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In the middle of a Listeria Cantaloupe Outbreak what do you need to know?
Source :
By_ Bill Marler on (Sep 17, 2011)
Listeria monocytogenes:
(Listeria) is a foodborne disease-causing bacteria; the disease is called listeriosis. Listeria can invade the body through a normal and intact gastrointestinal tract. Once in the body, Listeria can travel through the blood stream but the bacteria are often found inside cells. Listeria also produces toxins that damage cells. Listeria invades and grows best in the central nervous system among immune compromised persons, causing meningitis and/or encephalitis (brain infection). In pregnant women, the fetus can become infected, leading to spontaneous abortion, stillbirths, or sepsis (blood infection) in infancy.??Approximately 2,500 cases of listeriosis are estimated to occur in the U.S. each year. About 200 in every 1000 cases result in death. Certain groups of individuals are at greater risk for listeriosis, including pregnant women (and their unborn children) and immunocompromised persons. Among infants, listeriosis occurs when the infection is transmitted from the mother, either through the placenta or during the birthing process. These host factors, along with the amount of bacteria ingested and the virulence of the strain, determine the risk of disease. Human cases of listeriosis are, for the most part, sporadic and treatable. Nonetheless, Listeria remains an important threat to public health, especially among those most susceptible to this disease. Listeria is often isolated in cattle, sheep, and fowl, and is also found in dairy products, fruits, and vegetables.
Symptoms of Listeria Infection:
It is thought that ingestion of as few as 1,000 cells of Listeria bacteria can result in illness. After ingestion of food contaminated with Listeria, incubation periods (from time of exposure to onset of illness) are in the range of one to eight weeks, averaging about 31 days. Five days to three weeks after ingestion, Listeria has access to all body areas and may involve the central nervous system, heart, eyes, or other locations.??A person with listeriosis usually has fever, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, loss of balance, confusion, obtundation (decreased consciousness) or convulsions can occur. With brain involvement, listeriosis may mimic a stroke. Infected pregnant women will ordinarily experience only a mild, flu-like illness; however, infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth. Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis; about one-third of listeriosis cases happen during pregnancy. The incidence of listeriosis in the newborn is 8.6 cases per 100,000 live births. The perinatal and neonatal mortality rate (stillbirths and early infant deaths) from listeriosis is 80%.
Diagnosis and treatment of Listeria Infection:
If you have symptoms of listeriosis, a health care provider can have a blood or spinal fluid test done to detect the infection. During pregnancy, a blood test is the most reliable way to find out if your symptoms are due to listeriosis. If you are in a high-risk group, have eaten the contaminated product, and within 2 months become ill with fever or signs of serious illness, you should contact your health care provider and inform him or her about this exposure.??There are several antibiotics with which Listeria may be treated. When infection occurs during pregnancy, antibiotics given promptly to the pregnant woman can often prevent infection of the fetus. Babies with listeriosis receive the same antibiotics as adults, although a combination of antibiotics is often used until physicians are certain of the diagnosis.
Preventing Listeria Infection:
General recommendations include: thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources; keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables and from cooked and ready-to-eat foods; avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk; wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods; wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating; and consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible.??Recommendations for persons at high risk, such as pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems, in addition to the recommendations listed above, include: do not eat hot dogs, luncheon or deli meats, unless they are reheated until steaming hot, and wash hands after handling those products; do not eat soft cheeses (such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or Mexican-style cheese), unless they have labels that clearly state they are made from pasteurized milk; and do not eat meat spreads or smoked seafood from the refrigerated or deli section of the store (canned or shelf-stable products may be eaten).

