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2010 Food Safety Training Class Schedule
Basic and Advanced HACCP San Francisco, CA, August 2 - 4
Basic HACCP Houston TX , August 16 and 17
Basic HACCPChicago, IL, August 30 and 31
Basic HACCPLos Angeles, CA. September 9 and 10
Basic HACCPCamden, New Jersey, September 13 and 14
Chicago, IL, September 27 and 28
Basic HACCPVisalia, CA., October 4 and 5
Basic HACCPYuma, AZ, October 11 and 12
Basic HACCPChicago, IL, October 25 and 26
Redondo Beach, CA, November 4-5, 2010
with 5th International Conference

Basic HACCPChicago, IL. November 29 and 30
Basic HACCPLos Angeles, CA, December 6 and 7
Basic HACCPVisalia, CA, December 13 and 14

Questioning the Search for More Strains of E. coli
by Chuck Jolley | Jun 25, 2010
Here is an easy case to make: The pursuit of E. coli O157:H7 and its total eradication has been the holy grail of the meat industry since at least the infamous 1993 Jack in the Box case. The industry has acknowledged millions have been spent in research and the in-plant installation of multiple, science-based 'hurdles' to prevent the bug from entering the food supply. Add in the courtroom losses and the recall of millions of pounds of meat and the cost to the industry easily jumps into the billion dollar classification.
Serious money.
To underscore the importance of the pursuit, in the past 17 years, there have been countless special sessions at dozens of meat industry events, and seminars devoted entirely to E. coli O157:H7. The North American Meat Processors Association has hosted a spring mini-conference and a high-intensity 2 day fall conference to the subject for the past two years. Both events, eagerly co-sponsored by the industry's major trade associations and publications who understand the seriousness of the subject, are sold out well in advance.
But we're talking about just O157:H7 here, a bug that's been extensively researched and heavily publicized. It's a topic that's just as hot in the general press as it is among the packers and processors of North America. What's not so well researched are six less common E. coli strains that can cause serious illnesses--two dozen cases in four states this spring caused by bagged romaine lettuce.
An unappetizing truth is hundreds of strains of E. coli live in the intestines of people as well as cattle and other animals. Forgetting the "Yuck!" factor for a moment, even if they get into the food supply, only a very few cause illness. Six strains have been found that produce a toxin similar to O157:H7, probably accounting for the majority of the 30,000+ non-O157 E. coli cases reported annually.
Although the meat industry has never experienced an acknowledged outbreak of disease caused by one of those six strains, Bill Marler, head of the Seattle law firm that specializes in pursuing cases of food borne illnesses, launched a pre-emptive strike and petitioned the USDA to list them as adulterants. He's even spent about half a million dollars of his own money to test for them in samples of meat found at retail establishments.
Responding to his petition, the meat industry says 'not so fast' and they've got a herd of influential friends in their corner.
Leading the pack is Dr. Patricia Griffin, head of the CDC's foodborne illness epidemiology section, who understands their argument. Talking about the various E. coli strains, she said, "The problem is it's a little slippery to say which ones cause human illness. We don't have it defined yet. We know those six, and we know a few others, but the others are still in a gray zone."
Her point is well taken. There is not enough known about which are the potentially deadly strains and testing protocols for them are shaky at best. It's important to know what you're looking for and how to find it. Otherwise, it's an unnecessary waste of valuable resources that need to be aimed at the known bad guys.
Even Mansour Samadpour, President of IEH Laboratories, the facility Marler hired to look for the six suspect strains, agrees with Griffin. He thinks the USDA needs to set standards for testing, first.
A USDA standard might still be a long way off. Dr. David Goldman, assistant administrator for the Office of Public Health Science for FSIS, claims they've been working for three years on a screening test but all they have to show for their labor is something that's reliable on only four of the six suspect strains. The agency is reluctant to ban a broader range of E. coli strains until they've developed a reliable and rapid test. A ban issued sooner would be labeled premature and create a huge backlash in a meat industry suddenly charged with identifying and eliminating something for which there would be no reliable tool to do the job.
"We are hopeful that in the next six months or so we would have a screen that would reliably find all six," said Goldman. The agency expects to work on that project, though, until the end of 2011 and then study the beef supply to determine how often those strains occur in meat products.
"I don't want to give the impression that we're going to wait months and months for these tests, and months and months to see what's in the beef supply. In terms of policy options, it's not like we have to do one and then the other," said Goldman.
Jim Hodges, executive vice president of the American Meat Institute (AMI), said banning six more E. coli strains won't solve anything. "The food safety strategies in place in plants today are far more effective in enhancing food safety than outlawing a pathogen that nature presents us."
AMI Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel Mark Dopp, agreed with Hodges. "We are concerned that food safety resources in the private sector and the public sector are not infinite. It's important to invest in technologies that will provide meaningful food safety benefits. We do not believe that declaring non-O157 STECS to be adulterants will enhance the food safety system, and we think that application of such a policy could consume resources that could be better spent elsewhere to achieve meaningful food safety progress."
Although outlawing a bug simply because it exists does no good, Hodges didn't respond to my question about testing for those six if a reliable test were available. Simply put, if it's proven to be a health problem, the meat industry must seize the initiative. It has to face a doubtful public and influential politicians like U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) who must be satisfied that food processors are not dragging their heels.
Gillibrand sniffs at Hodges' comments, almost like she's just caught a whiff of bad meat. She's made food safety one of the cornerstones of her senate seat, going off on some bizarre tangents and scoring the occasional good point. One of those good points--her statement that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated those six strains cause 36,700 illnesses, 1,100 hospitalizations and 30 deaths in America each year, making them a health hazard that must be faced.
Defending her bill that would tag those strains as adulterants and must be tracked, she said, "How many people have to get sick before we take action? In America, in 2010, it is unconscionable that food is still going straight to our kitchens, school cafeterias and restaurants without being properly tested to ensure its safety."
"It's spreading too many diseases and costing too many lives. The laws that are meant to keep us safe from hazardous foods are in critical need of updating. We need to pass this legislation to keep our families safe," she said.

