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

10/30
2008
ISSUE:325

Sponsors











Sponsorship Q/A

Click here
to go
Main Page

 

Click here
to go
List of Newsletters


To subscribe this Food Safety Newsletter,
Click here

On-Line
Slides


Internet Journal of Food Safety

Job Opennings

 

 


Click here for more information

Is BPA safe or no? Gov't leaves consumers confused
Source of Article: http://ap.google.com/
By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR 1 day ago
WASHINGTON (AP) BPA a chemical used in food containers is so widespread that most people have traces of it in their bodies.
But health officials can't decide if that's a problem, or something we all can live with.
Bisphenol A is useful for hardening plastics to make all sorts of consumer products, from CDs to baby bottles. And the canning industry uses it for coatings that prevent leaks and bacterial contamination in metal food containers.
Some scientists are concerned that BPA could be harmful, since it mimics some of the effects of a powerful hormone, estrogen. Infants may be particularly vulnerable because their bodies are developing and cannot eliminate the chemical as quickly.
Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration issued a scientific assessment that BPA is safe and asked independent scientists to review its conclusion. That report ? made public Tuesday ? found that the FDA's science was badly flawed. The FDA did not consider all the evidence and its margin of safety for human exposure to BPA could be off by a factor of ten times or more, the outside scientists said.
While the experts sort out the issue, what are the options for worried consumers? Here are some questions and answers:
Q: It sounds like BPA is everywhere, how can people avoid it?
A: "Get to know your plastics," says Urvashi Rangan, a senior scientist with Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports. Avoid polycarbonate plastic containers, those imprinted with the recycling number "7" and the letters "PC." Don't microwave foods in these containers. Don't use polycarbonate plastic baby bottles. Consider powdered infant formula instead of liquid formula in cans. Cut down on canned foods.
"If you the consumer want to take matters into your own hands while the science is being sorted out here, those are the things you can do that will directly reduce your level of exposure to BPA," said Rangan.
One thing mothers should not do is stop giving their infants proper nutrition because of fears about BPA, says acting Surgeon General Steven Galson. "While the best source of nutrition for babies is the mother's breast milk, infant formula remains the recommended alternative when breast milk is not an option," he said.

Q: Wait a minute, aren't some people overreacting here? Has anybody died from BPA?
A: No direct cause-and-effect relationship has been established to show that exposure to small amounts of BPA harms people.
But many scientific studies have raised that possibility, and some government scientists believe it should not be dismissed lightly. Chemical exposures that cause harm over a long time are hard to detect.
The National Toxicology Program conducted its own BPA assessment earlier this year, and differed with the FDA. The toxicology program found "some concern" for BPA effects on the brain, behavior and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and children at current exposure levels. "Some concern" is right in the middle of the toxicologists' five-level scale for ranking the possible harmful effects of chemicals.
The independent panel that reviewed the FDA's assessment said the agency needs to go back and take a second look at several studies it earlier dismissed.

Q: What's going to happen now?
A: On Friday, the FDA's Science Board will meet to discuss the controversy in public. It was a subcommittee of the Science Board that issued the report criticizing FDA's safety analysis. But FDA officials say it could take two to five years to complete additional research and reach a final conclusion.
If scientific evidence against BPA mounts and U.S. regulators don't act, Congress may try to restrict some uses for the chemical.
"If FDA continues to dismiss independent scientific evaluations of BPA, correcting the issue legislatively is an option," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., chairwoman of a committee with jurisdiction over the FDA budget.
Q: What would be the downside of just banning BPA altogether?
A: The canning industry thinks there would be unintended consequences. The chemical is used to make epoxy resins that coat and seal the inside of cans. That prevents leaks and keeps bacteria from contaminating the foods inside.
"Although we are looking for alternatives, they are not readily available, and there is no 'drop-in' replacement for these uses," said John Rost, chairman of the North American Metal Packaging Alliance, a trade group. "Quick changes that have not been evaluated could impact the real safety issue: food poisoning."
Short of a ban on all BPA in food containers, Canada has banned it in baby bottles as a precaution.

