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Obama Eating a Burger - A ¡°Teachable Moment¡± in Food Safety
Source of Article:
So, what is the big deal- President Obama ordered a medium-well burger for himself and the VP, and ordered medium burgers for the press - in a restaurant with a spotty food safety record that does not use, or may not even have, a thermometer. Forgoing the phrase ¡°teachable moment¡± for a bit, I would like to get right to the ¡°meat¡± of the matter. What Obama did was foolish - in the view of many food safety experts - but it is something that many consumers do every day; they order a burger from their favorite restaurant or cook it themselves on the backyard grill.
Food safety professionals inside and outside government will tell you that medium or medium-well means nothing in the food safety world - temperature is the key. Pink or brown color is not a good indicator of ¡°doneness.¡± Temperature on the inside of the burger (at several places) of 155 to 160 degrees (rules vary a bit state to state) is the only way to assure that the burger is safe. Yet less that 2% of consumers use or own a thermometer. Restaurants are required to have thermometers, but not necessarily use them. So, why do consumers - including the President - ignore the advice of experts who are trying to protect them from the bacteria and viruses lurking in their cheeseburgers that can sicken or kill them or their children-

What consumers believe, including the President apparently, is what they hear every day from Government officials and the Beef Industry - ¡°Our Food Supply Is The Safest In the World¡±. Compared to China- Great! Clearly, any food safety message is missed, because of lack of honesty (hamburger really may contain animal shit that can sicken or kill you!) and lack of education (why don¡¯t we teach kids how to cook safely in addition to teaching them to wear seatbelts and shun smoking-)

So, what is a President to do - avoid hamburgers- Well, I do (and so does my family) ever since the Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak of 1993 that sickened nearly 600, caused acute kidney failure in 50 and killed four children - but that is just me.

Full disclosure, I am a trial lawyer who represents victims of foodborne illness. I have seen too much misery, and yes, death, caused by failures in food production at every stage of the food supply. If you do not think our food supply is dangerous, then just open a newspaper, turn on the radio or TV or surf the Internet. Foodborne illness outbreaks linked to all types of food (including hamburger) are nearly a daily occurrence. However, the Government and Industry keep telling us its safe and we seem to believe it.

So, what is a President too do-
First call the head of Food Safety Inspection Services (actually, a spot yet to be filled) and ask him why there is cow shit in hamburger meat in the first place. Also, while you have him on the phone, ask about Salmonella, Listeria, MRSA and all the other bugs that may have been in the hamburger you ate the other day.
Next, be honest with the American Public. With 76,00,000 foodborne illnesses cases yearly, 325, 000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths, our food supply might be the safer than China¡¯s - but it is not safe enough.
Third, put food safety on the ¡°front burner¡± and turn up the heat. It is time that we commit to the American Public to get animal shit out of our food. How to do it:
A. Revise food regulations to criminalize manufacturers who sell food that poisons consumers. I am not suggesting the ¡°China Method,¡± but it is time to impose stiff fines, and jail sentences for businesses that kill kids;
B. Give tax credits and other incentives to businesses that invest in safe food methods and technology. Remind me, how many billions have we given the banks- Perhaps it is time to invest in those who will actually invest in us;

C. Increase the surveillance of foodborne diseases. Right now, for every one person counted in an outbreak, we miss another 20 to 40. This causes delays in determining what food product is sickening our neighbors allows hundreds of others to become sick before we figure out what product to pull;
D. Fully fund Local, State and Federal Health and Food Inspectors and give them the legislative and financial tools to get the job done.
The ¡°teachable moment¡± is simply that the hamburger that the President ordered on Monday should not put him at risk for getting sick on Thursday. That is true for all of us and all the food that we eat. The ¡°teachable moment¡± has passed, the real question is, ¡°did we learn anything-¡¯

FDA: More than $1.5 Million of Adulterated Food, Food Ingredients Seized
Filthy conditions, failure to correct violations prompted action
At the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Marshals today seized more than $1.5 million worth of food products, including herbs and botanicals, stored under filthy conditions at the American Mercantile Corporation of Memphis, Tenn.

During an inspection of American Mercantile in March, FDA investigators discovered evidence of extensive rodent and insect infestation throughout the company¡¯s warehouse. The company failed to correct these problems. Acting on a warrant issued by the United Stated District Court in Memphis, U.S. Marshals seized all FDA-regulated food products exposed to rodent and insect contamination at the facility. The seized products violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act because they were held under insanitary conditions under which they may have become contaminated with filth.

¡°FDA will not tolerate a company¡¯s failure to adequately control and prevent filth in its facility,¡± said Michael Chappell, the FDA¡¯s acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. ¡°The FDA is prepared to use whatever legal means are necessary and appropriate to keep potentially contaminated products out of the marketplace.¡±

American Mercantile stores and processes food ingredients, which are then sold to and used in the dietary supplement and herbal tea industries. The seized articles include food products, such as sarsaparilla, spearmint leaves, cornstarch, sweet orange peels powder, licorice powder, sassafras, and salt.

The FDA has no reports of illness associated with consumption of the products.

Salmonella Spills Its Secrets On Shuttle
Source of Article: Dr. Tony Phillips
Huntsville AL (SPX) May 07, 2009
Salmonella, what's gotten into you- Researchers have been asking themselves this question ever since Salmonella bacteria grown on board the space shuttle returned to Earth 3 to 7 times more virulent than Salmonella grown on the ground under otherwise identical conditions.
Figuring out why could help safeguard astronauts from disease and lead to new treatments for food poisoning and other common ailments on Earth.
New research by Cheryl Nickerson (Arizona State University) and colleagues explains not only why Salmonella gets "revved up" in space, but also how to calm it down again.

