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-Questions & Answers for Consumers and Industry
Found in Basil Grown in Mexico, FDA Says (Update2)
By Catherine Larkin
Source of Article: http://www.bloomberg.com/
July 11 (Bloomberg) -- Salmonella, the bacteria that has sickened more
than 1,000 Americans who ate tainted produce since April, has also been
found in Thai basil grown in Mexico. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
identified salmonella during random testing of basil imported by Lucky
Green Trading Inc., a family-run company based in Garden Grove, California,
the agency said today in a statement on its Web site. The product has
been recalled from Southern California, Arizona and Nevada, where it was
distributed directly and sold at retail stores.
FDA officials have boosted inspections of Mexican exports as they look
for the origin of the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak that has spread to
42 states since mid-April. While the focus has been on certain types of
tomatoes grown in Mexico and Florida, officials said this week that jalapenos
caused some illnesses and that Serrano peppers and cilantro also are under
``Every importer from Mexico has to go through the inspection,'' said
Tony Ton, whose family runs Lucky Green, in a phone interview today. ``That's
a new thing. Every year, we used to have one or two occasions where FDA
has to do a random inspection.''
No illnesses have been linked to Lucky Green's herbs. Their Thai basil
comes from the town of Santa Rosa Tapachula in Nayarit, a state on the
central-west coast of Mexico. The company doesn't sell any other products
this time of the year, Ton said.
Three shipments of Thai basil from the same Mexican grower passed inspection
last week, so Lucky Green is looking to see whether the latest batch may
have been contaminated by another grower in the same area, Ton said.
Kimberly Rawlings, a spokeswoman for the FDA, didn't immediately return
e-mail or voice-mail messages seeking comment.
Jalapeno Peppers, Serrano Peppers and Cilantro Still Under Salmonella
Posted on July 10, 2008 by Salmonella Attorney
Again, according to the CDC, since April, 1065 persons infected with Salmonella
Saintpaul with the same genetic fingerprint have been identified in 42
states, the District of Columbia, and Canada. These were identified because
clinical laboratories in all states send Salmonella strains from ill persons
to their State public health laboratory for characterization. One new
state, Mississippi, reports ill persons. The number of ill persons identified
in each state is as follows: Alabama (2 persons), Arkansas (14), Arizona
(49), California (9), Colorado (15), Connecticut (4), Florida (2), Georgia
(25), Idaho (5), Illinois (104), Indiana (16), Iowa (2), Kansas (17),
Kentucky (1), Louisiana (1), Maine (1), Maryland (29), Massachusetts (26),
Michigan (8), Minnesota (18), Mississippi (2), Missouri (12), New Hampshire
(4), Nevada (11), New Jersey (9), New Mexico (99), New York (30), North
Carolina (14), Ohio (8), Oklahoma (24), Oregon (10), Pennsylvania (12),
Rhode Island (3), South Carolina (2), Tennessee (8), Texas (408), Utah
(2), Virginia (29), Vermont (2), Washington (11), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin
(11), and the District of Columbia (1). Four ill persons are reported
from Canada; three appear to have been infected while traveling in the
United States, and one illness remains under investigation.
Among the 762 persons
with information available, illnesses began between April 10 and June
26, 2008, including 315 who became ill on June 1 or later. Many steps
must occur between a person becoming ill and the determination that the
illness was caused by the outbreak strain of Salmonella; these steps take
an average of 2-3 weeks. Therefore, an illness reported today may have
begun 2-3 weeks ago. Patients range in age from <1 to 99 years; 46%
are female. The rate of illness is highest among persons 20 to 29 years
old; the rate of illness is lowest in children 10 to 19 years old and
in persons 80 or more years old. At least 205 persons were hospitalized.
One death in a man in Texas in his eighties has been associated with this
outbreak. In addition, a man in his sixties who died in Texas from cancer
had an infection with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Saintpaul at the
time of his death; the infection may have contributed to his death.
Indictment of Jalapenos: Solving Outbreak Requires Thinking Outside the
Source of Article: http://www.perishablepundit.com/
The bottom line is that the more the CDC and FDA speak, the more obvious
it becomes that three months into this outbreak they do not have a rational
explanation or even a reasonable theory to explain this Salmonella Saintpaul
The latest announcement adds more smoke than light to the outbreak:
An initial epidemiologic investigation in New Mexico and Texas comparing
foods eaten by persons who were ill in May to foods eaten by well persons
identified consumption of raw tomatoes as strongly linked to illness.
A similar but much larger, nationwide study comparing persons who were
ill in June to well persons found that ill persons were more likely to
have recently consumed raw tomatoes, fresh jalapeno peppers, and fresh
cilantro. These items were commonly, though not always, consumed together,
so that study could not determine which item(s) caused the illnesses.
