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6th International Conference for Food Safety and Quality
(Nov. 8-9, 2011)
, Chicago, IL

Comments from Attendees
Awesome!!! Enjoyed every Minute. Couldn't have asked for a better learning experience.
Rory - Grimmway Farms
This conference was Extremely informative well organized and executed. I will continuously attend again.
Orlean - Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery
Excellent selection of speakers. I would definitely recommend this program to others.
Carl - Annies Inc.
Excellent Speakers. Surely, I will attend the next one. Well organized.
Luis - University of Texas
Enjoyed myself.. Great Great Conference
Leonard -Thermo King
Excellent Experience. I am incredibly happy to have attended. I fully intend on attending the 7th.
Michael - Greater Chicago Food Depository
I can get various information about food safety and quality.
Takeshi - NEC Japan.
Excellent coverage of topics. I will come again.
Tim - bioMerieux
Great Speakers and Great Information
Ellen - Proliant
Excellent 2 days conference very informative presentations. Excellent Resource form all food companies.
Susen- Masterson Co.
Very Interesting and Learned a lot.
Connie - Procter Gamble
and more--

7th International Conference for Food Safety and Quality
Chicago, IL

Main Topic: Detection/Control of Microbiological/Chemical hazards for Food Safety and Quality
send us your email to reserve seats

White House Touts Progress on Food Safety
Source :
by Helena Bottemiller (Dec 22, 2011)
President Obama's Food Safety Working Group is making progress, but more work needs to be done, according to a new report by the Administration.
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled a progress report Wednesday, highlighting areas of the initiative they say are working. The president's Food Safety Working Group (FSWG) was launched after the deadly Salmonella peanut butter outbreak in late 2008, early 2009.
"As families across the country share in this holiday season, it is important to reiterate our commitment to protecting the food supply and our desire to remain vigilant to protect the American people," said Vilsack. "We have taken a number of steps to improve the safety of America's meat and poultry supply in recent years and the President's Food Safety Working Group has proven to be a vital component to our work."
The press conference pointed to a number of recent successes: the FDA implemented the Egg Safety Rule in 2010; the FDA, in partnership with USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, established a Produce Safety Alliance at Cornell University to develop educational and training materials for growers of all sizes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's comprehensive estimates show that E. coli illnesses have been reduced by almost half.
The FSWG also chronicled efforts made over the three years by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The agency set new Salmonella standards for poultry establishments, which may prevent as many as 25,000 foodborne illnesses annually. FSIS also announced a zero tolerance policy for six additional strains of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), which will launch in March 2012, and a "test and hold" policy that requires facilities to hold product until microbiological testing can determine it is safe to release into commerce.
USDA estimates the new program would have prevented 44 Class I recalls since 2007.
The White House called the working group's accomplishments thus far "a large down payment on a stronger food safety system."
"We're well on our way to building a modern food safety system," said Sebelius. "Today's report shows we've made progress..."
Vilsack, whose department is responsible for the safety of meat, poultry, and processed egg products, said that while much progress has been made "a lot of work is yet to be done."
Consumer groups praised the progress that has been made, but outlined areas of need.
"The litany of new acronyms for the task forces and interagency consultations that are described in the Obama Administration's new Progress Report on Food Safety is worthy of a good spy novel: from SIP to CORE; from ICAT to CalciNet," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
"It shows both the high level of attention that the Administration has paid to addressing food safety and the challenge when numerous federal and state agencies must work together during outbreaks and other critical food events. The report documents important improvements that have been made in the food safety system, especially with the adoption and implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act," continued DeWaal. "However, with so many agencies involved, lapses can easily occur in the absence of strong leadership. It is promising to see the continuation of the Food Safety Working Group, which was established by President Obama early in his administration."

Bird flu fears forces Hong Kong to cull chickens
Source :
(December 21, 2011)
Workers began culling 17,000 chickens at a wholesale poultry market in Hong Kong today after a dead chicken there tested positive for the deadly H5N1 avian virus, a government spokesman said.
The Hong Kong government also suspended imports of live chickens from mainland China and the trading of live chickens for 21 days in a bid to prevent any spread of the disease, which is normally found in birds but can jump to humans.
"We do not know if the dead chicken was imported from China or if it's a local chicken," the government spokesman said, adding that the market would be emptied of birds and thoroughly disinfected.
People do not have immunity to the H5N1 virus and researchers worry it could mutate in humans into a form that would spread around the world and kill millions of people.
The virus passes easily among birds and has becomes active in various parts of the world, but especially in east Asia, over recent years, especially in the cooler months of the year.
The current strain of H5N1 is highly pathogenic, kills most species of birds and up to 60 percent of the people it infects.
The last two large poultry culling exercises in Hong Kong took place in June 2008, after checks uncovered H5N1 in chicken faecal samples, and in December 2008 when the virus killed scores of chickens at a chicken farm.
In 1997, six people died from the H5N1 virus in the territory and 1.3 million chickens were culled.
Hong Kong's last recorded human case of H5N1 was in November 2010 - the 59-year-old woman, who came down with the illness after returning from a trip to mainland China, survived.
Since making its first laboratory-confirmed appearance in Hong Kong in 1997, it is now endemic in many places in Asia and also Egypt.
Since 2003, it has infected 573 people around the world, killing 336.
The virus also kills migratory birds but species that manage to survive can carry and disperse the virus to new, uninfected locations.
The virus can kill birds and humans in a matter of days but can survive far longer durations in a moist, cool environment.
The ban on trading of live chickens in Hong Kong for 21 days is to ensure that the virus runs through its full lifecycle.
It transmits less easily between people but there have been clusters of infections in people in Indonesia and Thailand in the past, where the virus is believed to have been passed between family members through direct contact with contaminated respiratory secretions.

