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Mexico Says Pepper Farm Tests Negative for Salmonella (Update2)
By Andres R. Martinez Source of Article:
Aug. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Mexico's government said its tests of serrano peppers and water from a farm the U.S. identified as infected with salmonella showed no signs of the bacteria.
Samples from the farm in the northern border state of Tamaulipas tested negative for the Saintpaul strain of salmonella that has sickened more than 1,300 people in the U.S. since April, said Enrique Sanchez Cruz, head of Mexico's agriculture and food safety agency.
Similar tests by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at the same farm last month detected salmonella in a sample of peppers and water used for irrigation, according to the agency. ``We stand by our test results,'' FDA spokesman Michael Herndon said in an e-mail. U.S. officials have been trying to pinpoint the source of the outbreak that sickened people in 43 states, the District of Columbia and Canada, and initially focused on tomatoes in their investigation. At least 262 people have been hospitalized, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta says.
Salmonella, a bacterium transmitted through animal feces that come in contact with food, can cause diarrhea, fever and cramping.
Sanchez said last month in an interview that the samples U.S. officials said tested positive for salmonella came from a plot of land that had been harvested more than a month ago and water that wasn't used for irrigation.
U.S. officials are still waiting for results from samples taken from a separate jalapeno pepper farm. Sanchez said Mexico's tests showed no signs of contamination at either farm.
`Next Step'
``The next step is for our laboratory to sit down and compare samples and test results with the'' U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Sanchez said.
David Acheson, the FDA's associate commissioner for foods, urged consumers not to eat serrano peppers from Mexico during a congressional hearing on July 30.
U.S. investigators haven't ruled out tomatoes as the source of the illness, though the FDA has said the infected food didn't come from farms in Mexico's Nuevo Leon as originally claimed by Acheson in testimony. Mexico produced 2.2 million metric tons of peppers in 2007 and exported 14 percent to the U.S. Mexico ships about 12,000 tons of jalapeno and serrano to the U.S. a year.

Mexico Questions FDA Salmonella Findings
Date Published: Thursday, August 7th, 2008
Source of Article:
Mexico is denying blame for a massive Salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 1300 people in the U.S. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has blamed that outbreak on jalapeno and Serrano peppers from a farm in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. But Mexican officials said that their own tests of water and peppers on that farm have not detected Salmonella bacteria.
Since April, Salmonella Saintpaul has sickened 1,348 people in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada. Salmonella bacteria cause an illness marked by fever, abdominal pain, nausea, gas and bloody diarrhea. Symptoms appear within 36 hours of exposure, and usually last four to seven days. In very severe cases, Salmonella can lead to kidney failure and other complications. Salmonella can be particularly dangerous for children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. Some victims of Salmonella will develop a disease called Reiter¡¯s Syndrome, a difficult- to- treat condition that causes severe joint pain, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. Reiter¡¯s Syndrome can plague its victims for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis.
Initially, the outbreak was blamed on certain varieties of raw tomatoes, but even after the tomatoes were taken off the market, illnesses continued. In July, the FDA renewed efforts to find the source of the Salmonella outbreak, and focused on raw peppers and other foods served with raw tomatoes. The agency recently declared tomatoes safe, and warned consumers to stay away from Mexican grown jalapenos. The warning was later expanded to include Mexican-grown Serranos, as well.
The FDA based that warning on tests it conducted at a Mexican farm last month which detected Salmonella in a sample of peppers and water used for irrigation. But Enrique Sanchez Cruz, head of Mexico¡¯s agriculture and food safety agency said last month in an interview that the samples U.S. officials said tested positive for Salmonella came from a plot of land that had been harvested more than a month ago and water that wasn¡¯t used for irrigation. The FDA is still waiting for results from samples taken from a separate jalapeno pepper farm. Sanchez said Mexico¡¯s tests showed no signs of contamination at either farm.
For now, the FDA is standing by its tests. But Sanchez says his agency wants to sit down with the FDA to compare tests and samples that the two countries have collected.

