recall could cost $35m
want to know food origin
But wanting to know and going out of their way to check where a product comes from are two different things. Checking the country of origin seems to be on the minds of consumers at least some of the time ? 37% said they check most of the time and 34% said they check occasionally. While 11% said they always make sure to check to see where a product comes from, 15% rarely do and 4% never check.
Despite overwhelming support for labeling, 5% disagree with mandatory country of origin labeling for foods. Of those, nearly two-thirds (63%) said compliance would be too costly and it would drive up food prices. Another 27% said it doesn¡¯t matter what country food comes from that is sold in the U.S., and 2% believe such labeling could be unfair to foreign competitors.
Many food shoppers (70%) said they are willing to pay more for produce, poultry, meat, seafood and other food products if they were from the U.S. But how much are shoppers willing to pay to know their food doesn¡¯t come from a foreign country? One in three (34%) would pay up to 10% more for U.S. food and nearly half (46%) would be willing to pay from 10% to 25% more. Just 11% would be willing to pay 25% or more for U.S. foods over cheaper imported foods.
Not everyone is so willing to pay more for food just because it doesn¡¯t come from outside the U.S.?15% wouldn¡¯t be willing to pay more for food from America. Of those, 38% said they wouldn¡¯t be willing to pay more because cost is the most important factor in making their food choices, while another 27% said it doesn¡¯t matter what country the food they buy comes from.
These findings are included in the August issue of Zogby¡¯s American Consumer newsletter, which focuses on how Americans feel about imported goods, product safety, food labeling and many other issues and is available now at www.zogby.com.
The Zogby Interactive survey of 4,508 adults nationwide was conducted July 17-19, 2007 and carries a margin of error of +/- 1.5 percentage points. Other findings from the online survey include:
90% of Americans want the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to hire additional inspectors to increase inspection of food imports
96% said they take recall warnings seriously.
Most Americans (67%) are satisfied with how the U.S. government gets the message out to the public about recalled products, but 30% believe the government¡¯s efforts are lacking.
Overall, nearly half (48%) said they don¡¯t know where the majority of the vegetables, fruits and nuts they consume originate.
While nearly two-thirds (65%) of American adults said they go out of their way to buy local produce and other food products, 32% said it isn¡¯t a priority.
$5.5 MILLION FOR RISK AND PREVENTION RESEARCH OF E. COLI O157:H7 IN FRESH
"This research will help producers identify the sources of E. coli O157:H7 and ways to avoid contamination," Johanns said. "Developing new research and prevention tactics for the grower will contribute to assuring produce safety for consumers."
USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSRES) are providing the funding to ARS researcher Rob Mandrell and his collaborators at the University of California to continue their research in the Central Valley of California. Over the next three years ARS will contribute $5 million and CSREES will contribute $470,999. In 2006, CSREES awarded Mandrell and colleague Robert Atwill at University of California-Davis $1.2 million to do research in the Salinas Valley.
Mandrell will address where E. coli O157:H7 originates, how it survives on the plant, and what factors lead to an increase in produce-related outbreaks. Potential risk factors include animals, land practices, packing and processing processes and wildlife.
Additionally, the project will feature workshops and publications to educate the animal operators, natural resource managers and the public about animal diseases that can be transferred to humans, how animal waste can contaminate water sources, and beneficial management practices for maintaining and improving water runoff quality.
Outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 illness associated with fresh lettuce or spinach have been associated with pre-harvest contamination.
CSREES' portion of the grant was funded through the National Research Initiative (NRI). The NRI is the largest peer reviewed, competitive grants program in CSREES. Its purpose is to support research, extension, and education grants that address key problems of national, regional, and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of agriculture.
CSREES advances knowledge for
agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities
by supporting research, education, and extension programs in the Land-Grant
University System and other partner organizations. For more information,
visit http://www.csrees.usda.gov. ARS is the USDA's chief in-house scientific
Mucci has several theories as to why acrylamide appears to be a carcinogen in animals but not in humans. The animals in the previous studies were exposed to acrylamide levels 1,000 to 100,000 times higher than found in the human diet.
It's also possible that humans
may detoxify acrylamide at levels found in the diet.
prevalent in unpasteurized milk
Milk from larger herds and farms producing Grade A milk appeared to have a larger risk of having detectable C. burnetii, but no clear risk factors emerged to predict which farms were more likely to have L. monocytogenes in their milk. Both bacteria were broadly distributed geographically.
