Practices for the Food Industry
reveal true value of foodborne illness reduction: Study
Source : http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/On-your-radar/Food-safety/Consumers-reveal-true-value-of-foodborne-illness-reduction-Study
By Caroline Scott-Thomas (11, Feb, 2011)
Consumers are willing to
pay more than government analyses suggest in order to reduce their risk
of becoming ill from foodborne pathogens, according to a new study published
in Food Policy
The researchers claim that basing cost-benefit analyses for potential
ways to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness on how many illnesses
and deaths such measures would prevent does not reflect actual benefit.
They propose that the real value of any food safety procedure should
be determined by how much consumers are willing to spend to avoid illness.
With this intention, Brian Roe, professor of agricultural, environmental
and development economics at Ohio State University and Mario Teisl of
the University of Maine, conducted surveys involving 3,511 individuals
to find out how much more people were willing to pay for foods with
a reduced risk of contamination with E. coli or listeria.
"We think what we are measuring is more realistic, as complete
eradication is a highly unlikely outcome for any policy," Roe said.
"We also are quite certain that our estimates of consumers' willingness
to pay would be higher than what the USDA would calculate using its
The researchers found that Americans would be willing to pay around
an extra dollar per year for a ten percent reduction in risk that they
would get sick from eating a supermarket-bought hamburger that could
be contaminated with E. coli. That is equal to about $305m for a ten
percent risk reduction - compared to a 2008 US Department of Agriculture
(USDA) analysis that estimated a $446m value for completely eradicating
a specific type of E. coli contamination from all food sources.
"The [USDA] projections will estimate how many fewer people will
die, how many fewer will get sick, and how do we assign benefit values
to those improvements in the human condition," Roe said. "What
we're saying is, let's think of a method where we can assign a value
to that avoided case as well as one for a person who misses work and
pays $20 to go to a doctor.
"To hedge their bets, would people be willing to pay $2 a year,
$5 a year, to limit the odds they're going to get sick from 1 in 100
down to 1 in 1,000? That's the data you really want."
The researchers set up hypothetical scenarios about the purchase of
either a package of hotdogs or a pound of hamburger. They set prices
for the packages based on whether they were treated with ethylene gas
processing or electron beam irradiation to reduce contaminants, or left
untreated, and then described the probability that the food would be
contaminated with either E. coli or listeria.
Respondents could choose to buy the food treated with the pathogen-reducing
technology, buy their usual brand, or stop buying the product altogether.
They found that consumers would spend more for the safer products, but
only up to a certain amount.
Roe said that this cost-benefit
assessment method measures the value to consumers of avoiding becoming
ill, rather than just the cost of foodborne illness.
"If the food industry were forced to put technology in place that
lowered the presence of E. coli and that ramped up prices to the extent
where everybody had to pay about a dollar more out of pocket each year
for hamburger, we're saying that, according to this model, that would
be about an equal tradeoff for the US population. And if the technology
costs only about 10 cents per person instead, that would seem like a
good deal to most people," he said.
absorbers rated above irradiation for almond shelf life
Source : http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Oxygen-absorbers-rated-above-irradiation-for-almond-shelf-life
By Jane Byrne (11, Feb, 2011)
Greek researchers investigating
the effect of irradiation, active and modified atmosphere packaging,
and storage conditions on quality retention of raw, whole, unpeeled
almonds find a method using only an oxygen absorber the most effective.
The authors, writing in the Journal of Food Science and Agriculture,
concluded that non-irradiated almonds retained acceptable quality for
around a year when stored at 20”ĘC with an oxygen absorber irrespective
of lighting conditions and packaging material oxygen barrier.
They also concluded that lower doses of irradiation gave better sensory
results than higher doses.
Irradiation and active packaging can be effective alternative technologies
for pest control and inhibition of growth of aflatoxigenic Aspergillus
species in almonds.
But, according to the literature insects are killed at a dose of 1 kGy,
while doses between 3 and 5 kGy are needed to inhibit mycelium growth
and toxin production of Aspergillus.
