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FDA Warns of Raw Milk Food Poisoning Outbreaks
Source: http://www.newsinferno.com/archives/19423
Date Published: Monday, March 29th, 2010
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), in conjunction with other public health agencies, have issued a warning about outbreaks related to drinking raw milk. The most recent reported outbreak is of campylobacteriosis in the Midwest.
The FDA, in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, and the Indiana State Health Department, are investigating the outbreak and alerting consumers to the campylobacteriosis outbreak associated with drinking raw milk. MDCH reports that, as of March 24, 2010, it received reports of 12 confirmed cases of illness from Campylobacter infections in consumers who drank raw milk. The raw milk originated from Forest Grove Dairy in Middlebury, Indiana.
We have long warned about the potential health problems associated with ingesting raw milk and its sometimes very dangerous effects on human health.
Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), raw milk or raw milk products were implicated in 45 outbreaks that resulted in over 1,000 illnesses and two deaths in the United States during 1998-2005. In 1938, milk was the cause of 25 percent of all food- and water-related sickness. With the introduction of universal pasteurization?long considered one of the most successful public health endeavors of the last century?that number fell to one percent by 1993. Of note, however, because not all cases of foodborne illness are recognized and reported, the actual number of illnesses associated with raw milk likely is greater.
The FDA further explains that raw milk is unpasteurized milk from hoofed mammals, such as cows, sheep, or goats, that may contain a wide variety of harmful bacteria?Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria, Campylobacter, and Brucella, to name just some?that may cause illness, even death. For decades, public health authorities, including the FDA and CDC, have expressed concerns about the hazards of drinking raw milk.
Some people believe raw milk contains organisms that treat all manner of maladies, including digestive problems, asthma, and autism, saying raw milk offers greater benefits because it allegedly does not contain chemicals and hormones. This growing contingent says the heat necessary for pasteurization kills healthy natural proteins and enzymes. The FDA disagrees and insists pasteurization destroys harmful bacteria without significantly changing milk¡¯s nutritional value. Of note, it is illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption in 22 states. The other states allow raw milk sales within their borders; the FDA bans sales across state lines.
Since 1987, the FDA has required all milk packaged for human consumption to be pasteurized before being delivered for introduction into interstate commerce. The FDA¡¯s pasteurization requirement also applies to other milk products, with the exception of a few aged cheeses.

Raw Milk Wars - Raw Milk Drinking Lawyer vs Public Health Officials - 24 Possibly Ill from Campylobacter
Source: http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/2010/03/articles/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/raw-milk-wars-raw-milk-drinking-lawyer-vs-public-health-officials-24-possibly-ill-from-campylobacter/
Posted on March 27, 2010 by Bill Marler
Rosemary Parker of the Kalamazoo Gazette has stepped into the middle of the ¡°raw milk wars¡± with her story yesterday ? ¡°FDA joins investigation of illnesses possibly linked to unpasteurized milk distributed by Vandalia, MI., farm.¡±
The FDA is collaborating with the Michigan Department of Community Health, the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health and the Indiana State Health Department to investigate the outbreak of campylobacteriosis. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Friday it has joined state health departments in Michigan, Illinois and Indiana to alert consumers to an outbreak of campylobacter, a nasty diarrhea-and-fever producing illness, which it believes is associated with consumption of milk originating from Forest Grove Dairy in Middlebury, Ind., and distributed by Family Farm Cooperative.
The Farm¡¯s Lawyer¡¯s Perspective:
¡°I don¡¯t agree (the disease outbreak) has been linked to the milk,¡± said Stephen Bemis, the farm¡¯s attorney. ¡°That¡¯s what the health department has said, but they are not sharing with us what their investigation has shown. ¡°We know there has been flu going around,¡± Bemis said, ¡°and we know people who never drank this or any raw milk who were sick.¡±
Bemis said the farm was contacted March 1 by one of its herd share members who had fallen ill. The next day, 200 more cooperative members were contacted and advised of the situation; although a few other members described flu-like symptoms, ¡°there was no huge smoking gun¡± until March 11, when a member reported being ill and testing positive for the campylobacter bacteria, Bemis said.
The farm¡¯s own tests of milk and water showed no detectable levels of campylobacter, and milk delivery resumed. The cooperative is conducting a detailed survey of the herd share members who consumed the milk, Bemis said. But at this point ¡°based on the testing we¡¯ve done, we don¡¯t see a link.¡±
The Health Department¡¯s Perspective:
"Since March 1, 24 people in southeastern Michigan who have drunk milk from that dairy have fallen ill," said James McCurtis, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Community Health, which issued the first public health alert March 19.
So far this year 165 cases of campylobacter illness have been reported to the Michigan Department of Community Health, McCurtis said. The bacteria can be spread from contact with feces from infected pets, contact with infected farm animals, and contaminated foods other than milk, he said.
McCurtis said that in this outbreak, though, milk is the ¡°common denominator¡± among people reporting the illness in southeast Michigan. In addition, he said, some of the Family Farms¡¯ Cooperative milk tested from the supply provided by those who fell ill did test positive for campylobacter.
So, ¡°Do governments sit back and let people get sick or do we warn people that raw milk does pose risk?" McCurtis asked. ¡°When should state agencies back off? Right now we have 24 cases related to the outbreak, of those 12 were confirmed.
¡°No matter what we tell people about the risks there will be people who drink (raw milk) and that¡¯s their right,¡± McCurtis said. ¡°But our job is to protect the people of Michigan, to tell people when there is an outbreak, and that these are the symptoms.¡±
Time will tell.

