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Internet J.Food Safety
10/18/2002
Issue 27

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DANGEROUS CHICKENS
October 16, 2002
New York Times
Editorial
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/16/opinion/16WED2.html
This week's recall of 27.4 million pounds of cooked turkey and chicken products might have been avoided if, according to this editorial, the Bush administration had instituted rules designed to protect consumers from a dangerous bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes. The editorial says that the recall, by the Pilgrim's Pride Corporation, the largest in Agriculture Department history, followed an outbreak of Listeria in seven Northeastern states this summer that killed seven people and caused illness in dozens of others. After government inspectors found a Listeria infestation at the company's plant in Franconia, Pa., Pilgrim's Pride recalled all its cooked deli products made from May 1 to Oct. 11 and halted production at the plant. The Agriculture Department now says Pilgrim's Pride was a likely source of the summer outbreak. Even now, however, the department appears in no hurry to activate safety standards that could reduce the risk of future outbreaks. Under industry influence the administration has declined to adopt meat safety regulations readied for action at the end of the Clinton era. Had it moved forward with the rules, health and consumer groups argue, the Listeria infestation, as well as the subsequent illnesses and deaths, might have been avoided. The Clinton regulations would establish
a mandatory testing regimen for Listeria monocytogenes. Though not foolproof, such testing, done with sufficient frequency, would, the editorial says, reduce the risk of contamination. At the least, the department must end misleading labeling practices. Packaged deli and luncheon
meats now labeled "cooked" and "ready-to-eat" can have dire consequences for pregnant women, the elderly and immune-suppressed people who eat them without reheating; the labels should say so.
The Agriculture Department promises to convene a group of experts to study Listeria further. Although more study can't hurt, it is time that the department treated the entire matter with a sense of urgency. Most people with a healthy immune
system can fight off the bacteria with little problem. Others are not so lucky.

Salmonella in eggs warning
(Filed: 15/10/2002)
eet=/portal/2002/10/15/ixport.html
A warning about salmonella in eggs was issued today after two outbreaks of food poisoning which have already claimed one life. The unusual strain of salmonella, enteritidis PT 14b, has made more than 150 people ill since early September in the south east and north west of England. One person infected by the bug died in Cheshire over the weekend.Today the Food Standards Agency issued a hygiene alert reminding food businesses to use pasteurised eggs in products that are ready to eat or only lightly cooked before eating. In Cheshire, a bakery was using ordinary eggs in products that were not cooked. It had now stopped this practice, said the FSA. Salmonella in samples from a London patisserie had indicated a risk of cross contamination. Both businesses supplied products to a number of outlets in their region. Experts are still working to positively identify the sources of the outbreaks. But a common factor in both was the use and handling of ordinary eggs by local food firms. Dr Roger Skinner, head of the FSA's Microbiological Safety Division, said: "The sources of these outbreaks are not yet clear, but over 150 people have been taken ill and one person has died. It is possible that there is a link between these cases and the use or handling of eggs. "Food businesses need to remember that they should use pasteurised egg in their raw or lightly cooked products, particularly if their products may be eaten by vulnerable groups such as the elderly or pregnant women. They could be putting people at risk if they do not follow that advice. Good practice in the handling and use of ordinary eggs helps avoid cross-contamination. It is also important to remember that the salmonella bug can be easily killed if eggs are properly cooked before use." The FSE warning will be a haunting reminder to Edwina Currie of the great salmonella in eggs debacle in the 1980s. In 1988 Mrs Currie, the a junior health minister, said most egg production in Britain was infected with salmonella. Her comments sparked a public outcry and two weeks later she was forced to resign. By early 1989 the link between eggs and salmonella poisoning was proved beyond doubt. Two million chickens were slaughtered, but this had little effect. Today one in every 750 eggs bought by the public is believed to be salmonella infected.
People can avoid being poisoned by the bacterium by cooking eggs thoroughly and avoiding cross-contamination by washing knives, cutting surfaces and plates.

