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Threat from ¡®new E-coli¡¯
Sarah-Kate Templeton, Health Editor
Source of Article:
A new superbug that scientists believe is brought into Britain through the food chain is infecting about 30,000 people a year, according to government experts.
Research has found that between 10% and 14% of those who are infected with the drug-resistant form of E-coli die within 30 days of catching the bug, which would suggest 3,000-4,200 deaths. This would be double the number of deaths from MRSA.
Unlike traditional forms of E-coli, the drug-resistant strain Extended-Spectrum Beta-Lacta-mase (ESBL) affects healthy young adults as well as the elderly. Doctors say the Health Protection Agency (HPA), the government body responsible for protecting the public from infections, has failed to recognise the scale of the problem and needs to do more to control the spread of the bacteria.
Dr Graham Harvey, consultant microbiologist at Shrewsbury & Telford Hospitals NHS Trust, said: ¡°We need to be concerned about this. It is a significant cause of mortality. It is something that has been missed nationally, and by the HPA in particular. Some form of surveillance needs to be put in place.¡±
Dr Albert Lessing, director of infectious diseases at Heather-wood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Trust in Berkshire, said that two years ago he was treating hardly any cases. Now he sees six cases of E-coli ESBL a day.
¡°In the past month we have seen two men in their fifties with the organism in their blood. Previously, E-coli in the blood of a 50-year-old man was unheard of. We have also seen infections in a couple of women in their late thirties or early forties. This is a new phenomenon which is poorly understood,¡± Lessing said.
The bacterium causes urinary infections but can also lead to blood poisoning. Hospitals can report E-coli ESBL blood infections to the HPA on a voluntary basis, but there is no system to report the more common urinary infections. In the absence of a national surveillance system, concerned doctors at individual hospitals have set up their own recording systems.
Last week Harvey and colleagues, including Professor Peter Hawkey of the HPA West Midlands Public Health Laboratory, presented their research at an international microbiology conference in Chicago, which showed that 14% of people who become infected with E-coli ESBL die within 30 days. HPA scientists estimate there are about 30,000 cases of infection due to ESBL every year in Britain. The scale of the problem will feature in an investigation by Tonight with Trevor McDonald that will be broadcast tomorrow on ITV1.
Professor Peter Collignon, director of the infectious diseases unit and microbiology department at Canberra hospital, Aus-tralia, believed the widespread use of antibiotics in cattle, pigs and chicken had caused drug resistant strains of E-coli to develop in meat and poultry. E-coli ESBL is believed to be brought into Britain through imported chicken, although the link has not been proven.
Doctors try to hold back so-called critically important antibiotics to treat patients with serious diseases for which there are few alternatives. But Collignon, who advises the World Health Organisation on the international spread of E-coli ESBL, said these drugs are being used in the food chain in many parts of the world.
¡°We restrict the use of antibiotics in most people because we know that when we use any antibiotic, resistance develops. We hold back an important group of antibiotics, called third and fourth generation cepha-losporins, for the sickest people. I find it perverse that we are using these types of drugs in food animals,¡± Collignon said.

Does a chemical formed in cooking french fries really cause cancer
September 24, 2007
There is probably no link between levels of acrylamide, a chemical commonly found in certain cooked foods, and breast cancer risk, according to a large, new study presented recently in Boston at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.
Source of Article:
The research, presented by Harvard School of Public Health epidemiologist Lorelei A. Mucci, involved 100,000 women already participating in the ongoing Nurses' Health Study. The researchers administered three separate food intake questionnaires over the 16 years during which they followed the women and correlated their dietary consumption of acrylamide with development of breast cancer. Mucci's previous research had already shown no link between acrylamide and colo-rectal cancer, bladder cancer, and renal cancer. A different study Mucci published in 2005 followed 43,000 Swedish women and also found no link between dietary acrylamide and breast cancer.

"This is good news," said Dr. Michael Thun, who heads epidemiological research for the American Cancer Society. "But I'm sure these studies won't end the concern about acrylamide and cancer because I have never seen concern about an environmental contaminant go away because of two or three studies." On the other hand, he noted, there are other health reasons to avoid lots of french fries, including consumption of excess fat and calories. "If there were the same level of concern about the other health effects of french fries as there has been about acrylamide, we'd all be thinner and healthier."

