Contact us/ Search Consulting room/
Internet Journal of Food Safety/ On-Line Courese/ Discussion Room

3/3, 2003






12:00 - 27 February 2003 Just how rare can you cook a steak?
Researchers have developed genetically modified bacteria that glows in the dark to answer that very question.
Scientists at the University of Nottingham have been given 2,193 from the Meat and Livestock Commission to carry out the research.In a less than appetising experiment, the team of experts will coat chunks of raw beef in the GM bacteria before cooking them at different temperatures and lengths of time.Then they can look through a special camera that picks up any glowing bacteria left after cooking.The findings will be used to compile guidelines for the food industry on how long steak should be cooked to eliminate bacteria that causes food poisoning.It aims to tackle bugs such as listeria, salmonella and E.coli O157.Dr Christine Dodd, from the division of food sciences at the university's Sutton Bonington campus, said: "We have been given a set of specific conditions to test the steaks."There are currently no guidelines available on how to cook steaks and it is left up to chefs to decide how long to cook the meat."She added: "When beefsteaks are cut, the meat inside the steak is naturally sterile and it doesn't contain harmful bacteria. "The areas at risk from food poisoning bugs are the outside areas of the steak which have been exposed. "Therefore, ensuring that the outer surface of the steak is properly cooked should eradicate any risk to health." There has been growing concern in catering that undercooked steak can cause food poisoning. The university said some restaurants already ask customers to sign a disclaimer form before eating any rare meat.
However, scientists belive that the issue is linked more to cooking procedures and hygiene, rather than the meat itself.

