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Internet Journal of Food Safety

10/15
2007
ISSUE:275

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2nd International Conference for Food Safety and Quality
(Nov. 6-7, 2007), South San Francisco Convention Center

Early Registeration will be ended soon.

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

ConAgra recalls pot pies

Source of Article: http://www.ift.org/news_bin/news/news_home.shtml
10/12/2007-ConAgra Foods is recalling an undetermined amount of all varieties of frozen pot pie products that may be linked to an outbreak of salmonellosis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced on Oct. 11.
The following brands and all varieties, including chicken, turkey and beef, of frozen pot pie products are subject to this recall:

Banquet
Albertson's
Food Lion
Great Value
Hill Country Fare
Kirkwood
Kroger
Meijer
Western Family

These frozen pot pies include all varieties in 7 oz. single serving packages bearing an establishment number "P-9" or "Est. 1059" printed on the side of the package.
These frozen pot pie products were distributed to retail establishments throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean islands. Based on product shelf life, these products could still be in consumers' freezers and it is important that consumers look for and return or discard and do not eat these products if they find them.
On October 9, FSIS issued a public health alert for these frozen pot pie products following an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and State public health departments into a large cluster of illnesses caused by Salmonella that identified these products. The establishment voluntarily ceased operations on October 9; however FSIS continues its investigation to determine the source of contamination. The CDC, State public health departments and FSIS also continue investigation into the multi-state illness outbreak. For more, see http://www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/Recall_044_2007_Release/index.asp

First Lawsuit Filed over ConAgra Pot Pie Salmonella Outbreak
Posted on October 13, 2007 by Food Poisoning Lawyer
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
Amy and Joshua Reinert took their daughter Isabelle to the emergency room in August when she had a seizure and lost consciousness. Reinert said her daughter continued to have diarrhea for nearly six weeks. It¡¯s the first federal lawsuit stemming this week¡¯s announcement to pull ConAgra¡¯s Banquet and generic pot pies from the shelves due to a potential salmonella contamination. Remember this outbreak began in January of 2007. Also, notice that there are no ill people in Nebraska, home state of ConAgra. What gives?
Salmonella count increases to 174 in 32 states

Between January 1, 2007 and October 12, 2007, at least 174 isolates of Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- with an indistinguishable genetic fingerprint have been collected from ill persons in 32 states. Ill persons whose Salmonella strain has this genetic fingerprint have been reported from Arizona (1), Arkansas (3), California (6), Connecticut (3), Delaware (5), Georgia (2), Idaho (7), Illinois (5), Indiana (3), Kansas (2), Kentucky (8), Massachusetts (6), Maryland (5), Maine (1), Michigan (3), Minnesota (6), Missouri (13), Montana (4), Nevada (6), New York (8), Ohio (8), Oklahoma (1), Oregon (3), Pennsylvania (14), Tennessee (5), Texas (4), Utah (2), Virginia (6), Vermont (2), Washington (8), Wisconsin (21), Wyoming (3). Their ages range from <1 to 87 years with a median age of 20 years; 52% of ill persons are female. At least 33 people have been hospitalized.

