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2/13
2008
ISSUE:292

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A Silver Bullet for E. coli?
Posted on February 9, 2008 by E. coli Attorney
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
According to Bioniche and press reports, the USDA has agreed to grant a conditional license to Bioniche for its E. coli O157:H7 Cattle Vaccine.
Is this the ¡°silver bullet¡± to solve the recent uptick in E. coli recalls and human illnesses? I have had the opportunity to meet with Bioniche scientists and executives over the years and am pleased to see a potential weapon against these deadly bacteria. The Bioniche vaccine prevents the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria from attaching to the intestines of vaccinated cattle, thereby reducing their reproduction within the animal, and reducing the amount of bacteria that can be released through cattle manure in the environment.


I am looking forward to the continued study of this promising vaccine. Clearly we need it. I found this great chart on the Ethicurian about the increases in recalls:
In the last 15 years here are a few of the defendants we have sued on behalf of E. coli victims:
AFG, AgVenture Farms, Bauer Meats, BJ's Wholesale Club, Byerly's, Cargill, Carneco, China Buffet, ConAgra, Crossroads Farm Petting Zoo, Cub Foods, Dole, Emmpak, Excel, Finley School District, Fresno Meat Market, Gold Coast Produce, Golden Corral, Habaneros, Interstate Meats, Jack in the Box, Karl Ehmer, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Kids Korner Day Care, King Garden, Lane County Fair, Lunds, Odwalla, Natural Selections, Olive Garden, Organic Pastures, Peninsula Village, Pat & Oscar's, PM Beef Holdings, Robeson School District, Sam's Club, Sizzler, Spokane Produce, Sodexho, Souplantation, Supervalu, Taco Bell, Taco John's, Topps, United Food Group (UFG) and Wendy's
I guess they all could have used a bullet or two?

USDA must act to ensure safety in school lunch program
Source of Article: http://www.freshplaza.com/news_detail.asp?id=15951
United States Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) sent two letters; one to the new Secretary of Agriculture and one to the head of the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), asking for an immediate investigation into the safety of ground beef being used in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Durbin's letters are in response to an investigative video report released by the Humane Society, depicting dozens of incidents of inhumane treatment of sick and weak animals at processing facility that is a leading supplier of ground beef to our nation's schools.
"The treatment of animals in this video is appalling, but more than that, it raises significant concerns about the safety of the food being served to our nation's children," Durbin said. "The apparent slaughter of sick and weak animals not only appears to violate USDA regulations, but could be a danger to our nation's food supply. These "downed" animals are more easily contaminated and may carry diseases dangerous to consumers. USDA should investigate the claims and FSIS should immediately take steps to review the safety of the food being used in school lunch program."
The report and accompanying video which were released by the Humane Society Friday, shows workers at the Hallmark Meat Packing Company, in Chino, California, repeatedly using electric prods on animals unable to stand or walk unassisted and the dragging of weak or sick animals. In addition, some cattle were seen being pushed around the plant with the blades of a fork lift. The use of these practices on sick animals known as "downers" raises questions about the health and welfare of the animals and the safety of meat products processed at this facility.
Hallmark Meat Packing Company is the second largest supplier of ground beef to the nation's school lunch program, operated by the US Department of Agriculture. The lunch program serves more than 30 million meals a day to schoolchildren across the country. Over a million children in Illinois receive school lunches through this program. "To see the extreme cruelties shown in the video challenges comprehension," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. "This must serve as a five-alarm call to action for Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Our government simply must act quickly both to guarantee the most basic level of humane treatment for farm animals and to protect America's food supply."
Durbin has been a leader on the issue of food and school lunch safety for more than a decade. In addition to working towards the creation of a single food safety agency, Durbin introduced the "Safe Schools Food Act," in 2003, which was later included in the school lunch program's reauthorization. Durbin's legislation increased the frequency of inspections; helped schools purchase safe food; and gave parents access to inspection reports.

