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Food Illness Accountability Undermines Food Safety Overhaul: Food Safety Legislation Propped up by Antiquated Estimates Rather Than CDC Data
Source of Article:
Foodborne illness is underreported, but 12 years of CDC FoodNet data collection confirms a difference of tens of millions between estimated and reported cases of food illness. The CDC, legislators and other public officials continue to use 10-year-old, non-substantiated estimates as the basis for recommending and funding national foodborne illness policy. When HR 2749 - Food Safety Overhaul - comes to the House floor this week, the Association for Food Illness Accountability asks legislators, "Why is the United States using ten-year-old estimates rather than documented cases to develop food safety strategies and legislation? If we are to solve the problem of foodborne illness we must accurately define the problem, be it the farm, the factory, or the home fridge."
Memphis, TN (PRWEB) July 28, 2009 -- Legislators are ignoring more than a decade's worth of CDC collected data as Rep. John Dingell's Food Safety bill HR 2749 moves to the House floor. The newly formed Association for Food Illness Accountability is asking why policy makers are relying on an unsubstantiated 1999 report when CDC's Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) confirms a discrepancy of tens of millions of cases of foodborne illness.
Despite the strides of FoodNet and the requirements of most states to report foodborne illness, the CDC and many legislators continue to quote a 1999 report, "Food-Related Illness and Death in the United States" based on approximations of passive data. The authors estimate 76 million cases of foodborne illness including 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths each year.
According to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), CDC reports 17,883 laboratory-confirmed cases of food illness infection in FoodNet surveillance areas for 2006. A total of 18,499 laboratory confirmed cases of foodborne illness were reported in 2008. Based on numerous CDC reports, this data remains relatively stable. The CDC also reports substantial declines in leading causes of illness (Campylobacter, Listeria, Shigella, E.coli, and Yersinia). Cases of Salmonella and Cryptosporidium are nearly unchanged, although not nearly approaching the nation's healthy target initiative. Only cases caused by Vibrio have increased substantially.
"Clearly no one knows how many cases of foodborne illness occur annually. If 5,000 deaths and 325,000 hospitalizations remain unaccounted for each year, Americans should be outraged," says Cindy Hazen, founder. "We've had a decade to begin correlating this report with laboratory confirmed cases and we've made no advances. If we are to solve the problem of foodborne illness we must accurately define the problem, be it the farm, the factory, or the home fridge."
The Association for Food Illness Accountability calls for emphasis on foodborne illness reporting to strategize targeted solutions. "Legislators need to know whether we're seeking cures for the common cold or pandemic flu," says Hazen. "Forty years ago, NASA pledged to send men into space. In 1958 NASA launched its first satellite and by 1969 Apollo 11's men were walking on the moon. Could NASA have been successful if they were using 10-year-old mathematical speculations? In the 21st century FDA can't eliminate food illness if CDC doesn't know the time, place or occurrence of infection. It's not enough to say we know it's a problem but we have to guess at the magnitude because most people don't report it."

McDonalds massive hepatitis A exposure brings lawsuit
Source of Article:

2009-07-27 21:36:50 (GMT) ( - Featured, Justice News Flash, Personal Injury)
Illinois personal injury lawyers file suit against Milan McDonald¡¯s chain alleging worker infected customers with hepatitis A. Personal injury attorneys in Illinois are seeking class action status citing 10,000 possible victims in the hepatitis A outbreak.
Illinois personal injury attorney news reporting food poisoning and contamination claims involving hepatitis A and other bacterias.
Quad Cities, IL?McDonald¡¯s was named in a class action lawsuit filing by civil trial attorneys representing a man, and thousands of unnamed potential defendants, who claim to have been sickened after eating at a Milan, Illinois, fast food location. As reported by the Quad-City Times, the lawsuit asserts McDonald¡¯s customer, Cody Patterson, became ill after eating at the Milan fast-food chain several times in June and July. The Rock Island County McDonald¡¯s eateries in Milan have become the focus of a hepatitis A outbreak that has sickened a confirmed 19 people with 11 requiring hospitalization for treatment of the serious virus.
The Rock Island County Health Department closed two McDonald¡¯s restaurants in Milan located at 400 W. 1st Street and U.S. 67, on July 15, 2009, for inspection by health officials and cleaning by its owner/operator, Kevin Murphy. Both locations were reopened for regular business hours on Saturday, July 18, 2009. The Rock Island County Health Department has repeatedly stated the source of the hepatitis A has not been confirmed and the main focus has been on the prevention of the virus spreading. The estimation of potential sickened patrons by personal injury attorneys involved in the class-action claim filing is upwards of 10,000 based on the sheer volume of people who frequent the Milan fast-food chain.
According to Wikipedia hepatitis A or HAV(formerly known as infectious hepatitis) is an acute viral infection of the liver which is most commonly transmitted through contaminated food or drinking water. The transmission of the infectious disease is typically through the oral-fecal route which simply means people have failed to wash their hands after using the bathroom. Every year, approximately 10 million people worldwide are infected with the hepatitis A virus with the most common source being through the contamination food and water with fecal matter by unclean hands. The following U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers the following educational information about HAV:

-Acute illness lasting 2 weeks to several months

-Transmitted by ingestion of fecal matter in food and water sources

-After initial exposure it may take 28 days to present with symptoms

-Hepatitis A vaccination is the best prevention method for all children starting at age 1, travelers to certain countries and other consumers at high risk

-Frequent hand washing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom or handling fecal matter can help prevent the spread of HAV
Illinois personal injury lawyers file suit against Milan McDonald¡¯s chain alleging worker infected customers with hepatitis A. Personal injury attorneys in Illinois are seeking class action status citing 10,000 possible victims in the hepatitis A outbreak.

The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), an agency under the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), is charged with ensuring safe and healthful working conditions through state and local agencies performing workplace inspections. A clean working environment ensures the safety of restaurant workers and their customers. When a consumer becomes ill because a restaurant owner has not maintained a safe and healthy working environment, as required by state and federal health laws, they may be entitled to compensation for the damages and injuries. Doctor¡¯s visits, prescriptions, and hospital bills can add up quickly when a person becomes infected with hepatitis A. Infected consumers can also lose income from lost work time while recuperating from the viral infection. Contacting an Illinois personal injury attorney may help you and your family recover.

Illinois personal injury lawyers new reports covering massive hepatitis A contamination stories by Senior Law news correspondent, Heather L. Ryan.

