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Food-borne Illnesses From Leafy Greens on Rise in U.S.
Increase not explained by higher consumption; more control urged from harvest to preparation Posted 3/17/08 Source of Article:
MONDAY, March 17 (HealthDay News) -- There was a significant increase in the proportion of food-borne illness outbreaks in the United States linked to leafy green vegetables from 1973 to 2006, but the rise can't be completely explained by increased consumption of leafy greens, researchers say.
"During the 1986-1995 period, U.S. leafy green consumption increased 17 percent from the previous decade. During the same period, the proportion of food-borne disease outbreaks due to leafy greens increased 60 percent. Likewise, during 1996 to 2005, leafy green consumption increased 9 percent, and leafy green-associated outbreaks increased 39 percent," researcher Michael Lynch, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a prepared statement.
Lynch and his colleagues decided to conduct the study after high-profile spinach and lettuce-related E. coli outbreaks in 2006.
Their analysis of more than 10,000 food-borne illnesses from 1973 to 2006 revealed that leafy greens were involved in a total of 5 percent of all food-borne outbreaks. Most of the leafy green outbreaks were caused by norovirus (60 percent), while others were caused by salmonella (10 percent) and E. coli (9 percent).
"Given recent experiences, that was not a total surprise. What was interesting was when we compared the numbers to consumption data," Lynch said.
He said further investigation is needed to determine why the rate of leafy green-related food-borne illness has increased more than consumption. Many food-borne disease outbreaks can be traced to a problem in food preparation, he said. However, some outbreaks were fairly widespread, which suggests that contamination occurred either on the farm or in the processing plant.
"The proportion of outbreaks due to leafy greens has increased beyond what can be explained by increased consumption. Contamination can occur anywhere along the chain from the farm to the table. Efforts by local, state and federal agencies to control leafy green outbreaks should span from the point of harvest to the point of preparation," Lynch said.
The study findings were presented Monday at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases, in Atlanta.
In a three-part series published in January, HealthDay detailed the problems with tainted foods plaguing the U.S. food system. In little less than a year and a half, nationwide recalls of tainted products formed their own peculiar food pyramid: meats, vegetables, salads, snacks, fast food, even dessert items. The various pathogens in those products killed at least three people, sickened more than 1,300 others and touched almost every state in the country as well as Canada.

Food safety system near "breaking point": FDA
Tue Mar 18, 2008 7:20pm EDT
Reporter's Notebook By Christopher Doering
Source of Article: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The system U.S. consumers depend on to ensure the safety of their food supply is not broken, but multiple food borne outbreaks at the same time could push it to its "breaking point," an official with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday.
The food safety system is "not broken. It still is protecting public health," Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied nutrition, said during the Reuters Food Summit.
"It could be just one incident away from some catastrophic event. It's stretched very thin at this point. If there was an additional crisis, it might be at the breaking point."
The FDA -- in charge of protecting 80 percent of the U.S. food supply, mostly fruits, vegetables and processed foods -- has faced intense criticism following safety scares during the last few years involving spinach and peanut butter, along with imported Chinese seafood and toothpaste.
Sundlof said the FDA is "lacking the work force" to be able to respond to more than one major food borne outbreak at a time, leaving it struggling to deal with other crisis involving food, drugs and medical devices.
Sundlof pointed to one example last year when melamine, a chemical used in plastics and fertilizers, surfaced in U.S. pet food, killing animals and prompting wide recalls. The pet food was later mixed in feed given to pigs, chickens and fish. FDA quickly mobilized all its district offices to respond to the incident.
Lawmakers and consumer groups have argued that Americans are skeptical of imported food and other products after the safety scares, pushing the food safety system into a crisis situation. Several bills have been introduced in Congress proposing ways to overhaul the food safety system.
Last November, the Bush administration made proposals to better protect the country's food supply that included working closer with foreign governments to prevent dangerous foods from entering the United States and giving FDA the power to order a recall of food when safety concerns
Sundlof said the FDA would welcome having mandatory recall authority, but that it also would depend on how the law is written in Congress.
The FDA, which deals with several hundred thousand of individual industries that either supply food or food ingredients, has had some instances where a company waited until the last minute before they agreed to do the recall, according to Sundlof.
"If the law is written in such a way that we would have the authority to mandate recalls, but only if met a certain very high threshold of evidence ... to indicate that there really was a public health risk, that could take a lot more time and, in that case, that would not necessarily benefit us," he said.
Richard Raymond, agriculture undersecretary who oversees the Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service, said on Monday that, under some mandatory recall proposals, it could actually take longer to do the recall -- perhaps several days.
He added that, in the 100 years since the federal meat inspection act was passed, no company has ever refused requests for a government recall.
(Editing by Andre Grenon)