Over 15,000 Food Allergy Families Now Know What¡¯s to Eat
Source of Article: http://www.godairyfree.org/
Lake Forest, California ¡ª When Linda Coss first self-published What¡¯s to Eat? The Milk-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook seven years ago, she only ordered 150 copies. Not sure if anyone outside her circle of friends and family would be interested, she didn¡¯t want to be stuck with a garage full of unwanted books. As it turns out, Ms. Coss seriously underestimated demand. This week the 15,000th copy of the food allergy cookbook was sold. As an increasing number of children have been diagnosed with severe food allergy, What¡¯s to Eat? has become a classic in the world of food allergy cooking.
For those with very severe food allergies, eating only a tiny amount of a common food can be deadly. As there currently is no cure, strict avoidance of the offending foods is an absolute necessity.
¡°One of the biggest challenges faced by those who must eliminate multiple allergens from their diet is figuring out what to eat,¡± explains Ms. Coss. ¡°What people love about the What¡¯s to Eat? Food Allergy Cookbook is that the recipes look and taste ¡®normal¡¯ and delicious, are easy to make, and are all completely free of dairy, egg, and nut ingredients. I am absolutely thrilled that this book has helped over 15,000 families enjoy wonderful meals and not feel limited by their limited diet.¡±
What¡¯s to Eat? is a comprehensive cookbook, with over 145 recipes for everything from soups and salads to main courses, side dishes, breakfast foods, and baked goods. In addition to What¡¯s to Eat?, Linda Coss has also self-published How To Manage Your Child¡¯s Life-Threatening Food Allergies: Practical Tips For Everyday Life. Both books are available at FoodAllergyBooks.com, Amazon.com, and other retailers nationwide.

Danes Focus on Camplobacter Prevention

Source of Article: http://www.thepoultrysite.com/
DENMARK - Campylobacter is the most common bacterial cause of human gastrointestinal disease in Denmark. It is estimated that imported chilled broiler meat contributed to approximately 80% of the human campylobacteriosis cases related to consumption of chicken meat in Denmark in 2006. Importers must, therefore, become better at demanding a reduction in the levels of campylobacter bacteria in imported chicken meat.
This is one of the initiative areas in the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries¡¯ new five-year action plan for fighting campylobacter bacteria.

¡±Danish chicken farmers have become extremely good at controlling campylobacter in their production. However, the number of Danes getting ill is still alarmingly high. Therefore, it is necessary that we sharpen the requirements we place on importers of chicken meat. Consumers have a right to safe food products ? from Denmark or from abroad. Therefore, I will now work towards reaching an agreement with importers and retailers for them to place higher demands on the meat they sell,¡± says Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Eva Kjer Hansen.

The Minister has already begun work on the problem concerning imports through the launch of intensified monitoring of both Danish and imported meat ? the so-called¡±case-by-case¡± control. In 2008 the numbers of tests of imported chicken meat are to be additionally increased.
Since 2003 Denmark has had a voluntary strategy for fighting campylobacter. The results of this strategy have been positive. There is now less campylobacter in the Danish chicken we consume today. There has also been an approximately 30 per cent reduction in the number of people falling ill from 2001 to 2006, but there was an increase in this number last year.
¡±With the new efforts aimed at fighting campylobacter, we have established some specific initiative areas so that we can reduce the number of people getting sick,¡± says Eva Kjer Hansen.
The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, in cooperation with the industry and experts at the Technical University of Denmark, have assisted the Ministry in drafting a new Danish action plan for fighting campylobacter. The plan is now being discussed among the political parties¡¯ spokesmen.
The plan stretches over five years and establishes a number of areas in which efforts must be made to reduce the incidence of campylobacter even more. Apart from increasing initiatives on the import side, the plan includes, among other things, insect screens in broiler houses, better methods of allocating meat from Campylobacter positive flocks to the production of frozen products, as well as the use of steam and ultra-sound in order to reduce the bacteria incidence.

Food Safety and Quality Related Job Openings
Quality Assurance Sr. Manager - Dollar General ? Goodlettsville, TN
Quality Assurance Manager - Lakeside Foods, Inc.- Poynette/ Reedsburg; Belgium WI
QUALITY & ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCE ? Kellogg Company ? Omaha, NE
QUALITY ASSURANCE TECHNICIAN ? Kellogg Company ? Allyn, WA
Sales Specialist l - Bio-Rad Laboratories ? New York or Atlanta, GA
QUALITY CONTROL TECHNICIAN - Premio Foods, Inc. - North & Central NJ
QUALITY ASSURANCE MANAGER - Premio Foods, Inc.- Hawthorne, NJ
Instrumentation Chemistry Manager - Northland Laboratories ? Northbrook IL

