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5/23
2009
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White House takes food safety online
Source of Article: http://www.oregonlive.com/
by Lynne Terry, The Oregonian
Thursday May 21, 2009, 12:18 PM
The White House has just taken its concern about food safety to the Internet, setting up a Web site to keep consumers informed and let them weigh in as officials debate what changes are needed.
The sleek, new site, www.foodsafetyworkinggroup.gov, provides information on the latest activities of food safety group set up by the administration.
The group, led by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, will come up with recommendations for President Obama on ways to improve food safety.
At a working group session last week, Vilsack said the country needs to have a consistent approach to food safety, which now relies on a fractured system made up of myriad federal, state and local agencies.
He also stressed the importance of having a robust system for detecting outbreaks and reacting to them.
Critics say that more emphasis should be placed on preventing outbreaks in the first place, for example by requiring food producers and processors to enact uniform sanitation and prevention practices.
Congress is considering several proposals to bolster food safety, including one bill which would split the Food and Drug Administration and create a separate agency responsible for food.
While the debate is under way, the public can weigh in through links on the Web site. It provides an online form and welcomes comments through the White House's Facebook page and via Twitter. Consumers can also sign up for email updates.
America's food safety system may still date to the turn of the 20th century, but the debate is taking place on a state-of-the-art platform.

Nevada Food Poisoning Victim Files Salmonella Lawsuit
Source of Article: http://www.earthtimes.org/
Posted : Wed, 20 May 2009 19:11:30 GMT
RENO, Nev. - (Business Wire) National food safety law firm Pritzker Olsen filed suit on May 19, 2009 in United States District Court for the District of Nevada, on behalf of their client, Shirley Shultz, arising out of the multistate outbreak of Salmonella poisoning from spices manufactured by Union International Food Company of Union City, California (Case No. 3:09-cv-259).
The spices contained Salmonella Rissen ? a very rare but potent strain of Salmonella. As a result of the Salmonella poisoning, Ms. Shultz, a 77-year-old from Dayton, Nevada, was severely sickened and spent over a week in the hospital.
Union International Food Company has since ceased production of, and recalled, its contaminated spices. To date, the company¡¯s products have been linked to 60 cases of salmonella in California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

Ms. Shultz¡¯s attorney, Eric Hageman of Pritzker Olsen, said, ¡°Food safety has to be a much, much higher priority than it seems to be for too many companies. There is simply no way this product ever should have left the manufacturer. Our lawsuit aims to get to the bottom of this, so that outbreaks like this don¡¯t keep happening.¡±

Pritzker Olsen has considerable experience and a reputation for success in representing Salmonella outbreak victims and their families. The firm has been involved in virtually every national foodborne illness outbreak and has collected large sums on behalf of people injured or killed by adulterated food. In addition, the firm is devoted to educating the public about food safety issues and advocating for badly needed food safety legislation and increased funding for the federal, state and local agencies charged with protecting our food and enforcing food safety laws.

For more information, visit http://www.pritzkerlaw.com or contact Pritzker Olsen law firm at (612) 338-0202. Pritzker Olsen offices are located at Plaza VII, Suite 2950, 45 South Seventh Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402.


