absent from that list is industry. If FDA truly intends to create this panel in the spirit of the report, it will keep industry allies off. (FDA will be accepting public nominations for the panel.)
Even if FDA improves its regulatory actions and post-market surveillance, drug and food safety problems are inevitable. America needs a trusted voice in these situations. One of the roles of government should be to provide that voice.

Ace Biosciences in-licences Phase I Enterotoxigenic E Coli (Etec) Vaccine from Cambridge Biostability LTD
Source of Article: http://www.pharmalive.com/
Deal Involves Initial Payment, Milestone and Royalties
Odense, Denmark and Cambridge, UK, 31 May 2007 -- ACE BioSciences A/S, the infectious diseases company and Cambridge BioStability Ltd (CBL), the British biotechnology company have entered a strategic deal whereby ACE BioSciences in-licenses CBL¡¯s ¡®HolaVax¡¯, (to be called ACE537) an oral Phase I Enterotoxigenic E Coli (ETEC) vaccine which has the potential to be the first to market in the US and EU and which combats the single biggest cause of travelers diarrhoea. Under the terms of the agreement, CBL receives an initial up-front payment and rights to milestone and royalty payments dependent on the successful completion of clinical trials and undisclosed sales targets respectively. The vaccine, which comprises three different strains of attenuated Enterotoxigenic E coli bacteria, is scheduled to complete proof of concept studies in 2009, with potentially the first market launch anticipated in 2013. It is differentiated from other, competitive ETEC vaccines in development because it has a dual preventative action: it combats bacterial adherence to and colonisation of the small intestine and neutralizes the activity of the LT toxin, a key cause of diarrhoea. Its oral delivery formulation is another differentiating factor.
ETEC is the single largest bacterial cause of travellers¡¯ diarrhoea (TD) around the world, followed by Campylobacter, Salmonella and Shigella. ACE BioSciences is already developing a vaccine to address Campylobacter infection, ACE393, and this is in Phase II clinical trials. Market launch is scheduled for 2010 when ACE393 would be the first commercially available vaccine for TD. Ms Ingelise Saunders, ACE BioSciences¡¯ CEO commented ¡°ACE537 is a perfect strategic fit for ACE BioSciences, since it complements our Campylobacter vaccine and would follow it closely to market. Its dual action sets it apart from competitive programmes and should enable it to provide greater disease protection. In the first instance we intend to develop it as a stand-alone vaccine, but in the longer term there is potential to develop an oral combination vaccine to address ETEC and Campylobacter. We believe this would be of tremendous appeal to travellers, since it would protect recipients from the two greatest causes of travellers¡¯ diarrhoea.¡±
Paul Rewrie, Chief Operating Officer of CBL said ¡°HolaVax is a very promising vaccine. However, CBL is focused on heat stable vaccine formulations rather than product development and in this context we believe it will reach the market faster in the hands of a company dedicated to vaccine development. ACE BioSciences is the ideal company to make this happen, given its focus on travellers¡¯ diarrhoea and the impressive speed with which it has developed its Campylobacter vaccine to date. The synergy with ACE¡¯s Campylobacter vaccine programme makes them an excellent partner to develop the ETEC vaccine in its own right and also as a combination product.¡± ACE BioSciences estimates that by 2010, around 58 million travellers will visit areas where ETEC is endemic, with 3.9 ? 9.8 million of these travellers likely to experience TD caused by ETEC. The global market for an ETEC vaccine is estimated to be worth ? million per year. At present there is no vaccine that is widely approved for specific use against ETEC.