The researchers report that they had previously evaluated the short-term
effect of irradiation dose on the quality of raw unpeeled almonds and
found that they become organoleptically unacceptable at doses higher
than 3.0 kGy.
Meanwhile, oxygen absorbers are also efficient for control of growth
of aerobic microorganisms such as Aspergillus species and may still
prevent damage caused by larvae and insects, note the authors
Almond kernels were packaged in barrier and high-barrier pouches, under
nitrogen gas (N2) or with an oxygen (O2) absorber and stored either
under fluorescent lighting or in the dark at 20”ĘC for 12 months.
Treatments included the following: raw, non-irradiated almonds under
nitrogen or with an ZPT type O2 absorber; irradiated almonds at 1.0
kGy under nitrogen or with a ZPT type O2 absorber, and finally irradiated
almonds at 3.0 kGy under nitrogen or with a ZPT type O2 absorber.
The authors also tested an experimental silicon oxide coated polyethylene
terephthalate low-densitypolyethylene (PETSiOx// LDPE) laminate as an
effective barrier for the protection of almonds.
In the case of modified atmosphere packaging, pouches were first evacuated
and then immediately injected with N2 gas. The pouches were heat sealed
using a vacuum sealer. In terms of active packaging, a ZPT type O2 absorber
was introduced into each pouch and then the packs were heat sealed.
Control samples, said the authors, were prepared by packaging raw unpeeled
almonds in glass jars flushed with N2 and stored at ?18”ĘC for up to
They explained that at storage intervals of zero to 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and
12 months of storage, three separate identical samples were withdrawn
from each treatment for chemical and sensory analysis.
Quality parameters monitored were peroxide value, hexanal content, colour,
fatty acid composition and volatile compounds. Of the sensory attributes
colour, texture, odour and taste were evaluated, added the team.
The authors found that non-irradiated raw unpeeled almonds with the
oxygen absorber could be classified as fresh even after 12 months of
But they concluded that the peroxide value and hexanal increased with
dose of irradiation and storage time.
Irradiation resulted in a decrease of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated
fatty acids during storage with a parallel increase of saturated fatty
Volatile compounds were not affected by irradiation but increased with
storage time indicating enhanced lipid oxidation, they reported.
For samples packaged under a N2 atmosphere, colour values decreased
during storage with a parallel increase of redness resulting to gradual
product darkening especially in irradiated samples, said the team.
"Irradiation substantially increased lipid oxidation during long-term
storage even in the case of almonds stored under extreme protection,
i.e. use of a high-barrier film combined with the oxygen absorber and
storage in the dark," added the authors.
on controlling E.coli 0157 cross contamination
Source : http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Guidelines-on-controlling-E.coli-0157-cross-contamination
By Rory Harrington (17, Feb, 2011)
The UK Food Standards Agency
(FSA) has issued guidelines for all food businesses on controlling cross
contamination by E.coli 0157 between raw and ready-to-eat-foods.
The agency said it had published the guide in response to serious outbreaks
of the foodborne pathogen in Scotland in 1996 and Wales in 2005 which
were triggered by cross-contamination violations.
Although E.coli is the key focus of the document, the measures will
also help control other bacteria, such as campylobacter and salmonella.
It not only contains guidance on compliance with Regulation EC No 852/2004
but also outlines a raft of best practice recommendations, said the
food safety watchdog.
A major element in the guide is the principle of physical separation
of so-called clean environments, where RTE foods are handled and stored,
from other surfaces or equipment not designated for use in the clean
area. Key to this is the use of separate equipment and utensils.
Complex equipment such as vacuum packers, mincing machines and slicers
should never be used for both raw and RTE foods - and separate equipment
should be provided, urged the paper.
Maintaining all surfaces, equipment clothes etc in clean areas as E.coli
free is vital "because no further controls will prevent that contamination
spreading within the clean area," said the report. "Food premises
should be designed to enable adequate separation."