Recently, many clusters of illnesses have been identified in several states
among persons who ate at restaurants. Most clusters involve fewer than
5 ill persons. Three larger clusters have been intensively investigated.
In one, illnesses were linked to consumption of an item containing fresh
tomatoes and fresh jalapeno peppers. In the other two, illnesses were
linked to an item containing fresh jalapeno peppers and no other of the
suspect items. The accumulated data from all investigations indicate that
jalapeno peppers caused some illnesses but that they do not explain all
illnesses. Raw tomatoes, fresh Serrano peppers, and fresh cilantro also
remain under investigation.
Basically the CDC is scrambling for highly unlikely explanations. On today¡¯s
conference call, the CDC suggested a search for a farm that had been growing
tomatoes and then, perhaps started growing jalapenos midway through the
A few key points:
1) This suspicion of jalapenos and Serrano peppers is still just another
epidemiological theory ? much as CDC had a theory about tomatoes a month
ago. With thousands of samples taken, they still haven¡¯t found Salmonella
Saintpaul on any jalapenos or anywhere jalapenos were served.
2) CDC hasn¡¯t given the date of the three restaurant clusters, so we don¡¯t
know the relevance to public health today.
3) Although illnesses in two of the clusters were linked to items containing
jalapeno and no other SUSPECT item, that does not mean they contained
only jalapenos. If the outbreak was caused by a non-suspect item, such
as tortillas, those items could still be at fault.
4) Note the advisory refers only to those with impaired immune systems
? that is always prudent. Note that this is much ¡°softer¡± than a recall
or ¡°recommendation not to consume¡±? which probably indicates lower confidence
in its finding by the CDC.
We think we need an approach that might not show up on the surveys. We
want to suggest looking at two other possible vectors for this outbreak:
A) Chicken ? via cross-contamination
Chicken is commonly used in Mexican cuisine and is a common carrier of
Salmonella. The CDC hasn¡¯t looked at chicken because the surveys don¡¯t
show disproportionate consumption by sick people.
What if, though, the chicken is carrying the pathogen but, because it
is properly cooked, the chicken itself doesn¡¯t get people ill?
Instead, the raw chicken is improperly handled; it contaminates the produce
in the restaurant and that is how people get sick. This would never show
up in the CDC surveys as a chicken issue ? but it would be.
We think we need to do some swabs at chicken-processing facilities looking
for this relatively rare form of Salmonella.
B) Employees ? via inadequate hand washing
With over a thousand people sick and a multiplier of over 30 to account
for sick people who aren¡¯t counted, we are talking about around 35,000
people estimated to be carrying or have carried this Salmonella Saintpaul
strain. Many of these people must work in foodservice.
In the midst of the spinach crisis of 2006, we ran a piece about a Salmonella
outbreak at a Wal-Mart store in Indiana. The story included this note
from the Indiana Department of Health: ¡°We believe food handlers who didn¡¯t
have any symptoms may have contaminated the deli and bakery products.¡±
How ever this started ? what if it is being spread by those 35,000 sick
people, many, perhaps, asymptomatic? There has been zero mention of doing
stool samples and health histories on the restaurant workers. We should
When you listen to these calls, one doesn¡¯t get any sense of confidence
that the government is on the way to solving this problem. CDC seems to
be very caught up in certain standard operating procedures and, perhaps,
when an outbreak is this different, it requires thinking outside of one¡¯s
training and experience.
It is not obvious that the system set up by CDC and FDA is conducive to
this type of creative thinking.
WILL LIST RETAIL STORES RECEIVING RECALLED MEAT AND POULTRY PRODUCTS
WASHINGTON, July 11, 2008 - Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer today
announced that beginning next month, USDA will begin listing retail stores
receiving meat and poultry products involved in Class I recalls - those
of the most serious concern to public health. For some recalls, specific
product information useful to consumers is not available to help identify
recalled products that may still be in their home. Today's announcement
provides a 30 day notice after the rule is published in the Federal Register
before the process of listing retail stores takes effect.
"The identity of retail stores with recalled meat and poultry from
their suppliers has always been a missing piece of information for the
public during a recall," said Schafer. "People want to know
if they need to be on the lookout for recalled meat and poultry from their
local store and by providing lists of retail outlets during recalls, USDA's
Food Safety Inspection Service will improve public health protection by
better informing consumers."
USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) will post on its Web site
a list of retail stores that receive products subject to Class I recalls,
the highest risk category, generally within three to ten business days
of issuing the recall release. A Class I recall is one that involves a
reasonable probability of serious health consequences or death for those
with weakened immune systems. Retail stores include supermarkets or other
grocery stores, convenience stores, meat markets, wholesale clubs and
supercenters. FSIS will not identify distribution centers, institutions
or restaurants, since they prepare food for immediate consumption without
packaging that is identifiable or available to consumers.
