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2nd International Conference for Food Safety and Quality Group Picture

San Francisco, November 6-7, 2007
Next Meeting November 11-12, 2008, San Francisco.

Food contaminants hit snack world

By Charlotte Eyre Source of Article:
05/11/2007 - Pieces of metal may have fallen into sweet treats in the UK and E. coli is suspected in pizza and beef patties in the US, reminding snack manufacturers that both physical and pathogen contaminants can lead to costly recalls.
The news emphasises why processors must always be vigilant, as a range of safety breaches lead to food products being pulled from shelves, as well as negative publicity and a dip in consumer trust.
Unwanted metal detected
Marks & Spencer this week announced the withdrawal of cheesecakes, while United Biscuit pulled a range of biscuit products, after processing managers raised the alarm that pieces of thin metal wire had fallen into the finished products.
Marks & Spencer has now withdrawn Belgian chocolate, frozen chocolate and Courvoisier cream cheesecakes from its own stores, after a supplier warned the company about the possible presence of the wire in the biscuit crumb.
The company said it has also put up point-of-sale notices in all stores where the product was sold, in order to advise consumers to get rid of the cakes if they've already been purchased.
The contaminated United Biscuits chocolate bourbons have an even wider range, as they have already been sold for private label use in supermarkets across the UK, such as Co-op, Aldi, Morrisons, Sainsbury, Somerfield and Tesco.
In a statement, the company blamed the possible contamination on a "machine failure", and apologised to all retailers who may have bought the biscuits.
"We have launched a full investigation to ensure this problem does not occur in the future," a United Biscuit spokesperson said. "We would also like to apologise to consumers for any inconvenience."
Pieces of metal can cause distress and physical injury to consumers if swallowed, especially if the pieces are sharp of jagged.
However, detection in the food industry is sometimes difficult, as traditional metal detectors can often not distinguish between 'legitimate' metal, such as clips on the ends of sausages or aluminium tins, and rogue contaminants.

E. coli strikes US factories
Cargill and General Mills last week ordered a recall over fears that the pathogen E. coli had found its way into meat products.
Cargill, the largest meat processor in the US, announced Saturday it was recalling about 1m lbs (454,000 kgs) of ground beef because of possible infection with the E. coli 0157:H7, a potentially fatal pathogen that causes diarrhoea and dehydration.
The beef had already been used in a number of products sent to retailers, including ground beef patties, lean beef meat and meat loaf.
"However, no illnesses have been associated with this product," said John Keating, president of the Cargill Regional Beef division. "We are working closely with the USDA to remove the product from the marketplace."
It was also feared that the same E. coli strain could have found it's way into pepperoni meat used on pizza made by the companies Totino's and Jeno's, both subsidiaries of General Mills.
"The recall affects approximately 414,000 cases of pizza products currently in stores and all similar pizza products in consumers' freezers," General Mills said. "The frozen pizza products were produced in the company's Wellston, Ohio, plant and distributed to retail establishments nationwide."
However, unlike any Cargill meat products, pizzas were consumed by several individuals later struck down by food poisoning, according to Reuters.
The possible E. coli contamination was uncovered by federal authorities who discovered that nine out of a group 21 people suffering from food poisoning had consumed Totino's or Jeno's pizza with pepperoni topping at some point before becoming ill, the news agency said.
In the US an estimated 76 million cases of foodborne illnesses occur each year, causing about 325,000 hospitalisations and 5,000 deaths, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics for 2005.

Rinsing veggies with water may not be enough
Alumna discovers shigella bacteria cannot be removed from vegetables
By Eric Heisig
Posted: 11/8/07 Source of Article:
Cooks run their vegetables under water to clean them before they are served, but even that preventative measure may not be enough, according to a University study published earlier this year. While researching her doctoral dissertation, Meredith Agle, a 2003 University alumna who works as a scientist at Rich Products, found some types of food-borne pathogens on vegetables cannot be killed by rinsing them under water. These pathogens can make a person sick if not removed. The study revolved around the shigella bacteria, Agle said, which can cause illness if biofilms form and stick to the vegetable. An outbreak of shigella in bean salad in a Chicago restaurant in 1999 was the basis for the research.
A good way to get these pathogens, which also include E. coli and salmonella, off of raw vegetables has yet to be discovered, said Scott Martin, professor in ACES.
"Once these pathogens get on the vegetables, you cannot remove them," Martin said. "There is nothing the consumer can do to remove the pathogens once they get onto the salad, unless you cook them."
These pathogens often enter the vegetables while they are still growing plants. They infect them through the stomata, structures on the outer skin of a plant that allow the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
Martin said there needs to be a better process in the field to kill these pathogens so people can eat bacteria-free vegetables. He compared vegetables contaminated by the pathogens to unpasteurized milk.