Tomato Growers Want Compensation Over Salmonella Warning

USAgNet - 08/06/2008 Source of Article:
Tomato growers can thwack the Food and Drug Administration next week, but their try for federal funds could be a long shot. Two separate congressional hearings will enable California and Florida growers to bash the FDA for supposedly blowing a recent salmonella outbreak. Regulators initially raised warning flags about tomatoes, costing farmers a bundle before suspicions turned to jalapeno peppers.
"Clearly, the FDA has done a very poor job at tracking this outbreak," said Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif. "They blamed the wrong industry."
Cardoza chairs the House horticulture and organic agriculture subcommittee, one of two House panels convening food safety hearings next week. The other panel, an oversight subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, recently sent investigators to California's Central Valley to delve into the problem.
Finger-pointing, though, may be easier than finding viable fixes.
Four Florida lawmakers--Democratic Reps. Allen Boyd and Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Republican Reps. Adam Putnam and Vern Buchanan--have introduced legislation compensating tomato growers and packers nationwide for their losses during the latest salmonella scare. The Florida Tomato Exchange pegs those losses at $100 million.
Few doubt the FDA's warnings hurt business. California tomato exports to Canada have dropped by one-third, and retail tomato sales between San Diego and Seattle were down at least 40 percent in June, according to Ed Beckman of the Fresno-based California Tomato Farmers.
On June 7, the FDA issued a nationwide warning against eating several types of raw tomatoes. On July 17, the agency removed that tomato warning and declared instead that raw jalapeno and raw Serrano peppers "may be linked" to salmonella. On Monday, regulators announced they had found a contaminated Mexican-grown pepper at a produce distribution center in McAllen, Texas.

Salmonella Poisoning Outbreak Aggravated by Antacids, Bottom Line's Daily Health News Reports
Last update: 10:06 a.m. EDT Aug. 5, 2008
Source of Article:
STAMFORD, Conn., Aug 05, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The mysterious and yet unsolved outbreak of Salmonella poisoning, this summer, still tentatively attributed to the consumption of raw tomatoes and certain hot peppers, could have posed less of a scare if the use of acid suppressing medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPI) by both adults and children wasn't so prevalent.
According to the August 5th issue of the online newsletter, Bottom Line's Daily Health News (, published by Bottom Line Publications (, people who pop antacids like candy increase their susceptibility to food-borne infection. While too much stomach acid can be unpleasant, an adequate level is necessary to "kill the germs unavoidably in the food and drink that we all consume," according to Leo Galland, MD, quoted in the article, "Acid Lowering Drugs Can Increase Risk of Food Poisoning." Galland is an internist in private practice and director of the Foundation for Integrated Medicine in New York City
Galland explains that, "Using drugs that take away the acid can weaken our defenses against acquiring a food-borne intestinal infection." Ironically, suppressing the stomach's naturally-generated acid may accelerate the growth of yeast and bacteria, aggravating symptoms like bloating, belching or heartburn. It also notes that links have been made between the use of acid-suppressors and other medical conditions, including an increase in community-acquired pneumonia and a significant occurrence of hip fractures among people taking a PPI for longer than one year. To read the entire article, go to
"Most consumers are probably not aware of this link between a greater incidence of harmful Salmonella poisoning and the prevalent use of antacids, or that there are several natural stomach-soothing substances that Dr. Galland recommends as an alternative to either over-the-counter or prescription antacids," said Marty Edelston, founder and CEO of Boardroom, Inc., Bottom Line Publications' parent company.
The Daily Health News article advises people who are dependent upon acid-suppressing drugs to seek their doctor's advice about slowly weaning themselves off their prescriptions. It lists several natural stomach-soothing substances that are readily available in popular vitamin and health food stores. For a free online subscription to Daily Health News go to
SOURCE: Bottom Line's Daily Health News

Since the Spring of 2007 39,361,718 pounds of E. coli O157:H7 Contaminated Hamburger Recalled
Posted on August 5, 2008 by Bill Marler
Source of Article:
The wheels have come off the hamburger industry. Since the Spring of 2007 it has sickened hundreds - the young, the old - grandma's and boy scouts. Here are the recalls:

Natural State Meat Company 1/29/07 4,240 FSIS Recall - E coli
Tyson Fresh Meats 3/2/07 16,743 FSIS Recall - E coli
Richwood Meat Company 4/20/07 107,943 FSIS Recall - E coli
HFX, Inc 4/20/07 259,230 FSIS Recall - E coli
PM Beef Holdings 5/10/07 117,500 FSIS Recall - E coli
Davis Creek Meats 5/11/07 129,000 FSIS Recall - E coli
Tyson Fresh Meats 6/8/07 40,440 FSIS Recall - E coli
United Food Group 6/3-6/9/07 5,700,000 FSIS Recall - E coli
Washington Beef 7/15/07 82,286 FSIS recall - insanitary conditions
Abbott's Meat Inc 7/21/07 26,669 FSIS Recall - E coli
Custom Pack 7/25/07 5,920 FSIS Recall - E coli
Interstate Meat 8/30/07 41,305 FSIS Public Health Alert - E. Coli
Fairbank Farms 9/5/07 884 FSIS Recall - E coli
Impero Foods 9/29/07 65 FSIS Recall - E coli
Topps Meat Company 10/6/07 21,700,000 FSIS Recall - E coli
Cargill 10/6/07 845,000 FSIS Recall - E coli
J&B Meats 10/13/07 173,554 FSIS Recall - E coli
Arko Veal Co 10/13/07 1,900 FSIS Recall - E coli
Blue Ribbon Meats 10/24/07 8,200 FSIS Recall - E coli
Del Mar Provision Company 10/27/07 50 FSIS Recall - E coli
Totinos/General Mills 11/1/07 3,300,000 FSIS Recall - E coli
Cargill 11/3/07 1,084,384 FSIS Recall - E coli
American Foods Group 11/24/07 95,927 FSIS Recall - E coli
Snapps Ferry 12/17/07 102 FSIS Recall - E coli
Fresh Brands 12/27/07 14,800 FSIS Public Health Alert - E. Coli

Total amount recalled in 2007 33,756,142 pounds

Mark's Quality Meats 1/5/08 13,150 FSIS Recall - E coli
Rochester Meats 1/12/08 188,000 FSIS Recall - E coli
Palama Holdings 5/8/08 68,670 FSIS Recall - E coli
Fairbank Reconstruction Co 5/12/08 22,481 FSIS Recall - E coli
JSM Meat Holdings 5/16/08 undetermined FSIS Recall - E coli
Dutch's Meats 6/8/08 13,275 FSIS Recall - E coli
Kroger 6/25,7/3 2008 undetermined FSIS Recall - E coli - current
Nebraska Beef 6/30, 7/3 2008 5,300,000 FSIS Recall - E coli - current
Total amount recalled so far in 2008 5,605,576 pounds
Total amount recalled in 2007 and 2008 to date 39,361,718 pounds

Regulator urges action on foodborne pathogen resistance
By Jane Byrne 06-Aug-2008
Source of Article:
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has adopted a redrafted opinion that maintains the growing use of antimicrobial agents in food could be damaging human resistance to bacteria. EFSA¡¯s panel on biological hazards (BIOHAZ) claims that more needs to be done to ensure that the food we eat does not become a ¡®carrier¡¯ for antimicrobial-resistant agents which could leave the body open to health risks.
The panel sought submissions from the scientific community, food processors and food sector associations following publication of its draft opinion on foodborne antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in April and it said the subsequent amendments enhance clarity and scientific value.

Food chain
Alun Jones, senior spokesman for EFSA, told that there is a need to keep a close eye on this issue to ensure all potential entry points into the food chain for such resistant bacteria are controlled.
"This is a job not only for EFSA but for all stakeholders - including the European Commission and national food safety authorities who are the risk managers in this case," said Jones.
The regulator¡¯s opinion serves as a warning to processors about the problems of resistant pathogens being passed along the food chain to consumers.
¡°In view of experimental findings, the possibility that new food processing and preservation treatments may induce AMR in commensal and other bacteria, as a result of transformation, merits attention,¡± according to EFSA panel.

