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World-wide E. coli O104:H4 Numbers - As many as 44 dead, 3,798 sickened
with 865 with HUS
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/new-world-wide-e-coli-o104h4-numbers---as-many-as-44-dead-3798-sickened-with-865-with-hus/
By_ Bill Marler ( 23, June , 2011)
As of a few moments ago,
the European Union reports a total of 862 HUS cases, including 30 deaths,
and 2,930 non-HUS cases, including 13 deaths (see table for distribution
per country) linked to E. coli O104:H4 contaminated organic bean sprouts.
Germany reports eight additional HUS cases and two new HUS deaths. It
also reports 79 additional non-HUS STEC cases and one new non-HUS death.
Sweden reports three additional non-HUS STEC cases that visited Germany
mid-May. The latest known date of onset of diarrhea for cases is June
16 (see partial Epi-curve from New England Journal of Medicine article)
. So far, there have been five confirmed cases (Three with HUS) in the
United States connected to the outbreak. Those cases are in Michigan,
Massachusetts, Wisconsin and North Carolina. There is also a possible
Arizona death linked to the outbreak.
We have been retained by families impacted by this outbreak.
OMB on Non-O157 E. coli
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/06/rep-delauro-presses-omb-on-non-o157-e-coli/
By_ Helena Bottemiller (23, Jun , 2011)
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro
(D-CT) is asking the White House Office of Management and Budget to
move on a proposal to allow USDA to regulate additional strains of E.
coli, beyond the most well-known E. coli O157:H7.
DeLauro sent a formal letter Wednesday to the director of OMB, Jacob
Lew, calling for action on the Food Safety and Inspection Service proposal
to regulate six more dangerous strains of E.coli. The FSIS proposal
under review at OMB has not been made public, but food safety experts
expect that the proposal could declare the "Big Six" adulterants
or require testing or other interventions.
"This proposed rule has the potential to protect the health of
American consumers from preventable and costly foodborne disease because
of certain E. coli serotypes," writes DeLauro, noting that since
USDA declared E. coli O157:H7 a pathogen in 1994, it has become clear
that there are additional strains of disease-causing E. coli that are
hazardous to public health. The CDC estimates that the six Shiga toxin-producing
E. coli (STECs) under consideration cause approximately 113,000 illnesses
and 300 hospitalizations annually in the United States.
DeLauro points to "devastating health consequences" associated
Shiga toxin-producing E. coli: Severe abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea,
kidney failure, and blindness, as well as hemolytic uremic syndrome
(HUS), which is recognized as the leading cause of acute kidney failure
in young children, including infants.
"I am disturbed by the reports that suggest OMB has held up action
on this proposal and even more concerned about reports that the Agency
may be working to indefinitely delay consideration or fundamentally
change the proposal at the urging of those who argue that the action
is a threat to financial interests," continues DeLauro in the letter.
"As the public health agency of the USDA, FSIS should not be deterred
from its work to protect the public health from known risks in the meat
and poultry supply."
On a call with reporters last week, DeLauro said she was personally
pressuring OMB to move forward on the proposal. "It's a rule that
quite frankly is sitting at OMB," said DeLauro, who accused the
meat industry of fighting the rule.
"We know what's happened in Germany ... it's a different strain,"
she added, when asked about the catastrophic Germany E. coli O104:H4
outbreak "We need to be aggressively looking at the other strains."
The foodborne illness crisis in Germany, which is now the most deadly
on record, comes on the heels of an E. coli O111 outbreak last month
in Japan. That outbreak -- which sickened 90 people, left 23 with hemolytic
uremic syndrome, and killed four -- was tied to a raw beef dish called
yukhoe, similar to tartare, popular at barbecue restaurants.
"The tragedies in Germany and Japan should serve as a wakeup call
to governments and businesses worldwide. The U.S. is seeing more and
more E. coli outbreaks from non-O157 strains," said Bill Marler,
managing partner at Marler Clark (publisher of Food Safety News) in
a recent statement. Marler's firm originally petitioned FSIS to regulate
STECs in October 2009.
In Northeast Tennessee, federal and state public health officials are
investigating outbreaks involving E. coli O157:H7, E. coli O103, and
E. coli O169.
Test Improves Food Safety
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2011/06/new-salmonella-test-improves-food-safety.aspx
(22, Jun, 2011)
bioM?rieux unveiled VIDAS¢ç
UP Salmonella (SPT), a new food-safety testing technology for targeted
capture and detection of Salmonella in food and environmental samples
that uses a simple, one-step sample preparation delivers results in
as little as 19 hours as compared to reference methods that require
up to three days.
The new VIDAS SPT assay utilizes recombinant bacteriophage (phage) protein
technology that can detect low levels of contamination by Salmonella
and is one of the most rapid and easy-to-use diagnostic tools available
for the screening of Salmonella in environmental samples, standard and
large-size food samples. The new solution complements the company's
VIDAS E. coli O157 (including H7) phage technology for the detection
of Escherichia coli O157:H7.
"The issue of food safety is a significant public health concern
globally, and food producers and manufacturers are in need of more advanced,
comprehensive and science-based approaches to ensuring the safety of
their products," said Jean-Marc Durano, corporate vice president,
Industrial Microbiology, bioM?rieux. "VIDAS SPT, the latest addition
to the VIDAS UP range, provides optimum performance to help simplify
agri-food laboratories' workflow and deliver rapid information to maximize
the overall efficiency of food production."
Dr. Lawrence Goodridge, associate professor of food microbiology, Colorado
State University, said food pathogen detection methods utilizing bacteriophage
technology can provide food producers with the ability to detect bacterial
pathogens present in their products with unprecedented speed and reliability,
which is critical to reducing the magnitude and severity of foodborne
illness caused by the consumption of foods contaminated with dangerous
of nano toxicity data is 'not great', says expert
Source : http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/On-your-radar/Food-safety/Quality-of-nano-toxicity-data-is-not-great-says-expert
By Elaine Watson (22, Jun, 2011)
The limited nature of many
toxicity studies into engineered nanoparticles used in the food and
dietary supplements industry makes it very difficult to draw firm conclusions
about their safety, according to one expert in the field.
Speaking at the IFT show
last week, Dr Bernadene Magnuson, senior scientific and regulatory consultant
at Cantox Health Sciences International, said an analysis of 30 studies
toxicity studies into engineered nanoparticles highlighted gaps in the
research and methodological problems.
For example, most in vivo tests were high, single-dose, acute studies,
which were of "limited relevance to food exposure", which
should examine the impact of repeated low doses over a long period of
time, she argued.
"There are a few short-term repeated dose studies, but no long-term,
chronic studies. In general, the reliability of the data from nanomaterial
toxicology studies is not great.
"We need to improve characterization and the quality of the studies,"
added Magnuson, a toxicologist best known for her work on assessing
the safety of aspartame.
Testing methodologies must be validated
Meanwhile, many in vitro test results were equally unreliable because
the nanomaterials in question could interfere with optical or other
detector measurements and with colorimetric and fluorometric dyes used
in cell cytotoxicity tests, she pointed out. "They can also interfere
with assays for measurement of reactive oxygen species."
Some nanomaterials could also adsorb essential growth factors and nutrients
from the growth media, "leading to non-specific indirect growth
inhibition and apparent cytotoxicity", she added.
"You have to ask: Did the nanomaterial interfere with the assay
itself? These tests must be validated."
What was missing was reliable data on the detection and quantification
of nanomaterials in tissues, especially those with multiple components
that may not be stable in vivo, she said.
More research looking at the incorporation of nanomaterials in food
matrices was also needed to find out whether they adhered to proteins
or other food components in ways that could not be predicted from studying
them in isolation, she said.
"We need studies on the effect of food matrices on the bioavailability
Several factors needed to be taken into consideration when considering
whether a nanomaterial potentially raised any safety issues, she said,
notably persistence/bio-accumulation in the body, anti-microbial activity;
level of reactivity, complex morphology; and interaction with biomolecules
such as proteins.
Therefore, the recent guidance document from the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA), which said regulators would consider a range of factors as well
as size in assessing nanomaterials, was welcome, she said.
"It's really useful to have something in writing."
