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23 raw milk dairy outbreaks with 300 illnesses since 2010
Source: http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/23-raw-milk-dairy-outbreaks-with-300-illnesses-since-2010/
By Bill Marler (Mar 16, 2012)
According to a press release form the Kansas State Department of Agriculture, since 2007; there have been three outbreaks of disease associated with consumption of raw milk in Kansas.  In October 2007, 68 people became ill due to consuming cheese made from raw milk at a Kansas community celebration. Laboratory tests confirmed the cause of this outbreak to be campylobacteriosis (see, About Campylobacter) an intestinal bacterial infection.  In a separate outbreak in 2007, unpasteurized milk purchased from a single dairy was also implicated as the source of illness for 25 persons due to campylobacteriosis.  More recently, reported in January 2012, 18 people became ill in an outbreak of campylobacteriosis associated with consumption of raw milk from a dairy in south central Kansas.  Retail sales of raw milk are not allowed in Kansas; however, on farm sales are according to Real Raw Milk Facts.
It is time to update the Outbreaks, Illnesses and Recalls Linked to Raw (Unpasteurized) and Pasteurized Dairy Products, United States January 2010 – March 2012 Chart.
; 23 raw dairy outbreaks with 300 illnesses, no deaths (20 fluid raw milk, 2 aged raw milk cheese)
; 2 pasteurized dairy outbreak with 39 illnesses, no deaths
; 1 pasteurized Mexican-style cheese sporadic illness, no deaths
; 2 queso fresco Mexican-style cheese outbreak with 67 illnesses, no deaths
; 3 sporadic illnesses and hospitalizations from illegal Mexican-style cheese, no deaths
; 14 raw dairy (7 fluid raw milk, 7 aged raw milk cheese)
; 7 queso fresco Mexican-style cheese
; 8 pasteurized (non-queso fresco) cheese
; 4 dairy product recalls due to inadequate pasteurization
Keep current at Real Raw Milk Facts Dot Com.

Recent CDC study reveals dangers of raw milk, but fans say benefits outweigh concerns
Source: http://www.heraldextra.com/momclick/recipes/recent-cdc-study-reveals-dangers-of-raw-milk-but-fans/article_02a02386-729f-11e1-96ed-001871e3ce6c.html
By Helen Shen (Mar 20, 2012)
Sujatha Kattimani, a Redwood City, Calif., software engineer, drives regularly to the Cupertino Farmers Market to buy raw milk at $7.25 per half-gallon. It’s about three times as expensive as regular milk and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, could make her ill. Kattimani drinks two glasses a day anyway. And she’s one of a rapidly growing number of raw milk enthusiasts.
Raw milk has not been pasteurized, or heated to kill bacteria. A recent CDC study says raw milk products accounted for 36 percent of individuals sickened in milk-related disease outbreaks between 1993 and 2006. That’s a large percentage considering that only an estimated 1 percent of milk drinkers consume raw milk.
In all, 4,413 people were sickened in dairy-borne outbreaks — although that is just a small fraction of the 48 million people the CDC estimates are sickened by food each year.
“No matter how you line it up, there is more risk with the raw product,” said Michele Jay-Russell, a University of California-Davis food safety expert not involved in the study.
CDC epidemiologist Adam Langer, lead author of the study, noted that research does not support any special health benefits of raw milk.
“It’s just not worth the risk,” he said.
But raw milk’s popularity persists in California, fueled by permissive laws that allow it to be sold in supermarkets and anecdotal evidence of health benefits that is enough to convince its devotees.
“I think it worked wonders for me,” said Kattimani, 43. Raw milk is the only milk she’s been able to drink since becoming lactose intolerant to both conventional and organic pasteurized milk. Of the CDC’s warnings, she says, “I don’t disregard them completely, but more like I always take it with a grain of salt.” She’s never had a problem with raw milk and said if she ever did, she would probably still drink it.
On its website, the pro-raw-milk Weston A. Price Foundation, a non-profit organization, criticizes the latest CDC study for stopping just before 2007, when tainted pasteurized milk killed three people.
Langer says they used the most recent data available. In the same week the study was published, raw milk sickened at least 78 people in a Pennsylvania outbreak.
California is one of 12 states that allow raw milk sales at retail stores, while 20 states prohibit sales outright. Other states permit raw milk with varying restrictions. Federal law prohibits selling raw milk across state lines.
Raw milk is a $9 million business in California, according to Mark McAfee, owner of the Fresno-based Organic Pastures Dairy Company — one of only two state-licensed raw milk suppliers.
“It sells like crazy,” said McAfee. His $8 million operation, licensed in 2001, has grown roughly $1 million annually in recent years, and now serves about 75,000 consumers weekly, he said.
Raw milk believers swear by the product’s purported health benefits, including relief from allergies, eczema, asthma, lactose intolerance, ulcers and inflammatory bowel disease. Most claims rely on anecdotal evidence and informal surveys.
Christine Chessen, 45, of San Francisco says raw milk improved her three children’s immune systems after they started drinking it in 2007. The family has since weathered every flu season sniffle-free. “It’s almost like I feel like they’re inoculated or something,” said Chessen, a certified nutritionist.
Some European studies have linked raw milk consumption to fewer childhood allergies. But many of those same studies cite milk-borne pathogens in recommending against raw milk as preventative treatment.
Federal health agencies say that while the benefits are yet unproven, the risks of raw milk are clear. Improper handling can still taint pasteurized milk, but the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration say high-temperature treatment is an important first line of defense.
“Raw milk does have a checkered history of safety issues,” acknowledged McAfee, alluding to the high incidence of milk-borne illnesses before the 1900s. But with modern sanitation, he believes “we know now how to produce very safe, very clean raw milk.”
Still, Organic Pastures milk has been recalled for disease outbreaks in 2006 and again in November — both related to the uncommon but highly virulent O157:H7 type of E. coli. Most recently, five children younger than 6, were sickened across California. Three children were hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome, which destroys red blood cells and damages the kidneys. It’s not the most common milk-borne pathogen, but it’s one of the most powerful.
State investigators found that the patients were linked only by recent consumption of Organic Pastures raw milk. All five were infected by a rare strain of E. coli O157:H7 that genetically matched soil, water and fecal bacteria samples found in the farm’s calving area — physically distant from the milking area and serviced by different staff. “We just don’t know how it happened,” said McAfee, who has since added new cleaning protocols.
Mary McGonigle-Martin, 52, of Murrieta, Calif., says she didn’t fully grasp the health risks when her 7-year-old son Chris was sickened in the 2006 outbreak. Pro-raw-milk websites and conspicuous advertisements at her local health foods store convinced her that raw milk could be a safe, natural remedy for her son’s chronic sinus congestion. She bought Organic Pastures milk after reading about the farm online. “That they tested the milk and they’d never found a pathogen — the testing was what sold me,” said McGonigle-Martin, a school counselor.
Even with sophisticated lab tests, E. coli can be much harder to detect in milk than in, say, ground beef, said Michael Payne, a University of California-Davis food safety expert. “I have zero faith that there exist technologies that currently allow for the adequate on-farm testing of raw milk for pathogens,” he said.
Chris Martin developed HUS, experienced kidney failure, and at one point required a ventilator. “My choice almost killed my child,” said McGonigle-Martin.
For other parents, she stresses that drinking and serving raw milk is a personal choice that should be made knowing all the risks.
“You better know what pathogens could be in the milk and what could result,” said McGonigle-Martin. “If you can’t name those diseases and illnesses, then you shouldn’t be making the choice.”

