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4/02
2008
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Salmonella Illness in Alamosa near 300
Posted on March 29, 2008 by Salmonella Lawyer
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
According to the City of Alamosa¡¯s press release Friday afternoon, Alamosa¡¯s first case of salmonella occurred on March 7. As of noon Friday, there had been 293 total cases reported, 78 confirmed cases and 12 hospitalized. The first bottled water alert was March 19.
A Stage 1 Red Alert remains in effect throughout the city this afternoon as officials anticipate a geographically-phased transition to a Stage 2 notification tomorrow and into Sunday. On Tuesday, high concentrations of chlorine began to be introduced into the water system to help eliminate the bacterial contamination that had been identified previously. Water samples are being taken from a cross-section of sites across the city including the hospital, medical clinics, schools, business areas and neighborhoods. Depending on the site, the samples will be tested for salmonella or other bacteria, plus arsenic, copper, lead and other metals. The samplings will reveal when it is safe to progress to the yellow Stage 2 Alert.
The roughly 8,500 residents of the southern Colorado town won't be able to drink the water until the chemical is washed out. That could take three weeks. Alamosa's water is drawn from a deep well and had been the largest of about 100 water systems in the Colorado that did not require chlorination. City plans called for a new water plant, already being built, to include chlorination even before the salmonella outbreak.

Updated - Salmonella Litchfield Cantaloupe Outbreak sickens 50 in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin
Posted on March 31, 2008 by Salmonella Lawyer
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/

Munching on fresh cantaloupe this morning made me check in on the status of the Salmonella Litchfield outbreak that has sickened 50 across the United States over the last months. Unfortunately, outbreaks tied to cantaloupe have been a far to frequent occurrence. There have been several articles on what consumers can and can not do to protect themselves. I wondered what growers and shippers might be doing. I found this interesting article and great pictures from 2005. Guess we need to do a bit more?

Marler Blog
Simply washing fresh fruits and vegetables may only be marginally effective at removing microbial contaminants, so scientists are investigating new techniques for better processing produce.

Bacteria quickly attach to the surface of fruits and vegetables and form biofilms, a mass of microbes that attach to a surface and to each other by complex sugars. Scientists believe that biofilm coatings may protect bacterial cells from exposure to antimicrobial compounds used to sanitize produce.

Salmonella bacteria are often responsible for produce-related outbreaks of foodborne illness. They're especially tricky to remove from cantaloupe because they attach to inaccessible sites and form biolfim on cantaloupe rind surface, allowing the bacteria to avoid contact with sanitizing solutions. Surviving Salmonella cells can be transferred from the surface of the melon to the internal tissues during cutting prior to consumption.
Now, researchers at the USDA's Agricultural Research Service have gained new insight into Salmonella biofilm formation on various surfaces. They have discovered that to form on plastic or stainless steel, the bacteria must produce hair-like structures--called fimbriae--and cellulose to help the cells to attach and colonize the surface.
In cantaloupe, Salmonella cells attach to the rind and rapidly begin developing biofilm by growing and excreting sugars. This discovery helps explain how Salmonella survives harsh sanitizing environments and could help lead to better sanitization techniques.

Salmonella concerns prompt public health alert
By Tom Johnston on 3/31/2008 for Meatingplace.com
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced Saturday it is issuing a public health alert due to illnesses from salmonella associated with frozen, stuffed raw chicken products that may be contaminated with salmonella.
Frozen raw chicken breast products covered by this alert and similar products may be stuffed or filled, breaded or browned such that they appear to be cooked. These items may be labeled "chicken cordon bleu," "chicken kiev" or chicken breast stuffed with cheese, vegetables or other items.
Products linked to illnesses were produced by Serenade Foods, a Milford, Ind., establishment. Products include "Chicken Breast with Rib Meat Chicken Cordon Bleu" and "Chicken Breast with Rib Meat Buffalo Style" sold under the brand names of "Milford Valley Farms," "Dutch Farms," and "Kirkwood." The individually wrapped, 6-ounce products were produced on Jan. 21, 2008, with a date code of C8021 printed on the side of each package.
Each of these packages bears the establishment number "Est. P-2375" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These specific products were distributed to retail establishments in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin.
This alert was intiated after an investigation and testing conducted by the Minneapolis Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Agriculture determined that there is an association between the products and two illnesses, which were linked through the epidemiological investigation by their PFGE pattern, or DNA fingerprint.
"FSIS is reminding consumers of the crucial importance of following package instructions for frozen, stuffed raw chicken products and general food safety guidelines when handling and preparing raw meat or poultry. It is especially important that these products be cooked in a conventional oven," the agency said. "All poultry products should be cooked to a safe minimum temperature of 165 degrees F as determined by a food thermometer. Using a food thermometer is the only way to know that food has reached a high enough temperature to destroy foodborne bacteria."