Food poisoning investigation still pending at local Subway
Source: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=162621
by Brittany Farb
April 06, 2010
Soon after Maria Barsellati, 29, ate at a Subway restaurant in Lombard, she knew something wasn¡¯t right.
¡°I felt like a wolf was crawling in my stomach,¡± the Portage Park resident said. ¡°I was in so much pain. I didn¡¯t know what it was.¡±
It turns out she had shigella food poisoning. She was among hundreds of people who got sick after eating at the Subway location at 1009 E. Roosevelt Road in the western suburb.
The DuPage County Health Department is still investigating a shigella food poisoning outbreak at a Subway in Lombard when hundreds of customers complained of gastrointestinal illnesses after dining at this location.
The Subway restaurant voluntarily closed March 4.
Since the outbreak, the DuPage County Health Department announced that 125 lab-confirmed cases originated from shigellosis, an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria known as shigella. Thirteen of these cases required hospitalization and these patients have since recovered.
David Hass, communications manager with the DuPage County Health Department, said the investigation is still ongoing and encouraged diners who ate at the Lombard Subway between Feb. 24 and March 1 to contact the health department by calling 630-682-7400 .
¡°It takes longer than people usually expect,¡± Hass said. ¡°We are also trying to locate people that ate there and remained healthy.¡± Barsellati said she hadn't reported her case, but intended to do so.
Hass said that the health department has not yet determined the cause of the outbreak.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, about 18,000 lab-confirmed cases a year on average are reported in the United States, including 1,300 in Illinois. Symptoms of shigella food poisoning include diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach cramps and usually appear one to two days after exposure. Symptoms last from five to seven days and may become severe in young children and the elderly. The illness is spread either person-to-person or through contaminated food. Those affected may also not exhibit symptoms but still are contagious.
According to Hass, several lawsuits have been filed but he declined to comment further.
Drew Falkenstein, an attorney at Marler Clark, a Seattle firm specializing in food poisoning cases, said his firm represents more than 80 people involved in the Lombard outbreak.
¡°These are claims for negligence and strict liability,¡± he said.
Although the source of the bacteria remains unclear, Falkenstein suggests the outbreak was related to sick workers.
In a statement, Subway stated ¡°the health and safety¡± of its ¡°customers and employees is of paramount importance.¡±
¡°Proper food handling and cleanliness are our top priorities and an integral part of our training and evaluation programs,¡± according to the statement. The franchise pledged to ¡°work closely¡± with the DuPage County Health Department with its investigation.
Hass commended Subway for its ¡°very good cooperation¡± by closing its doors, but said ¡°most of the time restaurants close when they are contacted by the health department.¡±
Barsellati, who experienced severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness and a high fever after eating a ham and turkey foot-long sub, said she is ¡°taking a time-out with Subway for now.¡± However, she said she will still frequent fast food restaurants.
¡°If [food poisoning] is going to happen, it¡¯s going to happen,¡± she said. ¡°I just hope it doesn¡¯t happen to me again.¡±

