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11/02
2007
ISSUE:278

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Salmonella outbreak expands to 272 cases
Source of Article: http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/

Oct 30, 2007 (CIDRAP News) A Salmonella outbreak associated with pot pies from ConAgra Foods has increased to 272 cases in 35 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported yesterday.
At least 65 people have been hospitalized in the outbreak, but none have died, the CDC said in what it labeled its last update on the episode. The latest case count is close to double the 139 cases reported by the CDC in its first notice about the outbreak on Oct 9.
Yesterday the CDC said at least 272 isolates collected from patients were identified as Salmonella serotype I4,[5],12:i:- and had matching genetic fingerprints. A CDC case-control study has linked salmonellosis cases with eating Banquet brand pot pies, and the outbreak strain has also been found in three pot pies bought by patients, the agency said.
ConAgra first issued a consumer advisory about the outbreak on Oct 9 and followed up with a recall of all varieties of its pot pies on Oct 11, though cases had been linked only to chicken and turkey pies.
The recall includes Banquet pot pies and those sold under the following labels: Albertson's, Food Lion, Great Value, Hill Country Fare, Kirkwood, Kroger, Meijer, and Western Family. The 7-ounce pies bear the establishment number "P-9" or "Est. 1059" on the side of the package. The CDC said consumers should check their freezers and return or discard the products.
Of the states affected by the outbreak, Washington has had the most cases with 27, according to the CDC. Wisconsin has had 24 cases, while California, Missouri, and Pennsylvania have had 18 each.
See also:
Oct 29 CDC update
http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/4512eyeminus.html

Topps, Cargill E. coli Recall and ConAgra Salmonella Too
Posted on October 31, 2007 by E. coli Lawyer
Beef recalls raise concerns about food safety
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
Jeffrey Gold, AP Business Writer (a.k.a. ¡°E. coli Guy¡±) interviewed the husband and father of two of my clients in the Topps E. coli case:
¡®Food is being pushed out at such a rapid pace to keep up with demand, the product is not as safe as it could be. And we¡¯re risking human life.¡¯
Keith Goodwin
Topps eventually issued a recall Sept. 25, and then expanded it Sept. 29 to include all frozen patties it had made in the past year?21.7 million pounds?the second-largest beef recall in U.S. history. Much of the meat had already been eaten, however, and illness in at least 40 people in eight states has been linked to the Topps hamburgers. Keith Goodwin said the victims include his wife and a son, and wondered if the timing of the recall was at fault. He said they ate Topps hamburgers at a family picnic Sept. 15 in upstate New York, more than a week after authorities had evidence that Topps patties were contaminated.
¡°If the public had been made aware of that, a lot of these illnesses would have been avoided,¡± said Mr. Goodwin, of Groton, N.Y., who teaches at the town¡¯s elementary school. He said his wife, Kristin, 34, was hospitalized for two days, while his son Lucas, 8, suffered kidney failure and was hospitalized for eight days. ¡°The whole ordeal has been very scary,¡± Goodwin said.

Pizza E. coli Update and Background
Posted on November 1, 2007 by E. coli Attorney
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
According to the General Mills website, it is the ¡°sixth largest food company in the world." It is also a Fortune 500 company with headquarters in Minnesota, with revenues for 2007 estimated to be nearly $12,500,000,000. On today's news of poisoned pizzas, General Mills shares were down $1.08, or 1.87 percent, at $56.65 on the New York Stock Exchange.
According to today's new's reports, since July 1 of this year, General Mills said Totino's and Jeno's have distributed more than 120 million pizzas nationwide. The frozen pizza products were produced in the company's Wellston, Ohio, plant and distributed nationwide. Surprisingly, General Mills has only recalled 5 million of the 120 million pizzas produced. One wonders if more will be recalled over the coming days.

source from www.marlerblog.com/
According the the CDC, the earliest case was reported on July 20, and the latest was reported on October 10. The ten states reporting illness are, Illinois (1), Kentucky (3), Missouri (2), New York (2), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (1), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (8), Virginia (1), and Wisconsin (1). Still no announcement by General Mills that it will take care of the victims by paying medical bills and wage loss.

E. coli O157:H7 Illnesses linked to General Mills Totino's Pizza in Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
Posted on November 1, 2007 by Food Poisoning Attorney
General Mills Operations, a Wellston, Ohio, establishment, is voluntarily recalling an undetermined amount of frozen meat pizza products because they may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 and may be linked to an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses, the U.S. Department of Agriculture¡¯s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced today.

