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FDA Warns Public of Possible Botulism Risk

New Era Recall Expanded for Canned Green Beans and Garbanzo Beans
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced that New Era Canning Company, New Era, Mich., is expanding its product recall because of potential Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum) contamination to all canned green beans and garbanzo beans distributed by the company nationwide over the last five years. C. botulinum can cause botulism, a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition. The affected cans are large institutional-sized containers, weighing approximately six and a half pounds.

Symptoms of botulism poisoning in humans can begin from 6 hours to 2 weeks after eating food that contains the toxin. Symptoms may include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, and muscle weakness that moves progressively down the body, affecting the shoulders first, then descending to the upper arms, lower arms, thighs, and calves. Botulism poisoning also can cause paralysis of the breathing muscles, which can result in death unless assistance with breathing (mechanical ventilation) is provided. Individuals who have these symptoms and who may have recently eaten the products under recall or other food products made with them should seek immediate medical attention.

To date, no illnesses have been reported to the FDA; however, consumers should not consume these products, even if they appear to be normal, because of the potential serious risk to health. Consumers who have the affected products or who have used them in recipes should immediately throw the cans and food away.

New Era took this voluntary action in the interest of public health in accordance with FDA's recall request. The company is taking immediate action to retrieve all inventories of the products throughout the distribution chain, including consumers' homes, nursing homes, schools, warehouses, restaurants, retail stores, health care facilities, and other facilities.

For specific brands and codes of green beans and garbanzo beans that are subject to this recall, consumers and retailers can access this information at the following link: Please note that New Era produces canned products under other brand names and labels. Therefore, the recalled products may not necessarily be labeled with New Era's name. Also, the cans may bear a variety of product codes or no codes at all. Greens beans with code beginning with "00249" or "GREEN", or garbanzo beans with code beginning with "00249" or "GARB", or products with no code or absence of a code that are subject to this recall should not be opened or used, and should be disposed of as described below. Consumers who are not sure if a product is subject to the recall should still throw it out as a precaution.

Any food that may contain the recalled canned beans should be disposed of carefully. Even tiny amounts of the C. botulinum toxin can cause serious illness when ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the eye or a break in the skin. Skin contact should be avoided as much as possible, and hands should be washed immediately after handling the food.

When disposing of these products, double-bag the cans in plastic bags. Make sure the bags are tightly closed, then place in a trash receptacle for non-recyclable trash outside of the home. Restaurants and institutions should ensure that such products are only placed in locked receptacles that are not accessible to the public. Additional instructions for safe disposal may be found at . Anyone with questions may call FDA at 1-888-SAFEFOOD.

FDA and the Michigan Department of Agriculture launched a joint investigation of New Era's processing plant. This investigation resulted in the identification of C. botulinum contamination in several lots of canned green beans and one lot of garbanzo beans, the identification of serious food violations, and this expanded recall. Original findings of this investigation resulted in the company voluntarily recalling green beans in December 2007 ( ), and green beans, Mexican-style chili beans, and dark red kidney beans in January ( ).

FDA initiated the inspection at New Era, along with inspections of other low acid canned food (LACF) manufacturers, following four cases of botulism in consumers who had consumed canned hot dog chili sauce in the summer of 2007. In light of these botulism cases, FDA increased its inspection efforts to assure that manufacturers of all types of LACF products are adhering to applicable FDA requirements. These actions illustrate the need for companies to operate under adequate preventive control systems.

As part of the ongoing investigation, FDA issued an Order of Need for Emergency Permit to New Era. This order prohibits the manufacture and shipment of the company's low acid canned foods across state lines until they demonstrate to FDA's satisfaction that the products are safe. In addition, the Michigan Department of Agriculture, under its state authority, has embargoed New Era's entire inventory of low acid canned products contained in the company's warehouses in Michigan. As a result, New Era is not currently distributing any products.

Prevention of foodborne illness is a key element of the FDA's new Food Protection Plan , launched November 6, 2007.