Food Safety and Quality Related Job Openings

Import alarm still sounding on food safety
HealthDay February 11, 2008
Source of Article: http://www.bucyrustelegraphforum.com/
One Sunday after church, Rich Miller headed to a local Chi-Chi's restaurant in Beaver, Pa., where he dipped into the house salsa that came with the meal.
That simple act in 2003 changed his life forever. What Miller didn't know was that imported Mexican green onions in the salsa carried a deadly passenger: hepatitis A.
A few days later, as Miller recalled recently, "I couldn't even get out of bed. It was like the worst case of flu that you could ever imagine."
His health quickly deteriorating, the 57-year-old railroad superintendent was diagnosed with rare fulminant hepatitis A disease -- in which the virus destroys the liver -- and was rushed to a Pittsburgh hospital for a liver transplant.
Placed in a medically induced coma for a month, Miller eventually returned home, frail and unable to return to work. To this day, he said, he has mobility problems and neurological difficulties.
Still, Miller considers himself lucky: Four others who ate the salsa and developed fulminant liver illness died. Overall, more than 600 people around Pittsburgh were sickened during what became the largest hepatitis A outbreak in U.S. history.
The story is just one of many over the past few years that have swung the spotlight on the dangers of imported foods, which now comprise 13 percent of the American diet, ccording
to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Imported disasters
Perhaps the most high-profile examples of these potential dangers come from last year's tainted pet food scandal and the halting of questionable food products from China.
The pet food disaster, which slowly evolved into the largest recall of pet food in U.S. history, involved exported wheat gluten from China that contained the toxic chemical melamine and was used as an additive in food sold under more than 100 brand names. Hundreds of dogs and cats died; an official tally was never issued.
In addition, U.S. health officials disclosed that up to 3 million broiler chickens had been fed the contaminated surplus pet food and then had been sold to restaurants and supermarkets across the country.
That was followed by a recall of almost a million tubes of toothpaste from China that were contaminated with a chemical used in antifreeze. The toothpaste had been distributed to institutions for the mentally ill, hospitals and prisons in the South.
And, shortly after that, U.S. health officials halted the importation of farmed fish from China because of chemical contamination in the fish feed.
But China is not alone in triggering American foodborne woes.
Last year also, a salmonella outbreak caused Dole Fresh Fruit Co. to recall roughly 6,104 cartons of imported cantaloupes from Costa Rica that were distributed to wholesalers in the eastern United States and Quebec. There were no reports of illness.
But in 2006, an outbreak of nonfatal scombroid fish poisoning linked to tuna steaks imported from Vietnam and Indonesia sickened 15 people in Louisiana and Tennessee. And a 2001 outbreak of salmonella in Mexican cantaloupes killed two people and sickened 25 others across 15 states.
In November, officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reacted to the newest outbreaks with a sweeping set of proposals dubbed the Food Protection Plan. It calls for legislation that would give the agency broader powers (including mandatory food recall), heftier financing, and improved cooperation with producers, importers and foreign governments to stop tainted food at the source. The plan remains just that, however, pending Congressional action.
Still, "I think it's clearly a step forward," said Bill Hubbard, who spent 14 years as associate commissioner of the FDA before retiring in 2005. Hubbard, who is now an adviser for the Washington, D.C.-based consumer advocacy group Coalition for a Stronger FDA, said, "The plan is clearly an attempt to change the paradigm from 'inspect only at the border' to putting more of the responsibility elsewhere," especially at the source of production abroad. "Put in place procedures where you say to the importer you need to be checking on your supplier, then the exporter in China is supposed to be looking at his supplier and then all the way back to the producer," Hubbard explained. "Everybody is checking on everybody and keeping records. And, in theory, that can work. But the FDA will need new statutory authority to oversee something like that, and resources."
The full scope of the problem remains unclear, however.
More contaminants in imported foods
One thing is clear: You're more likely to encounter contaminants in foods from abroad than those grown in the United States.
According to a FDA report released in 2003, pesticide violations were cited in 6.1 percent of imported foods sampled versus 2.4 percent of domestic products. And a report issued by the agency a few years earlier found traces of salmonella or the dysentery-linked bacteria shigella in 4 percent of imported fruits and vegetables versus 1.1 percent of domestic produce.
And there's more imported food in the nation's supermarkets than ever before. According to the CDC, food imports to the United States have almost doubled in the past decade, from $36 billion in 1997 to more than $70 billion in 2007.
The farm in Ojos Negros, Mexico, that was the source of the 2003 green onion contamination had never been inspected by U.S. authorities before the incident. And the FDA inspection that took place soon after the outbreak makes for chilling reading.
In their report, filed in December 2003, agency inspectors said they observed dirty runoff from the farm workers' windowless, mud-floored shacks and crude showers seeping directly onto fields where produce was grown. Photos of the site "show evidence of soiled diapers, soiled feminine hygiene products, and domestic waste" lying nearby, according to the report.
The growing fields were irrigated with water from a pond that was also a dumping ground for human sewage and animal manure. During processing, green onions typically passed through the hands of at least six workers, the FDA team said, and there was no evidence that workers were allowed time off for illness. While the firm purported to wash all onions in chlorinated water, it could produce no evidence to back that claim.

