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Subway faces 34 cases in Shigella outbreak
on March 15, 2010 by Drew Falkenstein
The Subway restaurant located on Roosevelt Road in Lombard, Illinois
is at the epicenter of a major shigella outbreak that began in late
February and continued into early March. Latest reports estimate the
number of confirmed cases in the outbreak at around 50, but there are
surely many, many more people who have been sickened in the outbreak.
We have been contacted by the families of 34 people who have family
members sickened in the outbreak, and are litigating the individual
claims of all 34 people. We have filed two cases thus far, on behalf
of the son of Ron and Sarah Bowers, and Barbara Romero. Tomorrow, we
will file suit on behalf of Mike Carpino, another victim of the outbreak.
The Subway outbreak is an unfortunate set of circumstances. The nature
of the product, and how the finished sandwiches are ultimately produced,
with hand-to-food contact with virtually every individual sandwich component,
means that there are multiple opportunities for insidious bacteria from
an infected worker to contaminate the food. And without a kill step,
there is virtually no way to rid the food of bacteria once it becomes
These circumstances have been brought to bear in a big way against the
people of Lombard Illinois. If there are an estimated 50 confirmed illnesses,
there are likely hundreds of people who have contracted Shigella but
simply have not been confirmed positive by stool test.
Over 40 claims currently pending in Subway Shigella
Posted on March 17, 2010 by Drew Falkenstein
At Marler Clark, we represent foodpoisoning victims from across the
country. Many of our foodpoisoning clients are people sickened with
bacteria and viruses like E. coli, Salmonella, campylobacter, Hepatitis
A, norovirus, and of course Shigella. As has been widely publicized,
a major outbreak has occurred at the Subway restaurant on Roosevelt
Road in Lombard, Illinois. The outbreak has likely left hundreds of
people ill, including over 40 people who have contacted our firm for
representation in claims against the restaurant.
The Lombard Subway shigella outbreak prompts a basic question: why is
this outbreak so large? Why have so many people fallen ill? Answers
will come, as the Dupage County Health Department continues its investigation
into the circumstances and causes of the outbreak. But there are certain,
readily apparent circumstances that have likely contributed to the large
scale of the outbreak.
The nature of the product, and how the finished sandwiches are ultimately
produced, with hand-to-food contact with virtually every individual
sandwich component, means that there are multiple opportunities for
insidious bacteria from an infected worker to contaminate the food.
And without a kill step, there is virtually no way to rid the food of
bacteria once it becomes contaminated. See complete article.
We will have to wait for the results of Dupage County Health Department's
investigation before knowing for sure what failures occurred at Subway
restaurant to cause such a large outbreak. Notably, however, the restaurant
has been closed for some time now, which is not something that always
happens in restaurant outbreak situations. Generally, the closure of
a restaurant is an extreme step taken when the investigating health
department believes that there is the potential for environmental contamination--i.e.
contamination of surfaces and equipment, likely from ill employees and
poor sanitation practices--at the restaurant.
in Shigella outbreak at 78
Published: March. 18, 2010
at 11:36 AM
LOMBARD, Ill., March 18 (UPI) -- An official in DuPage County, Ill.,
says a total of 78 people have fallen ill due to a Shigella outbreak
at a sandwich shop in the Chicago suburb of Lombard.
DuPage County Health Department spokesman David Hass said 11 people
were hospitalized due to illnesses from the outbreak as of Wednesday,
with 10 of those individuals already being discharged, the Chicago Tribune
The condition of the 11th patient, as well as the other reported victims,
was not specified.
Hass said the investigation into the outbreak at the Subway restaurant
in Lombard is ongoing. The eatery is currently closed.
Shigella, a genus of bacteria, can infect humans, causing symptoms such
as diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps and vomiting
No link between
Siena meats and Canadian Listeria deaths
By Rory Harrington, 16-Mar-2010
Consumers in Canada have been warned not to eat Siena Foods cooked ham
on fears of Listeria monocytogenes contamination - but five recent deaths
in Ontario are not thought to be linked to the produce.
The Ontario state body leading the investigation told FoodProductionDaily.com
that while there had been a spike in cases in the last two months, no
links have been established between the firm¡¯s meat and five listeria
deaths in the province this year.
The alarm was raised late last week when the Ontario Ministry of Health,
the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and the company itself warned against
eating Siena Brand Prosciutto Cotto cooked ham sold after January 11,
2010 with best before dates of March 8 and March 22, 2010.
Dr. Arlene King, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health said the
recall had been made after it was confirmed the genetic fingerprint
of the Siena product was a match to two listeriosis cases in the province.
Both individuals had been hospitalized but now recovering after being
discharged. The genetic fingerprint was also a match to Siena Brand
mild cacciatore salami that was recalled in December.
No link to five deaths
The Ministry said there had been a higher-than-normal number of listeriosis
cases in the province so far this year with more than a dozen cases
already reported ? including five fatalities. There are usually about
40 cases annually in the state.
¡°Ontario has 14 cases of listeriosis so far this year,¡± Ontario Health
Ministry spokesman Andrew Morrison said. ¡°Unfortunately, five cases
out of the 14 have died, but it is important to note that none of the
deaths are linked to Siena products at this time. There is no food consumption
history nor lab data supporting a link to Siena products at this time
outside of the two cases with matching ¡®DNA fingerprints¡¯ that we reported
Ten of the other 12 remaining cases all have different DNA patterns
and do not appear to be linked in any way to one another - while laboratory
results are still pending for the remaining two cases. All cases involve
The company has ceased production of its Toronto plant and is working
with CFIA inspectors to sanitise the facility.
a restaurant? Don't count on the court
Date: Thursday Mar. 11, 2010 3:03 PM PT
Lawsuits against restaurants for alleged food poisoning have little
chance of success in court, says a lawyer who has defended fast food
Most people don't collect evidence from the restaurant or samples of
their suffering, or even go to a doctor -- essentials to convincing
a judge -- and a lack of evidence dooms their claims from the start,
said Bernard Buettner of Harper Grey LLP.
