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Food safety suffering from funding cuts
Source of Article:
12/16/2008-The Trust for America¡¯s Health (TFAH) has released its sixth annual report?Ready or not? Protecting the public¡¯s health from diseases, disasters, and bioterrorism. The report contains state-by-state health preparedness scores for all 50 states and Washington, D.C. based on 10 key indicators to assess health emergency preparedness capabilities. Food safety is one of the main topics included in the report. The 2008 report finds that cuts in federal funding for state and local preparedness since 2005, coupled with the cuts states are making to their budgets in response to the economic crisis, are putting the progress toward improved public health preparedness at risk.
The economic crisis could result in a serious rollback of the progress we¡¯ve made since Sept. 11, 2001, and Hurricane Katrina to better prepare the nation for emergencies,¡± said Jeff Levi, Executive Director of TFAH. ¡°The 25% cut in federal support to protect Americans from diseases, disasters, and bioterrorism is already hurting state response capabilities.¡±
Some 2008 health emergencies included the Salmonella outbreak in jalapeno and Serrano peppers and the largest beef recall in history, which occurred in Feb. The report stated that America¡¯s food safety system has not been fundamentally modernized in more than 100 years. In addition, the report showed that 20 states and D.C. did not meet or exceed the national average rate for being able to identify the pathogens responsible for foodborne disease outbreaks.
The report concluded with suggested food safety reforms to make the U.S. food safety system preventative, instead of reactive:
1. Unified and prevention-oriented statutory mandate and organizational structures.
2. Increased resources for research, standard-setting, inspection, enforcement, and education.
3. Risk-based resource allocation.

Nanotechnology May be Used for Food Safety

China launches food safety campaign
Source of Article:
12/16/2008-According to an article in the Washington Post, China has launched a four-month food safety campaign to weed out illegal or excessive chemicals in food. The drive is being conducted by nine central government departments and targets food and additive producers across the country. The campaign is being conducted in three phases. In the first month, companies are being asked to conduct internal checks. In the following two months, authorities will inspect producers of meat, dairy, and other products rich in protein, and conduct checks on markets. The third phase in the last month will focus on stemming the supply of illegal food additives by targeting producers and punishing companies that use such chemicals. The chemicals being focused on are those that have been issues in past domestic food scares. These include: malachite green, a possibly cancer-causing chemical used to treat fungal infections in fish; the industrial dye sudan red, which was being used to color egg yolks; and the more recent melamine, which was being used to make dairy products appear to be higher in protein.

USDA tests for melamine in meat and poultry products Source of Article:
12/15/2008-The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture¡¯s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will be conducting sample testing of meat and poultry products for the presence of melamine. The Agency intends to collect and test a total of 45 samples per week over a 12-week period. This decision comes after melamine was found in certain imported food products. FSIS¡¯s sampling will focus on those meat and poultry products that contain milk-derived ingredients such as non-fat dried milk, casein, whey, evaporated milk, and milk powder. Thus, FSIS has chosen the following five types of products for testing:
1. Baby food (containing a significant amount of meat or poultry products)
2. Cooked sausages (including hot dogs or frankfurters with and without cheese products)
3. Breaded chicken (bite sized morsels or nuggets with and without cheese products)
4. Meatballs
5. Meat and poultry wrapped in dough and pizza (including calzones)

