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Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC): Update on outbreak in the EU (15 July 2011, 11:00)
RootFolder=/en/activities/sciadvice/Lists/ECDC Reviews
(Jul 15, 2011)
As of today, the cumulative number of probable and confirmed STEC cases in the EU/EEA is 3 908. This includes 765 HUS STEC cases and 3 143 non-HUS STEC cases. In total, 41 infected persons have died, of which 26 were HUS STEC cases and 15 were non-HUS STEC cases. The table below shows the distribution of cumulative probable and confirmed STEC cases per country.
In Germany, since the last update, three HUS STEC cases and 38 non-HUS STEC cases have been reported. Two HUS STEC deaths and one non-HUS STEC fatality have been excluded. Within the last 10 days (5 July - 14 July), eight non-HUS STEC cases fell ill. The last known date of illness onset in a patient with confirmed STEC O104 was 7 July 2011. The last reported date of illness onset among all cases was 8 July 2011. A link to the daily update from the Robert Koch Institute is provided below
Table 1: Number of probable and confirmed HUS STEC and non-HUS STEC cases, as per the EU case definition, and associated deaths per EU/EEA Member State, 15 July 11:00
Member States Number of HUS STEC cases (deaths) Number of non-HUS STEC cases (deaths)
Austria 1 (0) 4 (0)
Czech Republic 0 (0) 1 (0)
Denmark 10 (0) 15 (0)
France 8 (0)* 3 (0)*
2 (0)**
Germany 717 (25) 3 067 (15)
Greece 0 (0) 1 (0)
Luxembourg 1 (0) 1 (0)
Netherlands 4 (0) 7 (0)
Norway 0 (0) 1 (0)
Poland 2 (0) 1 (0)
Spain 1 (0) 1 (0)
Sweden 18 (1) 35 (0)
The United Kingdom 3 (0) 4 (0)
TOTAL 765 (26) 3 143 (15)

Note: the numbers in this table represent the total number of cases reported at the European level (ECDC) so far. Although daily numbers of reported cases have steadily decreased in the last weeks, these cumulative numbers continue to rise due to reporting delays at the various levels.
Suspected cases (Germany: 142 HUS STEC (7 deaths), France: 5 non-HUS STEC) are not included.
* Cases reported from the outbreak in Bordeaux
** Cases reported earlier, linked to travel to Germany

Japan Bans Beef Exports Amid Radioactive Concerns
By_admin (Jul 20, 2011)
Japanese officials on July 19 imposed a ban on all beef shipments from the Fukushima Prefecture amid concerns the cattle may have been fed hay contaminated with radioactive cesium grown in the area near the nuclear-damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant.
The ban is in effect until the safety of the meat can be confirmed, and health officials expanded probes into farms and distributors nationwide to come to terms with the scale of contamination. According to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, tainted hay was fed to 637 cattle in 19 farms in Fukushima, Niigata and Yamagata prefectures. Twelve cases of beef contamination were detected in eight prefectures.
Officials detected up to 157,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram in straw used at the farms-about 520 times the government-designated limit. Earlier this month radioactive cesium levels 4.6 times the legal limit were detected in Japanese beef from cattle raised in Fukushima, prompting the government to strengthen its food safety monitoring of cattle meat in Fukushima, and the nearby prefectures of Miyagi, Yamagata, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Niigata. The government reported some of the meat had likely been consumed by the public.
In March, the Japanese Ministry of Health released a list of 99 food products produced near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that have tested for unsafe levels of radioactive iodine and cesium.

Food companies' supply chains "at risk" from new GMO feed rules
By_ Sarah Hills( Jul 18, 2011)
Food manufacturers face extra costs and the potential risk of GMOs entering the food chain as new GMO rules for imported feed come into force on Friday, warns Cert ID Europe.
The new European Commission regulation aims to harmonise rules for the control of imports of feed materials from countries such as North and South America, which may contain traces of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) not covered by EU authorisations.
It sets out a 'technical zero' of 0.1 per cent for unauthorised GM presence in imported feed, while the 'zero tolerance' level for food still applies.
However, Richard Werran, managing director of the non-GMO certification body, Cert ID Europe, said that food and feed are so interlinked that the new rules could pose a risk to ingredients companies and manufacturers.
He told "Everybody in the food business knows that food and feed chains are not separated or segregated, they overlap.
"It is not unusual for a food ingredients manufacturer to source feed grade raw materials to produce food additives and ingredients."
An example of this hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), which is used in many savoury products, from baked goods to flavour enhances.
Werran added: "We are seeing a relaxation on the feed side that is going to give the food side a problem.
"There could be implicit exposure of unauthorised GMO.
"It is therefore essential that food and feed operators test risk ingredients using the latest protocols to detect LLP (low level presence) of unauthorised GMOs."
The new rules are primarily going to affect those companies sourcing from North and South America, according to Werran. This would include soy, maize and rape seed.
He said that the key is for manufacturers to understand their supply chain, adding: "They need transparency in the supply chain. They need to ask the relevant questions of their risk suppliers. They need to update their risk assessment and ask whether their suppliers of ingredients have the right testing protocols in place.
"It also means that the supply contract concerning quality of the feed raw material needs to be revisited and revised because LLP will be with us all on Friday.
"It could place them (food manufacturers) in a very difficult situation trying to demonstrate compliance.
"This is all going to be at an additional cost to the food industry."
However, Werran believes that eventually there will be an extension to the regulations to include food.
The view from the EU
Brussels argues that the regulation ensures a harmonised approach to controls in all Member States and said it also improves the legal certainty for importers of feed from third countries.
Different maize products (four million tons imported in the 2008-09 season) and soybean products (33 million tons in soya meal equivalents in the 2008-09 season), imported mainly from Argentina, Brazil and the US, are "an essential supplement" for the EU's livestock sector.

