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Journal of Food Safety
on August 19, 2008 by Bill Marler
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
What if the great 2008 Tomato, right Pepper, Salmonella Outbreak actually
happened this ay?
At 10:00 PM last May 30th, on the same day New Mexico asked for help from
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food
& Drug Administration (FDA) with a growing outbreak of Salmonella
Saintpaul, a foreign Network begin airing a video taken inside a fresh
produce distribution center showing workers treating peppers with an unknown
liquid. There is a claim that this is a terrorist act.
In the next 15 minutes, every network news operation is playing the video.
The broadcast networks break into regular programming to air it, and the
cable news stations go nonstop with the video while talking heads dissect
Coming on a Friday afternoon on the East Coast, the food terrorism story
catches the mainstream Media completely off guard. Other than to say the
video is being analyzed by CIA experts, and is presumed to be authentic,
there isn¡¯t much coming out of the government.
Far-fetched? Don¡¯t count on it. I have been saying for years that a foodborne
illness outbreak will look just like the terrorist act described above,
but without the video on FOX News. Far-fetched?
Tell that to the 751 people in Wasco County, Oregon?including 45 who required
hospital stays---who in 1984 ate at any one of ten salad bars in town
and were poisoned by followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. The goal was
to make people who were not followers of the cult too sick to vote in
Tell that to Chile, where in 1989, a shipment of grapes bound for the
United States was found laced with cyanide, bringing trade suspension
that cost the South American country $200 million. It was very much like
a 1970s plot by Palestinian terrorists to inject Israel¡¯s Jaffa oranges
Tell that to the 111 people, including 40 children, sickened in May 2003
when a Michigan supermarket employee intentionally tainted 200 pounds
of ground beef with an insecticide containing nicotine.
Tell that to Stanford University researchers who modeled a nightmare scenario
where a mere 4 grams of botulinum toxin dropped into a milk production
facility could cause serious illness and even death to 400,000 people
in the United States.
The reason I bring this up is not only because we are about to mark the
seventh anniversary of 9/11, but because I wonder if food terrorism really
had been the cause of this year¡¯s Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak, would
it have made any difference in our government¡¯s ability to figure out
there was an outbreak, to figure out the cause, and to stop it before
it sickened so many.
Would the fact of terrorists operating from inside a fresh produce distribution
center somewhere inside the United States or Mexico brought more or effective
resources to the search for the source of the Salmonella Saintpaul? If
credit-taking terrorists were putting poison on our peppers, could we
be certain Uncle Sam¡¯s response would have been more robust or effective
then if it was just a ¡°regular¡± food illness outbreak?
After 9/11, Health & Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said:
¡°Public health is a national security issue. It must be treated as such.
Therefore, we must not only make sure we can respond to a crisis, but
we must make sure that we are secure in defending our stockpiles, our
institutions and our products.¡±
Before Thompson¡¯s early exit from the Bush Administration, he did get
published the ¡°Risk Assessment for Food Terrorism and Other Food Safety
Concerns.¡± That document, now 5-years old, let the American public know
that there is a ¡°high likelihood¡± of food terrorism. It said the ¡°possible
agents for food terrorism¡± are:
- Biological and chemical agents
- Naturally occurring, antibiotic-resistant, and genetically engineered
- Deadly agents and those tending to cause gastrointestinal discomfort
- Highly infectious agents and those that are not communicable
- Substances readily available to any individual and those more difficult
to acquire, and
- Agents that must be weaponized and those accessible in a useable form.
After 9/11, Secretary Thompson said more inspectors and more traceability
are keys to our food defense and safety. To date, we¡¯ve made no movement
to ensure this.
So would the fact of a terrorist group operating from a produce distribution
center inside the United States or Mexico have brought more or effective
resources to the search for the source of Salmonella Saintpaul? If credit-taking
terrorists were putting poison on our peppers, could we be certain that
Uncle Sam¡¯s response would be more robust, more effective than if it was
just a ¡°regular¡± food illness outbreak?
