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Why we can't trust
December 6, 2007 Source of Article: http://www.boston.com/
THE SHORTCOMINGS in the Food
and Drug Administration that became apparent during the scandals over
Vioxx and contaminated spinach are just a small part of the problems besetting
the agency. In a recent review, a panel of experts concluded that the
FDA suffers from outdated technology, inadequate staffing, an inability
to hold onto the staff it has, and an overall lack of resources.
The one encouraging feature of the review is that the FDA commissioner
himself, Andrew von Eschenbach, had called for it. That should help guarantee
that the report won't be quickly dismissed, as have similar complaints
about the agency from former employees.
"FDA's inability to keep up with scientific advances means that Americans'
lives are at risk," the report said. "The FDA does not have
the capacity to ensure the safety of food for the nation." With a
budget of about $2 billion, the agency tries to regulate everything from
cosmetics to prescription drugs to most food - products with a total value
of $1 trillion a year.
So a first test of the resolve of Congress and the Bush administration
to address the FDA's problems will be its budget. The increase of just
5.3 percent requested by the agency is clearly not up to the challenges
laid out by the report's authors from industry, government, and academia.
Edward Kennedy, chairman of the US Senate Health Committee, pointed to
the report's conclusions at a hearing Tuesday. He noted that both the
European Union and Japan have more robust systems of food inspection than
the United States, especially for imports. Alarm bells went off in 2006
when pet food imported from China killed or sickened thousands of dogs
and cats in the United States. The Washington Post later unearthed FDA
documents showing human food shipments from China with high levels of
carcinogens, filth, and pesticides.
A former FDA associate commissioner, William Hubbard, told the Globe this
spring that just 2 percent of all food imports from China get inspected
- even with that country's checkered safety record. For food from other
countries, the rate is less than 1 percent. Hubbard said domestic food
producers can go for 10 to 15 years between inspections. It is basically
an "honor system," he said. According to Hubbard, reform will
require a rebuilding of the FDA's corps of scientists. In the last three
years, he said those working at the food inspection headquarters had declined
from 1,000 to 800.
Each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
food-borne illnesses kill 5,000 Americans. Congress can reduce such avoidable
deaths by insisting on an FDA with the resources and authority it needs.
The public should not have to wait for a new administration to crack down
on producers or importers of tainted food.
better? Antibacterial scrubbers vs. soap
By Ranit Mishori
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Source of Article: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/health/2004052358_soap05.html
WASHINGTON If cleanliness is next to godliness, modern America is the
land of the faithful ? fighting the good fight against today's so-called
superbugs with sparkling countertops and well-washed hands.
Our culture's cleanliness obsession
has been fed by a booming business in household products that promise
the virtue of sterility. According to estimates by the Environmental Protection
Agency, our antimicrobial crusade has us spending almost $1 billion annually
on soaps and detergents, toys and cutting boards, bedsheets and toothbrushes,
all of them treated with chemical compounds designed to kill the germs
that cling to them. At the forefront of this product niche is the antimicrobial
hand wash, commonly fortified with the bug-battling chemical triclosan.
It may be a dangerous, germ-filled
world out there, but with your little bottle ? choose one: Dial, Safeguard,
Palmolive ? you can stroll worry-free through it.
Or so you may think.
The anti- in antibacterial
The problem about our obsession
with killing germs, some scientists and public health advocates warn,
is that it may ultimately do us more harm than good.
Chief among those skeptics
is microbiologist Stuart Levy of Tufts University School of Medicine,
president of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA). Levy's
research has led him to question why "antibacterial ingredients,
once successfully used to prevent transmission of disease-causing micro-organisms
among patients, particularly in hospitals ... are now being added to products
used in healthy households ... even though an added health benefit has
not been demonstrated."
That's happening, Levy says,
despite several "potential negative consequences" of these products,
including weakening the immune system, which could lead to a greater chance
of allergies in children, and their possible link to the emergence of
antibiotic resistance ? the very problem that is making some diseases,
such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, so difficult
Members of the manufacturing
industry, meanwhile, including Brian Sansoni, vice president of communications
at the Soap and Detergent Association, contend that consumers can use
these products "with confidence" because "they reduce or
kill germs on the skin that can make us sick."
And that message has found
a following. According to Mintel GNPD, a market research firm based in
Chicago, 71 percent of adults who do some or all of the household cleaning
"prefer (to use) antibacterial and germ-killing cleaning products."
Eek! It's spreading!
The first mass-marketed antimicrobial
product was put out in 1948 by the Dial Corp. "Aren't you glad you
use Dial?" the marketing campaign asked: "Don't you wish everybody
did?" The implied biology lesson ? a correct one, as it happens ?
was that bacteria are partly responsible for body odor. The new deodorant
was a hit; Liquid Dial followed in 1987, and a waterless hand-sanitizing
gel in 1998.
