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Half of Americans losing trust in food supply
Source of Article:
11/25/2008-According to a recent national food safety and labeling poll conducted by Consumer Reports National Research Center, American consumers are concerned about food safety, and they want the government to inspect the food supply more frequently.
While 73% polled currently regard the overall food supply as safe, 48% said their confidence in the safety of the nation¡¯s food supply is slipping. Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspects domestic food production facilities once every five to 10 years, and foreign facilities less frequently. Two-thirds of respondents said the FDA should inspect domestic and foreign food-processing facilities at least once a month.
Additionally, eight in 10 consumers strongly agree that when food safety problems arise, the FDA should disclose to the public the location of retailers who sold the potentially harmful food, including fish, produce, and processed foods, as the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) is currently required to do for meat.
On Nov. 19, the USDA¡¯s National Organic Standards Board approved standards that would allow organic fish farmers to use wild fish as part of their feed mix provided it did not exceed 25% of the total. Yet, 93% of Americans agree that fish labeled as organic should be produced by 100% organic feed.
Finally, while the FDA recently proposed allowing meat or milk products from cloned or genetically engineered animals to be sold without labels, 94% of those polled believe that meat and dairy products from cloned animals should be labeled as such.
As Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., Senior Scientist and Policy Analyst at Consumers Union explained, ¡°The American public wants to know more about their food, where it comes from, how safe it is, and will vote with their dollars to support highly meaningful labels.¡±