USDA-monitored recalls in 2002 already surpassing 2001 totals
by Robert White on 10/17/02 for www.meatingplace.com
Although it is still only October, the number of recalls at USDA-inspected meat and poultry plants has already exceeded last year's total, according to the department's own data. The recall records for 2001 list 86 recalls from inspected plants for the entire year. Recalls this year reached that level in early October. Matt Baun, a spokesman at USDA's recall center, added that there were also about 10 USDA recalls from retail establishments last year. As in years past, the recalls vary greatly in size, but several 2002 recalls have been significant, with at least three cases involving millions of pounds of product. Not surprisingly, the discovery of E. coli O157:H7 and listeria in product prompted the largest recalls, although improper labeling or undeclared ingredients also forced recalls on a variety of products, as well. Complete recall information is available on the USDA Website by logging onto USDA.gov
Robert White is a food-safety and quality consultant at VCP&A Engineering in Springdale, Ark., and can be reached at rwhite@vcaw.com

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Food Safety Daily News
10/17. FOOD SAFETY TIPS FOR HALLOWEEN: CHILDREN SHOULDN'T SNACK
10/17. FOOD SAFETY STORAGE TIPS CAN HELP ORGANIZE YOUR KITCHEN
10/17. PORTLAND, MAINE, DAIRY TO ADOPT NEW FOOD-SAFETY PROGRAM
10/17. THAI SHRIMP PRODUCERS WANT EUROPEAN UNION TO ABIDE BY OWN RU
10/17. RESTAURANTS, MARKET SELLERS HIT WITH FINES
10/17. PUBLIX SUPERMARKETS SCORES A FIRST IN EDUCATING KIDS ABOUT F
10/17. COMMENTARY: BLAME THE PUBLIC HEALTH SYSTEM FOR PROLONGING LI
10/17. DANGEROUS CHICKENS
10/17. MEAT PLANT'S PRODUCTS ARE SEEN AS PROBABLE SOURCE OF BACTERI
10/17. USDA-monitored recalls in 2002 already surpassing 2001 total
10/17. USDA accused of not acting fast enough in Pilgrimí»s Pride re
10/17. BOE OK's strict food allergy guidelines
10/17. Less Allergenic Soybeans
10/17. UW scientists line up behind CWD plan
10/17. USDA accused of footdragging in listeria link
10/17. Ion channels allow bacteria to resist stomach acid
10/17. Probiotics slash E. coli incidence
10/16. DQ expands burger test
10/16. Irish body warns about E.coli in beef
10/16. Surebeam shares soar amid food safety concerns
10/16. Hy-Vee Supermarkets to Sell Irradiated Fresh Ground Beef Thr
10/16. Defenders Follow Up: Grocery Store Investigations
10/16. More county restaurants receive `A' rating
10/16. Parents of Sickened Children Ask for Tighter Rules on Food
10/16. Foodgrade security gaining attention with carriers, shippers
10/16. New EU rules to end ban on GM food
10/16. Price Chopper to Sell Irradiated Ground Beef
10/16. Reform of food safety legislation vital, says commission
10/16. USDA Strengthens Import Inspection System
10/16. Eggs warning to caterers after death
10/16. Bakeries probe after salmonella death
10/16. When It Comes To Food Safety at Tailgates, Americans Aren't
10/16. Salmonella in eggs warning
10/15. FOOD SAFETY WEEK THEME TO REDUCE FOOD POISONING RISK FOR SCH
10/15. FDA AND IRRADIATION LABELS
10/15. HOW 9/11 CHANGED OUR ROLE AS FOOD MICROBIOLOGISTS
10/15. WEANING MARK BARLEY OFF LIFE SUPPORT THIS WEEK, HIS WIFE SAY
10/15. EATERY POSTING SYSTEM IS MISLEADING
10/15. SHOULD RESTAURANTS GET A YELLOW CARD?
10/15. COMMISSION ADOPTS FIRST EU REPORT ON IRRADIATED FOOD
10/15. MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE TO PROTECT CONSUMER HEALTH FROM RISK O
10/15. Gene Jugglers Take to Fields for Food Allergy Vanishing Act
10/15. Food For Thought: Two Case Studies
10/15. Local groceries comply with deli meat recall
10/15. Hy-Vee Supermarkets to Sell SureBeam(R) Processed Fresh Grou
10/15. U.N. Food Envoy Questions Safety of Gene Crops
10/15. Groups blame USDA for meat illness
10/15. Still no agreement on Salmonella control in the EU

