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2/18, 2003






Ozone gas may provide eco-friendly alternative for grain storage
Scientists at the Purdue University in the US have discovered that ozone gas can eliminate insects in grain storage facilities without harming food quality or the environment.

Ironically, the gas is being touted as a fumigant alternative in response to an international treaty banning the use of ozone-layer harming chemicals currently used to rid food storage facilities of insects. When ozone is used for killing grain insects, it lasts for a very short period of time without damaging the environment or the grain, the Purdue scientists report in the January issue of the Journal of Stored Products Research.

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Woman gets allergic shellfish reaction from kiss
Washington - Here's a tale to dampen Valentine's Day passions: sometimes a kiss is not just a kiss, if you have food allergies.A 20-year-old woman with shellfish allergies went into severe anaphylactic shock after kissing her boyfriend, who had just eaten a few shrimp, doctors reported on Friday.
"It is important to warn susceptible patients that food does not actually have to be eaten to trigger an allergic reaction," Dr. David Steensma of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota said in a statement.
"Touching the offending food and kissing or touching someone who has recently eaten the food can be enough to cause a major reaction."
Writing in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Steensma and colleagues reported that the woman had a severe reaction--her throat swelled up and she had cramps and nausea. A quick trip to the emergency room saved her life.
Both the woman and her boyfriend worked at a seafood restaurant, and Steensma said the patient may have sensitized herself to the shellfish by repeatedly touching it. -- Reuters

Science beats peanut allergy
THE threat of peanut allergies could soon be wiped out by genetic engineering.
Scientists from the University of Arkansas in the US have succeeded, in laboratory tests, in altering the makeup of the peanut so it no longer triggers a life-threatening reaction. The safe peanuts are part of a new generation of allergy-free food being produced by several international scientific teams. Others being developed include shellfish, prawns and soya beans. Almost one in every 30 children is now thought to suffer from peanut allergy, which can cause swelling of the tongue, wheezing and difficulty in breathing. In the worst cases, the allergy can be fatal.

Controlling Listeria
FSIS releases draft risk assessment for listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat meat and poultry products.
Studies by the US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) have found that a combination of food safety measures is the best way to control Listeria monocytogenes.
FSIS has released a draft risk assessment for Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat meat and poultry products. The draft risk assessment will be the subject of a public meeting on 26 February in Washington.
Using the model, FSIS discovered that a combination of testing, sanitation and interventions yielded greater benefits than any one strategy alone.
The risk assessment also demonstrated that the use of intervention steps, such as post-packaging pasteurisation or the introduction of growth inhibitors, showed dramatic public health benefits, FSIS said.
FSIS conducted the risk assessment to develop information on the following: the relationship between the prevalence and level of generic Listeria on food contact surfaces and the prevalence and level of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat meat and poultry products; the public health impact of different concentrations of Listeria monocytogenes in product; and the ability of testing programmes, sanitation processes and intervention steps to mitigate the public health risk associated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Diagnosis: Food Infections as Stealth Killers
eaths from food-related infections appear to be more common than standard estimates indicate, according to a new study that found higher mortality rates among victims up to a year after the time of infection. The study, published on Saturday in BMJ, the journal of the British Medical Association, tracked about 50,000 people who reported gastrointestinal infections and compared them with almost 500,000 people who did not. The study's senior author, Dr. Kare Molbak of the Danish Epidemiology Science Center in Copenhagen, said that current mortality estimates were based on the numbers of deaths recorded during the acute illnesses accompanying the infections.But his group found that infected people had more than double the risk of death over the course of a year, even after the results were adjusted to take into account other existing illnesses.Dr. Molbak said the data could not reveal the causes of death. But he said other studies had shown that these infections shigella, campylobacter, yersinia enterocolitica and salmonella could cause a variety of complications, including dehydration, unnecessary surgery when abdominal pain was misdiagnosed and the spread of the infection through the bloodstream. "Nearly all of these complications are treatable if patients seek early medical attention," Dr. Molbak said. "Patients who think that they have got a severe foodborne infection should seek medical treatment."

