Comprehensive News List
General Food Safety News/ Outbreak News/ Recall News/ New Methods News/
News/ On-Line Slides/ Job Information/Internet Journal of Food Safety



Sponsorship Q/A

Click here
to go
Main Page


Click here
to go
List of Newsletters

To subscribe this Food Safety Newsletter,
Click here


Internet Journal of Food Safety

Job Opennings



Food Safety and Quality Conference

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Conference Place: The South San Francisco Conference Center
8:00 - 8:30 Registration and Breakfast (Juice, Tea, Coffee, and Bread)
8:40 - 9:00 Opening Announcement
Keynote Speakers
9:00 - 10:00 Detection of Foodborne Pathogens for Food Safety
Daniel Y.C. Fung -
Director of Rapid Methods and Automation
in Microbiology Workshop (KSU)
-Professor, Dept. Animal Science and Industries, Kansas State University
10:00 - 11:00 Current Foodborne Outbreak and Iegal Issues
William D. Marler, Esq. -
MarlerClark attorneys at Law

11:00 - 11:20 Coffee Break in Exhibitors' Section (Salon G,H,I,J)
11:20 - 12:20 - Industrial Actions for Food Safety and Quality
Stan Bailey, Microbiologist, bioMerieux (2008 IAFP President)
12:20 - 1:30 Lunch will be supported by conference organization
1:30 - 2:30 Food Safety and Quality Challenges of food products
Erdogan Ceylan - Director of Research. Silliker, Inc.
2:30 - 3:30: - Foodborne Outbreaks and Food Industries' Actions
Jenny Scott - IAFP President (2000-2001) - VP-FPA
3:30 - 3:50: Coffee Break in Exibitors' Section (Salon G,H,I,J)
3:50 - 5:00: Wine and Cheese Reception Visting Exhibitors' Sections
Sponsored by Bio-Rad (Wendy Lauer)
5:00: Adjourn

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Conference place: The South San Francisco Conference Center (Salon F-J)
8:00 - 9:00 Registration and Breakfast (Juice, Tea, Coffee, and Bread)
9:00 - 10:00: Special Presentation for Ethnic Food Safety
Daniel Y.C. Fung -Director of Rapid Methods and Automation
in Microbiology Workshop (KSU)
-Professor, Dept. Animal Science and Industries, Kansas State University
10:00 - 11:00:Extending food safety throughout the supply chain
Craig Henry - Senior VP. GMA/FPA
11:00 - 11:20 Coffee Break in Exhibitors' Section (Salon G,H,I,J)
11:20 - 12:20 Pathogenesis of E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes
Dong-Hyun Kang, - Associate Professor, Washington State University
Director of Detection Center, National Alliance Food Safety and Security
12:20 - 1:20 Lunch will be supported by Conference organization.
1:20 - 2:10 - Rapid detection methods for food safety and quality
Ken Davenport - Global Technical Services Product Specialist -3M
2:10 - 3:00 - The Changing Food Safety Landscape: Protecting Our Products and Consumers in a Global Society, Paul Hall, - IAFP President (2004-2005)
3:00 - 3:45 Major Spoilage bacteria in Fruit and vegetable juices- Alicyclobacillus,
SuSen Chang - Research Associate, Washington State University
3:45 - 4:00 Coffee Break in Exhibitors' Section (Salon G,H,I,J)
4:00 - 5:00 Panel Discussion: Food Industries' Actions for Food Safety and Quality.
Dicussion leader : Stan Bailey
5:00 Certificate and Adjourn
Click here to see conference program

Oklahoma E coli Outbreak Sickens Nearly 300
Date Published: Tuesday, September 16th, 2008
Source of Article:
The number of people involved in a restaurant-related outbreak of an uncommon strain of E. coli has risen to nearly 300. To date, there have been 291 cases of E. coli reported?227 adults and 36 children?with 67 who were hospitalized and 18 cases not yet identified. Sixteen of those hospitalized received kidney dialysis treatment and one man, 26-year-old Chad Engle?has died. Nine of the patients on dialysis were children.

Escheria coli has been blamed for the outbreaks. Some strains of E. coli, including those linked to food poisoning, such as E coli O157:H7, are very serious and can sometimes cause death. In food poisoning outbreaks involving E. coli, the deadly strain O157:H7 is generally always the culprit. While some strains of E. coli are necessary for digestion, some are harmful, even fatal, such as the very rare and toxin-producing strain E. coli O111 that is the culprit in this outbreak. Both strains are among those E. coli that may cause serious disease and death and are in a group called Verocytotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC) and can cause fatal blood poisoning, cystitis, deadly septicemia, and death. In the US, E. coli is the leading cause of food-borne illness, accounting for about 73,000 infections and 61 deaths; last year, over 22 million pounds of beef and vegetables were recalled due to E. coli outbreaks. Oklahoma officials have said they believe the current outbreak is the largest involving strain E. coli O111 ever reported in United States history.