FDA on nano labeling and legislation
Whether labels were advisable to alert consumers to products made using
nanotechnology was a more difficult question, she said. "Then the
scope of any legal definition would become very important. If you were
just looking at size, you'd have to label milk, which would be very
confusing to the consumer."
When asked by FoodNavigator-USA.com whether a legal definition of nanomaterials
was expected soon, or whether the FDA believed a nano labeling regime
was required, a spokesman said it was too early to say.
He added: "At this time, the agency is seeking public comment on
the points to consider presented in the draft guidance. We will consider
all public comments in determining any follow-up actions on this draft
guidance, including the agency's consideration of any regulatory definitions
in the future."
On labeling: "FDA will continue to evaluate the need for, and appropriateness
of, any labeling statements related to nanotechnology on a case-by-case
basis, in accordance with its existing labeling regulations and policies."
As to whether the current regulatory regime addressed concerns about
the safety of nanoparticles, he said: "FDA believes that its existing
statutory authorities are adequate to regulate the use of nanotechnology
in FDA-regulated products."
What's your favourite food? See how they change from
country to country
Pasta has been ranked as the most popular food in a report by Oxfam
into global food trends and concerns
Source : http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jun/22/global-top-foods-list-by-country
By_ Ami Sedghi (22, June, 2011)
Pasta, it seems, is the dish
of the day according to a report published by Oxfam examining favourite
foods across the world.
As part of their Grow campaign Oxfam undertook global research and polled
over 8,000 participants across 17 countries from a variety of social
and economical backgrounds to summarise attitudes towards foods.
Although 'Other' was by far the most common response to being asked
for a favourite food, pasta ranked top. Pasta was closely followed by
rice, pizza, chicken and meat. Junk food also made an appearance on
the list with KFC coming in as a more popular answer than cod, fajitas
and gnocchi. The poll includes answers such as 'Indian' and 'Chinese'
as no boundaries were set for answering to allow for cultural differences,
according to Oxfam.
The breakdown of most common answers by country show the individual
differences between countries, those from the UK ranked steak as their
favourite food whereas the US placed pizza as their number one favourite.
In comparison, Pakistani nationals favoured vegetables and Australia
went for chocolate above other favourites pasta and steak.
Developing nations were the most likely to report not having access
to enough food each day, especially high in Tanzinia and Kenya. The
report also showed that oil and transport costs were highly attributed
to affecting food supply - 41% of South Africans surveyed put this the
highest above actions of big companies and consumer demand.
High food prices seemed also to be a big pressure globally, with 15
of the 17 countries, reporting this as their highest concern in choosing
food. The Philippines and India however are more likely to choose food
by the health impact, as 61% and 57% respectively, ranked this as their
highest concern when choosing food for themselves and their family.
The table for this reports total mentions rather than one answer.
In contrast, respondents in Russia chose the safety of food as their
main concern. This interactive by Paddy Allen shows top favourite foods
by country. Although it is difficult to gage global food trends with
a small sample, the report does highlight some issues apparent across
the world concerning the access and attitudes to foods.
The tables below show some of the responses of the report including
the total favourite food list of the all countries and also some of
the responses to questions asked by Oxfam concerning current food issues.
The spreadsheet also includes responses to further questions used in
soft drinks industry braces itself for DEHP fallout
Source : http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Taiwanese-soft-drinks-industry-braces-itself-for-DEHP-fallout
By_ Guy Montague-Jones (21,Jun,2011)
Sales of soft drinks in Taiwan
could fall 20 per cent in 2011 after high numbers of products became
contaminated with the plastics additive DEHP.
Big and small brands alike were hit by the contamination scandal as
it was found that two major local food additive suppliers had added
DEHP to a widely used clouding agent. DHEP is a potential carcinogen
- prolonged exposure to which has been linked to fertility problems.
The immediate fallout has been significant. Taiwan has recalled nearly
half a million bottles of sports drinks and fruit juices, and China
has banned 948 products imported from the country. Other countries in
the Asia-Pacific region have also introduced bans.
The longer term commercial impact of the DEHP scandal in Taiwan is likely
to become clearer in the coming months but initial estimates suggest
it could be major.
"Industry sources estimate the island's retail sales of soft drinks
could fall by 20 per cent in 2011 compared to 2010, equating to a net
loss of $540m," said Euromonitor analyst Hope Lee.
And because Taiwan busily trades with its neighbours, other countries
in the region could also be hit.
Lee told this publication: "It may affect soft drinks sales in
China, Macau, Hong Kong - the Greater China region¡¦ The fact that the
tainted products are from established brands/manufacturers made the
Food safety reform?
The scale of the DEHP crisis has raised questions about food safety
in Taiwan and led to various suggestions for reform.
Lee said legislators have called for criminal punishment for those knowingly
adding health-threatening substances to food. Other suggestions include
compulsory reporting of DEHP and better mechanisms for food safety management.
But questions hang over the ability and willingness of the Taiwanese
government to implement reforms.
Lee said: "Do they have enough resources to test new chemicals
arising and help set up a better food safety mechanism given that the
market is fragmented? Will manufacturers stick to the rules strictly
when more paperwork/bureaucracy or costs are expected to grow given
that lots of foods and beverages are seasonal?"
meat could slice emissions, say scientists
Lab-grown meat would generate a tiny fraction of emissions associated
with conventional livestock production
Source : http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jun/20/artificial-meat-emissions
By _Fiona Harvey ( 20, June, 2011)
Meat grown artificially in
labs could be a greener alternative for consumers who cannot bear to
go vegetarian but want to cut the environmental impact of their food,
according to new research.
The study found that growing meat in the lab rather than slaughtering
animals would generate only a tiny fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions
associated with conventional livestock production.
The researchers believe their work suggests artificial meat could help
feed the growing world population while reducing the impact on the environment.
According to the analysis by scientists from Oxford University and Amsterdam
University, lab-grown tissue would reduce greenhouse gases by up to
96% in comparison to raising animals. The process would require between
7% and 45% less energy than the same volume of conventionally produced
meat such as pork, beef, or lamb, and could be engineered to use only
1% of the land and 4% of the water associated with conventional meat.
"The environmental impacts of cultured meat could be substantially
lower than those of meat produced in the conventional way," said
Hanna Tuomisto, the researcher at Oxford University who led the study.
"We are not saying that we could, or would necessarily want to,
replace conventional meat with its cultured counterpart right now.
"However, our research shows that cultured meat could be part of
the solution to feeding the world's growing population and at the same
time cutting emissions and saving both energy and water. Simply put,
cultured meat is potentially a much more efficient and environmentally
friendly way of putting meat on the table."
Aside from its predicted environmental benefits, lab-cultured meat should
also provide cheap nutrition, and would help improve animal welfare
as well as potentially taking huge pressure off farmland around the
Animal protein is an increasing part of diets, as millions of people
in rapidly emerging economies such as China and India are drawn out
of poverty and become able to afford more meat in their diets. The pressure
this creates has been an important factor in rapidly rising grain prices,
deforestation in the Amazon, increasing water scarcity and rising pressure
to find new farmland, leading to "land grabs" where countries
such as China buy up farmland in poorer nations.
Tuomisto predicts that if more resources are put into the research,
the first commercially lab-grown meat could be available within five
years. The first samples are likely to be like mincemeat in texture,
while producing steaks could take at least five years longer.
"We can demonstrate that it is possible, but it is expensive. Getting
to [commercial production] depends on more money being put into this
research," she said.
The anti-meat organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
is already funding research into the technique.
The Oxford-led research, to be published in Environmental Science &
Technology, was funded by New Harvest, a non-profit research organisation
working to develop alternatives to conventionally produced meat. An
earlier version of the study was presented at a conference last year.
The study showed some of the complex implications of tissue engineering.
For instance, it would take more energy to produce lab-grown chicken
than it does for poultry, but would only use a fraction of the land
area and water needed to rear chickens. But the research did not take
into account other effects such as transport and refrigeration.
The research team based their calculations on a process using the bacterium
Cyanobacteria hydrolysate as a nutrient and energy source for growing
3,408 infected with E.coli
Source : http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43438527/ns/health/
By_ Kirsten Grieshaber (17, Jun, 2011)
New sicknesses are still
being reported in the European E. coli outbreak that has killed 39,
but Germany's national disease control center said Friday indications
are that the crisis is tapering off.