Food safety expert warns of 'nasty bug' in beef recall
Source: http://blog.usfoodsafety.com/2012/03/20/food-safety-expert-warns-of-nasty-bug-in-beef-recall/
By Doug Powell (Mar 20, 2012 )
Ex-pat food safety type Ben Chapman, described as currently professoring at North Carolina State University, was brought in by Canadian media today to add his perspective on the creepy crawly E. coli O157:H7 recall that now includes 135 different products.
“(It’s) really a nasty bug. As a father of two little boys, it’s one of the bugs that scares me the most.”
Chapman added that the growing nature of the beef recall shows that authorities “just weren’t able to find out what the history of the (originally suspect) product was, so they’ve essentially recalled everything that producer has put out.”
Garfield Balsom, a food safety and recall specialist at the Canadian Food Inspection Agenc, clarified the expanded recall of frozen burgers and steakettes all came from a Saskatoon food-processing plant operating under the name New Food Classics that has since stopped operations.
Chapman recommended using a thermometer to ensure hamburger has reached an internal temperature of 71C , noting that the inside color of meat is not a reliable indicator of how well cooked it is.
Norm Neault, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union local representing New Food Classics workers in Saskatoon, said the company had been struggling for some time and had gone into creditor protection in January. He said it was facing higher prices from its distributors for the raw products yet locked into long-term prices with its customers, resulting in lower profit margins.
The complete list of recalled products can be found online at:

Cinnamon challenge: Viral videos that can make kids sick
Source: http://yourlife.usatoday.com/health/healthyperspective/post/2012-03-19/cinnamon-challenge-viral-videos-with-health-risks/651200/1
By Kim Painter (Mar 19, 2012 )
Just a spoon full of cinnamon could land your kid in the hospital.
It's happened at least once in the past few weeks as teens inspired by viral videos -- and egged on by friends online -- have taken what's called "the cinnamon challenge."
The idea: Try to swallow a heaping helping of the spice, within a minute, with no water. The usual result: A coughing, gagging fit that produces clouds of cinnamon dust and leaves some people choking and gasping for air. Some end up vomiting. And it can get worse: Dejah Reed, a freshman at Huron High School in Ann Arbor, Mich., spent four days in the hospital with an infection and a collapsed right lung after trying it. Several other cases of kids sickened by the stunt were reported to a Michigan poison control center.
Fred Reed told a Detroit TV station that his daughter "was going in and out of consciousness. She couldn't breathe. She was turning pale... I hope parents and kids learn that it's not fun and games. She could have died."
The problem, doctors say, is that the cinnamon can block airways and get into lungs, causing irritation and inflammation. Teens with asthma could be especially at risk.
Principals in several communities have sent home warning letters to parents and some have banned cinnamon from school premises (one even banned the type of boots students were using to smuggle the stuff in).
But why would anyone want to do something that looks downright unpleasant -- and makes the spice-spewer an object of fun? Well, why did anyone ever swallow a goldfish? Or play "chubby bunny" -- a a marshmallow mouth-stuffing game that reportedly killed a child back in 1999? The cinnamon challenge isn't even new: Some of the popular videos have been around for years -- though the most popular one has racked up 10.4 million views in just under two months.
That kind of popularity gets kids' attention. As one nurse told WFMY-TV in Greensboro, N.C.: "Kids just want to be cool."
As of this afternoon, plenty of kids were still telling friends on Twitter that they were about to try the challenge-- and post the results online -- even as others warned they'd be sorry.

Certain ground beef products produced at Establishment 761 may contain E. coli O157:H7 bacteria
Source: http://inspection.gc.ca/english/corpaffr/recarapp/2012/20120317e.shtml
By CFIA Media Relations (Mar 17, 2012)
The public warning issued on March 15, 2012 has been expanded to include all ground beef products from Establishment 761 that were manufactured between July 1, 2011 and February 16, 2012 and described below, because the products may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is warning the public not to consume certain ground beef products, described below, from Establishment 761 because the products may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is also warning all retailers, distributors and restaurants not to sell, serve or use certain ground beef products, described below, from Establishment 761 because the products may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.
All ground beef products are being voluntarily recalled that were manufactured between July 1, 2011 and February 16, 2012 that were manufactured at this facility.
The affected products can be identified by the Establishment number that appears on the packages, cartons or cases. The products made at this facility bear Establishment number (EST) 761.
The affected products involved in this recall may be identified by one of the following codes:
a.bearing a Best Before date from BB 2012 JA 01 up to and including to BB 2013 FE 16;
b.bearing a production code with a format of 11 JL 01 up to and including 12 FE 16;
c.bearing a 5 digit lot code where the last four digits are 1831 or greater.
We will be updating product description information as it becomes available.
These products have been distributed nationally to retail stores, restaurants and institutional establishments.
There has been one reported illness associated with the consumption of these products.
Food contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 may not look or smell spoiled. Consumption of food contaminated with these bacteria my cause serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain and bloody diarrhoea. Some people may have seizures or strokes and some may need blood transfusions and kidney dialysis. Others may live with permanent kidney damage. In severe cases of illness, people may die.
The CFIA is working with all retailers and distributors to recall all affected products from the marketplace.  The CFIA is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall.
For more information, consumers and industry can call the CFIA at 1-800-442-2342 / TTY 1-800-465-7735 (8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday to Friday).
For information on E. coli O157:H7, visit the Food Facts web page at:
For information on all food recalls, visit the CFIA's Food Recall Report at:
To find out more about receiving recalls by e-mail, and other food safety facts, visit: www.foodsafety.gc.ca.
Food and consumer product recalls are also available at http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca.

Person to Person Salmonella Transmission in Ottawa Suspected
Source: http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/person-to-person-salmonella-transmission-in-ottawa-suspected/
By Linda Larsen (Mar 22, 2012 )
The Ottawa Citizen is reporting that the Ottawa health department has discovered a case of Salmonella in a high school student.
That student attended a school, Merivale High, that was not served by the caterer associated with the Salmonella outbreak at twelve other schools and one daycare. The student is a older sibling of one of the victims.
The outbreak number stands at 50, but 44 of those people are connected via food served by The Lunch Lady. Lab tests on The Lunch Lady’s food are still pending. The foods being tested include meat used in tacos and lasagna, sour cream, cottage cheese, and some spices.
Those tests should be available Friday, March 23, 2012. If you have questions, you can contact the Ottawa health department at 1-613-580-6744.

Study: Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella From Live Chicks
Source: http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/multistate-outbreak-of-salmonella-from-live-chicks/
By Linda Larsen (Mar 22, 2012)
Are you thinking of getting some chicks so you can produce your own eggs? Have the recalls of eggs from Daizen Farms, Michael Foods Inc., and the huge outbreak of foodborne illness from Wright County Eggs in 2010 have you forgoing eggs at the grocery store?
Your own hatchery may not be the answer. The CDC just released a study of an outbreak of Salmonella Altona and Salmonella Johannesburg infections linked to chicks and ducklings from a mail order hatchery last year.
Two clusters of human Salmonella infections from baby chicks were identified in 2011 through pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). From February 25, 2011 to October 10, 2011, 68 cases of Salmonella Altona and 17 cases of Salmonella Johannesburg had contact with live poultry the week before their illness developed.
Most people purchase chicks and ducklings (I have to think of Friends here) through mail order or from feed stores. Since 1990, there have been 35 ourbreaks of human Salmonella infections linked to live poultry from mail order hatcheries.
Contact with young children is especially problematic, since 32% of those with Salmonella Altona and 75% of those with Salmonella Johannesburg were under the age of five. And we all know how irresistible baby chicks and ducks are.
THe USDA’s National Poultry Improvement Plan (USDA-NPIP), the mail order hatchery industry, and other groups are developing a comprehensive Salmonella control strategy for live poultry. Mail order hatcheries must comply with the USDA-NPIP Salmonella guidelines, and educational materials warning customers should be given out with all live poultry purchases.
And if you want to purchase baby ducks and baby chicks, read through the CDC’s pamphlet titled “Risk of Human Salmonella Infections from Live Baby Poultry.