Food-Borne Illness Litigation
Posted on January 24, 2008 by Bill Marler
Advanced Strategies for Managing and Defending Food Contamination Claims
Source of Article:
Thursday, February 28, 2008 to Friday, February 29, 2008
Millennium Resort, Scottsdale McCormick Ranch, Scottsdale, AZ, United States
2007 was the year of the recall, with E. coli contamination increasing sharply in 2007 over the previous two years. And it's not just beef recalls and E. coli contamination that are making the news... Peanut butter, spinach, pot pies and pizza; salmonella, listeria and other toxins... All kinds of food-borne illnesses and the ensuing litigation are on the rise, as experts point fingers at increased use of offshore food sources, a largely self-regulated industry, and other factors in an attempt to explain the sudden surge. It's clearly a critical time for food companies, and the lawyers who advise them, to get valuable, practical information to enable you to minimize the likelihood of these situations and the ensuing litigation from occurring - and to manage the litigation appropriately when it arises.
To address these growing concerns, American Conference Institute has developed this critical conference on Preventing and Managing Food-Borne Illness Litigation. For this unique event, we've assembled a multi disciplinary faculty of epidemiologists, microbiologists, key regulators and top litigators in the area, and an agenda that covers all the issues that arise in litigating and settling these complex cases. Get strategic and practical insights into:
* Understanding the science behind tracing and identifying a pathogen - so you can make or refute the causal link in your case
* Getting back on track with consumers after a crisis:getting out the right message
* Using Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests:why they are such an effective discovery tool in food borne illness cases
* Deposing food-borne illness experts: tips and techniques
* Effect of insurance coverage issues on how you proceed in a third party action
* Analysis of where plaintiffs been most successful in food-borne illness class actions and MDL proceedings
Don't miss this unique opportunity to hear what others are doing in response to this growing, highly-specialized litigation. Get your questions answered and get valuable tips and practice points you can use in your own cases. Spaces will go quickly, so register now for this important event. We look forward to seeing you in Scottsdale in February.
To register, visit,

