06/04,2012
ISSUE:498

                                 

Comprehensive News List
General Food Safety News/ Outbreak News/ Recall News/ New Methods News/
USDA/FDA News
/ On-Line Slides/ Job Information/Internet Journal of Food Safety


Expanded E.coli Testing Of U.S. Beef Begins June 4
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/expanded-e-coli-testing-of-u-s-beef-begins-june-4/
By Carla Gillespie (June 03, 2012)
Starting tomorrow, June 4, beef producers will be required to test beef trim, a major component of ground beef, for six additional strains of E.coli, as new regulations aimed at reducing foodborne illness take effect.
Up until now,  E.coli O157:H7 was the only strain of E.coli legally considered to be an adulterant, meaning it is illegal to sell beef contaminated with the strain but legal to sell beef contaminated with other strains, until someone gets sick. E.coli O157:H7 was declared an adulterant in 1994, following the Jack in the Box E.coli outbreak that sickened hundreds of people and killed four including a young boy.
But E.coli O157:H7 is not the only strain of the bacteria that can cause serious illness or death.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) estimates that banning the six additional strains of E.coli will reduce by 110,000 the number of foodborne illnesses reported in the U.S. each year.
The USDA had initially planned to implement testing of six strains, sometimes called “The Big Six,” in March, but producers asked for an extension to prepare for the new regulations. As of June 4, E.coli 0157:H7 and following six strains will be considered adulterants:
E. coli O26
E. coli O45
E. coli O103
E. coli O111
E. coli O121
E. coli O145
Any beef trim testing positive for these pathogens will not be allowed into commerce and will be subject to recall.
“These strains of E.coli are an emerging threat to human health and the steps we are taking today are entirely focused on preventing Americans from suffering foodborne illnesses,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in a statement. “We cannot ignore the evidence that these pathogens are a threat in our nation’s food supply.”

Marler Clark Petition Granted Naming Six E. coli Pathogens Adulterants
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-policy-regulation/marler-clark-petition-granted-naming-six-e-coli-pathogens-adulterants/#.T8o-0HQC3m0.twitter
By Bill Marler (June 2, 2012)
According to the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy (CIDRAP), these six STEC strains account for 80 percent of non-O157 E. coli illnesses infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates non-O157 E. coli strains cause 112,000 illnesses annually, with about 36,700 of those attributed to beef.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) next week will begin instituting a zero-tolerance policy for six additional strains of E. coli that are responsible for human illness. Beginning Monday, FSIS will routinely test raw beef manufacturing trim, which is a major component of ground beef, for the six additional strains of E. coli. Trim found to be contaminated with these pathogens will not be allowed into commerce and will be subject to recall.
Illnesses due to E. coli serogroups other than O157:H7, which caused a high-profile illness outbreak in 1993, outnumber those attributed to O157:H7. FSIS declared O157:H7 an adulterant in 1994.
"These strains of E. coli are an emerging threat to human health and the steps we are taking today are entirely focused on preventing Americans from suffering foodborne illnesses," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "We cannot ignore the evidence that these pathogens are a threat in our nation's food supply."
The additional strains that will be treated as adulterants beginning today are Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) serogroups O26, O45, O103, O111, O121 and O145. Like E. coli O157:H7, these serogroups can cause severe illness and even death, and young children and the elderly are at highest risk.
Today's action is in addition to other significant public health measures FSIS has put in place during President Barack Obama's Administration to date to safeguard the food supply, prevent foodborne illness, and improve consumers' knowledge about the food they eat. These initiatives support the three core principles developed by the President's Food Safety Working Group: prioritizing prevention; strengthening surveillance and enforcement; and improving response and recovery. Some of these actions include:
Test-and-hold policy that will significantly reduce consumer exposure to unsafe meat products, should the policy become final, because products cannot be released into commerce until Agency test results for dangerous contaminants are known.
Labeling requirements that provide better information to consumers about their food by requiring nutrition information for single-ingredient raw meat and poultry products and ground or chopped products.
Public Health Information System, a modernized, comprehensive database with information on public health trends and food safety violations at the nearly 6,100 plants FSIS regulates.
Performance standards for poultry establishments for continued reductions in the occurrence of pathogens. After two years of enforcing the new standards, FSIS estimates that approximately 5,000 illnesses will be prevented each year under the new Campylobacter standards, and approximately 20,000 illnesses will be prevented under the revised Salmonella standards each year.
I wrote (download letter) to FSIS last June in response to the German E. coli O104:H4 (a enterohemorrhagic Shiga Toxin-producing Serotypes of Escherichia coli) outbreak that has to date sickened some 2,500, hospitalized 650 with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome and killed 24 (six U.S. citizens are ill). This tragic outbreak fell on the heels of an E. coli O111 (another enterohemorrhagic Shiga Toxin-producing Serotypes of Escherichia coli) outbreak in Japan that sickened nearly 100 and killed four.
That is why I petition FSIS in 2009 to do what it finally start on Monday. (A complete copy of the pettion and correspondence).  We spent $500,000 to set a baseline for retail ground beef.

God don’t have much to do with it; food safety outbreaks are not flukes of faith; buying might be
Source : http://barfblog.foodsafety.ksu.edu/blog/155164/12/06/02/god-don%E2%80%99t-have-much-do-it-food-safety-outbreaks-are-not-flukes-faith-buying-mig
By Doug Powell (June 02, 2012)
A cantaloupe farmer linked to the listeria-related deaths of 36 people and the illnesses of at least 146 in 2011 says the outbreak was “something Mother Nature did. We didn’t have anything to do with it.”
Eric Jensen, the fourth-generation produce grower who runs what’s left of Colorado-based Jensen Farms with his brother Ryan, told the Dallas Morning News, “We’re not selling anything,” adding that he had to lay off his staff of 15 in December. “We’re just sitting still right now. We hope to figure out a way to come out of it. We’ve got four generations worth of work.”
Whatever your god or belief, I’ve yet to see divine intervention as a cause of foodborne illness. Instead, illnesses and outbreaks are frighteningly consistent in their underlying causes: a culmination of a small series of mistakes that, over time, results in illness and death. After-the-fact investigations usually conclude, why didn’t this happen earlier, with all the mistakes going on?
This is no different from other failures such as BP, Bhopal and the space shuttle Challenger: technological sophistication is easily superseded by the vagaries of human behavior and belief.
So while Jensen Farms languishes in bankruptcy and self-affirming fairy-tales, and distributors and retailers ask themselves, why did we rely on such lousy food safety assurances, California growers are trying to develop an industry-wide, mandatory food safety plan.
But based on early indications, California growers are setting up a flawed system that promotes self-satisfaction and soundbites over safety.
Tying a brand or commodity – lettuce, tomatoes, meat -- to the lowest common denominator of government inspections is a recipe for failure. The Pinto automobile also met government standards – didn’t help much in the court of public opinion.
The best growers, processors and retailers will far exceed minimal government standards, will proactively test to verify their food safety systems are working, will transparently publicize those results and will brag about their excellent food safety by marketing at retail so consumers can actually choose safe food.

Is your hamburger done? Color is a lousy indicator; K-State’s Hunt honored by American Meat Science Association
Source : http://barfblog.foodsafety.ksu.edu/blog/155153/12/05/31/your-hamburger-done-color-lousy-indicator-k-state%E2%80%99s-hunt-honored-american-meat-
By Doug Powell (May 31, 2012)
The American Meat Science Association has announced that Melvin C. Hunt of Kansas State University is the recipient of the 2012 American Meat Science Association R. C. Pollock Award. He will be honored at the AMSA 65th Reciprocal Meat Conference on June 19 in Fargo, N.D.
Sponsored by the AMSA Educational Foundation, the award honors an AMSA member whose work through teaching, extension, research, or service represents an extraordinary and lasting contribution to the meat industry.
“Dr. Hunt’s reputation as a preeminent meat color researcher is well-known throughout the world,” said Thomas Powell, executive director of AMSA. “His service to the meat industry and the meat science discipline spans two decades of teaching, mentoring and research.”
Hunt, or ‘Hunter’ as he is known, began his career as a research chemist for Tennessee Eastman Company working on new applications of antioxidants, surfactants and meat packaging systems. He also developed a proprietary base for functional dietary fibers suitable for sequestering bile acids and lowering serum cholesterol and as a replacement for nitrite in cured meats.
He has been a part of the animal science faculty at Kansas State University since 1975, where his research focused on postmortem meat quality with particular interest in factors affecting meat color and myoglobin chemistry. He served as chair of the Food Science and Industry Undergraduate Program for 19 years.
Hunt is internationally recognized for his expertise in meat color measurement and was the primary author of the Guidelines for Meat Color Measurement published by AMSA. The guide is the only comprehensive document on meat color measurement available to meat scientists.
He has published widely on meat pigment chemistry, meat color and packaging systems. In the last six years, he has authored or co-authored 51 refereed journal articles and he has been a speaker at national and international conferences to discuss his research. He has received research funding from national and commodity sources and from more than 50 major packaging and ingredient companies to address pigment chemistry, shelf life, color life, cold chain management, product palatability and microbiology.
Hunt is considered to be among the top five meat color experts in the world. His former graduate students hold prominent positions in government, industry and academia. He has been recognized by several organizations for contributions to research, teaching and advising.

How much is enough?
Source : http://producenews.com/index.php/news-dep-menu/test-featured/7945-liability-insurance-how-much-is-enough
By Tim Linden (June 01, 2012)
Colorado-based Jensen Farms, which was the source of the Listeria-tainted cantaloupes that sickened and killed scores of people last year, recently filed for bankruptcy protection as there is no way its liability insurance coverage will cover the claims arising from the case.
Bill Marler of Marler Clark, a well-known Seattle-based attorney who specializes in foodborne illness cases, said that if all 146 people sickened or killed file claims, the damages would be in the neighborhood of $150 million. Though it baffles him as to why, in these types of cases, typically less than half of the victims do file claims.
In this case about 50 claims have been filed so far, representing about two-thirds of the deaths and only about 25 percent of the illnesses. Virtually everyone who fell ill was hospitalized, he said, so basically every one of the 146 people have legitimate expenses caused by the eating of those cantaloupes.
Still, he estimates that the total damages for the 55 or so claims that will be filed would be about $75 million — only half of the potential damages but still much more than the $2.5 million liability insurance coverage that Jensen owns.
Mr. Marler said that as part of the bankruptcy proceedings, Jensen Farms will put that $2.5 million in a trust fund that will be administered by a special master and distributed to the claimants in some equitable way.
In this case, Greg Nelson, director of commercial lines for Western Growers Insurance Services, based in Irvine, CA, said it was virtually impossible for the Colorado firm to have enough liability insurance to cover the damages.
“In the first place, it would be very difficult to find an insurance company to write that large of a policy for a company of that size,” he said. “And secondly, it would be very expensive.”
Mr. Nelson said that general business liability insurance, which covers product liability, costs about $1,000 to $2,000 per year for each $1 million in coverage. So even if Jensen Farms could have found a policy for $100 million, it would have cost them between $100,000 and $200,000 per year.
The Western Growers executive said that for most companies of that size, it would not be a prudent business decision. “How much a company buys is strictly a business decision,” he said.
While he said that there is no rule of thumb, most produce firms have policies in the $1 million to $2 million range, though it is not uncommon for some of the mid-size or larger companies to have $5 million to $10 million in liability coverage.
And Mr. Nelson said that the largest companies in the industry might have $25 million to $50 million policies, especially if they sell to the larger retailers, which demand that type of coverage from some of their customers.
He said that the average company should start with the value of their firm when determining how much coverage to buy. A firm with about $10 million in assets might have a $10 million general business liability policy. More coverage than that might be difficult to justify as a business decision when what is being protected against is a very rare occurrence.
After all, a catastrophic event like the Listeria outbreak tied to cantaloupes is almost a one-in-a-million occurrence.
“I’d rather see them spend the money on prevention so that they don’t have a problem,” he said.
However, Mr. Nelson added that companies with a recognizable brand to protect could certainly have a larger policy, which would be a prudent business decision.
Mr. Marler said that in his experience, it is rare that a foodborne illness outbreak results in a bankruptcy. “Most firms do have enough liability insurance,” he said.
That is largely because most of these types of contamination issues result in sickness, not death, and the number of claims is also very limited.
In the last big industry problem — the E. coli outbreak of 2006 — Mr. Marler said that most of the produce firms involved in that case did have sufficient insurance to cover the claims. He recalled that the major firms involved had $25 million policies.
Even in the biggest foodborne illness case of all (prior to Jensen), the Jack in the Box case, which launched Mr. Marler’s career,
there was enough money in the insurance policy to cover the claims.
Mr. Marler said several months before those tainted hamburgers caused problems, a new member of the Jack in the Box board convinced
the firm to up its liability insurance from $25 million to $100 million. That proved to be a very prudent business decision.
Mr. Nelson said that it is important for companies to understand that liability insurance is separate from product recall insurance, which typically does not offer liability coverage.
While product recall insurance is available, he said that very few firms have it because of what it does not cover.
“It typically only covers product recalled because it was contaminated or it was likely contaminated and the owner reasonably believed it would cause illness,” he said.
For example, Mr. Nelson said that in the Jensen Farms case only that firm’s product recall insurance would have kicked in because that was
the only cantaloupe found to be contaminated. Like virtually all recalls, it was of a voluntary nature so other cantaloupes recalled during
the height of the scare that were not contaminated would not result in a successful claim.
“Frankly that’s why we don’t write any product recall policies,” said Mr. Nelson. “They do not cover what our members want covered.”