FDA responds to BPA Subcommittee report
Source of Article: http://members.ift.org/
In light of the critical findings of the Bisphenol A (BPA) Subcommittee Report, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it will revisit its recent BPA safety assessment, which the subcommittee said was inadequate.
¡°The FDA agrees that, due to the uncertainties raised in some studies relating to the potential effects of low-dose exposure to bisphenol A, additional research would be valuable,¡± reads the agency¡¯s statement. ¡°The FDA is already moving forward with planned research to address the potential low-dose effects of bisphenol A, and we will carefully evaluate the findings of these studies.¡±
The FDA¡¯s Science Board will review the subcommittee¡¯s report on October 31. The subcommittee reviewed an FDA draft safety assessment issued in August that said the chemical BPA is safe at current levels found in plastic baby bottles and canned foods. Some scientists and lawmakers felt the FDA report relied too heavily on industry-funded research and ignored other studies suggesting BPA is harmful.
In response to the criticism, the FDA asked a panel of scientific experts to form a subcommittee to review the August report. The subcommittee¡¯s report disagreed with the FDA¡¯s decision to dismiss many of the negative BPA studies. ¡°The Subcommittee finds that the draft assessment conclusions are not supported by the available data and science,¡± stated the panel¡¯s report.
In response to the panel¡¯s critical findings, the FDA is reviewing the August report. The FDA stated that in the meantime, consumers should know that
¡°based on all available evidence, the present consensus among regulatory agencies in the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan is that current levels of exposure to BPA through food packaging do not pose an immediate health risk to the general population, including infants and babies.¡± Regarding Canada, the FDA noted that Health Canada¡¯s recent assessment of the dangers bisphenol A poses for newborns and infants up to 18 months of age concludes that exposure levels are below the levels that could cause health effects. The FDA does concede, though, that ¡°out of an abundance of caution, the Government of Canada is taking steps to restrict the use of BPA.¡±

Grocery Manufacturers Association Statement Regarding FDA Science Board Advisory Report on Bisphenol A (BPA)
Contact:
Scott Openshaw, Director, Communications, 202-295-3957
Brian Kennedy, Manager, Communications, 202-639-5994
October 29, 2008
Source of Article: http://www.gmaonline.org/news/docs/BisphenolAPressRelease.htm
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) today issued the following statement from GMA Senior Vice President and Chief Science & Regulatory Affairs Officer Robert E. Brackett, Ph.D. regarding an FDA Science Board advisory group report on the safety assessment of BPA:
¡°Recently, a subcommittee of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Science Board was asked to review the FDA¡¯s safety assessment for BPA. While we are currently evaluating the subcommittee¡¯s report, we are confident that the risk-analysis approach utilized by FDA and a host of regulatory agencies around the world to evaluate the risk associated with BPA exposure is scientifically sound and appropriate. ¡°Product safety and regulatory decisions are made on the entire body of scientific evidence, which to date supports the safety of BPA. As new science, research and studies are conducted, it is the obligation of our industry and the appropriate regulatory authorities to review that evidence and make the appropriate decisions that ensure the continued safety of our products.
¡°Product safety and consumer confidence are the foundation of the food, beverage and consumer packaged goods industry. Without it, nothing else we do is possible, and we constantly test and review our products and packaging to ensure their safety.
¡°While we appreciate FDA¡¯s process for reviewing the safety of BPA, it is important to note that the subcommittee is an advisory group only, and that its report is the first step in a multi-step review process. That is why we support FDA¡¯s advice to consumers that there is no need to change their purchasing or eating patterns and that food and beverages using packages that contain BPA are safe to consume.
¡°We call upon the FDA Science Board to consider the full weight of the evidence and opinions of other regulatory bodies from around the world as it considers the subcommittee's report. We look forward to reviewing the committee¡¯s full report and to working with the FDA and other stakeholders to continue to evaluate the safety of BPA.¡±

Settlements reached in Salmonella Veggie Booty cases
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
After a day of mediation, we were able to resolve all 25 of the cases we represented in this litigation. The mediator, Judge Epistein, did a masterful job getting the parties to resolve these cases. As you might recall, in May 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) begun a multi-state investigation in response to an increase in laboratory reports, first posted on the PulseNet on April 2, 2007, of Salmonella Wandsworth. Salmonella Wandsworth is a very rare serotype that was never before implicated in a U.S. outbreak. As of September 6, 2007, there were 69 reported cases of Salmonella Wandsworth in 23 states and 14 cases of Salmonella Typhimurium in six states who became ill after consuming Veggie Booty, a puffed vegetable snack food with a raw, dried vegetable coating. A total of 61 bags were tested in twelve states. Salmonella sp. was isolated from thirteen bags of Veggie Booty. Eleven of the thirteen bags were positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella Wandsworth and one bag was positive for Salmonella Typhimurium and Enterobacter sakazakii. One bag tested positive for Salmonella Kentucky. CDC reported Salmonella Haifa and Salmonella Saint Paul were isolated from bags of Veggie Booty.

