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Journal of Food Safety
- QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS HALLMARK/WESTLAND MEAT PACKING CO. (from USDA)
care suggested for food-poisoning victims The Associated Press
Source of Article: http://www.timesleader.com
WASHINGTON Doctors have little way to predict which food poisoning survivors
will suffer long-term consequences. But survivors of the worst-case E.
coli infections have a high enough risk for later kidney-caused problems
that the University of Utah recommends a yearly exam for them in hopes
of catching brewing illness early.
The warning is for people who suffered a life-threatening E. coli complication
known as hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS something that most commonly
strikes children ages 2 to 7.
As they age, Utah¡¯s Dr. Andrew Pavia says these people need an annual:
Blood pressure check. That¡¯s not routine for children and young adults,
but subtle kidney scarring from the HUS could cause high blood pressure
early in life.
A urine exam to check for protein, an early sign of kidney damage.
A blood test to measure kidney function.
There is no proven way to ward off these problems. But Pavia points to
early-stage research out of France that suggests if these survivors start
showing early signs of trouble, such as protein in the urine, giving them
certain blood-pressure medications can offer some protection. They seem
to slow kidney deterioration.
It needs more study, but in the meantime, ¡°It can¡¯t hurt to lower blood
pressure a little bit and hopefully get the protective benefit,¡± he says.
near Clay Center developing E. coli tests
Source of Article: http://www.kptm.com/
Associated Press - March 1, 2008 1:15 PM ET
CLAY CENTER, Neb. (AP) - Scientists at a government research lab near
Clay Center are helping DuPont develop new ways to detect E. coli. Last
year, more than 30 million pounds of ground beef was recalled because
of possible E. coli contamination. Some E. coli strains can cause severe
illness in humans. Symptoms of E. coli infection include stomach cramps
and diarrhea that may turn bloody. DuPont Qualicon president Kevin Huttman
says working with the USDA lab should help develop the tests more quickly.
The research center's director Mohammad Koohmaraie (KOO-mar-eee) says
the scientists at the Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center
work to resolve high priority problems for the beef, swine and sheep industries.
The research is hoped to help the meat processing industry better control
Food Safety and Quality Related Job Openings
Assurance Sr. Manager - Dollar General . Goodlettsville, TN
Quality Assurance Manager - Lakeside Foods, Inc.- Poynette/ Reedsburg;
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
QUALITY ASSURANCE MANAGER - Premio Foods, Inc.- Hawthorne, NJ
Instrumentation Chemistry Manager - Northland Laboratories . Northbrook
and Quality Related Job Openings
says downer cattle need inspection
A label from one of the boxes of recalled beef dumped at the Asotin County
Source of Article: http://www.klewtv.com/news/health/16238352.html
PULLMAN - Much of the more than 143 millions pounds of recently recalled
beef is now incinerated or in a landfill somewhere. The month-long scare,
however, still has some thinking about the long-term effects of potentially
The recent concern stemmed from video released by the Humane Society,
showing sick and crippled cattle at the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing
Company in California being mistreated and forced into the slaughterhouse.
WSU Associate Professor of Epidemiology John Gay says people need to recognize
the rarity of mad cow disease, and the big difference between mad cow,
and downer cattle beef.
"The likely reason that these cows went down is probably more related
to accidental reasons than infectious disease causes, because they had
to go through the sales process,¡± said Gay. ¡°They've gone, usually to
a sales yard; they've been bought, purchased there, and transported to
the slaughter plant."
Gay said Tuesday a disease like mad cow is very slow to develop, and even
if you had contracted it in the last year, you likely wouldn't feel its
effects for a long time. He said if a cow has a broken leg on the other
hand, there would be no immediate health risks associated with the meat
from that animal, but after a long enough time, problems can arise. "You
can start getting changes in the cow's metabolism, it can make the meat
unfit. It won't be a pleasant experience," Gay said. As for the recalled
meat, Gay said they can't be sure whether there was contamination of some
sort, but it's always best to err on the side of caution. "If an
animal's down, I want to know why it's down. If it has fractured its leg
or something and it's just immediate, I wouldn't have a problem consuming
it. If it's been a longer period of time, I'd want to know why it's down,
and I'd want the inspector to inspect it to see that it's fit for human
may be the key to low acrylamide bakery
By Stephen Daniells Source of Article: http://www.foodnavigator.com/
05-Mar-2008 - Manufacturers of bakery products looking to reduce levels
of acrylamide can tap into a range of solutions, but polyphenols may be
the most promising, suggests a new review.
"The most promising field for acrylamide reduction is the addition
of low molecular additives such as polyphenols, which have not so far
been applied in cereal products," wrote Achim Claus, Reinhold Carle
and Andreas Schieber in this month's issue of the Journal of Cereal Science.