Resistant Salmonella Linked to King Soopers Beef Recall
Source of Article:

Date Published: Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
The Salmonella strain at the root of the recent King Soopers, Inc. beef recall is not only resistant to a wide variety of antibiotics, but the Salmonella involved is not always killed off by cooking, according to The Denver Channel, citing the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
Because this particular strain of Salmonella, Salmonella Typhimurium DT104, is resistant to many commonly prescribed drugs, contamination with the strain can increase the risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure in infected individuals.
Late last week we wrote that the U.S. Department of Agriculture¡¯s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) released information on King Soopers, Inc. announcement of its recall. The recall was for approximately 466,236 pounds of ground beef products that were likely linked to an outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium DT104. The recall is a Class I, which means it presents a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.
The beef distributed by King Soopers was sent to stores in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, said the Denver Channel, which noted that 14 people in Colorado fell ill after eating the recalled meat.
Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. Salmonella infections can be life threatening, especially to those with weak immune systems, such as infants, the elderly, and persons with HIV infection or who are undergoing chemotherapy. The most common manifestations of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within eight to 72 hours. Additional symptoms may include chills, headache, nausea, and vomiting that can last up to seven days.
In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections, e.g., infected aneurysms, endocarditis, and arthritis.
Epidemiological investigations and a case control study conducted by CDPHE and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined that there is an association between the fresh ground beef products and the14 illnesses reported in Colorado. The illnesses were linked through the epidemiological investigation by their less common pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern found in PulseNet, a national network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by the CDC.

While the FSIS said it has no reason to believe that the recalled beef products are still available for sale in commerce, consumers may have purchased these recalled, fresh ground beef products between May 23 and June 23, 2009 and stored them in the freezer. Consumers are advised to look for and discard or destroy the recalled products.

According to PubMed (a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health), Salmonella Typhimurium DT104 strains are commonly resistant to ampicillin, chloramphenicol, streptomycin, sulfonamides, and tetracycline.

Most fast-food workers don¡¯t wash hands properly, FDA official says
Source of Article:
The Rock Island County Health Department has provided more than 5,325 doses of protection against hepatitis A in the past nine days.
About 100 people showed up Tuesday for the final free public clinic at which the department administered either the hepatitis A vaccine or a drug called immune globulin. The inoculations were free to anyone who visited the McDonald's restaurant at 400 W. 1st St., Milan, Ill., during July 13-14.
The food-borne illness has affected about 25 people to date.
Fifteen of the victims are from Rock Island County, and all of them ate at the Milan McDonald's, health department spokeswoman Theresa Foes said.
The disease has also affected five people from Mercer County, Ill., two from Scott County, Iowa, and residents of Henry, Warren and Woodford counties in Illinois.
The signs are ubiquitous in restaurant restrooms: "Employees must wash hands before returning to work."But a federal government scientist who co-authored a study on the subject says more than half of all employees in the
fast-food industry fail to wash their hands properly or use gloves when working.
"There's a disconnect between what we want to see and what is actually implemented," said William Burkhardt, a food virologist and microbiologist with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA.
Burkhardt, of Dolphin Island, Ala., helped author a cleanliness and hand-washing study that was also sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
That said, there are tens of thousands of fast-food establishments around America, and incidents such as a recent hepatitis A outbreak in the Quad-City region happen very infrequently.
"I only know of a few documented cases like this," Burkhardt said.
Some 25 people in the Quad-City region have a confirmed case of hepatitis A. Most of the cases, if not all, are connected to a McDonald's restaurant at 400 W. 1st St., Milan, Ill., where two employees were diagnosed with the disease that has flu-like symptoms. Eleven of the Quad-City region cases required hospitalization.
The Rock Island County Health Department just concluded on Tuesday a series of clinics at which at least 5,324 people were inoculated against the disease. All of them visited the McDonald's in question during early or mid-July.
Meanwhile, the Rock Island County Sheriff's Department is investigating why there was a delay in reporting to public health officials four hepatitis A cases handled by Trinity Regional Health System in late June and early July. Trinity officials said Friday that human error was to blame for the delay. The sheriff's department investigation is expected to be complete before the end of the week.
It can happen anywhere
Even restaurateurs who are vigilant about cleanliness can have problems with food-borne illnesses, even though it happens rarely, said Doni DeNucci, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Restaurant Association in Des Moines.
DeNucci, who has worked for the association for 14 years, said she can think of only two instances in which restaurants were affected by a severe food-borne disease outbreak.
One of them occurred four years ago when a fine dining establishment in Des Moines was found to be the cause of a norovirus outbreak. A salad preparer, who had recently completed a food-safety course, came to work one day when he "felt poorly but not real sick," she said. He completed his shift at the restaurant, and a number of patrons subsequently got sick with norovirus, a gastrointestinal illness commonly known as the stomach flu.
Restaurateurs need to be highly interested in food safety since good, safely prepared food is the source of their livelihood. But "sometimes, these things just happen," DeNucci said.
Norovirus, hepatitis A and E. coli, another gastrointestinal infection, are the most common food-borne illnesses involving restaurants, Burkhardt said. Norovirus, like hepatitis A, is spread by fecal matter on food products that are then ingested by unaware patrons. However, the hepatitis A symptoms might not show up for 10-14 days while those with norovirus know much more quickly, in as little as 12 hours after ingestion.
Easy to transmit
Those who ingest the hepatitis A virus need only a few particles to eventually become ill, according to the microbiologist. "Oftentimes, a hundred million of these viral particles are present in a gram of fecal material," he said.
Even a small piece of fecal matter on a person's hand can transmit the germs, especially to salads, uncooked food items or in ice. The virus is killed during proper cooking.
Best practices for preventing the spread of such illnesses are to order employees to do frequent hand-washing with warm water and soap, and the wearing of gloves.
Burkhardt is a proponent of gloves being used by food handlers. "These are relatively inexpensive," he said. However, the gloves must be discarded if they become dirty by performing a non-food task such as working at a cash register.
Turnover, vigilance
Fast-food restaurant owners and managers in particular must be vigilant about enforcing cleanliness rules among their workforce because the industry has so much turnover, Burkhardt said.
Most restaurants in Iowa have their managers and employees go through food-safety training, DeNucci said, and the practice is mandatory in Illinois.
"It's an industry with such a high turnover rate it's our goal to have all employees trained in a short course on food safety measures," she added. Many restaurants, including fast-food chains such as McDonald's, have their employees go through a training program called ServSafe.
In Illinois, managers must complete the Food Managers Certification Program, said Paul Guse, the environmental health director for Rock Island County. "Illinois is considered a leader in food safety training," he added.
Both states use outreach programs, such as the Iowa State University Extension, to do the actual training. Courses in the Quad-Cities are available at both Scott Community College and Black Hawk College, Guse said.
Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, epidemiologist and medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, cited the Quad-City area hepatitis A outbreak in a July 24 advisory: "Hepatitis A is endemic in Iowa," she said. "Infections can occur in Iowans without a significant travel history or known exposure to another case."
The state has had an average of 26 hepatitis A cases each of the last three years, and 16 have been reported in Iowa so far during 2009.

