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to Sudden Unexplained Infant Deaths
By Michael Smith, North American Correspondent, MedPage Today
Published: May 29, 2008
Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine,
University of California, San Francisco Earn CME/CE credit
for reading medical news Source of Article: http://www.medpagetoday.com/
LONDON, May 29 -- Pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia
coli appear to be associated with unexplained sudden deaths in infancy,
researchers here said. Action Points
Explain to interested patients that sudden unexpected deaths in infancy
can have either infective or non-infective causes, but the majority of
them remain unexplained.
Note that this study finds an association between such unexplained deaths
and pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli, although
the exact role of the microbes remains mysterious.
The link comes from a retrospective analysis of microbiological samples
taken during the autopsies of children who died suddenly and unexpectedly
over a 10-year period, according to Neil Sebire, FRCPath, of Great Ormond
Street Hospital for Children here, and colleagues.
The reasons for the association are not clear, but the findings "suggest
that microbes or microbial products could be related to the pathogenesis"
of some cases of unexplained sudden infant death, Dr. Sebire and colleagues
said in the May 31 issue of The Lancet. The designation of sudden unexpected
deaths in infancy (otherwise known as SUDI) is used when babies die before
their first birthday. Sometimes there are clear causes, such as bacterial
infection or accident, but a large proportion are unexplained, Dr. Sebire
and colleagues noted. If an unexplained death that takes place while the
infant is sleeping it may be categorized as sudden infant death syndrome
In the current study, the researchers examined 507 autopsy reports, including
470 for which microbiological sampling had been performed. Of the deaths,
379 were unexplained, 72 were explained by a non-infective cause, and
56 were explained by bacterial infection.
Dr. Sebire and colleagues classified microbial isolates taken at autopsy
as non-pathogens, group one pathogens (those usually associated with an
identifiable focus of infection), or group two pathogens (those that can
cause septicemia without a focus of infection).
The researchers found:
24% of the isolates from infants whose deaths were explained by bacterial
infection contained group two pathogens, compared with 19% of those whose
death was unexplained.
Those proportions were significantly higher than the 11% found in babies
who died of a non-infective cause, at P<0.0001 versus bacterial infection
and P=0.001 versus unexplained death.
16% of cultures from infants whose deaths were unexplained contained S.
aureus and 6% contained E. coli.
Those rates were significantly higher than the 9% and 1%, respectively,
found in cultures from infants whose deaths were from non-infective causes,
at P=0.005 for S. aureus and P=0.003 for E coli.
"The high rate of detection of group two pathogens, particularly
S. aureus and E. coli, in otherwise unexplained cases of SUDI suggests
that these bacteria could be associated with this condition," the
Exactly what causes the association remains mysterious, because, by definition,
the unexplained deaths were not caused by classical infection, the researchers
Equally, however, they could not have been caused by any of the known
bacterial toxins that cause syndromes with characteristic clinical and
histological features, the researchers said. More study is needed, they
argued, to tease out the pathophysiological mechanism underlying the association.
On the other hand, the work "provides support for the idea that S.
aureus and E. coli could have a causal role in some cases of unexplained
SUDI," said James Morris, FRCPath, and Linda Harrison of the Royal
Infirmary in Lancaster.
In an accompanying commentary, they said evidence suggests that unexplained
sudden deaths in infants are often rapid -- taking less than an hour to
go from good health to death in some cases.
"If bacteria have a role, this points to direct action of bacterial
toxins on cardiorespiratory activity or neural control," they said,
suggesting that the new science of proteomics may be useful in identifying
bacterial protein products that might be involved.
"This is the obvious next step in investigating sudden infant death,"
The study was supported by the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths.
The researchers said they had no conflicts.
Dr. Morris has been an expert witness in cases of sudden infant death
when the significance of bacterial isolates has been an issue.
Dr. Harrison said she had no conflict of interest.
Primary source: The Lancet
Weber MA, et al "Infection and sudden unexpected death in infancy:
a systematic retrospective case review" Lancet 2008; 371: 1848-53.