FDA Finds Many Airline Catering Facilities to Have Food Safety Violations


Submitted by Denise Reynolds RD on 2010-06-28

It may be a good thing that many airlines are restricting the meals they serve to their passengers. Inspectors from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have cited numerous catering facilities that prepare airline food for suspected health and sanitation violations, according to USA Today.

The government documents, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, included inspection records for the last two years at three airline catering facilities that operate 91 kitchens and provide more than 100 million meals to US and foreign airlines at US airports. These include LSG Sky Chefs, Gate Gourmet, and Flying Food Group.

The FDA reports for 46 facilities found 27 of them to have suspected food preparation violations including food stored at improper temperatures, unclean equipment, rodent and insect infestation, and workers that do not follow good hygiene practices.
"In spite of best efforts by the FDA and industry, the situation with in-flight catered foods is disturbing, getting worse and now poses a real risk of illness and injury to tens of thousands of airline passengers on a daily basis," says Roy Costa, a consultant and public health sanitarian.
All three caterers say they work hard to ensure food is safe. LSG Sky Chefs, a group with more than 200 customer service centers in 51 countries, claims to have "comprehensive and multilayered quality-control standards in place to ensure our customers receive safe, healthy and high-quality food," according to a statement by spokeswoman Beth Van Duyne. The company¡¯s website says the caterer has produced about 405 million airline meals for more than 300 airlines worldwide.
Norbert van den Berg, Vice President of Gate Gourmet, says findings are taken "very seriously" and the company uses an independent auditor for quality assurance. Glenn Caulkins of Flying Food Group also says his company's facilities are independently audited for quality assurance and the group has invested a lot of money to ensure food safety.
Read: PCRM Reports on the Nations Most Healthful Airport Food
Airlines also conduct their own unannounced inspections and require caterers to provide government inspection reports.
Mary Ann Dowd of the International Flight Services Association, which represents airlines and caterers, says the inspectors' findings are a concern because the trade group works hard to promote food safety. The group will soon distribute a new edition of food-safety guidelines for caterers and airlines.

Blog ? FSIS Validation Requirements Revisited

Safety Zone by James Marsden
(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)

USDA's initiative requiring enhanced validation of HACCP plans has turned out to be one of the most controversial and potentially divisive issues since HACCP became a requirement in the 1990's.
However, to the credit of FSIS and the many individuals and groups that provided thoughtful comments to the Draft Guidance Document, it appears that reason will prevail and the document will be rewritten. Hopefully, the new document will provide a mechanism to give FSIS the assurance that establishments have effective HACCP plans without imposing costly and unnecessary requirements on the industry, especially small businesses.
The comment period for the FSIS Draft Guidance Document closed on June 19. According to Phil Derfler, assistant administrator of FSIS' Office of Policy and Program Development, the agency received over 2000 comments and a significant rewrite of the document is likely. This will give FSIS the opportunity to provide industry with the specifics requirements plants will need to meet in order to assure they are in compliance with the HACCP regulation.
In a recent presentation on validation, Mr. Derfler made a good case for validation as an essential component of effective HACCP plans and food safety systems. He suggested that validation is necessary in order to:
1. Scientifically demonstrate that HACCP system is designed to address effectively the relevant hazards.
2. Through in-plant observations, measurements, and evaluations, or scientific studies, demonstrate that food safety systems will function as designed.
These are reasonable expectations and I agree with the agencies position that validation is not a new requirement, but is already required in HACCP regulations, 9 CFR 417.4(a)(1). I also agree that appropriate validation is an essential component of a successful HACCP program.
In my view, the controversy surrounding the issue has been more about confusion regarding the scope of the requirements and the specific expectations relating to the two components of validation ? scientific and in-plant documentation. For example, if a plant produces dozens of varieties of cooked sausage and relies on cooking as a CCP, would each and every product require a validation study and in-plant validation to demonstrate the effectiveness of the process? The answer to this question is "No". According to Mr. Derfler, "Establishments need to validate only one plan per HACCP category".
Another area causing confusion is that there are contradictions between the FSIS Validation Fact Sheet and the Draft Guidance Document. In NAMP's comments, Executive Director, Phil Kimball states that "the guidance document says that establishments would need to provide support in instances where they believe microbiological testing data is not needed to demonstrate effectiveness of the HACCP system, but the fact sheet says that if a plant can show it can meet specified operational parameters, it has done everything it needs to do to validate its HACCP plan". Clearly these contradictions need to be addressed in the new document.
NAMP and other industry groups representing small and very small meat processors are also concerned that they will be required to do more (and possibly unnecessary) microbiological testing at costs they can't afford.
FSIS plans to review the comments and then announce an updated draft document in the Federal Register in July for a second round of comments. In addition, the agency will hold two additional public meetings.
Both FSIS and the industry deserve credit for their efforts to strive for appropriate validation requirements that document the effectiveness of HACCP Plans without placing excessive regulatory burden on the industry.