EC backs fruit and vegetables with media campaign in wake of 'E-Coli Crisis'
Source :
By Shane Starling (Jul 19, 2011)
The European Commission is today launching a multimedia campaign as part of its ¢ę210m compensation package to support beleaguered European fruit and vegetables growers, processors and retailers still reeling from the 'E-Coli Crisis'.
The late-May E.coli 104 H4 outbreaks killed 48 people in Germany and sickened about 4000, with a host of culprits from cucumbers to tomatoes named before Egyptian fenugreek sprouts were fingered as the most likely source and subsequently banned in the European Union's 27 member states.
The EC campaign includes an AV package that will be published this afternoon and include supportive comments from EC commissioner Dacian Ciolos as well as comments from traders and farmers and background information.
A print press campaign promoting the healthiness and safety of European fruit and vegetables will get a staggered launch in the 27 member states over the next three days.
"In recent weeks, this crisis forced farmers to dispose of perfectly safe vegetables left to rot by concerned consumers," the EC said.
"To help producers get through this difficult period, the European Commission has made 210 million euro available for emergency funding. However the solution can only come from consumers re-introducing fruits and vegetables into their daily diet."
Perfect season
Ciolo?, the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, added: "Farmers are committed to providing Europeans with healthy and high quality food which reflects the rich diversity of the European farming model. Whenever a crisis threatens this model, we must protect it. We must also promote it with conviction, both as producers and as consumers. The summer is the perfect season to eat more fruit and vegetables."
An EC spokesperson said the issue was also set to be discussed during an Agriculture Council meeting tomorrow.
The EC missive quotes one Dutch cucumber grower lamenting the effect of the crisis on his business.
"Throwing away 350,000 cucumbers in only one week and realising afterwards that there was absolutely nothing wrong with them broke my spirit. For my business, this crisis may well mean the end”¦".

Prevention not inactivation key to tackling foodborne viruses - EFSA
Source :
By Rory Harrington, 18-Jul-2011
The battle against foodborne viruses should focus on prevention of contamination during production rather than measures to eliminate them from tainted food, said the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
The European food safety watchdog said foodborne viruses are the second most common cause of outbreaks in the region - bested only by the ubiquitous Salmonella bug - and have been on the rise since 2007.
Figures from the agency's Scientific Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) showed that in 2009 viruses accounted for 1,000 outbreaks - 19 per cent of the total - in the European Union, resulting in 8,700 victims.
Prevention focus
Viruses do not multiply on food, but products can act as a vehicle for transmittance to humans. The three most common foodborne viruses are norovirus (NoV), hepatitis A (HAV) and hepatitis E (HEV).
"Effective measures to control the spread of these viruses should focus on preventing contamination at all levels of production rather than on trying to remove or inactivate these viruses from contaminated food," said the panel.
Contamination can occur during primary production or further processing and the experts recommended a raft of measures to prevent this from occurring - particularly in higher risk foods such as bivalve molluscs or fresh produce.
Bivalve molluscs - hazard-based controls
For bivalve molluscs, they propose that a European standard for their classification and monitoring in terms of such factors as method and frequency be adopted across the region. At present this is not the case which can lead to "differential health outcomes" in different countries.
The flushing out of faecal decontaminates from molluscs could also be removed. Present operators use either depuration (flushing out with clean seawater in a tank) or relaying (an identical method but carried out in the natural environment.
The panel said these techniques as currently performed are "demonstrably not providing adequate levels of public health protection". It urged that both methods be used and the process be monitored using polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
Food business operators could then be obliged to "determine the depuration and relaying operating procedures incorporated into their HACCP plans according to removal of human enteric viruses rather than E. coli."
It also suggests using a more sophisticated risk assessment system based on how intensely the molluscs are cooked and targeting testing according to areas where consumption is highest and where they are more usually eaten whole.
More robust methods for detecting NoVs and HAVs now mean it is feasible to implement hazard-based controls for viruses.
Fresh produce - microbiological criteria
For fresh produce, the BIOHAZ members tabled the introduction of specific microbiological criteria for viruses.
As well as laying down EU legislation regarding the quality of irrigation water as well as adherence to the World Health Organisation's guidelines on the safe use of waste-water, excreta and grey water.
The ability of viruses to survive food preservation methods such as chilling or acified or dry conditions - means "establishing microbial growth inhibition will not be sufficient to prevent foodborne viral infections".
It suggests using treatments such as irradiation or HPP or other decontamination techniques such as peracitic acid.
Hygiene of food handlers along the production, processing and packaging chain is also flagged up as key for fresh produce and ready-to-eat foods.
Meat products Meat or liver should also be subject to sufficient heat treatment to ensure that possible hepatitis E infections are removed or inactivated.