Death toll in cantaloupe outbreak rises to 8
Source :
By_ MARY CLARE JALONICK (Sep 21, 2011)
The death toll has risen to eight in an outbreak of listeria traced to Colorado-grown cantaloupes, officials said Wednesday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that a person in Maryland died from eating the tainted produce. Four deaths have been reported in New Mexico and two in Colorado, and one person has died in Oklahoma.
The CDC said 55 people in 14 states have now been confirmed as sickened from eating the cantaloupes. On Monday, the CDC reported four deaths and 35 illnesses in 10 states. The death count - the highest in a known food outbreak since tainted peanuts were linked to nine deaths almost three years ago - could go even higher. The CDC said illnesses in several other states potentially connected to the outbreak were under investigation.
The illnesses have been reported in California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Colorado has the most illnesses with 14 sickened, followed by New Mexico with 10, Texas with nine and Oklahoma with eight.
The outbreak has been traced to cantaloupes from Jensen Farms in Holly, Colo., which recalled the tainted produce last week. The Food and Drug Administration said Monday that it had found listeria in samples of Jensen Farms' cantaloupes taken from a Denver-area store and on samples taken from equipment and cantaloupes at the farm's packing facility. Tests confirmed that the samples matched strains of the disease found in those sickened.
Jensen Farms said the recalled Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes were shipped from July 29 through Sept. 10 to Illinois, Wyoming, Tennessee, Utah, Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, Kansas, New Mexico, North Carolina, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. The FDA said it is possible the company distributed to other states as well.
The recalled cantaloupe may be labeled "Colorado Grown," "Distributed by Frontera Produce," "" or "Sweet Rocky Fords." Not all of the recalled cantaloupes are labeled with a sticker, the FDA said.
In a statement, Jensen Farms said: "We are deeply saddened to learn that cantaloupes grown on our farm have been linked to the current listeria outbreak. Our hearts go out to those individuals and their families who have been affected by this terrible situation." The company said it has hired an independent food safety expert to help determine the cause of the problem and how to address it.
Health officials have said they think the number of illnesses and deaths could continue to grow because the incubation period for listeria can be up to a month. Unlike many pathogens, listeria bacteria can grow at room and refrigerator temperatures. The FDA and CDC recommend anyone who may have one of the contaminated cantaloupes throw it out immediately.
About 800 cases of listeria are found in the United States each year, according to CDC, and there usually are three or four outbreaks. Most of these are traced to deli meat and soft cheeses, where listeria is most common.
Produce has rarely been the culprit, but federal investigators say they have seen more produce-related listeria illnesses in the past two years. It was found in sprouts in 2009 and celery in 2010.
While most healthy adults can consume listeria with no ill effects, it can kill the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. It is also dangerous to pregnant women because it easily passes through to the fetus. In the current outbreak, the median age of those sickened is 78, according to the CDC.
Symptoms of listeria include fever and muscle aches, often with other gastrointestinal symptoms.

CDC: Listeria Outbreak - 35 ill, 4 dead in California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia - I think it is 50 ill, 7 dead with Missouri, Wyoming and Kansas too
Source :
By_ Bill Marler (Sep 19, 2011)
The CDC just reported that a total of 35 persons infected with the outbreak-associated strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 10 states. All illnesses started on or after August 4, 2011. The number of infected persons identified in each state is as follows: California (1), Colorado (12), Illinois (1), Indiana (1), Montana (1), Nebraska (4), New Mexico (5), Oklahoma (6), Texas (3), and West Virginia (1). Four deaths have been reported, one in Colorado, one in Oklahoma, and two in New Mexico.
Collaborative investigative efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies have linked this outbreak to eating whole cantaloupe from Jensen Farms, of Holly, Colorado.
On September 14, 2011, FDA issued a press release to announce that Jensen Farms issued a voluntary recall of Rocky Ford Cantaloupe because the cantaloupes have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria and may be linked to a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis. Today, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it found Listeria monocytogenes in samples of Jensen Farms¡¯ Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupe taken from a Denver-area store and on samples taken from equipment and cantaloupe at the Jensen Farms¡¯ packing facility. Tests confirmed that the Listeria monocytogenes found in the samples matches one of the three different strains of Listeria monocytogenes associated with the multi-state outbreak of listeriosis.
CDC recommends that persons at high risk for listeriosis, including older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women, do not eat Rocky Ford cantaloupes from Jensen Farms. Other consumers who want to reduce their risk of Listeria infection should not eat Rocky Ford cantaloupes from Jensen Farms.
I have slightly different numbers - "7 Deaths, 49 Illnesses Likely Linked to Listeria Cantaloupe." I am sure that over the next weeks the CDC's and my numbers will get closer.