Mande: A 'Watershed Moment' for Food Safety
Source: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/04/watershed-moment-for-food-safety-says-mande/
by Helena Bottemiller | Apr 02, 2010
Citing "extraordinary commitment" from the White House to improve the food safety system, 400 experts met in Washington, DC Wednesday to discuss the best tools for measuring progress on food safety.
The meeting was hosted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and was attended by leaders in science, public health, consumer advocacy, and the food industry.
All of these key players gathered in one room for one purpose: to discuss the future of food safety metrics.
Mariano-Florentino (Tino) Cuellar, special assistant to the President for justice and regulatory policy at the White House Domestic Policy Council, emphasized the importance of measuring the food safety burden in his remarks at the meeting.
Cuellar said "we need to know where we stand" if we are to live up to the principles laid out in the President's Food Safety Working Group, which are prioritizing prevention, strengthening surveillance and enforcement, and improving response and recovery.
As deputy undersecretary for food safety at USDA, Jerold Mande, put it: "The importance of today's meeting can be described in one sentence: What doesn't get measured doesn't get done."
Mande said he believes the food safety system is at a critical juncture.
"This is a watershed moment in food safety," he said. "These moments, these opportunities, do not come often. But when they do, they significantly change our trajectory as businesses and regulators alike," said Mande, who compared the current impetus to overhaul the food safety to the reform momentum in the wake Upton Sinclair's The Jungle in 1906.
"Guided largely by the Working Group, we're looking at the entire food safety system, and across jurisdictions and products. It is a watershed moment. We have a president, two secretaries, and leaders in Congress who have made improving food safety a priority," said Mande, who called the status quo "unacceptable."
Mande also discussed the importance of measuring progress. "We are not regulating for the sake of regulation," he said. "We want results."
"Before we make decisions on food safety policies and interventions, we must know how many people are getting sick each year from foodborne contaminants, and from which ones? Who, exactly, is getting sick and from which foods? And, overall, are we making progress toward reducing foodborne illnesses?"
Challenges in estimating the burden of foodborne illness
As Elaine Scallan, PhD, an Assistant Professor at Colorado School of Public Health explained at the meeting, there are a number of challenges public health officials face in the effort to estimate the total burden of foodborne illness.
"Only a small fraction of illness are actually confirmed by laboratory testing and reported to public health agencies," said Scallan.
"Foods can be contaminated by many different agents: bacteria, viruses, parasites, chemicals, and toxins, some of these data have well established surveillance systems others don't have any routing surveillance data," she said. According to Scallan, Norovirus is a perfect example. "We consider [Norovirus] to be an important contributor to the burden of foodborne illness, yet there is no routine surveillance."
Scallan also pointed out that many foodborne pathogens are also transmitted by animal-to-human contact or are also waterborne. For example: E. coli transmitted via a swimming pool or Salmonella via a pet turtle.
CDC is currently updating its foodborne illness estimates, which have remained the same since 1999: 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths annually.
Scallan says the CDC is using "new, refined methods" and newer data in the study, which is currently in peer review. She also noted that the CDC has worked for years to address some of the "data gaps" from the 1999 study.
CDC officials, consumer advocates, and food safety experts are all cautioning, however, that whatever the new numbers are, they cannot be compared to the 1999 estimates to indicate a trend, as the methodologies and data sources are fundamentally different.
It is unclear when the new estimates will be released. A spokesperson from CDC told Food Safety News last month the CDC's food safety team hopes to release the study within the year, but with limited resources and ongoing epidemiological investigations, the timing remains uncertain.
Correction: This story originally incorrectly referred to Jerold Mande as undersecretary for food safety, he is deputy undersecretary.