Are pill-popping turkeys a danger?
Antibiotics are approved to treat sick turkeys and to keep disease from spreading.
Treating poultry (and other food animals) with antibiotics could lead to some serious health consequences for human beings.
By Karen Ravn
November 24, 2008
Source of Article:
Turkeys, like any other animal, get sick. And while few would dispute that they should be treated when that happens, many scientists, medical professionals and animal experts are concerned that too much medicine is being given to too many turkeys -- and to too many food animals in general.
"The use and misuse are rampant," says Bill Niman, founder of Niman Ranch in Northern California and a member of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production.
Those concerned fear that the practice will have serious consequences for human health care -- and that some of those consequences are already starting to show up.
Antibiotics are approved in turkeys both for therapeutic use (meaning, to treat sick turkeys) and for disease prevention -- which usually means the rest of the flock will also be treated to keep the disease from spreading.
Antibiotics are used in this same way in other food animals, and in some cases they're also used for growth promotion, although that's not supposed to be done with turkeys.
The potential for danger from antibiotic use in farm animals comes in two forms, experts say: The antibiotics could remain in meat when people eat it. They could also contribute to the development of resistant bacteria.
If people are getting a dose of antibiotics every time they have a hamburger or a piece of chicken -- or a turkey drumstick -- this exposure could possibly be harmful. We all have benevolent bacteria in our bodies, and the antibiotics we eat could kill those good bacteria. Also, some people are sensitive to antibiotics, with reactions ranging from diarrhea to itching to seizures, and they could have these reactions to the food they eat.
Even critics of antibiotic use see this danger as minimal, at least in turkeys. A withdrawal time has been established for every antibiotic, based on testing how long it remains in the bird after usage has stopped. So if the withdrawal time is, say, two weeks, the antibiotic cannot be given for at least two weeks before the turkey goes to market.
Besides, the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture routinely examine the turkeys for residue of the drugs, says Sherrie Rosenblatt, spokeswoman for the National Turkey Federation, and on average, the birds are found to be 99.9% residue free.
The second concern -- that of antibiotic resistance -- has many more scientists worried. Resistance develops when antibiotics kill off some of the bacteria they're supposed to, but not all -- so only the super-strong survive. If this happens enough, the susceptible bacteria are wiped out, but a strain of resistant bacteria takes over in their place, and the antibiotics that used to work don't work any longer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls antibiotic resistance one of its top concerns.
"There are bacteria that were once treatable with antibiotics that are now resistant to everything," says microbiologist Lance Price, director of metagenomics and human health at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix.
No one doubts that much of the problem stems from improper or unnecessary antibiotic use by humans -- say, to treat viral infections like colds and flu. But Price says that part of the problem is certainly due to agricultural use.
One example is the use of fluoroquinolones to treat Campylobacter in chickens, says Dr. Sherwood Gorbach, distinguished professor of public health and medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.
Campylobacter is the leading cause of bacterial diarrhea in the United States, and is typically treated by the fluoroquinolone Cipro. But since the mid 1990s, resistance to Cipro has gone up from 2% to 20% or even higher, Gorbach says. And he believes it's due to the use of Baytril, the form of the drug used in chickens.
The government found the drug troubling too. In 1996, the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System was created to monitor human and animal resistance to 17 antimicrobials (antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiparasitics). And in 2005, using data from the monitoring system, the FDA banned the use of fluoroquinolones in poultry in order to reduce the prevalence of resistant Campylobacter.
Price led a team at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore that studied the effectiveness of this ban by comparing Campylobacter resistance rates in 2004 and 2006. In a study published last year in Environmental Health Perspectives, the team tested chicken products from two conventional producers and three antibiotic-free producers -- 198 packages in 2004 and 210 in 2006 -- and found no significant change in the resistance rates.
But they did find that the Campylobacter from the two conventional producers were significantly more likely to be resistant than those from the antibiotic-free producers.
The team concluded that resistant strains of bacteria may continue to contaminate poultry products even after the drug is no longer being used.
How many antibiotics are used in agriculture? That is hard to estimate, scientists say, because there is no requirement to report this use.
"We . . . have no knowledge about how they are being used in the field, i.e., whether it is common practice to use them on a regular basis," says Siobhan DeLancey in the FDA Office of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C.
In 2001, the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for a healthy environment, estimated that every year in this country 3 million pounds of antimicrobials are used in human medicine. By contrast, the organization estimated that 24.6 million pounds are used in food animals for nontherapeutic purposes: about 10.5 million pounds in poultry, 10.3 million pounds in hogs and 3.7 million pounds in cattle.
In poultry, the organization found, use had shot up since the 1980s, from 2 million to 10.5 million pounds, and only 40% of that increase could be attributed to growth in the poultry industry.
An earlier study by the Animal Health Institute came up with a much lower figure for agricultural use: 17.8 million pounds for therapeutic and nontherapeutic uses in all animals, not just poultry, hogs and cattle.
"But no one would challenge that we're using far more in agriculture than in human medicine," says Margaret Mellon, director of the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Some view antibiotics as key to growing healthy turkeys in large numbers, which is not to say they believe in using the drugs willy-nilly.
In fact, growers have strong incentives to use as few as possible, says Francine Bradley, extension poultry specialist in the Animal Science Department at UC Davis. "They cost a lot of money, so no one gives them indiscriminately. Besides if they've overused them previously, they won't get a good response when they really need them."
But growers do need them sometimes, and not only to treat sick birds, but to keep the disease from spreading to the whole flock, says Daniel Fletcher, head of the Animal Science Department at the University of Connecticut. Without them, costs would go up and price many people out of the meat market. "If we didn't use antibiotics," he says, "we'd have a tough time meeting the nutritional needs of people in this country."
Gorbach says there's a bill before Congress right now intended to allow more use of fluoroquinolones in chickens again and adds, "We feel very strongly that's the wrong thing to do."
Other studies also point toward dangers from antibiotic use in food animals.
* One, published in 2007 in the journal Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, found a possible link between the meat women eat and their chances of getting a urinary tract infection caused by drug-resistant Escherichia coli (E.coli).
In it, a team from UC Berkeley studied 99 women, comparing those with urinary tract infections caused by drug resistant E. coli to those with urinary tract infections caused by nonresistant E. coli. They found that women infected with E. coli resistant to multiple antibiotics ate chicken more often than the others. They also found that women infected with either ampicillin-resistant or cephalosporin-resistant E. coli ate pork more often.
The researchers concluded that the antimicrobial-resistant E. coli that cause urinary tract infections may come from poultry, pork or both.

* And in June, a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Boston found potentially deadly methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus -- or MRSA -- in nearly half of the 299 pigs tested on 10 farms in Iowa and Illinois, as well as in nine of the 20 farm workers they tested. (The study has not yet been published.)
Study lead author Tara Smith, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa, has speculated that the tetracycline used in hog farming may be responsible.
Yet in spite of such studies there remains no conclusive evidence that antibiotic use in food animals is to blame. And some believe it's all just a tempest in a turkey barn.
"Some people have an agenda against farm animals," says Murray Bakst, research physiologist at the Agricultural Research Service in Maryland. "There's more of a danger from people flushing antibiotics down the toilet than from the antibiotics in animal feed."
Ravn is a freelance writer.