New Sponsor

February 2003
Eurosurveillance Monthly Volume 8 issue 2 29-31
S.J. O'Brien1, H. de Valk2 Editorial
1. Gastrointestinal Diseases Division, PHLS Communicable Disease
Surveillance Centre, London, United Kingdom
2. Foodborne and Enteric Diseases Division, Infections Dis. Dpt, Institut de
Veille Sanitaire, Saint-Maurice, France
Following the events of 11 September 2001, the ensuing spectre of bioterrorism and considerable efforts planning for the unthinkable (1), this Eurosurveillance issue reminds us of the continuing threat to public health from well-recognised pathogens, sometimes mistakenly judged to be
controlled. Recently the incidence of salmonellosis has decreased substantially across the European Union, the number of cases reported to Enternet (2) declining from 100 267 in the peak year of 1997 to 73 006 in 2001 (I.S.T. Fisher - personal communication). However, recent events and the following articles illustrate continued challenges in salmonella control.
Challenges in salmonella control The first is the widespread distribution of food. Contaminated food produced in one country may cause illness far away, demonstrating the importance of
robust national control programmes. In The Netherlands, a substantial increase in Salmonella enterica serovar Java infection in poultry (3) had no impact on human health, the consequences probably being felt in Scotland instead (4), where clinical isolates exhibited pulsed field gelelectrophoresis (PFGE) profiles indistinguishable from poultry isolates from Germany and the Netherlands. In England and Wales, S. Enteritidis fell by over 50% between 1997 and 2000, probably partly due to vaccination of poultry flocks (5). However, during several recent investigations of outbreaks of S. Enteritidis, affecting nearly 1000 people, contaminated Spanish eggs were found (6). In a study of clinical cases of salmonellosis in northern Spain, S. Enteritidis overwhelmingly predominated (7). Spain has continued to report high rates of salmonella infection, bucking the recent overall downward trend (7). The second challenge is traceability. The complexity of the food supply chains and/or the lack of identifying markers on foods can make it extremely difficult to trace back to their origin. Yet food hazard warnings and
product withdrawal depend on accurate identification of suspect products. In the Scottish investigation of S. Java, only one of 14 imported poultry isolates could definitely be identified as having originated in poultry meat imported from the Netherlands (4).
The third is antimicrobial resistance. Over the last decade, strains of S. enterica with multiple drug resistance have been distributed widely in many European countries, in particular multi-resistant clones of S. Typhimurium DT104 and 204b. In 2000, 40% of 27 059 clinical isolates of Salmonella
tested were resistant to at least one antimicrobial, with 18% exhibitingmultiple resistance (to four or more antimicrobial agents) (8). New threats are appearing. The emergence of multi-resistant S. Newport infection in north America in both cattle and humans is having major public health consequences (9). To contain this organism, it is essential to maintain continued vigilance, including rapid identification of similar strains and, should they emerge in Europe, immediate sharing of information
within the public health community. Sound national surveillance programmes and cooperation with Enter-net provide robust mechanisms for doing so. The fourth is capacity building. One objective of the Salm-gene project is to enhance outbreak detection through routinely subtyping certain salmonellas using molecular methods (10). This in itself poses questions. What is the epidemiological significance of these clusters? One lesson from PulseNet in the United States has been the expanding need for epidemiological assessment of molecular clusters (11). Is there currently sufficient capacity within each European country to subtype a significant number of strains, and to follow up such clusters with the necessary epidemiological investigations to identify food vehicles and sources? The
success of this strategy will depend on the commitment of individual Member States to invest in and apply molecular methods combined with field epidemiology, and on the
collaboration with international projects such as Salm-gene.
What is needed So what is required to combat the continuing challenges posed by Salmonella? The first is the continuous development of existing surveillance mechanisms. Without national and European surveillance, including harmonisation of
microbiological methods and high quality epidemiological enquiry, the intricacies of the sources, spread and impact of salmonellosis in Europe would remain elusive. The second is ensuring that sufficient epidemiological expertise is available to make use of advances in molecular microbiology and keep pace
with a rapidly developing field. This requires national investment in field epidemiology training programmes as well as retaining within Europe the cadre of field epidemiologists being trained through the European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training (EPIET) (12). Without the ability for rapid epidemiological assessments of molecular clusters, opportunities for prevention might be lost. Last but not least is a fully integrated public health approach. The progress made by Enter-net in bringing together microbiologists and epidemiologists working on human disease is very welcome. Integration of expertise from food scientists and veterinarians is now needed to improve the identification of, and response to, new problems. Ensuring that we have paid close attention in getting these basic principles right is also our insurance policy against bioterrorism.
1. Byrne D. Bioterrorism: Crime and opportunity. Eurosurveillance 2001;6:157-8.
2. Fisher IST. The Enter-net international surveillance network - how it works. Eurosurveillance 1999; 4:52-5.
3. Van Pelt W, Van der Zee H, Wannet WJB et al. Explosive increase ofSalmonella Java in poultry in the Netherlands: consequences for public health. Eurosurveillance 2003;8:31-5
4. Brown DJ, Mather H, Browing LM, Coia JE. Investigation of human infections with Salmonella enterica serovar Java in Scotland and possible association with imported poultry. Eurosurveillance 2003;8:35-40
5. Ward LR, Threlfall J, Smith HR, O'Brien SJ. Salmonella enteritidis epidemic. Science 2000; 287: 1753-4.
6. O'Brien S, Mitchell M, Ward L. Upsurge in Salmonella Enteritidis outbreaks in England and Wales, September to November 2002. Eurosurveillance Weekly 2002;6:021205
7. Marimon JM, Perrez-Trallero E, Gomariz M, Rodriguez-Andres C, Lopez-Lopategui C. Salmonella enterica infections in Gipuzkoa, Spain: an 18 year study. Eurosurveillance 2003;8:50-54
8. Threlfall EJ, Fisher IST, Berghold C et al. Antimicrobial drug
resistance in isolates of Salmonella enterica from cases of salmonellosis in humans in Europe 2000: results of international multi-centre surveillance. Eurosurveillance 2003;8:41-5
9. Zansky S, Wallace B, Schoonmaker-Bopp D, Smith P, Ramsey F, Painter J, Gupta A, Kalluri P, Noviello S. From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outbreak of multi-drug resistant Salmonella Newport-United States, January-April 2002. JAMA 2002;288:951-3.
10. Peters TM, Maguire C, Threlfall EJ, Fisher IST, Gill N, Gatto AJ. TheSalm-gene project - a European collaboration for DNA
fingerprinting for food-related salmonellosis. Eurosurveillance 2003;8:46-50
11. Swaminathan B, Barrett TJ, Hunter SB, Tauxe RV, and the PulseNet Task Force. PulseNet: The molecular sudtyping network for foodborne bacterial disease surveillance, United States. Emerg Infect Dis 2001; 7:382-9.
12. Van Loock F, Rowland M, Grein T, Moren A. Intervention epidemiology training: a European perspective. Eurosurveillance 2001;6:37-43.