Absolutely not! The
CDC publicly admits that it manages to count and track only one of every
forty foodborne illness victims, and that its inspectors miss key evidence
as outbreaks begin. The FDA is on record as referring to themselves as
overburdened, underfunded, understaffed, and in possession of no real
power to make a difference during recalls, because even Class 1 recalls
are ¡°voluntary.¡± If you are a food manufacturer, packer, or distributer,
you are more likely to be hit by lightening than be inspected by the FDA.
You are perfectly free to continue to sell and distribute your poisoned
product, whether it has been poisoned accidentally or intentionally.
The reality is that the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak is a brutal object
lesson in the significant gaps in our ability to track and protect our
food supply. We are ill prepared for a crisis, regardless of who poisons
Somewhere between the farm and your table, our Uncle Sam got lost.
it ain¡¯t so Joe¡±¡¦.. Errrr, David the Food Czar
Posted on August 19, 2008 by Salmonella Attorney
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
Garance Burke, the pied piper of pepper reporting, added fuel to the flames
lapping at what is left of a once proud Federal Agency ? the FDA. Her
story of a few hours ago, ¡°Mexican peppers posed problem long before outbreak,¡±
is less shocking than pathetic. Here is the meat:
Federal inspectors at U.S. border crossings repeatedly turned back filthy,
disease-ridden shipments of peppers from Mexico in the months before a
salmonella outbreak that sickened 1,400 people was finally traced to Mexican
Yet no larger action was taken. Food and Drug Administration officials
insisted as recently as last week that they were surprised by the outbreak
because Mexican peppers had not been spotted as a problem before.
Peppers and chilies were consistently the top Mexican crop rejected by
border inspectors for the last year. Since January alone, 88 shipments
of fresh and dried chilies were turned away. Ten percent were contaminated
with salmonella. In the last year, 8 percent of the 158 intercepted shipments
of fresh and dried chilies had salmonella.
The agency doesn't keep count of what percentage of the nearly 491,200
metric tons of Mexican peppers imported last year were turned away at
the U.S. border. In general, the federal government inspects less than
1 percent of all foreign food entering the country.
And, David Acheson, our Food Czar, linked the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak
to Tomatoes? "Say it ain¡¯t so." With our federal food safety
agencies unable to perform at a basic level of competence, perhaps the
Opinion Piece in the LA Times has things at least partially correct ?
¡°Sold on food safety - Corporate self-interest and fear of lawsuits has
some retailers taking on the role of consumer watchdogs.¡±
If more than 1,400 people were sickened by a nationwide outbreak of salmonella,
could a lawsuit be far behind? A Colorado man has sued Wal-Mart [that
would be my case], claiming that he was sold a tainted jalapeno pepper
even though the retailer leads its customers to believe that the food
it sells is wholesome. [The Salmonella Saintpaul found in his stool was
a match to the peppers found in his home and linked to all 1,400 other
illnesses and the Mexican farms where the peppers were grown].
The opinion piece goes on to say incorrectly, ¡°Wal-Mart, of course, would
have had no way of knowing whether its peppers were tainted [Hmmm, wonder
if Wal-Mart even cared where it could buy peppers the cheapest?]¡¦.¡±
But, then the writer
Considering how amorphous food production is under modern agribusiness
practices -- with processors and distributors commingling and shipping
produce from hundreds of farms, and the FDA unable so far to monitor this
situation in a meaningful way -- retailers represent the consumer's best
chance of being compensated for food poisoning. Because of that, they
also might turn out to be the strongest force for safer agricultural methods.
Bingo! It is time for the big retailers to step up and put food safety
first. Whether it is peppers procured by Wal-Mart or hamburger handled
by Whole Foods, retailers must require ? and pay for ? safe food from
suppliers. Safer food means less ill people, less ill people means less
lawsuits. Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, get the picture? You stop buying contaminated
food and selling it as safe to your customers and I will stop suing you
- easy enough?
USDA drafts guidelines on E. coli sampling in small,
very small beef plants
By Tom Johnston on 8/18/2008
Source of Article: www.meatingplace.com
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service on Friday issued draft compliance
guidelines on sampling beef product for E. coli O157:H7 in small and very
The Draft Guidance document offers specific testing frequency recommendations
for small and very small plants that produce ground beef based on their
"The purpose of this guidance is to help small and very small establishments
develop sampling plans for monitoring the effectiveness of process controls
that are designed to prevent Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7 contaminated
product from leaving the establishment," the agency said.
