Food-borne Illnesses Underreported
Williams says to get better
data, local health authorities must do a better job of identifying causes.
Outbreaks of Food-borne Diseases
2008 Aunt Mid¡¯s Lettuce E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak Linked to Santa Barbara
Over the ensuing days it became clear that the outbreak was not limited to MSU. While at MSU, the reported number of E. coli O157:H7 cases had risen to 18 (3 confirmed, 15 probable), there were also a reported 12 cases at Lenawee County Jail (5 confirmed, 7 probable). In fact, by September 29, a total of 26 confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7 with the same genetic fingerprint had been reported to MDCH, from eight Michigan counties. Additionally, nine individuals in Illinois and three from the Province of Ontario had also been identified with the same genetic strain of E. coli O157:H7.
By this point, there was also strong epidemiological evidence linking the outbreak to institutional size, bagged iceberg lettuce. Two separate case-control studies had been conducted by MDCH at MSU and the Illinois Department of Public Health, and both implicated iceberg lettuce as the source of contamination. As a result, the MDA coordinated a traceback investigation of iceberg lettuce and found that the common supplier of all iceberg lettuce to MSU, the Lenawee County Jail, a restaurant in Illinois, as well as other foodservice locations identified by ill individuals, was Fresh-Pak Inc., distributed under the name, ¡°Aunt Mid¡¯s.¡±
The MDA subsequently conducted product and environmental sample testing at Aunt Mid¡¯s. Though the tests did not find E. coli, testing was on current products, not on products from the outbreak timeframe. Lettuce from the outbreak timeframe was not available for testing during the investigation due to the perishable nature of the product.
Meanwhile, the toll of people affected by the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak had increased. By October 3rd, Michigan had identified 34 cases in nine counties with the same PFGE pattern by two enzymes. This included: nine students from MSU (Ingham County), five inmates at the Lenawee County Jail, three students at the University of Michigan and one in Washtenaw County, five in Macomb County, five in Wayne County, three in Kent County, and one each in St. Clair, Oakland, and Genesee Counties. The onset dates of symptoms of these confirmed genetically linked E. coli O157:H7 patients ranged from September 8 to 19.
The epidemiological investigation
by MDA, which had already identified Aunt Mid¡¯s as the common supplier
of iceberg lettuce, soon revealed the likely origin of the contamination
Using illness dates, ship dates, and delivery dates, the MDA was able
to narrow the origin to California. The California Department of Public
Health then assisted the investigation by surveying 15 possible supplier
farms. By October 10, Michigan and California had both traced the lettuce
supplied to the initial cases to Santa Barbara Farms in Santa Barbara,
focus on food safety and technology
Anna Resurreccion, professor Georgia University, won the Bor S Luh International Award after co-ordinating the work of academics, government officials and industry representatives to improve peanut processing technologies in Southeast Asia. Her team developed a process to eliminate the potent carcinogen aflatoxin from peanut products which was used in the Philippines and Thailand. The research was also used to develop and commercialise products such as vitamin A-fortified peanut butter to remedy severe nutrient deficiencies of people living in the Philippines.
Manuel Castillo, assistant research professor at the Kentucky University, landed the Samuel Cate Prescott Award. This was after developing novel sensors and measuring devices that help food manufacturers to improve the process control, production efficiency and quality control of their products. Castillo also developed a lab-scale milk coagulation tester that is able to accurately measure the milk clotting of rennet to International Dairy Federation standards.
George Flick, university distinguished professor at Virginia Tech, won the Myron Solberg Award for research on seafood pasteurisation. His work led to the development of a process used worldwide that allows seafood to be safely stored for several years.
The South Atlantic Area Food Science Research Unit of North Carolina State University received the Food Technology Industrial Achievement Award. This was in recognition of the process it developed for continuous flow microwave sterilisation of low acid food and biomaterials.
Rakesh Singh, professor and head of food the Food Science department at Georgia University won the Elizabeth Fleming Stier Award. His research revealed the role of reaction kinetics in predicting the quality of processed foods. This has helped in the development of aseptically produced products such as banana puree, orange juice and soymilk.
