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Climate Change May Affect Food Poisoning Outbreaks
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/climate-change-may-affect-food-poisoning-outbreaks/
By Linda Larsen (Apr 04, 2012)
Scientists predict many consequences to climate change, such as changes in weather patterns and severity of storms. But a new report titled Assessing the Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Food and Waterborne Diseases in Europe ties climate change to increases in food poisoning outbreaks.
The report is an assessment of 741 peer-reviewed publications, reports, and scientific sources. From these, the researchers found 1653 “key facts” linking food and waterborne illness pathogens with climate variables.
Climate scientists say that global mean air temperatures are projected to increase by 1.1 to 6.4 degrees C (2 to 11.5 degrees F) this century. Public health is affected by these changes, such as deaths in heat waves, flooding, and increases in illnesses because of shifting distribution of communicable diseases.
Food and waterborne disease incidence is linked to precipitation levels and ambient temperature increases. Higher temperatures accelerate pathogen growth. Extreme rain events can increase the pathogen flow into the water supply. And extended warm weather seasons can compound food handling mistakes.
The identified climate variables included:
¡áWater temperature
¡áAir temperature
¡áHeavy rainfall events
¡áTemperature changes
Many food poisoning outbreaks are linked to improper food handling and storage. For instance, perishable food should not be held out of refrigeration longer than two hours. But that time is cut in half as the temperature increases. When the ambient air temperature is over 90 degrees F, perishable food can be out of refrigeration for only one hour.
These pathogens were linked to climate variables in the literature.
¡áCampylobacter is the source of the most prevalent food and waterborne disease in Europe. Most cases are caused by eating raw or undercooked poultry, unpasteurized milk, or contaminated water. The report found that Campylobacter outbreaks show strong seasonality. Outbreaks were cited with the highest frequency in association with air temperature, but the strength of association was not consistent. And Campylobacter outbreaks are often associated with weather events. The peaks of these outbreaks may change as a result of climate change.
¡áSalmonella infections are more common in summer than winter. The most common sources of this bacteria are from raw poultry, ground beef, eggs, and unpasteurized milk.
Salmonella was also cited with high frequency in associated with air temperature. Improper food storage and handling are common causes of salmonellosis. Some scientists think that one-third of salmonellosis cases are caused by increased air temperature. In fact, scientists have found that for every degree the air temperature rises above 43 degrees F, salmonellosis cases rise 12%. But the report found that salmonellosis incidence has decreased throughout Europe, most likely because of public health measures.
¡áCryptosporidium is a parasite found in drinking and recreational water. Most people contract it by swallowing water contaminated with the parasite. Many studies have linked the transmission of Cryptospordium with heavy rainfall events, surface water, and tap water, so the researchers predict that unexpected precipitation events will increase cryptosporidiosis outbreaks. Since severe storms can overwhelm water treatment facilities, Cryptosporidium contaminations may increase.
¡ánon-cholera Vibrio bacteria are in the same family as the bacteria that cause cholera. People who eat contaminated seafood or have an open wound that is exposed to seawater can contract the disease. Ulceration, skin breakdown, and, in rare cases, septicemia can occur when the bacteria enter open wounds. There is a strong association between rising water temperatures, higher air temperature during longer summer seasons, and non-cholera Vibrio infections. But the researchers found that because the incidence of this bacteria is low, an increase in diseases will be modest.
¡áListeria is found in soil and water. Foods that have been contaminated with Listeria include produce, ready-to-eat foods, unpasteurized milk and cheeses, and uncooked meats. This bacteria as a source of infection wasn’t associated with any of the climatic extremes in any report. The report authors believe that climate change is not likely to influence listeriosis outbreaks, but indirect pathways could result in more cases.
¡áNorivirus causes many cases of gastroenteritis every year because it is very contagious. It is spread through person-to-person contact. One sick person preparing food for a group can infect many people. It is most common in the winter months when people are forced into close contact. But the report says that there is little published information about a connection between climate and Norovirus outbreaks.
The researchers mention that quantitative modeling studies should look at the strength of association between pathogens and climate variables. The frequency of association between climate variable and pathogens in the report is a “possible, albeit imperfect, proxy for strength of association.”
The report concludes that Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Cryptosporidium should be high priority for future studies and planning for climate changes. Outbreaks of illness caused by these pathogens have a strong public health impact and their incidence is strongly associated with climate change.
The report did acknowledge publication bias in the studies, since reports written in English and German were most often used. The authors also say that underreporting and lack of information on the connection between climate change and food and waterborne illness outbreaks could be a risk to public health. The authors hope that the decline in Salmonella infections because of public health efforts can be replicated with other pathogens, even if climate change causes incident increases.