Staph Buffett Sickens 137 in Kentucky
Posted on March 28, 2008 by Food Poisoning Attorney
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
According to the Courier Journal, Staphylococcus aureus bacteria may have sickened more than 137 people who ate an Easter buffet at Claudia Sanders Dinner House in Shelbyville, state health officials said today. There is a report of one possible death. Preliminary results from the Kentucky State Lab suggested that Staphylococcus aureus might be the culprit of the food poisoning, although it¡¯s not definitive since it was found in some stool samples and not others.
University of Arizona Food Safety Department has a good definition of Staph Food Poisoning:
Staphylococcal bacteria are very common. They are found in a wide variety of mammals and birds as well as on most surfaces. People are considered to be the main source associated with staphylococcal food poisoning. These bacteria are present in the nose, throat, hair, and skin of healthy persons. They are plentiful in cuts, pimples, and abscesses on people and their pets. Staphylococcus can live in high concentrations of salt and sugar where other bacteria would die. Some strains of Staphylococcus aureus are capable of producing a highly heat stable toxin. Staphylococcus grows best and multiplies rapidly between 68¡Æ and 99¡Æ F. Normal cooking temperatures will not destroy the toxin produced by this bacteria. This is why it is so important to wash your hands and always following good food handling practices when working with food.
Staphylococcal food poisoning results from growth and toxin production in food followed by eating the food containing the toxin. Symptoms of Staphylococcal food-poisoning occur between 1 to 8 hours after eating the contaminated food. This food-borne illness can last for 6 to 24 hours. Complete recovery may take 2 days or longer in severe cases. The most common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping and exhaustion.

Produce Food Safety Discussion Set For April 4
Source of Article: http://www.perishablepundit.com/#3

The recent events surrounding cantaloupes and salmonella, which we have covered both here and here, have reshaped the food safety debate for the whole industry.
Fortunately PMA was sharp enough to add a special food safety seminar to its agenda for its upcoming conference:
PRODUCE FOOD SAFETY LEADERS
FERNANDEZ, WHITAKER AND HORSFALL
TO SPEAK APRIL 4 AT
PMA¡¯S CONSUMER TRENDS ¡¯08
For the first time since they assumed their respective positions, three of the produce industry¡¯s food safety leaders will take the stage together next month before a national industry audience to discuss food safety. Bonnie Fernandez, the new executive director of the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) at the University of California at Davis, and Dr. Robert Whitaker, Produce Marketing Association¡¯s (PMA) new chief scientific officer, will speak April 4 to attendees of PMA¡¯s ¡°Consumer Trends ¡¯08: A Produce Solutions Conference.¡± They will be joined on a panel presentation by Scott Horsfall, who became chief executive officer (CEO) of the Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement (LGMA) in May 2007.
The conference will be held April 3-5 in Newport Beach, California.
¡°Food safety is featured so prominently on consumer trends because it is top of mind these days with buyers, customers and our state and federal regulators,¡± said Markon Cooperative, Inc. President Tim York, who will moderate the conference¡¯s food safety panel. ¡°I encourage every industry member who wants to know what¡¯s going on to attend this session.¡±
The session will explore the latest information on food safety including the challenges facing the industry today and the status of regulatory and legislative developments. Fernandez, Horsfall and Whitaker will also report on produce safety priorities and efforts underway within their respective organizations.
Fernandez became the first director of the new CPS on March 1. She brings to the position a wealth of knowledge and practical experience in agriculture, most recently serving as executive director of the California Wheat Commission. She will guide the center¡¯s efforts to develop workable, science-based solutions to safeguard the nation¡¯s produce supply and strengthen the produce industry. She holds a master¡¯s degree in business administration from California State University, Sacramento, and a bachelor¡¯s degree in agricultural business management from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
CPS was founded in April 2007 at UC Davis¡¯ Western Institute for Food Safety and Security. PMA contributed $2 million to establish the center; Salinas, California-based Taylor Farms contributed an additional $2 million in funds and also pledged $1 million in research already planned by the company. The state of California contributed $500,000.
Whitaker will assume his new position with PMA on April 1. He will direct the creation of PMA¡¯s new science-based programs and services at a time when food safety, traceability, sustainability and other science-based issues are taking immediacy in the produce industry. Whitaker has worked in the produce and agricultural industries since1982. His background includes food safety, security and quality, new product development, product and process innovation, production, operations, research ranging from consumer testing to plant breeding, grower and industry outreach, and planning and training. Whitaker comes to PMA from NewStar Fresh Foods LLC of Salinas, where he served as vice president of the company¡¯s product development and innovation program. He holds Ph.D. and bachelor of science degrees in biology from State University of New York, Binghamton.