Cloned Meat Decision Sparks Consumer Campaign
Caitlin G. Johnson
OneWorld US
Thu., Jan. 24, 2008
Source of Article:
NEW YORK, Jan 24 (OneWorld) - A broad coalition is urging consumers and grocery stores to refuse burgers, milk, and other products from cloned animals, following a U.S. government decision to lift a ban on the controversial foods.
Dolly the cloned sheep. ¨Ï VerseVend (flickr)
Earlier this month, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) capped years of debate by lifting the ban on selling meat and dairy products from cloned cattle, swine, and goats. (There was not enough information to reach a conclusion on sheep, according to the FDA.)
Within hours, a petition hit cyberspace warning that "Genetically speaking, you meat eaters could be eating burgers from the same cow for years."
The petition will urge grocery stores to refuse to stock food from cloned animals. Signatures will be delivered to grocery stores, the U.S. Congress, and the FDA.
The campaign is sponsored by the advocacy group Friends of the Earth and a coalition of corporations, nonprofits, and politicians including Ben & Jerry's, the Consumer Federation of America, Union of Concerned Scientists, the Center for Food Safety, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).
The coalition says the FDA studies are inadequate to determine the safety of cloned meat because the sample size is too small -- there are only about 600 cloned animals in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- and because clones' offspring are not included in the assessment.
"The concern is that the majority of clones die either before or directly after birth. It took 227 tries to get Dolly. This indicates they're genetically abnormal," says Gillian Madill, genetic technologies campaigner for Friends of the Earth. "If we eat them, what are the consequences for our health? What about cancers and late-onset degenerative disease?"
"The FDA looked at short-term consequences, and even then, the evaluation is very limited and narrow in scope," Madill told OneWorld.
The FDA documents acknowledge that cloned livestock exhibit higher rates of prenatal death, large infant syndrome, and other "adverse outcomes."
These defects have given rise to concerns about animal welfare, too. The Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit advocacy organization, has called cloning "the most brutal livestock breeding technology" in use.
The group also questions the safety of food from clones. In March 2007, it released a report critical of the FDA's risk assessment, calling for longer-term, peer-reviewed studies.
"At the very least, we need to demand that Congress require labeling of this unproven, untested new food."
- Jaydee Hanson, Center for Food Safety
"The FDA hasn't done its job," says Jaydee Hanson, policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety. "You couldn't even get a new animal drug approved with research as weak as the FDA used. We need to stop, have the FDA go back and do this right."
The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), however, is satisfied with the ruling, citing a "growing international consensus" and data supporting the safety of food from cloned animals.
"We're comfortable telling the public that they should not worry about this from a safety point of view," says Gregory Jaffe, director of the CSPI biotechnology project. "First, only healthy animals that reach maturity will enter into the food supply, and the offspring of clones don't have any of the animal health concerns that clones have. DNA is not passed to us when we eat milk or meat from animals."
Although CSPI does not take a stand on the ethical issues, Jaffe says the animal welfare concerns are worth examining. "Clearly there are issues for the surrogate mothers and for the clones themselves," he notes.
Not Likely to Hit Stores Soon
Because cloning is an expensive technology, it is more likely to be used for breeding stock than direct food production -- which means the offspring of cloned animals are more likely than clones themselves to show up in the food supply.
Producers are wading into the market slowly, in the wake of recent opinion polls indicating that a majority of the public is uncomfortable with food from cloned animals.
Major cattle and meat industry groups have expressed support for the ruling. "[Cloning] allows ranchers to duplicate their best breeding animals to quickly improve their herd," says Mary Geiger, a member of the communications team of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. "Clones are conventionally born, there is no genetic modification -- essentially, they are twins."
Jeremy Russell, communications director for the National Meat Association, a nonprofit trade association, notes that cloned meat is not likely to be hitting the shelves of local supermarkets anytime soon. "I have heard some companies are rightly concerned that they don't want to upset their customer base, so they're choosing not to use any cloning technology. I am sure other companies will experiment," he says.
To address consumer fears, the National Meat Association says it is pushing for an industry-wide animal management system to track cloned animals and their offspring.
At the same time that the FDA announced its ruling, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a statement supporting the assessment but requesting that U.S. farmers keep cloned meat off the market "during this transition time."
"The fact that the USDA can't back the decision of the FDA -- one says it's ready for market, one says it's not -- signifies some sort of scientific miss there," says Madill from Friends of the Earth.
"We need to focus more on promoting small, local farms who use naturally grown crops and livestock instead of finding technological answers to save big agriculture and slaughterhouses," she says.
But if cloned foods do become more commonly available in U.S. grocery stores, the next battle will likely be over labeling.
"At the very least, we need to demand that Congress require labeling of this unproven, untested new food," says Hanson of the Center for Food Safety, who believes consumers have the right to be fully informed about what they're purchasing and eating.
As for policing the meat departments of stores who take the no-clone pledge, the campaign members are counting on consumer pressure to keep grocers -- and farmers -- honest.

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

Food safety: An important food quality feature for consumers
Source of Article:
Saturday, January 26, 2008
MORE than 800 million people today, many of them children, are hungry and malnourished. Most of these people live in parts of the world where food is contaminated or adulterated. Food-borne diseases are a problem and the task of accurately making an estimate of the occurrence of food diseases is formidable in many countries.
It is estimated that 70 percent of the diarrhea cases in the world yearly are directly caused by biological or chemical contamination in foods. Even when such diseases are not fatal, they increase the effects of poor diet. They could lead to retardation and physical disabilities. Plant toxins have also been implicated in food safety problems. Some cases of adulteration in food grains has led to disease outbreaks. Other outbreaks have involved contaminants like lead, mercury, and cadmium. Marine biotoxins have also been implicated in some poisoning cases, along with mould growth.
In a recent gathering of nutritionists, the main concerns were the use of antibiotics and hormones in meat and poultry, pesticide residues in food, use of genetically modified ingredients, and food adulteration. It was reported that leading companies have committed to provide maximum food safety and quality with the linked branding method, where the highest quality food and feed ingredient suppliers offer their brands to support processed food products.
"We are what we eat" is an old proverb which simply means that our nutritional status, health, physical, and mental faculties depend on the food we eat and how we eat it. Access to good-quality food has been man¡¯s main endeavor since the earliest days of human existence. It is the basic responsibility of the food industry to produce and market quality and safe food. And it is the duty of government to guarantee compliance by industry with national food quality and safety requirements.