Salmonella lawsuit still possible

Source of Article: http://www.alamosanews.com/
Posted: Thursday, May 21st, 2009
Claimants have two years to file
By RUTH HEIDE
ALAMOSA ? Legal actions resulting from salmonella illnesses, death and business losses last year still threaten the City of Alamosa whose water system was linked to the 2008 outbreak.
Contaminants in the water supply led to more than 400 reported salmonella cases, about two dozen hospitalizations and one death, Romeo resident Larry Lee Velasquez, Sr., 55.
City Attorney Erich Schwiesow told the Alamosa City Council during its meeting on Wednesday that he received communication recently from the law firm representing most of the people who indicated last year they might take legal action against the city.
The Marler Clark law firm out of Seattle, Wash., is handling most of the 40-plus claims for damages ranging from $100 to $1 million that the city received last year. None of the claims have yet turned into a lawsuit but claimants have up to two years from the March 2008 incident to file a lawsuit.
The claims being handled by Marler Clark, in addition to a $1 million claim from Velasquez¡¯s widow, involve claims for 14 minor children and seek upwards of $50,000 in damages per claimant.
Five other claims were submitted from folks not represented by Marler Clark - two family claims and three business losses attributed to the water crisis.
Schwiesow said in talking with the lead attorney on the phone recently, the attorney told Schwiesow he hoped the city would look at the information the firm had sent the city and think about paying off some of these people.
¡°I told him I did not believe there¡¯s negligence on the part of the city,¡± Schwiesow said. He said the attorney suggested otherwise.
City Manager Nathan Cherpeski told the city council that the city¡¯s insurance carrier Travelers Insurance would have to agree to any settlement the council would make.
Schwiesow said procedurally, ¡°The ball is in the claimants¡¯ court to get something rolling. There¡¯s been no lawsuit filed, and Travelers would need to be consulted on anything.¡±
Cherpeski said Travelers could choose to settle without the city¡¯s permission but ¡°we can¡¯t settle without theirs.¡±
In a drinking water report from the City of Alamosa this week the city told citizens that the new water treatment plant put into service last year to meet new arsenic standards and an ongoing enhanced testing program of Alamosa¡¯s municipal supply would ensure that an outbreak like salmonella will not occur again.
¡°The source of the contamination has not been determined and the investigation continues [to] identify possible ways in which it could have occurred,¡± the city report stated.

FDA¡¯s 2010 budget proposal focuses on food safety

Source of Article: http://members.ift.org/IFT/Pubs/Newsletters/weekly/nl_051309.htm

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requesting a budget of $3.2 billion to protect and promote the public health as part of the President¡¯s fiscal year (FY) 2010 budget?a 19% increase over the current FDA fiscal year budget. One of the major initiatives of the budget falls under ¡°Protecting America¡¯s Food Supply,¡± which has a proposed budget of $259.3 million. The goal of this effort is to protect American consumers by preventing intentional and unintentional contamination. It would focus on foreign and domestic sources of ingredients, components, and finished products at all points in the supply chain, including their eventual use by the American public. Within this initiative, the FDA proposes to collect a total of $94.4 million in new user fees to register food facilities and increase food inspections, issue food and feed export certificates, and re-inspect food facilities that fail to meet the FDA¡¯s safety standards.

FDA: pistachio plant knew some nuts were tainted
Source of Article: http://www.mercurynews.com/breakingnews/ci_12430624
The Associated Press
Posted: 05/22/2009 02:00:10 PM PDT
Updated: 05/22/2009 02:17:51 PM PDT
FRESNO, Calif.?Food safety inspectors say a California plant at the center of a salmonella scare knew some of its pistachios were tainted but continued shipping nuts for another six months.
The Food and Drug Administration issued a sweeping national warning in March for consumers to avoid eating pistachios after concerns surfaced about nuts from Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, Inc.
In an inspection report released this week, FDA officials said Setton first got results in October showing some of its roasted nuts tested positive for salmonella. But, officials say, it didn't make proper adjustments to its processing procedures and kept shipping out nuts.
Officials haven't said whether Setton will face sanctions.
A Setton spokeswoman didn't immediately return calls seeking comment Friday.
No illnesses have been confirmed as a result of contaminated pistachios.