During the recall process, FSIS personnel verify that the recalling firm
has been diligent and successful in notifying its customers of the need
to retrieve and control recalled products and that the customers have
responded accordingly. During the recall effectiveness checks, FSIS compiles
a list of subsequent recipients as the recalled products are traced through
each level of distribution to the retail level. The list of retail stores
and locations compiled by FSIS personnel during this process will be posted
on the FSIS Web site www.fsis.usda.gov and shared with State and local
public health officials where the retail stores are located.
from FSIS always include the name of the establishment recalling the meat
or poultry, the reason for the recall, a description of the recalled product,
any identifying product codes, the recall classification and contact information
at FSIS and the company involved. The additional information releasing
the names of retail stores receiving recalled meat and poultry will improve
the consumers' ability to identify and discard or return the products
they may have purchased and may still have in their home by checking the
list of stores and locations. For further technical information on the
final rule, contact Philip Derfler, Assistant Administrator, Office of
Policy and Program Development, at (202) 720-2709 or by fax at (202) 720-2025
NOTE: Access news releases and other information at FSIS' Web site at
Coli Warnings and Recalls Seriously Delayed
Date Published: Monday, July 14th, 2008
Reports in central Ohio began emerging in mid-June that residents were
falling ill from E. coli. Meanwhile, on June 9, the US Department of Agriculture
(USDA) told Nebraska Beef executives that samples of Nebraska Beef were
among those from a group of processing companies whose meat tested positive
for E. coli. Dozens were sickened in Michigan and Ohio, many were hospitalized,
and at least one person developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a kidney
disorder responsible for most deaths linked to E. coli O157:H7 infections.
The lag times prompted Ohio Agriculture Director Robert Boggs to announced
he will no longer wait until other agencies or companies are ready to
announce tainted products identified through lab tests run by his department.
In this case, Ohio had test results confirming E. coli-contaminated meat
on June 23; however, two days passed before that information was publicly
released and Kroger Grocery issued a recall. Effective immediately, the
Agriculture Department will notify other parties of test results, and
if those parties haven¡¯t made the information public within three hours,
or no later than 4 p.m., the department will issue a release. Exemptions
might exist for food samples from federal agencies, Boggs added. ¡°I think
the industry should have been more forthcoming more quickly in giving
information to the public that product in their stores had been contaminated,¡±
Also, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer recently announced a plan
to advise consumers which retail stores sold products recalled by meat
and poultry companies. A group of U.S. senators, including Ohio¡¯s Sherrod
Brown, requested this change five months ago. ¡°There may be a gap in time
between the need for a recall and the recall itself, but there should
be no gap in public information,¡± Brown said in a release.
While Kroger chose to volunteer information that its products were tainted,
no other retailers publicly linked themselves to Nebraska Beef, a Kroger
supplier. And, although Kroger issued its recall on June 25 for meat with
sell-by dates as late as June 8, it took Nebraska Beef five days to issue
its first recall of 532,000 pounds of meat sent to companies in seven
states. Over one week later, on July 3, Nebraska Beef issued a recall
for 5.3 million pounds of its meat it said could be tainted and shouldn¡¯t
With the announcement of the expanded recall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture
reported that Nebraska Beef¡¯s production practices were insufficient to
protect meat from contamination, products might have been produced in
unsanitary conditions, and Nebraska Beef was lax in its response that
its meat might be contaminated. Nebraska Beef has been involved in other
issues where questionable practices and food contamination were found
to have occurred. In 2003, the USDA went to court to try to shut down
Nebraska Beef¡¯s Omaha packing plant after citing it for numerous violations.
Three years later, Minnesota public health and USDA officials linked an
E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak in ground beef that killed a Minnesota woman
to Nebraska Beef. In 2007, Nebraska Beef sued the USDA saying its inspectors
had unfairly targeted it.
E. Coli Illnesses Linked to Nebraska Beef E. coli Recall
Posted on July 9, 2008 by E. coli Lawyer
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
The widening cluster of E. coli O157:H7 infections in Georgia may be linked
to an outbreak E. coli illnesses in Ohio and Michigan. The Moultrie Observer
reports that preliminary testing has linked the at least 9 Georgia cases
to the 41 in Ohio and Michigan, which have been traced back to beef products
from Nebraska Beef Ltd. of Omaha.
E. coli infections began showing up in central Ohio in mid-June, paralleled
by a sharp increase in E. coli cases in Michigan. By June 20, officials
had genetically linked many of the Ohio and Michigan cases; the days that
followed, the outbreak was traced to ground beef from Kroger stores. With
illnesses nearing 30, Kroger initiated a voluntary recall on June 25.