Healthy livestock can carry harmful bacteria
Tom Blackwell, National Post
Published: Monday, November 24, 2008
Source of Article:
Surprising numbers of seemingly healthy livestock carry bacteria that can be harmful to humans, representing a "hidden reservoir" of disease that poses a serious risk to public health, a new Canadian study has concluded.
Montreal-based researchers sampled thousands of "asymptomatic" pigs -- those that showed no signs of illness and would likely end up slaughtered and sold as meat products -- in what they called the first such research of its kind.
They found that many carried strains of salmonella that can make humans sick, and most of the bacteria were resistant to at least some antibiotics.
"The abundance of infected but asymptomatic hosts in all provinces represents a serious threat to food safety," said their paper, just published in the journal PLoS ONE.
"Asymptomatic carriers can [also] have a significant role in the contamination of the environment and other animals, since large volumes of the bacterium can be excreted during fattening, transport and slaughter."
To try to keep tainted meat off the market, farmers and veterinarians tend to single out animals that appear ill, then either treat or cull them.
But as authorities fight to curb Canada's continuing food-safety problem, the new findings suggest they should put more focus on healthy animals, said Gabriel Perron, one of the study's authors. That involves developing vaccines for animals against common food-borne microbes, changing what livestock are fed and how they are raised.
Mr. Perron, now a doctoral student in zoology at the University of Oxford, said asymptomatic animals have in the past been generally ignored by scientists, partly because it was easier to focus on animals that were clearly sick themselves.
His team, made up of researchers from McGill University and the University of Montreal, tested more than 7,400 pigs in five province.
For the sake of the study, they focused on salmonella, cause of many human disease outbreaks, which trigger symptoms ranging from vomiting to fever and bloody diarrhea. They found that about 6% of the pigs carried the bacteria, though the range was from as little as about 1% in Saskatchewan to more than 9% in Ontario, much higher than earlier estimates, their paper said.
The symptom-free hogs also carried several different strains of salmonella, including a number that were resistant to one or more antibiotics. Treating people who contracted one of the strains from an asymptomatic pig with ampicillin, a "broad-spectrum" antibiotic, would result in treatment failure in 50% of patients, the study says.
The study's findings would likely hold true for other bacteria and animals, Mr. Perron said. He noted that E. coli 0157-H7, the bug that caused the Walkerton outbreak and so-called hamburger disease, does not cause illness in the cattle that carry it.
While the study suggests that healthy farm animals should be a greater concern for food-safety experts, tackling the issue will not be easy, Mr. Perron admitted.
"It is really difficult to identify asymptomatic hosts and it would be logistically impossible to test every single animal to see if they are asymptomatic carriers," he said.
Andrew Potter, head of the University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO), said such livestock are, in fact, getting more attention now.
The options to clear them of infection include vaccines, changing what livestock are fed and keeping their living conditions more hygienic, he said. "We need to look at the whole food chain a bit differently," he said. "Disease [in animals] isn't necessarily the end point here."

Italian Researcher Tells Audience at K-State That Work in Animal Models Suggests a Variant of Mad Cow Disease May Be Transmissible to Humans
Source of Article:
Last update: 4:59 p.m. EST Nov. 24, 2008
MANHATTAN, KS, Nov 24, 2008 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) -- The classical form of mad cow disease and a variant manifest themselves differently, but research suggests that the variant may also be transmissible to humans, according a researcher speaking at Kansas State University.
Cristina Casalone presented "BSE and BASE: An Update" at the Emerging Infections: A Tribute to the One Medicine, One Health Concept symposium on Nov. 14 at K-State. The conference drew nearly 150 researchers from Europe, Asia, North America and the Middle East to the K-State campus.
K-State is among the finalists for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, a federal center for animal health. The symposium's major sponsors included the Heartland BioAgro Consortium, which is leading an effort to bring the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility to Kansas, as well as the Kansas Bioscience Authority.
Casalone's presentation addressed studies to assess whether bovine amyloidotic spongiform encephalopathy, often called BASE, is caused by a transmissible prion strain different from the one that causes classical bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE. She said that BASE and BSE differed in several ways, including incubation time. Data suggest that BASE has at least the same animal and human health risks as classical BSE, she said.
The symposium was led by Juergen Richt, the Regents Distinguished Professor of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology at K-State and Kansas Bioscience Authority Eminent Scholar. In September, Richt and colleague Mark Hall of the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, published research findings that showed a genetic mutation can cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy -- also called BSE or mad cow disease.