"Such additives ideally combine acrylamide reduction with little
or no changes in product technology or, most importantly, sensory quality.
"Furthermore, possible health benefits from e.g. polyphenols could
even enhance the consumer acceptance of such products."
The review is a timely pooling of the significant and often rapid progress
that has been made in acrylamide-reduction, since it first hit the headlines
Acrylamide is a carcinogen that is created when starchy foods are baked,
roasted, fried or toasted. In 2002, when scientists at the Swedish Food
Administration first reported unexpectedly high levels of acrylamide,
found to cause cancer in laboratory rats, in carbohydrate-rich foods.
Since the Swedish discovery a global effort has been underway to amass
data about this chemical. More than 200 research projects have been initiated
around the world, and their findings co-ordinated by national governments,
the EU and the United Nations.
And while reducing acrylamide levels is an important target in bakery
products, "manufacturers need to keep in mind consumer expectations
regarding flavour, colour, and other sensory properties in order to ensure
their products remain marketable," wrote the authors from the Institute
of Food Science and Biotechnology at Hohenheim University.
The antioxidant approach
Studies are beginning to emerge that show antioxidants may reduce acrylamide
levels, with evidence available that ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and rosemary
extracts reportedly reducing levels of the potential carcinogen in breakfast
cereals, crackers, and even olive oil used for frying.
"Similar observations were reported when a spice mix containing flavonoids
was applied to potato crisps, and for the addition of bamboo leaf extracts,"
state Claus, Carle and Schieber.
The scientific trio go on to state: "According to our observations
(unpublished results) polyphenolics had a strong lowering effect on acrylamide
formation in wheat bread, which may be explained by their reaction with
"Hence, polyphenols appear to be a very potent and valuable additive
for acrylamide reduction in different bakery products and more detailed
studies concerning this topic are required."
Acidic additives potential
Claus, Carle and Schieber also consider progress made using consumable
acids, amino acids, and cations, since these additives offer "a very
simple but efficient method to minimise acrylamide in bakery products."
Indeed, studies have already shown that the likes of citric, lactic, tartaric,
and hydrochloric acids may reduce the levels of acrylamide in a variety
of bakery products, including baked corn chips, semi-finished biscuits
The enzyme approach
Another growing area of interest is enzymes. Asparaginase can be employed
to turn asparagine into aspartic acid, which prevents acrylamide formation
in the Maillard reaction. At the tail-end of 2007 the Confederation of
the Food and Drink Industries of the EU (CIAA) included asparaginase in
the new version of its Acrylamide Toolbox, a move seen to validation the
efforts of companies that have developed commercial solutions using the
acrylamide-reducing enzyme. This is an area that has seen much heated
activity this year as both DSM Food Specialities and Novozymes have commercial
products aimed at this area. However, the Hohenheim-based scientists note:
"Although asparaginase addition seems to be very promising for acrylamide
mitigation, it is rather expensive compared with other strategies. "Therefore,
it is unlikely that asparaginase will be used to produce low-price foodstuffs
such as bread or bread rolls. However, after approval as a food additive,
its use for both patisserie articles and coffee appears to be more promising."
Source: Journal of Cereal Science (Elsevier)
March 2008, Volume 47, Issue 2, Pages 118-133
"Acrylamide in cereal products: A review"
IMPROVE PROCEDURES FOR HELPING SCHOOLS MANAGE FOOD RECALLS, WITNESSES
TELL HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE
US Fed News
WASHINGTON Source of Article: http://www.meatpoultry.com/
The House Education & Labor Committee issued the following news release:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture did not provide adequate support to
help school districts track, handle, and dispose of tainted beef in the
wake of the largest meat recall in U.S. history, witnesses told the House
Education and Labor Committee today.
The USDA issued the recall last month after a U.S. Humane Society investigation
revealed that meat from non-ambulatory (or "downer") cows at
a California meatpacking company had been allowed to enter the food supply.
Federal law prohibits meat from downer cows from entering the food supply
because it poses a greater risk of salmonella and e.coli contamination
and mad cow disease. More than a third of the tainted meat - more than
50 million pounds - had gone to federal nutrition programs, including
"This incident raises very alarming questions about the U.S. Department
of Agriculture's ability to monitor the safety of meat in this country
- including the meat that is being served to children in the National
School Lunch program," said U.S. Rep George Miller, the chairman
of the House Education and Labor Committee. "Schools and parents
should have every assurance that the food supplied to their kids' cafeterias
by the federal government is safe. It is unacceptable that the USDA so
completely failed to do its job."