Food Safety Working Group holds first Listening Session
The U.S. White House Food Safety Working Group held its first Listening Session on May 13 led by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. In consultation with its partners on Capitol Hill, the Working Group is working on a set of principles and guidelines for improving food safety. The White House Listening Session was an opportunity to engage stakeholders in a conversation to help shape these principles.
The Listening Session included remarks from Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of Agriculture (USDA) Tom Vilsack, the co-chairs of the Working Group, followed by smaller group breakout sessions with Administration and Congressional staff and stakeholders to discuss how to address major challenges and opportunities in this area.
At the Session, Sebelius stated, ¡°We know that change begins with one word: prevention. Today¡¯s food safety system responds to crises. We need a system that prevents contamination in the first place. Building this system is a responsibility we all share.¡±
Concerning the state of the nation¡¯s food safety system, Vilsack said, ¡°This issue will be one of USDA¡¯s highest priorities. We are in the midst of reviewing all of our statutory authorities, as well as administrative and regulatory steps we can take, to ensure that our actions support public health and consumer safety to the fullest extent.¡±

BSE case confirmed in Canada
Source of Article: www.meatingplace.com
By Rita Jane Gabbett on 5/18/2009
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced it has confirmed bovine spongiform encephalopathy in an 80-month-old dairy cow from Alberta.
In a statement, CFIA said no part of the animal's carcass entered the human food or animal feed systems.
This case was detected through the national BSE surveillance program. The animal's birth farm has been identified and an investigation is underway.
Canada remains a Controlled Risk country for BSE, as recognized by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). "Accordingly, this case should not affect exports of Canadian cattle or beef," the agency stated.
Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF), which has long opposed U.S imports of Canadian cattle for fear of BSE exposure, noted that this cow would have been born in 2002, making it the tenth BSE-positive cow in Canada young enough to be exported to the United States.
Since 2007, USDA has allowed imports of Canadian cattle over 30 months of age as long as they were born after March 1, 1999.

Chasing E. coli
Source of Article: www.meatingplace.com
(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)
Two recent ground beef recalls as a result of FSIS routine testing www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/RC_RO1_2009_SP.pdf reminded me that the perception of food safety is every bit as important as reality when it comes to consumers' buying practices.
The latest recall was for a very small amount of product, and, as usual, no illnesses have been reported from the product. But as long as producers roll the dice and ship ground beef that has been tested by FSIS before getting the results, the consumers will continue to get regular reminders that eating ground beef carries risk with it.
Thus far this year, I can only find evidence of two ground beef recalls, and both as a result of FSIS testing. In 2008, it appears to me that there were 8 recalls of ground beef as a result of industry or FSIS testing with no illnesses related to the product. In 2007 there were 21 recalls, 10 because of testing, and in 2006 there were only 8 recalls, all as a result of testing with no illnesses related. So it could be said that so far in 2009 and in all of 2006, there would have been no ground beef recalls if test and hold had been practiced by all in the industry; and therefore no resultant bad publicity.
In a presentation at a conference organized by FSIS in April 2008, Dr Robert Tauxe of the CDC gave a very interesting presentation on the demographics of who gets infected with E Coli, and what caused the illness www.fsis.usda.gov/PPT/Tauxe_040908.ppt

Tauxe reported that up until 2000, ground beef was the culprit in 100% of E. coli 0157:H7 outbreaks from which the source was discovered. In 2006 that number was down to 25% of outbreaks that had ground beef as the source. He also said that only 33% of E coli illnesses are related to ground beef, and that 34% are related to produce.
I do realize that holding is a significant problem for the small grinder, but FSIS is doing less testing in the small and very small plants now, reducing the burden somewhat. So perhaps it is time for industry to share thoughts and ideas on how to economically test and hold and therefore reduce the amount of bad press that comes with recalls without related illnesses? We can start that sharing process right here, right now.

Food safety improvements in beef slaughter and carcass chilling
Source of Article: www.meatingplace.com
(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)
On May 4, 2009 USDA¡¯s Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a Directive on verifying sanitary dressing and process control procedures in slaughter operations of cattle (http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FSISDirectives/6410.1.pdf). This Directive which goes into effect on June 1, 2009 is intended to assure that the beef slaughter process includes effective microbial interventions that reduce the risk of microbiological contamination on beef carcasses. It will certainly force beef packers to rethink their pathogen control strategies.