Cantaloupe Guidance Development Progress Shared Online
Source : http://supermarketnews.com/food-safety/cantaloupe-guidance-development-progress-shared-online
By Jenna Telesca (Apr 04, 2012)
To communicate with industry members and promote transparency, produce industry groups said they will be tracking progress using a series of weekly webinars focused on developing cantaloupe-specific food safety guidance on the website cantaloupe-guidance.com.
The working weekly webinars, which will start on Tuesday, April 10, at 9 a.m. Pacific, will address different elements of cantaloupe food safety in approximately 15 sessions.
“Experience tells us that some sessions are really fairly straightforward, and there’s not a lot of differences and not lot of discussion that’s needed,” said Bob Whitaker, chief science and technology officer at the Produce Marketing Association, at an introductory webinar this week.
“While other [sessions], we find that can be quite diverse. And the interpretation of those and peoples’ input is extremely important, so we want to make sure we take the right amount of time, so we capture the right elements for the guidance document.”
The new website will not only be used to alert produce industry experts to webinar topics, but also to communicate with the general public about the guidance development process.
“We’re doing this to try to make this as accessible as we possibly can to the industry, but we also need to make it as transparent as we can not only for the industry but there are a lot of people who are interested in this topic and would like to track if you will, the progress that is made by the industry,” said Hank Giclas, senior vice president of science, technology and strategic planning at the Western Growers Association.
Through the website, Giclas mentioned that people can give input, read news, find out about the upcoming webinars with links to register, and access a timeline and resources.
The facilitation group, composed of members from different industry groups, plans to have a draft of the guidance completed by Aug. 1, 2012, and finalized by Sept. 1.
The cantaloupe guidance is one part of an overall program developed at a meeting held by the Center for Produce Safety in January where industry members discussed cantaloupe food safety following a multistate Listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupes grown by Holly, Colo.-based Jensen Farms. It caused 30 deaths and 146 illnesses.
Industry groups and universities have developed a food safety training strategy, and are working to develop a training curriculum for growers, handlers, brokers, wholesalers, and retail and food service buyers, according to Whitaker. The outline for this outreach will be presented at the United Fresh Produce Association Expo in Dallas next month, as well as on www.cantaloupe-guidance.com.
In addition, the industry-supported Center for Produce Safety will review cantaloupe-specific food safety proposals next month for funding. The industry is seeking information related to the prevalence of Salmonella and Listeria in production environments, the role of biofilms in packing operations, and post harvest operations or protocols that could reduce microorganism, Whitaker said.

Salmonella Outbreak Puts Rules in Spotlight
Source : http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304072004577324181236297416.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
By Thomas M. Burton, Bill Tomson, Betsy Mckay (Apr 04, 2012)
Federal and state health officials are focusing on sushi as a possible cause of a widening salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 93 people over two months, as food-safety advocates call on the Obama administration to speed up new standards that might help avoid future foodborne infections.
Many of the people in 19 states and the District of Columbia who were sickened by an unusual strain called salmonella Bareilly have told officials they had recently eaten sushi. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday it had "not conclusively identified a food source."
State officials in Louisiana, ...