Transparency in food recalls: important on both sides of the Atlantic
Source: http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/2010/04/articles/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/transparency-in-food-recalls-important-on-both-sides-of-the-atlantic/
Posted on April 5, 2010 by Drew Falkenstein
In her blog at eFoodAlert.com, Phyllis Entis today discussed France's approach, or lack thereof, to letting the food-consuming public know about foodborne threats to their health. The story arose from an outbreak of staphylococcal enterotoxin contained within three batches of cheese that were made using unpasteurized milk (aka "raw milk") from a single milk storage tank. Entis writes:
The outbreak report that appeared last week does not discuss the possible source of the bacterial contamination ? it could have been a single mastitic cow, a farm worker, or even a worker at the cheese manufacturer. Instead, the authors closed their outbreak report with the following self-congratulatory statement:
"Finally, this study illustrates that the French national surveillance system is able to detect rare events. The staphylococcal food poisoning outbreaks linked to SEE ingestion described here were quickly identified through a close collaboration between the Health Emergency Mission, the National institute for public health surveillance and the EU-RL with laboratories involved in food surveillance for coagulase-positive staphylococci and staphylococcal enterotoxins and the good cooperation of all parties involved. The rapid recall of contaminated cheese batches by the French Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fishery prevented further cases."
This is not an insignificant concern; and despite our state and federal governments' more liberal approaches to the dissemination of information to the public, its not a concern that is relevent only abroad. And its also not a concern only relevent to the government. The free and efficient flow of information to the public about a potential health threat is also a duty owed by the companies that make defective products.
From July 2009 through February 2010, at least 252 people were infected by Salmonella as a result of consuming Daniele, Inc. salami products that were manufactured using contaminated pepper. The salami actually contained two kinds of pepper, red and black, both of which may have been contaminated. Daniele purchased the contaminated pepper from two different companies: Mincing Overseas Spice Company and Wholesome Spice Co, who have since initiated recalls of their contaminated products. Ever since, multiple food companies from across the country have inititated their own recalls because they contained pepper from Mincing and Wholesome spice companies.
See Delays in Pepper Recalls Threaten Public Health. And just this week, yet another company was added to the still-growing recall list.
The problem, of course, is that the contaminated or defective products are still, potentially, in the market, posing ongoing risks to public health. This may or may not be a continuing concern in the pepper recall; there has been no indication whether there are additional illnesses linked to another food product containing contaminated pepper. But it may be; and more importantly, the pepper recall is certainly not the last time that a company's traceability program, and its desire to let the public know of the risks it faces, will be put to the test.
Thus, whether it appears in a statute or not, recalling companies have an obligation not only to announce the recall but also to act aggressively in (a) identifying what retailers or other companies may have received the contaminated product (b) identifying what consumers may have purchased the contaminated product and (c) using all means necessary to make the important details of the recall (e.g. what products are included) known to retailers and consumers alike.

FDA seeks help on produce safety regulation
Source: http://thepacker.com/m/
By Tom Karst


WASHINGTON, D.C. ? The Food and Drug Administration faces a difficult task in writing preventive food safety controls for the fresh produce industry and needs more input to get it right, agency officials told the U.S. Department of Agriculture fruit and vegetable industry advisory committee.
Balancing the interests of large and small growers, diverse growing regions and varying production methods isn¡¯t easy, said Jim Gorny, senior advisor for produce safety in the FDA¡¯s Office of Food Safety.
¡°To say this undertaking is complex is an absolute understatement,¡± he said March 30 during the advisory committee¡¯s meeting.
Gorny said the agency may propose produce safety regulations by the end of the year, followed by a comment period before a final plan is in place.
Even after the regulations are written, FDA officials said a major focus of the agency will be industry outreach and education to ensure compliance.
¡°It¡¯s clear we don¡¯t have the resources to enforce compliance,¡± said Jeff Farrar, associate commissioner for foods with the FDA.
There will be no army of FDA investigators descending on farms, he told the committee.
The FDA will work with states to implement inspection and enforcement, Gorny said.
Gorny said some people are ¡°hung up¡± with what will be in the produce safety standard, but perhaps a bigger question is enforcement and compliance. He said it is possible the regulation may feature a longer phase-in period for small farms.
Farrar said the FDA is asking for comments on the preventive controls for fresh produce through May 24.
Farrar said the agency is taking comments before writing the regulation.
¡°We want to get it right the first time, so we took an extra step to hear what growers, processors, shippers are saying,¡± he said.
Farrar said President Obama¡¯s food safety working group has stressed the need for more preventive efforts to head off foodborne illness outbreaks. In addition, the working group has stressed food safely surveillance, enforcement and recovery after an outbreak has occurred.
The FDA anticipates Congress will complete work on food safety legislation this year and provide the agency with new authorities to regulate produce safety, Farrar said.
Farrar said there is a strong feeling that legislation will ask the FDA to create mandatory preventive controls for fresh produce, along with requiring the agency to set performance standards.
Other features of the legislation include a risk-based inspection schedule, access to company records, traceability and mandatory recall authority and an emphasis on importer accountability for food safety.
Leanne Skelton, senior policy analyst for the FDA¡¯s Office of Food Safety, spoke to the committee about the collaborative efforts between the USDA and FDA. Skelton has been on loan to the FDA from the USDA¡¯s Agricultural Marketing Service since last September, which she said was a six-month assignment that will likely stretch to a year.
While the USDA AMS is geared to facilitate trade and the FDA is a public health agency, Skelton said the two agencies can work together.
The USDA and FDA will not be in conflict when it comes to the priority of public health first and foremost in produce safety rules, she said.
The FDA¡¯s specific areas of interest in making food safety regulations include:

¡¤ Standards for domestic and foreign growers and packers;
¡¤ Environmental assessment of hazards and possible pathways of contamination;
¡¤ Possible approaches to tailoring preventive controls to the size of an operation;
¡¤ Coordination of produce food safety practices and sustainable and/or organic production methods;
¡¤ Microbial testing; and
Records and other documentation that would be useful to industry and regulators in ensuring the safety of fresh produce.