"We think space travel tricks Salmonella into behaving as if it is in the human gut," Nickerson says. "It's a mechanical phenomenon having to do with 'fluid shear.'"
Salmonella microbes have the ability to sense the force of fluid moving past their outer surfaces. This "fluid shear" acts as a signal to the microbe, helping it to know where in the human body it's located. Salmonella usually enters the body by hitching a ride on food that a person eats. In the middle of the tube-shaped intestines, the liquid-like mixture of half-digested food and digestive juices churns around quite a bit, so the amount of fluid shear is high. But as a Salmonella cell approaches the wall of the intestines, it slips into the tiny spaces between microscopic, hair-like protrusions called microvilli that cover the intestinal lining. There, the cell becomes sheltered from the churning motion, and fluid shear drops to very low levels. And it's there that the bacterial cell can cross from the intestines into the bloodstream to start an infection. So it would make sense for a bacterium experiencing low fluid shear to alter the activity of genes that help the bacterium survive and cause infection. Computer-based simulations have shown that the amount of fluid shear experienced by bacteria in the weightless environment of orbit is similar to the amount in these tiny spaces at the intestinal wall, Nickerson says. "Space flight is a low fluid shear environment." Nickerson's team looked at Salmonella from two shuttle flights to the International Space Station: STS-115 in Sept. 2006 and STS-123 in March 2008. They found that 167 genes were either more or less active in these keyed-up bacteria than in the bacteria that hadn't flown. The team also identified a "master switch" that regulates about one-third of these genes, a protein called Hfq. Activity of this protein was also affected by the low fluid shear conditions of spaceflight. Now that scientists know which genes and proteins help create this virulence-boosting effect, they are working to use this information to develop new strategies to combat Salmonella food-borne illness, such as vaccines and therapeutics. The team has already found one promising way to combat Salmonella's extra virulence: add a dash of ions. When Nickerson and her colleagues grew the same strain of bacteria in a culture medium that contained higher concentrations of five ions - potassium, chloride, sulfate, magnesium, and phosphate - the virulence of the bacteria due to spaceflight no longer went up! "Cells are funny things," Nickerson says. "If you give them too much or too little of something they're used to having around, they'll surprise you with how they respond." As it turns out, many of the genes activated by the low fluid shear environment of spaceflight are involved in transporting these ions in and out of the cells, so there could be a connection. Research on this ion effect is still ongoing, Nickerson says, but she speculates that it could eventually lead to new ways to use these ions to ward off Salmonella infections. "One question people ask me is, 'Why in the world did you think of looking at [Salmonella in space]-' I turn that around and ask, 'Why would you not think of it!'" Nickerson says. "Whenever scientists have studied microbes under extreme conditions, we have found amazing new insights into how they function. Space flight is another extreme environment that's relatively untapped."
"To me it was a no-brainer."

Study suggests consumers don¡¯t take food safety warnings seriously
Source of Article:
Published on 05/06/2009 02:04pm By Doug Ohlemeier
Despite numerous warnings about possible contaminated foods, many consumers think food recalls don¡¯t apply to them.
A Rutgers University study of consumer behavior in food safety alerts shows many shoppers choose to ignore warnings and some even eat the recalled items.
Though a majority of people questioned say they pay attention to food recalls, the study by Rutgers, New Brunswick, N.J., showed that nearly half of them think the foods they buy are less likely to be subject to recall than the food other people buy.
Rutgers¡¯ Food Policy Institute, a research unit of New Jersey¡¯s agricultural experiment station, conducted a telephone survey of 1,100 consumers in August and September.

Given the amount of mass media coverage of outbreaks and warnings, one of the study¡¯s authors said researchers were surprised to learn how many people told them recalls have little effect on their lives. ¡°The idea is that people are sort of overwhelmed and underwhelmed by the recalls,¡± said William Hallman, a Rutgers professor and psychologist. ¡°There¡¯s a lot of information out there. They hear the news and tell other people, but they don¡¯t necessarily check their own homes. People think recalls are important but important for other people.¡±Hallman, who has studied consumers¡¯ perceptions of food issues for two decades, said he is puzzled why consumers react passively to food recalls. He said many told surveyors they figured if a food was for sale in a local supermarket, it would be safe to eat or made safe by washing or cooking.

A similar Rutgers study of last year¡¯s Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak found consumers were confused by the messages that came from public health authorities. That study, released Jan. 29, showed though people pay attention to news about food warnings, they often don¡¯t understand or disregard the alert¡¯s specifics. People would say they heard the news about tomatoes and hot peppers but said they consumed them anyway, Hallman said.While the Food and Drug Administration changed the way it handles outbreaks after the 2006 spinach crisis by not condemning an entire commodity, Hallman said officials still mishandled public warnings regarding tomatoes.¡°With the tomato warning, they tried to say people could eat things on this list but not on this list,¡± he said. ¡°But of course consumers didn¡¯t know what was on either list.¡±Consumers want more personalized and targeted information on how they should handle the affected foods they may have already purchased, the study showed. Hallman recommends food safety officials actively push such information rather than encouraging consumers to visit a Web site.The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Washington, D.C.-based Grocery Manufacturers Association funded the study.

FDA is failing to meet its food-safety inspection audit goals (USA TODAY) By Julie Schmit
The Food and Drug Administration is failing to meet its goals for auditing food-safety inspections that states do on its behalf, FDA data show.The FDA fell short of its goal in at least 17 of 39 states it paid to do inspections in the 2007-08 contract year, according to data the FDA gave USA TODAY. In five states, the FDA did no audits.State agencies do half the FDA's food inspections. The FDA aims to audit 7% to help make sure states do good inspections. The FDA's performance has improved. Its data for the 2006-07 year show its audit goal was unmet in 21 of 37 states. In eight states, no audits were done. In 1998, the FDA did no audits in 21 of 38 states, said the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General in a 2000 report. "We don't meet our target every year, but ... we're looking at continuous improvement," says Richard Barnes, FDA director of federal-state relations. The quality of state inspections came under scrutiny this year during the salmonella outbreak traced to Peanut Corp. of America's plant in Georgia. The state's agriculture department found minor issues in 2007 and 2008 when it inspected the plant for the FDA. The FDA cited serious deficiencies when it inspected PCA this year. The FDA exceeded its audit goal for Georgia in the 2006-07 contract year, but did only 10 of 16 target audits the next year. The states that weren't audited in 2007-08 were Maryland, Wyoming, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.

No data were available for Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Nevada. The year before, no audits occurred in Texas, which has one of the biggest FDA contracts. It should have had 48 audits for 685 inspections, the FDA says.

