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10/09
2007
ISSUE:274

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New E. coli illness in Wisconsin identical to strain in Cargill recall
By Janie Gabbett on 10/9/2007 for Meatingplace.com

Five cases of E. coli-related illness are being investigated in Wisconsin and one has been confirmed as identical to the strain that sickened consumers in Minnesota, launching Cargill Meat Solutions' ground beef recall over the weekend.
Three of the cases were reported in Milwaukee County and two in southeastern Wisconsin, Milwaukee Health Commission Communications Manager Raquel Filmanowicz told Meatingplace.com. The confirmed case was in Milwaukee County.
"We were made aware of these cases through our communicable diseases area and started making the connections, " Filmanowicz said, adding that test results are expected in the next day or so on the four unconfirmed cases.
Cargill Meat Solutions has recalled about 845,000 pounds of ground beef produced at its Butler, Wis., location and distributed nationwide. (See Cargill recalls ground beef for possible E. coli contamination on Meatingplace.com, Oct. 8, 2007.)

Five in Wisconsin infected with E. coli - Three ate beef in Milwaukee area; link to Minnesota cases studied
Posted on October 9, 2007 by E. coli Attorney
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
Mark Johnson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel posted last night on the online edition that now ¡°five people in Wisconsin have been infected with E. coli O157:H7, three of whom consumed beef at the same event in the Milwaukee area in mid- or late September, according to the Milwaukee Health Department. The Cargill patties were produced between Aug. 9 and Aug. 17 and were sent to retail establishments, restaurants and institutions nationwide¡¦. Cargill is voluntarily recalling 845,000 pounds of frozen ground beef patties produced at its Butler, Wisconsin plant.¡±
As I posted earlier, Cargill has had problems with E. coli in the past and they have been tragically tied to Milwaukee.

E. coli Surfaces in WI; Tainted Beef Blamed
By Chris Lato
Source of Article: http://www.620wtmj.com/news/local/10333657.html

Frozen ground beef patties produced at a plant in the Waukesha County community of Butler are making people sick from e-coli-related illness. The plant is owned by beef producer Cargill. The patties have been pulled off Sam's Club store shelves nationwide after four kids in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area became ill from e-coli. Now, there are three confirmed or suspected cases in Milwaukee County, and at least two more in southern and eastern Wisconsin. Bevan Baker with the Milwaukee Health Department says their lab has been working the case since last week, before the recall was issued Saturday.
The frozen patties were sold at Sam's Club under the name American Chef's Selection Angus Beef Patties. The frozen patties have various expiration dates in February, 2008.
Consumers are being told to either return any patties purchased after August 26 to the store, or throw them away. The recall includes some 845-thousand pounds of beef.

Source from : PBS.org

E. coli outbreak kills meat company
Huge costs seen in fixing problems
By Mike Hughlett, Tribune staff reporter. Tribune staff reporter Stephen J. Hedges and The Associated Press contributed to this story
October 6, 2007

Source of Article: http://www.chicagotribune.com/
When it comes to producing food that's safe to eat, companies either pay a lot up front to improve their factory safeguards or pay a lot later when things go wrong.
Topps Meat Co. of New Jersey paid the ultimate price for a massive safety slip-up, announcing Friday it was closing its business six days after it was forced to issue the second-largest beef recall in U.S. history and 67 years after it first opened its doors.
On Sept. 25, Topps began recalling frozen hamburger patties that may have been contaminated with the potentially fatal E. coli bacteria strain O157:H7. The recall eventually ballooned to 21.7 million pounds of ground beef, and 30 people are believed to have been sickened by tainted Topps meat, though none has died.
Topps and the U.S. Department of Agriculture came under fire this week after the Tribune reported the USDA's nearly three-week delay in deciding to mount the recall. The agency said it would review the nation's 1,500 packing plants to see if they have adequate standards for preventing E. coli contamination.

After an infamous 1993 E. coli outbreak, the beef industry learned that investments in quality control pay off. Nowadays, meat companies spend millions of dollars annually on safety measures to fend off the deadly bacteria. Topps appears not to have had some of those measures in place, analysts and industry officials say. So it was faced with an even more expensive proposition: fixing its safety problems and dealing with the expense of a recall.