Peptide May Prevent E. coli Infection
Source :
(Jul 21, 2011)
The peptide wrwycr may be a potential new candidate for a preventative antimicrobial for Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infection because it disrupts the bacteria's natural ability to repair its DNA after damage from stomach acid, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Medicine.
Researchers tested the survivability of acid-stressed O157?:?H7 and non-O157?:?H7 STEC seropathotypes that are highly associated with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). They found reduction in survival rates of STEC range from 3 to 5 log. They also found the peptide/acid treatment results in little or no increase in toxin production, thereby reducing the risk of progression to HUS.
"I was amazed by our findings that even a brief 5-minute treatment with this peptide profoundly impaired the ability of several different strains of E. coli associated with severe human disease to survive exposure to acid similar to that found in the human stomach," said lead researcher Debora Foster of the Department of Chemistry and Biology at Ryerson University.

Is your teapot safe to use?
Source :
By David Liu, Ph.D.( Jul 19, 2011)
Tuesday July 19, 2011 ( -- Don't use metallic teapots to brew your otherwise healthy tea because they may leach poisoning metals like lead and nickle, according to a report in the July 12, 2011 issue of Food Additives and Contaminants.
Bolle F and colleagues from Scientific Institute of Public Health in Belgium reported a study showing that most metallic teapots tested in the study leached lead and nickle at levels that posed risk of serious poisoning.
The study was triggered after the researchers learned of a case in which a family of Morocco origin suffered lead poisoning, which was associated with metallic teapots.
For the study, Bolle et al. simulated the brewing process using metallic teapots and tested a range of metals including aluminum, copper, iron, nickle, lead and zinc.
The teapots were withdrawn by the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain in Belgium.

Food Companies Act to Protect Consumers From E. Coli Illness
Source :
By WILLIAM NEUMAN( July 15, 2011)
The federal government has spent years considering whether to take steps to help keep dangerous strains of E. coli bacteria out of the food supply, a question that has become even more urgent in the face of a deadly wave of E. coli sickness that swept through Europe and raised alarms on both sides of the Atlantic
Now, two major American companies, Costco Wholesale and Beef Products Inc., have gotten tired of waiting for regulators to act. They are proceeding with their own plans to protect customers.
Last month, Costco, one of the nation's largest food retailers, quietly began requiring its suppliers of bagged produce, including salad greens and mixes, apple slices and baby carrots, to test for a broad range of toxic E. coli.
"We know this is where we have to go and there's no reason to wait," said Craig Wilson, the food safety director of Costco. In the last two weeks, he said, most produce suppliers have added a test that can detect the strain from the European outbreak as well.
The company also plans to test all of the ground beef sold at its warehouse stores. Costco operates a large ground beef plant in Tracy, Calif., and Mr. Wilson said the plant recently began evaluating testing procedures to detect the broader range of E. coli in the hamburger it makes and the beef trimmings that go into it. As an added step, the company plans to ask suppliers of the trimmings to do their own testing, starting later this summer, he said.
Until recently, the produce and beef industries focused E. coli prevention efforts on a single strain of the bacteria, known as O157:H7, which was responsible for scores of outbreaks and recalls.
But public health experts have identified six rarer forms, often referred to as the "Big Six," which have increasingly been found to be the cause of illness related to food, including an outbreak in the United States last year traced to tainted romaine lettuce.
The devastating outbreak of illness in Europe this spring was caused by yet another rare form of E. coli, O104:H4, which investigators say was spread through tainted sprouts. That strain has not been known to cause illness in this country and it is not on the list of the Big Six, but it was so virulent that it made the food industry take notice.
More than 3,900 people were sickened in the German outbreak and at least 42 died, including one American who became ill after traveling to Germany. People infected with E. coli can get bloody diarrhea; severe cases may lead to kidney failure and death.
Costco's new testing requirements come as the federal government continues to drag its feet on what to do about the expanding E. coli threat. After four years of study, the United States Department of Agriculture finished drafting rules in January for how the industry should handle the "Big Six" E. coli in ground beef. But the proposal has been stalled within the Office of Management and Budget, which reviews most federal regulations before they are released. Details of the proposal are confidential, but many in the industry expect that the rules would require testing or even make it illegal to sell ground beef that contained the additional strains of toxic E. coli.
Representative Rosa L. DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, on Friday sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, decrying the delay and urging him to unilaterally declare any ground beef containing the six additional strains of toxic E. coli unfit for sale. Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, wrote last week to the Office of Management and Budget, asking it to act on the U.S.D.A. rules.
Just last month, many in the food industry said they were waiting to see what the government would do. But alarm over the German outbreak may be changing that.
"There's a lot of companies that don't want that repeated here in the United States," said James L. Marsden, a professor of food safety and security at Kansas State University.
This week, Beef Products, a large manufacturer of lean beef, an ingredient used to make hamburger meat, announced that it had started testing for the six additional strains of E. coli at one of its five grinding plants.
The company, based in South Dakota, said it would start tests in its four other plants as soon as it could get enough test kits from manufacturers, which are just beginning to produce them.
"For a little bit of extra cost, they can stay ahead of the food safety curve," said Gene Grabowski, a Beef Products spokesman.
The landscape is changing partly because tests created by U.S.D.A. scientists that can quickly pinpoint the presence in food of the "Big Six" E. coli are now being developed for commercial sale by test-kit companies. Some kits are already on the market.
DuPont Qualicon, which makes a kit used widely in the beef industry, said that by September it expected to begin selling an expanded version capable of detecting the six additional strains. The company is also working to develop a screening test for the German E. coli strain.
Costco has been using a preliminary version of the DuPont kit in its California plant to evaluate the test before requiring that its beef suppliers adopt it.
Amy Smith, technical and regulatory support leader of DuPont Qualicon, said several other companies had been using the preliminary kits as they went through similar evaluations.
"People are really gearing up," she said. "While they might not be running things routinely, they're getting ready for the fact that they might have to very soon." She said the company was working to develop a test for the European E. coli strain that could be added to its kits.
Each type of E. coli has different characteristics that make developing tests for rapid detection a challenge. Food companies have adopted many measures to rid their products of E. coli. Testing is used mainly to verify how well those steps are working.