Del Monte Fresh Produce Resists Safety Regulations
Source :
By_ WILLIAM NEUMAN ( Sep 21, 2011)
When health investigators identified imported cantaloupes as the source of a salmonella outbreak early this year, the importer agreed to a recall. But now that company, Del Monte Fresh Produce, is trying to block additional restrictions on melon imports, setting off an unusually public battle between the produce industry and food safety regulators.
The company, which is one of the country¡¯s largest produce marketers, says the restrictions could damage its reputation, and it has sued the Food and Drug Administration to lift them. The effort is being cheered by many in the produce industry, who often complain about what they call overreaching by regulators and welcome a company with resources pushing back.
But advocates of safe food said that it was extremely rare for a major food company to take such a publicly aggressive stance, and that they suspected Del Monte Fresh Produce was trying to bully regulators into thinking twice before pursuing recalls in the future. Aside from suing the F.D.A., the company has threatened legal action against a leading state food-borne disease investigator in Oregon, where the Del Monte cantaloupes were identified as the cause of the salmonella outbreak. And it has challenged some of the basic techniques of food safety investigations, like relying on ill people¡¯s memories of what they ate when microbiological testing does not find pathogens on food.
¡°This clearly looks like an attempt to intimidate state level investigators,¡± said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group. ¡°The chilling effect is real, and it could have serious implications for consumers who may be exposed to more tainted products because of delays in announcing the results of these epidemiologic investigations.¡± An executive of Del Monte Fresh Produce said that its melons did not make anyone sick and that the purpose of the lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Maryland last month, was to improve food safety by pointing out flaws in the way some investigations were handled. ¡°It¡¯s got to be a comprehensive and reliable investigation, and in our opinion this was neither,¡± said Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing for Del Monte Fresh Produce, which is based in Coral Gables, Fla. ¡°There¡¯s absolutely no basis in the claim that this was done intentionally to intimidate or bully anyone.¡±
The company said Wednesday that it was in talks with the F.D.A. to resolve the dispute and expected an agreement soon.
Many in the produce industry, which has been buffeted by recalls for items as diverse as spinach, peppers and papayas, are quietly rooting for the company. ¡°In this particular case, the F.D.A. took on an adversary that has some ability to stand up and say, ¡®We¡¯re not going to be treated this way,¡¯ ¡± said Jim Prevor, editor in chief of Produce Business, a trade magazine. The dispute is not related to the current recall of Rocky Ford cantaloupes grown in Colorado, which have caused a deadly listeria outbreak. The Del Monte Fresh Produce tussle began in February when people in several states began to fall ill with a rare bacterium known as salmonella Panama, which can cause severe diarrhea. Eventually, at least 20 people were sickened in 10 states. State public health investigators soon discovered that many of the victims had eaten cantaloupe bought at Costco, the large warehouse retailer.
Using data from Costco membership cards, they found that the melons came from one farm in Guatemala, called Asuncion Mita, owned by Del Monte Fresh Produce. The early investigation involved 13 cases of illness, and officials found that at least 12 of them had a clear link to cantaloupes from Asuncion Mita, a very high correlation.
The investigators, working with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the F.D.A., asked Del Monte Fresh Produce for a recall, following the usual procedure. The company at first resisted but, according to its lawsuit, eventually agreed to a limited recall to prevent the F.D.A. from issuing a broad warning about contaminated melons that could have affected the entire cantaloupe market. The recall was announced on March 22.
But in mid-July the F.D.A. issued an import alert, saying that the conditions that caused the contamination might still exist on the Asuncion Mita farm. The alert allowed inspectors to stop cantaloupes grown on the farm from entering this country.
Del Monte Fresh Produce fired back, filing its lawsuit and accusing federal and state inspectors of conducting a slipshod investigation. And it questioned the validity of the results because investigators had not found a cantaloupe contaminated with the bacteria that had made people sick.
It also wrote to the State of Oregon, saying it was considering a lawsuit against the state public health division and its senior epidemiologist, Dr. William E. Keene, who had helped lead the cantaloupe investigation. In addition it filed a complaint against Dr. Keene with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. The state filings charged that Dr. Keene had defamed the company by identifying its melons as the cause of the outbreak.
Oregon state officials said that neither they nor Dr. Keene would discuss the legal action. The ethics commission, however, wrote to Del Monte Fresh Produce last week saying it did not have jurisdiction over the issues the company had raised. An F.D.A. spokeswoman said the agency did not comment on pending litigation.
Public health specialists said that the evidence implicating Del Monte Fresh Produce cantaloupes was very strong. ¡°There¡¯s no doubt the data are very tight,¡± said Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. ¡°Del Monte caused that outbreak.¡± And he said that many investigations involving sickness from produce did not find contaminated food because by the time officials became aware of the outbreak, the tainted produce had been eaten or discarded. The company¡¯s filings include an audit report of the Guatemala farm, submitted to the F.D.A. last month, which raises questions about the company¡¯s practices.
The audit, done by a company hired by Del Monte Fresh Produce, found that a pipe containing raw sewage and wastewater emptied into an open ditch about 110 yards from the farm¡¯s packing house. The ditch led into a lagoon containing additional sewage, more than 220 yards from the packing house. The audit recommended that the ditch be eliminated.
Mr. Christou said the ditch was protected by barbed wire to keep large animals from tracking the waste into fields. He said the lagoon contained chemicals to speed decomposition of the waste and was away from fields and wells. After the audit, he said, the company extended the pipe all the way to the lagoon and discontinued use of the open ditch.
Asked if having raw sewage in an open ditch near its packing house was consistent with high food safety standards, Mr. Christou said that tests on melons had found no pathogens.