_________________________________________________________________________
Recall Summary
10/17. Minor E. coli-driven ground beef recalls hit East, West Coas
10/15. LISTERIA, MEAT - AUSTRALIA (02)
10/15. Local groceries comply with deli meat recall
10/15. Pennsylvania Firm Has Recalled Ground Beef Oct 14
10/15. Pilgrimí»s Pride as Wampler Foods Has Recalled 27.4 million pounds of R-T-E Poultry
10/15. California Store Has Recalled Ground Beef Oct 14
10/15. Pennsylvania Firm Recalls Ground Beef For Possible E. coli O157:H7
10/15. Pennsylvania Firm Expands Recall Of Poultry Products For Possible Listeria

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OUTBREAKS

SALMONELLA OUTBREAK: NO TRACE OF BUG AT BAKERY
October 16, 2002
PA News
Will Batchelor
Chairman Edward Chatwin, the head of the 80-year-old UK family bakery business being investigated over a salmonella outbreak was cited as saying today that no traces of the bug had been found on his premises, adding, "The environmental health office has carried out tests in a number of manufacturers' and retailers' premises, including ours. All tests carried
out in our premises have proved negative. We are continuing to work with the EHO and are following every precaution, including only using pasteurised eggs, to ensure that all our products reach the high standards our customers
have grown to expect." The story says that more than 150 people in south-east and north-west England have been struck by a rare strain of salmonella since early September and an elderly man from Cheshire died at the weekend.
Chatwins bakery, based in Nantwich, Cheshire, is being investigated by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) after it was discovered the firm was using ordinary eggs in products that would be uncooked or lightly cooked.