Most of those who fell ill from the rare E. coli strain ate at the Country Cottage restaurant in Locust Grove between August 15 and 17, according to the Oklahoma State Health Department (OSHD); however, a specific food source for the outbreak has not yet been identified, despite a massive interview undertaking that has involved over 1,700 people Right now, health officials are investigating a church event that was catered by the Country Cottage restaurant on August 16. At least 30 of the 250 people who attended the event at the Bethany Free Will Baptist Church in Broken Arrow reported falling ill with diarrhea and other symptoms. That portion of the investigation included the Tulsa Health Department and a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Meanwhile, Country Cottage, which is a buffet-style restaurant in business for over 22 years, has had 88 health department violations since 2004. The violations range from improper food storage to improper food temperatures. Cross contamination violations occurred in 2005 and 2006, according to health department reports. This type of contamination can take place when, for instance, a meat product is placed near a product such as eggs. Cross contamination was originally suspected in the oubreak; however, an OSDH official said last week that because investigators had not identified a specific food source, they believe that a staff member who handled many foods at the restaurant might have been infected and spread the contamination. The department said it did not plan to interview any more customers of the restaurant after September 12.

New E. coli Outbreak Emerging at Michigan State University
Date Published: Tuesday, September 16th, 2008
Source of Article:
Ingham County Health Department is investigating an emerging E. coli bacteria outbreak at the Michigan State University after 10 students were treated this weekend with severe gastrointestinal illness that appeared to be E. coli poisoning. Seven remained hospitalized as of yesterday; spokesman John Lux said all of those who fell ill are responding well to treatment and their conditions are ¡°favorable for their recovery.¡±
Investigators are trying to determine where and when the students ate based on swipes of their college ID cards in campus cafeterias and eateries. The information on these activities is expected back today and is hoped to help locate if bacteria in the food supply there may still be a threat. ¡°We are trying to get a grasp on how big this (outbreak) is,¡± said Dr. Dean G. Sienko, Ingham County Health Department officer. This is the first such food-borne outbreak Sienko remembers that involves a health department investigation at MSU in the past two decades, he said. The investigation is in its early stages as investigators continue to work to determine the scope and cause of the sickness and the specific E. coli strain. Sienko believes that since the last reported case of onset occurred on Friday, the outbreak may have fully run is course, but because many who fall ill with food-borne illnesses do not ever seek care, many others may have also been contaminated.
E. coli are a group of bacteria found in animal intestines and feces. Some strains of Escherichia coli are necessary for digestion; some are harmful, even deadly, such as the very rare and toxin-producing strain E. coli O111 that is the culprit in the ongoing Oklahoma outbreak. Also, of particular concern is the virulent, sometimes deadly E. coli O157:H7 stain that is generally found to be the culprit in E. coli-related food-borne illness outbreaks. Both strains are among those E. coli that may cause serious disease and death and are in a group called Verocytotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC) and are linked to food poisoning and are very serious and can cause fatal blood poisoning, cystitis, deadly septicemia, and death. In the US, E. coli is the leading cause of food-borne illness, accounting for about 73,000 infections and 61 deaths; last year, over 22 million pounds of beef and vegetables were recalled due to E. coli outbreaks.
Scientists are concerned infections from antibiotic resistant E. coli bacteria are spreading into the greater population and several countries are now reporting such cases. Researchers compare this to the worldwide problem of community-acquired MRSA?methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus?an antibiotic-resistant staph developing resistance to the last drug of choice. In addition, emerging data confirms that E. coli¡¯s negative health effects can remain for months and years and that these illnesses can have long-term, lasting effects that can either linger for months or years or can show up months or years after the original illness was seemingly resolved with problems emerging as late as 10 to 20 years later in the form of kidney problems, high blood pressure, and kidney failure.

E. coli Outbreaks still a Risk in Leafy Greens
Posted on September 12, 2008 by Food Poisoning Attorney
Source of Article:
I spent the day is a well-run, informative, conference sponsored by Fresh Express (never sued them). The science was interesting and well presented. The bottom line however is there is far more research needed and the risks to consumers are still quite real in the consumption of ¡°ready-to-eat¡± products. Here are some of the highlights from the scientists:
1. Contamination can spread during washing, cutting in the fields and the tumble drying of greens
2. Chlorinated water alone isn't enough to kill the pathogens.
3. Some varieties of spinach with textured leaves have greater potential for harboring pathogens than smooth-leaf varieties.
4. E. coli can paralyze pore closures (somata) on spinach leaves and allow bacteria into the plant.
5. Compost used inorganic operations can retain traces of live E. coli cells that can reconstitute under the right conditions.
6. Spinach and lettuce harvested on hotter days are more likely to create an environment for pathogen growth.
7. Lower product temperature, especially during transportation, lowers risk of bacterial growth.
8. Flies or other insects can excrete bacteria in their fecal droplets.
9. It seems apparent that the E. coli bacteria is not absorbed by the roots into the plant structure.
OK, not much good news here. The only two areas that seemed hopeful was that some research on E. coli transmission found ozone gas is faster and more effective than chlorinated water at sanitizing leafy greens. And, although not mentioned until the last hour, irradiation of leafy greens can make food safer.
Bottom line ? more work to do.