When is a recall not a recall? When it is not a recall.
Although the lawsuit is filed and we can begin to determine how this could have happened, how the recall was handled is also still at issue.
Kirsti Marohn, of the St. Cloud Times: ConAgra Foods recalls all pot pies
A recall on frozen pot pies was expanded Friday to include all varieties produced by ConAgra Foods. Health officials are warning consumers to check their freezers for the products that could be contaminated with salmonella. While an earlier advisory focused on certain types of Banquet brand pot pies, the new voluntary recall includes Albertson's, Food Lion, Great Value, Hill Country Fare, Kirkwood, Kroger, Meijer and Western Family branded products. Consumers who purchased the products days or weeks ago might still have some in their freezer. And whether they hear of the recall before they unknowingly eat them largely depends on a notification system that one attorney says isn't always effective.
Bill Marler, a Seattle-based lawyer who is representing Amy and Joshua Reinert of Sauk Rapids in their lawsuit against ConAgra, says the company should have recalled the products sooner. And he said some stores didn't remove the pot pies from their shelves right away. "The store has a better reason to know that there's a possibility of a problem with a product than a consumer does," Marler said. "They're really in a better position to protect their customers than the customers themselves."
Josh Funk, Omaha Associated Press Writer - Critics: ConAgra Mishandled Pot Pie Recall
ConAgra Foods Inc. shouldn't have waited two days to recall its Banquet and generic pot pies after they were linked to nationwide salmonella outbreak.
Food poisoning lawyer Bill Marler said those mixed messages, and the lack of a recall for two days, may have helped make it possible for the pot pies to linger on store shelves "Without a recall, the stuff was still on the shelves and being sold," Marler said.
If anyone bought ConAgra's pot pies this week after the company knew about the link to the salmonella outbreak, Marler said the company could face punitive damages in a lawsuit because the product wasn't immediately recalled. Marler, of Seattle-based law firm Marler Clark, handles many food-borne illness cases, and his firm has already filed one against ConAgra because of the pot pie outbreak.

Produce growers may face more rules
E. coli problem in Salinas Valley last year may have consequences
By Julia Scott , STAFF WRITER
Article Last Updated: 10/15/2007 08:12:20 AM PDT
Source of Article: http://www.insidebayarea.com/dailyreview/localnews/ci_7182616

When an E. coli outbreak caused a crisis at lettuce farms in the Salinas Valley last fall, San Mateo County farmers gave thanks that their biggest crops, artichokes and Brussels sprouts, are cooked before being consumed.
But farmers learned at a recent food safety workshop co-sponsored by the San Mateo County Farm Bureau and the county Health Department that they may have more to fear than they thought. "Even though a lot of these products could be cooked, there may be, down the road, food safety legislation that would not exempt any fresh food or vegetable," said Mike Villaneva, an analyst with the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security at the University of California, Davis.
Villaneva came to the recent farm workshop to educate local farmers about the tightened food safety rules governing their counterparts in San Benito and Monterey counties since last September, when a dangerous strain of E. coli in bagged spinach sickened dozens of people in 26 states.
Following the outbreak, more than 100 vegetable handlers formed a voluntary market agreement that mandated growers of leafy greens to adopt a long list of operating standards to reduce the risk of E. coli exposure.
These included submitting to frequent audits by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, testing irrigation water every month and making sure manure-based fertilizer is fully composted and analyzed before being used.
