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4/24
2009
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Clostridium difficile in Food ? The Next Thing to Worry About May Already Be Here
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
Over the last several years we have seen multiple instances where Clostridium difficile and foodborne illness have been related. However, the Clostridium difficile infection has generally been associated with the foodborne illness after treatment for the infection by antibiotics, not as a result of actual ingestion of the Clostridium difficile bacteria. However, in the recent Salmonella Typhimurium Peanut Butter outbreak, we have two cases where children seem to be co-infected with both Clostridium difficile and Salmonella Typhimurium. Which begs the question ? Is Clostridium difficile foodborne?
A little background first - Wikipedia reports that Clostridium difficile is a species of Gram-positive bacteria of the genus Clostridium. Clostridia are anaerobic, spore-forming rods (bacillus). C. difficile is the most serious cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) and can lead to pseudomembranous colitis, a severe infection of the colon, often resulting from eradication of the normal gut flora by antibiotics. The C. difficile bacteria, which naturally reside in the body, become overgrown: The overgrowth is harmful because the bacterium releases toxins that can cause bloating, constipation, and diarrhea with abdominal pain, which may become severe.
The CDC reports that mortality rates from Clostridium difficile disease in the United States increased from 5.7 per million population in 1999 to 23.7 per million in 2004. Increased rates may be due to emergence of a highly virulent strain of C. difficile.

Here are a few articles that I have found or have been sent on the topic. Clearly more research needs to be done.
Possible Seasonality of Clostridium difficile in Retail Meat, Canada
Rodriguez-Palacios A, Reid-Smith RJ, Staempfli HR, Diagnault D, Janecko N, Avery BP et al. Possible seasonality of Clostridium difficle in retail meat, Canada. Emerg Infect Dis. 2009 May
We previously reported Clostridium difficile in 20% of retail meat in Canada, which raised concerns about potential foodborne transmissibility. Here, we studied the genetic diversity of C. difficile in retail meats, using a broad Canadian sampling infrastructure and 3 culture methods. We found 6.1% prevalence and indications of possible seasonality (highest prevalence in winter).
Clostridium difficile in Retail Meat Products, USA, 2007
Songer JG, Trinh HT, Killgore GE, Thompson AD, McDonald LC, Limbago BM. Clostridium difficile in retail meat products, USA, 2007. Emerg Infect Dis. 2009 May

To determine the presence of Clostridium difficile, we sampled cooked and uncooked meat products sold in Tucson, Arizona. Forty-two percent contained toxigenic C. difficile strains (either ribotype 078/toxinotype V [73%] or 027/toxinotype III [NAP1 or NAP1-related; 27%]). These findings indicate that food products may play a role in interspecies C. difficile transmission.
Clostridium difficile in Ready-to-Eat Salads, Scotland
Bakri MM, Brown DJ, Butcher JP, Sutherland AD. Clostridium difficile in ready-to-eat salads, Scotland. Emerg Infect Dis. 2009 May
Of 40 ready-to-eat salads, 3 (7.5%) were positive for Clostridium difficile by PCR. Two isolates were PCR ribotype 017 (toxin A?, B+), and 1 was PCR ribotype 001. Isolates were susceptible to vancomycin and metronidazole but variably resistant to other antimicrobial drugs. Ready-to-eat salads may be potential sources for virulent C. difficile.

Tracing Of Foodborne Illnesses Falls Under A Patchwork Of Poorly-run, Under-resourced State Labs

Source of Article: http://www.perishablepundit.com/
We¡¯ve been writing about it for years, but finally The New York Times has picked up on the food safety problem caused by incompetent and under-resourced state labs. Gardiner Harris wrote a piece titled, Ill From Food? Investigations Vary By State:
In just about every major contaminated food scare, Minnesotans become sick by the dozens while few people in Kentucky and other states are counted among the ill.
Contaminated peanuts? Forty-two Minnesotans were reported sick compared with three Kentuckians. Jalapeno peppers last year? Thirty-one in Minnesota and two in Kentucky became ill. The different numbers arise because health officials in Kentucky and many other states fail to investigate many complaints of food-related sickness while those in Minnesota do so diligently, safeguarding not only Minnesotans but much of the rest of the country, as well.
In fact what state one is in can make a big difference in the way an individual experiences the government reaction to a foodborne illness:
Take the case of Lauren Threlkeld, who went to a Kroger grocery store in Lexington, Ky., in August 2007 and bought a bag of Dole baby spinach contaminated with E. coli O157. She became violently ill with bloody diarrhea and was hospitalized for nearly a week.
When Ms. Threlkeld finally went home to recuperate in Madisonville, Ky., a county health worker called only to verify that she had fallen ill in another county. No one asked about the foods she had eaten or what might have made her so ill, she said. Later efforts by her lawyer pinpointed the source of her illness ? far too late to help others avoid similar fates.
Dr. William D. Hacker, the public health commissioner in Kentucky, blamed tight budgets. ¡°We have had a historically poor record of reporting¡± food-borne illnesses, Dr. Hacker said. ¡°We are working hard to change our culture even with limited resources.¡±
In Minnesota and a few other states, victims of food-related illnesses tell very different stories. Sarah Kirchner of Belle Plaine, Minn., said health workers called her three separate times and spent hours discussing her children¡¯s diet almost immediately after a laboratory test verified that one had fallen ill with salmonella. Officials in Minnesota traced the outbreak to peanut butter in part because of Ms. Kirchner¡¯s responses.

Many states are very limited in terms of laboratory capacity:
In Utah, for instance, only 18 of the state¡¯s 1,388 medical laboratories process stool tests, said Dr. Pat Luedtke, director of the Utah public health laboratory.
There also are other barriers to gathering the needed information:
Well-meaning doctors who wish to send stool samples sometimes must pay the postage because insurers often refuse to pay for a test that largely serves a public health function; many doctors do not bother.

This New York Times reporter caught this key insight:
Congress and the Obama administration have said that more inspections and new food production rules are needed to prevent food-related diseases, but far less attention has been paid to fixing the fractured system by which officials detect and stop ongoing outbreaks. Right now, uncovering which foods have been contaminated is left to a patchwork of more than 3,000 federal, state and local health departments that are, for the most part, poorly financed, poorly trained and disconnected, officials said. The truth is that hiring inspectors to stand around plants in the hope they will see invisible pathogens is an enormous waste of money. In contrast, bringing every state lab and public health service up to the level of Minnesota would be a wise and transformational investment in food safety.