Additional Food Safety Measures Needed For Imported Produce
Posted on: Monday, 15 September 2008, 09:05 CDT
Source of Article:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suspects a packing plant in northern Mexico, along with its warehouse in McAllen, Texas, are the sources of the largest U.S. outbreak of food borne illness during the last ten years. The outbreak infected more than 1,440 people with a rare form of salmonella.
The packing plant sits at the end of a dirt road, where the conveyer belts that process hundreds of tons of vegetables each year for Mexican and U.S. markets are openly exposed to the elements, sheltered only by a corrugated metal roof.
An Associated Press report said the plant¡¯s manager confirmed that workers handling chili peppers are not required to separate the vegetables according to the sanitary conditions in which they were grown. This might explain how such a large outbreak was caused by such a rare strain of salmonella. The AP probe discovered that while some Mexican producers operate under stringent sanitary conditions, many others do not, but export their produce to the United States nonetheless.
Neither the Mexican or U.S. governments impose safety requirements on farms and processing plants. In fact, Mexican companies need only register online to be able to sell their produce in the United States. Some Mexican farms and processing plants have set high sanitation standards, certified by private companies, so they can sell to U.S. supermarket chains that wouldn't purchase produce from uncertified ones.
However, there is no public record of those chains that mandate these sanitary practices, therefore there is no way to know whether the produce in a particular store is certified.
The entire U.S. government enforcement is comprised of 625 FDA inspectors who conduct spot checks of U.S. and foreign produce. However, less than 1 percent of total imports are inspected, and anything beyond that is left entirely to the supermarkets and restaurants.
The top Mexican farmers grow crops in fenced-off fields, using fresh water irrigation and packing their produce in spotless plants with workers dressed in protective gear. However, plenty of farms remain where unfenced fields allow animals to roam freely and which use untreated water, sometimes laced with sewage.
Salmonella can exist on the skin of produce, or can penetrate the inside of fruits and vegetables. And while cooking will kill the bacteria, washing raw produce doesn't always eliminate it. For this reason, safety experts emphasize the importance of preventing such contamination in the first place.
Agricola Zaragoza is one of Mexico¡¯s uncertified plants, manager Emilio Garcia told the AP. It washes produce from both certified and uncertified producers, opening up the possibility for contamination, he said, while declining to provide details about his suppliers.
The FDA suspects Serrano chilies and Mexican jalapeno processed at Agricola Zaragoza are responsible for the latest outbreak, but it also believes tomatoes may have been involved. It admits the true source may never be conclusively confirmed.
Cesar Fragoso, president of Mexico's Chili Peppers Growers Association, told the AP most Mexican pepper farms market their produce to distributors without knowing their final destination. For that reason, he said, few go through the process of obtaining certification.
In addition, significant amounts of produce pass from distributor to distributor on its way to a final destination, something that increases the potential for contamination. These multi-step transit routes also make tracing outbreaks much more difficult. In fact, just 10 percent of outbreaks are ever completely resolved, said former FDA official William Hubbard.
"It is very common for distributors to receive products from numerous sources, numerous farms and in some cases multiple countries," Hubbard told the AP.
"That's just the way produce moves."
In the latest salmonella case, the U.S. federal government traced the suspect jalapenos to two farms in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Both farms shipped through Agricola Zaragoza in nearby Nuevo Leon state, which then shipped the peppers to its warehouse in McAllen, Texas, where the FDA discovered the first contaminated jalapeno pepper.
Though typically not as large-scale, salmonella and other outbreaks are fairly common, with more than 3,000 occurring between 1990 and 2006 from foods regulated by the FDA, according to data from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. These figures include fruits, vegetables and seafood, and contamination within the U.S. and overseas.
Among the cases is a 2004 hepatitis outbreak, linked to Mexican-grown green onions, that resulted in the deaths of four people and that sickened 650 in Pennsylvania. A nationwide E. coli outbreak in 2006, traced to tainted spinach from California, infected roughly 300 people, killing three.
The Senate is looking at a bill that would require the FDA to set regulations for guaranteeing safer fresh produce. In Mexico, a federal produce safety law was passed in 1994, but experts say it is rarely enforced.
U.S. Produce Marketing Associations vice president Kathy Means told the AP that food safety falls to the food industry, with a majority of major produce buyers requiring both U.S. and foreign producers to conduct third-party audits. But not all buyers follow the same rules, she said.
"It's not government-regulated, so it's up to the company to require it.¡±
Alfonso Alvarez's fenced-off 15-acre farm in Jalisco state contains tomatoes that are grown in greenhouses and irrigated with deep well water. Workers wear protective hair nets, aprons and gloves, and signs can be seen throughout the facility reminding workers to wash their hands after going to the restroom.
Alvarez sells its crop to a Canadian company, which then imports to the U.S. and Canada. Alvarez has required his farm to be certified by a private U.S. company.
"Those of us who want to enter the U.S. market and position our brand know we must meet all those standards, because we also know it will be a profitable business in the long run," he told the AP.
"Those who grow in open fields will ruin it for those who produce in greenhouses," he said, "and that's not fair."
He and other Mexican farmers with sanitary farms want the U.S. to establish a certification program for both growers and packing plants.