Since before the 1993 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, much of the emphasis on beef safety has focused on slaughter interventions. This approach makes sense because at this point in the process, all of the microbiological contamination is limited to the surface of the carcass. The meat inside the carcass is completely free of bacteria until it is contaminated during fabrication. The major vectors of contamination during beef slaughter are hide removal, evisceration and the slaughter environment. Much can be done to control contamination from each of these vectors during the slaughter process. Hide removal and evisceration can be done in a sanitary manner and any visible contaminants can be removed using steam vacuuming. Most beef slaughter plants utilize a combination of thermal pasteurization and organic acid treatments to further reduce microbiological contamination. Environmental contamination can be controlled by treating the air using low levels of vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide.

Ideally, this system should completely address microbiological contamination. It has resulted in improvements over the past several years, but unfortunately, problems with microbiological contamination on beef carcasses still exist. I see two potential problems with slaughter based interventions. (1) The time available to apply interventions is limited. Thermal and chemical interventions may not have the required residence time to achieve optimum effectiveness. And (2) the carcass chilling process may contribute to microbiological growth if carcasses are not properly spaced and adequately chilled.

Perhaps the most effective point in the process for an additional intervention is during the chilling process. There is ample time for an intervention since carcass chilling usually requires 24-48 hours. An effective intervention applied for a sufficient length of time may allow for the validated pasteurization of carcass surfaces. Hopefully, USDA¡¯s focus on slaughter interventions and process control will accelerate the development of post-slaughter pasteurization technologies. If this can be achieved, the beef industry could finally claim victory over the problem of E. coli O157:H7.

Testing for Norovirus and Enterovirus is becoming increasingly important and commonplace
Source of Article: http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=95627
WEBWIRE ? Friday, May 22, 2009
High profile outbreaks associated with the viruses have kept EMSL Analytical scientists busy.
Pollution of rivers and recreational waters by sewage and animal fecal waste has led to a number of high profile human gastrointestinal infections in recent years. Many of these same contaminants can be passed from human to human by direct contact with secretions from an infected person or by contacting contaminated surfaces.
Monitoring environmental microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses is an important method for the prevention of human diseases. Frequent outbreaks of the two viruses, enterovirus and norovirus; have caused particularly serious environmental health concerns in numerous high profile cases.
According to the CDC, ¡°Noroviruses are highly contagious and as few as 10 viral particles may be sufficient to infect an individual.¡± Enteroviruses are believed to cause between 30 and 50 million infections in the United States alone each year.
EMSL Analytical, a leading environmental testing laboratory, has been busy utilizing advanced PCR technologies to test environmental samples for the viruses. Advances in testing methods have produced several PCR-based methods that now do not require animal cultures for analysis, improving the analytical process.

¡°In the PCR-based rapid detection methods, virus particles in water samples are captured on aluminum chloride coated negative charged HA membranes,¡± reported Charlie Li, Ph.D., PCR Laboratory Director at EMSL Analytical. ¡°The viruses are then eluted out and concentrated using ultra-filtration. Viral RNA is then isolated from the eluted virus. Using a one-step reverse transcription real-time PCR, virus RNA are converted to DNA, then detected with a sensitive and specific real-time PCR.¡±

Clearly, the tests provide an approach for rapid monitoring of the viruses and other additional human viral pathogens. To learn more about norovirus or enterovirus contact EMSL Analytical at 800-220-3675 or visit www.EMSL.com.

Is food safety a consumer¡¯s responsibility?
Source of Article: http://members.ift.org/IFT/Pubs/Newsletters/weekly/nl_052009.htm
The International Food Information Council (IFIC) has just released its 2009 Food & Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes toward Food, Nutrition, & Health?a nationally representative, quantitative study designed to gain insights from consumers on various food safety, nutrition, and health-related topics. Due to the number and relevance of food safety issues that have occurred in the past year, a key finding of the report deals with consumers¡¯ perception of food safety and the precautions they take. Anthony Flood, IFIC¡¯s Director of Food Safety Communications, explores how consumers are taking a more active role in food safety in the latest ePerspective post. Who do you believe is responsible for food safety in the U.S.? Should consumers take extra precautions in light of recent outbreaks? Join the discussion by visiting Food Technology¡¯s ePerspective today!

