- Part 2 - Existing Regulations and Legal Requirements
found on 50 percent of shopping carts
Source : http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41838546/ns/health-kids_and_parenting/
By Linda Carroll (1, Mar, 2011)
Every day, parents blithely
drop their toddlers into the baskets of shopping carts, never giving
a moment's thought to who might have had their hands on the handle last.
Preliminary results from a new study show that may be a mistake.
Researchers from the University of Arizona swabbed shopping cart handles
in four states looking for bacterial contamination. Of the 85 carts
examined, 72 percent turned out to have a marker for fecal bacteria.
The researchers took a closer look at the samples from 36 carts and
discovered Escherichia coli, more commonly known as E. coli, on 50 percent
of them - along with a host of other types of bacteria.
"That's more than you find in a supermarket's restroom," said
Charles Gerba, the lead researcher on the study and a professor of microbiology
at the University of Arizona. "That's because they use disinfecting
cleaners in the restrooms. Nobody routinely cleans and disinfects shopping
The study's results may explain earlier research that found that kids
who rode in shopping carts were more likely than others to develop infections
caused by bacteria such as salmonella and campylobacter, Gerba said.
Shopping cart handles aren't the only thing you need to worry about
when you go to the local supermarket, Gerba added. In other research,
he's found that reusable shopping bags that aren't regularly washed
turn into bacterial swamps. "It's like wearing the same underwear
every day," Gerba said.
The best way to keep kids safe, Gerba said, is to swipe the shopping
cart handle with a disinfecting wipe before you pop your kid into the
That's exactly the option some supermarkets were offering even before
the study was done.
"We saw that this was something our customers were concerned about,"
said Libba Letton, a spokesperson for Whole Foods Market stores. "So
we make disposable wipes available for customers coming into the store
with shopping carts."
Letton said the company doesn't routinely wash down carts themselves
unless something has been obviously spilled on them.
Risk to kids?
One thing Gerba couldn't say was how likely it was that a child would
get sick from touching - or even sucking on - a contaminated handle.
As far as Dr. Neil Fishman is concerned, that risk isn't very big. "I'd
be worried if there was any evidence of any disease outbreaks related
to shopping cart use," said Fishman, an infectious disease expert
and director of health care epidemiology and infection prevention at
the University of Pennsylvania Health System. "There isn't - and
we've been using them for a long time."
While there may, indeed, be bacteria on shopping cart handles, they
can also be found on doorknobs, countertops and a host of other items
we touch every day, Fishman said. "My guess is that there are more
bacteria on a car seat than on a shopping cart," he added.
Ultimately, your only defense against germs is to keep your hands -
and your kids' hands - squeaky clean, Fishman said.
"While you can't sterilize your environment, you can limit exposure
by practicing good hand hygiene," he added. "For most cases,
alcohol hand rubs are the best for every day use."
fears halt sale of breast milk ice cream
Source : http://www.bighospitality.co.uk/Business/Food-safety-fears-halt-sale-of-breast-milk-ice-cream
By Becky Paskin (01, Mar, 2011)
The IceCreamists in Covent
Garden has removed its Baby Gaga breast milk ice cream from sale over
fears the product could transmit viruses.
Breast milk ice cream could potentially harbour illness-causing viruses
After receiving several complaints from members of the public, Westminster
City Council launched an investigation into whether the ice cream, made
from donated breast milk, is safe for human consumption.
A sample of the ice cream is being tested by the Health Protection Agency
for a number of viruses, including hepatitis, which can be transmitted
through the ingestion of the product.
Richard Block, operations manager for food health and safety at Westminster
City Council, said the investigation was being made with the full cooperation
of the IceCreamists.
"We haven't banned the IcCreamists from selling the breast milk
ice cream; they've voluntarily agreed not to sell it while we carry
out some tests at a laboratory to see if the ice cream is free from
any viruses that would cause people illness if they were to consume
"With cow's milk there are various testing regimes right down the
food chain back to the herd themselves. The same principle applies here
to ensure that something consumed by humans, is in fact safe to be consumed."
The IceCreamists began selling Baby Gaga ice cream on Thursday, with
milk donated from just 15 mothers, and had sold out of the product by
Friday lunchtime. Owner Matt O'Connor said that over 200 mothers had
now stepped forward to donate breast milk for the ice cream.
He told BigHospitality that the breast milk had been screened to hospital
standards by a private clinic prior to sale, and that the business was
fully compliant with all food health and safety regulations.
"Westminster has told us the Baby Gaga ice cream is not to be sold
as it's potentially dangerous; they haven't checked with us whether
it's been screened," he said.