Poor hygiene is enough to make you sick
Sunday May 27, 2007
By Deborah Coddington Source of Article: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/
The way the chattering classes carried on last week you'd think alcohol-fuelled boy racers were a major threat to human life. Actually, you're more at risk from people who don't wash their hands than from wheel-spinning teenagers.
It's true - filth is killing us and wreaking havoc with the economy. But as a nation, we'd rather wring our hands than wash them. And the result? Food poisoning, in particular, campylobacter, defined by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority as bacteria that causes food-borne illnesses in people, with severe and sometimes lasting consequences.
I should know. I contracted this vile bug a few days before March 21, and I'm still suffering the lasting consequences.
How can it be that in a time when the regulations governing the growing, storing, preparation, selling, manufacturing, and displaying of food are tougher than ever; when we have our very own Minister of Food Safety in the person of Annette King; when you can't eat a commercially prepared sandwich without fighting your way through a casket of moulded plastic stapled firmly shut, New Zealand has the highest reported rate of campylobacter in the developed world? No one knows why, but it may just be our reporting rate is more efficient than other countries.
In 2005, exactly 13,839 poor bastards in this country were reported as having campylobacter. I sympathise with all of you. That's like every man, woman and child in Tokoroa simultaneously writhing in agony, rushing to the bathroom, vomiting, having diarrhoea, suffering headaches and fever, sometimes for weeks. In 2005, 871 of these poor sods were hospitalised and, in the past nine years, 11 people have died from campylobacter.
In 2005, 115 road deaths were reported as having alcohol as a factor. And while even one boy racer fatality is tragic, I know they haven't made nearly 14,000 people physically ill in any one year.
According to Nigel French, a scientist at New Zealand's Hopkirk EpiCentre, 2006 was the worst year on record for cases of campylobacter with some 16,000 human cases, and he reckons that's an under-reporting of a staggering 800 per cent.
Think of the strain on the nation's sewerage systems. Consider the economic costs of people off work. NZFSA estimates some $60 million annually is lost due to campylobacteriosis: 73 per cent of the total economic costs of food-borne infectious diseases in New Zealand. And that's not counting the kids kept home from school, many of whom these days wouldn't be able to spell diarrhoea when they send a note to the teacher.
And why are we so sick? The main reason is personal hygiene. Campylobacter bacteria are found in poultry, raw milk, offal and other foods. It doesn't make animals sick, and needn't affect us in such unacceptably high numbers. We can be exposed by patting our pets, drinking untreated water (only 4 per cent), eating undercooked chicken or chicken pate (one of the main culprits), eating undercooked barbecued sausages and cross-contamination from tuna in a salad. Freezing won't completely kill the bacteria on infected food, but cooking to 55C will. A two-year survey by Environmental Science and Research (ESR), beginning 2003, of diced meat at retail outlets found 89 per cent of chicken crawling with the stuff, 9 per cent of pork, 7 per cent of lamb/mutton and just 3 per cent of beef. Don't think you're protected by eating free-range organic chicken because they're no more raised in sterile environments than are battery broilers.
Why? Because people from all walks of life don't bother to wash their hands. I've been in the Koru Club bathroom when women have flushed the toilet and left without washing their hands. Just because men don't sit down to pee doesn't mean they shouldn't wash their hands, but many don't bother. I've bought meat from butchers who wear gloves, then leave them on when they give you change or handle the Eftpos machine.
In restaurants, chefs take a cigarette break, then resume preparing food without washing their hands. In kitchens, cooks use the same chopping boards for dicing meat as for slicing lettuce. Simple, basic common sense cleanliness habits have disappeared because we're lulled by legislation to believe food that's double-wrapped in clingfilm, smothered in polystyrene, or delivered to the table on Villeroy & Boch, is safe.
Most of us will never be threatened by boy racers, but no one is safe from people too lazy to wash their hands. It's enough to make you puke.

Codex Seeks Comments on Sanitary and Phytosanitary International Standard-Setting Activities
June 04, 2007 Source of Article: http://www.meatami.com/
A notice from the Office of the Under Secretary for Food Safety of the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the request for comments on sanitary and phytosanitary standard-setting activities of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex). The notice also provides
a list of other standard setting activities of Codex, including commodity standards, guidelines, codes of practice and revised texts. The notice, which covers the time periods June 1, 2006 to May 31, 2007 and June 1, 2007 to May 31, 2008, seeks comments on standards currently under consideration and recommendations for new standards.
Persons wishing to submit comments should go to http://www.regulations.gov and, in the ¡°Search for Open Regulations¡± box, select ¡°Food Safety and Inspection Service¡± from the agency drop-down menu, then click ¡°submit.¡± In the Docket ID column, select FDMS Docket Number FSIS-2007-006 to submit or view public comments and to view supporting and related materials available electronically.