Mexican restaurant Chain A, a/k/a Taco Bell, Salmonella Outbreak: a final summary, and a history
Source: http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/mexican-restaurant-chain-a-aka-taco-bell-salmonella-outbreak-a-final-summary-and-a-history/
By Drew Falkenstein (Mar 22, 2012 )
In the end, 68 people were sickened in the 2011 Taco Bell Salmonella outbreak.  There have certainly been others, both outbreaks (see below) and other ill people in this outbreak, but that is the number of confirmed Salmonella enteritidis illnesses in this iteration of Salmonella tacos.
According to the CDC, who left it to Oklahoma to name Taco Bell as the source of this outbreak,
[The 68 people were from] Texas (43), Oklahoma (16), Kansas (2), Iowa (1), Michigan (1), Missouri (1), Nebraska (1), New Mexico (1), Ohio (1), and Tennessee (1).
Among persons for whom information was available, illnesses began on or after October 13, 2011. Ill persons range in age from <1 to 79 years, and the median age was 25 years old. Fifty-four percent of patients were female. Thirty-one percent of patients were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.
Taco Bell was recently served with a complaint filed in a lawsuit on behalf of an Oklahoma resident sickened in the outbreak.  Of course, Taco Bell has been sued before in Salmonella outbreaks.  In 2010, simultaneous outbreaks of Salmonella Hartford and Salmonella Baildon sickened 155 people in multiple states.  Marler Clark filed lawsuits in multiple states on behalf of victims of that outbreak as well. Incidentally, in the 2010 outbreak the CDC again declined to name Taco Bell as the source, instead referring to it as "Mexican restaurant Chain A."
Taco Bell's problems have not been limited to Salmonella either.  In 2006, 78 people were sickened in northeastern states in a E. coli O157:H7 outbreak ultimately linked to contaminated lettuce served at Taco Bell.  In 2000, 30 were sickened by hepatitis A in Florida, South Carolina, and Kentucky in an outbreak linked to Taco Bell's green onions. And way back in the 1990s, Taco Bell ground beef sickened a bunch of kids with E. coli O157:H7, and hepatitis A sickened about 95 people at a Utah Taco Bell.

Source of burger E. coli contamination unclear
Source: http://m.ctv.ca/topstories/20120321/e-coli-contamination-source-120321.html
By Angela Mulholland (Mar 21, 2012 )
An investigation continues into E. coli contamination of dozens of brands of burgers and steakettes produced at a single plant in Saskatoon, but the source remains a mystery.
Though 135 potentially contaminated brands have already been recalled, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says that list could grow as their investigation continues.
CFIA investigators appear to feel confident that the E. coli that has sickened at least one person in Alberta can be traced back to products from the Saskatoon processing plant of hamburger patty maker New Food Classics.
That company is now in receivership and both their Saskatoon and St. Catharines, Ont. facilities are no longer in operation.
As for how burgers from the facility became contaminated with E. coli, it appears that investigators are not yet sure. The CFIA says the possibly contaminated products were produced as far back as July, 2011. The fact that investigators are looking that far back and the list of recalled products is still growing suggests that investigators are still looking into the history of the contamination.
The CFIA has brought in Health Canada, and Public Health Agency of Canada as part of the probe.
The agency says it expanded the burger recall on Mar. 17 to include all ground beef products from the Saskatoon facility manufactured between July 1, 2011 and February 15, 2012 after reviewing Health Canada's health risk assessment.
"Since that time, the CFIA has been working continuously with the responsible company to gather detailed product information," the CFIA said on Tuesday.
E. coli often enters the food supply through beef. Keith Warriner, an associate professor of food microbiology at the University of Guelph says all beef cattle can carry E. coli 0157:H7 harmlessly in their intestines without suffering the symptoms of E. coli infection.
"About 10 per cent of the cattle in North America carry it," he told CTV's Canada AM Wednesday.
"During processing, E. coli in the manure – if you want to say it politely – gets on the carcass and then we grind up the meat and sure enough, we have E. coli in our meat," he explained.
But Warriner notes that less than 1 per cent of the ground beef patties in stores at any given time has E. coli in it.
"So I think a lot of the recall we have at the moment is more precautionary – some people say an overreaction," he said.
Investigators are likely showing an abundance of caution because of the dangerous nature of E. coli 0157:H7 and the serious health consequences that can result from consuming the bacteria.
The strain is the same one that led to the deaths of seven people and the illnesses of 2,500 more in Walkerton, Ont., in 2000.
E. coli 0157:H7 can cause severe -- and often -- fatal food poisoning. Symptoms usually begin within three to four days of eating contaminated food and the illness can last between five to 10 days.
Even those who survive the illness endure include severe abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. The infection can lead to significant blood loss and permanent kidney damage and is fatal in many cases.
Warriner says that cooking food to a safe internal temperature is effective at killing E. coli in ground beef. The problem, he says, is many people judge whether a burger is cooked by looking at the colour of the meat.
That is highly ineffective method for checking for "doneness," Warriner says. Instead, it's best to use a meat thermometer and check for an internal temperature of 74 degrees Celsius (165 F).
"The other risk is from handling the raw hamburger, because we can touch it and transfer the bacteria to our hands and then to salads and get cross-contamination," Warriner said.
Perhaps because of the known risk of cross-contamination, the CFIA is advising the public in this recall not to consume the affected products at all.
"Our message to consumers is if you have these products in your freezers, do not consume them," CFIA food safety and recall specialist Garfield Balsom told CTV News Tuesday.
Balsom said the CFIA learned of the E. coli-related illness on Feb. 15 and issued a recall of two beef products on Feb. 18.
"The investigation continued into that lot of product and culminated in the recall you're seeing (now)," Balsom said.
While there have been a number of E. coli infection outbreaks in recent years, the source of many of them is never clear.
An outbreak of E. coli linked to spinach in 2006 sickened at least 276 people in the U.S. and led to the deaths of three people. Investigators determined that outbreak was likely caused by manure runoff from an Angus cattle ranch that had leased land to the grower of the contaminated spinach.
But in their final report, U.S. investigators said they could not make a "definitive determination" as to how the E. coli contaminated the spinach.
A full list of the products affect in this latest recall is available on the CFIA website.

Blanket' ground beef recall issued as CFIA continue E.coli contamination source investigation
Source: http://www.foodqualitynews.com/Food-Alerts/Blanket-ground-beef-recall-issued-as-CFIA-continue-E.coli-contamination-source-investigation
By Mark Astley (Mar 21, 2012 )
Canadian food safety authorities have issued a “blanket” extended warning on ground beef products potentially contaminated with E.coli O157:H7 – almost a month after FoodQualityNews.com reported the original recall.
The recall, which has been extended to include all ground beef products manufactured between 1 July 2011 and 15 February 2012 at Establishment 761, has been issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) as a result of information collected during its investigation.
Frozen beef products from the facility, feared to be contaminated with E.coli O157:H7, have been linked to one illness in the country.
Following the original recall, which applied to two New Food Classics products manufactured at Establishment 761, the CFIA refused to take action until the source of the contamination had been pinpointed.
CFIA food safety and recall specialist Garfield Bolsom told FoodQualityNews.com that the recall extension was not a precaution, but the result of the agency’s on-going investigation - adding that the agency is yet to establish the source of the contamination.
“Blanket” recall
“This blanket recall is a result of information collected during our on-going investigation. We don’t like to call it a precaution; it is a result of our investigation so far,” said Bolsom.
“Our focus is to ensure the recall of potentially contaminated products from the marketplace. The investigation is continuing. But at this point we have not pinpointed the source.”
A voluntary recall relating to the ground beef products in question has been issued after the products were distributed nationally to retail stores, restaurants and institutional establishments.
The CFIA is also warning retailers, distributors and restaurants not to sell, serve or use certain ground beef products.
“The main steps for now are to ensure that the recall is conducted, and that these products have been removed from the market.”
“The investigation continues to establish the source of the contamination,” added Bolsom.
Original recall
FoodQualityNews.com reported on the original CFIA warning which related several batches of New Food Classics-manufactured 1kg packaged Country Morning Beef Burgers and one batch of 2.3kg packs of un-branded Club Pack Beef Steakettes.
At the time, the CFIA said that the investigation was on-going but that it would not take any further action until test results pinpointed the source of the contamination.
“Once the results have come back, and the issue has been established then we will look at changing practices,” said CFIA food safety specialist Fred Jamieson at the time.