Health officials advise consumers of canned food recall
(Created: Friday, January 25, 2008 11:24 AM EST)
Source of Article:
Health officials are warning consumers to be watchful of any signs or symptoms of food-borne illness as a result of a nationwide recall of commercially canned green beans and garbanzo beans.
Michigan-based New Era Canning Company has recalled all cans of green beans and garbanzo beans distributed by the company over the last five years because they may have been contaminated by Clostridium botulinum, the bacterium that causes botulism, a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition. In addition, limited quantities of the other canned products, such as Mexican-style chili beans, have been recalled in earlier announcements from the company. Visit for a complete list.
The affected cans are large institutional-sized containers, weighing about six and a half pounds. More than 60 products were distributed to retailers, restaurants, schools, foodservice institutions and other facilities nationwide under various labeled brands.
To date, no illnesses have been reported from these products. However, consumers who have these products or any foods made with these products should immediately double-bag and throw the cans and food away.
Officials with the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health have conducted onsite checks of retailers, schools and restaurants and have found that some of the recalled products in question have been used in recent weeks.
Because there is no way to know for sure which institutions have already served the product, consumers should monitor themselves for signs and symptoms of food-borne illness.
Symptoms of botulism poisoning can begin from six hours to 10 days after eating food that contains the toxin and may include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth and muscle weakness that moves progressively down the body starting at the head, then descending to the arms, torso and legs. Botulism poisoning can also lead to paralysis of the breathing muscles, which can result in death unless assistance with breathing (mechanical ventilation) is provided.
Individuals who are experiencing these symptoms and who may have recently eaten the beans currently under recall or other foods made with these items should seek immediate medical attention.
For more information, visit the health department¡¯s Web site at or go to Consumers can also call the FDA at (888) SAFEFOOD.

Japanese Sushi Lovers Shrug at Mercury
By MARI YAMAGUCHI 3 hours ago Source of Article: TOKYO (AP) ? Kazuhiro Ukiuchi loves his tuna sushi, and he tries to have it once a week ? despite the common knowledge in Japan the popular fish can contain toxic mercury.
"I wouldn't worry about it," Ukiuchi said, strolling through Tokyo's main fish market Friday. "We're not talking about eating 10 tuna sushi every day ? in which case I might be a little bit worried."
Recent reports about high mercury levels in tuna served at ubiquitous sushi restaurants in New York have been met with a collective yawn in Japan, the world's undisputed sushi capital.
Ukiuchi's relaxed attitude about mercury ? which in high concentrations can cause severe brain damage ? is matched by the Japanese government, which exempts tuna from its legal limits on mercury in seafood because it's not caught coastally.
Rules ban many types of seafood if the concentration of mercury exceeds 0.4 parts per million. The limit is 0.3 ppm for mercury's more dangerous derivative, methylmercury.
The restriction was set in the 1970s after outbreaks of industrial mercury poisoning in the southern town of Minamata that sickened thousands and caused hideous birth defects in the 1950s and 60s.
Victims fought for more than a decade before the government and the Chisso Corp., which contaminated fishing grounds, acknowledged the poisoning and provided widespread compensation.
Traces of mercury, which also occurs naturally, are found in nearly all fish and shellfish. The substance builds up in the animals as they feed on other fish and shellfish, so larger predator fish that have lived longer generally have higher levels.
Despite the absence of any restrictions on mercury in tuna, officials periodically check the fish. Japan consumes some 450,000 tons of it a year ? more than anywhere else in the world, according to the Organization for the Promotion of Responsible Tuna Fisheries, a Tokyo-based industry group.
A Health Ministry survey in 2005, for instance, found an average of 0.7 ppm of mercury in blue fin tuna, and the highest concentration found was a startling 6.1 ppm ? more than 15 times the limit for other types of seafood. The government has issued advisories warning pregnant women and young children to limit consumption, but mercury does not seem to be a high priority for officials. "We consider pregnant women a high-risk group, but ordinary people are fine as long as they continue a balanced, healthy diet," said Yuichiro Ejima, a ministry official in charge of food safety. The circumspect view was a contrast to Japanese consumers' scare over mad cow disease. Tokyo shut down its imports of American beef for two years after a single case of the disease was discovered in the U.S. herd. Shigeo Ekino, mercury expert at Kumamoto University in southern Japan, said consumers should be more cautious about mercury, since it's not clear how little it takes to cause nerve damage. "But there is no doubt that mercury intake is harmful, and eventually destroys brain tissues," Ekino said, citing symptoms of Minamata victims, whom he has studied. "We should cut down tuna consumption to as little as possible." The New York Times, in a story published Thursday, reported that eight of 44 pieces of sushi sampled from local restaurants and stores had mercury concentrations over 1 ppm, a level the paper reported would allow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to take the fish off the market. Ejima said the most dangerous thing he took from the report was that it could spread "groundless rumors." "Seafood is an important source of nutrition," he added.