Since feral pigs roaming through the vegetable fields were thought to be one of the causes of the outbreak, the new rules also mandate fences around fields and require a minimum distance between grazing livestock and vegetables planted nearby.
While the current rules don't affect them, Villaneva warned San Mateo County farmers that they ought to take note.
"If we continue to have outbreaks, those groups that aren't on the radar screen will have to make the case that there shouldn't be regulation," he said.
Coastside farmers say they already abide by a set of food safety practices that their buyers ? mostly large and medium-sized chain supermarkets ? began requiring of them five years ago. David Lea, owner of Cabrillo Farms in San Gregorio, is one of several large-scale growers who pays a private firm to conduct a food safety audit of his farm every year.
He also follows a list of "best practices" recommended by the Food and Drug Administration. His workers wear latex gloves and aprons when they're packing vegetables, and no food is allowed on the premises. When out in the field, workers are required to use a portable toilet that is always close at hand, complete with hand washing facilities and towels. If a worker cuts himself, he must stop work immediately and report to a supervisor. These rules seem like common sense to Lea, who attended the recent farming workshop. But adding the larger precautions required of his colleagues in the Salinas Valley was deemed both unaffordable and impractical. "It always makes me nervous. You're always concerned about the impact it will have in the industry, and the rules and regulations coming down," he said. Half Moon Bay farmer John Giusti has erected fences around some of his fields in addition to the same basic audits and safety standards Lea maintains. It helps him keep the deer out, but there's nothing he can do to prevent the seagulls flying overhead from targeting the occasional artichoke.
"You just have to discard anything that has any bird droppings on it. We do struggle with that quite a bit," said Giusti.
It's impossible to control every condition in an open field, he added.
"I think there's lot of overkill going on. You're dealing with Mother Nature here. I don't care how sanitized we keep everything ? it will happen again," he predicted.
Joe Muzzi and his sons have been farming leeks, beans and Brussels sprouts in their Pescadero fields for decades. Since the E. coli outbreak in Salinas, they've had more frequent audits and begun chlorinating their irrigation water. They're also phasing out the use of chicken manure, which they carefully compost for four or five months before doing a planting. While he's paying for upgrades and audits, Muzzi is irked by the fact that both smaller vegetable growers and international growers are largely exempt.
"When they start shipping in from other countries ... that gets us. We're going through all these regulations and it's costly," he said.
Villaneva acknowledged that the FDA inspects less than 2 percent of all imported produce from countries like Mexico. Like the food handlers in Salinas who chose to regulate their own market, and the supermarket companies that require San Mateo County farmers to undergo audits, the safety standards applying to foreign vegetables are industry-driven.
"There are assessments being done, but only on the biggest growers. There is some oversight there, but the federal government's not doing anything on that," he said.
A series of bills were put forward to gain greater government regulation over the leafy green industry, most recently by state Sen. Dean Florez. His three bills, which failed in the Assembly earlier this year, pushed the industry to adopt the voluntary self-regulation standards.
Villaneva called the self-regulation model a "pilot" program that may yet prove inadequate.
"There's always going to be government interest in getting its foot in the door," he said.
That would disappoint Giusti, who has never had an E. coli problem on his farm.
"I'm hoping we're doing a good enough job here that we don't have to have regulations put on us," he said. "Usually when the government does something, they mess it up."