Handwashing and disinfection
Staff movement between RTE and raw food areas should be minimised and
where it does occur strict handwashing controls must be implemented.
Hygienic hand rubs and antiseptic gels should only be considered an
additional precaution but not an alternative to handwashing.
Disinfectants and sanitisers must meet officially recognised standards
and should be used as instructed by the manufacturer - but cannot be
used as a substitute for physical separation.
But it added that "effective chemical disinfection is an essential
prerequisite hygiene measure throughout the food industry”¦"
Documented procedures and control measures
Food business must employ "robust documented procedures" and
strict supervision to ensure compliance with valid E.coli control measures.
Breakdown in procedures should be treated as a "serious incident"
and immediate steps taken to stop any potentially contaminated food
from reaching leaving the premises.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in Canadian supermarket chicken
- What about the U.S.?
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/antibiotic-resistant-bacteria-found-in-canadian-supermarket-chicken---what-about-the-us/
By Bill Marler (14, Feb, 2011)
According to CBC Television,
about 67 percent of (presumably Canadian) chicken has harmful bacteria.
"Marketplace" researchers tested grocery store chicken for
harmful, drug-resistant bacteria and bought 100 samples of poultry from
supermarket chains in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. The samples included
some of the "most familiar names in the poultry business,"
says CBC News.
Lab analysis of the chicken found that two-thirds, or 67 percent, had
bacteria. But the surprise wasn't just the E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter
bacteria found in the chicken. Rather it was that all of the bacteria
were resistant to at least one antibiotic.
Even more frightening, the researchers found some of the bacteria had
resistance to "six, seven, or even eight different types of antibiotics."
In interviews with "Marketplace," doctors and scientists said
that the problem could be the result of chicken farmers giving too many
antibiotics to their chickens, to make them stay healthy and speed up
the growth process.
One wonders what a similar test would find in U.S. chickens? Sounds
like I have might have a new project for 2011?
Sprouts Outbreak Toll: 140
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/02/final-alfalfa-sprouts-outbreak-tally-is-140/
By Mary Rothschild (17, Feb, 2011)
Half of those sickened in
a multistate outbreak of Salmonella linked to alfalfa sprouts were from
Illinois, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports in
its final update on the investigation.
The final outbreak toll was 140 people in 26 states and the District
of Columbia infected with the outbreak strain -- Salmonella serotype
Seventy Illinois residents were among the outbreak victims, whose onset
dates ranged from Nov. 1, 2010 through Feb. 9, 2011. There were 23 people
in Missouri and 13 in Indiana identified with the outbreak strain, along
with four in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania; two in Massachusetts, New York,
Tennessee and Virginia; and single cases in Arkansas, California, Colorado,
Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky,
Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon,
South Carolina and South Dakota, although the CDC cautions that because
this is a fairly common Salmonella strain, a few of the illnesses might
not have been related to the outbreak.
Case patients ranged in age from 1 to 85. Nearly a quarter were hospitalized.
Many of those who became ill in Illinois ate sandwiches containing sprouts
at various Jimmy John's sandwich outlets, according to the CDC.
Collaborative efforts of local, state, and federal public health investigators
and regulatory agencies linked the outbreak to sprouts served on the
Jimmy John's sandwiches -- Tiny Greens alfalfa sprouts or a blend of
alfalfa, radish and clover sprouts marketed as "Spicy Sprouts."
The CDC said the sprouts were also distributed to farmers' markets,
restaurants and groceries in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri and
may have been distributed to other Midwestern states.
Tiny Greens Organic Farm of Urbana, IL, recalled specific lots of its
sprouts on Dec. 29, 2010, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
identified the farm as the possible source of the outbreak, and advised
consumers not to eat its products.
As reported in earlier investigation updates, the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration later found that a sample of water run-off from the organic
farm was contaminated with Salmonella that matched the outbreak strain,
but product samples tested by FDA were negative.
Tiny Greens Organic Farm owner Bill Bagby objected to that report, telling
a trade publication that the sample testing positive for the outbreak
strain was collected outside his indoor growing operation, in runoff
from the compost pile.
