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E. coli "Uptick" to Continue in 2008
Posted on December 19, 2007 by E. coli Attorney

Source of Article:
Bill Tomson writer for the Wall Street Journal wrote in yesterday¡¯s WSJ ? ¡°U.S. Agency to Focus Efforts On Reducing E. coli Threat.¡± According to Mr. Tomson, we can all expect ¡°just as many beef recalls, if not more, in 2008 as they did this year¡¦.¡± According to USDA officials:
It took one of the largest-ever beef recalls -- 21.7 million pounds of frozen hamburger patties linked to severe illnesses -- in 2007 to make USDA officials question whether beef processors around the country were following safety guidelines when it came to E. coli contamination. The New Jersey-based Topps Meat Co., the producer behind the massive recall, certainly wasn't, USDA officials said.
"When we sent food-safety assessors into the Topps plant, we found that their policies they had in place were not being followed nearly as vigorously as they had been just two years ago when we did a food-safety assessment in the same plant," USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Richard Raymond said in an interview¡¦. "We don't know if Topps was the tip of the iceberg and other plants have gotten sloppy, or Topps was kind of an isolated incident," Mr. Raymond said.

I have been "flawging" about this "uptick" in recalls and ill people. I only hope the USDA figures out what is going on before more people get sick or die. Some of my earlier posts:

E. coli's Comeback: What's up with that?

E. coli O157:H7 -- It's back, with a vengeance

Months ago in a post: "Put me out of business - Please - 2007," I said, I am not sure I know the reason for the new and ominous trend (these are the largest meat recalls in five years), but by anyone¡¯s count these numbers are concerning. What I do know is that these recent outbreaks have all the ugly signs of another national emergency. As a nation - and that includes all federal and local government agencies as well as the private sector ? we cannot let the positive tend of the past become another acceptable body count. We need to figure out why this has happened. My suggestion ? if Congress was willing to drop everything in order to investigate the deaths of a dozen cats due to contaminated pet food from China ? perhaps bringing all the executives of the companies responsible for this recent rash of outbreaks, recalls and illnesses to Washington for a few days of questioning (under oath) might help us get to the bottom of this.

Case Western Reserve gets $27.5 million to keep studying mad cow disease

Thursday, December 20, 2007
Sarah Jane Tribble
Plain Dealer Reporter
A special center at Case
Source of Article:
Western Reserve University that tracks any suspected cases of prion-related disease - such as the popularly known mad cow disease - has received $27.5 million needed to keep it operating.
The National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center now has enough money to continue examining cases of the disease for another five years. The center, which began in 1997, is the only one of its kind in the United States where suspected cases of prion diseases are reported, characterized and tested.
"It's very, very important that surveillance really be maintained in the United States to protect the population," said Pierluigi Gambetti, center director at Case. "It is critical."
The center became a national hot spot when mad cow disease, which is the newest strain of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, hit global headlines several years ago. Hospitals nationwide send suspected cases to Cleveland to be tested. And earlier this year the center was part of an international study that announced a new prion protein that may provide insight into how the brain functions with the disease.
Mad cow disease is the best known of several brain-wasting diseases for humans and animals thought to be associated with malformed proteins called prions. Another disorder in this family includes chronic wasting disease, which has infected Wisconsin deer.

Since 1997, neurologists and pathologists have sent brain tissue and spinal specimens from nearly 3,000 individuals to Case, which confirmed about 1,500 cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Gambetti said. To date, Gambetti said the center has not found any cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from eating contaminated beef, elk or deer meat in the United States. "But we have to keep looking because otherwise we may indeed miss it," he said.
When the center began it had a $60,000 federal grant, but since then it has received appropriations from Congress and grant funding. The most recent $27.5 million in funding was awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute on Aging, which is an arm of the National Institutes of Health. About 40 percent of the money will be used for research over the next five years.
The remainder will be for surveillance, Gambetti said.