Major marketing breakthroughs
came when companies figured out how to put the antimicrobial compounds
into more than just soap.
Hand sanitizers were swiftly
followed by germ-killing plastics and synthetic fibers, and suddenly nearly
every product in your house ? from air filters to wallpaper, bathroom
appliances, door frames, food-storage containers and the kitchen sink
? could be part of the fight against bugs. Check your computer keyboard;
chances are it was treated with a film of Microban, one of the leading
trade names for triclosan.
In the wake of such scares
as the bird flu, E. coli in food and MRSA, Mintel says the germ-killing
marketplace has become even more fertile. In one recent three-year period,
new product launches increased by more than 700 percent, from 200 products
introduced in 2003 to more than 1,600 in 2006.
For many Americans, soap ?
the plain old soap your grandmother used ? is simply not enough.
Go, good old soap!
Plain old soap relied primarily on animal and vegetable fat for its chemistry,
and its cleaning power came essentially from its ability to create suds
and lather, as the soap molecules formed a thin film around dirt, allowing
it to be washed away under running water.
Down the drain go not only bacteria but also viruses, such as those that
cause the common cold. Compounds like chlorine, alcohol and peroxide (which
kill immediately and at random rather than inhibiting the growth of bacteria)
were often added to give soap extra cleansing kick. Those products are
also commonly found in travel wipes and towelettes.
Adding specifically antibacterial agents seemed a natural next step. And
although Levy and other scientists don't dispute that these chemicals
can kill bacteria, they argue there's no evidence they do any good. "No
study has shown that," Levy says. What's more, many illnesses such
as flu and the common cold, which prompt people to wipe down telephone
handsets and doorknobs, are caused not by bacteria but by viruses ? and
antibacterials can't slow a virus at all.
Levy cites several studies,
among them a 2004 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, in which 228
New York households were divided randomly into two groups: One used regular
soap and water; the other antimicrobial soap. There were just as many
instances of vomiting, diarrhea, fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose
and pinkeye among the antimicrobial users.
"For general use, antibacterial
soaps are not superior to cleansing with regular soap and water,"
says Shmuel Shoham, an infectious-disease specialist at Washington Hospital
Center. His view is backed by the conclusions of an advisory panel to
the Food and Drug Administration, which voted 11 to 1 in 2005 that, when
it comes to keeping us healthy, antibacterial soaps and washes are no
But the New York study's lead
author, Elaine Larson of Columbia University, concedes that antibacterial
soaps may offer benefits when there are medically vulnerable people in
the house: someone who is "ill, immunocompromised, a neonate (newborn)
or elder." A point Sansoni emphasizes: Health care is not just in
the hospital, it is in our homes.
What about resistance?
While the arguments continue
over whether antibacterial soap does any good, there's a second concern
over whether it may actually do harm.
"Evidence is accumulating,"
Shoham says, "that chemicals used in antimicrobial soaps may be causing
bacteria to become more resistant to commonly used antibiotics."
Levy lays out this theory in
his book "The Antibiotic Paradox": Antibacterial products leave
residues where they are used. They linger and continue to kill the bacteria,
but not effectively or randomly. The naturally stronger bacteria that
survived the initial assault develop new defense mechanisms against the
chemicals. This selection process gives rise to a new generation that
is resistant to the offending compounds.
Certain bacteria also develop
"cross-resistance" ? transferring their new and improved defenses
to bacteria fighting other types of antibiotics.
This is essentially the same scenario as the emergence of drug resistance
from the overuse of antibiotic medications.
But Sansoni says that transferring the drug-resistance phenomenon to hand
cleaners is one of the "greatest suburban myths," for which,
he says, there is no scientific evidence. Indeed, scientists looking for
the emerging resistance have found it only in their own labs, in Petri
dishes. Triclosan, for example, has been shown to make bacteria undergo
mutations and create resistance ? but only in the lab. Not on your kitchen
The good go, too
Beyond the drug-resistance
worries, some scientists are concerned that antimicrobial soap is an indiscriminate
Some bacteria are bad for us, but some are good. The antimicrobials kill
both. And when the good bacteria are gone, there's more room for the bad
bacteria to grow, raising our risk of becoming sick.
Besides, a germ-free environment may actually weaken our immune systems,
some critics say. They are referring to the Hygiene Hypothesis ? the theory
that children build immune systems from infancy by putting in their mouths
those dirty objects they find lying around.
A number of studies have linked development of allergies, asthma and skin
problems in children to their having been raised in too-sterile environments.
"You need a little dirt," Levy says, "to train your immune
The takeaway: If you are worried about MRSA, E. coli, SARS, influenza
or simply the common cold, you know you should wash your hands.
Plain soap and water will do.