Irradiated spinach passes a taste test
Source of Article:
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Washington, D.C. ? Irradiated food was put to the congressional taste test and passed.
Two U.S. House members holding a hearing on food safety Wednesday took bites of fresh spinach that had been zapped at the Sadex Corp. irradiation plant in Sioux City.
"No difference," said Bart Stupak, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's oversight subcommittee.
"No difference," agreed Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill. "I think Popeye would approve."
The leaves they munched on were brought to the committee by Iowa State University professor Dennis Olson, who argues that the widespread use of irradiation could make food safer.
Consumers will have to take the congressmen's word for it that the spinach was OK to eat. The Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve the commercial use of irradiation on fruits, vegetables and many other foods.
Irradiating food kills harmful E. coli, salmonella and other harmful bacteria. Sadex uses an electron-beam device to treat food. Proper cooking also can kill the bacteria. However, spinach and other types of produce are commonly eaten raw and have been linked to widespread food-poisoning outbreaks in recent years. "When we have widespread use of irradiation of our food supply, it will also be listed as a pillar of public health," said Olson, an expert on irradiation. He compared the technology to pasteurizing milk with heat. Irradiation of ground beef, which has been approved for commercial use for eight years, has not caught on with consumers, however.
One East Coast supermarket chain, Wegman's, sells beef irradiated by Sadex, but the product makes up only about 1 percent of the company's ground beef sales. The beef costs Wegman's about 70 cents a pound more than conventional beef, and the company passes a portion of that, about 40 cents, on to shoppers.
Dennis Wegman, the company's chief executive, said that it is difficult for farms to prevent contamination of fresh fruits and vegetables and that the FDA should allow produce to be irradiated.
An executive with Dole Foods told the House panel earlier that irradiating fresh produce could ruin the quality.
Olson brought the lawmakers samples of a variety of produce that had been irradiated, including lettuce, tomatoes and asparagus, along with conventional versions of the same foods. The products were laid out on a witness table in front the committee and in a cooler on the floor. There was no obvious difference in appearance between the irradiated and conventional products.
The FDA has been considering since 1999 whether to approve the wider use of irradiation. It released a statement Wednesday by Laura Tarantino, the agency's director of food additive safety, saying that the produce irradiation issue was a "high priority."
One issue that has come up in the FDA review, said Olson, is whether irradiating food can increase the formation of a toxic chemical compound known as furan. He said, however, that many foods now on the market already contain various levels of furan.

California Listed As Dangerous Place To Eat Out
Mar 14, 2008 Source of Article:
(CBS13) Eating out in California is more likely to make you sick than in most other states, according to federal records on food poisoning.
For the third year in a row, the website, listed the Golden State in the top five for food poisoning traced to restaurant food and California came in at number 2. uses numbers from the Centers for Disease Control to tabulate the results. The current list uses numbers for 2006 which is the most recent year for which data is available. There were 69 outbreaks of illness from California restaurants in 2006, making nearly 700 people sick. That's an increase over 2005, when California reported 62 outbreaks of restaurant food poisoning to the CDC. Most cases of food poisoning in California were not tied to a specific food. But, when investigators did pinpoint a cause they found that seafood, chicken, and ethnic foods led the way for causing food poisoning in restaurants. Here's the list how the states stack up for outbreaks of food poisoning traced to restaurants.
1. Florida 74 outbreaks
2. California 69 outbreaks
3. Minnesota 55 outbreaks
4. Ohio 54 outbreaks
5. New York 50 outbreaks
When contacted by, a spokesperson for the California Department of Health was not surprised at the findings. "
"California is the most populous state, we have more people eating out than most states," said information officer Ken August said. allows people to search online health inspections across the country.

