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FSIS: new salmonella
policies for poultry slaughter facilities// 29 Jan 2008
Source of Article:
The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service has announced new policies
and practices for the Agency's salmonella verification sampling programme
in poultry establishments.
In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Salmonella
serotypes accounted for 38.6% of human food borne illnesses, making it
the most common human food borne pathogen. The FSIS is taking action to
advance efforts to achieve the Agency's public health goal of significantly
reducing human cases of salmonellosis.
The changes, which are set to take effect as from March 28, 2008, include:
- Publication on the FSIS website of completed verification sample set
results for establishments that show inconsistency to meet salmonella
performance standards, beginning with those from young chicken slaughter
establishments (there has been an increase in percent positive rates and
serotypes of human health concern found in these products).
- A voluntary incentive-based program for poultry establishments that
should yield significant data on attribution of human illness to FSIS-regulated
- Increasing the agency's use of targeted sampling approaches and collaborative
serotype and subtype data.
Significant success in poultry sector
On Nov. 16, 2007, FSIS posted the third quarter progress report on Salmonella
testing of selected raw poultry products. This report showed significant
success. Of turkey slaughter establishments, 84% are now Category 1, the
other 16% are in Category 2. These numbers represent significant improvement
from the first quarter of 2007 where 53% of establishments were in Category
1, 38% in Category 2 and 3% in Category 3. For broilers, the percentage
of establishments in Category 1 is 73% and the percentage of establishments
in Category 2 is 23%. This figure is up by 10% from the first quarter
of 2007. This is compared with only 35.5% of broiler establishments performing
in Category 1 after the first quarter of 2006.
- Category 2 establishments - sample set results above half but not exceeding
the current standard for one or both of their most recent sample sets.
- Category 3 establishments - exceeding the current standards.
- Category 1 establishments - the lowest Salmonella rates of the three
categories with sample set results at or below half of the current standards.
Participating establishments must collect samples for microbial analysis
on each line during each shift on every day of production. These additional
samples will provide the Agency with key microbial data on attribution
of human illness to FSIS-regulated products.
The FSIS is seeking comments, which need to be submitted by Feb. 27. All
comments must identify FSIS and the docket number FSIS-2006-0034 and can
be mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
To view the full notice, click here: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/News_%26_Events/NR_012808_01/index.asp
clash over food from clones
Critics want FDA to identify origins
(Chicago Tribune, IL)
By Stephen J. Hedges
Food safety groups, citing polls that indicate most Americans won't knowingly
buy food from cloned animals, are leading a protest against a government
policy of not requiring food labels to disclose details about its origin.
Two bills in Congress, one each in the House and Senate, would require
specific labeling for food from clones.
"What I don't understand is why we're not labeling," said Rep.
Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who sponsored the House version of the bill. "I
think it's one more indication of an abdication of a duty to protect public
A 2007 poll conducted by Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports
magazine, found that 89 percent of Americans want cloned foods to be labeled
and 69 percent said they have concerns about meat and dairy products from
U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman Kimberly Rawlings said the
agency can only require labels under certain conditions. "Under current
laws, FDA may require specific food labeling if there are any safety concerns,
or if there is a material difference in the composition of food,"
The past few years have marked a steady slide in labeling requirements
for certain foods. Disputes have erupted over disclosing the use of a
growth hormone in dairy cows, and most recently, the FDA had decided that
no special labels would be required for food from cloned animals.
The FDA made the last decision when it found earlier this month that food
from cloned animals was no different than conventionally produced milk
or meat. Because there is no difference, the FDA reasoned, there is no
legal need for a special label.
That logic has sparked sharp criticism from food safety groups, which
contend that the cloning label ruling is one in a steady string of regulatory
decisions in which the government has sided with the food industry over
These food safety groups and DeLauro are also critical of the Department
of Agriculture, which regulates meat and poultry. They note the agency's
reluctance to enforce a requirement that labels disclose the country of
origin of meat, produce and peanuts. Congress passed the requirement as
part of the 2002 farm bill, then relaxed the meat portion when the beef
The Agriculture Department, siding with the meat companies, has argued
that country-of-origin labeling, or COOL, was too costly to implement.
Yet such labeling is required for seafood. Food safety groups say the
value of that labeling became clear last year, when the FDA put restrictions
on some imported seafood because of possible contamination.
New legislation now requires COOL to be implemented for meat later this
year, but some meat industry groups have already vowed to try to prevent
"I do see a trend, worldwide, where consumers and the public are
asking for more information because more information is better,"
said Greg Jaffe, director of the biotechnology project for the Center
for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington food safety group. "Why
would somebody say no to more information?"
The Agriculture Department's move on country of origin labeling isn't
the agency's only controversial labeling decision. The department's Food
Safety and Inspection Service chose in 2004 not to require labels showing
that meat was treated with carbon monoxide, which helps packaged beef
The FDA's Rawlings said her agency has concluded that meat treated with
carbon monoxide is safe, and that extra labeling isn't required because
the carbon monoxide treatment does not "impart a color, it maintains
a naturally occurring color."