USDA Extends Meat Ban at Westland Meat
Posted on February 10, 2008 by Food Poisoning Lawyer
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
USDA officials extended a ban on use of meat from a Chino slaughterhouse shut down last week for mistreating cattle. It also said the Westland plant had been cited in 2005 for using electric prods on animals. This was the same year that Westland Meat Company was awarded ¡°The Supplier of the Year for 2004-2005 for the National School Lunch Program.¡±
Shocking?
According to AP reports, USDA officials insisted Friday that investigations have found no evidence that meat from disabled animals has entered the food supply despite video to the contrary. Humane Society President and Chief Executive Wayne Pacelle disputed that claim by USDA.
"There's no ambiguity in our mind that this plant was accepting downers, abusing downers and slaughtering downers."
Why is this all important? Federal regulations call for keeping downer cows out of the food supply because they pose a higher risk of E. coli, salmonella contamination, or mad cow disease since they typically wallow in feces and their immune systems are often weak. Yummy!

Botulism Seems to be a Weekly Occurence
Posted on February 9, 2008 by Botulism Lawyer

Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/

Health officials again announced that last month's recall of canned beans in 6 to 7 pound institutional-sized cans over botulism concerns has been expanded to include a variety of other vegetables in similar-sized cans. The expanded recall includes asparagus, peas and other vegetables canned by the Michigan-based New Era Canning Company. The vegetables are sold under a variety of brand names, including Classic Sysco, Code, Frosty Acres Restaurant's Pride Preferred, GFS, Kitchen Essentials, Monarch Heritage, Necco, New Era, Nugget and Reliance Sysco. A full list of the recalled products with names and lot codes can be found at the FDA website.

Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Clostridium botulinum is the name of a group of bacteria commonly found in soil. It is an anaerobic, gram-positive, spore-forming rod that produces a potent neurotoxin. These rod-shaped organisms grow best in low oxygen conditions. The bacteria form spores, which allow them to survive in a dormant state until exposed to conditions that can support their growth. The organism and its spores are widely distributed in nature. They occur in both cultivated and forest soils, bottom sediments of streams, lakes, and coastal waters, and in the intestinal tracts of fish and mammals, and in the gills and viscera of crabs and other shellfish.

New Food Safety Manager Will Lead LRQA Assurance Services in the Americas
Source of Article: http://www.businesswire.com/
HOUSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance, Inc. (LRQA), a market leader in the provision of Business Assurance services, announces the appointment of Vel Pillay, as Americas Food Safety Manager. Over half of the world's top consumer food companies currently choose LRQA for certification, and Pillay¡¯s appointment will support LRQA¡¯s dedication to food safety and help further refine its food-sector expertise and services.
Pillay, who holds extensive food-sector experience in Food Safety Management Systems, will have full responsibility for managing the food group across the Americas region. He joins LRQA¡¯s existing global food-product manager, food-sector-specialist team, and over 400 global food-safety assessors who help food and beverage clients ensure consumer safety and reduce risk through rigorous evaluation and certification of their management systems and processes.
¡°The food sector and its consumer base are increasingly affected by food-safety concerns and incidents, and working to ensure that the expertise of our assessors and specialist teams complement the specific demands of the industry is our utmost priority,¡± comments Andrew Smith, Senior Vice President, Lloyd's Register Americas Management Systems. ¡°Under Vel¡¯s leadership, we are confident the increased skills and capabilities of our team will strengthen LRQA¡¯s ability to support clients across the entire food-supply chain.¡±
LRQA¡¯s team of experts has worked extensively across the food sector for over 20 years, assisting with the development, formalization, and improvement of standards and specifications, including the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) and the ISO 22000 international food-safety standard. LRQA is an active member of the ISO 22000 Technical Committee, the European Accreditation Board¡¯s Food Committee, and the Global Food Safety Initiative¡¯s Technical Board.
Additional information on LRQA¡¯s work within the food sector and the services it provides is available at www.lrqausa.com/food-beverage.htm and www.businessassurance.com/food.