Audits may be missed due to:
Other priorities. Major food-borne illness outbreaks absorb so many FDA and state staffers that audits get skipped, Barnes says.
-Scheduling challenges. Each FDA district office will soon have a person dedicated to overseeing state contracts. That will improve scheduling and follow-up, says Barnes. Audits typically involve an FDA auditor checking the state inspector's work.
"It's important that these inspections go on. It's important that FDA makes sure they are good," says Michael Taylor, food-safety expert at George Washington University. "The FDA is on the right track, and Congress needs to support it with resources."
Eventually, the FDA intends to have states audit themselves while it checks their overall inspection programs. That will conserve FDA resources and increase its influence, Barnes says. 5-07-09

Peanut Salmonella Litigation Status
Source of Article:
May 5, 2009. By Ron Simon
Washington, DC: Increasingly, more individuals across the United States have reported that they contracted Salmonella Typhimurium from peanut butter and peanut products, namely from the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), Kellogg Company, and Kanan Enterprises, Inc.

Overview of the Peanut Butter Outbreak
Officials at the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and numerous state agencies have linked the source of distinct strains of Salmonella Typhimurium that has poisoned hundreds of people across the United States to peanut butter and peanut paste manufactured by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) at its peanut processing plants in Blakely, Georgia and Plainview, Texas. The peanut butter was sold under the King Nut brand label (owned by Kanan Enterprises, Inc.) to nursing homes, cafeterias, schools, and colleges where those most susceptible to salmonella poisoning--children and the elderly--were likely to have consumed the contaminated product.
Unfortunately, PCA's contaminated peanut butter and peanut paste were also distributed to numerous companies for use as ingredients in many products including cookies, crackers, cereal, candy, ice cream, and other foods. These companies have now recalled over 2800 products which contained PCA peanut butter and paste.

Austin and Keebler Crackers Cause Most Illnesses
Although over 2800 peanut-based products have been recalled, over 90 percent of the known illnesses arose from the consumption of Austin and Keebler brand peanut butter crackers, both of which are manufactured by Kellogg Company, and used contaminated peanut paste manufactured by PCA.

PCA has $24 Million available to Pay Victims
As a result of the flood of claims against it, PCA declared bankruptcy and shut down both its Blakely, Georgia and Plainview, Texas plants. At a recent bankruptcy hearing in Lynchburg, Virginia, an examination revealed that PCA has $24 million in liability insurance available from The Hartford Insurance Company set aside to resolve salmonella food poisoning claims.

PCA's Texas Plant Fined for Unsanitary Conditions
On April 9, the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) assessed $14.6 million in administrative penalties against PCA's Texas peanut plant for violations of state food safety regulations. The violations included unsanitary conditions, product contamination, illnesses linked to consumption of peanuts from the plant and operating for almost four years without a food manufacturer¡¯s license from the state.

The Peanut Butter Salmonella Outbreak Sickens 714 people and kills 9
The CDC continues to work with state health officials and the FDA to monitor the outbreak. Over 714 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 46 states and Canada. Illnesses began on September 1, 2008. Patients range in age from 1 year to 98 years old. Among persons with available information, 24 percent reported being hospitalized. Nine deaths have been reported.

Peanut Salmonella Litigation Status
Source of Article:
May 5, 2009. By Ron Simon
Washington, DC: Increasingly, more individuals across the United States have reported that they contracted Salmonella Typhimurium from peanut butter and peanut products, namely from the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), Kellogg Company, and Kanan Enterprises, Inc.

Overview of the Peanut Butter Outbreak
Officials at the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and numerous state agencies have linked the source of distinct strains of Salmonella Typhimurium that has poisoned hundreds of people across the United States to peanut butter and peanut paste manufactured by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) at its peanut processing plants in Blakely, Georgia and Plainview, Texas. The peanut butter was sold under the King Nut brand label (owned by Kanan Enterprises, Inc.) to nursing homes, cafeterias, schools, and colleges where those most susceptible to salmonella poisoning--children and the elderly--were likely to have consumed the contaminated product.

Unfortunately, PCA's contaminated peanut butter and peanut paste were also distributed to numerous companies for use as ingredients in many products including cookies, crackers, cereal, candy, ice cream, and other foods. These companies have now recalled over 2800 products which contained PCA peanut butter and paste.

Austin and Keebler Crackers Cause Most Illnesses
Although over 2800 peanut-based products have been recalled, over 90 percent of the known illnesses arose from the consumption of Austin and Keebler brand peanut butter crackers, both of which are manufactured by Kellogg Company, and used contaminated peanut paste manufactured by PCA.

PCA has $24 Million available to Pay Victims
As a result of the flood of claims against it, PCA declared bankruptcy and shut down both its Blakely, Georgia and Plainview, Texas plants. At a recent bankruptcy hearing in Lynchburg, Virginia, an examination revealed that PCA has $24 million in liability insurance available from The Hartford Insurance Company set aside to resolve salmonella food poisoning claims.

PCA's Texas Plant Fined for Unsanitary Conditions
On April 9, the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) assessed $14.6 million in administrative penalties against PCA's Texas peanut plant for violations of state food safety regulations. The violations included unsanitary conditions, product contamination, illnesses linked to consumption of peanuts from the plant and operating for almost four years without a food manufacturer¡¯s license from the state.

The Peanut Butter Salmonella Outbreak Sickens 714 people and kills 9
The CDC continues to work with state health officials and the FDA to monitor the outbreak. Over 714 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 46 states and Canada. Illnesses began on September 1, 2008. Patients range in age from 1 year to 98 years old. Among persons with available information, 24 percent reported being hospitalized. Nine deaths have been reported.

Canada confirms H1N1 in swine herd, farm worker may be cause
Source of Article:
By Ann Bagel Storck on 5/4/2009
Canada has reported the world's first case of 2009 H1N1 flu jumping to pigs from a human, and health officials there speculate that it may have been caused by a farm worker in Alberta who became ill after a trip to Mexico. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, about 10 percent of the Alberta farm's 2,200 pigs showed symptoms of the same H1N1 strain. The herd has been placed under quarantine, and there is no risk to the food supply, CFIA said. CFIA also stressed that the chance that the pigs could transfer the virus to a person is remote. "Canada has handled this situation appropriately and taken the necessary steps and precautions," U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in a statement. "Here in the United States, USDA is actively working to develop an H1N1 vaccine for swine. Today's discovery will not impact our borders or trading with Canada." CFIA is still waiting for final confirmatory test results on the swine, which could take up to two weeks.

