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4/15
2008
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Salmonella Illnesses in Multiple States may be Linked to Recently Recalled Cereal

Source from FDA
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced that at least 21 people in 13 states have been diagnosed with salmonellosis that was caused by the same strain of Salmonella that was found in the recently recalled unsweetened Puffed Rice and unsweetened Puffed Wheat Cereals produced by Malt-O-Meal.
The recalled products were distributed nationally under the Malt-O-Meal brand name as well as under private label brands including Acme, America's Choice, Food Club, Giant, Hannaford, Jewel, Laura Lynn, Pathmark, Shaw's, ShopRite, Tops and Weis Quality. The cereals have "Best If Used By" dates from April 8, 2008 (coded as "APR0808") through March 18, 2009 (coded as "MAR1809").
Consumers should throw out any product in their homes from these recalled lots. Grocery stores and other retailers should promptly remove the cereals from their shelves.
Salmonella is a type of bacteria that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of foodborne Salmonella infection include nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. In persons with poor health or weakened immune systems, Salmonella can invade the bloodstream and cause life-threatening infections.
Individuals who believe they may have experienced an illness consistent with the symptoms described above after consuming a puffed wheat or puffed rice cereal made by Malt-O-Meal should contact their health care practitioner immediately and report the illness to their state or local health authorities.
On April 5, 2008, Malt-O-Meal voluntarily recalled the cereals because the company¡¯s routine testing found Salmonella in a product produced on March 24, 2008.
The FDA is working with Malt-O-Meal to determine the cause of the contamination and with the states and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify and prevent additional illnesses.A full list of recalled products can be found at www.malt-o-meal.com/recallinfo.

Malt-O-Meal Salmonella Agona Cereal Linked to Maine Illnesses

Posted on April 11, 2008 by Salmonella Attorney
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
Maine has identified three cases of infection with a strain of Salmonella similar to that found in the contaminated cereal, based on preliminary information. The onset of illness dates range from January 22 to March 19. Two of the individuals were hospitalized. . All three reported consumption of unsweetened puffed rice or wheat cereals, but at present it is unknown if the products consumed were part of the current recall. Additional cases of illness in other states are being investigated by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On April 5, 2008 the Malt-O-Meal Company of Minnesota announced a recall of unsweetened puffed rice and unsweetened puffed wheat cereal. In addition to Malt-O-Meal¡¯s own brand, these cereals are sold under multiple labels, including the store brands for Hannaford and Shaw¡¯s Supermarkets. The other brands being recalled are Acme, America¡¯s Choice, Food Club, Giant, Jewel, Laura Lynn, Pathmark, ShopRite, Tops, and Weis Quality. The products recalled include ¡°Best if used by¡± codes between April 8, 2008 (APR0808) and March 18, 2009 (MAR1809).
1998 Malt-O-Meal Salmonella Agona Litigation - Multistate
In 1998, Malt-O-Meal on recalled as much as 3 million pounds of its plain toasted oat cereal after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that it was the likely source of Salmonella food poisoning. At least 17 Washington state children became ill with Salmonella Agona infections, and litigation resulted.
We learned this morning at the Seattle University School of Law Food Safety Seminar that not only is this 2008 outbreak caused by Salmonella Agona - the same serotype in the 1998 outbreak, but also the same PFGE pattern.