But both the FDA and Agriculture Department have steered clear of what
is probably the most contentious labeling dispute: whether dairies can
use labels that proclaim their milk came from cows that were not treated
with a growth hormone.
At issue is recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), also known as recombinant
bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which is marketed by Monsanto Co. under
the name Posilac.
Some dairies do not want to use the hormone, arguing that consumers are
not interested in milk that comes from cows treated with rBST. Some animal-rights
groups have questioned the hormone's effect on cows, and food groups have
raised doubts about whether the hormone is carried into milk products.
The FDA, Rawlings said, has concluded that "there is not a significant
difference between milk from treated and untreated cows and therefore,
under the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the agency did not have
the authority to require special labeling for milk from rBST-treated cows."
She said the FDA "has concluded that food companies that do not use
milk from cows treated with rBST may voluntarily inform consumers of this
fact in their product labels."
But because milk naturally contains bovine somatotropin, labeling milk
hormone-free is misleading, Rawlings said. Instead, the FDA suggests the
use of labels that state, "from cows not treated with rBST."
Several large grocery store chains, including Kroger and Publix, as well
as Starbucks and Caribou Coffee, have announced recently that they will
only offer milk from cows that have not been given rBST. Those businesses
said they were responding to consumer preferences.
Monsanto and farmers who want to use the hormone on their cows have challenged
the "no-hormone" labels. Monsanto filed a complaint with the
Federal Trade Commission last year, arguing that such labels imply that
there is something wrong with rBST, damaging its sales.
The dairy labeling fight has also unfolded in state regulatory agencies
and legislatures. Earlier this month, Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell
weighed in to halt a labeling dispute there. He concluded that the state
would allow the hormone-free labels, as long as they were accompanied
by a statement that the FDA found no difference in milk from rBST-treated
and untreated cows.
Illinois reached a similar solution about a decade ago, and similar disputes
are playing out in Ohio and Indiana.
Bill Friend, an Indiana state representative, has proposed legislation
that would prevent "hormone free" labels on milk. Friend said
dairy farmers in his rural district have been asked by Kroger and some
dairies to sign affidavits pledging that they are not using rBST. The
hormone increases production by up to 25 percent, Friend said, but farmers
could lose a market, and profits, if they don't sign the affidavits.
Among the groups opposing Friend's bill is Consumers Union. Michael Hansen,
a senior scientist for Consumers Union, said the "no hormones"
label resembles other labeling that advertises the lack of an ingredient
as a way to market food.
"Do all these products that advertise no artificial flavors, no artificial
colors have to be determined to be safe by the FDA?" Hansen asked.
83% worried about safety of food
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Source of Article: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20080129TDY03101.htm
About 83 percent of Japanese are worried about food safety, according
to a recent Yomiuri Shimbun opinion poll.
The figure is almost identical to the 84 percent who expressed such concerns
in a similar survey in September, held after a series of mislabeling scandals
of food products came to light, and suggests that concern over food safety
has taken root.
Asked about reasons for their anxiety in a multiple choice format, 71
percent chose "the series of scandals involving false labeling of
food products," while 57 percent picked "the increase in food
imports." "Residual agricultural chemicals" and "food
additives" were both picked by 50 percent of people.
Asked whether they trust food labels in general, 50 percent said they
do, with 9.3 percent choosing "very much." However, 49 percent
said they do not trust them, with 14.2 percent choosing "not at all."
Respondents who said they trust food labeling decreased by 11 points from
61 percent in an April 2004 survey. The mislabeling scandals seem to have
greatly affected consumer psychology, analysts say.
As reasons for the numerous food mislabeling scandals, about 85 percent
picked "moral decline among company owners and executives,"
followed by "insufficient monitoring and tests by authorities"
(50 percent) and "light punishment of law violators" (37 percent).
Asked whether they think food mislabeling cases will decrease, 42 percent
said they thought they would, but 55 percent said they did not think so.
The opinion poll was conducted using face-to-face interviews on Jan. 12
and 13 with 3,000 voters randomly selected at 250 locations throughout
the country. Of them, 1,780, or 59.3 percent, gave valid responses.
Food Safety and Quality Related Job Openings
NIR/Analytical Services Manager ? Land O¡¯Lakes, Inc.
- Shoreview, MN
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
and Quality Related Job Openings
Focuses on Deadly E. Coli
By JOSH FUNK 2 days ago
Source of Article: http://ap.google.com/article/
CLAY CENTER, Neb. (AP) ? Cattle wander among earth-covered bunkers that
dot the landscape just west of this tiny rural town. The bunkers are remnants
of a Naval ammunition depot that produced bombs during World War II. The
depot is now an animal research center where government scientists are
working to unlock secrets contained in the genetic makeup of the cattle.
Their focus: the E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria, which can kill if it reaches
the dinner table.
"Our purpose is to save little kids' lives," said Mohammad Koohmaraie,
director of the center.
The scientists at the Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center
say they still don't know why the number of beef recalls soared in 2007
or why E. coli contamination appeared to be rising.
"What we try to do is increase our understanding as much as possible
about the bug," Koohmaraie said.
The lab has its own feedlot and a herd of about 6,500 cows that are used
for genetic research.