A in infant formula at 'dangerous' levels, says group
By Ahmed ElAmin
Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/
06/12/2007 - Bisphenol A (BPA), known as the 'gender bender' chemical,
leaches into liquid baby formula from the linings of cans at levels dangerous
to infant health, according to new research published yesterday by a US
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) said the research reveals that Bisphenol-A,
used to line nearly all infant formula cans, was found in at levels "far
higher" in the product than those that leach from plastic bottles
under normal use.
EWG had previously estimated that one out of every 16 infants fed ready-to-eat
liquid formula are exposed to BPA at doses exceeding those that caused
increased aggression and significant changes in testosterone levels in
The new research adds to the mounting consumer fear over products packaged
in containers with the chemical. Meanwhile, processors such as Nestle
continue to resist removing the packaging additive from their products.
The EWG noted that previous studies showing that the packaging chemical
leaches from plastic baby bottles into food had led many parents to switch
to BPA-free bottles.
Now EWG claims the baby formula being put into the bottles also contains
BPA, which has leached from the original cans the product was packaging
"Many parents have switched to BPA-free bottles for their infants,"
said Sonya Lunder, an EWG senior analyst. "US manufacturers of infant
formula and baby bottles can and should do the right thing and remove
this harmful chemical from their products."
Processors and can manufacturers have consistently stated that the chemical
has not been show by scientific studies to pose a health risk. Earlier
this year the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) set a maximum limit
for human daily intakes of BPA, after assessing the evidence.
Setting a Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) on BPA provides guidance on the
use of the chemical to regulators and processors as this can be used as
the basis for scientific risk assessments on whether it can be used, reduced
BPA is an additive widely used in plastic packaging and the resin linings
of food cans, among other applications. Studies have found that the chemical
migrates in small amounts into food and beverages from packaging containing
The EWA said it contacted company officials at Nestle, Ross-Abbot (Similac),
MeadJohnson, (Enfamil), Hain-Celestial (Earth's Best), and PBM, which
sells formula under various names at Walmart, Kroger, Target and other
Each company's policy was documented a minimum of three times, twice through
phone interviews, and once by an e-mail questionnaire, the EWG stated.
The results reveal that all manufacturers use BPA to line the metal portions
of all infant formula containers, including powdered varieties, EWG stated.
"There is mounting scientific evidence that BPA is toxic, especially
to children," said Aaron Freeman, policy director with Environmental
Defence Canada, which participated in the study. "Governments should
be acting quickly, starting with a ban on BPA in food and beverage containers."
Citing previous formula testing by EWG and the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA), the organisation said the evidence shows that BPA leaches from
the plastic lining of metal cans into liquid formula, exposing formula-fed
babies to potentially harmful concentrations that are higher than levels
leaching from the bottles.
BPA levels in powdered formula sold in the US haven't been tested, but
the formula is diluted with water before being fed to babies, and thus
poses less risk to babies, EWG stated.
The EWG is a nonprofit research organisation based in Washington, DC.
Previous scientific research into the chemical has implicated BPA in disease
or infant developmental problems. The chemical has long been known to
act as an artificial estrogen, the primary hormone involved in female
BPA has already been shown to increase breast cancer cell growth. In the
January 2005 edition of the journal Cancer Research, a University of Cincinnati
research team reported that it increased the growth of some prostate cancer
cells as well.
Another study released this year by scientists at the same university
also indicated that low doses of BPA can damage the development of young
Warnings about other possible long-term health risks associated with fetal
exposures to BPA have also been published in recent scientific literature.
BPA was first shown to be oestrogenic in 1938, in a study using rats.
In a 1993 study BPA was found to be oestrogenic in the human breast cancer
cell. Another 1995 study found that the liquid in some cans of tinned
vegetables contained both BPA and and the related chemical dimethyl bisphenol-A.
The highest levels of BPA were found in cans of peas. BPA was also found
in the liquid from cans of artichokes, beans, mixed vegetables, corn and
mushrooms. All liquids which contained BPA were found to be oestrogenic
to a human breast cancer cell, scientists reported.
In 1997 researchers Fred vom Saal and others at the University of Missouri-Columbia
concluded that BPA was harmful to humans and that its use should be banned.
They noted that BPA is also used in the manufacture bottles, from which
it leaches at an increasing rate as the bottle ages.
A study from a group of German researchers released in September provided
the first direct evidence that human exposure to BPA in Europe is very
low and is, at most, in a range similar to the levels reported in other
parts of the world, according to a chemicial industry site.
The research was sponsored by UBA (Umweltbundesamt), the German Federal
BPA is used to manufacture polycarbonate, a rigid plastic used to make
infant feeding bottles, plates, mugs, jugs, beakers, microwave oven ware
and storage containers. It is also used in the production of the epoxy-phenolic
resins that form internal protective linings for cans and metal lids.