Food Safety and Quality Job Information
Food Safety and Quality Job Information

The overwhelmed FDA
By William Hubbard | June 3, 2007
Source of Article: http://www.boston.com/
THOUSANDS OF pet deaths from spiked wheat gluten, raising fears that humans could be next. Millions of shipments of imported foods from China, Vietnam, and other developing countries flooding into the country each year with no inspection by US authorities. Repeated foodborne outbreaks often resulting in deaths and severe illnesses -- from US-produced spinach, sprouts, peanut butter, and other common foods. A plummeting drop in public confidence in the government's ability to protect our food supply.
The bad news about our food seems to keep on coming, and it all points to the inevitable conclusion that the Food and Drug Administration cannot provide the protections for which it was created. What has happened to this century-old consumer protection agency that has led the way in establishing a safety net for consumer products on which Americans have so long relied?
The most common thread in FDA's declining ability to carry out its responsibilities is a steady, debilitating drop in funding. The agency is simply overwhelmed by an ever-increasing workload, constant congressional demands to do more with less, and righteous indignation when the agency fails to meet unreasonable expectations.
With the exception of FDA's drug review program, which is funded increasingly by industry "user fees," FDA's budget has been declining for a decade. Just as our schools cannot educate our children without teachers and fires cannot be extinguished without a fire department, our food supply cannot be inspected and monitored without the highly skilled scientists at the FDA.
What's the evidence that FDA is experiencing a budget crisis? The FDA is located in Montgomery County, Md. , a suburb of the nation's capital; the suburb's school board has a bigger budget than the FDA; the county's budget is twice that size. Ten years ago, Congress appropriated funds to support 9,100 scientists, but today there are 1,000 fewer, at a time in which the demands on the agency have grown and grown. The number of scientists at FDA's food headquarters office has dropped from 1,000 to 800 in just the past three years. The story of the inspection force is even more troubling. After the 9/11 attacks, Tommy Thompson, then Health and Human Services secretary, demanded that the food inspection force at the nation's ports be improved, and 600 more inspectors were rapidly put in place to examine the burgeoning imports of food. Today, they are all gone, the victims of year-by-year budget cuts that cripple the agency's ability to do even rudimentary screening of our food.
So where are we today? There are 13 million food imports this year, with FDA able to inspect only about 1 percent. The system is so weak that many FDA professionals fear the word is out in the international community you can send virtually anything, of any quality, regardless of risk, to the United States, because no one's looking.Continued...
But exporting countries take some responsibility for what companies in their countries send to us, right? If you believe that, I have a nice bridge to sell to you. And the picture's not much better domestically. The FDA is responsible for inspecting over 200,000 food processing facilities in the United States, but because their staffing is so inadequate, they can get to most only once every 10 to 15 years. OK, so there's no "there there" anymore at the FDA. Is there really a threat? Well, let's see. Incidences of foodborne disease, from new and lethal pathogens like E coli 0157:H7 and salmonella enteriditis , have been climbing, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention count 5,000 deaths annually (and millions of illnesses).
Conditions in many countries exporting food to the United States are often described as "primitive," illegal drug residues are commonly found in imported seafood, and "filth" is a routine finding when imported foods do get inspected by the FDA. China has aggressively captured much of the world's market for many of our most common food ingredients -- ascorbic and citric acid, soy lecithin, wheat gluten, propionate -- that are found every day in our cereals, candy bars, frozen dinners, bread, and baby food.
Yet China leads all other countries in the incidence of contaminated food found by FDA inspectors. One of the most common food ingredients, used in thousands of different foods, gum Arabic, comes from such unstable countries in sub-Saharan Africa as Somalia and Sudan.
Congress is scheduling hearings on food safety over the summer, and many ideas will be proposed for "fixing" the FDA. But if reversing the hollowing out of that agency does not lead the list of solutions, the safety of our food supply will not improve.
If the past is an indication, members will muster up their finest moral outrage and accuse the FDA of failing us. Wouldn't it be refreshing if, just once, the White House and Congress fessed up to the real truth -- that by letting the FDA wither away, the real failure has been theirs?
William Hubbard is a former associate commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