Additional source: The Lancet
Morris JA, Harrison LM "Sudden unexpected death in infancy: evidence
of infection" Lancet 2008; 371: 1815-16. Additional General Pediatrics
Cause Salmonella Illnesses in New Mexico and Other States
Posted on June 1, 2008 by Salmonella Attorney
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
The New Mexico Department of Health has announced that an outbreak of
salmonella has been linked to uncooked tomatoes. The department announced
that 31 people from seven New Mexico counties have contracted a strain
of salmonella known as salmonella St. Paul. I had blogged about this outbreak
earlier - Salmonella St. Paul sickens 21 in New Mexico, 14 in Texas and
they are still counting in Colorado, Utah and Arizona.
I have done a few thousand salmonella cases over the years, with several
of them being tied to contaminated tomatoes. I also posted a few months
ago that on the same day it was announced that I settled the last of the
salmonella suits against Sheetz, the Post-Bulletin of Rochester, Minnesota
reported that Quizno's salmonella outbreak came from tomatoes. Tomatoes
and Salmonella have been around a long, long time.
In 1990, a reported 174 Salmonella javiana illnesses, as part of a four
state outbreak, were linked to raw tomatoes. In 1993, 84 reported cases
of Salmonella Montevideo were part of a three state outbreak that was
linked to raw tomatoes. In January 1999, Salmonella Baildon was recovered
from 86 infected persons in eight states. In July 2002, an outbreak of
Salmonella javiana occurred associated with attendance at the 2002 U.S.
Transplant . held in Orlando, Florida during late June of that year. Ultimately,
the outbreak investigation identified 141 ill persons in 32 states who
attended the ..
During August and September 2002, a Salmonella Newport outbreak affected
the East Coast. Ultimately, over 404 confirmed cases were identified,
in over 22 states. Epidemiological analysis indicated that tomatoes were
the most likely vehicle, and were traced back to the same tomato packing
facility in the mid-Atlantic region.
In early July 2004, as many as 564 confirmed cases of salmonellosis associated
with consumption of contaminated tomatoes purchased at Sheetz Convenience
Store were reported in five states, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, West
Virginia, and Virginia. Seventy percent were associated with tomatoes
in food prepared at Sheetz convenience stores.
In 2006 two outbreaks of Salmonella-tainted tomatoes where reported by
the FDA. One was blamed for nearly 100 illnesses in 19 states. FDA also
traced tomatoes involved in another outbreak involving 183 people in 21
Salmonella - Food Poisoning As A Side Dish
Main Category: Nutrition / Diet
Also Included In: Infectious Diseases / Bacteria / Viruses; GastroIntestinal
Article Date: 29 May 2008 - 2:00 PDT
Source of Article: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/109068.php
Salmonella can also infect
plant cells and successfully evade all the defence mechanisms of plants.
As a result, cleaning the surfaces of raw fruits and vegetables, e.g.
by washing, is not sufficient to protect against food poisoning. This
surprising discovery, made during a project supported by the Austrian
Science Fund FWF, has been published today. The results of the project
are based on a model plant, which also represents the ideal basis for
future development work on treatment and testing systems in the area of
1.5 billion (!) cases of food poisoning are caused by Salmonella bacteria
each year (World Health Organisation). If the bacteria survive particularly
well in a person, they can even infect intestinal cells and persist for
longer. Previously, the only known sources of infection were infected
meat products and plants that had come into contact with contaminated
water. However, work by the Unite de Recherche en Genomique Vegetale (URGV)
in Evry, France, and the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL) in Vienna,
Austria, has now shown that this is not entirely true.
Fruit & Veggies & Bacteria
Work carried out by a team led by geneticist Prof. Heribert Hirt, and
published in PloS ONE, shows that the strain of bacteria known as Salmonella
typhimurium can also invade, and multiply inside, plant cells. It is already
known that Salmonella can survive for up to 900 days in contaminated soils,
which creates a rich source of infection for plant material. However,
Prof. Hirt's team can now show that bacteria from such a source can actively
achieve the infection of plant cells, thereby disproving the previous
assumption that infection was coincidental and - as regards the bacteria
Prof. Hirt explains: "We marked individual bacteria with a fluorescent
protein, which enabled us to observe them as they quite clearly penetrated
root cells and multiplied. Just three hours after the bacteria came into
contact with the roots, they had penetrated inside the cells of the finest
root hairs. 17 hours later, the cells inside of the roots had also become
Weak Defence .