The concern about acrylamide in the diet surfaced in 2002 when Swedish researchers first reported that acrylamide is formed naturally when foods such as potatoes, which are rich in an amino acid, are cooked at high temperatures in the presence of sugars. Interestingly, said Mucci, boiling potatoes does not raise temperatures enough to form acrylamide, but baking and frying do. Breads and cereal also contain it.

Acrylamide is classified by the World Health Organization and others as a probable human carcinogen. But animal studies used doses 1,000 to 100,000 higher than those in the human diet. At levels humans are exposed by diet, acrylamide "is not sufficient to cause cancer," concluded Mucci.

Spinach recall: 5 faces. 5 agonizing deaths. 1 year later.
Last Year Five People Died From an E. coli Outbreak. What Has Changed Since Then

Spaceflight Can Change Bacteria Into More Infectious Pathogens
Science Daily Space flight has been shown to have a profound impact on human physiology as the body adapts to zero gravity environments.
September 25, 2007
Source of Article:
Now, a new study led by researchers from the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University has shown that the tiniest passengers flown in space -- microbes -- can be equally affected by space flight, making them more infectious pathogens.
"Space flight alters cellular and physiological responses in astronauts including the immune response," said Nickerson, who led a project aboard NASA's space shuttle mission STS-115 (September 2006) involving a large, international collaboration between NASA, ASU and 12 other research institutions. "However, relatively little was known about microbial changes to infectious disease risk in response to space flight."
Cheryl Nickerson and lead author James Wilson, both professors in ASU's School of Life Sciences, have performed the first study of its kind to investigate the effect of space flight on the genetic responses and disease-causing potential, or virulence, of Salmonella typhimurium, the main bacterial culprit of food poisoning.
Their results, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveal a key role for a master regulator, called Hfq, in triggering the genetic changes that show an increase in the virulence of Salmonella as a result of spaceflight. The results of these studies hold potential to greatly advance infectious disease research in space and here on Earth, and may lead to the development of new therapeutics to treat and prevent infectious disease.
To study the effects of space flight, Nickerson and colleagues sent specially contained tubes of Salmonella in an experimental payload aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis. The tubes of bacteria were placed in triple containment for safety and posed no threat to the health and safety of the crew during or after the mission.
During the flight, astronaut Heidemarie M. Stefanyshyn-Piper activated growth of the bacteria in sealed hardware and 'fixed' the cultures after a day of growth to determine changes in gene and protein expression levels.
"The bacterial cultures were taken up into space and activated to grow in a separate compartment of the tubes called the growth chamber," said Nickerson. "The bacteria didn't have access to the growth chamber until Heide pushed down on a plunger which introduced the bacteria into the growth media. Then they were grown for 24 hours, and at the end of 24 hours, Heide pushed down on the plunger again, which either "fixed" the bacteria with chemicals that preserved the gene expression message, or else introduced fresh media to keep the bacteria growing to perform the virulence studies."
more information

Dole, is this the third strike
Posted on September 19, 2007 by E. coli Lawyer
Source of Article:
Watching the most recent version of Dole recalling leafy greens reminded me of something that Tom Ragan, Sentinel staff writer, wrote months ago - Leafy green growers, shippers face three strikes rule
It's three strikes or they're out for growers, shippers or handlers who violate food safety standards designed to prevent future E. coli outbreaks. The new policy is expected to be passed later this month in Sacramento by the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Advisory Board, set up by the industry earlier this year. The stringent policy was outlined Tuesday before hundreds of growers and handlers who gathered at the Salinas Community Center. The three-strikes policy is the backbone to the 150-page agreement, intended to safeguard against another E. coli outbreak like the one that killed three people late last summer and sickened more than 200 others across the country. So far, hundreds of handlers, growers and shippers, an estimated 99 percent of the industry, have signed on to the agreement, and ultimately they will be awarded a "seal of approval" if they follow its chief guidelines.
So, where is the enforcement Dole has had outbreaks in 2005 and 2006. This recall in 2007 seems to add up to three.