NOTES
1. LRQA, a member of the Lloyd's Register Group, works across global supply chains providing verification, certification and training services to a range of business sectors worldwide, including food and beverage manufacturing, distribution and retail companies. LRQA has issued thousands of global approvals in areas including environmental, quality, food safety, supply chain assurance, health and safety, and security.
2. Lloyd¡¯s Register is an independent risk management organization. The Lloyd¡¯s Register Group works to help improve its clients¡¯ quality, safety, environmental and business performance throughout the world, because life matters.

Food Safety Information Society: Is It Safe to Reuse Plastic Food Containers?
Source of Article: http://www.marketwire.com/mw/release.do?id=819696
CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Feb. 11, 2008) - Food Safety Information Society: Have you ever been tempted to microwave soup in a margarine container or wondered if the triangular code on the bottom of a plastic food container has anything to do with the safety of the plastic? Just how safe is it to reuse all those handy oven trays, containers and plastic bags in which food is packaged?
"Most food containers are produced to the exact specifications of the food manufacturer and may be designed to be used only once," says Pat Inglis, Food Safety Information Officer for the Food Safety Information Society (FSIS). "The container may look sturdy enough to reuse but plastics may break down when used in unintended ways. If the food requires heating or cooking in the oven or microwave, follow the directions on the label and then transfer leftovers to a food storage container and throw out the single use container."
Margarine, ice cream or yogurt containers may be used to store cooled or dried foods. They should not be used for hot food or for reheating food in the microwave or oven because they may melt. Avoid visibly damaged, stained or unpleasant smelling plastic containers.
Styrofoam containers make a good package for take-out food, but they will melt rapidly when exposed to heat or may give off noxious fumes if used in the microwave. It may also be unsafe to reuse plastic bags for heating food. The bags may not only become soft, but they may be made with dyes, printers ink or glues that may leach chemicals when heated in the oven or microwave.
Food should never be stored or heated in containers not intended for food such as garbage bags.
"Some consumers ask if the triangular codes on the bottom of many plastic containers designate safety for their reuse," Inglis says. "This is a voluntary code system developed by the Plastic Bottle Institute to help plastic recyclers sort containers by resin type."
We acknowledge the financial support of Agriculture and AgriFood Canada and Alberta Agriculture and Food under the Agricultural Policy Framework, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

USDA names new deputy under secretary for food safety
By Ann Bagel Storck on 2/12/2008 for Meatingplace.com

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer announced the appointment of H. Scott Hurd as deputy under secretary for food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The position had been open since Kurt Mann left last year. Hurd comes to the Food Safety and Inspection Service from Iowa State University, where he has served as an epidemiologist in the College of Veterinary Medicine for the past three years. At Iowa State, Hurd led research of epidemiology and food risks affecting human health. He specializes in salmonella, campylobacter and antibiotic resistance risk assessments. Prior to becoming an associate professor at Iowa State, Hurd served in USDA's Agricultural Research Service and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service from 1989 to 2004.

Commission develops code of conduct on nanotechnology
By Guy Montague-Jones Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/
12-Feb-2008 - The European Commission has released a voluntary code of conduct for nanotechnology that places the burden of responsibility for consumer safety on industry. Nanotechnology is already making a big impact on the food industry, particularly in flavour delivery and packaging, but concerns about the impact of the technology on human health are widespread in the scientific community. Scientists are concerned that inadequate research has been conducted on the health effects of nanotechnology and that knowledge gaps need to be filled.

Protecting human health
The new voluntary code was conceived as an attempt to prevent these gaps from endangering the health of consumers by requiring researchers to proceed in accordance with the precautionary principle. Under the code, not only will the burden of proof fall on researchers in relation to safety but they will also be accountable for the impact of their work. "The code of conduct is a tool developed by the Commission that will make it very simple to address the legitimate concerns that can arise regarding nanotechnologies," said EU science and research commissioner Janez Potocnik. Those who choose to adopt the code will have to abide by seven general principles that are summarised below:
Precaution: Researchers should conduct their activities according to the precautionary principle, anticipating the possible negative results of their work and taking due precautions.