The resins are also used as coatings for water storage tanks and wine
When the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) set a maximum limit for
human daily intakes of BPA in January this year, its stated that its scientific
panel on food contact materials concluded that the setting of a full rather
than a temporary TDI was needed, including a review of all available new
data from the last five years.
Having considered both the pre-2002 and new studies available, the EFSA
scientific panel concluded that the no-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL)
of five milligram/kg body weight/day identified in the previous evaluation
in 2002, remains valid.
The panel also concluded that reports of low-dose endocrine effects of
BPA in rodents did not demonstrate such activity in ways that were "robust
"New studies have shown significant differences between humans and
rodents, such as the fact that people metabolise and excrete BPA from
their system far more quickly than rodents, further limiting the relevance
of low-dose effects of BPA reported in some rodent studies for human risk
assessment," EFSA stated.
"Studies have also shown that mice are particularly sensitive to
oestrogens. Given that BPA is a weak oestrogen, the absence of adverse
effects at 5 milligram/kg body weight and below in a new robust study
on mice and two generations of their offspring adds further confidence
to the risk assessment."
The EFSA scientific panel noted that conservative estimates of current
daily exposure to the chemical put it at 30 per cent of the TDI in all
population groups. "These exposure estimates include BPA migration
into canned foods and into food in contact with PC table ware or storage
receptacles," EFSA stated.
The estimates do not include either potential migration of BPA from receptacles
into food during microwave heating or into drinking water due to the use
of resins in water pipes and in water storage tanks.
The Canadian government last month launched a study into the BPA. The
results are expected next year.
A Growing Concern
Genetically modified organisms, such as certain strains of
corn, soybeans, and other farm fare, aren¡¯t as safe as proponents would
have the public believe. Pro or con?
Source of Article: http://www.businessweek.com/
Pro: Suspect Practice
by Gillian Madill and Ian Illuminato, Friends of the Earth
Genetically modified crops
have been hailed as a way to make agricultural products safer and more
affordable, but they have accomplished neither of these goals.
One persistent danger lies
in the prospect of crops unapproved for human consumption becoming mixed
with the food supply. In 2000, Friends of the Earth and other groups discovered
an unapproved strain of genetically modified corn on grocery store shelves.
StarLink corn, which had been deemed safe only for animal consumption
because of human allergen concerns, was showing up in Kraft (KFT) taco
shells. The discovery led to recalls, mill closures, halts in exports,
and buybacks of contaminated corn.
Safety concerns related to
genetically engineered crops can also create larger-scale economic risk.
Just look at what happened to the U.S. rice market in 2006, when illegal
varieties of genetically modified rice were found contaminating the U.S.
rice supply. Some estimates indicate that this incident caused more than
$1.2 billion in damages and additional costs to the U.S. rice industry,
whose export sales dropped dramatically.
Another problem: The modification
of some crops to improve their resistance to herbicides has given rise
to a rapidly growing population of herbicide-resistant weeds, which has
led to more herbicide use. This can cause economic hardship for farmers
who find it harder to grow crops and have to spend more for herbicides.
It also results in more chemical runoff into streams and rivers. Furthermore,
increased herbicide use threatens humans, because it means potentially
higher levels of toxic chemicals in our food.
Americans concerned about food
safety and economic stability would be well advised to take a cue from
their neighbors in Europe, and demand more stringent oversight in regard
to the genetic modification of crops.
Con: Safe and Abundant Sustenance
by Jim Greenwood, the Biotechnology Industry Organization
Today Americans enjoy one of
the safest and most abundant food supplies in the world¡¯s history. But
access to healthful and nutritious food is not enjoyed by everyone. According
to the United Nations, more than 850 million people worldwide suffer from
malnutrition. This situation will likely worsen by 2050, when the world¡¯s
population will increase by 50% and the cultivable land will decrease
by 50%, placing new pressures on global agriculture.
How do we address this international
crisis? While there is no easy and singular solution to starvation, we
know that biotechnology can expand and enhance the global food supply.
Over the past decade agricultural biotechnology has improved plant productivity
and crop quality, increased farmer income, supported stewardship of the
land, and contributed to a safe food supply. Biotech crops constitute
part of the diet of billions of people around the world without one single
documented health problem.
In the U.S., biotech crops
receive scrutiny from three separate federal agencies?the Agriculture
Dept., the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration.
There they undergo intensive safety review, from the research lab to field
trials and ultimately to commercial plantings by farmers. No conventional
or organic crops undergo this level of premarket testing, review, and
This safety record is backed
by a broad range of international scientific organizations?the American
Medical Assn., the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Dietetic
Assn., the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization, and the
World Health Organization?who all endorse biotech crops as safe.