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Holiday Meals Rife With (Safe) Carcinogens!
November 24, 2008 by Barbara Kram, Editor
Source of Article:
New York, NY - The widespread belief that organic and so-called "natural foods" are safer than conventional ones is simply not true. Scientists with the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) point out that the foods that make up a traditional holiday dinner are loaded with "carcinogens": chemicals that in large doses cause cancer in laboratory animals. None of these chemicals are man-made or added to the foods. These "carcinogens" occur naturally in foods.
But ACSH scientists have good news: these natural carcinogens, like their synthetic counterparts, pose no hazard to human health -- because we are exposed to such low levels, and because we are not the same as lab animals.
ACSH President, Dr. Elizabeth Whelan notes, "Americans are still constantly bombarded with dire warnings that synthetic chemicals have dangerous, if not downright deadly effects on our health." She continues, "We're also told that so-called natural or organic foods are better for us than those containing any synthetic ingredients or produced by conventional means."
ACSH's Holiday Dinner Menu highlights the chemicals -- and the carcinogens -- that Mother Nature herself has put in our food. These natural carcinogens, like synthetic chemicals, have been shown to cause cancer only in very high doses, given over a lifetime to lab animals. They are present in such small amounts in our foods that they do not endanger consumers.
This fact hasn't dampened the ardor of self-styled consumer activists, who "warn" consumers about the supposed dangers of acrylamide, for example, which is produced when foods high in carbohydrates are cooked at high temperatures. "Acrylamide, like the majority of the other rodent carcinogens listed in the menu, has never been shown to be a human carcinogen," observes ACSH nutrition director Dr. Ruth Kava.
No component of the traditional holiday meal is devoid of animal carcinogens (defined here as substances that at high doses cause cancer in laboratory animals), including:
- hydrazines (mushroom soup)
- aniline, caffeic acid, benzaldehyde, hydrogen peroxide, quercetin glycosides, and psoralens (vegetable salad)
- heterocyclic amines, acrylamide, benzo(a)pyrene, ethyl carbamate, dihydrazines, d-limonene, safrole, and quercetin glycosides (roast turkey with stuffing)
- benzene and heterocyclic amines (prime rib of beef with parsley sauce)
- furfural, ethyl alcohol, allyl isothiocyanate (broccoli, potatoes, sweet potatoes)
- coumarin, methyl eugenol, acetaldehyde, estragole, and safrole (apple and pumpkin pies)
- ethyl alcohol with ethyl carbamate (red and white wines)
Then sit back and relax with some benzofuran, caffeic acid, catechol, 1,2,5,6,-dibenz(a)anthracene with 4-methylcatechol (coffee).
And those -- all produced courtesy of Mother Nature -- are only the carcinogens. Your 100% natural holiday meal is also replete with toxins. These include the solanine, arsenic, and chaconine in potatoes, the hydrogen cyanide in lima beans, and the hallucinogenic compound myristicin found in nutmeg, black pepper, and carrots.
Rest easy, though, because virtually none of the compounds on ACSH's list are established human carcinogens, and, as the Holiday Dinner Menu demonstrates, we would have to eat enormous amounts of these foods over long periods of time before we could ever expect them to cause cancer.
The same is true of the majority of the food additives that are now considered to be "carcinogenic" based exclusively on animal experiments, notes ACSH.
The American Council on Science and Health, a non-profit organization dedicated to putting health risks in perspective, with over 300 science and medical advisors, urges consumers to pay attention to realistic concerns about our foods. The greatest health threats from our foods are (1) eating too much of them -- enough to cause obesity with its accompanying illnesses -- and (2) microbiological contamination. So enjoy your holiday foods in moderation, with appropriate sanitary precautions -- without worrying about the supposedly deadly chemicals they contain.