February 27, 2003
Sky News
Scientists are, according to this story, working to find a definitive safe cooking time for rare meat.
Researchers have been funded by the Meat and Livestock Commission to produce guidelines for the catering industry following fears about food poisoning caused by the undercooking of steaks. The 2,193 project, being conducted at the University of Nottingham, aims to discover an optimum cooking time and temperature to kill off harmful bacteria. A university spokesman was quoted as saying, "There has been growing concern
within the industry that undercooked steak could harbour harmful
food-poisoning bacteria such as E.coli O157, salmonella and listeria. "Some restaurants ask customers who request rare meat to sign a disclaimer form before eating. "However, scientists believe that the issue of safety is linked to cooking
procedures and hygiene, rather than the meat itself."
The research team will cook cuts of meat covered with genetically modified luminous E.coli bugs, which stop glowing when they die. By exposing the treated steaks to various levels of heat and cooking times, the scientists will assess which combination most successfully kills off the bacteria.

Poultry feed eyed as root of illnesses
source from:
SALISBURY, Md. (AP) ?Chicken feed could be health hazardous, and a Johns Hopkins professor studying antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the local poultry industry is recruiting poultry workers to find out. A study in July 2001 found a bacterium called Campylobacter jejuni, common in some farm animals, in the intestines of poultry workers. Researchers want to learn how a strain of the antibiotic-resistant bacteria got there.
At a recent community meeting at Salisbury University, Ellen Silbergeld, a professor of environmental health sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said about 300 people from the local community would be recruited.
"We found that workers who handle live chickens were at risk, more likely to be exposed to bacteria from poultry," Miss Silbergeld told an audience of about 30 people. "We want to enroll more people; [chickens] might be the root of exposure, and we might be able to protect against it."
Researchers hope new evidence puts them closer to understanding why poultry workers across Delmarva can't shake flulike illnesses. The bacteria are resistant to common antibiotics, such as penicillin and tetracycline, Miss Silbergeld told the audience. She said antibiotics mixed in chicken feed might be a contributor. Miss Silbergeld also said a gene chip being developed will be able to trace the potential spread of the bacteria. Her study is focused on poultry workers and community members who live near poultry farms in Pocomoke City and Georgetown. She took up the research after hearing that chicken growers, catchers and live-chicken hangers suffered with persistent flulike symptoms.
She said industry leaders could help research efforts by providing information regarding specific antibiotics being used in chicken feed.

Florida: Shigella Disease Infecting Local Students Dateline: February 27, 2003 -
source from:
Charlotte County : Some students at Peace River Elementary School have contracted an illness. The 3 students have Shigella, a bacterial disease that causes severe diarrhea, vomiting and fevers. School officials say parents will receive notices Thursday. The Health Department is asking parents, to make sure children wash their hands frequently, to stop the spread of the disease. Bob Vincent is with the Charlotte County Health Department, he says, "We don't think it's food borne, we don't think it's in the water. More likely, it's being transmitted between the kids." The Health Department also says there are 3 other students in the Desoto County School District who also have the disease.

Poisoning suspected at college canteen
source from:
Police are investigating whether canteen food at a college where several students fell ill was deliberately contaminated. A number of students at the Scottish School of Forestry, near Inverness, have been taken to hospital after they felt dizzy and sick after eating a curry. The students were discharged from hospital a short time later following the incident.A complaint alleging that some food may have been deliberately contaminated has been passed from the college to the police who said a toxicology examination of food was currently taking place.Test results are not expected to be known for a few days. The students at the school, which is part of Inverness College, had been taken to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness by ambulance.

Current JOB Openings
3/03 Food Science Marketing Manager
3/03 Quality Control Tech to $23k+ - Nutritional
3/02 Los Angeles-Production Supervisor
3/01 Technologist, Quality Assurance

2/28 Research Specialist-Food Technologist (Sunkist Growers Inc.)
2/28 Quality Control Manager
2/28 Miami-QA Scientist -
2/28 Quality Assurance Manager-Food
2/28 Plant Manager -

2/27 Quality Assurance Manager (Pepperidge Farm, Inc.)
2/27 Microbiology Lab Manager
2/27 Executive Chef (Nestle) -
2/27 R&D Dairy Microbiologist
2/27 Food Microbiologist (Aerotek Scientific)