Discounted Hotel Reservation Deadline Is Jan.7 for E. coli O157:H7 Surveillance and Prevention Briefing December 21, 2007
Source of Article:
Guaranteed discount room rates for the 2008 E. coli O157:H7 Surveillance and Prevention Briefing to be held Jan. 23 at the Doubletree Crystal City Hotel in Arlington Virginia, will end Jan.7. Attendees are urged to reserve space now for a discounted rate of $179 single or double occupancy.
To make hotel reservations, call the Doubletree Crystal City directly at 703-416-4100 and mention the American Meat Institute to receive your special discounted room rate. Registration for the briefing is also still available, at a rate of $250 for members, academics and government officials. The non-member rate is $325.
The briefing is conveniently planned just one day prior to the International Association for Food Protection¡¯s (IAFP) Timely Topics Symposium "Prepared, But Not Ready-to-Eat Foods-What You Need to Know,¡± which will be held in the same hotel January 24.
Since 2000, the incidence of E. coli O157:H7 in ground beef has been cut in half. However, a slight increase in the incidence of the pathogen in ground beef in late 2007 has prompted the industry, scientists and regulators to reassess strategies in the fight against the pathogen. The one-day briefing will bring together leading experts to discuss the state of the science in pathogen prevention and to identify new strategies for ensuring product safety and optimal public health.
The briefing will feature talks on public health surveillance; import and export issues; industry best practices for controlling the pathogen throughout the supply chain; research into interventions to reduce and eliminate the pathogen; regulatory initiatives and consumer knowledge and perceptions about E. coli O157:H7, beef handling and beef safety.
To see a detailed agenda or to register for the conference, go to or call Heather Schoch, manager of meetings, 202/587-4241,

Short- and Long-term Effects of Bacterial Gastrointestinal Infections
Anders Ternhag,* Anna Torner,¢Ó Ake Svensson,¢Ó¢Ô Karl Ekdahl,*¡× and Johan Giesecke*¡×
*Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; ¢ÓSwedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, Solna, Sweden; ¢ÔStockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; and ¡×European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Stockholm, Sweden

Source of Article:

Suggested citation for this article: Ternhag A, Torner A, Svensson A, Ekdahl K, Giesecke J. Short- and long-term effects of bacterial gastrointestinal infections. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2008 Jan [date cited]. Available from

During 1997?2004, microbiologically confirmed gastrointestinal infections were reported for 101,855 patients in Sweden. Among patients who had Salmonella infection (n = 34,664), we found an increased risk for aortic aneurysm (standardized incidence ratio [SIR] 6.4, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.1?11. within 3 months after infection and an elevated risk for ulcerative colitis (SIR 3.2, 95% CI 2.2?4.6) within 1 year after infection. We also found this elevated risk for ulcerative colitis among Campylobacter infections (n = 57,425; SIR 2.8, 95% CI 2.0?3.. Within 1 year, we found an increased risk for reactive arthritis among patients with Yersinia enteritis (n = 5,133; SIR 47.0, 95% CI 21.5?89.2), Salmonella infection (SIR 18.2, 95% CI 12.0?26.5), and Campylobacter infection (SIR 6.3, 95% CI 3.5?10.4). Acute gastroenteritis is sometimes associated with disease manifestations from several organ systems that may require hospitalization of patients.

Bacterial gastrointestinal infections continue to cause illness and death and contribute to economic loss in most parts of the world, including high-income countries that have developed surveillance and control programs. The symptoms of acute bacterial intestinal infection are usually mild to moderate, and spontaneous remission occurs (1), but in some cases, the disease can cause rapid deterioration of a patient's condition.

An episode of acute enteric infection involving extraintestinal organs can also lead to complications and trigger chronic disease. Complications include irritable bowel syndrome (2), reactive arthritis (3), hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) (4), and Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) (5). There may be other, perhaps unusual and less documented, late effects of acute enteric infections, such as inflammatory bowel disease (6).

In Sweden, there is no active follow-up on reported cases of bacterial enteric infection in terms of disease outcome or long-term complications. During the 8-year period 1997?2004, >100,000 persons with acute gastrointestinal infection were reported within the national surveillance program for communicable diseases. We present a retrospective cohort study of these patients to investigate the association between exposure to a bacterial pathogen and the risk for autoimmune illness, gastrointestinal complications, and extraintestinal infectious disease.