Ammonia used in many foods, not just "pink slime"
Source : http://updatednews.ca/2012/04/04/ammonia-used-in-many-foods-not-just-pink-slime/
By admin(Apr 04, 2012)
Surprise rippled across America last month as a new wave of consumers discovered that hamburgers often contained ammonia-treated beef, or what critics dub “pink slime”.
What they may not have known is that ammonia – often associated with cleaning products – was cleared by U.S. health officials nearly 40 years ago and is used in making many foods, including cheese. Related compounds have a role in baked goods and chocolate products.
Using small amounts of ammonia to make food is not unusual to those expert in high-tech food production. Now that little known world is coming under increasing pressure from concerned consumers who want to know more about what they are eating.
“I think we’re seeing a sea change today in consumers’ concerns about the presence of ingredients in foods, and this is just one example,” said Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety.
Ammonia, known for its noxious odor, became a hot topic last month with the uproar over what the meat industry calls “finely textured beef” and what a former U.S. government scientist first called “pink slime”.
Used as a filler for ground beef, it is made from fatty trimmings that are more susceptible to contamination than other cuts of beef, and are therefore sprayed with ammonium hydroxide – ammonia mixed with water – to remove pathogens such as salmonella and E.coli.
After critics highlighted the product on social media websites and showed unappetizing photos on television, calling it “pink slime,” the nation’s leading fast-food chains and supermarkets spurned the product, even though U.S. public health officials deem it safe to eat. Hundreds of U.S. school districts also demanded it be removed from school lunch programs.
One producer, Beef Products Inc, has since idled three factories. Another, AFA Foods, filed for bankruptcy protection.
The outrage, which many experts say has been fueled by the term “pink slime,” seems more about the unsavoriness of the product rather than its safety.
“This is not a health issue,” said Bill Marler, a prominent food safety lawyer. “This is an ‘I’m grossed out by this’ issue.”
Still, critics of so-called “Big Food” point out that while “pink slime” and the ammonia in it may not be harmful, consumer shock over their presence points to a wider issue.
“The food supply is full of all sorts of chemical additives that people don’t know about,” said Michele Simon, a public health lawyer and president of industry watchdog consulting firm Eat Drink Politics.
The meat industry has been trying to raise awareness of other foods that contain ammonia, in response to what it has characterized as an unfair attack on a safe and healthy product.
For example, ammonia compounds are used as leavening agents in baked goods and as an acidity controller in cheese and sometimes chocolate.
“Ammonia’s not an unusual product to find added to food,” Gary Acuff, director of Texas A&M University’s Center for Food Safety, told a recent press conference hosted by Beef Products Inc. “We use ammonia in all kinds of foods in the food industry.”
Kraft Foods Inc, whose brands include Chips Ahoy cookies and Velveeta cheese, is one company that uses very small amounts of ammonium compounds in some of its products. It declined to specify which products.
“Sometimes ingredient names sound more complicated than they are,” said Kraft spokeswoman Angela Wiggins. She also pointed out that ammonia, made up of nitrogen and hydrogen, occurs naturally in plants, animals, water, air and in some foods, including milk.
Wiggins said that in turning milk to cheese, a tiny amount of ammonium hydroxide is added to a starter dairy culture to reduce the culture’s acidity and encourage cheese cultures to grow.
“It is somewhat similar to activating yeast for dough by adding warm water, sugar and salt to create the proper environment for yeast growth,” Wiggins said.
In the case of ammonium phosphate, used as a leavening agent in baking, she said the heat during baking causes the gas to evaporate so no ammonia is left in the product. “It is quite similar to adding wine to a sauce and cooking away the alcohol.”
Compounds such as ammonium hydroxide, ammonium phosphate and ammonium chloride are considered safe in small amounts.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted ammonium hydroxide status as a GRAS, or Generally Recognized as Safe, substance in 1974.
Ammonium hydroxide is also an acceptable ingredient under the conditions of “good manufacturing practices” in dozens of foods, from soft drinks to soups to canned vegetables, according to the General Standards for Food Additives set forth by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a group funded by the World Health Organization and the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization.
A trip to the grocery store revealed ammonium chloride – a salt – present in Wonder Bread and Chef Boyardee Mini Ravioli, made by ConAgra Foods. Ammonium phosphate, another type of salt, is listed on Chips Ahoy cookies.
But ammonium hydroxide, the chemical often used to sanitize the “pink slime,” was harder to find.
That is because it is often considered a “processing aid,” which is not required by U.S. regulators to be included on food labels.
“If it helps facilitate a process, it’s not required and (if) it’s used at a percent less than 1 percent, it doesn’t have to be declared on the label,” said Roger Clemens, president of the Institute of Food Technologists and chief scientific officer of E.T. Horn Co, a private chemical and ingredient company.
He said ammonia in food is now being used less than before, as replacement products gain popularity.
When asked if their products were made with ammonium hydroxide, Sara Lee Corp, Hormel Foods, Kellogg and ConAgra said they were not.
Hershey said it uses “natural cocoa” in most of its chocolates, but in the few products that use “alkalized cocoa,” it uses potassium carbonate, not ammonium hydroxide.
General Mills said the company does not discuss its production processes. Campbell Soup Co did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Less Than 1 in 6 Americans Frequently Washes Grocery Totes Increasing Risk for Food Poisoning
Source : http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120403135957.htm
By ScienceDaily (Apr 04, 2012)
Reusable grocery totes are a popular, eco-friendly choice to transport groceries, but only 15 percent of Americans regularly wash their bags. Most users are inadvertently creating a breeding zone for harmful bacteria, according to a new survey by the Home Food Safety program, a collaboration between the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) and ConAgra Foods.
"Cross-contamination occurs when juices from raw meats or germs from unclean objects come in contact with cooked or ready-to-eat foods like breads or produce," says registered dietitian and Academy spokesperson Ruth Frechman. "Unwashed grocery bags are lingering with bacteria which can easily contaminate your foods."
Each year, 48 million Americans are affected by food poisoning caused by foodborne pathogens such as salmonella, listeria and E. coli.
"Food poisoning can easily be prevented with practical steps, such as cleaning grocery totes and separating raw meats from ready-to-eat foods when shopping, cooking, serving and storing foods," Frechman says.
According to Frechman, bacteria can be eliminated by: • Frequently washing your grocery tote, either in the washing machine or by hand with hot, soapy water; • Cleaning all areas where you place your totes, such as the kitchen counter; • Storing totes in a clean, dry location; and • Avoiding leaving empty totes in the trunk of a vehicle.
"When grocery shopping, wrap meat, poultry and fish in plastic bags before placing in the tote, and use two different easy to identify totes; one for raw meats and one for ready-to-eat foods," Frechman says.
It's also important to separate raw meats from ready-to-eat foods when preparing food, she says. To stay safe in the kitchen, use two cutting boards: one strictly to cut raw meat, poultry and seafood; the other for ready-to-eat foods, like breads and vegetables.
"Don't confuse them, and always wash boards thoroughly in hot, soapy water or in the dishwasher after each use," she says. "Discard old cutting boards that have cracks, crevices and excessive knife scars."

Lean Finely Textured Beef: Label Request and Support
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/lean-finely-textured-beef-label-request-and-support/
By Linda Larsen (Apr 03, 2012)
The fight over Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB), popularly known as “pink slime”, continues this week with a U.S. Representative calling for labeling any beef that contains the product, and a Governor asking schools to continue using the product.
Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) introduced the “Requiring Easy and Accurate Labeling of Beef Act (REAL Beef Act) amendment, H.R. 4346, to the Federal Meat Inspection Act, a bill in front of the United States House of Representatives. The bill has 10 co-sponsors, including Rep. Chris Van Holllen (D-MD), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Tim Ryan (D-OH), and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). The bill has been referred to committee.
In a press release obtained by Food Poisoning Bulletin, Rep. Pingree said, “Consumers have made it pretty clear they don’t want this stuff in their food. If a product contains connective tissue and beef scraps and has been treated with ammonia, you ought to be able to know that when you pick it up in the grocery store.”
Pingree stated that the legislation was about choice and transparency. At this time, LFTB can comprise up to 15% of ground beef without requiring a label. Food labels are required to list ingredients, including additives and preservatives, that are used to make the product. LFTB is beef, a food product, so its inclusion on a ground beef label is not legally required at this time. And since ammonium hydroxide is on the FDA’s GRAS list (generally regarded as safe) and is classified as a “processing aid”, not as an additive, it isn’t included on labels.
That same day, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds sent a letter to Iowa school superintendents, asking them to continue to purchase LFTB for school lunches.
The letter said that this product should be included in ground beef as an effort to battle childhood obesity. The letter reads, in part:
“I am asking you to continue choosing the safe and healthy lean, finely textured beef. By removing this lean product, schools will be forced to serve a fattier, unhealthier product. My goal is to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation over the next 5 years. We will not get there if we take a step backwards by removing lean, finely textured beef.”
LFTB is made when beef trim scraps, which contain fat and connective tissue, are placed in a centrifuge. The beef is spun to separate the lean meat, which would otherwise be lost in processing, from the fat. This results in a product that is 94 to 97% lean beef. The product needs to be specially treated because it may be more contaminated with bacteria than regular ground beef since it’s obtained from areas closer to the hide.
No meat produced by Beef Products, Inc., the originator of the product, has ever been linked to a foodborne illness.