High Levels of BPA Found in Campbell's and Other Canned Kids Foods
Source :
By_ Lori Zimmer, 09/21/11
An alarming recent study has revealed the presence of BPA in popular canned food for kids, including Campbell¡¯s Disney Princess and Toy Story Soups, which tested highest. BPA, which is present in the can¡¯s linings and can be leeched into food, can cause serious health effects. In reaction to the findings, the Breast Cancer Fund is launching a campaign called ¡°Cans Not Cancer,¡± to urge companies to eliminate BPA from their canning process. Read on to see which canned kids foods are the biggest BPA offenders.
Although we¡¯d hope that children across America are eating fresh, whole foods, the reality is most busy parents and babysitters turn to canned foods, as time and money permits. What¡¯s alarming is the amount of canned soups, pastas or vegetables that a child eats in a week. If each one contains BPA, that can be very dangerous to their little bodies.
BPA, or bisphenol A, is an estrogenic chemical linked to breast cancer in adults. Studies suggest that repeated exposure may also cause prostate cancer, early puberty in girls, type-2 diabetes, obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). What¡¯s more, early exposure is especially dangerous to children¡¯s developing endocrine systems.
The canned foods that are of particular concern, with high levels of BPA measured in parts per billion (ppb) are:
Campbell¡¯s Disney Princess Cool Shapes, Shaped Pasta with Chicken in Chicken Broth 114 ppb
Campbell¡¯s Toy Story Fun Shapes, Shaped Pasta with Chicken in Chicken Broth 81 ppb
Earth¡¯s Best Organic Elmo Noodlemania Soup, USDA Organic 38 ppb
Annie¡¯s Homegrown Cheesy Ravioli, USDA Organic 31 ppb
Chef Boyardee Whole Grain Pasta, Mini ABC¡¯s & 123¡Çs with Meatballs 20 ppb
Campbell¡¯s Spaghettios with Meatballs 13 ppb
The Breast Cancer Fund¡¯s campaign is urging companies to opt for BPA-free can liners, which many companies have already done. For families on a budget and dealing with time constraints, the campaign suggests switching to dry or frozen pastas, soups and macaroni and cheese rather than canned versions.

Food safety violations at grocery store
Source : By_ Misti Crane (Sep 21, 2011) According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Columbus Board of Health yesterday stopped short of closing the Frebis Food Center for repeated serious violations, many involving meat kept at improper, dangerously high temperatures. Instead, the board said that owner Nick Saleh may not sell meat unless he makes significant changes at the 1505 Frebis Ave. store. The food-safety staff said it had recommended closure because of long-standing problems that posed a threat to public health. "It shouldn't take the Health Department to come in there to point out that they needed to throw this meat out," said environmental health administrator Keith Krinn. "We're exasperated at this establishment." But board members said they wanted to give Saleh a shot at keeping his grocery open. "Our first obligation is to the public," said Dr. Augustus Parker?III, a board member. "But we don't want to be in the business of shutting down businesses. ¡¦ We're giving you an opportunity." Saleh, the store owner for 25?years, said that ending meat sales will decimate his business, which offers low-cost meat in a low-income part of Columbus. "I don't have any choice but to keep working with the health board," Saleh said after the meeting. The store will continue to have frequent inspections in addition to being prohibited from selling meat.

8 Suffered Respiratory Failure from Tapenade
Source :
By foodsafeguru (Sep 12, 2011)
In an article in today's, there is a French botulism alert in the United States. The international alert over botulism-contaminated food from France spread to the U.S. over the weekend as federal authorities warned consumers not to eat tapenade made by the company La Ruche. Food safety officials Saturday issued an alert over the spreadable tomato paste made by La Ruche after similar warnings had been posted in both France and the UK. The firm's brands 'Les delices de Marie-Claire','Terre de Mistral' and 'Les Secrets d'Anais', have all tested positive for botulism. Eight adults are currently suffering from respiratory failure as a result of eating foods containing the neurotoxin produced by Clostridium botulinum, said the FDA. The body said the products were a "severe threat to human health" and should be disposed of immediately. Anyone who consumed the products should seek immediate medical help. But officials said there was no indication that any of these products had entered the U.S. Botulism can be fatal due to respiratory failure. Classic symptoms include impaired vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness.

Supermarket Survey Confirms Low BPA Levels in Packaged Food
Source : By_ Michelle Lancaster (Sep 21, 2011)
Today's supermarket survey of a handful of canned food products by the Breast Cancer Fund offers further confirmation that only a very small amount of bisphenol A (BPA) is found in food packaging, and those levels are well within the safety recommendations of government agencies This latest small sample survey provides no new scientific evidence regarding the safety of BPA once it enters the human body. Of much greater relevance to those concerned about BPA exposure are the findings of a recent government study conducted by a team of scientists from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. This comprehensive, first-of-its-kind clinical exposure study, funded entirely by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), offers definitive evidence that even the highest exposure levels of BPA from canned foods and beverages did not lead to detectable amounts in the human blood stream. "The EPA-funded study emphatically showed there is not a health risk from BPA exposure in canned foods because of how the body processes and eliminates the compound from the body, in children as well as adults," said Dr. John M. Rost, Chairman of the North American Metal Packaging Alliance, Inc. (NAMPA).
"Unlike the supermarket survey, the EPA study examined what happens to BPA once in the body, and found that the human body is remarkably efficient in metabolizing and eliminating the chemical through urine. In sum, it is very unlikely that BPA could cause health effects." "The BPA exposure levels cited in this latest supermarket survey are very consistent with similar, but much broader surveys of packaged food conducted within the past year by government agencies, including the FDA and Health Canada," continued Dr. Rost. "The only difference is in the conclusions reached. Based on their survey results, both FDA and Health Canada concluded that current exposure through canned foods does not pose a health risk to consumers, including newborns and infants." For more information on the Health Canada assessment, please visit: For a review of the EPA-funded serum study, please visit:

EFSA chief warns EU vulnerable to food safety threats
Source :
By_ Ben Bouckley (Sep 21, 2011)
The European Union (EU) is particularly susceptible to food safety threats, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) executive director Catherine Geslain-Laneelle has warned. Speaking in Berlin recently on 'Food Safety in Europe: Status Quo and Future Prospects', at the Asia-Pacific Weeks business and science programme, Geslain-Laneelle said: "Europe is the biggest global trader in food products and the openness of the European market leaves us particularly vulnerable to food safety threats." A single food product could contain ingredients from across the world, Geslain-Laneelle said, many of which were produced to non-European standards. She added:"We must therefore remain constantly vigilant to threats, and if possible predict and intervene before they impact on our food supply." Early risk identification to protect the food chain was key, she said, pointing to the "recent and tragic E.coli outbreaks in Europe that showed there was "never any room for complacency in relation to food safety", in light of the global supply chain.
German E.coli response praised Despite some industry criticism of the German authorities' response to the spring E.coli crisis, Geslain-Laneelle praised staff at the nation's Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) and Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BFR). She said their "commitment and co-operation" during the German outbreak showed the importance of close relations between EFSA and national bodies to ensure a co-ordinated response to food safety emergencies. Geslain-Laneelle reminded her listeners of EFSA's "raison d'etre" on its foundation in 2002, following scandals relating to dioxin-tainted feed and BSE in the 1990's. "Namely, a science-based approach to policy and the formal separation of risk assessment from risk management," she said. Emerging technologies EFSA had a duty to provide scientific evidence enabling consumer and environmental protection and to communicate on risk to a wide range of stakeholders, Geslain-Laneelle said. "EFSA is increasingly called upon to assess risks to the environment ? for example of GMOs ? and to assess efficacy or benefit for either public health or the environment, such as our work on pesticides," she added. "This work is important from the perspective of the sustainability of the food chain and ensuring that innovation brings real benefits to society."
Emerging technologies such as GMOs and nanoscience also meant there was a growing need for EFSA to consult with stakeholders, Geslain-Laneelle said. EFSA's recently established Stakeholder Consultive Group on Emerging Risks (which includes food firms, processors, retailers, consumer groups and NGOs), was a valuable source of data to identify emerging risks, she added.

MEP urges food researchers to keep consumers up-to-date on safety
Source :
By _Joe Dermody (Sep21, 2011)
RESEARCHERS must view keeping consumers up to speed on food safety advances as a key part of their work, warned MEP Mairead McGuinness. Addressing the European Commission's What's For Lunch conference in Brussels, the Ireland East MEP urged all researchers not to neglect the pressing need to keep consumers informed rather than treat them as "food zombies" in matters relating to food safety and traceability.
Ms McGuinness highlighted the need for public funding of research to continue in order to provide consumers with confidence. "The EU is funding important research but that must be matched by a focus on implementing research findings," she said. "The knowledge of the lab and research facilities needs to be carried through into practical application, which can benefit industry and consumers. "While research plays a key role in eliminating risks from the food supply chain, we must give consumers knowledge about food, and issues relating to food safety. Knowledge is power and better informed consumers can be part of the drive for safer food by eliminating risks around food storage and handling in the home." Ms McGuinness praised the involvement of Irish researchers in EU-funded projects on food trace-ability and quality. She stressed that findings must be implemented, noting that the research carried out under Framework Programme 6 could enhance the EU's response to food safety scares. "Teagasc researchers have been involved in major research projects which will benefit the consumer and the food industry, not least in relation to beef through the prosafebeef project, which involved collab-oration between EU member states and researchers in Australia, Brazil and Canada. "In the aftermath of the BSE crisis the EU now has the most robust food chain traceability systems globally," Ms McGuinness said. "This is based on research carried out under the Commission's Framework Programme and the existence of the independent European Food Safety Authority. The EU has given the lead to other global players on food safety and much of our legislation is used as a model for others to follow."

Cantaloupes and Salmonella ? Canadian Version
Source :
By_ Doug Powell (Sep 20, 2011)
The always helpful Canadian Food Inspection Agency warned the public this morning not to eat cantaloupes sold from Food Basics, located at 2452 Sheppard Ave. E., North York (that's near Toronto), Ontario on September 12, 2011 because they may be contaminated with Salmonella. No word on where the cantaloupes originated, why the warning was issued, if there was a positive Salmonella test, or who did the testing. Even more helpful, the affected cantaloupes were sold unwrapped. There is no lot code sticker, UPC or product name on the individual cantaloupes. The retailer, Metro Ontario Inc, Etobicoke, Ontario, is voluntarily recalling the affected product from the marketplace.