"There is no step available like the pasteurization step to treat fresh produce," he said.

The Food and Drug Administration has a procedure on its Web site for consumers to eliminate the chances of their vegetables being contaminated by food-borne pathogens. The FDA advises cutting off all bruised areas, rinsing the vegetable under water and then drying with a clean towel.

Sebastian Cianci, spokesman for the FDA, said these steps will help prevent people from getting sick.

"Food safety begins on the farm and ends with the consumer," Cianci said.

"By following a few simple rules for purchasing, storing and preparing produce, consumers can reduce the likelihood that they will experience food-borne illness," he said.

Agle said food-borne pathogen outbreaks are fairly common. Spinach was taken off the shelves in many supermarkets last year after an E. coli breakout, but Agle said the high level of publicity contributed to the widespread concern.

"There are a lot of outbreaks, but there are even more that go unreported," Agle said.

FDA Food Protection Plan

USDA food official: Agency has all authority it needs
By David Hess
Source of Article:
November 8, 2007 A top Agriculture Department official told the House Agriculture Livestock Subcommittee Wednesday that the agency has enough tools to ensure food safety compliance and will not need legislation to mandate recalls of tainted beef.
USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety Richard Raymond repeatedly rejected the notion that he lacks the authority to crack down on slaughterhouses and meat-packing houses in outbreaks of E. coli and other contaminants that endanger consumers.
The subcommittee grilled Raymond, a physician by training, on a steep increase this year in the incidence of E. coli, chiefly in beef products, that has sickened people around the country.
"This is an issue that affects every state and every [congressional] district," said Livestock Subcommittee Chairman Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa.
Livestock Subcommittee ranking member Robin Hayes, R-N.C., asked whether food safety officials wanted a legislative mandate to order recalls more quickly.
"We think our present system works well," Raymond replied, later noting that meat processors have unfailingly cooperated with USDA in recalling contaminated products. He acknowledged he was deeply concerned about the rise in illnesses from food-borne contaminants but insisted that he had stepped up his agency's inspection and testing regime to combat the problem.
Recent recalls by the packers and retail grocers, he said, demonstrated that the enforcement system is working well and, where it might fail, he will recommend tougher regulations.
He has ordered an increase in the frequency of USDA testing for contaminants, Raymond said, but maintained that "we need to take additional time to strengthen our system and our data collection capabilities before moving forward with [a new] risk-based inspection [approach in the meat-processing system]."
The hearing mostly focused on one of this year's more notorious cases: the contamination from a rare strain of E. coli that spread clusters of illness from Florida to New York. It took the food safety agency about four weeks from the first reported incident of illness to trace the origin of the contaminated beef to the Topps Meat Co., which issued its recall of 331,582 pounds of frozen ground beef products.
Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., lamented the "high number of recalls and illnesses related to food-borne pathogens this year. ... We have seen close to 20 recalls related to E. coli in beef in 2007, with seven recalls in the last 30 days alone. To put that in perspective, there were eight recalls for all of 2006."
Raymond acknowledged the upward swing in illnesses and recalls and pledged "to do more to strengthen our policies and programs. Public health is a lot like riding a bicycle. If we're not moving forward, then we're falling down, and in public health there is no such thing as training wheels."
Much as I hate to support this guy, I have to say that he is correct in saying that he has most of the authority he needs. The slaughterhouses have meat inspectors right in the middle of the lines, who have the authority to condemn anything that they don't feel is clean. The packers have instituted further hygiene measures over the last 10 years, and they are now taking samples of ground meat for bacteriological testing. Most of them hold their shipments until the tests show they are clear, because they don't want to have to recall their product. I am not sure why this company was allowed to distribute contaminated meat without such testing, but I am sure that the USDA will be leaning on them to do it in the future. Tom Posted November 9, 2007 11:07 AM