To view the document, click
the USDA Really Protect When it Comes to Deadly E. coli?
on August 18, 2008 by Food Poisoning Lawyer
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
Guest Blog by Denis W. Stearns:
On October 3, 2002 I submitted a petition to the USDA in which I asked
the agency to explicitly clarify whether a USDA policy that appeared to
allow the deadly pathogen E. coli O157:H7 on so-called ¡°intact meat¡± applied
to meat sold to retail outlets like grocery stores and restaurants. Even
now it is a near-universal practice for retail outlets to use this meat?commonly
called ¡°boxed beef¡± because the cuts of meat are individually shrink-wrapped
and then boxed?to make ground beef. Sometimes the meat is directly used
to make ground beef, and sometimes only trimmings are used?that is, the
pieces left over after roasts and steak are cut and trimmed. Either way,
there has never been any doubt that tens of thousands of grocery stores
and restaurants use tons of intact meat every day to make ground beef.
To my mind it makes absolutely no sense that the USDA would allow meat
companies to sell intact meat contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. Why allow
a loophole so large that it essentially moots USDA policy on this deadly
Interestingly, the USDA responded to my petition with a letter from Philip
Derfler, Deputy Administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service.
In the letter, Mr. Derfler acknowledged that USDA policy was unclear,
and stated that my petition would be treated as a public comment and referred
to the Regulations and Directives Development Staff. That was six years
ago, and USDA policy is less clear today than it was back then, and just
We are now in the midst of yet another outbreak of heartbreaking illnesses
and likely deaths caused by contaminated meat that the beef industry claims
the USDA authorizes it to sell. This claim is hardly new either. In 2004,
the American Meat Institute and other meat industry trade groups fought
all the way to the United States Supreme Court trying to overturn a Wisconsin
Court of Appeals decision. The decision held that USDA policy on intact
meat did not immunize meat companies from lawsuits based on allegations
that E. coli-contaminated meat was unreasonably dangerous as a matter
of state law. In other words, the meat industry was fighting for the right
to sell E. coli-contaminated meat, claiming that USDA policy said that
it could. It lost, but that did not prompt the USDA to change or clarify
Putting legal arguments aside, common sense alone clearly demonstrates
why an exception for intact meat makes no sense. While the meat industry
can cleverly argue that its intact meat is not intended for ground beef,
and that cooking always makes it safe, neither statement is true. As the
recent Nebraska Beef outbreaks make tragically clear, most intact meat
does not reach consumers still intact. Furthermore, if each shrink-wrapped
cut of meat had ¡°DO NOT USE FOR GROUND BEEF; E. COLI O157:H7 PRESENT¡±
printed in bold letters on it, there is not a grocery store in the country
that would buy it. Indeed, commenting on the current outbreak, a representative
of Whole Foods explained that it was using intact meat to make its own
ground beef ¡°in an attempt to assure quality and safety.¡± I guess the
joke was on them then.
The current USDA policy on E. coli and intact meat is indefensible because
it protects the interests of the meat industry instead of the public health.
A policy that is based on the demonstrably false assumption that intact
meat is not being used to make ground beef at a retail level is a policy
that has no basis in fact or reason. It also entirely ignores the incredible
risk of cross-contamination, which is what caused the 2000 outbreak at
a Milwaukee-area Sizzler restaurant that killed one child and sickened
scores of others. The Sizzler outbreak also recently resulted in a $7.1
million verdict against the same meat company that fought to the Supreme
Court (with industry trade groups) for the right to sell the deadly stuff.
Meanwhile, all these years later, the USDA says it is continuing to consider
its options. Well, I have a suggestion: How about putting the interests
of the public first for a change and sticking to a real zero-tolerance
policy for this deadly pathogen?
case confirmed in Alberta
(MEATPOULTRY.com, August 15, 2008)
by Keith Nunes Source of Article: http://www.meatnews.com/
OTTAWA ? Yet another case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (B.S.E.)
has been identified in a six-year-old beef cow from Alberta. The Canadian
Food Inspection Agency (C.F.I.A.) said the animal¡¯s birth farm has been
identified and an investigation is under way.