US: Farmers who sell seasonal crops need food safety training
Source of Article:
Although members of Saipan Sabalu Farmers Market Inc. who sell locally grown fruits and vegetables are not required to get a sanitation permit and food handler certificate, those who sell produce on seasonal basis should attend food safety workshop, according to the group¡¯s former president, Edward Guerrero. He said the Bureau of Environmental Health does not require them to get a food handler certificate as long as they sell locally grown crops at the Sabalu Market in Susupe.
The bureau, he said, has always been supportive of the local farmers. But if a vendor sells a seasonal produce, he has to attend a food safety workshop, as "advised" by the bureau, Guerrero said. They are now setting a schedule for the workshop, he added.
According to Guerrero, only those who sell their crops at the Sabalu Market are exempted from food handler certificate and sanitation permit.
"If you sell outside the Sabalu Market, even if you are selling fresh vegetables, you will be required to get permits", Guerrero said. This is why those who sell fresh vegetables at the Garapan Street Market every Thursday are required to get a sanitation permit and a food handler certificate. Through the efforts of the Sabalu group, farmers can now sell livestock and fish at the Sabalu Market. The group¡¯s new set are officers are William Ada, president; Calistro Reyes, vice president; Bernie Aldan, treasurer; and Connie Dela Cruz Torres, secretary. Source:

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Food Safety and Quality Related Job Openings

China to use GPS to monitor transport, store of Olympic food 2008-03-13
Source of Article:
BEIJING, March 13 (Xinhua) -- China has taken a series of measures to ensure food safety for the Olympic ., including using GPS to position and monitor the transport and store of food for the event, a senior quarantine official said here on Thursday.
Li Changjiang, head of the State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, said on the sidelines of the First Session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) that "food safety is one of important factors for the success of the Beijing Olympics, to which the Chinese government always pays great attention."
He said that the Olympic food production will strictly follow "the highest international standards".
Strict market permission is imposed for all food suppliers for the Beijing Olympic .. Food processing companies can be recognized as the candidates of food suppliers for the . only after undergoing very strict examinations, Li said.
Candidates of food suppliers will be examined by officials and experts on spot, he added.
Food will be transported from food processing companies to "consumption sites" directly and GPS will be used to position and monitor transport and store to "ensure safety of every procedure", Li said.
"We also communicated with counterparts of previous Olympic . hosts and drew experiences on ensuring food safety from them," Li said.
"The above measures will guarantee food safety for the Beijing Olympic . without the least risk," Li assured.
Li wished athletes, coaches, journalists from all over the world not only enjoy a high-level sports spree in Beijing, but also enjoy China's catering culture.

Researchers confirm virulence differences in E coli O157:H7 strains
Lisa Schnirring Staff Writer Source of Article:
Mar 12, 2008 (CIDRAP News) ? Researchers from Michigan State University have shown that genetic differences in Escherichia coli O157:H7 strains relate to virulence, confirming suspicions public health experts have had and shedding light on why patients in recent outbreaks seem to have had more severe symptoms.
Scientists have noticed a wide variation in the severity of E coli O157:H7 infections, the authors wrote. Patients struck by outbreaks in the early to mid 1990s had relatively low rates of hospitalization and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication that can lead to kidney failure or death. However, they pointed out that patients sickened in the 2006 spinach outbreak had high rates of hospitalization and HUS.
The patterns have prompted researchers to questions if outbreak strain virulence varies based on the presence and expression of various Shiga toxin gene combinations.
Researchers plot virulence map
To test the hypothesis, the authors used a real-time polymerase chain reaction system to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 96 loci in 528 E coli O157:H7 strains, of which 444 were collected from Michigan patients between 2001 and 2006. Their findings appear in an early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). They included the other strains to represent different geographic sites and collection dates.
Upon phylogenetic analysis they found 39 SNP genotypes that differed at 20% of SNP loci and were separated into nine different clades. Each clade varied by distribution of Shiga toxin gene and by type of clinical disease. Researchers found that patients who had HUS were more likely to be infected with clade 8 strains, which they report have become more frequent over the past 5 years.
"Despite the small number [n = 11] of HUS cases identified, HUS patients were seven times more likely to be infected with clade 8 strains than patients from clades 1-7 combined," the authors wrote. They estimated that the frequency of clade 8 increased significantly among the Michigan patients whose E coli O157:H7 strains were included in the study, which they said was surprising, given the overall national decrease in such infections.
They also noticed other virulence patterns with different E coli O157:H7 clades. For example, patients infected with clades 2 and 8 were more likely to report bloody diarrhea than were patients with clade 7 strains. Female patients were more likely to be infected with clade 7 and 8 strains, and infections in those younger than 18 were more likely to be clade 8.
The researchers found no evidence that clade 8 recently emerged; they reported that they identified that type in clinical cases from 1984 on multiple continents. However, they wrote, "These results support the hypothesis that the clade 8 lineage has recently acquired novel factors that contribute to enhanced virulence."
Further study is needed into why the prevalence of clade 8 is increasing and what factors enhance its virulence and promote transmission in food and water, the authors wrote. They also said a rapid, inexpensive test to identify more virulent E coli O157:H7 subtypes would help laboratories identify patients who have a greater risk of HUS.
Finds expand knowledge, add new tools
Craig Hedberg, PhD, a food safety expert at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, told CIDRAP News that the study findings are important. "There have been several lines of research over the past decade that have pointed in this direction, although this will stand as the definitive paper to carry the argument," he said.
The study represents a continuing evolution in the understanding of E coli O157:H7, said Hedberg, who is an associate professor of environmental and occupational health. "Things start to make sense in new ways, and we can apply this new knowledge to our old data," he said. For example, E coli O157:H7 now appears to be highly clonal, though at one time researchers thought it represented a single clone. "People didn't think you could gain a lot from subtyping, but that proved to be shortsighted," Hedberg said.
"We're increasingly learning that what appears to be minor differences can have huge impacts on populations," he said of the different patterns that emerge with the clade 8 lineage.
SNP analysis may provide a useful surveillance tool for gauging the impact and progression of E coli O157:H7 illness outbreaks, Hedberg said.
The identification of a "hyperpathogenic" strain of E Coli O157:H7 probably won't have much regulatory impact, he said. "All O157 strains will still be considered adulterants in ground beef or ready-to-eat foods," Hedberg said. However, he added that public health officials may respond more aggressively if they know an outbreak involves a more virulent strain.
Manning DS, Motiwala A, Springman AC, et al. Variation in virulence among clades of Escherichia coli O157:H7 associated with disease outbreaks. Proc Natl Acad Sci 2008 (posted online Mar 10) [Full text]:

Legislators pose animal handling legislation
By Janie Gabbett on 3/17/2008 for
Three U.S. Senators proposed legislation that would pose stiff fines and shut down slaughter facilities that repeatedly process downed animals illegally.
The bill, co-sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), would give the USDA additional authority to fine first-time offenders, hand down a one-year suspension for a second violation, and permanently shut down a facility with a third violation.
The bill also would require the USDA to release the names of establishments that have received recalled products, which has been a bone of contention since the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co. 143 million-pound recall. USDA posed the rule change two years ago, but it has yet to be approved.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to head off a Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) ballot petition in November, Colorado State Senator Jim Isgar has posed legislation in the Colorado General Assembly that would limit sow and veal calf confinement.
And in California, HSUS has collected enough signatures for a November ballot initiative that would ban sow and veal calf crates, as well as chicken crates in layer operation. If passed, the law would take effect in 2015.

More people likely to accept nano than GM, say researchers
By Jess Halliday Source of Article:
14-Mar-2008 - Foods produced using emerging nanotechnology are less likely to come up against consumer hurdles than genetically modified foods since they do not involve tinkering with genes, and therefore have a greater perception of naturalness, says a new paper.
The paper, to be published in the journal Trends in Food Science and Technology, sets out to assess the factors that affect public acceptance of innovative technologies and food products by reviewing existing literature on the subject.
Alongside the balance between perceived risks and perceived benefits, Michael Siegrist of the Institute for Environmental Decisions' Consumer Behaviour unit in Zurich, Switzerland, said that the perception of naturalness is all-important to the modern consumer, and drew upon a body of research suggesting that almost all the associations evoked by the work 'natural' were positive.
However the actual processes involved in making the food are seen as all-important for whether or not a food is deemed natural. For example, chemical transformations such as the addition of fat were seen to reduce the naturalness of a product, whereas physical transformations like grinding were not.
The biggest reduction in naturalness came form inserting a gene from one species into another - whereas domestication of plants or animals on the basis of selection did not appear to pose an acceptance issue.
"This reasoning suggests that consumers may be more willing to accept nanotechnology food than GM food," wrote Siegrist. "Since the former most likely will not be perceived as tampering with nature, few people will have a moral impetus to oppose this technology now." In broad terms, nanotechnology is said to refer to an atomic or molecular scale of between one and 100 nanometres (nm).
At present the main uses for foods are said to be in food packaging and barrier materials, with some applications in nutraceutical delivery. Other uses under investigation include processing - such as programming of foods to release flavour at a particular time, or nutrients in a certain part of the body where they can have an effect.
At a recent debate hosted by the European Food Safety Authority, which has been charged with conducting a risk assessment of nanotechnology in foods, Dr Frans Kampers, programme manager bio-nanotechnology at Wageningen University, The Netherlands, pointed out, most nanoparticles in food are actually of natural origin.
This beggars the question as to whether there is a food that isn't nano - and indeed, whether nanotechnology should be deemed existing or new.
The author of the new paper also drew on the example of organic food as being a way in which food technologies can be framed in ways that enhance acceptance.
Organic food is promoted as being more natural than conventional foods, and these positive attributed lead to the people buying them in the belief that they are tastier and better for their health.
Such a marketing approach also allows for a premium being charged for organic foods, which could also be extended to other production technologies if marketed in the right way.
In conclusion, however, the researchers note that it is not just the nature of the innovation that determines whether or not it will be accepted, but the social, environmental and political context.