Control methods
The Biohaz panel said that controls operated at the pre-harvest phase and those aimed at limiting antimicrobial usage are potentially the most effective and as such are capable of playing a major role in reducing the occurrence of AMR bacteria in food.
Poor hygiene, the report suggests, is another probable means of transfer. It said that the application of good HACCP principles can help to prevent food products being contaminated accidentally by resistant bacteria.
EFSA's report highlights the cases of Salmonella and Campylobacter in particular, since these are mostly spread through food.
However, the report also warns that other bacteria such as MRSA, which have not traditionally been viewed as a food-based risk, may also be an "emerging problem".

Concern about increasing levels of antimicrobial resistance has been growing for several years.
A study from the UK Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) published last year found that up to 29 per cent of the Campylobacter pathogen are now resistant to a commonly used antimicrobial.
The survey found that cephalosporin resistance in E. coli from bacteraemia is increasing. Over half of the E. coli bacteraemia isolates were resistant to ampicillin or amoxicillin, and up to 9 to 19 per cent were resistant to ciprofloxacin.
Salmonella also had low resistance to common antimicrobials, according to the DEFRA study.
However, all human and animal isolates of L. monocytogenes were found to be susceptible to penicillin or ampicillin. Antimicrobial resistance continues to be extremely rare in L. monocytogenes, the survey found.

FDA may ease seafood rules August 8, 2008
Source of Article:
The FDA restricted imports of five types of Chinese-raised fish 13 months ago, saying many contained chemicals the U.S. doesn't allow for health reasons, such as long-term cancer risks. Since then, China's government and seafood producers have stepped up testing and safety controls. The percentage of shipments testing positive for the drugs has dropped from about 25 percent to less than 6 percent, says Don Kraemer, deputy director of the FDA's Office of Food Safety.

Experts Cast Doubt on the Meat and Cancer Hypothesis
Thursday, August 7, 2008 (American Meat Institute)
Source of Article:
A panel of government, university and industry experts speaking at a leading food safety conference yesterday cast serious doubt on widely reported claims of a meat and cancer connection. The timely symposium was held at the International Association for Food Protection Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio.
"All too often, claims that meat is linked to cancer are made as if they are proven fact. But today's panel presented compelling evidence the 'conventional wisdom' is not always current or accurate," said AMI Foundation President Randy Huffman, Ph.D.
David Klurfeld, Ph.D., national program leader in human nutrition at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service, provided an extensive critique of the 2007 World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) Report, released in the U.S. by its affiliate, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). While AICR made dramatic claims in a November 2007 press release that its report found a "convincing link" between red and processed meat and colorectal cancer, Klurfeld noted that a careful read of the 500-page report and its companion 2,334-page systematic literature review shows that the report does not support the press release's dire warnings.
In a dramatic presentation about the state of the science on sodium nitrite safety and positive health benefits, Nathan Bryan, Ph.D., of the University of Texas Houston Institute of Molecular Medicine, told attendees that many members of the media, the public and the scientific community have outdated notions about sodium nitrite's safety.
Bryan explained that fruits and vegetables contribute far more nitrite and nitrate to human daily intake than cured meats. For example, a person would derive 100 times as much nitrite from the modern elixir pomegranate juice as they do from a hot dog.
He also detailed the many cardiovascular and other health benefits that are now being associated with nitrite. According to Bryan, nitrite can prevent injury from a heart attack and act as an active source of nitric oxide within the body. Furthermore, Tibetan natives living at high altitudes have 100 times more nitrite in their blood than people living at sea level. Increasing nitrite availability appears to be a natural, adaptive physiological response to low oxygen.
In addition, he said that preliminary research at his university is showing that when nitrite has been applied directly to tumor cell lines, it did not promote tumor growth. And when ascorbate (Vitamin C) is added along with the nitrite, cell growth is inhibited (ascorbate is routinely added along with nitrite in cured meats).
Bryan's compelling presentation mirrors findings at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., where Dr. Mark Gladwin has also published findings about nitrite's value as a medical treatment.
James Coughlin, Ph.D., an independent, expert food toxicologist with more than 30 years of experience with nitrite, also discussed standards of scientific evidence that should be carefully employed when assessing the results of epidemiology and toxicology studies of meats and nitrite. Arthur Miller, Ph.D., senior managing scientist at Exponent, detailed the state of the science on heterocyclic and polyaromatic amine formation during grilling.
"If someone today said the world was flat, we'd laugh because that's such an uninformed and disproved hypothesis," Huffman said. "We need to put some of our notions about meat and cancer, nitrite risks and other issues into that same mythological category. The public has been saturated for so long with these claims that they've been incorporated into our belief systems, but just as the world isn¡¯t flat, meat cured with sodium nitrite is both safe and nutritious."
Huffman underscored that fresh and processed meats offer important nutrition benefits including protein, essential vitamins, minerals, protein and amino acids. Eating meat also contributes a feeling of satiety, and new research shows that low-carbohydrate/high protein diets are more effective in weight control than simply reducing calories.