As with past investigations, the C.F.I.A. is tracing the animal¡¯s herd
mates at the time of birth and looking for possible sources of infection.
The case was detected through Canada¡¯s national B.S.E. surveillance program.
The case is the second this summer. In late June, the C.F.I.A. identified
a case of B.S.E. in a five-year-old Holstein cow in British Columbia.
increases inspections, tightens pepper imports
By Mary Avila
Monday, August 18, 2008 at 10:54 a.m.
Source of Article: http://www.kgbt4.com/news/news_story.aspx?id=176316
Mexican produce imports are in the spotlight once again.
Health officials are still not sure what exactly is behind the salmonella
epidemic but have tightened rules for importing peppers from Mexico.
Just last month, government inspectors visited a potentially infected
plant in McAllen trying to get some answers.
U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) representatives were tight-lipped
about the situation.
But the FDA said on Friday that it has placed tougher border screenings
on a dozen Mexican distributors on its "import alert" list.
The new guidelines became an issue at ports of entry in the Rio Grande
Valley last month.
Produce importers complained their loads were being held up for days and
But FDA is still inspecting farms in Mexico where a handful of jalapeno
and serrano peppers were believed to have contained the bacteria.
More cases of salmonella contamination have since been uncovered although
officials have not revealed how much salmonella bacteria has been found.
fears halt production at Kildare meat plant
OLIVIA KELLY Saturday, August 16, 2008
Source of Article: http://www.irishtimes.com/
A CO KILDARE meat plant which is possibly linked to a salmonella outbreak
in Ireland, Britain and Finland has temporarily halted production.
Dawn Farm Foods said it was stopping meat production at its plant in Naas
to carry out a ¡°pharmaceutical grade cleandown¡± of the entire plant.
The plant will resume production after the cleaning, but the production
line identified as the possible cause of the outbreak will not be reopened.
Up to 119 people in Ireland, Britain and Finland have been infected by
the salmonella agona outbreak, which may be caused by contaminated meat
products made at the Naas plant. A 77-year-old British woman has died
from complications thought to be associated with the outbreak.
The bug can cause serious illness including diarrhoea, stomach cramps,
vomiting and fever.
In a statement yesterday Dawn Farm Foods said the possible link to the
outbreak was associated with one specific production line which was immediately
closed after the company was notified by the Food Safety Authority of
Shipping of all associated products was stopped and the decommissioned
line would not reopen until the final results of the investigation into
the outbreak have been made known.
The company said the entire plant would now be subject to a pharmaceutical
¡°The company has taken this measure as an additional safeguard to reassure
its business customers and the public as to the safety of its products.
Dawn Farm Foods has engaged the services of a specialist bio-activation
technology company normally utilised in the pharmaceutical and biomedical
sectors, to carry out this process.¡±
The cleandown will ensure that the factory is clear of any potential environmental
contaminants, the statement said.
¡°This is the first incident of its kind for Dawn Farm Foods in its 25
years in operation and Dawn Farms is working closely with the authorities
and international experts to ensure that every necessary step is taken
and all efforts are made to protect consumer health and maintain customer
confidence,¡± it added.
The company said the health and safety of consumers was paramount and
it was taking every possible step to bring the matter to a conclusion.
The European Centre for Disease Control this week issued a Europe-wide
public health alert in relation to the outbreak, which was first identified
at the beginning of August.
The centre has confirmed that 14 people across Europe have been hospitalised
due to the outbreak. Four people in the Republic have required hospital
The outbreak has prompted the withdrawal of beef strips, chicken, lamb
and pork supplied to at least eight European countries and to Kuwait.
Dawn Farm Foods voluntarily withdrew the food products after the genetic
fingerprint of salmonella agona was linked to a particular production
line at its Naas plant.
Last Wednesday the food safety authority said additional products had
been identified that could be implicated as a source of the outbreak.