Cargill extends HPP in food contamination prevention efforts
Source :
By Mark Astley (Dec 22, 2011)
Cargill has adopted high-pressure processing (HPP) at its ground turkey production facilities in an attempt to prevent future contaminations, the company announced.
The use of HPP at its Springdale, Arkansas-based facility is one of several measures being implemented by the company in an effort to enhance food safety and reduce the potential for Salmonella contamination – the cause of the facility closure earlier this year.
HPP and other measures have been implemented as part of a US Department of Agriculture (USDA)-approved enhanced food safety plan.
One of Cargill's four ground turkey production lines has resumed production, with the remaining three likely to be activated in coming weeks.
Production was suspended at the facility, and 36m pounds (16.4m kg) of ground turkey were recalled earlier this year after a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella was traced back to the Springdale plant.
The contamination was linked to over 100 illnesses across 31 states and one death.
Improved bacterial reduction
Since the recalls, food safety scientists at Cargill have been exploring solutions to reduce the risk of Salmonella contamination in its processed turkey.
"No stone has been left unturned as we searched for answers to help us improve food safety," said Steve Willardsen, president of Cargill Value Added Meats Retail.
A complete reassessment and overhaul of the facility's food safety plan has been implemented, including several new safety measures.
The introduction of HPP technology, improved bacterial reduction steps throughout processing and the implementation of a three-phase ground turkey sampling and monitoring system - which Cargill claim is the most rigorous in the country - have been applied in the facilities.
"With the collective knowledge, experience and capabilities we've tapped to find solutions, we are confident in our ability to better ensure the safest ground turkey products available for consumers," added Willardsen.
Cargill believes this phased approach to the resumption of processing will ensure the measures put in place are working as originally intended.
Enhancing food safety reported on Cargill's adoption of HPP in its beef burger patty production earlier this year.
Cargill claimed at the time that the use of HPP would double the shelf-life of meats, such as beef burger patties, while enhancing food safety without compromising quality.
"It is an entirely natural process that does not use high temperatures, chemicals or irradiation, while retaining the nutrient value and freshness of the ground beef," said a company statement at the time.
"High pressure processing of foods is a well-established treatment to mitigate contamination by harmful microbes such as Salmonella, E.coli O157:H7 and Listeria, without adversely affecting the product's taste and quality," food safety Professor Michael Doyle told at the time.

Hannaford should release its grinding logs and names of all meat suppliers linked to Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak
Source :
By Bill Marler (Dec 22, 2011)
As of this week, according to the CDC, a total of 16 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from Hawaii (1), Kentucky (1), Massachusetts (1), Maine (4), New Hampshire (4), New York (4), and Vermont (1). In response to those illnesses Hannaford, a Scarborough, Maine-based grocery chain, recalled an undetermined amount of fresh ground beef products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Typhimurium, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced last week. However, FSIS raised concerns about its ability to trace the tainted beef to its source. According to FSIS:
Based on an examination of Hannaford's limited records, FSIS was unable to determine responsible suppliers. FSIS recently identified this problem at the retail level and is pursuing rulemaking to address the concern. This recall is being issued as part of a continuing investigation. FSIS has not yet been able to identify FSIS-regulated suppliers of raw beef ground at Hannaford Stores related to the outbreak that could be subject to recall action.
A study in August 2011 edition of the Journal of Food Protection showed that tracing back the ground beef to its origin might have been possible had the supermarket studied taken two key steps:
1. Kept meat from different suppliers separate, and
2. Maintained more detailed grinding records.
Researchers found that because the supermarket chain ground and then mixed meat from multiple sources, "it is likely that individual ground beef products were routinely commingled with the next batch of ground beef, although incomplete grinding logs at some store locations hindered conclusive findings on this point."
Food producers who grind meat on-site should know exactly where all the batches came from, as well as record when they were ground, so that customers' purchases can be traced back more efficiently during investigations of foodborne illness, the study suggests.
"Detailed grinding logs are essential for the successful traceback of contaminated beef when implicated in outbreaks and to allow focused, detailed, and prompt recalls to prevent additional infections," says the report.
The review also pointed out that grinding outlets did not clean their meat grinders between batches, another factor that likely contributed to the comingling of contaminated beef with clean beef, and made it impossible to identify the source of the tainted meat. Supermarkets should change their protocol to include these precautionary measures, the authors recommend.
Hannaford had a duty to provide its customers with meat that was not tainted. It now owes an obligation to the pubic at large to release its grinding logs and names of all meat suppliers linked to Salmonella outbreak. It is only when this is done that the source of the Salmonella contamination can be discovered.
According to the CDC, most persons infected with Salmonella bacteria develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. Older adults, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness from Salmonella infection.