Lemon juice is icky too; be honest with consumers and disclose what's in any food
Source: http://blog.usfoodsafety.com/2012/03/22/lemon-juice-is-icky-too-be-honest-with-consumers-and-disclose-whats-in-any-food/
By Doug Powell (Mar 22, 2012)
“There’s an ick factor to almost all food.”
That was my short-take on the pink slime smearfest, which has now dragged retailers, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, into the murky morass where public opinion intersects with scientific evidence.
This is nothing new.
Me, I find E. coli and salmonella in raw sprouts icky.
Other people find ammonium hydroxide, or pink slime, icky. People may soon discover they find citric acid icky because that’s what Cargill uses to yield finely textured beef and reduce the pathogen load.
It’s pink, it’s meat, it’s lean finely textured beef – LFTB yo – versus pink slime in public opinion, and processors, retailers and government spokesthingies are acting like they’ve never encountered a food-related, or any risk-related issue where public opinion is different from scientific advice.
It’s theatre, like a Mike Daisey production.
Mike Hughlett of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes today that Supervalu Inc., one of the nation’s largest grocery chains, will no longer sell hamburger containing an ammonia-treated beef filler dubbed “pink slime” by some food critics and a growing chorus of consumers.
The Eden Prairie-based company, which owns local supermarket leader Cub Foods, on Wednesday joined several fast-food chains and other major grocery operators in removing the controversial beef filler from hamburger sold in its outlets.
“This decision was due to ongoing customer concerns about these products,” said Mike Siemienas, a Supervalu spokesman.
While ammonia-treated hamburger filler has gotten most of the popular attention, Supervalu also said its ban on so-called “finely textured beef” includes meat treated with citric acid, which is made by Minnetonka-based Cargill Inc.
California-based Safeway Inc., another national grocery chain, also Wednesday said it nixed sales of both ammonia-treated and citric acid-treated ground beef fillers. Cargill spokesman Mike Martin acknowledged that some of its grocery industry customers have eliminated finely textured beef.
“There have been customers who have contacted us because they have been contacted by consumers who are interested and concerned,” Martin said.
Did Safeway and Supervalu stores get eggs from those nasty DeCoster farms in Iowa that sickened some 2,000 people with salmonella in 2010. Did they rely on crappy food safety audits to make their decision. If they are so concerned about consumer concerns, why won’t they provide information on egg suppliers? Or any other food?
Choice is a good thing. I’m all for restaurant inspection disclosure, providing information on genetically-engineered foods (we did it 12 years ago), knowing where food comes from and how it’s produced.
But I want to choose safe food. Who defines safety or GE or any other snappy dinner-table slogan drop? Removing pink slime hamburgers reduces my choice to buy microbiologically safe food
USDA and the companies that previously outlawed pink slime acted expediently to mange a public-relations event. But they unwillingly undercut other efforts to provide safe, sustainable food.
What is USDA going to do about school lunch purchases containing genetically-engineered ingredients, hormones, antibiotics, and a whole slew of politically-loaded ingredients or production practices?
If consumers want to become food connisours and safety experts, more power to them. I view my job, and the job of farmers, procesors, distributors and retailers, regardless of political leanings, to make evidence-based information available and let people decide.
Market microbial food safety and hold producers and processors – conventional, organic or otherwise – to a standard of honesty. Be honest with consumers and disclose what’s in any food; if restaurant inspection results can be displayed on a placard via a QR code read by smartphones when someone goes out for a meal, why not at the grocery store? Or the school lunch? For any food, link to web sites detailing how the food was produced, processed and safely handled, or whatever becomes the next theatrical production – or be held hostage.

Judge: FDA must act to cut antibiotics from animal feed
Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46830447/ns/health-food_safety/
By Jessica Dye (Mar 22, 2012)
A federal judge on Thursday ordered U.S. regulators to start proceedings to withdraw approval for the use of common antibiotics in animal feed, citing concerns that overuse is endangering human health by creating antibiotic-resistant "superbugs".
U.S. Magistrate Judge Theodore Katz ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin proceedings unless makers of the drugs can produce evidence that their use is safe.
If they can't, then the FDA must withdraw approval for non-therapeutic use of those drugs, the judge ruled.
The FDA had started such proceedings in 1977, prompted by its concerns the widespread use in livestock feed of certain antibiotics - particularly tetracyclines and penicillin, the most common. But the proceedings were never completed and the approval remained in place.
"In the intervening years, the scientific evidence of the risks to human health from the widespread use of antibiotics in livestock has grown, and there is no evidence that the FDA has changed its position that such uses are not shown to be safe," Katz wrote.
The lawsuit was filed by environmental and public-health groups including The Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Union of Concerned Scientists in the Manhattan federal court in May.
The plaintiffs argued that using common antibiotics in livestock feed has contributed to the rapid growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in both animals and humans.
Antibiotic-resistant infections cost Americans more than $20 billion each year, the plaintiffs said, citing a 2009 study from the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics and Cook County Hospital.
In his ruling, Katz ordered the FDA to follow through on the process it started in 1977 but only formally abandoned in December last year. The FDA said the proceedings were outdated and that it intended to pursue other regulatory strategies for coping with potential food-safety problems.
"The FDA has not issued a single statement since the issuance of the 1977 (notices) that undermines the original findings that the drugs have not been shown to be safe," Katz wrote.
The FDA could not be immediately reached for comment outside regular business hours on Thursday.
The case is Natural Resources Defense Council et al. v. FDA, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, no. 11-3562.

Connecticut Mulls Mandatory Labeling on GM Foods
Source: http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2012/03/connecticut-mulls-mandatory-labeling-on-gm-foods.aspx
By admin(Mar 22, 2012)
On March 21, Connecticut joined a handful of other states considering mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods when its General Assembly Environmental Committee voted 23-6 to approve a measure that would require producers to label genetically modified foods.
Currently, the federal government does not require labeling for genetically modified foods. Supporters of the measure say genetically engineered foods pose allergy and other health risks, and the proposed labeling would give consumers information about what is in their food. Opponents say it will lead to higher lead to higher packaging costs.
According to the Associated Press, the Connecticut Farm Bureau opposes the legislation, instead favoring labeling when necessary to protect health or inform consumers who have allergies.
In October 2011, a coalition of nearly 400 businesses and organizations dedicated to food safety and consumer rights has filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calling for the mandatory labeling on food products that use genetically modified ingredients.