Meatpacking Maverick
Source of Article:
News: Montana meatpacker John Munsell's against-the-odds struggle for improved food safety. By Michael Scherer
November/December 2003 Issue
Bad Meat made an activist out of John Munsell. Before the tainted beef arrived -- USDA-approved and vacuum-sealed -- at Montana Quality Foods, Munsell's family-run packing plant, this die-hard Republican had no reason to doubt the integrity of the food-safety system. But that changed after the meat he ground for hamburger tested positive for E. coli 0157:H7, a potentially deadly pathogen found in cattle feces that sickens thousands every year.
Instead of tracking the contaminated meat back to its source, the USDA launched an investigation of Munsell's own operation in Miles City, Montana. Never mind that the local federal inspector had seen the beef go straight from the package into a clean grinder -- a USDA spokesman called that testimony "hearsay." By February 2002, three more tests of meat Munsell was grinding straight from the package came back positive in USDA tests for E. coli. This time, as he would later testify in a government hearing, he had paperwork documenting that the beef came from a single source: ConAgra's massive Greeley, Colorado, facility, which kills as many cows in three hours as Montana Quality Foods handles in a year.
Munsell fired off an angry email to the district USDA manager, warning of a potential public-health emergency, and adding that if no one tracked down the rest of the bad meat, "both of us should share a cell in Alcatraz." The agency moved immediately and aggressively -- not to recall meat from Greeley, but to shut down Munsell's grinding operation, a punishment that lasted four months.
Despite Munsell's continued whistleblowing -- to Senator Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), national cattle associations, and his fellow meat processors -- the USDA failed to address the alleged contamination at ConAgra's Greeley plant. Then, in July 2002, Munsell's worst fears came true. E. coli-tainted burger from Greeley killed an Ohio woman and sickened at least 35 others. ConAgra then recalled 19 million pounds of beef, one of the largest recalls in history. (As much as 80 percent of the meat had already been consumed.)
"I want the world to know what the real policies are," says Munsell, driving through Miles City, a ranching town on Montana's eastern plain where the casinos compete with saddle shops on Main Street and the men don't take their hats off for much. "The real policies imperil the consumer," he says. "The USDA doesn't want that out."
Lanky, with thinning sandy hair, the 57-year-old Munsell speaks in a measured voice that barely hints at the fury he feels. Though his battle with the USDA has crippled his business, Munsell is now on the offensive. After months of lobbying, he persuaded Senator Burns to convene a congressional hearing in Billings last December, where Munsell testified on the failings of USDA inspections. Munsell also convinced the Government Accountability Project (GAP) -- the nation's leading whistleblower organization -- to investigate the USDA's handling of his case. In July 2003, GAP released a major report titled "Shielding the Giant: USDA's 'Don't Look, Don't Know' Policy for Beef Inspection." "The ConAgra-Munsell scandal," it concluded, "perpetuates a long-standing USDA pattern to blame the messenger and scapegoat the victims, rather than stand behind its seal of wholesomeness."
Why would the USDA willfully ignore a whistleblower and stand by as feces-tainted meat entered grocery stores? Two decades of federal reforms have left more and more regulation in the hands of the meat industry itself. "Agribusiness runs the show" at the USDA, says Tony Corbo, a food-safety lobbyist with the watchdog group Public Citizen.
In 1998 the USDA stopped testing for E. coli at the company's Greeley facility, saying internal safeguards were sufficient. While tests continued at small plants like Munsell's, the USDA allowed big packers to conduct their own in-house tests. Indeed, according to the congressional investigation of the ConAgra recall initiated by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), 33 in-house tests conducted at ConAgra's Greeley facility in the month before the recall came back positive for E. coli contamination. ConAgra failed to alert the USDA. In a scathing letter to Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman this spring, Waxman wrote that the USDA's policy of industry self-regulation "appears grossly inadequate to protect the public health."
Munsell has steadily been winning allies in his fight for reform. "This guy is the small businessman. He's done everything right," says Brad Keena, a spokesman for Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), who has followed Munsell's case closely. "But because he's the middleman, his reputation gets ground into the problem of the larger company." (Swift & Co., which boughtConAgra's meatpacking operations last year, insists there is no conclusive evidence that the Greeley plant was responsible for Munsell's bad meat.)
To this day, the USDA maintains that it followed all of its own policies in regard to ConAgra and boasts of new safeguards that were put into place after the recall. USDA spokesman Steve Cohen also argues that Munsell never proved the source of the initial E. coli contamination and suggests that he "got a good deal" on the ConAgra meat. Munsell isn't rattled by such accusations. "He is simply grasping at straws," he says.
The negative publicity from the USDA's shutdown of his plant has proved fatal to business. This summer, Munsell put his operation up for sale, foretelling the end of a business that his father -- who, at the age of 84, still serves breakfast to the crew -- founded in 1946. But Munsell has no regrets. What haunts him is not his decision to go public, he says, but the fact that he almost decided to stay quiet, just to protect his own livelihood. "You know what it comes down to?" says the third-generation meatpacker, his steady composure beginning to crack. "My grandkids. The USDA could care less about the health of my grandkids."