Listeria research forces bacteria to jump hurdles
Source :
By_ Ben Bouckley (Sep 20, 2011)
A new research project is underway at Campden BRI aimed at using ¡®hurdle technology¡¯ to help food firms manufacture products with less susceptibility to listeria
The microbiologist managing the project at the UK-based food research organisation, Greg Jones, said in a company podcast that the bacteria was a growing problem in Europe.
¡°The issue here is that listeria is on the rise. Particularly in Europe, we¡¯re seeing more and more cases of listeria,¡± Jones said.
¡°And manufacturers are under pressure to remove inhibitory compounds from their products such as salt and preservatives in a bid for healthier and clean-label type products,¡± he added.
Sub-lethal stresses
Jones defined hurdle technology as ¡°the application of a series of sub-lethal stresses to a food product¡±, to discover exactly what combinations of sub-lethal stress were inhibitory to listeria microflora.
According to the Campden BRI: ¡°Previous work has shown that if different stress factors are applied to bacteria, the order in which they are applied will determine the potential for bacterial survival or death during subsequent storage.¡± Campden BRI¡¯s 3-year research programme ? now underway for six months with first results expected at the year¡¯s end ? will examine a range of stresses used in hurdle technology, such as storage temperature, pH, salt, heat, process and preservatives.
Said Jones: ¡°So you may add a little bit of salt, you might then chill the product. The combination of those two stresses might be enough to prevent the growth of listeria, whereas any one of those is not enough.¡±
Scientists at Campden BRI were using a broth-based system, Jones said, and analysing thousands of broths with different combinations of stresses in them to gather ¡°growth or no-growth data¡± on listeria from each.
He said:¡°Then we can narrow that down and look at the order of the application of the stress, and also at exactly what levels of salt, for example, are going to be sub-lethal in combination with another stress.¡±
Cross-protection issue
Jones explained that the research would also examine "cross-protection", whereby one inhibitory hurdle might potentially protect listeria cells against other stresses.
¡°If a sub-lethal stress is applied then sometimes you get cross-protection to a second stress, sometimes you don¡¯t,¡± he said.
"The way to figure that out is to look at a molecule called SigmaB in listeria. If cross-protection is going to happen SigmaB is produced, if it is not then it is not produced."
Jones added: ¡°If we can find out which stresses make this molecule appear, we can predict that cross protection is either likely or unlikely to happen in response to a given sub-lethal stress.¡±

New US lab trains global scientists in food safety
Source :
By_AFP(Sep 20, 2011)
Global food trade is a big and risky business.
About one trillion dollars worth of food is traded every year around the world, but only a tiny portion gets tested for contaminants - ranging from about one percent of imports in the United States to about 10 percent in Japan.And yet, at least 1.8 million people die from diarrheal disease caused by contaminated food or water annually, and "developing countries bear the brunt of the problem," according to the World Health Organization.
Considering the high costs of an outbreak - both in human lives and in money lost - world governments are searching for ways to improve food safety without actually boosting their surveillance of what enters their borders.
A new approach to the dilemma was unveiled last week at a university campus on the outskirts of the US capital, at a facility called the International Food Safety Training Laboratory.
The IFSTL is based in a handful of rooms on the campus of the University of Maryland where US government regulators and teachers equipped with advanced testing technologies train international scientists in the US food safety.Lab manager Janie DuBois said it is the first lab of its kind in the world to tackle a variety of techniques year round, ranging from pesticide residue to microtoxins and bacterial pathogens like salmonella and E.coli."Everybody wants to know what the regulation is and understand how they are supposed to implement their scientific program to meet that regulation," DuBois said.
"The United States is not imposing its methods on other countries," she added. "There is really a grander goal of harmonization of techniques."
Such practices are needed because food imports into the United States have nearly doubled in the past decade, up from $41 billion annually in 1998 to $78 billion in 2007, according to US Department of Agriculture figures.
While deadly outbreaks - such as the recent spread of E.coli in Germany and France that was traced to contaminated Egyptian fenugreek - grab headlines and rattle consumers, the IFSTL was not created in response to any particular scare.
Instead, it was a change to US law, known as the Food Safety and Modernization Act, signed by President Barack Obama. The law requires the US government to "expand the technical, scientific and regulatory food safety of foreign governments, and their respective food industries, from which foods are exported to the United States." So now, for a cost of about $2,500 per week per student, governments and private businesses can send their food safety scientists to the US lab for hands-on training.
"We learned many things here we didn't know before," said Jackie Han, a Chinese food additives testing supervisor at Qingdao Hr-Qau Inspection Limited, who donned a white lab coat and spoke to AFP during a break in between sessions this week.
"There is not much information in China so we come out here to get the real thing," said Han, who was among about a dozen visiting students from China and Indonesia making up the lab's first-ever class.
"Our goal is to be the bridge between China and the foreign countries, between the food exporters and importers." It may be good business for China, which is rapidly increasing its US exports, to show its interest in keeping food safe, but it is also economical for the United States, which in turn can limit the burden on US inspectors. To act otherwise when up to 60 percent of produce and 80 percent of seafood consumed in the United States comes from other countries, would be too expensive, said Paul Young, director of chemical analysis operations at Waters Corporation. "Testing at import, while it is important for sure, is not the solution. The solution needs to be built into the production systems in the country of origin." Waters provided equipment to the new lab, including a state of the art mass spectrometer. The sophisticated machine enables scientists to test for "very large numbers of potential contaminants in a very short period of time and also to be able to detect them at exquisitely low concentrations," said Young.
Lab planning for the rest of this year is still under way, but organizers are aiming for 15-20 courses annually, with an eye to eventually replicating the model in other countries. "The next step is building a global network of interconnected laboratories so they can share curricula and best practices," said Young.