Time to tackle campylobacter in turkeys
Source : http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/30/05/2012/133177/Time-to-tackle-campylobacter-in-turkeys.htm
By Ken Randall (June 01,2012)
Tackling campylobacter and improving digestion were both hot topics at the recent Turkey Science and Production Conference in Cheshire,
as Ken Randall reports
The turkey industry should start taking steps to tackle campylobacter contamination as soon as possible, producers have been warned.
Campylobacter-related food poisoning was a major public health problem in the EU, and the role of poultrymeat was now generally accepted, Diane Newell of the Foodborne Zoonoses Consultancy told the conference.
Campylobacter was the most common cause of infectious intestinal disease in the EU, resulting in about 10 million reported illnesses a year, costing an estimated euro2bn.
“It is only reasonable to assume that turkeys contribute to human infection, but we can't say how much," she explained.
The EU was considering what regulations and targets should be introduced to reduce the public health risk.
"The poultry industry needs to urgently address this issue and work with scientists to determine the best approaches to adopt. Current opinion suggests that intervention strategies need to be introduced at all stages, for all poultry."
On-farm interventions would have the specific advantage of reducing environmental contamination.
"There has been little research on campylobacter colonisation of turkeys, but on the basis of the only comprehensive study, (in Denmark), there are few differences in colonisation characteristics and risk factors between turkeys and broilers," said Prof Newell.
"Turkey poults appear to be hatched campylobacter-free, and horizontal transmission from the environment into the poultry house is the primary transmission route."
In the Danish study, 48% of 688 turkey flocks tested positive. Turkeys at slaughter could be colonised with up to 108cfu/g of caecal contents, and neck skin after processing with up to 104cfu/g.
"For indoor-reared birds, the consistent and rigorous application of biosecurity is essential to maintain campylobacter-free flocks."
In particular, this should include the strict application of hygiene barriers by all poultry farm staff and their equipment, the supply of clean water and the cessation of thinning, she suggested.
"Even the best hygienic barrier cannot always produce campylobacter-free flocks, especially when the environmental burden is high, as in summer. For free range, biosecurity can never be implemented to exclude these organisms."
Therefore complementary on-farm interventions were required, and these could in future include feed additives, bacteriophages, bacteriocins and vaccines. "But these need considerable research and development, and are long-term solutions."
Three steeps to better gut health
Better performance and litter condition can be achieved in turkeys by nurturing the optimum bacterial pollution in the digestive tract, Stephen Collett of the University of Georgia, USA, told the conference.
This had become a significant issue in the wake of the removal of in-feed antibiotics in Europe, he said.
"Dysbacteriosis became commonplace after the moratorium on the use of in-feed antibiotics was introduced in the EU," said Prof Collett. "These undefined shifts in the intestinal microbiota are difficult to diagnose, yet appear to be associated with visible intestinal changes."
Low-grade enteric disease was the most common cause for depressed feed efficiency and the development of unfavourable rearing conditions.
"The intestinal tract is where feed is digested and absorbed, so even the slightest deviation from optimal function culminates in depressed biological and economic efficiency."
He outlined a three-step process that had demonstrated particular promise.
The first was to 'seed' the gut of hatchlings with favourable organisms. Since the first organisms to gain access to the day-old gut originated from the parent, steps to control gut health should start at parent flock level, he said.
Secondly, the favourable organisms should be fed with an appropriate organic acid.
And thirdly, undesirable competitor bacteria could be "weeded out" with a type 1 fimbriae blocker. These products mimicked the docking sites for gut pathogens, and diverted them from attaching themselves to the gut wall.
Digestibility index questioned
Commonly used values for the protein digestibility of feed ingredients for turkeys may be incorrect, according to Ariane Helmbrecht from specialist additives company Evonik Degussa.
Research carried out in Poland and Germany indicated that, for growing turkeys, protein availability, in the form of Standard Ileal Digestibility (SID) of the amino acids, was lower than expected for soyabean, rapeseed and sunflower meal, but higher for peas and lupins.
Also, the SIDs for amino acids in wheat and maize were different in turkeys to the known values for broilers, which also had implications for formulations.
Because research on SIDs in turkeys was scarce, the digestibility coefficients for broilers had typically been used for turkeys.
"This procedure is questionable due to differences in gut development, and amino acid digestibility depending on age and raw material," said Dr Helmbrecht.

Food safety at the forefront for melon industry
Source : http://www.thepacker.com/fruit-vegetable-news/shipping-profiles/westside-california-melons/Food-safety-at-the-forefront-for-melon-industry--156336715.html
By Melissa Shipman  (June 01, 2012)
After last year’s cantaloupe outbreak in the Rocky Ford area of Colorado, the melon industry is still recovering but is hopeful for this season.
“I think we’re over the hump of the issues in Rocky Ford,” said Atomic Torosian, managing partner and co-owner, Crown Jewels Produce Co., Fresno, Calif.
Garrett Patricio, vice president of operations and general counsel for Westside Produce, Firebaugh, Calif., is optimistic about this year.
“As time has passed, consumers and retailers have come back to the category. That’s a positive step for how we see this coming year,” Patricio said.
The efforts to move forward are still ongoing, something Torosian thinks is a good thing.
“It’s something that needs to be constantly monitored with the whole industry moving forward together to have an established standard of how the melons are grown, picked and shipped,” he said.
California is also working on developing an industrywide, mandatory food safety plan.
The California Cantaloupe Advisory Board “is moving forward with mandatory food safety. We’ve passed the greatest hurdle, which was expanding the reach of the board, and we’ve prioritized food safety to allow for mandatory regulation,” Patricio said.
The board also has completed its review of comprehensive cantaloupe draft guidance and is working on metrics for growers and shippers, Patricio said.
The specific aspects of handling the product currently are being put in place.
The plan for cantaloupes will follow the example set by the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement and California Tomato Farmers, which uses inspectors trained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the supervision of the California Department of Agriculture.
“The tools that we are considering have been shown to work across the board, particularly with LGMA and CTF. The major difference is that our marketing order is mandatory for anyone that wants to grow and ship cantaloupes in the state of California,” Patricio said.
The new guidance will focus primarily on cantaloupes because netted melons have a different risk profile than slick-skinned melons, but other melons likely will benefit as well, according to Patricio.
He said that when companies implement a new food safety program, it isn’t just based on the commodity, but rather on the entire operation.
Although these added food safety measures will add new financial responsibilities to those in the industry, there hasn’t been much resistance.
“We work closely with the industry and organizations to make sure the protocol is aware of and implemented above and beyond, from handling and all the way through the supply chain,” said Monique McLaws, new product and marketing director for Dulcinea Farms LLC, Ladera Ranch, Calif.
“At this point, that’s just part of our protocol,” she said.
“There will be additional costs, but you can’t put a price tag on human life and food safety. Growers and shippers and retailers have all been supportive,” Patricio said.

New rules look to improve food safety
Source : http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20120601/ARTICLES/120609971
By Jim Ware (June 01, 2012)
Changes aimed at protecting the public from food-borne illnesses could be coming to North Carolina as soon as Sept. 1.
That's the date the 2009 U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Food Code could be implemented in the state. On May 16, the N.C. Commission for Public Health voted to adopt the code. The commission's action had been authorized by the General Assembly last year.
Before it's implemented, the code must be examined by the state Rules Review Commission. If the commission approves the code at its June 21 meeting, North Carolina will adopt the new rules July 1, said Cris Harrelson, food defense coordinator with the N.C. Department of Health's food protection program.
"The adoption will bring about many changes, but our inspection, grading and enforcement system will remain the same," Harrelson said.
However, one change in the grading system will be that the scale will return to a maximum score of 100, he said.
Food safety standards new to North Carolina food establishments include:
Demonstrate knowledge of food protection by passing an American National Standards Institute-accredited exam.
This part of the rules takes effect Jan. 1, 2014, Harrelson said.
Food establishments used to earn two points on their health grades by taking the class. Now they will lose two points if they don't take the class, said Alicia Pickett, senior environmental health program specialist with the New Hanover County Health Department.
Develop and adhere to an employee health policy to prevent and control the transmission of illnesses.
"Employees have to report to supervisors if they're ill," Pickett said. A copy of the FDA's "Employee Health and Personal Hygiene Handbook" can be obtained free by emailing CFSANPublicationRe@fda.hhs.gov, she said.
Refrain from handling exposed, ready-to-eat foods with bare hands.
Ricky Gibbs, an environmental health specialist with the New Hanover County Health Department, said inspectors have already been talking with restaurant workers and others in the food industry about switching to tongs or gloves instead of bare hands when handling food.
"It became easier some years back when food-borne outbreaks were associated with lettuce," said Dianne Harvell, New Hanover County's environmental health services manager. Lately, outbreaks of the norovirus have had a similar impact by increasing the use of gloves and tongs in food handling, she said.
Required to decrease the refrigerated, cold-holding temperature for potentially hazardous foods from 45 degrees to 41 degrees.
Food establishments will be given six years to phase in this requirement so that equipment incapable of achieving the lower temperature can be replaced.
"Changing out refrigeration is going to be expensive," Pickett said.
At the Wilmington Convention Center, opened in January 2011, refrigeration equipment already meets the code requirements, said Julio Rios, food and beverage director at the center.
Jeff Suggs, a New Hanover environmental health specialist, used one of the county's new thermocouples Friday to measure temperatures in the convention center's coolers. Suggs said the new devices are more accurate than laser thermometers previously used and were purchased in anticipation of the stricter food code.
Required to date mark opened, ready-to-eat food.
Foods held at 45 degrees will have a maximum shelf-life of up to four days; foods held at 41 degrees will have a shelf-life of up to seven days.
"The reason for the temperature difference is they realize there's pathogenic growth" in foods kept at the higher temperatures, Gibbs said. One of the diseases that can be prevented by keeping food colder is listeria.
"It's going to be good for the public eating out," Pickett said.
Harvell said the code establishes uniformity, especially for chain restaurants that operate in multiple states.
"It should address the concerns in having a safer product to eat, to reduce food-borne illnesses," Gibbs said.
"The first several months will be a huge learning curve for everybody," Pickett said.
New Hanover County's 13 health inspectors – including Pickett and Gibbs – perform 5,000 to 6,000 inspections a year among 1,700 establishments. Those include restaurants, nursing homes, food trucks, bars and swimming pools. While full-service restaurants are visited four times a year, bars are typically inspected once a year.
Inspectors also review plans for restaurants seeking permits, which are not transferable, and review menus with an eye toward hazard analysis.

Beef E. coli scare has no impact on lamb
Source : http://sl.farmonline.com.au/news/nationalrural/livestock/sheep/beef-e-coli-scare-has-no-impact-on-lamb/2571239.aspx
By DEANNA LUSH (May 31, 2012)
UNITED States’ consumers have been assured they have no cause for concern about the safety of Australian lamb in the wake of last week’s beef export scare.
Australian Meat Industry Council’s Gary Burridge, who is chairman of its processors export group, said the Australian meat industry continued to have an enviable food safety reputation world-wide.
He said the volume of beef implicated – 7000 pounds – was “microscopic” in terms of the volume processed in the US.
He reitterated sheepmeat was not implicated at all and consumers had no cause for concern.
"All meat produced in Australia for export and domestic consumption remains safe,” he said.
"We produce meat for the world to the highest quality and hygiene standards and our industry and regulatory systems continue to respond and adapt to the ever-increasing international food safety demands which are becoming increasingly focused on microbiological issues.”
Meat & Livestock Australia tips Australian lamb exports to the US will increase six per cent in 2012 to 36,300 tonnes shipped weight. Last year exports were 34,334t swt, valued at $A350 million.
The US is Australia’s largest lamb export market of the 100 countries that receive Australian lamb. While Australia supplied about one-third of US demand last year, three-quarters of US consumers have never eaten lamb. The country is the world’s largest producer and consumer of beef.
Sheepmeat Council of Australia president Ian McColl said there were always concerns in the industry when food safety was challenged in any commodity.
But he said the Australian industry could reassure its customers with its high food safety standards and ability to trace any issues.
He said it was important to find out the facts of what was happening before blame was apportioned.
"It's easy to say we think it came from here or there or wherever but when you have a good series of protocols in place and a good traceback system available you can identify particular areas of risk and go back and specify where to test.”