2 Stevia Extracts Gain GRAS Affirmation
Source :
(July 18, 2011)
GLG Life Tech Corp. received its third GRAS "no objection" letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the use of its PureSTV¢ā and BlendSure¢ā stevia extracts in foods and beverages. The high-purity extracts both contain greater than 95% steviol glycosides.
RA (rebaudioside A) and STV (stevioside) are the two major components from the stevia plant, and the GLG R&D and production teams have been working on technologies and patents to produce both high-purity RA and STV stevia extracts since 2001. They found the combination of high-purity RA and STV together tastes better than either high-purity RA or high-purity STV on their own in many beverage and food applications.
"We have received the first Letter of No Objection of RA 97 in 2010 and this milestone marks the second and third Letters of No Objection that GLG has received from the FDA and it affirms our long-term commitment to provide our customers with the highest quality standards of stevia extracts in the United States and around the world," said GLC CEO and Chairman Dr. Luke Zhang. "I am very pleased that the three letters will allow our RA, STV and BlendSureTM to be utilized in many of our AN0CTM beverage and foods. We have found that the FDA GRAS standard is respected in many of our key international markets including China, and we will therefore be able to further leverage this major achievement in our international markets."

FSA Board rejects meat inspection proposal
Source :
By_ Rick Pendrous (18-Jul-2011)
Proposals to examine a move to a privatised system of third-party inspection of primary meat premises were rejected by the Food Standards Agency's (FSA's) Board early last week.
In its response to the Macdonald Farming Regulation Task Force Report and the 19 recommendations that related directly to the FSA, the Board agreed with all but one about setting up a group to consider the provision of meat inspection services by third parties.
However, members asked the FSA's executive to bring a report to its September meeting on the evidence and issues that would help determine when and whether such a group could be usefully convened.
Currently under existing regulations, meat inspections across the EU are strictly regulated. In the UK they are the responsibility of the FSA as the competent authority.
Monopoly situation
However, many in the meat industry argue that this monopoly situation is unnecessarily prescriptive and costly. There have been a number of recent calls for a change to EU law to enable a more risk-based approach to meat inspections.
The industry wants any revised meat inspection regime to be open to private third-party companies in a similar way to that operating in other high-risk sectors of the food manufacturing industry.
They argue this would substantially improve efficiency and reduce the high costs involved.
There is general consensus - within the FSA also - that a move to more risk-based inspections is desirable.
But the agency, unions representing meat inspectors and other consumer groups argue that the 'privatisation' of meat inspections would jeopardise food safety in high-risk meat production sectors.

Aeon Says Its Supermarkets Sold Radiation-Tainted Beef to Customers
Source :
By Norie Kuboyama ( Jul 16, 2011)
Aeon Co., Japan's biggest supermarket chain, said beef from cattle contaminated by radiation was sold to customers at 14 of its stores in Tokyo and four other prefectures.
The meat was from cattle in Fukushima that ate straw tainted with cesium exceeding government safety standards, according to an e-mailed statement by the Chiba prefecture-based retailer.
Aeon sold the beef from late-April through mid-June at stores in Tokyo, Ishikawa, Kanagawa, Chiba and Shizuoka prefectures. The retailer said it will safeguard customers' health by improving its system for checking beef for radioactive contamination.
Reports last week that contaminated beef entered Japan's food supply deepened concern about food safety prompted after Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant began emitting radiation. As many as 84 cattle that ate tainted straw were shipped to market, Fukushima prefecture said today in an e-mailed release.
Japan's government may ban beef shipments from Fukushima prefecture as early as July 19, according to reports in local media including the Mainichi newspaper.
Fukushima Beef
Fukushima is the 10th biggest cattle-producing region in Japan, representing 2.7 percent of the total. The nation exported 541,045 metric tons of beef worth 3.4 billion yen ($42.8 million) last year, including premium wagyu meat.
Cattle at a farm about 60 kilometers from the plant were fed with straw containing 97,000 becquerels per kilogram of cesium, compared with a government standard of 300 becquerels, Hidenori Ohtani, at the livestock division of the Fukushima prefectural government, said yesterday. Tests showed beef from that farm, which shipped 42 cattle to market, contained 650 becquerels of cesium per kilogram, exceeding the official standard of 500, said Kazuyuki Hashimoto at the food-monitoring division of the Tokyo government office.
Miyagi prefecture yesterday found about triple the safe levels of cesium in rice straw at cattle farms, the Asahi newspaper reported today. It asked farmers to refrain from shipping cattle that ate straw collected after March 11, the report said.
There's no centralized system to check for radioactive contamination of food in Japan as voluntary tests are conducted by prefectural governments in cooperation with local farmers.
The agriculture ministry is discussing with the health ministry and the Fukushima government if it is feasible to test all cattle in the prefecture for radiation to prevent the shipment of tainted meat to the market, Yasuo Sasaki, senior press counselor for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said yesterday in Tokyo.