MEAT PLANT'S PRODUCTS ARE SEEN AS PROBABLE SOURCE OF BACTERIA
October 16, 2002
New York Times/AP/ Knight-Ridder Tribune
WASHINGTON ?Stephen Cohen, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's food and safety and inspection service, was cited as saying Wed. that turkey and chicken products of the Pilgrim's Pride Corporation are
likely to have been a source of the listeria that caused seven deaths in seven Northeast states, adding, "We found the outbreak strain in three samplings we took but we're continuing the investigation. This is a
significant discovery but we cannot say this is conclusive." Representative Nita M. Lowey, Democrat of New York, was cited as writing Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman asking that she adopt regulations to better control listeria that were initiated by President Bill Clinton, adding, "It is a serious public health threat." Three people in counties around New York City have died in the recent outbreak. Mr. Cohen said that while the deadly strain was found in the Wampler plant in Franconia, Pa., his investigators had not yet found the strain in the meat products. Richard Cogdill, the chief financial officer of Pilgrim's Pride, was cited as saying on Monday that Agriculture Department inspectors tested the
Franconia plant daily and approved its cleanliness. He said the plant would remain closed until the inspectors completed their investigation and assured that no more listeria bacteria were found. Felicia Nestor, of Public Citizen's Government Accountability Project and an author of a report on government testing of ground beef, was cited as saying
the Agriculture Department had failed to do the testing necessary to continue the nation's traditionally high standards of food safety. Tom Skinner, spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was cited as saying a strain of the potentially fatal bacteria that was found in a drain at the Wampler Foods plant in Franconia, Pa., is a genetic match of the strain that caused the outbreak, adding, "Turkey deli meat from this plant is the most likely source of this outbreak."
The outbreak is blamed for at least seven deaths and 39 illnesses in the Northeast since early summer.
The nation's largest meat recall left consumers and retailers wary yesterday as workers at the closed Montgomery County plant scrubbed machinery to remove potentially deadly listeria bacteria. Helen Smith, a retiree from Quakertown, was quoted as saying, "I'm not really a lunch meat eater, but I won't be buying Wampler now," as she shopped at the Clemens Family Market in Conshohocken, which recently pulled Wampler's products from shelves at its 19 stores in the region. As Lisa Lamason of Lafayette Hill loaded her groceries and baby into a minivan, she was cited as saying the listeria contamination indicated her policy against purchasing processed meats. Pilgrim's Pride chief executive officer David Van Hoose, who went to Franconia from the company's Texas headquarters, was cited as saying that workers at the Wampler plant yesterday were "scrubbing walls and breaking some of the equipment down to its most basic level to make sure it's thoroughly cleaned" with disinfectants. The bacteria were detected in conveyor-belt and drainage areas of the plant, though Van Hoose said it could be present elsewhere, too. Catherine Cutter, a food safety extension specialist at Pennsylvania State University, was cited as saying that animals can carry the bacteria without Getting sick. If meat is cooked to 160 degrees, the bacteria will be killed, Cutter said. However, in processing plants, listeria can find its way back into the
cooked product before it is packaged, adding, "It likes cold and damp areas, which can be a problem in certain food-processing facilities. If you have good sanitation, you can reduce the likelihood of listeria getting into the
product after cooking." The Franconia facility mainly takes raw, deboned turkeys and cooks them with marinades and spices before packaging and shipping them to supermarkets and food distributors. The company now plans to introduce Pasteurization technology to the plant,Van Hoose said. That involves killing off bacteria by heating the poultry to
about 165 degrees and then immediately cooling it."By [recalling poultry products] all the way back to May, what we did was
[use] an abundance of caution to protect the public," Van Hoose said. "The truth of it is, I would eat every pound that we're bringing back."Neil Fishman, director of the Department of Health-Care Epidemiology and Infection Control at the University of Pennsylvania Health Center, was cited as saying that there are six bacterial species of listeria; one of them,
listeria monocytogenes, causes human illnesses, there are at least 13 strains of listeria monocytogenes.

Clarification on Northeast listeria outbreak
by Bill McDowell on 10/16/02 for www.meatingplace.com
In covering the recent listeria outbreak in eight northeastern states, as well as the subsequent recall of 27.4 million pounds of ready-to-eat turkey deli products by Pilgrim's Pride (see Wampler Foods expands R-T-E poultry recall to record 27.4 million pounds, Daily News, Oct. 14, 2002), several media outlets, including the Associated Press, Reuters and The Meatingplace.com, have reported widely varying numbers as to the extent and toll of the outbreak.The confusion stems from counting a number of other listeria cases that appeared in the region during the same period that the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta has since determined are unrelated to the recalled deli meat. According to CDC, the outbreak in question has resulted in seven deaths and 46 illnesses. Following is text from the press release issued by CDC detailing those affected:"The affected patients live in 8 states: Pennsylvania (14 cases), New York (11 cases in New York City, 7 in other locations), New Jersey (5 cases), Delaware (4 cases), Maryland (2 cases), Connecticut (1 case), Michigan (1 case), and Massachusetts (1 case). Twenty-eight patients were male and 18 were female. Fifteen patients were age 65 or above, 14 patients were age 1 to 64 years and had an immunocompromising medical condition, seven others were pregnant, and three were neonates; six patients were age 1 to 64 years and were not pregnant or known to have an immunocompromising condition. Of the seven patients who died, six had immunocompromising conditions (three of these patients were also age 65 or older), and one was a neonate. The most recent patient became ill on September 30."In addition to the patients whose illnesses have been confirmed as part of the outbreak, CDC and state and local health departments have learned about other cases of listeria infection in the same region during the outbreak time period. DNA fingerprinting has shown that strains from 64 patients in these same states are different from the outbreak strain and 18 of these patients have died; these illnesses are part of the "background" of sporadic listeria infections and are likely due to a variety of different foods..." All articles on The Meatingplace.com have been updated to reflect the most recent CDC numbers.