Agilent to boost Salmonella and food fraud detection through double edged FDA pact
Source: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Agilent-to-boost-Salmonella-and-food-fraud-detection-through-double-edged-FDA-pact
By Mark Astley (Mar 22, 2012 )
Food safety specialist Agilent Technologies Inc. has entered into an agreement with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in a move that will see them working alongside the agency on two fronts - to speed-up Salmonella subtypes detection and prevent food fraud.
Under the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, California-based Agilent will work with the FDA in the development of tools to detect and analyse Salmonella in food and the improvement of DNA-based methods to prevent the adulteration of processed fish.
The pact will see Agilent will bring its scientific expertise, lab space, instrumentation, reagents, support and software to the table.
The first part of the project will involve the development of an assay panel to identify subtypes of Salmonella in food, which in the event of an outbreak could quickly identify the source and limit illnesses.
Working alongside the FDA and UK-based Campden BRI, Agilent will also conduct research to update methods for the routine confirmation of accurate seafood product labeling to identify cases of economic adulteration and fraud.
Salmonella subtypes
“We hope to gain an understanding of how new techniques can fit into the track-back procedures for pathogens used by the FDA. This is the first part of the agreement, to develop ways to discover the sources of bacteria faster,” Agilent’s North America food industry market development manager Steve Royce told FoodQualityNews.com.
The company will develop mass spectrometry-based genotyping protocols to speed-up the identification of pathogen subtypes.
“This approach also permits a high degree of multiplexing, enabling investigators to identify large numbers of serovars simultaneously.”
Royce added that in-time Agilent hopes to extend its research to apply to other pathogens.
“This will apply to a wide range of pathogens. We’re starting with a select group, and will expand the scope. We will target as many pathogens as possible in as many food types as possible,” added Royce.
Economic adulteration and fraud
Part two of the collaboration, which is being carried out with the additional help of UK-based Campden BRI, will concentrate on the update of Agilent’s ‘lab-on- a-chip’ method of DNA analysis.
“The second part of the agreement is to develop a better tool for confirming that seafood labels accurately indicate the species in the products. The goal is to be able to routinely identify cases of economic adulteration,” Royce said.
“For the fish species ID portion of the agreement, we’ll be developing improved protocols based on the lab-on-a-chip bionalyzer. This uses a disposable microfluidic electrophoresis chip and software to compare variations in DNA sequences in samples to a library of authenticated standards.”
The technique can identify species of fish, even after processing where identifying features such as the head, tail and skin are removed.
This type of test can detect the intentional mislabelling of a product, which is done to avoid tariffs and import restrictions or where a cheaper species of fish is sold as a more costly piece.
Scientific expertise
The agreement will see Agilent will bring scientific expertise, lab space, instrumentation, reagents, support and software to the table.
“The FDA is providing scientific personnel, samples, genome sequence data for pathogen serovars and input on highest priority gene targets and food matrices,” Royce added.
FDA division of microbiology director Eric W. Brown said: “This effort on the part of Agilent is of extraordinary importance to the FDA.”
“We expect this collaboration will be an important step in the development of new and specific tools for tracking bacterial pathogens in foods.”

Safeway, SUPERVALU and Food Lion to Stop Selling 'Pink Slime' Beef
Source: http://abcnews.go.com/US/safeway-supervalu-food-lion-stop-selling-pink-slime/story?id=15974064
By JIM AVILA (Mar 21, 2012 )
Safeway, SUPERVALU and Food Lion announced today that they will no longer carry what the meat industry calls "lean finely textured beef," something the public has come to know as "pink slime."
All three companies site customer concerns as one of the primary reasons for the change.
"While the USDA and food industry experts agree that lean, finely textured beef is safe and wholesome, recent news stories have caused considerable consumer concern about this product. Safeway will no longer purchase ground beef containing lean, finely textured beef," the company said in a statement.
Safeway is the second largest supermarket chain in the US. SUPERVALU, which operates Acme, Albertsons, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher's, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Shaw's/Star Market, Shop 'n Save and Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, is the third largest chain.
Walmart and Sam's Club also announced they would start offering beef that does not contain lean finely textured beef.
"Recently some customers have expressed concerns with lean finely textured beef (LFTB) and, while the USDA and experts agree that it is safe and nutritious, Walmart and Sam's Club will begin offering fresh ground beef that does not contain LFTB," the company said.
Walmart and Sam's Club were not alone in changing their practices. Kroger, the nation's number one grocery store, which carries beef both with and without it, said it provided a list of which beef does not contain the product to its meat departments so they can answer any questions.
"Meat departments have the list and we shared it widely on our Facebook page," the company said.
Public pressure from shoppers asking their butchers about what was in their beef and from Bettina Siegel, a mother of two, who started an online petition, which now has more than a quarter million signatures, helped spur the supermarkets to change.
Siegel commended the stores that have taken action, but is still concerned.
"It disturbs me that USDA made a decision that this filler, up to 15 percent doesn't have to be disclosed," she told ABC News. "Therefore the consumer is at the mercy of each retailer's decision."
The low-grade trimmings come from the parts of the cow most susceptible to contamination, often close to the hide, which is highly exposed to fecal matter. But because of the treatment of the trimmings — simmering them in low heat, separating fat and tissue using a centrifuge, and spraying them with ammonia gas to kill germs — the United States Department of Agriculture says it's safe to eat.
In response to our coverage, ABC News has been flooded with questions from concerned viewers about pink slime.
Many wanted to know whether it was in ground turkey or chicken, it is not. Pink slime is only being added to beef products, primarily ground beef, but it is also in some processed meats.
Viewer, Miles Herbert, wanted to know, "Is there any evidence that organic meat contains this pink slime?" It turns out there isn't. If your meat is stamped USDA Organic, it's pure meat with no filler.
Otherwise, you can't know from the packaging because pink slime does not have to appear on the label. And the USDA is giving no indication it will force meat packers to lift the veil of secrecy any time soon.

BPA Could Affect Reproductive Capabilities, Cause Infection of the Uterus
Source: http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/Safety/chemical/bpa_reproduction_infections_0320120616.html
By admin (Mar 20, 2012)
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have found evidence that, in addition to affecting the heart, brain and nervous system, bisphenol A (BPA), could affect a mammal’s ability to reproduce by altering the structure of the uterus in ways that can progress to a potentially fatal infection.
These findings are published in March 9, 2012, advance online edition of the Journal of Reproductive Toxicology.
Infection and inflammation of the uterus, or pyometra, is most commonly seen in animals like dogs and cats but can also affect humans. It is a result of hormonal and structural changes in the uterus lining and can be deadly if left untreated.
BPA is an industrial chemical and environmental pollutant found in many hard plastic products.
"This condition can be caused by chronic exposure to estrogens; however, it is unknown whether estrogenic endocrine disruptors, like bisphenol A, can cause pyometra,” says Scott Belcher, PhD, professor in the department of pharmacology and cell biophysics and principal investigator on the study. "We wanted to see if dietary exposures to BPA induced the condition in animal models of differing sensitivity to estrogens.”
Researchers in this study exposed the models to different dietary doses of BPA in their food, ranging from four to more than 4,000 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day, or 17á-ethinyl estradiol (EE), a semi-synthetic steroidal estrogen, in doses of one to greater than 150 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day. A control group received no dose of BPA or EE.
"Using two different strains of mouse models, we monitored to see which doses of endocrine disruptors affected which strains,” Belcher explains. "In a commonly used strain of mice, C57BL/6, pyometra occurred with 15 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day of EE and 33 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day of the BPA treatment groups.”
He continues that at the effective concentration of BPA, immune cell numbers in the uteri of the C57BL/6 strain animals exposed were increased five-fold compared with control animals. In a different strain of mouse (CD1), a similar increase in immune cell numbers required 100 times greater exposure.
"These results suggest that BPA enhances the immune responsiveness of the uterus and that the heightened responsiveness in the C57BL/6 strain of females is related to increased susceptibility to pyometra,” he says.
Belcher adds that the reason for this study was to compare appropriate concentrations of dietary estrogenic chemicals to allow reproduction—not to determine whether or not BPA had specific effects on reproduction or fertility.
"However, in the case where food consumption is altered and reproduction was completely blocked, some interesting and valuable insight to the impact of these dietary estrogens is possible,” he says. "It seems likely that the immunologic and structural differences between the strains indicate a potential key difference in susceptibility to developing pyometra, which is related to the immune response. We are extremely interested in understanding why some strains or individuals are insensitive to the effects of endocrine disruptors, while others are resistant to the harmful actions of these chemicals.
"The results here suggest that pyometra in the C57BL/6 strain might serve as a sensitive endpoint for understanding the mechanisms responsible for the impact of estrogen and estrogenic endocrine-disrupting chemicals on reproduction and also immunity. Further studies using the C57BL/6 strain might serve as a useful model of sensitive subpopulations at risk for developing immunological disorders related to exposures to estrogen disruptors like BPA.”
This study was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Science of the National Institutes of Health.