By shutting its doors, "this company is saying it doesn't want to go through that process," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "It's an economic decision." And the economics of a recall can be ugly, as ConAgra Foods Inc. recently discovered. A big salmonella outbreak this year with its Peter Pan peanut butter has cost ConAgra more than $140 million so far, including $55 million in lost sales. The agribusiness giant has forked over $20 million to renovate the Georgia plant that made the tainted peanut butter. Major food recalls of any kind will usually cost a company "tens of millions of dollars," said Michael Doyle, head of the University of Georgia's Center for Food Safety. There's the cost of transporting and disposing of tainted product, overtime pay for employees, a running tab for lawyers and so on. Then, of course, there's the harm done to a firm's reputation. "One of the biggest costs is the loss of consumer confidence in your product," Doyle said. Topps, though it had only 87 employees, was known as one of the nation's largest suppliers of frozen hamburger patties. Its beef could be found in supermarkets, restaurants, hotels and schools throughout the country. After a safety assessment, the USDA forced Topps a week ago to suspend its hamburger grinding. Topps conceded that much of the recalled meat had already been eaten, and on Friday expressed regret that its product had been linked to illness. Recalls don't often force companies to shut down. But one of the more well-known shutdowns also happened in the meat industry. Hudson Foods Co. closed a plant in Columbus, Neb., after it agreed in 1997 to destroy 25 million pounds of hamburger in the largest U.S. meat recall, also caused by an E. coli scare. The beef industry began to wake up to the problems of E. coli after a 1993 outbreak linked to undercooked hamburgers at Jack In The Box restaurants. Four children died, hundreds more got sick and the company almost went out of business. Since then, "the industry has invested a huge amount of money and developed really good systems" to fight E. coli, said Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "Most of the big companies today utilize a number of steps for the cleaner processing of carcasses." In addition, Smith DeWaal said, beef processors have stepped up their testing for E. coli contamination, both of finished ground beef and of "trim," as beef is called before the grinding process. James Reagan, chairman of the Beef Industry Food Safety Council, said that between food safety research, enhanced E. coli testing and production line measures such as steam pasteurization, the industry spends about $350 million annually. The investment seems to have paid off, until recently. Over the past few years, E. coli problems in meat tested by the USDA have dropped dramatically, said Doyle of the University of Georgia's Food Safety Center. "We had three really good years where the number of E. coli infections related to ground beef were declining or very low," said Richard Raymond, undersecretary of the USDA's food safety inspection arm. But Raymond added in a teleconference with reporters, "Something happened this summer. ... We saw the recalls go up, we saw human illnesses attributed to ground beef go up." It's not clear why, he said. Food recalls have filled the headlines over the past year, and one of the bigger ones was ConAgra's recall of Peter Pan. A leaky roof and a faulty sprinkler system at its Georgia plant caused salmonella to bloom. Salmonella is a bacterium that can cause fever and diarrhea, and death for people with weakened immune systems. In February, ConAgra shut down the factory and recalled all product made there going back to May 2006. Despite the recall, more than 600 people in 47 states got sick over the ensuing months, though no one died. In April, ConAgra vowed to completely retool the plant, a decision that kept it shut until August. The firm created a high-ranking food-safety post and formed a food-safety advisory committee of independent experts, mostly academics. Last year, contaminated spinach made by Earthbound Farm's Natural Selection Foods killed three people and sickened 200 more. The culprit: E. coli. In the aftermath, Earthbound created one of the most aggressive testing programs in its industry. Every bin of greens is tested for pathogens. It takes 12 hours to get the test results, said the University of Georgia's Doyle, but the greens sit until the results are in.