In 2007, more than 30 million pounds of ground beef were pulled off the
market in 20 recalls because of possible E. coli contamination. That included
the second-largest recall in U.S. history, which put Topps Meat Co. out
At least 67 sicknesses were linked to last year's beef recalls. No deaths
were reported. In 2006, there were just eight beef recalls and no reported
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that
E. coli sickens about 73,000 people and kills 61 each year in the United
States. Most of the deaths are people with weak immune systems such as
the elderly or very young.
The bacteria was discovered in the late 1970s and is present in the intestines
of most cattle. It also can be found in deer, goats and sheep. It doesn't
cause problems for the livestock, but the E. coli 0157:H7 variant can
cause severe illness in humans.
Symptoms of E. coli infection include stomach cramps and diarrhea that
may turn bloody within one to three days.
The large scope of the research being conducted at the Meat Animal Research
Center sets its work apart from research at universities and other labs
in the USDA's Agricultural Research Service.
"The uniqueness of what we do is in the sample size," Koohmaraie
said. "We really don't speak unless we have confidence in the data.
A bug like E. coli 0157:h7 is really problematic if you don't design the
One of the lab's current projects will test whether feeding cattle distiller's
grain ? a byproduct of making the gasoline additive ethanol ? has any
effect on the level of E. coli and the quality of meat produced.
The Nebraska Corn Board suggested the distiller's grain research last
spring, and the lab agreed because more and more feedlots are using the
ethanol byproduct, Koohmaraie said.
The research involves 600 cattle. Half are being fed a traditional grain
feed and half are being fed distiller's grain. The research will wrap
up in June after the cattle have been sold for slaughter and samples of
their carcasses have been collected.
Smaller studies already suggest a link between distillers grain and high
levels of the bacteria. For instance, researchers at Kansas State University
said last fall they found that cattle fed distiller's grain are twice
as likely to carry E. coli 0157:H7.
The meat industry significantly increased its efforts to control E. coli
after the 1993 outbreak in which four children died and hundreds of people
became ill after eating undercooked hamburgers from Jack in the Box restaurants.
The Clay Center lab, which is about 120 miles southwest of Omaha, didn't
really have much of a food safety research program until the Jack in the
Box outbreak, Koohmaraie said. After that, Congress and the USDA made
it a priority to learn more about E. coli and other pathogens.
A great deal of research had already been done on E. coli by then, but
the Clay Center lab made an important discovery: E. coli was getting into
meat processing plants on the hides of cattle as well as inside the animals'
That work contributed to the development of systems to wash the hides
of cattle and the carcasses with either hot water or chemical solutions
as they enter the processing plants.
The lab determined which solutions work best and how washing systems should
Warren Mirtsching, who oversees food safety for JBS Swift & Co, said
the lab showed how valuable a hide washing system can be and that meat
packing plants didn't have to spend millions to install an effective system.
"I think they perform a very special niche," Mirtsching said.
"They are the validator."
On the Net:
USDA Agricultural Research Service: http://ars.usda.gov
Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center: http://tinyurl.com/yvb6vd
National Meat Association: http://nmaonline.org
Beef Industry Food Safety Council: http://www.bifsco.org
US Inspectors Stationed In Foreign Countries
Date Published: Friday, January 25th, 2008
Source of Article: http://www.newsinferno.com/archives/2453
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) would like to go global. In an
effort to improve the safety of imported foods and medicines, the FDA
wants to post its own inspectors in embassies and consulates throughout
the developing world. According to The New York Times, the ¡°boots on the
ground¡± initiative would focus on nations like India and China and regions
like Central and South America and the Middle East.
The FDA has jurisdiction over 80% of the US food supply and all prescription
and over the counter medications. But while imports of both food and drugs
have increased dramatically, the FDA inspects only about 1 percent off
the imported goods under its oversight. The FDA¡¯s oversight of imports
has been under scrutiny since last year, when dozens of imported products
were recalled over safety issues. Foods from China, particularly seafood
laced with illegal levels of antibiotics and toxic pet food ingredients,
have been of special concern. The outcry over those scandals has led the
FDA to reexamine its food safety procedures, especially regarding imported
Traditionally, the FDA had been a reactive organization, and steps up
inspections of particular products when problems arise. But since the
safety scandals of last year, the agency has been trying to engage more
¡°risk-based¡± approach that would focus on high-risk products and countries
whose imports have a troublesome track record.
According to The New York Times, the FDA already sends inspectors to dozens
of countries each year to inspect pharmaceutical plants and clinical trial
sites. And in December, the United States and China agreed to a greater
American role in certifying and inspecting Chinese food products, including
an increased presence of American officials at Chinese production plants.
But FDA commissioner Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach said in a briefing with
reporters that he wanted the agency¡¯s presence abroad to be on an ¡°ongoing
and continuous basis rather than episodic and periodic.¡± This would be
a marked expansion of the role the FDA now plays in countries that import
to the US, although the agency has long helped to train foreign food and
drug inspectors and even advise in the writing of legislation to empower
foreign versions of the FDA.
But the ramped up foreign inspection plan is still far from being a reality.