Salmonella attorney sues Diamond Pet Foods on behalf of infant
Source: http://www.examiner.com/article/salmonella-attorney-sue-diamond-pet-foods-on-behalf-of-infant?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
By (May, 2012)
After their dry dog food products were implicated in a salmonella outbreak that sickened 15 people in nine states, Diamond Pet Foods and Costco Wholesale Corp. are being sued for negligence, breach of warranty and others charges by the family of an infant who was hospitalized for salmonellosis caused by the same outbreak strain.
Attorneys from the food safety firm, Pritzker Olsen filed the suit in U.S. District Court in New Jersey according to a website posting Wednesday by Fred Pritzker.
According to a report in the New Jersey Law Journal, the case, Eisenberg v. Diamond Pet Food Processors alleges that a two-month-old child became sick with diarrhea, fever and loss of appetite on April 11. A day later, his pediatrician sent him to St. Peter's University Hospital, where he spent three days and was diagnosed with salmonella.
In addition, the bacteria cultured from the infant proved to the same rare genetic subtype of Salmonella Infantis found in other human subjects of the outbreak and in samples of contaminated dog food recalled by South Carolina-based Diamond Pet Food.
According to Pritzker, the infant’s father and Pritzker Olsen’s client, Nevin Eisenberg, had been purchasing Kirkland (Costco's private-label store brand made by Diamond) Signature Super Premium Healthy Weight Dog Formulated with Chicken & Vegetables for the family dogs. It was one of the varieties that would be recalled by Diamond.
Attorney Elliot Olsen said, “This child suffered severe pain and a host of painful medical procedures due to a collapse of food safety protections. Both of these companies knew or should have known that these products were contaminated with pathogens”.
FDA inspectors found Diamond's manufacturing plant in Gaston, S.C., to be in violation of several food safety codes during a visit to the facility last month.
Salmonella is a pathogen to both humans and animals. There is a risk for humans handling the contaminated dog food if poor hand washing techniques are not performed or surfaces in contact with the dog food are not properly cleaned.
In humans, Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.
Pets, including dogs, with Salmonella can become lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting. The clinical features of canine salmonellosis vary on strain, amount ingested and dog host factors.
Many dogs however are asymptomatic carriers of the bacteria and may shed Salmonella for up to 100 days after being infected. This can become a risk for family members and anyone with confirmed salmonellosis without a known risk of exposure, the family pet should be tested regardless of symptoms.

Easter Chicks Salmonella: Over 300 Food Safety Incidents Linked To Mail-Order Poultry Since 2004
Source : http://blog.usfoodsafety.com/2012/05/30/easter-chicks-salmonella-over-300-food-safety-incidents-linked-to-mail-order-poultry-since-2004/
By foodsafetyguru (May 30,2012)
Those cute mail-order chicks that wind up in children’s Easter baskets and backyard farms have been linked to more than 300 cases of salmonella in the U.S. – mostly in youngsters – since 2004.
An estimated 50 million live poultry are sold through the mail each year in the United States in a business that has been booming because of the growing popularity of backyard chicken farming as a hobby among people who like the idea of raising their own food.
But health officials are warning of a bacterial threat on the birds’ feet, feathers, beaks and eggs.
“Most people can tell you that chicken meat may have salmonella on it,” said Casey Barton Behravesh of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “But surprisingly, we found many people are not aware that live chicks and chickens can spread salmonella to people.”
Since 2004, at least 316 people in 43 states got sick in an outbreak tied primarily to one mail-order hatchery. Health officials believe thousands more illnesses connected to the business were probably never reported.
No one died, but three dozen people were hospitalized with bloody diarrhea or other symptoms. The illnesses were detailed Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Salmonella can cause diarrhea, fever and stomach pain but is rarely fatal. It is most dangerous to very young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. The infection is usually contracted from food, but live animals can transmit it, too, because the bacteria can be in their feces.
Salmonella outbreaks have been linked to hatcheries for more than 50 years. And health officials have long warned that people can get salmonella from touching chickens – especially children, who tend to put their fingers in their mouths. Indeed, the CDC says children under 5 shouldn’t be allowed to touch chickens at all.
Health officials also advise people not to bring birds into their homes and to wash their hands thoroughly after handling live poultry.
About 20 hatcheries mail live chicks overnight in the U.S., supplying not only feed stores and farms but amateurs with backyard coops. The mail-order houses have been seeing record sales in recent years.
“It’s all part of this greener, healthier lifestyle,” said Behravesh, a veterinary epidemiologist.
Jonah McDonald, a 32-year-old Atlanta man who keeps three hens and insists a backyard egg tastes better, said he does not know of anyone who has gotten salmonella from handling chickens.
“The kids in my neighborhood come over and feed scraps to my chickens,” he said. “It’s a real community thing.”
The CDC described an eight-year investigation into salmonella illnesses, with more than 80 percent of the cases tied to a single hatchery in the western U.S. While CDC officials refused to identify the business, a previous report on the investigation by the health agency indicated it is in New Mexico.
Investigators interviewed victims and concluded many had caught salmonella from touching chicks or ducklings, often at home. From there, most of the illnesses were traced to the hatchery.
Behravesh said the hatchery has taken steps to curb the spread of salmonella – including replacing equipment, adopting new egg-cleaning procedures and vaccinating chickens – and is not considered a health threat. She said she was not aware of any fines or penalties against the business over the outbreak.
During the eight years studied, the annual number of illnesses linked to the hatchery ranged as high as 84, with 29 cases last year and only one so far in 2012.

8-week-old baby sickened by dry dog food, lawsuit claims
Source : http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/30/11958489-8-week-old-baby-sickened-by-dry-dog-food-lawsuit-claims?lite
By JoNel Aleccia (May 312012)
A New Jersey father who claims his 8-week-old son was sickened by salmonella-tainted dry dog food is suing the maker of the recalled product and Costco, the store that sold it.
Lawyers for Nevin Eisenberg, 37, of Marlboro, N.J., filed a lawsuit last week in federal court in New Jersey alleging that products made by Diamond Pet Food Processors of Gaston, S.C., landed the infant in the hospital with an infection caused by a rare strain of salmonella Infantis.
“He was really worried, really freaking out,” said Elliot L. Olsen, an attorney representing Eisenberg.
That’s the same salmonella strain identified in an outbreak that has sickened 15 people in nine states and another in Canada, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Eisenberg’s case, the child identified only as C.A.E. developed severe diarrhea, fever and loss of appetite.  “Moreover, he was in obvious pain and was extremely uncomfortable,” the suit claims.
The child’s parents took him to a pediatrician, who sent the child immediately to the emergency room at St. Peter's University Hospital. He was hospitalized for three days. Tests of stool samples were positive for salmonella, later confirmed by Monmouth County, N.J., Health Department officials to be salmonella Infantis.
“They were really worried, especially when they saw the child was sick enough to be hospitalized,” Olsen said.
It is not clear how the child may have contracted the illness, Olsen said. The father had been buying bulk bags of Costco dry food at a store in Morganville, N.J., for months for the family’s two dogs, Bailey, an 85-pound retriever mix, and Gracie, a 15-pound rat terrier mix. The dogs did not get sick.
Samples of the family’s pet food sent to Monmouth County for laboratory analysis did not test positive for salmonella, Olsen said. He suggested that the contamination with the rare salmonella strain could have come from an earlier batch.
The contamination was detected in April when routine tests by Michigan agriculture officials detected salmonella in an unopened bag of Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice dry dog food. Public health investigators then used the CDC's PulseNet service to identify recent cases of human illness with a genetic fingerprint that matched the strain found in the bag of dry food.
Diamond Pet Food officials did not answer calls seeking comment on how much of the recalled food has been returned.
CDC officials said people can transmit salmonella germs after contact with contaminated pet food or pets. Salmonella can be shed in the stool of pets for four to six weeks after infections.
Health officials are urging consumers to check their homes for recalled pet food and discard it promptly in sealed containers to prevent other animals from accessing it.
Pet owners should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and running water after contact with animals or their food.
Symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Most cases resolve on their own, but in children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, hospitalization may be necessary.
The baby is recovering, Olsen said, but such a young child will have to be closely watched for signs of organ damage after a severe infection.

Reform falters after Europe’s E.coli scare
Source : http://www.nature.com/news/reform-falters-after-europe-s-e-coli-scare-1.10739
By Marian Turner (May 30 , 2012)
One year on from Europe’s worst recorded outbreak of Escherichia coli infection, governments have made little progress towards improving the monitoring and reporting systems that allowed the crisis to drag on for weeks. The disease, which was spread by contaminated fenugreek sprouts, swept across northern Germany in May and June 2011, infecting thousands and killing 53 people (see Nature 474, 137; 2011). Yet although the panic has sparked some proposed policy changes, these have become mired in political debate at both German and European levels.
Under Germany’s current system, it can take up to 18 days for local and state health departments to relay case reports to the Berlin-based Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the German federal agency for disease surveillance. Legislators have proposed a law to bring the country’s disease-reporting schedule into line with the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations. The law would require local health authorities to report cases of notifiable diseases to state authorities on the next working day; the states would then have another day to relay the information to the RKI. “We’ve been waiting almost a decade for this,” says Alexander Kekulé, a microbiologist at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg in Halle, Germany.
The draft law has been passed by Germany’s federal parliament but is stuck in negotiations at the legislative council that represents Germany’s 16 states. For scientists, though, this change would still not be enough. “What really delayed the detection of this outbreak was the irregularity with which patients were referred for microbiological follow-up,” says Gérard Krause, an epidemiologist at the RKI. Like many European countries, Germany does not require that a patient with bloody diarrhoea or haemolytic uraemic syndrome (a life-threatening complication of some E. coli infections) be tested for the causative bacterial strain. The same is true of the United States.
After the outbreak, German diagnostic laboratories were provided with kits to test samples for genes belonging to certain pathogenic strains of bacteria, such as those expressing particular toxins, or proteins involved in adhesion or invasion. But physicians are responsible for requesting the tests, and the cost is not covered by German health-insurance companies. “The problem is mostly getting the money to use these kits,” says Angelika Fruth, a microbiologist at the RKI, “and that situation is just the same as before the outbreak.”
It is not only people who need to be tested — the source of most human infection is contaminated food. In the wake of the outbreak, the European Food Safety Authority concluded that sprouted seeds pose a particular food-safety concern (EFSA J. 9, 2424; 2011), and recommended that a standardized test for sprouts be developed and adopted across the European Union (EU). But EU member countries are still discussing the proposal, and scientists have yet to develop reliable methods to isolate pathogenic bacteria from seeds or sprouts. Meat can also carry E. coli, but whereas the United States screens meat for disease-causing strains (see page 558), EU countries do not routinely do so, relying instead on farm and slaughterhouse hygiene.
There is room for optimism, however. Flemming Scheutz, head of the World Health Organization Collaborative Centre for Reference and Research on Escherichia and Klebsiella in Copenhagen, believes that after last year’s outbreak, physicians are at least more likely to recognize and report food-borne infections. The crisis also coincided with the advent of inexpensive whole-genome sequencing technology, resulting in a glut of new bacterial sequences. Genomics and public-health research groups are now studying how these might help to tackle future outbreaks.
“The push for novelty among testing and surveillance systems will come from scientists rather than politics,” says Scheutz.