Meaning: Research should be comprehensible to the public, respect fundamental rights and be carried out in the interest of the well-being of individuals and society.

Sustainability: Nanotechnology research should be safe, ethical and contribute to sustainable development.

Accountability: Accountability for the social, environmental and health effects of nanotech research should lie with those conducting it.

Inclusiveness: Participation by all stakeholders should be allowed in research and the right to access to information should be provided.

Excellence: Research should meet the best scientific standards.

Innovation: Governance of research activities should encourage maximum creativity, flexibility and planning ability for innovation and growth.

Nanotech potential
The code of conduct is also designed to ensure the potential of the science is exploited with emphasis in the principles being placed on innovation and excellence as well as safety. "Nanotechnologies could very well be the next revolution in enabling technologies and Europe has a good track record in their development," added Potocnik. Manufacturers in the food and cosmetics industries are already using nanotechnology and the number of products developed using the new science is increasing fast. The Lux Research group estimate that the market potential of nanotechnology products could be worth up to ¢æ1.9 trillion by 2014. Nanotechnology is the science of manipulating the properties of tiny particles, measuring one billionth of a metre and has a broad range of applications from computer chips to food and personal care. A human hair is 80,000 nanometres (nm) wide, a red blood cell 7,000 nm wide, and a water molecule 0.3 nm wide.

FSA board discusses food safety
By Linda Rano

Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/
13-Feb-2008 - Today's meeting of the UK Food Standards Agency's Board will include a progress report on food safety, highlighting achievements but also flagging areas of concern like rising rates of foodbourne illness.
One of the items on the table relates to foodbourne pathogens. The latest figures on campylobacter, Salmonella, E.coli 0157, Listeria monocytogenes and Clostridium perfringens) indicate a small increase of 1.7 per cent compared with 2005 - but this is the first increase since 2000, and there are fears that it could underlie a new spate of foodbourne illnesses.

Listeriosis
Of particular concern is listeriosis, of which incidence is seen to have doubled since 2000. The cause of this increase has yet to be determined but it is being investigated through research into the epidemiology of the disease and surveys for the presence of listeria in foods thought to be linked with the disease such as retail cold sliced meats and pates.
Similar increases in the incidence of Listeriosis have also occurred in other EU member states.

Campylobacter and Salmonella
There are concerns that the agency interventions in partnership with industry may not deliver the strategic plan targets of 50 per cent reductions in Campylobacter in poultry and Salmonella in pigs. A separate paper will be presented to the Board meeting concerning Campylobacter in chickens. It notes that although there has been a reduction in contamination levels in chicken at retail there is currently a high prevalence in flocks.
The agency is presently gathering evidence for new interventions to try and accelerate the rate of reduction and will consider with stakeholders the likelihood of their succeeding.
The rate of Salmonella in pigs appears to be due in part to the current scheme not targeting a big enough percentage of problem herds. The agency is therefore refocusing its efforts in partnership with DEFRA and the pig industry.
Specific measures are planned such as all assured herds being required to have a Salmonella action plan.

Slaughterhouse hygiene
Development of a new tool to measure slaughterhouse hygiene, originally aimed at providing a tool for slaughterhouse operators to identify what they could do better to reduce contamination by human pathogens, has taken longer than expected.
The agency now says it hopes to develop a new way of measuring slaughterhouse hygiene by the end of 2009 which will help operators identify effective controls and inform the negotiation of more risk-based EU meat hygiene Regulations.

BSE/TSE
BSE has continued to decline and is now at a very low level in those cattle that are eligible for human consumption. The Agency will continue to contribute to the review of transmissible spongiform encephalopaties (TSE) controls taking place in Europe with the aim of maintaining effective public health protection at a level that is proportionate to the risks. The agency continues to promote and aid the development of a sensitive and cost effective TSE test that can be used on live animals.

Incident handling
Compared with 2006 there is a marked decrease in the number of environmental contamination and veterinary medicine incidents, but an increase in those incidents involving natural chemical contaminants.
There has also been an increase in the number of incidents classified as 'high', largely due to issues around traceability of products. The agency has been working with the food industry and other stakeholders to develop an incident prevention plan.

Food allergies
Some of the major work being funded or part-funded under the Allergy Action Plan includes an investigation into the possibility of developing practical management thresholds for use by industry when making decisions about voluntary labelling (such as 'May contain' or 'Free From'); and by regulators when deciding appropriate actions to be taken when dealing with possible allergen cross contamination incidents.