Von Eschenbach said he wasn¡¯t sure where the money for the plan would
come from ? the FDA could ask for additional financing from Congress for
the inspectors or find the money in its existing budge. Although some
in Congress have advocated a bigger budget for the FDA, the Bush Administration
has been less than supportive.
Von Eschenbach also said he would have to work out other details with
the State Department, including how such inspectors would interact with
other parts of the federal government. In addition, FDA inspectors would
not be sent to a country unless their presence was requested.
food hygiene secures four star status
By Christine Briddon
Source of Article: http://www.richmondandtwickenhamtimes.co.uk/display.var.1995750.0.0.php
West Middlesex University Hospital has achieved four out of five stars
for its food safety standards. Under a new pilot scheme supported by the
Food Standards Agency, hospitals are given ratings from zero to five stars,
following impromptu inspections by the environmental health department.
The scheme makes information publicly available on how well food businesses
are complying with food hygiene law.
At West Mid, Ecovert FM provides catering for patients, visitors and staff.
The inspection looked at food hygiene in the hospital's restaurant, cafe
and main kitchen. The "very good" four star rating found "good
safety management and high standard of compliance with food safety legislation"
in all areas.
Ecovert general manager Mike Gennery said: "To achieve this level
when we provide 440,000 meals every year is testament to the hard work
of all our staff."
Ecovert provides 1,000 patient meals every day, plus 200 meals for staff
on food, medical device safety: GAO
By Ruth Mantell, MarketWatch
Last update: 6:53 p.m. EST Jan. 29, 2008
Source of Article: http://www.marketwatch.com/
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- When it comes to the safety of food and medical
devices, the Food and Drug Administration has some work to do, government
investigators reported to lawmakers on Tuesday.
"FDA has opportunities to better leverage its resources," according
to a Government Accountability Office report presented at a hearing of
the House Energy and Commerce Committee's oversight subcommittee. "Efficient
use of resources is particularly important at FDA because we found that
its food safety workload has increased in the past decade, while its food
safety staff and funding have not kept pace."
The GAO recommended that FDA should offer specific information about its
strategies and the resources it needs to implement a food-protection plan.
FDA oversees about 80% of the U.S. food supply, which includes $417 billion
of domestic food and $49 billion of imported food annually, according
"Without a clear description of resources and strategies, it will
be difficult for Congress to assess the likelihood of the plan's success
in achieving its intended results," according to GAO.
In November, the FDA announced food-safety proposals, but didn't include
price tags or the number of new FDA employees that would be needed to
see them through. That plan recommended moves such as giving FDA mandatory
recall authority and additional preventive controls for high-risk foods.
FDA, which critics say is underfunded and understaffed, could be helped
by gaining "adequate authority, a clear purpose and timeframe, leadership
support, an open process, a balanced membership, accountability, and resources,"
according to GAO. In November, an advisory committee to the FDA found
that the agency "suffers from serious scientific deficiencies and
is not positioned to meet current or emerging regulatory responsibilities."
Also Tuesday, the GAO said FDA has not met its statutory requirement to
inspect domestic manufacturers of medical devices classified as high risk,
such as pacemakers, or medium risk, such as hearing aids, every two years.
"FDA officials estimated that the agency has inspected these establishments
every 3 years (for high risk devices) or 5 years (for medium risk devices),"
according to GAO. "There is no comparable requirement to inspect
foreign establishments, and agency officials estimate that these establishments
have been inspected every 6 years (for high risk devices) or 27 years
(for medium risk devices)."
For inspections of foreign medical device establishments, two databases
that FDA uses for information "contain inaccuracies that create disparate
estimates of establishments subject to FDA inspection," according
GAO added that there has been a small number of inspections completed
by accredited third-party organizations - a concern that "raises
questions about the practicality and effectiveness of establishing similar
programs that rely on third parties to quickly help FDA fulfill its responsibilities."
Ruth Mantell is a MarketWatch reporter based in Washington.
detected at Fresno County dairy
(Associated Press, CA)
A herd of cows in Fresno County is sick with bovine tuberculosis, California
agricultural officials said Friday.
The chronic disease doesn't threaten the quality or safety of milk and
meat produced in the state because most milk is pasteurized, and raw milk
is regularly tested for TB. Cattle processed for meat are routinely inspected
for TB, too.
Officials tested for the rare disease after inspectors saw suspicious
lesions on a cow being examined for slaughter, said California Department
of Food and Agriculture spokesman Steve Lyle. Five cows have tested positive
State agricultural authorities are barring the farm from moving cows off
their property indefinitely to prevent further spread of disease, Lyle
The dairy farmer is working with state and federal animal health officials
to eradicate the disease from the herd, the department said.
Bovine TB was last found in California in 2003. 2-01-08
helps family farm thrive
(Centre Daily Times, PA)
By Josh McAuliffe
For years, the Schlittler family drank their milk just as it came from
their cows, with no tinkering whatsoever. Today, they're opening up their
farm to outsiders who want in on the action.
Since the fall of 2006, the Spring Brook Township family has been selling
unpasteurized, unhomogenized, raw milk straight from the udders of the
Holsteins on their 150-acre farm just off Interstate 380.