The number of reported infections in Germany, the epicenter of the outbreak,
is now up to 3,408, including 798 people who have developed a serious
complication that can lead to kidney failure - about 100 more overall
cases than the day before - the Robert Koch Institute said.
Still, Robert Koch spokeswoman Susanne Glasmacher said all evidence
is that the outbreak remains on the decline.
"It sometimes takes days until we get reports about infected persons,"
Glasmacher said. "In general we can say that the number of infected
persons is continuing to go down."
Thirty-eight people have died in Germany and one in Sweden in the epidemic,
which was traced last week to sprouts from a farm in northern Germany.
According to the World Health Organization more than 100 people have
been infected in 13 other European countries, Canada and the U.S.
Germany's health minister has warned that although the outbreak is abating,
more deaths are possible.
On Friday, health officials in the Netherlands said a strain of E. coli
found on Dutch beet sprouts last week has not been seen before in the
country and that researchers sent samples for further analysis to labs
in Italy and Denmark.
Nobody appears to have been sickened by the strain, the Dutch Food Safety
Dutch Health Minister Edith Schippers said the fresh round of tests
will likely take weeks.
Lapses in FDA Imported Food Recalls
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/06/government-audit-finds-failures-in-fda-import-recalls/
By_ Helena Bottemiller ( 22, Jun, 2011)
Officials at the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration have made some serious missteps trying to keep
potentially hazardous imported food off the market, according to a new
The FDA did not always follow its own procedures to ensure foods were
effectively recalled, a new report by the Health and Human Services
Inspector General found. The document, released Tuesday, examined 17
import recalls from 2007 and 2008 and found multiple failures by FDA
and foreign food firms.
"FDA's guidance for developing and implementing food recalls was
not adequate to ensure the safety of the Nation's food supply because
it was not enforceable," reads the report, noting that before the
FDA Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law in January 2011,
FDA did not have mandatory recall authority. "In addition, FDA
did not always follow its own procedures for ensuring that the recall
process operated efficiently and effectively."
Of the 17 recalls scrutinized, 7 were for Salmonella, 5 were for Listeria
monocytogenes, 4 were for potential contamination with botulinum toxin,
and 1 was for unacceptable lead levels in beverage pitchers. The products
involved include cantaloupe, frozen mussel meat, fish, cheese, and sesame
The audit found that firms did not promptly initiate recalls. In two
examples, there was a lag time of 28 and 102 days between when FDA became
aware of contamination problems and a recall. Even more worrisome, in
13 of the 17 recalls, firms did not submit essential information about
the contaminated product.
In response to recalls, FDA did not conduct inspections or obtain complete
information on the contamination incidents in 14 of the 17 incidents.
In 13 of the 17 cases, FDA did not witness the disposal of the products
or obtain required documentation that the food items had been properly
Democratic lawmakers pointed to the report as reason to boost resources
for FDA. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) said the agency needed funding to improve
recall response.??"This report shows compellingly that FDA must
take far stronger and faster action to protect American consumers by
getting contaminated food imports off the market," said Harkin,
in a statement Tuesday. "Recalls must be started more rapidly and
FDA needs to follow up more carefully to make sure the recall actually
"Congress greatly strengthened FDA's hand to enforce food recalls
in the Food Safety Modernization Act, but regrettably FDA's ability
to carry out that law and the recommendations in this OIG report will
be badly impaired if FDA is starved of critical funding as the House's
agriculture appropriations legislation would do," added Harkin,
a key backer of the sweeping new food safety law, which for the first
time grants FDA mandatory recall authority, and asks the agency to improve
food import oversight.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) echoed similar concern about FDA funding,
citing the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Control
statistics on foodborne illness in America: 48 million illnesses, 128,000
hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths annually.
DeLauro said that while the new bill is "a great first step"
toward reforming the dilapidated food safety system -- deemed a high
risk area by the Government Accountability Office -- the latest report
"clearly shows that there is room for significant improvement in
the FDA's recall of unsafe food, specifically imported food."
"That is why I am so concerned with the drastic budget cuts included
in the House majority's budget for FY 2012," said DeLauro, the
former chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees
FDA's budget. The agriculture appropriations bill that passed the House
last week cuts $280 million from FDA, $87 million of which will impact
food safety programs at the agency.
"I believe that we need to invest in the FDA to protect the health
of consumers and the safety of our food products," said DeLauro,
in a statement. "But these cuts will tie the FDA's hands, restricting
their oversight and effectiveness, and asking them to do more with less--this
is about life and death. We must do better."
The report recommends that FDA consider the results of the review as
it moves to implement the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act and that
the agency simply stick to following its own procedures for monitoring
recalls. FDA agreed with the recommendations in the audit.
system tackles raw flour risks
Source : http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/On-your-radar/Food-safety/New-ConAgra-system-tackles-raw-flour-risks
By_ Caroline Scott-Thomas (21,Jun,2011)
ConAgra Mills has introduced
a new treatment and delivery system for flour intended to mitigate the
food safety risks associated with raw flour without affecting gluten
Speaking with FoodNavigator-USA at IFT in New Orleans last week, ConAgra
said that there is strong demand for safer flour for use in food products
that rely on the end consumer cooking them properly at home, such as
cookie dough or pot pies, which need to be cooked thoroughly before
consumption. However, although heat treatment of flour may kill pathogens,
it can also affect the performance of gluten and the appearance of baked
ConAgra's new SafeGuard system for flour includes a 'pasteurization-like'
all-natural heat treatment processing step to ensure it is safe to eat
- but also includes checks and strict processes at every stage of the
delivery chain, from milling, to post-treatment handling, to specially
sanitized tankers, all the way through to delivery at a food manufacturer's
facility, the company said.
Senior director of quality at ConAgra Foods Kent Juliot said: "One
of the things the food industry often chooses to ignore is that flour
is a raw agricultural product. But the majority of flour goes through
a baking kill step¡¦We asked, how do we help that part of the industry
where we are relying on the consumer to do the right thing, when often
President of ConAgra Mills Bill Stoufer added that with increasingly
complex supply chains, how a product is delivered throughout that chain
has become increasingly important to ensure food safety and prevent
"The cost comparison relative to a big problem is nothing,"
he said - adding that it is also not expensive compared to other safety
solutions - and testing for flour safety is a rising demand from major
food manufacturers as they seek to ensure the integrity of their brands.
"You are always better off leading with disruptive technology than
following with disruptive technology," Stoufer said.
Juliot added: "Transportation is a big part of it. We work directly
with customers to ensure delivery is a safe process too."
Listeria Top List of Foodborne Killers
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/06/salmonella-listeria-biggest-foodborne-killers/
By_ News Desk ( 20, Jun, 2011)
Salmonella and Listeria continue
to be the leading cause of death from foodborne illness in the United
States, according to a study published in the Journal of Infectious
The statistics come from an analysis of FoodNet data from 1996 to 2005.
FoodNet is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention foodborne illness
surveillance system in 10 states.
From 1996 to 2005, FoodNet recorded 215 Salmonella-caused fatalities
and 168 Listeria-caused deaths out of the 121,536 cases of lab-confirmed
bacterial infections transmitted through food, the authors said.
The highest mortality rates were among adults older than 65 for all
pathogens except Shigella, which most affected children under 5.
Listeria was the most lethal of the foodborne pathogens, with the highest
case fatality rate, followed by Vibrio, E. coli O157, Salmonella, Campylobacter
Herd Share, Raw Milk and Q Fever don't mix well
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/michigan-herd-share-raw-milk-and-q-fever-dont-mix-well/
By_ Bill Marler ( 23, June, 2011 )
This morning the Michigan
Department of Community Health announced that three people in Livingston
County Michigan have been diagnosed with of Q fever after drinking raw
milk from a dairy herd share program. All three, women in their 30s
or 40s, acknowledged obtaining raw milk from the "as yet named"
farm. One of the women required prolonged hospitalization for Q fever
Q fever is caused by the bacteria Coxiella burnetii, an organism common
in farm animals. Infected animals shed the organism in their bodily
fluids and people can become infected when they consume raw milk containing
by the bacteria. The symptoms of Q fever, a reportable communicable
disease in Michigan, can include high fevers (up to 104-105F), severe
headache, joint and body aches, fatigue, chills/sweats, non-productive
cough, chest pain, nausea and vomiting.