Cantaloupe Plant Free of Salmonella
Source of Article: http://www.newsinferno.com/archives/6306
Date Published: Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Earlier this week we reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that L&M Companies, Inc. of Raleigh, North Carolina, issued a three-state recall of its whole cantaloupes because of a possible health risk due to concerns of Salmonella contamination. Now, the Packer reports that investigators have been unable to locate additional Salmonella at L&M.

The FDA discovered Salmonella from a test on one farm bin scheduled for distribution to the packinghouse, said The Packer. ABC Research Corporation of Gainesville, Florida?L&M¡¯s third-party auditor?conducted 18 more tests for Salmonella, which all came back negative for the pathogen, according to The Packer.

The L&M Companies recall involved one lot of whole cantaloupes; no illnesses have been reported, to date. The whole cantaloupes were sold between May 10-15, 2009 in Wal-Mart Supercenter Stores in North Carolina and South Carolina as well as in the Wal-Mart Supercenter Store located at 315 Furr Street in South Hill, Virginia. Consumers who purchased whole cantaloupes from these Wal-Mart stores during this period were previously alerted to not consume them, and to destroy the product.

The recall comes after a cantaloupe at a farm from which L&M Companies sources its products tested positive for Salmonella. The Packer reported that L&M?which grows its own melons and sources from other contract growers in the Southeast?stopped shipments from this farm; the grower continues to investigate the cause of the problem. The grower, Pass Line Farms of Immokalee, Florida, shipped 73 bins, which The Packer explained, is a bit more than one load. Pass Line shipped the melons to Wal-Mart distribution centers in North and South Carolina, added The Packer.

The Salmonella pathogen can cause serious, sometimes fatal Salmonellosis infections in young children; weak or elderly people; and those with weakened immune systems, such as patients undergoing chemotherapy or who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and other immune system compromising diseases.

Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain within 12 to 72 hours of contamination. Generally, the illness lasts a week, but, in some, hospitalization is required because the infection may have spread to the blood stream and other body sites, producing more severe illnesses. Without treatment, severe cases of Salmonella poisoning can result in arterial infections?such as infected aneurysms?endocarditis, arthritis, and death. Some Salmonella bacteria are resistant to antibiotics, largely due to the use of antibiotics to promote the growth of feed animals.

Salmonella is usually found in food contaminated with animal feces and is a group of bacteria that passes from the feces of people or animals to other people or animals, causing contamination when food is improperly stored or handled and when preparers do not wash their hands or sanitize implements involved in food storage.

Salmonella is the most frequently reported cause of food-related outbreaks of stomach illness worldwide and Salmonella poisoning can lead to Reiter¡¯s Syndrome, a difficult-to-treat reactive arthritis characterized by severe joint pain, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination.

Girl Dies From E. coli O157:H7 in Cleveland ? Likely Linked to Other E.coli O157:H7 illnesses in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois Linked to Hamburger Produced by Valley Meats
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
The Cleveland Ohio Health Department said moments ago that a 6 or 7-year-old girl died from E. coli O157:H7 last weekend and that the death (likely due to Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome) appears linked to E. coli O157:H7 illnesses in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois that have led FSIS and CDC health investigators to ground beef produced by Valley Meats, LLC of Coal Valley, Illinois.

According to Misti Crane of THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH:
The Ohio Department of Health contacted the U.S. Department of Agriculture with a report of three genetically linked cases of E. coli O157:H7 in the Cleveland area earlier this month. All three were sickened in mid-April, but do not have any connection to one another, said ODH spokesman Kristopher Weiss. They were classified as a cluster when the genetic fingerprints of the bacteria that had infected each person matched, he said. The illnesses were then linked to products containing meat from Valley Meats. The people who were sickened were a 3-year-old girl, a 24-year-old man and a 71-year-old man. Two of the three were hospitalized and all have since recovered, Weiss said.