Mobile food-safety labs get FDA up to speed
Source of Article:
By Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY
NOGALES, Ariz. - The FDA has hit the road.
A month ago, three gleaming white trailers - the Food and Drug Administration's $3 million mobile food-safety lab - rolled into this major port of entry for people and goods coming from Mexico. They joined an alphabet soup of federal agencies sifting through millions of tons of goods in search of drugs, guns, invasive plants and tainted foods.

The lab represents a new era for the agency in keeping the food supply safe, says Michael Chappell, FDA acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. It is a tool that can be suited up and rolled out to anyplace in the country facing the danger of contaminated food, whether at the hand of terrorists or Mother Nature.

"The labs bring our cutting-edge technology closer to where food is grown or imported into the country," says Chappell, who oversees all of the FDA's inspectors. "Tools like our mobile labs help make our food supply safer by allowing us to identify a potential problem faster, enabling us to react more quickly and limiting exposure to a food-borne pathogen that may make people sick."

In the three weeks the trailers were based in Nogales before heading to their next assignment, the FDA estimates that direct contact with the truckers shaved tens of thousands of dollars in testing costs and spoiled produce. The mobile unit also may help repair the agency's reputation, which has been battered by public frustration with the contamination of such popular foods as peanuts and spinach.

Jim Cathey, general manager for Del Campo Supreme, a grower and shipper based in Nogales and Mexico, says he has seen firsthand that "everything is changing" at the FDA. Cathey, a former FDA inspector, says agents "seem to be very aggressively trying to do a much better job and be more on top of things than they have in the past."

The danger factor

In dry Nogales, the wind whips through the valley, setting flags and grit flying. There is palpable tension in the air as agents under the protection of armed guards examine cargo. The BlackBerrys senior Customs and Border Protection agents wear on their belts buzz constantly. Several times a day the message is something that makes them look up and around with a practiced eye.

Gun battles with would-be smugglers are rare, but they do happen, says Chief Tracy Encinas, an agricultural specialist with Customs. It is violence, in fact, that's keeping the FDA on this side of the border. Mounting drug violence in Mexico makes it too dangerous to send agricultural agents into the countryside.

In this setting, the scientists inside the mobile lab refer to their time as a deployment. They train hard on quick response. The lab is designed to handle biohazards as deadly as anthrax and the West Nile virus. If a terrorist attack on the nation's food supply were even to be suspected, "we can break down and be on the road in six hours," says FDA microbiologist Rick Crouch.

The lab was built in 2005. Its deployments have included Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina to test water. And last August, scientists drove to California's Salinas Valley to test leafy greens in an effort to head off a recurrence of the E. coli outbreak in spinach in 2006.

Trucks full of produce

Seventy percent of the fruits and vegetables Americans consume in winter are imported from Mexico, a total of 7 billion pounds, says Allison Moore, communications director for the Nogales-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas. About half comes through Nogales.

The road that leads to the border begins to fill with trucks carrying fruits, vegetables and manufactured goods at 6:30 a.m. By noon there can be a line of trucks up to 7 miles long snaking through the low desert hills waiting to make the crossing.

Manuel Ramirez and Alfonzo Obregon are about a quarter-mile from the border, waiting in their semi. "We usually wait between three and four hours to cross," Obergon says. His load of watermelons was harvested in La Costa that morning.

Chris Ciruli of Ciruli Brothers in Nogales says his peppers and tomatoes come from the Mexican state of Sonora. A truck drives all night to arrive at the border the next morning. Each trucker carrying food has submitted an electronic manifest at least two hours before arriving because of rules put into place by the Bioterrorism Act of 2002. At the border, each truck is given a quick visual inspection. A random number are X-rayed for contraband.

The FDA uses a computer system called OASIS (Operational and Administrative System for Import Support), which randomly assigns trucks to be inspected based on a number of variables. It includes previous positive tests for salmonella and E. coli.

The FDA also does "targeted inspections." Inspectors looking for salmonella have, at various times, pulled over all trucks carrying such foods as peppers, summer squash and tomatoes, says Adrian Garcia, the FDA's supervisory investigator for the Southwest Import District. The trucks pulled over are inventoried and unloaded at one of about 25 refrigerated warehouses around town.

Usually, this work would all be done by the 13 FDA inspectors permanently assigned to Nogales, who ship samples to one of the FDA's 13 labs. But the process can take up to 11 days, Ciruli says.

Produce that's "red-tagged" as potentially positive for salmonella or E. coli can be shipped or impounded at the warehouse, but it cannot be put on the market until FDA test results come back negative. "There was a lot of stuff that we had to destroy because it got too old on the FDA hold," he says.

High - and low - tech

The mobile labs are testing for the two bacteria behind the lion's share of major outbreaks over the past decade - salmonella, recently found in pistachios and peanut butter, and E. coli O157:H7, which has turned up in ground beef, spinach and lettuce.

The command vehicle is a modified 34-foot motor home, filled with laptop-covered desks. At the back is the labeling area, where microbiologists log in samples. The Sample Preparation Lab is a 44-foot, 22,000-pound, custom-built trailer. Its twin is the Sample Analysis, where the actual testing takes place. The trailers fishtail "like a whale" in the wind when they're driven, says Crouch, who helped drive them down from their home base in Arkansas. Nogales gets heavy winds, and the walls of the trailers shake throughout the day.

The equipment is state of the art, but space and budget keep some things primitive. Even in a high school lab, sample mixing usually would be done by a mechanical shaking unit. Here it's done by microbiologist Santos Camara, who takes a gray plastic tub full of plastic bags containing produce samples and rinse solution and scoots them back and forth across the stainless steel counter for five minutes. "It builds up my arms," he jokes.

The rest of the crewmembers cheerfully step around one another to get to their work stations. They enjoy the camaraderie. But the importance of what they're doing doesn't get lost, Crouch says. "When we get a positive, I feel like we maybe stopped an outbreak."

No news is good news

In the three weeks the lab was parked at Nogales, not one positive test turned up. "That's good. That shows that the people shipping to us are aware that we're testing and they're being diligent," Crouch says.