Congress To Consider Food Safety Reforms
By JOSH FUNK | Associated Press November 7, 2007
Source of Article:
OMAHA, Neb. - Peanut butter is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. But chicken pot pies are the U.S. Department of Agriculture's responsibility. Frozen cheese pizzas FDA. But if there's pepperoni on them, USDA has jurisdiction, too.
Critics of the nation's food safety system say that it is too fragmented and marked by overlapping authority, and they say that may help explain why dangerous foods keep slipping through and why contamination scares are handled in sometimes inconsistent ways.
"One of the underlying problems is the bifurcation of the regulatory system," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest's food safety division.
Critics also complain that the food safety system suffers from a shortage of money and inspectors and inadequate enforcement powers.
In the months ahead, Congress will consider several proposals to reform the system, including the creation of a single food safety agency, an idea opposed by both the FDA and USDA. A top FDA official said the agencies cooperate well now.
"We do not believe a single food safety agency would give us the efficiencies you can have from having two agencies responsible for 99 percent of the food that we eat in this country, both domestic and imported," said Richard Raymond, USDA undersecretary for food safety.
The government structure that protects the food supply took shape piecemeal over the past 101 years. The results could be seen in the way two recalls were handled over the past year.
When Peter Pan peanut butter was linked to a salmonella outbreak in February, ConAgra Foods Inc. recalled it as soon as federal health officials raised questions. But when ConAgra's Banquet-brand chicken and turkey pot pies were tied to a similar salmonella outbreak in October, the Omaha company waited two days to recall them, first issuing only a consumer health warning.
Peanut butter is regulated by the FDA, while pot pies are regulated by the USDA, because USDA has long had authority over meat and poultry.
Ready-to-eat foods like peanut butter, which is eaten right out of the jar, receive closer scrutiny because there is greater danger if harmful bacteria are present in those foods. Products like pot pies must be cooked first, and proper cooking kills most bacteria.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the pot pies sickened more than 270 people, the peanut butter at least 625.
Neither the FDA nor the USDA had the authority to order ConAgra to recall the products. In fact, all food recalls, except for those involving infant formula, are voluntary. Often, the government gets a product recalled by warning the company it could face bad publicity if it does not withdraw the food.
At least a dozen federal agencies share responsibility for keeping America's food safe, with the FDA and the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service playing the biggest roles. But none of the agencies use the same rule book.
The USDA and FDA sometimes must inspect the same food plant. For instance, the USDA inspects plants where frozen pepperoni pizza is made, because of the meat topping. But the FDA is responsible for inspecting plants that make frozen cheese pizzas.
In the two ConAgra contamination cases, it turns out that an FDA inspector hadn't been to the company's peanut butter plant in Georgia for two years before the recall, while a USDA inspector visits the Missouri pot pie plant daily.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest's DeWaal said the FDA cannot ensure a safe food supply. "The FDA's current domestic inspection program is a joke," she said.
Federal regulators and the food industry say the food safety system needs to be adjusted, not overhauled.
America's food is "really remarkably safe," said David Acheson, the FDA's top food safety official.
A recent report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, noted that about 61 percent of the $1.7 billion the federal government spends on food safety went to the Agriculture Department in 2003, which is responsible for regulating about 20 percent of the food supply.
The FDA, which is responsible for most of the remaining 80 percent, gets only about 29 percent of the total.
"FDA's food program is very small compared to its task," said William Hubbard, a top FDA official for 14 years who now pushes for stiffer food safety regulations and more resources for his former employer.