New Florez bill may let state order food recalls
Source of Article: http://thecalifornian.com/article/20090422/NEWS01/904220308/1002
BY JAKE HENSHAW ? The Salinas Californian Capitol Bureau ? April 22, 2009 SACRAMENTO - For the first time, California health officials could order a recall of contaminated food under the terms of a bill that passed its first legislative review Monday.
The recall authority is part of Senate Bill 173, which also would give growers and food processors incentives to adopt a food safety plan and test their products routinely.
Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, the bill's author, also introduced SB 416 to end the regular use of antibiotics in animals sold for human consumption.
"We shouldn't be putting antibiotics in food and water when animals aren't sick," Florez said.
Both bills passed the Senate Food and Agriculture Committee, which he chairs. SB 416 next goes to the Senate Education Committee and SB 173 goes to the Senate Rules Committee.
Both measures prompted questions and criticism from agricultural groups and one committee member.
By 2012, SB 416 would prohibit schools from serving food treated with drugs not needed to deal with an illness. Three years later, such drug use would be banned in all food for human consumption.
Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, questioned whether animals should be routinely medicated before they reached a feedlot, but once there, he said, they are more likely to encounter diseases.
"Once an animal hits a feedlot, they should take some medication to keep them from getting ill," Maldonado said. He suggested that drug treatments might be stopped some time period before animals are slaughtered.
A veterinarian and farm representatives said that animal medications are part of a federally devised system and are necessary to ensure the safety of food products.
"By having healthy animals, we have a healthy food supply," said Michael Boccadaro, a lobbyist for poultry firms. Since the 2006 E. coli outbreak in spinach, which killed three people and sickened 200 nationwide, Florez has tried unsuccessfully to expand the authority of state public health officials to oversee food safety.
Instead, the leafy green industry developed a voluntary food safety program that is mandatory for participants and overseen by the state Department of Food and Agriculture.

Right now, state health officials can embargo contaminated produce, which blocks further distribution of products.
In addition to giving the Department of Public Health the power to order recalls, Florez's SB 173 also would require growers or food processors notified of positive tests for food-borne illness in their product to inform DPH within an hour.
Growers or processors found liable for food-borne illness outbreaks would face triple-damage payments to victims, on-site inspections by state health officials at least eight times a month for at least a year at the grower's expense and a suspended operation for up to six months.
But growers and processors with a food safety plan and a routine testing system would be exempt from the triple damage payments, inspections and suspension.

"We're going to try to put a huge penalty in there," Florez said, for agricultural operators who don't plan and test for food safety.
Agricultural lobbyists demurred from taking a position on SB 173 because the version of the bill considered Tuesday had only been amended the day before and they didn't have time to review it.
Right now, state health officials can embargo contaminated produce, which blocks further distribution of products.
In addition to giving the Department of Public Health the power to order recalls, Florez's SB 173 also would require growers or food processors notified of positive tests for food-borne illness in their product to inform DPH within an hour.
Growers or processors found liable for food-borne illness outbreaks would face triple-damage payments to victims, on-site inspections by state health officials at least eight times a month for at least a year at the grower's expense and a suspended operation for up to six months.
But growers and processors with a food safety plan and a routine testing system would be exempt from the triple damage payments, inspections and suspension.
"We're going to try to put a huge penalty in there," Florez said, for agricultural operators who don't plan and test for food safety.
Agricultural lobbyists demurred from taking a position on SB 173 because the version of the bill considered Tuesday had only been amended the day before and they didn't have time to review it.

More Confusion Pours From Press Reports Of Pistachio Recall
Source of Article: http://www.perishablepundit.com/#3
One of the things that makes following the FDA pronouncements on foodborne pathogens so infuriating is that FDA¡¯s officials tend to say things without clarifying their meaning or significance.
Reporters then report what they are told, and it leaves a kind of innuendo without actually saying anything.
So Jane Zhang over at The Wall Street Journal wrote a short piece titled Officials Find Salmonella at California Pistachio Plant:
Federal health officials now have proof that the California plant at the center of a nationwide pistachio recall was contaminated with salmonella, but they are still trying to figure out if the contaminated nuts caused any outbreaks of human illnesses.
David Acheson, the Food and Drug Administration¡¯s associate commissioner for foods, said the agency found the Salmonella Montevideo strain in three samples taken from equipment at the plant of Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc., based in Terra Bella, Calif. The strain matches the bacteria that Kraft Foods Inc. had found in products supplied to the company by Setton. Kraft reported its findings to the FDA last month¡¦.

It is such a short piece yet it is also a kind of puzzle:
First, it says that ¡°¡¦officials now have proof that the California plant at the center of a nationwide pistachio recall was contaminated with salmonella¡¦¡± Ok, fine but, what, precisely does this prove? Do other pistachio plants not have salmonella? Because this product will go through a kill step, the FDA didn¡¯t even go back to the farms to trace back the salmonella.
FDA simply doesn¡¯t care about this detail. It expects salmonella on the raw product and expects the roasting to kill it. So, very likely, all pistachio plants that handle raw product will have some salmonella.
Second, the piece explains that ¡°David Acheson, the Food and Drug Administration¡¯s associate commissioner for foods, said the agency found the Salmonella Montevideo strain in three samples taken from equipment at the plant of Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc¡¦¡± Yet this just adds to the confusion. So they found one of the four strains that had been identified. Put another way, they have not found three of the four strains that had been initially found.
Besides, finding the ¡±strain Montevideo¡± means almost nothing. If they find the ¡°Saintpaul¡± strain, that doesn¡¯t mean it is connected to last summer¡¯s outbreak.

Third, the article states, ¡°The strain matches the bacteria that Kraft Foods Inc. had found in products supplied to the company by Setton.¡± This is very vague. Is the FDA saying that there is a PFGE match? Or just that the strains are the same? And if there is a PFGE match, what does that mean the likelihood is of the findings being related? Besides, as we mentioned here, Kraft told us that it didn¡¯t do the initial testing ? that was done by Georgia Nut Company. So does it match the test results found at Kraft or at Georgia Nut Company and, when were these tests done?
Sebastian Cianci, FDA spokesperson, has done yeoman¡¯s work in trying to help us clarify these matters. Here is what we have learned:

Q. By matching the strain, does that mean it is a PFGE match, or is it just the same variety of salmonella?
A. It was a PFGE match with two different enzyme cuts (XbaI and BlnI). It means they are identical.

Q. Could you further clarify the timeline of when, where and on what products the four salmonella strains were discovered? Were all four salmonella strains found during the Georgia Nut Company testing of Setton Pistachio¡¯s product in March, or were these four strains discovered during different testing periods?
A. BTN Cashew Almond Pistachio Blend was the product tested positive for Salmonella Montevideo in March by a private lab. The private lab¡¯s isolate was confirmed and PFGE patterned by FDA lab. Among environmental swab samples taken from Setton Farm by FDA investigator during the inspection in March, three were positive for Salmonella Montevideo upon FDA lab analysis

Q: Did the sample that tested positive for Salmonella Montevideo come from Kraft's testing or did it come from the Georgia Nut company's testing?
A: Georgia Nut Company had it tested.