In principle, plants are anything other than helpless when under bacterial
attack, and know how to defend themselves. They have a whole range of
defence mechanisms they can use to ward off infection. The team also investigated
the efficacy of these mechanisms when under attack from Salmonella bacteria.
Prof. Hirt describes their results: "The defence mechanisms fail
completely. Although regulating proteins such as the two mitogen-activated
protein kinases 3 and 6 are activated just 15 minutes after Salmonella
has infected the plant, they cannot prevent the bacteria from multiplying.
Another defence mechanism, which is activated by the plant messengers
salicylic acid, jasmonic acid and ethylene, proves similarly ineffective.
Although these messengers are important to coregraph the plant defense
responses, they too are unable to halt the infection."
Prof. Hirt's discovery has important implications for the production and
processing of foodstuffs. As emerging nations develop into industrial
countries, a development that can be witnessed around the world, their
needs for food and water also grow. Besides the use of organic manures,
many of which come from animals, these needs also necessitate irrigation,
often with contaminated - and therefore potentially infectious - water.
If, as has now been discovered, Salmonella survives and multiplies in
plant cells, then washing raw fruit and vegetables does nothing to prevent
food poisoning. Instead, scientists need to develop new methods of treatment
and testing to tackle Salmonella infections in plants. This FWF-supported
project has already created the ideal basis for this work in the form
of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, which was used by the team from
URGV and MFPL in its study.
Text and image material
"The dark side of salad: Salmonella typhimurium overcomes the innate
immune response of Arabidospis thaliana and shows an endopathogenic lifestyle."
A. Schikora, A. Carreri, E. Charpentier, Heribert Hirt
Plos ONE. Max F. Perutz Laboratories - University of Vienna
potential of Listeria
Authors: Jens Bo Andersen, Bent B Roldgaard, Bjarke Bak Christensen and
Tine Rask Licht
Citation: BMC Microbiology 2007, 7:55doi:10.1186/1471-2180-7-55
Date: 14 June 2007 Source of Article: http://www.scientistlive.com/
Listeria monocytogenes has been implicated in several food borne outbreaks
as well as sporadic cases of disease. Increased understanding of the biology
of this organism is important in the prevention of food borne listeriosis.
The infectivity of Listeria monocytogenes ScottA, cultivated with and
without oxygen restriction, was compared in vitro and in vivo. Fluorescent
protein labels were applied to allow certain identification of Listeria
cells from untagged bacteria in in vivo samples, and to distinguish between
cells grown under different conditions in mixed infection experiments.
Infection of Caco-2 cells revealed that Listeria cultivated under oxygen-restricted
conditions were approximately 100 fold more invasive than similar cultures
grown without oxygen restriction. This was observed for exponentially
growing bacteria, as well as for stationary-phase cultures. Oral dosage
of guinea pigs with Listeria resulted in a significantly higher prevalence
(p < 0.05) of these bacteria in jejunum, liver and spleen four and
seven days after challenge, when the bacterial cultures had been grown
under oxygen-restricted conditions prior to dosage. Additionally, a 10-100
fold higher concentration of Listeria in fecal samples was observed after
dosage with oxygen-restricted bacteria. These differences were seen after
challenge with single Listeria cultures, as well as with a mixture of
two cultures grown with and without oxygen restriction.
Our results show for the first time that the environmental conditions
to which L. monocytogenes is exposed prior to ingestion are decisive for
its in vivo infective potential in the gastrointestinal tract after passage
of the gastric barrier. This is highly relevant for safety assessment
of this organism in food.
