Comprehensive News List
General Food Safety News/ Outbreak News/ Recall News/ New Methods News/
News/ On-Line Slides/ Job Information/Internet Journal of Food Safety



Main Page


To subscribe this Food Safety Newsletter,
Click here

On-Line Slides


Sponsorship Q/A

JOb Openings

05/19. Quality Assurance Manager - Bronx, NY
05/19. Acct Mgr, Produce Food Safety Services - Monterey, CA
05/19. Consumer Safety Inspector - Pawtucket, RI
05/19. Auditor, Produce Food Safety - Watsonville, CA
05/19. Group Manager Food Safety - Minneapolis, MN

05/16. QA - Food Manufacturing - OH-Cleveland
05/16. Sr. QA Mgr Microbiology and Food Safety - Arden Hills, MN

05/15. QC Microbiology Lab Assistant - Gig Harbor, WA
05/15. DIRECTOR, FOOD SAFETY - CA-Central Coast
05/15. Shellfish Specialist - Salem, OR
05/15. Quality Management Specialist - Food Safety - GA-Atlanta
05/15. Food Safety QA Coach - Oklahoma

What is FSIS Really Thinking?

Posted on May 22, 2008 by E. coli Attorney
Source of Article:
I read with some level of concern that ¡°FSIS Issues Public Health Alert For Beef Products Due To Possible E. Coli O157:H7 Contamination¡± which wound up in my inbox this morning: The U.S. Department of Agriculture¡¯s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert [not a recall] for approximately 808 pounds of ground beef products produced at Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., a Lexington, Neb., establishment that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. Here is the interesting part:
Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., (EST. 245L), sold chubs of 85% lean, 15% fat coarse ground beef to Sherm¡¯s Food-4-Less retail establishment in Medford, Oregon, who then processed this ground beef into various sized packages of ground beef products and sold to consumers between May 7 and May 19.
FSIS is issuing a public health alert rather than a recall because FSIS has confirmed that none of the affected products remain available for sale at this retail establishment. Consumers that may have purchased various sized packages of ground beef products at this retail establishment between May 7 and May 19 are urged to check their refrigerators and freezers and discard or return the ground beef products for a refund.
An alert, but not a recall, and only focusing on product from Tysons sent to Sherm¡¯s Food-4-Less? What about other grinders or other retail establishments that received the same product from Tysons?
The alert in fact says:
The problem was discovered after a microbiological test for E. coli O157:H7 was reported positive by another recipient of the product subject to this alert.
Why no alert or recall for that recipient? How many recipients are there? Where is the transparency?

USDA Issues Health Alert for 800 Pounds of Ground Beef; Notice affects product sold by a Medford, Oregon store
WEBWIRE Thursday, May 22, 2008
The U.S. Department of Agriculture¡¯s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a public health alert for 808 pounds of ground beef produced by Tyson Fresh Meats and sold by a Medford, Oregon, grocery store. A sample of the product, which was produced by the Tyson plant in Lexington, Nebraska, was analyzed in distribution and found to contain E. coli O157:H7.
There have been no reports of illness associated with consumption of this product. There is also no danger to consumers as long as this, or any other ground beef product, is properly handled and cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160¡Æ F. However, this health alert is being issued out of an abundance of caution.
The Tyson-produced 85/15 coarse ground beef involved in the alert was further processed, packaged and sold by Sherm¡¯s Food-4-Less in Medford. The product had a Use By/Sell By date of May 19.
USDA has issued a public health alert rather than a recall because it has confirmed none of the affected products remain available for sale at the store. Consumers who may have bought various sized packages of ground beef at this store between May 7 and May 19 are encouraged to check their refrigerators and freezers and discard or return the product for a refund.

E. coli concerns prompt Tyson beef health alert
By Lisa M. Keefe on 5/22/2008 for

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service on Wednesday issued a public health alert for 808 pounds of ground beef products made by Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. in Lexington, Neb. The beef may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.
The product, chubs of 85 percent lean, 15 percent fat coarse ground beef, was sold to Sherm's Food-4-Less retail locations in Medford, Ore., which then processed it into various sized packages of ground beef products. They were sold to consumers between May 7 and May 19.
The problem was discovered after a microbiological test for E. coli O157:H7 was reported positive by another recipient of the product subject to this alert. FSIS has received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of this product.
FSIS is issuing a public health alert rather than a recall because the agency has confirmed that none of the affected products remain available for sale. Consumers that may have purchased the product are being urged to check their refrigerators and freezers and discard or return the ground beef products for a refund.