Leila Atassi and Harlan Spector of the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER are also covering the story:
Health officials did not identify the girl or provide details of the circumstances that led to her death. But Cleveland Health Director Matthew Carroll said the case might be the latest in a cluster of E. coli infections traced to Valley Meats LLC, of Coal Valley, Ill.

The company pulled nearly 100,000 pounds of hamburger patties after a U.S. Department of Agriculture investigation confirmed that three Cleveland-area residents were infected by eating the same tainted ground beef. Carroll said two local restaurants, one of them in Cuyahoga County, might also be involved and will be investigated.

The three who grew ill - a 3-year-old girl, a 24-year-old man and a 71-year-old man - have recovered, said Kristopher Weiss, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Health. Health officials determined the cases originated from a common source when they found matches among the genetic fingerprints of the bacteria that infected each person, Weiss said. The state reported its findings to the USDA on May 13. The brands included in the recall are 3-S, Grillmaster, J and B, Klub, Thick 'n Savory, Ultimate, and more than a dozen generic brands.

A few weeks ago I wrote "E. coli O157:H7 Season is Nearly Upon Us - Will it be 2005 and 2006 or 2007 and 2008?"
From 1993 - 2003 we represented over 1,000 people sickened and families who suffered losses due to E. coli O157:H7-tainted hamburger. From 2003 - spring of 2007, the number of ill and the number of recalls dropped significantly. In fact, in 2006, less that 200,000 pounds of E. coli-tainted hamburger was recalled. However, since the Spring of 2007 nearly 42,000,000 pounds of hamburger has been recalled. Clearly, there is a problem. Earlier this year I wrote "Open Letter to a New Under Secretary for Food Safety - FSIS - The End of E. coli Conservatism," in part to start a discussion about why we are again seeing E. coli illnesses and deaths and in part to encourage the new administration to act. The new administration is taking new steps, but much more needs to be done.

Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Linked to Valley Meats in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois Spurs Ground Beef Recall
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
E. coli O157:H7 illnesses in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois have led health investigators to ground beef produced by Valley Meats, LLC of Coal Valley, IL. The company has initiated a recall of 95,898 pounds of ground beef product that is possibly contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.
¡°E. coli in ground beef has been so prevalent in the last two years that it¡¯s estimated that the consumer has a one in 400 chance of buying a product that might make them very sick,¡± said food safety advocate and attorney William Marler. ¡°In 2006, it seemed that the meat industry had gotten a handle on recalls, but with 41 million pounds recalled since then, that is clearly not the case.¡±
Many benign strains of E. coli (Escherichia coli) live in the intestinal tracts of humans and other mammals. Infection with one of the toxic strains, most notably E. coli O157:H7, can cause serious illness, organ failure, and even death. E. coli is often contracted by consuming food or beverage that has been contaminated by animal (especially cattle) manure. The majority of foodborne E. coli outbreaks has been traced to ground beef; however leafy vegetables, sprouts, unpasteurized dairy or juice products or even water can become tainted with the pathogen.

The first symptom of E. coli infection is the onset of abdominal pain and severe cramps, followed within 24 hours by diarrhea, often bloody. This is hemorrhagic colitis, and it typically occurs within 2 to 5 days of ingestion of E. coli; however the incubation period?the time between the ingestion of E. coli bacteria and the onset of illness?may be as broad as 1 to 10 days.
¡°If you¡¯re experiencing these symptoms, it is critical to visit your healthcare provider, because an E. coli infection can make you very, very sick,¡± Marler continued. ¡°In some instances E. coli infection can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a cause of acute kidney failure, so make sure you know what you¡¯re dealing with.¡±
Marler Clark has represented victims of every major food borne illness outbreak since 1993. The firm¡¯s attorneys have litigated high-profile food poisoning cases against such companies as ConAgra, Wendy¡¯s, Chili¡¯s, Chi-Chi¡¯s, and Jack in the Box, securing over $500,000,000 for their clients. Marler Clark currently represents thousands of victims of outbreaks traced to ground beef, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, peanut butter, and spinach, as well as other foods.