On June 30, FSIS announced that the tainted meat had been traced back
to Nebraska Beef Products, and a recall of 531,707 pounds of ground beef
products was initiated. On July 2, the Kroger recall widened to 20 states.
On July 3, the Nebraska Beef recall was widened to include 5.3 million
pounds. Georgia is not on the Kroger recall list, but is part of the Nebraska
Nebraska Beef Ltd. is already enmeshed in lawsuits stemming from tainted
meat. In 2006, seventeen people were infected with E. coli O157:H7 after
eating Nebraska Beef products prepared at a church dinner; one woman died.
Nebraska Beef responded by suing the church. A lawsuit has just been filed
on behalf of an Ohio resident who became ill from eating Nebraska Beef
products in the recent outbreak there.
We also filed an additional lawsuit against Nebraska Beef today. The recent
filing occurred today in the United States District Court, Southern District
of Ohio, Eastern Division, on behalf of Pickerington, Ohio resident Dawn
Grieves, who was infected with the toxic E. coli strain O157:H7 after
eating ground beef processed by Nebraska Beef Ltd.
The lawsuit states that Ms. Grieves consumed Nebraska Beef Ltd products
in the early part of June, 2008 and fell ill on June 5. She began to have
increasingly severe symptoms including abdominal cramps, vomiting, and
diarrhea, which sent her to the emergency room on June 6. She was given
medication and returned home. Her health continued to deteriorate, and
when and samples taken during her ER visit revealed that she had been
infected with E. coli O157:H7, she returned to the hospital. She was admitted
on June 9 and remained there until June 13. She continues to recover from
scare puts brakes on border produce trucks
By LYNN BREZOSKY San Antonio Express-News
Source of Article: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/5886491.html
MCALLEN ? The Food and Drug Administration's attempt to target a source
for the nationwide salmonella outbreak has effectively shut down Texas
border tomato traffic ? and that of cilantro, jalapenos, and other peppers
and produce, even though tainted ones have yet to be found in Mexico.
Industry losses, estimated at $250 million for the initially implicated
tomatoes alone, are mounting as the FDA widens its probe. The standstill
at the border is spreading through a distribution chain that reaches from
the fields of Coahuila, Mexico, to wholesale markets in cities like Atlanta
It's evident in the rows of packing sheds in McAllen that normally bustle
this time of year with northbound shipments of tomatoes and peppers.
Cold storage rooms stand empty. Conveyor belts are still. Owners pace
their bare warehouses fielding cell phone calls from customs brokers for
word on whether they can move what rapidly perishing product they still
Meanwhile, idle workers wonder how long they'll have jobs.
"I've got almost one month without doing nothing and losing our sales,"
said Abraham Dajlala of GR Produce. "If we cross one load of jalapenos
right now, the FDA takes eight to 10 days to give you the (test) results.
By that time it's too late. I've got jalapenos in Mexico right now, waiting
in the fields."
In Texas, the main routes for imported Mexican produce funnel through
the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge east of McAllen, where trucks are
routinely inspected before heading to unload in border packing sheds.
As the rare strain of salmonella Saintpaul that began sickening people
in April began appearing in more and more states, the detective work by
the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended to fields
and distribution spots across the nation.
As of Saturday, 1,065 people in 42 states, the District of Columbia and
Canada had gotten ill. The deaths of an elderly Texas man and another
Texan who died of cancer, but had contracted salmonella, were associated
with the outbreak.
Last week, FDA inspectors were dispatched to Mexico, where they began
inspecting fields, equipment and water sources.
And at the border, they have been taking samples from truckloads of tomatoes,
hot peppers and cilantro. The FDA says it takes three to four days to
clear a sample, and during that time the product can be moved to its final
destination, but not sold for consumption.
But importers won't risk moving anything across the country only to find
they'll have to recall it. And with weekends and holidays like July 4,
they say the average wait has been more like eight to 10 days.
So, most are telling their Mexican producers to keep the product home.
Decay starts as soon as the chiles are cut from the plant, so there's
some hope of delaying the harvest until the FDA declares the batch safe.
But importers know that could also lead to a mad dash for the border,
backups at the bridge and a saturated market.
Jim Prevor, editor of Produce Business magazine and the Web site Perishable
Pundit, thinks the FDA probe is doing more harm than good at this point.
CDC statistics show 1.4 million cases of salmonella poisoning a year,
and attempts to trace back to a contaminated product may not begin until
a week or longer after it was consumed. The produce now being tested form
the ingredients to salsa, but officials cannot say whether salsa, or any
particular food, is the culprit.
No green light
With tomatoes, Mexican and U.S. states were listed once they were cleared
by the FDA. That hasn't been the case with hot peppers or cilantro. What's
most frustrating to the industry is that the search has been so wide and
"Basically, the FDA is acting in such a way that thousands and thousands
of farmers are victims, and they've done nothing wrong," Prevor said.