Acrylamide Questions and Answers (by FDA)
Acrylamide Questions and Answers (by FDA)

FSIS releases compliance guideline for salmonella and campylobacter
By Alicia Karapetian on 5/21/2008 for
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service has posted the second edition of the compliance guideline for salmonella and has added guidelines for controlling campylobacter. The second edition also includes updates on implementing the salmonella verification program, information on controlling salmonella pre-harvest, updates on current research conducted by FSIS and the Agricultural Research Service and more. To view the document, click here

Foodborne Pathogen Finds Resistance to Antibiotic
Wed 21-May-2008
Source of Article:
Food Safety Consortium research at the University of Arkansas shows that Campylobacter jejuni in poultry was becoming resistant to ciprofloxacin, a synthetic antibiotic used by humans to fight bacterial infections. Newswise Recent studies have shown a connection between people who became infected with Campylobacter jejuni, a pathogen found in poultry, and their contact with certain chicken products that contained the pathogen. It also turned out that the Campylobacter jejuni from those products was becoming resistant to ciprofloxacin, a synthetic antibiotic used by humans to fight bacterial infections. The prevalence of Campylobacter which is a major cause of foodborne illness is common on raw poultry. Of these bacteria only Campylobacter jejuni is predominantly pathogenic to humans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends thorough cooking of poultry as a safeguard against pathogenic contamination.
The situation prompted Food Safety Consortium scientists at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture to examine raw chicken carcasses purchased in two Fayetteville, Ark., grocery stores each week for nearly a year.
After examining the 392 chicken carcasses, they found that 85 percent of the chickens purchased from one store had countable levels of Campylobacter (including its non-pathogenic species), with 27 percent of it resistant to ciprofloxacin. At the other store, 46 percent of the carcasses had detectable Campylobacter and 6 percent of that was resistant to ciprofloxacin.
Ramakrishna Nannapaneni, who conducted the research while at Arkansas as a food science post-doctoral associate, said that ciprofloxacin has never been used in animals. However, it is closely related to two other antibiotics, enrofloxacin and sarafloxacin, which were previously approved for usage in poultry between 1995 and 2000 before they were banned on Sept. 12, 2005.
¡°When Campylobacter became resistant to enrofloxacin or sarafloxacin, it also showed cross-resistance to other fluoroquinolones (a group of antibiotics), such as in human medicine against ciprofloxacin,¡± said Nannapaneni, now an assistant professor of food science at Mississippi State University.
The results showed a variance in the levels of Campylobacter between the two stores and also the levels of resistance to ciprofloxacin, with one store having markedly lower numbers in each category. Nannapaneni said the difference could be because of variations in packing and storage conditions at the two stores or differences in management of the poultry before harvesting. ¡°There is a clear need for monitoring the persistence and quantitative reduction of the total antibiotic-resistant Campylobacter loads in the food chain, particularly on raw animal food products, in efforts to control human campylobacteriosis,¡± Nannapaneni said.

USDA to ban downer cattle slaughter

By Janie Gabbett on 5/20/2008 for
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer on Tuesday announced his intention to ban slaughter of cattle at federally inspected facilities that go down after initial inspection.
"Today I am announcing that USDA will begin working on a proposed rule to prohibit the slaughter of all disabled non-ambulatory cattle, also known as 'downer cattle.' In other words, I am calling for the end of the exceptions in the so called 'downer rule,'" Schafer said in a statement. Under current regulations, a downed cow can still be slaughtered if a USDA inspector reassesses the animal and determines it is still safe for consumption. An example would be an animal that tripped and broke a limb, rather than fell due to illness. The rule became controversial after USDA recalled 143 million pounds of beef in the wake of video that showed downed cattle at Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co. seemingly headed to slaughter without re-inspection. Schafer said the current rule has been "challenging to communicate and has, at times, been confusing to consumers." He characterized Tuesday's decision as a way to simplify the issue and positively impact humane cattle handling by reducing the incentive to send marginally weakened cattle to market.