Genetic link to mad cow found
The Wichita Eagle
Posted on Sat, Sep. 13, 2008
Source of Article:
Researchers have discovered that genetic mutation may sometimes cause mad cow disease, raising hopes that breeders will be able to use the information to eliminate one avenue for the disease.
The findings were announced Friday by Kansas State University, where one of the researchers, Juergen Richt, joined its veterinary medicine faculty this summer.
"We now know (mad cow disease is) also in the genes of cattle," Richt said. "Genetic BSE we can combat."
Until several years ago, Richt said it was thought that mad cow disease -- bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE -- was strictly a foodborne disease. But the new findings show the disease is also caused by a genetic mutation within the prion protein gene.
"Our findings that there is a genetic component to BSE are significant," Richt said, "because they tell you we can have this disease everywhere in the world, even in so-called BSE-free countries."
But the real upside of having this knowledge is that it offers ways of stamping out the disease through selective breeding and culling of genetically affected animals, Richt added.
George Teagarden, livestock commissioner for the state of Kansas, welcomed the development.
"This could be a real boom," he said in Hutchinson, where he was attending the State Fair. "We could breed our way out of it.
"I don't know what the genetic tests are, the costs and what all that entails. But we're making progress in understanding the disease, and that's good."
Richt worked on the research in 2006 with Mark Hall in Ames, Iowa, where Hall is with the National Veterinary Services Laboratories. Richt worked at the time for the USDA's National Animal Disease Center.
An article on the research was published online Friday by PLoS Pathogens, a peer-reviewed journal published by the Public Library of Science.
The research came from studies done on a 10-year-old cow from Alabama.
BSE is a fatal disease that affects mostly older animals and is rarely seen in animals younger than 24 months.

Common plastics chemical linked to human diseases
Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:52am EDT
By Michael Kahn
Source of Article:
LONDON (Reuters) - A study has for the first time linked a common chemical used in everyday products such as plastic drink containers and baby bottles to health problems, specifically heart disease and diabetes.
Until now, environmental and consumer activists who have questioned the safety of bisphenol A, or BPA, have relied on studies showing harm from exposure in laboratory animals.
But British researchers, who published their findings on Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, analyzed urine and blood samples from 1,455 U.S. adults aged 18 to 74 who were representative of the general population.
Using government health data, they found that the 25 percent of people with the highest levels of bisphenol A in their bodies were more than twice as likely to have heart disease and, or diabetes compared to the 25 percent of with the lowest levels.
"Most of these findings are in keeping with what has been found in animal models," Iain Lang, a researcher at the University of Exeter in Britain who worked on the study, told a news conference.
"This is the first ever study (of this kind) that has been in the general population," Lang said.
Steven Hentges of the American Chemistry Council, a chemical industry group, said the design of the study did not allow for anyone to conclude BPA causes heart disease and diabetes.
"At least from this study, we cannot draw any conclusion that bisphenol A causes any health effect. As noted by the authors, further research will be needed to understand whether these statistical associations have any relevance at all for human health," Hentges said in a telephone interview.
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel of outside experts on Tuesday will hear testimony on health effects from BPA as it reviews a draft report it issued last month calling BPA safe.
"The study, while preliminary with regard to these diseases in humans, should spur U.S. regulatory agencies to follow recent action taken by Canadian regulatory agencies, which have declared BPA a 'toxic chemical' requiring aggressive action to limit human and environmental exposures," Frederick vom Saal of the University of Missouri and John Peterson Myers of the nonprofit U.S.-based Environmental Health Sciences, wrote in a commentary accompanying the study.