After Last Year's E. Coli Outbreak, Produce Testing Diverged at Border
By Renae Merle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 12, 2007; Page D01
Source of Article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
Early last month, Dole Food sent thousands of pounds of lettuce, picked mostly in California, through its processing plant in Springfield, Ohio, where a company inspector looked for defects before sending it along a conveyer belt. There it was washed three times, dried and deposited into half-pound packages of Heart's Delight salad mix.
About 6,000 bags were loaded into refrigerated trucks, most destined for nearby states, where they would be put into grocery store cases without further examination. But 528 bags went to Canada, where the government had responded to last year's E. coli contamination of spinach by more than doubling random tests of leafy greens. Those tests, at a distribution warehouse in Ontario, detected E. coli bacteria and led to a massive recall not only in Canada but in nine states.
By last year, Canada, which gets about 90 percent of its lettuce and spinach from the United States, had already become worried about the safety of the goods it was receiving. There had been several produce-related outbreaks in recent years, and Canadian authorities had documented one illness related to the spinach problem last year but suspected there were more cases. Mirroring the initial reaction of U.S. industry, Canadian industry officials called for tighter control of the supply chain, assurances that farmers were abiding by acceptable agricultural standards and more scientific research into the causes of the problems.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency went further. It diverted resources dedicated to testing the quality of goods and more than doubled the size of its safety program. Instead of 550 tests of several types of produce each year, Canada now tests 600 samples of leafy greens and another 600 of tomatoes in addition to increased testing of other produce.
The testing takes place in one of Canada's five government labs. For lettuce, it will typically mean taking five bags or items from a single lot in for checking. "We should have been more aggressive before" last year's E. coli contamination, said Ren¢¯ Cardinal, acting national manager of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's fresh fruit and vegetable program. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency also requires U.S. importers to be part of a voluntary California program that sets minimum production standards. "If there is somebody that is not under the leafy green agreement, we put out a border alert" and that company will be refused at the border, Cardinal said.
The measures have already produced results, he said. Despite the Dole recall this year, "you can see an improvement. We have no known outbreak," Cardinal said. "If they keep up going like that, the confidence level will be there" among consumers.
In the United States, David Acheson, the Food and Drug Administration's food safety director, has dismissed the idea of simply increasing tests as Canada did, saying that the problem requires a more complex approach and that you cannot test your way to safety.
"End-product testing is a very expensive and unsure way to ensure that there is a safe product," said Acheson. "You have to do a heck of a lot of it." The agency will focus on "putting the resources and the actions where the risk is," Acheson said. FDA officials say it is more productive to identify vulnerable points within the production process and develop testing or policies to prevent them.
The disparity between the U.S. and Canadian response to the spinach contamination is troubling to consumer advocates who say the FDA's reliance on voluntary standards is outdated. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, outbreaks of illness related to produce contamination have doubled since 1998. The FDA inspects farms for leafy greens on average once every 3.9 years and conducts 900 sample tests a year. It has no mandatory industry standards.
Efforts to regulate the industry have stalled on the federal and state level, while consumer confidence has fallen: Sixty-six percent of consumers are confident in the food they find in the grocery store this year, down from 82 percent last year, according to the Food Marketing Institute. "The crisis in food safety ought to be an urgent priority for FDA, but this administration has not given the agency the direction or the resources it needs to make sure that food on the tables of American families is safe," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who has been critical of the FDA's handling of the outbreaks.
The FDA says it has been working to address consumer concerns. A food safety plan, which will address the import and domestic market, has been fast-tracked and is to be published within three to four weeks, Acheson said. "We are addressing several years of challenges and changes. We're not going to be able to turn this around on a dime. We're not dealing with a static situation," he said in an interview. "I think we're in a better place than we were a year ago."
The most significant change in the United States since last year's outbreak is a voluntary program in California established by industry officials ahead of stricter standards proposed by the state legislature. Under the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, producers such as Dole agree to abide by certain agricultural practices, like keeping crops 200 feet from untreated manure. They also pay 2 cents a carton -- the equivalent of 24 pounds -- to fund auditing of their records and inspections of their fields. The group expects to collect about $4.5 billion this year but will not do sample testing of crops.
The program has not been duplicated in other states, though Horsfall says Arizona and Florida are considering it, and remains voluntary, to the chagrin of consumer advocates.
"A voluntary program is a voluntary program. Nobody is requiring the industry to do anything," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "The bottom line is for the better companies, the ones that want to improve, there are more tools available. For companies that do not want to comply, nothing is requiring them to change a thing."
The program does not offer standards higher than what was acceptable within the industry before the outbreak, critics say. "Nothing has changed. This is the same voluntary approach that has been the source of 21 outbreaks in California. I am not confident that without a mandatory system we're any safer," said state Sen. Dean Florez, a Democrat. Noting that the program touts the fact that 99 percent of producers have signed up, Florez adds, "It only takes 1 percent to poison an entire nation."