6-year-old continues suffering with painful E. coli symptoms
By Shayla Reaves Source of Article: http://www.wave3.com/
FLOYDS KNOBS, Ind. (WAVE) -- The E. coli outbreak at Galena Elementary School in Indiana continues to cause major problems for some of the kids who were infected. A 6-year-old girl is now on dialysis, and has been in the hospital for weeks. As WAVE 3's Shayla Reaves investigates, the youngster has endured a lot of suffering, but the worst part is not knowing when it will end. Sidney Jacobi is one of eight Galena students who tested positive for E. coli. She has been on dialysis for about a week now, and just wants to go home according to her mother, Marcia. Still, Sidney has continued to test positive for the infection, and her mother says the hardest part is not knowing when she'll be OK again.
Marcia says it's been hard for both her and Sidney who is "just afraid that she's never going to get out (of the hospital), that the bug is going to stay with her forever."
After three weeks in the hospital with an E. coli infection, Sidney talks about that fear and others with her mother.
Sidney's mom says she feels it's her job now "to try to convince her that she's getting better; she is getting better, it's just such a slow, slow, slow process." Because her kidneys
weren't functioning properly, Sidney had to start dialysis treatments on Oct. 2nd. Not a pleasant experience for a 6-year-old girl. "She had to have a port placed and a catheter placed in her abdomen," Marcia said. Now Marcia says Sidney's days are much different than before she got sick. "She's attached to her dialysis, it's on an IV pole, and so we have to take that with us, wherever we go." Sidney can't keep food down either. "She's getting nutrition through her veins," Marcia said. "We have a few extra poles to drag along with us." Doctors aren't sure how long Sidney will need to remain on dialysis. "There's no answer, we have to wait for her kidneys to start functioning, whenever that is. She's still in isolation, so she can't come out of her room until the E. coli is negative."
Sidney has been in a lot of pain, something that has been hard for both Sidney and her mother. "That's probably the worst of everything -- hearing her cry out," Marcia said.
Marcia knows E. coli infections can have long-term effects. "There's a chance sometime down the road she could have more renal problems."
Right now Sidney just wants to go home. "She's very social and very friendly, and just keeping her in that room is really hard," Marcia said.
Sidney keeps up with her days in a journal, and though her mother is confident she's going to get better.
You can keep up with Sidney's online journal by visiting: www.caringbridge.org/visit/sidneyjacobi.

Bill Marler Calls on Topps to Pay E. coli Victims' Medical Bills and Wages

Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
Bill Marler, food safety advocate and E. coli attorney, whose Seattle law firm, Marler Clark, has been contacted by five victims of the E. coli outbreak traced to the Topps 21,700,000 pound hamburger recall, called today on Topps to pay the medical bills and lost wages of all individuals who became ill with E. coli infections as part of the outbreak. ¡°We know that at least twenty-five people became ill with E. coli infections after eating Topps hamburger.¡± Marler said. ¡°The cost of treating victims of E. coli infections can run in the tens of thousands of dollars, or in a severe case, even in the hundreds of thousands of dollars,¡± Marler continued. ¡°These families need Topps to do more than promise to cooperate in the investigation into this outbreak. They need to know that Topps intends to fulfill its corporate responsibility by looking out for its customers.¡±

Marler noted that in other outbreak-situations companies such as Chi-Chi¡¯s, Dole, Jack in the Box, Con Agra, Odwalla and Sheetz advanced medical costs for outbreak victims whose illnesses were traced to their food products.

Since the Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak in 1993, Bill Marler has represented thousands of E. coli victims against corporations such as AFG, Bauer Meats, BJ's Wholesale Club, Byerly's, ConAgra, Cub Foods, Dole, Emmpak, Excel, Finley School District, Fresno Meat market, Gold Coast Produce, Habaneros, Interstate Meats, Jack in the Box, Karl Ehmer, Kentucky Fried Chicken, King Garden, Lunds, McDonalds, Odwalla, Natural Selections, Olive Garden, Peninsula Village, Pat & Oscar's, PM Beef Holdings, Sam's Club, Sizzler, Spokane Produce, Sodexho, Souplantation, Supervalu, Taco Bell, Taco John's, Topps, United Food Group (UFG), Walmart and Wendy's. Total recoveries on behalf of victims are in excess of $300,000,000.

Several times a month Bill, through the non-profit outbreakinc, speaks to industry and government throughout the United States, Canada, China and Australia on why it is important to prevent foodborne illnesses. He is also a frequent commentator on food litigation and safety on marlerblog. Bill also sponsors several websites related to E. coli, including about-ecoli, about-hus and ecoliblog.