Just say no to raw milk
Medical officer of health, Peterborough County-City Health UnitAugust 8, 2008
Source of Article:
Peterborough, Ont. -- Re The Right To Rawness (editorial, Aug. 4): The pasteurization of milk is a classic public health success story: The intervention is so good at preventing illness that some people forget why it's done. Opponents of pasteurization suffer from both a lack of memory and societal perspective. When E. coli from farm animals contaminated the drinking-water supply of Walkerton, Ont., it sickened thousands and killed seven people. As is often the case when appropriate public health practices are ignored, the town's children were among the most affected.
Before pasteurization, humans were commonly infected with other organisms from cows, such as brucellosis, tuberculosis, typhoid and listeriosis. But milk can also pick up organisms anywhere on its travels from cow to kitchen.
Raw milk continues to be associated with outbreaks each year. It has recently been linked to campylobacter, salmonella, yersinia, Q fever, toxoplasmosis and hemorrhagic colitis, to name a few. Why on Earth would we subject ourselves to such unnecessary risk when we've already found the solution?

Some fibrous foods may protect against Salmonella and E. coli
August 6, 2008Source of Article:
Researchers in the Netherlands have found that konjac gum and sesame seed extract could give protection against E. coli and Salmonella bacteria.
The Wageningen University and Research Centre study, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, demonstrated that the bacteria attached themselves to the foods instead of the gut cells of the host.
Yeast, tomato and pumpkin were also shown to have some beneficial effects. However, sesame seed extract and konjac gum had the greatest number of adhered bacteria.

UK: Salmonella Agona outbreak
Wednesday 6 August 2008
There has been an outbreak of Salmonella Agona in the UK and Ireland in recent months. The source of the outbreak is not yet known and the Agency, the Health Protection Agency and other relevant bodies are working hard to identify its source.
At present, about 80 cases of illness caused by this type of salmonella have been reported in the UK affecting all ages, but predominantly young adults.
When the Agency has further information or useful advice for consumers in relation to this outbreak it will publish it immediately.
In the meantime, there are simple measures you can take to reduce the risk of food poisoning:
In the home, keep your kitchen clean, wash your hands before handling food, always cook food thoroughly and take care not to let cooked foods come into contact with raw foods. Always follow the manufacturers cooking instructions for food intended to be eaten hot and make sure it is piping hot throughout.
When eating out, always make sure the hot food you have ordered is served piping hot throughout don¡¯t be afraid to ask for it to be re-heated.
Vulnerable groups including the elderly, the very young, pregnant women or anyone who is unwell should take particular care to follow this advice.
Finally, if you believe any food you have eaten has made you ill, you should seek medical advice.
The Agency has identified cooking, cleaning, chilling and preventing cross-contamination as the four areas consumers and food businesses should consider to keep food safe. Further information on the 4 Cs and the Agency's Germwatch campaign can be found at the link below.

bioMerieux Unveils Groundbreaking E. coli O157/H7 Detection
source from:
Technology at IAFP
bioMerieux has introduced a breakthrough in food quality testing, VIDAS¢ç UP, for
the detection of Escherichia coli O157:H7.
This new solution is based on the latest technology available for food pathogen screening: phage recombinant protein, which offers unique specificity and sensitivity. E. coli O157:H7 is a strain of Escherichia coli that has caused outbreaks of hemorrhagic colitis in the United States, Canada, Japan, and Europe, in some cases leading to death.