Greater import safety
Published: November 9, 2007
Source of Article:
Give the Bush administration credit for some sound thinking on how to enhance the safety of imported foods and goods. But whether the thinking will be translated into a vigorous program of safety regulation is still an open question.
The administration unveiled its "Action Plan for Import Safety" and a related food safety plan this week to allay consumer anxiety over a spate of recalls of tainted foods, contaminated toys and defective products over the past year. For an administration that is reflexively opposed to strong regulation, the new plans proposed some surprisingly aggressive steps to strengthen the Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Administration.
The FDA, for example, would for the first time get power to order recalls of tainted foods; it would no longer be reliant on persuasion to coax voluntary withdrawals. It would also gain the power to require foreign producers of high-risk foods to certify that they comply with FDA standards. The Product Safety Commission would get enhanced recall powers and be able to level higher fines, up to $10 million. For the most part, however, the plans rely on industries to police themselves.
The plans are notable for their emphasis on preventing problems at their source, by stationing American inspectors in exporting countries and setting up certification programs to identify responsible producers and expedite entry of their goods. There is little doubt that it would be better to prevent dangerous imports before they can be shipped from the home country instead of trying to intercept them in this country.
The plans are disappointing for their lack of specificity, and their failure to propose substantial increases in funding for agencies. The food plan, which applies to both foreign and domestic producers, fails to consolidate separate food safety programs into a single strong agency. Congress will need to flesh out these vague plans with sufficient resources to protect the public from unsafe foods and products.

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

Recall of frozen pizza, beef products labeled high health risk, says U.S. Department of Food Safety and Inspection
Posted on November 7, 2007 by Food Poisoning Attorney
Source of Article:
I had a long chat with Jeff Alexander of The Gardner News on Tuesday. We talked about ffood safety generally and the Pot Pie case in particular Here is his article (or, at least where I am quoted):
The pot pie suit is being handled by Bill Marler; his experience with recalls includes a substantial settlement against Jack In The Box for previous E. coli outbreaks. Mr. Marler offered his views and experience with food recalls. ¡°A lot of recall decisions that get made are based on finances and not wanting to hurt businesses; most people get sick from a food-borne illness and never know what made them sick or even killed them,¡± said Mr. Marler. ¡°Civil litigation is a way of making companies responsible.¡± Asked what he feels is contributing to the recent increase in food recalls, Mr. Marler said, ¡°It¡¯s really crazy these recalls, the wheels of the food safety bus has kind of all come off and in 14 years of doing this, I¡¯ve never seen this kind of activity.¡± Mr. Marler said he thought recalls were based on the moral judgment of companies. ¡°Unfortunately we don¡¯t live in a world where businesses make decisions on pure moral decisions; the economics is they might not get caught and hedge on the side of the product, even if it may be contaminated,¡± he said. Mr. Marler referenced a beef recall of Topp¡¯s frozen hamburgers and the sickness a child in Florida experienced. ¡°For every one person counted by Center for Disease Control, there¡¯s between 20 and 40 times that number that actually got sick and it¡¯s difficult to prove a case on their behalf ; most companies are betting that if doesn¡¯t get in the news or don¡¯t recall they maybe won¡¯t get caught.¡±Full article below:

The U.S. Department of Food Safety and Inspection recently announced a recall of 1,084,384 million pounds of ground beef products from Cargill Meat Solutions that may contain E. coli. This is the second meat-related recall in one week and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced the Class I recall as a high health risk to all consumers. In a Cargill press release, John Keating, president of Cargill Regional Beef said, ¡°No illnesses have been associated with this product and we are working closely with the USDA to remove the product from the marketplace.¡± According to Cargill¡¯s Web site, Massachusetts is among the 10 states included in the recall, and Stop & Shop was listed as one of the retailers that stocks Cargill products. According to a Stop & Shop press release, ground beef and ground beef patties with use-by freeze-by dates of Oct. 19, Oct. 31, and Nov. 3 are subjected to the recall. The Stop & Shop recall is part of a larger nationwide recall by Cargill Meat Solutions, which is a supplier of Stop & Shop fresh ground beef and ground beef patties. General Mills is another food company involved in a recall and it announced Friday that it would be voluntarily recalling Totino¡¯s and Jeno¡¯s brand frozen pizzas because of possible E coli contamination in the pepperoni toppings. According to a General Mills press release, the recall affects approximately 414,000 cases of pizza products. Tom Forsythe, a spokesperson with General Mills said, ¡°The main message for consumers is worrying about a source, and at this point there is not even a link to date because we haven¡¯t found E coli in our plants.¡± He added, ¡°This is a precaution and consumers have appreciated this, and in light of the situation, we responded to the potential that our products have E. coli.¡± According to General Mills, retailers have responded well to removing the recalled products from their shelves. General Mills said state and federal authorities uncovered the potential problem investigating 21 E. coli-related illnesses in 10 states; the earliest case reported to authorities occurred July 20, and the latest case was reported Oct. 10. Totino¡¯s and Jeno¡¯s is based in Minnesota, where a current lawsuit against ConAgra Foods involving a massive frozen pot pie recall is continuing. The pot pie suit is being handled by Bill Marler; his experience with recalls includes a substantial settlement against Jack In The Box for previous E. coli outbreaks. Mr. Marler offered his views and experience with food recalls. ¡°A lot of recall decisions that get made are based on finances and not wanting to hurt businesses; most people get sick from a food-borne illness and never know what made them sick or even killed them,¡± said Mr. Marler. ¡°Civil litigation is a way of making companies responsible.¡± Asked what he feels is contributing to the recent increase in food recalls, Mr. Marler said, ¡°It¡¯s really crazy these recalls, the wheels of the food safety bus has kind of all come off and in 14 years of doing this, I¡¯ve never seen this kind of activity.¡± Mr. Marler said he thought recalls were based on the moral judgment of companies. ¡°Unfortunately we don¡¯t live in a world where businesses make decisions on pure moral decisions; the economics is they might not get caught and hedge on the side of the product, even if it may be contaminated,¡± he said. Mr. Marler referenced a beef recall of Topp¡¯s frozen hamburgers and the sickness a child in Florida experienced. ¡°For every one person counted by Center for Disease Control, there¡¯s between 20 and 40 times that number that actually got sick and it¡¯s difficult to prove a case on their behalf ; most companies are betting that if doesn¡¯t get in the news or don¡¯t recall they maybe won¡¯t get caught.¡±