At the request of Miller and other Democratic lawmakers, the U.S. Government
Accountability has initiated an investigation into the safety of foods
in the National School Lunch Program. Today's hearing was the first congressional
examination into how beef recall affected school districts around the
The USDA's communications and recall procedures made it harder for schools
to understand and comply with the recall, explained Dora Rivas, the Director
of Child Nutrition for schools in Dallas, Texas, whose district is still
working to dispose its recalled meat. In one instance, the USDA issued
a press release before providing school districts with updates on how
to dispose of tainted meat: "It is unfortunate that press release
information went out for public release before official information and
instructions arrived to food service directors via the USDA/state communications
allowing little time to prepare for media and public response."
Rivas also expressed concerns with the various costs that districts have
incurred while dealing with the recall. "Some of the non-reimbursable
expenses we have incurred are overtime costs and administrative expenses.
Again I am concerned about what happens in the small districts where they
do not have the resources to respond and absorb the costs," Rivas
Penny Parham, the Administrative Director for the Department of Food and
Nutrition for Miami-Dade public schools, called for USDA to increase reimbursements
to schools facing increased costs due to the recall: "As a result
of the recall and removal of all beef from the menu, our food service
program incurred additional costs because we had to increase our inventory
in order to replace those items on the menu that were made with beef.
The USDA should assist school food service programs that have been hit
hard by rising food and labor costs."
In addition to discussing the beef recall, witnesses at the hearing made
recommendations on how Congress should improve the overall quality and
safety of federal school nutrition programs during the upcoming reauthorization
of the Child Nutrition Act, which will expire in 2009.
Kenneth Hecht, the Executive Director of California Food Policy Advocates,
discussed new research showing that more than half of the food commodities,
such as meat, that schools receive through USDA go through processing
before being sent schools, which can decrease foods' nutritional value.
Currently, no government agency oversees the nutrition quality of commodities
that are processed. "In some cases, USDA-purchased products are sent
to processors where the foods take on fat, sodium, and sugar that are
counterproductive to the students' health. Considerations of nutrition
quality, then, as well as food safety, may argue for greater oversight
of what goes on in commodity processing," he said.
Mary Hill, the President of the School Nutrition Association, who also
voiced concerns with the USDA's interactions with schools during the recall,
urged Congress to expand and streamline the school meal programs, increase
federal reimbursements to help schools improve nutrition, and create consistent,
national nutrition standards for school meals. "The children in California
need the same nutrients for healthy development that are needed by the
children in South Dakota and Florida," she explained. "Hungry
children can't learn and you can't compete in a world economy without
an education. An educated workforce is the backbone of the country and
the school nutrition programs are vital to our success."
Kathleen Corrigan, the Director of Food and Nutrition Services for the
Mt. Diablo Unified School District in Concord, California, highlighted
her district's efforts to provide students with healthy school breakfast
options: "We believe breakfast is critical for every student in order
to start the day ready to learn. We have expanded the number of high quality,
nutritious menu offerings to include more fresh fruit, whole grain cereals
and breads, and low fat dairy products."
To see all of the testimonies from hearing, visit:
For more information on the beef recall, visit: http://www.house.gov/apps/list/speech/edlabor_dem/RelFeb17USDARecall.html
eliminating salmonella in turkeys
05 Mar 2008 Source of Article: http://www.worldpoultry.net/
When salmonella sampling in turkey flocks comes into force, chick box
and dust samples as well as boot swabs will be the most likely methods
turkey farmers will need.
According to Farmers Weekly, in a recent meeting organised by ADAS on
behalf of DEFRA, up and coming measures to reduce Salmonella typhimurium
and enteridis in turkey flocks was discussed.
Alison Wintrip confirmed that new regulations are due to begin in January
2009. Breeders, layers and broilers have all been surveyed and the aim
is for no more than 1% of the breeding flock to remain positive for salmonella
by the end of that year.
Although sampling for turkeys is not yet required, producers are advised
to take samples, said Wintrip, adding that surveys were completed in 2007
and the sample regime will need to be decided on in 2008, and is expected
to come into force in 2010. Sampling will be straightforward and low cost
at about ¡Ì7.50 plus VAT per sample.
She concluded in saying that it is understood that national controls are
on the way not just from DEFRA but throughout the EU.
problematic in the case of fattening pigs and turkeys, too
EU-wide monitoring provides a representative overview for the
first time of the incidence of Salmonella in fattening pigs and turkey
Source of Article: http://www.newsfood.com/
In two studies conducted jointly by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment
(BfR) and the control authorities of the federal states, German turkey
flocks and fattening pigs were tested for Salmonella. The results: Salmonella
was detected in around 10 percent of the fattening turkey flocks examined.
In contrast, the breeding turkey flocks were free of Salmonella. Approximately
13 percent of the samples from fattening pigs tested positive for Salmonella.