BASF plastic packaging to contain antimicrobial agent
By Ahmed ElAmin
Source of Article: http://www.bakeryandsnacks.com/
01/06/2007 - BASF will produce plastic packaging with an antimicrobial agent, the company said this week. 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 due to costly recalls.
Germany-based BASF said it would develop a line of styrene copolymers using silver-based antimicrobial ingredients from Agion Technologies. The packaging material is being provided under a multi-year agreement between the two companies.
The two companies will focus first on the European market, but they plan a global rollout soon.
BASF said its the antimicrobial ingredient would first be incorporated in its Luran S product line.
"Our partnership with Agion gives us the ability to address the increasing demand from our customers for antimicrobial solutions," said Peter Wolf, head of BASF's global innovation management team. "The unique product attributes of Agion's natural, silver-based technology coupled with its expertise in partnering with leading organisations to introduce new products from development to commercialisation make them the ideal partner."
Agion's antimicrobial reduces microbial growth on the surface of packaging when it is incorporated in plastics, the companies claimed.
"The technology provides continuous protection from microbes by releasing silver ions to the surface of the product at a slow and steady rate," the two companies said in a statement. "This allows for the long-lasting protection of the product against the damaging effects of microbial growth."
Agion's antimicrobial ingredient has been approved for food and water contact by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the European Food Safety Agency.
Agion's product is also a notified existing substance under the EU's directive European Biocidal Products Directive (BPD). It is listed for use as an indirect food contact substance with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

State Warns Against Raw Milk From Lebanon Dairy Farm
(The Morning Call) The state Health Department has issued a warning to consumers not to drink raw milk from a Lebanon County dairy farm after tests showed samples contained the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. The Department of Agriculture said in a statement Friday that routine tests conducted Tuesday at Green Acres Jersey Farm in Lebanon showed some raw milk samples contained Listeria, which can cause illness when ingested.
The state is advising consumers to discard raw milk bought at the dairy farm any time after May 8. The agriculture department has suspended sales at the dairy until samples are free of the bacterium.
Listeria can cause sometimes-fatal infections in young children, the elderly and others with weak immune systems, and miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. Healthy people may develop fevers, headaches, nausea, diarrhea and other symptoms.
Pennsylvania law requires raw milk to be sold on the premises of the dairies that produce it. It is not sold in grocery stores. No illnesses have been reported but anyone who may have consumed the milk should consult a physician if they feel sick, the Agriculture Department said. 6/3/07

Number of E. coli cases In Fresno up to 15 now
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
Posted on June 3, 2007 by E. coli Attorney
Barbara Anderson of the Fresno Bee wrote over the weekend that Fresno County health investigators said 15 E. coli cases from a recent outbreak had been confirmed as of Friday afternoon. One man has been hospitalized with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a kidney complication from the bacterial infection, said David Luchini, communicable disease division manager for the Fresno County Department of Community Health. Most of the cases appear to be related to three private gatherings -- two graduation parties and a wedding, Casagrande said. But health workers are "still investigating illnesses that might be related to other events," he said.

Dozens of E. coli cases in last few month tied to red meat
Posted on June 1, 2007 by E. coli Lawyer
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
A few weeks ago I posted "Seems to be backsliding on E. coli in meat" after seeing at least three recent E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks tied to the consumption of red meat. As I said before, from 1993 to 2002, most of the E. coli cases we did were from tainted hamburger. Since 2002, most of the E. coli case have bee linked to spinach and lettuce. Hopefully, the below reports are not a trend back in the wrong direction.

E. coli Outbreak in Fresno County eleven sickened

The Fresno County Health Department said there are now eleven confirmed cases of E. coli in Fresno County. On Thursday, May 31st, investigators are still looking for the source of the bacteria. The Health Department has inspected the ¡°Meat Market¡± in Northwest Fresno. Meat from the company may have been served at several private parties where some guests later became sick. On Tuesday May 29th, five people were confirmed to have the potentially deadly bacteria. Three more cases were confirmed on Wednesday and another three on Thursday. All of the victims had attended one of three private parties that were all serviced by the same caterer.

Kalamazoo company recalls 129,000 pounds of beef two sickened


Davis Creek Meats and Seafood in Kalamazoo is voluntarily recalling approximately 129,000 pounds of beef products due to the possible contamination of E. coli. The problem was discovered after two people in the Kalamazoo area became sickened with symptoms related to the bacteria. The beef products were produced between March 1 and April 30, and were shipped to food service distribution centers and marketplace stores in Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
E. coli O157:H7 cases linked to ground beef purchased at Lunds or Byerly¡¯s stores since mid-April 117,500 pounds of beef shipped to eight states - seven sickened

Minnesota Department of Health and Agriculture officials are investigating seven cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection in Minnesota residents associated with eating ground beef purchased from Lunds or Byerly¡¯s stores since mid-April. Routine monitoring by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) found that the cases of illness were all caused by E. coli O157:H7 with the same DNA fingerprint. All of the cases had purchased the ground beef from one of four Lunds or Byerly¡¯s stores in the west metro area since April 12. The people became ill between April 21 and 28 after consuming the meat. The cases include two children and five adults. Three of the cases were hospitalized, but all have been discharged.