[Editor¡¯s note. FDA in its one official media briefing on the recall said Kraft did the testing, and there was no mention of Georgia Nut Company¡¯s involvement. However, Kraft, in an interview that ran in the Pundit on April 3, said Georgia Nut Company discovered the positive, and subsequently informed Kraft, which then alerted the FDA of the problem].

The significance of a genetic match is still a little unclear. Bob Wickert, a molecular microbiologist at the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory, gave a presentation on Pulse Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) and spoke of microbial subtyping this way:

¡¤A match does NOT mean the cases are DEFINITELY related
¡¤A non-match does not mean that the cases are definitely NOT related.
¡¤A match means the cases are MORE LIKELY to have a common source than if they didn¡¯t match
¡¤A non-match means the cases are LESS LIKELY to have a common source than if they did match
That provides some general clarification but not really enough specific information to let us know how much weight to put on this match.
We continue to think that there is little, if any, evidence that the Setton Pistachio plant was worse than the numerous other plants still processing. We find the interview we did with a prominent retailer very telling:
Setton is a good company run by good folks. FDA¡¯s behavior is a travesty. It¡¯s the most offensive investigation. Serious errors are being made. We need to go after this. FDA can¡¯t be allowed to operate this way, destroying good companies, taking down entire industries.
And if the Setton plant was turning out product as good as other plants, what is being accomplished by this massive recall?

Report calls for local, state, federal food safety integration
Source of Article: http://members.ift.org/IFT/Pubs/Newsletters/weekly/nl_042209.htm
A new report produced by the Dept. of Health Policy at George Wshington Univ. School of Public Health and Health Services in partnership the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO), the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), underscores the need to repair gaps in state and local food safety programs and integrate them better with federal food safety efforts. The report?Stronger Partnerships for Safer Food: An Agenda for Strengthening State and Local Roles in the Nation¡¯s Food Safety System?calls for leadership by Congress and the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services to build an integrated national food safety system that makes effective use of the best science and all available public resources to prevent foodborne illness.

Although food products are regulated on the federal level by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, local and state health departments have long been the backbone of the nation¡¯s food safety system, with primary responsibility for illness surveillance, response to outbreaks, and regulation of food safety in restaurants, grocery stores, and many food processing plants across America. At the local level alone, the report points out, there are approximately 3,000 public health agencies involved in food safety. State-level departments of health and agriculture, as well as public health laboratories in most states, add to the complexity and fragmentation of the system, as does the important role of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which interacts with agencies at all levels.

¡°The report highlights how local health departments protect people every day by helping to keep their food supply safe, whether they purchase food in a restaurant or store,¡± said Robert Pestronk, Executive Director of NACCHO. ¡°At the same time, the report reinforces the need for an effective partnership among, and a greater allocation of resources to, federal, state, and local government agencies. Staff capacities are eroding at an alarming rate due to the economic downturn and the graying of the workforce.¡±

In addition to outlining the current roles of federal, state, and local agencies in protecting Americans against foodborne illness, the report makes 27 detailed findings on the strengths and weaknesses in the current food safety system. For example, the authors note progress in how federal, state, and local agencies collaborate to detect foodborne outbreaks but also find that state and local agencies are hampered in their response to and prevention of outbreaks by lack of focused federal leadership to build an integrated system, chronic underfunding, wide disparities in capacity, and diversity of practices in all areas of food safety, and barriers to information sharing and collaboration. The report makes 19 specific recommendations for strengthening state and local roles and building an integrated national food safety system that works effectively to prevent foodborne illness.

Supervalu executive proposes food safety changes

Source of Article: http://www.meatnews.com/
(MEATPOULTRY.com, April 03, 2009)
by MEAT&POULTRY Staff

WASHINGTON ? Noting the complexity of modern food production practices, Dr. John H. Hanlin, vice-president of food safety for Supervalu Inc., Minneapolis, called for the realignment and modernization of the U.S. food safety system. Specifically, Mr. Hanlin said part of the program should be modeled after the U.S. Department of Agriculture¡¯s risk-based surveillance and enforcement program and focus on other agricultural commodities besides meat, poultry and eggs.
"In other words, expand U.S.D.A.¡¯s risk-based inspection system to include commodities that today receive minimal inspection due to budget challenges at the F.D.A.," he said in testimony at a hearing before the House of Representative¡¯s Agriculture committee.
He added that such a change would push food safety farther upstream in the supply chain and reduce overall public exposure to pathogens.
"What we propose ¡¦ is to focus U.S.D.A. risk-based efforts against improving the safety of all food commodities, particularly those commodities that are consumed in the raw state or those that are cooked or pasteurized and eaten without a further microbial inactivation step, e.g. peanuts, almonds, cooked chicken," he said.
Mr. Hanlin said he believed the proposed model would work if the nation created a single food agency or maintained dual jurisdictional responsibilities within the U.S.D.A. and the F.D.A.
"In a dual role we would envision F.D.A. providing the food safety leadership further down the supply chain, e.g. the manufacture of frozen pizza, entrees, canned soup, broths, sauces, snacks, seasonings, etc."
He said the proposed model would enable the agency (U.S.D.A.) to deploy resources against the greatest food safety risks.
"Imagine for a moment being able to redeploy the FTE resource currently inspecting a facility making a frozen, fully cooked, cheeseburger sandwich ¡¦ and re-training the inspector to inspect a peanut facility or a spinach farm just prior to the harvest," he said.
In closing, Mr. Hanlin said government and industry understand where the food safety risks are.
"We must look beyond the meat and poultry divide and focus on food safety systems across all categories of commodities using a risk-based approach," he said. "There is nothing more important than safe food to those of us in the food business and all of us as consumers."

Health Department Warns Of Exposure to Hepatitis A
Source of Article: http://www.thedenverchannel.com/health/19224186/detail.html
Vaccination Urged For Customers Of Littleton Albertsons Store
POSTED: 5:23 pm MDT April 19, 2009
UPDATED: 10:34 am MDT April 20, 2009
Thousands of Coloradans are potentially exposed to Hepatitis A.
The Tri-County Health Department said a produce handler from the Albertsons grocery store at 3615 West Bowles Avenue in Littleton has tested positive for Hepatitis A.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection transmitted by feces. It is spread when a person does not properly wash his/her hands after using the restroom, then touches food that is eaten by someone else.
Anyone who ate the food handled by this employee could be infected. No other Albertsons store locations are affected.
The potentially contaminated foods are limited to:
¡¤ green onions
¡¤ celery that has the leaves cut off
¡¤ lettuce that is not pre-bagged
¡¤ watermelon, cantaloupe or honeydew melon that has been cut into half or quarters
¡¤ cut watermelon which was inside plastic containers
According to store records, about 3,000 of these items were sold.
Tri-County Health said the employee did wear gloves and washed his or her hands most of the time, but there is still concern for public safety.
"In our review, we found a few situations where things were not exactly correct and they could not recite the exact approach and we wanted to error on the side of protection," said Dr. Richard Vogt, executive director of Tri-County Health.
Anyone who ate any of these listed fruits or vegetables is urged to get a vaccination for free from the Tri-County Health Department. The shots will be given at the Columbine United Church, 6375 South Platte Canyon Road, Monday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Vogt said if you believe you have eaten any of these fruits or vegetables do not wait for symptoms of Hepatitis A before seeing a doctor as there are no medications for the virus, which has flu-like symptoms.
If you contract the virus you will have to let it run its course, which could be two to six weeks according to Vogt.
"Hepatitis A is not a disease you want to have," said Vogt. "It is annoying and can make you feel fairly ill."
The vaccination, however, will prevent the illness.