Food Safety Act Calls For Inspections on Produce Farms Bill Comes One Year After Massive Spinach Recall
September 20, 2007
Source of Article:
WASHINGTONLegislation introduced today by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) would establish a national program to assure the safety of fresh produce. The introduction of the Fresh Produce Safety Act comes one year after the biggest recall of fresh produce in American history, when spinach contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 sickened 205 people. More than 100 of those were hospitalized, and at least three people died. And just this week, Dole is recalling romaine salad mix after Canadian tests came back positive for E. coli. The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest says that after a year¡¯s worth of hearings in both the Senate and the House, it is time for Congress to act. ¡°Americans should be consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables; instead we are scanning our refrigerators looking for bags to discard,¡± said CSPI food safety director Caroline Smith DeWaal. ¡°These continuing outbreaks and recalls are eroding Americans¡¯ confidence in fresh produce. It¡¯s time for a food safety system that applies the same scrutiny to our farms as we have for other high-risk products like meat and poultry.¡±
The bill would require the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates produce, to assess farms and processing facilities on the basis of risk, and require producers to maintain written hazard control plans. High-risk facilities would be inspected at least once a growing seasona sharp increase from the status quo, where a facility that washes and bags salad greens might only be inspected once every 5 or 10 years. The FDA would also develop standards and practices for manure application, irrigation water, and for excluding domestic animals from fields where produce is grown.
According to a CSPI database of more than 5,000 outbreaks of foodborne illness, produce causes more illnesses than any other category of food. While seafood causes more outbreaks, those outbreaks tend to be much smaller than produce outbreaks. Spinach, tomatoes, berries, lettuces, melons, and many other categories of fruits and vegetables have all been linked to outbreaks of E. coli, Salmonella, or other pathogens many of which are linked back to animal agriculture.
While consumers can certainly help themselves by peeling or washing produce, in many cases, fruits or vegetables are too contaminated and the damage can¡¯t be undone, according to CSPI.
¡°The primary responsibility for food safety has to begin on the farm,¡± DeWaal said. ¡°The voluntary, self-regulatory efforts of the produce industry have been helpful, but not sufficient. Fortunately, many companies and industry trade groups are now welcoming better government regulation in this area.¡±

Food Safety and Quality Related Job Openings
Laboratory Coordinator/QA Supervisor - Bar-S Foods Co Elk City, OK
Director, Quality Assurance / Food Safety - Bar-S Foods Co
Quality Assurance Manager/Auditor Mirab USA Taylor, MI
Quality Assurance Manager - Maglio & Company Glendale, WI
Quality Assurance Technician - Frozen Specialties, Inc. West Haven, CT
Manager, Food Safety Sara Lee Downer¡¯s Grove, IL
Quality Assurance Supervisor (night shift) - The Honickman Group - Baltimore, MD
Food Safety Specialist - America's Second Harvest - Chicago, IL
Food Safety and Quality Related Job Openings

U.S.D.A. launches food safety web site
(, September 19, 2007) by Keith Nunes
Source of Article:
WASHINGTON The Agricultural Research Service (A.R.S.) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has launched a web portal featuring predictive microbiology modeling software designed to assist food processors in their food safety decision-making process.
The P.M.I.P. currently features information on research, regulations and resources related to Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods. In the coming months, it will be expanded to include other pathogen and food combinations. A searchable database allows users to find information that also may be used to develop hazard analysis and critical control point plans to ensure the safety of food processes.
"Scientists, food safety risk managers, researchers and government decision-makers can use this access to predictive modeling tools and food microbiology information," said Edward B. Knipling, administrator of the A.R.S. "The portal is geared toward small and very small processors, but the information it contains will benefit companies of all sizes."
The web site also includes a tutorial section with instructions on using and interpreting predictive models and links users directly to the A.R.S. Pathogen Modeling Program and ComBase. The Pathogen Modeling Program is a tool used by food processing companies around the world. ComBase is an international relational database of predictive microbiology information that contains more than 30,000 datasets describing the growth, survival and inactivation of bacteria under diverse environments relevant to food processing operations.
The P.M.I.P. was developed by A.R.S. scientists at its Wyndmoor, Pa., facility working with colleagues at the U.S.D.A.¡¯s Food Safety and Inspection Service, Rutgers University and Decisionalysis Risk Consultants, Inc., in Canada.
It may be accessed by clicking here or by visiting

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

New Approvals on Mycotoxin Tests! Charm Sciences, Inc. September 24, 2007
Source of Article:
Value added commodities - Charm Sciences, Inc. has received approval from the United States Department of Agriculture's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) on the detection of aflatoxin and DON in more grain commodities than any other test. Lawrence, MA (PRWEB) September 24, 2007 -- Value added commodities - Charm Sciences, Inc. has received approval from the United States Department of Agriculture's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) on the detection of aflatoxin and DON in more grain commodities than any other test. Charm Sciences is pleased to announce a record number of grain commodities approved for the ROSA ¢ç mycotoxin test kits. ROSA (Rapid One Step Assay) technology represents breakthrough advancement in mycotoxin detection by delivering fast, economical, accurate diagnostics for mycotoxins in convenient, one-step strip assays.