Sometimes, biotech crops are
actually safer than conventional or organic crops. An Iowa State University
study found that biotech corn contains substantially lower levels of cancer-causing
compounds and mycotoxins linked to cases of spina bifida.
In the future, consumers will
likely have access to nutrient-enhanced biotech foods, which could serve
as powerful tools in combating famine and malnutrition in developing countries.
Opinions and conclusions expressed
in the BusinessWeek Debate Room do not necessarily reflect the views of
BusinessWeek, BusinessWeek.com, or The McGraw-Hill Companies.
to Relax U.S. Beef Import Restrictions (Update1)
By Takashi Hirokawa and Sachiko Sakamaki
Source of Article: http://www.bloomberg.com/
Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Japan plans to relax restrictions on U.S. beef,
allowing imports of meat from cows up to 30 months old, said Chief Cabinet
Secretary Nobutaka Machimura today.
The government must obtain an agreement from the U.S. on the plan before
putting it before Japan's food safety commission for approval, Machimura
said at a press conference.
``Our government has been trying to propose raising the 20-month limit
to 30 months,'' he said. ``But we haven't finished coordination with the
Japan was the largest buyer of U.S. beef before the first U.S. case of
mad-cow disease was found in 2003. After a lengthy ban on all U.S. beef,
Japan now imports meat from animals 20 month old or younger, which have
a lower risk of disease, according to scientists.
Earlier in the day, Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture
Mark Keenum said the U.S. won't accept a plan that raises the age of cattle
``Our hope is that we will persuade Japan to adhere to the WTO international
standards for beef,'' Keenum said in an interview in Tokyo.
The World Organization for Animal Health, also known as OIE, voted in
May to give the U.S. its ``controlled-risk'' rating for mad-cow disease.
The designation means controls are effective, and meat from U.S. cattle
of any age can be safely traded. The OIE standards are used to settle
trade disputes at the World Trade Organization.
Consumption of meat from cattle with mad-cow disease, scientifically known
as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is believed to be related to a fatal
disease in humans.
The U.S. is asking all its trading partners to adhere to OIE standards,
Keenum said, adding that the Philippines is the only importer in Asia
to have done so.
Japan imported about 30,000 tons of beef from the U.S. in the first nine
months of this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
To contact the reporters on this story: Takashi Hirokawa in Tokyo at email@example.com
; Sachiko Sakamaki in Tokyo at firstname.lastname@example.org .
children ask for lunch bag checks
Friday, December 07, 2007 - 07:04 AM
Source of Article: http://www.680news.com
Toronto - A group of Woodbridge students want mandatory lunch bag checks
because they have claimed that their allergies are potentially life-threatening.
The National Post reported the 6 children are asking the Human Rights
Commission to force their school to screen out foods to can cause severe
The students, who range in age from 6 to 11, said their allergies are
so bad they qualify as disabilites under human rights law.
If a tribunal rules in favour of the children, all schools in the province
could be forced to follow suit.
Safety and Quality Related Job Openings
NIR/Analytical Services Manager ? Land O¡¯Lakes, Inc. -
Sanitation Manager ? Malt-O-Meal - Northfield,
Food Safety Consultant - Agricultural Consulting Services, Inc. ? Rochester,
Quality Control Supervisor - Channel Fish Co. ? Boston, MA
Food Safety Programs Director ? Food Marketing Institute - Crystal City,
Food Chemist/ Nutritional Chemist ? EMSL Analytical, Inc. - Indianapolis,
QA/QC Manager - Carl Buddig and Company ? South Holland, IL
Safety and Quality Related Job Openings
Pot Pie Patrol
Posted on December 6, 2007 by Salmonella Attorney
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
To date, we have filed six lawsuits against ConAgra stemming from this
Salmonella outbreak. We presently represent nearly two dozen people throughout
the United States. Today we are in the ConAgra Pot Pie Manufacturing Facility
this morning in Marshall, Missouri inspecting the plant. As my readers
might recall, the CDC has published its preliminary findings on the scope
of the outbreak involving ConAgra¡¯s Banquet Pot Pies and other private
label brands such as Wal-Mart¡¯s Great Value. The USDA's Inspection Report
has yet to be released to the public.
Investigation of Outbreak of
Human Infections Caused by Salmonella I 4,,12:i:-
Between January 1, 2007 and
October 29, 2007, at least 272 isolates of Salmonella I 4,,12:i:- with
an indistinguishable genetic fingerprint have been collected from ill
persons in 35 states. Ill persons whose Salmonella strain has this genetic
fingerprint have been reported from Arizona (1 person), Arkansas (4),
California (18), Colorado (9), Connecticut (7), Delaware (5), Florida
(2), Georgia (2), Idaho (11), Illinois (7), Indiana (3), Iowa (1), Kansas
(4), Kentucky (9), Massachusetts (7), Maryland (7), Maine (2), Michigan
(3), Minnesota (7), Missouri (18), Montana (6), Nevada (6), New York (10),
North Carolina (2), Ohio (11), Oklahoma (1), Oregon (4), Pennsylvania
(18), Tennessee (6), Texas (4), Utah (12), Virginia (9), Vermont (2),
Washington (27), Wisconsin (24), Wyoming (3).