Researcher uncovers treatment for E. coli - Canada
Source of Article: http://www.physorg.com/news144508855.html
(PhysOrg.com) -- It couldn't be more ironic. Just as the number of people in North Bay, Ont., made ill by a recent E.coli outbreak, topped 200, a University of Alberta professor has announced a breakthrough in development of a treatment for the life-threatening bacteria.
Canada's worst E.coli breakout was in Walkerton, Ont. in 2000, when seven people died and more than 20 children suffered permanent kidney damage. But chemistry professor David Bundle and his co-workers may have found a way to protect the kidneys.
"If you give [the patient] antibiotics the bacteria die and burst open, spilling their toxins," said Bundle, cautioning that if the E. coli toxin invades the kidney, the result can be fatal.
But Bundle and his colleagues-Pavel Kitov and Glen Armstrong-have created a drug that lashes the E.coli bacteria to a naturally-occurring protein molecule, preventing the E.coli from making contact with kidney cells.
The drug that acts like a lasso is called Polybait.
"Think of Polybait as piece of sticky string that wraps around the interface between the protein and the toxin," he said. "The surface of the toxin that kills kidney cells is drawn tightly against the surface of the protein and neutralizes it."
The molecules are held together long enough to be transported to the liver and eventually eliminated from the body.
Testing is in the early stages but so far the drug looks promising. One hundred per cent of the lab mice injected with E.coli toxin were saved by Polybait, although Bundle says that doesn't mean the big pharmaceutical companies will come running. The number of E.coli outbreaks and the relatively small number of victims will not draw a lot of investment dollars, he says, so to generate more interest Bundle and his team is trying to develop more uses for Polybait. "We want to go beyond neutralizing bacteria to targeting specific cancer cells," he said, and that the team is working with the Scribbs Research Institute in the United States to do just that. In the meantime Bundle and his group are hopeful that someday their E.coli treatment will be of help to people in places like North Bay and Walkerton. "From a social perspective and also from a perspective of what it costs society to have people on kidney dialysis for long periods of time, this research is worthwhile."
Provided by University of Alberta

The E. coli Risks of a Red Meat Diet
Steady Meat Diet Makes People More Susceptible to E. coli Food Poisoning, Study Shows
Source of Article: http://www.webmd.com/
By Caroline Wilbert
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
Oct. 29, 2008 -- Red meat lovers face a double whammy when it comes to E. colifood poisoning.
Not only does the bacterium that causes people to get sick often come from red meat, but a new study also suggests that a regular diet of red meat can make people more susceptible to E. coli. The study was published in Nature.
Here is how it works. When people eat red meat and dairy, they absorb a sugar molecule called N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc). The human body does not produce Neu5Gc.
People can get infected with certain types of E. coli when they are in contact with infected feces of humans or animals. Infection can happen in several ways; a common way in the United States is through eating infected meat.
The E. coli produce a toxin that causes serious illness in the body. The researchers found that a bacterial toxin called subtilase cytotoxin targets Neu5Gc. In lab tests, the potent bacterial toxin attached itself to cells that had been exposed to Neu5Gc, such as cells of the intestinal lining and in the kidneys.
People with E. coli food poisoning may have bloody diarrhea and may get a potentially fatal disease called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which affects the kidneys.
Researchers stressed the importance of eating only well-cooked red meat and pasteurized dairy products to avoid the dangerous bacteria that can cause E. coli food poisoning

Food Allergy Among U.S. Children: Trends in Prevalence and Hospitalizations
source from CDC
Key findings
In 2007, approximately 3 million children under age 18 years (3.9%) were reported to have a food or digestive allergy in the previous 12 months.
From 1997 to 2007, the prevalence of reported food allergy increased 18% among children under age 18 years. Children with food allergy are two to four times more likely to have other related conditions such as asthma and other allergies, compared with children without food allergies. From 2004 to 2006, there were approximately 9,500 hospital discharges per year with a diagnosis related to food allergy among children under age 18 years. Note: See Definitions for an explanation of reported food allergy.
Food allergy is a potentially serious immune response to eating specific foods or food additives. Eight types of food account for over 90% of allergic reactions in affected individuals: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat (1,2). Reactions to these foods by an allergic person can range from a tingling sensation around the mouth and lips and hives to death, depending on the severity of the allergy. The mechanisms by which a person develops an allergy to specific foods are largely unknown. Food allergy is more prevalent in children than adults, and a majority of affected children will "outgrow¡± food allergies with age. However, food allergy can sometimes become a lifelong concern (1). Food allergies can greatly affect children and their families¡¯ well-being. There are some indications that the prevalence of food allergy may be increasing in the United States and in other countries (2-4).