Presenter Dr. Suzanne Gibbons-Burgener, from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, noted that on-farm use of raw milk is legal and common, and that the sale of unpasteurized milk is legal in 28 states, though California, for example, requires a warning label.
In some states that ban the sale of raw milk, including Wisconsin, advocates of what they call Real Milk have over the past 10 years organized "Cow-Share" programs. Under these programs, consumers who want unpasteurized dairy products circumvent such bans by buying shares in a cow or herd.
A poster presentation at the meeting by the Public Health Agency of Canada reported an outbreak of Campylobacter infection in Ontario in June that was traced to cheese made at a local farm from unpasteurized milk. About two dozen people became ill and eight sought medical help.
Gibbons-Burgener pointed out that raw milk can also harbor and promote the growth of E. coli, Listeria, Campylobacter and Coxiella, and that Listeria thrives at refrigerator temperatures.
Although Coxiella probably doesn't survive the human digestive process, and more than 50 percent of Coxiella seroconversions in humans are asymptomatic, C. burnetii can, nonetheless, cause Q fever in humans. Dr. Gibbons-Burgener noted that in 2004, an elderly Wisconsin dairy farmer developed acute Q fever after assisting with calving.
"Both bacteria continue to pose a public health threat," she told Reuters Health, and recommended that physicians warn their immunocompromised patients about the risks of consuming raw milk.
The greater risk for raw milk drinkers is L. monocytogenes, she told Reuters, but added that the occupational risk of Coxiella infection, especially through possible aerosolization during milking, should be noted.
Q fever is characterized by the sudden onset of one or more of the following symptoms: high fever, severe headache, general malaise, muscle soreness, confusion, sore throat, chills, sweats, non-productive cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and chest pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
The fever usually lasts for 1 to 2 weeks, and weight loss may persist for some time. Thirty to fifty percent of patients with symptomatic infection will develop pneumonia, and some will develop hepatitis. Most patients will recover to good health within several months without any treatment.
L. monocytogenes, has recently been recognized as an important public health problem in the United States. It primarily affects pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems.
A person with listeriosis has fever, muscle aches, and sometimes gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions can occur. Infected pregnant women may experience only a mild, flu-like illness; however, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth, premature delivery, or infection of the newborn.
24-Hour Web Feature To Answer Technical and Policy Questions
be pasteurized as of September, says USDA
The Almond Board of California (ABC) earlier this month recommended a six-month extension to the implementation of the new requirements, citing a lack of adequate capacity in place to meet treatment needs.
However, USDA said in a letter to ABC last week that while it understands the industry's concerns, it is placing priority on ensuring the safety of almonds, which have in the past five years been linked to two salmonella outbreaks in Canada and Oregon.
The agency determined that under the current regulations, almonds may be treated by facilities whose treatment processes have completed validation testing by an ABC-approved process authority, but have not yet completed their final report submissions to the Board's review panel.
According to ABC's chief executive officer Richard Waycott, "this interpretation by USDA will make sufficient capacity available to move forward with implementation of the pasteurization plan".
According to ABC data, 503m pounds of almonds would be subject to mandatory treatment under the regulation. Current validated capacity is at 379m pounds. An additional 267m pounds of capacity is in the review process.
The final rule was published in the Federal Register in March this year. The regulations, which impact all almonds originating from California, mean that no almonds may be handled or used in processed goods unless they meet the pasteurization requirements.
The ruling is a result of a voluntary 'Action Plan' proposed by ABC. The industry group, a federal marketing order, aims to promote California's almonds, but also funds food safety and quality projects.
Other concerns expressed by ABC when it requested an extension to the treatment implementation was the managing of the anticipated bumper crop of 1.33bn pounds, supplying the inshell and raw food markets, managing untreated carry-in inventory, and complying simultaneously with new aflatoxin measures for almonds shipped to the European Union.
"While we understand the Board's concerns, USDA also wants to ensure that the quality and safety of almonds and almond products in the marketplace continue to improve. These goals require measures to help reduce the potential of a third salmonella outbreak linked to almonds," wrote the agency in a letter to ABC.
"We understand many challenges will face the industry as it makes this transition. This is a new regulation, and USDA will continue to work closely with the industry as it moves towards full implementation of the salmonella treatment program."
However, the ruling has resulted in a backlash from handlers and processors, that claim the new production methods are too expensive, and will compromise their business, as well as from consumer groups, that state it is misleading to market pasteurized almonds as 'raw'.