June 28, 2010

FDA Says Antibiotic Use in Animals Threatens Human Health

Date Published: Tuesday, June 29th, 2010
As we have long written, overuse and misuse of antibiotics is believed to make germs stronger as the germs learn to fight the effects of the drugs. Now, WebMD writes that dosing animals with antibiotics?a practice used to expand food production?should be stopped.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) use of antibiotics in animals is posing a threat to human health, noting that it has the power to place a ban on this type of antibiotic use, wrote WebMD. To start, the agency will be put in place ¡°draft guidance¡± in the hopes industry will make changes voluntarily. WebMD noted that the guidance would become FDA policy following a 60-day public comment period.
WebMD also wrote that the guidance is based on two principles, that animals only be given antibiotics for healing purposes and that veterinarians monitor all antibiotic use in food animals. The FDA pointed out that it has no problem with antibiotics being used to treat animals in need of care, explained WebMD.
FDA Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein, MD, called the practice of giving food animals antibiotics on a large scale a public health issue, noting that this practice urges drug-resistant bacteria to propagate and creates difficult-to-treat diseases in humans, wrote WebMD. ¡°We are seeing the emergence of multi-drug-resistant pathogens,¡± Dr. Sharfstein said at a news conference, quoted WebMD. ¡°FDA believes overall weight of evidence supports the conclusion that using medically important antimicrobial drugs for production purposes is not appropriate.¡±
Food manufacturers tend to give antibiotics to food animals so that they either gain weight more quickly or gain more weight from what they are eating, a practice the FDA wants to see halted.
Sharfstein said the voluntary guidelines are hoped to provoke industry to make changes without the agency having to change regulations, said WebMD. ¡°We are not expecting people to change tomorrow. This is the first step in FDA establishing principles from which we could move to other steps, such as oversight,¡± Sharfstein said, quoted WebMD. ¡°This does not tell people what to do, it establishes principles and tells people how to achieve those principles,¡± added Sharfstein.
We previously wrote that a large study found a link between medication use in urinary tract infections and birth defects. Another study found that Acinetobacter?a very resistant bacterium?appears to be thriving in hospitals nationwide, with an excess of a 300-percent increase in cases of Acinetobacter resistant to Primaxin (generic: Imipenem). The infections are not always cured with the most powerful of antibiotics.
The improper use of the disinfectant benazlkonium chloride could cause some germs to develop antibiotic resistance. The disinfectant is found in an array of products including skin cleansers and face creams, spermicides, and some disinfectant products.
Another study found a stark coincidence between MRSA?methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus?and the antibiotic, clindamycin, said The Associated Press previously; a problem, because MRSA is becoming resistant to the antibiotic. A large number of infections are due to drug-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA, which end up costing more because of the limited amount of medications that work against drug-resistant infections, said Reuters previously. According to 2005 CDC figures, nearly 19,000 people died in the U.S. from MRSA infections; 94,000 were seriously sickened.

Gulf Seafood: Who Decides How Safe Is Safe?
Updated: 1 day 16 hours ago
"Fresh. Wild Gulf Shrimp. Never Frozen. $16.99 lb." read the sign.
"They're my favorites, but are they safe?" the woman asked the fishmonger.
"We couldn't and wouldn't sell them if they weren't," he answered, and quickly added that someone is testing the hell out of everything coming from the gulf.
He was telling the truth.
But several questions remain to be answered for consumers:

Petroleum contamination is known to cause cancer and brain damage. But how much oil and gas does it take to make seafood dangerous?
Who's in charge of determining how safe is safe?
The Food and Drug Administration is supposedly the nation's food protector. What exactly is FDA's role in this process?
How can you really tell where seafood is coming from? Is there any way to distinguish a gulf shrimp from a Pacific one?
AOL News spent the past two weeks chasing down precisely who is doing that testing and how they decide what is safe to eat.
The analysis is important. Public health experts say they are not concerned about E. coli or salmonella coming from seafood heavily tainted with oil. What they fear is the possibility of cancer or neurologic impact.
Analyzing whether dangerous contaminants are in the seafood is an intricate process that uses a complex array of CSI-like instruments that can find bad things down to the parts per billion level.
But these are everyday tasks for marine biologists, toxicologists and other technical wizards in Louisiana state laboratories in Baton Rouge and in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle. These are the two primary sites scrutinizing thousands of samples of shrimp, crab and fin fish gathered from the Gulf of Mexico.
The multiple chemical analyses have detected no harmful level of contaminants, both labs say.
But the scientific determination of whether the seafood is tainted from the still-flowing oil is only half the battle.
Those with the knowledge and proper equipment can measure the level of contaminants. But the decision to declare the food safe or not appears to be a thornier debate, sometimes fraught with political implications, finger-pointing and, occasionally, debilitating fear of saying or doing the wrong thing.
"Government decisions on what should or should not be done with potentially contaminated food are often influenced by everyone who has a stake in the outcome," says Jay Shimshack, an assistant professor of environmental economics at Tulane University.
"In this case, we might reasonably expect the oil industry or its lobbying organizations to represent their own interests during the relevant policy making process," he said.
This is how the concerns among the players appear to break down:

BP and other oil interests want the food declared safe to limit its liability and to halt further erosion of the industry's reputation.
The crabbers, shrimpers, fishers and processors want to continue selling the oil-free seafood they're harvesting and keep longtime commercial customers -- some better restaurants and persnickety shoppers -- from fleeing to foreign suppliers.
The public health experts just want to ensure the safety of what's being sold.

However, the wording of the public advisories is crucial.
Shimshack, an expert on the risks and benefits of seafood consumption, cautions that consumers tend to overreact to negative information.
He says that health officials need to manage the risk trade-offs of potential contamination from fish consumption versus the loss of health benefits from reduction in fish consumption.
Often, he says, those who rely on seafood for their very subsistence because of its availability will switch to a diet of often less-healthy ground meat and macaroni and cheese.
He warns that it's difficult to match the significant health benefits of fish and shellfish: rich in protein, low in undesirable fats and high in nutrients and healthful omega-3 fatty acids.
The professor urges that potentially contaminated seafood be kept out of the food chain and then the public be advised that the remaining available seafood is safe to eat, which is what several government agencies are attempting to do.
Who's in Charge?
State officials and seafood sellers from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama say inspectors from EPA and NOAA are all over the place.
The FDA has told Congress and issued press releases proclaiming it has "implemented a surveillance sampling program of seafood products at Gulf Coast area primary processing plants" and "this sampling will provide verification that seafood being harvested is safe to eat."
The FDA is sending out lots of e-mail -- including the often indecipherable Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point safety plan.
But most officials and business owners say they haven't seen FDA personnel on the shrimp or crabbing boats, on the docks or in the processing plants.
AOL News repeatedly asked FDA's media controllers where exactly their "surveillance" people are working, and how many samples FDA has collected and analyzed.
Seven people, 11 calls or e-mails. No answer.
However, only hours after this article was published today, the FDA put out a press release assuring that it was working with the NOAA, the National Marine Fisheries Service and Gulf Coast state officials to ensure the safety of Gulf Coast seafood.
"No single agency could adequately ensure the safety of seafood coming from the gulf following this tragedy, but in working together, we can be sure that tainted waters are closed as appropriate, contaminated seafood is not allowed to make it to market, and that closed waters can be reopened to fishing as soon as is safe," Eric Schwaab, assistant administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, said in the release.
And even later today, Vice President Joe Biden, speaking to shrimpers, crabbers and fishermen in the region, said the federal government has reached an agreement with Gulf Coast states to set safety levels for seafood from the gulf. "We want one single standard so you all don't have to worry about where you fish, if you can fish and if the waters are open," Biden said, according to The Associated Press.
How It's Tested
This type of analysis is not new to the NOAA team. It performed almost identical testing of the safety of seafood after other major oil spills including the Exxon Valdez, other spills in the Gulf of Mexico, on both U.S. coasts and even in the Persian Gulf in 1991, when fleeing Iraqi forces opened the pipes of several oil tankers and the valves at the huge Sea Island Oil Terminal.
NOAA reports that petroleum oils are composed of complex and variable mixtures of hundreds of different hydrocarbon compounds. Of these, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are typically of greatest concern with regard to health effects.
The agency is still very proud of its fish sniffers, who perform "blind nose sensory evaluation" to detect the scent of chemicals that are not normal to fish. But the chemical analysis is the definitive test.
Depending on the day and weather, NOAA has two to eight vessels actively collecting seafood samples throughout the gulf and brought to the NOAA lab in Pascagoula, Miss., where the seafood is labeled, numbered and logged in.
The fin fish, shrimp, oysters and crab arrive in Seattle frozen in small blue-top jars, says Walton Dickhoff, a research scientist and division director at NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service lab.
Eighteen to 30 research chemists and other marine specialists move the samples though equipment and work stations spread over two floors.
Once Jon Buzitis removes and logs in the carefully numbered jars from the storage freezer, the analysis of the samples can take three days, but they can and do run multiple samples.
Dickhoff explains that the samples are thawed, homogenized and dried with a sodium or magnesium sulfate. To remove the seafood's bones or the connective tissue, the samples are then mixed with a dichloromethane, which is similar to the commercial dry-cleaning fluid.
They're then moved into a high-performance liquid chromatograph that, over eight or nine hours, removes a lot of compounds that could interfere with the analysis.
Finally, Dickhoff says, the samples spend 28 hours running through a chromatograph mass spec machine, which cranks out a detailed chart with separate peaks showing the level of each of the 19 polyaromatic hydrocarbons found in the samples.
What It Means
What those numbers mean is what determines the safety of the gulf seafood.
But is it safe?
"We've got the science of detection down," Dickhoff says. "The discussions that we have been having with EPA and FDA is to determine what's an appropriate level of (seafood) consumption and risk?"
The bible that most risk assessors seem to be relying on is a lengthy 2002 NOAA report, "Managing Seafood Safety After an Oil Spill," issued after the Valdez spill. It explains that the acceptable cancer risk assessment is derived from how much seafood a person eats, over what period of time and the level of contamination found.
What that means is the seafood is deemed safe if it doesn't increase a person's lifetime cancer rate by more than one additional case in a million people. Some states like Maine use a higher risk levels, such as a lifetime cancer risk of no greater than 1 in 100,000 people, NOAA says.
Patrick Banks is a marine fisheries biologist for the state of Louisiana and is responsible for ensuring the quality and accuracy of the testing of market-bound gulf seafood.
So far, the state has tested more than 10,000 samples of fish, crab and shrimp. None has levels of oil contamination that raised health concerns.
"Determining how safe is safe can a painful process," Banks says. "NOAA has a number, the level of contamination at which a closed fishing ground can be reopened for commerce or sport. That's the level that we test for. Make sense?"
As far as determining whether the shrimp, crab and fish came from the gulf or were farmed in foreign waters, the best advice is to know your fishmonger because buying seafood today clearly demands that the buyer beware.