"We're left in the courts with a more stringent standard of proof
than what you and I might apply at a cocktail party," said Buettner.
Someone thinking of suing must prove that their illness comes from contaminated
food they ate at a restaurant, he said. Although it sounds common sense,
there are many barriers to having such a case work, he said.
For a start, most of us eat more than one meal a day, and it's difficult
to prove that any particular meal caused a problem.
Many don't go to their doctors and get a medical opinion before the
symptoms subside, which can be crucial evidence in a court.
People rarely collect evidence of their illness, such as vomit or stool.
And unless they took a doggy bag home they will have eaten any other
Without all that, said Buettner, their sicknesses "could just as
easily have been the flu."
Those are the kinds of barriers Maple Ridge resident Karl Bindseil faced
when he fell ill in 2004. He has colitis -- a debilitating inflammation
of the digestive tract -- that stops him from working.
"The pain was so bad I was screaming," he told CTV News. "It
was that bad."
Bindseil claimed in court that his doctor told him it was food poisoning
and may have been related to a set of burgers that he and some friends
consumed at a Delta McDonald's.
"(The doctor) said you can get this from water, or fast food, and
I said, I just ate at McDonald's two days ago. He said, that's probably
where you go it," said Bindseil.
But in court, McDonald's argued there were no other complaints of food
poisoning at the restaurant. Another doctor argued that Bindseil had
a pre-existing condition of colitis, and said any bacteria found in
Bindseil's stool wasn't likely to be connected to the McDonald's burger.
Bindseil didn't present any sample of what he ate.
On a balance of probabilities, the judge could find no link between
the food Bindseil ate and his illness.
"The timing of his illness and the symptoms suffered by the other
patron witnesses raises suspicions about the food," wrote Justice
Janet Bruce. "However, this circumstantial evidence is not sufficient
to establish on a balance of probabilities that either the food was
contaminated or that the food poisoning caused Mr. Bindseil's colitis."
McDonald's refused to comment on the lawsuit.
Vancouver's health inspectors say that if you get sick, you should call
them right away. Inspectors can take samples of a restaurant's food
and also inspect the business and shut it down if there are serious
"If we get called we'll investigate," said Nick Losito, Vancouver
Coastal Health's director of health protection.
They will post the shutdown on their website, which means bad word of
mouth can scare restaurantgoers away, and hurt the restaurant in the
pocketbook, said Losito.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jon Woodward and Mi-Jung Lee
to add teeth to proposed food safety bill
By TERRICHA BRADLEY ? News Journal ? March 12, 2010
MANSFIELD -- The issue of
food-borne illnesses is making waves on the national scene again this
week. It's a topic north central Ohio residents know well.
In 2008 six people in eastern Crawford County were diagnosed with food-borne
illnesses. Four more cases took place in Ashland County.
In 2009, the Galion Health Department had 30 suspected cases of foodborne
illness, but Environmental Health Director Stephanie Zmuda said none
of them were confirmed.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed comprehensive food safety legislation
last year. However, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, announced Wednesday
he is working for swift approval of the FDA Food Safety Modernization
Act, while seeking to make improvements to the bill.
"Too many Ohio families are already struggling to put food on the
table. They shouldn't also have to worry about the safety of that food,"
Brown said. "But we've seen a flood of imported food from countries
that ignore food safety, and our own system has not been able to keep
pace with changes in food production.
Brown is the author of the Food Safety and Tracking Improvement Act
(S. 425), which would establish a nationwide tracking system through
the FDA to identify and track the sources of tainted food.
While the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act would allow FDA to establish
a traceability system that applies to raw agricultural commodities,
it would not allow FDA to track processed foods.
Brown is working to expand the traceability system from only produce
to all FDA-regulated foods, give the FDA new enforcement authority,
and prevent imported foods from entering the U.S. if they do not comply
with traceability requirements.
"We must do a better job of preventing, detecting and minimizing
foodborne illnesses," Brown said.
Recent Ohio Department of Health data showed in 2008 more than 1,900
Ohio maladies stemmed from a foodborne illness. An estimated 76 million
people in the U.S. get sick each year with foodborne illness and 5,000
die, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Brown's bill is working through Congress amid another investigation
of tainted food -- this time for a flavor enhancing ingredient (hydrolyzed
vegetable protein). No illnesses have been associated with the recall,
according to the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. The FDA has listed more than 100 recalled products
dating to September, including two flavors of Pringles potato chips,
Cheeseburger and Taco Night, that were recalled this week.
The pending legislation would increase the frequency of plant inspections
and strengthen record-keeping requirements and food traceability systems,
while giving the FDA the authority to issue mandatory recalls of tainted
foods. It would also require heightened scrutiny of food imports, which
account for an increasing share of U.S. food consumption.
China vows further
food safety clampdown
By Rory Harrington , 12-Mar-2010
China has said its aim this year on food safety is to avoid any major
contamination crises as it continues to struggle to impose national
standards on food producers and processors.
Announcing the latest in a string of safety initiatives, a leading government
official said it would intensify scrutiny on the food supply chain in
a bid to prevent or catch tainted products reaching food processors.
Vice Minister of Agriculture Wei Chao'an said this week that agricultural
officials at all levels are working this year "to prevent any large-scale
food safety crises¡± by clamping down on thousands of farms ? particularly
those involved in the production of dairy products.
Assurances from Chinese authorities that it had improved its food safety
system after the introduction of a new law last summer and the formation
of a number of new committees have been undermined by the continuing
appearance of melamine-tainted products in recent months. The dairy
products, contaminated with the industrial chemical, were left over
from the 2008 scandal that killed six and sickened 300,000.