Will Malt-O-Meal Release Salmonella Serotype? Why not?
Posted on April 10, 2008 by Salmonella Attorney
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
In 1998, the CDC reported a Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Serotype Agona Infections Linked to Toasted Oats Cereal -- United States, April-May. During April-May 1998, a total of 11 states reported an increase in cases of Salmonella serotype Agona infections; as of June 8, a total of 209 cases have been reported and at least 47 persons have been hospitalized, representing an eightfold increase over the median number of cases reported in those states during 1993-1997. The states reporting increases were Illinois (49 cases), Indiana (30), Ohio (29), New York (24), Missouri (22), Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (15), Iowa (eight), Wisconsin (six), Kansas (four), and West Virginia (two). This report summarizes the outbreak investigation by local, state, and federal public health officials, which implicated Millville brand plain Toasted Oats cereal manufactured by Malt-O-Meal, Inc. as the cause of illness.
Now, once again Malt-O-Meal cereals are recalled. Malt-O-Meal voluntarily recalled its unsweetened Puffed Rice and unsweetened Puffed Wheat Cereals produced with ¡®Best if Used By¡¯ dates ranging from April 8, 2008, to March 18, 2009, because of the potential salmonella contamination. Consumers should check their pantries for Malt-O-Meal, Acme, America¡¯s Choice, Food Club, Giant, Hannaford, Jewel, Laura Lynn, Pathmark, Shaw¡¯s, ShopRite, Tops and Weise Quality Unsweetened Puffed Rice and Wheat Cereals in 6, 12 and 16-ounce bags. A comprehensive listing of affected products is available online at www.malt-o-meal.com/recallinfo.
According to Malt-O-Meal, "there have been no illnesses or injuries reported to date." However, without the release by Malt-to-Meal of the Salmonella serotype, how are we to know that the claim of no illnesses is actually the case?

FDA Announces 23 Ill in 14 States from Malt-O-Meal Salmonella Agona
Posted on April 12, 2008 by Salmonella Lawyer
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced that at least 23 people in 14 states have been diagnosed with salmonellosis that was caused by the same strain of Salmonella that was found in the recently recalled unsweetened Puffed Rice and unsweetened Puffed Wheat Cereals produced by Malt-O-Meal. The recalled products were distributed nationally under the Malt-O-Meal brand name as well as under private label brands including Acme, America's Choice, Food Club, Giant, Hannaford, Jewel, Laura Lynn, Pathmark, Shaw's, ShopRite, Tops and Weis Quality. The cereals have "Best If Used By" dates from April 8, 2008 (coded as "APR0808") through March 18, 2009 (coded as "MAR1809").

CBW Exclusive: USDA accounts for recalled beef
(MEATPOULTRY.com, March 28, 2008) by Steve Kay
Source of Article: http://www.meatnews.com/feature_stories.asp?ArticleID=92379
USDA says it has recovered and accounted for all of the 50 million lbs. of meat that went from Hallmark/Westland Meat Co. into the national school lunch program. This was part of a record 143 million lb. recall instituted after USDA deemed that Westland had put beef from downer cattle into commerce. USDA¡¯s investigation continues into this and the mishandling of cattle at the Hallmark plant. USDA says it will reimburse schools for their loss. Meanwhile, USDA is considering a proposal to name retailers who receive meat and other food products only in a Class 1 recall. USDA¡¯s Food Safety and Inspection Service published a proposed rule two years ago that would allow identity disclosure in all recalls. A final rule is yet to be published. California requires full disclosure. Its list of retailers from the Westland recall is 147 pages long.
For more information, visit Cattle Buyers Weekly (www.cattlebuyersweekly.com).