Washington State Dept of Agriculture issues warning for Daizen Farms eggs
Source: http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-watch/washington-state-dept-of-agriculture-issues-warning-for-daizen-farms-eggs/
By Colin Caywood (Mar 21, 2012 )
A consumer warning to avoid eating eggs from Daizen Farms of Burlington, Washington, has been issued by the state Agriculture Department.  As reported by Scott Sunde at the Seattle PI, the warning comes following a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspection that found egg-laying hens at the farm had been eating feed contaminated with rodent feces.  Further, recent testing on the feed confirmed it was positive for the presence of Salmonella, a dangerous pathogen, thereby increasing the liklihood that the hens are also contaminated with Salmonella.

E. coli outbreak underlines risks of food system
Source: http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1149446--e-coli-outbreak-underlines-risks-of-food-system
By Alyshah Hasham (Mar 20, 2012)
Before you take a bite of your hamburger, stop. Trace its journey back through the supermarket shelf, the warehouse, the refrigerated truck to the farm.
You could end up at a beef processing plant in Saskatoon (establishment number 761), which makes brands like President’s Choice, Grillhouse, Country Morning and Hero’s Certified Burgers.
The plant is part of a cost-effective, efficient supply chain, driven by the demand for low production costs and low consumer prices, that gets the meat from the Saskatoon factory to a fridge in Vancouver or a restaurant in Toronto.
While only some of the plant’s products have been infected with E. coli, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a series of national recalls for more than 135 products made at the plant, run by Burlington-based New Classic Foods, now in receivership.
Only one person has been reported ill.
The benefits of specialization, refrigeration and the development of efficient truck and rail systems took meat processing from being a highly localized to a highly globalized market, says Jared Carlberg, a professor at the University of Alberta.
That has created a double-edged sword for food safety measures.
“In recent years, fewer players in a more concentrated industry means less places to have to inspect, but it also means when things go wrong it has bigger, more far-reaching effects than in the past,” he says.
Those effects can include a product recall that spans the country, reminiscent of the 2008 listeriosis outbreak from Maple Leaf Foods.
A very small amount of E. coli bacteria need to be present to make a person sick. So, in hamburger manufacturing, where pieces of hundreds of carcasses can be ground together, one piece of contaminated meat in the batch can infect all of it, says Rick Holley, a food science professor at the University of Manitoba.
This can happen despite inspections within the factories, cleaning measures in the abattoir that include hot water sprays and acid washes, and refrigeration throughout the supply chain.
One thing consumers may be not aware of is that different brands are often produced in the same factory, said Jim Vercammen, a professor at the University of British Columbia. While this doesn’t really matter with cereals, consumers might be concerned with when this happens with meat products because of the greater contamination risk.
Vercammen says consumers might pay a bit more to have meat processed in separate facilities, but it’s hard to translate that feeling into the marketplace.
“We can’t resist the temptation for buying the cheapest product,” he says.
Vercammen adds it is a misconception that increasing fuel prices could discourage the consolidation of processing into fewer large factories, and encourage smaller local plants to be used.
“That’s not the case at all,” he says. “It’s really cost effective to put beef in a truck in Edmonton and move it to Vancouver, rather than have a separate facility in Vancouver,” he said.
Having fewer large plants and consolidated ownership could cause issues of market power, though this has not been the case in Canada because of the open border with the U.S., says James Rude, a resource economics professor at the University of Alberta. However, if the border closes down, that could shift the balance of power heavily into the favour of the processors.
But economies of scale also apply to positively to food safety, says Keith Warriner, a food science professor at the University of Guelph. Factories can make use of state-of-the-art technology and fewer factories mean more attention on inspecting and regulating them.
Government and food industries are making big investments in food safety to quickly and effectively isolate the problem, Carlberg says.
In the current E. coli case, the Saskatoon factory establishment number “761” written on the packaging allows consumers and supermarkets to trace their product back to the factory.
The CFIA is also currently working on a legislative framework to trace livestock and poultry.
But what about going further and being able to see the farm, and even the health history of the cattle your steak is taken from?
Carlberg says there are a number of logistical problems with this, and the real question is whether consumers will care to swallow resulting higher prices.
It’s difficult to maintain this information through the beef supply chain, through the process of beef getting carved into different cuts and being separated into boxes, he says.
“We want safe food first of all, and then we want cheap food. And the more information we want about our food, the more expensive it will be.”

Caramel color controversy: New approach needed to assess chemical safety?
Source: http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Regulation/Caramel-color-controversy-New-approach-needed-to-assess-chemical-safety
By Caroline Scott-Thomas (Mar 19, 2012 )
Some caramel color suppliers have changed their processes to avoid a cancer warning label in California – but current methods and data to assess its potential carcinogenicity in humans are limited, according to associate director of the National Toxicology Program (NTP).
California’s decision to set a safe maximum limit of 29mcg on a compound found in caramel color, 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI or 4-MI), was largely based on a study in mice carried out by the NTP, which found that the compound was carcinogenic at high doses – although another study in rats did not find this link.
NTP associate director Dr. John Bucher told FoodNavigator-USA that the program’s studies usually form part of a larger database of information.
 “This is really the first stage of the risk assessment process,” he said. “Unfortunately there’s lots and lots of chemicals that fall into this bracket…and the regulatory agencies need to make a decision.”
He said that in order to more accurately assess a chemical’s safety, among other factors, it would be necessary to have information about how it is metabolized in humans.
“We don’t generally work in human metabolism,” he said.
4-MEI forms in some caramel color production processes and is found in colas, coffee and some beers, as well as baked goods, breads and molasses. Its safety in caramel coloring used for colas in particular has stirred up controversy  after California included the compound on its list of potential human carcinogens, with warning labels required at much lower levels than those found in common colas on the market.
New approach
Bucher said that “often in absence of information”, safety data may be oversimplified – but he is hopeful that a new kind of testing will emerge to allow for more certainty about chemicals that may pose human health risks.
 “We are working on developing a new approach – a high throughput screening process that uses automated robotics,” he said.
“It allows you to test thousands of chemicals across chemical space, if you will…So you would be able to compare how a chemical works in animal cells and in human cells and then take suspect chemicals into animal studies. That’s the future. Unfortunately at the moment we are working the other way around.”
Assuming a linear relationship
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has called on the FDA for a complete ban of caramel colors that contain the chemical at levels that exceed the Californian threshold.
According to the information from the NTP’s mouse study, about a third of the mice developed tumors at very high dosage levels of 4-MEI. When CSPI extrapolated this in a linear manner to account for likely maximum intake of the chemical in human diets, it said the suggested 4-MEI could be responsible for seven cancers in every million Americans.
“Toxicologists assume a linear relationship (unless there is reason to think otherwise) between dose and effect,” CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson said.
However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has refuted claims that the amounts of caramel color in colas carry a cancer risk, and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), after conducting its own safety review, concluded that 4-MEI is not of concern.
Avoidable addition
CSPI is standing by its position that 4-MEI in caramel colorings should be banned, on the basis that coloring is an avoidable addition to products – and non-4-MEI and low-4-MEI alternatives are available, although they may be more expensive or present functional challenges for manufacturers.
“Governments should insist that only 4-MI-free caramel colorings be permitted,” Jacobson said.
Thresholds of response
Bucher added that high throughput screening may also help to develop more reliable ways to extrapolate dosage risk from animal data to humans.
 “We use 15 dose response curves, so you can see if there are thresholds of response much more easily,” he said.
4-MEI is not the only chemical formed during high temperature cooking that has been linked to cancer in animals. Researchers and manufacturers have developed a variety of options for reducing levels of acrylamide, for example, in foods such as baked goods and French fries.
“This is probably prudent,” Bucher said.
Meanwhile, despite controversy over 4-MEI, the CSPI has said that the sugar content of cola beverages “presents a greater health risk than the ammonia sulfite process caramel”.