Materials and Methods
Participants comprised persons with intestinal infection (nontyphoidal Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., Yersinia enterocolitica, Shigella spp., or enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli [EHEC]) reported to the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control during 1997?2004. We collected data on age, sex, date reported, and country of infection and used social security numbers for identification. This identification number was used to link our cohort of cases (those with short-term complications occurring within 3 months or long-term effects within 1 year after infection) to the Swedish Hospital Discharge (covers all hospital in Sweden) and Causes of Death registers. Ethics permission was obtained from the Ethical Committee, Karolinska Institute. Discharge diagnoses must be reported to the register; therefore, any study using this register is, in practice, population based. The Hospital Discharge Register was validated by using a diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction; underreporting was <1%, main diagnosis was missing for <1% of cases, and correct diagnosis was made for 86% (7).

We calculated the follow-up time for each case as person-time from reported date of infection to an event, death, or study termination. Person-years were then compared with a Swedish standard population of 5-year age groups to calculate the expected number of cases for each disease. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were constructed by dividing the observed number of cases with the expected number of cases. Ninety-five percent exact confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated under the assumption that the number of observed cases were Poisson distributed. CIs that do not overlap 1 indicate that the number of observed cases is significantly different from the number of cases expected in a population cohort of similar age and sex distribution. The described method is called indirect standardization, and interpretation of results is similar to relative risk interpretation, i.e., comparing the risk for disease in an exposed cohort to the risk for disease in an unexposed cohort.

We previously estimated standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) for Salmonella ( and Campylobacter infections (9) and showed that country of infection (domestic or abroad) was an effect modifier; i.e., the SMR differed substantially between these 2 strata and no pooled SMR could be calculated. The underlying factor for this interaction was probably that the term abroad served as a proxy for healthiness or a healthy traveler effect. For our present analysis, we divided the cohort into 2 strata on the basis of country of infection (Sweden or abroad), but no statistical significant interaction was evident. We concluded that crude SIRs irrespective of country of infection could be estimated. All analyses were conducted by using SAS statistical software, version 8.2 (SAS Institute, Inc., Cary, NC, USA).

Demographic data on the 101,855 study participants and frequency counts for infectious agents are summarized in Table 1. Campylobacter spp. caused the most cases, 57,425 (56%). The second most frequent pathogen was Salmonella spp., the causative agent in 34,664 cases (34%); distribution of serovars is shown in Table 2. Of all cases of gastroenteritis, Yersinia spp. accounted for 5,133 (5%) cases; Shigella spp. 3,813 (4%); and EHEC 820 (<1%).

Table 3 shows the number of reported case-patients with specific diseases within 3 months of an episode of bacterial gastrointestinal infection, along with expected number of cases and SIRs. Not surprisingly, the highest risks were found for HUS after EHEC infection and GBS following campylobacter infection. Although SIRs were quite elevated, absolute risks were more moderate; among 820 cases of EHEC infection, we found 13 episodes of HUS (1.6%), 57,425 cases of campylobacteriosis, 13 cases of GBS (0.02%), 5,133 cases of Yersinia infection, and 9 cases of reactive arthritis (0.2%). The risk for aortic aneurysm among patients with salmonellosis was significantly higher than expected (SIR 6.4, 95% CI 3.1?11.. The absolute risk for bacteremia/sepsis was 0.02% for case-patients with Campylobacter infection and 0.03% for those with salmonellosis. For many complications, we did not find any statistically significant elevated risks. Other complications that we had hypothesized to be associated with gastrointestinal infections could not be shown. Only a few cases were found within 3 months, contributing to imprecise estimates of SIRs.