FDA expands produce safety Action Plan

Source of Article: http://www.ift.org/news_bin/news/news_home.shtml
10/08/2007-In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration launched the 2004 FDA Produce Safety Action Plan, which is intended to minimize the incidence of foodborne illness associated with consumption of fresh produce.
In 2006, FDA, in collaboration with the State of California's Departments of Public Health and Food and Agriculture, began a multi-year Initiative as part of a risk-based strategy intended to reduce public health risks by heightening the focus on preventive food safety efforts on specific products, practices, agents, and growing areas of greatest concern. The first year of the Initiative focused on lettuce (Lettuce Safety Initiative) as a response to recurring outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 associated with fresh and fresh-cut lettuce.
FDA and the California Department of Public Health are continuing these efforts in 2007 with a focus on a broader range of leafy greens, including spinach, building upon lessons learned in the first year, subsequent outbreak investigations, and our 2007 Tomato Safety Initiative which is underway in Virginia and Florida.
Beginning in October 2007, FDA investigators, in coordination with their respective state counterparts, and with the cooperation of the industry, will visit farms in California to assess the prevalence of factors in and near the field environment which may contribute to potential contamination of leafy greens with E. coli O157:H7 and the extent to which Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and other preventive controls are being implemented.
To further focus this risk-based approach, collaborators have been reviewing data to identify areas where co-existing environmental risk factors are present. Data analyses and GIS mapping will be followed by preliminary assessments to confirm the data analyses and to finalize site selection for the field assessment.
For more, see http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/lettsaf2.html .

FDA Food Code updated with Supplement
Source of Article: http://www.ift.org/news_bin/news/news_home.shtml
10/08/2007-The U.S. FDA has posted the Supplement to the 2005 FDA Food Code.
The Food Code is an important part of the strategy for achieving uniform national food safety standards and for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of our nation's food safety system. The Supplement, which updates the 2005 Food Code, reflects the current science, emerging food safety issues, and imminent health hazards related to food safety. A Summary of Changes is included in Part 1 of the Supplement to assist in quick identification of the changes.
The next complete revision of the Food Code will be published in 2009. The Supplement provides the most current food safety provisions to agencies planning to initiate rule-making activities before 2009. In addition, this Supplement gives other users of the Food Code -- educators, trainers, and the food service, retail food, and vending industries -- up-to-date information on mitigating risk factors that can contribute to foodborne illnesses.
For more, see http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/fc05-su2.html .

USDA grant to fund E. coli research at Tech
Adam Young
Issue date: 10/9/07 Section: News
Source of Article: http://media.www.dailytoreador.com/
As fears of E. coli tainted beef trigger nation-wide recalls, Texas Tech researchers are studying methods of contamination prevention with the help of a nearly $600,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant.
A team of researchers at Tech's International Center for Food Industry Excellence will use the approximately $598,000 grant to fund its Pre-harvest Food and Safety Demonstration, where it is conducting research in reducing E. coli O157 and Salmonella in feed yards as well as educating members of the cattle industry in safety and anti-contamination practices, said Mindy Brashears, director of the center.
"It's really good for Texas Tech because it shows that what we're doing in the lab can actually be taken out and used by the people we're trying to help," she said.
Kevin Pond, chairman of the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, said E. coli and Salmonella are pathogens that can cause human health problems by inhabiting an animal's intestinal tract and contaminating the meat.
He said Tech researchers have developed a yogurt-like bacteria, which when added to an animal's diet has been found to reduce the levels of E. coli in the animal.
"It competes with the pathogenic E. coli and Salmonella so that bacteria, which is a positive bacteria, ends up out-competing the pathogenic bacteria so that the levels you have are eliminated or very low," he said. "Once it leaves the feed yard and goes to be harvested and made into steaks and hamburgers, the level of E. coli will be very low for potential contamination."
Researching ways to prevent E. coli contamination can be beneficial to the beef industry by preventing contamination recalls, said Todd Brashears, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication who conducts educational research with the center.
Topps Meat Co. of New Jersey recalled 21.7 million pounds of frozen ground beef Sept. 29 after it detected the potential for E. coli in its products, according to an article on CNN's Web site, www.cnn.com

Senators Propose Resolution of Disapproval To Minimal Risk Rule For Cattle and Beef
October 05, 2007
| Source of Article: http://www.meatami.com/
Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) introduced a Resolution of Disapproval in the United States Senate that, if passed, would express the U.S. Senate¡¯s dissatisfaction with the USDA¡¯s decision to expand the list of allowable beef and cattle imports from countries recognized as presenting a minimal risk of introducing bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) into the United States.
Senator Dorgan is joined by Senators Michael Enzi (R-WY), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Kent Conrad (D-ND), John Thune (R-SD), Jon Tester, (D-MT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and John Barrasso (R-WY).
The rule, which is set to take effect Nov. 19, will allow the importation of:
- live cattle and other bovines for any use born on or after March 1, 1999;
- all beef and beef products;
- blood and blood products derived from bovines, collected under certain conditions; and,
- casings and part of the small intestine derived from bovines
A Resolution of Disapproval does not impact agency policy unless both the U.S. House and Senate pass it and the President supports it with his signature.