Daryl Lund, emeritus professor Wisconsin University, received the Nicholas Appert Award for his work on the fouling of food contact services and microwavable food processing.
Meanwhile, Kathryn Kotula,
senior investigative food scientist, Investigative Food Services, won
the Carl R Fellers Award for her work advising companies involved in
litigation and arbitration cases concerning outbreaks of food-borne
illnesses and product spoilage.
Clearly, there are competitive and consumer benefits associated with maintaining a large number of meat and poultry companies. Despite trends in concentration, there are still several thousand active meat processing companies in the United States. These companies provide tens of thousands of jobs and in many cases anchor the communities where they are located. Consumers enjoy a wide variety of products because the industry is not limited to a handful of large companies.
Small businesses will remain viable only if technology providers make the effort to engineer food safety technologies so they are not limited to large volume plants and provisions are made that make necessary food safety innovations affordable. The federal government and state governments could make technologies more affordable by providing tax credits and other incentives for small businesses that make food safety related investments.
Compromising on food safety
is not an option. Meat and poultry products must be safe for consumers
regardless of whether products are produced by the largest company or
the smallest company. By helping small businesses implement safe food
processes and stay in business, everyone benefits.
risk in short term from 4-methylbenzophenone, says EFSA
An EFSA spokesman told FoodProductionDaily.com: ¡°We were not aware that 4MBP was being widely used in food packaging before it was flagged up in March. If companies continue to use it, then a more in-depth risk assessment may be needed.¡±
The body carried out the risk assessment after the spotlight fell on the chemical following a spate of contamination incidents earlier this year. In February, the German authorities notified the European Commission (EC) of the migration of 4MBP from packaging into certain cereal products at a concentration of 798 micrograms/kg. The Belgian Authorities also provided data later the same month, reporting concentrations of the chemical in cereals up to 3729 ¥ìg/kg.
The EC¡¯s Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) subsequently set a maximum level for the presence of 4MBP at 0.6mg/kg of food.
EFSA¡¯s CEF panel, which examines food contact materials, reached its latest conclusion after re-assessing the toxicological data on the similar substance, benzophenone. The panel was also tasked with evaluating whether the existing Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) for benzophenone and hydroxybenzophenone could also be applied to 4MBP. It also examined the case for re-assessing the TDI for benzophenone and hydroxybenzophenone.
An EFSA statement said: ¡°The Panel considered the safety threshold for benzophenone which was used as the basis of EFSA¡¯s urgent advice to the Commission in March to be very cautious, as it was based upon adaptive (i.e. reversible) changes reported in experimental animals as a result of their exposure to benzophenone rather than adverse effects as such. However, the Panel considered that this approach was reasonable given the lack of data available and the short deadline.¡±
The CEP members decided it
was necessary to set a new TDI for benzophenone of 0.03mg per kilogram
of bodyweight. This was based on a higher threshold which the panel
considered to represent the intake level beyond which benzophenone could
be harmful. Hydroxybenzophenone has been excluded from this TDI due
to a lack of data, added the experts.
Majority in U.S. feel food industry doesn¡¯t do enough
ASQ conducted the survey to gauge how consumers feel about food safety, food recalls and where responsibility lies when it comes to tainted food. The survey finds:
93 percent of adults say
food manufacturers, growers or suppliers should be held legally responsible
when individuals are fatally sickened by tainted food.
Wilson said there are also other issues to consider. ¡°The problem lies with a specific outbreak. Determining its root cause is often difficult and necessary, otherwise correcting the root cause and preventing future outbreaks can¡¯t be achieved.¡±
Government¡¯s Role in Food
Concern Over Product Recalls
Food recalls have become
even more of a serious concern for adults (47 percent) vs. the 2007
Harris Poll data (29 percent). A total of 92 percent of Americans are
at least somewhat concerned about recalls.
About the study
Is No. 1 Source of Outbreaks, Report Says
¡°It¡¯s a nice first step,¡±
said Donna Rosenbaum, executive director of the nonprofit Safe Tables
Our Priority. ¡°The problem is that it¡¯s based on a very small data set.¡±
¡°We¡¯re very glad that C.D.C.
is finally coming out with good food attribution data,¡± Ms. DeWaal said.