Report calls for local, state, federal food safety integration
Source of Article: http://www.ift.org/news_bin/news/news_home.shtml

4/21/2009-A new report produced by Dept. of Health Policy at The George Washington Univ. School of Public Health and Health Services in partnership the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO), the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), underscores the need to repair gaps in state and local food safety programs and integrate them better with federal food safety efforts. The report?Stronger Partnerships for Safer Food: An Agenda for Strengthening State and Local Roles in the Nation¡¯s Food Safety System?calls for leadership by Congress and the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) to build an integrated national food safety system that makes effective use of the best science and all available public resources to prevent foodborne illness.

Although food products are regulated on the federal level by the FDA and the USDA, local and state health departments have long been the backbone of the nation¡¯s food safety system, with primary responsibility for illness surveillance, response to outbreaks and regulation of food safety in restaurants, grocery stores and many food processing plants across America. At the local level alone, the report points out, there are approximately 3,000 public health agencies involved in food safety. State-level departments of health and agriculture, as well as public health laboratories in most states, add to the complexity and fragmentation of the system, as does the important role of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which interacts with agencies at all levels.

¡°The report highlights how local health departments protect people every day by helping to keep their food supply safe, whether they purchase food in a restaurant or store,¡± said Robert M. Pestronk, Executive Director of NACCHO. ¡°At the same time, the report reinforces the need for an effective partnership among, and a greater allocation of resources to, federal, state and local government agencies. Staff capacities are eroding at an alarming rate due to the economic downturn and the graying of the workforce.¡±

In addition to outlining the current roles of federal, state, and local agencies in protecting Americans against foodborne illness, the report makes 27 detailed findings on the strengths and weaknesses in the current food safety system. For example, the authors note progress in how federal, state, and local agencies collaborate to detect foodborne outbreaks but also find that state and local agencies are hampered in their response to and prevention of outbreaks by lack of focused federal leadership to build an integrated system, chronic underfunding, wide disparities in capacity, and diversity of practices in all areas of food safety, and barriers to information sharing and collaboration. The report makes 19 specific recommendations for strengthening state and local roles and building an integrated national food safety system that works effectively to prevent foodborne illness.

Marler Clark Files Peanut Butter Salmonella Lawsuit for Family of MN Man - Korean War Vet Felled by Contaminated Peanut Butter
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
Clifford Tousignant, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and decorated veteran of the Korean War, died in January, 2009, after eating Salmonella-contaminated peanut butter served in the nursing home where he lived in Brainard, MN. His family is filing suit against Kanan Enterprises, the makers of King Nut peanut butter. The complaint was filed Monday in US District Court, District of Minnesota.

¡°The tragedy of a lost family member is the worst and clearest example of why we need to reform our food safety system,¡± said Bill Marler, the family¡¯s attorney. ¡°This family lost precious years with their patriarch, because tainted food was shipped to our most vulnerable populations: the elderly, the sick, and children.¡±

King Nut peanut butter was distributed in 5-pound containers to nursing homes, schools, and hospitals. King Nut used peanut products manufactured by Peanut Corporation of America, whose Salmonella-contaminated products sickened almost seven hundred people and caused the deaths of nine, including Mr. Tousignant. Containers of King Nut tested positive for the strain of Salmonella associated with the nationwide outbreak.

Clifford Tousignant (video link) fell ill in late December 2008, after eating King Nut peanut butter served at the Woodland Good Samaritan Village nursing home. He had profuse diarrhea, which caused him to be hospitalized on New Year¡¯s Eve. He remained in the hospital until January 4, 2009, and while there, tested positive for Salmonella. He returned to the nursing home, but continued to suffer diarrhea and had difficulty eating. He was rushed back to the hospital on January 11, but passed away on January 12 from sepsis following his Salmonella infection.

Marler Clark represents more than eighty victims of the Peanut Corporation of America Salmonella outbreak. The firm also represented the majority of victims of the ConAgra (Peter Pan/Great Value) peanut butter outbreak of 2006-2007.
Posted on April 20, 2009 by Salmonella Lawyer

Food safety resources vary by state
Source of Article: http://www.upi.com/
Published: April 20, 2009 at 11:44 PM
WASHINGTON, April 20 (UPI) -- The wide variation among states' handling of suspected food-related illnesses prevents a coordinated response to food emergencies, officials said.
Congress and the Obama administration have already said more inspections and new food production rules are needed to prevent food-related diseases, but officials say that will only go so far in preventing disease, The New York Times reported Monday.
"The longer it takes you to nail an outbreak, the more people are going to get sick," Dr. David Acheson, associate commissioner for foods at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said. "And if it's a pathogen that causes death, the more people are going to die."
State officials say they are prevented by budget constraints from aggressively investigating cases of food-borne illnesses.
"Just $50 million spread over the entire country would make a huge difference," Dr. Timothy Jones, the state epidemiologist in Tennessee, said.