Researchers Say Birds On Farms May Spread E. coli October 8, 2007
Source of Article: http://www.newsnet5.com/news/14293585/detail.html
WOOSTER, Ohio -- Ohio researchers are examining whether flocks of wild birds are responsible for spreading deadly strains of E. coli between farms and into our food.
Scientists from Ohio State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are tracking European starlings with radio transmitters to find out what role the birds have in spreading the bacteria.
Scientists said droppings from infected birds may be landing in the feed bins of farm animals. They aren't yet sure how the birds contract E. coli.
Ohio is home one of the highest concentrations of starlings in the country.
Last week, nearly a dozen people were hospitalized in an E. coli outbreak in Indiana. This year the USDA has ordered a recall of beef, spinach and salad mixes.

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

China may send team to RP over food scandal
Agence France-Presse 10/08/2007
Source of Article: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/
BEIJING -- China may send a team of food-safety experts abroad for the first time after Filipino children fell ill from eating Chinese-made milk candies, state media said Monday.
The special team will be sent to the Philippines if necessary to assist a government investigation there into the candies, the China Daily reported, citing a commerce ministry spokesman.
The 23 schoolchildren, aged nine and 10, were rushed to hospital on Thursday suffering from stomach aches, vomiting and dizziness after eating candy given out at a birthday party on Bantayan Island near Cebu.
A local school official there said the candies were Ube Milk Candy and were made in Guangdong, China, according to the wrapper.
Sales of the candies have been temporarily banned at local stores pending results of the investigation.
The Chinese government has asked its consulate in Cebu to look into the matter and submit a report, the China Daily said.
Last month, the Philippines education department banned four Chinese food products from school canteens following reports they contained cancer-causing formaldehyde.
Dangerous exports from China ranging from toothpaste to toys to seafood have sparked a wave of global bans and recalls in recent months and severely tarnished the Chinese-made label. Beijing has been taking drastic steps to contain the problem and in July executed the former head of its food and drug safety watchdog for corruption.

U.S. Food Safety Agencies, Industry Seek More Import Regulation Improvements would strengthen one of world's safest food systems

source from USDA

Washington -- U.S. food import safety officials and the food industry are proposing to ramp up federal regulation of imported food and ingredients to address the risk that unsafe products could enter the United States.
U.S. agencies charged with overseeing food import safety are expected to forward to President Bush in November recommended actions that food producers, distributors, importers and regulators should take to strengthen food safety.
The recommendations will focus on developing more scientific and analytic tools to allow better identification of potential risks, to monitor the effectiveness of prevention measures and to increase use of information technology for inspection and surveillance.
The recommendations also will aim to reduce the time between detecting and containing a food-borne illness, David Acheson, assistant commissioner for food protection at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), told a House Appropriations subcommittee in September.
The food industry's largest trade group, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), has unveiled its proposal for more regulation. It reflects awareness among industry leaders that U.S. companies, as imports rise, face increasing challenges to ensure the quality and safety of food sold to U.S. consumers.
The GMA proposal would require all U.S. food importers to adopt a foreign supplier quality assurance program and verify that imported products meet FDA food safety requirements.
GMA President Cal Dooley said industry wants to work with government to strengthen and modernize the U.S. system of regulating the safety of food imports. Working in partnership with government, "industry can apply its vast knowledge and practical experience along the entire supply chain to prevent problems before they arise," he said.
Some companies, such as retail giant Costco, long ago added their own specifications to the current government regulations, based on consumer expectations for quality and safety, said Craig Wilson, Costco's vice president of food safety and quality.