The following products are subject to recall:
10.2-ounce packages of ¡°Totino¡¯s The Original Crisp Crust Party Pizza Pepperoni.¡±
10.2-ounce packages of ¡°Totino¡¯s The Original Crisp Crust Party Pizza, Classic Pepperoni.¡± 10.2-ounce packages of ¡°Totino¡¯s The Original Crisp Crust Party Pizza, Pepperoni Trio.¡±
10.7-ounce packages of ¡°Totino¡¯s The Original Crisp Crust Party Pizza, Combination Sausage & Pepperoni Pizza.¡±
10.5-ounce packages of ¡°Totino¡¯s The Original Crisp Crust Party Pizza, Three Meat Sausage, Canadian Style Bacon & Pepperoni Pizza.¡±
10.9-ounce packages of ¡°Totino¡¯s The Original Crisp Crust Party Pizza, Supreme Sausage & Pepperoni Pizza with Green Peppers & Onions.¡±
6.8-ounce packages of ¡°JENO¡¯S CRISP `N TASTY PIZZA, PEPPERONI.¡±
7.0-ounce packages of ¡°JENO¡¯S CRISP `N TASTY PIZZA, COMBINATION SAUSAGE AND PEPPERONI PIZZA.¡±
7.2-ounce packages of ¡°JENO¡¯S CRISP `N TASTY PIZZA, SUPREME SAUSAGE AND PEPPERONI WITH GREEN PEPPERS AND ONION PIZZA.¡±
Each package also bears the establishment number ¡°EST. 7750¡± inside the USDA mark of inspection as well as a ¡°best if used by¡± date on or before ¡°02 APR 08 WS.¡± The company applies the ¡°best if used by date¡± on the package based on a 155-day shelf life, however consumers are urged to look in their freezers for similar frozen pizza products and discard them if found. The frozen meat pizza products subject to recall were produced on or before Oct. 30 and were distributed to retail establishments nationwide. The recall affects approximately 414,000 cases of pizza products currently in stores and all similar pizza products in consumers¡¯ freezers. It includes eight SKUs (stock keeping units or UPC codes) of Totino¡¯s brand frozen pizza and three SKUs of Jeno¡¯s brand frozen pizza with pepperoni topping, or incorporating pepperoni in combination with other toppings.

The potential problem was uncovered by state and federal authorities investigating 21 occurrences of E. coli-related illnesses in 10 states. Approximately half of the individuals who became ill were hospitalized as a result. The earliest case reported to state authorities occurred on July 20, and the latest case reported occurred on Oct. 10. Nine of the 21 people reported having eaten Totino¡¯s or Jeno¡¯s pizza with pepperoni topping at some point prior to becoming ill. Since July 1 of this year, Totino¡¯s and Jeno¡¯s have distributed more than 120 million pizzas nationwide.

The problem was discovered following an investigation carried out by the Tennessee Department of Health in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into a multi-state cluster of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses that may be linked to this product. Illnesses occurred in Illinois (1), Kentucky (3), Missouri (2), New York (2), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (1), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (, Virginia (1), and Wisconsin (1). Illness onset dates ranged between July 20 and Oct. 10.