"It's not really helping public health, either. It would be one thing
if they were really saving countless lives, doing wonderful things, but
the risks are so small, the cause of the problem so uncertain."
Representatives for the FDA and CDC refused to say how many inspectors
are on the border, what kind of testing is being done, or what percentage
of cases could have involved a restaurant meal.
On a conference call with reporters Thursday, FDA official Dr. David Acheson
described how the detective work had taken them from suspecting tomatoes
to broadening to hot peppers and cilantro.
"It's just been a spectacularly complicated and prolonged outbreak,"
he said. "We've pursued all the usual angles, used all the tools
multiple times ... and we're not there."
The information about tomatoes and jalapenos came from two different studies
that didn't implicate one or rule out another.
"We are quite sure that neither tomatoes nor jalapenos explains the
entire outbreak," CDC's Dr. Robert Tauxe said. "We're presuming
that both of them have caused illnesses."
John McClung of the Texas Produce Association, a former food safety inspector,
said the industry recognized the challenge facing the FDA, but thought
the methodology was flawed and outdated.
"As they become more and more desirous of pinning this tail on some
donkey or another, they spread their net wider and wider, which means
they are less likely to get results and more likely to get commodities
damaged in the process," McClung said.
'Out of business'
Mexican officials said the FDA has unfairly crippled their tomato business
and Friday declared that the country's crop was clean. Two states, Jalisco
and Sinaloa, have not yet been cleared by the FDA, but they account for
40 percent of the exports. Mexican officials say they have tested and
proven the product safe. Dajlala, the McAllen importer, said his growers
in Mexico have pristine, state-of-the-art operations.
"It's unbelievable, better than here," he said. "The problem
is not the grower."
In another packing shed a few rows down, Raul Trevino of ELC General Produce
waited anxiously Friday afternoon for word that tests were OK and he could
move about $20,000 worth of jalapenos. They had been sitting in his walk-in
cooler since Monday, and some were beginning to turn orange, a sign of
He said he has been working with the FDA but told representatives he couldn't
hold out much longer. "I tell them, 'You know what, I'm going to
be out of business soon,' " he said.
Genes Targeted In Studies To Protect Salad Veggies
Source of Article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080712143925.htm
ScienceDaily (July 14, 2008) ? No one knows exactly how microbes like
Listeria monocytogenes or Salmonella enterica can attach themselves to
the bumpy leaves of a cabbage or the ultra-fine root hairs of a tender
young alfalfa sprout.
Listeria monocytogenes on this broccoli sprout shows up as green fluorescence.
The bacteria are mainly associated with the root hairs. (Credit: Photo
by Lisa Gorski)
It's a mystery that Agricultural Research Service (ARS) food safety scientists
in Albany, Calif., are intent on solving. The work, based at the ARS Western
Regional Research Center, may lead to new ways to protect cabbage, sprouts
and other salad favorites from attack by foodborne pathogens.
Microbiologist Lisa A. Gorski, for instance, led an investigation several
years ago that was the first to document the genes that L. monocytogenes
uses during a successful invasion of cabbage leaves. Gorski did the work
with Albany colleague Jeffrey D. Palumbo and others.
Though scientists elsewhere had looked at genes that this Listeria turns
on--or "expresses"--when it's grown on a bed of gel-like agar
in a laboratory, no one had, at the time of Gorski's investigation, ever
documented genes that this microbe expresses when it grows on a vegetable.
Listeria is perhaps best known for establishing colonies in humans, not
on green plants. But the team found that Listeria, when invading cabbage,
calls into play some of the same genes that plant-dwelling microbes routinely
use to colonize and spread harmlessly on plants.
In newer work, Gorski wants to pinpoint genes responsible for the widely
varying ability of eight different Listeria strains to successfully colonize
the hair-thin strands, called root hairs, of alfalfa sprouts.
She's also interested in studying, and disabling, genes that help some
Listeria colonies resist being washed off by water.
Adapted from materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service.
study sheds light on how intracellular pathogens trigger the immune system
Source of Article: http://www.eurekalert.org/
Berkeley -- Disease-causing microbes like the food-borne bacterium Listeria
monocytogenes specialize in invading and replicating inside their animal
hosts' own cells, making them particularly tricky to defeat. Now, a new
study led by biologists at the University of California, Berkeley, has
identified a molecular alarm system in which the intracellular pathogen
sends out signals that kick the immune response into gear.
