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Journal of Food Saety
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
coli Outbreak Spreads to Connecticut (2), Florida (1), Indiana
(1), Maine (1), New Jersey (9), New York (13), Ohio (1), and Pennsylvania
(12) - 40 sickened Posted on October 20, 2007 by Botulism Attorney
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157 Infections Linked to Topp's Brand
Ground Beef Patties
CDC reports as of 12 PM (ET) October 18, 2007, 40 cases of E. coli O157:H7
infection have been identified with PFGE patterns that match at least
one of the patterns of E. coli strains found in Topp's brand frozen ground
beef patties. Ill persons reside in 8 states [Connecticut (2), Florida
(1), Indiana (1), Maine (1), New Jersey (9), New York (13), Ohio (1),
and Pennsylvania (12)]. Twenty-nine (88%) of 33 patients with a detailed
food history consumed ground beef. Seven illnesses have confirmed associations
with recalled products because the strain isolated from the person was
also isolated from the meat in their home. The first reported illness
began on July 5, 2007, and the last began on September 24, 2007. Among
thirty-two ill persons for whom hospitalization status is known, twenty
(63%) were hospitalized. Two patients developed a type of kidney failure
called hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). We have filed two lawsuits against
Topps. Given the number of ill persons, finding who supplied the product
to Topps is becoming an important part of our investigation.
case linked to recalled pot pies
By MISTY MAYNARD, Staff Writer
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Source of Article: http://www.maysville-online.com/
Yet another case of salmonella poisoning was reported to the Mason County
Health Department Wednesday. The case came on the heels of an extensive
investigation by the health department into the sources of several cases
of salmonella and E. coli poisoning all reported since mid-July of this
The most recent case of salmonella poisoning has been linked to one of
the Banquet pot pies recently recalled by ConAgra Foods Inc., according
to Tim Stump, director of the health department. At least one of the previously
reported cases also appears to have been related to the pot pie recall.
Stump said tracking down a source for salmonella or E. coli poisoning
can be difficult, due to the time frame during which each can manifest
Stump said it may take anywhere from six to 72 hours for the symptoms
of salmonella poisoning to occur, and longer for E. coli poisoning, making
the tracking of previous meals difficult.
Stump said people who become ill from food tend to attribute it to the
last meal eaten, which is often not the case with either salmonella or
The cases of salmonella poisoning, Stump said, were spread over the five-county
Buffalo Trace area. Previously, regional cases were not reported to the
Mason County Health Department, but the hiring of a regional epidemiologist
made it easier to track those cases.
Stump said the number of cases does not appear to be atypical for the
area for the time frame for which they were reported.
In addition to determining if there is a common link between the cases,
each of the meal histories of the patients have been compared to previous
recalls, though no definite source can be confirmed for every case.
Stump said anytime an item is recalled, the health department "always"
checks with local stores to make sure the product has been taken from
All of the salmonella cases and the most recent E. coli case were in adults.
The adult with E. coli poisoning was hospitalized, but Stump said has
been released and appears to be doing well.
Cases of E. coli poisoning from earlier this year were in children, and
also resulted in hospitalization.
According to the Centers for Disease Control Web site, the best way to
protect against salmonella or E. coli poisoning is to make sure produce
which could be contaminated is thoroughly cleaned before consumption,
and all meat products are cooked thoroughly.
In addition, hands should be washed regularly, including before handling
food products, and between handling different food items.
Commissioner Meets with Chinese Minister of Health and Other Senior Chinese
Government Officials on Import Safety
Oct. 22, 2007 12:00 AM
Source of Article: http://www.azcentral.com/
Recalled hamburger patties. Contaminated spinach. Tainted peanut butter.
The danger can be as close as the end of your fork.
Congress, the White House, industry groups and consumer advocates are
all looking at ways to improve the nation's food-safety system.
That's not surprising.