New guidelines to help food industry communicate safety risk
By Chris Jones Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/
14-Apr-2008 - Britain's Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published new guidelines on how it will communicate with both the food industry and the general public during "food incidents". A food incident is described as "any event where, based on the information available, there are concerns about actual or suspected threats to the safety or quality of food that could require intervention to protect consumers' interests" - meaning essentially contamination of food in the production chain or through environmental pollution.
According to the FSA, the new guidelines set out how the agency will work with all those involved in a food incident - including companies, local authorities and trade associations - "to deliver effective communications and best protect public health".
There have been more than 5,000 food and feed related incidents since the FSA was set up in 2000, the agency said, most of which had been resolved quickly and efficiently through working together with the industry and with local authorities.
But food scares can be devastating for companies, and processors are keen to find the right balance between protecting the public from potentially dangerous products and undermining public confidence in their brand through poor communication.
That is why the FSA has worked closely with a panel representing food processors and retailers, as well as independent experts, to draw up a range of food incident guidelines, including the new protocol on communication.
According to the FSA, the agency's website and the general media (print, broadcast and web) are "the quickest and most effective methods of alerting the greatest number of people" about potential food scares.
But while protecting the public using these mass media channels is the top priority of the agency, it has also pledged not to harm the business of food companies by overstating risk.
"We will explain in straightforward terms what the risk is, what we know about the affected product, and whether there are gaps in our knowledge," the new guidelines say.
"We will be restrained and proportionate in what we say and attempt through our use of language to avoid causing needless concern or worry."
"The agency will also strive to be proportionate when giving detailed information about the substance responsible for the incident and will be conscious of the need to avoid giving unnecessary or irrelevant facts about its effects in other contexts."
The agency will, however, continue to name the companies concerned by potential food scares, "even those who have sold products on in good faith or were unwitting receivers of affected goods" in order to "give people as much information as possible so that they can know who produced the product and where it may have been purchased".
Nonetheless, the FSA says it will continue to work with the companies concerned to draw up the information it communicates to the public about the potential food incident.
"Whenever possible the agency will let the producer, retailer or importer see the information it intends to make public before it does so," the guidelines state, adding that "draft food alerts are circulated to the relevant companies/local authorities for comments on factual accuracy prior to release".
But it adds that "the company and the agency would have been working closely together before the production of any press release and therefore the sign-off process should be reasonably straightforward".
Furthermore, inking its food scare alerts to the websites of the affected companies will "convey to FSA website visitors that the agency has been working with retailers/manufacturers on publicising a particular incident" and give a positive image of the company concerned.
However, it is unclear from the guidelines how much of this communication protocol is actually new - the FSA already works closely with companies to help manage risk (both to the public and to firms' reputations) - or how much of an additional burden this is likely to be on companies involved in food incidents.
The FSA was unavailable for clarification.

Food, Sex, and Salmonella
David Waltner-Toews gets down and dirty
Friday, April 11, 2008
Source of Article: http://www.walrusmagazine.com/
by Nora Underwood
Published in the May 2008 issue.
When you¡¯ve been out for dinner at a fabulous restaurant and hours later you find yourself sweating, shaking, gagging, and heaving over the toilet bowl, you can comfort yourself with one fact: your community the worldwide community of sweating, shaking, gagging heavers is about as large as the population of India. Every year, according to Dr. David Waltner-Toews in his book Food, Sex, and Salmonella, a billion people suffer the often hideous effects of food- and waterborne diseases. Two million of them, mostly young children, die. But does anyone really want to talk about this let alone read an entire book about it With numbers like that, and with this problem growing worse every year, he writes, it¡¯s simply necessary.
¡°There is no such disease as the stomach flu,¡± Waltner-Toews, a veterinarian and epidemiologist who specializes in the illnesses people get from animals, announces early on in the book. In fact, we find out in glorious detail what the culprits really are viruses, bacteria, and parasites, all delivered to us through food and water and why their impact is growing: the international food trade; changes in climate, eating habits, and agricultural practices; overuse of antibacterials. But fortunately, Waltner-Toews¡¯s romp through the gastrointestinal tract is just that. There¡¯s no hysteria or apocalyptic ranting just straight storytelling laced with one-liners that will likely haunt readers. Improperly cooked hamburgers, he writes, ¡°are really just cases of diarrhea and vomiting waiting for stomachs to happen¡±; ¡°drinking bottled water every day is like using a toilet bowl brush to clean your teeth.¡±
The point, though, is not to create fear of food or of eating, but to educate, because food- and water- borne diseases are a fact of life. Learning to eat wisely sticking to locally grown, organic food whenever possible ? is the key. Safe eating doesn¡¯t need to be boring, he insists. But it does mean keeping exotic food to a minimum, because, as with sex, ¡°promiscuity in eating habits and ignorance of eating ¡®partners¡¯ can carry great risks.¡±

Dr. Mom Was Right -- And Wrong -- About Washing Fruits And Vegetables
Source of Article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080410101203.htm
ScienceDaily (Apr. 10, 2008) ? Washing fresh fruits and vegetables before eating may reduce the risk of food poisoning and those awful episodes of vomiting and diarrhea. But according to new research, described today at the 235th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, washing alone -- even with chlorine disinfectants -- may not be enough.