FSA launches taskforce to focus on food safety ahead of Olympics
Source : http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/03/04/2012/343093/FSA-launches-taskforce-to-focus-on-food-safety-ahead-of.htm
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford (Apr 03, 2012)
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched a new taskforce of environmental health officers to increase the focus on food safety in the run up to and during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Food Safety Squad will carry out extra hygiene inspections of food outlets to make sure that all food sold, cooked and eaten during the Games is safe.
The 10-strong team will represent the many hundreds of environmental health officers across the UK also carrying out additional hygiene and safety inspections on food businesses in preparation for the Games.
The focus of the campaign is on areas that are likely to see a big influx of visitors and an increased number of food outlets during the Games period, such as towns and cities hosting events, and live sites (venues with big screens that will show events live).
Food businesses that do not make the grade on inspections will be given one-to-one training to ensure they are aware of, and follow, food hygiene regulations. Tough enforcement action will follow where public health is put at risk, said the FSA.
Sarah Appleby, head of enforcement and local authority delivery at the FSA, commented: "We have s
o much fantastic food to showcase to Games visitors, and we want food business owners to ensure that everything they sell is the best it can be.
"It will be an exceptionally busy time for a lot of these businesses, and the FSA is providing extra support and advice to make sure they are well prepared to meet the challenge."
The Food Safety Squad and Play It Safe awareness campaign is operating alongside a variety of FSA measures to minimise the risk of food safety incidents occurring during London 2012.
These include a food safety coaching programme for small businesses in Olympic areas that are in need of improvement; funding and training initiatives for local authorities in Olympic areas; and providing extra equipment for sampling and checks on cleaning for enforcement officers working on the ground in Olympic areas.
The FSA is also working closely with LOCOG's contract caterers within Olympic venues, and helping with sampling and checks on the food supply chain.
Further information for food businesses and the general public will be available during the coming months on www.food.gov.uk/olympics and through a dedicated Twitter feed which will be launched in the coming weeks, @playitsafefood.

Pink Slime' Maker AFA Files For Bankruptcy
Source : http://blog.usfoodsafety.com/2012/04/02/pink-slime-maker-afa-files-for-bankruptcy/
By foodsafeguru (Apr 02, 2012)
AFA Foods, a company that produces beef products, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today and announced it’s selling some assets because of a decrease in demand attributed to the recent media coverage of “pink slime.”
The company, based in King of Prussia, Pa., said it secured $56 million in financing to continue operating during the bankruptcy process.
AFA Foods, which according to Bloomberg employs about 850 full-time employees, said in a press release that the media’s reporting on “pink slime” has created “changes in the market.”
Beef Products Inc., one of AFA’s competitors, has also experienced a dramatic decline in sales and closed three of its four plants last week.
Until recently, the lean finely textured beef, known to critics as “pink slime,” was added to America’s fast food, school lunches and 70 percent of all ground beef sold at grocery stores.
Due to consumer complaints following recent media reports several fast-food chains and many of the nation’s largest grocery chains have stopped purchasing beef that contains the filler. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also announced that schools that are part of the government’s lunch program will be able to choose whether they purchase lean finely textured beef.

Ripeness-varying Salmonella behaviour could lead to produce food safety boost
Source : http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Ripeness-varying-Salmonella-behaviour-could-lead-to-produce-food-safety-boost
By Mark Astley (Apr 02, 2012)
The changing behaviour of Salmonella on ripe and unripe tomatoes could lead to the improvement of measures against the attachment and survival of the pathogen on tomatoes, UK researchers have claimed.
Researchers at Imperial College London have discovered that Salmonella microbes attached to ripe tomatoes produce an extensive network of filaments - behaviour not witnessed when the bacterium to present  on the surface of unripe tomatoes.
Head of the study, professor of molecular pathogenesis Gad Frankel told FoodQualityNews.com that this behaviour could determine how successfully foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella attach and survive on raw produce such as tomatoes.
Frankel added that understanding how Salmonella behaves on the surface of ripe and unripe tomatoes could lead to new strategies to improve food safety.
Prevent Salmonella survival
“The fact that Salmonella bacterium is responding differently at different stages of ripeness is very interesting,” said Frankel.
“We are interested to know how Salmonella microbes firstly attach to tomatoes and how they manage to survive. Through this research, we are looking to establish whether we can prevent the attachment and survival of Salmonella on tomatoes.”
“We want to make sure we are using the most effective composition for washing tomatoes,” he said.
According to Frankel, when attached to green un-ripened tomatoes, Salmonella microbes appear smooth under a microscope. However, when present on red ripened samples the bacterium appeared to produce filament.
“It appears that Salmonella microbes have a sense of whether or not they are attached to red or green tomatoes."
“We need to check whether filaments make a difference and if they have a stronger attachment – it is one possibility, but it’s not proven yet,” Frankel added.
However, he added that translating this research into new decontamination practices is a challenge for future studies.
Tainted tomatoes
In recent years, tomatoes and similar products such as jalapeno and Serrano peppers have been implicated in several foodborne disease outbreaks.
In December 2011, US and Canadian food safety authorities issued separate warnings on a brand of jalapeno and Serrano peppers that were potentially contaminated with Salmonella.
The peppers became the subject of a recall in the US and a product warning in Canada after a random US Department of Agriculture (USDA) sample of the product was found to be contamination with potentially deadly Salmonella.
Tomatoes were falsely implicated in an outbreak of Salmonella in the US in 2008. The contamination, which went on to infect around 1,500 people and kill two people in the country, was later attributed to tainted Mexican peppers.