E. coli More Dangerous Than Ever, As Recalls of Tainted Meat Surge
Date Published: Monday, October 29th, 2007
Source of Article: http://www.newsinferno.com/archives/1967
E. coli tainted meat has become a major health problem, as the number of outbreaks and meat recalls blamed on this deadly bacteria have reached record levels in recent months. So far this year, there have been 16 separate recalls of E. coli contaminated meat, double what they where in 2006. Often, the slow action by the US Department of Agriculture and other agencies charged with protecting the US food supply allows E. coli contaminated foods to sicken thousands of people across the country. While Americans simply can¡¯t assume that their food is safe from E. coli, there are some steps that can consumers can take to lessen the threat posed by E. coli bacteria.
E. coli is a bacterium that occurs naturally in the intestines of most animals, including humans. Most types of the bacteria are harmless, but the E. coli 0157:H7 strain can be particularly dangerous to people. The symptoms of E. coli poisoning usually occur within 3 to 9 days after a victim eats contaminated foods. E. coli 0157:H7 causes a disease called hemorrhagic colitis, which is the sudden onset of stomach pain and severe cramps. This is followed by diarrhea that is watery and bloody. Sometimes there is vomiting, but there is no fever. The illness lasts about a week. While most people will recover completely, E. coli poisoning can be very dangerous for children, the elderly and anyone with a weak immune system. In some cases, E. coli 0157:H7 will cause a disorder called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can be life-threatening. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), E. coli 0157:H7 is responsible for sickening 73,000 people every year, and of those, 60 will die from the disease.
Fresh vegetable like spinach have been known to cause E. coli outbreaks. But because the E. coli 0157:H7 strain occurs naturally in the intestines of cows, most outbreaks this year have been traced to tainted beef. Meat products are likely to become contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7 during slaughtering. Ground beef is especially troublesome because the grinding process can spread the E. coli bacteria throughout the meat. Fortunately, E. coli bacteria can be killed by cooking meats to an internal temperature of 160-degrees. For safety¡¯s sake, consumers should use a meat thermometer to insure that this temperature has been reached, as color is not an accurate indicator of doneness. Consumers should also wash their hands frequently when handling raw meat, and utensils previously used on raw meat should never be used to prepare other food items unless they are washed first in hot, soapy water.
People who are suffering from an intestinal illness that could be E. coli should see a doctor immediately. E. coli poisoning can only be confirmed through the testing of stool samples. E. coli victims should be given plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, but under no circumstances should a person suffering from E. coli poisoning be given anti-diarrheal medications, as this can prevent the E. coli toxin from being eliminated from the body. These medications can actually increase the risk that an E. coli victim will develop hemolytic uremic syndrome.
E. coli poisoning is an entirely preventable infection, but unfortunately neither food processors nor government regulators are doing enough to keep E. coli tainted meat out of the food supply. Consumers are the last line of defense in preventing E. coli poisoning. Being safe during food preparation can go a long way towards eliminating the risk of developing a deadly E. coli infection.

Safe and Suitable Ingredients Used in the Production of Meat and Poultry Products

Salmonella shuts Fox's chocolate plant (UK)
Tue Oct 30, 2007
Source of Article: http://uk.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUKL3081803220071030
LONDON (Reuters) - Fox's Confectionery, makers of Fox's Glacier Mints and other sweets, said on Tuesday it had halted production at a plant after discovering salmonella but said no contaminated products had left its factories.
Spokesman Tim Roberts said salmonella had been discovered at a factory on October 15. The company said in a statement it believed a batch of Brazil nuts at its Leicester factory in central England was to blame.
It had shut production on four lines and began a testing and cleansing programme under supervision of the Food Standards Agency and the regional office of the Environmental Food Team and hoped full production could resume later this week.
"We want to reassure all of our customers once again that no affected product whatsoever was released and that stocks on retailers' shelves are completely safe," chief executive Mario Giannotta said.

Scientists warn against folic acid fortification
By Charlotte Eyre
Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/
31/10/2007 - Researchers at the UK Institute of Food Research have warned that fortifying flour with folic acid may lead to a range of health problems, a finding that calls into question the Food Standard Agency's approval of the move earlier this year.
The findings could have a major effect on future EU member government legislation concerning the addition of synthetic folates, a B vitamin, to flour. The move was previously praised because the folic acid has been linked to the prevention of neural tube defects, such as Spina Bifida, in unborn babies.
While the IFR agrees that neural tube defects are reduced by adding folic acid to flour, the research body claims the move may also lead to a range of health problems.
Unlike natural folates, such as those found in leafy green vegetables, which are digested in the gut, synthetic supplements are metabolised in the liver, IFR scientist Sian Astley explained. "The liver becomes saturated and un-metabolised folic acid floats around the blood stream," she said. Once in the blood stream, the folates could provoke a number of health complaints such as leukaemia, arthritis, bowel cancer and ectopic pregnancies.
"For women undergoing in-vitro fertilisation, it can also increase the likelihood of conceiving multiple embryos, with all the associated risks for the mother and babies," she added. "It could take 20 years for any potential harmful effects of un-metabolised folic acid to become apparent."
Researchers called for further investigation into folic acid to gain a true picture of both the benefits and the risks of adding the supplement to flour across the UK.
New research is needed because scientists have assumed that folic acid is metabolised in the small intestine since the 1980s, the IFR said.
"We challenge the underlying scientific premise behind this consensus", Astley said. "This has important implications for the use of folic acid in fortification, because even at low doses it could lead to over consumption of folic acid with its inherent risks".
In a statement, the FSA said that it had carefully considered any health risks associated with the move, including potential cancer risks.
The FSA originally agreed to recommend mandatory folic acid addition to either bread or flour at an open board meeting in May, saying that the decision has been made after "an extensive and scientifically robust assessment". Deidre Hutton, the board's chair, said: "The FSA is committed to policy-making that benefits people's health¡¦ The board recognises that this move, as part of a package of measures, will help prevent birth defects in pregnancy and have wider health benefits for the rest of the population. The board was also reassured by the significant science that the benefits outweigh potential risks." Countries that have made the fortification of flour with folic acid mandatory include the US, Canada and Chile, while the move is currently being debated by regulators in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. Source: British Journal of Nutrition
"Folic acid metabolism in human subjects revisited: potential implications for proposed mandatory folic acid fortification in the UK."
Authors: J Wright, J Dainty, P Finglas