Selfridges' raw milk dispenser 'contravenes food hygiene regulations'
Source :
By Rebecca Smithers, (Dec 15, 2011)
A major London department store is giving consumers the chance to buy unpasteurised milk, despite the government food watchdog's claim that the move is illegal on public health grounds.
The milk, known as raw milk, is banned from mainstream sale in England, Scotland and Wales. Its distribution is so tightly regulated that supermarkets and mainstream retailers are not allowed to stock it, although it can be sold directly by producers.
But the growing number of raw milk devotees are now able to buy it fresh from a vending machine in Selfridges food hall in London's west end.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said the move was in contravention of food hygiene regulations designed to protect consumer health, and released a statement saying "discussions are still ongoing".
Raw milk dispensers are hugely popular on the continent, allowing customers to top up their own glass bottles. But the FSA says it may contain bacteria "such as salmonella and E coli that can cause illness".
It said it had informed Westminster City Council, which deals with the day-to-day enforcement of food safety and public health protection in its area, of the position and that it believed this had been passed on to Selfridges.
Selfridges said Westminster City Council knew it was selling the milk and claimed it had regulatory approval because the sales will be handled by a concession run by Longleys Farm, an established dairy farm
The bottles carry a health warning demanded by the FSA which reads: "This organically produced raw milk has not been heat treated and may therefore contain organisms harmful to health".
Steve Hook of Longleys Farm, based in Hailsham, East Sussex, said he had been selling raw milk since 2007. "We pay fantastic attention to hygiene to ensure the strict bacteria tests conducted on the milk by the FSA are easily met," he said.
"Our milk is regularly analysed, and our milking plant regularly inspected, to ensure that the cleanest milk is produced. In this way all the benefits of the good bacteria in the milk are kept, without having any of the problems associated with bad."
But the FSA insisted the vending machine was not acceptable. In a statement it said: "In England and Wales, the rules for selling raw cows' milk for human consumption state that it can only be sold directly to the final consumer from the farm where it is produced, or at a farmers' market, which is regarded as an extension of the farm. The farmer can also sell to a distributor to sell to the final consumer from a vehicle which is lawfully used as a shop premises (for example, via a milkround)."
If said that if Selfridges does not stop selling the milk, the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency may take enforcement action.
Both Hook and Selfridges said they were not aware that they were doing anything wrong, and would keep selling the milk until they were officially ordered not to.
Hook said he had sold about 20 litres of the organic milk from the machine, adding: "Over the last five years I have sold hundreds of thousands of pints of raw milk and there has never been any illness."
In the summer, FSA chief executive Tim Smith said the agency was now having to look at new sales outlets which did not exist when the 2006 regulations were drawn up: "We will also consider the impact of developments in the unpasteurised milk market, for example internet sales and vending machines which were not envisaged when the food hygiene regulations were introduced."
At Selfridges there was a steady trickle of curious shoppers to the machine, which sits alongside the fresh cheese counter, with many trying the free samples on offer. In the pre-Christmas scrum was American visitor Andy Sandler, with his wife Jill, from Kansas City who bought a bottle and immediately downed half of the contents: "We can buy raw milk from a few decent farms back home and it really is a great taste," he said from underneath his milk moustache.
David Monne, who works in the store, said he drank raw milk in his native Spain but had found it impossible to buy in the UK. "I'll be back to buy some," he said. "It's a great flavour on its own, but I will also use it to make milkshakes."
Nick from Kensal Green, north-west London, enjoyed his tipple: "It's wicked. I'd buy it from the supermarket, but it's not practical to buy it here and lug it all the way home. But it's properly additive-free and tastes great – why is the FSA making such a fuss?"

Apple juice safe but arsenic guidance still being considered - FDA
Source :
By Mark Astley, (Dec 20, 2011)
US food safety authorities are still considering setting guidance levels for inorganic arsenic in apple juice, despite reiterating its confidence in the overall safety of the beverage.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announcement, which was made after conducting a series of tests on apple juice samples, has come in response to a public and media outcry for new guidelines on the presence of arsenic in fruit juices. reported recently how the FDA was "seriously considering setting guidance or other level for inorganic arsenic in apple juice," after pressure from a consumer group.
The FDA arsenic level of concern in apple juice, which was last updated in December 2008, is set at 23 parts per billion (ppb) – at which point it would "represent a potential health risk," the guidance added.
The 16 December update titled FDA Statement on Arsenic in Apple Juice was posted following the results of its latest data - based on the collection and analysis of 94 samples of arsenic in apple juice.
Overall confidence
"FDA remains confident in the overall safety of apple juice consumed in this country. We are able to make this statement on the strength of our recently expanded surveillance of arsenic in apple juice, an activity that the agency first began 20 years ago," said the statement.
It added that it is nevertheless interested in minimising public exposure to the heavy metal contaminant.
The agency "is continuing to evaluate all available data and information that bear on this important issue and is considering setting a guidance level for inorganic arsenic in apple juice and apple juice concentrate that will further minimise public exposure to this contaminant."
The 94 samples, which were collected since 28 October 2011, were tested for total arsenic, inorganic arsenic, dimethylarsenic acid (DMA) and monomethylarsenic acid (MMA).
All were available in the US marketplace at the time of testing.
The tests results showed that, "with relatively few exceptions, the tested apple juice samples contained levels of arsenic that are low compared to drinking water standards and the FDA's current level of concern," added the agency.
In four samples, total arsenic was found over 10ppb, with one hitting 30ppb – well above the safe legal level of 23ppb for apple juice.
The presence of inorganic arsenic ranged from no track to 9.8ppb – below the 10ppb safe level for water.
"In fact, 95% of the apple juice samples tested were below 10 parts per billion (ppb) total arsenic; and 100% below 10ppb for inorganic arsenic, the carcinogenic form of arsenic."
"Dangerously high levels"
The FDA statement has come just days after it was revealed that a US member of the public intended to pursue a lawsuit against a brand of apple for its "dangerously high levels" of lead and arsenic, a food and drink litigation newsletter revealed.
According to the complainant, Walgreen Co. 100% Grape Juice and 100% Apple Juice levels of lead and arsenic are higher than FDA limits on these chemicals in bottled water, and the company fails to disclose information about the contaminants on products labels or in advertising.