The ROSA Quantitative test for aflatoxin has successfully attained the USDA's GIPSA Certificate of Performance (COP) for the detection of total aflatoxin in rye, oats, and distillers dried grains with solubles, which brings the total number of commodities approved to nineteen. The other commodities previously approved for aflatoxin detection include: corn, corn flour, corn germ meal, corn gluten meal, corn meal, corn screenings, corn soy blend, cracked corn, distillers dried grains, flaking corn grits, milled rice, popcorn, rough rice, sorghum, soybeans and wheat.
The ROSA Quantitative test for DON, previously approved for wheat, has successfully attained the USDA's Certificate of Performance (COP) for the detection of DON in nine more commodities: barley, corn, malted barley, milled rice, oats, rough rice, sorghum, wheat flour and wheat midds.
These additional commodities expands the capability for official testing of aflatoxin and DON in the national grain inspection system. In addition to the approved commodities for aflatoxin and DON, five commodities have also been GIPSA approved for zearalenone, including distillers dried grains with solubles. All ROSA mycotoxin tests are optimized for use with the ROSA-M reader, which stores electronic test results for documentation and trend analysis.
Aflatoxins are a group of chemicals produced by certain mold fungi. If not properly monitored or controlled, the mold can produce dangerous mycotoxins that compromise the quality of grains, food and feedstuffs. Aflatoxins are harmful or fatal to livestock and are considered carcinogenic. Fusarium Head Blight is a fungal disease that, under certain conditions, may produce DON (Deoxynivalenol), also known as "vomitoxin," usually in wheat, but can also affect barley, and oats. Livestock are particularly susceptible to the presence of DON in feedstuffs by exhibiting signs of feed refusal

About Charm Sciences, Inc.
Charm Sciences is a world leader in the provision of food safety diagnostics and food safety solutions with a proven track record of innovation and development over the last 30 years. Introduced in 1999, Charm's ROSA lateral flow tests are now the leading residue diagnostic tests employed by food industry worldwide. The ROSA test portfolio covers the "A to Z" in mycotoxins, ranging from aflatoxin to zearalenone. Charm Sciences provides award-winning product support and technical assistance.

Pregnant women told 'eat peanuts to protect your babies from allergies'
19th September 2007 Source of Article:
Mothers who shield their babies from peanut products may be doing more harm than good, a major report will warn next week. It suggests that Britain's allergy epidemic is being fuelled by Government advice which has led many mothers to stop eating peanuts during pregnancy and to avoid giving them to children at an early age. The dramatic findings of a House of Lords committee follow a series of authoritative studies showing that allergy rates are low, or non-existent, in countries where babies are weaned on peanuts.
In contrast, Britain has witnessed a surge in childhood allergies in the last decade, with up to eight per cent of youngsters experiencing a reaction before they go to school.
The science and technology committee's allergy report is expected to call on the department of Health to change its official advice.
Ministers have admitted that their guidelines which state that babies may be at higher risk of developing a nut allergy if the mother or father have a history of asthma, eczema or hay fever may be 'entirely wrong and counter-productive'.
The advice says: "If your baby is in this higher-risk group, you may wish to avoid eating peanuts and peanut products when you're pregnant and breast-feeding."
The Department of Health goes on to recommend that these mothers should avoid introducing peanuts into their child's diet until the age of three.
But some members of the committee have warned the advice may be 'irresponsible' and may even increase the risk of child allergies. The crossbench peer Lord May of Oxford said: "It is quite striking that the increase in peanut allergies is rather in step with the increasing Government advice not to expose tiny children to them. "In Israel, where peanuts are quite commonly found in baby food, there has been no increase in peanut allergies. "That is a fact and the Department of Health needs to take a good hard look at this."
Ministers could change the advice within weeks.
Health minister Ivan Lewis told the committee: "If the advice is entirely wrong and counterproductive and actually damaging people, then we really need to move rather quickly rather than having ongoing incessant reviews.
"We are going to seek the view of the independent expert committee. Having done that, we will then consider whether the existing advice needs updating, refreshing, completely changing, but we need to consider what the advice tells us." In 1999, Britain became the only country in Europe to recommend that pregnant mothers should avoid eating peanuts to reduce the incidence of peanut allergy.
But in the last ten years, the number of primary school children who suffer from nut allergies has doubled to around one in 70.
The vast majority will have the allergy for life and up to seven people die in Britain each year from severe allergic reactions to nuts.
In Africa, and Asia, where peanuts are a staple food and routinely given to young children, rates of peanut allergy are much lower than in the West.
In China, peanut allergies are almost non-existent.
In evidence to the committee Professor Jonathan Hourihane, child allergy expert at Cork University Hospital, said: "In less Westernised parts of the world, such as West Africa, they can eat peanuts at the age of six or eight months without ever developing a peanut allergy.
"Peanut is not the problem all around the world that we have the perception it might be in the UK." Sue Hattersley, of the Food Standards Agency, told peers: "The evidence we are getting from the Jewish children in Israel where they use peanut snacks as weaning food is that, if you have a high-level oral exposure, that actually leads to the development of tolerance whereas if you have just a very low level exposure that may be leading to sensitisation." &bull There are many types of food allergies, but peanut allergies cause more severe symptoms than most.
Reactions can be triggered by exposure to tiny amounts of peanut protein, which is used in many food products from chocolate bars to snacks.
Peanut traces can cause immediate reactions such as hives on the face, blotching around the mouth, choking and wheezing.
A severe reaction known as anaphylaxis can be fatal if not treated immediately.
Current advice recommends avoidance, but scientists now believe that by repeatedly exposing a child's immune system to peanuts the body learns to tolerate the allergens in such products. Over the past few years, doctors have written unprecedented numbers of prescriptions for adrenaline to combat anaphylaxis. A record 153,820 emergency adrenaline injectors were issued in 2005, against 99,325 in 2003 and 25,000 in 1995.