FSANZ issues Listeria warning
November 1, 2007
Source of Article: http://www.ausfoodnews.com.au/db/node/48992
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) today reissued its advice on Listeria in food after a University of Wollongong study* found that 57% of the pregnant women surveyed weren¡¯t aware of all the foods that are potentially high risk and approximately 25% continued to eat these high risk foods while pregnant.
FSANZ¡¯s Chief Medical Advisor, Dr Bob Boyd, said that according to OzFoodNet during 2006 in Australia there were eight Listeria infections in pregnant women with two deaths out of the eight babies and that there were 51 Listeria infections in the elderly or immuno-compromised with 7 deaths.
¡®The food industry, state and territory regulatory authorities and FSANZ have extensive management processes in place to prevent Listeria contamination during food production. However, listeriosis is usually caused by people at risk eating food that has not been stored or handled properly once the food has been produced or cooked.
¡®Listeria bacteria are found widely in nature and may be present in pre-prepared uncooked foods or pre-cooked foods which have been kept for some time after they have cooled down.
¡®If you or anyone in your household is pregnant, immuno-compromised or elderly, it is important you reduce your risk by taking a few simple precautions. For example: by eating only freshly prepared and well-washed food, following good food hygiene practice such as washing and drying hands, by cooking foods thoroughly, and by refrigerating leftovers immediately and keeping them no more than a day.
¡®FSANZ has a free brochure that contains advice on safer eating alternatives for people at risk in the meat, chicken, salads, seafood and dairy products food categories. It also lists some higher risk foods that people at risk should be wary of consuming especially if they are unsure about how the foods have been stored and handled. However, the higher risk foods become safe if you cook the food or reheat it to steaming hot throughout, and serve it hot.
¡®Remember that good nutrition is essential during pregnancy, for those with poor immune systems and the elderly. So it is important to replace any food from the ¡®avoid¡¯ group with a similar one from the ¡®safe¡¯ group. For example you can replace soft cheese with packaged cottage cheese or cheddar and make your own salads just before the meal instead of buying them pre-prepared.
¡®The University of Wollongong research also found that 59% of pregnant women had received some sort of information on food safety. Those that had information received it from a number of sources including 48% from their social network, 42% from health care providers and 27% from a Listeria pamphlet.
¡®I would like to remind health professionals of the dangers of Listeria and to make sure they have supplies of the FSANZ brochure on Listeria. I also suggest that family and friends may also want to remind pregnant women about the risks of Listeria, especially first time mothers,¡¯ Dr Boyd concluded.
The Listeria brochure is available on the FSANZ website at http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/_srcfiles/Listeria.pdf and copies can be ordered by emailing info@foodstandards.gov.au . There is a full list of higher risk foods and advice for health professionals on the FSANZ website
http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/n . Pregnant women and health professionals can also find information at the NSW Food Authority's website at www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/pregnancy.asp , or via its NSW telephone Helpline on 1300 552 406 where brochures in 12 languages can be requested.
Mediacontact: Lydia Buchtmann FSANZ 0411 268 525 or +61 2 6271 2620 or
Source: Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health (2007 vol. 31 no. 5), ¡°Listeria education in pregnancy: lost opportunity for health professionals¡±, D. Bondarianzadeh, H. Yeatman & D. Condon-Paoloni