One product in particular had been incorporated into a number of branded
retail packs of chicken and bacon sandwich filler tubs which had been
sold through national retail chains. These products had been withdrawn
by the retailers.
greens food safety program completes first year of audits
Aug 18, 2008 10:32 AM
Source of Article: http://westernfarmpress.com/vegetables/greens-safety-0818/
A model consumer food safety program has completed more than 500 inspections
in its first year thanks to the California Leafy Greens Handler Marketing
In 2007, California farmers came together to raise the bar for food safety.
As a result the LGMA was formed as members work collaboratively to protect
public health by reducing potential sources of contamination in California-grown
There have been no confirmed major incidents since the creation of the
LGMA, which has received very favorable reviews from an independent panel
¡°The LGMA represents an unprecedented commitment to food safety and public
health,¡± said Scott Horsfall, chief executive officer with LGMA. ¡°While
there is always much more work to be done, the leafy greens industry has
come a long way in the last twelve months.¡±
At the heart of the LGMA program is the mandatory government inspection
program which certifies that member companies are implementing food safety
practices, which were developed by university and industry scientists,
food safety experts, farmers, shippers and processors.
These food safety practices were also reviewed by state and federal government
health agencies. All LGMA member companies are subject to mandatory government
inspections on a regular, but random basis, to ensure LGMA-accepted food
safety practices are being implemented.
The inspections are conducted by California Department of Food and Agriculture
inspectors who receive special training and certification from the United
States Department of Agriculture.
Currently, LGMA members represent over 99 percent of the volume of leafy
green products produced in California. If an LGMA member is found to be
out of compliance with the established food safety practices, they can
be decertified from the program. Buyers of leafy green products support
the LGMA program by only purchasing these products from certified member
Recent research shows that the leafy green industry¡¯s approach to food
safety can generate very favorable opinions among consumers. In a nationwide
survey conducted in early 2008, 89 percent of consumers had a favorable
opinion of the required food safety program including mandatory government
inspections. And, 70 percent said the LGMA food safety program raised
their confidence in the safety of leafy greens.
Further, almost 60 percent of consumers believe food safety is better
protected by a program that employs government oversight and mandatory
government inspections rather than private auditing companies following
a set by individual companies.
Fourteen leafy green products are covered by the LGMA including: Arugula;
Butter Lettuce; Chard; Escarole; Iceberg Lettuce; Spinach; Red Leaf Lettuce;
Baby Leaf Lettuce; Cabbage Endive; Green Leaf Lettuce; Kale; Romaine Lettuce;
and Spring Mix.
A Safe, Says FDA
FDA Issues Draft Report on Bisphenol A Noting "Adequate
Margin of Safety" in Typical Exposure From Food
By Miranda Hitti
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
Source of Article: http://www.webmd.com/
Aug. 15, 2008 -- Bisphenol A, the controversial plastic chemical, is safe
at typical exposure levels from food and drink, according to an FDA draft
Bisphenol A, also called BPA, is found in polycarbonate plastic, including
some water bottles and baby bottles, and in epoxy resins, which are used
to line metal products including canned foods.
The draft report states that based on lab tests in rodents, infants and
adults are exposed to bisphenol A levels that are below toxic levels.
"Safe or safety means that there is reasonable certainty in the minds
of competent scientists that the substance is not harmful under the intended
conditions of use," but "complete certainty of absolute harmlessness
is scientifically impossible to establish," the draft report states.
Bisphenol A safety became a hot topic in April, when U.S. government scientists
at the National Toxicology Program (NTP) expressed "some" concern
about bisphenol A's possible effects on the mammary gland, prostate gland,
and accelerated female puberty.
Since then, there's been a storm of bisphenol A publicity, with major
retailers including Wal-Mart backing away from baby bottles containing
bisphenol A, the FDA probing bisphenol A safety, and consumers wondering
how concerned they should be.
"It's become a bit of a media spectacle," says Sarah Vogel,
PhD, MPH, whose Columbia University dissertation traces the politics,
economics, and scientific history of bisphenol A.