And for a $30,000 load of red, orange and yellow peppers picked last week in the Mexican state of Sinaloa near Mazatlan, the FDA hold-and-test time was just short of 36 hours, thanks to the mobile lab. That marks a huge improvement over the week it could have taken, says Cathey of Del Campo Supreme. Even a few days' wait could cut the peppers' value by thousands of dollars.

This lab came to Nogales at the request of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas. "We requested that it come down here and take a look at what we're doing and see if we could speed things up," Cathey says.

And the growers are hopeful that the lab will return to Nogales at peak growing times.

But not everyone is on board. The mobile labs are just "a Band-Aid" says Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn. "It's going to take more than a network of mobile labs to reform the FDA."

For now, the lab is headed back to the Salinas Valley, called "the salad bowl to the world," where much of the nation's lettuce will come from this summer.

Clostridium difficile in Retail Meat Products, USA, 2007

Source of Article:

J. Glenn Songer, Hien T. Trinh, George E. Killgore, Angela D. Thompson, L. Clifford McDonald, and Brandi M. Limbago
Author affiliations: University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA (J.G. Songer, H.T. Trinh); and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA (G.E. Killgore, A.D. Thompson, L.C. McDonald, B.M. Limbago)

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.

Building A Better Understanding Of Salmonella In Pistachios
Source of Article:
In the course of our coverage of the Salmonella/pistachio recall, we¡¯ve confirmed what we have found in previous outbreaks: The FDA has no one with deep expertise in these commodities. Sometimes the failure shows up in terms of not understanding the industry and distribution systems; sometimes it shows up in terms of not really understanding the commodity itself. Because the recent pistachio recall has left so many open questions, we turned to Linda Harris at the University of California at Davis. We spoke to many experts and all identified her as the person to speak to when it came to tree nuts. She is understandably busy just now, but was kind enough to work with Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to fill in some of the gaps in industry understanding of the intersection between Salmonella and pistachios:

Linda J. Harris, Ph.D.
Associate Director
Western Institute for Food Safety and Security
Cooperative Extension Specialist in
Microbial Food Safety
Department of Food Science and Technology
University of California
Davis, California

Q: Where do pistachios rank in terms of risk for contamination of Salmonella in comparison to other produce items- Are pistachios a common or uncommon host for Salmonella- Why or why not- Do different nuts, such as peanuts or almonds, pose higher or lower risks of Salmonella contamination-

A. There is relatively little information available on Salmonella in nuts. The largest body of work relates to almonds, with some early work about 30 years ago on pecans, a little recently on peanut butter and a few, relatively limited international prevalence studies. And that is it. So your questions simply cannot be answered. There is no data to compare risks among nuts.

Q: What is required in the processing stages to provide a kill step and eliminate any potential pathogens in pistachios- Does roasting act as a kill step- What needs to occur, i.e., reach a certain temperature for a particular time period, for example- What other methods would work as kill steps- What types of research is being done in this area-

A. Thermal (heat) processes are the most common applied to foods. Typically we think of a heat process in terms of a given time at a certain temperature. The basis of validated thermal processes is that this time and temperature combination will result in a certain predictable reduction of target microorganisms. In general, the greater the time at a given temperature, the more microbes you kill AND less time is required at a higher temperature to kill the same number of microorganisms. Most processes that are designed to kill pathogens target the most heat resistant pathogen that would be important for that food.

A reduction goal is also set (for example: 10,000-, 100,000-, 10,000,000-fold reduction - these are 4-, 5- and 7-log reductions). ¡°Eliminate¡± is not a term used by regulators or microbiologists - we say ¡°reduce to an acceptable level¡±. That acceptable level often can be considered ¡°virtually eliminate,¡± but it isn¡¯t scientifically correct to say eliminate.

Thermal processes for nuts include oil roasting, dry roasting, and blanching as more traditional practices, but heat can also be applied through steam, infrared heat, etc. Each nut type has different handling after harvest, and there is variability in the type and amount of heat that is/can be applied. There are also other treatments such as gas (propylene oxide).

We are all pretty familiar with temperatures that are given for cooking poultry and other meats. The USDA recommends cooking turkey to 165 degrees F. This guidance is designed to reduce Salmonella by 10 million-fold (7 log). The meat industry must follow validated guidelines for cooking roast beef. In this case, achieving a temperature of 158 degrees F is sufficient to reduce Salmonella by 10-million fold - the target set for this product. The time (or the time/temperature combination) is zero seconds for these two examples. For the roast, if you look at the USDA chart you can see that an equivalent reduction is achieved at lower temperatures in combination with longer times.I understand why people might assume that these types of times/temperatures should be adequate for other types of foods such as nuts. However, this is one of the most common misconceptions about Salmonella. Meat and poultry are moist. Once Salmonella dries as it would be on a nut it becomes remarkably heat resistant. If we look at some of the validated processes for almonds - oil roasting requires 2 minutes at 260 degrees F to achieve a 100,000-fold reduction of Salmonella (5 log) - 100-fold less reduction than in the roast beef or turkey examples - yet we had to use 100 degrees F higher temperature and 2 extra minutes to achieve this. Even blanched nuts need to be exposed to hot water for 2 minutes at 190 degrees F to achieve a 100,000-fold reduction, which is much longer time and higher temperature than for turkey or beef.

(Editor¡¯s note: you can read the Pundit¡¯s coverage of the almond situation here and here.)
A second complication is that not all heating methods are equal. That is clear in my example above - there is a very large difference between heating in hot oil (260 degrees F) and hot water (190degrees F) to achieve the same reduction of Salmonella in 2 minutes. We do not currently know if the data for almonds and oil roasting or blanching apply to other nuts.

When we move to dry roasting, things get really complex. Each type of dry roaster has a different heating profile. In addition, many dry roasters do not achieve uniform heating across the roaster. Data generated for oil roasting is not at all applicable to dry roasters, and each dry roaster must be individually validated.

For pistachios, dry roasting is most commonly used. Different companies will not only have different pieces of equipment but they may also have different times/temperatures that they use to achieve a certain end product quality. Validation of dry roasters is ongoing in the pistachio industry at the moment. Each company will be generating their own data for each roaster or roaster type. Most will probably hire a ¡°thermal process authority¡± to do this as it is not an easy task, and it requires someone with expertise and experience with these types of validations.