Cloned meat, dairy make way to the table
(The Examiner)
SAN FRANCISCO - Families and friends who share eggnog, lamb curry or beef stew this winter may not know whether the main ingredients came from cloned animals, after the governor vetoed a San Francisco lawmaker¡¯s labeling bill.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is poised to end a voluntary moratorium on the sale of dairy and meat from cloned cattle, goats, pigs and sheep, after it ruled last year that the food is safe for humans. The agency published a health risk assessment in December that noted high death rates among cloned animals and host mothers, partly because of incidents of ¡®large animal syndrome¡¯ in cloned cattle and sheep.
A federal bill to require labels on food from cloned animals and their descendents has been stalled in Democratic-controlled congressional committees since February. A similar bill by state Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, passed the Legislature last month, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently refused to sign it.
To clone an animal, scientists move its genetic material into excavated donor embryos, which are planted in host mothers to grow as genetic doppelgangers of the prized beast. A Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology survey last year found that two-thirds of Americans are ¡°uncomfortable¡± with the technology.
Migden said labels on cloned food would let consumers know and choose what they put on the dinner table, but Schwarzenegger told lawmakers in a veto statement that Migden¡¯s proposed rules ¡°could be unworkable, costly and unenforceable,¡± and might violate federal law.
About a dozen agricultural and retail groups opposed Migden¡¯s bill. California Farm Bureau lobbyist Noelle Cremers said cloning lets livestock producers ¡°more quickly respond to consumer demand¡± by replicating valued animals, and that it would be ¡°next to impossible¡± to segregate food, for labeling purposes, from cloned animals and their descendents.
Labels for cloned food would mislead consumers, which would violate federal law, said Cremers, because there¡¯s ¡°absolutely no difference¡± between food from cloned and non-cloned animals.
But food-safety and animal-welfare groups criticized Schwarzenegger¡¯s decision. ¡°The animals are injected with large amounts of hormones ? and that¡¯s a food safety issue,¡± said Rebecca Spector, the San Francisco-based West Coast director of The Center for Food Safety.
The nonprofit noted in a report that the federal government¡¯s risk assessment relied heavily on studies that weren¡¯t reviewed by other scientists. ¡°We feel very strongly,¡± Spector said, ¡°that there hasn¡¯t been adequate testing.¡±
UC Davis biotechnologist Alison Van Eenennaam said overgrown young are a side effect of in vitro fertilization, and that they¡¯re usually delivered safely by Caesarean section. ¡°Most of these companies have got a few vets on staff,¡± she said. ¡°It¡¯s not like it¡¯s Joe Blow out in the field hoping for the best.¡± 10-29-07

Food Safety and Quality Related Job Openings
Food Safety Programs Director Food Marketing Institute - Crystal City, VA
Food Chemist/ Nutritional Chemist EMSL Analytical, Inc. - Indianapolis, IN
QA/QC Manager - Carl Buddig and Company South Holland, IL
Regional QA/Sanitation Specialist - BJ's Wholesale Club Baltimore/Wash DC; VA; NC; SC
Quality Systems Manager - McCormick & Co., Inc. - Hunt Valley, MD
Sales/Marketing Position Sterilex Corp - Owings Mills, MD
Laboratory Coordinator/QA Supervisor - Bar-S Foods Co Elk City, OK

Food Safety and Quality Related Job Openings

When is a Recall not a Recall? When you still can buy contaminated meat on your store shelves.
Posted on October 31, 2007 by E. coli Attorney
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
Jeff Gold, AP Business Writer in New Jersey, has continued to dig into the complete failure of the ¡°voluntary recall¡± system to get this E. coli - contaminated Topps hamburger off store shelves. I posted nearly a week ago when reports first surfaced that the product was still being sold a month after Topps issued a recall (and went out of business). So, who is responsible for removing E. coli ? contaminated meat off store shelves? Mr. Gold¡¯s story:
State inspectors find more recalled meat at New Jersey stores
Meat recalled a month ago that could be contaminated with a potentially fatal bacteria was found in seven northern New Jersey stores, state consumer safety officials said Tuesday. Inspectors in the past week have seized 138 boxes of frozen hamburgers made by Topps Meat Co., which issued a nationwide recall on Sept. 29 for 21.7 million pounds of frozen patties.
Greater New York Frozen Food Distribution Co. Inc., of New York, was subpoenaed last week. A spokesman for the company said Tuesday that no meat was delivered after the recall. "The meat was delivered before the recall, on Sept. 10," spokesman Frank Conner said. "We are one of many companies that delivered the meat before the recall. We stopped delivering the meat as soon as we heard about the recall. We have no control over what a grocery store owner does with his stock."
"Recall," that it has been reported that there are at least three "genetic fingerprints" of E. coli O157:H7 (potentially meaning that the contamination at Topps came from multiple sources - at least three) that has been found in ill people and in left over product. One of those fingerprints was found in a Canadian Meat Plant (now also in bankruptcy) that was the source of both meat to Topps and to the death of one Canadian and the sickening of 44 others this past summer. It will be interesting if the paperwork and grinding records at Topps allows for the "traceback" of all genetic fingerprints to the source.