The New York City Health Department released survey findings in July that showed one in four New York City adults had elevated blood mercury levels, which they said were closely tied to fish consumption. But the agency reported that while such levels in pregnant women could increase a risk in cognitive delays for their children, they pose little if any risk to the health of normal adults. After the Times story was published, a spokeswoman at the office said their advice to New Yorkers about tuna sushi had not changed. They released a statement reassuring residents that "no one needs to stop eating fish, but some people may need to change the type and amount they eat." The denizens of the fish market in Tokyo ? the largest in the world ? also were skeptical about the worries, expressing confidence that Japanese food safety standards would protect them. "Where did that tuna in New York come from? I bet it's not from Japan," said fish shop owner Yoshiaki Saito. "Fresh tuna from the Japanese coast should be fine it's the best." Sushi lovers said it would take more than a U.S. report to take them away from their tuna rolls, and they argued a little mercury was probably harmless compared to the fats and oils in something like a hamburger and fries. "I would think tuna sushi is much better than fast food," said Ukiuchi. "I'd have to be really unlucky if I die from eating tuna sushi." Associated Press Writer Lily Hindy in New York contributed to this report.

FSIS Issues Notice on Verification of the Annual Reassessment and Establishment Training Requirements Under the HACCP System
January 24, 2008 Source of Article:

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued Notice 9-08 1/23/08, which instructs inspection program personnel on how to verify that an establishment has met the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) System annual reassessment and training requirements under 9 CFR 417.4(a)(3) and 417.7, respectively. This notice cancels FSIS Notice 35-07 and updates the information found in that notice. Section 417.7(b) provides that the individual who performs the annual reassessment, as well as any person who develops a HACCP plan for an establishment under 9 CFR 417.2(b) or who modifies a HACCP plan, must have completed a course of instruction in the application of the seven principles of HACCP to meat or poultry product processing, including a segment on the development of a HACCP plan for a specific product and on record review. Annually, FSIS personnel should verify that the establishment has performed its annual reassessment and complied with the training requirement for each of its HACCP plans.
To see a full copy of the notice, click here:

Former ConAgra Food Safety Exec Clarifies Dismissal January termination characterized as "unexpected and disappointing" by well-respected food safety leader Source of Article: Quiddity Communications, LLC
(Chicago, Illinois) Jan. 21, 2008 ? Although he wishes his former company the best in filling his position as vice president of global food safety, Paul A. Hall, Ph.D., released today a statement aimed at clarifying and mitigating potential erroneous assumptions as a result of ConAgra Foods' announcement of its decision to terminate him.
The announcement originally appeared in the Omaha World Herald on Jan. 15, and was subsequently picked up by newswires, Internet and other media outlets for publication and broadcast the same day.
Dr. Hall was hired in April 2007 by the Omaha, NE-based multinational food manufacturer to develop and strengthen its company's food safety systems in the wake of the highly publicized February recall of Salmonella-tainted peanut butter labeled under ConAgra Foods' Peter Pan and Great Value brands. The adulterated product, manufactured in its Sylvester, GA plant, has been linked to 600 cases of salmonellosis, resulting in a multimillion-dollar class action lawsuit.
As part of making "significant investment in and changes to the manufacturing environment to ensure this situation does not occur again" as noted by ConAgra Foods' CEO Gary Rodkin in an April 5 press release, the company touted its appointment of Dr. Hall as securing the know-how of "a recognized and well-respected food safety expert to a leadership position, which will consolidate responsibility for existing and future companywide oversight of food safety initiatives and systems in a single position." As ConAgra pointed out, Dr. Hall is a recognized leading expert with more than 30 years' experience in microbiology, food safety and food quality, including such positions as chief microbiology and food safety officer with Kraft Foods Global and as past-president of the nation's leading food safety organization, the International Association for Food Protection.
Four months after Dr. Hall accepted the position, ConAgra Foods rebounded from the peanut butter crisis, placing product back on the shelves in August. However, a second foodborne illness outbreak linked to Salmonella-contaminated Banquet brand pot pies manufactured at a ConAgra Missouri plant in October sickened more than 270 consumers in 32 states. Following the company's investigation, strengthening deficiencies in the plant's record keeping and improving an inadequate Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan were identified as the company's top measures to address the problem. Banquet Pot Pies returned to retailers' shelves in less than two months, although the recall has cost the company approximately $30 million so far.

Although the Omaha World-Herald article, in which a ConAgra Foods spokeswoman states that he was fired "because he violated one of the company's employment policies," was unexpected, Dr. Hall stated that he appreciated that the company also made clear that his termination was unrelated to the company's food safety efforts under his watch. "However, I am concerned that the use of the term 'violated' in association with ConAgra's decision to exercise their at-will contractual right to terminate my employment may cause some misunderstanding or erroneous guesses in the food safety community as to the specific reason for my firing. I do not believe that furthering potentially incorrect assumptions that would negatively impact my credibility in the industry is the aim of ConAgra in announcing its decision in this article, and for that reason I feel compelled to clarify that aspect of Joe Ruff's reporting."

Specifically, stated Dr. Hall, the employment policy in question is related to his acceptance of a board of directors position with a small technology company whose products have food safety applications. Although Dr. Hall joined the tech company's board prior to his hiring by ConAgra Foods, and verbally disclosed this information during the hiring process, a company manager described his participation on the board as a "conflict of interest" that warranted his immediate termination. Dr. Hall also stated that ConAgra was aware of a press release issued in May 2007 by the technology company announcing his appointment to its board of directors. "ConAgra had another opportunity to raise the alleged conflict of interest concern at that time and did not do so."

"I cannot say why the company did not bring this to my attention as a problem earlier, either in the hiring period or at any point in my seven months as vice president of global food safety, choosing to highlight it only on the day on which they terminated my employment," Dr. Hall said. "I am deeply saddened that it was not brought to my attention as I could have easily remedied their concerns and resigned from the board. In no way would I want to perpetuate the appearance of impropriety of any kind and I would have welcomed the opportunity, had it been given, to address the issue."

In addition, the mention in the article of Matrix MicroScience, Inc. of Golden, Colo., as both Dr. Hall's former employer and the technology developers of a food safety testing system being used at a number of ConAgra Foods facilities, is another item that requires clarification, he noted. "Because the Omaha-Herald's reporter makes mention of Matrix MicroScience, my previous connection to the company and the fact that Matrix's test system is used at ConAgra plants, people might wrongly add one and one and get three. The fact is that this is a completely different company than the one for which I serve on the board. At no time did ConAgra cite any other industry company with whom I have had or do have a connection as a potential conflict of interest or as a reason for termination."

The circumstances of his Jan. 8 firing were "unexpected and disappointing," added Dr. Hall, noting that ConAgra food safety professionals who "worked by my side and rolled up their sleeves last year in the face of such high-pressure food safety crises are top-notch, from the production floors to the labs."

"I am proud of what I accomplished in less than a year, and I wish the company the best as it looks to fill this tremendously important position in Omaha," said Dr. Hall.