Study: Foodborne Illnesses Deadlier Than Thought
By Amanda Gardner
HealthScoutNews Reporter
THURSDAY, Feb. 13 (HealthScoutNews) -- More people may be dying of foodborne illnesses than originally thought, says a new study.
Infections with several different bacteria were associated not only with increases in the short-term risk of death, but also with longer-term risks of up to one year. "It's possible that those people who get foodborne infections are also people with severe underlying illness or who have a generally poor health status than most people, but we accounted for this problem and we still observed this excess mortality," says Dr. Kare MİŞlbak, the senior author of the study and a senior medical officer with the department of epidemiology at Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark."To our surprise, for some of the agents, the mortality risk was up to one year after the acute phase of the infection," MİŞlbak adds. The study, which appears in the Feb. 15 issue of the British Medical Journal, comes on the heels of an announcement by U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) that that she was again co-sponsoring the Safe Food Act, which would create a single food-safety department out of the 19 existing U.S. departments and agencies.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web sites) estimates that foodborne diseases cause 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,200 deaths each year. DeLauro, who contracted Salmonella poisoning as a child and was quarantined for two weeks, reports that 6.6 million pounds of potentially contaminated meat were recalled last year. More than 250 foodborne diseases have been described, most of them caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. This study looked specifically at four bacteria -- Salmonella, Campylobacter, Yersinia enterocolitica, and Shigella in 48,857 Danish people. This group was compared with 487,138 controls from the general population. More than half (55.2 percent) of the patients in the foodborne-illness group were infected with Salmonella, one-third (33.1 percent) with Campylobacter, 8.3 percent with Yersinia enterocolitica, and 3.4 percent with Shigella. Each of the four bacteria listed can cause diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever. Most cases resolve on their own but some patients need further care and even hospitalization. As a group, the people with a foodborne bacterial infection had a 3.1 times higher mortality than the controls. In total, 2.2 percent of the people who got gastrointestinal infections from the bacteria died within one year, compared with only 0.7 percent of the controls. The mortality rate among those who contracted a specific strain called Salmonella dublin was 12 times higher than for the controls. For the other types of Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Yersinia enterocolitica, mortality was 1.86 to 2.88 times higher.According to the study authors, the findings are more or less in line with existing fatality records for Yersinia but are higher than those previously reported for Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Shigella. "There are a number of possible explanations," MİŞlbak says. Some of the patients may have had a relapse of the infection, even though it appeared to have cleared. Patients who had surgery may have had complications arising from the procedure."It makes perfect sense to me," says Dr. Philip Tierno, the director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Medical Center and the author of The Secret Life of Germs and Protect Yourself Against Bioterrorism."When you understand how these agents cause disease in an individual, you realize that the lymph system is involved, your immune system obviously is involved. Maybe an allergic reaction might even occur," he says.Dr. James Nataro, a professor of pediatrics, medicine and microbiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, is not so sure."Is it plausible that if you get diarrhea due to one of these organisms that there is an increased risk of death for six months to a year? Yes, it's plausible," he says. "That negative impact could make you susceptible to other unrelated diseases. But are we ready to accept the conclusions based on these data? I think we're very far from it."It's possible that one underlying factor contributed both to the person contracting a foodborne bacteria and later dying, Nataro says.MİŞlbak advises people who think they have a foodborne infection to seek medical attention. He also calls on food producers to use antibiotics sensibly, because the misuse of antibiotics can contribute to bacteria that are resistant to available drugs.