Goat's milk protein gets EFSA all clear for infant formula use
Source: http://www.dairyreporter.com/Regulation-Safety/Goat-s-milk-protein-gets-EFSA-all-clear-for-infant-formula-use?utm_source=RSS_text_news&utm_medium=RSS%2Bfeed&utm_campaign=RSS%2BText%2BNews
By Ben Bouckley (Mar 19, 2012 )
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a scientific opinion concluding that protein from goat’s milk is a suitable protein source for infant and follow-on formulae, provided the final product complies with compositional criteria
Dairy Goat Co-Operative NZ Ltd made the application, and EFSA's Panel on Dietic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) said it had considered compositional data for infant and follow-on formula made from whole goat milk that retained the natural whey-to-casein ration of goat milk.
Also under the microscope was data from a double-blind, randomised, controlled, three-centre trial, and a reanalysis of trial data from that formed the basis of a panel evaluation in December 2005 that rejected a previous application.
Previous trial data flawed
At the time EFSA concluded that there was insufficient evidence to establish the suitability of goat milk as a protein source in infant formulae, with a supporting clinical study (examining goat milk protein-based formula) considered insufficient due to methodological flaws such as a small sample size and absence of a breast feeding reference group.
But for the current submission, EFSA’s NDA panel said that Dairy Goat Co-Operative’s technical dossier included a study of 200 Australian infants – randomised to receive infant formula with unmodified goat milk protein or a cow milk formula exclusively for at least four months and then in addition to complementary food until 12 months.
This did not show statistically significant or clinically relevant differences in infant weight, length or head circumference development between the two formula groups, EFSA’s panel said.
This study included a breast-fed reference group, while baseline characteristics between the participants were comparable between the two formula groups, EFSA’s panel said, although within the goat milk formula group more mothers smoked during pregnancy.
Compositional criteria compliance
The growth pattern for formula-fed infants differed, as expected (the NDA panel said) from that of the World Health Organisation (WHO) growth standard, particularly in respect to weight-for-length.
“The results of this study were supported by the results of the trial considered in the panel’s earlier assessment, in which, however, the sample size was insufficient to draw conclusions," the panel said in its opinion abstract.
“The panel concludes that protein from goat milk can be suitable as a protein source for infant and follow-on formulae, provided the final product complies with the compositional criteria laid down in Directive 2006/141/EC.”
Summing-up its opinion, which is available here , the panel added: “For goat milk protein to be used in infant and follow-on formulae, particular attention has to be given to the protein content and composition of the milk proteins, and to the amino acid content.”
This should comply with the above directive, EFSA’s NDA panel said, through the addition of free amino acids if necessary.

The 2011 Wegmans and Sunrise Commodities Pine Nut Salmonella Outbreak
Source: http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/the-2011-wegmans-and-sunrise-commodities-pine-nut-salmonella-outbreak/
By Bill Marler (Mar 22, 2012 )
The Outbreak
In late October 2011 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis. The outbreak was identified through routine surveillance of reported salmonellosis conducted by the CDC. Several states were reporting a spike in case patients infected with Salmonella Enteritidis strain JEGX01.0008/JEGA26.0032, a designation assigned by PulseNet, a database of foodborne pathogen genetic test results maintained at the CDC. The outbreak was assigned CDC Outbreak ID# 1109NYJEG-2.
Patients infected with the outbreak strain lived in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. Early in the investigation patients were interviewed using the CDC hypothesis generating questionnaire. Pennsylvania Department of Health epidemiologist Dr. Andre Weltman noted that many of the case-patients he interviewed had shopped at Wegmans stores and that they reported purchasing and consuming pine nuts from Wegmans. Investigators obtained shopper card records and discovered that ill persons had in fact purchased the same brand of pine nuts from bulk bins at Wegmans stores located in different cities and states. State and federal investigators conducted a traceback of the pine nuts consumed by ill persons and learned they originated in Turkey. Further investigation identified Sunrise Commodities, Inc., an Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey firm, as the importer and supplier of the bulk pine nuts to Wegmans stores.
Environmental Investigation
•The outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis was isolated in 14 samples of Turkish pine nuts or pesto by public health laboratories in several states and at the FDA.
•The Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services isolated the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis from Turkish pine nuts that were purchased from bulk bins at Wegmans stores and collected from an ill person’s home, and from retail samples of Turkish pine nuts collected from a Wegmans store where ill persons reported shopping.
•The New York State Department of Health, Wadsworth Center Laboratory, isolated the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritis’s from three separate samples of homemade pesto containing Turkish pine nuts from three unrelated ill persons' homes. In addition, culture of two samples of Turkish pine nuts which were purchased from bulk bins at different Wegmans stores and collected from two ill persons’ homes (one who also provided one of the pesto samples) yielded the outbreak strain.
•The Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Laboratories isolated the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritis’s from two samples of homemade pesto containing Turkish pine nuts from an ill person’s home, and from Turkish pine nuts which were purchased from bulk bins at two Wegmans stores and collected from two unrelated ill persons’ homes.
•The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene isolated the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritis’s from a sample of pesto containing Turkish pine nuts, and from a sample of Turkish pine nuts which were purchased from bulk bins at a Wegmans store and collected from an ill person’s home. The outbreak strain was also isolated from a sample of bulk pine nuts collected from a second Wegmans store in Maryland that was not associated with any illnesses.
•The FDA collected Turkish pine nuts from a warehouse used by Sunrise Commodities and from a warehouse used by a customer of Sunrise Commodities. The outbreak strain was isolated in samples from both warehouses.
•Four lots of the product covering two different crop years were implicated as matching the outbreak timeframe. On 11/3/2011, Sunrise initiated a recall of the lots with samples which were positive for Salmonella Enteritidis: 669510 (lot #29628) and 719885 9lot #27963). Genetic testing by PFGE of isolates cultured from these samples showed the Salmonella Enteritidis isolated in the contaminated pine nuts matched the strain found in outbreak associated case patients.
The Recalls
These findings prompted several recalls.
•On October 26, 2011 Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. recalled approximately 5,000 lbs. of Turkish Pine Nuts sold in the Bulk Foods department of most Wegmans stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland between July 1 and October 18, 2011.
•On November 4, 2011, Badia Spices, Inc. recalled approximately 3,800 lbs. of pine nuts. Badia Spices, Inc. repacked bulk pine nuts which were imported from Turkey and subsequently recalled by Sunrise Commodities of Englewood Cliffs, N.J. These pine nuts were sold in retail stores in Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey between June and October 2011.
•On November 9, 2011, FDA confirmed the presence of Salmonella on tested Turkish pine nuts distributed by Sunrise Commodities. The company voluntarily recalled four lots of the bulk Turkish pine nuts, totaling more than 21,000 pounds. Each lot was packed in 22-pound boxes. Sunrise Commodities distributed the Turkish pine nuts in bulk to various food vendors in Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Canada. Sunrise Commodities issued a recall notification to its customers dated November 4, 2011, alerting them of the test results and of the epidemiologic investigation and asking them to notify their subsequent customers of the recall.
A total of 43 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis was reported from 5 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state with the outbreak strain was as follows: Maryland (1), New Jersey (2), New York (28), Pennsylvania (8), and Virginia (4). Ill persons ranged in age from < 1 year to 94 years. The median age was 43 years old. Sixty percent were female. Two patients were hospitalized. There were no deaths.
See http://www.cdc.gov/pulsenet/whatis.htm for a description of PulseNet and how it is used in foodborne illness outbreak detection and investigation.
Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella Enteritidis Infections Linked to Turkish Pine Nuts, November 17, 2011, Final Update, http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/pinenuts-enteriditis/.