¡°It clearly shows the need for improvements, not only at F.D.A. but
at U.S.D.A.¡¯s food safety programs as well.¡±
While poultry is the most
common source of illnesses among the 17 different foods tracked by federal
officials, the C.D.C. found that two-thirds of all food-related illnesses
traced to a lone ingredient were caused by viruses, which are often
added to food by restaurant workers who fail to wash their hands. Such
viruses often cause what many people refer to as a ¡°stomach flu,¡± one
to two days of nausea and vomiting that is unrelated to the flu virus.
The findings resulted from
an analysis of reports of food-related illnesses submitted to the C.D.C.
by state and local health departments. Although the system is the best
available, it is far from perfect. Most of the estimated 76 million
cases of food-related illnesses a year go unreported in the United States.
And of those that are reported, most are not thoroughly investigated.
Transparency Task Force
Seek public input on transparency
progress has been made," said Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, the Energy
and Commerce Committee's ranking Republican. Still, he said, Republicans
will work to change some provisions of the legislation. The bill doesn't
address meat, poultry, dairy and eggs, which are regulated by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture.Food-safety legislation has also been introduced
in the Senate. It is unclear when senators might take up their bill,
which has bipartisan support. 6-10-09
Canada-Style Food Regulator, Campbell¡¯s Conant Says
¡°If the government of Canada can monitor the safety of its food products with one single food-inspection agency, why can¡¯t the United States?¡± Conant said. ¡°The structure and framework of food safety in Canada is something we can learn from as we look at the makeup and coordination of our own food safety agencies.¡±
The two U.S. agencies have differing levels of funding and responsibility, and each has a separate system for monitoring food safety, said Conant, who runs the world¡¯s largest soupmaker. The FDA regulates about 80 percent of the domestic food supply, while the USDA reviews the safety of about 20 percent of the food supply, including meats, he said.
Lawmakers are currently considering
several food-safety proposals, with a goal of passing a comprehensive
measure this year. President Barack Obama¡¯s budget proposal would provide
a 19 percent spending increase for the FDA, including $259 million more
for food-safety, while boosting funding for the USDA¡¯s inspection programs
by 7.2 percent to $992 million, according to figures from the White
¡°The meat and poultry industry is intensely regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and inspected establishments are subject to daily scrutiny, often using multiple inspectors,¡± Boyle said. ¡°Although sections of the bill may be viewed by some as necessary and appropriate for FDA-regulated products, those same or similar provisions, if applied to the meat and poultry inspection system, would be a step backward. To this end, AMI is troubled by the potential precedents the bill could set for products regulated by the USDA.¡±
A significant concern with the bill, Boyle noted, is the control government would have over a company¡¯s HACCP program. The proper role of government is to verify that companies have conducted a proper hazard analysis, identified the hazards reasonably likely to occur in their operations and develop and implement an appropriate HACCP plan to control those hazards.
¡°We do not believe it is the proper role of the government to establish the hazards and mandate preventive controls,¡± Boyle said.
Other sections of the bill
Boyle suggested warrant further review include: user fees to pay for
food safety inspection services; the ¡®full pedigree¡¯ traceability required
by the bill; the empowerment of FDA to mandate a recall and impose civil
penalties; and the changes the bill would make to policies with respect
to how FDA determines whether a substance is generally recognized as
Dioxins in food
chain linked to breastfeeding problems
Role of environmental contaminants
This is significant, said Lawrence, because mammary glands have a high rate of cell proliferation, especially during early to mid-pregnancy when their most rapid development occurs. Researchers also found that dioxin causes other problems with the breast such as altering the induction of milk-producing genes, which occurs around the ninth day of pregnancy.
Timing irrelevant for humans
Rare disease among infants was caught in time to save a life
During the awards banquet honoring her father, Terri Sebelin grew increasingly uneasy. Sebelin, a first-time mother, had her 3-month-old son, Garrett Perschy, in tow, and he was sick. The baby had a slight fever and seemed restless. He was also drooling, which the pediatrician told Sebelin, a registered nurse, meant that he was teething. Sebelin thought that odd because she couldn't feel any tooth buds. Her mother, a retired nurse who had raised seven children, was skeptical, too.