Q. If raw pistachios carrying Salmonella were entering the processing plant, how likely would it be during periodic environmental testing within the plant where raw product was being handled during the processing stages for samples to test positive for Salmonella-

A. There is no answer to this question. There simply is no data.

Q: What is the significance of FDA discovering Salmonella in the Setton processing plant- Wouldn¡¯t it be important to know exactly where the samples testing positive were taken in terms of the processing flow to make a meaningful assessment-

A: This demonstrates the presence of Salmonella in the processing facility. [Editors note: more on its relevance below] It would be useful to know this information but not critical at this point.

Q. What is the statistical/scientific significance that the Montevideo variety of Salmonella was discovered at the Setton plant in April and also in Georgia Nut Company¡¯s testing of Setton product back in March- How scientifically significant is it that the same PFGE pattern of the Montevideo strain was discovered at both the Setton plant in April and also in the Georgia Nut Company¡¯s testing of Setton product-

A. There are many different serovars of Salmonella. Montevideo is not uncommon but there are multiple PFGE patterns for this serovar. Finding a PFGE match between isolates from a finished product and the facility that produced the product provide further evidence that the two are linked. The fact that the organism is still in the processing facility indicates that it has been there for some time. In the 2000/2001 raw almond outbreak, investigators found the outbreak strain in the processing facility several months after the outbreak-associated lot was processed. It was also found at the huller/sheller and in the orchard. So we know that Salmonella strains can ¡°hang out¡± in processing facilities and other environments.

Q. FDA said that four different strains of Salmonella (including Montevideo) were discovered in the Georgia Nut Company¡¯s testing of Setton product in March. How common would it be to find four different strains of Salmonella in the same round of testing-

A. It depends. It would not be uncommon to find more than one type of Salmonella in a food product upon testing.

Q. Is it notable or inconsequential that the other three strains were not found during extensive testing at the Setton plant-

A. It is inconsequential.

Q. Is it notable or odd that Setton Pistachio had received excellent food safety ratings during regular audits from numerous reputable companies, and no one pointed out any violations of consequence-

A. There are a group of food microbiologists and food safety specialist that have been talking about the importance of Salmonella in dried foods for a long time. Unfortunately, the dogma has been that dried foods are not an issue for foodborne illness so not everyone paid attention to us.

Q: Why-

A: More misconceptions:

1. Salmonella can¡¯t grow in dried foods so they aren¡¯t a problem. Actually it is true that Salmonella cannot grow in a food that is dried below a certain moisture level. However, they do survive on dried foods for very, very long periods of time. When the dried food is cooled down to refrigerated or freezer temperatures Salmonella levels will remain constant for years (another difficult concept for many people).

2. High levels of Salmonella are needed to cause illness. Not true. There are a number of outbreaks in dry foods where levels of Salmonella were documented and very low levels (10 cells or less per serving) were sufficient to cause illness. Salmonella doesn¡¯t need to be able to multiply to cause illness.

If you couple these misconceptions with the ¡°any kind of roasting will always eliminate Salmonella,¡± you can imagine that inspections/views of processing facilities for these products might have been inadequate from the perspective of Salmonella contamination. They weren¡¯t looking for potential sources of Salmonella or for validated kill steps or for potential cross contamination points.

It is my hope that in 2009 we finally have enough evidence to convince the dried food industry that Salmonella IS an issue they should address - ALL DRIED FOODS - regardless of whether or not Salmonella has been isolated from the product and regardless of whether there has been a documented outbreak. RE-EVALUATE your safety programs with the view that Salmonella IS a potential hazard - that may just ensure it never is.

Q. This pistachio recall is massive. Does the size of the recall of Setton products seem weighted appropriately to the potential risk- What scientific methods can be employed to determine the size of a recall-

A. I have not seen the data that FDA and Setton Farms used to determine the scope of the recall. I will say that recalls can be more limited in scope if the company has data to support that the contamination is limited to one or more well-defined lots.

Q. Could recalled pistachio products be sent out for re-roasting and safely be sold in the market-

A. Products can be ¡°reconditioned¡± if they are processed with a validated kill step and they are protected from re-contamination after that kill step.

Q. What additional actions can pistachio companies take to alleviate the risk of Salmonella contamination-

A. As I said earlier - this applies to all dried foods. The new GMA Salmonella control guidance and appendix should be mandatory reading for all in the dried food business. I have begun to compile nut-related information at this site including the GMA documents.

There are many things that can be done. I think the GMA document covers the basics very well, and I have taken a section out of that document table of contents that covers all the points I would make:


1. Prevent ingress or spread of Salmonella in the processing facility

2. Enhance the stringency of hygiene practices and controls in the Primary Salmonella Control Area

3. Apply hygienic design principles to building and equipment design

4. Prevent or minimize growth of Salmonella within the facility

5. Establish a raw materials/ingredients control program

6. Validate control measures to inactivate Salmonella

7. Establish procedures for verification of Salmonella controls and corrective actions

We really are in debt to Linda Harris. She has clarified issues that hundreds of articles and countless interactions with government authorities have been unable to clarify. Here are the seven big points we take from this:

1. There is insufficient data. We need to get the various tree nut producers to start funding studies. Perhaps The Center for Produce Safety, all set up and operating, could extend a hand of outreach to the tree nut communities and offer to facilitate the research if the tree nut folks will fund it. We need to understand baselines, comparative risk, to know when we are experiencing the norm and when it is an exception. We need good, hard, scientific data. Which means we need money.

2. If you are going to use roasting as a kill step then every type of roaster must be individually validated. We don¡¯t actually know if a particular type of roasting is a kill step or not unless it is validated.

3. Almonds have had more trouble and so have come to require a treatment validated to achieve a 10,000 log reduction. One possibility is that most of the roasters are already achieving this and so problems have been few on pistachios and we need a formal validation procedure to make sure no one errant roaster is causing a problem. More research in the field might tell us if Salmonella is more or less prevalent on the raw pistachios than it is on raw almonds.

4. We think it fascinating that Dr. Harris does not think, at this point, it is critical to know where in the processing plant Salmonella was found. The FDA and CDFA have not even attempted to trace the Salmonella back to the trees. They assume there is Salmonella on the raw nuts and count on the assumed kill step - roasting - to make the product acceptably safe. So the FDA and CDFA seem to be accepting that the plant will take in Salmonella laced product, which means they would expect to find Salmonella in intake areas and other parts of the plant prior to roasting. It seems Dr. Harris has different expectations.