LGMA was founded in 2007; Horsfall took over as CEO in May of that year. Prior to joining the agreement, he headed the state¡¯s California Grown program. He previously served as president of the California Kiwifruit Commission, and as vice president of international marketing for the California Table Grape Commission. The marketing agreement represents 120 handlers to date who produce approximately 99 percent of the leafy greens from California; signatories are required to implement and maintain the highest standards of safety in growing and handling spinach, lettuce and other leafy greens. Horsfall holds a master¡¯s degree in international relations from Fresno State University, and a bachelor¡¯s degree in communications from Brigham Young University.
With frequent Pundit contributor Tim York moderating and Bonnie Fernandez and Bob Whitaker making their debuts wearing new hats for the industry, plus Scott Horsfall, who has been at a key place in industry food safety efforts, presenting the LGMA platform, the workshop will be intriguing.
The salmonella/cantaloupe situation has just added a new spin and new urgency. The conference is coming up fast. You can learn more right here.

Illegally Imported or Smuggled Products and Reporting in the Import Alert Tracking System - Click here to view the article-

Researchers working to develop less-allergenic peanut
By Naveen Puppala: Ag Sense March 31 2008 11:04 PM
Source of Article: http://www.cnjonline.com/
Peanuts are the most allergenic food known, capable of triggering severe adverse reactions in sensitized individuals. Around 1.5 million people are allergic to peanuts, and peanut allergies cause as many as 100 deaths each year in the U.S. The number of children having an allergic reaction to peanuts has increased dramatically in the last decade in the U.S. Human allergic reactions have been linked to several different proteins within the peanut. Most of the peanut allergens are seed storage proteins.
Some 20 peanut allergens have been reported.
Currently the only effective way to prevent allergic reactions from occurring is the avoidance of the food containing the peanut allergen. It is highly impractical and difficult to totally avoid food with peanuts because they are widely used as a protein source and are in a variety of processed foods.
It is a growing concern for food producers and regulatory agencies to detect allergens at trace levels and to deliver an allergen-free peanut product.
Research at New Mexico State University, in collaboration with the Human Stress Signal Research Center, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, in Tsukuba, Japan, and the USDA-ARS Cropping System Research Lab and Texas A&M Research Center, both at Lubbock, are collaborating on a project to identify differential levels of allergen protein in mature seeds of four peanut cultivars: New Mexico Valencia C, Tamspan 90, Georgia Green, and NC-7. Allergen Arah3/Arah4 was absent in New Mexico Valencia C and Georgia Green cultivars, while the Tamspan 90 cultivar had the highest levels of the allergen protein. Allergen Arah3/Arah4 appears to cause fewer allergic reactions. In this proposed study, the Tamspan 90 cultivar, along with other genotypes from the Valencia mini core, will be investigated for the presence of various allergen proteins including Arah3/Arah4. Researchers will look for genotypes with abundant Arah3/Arah4 and low levels of major peanut allergens ( Arah1, Arah2 and Arah3) to develop hypo-allergenic peanuts.