Allergy and intolerance research review report published Tuesday 28 October 2008
The Food Standards Agency has today published a report of the food allergy and intolerance programme review that took place in February 2008.
As part of its research programme, the Agency allocates funding of about ¡Ì1 million each year, to fundamental, applied, clinical and social research on different aspects of food allergy and intolerance. This contributes to the evidence from which the Agency makes policy decisions and gives advice.
The aims of the programme include investigating how many people have food allergy or intolerance and identifying what might make you develop an allergy or intolerance.
The purpose of the review was to evaluate the projects that have made up the food allergy and intolerance programme since the previous review in 2003, in terms of their scientific quality, relevance to Agency policy needs and value for money. It also determines if these projects addressed the aims and objectives of the programme. The review also aimed to consider the future direction of the programme and priority areas for Agency research in food allergy and intolerance over the next five years.
Professor Peter Aggett, Chair of the Food Allergy and Intolerance Programme Review meeting, said: 'This was a very productive exercise. The programme review panel critically appraised the conduct and outcomes of completed and current projects in the programme. It was agreed that overall the programme had produced significant new knowledge and had identified further key research needs in areas related to food allergy, its causes and its impact on food safety and public health.¡¯
More information about the review and the full report can be found via the link below

Advice not to feed peanuts to babies may be behind soaring levels of food allergies
Advice to avoid giving peanuts to babies for fear of sparking allergic reactions may in fact be driving the rate of allergy higher, according to a leading expert. Source of Article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent
Last Updated: 9:13AM GMT 26 Oct 2008
Professor Gideon Lack, a paediatric allergy specialist at Kings College London, believes there is growing evidence to suggest that parents should feed their children peanuts from a young age to protect them from allergies. The same may apply to other potentially-allergenic foods including fish and eggs.
The professor's work, which proposes a new mechanism for what leads children to develop allergies, is contrary to advice from public health officials at the Department of Health and the World Health Organisation, who insist children should avoid eating peanuts until three years old.
The Food Standards Agency has now launched a full review of the evidence to determine if a shift in the advice is needed.
Professor Lack is conducting the first clinical trial into whether eating peanuts in the first year of life can protect children from allergy, but he insisted it was still too early to know if official health advice should be changed.
He said: "Peanut allergy in English-speaking countries has almost trebled in the last 15 years and occurs in almost one in 50 primary school children. In traditional societies in Africa and Asia, however, it doesn't occur in children to the same extent. In these societies babies are allowed to eat peanuts from a very early age.
"The hypothesis is that by eating peanuts in the first year of life, babies become tolerant of those foods.
"The gut is surrounded by a belt of immune tissue which help to recognise friendly proteins such as those from food. Without this you would reject everything you ate.
"The immune system learns early in life, through the repeated introduction of food, that proteins from food are harmless and innocuous substances. So regular exposure in a healthy baby in early life may actually help the immune system to distinguish between friend and foe."
Professor Lack will describe his work at the official opening of new research laboratories in the Medical Research Council's and Asthma UK's Centre in Allergic Mechanisms of Asthma at Kings College London on Monday October 27.
Peanut allergy is now the most common food allergy. Symptoms can vary from rashes and itching to breathing difficulties, narrowing of the airways and leaking of the blood vessels. In severe cases, known as anaphylactic shock, it can lead to death.
Allergies occur due to an over-reaction of the immune system to molecules that are normally harmless, triggering an attack that releases toxic biological chemicals into the blood stream. These in turn damage the body's own tissues and causes inflammation.
Professor Lack believes that children who have not eaten peanuts may be more prone to suffer an allergic reaction when they come into contact with them through their skin, particularly if they suffer from skin conditions.
He said: "The problem is that food proteins can be found everywhere in a house, so what I believe is happening is that when babies suffer from eczema, the skin barrier is broken down and there is a lot of inflammation as molecules of peanut and other food get through the skin. "The body sees the food molecules as a threat and responds to it as it would to a parasite, by mounting an antibody response." Professor Lack is currently two years into a five-year clinical trial to examine whether it is possible to make children more tolerant of a food by feeding it to them earlier in life. Using 650 children who suffer from eczema, which is known increase the risk of developing an allergy, he has asked half the parents to feed their children peanuts while they are weaning between the ages of four and eleven months.
The other half have been asked not to feed their children any peanuts. As the youngsters grow up they are having regular blood samples taken to observe how their immune systems are developing. At the age of five they will be tested for food allergies.
Professor Lack is also planning a second trial to look at other food allergies in 2,500 children. Again, half the parents will be encouraged to feed their children a variety of solid foods from an earlier age than the other half. A spokesman for the Food Standards Agency said a panel of independent experts on the Committee of Toxicity had been asked to review the current advice, issued in 1998, on early exposure to peanuts and other allergens. In the meantime, he said, parents should continue to follow existing advice.
He said: "The independent experts of the Committee on Toxicity are considering the findings of the review and other relevant evidence, and have been informed about ongoing research in this area, including the King's College study. They are considering whether their previous recommendations are still appropriate."

