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10/28
2007
ISSUE:277

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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

FSIS Provides Update on Topps Meat Company Recall Investigation
source from: USDA
Congressional and Public Affairs
(202) 720-9113
Laura Reiser

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2007 - A joint investigation between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has identified a likely source of the multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to the Topps Meat Company.
On October 25, the CFIA provided FSIS with PFGE patterns, or DNA fingerprints, from tests of beef trim from a Canadian firm, Ranchers Beef, Ltd., Canadian establishment number 630. This firm provided trim to the Topps Meat Company. While the firm, which had been located in Balzac, Alberta, ceased operations on August 15, 2007, some product remained in storage and was collected and tested by CFIA as part of the joint investigation of the Topps recall and as part of CFIA's own investigation into 45 illnesses in Canada from E. coli O157:H7.
"We appreciate the assistance from our food safety partners in Canada. This piece of information helped us to determine a likely source of contaminated product which led to the September 29 Topps Meat Company expanded recall," stated under secretary for food safety Dr. Richard Raymond. "We have a long history of cooperation and collaboration with CFIA."
Today, PulseNet provided verification to FSIS that this PFGE pattern matched those from patients who were ill and from positive tests conducted by the New York Department of Health on product (both intact packages and open packages from patients' homes) that was later recalled by the Topps Meat Company on September 29. PulseNet is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) searchable database of all PFGE patterns from patients and food products in the United States.
As of October 26, CDC reported 40 illnesses under investigation in 8 states, with 21 known hospitalizations. The latest onset of illness is September 24, 2007. This summer was the first time this rare PFGE pattern had been seen in North America.
As the result of the Topps Meat Company recall investigation, FSIS had delisted Ranchers Beef, Ltd., Canadian establishment number 630, on October 20, 2007. No product from that firm has been eligible to come into the U.S. since that date.
Today, FSIS notified industry to hold all boneless beef manufacturing trim from Ranchers Beef, Ltd., Canadian establishment number 630, or raw products produced in whole or in part from these products until the joint investigation is completed. The Agency has also today issued a Notice (PDF Only) to inspection program personnel in the field to retain these products.
Although products subject to recall should be returned to the point of purchase, consumers preparing other ground beef products should always follow the four Be Food Safe steps of Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill. Consumers should only eat ground beef patties that have been cooked to a safe temperature of 160 ¡ÆF. The only way to be sure a ground beef patty is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use an accurate food thermometer.
On October 23, FSIS announced new, ongoing and upcoming actions to protect public health against the risk of E. coli O157:H7, including expanded testing, including testing of imported trim at the border. On October 19, FSIS notified countries that export beef to the U.S. of new policies and programs and is working with them to ensure they implement the same or equivalent measures to protect the public from E. coli O157:H7 risks. On October 4, FSIS publicly outlined the timeline of the Topps recall, the preliminary findings from its investigation of the Topps recall, actions already taken by the agency and further steps to reduce E. coli 0157:H7.

Transcript of Tele-News Regarding E. coli 0157: H7 Actions
Washington D.C. - October 23, 2007
Dr. Richard Raymond, Under Secretary for Food Safety
Dr. Daniel Engeljohn, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Policy, Program and Employee Development, Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)
Dr. David Goldman, FSIS Assistant Administrator, Office of Public Health Science
Dr. Kenneth Petersen, FSIS Assistant Administrator, Office of Field Operations
UNDER SECRETARY RAYMOND: Good morning or good afternoon, depending on what time zone you are in. I appreciate the opportunity today to explain new actions we have taken at USDA to protect public health from the risk of E. coli O157:H7.
Since January there have been 15 recalls related to E. coli in beef this year, eight of those have been associated with human illnesses. In comparison, in 2006 there were only eight related recalls and none of those were related to human illnesses and in 2005 there were only five E. coli related recalls. So obviously something has changed.
We want to remind you that compared to 10 years ago, remember, the safety of the food supply is better than it has ever been. The number of recalls and the number of illnesses has declined in the last several years but as a result of what we are seeing this year we are going through a very comprehensive review of our entire inspection and recall procedures at this time and taking lessons learned from a number of recalls including the recent Topps recall. We have emphasized the need for us to do even more to strengthen our polices and programs. more information.