Microwave your foods safely
Source of Article: http://www.physorg.com/news126281371.html
For many consumers, microwaving has become the primary method of heating food, providing convenience and time savings. But a food-safety expert in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences says recent outbreaks of foodborne illness have been associated with microwaved foods, and several factors may be responsible.
Martin Bucknavage, food-safety extension associate in the Department of Food Science, points to a Centers for Disease Control report last year that linked 272 salmonellosis cases to the consumption of chicken potpies, many of which were cooked in microwave ovens. "In these cases, it was believed that the microwave cooking process was inadequate or uneven, thereby allowing the Salmonella bacteria to survive and infect the individuals who ate the potpie," Bucknavage said. "Also, the microwave cooking instructions for the potpies may not have taken into account variations that exist in microwave heating. Studies have demonstrated that microwaving does not heat food evenly. Cold spots can exist if the food is not properly rotated or stirred during the heating/cooking process or if the product does not reach a proper internal temperature.
Microwave heating is very different from conventional cooking, he explained. Saturating a food with microwaves causes molecules within the food, such as water, to absorb microwave energy and begin to rotate. The rotating water molecules generate friction as they move past or collide with each other or with other molecules. Heat from molecular action then transfers throughout the food.
"Some believe that microwaving heats food from the inside out, but this is not entirely true," Bucknavage said. "During microwaving, most of the energy is absorbed just below the surface of the food. Heat is then transferred both inward and outward, and several different properties will determine the effectiveness of the heating process. Differences in product moisture and density, thickness of the crust or skin, and the amount of fat, sugar or salt in a food can affect the uniformity of heating by changing how much energy is absorbed and how well the heat is transferred within a food."
Cold spots within the food also can occur as microwaves bouncing around in the oven interfere with one another and cancel each other out, Bucknavage explained. The cancellations keep certain areas of the food from receiving adequate energy, resulting in cold spots.
"Cold spots can be found one inch or so away from heated spots," he said. "To deal with cold spots, microwave oven manufacturers have installed turntables."
Research also has demonstrated that frozen food does not heat as well as defrosted food in microwave ovens. The water molecules in frozen food are immobilized by ice crystals, thereby preventing them from rotating freely, so frozen foods need much more time to heat in a microwave oven than defrosted foods.
While manufacturer¡¯s instructions for microwaving often are listed on the product packaging, there are differences in the wattages of power levels of different makes of microwaves. The oven¡¯s age also can affect its heating ability: As it gets older, its power decreases. Consumers should follow manufacturer¡¯s instructions as a guideline but check the internal temperature of the product to make sure the food is sufficiently heated.
And, not all microwaved food will have the same risk of foodborne illness. "Ready-to-eat items such as microwave popcorn and canned soup pose little health risk," Bucknavage said. "But raw food items such as those containing meat, and partially cooked items such as breaded fish sticks may have pathogenic bacteria associated with them. So, these types of foods must be thoroughly cooked before eating. It is often difficult to tell whether an item is ready-to-eat, partially cooked or raw, so if you¡¯re uncertain, it is best to properly heat the product. While the manufacturers label should provide this information, it may be difficult to discern."
Bucknavage offers the following recommendations for good microwave cooking:
1) Rotate food frequently to help prevent cold spots. If your microwave oven does not have a turntable, be sure to stop the oven during cooking and rotate the food item by 90 degrees every couple of minutes.
2) Stir the food frequently during cooking if possible to help distribute heat throughout the roduct.
3) Let food sit for at least two minutes after microwaving to allow more time for the residual heat to distribute throughout the food.
4) Don¡¯t cut cooking time short. Allow enough time to get the product hot throughout, using manufacturer¡¯s instructions on the packaging as a guide to cooking times. Check temperatures in the food with a properly calibrated thermometer ? product temperature must reach 165 degrees F throughout. Check the temperature in several places to assure that no cold spots exist.
5) Cook large pieces of meat on a lower power for a longer period of time. This allows more time for heat to reach the center.
6) Don¡¯t continue to eat food if the product seems cool; stop and reheat the product to get it to the right temperature.
7) Cover food to keep the product moist; the steam generated will help distribute the heat. Use a container that is manufactured for use in microwave ovens.
Continue cooking immediately after defrosting or precooking food in the microwave. Storing partially cooked food in the refrigerator may allow harmful bacteria to grow within the product. Source: Penn State

Food Safety and Quality Related Job Openings
Quality Assurance Supervisor Charlies Produce Anchorage, AK
Supply Chain Manager - Food Safety - Publix Supermarkets Lakeland, FL
Quality Assurance Technologist - Daymon Worldwide, Inc. - Grand Rapids, MI
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