Outbreak in Alabama Tied to Waterpark?
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/e-coli-outbreak-in-alabama-tied-to-waterpark/
By_ David Babcock ( 23, June, 2011)
There are reports this evening
of an outbreak of E. coli (presumably E. coli O157:H7) infections in
Alabama tied to the "Splash Park" at the Opelika Sportsplex
and Aquatics Center in Opelika, Alabama. The Alabama Department of Public
Health is advising parents of children that visited the the Splash Park
between June 12 and June 20 to "be alert for symptoms of illness.
If a child has nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal cramps parents
should seek medical attention for their child."
According to the report Dr. Mary McIntyre, medical officer of the Bureau
of Communicable Disease, said:
Based on what we know now, four children who were in the Splash Park
between June 12 and June 18 have been hospitalized at East Alabama Medical
Center with gastrointestinal illness.
The park has been closed since June 20. Water samples from the park
are being tested, and two children have reportedly tested positive for
E. coli. (Again, no conclusive word if it is E. coli O157:H7)
Previous outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 have been tied to waterparks.
Marler Clark represented seven children who became ill with E. coli
infections, some with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), after playing
in pools at the White Water Park outside of Atlanta, Georgia, in June
In the 1998 Georgia outbreak there were ultimately 26 culture-confirmed
E. coli cases identified.
of Arizona Man Possibly Tied To German Sprouts E. coli Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/death-of-arizona-man-possibly-tied-to-german-sprouts-e-coli-outbreak/
By_ Colin Caywood (23, June , 2011)
The death of an Arizona man
who traveled to Germany recently may be linked to the huge E. coli O104:H4
sprouts outbreak, according to CDC officials investigating his death.
As reported by JoNel Aleccia at MSNBC.com:
The man, who was older than 65, died in mid-June, according to Arizona
health officials. The Northern Arizona resident had developed hemolytic
uremic syndrome, or HUS, a severe side effect of E. coli infection that
can lead to kidney failure, which raised suspicions that his illness
was connected to the European outbreak.
If confirmed, the man's death would be the first in the U.S. tied to
The death is among five confirmed cases and one suspect case of STEC
0104:H4 in U.S. residents, including four who recently traveled to Germany
and one who contracted the infection from a traveler.
Post-diarrheal hemolytic uremic syndrome (D+HUS) is a severe, life-threatening
complication that occurs in about 10 percent of those infected with
E. coli O157:H7 or other Shiga toxin- (Stx-) producing E. coli. D+HUS
was first described in 1955, but was not known to be secondary to E.
coli infections until 1982. It is now recognized as the most common
cause of acute kidney failure in infants and young children. Adolescents
and adults are also susceptible, as are the elderly, who often succumb
to the disease.
Outbreak Ebbs, Questions Linger
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/06/as-germany-outbreak-ebbs-questions-linger/
By_ Ross Anderson (23, Jun, 2011)
After eight weeks, more than
3,700 illnesses and 40 deaths, Germany's E. coli outbreak is finally
waning, but health officials and scientists around the world remain
fixed on followup investigations and analysis, anxious to answer some
of the crucial questions raised by Europe's worst epidemic of food poisoning
in recent memory.
Among the questions they're asking:
What is this bug?
Genetic sequencing by two different labs identified the offending microbe
as E. coli O104:H4, which carries the same virulent shiga toxin as the
more familiar E coli O157:H7. But little is known about this microbe,
and scientists are anxious to learn more about it. Stay tuned.
Why does it appear to be more toxic than other E. coli? In an epidemic
of E. coli O157:H7, health authorities expect between 5 and 10 percent
of the cases to come down with the serious complication call hemolytic
uremic syndrome (HUS). Germany reports 857 cases of HUS --- three times
the normal rate.
It is possible that far more people were sickened, but weathered the
diarrhea and recovered without seeking treatment, officials say. Or
it could be that German doctors were using different criteria to define
HUS, which is essentially a complication of E. coli sickness. Yet the
staggering number of deaths would seem to support the German count of
850 HUS cases.
The other theory: This strain is dangerously more toxic than strains
that U.S. officials have dealt with. And that is not what officials
want to hear.
Either way, what is the risk that this bug will emerge in the U.S.?
In the long run, it's highly probable, experts say.
Food is now a world commodity, routinely shipped around the globe. A
microbe that contaminates food in Germany will inevitably cross the
Atlantic, and vice versa.
And that may depend in part on how the German sprouts became contaminated,
according to Dr. John Kobayashi, a widely respected epidemiologist at
the University of Washington. If contamination occurred at the German
farm, via an employee or farm animal, then the infection might be contained
- though some 3,700 sick people, and perhaps thousands more that were
not diagnosed, have become potential carriers.
"But if the seeds were contaminated, then we should be very concerned,"
Kobayashi warned. And, based on experience with sprouts, that scenario
appears more likely. Sprout seeds are prone to contamination, which
can survive washing by "hiding" in the microscopic crevices
on the surface of the seed. And if the seeds used at the German farm
were the culprit, then contaminated seeds could have been sold and used
in other sprout operations.
Why was such a huge outbreak contained to one region?
Most food poisoning outbreaks are relatively small - five or ten people
who fall sick after one evening at a local restaurant or church potluck.
That's been changing, because of huge food conglomerates that distribute
products coast-to-coast, and because of genetic technology that makes
it possible to recognize and regional and national outbreaks and trace
them to a source--be it ground beef, peanut butter or raw cookie dough.
Given that, epidemiologists were surprised to learn that the German
outbreak was caused by sprouts from a single farm. "It seems strange
that the cases are so focused in Germany," said Kobayashi. "With
central contamination, I would expect wider distribution, especially
in European countries ... Could it be that the implicated food was distributed
only within Germany?"
How did German health authorities get sidetracked onto cucumbers?
Experts say Germany's outbreak was worsened by the fact it took weeks
to identify the source. And they remain puzzled by why it took them
From early in the outbreak, they questioned the response at the Robert
Koch Institute, the German equivalent to the Centers for Disease Control
in the U.S. In the U.S., the standard response to an outbreak is to
quickly interview the sickened people, quizzing them about what they
have eaten over the previous days and weeks, and where they obtained
it. Using standard questionnaires, investigators try to zero in on common
denonminators: Did all or most of the victims eat ground beef or chicken
or salad? Did they all eat at the same restaurant?
Since virtually all the sick people lived in or had visited northern
Germany, investigators should have been able to quickly identify one
or more suspect foods, experts say. The greater the number of cases,
the easier it should be to find the source.
Timing is crucial, says Dr. Kirk Smith, who directs foodborne illness
operations for the Minnesota Department of Health. "The longer
you wait, the more people forget and the less likely you will get clear
Meanwhile, every day of delay allows the contaminated food to remain
in the marketplace, sickening more people.
RKI's own report last week acknowledged that its surveillance system
was "not sufficient for an adequate response." Under the German
system, local physicians may take up to a week to report food poisoning
cases to state authorities, who may take another week to alert national
authorities. As a result, it was three weeks before RKI began interviewing
And when they did begin their investigation, RKI decided that the evidence
pointed to salad fixings - especially cucumbers. That meant it was another
week or more before they corrected themselves and zeroed in on sprouts
- which are notoriously susceptible to contamination.
Dr. Robert Tauxe on the Outbreak in Germany
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/06/outbreak-an-interview-with-dr-robert-v-tauxe/
By_ Daniel B. Cohen (22, Jun, 2011)
As of Tuesday, the toll in
the outbreak of E. coli O104:H4 in Germany was 3,697 illnesses, 856
cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and 40 deaths.
Major Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) outbreaks in the past have
been transformative events for epidemiology and approaches to food safety.
An hour-long conversation last Thursday with Dr. Robert V. Tauxe, deputy
director, Division of Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases NCEZID
(National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases), Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, helped put the outbreak in a broader
perspective. A review of the major points follows:
DC: Would you put the German
STEC E. coli outbreak in context, compared to the U.S. and other outbreaks?