E. coli scare changes menu at St. Helena Little League shack ? 100,000 pounds of frozen ground beef patties - three sickened
Following reports early last month of E. coli infection in three Napa Valley children ? who got sick from hamburger patties sold at a St. Helena Little League snack shack ? Little League baseball spectators in St. Helena will no longer be able to buy a burger during . time. Gamble said the three confirmed reports of E. coli were in children between the ages of 8 and 12. The meat that sickened the children came from a Napa business, the Salami Lady¡¯s Cash & Carry. Jan Dalluge, who has owned the business for five years, said she acquired the product from Richwood Meat Company of Merced.

E. coli, Sensor Developed
6/4/2007 Source of Article: http://www.freshplaza.com/news_detail.asp?id=2290
A Drexel University engineering professor has developed a millimeter-size cantilever biosensor that can detect cells and proteins in trace samples and in only minutes. The sensor could have wide applications in medical diagnostic testing (prostate cancer), detecting contamination in food products (E. coli bacteria) and monitoring for biothreat agents (anthrax). In medical testing, the sensor can be used to analyze the four most widely tested fluids: blood, urine, sputum and spinal fluid.
Existing conventional tests require 24 hours and a trip to a laboratory to boost the concentration of microbes in a sample to produce findings. The accurate, handheld sensor that Dr. Raj Mutharasan, a Drexel chemical engineering professor, has worked to develop over the past six years can yield findings in about 10 minutes.
No direct test for minute amounts of proteins exists on the market. A study, published in a recent issue of Analytical Chemistry, in which Dr. Mutharasan¡¯s sensor was used, detected E. coli in ground beef at some of the lowest concentrations ever reported.
Results of a preliminary study in which the new sensor was able to detect noninvasively a prostate cancer biomarker in 15 minutes were recently presented by David Maraldo, a Drexel doctoral student in chemical engineering who worked with Dr. Mutharasan on the new sensor, at the 96th annual meeting of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology.
The sensor features a vibrating cantilever, supported at one end and coated with antibodies. The antibodies are specific to the desired target such as E. coli, anthrax or proteins that are biomarkers for diseases such as prostate cancer. When the target is present in a sample flowing past the sensor, it binds to the cantilever and changes the frequency of vibration so it can be read electronically.
The sensor affixed with antibodies against E. coli can detect as low as four cells per milliliter of solution. A voltage is applied to the ceramic layer, causing it to expand and contract, vibrating the glass sliver. The sensor detects changes in the glass sliver¡¯s resonance frequency (the point where vibration is the greatest) and determines the presence and concentration of E. coli bacteria.
Dr. Mutharasan recently expanded the sensor¡¯s applications to food toxins and biomarkers. A commercial prototype of the sensor is anticipated to be completed in July. Dr. Mutharasan is working with a company that has licensed Drexel¡¯s technology to commercialize the device and expects it to be in the hands of food-safety experts soon.

Experts express confidence in the safety of GM foods
source from: http://www.checkbiotech.org