Food Safety and Quality Related Job Openings

Hepatitis in Idaho and Ohio in the News

Posted on March 28, 2008 by Hepatitis A Attorney
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
Red Feather Lounge Patrons May Have Been Exposed to Hepatitis A

The Boise Health Department is warning Treasure Valley patrons about a confirmed case of Hepatitis A. The warning comes after an employee at the Red Feather Lounge in downtown Boise was found to have the disease. If you had something to eat or drink at the Red Feather between March 12th and the 17th, the health department recommends you get the vaccine. The Central District Health Department has had so many calls about people's potential exposure to Hepatitis A, that they are expanding their immunization clinic hours Wednesday.

Hepatitis-A Linked to Restaurant Worker
The Butler County Health Department urges patrons of a West Chester restaurant to watch for symptoms of Hepatitis A. A worker at the P.F. Chang's China Bistro on Union Centre Boulevard has been diagnosed with the illness. The Butler County Board of Health issued the following release:
Butler County Health Department and the Ohio Department of Health have learned that a food service worker with confirmed Hepatitis A (infectious Hepatitis) worked while ill. Because of the possibility of contamination of ice, persons who have not been previously vaccinated for Hepatitis A and who report consuming ice, beverages with ice, ice cream or lemons or dined between March 14 and March 25, 2008 at this restaurant are recommended to contact their healthcare provider, local public health department or the Butler County Health Department for post-exposure prophylaxis.
People who dined at, consumed ice, beverages with ice, ice cream or lemons from the P.R Chang Restaurant between March 14 and March 25, 2008 should be referred to their healthcare provider, local public health department, or Butler County Department of Health for assessment and potential vaccination with monovalent Hepatitis A vaccine or prophylaxis with immune globulin (IG). The restaurant is located at 9435 Civic Centre Boulevard, West Chester, OH 45069 (off of the Civic Centre exit on Interstate 75 just north of Cincinnati, OH in eastern Butler County).

It seems that hardly a month passes without a warning from a health department somewhere that an infected food handler is the source of yet another potential hepatitis A outbreak. Absent vaccinations of food handlers, combined with an effective and rigorous hand washing policy, there will continue to be more hepatitis A outbreaks. It is time for health departments across the country to require vaccinations of foodservice workers, especially those that serve the very young and the elderly.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 83,000 cases of hepatitis A occur in the United States every year, and that many of these cases are related to food-borne transmission. In 1999, over 10,000 people were hospitalized due to hepatitis A infections and 83 people died. In 2003, 650 people became sickened, 4 died and nearly 10,000 people got Ig shots after eating at a Pennsylvania restaurant. Not only do customers get sick, but businesses lose customers or some simply go out of business.

Salmonella Strains In Humans Distinct From Strains In Animals
Source of Article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080326181848.htm ScienceDaily (Mar. 27, 2008) ? A new study suggests salmonella strains collected from human salamonellosis patients to be distinct from those of animal origin, a finding that could significantly impact the development of treatment methods for foodborne illnesses. Salmonella enterica, one of the most infectious foodborne pathogens inflicting humans today, is commonly transmitted through consumption of meat and food products that have been contaminated with animal waste. Currently over 2,300 types of S. enterica have been identified, and although useful epidemiologically, they provide limited information concerning bacterial diversity, evolutionary relatedness and pathogenicity. Virulence determinants and degree of pathogenicity in a particular animal host are not yet well understood.
In the study researchers tested the virulence capacities of 184 human and animal S. enterica isolates in mice. Results showed that all 21 serovar typhimurium isolates derived from animals were virulent in mice, while only 16 of 41 serovar typhimurium isolates collected from human salmonellosis patients were virulent. In contrast to all animal and human bacteremia samples tested, only 10 of 29 serovar typhimurium isolates from gastroenteritis patients were virulent. Lastly, among the serovar typhimurium isolates harboring virulent Salmonella, 6 of 31 from human salmonellosis patients were avirulent in mice, in direct contrast to the virulence exhibited by all the animal isolates studied.
"These studies suggest that Salmonella isolates derived from human salmonellosis patients are distinct from those of animal origin," say the researchers. "The characterization of these bacterial strain variants may provide insight into their relative pathogenicities as well as into the development of treatment and prophylactic strategies for salmonellosis."
Journal reference: D.M. Heithoff, W.R. Shimp, P.W. Lau, G.Badie, E.Y. Enioutina, R.A. Daynes, B.A. Byrne, J.K. House, M.J. Mahan. 2008. Human Salmonella clinical isolates distinct from those of animal origin. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 74. 6: 1757-1766. Adapted from materials provided by American Society for Microbiology.