Dioxins in Food-Industry vs Regulatory Agencies
Source :
By Dr. V.H . Potty(Dec 22, 2011)
That industry is invariably averse to any strict surveillance against some of their questionable practices and will never agree, if given an option, in making any standards stricter has been known. There are hundreds of instances in the history of food industry during the last hundred years to prove the point that voluntary action for making the food safer and healthier never worked and expecting this sector to do so in future can be only a wishful thinking. Look at the latest instance of the industry lobbying against making safety limits for dioxins more stringent under some pretext or the other probably fearing adverse impact of such life saving food standards on its business. Here is a take on this vital issue that promises to become a new area of confrontation between the safety authorities and the industry allied with powerful farming lobby in USA.
'Farmers and the food industry are trying to kill a proposed safety standard for dioxins, chemicals that can cause cancer and are widely found in meat, seafood and dairy products. Industry groups say a daily exposure limit for dioxin proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency isn't justified and could unnecessarily scare consumers away from meat and milk products. An individual could ingest more than the proposed daily limit of dioxin in a single meal, the groups say. "The implications of this action are chilling," they said in a recent letter to the White House. "EPA is proposing to create a situation in which most U.S. agricultural products could arbitrarily be classified as unfit for consumption." The proposed standard would not by itself trigger any regulations on farmers or food companies, but the government could later recommend measures, including restrictions on the content of livestock feed, to reduce the amount of dioxins that people could consume. The dioxin limit is the latest health and environmental issue that has pitted the Obama administration against industries who claim they're being subjected to unwarranted, job-stifling rules and regulations. "Dioxin is one of the most notorious and most studied chemicals," said Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization. "The industry is trying to change the definition of what is safe to avoid any further scrutiny."
Is it not unfortunate that even the farm sector, propped up by big farmers, has ganged up with the processing industry for the sake of protecting their turf ignoring the well being of the consumers who after all provide the "bread and butter" to them? It is forgotten that when risk impact is measured the benefit of doubt has to be given to the consumers and commercial players have to abide by agencies like World Health Organization and others responsible for fixing "goal posts" for consumer safety. Is it not a pity that food processing industry, already being hauled up for promoting unhealthy foods causing many life style diseases, is bent on repeating its past mistakes endangering the lives of the hapless consumer? One can only hope that better counsel will prevail on them to fall in line with universal safety regimes in stead of blind opposition to enforcement protocols based on sound science.

Information as Currency in Public Health
Source :
by Bill Marler (Dec 21, 2011)
Are we seeing an emerging trend favoring secrecy?
The 2006 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to DOLE baby spinach was the known high-water mark for critical safety failures by Salinas, California's leafy green growers and processors (1). Well over two hundred confirmed illnesses nationally, five deaths, and dozens of cases of kidney failure were the coup-de-grace for a ten-year period that saw a litany of E. coli and Salmonella outbreaks linked to Salinas's leafy greens. But the outbreak, and more specifically the painstaking investigation and analysis that followed, also marked the beginning of the end of full disclosure, and the beginning of, in some cases, complete silence by some state and federal public health officials about the details and even existence of foodborne illness outbreaks.
The 2006 Spinach E. coli outbreak was, of course, a highly public event, no doubt requiring an open and frank discussion of the actions and failures that contributed to so many illnesses and deaths. Together with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), California's Food Emergency Response Team (CalFERT), which was a collection of epidemiologists and other scientists formed in 2005 to investigate outbreaks originating in California, produced a lengthy report discussing the trail of evidence that lead to the conclusion that DOLE's baby spinach caused the outbreak, as well as the microbiological and environmental findings that gave some insight into the outbreak's cause and likely source (2).
After the 2006 Spinach outbreak—in fact, within three months of it—two more E. coli outbreaks, which sickened at least 152 people in six states, were linked to lettuce produced by California growers (3, 4). Again, CalFERT investigated the outbreaks and issued final reports, thereby providing both the industry and the public generally with information about the state of the industry in America's salad bowl, and most importantly, the likely causes of the outbreaks.
But there the paper trail slowed. Since the devastating fall of 2006—three outbreaks; 404 illnesses; five deaths; dozens of cases of kidney failure—CalFERT has not issued a single report of its investigative activities, despite a leafy-green link to many more outbreaks. And, these are only the outbreaks that are known to have occurred. Moreover, what can be pieced together based on limited responses to Freedom of Information requests, shows that the trend is not only limited to a lack of documented investigative conclusions about an outbreak, but also incomplete investigation of outbreaks, and increasing failures to notify the public at all that an outbreak has occurred. A few of the more known examples:
• September 2008—at least 45 residents of Michigan, Illinois, and Ontario, Canada were infected by E. coli contaminated iceberg lettuce that was grown in California and processed at Aunt Mid's Produce Company, a Detroit-area wholesale distributor. Again, neither the FDA nor CalFERT issued any kind of a summary report documenting their conclusions about the source or cause of the outbreak (5).
• April 2010 - at least 33 residents of Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and New York were sickened by a relatively rare strain of E. coli called E. coli O145. Perhaps the most publicly known outbreak since the devastating fall of 2006, FDA refused to name the company that had grown the lettuce, instead choosing to identify only the state where the farm was located: Arizona. CalFERT was not involved in this investigation (6A, 6B).
• October 2011 – at least 60 people from 10 states were sickened by E. coli contaminated romaine lettuce. Most of the ill were customers of Schnuck's grocery stores in Missouri. Traceback investigation revealed both the processor of the contaminated lettuce and the grower, but again the FDA has declined to name either company (7).