Most Effective Strategy for Managing E. coli O157:H7 in Beef is a Combination of a Pre-Harvest Intervention and Several Processing Interventions

Source : http://finance.yahoo.com/news/most-effective-strategy-managing-e-200000109.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
By Bioniche Life Sciences Inc (May 28, 2012)
-Public Health Agency of Canada study evaluated the effects of various interventions-
- Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. (BNC.TO) (BNC.AX), a research-based, technology-driven Canadian biopharmaceutical company, today announced that a Public Health Agency of Canada study assessing the effects of various interventions on the management of E. coli O157:H7 in Canadian beef came to a favourable conclusion with regard to pre-harvest vaccines such as the Company's EconicheTM cattle vaccine. The study, "A risk assessment model for Escherichia coli O157:H7 in ground beef and beef cuts in Canada: Evaluating the effects of interventions", has been accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of Food Control (2012) and is now available on-line. Its authors are Ben A. Smith, Aamir Fazil and Anna M. Lammerding, all of whom work in the Science to Policy Division, Laboratory for Foodborne Zoonoses, Public Health Agency of Canada .
In their study, the three researchers developed a stochastic, quantitative risk assessment model to evaluate the public health risks associated with consumption of ground beef and beef cuts contaminated with Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7 in Canada . The researchers evaluated the relative effects of pre-harvest and processing interventions on public health risks, comparing the baseline risks from consumption of beef products.
The research included findings from critical systematic review and meta-analysis of published literature, and 20 different intervention scenarios were assessed. The pre-harvest interventions that were assessed included probiotics, an SRP vaccine, and a Type III protein vaccine. Production/processing interventions that were analyzed included hot water wash, steam pasteurization, acid spray chill, dry-aged chill, and water spray chill. The researchers concluded that the most effective strategy for E. coli O157:H7 management includes a pre-harvest intervention and several processing interventions: "Specifically, application of Type III secreted protein vaccination along with a suite of processing interventions … provided the greatest relative reduction in risks." The Company's EconicheTM vaccine is a Type III protein vaccine.
The findings from this study support the Company's ongoing efforts to gain widespread uptake of cattle vaccination with EconicheTM.
EconicheTM Regulatory/Market Update
Since October, 2008, the Company has had a full license for its cattle vaccine against E. coli O157 - EconicheTM - in Canada . In the intervening period, there has been limited uptake by Canadian cattle producers. Those who have adopted the technology have been small producers who have a branded beef product and are concerned about the negative impact of an E. coli outbreak on their brand, and those producers/farmers whose cattle have infected humans with E. coli O157. Outbreaks and recalls associated with E. coli O157 infection and contamination continue to occur on a regular basis, so this public health threat remains a grave concern.
In February, 2008, the Company was advised by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that EconicheTM was eligible for a conditional license once certain conditions were met. Since that time, the Company has been in regular dialogue with USDA officials about this license.
Most recently, the USDA's Center for Veterinary Biologics issued updated guidance regarding the licensing of vaccines as pre-harvest food safety interventions. Company representatives look forward to discussing this new guidance with the USDA, to collaboratively reach consensus on the path to vaccine licensing in the U.S.
About E. coli O157
Ruminants, primarily cattle, are considered to be the primary carriers of E. coli O157. This bacterium can cause severe illness and can even be fatal when ingested by humans from contaminated meat, vegetables, other food products, or water. Human exposure and infection with E. coli O157 can result in serious health consequences, including abdominal pain and severe bloody diarrhea. In severe cases, kidney damage can occur and progress to serious complications and even death. Lingering, long-term medical conditions can persist in individuals exposed to the bacterium. These include post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome (PI-IBS), reduced kidney function, diabetes, hypertension and reactive arthritis.
An estimated 100,000 cases of human infection with the E. coli O157 organism are reported each year in North America . Two to seven per cent of those people develop haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a disease characterized by kidney failure. Five percent of HUS patients die, many of them children and senior citizens, whose kidneys are more sensitive to damage. Among the many outbreaks recorded, a 1996 Japanese outbreak made more than 9,000 people sick while the Walkerton, Ontario outbreak in 2000 sickened 2,500. A late April E. coli outbreak in New Brunswick has sickened up to 27 residents, many of whom ate at a Jungle Jim's restaurant.
About Bioniche Life Sciences Inc.
Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. is a research-based, technology-driven Canadian biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, manufacturing, and marketing of proprietary and innovative products for human and animal health markets worldwide. The fully-integrated company employs more than 200 skilled personnel and has three operating divisions: Human Health, Animal Health, and Food Safety. The Company's primary goal is to develop and commercialize products that advance human or animal health and increase shareholder value.
Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. has been named one of the Top 50 Best Small and Medium-Sized Employers in Canada for 2011. For more information, please visit www.Bioniche.com.

Ohio Identified Second Diamond Pet Foods Salmonella Problem
Source : http://efoodalert.net/2012/05/29/ohio-identified-second-diamond-pet-foods-salmonella-problem/
By foodbuglady (May 29 ,2012)
Routine testing carried out by the state of Ohio was responsible for the discovery of Salmonella in Diamond Pet Foods’ Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Dog Lamb & Rice Formula. The finding resulted in the recall of one production code (DSL 0801) of the dry dog food earlier this month.
The contaminated product, which was recalled on May 18th, was manufactured at Diamond’s Meta, Missouri facility, and not at the Gaston (South Carolina) production plant. The Gaston facility has been the focus of a foodborne disease outbreak investigation since mid-March.
The Salmonella found by Ohio in the Missouri-made product has been identified as Salmonella Liverpool, according to Laura Alvey, Deputy Director of Communications Staff for FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. The strain is different from the Salmonella Infantis outbreak strain that was recovered from dry pet food manufactured at the Company’s Gaston facility.
According to the Company’s recall notice, the affected pet food was distributed in Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin (but not in Ohio). The company added that further distribution through other pet food channels may have occurred.
This latest information underscores some important lessons:
1.Diamond Pet Foods has “issues” in more than one of its manufacturing facilities;
2.Routine finished product testing carried out by state agencies is an important food safety enforcement tool; and
3.The list of states to which the recalled food was distributed is unreliable, as it does not take into account redistribution or internet-based sales.
Finally, protect yourself, your family members and your pets from becoming statistics in the Diamond Pet Foods outbreak, by taking the following precautions:
•Check your supply of pet food to see whether it is affected by the recall. If it is on the recall list, either throw it away or return the unused portion to the retailer.
•If you have handled one of the recalled products and you develop symptoms of Salmonella (stomach ache, diarrhea, etc), seek immediate medical attention and mention the possible link to pet food.
•If your dog or cat was fed one of the recalled products and develops symptoms of gastrointestinal illness (vomiting or diarrhea), seek immediate veterinary attention. Ask your veterinarian to test your pet for Salmonella. If the test is positive, you or your veterinarian should contact FDA immediately.
•Review the FDA Tips for Preventing Foodborne Illness Associated with Pet Food and Pet Treats, and follow its recommendations to keep your family and your pets safe.
•Monitor eFoodAlert’s Diamond Pet Foods, Etc. Recalls – 2012 page. It will be updated as more information becomes available.
Above all, be aware that dogs may be infected with Salmonella - and may shed the bacteria in their stool - without showing any outward symptoms of illness. If your pet has consumed a Diamond Pet Foods dry dog food, be especially careful to wash your hands after handling the animal, and supervise closely any interaction between children and your pet.

After Eight Expansions, How Big is the Diamond Pet Foods Recall?
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/05/after-eight-expansions-how-big-is-the-diamond-pet-foods-recall/
By James Andrews (May 29,2012)
U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman Laura Alvey has told Food Safety News that the Salmonella contamination found at Diamond's Meta, Missouri plant is not from the same strain as that of the Gaston, South Carolina plant. The contamination at the Missouri plant comes from Salmonella Liverpool, while the South Carolina plant -- connected to all products except those in the most recent recall expansion -- has been contaminated by Salmonella Infantis.
Alvey also said that the Missouri plant has now been included in the FDA's ongoing investigation into the Diamond Pet Foods Salmonella outbreak and recall.
This article was originally published before the FDA had named the Salmonella strain found at the Missouri plant.
With Diamond Pet Foods on May 18 announcing yet another expansion of its recall of dry pet foods, pet owners again consulted food labels and continued sharing stories of pet illnesses allegedly resulting from Salmonella-contaminated kibble. For some writers covering the recall, the story was already frustratingly familiar.
As the Christian Science Monitor noted days later, the addition of Diamond Naturals Small Breed Lamb & Rice formula was the recall's eighth expansion, with it now encompassing at least nine brand names and numerous formulas.
This latest expansion also included the first contaminated product made at a facility in Meta, Missouri instead of the original facility linked to the outbreak in Gaston, South Carolina. Diamond also has a production facility in Lathrop, California.
On Tuesday, FDA spokeswoman Laura Alvey told Food Safety News that the contamination at the Missouri plant came from Salmonella Liverpool, not the Salmonella Infantis from the South Carolina plant that triggered the outbreak and recall.
Alvey went on to say that the Missouri plant was now included in the FDA's ongoing investigation into Diamond.
Pet owners reporting illnesses worldwide
Pets are only rarely tested for gastrointestinal bacteria such as Salmonella, making it impossible to estimate the number ill from the outbreak. Regardless, the FDA does know of two clinically confirmed Salmonella infections in dogs from the same household where they were served a recalled brand.
On the day of the most recent recall expansion, the Calgary Herald in Alberta reported that two cats in a Montreal animal shelter died after eating recalled cat food. Around that same time, another human case was reported in Nova Scotia, bringing the confirmed human cases to 17: 15 in the U.S. and 2 in Canada.
The human cases have occurred in Missouri (3 illnesses), North Carolina (3), Pennsylvania (2), Ohio (2), Michigan (1), Alabama (1), Virginia (1), Connecticut (1), New Jersey (1), Quebec (1), and Nova Scotia (1).
Microbiologist and eFoodAlert author Phyllis Entis has been chronicling her readers' stories on her website and has been contacted by readers in Ireland and France who reported sickening their dogs after feeding them Taste of the Wild, one of the recalled brands.
On May 21, the public health arm of the Singapore government released a consumer advisory on the recall. Four of the nine affected brands are sold in Singapore.
"This stuff is all around the world," Entis said. "There are a lot of countries where this product might be, but Diamond -- to the best of my knowledge -- has not released a list of countries."
On eFoodAlert, Entis compiled her own list of places Diamond products are likely distributed, which includes countries in Europe, Asia, Australia and South America.
"The sloppiest recall I've ever seen"
Since 2005, Susan Thixton has been writing about pet food problems in the U.S. on her website TruthAboutPetFood.com. She's covered numerous pet food recalls in that time, including the melamine outbreak of 2007 that involved the recall of more than 90 brands.
But when it comes to disorganization, she said, Diamond's recall surpasses them all.
"This has got to be the sloppiest recall I've ever seen," she told Food Safety News.
From the initial one-brand recall on April 6 to the latest expansion, the Diamond recall has been plagued by hiccups such as corrections to production codes and best-by dates.
What's more, the company seems to make -- and then correct -- the same mistakes with successive expansions. Thixton detailed these maneuvers on her website in a post titled "Sloppy, Sloppy, Sloppy."
Originally, the initial recall included a handful of products with best-by dates of January 3 or 4, 2013. Later, Diamond corrected their production codes and amended the recall to include all products with any best-by date between December 9, 2012 and April 7, 2013.
Twenty days later, Diamond expanded the recall to include a few varieties of Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul formulas with best-by dates of January 27 or 28, 2013. Again, the company later amended the dates to the same December-April timeframe for those newly added products.
Other corrections played out with production codes on Canidae and Natural Balance: Recalls that affected a limited number of production codes were later expanded to include a wider array.
Another glaring red flag, both Thixton and Entis said, was that the company seemed to withhold information that would indicate the latest recalled batch was made at the Missouri facility.
It took readers of TruthAboutPetFood.com to uncover that the latest expansion involved an additional plant when they called Diamond's consumer hotline. The FDA later indepently confirmed that information with Entis.
The end result of all this, Thixton said, has been a lot of frustrated and confused pet owners.
Some decisions by the FDA related to the recall have left Entis similarly perplexed. Following Diamond's outbreak and recalls, the FDA inspected their South Carolina facility and found a number of sanitation deficiencies, but did not perform more tests sometimes done during such inspections.
"I'm certainly surprised and disappointed that FDA did not perform environmental and ingredient testing, especially considering the problems they observed during their inspection of the Gaston plant," Entis said.
The FDA has given no word on whether it will investigate the Missouri plant responsible for the latest expansion, or whether or not it will look into a connection between the contaminations at the two plants.
For now, Entis and Thixton plan to continue chronicling the recall and spreading word about any further developments.
Thixton recommended pet owners who suspect their pets have eaten recalled products to keep a close eye on them and watch for any changes to their eating habits or behavior.
"Any pet food company is capable of human error, but our pets have keener senses than we do," she said. "I'm a big believer in listening to pets. Know what's normal behavior and pay attention to that daily. And be diligent."