SYSCO Takes Produce Safety Requirements to a Higher Level
Groundbreaking Enhancements Track Products From Field to Plate
September 19, 2007
Source of Article:
HOUSTON, Sept. 19, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- SYSCO Corporation (NYSE:SYY), North America's largest foodservice marketer and distributor, today unveiled an innovative program to extend real-time food safety data to the non-SYSCO brand produce the company offers. SYSCO's self-imposed requirement, which has always been in place for SYSCO and FreshPoint branded products, should reassure customers that they are purchasing products only from growers and shippers who have implemented stringent food safety and traceability processes.

Richard J. Schnieders, chairman and chief executive officer, said, "The safety of the products we distribute is paramount to SYSCO, our FreshPoint specialty produce company, our operating companies and our customers. Our organization has been recognized in the industry as a leader in developing food safety programs for products that are manufactured and processed for our corporation and sold under our brands. Our Quality Assurance team now has developed this program to further protect the safety of all ready-to-eat produce we distribute, whether it is sold under our own brands or any other."

SYSCO's Quality Assurance team of 180 food professionals has been developing the program for the past year. It will focus on two areas:

1) A Third Party Good Agricultural Practices Audit and Harvest
Crew Audit will be extended to include not only SYSCO Brand
suppliers but every grower of ready-to-eat produce that SYSCO
distributes, whether processed or field-packed. This would
include, but not be limited to, lettuce, broccoli, celery,
tomatoes, grapes, herbs, green onions, bell peppers and
berries. It would not include orchard fruit, root crops, nuts
and other produce crops normally cooked prior to consumption,
such as potatoes, eggplant, asparagus, almonds, apples and
yellow onions.
2) The completed audits will be archived in a database managed
by Each supplier and grower will link
their purchase and sale in the database, tracing it from the
field to SYSCO. Starting in January 2008, the database then
will provide an approved purchase list for SYSCO, by product,
indicating that the supplier is in compliance with the

"We will continue to seek other opportunities to enhance and improve the quality of the food distribution network for our industry," Mr. Schnieders said.

SYSCO is the global leader in selling, marketing and distributing food products to restaurants, healthcare and educational facilities, lodging establishments and other customers that prepare meals away from home. Its family of products also includes equipment and supplies for the foodservice and hospitality industries. For the fiscal year 2007, the company generated over $35 billion in sales. For more information about SYSCO visit

Chicken, Beef or Botulism
By Annika Mengisen Staff Reporter 9/19/2007
Source of Article:
It's a bird. It's a plane. It's "something they called chicken ... that tasted like rubber and was ice-cold," says's CEO Tom Clarke when asked to describe the worst in-flight meal he's had. Like most of us, Clarke has fallen ill from plane food and has learned from the experience. He takes business flights an average of three times a month, on which he generally tries to avoid all fish, sticking to salad and fruit with the occasional sandwich.
So whether you're flying the friendly skies of Air France, Delta or Continental, how do you stay friendly to your intestines and waistline