But these efforts need to result in comprehensive changes, not piecemeal
The current system lacks coordination, uniformity and authority. It is
understaffed and focused too much on fixing problems instead of preventing
The U.S. Department of Agriculture monitors meat safety under a system
that allows meat processors to design their own food safety plans. Many
in the meat industry have strict guidelines and test meat for pathogens
at various stages in the butchering process, but there is no federal requirement
for such tests, according to the American Meat Institute.
USDA inspectors are monitoring compliance with these company-written plans,
but the USDA cannot mandate changes in the plans, says Patty Lovera, assistant
director of the Washington-based food-safety group, Food and Water Watch.
USDA inspectors are thinly spread. One inspector was assigned to the Topps
Meat Co., which claimed to produce more hamburger patties than any other
U.S. plant until it went out of business earlier this month. As you probably
remember, Topps folded after the recall of about 22 million pounds of
The recall was not ordered by the USDA. The federal regulatory agency
doesn't have the authority to order a recall. The company announced the
recall 18 days after initial tests showed contamination with the potentially
deadly E.coli bacteria.
The federal inspector assigned to Topps didn't find the E.coli contamination.
That discovery was made after dozens of people became ill and the pathogen
was traced to Topps.
One inspector may seem inadequate for a major producer of meat patties
sold to stores, schools, hospitals and restaurants. But this is worse
than it seems. The inspector who was assigned to Topps also had responsibility
for inspecting four other plants.
This may lead you to agree with food-safety advocates who say the USDA
is understaffed. But this, too, is worse than it seems. The USDA regulates
about one-fifth of the nation's food supply, but it gets three-quarters
of the food-inspection funding, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for the vast majority
of food products consumed by Americans, gets the rest. FDA-regulated fresh
produce and peanut butter have also been the subject of well-publicized
recalls. The Center for Science in the Public Interest says foods regulated
by the FDA have been responsible for a sharp increase in illnesses.
Both USDA and the FDA regulate imported foods, but the vast majority of
those come under FDA authority. Imported foods are an increasing part
of the American diet.
The needs of the agency are so acute that Grocery Manufacturers Association
is calling for FDA to have more funding and authority, particularly in
the area of imported foods.
The consequences of an inadequate regulatory framework can be severe for
the industry, as well as the consumer. After all, Topps went out of business.
A number of bills in Congress are reactions to the recent food-safety
problems, and a White House-appointed group is looking at the FDA's role
in food imports.
These are encouraging, but largely reactive, approaches. What's needed
is a broad and sustained effort to design a regulatory system that meets
the needs of modern consumers and producers.
Five Minutes With
Dr. James Marsden & That Nasty E. Coli Bug
Source of Article: http://www.cattlenetwork.com/content.asp?ContentId=169729
Dr. James Marsden is one of the foremost experts on E. coli 0157:H7 and
the steps necessary to eradicate it. He¡¯s Kansas State University¡¯s Regent¡¯s
Distinguished Professor of Meat Science and serves as the Associate Director
of the school¡¯s National Agriculture Biosecurity Center.
His research focus has been on the safety of meat products and methods
to control the presence of E. coli O157:H7 in raw ground beef and other
processed beef products. He¡¯s the Senior Science Advisor for the North
American Meat Processors Association and has been involved in food safety
training for the meat industry. Dr. Marsden is the author of numerous
publications and book chapters on food safety and quality and is the recipient
of awards for research and teaching.
What all this means is when E. coli reared it¡¯s nasty little head earlier
this year, he got very busy. His knowledge and advice was critical to
an industry that thought it had come close to whipping the problem. His
phone rang off the hook. His email address came close to a melt down.
It was an extremely serious problem and the industry came calling.