That spectacle hasn't let up. Today's FDA draft report, which doesn't
recommend banning bisphenol A, is the latest development. But California
lawmakers are debating a bill that would limit bisphenol A to trace amounts
in products for kids age 3 and younger, and the NTP's final report is
expected this summer. An FDA subcommittee will meet on Sept. 16 to discuss
the FDA's draft report on bisphenol A.
But will those reports settle the bisphenol A safety debate? Or have the
questions lodged in the public consciousness, with opinion outpacing official
guidance? And when all is said and done, will you ever look at your water
bottles, baby bottles, and canned foods the same way?
It depends whom you ask, with three very different viewpoints vying for
View No.1: No Need
This is the stance that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) took
in late July -- and it's in line with today's FDA draft report.
An EFSA panel reviewed bisphenol A research -- mostly done on rodents
-- and concluded that bisphenol A passes through the human body much faster
than in rodents, with little chance for harm to human fetuses or newborns.
That finding "supports FDA's position that data we have reviewed
up until this time support the safety of the currently permitted uses
of BPA in food contact material," FDA spokesman Sebastian Cianci
told WebMD by email last week, before the draft report was issued. Like
the European report, the FDA's draft report argues that studying bisphenol
A's effects in rodents may "overestimate" bisphenol A's effects
The American Chemistry Council, a plastics industry trade group, praises
the FDA's conclusion. In a news release, the council says the FDA's draft
report "strongly reaffirms" the safety of bisphenol A and calls
the draft report "the most up-to-date analysis on the safety of bisphenol
A in the world."
Steven Hentges, PhD, of the American Chemistry Council's Polycarbonate/BPA
Global Group, told WebMD last week that consumers and companies that ditched
bisphenol A made those decisions "very quickly, without having complete
and final information."
Hentges says the studies that touched off concern "really aren't
very robust." He also sees a "language" issue dating back
to the NTP's draft report.
"The NTP language was 'some concern' and people tended to focus on
the word 'concern' without realizing or really thinking through that there's
a qualifier up front: 'some,'" says Hentges.
View No. 2: Cause
People with concerns about bisphenol A -- including some scientists studying
bisphenol A -- see no proof that bisphenol A is harmless in humans.
Vogel, who will start a fellowship at the nonprofit Chemical Heritage
Foundation in Philadelphia this fall, favors banning bisphenol A, but
she doesn't think that a ban is likely.
Earlier this week, Vogel told WebMD she expected the FDA would, "at
a minimum, would decide to reduce the reference dose," which is the
acceptable amount of bisphenol A exposure in everyday life. That didn't
happen; the FDA's draft report doesn't mention changing the reference
Vogel wasn't immediately available to comment on the FDA's draft report.
The nonprofit Environmental Working Group -- which Vogel doesn't work
for -- issued a news release criticizing the FDA's draft report. "We
have long since lost faith in FDA's ability to be an impartial authority
on FDA's safety. Time and again, FDA has sided with special interests
instead of the public interest on this chemical," Renee Sharp, a
senior analyst with the Environmental Working Group, says in the news
Almost 93% of Americans have detectable levels of bisphenol A in their
urine, Vogel observes, citing CDC data on urine samples provided by some
2,500 Americans aged 6 and older for a national health survey in 2003-2004.
Those CDC figures don't connect bisphenol A to health effects. But the
data, along with bisphenol A research on animals, "doesn't make me
feel great," Vogel says. She'd like to see stricter safety standards
and more research in people, as long as research doesn't become a stalling
tactic. "If it's a way to delay any decision on BPA, it's really
frustrating," says Vogel.Hentges counters that "with bisphenol
A, we already know so much about it ... it's not likely that anyone's
going to do an experiment tomorrow that will render everything that we
know today wrong."
View No. 3: The Precautionary
Canadian health officials took what they called a "prudent"
approach in April, when they proposed banning bisphenol A in baby bottles,
although their risk assessment didn't find proof of danger."Canada
really took the lead and said this is what the precautionary principle
looks like," says Vogel. "It will be interesting to see how
it plays out."
Hentges stresses the fact that the Canadian proposal isn't law yet and
isn't based on science. "If you dig into the details of the science,
you find that they're really quite similar -- Canada, NTP... Europe. None
of them found those studies to be really compelling, none found them to
be really suitable for making any kind of real conclusion."