E. coli Test Used in Preparation for Beijing Olympics Will Improve Food Safety
Source of Article:
K-State expert in real-time testing says E. coli test used in preparation for Beijing Olympics will improve food safety, public health for the event.
Newswise While the world's athletes train for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Chinese officials are working to get the host country's food safety practices in shape.
According to a Kansas State University microbiologist and expert in real-time testing, the key to China's food safety fitness will be keeping E. coli in check. Daniel Y.C. Fung, a professor of food science at K-State, said E. coli is an important indicator pathogen.
"If you find E. coli, something is wrong," Fung said. "E. coli is an indicator of pollution. Usually you will have some fecal material somewhere."
At a large event like the Olympics in a city as large as Beijing, food contamination has the potential to affect a large number of people in a small area. China is working to improve its food safety standards, and Fung said it's not uncommon to test for air quality or food contaminants at events like the Olympics.
"You're talking about millions of people running around and eating and drinking," Fung said. "That's why testing is important for a large event like this."
Although not easily spread, E. coli can indicate the presence of other pathogens like salmonella, clostridium and listeria. Fung said that testing for E. coli is important because testing for multiple pathogens simultaneously is difficult.
"There's not really a system to detect all of these pathogens at once," he said. "E. coli is the largest volume pathogen. It indicates the quality of the environment, food and animals. It's a good idea to monitor it."
What makes the E. coli testing method used for the Beijing Olympics interesting, Fung said, is its speed. He said he is amazed the tests used next summer in China will provide results in about 20 minutes. Other E. coli testing methods can take hours, he said.
In spite of the testing technology available, Fung said one of the best methods for keeping Olympic spectators and participants safe from contaminated food is a bottle of hand sanitizer. It kills about 99 percent of germs and has become common, if not mandatory, in another venue with a high concentration of people and potential for food contamination -- cruise ships.
Fung said that although cruise ships caught flack for outbreaks of novovirus several years ago, passengers most likely picked it up on their ports of call by eating at local establishments with lax food safety standards. Whether tourists eat during a stop on a cruise or at a Beijing food stand at the Olympic . this summer, Fung said diners should be reasonably cautious about food contamination.
"In spite of everything we hear about outbreaks, compared to the amount of food eaten every day it's actually a very small number of people who are affected," he said.