Interestingly, I got this email
a few moments ago:
You may already be aware of this but just in case you aren¡¯t I¡¯ll pass
this along. I received information yesterday that there has been another
illness reported that is associated with product from the ConAgra plant
in Marshall, MO. This is a lab-confirmed report of Salmonella is associated
with consumption of a Banquet Turkey Meal. There was a previous similar
complaint reported in October that was not lab-confirmed. Both previous
and present complaints apparently involve the Banquet Turkey Meal with
a sell by/use by date of January 2009. The product is a 9.25 oz ¡°Turkey
Meal¡±. I have not seen a label from this product but I am told it says
turkey meal, mostly white meat with gravy, dressing, mashed potatoes and
peas. The complainant is apparently located in North Carolina and purchased
the product at a local supermarket.
from bakery's chocolate cakes sickens 109 people (Singapore)
Wed, 05 Dec 2007
Source of Article: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/153308.html
Singapore - Food poisoning from a bakery chain's contaminated chocolate
cakes has sickened 109 people including 23 members of one family at a
birthday party, health officials said Wednesday. Authorities in Singapore
have ordered a recall of all Prima Deli products. Its manufacturing facility
has also been temporarily shut down.
The 39 franchises selling Prima Deli's cakes and bread have been told
to close for at least a week.
The toll of food poisoning accompanied by fever, diarrhoea, vomiting and
stomach pains has mounted over two weeks. Eight people have been hospitalized.
No one has died. Those infected usually experience symptoms over four
to seven days.
The cakes appear to have been contaminated through poor hygiene with a
type of bacteria known as salmonella enteritidis, The Straits Times said.
It is usually spread through food made from infected animals or from food
that has been exposed to the stool of infected people.
The latest incident was reported to the National Environment Agency. Of
the 30 family members at the gathering, 23 suffered severe food poisoning
after eating servings from the 1.5-kilogram cake.
Anizah Yusof, who purchased the cake to celebrate the birthdays of her
mother and niece, told the newspaper that her own four-day illness was
the worst episode of diarrhoea she has ever had.
"I was also very giddy and couldn't walk properly, so I just lay
down on the bed," the 19-year-old was quoted as saying. "It
was also very difficult to breathe."
Two of the bakery's workers have tested positive for the salmonella strain.
Consumers have been told to throw away any food from the bakery.
L. monocytogenes on hot dogs by infrared treatment
December 5, 2007
Source of Article: http://members.ift.org/IFT/Pubs/Newsletters/weekly/nl_120507.htm
The aim of this research was to develop an infrared pasteurization process
with automatic temperature control for inactivation of surface-contaminated
Listeria monocytogenes on ready-to-eat meats such as hotdogs.
The pasteurization system consisted of an infrared emitter, a hotdog roller,
an infrared sensor, and a temperature controller. The infrared sensor
was used to monitor the surface temperature of hotdogs while the infrared
emitter, modulated by a power controller, was used as a heating source.
The surface temperature of hotdogs was increased to set points (70, 75,
80, or 85 C), and maintained for bacterial kill.
With a 3 min holding at 80 C or 2 min at 85 C, a total of 6.4 or 6.7 logs
of L. monocytogenes were inactivated. This study demonstrated that the
infrared surface pasteurization was effective in inactivating L. monocytogenes
in RTE meats.
For more, see Journal of Food Science: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1750-3841.2007.00589.x
E. Coli in
Ground Beef Still a Threat, Despite Millions Spent by Meat Processors
Date Published: Thursday, December 6th, 2007
Source of Article: http://www.newsinferno.com/archives/2150
Ground beef recalls due to E. coli contamination have reached near-record
levels this year, and E. coli outbreaks have sickened thousands of people
across the country. The sudden spike in E. coli problems has the meat
industry scrambling to find ways to fight this sometimes deadly bacterium.
But as E. coli meat recalls and outbreaks become more common, it is becoming
plain that this might be easier said than done.
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.
This year, E. coli contamination
has hurt meat processors large and small. The 67-year old Topps Meat Company
filed for bankruptcy after it recalled more than 21 million pounds of
tainted meat that made hundreds of people ill. Even giants like Tyson
Fresh Meats and Cargill Meat Solutions have seen their reputations sullied
by E. coli recalls. The meat industry says it spends $350 million a year
to keep E. coli out of meat, yet the recalls and outbreak keeps coming.