USDA CONSUMER ALERT: Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency

Tested Retail Hamburger for Non-O157:H7 Pathogenic Shiga Toxin Producing E. coli
Source of Article:
You might recall a blog post I did from January of 2008 where I discussed testing retail ground beef for Non-O157:H7 Pathogenic Shiga Toxin Producing E. coli (STEC). We have completed a portion of the first year¡¯s tests and are in the process of compiling the data. We hope to publish the results in the next month.
Non-O157 STEC are capable of causing the same debilitating triad of diseases as E. coli O157:H7, including hemorrhagic colitis, hemolytic uremic syndrome, and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. Infection with the non-O157 STEC can result in death in children, the elderly and the immunocompromised. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of reported cases of illnesses caused by this group of pathogenic E. coli has been steadily increasing over the past several years. Despite this, Non-O157:H7 STEC is not considered an adulterant under current law in the U.S. That needs to change.
Non-O157:H7 STEC are also known to occur in imported beef from several trading partners, yet the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has not required that imported beef be free of these pathogens. The Agency has also failed to devise steps to measure and control the presence of these pathogens in domestic beef production and the ground beef supply, at the slaughterhouse or the grocery store.

Next Ag Secretary Should Have Food Safety, Nutrition, and Environmental Focus, Groups Say
Source of Article:
USDA Concerned With More Than Maximizing Commodity Production, According to Consumer Coalition
WASHINGTON?Much of the media speculation on who the next Secretary of Agriculture will be focuses on candidates lacking experience with food safety, nutrition, or environmental issues?issues which are at the heart of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's mission. Consumer advocates and other public interest groups are today urging President-Elect Barack Obama to appoint an individual who appreciates the diversity of programs administered by the $95-billion-a-year department, as opposed to a candidate whose primary experience involves large-scale agricultural production.
"USDA's food assistance programs are vital to helping millions of Americans survive in this time of high unemployment and high food prices," the groups wrote. "Considering the contribution of the American diet to obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and other health problems, USDA must be more aggressive in promoting healthier diets." The groups further pointed out that the Government Accountability Office had recently identified food safety as one of 13 "urgent issues" needing the attention of the next Administration. "USDA has a responsibility for assuring the safety of the nation's meat, poultry, and processed egg supply and the Secretary must lead the way in addressing this urgent issue," the groups wrote.
The groups, which included the Consumer Federation of America, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumers Union, Safe Tables Our Priority, Food & Water Watch, the Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention, the Government Accountability Project, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, also cited agriculture's contribution to global climate change and urged that the next Secretary pay attention to soil and water conservation issues.
"President Lincoln, who established the USDA, referred to it as the ¡®people¡¯s department,'" said Carol Tucker-Foreman, Distinguished Fellow at Consumer Federation of America's Food Policy Institute. "Unfortunately, USDA has lost its way. It is now dominated by a collection of special interests, far removed from the people it is supposed to serve. Given the pressing issues of hunger, food safety and the environment, we urge President-Elect Obama to honor Lincoln¡¯s vision and choose a leader who can restore the mantle of ¡°people¡¯s department."
"The next agriculture secretary should be someone who wants to promote the consumption of safe and healthy diets?and diets that minimally harm the environment," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson, a signatory of the letter. "Regrettably, current USDA policies fall far short of that goal."

WHO sets tolerable daily intake for melamine in food
Source of Article:
12/09/2008-The World Health Organization (WHO) has established a tolerable daily intake (TDI) of 0.2 mg/kg body weight of melamine. While WHO believes that there is no good reason to have any melamine in food products, the TDI is meant to help national authorities set safe limits in food for withdrawal purposes should melamine be detected as a result of intentional adulteration.
This threshold is lower than the European Union¡¯s limitation of 0.5 mg. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration originally set its limit at 0.63 mg but because infants may be more sensitive than adults to exposures the FDA applied an additional 10-fold safety factor. This results in a TDI/10 of 0.063 mg melamine/kg body weight. The TDI is the outcome of a meeting organized by WHO held Dec. 5 in Ottawa, Canada.