A few of the lesser known, or not publicized, examples:
• May 2008—at least 10 residents of Washington State were infected by E. coli contaminated romaine lettuce grown and processed in Salinas, California. Despite being involved in the investigation and product traceback to the lettuce processor, neither the FDA nor CalFERT documented their findings about the outbreak's source or cause (8).
• October 2008 - at least 55 people in Canada, California, North Dakota, Illinois, Florida, New Jersey and Ohio were sickened by E. coli-contaminated romaine lettuce that had been grown in California. California and FDA investigation revealed that the implicated lettuce had been supplied to retail locations where people became ill by a Salinas, California company. Again, neither CalFERT nor the FDA issued a summary report about the outbreak (9).
• July/August 2009 - dozens of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Colorado, and Montana residents, and multiple Canadians, were sickened by Salmonella Typhimurium in an outbreak dubiously investigated by officials at the California Department of Public Health's Food and Drug Branch. The contaminated lettuce was grown and processed in Salinas, California, and despite clear epidemiological evidence implicating the lettuce, California officials declined to state a relationship between the implicated lettuce and the outbreak. Neither California nor the FDA issued a comprehensive report on the outbreak, nor was the implicated product ever recalled (10).
• September 2009 - at least 19 residents of Colorado, Utah, New York, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and North Carolina were infected by E. coli contaminated lettuce grown in Salinas, California. Again, neither CalFERT nor the FDA generated a report on outbreak findings (11).
• September 2009 – 10 individuals in 6 different states, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and North Carolina suffered E. coli infections, sharing an indistinguishable PFGE pattern. The outbreak was identified by the CDC as cluster 0910MLEXH-1. Epidemiological investigations by multiple states strongly suggested lettuce as the source of the outbreak. The lettuce served at a restaurant in Colorado where both Colorado members in the outbreak consumed lettuce was traced to a specific grower in California's Salinas Valley. Colorado state health officials pushed for further Federal agency effort but were rebuffed:
By mid-October, Colorado had not received any further communication from the CDC and FDA about the traceback, so Colorado made several inquiries about the status of the investigation. Investigators from the CDC reported that FDA had decided not to pursue further traceback activities because of limited resources and the length of time that had elapsed since the original exposures with no new cases. Colorado challenged this decision, but FDA did not change its position about pursuing traceback further (12).
Since the fall of 2006, and the media vortex that the three large E. coli outbreaks that occurred then created, the FDA and CalFERT have repeatedly failed to provide conclusions, and in some cases much information at all, about multiple major public health crises that have occurred in this country. This is a threat to the public's health, which has as its only currency the free and rapid exchange of information.
Questions raised by FDA's and CalFERT'S approach, or lack thereof, to providing information to the public about post-2006 leafy green outbreaks are many. Is funding for public health programs lacking? Across the board, possibly, but CalFERT has not experienced any cuts to its operating budget; in fact, during this period, CalFERT has received a large grant from FDA. If not a problem of funding, will CalFERT and FDA respond that they lack manpower? Unlikely, given the underlying reasons for the existence of CalFERT in the first place, which was a specific devotion of resources and highly competent public health officials to the problems emanating from Salinas Valley, and California generally. There is no clear conclusion available from the known data as to why there is a lack of complete disclosure. Of course, there has been no explanation from these public health bodies regarding their reasons for the trend of non-disclosure.
Whatever the explanation, the lack of information about these outbreaks is far from simple instances of non-disclosure. Indeed, the path that CalFERT and FDA have chosen to take since the fall of 2006 threatens a general withdrawal from the obligations of open disclosure. And, this is only about the outbreaks that are known. There are likely many more that have occurred that have never seen the light of any disclosure at all.