A new study shows that irradiation could be key to removing hard-to-reach pathogens inside fruits and vegetables. (Credit: Courtesy of USDA-Agricultural Research Service, photo by Stephen Ausmus)
Studies show that certain disease-causing microbes are masters at playing hide-and-go seek with such chemical sanitizers. These bacteria can make their way inside the leaves of lettuce, spinach and other vegetables and fruit, where surface treatments cannot reach. In addition, microbes can organize themselves into tightly knit communities called biofilms that coat fruits and vegetables and protect the bacteria from harm. This kind of bacterial community can harbor multiple versions of infectious, disease-causing bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli.
Now, new findings from scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggest that irradiation, a food treatment currently being reviewed by the FDA, can effectively kill internalized pathogens that are beyond the reach of conventional chemical sanitizers.
Irradiation exposes food to a source of electron beams, creating positive and negative charges. It disrupts the genetic material of living cells, inactivating parasites and destroying pathogens and insects in food, including E. coli and Salmonella.
Using this technique on fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables could provide a reliable way to reduce the numbers of foodborne illnesses reported each year in the United States, says Brendan A. Niemira, Ph.D., a microbiologist with the USDA's Agricultural Research service in Wyndmoor, Pa., who directed the study.
"When bacteria are protected -- whether they're inside a leaf or inside a biofilm -- they're not going to be as easy to kill," Niemira says. "This is the first study to look at the use of irradiation on bacteria that reside inside the inner spaces of a leaf or buried within a biofilm."
The quantity of fresh fruits and vegetables in the United States has increased every year in the last decade. Unfortunately, the increase in consumption has been accompanied with an increase in the number of outbreaks and recalls due to contamination with human pathogens such as E. coli. Fresh fruits and vegetables carry the potential risk of contamination because they are generally grown in open fields with potential exposure to pathogens from soil, irrigation water, manure, wildlife or other sources.
"The spinach outbreak in the fall of 2006, in particular, raised questions about how these organisms survived the various treatments that are applied -- the rinses and the washes and things," Niemira says.
At the time, research had already demonstrated that pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli can be drawn into fruits after they've formed, and can migrate into them during fruit growth and maturation if the plant is exposed to them during pollination or in the irrigation water. But questions remained as to whether a penetrating process such as irradiation could kill a pest located inside a leaf.
To see how internalized sources of bacteria responded to various treatments, Niemira and his colleagues devised a way to pull bacteria into the leaves of leafy green vegetables. The scientists cut leaves of romaine lettuce and baby spinach into pieces and submerged them in a cocktail mixture of E. coli. The bacteria was pushed inside the leaves with a vacuum perfusion process. The leaves were then treated with either a three-minute water wash, a three-minute chemical treatment or irradiation.
After treatment, the leaves were suspended in a neutral buffer solution and crushed to recover and count the internalized bacteria. The study showed that washing with plain water was not effective at reducing the levels of the pathogen on either spinach or lettuce. The chemical treatment, a sodium hypochlorite solution, did not result in significant reductions of E. coli cells in spinach leaves, and an gave less than 90 percent reduction of E. coli in the romaine lettuce samples.
Ionizing radiation, in contrast, significantly reduced the pathogen population in both the spinach and the lettuce leaves. The level of kill was dependent on the dose applied, with reductions of 99.99 percent on romaine lettuce and 99.9 percent on spinach at the highest dose tested.
The researchers then conducted lab tests with biofilms to see how well different strains of Salmonella and E. coli, which were buried inside the biofilms, stood up to irradiation.
The biofilms that contained Salmonella tended to die more easily with irradiation, while those that were infected with E. coli were a bit more resistant, Niemira says.
"In the most resistant cases, we saw a difference of a few percent, but it was nothing at all compared to the resistance you might see if you were using a chemical treatment," he says.
The scientists now are conducting studies of biofilms on leafy green vegetables to better gauge how irradiation might work on plants in the field.
Niemira says it's still not clear if human pathogens can actually increase in population within plant tissues, or if they merely persist.
"This is an important question, because if the pathogens don't reproduce effectively within these protected spaces and stay below minimally infective population sizes, then the risk they pose to consumers is less," he says. "If they are able to reproduce inside, then they may increase to more dangerous levels."
Though some activist groups continue to speak against irradiation, consumer confidence in the application has grown steadily through the years as studies have shown its effectiveness in reducing pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses, says Christine Bruhn, Ph.D., who focuses on consumer issues in food safety and quality at the University of California at Davis.
"Sixty to 90 percent of consumers indicate that they would buy irradiated food when told of the benefits of the process and the endorsement of health authorities," Bruhn says.
She and Niemira have submitted a proposal to the USDA to further explore the applications of irradiation in leafy greens and to gauge consumer acceptance of this application.
Adapted from materials provided by American Chemical Society, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Food Poisoning Risk
Friday, Apr 11, 2008
Source of Article: http://www.wmbb.com/
Scientists say washing fruits and vegetables may not be enough to kill disease-causing erms. An E. coli outbreak in spinach in 2006 made more than 100 people sick.
After the outbreak, researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture studied the effectiveness of washing fruits and vegetables. Scientists say the bacteria can hide in vegetable leaves, while others form a protective coating. The scientists pushed E. coli and salmonella into spinach and lettuce, then washed the leaves with a three-minute water wash, gave the leaves a three-minute chemical treatment, and irradiated them.
Researchers found the washing didn't get rid of much bacteria, and the chemical wash only did marginally better. The radiation, on the other hand, killed 99.9 percent of the bacteria.
Other studies show that the level of radiation used is not toxic. The Food and Drug Administration will have to decide whether or not to allow irradiation treatments.