Drinking Milk to Ease Milk Allergy?
Wed 29-Oct-2008
Source of Article: http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/545863/
Newswise ? Giving children with milk allergies increasingly higher doses of milk over time may ease, and even help them completely overcome, their allergic reactions, according to the results of a study led by the Johns Hopkins Children¡¯s Center and conducted jointly with Duke University. Despite the small number of patients in the trial ? 19 ? the findings are illuminating and encouraging, investigators say, because this is the first-ever double-blinded and placebo-controlled study of milk immunotherapy. In the study, the researchers compared a group of children receiving milk powder to a group of children receiving placebo identical in appearance and taste to real milk powder. Neither the patients nor the investigators knew which child received which powder, a rigorous research setup that minimizes the chance for error and bias.
The findings of the study are reported online ahead of print, Oct. 28, in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology
Our findings suggest that oral immunotherapy gradually retrains the immune system to completely disregard or to better tolerate the allergens in milk that previously caused allergic reactions,¡± says Robert Wood, M.D., senior investigator on the study and director of Allergy & Immunology at Hopkins Children¡¯s. ¡°Albeit preliminary and requiring further study, these results suggest that oral immunotherapy may be the closest thing yet to a ¡®true¡¯ treatment for food allergy.¡±
Currently, food allergy management involves complete avoidance of the trigger foods, waiting for the child to outgrow the allergy or treating allergic reactions if and when they occur. The latter could be dangerous, investigators say, because these common foods are difficult to avoid and some reactions can be severe and even life-threatening.
In a report released Oct. 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that food allergies are on the rise with three million children in the United States now having at least one food allergy, an 18 percent jump from 10 years ago. Milk allergy is the most prevalent type of food allergy.
¡°Given that the quality of life of a child with a food allergy is comparable to the quality of life of a child with diabetes, we urgently need therapies that go beyond strict food avoidance or waiting for the child to outgrow the allergy,¡± Wood says.
Researchers followed allergic reactions over four months among 19 children with severe and persistent milk allergy, 6 to 17 years of age. Of the 19 patients, 12 received progressively higher doses of milk protein, and seven received placebo. At the beginning of the study, the children were able to tolerate on average only 40 mg (.04 ounces or a quarter of a teaspoon) of milk. At the end of the four-month study, both groups were given milk powder as a ¡°challenge¡± to see what dose would cause reaction after the treatment. The children who had been receiving increasingly higher doses of milk protein over a few months were able to tolerate a median dose of 5, 140 mg (over 5 ounces) of milk without having any allergic reaction or with mild symptoms, such as mouth itching and minor abdominal discomfort. Those who had been getting the placebo remained unable to tolerate doses higher than the 40 mg of milk powder without having an allergic reaction. In the group receiving milk protein, the lowest tolerance dose was 2, 540 mg (2.5 ounces) and the highest was 8,140 mg (8 ounces). Lab tests showed the children who regularly drank or ate milk had more antibodies to milk in their blood, yet were able to better tolerate milk than those who took the placebo. Researchers say, tolerance in children treated with milk continued to build over time, and recommend that these children continue to consume milk daily to maintain their resistance. The researchers caution that it remains unclear whether the children would maintain their tolerance once they stop consuming milk regularly. ¡°It may very well be that this tolerance is lost once the immune system is no longer exposed to the allergen daily,¡± Wood says.
The Hopkins group is currently studying oral immunotherapy in children with egg allergy to determine whether increasingly higher doses of egg protein can help resolve their allergy, and have recently started another study of milk immunotherapy.
Wood emphasizes the findings require further research and advises parents and caregivers not to try oral immunotherapy without medical supervision.
Other Hopkins investigators in the study: Justin Skripak, M.D., Hannah Rowley, R.D., Nga Brereton, R.D., Susan Oh, R.D., Robert Hamilton, M.D., Elizabeth Matsui, M.D. M.H.S.
Duke University co-investigators: Scott Nash, M.D., and A. Wesley Burks, M.D.
The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and The Eudowood Foundation.