"We started Baby Gaga because we wanted people to question where
our milk comes from. We only posed a question.
"If we're going to live in a society that's absurd and insane enough
to think it's perfectly acceptable to drink alcohol that can kill you,
or smoke yourself to death or take other drugs like amyl nitrate, which
is perfectly legal to buy in Westminster, yet breast milk is seen as
a danger to children, I say empty your babies' bottles, fill them with
Jack Daniels and give them to your kids."
Meanwhile, the Food Standards Agency has also launched an investigation
into whether the sale of a human by-product is legal at all.
A statement issued by the FSA said: "Food businesses are legally
obliged to ensure the food they serve is safe to consume. We understand
that Westminster Council are investigating the sale of this ice cream
product and we are liaising with their environmental health team and
the Health Protection Agency over whether the product breaches food
Prompts Recall of Chicken and Pork Products
Source : http://www.thirdage.com/news/listeria-prompts-recall-chicken-and-pork-products_3-3-2011
By Nina Sen (3, Mar, 2011)
Listeria contamination prompted
a recall of around 64,000 pounds of chicken and pork products containing
The potential Listeria monocytogenes pathogen contamination was discovered
in a routine sampling of Taylor Farms Pacific products by the Washington
Department of Agriculture.
Taylor Farms Pacific announced a voluntary recall of products that were
distributed in California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.
Many of these products were sold at Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, and Pak
N' Save stores.
The products have sell by dates between February 7 and March 7. They
are mainly pre-made food items such as "Raley's" rice bowls
and pasta dishes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says each item
bears the establishment number "P-34013" or "EST. 34013"
inside the department's mark of inspection.
The agency says it has not received reports of anyone sickened as a
result of the contamination.
Click to Enlarge.Consumption of food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes
can cause Listeriosis, a potentially fatal foodborne illness.
outbreak at Merle's in Evanston, Illinois
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/food-poisoning-outbreak-at-merles-in-evanston-illinois/
By Drew Falkenstein (25, Feb, 2011)
Clostridium perfringens has
caused an outbreak of food poisoning illnesses at Merle's BBQ in Evanston,
Illinois, sickening more than 30 people. Actually, the implicated meal
was catered by Merle's for the parent/teacher conferences at Haven Middle
School on Feb. 16. "The outcome of the investigation revealed unsafe
food handling and temperature storage at both Merle's BBQ Restaurant
and Haven Middle School and it is therefore unlikely that the exact
cause of the outbreak will be determined," said Evanston Health
Director Evonda Thomas.
What is Clostridium perfringens?
Clostridium perfringens a bacterium that is widely distributed in the
environment. Most outbreaks of this "bug"are associated with
undercooked meats prepared for large groups of people. Meat products
such as stews, casseroles, and gravy are the most common sources of
illness from Clostridium perfringens. Most outbreaks come from food
whose temperature is poorly controlled. If food is kept between 70 and
140 F, it is likely to grow Clostridium perfringens bacteria.
What is the illness caused by Clostridium perfringens typically like?
People generally experience symptoms of Clostridium perfringens infection
6 to 24 hours after consuming the bacteria or toxins. Clostridium perfringens
toxins cause abdominal pain and stomach cramps, followed by diarrhea.
Nausea is also a common symptom. Fever and vomiting are not normally
symptoms of poisoning by Clostridium perfringens toxins.
necessary to reduce foodborne illness: Study
Source : http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/On-your-radar/Food-safety/Rapid-tracing-necessary-to-reduce-foodborne-illness-Study
By Caroline Scott-Thomas (28, Feb, 2011)
Speed is essential for pinpointing
the source of food contamination and saving lives, according to a new
study examining the 2008 salmonella outbreak caused by Mexican peppers,
but first linked to US tomatoes.
Epidemiologists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC), writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, said that better
traceability, better understanding of how foods become contaminated
on farms, and continued exploration of alternative hypotheses during
an outbreak are necessary to reduce the impact of such occurrences in
The 2008 Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak linked to jalape?o and Serrano
peppers caused about 1,500 illnesses nationwide, and two deaths, according
to CDC figures.
"Improvements in product-tracing systems and the ability of the
systems to work together are needed for more rapid tracing of implicated
products through the supply chain in order to maximize public health
protection and minimize the economic burden to industry," the authors
Due to early implication of raw tomatoes in the outbreak, the Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) initially advised consumers not to eat tomatoes,
with a devastating effect on the tomato industry. About a month after
the erroneous warning about tomatoes was issued, the investigation led
to the discovery of salmonella in Mexican peppers, but by that stage
the tomato industry had lost an estimated $100m.