Within 1 year of acute bacterial gastrointestinal infection, case-patients with Yersinia enteritis were at increased risk for reactive arthritis (SIR 47.0, 95% CI 21.5?89.2), Salmonella infection (SIR 18.2, 95% CI 12.0?26.5), and Campylobacter infection (SIR 6.3, 95% CI 3.5?10.4) (Table 4). The risk for ulcerative colitis was elevated among patients with salmonellosis (SIR 3.2, 95% CI 2.2?4.6) and, to a lesser extent, among patients with campylobacteriosis (SIR 2.8, 95% CI 2.0?3.. Of the 29 patients in our salmonellosis cohort who had ulcerative colitis, 13 (44%) had first experienced ulcerative colitis during the 10-year period before the acute infection. Among patients with campylobacteriosis, we found 42 with ulcerative colitis, of whom 18 (43%) had received a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis in the 10-year period before the infection. We did not find any increased risk for Crohn's disease in the same group of patients. We did not find any elevated risk for many of the rheumatologic diseases included in the present study in any of the participants. The distribution of Salmonella serotypes among patients with aortic aneurysm, reactive arthritis, and ulcerative colitis in our cohort did not differ in any substantial way from the whole salmonellosis cohort (Table 5), although the number of patients was rather small.

Our data confirm the elevated risk for complications and long-term sequelae after an episode of acute bacterial gastroenteritis. We have presented new estimates of the absolute and relative risk for well-described complications such as HUS after EHEC infection, GBS after an episode of Campylobacter enteritis, and reactive arthritis after Yersinia enteritis. Another complication that we have been able to verify is aortic aneurysm after an episode of salmonellosis. Perhaps more unexpected, the risk for ulcerative colitis was elevated in the cohort of patients with salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis. The distribution of Salmonella serovars was the same among patients with and without complications. The finding of no major difference in the distribution of Salmonella serovars between the group of patients with and without complications indicates that factors other than Salmonella serovar alone determine the risk for complications.

Compared with other studies, our new estimate of the risk for HUS after EHEC infection is lower than previously reported (10,11). An explanation of our lower estimates could be that we used only International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes specific for HUS. Several of these cases may in fact be classified under nonspecific ICD codes that also include a large proportion of cases unrelated to HUS. However, had we included them in the analysis, any association with the infections would have been diluted. Our estimate of risk for GBS and campylobacter are in line with a study in England that showed a risk of <2/10,000 that GBS will develop in a patient with campylobacteriosis (12). These results are also in line with a previous study in Sweden (13). All estimates of complications in this study are based on discharge data from the Hospital Discharge Register; this means that minor complications that either were not presented to any doctor or were handled only by general practitioners were not available for this analysis. At the population level, reactive rheumatologic symptoms associated with infection are typically mild and transient (14). This is probably the reason why our estimate of reactive arthritis after Yersinia infection is quite low, although similar low risks have been reported elsewhere (15).

In patients with atherosclerotic disease, or in those with preexisting aneurysms, transient bacteremia with nontyphoidal Salmonella infection can result in vascular infections (16?1. Most of these aneurysms described previously have been localized in the subrenal segment of the abdominal aorta (17). Salmonella spp. in these patients can invade the arterial intima and cause a localized endothelial infection that results in an aneurysm or the enlargement of a previously existing aneurysm. This may explain the association between Salmonella infection and aortic aneurysm in this study.

Our findings of an elevated risk for ulcerative colitis in the cohort of patients with salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis need further study. In another large cohort study, an association between acute gastroenteritis and inflammatory bowel disease was identified (n = 43,013), where the incidence rate for ulcerative colitis was 40 per 100,000 person-years, a doubling of the risk for those unexposed to infection (19). We do not know why an episode of infectious gastroenteritis could contribute to the initiation or exacerbation of ulcerative colitis. Seasonal variation in the onset of ulcerative colitis, and reports that excessive childhood infections are associated with higher risk for ulcerative colitis, may support the hypothesis that infections could be triggers of disease (20). From this study, we cannot say whether there is a causal relationship between Salmonella and Campylobacter infections and relapse of disease in patients with known ulcerative colitis, or whether the infection could trigger ulcerative colitis in susceptible persons. We cannot entirely rule out that the findings are an artifact, resulting from an increased number of medical examinations and stool cultures in a group of patients with diarrhea because of a known or unknown inflammatory bowel disease. More study is needed to confirm or refute our findings.