Chinese despair at endless food-safety scares
Source :http://www.freep.com/usatoday/article/55252482?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE%7Cp
By Peter Parks (May 28, 2012)
Salivating on their sofas, TV viewers across China have been enjoying a documentary series on the nation's world-famous cuisine. From the lotus and rib soup of Hubei to the mountain mushrooms of Tibet, China on the Tip of the Tongue is so tantalizing that many fans responded online, "I want to lick the screen."
But another reaction to the top-rated food show by state broadcaster CCTV has been disgust at its failure to highlight one of the most pressing concerns of China's citizens: the daily danger of fake and adulterated foodstuffs.
"How come I didn't see any 'gutter' cooking oil, poisonous milk powder, dyed bread rolls and old leather shoes?" TV anchorman Wang Mudi asked recently on a Chinese version of Twitter, referring to four of China's countless food-safety scandals.
The shoe scare, which alleged that leather was used to make jelly and yogurt, was never proven, but plenty of very real worries rattle China's people every time they shop at a market or eat in a restaurant. The lure of even razor-thin margins has profiteers using chemicals to make everything from eggs to pig's ears.
Regular surveys reveal that China's authoritarian government struggles to reassure citizens that it can deliver the safe food they rank as a top priority.
In the city of Guangzhou, whose Cantonese cuisine is celebrated worldwide, more than 46% of residents are dissatisfied with food safety, and more than 37% said they had suffered recent food-safety problems, according to a survey released this month by the Guangzhou Public Opinion Research Center.
"There are two Chinas on the tip of the tongue," says Shanghai student Wu Heng, a fan of the series. "There's the China shown on TV, with its traditional food culture and long history. Then there's another China shown on my website, the current environment in which black-hearted enterprises make black-hearted foodstuffs and have a large market."
Wu, 26, became active in the food-safety cause because of his favorite dish of braised beef and rice. Startled by a news report on fake beef, he was inspired to create an online food-safety database that allows visitors to add the latest problems nationwide, often involving the illegal use of additives.
With his website, "Throw It Out the Window," Wu hopes more public awareness and pressure will produce bold steps to tackle China's food-safety crisis. His site attracted more than 1 million views a day earlier this month, Wu says.
Food safety has already taken a turn for the better, says Wu Yongning, chief food-safety scientist at the Ministry of Health in Beijing. He insists there are fewer serious incidents today than four or five years ago.
"There is greater media supervision now, which exposes problems and makes the government play the role it should," he says.
That role included shutting 5,000-plus companies involved in crimes affecting food safety in 2011, according to official figures. In addition, officials stopped the operation of 43,000 unlicensed food producing businesses, down from 72,000 in 2010.
Many fundamental problems remain, Wu admits. China still needs a strong central agency like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as too many government departments share responsibility for food safety, he says. The FDA has requested funding for 16 additional inspectors in China to protect U.S. consumers, says Christopher Hickey, FDA China country director in Beijing.
China appears a long way from Western-style food-safety standards when Chinese still can't trust the oil they use to cook much of their food. For months, authorities have cracked down on "gutter oil," used cooking oil dredged from the gutters outside restaurants and resold. Today, the term refers to any illegal oil, such as the stuff made from rotting animal parts in Zhejiang province and from industrial fats used for soap in Yunnan.
Even the state-run Xinhua News Agency despaired this month over food safety, noting formaldehyde-sprayed cabbage — done to retain freshness — "sparked public anger and prolonged the seemingly unending discussion on what, if anything, is safe to eat."
"I really hate them; don't they have children?" asks Xiang Zhen, a pregnant housewife shopping in eastern Beijing, alluding to the "evil people" using formaldehyde.
"I'm worried any vegetables with pesticides will hurt my health," says Xiang, 31, who prefers to buy food directly from farmers.
Website creator Wu Heng is a long-term optimist on food safety. A history student, who graduates this year, Wu sounds confident that China will overcome what appear to be overwhelming food-safety issues.
Retiree Zhang Binyi doesn't share such confidence.
"I watched China on the Tip of the Tongue, and I enjoyed it with my family," says Zhang, 65. "But none of us believes that food is so nice nowadays. I think non-toxic foods remain only in our memories."

What’s on those cloths used to wipe tables at restaurants?
Source : http://barfblog.foodsafety.ksu.edu/blog/155092/12/05/28/what%E2%80%99s-those-cloths-used-wipe-tables-restaurants
By Doug Powell (May 28, 2012)
There’s a reason silverware is often delivered on or in a napkin at a restaurant: to prevent contact with the gunk on the table.
All proper-mannered people will unwrap the knife and fork and spoon and tuck the napkin into their shirt collar.
Food comes on a plate. Silverware hits the table. What’s on the table?
One of my favorite questions when dining out is, what was the table wiped with, as a server finishes cleaning up from the previous diners.
Stuff.
Sanitizing stuff.
Lisa Gibson of Access Atlanta notes that various restaurants, from the upscale ones to the deli type and wings spots, face food safety citations related to wiping cloths and sanitizing solution.
When restaurants fall short in this area, inspectors advise the managers on proper procedures. Also, Georgia’s food safety guidelines are clear on this subject:
Cloths in-use for wiping food spills from tableware and carry-out containers that occur as food is being served shall be maintained dry and used for no other purpose.
Cloths in-use for wiping counters and other equipment surfaces shall be held between uses in a chemical sanitizer solution at a concentration specified.
Cloths in-use for wiping surfaces in contact with raw animal foods shall be kept
separate from cloths used for other purposes.
Dry wiping cloths and the chemical sanitizing solutions in which wet wiping cloths are held between uses shall be free of food debris and visible soil.

Food Safety - It's a Global Issue
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/lawyer-oped/food-safety---its-a-global-issue/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MarlerBlog+%28Marler+Blog%29
By Bill Marler (May 28,2012)
Food products now come to the United States from over 250,000 foreign establishments in 200 countries. Indeed, 15 percent of fruits, 20 percent of vegetables, and 80 percent of seafood come from overseas. And, with the consumption of imported foods growing, we have seen an increase in recalls and foodborne illness outbreaks linked to them.
A few days ago two meat processing plants in the United States, Lancaster Frozen Foods and G&W Inc., recalled nearly 7,000 pounds of ground beef after South Carolina state inspectors found that meat they received from an Australian packing plant was contaminated with potentially deadly E. coli O157:H7 bacteria. Fortunately, there appear to be no illnesses linked to the meat - yet.
Then there is the ongoing Salmonella outbreak linked to tempeh made by a North Carolina company, Smiling Hara, which purchased Tempeh Starter Yeast from an online Maryland company, which has issued a recall. As of Thursday, 76 confirmed, 6 probable, and 6 suspected cases have been recorded in five states: 80 in North Carolina, 3 in Georgia, 3 in South Carolina, 1 in Tennessee, and 1 in Michigan. The recalled starter yeast, imported from Indonesia, was distributed by www.indonesianfoodmart.com nationwide and internationally through direct mail order, according to a May 22 company statement that was posted online by the FDA.
Last week, Caribe Produce LTD Co. recalled 286 cases of Papaya Maradol, Caribeña Brand papayas because they might be contaminated with Salmonella. Routine testing by the company revealed the presence of Salmonella in the papayas, according to the recall notice. The company says no illnesses have been reported. The recalled Papaya Maradol, Caribeña Brand cases were distributed in the Bronx, New York in wholesale stores and through retail stores from May 14 to May 17, 2012. The papayas were packed in 35 lb. cartons marked with the brand "Caribeña" and "Product of Mexico" stamped on the side. The papayas are sold individually, and each one bears a label that states "3112 CARIBEÑA Papaya MARADOL PRODUCT OF MEXICO www.grandeproduce.com.”
Last month the CDC reported that a total of 316 individuals infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Bareilly or Salmonella Nchanga had been reported from 26 states and the District of Columbia. The outbreak announcement was followed by Moon Marine USA Corporation (also known as MMI) of Cupertino, CA recalling 58,828 lbs. of a frozen raw yellowfin tuna product, labeled as Nakaochi Scrape AA or AAA. Nakaochi Scrape is tuna backmeat, which is specifically scraped from the bones, and looks like a ground product. Moon Fishery (India) Pvt. Ltd., the manufacturer of the Yellow Fin Tuna Nakaochi Scrape, also recalled its 22-pound cases of "Tuna Strips" Product of India AA or AAA GRADE because they had the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
But, do not think that it is just food that is imported to the United States that is a problem. Our exports have raised concerns abroad, too.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA ERS), the United States exported over $136 billion in agricultural products in 2011, which -- compared to the 2001 value of $53 billion -- represents a steady increase in exports. Nonetheless, the world has not been shy about denying American exports that demonstrate risk.
Spinach: In late 2006 an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to Dole bagged spinach led to 205 illnesses, 103 hospitalizations, and 2 deaths. The outbreak spanned 49 states and Canada and took a huge economic toll on the spinach and leafy greens industry due to consumer uncertainty inside and outside U.S. borders. During the outbreak Mexico placed a ban on all California lettuce imports.
Peanut Butter: In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that there had been 628 confirmed cases of Salmonella infection in 41 states from August 2006 through May 2007. Although the outbreak slowed, cases continued to be confirmed after this time period. The cases were linked to the consumption of Peter Pan and Great Value brand peanut butter manufactured in ConAgra's Georgia peanut butter plant. The product was recalled worldwide and countries like China banned the brands.
Mad Cow Disease: Since 2003, the United States has confirmed a total of 4 cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) in cows, including an April 23, 2012 case linked to a California dairy cow. Over 65 countries have banned or limited U.S. beef sales in response to these events. Notably, Japan and South Korea, the first and third largest importers of U.S. beef in 2003, banned U.S. beef. Though Japan and South Korea had essentially lifted the bans by 2009, both countries continue to place restrictions on specific higher risk products. Following the 2012 case, Indonesia banned U.S. beef and some major Korean retailers halted the sale of U.S. beef. Since the initial mad cow case, the beef industry has taken a significant economic hit. In 2002 the U.S. exported 2.447 billion pounds of beef, but by 2004 the number of pounds exported had dropped to just 460 million. Only in 2011 did beef exports return to 2002 levels. And then we found another mad cow in 2012.
Food safety is "farm to fork" and around the world. We all - producers, shippers, importers, exporters, retailers and consumers - need to pay attention to the whole supply chain, even if it stretches around the globe. Ultimately food safety is both good for public health and good for business.

Even the Pros Do It: Notable Food Safety Mistakes
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/even-the-pros-do-it-notable-food-safety-mistakes/
By Linda Larsen (May 28, 2012)
As an advocate for food safety, I’m always on the lookout for dangerous cooking practices. I ask for well-done burgers at restaurants, I ask if the steak I’ve ordered is blade- or mechanically-tenderized, and I always order (and cook) eggs over hard or scrambled to 165 degrees F.
It’s especially difficult to see prominent chefs and cookbook authors disregard food safety rules. There are three recent notable food safety mistakes made by experts in the past few days.
Just before the Memorial Day weekend, The New York Times printed an article titled Mayonnaise: Oil, Egg, and a Drop of Magic. It should have been titled Mayonnaise: Oil, Egg, and a Drop of Salmonella. The article gave detailed instructions about how to prepare mayonnaise at home, which is of course delicious. But there was not one word on using pasteurized eggs; in fact, the article urges people to use raw eggs.
According to the CDC, raw and undercooked eggs are implicated in 80% of all Salmonella enteritidis outbreaks where a food source is identified. Eggs are contaminated in the chickens before the shell is formed, because bacteria are in hen’s ovaries. In fact, as of September 4, 2001, all packages of unpasteurized raw shell eggs sold in this country must carry this statement: SAFE HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS: To prevent illness from bacteria: Keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs throughly.
On Good Morning America this morning, Emeril Lagasse made that same mistake, singing the praises of homemade mayonnaise made with raw egg.
He also made burgers without using a food thermometer to check the final temperature.
During the spot, he handled the raw meat, then picked up toasted buns, lettuce, tomato, and onions without washing his hands. He also touched the cooked burgers without washing his hands.
In other words, he contaminated the finished product with bacteria from the raw meat, which is the number one concern about grilling foods at home, according to food safety experts such as Anna Schmitt Reichert, Director of Communications for NSF International. One recent study found that 88% of all ground beef is contaminated with at least one type of bacteria.
And then Emeril offered it to the host to eat, with the crowd cheering him on.
Piling uncooked sprouts on one burger was yet another mistake.
Finally, in the May issue of Food Network Magazine, Ina Garten gives her “greatest cooking tip of all time”: Let eggs stand out at room temperature overnight before baking. Which will let any bacteria in those eggs grow to massive amounts, since after two hours at room temperature, bacteria numbers double every 15 to 20 minutes in perishable foods. And since some bacteria produce toxins that are not destroyed by heat, even if you cook those eggs thoroughly, you could still get sick.
If you want to use room temperature eggs for baking, put them in a bowl of lukewarm water for 15-20 minutes. They’ll be the perfect temperature, and bacteria counts will be held down.
Any chef, cookbook author, or food expert in the public eye should make sure that food safety rules are followed to the letter every time a recipe is written or demonstrated. More than 48,000,000 Americans suffer food poisoning every year, more than 100,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. And many of those sickened  suffer lifelong consequences of those illnesses. Professionals in the public spotlight have a responsibility to make sure their recipes and cooking advice are safe.