Currently the only documented producers of raw milk in Northeastern Pennsylvania,
the Schlittlers are tapping into a continually growing anti-pasteurization
subculture. Some raw milk enthusiasts drink it because they believe it's
healthier than processed milk, capable of improving one's immune and digestive
systems. Some can't get enough of the taste, which tends to be sweeter
and creamier than pasteurized. Others see it as a benefit to small farms
and the environment.
With this mind-set comes some risk, as raw milk has the potential to carry
harmful bacteria that pasteurization destroys, including E. coli, listeria
and salmonella. Proponents of raw milk, however, claim pasteurization
also kills beneficial bacteria, proteins and enzymes.
For years, the Food and Drug Administration has banned the interstate
transport of raw milk, and regularly issues warnings to the public on
the dangers of its consumption.
Fifteen states, including New Jersey and Maryland, prohibit the sale of
raw milk. Pennsylvania, however, has taken a much more open-minded approach.
In just the past two years, raw milk permits in the state have gone up
threefold, said Bill Chirdon, director of food safety for the state Department
"We don't think that's a fad," Chirdon said. "We think
it's a long-term trend."
Under state law, farms like the Schlittlers' must submit themselves to
quarterly inspections by the Department of Agriculture, and, on an annual
basis, have their milk tested for four pathogens (salmonella, E.coli 0157H,
listeria and campylobacter) and their cows checked for tuberculosis and
In addition, the Schlittlers pay a laboratory to test their milk for bacteria
twice a month. They're also required to keep a sign posted in their barn
that advises customers on the possible perils of drinking raw milk, stressing
pregnant women, children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems
are the most susceptible.
Although these precautionary measures can significantly minimize the risks,
a 100 percent clean product can never be guaranteed, Chirdon stressed.
"Unfortunately, cows have very poor personal hygiene," he said
with a laugh. "So, you have to be careful."
The Schlittlers' 105-year-old farm is currently being run by the family's
fourth generation. About four years ago, Scot Schlittler, his sister,
Liz Shenko, and her husband, Chuck, took over day-to-day operations from
their parents, Jake and Irene Schlittler.
The three made the decision to sell raw milk from a purely economic standpoint,
having first learned about the concept at seminars offered by the Pennsylvania
Association for Sustainable Agriculture. By taking out the middleman -
i.e., the dairy companies they used to sell their milk to - they could
better sustain themselves through a direct-marketing approach.
Thus far, their business has operated entirely by word-of-mouth. At the
moment, they have about 15 regular customers who pay $5 a gallon. Some
are recent raw milk converts, while others are immigrants from Russia,
Egypt and Central America who grew up drinking it. Some buy as much as
10 to 15 gallons per trip.
"People are so thankful that we're giving them real food," said
Scot Schlittler, who like the Shenkos, works full-time jobs in addition
to his duties on the farm.
Among the regulars is South Scranton artist George Strasburger, who typically
travels to the farm once a week for a fresh gallon. He said environmental
and health concerns played a role in his decision to start drinking raw
"My thinking is, the less processing in any food, the better it is,"
said Strasburger, noting his disdain for big agribusiness.
Does he ever worry about getting sick?
"No, I don't worry about it," Strasburger said. "I know
too many farmers who raise happy, healthy families with raw milk. I have
more trust with them than I do with these factory farms."
There are 26 milking cows on the Schlittlers' farm - pure-bred Holsteins
and Holsteins crossed with other breeds like Jersey and Brown Swiss. All
of them have names - Willow, Doo Drop, Sarah, etc. - and most wear bells
around their necks, a common practice on farms in Switzerland, from where
Jake Schlittler's grandfather, Samuel Schlittler, emigrated in 1903.
Scot Schlittler said the cows aren't pushed too hard, and don't receive
any growth hormones, medications or antibiotics. The family has also begun
the process of converting the cows from a grain-heavy to a grass-based
diet, which is more friendly to a cow's digestive system.
Overall, the Schlittler cows produce 750 pounds of milk per day, with
about 10 pounds going into each gallon container, Chuck Shenko said. Once
taken from the cows, the milk is stored in two stainless steel bulk tanks
- one holding 625 gallons, the other 415 - at 37 or 38 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Schlittlers were drinking raw milk "from the time they were born,"
Irene Schlittler said. Back then, she and her husband were selling their
milk to companies like Dairylea, which would pasteurize the milk and put
it on a supermarket shelf.
For years, the kids watched their parents struggle just to make ends meet.
Often, family dinners were made up entirely of food taken from the garden.
"One of dad's favorite expressions was the 'all potato' dinner,"
Scot Schlittler said.
"They stuck it out through thick and thin. I don't know how they
did it," Chuck Shenko said.
"We got by and everyone was happy," Irene Schlittler said. That
must have been the case, or two of the Schlittlers' five children wouldn't
be making a go of the family business today.
"When you got the farming in the blood, it's hard to leave,"
said Scot Schlittler, who came back to the farm after 20 years away.
He rises everyday around 3:30 a.m., and between the farm and his full-time
job as a manager at Burke's Pharmacy in Green Ridge puts in what usually
amounts to a 14-hour day.
"It's a hard lifestyle in that you're married to it," he said.