Keep Your Tray Table Stowed
This advice comes from Diana Fairechild, a former Pan Am and United airlines stewardess who has flown 10 million miles in her career.
Her 2004 book Jet Smarter, remains an essential guide to many travelers and businesses, as does her Web site,
Before say you'll starve if you don't chow down that beef with gravy, consider that airlines don't allow the captain and co-pilot to eat the same meal, to lessen the chances of both getting food poisoning, says Fairechild.
Airlines have good reason to be cautious, she says. Airplanes don't have extensive refrigeration, and you can never be sure how long your food has been sitting out on the plane, runway or delivery truck.
Use extra caution when you have a flight delay. Airplane food "now has all the trappings of gourmet, but it's not fresh food," says Fairechild. "Nutrition is low on the list of priorities." As a flight attendant, she says, she witnessed spoiled food and even once a meal dropped on the galley floor, all scooped up and served. Besides the immediate health concerns, food, particularly heavy, fatty airplane meals, is more difficult to digest at high altitudes because the intestines swell and because dry cabin air causes the body to lose water necessary for proper digestion, says Fairechild. When you're at 8,000 feet, "be smart -- don't eat," she advises.

Don't Drink the Water
Request a large bottle of unopened water if you're flying first or business class, says Fairechild.
It may seem an unusual request, she says, but it's a smart one, considering she's witnessed flight crews refilling empty water bottles with tap water from the sink, which often has the warning sign "nonpotable." If you're flying coach, it's a bit more difficult (especially considering the 3-ounce liquid restriction) -- you may have to provide your own, so plan accordingly.

Food is a very personal thing, Fairechild concedes, so if you must have something on the plane for physical or psychological reasons, bring your own.
"Nibble your way across the ocean" with snacks you pack, she recommends. Avoid hard-to-digest foods and stick to carbohydrates, the preference of mountain climbers who must function at high altitudes.
With all that in mind, always ensure you don't go more than five hours without eating, says registered dietitian Susie Bohanan. "After five hours, your blood sugar bottoms out," she says, and reasoning skills are diminished -- not an optimal state for airport navigation. Moreover, you are more likely to overeat when you finally get to your hotel or lunch meeting.

To take the edge off, avoid sugary snacks, which have little staying power and cause your energy to crash. Bohanan recommends sandwiches with condiments on the side, protein bars and pretzels. Susan Nicholson, a registered dietitian and health columnist, likes to make a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread with low-fat mayo before she leaves home. Just keep track of how long your food has been unrefrigerated, she cautions. With perishable foods like eggs and chicken, two hours should be the cutoff.
On the way back, you most likely won't have access to sandwich-making materials. For an easy return-flight snack, eat out the night before and pack your leftovers (which have been kept refrigerated, if necessary).

After the Flight
When you land, immediately schedule your eating patterns to the local meal times, recommends Fairechild, as this will help regulate your body and ease you out of jet lag. In Italy and most European countries, for example, expect to have a very simple breakfast (usually coffee with a pastry), a large lunch as the main meal of the day around 1 p.m., and a lighter evening meal at around 8 p.m. Avoid the temptation to eat a heavy meal in the airport, and stick to healthy options such as fresh fruit or yogurt, if possible. And always stay away from dehydrators such as caffeine and alcohol. If you simply must have that Starbucks, go for a latte instead of straight coffee. At least in the foreseeable future, the skies are the last place that business travelers will find healthy gourmet -- so eat wisely while you're in flight.