The following was released by the American Chemical Society.
Dr. Mom was right ? and wrong ? about washing fruits and vegetables
NEW ORLEANS, April 10, 2008 ? Washing fresh fruits and vegetables before eating may reduce the risk of food poisoning and those awful episodes of vomiting and diarrhea. But according to new research, described today at the 235th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, washing alone ? even with chlorine disinfectants ? may not be enough.
A new study shows that irradiation could be key to removing hard-to-reach pathogens inside fruits and vegetables.
Studies show that certain disease-causing microbes are masters at playing hide-and-go seek with such chemical sanitizers. These bacteria can make their way inside the leaves of lettuce, spinach and other vegetables and fruit, where surface treatments cannot reach. In addition, microbes can organize themselves into tightly knit communities called biofilms that coat fruits and vegetables and protect the bacteria from harm. This kind of bacterial community can harbor multiple versions of infectious, disease-causing bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli.
Now, new findings from scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggest that irradiation, a food treatment currently being reviewed by the FDA, can effectively kill internalized pathogens that are beyond the reach of conventional chemical sanitizers.
Irradiation exposes food to a source of electron beams, creating positive and negative charges. It disrupts the genetic material of living cells, inactivating parasites and destroying pathogens and insects in food, including E. coli and Salmonella.
Using this technique on fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables could provide a reliable way to reduce the numbers of foodborne illnesses reported each year in the United States, says Brendan A. Niemira, Ph.D., a microbiologist with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service in Wyndmoor, Pa., who directed the study.
¡°When bacteria are protected ? whether they¡¯re inside a leaf or inside a biofilm ? they¡¯re not going to be as easy to kill,¡± Niemira says. ¡°This is the first study to look at the use of irradiation on bacteria that reside inside the inner spaces of a leaf or buried within a biofilm.¡±
The quantity of fresh fruits and vegetables in the United States has increased every year in the last decade. Unfortunately, the increase in consumption has been accompanied with an increase in the number of outbreaks and recalls due to contamination with human pathogens such as E. coli. Fresh fruits and vegetables carry the potential risk of contamination because they are generally grown in open fields with potential exposure to pathogens from soil, irrigation water, manure, wildlife or other sources.
¡°The spinach outbreak in the fall of 2006, in particular, raised questions about how these organisms survived the various treatments that are applied ? the rinses and the washes and things,¡± Niemira says.
At the time, research had already demonstrated that pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli can be drawn into fruits after they've formed, and can migrate into them during fruit growth and maturation if the plant is exposed to them during pollination or in the irrigation water. But questions remained as to whether a penetrating process such as irradiation could kill a pest located inside a leaf.
To see how internalized sources of bacteria responded to various treatments, Niemira and his colleagues devised a way to pull bacteria into the leaves of leafy green vegetables. The scientists cut leaves of romaine lettuce and baby spinach into pieces and submerged them in a cocktail mixture of E. coli. The bacteria was pushed inside the leaves with a vacuum perfusion process. The leaves were then treated with either a three-minute water wash, a three-minute chemical treatment or irradiation.
After treatment, the leaves were suspended in a neutral buffer solution and crushed to recover and count the internalized bacteria. The study showed that washing with plain water was not effective at reducing the levels of the pathogen on either spinach or lettuce. The chemical treatment, a sodium hypochlorite solution, did not result in significant reductions of E. coli cells in spinach leaves, and an gave less than 90 percent reduction of E. coli in the romaine lettuce samples.
Ionizing radiation, in contrast, significantly reduced the pathogen population in both the spinach and the lettuce leaves. The level of kill was dependent on the dose applied, with reductions of 99.99 percent on romaine lettuce and 99.9 percent on spinach at the highest dose tested.
The researchers then conducted lab tests with biofilms to see how well different strains of Salmonella and E. coli, which were buried inside the biofilms, stood up to irradiation.
The biofilms that contained Salmonella tended to die more easily with irradiation, while those that were infected with E. coli were a bit more resistant, Niemira says.
¡°In the most resistant cases, we saw a difference of a few percent, but it was nothing at all compared to the resistance you might see if you were using a chemical treatment,¡± he says.
The scientists now are conducting studies of biofilms on leafy green vegetables to better gauge how irradiation might work on plants in the field.
Niemira says it¡¯s still not clear if human pathogens can actually increase in population within plant tissues, or if they merely persist.
¡°This is an important question, because if the pathogens don't reproduce effectively within these protected spaces and stay below minimally infective population sizes, then the risk they pose to consumers is less,¡± he says. ¡°If they are able to reproduce inside, then they may increase to more dangerous levels.¡±
Though some activist groups continue to speak against irradiation, consumer confidence in the application has grown steadily through the years as studies have shown its effectiveness in reducing pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses, says Christine Bruhn, Ph.D., who focuses on consumer issues in food safety and quality at the University of California at Davis.
¡°Sixty to 90 percent of consumers indicate that they would buy irradiated food when told of the benefits of the process and the endorsement of health authorities,¡± Bruhn says.
She and Niemira have submitted a proposal to the USDA to further explore the applications of irradiation in leafy greens and to gauge consumer acceptance of this application.

