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4/1, 2003
ISSUE:60

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Is it safe? New rules of survival for the food industry

source from: Robert P. Larson and Jean Davis
Published March 30, 2003 FORU30
http://www.startribune.com/stories/535/3786401.html
Several years ago, an outbreak of a food-borne pathogen named shigella sonnei afflicted people throughout the United States.

The problem appeared, and then reappeared, in restaurants in several states. The culprit turned out to be parsley grown on a farm in Mexico. The contaminated parsley had been distributed to the restaurants, where it was chopped, kept at room temperature, and then spread on food, making some customers sick. Restaurant workers who ate some of the parsley also got sick and cycled the problem back into the restaurants several weeks later. This story illustrates just some of the complexities, challenges and potential liabilities faced by businesses and organizations in the food industry. Who shares in the legal liabilities when contaminated parsley from Mexico makes people in U.S. restaurants sick? Is it the grower, the firm that shipped the parsley, the restaurant that served it, the franchise company that licensed the restaurant, the firm that consulted on the design of the kitchen, or all of the above? Who is entitled to relief? The consumers and workers who were ill? The restaurants that suffered from the publicity? The answers aren't always easy. And they're even tougher if you consider the threat of bioterrorism. Safeguarding against deliberate threats to the food supply requires new ways of thinking and acting for every business involved in the food industry, using approaches and technologies that haven't necessarily been developed yet.
Staying safe
Of course, safety has always been vital to the food industry, but highly publicized outbreaks of food-borne illnesses and the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have resulted in heightened awareness -- and anxiety -- regarding the safety of our food supply.
For businesses and organizations involved in food production, transportation, storage, processing, packaging, and retailing, the risks involve not only the health of their workers and direct or indirect customers, but also the future of their brands and, indeed, their businesses.We know that the pathogens keep adapting, the distribution process evolves, and the consumption patterns change. We can expect, and should plan for, the unexpected, according to Dr. Will Hueston, the first director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Animal Health and Food Safety.
What are the challenges and how can businesses meet them?
New patterns of production and distribution offer one example. Eggs used to be shipped whole to manufacturers, but it became more efficient to send them first to cracking plants where they are cracked and shipped in large containers or even by tanker truck. This makes for more convenient transport, but it means that one egg with salmonella can infect thousands of good eggs. Some tanker trucks were hauling raw eggs one way and loading up with pasteurized ice cream mix for the trip back. Some of the ice cream made people sick. An executive of a large egg producer was meeting with an executive of an international fast-food chain. "Don't worry about salmonella," the egg executive said. 'There's only a one-in-a-million chance of that in our eggs."
"In that case," replied the fast-food executive, "we can expect six lawsuits a day."
Improved quality control methods and training can help companies prevent problems and anticipate new patterns while improved monitoring can give an early warning if the safety system fails.
Companies must understand that when their food workers do not have health insurance and are not paid for sick days, they are likely to work while sick, potentially contaminating the food.
Healthy, well-trained employees are critical to maintaining brand equity and reducing legal liabilities.
Bioterrorism
The prospect of deliberate contamination of the food supply is chilling but no longer unrealistic. Making the food supply less vulnerable to such a threat requires a more comprehensive response from consumers, industry, academia and the government.
The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, while focusing on imported food bioterrorism, is nevertheless an alert to the food industry of some steps that must be taken to limit exposure to terrorist acts targeting food.
For food producers, handlers, distributors and retailers, compliance with applicable laws and regulations is only a starting point. All participants in the food distribution chain are becoming more sophisticated in their purchases. Tracking, accountability and ingredient sourcing are far more important as we feed a nation of diverse cultures and physical sensitivities or vulnerabilities. The food industry can no longer assume that food free of pathogens is the required safety standard. Recent lawsuits attempting to hold fast-food restaurants liable for their customers' obesity have yet to succeed. But not long ago, lawsuits against tobacco companies were considered without merit.The growth of branding is a double-edged sword for the food industry. Few things are more sacred than our food. For companies that deliberately or accidentally break this sacred trust, the brand becomes the identity of all that is profane. We can reasonably predict that some companies will face the challenge of rebuilding consumer confidence after terrorist acts.
Beyond such acts, we can count on naturally occurring pathogens wreaking havoc on brand equity for those management teams that rest on their laurels. Insurance is never the complete answer to chaos in the distribution/consumption cycle of life. Securing adequate insurance and taking steps to reduce or eliminate exposure to both insured events and uninsured events is a daunting task for companies.
The U.S. food industry has made this country the most successful producer of safe, affordable food in the world. But this is not the time to rest on yesterday's accomplishments. New times call for new approaches, and the challenges ahead are daunting. The evolving world of food production and distribution requires vigilance, innovation, education, and a continuing, strong commitment by all for the benefit of the consumer and this wonderful country called America.