Campylobacter main cause of food illness
Source :
By _Deborah Condon (Jul,17, 2011)
A new report has shown that Campylobacter is the number one bacterial cause of foodborne illness in Ireland, causing around four times more illness than Salmonella.
Campylobacter is primarily found in poultry and can cause acute gastroenteritis with diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fever. The illness usually lasts between two and five days.
According to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), in 2009, 1,808 cases of campylobacteriosis were reported and the provisional figure for 2010 is 1,666 cases.
However FSAI chief executive, Prof Alan Reilly, warned that there is probably 'substantial under-reporting' of the illness.
"These figures, in reality, could be considerably higher. What is particularly worrying is that we are seeing one to four-year-old Irish children having the highest incidence of the illness. There were 165 cases per 100,000 of the population within that age group reported in 2009," he noted.
The FSAI has published a scientific report highlighting the dangers of Campylobacter. It emphasises that similar to all bacteria found naturally on meat and poultry, the danger caused by this bacteria can be removed by cooking foods thoroughly and by preventing cross-contamination between raw meat and foods that are ready to eat.
The report points to European research which indicates that poor handling and preparation of chicken and the consumption of undercooked chicken meats accounts for almost one-third of all cases of campylobacteriosis.
The report makes a number of recommendations on this issue, including:
-The poultry industry should develop and implements its own voluntary code of practice based on recommended control measure
-Improve hygiene on farms
-Raw chicken should be packaged in leak-proof packaging
-Safe handling and cooking instructions should be clearly visible on labels or in butchers at the time of purchase
-Labels on whole chickens should advise consumers that washing the carcass should be avoided, as this can spread contamination around the kitchen.
"The current level of contamination of chicken with Campylobacter needs to be reduced to improve public health. The Irish poultry industry has been very effective in reducing Salmonella on poultry and now needs to make further improvements to address the Campylobacter problem," Prof Reilly insisted.
Meanwhile the FSAI is reminding caterers and consumers that poultry needs to be cooked thoroughly until the juices run clear and there is no pink meat remaining, while hand washing and disinfection of surfaces are essential after handling and preparing raw poultry.
It is also important that raw poultry does not come into contact with ready-to-eat foods during storage in the fridge or during preparation before cooking.
"When people are shopping they need to pack raw meat and poultry into a dedicated bag to keep it separate from other foods. They should only ever use that bag for raw meat and poultry and should wash and disinfect it regularly. This will prevent harmful bacteria from the outside of poultry and meat packaging from contaminating other foods," Prof Reilly added.

Really Bad Bugs and Food-Safety Concerns
Source :
By _Lynn Kuntz (July 15, 2011)
In between all the public shrieking about relatively innocuous health issues like consumption of high-fructose corn syrup or certified colors lurks a real health issue-pathogenic contamination of foods.
Last year, a multistate outbreak of Salmonella enteritidis associated with in-shell eggs resulted in about 2,000 illnesses and hundreds of millions of recalled eggs. In June, the spotlight was on Europe's struggle with an outbreak of a particularly virulent form of E. coli O104 that has, at last count, killed more than 50, and sickened more than 4,000, causing at least a quarter of those stricken to develop a life-threatening kidney complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome. After a month-long search, the source of the outbreak has been identified as fenugreek sprout seeds. What makes it worse is, "This is a brand-new strain that attaches in a new way, with a whole new toolkit to persist and infect," said one British microbiologist. Here in the United States, the CDC estimates that about 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases. The potential of gaining a few extra pounds or of little Johnny being extra bouncy pales in comparison.
Back in the Stone Age, when I studied food microbiology, botulism was food processors' main concern. In the ensuing years, we've discovered several new organisms of concern, witnessed the evolution of superbugs, like the above-mentioned E. coli, developed a food system that practically ensures widespread inoculation and developed a taste for foods that may be ticking time bombs. (Fresh and natural comes to mind, and raw milk tops my list.) Consumers are woefully ignorant of hygiene, and even if they weren't, Mother Nature doesn't make it easy. Pathogens can exceed 107 per gram of sprouts, for example, without adversely affecting product appearance, says the CDC. And only a couple of dozen cells in certain species can sicken us, rendering the 5-second rule microbiologically moot.
FDA's Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was enacted to address food-safety problems, strengthening FDA's powers to better enforce food safety. However, FDA only overlooks about 80% of our food; USDA controls meat, poultry and eggs. Funding is another issue. According to an FDA FAQ, "the inspection schedule in the legislation would increase the burden on FDA's inspection functions. Without additional funding, FDA will be challenged in implementing the legislation fully without compromising other key functions." In addition, FSMA exempts small food businesses, a move that makes financial, if not scientific sense. If bacterial pathogens have learned to read a balance sheet before taking up residence, it's news to me.
Because of the importance of food safety, Food Product Design has prepared a special digital issue that looks at some of the most-important issues facing the industry. In addition to FSMA, we look at things that might kill your customers-one of the top pathogens, and allergies-as well as the future of food safety. And we plan to bring you more in-depth reports as we investigate more issues that are critical to the food industry.