Rice Is a Common and Severe Allergen
It can induce enterocolitis reactions more severe than those caused by cow's milk and soy
Source of Article: http://www.modernmedicine.com/
Publish date: Oct 28, 2008
TUESDAY, Oct. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Despite its reputation as a hypoallergenic food, rice is emerging as a common trigger of food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome, according to a study published online Oct. 28 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.
Sam Mehr, of the University of Sydney in Australia and colleagues conducted a study of 14 children who had 26 episodes of food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome and compared their cases with those of 17 children who experienced 30 episodes of cow's milk or soy food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome.
Whereas cow's milk and soy caused a median of two episodes before a correct diagnosis was made, rice caused a median of four episodes, the study showed. Rice also triggered more severe reactions, with 42 percent requiring intravenous fluid resuscitation, while only 17 percent of reactions to cow's milk or soy required it. Children with rice food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome had a 36 percent chance of enterocolitis induced by other foods, a phenomenon which did not occur among the cow's milk/soy group, the authors found."In conclusion, this study highlights the emerging importance of rice as a significant trigger of FPIES (food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome). Awareness of the entity is fundamental, as the clinical presentation is often confused with an intra-abdominal surgical emergency or sepsis," the authors write. " Early diagnosis would eliminate repeated reactions and unnecessary investigations."

8 more cases under investigation in Niagara E. Coli outbreak
Canwest News Service
Source of Article: http://www.canada.com/
Published: Thursday, October 30, 2008
Health officials in the Niagara region are investigating eight new cases of E. coli infection, bringing to 31 the number of people suspected of having been sickened by the food-borne bacterium.
The outbreak has already led to the temporary closure of two popular restaurants in the southern Ontario district.
Eighteen of the currently suspected cases have been linked to the Little Red Rooster restaurant in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., and nine cases are connected to M.T. Bellies in Welland, Ont., Niagara Region Public Health officials said Thursday.
The remaining four have not yet been tied to a particular locale.
Medical officials have not yet been able to identify a specific source for the O157: H7 strain of E. coli at the centre of the outbreak.
Carrie Beatty, a spokeswoman for Niagara's public health authority, said she was not aware of anyone in the region currently hospitalized due to E. coli infection. Symptoms associated with the strain include bloody diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps and fever.
A Harvey's fast-food restaurant in North Bay, Ont., closed Oct. 12 due to E. coli contamination. As of Thursday, North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit officials were investigating 235 cases in the central Ontario city, 45 of which have been confirmed as caused by the particular strain of E. coli.
The investigation into the source of the contamination continues. No sources have been identified.

Tally at 230 cases in today¡¯s E. coli update
By Kate Adams
BayToday.ca
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Source of Article: http://www.baytoday.ca/content/news/details.asp?c=28426
North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit News Release
There are now 230 cases, of which 45 are lab confirmed for E. coli O157:H7. All confirmed cases are linked to Harvey¡¯s North Bay and have an onset of symptoms before October 22, 2008. These numbers include cases from 9 other Ontario Health Units, Quebec and British Columbia. At this time, we remind anyone who has been sick with E. coli O157:H7 or diarrhea, to prevent the spread. E. coli O157: H7 can be passed from person to person by hand to mouth contact through improper hand washing after using the washroom. Adults with E. coli can remain infectious for up to one week after symptoms are over. Young children carry E. coli O157: H7 up to 3 weeks. For information on test results, media can contact the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care Media Relations line at 1-888-414-4774.
Prevent the spread:
- Wash hands thoroughly, using soap and hot running water, before any food contact, and after any toileting or changing of diapers.
- Use a nailbrush and soap under hot running water to clean under fingernails. Rinse thoroughly.
- Have separate towels for sick people.
- Clean bathroom taps, toilets, and doorknobs at least once every day with an antiseptic cleaner such as bleach and water (1 part bleach to 10 parts water). Even better would be a separate bathroom for the sick person.
- Wash clothes, especially underclothes, in hot water and dry in a hot dryer for at least half an hour. If the clothes cannot be put in the dryer, dry in direct sunshine.
- E. coli is not spread to others before you have symptoms (anywhere from one to 10 days after consuming E. coli)
- Adults with E. coli O157:H7 or E. coli-like symptoms should not use recreational water venues, such as pools, for two weeks after symptoms are gone and four weeks for children, unless a laboratory test is negative.