Most of the E. coli meat recalls
have involved ground beef, a product uniquely susceptible to E. coli contamination
because grinding can mix live E. coli bacteria throughout the meat, and
consumers often undercook their hamburgers. Meat processors use a variety
of methods to keep this from happening, including hosing down cattle carcasses
with chemicals before processing them, exposing the carcasses to extremely
hot steam to kill bacteria, employing steam vacuums to suck away microbes
and using elaborate gear to test hundreds of meat samples a day. But as
one disease expert told the New York Times, ¡°If you gave me a million,
zillion dollars and said give me a plant that doesn¡¯t have E. coli, I
couldn¡¯t do it.¡±
Because it appears impossible
to prevent E. coli from contaminating meat at processing plants, the common
sense thing to do would be to keep tainted meat off of store shelves.
But although the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that processors
hold meat shipments until tests confirm it to be pathogen free, not all
processors do this. Rather, they put ground beef on the market and recall
it later if tests find E. coli contamination. The meat industry rationalizes
this approach by saying that E. coli contamination can be eliminated by
cooking ground beef thoroughly. But clearly, as the number of E. coli
poisoning cases illustrates, this is not an adequate response. Many consumer
advocates are now pushing for the USDA to adopt a mandatory ¡°test and
hold¡± policy. They argue that if E. coli contamination can¡¯t be eliminated
at the processing facility, then meat should be kept off of store shelves
until it has been tested disease free.
produce washing practices can minimize food-borne illness risks - New
information will benefit produce industry and consumers
Source of Article: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-12/asfh-fpw120607.php
WASHINGTON, DC -- Researchers
at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently examined
the safety and quality of "wash techniques" used in the production
of packaged produce. The study, published in the October 2007 issue of
HortScience, simulated washing techniques to learn more about how industry
practices affect quality and safety of pre-cut lettuce.
Yaguang Luo, PhD, Research Food Technologist at the United States Department
of Agriculture's (USDA) Produce Quality and Safety Laboratory, headed
the study of produce wash techniques used in the commercial preparation
of pre-cut fruits and vegetables. Luo explained that recent outbreaks
of food-borne illnesses associated with the consumption of fresh-cut produce
underscored the importance of ensuring food safety of these packaged convenience
He noted that washing the produce is an important step commonly employed
by the industry to maintain the quality and safety of fresh and fresh-cut
produce. Prior to the study, however, little information existed about
how wash operation and water re-use techniques affected the water quality,
the efficacy of sanitizers on the reduction of microorganisms, or the
quality and shelf life of packaged products. Luo explained: "The
main objective of the research was to examine the dynamic interactions
among wash operation, water quality, and sanitizer efficacy and product
quality. We investigated the effect of produce washing techniques, including
simulated water re-use, and the ratio between product weight and wash
water volume on the water quality and effectiveness of sanitizers used
to reduce microorganisms."
The researchers found that procedures in which water was re-used during
the washing process led to rapid accumulation of organic matter in wash
water and compromised the efficacy of sanitizers. According to Luo, "It
is generally known that water re-use can cause water quality loss. The
value of this research is that it reveals the complex effects of the foreign
matter that is washed from produce on water quality and product quality,
and it provides specific information on how wash operation variables (such
as re-use of the same tank of water with increasing amount of cut product
being washed) affect the water quality." The study also demonstrated
the direct effect of wash water quality on product quality.
Luo concluded that results of the USDA study should define relationships
among produce wash operations, water quality and product quality, giving
produce packers new tools for enhancing food safety and quality.
The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortScience
electronic journal web site: http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/42/6/1413/
Founded in 1903, the American
Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated
to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education and application.
More information at ashs.org
cancer link confirmed
05 December 2007 Source of Article: http://www.rsc.org/
A study has for the first time confirmed the proposed link between dietery
intake of acrylamide and cancer - five years after the suspected carcinogen
was detected in cooked food.
Those who ingest more acrylamide via their diet are twice as likely to
develop womb or ovarian cancer, a Dutch study involving 62,000 women over
11 years has concluded.
In 2002, Swedish researchers provoked worldwide concern when they discovered
people were taking in acrylamide through their diet - including such common
foods as crisps, potato chips, coffee, biscuits, and bread. The chemical
was known to cause tumours in rats, is a neurotoxin, and seemed likely
to be a human carcinogen too. Later research showed that whenever food
is fried, roasted or grilled to turn a tasty golden brown, acrylamide
is also formed, via the Maillard reaction of amino acids such as asparagine
with reducing sugars above 120¡ÆC.
These were worrying discoveries, but large-scale epidemiological studies
on men and women in Sweden and the US had found no link between increasing
dietary acrylamide intake and the risk of various cancers including breast,
colorectal, bladder and renal cancer.