Fish & Shellfish Top CSPI Outbreak List
November 25, 2008
Source of Article:
As Thanksgiving Approaches, Group Urges Obama Administration to Make Food Safety Top Priority
WASHINGTON?Outbreaks involving produce, including E. coli on spinach, and Salmonella on jalapeno peppers and fresh tomatoes grabbed headlines this year and last. But when you look at relative rates of outbreak-related illnesses caused by various foods, fish and shellfish turn out to cause more sicknesses per bite than any other category. Turkey is linked to three times as many illnesses as chicken?no doubt in part because many harried holiday cooks might not as be as familiar with how to safely thaw and cook a whole big bird, or to store the leftovers
"While many food safety disasters in the home can be avoided with careful handling, those coming to the table from farms and factories here and abroad have become far too frequent over the last few years," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety for the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest. "Instead of relying on recalls and warnings, the Food and Drug Administration should focus on preventing these problems from ever reaching consumers."
According to the foodborne-illness data crunched by CSPI in its annual Outbreak Alert! report, a pound of fish and shellfish is 29 times more likely to cause illness than the safest food category, a pound of dairy foods. After dairy, produce is the second safest category of food, followed by pork (click to see accompanying chart).
Even when not adjusted for consumption, CSPI's Outbreak Alert! database has more seafood outbreaks, 1,140, than for any other category of food. Fin fish, such as tuna, grouper, mahi mahi, and salmon, were linked to 694 of those outbreaks; mollusks, including oysters, clams, and mussels were linked to 175 outbreaks; and the rest linked to shrimp, lobster, or foods such as crab cakes and tuna burgers. While Vibrio bacteria and noroviruses contributed to those, naturally occurring toxins such as scombrotoxin and ciguatoxin account for a plurality of seafood outbreaks.
"Our food safety system is based on antiquated laws, including ones that are more than a hundred years old," DeWaal said. "A hundred years ago we weren¡¯t importing millions of pounds of seafood from Asia, nor were we repacking Mexican tomatoes and shipping them to 50 states. Modernizing this system should be an urgent priority of the Obama administration, to reduce outbreaks and illnesses from food and restore consumer confidence."
Outbreak Alert! includes nearly 5,800 outbreaks that occurred between 1990 and 2006 for which both the food and the pathogen are identified. The data set has been published by CSPI for the last 10 years, and can be reviewed on CSPI's website. Because foodborne illness is dramatically underreported, because much foodborne illness does not occur in outbreaks, and because it is so difficult to prove which food caused an outbreak, CSPI's data represents just the tip of a very large iceberg: Each year, according to the CDC, foodborne illness sickens 76 million and kills 5,000 Americans.
CSPI reminds home cooks to allow plenty of time to thaw whole turkeys in the refrigerator?about 24 hours for every four to five pounds?and to not let germs on the turkey grow by thawing on the counter. Cook whole turkeys to 180 degrees F as measured by a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh and be sure to refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours after cooking to keep them safe.

Lawsuit Filed in Nevada Botulism Case
Source of Article:
A federal lawsuit against Campbell's soup company, Albertson's markets and Save Mart claiming they were sickened and hospitalized for botulism poisoning after eating a can of chicken broth in 2006.
While Randy and Marjorie Main were being treated, the can of Swanson's seasoned chicken broth with roasted garlic was tested and C. Botulinum was found, according to the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Reno. According to the complaint, the Mains bought the chicken broth from an Albertson's grocery store on Pyramid Lake Highway in Sparks on Dec. 23, 2006, and added it to their mashed potatoes "in the manner described on the can of broth," the suit said.
They ate the potatoes on Dec. 26, and "developed symptoms consistent with botulism poisoning," including having trouble breathing and muscle weakness, the suit said. Both were hospitalized, diagnosed and tested positive for botulism and were given an anti-toxin, the suit said. But they were unable to breathe on their own, and both were given tracheotomies and placed on ventilators, the suit said. During this period, Randy Main "suffered a respiratory arrest that led to a hypoxic brain injury," the suit said. The couple had to stay in the hospital from December 2006 until March 2007, the suit said.