FDA rejects call to ban BPA from food packaging
Source : http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46908536/ns/health-food_safety/
By MATTHEW PERRONE (Mar 30, 2012)
The Food and Drug Administration has rejected a petition from environmentalists that would have banned the plastic-hardening chemical bisphenol-A from all food and drink packaging, including plastic bottles and canned food.
The agency said Friday that petitioners did not present compelling scientific evidence to justify new restrictions on the much-debated chemical, commonly known as BPA, though federal scientists continue to study the issue.
The Natural Resources Defense Council's petition was the latest move by public safety advocates to prod regulators into taking action against the chemical, which is found in everything from CDs to canned food to dental sealants.
About 90 percent of Americans have traces of BPA in their bodies, mainly because it leaches out of bottles, canned food and other food containers.
Some scientists believe exposure to BPA can harm the reproductive and nervous systems, particularly in babies and small children, potentially leading to cancer and other diseases. They point to results from dozens of BPA studies in rodents and other animals.
But FDA reiterated in its response that that those findings cannot be applied to humans. The agency said the studies cited by NRDC were often too small to be conclusive. In other cases they involved researchers injecting BPA into animals, whereas humans ingest the chemical through their diet over longer periods of time. The agency also said that humans digest and eliminate BPA much more quickly than rats and other lab animals.
"While evidence from some studies have raised questions as to whether BPA may be associated with a variety of health effects, there remain serious questions about these studies, particularly as they relate to humans," the agency said in its response.
The National Resources Defense Council petitioned the FDA in 2008 to ban BPA as a food additive, including all uses in food or beverage packaging. Petitions on various safety issues are routinely filed by advocacy groups, companies and even individuals. When the FDA failed to respond within the required timeframe, the environmental group sued the agency. In December a federal judge ruled that the agency had to respond by the end of March.
The agency's official position is that there is "some concern" about BPA's effects on young children. The government is spending $30 million to conduct additional studies on the chemical's impact on humans. Several federal studies published in the last two years suggest that even human embryos retain far less BPA than other animals.
Many companies have already responded to consumer demand by removing BPA from their products. In 2008, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Toys "R" Us said they began phasing out bottles, sippy cups and other children's items containing BPA. By the end of 2009, the six leading makers of baby bottles in the U.S. went BPA-free. Earlier this month Campbell's Soup said it would begin removing BPA from its most popular soups, though it did not set a time frame.
But the vast majority of canned goods in the U.S. are still sealed with resin that contains BPA to prevent contamination and spoiling. Canned food manufacturers have used the chemicals since the 1950s, and the practice is approved by the FDA. The chemical industry says BPA is the safest, most effective sealant.
Some manufacturers have begun switching to alternatives. Heinz reportedly uses BPA-free coatings for its Nurture baby formula cans, and ConAgra and General Mills say they have switched to alternative sealants for some canned tomatoes.
The federal government has been grappling with the safety of BPA for more than four years. The FDA revised its opinion on BPA in 2010 saying there is "some concern" about the chemical's impact on the brain and reproductive system of infants, babies and young children. Previously the agency said the trace amounts of BPA that leach out of food containers are not dangerous.
While older children and adults quickly eliminate the chemical through their kidneys, newborns and infants can retain it for longer. Scientists pushing for a ban on the chemical argue that BPA mimics the effects of the hormone estrogen, interfering with growth.

'Pink slime' is now found in 70 percent of the ground beef at our grocers
Source : http://www.naturalnews.com/035437_pink_slime_ground_beef_groceries.html
By Tony Isaacs (Apr 02, 2012)
Would you knowingly eat ground beef which contained scrap meat items such as muscle connective tissue which had been sprayed with ammonium hydroxide? Would you want your children to eat such ground beef in their school lunches? According to recent revelations, if you or your children eat ground beef there is a strong chance that both may be happening.
Last week, former United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist-turned-whistleblower Gerald Zirnstein revealed that 70 percent of the ground beef sold at supermarkets contained the fake-meat additive which is commonly referred to as "pink slime". This revelation came on the heels of reports that the USDA is purchasing 7 million pounds of the product for school lunches in public schools.
"Pink slime" is taking over ground beef at our grocers and schools
"Pink slime" is made by gathering beef waste trimmings, simmering them at low heat to make it easy to separate fat from the muscle, and using a centrifuge to spin the waste trimmings to complete the separation. Next, the mixture is sent through pipes and sprayed with ammonium hydroxide gas to kill bacteria. Finally, the product is packaged into bricks, frozen and shipped to grocery stores and meat packers, where it is added to most ground beef.
The beef trimmings are particularly susceptible to contamination and were once relegated to pet food and cooking oil. However, Beef Products Inc. (BPI), the makers of "pink slime, commissioned a study which reportedly demonstrated that the ammonia process would kill E. coli as well as salmonella. Ever since the study, use of "pink slime" in ground beef has increased.
In 2009, the New York Times reported that despite the added ammonia, tests of "pink slime" across the country revealed dozens of instances of E. coli and salmonella. According to the Times, E. coli was found three times and salmonella 48 times between 2005 and 2009, including two contaminated batches of meat totaling 27,000 pounds.
Zirnstein, who first coined the term "pink slime" in a USDA memo, told ABC news "It's economic fraud. It's not fresh ground beef. ...It's a cheap substitute being added in."
Zirnstein and fellow USDA scientist Carl Custer both warned against using what the industry calls "lean finely textured beef," but they were overruled by their government bosses. The "pink slime" does not have to appear on the adulterated ground beef labels because, over objections of its own scientists, USDA officials with links to the beef industry labeled it meat.
The woman who made the decision to approve the mix is former undersecretary of agriculture, Joann Smith. Her decision led to hundred of millions of dollars for BPI.
"The under secretary said, 'it's pink, therefore it's meat,'" Custer told ABC News.
When Smith left the USDA in 1993, she was appointed to the board of directors for BPI's principal major supplier where she reportedly made at least $1.2 million over the next 17 years. The USDA said that, while Smith's appointment was legal at the time, she could not have immediately joined the board under current ethics rules.
News of the USDA's plan to bring 7 million pounds of "pink slime" to school cafeterias nationwide comes just weeks after the government announced new guidelines to ensure students are given healthier options for school meals. Notably, the USDA purchase comes after fast food chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Burger King have discontinued use of "pink slime."
A public outcry against the "slime" is perhaps led most prominently by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who has also waged war successfully against flavored milk in Los Angeles schools.