Food (Safety) Fight
By: richard raymond

Where's the change?
Source of Article:

(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)

The White House Food Safety Working Group's (WHFSWG) "Key Findings" report has a section labeled "Cutting Salmonella Risk in Poultry Products". Before that bullet, the report says "Two Federal agencies are now making progress to reduce illness caused by Salmonella."
Wow, I only wish it were true. I wish this were the "change" people voted for. But the WHFSWG fails to consider recent history, so I will attempt to do that here.

In August of 2005, FSIS convened a two day meeting in Athens, GA, to listen to consumer advocates, industry scientists, university researchers and FSIS employees on how best to reduce high rate of positive poultry carcass rinses testing positive for Salmonella. As a result of that meeting, another two day meeting was convened in Atlanta, GA, on February 23, 2006, to announce the Salmonella Initiative and its eleven steps. Further enhancements to the initiative were announced in 2008.

As a result of the Salmonella Initiative, and the industry efforts, positive carcass rinses dropped from 16.3 % in 2005 to only 8.5 % in 2007. Yet, this same MMWR report showed that food borne illnesses from Salmonella did not decline during the same time period.

Shortly after FSIS began to see the positive numbers decline, a new effort to establish a new standard for the Salmonella base line was initiated. The "Key Findings" says that FSIS is developing "new standards to reduce the prevalence of Salmonella in turkeys and poultry", yet that effort was begun under the previous administration, not the new one. So where is the "change" that will "reduce illness caused by Salmonella"?

If dropping the rate of positive carcasses by nearly 50% did not reduce illness, then how is a new standard going to reduce illness? Maybe the "change" we need is testing of chicken parts and mechanically separated meat instead of carcasses? After all, when was the last time you bought a whole carcass?

Safety Zone
By: James Marsden
Why "just cook it" won't cut it
Source of Article:
(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)
For almost 20 years, I have heard people from the meat industry say ¡°if consumers would only cook their burgers, the E. coli problem would go away¡±. Here are 10 reasons why the ¡°just cook it¡± approach will not work:

1. E. coli O157:H7 is a unique pathogen. The levels of this organism necessary to cause infection are very low.

2. The severity of the disease E. coli O157:H7 can cause, especially in children is devastating.

3. In many cases, parents order hamburgers for their children and rely on restaurants to cook them properly. In restaurants, parents really have no control over whether the hamburgers they order are sufficiently cooked to eliminate possible contamination from E. coli O157:H7.

4. If consumers unknowingly bring this pathogen into their kitchens, it is almost impossible to avoid cross contamination. Even the smallest amount of contamination on a food that is not cooked can cause illness. Many of the reported cases of E. coli O157:H7 have involved ground beef that was clearly cooked at times and temperatures sufficient to inactivate E. coli O157:H7. Some other vector, i.e. cross contamination was probably involved.

5. Even if consumers attempt to use thermometers to measure cooking temperature, it is difficult to properly measure the internal temperature of hamburger patties. They would have to use an accurate thermometer and place the probe exactly into the center of the patty. In addition, the inactivation of E. coli O157:H7 is dependent on cooking time and temperature. For example, if they cook to 155 degrees F, they should hold that temperature for 16 seconds. It is not realistic to expect that consumers, many of which are children will scientifically measure the internal temperature of hamburgers.

6. The way ground beef is packaged, it is virtually impossible to remove it from packages or chubs and make patties without spreading contamination if it is present.

7. Sometimes ground beef appears to be cooked when it really isn¡¯t. There is a phenomenon called ¡°premature browning¡± that can make ground beef appear to be fully cooked when in fact it is undercooked.

8. E. coli O157:H7 may be present in beef products other than ground beef. For example, in non-intact beef products, including tenderized steaks that are not always cooked to temperatures required for inactivation.

9. There have been many cases and outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 associated with foods that are not cooked (i.e. fresh cut produce).

10. As Senator Patrick Leahy said after the 1993 Jack-in-the-Box outbreak ? ¡°The death penalty is too strong a punishment for undercooking a hamburger¡±. He was right ?consumers will make mistakes. There needs to be a margin of safety so that undercooking does not result in disease or death.

For these and many other reasons, the problem of E. coli O157:H7 in ground beef and other food products must be solved. Of course proper cooking is important. However, telling consumers to ¡°just cook it¡± is not the answer.

Senator proposes mandatory meat recalls
Source of Article:
By Rita Jane Gabbett on 7/30/2009

Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) this week introduced legislation giving USDA authority to initiate mandatory meat product recalls, a bill he first introduced in 2003.
Under current law, USDA does not have the authority to issue a mandatory recall; rather, the agency asks the company involved to recall the product.
"This forces the USDA to engage in time-consuming negotiations with meatpackers before pulling tainted meat from store shelves, and it gives meatpackers an effective veto on recalls," Udall said in a news release about the proposed legislation.
Not really
Not so, says former USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Richard Raymond.
"The USDA does not negotiate with industry when a meat or poultry recall is necessary to protect the public's health, and no company has ever refused to recall product when the USDA has requested that they do so," he told Meatingplace. "This is unnecessary legislation and actually may be a hindrance to a system that does not need fixed."

House Approves Food-Safety Bill

Source of Article:
Law Would Greatly Expand FDA's Power

(Washington Post, DC)

By Lyndsey Layton

The House approved the first major changes to food-safety laws in 70 years Thursday, giving sweeping new authority to the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the way food is grown, harvested and processed.

The action follows a wave of food-borne illnesses over the past three years, involving products as varied as spinach and cookie dough, which has shaken consumer confidence and made the issue a priority for congressional leaders and the White House. Food illnesses sicken one in four Americans and kill 5,000 each year, according to government statistics. Tainted food has cost the food industry billions of dollars in recalls, lost sales and legal expenses.

"Americans are dying because the Food and Drug Administration does not have authority to protect them, and American producers and agriculture are being hurt," said Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), the bill's author, who has been pushing food-safety change for more than 20 years. "This will fundamentally change the way in which we ensure the safety of our food supply."

The measure passed 283 to 142. The Senate is expected to take up its version after the August recess. President Obama, who has voiced concerns about the safety of peanut butter consumed by his 8-year-old daughter, endorsed the House bill Wednesday.

The legislation affects every aspect of the U.S. food system, from farmers to manufacturers to importers. It places significant responsibilities on farmers and food processors to prevent contamination -- a departure from the country's reactive tradition, which has relied on government inspectors to catch tainted food after the fact.

The 159-page bill was backed by a raft of consumer groups and trade associations but faced opposition from some farm interests and their House Republican allies, who said it gives too much authority to the FDA and will lead to higher costs and burdensome paperwork without necessarily making food safer.