"Purac Act" cuts toxins in french fries and heat-processed foods
Source of Article: http://www.freshplaza.com/news_detail.asp?id=42163
Since 2002, when it was first discovered that acrylamide is found in several processed and fried foods, food safety organizations throughout the world have been studying methods to reduce its presence in those foods. Acrylamide, when heated, produces carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and oxides of nitrogen.* Acrylamide has several positive applications industrially, but it is a food toxin.
Of course, potato chips and french fries are at the top of the acrylamide list; they're always at the top of unhealthy food lists, aren't they? You know the rich ¡¯brown¡¯ color they get when they're texture gets crisp? That's acrylamide. And when you brown your toast? That's acrylamide.
Acrylamide results from a heat-induced reaction between a sugar (carbohydrate) and asparagine,an amino acid, found in asparagus, potatoes
, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy, and whole grains. Boiling does not seem to induce acrylamide formation, but frying, baking, and broiling do initiate the process.
Purac, a Netherlands-based global corporation, which makes lactic acid
and lactic acid derivatives, gluconates and lactides and lactic-acid based biomaterials, used in commercial food preparation, pharmacology and other industries, has developed a high calcium product called Puracal Act, which is claimed to interfere with the chemical process of acrylamide formation. It also minimizes the brown coloring during frying, but still maintains the firmness and crispy nature of fried and processed foods, like snacks and cereals.
Inge Evers, a senior application technologist at Purac, said: ¡°Puracal Act allows more flexibility in the production process because it does not require extra time or special temperatures to be effective. Typical variations in pH or moisture content in the snack process will not affect the performance of Puracal Act in acrylamide reduction.¡±
Puracal Act sounds very promising for process foods. It's not just french fries and potato chips that have been found to be high in acrylamide. It's found in packaged breakfast cereals, candy bars, certain baby foods, roasted coffee beans.... black olives are super high in acrylamide. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been testing products for the last several years; you can access its acrylamide food lists for the years 2003 to 2006 here.
The World Health Organization (WHO) created an official report on the extent of acrylamide in processed foods in a study of food oxidation as a heat reaction. The report, called HEATOX, can be accessed here. The following are (slightly edited) recommendations from the WHO to each country's food authorities:

* Use low sugar potato varieties
* Maintain suitable storage temperature during the supply chain
* Use low sugar levels in prefabricated potato products for domestic frying
* Frying temperature in the range 145 to 170¡ÆC for deep frying potatoes
* Clear and accurate cooking instructions on the package of pre-fried products
* Clear and accurate instructions for fryers for domestic use
* Fry golden, not brown!
* French fries and roast potatoes cooked to a golden-yellow rather than golden-brown
* Bread toasted to the lightest color acceptable
* Consumption : "Balance the diet as proposed in national dietary recommendations and integrate acrylamide considerations into the ¡°normal¡± dietary recommendations.

Until the food industry has incorporated some of the new toxin-reducers into its processing, it's probably best to stay away from the high acrylamide foods and, again, keep track of them on the food lists at the USDA.

Anti-antibiotics
Reinvigorated food-safety debates have brought back some old issues.
Source of Article: http://www.meatnews.com/news/beyond_stories.asp?ArticleID=101694
(MEATPOULTRY.com, April 17, 2009)
by Steve Bjerklie
As the Salmonella outbreaks traced to contaminated peanuts and now pistachios have re-energized the debate over how food safety should be improved and regulated in the U.S., so has the reinvigorated discussion brought back older issues for new examination.
Last month, the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff digressed from his usual focus on human rights abuses to comment on an apparent increase in the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are showing up "even in our food supply." "Five out of 90 samples of retail pork in Louisiana tested positive for MRSA ? an antibiotic-resistant staph infection ? according to a peer-reviewed study publish in Applied and Environmental Microbiology last year," he wrote. "Yet the central problem here isn¡¯t pigs, it¡¯s humans. Unlike Europe and even South Korea, the United States still bows to agribusiness interested by permitting the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in animal feed. That¡¯s unconscionable."

The Kristoff column coincided with new focus on proposed legislation by Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., and Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., first presented in 2007, that would ban the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock, and follows last year¡¯s report from the Pew Trust condemning overuse of antibiotics in agriculture, particularly for growth-promoting purposes in livestock.
Dave Warner, spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, told MEATPOULTRY.com that the various proposals being made on in Congress to revamp the U.S.¡¯s food-safety regulatory system, in the wake of the peanut and pistachio Salmonella recalls and concerns over imported food contaminated with dangerous chemicals, create an opportunity for bills like the Slaughter-Kennedy proposal to be attached to broader food-safety reform legislation. "We¡¯re a little more wary this time," he said, noting that in the past, legislative proposals to limit agricultural use of antibiotics have stalled or died. "Food-safety legislation is going to happen, there¡¯s almost no question. I think we¡¯ll see strong attempts to attach" the Slaughter-Kennedy proposal to food-safety reform. He added that he expects to see "some action on this" before the August congressional recess, "although there probably won¡¯t be anything ready for the President to sign." Warner also point out that the Child Nutrition Act is set to expire at the end of September this year, and Congress may also see the renewal of this legislation as an opportunity to introduce various food-safety reforms, including the Slaughter-Kennedy legislation.
The argument that widespread use of antibiotics in agriculture contributes to the development of antibiotic-resistant pathogenic bacteria has been circulating among microbiologists and other scientists since the 1970s, and was first popularized in 1984 with the publication of the book "Modern Meat" by Orville Schell, parts of which were serialized in The New Yorker magazine.
Warner said that since then, Americans seem to have become even more casual about antibiotics even while voices protesting non-therapeutic antibiotic use in livestock have grown louder. "Just about every kitchen and bathroom in the country has antibacterial soap in it," he commented to MEATPOULTRY.com. "And we hardly let our kids play outside in the dirt anymore, where they can be exposed naturally to bacteria and thus develop resistance. We¡¯re not allowing kids to build up immunity. Even our buildings are airtight. We¡¯re not allowing ourselves to be exposed to the things that would make us immune from these pathogens." According to Warner, "all the MRSA outbreaks have been in urban areas, and I don¡¯t think that¡¯s a coincidence."
According to NPPC figures, just five percent of antibiotics fed to hogs are given for growth-promotion; the rest are given to the animals for disease prevention and disease-control therapy. In Denmark, where non-therapeutic use of antibiotics was banned for hog production, Warner said there was a "huge increase" in demand for antibiotics for disease because hog disease rates increased substantially after the ban was instituted.
But Kristoff at the Times wrote that it is "an almost universal view in the public health world" that supposed over-use of antibiotics in livestock is robbing the medical profession of one of its most important tools. "The Infectious Diseases Society of America has declared antibiotic resisted a ¡®public health crisis.¡¯"
Rep. Slaughter, who is Congress¡¯s only trained microbiologist, told Kristoff: "We have misused one of the best scientific products we¡¯ve had."

¡°Gross Contamination¡¯ in Cheese Linked to Illinois Food Poisoning

Date Published: Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Source of Article: http://www.newsinferno.com/archives/5641

Following reports of an array of food borne illnesses in Illinois, tests have just confirmed ¡°gross contamination¡± in samples of cheese likely linked to the sicknesses of at least three people in Winnebago County, Illinois. Four additional cases are under investigation reported the Rockford Register Star.

On Tuesday, the health department reported three confirmed cases of Campylobacter jejuni; Wednesday, Sue Fuller, a spokeswoman at the Illinois Department of Public Health, confirmed Listeria and fecal coliform contamination. The contaminations were all found in illegally manufactured cheese, said the Rockford Register Star.