In addition, some groups have expressed concerns that the regulation may cause US almond users to turn to European-grown almonds, attracted by low pricing and the guarantee of non-pasteurized availability.
Under the new food safety program, almonds must be processed to achieve a minimum 4-log reduction in salmonella bacteria. Log reduction describes how much bacterial contamination is reduced by a treatment process. A 4-log reduction decreases bacteria by a factor of 10,000 (4 zeros).
Exemptions include shipments to certain approved manufacturers within the US, Canada or Mexico, or to certain export markets. In this case, all almonds must be labeled 'unpasteurized', to indicate that they require further treatment.
Botulism put scare in grocer
For now, officials involved
hope those efforts, combined with the manufacturer's own efforts to publicize
the mid-July recall, will keep anyone from getting sick.
Technology will also play a part in the next step. After years of relying on an old-fashioned phone tree to get word out to hundreds of store managers, the grocer is eight to 12 weeks away from turning on an automated system that will call stores with a recorded message and require them to punch in a code acknowledging they received it. The plan is to make it easy for managers to quickly pull up the recall information on their computers, replacing the notebooks of faxed recall data used now.
To speed its own awareness of problems, the grocer several months ago began subscribing to Foodtrack, a service that constantly scouts various sources to learn about product recalls. Ms. Glatter said Foodtrack sent the alert on Castleberry's more than nine hours before the Food and Drug Administration's notice came.
Convinced one key to making recalls effective is preventing them, Giant Eagle sent a letter to its vendors in June asking all of its suppliers to detail where the ingredients for their products were coming from. The goal is to ensure that a reliable third party is auditing the production process, something that can be more challenging in countries such as China.
Finally, Ms. Glatter hasn't given up on an idea that came when she was talking with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt as he toured a Giant Eagle store in northeastern Ohio two weeks ago. He's part of a commission appointed by President Bush to study import safety.
When Ms. Glatter told the secretary about her failed proposal to call customers to warn them about the can recall, he asked if the grocer could have sent out e-mails. She didn't think that would be effective, in part because the company doesn't request e-mail addresses and because people might think they were being spammed.
But it did spark the idea of setting up an automated system, like the one that will alert stores, that would call Advantage Card users when something they bought was recalled. Ms. Glatter estimated 90 percent of the company's shoppers have the loyalty cards. "We could actually reach a lot of people," she said.
The staff is investigating the potential for such a system and, so far, it looks workable. She knows there may be some who worry the grocer might abuse its power to call them at home, but she thinks they could be convinced by the fact that the goal is to keep them safe.
Even now, some consumers might still have some of the affected Castleberry's cans in the pantry. "You could still miss a few. It's possible."
International Conference for Food Safety and Quality (Nov.
6-7, 2007), South San Francisco Convention Center
Salmonella Recall: Health food that could make your Child Sick
Given that Veggie Booty was
marketed as a natural, healthy snack food for children, it's hardly surprising
that almost all the reported cases of salmonella poisoning were in children,
and all under the age of 10. Most were toddlers, and many had to be hospitalized.
FSIS To Conduct
Further information on the survey is available on the FSIS Web site, at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FSISNotices/51-07.pdf
guide to advise on harmful pathogens
According to the book's editor, Karl Matthews, people should be encouraged to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, as they are necessary for a healthy diet and help prevent heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
However, this also means that food processors have to be even more vigilant.
Around 12 per cent of food-borne illnesses are linked to micro-organisms in fresh produce, Matthews said, a number which is set to increase as consumption rises.
However, there are many unknowns in regards to what causes these micro-organisms to damage human health, he said.
One reason for the increase in food pathogens is the "globalisation of the food supply", he claims, which has arisen due to consumer demand for fresh produce all the year round.
Fruit and vegetables are consequently flown around the world over long periods of time, giving harmful pathogens an opportunity to breed during transit. The book also explores the history and causes behind well-known outbreaks of diseases, such as when large outbreaks of Salmonella in the US were linked with contaminated tomatoes in the 1990s. The book examines several remedies to potentially harmful micro-organisms, including UV light treatment, edible coatings, irradiation and harvest disinfecting systems. It is also the only publication to devote a chapter to the safety of seed sprouts, according to the publishers, ASM press. Publication: Microbiology of Fresh Produce. Editor: Karl R. Matthews. Publisher: ASM Press.
freshness sensor hailed
developing vaccine for E coli poisoning
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