¡ìFor the purposes of precautionary consumer protection, the control of
Salmonella must, therefore, already begin at the breeding and fattening
stages of food-producing animals¡í, commented Professor Dr. Dr. Hensel,
President of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment. The two studies
are part of an EU-wide monitoring programme which provides, for the first
time, a representative overview of the scale on which turkey flocks and
fattening pigs in the EU are contaminated with Salmonella. Based on the
results Europe-wide and specific national control programmes for the reduction
of the Salmonella contamination in fattening pigs and turkeys are to be
set up. In the turkey study 300 fattening turkey flocks and 98 breeding
turkey flocks were examined which had been selected in a representative
manner. Five collective faecal samples from each flock were examined for
Salmonella. Salmonella was not detected in any of the samples from the
breeding turkey flocks. The situation was different in the case of the
fattening turkeys. Salmonella was detected in at least one sample from
31 out of the 300 fattening turkey flocks (10.3 percent). The samples
were differentiated serologically and then further examined at the National
Reference Laboratory for Salmonella within BfR. It identified 12 different
Salmonella sub-groups. They included the two most frequent causes of Salmonella
infections in man - Salmonella enteritidis and Salmonella typhimurium
in fattening turkeys, albeit on a small scale. Salmonella enteritidis
was only detected in one flock, Salmonella typhimurium in eight flocks.
In the fattening pig study 2,569 samples of intestinal lymph nodes were
examined bacteriologically. Salmonella can be very easily detected in
the lymph nodes. The samples of 326 animals (12.7 percent) tested positive
for Salmonella. The National Reference Laboratory for Salmonella within
BfR differentiated 23 sub-groups and observed that the human pathogenic
species Salmonella enteritidis and Salmonella typhimurium also occur in
fattening pigs. With 180 isolates (55.2 percent of the Salmonella-positive
samples), Salmonella typhimurium was the most frequently detected whereas
Salmonella enteritidis with 10 isolates (3.1 percent) was detected relatively
rarely. The results show that both turkeys and fattening pigs are potential
sources of infection for man.
During slaughter the Salmonella from infected animals can migrate to the
meat and then constitute an infection risk for the people who consume
the meat and meat products. The studies show that the control of Salmonella
must already begin during the breeding and fattening of food-producing
animals. Hygiene during the slaughter of the animals, the processing of
the meat and, last but not least, during the preparation of food is equally
important when it comes to avoiding Salmonella infections. As Salmonella
is heat-sensitive, meat and meat products should be cooked through as
this affords the most effective protection against salmonellosis.
BfR has passed on the results of the studies to the European Food Safety
Authority (EFSA). There, they are evaluated together with the data from
other Member States of the European Union. Based on these representative
data which can be compared between the EU Member States, measures for
the control of Salmonella are to be elaborated and co-ordinated.
demand USDA list beef recall stores
Thu Mar 6, 2008 By Christopher Doering
Source of Article: http://www.reuters.com/
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic lawmakers on Thursday demanded the U.S.
Agriculture Department release by next week a list of stores which received
the 143 million lbs of beef recalled by a California company last month,
but administration officials said that may not be possible.
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Agency first proposed two years ago
that retail establishments which received recalled products be identified
publicly, to give consumers important information more quickly.
USDA had planned to begin listing retailers later this year, but lawmakers
and consumer groups are now pushing the department to do it sooner following
the February 17 recall by Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co of 143 million
lbs of meat, mostly beef.
"If we can't get the information from you by the first of next week
then we are going to start pressing you very hard in whatever way we can,"
Maurice Hinchey, a New York Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee
on agriculture, said during a budget hearing.
"If we have stores that are selling bad product then we need to know
about it," he added. The meat from the recall, the largest in U.S.
history, was delivered to just under 10,000 suppliers who later distributed
the product to restaurants, retailers and other establishments, according
to USDA. Most of the meat probably already has been consumed, and no illnesses
have been reported.
Currently, it is difficult for consumers who have purchased tainted products
to locate a store because USDA considers recall distribution lists to
be confidential and leaves it up to retailers to decide whether to disclose
Agriculture Undersecretary Richard Raymond, who oversees USDA's Food Safety
and Inspection Service, has long been a supporter of publicly releasing
lists of establishments impacted by recalls.
But he told lawmakers USDA does not have the authority to release lists,
including one of retail outlets associated with the Hallmark/Westland
"I'm not sure I can at this point and time because it's considered
proprietary," said Raymond. Still, he vowed to talk to USDA lawyers
as early as this afternoon to see what can be done.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee on agriculture,
chided Raymond and FSIS for taking two years to work on a measure that
still has not been implemented.
"That is really unacceptable," said DeLauro, who has suggested
USDA issue an emergency rule listing the retailers and school districts
that received products tied to the Hallmark/Westland recall.
In a letter sent last month to the USDA, eight consumer groups said listing
retailers would help create a more efficient recall process and decrease
the consumer risk of becoming ill or dying from eating the products.
Under the current recall process, the department contacts food distributors
to ensure proper notification is taking place and that products are being
removed from store shelves and disposed of properly.