VIDAS UP delivers test results in just seven hours and has the flexibility of analyzing larger sample sizes of up to 375 grams. It is significantly faster than molecular methods which can incur additional equipment expenditure and complexity. Exclusively licensed to bioMerieux, the recombinant phage technology was developed by the German company Profos AG. The new test is available on VIDAS¢ç, the world¢¥s leading system for automated pathogen detection.
¡°E. coli O157:H7 is a major health threat and we are very proud to be at the forefront of the industry with an innovative solution for faster and more precise detection,¡± said Alexandre Merieux, bioMerieux Corporate Vice President, Industrial Microbiology.
¡°Quick, accurate detection of E. coli O157:H7 is of critical importance today as we see food-borne illness on the rise. VIDAS UP will allow food producers to detect this pathogen earlier and help keep the public safe from outbreaks.¡±
Bacteriophages are highly specific viruses that only infect bacteria. They use adhesion structures to bind to their bacterial hosts. In VIDAS UP, special binding proteins from bacteriophages are used for the first time for the targeted capture and detection of bacteria from a sample. This technology provides best-in-class sensitivity and specificity, particularly in highly contaminated samples such as animal waste, irrigation water and animal breeding environments.

Unauthorised colours, plastic fragments found in products
By Lindsey Partos 05-Aug-2008
Source of Article:
Bakers and snack makers must remain vigilent in the face of food safety as the European alert system last week throws up negligence in the supply chain.
A too high content of the sunset yellow colour, an unauthorised use of brilliant blue and allura red colours, and the detection of plastic fragments in foods, were all flagged up at the end of July, according to data from Europe's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF).
RASFF, a eurozone tool to minimise risk to the food chain, reported four information notifications from member states last week. Such notifications, sent directly to the European Commission, are triggered when a food, or feed, presenting a risk to the consumer has been identified.
In week 30, the 21 to 27 July, the RASFF received 21 information notifications in total from member states, of which four targeted the bakery and snacks industry.
The UK warned that, following a border control, it had detected a too high content of the artificial colour E110 - sunset yellow FCF (416mg/kg - ppm) - in a cheese snack hailing from Iran.
Sunset yellow, along with five other artificial colours, is the focus of a legislative package adopted by the European Parliament last month that will see foods proffering any of these artificial colours in their formulations labelled with a health warning for children.
Foods containing tartrazine (E102), quinoline yellow (E104), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122), ponceau 4R (E124) and allura red (E129), will have to be labelled "may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children".
Manufacturers have eighteen months to comply with the new labelling requirements following the official publication of the law, which is expected within the next few weeks.
Many large companies, such as Cadbury and Nestle, have already made pledges to remove all artificial colourings from their products.
And in a hint of things to come following the new rules from Europe, the RASFF system reports the unauthorised use for a clutch of these artificial colours in fruit flavoured multigrain cereals product from South Africa.
Alerted by Cyprus, the authorities detected the unauthorised use of sunset yellow, allura red and E133 brilliant blue colour in the South African product.
Moving away from colours, the EU's food risk network reported that Finland had notified the system, following a consumer complaint, on the undeclared presence of wheat. Wheat flour was not labelled - that under EU rules must be flagged, notably for gluten intolerant consumers - in Finnish for a chocolate marshmallow product hailing from Denmark.
Finally, RASFF observes in its week 30 report that following a UK company's own check, the firm discovered plastic fragments - pieces of hard blue plastic - in pre-baked apple pies originating from the UK.
For information notifications, defined as such by EU, other members of the network do not have to take immediate action, because the product has not reached their market, or is no longer present on their market, or because the nature of the risk does not require any immediate action.
By contrast, alert notifications - the second prong of the RASFF - are sent when immediate action is required due to the serious risk of the product, aiming to give all members key information to verify whether the concerned product is available on their market, in order to take immediate action.
Finally, the third prong are border rejections. These notifications concern food and feed consignments that have been tested and rejected - due to the health risk - at the external borders of the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA).

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