He said Costco's food suppliers are located all around the world so that the company can get supplies of fresh fruits, vegetables and meats in any season.
Since 2006, U.S. food safety agencies have increased information sharing ?- and thus prevention and intervention efforts -? through an international trade data system maintained by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is responsible for ensuring that U.S. imports of meat, poultry and eggs are safe and properly labeled.
It is a "regimented process" of sending inspectors to countries and establishments in those countries to determine if their safety standards are equivalent to those of the United States, FSIS Administrator Alfred Almanza told USINFO.
Thirty-three countries are certified to export meat to the United States, and only certified establishments in those countries can export specific foods to the United States, Almanza said. "It¡¯s an exciting time for those countries that are eligible to ship to the United States. ... As long as they meet our regulatory requirements, they can expand the number of customers,¡± he said.
All food coming into the United States is inspected at a port of entry to ensure the contents of the shipment match information contained on the accompanying document. Certain products are inspected a second time for such pathogens as listeria, E. coli and salmonella, and for residues in the food. These include ready-to-eat products, such as packaged salads, and products from a country or establishment with some history of noncompliance with U.S. standards or from countries experiencing an outbreak of a disease.
If a shipment is found to be suspect, a sample of its contents is sent to one of four FSIS laboratories around the country for analysis.
FSIS and FDA, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, also host delegations from trade-partner countries interested in seeing the stages of the food safety system, from farms, to processing and packing plants to food transportation companies, Almanza said.
In addition, U.S. agencies are working closely with state governments to adopt more uniform regulations. FDA also has signed an agreement with the European Food Safety Authority to cooperate on food safety assessments.
A transcript of a public meeting about food import safety held October 1 at the U.S. Department of Agriculture is available on the department's Web site.
(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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

Million of pounds of frozen ground beef contaminated with E.coli
Disease/Infection News
Published: Tuesday, 2-Oct-2007

Source of Article: http://www.news-medical.net/?id=30674
The latest recall of food products in the United States has left consumers alarmed and also at a loss when it comes to the safety and reliability of many foods offered for sale in stores.
The recall of hamburgers contaminated with E. coli bacteria began with the Topps Meat Company in New Jersey voluntarily recalling some of it's hamburgers on September 25th.
This recall has now been expanded to include approximately 21.7 million pounds of frozen ground beef products because they may also be contaminated with Escherichia coli O157:H7 and follows a cluster of illnesses in the Northeast caused by the bacteria.
To date 25 people in eight states have become sick from eating the contaminated meat and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service says the recalled products should be returned to the point of purchase.
The USDA warns consumers preparing other ground beef products to only eat ground beef patties that have been cooked to a safe temperature of 160 ?F - a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria such as E. coli - and to check this with an accurate food thermometer.
E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration and can lead to serious illness or even death.
The very young, seniors and persons with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness.
The recall was expanded after another positive sample was reported by the New York Health Department.
The 25 cases currently under investigation are in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The meat products concerned were made in late June and July and the first incidents of sickness began in August but it was almost six weeks before the first recall was issued and consumers were alerted.
Despite criticism from the Consumers Union regarding the delay the USDA denies there was a delay. This latest scare is just one of a series of E. coli-related food recalls to hit North America this year; others have included tainted spinach and salad mixes and experts are at a loss to explain why there have been so many outbreaks.
Critics say all processed meat should be tested, which is not currently required.
Consumers are advised to look for the recalled products in their freezers and return them if found.
Nine brands have been recalled with a sell-by date between September 25th, 2007, and September 25th, 2008, along with a package number of 9748.
The recalled products include Butcher's Best Beef Patties, Kohler Foods Hamburgers, Mike's Beef Patties, Pathmark Beef Burgers, Rastelli's Hamburgers, Roma- Topps Premium Hamburgers, Sam's Choice Gourmet Burgers, Sand Castle Burgers, Shop Rite Hamburgers, West Side Hamburgers and a wide range of Topps Hamburgers.
Consumers, retails and distributors with questions about the recall should contact the company's recall line at 888-734-0451 or the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHOTLINE or visit www.fsis.usda.gov for full information on the recalled products.