UK food safety authorities issue food grade chemical supply warning
Source : http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/UK-food-safety-authorities-issue-food-grade-chemical-supply-warning
By Mark Astley (Mar 30, 2012)
UK food safety authorities have issued a warning to food processors over the use of food grade chemicals from a Northern Ireland-based distributor following the death of a woman in Italy.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued a precautionary warning to companies and individuals who have bought food grade chemicals for food production from Antrim-based Mistral Laboratory Chemicals.
Products supplied by Mistral have been implicated in an on-going Italian investigation into the death of a 29-year old woman who ingested Sorbitol purchased from the company during a doctor’s test for food intolerance.
Two other people in the country have also been hospitalised after consuming the product, which is commonly used as a sweetener in sugar-free sweets and chewing gum.
The company, which sells products through its website and through other sites including eBay, has voluntarily ceased distribution of its food grade products, the FSA added.
Italian investigation
FSA spokesman Brad Smythe told FoodProductionDaily.com that the actions follow an alert from the Italian authorities and are purely precautionary while the investigation continues.
“In addition to the precautionary action we are working closely with the Italian investigators,” Smythe added.
Mistral, which distributes within the UK and internationally, were pinpointed as a potential source of the concern “following information received from the Italian authorities.”
“Italian authorities are investigating the circumstances of the recent death of a woman at a private medical clinic in Italy. Products for food use supplied by Mistral have been implicated in that investigation,” said the FSA warning.
“However, enquiries are still on-going. There have been no reported food related incidents in the UK linked to products supplied by Mistral, and the FSA is issuing a warning as a precaution.”
According to the Italian Health Ministry, the batch of Sorbitol had been repackaged by Mistral and sold to the clinic doctor through the internet.
An Italian Health Ministry statement said: “The substance has been impounded pending trial and is awaiting the performance of laboratory testing.”
eBay ban
Mistral Laboratory Chemicals supply chemicals for food and non-food purposes. The company’s website is currently unavailable.
Online auction website eBay has since blocked the global sale of Sorbitol on its site.
“Sorbitol is a very common surrogate for sugar and it is a substance that can be legally sold both through the traditional channels and online. However, as a precautionary measure, eBay immediately cancelled all sales of sorbitol until further clarifications,” said a statement from the online auctioneer.

Salmonella found in raw milk products at Kutztown dairy farm
Source : http://blog.usfoodsafety.com/2012/04/04/salmonella-found-in-raw-milk-products-at-kutztown-dairy-farm/
By foodsafeguru (Apr 04, 2012)
Salmonella found in raw milk products at Kutztown dairy farm. Pennsylvania’s Department of Agriculture and Department of Health April 3 advised consumers and retailers who purchased raw milk and raw milk cheese from a dairy in Kutztown, to discard or return the
products immediately.
April 1, an independent lab confirmed the products tested positive for Salmonella. It was found in raw milk sold in a plastic bottle and raw milk cheese with a date code of March 25. Raw milk and raw milk cheese sales have been suspended at the facility until additional testing is completed. Before sales can resume, samples must be free of Salmonella and other pathogens and the farm must also pass a state inspection.

Salmonella Outbreak That Sickened 90 People Probed By FDA
Source : http://www.khq.com/story/17338739/httpwwwkhqcomstory17336527animal-disease-zone-could-expand-in-montana
By admin(Apr 05, 2012)
Federal health officials are investigating an outbreak of salmonella that has sickened 90 people in 19 states and the District of Columbia, according to a Food and Drug Administration memo.
The outbreak may be linked to sushi and has caused at least seven hospitalizations, according to the memo distributed internally to FDA staff. No deaths have been reported to date.
Investigators are focusing on six clusters of restaurants in Texas, Wisconsin, Maryland, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
FDA spokesman Curtis Allen would not confirm or elaborate on the information, saying the memo "contains numbers of cases and hospitalizations that cannot be confirmed at this time."
Allen said the illness is linked to salmonella Bareilly, a bacteria strain previously associated with outbreaks in bean sprouts.