The findings, to be reported the week of July 14 in the journal Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences, shed light on how the cells recognize
and destroy the pathogenic bugs living within their walls, and may even
provide new targets for the research and development of new vaccines and
The pathogens' signals come from multidrug resistance transporters (MDRs),
membrane proteins used by a wide variety of organisms to pump out a broad
range of molecules from their systems. Similar transporters have been
linked in other studies to the development of resistance to multiple drugs
that are toxic to the pathogen. This study is the first to connect multidrug
resistance transporters directly to stimulation of the immune system,
although the nature of the molecules that the bacteria are spitting out
"For the MDRs to work, the pathogen needs to be alive, so this study
actually shows how the immune system can tell the difference between a
living, harmful microbe and one that is dead," said the study's principal
investigator, Daniel Portnoy, a UC Berkeley professor with joint appointments
in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and the School of Public
Health, and associate director of the Berkeley Center for Emerging and
Neglected Diseases. "This is important because you don't want the
immune system to overreact to non-threats, which is what happens in autoimmune
disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and multiple sclerosis."
The Listeria bacterium makes headlines when it contaminates deli meats,
raw cheeses, cole slaw and other foods. According to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, Listeria causes some 2,500 infections and 500
deaths each year, and at greatest risk are people who have weakened immune
systems or are pregnant.
The bacteria first trick immune cells into swallowing them, where they
become encased in bubbles called vacuoles. The bacteria become dangerous
when they break out of these bubbles into the cells' internal fluid, or
cytosol, to multiply and spread the infection. The role of MDRs is not
clearly known, but the results of this study plainly show that one particular
MDR transporter is necessary for the host to respond to the infection,
the authors said. In addition, overexpression of this or other related
MDRs leads to an enhanced host immune response.
"The only way the bug molecule enters into the cytosol is if the
bacterium is virulent," said Portnoy, who is also a member of UC
Berkeley's Health Sciences Initiative. "We know that there are different
immune system receptors in different compartments of a cell, but until
this paper, it was not understood exactly how the cytosolic surveillance
system was triggered. Our findings suggest that the molecules pumped out
by the pathogen while it's in the cellular fluid help the immune system
gauge whether a bacterium is a threat based upon its location inside the
The researchers isolated the role of multidrug resistance transporters
by manipulating specific genes in the bacteria that controlled their expression
and then measuring how increased or decreased activity by the transporter
proteins impacted levels of interferon beta, a protein produced by the
immune system that rally more disease-fighting cells when infections are
They found that greater MDR expression led to greater stimulation of the
immune system, as measured by interferon beta levels.
Strains of Listeria with higher levels of MDR expression increased interferon
beta levels up to 20-fold compared with unmodified, wild-type Listeria
in cell cultures, the study found. Tests in mice infected with those same
mutant strains of Listeria had bacterial loads that were 20 times lower
in their livers, although the researchers could not attribute the decreased
levels solely to the higher levels of interferon beta.
"This paper raises the classic issue of the tug-of-war in the evolution
of the host and the pathogen; it's a never-ending arms race," said
Gregory Crimmins, UC Berkeley graduate student in molecular and cell biology
who, along with former UC Berkeley post-doctoral researcher Anat Herskovits,
was the study's co-lead author.
The study results could provide clues to the actions of other intracellular
pathogens, such as the bacteria responsible for tuberculosis and Legionnaires'
disease, since they also activate similar immune mechanisms, the researchers
Crimmins noted that better understanding of how the class of interferons
in this study is triggered could have implications for a variety of diseases.
"Type I interferons have wide-ranging effects on the immune system,
and are used to treat multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C and some types of
cancer," he said. "The strains generated in this study may provide
novel insight into the role of Type I interferons in coordinating the
host immune response."
"By understanding the pathways of innate immunity, we can better
understand acquired immunity, and that is important for vaccine development,"
added Portnoy. "The concept of making safe but fully effective vaccines
is still a challenge, especially for intracellular pathogens."
Portnoy pointed out that weakened Listeria is already being used to develop
cancer vaccines by Anza Pharmaceuticals, a Concord-based biopharmaceutical
company with which he consults.
inquiry wants latest details of systems changes
Jul 12 2008 by Madeleine Brindley, South Wales Echo
Source of Article: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/
THE long-running E.coli public inquiry is calling for more evidence as
its switches track to preventing another deadly outbreak.
Professor Hugh Pennington, who chairs the inquiry, will now also produce
recommendations to stop an outbreak similar to the one in the Valleys
in 2005 from happening again. His decision comes as the inquiry team considers
thousands of pages of evidence about the outbreak, which killed five-year-old
Mason Jones and infected more than 150 other children and adults.
Mason¡¯s mum Sharon Mills today said the move showed how ¡°thorough¡± Prof
Pennington was being.
And Stephen Webber, of Hugh James solicitors, who represents the families,
said: ¡°This is a really positive step and it will be very interesting
to see exactly what systems have been put in place since the outbreak.