White House Presses Japan to Reopen Market to U.S. Beef
Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/08/business/global/08beef.html
By HIROKO TABUCHILinkedin

TOKYO ? The Obama administration is stepping up pressure on Japan to reopen its market to American beef, in hopes of helping ranchers and meatpackers gain full access to what was once their most lucrative market.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has been dispatched to Tokyo to meet with his Japanese counterpart, Hirotaka Akamatsu, on Thursday.
Japan resumed American beef imports in 2006, but restricted them to meat from cattle 20 months old or younger ? a limit that American exporters say has no scientific basis. Japan says older animals are more prone to developing mad cow disease. Japan also bans certain body parts.
Mr. Vilsack indicated that the United States was amenable to incremental steps to revive the beef trade to address Japanese concerns. For instance, he said the United States would be willing to gradually raise the age limit on imports.
¡°It¡¯s an effort on the part of the U.S. to convey a willingness to re-energize the dialogue about beef, to convey a sense of flexibility in how we approach the ultimate reopening of this market,¡± Mr. Vilsack said Wednesday in an interview.
¡°There can be incremental steps taken to reassure the Japanese government and Japanese consumers that we can provide a safe product, a quality product,¡± Mr. Vilsack said.
Japan, the world¡¯s largest net importer of food, abruptly banned shipments from American meat packers in 2003 after mad cow disease was discovered in one animal imported to the United States from Canada.
When the ban was eased in 2006, the United States ambassador to Japan at the time, J. Thomas Schieffer, appeared before Japanese television cameras to eat an American beef and rice bowl at a Tokyo restaurant. But imports have risen only slightly.
In 2003, Japan was the largest market for American beef, with exports of $1.4 billion; since then, American beef exports to Japan have averaged about $196 million, or less than 15 percent of 2003 levels.
Japan¡¯s restrictions cost American producers about $1 billion in lost exports a year, according to the National Cattlemen¡¯s Beef Association.
American lawmakers have urged Mr. Obama to do more to urge Japan to relax its stance. Last month, Senators Mike Johanns, Republican of Nebraska, and Blanche Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas, introduced a resolution pressing Japan to immediately expand market access for American beef.
Mr. Johanns, a former agriculture secretary, has contrasted Japan¡¯s strict stance with what he said had been Washington¡¯s more cautious handling of Toyota cars amid recalls over sudden acceleration problems.
He referred to ¡°an inconsistency between Japan¡¯s continued ban on safe U.S. beef and beef products compared to America¡¯s fair treatment of Japan after reports of faulty Toyota vehicles,¡± in remarks after meeting Japan¡¯s ambassador to the United States in March.
The Obama administration is eager to increase American exports to help rebuild the economy. In his State of the Union address in January, Mr. Obama said he aimed to double total American exports in the next five years.
Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is a fatal disease that affects the brains of cattle; it has been linked to a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a fatal illness in humans.
Americans note that in recent years, Japanese beef producers have found at least 36 cases of mad cow among their cattle herds while only three have been identified in the United States.
But Japanese producers argue that they test all cows bound for slaughter for the disease, while the American meat industry has resisted blanket testing, partly because of cost concerns. Some critics also question the accuracy of testing methods.
Concerns about American beef among the Japanese public have been fanned by the discovery of several shipments from the United States that contained banned cow parts.
¡°Whether food safety is strictly secured is the issue,¡± Mr. Akamatsu, the agriculture minister, told reporters on Wednesday. ¡°The Japan-U.S. relationship is important, but that does not mean food safety can be neglected.¡±
Saya Speidel contributed research.