Multiple Salmonella Strains Found In HVP Facility
by Dan Flynn | Jun 30, 2010
The processing facility that made the hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) included in 177 separately recalled products earlier this year still has some explaining to do with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
In a June 23 warning letter to Nevada-based Basic Food Flavors Inc., FDA asked for documentation that corrective actions promised last March have in fact taken place.
FDA's last inspection at Basic Food Flavors, located in North Las Vegas, found multiple strains of Salmonella contamination and led to the recall of all powdered and paste HVP manufactured by the processor since Sept. 17, 2009.
When the HVP recall was announced by the nation's top food safety officials in Washington D.C., there was concern that the common flavoring ingredient would lead to thousands of product recalls. FDA, however, limited its enforcement to products that did not put the HVP through a "kill step," and the number of products recalled has not risen above 177.
FDA's warning letter, released Tuesday, does confirm that more strains of Salmonella were contaminating the processing facility.
"Laboratory analysis of these environmental samples (collected for testing) found Salmonella in nine separate subsamples," the letter says. "The positive subsamples were further serotyped and S. Tennessee, S. senftenberg, and S. westhampton were isolated from the environmental samples."
"It was further determined that six of the subsamples to be S. Tennessee, the same stereotype with an indistinguishable Pulse-Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern isolated from the samples of finished product." it added.
FDA said the Salmonella may have established a "niche environment" in the facility, causing the HVP to be adulterated under existing law and regulations.
Basic Food Flavors needs to eradicate the organism in its facility. FDA asked for specific information on the corrective actions the company is taking to combat the pathogen so it cannot survive and grow.
FDA asked the company to respond in 15 days and promised that it would be back for another inspection to determine if the steps taken are adequate.

F.D.A. antibiotics ¡®guidance¡¯ lacks science: N.P.P.C., June 29, 2010
by Bryan Salvage

WASHINGTON ? On June 28, guidance was issued on the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry production by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The National Pork Producers Council (N.P.P.C.) says the proposal could lead to the elimination or costly review of previously approved animal-health products. The organization said there appears to be no science on which F.D.A. based the guidance.
NPPC stated the F.D.A. guidance calls for antibiotics that are ¡°medically important¡± to humans to be used in animals only when necessary to assure their health. It also says those antibiotics should be administered with veterinary oversight or ¡°consultation.¡± F.D.A. said the guidance would be used to develop public policy on animal antibiotic use.
¡°This guidance could eliminate certain antibiotics that are extremely important to the health of animals,¡± said Sam Carney, N.P.P.C. president and a pork producer from Adair, Iowa. ¡°F.D.A. didn¡¯t present any science on which to base this, yet it could have a tremendous negative impact on animal health and, ultimately, the safety of food. As we know, healthy animals produce safe food, and we need every available tool to protect animal health.¡±
Antibiotics that currently are not labeled for preventing, treating or controlling diseases could continue to be used if after undergoing a second rigorous F.D.A. approval process one of those label claims is proved. The process typically takes seven to 10 years and can cost antibiotics manufacturers millions of dollars.
N.P.P.C., which supports veterinary supervision, said regarding F.D.A.¡¯s call for animal antibiotics to be used under the ¡°oversight¡± of, or in ¡°consultation¡± with, a veterinarian, it is concerned with the possible direction of the guidance. The association pointed out a requirement that all antibiotics be accompanied by feed directives, for example, could be problematic given the country¡¯s severe shortage of large-animal veterinarians.
¡°Producers work with their veterinarians to develop animal health plans that include the judicious use of antibiotics,¡± Mr. Carney said. ¡°The industry also has programs, including the F.D.A.-reviewed Pork Quality Assurance Plus program, that educate producers about the responsible use of antibiotics.¡±
The guidance, which does not have the force of law but may be treated as such by F.D.A., is a move to address an increase in antibiotic-resistant illnesses in humans, which opponents of modern animal agriculture blame on the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry production.
Top scientists with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, however, recently told a U.S. House committee that there is no scientific study linking antibiotic use in food-animal production with antibiotic resistance.