"All during dinner people kept coming up and asking me what was wrong with the baby," Sebelin recalled of the events of the Memorial Day weekend in 1999. She watched closely as friends and relatives passed her son around, noticing at one point that "it looked like they were passing around a rag doll." She tried not to overreact; she had talked to the doctor several times that day and had been assured that the problem didn't sound serious.
A few hours later, after another call to the pediatrician, who instructed Sebelin to take the baby to a nearby emergency room, the family arrived at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pa. Garrett was admitted, and the ER doctor told her he probably had croup. Sebelin and her mother doubted that, too: Garrett wasn't coughing. "I know you don't have croup," Sebelin wrote that night in her journal.
She was right. Less than 24 hours later, her baby was gravely ill, and doctors were frantically ruling out one diagnosis after another. It took an astute specialist to figure out what was wrong, a cause so unlikely that the doctor who made the diagnosis had never seen a case before -- and hasn't since. But diagnosis was only part of the problem. At the time there was only one experimental drug to treat Garrett's illness, and getting it to Allentown required the approval of federal officials. That process would take days -- time the baby clearly did not have.
Ten years later, pediatric neurologist Martha Lusser vividly remembers her tiny patient. Lusser said she believes Garrett's ailment is "clearly less well recognized than it should be" and remains easily overlooked by pediatricians. She is convinced that some fatalities attributed to sudden infant death syndrome were probably caused by the extremely rare problem she diagnosed in Garrett.
Until that weekend, Garrett had been a normal, healthy baby, according to Sebelin, who lives in Palmerton, a small town about 30 miles north of Allentown.
The day before the Sunday banquet, she had noticed he was constipated; she had taken him to a local mall in the morning, where he began to seem out of sorts. She later discovered he was running a slight fever, common when babies are teething. By the time she got to Lehigh Valley Hospital 36 hours later, his fever was gone but he seemed utterly wrung out.
At the hospital, doctors ran some tests and, after listening to his lungs, decided he didn't have croup. The staff thought he might have a virus and told his parents he would probably be discharged the next morning.
By then, Sebelin remembered, he was much sicker.
The hospital staff began an urgent search for a cause. A spinal tap ruled out meningitis. Garrett showed no signs of child abuse, such as retinal hemorrhages or broken bones. Toxicology tests to check for the presence of drugs or poisons came back negative. Both a CT scan and an MRI showed nothing wrong with Garrett's brain, such as a tumor. He no longer had a fever, his blood counts were normal and there were no signs of an infectious disease. One doctor said he suspected Garrett might have a rapidly progressive neuromuscular disorder but had no idea what the disease might be.
"We thought he was going to die," Sebelin recalled. Mystified, the staff called in Lusser.
She examined the baby, noting his floppiness, the way his pupils reacted to light, the reports of drooling and the history of constipation -- the last scarcely unusual, but an important clue.
In Lusser's opinion, all signs pointed to infant botulism, a malady she had never seen in more than 20 years of practice. The only way to be sure was through a stool test that had to be sent to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The more immediate problem was treatment. In 1999, the only drug for infants with the illness was a tightly controlled investigational compound called BabyBIG (Botulism Immune Globulin Intravenous). Garrett's best hope for survival was an immediate transfer to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, which could get the drug on an expedited basis and had treated other victims of infant botulism. Lusser quickly arranged it, and the baby was whisked away by ambulance, accompanied by his terrified parents.
Infant botulism occurs when a baby less than a year old ingests spores of Clostridium botulinum bacteria, which is present in honey -- the reason it should never be fed to babies younger than 12 months. The bacteria produce a toxin that breeds rapidly in an infant's immature digestive tract, impairing the ability to move, eat or breathe, according to a 2002 article in the journal American Family Physician. (The other form of botulism, which can occur from home-canned foods, affects older children and adults.) BabyBIG, developed by researchers at the California Department of Public Health, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2003 and is administered to about 100 victims of infant botulism each year in the United States.
Although doctors kept asking Sebelin if she or anyone had given Garrett honey, she was adamant that he'd never ingested it. The only other way he could have been exposed was through soil containing the bacteria. Pennsylvania, Lusser knew, is a hot spot for botulism, as are Arizona, California and Utah.