Celebrate National Public Health Week, Pass S. 510
Source: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/04/celebrate-national-public-health-week-pass-s-510/
by Bill Marler | Apr 06, 2010
The American Public Health Association celebrates National Public Health Week this week. The association wants to create "a place where everyone has access to health care and services, where we're celebrated for embracing healthy lifestyles, and our communities and neighborhoods make it easy for us to make healthy choices."
Perhaps one way to celebrate National Public Health Week is for the Senate to pass S. 510--the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. With 47,000,000 sickened, 325,000 hospitalized and 5,000 killed each year due to foodborne illnesses, it seems like public health would benefit by reducing those numbers?
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) to expand the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to regulate food, including by authorizing him or her to suspend the registration of a food facility.
S. 510 requires each food facility to evaluate hazards and implement preventive controls. The Act directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to assess and collect fees related to: (1) food facility reinspection; (2) food recalls; and (3) the voluntary qualified importer program.
In addition, S. 510 requires the Health and Human Services Secretary and the Secretary of Agriculture to prepare the National Agriculture and Food Defense Strategy.
The Act requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to: (1) identify preventive programs and practices to promote the safety and security of food; (2) promulgate regulations on sanitary food transportation practices; (3) develop a policy to manage the risk of food allergy and anaphylaxis in schools and early childhood education programs; (4) allocate inspection resources based on the risk profile of food facilities or food; (5) recognize bodies that accredit food testing laboratories; and (6) improve the capacity of the Secretary to track and trace raw agricultural commodities.
S. 510 requires the Secretary, acting through the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to enhance foodborne illness surveillance systems. It also authorizes the Secretary to order an immediate cessation of distribution, or a recall, of food.
The Act requires the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assist state, local, and tribal governments in preparing for, assessing, decontaminating, and recovering from an agriculture or food emergency.
S. 510 also provides for: (1) foreign supplier verification activities; (2) a voluntary qualified importer program; and (3) the inspection of foreign facilities registered to import food.
Public health and safe food seem to go hand-in-hand. Let's celebrate National Public Health Week (April 5 - 11, 2010) by Passing S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.

Feeding cattle fruit could eliminate Salmonella, E. coli
Source: http://eatdrinkandbe.org/article/index.0406_safety_coworanges
By Jill Blocker
April 6, 2010
A common fruit rich in vitamins and flavor could be the answer to eliminating Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 in cattle produced for beef: oranges.
Orange peel and pulp have been fed to dairy cattle for nearly 30 years, according to Meatingplace, and now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture¡¯s Agricultural Research Service and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association are funding a study examining whether the essential oils in oranges could fight Salmonella and E. coli in the animals' digestive tract.
The essential oils and phoytocompounds added to feed allow scientists to manipulate gut fermentation and rid the livestock of pathogens, such as E. coli and Salmonella. Oils in orange peel and pulp have high digestibility and improve cattle growth by interacting with the microbial population and stimulating their immune system, Todd Callaway, a research microbiologist with ARS, told Meatingplace. Because of the interaction, scientists think the oils could also interact with pathogens.
Research has already begun on sheep and found when the animals ate orange peel and pulp they shed less Salmonella in their feces.
¡°Cattle and sheep are a pretty good model of each other because of their rumen nature and the way we're feeding them in this study,¡± Callaway said. ¡°It's not exactly 100 percent, but it's 95 percent correct.¡±

The scientists began with the Salmonella study because it is less dangerous, Callaway said. The E. coli study is planned to start this week and last for three weeks to a month.
¡°It'll be exactly the same study, just using E. coli O157 and making sure it's susceptible to the essential oils in the same way [as salmonella],¡± he said.
Callaway said he expects similar results with the Salmonella and E. coli tests because in in-vitro studies the orange products had the same effectiveness.
¡°I believe in this data,¡± he said. ¡°It's not a silver bullet; I'm not going to claim it's going to solve the Salmonella and E. coli problems, but in our model, it's reducing [those pathogens by] 10 to 15 times the population [prior to the intervention], which is a pretty significant drop, considering how good a job the slaughter plants do at reducing E. coli and Salmonella when it comes in on carcasses. We can reduce what's coming in the front door of plant, and they can be even more effective against what goes through.¡±
The orange waste products are also beneficial because of their all-natural, environmentally-friendly properties.