He was a regularly scheduled featured speaker at the North American Meat
Processors Association Annual Convention last week. With the public impact
created by the recall of millions of pounds of ground beef, though, his
contribution to the program was greatly expanded. A special early morning
discussion with Dr. Marsden was quickly added to the agenda and he came
back later in the three day event to explain the impact of the USDA¡¯s
NOTICE OF REASSESSMENT FOR E. COLI O157:H7 CONTROL AND COMPLETION OF A
CHECKLIST FOR ALL BEEF OPERATIONS, a lengthy title that means if you¡¯re
producing ground beef, your HACCP program will have to be revised right
How quickly? The checklist was issued on October 13 and the feds plan
to come knocking on your door beginning October 26. It¡¯s amazing how fast
the government can act when sufficient political pressure is applied,
isn¡¯t it? And forget the science¡¦this is a politically motivated program.
I grabbed Dr. Marsden immediately after his presentation at the NAMP Convention
and asked him a few questions. A suggestion: If you produce or eat ground
beef, read his responses very carefully. At the very least, it could save
Q. Since E. coli O157:H7 was
first identified as a serious health threat 14 years ago, the beef industry
has been very successful in reducing the incidences of infected product.
This summer, though, the industry has suffered what some call a serious
setback with possibly the worst series of recalls in a very long time.
What are the root causes behind the re-emergence of this problem?
A. The beef industry had made
steady progress in addressing the problem of E. coli O157:H7 since the
issue first emerged. The current crisis deals mainly with the increase
in cases and outbreaks and the resulting recalls. The number of positive
samples has remained relatively low as compared with the levels reported
by USDA over the past several years. The reason that Industry, USDA and
consumers are alarmed is because the trend toward fewer cases and outbreaks
and the steady progress in levels seems to be reversing.
Part of the current problem
may be related to the spikes in cases and outbreaks that have traditionally
been reported during the summer months. Microbiological testing methods
have improved and sampling frequency has increased and these may be affecting
reported levels of E. coli O157:H7. However, no matter what the cause,
this reversal has to be corrected and the problem has to be solved.
Q. With those causes in mind,
what must be done to continue the successes of the past decade-and-a-half?
A. Several things can be done
to put the industry back on track. The origins of the E. coli O157:H7
problem go back to animal production units, feedlots and the beef slaughter
process. In the production area, improvements can be made by chlorinating
drinking water for animals and making efforts to keep animals clean prior
to and during shipment to slaughter facilities. In slaughter plants, validated
interventions like thermal pasteurization should be universally applied.
Particular focus should be
placed on carcass chilling to make sure that carcasses are always spaced
and are efficiently chilled. Processors can also implement interventions
and can avoid placing contaminated products into commerce by employing
lot control programs and by increasing testing frequencies for E. coli
O157:H7. Customers can further reduce risks by following safe handling
procedures and assuring that ground beef is properly cooked.
Q. The USDA, of course, has
become very interested in solving the problem as quickly as possible.
What steps are they taking and what does the industry need to do to be
ready to comply?
A. USDA has placed a major
emphasis on the problem. Directives to inspectors were announced this
week that will involve reviews of reassessments for HACCP plans, SSOP¡¯s
and prerequisite programs. A draft check list has been developed which
is designed to evaluate the food safety systems for all establishments
that produce ground beef and processed beef products that pose a risk
for E. coli O157:H7. Their objective is to assure that all plants have
effective food safety systems in place to address this hazard.
Q. Many ranchers operate very
small businesses, generally supplying grass fed beef to a localized and
niche markets. What must they do to insure the safety of their product?
A. Good Manufacturing Practices
should be applied by all cattle producers. I mentioned the need to assure
that the drinking water for cattle is safe. It is important that animals
are clean and healthy before they enter the food chain.
Q. Being more specific, what
should be done at the ranch and the feed lot?
A. On the ranch systems should
be in place to manage the general health of animals. In feedlots, efforts
should be made to prevent cross contamination. The feedlot environment
should also be kept as clean as possible.
Q. Let's move downstream. What
can be done at the packer level?
A. Again, packers need to control
contamination in the slaughter environment and to employ validated interventions.
It is possible to steam or hot water pasteurize every carcass at the end
of the slaughter process. A zero tolerance for physical defects already
exists and is closely enforced by USDA. Again, carcass chilling is extremely
important. Carcasses must be properly spaced to allow for efficient cooling.