She concluded he was probably exposed when he came in contact with his father, a telephone lineman, before he showered after work, or with his grandfather, an avid gardener.
Lusser said her suspicions
the baby had infant botulism, later confirmed by the CDC, were bolstered
by the pattern of weakness and droopy eyelid; the drooling, which indicated
a loss of muscle control, not an incipient toothache; and constipation,
which is among the first signs of the illness. "Recovery is 100
percent if this is diagnosed and treated early, and babies don't suffer
brain damage," she said.One of Sebelin's most vivid memories occurred
in the intensive care unit at Children's Hospital after her son got
his first intravenous dose of BabyBIG. "He got it at 10 a.m., and
by 1 p.m. he opened his eyes and then raised his little arm," she
said.After eight days, the baby was transferred back to Lehigh Valley
Hospital for a week, then discharged. His extremely unusual illness
did not affect his development, his mother said. He recovered fully
without incident and recently celebrated his 10th birthday.
named USDA food safety undersecretary
Speaking to reporters after appearing before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on the fiscal year 2010 budget, Vilsack said the administration wants to follow its own rule ¡°to make sure people haven¡¯t had lobbying experience¡± and is thoroughly vetting all candidates. Lobbyists say it is hard for USDA to fully participate in congressional consideration of the food safety reform and modernization bill without an undersecretary in place. USDA handles food safety for meat, poultry and eggs and the undersecretary for food safety sets policy and handles international food safety relations.
At the hearing, Vilsack said he is coordinating broadband policy with Commerce Secretary Locke and that he hopes that by the end of June he can issue rules for applications for the broadband loans and grant program contained in the economic stimulus package. Vilsack confirmed the agency is hiring 40 people to handle broadband applications.
Several senators complained about Obama¡¯s proposal to phase out direct payments to farmers with sales of more than $500,000 and to cut conservation programs. Vilsack said the administration made the proposals to come up with $1 billion to increase the budget for child nutrition programs. But he added that the administration will work with Congress to find savings in other ways.
FDA awards grants to three states to enhance food and feed safety
Source of Article: http://members.ift.org/IFT/Pubs/Newsletters/weekly/nl_060309.htm
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently enhanced its food and feed protection initiatives with the award of three one-year Food Safety and Security Monitoring grants totaling $1 million to the states of Arkansas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. The funds support cooperative agreements designed to create a national integrated food safety system through enhanced federal and state collaboration in food emergency response activities. The three states each received $350,000 to fund Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) chemistry laboratories. FERN labs are essential to the FDA¡¯s regulatory efforts and the grants may be used for facility upgrades, training in current food testing methodologies, increased laboratory sample analysis capacity, and other activities. In the event of a large-scale event affecting food or food products, the grant recipients may be required to perform selected analyses of food samples collected by the FDA or provided by other government agencies through the FDA.
¡°We are excited to partner with these states as they perform such critical roles in ensuring food safety,¡± said Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., Commissioner of Food and Drugs. ¡°The FDA is committed to investing in efforts that will better protect American consumers from food safety and food defense threats.¡±
study confirms health risk from BPA leaching
According to HSPH: ¡°The study is the first to show that drinking from polycarbonate bottles increased the level of urinary BPA, and thus suggests that drinking containers made with BPA release the chemical into the liquid that people drink in sufficient amounts to increase the level of BPA excreted in human urine.¡±
Harvard College students were recruited for the study which was conducted in April 2008. The 77 participants began the study with a week of drinking all cold beverages from stainless steel bottles in order to minimize BPA exposure. They were then given two polycarbonate bottles and asked to drink all cold beverages from the bottles during the next week. Urine samples were provided throughout the trial.
Its international foray represents
a significant shift in strategy for the agency, which until now relied
extensively on border inspections to identify unsafe goods. Inspection
is a critical part of the process, but it can no longer serve as the
first line of defense, Lumpkin said.
irradiation may improve chicken meat safety
FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. An infusion
of a mixture of organic acids and extracts from plants combined with
a dose of irradiation may significantly reduce pathogenic bacteria in
and on chicken breast meat, according to researchers at the University
of Arkansas System¡¯s Division of Agriculture.
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