Wei said China was working to bring more farms under better supervision,
a challenge in a vast country where some rural areas are still very
"Our agricultural products overall are safe and of high quality,
but we must also recognize that while we transition from traditional
to modern farming, many of our operations remain scattered, production
methods are still backward and our supervision lags behind," he
A government statement issued this week promised to "implement
quality and safety monitoring programs targeting raw and fresh milk,
and strengthen supervision of purchase stations for raw and fresh milk."
It also vowed to release national quality standards for dairy products
Officials also mentioned an incident in late February, when the southern
Hainan Province took emergency measures to stop toxic cow peas from
entering the market after about 3.5 tonnes of cow peas found were tainted
with a poisonous pesticide.
¡±To prevent such incidents and help ensure food safety, the country
plans to increase the frequency of food tests and inspections - especially
for dairy products and other high-risk food,¡± said the official statement.
FDA mulls safety crackdown for spices
By Lyndsey Layton
The Washington Post
Posted: 03/14/2010 01:00:00
WASHINGTON ? The Food and Drug Administration is re-examining the safety
of a culinary staple found in every restaurant, food manufacturing plant
and home kitchen pantry: spices.
In the middle of a nationwide outbreak of salmonella illness linked
to black and red pepper ? and after 16 separate U.S. recalls since 2001
of tainted spices ? federal regulators met last week with the industry
to study the problem.
Americans consumed on average about 3.5 pounds of spices in 2008, up
from 1.2 pounds in 1966, USDA records show.
Jeff Farrar, FDA associate commissioner for food safety, said the government
wants the industry to do more to prevent contamination. That would include
using one of three methods to rid spices of bacteria: irradiation, steam
heating or fumigation with ethylene oxide, a pesticide.
Except for red chile peppers, garlic and onions, most spices sold in
the United States are grown overseas, harvested by farmers from small
plots of land or grown wild and gathered from different areas, where
pollution and water problems can create contamination hazards.
"You can import shoes, tables, lamps and chairs from anywhere in
the world and you kind of know what you're going to get," said
Paul Kurpe of Elite Spice Inc. in Jessup, Md.
"But when you import food, you're importing their habits, traditions
and their standards of food safety."
U.S. forcing more meat inspections in Canada
By Sarah Schmidt, Canwest
News Service March 16, 2010
OTTAWA -- The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is scrambling to maintain
an increased presence at dozens of large meat-processing plants after
auditors from the United States Department of Agriculture found inspections
were too infrequent to meet U.S. food-safety standards, newly released
internal records show.
News of ongoing resource problems at CFIA comes as public-health authorities
are carrying out a high-profile listeriosis investigation involving
tainted meat at a federally inspected Toronto processing plant operated
by Siena Foods Ltd.
The ramped-up inspection cycle of at least one visit for every 12 hours
of production was instituted last November so operators in Canada, including
Siena Foods, could continue to export their products to the United States.
These plants are also authorized to distribute their products across
Siena Foods has now been blamed for producing tainted salami and prosciutto
dating back to last December that put two people in the hospital. Both
have since recovered from their bout of listeriosis, Ontario¡¯s chief
medical officer said Friday while confirming the genetic match to the
Since then, Siena Foods Ltd. and CFIA has announced the recall of three
additional Siena meat products for possible listeria-monocytogenes contamination
? Siena-brand Coppa, Prosciuttini and Prosciuttini Hot in packages weighing
approximately 300- to 400-grams, with best-before dates of June 20,
21 or 22 of this year.
The company also stopped production at its facility this weekend and
is working with CFIA inspectors to sanitize the plant.
This is the first time a facility has shut down since Canada was rocked
in the summer of 2008 with a deadly listeriosis outbreak linked to Maple
Leaf Foods deli meats.
The additional inspection coverage for 80 plants, instituted just weeks
before the first Siena recall in December, ¡°will allow us to better
meet the USDA¡¯s technical requirements for products exported to the
U.S.,¡± Cameron Prince, CFIA¡¯s vice-president of operations, wrote to
meat-inspection staff last November.
The correspondence and a two-page backgrounder, detailing how no meat
inspector ¡°will be required to work an unreasonable amount of overtime
per workday or per week,¡± was obtained by the agriculture union of the
Public Service Alliance of Canada.
President Bob Kingston said the ramped-up inspections at meat-processing
plants, including the Siena facility, were instituted after being notified
of system-wide shortcomings last fall by auditors of the USDA¡¯s Food
and Inspection Service.
¡°The USDA stepped in, and said, ¡®What¡¯s going on, it¡¯s always been a
requirement, why aren¡¯t you doing it?¡¯¡± he said of a 12-hour inspection
¡°They have to do every 12 hours to have access to the U.S. market. It¡¯s
as simple as that. There¡¯s no work around that, they can try and talk
the Americans out of it. If that¡¯s their goal, it¡¯s not been successful.¡±
After initially relying on volunteers to work overtime at plants to
meet the demands of the U.S. regulator, the extra shifts are now mandatory
because of a chronic shortage of meat inspectors, said Kingston.
¡°Our members have had it. They need some relief here.¡±
In the internal memo to staff, Prince said the agency recognizes it
¡°will need to hire additional inspection staff¡± to meet the U.S. rules.
¡°The CFIA continues to explore funding options as we refine how we deliver
these food safety enhancements. In the short term, we will be looking
to our current inspection staff to work hours in addition to their regularly
In a statement, the agency said there is an additional $13-million in
this year¡¯s budget to hire new staff meet the USDA 12-hour rule, which
it considers a reinterpretation of policy. This means CFIA can hire
approximately 100 new inspectors for meat and poultry facilities over
the coming year.
This is above and beyond the 70 inspectors, to be hired over the next
years. Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced those new hires in
response to a scathing report into the state of food safety in Canada,
carried out by independent investigator Sheila Weatherill in the wake
of the August 2008 listeriosis outbreak.
In her final report released last July, Weatherill painted a picture
of over-burdened meat inspectors.