"Social amplification processes may generate public concern about hazards that are judged as low risks by experts," wrote Siegrist, giving the perception of GM foods in various European countries as a particular example.
"There are presently no indications that such an amplification process must be expected in the domain of nanotechnology food."
However the author also highlighted the importance of trust in the food industry for foods to be accepted.
He said that the underlying technology is less important when the end product is highly beneficial and meets consumers' needs, but they become sceptical when it is not seen to bring any additional value to them or to society, but just to line the pockets of producers and the food industry.
"The public may not be convinced that the values of the food industry are the same as theirs. Therefore, a lack of trust may hamper efforts to inform the public about the benefits of new technologies." Dr Kampers applied the same logic to nanotechnology at the EFSA event. He said he is convinced nanotechnology will bring big benefits to individuals and mankind as a whole - but much depends on the perceived risks.
Trends in Food Science and Technology
Title: "Factors influencing public acceptance of innovative food technologies and products"
Author: Michael Siegrist

At Least 56 Salmonella Illnesses Reported in Alamosa Colorado
Posted on March 19, 2008 by Salmonella Attorney
Source of Article:
Hew Hallock reports this morning that ? ¡°Search goes on for source of Salmonella.¡± So far the source of the outbreak - most likely a common source given the number of ill people - has not been announced.
¡°As of Tuesday, March 18, 2008 we still have 18 confirmed cases and now have 56 cases that meet the clinical definition for salmonella infection,¡± said Julie Geiser, director of the Alamosa County Nursing Service. ¡°Four persons have been hospitalized in conjunction with the outbreak. We have not yet determined a source for the bacteria.¡± Geiser said the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is assisting local health workers interview those families who have been infected. The interview uses an extensive seven-page questionnaire that is used to find a commonality among those who have been infected.
Rumors have been circulating about where the salmonella came from, said Geiser, but she warned, despite those rumors, that no location has been identified or confirmed as the place where the contamination began. ¡°Clearly these are rumors and we haven¡¯t made a determination,¡± she said.
Salmonella is one of the most common enteric (intestinal) infections in the United States. Salmonellosis (the disease caused by Salmonella) is the second most common form of bacterial foodborne illness after Campylobacter infection. It is estimated that 1.4 million cases of salmonellosis occur each year in the U.S.; 95% of those cases are foodborne-related. Approximately 220 of each 1000 cases result in hospitalization and eight of every 1000 cases result in death. About 500 to 1,000 or 31% of all food-related deaths are caused by Salmonella infections each year. Salmonellosis is more common in the warmer months of the year.

Marler Blog
Salmonella infection occurs when the bacteria are ingested, typically from food derived from infected food-animals, but it can also occur by ingesting the feces of an infected animal or person. Food sources include raw or undercooked eggs/egg products, raw milk or raw milk products, contaminated water, meat and meat products, and poultry. Raw fruits and vegetables contaminated during slicing have been implicated in several foodborne outbreaks.
Reiter¡¯s syndrome is a form of reactive arthritis. It is uncommon but can be a debilitating syndrome that follows a gastrointestinal or genitourinary infection. The most common gastrointestinal bacteria involved are Salmonella, Campylobacter, Yersinia, and Shigella. Reiter¡¯s syndrome is characterized by a triad of arthritis, conjunctivitis, and urethritis, although not all three symptoms occur in all affected individuals (Hill Gaston & Lillicrap, 2003). The reactive arthritis associated with Reiter¡¯s syndrome may develop after a person eats food that has been tainted with bacteria. Although the initial infection may not be recognized, reactive arthritis can still occur. Reactive arthritis typically involves inflammation of one joint (monoarthritis) or four or fewer joints (oligoarthritis), preferentially affecting those of the lower extremities. The pattern of joint involvement is usually asymmetric. Inflammation is common at an enthesis (a places where . and tendons attach to bone), especially the knee and the ankle.