The cheese, reported the Rockford Register Star, is ¡°white, shaped into rounds, and packaged in unmarked food-storage bags,¡± adding that the contaminated cheese was typically ¡°sold out of cars and trucks in parking lots near¡± ¡¦ ¡°churches or markets.¡± The Rockford Register said inspectors discovered some cheese at a retail outlet. Fuller explained, said the Rockford Register, that the operators selling the cheese would most likely not be fined, but would undergo an educational program. As of yesterday, another 30-to-50 locations were being looked at; 20 were looked at Tuesday.

Campylobacter jejuni causes Campylobacteriosis, one of the most common food borne diarrheal illnesses in the United States, and is generally spread via raw or undercooked poultry. Larger outbreaks are usually associated with unpasteurized milk or contaminated water. Symptoms tend to start two-to-five days after exposure and last about one week, causing diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, cramping, nausea and vomiting; fever is typical and the diarrhea is often bloody. Some people can suffer long-term consequences such as arthritis and Guillain-Barre syndrome, which can require intensive care. The tests to link the Campylobacter infection to the tainted cheese are complicated and may not be completed until next week, said the Rockford Register.

Regarding the Listeria contamination, Fuller told the Rockford Register, ¡°We did find out that the Listeria is Listeria monocytogenes, one of the more severe types.¡± Listeriosis, the food poisoning generated by Listeria monocytogenes, is particularly dangerous to the elderly, pregnant women, newborns, those with chronic medical conditions, people with HIV, or those undergoing chemotherapy. In serious cases, the disease spreads to the nervous system, causing headaches, stiff neck, and convulsions. Listeriosis can also cause meningitis and blood poisoning in immune-compromised individuals. In pregnant women, Listeriosis can result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or birth of a baby suffering from the infection. Pregnant women are about 20 times likelier than others to be infected, with about one-third of Listeriosis cases occurring during pregnancy; the incidence of Listeriosis in newborns is 8.6 per 100,000 live births and the perinatal and neonatal mortality rate (stillbirths and early infant deaths) is 80 percent.

Fuller noted that ¡°the fecal coliform is quite high, 150,000 colonies per gram, so this is considered gross contamination,¡± quoted the Rockford Register. Fecal coliform bacteria are a group of bacteria passed through fecal excrement, with the most common member being Escherichia coli (E. coli). E. coli is a diarrheagenic bacteria termed ¡°enterohemorrhagic E. coli¡± that cause serious and sometimes deadly infections with symptoms that range from mild diarrhea to more profound watery or bloody diarrhea with severe abdominal cramping.

Campylobacter Sickens 11 With Raw Milk From Kinkin Corner Dairy
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
I talked with Katharhynn Heidelberg of the Montrose Daily Press about yet another raw milk outbreak:
Seattle attorney Bill Marler said that doesn¡¯t mean raw milk is safe. Marler has represented several clients, or their survivors, in food-borne illness cases, even taking on Con-Agra.
¡°The amount of raw milk that is sold commercially is actually quite small and is unfortunately growing,¡± he said. ¡°The number of illnesses and the frequency of illnesses, in my opinion, certainly indicates that it is a growing problem, not a shrinking one you can ignore.¡±
Colorado does not allow the commercial sale of raw milk. But a recent law allows for cow-shares, which Marler, speaking generally, said is being used to sidestep commercial-sale bans.
One of Marler¡¯s clients, a formerly healthy 39-year-old Californian, developed a rare and progressively paralytic illness after drinking raw milk. Marler said she¡¯s been rendered quadrupalegic and claims raw milk is to blame.
¡°A lot of times, raw milk groups have a tendency to say the health department is out for them, rather than that the health department is doing its job. That¡¯s part of their marketing scheme, to feel like they¡¯re being put upon,¡± Marler said.
¡°It¡¯s not like I had a particular jag against raw milk, it¡¯s just frankly another food that poisons people and the producers have to be as responsible as the corporations.¡±

Salmonella and food pathogen testing
Source of Article: http://www.scientistlive.com/
Oxoid has extended its range of ISO compliant culture media for food and environmental testing.
Oxoid Modified Semi-solid Rappaport Vassiliadis (MSRV) Agar (ISO) is used for the selective enrichment of Salmonella species from food, environmental and animal faecal samples and conforms to ISO 6579:2002 Annex D.
This medium, says the company, based Basingstoke, Hampshire, has been shown to detect more Salmonella positive samples than traditional enrichment procedures for animal faeces and environmental samples.
Oxoid Baird-Parker Agar (ISO) is a selective diagnostic medium for the isolation and enumeration of coagulase-positive staphylococci in foods. Conforming to ISO 6888-1:1999, it is widely recommended by national and international bodies.
The company's range also now includes Oxoid Violet Red Bile Lactose (VRBL) Agar (ISO), for the detection and enumeration of coliforms in food, animal feed and environmental samples, and Oxoid Violet Red Bile Glucose (VRBG) Agar (ISO), for the detection and enumeration of Enterobacteriaceae in food, animal feed and environmental samples.
All these media conform to ISO 4823:2006 and ISO 21528-2:2004 respectively.
- For more information, visit www.oxoid.com

Licence deal for rapid pathogen killing technology
Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/
By Jane Byrne, 22-Apr-2009
A new technology that can kill foodborne pathogens in a minute has been licensed to an anti-bacteria product manufacturer, according to the US university that developed it.
The technology was invented by scientists based at the Center for Food Safety (CFS) in the University of Georgia (UGA) and is targeted at bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria.
Gene Gama, technology manager at the UGA¡¯s Research Foundation told FoodProductionDaily.com that a recently signed licence agreement with Health Pro enables the development of a range of products from a wash, spray, immersion solution and additive based on the UGA technology.
He claims that the products will be available to food processors in the near future and can be used on equipment and transportation vehicles or directly on foods such as leafy greens, meats and poultry.
The technology, explained Gama, can destroy pathogens in one minute through the disruption of the cell walls of microorganisms and through interference with their metabolism.

Efficacy trials
He said that CFS scientists and the licensee are collaborating with companies representing various sectors within the food industry to assess the innovative technology at these facilities.
¡°Testing of the technology in specific food processing settings is necessary to adjust factors such as concentration and duration of wash to optimize efficacy,¡± he continued.

FDA approval
According to Gama, the technology is comprised of a combination of at least two compounds that are already approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the food industry and as food additives.

¡°They [the compounds] are considered by the FDA as Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS). When mixed, they don¡¯t react with each other, rather they display a synergistic effect reaching bactericidal levels around 99.99999%,¡± he said.
Specific uses or claims may require FDA or other regulatory approval, added Gama.
He said that research on the technology took several years, with scientists testing a multitude of reagents and methods to address food contamination from farm to fork.
¡°The components are used in very low concentrations and do not change taste, appearance, texture of food items, even items as delicate as sprouts and fresh leafy spices, such as parsley. The technology was tested in a multitude of vegetables, fruit and meats,¡± he said.