Radioactive Bluefin Tuna: Japan Nuclear Plant Contaminated Fish Found Off California Coast
Source : http://blog.usfoodsafety.com/2012/05/29/radioactive-bluefin-tuna-japan-nuclear-plant-contaminated-fish-found-off-california-coast/
By foodsafeguru ( May 29, 2012)
Across the vast Pacific, the mighty bluefin tuna carried radioactive contamination that leaked from Japan’s crippled nuclear plant to the shores of the United States 6,000 miles away – the first time a huge migrating fish has been shown to carry radioactivity such a distance.
“We were frankly kind of startled,” said Nicholas Fisher, one of the researchers reporting the findings online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The levels of radioactive cesium were 10 times higher than the amount measured in tuna off the California coast in previous years. But even so, that’s still far below safe-to-eat limits set by the U.S. and Japanese governments.
Previously, smaller fish and plankton were found with elevated levels of radiation in Japanese waters after a magnitude-9 earthquake in March 2011 triggered a tsunami that badly damaged the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors.
But scientists did not expect the nuclear fallout to linger in huge fish that sail the world because such fish can metabolize and shed radioactive substances.
One of the largest and speediest fish, Pacific bluefin tuna can grow to 10 feet and weigh more than 1,000 pounds. They spawn off the Japan coast and swim east at breakneck speed to school in waters off California and the tip of Baja California, Mexico.
Five months after the Fukushima disaster, Fisher of Stony Brook University in New York and a team decided to test Pacific bluefin that were caught off the coast of San Diego. To their surprise, tissue samples from all 15 tuna captured contained levels of two radioactive substances – ceisum-134 and cesium-137 – that were higher than in previous catches.
To rule out the possibility that the radiation was carried by ocean currents or deposited in the sea through the atmosphere, the team also analyzed yellowfin tuna, found in the eastern Pacific, and bluefin that migrated to Southern California before the nuclear crisis. They found no trace of cesium-134 and only background levels of cesium-137 left over from nuclear weapons testing in the 1960s.
The results “are unequivocal. Fukushima was the source,” said Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who had no role in the research.
Bluefin tuna absorbed radioactive cesium from swimming in contaminated waters and feeding on contaminated prey such as krill and squid, the scientists said. As the predators made the journey east, they shed some of the radiation through metabolism and as they grew larger. Even so, they weren’t able to completely flush out all the contamination from their system.”That’s a big ocean. To swim across it and still retain these radionuclides is pretty amazing,” Fisher said.
Pacific bluefin tuna are prized in Japan where a thin slice of the tender red meat prepared as sushi can fetch $24 per piece at top Tokyo restaurants. Japanese consume 80 percent of the world’s Pacific and Atlantic bluefin tuna.
The real test of how radioactivity affects tuna populations comes this summer when researchers planned to repeat the study with a larger number of samples. Bluefin tuna that journeyed last year were exposed to radiation for about a month. The upcoming travelers have been swimming in radioactive waters for a longer period. How this will affect concentrations of contamination remains to be seen.
Now that scientists know that bluefin tuna can transport radiation, they also want to track the movements of other migratory species including sea turtles, sharks and seabirds.

Pink Slime or Orange Oil? Orange Essential Oils Can Combat E.coli
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/15064/
By Carla Gillespie (May 28,2012)
Used in surface applications at cold temperatures, orange essential oils can inhibit the growth of E. coli O157:H7, according to the results of a new study published in a May issue of The Journal of Food Science.
The five-member research teamed included Sean J. Pendleton, Philip G. Crandall, Steven C. Ricke and Corliss A. O’Bryan from the Center for Food Safety-IFSE and Food Science Dept. at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville; and Lawrence Goodridge, from the Dept. of Animal Sciences, at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
They examined the antimicrobial efficacy of cold pressed Valencia orange oil on three strains of E. coli O157:H7 at three temperatures: 37° C, 10° C and 4° C. Orange oil solutions of various concentrations were made. Results showed that after six hours:
At 37 °C, all three strains of E.coli were inhibited at orange oil concentrations ranging from 0.2% to 0.6%.
At 10 °C, all three strains were inhibited at concentrations ranging from 0.8% to 6.3%.
At 4 °C, all strains were inhibited at concentrations ranging from 2.3% to 4.6%.
Based on those results, researchers concluded that concentrated Valencia orange oil is “a viable option to inhibit E. coli O157:H7 growth at refrigeration temperatures.” Potential future applications for the findings of this study would be to improve food safety using a natural product to battle E.coli.

Paul Schwarz, an American hero, died from eating cantaloupe
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/lawyer-oped/paul-schwarz-an-american-hero-died-from-eating-cantaloupe/
By Bill Marler (May 27, 2012)
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. Paul Schwarz likely should have died during his service of his country, but he survived and became a father, grandfather, great-grandfather and a productive member of our country. In all respects he was an American hero. We repaid Paul and his family by having “the safest food supply in the world.” On this Memorial Day we should all be ashamed.
Paul Schwarz served in the Army in New Guinea and the Philippines during WWII. He was awarded two Purple Hearts. Paul met Rosellen in a Catholic church in Kansas City when she was 18 and he not much older. They married soon after and then Paul was called to war. Rosellen would not see him for approximately two years. Like many veterans, Paul was reticent about his service, but remained deeply attached to those with whom he served. During their many years together Paul and Rosellen attended many reunions with Paul’s Army unit.
After the war, Paul worked for a printing company, a bakery, and then as an agent for Metropolitan Life Insurance Company beginning in 1956. He retired in 1981 at age 63. Rosellen and Paul had five children: Jim, Janice, Paul, Mary Pat and Greg. He and Rosellen lived in the same house for almost six decades. Rosellen continues to live there today. When he died, Paul left nine grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. He delighted in his extended family and looked forward to large holiday gatherings. Paul had a larger than life personality. He was loud, funny, and gregarious. He was a sportsman who loved to golf. He carded two holes in one and followed a wide variety of sports. He was a huge baseball fan and often watched both the Kansas City and St. Louis teams; he would regularly drive to St. Louis to watch the Cardinals.
Paul and Rosellen traveled throughout the country, almost always by car, after Paul’s retirement. Between travel, family, and sports, Paul was rarely still. He enjoyed good health and even in his last year, had to be admonished to use his cane inside of the house because he had little trouble walking. Paul and Rosellen’s marriage lasted 68 extraordinary years.
Rosellen suffers from early Alzheimer’s disease and Paul was her rock, caregiver, and constant companion. For Rosellen, Paul’s death has left her with an aching loneliness despite the large family that now cares for her. She still lives in the family house under the care of a niece and the support of her grandchildren, but she will have to move to an assisted living facility soon.
Paul A. Schwarz, Jr. was 92 years old in the fall of 2011, when he fell ill after eating cantaloupe contaminated by Listeria monocytogenes. After a month in the hospital and two more months in a rehabilitation center, the Listeria infection finally killed Paul.
My father died in January. He served in the Korean War, and was perhaps not technically a hero – except to me. His passing, and the time I spent with him in the days before his death, has given me a far greater appreciation for what many of my clients and their family’s experience. Death is painful, it is hard to watch, it makes you cry and it is humbling. My dad’s death was all of those, but it was natural and inevitable. Paul Schwarz’s death was not natural, it was not inevitable, and it came before its time because our food supply is in fact not “the safest in the world.”

Why the Salmonella Tempeh, Tuna and Pine Nut Outbreaks are a larger Problem
When Smiling Hara Tempeh Managing Executive Chad Oliphant began buying starter culture used to make the popular bean product tempeh from Maryland-based Tempeh Online, he surely did not expect it to be contaminated with Salmonella (or anything else, for that matter). And, why should he? Like most people in his position, I imagine Mr. Oliphant was acting under the belief that the products purchased from overseas exporters have been vetted for safety issues. Of course, this outbreak has shown that Smiling Hara Tempeh should have tested its product prior to sending it out for consumption, but it is also serves as an example of a burgeoning trend of foodborne illness outbreaks linked to imported food.
Food products now come from over 250,000 foreign establishments in 200 countries. Indeed, 15 percent of fruits, 20 percent of vegetables, and 80 percent of seafood comes from overseas. And, with the consumption of imported foods growing, we have seen an increase in foodborne illness outbreaks linked to them.
In just the past year consumers felt the pain of multiple import-related outbreaks: Turkish pine nuts, Mexican papayas, and Guatemalan cantaloupe were a few products linked to Salmonella outbreaks in 2011. Contaminated sprout seeds imported to Germany from Egypt caused the disastrous E. coli outbreak that sickened thousands and killed 50 in Europe, including some Americans in Spring 2011. Most recently, alongside the tempeh outbreak, a nationwide Salmonella outbreak was traced to sushi made from imported Nakaochi scrape (aka tuna Scrape), ground tuna meat scraped from the ribs and backbones on tuna. The contaminated tuna scrape was imported from India and distributed by a California company to supermarkets and restaurants all over the country. Despite labels indicating the product should be cooked, it was used in sushi rolls and ceviche—dishes served raw. Over 300 Americans who ate the raw imported tuna scrape became ill with Salmonella infections.
Perhaps it should not be altogether unsurprising that we are experiencing foodborne illness outbreaks tied to imported foods, given the lack of oversight afforded to imports.
While forty-five percent of import-related foodborne illnesses are tied to seafood, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only inspects 1 percent of seafood that enters the country. Of the seafood inspected, 51 percent gets rejected due to spoilage, physical abnormalities, or pathogen contamination. All other imported food fares only slightly better, with 2 percent becoming subject to inspection.
So while thousands of people were likely sickened by imported food last year, my dire prediction is that we’ll continue to see a rise in import-related foodborne illness outbreaks. That is, unless there are upgrades to current FDA import policies.
Fortunately, I’m not alone in this thinking.
In 2010, President Obama signed into law the US FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which included a substantial revamp of food safety procedures required for domestic food production and imports. If Funded the FMSA will increase the number of import inspections; importers will be specifically required to have a program to verify that the food products they are bringing into this country are safe as well as verify that their suppliers are in compliance with reasonably appropriate risk-based preventive controls.
Unfortunately, there are some very real hurdles to clear before FSMA can take effect.
A critical defect in FSMA is the absence a funding mandate. This means that while FDA may be required by law to implement improved food safety procedures, there will not be enough money to put those policies into action. Currently, the funding for FSMA lies in the hands of Congress, though as FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg has pointed out: so far Congress has been unwilling to allocate FDA the funds necessary to validate the legislation.
Of course there is another roadblock that preempts even the likes of Congress. The Whitehouse Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is responsible for approving draft rules such as the provisions established in FSMA. The FSMA rules pertaining to imports were supposed to be finalized by January 4, 2012, but five months later they remain in OMB, apparently stalled.
Where does this leave us?
We will continue to see a rise in the number of imports.
Americans will continue to eat more imports
Without funding and enacting FSMA import rules, we will continue to see more outbreaks associated with imports.
As for Smiling Hara Tempeh, perhaps if OMB had been on schedule and Congress had appropriated sufficient funding, over 80 people would not have become victims of Salmonella poisoning. In the meantime it will be up to American importers to ensure the foods they are bringing in from other countries are safe.