NOAA, FDA, and Gulf Coast State Officials Affirm Commitment to Ensuring Safety of Gulf Coast Seafood
Federal and State Agencies Will Use a Joint Protocol for Reopening Closed Waters
New Orleans -- Gulf State health and fisheries officials joined with senior leaders from several federal agencies to affirm a shared commitment to ensuring the safety of seafood coming out of the Gulf of Mexico, through closures of affected waters, surveillance, and with an eye toward reopening closed waters as soon as possible, consistent with public health goals.
Representatives from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) met last week in New Orleans with state health officers and state fisheries directors from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas to coordinate implementation of a joint protocol for sampling and reopening that will apply to both state and federal waters.
Together, they will implement a comprehensive, coordinated, multi-agency program to ensure that seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is safe to eat. This is important not only for consumers who need to know their food is safe to eat, but also for fishermen who need to be able to sell their products with confidence.
¡°No single agency could adequately ensure the safety of seafood coming from the Gulf following this tragedy, but in working together, we can be sure that tainted waters are closed as appropriate, contaminated seafood is not allowed to make it to market, and that closed waters can be reopened to fishing as soon as is safe,¡± said Eric Schwaab, Assistant Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service.
State and federal authorities reached a critical step toward reopening with their agreement on a shared protocol that will be applied as oil contamination abates in federal and state waters.
State authorities in Louisiana are applying the protocol to consider the possible reopening of two areas and NOAA is applying the protocol to consider the reopening of two closed areas off the coasts of Louisiana and Florida.
¡°We understand the devastating effects this spill has had on the Gulf states and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with state and federal partners to ensure that these important protocols are implemented efficiently, effectively, and in a way that makes sense for all involved, while maintaining the number one priority we all share ? protecting the health of those in the Gulf Coast and across the country,¡± said Michael Taylor, FDA¡¯s Deputy Commissioner for Foods.
The first and most important preventive step in protecting the public from potentially contaminated seafood is to close fishing and shellfish harvesting areas in the Gulf that have been or are likely to be exposed to oil from the spill.
In addition, NOAA and FDA are monitoring fish caught just outside of closed areas, and testing them for petroleum compounds, to ensure that the closed areas are sufficiently large so as to prevent the harvest of contaminated fish. So far, fish flesh tested from outside the closure areas have tested well below any level of concern for oil-based contamination.

Top USDA Food Safety Nominee Clears Ag Committee
by Helena Bottemiller | Jul 01, 2010
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) just might have an Under Secretary for Food Safety this grilling season.
The Senate Agriculture Committee yesterday approved the nomination of Dr. Elisabeth Hagen to lead the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), five months after President Obama announced the nomination, and 21 months after the last under secretary left the job in 2008.
The lingering vacancy has drawn considerable criticism in the food policy community, causing many to openly suggest FSIS lacks leadership and direction at a time when the Obama Administration is stressing food safety system reform.
The voice vote to approve Hagen's nomination occurred yesterday at the beginning of an Ag committee hearing on the 2012 farm bill. (The committee also approved Catherine Woteki as the Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education and Economics and Sara L. Faivre-Davis, Lowell Junkins and Myles Watts to the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation Board of Directors.)
"Maintaining the safety of our commercial food supply is one of the most important missions of USDA. Keeping the public's faith in the integrity of our food systems will require increased coordination with all relevant agencies and I am pleased to know Dr. Hagen shares my commitment to keeping our nation's food supply safe," said Ag Committee Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), in a statement yesterday.
Hagen currently serves as the USDA's Chief Medical Officer. "If confirmed, I look forward to using this experience to build strong, science-based, public health policy," she told the Ag committee during her confirmation hearing in May.
"My background and experience in medicine, public health, and food safety has prepared me to lead an agency responsible for the safety of a large portion of the food supply," she said.
Hagen's nomination now moves to the full Senate for consideration. It's likely she and other pending, noncontroversial nominations will be approved by the upper chamber during the next work period, after the Fourth of July recess.