Salmonella in Pennsylvania Raw Milk
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/salmonella-in-pennsylvania-raw-milk/
By (Apr 03, 2012)
On Monday, the Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture and Health advised consumers and retailers who purchased raw milk and raw milk cheese from Norman Z. and Edith B. Sauder in Kutztown, Berks County, to discard or return the products immediately, because, on April 1, an independent lab confirmed the products tested positive for Salmonella. It was found in raw milk sold in a plastic bottle and raw milk cheese with a date code of March 25, 2012.  To date, the Department of Health is not aware of any illnesses related to these products.
Earlier this year, a Pennsylvania dairy called Family Cow Dairy, which produces and sells raw milk products, sickened at least 80 people with Campylobacter.  70 of the victims were from Pennsylvania, 5 from Maryland, 2 from New Jersey, and 3 from West Virginia.  It was one of the largest outbreaks in Pennsylvania history.

Is 19 State Salmonella Bareilly Outbreak linked to Spicy Tuna Roll Sushi
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/is-19-state-salmonella-bareilly-outbreak-linked-to-spicy-tuna-roll-sushi/
By Bill Marler (Apr 03, 2012)
There is an ongoing outbreak of Salmonella Bareilly.  The confirmed case count has grown to 90 as of April 2, 2012.  Reported case counts include 19 States and the District of Columbia.  All state names have not yet been released by FDA or CDC.  Seven hospitalizations and no deaths have been reported. The majority of the cases are clustered on the eastern seaboard and the Gulf coast, but include cases as far west as Missouri and Texas. The CDC has characterized this outbreak as ongoing and rapidly expanding in the number of cases, particularly due to the prolonged reporting lag time (up to 32 days).
The FDA has been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in investigating this outbreak. According to CDC, although this investigation is ongoing and work is continuing to eliminate other possible vehicles, CDC postulates that sushi is the likely source of this outbreak, with spicy tuna roll sushi highly suspect. FDA continues to evaluate data collected by States and FDA district offices, focusing on 6 restaurant clusters in Texas, Wisconsin, Maryland and Connecticut identified to date.
FDA traceback efforts continue to analyze information coming in from the States and the District Offices on menu items consumed, ingredients, brands, preparation, and suppliers, particularly cases associated with restaurant clusters, in an effort to identify the specific suspect vehicle.

Jimmy John's E. coli Sprouts Update
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/jimmy-johns-e-coli-sprouts-update/
By Bill Marler (Apr 03, 2012)
A total of 29 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O26 have been reported from 11 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (1), Arkansas (1), Iowa (5), Kansas (2), Michigan (10), Missouri (3), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (1), Washington (1), Wisconsin (1), and West Virginia (1). Of the 27 ill persons with available information, 23 (85%) reported consuming sprouts at Jimmy John's restaurants in the 7 days preceding illness.
Among 29 ill persons, illness onset dates ranged from December 25, 2011 to March 3, 2012. Ill persons range in age from 9 years to 57 years old, with a median age of 26 years. Eighty-nine percent of ill persons are female. Among the 29 ill persons, 7 (24%) were hospitalized. None have developed HUS, and no deaths have been reported.
Past Jimmy John's sprout issues:
Sprouters Northwest, Jimmy John's Restaurants Clover Sprouts 2010
7 Sickened - Sprouters Northwest of Kent, Washington, issued a product recall after the company's clover sprouts had been implicated in an outbreak of Salmonella Newport in Oregon and Washington. At least some of the cases had consumed clover sprouts while at a Jimmy John's restaurants. Jimmy John's Restaurants are a restaurant chain that sells sandwiches. Concurrent with this outbreak, a separate Salmonella outbreak (Salmonella, serotype I 4,5,12,i- ; see Multistate Outbreak, Tiny Greens Organic Farm, Jimmy John's Restaurants), involving alfalfa sprouts served at Jimmy John's restaurants was under investigation. The recall of Northwest Sprouters products included: clover; clover & onion; spicy sprouts; and deli sprouts. The Sprouters Northwest products had been sold to grocery stores and wholesale operations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. The FDA inspection found serious sanitary violations.
Multistate Outbreak, Tiny Greens Organic Farm, Jimmy John's Restaurants Alfalfa Sprouts 2010
140 Sickened - On December 17, the Illinois Department of Health announced that an investigation was underway into an outbreak of Salmonella, serotype I4,[5],12:i:-. Many of the Illinois cases had eaten alfalfa sprouts at various Jimmy John’s restaurants in the Illinois counties of: Adams, Champaign, Cook, DuPage, Kankakee, Macon, McHenry, McLean, Peoria, and Will counties. The sprouts were suspected to be the cause of the illnesses. On December 21, Jimmy John Liautaud, the owner of the franchised restaurant chain, requested that all franchisees remove sprouts from the menu as a "precautionary" measure. On December 23, the Centers for Disease Control revealed that outbreak cases had been detected in other states and that the outbreak was linked with eating alfalfa sprouts while at a nationwide sandwich chain. On December 26, preliminary results of the investigation indicated a link to eating Tiny Greens’ Alfalfa Sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurant outlets. The FDA subsequently advised consumers and restaurants to avoid Tiny Greens Brand Alfalfa Sprouts and Spicy Sprouts produced by Tiny Greens Organic Farm of Urbana, Illinois. The Spicy Sprouts contained alfalfa, radish and clover sprouts. On January 14, 2011, it was revealed that the FDA had isolated Salmonella serotype I4,[5],12:i:- from a water runoff sample collected from Tiny Greens Organic Farm; the Salmonella isolated was indistinguishable from the outbreak strain. The several FDA inspections of the sprout growing facility revealed factors that likely led to contamination of the sprouts.
CW Sprouts, Inc., SunSprout Sprouts, "restaurant chain (Chain A)," a.k.a. Jimmy Johns 2009
256 Sickened - In February, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services officials identified six isolates of Salmonella Saintpaul. Although this is a common strain of Salmonella, during 2008, only three cases had been detected in Nebraska and only four subtypes of this outbreak strain had been identified in 2008 in the entire USA. As additional reports were made, a case control study was conducted; alfalfa sprout consumption was found to be significantly related to illness. The initial tracebacks of the sprouts indicated that although various companies had distributed the sprouts, the sprouts from the first cases originated from the same sprouting facility in Omaha, Nebraska. Forty-two of the illnesses beginning on March 15 were attributed to sprout growing facilities in other states; these facilities had obtained seed from the same seed producer, Caudill Seed Company of Kentucky. The implicated seeds had been sold in many states. On April 26, the FDA and CDC recommended that consumers not eat raw alfalfa sprouts, including sprout blends containing alfalfa sprouts. In May, FDA alerted sprout growers and retailers that a seed supplier, Caudill Seed Company of Kentucky, was withdrawing all alfalfa seeds with a specific three-digit prefix. Many of the illnesses occurred at "restaurant chain (Chain A)."
Jimmy John's Restaurant Alfalfa Sprouts and Iceberg Lettuce 2008
28 Sickened - Several University of Colorado students from one sorority became ill with symptoms of bloody diarrhea and cramping. Additional illnesses were reported. E. coli O157:NM(H-) was determined to be the cause. Consumption of alfalfa sprouts at the Jimmy John's Restaurants in Boulder County and Adams County were risk factors for illness. In addition, the environmental investigation identified Boulder Jimmy John's food handlers who were infected with E. coli and who had worked while ill. The health department investigation found a number of critical food handling violations, including inadequate hand washing. The fourteen isolates from confirmed cases were a genetic match to one another.