"You're really sacrificing a lot of time. Your freedom is essentially
"It's a love-hate relationship," added Liz Shenko, who works
as a medical technician at Mid-Valley Hospital.
The three all have certain specialties on the farm. Chuck Shenko is the
resident Mr. Fix-It, while Scot Schlittler is known as "the cow whisperer"
for his ability to gently coax the cows into production mode.
"Scot has a nice, calm disposition to him, and I think the cows feel
it," said Liz Shenko, who has an uncanny knack for detecting when
a cow is sick. She also does the farm's books. Right now, Scot Schlittler
is the only one taking an income from the farm's operation, pulling in
about $300 a month for his sweat equity.
At some point in the future, he, his sister and his brother-in-law would
love nothing more than to see the farm become a full-time operation that,
in addition to milk, would produce raw milk cheeses and grass-fed meats
"We really want to keep the tradition of the family farm alive,"
Liz Shenko said. 2-03-08
to Make Beef Safer
Source of Article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
Thursday, December 27, 2007; Page A16
Regarding the Dec. 21 Business article "Beef's Wake-Up Recall":
The Agriculture Department must do more than rethink safety rules for
ground beef. The current system is designed to reduce, not eliminate,
E. coli and other hazardous bacteria. We're still eating hamburger contaminated
with deadly germs, and our children are getting sick and dying.
Improved processing has reduced positive samples to 0.2 percent, but that
means that 1 in 500 pounds of raw ground beef contains E. coli. Recalls
are not particularly effective. On Dec. 20, the Agriculture Department
ordered the recall of meat contaminated with drug-resistant salmonella
that had been sold between Sept. 19 and Nov. 5. How much of that remained
More thorough cleaning, additional testing and more frequent inspections
might conceivably cut contamination in half, at considerable cost. But
is 1 in 1,000 -- or even 1 in 5,000 -- an acceptable contamination rate
for our children's food? We need a definitive step to kill any harmful
bacteria that remain after processing. Safe, effective and inexpensive
technology -- irradiation -- is available now. Ground beef from a few
forward-thinking processors already is irradiated, as are most spices
and an increasing number of tropical fruits.
The Agriculture Department and beef processors are dithering while children
are dying. It's time for ground beef to be routinely irradiated.
HARRY F. HULL
St. Paul, Minn.
The writer is a consultant to the Minnesota Beef Council, which favors
Typhimurium Infection Associated With Raw Milk and Cheese
Source of Article: http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/299/4/402
In February 2007, the Pennsylvania
Department of Health received reports, through routine electronic laboratory
disease reporting, of two persons with recent laboratory-confirmed infections
with Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium. Both persons had reported
drinking raw (unpasteurized) milk from the same York County, Pennsylvania,
dairy (dairy A). S. Typhimurium isolates from these persons had pulsed-field
gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns that were indistinguishable by use
of the XbaI restriction enzyme. The same month, the Pennsylvania Department
of Agriculture (PDA) received reports of illness from raw-milk customers
of dairy A. PDA obtained milk samples from the raw-milk bulk tank at dairy
A, which yielded S. Typhimurium with a PFGE pattern that was identical
to the pattern from patient isolates. On February 26, the Pennsylvania
Department of Health and PDA launched an investigation to determine the
source and scope of the outbreak. This report summarizes the findings
of that investigation, which determined that 29 cases of diarrheal illness
caused by S. Typhimurium were associated with consumption of raw milk
or raw-milk products from dairy A. The findings underscore the need to
inform policymakers and the public of the potential health risks associated
with raw-milk consumption.
Epidemiologic and Laboratory
In Pennsylvania, raw-milk sales
are legal at farms that hold a PDA permit, and vendors must display public
notices regarding the potential hazards of consuming raw milk.1 Dairy
A owned 120 cows and sold raw milk for pasteurization and by PDA permit
directly to consumers. In February 2007, PDA estimated that dairy A was
selling 200-300 gallons of raw milk weekly to 275 regular customers.
A case of salmonellosis was
defined as a diarrheal illness with onset since February 1, 2007, in a
Pennsylvania resident who provided a stool specimen that tested positive
for S. Typhimurium with a PFGE pattern that matched the outbreak pattern
by use of the XbaI restriction enzyme. Nationally notifiable disease reports
from Pennsylvania since January 2005 were reviewed for PFGE-matched S.
Typhimurium isolates to identify cases and risk factors. To locate additional
cases, ill household contacts of persons with confirmed cases were asked
to provide food histories and submit stool specimens for testing. Raw
milk for testing was obtained from dairy A milk tanks on five dates (February
20, February 28, March 27, May 14, and July 19) and from households of
two ill persons on two dates (February 28 and July 20). In addition, PDA
conducted multiple dairy A inspections during February-July 2007.
A total of 29 cases were identified,
with illness onset occurring in three temporal clusters during February
3?July 14, 2007. The first cluster consisted of 15 cases with onsets of
illness from February 3 to March 5. Raw-milk samples were collected February
20 from a dairy A bulk milk tank and February 28 from the home of an ill
person. Both sets of samples yielded the outbreak strain of S. Typhimurium.