RT: This is an astoundingly large and severe outbreak, particularly
in regards to seriousness of health consequences.
The largest single U.S. outbreak due to STEC E. coli, in that case due
to O157:H7, was the West Coast outbreak due to ground beef, hamburger,
in 1993. That had 750 patients presenting with bloody diarrhea, 44 HUS
cases and four deaths.
The outbreak in Germany is on a much larger scale, at least an order
of magnitude worse.
The largest total number of patients in a STEC outbreak is still O157:H7
in Sakai City, Japan. This was in 1992, had over 7,000 cases, with about
121 HUS cases and three deaths. The outbreak was attributed to radish
sprouts produced by one facility.
The STEC E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks have changed the way epidemiology
is carried out over the last 30 years.
For example, in the U.S. we developed PulseNet, for rapid reporting
and identification of dispersed clusters of E. coli, in response to
the West Coast outbreak.
The Japanese developed their entire field epidemiology program in response
to Sakai City. CDC helped them in their investigations, and then Dr.
John Kobayashi became one of their lead consultants for developing field
epidemiology. Dr. Kobayashi was the state epidemiologist for Washington
state who worked with CDC on the 1993 hamburger outbreak the West Coast.
Later, the Japanese and others also started their own PulseNet system.
The current outbreak may also lead to significant changes in Germany
in the future.
DC: Is O104:H4 significantly
more virulent, with worse health outcomes, due to being a Shiga toxin-producing
STEC and an enteroaggregative strain?
RT: It's actually not clear to me yet that O104:H4 is significantly
more virulent. There were certainly a lot of severe cases. There may
have been a much larger number of milder cases than was recorded, of
people who were ill, but did not seek care.
DC: The German hospitals
and health authorities were preparing for a second wave of patients,
which might have developed from human-human disease transmission. What
do you expect, now?
RT: It does not look like there will be a second wave. The number of
new cases seem to be diminishing. In particular there has not been much
evidence of human-to-human transmission. I have only heard of a very
few possible cases, but even these were either unconfirmed or anecdotal.
DC: Wouldn't you expect more
human to human transmission with STEC in the background of enteroaggregative
E. coli strains [EAEC or, in Europe, EAggEC] with their human reservoirs,
not cattle, and human-to-human transmission?
RT: Now we enter into one of the more esoteric areas of E. coli knowledge
The enteroaggregative E. coli are much less well studied. It is more
a question of how much we do not know about them as a group than predicting
possible behavior of this particular STEC EAEC, based on generalizations.
EAECs have mostly been reported as causing diarrhea in children in the
developing world, though they can also cause relatively mild diarrheal
illness in the U.S. .
There can be child-to-child transmission, for example. But even concepts
such as having a reservoir restricted to humans is not actually proven.
It hasn't been looked for extensively in possible animal reservoirs,
so I am not confident that there isn't one.
In addition, the EAECs are a complex of subgroups. Each subgroup, as
a class, may have very different behavior.
Finally, the O104 STEC E. coli are a very rare serotype themselves,
(when E. coli are categorized by their immunological or antigenic properties
and classified as strains). So O104:H4 STEC may have unusual behavior
even for one of the sub-groups of EAEC.
DC: How was the outbreak
strain detected and characterized as an EAEC as the outbreak developed?
There were a number of news reports and notifications about fast genomic
RT: The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) posted the basic descriptive markers
of the outbreak strain quite early.
There are people whose whole lives are dedicated to understanding E.
coli, and who could look at the basic markers and interpret them. The
Shiga toxins and toxin genes were clearly there, but it was missing
the markers for adherence and other factors that are usually found in
Instead they saw something unexpected, the adherence factor markers
that are common in the EAEC strains were present.
The actual analysis of the outbreak strain as it occurred in real time
was driven by classic and modern microbiology, not by determination
of the whole genome sequence.
We have seen this combination of STEC and EAEC described before, although
very rarely and without this kind of impact, so it was something people
already knew to look for. And there have been reports of O104 strains
and even of O104:H4 before.
In general, it is thought the Shiga toxins are moved by phage transfer,
especially within E. coli types . It could be more common a combination
than we know about now.
DC: What has been the CDC's
role during the outbreak in Germany?
RT: When there is an outbreak in another country we contact them to
offer consultation and advice, and we also offer to send an outbreak
investigation team, if requested. In this case no team was sent. Our
most important role was in preparing the U.S. itself, by the rapid notification
and alerts to public health and other agencies in all 50 states and
We did use the German investigations' questionnaires to interview the
four patients in the U.S. and return that information to them.
In general, the CDC partners with other agencies such as the FDA and
USDA and state public health agencies when there is a foodborne or other
outbreak in the United States. When a foodborne outbreak is within one
state, that state health agency takes the lead. When it is a multistate
outbreak, the CDC takes the lead.
We also take a long-term perspective on developing effective strategies
for prevention, detection, and control. For example, we have worked
quite hard to improve the prevention of E. coli O157:H7, on the one
hand, and especially the detection and reporting as well as prevention
of the non-O157:H7 STEC strains, the "non-O157's" in shorthand.
O157:H7 is looked for routinely. So it is significant that the number
of cases due to O157:H7 in the United States is down by about 50 percent,
which, was included in our report in MMWR (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly
Report) last week,  which was the annual FoodNet report card on food
safety in the U.S.
At the same time as E. coli O157 is going down, the non-O157 STEC are
going up, because detection is improving. In, fact, last year was the
first year that the non-O157s had more cases reported than the O157s.
It sounds bad, but it is good in the sense that we know we are getting
more reports on the non-O157s and that people are looking for them.
We have seen significant non-O157s in the United States, of many serotypes.
If a health agency hospital or other medical facility can culture stool
samples in standard media, they can also do a rapid test for Shiga toxin.
If this is positive, they can send the culture media on for serotyping
and further identification at a state public health agency, and sometimes
samples are forwarded to the CDC.
Improving the surveillance and detection for the non-O157s, in general,
should also improve capacity for O104:H4. However, state public health
agencies are generally stressed and facing budget cuts.
DC: You have been involved
in foodborne outbreaks for a long time. How comprehensive is the association
of sprouts from one farm with the whole (German) outbreak?
RT: There are three lines of very convincing evidence that seem conclusive
The first comes from the epidemiological studies of large groups that
ate at specific restaurants at the same time, some of whose members
became ill. Field epidemiologists used the menu-directed protocols interviewing
patients about which item they ordered, so patients only had to remember
which meal they ate. They interviewed the restaurant managers to find
out the ingredients of each menu item, and then analyzed the interview
results by ingredient. The case-control odds ratios were overwhelming
for sprouts as a factor, and 100 percent of ill diners had eaten sprouts.
The second line of evidence came from the trace-back efforts, that showed
that this and many other affected restaurants all got their sprouts
from one producer/supplier.
The third line of evidence was the consistency with a large and comprehensive
national case-control study, which did find an association with sprouts,
along with other salad vegetables.
In addition, there is the fact that several of the workers at the sprout
farm became ill. They received sprouts for free as part of their employment.
However, only one was shown to have the outbreak strain, and their illnesses
came in the middle of the outbreak.
DC: So are bean sprouts the
cause of the outbreak, as has been in some German press reports? And
if so, which ones since any legume species could get included as 'beans'
RT: I think the RKI is sticking with "sprouts" for now without
identifying which type of sprouts. Many of the sprouts, perhaps most
of them, are sold or used in meals as mixtures of several different
types of sprouts, so it would be difficult to determine which type or
types of sprouts had the outbreak strain from the outbreak epidemiology
Sprout production can be ideal for the multiplication of pathogens under
the same conditions which are ideal for seed to sprout in. So a contamination
introduced into a sprout facility can be multiplied by the sprouting
How the sprouts at this farm got contaminated is still a question. One
of the possibilities is that seeds of a particular lot were contaminated.
We've had Salmonella outbreaks due to contaminated seeds used in sprouts
in the United States.
Unfortunately, it has also been shown that bacterial pathogens can last
for years on or in dry seeds. How the seeds get contaminated in the
first place is another question. It might happen during seed production.