Salmonella Infections May Be Linked to Queso Fresco
Source of Article: http://www.kutv.com/
Last Update: 5/21 4:21 pm

(Salt Lake City) - Public health agencies in Utah, in coordination with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, have been investigating a cluster of Salmonella Newport cases in which it appears that the common link is queso fresco, a Mexican-style soft cheese. Officials don't believe the contaminated cheese is being produced or sold commercially. Epidemiologic investigations point to queso fresco that is being made in private homes and then either sold to neighbors or given away. A sample of queso fresco produced and distributed by a non-commercial, private source was obtained by Utah Department of Agriculture and Food and tested at the Utah Public Health Laboratory. Salmonella Newport was recovered from the sample.

Public health officials are still uncertain how the cheese is getting contaminated with Salmonella bacteria, but believe the cheese is either being contaminated from ingredients used to make the queso fresco (such as unpasteurized/raw milk), or from cross-contamination of the cheese (e.g. through using a bowl to prepare or hold raw chicken, and then using that same bowl without cleaning it to make the cheese).

Health officials understand that many people enjoy making food from scratch and sharing it with others, especially in these tough economic times. "I am sure that those who make queso fresco in the home and share it with those in the neighborhood don't intend to make other people sick. It is important that we teach people about proper food handling practices, and that it is against the law to sell privately produced products door-to-door, if they are potentially hazardous," stated Marilee Poulson, a Foodborne Disease Epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health.

While this current investigation is focused on individuals infected with Salmonella bacteria, public health officials warn that other dangerous bacteria can also be spread through contaminated queso fresco, such as Listeria, Campylobacter, E. coli, and Brucella. Public health agencies in Utah are currently investigating another cluster of illnesses due to the bacteria Campylobacter which may be associated with contaminated cheese made with raw or unpasteurized milk.

There is no way to detect Salmonella or other bacteria in food without laboratory testing; it cannot be detected by sight, taste, or smell. Salmonella bacteria are commonly transmitted by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Salmonellosis can also be spread by direct contact with an infected person or animal. Symptoms include: headache, stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and almost always fever; symptoms last between three and seven days.

Making homemade queso fresco can be done safely by following a few simple steps that will help prevent bacterial contamination:

Use only pasteurized milk to make queso fresco. Queso fresco made from milk that has not been pasteurized can cause severe illness. This is especially dangerous for children, the elderly, and pregnant women. Eating queso fresco made with pasteurized milk will help pregnant women protect themselves and their unborn babies from getting a serious infection.

We do not recommend that you use unpasteurized milk to make queso fresco. However, if you choose to do so, it may be less dangerous to use milk from a licensed seller. To obtain a list of licensed sellers of unpasteurized milk, call Utah Department of Agriculture and Food at 801-538-7156.

Keep milk refrigerated. Use proper food handling practices to avoid cross-contamination when making queso fresco, such as:

Separate raw meats from other foods
Use separate countertop space, cutting boards, utensils, etc. for raw meats and
cooked meat or other raw or prepared foods;
Don't place food in a dish (e.g. a plate or bowl) that previously held raw meats or raw eggs without first cleaning that dish with soap and water.
Don't buy queso fresco from street vendors or door-to-door sellers.


If you buy queso fresco, make sure it comes from the refrigerated area of the grocery store or market, and that it is sealed and labeled for commercial sale.

If you have questions or would like more information, contact the Utah Department of Health at 801-538-6191 or the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food at 801-538-7156, or visit www.health.utah.gov/epi.