Wide use
Gama said that the technology has also shown remarkable effects against biofilms, which can prove stubborn to remove in certain areas within food processing facilities. However, he maintains it is not only limited to bacteria, with tests indicating that protozoa are also killed by the wash.
And he maintains that in some food processing applications, products based on the UGA technology may be more effective, easier and safer to use than concentrated chlorine or bleach washes.
The licence agreement with Health Pro is effective in select countries including the US, said Gama.

New biosensor for most serious form of Listeria food poisoning bacteria
Source of Article: http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=10218.php

(Nanowerk News) Scientists in Indiana are reporting development of a new biosensor for use in a faster, more sensitive test for detecting the deadliest strain of Listeria food poisoning bacteria. That microbe causes hundreds of deaths and thousands of hospitalizations each year in the United States, particularly among people with weakened immune systems. Their study appears in the current issue of ACS¡¯ Analytical Chemistry ("Targeted Capture of Pathogenic Bacteria Using a Mammalian Cell Receptor Coupled with Dielectrophoresis on a Biochip").

Soleris Rapid Test for Total Yeast and Mold Receives AOAC Approval
Neogen Corporation has received approval from the AOAC Research Institute for its rapid and accurate test for yeast and mold.
Neogen¢¥s newly approved Soleris¢â test (AOAC-RI No. 040901) detects yeast and mold in 72 hours or less?conventional methods can take up to 5 days. Neogen¢¥s Soleris technology is now used by approximately 400 of the world¢¥s largest food, nutraceutical, and personal care product manufacturers to detect indicator microbes, including yeast and mold, in a fraction of the time needed for traditional methods.
¡°Each time we receive a validation from an influential third party on any of our tests, it provides further assurance to our many customers that our tests perform as expected. We expect no less, and neither should our customers,¡± said Ed Bradley, Neogen¢¥s vice president for Food Safety. ¡°The Soleris yeast and mold test was shown to produce rapid and accurate results?allowing for significantly quicker product releases that improve profitability. Soleris provides unrivalled labor and sample handling efficiency, and easy and intuitive indicator microbe detection and enumeration.¡±
The Soleris system is a rapid optical method for the detection of microbial contamination based on an innovative application of classic microbiology. The optical assay measures microbial growth by monitoring gas production, pH, and other biochemical reactions that generate a color change as microorganisms grow and metabolize.
Using the Soleris system enables operators to easily identify, monitor, and map problematic spots in their facilities. The Soleris system features the quickest automated quality indicator system protocols. In addition to the yeast and mold test, Soleris tests provide:
Total viable count (TVC) results in as little as 6-8 hours; conventional methods take 24-48 hours
Coliform results in 9-10 hours; conventional methods take 24 hours
E. coli results in 7-10 hours; conventional methods take 24 hours or longer
Lactic bacteria results in 30-35 hours; conventional methods take 3-5 days

ELISA kits make allergen testing easier, claims Oxoid
Source of Article: http://www.bakeryandsnacks.com/
By Mike Stones, 21-Apr-2009
European food manufacturers can now use the ELISA Systems range of food allergen tests kits alongside the regular range of microbiological tests from Oxoid, according to the diagnostics company.
¡°ELISA tests have been available with Oxoid tests in Australia and New Zealand for several years but this is the first time they have been made available in Europe,¡± a spokesperson for Oxoid told FoodProductionDaily.com.
The launch, in providing a range of tests from one supplier, will make it easier for food companies to test the allergenic status of their products, confirmed Cheryl Mooney, industrial applications manager at Oxoid.
¡°In the light of the recently amended legislation and labelling laws, a company¡¯s knowledge of the allergenic status of their products has taken on a new importance.
¡°It is only by testing that companies can be sure they comply with the legislation, as well as fulfilling their duty of care. It prevents costly recall of products, protects the name and reputation of the brand and, ultimately, could save lives.¡±

Colour coded bottles
The simple extraction process of ELIZA tests minimises the sample preparation time, according to the company. ¡°All critical test reagents are in a ready to use liquid format, and presented in colour coded bottles, again making the tests quicker and easier to use,¡± it said in a statement.
Raw materials, finished products and environmental swabs can be tested using the ELISA Systems tests. Subjects include almond, buckwheat, crustaceans, egg, gliadin (or the wheat protein glutenein), hazelnut, milk, mustard, peanut, sesame and soy.
According to a recent survey, 88 per cent of manufacturers use milk; 84 per cent use soy; 78 per cent wheat and 55 per cent peanuts. So, according to the company, it is increasingly important to test food products and ingredients for allergens as part of an allergen HACCP plan to ensure that products have not been contaminated via raw materials, production lines or the environment.

Food products
Earlier this year, Reading Scientific Services Ltd (RSSL) validated new methods to test for the presence of fish and molluscs in food products.
The company said that it can now detect all 14 allergens that must be labelled if present in food products, under the provisions of EU Council Directive 2003/89/EC and its amendments; molluscs and lupin were added to list in 2007.
Barbara Hirst, technical manager of RSSL¡¯s DNA and protein laboratories, claims that allergen management is one of the biggest challenges for food manufacturers.
Mislabelling of allergens accounted for about half of all food recalls announced by the UK¡¯s Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during 2008, she said.

McCain takes aim at listeria oversight
Source of Article: http://www.theglobeandmail.com
Inspectors' union disagrees with CEO's view that paperwork trumps visual quality control procedures
BILL CURRY
April 21, 2009
OTTAWA -- Paperwork is more important than visual inspections when it comes to preventing future listeria outbreaks at meat-processing plants, the head of Maple Leaf Foods told a parliamentary committee yesterday.
Maple Leaf president Michael McCain said it is only through paperwork - reviewing results of swab tests from areas like meat slicers and counters - that inspectors can spot trends and isolate contaminated equipment.
"You cannot see bacteria, so visual inspection has limited value," Mr. McCain told MPs yesterday afternoon as he appeared before a House of Commons subcommittee examining the recent outbreak and food safety generally.
The union representing federal food inspectors has been expressing concern with a trend they say has largely taken them off the factory floor and into back offices, poring over binders of test results compiled by industry. The union says the paperwork is so onerous that inspectors rarely have the time to inspect the processing firsthand.
Earlier yesterday, following a luncheon speech to the Canadian Club, Mr. McCain emphasized the importance of that work.
"The only way you can determine whether or not a process is food safe is by looking at data," he told reporters. "You can only look at test results one, two, three, four days later. So you can describe that however you want. You can describe that as shuffling paper, but that's the reality of modern food safety science, and nobody's going to change that and make that bacteria more visible tomorrow than it is today."