Because irritable bowel syndrome is diagnosed and treated at hospital in only a minority of patients, our estimates are probably too low. Many studies have not used a control group but reported only the numbers and percentages of patients who had irritable bowel syndrome after gastroenteritis (21); 1 study with controls estimated a relative risk of 11.9 (CI 6.7?21) after 1 year of follow-up (22).

Our study has some limitations. Perhaps the most serious one is the selection bias of patients entering the gastroenteritis cohort. Only a small fraction of all patients with Salmonella infection, for example, seek medical care, have a stool sample taken, and are eventually reported to national surveillance (23). This could have an effect on the results, especially if we are collecting data on those with the most severe disease; disease severity itself affects complications and sequelae. Another limitation is the lack of information on confounding factors among study participants, especially coexisting illnesses such as malignant disease or immunodeficiencies of any cause. Such coexisting illnesses could perhaps increase to some extent the risk for complications (6), but our results on the effect of disease from gastrointestinal infections would not have changed. Although the quality of the Swedish Hospital Discharge Register is quite good, there is always a general problem of reliability in registry-based epidemiologic research.

In conclusion, we studied the risk for complications 3 months and 1 year after acute bacterial gastroenteritis and found disease manifestations from several organ systems that required hospitalization of patients. These findings are a reminder of, and could be an argument for, the usefulness of existing control programs targeted to control bacterial enteric disease.

This study was approved by the Regional Ethical Committee, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

Dr Ternhag is a resident physician at Karolinska University Hospital and a PhD student at Karolinska Institute, Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Sweden. His research interests are in infectious disease epidemiology, registry-based research, and long-term prognosis of infectious diseases.