Juice HACCP procedures posted
October 24, 2007
Source of Article: http://members.ift.org/IFT/Pubs/Newsletters/weekly/nl_102407.htm
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a final rule requiring the application of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles to the processing of fruit and vegetable juices (66 FR 6137 ¡°Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP): Procedures for Safe and Sanitary Processing and Importing of Juice¡±). FDA took this action because there have been a number of food hazards associated with juice products and because a system of preventive control measures is the most effective and efficient way to ensure that these products are safe.
As of January 20, 2004, all processors and importers of juice and juice products have been subject to the juice HACCP regulation and the phased-in approach for compliance has ended. Furthermore, the educational inspections have been phased-out. The compliance program covers domestic processors and importers of fruit and vegetable juices and provides instructions to ensure that they are being operated in accordance to the existing juice HACCP regulation.
See the latest guidelines here.: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~acrobat/cp03847.pdf

USDA outlines actions to combat E. coli O157:H7
By Janie Gabbett on 10/24/2007 for Meatingplace.com
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service outlined recent and upcoming actions it is taking to protect public health against the risk of E. coli O157:H7, including expanded testing and more attention to imported beef and beef products.
Key initiatives targeted to federally inspected plants that produce raw beef products include:

New checklist for verifying control

FSIS inspection program personnel will review both suppliers and processors based on a new checklist, once they complete specialized training beginning the week of Oct. 29.
Data from the checklists will be completed in November and updated quarterly to help the agency more quickly identify significant changes in plants' production controls and ensure the company takes corrective action. FSIS will analyze the checklist data and use it to adjust
programs or policies as needed.

Verifying control of E. coli O157:H7

As of November, all beef plants will be expected to verify that they are effectively controlling E. coli O157:H7 during slaughter and processing. USDA has provided the industry with specific examples of minimum controls that would meet the minimum criteria for a "well-controlled" process.

Targeted routine testing
In January 2008, FSIS will begin routine targeted sampling for E. coli O157:H7 at slaughter and grinding facilities. Currently, all plants have an equal chance of being tested. Under this new verification testing program, FSIS will test larger volume operations more frequently than in the past. Data from the checklists will be used to determine testing frequency for establishments.

Testing more domestic and imported ground beef components
FSIS will begin testing materials that are used as components in raw ground beef, in addition to the beef trim already tested. FSIS is also requiring countries whose beef is imported to the United States to conduct the same sampling or an equivalent measure.

Ensuring safety of imported beef products
FSIS has notified countries that export raw beef product to the United States of new policies and programs and is working with them to ensure they implement the same or equivalent measures to protect the public from E. coli O157:H7 risks.

Testing and analyzing trim
FSIS began trim testing in March 2007, not waiting for final analysis of the baseline. By testing earlier in the production chain to identify contaminated beef trim intended for ground beef, FSIS prevents this source from contaminating the ground beef available to consumers. This also gives the agency more data to analyze in determining and implementing the most appropriate actions to reverse upward trends.

More rapid recalls
FSIS now takes into account a broader, more complete range of evidence when evaluating whether to seek a recall or take regulatory action.

Strengthening communications efforts
USDA is stepping up communication with public health partners, industry and consumer representatives and internally with inspection program personnel. These efforts include: Working with federal partners such as FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention on initiatives such as public meetings on organisms related to food-borne illnesses
In October and November, FSIS will target outreach and training sessions around the country for small and very small raw beef processors, other stakeholders and FSIS inspection program personnel.
Later this fall, FSIS plans to convene a meeting of experts and stakeholders to examine the current situation with E. coli O157:H7, factors that may be leading to an increased number of positive test results and recalls and the additional steps that FSIS and the industry can take.
This winter, FSIS will hold a meeting with its state and local public health partners, FDA, CDC and industry and consumer groups about how to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of outbreak investigations and recalls.
A full list of FSIS actions to reduce E. coli O157:H7 is posted on the FSIS Web site: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/