Our Public Life: America Needs More Food Inspectors
By Craig Hammond
Source of Article: http://www.huntingtonnews.net/
A Missouri firm recently recalled frozen pot pies for possible contamination after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and State public health departments discovered a large cluster of illnesses caused by Salmonella that identified the company's products. The department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) is investigating the multi-state illness outbreak.
There have been 41 food recalls announced by FSIS and more than 60 Class I recalls by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this year alone. And that does not include Class II and III recalls, market withdrawals, and safety alerts.
Many potential food hazards are identified by the manufacturer or distributor and immediately reported to the either FSIS, FDA, or CDC. But if it were not for the nation's field inspectors, many more Americans would be exposed to food borne illnesses.
Presently, there are only 1,200 FSIS and FDA field inspectors nationwide but more than 120,000 food manufactures in the country. It doesn't take a genius to realize that we need more food inspectors - and we need them now.
Our nation's food inspectors work night and day looking for unsafe or improperly labeled foods. And along with our local public health sanitarians, the inspectors from FSIS, FDA, and CDC truly protect and enhance our public life. One more time: We need more of them and we need them now!

What's in the kitchen?
The government knows and they're willing to tell you
By Nate Poppino
Times-News writer
Fri, Oct 12, 2007
Source of Article: http://www.magicvalley.com/articles/2007/10/14/news/top_story/122606.txt
The next time you go out to eat, take time to look around the restaurant.
Hidden in the kitchen, along with the food, utensils and appliances, are hundreds of things waiting to go wrong. Maybe a cook won't grill the meat as long as he should. The dishwasher might not reach the proper temperature, or a sick employee could cough in the pasta and share his flu with the restaurant at large.
That's where Melody Bowyer comes in. The public health manager for the South Central Public Health District, Bowyer is one of nine food inspectors the district employs to visit restaurants, schools, grocery stores and other businesses that serve food in south-central Idaho and make sure they're following the rules.
There are holes in the process, and some businesses may find it easy to flout the rules. But the district and the data it publishes on its Web site give Idahoans the chance to check out where they'll eat at night, and avoid what could become health-threatening situations.
more information

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

FDA chief visits China to talk import safety
Fri Oct 12, 2007 Source of Article: http://www.reuters.com/
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in China meeting with safety officials, said on Friday talks are progressing toward an agreement to boost the safety of food and drug imports.
FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach in recent days held talks with Chinese Minister of Health Zhu Chen and other officials, after a year that included reports of tainted products imported from China into the United States, from pet food to toothpaste.
Von Eschenbach, speaking to reporters by telephone, praised China's commitment to improving the system of import inspection, and called talks "fruitful."
A U.S. congressional report issued earlier this month said poor food regulation in China may pose a grave threat to U.S. consumers and must be bolstered by stronger safeguards when importing into the United States. The United States and China are working toward a memorandum of agreement that will lay out goals for improving the safety of imports.
A contingent of Chinese officials will travel to the United States later this month to meet with FDA staff to finalize the details of that deal, Von Eschenbach said.
The agreement is expected to be ready for signature in December when U.S. health secretary Mike Leavitt travels to Beijing.
The FDA shares oversight for import safety with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for meat, poultry, and eggs. (Reporting by Kim Dixon, editing by Brian Moss)

U.S. seeks new safeguards for imported food
October 12, 2007
Source of Article: http://www.latimes.com/
The Bush administration and Congress are working on a plan to require food importers to verify that suppliers meet U.S. safety standards.
By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 12, 2007
WASHINGTON -- Agreeing that current safeguards have failed, Congress and the Bush administration are moving toward the creation of a new system for screening imported foods that would require American companies to certify that their foreign suppliers meet U.S. standards. The system, an exception to the Bush administration's general reluctance to expand federal regulation, would place a much heavier burden for consumer safety on the companies that import goods from China, Mexico and elsewhere. The government would set the system's rules, and the Food and Drug Administration would inspect more imports than it does now. But the bulk of the responsibility for ensuring safety would fall on the industry. The sharpest point of contention so far is a Democratic proposal to pay for more port-of- entry inspections by charging importers a new fee, which industry groups oppose.
The Bush administration has said that it wants to reduce the strain on the severely overstretched system of inspections at ports. The new approach aims to build in scientifically sound methods for production, storage and shipping throughout the supply chain. An action plan is due in November.
"There is agreement that the current system of FDA inspections at the border doesn't work, and there is agreement that FDA needs additional resources," said William Hubbard, a retired senior FDA official who serves as a spokesman for a coalition of groups trying to boost the agency's budget. "And there is a conceptual agreement that this prevention model is the way to go."
Although most food eaten in this country is produced here, a variety of fresh produce and seafood is imported; so are an increasing number of ingredients in processed foods. The FDA has jurisdiction over the majority of such foods, and the Department of Agriculture oversees meat and poultry imports.
Consumer groups don't want reforms to stop with imports. They say the safety of domestically produced foods must also be addressed, pointing out that the recent Topps Meat Co.'s hamburger recall involved a federally inspected domestic establishment and that last year's huge spinach recall involved produce grown in California.