The Germans are almost certainly looking at types of seeds or specific
seed lots for the outbreak pathogens. But there are so many types of
sprouts and therefore seeds involved, as well as particular seed lots,
that this is likely to take some time.
And contamination may not have come through seeds.
DC: So as of now is there
a leading suspect for the type of sprout that may have been involved
based on past experience?
DC: Thank you for taking the time to discuss the outbreak status.
 Under conditions of poverty and/or lack of access to medical care
in developing countries, diarrheal diseases from multiple causes can
lead to severe outcomes and deaths for infants and young children. In
the German O104:H4 cases there is an unusual dominance of adult cases
and severe outcomes due to HUS. -- DC.
 Multiple drug resistance,
characteristic of many STEC strains, can move by plasmid transfer, fairly
promiscuously. -- DC
(3) Vital Signs: Incidence
and Trends of Infection with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly Through
Food --- Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, 10 U.S. Sites,
1996--2010. MMWR Weekly June 10, 2011 / 60(22);749-755.
Virginia E. coli O157:H7, E. coli O103 and E. coli O169 Outbreak Hits
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/tennessee-virginia-e-coli-o157h7-e-coli-o103-and-e-coli-o169-outbreak-hits-17-2/
By_ Bill Marler (19, June, 2011)
According to Mac McLean,
an E. coli outbreak involving E. coli O157:H7, E. coli O103 and E. coli
O169 and outbreak that's plagued Northeast Tennessee since mid-May has
sickened two more people - bringing the total number of confirmed cases
in the eight-county Northeast Tennessee region so far this year to 15.
On June 5, a 2-year-old girl and her 5-year-old brother from Dryden,
Va., were rushed to the Johnson City Medical Center's Pediatric Intensive
Care Unit after they developed an E. coli infection. The girl died at
the hospital that day while her brother was sent to another hospital
for further treatment and later released.
Even though no common links have been found, the health officer said
he is treating the situation like an outbreak because the dates these
symptoms started showing up are in such a small period of time. He hopes
test results from the two new cases that are due back next week will
help his office solve the puzzle.
Rescue the Sprouts Industry?
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/06/can-technology-rescue-the-sprouts-industry/
By_ Cookson Beecher (20, Jun, 2011)
While scientists are scrambling
to pinpoint the cause of the E. coli outbreak linked to bean and seed
sprouts in northern Germany, a veteran sprouts system designer believes
he has developed the technology that can produce "the perfect sprout."
As of June 20, the outbreak had killed 40 people and sickened 3,598.
"If this technology had been used in the EU, those people would
still be alive. I have no doubt about it," Lincoln Neal, president
of Tennessee-based Quicksilver Automated Systems (www.qasc.com/index.html),
told Food Safety News.
According to the company's website, Quicksilver provides state-of the
art purification, propagation and processing systems for the largest
sprout companies in North America.
Neal thinks the pathogen that caused the E. coli outbreak in Germany
likely came in on the seeds, a conjecture that echoes warnings to sprout
growers from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that seeds are most
often the source of most sprout-associated outbreaks.
For that reason, the agency recommends that sprout growers soak the
seeds in a strong disinfecting solution, such as 20,000 ppm calcium
hypochlorite, before sprouting them.
But Neal, a mechanical systems designer with a focus on disinfection,
who describes himself as "a bit of a germophobe," said soaking
the seeds in a strong disinfecting solution at the onset just isn't
enough because the pathogens can lodge themselves into cracks and crevasses
in the seeds.
Those cracks and crevasses, which he said in the microscopic world can
be as large as the Grand Canyon, can provide safe harbor for the wily
To make things more challenging yet, the seeds have a "somewhat
oily surface" that can repel water. As a result, the surface tension
on the outside of the seed can prevent the disinfectant from going into
the cracks and crevasses in the seeds.
Neal compares that situation to the water that pools into droplets on
the surface of a freshly waxed car.
He warns that if a sprout grower only disinfects the seeds at the beginning
of the sprouting process, pathogens could still be lurking in the seeds,
especially since sprout growers typically soak their seeds in disinfectant
for only about an hour.
Neal also said that contrary to what some people in the industry assert,
bacteria such as E. coli can not only hide in the microscopic cracks
but can also get inside the sprouting seeds through those cracks.
Neal believes that the solution
to that dilemma is easy enough: Use a method that sanitizes the seeds
as they're sprouting.
"We focus on the first 24 to 36 hours," he said of his method
According to the company's information about its Emerald Purifier/Sprouter,
the equipment can get rid of embedded pathogens inside the seed shell
by repeatedly flushing the inside of the seed hull with disinfectant
solution at the moments it "changes, opens, 'morphs,' and detaches
to release the sprout.
"Bacteria-occupied air cups and pockets are flushed out and disinfected,"
says the company literature. "Full automatic wash cycles occur
as the seed pops open and the microbes become exposed."
"We go in when the seed is changing and by doing that we can get
into the seed," Neal said. "The machine persistently and automatically
washes the product."
Neal said that if the pathogens aren't caught early on in the process,
they can get into the sprouts themselves and that no amount of spray
misting a disinfectant onto them can reach every square micron of the
"Nipping it in the bud early on in the process is essential,"
he said, adding that persistent disinfection doesn't erode the nutritional
value of the seeds and "is in full accord with the life process
of the sprouts."
"It doesn't compromise germination or weaken it," he said.
Looking at another FDA guideline for producing sprouts that involves
testing the spent irrigation water that has flowed over the seeds, Neal
sees drawbacks. FDA's thinking behind that approach is that if there
were any pathogens on the seeds themselves, they would multiply under
the warm, moist conditions the seeds are sprouted in. If the testing,
which typically occurs 48 hours into the sprouting process, reveals
the presence of pathogens, then that batch can be thrown away, thus
keeping it out of the marketplace.
But Neal said that as valuable as testing is, sprouting is a "hurry-up"
sort of industry when it comes to shipping the fresh sprouts out to
customers. For that reason, sometimes the sprouts are sent out before
the test results of the spent irrigation water come back.
And even if a test-and-hold approach were adopted, Neal said that if
the pathogens are deep inside the seed, the water won't be able to reach
them. They could actually be trapped and not be able to get out.
"It's rare, but it could happen," he said.
Then, too, Neal said that even with the safeguards many sprout growers
are using, including FDA's guidelines, a sobering fact keeps emerging:
"Somehow these pathogens are getting by these sprouters."
"That's why I think upfront methods must be incorporated,"
he said. "You've got to come in again and again and again to get
the pathogens out. You have to be persistent -- more persistent than
the microbes. They've got brilliant programming in them to stay alive."
These pathogens can be virulent. According to the FDA, a single surviving
bacterium in a kilogram of seed can be enough to contaminate a whole
batch of seeds.
Neal, who says he was called upon by the industry in 1985 to develop
a sprout manufacturing package, has focused on modernizing an industry
that had previously been more of a "flower-child kind of business."
Fast forward to the present, and Neal says he's probably designed more
sprouting equipment "than anyone on the planet."
Back then, immediate questions before him were "How can this problem
be solved?" "And where are these pathogens coming from and
what's allowing them to proliferate."
When evaluating the potential of his equipment to produce the perfect
sprout, Neal said there are no "absolutes in microbiology."
"But if the sprout growers follow our methods and don't cheat,
they can virtually eliminate the pathogens," he said.
A blast of heat
Sydney Chang, owner of Chang Farm in Masachussetts, has invested many
years of his life and many hundreds of thousands of dollars to expand
and modernize his sprouting operation.
He started with a 7,200 square foot facility in 1993, added another
6,400 square feet in the late 1990s, and another 31,000 square feet
"Sprouts are popular and healthy food," he said. "If
demand for them wasn't growing, I wouldn't be spending the money to
He relies on a heat pasteurization system widely used in Japan -- but
"still unique in this country" -- that entails dipping the
seeds in very hot water.
"It's a quick kill," he said, referring to pathogens that
cause foodborne illnesses. "The hot water kills them on the surface
of the seeds and if they're under the surface."
The water temperature the seeds are dipped in reaches 176 degrees, which
is above the heat resistance of pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella
He described the seed pasteurizer, which he bought from Daisey Machinery
Co. in Japan, as "an expensive piece of equipment."