Food recalls likely to become more common
Foodstuffs' increasingly global origins, multiple agencies bar thorough checks
By Dan Thanh Dang and Larry Carson | Sun reporters
November 6, 2007
Source of Article:
Consumers suffering from recall fatigue should get used to news of contaminated food as underfunded regulatory agencies struggle to police a burgeoning food system that's supplied by all corners of the world market, food safety experts said yesterday.
Just this weekend, more than 1 million pounds of E. coli-contaminated ground beef was recalled by Pennsylvania-based Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. from stores including Giant Food and Wegmans in Maryland.
In the past month, more than a half-dozen recalls have been issued for tainted meat products ranging from ground beef to frozen meat pizzas and potpies.
"It's one thing after another," said Michelle McFadden, 38, who was shopping yesterday at the Giant in Ellicott City.
She, like other shoppers, said there's little they can do to protect themselves, other than cooking food well and watching for news alerts. She decided to play it safe by not buying beef for awhile.
Kathleen Joesting said she found out too late about the recent recall.
The Ellicott City resident had already eaten a burger for dinner on Saturday before her husband heard the news and rummaged through their trash. He discovered that the ground beef they purchased from the Giant was part of a contaminated batch.
Joesting said she feels fine so far, but added, "We'll find out in a few days."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently implemented a more aggressive program of inspecting meat and recalling infected meat more rapidly. Still, the pace of recalls and contact with infected food will likely continue, experts said.
"You can't inspect your way to a safe food supply," said Douglas Powell, scientific director at Kansas State University's International Food Safety Network. "You can't have an inspector on every site 24/7 to inspect every piece of food that goes to market. You have to create a culture where everyone from the farm to the processing facility, people at restaurants, consumers at home are more in tune with the culture of food safety.
"People need to get really religious about this," Powell said. "Food safety is everyone's responsibility."
And while government regulators are trying to safeguard the food supply, the task is made more difficult by the number of agencies involved, according to the watchdog group Consumers Union.
"There's an inherent problem with the oversight of the industry and that's why we're seeing a stream of problems," said Urvashi Rangan, senior scientist and policy analyst at Consumers Union. "There is no regulatory agency that can mandate a recall. Recalls are voluntary.
"Oversight of our food supply is very fragmented," Rangan said. "You've got up to 15 agencies that oversee our food supply. As a result, it makes it very difficult to implement a comprehensive and holistic system that enables an agency to take quick and consistent action to protect consumers."
For example, while the USDA regulates the chicken, the Food and Drug Administration regulates the egg and the Environmental Protection Agency regulates the water that the chicken drinks, Rangan said.
Add in that food products that come from all corners of the world and you have a system ripe for potential failure, said Jerry Gillespie.
"While we remain an exporter of food, there has been an huge, huge increase in the amount of food we're importing," said Gillespie, associate director of the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security at the University of California, Davis.
"The complexity of our new globalized food system and the rapid expansion of the food supply makes it a lot more difficult for underfunded agencies to control sanitary conditions and the condition in which food is transported. We're probably going to have pretty regular food-borne outbreaks."
Detecting E. coli in products can be very difficult, experts said. With millions of pounds of meat produced daily, regulators can test only batches at a time.
"You can test for the overall presence of salmonella, for instance, but the ability to detect E. coli is very, very remote," Gillespie said.
With such potential dangers lurking in the marketplace, consumers need to protect themselves by cooking food thoroughly and preventing cross-contamination while preparing foods.
"I don't think the consumer needs to be afraid of food," said Mindy Brashears, director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence at Texas Tech University. "We have the safest food supply in the world.
"The fact that there's no lack of recalls shows that the system is working pretty well," Brashears said. "We've had years where we've had very few recalls and years where we've had several. I think it's a cycle and, in the next few months, it might go away."
Bill Emery is taking no chances. Yesterday, the 70-year-old and his wife, Gerry, opted for a pot roast while shopping at Giant rather than the ground beef.
Gerry Emery, 68, said they tried to remember whether the beef they ate recently might have been from the bad batch, but even if it was, it's too late now, the Columbia couple said. "We already ate it and we're not dead," they said, smiling.