To read the original article with diagrams and tables, click here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471-2180-7-55.pdf
Originally published in BioMed Central. Open Access.
equipment sanitizing range cuts down-time, says Radical
By Jane Byrne Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/
02-Jun-2008 - A new advanced oxidation sanitization process provides an
alternative to using chlorine, while reducing down-time for food processors,
claims its manufacturer.
Processors are constantly looking for innovative ways to keep their plant
and equipment clean and free from contamination, which can in turn, spoil
foods and lead to costly recalls and loss of brand confidence. UK firm
Radical said that its Steritroxing technology harnesses the power of ozone
to eradicate harmful contaminants such as Listeria, Pseudomonas and E.coli
in hygiene critical areas, allowing the factory to return to full production
within an hour. "After intensive research we have developed a gas-based
sanitizing system that provides enhanced microbial killing power without
the need for extended production down-time previously experienced with
ozone-based fogging systems," a spokesperson for Radical told FoodProductionDaily.com
The manufacturer said that the Steritroxing process is based on the production
of free radicals through the generation of aqueous ozone and it includes
four product categories: room sanitizing, surface sanitizing, produce
decontamination and odour control. The complete sanitizing process is
automatically managed by a fail-safe computerised controller, according
to the developer. "Once the sanitizing programme is started and the
operator leaves the room, the vapour quickly permeates all elements within
the production area," added the spokesperson. Radical said that a
controlled removal of any residual vapours makes it safe to enter the
room within a few minutes of the process finishing. "Food processors
can choose between wall mounted or portable equipment depending on the
number of rooms they need to clean or how often they need to sanitize,"
added the spokesperson.
Successful testing at both Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association
and Manchester University supported by field trials with UK food processors
have proven the system to be extremely effective, efficient and robust,
according to the manufacturer.
The Radical system uses ozonated water to wash down surfaces and remove
unpleasant smells from the environment. With concerns over the use of
chemicals such as chlorine, ozone is seen among manufacturers as a safer
cleaning chemical. On June 23, 2001, the US Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) granted ozone generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status for use
in food-contact applications.
E. coli O121:H19 Outbreak Litigation Settled Today
Posted on May 30, 2008 by E. coli Attorney
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
After nearly two years of work, we were able to settle today the last
severe E. coli O121:H19 Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) cases related
to illnesses stemming in part from a teachers¡¯ conference luncheon in
June 2006. According to the Weber-Morgan Health Department (WMHD), at
least three attendees had contracted E. coli O121:H19 stool culture positive
infections. On August 2, 2006, the WMHD issued a news release indicating
that those people had been infected with E. coli O121:H19, and that two
of the individuals had developed HUS. WMHD stated that the evidence indicated
that all three people contracted E. coli from the same source sometime
during June 27-30 at the Wendy¡¯s restaurant in Ogden, Utah. By August
7, WMHD officials had revised the number of outbreak victims to four,
including three who had developed HUS.
WMHD further concluded that the source of the infection was contaminated
iceberg lettuce prepared at the Wendy¡¯s Restaurant and sourced from California.
One of the patients with confirmed HUS, who had not attended the teacher¡¯s
conference, ate cheeseburgers with iceberg lettuce at the Wendy¡¯s Restaurant
during the outbreak period. The second confirmed HUS case was an attendee
of the teachers¡¯ conference, and a third case of HUS was determined to
be secondary transmission from an infected person at the conference. We
represented all of the HUS and culture-confirmed cases. Eventually, WMHD
determined that at least 69 people had become ill in the outbreak. Of
those, three remained hospitalized for an extended period and were listed
in serious to critical condition. The settlement amounts are confidential.