Wal-Mart seeks summary judgment in salmonella suit
Source of Article:
Dec 10, 2008 9:54 AM (3 hrs ago) AP
CORTEZ, Colo. (Map, News) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has asked a judge for a summary judgment in its favor in a lawsuit filed by a Colorado man who claims he got salmonella from jalapeno peppers purchased at a Cortez Supercenter.
Brian Grubbs of Dolores filed the suit in Montezuma County District Court in September, blaming peppers his family purchased from Wal-Mart in June.
Attorneys for Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart filed a motion last month saying Grubbs' attorneys have produced no evidence that the store is liable.
The judge hasn't ruled on Wal-Mart's request for a summary judgment.
Grubbs' suit seeks unspecified damages from Wal-Mart and an unknown company that supplied the jalapenos to the store.

Uniform Compliance Date for Food Labeling Regulations

China says 300,000 babies sickened by tainted milk
(Associated Press China)
China has dramatically raised the toll from its tainted milk powder scandal, saying six babies likely died and 300,000 were sickened, figures that back up months of complaints from parents and show the government is beginning to acknowledge the scale of the crisis.
The scandal has been met with public dismay and anger, particularly among parents who feel the government breached their trust after their children were sickened or died from drinking infant formula authorities had certified as safe.
The Health Ministry's revised death toll is twice the previous figure, while the new count of 294,000 babies who suffered urinary problems from drinking contaminated infant formula is a six-fold increase from the last tally in September.
"Most of the sickened children received outpatient treatment for only small amounts of sand-like kidney stones found in their urinary systems, while some patients had to be hospitalized for the illness," the ministry said in a statement late Monday.
The latest statistics show that China's communist leaders are slowly acknowledging the scale of China's worst food safety scare in years. During such crises, the government often deliberately releases information piecemeal in part to keep from feeding public anger.
Thousands of parents have been clamoring for compensation for their sickened and dead children. The release of the figures raises the question of whether the Health Ministry is getting closer to finalizing a compensation scheme.
"The new figures are more realistic and objective than previous figures. We knew the previous ones could not have been accurate," said Chang Boyang, a Beijing lawyer who has provided legal assistance to families of children who became ill.
Four of the six deaths were recorded in the provinces of Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Guizhou and Shaanxi, and the other two were in Gansu province in the northwest, the ministry said.

FDA Warns Consumers and Retailers of Botulism Risk from Ungutted, Salt-Cured Alewives (Gaspereaux) Fish

Holidaymakers expect long claims battle
Source of Article:
Saturday, December 13, 2008, 06:30
HOLIDAYMAKERS demanding compensation after being struck down with salmonella in Turkey have been told to prepare for a drawn-out battle.
Hundreds of people who stayed at The Holiday Village in the resort of Sarigerme were struck down by the potentially deadly bacteria.
As first reported in the Mail in September, east Hull-based solicitor Neil Hudgell is representing five clients against tour operator First Choice.
In a letter sent to clients, Mr Hudgell said: "First Choice is carrying out background inquiries into the claims, of which you know there are many hundreds.
"I will let you know as soon as I hear further, but I am not expecting substantial progress in the very near future."
But Julie Harrod, 30, of Sutton Park, east Hull, who became ill on only the third day of their ¡Ì3,200 14-night break in August, is not satisfied with the length of time it is taking.
Miss Harrod had been hoping to relax with partner Andrew Taylor and children James, 11, and Alexander, eight.
Instead, she spent most of her time suffering from severe vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps.
The auxiliary nurse, who could not return to work for nine weeks, told the Mail: "I am still angry and upset that our holiday was ruined.
"But it is made worse by the fact First Choice is not acknowledging what happened to all these people. I want compensation. It is only right. The holiday was ruined."
Speaking at the time, First Choice blamed the illness on an "airborne virus".
A spokeswoman for the firm said: "First Choice can confirm the Harrod family's complaint is with our legal department and is being investigated.
"In this instance, as the Harrod family is pursuing legal action, First Choice will be in touch with their solicitor in due course.
"We are unable to comment further on this particular case so as to ensure that our comments do not unduly interfere or influence any future legal proceedings."