¡°We know that Rhondda Cynon Taf has set up new procurement procedures,
but of particular concern to us is whether Bridgend inspectors would think
that a business operating with just one vacuum packer is still appropriate.¡±
Prof Pennington, who is expected to publish a full report and recommendations
later this year, said: ¡°I have asked participants in the inquiry to provide
me with a comprehensive and up-to-date picture of any changes that have
been made to systems and procedures since the outbreak and any others
that are planned.¡±
The closing date for submissions to the E.coli public inquiry is August
Public To Learn Sooner Of Tainted Goods
July 14, 2008
Source of Article: http://www.wlwt.com/health/16878754/detail.html
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio officials will speed up public notification of
tainted food products in the wake of an E. coli outbreak that sickened
people in Ohio and Michigan, the state's agriculture director said.
The department will notify the public of laboratory test results within
three hours, instead of waiting for other agencies or companies to make
their own announcements, Agriculture Director Robert Boggs told The Columbus
Ohio officials confirmed on June 23 that beef tested in state labs was
contaminated with E. coli, but the information was not released until
"I think the industry should have been more forthcoming more quickly
in giving information to the public that product in their stores had been
contaminated," Boggs said.
Food samples from federal agencies might be exempt from the policy, Boggs
The tainted meat was later traced to Nebraska Beef Ltd., prompting the
company to recall 5.3 million pounds of beef.
Some of the recalled beef was sold by Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. stores.
The grocer has recalled ground beef products in more than 20 states.
At least 41 illnesses in Michigan and Ohio have been tied to Nebraska
The federal government has criticized Nebraska Beef for responding slowly
to indications that its products might be tainted with E. coli.
The company proposed a new plan last week to satisfy the USDA's concerns,
but details of the changes were not released.
USDA inspectors will check on the plant, which is in Omaha, over the next
90 days to make sure Nebraska Beef completes the changes it proposed,
USDA spokeswoman Amanda Eamich said.
Several lawsuits have been filed against privately held Nebraska Beef
as a result of the E. coli outbreak and recall. The company slaughters
about 2,000 head of cattle a day and employs about 800 people.
Federal food safety regulators should have more power and focus only on
public protection, said Dr. William Schaffner, professor and chairman
of the department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University.
"The (USDA) is predicated on the notion that what the USA produces
on the farm and on the ranch is a good thing," Schaffner said.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that
E. coli sickens about 73,000 people and kills 61 each year in the United
States. Most of those who die have weak immune systems, such as the elderly
or very young.
chemical wash targets Salmonella, E. coli
Date: 14/07/2008 Source of Article: http://www.scientistlive.com/
Reducing bacterial contamination in food products poses many problems
for the food industry. While it is quite obviously important to protect
against food-borne pathogens such as Salmonella, e. coli, and Listeria,
equally important is the effective preservation of taste. To date, this
has been a puzzle difficult to resolve. Recently, University of Georgia
(U.S.) scientists, led by Dr. Mike Doyle, developed a chemical wash for
poultry and produce that might solve the conundrum that has baffled many.
Doyle is an internationally recognized authority on food safety whose
research focuses on developing methods to detect and control food-borne
bacterial pathogens at all levels of the food continuum, from the farm
to the table. He has served as a scientific advisor to many groups, including
the World Health Organization, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S.
Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency.
Scientist Live spoke with Dr. Doyle about his research.
How did you first get involved in developing a chemical wash for Salmonella?
One of our primary missions at the Center for Food Safety is to develop
practical approaches for reducing and controlling harmful bacteria in
foods. That is our primary driving force - developing better methods that
consumers, producers, or processors can use to reduce pathogen contamination
and increase detection. We have a project through the state of Georgia
to reduce Salmonella contamination on poultry. As part of that project,
our goal is to evaluate different chemical treatments that can potentially
At the beginning, we always start out with a pure system then move into
more complicated ones like water with poultry feces. What we learned from
our research was that a particular combination of chemicals - specifically
an organic acid that is not frequently used in foods and a detergent -
had a dramatic effect on reducing Salmonella populations, not only in
water but also on food products like vegetables and poultry meat.
What are the shortcomings of current washes widely used in the food industry?
Presently, chlorine is used in poultry and fresh-cut produce antimicrobial
washes. Chlorine is not entirely effective as an antimicrobial in the
presence of organic loads which includes protein materials like blood.
In the presence of protein, chlorine also produces by-products of which
some are carcinogenic. So there is an interest in coming up with alternatives.
There are some alternatives but they are not fully effective and don't
kill as many bacteria as our treatment does. Moreover, they may damage
tissue of particularly sensitive foods like leafy greens - lettuce and
spinach, for example - that are very sensitive to certain treatments.
Does the wash you developed fight other forms of bacteria?