Shiga E. Coli Outbreak, Death Reported in Texas
Date Published: Wednesday, March 12th, 2008
Source of Article:
An outbreak of Shiga E. Coli has officials in Texas working frantically to determine its source. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) issued a health alert after six cases of the serious diarrhea illness broke out in Bastrop County. Health experts say it is unusual to have this many cases of what appeared to be a food borne illness related to the Shiga E. coli toxin in just a few days. In addition to the six illnesses, one child died. Texas¡¯s Lee and Fayette counties have joined Bastrop County in reporting outbreaks of the toxin.
On Friday, a news release issued by the Texas DSHS stated that the, ¡°Results of laboratory tests to identify a specific bacteria are pending. Shiga toxin illnesses are typically food borne. A common source for the illnesses has not been identified.¡± The incubation period ranges from one to eight days, though typically it is three to five days and symptoms are gastrointestinal in nature. The Shiga toxin is rare; the U.S. Health Department says it only sees 100 to 200 cases a year, so the Central Texas outbreak is cause for concern.
Shiga is short for Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, which is a type of enterohemorrhagic?or E. coli?(EHEC) bacteria that can cause illness ranging from mild intestinal disease to severe kidney complications. Other types of enterohemorrhagic E. coli include the common and often deadly E. coli O157:H7 which is quite virulent and produces a powerful toxin that can cause severe illness and even death and is the leading cause of food and waterborne illness in the U.S.
Typical symptoms of Shiga E. coli include severe abdominal cramping; sudden onset of watery diarrhea, frequently bloody; and sometimes vomiting and a low-grade fever. Generally, Shiga E. coli is mild and self-limited, lasting one to three days; however, serious complications such as hemorrhagic colitis, Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), or post-diarrheal thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) can occur in up to 10% of cases. The toxin can also result in death in severe cases.
Cases and outbreaks of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli have been associated with the consumption of undercooked beef (especially ground beef), raw milk, unpasteurized apple juice, contaminated water, red leaf lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, and venison jerky. The Shiga E. coli toxin has also been found in poultry, pork, and lamb. Person-to-person spread, via fecal-oral transmission, may occur in high-risk settings like day care centers and nursing homes. Further studies are being done to better understand the modes of transmission. And, although anyone can become infected with the Shiga toxin, the highest infection rates are in children under age five. The elderly also account for a large number of cases.
In mild cases, antibiotics have not been shown to shorten the duration of symptoms and may actually make the illness more severe in some people. Some severe complications, such as HUS, require hospitalization.
Health officials are warning, if you have severe or bloody diarrhea, go immediately to the hospital. Patients may also experience abdominal cramps.