Home Grown Salmonella Outbreaks Are On The Rise
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/home-grown-salmonella-outbreaks-are-on-the-rise/
By Carla Gillespie (May 27, 2012)
Domestically acquired cases of Salmonella enterica infections are on the rise, according to recent study published in the June issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Since the late 1990s, the incidence of Salmonella enterica infections in the U.S. has increased by 44 percent and most of them were acquired from domestic sources, according to the study.
The research team including: Shua J. Chai, Patricia L. White, Sarah L. Lathrop., Suzanne M. Solghan, Carlota Medua, Beth M. McGlinchey, Melissa Tobin-D’Angelo, Ruthanne Marcus and Barbara E. Mahon, says Salmonella infections from domestic sources are a growing problem.
The team analyzed data of Salmonella enterica reported to the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) from 1996 to 2009 and compared it with data collected from other surveillance systems.
The largest increases by demographic were in young children, older adults, and residents of southern states, researchers found. They identifed chicken and eggs as likely major sources of infection.
Although many cases go unreported, Salmonella enterica causes an estimated 1 million cases of domestically acquired foodborne illness in the U.S. each year, according to the study. The serotype, Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) is one of the most common Salmonella serotypes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
There have been a number of foodborne Salmonella outbreaks this year. Two of them were from domestic sources:
A Salmonella Paratyphi B outbreak in North Carolina linked to locally produced tempeh that sickened 83 people.
A multistate Salmonella Infantis outbreak linked to dry dog food that sickened 15 people.

Meat gets around; Australian beef implicated in South Carolina E. coli positive sample
Source : http://barfblog.foodsafety.ksu.edu/blog/155054/12/05/27/meat-gets-around-australian-beef-implicated-south-carolina-e-coli-positive-samp
By  Doug Powell (May 27, 2012)
Australians don’t take kindly to suggestions their beef may have E. coli.
A Japanese chain serving raw beef tried the tactic in an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak last year that sickened 20 people, and now a positive sample in South Carolina – no people sick – has triggered diverse responses.
On May18, 2012, two South Carolina companies, Lancaster Frozen Foods and G&W Inc. announced they were recalling nearly 7,000 pounds of ground beef after a state testing program found an E. coli O157 positive sample (there was no mention of a possible connection with the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in early May at a restaurant in South Carolina that sickened 11 people, but outbreaks do focus the attention of public health folks).
The Charlotte Observer reported the SC meat originated from an Australian packing plant, and that the companies no longer buy beef from the Australian company.
A few days later the story popped up throughout Australia, with meat types insisting the meat was safe and noting that more than 70 Australian plants are certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to export meat and poultry.
Australian TV got into the scrum, declaring that up to 13 Australian shipments of contaminated meat have been rejected by USDA in the past year, including nine loads of mutton contaminated with feces and one load because of veterinary drug residues.
Meat and Livestock Australia Ltd. said in January that one of the "major hurdles for Australian exports to the U.S. in 2012" would be increased non-O157 E. coli testing requirements. MLA estimated Australia's beef exports to the U.S. in 2011 were valued at A$744 million.
The U.S. is Australia’s second largest export market for beef and its largest export market for lamb.
Seek and ye shall find: increased testing means increased positives, and it’s going to take diplomatic skills and data to better understand what a positive means.
In the short-term, blame the foreigners will remain politically appealing: Australia does it, U.S. does it, Canada does it, every country in Europe does it.

Ohio investigation finds Listeria, Salmonella in garbage water
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/ohio-investigation-finds-listeria-salmonella-in-garbage-water/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FoodPoisonBlog+%28Food+Poison+Blog%29
By Drew Falkenstein ( May 25, 2012)
Listeria monocytegenes is a bacteria that does two things very well:  firmly takes root in certain environments conducive to its growth, and finds people who can least afford to come into contact with it.  Listeria has a mortality rate around 20%.  As a case in point, fully 99% of the 146 confirmed cases of Listeria illness linked to last summer's cantaloupe Listeria outbreak had to be hospitalized, and 36 of them died.
That is why the results of a Northeast Ohio newschannel's investigations are worthy of note, and are concerning, if not unsurprising.  Garbage trucks, of course, contain many types of bacteria that can cause severe illness in human beings.  An investigation by Channel 3 News collected samples of fluids spilling from garbage trucks in Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Maple Heights and Brooklyn and had them tested.  In addition to listeria, Accra Labs found very high levels of bacteria and low levels of salmonella.  
Cleveland City Councilman Mike Polensek says homeowners in the Collinwood neighborhood he represents often complain about the filthy stains left behind by city trash haulers.  "It becomes a major problem because you don't know what's in it," said Polensek.
Some experts say a single drop of listeria is enough to make you sick. Children playing ball in the streets can easily come in contact with the contaminated fluid.
A number of cities, including Cleveland, are turning to newer container trucks which are not supposed to leak fluids. 
But Channel 3 news found newer trucks leaking fluid in both Cleveland and in Maple Heights.  A simple drain plug, which we found at a local store for less than $2, can be an easy fix. But service directors in several communities say the plug can pose a hazard to workers collecting the garbage.  "That juice collects in the back of the packer and, eventually, splashes out onto our employees on the street," said Ronnie Owens, the commissioner of the division of waste collection in the Cleveland Department of Public Service.
Environmental contamination, leading to eventual contamination of foods, hands, or other items that ultimately find their way into the mouths of human beings, really is the problem with Listeria.  Again the cantaloupe listeria outbreak is a perfect example.  Here is why it happened:
Introduction:
There could have been low level sporadic Listeria monocytogenes in the field where the cantaloupe were grown, which could have been introduced into the packing facility
A truck used to haul culled cantaloupe to a cattle operation was parked adjacent to the packing facility and could have introduced contamination into the facility
Spread:
The packing facility’s design allowed water to pool on the floor near equipment and employee walkways;
The packing facility floor was constructed in a manner that made it difficult to clean
The packing equipment was not easily cleaned and sanitized; washing and drying equipment used for cantaloupe packing was previously used for postharvest handling of another raw agricultural commodity.
Growth:
There was no pre-cooling step to remove field heat from the cantaloupes before cold storage. As the cantaloupes cooled there may have been condensation that promoted the growth of Listeria monocytogenes.
FDA’s findings regarding this particular outbreak highlight the importance for firms to employ good agricultural and management practices in their packing facilities as well as in growing fields. FDA recommends that firms employ good agricultural and management practices recommended for the growing, harvesting, washing, sorting, packing, storage and transporting of fruits and vegetables sold to consumers in an unprocessed or minimally processed raw form.

Listeria in garbage juice? Cue the Daltrey scream
Source : http://barfblog.foodsafety.ksu.edu/blog/155047/12/05/25/listeria-garbage-juice-cue-daltrey-scream
By Ben Chapman (May 25, 2012)
For the past couple of years we've been vermicomposting a lot of fruits and vegetables, egg shells and dryer lint. Everything else either goes into recycling (mainly paper, cans and thick plastic) or landfill waste. Included in our landfill waste is stuff like raw poultry, beef and pork trimmings and packaging. There's a pretty good chance that my house is a decent supply of pathogens into the garbage stream - as are most of my neighbors.
Garbage trucks seem to be a hot issue in North East Ohio - so hot that a local TV station grabbed some samples of the fluids dripping from the trucks and found, wait for it, Listeria, as well as "very high levels of bacteria and low levels of Salmonella."
That's some fine detective work there, Lou.
Listeria is in lots of places, including soil, and I'd expect to see "lots of bacteria", including Salmonella, in an environment where folks put their food waste, it gets mashed together, and sits around at ambient temperatures.
From Channel 3 News:
Listeria, a potentially deadly food-borne bacteria, was found in high levels of fluids dripping from garbage trucks onto neighborhood streets, a Channel 3 News investigation found.The bacteria has a mortality rate of 20 percent and, according to microbiologist Roger Pryor, of Accra Labs in Twinsburg,  it poses an especially significant threat to the elderly, children and to pregnant women.
Channel 3 news collected samples of fluids spilling from garbage trucks in Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Maple Heights and Brooklyn and had them tested. In addition to listeria, Accra Labs found very high levels of bacteria and low levels of salmonella.
Cleveland City Councilman Mike Polensek says homeowners in the Collinwood neighborhood he represents often complain about the filthy stains left behind by city trash haulers.
"It becomes a major problem because you don't know what's in it," said Polensek (some pretty nasty stuff, whether in Ohio or elsewhere- ben).
Some experts say a single drop of listeria is enough to make you sick. Children playing ball in the streets can easily come in contact with the contaminated fluid.
This is a bit of a stretch for me - while gross, I'm not sure that dripping garbage juice would ever be considered a major source of Listeria. But I guess some data exists to support the statement: Don't drink garbage truck juice.

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Dog Food Linked To Salmonella Outbreak Killed Dozens of Dogs In 2005
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/dog-food-linked-to-salmonella-outbreak-killed-dozens-of-dogs-in-2005/
By Carla Gillespie (June, 2012)
Diamond Pet Food, the maker of dog food linked to a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened 15 people in nine states and spawned 10 dog food recalls  since April 6, was linked to the deaths of dozens of dogs in 2005, according to records at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In December 2005, the company issued a recall of 19 varieties of cat and dog food made at its Gaston, S.C. facility after some of them were found to be contaminated with toxic mold. The recall, one of the largest pet food recalls in U.S. history, would later grow to include 31 brands totaling 700,000 packages shipped to 24 states and 30 countries, according to a report by the FDA.  But not before they killed dozens of dogs.
At least 76 dogs died after eating foods manufactured by Diamond, others who were sickened survived with damage to major organs and required specialized care for the rest of their shortened lives.
The FDA sent a warning letter to the company after FDA investigators found several violations during a December 2005 inspection.  One that was mentioned: “The inspection also revealed that the facility failed to implement appropriate controls to prevent the adulteration of the pet food, and that the plant personnel failed to follow established procedures.”
Fast forward (over a 2007 recall,  a 2009 recall, and a 2010 recall ) to 2012, when the same plant is linked to 10 ongoing recalls that are causing illness in humans including an 8-week-old baby who was hospitalized for three days. Here are a couple of the comments from FDA inspectors who visited the plant in April 2012: “All reasonable precautions are not taken to ensure that production procedures do not contribute contamination from any source.” And: “An employee was observed touching in-line fat filter and oil with bare hands.”
Tainted pet food can sicken humans who touch it or come into contact with surfaces it has touched. The symptoms of Salmonella poisoning usually set in 12 to 72 hours after exposure and include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps that last four to seven days. Infants, small children, the elderly, pregnant women and others with compromised immune systems are most at risk.

Six Year Old Boy in Massachusetts Died From an E. coli Infection
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/six-year-old-boy-in-massachusetts-died-from-an-ecoli-infection/
By  Linda Larsen (June 01, 2012)
On May 26, 2012, a six year old boy in Massachusetts died from an E. coli infection, according to the Massachusetts Department of Health and the Worcester Department of Public Health. A press release by the City of Worcester, obtained by Food Poisoning Bulletin, confirms that he died from complications of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
Anne Roach, spokesperson for the Massachusetts Department of Health, told Food Poisoning Bulletin that that agency has “confirmed the presence of E. coli 0157 in its investigation of the recent death of a child in Worcester County. The epidemiologic investigation remains ongoing and no further details are available.”
The little boy became sick the week of May 20, 2012 and, as his symptoms worsened, his parents took him to the doctor. He was hospitalized, but his condition continued to deteriorate.
Derek S. Brindisi, Director of Public Health for Worcester, said, “We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Owen Carrignan and offer our deepest sympathy to Owen’s family. The source of exposure has not yet been determined at this time. Officials are treating this as an isolated case, consistent with a food borne illness.”
E. coli 0157 infection is the primary cause of hemolytic uremic syndrome, a condition where red blood cells are destroyed by Shiga toxins produced by the bacteria. The incubation period of this bacterium, which is the time between exposure and the development of symptoms, can range from 1 day up to 4 days.
HUS is the leading cause of kidney failure in pediatric patients. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for E. coli 0157 infections. Studies have found that treating the patient with antibiotics can make them more susceptible to HUS.
The bacteria is found in ground beef, raw milk, and can be easily spread through cross-contamination. The bacteria lives in the intestinal systems of animals and gets into meat when the animal is killed, and gets into raw milk when the cow is milked.
It only takes 100 E. coli 0157 bacteria to make a healthy person sick. One bacterium is about 0.002 centimeters long, so a small amount of food can be easily contaminated with that amount. Children are more susceptible to complications from this type of infection because their immune systems are still developing.
It is impossible to completely prevent cross-contamination from bacteria, no matter how well a person follows food safety and hygiene rules, which is why foods containing this specific dangerous bacterium are considered adulterated and illegal to sell in the United States.