Why the "Uptick" in E. coli cases in 2007?
Posted on November 8, 2007 by Food Poisoning Lawyer
Source of Article:
I have been pressing everyone I know in food safety and the meat industry about the ¡°uptick" in E. coli cases in 2007. Here are some ideas from recent press reports:
USDA says has enough legal authority to do recalls
¡°Raymond said there are several factors USDA is investigating that could be responsible for the uptick in E. coli discoveries. Among them include the pathogen becoming resistant to drugs and changes in weather or diet that can lead to stress in the animal. He assured lawmakers it was not because companies are being careless or inspectors sloppy in their work. "I think it's starting with the animal's environment," said Raymond. "There is a change in what we feed cattle and I don't know if that has created a problem."
Is this an explanation? What is the change? I understand that perhaps with the increase in the price of oil there has been an increase in ethanol production and waste products ? eaten by cows? Anyone have any other ideas? How about this:
Crackdown Upends Slaughterhouse¡¯s Work Force
¡°Last November, immigration officials began a crackdown at Smithfield Foods¡¯s giant slaughterhouse here, eventually arresting 21 illegal immigrants at the plant and rousting others from their trailers in the middle of the night. Since then, more than 1,100 Hispanic workers have left the 5,200-employee hog-butchering plant, the world¡¯s largest, leaving it struggling to find, train and keep replacements. Across the country, the federal effort to flush out illegal immigrants is having major effects on workers and employers alike. Some companies have reluctantly raised wages to attract new workers following raids at their plants. After several hundred immigrant employees at its plant in Stillmore, Ga., were arrested, Crider Poultry began recruiting Hmong workers from Minnesota, hiring men from a nearby homeless mission and providing free van transportation to many workers.¡±

Hmmm, a influx of unskilled US workers with high turnover ? sound interesting. What other ideas?

Beef Sold At Sam's Club Being Recalled
Source of Article:
Cargill Inc. is voluntarily recalling more than 840,000 pounds of ground beef patties distributed at Sam's Club stores nationwide after four Minnesota children who ate the food developed E. coli illness, a Cargill official said Saturday.
The Sam's Club warehouse chain, which sold the burgers that sickened the children, had previously pulled the same brand of ground beef patties from its shelves nationwide.
The children became ill between Sept. 10 and Sept. 20 after eating ground beef bought frozen under the name American Chef's Selection Angus Beef Patties from three Sam's Club stores in the Twin Cities area.
Two of the children were hospitalized; one remains in the hospital and the other has been discharged, the state Health Department said.
Cargill is voluntarily recalling nearly 845,000 pounds of frozen ground beef patties that were produced on Aug. 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17, Cargill spokesman Mark Klein said. Each package bears the establishment number "Est.924A" inside the USDA mark of inspection.
Most of the recalled products were the American Chef's Selection Angus Beef Patties packaged in 6-pound boxes containing 18 patties of one-third pound each, Cargill said. Each package bears a case code of 7703100 and "Best If Used By" dates of Feb. 5, 6, 12 and 13, 2008.
Although the extent of contamination is not known, Cargill is recalling the products as a precaution, said Bill Rupp, president of Cargill Meat Solutions.
Cargill has been cooperating with the state Department of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to determine the scope of the issue, Klein said.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is working with the federal Agriculture Department to determine the source of the contamination.
Cargill learned of the issue Friday, when a compliance officer from the federal Agriculture Department visited the company's ground beef facility in Butler, Wis., Klein said. Officials had traced the patties to that plant.
Symptoms of E. coli illness include stomach cramps and diarrhea.
People typically are ill for two to five days but can develop complications including kidney failure. People who have developed such symptoms should contact their doctor, the Health Department said.
Cargill, based in Wayzata, Minn., is one of the nation's largest privately held companies and makes food ingredients, moves commodities around the world and runs financial commodities trading businesses.
The Cargill recall comes on the heels of Elizabeth, N.J.-based Topps Meat Co.'s recall of 21.7 million pounds of ground beef amid E. coli concerns. The recall - the second-largest beef recall in U.S. history - caused Topps on Friday to announce that it's going out of business.
The source of the E. coli contamination at Topps is still being investigated, but USDA spokeswoman Sharon Randle said Saturday that the Cargill and Topps cases are not related.
For more information check Cargill:

Latest norovirus cases up to 30 in Redwood Falls
Associated Press - November 8, 2007 12:54 PM ET
Source of Article:
REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. (AP) - The number of people sickened by the latest norovirus utbreak in Redwood Falls continues to grow.
Director Jill Bruns of Renville-Redwood County Public Health says the number of people who got sick at a local McDonald's is now up to 30 -- including 18 customers and 12 workers.
Bruns says most of the people who got sick ate there last Saturday -- and most of them live in the Redwood Falls area.
The most recent case was reported Tuesday, which Bruns says would be at the end of the incubation period of the virus if the person contracted it Saturday or Sunday.
Earlier, dozens of people got sick after eating last month at a Burger King in Redwood Falls.
Health officials are now requiring all restaurant workers in both Redwood and Renville counties to wear gloves, to prevent the spread of the food-borne illness.
Information from: J.P. Cola, KWLM/KQIC Willmar,