'Ban gender-bender used in baby products': Scientists link chemical to birth defects and cancer
Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/
By David Derbyshire
Last updated at 10:37 PM on 8th April 2010
Scientists yesterday called for a ban on a gender-bending chemical found in baby bottles and food containers.
They said clear evidence from four studies linked bisphenol A to cancer, birth defects and heart disease.
Last week Denmark became the first EU country to ban the chemical in food and drink containers for the under threes.
Call: A coalition of some of the world's leading scientists has urged the Government to ban gender-bending chemicals used in baby products
Some scientists believe bisphenol A, or BPA, interferes with the hormonal system by copying oestrogen.
Although some animal studies have shown it to be safe, others have linked it to diseases such as breast cancer, liver damage, obesity, diabetes and infertility.
It emerged earlier this month that Boots and Mothercare are still selling baby bottles manufactured using BPA.
And, despite the concerns, the Food Standards Agency insists there is no evidence that the chemical harms humans.
Used to make shatterproof plastic, BPA is found in baby bottles, CD cases, spectacle lenses, cutlery, sports gear and the resins that line food and drink cans.
Yesterday, eight scientists from Britain, the U.S. and Italy jointly called for a ban.
'To protect vulnerable populations, we believe it would be both prudent and precautionary in public health terms if products containing BPA used for baby and children's food and liquid packaging in the UK were withdrawn,' they said in a statement.
'BPA should be replaced by less hazardous substances.'
FACT FILE
Bisphenol-A is used to make clear shatter resistant plastic
It is used to make baby bottles, CD cases, spectacle lenses, plastic forks and sports equipment
It is also used to make resins that line the inside of food and drink cans. BPA is found in dental fillings
BPA is found in the bodies of more than 90 per cent of people
The chemical mimics the sex hormone oestrogen. Studies have linked it to breast cancer, genital abnormalities in baby boys and liver problems.
It is one of the most common synthetic chemicals. More than 2.2million tons is produced each year
People are exposed when BPA leaches out of plastic into liquid - particularly when liquid is hot
It make also escape from landfill sites into the water system
The scientists include Professor Vyvyan Howard from the University of Ulster, Andrew Watterson from Stirling University and Dr Fiorella Belpoggi of the Ramazzini Institute in Bentivoglio-Italy. They also called for BPA to be labelled in all food containers and tins.
In recent weeks, four studies have highlighted the risks of BPA and other hormone-mimicking chemicals.
Last month, a report from Tufts University in Massachusetts revealed that the majority of the population is contaminated by BPA.
A second study, from a scientific institute in Rome, linked BPA to endometriosis, a painful condition that affects two million women in Britain.
Another report from the Universityof Michigan showed how chemicals such as BPA can harm men's health.
And a fourth, by a researcher at the University of Auckland, due to be published later this month, found that even very low doses of BPA can cross from a mother to her unborn child.
Professor Watterson, who is a public health specialist, said: 'These new studies are significant because they all indicate and confirm the growing body of evidence that suggests BPA is harmful even in minute doses.
'Until we know more about the harm it could be doing, we should stop using it.'

Pulverized lime used to bleach Chinese flour: media
Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6373CI20100408-BEIJING
Thu Apr 8, 2010 10:16am EDTBEIJING (Reuters) - Pulverized lime, an inedible ingredient, has been added to
bleaching agents widely used in flour production in China, Chinese media said.
China has been in the spotlight in recent years over food-safety scandals, including melamine-tainted milk that sickened thousands of babies in 2008, which have damaged the reputation of the country's food exports.
Bleaching agents, usually made from cornstarch, are added to flour to shorten the time needed for whitening. Substituting cheaper and heavier lime for cornstarch cuts the cost of producing the bleaching agent, which is sold by weight.
Consumption of Pulverized lime can lead to gradual damage to the lungs and eventually the entire respiratory system.
Yuzhong Food Additive Co. in Rugao, Jiangsu province, on the east coast, added 500g (1.1 lbs) Pulverized lime to every 2kg of bleaching agent, Legal Weekend, a publication run by the official Legal Daily reported, citing whistleblowers in the company.
The company sold bleaching agents to big flour mills in Jiangsu and neighboring Shandong and Anhui provinces.
The owner of the company, surnamed Chen, was cited as saying that his company was able to sell bleaching agent at 9,000 yuan ($1,319) per ton versus the market price of 11,000 yuan.
Flour is mostly used to make noodles, dumplings and steamed buns in China, especially in the north.
Melamine-tainted milk reappeared in the market earlier this year, in apparent re-sales of contaminated powder that was not destroyed after a 2008 scandal in which 300,000 infants were sickened and least six died from kidney stones after drinking melamine-contaminated milk formula