In response to a query about the new demands placed onCFIA, the USDA¡¯s
Food Safety and Inspection Service in a statement said it conducts annual
audits ¡°to ensure that any nation exporting meat to the U.S. have a
meat-inspection system that is equivalent to that in the U.S.¡± and ¡°to
assess whether it is being effectively implemented. We are in the process
of analyzing information from our most recent Canadian audit.¡±
E coli O157:H7
testing by industry revisited
By Richard Raymond
Food (Safety) Fight
In my most recent blog, I indicated that slaughter establishments were
using third party labs to test for E. coli O157:H7, and that FSIS did
not have access to those results. And that was probably why the OIG
was asked to assist at Huntington Meats. I was told in a friendly email
that "the thrust of your blog may be a bit off the mark---we already
share." It was pointed out that any and all establishment test
results for adulterants have always been available to be shared with
plant inspection personnel. I trust my source, so I now stand corrected.
But we still have the fact that the industry, in the face of increasing
numbers of recalls and outbreaks, is relying more and more on in-plant
testing and outside labs. It has been "hypothesized" that
the primary slaughter establishments spend $27 million to $30 million
per year testing for pathogens. The amount of profit lost by diverting
presumptive positive product to cooking or rendering is a number kept
very close to the vest and not available for sharing, but it is plain
to see that industry is committed to producing a safe product at great
cost to their bottom line. That is why they want the additional interventions?they
would save money spent on testing in the long run, money that could
be used for even more interventions.
One controversial aspect to industry doing its own testing and diverting
is that if a product comes up presumptive positive industry does not
usually run the testing through the next steps to see if it will be
confirmed O157 or not. Instead, they divert that product to cooking
or rendering, removing it from the fresh, raw meat cases at retail.
This is all consistent with FSIS policy, a policy I approved of when
in DC and still do today.
It is my firm belief that if policy was written requiring industry to
follow up on all presumptive positives we would have better prevalence
data, but at what cost? Industry would either do less testing and divert
less possibly contaminated product, or eat the additional cost, leaving
fewer funds to pay for new, innovative interventions. Either way, the
consumer is the ultimate loser unless FSIS could find the funds (not
likely to happen) to replace much of the testing that industry in now
performing and paying for. Sometimes status quo just isn't all that
I don't like either option, how about you?
FDA targets processing of spices in bid to make supply
By Lyndsey Layton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 14, 2010
The Food and Drug Administration is reexamining the safety of a culinary
staple found in every restaurant, food manufacturing plant and home
kitchen pantry: spices.
In the middle of a nationwide outbreak of salmonella illness linked
to black and red pepper -- and after 16 U.S. recalls since 2001 of tainted
spices -- federal regulators met last week with the spice industry to
figure out ways to make the supply safer.
Jeff Farrar, the FDA's associate commissioner for food safety, said
the government wants the spice industry to do more to prevent contamination.
That would include using one of three methods to rid spices of bacteria:
irradiation, steam heating or fumigation with ethylene oxide, a pesticide.
"The bottom line is, if there are readily available validated processes
out there to reduce the risk of contamination, our expectation is that
they will use them," Farrar said. But the FDA cannot currently
Legislation pending in Congress would require food companies to take
steps, such as treating raw spices, to avoid contamination. The measure
would also mandate that importers verify the safety of foreign suppliers
and imported foods. The House overwhelmingly approved the bill last
year, but it has stalled in the Senate. Recent spice recalls have involved
contamination with salmonella, a group of bacteria that live in the
intestinal tracts of humans and other animals, including birds. Most
healthy people infected with salmonella recover within days, but the
illness can be serious and even fatal for small children, the elderly
and those with compromised immune systems.
The ongoing outbreak of salmonella illness connected to black and crushed
red pepper, which sparked a recall of those spices as well as salami
products made with them, has been linked to 249 illnesses in 44 states
and the District of Columbia. No deaths have been reported.
The long shelf life of spices and their widespread use make it difficult
for health officials to detect an outbreak of illness and connect it
to a particular spice.
Consumers often associate salmonella with poultry, meat and other moist
foods. But microbiologists say that the bacterium can survive in dried
spices for years and that it is tougher to kill in a dry environment.
Also, it takes only a small amount of salmonella in a dry environment
to cause human illness, said Linda Harris, a microbiologist at the University
of California at Davis.
Americans are eating more spices, consuming on average about 3.5 pounds
in 2008, compared with 1.2 pounds in 1966, Agriculture Department records
Contamination of raw ingredients has long been a problem in the spice
industry, according to Cheryl Deem, executive director of the American
Spice Trade Association. "The vast majority of spices are cultivated
outside of the U.S., where processing methods often result in contamination,"
Except for red chili peppers, garlic and onions, most spices sold in
the United States are grown overseas, including in India, Vietnam, Indonesia,
Egypt, Grenada, Sri Lanka, Spain, Morocco, Turkey, Brazil and China.
In developing countries, many spices are harvested by farmers from small
plots of land or grown wild and gathered from different areas, where
pollution and water problems can create contamination hazards.
"You can import shoes, tables, lamps and chairs from anywhere in
the world and you kind of know what you're going to get," said
Paul Kurpe of Elite Spice Inc. in Jessup, Md. "But when you import
food, you're importing their habits, traditions and their standards
of food safety."
Some say the spate of recalls over the past decade does not necessarily
mean the contamination problem is growing.
"In the last 15 years, food safety is just at an increasingly higher
level of awareness," Harris said. "We've got increased testing,
increased detection methods. I don't think what we're seeing is necessarily
a true increase in prevalence. I think it's an increase in our ability
Steve Markus, director of food safety and commercial products at Sterigenics
Inc., the biggest food irradiation company in the country, said about
half of the nation's spices are irradiated.