Marine biotoxins
The agency has an extensive programme of work in place to replace the use of animal testing in the statutory monitoring programme for the detection of marine biotoxins in shellfish. In the last year it has funded a programme to develop and evaluate a high performance liquid chromatography method. There are a number of future challenges related to the statutory requirement to monitor marine biotoxins and microbial contaminants in shellfish. Industry contributions to the cost of the programmes might be considered.

How Noroviruses Cause Repeated Outbreaks Of 'Stomach Flu' Source of Article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/
ScienceDaily (Feb. 13, 2008) ? Norovirus, a common cause of gastroenteritis ("stomach flu"), could potentially be controlled by a vaccine. But because the virus evolves to avoid the immune system, the vaccine might have to be modified from year to year, according to new research published in PLoS Medicine by Ralph Baric of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and colleagues.
Noroviruses, which are highly contagious, cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. While most people recover within a few days, the very young and old may experience severe disease. Although maintaining hydration is essential, there is no specific treatment for infection. As with influenza, epidemics of norovirus infection occur periodically (often in closed communities such as cruise ships), and most people have several norovirus infections during their lifetime. This winter the UK has seen almost twice as many norovirus cases compared to the same period last year.
Noroviruses infect cells after attaching to molecules called histo-blood group antigens (HBGA) present on the cell surface. HBGAs comprise a family of complex sugar molecules that exist in great variety among human beings. The researchers found that this variety provides the key to understanding how norovirus outbreaks continue to occur, even in populations that have previously been exposed to noroviruses and therefore harbor antibodies against them.
By analyzing noroviruses isolated from several outbreaks, the researchers found that the viruses evolved to avoid attack by antibodies the hosts developed against them. Over time, some viruses selected in this way attain a shape that enables them to bind to one of the other forms of HBGA, and thereafter are not only resistant to previously existing antibodies, but are also able to infect cells carrying that particular form of HBGA. These viruses can then cause a new outbreak, and the cycle repeats itself.
This continuing evolution of new replacement strains suggests that vaccines could be designed to protect against norovirus infection, but that, as with influenza vaccines, ongoing epidemiologic surveillance and reformulations of norovirus vaccines will be needed.
In a related perspective article, Ben Lopman and colleagues at the UK Health Protection Agency, who were not involved in the study, discuss the evolution of noroviruses and the implications of this research for the control of future outbreaks.
Citation: Lindesmith LC, Donaldson EF, LoBue AD, Cannon JL, Zheng DP, et al. (2008) Mechanisms of GII.4 norovirus persistence in human populations. PLoS Med 5(2): e31. http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0050031
Adapted from materials provided by PLoS Medicine, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Salmonella Outbreak Sickens 33 Leading to Recall of Ahi in Hawaii
Posted on February 8, 2008 by Salmonella Lawyer
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported again on the ongoing story last week of about 33 illness of Salmonella Paratyphi B tied to the consumption of yellow fin Tuna Ahi. Now Choyce Products announced that it has voluntarily recalled 11,000 pounds of previously frozen yellow fin tuna that tested positive for salmonella. About 5,000 pounds of the contaminated Ahi was sold to some five businesses, but it is not clear how much was recovered or if any had already been sold to consumers.
The Health Department believes the illnesses are related to previously frozen ahi, which was imported to Hawaii and eaten raw.
Salmonella Paratyphi B is host-specialized, for it grows well and causes disease only in humans, whereas most strains of Salmonella can grow in the gut of almost all animals, both domesticated and wild. Humans usually acquire Salmonella Paratyphi B by the ingestion of water or of food that has been contaminated through fecal contact with humans. Most isolates of Salmonella belong to the species S. enterica, which is further subdivided into many serovars based on antigens on their surface; one of these serovars is Paratyphi B. Paratyphi B is quite diverse and human infection is sometimes not associated with human to human system infection but rather associated with foodborne infection (Prager et al, 2003).
Hawaii would be a good trip to take this time of year.