Corn-based film could stamp out food-poisoning bacteria
March 30th, 2008 - Source of Article: http://www.thaindian.com/
London, March 30 (ANI): A US scientist has used corn residues to develop a novel packaging film that could destroy Listeria monocytogene, a rod-shaped bacterium that causes food poisoning in animals and humans.
Tony Jin at the US Department of Agriculture in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, has created a biodegradable polylactic acid (PLA) film, from renewable materials such as corn residues.
According to Jin, the film, which contains a natural antimicrobial agent called nisin, can stamp out Listeria and other food-borne bugs.
To test the film, Jin spiked orange juice and egg whites with Listeria, E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella enteriditis, and placed them on the film.
The experiment showed that the corn-based film killed significant numbers of bacteria.
Jin said that he plans to make a nisin/PLA film for wrapping meats and a liner to coat the insides of drinks containers. He further revealed that he is also testing another film made from nisin and pectin, better known for thickening jams and jellies. Listeria monocytogenes causes Listeriosis, a rare bacterial infection that occurs primarily in newborn infants, elderly patients, and patients who are immunocompromised.
The study is published in the Journal of Food Science. (ANI)

Kansas Man's Death Confirmed to Be Caused by Mad Cow-Related Disease, Brother Says
Friday, March 28, 2008
Source of Article: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,342651,00.html
Monument, Kan. A Kansas man who died in January had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is related to mad cow disease, his brother told The Wichita Eagle. Frank Rebarchek of Scott City, Kan. said the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center had confirmed that the rare disease, which turns brain tissue spongy, caused the death of his brother Milton Eugene Rebarchek of Monument, Kan. "They don't know where he got it, but they're trying to figure it out," he told the newspaper. The disease's incubation period is years, even decades, and its presence can't be confirmed until brain tissue is tested. It is always fatal, the report said.
Milton Eugene Rebarchek had worked at a packing plant about 15 or 20 years ago, his brother said. One variation of the disease is mad cow disease. The human form has never been seen in the United States in someone who hadn't had exposure elsewhere, according to the report.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob can come from blood transfusions and can be hereditary in very rare cases. On average, 250 to 300 cases are reported in the United States.

BAX¢ç System 8-Hour Assay for Detecting Listeria Certified by AOAC-RI

A new BAX¢ç system assay from DuPont Qualicon that uses innovative technology for rapid Listeria detection has been certified as Performance Testedsm Method No. 030801 by the AOAC Research Institute (AOAC-RI) of Gaithersburg, Md.

Validation studies compared BAX¢ç system performance to the standard culture method used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. AOAC-RI found that the automated BAX¢ç system performed significantly better than the culture method for detecting Listeria on stainless steel surfaces. Moreover, by using advanced technology called reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to jump-start the reaction, results are available just eight hours after sampling.
'When we introduced this application of RT-PCR to Listeria testing, we knew that it was exceptional in terms of speed and sensitivity,' said Kevin Huttman, president -- DuPont Qualicon. 'We are very pleased to now offer the first assay of its kind that is certified by AOAC-RI.'
Food processing companies around the world rely on the BAX¢ç system to detect pathogens or other organisms in raw ingredients, finished products and environmental samples. The automated system uses leading-edge technology, including polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays, tableted reagents and optimized media, to also detect Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli O157:H7, Enterobacter sakazakii, Campylobacter and Staphylococcus aureus. 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.
DuPont is a science-based products and services company. Founded in 1802, DuPont puts science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, healthier life for people everywhere. Operating in more than 70 countries, DuPont offers a wide range of innovative products and services for markets including agriculture and food; building and construction; communications; and transportation.
The DuPont Oval, DuPont¢â, The miracles of science¢â, and BAX¢ç are registered trademarks or trademarks of DuPont or its affiliates.

