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6/02
2008
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Pathogens Linked 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
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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 (SIDS).
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 researchers argued.
Exactly what causes the association remains mysterious, because, by definition, the unexplained deaths were not caused by classical infection, the researchers said.
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," they said.
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
Source reference:
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
Source reference:
Morris JA, Harrison LM "Sudden unexpected death in infancy: evidence of infection" Lancet 2008; 371: 1815-16. Additional General Pediatrics Coverage

Tomatoes 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 states.

Salad & Salmonella - Food Poisoning As A Side Dish
Main Category: Nutrition / Diet
Also Included In: Infectious Diseases / Bacteria / Viruses; GastroIntestinal / Gastroenterology
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 food safety.
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 - passive.
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 infected."

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
Original publication:
"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

Infective potential of Listeria
Date: 29/05/2008
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/
Abstract
Background
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.

Results
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.

Conclusion
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.

New food 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

Free radicals
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.

UK trials
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.

Utah Wendy's 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.

Healthy Intestinal 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

E.coli Detection Development Company sets up Water Products Division in Canada¡¯s Technology Triangle
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 sources.
¡°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.

New Radical 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 industry.
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

FDA needs 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.

FDA Delays 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 up."

Legislation 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.

FSIS Updates 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 here

USDA Appeals 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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