FDA Will Continue To Study Chemical
No Action Planned on Bisphenol A
Source of Article:
By Lyndsey Layton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 16, 2008; Page A03
The Food and Drug Administration, criticized by its own scientific advisers for ignoring available data about health risks posed by a chemical found in everyday plastic, said yesterday it has no plans to amend its position on the substance but will continue to study it.
The agency has been reviewing its risk assessments for bisphenol A, a chemical used to harden plastic that is found in a wide variety of products, from baby bottles to compact discs to the lining of canned goods. The chemical, commonly called BPA, mimics estrogen and may disrupt the body's carefully calibrated endocrine system.
BPA is found in the urine of more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scientists believe it is most easily ingested after leaching from plastic containers into food and drink. In September, the first large study of BPA in humans found that people with higher levels of bisphenol A had higher rates of heart disease, diabetes and liver abnormalities.
Over the past decade, more than 130 studies have linked BPA to breast cancer, obesity, diabetes, neurological problems and other disorders. Much of the new research suggests that BPA has an effect at very low doses -- lower than the current safety standard set by the FDA. The most prominent finding was by the National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, which reported that there is "some concern" that BPA may affect the brain and behavioral development of fetuses, infants and young children.
The FDA has maintained that BPA is safe, relying largely on two studies that were funded by the chemical industry.
In October, the FDA was faulted by its own panel of independent science advisers, who said the agency's position on BPA was scientifically flawed. The panel said the agency should revisit its assessment and take into account the studies it had ignored.
Yesterday, Laura Tarantino, director of the FDA's Office of Food Additive Safety, said the FDA will respond to that recommendation by performing additional analysis. She said she did not know if it would last months or years.
"I can't tell you when we will finalize this," she said. "There is a lot of work."
She said one aspect the agency will examine is the cumulative BPA exposure a person faces from numerous everyday items regulated by the FDA -- among them food and beverage containers, plastic medical devices such as tubing, and coatings on gel tablets.
Advocacy groups said the federal agency is squandering time and money.
"More years of research by FDA to determine what thousands of scientists worldwide already know about the toxic chemical is a waste of time, taxpayer dollars, and will place millions of babies yet to be born at risk," said Alex Formuzis, a spokesman for the Environmental Working Group.
Urvashi Rangan, senior scientist at Consumers Union, said the government ought to ban BPA in products intended for infants and children, whose developing bodies are thought to be most vulnerable to the impact of estrogen-mimicking chemicals such as BPA.
"This is science happening in slow motion," Rangan said. "There is a lot of evidence happening out here already to suggest vulnerable populations should not have to continue consuming BPA."
Political pressure on the FDA to ban BPA is growing. Several states have introduced bans of BPA in various products, and in the next Congress, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) are expected to reintroduce bills to ban BPA. Canada declared BPA a "toxic substance" and plans to ban it from baby bottles. A coalition of health and environmental groups meeting with President-elect Barack Obama's transition team is pushing a BPA ban as a top priority.
A number of retailers and manufacturers, meanwhile, have been offering BPA-free alternatives.