BPA-based reactive flame retardant is safe, says EFSA, despite limited data
Source :
By Ben Bouckley, (Dec 21, 2011)
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says that it believes the bisphenol A (BPA) brominate Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) is safe, and does not hinder processes such as human reproduction or embryo development.
TBBPA is principally used as a reactive brominated flame retardant (BFR) in epoxy and polycarbonate resins, as well as an additive in acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), high-impact polystyrene (HIPS) and phenolic resins.
But the chemical is also found in the environment in fish and birds, and can enter the food chain as the result of releases at production sites, and, according to EFSA's Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM), "probably more importantly via leakage from products where it has been introduced as an additive flame retardant".
Following a call for data, after the European Commission (EC) requested it deliver a scientific opinion on TBBPA and its derivatives in 2010, EFSA said it received analytical results from 344 food samples submitted by EU member states Norway (70 per cent) and Spain (30 per cent) from 2007 to 2010.
Limited data set
Results submitted related only to one food group, 'fish and other seafood', and were all reported as being '<LOQ' or below the limit of quantification, of approximately 1 nanogram (ng)/g by wet weight.
EFSA admitted there were imitations in the representative nature of this data, but did mention that Shi et al. 2009 assessed 48 Chinese total diet samples, and found the highest TBBPA levels in aquatic food groups, followed by meat products, with egg and egg products bringing up the rear.
Despite data limitations, the CONTAM panel said it assumed that occurrence levels of TBBPA in fish and other seafood in other EU countries would also not exceed the LOQ of 1ng/g.
Since, upon the basis of information submitted, a "meaningful exposure assessment for the general population [was] not possible," the COTAM panel said it assessed 'worst case' intake estimates for adults with diets rich in fish.
Accordingly, the panel's 'upper bound' intake estimate was 2.6 ng/kg of body weight per day, an "exposure scenario" that it said it did not believe raised cause for any health concerns.
Breast milk concentrations
The EFSA panel said that data on concentrations of TBBPA in human milk in Europe was also limited, to three studies, with concentrations of TBBPA therein ranging from 0.06 to 37.3 ng/g fat, with a median of 0.48 ng/g fat.
These showed that three-month old infants breast fed (on average) 800ml of milk per day, were exposed to 0.28 to 171 ng/kg bw of TBBPA; those on 1200ml, 0.41 ng/kg to 257ng/kg bw. Again, the panel decided that exposure via human milk did not raise a health concern.
Overall, the CONTAM panel decided that occurrence data submitted was not sufficient to conduct a reliable dietary exposure assessment for the general population, or specific population groups such as infants, children or vegetarians.
However, it added: "In view of the large MOEs (margins of exposure), the CONTAM Panel concluded that current dietary exposure to TBBPA in the European Union does not raise a health concern."
The EFSA panel said it had received no occurrence data for TBBPA derivatives, and said there was a need for relevant data on production rates, use, chemical characteristics, occurrence in food and toxicity.

France unmoved by EFSA safety stance over bisphenol A
Source :
By Rory Harrington(Dec 20, 2011)
French concerns over bisphenol A (BPA) have not been dispelled in the wake of the opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that the chemical poses no health risk through dietary exposure, said France's food safety agency.
At the beginning of this month, EFSA once again declared BPA was safe in food contact materials at current levels – after reviewing research that had caused authorities in France to raise fresh fears over the substance and led to the Government committing to ban it in packaging from 2014.
However, in the wake of the difference of opinion between the two, ANSES, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety, told that it would continue with its research.
"The recent EFSA opinion does not call into question ANSES's conclusions, which remain incomplete", said a spokesperson from the body. "Another opinion, which will incorporate the call for contributions launched in late September, will be published by ANSES in early 2012."
French BPA fears
French officials revealed their concerns about BPA in September as part of ongoing research into possible health hazards from the substance.
The body published two reports highlighting what it said were "proven" negative health effects in animals and "suspected" ones in humans. While stressing more research was needed it declared it had enough scientific evidence to identify that reducing BPA exposure in vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and children was a priority. Eliminating the chemical from food contact materials –identified as the main source of human exposure – was flagged up as the main objective.
Acting on the reports, the French Parliament later passed a law to ban the presence of BPA from 2014 onwards.
Responding to the move, EFSA said it would review the studies that had provoked ANSES' fears – but again stated on 1 December that it could not find any evidence to suggest that BPA posed a human health risk through dietary exposure.
European food safety watchdog said the main reason for the rejecting ANSES' concerns was that the French agency's hazard assessment had included "elements which could be relevant for the safety assessment of non-dietary exposure to BPA, whereas the EFSA opinion of 2010 addresses the assessment of risk from dietary exposure to BPA".

Eggs now considered safe beyond their 'best before' dates
Source :
By James Meikle(Dec 14, 2011)
Consumers no longer need to throw away their eggs immediately they pass their "best before" dates, the Food Standards Agency said on Wednesday.
The safety watchdog changed its advice as part of a drive to cut food waste, saying that people could eat them safely for a day or two more, provided they were hard-boiled or in dishes such as cakes where they would be fully cooked.
The change in the guidance, which a straw poll among Guardian staff suggested was not always being followed, reveals a shift in official attitudes born out of the salmonella-in-eggs crisis which famously cost Edwina Currie her job as health minister in 1988.
It was these food safety scares – BSE, listeria, and E coli were others – that persuaded Labour to promise a body to monitor food safety when it came to power in 1997.
A long campaign involving egg producers in the UK and abroad to reduce the incidence of salmonella bacteria in eggs has helped cut food poisoning by this route.
The agency said: "If salmonella is present in eggs it could multiply to high levels and cause food poisoning. But salmonella contamination levels in UK-produced eggs are low, and salmonella is killed by thorough cooking.
"This is why the advice is now that eggs can be eaten after their 'best before' date, as long as they are cooked thoroughly until both yolk and white are solid, or if they are used in dishes where they will be fully cooked, such as a cake."
The food agency statement added: "Apart from eggs, most foods can be eaten safely after the 'best before' date, as this is mostly about quality rather than safety. Past this date it doesn't mean that the food will be harmful, rather that its flavour, colour or texture might begin to deteriorate.
"However, it is still important to remember that if food has a 'use by' date, then it shouldn't be used after this date as it could put your health at risk."
The UK egg industry later welcomed the move as "great news" and urged consumers to look out for its lion mark now found on most home-produced eggs. This is only to be used on eggs laid by hens vaccinated against salmonella enteritidis, raised to higher welfare standards than required by law, and subject to feed controls.
Britons eat nearly 11.3bn eggs a year, 2.5bn of them imported, according to the British Egg Information Service.