Thielman NM, Guerrant RL. Clinical practice. Acute infectious diarrhea. N Engl J Med. 2004;350:38?47.
Neal KR, Barker L, Spiller RC. Prognosis in post-infective irritable bowel syndrome: a six year follow up study. Gut. 2002;51:410?3.
Dworkin MS, Shoemaker PC, Goldoft MJ, Kobayashi JM. Reactive arthritis and Reiter's syndrome following an outbreak of gastroenteritis caused by Salmonella enteritidis. Clin Infect Dis. 2001;33:1010?4.
Havelaar AH, Van Duynhoven YT, Nauta MJ, Bouwknegt M, Heuvelink AE, De Wit GA, et al. Disease burden in The Netherlands due to infections with Shiga toxin?producing Escherichia coli O157. Epidemiol Infect. 2004;132:467?84.
Nachamkin I. Campylobacter enteritis and the Guillain-Barre syndrome. Curr Infect Dis Rep. 2001;3:116?22.
Helms M, Simonsen J, Molbak K. Foodborne bacterial infection and hospitalization: a registry-based study. Clin Infect Dis. 2006;42:498?506.
Assessment of diagnostic quality of acute myocardial infarction in the Hospital Discharge Register 1987 and 1995 [in Swedish]. Centre for Epidemiology, The National Board of Health and Welfare; 2006 Apr.
Ternhag A, Torner A, Ekdahl K, Giesecke J. Salmonella-associated deaths, Sweden, 1997?2003. Emerg Infect Dis. 2006;12:337?9.
Ternhag A, Torner A, Svensson A, Giesecke J, Ekdahl K. Mortality following Campylobacter infection: a registry-based linkage study. BMC Infect Dis. 2005;5:70.
Welinder-Olsson C, Kaijser B. Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC). Scand J Infect Dis. 2005;37:405?16.
Karch H, Tarr PI, Bielaszewska M. Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli in human medicine. Int J Med Microbiol. 2005;295:405?18.
Tam CC, Rodrigues LC, Petersen I, Islam A, Hayward A, O'Brien SJ. Incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome among patients with Campylobacter infection: a general practice research database study. J Infect Dis. 2006;194:95?7.
McCarthy N, Giesecke J. Incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome following infection with Campylobacter jejuni. Am J Epidemiol. 2001;153:610?4.
Leirisalo-Repo M, Hannu T, Mattila L. Microbial factors in spondyloarthropathies: insights from population studies. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2003;15:408?12.
Rees JR, Pannier MA, McNees A, Shallow S, Angulo FJ, Vugia DJ. Persistent diarrhea, arthritis, and other complications of enteric infections: a pilot survey based on California FoodNet surveillance, 1998?1999. Clin Infect Dis. 2004;38(Suppl 3):S311?7.
Chen PL, Chang CM, Wu CJ, Ko NY, Lee NY, Lee HC, et al. Extraintestinal focal infections in adults with nontyphoid Salmonella bacteraemia: predisposing factors and clinical outcome. J Intern Med. 2007;261:91?100.
Fernandez Guerrero ML, Aguado JM, Arribas A, Lumbreras C, de Gorgolas M. The spectrum of cardiovascular infections due to Salmonella enterica: a review of clinical features and factors determining outcome. Medicine (Baltimore). 2004;83:123?38.
Nielsen H, Gradel KO, Schonheyder HC. High incidence of intravascular focus in nontyphoid Salmonella bacteremia in the age group above 50 years: a population-based study. APMIS. 2006;114:641?5.
Garcia Rodriguez LA, Ruigomez A, Panes J. Acute gastroenteritis is followed by an increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease. Gastroenterology. 2006;130:1588?94.
Farrell RJ, Peppercorn MA. Ulcerative colitis. Lancet. 2002;359:331?40.
Connor BA. Sequelae of traveler's diarrhea: focus on postinfectious irritable bowel syndrome. Clin Infect Dis. 2005;41(Suppl :S577?86.
Rodriguez LA, Ruigomez A. Increased risk of irritable bowel syndrome after bacterial gastroenteritis: cohort study. BMJ. 1999;318:565?6.
Scallan E. Activities, achievements, and lessons learned during the first 10 years of the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network: 1996?2005. Clin Infect Dis. 2007;44:718?25.
Table 1. Distribution of infectious agents, age and sex for 101,855 study participants, Sweden, 1997?2004
Table 2. Most frequent serotypes isolated among study participants with nontyphoid Salmonella infection, Sweden, 1997?2004
Table 3. Complications associated with gastroenteritis, 3 months postinfection, among 101,855 patients with bacterial gastrointestinal infection, Sweden, 1997?2004
Table 4. Complications associated with gastroenteritis, 1 year postinfection, among 101,855 patients with bacterial gastrointestinal infection, Sweden, 1997?2004
Table 5. Salmonella serotypes among patients with aortic aneurysm, reactive arthropathies, and ulcerative colitis, Sweden, 1997?2004

Suggested Citation for this Article
Ternhag A, Torner A, Svensson A, Ekdahl K, Giesecke J. Short- and long-term effects of bacterial gastrointestinal infections. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2008 Jan [date cited]. Available from

Food Safety and Quality Related Job Openings
NIR/Analytical Services Manager ? Land O¡¯Lakes, Inc. - Shoreview, MN
Sanitation Manager ? Malt-O-Meal - Northfield, MN
Food Safety Consultant - Agricultural Consulting Services, Inc. ? Rochester, NY
Quality Control Supervisor - Channel Fish Co. ? Boston, MA
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