Biden Visits Gulf, Discusses Seafood Safety
by Helena Bottemiller | Jul 01, 2010
"Sometimes life's not fair," said Vice President Joe Biden, as he addressed a small crowd in New Orleans, Louisiana yesterday. "Y'all have been hit with Katrina, Gustav and now the BP oil spill. You've been through more than any community has a right to be asked to go through. You've been on boats, some of you, since you were kids."
The visit comes over two months after the oil began spewing into the Gulf and two days after the federal government again expanded the area closed to fishing--again limiting an over $2 billion industry.
The region faces another challenge as Hurricane Alex, predicted to hit the Texas/Mexico border, is creating swells and complicating oil spill response efforts.
The closed area now represents 80,228 square miles, approximately 33.2 percent of Gulf of Mexico federal waters, according to federal officials. The last closed area modification was June 23, when 78,597 square miles were closed to fishing, or roughly 32.5 percent of federal waters of the Gulf.
Biden struck an emotional tone yesterday as he outlined the importance of ensuring the safety of seafood coming out of the Gulf, praising the Gulf community for enduring the struggle through a slew of devastating disasters. The Vice President admitted there had been some confusion between fisherman, state public health agencies, and the federal response. "We want one single standard so y'all don't have to worry about where you fish, if you can fish, and when the waters are open, whether the waters are federal waters or state waters."
"Bottom line is, we want to get fishermen back out on the water as soon as possible after the oil has been removed," said Biden, as he outlined a renewed effort between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Biden visited New Orleans and Pensacola, Florida as well as the Unified Area Command to receive a briefing on response efforts and tour the facility. He was joined by National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, Federal On-Scene Coordinator Rear Admiral James Watson, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Congressman Anh "Joseph" Cao.
The Vice President also made a stop at Pomes Seafood, an eastern New Orleans seafood wholesaler, where he met with Gulf Coast residents impacted by the spill.
Federal officials announced last week that NOAA ship Delaware II has been deployed to collect tunas, swordfish, and sharks, to gather data about "the conditions highly migratory species are experiencing in waters around the Gulf of Mexico spill site."
According to a NOAA statement, "During the two-week mission, the research vessel will use longline fishing gear to capture the fish, and assess their environment using sophisticated water chemistry monitoring instruments. Researchers will only retain the fish needed to get enough samples for the study. Every effort is made to release any animals caught but not needed for sampling. Some may also be fitted with satellite tags to help determine how much time these highly migratory animals spend in oiled and unoiled waters."
Two other NOAA ships, Pisces, one of NOAA's newest research vessels, and the ship Oregon II, are in the midst of surveys of reef fish, bottom-dwelling fish, and shrimp in the eastern and western Gulf of Mexico to sample for seafood and water quality and species abundance as part of the oil spill response.
"These vessels are providing a variety of seafood and water samples from locations throughout the Gulf--nearshore and offshore, shallow water and deep, oiled and unoiled," said Steven Murawski, who is leading NOAA's science response to the spill, in a statement. "This is baseline information we need to measure any effects on seafood attributable to the spilled oil and to make sure our fishery closures are effective and in place for as long as they need to be, but no longer."
According to NOAA, the agency has also deployed charter ship Beau Rivage in the closed fishing zone in the eastern Gulf, a vessel that uses bottom longline gear to catch fish for seafood safety samples, and several other vessels, which are collecting seafood samples for analysis.

Hospital leaders ousted after food poisoning kills three patients
June 24, 2010 ? 2:57pm ET | By Wendy Johnson
While medication errors, infection control lapses and patient falls are among the most common causes of preventable patient deaths, lack of safe, standardized food handling procedures also pose a deadly risk, as Central Louisiana State Hospital recently learned.
A food poisoning outbreak in May led to three patient deaths, resulting in a management shake-up this week and the potential loss of the Pineville-based facility's Medicare certification. Dietary services staff apparently served improperly stored chicken salad that was infected with a common form of food poisoning, clostridium perfringens. In addition to three deaths, the incident sickened 42 patients and 12 staff members, The Town Talk newspaper reported.
State health officials heaped scathing criticism onto the hospital after surveying the hospital and uncovering serious operational process and management deficiencies that stretched beyond the facility's dietary services area into the overall operation of the hospital.
"Major changes are necessary," said Alan Levine, who heads up the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, the newspaper reported. "The findings across the board raise real concerns related to overall management that go beyond the food service area."
The hospital's administrator and associate administrator were ousted from their jobs as a result. In addition, CMS has found that the hospital is not in compliance with all of Medicare's Conditions of Participation; a finding that could jeopardize the facility's Medicare certification.