Tainted Produce More Likely for Low-Income Shoppers
Source: http://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/

No one wants a mixed salad tossed with extra bacteria, mold and yeast, but those are just what you might find when you try to eat a healthier diet in poorer neighborhoods. A new study shows that the level of bacteria found on the fresh produce can vary according to the income level of the neighborhoods where it is for sale.
Researchers compared levels of bacteria, yeast and mold on identical products sold in six Philadelphia-area neighborhoods. They selected three of the neighborhoods because they had the city¡¯s highest poverty levels. In these, consumer options tended to be small markets that offered less variety in fruits and vegetables.
The result: ready-to-eat salads and strawberries sold in stores in the poorer neighborhoods had significantly higher counts of microorganisms, yeasts and molds than the same products purchased elsewhere, while cucumbers had a higher yeast count and mold and watermelon contained more bacteria.
¡°Food deteriorates when there is microbial growth,¡± said study co-author Jennifer Quinlan, a professor of nutrition and biology at Drexel University. ¡°The bacterial count is used to determine the quality of the produce and it was poorer quality, closer to being spoiled. Three of the things that had a higher bacteria count ? strawberries, ready-to-go salad and fresh-cut watermelon ? have been associated with foodborne illnesses.¡±
The study appears online and in the May issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
When your access to produce is of inferior quality, it discourages you from adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Part of the problem, Quinlan said, is that much of the food available in poorer neighborhoods is for sale in smaller stores that might not have the infrastructure to handle produce in the safest way.
¡°The food may be of poorer quality to begin with; then it may be transported to the stores and not be refrigerated properly,¡± she said. ¡°Large supermarkets have entire units focused on food safety, refrigeration, sanitation. While a small facility with only one or two people may not have the resources.¡±
Although the bacteria that can cause spoilage are not the same bacteria that are dangerous from a standpoint of foodborne illness, consumers can take some important steps to ensure they get the freshest produce.
¡°One thing consumers can look for is that fresh-cut produce be refrigerated at the point of sale,¡± said Shelley Feist, executive director of Partnership for Food Safety Education. ¡°When they get fresh produce home, it¡¯s important to clean it thoroughly. Whole fresh produce should be rinsed under running tap water just before eating and produce should be kept separate from meat, poultry, raw eggs and fish to avoid cross-contamination.¡±
Source: Health Behavior News Service

Report Shows Decline in FDA Inspections
Source: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/04/report-shows-decline-in-fda-inspection-enforcement/
by Helena Bottemiller | Apr 08, 2010
Federal inspections of food manufacturing facilities and federal enforcement actions against food companies are decreasing, according to a government report released this week.
According to a new report from the Health and Human Services (HHS) inspector general, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspects less than a quarter of food facilities every year, and more than half of all food facilities have gone five or more years without a federal inspection.
Public health officials, consumer advocates, and members of Congress who have been pressing for an overhaul of the FDA's capacity to regulate the food supply say the the report is further evidence the Senate needs to act on pending food safety legislation. The House passed a similar food safety bill in July, which would give FDA mandatory recall authority, greater access to records, and require food facilities to have food safety plans.
"We need legislation that will direct us and empower us to be proactive, not reactive," Michael R. Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner for foods, told the Washington Post this week after the report was released. "The legislation pending in Congress will open up entirely new and much more effective ways to do prevention."
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Health, Education, and Labor Committee, which unanimously approved the Senate food safety bill in November, echoed the same support for the pending legislation.
"This new report shows what we have feared for too long: that that our domestic food facilities are not being adequately inspected and FDA needs additional authorities to keep the food on our tables safe," said Harkin in a statement yesterday. "This is unacceptable in our modern society and an important reminder that we must provide FDA with the needed tools to properly inspect food facilities and effectively react to problems in order to ensure the safety of the food American families eat. Quite simply, picking up food at the grocery store should not be a health risk."?
"This legislation is long overdue and it is my hope that we can soon pass the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 on the Senate floor in order to get the bill reconciled with the House and on the President's desk to be signed into law," he said.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), chair of a powerful food and agriculture appropriations subcommittee, reacted similarly.
"The findings in this report are unacceptable and should serve as an urgent reminder of the glaring weaknesses in our food safety system. The FDA should be inspecting all of the facilities it is responsible for--with no exceptions. Congress needs to act quickly to pass stronger food safety legislation this year, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to better protect American consumers."
The full report is available here: http://bit.ly/9y7lN3 (pdf)




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