Schafer minimized the impact of the decision on slaughter facilities, noting that last year, of the nearly 34 million slaughtered cattle, fewer than 1,000 cattle that were re-inspected were actually approved by the veterinarian for slaughter.
"This represents less than 0.003 percent of cattle slaughtered annually. As you can see, this number is minimal," said Schafer.
The decision comes at the end of a 60-day enhanced surveillance period when USDA inspectors were instructed to spend 50 percent to 100 percent more time verifying and documenting humane handling practices at federally inspected plants. Schafer said USDA is still analyzing those results.
The American Meat Institute, which along with the National Meat Association and the National Milk Producers Federation had petitioned USDA in April requesting this move applauded today's action. The Humane Society of the United States, which was responsible for video taping animal abuse at Hallmark/Westland, also praised the move.

Canada's food safety ranking surprises researchers
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 21, 2008 | 12:20 PM ET
By Sharon Oosthoek CBC News
Source of Article:
Canada ranks fifth for food safety in a survey comparing 17 industrial countries, says a University of Regina study released Wednesday.
The study's authors, marketing professor Sylvain Charlebois and microbiology professor Chris Yost, say they were surprised to learn that Canada's food safety systems are among the most thorough and effective in the world.
"I was expecting Canada to be deemed an average country," said Charlebois.
"I've been studying food safety practices in our country awhile and I've been quite critical, especially with respect to mad cow. But when you compare Canada to other countries, it's quite good."
The report ranks Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries based on 45 indicators, including hygiene practices, ability to contain risks, recalls and traceability.
The top ranking went to the United Kingdom, a country that has suffered from two recent and significant food scares ? mad cow disease and foot and mouth disease.
Japan ranked second, followed by Denmark, Australia and Canada. Ireland came out on the bottom of the list, just below Belgium and France.
The researchers say Canada got most of its brownie points for its system of inspections of food imports, restaurants, food retailers, distributors and processors. It also has an effective system for food recalls and educating consumers about food safety.
Canada fell down in its ability to trace food across the supply chain. "Consumers should care about this," said Charlebois. "If there's a recall of a food in a grocery store, it's super important to trace back that food to its source of origin."
Canada also fell down in labelling, including labelling for food allergies, and in its significant use of pesticides.
"The more a country uses pesticides, the less likely food will be safe for consumers," said Charlebois, calling for more research into safe substitutes for pesticides.
The researchers noted there was very little correlation between a country's wealth and its ranking, pointing out the wealthiest country in the world, the United States, ranked seventh. Charlebois and Yost say they hope their food safety report card will become an annual publication.

E. coli Also a Presence Among Swine
Wed 21-May-2008
Source of Article:
E. coli O157:H7 is generally associated with cattle, but Fod Safety Consortium researchers at Iowa State University have found that it can be transmitted among swine, even when there is no direct contact between them.
Newswise E. coli O157:H7, an organism that causes gastrointestinal disease in humans, is generally associated with cattle. But it can also be recovered from swine to a lesser extent. Recent research at Iowa State University revealed that the pathogen can be transmitted through the air among swine, even when there is no direct contact between them.
Nancy Cornick, an ISU associate professor of veterinary microbiology who has researched the issue for the Food Safety Consortium, has previously shown that uninfected pigs sharing pens with infected pigs could also become infected. In the more recent research, it appeared that transmission of the organism could be accomplished through the air even when infected pigs were separated from uninfected pigs.
¡°In this study, some of the aerosols could be from hosing the pen, although we scrape the pens first before we hose them,¡± Cornick explained. ¡°One of the air samples was taken 24 hours after the pens had been cleaned.¡± That suggests infectious aerosols may remain suspended for at least that long or that the pigs themselves may be creating aerosolized E. coli. ¡°What it says to me is that if the organism is in the environment with the pig, it¡¯s very easily transmitted and the infectious dose is very low,¡± Cornick said.
Cornick had also performed a similar experiment with sheep and found that E. coli wasn¡¯t transmitted as easily as in pigs. Other experiments have also shown that E. coli O157:H7 can establish and maintain a population in some pigs¡¯ intestinal tracts for at least two months, indicating that the bacterium can colonize swine. The incidence of the pathogen in swine remains small but worthy of notice.
Cornick noted that one U.S. slaughter facility recovered E. coli O157:H7 in 2 percent of its pigs, and the bacterium has also been recovered from healthy swine in Japan, Chile, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
Cornick seeks to follow up the swine research by performing the same experiments with cattle, which are considered the major reservoir of E. coli O157:H7.