Bacteria Live Within Chicken Eggs Source of Article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080602103402.htm
ScienceDaily (Jun. 2, 2008) ? The conventional wisdom among scientists
has long been that birds acquire the intestinal bacteria that are a necessary
for good health from their environment, but a new University of Georgia
study finds that chickens are actually born with those bacteria. Lead
author Adriana Pedroso said the finding, presented at the 108th General
Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Boston, could have
important implications for the poultry industry and for food safety. "Understanding
the microbial ecology of the developing chicken is the first step toward
producing healthy birds without antibiotics," said Pedroso, a post-doctoral
researcher in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine. Pedroso and her
colleagues incubated more than 300 eggs and dipped them into a light bleach
solution before extracting the embryos using sterile tools. DNA analysis
revealed a diverse community of bacteria within the intestines of the
developing embryos. Pedroso and her colleagues hypothesize that the bacteria
penetrate the surface of the shell to the egg white, which is then ingested
by the developing embryo.
Study co-author John Maurer, professor of avian medicine, said the findings
could lead to better methods for promoting growth of poultry and for reducing
the risk of food borne illness. He explained that as the poultry industry
has moved away from the use of growth promoting antibiotics in recent
years, it increasingly relies on administering probiotics -- beneficial
intestinal bacteria -- to newly hatched chicks. Establishing a community
of healthy bacteria in the birds is thought to make it more difficult
for pathogenic bacteria to establish themselves, but studies on the effectiveness
of probiotics have shown mixed results. Maurer said it appears now that
the timing of probiotic administration is important.
"Currently, most probiotics are administered after the chicks have
hatched," Maurer said. "But our study suggest we might need
to administer probiotics in ovo (in the egg) to get better results."
The idea that embryos are sterile in the egg and that chicks acquire their
intestinal bacteria after hatching goes back to the 1960s, when early
experiments using bacterial cultures -- often Petri dishes with a growth
medium -- failed to grow any bacteria. Newer DNA techniques such as those
Pedroso and her colleagues used are much more sensitive, however, and
aren't influenced by how well a bacterium grows in a dish.
"Previous assumptions were based on the use of cell cultures,"
Pedroso said, "but we now know that only 1 percent of bacteria in
the biosphere can be cultured."
Adapted from materials provided by American Society for Microbiology,
via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS
Development Company sets up Water Products Division in Canada¡¯s Technology
Source of Article: http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=5882.php
(Nanowerk News) Early Warning Inc, a developer of early warning systems
that detect E.coli and other biohazards is pleased to announce the opening
of its Water Products Division in Waterloo, Ontario.
Early Warning is developing a wide range of detection products employing
a revolutionary nanotechnology-based biosensor licensed from NASA Ames
Research Center in Silicon Valley. The biosensor can detect trace amounts
of specific bacteria, viruses and parasites, and help prevent the spread
of potentially deadly biohazards in water, food and other contaminated
¡°We were seeking a location possessing world leaders in water technologies,
diverse engineering and communications disciplines, and nanotechnology
know-how,¡± said Kenneth Berall, Vice President Operations and Chief Operating
Officer of Early Warning. ¡°Not only did Waterloo offer a vast talent pool,
the close proximity of office space to the University of Waterloo was
also a key factor since we are collaborating with four Waterloo professors
and various students in our development effort.¡± ¡°We are very appreciative
of Early Warning¡¯s decision to expand its operations to Waterloo,¡± says
city of Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran. ¡°The company¡¯s cutting-edge research
will fit well with Waterloo¡¯s growing emphasis on, and continued research
in areas such as nanotechnology.¡±
¡°Canada¡¯s Technology Triangle is ideally suited for innovative companies
such as Early Warning¡±, said John Tennant, Chief Executive Officer of
Canada¡¯s Technology Triangle Inc, which worked closely with officials
at the University of Waterloo to facilitate partnerships between industry
and academia. ¡°We will continue to encourage Early Warning¡¯s work with
members of the community since an early warning system for biohazards
can meet the needs of Ontario¡¯s water community and then be exported to
solve water quality problems worldwide.¡±
In 2000, heavy rains brought livestock manure laden with E.coli 0157:H7
and Campylobacter jejuni bacteria into Walkerton, Ontario¡¯s water supply.
Half of the town¡¯s 5,000 residents were sickened and seven people died.
Following the incident, it was found that 25 miles of the town¡¯s pipeline
was filled with biofilm that became a breeding ground for E.coli and other
pathogens to obtain nutrients and multiply.