Norovirus Proposal Nets Top Research Funding
By Marcia Wood
October 22, 2007
Figuring out how to prevent norovirus from clinging to fresh fruits and vegetables ranked as the top-scoring research proposal in the annual Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Postdoctoral Research Associate Program.
Norovirus causes an estimated 23 million cases of gastrointestinal disease in the United States each year. Some of these outbreaks have been associated with fresh produce, according to ARS research microbiologist Peng Tian. His norovirus research proposal topped more than 300 other entries submitted by ARS scientists nationwide in the annual competition for special funding.
In all, 50 scientists in ARS?the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency?will each receive $100,000 to fund two years of research by a postdoctoral associate they'll recruit and mentor. As the author of the top-ranked proposal, Tian will receive an additional $20,000.
This program gives promising post-docs an opportunity to work alongside high-achieving scientists who are tackling top-priority projects of national importance.
Tian will be honored at ARS' annual awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., in February 2008. He will receive a plaque naming him winner of the T. W. Edminster Award, given to the researcher who submits the highest-rated research proposal. The award is named after its founder, Talcott W. Edminster, a former ARS administrator.
Tian is in the agency's Produce Safety and Microbiology Research Unit, part of the ARS Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif. Other winners of the post-doc funding are based in labs in more than two dozen other states.
The studies being planned will span an impressive array of subjects and scientific disciplines. For example, the investigations will address the role of healthful fats in combating obesity; new options for protecting chickens, cows and other farm animals from diseases; and innovative ways to reduce the dust that's stirred up when stems, leaves and other plant leftovers are harvested for biofuels, instead of being left on the ground.
Other experiments will seek high-tech options to more quickly and accurately separate undamaged wheat or corn kernels from ones that insects or fungi have attacked.

Food Safety Expert Robert H. Deibel, Ph.D., Honored with American Meat Institute
Foundation Scientific Achievement Award
October 26, 2007 Source of Article: http://www.meatami.com/
Robert H. Deibel, Ph.D., president and CEO of Deibel Laboratories, has been awarded the American Meat Institute Foundation (AMIF) Scientific Achievement Award. The award was presented during AMI¡¯s International Meat, Poultry & Seafood Convention & Exposition, part of Worldwide Food Expo, Oct. 24-27, 2007, in Chicago, Ill.
One of the foremost experts on food microbiology and foodborne illness, Deibel was honored for his more than 50 years of service to the industry as an educator and a scientist. In presenting the award, AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle said Deibel ¡°wrote the book on food microbiology,¡± noting that his chapter in Bergey¡¯s Manual for Microbiology has been read by countless food microbiology students.
Throughout his career, he has worked with food businesses nationwide on spoilage and food safety issues. Today, he owns and operates eight laboratories across the United States and one and Canada and continues to serve the food industry.

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

Food Recall Prompts Stores and Online Retailers to Offer Home Food Test Kits for E.coli and Salmonella in Canada and the United
Food and health retailers are scrambling to offer instant food testing kits for E.coli and Salmonella
Source of Article: http://www.sbwire.com/news/view/14225
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India and Orlando, FL -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/25/2007 -- With the recent string of food recalls, food and health retailers are scrambling to offer instant food testing kits for E.coli and Salmonella manufactured by Magna Medical Services, Inc. MMS Quick Results Food Testing Kits are home food test kits for E.coli and Salmonella.
¡°Retailers will be able to sell home kits for E.coli and Salmonella to clients that need to quickly check their food areas and food products for possible bacteria outbreaks,¡± says Robert Greene, General Manager for Magna Medical Services, Inc ¡°This is a product that should be right next to every home first aid kit.
This fall has seen a number of high profile product recalls due to either possible Salmonella or E.coli exposure from beef to chicken/turkey pot pies. Magna Medical has offered special incentives to retailers to carry the product line. ¡°We want the product in stores by Thanksgiving¡± says Greene ¡°however, we do have our own online store to assist in areas where the product is not available.¡± Consumers that do not have stores offering kits in there are can find them online at www.foodtestingstrips.com.
Recent outbreaks of Salmonella and E. Coli, caused by industry contamination and improper cooking procedures, have contributed to severe illness among consumers worldwide MMS Quick Results Food Testing Kits can be used to test on surfaces, in food product (both raw and cooked), and in water.
The MMS Salmonella instant strip can detect 50 of the most common and deadliest strains. The strips are submerged in food samples, if the organism is present the strip will change color. The MMS E.Coli instant strip can detect the most common and deadliest strains including E.coli 0157:H7. Detection time takes less than 30 minutes which is the fastest test currently on the market.
Magna Medical Services, Inc, a trusted provider of drug testing and screening products who recently expanded to include tests for safety, health, and sanitation.
Robert Greene
Magna Medical Services, Inc.
9884104041
http://www.magnamedicalservices.com