Current Outbreaks
02/17. Science beats peanut allergy
02/16. Woman gets allergic shellfish reaction from kiss
02/15. Summer food bacteria take revenge
02/13. Local pilgrims suffer from food poisoning

Current Food Recall
02/18. Undeclared shrimp, cuttlefish, sesame seeds and soy protein in KASUGAI ROASTED
02/17. CATELLI BROAD NOODLES may contain undeclared egg
02/17. Undeclared walnuts in PROFITEROLES BROWNIES
02/16. USDA Detains Pork Dumplings From South Korea
02/15. California Firm Recalls Cornish Game Hens For Mislabeling

Current USDA/FDA News
Risk Analysis
FSIS Releases Draft Risk Assessment on Listeria
FSIS Constituent Update/Alert: Updated February 14, 2003

FDA Seizes Dietary Supplements
CFSAN's Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling, and Dietary Supplements and Contacts
U.S. Codex Office "What's New" Page: Updated February 11, 2003

Current Food Safety News
02/18. UK Consumers Worry Less About BSE, GM Foods--Survey
02/18. UK: FSA warns of health risk from mercury in tuna
02/18. Germany: Consumer and industry concerns over acrylamide
02/18. Exploring vaccines derived from food
02/18. India: Bottled water: State may make pesticide tests mandato
02/18. Congress OKs millions for CWD
02/18. Microbial forensics: An overview (news briefing and symposiu
02/18. Controlling Listeria
02/18. Diagnosis: Food Infections as Stealth Killers
02/18. Brits worry about other things than food safety

02/17. Research Scientist IV
02/17. Study: Foodborne Illnesses Deadlier Than Thought
02/17. UN fund to boost food safety standards
02/17. Oregano may cut listeria risk - US meat industry
02/17. Citizens advised to be careful about meat preservation, cons
02/16. Food safety concerns decrease as consumers place trust in ag
02/16. Short and long term mortality associated with foodborne bact
02/16. Healthy eating takes over as meat worries decline
02/16. Food-stuffs export to US market to be registered to FDA befo
02/15. Research into Listeria Reduction
02/15. Tuna health risk to pregnant women
02/15. Food safety checks grow
02/15. Wine being studied for use as disinfectant
02/15. Suspect in meat poisoning waives detention hearing

Deadly E. coli tracked by DNA: New process helps connect different cases
February 15, 2003
The Calgary Herald by Allyson Jeffs
Source: CanWest News Service
Alberta public health officials are, according to this story, using DNA analysis to track down the source of potentially fatal food borne illnesses. Jutta Preiksaitis, medical director of the Provincial Lab for Public Health
(Microbiology), was cited as saying that pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) allows scientists at the provincial laboratory to identify a bacteria's DNA fingerprint, adding, "It's similar to what's done in
forensics, to some extent. It isn't like doing a sequence analysis for paternity where they say unequivocally 'this is the father and this is the mother.' In this situation there is a probability that they are from a common source." The story says that Alberta's provincial laboratory began using PFGE to profile E. coli O157:H7 in 1998. The following year, it became the first
provincial lab to join PulseNet, a continent-wide network based at the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga. Linda Chui, Lab Scientist and co-director of the Molecular program at the provincial lab, sends images of a bacteria's fingerprint to linked labs for comparison. If they have identified cases with the same disease-causing bacteria, that information can provide valuable clues for tracking down the source. She also reviews similar e-mail postings from other network labs to see if they are tracing a bug that has sickened Albertans.
Using the Pulsenet system, the Alberta lab helped track the source of a 1999 outbreak associated with unpasteurized E. coli-contaminated orange juice
distributed in several Canadian provinces and U.S. states.

Tomatoes may hold cure for Norwalk: New vaccine holds hope for sufferers
February 16, 2003
The Calgary Herald
Michael Smith
Researchers were cited as saying Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that a Norwalk vaccine
grown in tomatoes and delivered in pills containing freeze-dried tomato juice is now awaiting approval for clinical studies in humans. Geneticist Charles Arntzen of Arizona State University was cited as saying
that if it passes those tests, the main market for the pills would probably be in the developing world, adding, "Norwalk virus in the first world is primarily an inconvenience," especially to young children, who die of
dehydration caused by disease-induced diarrhea.
According to the World Health Organization, 2.5 million children under the age of five die of diarrhea every year in the developing world. But, even in North America, Arntzen said, Norwalk can have serious consequences.
Toronto General Hospital's emergency ward was closed for a week in December while hospital authorities tried to clean up an outbreak of Norwalk.