Meanwhile, Vogel says the bisphenol A issue goes beyond baby bottles and
water bottles. She's concerned about bisphenol A in the environment, workers
who handle bisphenol A, and the government's chemical safety standards
and risk assessment process.
"These are really big issues," says Vogel. She sees a larger
tug of war between people's desire to "do what's right" and
to be reassured that "everything is fine."
What to do in the meantime? Here's what the FDA told consumers in April,
when the media frenzy began. It's advice that focuses only on baby bottles,
not other sources of bisphenol A."At this time, FDA is not recommending
that anyone discontinue using products that contain BPA while we continue
our risk-assessment process. However, concerned consumers should know
that several alternatives to polycarbonate baby bottles exist, including
glass baby bottles."
outbreak winds down; questions remain
Source of Article: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jFyDyMJjsAW0XxBNGpIldKhhToOgD92ITCNG0
WASHINGTON (AP) ?
The nationwide salmonella outbreak is finally winding down but federal
health officials can't yet say how the few tainted Mexican peppers they've
found could explain such widespread illness.
The outbreak isn't considered over yet, Food and Drug Administration food
safety chief Dr. David Acheson cautioned Friday. The outbreak strain has
been confirmed in 1,423 patients, with the latest known illness beginning
The FDA is focusing its probe on some farms in Mexico where a handful
of jalapeno and serrano peppers, and some irrigation water, tainted with
the outbreak strain of salmonella were traced. At least one of the farms
also grew tomatoes the initial suspect as well as peppers. And two of
them sent produce to a common packing facility, raising the prospect that
contamination there could have spread to a much higher volume of food.
The FDA said Friday it is still working with Mexican authorities to determine
exactly what happened in that packing facility.
And the agency has expanded testing of certain Mexican produce, uncovering
more cases of salmonella contamination just not the same strain that caused
this particular outbreak in jalapenos, basil and cilantro. While Acheson
wouldn't say how much salmonella is being found, the agency has put a
dozen Mexican growers or distributors on its "import alert"
list for tougher border screening this month alone.
Official, Nebraska Beef Has Trouble Controlling E. coli
Date Published: Friday, August 15th, 2008
Source of Article: http://www.newsinferno.com/archives/3650
According to a recently released Associated Press report, federal investigators
have just determined that Nebraska Beef Limited¡¯s practices could not
effectively control E. coli bacteria on June 24. Because of this Nebraska
Beef¡¯s latest recall has been expanded.
A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) spokeswoman, Laura Reiser,
says that investigators felt that about 160,000 pounds of meat needed
to be added to the most recent recall that began last Friday. This decision
came after a USDA review of the Omaha company¡¯s records. Meanwhile, approximately
1.36 million pounds of primal cuts, subprimal cuts, and boxed beef, that
were made on June 17, June 24, and July 8, have now been included in the
August 8 recall.
Nebraska Beef¡¯s intact meat products have been linked to 27 illnesses
in Canada, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey,
New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, according to the
AP report. Also, recently, The Washington Post reported that the newest
strain that has been coming out of the Massachusetts outbreak is from
the same as that E. coli strain which sickened 31 people in 12 states,
the District of Columbia, and Canada. Nebraska Beef is the meat supplier
and processor implicated in the E. coli outbreak that was linked to Kroger
Grocery, as well.
This is not the first time Nebraska Beef has been in the epicenter of
seriously questionable practices and food contamination illness and death.
According to the Washington Post, Nebraska Beef has received numerous
sanitation violations over the past six years, for example:
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) shut down Nebraska Beef three
times in 2002 and 2003 after discovering ¡°feces on carcasses, water dripping
off pipes onto meat, paint peeling onto equipment, and plugged-up meat
Nebraska Beef was written up no less than five times in 2004 and early
2005 for not removing brains or spinal cords from the food supply, as
required. These parts are of particular concern because it is there that
bovine spongiform encephalopathy?mad cow disease?can originate.