We asked Dr. Harris if she thought the FDA and CDFA should go back to the fields as they did in the spinach crisis and she gave this answer:

I think you are trying to compare two very different things. In the case of the spinach outbreak - it was outbreak #20 associated with lettuce and leafy greens if I remember correctly. There was strong incentive to attempt to identify a source of the organism with the goal of potentially preventing future outbreaks. In addition, their traceback was able to narrow the investigation to 4 farms (I am going from memory on the number of farms) which helped improve the odds that they might actually find something.

In the almond outbreak in 2000/2001 they were able to identify the processor through microbial sampling, they narrowed the lot to 4 huller/shellers and then found the outbreak isolate at a single huller/sheller and were able to focus the ¡°field¡± work on three farms (and they were able to isolate the organism from the orchards on those farms).

In both cases there was an outbreak. Both investigations involved huge input in terms of human resources and sample analysis even with the targeted analysis of a few farms. In many ways these types of investigations are needle in a hay stack and you really need to keep them as focused as possible so that you don¡¯t spend a lot of money for zero results.

In this case I am not sure it is good use of limited state or federal resources to push this back further. Also, it may not be possible to narrow the investigation to a small number of farms or orchards at this point in time or given the records available.

Obviously resource allocation is always an issue but we would point out that this is not what the FDA and CDFA claimed when we spoke to them. We were told that the distinction had to do with the fact that spinach is consumed raw, without going through a kill step - so no pathogen is acceptable. In the case of pistachios, we were specifically told that the government assumes there is Salmonella on raw nuts and so doing trace back would not yield any important information.

Petting Zoos - Still Dangerous - E. coli O157:H7
Source of Article:
I was reading the CDC¡¯s MMWR article - ¡°Outbreak of Shiga Toxin--Producing Escherichia coli O157 Infection Associated with a Day Camp Petting Zoo --- Pinellas County, Florida, May--June 2007¡± and it struck me how humans seem nearly incapable of learning for the past. We have been tracking this ongoing problem for years now and built as a resource for the Fair and Petting Zoo Industry. But, they seem to be slow learners.
According to the CDC, during 1991--2005, the CDC received reports of 32 outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 that were associated with animals in public settings. Among these, venues in certain outbreaks were not in compliance with NASPHV guidelines, with reported inadequate handwashing facilities, permitted consumption of food or drink in animal areas, unsupervised handwashing, and no signage. During 2006--2008, five E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks related to animal settings were reported (CDC, unpublished data, 2009). NASPHV guidelines include recommendations on handwashing, venue design, animal care and management, risk communication, and oversight needed for animals in public settings.
The article was reported by: KA Alelis, MPH, PE Borkowski, Pinellas County Health Dept; P Fiorella, PhD, J Nasir, J Middaugh, MD, C Blackmore, DVM, Florida Dept of Health. J Keen, DVM, US Dept of Agriculture and Univ of Nebraska. This report is based, in part, on contributions by C Minor, Florida Dept of Health; T Holt, DVM, W Jeter, DVM, J Crews, DVM, and J Carter, Florida Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Svcs.

1. CDC. Compendium of measures to prevent disease associated with animals in public settings, 2007: National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, Inc. (NASPHV). MMWR 2007;56(No. RR-5).
2. Mead PS, Slutsker L, Dietz V, et al. Food-related illness and death in the United States. Emerg Infect Dis 1999;5:607--25.
3. Su C, Brandt LJ. Escherichia coli O157:H7 infection in humans. Ann Intern Med 1995;123:698--714.
4. Keen JE, Elder RO. Isolation of Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli O157 from the surfaces and the oral cavity of finished beef feedlot cattle. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002;220:756--63.
5. CDC. Outbreaks of Escherichia coli O157:H7 associated with petting zoos---North Carolina, Florida, and Arizona, 2004 and 2005. MMWR 2005;54:1277--80.
6. Steinmuller N, Demma L, Bender JB, Eidson M, Angulo FJ. Outbreaks of enteric disease associated with animal contact: not just a foodborne problem anymore. Clin Infect Dis 2006;43:1596--602.
7. CDC. Outbreaks of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections among children associated with farm visits---Pennsylvania and Washington, 2000. MMWR 2001;50:293--7.
8. Crump JA, Sulka AC, Langer AJ, et al. An outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections among visitors to a dairy farm. N Engl J Med 2002;347:555--60.
We still have pending litigation against the State of North Carolina steming from a petting zoo E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in 2004 were several children suffered acute kidney failure caused by Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome.
Posted on April 30, 2009 by E. coli Attorney

Latest Report Shows Salmonella Remains Most Common Cause of Food-borne Outbreaks - EFSA-ECDC
Source: European Food Safety Authority
total of 5,609 outbreaks were reported in 2007, which affected almost 40,000 people and caused 19 deaths. The report is based on a new robust reporting system distinguishing between possible and verified outbreaks. While the data vary considerably between Member States, a high number of reported outbreaks do not necessarily indicate a particular food safety concern but may rather be indicative that an effective national monitoring system is in place.
The report showed that Salmonella continued to be the most frequent cause of food-borne outbreaks accounting for four out of every ten reported outbreaks. Of the 2,201 Salmonella outbreaks reported, 590 could be verified by laboratory detection or by analytical epidemiological evidence. The remainder were also likely to be food-borne outbreaks, but no conclusive evidence was available. These outbreaks affected 8,922 people and caused ten deaths. Eggs or products containing eggs were the foods most frequently involved in the Salmonella outbreaks.
As in the previous year, viruses were the second most frequent cause of food-borne outbreaks. Altogether, food-borne viruses accounted for 668 reported outbreaks (of which 111 were verified) affecting over 3,700 people but causing no deaths. Crustaceans, shellfish, molluscs and buffet meals were reported as the sources of viral outbreaks. Campylobacter followed in the list of most common causes with 461 outbreaks, of which 29 (excluding a large waterborne outbreak) were verified, affecting 244 people. Broiler meat and other meats remained the most common food source of these outbreaks.
B acterial toxins, such as those produced by Bacillus, Clostridium or Staphylococcus bacteria were the reported cause of 458 outbreaks in the EU and 4 deaths. Member States also reported outbreaks caused by other bacteria, such as E. coli, Yersinia and Listeria, as well as parasites. 17 waterborne outbreaks were also reported, affecting 10,912 people altogether.