Anaphylactic reactions higher than thought
Source of Article:
(, December 15, 2008)
FAIRFAX, VA. ? There apparently has been a higher incidence of anaphylactic reactions than previously reported, according to a new study from the Mayo Clinic published in the December issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Anaphylaxis is an acute, systemic, multi-system and severe Type I Hypersensitivity allergic reaction in humans and other mammals.
So far this year, seven recalls have been announced by the Food Safety and Inspection Service due to undeclared allergens in specific meat and poultry products.
Entitled "The etiology and incidence of anaphylaxis in Rochester, Minnesota," the study by Wyatt W. Decker, M.D., chief of emergency medical departments at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and his team states that there were 50 emergency room visits per 100,000 population per year caused by anaphylaxis. In addition, the researchers found that the incidence rate of anaphylaxis increased significantly from 1990 to 2000, echoing results reported in studies conducted in the U.K. and Australia.
One third of the anaphylaxis cases Dr. Decker and his team identified was caused by a food allergy reaction. These findings give added urgency to the need for improved treatment and education to help people with food allergies avoid this life-threatening condition.
"We don't think the incidence of anaphylaxis has doubled, but through the Rochester Epidemiology Project we were able to much more meticulously identify cases which in other studies might not have been identified," Dr. Decker said. "So this study gives us a more accurate picture of the magnitude of the problem. Still, we did see about a 10% increase in cases of anaphylaxis over the 10-year period of the study."
All cases of anaphylaxis between 1990 and 2000 in Olmsted County, Minn. were identified by Dr. Decker and his team. The researchers also gathered information on age, gender, race, cause of anaphylaxis, presence of other allergic diseases, and symptoms. Children ages 0 to 19 are at the highest risk for anaphylaxis.
The previous estimate of 30,000 emergency room visits per year as a result of food allergies was based on a 1999 study titled, "Epidemiology of anaphylaxis in Olmsted County," by Michael W. Yocum, M.D., and his colleagues. Mr. Yocum's and Mr. Decker's studies used the same definition of anaphylaxis and data from the same source. Based on the new study, it's estimated that food allergies cause 50,000 emergency room visits per year, with overall anaphylaxis cases approaching 150,000 annually.
"Research findings continue to indicate that severe food allergy reactions are a major public health concern. This study shows anaphylaxis affects significantly more people, many of whom are children, than previously reported," said Anne Munoz-Furlong, founder and chief executive officer of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. "There is no treatment or cure for food allergies. Avoidance is the only way to prevent a reaction. As reactions continue to increase, we need to continue refining guidelines and protocols to improve diagnosis and treatment for the more than 12 million Americans who have food allergies."

Unpasteurized milk poses health risks without benefits
Public release date: 16-Dec-2008
Source of Article:
With disease outbreaks linked to unpasteurized milk rising in the United States, a review published in the January 1, 2009 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases examines the dangers of drinking raw milk.
Milk and dairy products are cornerstones of a healthy diet. However, if those products are consumed unpasteurized, they can present a serious health hazard because of possible contamination with pathogenic bacteria. An average of 5.2 outbreaks per year linked to raw milk have occurred in the United States between 1993 and 2006?more than double the rate in the previous 19 years, according to co-authors Jeffrey T. LeJeune and Paivi J. Rajala-Schultz of the College of Veterinary Medicine in Columbus, Ohio.
Contamination can occur at the time of collection, processing, distribution, or storage of milk, the authors write. Many pathogens can be found in the dairy farm environment, which can contaminate the teat skin of dairy cows and consequently the milk at the time when cows are milked. For example, Salmonella and E. coli have been reported in pooled milk collected from farms., Outbreaks of salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, and E. coli related to raw milk consumption have been reported since 2005.
Although the sale of raw milk was illegal in 26 states as of 2006, the authors note that those who are opposed to pasteurization have found ways to circumvent the law and obtain raw milk. For example, participants in "cow-share" programs pay for the upkeep of the cow and receive raw milk in exchange, rather than buying raw milk outright.
Raw milk advocates claim that unpasteurized milk cures or prevents disease, but no scientific evidence supports this notion. Testing raw milk, which has been suggested as an alternative to pasteurization, cannot ensure a product that is 100 percent safe and free of pathogens. Pasteurization remains the best way to reduce the unavoidable risk of contamination, according to the authors.

E. coli Lawsuits Filed Against R & S Meats
Source of Article:
Two separate lawsuits were filed against R & S Meats, Inc. in New York State today: one in Brooklyn, at the U. S. District Court, Eastern District, and the second in Riverhead, at the New York State Supreme Court. The lawsuits were filed on behalf of children infected with E. coli O157:H7 after consuming meat from the Huntington, NY business. The families are represented by Marler Clark, a Seattle food borne illness law firm, and by Paul Nunes of the Rochester, New York firm Underberg & Kessler.
In July 2008, the Dalbo family traveled from North Carolina and attended a July 3 event at the Bay Club in Huntington, NY. Event organizers had purchased hamburger patties from R & S Meats, which were later consumed by the Dablo¡¯s young daughter. The child began to feel ill on July 6. The family returned home to North Carolina, and on July 8, the child was rushed to the hospital with fever, cramps, and frequent, violent bouts of bloody diarrhea. A stool culture revealed that she was infected with E. coli O157:H7.
The child¡¯s health continued to deteriorate. She developed HUS (Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome), total kidney failure, hemolytic anemia, and thrombocytophenia (a dangerously low blood platelet level). She received multiple blood transfusions and had to be fed through a tube. As the illness developed, she was moved to Duke University Medical Center for dialysis. She was discharged from the hospital after more than a month, but continued to struggle with the illness. It took months for her body to regain its natural functions. She has sustained permanent damage from the infection, and will require many years of follow-up care.
¡°What this child?and family?went through is almost indescribable,¡± said attorney William Marler. ¡°Even under high-level medical care, E. coli ravages the body, especially in children. There are interventions that help deal with the cascading illnesses, but there is no pill or treatment to make it better. The only real cure is to rid our food supply of this highly toxic pathogen.¡± The Purcell family of Huntington, NY also attended the July 3 barbecue at the Bay Club. One of their children consumed hamburgers at the function, and fell ill several days later with gastric distress, abdominal cramps, and bloody diarrhea. After being collected from summer camp, she was admitted to the hospital and found to be infected with E. coli O157:H7. She was treated for several days, and continues to recover from her illness.
Posted on December 15, 2008 by E. coli Attorney