Congress pushes for more irradiation approvals; Feedstuffs; By Sally Schuff (March 24, 2008)
Food Irradiation Update (April 2008)
Recent outbreaks spur interest in "kill step; Dr. Sundlof predicts decision on leafy greens by October:
A House of Representatives subcommittee, which now has held six hearings aimed at investigating the effectiveness of the U.S. food safety system, has turned its attention to food irradiation as a method to eliminate pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses.
House oversight and investigations subcommittee chairman Rep. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.) said the series of hearings had prompted "concerns about the safety of the nation's food supply. It is necessary to utilize more technology to make our food supply safe." During the hearing, leaders of the subcommittee criticized the Food & Drug Administration's delay in acting on a petition filed eight years ago that would allow irradiation for pathogen reduction on fruits and vegetables and other ready-to-eat foods.
Former head of FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine Dr. Stephen Sundlof, who was named last year to head FDA's Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition, was called on to defend FDA's inaction. In opening the March 12 hearing, Stupak noted, "Proponents of food irradiation believe it is a safe and effective technology that can guarantee the safety of food. Some claim irradiation is the only sensible 'kill step' for leafy greens and meats."
Referring to the fifth hearing in the subcommittee's series, Stupak said the president of Dole Foods had testified that irradiation "was not workable and harmed fresh produce. Rep. John Shimkus (R., Ill.), the subcommittee's ranking Republican, noted that he was interested in "how this kill step could be added in food processing technology to improve food safety."
The subcommittee is part of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce, which has jurisdiction on FDA and, as such, launched the hearings to examine possible legislation on food safety. Shimkus reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture model of having food inspectors present in processing plants might serve as "an archetype for FDA, but because of more than 60 recent meat recalls and increased reports of Escherichia coli O157:H7, committee staffers are beginning to question whether or not the inspector-based food safety model works as well as previously thought.
"Does the presence of a meat inspector at every plant actually decrease the likelihood of the presence of these pathogens in a finished product?" Shimkus asked. "If the inspectors cannot see the pathogens, what good does the physical inspection of these products do? Would the inclusion of a kill step like irradiation and more end-product testing be a better use of our limited resources?" he continued.
The subcommittee called on two witnesses: Dr. Dennis Olson, an Iowa State University irradiation expert, and Daniel Wegman, the president of a high-end grocery chain whose stores have featured labeled, irradiated ground beef, along with an educational program to answer shoppers' questions about the technology. Olson, a professor who commissioned the first electron-beam facility at Iowa State in 1993, testified that irradiation is the kill step to prevent foodborne pathogens such as E. coli O157, salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes. He cited testimony at the subcommittee's earlier hearings from food industry executives that they lacked such a step. "Those assertions are simply not true," he said.
Citing studies by the U.S. Army Surgeon General, the World Health Organization and Codex Alimentarius attesting to the safety of irradiation, Olson called on Congress and food safety agencies to push for approval of irradiation for all foods. "Approved uses of irradiation need to be expanded. Regulatory agencies and public health professionals need to actively engage with consumers to educate them about the benefits of the technology," he wrote in his testimony. "Labeling requirements, if needed, should be informative, not alarming."
Olson continued, "I am convinced that food irradiation should be, and ultimately will be, broadly used in the food industry. As that occurs, food irradiation will become one of the pillars of public health, along with chlorination of water, pasteurization of milk and juices and vaccination in the prevention of illness." Olson passed out bags of irradiated, bagged
salad during the hearing to demonstrate its condition. He testified that while FDA approved its use for insect control and shelf-life extension, irradiation is not approved for pathogen reduction.
"That approval should have been granted years ago," he said. Petitions to both FDA and USDA remain "pending" after eight years, even though they were submitted under the expedited review process, he noted.
So far, only ground beef has adequate approvals from the two agencies, and while it is available in markets "in limited amounts," he noted, "none of the major ground beef producers market an irradiated product."
Under questioning during the hearing, Sundlof said the original 1999 petition "involved virtually all foods. ... We took the approach that we would evaluate that petition and look at foods."
During that process, Sundlof said FDA discovered "that in certain foods, the process of irradiation did result in the production of furans, which are cancer-causing chemicals.
"Our approach now is that we are looking at specific types of foods under that petition. The one of highest importance now is leafy green vegetables. It is our number-one priority to get that out," he said.
"We will complete our review ... certainly this fiscal year," Sundlof noted, "and we'll try to do much better than that." When asked if irradiation was safe for leafy greens, he said FDA had found that it would create just "minimal furans." However, he said, finding the furans accounted for the delay.
When asked why many other countries allowed irradiation, which was found safe by WHO and Codex, Sundlof replied, "I don't believe (information on furans) was available to those international organizations when they made their decision."
Next, Wegman, who also chairs the Food Marketing Institute's food safety task force, discussed his company's experience with introducing irradiated ground beef, which is clearly labeled as "irradiated" as part of the company's policy of being up-front with its customers.
Wegman's began successfully marketing irradiated, fresh ground beef in May 2002, he testified. The effort was accompanied by an employee and consumer education program. Market share for the irradiated product reached 5% of the chain's total ground beef sales "and even as high as 10% when the product was aggressively promoted," he noted.
However, "in January 2004, our irradiated fresh ground beef was discontinued following the closing of SureBeam, the irradiation provider," Wegman explained, even though it had developed "a faithful following."
"We received communications from our customers asking that we find an alternative irradiation supplier and reintroduce the product," he added. Wegman's did so in August 2006. Currently, however, the product sells at a 30- to 40-cent premium to non-irradiated beef, in part because of transportation costs to the irradiation facility, and equals "approximately 1% of total sales. While this is lower than the 5-10% penetration previously achieved, it is increasing," Wegman said.
He testified, "Our irradiated fresh ground beef goes through all of the same in-plant interventions as our non-irradiated ground beef. This includes steam vacuums, organic acid washes and carcass steam pasteurization. In addition, the product is tested negative for E. coli O157 prior to irradiation, so the irradiation is an additional step for safety."
Wegman noted, "When a minimum pathogen reduction is achieved by irradiation, the word 'pasteurization' should be used in labeling to clearly communicate the benefits of irradiation to consumers."
He concluded, "The list of products approved for irradiation should be expanded to include ready-to-eat foods, especially fruits and vegetables."