American food makers to revise standards on marketing to children
Proposed revisions do not represent major changes because two thirds of the products these manufacturers sell already meet the new standards, which are below nutritional standards proposed by U.S. regulators.
Source : food makers to revise standards on marketing to children
By_ Vittorio Hernandez(July 15, 2011)
A group of American food makers and restaurant chains said on Thursday they would revise their voluntary standards for items such as cereals, snacks, and other foods that are marketed to children. The aim of the revision is to reduce sugars, fats, and other ingredients considered unhealthy when taken in large amounts.
However, the proposed revisions do not represent major changes because two thirds of the products these manufacturers sell already meet the new standards, which are below nutritional standards proposed by U.S. regulators.
Washington wants to stop advertising of some types of food. One of them is crackers, which have too much saturated fat and salt, and is made of white flour.
Another industry proposal is to have more healthy food items on children's menus at restaurants, which like the first proposal have low standards that all restaurant chains are meeting.
The two proposals are part of the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative of food manufacturers and restaurant chains, which include Campbell, Burger King, McDonald's, Kraft Foods, Pepsi, and Kellogg.
The Sensible Food Policy Coalition is also mulling voluntary nutritional guidelines for food marketed to children in an attempt to counter proposed government moves. The coalition counts among its members the largest American foodmakers, fast food chains, and media companies.
The pressure to impose new standards is being made by public health experts because children do not have critical-thinking skills to understand advertising done through television, Web sites, toy freebies, and cartoon characters. The food and beverage industry spends $2 billion yearly on marketing food items directly to children.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group, viewed the industry proposals as strategies to pre-empt government regulation.

Outbreak: German Task Force's Final Report
Source :
by _Gretchen Goetz (Jul 21, 2011)
European health officials tested more than 10,000 samples of food but never found any contaminated with the deadly E. coli O104:H4 that has caused nearly 4,000 illnesses and at least 44 deaths in the outbreaks in France and Germany linked to Egyptian fenugreek sprouting seeds.
A final report from the EHEC Task Force of the German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) said "it is very difficult to detect low STEC (Shiga toxin-producing E. coli) contamination level in seeds and sprouts and there is no validated method."
"To find the source of the EHEC outbreak was very difficult," acknowledged Dr. Helmut Tschiersky-Sch?neburg, president of BVL, in an e-mailed statement to Food Safety News. "This was on the one hand due to the fact that EHEC bacteria have a very long incubation period, and on the other hand to the fact that sprouts have a very short shelf life."
The task force, assembled in early June after initial efforts to find the source of the outbreak were unsuccessful, said that with this lack of contaminated-product evidence, "The only way out [was to] intensify the investigation on tracing back and tracing forward."
As Bill Keene, senior epidemiologist at the Oregon Department of Health pointed out in an interview with Food Safety News last month, "Food testing, generally, and certainly in this case, can be extremely corroborative in supporting epidemiology if you get a positive result. If you get negative results, they essentially mean next to nothing. They don't rule it out, but they don't say anything."
Because testing couldn't provide a "smoking gun" in this case, experts had to rely on finding a pattern among what victims had eaten, and then figure out where that food had been distributed.
By June 3, the same day the Task Force was formed, the trail to sprout seeds was finally warming up. The Robert Koch Institute had identified five outbreak clusters -- groups of affected individuals -- and began detailed traceback interviews to identify common foods and supply chains. Ten days later the investigators had "41 well-described outbreak clusters." All were linked to a single sprout grower in northern Germany.
But which sprouts were the problem? The Bienenbuettel grower sold different types of sprouts and sprout mixtures. Based on case patient interviews and menu information, health authorities implicated two as the likely culprits - the "Milde Mishchung" and the "Wurzige Miischung," a mild mix and a spicy mix.
Only lentil sprouts and fenugreek sprouts were used in both those varieties, which narrowed the possibilities, but the lentil sprouts had also been used in other mixes that weren't suspect. Fenugreek sprouts were used only in the mild and spicy mixes.
Further, three farm workers who fell ill with E. coli infections had worked on the three days when the fenugreek seeds were being sprouted. The question then became whether these workers were exposed to E. coli from the seeds, or whether they contaminated the sprouts themselves.
The leading working hypothesis of the Task Force was that "the infection of the people is probably caused by the sprouts," according to the report. That theory was bolstered when cases of the outbreak strain of E. coli O104:H4 were identified in France and investigators discovered they'd been been served fenugreek sprouts. The seeds had come from a German importer, which had imported its seeds from Egypt. The task force investigators soon traced all the seeds involved in the outbreak to a single shipment from that country two years ago.
At this point, efforts turned toward a "detailed trace forward approach:" identifying where the seeds had been sold. According to the European Food Safety Authority, a total of 15,075 kg, or a little over 33,200 pounds of seeds, were distributed in Germany, the UK, Austria and Spain. Only 75 kg of this batch was sold to the German farm whose sprouts are linked to the majority of illnesses in the outbreak. The other 15,000 kg was divided among 16 other companies, which ultimately sold them to 70 more businesses.
While the shipment (lot 48088) has now been recalled, this wide network of distribution means that it will be a long time before all these seeds are tracked down. Many may have already been grown.
European authorities have put a ban on fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt, and have warned consumers against consuming raw sprouts.
Now, as the Task Force team report states, the remaining question is "What is the pathway of the contamination of the seeds?"
In the meantime, Europe is left to reflect on how it can improve its outbreak response system.
"The ... involved authorities worked with great dedication and skills to find the source of the outbreak," said Tschiersky-Sch?neburg. "However, things can always be done better. The task force had to type data of delivery orders and accounts into the analysis programme manually. This should be possible at the push of a button. I encourage producers and traders to establish the digital tracing of supply chains whenever it is possible."
Tschiersky-Sch?neburg also stressed the importance of tightening safety measures in food production and shipment because, as evidenced by this epidemic, the global supply chain is a complex one.
"Rules of hygiene have to be adhered to by producers as well as by traders," he says. "It is still unknown how Egyptian fenugreek seeds were contaminated with EHEC. But one thing is clear: in a globalised world food safety standards, have to be fulfilled everywhere."