Oxoid IDEIA Kit Allows Rapid Diagnosis of Norovirus
source from
As the ¡®winter vomiting disease¢¥ season begins, IDEIA Norovirus helps laboratories to quickly identify outbreaks.
Oxoid can offer a convenient enzyme immunoassay for the rapid and reliable detection of norovirus, the virus responsible for ¡®winter vomiting disease¢¥. IDEIA¢â Norovirus provides sensitive and specific results in less than 2 hours, allowing outbreaks to be identified quickly and enabling appropriate measures to contain the outbreak to be initiated at the earliest opportunity.
Already, there have been several outbreaks of norovirus this winter, in the UK and abroad, affecting hospitals in Norfolk and Somerset1,2 where wards have been closed to visitors and new admissions in an attempt to halt the spread of infection Norovirus has also been found on a cruise ship on the Rhine3 resulting in the hospitalization of elderly holidaymakers.
Norovirus is extremely infectious and can spread rapidly throughout an institution. It is particularly common in semi-closed environments, such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools and cruise ships, where there is a high concentration of people who are susceptible to infection, namely children, the elderly and those with underlying disease. Timely identification of the etiological agent, combined with appropriate infection control procedures, can help to reduce the impact of norovirus outbreaks4.
IDEIA Norovirus is quick and easy to perform, detecting norovirus directly in stool samples in less than two hours, and is suitable for manual or automated testing. Such rapid and reliable results are of enormous value to those involved in the investigation and prevention of norovirus outbreaks, including microbiology laboratories, infection control teams, surveillance teams and cruise ship operators.
| IDEIA Norovirus is one of a range of IDEIA kits for the detection of the four leading causes of viral gastroenteritis: norovirus, rotavirus, astrovirus and adenovirus. Each kit follows a similar protocol and can be performed individually or in a panel, using a single sample dilution.
For further information about the IDEIA Viral Gastroenteritis Panel (IDEIA Norovirus, IDEIA Rotavirus, IDEIA Astrovirus (Amplified) or IDEIA Adenovirus), please speak to your local Oxoid representative or contact Oxoid using the contact details at the top of this page.

Rules to be bent on allergen labelling
Source of Article:
Published: 15th December 2008
Written by: Nigel Huddleston
Southern hemisphere wine producers are to be given extra time to comply with new EU rules on allergen labelling.
New rules are due to come into force in May which could have led producers harvesting grapes and bottling wine in the first half of 2009 facing conflicting labelling requirements for the same batch of wine.
It could have cost producers thousands of pounds to change labels part of the way through a production run.
But LACORS ? the co-ordinating body for local authorities ? has agreed that food law enforcement officers should take a pragmatic approach and given southern hemisphere producers some latitude over compliance, after lobbying by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association.
WSTA chief executive Jeremy Beadles said: ¡°We¡¯re pleased the regulators are adopting a flexible approach.
¡°What may seem like a small step to some actually has huge implications for southern hemisphere wine producers.
¡°They shouldn¡¯t have to pay a penalty because their production timetable happens to coincide with the current enforcement date for allergen labelling.¡±