In August 2006, US inspectors ¡°threatened to suspend Nebraska Beef operations
for not following requirements for controlling E. coli.¡±
In 2006, ¡°Minnesota health officials blamed Nebraska Beef for sickening
17 people who ate meatballs at a Minnesota church potluck. Several victims
filed lawsuits against Nebraska Beef, including the family of a woman
Other reports also indicate that in 2003, the USDA went to court in an
attempt to try to shut down Nebraska Beef¡¯s Omaha packing plant after
citing it for numerous violations. In 2007, Nebraska Beef sued the USDA
saying its inspectors had unfairly targeted it. Last month, A USDA Food
Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) investigation at two processing plants
that collaborated with Nebraska Beef revealed E. coli contamination occurred
because some production practices took place under ¡°insanitary¡± conditions
insufficient to prevent E. coli bacteria.
committee on microbiological criteria for foods seeks nominations
By Ann Bagel Storck on 8/14/2008
Source of Article: www.meatingplace.com
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service has announced a call for nominations
for the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods
The committee is looking for individuals with scientific expertise in
the fields of epidemiology, food technology, microbiology, risk assessment,
infectious disease, biostatistics and other related sciences. Individuals
who may be currently employed by state and federal governments, industry,
academia or consumer groups are also invited to submit nominations. Members
who are not federal government employees will be appointed to serve as
non-compensated special government employees (SGEs). SGEs will be subject
to appropriate conflict-of-interest statutes and standards of ethical
The nominee's typed resume or curriculum vitae must be limited to five
one-sided pages and should include educational background, expertise and
a select list of publications authored. The current charter for the NACMCF
and other information about the committee are available here.
Send nominations and submissions to Karen Thomas-Sharp, advisory committee
specialist, Room 333, Aerospace Center, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Washington,
D.C. 20250. Sharp also can be reached at 202-690-6620 or at Karen.Thomas-Sharp@fsis.usda.gov.
Deadline is Sept. 7.
Salmonella outbreak spreads to Sweden and France
DR MUIRIS HOUSTON, Medical Correspondent
Source of Article: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2008/0819/1218868120742.html
THE SALMONELLA outbreak possibly linked to a meat plant in Co Kildare
has now spread to Sweden and France, bringing to five the number of European
Union countries affected.
The latest figures for the outbreak of salmonella agona, released last
night, show some 132 people have now been infected by the bug. Sweden
has reported its first two cases, while France has confirmed one person
has been infected by the relatively rare strain of the bacterium.
There has been one death linked to the salmonella outbreak. A 77-year-old
British woman died from complications thought to be associated with the
The genetic fingerprint of the microbe has been linked to a particular
production line at the Dawn Farm Foods plant in Naas.
Of the 132 people with salmonella-induced food poisoning, some 125 have
the same genetic fingerprint as samples taken from the meat plant. Final
test results are awaited on a further seven cases.
Dawn Farm Foods decided to close the entire plant for a week last Friday.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland said yesterday that this decision
was the company's own and not based on specific advice from the authority.
Responding to weekend reports that the particular type of salmonella agona
identified as the cause of the outbreak had been found in a river in Scotland,
the authority said the investigation was ongoing.
"We are continuing to look at all possible sources, but at the moment
the only company implicated is Dawn Farm Foods," the authority added.
The food production company said it was the responsibility of EU authorities
to track down other sources for the outbreak "should they exist".
A spokeswoman for the Health Protection Surveillance Centre said a water
specimen taken from a Scottish river contained the exact same strain of
salmonella but it had subsequently been established that the microbe had
originated in a sewage outlet and was therefore the result rather than
the cause of the outbreak.
Of the 132 people who have become sick as a result of salmonella agona
infection, some 76 cases have been identified in England with Scotland
reporting 31 cases. Eleven people in the Republic are now known to have
been affected, with four of these requiring hospital treatment. Finland,
France and Sweden are the other EU states where cases have been found.The
European Centre for Disease Control has reported that the Finnish case
arose after the person ate beef strips contained in a sandwich.As a result
of the outbreak, beef strips, chicken, lamb and pork supplied to at least
eight European countries and to Kuwait have been withdrawn by Dawn Farm
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