Cattle Update: ¡°We Have Met The Enemy¡±
Source of Article: http://www.cattlenetwork.com/content.asp?contentid=212044
The recent beef recall, which was the largest in U.S. history, has made the entire beef/dairy industry take an introspective look at itself. As the Scottish bard, Robert Burns said, ¡°O wad some power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!¡± We have to be concerned with public perception because it affects demand and demand is a major determinant of price. We simply can¡¯t keep handing ammunition to the very people who want to put us out of business. Maybe the cartoon character, Pogo, said it best ¡°We have met the enemy and he is us.¡±
What might happen if we allow people outside of agriculture to make decisions for us? You can ponder the effects of the U.S. ban on horse slaughter. Has it made life better for horses that are now becoming old, debilitated and starving? Is it more ethical to ban slaughter or to permit humane harvest of animals and their use for food? Would it be more ethical to allow this meat to be consumed in third world countries if we don¡¯t want it? What will be banned next?
The videos from the Hallmark/Westland Meat Company in Chino, California gave the industry the proverbial ¡°black-eye¡±. This wasn¡¯t really about food safety. It was a public reaction to animal handling practices which are not defensible and are not characteristic of our industry.
So what went wrong with the slaughter/harvest of those cull cows in California which were nonambulatory (downers)? First of all, we shouldn¡¯t overlook the use of untrained, perhaps uncaring, personnel. The ¡°stars¡± of that video were not what we would have chosen to represent the industry. Yet represent us they did. The workers were not an asset to Hallmark/Westland Meat Co. either.
Hallmark/Westland had 250 employees and sales which totaled $100 million per year. As a result of the recall, it is not expected to reopen and will probably go out of business.
The Humane Slaughter Act of 1958 was enacted to prevent situations like this by using the USDA-Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). After the BSE occurrence in December 2003 (another ¡°downer¡± cow), there was an edict which banned all downer cattle. This was eventually relaxed to allow cattle that were recently injured, perhaps in transit, to be labeled as suspect and re-inspected after harvest. Although well intended, considering the salvage value of cull cows, this left a loop-hole that you could drive a truck through. The result could be not paying enough attention to downers and relying on the post-harvest inspection to catch any food safety problem. This might be enough to safeguard the food supply but, if abused, leaves the industry vulnerable to public perception. The dragging of conscious animals is not defensible and should not be tolerated.
Now, what can we do about the problem? First, everyone must realize that cull dairy cows are beef, too.
Temple Grandin (Animal Welfare Information Center Bulletin Vol. 9, no. 1-2) stated that ¡°about 5 percent of the dairies are responsible for 95%¡± of the occurrences of crippled downer cattle. No one denies the importance of salvage value of cattle but cull dairy and beef cows must be presented for harvest in acceptable physical condition. Market them sooner. For most of us, a short feeding/conditioning period prior to marketing is a viable economic practice which can improve the value of cull cows, especially at weaning time. Safe handling practices are also necessary during shipment.
What do I think will happen in the future? Probably more integration among all phases of the beef/meat industry. The cow-calf, backgrounding, finishing, packing, etc. segments are pretty independent of each other. In my opinion, we will see more alliances which will guarantee that best management practices have been used in animal production. In other words; wholesome, healthy, traceable beef which is produced in environmentally friendly systems and handled humanely in every phase of production. We may have a two-tiered system. On one level we might have premium beef, on the other ? commodity meat. We must have a marketing system that protects us ¡¦ from us.
Source: Dr. Roy Burris, Beef Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky

Top food safety experts meeting to determine why illnesses and recalls from food-borne E. coli have soared.
Source of Article: http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/secretingredients/archives/136123.asp
Federal, corporate and legal experts in food safety are meeting today in Washington, D.C., to try to understand what's behind the soaring number of recalls and illnesses related to beef and other meat tainted with E. coli O157:H7.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service says the last significant positive changes in the reduction of food-borne illness attributed to E. coli occurred early in this decade.
"We have since hit a plateau. It is time for another series of bold, strong moves based on knowledge and science to produce further significant reductions in illnesses attributed to the products we regulate," said Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Richard Raymond. "We aim to prevent and not just respond to illnesses. . ."
Dr. Richard RaymondRaymond, who will be one of dozens of food safety experts speaking at a conference at the Seattle University Law School later this week, said his agency will continue working closely with the meat industry, consumers and the public health community "to ensure food safety."
Much of the focus of today's FSIS hearing will be on the safety of "primal cuts" of meat, the whole carcasses, side and other large cuts that manufacturers sell for butchering and packaging for retail consumption.
Seattle lawyer and food safety expert William Marler was asked to testify before the panel and he agreed that the downturn in illnesses and recalls from 1994 to 2004 was too good to be true. The last half of 2007 showed a substantial increase in the volume of recalls and
illnesses, greater than in any year since 2000, Marler told the panel and reminded them that the amount of ground beef recalled in all of 2006 was 156,235 pounds in only eight recalls. In 2007, over 30 million pounds of meat was recalled in 21 recalls, said Marler, who has represented hundred of people injured or kill by tainted food products.
The theories on the cause of the serious increase abound, he said, and offered a few examples.
Complacency: After five years of progress with the E. coli problem, one wonders if meat processors have consciously or unconsciously slacked off, relaxing their testing procedures so that they are less likely to detect tainted meat.
Better Reporting: When you deal with statistics, there is always some risk that a change in data collection will create false impressions. Perhaps more doctors are more likely to recognize the symptoms of E. coli poisoning, thereby increasing the chances that an outbreak will be detected, and leading to a recall.
Global Warming: Too dry? Too wet? One theory has it that drought through much of the Southeast and Southwest has led to more fecal dust wafting in the breezes through beef-slaughtering plants, creating new avenues for beef to become tainted. Too wet? This theory focuses on excessive rainfall in other regions, which leads to muddy pens that serve as an ideal vehicle for E. coli at meat-processing plants.
Other explanations are just as unusual and include illegal immigration and high oil prices. You might want to check out this link to a copy of the testimony Marler presented at the hearing. Posted by Andrew Schneider at April 8, 2008