Current Outbreak
02/28. Florida: Shigella Disease Infecting Local Students
02/28. Seven 'poisoned with cannabis'
02/28. Police probe food poisoning
02/27. Poisoning suspected at college canteen
02/27. Her toughest race: A star athlete battles back from deadly f
02/27. Six children contract Shigella Sonneii

City scientists find source of E-coli bug
SCIENTISTS at Edinburgh University have identified the source of the potentially fatal E-coli 0157 bacterium in cattle for the first time, it was announced today. It is hoped the discovery will eventually help to remove the organism from the food chain. E-coli is common in cattle and sheep and is spread to humans either by direct or indirect contact with animal faeces. Until now it was not known where the bug colonised in the gastrointestinal tract of cattle. But veterinary microbiologists at Edinburgh University have found the majority of the bacteria can be found just inside the animal¡¯s rectum. The breakthrough came after the discovery of a different cell type lining the gastrointestinal tract. Dr David Gally, one of the scientists involved in the research project, said there was now a strong possibility the presence of E-coli could be "eradicated" from the food chain. "This knowledge gives us the potential to identify, control and ultimately eradicate E-coli 0157 in the minority of livestock that are carriers of the bacterium," he said. Dr Gally added: "Faecal contamination was known as the principal cause of infection in humans and abattoirs have already introduced practices to minimise the risk of contaminating carcasses. "This new discovery will permit additional risk management procedures and should lead quite quickly to both direct interventions and more sophisticated controls, such as vaccines."University scientists are now attempting to uncover the molecular nature of the cell type and why it interacts at this particular region in cattle with E-coli 0157. The team believes the interaction between cattle and the bacterium will have important implications for vaccine development. It is now working with a major pharmaceutical company to develop materials to eliminate the E-coli 0157 bacterium from the food chain. The collaborative research programme also involves the Scottish Agriculture College, the Moredun Research Institute and the US-based Washington State (Pullman) University. The work in Edinburgh is being funded by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In humans, E-coli causes severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhoea and can lead to severe kidney damage in young children. It is potentially fatal among the very young and elderly.In 1996, 21 pensioners died following the world¡¯s worst ever recorded outbreak of E-coli 0157 in Wishaw, Lanarkshire. It led to demands for better hygiene and food safety standards. Scientists published a report in 2001 advising the public on how to avoid picking up the E-coli 0157 bug after a increasing number of high-profile cases of infection.The E-coli Task Force, set up by the Food Standards Agency, outlined food safety and environmental advice designed to protect people from the bacterium.The group was established after evidence linked E-coli 0157 to environmental sources and human contact with animals, as well as contaminated food and was led by Professor Bill Reilly of the Scottish Centre for Infection and Environmental Health. Among the advice issued was that people should not camp in fields recently used by livestock. It recommended that children especially should not use farm fields until several weeks after animals have left. The warning came after 13 girl guides and their leader had contracted E-coli 0157 after camping in a field in Inverclyde. A scout camp in Aberdeenshire also saw 18 children infected after camping in fields. Approximately 250 people in Scotland are infected with E-coli every year.

Current Food Recall
02/28. Allied Import Inc. Recalls Chinese Candy Due to Undeclared Sulfites
02/27. Kushishang Brand Dried Potato and Hong Fu Brand Dried Potato Slice Recalled
02/27. BCN Trading Inc. Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Sulfites in Sweet Winter Melon
02/26. Undeclared shrimp, cuttlefish, sesame seeds, soy protein and wheat in KASUGAI
02/25. B & B International Connections, Inc. Recalls Imported Russian Milk
02/24. Quaker Oats says recalls cereal

Current USDA/FDA News
Food Additives Permitted for Direct Addition to Food for Human Consumption; Vitamin D3
Acrylamide Questions & Answers
Exploratory Data on Acrylamide in Foods
OPPD (Policy) What's New Page: Updated February 26, 2003
Speeches Page: Updated February 27, 2003
U.S. Codex Office "What's New" Page: Updated February 26, 2003

Current Food Safety News
02/28. Public Citizen renews push for irradiation moratorium
02/28. Burn the cookies at your peril
02/28. GM FOOD - Agriculture Council meeting - Authorisation of new
02/28. Tasmania bans GM crops until 2008 -
02/28. Ireland: Four new cases of BSE reported this week
02/28. Spread of CJD slows but threat remains
02/28. Final report confirms previously published figures on bacter