Schumer Calls for Arsenic Standards for Juice Concentrates
Source :
By _foodsafeguru (Sep 18, 2011)
Sen. Charles Schumer (Dem, NY) called Sunday for standards aimed at limiting the amount of toxic substances in fruit juice concentrates, many of which are imported, according to DNAInfo.cocm.
There is concern, the senator said, because many of those concentrates come from China, which has a notorious safety record and uses inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen, in its pesticides. According to Schumer, 70 percent of America¡¯s apple juice concentrate and 60 percent of its pear juice or pear juice concentrate come from China. China is also a top five exporter to the United States of other juices. In 2008, the FDA found elevated levels of the toxin in pear juice concentrate from China and issued an import alert.
While inorganic arsenic standards for bottled water have existed for some time ? 10 parts per billion is considered dangerous ? there are currently no such standards for fruit juice.
In a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Schumer urged the imposition of standards for food and beverages as well as increased inspections. ¡°Given continuing horror stories of toxic food additives and chemicals in the Chinese food supply, I am concerned that the juice and juice concentrate China exports to the United States may put children at risk of exposure to cancer-causing contaminants such as arsenic,¡± Schumer wrote.
Still, the senator said that there was no need for alarm. ¡°While there is no cause for alarm and no need to stop drinking juice, a good option for juice makers and families who have concerns is to buy juice made from New York produced apples, which, like apples throughout the United States, do not use pesticides with inorganic arsenic in them,¡± he said.

Settlement Reached in Listeria Death
Source :
By_ Bill Marler (Sep 18, 2011)
A confidential settlement was reached between the family of 87-year old John Powers and Whittier Farms stemming from an outbreak of Listeria linked to contaminated milk. The outbreak was responsible for the death of at least four.
A. News of the Outbreak
On November 27, 2007, a health department officer in central Massachusetts contacted the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) to report a Listeria infection in an 87-year-old man, later identified as John Powers. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) performed on Mr. Powers's Listeria monocytogenes stool isolate produced a pattern indistinguishable from that of isolates from three other cases identified in residents of central Massachusetts in June, October, and early November 2007. MDPH, in collaboration with local public health officials, conducted an investigation, which implicated pasteurized, flavored and non-flavored, fluid milk produced by a local dairy as the source of the outbreak. The milk was later revealed to have been produced by Whittier Farms, Inc., a family owned dairy located in Sutton, Massachusetts. In fact, it was coffee-flavored milk, produced by Whittier Farms and purchased at Shady Oaks Farm, that tested positive for Listeria and that was a PFGE-match to the strain of Listeria associated with Mr. Powers, the other victims, and the environmental samples collected from the dairy facility.
Whittier Farms operated a milk product pasteurizing, bottling, and processing facility; the dairy had operated for nearly 50 years. Raw milk was transported by tanker truck to the Whittier Farms processing facility from the company¡¯s own farm (with nearly 300 cows) and from another, independent farm located 25 miles away. Whittier Farms produced various milk and non-milk beverage products in glass and plastic bottles, including several varieties of flavored milk. Retail outlets were located at the dairy and the farm; however, the bulk of the dairy's milk products were sold through home delivery, and at various retail establishments in Massachusetts, including Shady Oaks Farm in Medway. The milk products were sold under the Whittier Farms name and other brand names. Bulk cream was distributed to a bakery in Rhode Island, where it was used in cooked products.
B. The Outbreak Investigation
The MDPH defined a case of outbreak-associated listeriosis as illness in a Massachusetts resident with illness onset in 2007 who: (1) was culture-positive for Listeria monocytogenes with PFGE patterns that matched the outbreak patterns as established by the first case; or (2) had culture-confirmed Listeria monocytogenes and a history of consuming milk products produced by Whittier Farms during the six weeks preceding illness and for whom a bacterial isolate was not available for PFGE analysis.
Five patients had illness consistent with the case definition. All but one of the patients met the first case definition criterion. The median age of the patients was 75 years old (range: 31 to 87 years); three were male. All five patients were hospitalized. All three of the males (75 to 87 years old), including Mr. Powers, died from sepsis attributed to Listeria, and died close to the time of their acute illness onset. The first case in a female was in a 31 year old woman who had chorioamnionitis at 36 weeks gestation. She delivered a healthy but premature infant. A subsequent placental culture tested positive for Listeria. The second case in a female was in a 34 year old woman who had a fever and abdominal pain. She experienced a stillbirth at 37 weeks gestation, and cultures of her blood, fetal blood, and placental tissue all were positive for Listeria monocytogenes.
Interviews were subsequently conducted with the patients or their families. One patient, however, could not be interviewed. Of the remaining four patients, all but one had consumed products from Whittier Farms during the six weeks preceding their illness. On December 17, evidence of Listeria growth was reported from a coffee-flavored milk sample, retrieved from the home of Mr. Powers. In response to the December 17 findings, the Massachusetts Food Protection Program (MFPP) inspected Whittier Farms and collected eleven samples of unopened, flavored and unflavored milk products for testing on December 18. On December 21, the organism from the December 17 sample was confirmed to be Listeria monocytogenes and was a match to the four clinical isolates from the other patients. Thus, the source of this particular genetic strain of Listeria was identified. The same unique PFGE pattern was identified within Whittier Farms milk products and the four PFGE confirmed cases associated with the outbreak, including Mr. Powers. From this point forward, there was no doubt that the Whittier Farms product resulted in the patients¡¯ Listeria infections.
C. Product Recall and Dairy Closure
MFPP returned to Whittier Farms on December 26 and collected environmental swab samples from inside the processing facility. On December 27, the State Laboratory Institute (SLI) of MDPH reported a presumptive positive Listeria specimen in a sample of unopened, coffee-flavored milk that had been collected from Whittier Farms on December 19. In response to this finding, MFPP asked the dairy to voluntarily cease all operations and recall its dairy products; Whittier Farms complied with this request on December 27. On December 30, SLI confirmed that Listeria monocytogenes with PFGE patterns identical to the outbreak strain was isolated from a sample of unopened, coffee-flavored milk ingested by Mr. Powers.
From December 28, 2007, to January 3, 2008, MFPP conducted a full environmental investigation in conjunction with the Food and Drug Administration and the local board of health. The facility did not have an environmental monitoring program for Listeria monocytogenes. Although this is not required by law, is typically implemented as a best practice by other food processors of ready-to-eat foods. Contamination, as demonstrated by the positive environmental samples, was documented in close proximity to areas where hoses were used to clean equipment. On February 1, 2008, Whittier Farms decided to permanently close the milk processing facility, citing an inability to invest the money necessary to make the facility safe.
On January 2, 2008, after the closure of Whittier Farms and the recall of its dairy products, approximately 100 additional environmental and product samples were collected by MFPP from the dairy's processing facility and adjacent retail store. One environmental swab from a floor drain in the finished product area, one skim milk sample, and seven flavored milk samples tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes and matched the outbreak strain by PFGE analysis. Two additional environmental swabs and four additional samples of milk, both flavored and non-flavored, tested positive for seven distinct strains of Listeria, including three different Listeria species and three strains of Listeria monocytogenes with PFGE patterns that differed from those of the outbreak strain.