Canadian and US officials issue pepper Salmonella warnings
Source :
By Mark Astley, (Dec 22, 2011)
US and Canadian food safety authorities have issued separate warnings on a brand of jalapeno and Serrano peppers potentially contaminated with Salmonella.
The peppers, which were distributed by California-based wholesaler Cal Fresco, are the subject of a recall in the US and a product warning in Canada, after random USDA samples of the product were found to contain potentially-deadly contaminant Salmonella.
The company is working with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and public health authorities in order to coordinate a recall of the products.
Two separate alerts in relation to the peppers have also been issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Authority (CFIA).
The peppers, which were distributed to retail stores across several US states and Canada, originated in Mexico, the FDA alert said.
Both authorities confirmed that there have been no reports of illness associated with the consumption of the peppers.
Unknown source
"The source of the contamination is unknown," said the FDA statement.
"The recall was the result of a random sampling event on December 12, 2011 by the USDA which revealed the presence of Salmonella on some of the product."
Using its recall and traceability program, the company quickly identified the supplier of the affected product, added the alert. The US recalls are limited to one batch of Serrano peppers and another batch of around 18,500 pounds of jalapenos.
"Cal Fresco has ceased the distribution of all produce from this supplier while the FDA, the California Department of Public Health, and the company continue their investigation into the source if the contamination."
In Canada, an extended alert from the Canadian Food Inspection Authority (CFIA) has urged consumers not to eat the peppers in question.
The products, which were imported from the US, were sold at Safeway stores in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Yukon between 5 and 20 December.
"The importer, Canada Safeway Ltd, Calgary, Alberta, is voluntarily recalling the affected product from the marketplace," said the CFIA alert.
"The CFIA is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall," the authority added.
Jalapeno outbreak
The CFIA has warned that food contaminated with Salmonella may not look or smell spoiled.
Consuming food contaminated with these bacteria can lead to potentially-lethal foodborne illness salmonellosis.
A 2008 Salmonella outbreak, which was eventually traced-back to jalapenos grown in Mexico, infected around 1,500 people across the US, and killed two.
The FDA came in for heavy criticism during the outbreak after it incorrectly-linked the nationwide outbreak to tomatoes.

Baby death sees Mead Johnson infant formula stripped off shelves
Source :
By Ben Bouckley, (Dec 22, 2011)
Wal-Mart says it had withdrawn a batch of powdered infant formula produced by Mead Johnson Nutrition after a Missouri baby fed the formula died of a suspected bacterial infection, according to the Associated Press.
The 10-day old baby, Avery Cornett, first became seriously ill late last week after consuming formula bought at a Wal-Mart in the city of Lebanon, and died on Sunday after hospital life support was cut.
The Lebanon Daily Record reported that initial tests showed that Cornett had suffered a rare bacterial infection, Cronobacter sakazakii (also known as Enterobacter sakazakii) to which children less than one year old are particularly susceptible.
According the Associated Press (AP), Mead Johnson said its records showed that the batch of 12.5 oz (354g) cans in question (ZP1K7G) tested negative for the bacterium before it was sent to the retailer.
No FDA recall
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not issued a recall notice for the formula, but Wal-Mart said it had decided to remove the entire batch from sale across 3000 stores on grounds of caution pending an investigation.
And Gena Terlizzi, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said yesterday that samples of the formula fed to Cornett had been sent to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA for testing.
Terlizzi said in a statement to the AP: "At this point it has not been determined whether the illness is linked to the formula or an outside source,"
A spokesman for Illinois-based Mead Johnson Nutrition told the AP that Enfamil Newborn powder was sold at various retail outlets, but he didn't have information on the whereabouts of the batch in question.
However, he said that the Cronobacter was one the contaminants that the company tested for in every batch of formula it produced.
What is Cronobacter?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance, Cronobacter is a bacterium belonging to the Enterobacteriaceae family, and has been implicated in outbreaks of meningitis or enteritis, especially in infants.
The natural habitat of the bacterium is not well understood, but it has been detected in the gut of healthy humans, and can also be found in the gut of animals and the environment, the WHO said.
The body also outlined three routes by which Cronobacter could enter infant formula: (1) through raw materials used in production (2) via contamination following pasteurisation (3) through contamination of formula when it is reconstituted by a caregiver prior to feeding.
Although Cronobacter had been detected in other types of food, as of 2004 only powdered infant formula had been linked to outbreaks of disease, according to the WHO.