Study Shows Flies Can Pass Salmonella to Chickens
Scientists say the common house fly is a threat to safety of poultry products.
31 March 2008
Source of Article: http://www.voanews.com/specialenglish/2008-03-31-voa2.cfm
This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
Scientists say flies can spread bacteria in hen houses
The common housefly is unwelcome around food because flies can carry disease-causing germs. Now, scientists have shown that the insects can also spread food poisoning bacteria to chickens in poultry houses. As a result, they say flies are a threat to the safety of poultry products.
Peter Holt and Christopher Geden of the United States Department of Agriculture did a study with Salmonella bacteria. Chickens infected with Salmonella do not get sick, but they can pass the infection to humans through undercooked meat or eggs.
Cases can be mild or severe, or even deadly. The greatest risk is to the old and very young and to people with weak immune systems.
The researchers investigated whether infected hens could pass the infection to flies. They also investigated whether those flies could then infect healthy chickens. The research was described last month in the Agriculture Department magazine Agricultural Research.
Peter Holt put uninfected chickens in individual laying cages next to each other in a room. Then Christopher Geden brought in young flies two days away from becoming flying adults. He placed them in an open box in the room with the chickens.
Three days later, the chickens were given Salmonella in their drinking water and became infected. Soon, about half the house flies had Salmonella in and on their bodies. The scientists used a dissecting microscope to cut the insects apart for study. The number of flies with Salmonella stayed at fifty percent or more for several days.
Next, the researchers placed the newly infected flies near healthy, uninfected hens. The scientists observed that just being near the infected flies did not infect the hens. But many of the hens did get infected when they ate the flies.
The bacteria grew in the intestines of close to forty percent of the birds. The crop, a small part in the digestive system that stores predigested food, was mostly free of Salmonella.
Peter Holt says there is much more to learn about the relationship between Salmonella, flies and poultry. But he says the study shows that growers need to be especially careful to control flies. The findings show that Salmonella bacteria may not spread around the henhouse by simple physical contact. Instead, eating infected flies seems to be the main way for Salmonella to pass from flies to birds.
And that¡¯s the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. Transcripts and MP3s of our reports are at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.

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