New study to track food-borne infections
Mary Anne Kenny
Source of Article:
A new collaborative study being carried out by safefood with the UK Food Standards Agency, will be the first in the world to use DNA methods to comprehensively estimate the prevalence of food-borne infections. The study was launched at the All-Island Infectious Intestinal Disease Conference, which took place in Clontarf Castle, Dublin last week. The study, which will be carried out by the Irish College of General Practitioners here, will be carried out in tandem with the UK study. It will follow up samples of the population for one year to identify all cases and causes of gastrointestinal infection. This task will involve GP practice nurses keeping in weekly contact with 100 patients in each of the 30 sample practices on this island included in the study.
The risks associated with different infectious agents and the consumption of different foods can then be estimated.
Posted in Public Health on 21 May 2008

Food allergies: rare but risky
By FDA May 21, 2008 - 11:58:17 AM
U. S. Food and Drug Administration FDA Consumer
May 1994; Updated December 2004 Source of Article:
Do you start itching whenever you eat peanuts? Does seafood cause your stomach to churn? Symptoms like these cause millions of Americans to suspect they have a food allergy. But true food allergies affect a relatively small percentage of people: Experts estimate that only 2 percent of adults, and from 2 to 8 percent of children, are truly allergic to certain foods. Food allergy is different from food intolerance, and the term is sometimes used in a vague, all-encompassing way, muddying the waters for people who want to understand what a real food allergy is.
"Many people who have a complaint, an illness, or some discomfort attribute it to something they have eaten. Because in this country we eat almost all the time, people tend to draw false associations between food and illness," says Dean Metcalfe, M.D., head of the Mast Cell and Physiology Section at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The difference between an allergy and an intolerance is how the body handles the offending food. In a true food allergy, the body's immune system recognizes a reaction-provoking substance, or allergen, in the food--usually a protein--as foreign and produces antibodies to halt the "invasion." As the battle rages, symptoms appear throughout the body. The most common sites are the mouth (swelling of the lips), digestive tract (stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea), skin (hives, rashes or eczema), and the airways (wheezing or breathing problems). People with allergies must avoid the offending foods altogether. more detailed information