USDA also releases the company recalling the product, the reason for the
recall, a description of the item and whether any illnesses have been
reported to the public.
(Editing by Jim Marshall)
advisory on fake 2008 Nano & Food Meeting website
Source of Article: http://www.ift.org/news_bin/news/news_home.shtml
3/06/2008-The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is issuing an advisory
to all IFT members and allied organizations on a bogus conference entitled
"2008 Nano & Food Meeting," which advertises a fictional
March 20-21, 2008, event in New York City.
Although the conference website lists IFT as an association partner, and
references speakers from IFT and other recognizable participants, IFT
members and interested participants should be aware that this conference
and the associated website (www.fftimeeting.com) are not legitimate, and
the fictitious event is not being held by IFT or with IFT's involvement.
Based on review by legal counsel, IFT has learned that this information
has been fabricated and that content appears to have been illegally copied
from a different organization's nanotechnology conference which was held
in Atlanta in 2006. IFT is currently reviewing options with legal counsel
to resolve this situation. In the interim, please join with us in sharing
this advisory with individuals and organizations to help IFT counter this
misinformation. For details on official IFT programming, please visit
ift.org/knowledge. For further information on this advisory, please contact
Jerry Bowman, Vice President of Communications and Media Relations, at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 312.604.0256.
Food Safety Lab in Jeopardy
Julie Philipp Source of Article: http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/
GENEVA, NY (2008-03-07) A top state official says Governor Spitzer is
about to announce where the state's new, 40-million dollar food safety
lab will be built.
Former Governor George Pataki had planned to put the state-of-the-art
facility in Ontario County, at the Cornell Agriculture Experiment Station
in Geneva. When Spitzer took office, however, he put that decision on
hold. Now there are signs the lab will be built in Albany instead.
The state's current food safety lab is located in Albany, and New York
State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker says researchers there already
have close working relationships with scientists at other state government
labs in Albany. Hooker also says Spitzer had to consider whether these
top scientists would want to relocate to Geneva.
A spokesperson for the Governor would not confirm which site has been
selected, saying discussions are ongoing. State Senator Michael Nozzolio's
district covers Geneva. Senator Nozzolio says he has not received official
word from the Governor's office. If Spitzer determines the lab should
stay in Albany, Nozzolio says he will look at options to block that decision.
Nozzolio says the food safety lab is a good fit for Geneva. He notes there
are many scientists in this region who are qualified to work at the food
safety lab. He says locating it in Geneva will help revitalize Upstate.
He adds there is opportunity for collaboration with the Infotonics Center
near Canandaigua, where researchers are working on food packaging technology.
Commissioner Hooker appears tonight at nine on WXXI-TV's Need to Know.
Disclose Who Sold Recalled Beef
By JANE ZHANG March 7, 2008; Page A8
Source of Article: http://online.wsj.com/
WASHINGTON -- Agriculture Department officials, under fire on Capitol
Hill over the largest meat recall in U.S. history, told legislators that
they can't disclose a list of 10,000 establishments -- from food distributors
and processors to grocery stores and restaurants -- that sold the recalled
But a rule change, in the works for the past two years, would allow the
disclosure if it hadn't been held up by bureaucratic delays.
Richard Raymond, the department's undersecretary for food safety, told
the House Appropriation's agriculture panel that he has pushed for the
rule change, but it has yet to be sent to the White House Office of Management
and Budget for approval. The USDA and the budget office, however, have
been discussing the rule informally.
That answer didn't satisfy some lawmakers. Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D., N.Y.)
said the names of the companies are not proprietary, and he requested
that the USDA provide information by the middle of next week.
"This is a very, very critically important issue," he said.
"If we have stores that are selling bad products, we should know
Mr. Hinchey pursued the matter at a separate hearing with OMB Director
Jim Nussle, who promised to look into the rule change, the congressman's
USDA officials have been grilled at a series of congressional hearings
in the last few weeks after the recall of 143 million pounds of beef,
dating back two years, by Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co. The Chino,
Calif., company, the second-biggest beef supplier last year to the national
school-lunch program, has been shut down indefinitely.
Agriculture officials said the recall wasn't triggered by food contamination
but because of the way the company handled cows that had passed a preslaughter
inspection yet then became unable to stand. Undercover video by the Humane
Society of the United States showed workers forcing so-called downer cows
to stand up using forklifts and electrical-shock devices, and dragging
at least one cow to the area where cattle were killed.
Most of the meat has been consumed, but the USDA's Dr. Raymond said some
may have been made into canned food and might be on grocery-store shelves.
The government has ordered the recalled meat to be destroyed and buried
in landfills. But The Wall Street Journal has reported that a few companies
are holding off destroying the meat with the hope it could be donated
or put back in stores.