Governor restores funding to state botulism program
By Paul Elias, Associated Press
http://www.theargusonline.com/

SAN FRANCISCO -- Gov. Gray Davis reversed course Wednesday, saying he will restore funding to a program that's key to combatting bioterrorism and produces the only safe botulism treatment for infants. Struggling to surmount a nearly $35 billion budget deficit, Davis had proposed cutting the $1.5 million Infant Botulism Treatment and Prevention Program from next year's budget. The program is developing a botulism antidote that scientists say is the best now available and the only safe treatment for infants, who represent 75 percent of all botulism cases annually. Until Wednesday, the program was slated for elimination from the California budget on June 30. "Research has never ceased or slowed down," Davis spokeswoman Hillary McLean said Wednesday. "Funding is going to be preserved." McLean said the governor has not yet determined the level of funding he will propose for the program for the next fiscal year. The program's reversal of fortune came the day after federal officials said the botulinum toxin is a potential bioweapon, and that they were working to plug vulnerabilities and to improve response to an attack. They said the federal government was considering taking over the California program if the state stopped funding the program. McLean said the state will continue to pursue federal help for the program. The botulinum toxin, the most poisonous toxin found naturally on Earth, easily infects people who inadvertently consume it. As a result, experts fear that thousands would be sickened if terrorists found a way to get it into the nation's food supply.About 120 Americans get botulism each year. Roughly three-quarters are infants, who can get it from the trace amounts of the toxin found in honey. The only safe treatment available for infants is the experimental antidote developed by Dr. Stephen Arnon and his colleagues at the California Department of Health Services. The treatment, called botulism immune globulin, is made from the blood of human volunteers vaccinated against botulism. Arnon is one of the volunteers. "I gave plasma yesterday," Arnon said. California has applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval of the antidote, but the agency has requested more data from the state. The state hopes to have FDA approval by the end of the year. Until then, it has FDA permission to dispense the antidote until it receives formal approval. Many doctors deem it safer to use than the approved antitoxin, which is made from the blood of vaccinated horses. The horse-based antidote can cause rejection or serious allergic reactions in people, which is why it can't be used in infants. The California botulism program was supposed to be self-supporting when it began operations in 1997, said Anita Gore, a spokeswoman with the state Department of Finance. The idea was that once the human-based antidote earned FDA approval, the program could collect fees for the drug and make enough to finance its own operation.Since research started, the state has loaned the program $3.4 million. On the Net: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention botulism page: http://www.cdc.gov/health/botulism.htm
California health department: www.dhs.cahwnet.gov

Current Food Safety News

03/31. QUEBEC FOOD GROUP TACKLES PACKAGE LISTINGS
03/31. TOUGH TO SWALLOW: CLAIMS OF BOTTLED WATER'S PURITY ARE WORTH
03/31. COMMUNITY DINNERS SAFER WHEN COOKED ON SITE, REGION SAYS
03/31. E.COLI TRAGEDIES COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED
03/31. "FDA CONSUMER MAGAZINE" IS AVAILABLE ONLINE

03/30. REVIEW OF BSE CONTROLS: BRITISH FOOD AGENCY CONSULTS ON REPL
03/30. E. COLI FEARED IN PEMBROKE
03/30. FOOD MICROBIOLOGY SYMPOSIUM

03/29. U.S. Leaders Push Europe to Allow Biotech Crops
03/29. Italy, Slovakia report new mad cow cases
03/29. Food Safe applies for USDA licence
03/29. Is it safe? New rules of survival for the food industry
03/29. Chung Ying fined again

03/28. INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR FOOD PROTECTION ANNOUNCES TWO
03/28. CFIA AND FAO LAUNCH AQUATIC FOOD PRODUCT INITITATIVE
03/28. $20,000 FINE FOR ADULTERATING MEAT WITH SULPHUROUS ACID
03/28. WORLD IRRADIATION CONGRESS TO BE HELD IN MAY 2003 AT CHICAGO
03/28. UPDATED LIST OF RESTAURANTS AND RETAILERS MARKETING IRRADIAT
03/28. HOW MANY ACTIVISTS HAVE EVER SUBMITTED THEIR ARGUMENTS TO SC
03/28. WE MUST DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN
03/28. CALLING IRRADIATION SUPPORTERS
03/28. IRRADIATION: THE SINGLE MOST-STUDIED FOOD SAFETY PROCESS IN
03/28. ANOTHER STUDY ON HACCP AND SMALL BUSINESSES
03/28. HACCP AND SMALL BUSINESSES IN THE UK
03/28. ILLNESS ASSOCIATED WITH MINOR FISH SPECIES
03/28. INTEGRATION OF THE NSW FOOD SAFETY SYSTEM
03/28. E. COLI SUMMIT SHORTCHANGED PUBLIC HEALTH
03/28. FSIS to use Bax screening system
03/28. Italy Reports 91st Case of Mad Cow
03/28. THE PROTECTIVE EFFECT OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES IN FOODBORNE IL
03/28. VEGETABLES IN OIL AND VINEGAR