If you Poisoned 241 5-year-olds, would you stop selling Salmonella Frogs?
Source :
by Bill Marler ( July 20, 2011)
This nationwide outbreak is ongoing. As of July 18, 2011, a total of 241 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 42 states since April 1, 2009. These infections are associated with African dwarf frogs-a type of water frog-and water from their habitats (e.g., tanks or aquariums). The number of ill person identified in each state is as follows: Alaska (5), Alabama (2), Arizona (10), California (21), Colorado (12), Connecticut (3), Florida (1), Georgia (4), Idaho (5), Illinois (10), Indiana (1), Kansas (3), Kentucky (4), Louisiana (3), Massachusetts (7), Maryland (5), Michigan (6), Minnesota (1), Missouri (5), Mississippi (1), Montana (2), North Carolina (1), Nebraska (2), New Hampshire (4), New Jersey (5), New Mexico (2), Nevada (4), New York (8), Ohio (7), Oklahoma (2), Oregon (5), Pennsylvania (17), Rhode Island (1), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (4), Texas (5), Utah (19), Virginia (11), Vermont (1), Washington (24), Wisconsin (4) and West Virginia (1).
Among persons for whom information is available, illnesses began April 9, 2009. Infected individuals range in age from less than 1 year old to 76 years old. Sixty-nine percent of patients are younger than 10 years, and the median age is 5 years old. Fifty-two percent of patients are female. Among ill persons, 30% were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
Epidemiologic, traceback and laboratory findings between 2009 and 2011 link this ongoing nationwide outbreak of human Salmonella Typhimurium infections to a single African dwarf frog breeding facility in Madera County, California, Blue Lobster Farms. The owner of Blue Lobster Farms voluntarily stopped shipping African dwarf frogs in late April but resumed shipping the frogs in early June. These frogs may be found in pet stores, educational stores, toy stores, fairs, carnivals, from online retailers and other venues.
Public health officials with the Madera County Department of Environmental Health are currently working with the owner of Blue Lobster Farms to conduct interventions and ongoing testing and monitoring of the frog breeding facility. At this time, the effectiveness of these interventions is unknown, and reports of ill persons infected with the outbreak strain are continuing.
CDC is warning parents that children under 5 years old are at high risk for serious Salmonella infections and should avoid contact with water frogs, their water and their habitats (e.g. tanks or aquariums). Others who are at high risk and who should avoid contact with water frogs, their water and their habitats include: pregnant women, people who have weak immune systems, such as cancer patients, and those undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplants.

Salmonella Prison Outbreak in Pennsylvania Sickens Hundreds
Source :
by David Babcock on July 15, 2011
On June 28, we reported here on news of a possible foodborne illness outbreak at the U.S. Penitentiary - Canann in Waymart, Pennsylvania. At the time, officials had not provided information on the infectious agent involved, and downplayed estimates of the number of people ill.
The AP reports today though that hundreds of inmates have been sickened with Salmonella, stating that the number of ill may be as high as 500.
Health officials in Pennsylvania are now confirming the outbreak, and the suspected cause:
The Health Department's director of communications, Christine Cronkright, tells The Associated Press that most of those sickened at the U.S. Penitentiary-Canaan in Waymart reported eating chicken fajitas last month.Cronkright says a federal inspector is on his way to the facility, and that the prison's food service facility has been shut down pending cleaning and inspection.
Marler Clark has been contacted by a number of families of impacted inmates, and is currently investigating.