Carbon monoxide keeps meat red longer; is that good?
Source of Article: http://www.usatoday.com/
By Julie Schmit, USA TODAY
A small company in Kalamazoo, Mich., has the meat industry on the run over how the meat you buy is packaged.
Kalsec has waged a two-year fight and spent $800,000 to battle food regulators and meat producers over a fledgling practice of packaging fresh meat with a harmless dose of carbon monoxide.
The gas keeps meat an appealing red for more than 20 days ? about twice as long as other popular packaging and far longer than the few days unwrapped meat stays red in a butcher's case.
The red color is the problem, say Kalsec, consumer groups and several lawmakers. The gas not only keeps meat red while on the shelf but after it's spoiled.
They say consumers ? who consider color when picking meat ? will be fooled into buying spoiled or old meat and not smell trouble until they open the package at home.
The packaging presents "serious consumer deception and food-safety risks," Kalsec says in a filing to the Food and Drug Administration. It wants the practice banned.
The meat industry disputes Kalsec's claims and says it is running a "baseless" scare campaign because carbon monoxide packaging would obliterate a rival Kalsec product.
A family-run firm with 300 employees, Kalsec sells natural colorings, spices and herbs. One of its products is a rosemary extract that meat processors use in packaging that keeps meat a nice red for about half as long as the carbon monoxide-infused packaging.
When Kalsec saw major meat companies switch to carbon monoxide, "It started an attack campaign," says Janet Riley of the American Meat Institute, who says Kalsec's "arguments are hollow."
The meat industry says shoppers are tipped off to bad meat by bulging packages in stores and expired use-or-freeze-by dates. By keeping meat fresh-looking longer, the industry hopes to save millions of dollars a year by selling meat that consumers would have shunned before because of poor color.
Carbon monoxide packaging is "not a public health issue," says Michael Osterholm, a public health official at the University of Minnesota who often criticizes foodmakers for poor food-safety controls.
Osterholm, who also consults for food companies Fresh Express and Hormel Foods, says he's never heard of a food-borne illness outbreak tied to spoiled meat, in part because bacteria such as E. coli don't thrive in spoiled meat because spoilage bacteria out-compete them for nutrients. "There are huge issues in food safety right now, and this isn't one of them."
Yet the issue is playing big on Capitol Hill. Two Democrats from Kalsec's home state, Reps. John Dingell and Bart Stupak, have taken up the matter as part of a wide-ranging assault on the government's food-safety record.
Their committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee, has not only held two food-safety hearings this year in which the issue was discussed, but they've also sent letters to meat companies and grocers challenging the use of carbon monoxide packaging. Almost one by one, the letter-getters have folded.
Pages of questions
In June, the legislators wrote Safeway (SWY), noting that the company, "unlike most other supermarket chains," sold fresh meat packaged in a way to "alter the color of the meat to make it appear fresh and wholesome indefinitely."
The letter then posed pages of questions for Safeway, including how it "assures that consumers, particularly those of declining eyesight, can read the use-or-freeze-by dates on packages."
In its response a month later, Safeway said it would drop the packaging, explaining the committee's concerns may have "raised concerns with customers who do not have the benefit of the background on this process."
Tyson Foods (TSN) in August curtailed use of the packaging after it, too, got a letter. Tyson cited "lack of customer demand."
Giant Food, a Maryland-based chain, dropped it this month. It said, "Some customers found the retention of the red color ¡¦ to be confusing." Kroger and Publix have also shunned the packaging.
But Hormel (HRL), one of the technology's biggest backers along with foodmaker Cargill, says it's put out 120 million packages of product using carbon monoxide and has a consumer complaint ratio that rivals "the Maytag repairman," Hormel Vice President Phil Minerich said Tuesday in a hearing before the House Committee on Agriculture.
Opponents say consumers don't know they're buying carbon-monoxide-infused packages. Labels don't disclose it, and the packaging looks like other meats packed in what foodmakers call "modified atmosphere packaging," or MAP.
In MAP packages, foodmakers use a combination of gases ? nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide ? to battle the aging effects that regular air has on foods. Leafy-green companies and potato-chipmakers use MAP, but they don't use carbon monoxide. Kalsec's rosemary extract is used by meat producers in a non-carbon-monoxide MAP format.
Stupak, who chairs the House's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, has co-authored a bill that would require a safety notice on meat, seafood and poultry using carbon monoxide packaging.
He says committee investigators recently found healthy-looking imported fish packaged with carbon monoxide to be decomposed. The proposed notice would warn consumers to "discard any product with an unpleasant odor, slime, or a bulging package."
No 'alarmist' label needed?
Riley of the meat institute says there's no evidence an "alarmist" label is needed. "Packaging gases have never been labeled," Minerich told lawmakers Tuesday.
The hearing ? whose witnesses included Cargill and Tyson representatives ? provided a more supportive atmosphere for the meat industry than hearings held by Dingell and Stupak. Kalsec refused an invitation to testify, and several consumer groups complained that they weren't invited.
The FDA has so far allowed carbon monoxide packaging for beef, pork and raw tuna when used as an ingredient in tasteless smoke, used as a preservative.
Other regulators have been tougher. The European Union doesn't allow it for meat and tuna. Canada bans it in fish; Singapore does for fresh tuna.
Kalsec says a big concern is that meat not stored at a proper temperature might spoil but still look good. The European Union had the same worry in 2001 when a committee said carbon monoxide in packaged meats posed "no health concerns" as long as meats were kept at proper temperatures. If not, "The presence of carbon monoxide may mask visual evidence of spoilage," it said.
Kalsec also says that the FDA should have treated the carbon monoxide as a "color additive," which requires a rigorous FDA safety review. Instead, the FDA allows it under regulations for substances that are "generally recognized as safe," based on evidence submitted by proponents. The U.S. Department of Agriculture shares the FDA's stance on the issue.
Kalsec Vice President Don Berdahl acknowledges that Kalsec has a financial interest in the battle. He says the company wants "a level playing field" and that "it's ridiculous the FDA has dropped the ball." Kalsec says it didn't testify Tuesday before the Agriculture Committee because its beef is with the FDA.
The FDA had no comment. It is reviewing Kalsec's petition.
The meat industry says Kalsec's additive argument is off-base, given a 25-year-old decision by the FDA to draw a distinction between products that "impart" color and those that "fix" color, which it says is what carbon monoxide does.
Kalsec's petition, the industry argues in filings to the FDA, should be "denied" as it is a "transparent, misguided and misleading attempt to challenge a competing product."