Oxoid QC Micro-organisms Receive Stamp of Approval from ATCC
source from:
Oxoid have announced that the Remel Quality Control Micro-organisms (Culti-Loops¢ç and Quanti-Cult¢ç) available from Oxoid have recently been added to the ATCC (American Type Culture Collection) Licensed Derivative¢ç Program*, which has been introduced for commercial organizations that use ATCC derived organisms within their products.

Inclusion in the program means that Culti-Loops and Quanti-Cult products containing ATCC-derived micro-organisms will bear the ATCC Licensed Derivative Emblema, thus assuring customers that the viability, purity and identification of the micro-organisms have been tested and confirmed by the ATCC and maintaining the quality of the Oxoid and Remel Quality Control organism range. Such assurance is of enormous benefit to the global diagnostic and analytical testing market, supporting standards and increasingly stringent criteria for Quality Control (QC) testing within the industry.

Culti-Loops are stabilised micro-organisms, supplied ready to use in disposable bacteriological loops. Each loop is individually foil wrapped and, once removed, can be used to streak up to five agar plates.

Quanti-Cult and Quanti-Cult Plus¢ç are preserved micro-organisms designed to deliver a specific range of colony forming units (CFU). Supplied in plastic vials, once rehydrated, they are ready to use immediately, eliminating the need for a growth period or serial dilutions. Quanti-Cult vials contain a single inoculum of less than 100 CFU in 0.3ml, whereas Quanti-Cult Plus vials deliver less than 100 CFU in 0.1ml, with each vial containing 10 inocula.

Culti-Loops and Quanti-Cult products are ideal for use in clinical, food, pharmaceutical, research and industrial applications for QC procedures, including: performance testing and method validation; microbial limit testing; bioburden testing; bacteriostasis and fungistasis testing; and growth promotion testing. They can also be used in the maintenance of stock cultures.
Julie Elston, QC organisms product manager at Oxoid, comments, "Standards and quality are important considerations for QC and the addition of the Culti-Loops and Quanti-Cult products to the ATCC Licensed Derivative Program further strengthens the benefits that these market leading brands offer to microbiologists around the world."
Over 500 QC strains are available in Culti-Loops and Quanti-Cult formats. For further information, please contact Oxoid using the contact details at the top of this page.
*The ATCC Licensed Derivative Emblem¢ç and the ATCC Licensed Derivative word mark¢ç are trademarks of ATCC. Oxoid, as a sub-licensee of Remel, is licensed to use these trademarks and sell products derived from ATCC¢ç cultures.

USDA selects Neogen to offer Campylobacter medium
Source of Article:
Neogen Corporation was selected by the USDA to be licensed to manufacture a new culture medium called Campy-Cefex to differentiate different Campylobacter pathogens.
According to the company, Campy-Cefex provides a quicker and simpler way to detect and differentiate the pathogens Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli from other, relatively harmless, members of the Campylobacter species.
Campy-Cefex is patented by the USDA¡¯s Agricultural Research Service microbiologist Norman Stern, with the ARS Poultry Microbiological Safety Research Unit in Athens, Ga. Stern¡¯s patented formulation uses the antibiotics cycloheximide and cefoperazone, and has been shown by the USDA to both grow Campylobacter in a culture and repress the growth of most other microorganisms. Consequently, it was determined that the additional antibiotics previously used with other Campylobacter media were not needed.
¡°We¡¯re very pleased to have been chosen to manufacture and market Campy-Cefex, a culture medium that the USDA has shown to provide superior performance in detecting the most dangerous strains of Campylobacter,¡± said Ed Bradley, Neogen¡¯s vice president of Food Safety. ¡°As a partner to numerous poultry production operations, there is an added bit of confidence in offering a medium from the USDA as we work with the regulators to help ensure our customers¡¯ poultry products are safe as they can be.¡±

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