Food Safety and Quality Related Job Openings

Clone companies pitch tracking system
By Tom Johnston on 12/21/2007 for
Ahead of the Food and Drug Administration's apparently imminent approval of food from cloned animals, and in recognition of the public's queasiness over the prospect of such, meat and dairy producers are trying to quell concerns by endorsing a system for tracking cloned livestock. FDA is expected to make an official decision by the end of this year. In December 2006, the agency issued a report declaring that food from cloned animals is safe and doesn't require special labeling. A moratorium on meat and milk from cloned animals has been in place during a public comment period.
Meat industry members have agreed with FDA's conclusion, but have cautioned the government to consider the public's concerns, which is why some are supporting a system to identify cloned animals.
The system would entail Viagen Inc. and Trans Ova Genetics, the two main U.S. cloning companies, attaching an electronic identification tag to each cloned cow or pig that is sold and requiring buyers to make a financial deposit with the cloning company. The deposit would only be returned following verification of death or sale of the animal to a food producer, who must then sign a pledge to market the animal as a clone.
James H. Hodges, president of the American Meat Institute Foundation, told that AMI recognizes and takes seriously consumers' concerns regarding the issue of eating food from cloned animals.
"We support the supply chain management program announced by the cloning technology providers," he said. "The program addresses customer requests to ensure that the products they receive do not include cloned animals. The industry now has a tool to track cloned animals throughout their life and market only products that meet customer expectations."
But consumer advocates and lawmakers are still concerned. "It is much too soon for this controversial technology to be unleashed in the marketplace, especially without requiring it to be labeled," said Wenonah Hauter, director of Food & Water Watch, the Associated Press reported.
FDA requires that ingredients and additives that alter the nutritional content of foods be labeled, but says cloned animals are indistinguishable from naturally produced animals.
While the public continues to doubt the safety of food from cloned animals, many meat industry experts doubt that it will ever really penetrate supermarket shelves owing to the high cost of cloning animals.

Holiday oysters are safer to eat when cooked
Source of Article:
Thursday, December 20th, 2007.
Issue 51, Volume 11.
The County of San Diego is advising those who eat oysters to be aware of the health dangers associated with bacterial illness.
Many people may find raw oysters to be a favorite holiday indulgence, but County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten warns diners that thoroughly cooked oysters are much safer to eat.
¡°Thoroughly cooked oysters reduce the risk of illness from bacteria,¡± Dr. Wooten said.
¡°It is important for consumers to know about the risks of eating raw oysters.¡±
Tips for safely eating oysters:
? Ensure oysters are from a safe and approved source.
? Ask where the oysters were harvested.
? Only purchase oysters with the shells closed.
? Properly refrigerate oysters to minimize the growth of bacteria.
? Wash hands between handling oysters and other food.
? Cook oysters thoroughly in order to destroy the bacteria, eliminating the risk of illness for healthy people and those with underlying health issues. Boil oysters until the shells open and then boil for an additional three to five minutes.
Occasionally, oysters have been found to be contaminated with Vibrio parahaemolyticus, bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal illness.
While Vibrio parahaemolyticus from raw oysters can cause mild illness in healthy individuals, older people and those with weak immune systems are at greater risk for more serious illness. Symptoms such as watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills may occur. Anyone suspecting that she or he is ill from this bacterium should contact a healthcare provider.
More information can be found by visiting

Gift turtles pose risk
Source of Article:
State health officials are reminding parents not to buy small pet turtles as Christmas presents for children. The warning comes after an investigation into a cluster of N.C. children who were infected with salmonellosis after handling pet turtles.
Public health agencies in both North Carolina and South Carolina investigated the five cases -- four in Burke, Lincoln, Union and Montgomery counties and one in York County. Four children had positive cultures for salmonella; the fifth did not have a positive culture but was sick and had contact with a confirmed case. All five children, who got sick this summer, have recovered, although one was hospitalized with kidney failure as a result of the infection.
Veterinarians recently tested the Union County child's pet turtle cage, which tested positive for the same strain of Salmonella that was responsible for the outbreak.
Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection that causes diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, fever and headache. People get sick within six to 72 hours after exposure to the Salmonella bacteria and are generally sick for two to seven days. The risk is highest for infants and children, seniors, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems.
Salmonella is a naturally occurring bacteria in turtles and other reptiles. Turtles contaminated with Salmonella don't appear to be sick. Although turtles of any size can be contaminated with Salmonella, small turtles pose a particular risk as they are more likely to be handled by children.
The Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of turtles with shells smaller than four inches in diameter in 1975 after the link between Salmonella and handling the small turtles was documented. Although the FDA is responsible for enforcing that ban, the agency says many people are unaware of it and can still find baby turtles for sale in stores as well as on the Internet. Turtles and other reptiles naturally shed the Salmonella bacteria. Anyone handling turtles of any kind should wash their hands afterwards to prevent infection.