"But I want to invest in food safety," he said.
According to Daisey Machinery, heat pasteurization is a "natural
and very effective" way to disinfect the seeds, which allows the
seeds to be sanitized without the use of chemicals that could be harmful
to the people operating the plant or to the environment.
With worker safety in mind, Chang also soaks the seeds in a chlorinated
solution, but not at levels as high as recommended by the FDA. But he
pointed out that FDA accepts those lower levels because the seeds have
also been "heat pasteurized."
Chang Farm currently sells several hundred thousands pounds of bean
sprouts a week.
Instead of growing different crops of sprouts all in the same room,
Chang has nine different sprouting rooms and harvests one room a day,
which he says avoids the possibility of cross-contamination.
The growing containers are also steam cleaned after they're washed.
Worker sanitation is another important part of the food-safety equation,
with food-safety reviews held monthly. The farm also has food-safety
specialists with advanced degrees on staff.
In addition, the sprouting facility has automatic door sanitizers that
spray disinfectants on the floor where equipment and people enter.
"We have a modern state-of-the-art facility," Chang said.
"Everything is designed with sanitation in mind."
Referring to the investment his farm has made in achieving this, Chang
told Gazettenet.com in 2009 that it represents the family's life savings,
and a generous loan from the bank.
"We've put all of it in one basket in this business: me, my brother,
my father, my mother, my wife. We want to give sprouts a good name.
We're serious about this business."
What about irradiation?
Greg Henderson, editor and associate publisher of Drovers CattleNetwork,
rankles at charges made against livestock production that link it to
E. coli contamination of raw vegetables, including sprouts.
He said that while "many pundits seem eager to vilify livestock
production, they don't seem nearly as interested in telling the American
public that technology has a solution for much of our E. coli contamination."
That solution is irradiation and it's currently underused, Henderson
said in a June 13 commentary titled "Want safe food? Technology
has a solution."
Henderson describes irradiation as a process that exposes food to ionizing
radiation to kill bacteria such as E. coli, as well as contaminants
such as viruses and insects, and points out that it has been approved
in 40 countries.
Even so, he said, it has not been widely adopted.
"That's because of public perception," he said, referring
to fears of what he describes as an "extremely low level of radiation"
that appear to be a "greater concern than our fear of E. coli and
a host of other contaminants."
Pointing to the E. coli outbreak in Germany, Henderson said it should
spur interest in irradiation.
"Let's stop pointing fingers and start irradiating our food,"
According to the USDA, combining chlorination and irradiation can be
an effective way to kill E. coli and Salmonella on alfalfa sprouts.
In 1999, USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists Donald W. Thayer,
Kathleen T. Rajkowski and William F. Fett found that a treatment of
irradiation and chlorine solution not only killed both organisms, but
extended the shelf life of sprouts from about five days to more than
In the tests, they used the same dose of irradiation as approved for
irradiating meat. They also subjected the alfalfa seeds to various levels
of chlorinated water.
According to the research results, the best way to eliminate pathogens
would be a combination of irradiation and sanitation treatments. That's
because sprouts can be contaminated internally, which would prevent
a surface disinfectant from working effectively.
But Quicksilver's Lincoln Neal told Food Safety News that if the seed
is irradiated sufficiently to kill foodborne pathogens, the seed germ
(the heart of the seed for germination) almost invariably will be damaged.
"The results are compromised germination and dead seed," he
said. "Dead matter and weakened sprouts are less resistant to pathogens--thus
arguably taking the infection issue back to square one."
He also said that while irradiating finished sprouts can kill pathogens
- it also kills and weakens the sprouts--again, decreasing resistance
to pathogens that might be introduced during the interim to consumption.
And again, arguably back to square one.
"And yes, selling a live food dead would surely tend to squelch
the "sizzle" of appeal in the eye of the typical sprouts consumer,"
Although the sprout farm in Lower Saxony state in northern Germany that
has been indicated as the source of the E. coli-contaminated bean and
seed sprouts is described as an organic farm, Mark Kastel, founder of
The Cornucopia Institute, said that the problem in Germany is primarily
about sprouts, not organic agriculture.
"People are using the
term "organic farm," Kastel said, "when the real elephant
in the room -- where the pathogens are originating -- is not being discussed."
He also said that according to recall data, of the 10 sprout recalls
in the United States in the past 2.5 years (since April 2009), nine
occurred because conventional sprouts tested positive for foodborne
pathogens. In other words, 90 percent of the recalls involved conventionally
German authorities have not yet discovered exactly where the pathogens
that contaminated the sprouts from the organic farm linked to the outbreak
Because the potentially fatal forms of E. coli are shed in animal feces,
fresh vegetables are generally kept far apart from animals to prevent
E. coli contamination.
Although organic and conventional sprouts are generally produced the
same way, organic sprouts must be grown from certified organic seeds.
Testing the sprouts
FDA spokesman Douglas Karas said that for most foods, the FDA's motto
is "You can't test your way to safety."
He pointed out that having the right practices up front to minimize
or prevent contamination are "the best bet" compared to testing
the finished product. That's because testing some of the finished product
can give a grower a false sense of security about an entire batch if
a piece or package tests negative.
Karas said that's why the FDA recommends testing the water that has
flowed through the entire lot of sprouts because it's a good indicator
of what's in the sprouts overall, not just in a select sample. In addition,
that sort of testing provides results before the product is shipped
out, which allows growers to dump out contaminated batches.
Another logistical fact is that testing the sprouts involves smashing
them up to release the pathogens. Obviously, if growers were to test
all of their finished sprouts, they'd have nothing to send to market.
Once the sprouts are in "market channels," such as at distribution
centers, the USDA's Microbiological Data Program can test alfalfa and
clover sprouts by using a system that involves putting the sprouts in
a bag with broth and pummeling them. MDP's lead microbiologist Shanker
Reddy told Food Safety News that if pathogens are present, the process
releases them from the sprouts, and stringent tests can be used to detect
and identify them.
The benefit of MDP's testing is that it can help keep contaminated products
out of the marketplace -- a far better approach to food safety than
trying to track down the source of an outbreak after contaminated sprouts,
or other fresh produce -- have been bought and eaten.
This testing by MDP has been the basis of many sprout recalls.
As for whether consumers can protect themselves by washing the sprouts
they bring them home, FDA researchers have found that if foodborne pathogens
such as E. coli and Salmonella are on the finished sprouts, washing
them only minimally decreases the amount of contamination.
Eating sprouts: yes or no?
According to the FDA, the United States has received no shipments of
sprouts or sprout seeds from Germany and Spain since at least last October.
In response to the recent E. coli outbreak in Germany, the International
Sprout Growers Association said in a June 11 press release that it wants
to reassure consumers that it appears to be a localized event and one
that isn't affecting consumers worldwide.
The association "highly recommends" that the investigations
into finding the source of the outbreak continue.
"By so doing, we can all benefit and further the efforts to make
sprouts and all other raw foods the safest they can be," says the
At the same time, the association recommends that consumers continue
to enjoy what it describes as the "the great health benefits, variety
and taste of sprouts."
It invites consumers to learn more about sprouts and their health benefits,
as well as recipes featuring sprouts, by going to its website.
In the U.S., the FDA recommends that children, the elderly, pregnant
women and people with weakened immune systems not eat any kind of raw
sprouts. It also recommends cooking sprouts thoroughly to reduce the
risk of illness.
of Ohio Salmonella Victim to File Lawsuit
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/06/family-of-ohio-salmonella-victim-to-file-lawsuit/
By_ News Desk ( 20,Jun, 2011)
The family of a woman killed
in an Athens, Ohio Salmonella outbreak will file a lawsuit Monday against
the Athens-based restaurant Casa Lopez.
The suit is the second filed by Seattle-based food poisoning law firm
Marler Clark on behalf of individuals made ill in a 2010 Salmonella
According to the complaint, the 82-year-old Athens resident ate with
her family at Casa Lopez on April 30, 2010 where she and her son shared
the "Special Dinner for Two". The next day both experienced
severe gastrointestinal symptoms. While the son eventually recovered,
his mother spent seven weeks in and out of hospitals and care centers,
enduring a number of medical complications, including severe bodily
swelling and a stroke, before passing away on June 22, 2010.