Tucker Adkins Dairy Raw Milk Linked to Campylobacter Illnesses
Source :
by _Bill Marler (July 17, 2011)
The FDA is working with officials in North Carolina and South Carolina to investigate an outbreak of campylobacteriosis in three people who consumed raw milk from Tucker Adkins Dairy in York, S.C. The three confirmed cases and another five probable cases are from three different households and each case reports that prior to becoming ill they consumed raw milk that was obtained from Tucker Adkins Dairy on June 14, 2011. The onset of illness in these cases occurred in mid June. One person was hospitalized.
Raw milk is sometimes distributed in North Carolina via independent or informal "milk clubs," though it may be distributed through other means as well. The cases in this investigation report receiving raw milk twice a month from a courier who delivered the milk from South Carolina.
Since 1987, the FDA has required all milk packaged for human consumption to be pasteurized before being delivered for introduction into interstate commerce. Pasteurization, a process that heats milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time, kills bacteria responsible for diseases, such as listeriosis, salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, diphtheria and brucellosis. FDA's pasteurization requirement also applies to other milk products, with the exception of a few aged cheeses.
For more information about raw milk, visit Real Raw Milk Facts.

Another 41 Cases Added to EU Outbreak Toll
Soource :
By_ News Desk (Jul 16, 2011)
Another 41 confirmed or probable cases of E. coli O104:H4 infection were counted in Europe Friday, increasing the outbreak toll to 3,908, including 765 with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported that three previously counted deaths have been subtracted from the total, lowering it to 41 fatalities.
The World Health Organization's outbreak tally differs from that of the ECDC. WHO counts 53 deaths and more than 4,000 illnesses in 14 European countries, the United States and Canada -- with more than 3,900 infections in Germany.
The outbreak continues to wind down, with the last known date of illness onset July 8, the ECDC said.
The organic farm in Bienenb?ttel that sprouted the Egyptian fenugreek seeds implicated as the source of the outbreak in Germany had threatened a lawsuit to allow its operations to resume, according to Deutsche-Press Agentur. Local authorities removed all fenugreek seeds from the sprout farm and this week cleared it to reopen.

International Conference for
Food Safety and Quality

November 8-9, 2011
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

20% Registration fee off by 8/31

Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Conference Place: Holiday Inn (Conference Room)

7:00 - 8:30 Registration and Breakfast (Juice, Tea, Coffee) and Poster Display
(***Exhibitors displaying time : 7:00-9:00 AM***)

8:40 - 9:00 Opening Announcement

Section A. Importance of Detection Methods for Food Safety and Quality

9:00 - 9:50 - The Importance of detection methods for food safety and quality

Michael Doyle
University of Georgia

9:50 - 10:40 - Advanced Detection methods for food safety and quality

Mansel Griffiths
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 Room)

Section B. Detection methods for Food Allergen Residues

1:00 - 1:50 - Detection of Food Allergen Residues in Processed Foods and Food Processing Facilities

Stephen Taylor
University of Nebraska
Director - Food Allergy Research and Resource Program

1:50 - 2:20 - Rapid Testing for Allergen Control Programs
Presentation by Ryan Waters
Charm Science

2:20 - 2:30 - Break / Visit Companies' Booth

Section C. Molecular/Immunoassay methods for Detection of Microbiological and Chemical hazards

2:30 - 3:10 - Costco Way for Food Safety and Quality

Robin Forgey
Food Safety Quality Manager

3:10 - 3:50 -
Novel biosensor technologies for high throughput screening of pathogens and toxins

A. Bhurnia
Professor, Purdue University


3:50 - 4:10- Innovative detection methods with immunoassay based method
Presented by SDI

4:10 -4:30 - Novel nucleic acid testing methods for industrial applications
Presented by Roka Bioscience

4:30 - 5:30 - Panel Discussion (All key speakers will be joined)

Stan Bailey
2008 IAFP President, bioMerieux

- Adjourn

Wed. November 9, 2011
Conference Place: Holiday Inn (Conference Room)

7:00 - 8:30 Registration and Breakfast (Juice, Tea, Coffee) and Poster Display
8:40 - 9:00 Poster Competition Award

Section D. Importance of conventional/biochemical detection methods for Food safety and Quality

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

P.C. Vasavada
Director of Rapid Methods and Automation in Microbiology Workshop (UW)
Professor, University of Wisconsin

10:20 - 10:40 - Coffee Break in Exhibitors' Section

10:40 - 10:50 - Presentation Title from Company presentation


11:00 - 11:30 - New demands for Rapid and Automative Detection Methods for Food Safety

Stan Bailey
2008 IAFP President, bioMerieux


11:30 - 12:00 - Rapid methods for monitoring microbial numbers for food industries

Gregory Siragusa
Senior Principal Scientist
Danisco USA


12:00 -12:20 - Innovative methods for detection of microbiological/chemical hazards for food safety

Dupont Qualicon

12:20 - 1:30
- Lunch buffet will be supported (Holiday Inn, Dinning Room)

Section E. Impacts of Advanced/Conventional Detection methods on Food Industries

1:30 - 2:10 - Impact of detection methods for food industries

Robert Koeritzer
2006 AOAC President

2:10 - 2:30 - Application of several detection methods for Food industries


2:30 - 2:40 - Coffee Break in Exhibitors' Section

2:40 - 3:10 - The importance of detection procedures for food safety by 3rd party

Erdogan Ceylan
Director, Silliker

3:10 - 4:00 Application of Rapid Methods for Food Industries

Paul Hall
IAFP President (2004)
President, AIV Consulting LLC.

4:00 - 4:30 - Attendees' Certificate / Adjourn

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