¡°We intend to develop an early warning system in Ontario that can prevent
a repeat of the Walkerton outbreak,¡± Berall added. For more information
about Early Warning, visit: www.earlywarninginc.com
Early Warning Inc media contact
Kenneth Berall, Vice President Operations and Chief Operating Officer.
Sanitizing Range Launched for Food Industry
Industry: Food and Drink
A new range of sanitizing equipment specifically designed for the food
production industry, which kills all common, bacteria, viruses and spoilage
contaminants without using environmentally damaging chemicals such as
Chlorine has been launched for the food industry.
Source of Article: http://www.prunderground.com/
United Kingdom (PRunderground) May 29, 2008 A new range of sanitizing
equipment specifically designed for the food production industry, which
kills all common, bacteria, viruses and spoilage contaminants without
using environmentally damaging chemicals such as Chlorine has been launched
for the food industry.
After three years of field experience using the unique Steritroxing process
a new range of high technology sanitizing equipment is being launched
under the ¡°Radical¡± brand mark. Radical, as the name suggests is a range
of revolutionary new technology solutions for delivering a unique form
of advanced oxidation, known as Steritroxing, to deliver an unequaled
microbiological kill rate within hygiene critical areas.
The Radical range consists of four main product categories (room sanitizing,
surface sanitizing, produce decontamination and odour control) that offer
an answer to many of the challenges faced by hygiene managers in the food
Peter Townley, the company¡¯s managing director explains: ¡°Steritroxing
has proven so successful over the past three years that we have developed
the delivery mechanisms for this technology specifically designed to meet
the demanding needs of the food industry.
¡°Radical machines use the Steritroxing process and other advanced techniques
to effectively eradicate harmful contaminants such as Listeria, Pseudomonas
and E.coli without the use of harmful chemicals such as Chlorine.¡±
Derivative equipment in the Radical range uses similar advanced technology.
Ozonated water is used as an effective surface wash down and the odor
control system uses ozone and water to remove unpleasant smells from the
environment without expensive consumables.
The Radical range has been launched at a time when organizations such
as the United Nations and Food Standards Agency continue to voice concern
over the long term viability of Chlorine as an effective sanitizing solution.
Compared to chlorine, the unique process delivers even greater killing
potential over a short period of time and offers the industry a real alternative
to chlorine based sanitizing.
To find out more about the Radical range of sanitizing equipment, to discuss
how the range can improve hygiene routine efficiency or to see how Radical
can eradicate a persistent problem visit http://www.radical.gb.com or
call 01386 751800. http://www.radical.gb.com/productsRmSanitisers.htm
more funds to protect U.S. food
by DP Opinion on May 27, 2008 Source of Article: http://blogs.denverpost.com/
Re: ¡°Without resources, FDA can¡¯t protect consumers,¡± May 21 editorial.
Your editorial draws attention to public concern about the safety of the
food supply and the need to effectively strengthen, modernize and improve
the systems governing the safety of food. No other country in the world
can claim a safer food supply than the United States¡¯, but the fact remains
that recent recalls and other incidents have raised real concerns on the
part of consumers about the food safety net. Last year the Grocery Manufacturers
Association released its Four Pillars of Imported Food Safety proposal,
which calls on federal agencies to focus on prevention as the essential
weapon against food-borne illnesses. We believe the Food and Drug Administration
must be given the resources it needs to fulfill its critical food safety
mission. The FDA is responsible for regulating 80 percent of the U.S.
food supply but receives only about one-third of the government¡¯s food-safety
funding. For that and other reasons, we support a doubling of the current
FDA budget. Robert E. Brackett, Washington, D.C.
The writer is senior vice president and chief science and regulatory affairs
officer for the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
Creation of Food Safety Database
Source of Article: http://www.ombwatch.org/article/blogs/entry/5051/22
According to Congress Daily reporter Anna Edney, "The Food and Drug
Administration will not meet the September deadline that Congress imposed
last year to have a registry up and running to help the agency track food
contamination and better understand where to focus its limited resources."