Momentum for reform

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) has called for creating an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services to take over the FDA's role of overseeing imported and domestic foods. Under her plan, however, the agriculture department would still be responsible for meat and poultry. "I think there is real momentum in the nation for reform -- addressing not only a rising flood of imports but also the serious need to reexamine our entire food safety system here at home," she said last week. DeLauro's reforms could take time to establish, but there appears to be immediate pressure for strengthening import oversight. The food industry agrees that there is a problem with the current system and has signaled that it is willing to accept new requirements. Under current rules, importers must provide advance notice of shipments and their point of origin. But those requirements do not disclose how imported foods are produced or what safeguards are used to ensure quality.
"With respect to the safety of imported food, no one is arguing that we need to do nothing," said Stuart M. Pape, a Washington lawyer who represents the major food industry trade group. "I think everybody here agrees that the current system -- the status quo -- is intolerable."

Industry's proposal
His client, the Grocery Manufacturers/Food Products Assn., or GMA, recently proposed a four-part import safety program that addressed several issues raised by the administration and by Congress:
* Importers would be required to set up safety programs for their suppliers in accord with FDA guidelines for minimum standards.
* Importers with high-quality programs, who are willing to undertake extra testing and voluntarily share their data with the FDA, would be eligible for speedy processing at U.S. ports.
* The United States would work with international organizations to establish comprehensive global safety standards for food, as well as with individual nations seeking to improve their own programs.
* The FDA budget would be increased so that additional scientists and inspectors could be hired. Currently, only about 1% of food imports are inspected. The number of inspections would be increased and could be better targeted to suppliers about whom little is known or who have a record of problems.
"There was a consensus within the industry that something needed to be done," Pape said. "And if you consider a more prescriptive regulatory environment, or a system in which the industry takes on added responsibility, I think the latter struck [the industry] as more attractive."

Consumer groups have reacted positively.
The GMA proposal "signals areas of agreement on which solutions to our food safety problems can be built," Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said in recent congressional testimony.
The Bush administration, in an interim report last month on its import safety initiative, said that "producers and the importing community will play a key role . . . by implementing preventive approaches and requiring these approaches from their suppliers."
Such preventive approaches usually consist of a detailed program for preventing food from being contaminated or spoiled at each step from field to market. Government inspections would serve as an additional check on the new system.

Fee on shipments
To pay for more inspections, Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) has proposed a fee of up to $50 per shipment on imports. One shipping container can contain many individual food shipments on which the fee would be assessed.
One of the most senior members of Congress, Dingell leads the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has wide jurisdiction over the U.S. economy. His legislation also incorporates some elements of the industry proposal, such as speedy entry for shipments from firms with superior standards.
It is estimated that the fee could raise as much as $500 million a year, allowing the hiring of enough inspectors to check about 10% of shipments, and dramatically increasing the level of deterrence against shoddy or unscrupulous importers.
But the industry says the fee would amount to a tax and argues that the cost of food safety, like that of national defense, should be spread among all taxpayers.
However, a consensus for import safety legislation seems to be building.
"It would move from the FDA having to catch the problem by border inspection to [the agency] holding suppliers accountable for the quality of the food they sell and buy," said Hubbard, the retired FDA official. "The centerpiece will be to move from FDA inspection to supply-chain security."

Minnesota family files E. coli suit against Cargill sold at Sams Club
Posted on October 14, 2007 by Bill Marler
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
Eric and Jennifer Gustafson will file suit Monday morning against Cargill on behalf of their two children, Callie, who was hospitalized with acute kidney failure (HUS) caused by E. coli O157:H7 and Carson, who also became ill with E. coli. Cargill was served at its corporate headquarters late last week. Also, last week Cargill recalled nearly 1,000,000 pounds of E. coli contaminated Frozen Hamburger Patties. E. coli cases tied to Cargill have now been linked in Minnesota (5), Wisconsin (5), North Carolina (2) and Tennessee (3). Many of the E. coli cases involve children or young adults with HUS. As I posted before, I have had to sue Cargill three times in the past on E. coli cases. Perhaps this time they will listen and "put me out of business."