bioMerieux Bidirectional Connection with LIMS for Both Pathogen and Quality Indicator Data
source from: rapidmicrobiology.com
bioMerieux launches BCI-Net to connect its TEMPO¢ç and VIDAS¢ç platforms to customer LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System). BCI-Net is a bioMerieux communication interface, designed to simplify, secure and speed up data management.
¡°bioMerieux is always looking for innovations that will bring increased productivity and traceability to our customers,¡± said Alexandre Merieux, bioMerieux Corporate Vice President, Industrial Microbiology. ¡°We are proud to be the first company to provide a bidirectional communication interface with the LIMS for both pathogen and quality indicator analysis.¡±
Today many laboratories are investing in LIMS to help them be compliant with the traceability legislation (ISO 17025) and to improve their productivity. BCI-Net ensures complete traceability. Data quality and integrity are improved since analysis demands and results are automatically transferred between LIMS and the TEMPO¢ç and VIDAS¢ç platforms, thereby reducing possible transcription errors.
Connecting the bioMerieux analyses systems to the LIMS simplifies the laboratory workflow by reducing manual data transfers. The TEMPO¢ç-VIDAS¢ç LIMS connection also allows customers to facilitate and accelerate their supply chain management by checking pathogen and Quality Indicator results as they come in.
With its open architecture platform, BCI-Net is able to connect VIDAS¢ç and TEMPO¢ç to most LIMS.