CDC Links Pilgrim's Pride Meat to Listeria Outbreak

Tue Oct 15, 7:47 PM ET
By Randy Fabi
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Contaminated deli-style turkey made by Pilgrim's Pride Corp. was the "most likely source" of a listeria outbreak that has caused at least seven deaths, three miscarriages and 46 illnesses in the U.S. Northeast, federal health officials said on Tuesday. Environmental tests at the Pilgrim's Pride Franconia, Pennsylvania, plant, found the listeria strain linked to illnesses in eight states in the floor drains, said Tom Skinner, spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web sites). "This finding, coupled with other information gathered to date, suggest turkey deli meat from this plant is the most likely source responsible for this outbreak," Skinner told Reuters in a telephone interview. Pilgrim's Pride -- the No. 2 U.S. poultry producer -- on Sunday launched the nation's largest meat recall in history, withdrawing 27.4 million pounds of fresh and frozen ready-to-eat turkey and chicken products from the market. Most of that was purchased nationally at grocery stores and restaurants and already consumed, the company said. The company, based in Pittsburgh, Texas, had no immediate comment on CDC's findings. It's stock closed up 80 cents to $6.08 on Tuesday. The Atlanta-based CDC, along with the U.S. Agriculture Department, is investigating a total of 120 listeria cases, which include 23 deaths, that first emerged in early September. CDC said 46 cases so far, mainly in the Northeast, have been linked to the same strain. The company halted production at its Pennsylvania plant, about 25 miles north of Philadelphia, and recalled meat products it made between May 1 and Oct. 11. Richard Cogdill, the company's chief financial officer, said earlier on Tuesday it hoped to reopen the meat processing plant sometime on Wednesday. But before the plant can return to operation, USDA said, inspectors must approve an industry-submitted plan detailing how the company was improving its food safety system. Steve Cohen, spokesman for USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, said the department had not yet approved the plan. Officials started investigating the Northeast listeria outbreak in early September. Illnesses have been reported in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut, Michigan and Massachusetts. Eating food contaminated with listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, leading to miscarriages and stillbirths, as well as potentially deadly infections in those with weak immune systems. Separately, USDA announced late on Tuesday it will strengthen its reinspection program for meat and poultry imports. The new system, which has been in use with Canada, will focus on a foreign country's inspection system as a whole rather than on individual plants. "This new approach to import inspection will provide a more accurate overview of foreign inspection systems and more quickly pinpoint problems when they occur," said Dr. Garry L. McKee, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service administrator
.

10/17. SALMONELLA OUTBREAK: NO TRACE OF BUG AT BAKERY
10/17. MEAT PLANT'S PRODUCTS ARE SEEN AS PROBABLE SOURCE OF BACTERI
10/17. Clarification on Northeast listeria outbreak
10/17. CDC Links Pilgrim's Pride Meat to Listeria Outbreak
10/16. Second death in salmonella outbreak Oct 17 2002
10/16. Bakeries probe after salmonella death
10/16. Killer salmonella outbreak in the UK
10/16. FOOD POISONING KILLED HUSBAND
10/15. EAST BAY E. COLI CASES

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USDA/FDA News
FSIS Strengthens Import Inspection System
Positive E. coli Test Results: Updated October 16, 2002
Public Meeting To Address Codex Committee On Food Import And Export Inspection
Plan A Good Defense For Safe Food At Tailgate Parties
National Advisory Committee Concludes Performance Standards Are Important Verification Tools

New Methods
10/17. Less Allergenic Soybeans
10/17. Novel saw cuts BSE contamination risk
10/16. Probiotics slash E. coli incidence
10/15. MANAGING MAD COW DISEASE
10/15. Leading Canadian meat processor installs first North America
10/15. Biomerica Signs Contract to Develop New Food Allergy Test
10/15. Salmonella is team's target

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