If they are spaced, temperatures can remain in the optimum growth range
for bacteria for long periods of time. Post chill interventions are also
useful in reducing microbial contamination.
Q. Is it possible to develop
a unified 'gate-to-plate' program and what will it contribute to food
A. The North American Meat
Processors Association announced an initiative to develop a farm to table
food safety system designed to reduce the risk of E. coli O157:H7 in ground
beef and processed beef products. The answer to the question is definitely
yes ? it is possible if all segment s of the industry continue to work
together. The beef industry is committed to solving the problem.
Safety and Quality Related Job Openings
Laboratory Coordinator/QA Supervisor - Bar-S Foods Co Elk
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,
Food Safety Specialist - America's Second Harvest - Chicago, IL
Safety and Quality Related Job Openings
wants answers from FSIS on Topps recall By Tom Johnston on
10/19/2007 for Meatingplace.com
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) penned a lengthy letter to USDA's Food Safety
Inspection Service this week, demanding to know why it took so long for
the agency to enact the Topps Meat Co. recall and what steps the agency
is taking to improve its oversight.
"It is alarming that, following several years of reductions in the
number of cases of E. coli infections, we are now witnessing a sharp rise
in both the number of incidents requiring a recall and that a number of
people infected by this harmful bacteria," Durbin wrote, addressing
his letter to FSIS Under Secretary Dr. Richard Raymond.
Durbin noted there have been 16 recalls this year owing to E. coli O157:H7
concerns, totaling some 28 million pounds of beef. Nearly 22 million pounds
of beef were recalled in the Topps case alone.
"This spike warrants additional attention," Durbin wrote.
Among a slew of questions included in the letter, Durbin asks that Raymond
provide a detailed timeline of the Topps recall, indicate follow-up actions
in terms of tracking down suppliers and divulge inspector staffing levels.
Durbin has long advocated consolidating the 15 separate federal branches
currently charged with protecting the country's food supply, contending
it would eliminate bureaucratic confusion. For example, the Food and Drug
Administration oversees frozen cheese pizza while USDA presides over frozen
Seminar Series Focuses on Safety
ITAC Source of Article: http://www.marketwire.com/mw/release.do?id=782543
Food From New York
NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - October 18, 2007) - The Industrial and Technology
Assistance Corporation (ITAC) announces a Friday morning seminar series,
called "Best Practices for Food Manufacturers," held at the
Artisan Baking Center in Long Island City at 36-46 37th Street. Topics
Friday, October 19 - Food Safety
Friday, October 26 - Food Defense
Friday, November 2 - Product Costing
The series includes presentations,
demonstrations and hands-on exercises to guide food manufacturers through
some of the more pressing issues of safeguarding their businesses with
techniques and practices that large food conglomerates use to keep their
companies operating smoothly and their products free from harm. The first
two seminars will cover food safety and defense plans, an explanation
of record keeping for HACCP and the Bioterrorism Act of 2002, using the
CARVER + Shock tool to assess vulnerability. The final seminar will focus
on product costing using techniques that include forecasting software.
Space is limited, register soon: Cost for the series is $100, $35 for
single sessions. To register call Rose-Anne Angus at ITAC: 212-442-2990
or email her at email@example.com or register online at www.itac.org.
Presenters Jerry & Nick Scavo of JSC Services have over 40 years combined
experience in the baking industry, both in wholesale and retail, and currently
assist baking companies with food safety, production management, reorganization
and R & D.