But he said nearly all companies using irradiation sell to industrial
customers. No retail spice company uses irradiation because federal
law requires disclosure of irradiation on the label, and the industry
thinks consumers will not buy those products."If the labeling issue
would go away, I think there would be a high interest to go to irradiation,"
Markus said, adding that irradiation is the cheapest and most effective
method to decontaminate spices.
Roger Lawrence is vice president for quality control at Maryland-based
McCormick's, the world's largest spice company. In its 121 years in
business, it has never pulled a spice product from the market because
of bacterial contamination, he said. McCormick's has built a comprehensive
system that begins with educating its overseas growers about safe agricultural
practices and ends with treatment of its finished product, he said.
The company uses a mixture of steam treatment and ethylene oxide fumigation
for the spices sold to retailers and irradiates only a small portion
of spices for industrial customers at their request, he said.
Harris, who is scheduled to address the spice industry at its annual
meeting next month, said her message is simple.
"With every outbreak, with every recall, you need to sit back,
pull your food safety team together and look at what you're doing, even
if it's to reassure yourself that you've got adequate controls in place,"
she said. "The spice industry in its entirety should be reevaluating
Producers Willing to Make Changes to Prevent E. coli O157 Contamination
on their Farms
-survey conducted for Bioniche Food Safety-
BELLEVILLE, ON, March 16 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ - Bioniche Life Sciences
Inc. (TSX: BNC), a research-based, technology-driven Canadian biopharmaceutical
company, today announced that a survey conducted among a random sample
of 771 Canadian beef and dairy farmers in all regions of Canada showed
that the majority are willing to implement changes on the farm to prevent
contamination by E. coli O157.
Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. has developed and licensed (in Canada) the
world's first vaccine to reduce the shedding by cattle of E. coli O157.
Econiche(TM) received full licensing approval from the Canadian Food
Inspection Agency (CFIA) in October, 2008 and is available for unrestricted
use by Canadian cattle producers and their veterinarians. The United
States Department of Agriculture (USDA) cleared the path for a conditional
license for the vaccine in February, 2008, and the Company is awaiting
issuance of that license.
In the independently conducted survey, just over half of the producers
surveyed expressed a willingness to vaccinate, but there was sensitivity
to the potential cost of a vaccination program. Those surveyed believe
the cost of a national vaccination program, if it were to be implemented,
should be shared between government and producers, with 88% of respondents
expressing willingness to vaccinate if the vaccine was provided free
of charge. Their main reasons for supporting vaccination were: Food
safety, the potential impact of recalls, and access to export markets.
"The use of chlorinated water, bacteriophages and probiotics help
control the organisms, but vaccination provides the greatest reduction
in fecal shedding," said Dr. Roy Lewis, a large animal veterinarian
in Westlock, Alberta (in the January, 2010 issue of Canadian Cattlemen
magazine). "With the vaccine, you are hitting the problem at its
very source, before the bacteria numbers get too high."
Added Dr. Lewis: "Vaccination, together with all the other preventive
steps, will hopefully keep this dreaded disease to a minimum and keep
consumer confidence in our beef as high as possible."
Econiche is a Canadian discovery
developed by Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. The vaccine has the potential
to significantly reduce the amount of E. coli O157 shed into the environment
by beef and dairy cattle. This organism does not cause illness in cattle,
but cattle are the primary reservoir for it. Most strains of E. coli
are harmless but some, like O157:H7, can cause severe illness and even
be fatal when ingested by humans from contaminated meat, vegetables
or water. Vaccination of cattle with Econiche can help reduce the risk
of food and waterborne contamination with E. coli O157.
On-farm interventions to
reduce the shedding of E. coli O157 by cattle, such as simple vaccination
of cattle with Econiche, have the potential to reduce food and water
contamination and the consequences associated with human infection with
the deadly bacteria.
The United States Department
of Agriculture (USDA)'s Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) developed
a risk assessment method to estimate how much human illness caused by
E. coli O157 can be prevented through the use of "pre-harvest interventions"
such as vaccination (Streamlined Analysis for Evaluating the Use of
Preharvest Interventions Intended to Prevent Escherichia coli O157:H7
Illness in Humans, Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, Volume 6, Number
7, 2009). Researchers created two economic production functions where
the input was the number of vaccinated cattle and the output was human
illness prevented. Although this was a hypothetical case study, it showed
that, "... vaccinating the entire U.S. herd at a cost of between
$2.29 and $9.14 per unit (depending on overall effectiveness of the
vaccine) would be a cost-effective intervention for preventing E. coli
O157:H7 illness in humans."
Human exposure and infection
with E. coli O157:H7 can result in serious health consequences, including
abdominal pain and severe bloody diarrhea. In severe cases, kidney damage
can occur and progress to serious complications and even death. In one
of the reported outbreaks, in Nestle Toll-House cookie dough, 76 persons
from 31 states in the U.S. have been infected with E. coli O157:H7,
with 35 of these hospitalized and 11 with Haemolytic Uremic Syndrome
(HUS) (see below).
Econiche is manufactured
in the Bioniche production facility in Belleville, Ontario, where a
$25-million expansion is taking place, supported by the Ontario and
Canadian governments. Vaccine supply will be limited during this manufacturing
About E. coli O157:H7
An estimated 100,000 cases of human infection with the E. coli O157:H7
organism are reported each year in North America. Two to seven per cent
of those people develop haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a disease
characterized by kidney failure. Five percent of HUS patients die, many
of them children and senior citizens, whose kidneys are more sensitive
In addition to being infected by contaminated food or water, individuals
can become infected from E. coli O157:H7 by visiting animal exhibits.
Petting zoos, fairs, and agricultural exhibits provide many possible
routes of transmission for E. coli. Direct animal contact is the obvious
route, but contact with contaminated products (e.g., sawdust, shavings,
soiled clothing or shoes) can also lead to human infection.