BPA is used to make polycarbonate plastic, a clear shatter-resistant material in products ranging from baby and water bottles to plastic eating utensils to sports safety equipment and medical devices.It also is used to make durable epoxy resins used as the coating in most food and beverage cans and in dental fillings.People can consume BPA when it leaches out of plastic into liquid such as baby formula, water or food inside a container.
In the study, the team said the chemical is present in more than 90 percent of people, suggesting there is not much that can be done to avoid the chemical of which over 2.2 million tons is produced each year.The researchers, who will also present their findings at the U.S. FDA session on Tuesday, added it was too early to identify a mechanism through which the chemical may be doing harm.Animal studies have suggested the chemical may disrupt hormones, especially estrogen.The researchers also cautioned that these findings are just the first step and more work is needed to determine if the chemical actually is a direct cause of disease."Bisphenol A is one of the world's most widely produced and used chemicals, and one of the problems until now is we don't know what has been happening in the general population," said Tamara Galloway, a University of Exeter researcher who worked on the study.Canada's government in April decided BPA was harmful to infants and toddlers and announced plans to ban some products.The European Union's top food safety body said in July the amount of BPA found in baby bottles cannot harm human health.
(Reporting by Michael Kahn, Editing by Will Dunham)

Study: lettuce roots probably don't absorb E. coli
The Associated Press
Article Launched: 09/11/2008 09:44:57 AM PDT
Source of Article:
MONTEREY, Calif.?Researchers say lettuce and other leafy greens do not seem to absorb a deadly E. coli pathogen through water applied to the roots.
Scientists are releasing results of the first major study on E. coli transmission since the 2006 spinach outbreak that killed three people and sickened 200 others.
Michael Doyle of the University of Georgia told 300 lettuce industry executives Thursday that absorption "may not be a big issue." Others scheduled to speak in Monterey will address potential contamination during processing of bagged salad mix.
Officials of industry leader Chiquita Fresh Express say they paid $2 million to nine research teams to protect the $2.8 billion industry from another outbreak.

Bacterial infection of three residents could be from bad milk
By Margaret Gibbons, Special to The Mercury
09/16/2008 Source of Article:
NORRISTOWN ? Three Montgomery County residents have been stricken with a bacteria infection that may be linked to raw milk produced and sold at a Bucks County farm, according to health officials.

Acting on the recommendation of the state Department of Agriculture, the Hendricks Farm and Dairy of Telford has voluntarily suspended the sale of raw milk until laboratory results of milk samples gathered last week are complete, according to state agriculture press secretary Chris Ryder.
The completed test results should be available later today, Ryder said.
The farm issued a statement on its Web site that said, "HF & D is very concerned by the health issues some families have suffered from recently."
"We are willingly complying with the commonwealth's recommended temporary discontinuation of fluid raw milk sales. We continue to comply with all regulations and guidelines and we remain optimistic that we will be exonerated when the test results become available Tuesday. At this time, there is no conclusive evidence. Our track record and history consist of stellar test results and we have never had a positive pathogen test in our 7-year history."

Tests performed last week by the company's normal laboratory did not indicate any problems, according to the Web site.
The farm sells some 600 gallons of raw, unpasteurized milk a week to more than 300 families, according to the Web site.
Montgomery County health officials Friday reported that two residents were diagnosed with campylobacteriosis linked to raw milk produced at the farm.
Another case was confirmed Monday, according to county health department spokesman Harriet Morton.
The residents, from the Harleysville, Pennsburg and Huntingdon Valley areas, are among seven cases reported statewide and one from a neighboring state in the outbreak, she said. The one common source in all of the cases is raw milk purchased at the Hendricks Farm and Dairy, Morton added.Campylobacter bacteria can be found in raw or undercooked fruits, vegetables, poultry and meat, unprocessed water and unpasteurized dairy products. The bacteria can also be contracted through direct contact with animals including cattle, dogs and cats, poultry, rodents and birds.
To date, there have been 66 cases of campylobacteriosis reported this year in the county. There were 91 cases in 2007. The county averages between 80 and 90 cases a year.
What makes this cluster different from the other cases is that they appear to stem from one cause while most other cases are unrelated, according to Morton.
Symptoms of the bacterial infection include diarrhea that is often bloody, abdominal pain, weakness, fever, nausea and vomiting, said Morton.
Onset of the infection occurs two to five days after exposure and the symptoms usually continue for up to one week. Prolonged illness and relapses may occur in adults although most persons infected with the bacteria recover without any specific treatment, according to Morton.Persons wanting more information about campylobacter infections can contact the county health department at 610-278-5117 or go to the federal Centers for Disease Control's Web site at