Top officials from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which led Ottawa's response to last year's tainted meat outbreak that left 22 people dead, also appeared before MPs. They supported Mr. McCain's view that traditional inspections based on walking around a plant are not an effective way to find listeria and added that, in any case, their inspectors still spent half their time on the factory floor. One of the four officials, chief veterinary officer Brian Evans, said the government's role is to set rules and ensure they are followed by industry.

"This is not privatization," Dr. Evans said. "There has not, is not, and will not be any diminished role or investment by the government through the mandatory use of [agency policy]."

The Agriculture Union representing food inspectors released a statement yesterday describing Maple Leaf's position as an attempt to retain "self-inspection" of its facilities. Union president Bob Kingston said that while inspectors can't see bacteria, they may be able to spot workers engaging in practices that compromise food safety.

"Relying heavily on documents tells you only that a company knows how to complete paperwork," Mr. Kingston said.

However, the union said it agreed with Mr. McCain on the need for more stringent regulations and new rules that would require all meat plants to comply with federal rules. Currently, there are a number of smaller facilities that are only under provincial jurisdiction, although these firms produce only a small fraction of the meat consumed in Canada.

NDP MP Malcolm Allen raised the issue of industry's role in testing with Mr. McCain in committee, asking whether public trust in food safety would be improved if government inspectors did all the work. "A company has an intrinsic value in saying 'We're the best,' " Mr. Allen said. "The only way you can get trust back with the public is through third-party verification."
Mr. McCain replied that both government and industry must share the responsibility for food safety.

MSU prof makes vaccine for deadly E. coli strain
Source of Article: http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2009/04/19/ap6308503.html
Associated Press, 04.19.09, 04:11 PM EDT
Michigan State University says a researcher has developed a vaccine for a strain of E. coli bacteria that kills 2 million to 3 million children a year.
A. Mahdi Saeed is a professor of epidemiology and infectious disease and has applied for a patent for the discovery.
The university says negotiations are under way with several pharmaceutical companies.
Enterotoxigenic E. coli is responsible for 60 to 70 percent of E. coli diarrheal disease. It's the cause of what's commonly called traveler's diarrhea.
The strain affects millions of people worldwide, mainly in South America and sub-Saharan Africa.
Saeed says mouse and rabbit studies have succeeded, and he hopes human clinical trials can begin in late 2009.

Lax co-ordination delayed action on listeria: reports
Source of Article: http://www.google.com/hostednews
3 days ago
OTTAWA ? Poor co-ordination among governments and agencies over food safety is putting Canadians at risk.
That's the unwritten conclusion from a series of reports into last summer's deadly listeriosis crisis that claimed at least 20 lives. Reports released Friday by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada describe a cumbersome system that is short on meat-hygiene expertise, needs clarity on who identifies root-cause problems, and has trouble tracking problematic food products.
Despite having an emergency response protocol, the CFIA never activated an emergency operations centre as laid out in the plan, a report by the agency reveals.
A separate CFIA report says the crisis has prompted a variety of tougher new inspection policies. It says the government cancelled one of its inspection requirements in 2005 - and that the health crisis prompted it to reinstate and toughen that requirement.
Environmental inspections at meat plants were dropped in 2005, following a policy change by the United States Department of Agriculture. The USDA eliminated the requirement for environmental testing at plants, but increased the frequency of testing for final products to once a month.

"Now, in hindsight, we do recognize that environmental testing is a critical component of food safety," Dr. Brian Evans, executive vice-president of the CFIA, told The Canadian Press.

Those once-cancelled tests are now conducted six times a year.
In broader terms, "our overall collective assessment was there were areas for improvement in terms of early engagement of all the partners," Evans said in an interview.
"That's an issue of co-ordination."
Still, the agency concludes: "In general, the CFIA exercised its inspection and other statutory powers during the recall process."
Union leader Bob Kingston, head of the agriculture section of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said the study makes some useful recommendations, "but they don't have people to do it."
"This report is blind to the inspector shortage that is making it impossible for CFIA to properly do its job of safeguarding the food Canadians eat."
The federal studies were posted Friday afternoon while the House of Commons was adjourned - a traditional dumping ground for news the government wants to bury.
The reports surfaced several hours after Ontario held a news conference with its own post-mortem of the deadly listeriosis outbreak linked to a Maple Leaf Foods plant in Toronto.
Ontario's acting medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, noted that almost a month elapsed between the first listeriosis death last summer and a widespread recall of suspect Maple Leaf deli meats.
"If I had known that these products had gone out to the general public, I would have recommended a wider recall sooner," Williams said.
All the reports noted that tracing the source of a food-borne pathogen can be painstaking and time-consuming detective work. That makes co-ordination amongst agencies and departments, and across levels of government, vitally important.
The CFIA report first congratulates federal agencies on their "timely and appropriate exchange of information."
But under the heading "Areas for Improvement," the report states that timely determination of an outbreak and timely notification of the public require "additional clarity at provincial and federal levels ... as to protocols and leadership roles."
Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett accused the Conservative government of exercising damage control ahead of public health.
"It would appear that their lack of communications with the Ontario Ministry of Health stemmed from their desire to limit political damage, rather than putting the lives of Canadians first," Bennett said in a release.
The CFIA outlined dozens of other policy changes aimed at more testing and greater industry awareness of health risks.
The government says Maple Leaf conducted 108 inspections of its own facility over the course of 2008, and that listeria began showing up in May.
Maple Leaf was not required to notify the government - and did not do so until after the outbreak occurred in August.
"The CFIA has a critical role and Maple Leaf provided detailed reports of listeria findings for their inspection on an ongoing basis throughout 2008," said Linda Smith, a spokeswoman for the company.

The CFIA report also stresses the need "to clearly identify (to the public) . . . that it is the firm's responsibility to develop and implement a recall plan."
In Toronto, Ontario's medical officer told a news conference that tracing food-borne pathogens "isn't CSI Miami."
"Symptoms don't develop within seconds, and lab test results do not become available over a two-minute commercial break," said Williams. "In the real world, symptoms take time to develop - days or even weeks."

In his recommendations, Williams said Ottawa should consider expanding regional capacity to do molecular "fingerprinting" of bacterial strains, instead of sending samples only to federal laboratories in Winnipeg and Ottawa for testing.

As well, the Ontario Public Health Laboratory's capacity to test for bacterial strains should be beefed up.

One thing noticeably absent from all the reports is any stated role for Agriculture Canada.

Conservative Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz was the lead government spokesman during the crisis, and came under fire for making a tasteless joke about "death by a thousand cold cuts" during one internal conference call.
Bennett said she can't understand why Ritz was given the role of communicating to concerned Canadians.
"It seems that there was interference, political interference, in what was clearly a public health outbreak that should have been managed by public health officials and done in a clear communication with the people of Canada," the Liberal MP said in Toronto.

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