2 cases of botulism in New York linked to fresh bulk tofu
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/2-cases-of-botulism-in-new-york-linked-to-fresh-bulk-tofu/
By Colin Caywood (Mar 30, 2012)
New York City Health Department is currently investigating two cases of foodborne botulism linked to fresh bulk tofu sold at a store in Flushing.  As reported by WABC, New York City has reported only one other foodborne-linked botulism over the past 15 years.
The two reported cases are Chinese-speaking residents of Queens who recently purchased the unrefrigerated bulk tofu from the same store.  According to reports, the tofu was not made at the store and its source is under investigation.
As the investigation continues, the Health Department is advising all individuals to discard all fresh bulk tofu purchased from any New York City store that has been kept at room temperature at the time of purchase.
The Health Department is also warning consumers to throw away tofu that has not been stored in a refrigerator at home.
Although botulism can be diagnosed based on clinical symptoms, its differentiation from other diseases is often difficult—especially in the absence of other known persons affected by the condition. Once suspected, the most direct and effective way to confirm the diagnosis of botulism in the laboratory is testing for the presence of the botulinum toxin in the serum, stool, or gastric secretions of the patient. The food consumed by the patient can also be tested for the presence of toxins. Currently, the most sensitive and widely used method for the detection of the toxins is the mouse neutralization test, which involves injecting serum into mice and looking for signs of botulism. This test typically takes 48 hours, while the direct culturing of specimens takes 5-7 days. Some cases of botulism may go undiagnosed because symptoms are transient or mild, or are misdiagnosed as Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
If diagnosed early, foodborne botulism can be treated with an antitoxin that blocks the action of toxin circulating in the blood. This can prevent patients from worsening, but recovery still takes many weeks. The mainstay of therapy is supportive treatment in intensive care, and mechanical ventilation in case of respiratory failure, which is common.

Small Turtles Cause Salmonella Outbreaks
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/small-turtles-cause-salmonella-outbreaks/
By Linda Larsen (Mar 31, 2012)
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is reporting three multistate outbreaks of Salmonella infections linked to small turtles.
A total of 66 people have been infected with outbreak strains of Salmonella Sandiego, Salmonella Poona, and Salmonella Pomona in these states:
¡áArizona (2)
¡áCalifornia (8)
¡áGeorgia (1)
¡áIndiana (1)
¡áKentucky (1)
¡áMassachusetts (3)
¡áMaryland (6)
¡áMichigan (1)
¡áNorth Carolina (1)
¡áNew Jersey (6)
¡áNew Mexico (3)
¡áNew York (21)
¡áPennsylvania (7)
¡áTexas (3)
¡áVirginia (1)
¡áVermont (1)
So far, eleven people have been hospitalized, but no one has died. And 55% of the victims are children 10 years of age or younger.
These outbreaks are overlapping. The PulseNet system is being used to identify the cases that may be part of these outbreaks. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) identifies the bacteria’s DNA fingerprint.
The government recommends that small turtles, less than 4 inches in size, should not be purchased or given as gifts, especially to small children. In fact, the FDA has banned the sale and distribution of small turtles since 1975.
Reptiles and amphibians can carry Salmonella and still appear healthy. The bacteria are shed in their droppings and can contaminate the animals and their tanks or aquariums.
When young children handle turtles, kiss them, or put their fingers in the tank and then into their mouths, they can easily contract an infection. Sometimes the tanks are cleaned in the kitchen sink, resulting in cross-contamination during food preparation.
Symptoms of Salmonella poisoning include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. For children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems, the infection can lead to serious or fatal complications. If you think you have a Salmonella infection, see your doctor and contact your local health department.



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