Reducing Pathogens from Trough to Table
Ann Kopecky, Alltech South Dakota
Source of Article: http://www.farms.com/
From green onions and bagged spinach to peanut butter and lettuce used at fast food restaurants, bacterial diseases continue to show up on our plates. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last year there were nearly 33 million cases of microbial food-borne diseases recorded in the United States alone, and more than 9,000 related deaths, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The E. coli strain 0157:H7 is estimated to cost the U.S. economy millions of dollars each year, while Salmonella is projected at $3 billion.
While recent microbial food-borne diseases such as Salmonella and E. coli are causing a scare among humans, the pathogens are no strangers to livestock. Decreased efficiency in reproduction, reductions in growth and productivity, and even animal death can be the results of these bacterial hazards in livestock.
What can producers do to help control this problem from continually creeping into their herds and causing a pandemic scare in grocery stores and fast food chains? According to Randy Cragoe of Cragoe Consulting, the quick answer is to stop the cycle.
¡°Despite remarkable strides in not only research and biology, but also in control practices and awareness, these diseases still linger on the farm, causing serious economic losses to many dairy producers,¡± Cragoe said.
Here are some tips Cragoe recommends for dairies:
1. Complete composting and deep stacking of manure. This may reduce bacterial numbers.
2. Minimize the recycling of water from lagoons to cattle housing areas.
3. Clean water troughs regularly and protect them from manure contamination.
4. Reduce chances of feed contamination from rodents and birds.
5. Avoid hauling dead animals or manure in front end loaders used for feeds.
6. Restrict entry to the dairy to prevent introduction of new pathogens.
7. Utilize dairy herd health programs set by the veterinarian.
8. Keep healthy cows out of hospital pens.
9. Insure proper silage preparation.
10. Pay attention to cleanliness of holding areas, milking facilities, and feeding areas.

There are other measures just for calves:
1. Cool colostrum immediately.
2. Pasteurize colostrum.
3. Discard waste milk or use pasteurization.
4. Use good hygiene with milk handling equipment.
5. Utilize old technologies such as brush cleaning and thermometers.
6. Disinfect nipples, bottles, and buckets.
Another area of prevention that continues to be researched is probiotics, or beneficial bacteria. Because antibiotic resistance arises in bacteria at an alarming rate, much research has focused on finding alternative treatments that do not involve the use of antibiotics.
Alternative non-antimicrobial products such as direct-fed microbials and/or mannan oligosaccharides have been implicated as possible intervention strategies. Multiple field trials have demonstrated reductions in Salmonella and E. coli in dairy animals supplemented with these products.
¡°A former colleague of mine, Dr. Simon Timmermans of Iowa, has used antibiotic alternatives in his herd health programs for several years,¡± Cragoe said. ¡°Timmermans explained the use of Bio-Mos as a 'fake' food source the pathogens prefer instead of sugars lining the gut wall. Once attached to the Bio-Mos, they literally starve and die.¡±
Direct-fed microbials and mannan oligosaccharides can help maintain healthy immune systems in dairy and can work in conjunction with vaccine programs.

USDA to check plant procedures on E. coli in the next 30 days By Janie Gabbett on 10/11/2007 for Meatingplace.com

USDA plans to distribute new safety checklists to its on-site inspectors and within a month retrieve data that could lead to more food safety inspections of facilities that don't implement certain "best practices" to control E. coli O157:H7 contamination, a USDA official told Meatingplace.com.
Last week, USDA officials said they were initiating new procedures to more closely monitor slaughter and processing safety systems in the wake of recent large ground beef recalls. In an interview, FSIS Deputy Assistant Administrator Daniel Engeljohn explained those steps in more detail.