Econiche received international recognition in September 2007 by the
Animal Pharm Industry Excellence Awards as the best new veterinary product
for livestock globally. The vaccine has been developed by a strategic
alliance formed in 2000 between the University of British Columbia (UBC),
the Alberta Research Council (ARC), the University of Saskatchewan's
Vaccine & Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO), and Bioniche,
which holds the rights for worldwide commercialization of the vaccine.
The vaccine prevents the E. coli O157 bacteria from attaching to the
intestines of vaccinated cattle, thereby reducing their reproduction
within the animal, and reducing the amount of bacteria that can be released
through cattle manure in the environment. More than 30,000 cattle have
been involved in clinical testing of the vaccine.
About Bioniche Life Sciences
Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. is a research-based, technology-driven Canadian
biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, manufacturing,
and marketing of proprietary products for human and animal health markets
worldwide. The fully-integrated company employs approximately 190 skilled
personnel and has three operating divisions: Human Health, Animal Health,
and Food Safety. The Company's primary goal is to develop proprietary
cancer therapies supported by revenues from marketed products in human
and animal health. Bioniche has been named one of the Top 50 Best Small
and Medium-Sized Employers in Canada for 2009. For more information,
please visit www.Bioniche.com.
Except for historical information,
this news release may contain forward-looking statements that reflect
the Company's current expectation regarding future events. These forward-looking
statements involve risk and uncertainties, which may cause, but are
not limited to, changing market conditions, the successful and timely
completion of clinical studies, the establishment of corporate alliances,
the impact of competitive products and pricing, new product development,
uncertainties related to the regulatory approval process, and other
risks detailed from time to time in the Company's ongoing quarterly
and annual reporting. SOURCE Bioniche Life Sciences Inc.
antibiotics tackle bacterial resistance
new approach to combating antibiotic resistance draws on lessons learned
from targeted therapies for cancer.
Staff Writers (Australian
Life Scientist) 16/03/2010 12:38:00
Antibiotic resistance is
increasing to such a level that there are fears that within 20 years
antibiotics will cease to function, an eventuality that could take us
back to the days before penicillin.
Compounds that block the bacteria's pathogenicity instead of killing
them outright may be a solution to this confounding problem.
The lack of effective antibiotics has become more and more acute as
the number of bacterial strains resistant to antibiotics has increased.
One of the companies that working on new ways to fight against the pathogenic
bacteria is Creative Antibiotics based in Umea in Sweden.
The company was founded in 2000 under the name Innate Pharmaceuticals,
with the intention to commercialise research from the Univeristy of
Umea, Karolinska Institute and Univeristy of Stockholm.
CEO, Ulf Boberg, compares the company¡¯s compounds with the targeting
antibodies used to treat cancer today.
These compounds neutralise only disease-causing bacteria without harming
harmless strains, just as targeted antibodies do not affect healthy
¡°The medical industry has long hoped to cure infectious diseases by
finding a common target of all disease-causing organisms. But this success
has proven elusive,¡± says Boberg.
¡°Therefore we have chosen one compound that strikes against a target
that exists in some disease-causing bacteria but not in all.¡±
The target structure he refers to is type III secretion system, T3SS,
which can be likened to a trunk or a syringe, and is found in most of
the gram-negative bacteria that cause disease in humans, including:
Salmonella, Shigella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Yersinia, Chlamydia and
some E. coli.
The bacteria uses this system to protect itself from the human body¡¯s
The bacterium sticks the syringe into the immune cell when it comes
into contact with the cell and it injects various toxins, which allows
the bacterium to evade the immune system and to continue to infect new
cells and proliferate.
Although the various gram-negative bacteria cause completely different
diseases, T3SS functions in the same way in them all, which makes the
structure an ideal target for new antibiotics.
These substances inhibit bacterial pathogenicity, virulence, without
killing them or affecting their growth.
¡°There is obviously no guarantee that there won¡¯t be resistance to these
substances, but because T3SS is only present in pathogenic bacteria,
the risk is considerably lower than for today's antibiotics," says
Creative Antibiotics currently has two lead compounds in the preclinical
phase. One of those is tested in two different projects: one to prevent
infections in burns and the other to treat sexually transmitted diseases.
The compound, INP314, has orphan drug status in Europe and it is used
for the treatment of burn patients infected with the Pseudomonas bacteria.
Since Pseudomonas also causes severe and often fatal lung infections
in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, and cystic
fibrosis, there is hope that the substance can be used to help these
INP314 was developed in collaboration with an American research group
during the project for the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.
Studies done so far indicate the compound could block Chlamydia infection
in the vagina. There are also results suggesting that the compound may
have an inhibitory effect on infection with gonorrhea and herpes.
The third project with the company's virulence blocking compound is
conducted under license by Indian Syngene.
The goal is to develop a treatment for diarrheal illnesses caused by
Salmonella, Shigella, Yersinia or E. coli bacteria that are all present
The next step with all projects is to move to animal studies. If they
succeed, chances are that the treatment will also be efficacious in
humans, as the virulence blocking compounds strike against bacteria
and not against endogenous proteins.
Boberg has high hopes that animal studies will therefore be more predictive
¡°The development of resistance is an enormous problem,¡± he says. ¡°If
the development continues as such, we are in danger of being without
antibiotics in 20 years, so if we succeed, it is certainly of immense
importance to society.
¡°I do not want to speculate on whether we will succeed with our compounds
or not, but it is much too important and interesting not to be fully
Study Finds Arsenic
in Apple Juice
by Helena Bottemiller | Mar 16, 2010
A study released yesterday found over 25 percent of apple juice boxes
tested contained concerning levels of arsenic, a heavy metal known to
cause various types of cancer.
Florida's St. Petersburg Times commissioned an independent lab to test
several nationally-recognized brands--Motts, Apple & Eve Organics,
Walmart's Great Value, Nestle's Juicy Juice, Minute Maid, Tree Top,
Target's Market Pantry--as well as a Tampa Bay company that supplies
schools in the area.