County¡¯s E. coli response questioned
Boy¡¯s aunt feels health department should have alerted the public
By Stephanie Rice
Columbian staff writer
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Ronan Wilson
The aunt of 4-year-old Ronan Wilson, who died April 8 after contracting E. coli at his Hazel Dell in-home day care, said Wednesday she wants to know why the Clark County Department of Health did not let the public know about the outbreak until the day after Ronan died.
Savenia Falquist also questions why the day care children and their siblings continued attending school, possibly putting other children at risk, and why the health department did not at least alert health care providers about the outbreak.
When Ronan¡¯s mother first took him to a doctor on March 29, the doctor did not think it was necessary to test for E. coli and diagnosed Ronan with the flu. Other parents of children at the day care have said they initially had difficulty getting doctors to approve a stool test, the only way to test for E. coli.
Falquist told Clark County commissioners at their monthly Board of Health meeting Wednesday that she¡¯s trying to educate herself on the county¡¯s policies for informing the public about communicable diseases.
¡°The intention is not to go after a county department that¡¯s funded by the public,¡± Falquist said after the meeting. ¡°What I really want to do is rule out complacency.¡±
Clark County¡¯s public health officer, Dr. Alan Melnick, said after the meeting that health officials are reviewing how the case was handled and will give a comprehensive report to commissioners.
John Wiesman, the director of the health department, said the county typically only issues public health warnings when health officials can¡¯t personally contact those potentially affected by a health threat. For example, a news release would be issued if a food services worker tested positive for hepatitis A and the county would have to warn people who ate at the worker¡¯s restaurant.
He said health care provider alerts are sent out when there¡¯s a specific group of known at-risk residents but the health department can¡¯t contact them all. An example is an outbreak at a school.
A provider alert was not sent out about the E. coli outbreak at the day care because owners Larry and Dianne Fletch had contact information for all of the parents whose children attended the center, Wiesman said.
The day care has had its license revoked by the state Department of Early Learning, a move the Fletches appealed. According to the state, the Fletches waited too long to contact the county health department after children started becoming ill.
While no source of the E. coli has been confirmed, the state, in its letter to the Fletches that explained why their license was being revoked, suggested that the bacteria may have been brought into the home by an infant who had diarrhea for 10 days.
¡°The infant was identified as being one of the first children to exhibit symptoms of E. coli, and may have been the source of the illness,¡± wrote Darcy Taylor, licensing supervisor for the Department of Early Learning.
14 test positive
E. coli O157:H7 is the most common toxin-producing bacteria in North America. The original source of an infection is often cattle manure, which can enter the body with undercooked hamburger or unpasteurized milk or fruit juices. An infected person can spread the infection to another person through human stool, when people don¡¯t thoroughly wash their hands after using the toilet or after diapering a child.
A total of 14 people at the day care tested positive for E. coli O157:H7 bacteria. Three were hospitalized and 10 people had mild symptoms.
Ronan, who was born 12 weeks premature and was sick a lot his first few years of life with colds and ear infections but was expected to outgrow other health problems, died after a week at Doernbecher Children¡¯s Hospital in Portland.
A doctor initially didn¡¯t think he had E. coli because he didn¡¯t have bloody diarrhea; by the time that symptom showed four days later, he was admitted to Doernbecher.
The E. coli first attacked Ronan¡¯s kidneys, then his colon. He didn¡¯t wake up after surgery April 3 to remove part of his colon, and brain scans showed the E. coli had destroyed large sections of his brain. Anthony and Bonnie Wilson said during an April 24 interview that they knew when Ronan¡¯s brain began swelling it was time to say goodbye, and Ronan¡¯s ventilator was turned off.
Ronan¡¯s death was the first from E. coli in Clark County since at least 1988, which is as far back as the state¡¯s computer database goes.
Children who tested positive were not allowed to go to a day care until they had two negative stool samples, 24 hours apart, Melnick said Wednesday. He said older children at the center or older siblings of children at the day care were still allowed to go to school because there aren¡¯t the same concerns about transmitting the bacteria with older children. There aren¡¯t diapers being changed, for example.
¡°The kids are older, and their hygiene is better,¡± Melnick said.
There¡¯s no cure for E. coli O157:H7, so doctors can only treat what it does to the body. Generally speaking, Melnick said, the course of treatment is hydration to help avoid kidney failure.
Falquist said she wants to make sure the county, when deciding on whether to send out public alerts or provider alerts, errs on the side of protecting its most vulnerable residents rather than worrying about causing panic.|
¡°Information is what helps us advocate,¡± she said.

Marie Callendar's Salmonella Outbreak Update
Posted on June 25, 2010 by Drew Falkenstein
The CDC updated its official case count today in the Salmonella outbreak linked to ConAgra's Marie Callendar's brand Cheesy Chickena and Rice frozen meals. There are currently 37 confirmed cases of Salmonella Chester foodpoisoning illnesses in the ConAgra outbreak.
We have filed lawsuits on behalf of Dave Smith and Kevin Taylor, two Oregon residents who consumed the contaminated products, and are among the CDC's official count.
In other national Salmonella news, the Salmonella Hvittingfoss outbreak linked to Illinois Subway restaurants has claimed 97 confirmed victims since early May. Alicea Bush-Bailey filed suit this week against the Subway restaurant in Aurora, Illinois, where she purchased the sub that made her sick, as well as Doctor's Associates, Subway's parent corporation. And Tyler Nay filed suit on June 18 against the Athens, Ohio restaurant called Casa Lopez that was also the source of a large Salmonella outbreak in May.

Skokie Update: More ill with Salmonella in Skokie Country Club outbreak
Posted on July 1, 2010 by Drew Falkenstein
The most recent report is that 37 people have suffered confirmed Salmonella infections in the Salmonella outbreak at Skokie Country Club in Glencoe, Illinois. Eight victims have required hospitalization, and two of those victims remain hospitalized.
The strain of Salmonella in the Skokie Country Club outbreak is Salmonella enteritidis, which is one of the most common of the 2,000+ different strains of Salmonella. Serotype enteritidis is frequently, though not always, associated with the consumption of undercooked eggs. We have represented many people in Salmonella enteritidis outbreaks associated with undercooked eggs, and have discovered that, in egg outbreaks, frequently the restaurant involved has engaged in the practice of "pooling" eggs--i.e. cracking a bunch of eggs and holding a dozen or more of the cracked eggs in a large bowl or bucket. This practice has the potential to cause bacterial proliferation, thus creating quite a dangerous bowl of eggs.
There has been no official word of what happened at the Skokie Country Club, but the outbreak, which appears to be quite large (80+ suspected illnesses), has many features that suggest breakdowns in proper foodhandling procedures. Whether the outbreak was in fact linked to eggs, much less pooled eggs, remains to be seen, but certainly there were failures amongst the kitchen and service staff at Skokie.

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