Best practices
First, on-site USDA inspectors will "within days, not weeks" receive and must fill out a checklist of current safety procedures at the establishment. That data will be returned to USDA in about 30 days and compared to what the agency considers "minimal best practices" to sufficiently control E. coli contamination. Establishments will have the opportunity to review the data before it is submitted.
"We are asking our investigators to answer the question, 'Does this establishment employ those practices or not?'" Engeljohn said. "From that, we would be able to identify which processors have more vulnerable operations that would require us to send in (Enforcement Investigation and Analysis Officers) to ask for documentation that would support their practices."
What's new is using best practices as a dividing line. "We are not going to say you have to have these practices, but we are going to say that if you don't, we are going to spend more time to scrutinize your rationale," he said.
Engelhjohn said USDA has identified best practices for all phases of beef production, including slaughter, fabrication, grinding and mechanical tenderizing.
For those facilities that don't employ USDA-defined best practices, EIAOs will be asking them for scientific backing for their current procedures.
"They will be obligated to identify why they do what they do and provide some scientific documentation to say why that frequency or that level of control is sufficient," Engeljohn said.

Quicker recalls
Should all this checking and monitoring fail, Engeljohn said USDA is going to request product recalls more quickly once illnesses have been reported.
"We are looking at when we don't need (the current) level of confirmation to act sooner. We are looking at how we can ensure we are being as reactive as possible without waiting for perfect science," Engeljohn said, adding that better access to DNA and other epidemiological data is overtaking the need for some previous procedures.
This could mean quicker, smaller recalls that might have to be expanded over time. He noted that in the recent Topps Meat Co. recall, if the agency had acted sooner, it would not have initially taken into account illnesses that manifested later in other states. In future situations, that could mean expanding the list of products recalled as new evidence arises.

Red Wine And Grape Juice Help Defend Against Food-borne Diseases, Study Suggests
October 11, 2007
Source of Article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071011090436.htm
Science Daily ? Red wine is known to have multiple health benefits. Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have found that red wine may also protect humans from common food-borne diseases.
Researchers Azlin Mustapha, associate professor of food science in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and Atreyee Das, a doctoral student in the food science program, are conducting on-going studies examining the inhibitory effects of numerous types of red wines, as well as grape juice, against pathogens and probiotic bacteria, which naturally reside in the intestinal tract and can be beneficial in combating, among other things, high cholesterol and tumors.
They found that red wines ? Cabernet, Zinfandel and Merlot in particular ? have anti-microbial properties that defend against food-borne pathogens and don¡¯t harm naturally useful bacteria like probiotic bacteria.
E. coli, Salmonella Typhimurium, Listeria monocytogenes and H. pylori were among the pathogens examined. E. coli and Listeria can be fatal. Mustapha said the most promising results involved Helicobacter pylori, which can be transmitted via food and water and is the main cause of stomach ulcers.
¡°Our study is a little different than those previously reported in the media. Those studies promote moderate red wine consumption for cardiovascular diseases,¡± she said. ¡°We went a step farther and asked: If red wine is already good for cardiovascular diseases, what about food-borne pathogens? If you get a food-borne illness and drink red wine, will that help decrease the symptoms a little bit? This study showed that the four probiotics tested weren¡¯t inhibited by red wines; the pathogens were.¡±
In lab tests, Mustapha and Das focused on ethanol, pH levels and reseveratrol, which is a phytochemical found in grape vines and the skin of grapes. It also is responsible for the red coloring in red wines. They found that in addition to ethanol, pH and reseveratrol also may inhibit food-borne pathogens.
Numerous white wines also were tested, but yielded no positive results, the researchers said. ¡°It¡¯s not just ethanol in the red wine that is inhibitory toward food-borne pathogens, but other factors which include the pH of the wine ? because wines are a little acidic, and possibly the phytochemicals may have an effect,¡± said Mustapha, noting that grape juice produces similar results. ¡°We hypothesize that these phytochemicals, reseveratrol being the main one, also play a role not just as antioxidants but also may have some inhibitions against food-borne pathogens. Now, we¡¯re concentrating mainly on the reseveratrol effects on these pathogens.¡± The findings were recently presented at the Institute of Food Technologists annual conference in Chicago. Note: This story has been adapted from material provided by University of Missouri-Columbia.

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