The Times reported Monday that samples from three brands--Motts, Apple
& Eve Organics, and Walmart's Great Value label--were found to have
arsenic levels above the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's)
level of concern.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an established limit for
arsenic in drinking water: 10 parts per billion (ppb), the same standard
set by the World Health Organization. The FDA does not have a similar
limit for fruit juice, but, according to the Times, the agency told
fruit juice companies that arsenic levels over 23 parts per billion
(ppb) would be at a "level of concern."
Motts, Apple & Eve Organics, and Walmart's juice were found to contain
between 25 and 35 ppb of arsenic. Juicy Juice, Minute Maid, Tree Top,
and Target's Market Pantry did not surpass the FDA's so-called "level
of concern" for juice, but each surpassed the EPA's allowable limit
for arsenic in drinking water, with 12 to 24 ppb.
Only the Tampa brand, which supplies directly to local schools, was
found to have undectable levels of the heavy metal.
Though the study's findings will likely be alarming to many consumers,
especially those with young children, FDA officials are not currently
concerned about the public health risk.
"We don't have any evidence at this point to say that we feel there's
a risk issue that you need to be mindful of," said P. Michael Bolger,
FDA's chief of chemical hazards assessment, told the Times.
Although arsenic is naturally occuring, prevalent element, and minimal
exposure cannot be avoided, there is strong public health evidence that
suggests it is a good idea to limit arsenic intake.
How does arsenic get into apple juice?
Because arsenic is found in soil and ground water, there is bound to
be trace levels of it in most food and beverage products, but not all
of that arsenic is naturally occurring. Arsenic-based herbicides were
commonly used in U.S. agricultural production until 1970, when more
effective chemicals became available (though the chemical is still used
in domestic chicken feed as a growth enhancer).
According to Charles Benbrook, a leading scientist at the Organic Center
in Oregon, arsenic-based chemicals are still being used on many apple
orchards abroad, and past chemical use on the fields can cause arsenic
"If the orchard was planted on a field that was treated six or
eight or 10 times over the last 30 years, it would build up to a high
level," explained Benbrook.
Over 60 percent of apple juice, made from concentrate, consumed in the
U.S. is made from apples grown in China and much of the rest is made
from apples grown in Chile, Argentina, and Turkey, according to the
Several leading arsenic scientists believe additional precautions should
be taken to minimize arsenic levels in juice, which is widely consumed
by young children especially vulnerable to exposure.?
"(Juices) ought to meet the drinking water standards," Allan
Smith, director of the Arsenic Health Effects Research Program at the
University of California Berkeley told the Times. "If they don't,
that's where the pressure should go."
For more information on arsenic exposure, see the Department of Health
and Human Services Website.
Milk Bill - Senate Bill 434 - Should Fail
Although I agree that consumers should be able to buy raw milk from
a well-regulated, inspected farm - "know your farmer" - like
what is done in California and Washington presently. However, I believe
that the law needs a warning that is much more stringent than the law
now envisions. I think this is what should be posted on the farm and
the raw milk container:
"WARNING: This product has not been pasteurized and may contain
harmful bacteria (not limited to E. coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, Listeria
and Salmonella). Pregnant women, infants, children, the elderly and
persons with lowered resistance to disease (immune compromised) have
the highest risk of harm, which includes Diarrhea, Vomiting, Fever,
Dehydration, Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Reactive
Arthritis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Miscarriage, or Death, from use
of this product."
Finally, why should raw milk be treated differently than pasteurized
milk, hamburger or peanut butter? Why should a raw milk farmer be immune
from liability, but a pasteurized dairy be subject to my ability to
sue them on behalf of an injured consumer? If the farmer wants to argue
that the consumer is at fault for consuming a product that may well
be contaminated, that farmer can presently raise that defense under
our civil law. If food is sold that is contaminated the manufacturer
- whether Cargill or Farmer Bob - needs to be responsible to the customer.
Raw milk outbreaks have happened and have caused extensive damages.
Those victims should not be left with thousands or millions of dollars
in damages because the product they consumed was raw milk. This is a
bad bill as written. It should not pass as is.
Here is the full Senate Bill 434
Bill would expand
recall notification; could fine processors, retailers
By Rita Jane Gabbett on 3/17/2010
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday proposed the Consumer Recall
Notification Act, which would require notices posted on shelves at food
retailers where recalled foods are sold; require that recall notices
are sent directly to grocery store members and "loyalty card"
users; and ensure that Class I recall information is distributed to
"In America, in 2010, it is unconscionable that we don't have an
effective way to communicate foodborne illness outbreaks to consumers
and health departments," said Gillibrand in a statement. "It's
spreading too many diseases and costing too many lives."
Under the proposed legislation, facilities that have distributed foods
subject to a Class I recall would be required to notify stores and restaurants
within 24 hours of the public announcement of the recall. Facilities
that do not notify stores and restaurants would be subject to a $1,000
penalty per missed notification.
The stores that received products must then post a notice on the shelf
unit or freezer case where the contaminated product was sold so that
consumers are aware that they might have previously purchased a recalled
The bill also proposes stores that track purchases through customer
loyalty cards or membership cards must use that information to notify
customers when they have purchased a recalled product. Stores that do
not notify customers of Class I recalls would be subject to a $100 penalty
Finally, the bill would instruct FDA to distribute advisories when there
is a Class I recall to states, local health departments and frontline
health professionals, such as emergency departments and pediatricians.
A spokeswoman for Gillibrand confirmed to Meatingplace the legislation
would apply to USDA-regulated meat and poultry as well as FDA-regulated
U.S. food safety law in 2010
Christopher Doering and Roberta Rampton
Wed Mar 17, 2010 5:35pm EDT
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congress will pass a new law to overhaul the
antiquated U.S. food safety system by the end of the year, U.S. Rep.
Rosa DeLauro, an influential House lawmaker, said on Wednesday.