E. coli Outbreak in New Jersey?
Posted : Thu, 22 May 2008 18:10:27 GMT
Source of Article:
Public Health Agency's Community Health Surveillance System Detects Emerging Pattern NORTH BERGEN, N.J., May 22
NORTH BERGEN, N.J., May 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Over the course of two hours on a recent Friday, 20 people arrived, one by one, for emergency care at the Palisades Medical Center here. Each separately complained of various gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea and diarrhea.
A coincidence Or the harbinger of a brewing epidemic, potentially threatening a larger swath of the Garden State
Fortunately, the onslaught of patients was actually part of a disaster drill conducted by the medical facility that also involved the Hudson Regional Health Commission, the public health agency serving parts of Northern New Jersey. The purported scenario was an E. coli outbreak at a local restaurant, and the patients were actually volunteers from a nearby high school pretending to be ill.
One goal of the emergency preparedness exercise was to give the medical facility and the regional public health agency experience using EpiCenter(TM), a community health surveillance system recently introduced by health data management specialists Health Monitoring Systems ( and adopted by the Hudson Regional Health Commission and other public health agencies across the country. The EpiCenter system collects electronic data in real time from healthcare-providing organizations, such as hospital emergency department registrations, and then processes the information through advanced analytical techniques to identify unusual patterns emerging.
That early warning of developing threats to public health can give public health professionals a valuable head start in recognizing and managing disease spread and epidemic outbreaks, as well as possible bioterrorism, a surge in criminal assaults and even tainted street drugs.
In the North Bergen emergency preparedness exercise, EpiCenter's built-in statistical tools were able to detect an unusual pattern of gastrointestinal cases developing. The system issued notifications of a possible E. coli outbreak to the appropriate regional public health watchdogs, who in turn contacted the medical center.
"Drills are an important part of our ability to be prepared for a range of emergencies that might come up," said Carrie Nawrocki, Hudson Regional Health Commission epidemiologist. "It is crucial that we are alerted quickly when unusual events occur so we can take the right steps to manage the outbreak, including working with local health departments and notifying other hospitals in the region."
Added Nawrocki, "Some hospitals might have difficulty recognizing patterns of incoming patient complaints. That's quite understandable given the activity level in emergency departments, especially on a very busy day like our drill. We need a reliable tool to see emerging problems, and that's why EpiCenter is so critical to us. We were delighted with how EpiCenter performed -- exactly as desired."
The actual processing of the test data was handled on a parallel version of EpiCenter set up specifically for the drill by Health Monitoring Systems.
Doreen McSharry, Palisades Medical Center's safety and infection control director, and Howard Wassinger from the Center's IT department, planned the drill.
McSharry noted that the "exercise not only tested our ability to recognize a potential outbreak, but also our capability to manage an unusually large influx of potentially infectious patients. Exercises of this nature are performed every year at hospitals and medical facilities throughout the country in accordance with Joint Commission standards. We were pleased to work with Health Monitoring Systems on this year's drill."
Steve DeFrancesco, Health Monitoring chief information officer, added that as the open source EpiCenter is being used by increasing numbers of public health agencies, Health Monitoring Systems stands ready to assist in other disaster drills. "Seeing the results of EpiCenter's sophisticated, accurate and fast data analysis can be reassuring to epidemiologists and others in public health and the healthcare professionals in their regions. We're eager to build additional partnerships in the public health arena."
More information (including online video demonstration):
Media Contact:
John Buckman
Health Monitoring Systems
412.231.2020 x. 109
SOURCE Health Monitoring Systems

India Liquor Tainted With Chemicals Kills 156 in Five Days Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Source of Article:,2933,356925,00.html
NEW DELHI Locally brewed liquor apparently tainted with lethal chemicals continued to kill in southern India, with another 66 people dying and bringing the overall death toll from the past five days to 156, police said Wednesday.
Another 135 people were being treated in hospitals in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu states, said Sri Kumar, the Karnataka state police chief.
Bootleggers have been selling the deadly brew as police shut authorized liquor shops in Karnataka state because of voting for the state government, Kumar said.
In India, liquor stores and bars are routinely closed on voting days to prevent politicians from handing out free alcohol in a bid to win votes.
Kumar said 66 deaths were reported overnight and on Wednesday.
Since Saturday, 156 people, mostly poor laborers, have died 88 in and around Bangalore, India's key information technology hub, and 25 in neighboring Kolar district.
Another 43 people died in a village just across the border with Tamil Nadu state, according to the Web site of the Karnataka state police.
Police were analyzing the drink to determine what made it so deadly.
Police arrested 1,500 people and seized tainted liquor worth $1.8 million since elections were announced in Karnataka state last month in a drive to curb its distribution, Kumar said. Deaths from illicitly brewed liquor are frequent in Indian villages and towns, where locally made brew is often spiked with pesticides or chemicals like the banned methyl alcohol to make it stronger or increase the amount.