FDA Issues Health Information Advisory on Infant Formula
source from FDA
In response to reports of contaminated milk-based infant formula manufactured in China, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today is issuing a Health Information Advisory. This is to assure the American public that there is no known threat of contamination in infant formula manufactured by companies that have met the requirements to sell infant formula in the United States. Although no Chinese manufacturers of infant formula have fulfilled the requirements to sell infant formula in the United States, FDA officials are investigating whether or not infant formula manufactured in China is being sold in specialty markets which serve the Asian community.
The FDA is advising caregivers not to feed infant formula manufactured in China to infants. This should be replaced with an appropriate infant formula manufactured in the United States as mentioned below. Individuals should contact their health care professional if they have questions regarding their infant¡¯s health or if they note changes in their infant¡¯s health status.
The FDA began investigating the reports of contamination immediately and received information from the companies who manufacture infant formula for the American market that they are not importing infant formula or source materials from China. The following manufacturers have met the necessary FDA requirements for marketing milk-based infant formulas in the United States: Abbott Nutritionals, Mead Johnson Nutritionals, Nestle USA, PBM Nutritionals, and Solus Products LLC. Also, one manufacturer, SHS/Nutricia, Liverpool, England, markets an amino acid based exempt infant formula that does not contain any milk-derived ingredients.
We are asking state officials to work with the Agency to assist with the removal of any Chinese infant formula found on store shelves, and to warn members of the Asian community to avoid using Chinese manufactured infant formula.
It has been reported that a number of infants in China who have consumed Chinese manufactured infant formula are suffering from kidney stones, a condition which is rare in infants. The Chinese manufactured infant formula may be contaminated with melamine. Melamine artificially increases the protein profile of milk and can causes kidney diseases such as those seen in these Chinese infants.
FDA requires that all infant formula manufacturers register with the Agency and adhere to specific labeling and nutritional requirements. All properly registered infant formula manufacturers marketing infant formula in the United States undergo an annual inspection of their production facilities.

Food Poison's Ravage
Ranks Growing Of People Left Debilitated By What They Ate
By ANNYS SHIN | Washington Post
September 15, 2008
Source of Article:
In the past five years, Sarah Pierce has suffered repeated kidney failure, spent three years on dialysis, had the plasma in her blood replaced twice and lost a fiance, friends and a job, all because of something she ate.
Pierce, now 30, was infected with a toxic strain of bacteria, E. coli O157:H7, that can be spread through undercooked meat or raw produce. Today, she has a healthy kidney donated by her brother, a full-time job and a husband. But the medicines she takes to keep her body from rejecting her replacement kidney carry a high risk of causing birth defects, so she has ruled out pregnancy.
"I would have liked to have had children," she said.
Pierce belongs to a small subset of people who develop long-term health problems from food poisoning. Their ranks are growing. Over the past decade, as medical experts have sought out the source of certain chronic illnesses, they have increasingly found links to episodes of food poisoning, sometimes many years beforehand, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Campylobacter, a bacterium associated with raw chicken, is now recognized as a leading cause of the sudden acute paralysis known as Guillain-Barre syndrome. Certain strains of salmonella, the bacterium involved in the recent outbreak traced to Mexican raw jalapeno and serrano peppers, can cause arthritis. And E. coli O157:H7, a strain of an otherwise harmless bacterium that lives in animal intestines, can release toxins that cause hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, a kidney disorder that in 25 percent to 50 percent of cases leads to kidney failure, high blood pressure and other problems as much as 10 years later.
This list is just the beginning of the many health problems some people now attribute to food-borne infections.
"What the classical medical literature says and what we've seen is not the same," said Donna Rosenbaum, executive director of Safe Tables Our Priority, or STOP, a nonprofit that represents people who have suffered serious food-borne illness.

Responsible Pathogens
The CDC estimates there are 76 million cases of food-borne disease in the United States annually. Most people experience it only as an unpleasant bout of diarrhea or abdominal pain, though an estimated 5,000 to 9,000 Americans die each year from food poisoning. A handful of pathogens are responsible for more than 90 percent of those fatalities: salmonella, listeria, toxoplasma, noroviruses, campylobacter and E. coli. Those most susceptible to infection are small children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.
Until recently, doctors were focused on the acute phase of food-borne infections. However, long-term health effects of food-borne infections are hard to study. It is tough to prove a link between some of these illnesses and later chronic conditions such as arthritis. To get around the last of these problems, STOP is setting up a national registry of victims of food-borne disease who would be willing to participate in longitudinal studies. The registry could help researchers determine, for instance, how frequently food-borne infection leads to chronic health problems and what role factors such as genetics play in who develops them.