Food Firms Want FDA to Oversee Imports
(Washington Post)
By Renae Merle

The country's largest food suppliers, including Kraft Foods, H.J. Heinz and Dole Food, facing congressional food-safety proposals that could cost them millions of dollars a year, proposed yesterday to grant the government more oversight of the industry. The plan, offered by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, covers imported food, the subject of increasing attention from Congress. It would require all importers to develop a plan for assuring the quality of imported foods and give the Food and Drug Administration the power to enforce it. Most companies already have such plans, but the FDA does not have authority over them, according to the group.
The association's proposal would also create a voluntary program that would allow importers to submit testing records, information about their supply chain and other data to the FDA in return for expedited processing at the borders. That would allow the FDA to focus on the riskiest importers, the group said.
The proposal focuses on the increasing amount of food being imported into the United States rather than on domestic supplies. The food producers are following toy manufacturers and others who have proposed stronger self-regulation in the face of criticism from Congress after reports of unsafe goods coming into the country from China, including toys with lead-based paint and tainted pet-food ingredients.
It is reminiscent of voluntary programs advocated by food producers last year after three people died and hundreds were sickened following an outbreak of E. coli from tainted spinach traced to California, said California state Sen. Dean Florez (D).
Like the previous industry efforts, Florez said, the Grocery Manufacturers Association's is "trying to get ahead of the regulation curve," while consumers need more government intervention and inspections. "Once somebody is sick, we think that is much too late," he said. After the E. coli outbreak, large food distributors preferred self-regulation because more government oversight could take years to put in place, they said. On Monday, Dole Food of California recalled 4,530 bags of salad in the United States and 528 bags in Canada after E. coli was found in a sample taken by a Canadian grocery store. No illnesses were reported related to the product, which was distributed in several states, including Illinois, Indiana, Maine and New York. Last month, Metz Fresh of California recalled 68,000 pounds of bagged spinach after a positive test for salmonella.
Concerns over imports have risen since the FDA restricted the import of five types of seafood from China and recalled pet food containing ingredients from China tainted with melamine, an industrial toxin, this year. "Recent events have exposed some weaknesses in the nation's food-safety net," said Sean McBride, the Grocery Manufacturers Association's vice president for communications. "We're not sitting back and waiting for the government to inspect us to a safe food supply." The proposal also calls for more resources for the FDA, a common theme among industry and consumer groups. Importers that do not have food-safety plans would risk having their shipments detained by the FDA, association officials said.
The association's proposals fall short of many of the legislative initiatives under consideration in Congress, including a fee proposed by Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) that could average up to $20 per shipment to bring in the seafood, fruits and vegetables regulated by the FDA. Durbin has said the legislation could raise $200 million a year for the FDA to expand its oversight efforts. Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, has proposed a similar fee. While praising the industry for acknowledging problems with the system, Durbin remains in favor of the fee, which the industry opposes.
And Jean Halloran, director of the Consumer Policy Institute at Consumers Union, said many consumer groups want the FDA to have the authority to mandate recalls. "It is missing things we think are critical," she said.
Rep. Diane DeGette (D-Colo.), vice chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said yesterday that she would continue to push for a single food agency and for giving the government the right to mandate recalls. "My proposal giving the federal government
mandatory recall authority will also encourage industry to establish more-rigorous oversight of their processing and packaging operations," she said. 9-19-07

Botulism Death Reported In New Mexico, Possibly Tied to Castleberry¡¯s Food Company Recall Earlier This Summer Date Published: Monday, September 24th, 2007
Source of Article:
Botulism is being blamed for the death of a New Mexico man, prompting health officials to renew warnings about the Castleberry¡¯s Food Company recall of canned foods earlier this summer. Though there is no way to know for sure if one of the tainted Castleberry¡¯s products was to blame for the man¡¯s death, health officials said that he had eaten some of the recalled food before becoming ill. The 52-year-old man, whose identity is being withheld, was hospitalized with botulism poisoning on July 26, and died about 6 weeks later.
in July, four people in Texas and Indiana became ill after eating Castleberry¡¯s botulism-tainted hot dog chili sauces. The outbreak ultimately forced Castleberry¡¯s to recall over 90 varieties of canned products manufactured by its Augusta, Georgia plant. The Centers for Disease Control said that all of the individuals had eaten hot dog sauce made by the company.
The Castleberry¡¯s hot dog chili sauce botulism outbreak was the first related to commercially canned foods in more than forty years. The disease can cause paralysis and leads to death in about eight percent of cases. Fewer than 30 incidences of the disease are reported each year, and they are almost always linked to home canning. Symptoms of botulism include blurred vision, drooping eyelids, muscle weakness, slurred speech and difficulty swallowing. If not treated properly, botulism can paralyze breathing muscles. Victims can spend months on ventilators until the botulism toxin is out of their system.
The Food & Drug Administration said that the Castleberry¡¯s recall is not yet complete, as many cans of recalled foods have yet to be accounted for. For weeks after the recall, tainted cans of Castleberry¡¯s foods were still being found store shelves. For this reason, consumers are being asked to once again check their pantries for any of the recalled items.
The news of the botulism death in New Mexico comes just days after the Castleberry¡¯s factory in Georgia that produced the tainted food was allowed to reopen. The Augusta factory was forced to close on July 21 after it was determined that a malfunctioning production line had produced the botulism-laced chili sauce. To guard against the formation of botulism toxin, canned foods are heated during processing to kill the bacteria. A cooker on the malfunctioning line was dropping cans into cool water before they were ready.
The Castleberry¡¯s botulism outbreak was only one of a string of commercial food poisoning cases to plague the country this year. In February, the FDA ordered a recall of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter after they were tied to an outbreak of Salmonella poisoning. So far, more than 600 cases of illness have been tied to the contaminated peanut butter. The source of the contamination was traced to a ConAgra Foods factory in Sylvester, Georgia. In June, the FDA ordered a recall of Veggie Booty Snack Mix, a popular children¡¯s treat, after more than 100 people became ill with Salmonella poisoning. And just last week, the Dole Food Company recalled one of its bagged salad mixes for E. coli contamination.