On March 2, PDA ordered dairy A to stop raw-milk sales and advised the
public not to consume raw-milk products from dairy A.
On March 19, PDA allowed dairy
A to resume sales of raw milk after PDA conducted inspections and recorded
two consecutive negative cultures from milk-tank samples. However, a second
cluster of three cases was detected when the outbreak strain of S. Typhimurium
was identified in another patient, whose diarrheal illness began on March
21 and who had consumed raw milk from dairy A after sales resumed. The
two additional cases were identified in persons with onsets of illness
on March 19 and March 22. The first of these occurred in one of six ill
persons who primarily spoke Spanish and who told investigators they had
not consumed raw milk. However, when reinterviewed in early April, three
of these six persons reported consuming queso fresco (a type of soft cheese)
they bought at a grocery store serving the local Hispanic community. PDA
learned that the queso fresco had been made by an unlicensed producer
who purchased approximately 20 gallons of raw milk weekly from dairy A.
Sale of raw-milk cheeses aged <60 days is illegal in Pennsylvania.
Subsequently, in April, PDA inspectors seized 18 unlabeled retail containers
of queso fresco from the grocery store. The cheese tested positive for
alkaline phosphatase, indicating the cheese was produced from unpasteurized
milk.2 Bacterial cultures were negative for pathogens.
On March 27, PDA again ordered
dairy A to halt raw-milk sales and suspended its raw-milk permit. No additional
cases were noted until June-July 2007, when a third cluster of 11 PFGE-matched
S. Typhimurium cases was detected through routine electronic laboratory
reporting. Of these, 10 occurred among residents of three counties near
dairy A. On July 19, PDA confirmed that dairy A had been distributing
raw milk to the public despite its suspended permit; the date when illegal
milk distribution began could not be determined. The outbreak strain of
S. Typhimurium was isolated from dairy A raw milk collected from a bulk
milk tank on July 19 and from the home of an ill person on July 20. PDA
ordered dairy A to halt distribution of raw milk on July 20 and subsequently
revoked the raw-milk permit for this dairy.
Among the 29 persons identified
with diarrheal illness and PFGE-matched S. Typhimurim, 17 (59%) were male,
and the median age was 6 years (range: 5 months?76 years). Fourteen (48%)
patients reported drinking raw milk from dairy A, four (14%) consumed
unregulated queso fresco (three linked to dairy A raw milk and one from
an unknown source), and two (7%) consumed raw milk but did not identify
the source. Two (7%) other patients were unrelated infants aged 5 months
and 7 months. The parents of these infants acknowledged that raw milk
from dairy A was present in their households but told investigators the
milk was not consumed by the infants. For seven (24%) patients who did
not reside with any of the other patients, no source of exposure to S.
Typhimurium could be determined. Two of the 29 patients were hospitalized;
no deaths were reported.
Eight PDA inspections of dairy
A conducted during January-April 2007 revealed improper cleaning of milking
equipment, insufficient supervision of workers, unspecified illness among
lactating cows, and bird and rodent infestation. On at least two inspections,
the required public notice regarding the potential hazards of drinking
raw milk was not visible at the dairy A retail store.
S. Typhimurium matched by PFGE
to the outbreak pattern was isolated from dairy A raw-milk tank samples
collected on three different dates (February 20, May 14, and July 19);
an S. Typhimurium isolate collected from a milk tank February 28 was unavailable
for PFGE typing. In addition to Salmonella, dairy A raw-milk tank samples
also yielded Listeria monocytogenes (February 28, May 14, and July 19)
and Campylobacter jejuni (February 28 and May 14). Although a stool specimen
from one patient with February 28 illness onset yielded both S. Typhimurium
and C. jejuni, the Campylobacter isolate was unavailable for subtyping.
No Listeria infections were associated with dairy A.
L Lind, MPH, J Reeser, K Stayman, M Deasy, M Moll, MD, A Weltman, MD,
V Urdaneta, MD, S Ostroff, MD, Pennsylvania Dept of Health; W Chirdon,
Pennsylvania Dept of Agriculture. E Campagnolo, DVM, Div of State and
Local Readiness, Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency
Response; T Chen, MD, EIS Officer, CDC.
CDC Editorial Note:
Raw milk is a well-documented source of infections from Salmonella, Escherichia
coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, Listeria, Mycobacterium bovis, and other
pathogens.2-6 In 1938, before widespread adoption of milk pasteurization
in the United States, an estimated 25% of all foodborne and waterborne
outbreaks of disease were associated with milk.7 By 2001, the percentage
of such outbreaks associated with milk was estimated at <1%.7 During
1998-2005, a total of 45 outbreaks of foodborne illness were reported
to CDC in which unpasteurized milk (or cheese suspected to have been made
from unpasteurized milk) was implicated. These outbreaks accounted for
1,007 illnesses, 104 hospitalizations, and two deaths (CDC, unpublished
data, 2007). Because not all cases of foodborne illness are recognized
and reported, the actual number of illnesses associated with unpasteurized
milk likely is greater.