System provides access to food safety information
(MEATPOULTRY.com, October 22, 2007)
by MEAT&POULTRY Staff Source of Article: http://www.meatnews.com/
GENEVA The World Trade Organization (W.T.O.) has launched the SPS Information Management System a tool allowing users to track food safety as well as animal and plant health and safety information.
Specifically, the system will have information on measures member governments have given to the W.T.O. on specific trade concerns they have raised, documents of the W.T.O.¡¯s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Committee, member government¡¯s national enquiry points and their authorities handling notification.
The goal of the system is to allow member governments and other interested parities to find SPS information they need. The system allows users to search based on criteria such as geographic groupings, product codes, comment periods, keywords and more.
The internal version of the system also helps the Secretariat produce official documents such as SPS notifications and helps the office with faster and more comprehensive analyses and reporting on SPS matters. The system may be accessed at spsims.wto.org.

Salmonella - tougher than you think egg producers told 26/10/2007 : News,Veterinary
Source of Article: http://www.farminguk.com/
As the new EU salmonella controls begin to bite, a specialist in this field highlighted the toughness and sheer adaptability of the salmonella bacteria.
Addressing a gathering of major egg producers in Shropshire, Mr Klaus Torborg, director of vaccine sales for Lohmann Animal Health, praised the UK industry's record of control but warned producers to remain on their guard.
"Salmonella bugs are very tough," he said. As an example, he cited American research which showed that, when sent up into space, salmonella bacteria actually become more dangerous. They could sense changes in their environment and altered their genetic machinery so that they could survive.
It was found that the bacteria were able to modify the way they expressed 167 genes. While floating around in the Atlantis orbiter flight they changed their response to the microgravity conditions. Researchers at the Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology at Arizona State University found that afterwards these bacteria were three times as likely to kill infected mice compared with normal bacteria.
This research indicated just how tough, dangerous and adaptable salmonella bacteria are, pointed out Mr Torborg. Back on the farm the emphasis on control was switching from the bird to the environment. He suggested that, despite the UK having the lowest level of salmonella persistence among the major egg-producing countries, producers would have to pay even more attention to rodent control, cleaning disinfection and general bio-security as well as maintaining an efficient vaccination programme.
With the danger of zoonosis ever present, veterinary surgeon Dr Michael Iburg, Lohmann Animal Health's head of Technical Marketing, also emphasised the importance of the role played by the primary producer as the first link in adequate salmonella control right through the food chain.
"Vaccination via the drinking water is time-saving, cost-saving and effective for large populations of chickens on poultry farms," he said.