Federal Agents Seize Nearly $1.3 Million of Illegal Dietary Supplements
source from FDA
Products alleged to be adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act
At the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, on Wednesday U.S. Marshals seized more than $1,301,712 of dietary supplements from LG Sciences, LLC, of Brighton, Mich., because the products contain unapproved food additives and/or new dietary ingredients that cause the products to violate the law. Labeled as dietary supplements, the products are marketed for use by body builders.
The dietary supplements seized were marketed and distributed on-line and in retail stores under the names "Methyl 1-D," "Methyl 1-D XL," and "Formadrol Extreme XL."
The seized products previously were tested and found to contain one or more unapproved food additives and/or new dietary ingredients for which there is inadequate information to provide reasonable assurance that the ingredients do not present a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury.
"The FDA takes seriously its responsibility to protect Americans from unsafe dietary supplements," said Margaret Glavin, FDA's Associate Commissioner of the Office of Regulatory Affairs. "Wednesday's action shows FDA's commitment to protecting consumers from potentially harmful products."
"Working with the FDA, we are taking prompt civil action to protect the public health by seizing these illegal products and forestalling their shipment into the stream of commerce in any manner that could create harm to the public," said U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Murphy. "I commend the professionalism and swift action of the FDA investigators who discovered and investigated this serious problem, and I am glad our lawyers could provide the legal muscle needed to support the seizure."
FDA has not received scientific information on the safety of the seized products and cannot determine, at this time, whether they represent a hazard to consumers. Therefore, consumers who still have the products should strongly consider discussing the use of these products with their health care professionals. FDA also recommends that consumers consult their health care professionals if they have experienced any adverse events that they suspect are related to the products' use. Consumers and health care professionals can report adverse events to the FDA's MedWatch program at 800-FDA-1088 or online at www.FDA.gov/medwatch/report.htm.

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