02/27. PORTUGAL: Nitrofuran found in Portuguese poultry
02/27. Gene-spliced produce is on the way
02/27. Poultry feed eyed as root of illnesses
02/27. Doctor traces additive damage
02/27. Change Needed to US Food Safety Plan
02/27. Toddlers at risk from pesticides
02/27. Runoff prompts shell-fishing limits
02/27. If you use manure in your garden, take precautions


February 27, 2003
Georgia Institute Of Technology
Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have developed a better-performing, less costly method of disinfecting water used in food processing. Like current technologies, the new Advanced Disinfection
Technology System relies on ultraviolet (UV) radiation to eliminate molds, viruses and bacteria. But the new system handles water more efficiently and thus improves the overall effectiveness of the disinfection process, researchers reported. "We're creating a mixing pattern to ensure that every particle of water is equally exposed to the (UV) lamp," said John Pierson, a senior research engineer at the Georgia Tech Research Institute and co-principal
investigator. "By doing a better job of mixing the water, you get better disinfection." Federal regulations require the disinfection of water used in food processing before it can be reused. In many cases, the lack of cost-effective disinfection means water is used only once and then discarded. When a disinfection system is used, the process is not always effective. Most existing systems pump water through pipes lined with dozens of UV lamps. The lamps tend to foul quickly, reducing their ffectiveness and requiring ongoing cleaning and replacement. More important, UV light has little penetrating power -- just about an inch -- so used water must be run
through long pipes to increase the likelihood that UV light will contact enough of the liquid to affect the microorganisms it carries. "Water right up against the lamp gets treated, and water farther away gets
treated less -- or maybe not treated at all," explained Pierson, who is collaborating on the advanced disinfection system with Larry Forney, project
director and an associate professor of chemical engineering at Georgia Tech. The heart of the new advanced system is a pair of cylinders, one inside the other. The smaller cylinder rotates inside the stationary outer cylinder while water is pumped through the gap separating the two. Inside the gap, the cylinder rotation causes water to churn and tumble in a well-documented phenomenon called a Taylor vortex. It's actually a number of vortices, which mix water with light shining from four UV lamps embedded in the outside cylinder wall. UV light penetrates the water thoroughly, so no additional cycles through the system are necessary. Fewer UV lights are required compared to conventional systems, thus saving energy. "Even if the fluid absorbs radiation, which would normally limit light
penetration and thus the effectiveness of conventional UV reactors, the vortex motion in the new design continuously exposes fresh fluid to the radiation surface," Forney explained. "You bring the fluid in contact with just a few lamps in a repetitive basis."
The vortex motion also keeps the lamps free of material buildup. The device is mechanically simple. Its low rate of revolution -- about one cycle per
second -- means no bearings or special seals are required, Forney added. The process was designed for recycling water from fruit and vegetable
washing at food-processing plants, but it could be applied in other industrial processes. "We think it could be useful for a number of water-treatment situations ranging from storm-water runoff to bottle washing to certain industrial-process water recycling applications," Pierson said. "It fits any application where you could use disinfected water rather than
potable water, which would cut down on water use generally and conserve potable water in particular."
The disinfection process developed by Forney and Pierson may find uses far beyond the project's original scope. Virtually anything that flows can run through the system, allowing for applications in the soft drink industry, brewing, dairy products and fruit juice processing. It would work for any kind of
fluid for which there are concerns about the existence of pathogens, Forney explained. A non-thermal procedure, it could even supplant pasteurization,
which is expensive, changes the taste and consumes a lot of energy, he added. A variation of the device could even be developed for swimming pools as a non-chemical alternative to keeping water germ-free."If you were able to pass pool water through a UV reactor successfully, it would feel like normal water," Forney said. "It would have no taste and wouldn't be irritating to your mouth, eyes and lungs." Preliminary work with the new lab-scale UV disinfection device shows a reduction in the concentration of viable pathogens by a factor of more than 200, compared to existing technology with the same UV dosage, according to Carolyn Goodridge, a visiting postdoctoral fellow and member of the research team. "We're also beginning to work with certain kinds of fluids, such as fruit juices, that
absorb lots of radiation to see what effect our device has on the inactivation of pathogens in that kind of environment," Forney added.