Hot on the trail of tainted potpies
Health - When foodborne illness strikes, disease detectives search for the links in eating patterns that can help save lives
Friday, October 26, 2007 ALEX PULASKI The Oregonian Staff
Source of Article: http://www.oregonlive.com/
The victims tended to be youngsters, men in their 20s and occasionally the elderly.
Investigators quickly identified some probable culprits, but the cases dragged on, unsolved, for months. The victim list was puzzling. Had mostly women in their 30s and 40s been sickened, for example, the solution would have been relatively easy.
"That's a case where I'd bet my bottom dollar we're looking at a produce item: tomatoes, sprouts or lettuce," said Dr. Kirk Smith, supervisor of the foodborne diseases unit of the Minnesota Department of Health.
Ultimately, an epidemiologist -- a disease detective -- on Smith's staff found the links in a salmonella outbreak that had stumped health departments nationally. Her discovery led to a massive recall this month of Banquet and other potpies manufactured by ConAgra Foods Inc. at a Missouri plant.
Epidemiologists in Oregon and across the country toil in obscurity, reading lab reports and at times chained to a telephone, reciting the same litany of questions: Do you have cramps? Where do you shop? Have you visited a farm or petting zoo?
When it all comes together, though, the effects can be astounding. Disease detectives can prevent hundreds, sometimes thousands, from falling ill, and their findings can bring businesses to their knees.
Last year, after an Oregon epidemiologist linked an E. coli outbreak to bagged spinach, demand for the product disappeared for weeks, and spinach industry losses piled into the tens of million of dollars.
This month, after the Minnesota epidemiologist solved the source of the salmonella outbreak, ConAgra first resisted recalling millions of its popular, low-cost potpies. But the company reversed ground a few days after Smith and an Oregon counterpart, William E. Keene, urged the company to recall.
Keene, a senior communicable disease epidemiologist at the Oregon Public Health Division, said the only real power health officials have over industries is the ability to make their findings public.
Companies have a lot at stake -- Topps Meat Co., for example, announced this month it was closing its doors after an E. coli-related recall of 21.7 million pounds of ground beef. Keene said it's vital to triangulate information on large-scale outbreaks with other health departments across the country as well as with the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"I have some idea about what's on the line for these companies," he said. "Talking to them is a big deal, but it's not hard because we've been through it before."
Processes used to track foodborne illness in Minnesota and Oregon differ somewhat. For example, in Oregon the first contact with victims who have already visited a doctor is usually from a county public health nurse. State epidemiologists weigh in later, and then usually when there are more than two victims.
In Minnesota, state disease detectives call every person suspected of contracting a foodborne illness, asking them a laundry list of questions. The task usually takes a half hour to 45 minutes and is often performed by graduate students, a group that Minnesota epidemiologists jocularly refer to as "Team Diarrhea."
Other times, the full-time epidemiologists handle the calls. Earlier this month, one such call fell to Steph Meyer.
Meyer and other epidemiologists in Minnesota had theorized that the mystery salmonella infection might be tied to a microwaveable product such as chicken tenders. But their questionnaires hadn't shown any consistencies among the victims.
While sitting at her kitchen table the night of Oct. 3, Meyer ran through the standard questions by telephone with a woman. The woman said she ate a lot of microwaveable food at work.
In fact, the woman said, she quite often ate Banquet-brand turkey potpies. Potpies aren't an item on Minnesota's standard list of questions.
The next morning, Meyer called another victim, and after focusing on microwaveable foods, that person also named potpies. Another victim was contacted, with the same result.
"By the end of the day," Meyer said, "I was pretty much convinced that what we were dealing with was potpies."
Minnesota contacted health departments around the country and the CDC. Other victims, when prompted to list microwaveable items they had eaten, recalled potpies as being among them.
That night, Meyer went home and checked her freezer, and was mildly disappointed to find that it contained no potpies she could examine. But she also was relieved to find, upon questioning her husband, that he hadn't recently raided the freezer to eat the last one.

E. coli Bacteria, A Major Problem for the USDA
by Anna Boyd 17:29, October 26th 2007
Source of Article: http://www.efluxmedia.com/
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has increased its efforts to fight against E. coli 0157:H7 with a number of initiatives including expanding testing and more rapid recalls.
U. S. Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Richard A. Raymond, said:
¡°We want the American consumer to know that FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service) has taken a number of aggressive actions to respond to a recent increase in E. coli O157:H7 recalls and illnesses associated with this pathogen and we are further expanding these efforts.¡±
He also stated that there is a higher incidence of E coli bacteria in tests on beef and also a large number of illnesses related to the bacteria than in the previous years. They have therefore announced new actions to minimize chances to get infected with E coli bacteria.
¡°Since January there have been 15 recalls related to E coli in beef this year, eight of those have been associated with human illnesses. In comparison, in 2006 there were only eight related recalls and none of those were related to human illnesses and in 2005 there were only five E coli related recalls. So obviously something has changed.¡±
The agency said that they will make sure that together with suppliers and processors, they will be able to discover whatever seems to be the problem and also to prevent contaminated beef from entering to market.
The most recently recalled products are 10- and 20-pound boxes of beef with the brand names Wespak B.R. and JNS Foods.
The frozen beef products, produced Sept. 14-27, were intended for a Florida correctional institute and a distributor in St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the USDA said. The USDA classified the recall as ¡°Class I,¡± which means there is a reasonable probability that consuming the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.
E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. Last month, the parents of a Pembroke Pines teenager sued Wal-Mart, claiming their daughter nearly died after contracting an E. coli infection from frozen hamburger patties purchased at a local store. The company that produced those patties, New Jersey-based Topps Meat Co., later went out of business.