Taking the gross out of the grocery cart
Source of Article:
The Wall Street Journal
Published: 11/24/2008 12:15 AM
When Brad Blaine grabbed a cart on a recent run to the Chevy Chase Supermarket in suburban Maryland, he noticed it was a little moist.
He was puzzled, he says, until he figured out that the cart had been pushed through a sort of car wash for shopping carts - a hut set up at the store that mists a disinfecting peroxide solution onto carts as they're pushed through.
"As soon as I realized what it was, I felt, 'Here's a store that's going through the trouble to make sure customers feel safe,'" says the 48-year-old dad.
The cart wash represents the latest effort from both entrepreneurs and grocers to take the gross out of grocery carts. Though hardly Public Enemy No. 1, shopping carts are gaining a reputation as one of the dirtiest public places, with some found to harbor such microbial villains as the diarrhea-causing campylobacter and the potentially deadly salmonella.
Cleansing-wipe dispensers have been appearing next to shopping carts at grocery stores for some years now. But a host of other products have emerged to appease germophobes who shop. These new offerings include protective covers that minimize infants' contact with the seat, full-cart liners and portable, snap-on handles carried by consumers.
No one disputes that carts harbor microbes. In a study released last year, University of Arizona researchers who sampled bacterial content on 60 grocery-store shopping carts in the Los Angeles area found that cart surfaces had exponentially more bacteria than what they had measured in about 100 public restrooms, from toilet seats to flush handles.
And a 2006 study of 442 infected infants in eight states by the Centers for Disease Control showed that riding in shopping carts next to meat was one of the biggest identified risk factors for salmonella infection in infants, right below reptile exposure and consumption of partially cooked eggs.
Still, some public-health experts scoff at the emergence of cart-sanitizing products, saying the best flu prevention comes from remembering to wash your hands. "It is a futile endeavor to strive for an antiseptic environment," says Rolf Halden, professor at Arizona State University who is an expert in public-health issues. "The consumerism of producing more and more products to try to achieve something unsustainable makes no sense."
Elaine Larson, a professor at Columbia University School of Nursing, adds: "Common sense says that shopping carts should be cleaned every now and then." But, she says, "in the relative risk of things, it's way down on the priority list."
So far, it has been hard to gauge the appetite for this arsenal of new cleaning products. With sales of $25 million a year, wipes provided at the grocery store are still a small part of the entire $1.8 billion wipes industry, but are growing about twice as fast as other types of wipes, estimates Mike Richardson, industry analyst for the Freedonia Group in Cleveland, which has studied this market.
Still, relatively few grocery shoppers are reaching for the wipes they see in stores. Purell wipes, made by GoJo Industries Inc., are used by only 5 percent of customers in the first year the dispensers are installed in a store, though more shoppers tend to use them in subsequent years as the behavior "normalizes," says John DePace, GoJo's director of market development for grocery. Another brand of wipes, called SaniCart, is used by between 15 percent to 20 percent of customers in stores where the wipes are provided, a spokesman for manufacturer Nice-Pak says.
Meanwhile, the manufacturer of the cart wash Blaine used argues that grocers - not customers - should ensure the cleanliness of carts. "We like the idea of wipes, but what's the message?" says Jim Kratowicz, president of PureCart, Green Bay, Wis. "Our carts are dirty, here's a rag, go clean it?"
PureCart's cleaning devices, launched two years ago, are now in 21 grocery stores in the U.S. Each machine costs about $7,500 a year for a store to rent; the company tells grocers that stores that provide the machines will draw more customers.
Other products are targeted directly to consumers. A number of Whole Foods Market Inc. stores sell protective liners for mothers who put babies in carts. Made by Pelham, N.H.-based Babe Ease LLC, the Clean Shopper is a coverlet that allows the baby to sit in the cart without coming into direct contact with it. The product retails for about $30.
Marge Dandy and her husband came up with the idea for another variation on the theme, the Healthy Handle, after Ms. Dandy, who had just completed cancer treatments, cut her hand on a plastic shopping cart handle. The product is made from plastic and snaps over the handle. The Dandys, who live in Shawnee, Okla., have sold about 5,000 Healthy Handles since launching their Web site,, two years ago. The handles retail for about $10 each.