Now researchers led by Janneke Hogervorst, at Maastricht University, have
investigated links with rarer cancers of the womb and ovaries. Each disease
affects around 60 per 100,000 post-menopausal women in the UK every year.
The team used a Netherlands study on diet and cancer, in which 120,000
people, and more than 62,000 women, aged 55-70 years, were asked details
about their diet. The Dutch researchers used this data to estimate acrylamide
intake from foods, and followed up the participants through cancer registries.
After 11 years, women who had eaten around 40?g of acrylamide a day were
twice as likely to develop womb and ovarian cancer as those who'd eaten
around 9g a day. There was no increased risk of breast cancer. The team
did not look at the effects of acrylamide on men.
A previous Italian study had found no link between acrylamide and ovarian
cancer. But it had asked people with the disease to recall their earlier
diet - a method which has greater potential for bias.
Lorelei Mucci, who has conducted many epidemiological acrylamide studies
at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, US, told Chemistry World
that the Dutch study was well designed. The researchers had done their
best to control for the effects of other risk factors for cancer such
as smoking or a high intake of fatty foods, she noted. Particularly interesting
in this study was that Dutch spiced cake - a kind of non-crusty gingerbread
- accounted for most of the variation in acrylamide intake. In Swedish
and US populations, noted Mucci, coffee and fried potato chips are the
main sources of acrylamide. Both Hogervorst and Mucci emphasised that
further corroboration of the results are needed from other studies on
Inside the body, acrylamide
metabolises to glycidamide, which forms adducts with haemoglobin and DNA.
But the associations with ovarian and womb cancers have led to speculation
that acrylamide may also disrupt proteins which maintain hormone balance
in the body, said Hogervorst.
European scientists and food
manufacturers have already made many efforts to reduce acrylamide production
in foods - mainly funded by the European Commission's 4-year strategic
acrylamide project, HEATOX, which was completed on 26 November. However,
removing it from the diet completely would be nigh on impossible. Other
genotoxic compounds, such as furans, are formed when food is cooked. And
fatty foods and smoking are far more strongly associated with the risk
of common cancers.
Richard Van Noorden
Can Cause Serious Intestinal Problems
(WIBW Channel 13, KS)
Following two outbreaks of campylobacteriosis that made at least 87 people
ill, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department
of Agriculture are advising the public to avoid consuming raw milk or
products made from raw milk.
Campylobacteriosis is an intestinal infection caused by the bacteria Campylobacter.
Infection often causes diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, nausea, headache
and muscle pain.
In the first outbreak in southwest Kansas, 68 people became ill after
eating cheese made from raw (unpasteurized) milk donated by a local dairy
for a community celebration.
Nineteen people were ill enough to seek medical attention, and two people
were hospitalized. Four of these persons tested positive for Campylobacter
jejuni; no other food items served at the event were associated with illness.
The second outbreak is linked to a dairy in south central Kansas that
sells raw milk directly to consumers.
As of November 30, 2007, 19 cases of campylobacteriosis had been reported.
Each person reported drinking raw milk purchased from the dairy.
Although most people with campylobacteriosis recover within seven to 10
days, rare complications such as reactive arthritis, hemolytic uremic
syndrome and Guillian-Barre syndrome can develop.
Pasteurization is the only effective method for eliminating disease-causing
bacteria in raw milk and milk products. It is a simple process that involves
heating the milk to a high temperature
Top Of Document?
for a short period of time.
This heat treatment destroys harmful germs but it does not harm the nutritional
value of milk and cheese.
Pasteurization also can prevent diseases like tuberculosis, diphtheria,
polio, Q fever, salmonellosis, strep throat, scarlet fever and typhoid
fever from being transmitted through milk.
Although it is against federal law to sell raw milk across state lines,
Kansas law allows raw milk and raw milk products to be sold or donated
directly to the final consumer if the transaction takes place on the dairy
farm where the raw milk was produced.
All containers and signs on the farm must indicate the milk is ¡°raw, unpasteurized.¡±
There can be no advertising other than the sign erected on the farm, and
door-to-door sales and/or delivery of raw milk are prohibited.
All milk sold in retail stores must be pasteurized.
Raw milk, whether it¡¯s from cows, sheep or goats, can carry dangerous
microorganisms like Campylobacter, Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria,
which are responsible for causing many food borne illnesses. Getting sick
from one of these can lead to diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, headache,
vomiting, or exhaustion.
The illnesses can be dangerous for people with weakened immune systems,
such as the elderly, children and people with cancer, an organ transplant
Bacteria found in raw milk and raw dairy products can be especially dangerous
to pregnant women and their unborn babies.
Many persons continue to drink raw milk but consumers need to be aware
of the health risks associated with consuming raw milk and products made
with raw milk.
Raw milk produced on even the most sanitary dairy farms can contain harmful
bacteria. Pasteurization is the only way to be sure the milk is safe.
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