ST. LOUIS, MO - More thoroughly studied, regulated and understood than any crop or food in history, genetically modified foods and crops are recognized by experts and regulatory authorities worldwide as being as safe as crops and foods produced through traditional methods.
In fact, experts estimate more than 1 trillion meals containing ingredients from biotech crops have been consumed over the last decade with no reliable documentation of any food safety issues for people or animals.
"As a scientist working with biotechnology, I know the scientific side - all the advantages and possibilities," says Dr. Luciana Di Ciero, a plant pathologist at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil who has carefully evaluated the pros and cons of genetic engineering. "As a mother, I can say that I feel very safe with biotechnology. ... I have great faith in this technology."
Dr. Di Ciero is one of eight renowned experts and three farmers worldwide who discuss the safety of genetically modified foods and crops in a new video and podcast available on the Conversations about Plant Biotechnology Web site at http://www.monsanto.com/biotech-gmo. The video captures their confidence in the process used to ensure the safe development of genetically modified crops and the safety of genetically engineered food.
"The EPA, and the USDA, and the Food and Drug Administration have a very precise protocol through which a scientist or a private company needs to go to assure safety," describes Dr. Roger Beachy, a plant pathologist and president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in the United States. "The degree of scrutiny that each variety will receive is enormous."
The experts featured in the video are a representation of the more than 25 Nobel Prize winners and 3,400 prominent scientists that have expressed their support for the advantages of genetically modified foods and crops as a "powerful and safe" way to improve agriculture and the environment. Numerous international organizations also have endorsed the health and environmental safety of genetically modified crops, including the Royal Society (UK), National Academy of Sciences (USA), the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the European Commission, the French Academy of Medicine, and the American Medical Association.
"Every minute that we sit here, 10 preschool children will die from hunger and malnutrition. ¡¦ If you add that up on an annual basis, it's about six million preschool kids who die unnecessarily. ¡¦ That's not reversible," comments Dr. Per Pinstrup-Andersen, an agricultural economist and H.E. Babcock Professor of Food, Nutrition and Public Policy at Cornell University. "So, we have to compare the benefits with the risks. And even if there were some risks - and we haven't found any yet - ¡¦ they would have to be compared to the benefit of taking that risk."
In addition to this video on the safety of genetically modified foods, visitors to the Conversations about Plant Biotechnology Web site can view videos about the documented benefits of agricultural biotechnology and view individual conversations with approximately 10 experts and more than 30 farmers who discuss their experiences with the technology.
Conversations about Plant Biotechnology is designed to give a voice and a face to the farmers and families who grow GM crops and the experts who research and study the benefits of biotechnology in agriculture. The Web site contains nearly 60 two- to three-minute, extremely candid, straightforward and compelling video segments with the people who know the technology best. The Web site is hosted by Monsanto Company -- a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality.

E. coli fear spurs ground beef recall at Albertsons
The Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 06/05/2007 09:03:16 AM MDT
Source of Article: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_6065281
BOISE, Idaho- The parent company of Albertsons grocery stores in Colorado and several other states said on Monday it was recalling some ground beef products sold in its stores because of possible contamination with E. coli O157:H7.
Most of the products were sold under the Moran's label at Albertsons stores in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming. Albertson's L-L-C said it was issuing the recall in conjunction with one from United Food Group L-L-C, a major meatpacking company with headquarters in Vernon, Calif.
The recalled products had sell-by dates from April 20 through May 7. It included Moran's brand meat sold in 1- to 5-pound varieties under UPC numbers 34779 60501, 34779 60000, 34779 96000, 34779 91000, 34779 60010, 34779 96194, 34779 21117. Also recalled was Albertsons 90/10 Sirloin fresh hamburger patties.

Customers can return recalled products to the store for a full refund or exchange. Customers with questions about the recall can call United Food Group's hotline at 1-800-325-4164.
Symptoms of E. coli poisoning include stomach cramps that may be severe and diarrhea that may turn bloody within one to three days. E. coli sometimes can lead to complications including kidney failure.
A separate recall announced by Supervalu affects meat sold at Albertsons and Save-A-Lot stores in other states.

Virus linked to drinking water
Source of Article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/
OSLO, Norway, May 30 (UPI) -- Health officials in Norway say drinking water may be to blame for a stomach virus that sickened scores of Coastal Voyage passengers.
Three of the Coastal Voyage ships that cruise the west coast of Norway have been hit by the virus, the Aftenposten newspaper said Wednesday
About 200 passengers and crew have fallen ill on board the vessels Midnattsol, Finnmarken and Nordlys in the past two weeks.
"Tests we have taken on board Midnattsol and Finnmarken indicate that systems meant to cleanse the water of virus and parasites function poorly," Tom Arne Hanssen of the government's food safety authority told Aftenposten.
Cruise line officials say they have worked closely with food and health authorities and done major disinfection work on board the ships.