ITAC www.itac.org is a citywide economic development organization that
seeks to strengthen the economy of New York City by improving the performance
of small to mid-size manufacturing and technology firms. ITAC is part
of Food from New York www.foodfromnewyork.org, a NYC initiative of the
New York Industrial Retention Network (NYIRN) www.nyirn.org aimed at strengthening
the food manufacturing sector by retaining and expanding small and mid-size
specialty food companies and jobs in the food sector. It provides a comprehensive
set of programs to help food manufacturers, from start-ups to well-established
businesses. Food from New York offers assistance in real estate and relocation,
marketing, workforce development, energy and technology assistance.
and Sam's Club sold, E. coli contaminated hamburger linked to 14 Illnesses
in North Carolina, Minnesota, Tennessee and Wisconsin - 3 still hospitalized,
2 in critical condition
Posted on October 20, 2007 by Botulism Lawyer Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
It was much easier to track the illnesses caused by Topps E. coli contaminated
hamburger as there is a report on-line on the CDC website and the 21,000,000
pounds of hamburger recalled. No such luck with being able to see the
same on the Cargill recall. Remember, Cargill recalled nearly 1,000,000
pounds of E. coli infected hamburger. A search through Health Department
websites and news, has shown at least 13 people ill, and probably 14,
3 still hospitalized - 2 still in critical condition.
This is what I have been able
North Carolina Department of Health reports 2 ill.
Minnesota Department of Health reports 4 ill (likely 5).
We represent 3 of those children and have filed suit on behalf of 2 with
number 3 coming this week while I am in Minnesota mediating the Dole spinach
E. coli cases and Lunds and Byerly's. We had asked that Cargill help all
victims who have incurred medical expenses. It has been silent. According
to the St. Cloud Times, Stephanie Smith, 20, remains in critical condition
as of last Sunday morning at St. Mary¡¯s Hospital after contracting what
appears to be a critical case of E. coli poisoning.
Tennessee Department of Health
reports 3 ill.
According to the Knoxville Sentinel, 4-year-old John McDonald, who contracted
E. coli linked to Cargill is in serious condition in UT¡¯s pediatric intensive
care unit. Surgeons removed part of the boy¡¯s colon and lower bowel Tuesday
Wisconsin Department of Health
reports 4 ill.
Heck, Cargill even poisons people from its own state - go figure. But
then again, this is not the first time Cargill has had E. coli problems.
to Follow Up on 2004 Peanut Butter Contamination
Inspector visited ConAgra plant but agency dropped the ball
At least four deaths blamed on subsequent Salmonella outbreak
By Joseph S. Enoch ConsumerAffairs.Com
October 19, 2007 Source of Article: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/
The Salmonella peanut butter outbreak that is blamed for killing at least
four and sickening hundreds early last year, was not the first instance
of a Salmonella outbreak in a batch of Peter Pan peanut butter for the
ConAgra Foods company.
Nor did it come as a surprise to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA), which had failed to follow up on earlier problems at the plant
that produced the contaminated peanut butter. Documents obtained by ConsumerAffairs.com
through a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that ConAgra discovered
¡°microbial problems¡± in October 2004.
In February 2005, the FDA sent inspector Jackie Douglas to ConAgra's Sylvester,
Ga. plant, which produces Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butters, to
investigate an anonymous claim of insect infestation, poor in-plant sanitation,
equipment maintenance and quality control.
The FDA also had received five complaints from consumers who said they
found plastic, hair, rice and mouse droppings in the peanut butter.
Although Douglas found the plant to be in compliance with applicable codes,
the plant managers informed her that there was a ¡°micro hold¡± in October
2004, in which some of the plant's peanut butter was destroyed as a result
of lab tests.
"Management verbally reported that each day's production is tested
in-house for Salmonella and coliforms prior to release of the production
for sale," Douglas noted in her inspection report. "Firm acknowledged
that there was some production in October that did not meet product specifications
and was put on micro hold, and was subsequently destroyed. However, management
would not report the exact reason for the hold, nor the amount of product
The plant managers informed Douglas that the details of that micro hold
would be made available to the FDA if they filed a written request.
The FDA never did request that information, ConAgra spokeswoman Stephanie
FDA dropped the ball
If the FDA had folowed through, it would have discovered that the micro
hold was the result of Salmonella, Childs said. She wasn't sure how much
peanut butter was destroyed, but she said the product manufactured the
day the Salmonella was discovered was destroyed as well as an unspecified
number of days before and after.