"This outbreak investigation highlights the recurring challenges
of epidemiologic identification of ingredients in foods that are commonly
consumed, rapid identification and investigation of local clusters,
the need to continue exploring hypotheses during an ongoing outbreak,
and produce tracing in the supply chain," the authors wrote.
However, an accompanying editorial in the same issue noted that increasing
the speed at which investigators can discover the source of a foodborne
illness outbreak requires additional resources, and these cost money.
It said that although the recently passed Food Safety Modernization
Act provides for "long overdue modernization" of the FDA's
authorities, without the required additional resources, "requiring
the FDA to carry out the law's required activities will be like trying
to get blood out of a rock".
"Although all these new forms of authority will substantially enhance
the FDA's ability to prevent foodborne disease and respond more effectively
when an outbreak occurs, the new law has a major shortcoming: dollars,"
the editorial said. "There was no appropriation approved by the
Congress for the act or authorization in the bill for the FDA to assess
fees on the companies that it inspects."
The CDC estimates that 48m Americans become ill as a result of foodborne
pathogens each year, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die.
Source: New England Journal of Medicine
Published online ahead of print. 10.1056/nejmoa1005741
"2008 Outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul Infections Associated with
Authors: Casey Barton Behravesh, Rajal K. Mody, Jessica Jungk, Linda
Gaul, John T. Redd, Sanny Chen, Shaun Cosgrove, et al. for the Salmonella
Saintpaul Outbreak Investigation Team.
USDA Offers Food
Safety Tips for Flood Season?
Source : http://www.isurfmuhlenberg.com/news/local-news/8209-usda-offers-food-safety-tips-for-flood-season.html
By Jesse Graham (26, Feb, 2011)
MUHLENBERG COUNTY, KY - The
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing recommendations
for residents in the South Central United States affected by recent
flooding, strong winds, and tornadoes to minimize the potential for
foodborne illnesses due to power outages and other problems often associated
with severe weather.
"Particularly during times of emergency, food safety can be a critical
public health risk," said FSIS Administrator Al Almanza. "In
the flooded areas, the American public should be aware that information
is readily available to help them protect their food supply."
Steps to follow to prepare for a possible weather emergency:
* Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer. An
appliance thermometer will indicate the temperature inside the refrigerator
and freezer in case of a power outage and help determine the safety
of the food.
* Make sure the freezer is at 0¡ÆF or below and the refrigerator is at
40¡ÆF or below.
* Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer,
refrigerator or coolers after the power is out.
* Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and
poultry that you may not need immediately - this helps keep them at
a safe temperature longer.
* Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased.
* Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will
be out for more than 4 hours. Purchase or make ice and store in the
freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Freeze gel packs
ahead of time for use in coolers.
* Group food together in the freezer - this helps the food stay cold
* Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated
water in case of flooding.
Steps to follow after the weather emergency:
* Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible
to maintain the cold temperature.
* The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it
is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately
48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) and the door remains closed.
* Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish,
soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items after 4 hours without
* Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is
at 40¡ÆF or below when checked with a food thermometer.
* Never taste a food to determine its safety!
* Obtain dry or block ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold
as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of
time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer
for 2 days.
* If the power has been out for several days, check the temperature
of the freezer with an appliance thermometer. If the appliance thermometer
reads 40¡ÆF or below, the food is safe to refreeze.
* If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package
of food to determine its safety. If the food still contains ice crystals,
the food is safe.
* Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is
any chance that it has come into contact with flood water. Discard wooden
cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers.
* Thoroughly wash all metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils that came
in contact with flood water with hot soapy water and sanitize by boiling
them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution
of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking
* Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and retort
pouches (for example, flexible, shelf-stable juice or seafood pouches)
can be saved. Follow the Steps to Salvage All-Metal Cans and Retort
Pouches in the publication "Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency"
* Use bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters. If bottled
water is not available, tap water can be boiled for safety. For more
information on drinking water safely during weather emergencies, access
the FSIS publication "Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency"
treatment may remove peanut allergens, suggests study
Source : http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/On-your-radar/Food-safety/Enzyme-treatment-may-remove-peanut-allergens-suggests-study
By Nathan Gray (02, Mar, 2011)
An enzymatic treatment process
may effectively reduce allergens in roasted peanuts by up to 100 per
cent, according to new research.
Researchers believe enzyme treatment may reduce or remove levels of
allergens in peanuts.
The study, published in Food Chemistry investigated the use of enzymatic
treatments to reduce the levels of allergens in peanut kernels, using
two major peanut allergens (Ara h 1 and Ara h 2) as indicators of effectiveness.