In its Form 483 report on the investigation, the FDA said inspectors
found that Tiny Greens sprouts were being grown in "soil from the
organic material decomposed outside" without any "kill step"
to rid them of the Salmonella that led to the outbreak.
The inspection report also cited multiple other issues, including inadequate
documentation of antimicrobial seed treatment, employee lunches in the
sprouts cooler, work surfaces with questionable sanitation, condensation
dripping from the ceiling, a water and sprouts test not validated for
detecting Salmonella, and an amphibian/reptile housed in the reception
area adjoining the production room.
The FDA frequently reminds consumers that sprouts are a known source
of foodborne illness. Since 1996 there have been at least 30 reported
outbreaks, mostly of Salmonella and E. coli, associated with different
types of raw and lightly cooked sprouts. In many of the outbreaks, according
to the FDA, the sprout seeds have been the source of the harmful bacteria.
The FDA advises children, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with
weakened immune systems to avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind (including
alfalfa, clover, radish and mung bean sprouts). To reduce the chance
of foodborne illness, cook sprouts thoroughly and request that raw sprouts
not be added to food such as sandwiches.
confirmed in Asheville VA patients
Source : http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20110217/NEWS/302170028/Norovirus-confirmed-VA?odyssey=nav|head
By staff reports (Feb, 2011)
OTEEN - Three patients at
the Charles George VA Medical Center tested positive for norovirus.
Samples from five patients at the edical center's community living center
were sent to the state laboratory in Raleigh after patients came down
with a sudden onset of vomiting and diarrhea over the weekend. Three
samples tested positive for the virus, which is often found on cruise
The VA placed symptomatic patients in isolation and the common areas
of the community living center are temporarily closed. Employees switched
hand hygiene practices from alcohol-based foam to frequent hand washing
with soap and water.
Caregivers and employees are also wearing appropriate protective equipment.
The VA is also prohibiting visitation to the community living center.
Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes diarrhea, vomiting
and stomach pain. It can spread rapidly, especially in closed environments
like nursing homes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
allow GMO corn for fuels, not food
Source : http://www.examiner.com/finance-examiner-in-national/usda-to-allow-gmo-corn-for-fuels-not-food
By Kenneth Schortgen Jr (16, Feb, 2011)
The USDA announced recently
that deregulation of Genetically Modified (GMO) corn can go forward
to help in the processing of ethanol. The agency specified that the
allowing of the GMO production would be dedicated towards fuel, not
food, as Americans still have hesitantcy over eating GMO products.
In an article today from Natural News on this new ruling, the USDA seems
to be more in the corner of alternative fuels than it does for the diets
of Americans as corn prices skyrocket on the commodties market.
For starters, in a world
where food prices are rapidly rising, where crops are failing due to
radical weather events, and where food stockpiles are at their lowest
levels in many decades, the idea of converting food to fuel is utterly
ludicrous. Making matters even worse, there's the simple fact that the
ethanol advocates simply refuse to admit: Growing corn for fuel consumes
more fuel than it produces!
The whole corn-for-ethanol debacle is simply another government-run
agricultural cluster shuck involving the wasting of billions of taxpayer
dollars which disappear into the black hole of subsidies handed out
to corn growers. The whole thing smacks of economic insanity combined
with an almost alien view of the natural world. To look upon an acre
of corn and think that it's supposed to be burned in combustion engines
rather than consumed as nutrition represents a whole new level of mental
illness -- an illness which has infected the minds of regulators and
It is always fascinating,
and yet concerning at the same time, that the government would try to
continue programs that are detrimental to the necessities of the American
people, especially during times of economic hardship, and reduction
in world food harvests.
The more corn that is planted for use as ethanol, and is less acreage
to be used to feed people, and keep food prices down. The USDA may have
made the right step in designating GMO corn for fuel use only, but they
have not addressed the real concern over whether there will be enough
food available at affordable prices to feed the nation.