The FDA made no further inquiries
until two years later when the Centers for Disease Control informed the
FDA that more than 200 consumers had been infected with Salmonella, possibly
as a result of eating Peter Pan peanut butter.
FDA spokeswoman Catherine McDermott
gave unresponsive answers to ConsumerAffairs.Com's questions and a follow
up e-mail and phone call to the agency's press office were not returned.
A month after the initial recall,
ConAgra and the FDA issued press releases announcing that the recall would
be expanded to October 2004.
"We were reaching back
to custumers who might on an off-chance still have that product in storage
or on shelf," Childs said. "I think there was some confusion
behind the intent of that FDA press release. But our intent from the very
beginning was to recall 100 percent of product made there."
Childs said it was a coincidence
that the company announced an extension to its recall back to October
2004, the same month the company destroyed unknown batches of peanut butter
that contained Salmonella.
In both Salmonella outbreaks, ConAgra scientists are not entirely sure
what caused them. But they largely blame excessive moisture, Childs said.
The October 2004 outbreak was
possibly a result of peanut shells from one distributor that may have
been exposed to too much hurricane weather. It's also possible that sugar
stored in a damaged shed may have been exposed to rain, the company said.
The February 2007 recall was
possibly the result of the plant's faulty sprinkler system or a leak in
"We have procedures in
place to clean up after that; stop production, get rid of product that
may have been impacted by those kinds of scenarios and to start fresh,"
Childs said. "But we think there must have been some salmonella after
our cleanup and that that lead to the unintentional contamination of the
product later on."
Despite the cleanups, micro
holds and ConAgra's in-house Salmonella testing, their product sickened
hundreds of consumers whose doctors reported it to the CDC and likely
many thousands more.
ConsumerAffairs.Com has received
205 related complaints. Many of those complaints involved multiple illnesses
among family members.
Was the problem sporadic?
"Yes, we have these regular testing procedures. Yes, we regularly
hold the product," Childs said. "But our experts believe that
either the salmonella count was either too low to detect or that it was
sporadic enough that our testing procedures could not detect it."
The plant tests one jar per
line per hour, Childs said.
The FDA has levied no fines
against ConAgra and the agency's investigation is ongoing. A manager at
the Health and Human Services Freedom of Information Office said it will
likely be "many months" before the FDA finishes its investigation.
Back on shelves
Peter Pan returned to store shelves in August and Childs said the company
has made extra efforts to ensure the product is safe.
"We fully renovated the
plant, worked with food safety experts to modify product testing and further
separated raw ingredients from any finished product," Childs said.
By the time Peter Pan returned
to stores, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention said that 628
people in 47 states have been affected by salmonella poisoning from the
tainted peanut butter.
While most of the product has
been pulled from store shelves, health officials say some of the recalled
jars may still be in consumers¡¯ pantries. The recalled peanut butter can
be identified by the product code beginning with 2111 on the lid.
While the CDC does not officially
attribute any deaths to the outbreak, families of at least four elderly
consumers have told ConsumerAffairs.com that their loved ones died after
eating tainted peanut butter. Their deaths are not counted, officials
say, because no autopsies were performed.
Eighty-one-year-old Rosie Haskins
died February 26. Her family reported to ConsumerAffairs.com that a partially
eaten jar of peanut butter was found in her room. The jar had the telltale
2111 stamped on the lid.
Another death reported to ConsumerAffairs.com
was that of 85-year-old Mary Halstead of West Virginia. She died after
her son made her a peanut butter sandwich -- her favorite food.
"Dumb old me, I made her
a peanut butter sandwich at home and brought it to her at the hospital,
because it was just about the only thing she wanted to eat," Larry
Halstead, her son, said. "In no time, she got just 100 percent worse."
Halstead said his mother then became semi-comatose and died.
Two other deaths have been
unofficially attributed to the tainted peanut butter.