A nanotechnology biosensor for Salmonella detection Source of Article:
(Nanowerk Spotlight) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has published a handbook called the Bad Bug Book which provides basic facts regarding foodborne pathogenic microorganisms and natural toxins. It contains all you always wanted to know about Salmonella, E. coli, parasitic protozoa, worms, viruses and natural toxins and other stuff that, when it gets in your hamburger, as it does from time to time, can make you pretty sick. It can even kill you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) keep some pretty scary statistics and estimate that foodborne pathogens cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year.
Three pathogens, Salmonella, Listeria, and Toxoplasma, are responsible for 1,500 deaths each year. Salmonella is the most common cause of foodborne deaths and responsible for millions of cases of foodborne illness a year. Sources are raw and undercooked eggs, undercooked poultry and meat, dairy products, seafood, fruits and vegetables - so basically more or less everything you eat. Early detection of foodborne pathogenic bacteria, especially Salmonella, is therefore an important task in microbiological analysis to control food safety. Several methods have been developed in order to detect this pathogen; however, the biggest challenges remain detection speed and sensitivity. A novel nanotechnology-based biosensor is showing great potential for foodborne pathogenic bacteria detection with high accuracy.
"Early detection of foodborne pathogenic bacteria is critical to prevent disease outbreaks and preserve public health" Bosoon Park tells Nanowerk. "Current detection techniques such as ISO method 6579, fluorescent-antibody (FA), enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) are time-consuming, cumbersome, and have limited sensitivity."
Park, an Agricultural Engineer at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was part of a team that included scientists from the University of Georgia and the Korea Food Research Institute and that developed a novel and effective food-borne bacteria detection method.
"Our nanotechnology based biosensor has shown great potentials for protein, virus, and bacteria detection with high sensitivity and high resolution" says Dr. Yiping Zhao, an Associate Professor of physics at the University of Georgia. "This bio-functional hetero-nanorod detection method has great potential in the food safety industry as well as in biomedical diagnostics."
The research team, which also included Dr. Ralph A. Tripp from the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Georgia, fabricated a hetero-structured silicon/gold nanorod array by the glancing angle deposition (or GLAD) thin film method and functionalized it with anti-Salmonella antibodies and organic dye molecules. Due to the high aspect ratio nature of the silicon nanorods, dye molecules attached to the silicon nanorods produce an enhanced fluorescence upon capture and detection of Salmonella.
Left: the fluorescence image of Salmonella sample treated by heterostructured nanorods with antibodies. The intense green spots indicating positive identification were observed. Right: At the same location, under white light, there are also particles and aggregates that can be observed. The particles have two different appearances, i.e gray, thick elongated particles and blue, thin longer particles. From the location and orientation of the particles (left image), it may be concluded that these blue longer particles correspond to the florescence particles, i.e., they are nanorods, while the gray, thicker particles are Salmonella bacteria. (Image: Junxue Fu, University of Georgia)
The group reported their findings in the March 11, 2008 online edition of Nanotechnology (An Au/Si hetero-nanorod-based biosensor for Salmonella detection)
Park explains that traditional microbiological techniques ? such as ISO method 6579 ? for detecting foodborne pathogens take up to five days to obtain a positive result, including pre-enrichment, selective enrichment and confirmation of colonies, which are time-consuming and labor-intensive. Another downside of culture methods is that they show poor sensitivity when there is only a low level of contamination in the samples.
A number of investigators have used the fluorescent-antibody (FA) technique for Salmonella detection. Although FA procedures offer considerable time savings, a large number of the pathogen needs to be present in samples in order to observe detectable fluorescent signals. This usually meant that enrichment culture techniques were required prior to immunofluorescence microscopy. Consequently, the FA procedure for Salmonella detection has not been in routine use.
We have written before about nanotechnology's increasing role in building sensors that can reliably detect foodborne pathogens.
Zhao lists some of these nanotechnology enabled techniques: detections by luminescence using quantum dots; localized surface plasmon resonance of metallic nanoparticles; enhanced fluorescence; dye immobilized nanoparticles; or Raman reporter molecule immobilized metallic nanoparticles.
"All the nanostructures used for the biosensing applications have two characteristics" he says. "First, they contain certain recognition mechanisms specified to the analyte, for example, antibodies or enzymes. Second, they are able to generate a distinguishing signal from the analyte and this signal could be generated by the nanostructures themselves or produced by signaling molecules immobilized or contained in the nanostructures."
Junxue Fu, a graduate student in Zhao's group and the paper's first auhor, points out that for single component nanostructures, it can be difficult to immobilize the recognition molecules and signaling molecules simultaneously. Hetero-nanostructures provide a promising platform to solve this problem. Thus, different functional molecules can be immobilized to the different components of the hetero-nanostructure to enhance selectivity and specificity of detection.
In their experiment, Zhao, Park, Tripp and collaborators managed to capture a single Salmonella bacterium with the antibodies conjugated on the gold and detected by thousands of dye molecules immobilized on the silicon nanorods.
In principle, the protocol developed in this study could be used for detecting other foodborne pathogenic bacteria such as E.coli, Staphylococcus, Campylobacter and food toxins such as Ricin, Abrin, or Clostridium Botulinum if the proper antibody is selected for the conjugation with nanorod substrates. Additionally, the fluorescent detection dye can also be replaced by other types of dyes or potentially quantum dots that may allow for multiplex detection.
This novel nanobiosensor could have broad appeal to the food industry, food safety inspection agencies, government agencies overseeing food safety, and researchers focused on safety and biosecurity research.
By Michael Berger. Copyright 2008 Nanowerk