In May of 2010 the Athens Health Department began recording a higher
than normal incidence of Salmonella infections, prompting an investigation
that linked Casa Lopez to the outbreak.
Health officials observed what they said were a number of food safety
violations, including improper temperatures for hot and cold food holding,
no soap available at the employee hand washing station, no date markings
on any food, and raw food stored above uncovered prepared food.
All together, 56 people were sickened from eating or being exposed to
food from Casa Lopez. Marler Clark is the sponsor of Food Safety News
with E. coli After Visiting Animal Farm
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/06/four-ill-with-e-coli-after-visiting-animal-farm/
By_ News Desk (18, Jun, 2011)
Two children and two adults
became ill from E. coli infections after visiting an animal farm run
by the city of Everett in Washington state.
The Daily Herald of Everett reported that one child required hospitalization
but has since been discharged. One of the adults worked at the farm.
The E. coli serotype was not been identified.
The Animal Farm at Forest Park, which gets about 25,000 visitors a year,
is run by Everett's parks department and features sheep, calves, piglets,
chickens, goats, ducks, a horse, a pony and rabbits, according to the
Animal farms and petting zoos are a common source of exposure to disease-causing
pathogens. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
between 1996 and 2010 approximately 150 outbreaks of disease in the
U.S. were linked to animals in farms open to the public.
?In England, almost 100 people -- including 76 children under the age
of 10 -- were sickened by E. coli O157:H7 contracted at a public farm
in Surrey in the summer of 2009. That same year, an outbreak in Colorado
originating at the National Western Stock show led to 30 illnesses and
In 2003 United States Department of Agriculture study of more than 20
county fairs found E. coli O157:H7 in 13.8 percent of beef cattle, 5.9
percent of dairy cattle, and slightly smaller percentages of sheep,
pigs and goats -- nearly the same percentages found in animals in feed
Last month, new guidelines on how to prevent the spread of disease from
animals to humans in public settings such as animal farm, petting zoos
and county fairs were issued by the National Association of State Public
The most crucial step in avoiding zoonotic disease is washing one's
hands as often as possible after handling farm animals, says the report.
Parent Sickens Class with Raw Milk
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/06/grade-school-parent-sickens-class-with-raw-milk/
By_ Dan Flynn ( 18, Jun, 2011)
Fourth graders at a Raymond,
Wisconsin elementary school got a painful lesson earlier this month.
They drank unpasteurized milk at a North Cape Elementary School event
on Friday, June 3 and by Monday 16 individuals -- students and some
adults -- were suffering from diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea,
and vomiting from Campylobacter infections.
The raw milk was one parent's contribution to the school event.
The parent, whose name was not disclosed, runs a licensed farm -- also
not identified -- that is in good standing with the state Department
of Agriculture and Consumer Protection. Donating raw milk is not illegal,
and the parent will not face sanctions nor will the dairy suffer a blemish
on its record.
Wisconsin health authorities, however, confirmed that the milk was the
source of the outbreak.
In a joint statement issued late Friday, the Wisconsin Department of
Health Services (DHS) and the Western Racine County Health Department
(WRCHD) said : "Laboratory test results show that the Campylobactor
jejuni bacteria that caused diarrheal illness among 16 individuals who
drank unpasteurized (raw) milk at a school event early this month in
Raymond was the same bacteria strain found in unpasteurized milk produced
at a local farm."
The WRCHD said stool samples submitted by ill students and adults were
sent to the State Laboratory of Hygiene, where they tested positive
for the bacteria. Wisconsin's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer
Protection (DATCP) food inspectors said milk samples collected from
the bulk tank at the farm also tested positive for Campylobacter jejuni.
Further testing by the State Hygiene lab showed the bacteria from the
stool samples and the milk samples were a genetic match. Additionally,
interviews with event attendees revealed that consuming the unpasteurized
milk was statistically associated with illness.
Health officials said this combination of laboratory and epidemiologic
evidence indicates that the illnesses were caused by the unpasteurized
milk consumed at the school event.
Campylobacter jejuni bacteria can cause diarrhea, which can be bloody,
abdominal cramping, fever, nausea and vomiting. Rarely, an infection
may lead to paralysis after initial symptoms have disappeared. Campylobacter
can be transmitted by consuming food contaminated directly or indirectly
by animal feces or handled by someone with the infection who has not
adequately washed hands after using the bathroom.
International Conference for
Food Safety and Quality
Holiday Inn Chicago O'Hare Hotel
5615 North Cumberland Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60631
Major Topic: Detection Methods for
Microbiological/Chemical Hazards for Food Safety and Quality
November 8, 2011
Conference Place: Holiday Inn (Conference Room)
7:00 - 8:30 Registration and Breakfast (Juice, Tea, Coffee) and Poster
(***Exhibitors displaying time : 7:00-9:00 AM***)
- 9:00 Opening Announcement
A. Importance of Detection Methods for Food Safety and Quality
9:00 - 9:50 - The Importance of detection methods for food safety and
University of Georgia
9:50 - 10:40 - Advanced Detection methods for food safety and quality
University of Geulph
Editor of AEM
10:40 - 11:00 - Coffee Break in Exhibitors' Section
11:00 - 11:50 - Current Foodborne Outbreak and legal issues
William D. Marler, Esq.
MarlerClark attorneys at Law
11:50 - 12:00: Exhibitos Presentation and GROUP PICTURE
12:00 - 1:00: Lunch buffet will be supported (Holiday Inn, Dinning
B. Detection methods for Food Allergen Residues
1:50 - Detection of Food Allergen Residues in Processed Foods and Food
University of Nebraska
Director - Food Allergy Research and Resource Program
1:50 - 2:20 - Rapid Testing for Allergen Control Programs
Presentation by Ryan Waters
- 2:30 - Break / Visit Companies' Booth
C. Molecular/Immunoassay methods for Detection of Microbiological and
3:10 - Costco
Way for Food Safety and Quality
Food Safety Quality Manager
3:10 - 3:50 - Novel
biosensor technologies for high throughput screening of pathogens and
Professor, Purdue University
3:50 - 4:10- Innovative detection methods with immunoassay based method
4:10 -4:30 - Novel nucleic acid testing methods for industrial applications
by Roka Bioscience
4:30 - 5:30 - Panel Discussion (All key speakers will be joined)
2008 IAFP President, bioMerieux
5:30 - Adjourn
November 9, 2011
Conference Place: Holiday Inn (Conference Room)
7:00 - 8:30 Registration and Breakfast (Juice, Tea, Coffee) and Poster
8:40 - 9:00 Poster Competition Award
D. Importance of conventional/biochemical detection methods for Food safety
9:00 - 9:40 - Rapid Methods/Automation and a Look into the Future
Daniel Y.C. Fung
Director of Rapid Methods and Automation in Microbiology Workshop (KSU)
Professor, Kansas State University
9:40 - 10:20 - Rapid
Methods and Automation Workshop for 30 years
Director of Rapid Methods and Automation in Microbiology Workshop (UW)
Professor, University of Wisconsin
10:20 - 10:40 - Coffee
Break in Exhibitors' Section
- 10:50 - Presentation Title from Company presentation
- 11:30 - New demands for Rapid and Automative Detection Methods
for Food Safety
2008 IAFP President, bioMerieux
- 12:00 - Rapid methods for monitoring microbial numbers for
Senior Principal Scientist
-12:20 - Innovative methods for detection of microbiological/chemical
hazards for food safety
12:20 - 1:30 -
Lunch buffet will be supported (Holiday Inn, Dinning Room)
Impacts of Advanced/Conventional Detection methods on Food Industries
2:10 - Impact
of detection methods for food industries
2006 AOAC President
2:10 - 2:30 - Application of several detection methods for
- 2:40 -
Coffee Break in Exhibitors' Section
2:40 - 3:10 - The
importance of detection procedures for food safety by 3rd party
4:00 Application of Rapid Methods for Food Industries
IAFP President (2004)
President, AIV Consulting LLC.
4:00 - 4:30 -
Attendees' Certificate / Adjourn
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