An elderly Chicago-area man,
George Baldwin, was said to be in relatively good health just before his
death from complications of food poisoning, shortly after he ate a peanut
"He puts the peanut butter
on toast, eats the toast, in six hours he develops fever, nausea, diarrhea
and vomiting -- all of which are signs of salmonella poisoning,"
Baldwin family attorney Don McGarrah said.
A 76-year old Pennsylvania
woman, Roberta Barkay of Philadelphia, died in January from complications
of food poisoning, and family members contend she too ate peanut butter
shortly before her death. The family has hired an attorney who has filed
suit against the manufacturer, ConAgra.
While new cases of peanut butter-related
salmonella have tapered off, the CDC is warning consumers to be careful.
The agency says consumers should carefully examine peanut butter jars
on kitchen shelves to make sure the product is not included in the recall.
¡°This outbreak demonstrates
the potential for widespread illness from a broadly distributed contaminated
product, one that had not previously been implicated in a food-borne illness
outbreak in the United States,¡± the CDC said in a statement.
Is Our Food
Any Safer Since the Last E. Coli Outbreak?
By Carl Nagin, California Coast and Ocean.
Posted October 18, 2007.
Source of Article: http://www.alternet.org/environment/65067/?page=entire
Farmers are now forced to comply with an array of new food safety measures,
some of which are scientifically unproven and environmentally harmful.
Late in August 2006, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) in Atlanta began investigating cases of severe food poisoning reported
by health officials in 26 states and one Canadian province. Over the next
six weeks, a rare and particularly virulent strain of Escherichia coli
0157:H7 sickened more than 200 people, hospitalizing half of them, some
with severe kidney damage, and killing two elderly women and a child.
For epidemiologists, the outbreak presented a breakthrough because a DNA-fingerprinting
system enabled CDC investigators to trace back the source of the infections
from clusters of cases nationwide.
Bacteria in stool samples of hospitalized patients were genetically matched
to pathogens in pre-packaged, "ready to eat" Dole brand spinach
that they had recently purchased and consumed. Further, product codes
on the bags indicated that the contaminated greens had been processed
during one shift on August 15 at a plant then owned and operated by Natural
Selection Foods. The company's records showed that the spinach had been
harvested from four fields in Monterey and San Benito counties.
Just how the spinach became contaminated and where in the process from
field to package the bacteria originated will probably never be known.
An investigative report released last March by the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) could make "no definitive determination" as to "how
E. coli 0157:H7 pathogens contaminated spinach in this outbreak."
The consequences of the crisis fell heavily on Central Coast farmers,
who are now being pressed by buyers to comply with a conflicting array
of new food safety measures, some of which are costly, scientifically
unproven, and environmentally harmful. Some violate state regulations,
and may even be counterproductive to food safety. But the growers must
follow these measures in order to market their crops to the larger contractors
The farmers' predicament is jeopardizing the future of sustainable agriculture
and of the habitat and clean water it supports, according to the Nature
Conservancy's Monterey Project Director Chris Fischer: "Farmers and
conservationists in California have been working together for more than
20 years to develop practices that help protect water quality and wildlife
habitat, but since last fall, farmers have been under enormous pressure
from their buyers to go the other direction," she said. "To
stay in business, they are being forced to build miles of fences along
streams, cut down trees, and bulldoze ponds. Some actions, like creating
bare-earth buffers along waterways, may actually increase the risk of
contamination downstream." more
tea eyed as natural preservative source
By staff reporter
Source of Article: http://www.foodnavigator.com/
16/10/2007 - Tea, seemingly always in the headlines for its potential
health benefits, could also offer an interesting source of food preservatives,
Chinese researchers report.
Extracts from microbially-fermented Puer tea and Fuzhuan brick-tea have
the potential to inhibit several food-borne bacteria, including Bacillus
cereus, Bacillus subtilis, Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium sporogenes.