Farmers reminded of importance of food safety
Thursday October 25 2007
Source of Article: http://sunstkitts.com/
CHARLESTOWN, Nevis Farmers in Nevis were reminded of the importance of good agricultural practices to ensure food safety for all. The call was made by Director of Agriculture in Nevis Dr. Kelvin Daly at the formal opening of a workshop on good agricultural practices yesterday. The workshop was hosted by the Department of Agriculture in Prospect.

The workshop, the final in a total of four hosted by the department for 2007, was designed to assist farmers to become better and by extension to improve the farming culture on the island. Dr. Daly regarded the workshop facilitated by Dr. Felix Canet-Prades of Havana Cuba, an international consultant of food and agriculture and an auditor in Good Agricultural Practices, as a timely exercise for several reasons.
¡°The workshop this morning is very timely on a number of counts. Firstly, we are looking at international and regional export and we are looking at more persons being concerned with safe food at home¡¦
¡°I would say to you that food safety begins right here. Food safety begins at the farm, it is from you that everything emanates and spreads into the community whether inshore or offshore so it is critical that you on the frontline understand what is required of you in terms of food safety,¡± he said.
According to Dr. Daly, there were many aspects of food safety among them proper record keeping, personal hygiene, proper water usage, pesticide use, the use of manure and post harvest handling.
He told the farmers present they should be vigilant and should be on the look out for improper practices by fellow farmers, which he said if went unchecked had the potential to threaten the entire agricultural industry on Nevis.
¡°We are asking you to be vigilant in your own operations and if you see your neighbour doing something wrong with regards to application of pesticides feel no way to ask him to correct it because we are all in the same boat.
¡°Be on the frontline, think safety at all times we try to do it here at Prospect (government owned farm) and we are asking you to do it at your own farms,¡± he said.
Meantime, chairman of the opening ceremony, Chief Extension Officer Walcott James noted that the Department of Agriculture had a responsibility to ensure that it continued to inform the farmers through ongoing training like they had received over the past year and would continue to receive.
He said the training was in relation to worldwide concerns and precautionary measures and the time had come for the implementation of new agricultural practices so that Nevis¡¯ products could be accepted at the international, regional and in the near future in the local market.
The training workshop also included a demonstration at the Prospect Agricultural Station on simple techniques of handling pesticides, herbicides and washing fruits and vegetables.

Where¡¯s the Irradiated Beef?
International Irradiation Association (iiA) Newsletter (October 2007)
Source of Article: Food Irradiation Update (November 2007)
Out of the 8-billion pounds of ground beef produced annually in the US, there are approximately 18-million pounds irradiated for your health and safety. Irradiated ground beef patties are available in the US at many supermarkets, through Schwan¡¯s home delivery system and by mail order from Omaha Steaks.
The Schwan's Food Company features a juicy, one-third pound Black Angus Steak burger and their classic quarter pound burger, 90% lean and full of big, beefy flavour. Both irradiated for your safety. Their website www.schwans.com
¡°Omaha Steaks Ground Beef: Always Superior, Always the Safest. At Omaha Steaks we are proud to provide you with the finest quality, safe and wholesome food. Throughout our 90-year history, we have always taken food safety very seriously. Our top priority is ensuring the integrity of our products and the trust of our customers. That's why we use an innovative food safety technology called irradiation on all our ground beef.¡± www.omahasteaks.com
¡°From ground beef and patties to chicken breasts and whole turkeys, New Generation (by Colorado Boxed Beef) offers America¡¯s broadest selection of irradiated foods?fresh and frozen. Using the same proven technology that NASA has relied on for years, our goal is to uphold the highest standards of food safety while providing an ever-growing selection of wholesome meat and poultry products. www.newgenerationproducts.com
¡°Get all the Facts on Irradiated Beef: We're proud to offer Wegmans Irradiated Fresh Ground Beef as a choice to our customers. This is 100% ground beef with the added food safety benefit of the FDA and USDA-approved irradiation process. By choosing this product, you can start enjoying great-tasting burgers cooked the way you like them moist, juicy and flavorful.¡± visit www.wegmans.com
Leaders and visionaries these companies have been offering customers irradiated products since the early part of this decade. These C.E.O.¡¯s, employees and suppliers can sleep safe and sound at night knowing their products do not have E. coli that is making anyone sick.
We applaud all companies that are answering Bill Marler¡¯s plea ¡°Put me out of business, please. For this trial lawyer, E. coli has been a far too successful practice - and a heart-breaking one. Marler says, "I am tired of visiting with horribly sick kids who did not have to be sick in the first place. I am outraged with a food industry that allows E. coli and other poisons to reach consumers, and a President, Congress and federal regulatory system that does nothing about it.¡±