Fonterra's Chinese partner moves to ensure food safety(New Zealand Press Association New Zealand)
Babies in China have been hospitalised with kidney stones after drinking a formula allegedly made by Sanlu Group, 43 percent owned by Fonterra.
Fonterra said the Shijiazhuang Sanlu Group dairy company is moving to ensure the Chinese company's products are safe.
In China, the provincial public health bureau is investigating possible connections between Sanlu milk powder and the kidney stones.
But Sanlu has said the milk powder may have been a counterfeit of its product, Xinhua newsagency reported today.
The China Daily newspaper noted that in 2004, 13 infants in Anhui province died of malnutrition and 171 others were hospitalised after consuming substandard milk powder, falsely labelled as being made by Sanlu.
A Fonterra spokesman said today the co-operative had seen media reports on potential links between milk powder and kidney stones in China.
"Sanlu is in active dialogue in China with relevant authorities to get to the bottom of these issues," the company said.
"Sanlu has also advised us that they are taking all appropriate measures to ensure their products are safe for consumers."
Sanlu had previously used milk of Chinese origin and milk powder from various parts of the world, but not from New Zealand.
"Very recently it has purchased New Zealand milk powder from Fonterra but we are 100 percent confident that there are no quality issues with that Fonterra milk powder," the company said.
Fonterra last year set up a model dairy farm with 3000 cows to supply Sanlu, but said today it was confident that "all milk coming out of Fonterra's farm is safe".
Asked what concern it had that its staff or workers for Sanlu might be prosecuted for any perceived role in the latest food safety scandal, Fonterra said: "It is not helpful to engage in speculation at this time".
"Anything to do with potential food safety is taken very seriously by Fonterra and our people," the company said.
"The appropriate authorities need to get to the bottom of this issue first.
"We are confident the Chinese authorities will act appropriately based on hard facts, and not speculation."
After the 2004 scandal which did not involve Sanlu or Fonterra products ? China said it would punish nearly 100 people implicated in at least 200 babies in eastern Anhui suffering malnutrition, with 13 dying.
Officials who neglected their regulatory duties were jailed for two years, and shopkeepers for eight years.
Fonterra said its first priority was ensuring the welfare of consumers.
"Any food safety incident is taken very seriously because Fonterra's reputation is based on high-quality product," the company said. "It is far too early to understand how this incident might impact on any company".
Cases of babies developing kidney stones had emerged in at least four hospitals in Gansu and also in Jiangsu, Shandong, Hunan, Ningxia and Shaanxi provinces, Xinhua said.
Zhang Wei, chief urologist at the No 1 Hospital of the People's Liberation Army, in the provincial capital Lanzhou, said it was possible that more babies may be affected but parents had not sought treatment because of high medical costs.
"It is extremely rare for babies to get kidney stones, let alone so many getting them all at the same time," he said.
Fonterra has predicted that eventually China will account for 10 percent of its global dairy market. It paid NZ$150 million ? 864 million renminbi ? for its stake in the Shijiazhuang Sanlu Group dairy company in December 2005. 9-11-08

Tainted Food Sparks National Safety Campaign (Canada)
Last update: 11:03 a.m. EDT Sept. 12, 2008
Source of Article:
TORONTO, ONTARIO, Sep 12, 2008 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) -- Federal candidates across the country are being asked to make a Commitment to Food Safety as part of a national campaign launched in Toronto this morning.
"The outbreaks of listeriosis due to tainted food products have shaken the country's confidence in our food protection system. The system is broken and needs fixing," says Patricia Ducharme, Executive Vice-President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.
The campaign features a website - - which allows visitors to send a message to ask local candidates to take make a Commitment to Food Safety, a four-point action plan to fix the system. Radio, print and online ads will be used during the federal election to spread the word about the campaign, as will events across the country.
"Our unions are launching this campaign now, because of the urgent need for action and political commitment on the issue of food safety before more Canadians lives are put at risk." says Michele Demers, President of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada.
The government of Stephen Harper has steadily cut funding for food safety programs and shifted responsibility for safety assurance to the food companies themselves. According to current Treasury Board of Canada forecasts, funding for food safety programs will have declined by almost 30% from $359 million in 2006/07 to $254 million in 2010/11 under Mr. Harper's watch.
Meanwhile, the government plans to expand industry self-policing of safety. A secret government document brought to light by a CFIA employee who was subsequently fired reveals plans to:
- "shift from full-time Canadian Food Inspection Agency meat inspection presence to an oversight role, allowing industry to implement food safety control programs and to manage key risks," and;
- "eliminate federal delivery of provincial meat inspection programs" in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
"There are too few inspectors who spend too much time reviewing company generated reports in a system that relies too much on the food industry to police itself when it comes to safety," says Agriculture Union President Bob Kingston, a food inspection supervisor on leave from the CFIA.
The campaign aims to drum up support among candidates and the federal parties for the following policies to improve food safety in Canada:
Hire 1000 additional inspectors and veterinarians to improve compliance
There are almost 800 federally regulated meat processing facilities scattered across Canada, many processing thousands of animals everyday. There are also thousands of cheese, produce and other food production facilities, as well as delis and other retail outlets, all of which are potential sources for deadly food-borne bacteria. This territory is far too vast for the 1100 fully qualified process food inspectors and 230 meat hygiene veterinarians currently on staff. While the problem of food-borne illness is complex, one dimension of the problem is clear: our food inspectors are too few and spread too thinly. For example, the inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant which was the source of tainted meat in the latest food-borne bacterial outbreak also is responsible for six other facilities. In order to ensure companies follow food safety regulations we simply need more inspectors.
Place an immediate moratorium on industry self-policing policies
Under changes introduced on March 31st this year, including at Maple Leaf Foods in Toronto, meat inspectors are now directly supervising from the plant floor only 25% of the time. The rest of the time, federal meat inspectors review company generated reports. This reality falls far short of the target for inspectors to spend half their time inspecting hands-on under the new "Compliance Verification System".
Beyond meat processing, industry self-policing has been extended to poultry; monitoring the health of birds was transferred from inspectors to the private sector in the fall of 2007.
Plans the Conservative government has approved but not entirely implemented will give industry more self-policing powers when it comes to safety. The Compliance Verification System, the Poultry Rejection Program and future self-policing plans should be put on hold. Remove obstacles preventing CFIA inspectors & vets from taking immediate action
CFIA inspectors are discouraged from taking immediate action when serious health problems arise. Instead, they are strongly encouraged to give the offending company a "Corrective Action Request" which states the nature of the problem and gives the company up to 60 days to address it. The theory of immediate action of the part of inspectors becomes more remote because under the "Compliance Verification System" inspectors spend 75% of their time at the plant reviewing company-generated reports, instead of inspecting facilities. This approach is part and parcel of the move toward industry self-policing when it comes to safety.
Restore the system of public audit reports which were cancelled under pressure from the meat industry
For 20 years, government inspectors reported and ranked the meat processing facilities they inspected. Under pressure from an industry lobby group called the Canadian Meat Council which complained about the bad press these reports created when obtained by reporters, the federal government cancelled the practice soon after Stephen Harper took office. Canadians need to know which companies are meeting safety standards and which companies are not and the public audit system should be restored.