Technology Seen as Key To Upgrading Food Safety
By Renae Merle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 2, 2007; Page D01
Source of Article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
A consensus is building among government and food industry officials that the fix for the country's import safety system is likely to require better-targeted inspections, though not necessarily more of them. Yesterday, Mike Leavitt, secretary of health and human services and chairman of a panel established by President Bush to study the safety of imported food, reflected that point of view when he said: "We simply cannot inspect our way to safety."
Leavitt was speaking in a packed auditorium at the Department of Agriculture, where the Interagency Working Group on Import Safety heard from more than 40 speakers. The panel is compiling a list of recommendations that is expected to be issued by next month and is likely to include an emphasis on using technology to target risky importers and coordinating oversight among agencies.
The idea that inspections need not be increased has been challenged by consumer advocates and those in Congress who have proposed a series of reforms to the food safety system, including importer fees and consolidated oversight under a single agency. They consider increased inspection necessary but acknowledge that the Food and Drug Administration's budget makes that difficult under current circumstances.
The question of how to keep the nation's imported food supply safe emerged early in the summer after a series of recalls and warnings, mostly about Chinese products. The problems included an unknown number of pets that died from pet food tainted with a toxic chemical, followed by contaminated toothpaste, toys with excessive lead and seafood with banned antibiotics.
The spurt of news came as U.S. consumers remain concerned about an E. coli outbreak last year that cleared shelves of spinach and led to at least three deaths. Only 66 percent of shoppers are confident that the food they buy at the grocery store is safe, down from 82 percent last year, according to the Food Marketing Institute.
At first, attention turned to the government's reliance on random inspections to catch problems, and demands that those inspections be increased. The FDA inspects less than 1 percent of the food under its oversight, including seafood and produce. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has fewer than 100 investigators for the 15,000 types of consumer items, from toys to electrical outlets, that come into the country every year.
In the weeks since then, however, as President Bush's panel set to work, at least a half-dozen pieces of legislation were introduced in Congress and a series of hearings on the proposed laws were held, the prevailing sentiment has come down to this: The U.S. import safety system is indeed broken, but the short-term fix probably lies in requiring manufacturers to ensure the safety of their suppliers and giving U.S. regulators more power to oversee the safety system they put in place. Importers could be expected, for example, to certify that their suppliers are meeting tough safety standards.
Government and industry officials note that the sheer volume of imports -- $2.2 trillion this year, twice the level in 2000 -- makes increasing inspections impractical. It would require hundreds, if not thousands, of new inspectors, and would slow business at the borders, they say. "People can say, 'let's increase inspections' and that is all well and good, but you are looking for a needle in the haystack," said Tom Stenzel, president and chief executive of the United Fresh Produce Association.
Instead, the import safety panel is expected to push for expanded use of technology to more quickly identify risky imports. Leavitt has supported the use of technology at the border that could read the contents of a sports drink bottle, for example, looking for potentially toxic chemicals without opening it. The FDA is developing a food-safety strategy to be unveiled this fall that would rely on risk-based inspection but has not asked for more resources to pay for more inspections.
"There is an emerging consensus that we should continue to improve our ability to detect threats but not rely on detection as the front line," said Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers Association. "Our inspectors should be the remedy of last resort."
But increasing inspections remains the cornerstone of many of the congressional proposals under consideration, along with empowering the FDA to mandate recalls. Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, have both proposed charging importers a fee that would raise hundreds of millions of dollars and help fund more inspections. Supporters of the legislation say that although increasing inspections may not be enough to tackle the entire food safety problem, it is critical to the process.
"We need more inspections at foreign factories or processing plants as well as inspections at our ports of entry," Donald L. Mays, senior director of product safety at Consumers Union, told the panel yesterday.
Which viewpoints prevail may depend on how much lawmakers are able to accomplish before the end of the year. In the short term, consumers may see more resources for the FDA and other regulatory agencies, said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), vice chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee. More systematic restructuring of the food safety system, including consolidating oversight under a single agency, will take time, she said. "We need to beef up every area of food safety," she said.

FSIS to Co-Host Public Meeting on the Public Health Significance of Non-E. coli O157:H7 Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli
Congressional and Public Affairs Bridgette Keefe (202) 720-9113
WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2007 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), today announced a public meeting to solicit input on the public health significance of various strains of Escherichia coli (E. coli). Currently only one strain, E. coli O157:H7 is considered an adulterant in meat. The CDC has reported an increase in the number of non-O157:H7 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infections from 2000 to 2005. Outbreaks from these organisms have been reported in the U.S. since 1990, and foodborne exposures have been suspected in many of these outbreaks. The purpose of the meeting is to solicit input from academia, consumers, other public health and regulatory agencies and industry on the issue of whether non-O157:H7 STECs should be considered to be adulterants as E. coli O157:H7.
The public meeting will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the George Mason University Arlington campus, 3401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 244, Arlington, Va., 22201.
To pre-register to attend in person or via teleconference, visit FSIS' Web site at www.fsis.usda.gov or contact Sheila Johnson at (202) 690-6498 or by e-mail at Sheila.Johnson@fsis.usda.gov.
The agenda and other related will be available prior to the meeting on the FSIS Web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/.
All interested parties are welcome to submit comments by Oct. 15 to Dr. Denise Eblen by phone (202) 690-6238, fax (202) 690-6364, e-mail Denise.Eblen@fsis.usda.gov, or by mail to U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Office of Public Health Science, 1400 Independence Ave, SW, 357 Aerospace Center, Washington, DC 20250. Persons requiring a sign language interpreter or other special accommodations should notify Dr. Eblen by Oct. 10.