"The federal government will tell our farmers and ranchers how to do something they've been doing since the dawn of mankind," said Rep. Frank D. Lucas (R-Okla.). "It goes too far in the direction of trying to produce food from a bureaucrat's chair in Washington, D.C."

The legislation requires food producers and importers to pay an annual $500 registration fee, which would help fund stepped-up FDA inspections, enforcement and related activities such as food-safety research. About 360,000 facilities in the United States and abroad would be subject to the fees. The Congressional Budget Office reported that the fees would not cover the cost of the new system, leaving the FDA to incur a net cost of $2.2 billion over five years.

If enacted, the bill would be the first major overhaul of food laws since 1938, when Congress gave the FDA the power to oversee the safety of most foods, as well as drugs and cosmetics. At that time, the government was concerned mainly about food makers adulterating products by substituting ingredients or using additives to mask rancid meat and vegetables.

But as the food industry has changed, new threats have emerged. Deadly pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7 can contaminate foods without the knowledge of farmers, manufacturers or consumers. An increasing amount of food Americans consume -- about 15 percent -- is imported, with little known about overseas growing or processing methods. And the U.S. food supply chain has grown increasingly complex, with some manufacturers unsure where raw ingredients originate.

The legislation requires food manufacturers to identify the particular risks they face, create controls to prevent that contamination, monitor those controls to make sure they are working and update those measures regularly. Such controls have been mandatory for the seafood and juice industries since the 1990s after several high-profile contamination cases; they are widely believed to have reduced outbreaks involving those products.
The House bill calls for the FDA to set safety standards for farmers and manufacturers who process food. And it requires imported food to meet the same standards.

The legislation requires the FDA to sharply step up inspections. The FDA now inspects food facilities about once a decade. The bill would also mandate inspections of high-risk facilities at least once a year and low-risk facilities at least every three years.

The measure also gives the FDA significant authority to contain outbreaks of food-borne illnesses. The agency would be able to recall food if it suspects contamination, instead of relying on the food maker to act voluntarily. It also allows the FDA to quarantine a geographic area, blocking the distribution of suspect food to the rest of the country. And the FDA would gain access to records at farms and food production facilities.

Under the legislation, the food agency will get new enforcement powers and be able to impose beefed-up civil and criminal penalties. One provision allows the FDA to declare food "adulterated" simply if the grower or manufacturer has failed to follow safety standards, regardless of whether the food is actually tainted.

The bill does not address the fractured nature of U.S. food regulation, which is spread among 15 federal agencies, as well as thousands of state and local health departments.

Agriculture interests were able to win key concessions. Small farms are exempt from registration fees, ranchers and farmers now regulated by the Agriculture Department are excluded from the requirements of the bill and the FDA will have to consider the special concerns of small growers and organic farmers, among other provisions. 7-31-09

Chinese lawyer who helped poisoned milk victims is held by authorities
Source of Article:

Jonathan Landreth in Beijing
One of the lawyers who acted on behalf of the victims of last year¡¯s poisoned milk scandal in China has been detained by the authorities in the latest clampdown on civil rights activists.
In an early morning raid yesterday, Xu Zhiyong was taken from his home by public security officials, according to a statement posted on the website of the Open Constitution Initiative, a group that Mr Xu helped to found in 2007 to push for the rule of law.
¡°According to the security guard of the residence area where Xu Zhiyong stays, at 5am of July 29, a policeman and five plainclothes took Xu Zhiyong away. Where to remains unknown,¡± said the statement, which was posted today by the group known as Gongmeng in Chinese.
Gongmeng made headlines last year when its lawyers volunteered to work on behalf of the victims of the Sanlu Group¡¯s tainted milk powder, which killed at least six children and sickened hundreds of thousands more.
Gongmeng also angered Beijing with a report that criticised the Government¡¯s handling of demonstrations across the Tibetan plateau last year.
Mr Xu¡¯s colleagues reported today that his house was locked and that he cannot be reached on his mobile phone.
His arrest comes just over two weeks after Beijing¡¯s Civil Affairs Bureau raided Gongmeng¡¯s headquarters in the capital, declaring the group to be illegal and claiming that it was behind in its tax payments.
Mr Xu was supposed to have attended a hearing today about the tax case, in which Gongmeng faces a fine of 304,975 yuan (¡Ì27,065), the group¡¯s website said.
During the office raid on July 17, Mr Xu told reporters who reached him by phone that officials would be shutting down Gongmeng for having failed to register as a nongovernmental organisation, a difficult process.
In the raid on Gongmeng¡¯s headquarters, officials confiscated computers, furniture and four years of legal research into the cases of petitioners who had brought their grievances to Beijing from all across China in a last-ditch effort to get justice.
Gongmeng¡¯s lawyers had been pushing to take advantage of a new food safety law, which came into effect on June 1. This enabled victims of food poisoning in China to ask the courts to award compensation worth ten times the value of the tainted products purchased.
In a new direction, the courts are also increasingly awarding victims additional damages for loss. This year China¡¯s high court gave clearance for lower courts to handle such cases, but after lawyers organising class-action lawsuits over the poisoned milk powder were harassed, it was unclear whether any cases would proceed.
This month Mr Xu told reporters that since June 1, the court in Shijiazhuang, the city 270 km southeast of Beijing where Sanlu was based, has accepted two cases against the now bankrupt company. Neither has yet had a hearing.
In China ? where courts do not award damages for what Western lawyers would call ¡°pain and suffering¡±, nor grant punitive damages as a deterrent ? compensation amounts vary widely.
China¡¯s central government determined last year that families of the victims of Sanlu¡¯s poisoned milk would get 200,000 yuan (¡Ì17,751) for a death in the family and 30,000 yuan if surgery was required. Workers in Beijing earned an average of 44,715 yuan last year.
More than 90 per cent of the families affected accepted a compensation deal from the Ministry of Health. One of its terms blocked their right to sue the 22 milk powder manufacturers found culpable.
The milk powder produced by Sanlu and other manufacturers contained the toxic chemical melamine, whose high nitrogen content helped watered-down milk to pass quality checks for protein content.