Feds file lawsuit against organic dairy in California
Suit alleges dairy shipped raw milk across state lines
(Capital Press, CA)
By Mateusz Perkowski
A California organic dairy producer vows to fight a federal government lawsuit that seeks to bar his company from shipping raw milk products across state lines.
"The (Food and Drug Administration) is reaching way beyond its authority to intimidate us and what we do, but we will not be intimidated," said Mark McAfee, owner of the Organic Pastures Dairy Company in Fresno, Calif.
The U.S. Justice Department filed suit against McAfee in a U.S. district court Thursday, Nov. 20, claiming that he endangered public health by violating a federal law against interstate commerce in unpasteurized milk.
The U.S. Health and Human Services Department, which oversees FDA, is also participating in the lawsuit.
"Raw milk and raw milk products contain a wide variety of harmful bacteria including, but not limited to, listeria monocytogenes, E. coli, salmonella, campylobacter and brucella, all of which may cause illness and possibly death," according to the federal government's complaint.
According to the federal government's lawsuit, McAfee circumvented restrictions on the interstate shipment of raw milk by labeling outgoing boxes as "pet food." Unpasteurized milk is allowed to cross state lines as long as it's used for that purpose.
However, the retail products within the boxes did not mention pet food and the labeling language was clearly directed at human consumers, according to the government's complaint.
The lawsuit contends that an employee at Organic Pastures Dairy unwittingly acknowledged the pet food label was a "legal loophole for the firm to be able to ship the product out of state" to an undercover FDA investigator.
McAfee admitted as much in a 2005 Portland Tribune article in which he was quoted as saying, "And there is no regulation that you can't eat pet food, either," according to the complaint.
Organic Pastures Dairy no longer labels its products as pet food unless the customer signs an affidavit saying the milk will only be fed to animals, McAfee said. The company established that policy after the FDA threatened it with a criminal indictment earlier this year, he said.
The only product McAfee now ships out of state is colostrum, which, as dietary supplement, can legally cross state lines, he said. Colostrum, or milk that is secreted shortly after birth, is used for immune system support and other health benefits.
"They fail to understand that what we do is completely legal," McAfee said.
McAfee expects the presiding judge, Oliver Wanger, to rule against the federal government before the case goes to trial.
The federal government wants the judge to issue an injunction prohibiting McAfee from shipping his products out of California, no matter how they are labeled.
The government's lawsuit says that seven people died and more than 460 fell ill from diseases associated with raw milk consumption between 2000 and 2005. Epidemiological studies have established a direct link between raw milk and gastrointestinal disease, according to the complaint.
Proponents of raw milk, such as the Weston A. Price Foundation, say such studies are biased and based on sloppy science.
"Most of them represent a rush to judgment in which the investigators blamed raw milk without sufficient evidence or even in the face of contrary evidence," according to a report from the foundation.
Raw milk contains beneficial proteins, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, according to proponents.Christine Chessen, director of the California Raw Milk Association, said that raw milk can alleviate symptoms of asthma, eczema, allergies and immune disease.
"I don't see why they're making such a big deal out of it, especially since people have gotten such amazing health benefits from it," she said.
The federal government alleges that the Organic Pastures Dairy website unlawfully claimed "that their raw milk and raw milk products can cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent various diseases including, but not limited to, cataracts, ear infections, sinus infections, arthritis pain, allergy, and asthma."
McAfee said that his website did not make such claims, but contained links to other sites that include health benefit information and substantiated those claims with scientific studies.
"That's legal to do," he said.
At one time, the Organic Pastures Dairy website contained testimonials from customers, but those were removed in 2005 after the company was fined by the California Department of Health Services, McAfee said. 11-21-08

Metal detection tool minimises food loss, says US developer
By Jane Byrne , 25-Nov-2008
Source of Article:
A new metal detector targeted at the food processing sector offers minimal loss of good material due to a fast reacting, powerful pneumatic drive for the reject gate, says the manufacturer. Charles Whitt, marketing manager at Bunting Magnetics Company, said that the new Quicktron 05 RH detector provides reliable detection of metals such as ferrous, bronze alloys and stainless steel in any type of food in the raw form without process interruption.
Metal detection in food is required due to the fact that different processing equipment throughout a facility gives off tiny stainless steel filings that must be removed prior to further processing or packaging. Locating their presence can prove to be difficult task for manufacturers, so detectors can help ensure product safety and quality.