New rapid test for diarrhoea-causing bug
Identifying individual species of Cryptosporidium

Source of Article:
by Wendy Laursen
THE TIME TAKEN to identify the diarrhoea-causing microorganism Cryptosporidium in water samples has been reduced from 15 hours to three, and the new technique enables the most harmful species to be identified so that sources of contamination can be more readily identified.
The technology is based on the detection of the Cryptosporidium species usually found in human faeces using fluorescent probes that target specific sequences of nucleic acid. Existing immuno-chromatographic and immuno-fluorescence-based assays do not provide species or genotype-specific information and polymerase chain reaction techniques involve expensive equipment and reagents.
¡°The probes can distinguish C. parvum and C. hominis which are responsible for most of the outbreaks that are harmful to humans,¡± says Anitha Alagappan, test developer and a PhD candidate at Australia¡¯s Environmental biotechnology Cooperative Research Centre.
¡°Species data is important to understand the risk of infection to exposed people. There are many different species of Cryptosporidium, some of which are infectious to humans and some which aren¡¯t. Many current testing methods only detect the presence or absence of Cryptosporidium, but not the species of concern.¡±
The new rapid screening tool uses fluorescent in situ hybridisation technology. The reliability of the new technology was tested against one of the standard methods applied in the water industry in collaboration with the Cryptosporidium Reference Laboratory in the UK. A strong correlation (0.994) between the two methods confirmed that the species identification method was as reliable as currently-used methods.
¡°The test has been validated now and could be used by water utilities worldwide as it fits into current testing methods quite easily,¡± says Belinda Ferrari team leader from the University of New South Wales.
The diarrhoeal illness, cryptosporidiosis, can be life threatening in immuno-compromised people and currently there is no effective treatment. Public swimming pools and drinking water have been sources of the disease in the UK and the US.

HACCP software enables complete cycle control, says NWA
By Jane Byrne, 12-Dec-2008
Source of Article:
A new software programme manages the complete Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) operational cycle to provide a powerful food safety and quality control system, claims its US developer.
Northwest Analytical (NWA) said that its new eHACCP programme, which is now being released onto the European market, expands on its established NWA Quality Information System (QIS) by encompassing compliant data collation, secure electronic signatures as well as management and reporting capabilities.

Quality control
HACCP is a food safety management system designed to ensure the safe production and packaging of food. The HACCP process provides a systematic and effective method to analyze a process, and identifies potential biological, chemical and physical hazards that can occur in food. In addition, HACCP requires the development of strategies to prevent the inclusion or reduction of these hazards to an acceptable level in the food.

Cycle management
Jeffery Cawley, vice president of marketing development at NWA, said that while there are categories of manufacturing information management systems that supply part of the functionality required, until now there has not been a commercial product that manages the complete HACCP operational cycle. He told that the eHACCP system also includes consultation on the process of converting from a paper-based to a paperless system, with, he claims, 90 per cent of food processing facilities still running paper-based HACCP operational programmes.

Food industry partnership
The development of the eHACCP was informed by collaboration with leading food manufacturers, continued Cawley.
¡°Food processors have been using various NWA Quality components for the past several years for quality control and compliance. This includes the application of the NWA Quality Monitor for controlling workflow and collecting data for both food quality and food safety parameters. ¡°With recent expansions to the underlying NWA QIS, it became reasonable to meet HACCP requirements with a few extensions. We were able to identify these as a result of our long term food industry customer relationships and professional involvement with the food industry,¡± he explained.

Enhanced reporting
According to Cawley, the new software package improves HACCP compliance and reporting through the elimination of transcription errors, better data handling and retrieval as well as alerts based on statistical process control (SPC) trends to indicate process deterioration. Extended reporting templates to meet HACCP based requirements are also included, he added.
¡°With no manual data handling, analysis and reporting, our quality information system (QIS) customers typically report being able to reallocate one to two professionals to more productive process management and improvement operations, as a result of installing the eHACCP system,¡± said Cawley.
NWA said that it teamed up with leading food safety expert, Dr John Surak, to develop a conversion plan that includes the training, validation and verification steps need to properly implement the system:
¡°These steps are critical to assure regulatory agencies, customers and third party auditors that eHACCP is an effective food safety system.¡±

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