Startup's stickers identify the source of food
Source of Article:
Tom Abate, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, August 3, 2009
"With food safety as big as it is, we can give each watermelon its own code so a consumer can check on the Internet to see where it is grown," said Ryan Van Groningen of Van Groningen & Sons Farms, which sells watermelons under the Yosemite Fresh brand.
This new code, called the HarvestMark, is being developed by the Redwood City startup YottaMark Inc. at a time when Congress is considering food-safety legislation that could make some type of tracking system mandatory.
"In the event of a recall, the Food and Drug Administration can find out where a product came from and how it got to market," said YottaMark co-founder Elliott Grant.
The new tracing system is one example of how the private sector has responded to recent food-safety scares, such as the 2006 E. coli outbreak involving spinach.
In advance of any legal mandate, a few growers have started putting HarvestMark codes on products like plastic-packaged grapes and strawberries, as well as watermelons.
"We're trying to be ahead of the game," Van Groningen said.
The HarvestMark is so new that the growers using it are still running pilot programs to make sure they can get labels printed with the proper codes and train field crews to collect accurate information for the computerized database at the heart of the system.
The idea is to enable a consumer to type the 16-digit tracking code into a locator field at to learn where the product was grown. Depending on the grower's records and what the farm chooses to reveal, the system could detail the date and part of the field where the product originated.
Traceability efforts
UC Davis research specialist Trevor Suslow, who studies how crops are handled after harvest, said the spinach E. coli outbreak spurred a whole series of industry efforts to improve food traceability.
"That was really the first time the FDA had issued a blanket advisory against a commodity, and a lot of growers who couldn't possibly have been responsible were greatly affected," he said.
The economic and political fallout from that incident prompted a number of produce industry trade associations to band together to create voluntary standards for tracking crops from fields to stores.
Dan Vache, a technical expert with the United Fresh Produce Association, said the standard would require participating growers to put a tracing code on each case of produce by 2010.
By 2012, distributors, including supermarkets and warehouses, would have to make sure that their computer systems can track each case of produce at every step from the field to the store or restaurant where it reaches the consumer, Vache said.
Grant said the HarvestMark was developed almost by accident after the E. coli outbreak.
He said YottaMark was founded in 2004, and initially developed its tracking labels to help authenticate electronic goods and pharmaceuticals, in order to combat counterfeits.
But after the spinach crisis, some of California's biggest producers came across YottaMark's coding system at a packaging industry trade show and urged the startup to adapt its technology to agriculture.
"This was a perfect application we had never thought of," Grant said.
Gordon Robertson is a vice president with Sun World in Bakersfield, a fresh-fruit shipper that has started putting the HarvestMark on products like packaged grapes.
Pressure on growers
He said that, independent of any government mandate, big grocery and warehouse stores have been pressuring growers to create some way to prove that produce doesn't come from areas where there have been disease outbreaks.
"If there is a product recall, you want to be able to identify and communicate to the government, to the retailer and to the public that this product does not have to be pulled from the shelves and is safe to eat," he said.
Robertson said the HarvestMark does more than the industry standard because it can trace an individual item, not just a case. Consumers can also use it themselves to find out where food comes from in addition to providing assurance of safety.
"We can actually build information and trust in our brand," he said.
The tracking system is not unprecedented. For example, premium San Francisco chocolatemaker Original Beans prints similar locator codes on its wrappers to show where the cacao beans in an individual bar were grown.
The House of Representatives passed a food-safety bill last week that instructed regulators to come up with better ways to trace all edible products, not just produce, but did not spell out specific measures. The measure now heads to the Senate.
Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis, said better food tracing is a good idea but it can't solve all food-safety concerns.
For instance, he said processed items, like mixed salads and precut vegetables, are difficult to trace because they may include produce from different sources.
Sumner also cautioned against imposing strict requirements, like item-level codes, that might be too costly or impractical.
"If it's a watermelon and you can put a sticker on it in the field that's one thing," he said. "But you can't put a sticker on a walnut."