16 Ill in Salmonella Ground Beef Outbreak
Source :
by Mary Rothschild (Dec 21, 2011)
In the outbreak linked to ground beef sold at Hannaford Supermarkets, 16 people in seven states have now been infected with an antibiotic-resistant strain of Salmonella Typhimurium linked, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday.
At least seven of those people have been hospitalized, according to the CDC's first report on the outbreak. The antibiotic resistance of the pathogen may "be associated with an increase in the risk of hospitalization or possible treatement failure," the CDC noted.
The ill people range in age from one to 79 years, with a median age of 45. Cases in which the onset of illness occurred after Nov. 19 might not yet be counted, the CDC said, because it can take an average of two to three weeks between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported.
Maine, New Hampshire and New York each reported four cases associated with the outbreak, while single cases of outbreak-related Salmonella infection were reported by Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts and Vermont.
The link to Hannaford Supermarkets ground beef is so far based on epidemiologic and traceback evidence. The CDC said 11 of the 16 infected people reported eating ground beef in the week before they became ill. Ten of those 11 said they purchased the meat from Hannaford stores, generally between Oct. 12 and Nov. 20, 2011.
Hannaford, a chain based in Scarborough, ME, recalled an undetermined amount of fresh ground beef on Dec. 15. The recalled packages have sell-by dates of Dec. 17 or earlier. Some of the recalled ground beef could still be in freezers, and the CDC advised consumers and restaurant and food service operators not to serve it.
The outbreak investigation, which involves the CDC, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service and their state partners, is continuing. The CDC said representatives from Hannaford Supermarkets have been cooperating with public health officials throughout the investigation.

Don Julio's Reopens Following Salmonella Outbreak Investigation
Source :
By Colin Caywood (Dec 19, 2011)
After voluntarily closing last week, Don Julio's in Corinth, Mississippi, has reopened. The Don Julio's restaurant in Corinth has been identified as the source of at least 59 confirmed Salmonella infections.
In a statement posted on, Northeast Mississippi District Health Officer Dr. Jessie R. Taylor stated:
"Our investigation has shown that the incident does not appear to be a food producer or supplier issue," Northeast Mississippi District Health Officer Dr. Jessie R. Taylor said in the department's press release. "It appears to be an isolated problem with this particular restaurant, and the restaurant is working closely with us to correct the problem."
The restaurant turned in its plan of correction and the department cleared it to reopen.
Salmonella is the second most common foodborne illness in the United States and is responsible for 500-1000 deaths annually. Symptoms of a Salmonella infection usually occur 6-72 hours after ingestion of the bacteria and often include nausea, fever, abdominal cramping, bloody diarrhea with mucous, and muscle pain.

Paul Schwarz Sr.'s death brings Listeria cantaloupe toll to 31 killed
Source :
By Drew Falkenstein (Dec 19, 2011)
Paul Schwarz Sr. died last night from complications related to the severe Listeria illness that he contracted from eating cantaloupe. Paul is the 31st person to die in the outbreak. He never left the hospital or nursing facility after falling ill.
Paul was profiled by Alan Bavley of the Kansas City Star on October 31, 2011:
Paul Schwarz used to eat a lot of cantaloupe, but not anymore.
At least some of the melons Schwarz enjoyed for breakfast this summer came from Jensen Farms, the Colorado grower whose cantaloupe contaminated with listeria bacteria have been responsible for the nation's deadliest food-borne disease outbreak in 26 years.
The 92-year-old Kansas City man was knocked off his feet by a listeria infection called listeriosis and spent five weeks in the hospital. Now he's recovering in a nursing home. And he's become the first area resident with listeriosis to sue Jensen Farms. The suit has been filed in federal court.
"It's just like he has brain trauma," said his son, also Paul Schwarz. "His speech, enunciating is difficult. He's bed- and wheelchair-bound. He needed to have his food cut into small pieces."
On behalf of Paul's family, Marler Clark will be amending the lawsuit to include claims for wrongful death.

Organic Pastures raw milk products released from quarantine after E. coli O157:H7 outbreak and 3 HUS illnesses
Source :
by Drew Falkenstein (Dec 17, 2011)
Organic Pastures raw milk sickened 5 people with E. coli O157:H7 from August through October. Three of the Organic Pastures outbreak victims developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, including two siblings from Contra Costa county. Now the State of California has lifted the quarantine on Organic Pastures' raw product . . . except the colostrum, which is still being investigated.
According to a press release by the California Department tof Food and Agriculture:
The facility was required to meet all sanitation requirements and comply with food safety regulations under state law before the quarantine could be lifted. During the quarantine, the facility was prohibited from producing raw milk products for the retail market. The order affected milk as well as raw butter, raw cream, raw colostrum, and a raw product labeled "Qephor." At this time, the quarantine hold on raw colostrum remains because it is the subject of continuing investigation by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).
A bit of Organic Pastures history:
•Organic Pastures products were recalled for pathogens in 2006, 2007 and 2008. It was tied to a 2007 outbreak of Campylobacter. Most notably, it was quarantined in 2006 after six children became ill with E. coli infections - two with hemolytic uremic syndrome. This is the state report from 2006: See also, Raw Milk Myth Buster 1 - Organic Pastures 2006 Raw Milk E. coli Outbreak was caused by Spinach.

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