Egyptian veg import restrictions to be lifted but sprout ban stays, says EU
Source :
By_Rory Harrington (Sep 16, 2011)
The European Commission (EC) said it will lift the import ban on some Egyptian vegetables imposed after E.coli outbreaks in Germany and France earlier this year - but that restrictions on fenugreek sprouts would remain.
In July, Brussels outlawed vegetable shipments from Egypt into the bloc as part of a move that contaminated fenugreek seeds from the country were responsible for the outbreak of E.coli 0104:H4 that killed 50 and sickened 4,000 in northern Germany and southwestern France during the summer. The temporary ban was introduced in the wake of a report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that linked fenugreek seeds to the incidents- and included leguminous vegetables such as green beans and podded peas. It is due to run until the end of next month to give EU officials enough time to scrutinize production standards in Egypt.
The EC said member states had yesterday backed its recommendation to reverse the decision for vegetables but leave the ban in place for Egyptian fenugreek seeds. No details over the precise timing for the move were given.
Safety audit
This decision came after EU experts from the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) carried out a safety audit in Egypt ¡°which revealed no shortcomings in the production sites of leguminous vegetables¡±, said the EC
The FVO is expected to finalise its mission report at the end of October. The measures on the fenugreek sprouts will remain in force until 31 October and will be reviewed then, it added. In 2010, the EU imported around 49,000 tons of the banned fenugreek seeds from Egypt, worth more than ¢æ56m.
Knee-jerk reaction
The UK¡¯s Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) welcomed the announcement but criticised Brussels for including the vegetables in the first place. ¡°It was vital that the European Commission identified the source of these serious E.coli outbreaks very quickly. However, this was no excuse for a knee-jerk reaction based on unfounded assumptions which jeopardised the viability of fresh produce businesses trading in Egypt and the UK,¡± said the body¡¯s CEO Nigel Jenney.
He added: ¡°Fresh produce should never have been included in this ridiculous ban and we want to see it lifted without delay. This removal of fresh produce from the ban reinforces the competence of Egyptian producers, although the same cannot be said about the Commission¡¯s handling of the matter.¡± It estimated that lost sales revenues for cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce ran to ¡Ì54m, while sales of bean sprouts dropped by 30%.


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 8/31/2011

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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