We tested against E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Listeria. It's effective
against all three.
Would food producers be able to use the wash on a wide range of products?
That is yet to be determined. For produce, we have concentrated on lettuce
and tomatoes. There is considerably more to be evaluated. From past experience,
lettuce has been very difficult to treat and keep from browning over a
short period of time. For example, when we use combinations of lactic
acid and acetic acid at levels needed to kill bacteria, we find that leafy
green tissue begins to brown within a few days. That is why we are excited
about this treatment. The tissue does not brown in a few days after treatment.
Rather it retains its green color for several weeks.
Is the wash effective against non-bacterial microbes?
That is what we plan to test. We want to evaluate its efficacy on parasites
like Cryptosporidium and Cyclospora as well as some viruses.
Many chemical washes are known to produce slightly altered tastes. How
does your wash perform?
The wash treatment performs well in this regard. I tasted treated products
and don't detect any off flavor or odor or discoloration.
What is the next step for your lab in terms of this project?
One of our priorities for the wash is to reduce Salmonella contamination
on poultry and we have some additional approaches we would like to apply,
including pre-harvest. By that I mean as chickens are loaded onto the
truck there may be an opportunity to apply the wash to feathers and reduce
the Salmonella contamination on the feathers. The outer surface of chickens
is often the source of Salmonella on the meat. Also, we are looking at
the scald water tanks which are another source of contamination to determine
if we can successfully apply the treatment in the scald water. Finally,
we want to apply the treatment with electrostatic spraying - especially
to feathers - to see if we can reduce contamination using less treatment
looks at ways to decontaminate leafy produce
By staff reporter ource of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/
10-Jul-2008 - Combining sanitizers with ultrasound, optimizing oxygen
conditions and not reusing washing water can reduce bacterial contamination
of lettuce and leafy greens, according to a summary of recent USDA laboratory
The findings are published in the July issue of the US Department of Agriculture's
(USDA) science monthly, Agricultural Research.
The research is likely to be of interest to growers, processors and retailers,
as an outbreak of a foodborne disease can be extremely costly, as well
as potentially fatal for the consumer. he USDA said that researchers at
its Produce Quality and Safety Laboratory (PQSL) in Maryland have been
focusing on ways to keep salads safe at processing plants before and after
Microbiological safety is a key issue for ready-to-eat prepared vegetable
tissues, because they are intended for consumption raw, without further
preparation or cooking.
Bacteria can contaminate crop plants in situ during the growth of the
plant or during harvesting, handling, processing, distribution or preparation.
PQSL technologist, Yaguang Luo, in an examination of wash waters and sanitizers,
simulated washing methods to analyse how processing practices could affect
safety and quality of precut lettuce, stated the ARS article. For the
study, according to Agriculture Research, romaine lettuce leaves were
sliced and then rinsed in either fresh wash water or various types of
reused wash waters. The washed leaves were then dried, placed in bags
made from special oxygen-permeable films, and stored at 5¡ÆC. The article
stated that microbial growth and product quality were monitored at various
intervals over 14 days of storage and the results at the end of storage
time showed that unwashed control leaves and leaves washed with reused
water had higher bacterial counts than those washed with clean water.
The study was first
published in HortScience.
Luo, in partnership with Illinois University, has also evaluated the effectiveness
of combining a sanitizer with ultrasound treatment for industrial-scale
produce washing, with her study demonstrating that this approach could
cut bacterial contamination from about 300,000 colony forming units to
10, stated the article.
Another PQSL study by microbiologist Arvind Bhagwat analysed bacterial
resistance to different temperatures and its findings were originally
published in the April 2008 issue of the Journal of Food Science. Bhagwat's
aim, according to the article, was to discover if a lack of oxygen would
hinder a bacterium's survival in the human gut. The study was prompted
by the fact that manufacturers have been using a type of low-oxygen based
modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) to extend the time that bagged salad
appears fresh, according to Agriculture Research. Bacteria were applied
to fresh-cut lettuce and stored under various MAP conditions for eight
days for the study.
Low-oxygen conditions were defined as between 0.5 per cent and one per
cent oxygen in a sealed package and regular oxygen conditions were defined
as 20 percent oxygen in a sealed package.
The article stated that the results showed that "when stored under
extremely low-oxygen conditions and at temperatures of 15¡ÆC or above,
bacteria became more resistance to synthetic gastric juice. In comparison,
no resistance was induced among bacteria stored under extremely low-oxygen
conditions and at temperatures of 10¡ÆC or below"
"The findings also highlight the importance of responsible use of
MAP. Proper storage temperature is important to minimizing bacterial adaptability,"
The PSQL research was published in the USDA's Agricultural Research magazine
(July 2008, Vol. 56, No. 6).
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