Questioned by subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa Delauro about holding on to
the meat, Dr. Raymond said that was "wishful thinking, because regulators
say you need to destroy the products." Alfred V. Almanza, administrator
of the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, said, "it's a prohibiting
activity" that could lead to criminal prosecution.
USDA officials have said it is "extremely unlikely" that the
recalled meat poses a risk to human health. No illnesses have been reported
from the recalled meat.
But downer cows are more likely to carry mad-cow disease, which causes
a rare, but fatal, brain disorder in humans. The government generally
prohibits such animals from entering the food supply, but some are permitted
to be slaughtered if they clear further inspection by a USDA veterinarian.
Under the USDA's estimate, if the Hallmark/Westland plant had allowed
every downer cow to be slaughtered, the risk of human exposure to mad-cow
disease would be increased by 0.13%, Dr. Raymond told the lawmakers.
Live organisms as feed supplements to fight Salmonella
Friday March 07, 2008 Source of Article: http://www.hpj.com/
Here's a new way to reduce Salmonella in poultry before they go to the
processing plant: Use probiotics instead of antibiotics for treatment
of the birds.
It's been a complex path getting to this point, and the procedure still
raises some other issues to be considered. Still, the development offers
a way that makes it easy on poultry growers and enhances food safety.
It's a matter of incorporating the probiotic into either the water or
the feed for the poultry, explained Billy Hargis, director of the Poultry
Health Research Laboratory at the University of Arkansas System's Division
of Agriculture. Results from experiments show that administration of the
probiotic can reduce Salmonella in either meat-type chicken houses or
turkey houses before being transported to the processing plant and reduce
the risk of cross contamination among turkeys at the plant.
"It's not a chemical. It's not a drug," explained Hargis, who
has pursued the research for the Food Safety Consortium. "These (probiotics)
are live organisms."
The term for the probiotic developed in Hargis' lab is FM-B11, also known
as a defined lactic acid bacterial culture. Defined cultures eliminate
the risk of pathogenic organisms existing within the culture, clearing
the way for their effective use in stopping Salmonella in commercial poultry.
"Another advantage is that we're talking about organisms that can
be produced very cheaply, which keeps the costs of these treatments very
low," Hargis said. That's partly because the defined cultures from
which the probiotics come are tolerant of oxygen, avoiding the high cost
of fermenting undefined cultures that can't grow in the presence of oxygen.
Antibiotics have long been popular among poultry producers seeking to
keep their birds healthy and to promote the birds' growth. Pathogenic
bacteria that are harmful to humans are increasing the bacteria's ability
to resist antibiotics, but pathogens that can cause animal disease have
not built up as much resistance.
"The risk factor for antibiotic resistance from food-producing animals
is exceedingly low," Hargis said. But the issue of antibiotic resistance
is still becoming a driving force that's making antibiotics usage for
animals less popular, and poultry producers are under pressure to use
fewer antibiotics. Alternatives are necessary.
Probiotics enter the picture as live organisms that serve as microbial
feed supplements for animals to improve their intestinal microbial balance.
Hargis' research group has taken the lactobacillus probiotic, a form of
milk bacteria found in the bird, and added it to poultry water or feed.
More recent efforts are directed toward beneficial bacteria from a totally
different genus called Bacillus. During the last year, a substantial laboratory
effort has been directed toward identification of organisms of this genus
that are harmless to the animals or humans, which inhibit certain pathogenic
organisms, and which can produce spores that are resistant to heating
or storage. The important part of these new efforts is to develop effective
probiotics that can be added to feed, which greatly reduces costs associated
with delivery in the drinking water at the farm.
"We can add these to the feed even before pelleting," Hargis
said. "The beneficial bacteria in the feed have tremendous advantages
because now we can talk about continuous administration over time. It
makes it very simple. It just comes in with the feed."
Replacing antibiotics with probiotics has definite advantages, but there
is some tradeoff. Hargis noted that although animal foods won't be populated
with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the lack of antibiotics means producers
will need to find other ways to promote their birds' growth. That means
giving more feed to the birds to accomplish the task.
"It's going to take more feed to raise the same amount of meat,"
Hargis said. "So that means more land has to be involved in row crop
production. There's an effect on the world's small grain supply because
we'll be putting more small grains into the same amount of meat than we
were before." Meanwhile, the price of grain is already going up to
meet demand for biofuels, so the price of meats produced from small grains
will also rise.
But the advantages offered by probiotics indicate where the future may
be. Hargis cited the new probiotic candidate's stability even in the presence
of the heat generated when feed is being turned into pellets and its overall
environmental stability. The major plus is its usage in the feed itself,
which makes it part of an ongoing process.
"We're using it to prevent problems continuously as opposed to treating
problems when they occur," Hargis said.