Ochratoxin Test Approval
Press Release
March 14, 2008, Charm Sciences is pleased to announce the first Lateral Flow Quantitative test to be approved for official testing of Ochratoxin in the U.S national grain inspection system.
The ROSA¢ç Ochratoxin Quantitative kit is the eight Charm mycotoxin test to have received approval from USDA GIPSA (Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration). The ROSA Ochratoxin kit (Rapid One Step Assay) delivers fast, economical, accurate detection for Ochratoxin A in a convenient single strip. It has the flexibility to meet domestic and export requirements with quantitative readings and a detection range from 0 to 12 ppb (10 -150 ppb with dilution).
Following a methanol extraction on wheat, the diluted sample is added to the ROSA OCHRA strip and read after 10 minutes. The ROSA-M reader stores Ochratoxin results electronically for record keeping and reporting. Optional mycoSOFT¢â software delivers flexible and intuitive functionality with customized data trending reports.
The ROSA Ochratoxin lateral flow tests require minimal equipment and user involvement. Multiple samples can be prepared, and tested at the same time. The ROSA Ochratoxin kit uses the same extraction as the GIPSA approved quantitative ROSA methods for aflatoxin and zearalenone. The ROSA Ochratoxin kit shares the same equipment and comparable assay formats as the ROSA methods for aflatoxin, DON, fumonisin and zearalenone.
Ochratoxin is produced by some species of Aspergillus, such as A. ochraceus, mainly in tropical regions and by Penicillium verrucosum in cooler climates. Ochratoxin A is associated with porcine nephropathy and various symptoms in poultry. Ochratoxin is found in wheat, barley, corn, oats, sorghum, soybeans, coffee beans, grapes, and raisins.
Charm Sciences is a world leader in the provision of food safety diagnostics and food safety solutions with a proven track record of innovation and development over the last 30 years. Introduced in 1999, Charm¡¯s ROSA lateral flow tests are now the leading residue diagnostic tests employed by food industry worldwide. The ROSA test portfolio covers the ¡°A to Z¡± in mycotoxins, ranging from Aflatoxin to Zearalenone. Charm Sciences provides award-winning product support and technical assistance.

Charm Sciences, Inc
Telephone: +1.978.687.9200
Fax: +1 (978) 687-9216

Leafy Veggie Contamination Rate Rising
CDC: Leafy Greens Consumption Up 9 Percent, But Related Illness Up 39 Percent
NEW YORK, March 19, 2008 (CBS/AP)
Source of Article:
(CBS) If you've gotten the feeling that there are more contaminated leafy green vegetables out there than there used to be, new numbers from federal researchers suggest you're right. The researchers, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sought to see whether increased outbreaks of food contamination simply reflect the fact that health-conscious Americans are eating more fresh, leafy veggies such as cabbage, spinach and salad greens than they used to, Early Show medical contributor Dr. Emily Senay said Wednesday. But, she says, they found it's apparently more than that.
During the decade that ended in 2005, consumption of leafy greens rose by nine percent, according to the researchers, but outbreaks of food-borne illnesses attributed to those foods increased by what Senay dubs "a dramatic" 39 percent -- more than four times as fast. The CDC investigators aren't sure what's at work here, Senay pointed out to Russ Mitchell, noting, "You can't say it's just that Americans are eating more of this stuff. Something else is going on." It's clear, she continued, that there are plenty of opportunities for food to be contaminated on what can be a long journey from the farm to your kitchen, and even in your kitchen.
The new numbers, Senay observed, show that this problem in the food supply system is growing, and needs solutions.
More than half the outbreaks reported involved a family of viruses called noro-virus, which is often carried by human or animal waste. The next two most common forms of infection came from a pair of well-known forms of food-borne bacteria, salmonella and e-coli.
Over the past 30 years, contaminants in leafy vegetables are blamed for more than 18,000 illnesses, and 15 deaths.
Overall, she says, this is a reminder of how vigilant consumers need to be when purchasing and preparing fresh vegetables.
One problem, says Senay, is that we pretty much can't identify tainted veggies just by looking at them. Of course, if you see any portions of the food that are clearly damaged, the Food and Drug Administration says to cut them off and throw them out.
But veggies can look fine and still be contaminated.
Experts say your best protection is to take everything to a sink, put it under a stream of warm running water, and rinse it out thoroughly -- not just casually -- thoroughly. And don't use soap or detergent to wash it, because the ingredients in soap aren't anything you want to eat, either.
Do a really good job rinsing these vegetables, and you improve your chances of getting the important nutrition they veggies offer -- rather than the contaminants!

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