The deadline was set in a bill passed last September that aimed to reform
FDA's drug safety regime but also contained provisions to enhance food
safety. Congress mandated creation of the registry, because FDA spent
much of 2007 chasing food contamination crises instead of heading them
off at the pass (spinach, peanut butter, and pet food to name a few).
Lawmakers hope the registry will help prevent similar problems in the
future. The Department of Agriculture regulates meat, poultry, and eggs,
and FDA regulates pretty much everything else a big job to be certain.
While USDA is required by law to inspect all meat and poultry destined
for commerce, FDA-regulated foods do not require inspection before making
their way onto grocery store shelves.
Because FDA is not required to inspect all the food under its jurisdiction,
and because doing so would be too tall an order, the agency will use a
risk-based approach. Put simply, FDA will try to figure out which foods
are most susceptible to contamination and where in the supply chain contamination
may occur. The agency will then use the information to target its inspection
resources. Call it educated guessing.
Both Congress and FDA believe the registry is step one in the risk-based
method, according to the Congress Daily article:
FDA has talked about using risk-based inspection methods because funding
has not kept pace quickly enough for the agency to inspect food facilities
at regular intervals. Lawmakers felt a comprehensive registry would produce
data necessary to maximize a risk-based approach.
Of course, FDA will then need to use the information collected in the
registry, which will be provided by both companies and local government
officials, to police the food industry. Too often FDA has failed to take
action on behalf of the public, even when it is aware of food safety problems.
In March, The Washington Post reported, "Since 2001, nearly half
of all federal inspections of facilities that package fresh spinach revealed
serious sanitary problems, but the Food and Drug Administration did not
take 'meaningful' enforcement action" In April 2007, the Post reported,
"In the peanut butter case, an agency report shows that FDA inspectors
checked into complaints about salmonella contamination in a ConAgra Foods
factory in Georgia in 2005. But when company managers refused to provide
documents the inspectors requested, the inspectors left and did not follow
introduced to modernize America¡¯s food safety network
May 30, 2008 10:45 AM
Source of Article: http://westernfarmpress.com/news/food-safety-0530/
California U.S. Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) and Adam Putnam, a Republican
colleague representing a rural Florida district, recently introduced legislation
to modernize America¡¯s food safety network. The Safe Food Enforcement,
Assessment, Standards and Targeting Act, ¡°Safe FEAST Act,¡± would establish
new food safety requirements for domestically produced and imported food
to identify and prevent potential sources of food-borne illness. For the
first time, the measure grants the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
statutory power to recall contaminated food in the case of adulteration.
The legislation earned praise from the United Fresh Produce Association
and Western Growers but not unqualified endorsement. ¡°We appreciate Congressmen
Costa and Putnam tackling this difficult issue,¡± stated Cathleen Enright,
vice president of federal affairs for Western Growers.
¡°The bill goes in the right direction and is the type of bill we can work
with. It reflects an approach to food safety that recognizes and builds
on the strengths of the US food industry.¡± However, she added, ¡°We will
need to analyze the bill more closely and look forward to consulting with
the congressmen as the bill matures.¡± United Fresh Produce Association
President Tom Stenzel congratulated Costa and Putnam for ¡°their leadership
in introducing the Safe FEAST Act of 2008.
¡°There are a number of provisions in this bipartisan bill that can work
to enhance a strong food safety regulatory framework that builds public
confidence in fresh produce,¡± he said. Costa a member of the House Agriculture
Committee, and Putnam, chairman of the Republican Conference, said they
expect the bipartisan measure to earn support among consumers and industry
groups. ¡°The last time our food safety laws had major reforms, President
Eisenhower was in office. Much has changed since then; American consumers
deserve to have confidence in their food supply and American farmers and
processors are doing everything possible to produce the safest food in
the world,¡± said Costa.
The bill is a response to illness outbreaks attributable to contaminated
produce over the past few years. Those outbreaks spawned a California
state ¡°leafy green¡± marketing order detailing good management and handling
practices for produce handlers.