Canned Ripe California Olives Spread Botulism in 1919
Source: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/03/canned-ripe-california-olives-spread-botulism-in-1919/
By Dan Flynn (Mar 19, 2012 )
Editor's Note: In 1919, canned ripe olives spread an outbreak of deadly Botulism to three states. Nineteen people died, almost half the deaths ever caused by food products commercially canned in California -- all killed in one outbreak. The incident remains one of the 10 deadliest outbreaks of foodborne illness in U.S. history. As part of a periodic series on historic outbreaks, Food Safety News recounts the 1919 Botulism outbreak.
A young Dr. Charles Armstrong, fresh from fighting the world influenza epidemic that came with the Great War, was ordered by U.S. Surgeon General Rupert Blue to his home state of Ohio on July 1, 1919 to provide assistance to the state health officer.
Armstrong, just 33, returned home from war just six weeks before a county club banquet was held for more than 200 people near Canton, Ohio. Fourteen of those attending the banquet became stricken by botulism poisoning and seven of those victims died.
The coincidence of Armstrong's assignment to help out in Ohio meant he who would go on to worldwide recognition as virologist with his 1934 discovery of the virus he named lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM).
For the California olive industry, this meant the botulism outbreak of 1919 was going to be thoroughly and definitely tied around its neck. With a total of 19 botulism deaths in three states -- that were conclusively linked to canned California olives -- made the outbreak one of the deadliest outbreaks in the U.S.
The California olive industry owed it existence to those first olive trees planted in the mission orchards at San Diego, San Jose, Santa Clara and others before the American Revolution. For 20 years, it had been commercially viable, but the 1919 botulism outbreak was an unmitigated disaster. California olives did not recover for more than a decade.
Other U.S. states -- where those mission olive trees would never grow -- were the market for California canned ripe olives and now botulism in a can from California made for a pretty sensational story.
To make matters worse, California olive growers were not helped by the fact that, after 1919, the botulism outbreaks linked to olives did not really end until 1924.
The 1919 outbreak left dead in three states: Ohio (7), Montana (5), and Michigan (7).
It is Ohio that always gets the most attention, however, because of the Armstrong's investigation and the unusual circumstances he found at the country club. He found that at the country club event attended, which was attended by more than 200 people, the botulism was all contained to people who sat at one table, the chef and two waiters.
"The guests who became ill were all members of a party given by Mrs. I.W.G., of Sebring, Ohio, and had been served at a separate table which shall hereafter be designed as the Sebring table," Armstrong wrote. "The two waiters who attended this table and the chef were also affected."
Armstrong reported the banquet menu included: cantaloupe, turkey, turkey stuffing, tomatoes and mayonnaise, crackers, scalloped corn and pimentos, browned potatoes, green olives, celery and pickles, rolls, butter, ice cream cake, water and coffee.
But he found the Sebring table did not get the green olives, celery, and pickles. Instead, Mrs. I.W.G. provided ripe olives, chocolate candy, Newport creams and candied almonds.
In the Dec. 19, 1919 edition of Public Health Reports, Armstrong includes the seating chart for the Sebring table that also includes the location of the three plates of ripe olives. Five of those in proximity to the olive servings died including Mrs. I.W.G.
Botulism also killed the chef and a waiter.
By the time his investigation got underway, six of the cases "had terminated fatally," according to Armstrong.  While no illnesses occurred among those at other tables, Armstrong interviewed 15 of those guests and he also conducted a full blown epidemiological study to exclude all the items on the menu.
Of the 14 people who were ill, all ate olives. "When the dead are considered, it is found in a general way that those who died first who ate the most olives," Armstrong said.
Among those who were recovering, he said those who ate the least suffered were less severe cases. Those who survived reported the olives did not taste right. Asked to describe it, they said things like the olives "bit the tongue" and "stuck to the tongue" or just said they were "not fit to eat."
Armstrong found the ripe olives came from a vacuum-sealed jar and concluded, "something had occurred to destroy the vacuum in the jar, for, in opening it, the lid is said to have come off easily without having been punctured and without the use of instruments."  The lid was discarded, but the recovered glass jar  "was not cracked or defective in any way."
One of the waiters did not think the olives tasted right, and near the end of the banquet, he took them to the chef to get another opinion. The chef ate two, unwashed, and was among those who died. One of the two waiters for the Sebring table and a guest, both of whom survived credited the amount of whiskey they drank that evening as possibility saving their lives.
Pushing on, the investigation found the source of the contaminated olives to be the Ehmann Olive Company, formed in 1898 by Mrs. Freda Ehmann.  She started California's commercial olive industry and credited with establishing the modern California ripe olive industry.
She arrived in California as a widow in the 1890's when olive planting was peaking. She lost her first investment in a ranch called Olive Hill Grove and then turned her attention to perfecting a recipe for pickled olives and selling it to grocers.
By 1900, Ehmann Olive Company was running 90 vats at a large processing plant in Oroville, CA.
Dr. Judith Taylor, who wrote the book "The Olive in California," interviewed Freda Ehmann's grand-daughter who said her grandmother never could come to terms about the company's role in the 1919 outbreak.
USDA's Bureau of Chemistry did a study of Ehmann's glass and metal containers in 1920, finding both could look normal but still contain pathogenic organisms, including Clostridium botulinus.
California canned foods have been the source of about 40 deaths in other states, according to the California Department of Public Health.  The California State Board of Health responded to the 1919 outbreak with emergency regulation of olive production on Aug. 7, 1920, requiring sanitation through the processing facility and mandating a thermal process.
Heat treatment for olives after cans or jars are sealed to sterilize contents completely was required. Immersion in water at 240 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes was the rule.
California canned olives continued to poison people in some scattered cases.
The emergency regulations under the California Pure Foods Act and limited staff to enforce them were not enough. 
California responded with the Cannery Inspection Act of 1925.  Both the State Board of Health and the National Canners' Association supported it, which by then even favored federal inspection.
California's Food and Drug Branch today inspects 200 licensed canners where regulated products are packed. It's primary goal remains preventing foodborne botulism. Tests for retort operators to determine qualifications to operate sterilization equipment are critical.
Dr. Armstrong continued to serve in the uniformed U.S. Public Health Service until 1950, ending up as Chief of the Division of Infectious Disease. In Warm Springs, GA, a sculpture of his likeness is found in the Polio Hall of Fame.  He is recognized for being the first to adapt and transmit the human strain of poliovirus to small rodents from monkeys, a key step in the development of vaccines.
As for Mrs. I.W.G., her death by Botulism was probably known to her friends and neighbors in Sebring at the time, but she remains known 87 years later only by those initials assigned to her by Dr. Armstrong.


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