BAX¢ç System Real-Time PCR Assay Certified by AOAC-RIWEBWIRE ? Thursday, February 07, 2008 Source of Article: http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=58615
A BAX¢ç system assay from DuPont Qualicon that uses real-time PCR to detect Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) has been certified as Performance Testedsm Method No. 120701 by the AOAC Research Institute in Gaithersburg, Md.
The AOAC Research Institute is a non-profit international, scientific organization that provides an independent third-party review of test kit performance claims. Food processors who require an AOAC-approved testing method now can use the BAX¢ç system assay for quick and reliable detection of S. aureus, a foodborne species that has been implicated in human illness. As validated on powdered infant formula, the assay¡¯s sensitivity can detect one viable cell in a gram of product. For quality testing in ground beef and soy protein isolates, threshold values also can be determined by modifying the sample preparation protocol. Results are comparable to traditional culture methods but available next-day, with less than 90 minutes processing time.
"Because even small amounts of toxin from S. aureus can cause food poisoning, processors count on the BAX¢ç system for accurate, reliable detection" said Kevin Huttman, president, DuPont Qualicon. "This approval from AOAC adds value to the BAX¢ç system line of certified products, all designed to help food companies protect their products and their brands"
Food businesses around the world rely on the BAX¢ç system to detect pathogens or other organisms in raw ingredients, finished products and environmental samples. With certifications and regulatory approvals in the Americas, Asia and Europe, the BAX¢ç system is recognized globally as the most advanced pathogen testing system available to food companies.

Identify staphylococcus species in only four hours
14 February 2008
Source of Article: http://www.laboratorytalk.com/news/oxo/oxo360.html
Oxoid announces the launch of Remel Rapid Staph Plus (product code: 8311009) for the biochemical identification of Staphylococcus species and related organisms isolated from human clinical specimens
This rapid and convenient manual identification system offers clinical laboratories of any size a valuable new diagnostic tool for an important group of opportunistic pathogens, with results in only four hours. The Rapid Staph Plus panel incorporates a series of 18 carefully selected biochemical tests directed towards this group of organisms. This article was originally published on Laboratorytalk on 14 February 2008 at 8.00am (UK)
The novel, one-step, inoculation method allows all of the test wells to be inoculated simultaneously, saving time and simplifying the procedure.
The panel is then incubated aerobically for just four hours.
The clearly visible colour reactions are easy to read and are used to identify the test organism. Each of the tests in the panel is interpreted using the Rapid Staph Plus colour guide which aids in the generation of a numerical microcode. The microcode is entered into the Windows-based Eric (Electronic rapid compendium) software for organism identification.

Further reading
You can bet the kitchen took extra care
When the banquet is in honour of the winners of Oxoid's food safety awards, you'd be confident that the food would be the freshest, cleanest, and safest available

Infection control awards 2007/2008 open for entry
Entries for this international awards scheme are welcome from infection control teams in all countries around the world - closing date for entries is 31 January 2008

QC micro-organisms win ATCC stamp of approval
Culti-Loops and Quanti-Cult will bear the ATCC licensed derivative emblem, thus assuring customers that the viability, purity and identification of the micro-organisms have been tested and confirmed
This user-friendly package contains a comprehensive database of 40 medically important staphylococcus species and related organisms, and ranks identifications by probability (greater than 95% probability is required for species level identification), ensuring excellent accuracy and reliability.

Rapid Staph Plus can be used to identify Staphylococcus aureus and over 30 species of coagulase negative staphylococci (CNS) in addition to other related organisms.

CNS are an increasingly important cause of hospital acquired infections.

They are the most common causal agents of bacteraemia in patients with indwelling medical devices and are one of the most prevalent causes of blood stream infections in paediatric patients.

With up to 80% of hospital-acquired CNS infections being methicillin resistant, and many species being multiple-resistant to antimicrobials, a rapid and accurate identification is important to help direct appropriate antibiotic therapy.

Julie Elston, clinical products application manager at Oxoid, comments: 'The serious nature of bacteraemia means that there is little time to spare in determining the best course of action.

'Long delays simply aren't acceptable and, as a result, the empiric use of agents such as vancomycin is common.

'Rapid Staph Plus gives rapid, same-day results, allowing appropriate therapy to be determined more quickly and providing an opportunity for the use of vancomycin to be restricted to only when it is absolutely necessary'.

The Rapid range includes products for the identification of oxidase negative Enterobacteriaceae, anaerobic bacteria, Gram-negative glucose non-fermenters, corynebacterium species, neisseria and haemophilus common in urinary infections, yeasts and related organisms and streptococci and related organisms.

The Rapid method is favoured for providing rapid, same-day results (compared to alternative methods that require 18-72 hours) and for being non-automated, allowing even smaller routine microbiology laboratories to adopt this method easily. Request a free brochure from Oxoid

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