Consumers Still Getting Sick From Tainted Peanut Butter
Reports of Illness Continue, Months after the Recall
By Mark Huffman
ConsumerAffairs.Com
June 1, 2007
Source of Article: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/
The story had faded from the headlines by the beginning of spring, but government health officials say consumers are still getting sick from eating contaminated Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter. Both brands are made by food giant ConAgra.
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention says 628 people in 47 states have been affected by salmonella poisoning from the tainted peanut butter, produced at a Georgia plant. While most of the product has been pulled from store shelves, health officials say some of the recalled jars may still be in consumers¡¯ pantries. The recalled peanut butter can be identified by the product code beginning with 2111 on the lid.
The outbreak was first reported in late January 2007, and by the middle of February the CDC had counted 288 official cases of salmonella poisoning. While the CDC does not officially attribute any deaths to the outbreak, families of at least four elderly consumers say their loved ones died after eating tainted peanut butter. Their deaths are not counted, officials say, because no autopsies were performed.
Eight-one year old Rosie Haskins died February 26. Her family reported to ConsumerAffairs.com that a partially eaten jar of peanut butter was found in her room. The jar had the telltale 2111 stamped on the lid.
The other death reported to ConsumerAffairs.Com was that of 85-year-old Mary Halstead of West Virginia. She died after her son made her a peanut butter sandwich -- her favorite food.
"Dumb old me, I made her a peanut butter sandwich at home and brought it to her at the hospital, because it was just about the only thing she wanted to eat," Larry Halstead, her son, said. "In no time, she got just 100 percent worse." Halstead said his mother then became semi-comatose and died.
Two other deaths have been unofficially attributed to the tainted peanut butter.
An elderly Chicago-area man, George Baldwin, was said to be in relatively good health just before his death from complications of food poisoning, shortly after he ate a peanut butter sandwich.
"He puts the peanut butter on toast, eats the toast, in six hours he develops fever, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting -- all of which are signs of salmonella poisoning," Baldwin family attorney Don McGarrah said.
A 76-year old Pennsylvania woman, Roberta Barkay of Philadelphia, died in January from complications of food poisoning, and family members contend she too ate peanut butter shortly before her death. The family has hired an attorney who has filed suit against the manufacturer, ConAgra.
While new cases of peanut butter-related salmonella have tapered off, the CDC is warning consumers to be careful. The agency says consumers should carefully examine peanut butter jars on kitchen shelves to make sure the product is not included in the recall.
¡°This outbreak demonstrates the potential for widespread illness from a broadly distributed contaminated product, one that had not previously been implicated in a food-borne illness outbreak in the United States,¡± the CDC said in a statement.

ReaX¢â 'Lab-in-a-Bead' Technology Makes PCR Easy, Even for Untrained Operators
source from: rapidmicrobiology.com

Q Chip, a leading developer of microencapsulation solutions, has launched ReaX¢â Lab-in-a-Bead - an innovative gel-based bead for effortless PCR. The new ReaX Mastermix Lab-in-a-Bead range encapsulates all the reagents required to perform PCR in a single dose within the bead. This allows even untrained operators to set up PCR reactions in any thermal cycler system, whilst giving highly reproducible results. PCR reactions can now be easily taken out of the laboratory, opening up field based applications ranging from bacterial detection to DNA-based security tagging ? effectively ushering in the era of 'Lab-in-a-Bead' technology.

Available in a variety of ready-to-use formats, ReaX Mastermix beads completely standardise and streamline set-up, and the subsequent PCR reactions are very robust and highly reproducible. They can be used for end-point, qPCR and RT-PCR and with multiple fluorescent chemistries (e.g. SYBR Green, TaqMan). ReaX Mastermix beads can be stored and shipped at either 40C or ambient temperature due to their highly stable nature. In addition, ReaX Mastermix beads can reduce the overall test costs due lower repeat rates and less reagent wastage.

"The launch of ReaX comes on the back of 2 years research and development¡± said Q Chip's Product Manager Dr Nanette Bartram. "ReaX will enable Q Chip to enter the PCR reagent market with a competitive product which offers customers complete flexibility over existing liquid or lyophilized reagents as well as maximum convenience, reproducibility and reliability."

As well as the off-the-shelf ReaX range, Q Chip is also launching the ReaX Custom Bead Service whereby customers can specify exactly which primers, Taq polymerase (including Hot Start enzymes) and fluorescent chemistry they require in a ReaX bead and Q Chip manufactures these to the precise specifications. The ReaX Custom Bead Service provides customers with a high quality end-product and service tailored specifically to their individual needs.


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