2008 E. coli O157:H7 Raw Goat Milk Outbreak Sickened Four ? Two with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome
Source of Article:
The Outbreak
On May 12, 2008 the Lawrence County Health Department (LCHD) was notified of a case of HUS in a child with a history of bloody diarrhea. The health care provider reported that the child had consumed unpasteurized goat¡¯s milk obtained from a local store, the Herb Depot, in Barry County, Missouri. The milk had been purchased on April 29, 2008. LCHD began an investigation of the illness. It was quickly learned that an additional Barry County child that had cultured positive for E. coli O157:H7 had also consumed unpasteurized goat¡¯s milk from the same store. As a result, LCHD began a full epidemiological and environmental investigation of the illnesses. The investigation revealed that the milk consumed by both ill children had been produced at Autumn Olive Farms.
At the conclusion of its investigation, LCHD ultimately announced that there were four cases of E. coli O157:H7 associated with the outbreak. Of these, three were laboratory confirmed, and one was identified as a probable case (not stool culture positive but Epidemiologically linked to the outbreak). Each of these individuals resided in different counties in Southwest Missouri, and did not have any relation to each other. Nonetheless, each shared a common exposure to milk from Autumn Olive Farms. In addition, the three culture-confirmed cases shared a common, indistinguishable genetic strain of E. coli O157:H7. The strain was identified as a unique subtype of E. coli O157:H7, never before reported in Missouri. Each of the four cases had consumed milk from Autumn Olive Farms within 3-4 days of onset of illness. LCHD reported, ¡°no other plausible sources of exposure common to all four cases were identified [other than the milk.]¡± LCHD ultimately concluded ¡°the epidemiological findings strongly suggest the unpasteurized goat¡¯s milk from Farm A [Autumn Olive] was the likely source of infection for each of the cases associated with this outbreak.¡±
The Children
We represent two of the HUS cases. Nicole Riggs is 9 years old. She lives in Willard, Missouri with her mother, Julie; father, Dustin; and her younger sister, Christina. Larry Pedersen is a 2-year-old toddler. He lives in Monett, Missouri with his parents, Brian and Angela, and his two older sisters, Hailey and Kelsey.
Their Acute Illness
Both had a severe episode of HUS as demonstrated by over a week of anuria [no urine output], oliguria [low urine output] for an additional week. Both needed dialysis to survive. Both were hospitalized for over a month. Medical bills were over $100,000 for each.
Their Future
It is likely that both children will develop renal complications in the future, including hypertension and renal insufficiency. Hypertension and renal insufficiency eventually lead to end stage renal disease (ESRD). The development of ESRD means they will require dialysis or transplantation for survival. Most Americans who suffer ESRD opt for a kidney transplant, but the wait for a donor kidney is often a year or more. The preferable course in a transplant situation is for a deceased or living relative (e.g. a parent or sibling over age 18 and compatible) to donate a kidney. While awaiting a donor, an ESRD patient must undergo dialysis treatment while on the waiting list for a deceased donor transplant. Children have the shortest waiting time on the deceased donor transplant list. The average waiting time for children age 0-17 years is approximately 275-300 days; the average waiting time for a transplant candidate who is 18-44 years old is approximately 700 days.
The Effects
Following transplantation the children will require immunosuppressive medications for the remainder of their lives to prevent rejection of the transplanted kidney. Medications used to prevent rejection have considerable side effects. Corticosteroids are commonly used following transplantation. The side effects of corticosteroids are Cushingnoid features (fat deposition around the cheeks and abdomen and back), weight gain, emotional instability, cataracts, decreased growth, osteomalacia and osteonecrosis (softening of the bones and bone pain), hypertension, acne, and difficulty in controlling glucose levels. The steroid side effects, particularly the effects on appearance, are difficult for children, particularly teenagers, and non-compliance with the treatment regimen is a problem with teenagers due to unsightly side effects. Cyclosporine and tacrolimus are also commonly used immunosuppressants. Side effects of these drugs include hirsutism (increased hair growth), gum hypertrophy, interstitial fibrosis in the kidney (damage to the kidney), as well as other complications. Meclophenalate and imuran are also commonly used, each of which can cause a low white blood cell count and increased susceptibility to infection. Many other immunosuppressive medications and other medications (anti-hypertensive agents, anti-acids, etc) are prescribed in the post-operative period. Immunosuppressants like those described above function to reduce the body¡¯s immune response, thereby preserving the transplanted kidney, which the body would otherwise recognize as foreign and dangerous, thereby setting off a chain of events that would culminate in kidney rejection. But because a healthy and timely immune response is a critical host defense against illness, life-long immunosuppression necessarily dictates a life-long, heightened susceptibility to infection, accelerated atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), cancer, and chronic kidney rejection.
Bone disease is nearly universal in patients with chronic renal failure. As a result, the children will be prone to develop bone pain, skeletal deformities and slipped epiphyses (abnormal shaped bones and abnormal hip bones) and have a propensity for fractures with minor trauma. Treatment of the bone disease associated with chronic renal failure includes control of serum phosphorous and calcium levels with restriction of phosphorus in the diet, supplementation of calcium, the need to take phosphorus binders and the need to take medications for bone disease.
Another common complication of chronic renal failure is anemia. Patients with chronic renal failure gradually become anemic. The anemia can be treated with human recombinant erythropoietin (a shot given under the skin one to three times a week or once every few weeks with a longer acting human recombinant erythropoietin).
Another complication of ESRD is growth failure. Growth failure ultimately leading to short height as an adult is a very common complication of chronic renal failure in children. Growth hormone therapy with human recombinant growth hormone has been approved for use in children with chronic renal failure and such therapy has been shown to accelerate growth, induce persistent catch up growth and lead to normal adult height in children with chronic renal failure. Growth hormone therapy requires giving a shot under the skin once a day.
As the children develop ESRD, they will not immediately receive a kidney transplant. Instead they will require dialysis. There are two modes of dialysis he might undergo. They can be on peritoneal dialysis or on hemodialysis. Peritoneal dialysis has been a major modality of therapy for chronic renal failure for several years. Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD) and automated peritoneal dialysis also called Continuous Cycling Peritoneal Dialysis (CCPD) are the most common form of dialysis therapy used in children with chronic renal failure. CAPD/CCPC. In this form of dialysis, a catheter is placed in the peritoneal cavity (area around the stomach); dialysate (fluid to clean the blood) is placed into the abdomen and changed 4 to 6 times a day. Parents and adolescents are able to perform CAPD/CCPD at home. Peritonitis (infection of the fluid) is a major complication of peritoneal dialysis. Hemodialysis has also been used for several years for the treatment of chronic renal failure during childhood. During hemodialysis, blood in taken out of the body by a catheter or fistula and circulated in an artificial kidney to clean the blood. Hemodialysis is usually performed three times a week for 3-4 hours each time in a dialysis unit.
Finally, no kidney transplant lasts forever. United States Renal Data Systems states that the half-life?i.e. the time at which 50% of transplanted kidneys are still functional and 50% have stopped functioning?is 10.5 years for children 0-17 whose transplanted kidney came from a deceased, unrelated donor, and 15.5 years where the kidney comes from a living, related donor. Similar data for a transplant at age 18 to 44 years is 10.1 years and 16.0 years for a deceased donor and a living related donor, respectively. Each transplant will be preceded by ESRD, dialysis, an increase in kidney-related medical problems and then the recovery from transplantation.
The Lesson?
Was and is the consumption of raw goats milk worth the risk?
Posted on August 3, 2009 by Bill Marler

FSIS outlines beef bench trim rules
Source of Article:
By Rita Jane Gabbett on 8/3/2009
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service has issued two notices providing further details of Friday's announcement that beef bench trim at non-slaughter facilities will now be routinely tested for E. coli O157:H7.
For the purposes of the rule, FSIS is defining bench trim as: "beef manufacturing trimmings derived form cattle not slaughtered on site at the establishment. Such trim may include secondary trimming of primals and subprimals resulting in small or large pieces and any other cuts designated for non-intact use."
Therefore, the sampling frame will include establishments that receive whole or half carcasses, primals, and boneless boxed beef that they use to produce bench trim.
FSIS will verify by Aug 31 whether an establishment is subject to the new sampling, including volume information.
Sampling, steaks and roasts
If the establishment produces bench trim resulting in large pieces, the products will be sampled using N60 sampling procedures. If the trim is too small to use N60 procedures or produces trim from steaks, roast or other cuts designated for non-intact use, inspectors will collect enough pieces to equal 2 pounds of product for sampling.
FSIS said if bench trim tests positive for E. coli O157:H7 from steaks and roasts that are non-intact, or are to be made non-intact (e.g. they have been or will be needle tenderized), that "would evidence that the steaks or roasts are also positive and thus adulterated."
The agency went on to say, "However, the establishment may have a supportable basis for distinguishing the steak or roast from the bench trim. For example, if the establishment applies an antimicrobial treatment to the steaks or roasts before tenderization, but not to the bench trim, the establishment may be able to support that the positive applies only to the bench trim."
FSIS noted that if an establishment's records and HACCP documents are unclear about the intended use of bench trim, inspectors are to consider the product as intended for use in raw ground beef products and sample the product.
To read the bench trim notice in its entirety, click here. For the revised directive to inspectors click here.
For more information on FSIS's notice, see USDA to test bench trim for E. coli, on Meatingplace, July 31, 2009.

House passes bill to widen FDA role in food safety
Source of Article:

Issue Date: August 5, 2009

By Christine Souza
Assistant Editor

Legislation to provide the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with greater authority and resources to address food safety issues passed the House of Representatives last week.

H.R. 2749 gives FDA the authority to conduct more frequent inspections, order recalls and tell companies how to keep records to ensure that products are traced more easily. Most food companies would also be required to register with the FDA and pay an annual fee for each of their facilities.

Josh Rolph, director of congressional relations in the California Farm Bureau National Affairs and Research Division, said the bill evolved after a strong push by some members of Congress who wanted a very broad regulatory reach for FDA, including control over meat inspections currently held by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Rolph said ultimately a line was clearly drawn, excluding meat inspections and exempting grain crops. The focus was narrowed to what were considered "higher risk" commodities such as leafy greens, tomatoes and melons.

CFBF opposed the House bill, but Rolph said Farm Bureau will continue to work on the legislation as it proceeds through Congress, to make it less burdensome for farmers and ranchers.