Poisoning and Bioterrorism Toxins
Posted on: Thursday, 6 March 2008
Source of Article: http://www.redorbit.com/
New insights into how plant toxin ricin kills cells could help scientists
develop drugs to counteract poisonings
A powerful plant toxin widely feared for its bioterrorism potential may
one day be tamed using findings about how the toxin attacks cells. The
findings may also help scientists combat food poisoning episodes such
as those recently caused by bacteria-tainted produce and ground meat.
Biotechnology researchers at Rutgers University have discovered that ricin,
extracted from abundant castor beans, kills cells by a previously unrecognized
activity that appears to work in concert with its ability to damage protein
synthesis. While those earlier known effects still harm cells, it¡¯s the
newly discovered and more stealthy activity that the researchers now believe
delivers the knockout punch.
Ricin toxin is feared as a bioterror agent because it can be easily purified
from the waste of castor oil production and there are no known antidotes.
It is poisonous if inhaled, ingested or injected. Symptoms can show up
within hours, including difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Death can result within days from low blood pressure, severe dehydration,
respiratory failure and eventually, failure of organs such as the liver
and kidneys . Those who survive severe ricin poisoning may still have
permanent or long-lasting organ damage.
Writing in the March 7 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Rutgers
plant biology and pathology professor Nilgun Tumer and her colleagues
report that ricin tricks a cell into turning off a natural defense mechanism
that destroys foreign proteins. If ricin did not first deactivate the
cell¡¯s defenses, the cell would be able to turn on a stress response to
get rid of the toxin. The discovery allows scientists to explore new ways
to disarm ricin.
¡°Because there are no specific medical treatment options for ricin intoxication,
we felt it essential to dig deeper into the mechanism of ricin-induced
cell death,¡± said Tumer. ¡°The new mechanism we discovered provides new
targets for possible therapeutic agents.¡±
Tumer discovered that ricin is inhibiting a cell defense mechanism known
as unfolded protein response or UPR. Proteins that a cell synthesizes
need to have their long molecular chains folded in a precise pattern.
The UPR causes proteins that don¡¯t fold, or that fold incorrectly, to
be degraded and removed from the place in a cell where folding occurs,
known as the endoplasmic reticulum (ER).
When the toxic ricin A protein enters a cell, it takes a reverse pathway,
being transported to and unfolded in the ER. At this point, the UPR should
initiate a cell stress response that degrades the unfolded proteins, hence
acting as the cell¡¯s first line of defense. A piece of the ricin A protein
molecule, however, signals the ER to shut down its UPR and the cell¡¯s
stress response needed for survival.
Tumer verified this mechanism by testing it with a mutant form of the
ricin A protein molecule. The mutant lacked the signal that caused the
UPR to shut down. When Tumer introduced the mutant protein into yeast
cells, she found that the UPR triggered the necessary stress response.
¡°At first, we thought ricin might be triggering the stress response and
preventing it from turning off, which causes cell damage in some cancers
and type II diabetes,¡± Tumer said. But in experiments with the mutant
form of ricin A protein, the stress response was turning on and off properly.
¡°Then we discovered that the wild ricin A protein was inhibiting the stress
response,¡± she said.
Tumer noted that toxins secreted by some strains of E. coli bacteria,
including those blamed for high-profile food poisoning cases recently
involving spinach, lettuce and fast-food hamburgers, appear to have a
similar mechanism to ricin. Further study is needed to verify this and
find ways to combat the toxin.
(Russia), kindergarten staff hospitalised with food poisoning
Source of Article: http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/
IRKUTSK, March 3 (Itar-Tass) - A total of 153 people, including 120 kindergarten
students have been hospitalised with symptoms of food poisoning in the
Siberian city of Bratsk, sources from the regional department of the Russian
Ministry for Emergency Situations told Tass on Monday.
An outbreak of intestinal infection was registered last week in a municipal
kindergarten, and 120 out of 259 children attending that kindergarten
are in hospital. The kindergarten was closed and medics keep under observation
the children staying at home.
The number of hospitalised staff has not changed, and 33 people remain
in hospital. Additional 150 beds are ready for a case of emergency.
According to the Rospotrebnadzor consumer rights watchdog, children and
kindergarten teachers got poisoned from rissoles made of rice, eggs and
chicken liver, they had had for lunch.
Five days ago, the city mayor imposed a state of emergency. Control has
been tightened over foodstuffs supplied to all schools, kindergartens,
orphanages and boarding schools of Bratsk.
Regional Irkutsk authorities set up to a panel to investigate the incident
didn't tell you about recent meat recall
By Stephen J. Hedges
Wednesday, March 12, 2008 Chicago Tribune
Source of Article: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/
WASHINGTON ? The largest meat recall in U.S. history was bound to reverberate
throughout the food-manufacturing world. So far, four major food manufacturers
? ConAgra, General Mills, Heinz and Nestle ? have acknowledged that meat
involved in the 143 million-pound recall, announced Feb. 17, was used
in some of their products.