Mercer County health officer warns of shigellosis outbreak

Bluefield Daily Telegraph Source of Article:
GREEN VALLEY The Mercer County Health Department alerted the media Wednesday about a shigella outbreak in Mercer County that was initially identified late last week.
Dr. Kathy Wides, Mercer County health officer, said that as of noon on Wednesday, the health department has confirmed six cases of shigellosis. ¡°We are investigating a total of 61 suspected cases,¡± Wides said. ¡°We are putting most of our emphasis on daycare, food establishments and elementary schools.¡± According to the U.S. Department of Health¡¯s Center for Disease Control and Prevention¡¯s web site: ¡°shigellosis is an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria called shigella. Most who are infected with shigella develop diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps starting a day or two after they are exposed to the bacterium. The diarrhea is often bloody.
¡°Shigellosis usually resolves in 5 to 7 days,¡± according to the CDC site. ¡°In some persons, especially young children and the elderly, the diarrhea can be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. A severe infection with high fever may also be associated with seizures in children less than 2 years old. Some persons who are infested may have no symptoms at all, but may still pass the shigella bacteria to others.¡±
Wides characterized the outbreak as ¡°uncommon, but not rare.¡± She said that all the cases as of Wednesday have been isolated to the Bluefield area and said that ¡°the frail elderly and kids¡± are most at risk. Wides said that several officials with the state department of health are in Mercer County including Dr. Danae Bixler, director of infectious disease epidemiology for the West Virginia Department of Health.
¡°We don¡¯t have an epidemic,¡± Wides said. ¡°We¡¯re trying to keep it from growing by emphasizing proper hygiene including washing hands before preparing food or eating meals, and we¡¯re asking healthy people to stay away from sick people and sick people to stay away from well people.¡±
Wides said that the health department sent letters to local schools, daycare center operators, parents of school-aged children and restaurants and food establishments reporting the outbreak of shigellosis, explaining the symptoms and noting that the disease is ¡°self-limited¡± to 48-72 hours, and that antibiotics can shorten the duration of the illness and help prevent transmission.
The health department recommended that daycare operators should supervise hand-washing for young children and that people working in the food preparation industry should wash their hands before preparing food and food-handlers with diarrhea should be excluded from work until they have been cleared by a physician. ¡°Symptomatic food-handlers from a household with a documented case of shigella or food-handlers with culture-confirmed shigellosis should be excluded until a stool culture taken 24 hours after completion of antibiotics is negative for shigella,¡± according to the letter the health department sent to food preparation establishments.
¡°It¡¯s recommended by the state that (infected individuals) have to have a negative stool sample before they can go back to work,¡± Wides said. The health department alerted the Bluefield Regional Medical Center and Princeton Community Hospital about the situation.
¡°If you are exposed and well, you need to go to your health care provider,¡± Wides said. ¡°If you have diarrhea are experiencing fever, abdominal pain and have blood in your stool, you should see a doctor or go to the emergency room,¡± Wides said. According to Wides, patients can go to the out-patient labs of PCH and BRMC to have a stool sample tested in order to return to work. ¡°There¡¯s not an immediate turn-around on the test,¡± Wides said.
According to the CDC literature: ¡°The shigella bacteria pass from one infected person to the next. shigella are present in the diarrheal stools of infected persons while they are sick and for a week or two afterwards.¡± The CDC states that: The spread of shigella from an infested person to other persons can be stopped by frequent and careful hand-washing with soap. Frequent and careful hand-washing is important among all age groups.¡±
The Mercer County health department¡¯s letter urged parents with children who experienced diarrhea with three or more stools in 24 hours since Aug. 20, to contact them at (304) 324-8367.

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