New sanitiser to boost food hygiene standards
Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/
By Mike Stones, 22-May-2009
A new water-based surface and utensil sanitiser promises to provide UK food and drink processors with a highly effective, safe, low cost and environmentally-friendly means of maintaining secure hygiene standards, claims its manufacturer Radical.
The Radical Water System uses naturally occurring biocides, generated by oxidation, to combat the harmful micro-organisms that can cause salmonella, listeria, e-coli and other common food hygiene related illnesses, says the company. It is effective against bacteria, viruses, yeasts and moulds and works by running a powerful electric current through water to create unstable molecules of oxygen. These are said to collide with micro-organisms killing them on contact.
Since the system kills by collision, the micro-organisms cannot develop a resistance which can be a risk with chemical-based sanitisers such as chlorine.

Sanitising system

Mark Fielding, Radical¡¯s managing director said: ¡°In response to the ever-increasing demands placed upon the food industry, we have developed our revolutionary technology to create an unrivalled sanitising system. The Radical Water System is not only extremely effective in providing a long-term guard against unwanted micro-organisms, it does so in a way which keeps costs down for the manufacturer whilst at the same time being safe and environmentally-friendly.¡±

Field trials and tests with Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association have proved the effectiveness of the system in delivering immediate sanitisation and that regular use over time reduces harmful background micro-organisms, ensuring a consistently safe and hygienic environment, he added.

In using only naturally occurring substances which do not impact on the environment, the Radical Water System dispenses with the need for chemicals. The ozonated water created by the process is safe to handle, leaves no taints or residues, and breaks down after use into water and oxygen, claimed the company.

Production efficiencies

It is also said to involve less downtime than chemical-based sanitisers resulting in improved production efficiencies. Unlike chemical sanitisers, there are no hazardous substances involved and therefore no COSHH requirements.

The system can be incorporated into the manufacturer¡¯s existing infrastructure and requires only water and electricity to operate. Low running costs helps the Radical Water System generate cost savings after just six to 12 months, claimed the company.

X-rays may offer benefits to help reduce risk of foodborne illness from oysters
Source of Article: http://www.pediatricsupersite.com/view.aspx?rid=39999
PHILADELPHIA ? X-ray irradiation may be beneficial in reducing the rate of foodborne illness associated with the consumption of oysters, according to results of a study presented at the 109th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, held here this week.
Barakat Mahmoud, MD, from Mississippi State University in Pascagoula, and his colleagues, studied the effects of the RS 2400 X-ray irradiator (Rad Source Technologies) on reducing Vibrio vulnificus in half shell and whole shell oysters.

V. vulnificus is associated with the highest fatality rate among foodborne pathogens in the United States, about 40% to 50%, according to CDC data. Mahmoud and his colleagues said this high rate indicates that the current methods to prevent V. vulnificus ? including high temperature, freezing, pasteurization, vacuum packaging, UV light, electrolyzed water and hydrostatic high pressure processing ? are not adequate to prevent infection.

To test the efficacy of X-rays, the researchers first inoculated both half shell oysters and whole shell live oysters with a mixed culture of three V. vulnificus strains. The pure culture and the inoculated oysters were then treated with 0.1, 0.5, 0.75, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0 and 3.0 kGy X-ray at 22¡ÆC and 55% relative humidity. Following this, the researchers measured surviving bacterial populations in the pure culture and the inoculated oysters.

The results demonstrated a reduction of V. vulnificus of more than one million cells per gram with 1.0 kGy X-ray doses in half shell oysters. In whole shell live oysters, this same reduction was achieved with 3.0 kGy X-ray doses. The results also showed that the inherent microflora in the oysters were significantly reduced to less than 10 cells per gram.

The researchers added that X-ray irradiation may offer further benefit because, unlike some other methods to reduce the spread of foodborne illness in oysters, the X-ray treatment did not kill the oysters. ? by Jay Lewis


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