Removable flap
Whitt told that this Quicktron model differs from conventional detectors in that it has a removable flap and diverter that can be quickly disconnected without tools; in addition, he said, it has a built-in sensing tube to block out outside interference. He explained that the detection process involves two sender coils and one transmitter coil working in tandem so that as metal passes through the system the electromagnetic field is disrupted, enabling a signal to be sent to the controls for automatic separation of the metal from the product.

Dust buster
According to Whitt, the detector¡¯s open framework and its round reject mechanism without critical edges prevents dust and dirt settlement, while the product contacting parts are made from food grade materials such as stainless steel, polypropylene, silicone, and Teflon. The Quicktron 05 RH is suitable for all applications and throughputs, with round apertures available from 50 to 300mm diameter (2 to 12 inches), he continued.

Easy integration
Whitt said that the metal detector features a touch pad control panel that has easy to follow menus, and it is also easy to integrate into an existing plant as it has low headroom and compact dimensions. He added that the detector should be placed within the processing line where raw food product is being gravity fed into the production process. The Kansas based company said the Quicktron 05 RH is available to European food manufacturers as well as its US client base.

US army awards funding for antimicrobial agent
By Jane Byrne, 24-Nov-2008
Source of Article:
A new phage-based technology aimed at eliminating or reducing contamination of red meat and fresh produce by E. coli 0157:H7 has received a development grant from the US Army, according to its developer, Intralytix.
The company said the funding for its food additive, ECP 100, is part of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants process awarded by the Army to support the transition of products into the marketplace.
John Vazzana, chief executive officer of Intralytix, said that the bacteriophage cocktail has been tested effective against over 100 strains of E. coli 0157:H7, and could be sprayed onto red meats, fruit and vegetables to inhibit contamination by the pathogen.
ECP 100 is the second phage-based food safety product developed by the company.

Anti-listeria phage
The biotechnology firm recently announced that its product, LMP-102 received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a food additive effective against Listeria monocytogenes on ready-to-eat foods.
Vazzana told at the time that the EPA registration enables food manufacturers to use LMP-102 on food processing equipment as well as on ready-to-eat food products.
He said that the antimicrobial agent can be sprayed onto equipment and food produce such as coleslaw, unpasteurized cheese, pasteurized milk, delicatessen and other types of meat products.
"As LMP-102 is an all natural product it will not corrode or damage equipment nor alter a food product's general composition, taste, odour or colour," said Vazzana.

Competitive pricing
Vazzana said that that LMP-102 is more costly than some chemicals but that it is competitively priced in comparison to other types of antimicrobial interventions.
He said that commercial sales of the phage-based product have recently commenced in the US but that Intralytix intends to expand into other markets and is seeking regulatory approval in the EU. According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 76 million people get sick, 300,000 are hospitalized, and 5,000 die in the US from foodborne illness annually.
Listeria monocytogenes and E. coli 0157:H7 are two of the seven foodborne organisms causing these problems, claims Intralytix.

E. coli meat test
Meanwhile a newly developed E.coli tool from Canadian company Vacci-Test, FoodChek E.coli, uses magnetic nanotechnology and a proprietary, inexpensive and easy-to-use magnetic reader that provides a very sensitive, specific and quantitative test result, claims the manufacturer. The company said that the E.coli tool has successfully completed field trials in two meat processing plants: ¡°The field trials have shown that it can accurately test for E.coli O157:H7 in less than 6 hours.¡± Sandy MacPherson, chairman of the executive operating committee of Vacci-Test, said that the E.coli testing tool will have ¡°a major impact for both regulatory agencies and meat-processors. Potential food contaminants such as E.coli O157:H7 can now be tested on site and identified prior to the end of a production shift.¡±

And Econiche, a new vaccine for cattle that aims to reduce the risk of food and waterborne contamination from E. coli O157:H7 bacteria, recently received approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Econiche can now be used by Canadian cattle producers and veterinarians, according to Bioniche. The development will be of huge interest to meat processors as recalls linked to bacterial contamination can cause illness, as well as being costly and brand damaging. The company said its vaccine works by preventing the E. coli O157:H7 organism from attaching to the intestines of vaccinated cattle, thereby reducing their reproduction within the animal, and reducing the amount of bacteria that can be released through cattle manure in the environment.

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