In the investigations described
in this report, the evidence indicating raw milk from dairy A as the source
of this outbreak included the (1) high percentage of ill persons who reported
consuming either raw milk (48%) or queso fresco traced to raw milk (10%)
from dairy A, (2) temporal associations between clusters of illnesses
and starts and stops of distribution of raw milk by dairy A, and (3) repeated
isolation of the outbreak strain of S. Typhimurium from dairy A raw-milk
tanks. The PFGE pattern of the outbreak strain (XbaI JPXX01.0022) is rare,
previously identified only 24 times in isolates from 11 states in 3 years,
in a national PulseNet database of approximately 43,000 S. Typhimurium
Consumers have reported consuming
raw milk for convenience, taste preference, or perceived health benefits.
Although some advocates claim health benefits from raw milk compared with
pasteurized milk, including decreased risks for atherosclerosis, arthritis,
and lactose intolerance, such claims are not supported by scientific evidence.8
Unsubstantiated claims of health benefits of raw milk for infants and
children are particularly concerning for caregivers because infants and
children are dependent on their caregivers to make safe dietary decisions
for them. Sixteen of the 29 ill persons in this outbreak were aged <7
Pathogens that infect humans
are shed in the feces of cows, can be present in or on the udders of cows,
and can contaminate their milk. Standard hygiene practices during milking
can reduce but not eliminate the risk for milk contamination. In a 2001-2002
survey of Pennsylvania dairy farms, pathogenic bacteria, including Salmonella,
were isolated from 13% of samples from raw-milk bulk tanks.9 Pasteurization
decreases the number of pathogenic organisms, prevents transmission of
pathogens, and has been determined to improve the safety of milk more
than other measures, including certification of raw milk.4-5
Farms in Pennsylvania that
hold PDA raw-milk permits undergo twice-monthly milk testing for coliforms
and standard plate counts and monthly testing for growth inhibitors and
somatic cell counts; annual PDA inspection and culture of raw milk for
Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli O157, and L. monocytogenes; and annual
herd skin testing for Mycobacterium bovis and Brucella.1 Despite these
measures, consumers cannot be assured that certified raw milk is free
As of 2004, at least 27 states
permitted some form of raw-milk sales to the public, including sales at
dairies, farmers' markets, or through purchase of "cow shares."
Certain states also allow public sales of raw milk but for pet food only.10
In Pennsylvania, the number of dairies with raw-milk permits increased
from 42 in 2005 to 75 in 2007. During 2006-2007, three clusters of illness
from Campylobacter were associated with consumption of raw milk from three
different Pennsylvania dairies (Pennsylvania Department of Health, unpublished
data, 2007). During the same period, PDA announced raw-milk recalls from
three other dairies after finding L. monocytogenes in milk samples; no
human illness was associated with these findings.
Given the continued interest
in raw-milk production, policymakers, parents, and the public need to
be informed regarding the potential health risks posed by raw-milk consumption.
The only sure way for consumers to prevent raw-milk?associated infection
from Salmonella or other pathogens is to refrain from consuming raw milk.
This report is based, in part, on data contributed by C Sandt, B Perry,
Bur of Laboratories, P Feliciano, Pennsylvania Dept of Health; M Hydock,
R Malik, L Sulpizio, Pennsylvania Dept of Agriculture; T Nguyen, T Ayers,
G Ewald, M Lynch, Div of Foodborne, Bacterial, and Mycotic Diseases, National
Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases; A Patel, A Sheth,
EIS officers, CDC.
1. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Chapter 59: Milk sanitation. Available
2. Gillespie IA, Adak GK, O¡¯Brien SJ, Bolton FJ. Milkborne general outbreaks
of infectious intestinal disease, England and Wales, 1992-2000. Epidemiol
3. Leedom JM. Milk of nonhuman origin and infectious disease in humans.
Clin Infect Dis. 2006;43(5):610-615. FULL TEXT | ISI | PUBMED
4. Currier RW. Raw milk and human gastrointestinal disease: problems resulting
from legalized sale of "certified raw milk." J Public Health
Policy. 1981;2(3):226-234. FULL TEXT | PUBMED
5. Potter ME, Blaser MJ, Sikes RK, Kaufmann AF, Wells JG. Human Campylobacter
infection associated with certified raw milk. Am J Epidemiol. 1983;117(4):475-483.
FREE FULL TEXT
6. CDC. Human tuberculosis caused by Mycobacterium bovis?New York City,
2001-2004. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2005;54(24):605-608. PUBMED
7. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Grade "A" pasteurized
milk ordinance: 2001 revision. US Department of Health and Human Services,
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition;
2002. Available at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~ear/pmo01.html.
8. Leonard C. On the safety of raw milk (with a word about pasteurization).
Presented at the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments, Columbus,
Ohio, May 12-17, 2005. Available at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~ear/milksafe/milksa1.htm.
9. Jayarao BM, Donaldson SC, Straley BA, Sawant AA, Hegde NV, Brown JL.
A survey of foodborne pathogens in bulk tank milk and raw milk consumption
among farm families in Pennsylvania. J Dairy Sci. 2006;89(7):2451-2458.
FREE FULL TEXT
10. Dairy Division of National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.
Raw milk survey: November 2004. Available at http://www.nasda.org/file.aspx?id=11160.
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