So why haven't those products been recalled?
They have been ? very quietly.
Nestle, General Mills, Heinz and ConAgra each acknowledged to news organizations
that they have recalled products containing beef from the meatpacking
Those products include two versions of Nestle's Hot Pocket sandwiches,
Heinz's Boston Market lasagna with meat sauce, General Mills' Progresso
Italian Wedding Soup and a variety of meat products from ConAgra, ranging
from Slim Jim snacks to Hunt's Manwich Original Sloppy Joe Sauce.
The companies stressed that the use of Hallmark/Westland meat was limited,
and that they notified retailers and told them to pull those products.
But none had taken the usual step of notifying consumers through news
releases and warnings on Web sites.
Why the secrecy? In part because the recall is indirect; the U.S. Department
of Agriculture (USDA) urged Hallmark/Westland to contact food producers
that use its meat and urge them to pull their products. But the USDA did
not contact food producers.
The food manufacturers said they are under no obligation to notify consumers.
The Hallmark/Westland recall is considered a Class II recall under U.S.
Department of Agriculture guidelines, which means there is a remote risk
of adverse human-health effects.
But food-safety advocates said ordinary shoppers have been forgotten.
"It's better to fess up and be open and honest with your consumers,"
said Bill Marler, a lawyer who often sues companies on behalf of food-poisoning
victims. "It makes consumers more comfortable with your product,
not less comfortable."
Company officials said their understanding was that the USDA wanted them
to notify only retailers. "There was not a requirement for public
notification through USDA because the health risk is negligible,"
said Nestle spokeswoman Roz O'Hearn.
General Mills spokeswoman Kirstie
Foster said, "This is not a consumer recall. According to USDA, consumers
do not need to take action."
ConAgra asked grocers carrying
the affected products to remove them. A spokeswoman said consumers will
be reimbursed upon request, but the company's Web sites don't mention
Heinz said only a "small
portion" of recalled ground beef was used in its lasagna and it is
working with stores "to ensure the recalled product is removed from
Amanda Eamich, of USDA's Food
Safety and Inspection Service, said the department's recall directly named
only Hallmark/Westland, not its customers. But USDA did tell Hallmark/Westland
to ask the manufacturers that use its meat to pull their products. She
acknowledged the agency did not ask that consumers be notified.
"Companies can certainly
choose to do so if they'd like," Eamich said. "But our goal
is to make sure that products are controlled and destroyed."
Hallmark/Westland and the USDA
announced the meat recall after the Humane Society of the United States
released a video that showed dairy cows bound for slaughter being mistreated
at the company's Chino, Calif., slaughter plant.
The mistreated cows were "downers,"
unable to stand because of undetermined ailments. The slaughter of downers
is strictly regulated; the USDA requires an inspection, and only those
whose ailments pose no risk to food, such as a broken leg, can be slaughtered.
The video led to the recall
and to the closing of the Chino plant and criminal charges against two
former Hallmark/Westland employees. The USDA is conducting an investigation
and has put two inspectors who were working at the plant on administrative
Richard Raymond, the USDA undersecretary
for food safety, told Congress last week that recalled Hallmark/Westland
meat went to more than 10,000 distributors and food manufacturers, including
the USDA's own nutrition programs ? including the school-lunch program
? which bought 50 million pounds of meat.
About 100 school districts
in Washington state, including in Seattle, received raw beef from Hallmark/Westland
in November and December. In late January, the USDA advised schools to
stop using the beef.
Raymond said USDA regulations
prevent the department from disclosing Hallmark/Westland's customers because
such information is considered proprietary. Food-safety groups argued
for lifting that restriction.
The food producers involved
emphasized that their use of Hallmark/Westland meat was limited.
"A very small amount of
those products is impacted," said Teresa Paulsen, of ConAgra. "That's
because we produced product with beef sourced from Westland on only a
few days. In fact, less than two-tenths of 1 percent of our overall product
volume is impacted."
Foster, of General Mills, said
Hallmark/Westland was not a supplier to the company. Instead, she said,
the meat company was a vendor to one of General Mills' suppliers and the
recalled meat made it into 35,000 cases of Progresso Italian Wedding Soup
"for a very short time."
Nestle's O'Hearn said the Hallmark/Westland
recall affected the company "in a very minor way" and just "two
days of production on one line in one facility" are being recalled.
Marler, the lawyer, criticized
the department for its handling of the Hallmark/Westland recall, which
he said was too broad to be effective. The recall covered meat produced
from Feb. 1, 2006, to Feb. 2, 2008, an unusually long period for perishable
USDA officials said most of
the recalled meat likely had been consumed. They said no illnesses linked
to the meat have been reported.
Material from The Seattle Times
archives is included in this report.
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