Casa Fiesta Salmonella Cases Adding Up
May 20, 2008 - 05:23 PM

Posted by: Jeff Rasansky
Source of Article:
Over sixty people have fallen ill after eating at the Casa Fiesta in Norwalk this April. The cause of the illness has been identified as salmonella poisoning and at this time health officials have been unable to confirm just how many people have eaten at the Mexican food restaurant.
Thus far one of the victims is suing the restaurant. Kody Dewitt is seeking over $25,000 in damages for his hospital bills and hardships he claims to have suffered after eating the salmonella-tainted food. The lawsuit follows an Ohio Department of Health investigation into the initial 26 confirmed cases of Salmonella food poisoning.
The lawsuit states that soon after Dewitt ate at Casa Fiesta, he fell violently ill and required hospitalization. He lost wages as a result of the poisoning and feels as though he sustained bodily injury and permanent damage that will forever limit his earning capability. Local news agencies have reported that more people who were sickened by the salmonella plan on suing the restaurant.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that about 40,000 cases of Salmonellosis are reported annually. Salmonella can occur when food is improperly stored or handled and when preparers do not sanitize their hands after handling meat. Salmonella poisoning can cause fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain and cramping. Generally, the illness lasts a week and most recover without treatment.
If you believe you have been sickened as the result of a restaurant¡¯s poor food handling, contact an attorney right away.

Salmonella outbreak in Norwalk remains mystery
By CORY FROLIK | Tuesday May 20 2008, 11:54am
Source of Article:
Register photo/MEREDITH BRUNER Casa Fiesta is located on Rte. 250 in Norwalk.
The cause of a salmonella outbreak remains a mystery, but the number of patrons known to have gotten sick after eating at Casa Fiesta restaurant continues to rise.
Health officials say there are 36 confirmed cases, but the actual number could be higher because 28 patrons who exhibited symptoms chose not to be tested for the bacteria.
What particularly puzzles health officials is how just a handful of employees were exposed to the bacteria. Of 23 Casa Fiesta employees, five tested positive for salmonella.

Nursery gets all-clear after E.coli scare
Wednesday, 21st May 2008
Source of Article:
A NURSERY in the Capital has been given the all-clear after an E.coli scare.
NHS Lothian was called in after a two-year-old girl contracted the potentially fatal infection. The child, from Fife, attends the Bright Horizons nursery, in Cramond, although it is not believed to be the source of her infection.
No other children are believed to have contracted the bug at the nursery, which did not have to close. Dr Richard Othieno, consultant in public health at NHS Lothian, said: "NHS Fife is currently investigating one probable case of E.coli infection in a young child. NHS Lothian is assisting with aspects of this investigation.
"While the risks of transmission are low, as a precaution we are making arrangements for parents with children at the nursery to receive information on protection against E.coli infection."
Anyone with concerns over the health of their children should contact their GP or NHS24.

Sausage sensor designed for metal detection
By Neil Merrett
Source of Article:
22-May-2008 - A new metal detection technology for sausage manufacturing can ensure improved safety and quality within a product even in harsh meat processing environments, according to its manufacturer.
Mettler-Toledo Safeline says its HDS Pipeline Detector has been designed specifically for detecting various forms of metal contamination in sausages during processing.
With contamination possible from swarf and other slivers of metal during the meat grinding process, locating their presence can prove to be difficult task for manufacturers, Mettler-Toledo says.
The system is designed to be compatible with a number of processing lines and can find even non-spherical ferrous, non-ferrous and non-magnetic stainless steels that may be in a product, claims the company.
Findings from the detector are then able to be stored on a data managment solution through in-built Ethernet technology within the HDS system for traceability and due diligence purposes, according to the manufacturer.

Robust solution
As part of the products design, Mettler-Toledo claims that the system can be integrated easily onto existing production lines even in cold wet, high-pressure wash down environments with the detector sealed to IP69K standard.
The manufacturer says that it also constructed the product to be slim and mobile for easier storage alongside a number of major vacuum fillers used within sausage processing.
Further to this focus, zero metal free zone (ZFMZ) technology is also used in the product to allow metal pipping and other fixtures to be used in the detector without interfering with the operation themselves, according to the company.
The system can also be fitted with twister extensions that it claims are compatible with all major attachments for twisting the products.

Aside from safety aspects, the manufacturer claims that the detector can also help to cut down on the uneven distribution of meats within a sausage as it makes its way through a pipe - known as creaming - to maintain product quality during monitoring.
The group says the product is available globally through its distribution agents.


Main Page
Sponsorship Qustions
List of Newsletters
To subscribe this Food Safety Newsletter

Copyright (C). All rights reserved