The Sad Ending of Topps Meat? A Rebirth for Irradiation?
Guest Editorial By Paisan Loaharanu, Adjunct Prof. of Food Safety, Michigan State University & Former Head, Food and Environmental Protection Joint FAO/IAEA Division, Vienna:

Source of Article: Food Irradiation Update (November 2007)

The sad news about Topps Meat Co., Elizabeth, NJ, the largest hamburger processing company in the USA, closing its door because of the largest recall of ground beef in a decade due to E. coli contamination, hit the meat processing industry hard. The end of Topps after 67 years of successful operation, cost almost 100 jobs, millions of related costs of the recall. At least two lawsuits have been filed against the company.

It was exactly a decade ago that Hudson Foods, Inc. made the largest recall of E. coli contaminated ground beef in the history of the USA amounting to some 25 million pounds. The company subsequently went bankrupt. While the incidences of E. coli outbreaks from ground beef appear to have gone down in the past decade, the curse of E. coli O157:H7 never did go away from the meat (and food) industry. In fact, record from CDC in the last 3 years shows the incidences in ground beef has actually increased.

Topps Meat started the initial recalls of over 300,000 lbs of ground beef on 25 Sept. 2007. When the incidences of E. coli were reported in 8 states, the company was forced to recall over 21 million lbs of its hamburgers, representing one year of its production. By that time, the CDC had reported that some 30 people in 8 states fell ill due to links to E. coli strain that was found in Topps Meat hamburgers. In less than two weeks after the initial recalls, Topps Meat decided to close down its business on 5 Oct. 2007.

After the bankruptcy of Hudson Foods, Inc. in 1997 and the media frenzy about E. coli contamination in ground beef and other foods, some radiation processing companies decided to mobilize their actions on food irradiation. However, they had to wait for the final approvals of the FDA and USDA which did not come until 2000 prior to start processing ground beef with irradiation. Among these companies, SureBeam, Inc. based in San Diego, CA, began using electron irradiation to treat ground beef starting in mid-2002. SureBeam became successful due to its effective and aggressive marketing campaign resulting in its collaboration with dozens of meat processing companies and large supermarket chains. Small amounts of irradiated ground beef entered the market in mid-2002 and were appreciated by the food industry and consumers alike. The volume of ground beef irradiated by SureBeam alone increased rapidly to over 20 million lbs and was marketed widely. In fact, as many as 10,000 supermarkets in most states offered irradiated ground beef and other irradiated foods by mid-2003.

Unfortunately, SureBeam, Inc. went bankrupt in early 2004. The closing down of SureBeam was a major setback to radiation processing industry as no other companies had similar capacity and marketing effectiveness as SureBeam. As a result, many food and meat processing companies decided to suspend irradiation of their meat products. Currently, an estimated 15 million lbs of ground beef and poultry meat are processed by irradiation and the volume is not growing.

Regrettably, ground beef is not the only product that has been implicated by E. coli contamination that has caused havoc to the food industry. A year ago, leafy vegetables especially spinach caused widespread illnesses and several deaths due to E. coli contamination. Millions of dollars were lost through recalls, medical cost and marketability of spinach. Yet no clear indication as to the mode of contamination of E. coli in such a product. Irradiation, the only effective killing step for any food products to be consumed raw was proposed to ensure microbiological safety of leafy vegetables including spinach but was ignored by the industry (http://www.acsh.org/factsfears/newsID.865/news_detail.asp). The industry instead decided to sponsor research to find a solution to E. coli contamination without considering the use of irradiation.

The onus to irradiate food belongs not only to the food industry but the radiation processing companies as well. It is clear that these companies did not make enough efforts to convince the food industry that irradiation provides unique killing step under HACCP for raw or frozen as well as for any food to be consumed raw such as leafy vegetables. No doubt, any food to be irradiated must be produced through good agricultural practices and handled according to the prevailing good manufacturing practices including HACCP. Irradiation is not a solution to un-sanitized growing and handling practices.

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