Among his achievements during his seven-month tenure at ConAgra, Dr. Hall led the upgrade of the food safety systems at the Georgia peanut butter plant, including HACCP plans, environmental monitoring and product/ingredient testing programs. Dr. Hall also established an internal HACCP and Food Safety Council and HACCP standard that will serve as the basis for their strengthened programs. He also instituted enhanced testing and food safety control protocols across the company's manufacturing network, championed an increase in employee food safety training programs, contributed to the development of more stringent supplier verification standards, and established an external Food Safety Council comprised of leading academic food safety experts to counsel the company on current and potential food safety issues.

Acrylamide linked to elevated breast cancer risk
By David Liu, Ph.D.
Jan 22, 2008 - 9:35:04 PM Source of Article:
TUESDAY JAN 22, 2008 ( -- A new study led by Henrik Frandsen, a senior scientist at the Technical University of Denmark and the Danish Cancer Society and colleagues showed that high dietary intake of acrylamide may increase the risk of breast cancer.
The amount of acrylamide found in fried and baked food products has been considered safe. The industry and the government have said no evidence suggests this carcinogen found in foods poses any cancer risk in humans.
The epidemiologic study of 374 postmenopausal women with breast cancer and 374 women without cancer showed that the risk of breast cancer doubles in women with a tenfold increase in the acrylamide-haemoglobin level.
This magnitude of increase in the acrylamide-haemoglobin level was found in women who had the highest exposure to the toxic chemical when compared to those who had the lowest exposure.
The association was strongest for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, according to the researchers who published their study in the International Journal of Cancer.
Acrylamide is a carcinogen produced in baked, roasted, fried and toasted starch foods. It was found in processed food first by Swedish researchers in 2002.
Although there has been doubt that this carcinogen at a dose found in the foods has any effect on humans, it's been proved that this carcinogen causes cancer in mice.
Dietary acrylamide has been already linked to an increased risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer in a study of 62,573 women published last year by Janneke Hogervorst and co-workers from the University of Maastricht.
Breast cancer is diagnosed in about 190,000 women each year in the United States and kills about 50,000 women in the country.

Iowa State University Expands Food Safety Presence
By Pork news staff (Wednesday, January 23, 2008)

Source of Article: State University's food-safety Web site just got broader. The site,, has been expanded to include podcasting and streaming video technology that offers presentations of interest to foodservice personnel. Among the offerings are three new videos that target schools and assisted-living facilities. Specifically, they address time and temperature aspects of safe cooking and handling procedures. The videos also review cleaning and sanitizing steps, and employee health and hygiene issues such as hand washing. They can be downloaded as MP4 files. The other features include interactive modules with presentations on food temperature monitoring, hand washing, cross-contamination issues and cleaning and sanitizing. A viewer can click on an image that takes them to a series of images that provides instructions, and then advances to the next part. The images are animated to illustrate the appropriate ways of performing tasks. Maintenance and production of the site is supported by funds from the Food Safety Consortium.
Source:, Iowa State University