"There are a lot of unkowns for farmers in the House bill. If we are going to operate under this new regulatory regime, we need to do it within reason and not create new regulatory burdens that really, in the end, don't have a true impact on improving the safety of our food beyond what we already do in California on a voluntary basis," he said. "Farmers are in the business of food safety. But this bill would force them to concentrate on paperwork, keeping farmers in the office, instead of in the field."

Rolph said food safety is a top concern, but said it is unclear if food borne illnesses will be reduced as a result of this bill, authored by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. The House passed H.R. 2749 by a vote of 283-142.

California Farm Bureau Federation director Benny Jefferson, who grows leafy greens and vegetables in Salinas, indicated that farmers in his growing region of California are "ahead of the game" regarding food safety.

"When it comes to food safety, we're there," Jefferson said. "Because the majority of us who grow leafy greens in Salinas have signed onto the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, we are well ahead of the rest of the world."

Jefferson hopes that as the Senate crafts its own food safety bill, it will focus on the entire food distribution system and not solely on farms. He would also like to see more traceability written into the bill, so that the farmer is not held accountable for a food borne illness that originated further along the supply chain.

One CFBF goal in the Senate legislation is to add language requiring FDA to compensate growers when actions taken by the agency lead to crop and market price losses. Last year, FDA wrongly identified fresh tomatoes as the source of a food borne illness.

"There should be some indemnification which compensates farmers for an erroneous decision," Jefferson said. "Remember what happened with the tomato industry? Hundreds of millions of dollars in losses occurred after the mention of a possible outbreak in fresh tomatoes from California, when the cause actually originated in peppers. That is what has all of us worried."

In another action to address food safety, the FDA proposed food safety guidance documents late last week for leafy greens, melons and tomatoes that cover the entire supply chain. The voluntary, commodity-specific recommendations were called for by President Obama's Food Safety Working Group. The guidance documents are intended to supplement existing FDA guidelines, including good agricultural practices, which were developed in 1998 to minimize microbial food safety hazards for fresh-cut fruits and vegetables.

Ed Beckman, president of California Tomato Farmers in Fresno, said his organization is gratified with the release of the guidance document for fresh tomatoes, which resulted from a partnership between the tomato sector and government.

"We've focused on the true risks that exist throughout the entire supply chain," Beckman said. "The recommendations that have come forth are based upon science and the best available risk analysis and we believe if you look at the FDA timeline, they are thinking about turning this into regulation within two years. We fully support that."

The guidance document, Beckman said, should exactly pinpoint where an outbreak has occurred.

"In the most recent outbreaks that were in fact associated with fresh tomatoes, the problem area was not at the grower and shipper level, but further up the distribution chain in fresh-cut processing," Beckman said. "We now have some very strong guidance from FDA that is reflective of where problems may have occurred in tomatoes in past years. It doesn't apply just to the farmer who oftentimes seems to be bearing the blame. This actually shows that the responsibility for food safety may begin on the farm, but it doesn't end on the farm."

But Joe Colace Jr. of Five Crowns Marketing, a grower-shipper of cantaloupes, honeydews and variety melons in Brawley, sees the guidance document for melons as being "over the top."

"U.S. melon producers are doing everything within the good agricultural practices set forth by the FDA. We implement much of what has already been stated, but we often suffer because of imports that have proven to contain micro-organisms," Colace said. "I'm very frustrated over what are potential regulations (for U.S. producers) that are really more in response to imports than domestic products."

FDA seeks comments on food safety draft guidances
Source of Article:
8/04/2009-The Food and Drug Administration has published a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register seeking comment on its draft guidances to improve the safety of tomatoes, leafy greens, and melons.
These commodity-specific guidances (CSGs) developed for growers, packers, processors, transporters, retailers, and others throughout the supply chain set out instructions for identifying and implementing measures to minimize the risk of microbial contamination.
In developing the CSGs, FDA relied heavily on existing commodity-specific guidances, lessons learned from outbreaks and investigations, and other public and private programs. Publication of these guidances is consistent with the principles embraced by the White House Food Safety Working Group, announced recently by Vice President Joe Biden.
Comments on guidance may be submitted at any time; however, to ensure that comments are received in time for FDA¡¯s consideration in drafting final guidance, written or electronic comments should be submitted within 90 days of publication in the Federal Register. Submit written comments to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Submit electronic comments to All comments should be identified with the docket number listed in the notice of availability as published in the Federal Register. The docket number is FDA-2009-D-0348.
For questions regarding this draft document, contact the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at 301-436-1700.
Federal Register notice
Press release
CFSAN Constituent Update

More antibiotic-resistant Salmonella cases reported in Colorado
Source of Article:

Posted on August 4, 2009 by Suzanne Schreck
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) issued an updated Salmonella outbreak alert on Juy 31. In it, CDPHE announced that 21 cases of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella Newport have been reported in Colorado. Most ill individuals sick with Salmonella Newport reported experiencing symptoms of Salmonella infection beginning in late June or early July, and while CDPHE did not announce that a second ground beef recall had been issued, the agency did warn consumers about the possibility that ground beef they have in their freezers could be contaminated with antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella.
This most recent drug-resistant Salmonella outbreak follows on the heels of a July 22, 2009 USDA announcement that King Soopers was recalling ground beef for Salmonella contamination. The recalled meat was also contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Salmonella (DT104), and was source of a Salmonella outbreak among residents of several states. According to news reports, most of the illnesses reportedly associated with the earlier Salmonella DT104 outbreak were also among Colorado residents.
In its July 31 press release, CDPHE stated:
This is the second large Salmonella outbreak that the department has investigated in July. Both outbreaks have been linked to ground beef. Further investigation with the USDA in to the source of the meat in this outbreak is ongoing.
Alicia Cronquist, the foodborne disease epidemiologist at the state health department, said, ¡°We can¡¯t be certain that ground beef is the source of these infections, but we are concerned enough that it might be and want consumers to be aware.¡±
Antibiotic-resistant Salmonella contamination in ground beef has increasingly been implicated as the source of human illness. On its drug-resistant Salmonella page, the World Health Organization states:
The emergence of Salmonella strains that are resistant to commonly used antimicrobials should be particularly noted by clinicians, microbiologists and those responsible for the control of communicable diseases, as well as the food producers including the food industry. Control of drug-resistant Salmonella is most efficiently achieved through the reduction of antimicrobial use. Prudent usage in food animals should be combined with good husbandry, good abattoir practice and good hygiene at all stages in the food production chain, from processing plants to kitchens and food service establishments. These combined efforts should reduce the numbers of the relevant strains in food animals and lower the risk of contamination by resistant Salmonella at all stages in the food production chain.
While activities addressing the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in foodborne microorganisms are ongoing, the magnitude of the problem is largely unknown in many countries. International collaborative efforts, including efforts in support of surveillance and risk assessment, need to be increased.
H.R. 1549 - Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009 proposes the restriction of antibiotic use in feed animals to therapeutic purposes only to prevent the emergence of additional antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella and other foodborne pathogens in our food supply. The passage of this bill could be a huge step toward preventing future outbreaks like the two that have struck in Colorado this summer.