"With the trend of increasing use of natural and biological preservatives
in food products, natural antimicrobial agents from microbial fermented
tea may offer an innovative and interesting measure for such applications,"
wrote lead author Haizhen Mo from Henan Institute of Science and Technology.
Before such a resource can be tapped however the researchers state that
several critical aspects still need to be clarified before the tea extracts
can be industrialised as alternatives to synthetic preservatives such
as like butylhydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylhydroxytoluene (BHT) to slow
down the oxidative deterioration of food.
Suspicion over chemical-derived synthetic preservatives has pushed food
makers to source natural preservatives such as rosemary extract instead,
and market analysts Global Information pitch the global food preservative
market at ¢æ422.7bn ($575bn), reaching ¢æ522bn ($710bn) by 2008.
Among the challenges left include identification of the exact components
in the tea responsible for the antimicrobial effects. Indeed, Mo and co-authors
ask whether it is the more well-known tea catechins or polyphenols or
antimicrobial metabolites from the fermentation process not originally
present in unfermented or green tea leaves that are responsible.
Another area in need of research is whether the antimicrobials could impact
the flavour and nutritional aspects of the food products.
"These natural preservatives should be desirably colourless and tasteless
so that they will not bring about any off flavour troubles," wrote
"Ideally, these natural preservatives should not bring about any
anti-nutritional effects," they added.
The process for fermentation also needs optimising, they said.
"[Both] Puer tea and Fuzhuan brick-tea¡¦ are produced through a solid
state fermentation process, [and] standardisation and optimisation are
necessary. Solid-state fermentation is described as a process where no
free water is present.
"A standardised fermentation process will not only ensure food safety
but also the product quality.
"Furthermore, during the standardisation and optimisation of the
process, more insight will be obtained for the metabolic mechanism of
the fungi involved, how they produce antimicrobial metabolites and eventually
an overproduction of these useful natural preservatives can be expected,"
The study was a collaboration with researchers from Wageningen University
and Research Centre in the Netherlands and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural
Source: Trends in Food Science & Technology (Elsevier)
Published on-line ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.tifs.2007.10.001
"Microbial fermented tea - a potential source of natural food preservatives"
Authors: H. Mo, Y. Zhu, Z. Chen
Detection Database Released
source from: rapidmicrobiology.com
BioMinds LifeSciences Pvt Ltd., Hyderabad, India, has announced the release
of one of its pioneering products for researchers working on pathogen
detection using qPCR in laboratories around the globe. PathoOligoDB ¢â
is an extensive and carefully curated database containing a wide array
of information on pathogen detection using the widely applied qPCR technique.
The product is absolutely free
for academic use and currently holds curated information of bacterial,
fungal and viral pathogens. As of now, PathoOligoDB ¢â contains about 2978
specific oligos for 1023 pathogenic genes reported in about 150 pathogenic
organisms, 1200 specific sample information and 1455 enzymes from about
33 journals. Besides this, researchers will also find extensive information
on relevant experimental recipes such as buffers, other chemicals and
reagents, and relevant vendor information for the resources mentioned.
PathoOligoDB ¢â is equipped
with an innovative algorithm to quickly search for the oligos and related
resources based on search filtering specified by the user. Users can search
for oligos using the pathogen name, gene symbol, assay application, oligo
sequence information, PubMed ID, oligo design vendors, and types of popular
detection chemistries such as: TaqMan¢ç, TaqMan MGB, Molecular Beacon,
SYBR¢ç Green, LNA¢ç, and FRET etc.
"According to ABRF 2007
Nucleic Acid Research Group Survey", qPCR is the third most opted
pathogen detection approach among researchers around the world. We have
designed PathoOligoDBTM after understanding the importance and the demand
for instant information on optimized oligos, which would save the valuable
time and cost involved in manual designing of oligos.¡±, says Dr. Ravi
Kumar, Director of BioMinds LifeSciences Pvt Ltd. He invites the researchers
to submit the validated oligos data to further strengthen the database
and make it available for the research community.
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