The researchers found the treatment of roasted peanut kernels with alpha-chymotrypsin
or trypsin enzymes for 1 to 3 hours significantly increased the solubility
of peanut protein, whilst reducing Ara h 1 and Ara h 2 in kernel extracts
by 100 per cent and 98 per cent respectively.
"Results from this study indicate the potential for producing peanuts
with reduced allergenicity using post-harvest processing approaches
such as food grade enzymatic treatment," said the authors, led
by senior author Dr Soheila Maleki from the Agricultural Research Service
at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Consumption of peanuts or peanut containing food products can cause
severe and even fatal allergenic reactions.
"While avoidance is the best way to guard against manifestation
of allergy, the ubiquitous use of peanuts and peanut products by the
food industry makes it very hard for allergic individuals to avoid accidental
ingestion," said the researchers.
"Therefore, it would be useful to reduce the level of allergens
in peanuts that are mixed with other food ingredients," they added.
Enzymatic processing is an approach that has worked to reduce or eliminate
allergenicity in certain foods and ingredients, said Maleki and colleagues.
They noted examples of enzyme treatment used to remove allergens include
production of hypoallergenic rice by a two-stage enzymatic proteolysis
process and the development of hypoallergenic whey protein hydrolysate.
An enzymatic treatment process was reported to effectively reduce Ara
h 1 and Ara h 2 in roasted peanut kernels by up to 100 per cent under
Upon treatment with alpha-chymotrypsin solution, protein solubility
increased, whilst detectable/extractable levels of Ara h 1 and Ara h
2 decreased in both blanched and non-blanched peanuts, said Maleki and
They noted that the blanching of kernels enhanced the effectiveness
of enzyme treatment in roasted peanuts.
Chymotrypsin treatment of blanched, roasted peanuts resulted in reduction
of detectable soluble allergens by as much as 100 per cent.
"In fact, Ara h 1 and Ara h 2 levels in blanched peanut kernels
were non-detectable ¡¦ at enzyme concentration of 0.1-0.15 per cent,"
said the authors.
Trypsin treatment of roasted peanuts also significantly reduced Ara
h 1 and Ara h 2 while increasing the soluble proteins in both blanched
and non-blanched soluble extracts, they added.
"The optimum enzyme treatment conditions for roasted peanut kernels
consists of 5 minutes of blanching prior to incubation of peanut kernels
in 0.12 per cent enzyme for 3 hours ¡¦ Under these conditions, Ara h
1 and Ara h 2 were not detectable in soluble peanut protein extracts,"
"The results confirm that our enzyme treatment process degrades
the allergens into smaller peptides which may or may not retain their
IgE binding and other allergenic properties in the soluble fractions
of treated whole roasted peanuts," said the researchers.
However, they added that because the results presented in the current
study are from in vitro tests only, the allergenic potential of the
enzyme treated extracts must be further tested in vivo to confirm any
reduction in allergenicity.
FoodNavigator is hosting a conference on Allergen-free Foods on 31 March
2011 in London, where issues surrounding allergen reduction, labelling,
regulations and free-from foods will be discussed. For more information,
More Than 30
Sick After Illinois School Event
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/02/more-than-30-ill-after-school-event/
By News Desk (26, Feb, 2011)
More than 30 people were
sickened by Clostridium perfringens after eating food at a parent/teacher
conference event Feb. 16 at Haven Middle School in Evanston, Illinois.
The implicated food had been catered by Merle's BBQ, an Evanston restaurant.
Local health authorities say their investigation revealed unsafe food
handling and temperature storage at both the restaurant and school.
According to a news release from the City of Evanston, positive laboratory
tests from the food samples confirmed the bacteria came from the barbeque
pulled chicken that was prepared and cooked at Merle's BBQ Restaurant
and delivered to Haven Middle School where it was then served "buffet
style" between the hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. No temperatures were
taken at the time of delivery and the food was not kept heated or refrigerated
during the time it was being served.
Clostridium perfringens is a bacterium that is widely distributed in
the environment. Most outbreaks are associated with undercooked meats
prepared for large groups of people. Meat products such as stews, casseroles,
and gravy are the most common sources of illness from Clostridium perfringens.
Most outbreaks come from poorly controlled food temperature. If food
is kept between 70 and 140 degrees F, it is likely to grow Clostridium
People generally experience symptoms of Clostridium perfringens infection
6 to 24 hours after consuming the bacteria or toxins, which cause abdominal
pain and stomach cramps, followed by diarrhea. Nausea is also a common
symptom. Fever and vomiting are not normally symptoms of poisoning by
Clostridium perfringens toxins.