In 2007, a total of 5,609 food-borne outbreaks were reported by EU Member States, a slight decrease from 2006. Of the total number of outbreaks, 36% (over 2000) were verified by laboratory detection of the pathogen in food or by epidemiological evidence showing a link between human infection and the food source. The specific cause of five of the 19 deaths caused by food-borne outbreaks could not be identified.

The majority of food-borne outbreaks in 2007 were outbreaks affecting more than one household. The contaminated foodstuffs were most commonly consumed in homes or in restaurants, cafes, hotels or other caterers. Other places where outbreaks occurred included schools, canteens and hospitals or medical care facilities.

The data on food-borne outbreaks in 2007 provided by 22 EU Member States varied significantly because national investigation and reporting systems are not harmonised within the EU. Numbers of verified outbreaks reported by Member States do not necessarily reflect different levels of food safety. It is more likely that a high number of reported outbreaks indicates the effectiveness of national monitoring systems. Norway and Switzerland also submitted data for the report.

Salmonella Cases Linked To Pudding At Camp
Source of Article:
Mixer Used To Make Pudding Being Inspected
POSTED: 3:49 pm EDT April 29, 2009
CONCORD, N.H. -- A mixer used to make pudding was the source of salmonella that sickened children at a camp in Madison, N.H., this month, health officials said.
The Stone Environmental Camp voluntarily closed last week because of cases of salmonella diagnosed in camp attendees.
Department of Health and Human Services investigators determined that pudding served to the campers was contaminated with salmonella. The mixer used to prepare the pudding has been removed and is undergoing further testing.
"We are pleased that the source of the illness has been found," said David Freese, executive director of Stone Environmental Camp. "Our first priority, of course, is the safety of our campers, and we will be looking forward to reopening as soon as possible."
The food for the campers is prepared by Purity Springs, where the camp is located. Officials said the mixer is sanitized after each use, but a possible defect may have allowed bacteria to get to an area where it couldn't be cleaned out.
Health officials said Stone Environmental and Purity Springs cooperated with the investigation and worked with the state to locate the source of the problem.
More than 50 students from Woodbury Middle School in Salem, N.H., fell ill at the camp, and health officials determined that some of them had salmonella. Some students who attended the camp the following week also became ill, leading to the temporary closure of the camp.

CDC - Investigation of an Outbreak of 35 Salmonella Saintpaul Infections Linked to Raw Alfalfa Sprouts in Michigan (17), Minnesota (4), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (6), South Dakota (2), Utah (1) - Manufacturers, Suppliers, Restaurants, Grocery Stores Unnamed

Source of Article:

CDC is collaborating with public health officials in many states and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of human infections due to Salmonella serotype Saintpaul.

Since mid-March, 35 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Saintpaul have been reported from 7 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Michigan (17), Minnesota (4), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (6), South Dakota (2), Utah (1), and West Virginia (2). Cases are still being reported, and possible cases are in various stages of laboratory testing, so illnesses may be reported from other states. No deaths have been reported

State and local authorities, CDC, and FDA have linked this outbreak to eating alfalfa sprouts. Most of those who became ill reported eating raw alfalfa sprouts. Some reported eating sprouts at restaurants; others purchased sprouts at the retail level.

The initial investigation has traced the contaminated raw alfalfa sprouts to multiple sprout growers in multiple states. This suggests a problem with the seeds used, as well as the possible failure of the sprout growers involved to appropriately and consistently follow the FDA Sprout Guidance issued in 1999 The guidance recommends an effective seed disinfection treatment immediately before the start of sprouting (such as treating seeds in a 20,000 parts per million calcium hypochlorite solution with agitation for 15 minutes) and regularly testing the water used for every batch of sprouts for Salmonella and E coli O157:H7.

This outbreak appears to be an extension of an earlier outbreak in 2009. In February and March, an outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul infections occurred in Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, and Minnesota. This outbreak was linked to raw alfalfa sprouts produced at a single facility, and the outbreak strain was indistinguishable from that of the more recently reported cases. CDC is also currently working with public health officials in several states and FDA to investigate an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked with eating alfalfa sprouts.

Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12-72 hours after infection. Infection is usually diagnosed by culture of a stool sample. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Although most people recover without treatment, severe infections may occur. Infants, elderly persons, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness. When severe infection occurs, Salmonella may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

Advice for consumers

* Do not eat raw alfalfa sprouts, including sprout blends containing alfalfa sprouts, until further notice. This warning is only for alfalfa sprouts, not other types of sprouts .
* Persons who think they may have become ill from eating raw alfalfa sprouts are advised to consult their health care providers.

REMINDER for high risk populations: CDC and FDA recommend at all times that persons at high risk for complications from Salmonella infection, such as the elderly, young children, and those with compromised immune systems, not eat raw sprouts. For such persons who continue to eat sprouts, FDA recommends cooking them (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2002 consumer advisory, available at

Posted on April 28, 2009 by Salmonella Attorney

Lasers used to detect melamine
Source of Article:
4/30/2009-With equipment readily available to health officials and businesses, a Purdue University researcher has found a way to detect trace amounts of melamine in infant formula. Using infrared lasers and light spectroscopy methods, Lisa Mauer, an Associate Professor of food science, was able to detect melamine in baby formula at one part per million in about five minutes or less. Melamine, a synthetic chemical used in plastics and other products, has been found in baby formula and other milk-based products imported from China.
Mauer obtained unadulterated samples of powdered formula and measured the samples using near- and mid-infrared spectroscopy techniques. Infrared laser beams reflected off the sample and toward a detector, which calculated how much of the laser's energy was absorbed by the sample and created an absorbance spectrum that was unique to the sample.
The same data were collected for pure melamine. When the formula was mixed with melamine and analyzed, the new spectrum was compared to that of the unadulterated formula, showing the concentration of melamine in the sample.
Federal guidelines allow for only one part per million of melamine in infant formula and up to two and a half parts per million in other products. Having an inexpensive and quick test would make it easier to test imported or domestically made products for melamine.

The research is published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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