Washing Our Way to Cleaner Meat
Source of Article:
By SANDY MILLER HAYS, Agricultural Research Service
There's no shortage of bad news these days, is there? Gas prices, a roller-coaster stock market, soaring food prices... just "pick your poison."
So how about some good news for a change ? a great example of something that really, really works and resulted from research funded by your tax dollars? Here goes!
You've no doubt seen the news stories about outbreaks of illness caused by harmful bacteria in various vegetables, from spinach and tomatoes to an ever-widening list of suspects. Of course, fruits and veggies aren't the only types of food that have been implicated in food-poisoning outbreaks over the years; meat and dairy products have also had their uncomfortable moments in the spotlight.
But the U.S. meat industry is definitely benefitting these days from food safety research conducted by the scientists of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) at the agency's Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb.
After a multi-state outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections from hamburgers in the western United States from November 1992 to late February 1993 ? an outbreak that sickened hundreds and killed four children ? the ARS scientists in Nebraska began a massive investigation into E. coli O157:H7.
One of the most fascinating discoveries to come out of that investigation has been that the principal source of E. coli O157:H7 in ground beef isn't somewhere inside the cow; it's the animal's hide.
Previously, most of the activities to try to prevent E. coli O157:H7 contamination of meat focused on eliminating the pathogen from the cow's feces. But the research at Clay Center led to a major shift in thinking, resulting in the ARS scientists' development of hide-targeted intervention techniques to reduce and eliminate pathogenic E. coli and other dangerous microorganisms from the ground beef supply.
Although E. coli O157:H7 can wreak devastation on the human body by deactivating ribosomes and destroying kidney cells, cattle can carry the same pathogens with no ill effects. The ARS research revealed that the pathogen tends to gather on the cattle's hides. This can become a serious problem if the meat becomes contaminated while the hide is being removed from the carcass.
First the scientists experimented with chemically removing the hair from the hide. This process proved very effective, reducing the bacterial prevalence from 50 percent to 1.3 percent in one study. But the process was prohibitively expensive, and therefore seemed impractical for widespread industry use.
So the scientists turned their attention to cleaning the hide before removal ? and there they hit the jackpot.

They developed a system in which the hide-on carcass is cleaned in a washing cabinet with high-pressure water to remove excess organic matter from the hide. Next, the hide is sprayed with an antibacterial compound. The scientists came up with an impressive list of compounds that proved effective, from phosphoric acid to substances with tongue-tangling names like cetylpyridinium chloride.
Remember that great Ralph Waldo Emerson quote about "Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door"? The U.S. meat industry has embraced the ARS scientists' "better mousetrap," and an estimated 40 percent of U.S. feedlot-raised beef cattle now undergo the washing treatment. By targeting the hides, this technology has reduced the national incidence of E. coli O157:H7-positive ground beef samples by 43.3 percent.
And the benefits reach beyond stopping E. coli O157:H7. Since the beef industry began using the washing cabinets, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also noted significant reductions in illnesses caused by the pathogens Listeria, Campylobacter, Yersina and Salmonella.
Two partner corporations ? American Fresh Foods and American Foodservice ? that use the hide-wash system have high praise for it. Those two corporations produce more than 350 million pounds of ground beef every year for supermarkets, commercial fast-food outlets, and casual dining. They sample their products every 20 minutes to test for E. coli O157:H7, and conduct more than 15,000 additional tests each year for other pathogens.
How do they describe the hide-washing system? As their chief food safety officer put it,
It's incredibly effective... It's almost unbelievable."
Don't you just love it when something really works? I do!

Main Page
Sponsorship Qustions
List of Newsletters

To subscribe this Food Safety Newsletter

Copyright (C). All rights reserved