The first major reform of the system in 50 years could be followed by
another close look at how meat and poultry are inspected, and the changes
may create friction with trade partners, said the chairman of the House
Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.
"I have every confidence that we are going to pass food safety
legislation and this legislation is going to get to the president for
a signature and that that's going to happen this year," said Connecticut
Democrat DeLauro, who was speaking at the Reuters Food and Agriculture
The House passed its bill last July. But a companion Senate bill has
been held up by work on healthcare and financial regulatory reform.
It also has been stalled by the U.S. Trade Representative's office,
which wants to ensure reforms do not contravene trade agreements, DeLauro
"Trade should never trump public health," she said.
DeLauro, an advocate for tougher food safety laws, said her subcommittee
will hold hearings in the next couple of months to examine whether new
trade agreements negotiated by the United States should include food
"We need to do something before the agreement is put into place
that guarantees that the product and its process and its manufacture
is equal to the process that exists in the United States," she
DeLauro's subcommittee effectively banned U.S. imports of Chinese chicken
for two years, sparking a WTO complaint.
Three pending U.S. trade deals have been held up by the Obama administration,
which has insisted agreements must protect worker rights and the environment.
The Food and Drug Administration, which oversees 80 percent of the U.S.
food supply, has made "impressive strides in rectifying their problems,"
But more needs to be done, she said, citing recent recalls of foods
made with a common flavoring contaminated with salmonella [ID:nN04182896]
and a recall of more than 1 million pounds of sausages and salami.
Since 2006, the U.S. food supply has been battered by high-profile outbreaks
involving lettuce, peppers, peanuts and spinach. Foodborne illnesses
cost the United States $152 billion in health-related expenses each
year, according to a recent study.
An estimated 76 million people in the United States get sick every year
with foodborne illness and 5,000 die, according to the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention.
"It's amazing that until people start to die we don't take notice
of the difficulties that are out there," DeLauro said.
The new law considered by Congress would give FDA mandatory recall authority,
increase the frequency of food inspections and require food safety plans
Lawmakers next need to look at the role of the U.S. Department of Agriculture,
which is charged with inspection of meat, poultry and eggs, DeLauro
An independent expert panel should examine whether the USDA food system
needs reform, following a similar review of the FDA which made recommendations
to Congress, she said.
The panel should address potential conflicts faced by the USDA, which
promotes as well regulates food, she said.
Overlapping jurisdictions should also be examined, she said, citing
an recent salami recall, where USDA oversees meat while FDA regulates
the ingredient that spurred the recall.
"You've got the salami scare, and it may be the peppers in the
salami (that are contaminated), but USDA does the salami and FDA does
the peppers," DeLauro said.
"It is madness to think this is the way we ought to do business."
(Additional reporting by Charles Abbott in Washington and K.T. Arasu
in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Richard Chang)
Basic Food Flavors
denies wrongdoing in HVP recall
By Caroline Scott-Thomas, 17-Mar-2010
Basic Food Flavors, the company behind the ongoing HVP recall, has broken
its media silence, denying allegations that the company knew its products
contained salmonella but distributed them anyway.
Two weeks ago, Basic Food Flavors issued a recall of all hydrolyzed
vegetable protein (HVP) in powder and paste form that it has produced
since September 17, 2009. No illnesses have been associated with the
recall at this stage, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has
said the risk is low, because most of the products containing the common
flavor enhancer would be cooked after the ingredient was added, destroying
salmonella. However, ready-to-eat products pose a greater risk, and
the complexity of the supply chain means that the number of recalled
products is expected to balloon.
Basic Food Flavors, which until now has not responded to media calls
for comment, said the FDA and the press, covering FDA reports, have
wrongly implied it knowingly distributed salmonella-tainted products.
The company said that after it was notified that one production lot
had tested positive for salmonella, it concluded that only that lot
was contaminated and notified the only customer to which it had been
Basic Food Flavors told FoodNavigatorUSA.com in a statement: ¡°While
it is unclear whether FDA is suggesting in the Form 483 that Basic Foods
knowingly shipped adulterated product, the language used by the agency
and reported by the press has created that implication. We, therefore,
consider it important to clarify that Basic Foods has not knowingly
shipped into commerce any product the Company believed had the potential
to contain Salmonella.¡±
The FDA¡¯s form 483 ? the inspection report issued to the firm ? said:
¡°After receiving the first private laboratory analytical results [dated
January 21] indicating the presence of Salmonella in your facility,
you continued to distribute HVP paste and powder products until 2/15/2010.
Furthermore, from 1/21/2010 to 2/20/2010, you continued to manufacture
HVP paste and powder products under the same processing conditions that
did not minimize microbial contamination.¡±
Basic Food Flavors said that repeated positive tests for salmonella
at the plant were not a result of the pathogen spreading, but due to
the company deliberately testing those areas that were most likely to
be contaminated. And contrary to the FDA inspection report, Basic Food
Flavors said it ¡°implemented immediate corrective actions¡± to address
the discovery of salmonella at the plant.
The company was first notified of a possible contamination through the
FDA¡¯s Reportable Food Registry, when a customer found salmonella in
HVP by routine testing and filed a report on February 5.
Basic Foods said it and one of its customers analyzed data on 150 different
production lots and that apart from the lot recalled on September 17,
all have tested negative for salmonella. The company began notifying
its customers of a recall on February 26, and the FDA publicly announced
the recall a week later.
Basic Food Flavors has been uncommunicative with the media during the
recall, but David Wood, the company¡¯s sales and marketing manager, told
FoodNavigator-USA.com that he had hoped that not speaking with the press
would help publicity of the recall to pass quickly.
¡°Quite honestly, we didn¡¯t bother answering the press because we just
wanted it to go away,¡± he said. ¡°¡¦It¡¯s working. It¡¯s beginning to die
The recall affected ¡°only 10,000lb of 10 million,¡± he said, equivalent
to 0.1 percent of the HVP produced by the company.
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