Raw Milk Legislation Makes Hay on Both Coasts - Is It about Health or Money?
Posted on January 19, 2008 by Food Poisoning Lawyer
Source of Article:
I missed out on the Legislative Hearing in California on Raw Milk bacterial limits. However, one of my crack lawyers was there and the hearing is all of tape for later use (from the video it reminds me of a Grateful Dead concert). The bottom line seems to be that the lawmakers felt the Department of Agriculture had not adequately informed them of possible opposition, and that the two major producers of raw milk would be put out of business because they could not meet the new standards. There also was some discussion about the pros and cons of drinking raw milk - health benefits vs health risks. That debate will go on.
Dennis Pollock of the Fresno Bee seems to be one of the only reporters brave enough to join in the Hearing frenzy - "Lawmakers backtrack, push repeal of raw milk limits"
Dairies hit by a new law two weeks ago say the bacteria regulations will force them to shut, and a state agency draws heat. Just two weeks after new restrictions on raw milk took effect, the Assembly Agriculture Committee voted unanimously this week to repeal them after the state's two raw milk producers said they would go out of business if they had to comply. The measure, Assembly Bill 1604, would stop enforcement of limits for raw milk of 10 coliform bacteria or less per milliliter until June 30. Effective July 1, it would fix the limit at 50 coliform bacteria or fewer per milliliter.
Some of raw milk's appeal is that it contains "essential probiotic good bacteria," said Mark McAfee, founder and an owner of Organic Pastures.
On the other coast lawmakers also passed legislation to bolster dairy income. WCAX reported, "Bill Would Let Farmers Sell More Raw Milk."
A new bill in the Vermont legislature would allow farmers to sell unlimited amounts of raw milk directly to consumers. Supporters say it will provide extra income for farmers. A gallon of raw milk that's unpasteurized sells for about 6 dollars. Currently there are limits to how much raw milk farmers can sell because of health concerns. The bill would set up new health standards, including regular testing of the milk and labeling requirements. Raw milk could not be sold at retail shops or farm markets-- only direct to consumers. Farmers would also have to keep a list of who buys it.
With the political debate season in full swing, it would be interesting to have the heavy-weights in the Raw Milk debate square off. So, if we could organize such a debate, who would be the best representative on either side?

Foodborne illnesses can haunt victims years later
Scientists report that surviving an acute malady is no guarantee of a complete recovery.
By Lauran Neergaard Associated Press Source of Article:
WASHINGTON - It's a dirty little secret of food poisoning: E. coli and certain other foodborne illnesses can sometimes trigger serious health problems months or years after patients survived the initial, awful bout.
Scientists only now are unraveling a legacy that has largely gone unnoticed.
So far they have spotted cases of high blood pressure, kidney damage, and even full kidney failure striking 10 to 20 years after people survived severe E. coli infection as children; of arthritis after a bout of salmonella or shigella; and of a mysterious paralysis that can attack those who had symptoms of campylobacter.
"Folks often assume once you're over the acute illness, that's it, you're back to normal and that's the end of it," said Robert Tauxe of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The long-term consequences are "an important but relatively poorly documented, poorly studied area of foodborne illness."
These late effects are believed to make up a tiny fraction of the nation's 76 million annual food poisonings, although no one knows how many people are at risk. A bigger question is, what other illnesses have yet to be linked to food poisoning.
And with a rash of food recalls, these questions are taking on new urgency.
"We're drastically underestimating the burden on society that foodborne illnesses represent," contends Donna Rosenbaum of the consumer group Safe Tables Our Priority, or STOP. "There's nobody to refer them to for an answer."
So STOP this month is beginning the first national registry of food-poisoning survivors with long-term health problems - people willing to share their medical histories with scientists for research.
The CDC says foodborne illnesses cause 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths a year. Among survivors, some long-term consequences are obvious from the outset. Some required kidney transplants. They may have scarred intestines that promise lasting digestive difficulty.
But when people appear to recover, it is difficult to prove that later problems really are a food-poisoning legacy and not some unfortunate coincidence. It may be that those prone to certain gastrointestinal conditions also are genetically more vulnerable to the germs of foodborne illness.
For now, some of the best evidence comes from the University of Utah, which has long tracked children with E. coli. About 10 percent of E. coli sufferers develop a life-threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, a failure of the kidneys and other organs.
Ten to 20 years after they recover, 30 percent to half of HUS survivors will have some kidney-caused problem, says Andrew Pavia, the university's chief of pediatric infectious diseases. That includes high blood pressure caused by scarred kidneys, slowly failing kidneys, even end-stage kidney failure that requires dialysis.
Still, Pavia stresses, "I don't want to leave the message that everyone who had symptoms . . . is in trouble."
Miserable as E. coli is, it does not seem to trigger long-term problems unless it started shutting down the kidneys the first time around, he says. "People with uncomplicated diarrhea, by and large we don't have evidence yet that they have complications."
A variety of other problems might be triggered by HUS because it causes blood clots throughout the body, Pavia says. Among his hottest questions: Because HUS patients often suffer pancreatitis, does that increase the risk for diabetes later in life?
Proving a connection will require tracking many patients who can provide very good medical records.

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