More shoppers read the labels as food safety fears increase
5:00AM Friday November 02, 2007
By Errol Kiong
Source of Article: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/topic/story.cfm?c_id=206&objectid=10473622
Sue Kedgley has campaigned for country of origin labelling on food. Photo / Wanganui Chronicle
Nearly three in five people are now reading ingredients labels as New Zealanders grow increasingly concerned over food safety.
A report commissioned by the Food Safety Authority which was released yesterday has shown a 10 per cent increase in the number of people likely to study ingredients labels than was indicated in a similar survey in 2003.
The telephone poll of 750 people conducted by UMR Research also found that more people thought food safety standards had declined.
Food safety campaigner and Green MP Sue Kedgley said the survey results were not a surprise.
"They certainly validate what I pick up around New Zealand.
"There's a growing disquiet about some of the ingredients in highly processed food and concern about the amounts of sugar, fat and salt."
Food safety scandals in China had also undermined people's confidence, she said.
"People, perhaps, don't just have that blind trust they probably once had that anything that's on sale in the supermarket must be safe."
She said it bolstered calls for more comprehensive food labelling. Her petition seeking country of origin labelling already has more than 30,000 signatures.
"They're just rolling in. It's really touched a chord - people do want it and I would hope that the Government listens to consumers and responds to the petition."
But Food Safety Authority deputy chief executive Sandra Daly said the results could not be interpreted as supportive of country-of-origin labelling.
She attributed increased awareness and interest in nutrition as the main factor in the rise in people reading labels. The results were generally in line with surveys conducted in 2003 and 2005.
While 85 per cent of respondents cited chicken as a primary food safety concern, 95 per cent said they were aware of the need for special care when cooking and handling poultry, and always checked to ensure it had been cooked properly before eating.
Nearly one in five also agreed with the statement, "a little bit of food-related illness every now and then is good as it builds your immunity" - more than double the figure from 2003. The number who disagreed with the statement also dropped by 20 per cent.
Ms Daly said the finding was "surprising" but the survey did not probe the reason for people's opinions on that matter.
Overall, three-quarters of respondents cited salmonella as a food safety issue that most concerned them, followed by antibiotics in meat (67 per cent) and campylobacter (63 per cent).
Those concerned about the use of pesticides to grow food and genetically modified foods remained consistent at 62 per cent and 56 per cent respectively.
While 42 per cent believed government regulations on food handling at fundraising barbecues or food stalls would be over the top, 81 per cent expected the same level of food safety at a fundraiser as they would at any other commercial outlet.

New MiGroFilterM makes Microbiological Monitoring Rapid, Safe and Convenient.
source from: rapidmicrobiology.com
Anachem has launched its new monitor unit MiGroFilterM together with MiGroMedia, ready-to-use, pre-aliquoted, species specific media. This single use pre-sterilised monitoring system is ideal for use in quality control procedures for beer, wine, soft drink and bottled water production. This convenient, all in one system ensures ease of use, and consistency of testing conditions to ensure maximum reliability of results.

The MiGroFilterM unit comes complete with a graduated sample vessel, fixed gridded cellulose acetate membrane and culturing Petri dish device with re-sealable vacuum port. The 100ml capacity makes it perfect for testing for contamination in liquid samples, from raw material to finished products. The system is supplied pre-sterilised and ready-to-use; saving you up to 70% in set up time and eliminating the risk of cross-contamination.

For even greater convenience and to suit specific applications, a choice of ready to use MiGroMedia is available: M Green Yeast & Mould, M-TGE Total Count Media, M-Endo Coliform Broth, KF Streptococcus Broth, Cetrimide Broth or MLSB. The media is pre-aliquoted in easy-to-use, 2ml sterile ampoules that save you time and money. It has an industry leading shelf-life of up to 18 months for added convenience, MiGroMedia ensures that every test is carried out using the same preparation, quality controlled media, removing the possibility of user-to-user inconsistencies.

After the filtration step is complete, the funnel is removed from the device and the pre-aliquoted MiGroMedia is added. The lid is then replaced on the unit converting it into a petri dish for culturing any microbes recovered from the test sample..

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