Salmonella outbreak linked to raw fish consumption
Wed Oct 29, 2008 11:57am EDTSource of Article: http://www.reuters.com/
By Anthony J. Brown, MD
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Eating contaminated raw tuna can be a cause of Salmonella infection, a researcher from Hawaii warned on Tuesday.
In November 2007, the Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) was alerted to 16 cases of Salmonella infection. An epidemiologic investigation at the time failed to uncover the source of the outbreak.
In hopes of identifying the source, the HDOH conducted a case-control study involving 35 "case" patients that arose from October 2007 to February 2008 and 100 age-matched controls who lived within a 0.5 mile radius of a matched case patient.
The only significant correlate of Salmonella infection was raw fish consumption in the 7 days before illness onset. Eighty-six percent of case patients had consumed raw fish compared with just 28 percent of controls.
In most cases, ahi "poke," which is often made from imported frozen tuna, was the fish consumed. The investigators could identify no single store, store chain, or supplier that accounted for all of the exposures.
"There have been very few, if any, studies or investigations, of which we are aware, examining salmonellosis following raw fish consumption, although there are reports of finding Salmonella strains in samples of fish product meant for export and ultimately human consumption," Dr. Sarah Park, who is with the HDOH in Honolulu, told Reuters Health."We had initially thought that, as with most salmonellosis outbreaks, the source would likely be poultry or some other commonly recognized source. Finding that raw fish consumption was the culprit was surprising," said Park.
She emphasized that, "compared with the thousands of tons of fish imported into Hawaii and consumed every month, this was a small outbreak. However, as always, everyone should be aware that consumption of any raw meat product carries some risk, and should they develop a gastrointestinal illness, they should make sure their clinician is aware of their potential exposures."
Raw tuna-associated cases of Salmonella infection are not confined to Hawaii. As recently as April 2008, nine electrophoresis-matched cases of Salmonella infection were reported in mainland US, eight of which involved consumption of raw tuna prior to disease onset.

Energy saving radio frequency pasteurisation
Source of Article: http://foodbev.com/ArticleDetail.aspx?contentId=1711
Published date: 30 October 2008
Macrowave Pasteurization Systems has been developed by the Radio Frequency Company
As an alternate means to noxious chemicals and radiation treatments, US company Radio Frequency Company (RFC) is suggesting that manufacturers pasteurise bagged or bulk agricultural products with its recently developed product: the Macrowave Pasteurization Systems, which uses radio frequency energy. Historically, many outbreaks of food-borne illnesses caused by pathogens such as Salmonella have been attributed to common stomach viruses. More recently, advances in healthcare and information flow have led to increased recognition of food-borne illnesses and the ability to trace their sources. Consequently, throughout the food industry, there is increasing awareness of the importance of pasteurising to improve food safety.
RFC's line of Macrowave Pasteurization Systems was initially developed to produce low-microbe count flour products, but has recently been expanded to include pasteurising systems for the treatment of nuts, various types of flour, tobacco, fishmeal, xanthan gum and other food ingredients as well as finished products.
As radio frequency generators create an alternating electric field between two electrodes, the material to be treated is conveyed through an electrode array where this alternating energy causes polar molecules in the material to continuously reorient themselves to face opposite poles. The friction resulting from molecular movement causes the material to heat rapidly and uniformly throughout its entire mass.
The Macrowave Pasteurization Systems operate at 40MHz where the depth of penetration and uniformity of heating are optimised, thereby ensuring effective microbe kill and avoiding deleterious effects on product quality.

Main Page
Sponsorship Qustions

List of Newsletters

To subscribe this Food Safety Newsletter

Copyright (C). All rights reserved FoodHACCP.com.