New technology kills bacteria in packaged foods
Source of Article:
Posted: Aug 03, 2009 6:35 AM PDT
Like many people who have suffered from food poisoning, Pat Cantwell remembers the incident well. "Probably 4-5 hours where I became very ill"
It's estimated that 76 million cases of food poisoning occur each year and giving food a quick rinse isn't always enough.
Now, food processing engineers at Purdue University have a new way to eliminate harmful bacteria in packaged foods like spinach and tomatoes. It has the potential to kill the bacteria without any type of further changing the product and without chemical residues.
The technology used a set of coils that generate 15,000 volts of electricity and are placed on the outside of a sealed food package. The high voltage knocks apart oxygen and nitrogen molecules inside the package, forming ozone which kills bacteria like E.coli and salmonella.
Using less energy than a light bulb, the technology treats packaged food and gives it a longer shelf-life. That's because the process also kills bacteria that causes spoilage, so the food can literally be treated to allow it to last longer in the refrigerator.

12-hour Detection of Salmonella in Raw Meats
Source of Article:

A new protocol for Bio-Rad's real-time PCR iQ-CheckTM Salmonella II kit has been certified by AFNOR validation for the fast detection of Salmonella in raw meats. The protocol uses a shortened enrichment of only 8 hours in buffered peptone water. Different raw meats were tested including poultry pig and beef.

Salmonellosis continues to be one of the major zoonoses, second only to campylobacteriosis. The intestinal track of wild and domestic animals is the common reservoir for Salmonella, resulting in a variety of meat products as sources of infections. Major recognized sources of human Salmonella infections are eggs and egg-products, followed by different meats such as poultry, turkey and pig meat. According to the latest EFSA report on zoonoses in the European Union in 2007, prevalence of this pathogen in pig carcasses was around 8.3% and 2-11% in retail broilers.
Testing fresh meat products rapidly and with reliable and specific tests is critical in an industry that needs to make quick and accurate decisions on product release. Bio-Rad's iQ-CheckTM Salmonella II test offers an ultra-fast solution for ensuring fresh meat products are free of Salmonella.
iQ-CheckTM kits are based on automated real-time polymerase chain reaction (RTi-PCR) and detection, using specific probes for high accuracy and specificity of results. Other kits available are for detection of Listeria monocytogenes, Listeria spp., E. coli O157:H7 and Campylobacter spp. All kits have the same thermal protocol, so assays can be run at the same time on either a low throughput 48-well MiniOpticon¢â or high throughput 96-well Chromo4¢â systems.

Single non-specific enrichment
Results in no more than 12 hours
Same thermal protocol as other iQ-CheckTM kits
Simple to use, with automated detection and result reporting
AFNOR - ISO 16140 certification

Merck Chromocult¢ç Coliform Agar now Approved for Processed Food
Source of Article:

Part of the innovative lineup of Chromocult¢ç culture media from Merck, Chromocult¢ç Coliform Agar is now officially approved by the AOAC¢ç Research Institute for use in processed food. A test of three processed foods, sausages, cooked chicken, and non-fat dried milk, showed that Chromocult¢ç Coliform Agar demonstrates 100% equivalence to the AOAC¢ç Official Method 966.24. This AOAC¢ç Official method is used to detect and enumerate E. coli and Coliform bacteria by using Lauryl Sulfate broth and EC-Broth and needs up to 48 hours to get results.
US-EPA approved in water testing, Chromocult¢ç Coliform Agar now qualifies as an alternative for food manufacturers to prove their products are free of Coliforms/E.coli within 24 hours

About Chromocult¢ç Coliform Agar
Professionals commonly measure the hygiene of food production and water by testing it for Coliform/E. coli. Processing food and water reduces the number of these bacteria and may also cause metabolic injury. Traditional culture media listed in standard detection methods for E. coli and Coliforms often contain ox bile or bile salts to inhibit Gram-positive bacteria. These strong inhibitors, however, may restrict target microorganisms' growth if they are already sublethally damaged.
In the past, microbiology professionals had no access to methods and resuscitation media for injured Coliforms. With the carefully selected inhibitors in Merck's Chromocult¢ç Coliform Agar, these professionals can be sure that damaged microorganisms recover and grow.
About the study
In a test comprised of sausages, cooked chicken, and non-fat dried milk, Merck's Chromocult¢ç Coliform Agar method matched the performance of the AOAC Official Method 966.24, Lauryl sulfate broth and EC-Broth, by 100%. All typical colonies from Chromocult¢ç Coliform Agar were confirmed as either E. coli or Coliforms.
Inclusivity and exclusivity data are also available for this study. To demonstrate inclusivity, 53 isolates of E. coli and non-E. coli Coliforms were inoculated.
The results showed that all E. coli strains tested produced typical violet colonies and all non-E. coli Coliforms produced typical pink colonies. Taken together, this yields an inclusivity rate of 100%.
To demonstrate exclusivity, 44 isolates of non-Coliform bacteria were inoculated. Most of the strains tested produced colorless colonies or were completely inhibited. Only three strains produced turquoise colonies. As a result, Chromocult¢ç Coliform Agar yielded a 100% exclusivity rate.

Food Safety Consultant - Eastern U.S.

Agricultural Consulting Services

Principal Responsibilities: Deliver food safety services to the agricultural, fresh produce and food processing community. Services include consulting to evaluate operations, make recommendations for improving established food safety practices or design and implementation of food safety programs. For customers where consulting services are not provided this position will also conduct second or third party audits utilizing established and recognized food safety audit schemes. The position will require approximately 40% travel to destinations in the eastern U.S. and Canada.

Skills Required: A successful candidate will typically have a four year degree in food science, microbiology, biology or related science. The candidate will also have a minimum of 4 years experience in a fresh produce or food processing production system. The experience is ideally in a position where responsibilities would include quality assurance or food safety management/supervision. The ideal candidate will have experience with agricultural aspects of food production as well as handling, processing and/or distribution of fresh or processed food products. Direct experience as a food safety auditor is also desirable experience.

Agricultural Consulting Services: ACS is the largest agricultural consulting company in the eastern U.S. We service the agricultural and food production community with crop production, environmental, food safety and software services. Our rapidly expanding work in food safety services necessitates we increase our staffing. We are seeking qualified candidates to fill this position immediately.

Submit all letters of interest, resume¡¯s and qualifications to Bruce Wilkins at

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