A similar agreement is in place in Arizona. However, these measures have
come under criticism as self-policing and industry-generated. Many have
called for federal oversight of farm food safety covering not only California
and Arizona, but also other states.
¡°This is a bill to ensure the highest level of food safety for our nation¡¯s
food supply,¡± said Putnam. ¡°Cases of food-borne illness present a health
risk to consumers and risk consumer confidence in our food supply. The
need for this legislation is clear.¡±
Nearly 25,000 cases of food-borne illness were reported in the United
States during 2006, he noted. ¡°What is lacking,¡± said Costa, ¡°is to have
a system that ensures best management practices to strengthen the relationship
between federal and state agencies to better prevent and control food
safety threats at all levels of food production. I believe these are realistic
and achievable steps, and will make the American consumer¡¯s food supply
safer, which is the goal of this legislation.¡±
To ensure that food products coming into the United States from international
sources are safe, imported goods would have to adhere to the same safety
and quality standards as set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA). The Foreign Suppliers Quality Assurance Program would verify that
all imported goods meet FDA safety requirements and require food importers
to complete a foreign supplier food safety plan, documenting the food
safety measures and controls for FDA review.
The bill includes a Mandatory Food Risk Assessment and Preventative Controls
Plan that requires all domestic and foreign food companies selling food
in the U.S. to conduct a food safety risk analysis that identifies potential
sources of contamination, outlines appropriate food safety controls, and
requires verification that the food safety controls implemented are adequate
to address the risks of food-borne contamination. It establishes new standards
for fruits and vegetables, including updating Good Agricultural Practices
Guidance for safe production and issuance of regulation on safety standards,
when risk and science demonstrate standards are needed.
It also increases coordination between, federal, state and foreign governments
to ensure standards, and allows for variances to meet local growing conditions.
Finally, the Safe FEAST Act would grant FDA the authority to access food
safety production records during emergencies and deny importation of goods
if strict food safety standards are not met. It would also direct the
agency to adopt a risk-based approach to inspections, giving greater scrutiny
to facilities posing greater risk.
New Technology Table
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Source of Article: http://www.meatami.com/ht/display/ArticleDetails/i/12936
(American Meat Institute)
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has updated its Technology
Table, which is the latest summary describing some of the new technologies
received and reviewed by FSIS and approved for use in establishments.
New technologies added to the table include the use of pHarlo Blue as
an antimicrobial processing aid applied in poultry scalders, as a spray
on poultry picker rails, and post-picker spray or dip.
To view this table in its entirety, click
To Stop Mad Cow Testing
Posted 5 hours ago by Bob Ewing in Food
Source of Article: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/255230
The United States Department of Agriculture is appealing a district court
decision that would allow meat packers to conduct their own tests for
mad cow disease,
The battle over the right to meat packers to test their cattle for mad
cow disease began a year ago when Creekstone Farms wanted to purchased
their own testing kits and conduct their own tests for the disease. Creekstone
had lost money during the last mad cow scare when borders were closed
to US beef and wanted to prevent that from happening again. Under the
existing testing program only the cattle that the USDA labels as being
at high risk is tested and this works out to be less than one percent
of the beef that the United states produces. Creekstone wants to test
all of its cattle for mad cow but has been blocked by the USDA from buying
the testing kits. In fact, the USDA is in the process of appealing a district
court decision that would allow Creekstone and others to proceed with
the testing. The USDA states that this testing would create false assurances.
After losing money last year, Creekstone built its own testing center
and was getting ready to test its beef. then the USDA stepped in and blocked
the sale of the testing kits . The USDA regulates such sales. The lower
court case relied on an interpretation of the Virus-Serum-Toxin Act, which
regulates, among other things, products "intended for use in the
treatment of domestic animals." The district court stated that as
there is no existing treatment or cure for mad cow disease, and the tests
are only performed on dead animals, then the tests should not be regulated
by the USDA under this act. The meatpacking lobby has made its position
clear by stating that if Creekstone tests all its beef, consumers will
force other meat packers to do so, leading to more expensive beef.
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