Farm to fork approach vital against persisting food poisoning
By Laura Crowley
Source of Article:
20/12/2007 - The European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) emphasised the importance of the farm to fork approach in combating the continuing high prevalence of infectious diseases transmissible from animals to humans.
In its annual report on zoonotic diseases, EFSA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control found that while salmonella and campylobacter infections have decreased in Europe, Listeria has increased by 8.6 per cent.
"The 2006 zoonoses report shows that the farm to fork approach for food safety and protecting public health is vital," said EFSA executive director Catherine Geslain-Laneelle.
The farm to fork policy applies regulations at every point in the food chain in an attempt to improve safety.
Geslain-Laneelle added: "Listeriosis is on the increase and bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter are still being found in animals on the farm, the food on our table and, unfortunately, in humans."
Furthermore, some bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to commonly used antibiotics.
ECDC Director Zsuzsanna Jakab, said: "An alarming fact highlighted in the 2006 report is that zoonotic bacteria found in animals and in humans are becoming increasingly resistant to commonly used antibiotics. This trend should be of concern for all those working with animal and human health issues."
Twenty-four member states submitted information on the occurrence of zoonoses to the European Commission and EFSA in 2006 to produce this report.


The number of reported cases of listeriosis has increased considerably, from 1,427 cases in 2005 to 1,583 in 2006.

Alarmingly, the number of cases per 100,000 has increased by over 59 per cent over the last five years.

Although still affecting significantly fewer people than salmonella and campylobacter, it carries a high mortality rate, particularly among vulnerable groups such as the elderly. It is also very dangerous to pregnant women as it can cause foetal infections, miscarriages and stillbirths. Fifty-six per cent of Listeria infections occurred in individuals above 65 years of age.

Ready-to-eat foodstuffs, such as cheeses and fishery and meat products, tended to be at the origin of most human infections.


The number of cases of salmonella reported in Europe has dropped for the third consecutive year, from 173,879 people in 2005 (38 people per 100,000) to 160,649 in 2006 (35 cases per 100,000). This makes it the second most common human zoonotic disease across the EU.
The majority of human salmonella infections have originated from eggs, poultry, meat, pig meat, and even spices and herbs.
An average of 5.6 per cent of all raw broiler meat samples were reported to be infected with Salmonella in the EU, and in some instances the levels were as high as 67.6 per cent.


The most frequently reported animal infection transmissible to humans is campylobacter, with over 175,000 sufferers in the EU in 2006 (46 cases for every 100,000 people). This fell from 195, 426 in 2005, which represented 52 cases in every 100,000 people.
The most common food borne route of infection is through poultry meat. An average 35 per cent of all raw broiler meat samples in the EU tested positive for campylobacter. This went up to as high as 66.3 per cent in some instances.

U.S. Agency to Focus Efforts On Reducing E. Coli Threat
December 19, 2007; Page D9

Source of Article:

Consumers can expect to see just as many beef recalls, if not more, in 2008 as they did this year as the U.S. Department of Agriculture continues efforts to reduce the threat of the deadly E. coli bacteria after a year that saw an increase in beef contamination as well as consumer illness-related recalls.

Routine government sampling in 2007 showed elevated rates of E. coli 0157:H7 contamination -- 0.22% positive versus 0.17% in 2006 -- and dozens of illnesses from the bacteria were linked to beef recalls. There had been none in 2006.

It took one of the largest-ever beef recalls -- 21.7 million pounds of frozen hamburger patties linked to severe illnesses -- in 2007 to make USDA officials question whether beef processors around the country were following safety guidelines when it came to E. coli contamination. The New Jersey-based Topps Meat Co., the producer behind the massive recall, certainly wasn't, USDA officials said.

"When we sent food-safety assessors into the Topps plant, we found that their policies they had in place were not being followed nearly as vigorously as they had been just two years ago when we did a food-safety assessment in the same plant," USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Richard Raymond said in an interview.

The Topps event led to several tough questions. The first was whether the Topps situation was unique.

"We don't know if Topps was the tip of the iceberg and other plants have gotten sloppy, or Topps was kind of an isolated incident," Mr. Raymond said.

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