Plant Linked To Salmonella Outbreak, Lawsuit Violated Food Safety Codes
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/plant-linked-to-salmonella-outbreak-lawsuit-violated-food-safety-codes/
By Carla Gillespie (June 01,2012)
The Diamond Pet Food facility linked to 10 ongoing dog food recalls,  a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened 15 people in nine states, and a lawsuit filed earlier this week was in violation of several food safety codes during a recent inspection, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
During an April 2012 inspection of the Diamond plant in Gaston, S.C.,  FDA officials found  several problems with the company’s food safety practices including:
No microbiological analysis was conducted to make sure that incoming animal fat was not introducing pathogens to the  finished product.
The sampling procedure did not preclude potential for contamination after sampling or during storage at the warehouse.
Lack of hand washing facilities at needed locations.
Poorly maintained equipment that may provide harbor for bacteria.
Improper repairs to equipment that prevented them form being cleaned or sanitized.
Since April 6, 2012 the same plant has been linked to 10 dog food recalls for possible Salmonella contamination including:
Diamond Naturals Lamb and Rice in 6 lb, 20lb and 40 lb bags with best before dates of Jan. 3 and Jan. 4 2013
Chicken Soup For The Pet Lover’s Soul Adult Light Formula in 6 lb and 35 lb bags with best before dates of Jan. 27 and 28 2013.
Diamond Puppy Formula in 6 oz, 8 lb, 20 lb and 40 lb bags with various production codes and best before dates.
Natural Balance in various varieties and sizes.
Apex Chicken and Rice Dog Food in 20 lb and 40 lb bags with best before ates of Jan. 24, 2013.
Expansion of Diamond  recall to include: Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul, Country Value, Diamond, Diamond Naturals, Premium Edge, Professional, 4Health and Taste of the Wild in various varieties and sizes with best before dates of e December 9, 2012 through April 7, 2013.
Canidae Dog Food in various formulas and sizes with best before dates of Dec. 9, 2012, through January 31, 2013.
Wellpet for Wellness Complete Health,  Super5Mix and Large Breed Puppy in 15 lb. and 30 lb. bags and 5 oz. sample bags with best by dates of Jan. 9 2013 through Jan. 11 2013.
Solid Gold Health Products for WolfCub Large Breed Puppy Food, in 4 lb, 15 lb, and 33 lb, with best before date of Dec. 30, 2012 and Large Breed Adult Dog Food, 4 lb, 15 lb, and 28.5 lb bags with a best before date of Dec. 30, 2012.
Another Diamond recall expansion to include Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Dog Lamb & Rice Formula. in sample sizes, 6 pound and 18 pound bags with various production codes and best before dates.
The tainted pet food can sicken humans who handle it or come into contact with surfaces it has touched, according to the recall information on the FDA website. So far, 15 people in nine states have contracted Salmonella infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) including one infant whose family filed suit against the company earlier this week.

Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella Infections Linked to Chicks and Ducks
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/multistate-outbreak-of-human-salmonella-infections-linked-to-chicks-and-ducks/
By Linda Larsen (May 31, 2012)
The CDC is reporting an outbreak of human Salmonella infections linked to live poultry. Outbreak strains of Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport, and Salmonella Lille have sickened 93 people in 23 states. Eighteen people have been hospitalized, and there has been one death that may be related to the outbreak and is under investigation. The outbreak began in February 2012.
Case counts are as follows:
¡áAlabama (3)
¡áGeorgia (3)
¡áIllinois (1)
¡áIndiana (2)
¡áKentucky (4)
¡áLouisiana (1)
¡áMassachusetts (1)
¡áMaryland (1)
¡áMaine (2)
¡áMichigan (1)
¡áNebraska (1)
¡áNew Jersey (1)
¡áNorth Carolina (9)
¡áNew York (13)
¡á Ohio (26)
¡áPennsylvania (9)
¡áRhode Island (1)
¡áSouth Carolina (1)
¡áTennessee (4)
¡áTexas (1)
¡áVirginia (6)
¡áVermont (1)
¡áWest Virginia (1)
The government says that 37% of the patients are children 10 years of age or younger. Patients range in age from less than one year old to 100 years old. Fifty-one percent of the patients are female.
Investigators have identified one mail-order hatchery in Ohio as the source of the birds, but they are not naming that facility. This is the same facility that was associated with the 2011 outbreak of Salmonella Altona and Salmonella Johannesburg infections in 2011. That year, the Ohio Department of Health identified that hatchery as Mt. Healthy Hatchery.
Stores that sell live poultry, including mail-order hatcheries and agricultural feed stores, should give health information to purchasers before they receive the chicks and ducks, including information about the risk of getting Salmonella from birds.
The bacteria can be on the bird’s bodies, feathers, feet, and beaks, and can get into cages, coops, hay, plants, and soil where the birds live. Don’t let the birds live in the house and be sure to keep them out of indoor and outdoor kitchens. Food Poisoning Bulletin reported earlier this year that it is not a good idea to give baby chicks and ducks as presents to children.
Authorities recommend that people should always wash their hands well with soap and water after touching live birds or anything in their living areas. Young children are especially vulnerable to this type of infection because the baby birds are so cute. Children should be supervised when handling the birds, and children under the age of 5 should not be allowed to touch live poultry. These animals can be carriers of Salmonella without showing any signs of illness. The government has other recommendations consumers should follow.
The government’s epi curve suggests that there will be several more cases reported, as those sickened after May 6, 2012 are not included in this report.

New Salmonella Strain Linked To Diamond Dog Food, Lawsuit Filed
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/new-salmonella-strain-linked-to-diamond-do-food-lawsuit-filed/
By Carla Gillespie ( May 30, 2012)
A second strain of Salmonella has been linked to Diamond Dog Food, the source of a Salmonella Infantis outbreak that has sickened 15 people in nine states over the last seven months, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The FDA has been collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the investigation into the outbreak since the beginning of April when it discovered Salmonella Infantis, the rare outbreak strain, in an unopened package of Diamond Naturals Lamb and Rice Formula for Adult Dogs and prompted a recall by the company.
Using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, or PFGE, public health investigators were able to identify the DNA “fingerprints” of Salmonella bacteria and determine that the strain in the dog food was a genetic match to the one that sickened victims of the outbreak. Since then, there have been a string of related dog food recalls.
National food safety law firm Pritzker Olsen filed what may be the first lawsuit against Diamond Pet Food Processors and Costco Wholesale Corp. in connection with the outbreak this week. The suit (case number 3:12-CV-03127-JAP-LHG) was filed this week in U.S. District Court in New Jersey on behalf of an infant who was hospitalized for three days after contracting salmonellosis from the outbreak strain. The infectious dose for Salmonella  is very small, especially for children. So, once it is introduced into the home environment, it poses a very significant risk no matter how carefully the tainted food is handled.
Meanwhile, test results on a sample of Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Lamb and Rice collected  from a Diamond Pet Foods facility in Meta, MO are positive for a second strain of Salmonella  called Salmonella Liverpool. Diamond has issued a recall for this product and health officials analyzing data  to determine if the outbreak or recall needs to be expanded.

LSU researcher hopes to forecast potential virus outbreak in oysters

Source : http://www.nola.com/environment/index.ssf/2012/05/lsu_researcher_hopes_to_foreca.html?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed
By The Associated Press (May 30, 2012)
Weather data, satellite imagery and computer modeling could provide tools to forecast a norovirus outbreak in oysters in the Gulf of Mexico, an LSU researcher says.
LSU associate professor Zhiqiang Deng is working on a computer model that obtains information from the state Department of Health and Hospitals, weather and satellite images from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and information from other federal agencies.
The Advocate reports the goal is to spot conditions that contribute to the formation of norovirus outbreaks along the coast and try to forecast where they will occur.
Norovirus can cause a "stomach flu-like" illness that usually starts about a day or two after eating or drinking something with the virus. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping, and sometimes people have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle ache and fatigue, according to health officials. Symptoms can last a day or two.
The norovirus can contaminate oysters, which happens mostly in winter months. Heavy rains that wash fecal coliform into the water or boaters who dump fecal matter overboard can lead to the norovirus forming in the water. That virus can then be passed to feeding oysters and transferred to humans when eaten.
Deng said he hopes a forecast model would help regulators predict where and when an outbreak might occur so officials could prevent consumption of oysters from such areas instead of waiting until people get sick.
The project started in 2010 after a spring in which there were three norovirus outbreaks that left 39 people ill, Deng said.
"Because of that outbreak, we realized oyster contamination was something that needs to be addressed," he said.
Currently, the state health department currently tests oyster areas along the coast for the norovirus, but that process takes time and money, Deng said. His hope, he said, is that this forecast model could narrow the areas where conditions for norovirus exist.
Deng and his research team applied for a NASA public health program grant and received $400,000 for a two-year project to develop the model, he said.
The project looks at what factors trigger the contamination, how the different factors combine to create a contaminated area then monitors near real-time changes in the environmental factors.
"The model can predict changes in bacterial levels," Deng said.
Currently, the model just looks at the oyster areas around the Mississippi River, but it could be expanded in the future to include other areas, he said.

Colorado's listeria outbreak and food safety reform
Source : http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_20702213/guest-commentary-colorados-listeria-outbreak-and-food-safety
By Mel Knight (May 25, 2012)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 2011 Colorado listeria outbreak linked to contaminated cantaloupes was officially the deadliest foodborne illness outbreak in the U.S since 1924, with 146 people infected in 28 states, resulting in 30 deaths and one miscarriage. A bipartisan report released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee concluded that the outbreak was preventable had the producer utilized better sanitation standards.
The CDC estimates that each year roughly one in six Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. These cases are largely preventable. There is much evidence that the education, inspection, and enforcement activities by environmental health programs are effective in reducing the number of foodborne illness outbreaks.
Recognizing the risks of foodborne disease, Congress passed the most sweeping reform to food safety laws in nearly a century in 2011 — the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The FSMA's aim is to ensure that the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from response to prevention. The unfortunate reality is that FSMA and nearly all food safety programs at all government levels are woefully under-funded to provide the protection that the public deserves. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) FY 2012 budget for food safety was cut by nearly $90 million. At the same time a survey by the National Environmental Health Association has documented devastating nationwide food safety program staffing and resource reductions at state and local government levels.
Modern environmental health and protection laws are required to be based on sound science. Food codes must demonstrate evidence of their ability to be protective of the public's health and the environment. Besides laws and codes, self-regulation is also an essential component to public protection, but is generally driven by liability avoidance. In the case of the Colorado listeria outbreak, a contracted third-party auditor gave the produce shipper a positive 96 percent score just before contaminated melons were shipped. With a concern for conflict of interest, truly neutral audits by parties with the authority to require corrective actions are also required, and these functions are best fulfilled by governmental agencies.
The regulatory process obviously imposes costs on the food industry. These costs for the food industry may be in the form of fees or fines, as well as the costs associated with meeting requirements such as training or equipment. In California, environmental health programs frequently recover their program costs by way of permit fees paid by the food operator rather than taxation of the general public. While these fees can be substantial sums, they are a miniscule portion of the cost of running a retail food establishment. The cost of a fully implemented retail food safety regulatory program adds, on average, only a fraction of one cent per consumer meal. A transition from taxation to fee support appears to be a logical direction for the future funding of food safety programs.
While no one enjoys extra costs and scrutiny, it has been my experience that most responsible businesses accept the need for regulatory programs. In California, the Buca di Beppo restaurant chain prominently displays a neon sign that proclaims, "INSPECTED BY THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT." Many businesses want customers assured that they are operating in compliance with good practices.
Environmental health and protection continues to be valued by the general public. Nationwide surveys by Hart Research Associates and Public Opinion Strategies confirm high levels of public concern for food security and near universal support for strong food safety regulation. The President's 2013 budget is seeking a 17 percent increase for FDA's FY 2013 budget. This increase would come mainly from increased industry fees, which is a practical model for sustaining food safety programs. However, it is anticipated that the fee proposal will face congressional opposition.
The continuing poor economy has understandably raised concerns about costs, but Georgetown University's Produce Safety Project reports that foodborne illness has a public cost in the U.S. of $152 billion each year. Less than a penny per meal for food safety would seem to produce an excellent return on investment. Can we really afford to not invest in food safety programs when the upfront cost is less than the price foodborne illness is costing the American public? Urge your elected officials to support food safety initiatives and funding.
Mel Knight, Registered Environmental Health Specialist , is president of the National Environmental Health Association, a Denver-based organization. He has nearly 40 years of experience as a public and environmental health official.