ROSA ¢ç Approved for Wide Range of Commodities
Source from : Rapidmicrobiology.com
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 a re 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.

BFSM to Use BAX¢ç Detection System
Source from : Rapidmicrobiology.com
The food safety monitoring authority in Beijing - Beijing Municipal Center for Food Safety Monitoring (BFSM) - will use the BAX¢ç detection system from DuPont to conduct its food safety supervision tasks in 2008.

BFSM was set up by the Beijing Food Safety Administration in 2004 to provide technical support for food safety management of the Beijing municipal government and the 2008 sports competition. In addition to selecting and organizing food safety testing institutes for the athletic events, the center also gathers food safety information, deals with emerging incidences and conducts risk evaluations.

¡°We are pleased to be working with BFSM to help ensure orderly food safety inspections in Beijing,¡± said Kevin Huttman, president - DuPont Qualicon. ¡°As a leader in food diagnostics, we welcome this opportunity to share our expertise and provide technical support to help build a food safety supervision system for Beijing that will better serve the public with safer and healthier food.¡±

¡°Cooperating with DuPont on the analytic technique of microbe inspection is very exciting,¡± said Lu Yong, director of BFSM. ¡°I am looking forward to a huge step forward in our testing ability as well as further cooperation in food safety through bilateral communication. The DNA-based BAX¢ç system can deliver highly accurate testing results, which will significantly help us to conduct accurate analysis and evaluation on food.¡±

The BAX¢ç system was the first commercial product to apply Nobel-prize winning technology - the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) - to food testing in 1995. PCR is a fast and simple way to replicate DNA fragments from very minute amounts of source material. With this application, DuPont Qualicon delivered a dramatic increase in speed over previous technologies - and led the industry into a new era of fast, easy-to-use testing with more accurate results.

The BAX¢ç system offers advanced DNA-based detection of microbes in food, from raw ingredients to finished products. It has been adopted by the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service for meat and poultry testing, validated by many international government labs and certified by independent authorities, such as AOAC International and the French Association of Normalization (AFNOR). In addition to safety testing for Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria and other pathogens, quality testing on the same platform can be performed with the BAX¢ç system 48-hour assay for yeast and mold. DuPont Qualicon also markets the patented RiboPrinter¢ç System, the world's only automated DNA fingerprinting instrument that rapidly pinpoints sources of bacteria in food and pharmaceuticals.

Oxoids culture method to counter Salmonella faster
By staff reporter
Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com
05/10/2007 - Microbiology firm Oxoid is launching a new culture method that it says can improve the isolation, differentiation and identification of Salmonella species from foods some 24 to 48 hours earlier than other methods.
Dubbed the Oxoid Salmonella Rapid Culture Method, the company says it has been developed to provide excellent recovery of salmonella and provide presumptive positive colonies in just 42 hours. That, it says, is considerably less time than is required by traditional culture methods.
"The identification of Salmonella contamination is a critical function in food microbiology laboratories and delays can have an enormous impact on the efficiency and economy of businesses," said Cheryl Mooney, industrial applications manager at Oxoid.
"Not only will the Oxoid Salmonella Rapid Culture Method save time by providing presumptive positive colonies in just 42 hours, but it also saves on resources by reducing the number of colonies requiring confirmation."

Oxoid, which is part of Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc, says the method combines features from two of its existing products.

Its ONE Broth-Salmonella is described as "a highly nutritious enrichment broth containing a specific growth promoter to ensure excellent recovery of stressed and damaged Salmonella cells, whilst inhibiting the growth of competing micro-organisms."

This means enrichment can be performed in one 18-hour incubation, whereas usually secondary enrichment would be required. After this, the sample is plated onto OSCM II, a chromogenic culture media designed to utilise the trademarked Inhibigen technology.

This technology selectively reduces background flora, allowing clearer visualisation of target colonies in mixed culture and thus improves the recovery and differentiation of Salmonella. Salmonella colonies show up in bright purple, whereas any other organisms, like Klebsiella and Enterobacter do not. This, the company says, reduces the number of false-positives requiring confirmation.

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