NEW METHODS

03/27. RADIO FREQUENCIES BLAST BACTERIA IN FRUIT JUICE
03/27. Fish to fight food safety
03/25. Safety labelling system
03/24. Patent on new X-ray system for SureBeam
03/24. Approval for Salmonella Food Pathogen Test
03/23. Carbonating Cow Manure
03/22. 'Spice'- antibody cocktail to prevent foodborne infections
03/22. ¡®Spice¡¯ to prevent food poisoning
03/21. Japanese researchers find enzyme capable of BSE destruction
03/19. Bacteria may protect cheese from listeria


Current USDA/FDA News
U.S. Codex Office "What's New" Page: Updated March 31, 2003
Food Safety Publications
"FDA CONSUMER MAGAZINE" IS AVAILABLE ONLINE
Dietary Supplements; Current Good Manufacturing Practice Regulations
International Meat and Poultry Food Safety Conference
OPPD (Policy) What's New Page: Updated March 26, 2003
U.S. Codex Office "What's New" Page: Updated March 26, 2003

'Spice'- antibody cocktail to prevent foodborne infections

http://in.news.yahoo.com/030324/139/22k08.html

London, Mar 24 (ANI): Food contamination is on the rise and is increasingly seen as a possible means of bio-terrorism. To counter this, researchers in Canada are developing a natural antibody cocktail that could help prevent the most common foodborne germs, including E. coli and salmonella, which cause thousands to become sick or die every year.

Derived from freeze-dried egg yolk, the substance is nicknamed a spice because it can be sprinkled or sprayed onto meats, fruits and vegetables to complement existing sanitation protocols. The so-called spice does not alter the taste of food.

One of the pathogens cited by the World Health Organization as a possible agent of bioterrorism is Salmonella, which this spice could protect against, the researchers stated.

Research on the compound, which appears promising in early animal tests, was presented at the 225th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

"This spice represents a safe, easy and inexpensive way to enhance your protection against deadly germs that attack humans via food. One day, it will be found in everyone's spice cabinet," says Hoon Sunwoo, Ph.D., chief investigator in the study and a food chemist at the University of Alberta in Canada.

"This spice does not kill the germs, but prevents them from infecting your body," says Sunwoo. The antibody can remain active one to two hours after being ingested. "That buys precious time that can help keep you alive," he adds.

The new antibody cocktail will be most useful when traditional sanitation safeguards (i.e. rinsing, refrigeration, and thorough cooking) are unavailable or unreliable, the researcher says. Possible uses: foods that are prepared outdoors or meals that are eaten away from home, especially at salad bars and food bars.

It could be helpful for travellers to foreign countries and can even be added to beverages, including water and fruit juice, says Sunwoo.

Unlike the flu vaccine, which contains inactive viruses, the antibodies found in the spice are nonliving and pose no risk of infection. Germs normally target and bind to the intestine, causing infection. In the presence of the antibody cocktail, the germs bind to their corresponding antibodies. The antibody-germ complex is then eliminated as waste, preventing infection.

However, researchers said that more tests are needed before the spice is ready for consumer use. "If all goes well, human tests could begin within a year," says Sunwoo. Early tests show that the spice can remain active in a freeze-dried condition for up to two years, he concludes. (ANI)

SALMONELLA SAINTPAUL: WASHINGTON AND OREGON
March 28, 2003
Health Canada, Infectious Diseases News Brief
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/pphb-dgspsp/bid-bmi/dsd-dsm/nb-ab/2003/nb1303_e.html
An investigation by the Oregon Department of Human Services has identified alfalfa sprouts from a Washington farm as the source of an outbreak of
salmonellosis among Washington and Oregon residents. The producer of the alfalfa sprouts has announced a voluntary recall of the company's alfalfa sprout products from all retail outlets. To date, health officials have identified one southwest Washington resident and eight people in Oregon who have been infected by Salmonella Saintpaul. Investigators are also looking into other cases that may be connected with the outbreak. Source: News Release, Washington State Department of Health, 16 March 200

(BW)(DE-STRATEGIC-DIAGNOSTICS)(SDIX) Strategic Diagnostics Announces Performance Tested Approval for Salmonella Food Pathogen Test and Adoption of Microtox Product by Food Processor

Business Editors/Health/Medical Writers
http://www.businesswire.com/
NEWARK, Del.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 24, 2003--Strategic Diagnostics Inc. (Nasdaq:SDIX) - a leading provider of antibody products and analytical test kits for the food safety and water quality markets, today announced the RapidChek(R) Salmonella test kit has earned Performance Tested(sm) certification from the AOAC Research Institute.
Salmonella is the most common food pathogen and is found in a wide variety of foods including meats, dairy and processed foods. The Center for Disease control estimates that between 2 and 4 million illnesses occur each year in the U.S. from the more than 2,000 strains of Salmonella. AOAC has approved the use of the RapidChek(R) Salmonella lateral flow test cassette for use in meat and poultry.
Silliker Laboratories performed external validation of the test. "Silliker Laboratories found the RapidChek(R) Salmonella test performed well and was convenient and easy to use," commented Wendy Lepper, Research Manager for Silliker Laboratories.
Tests for Salmonella represent approximately 50% of all food pathogen testing, and the market for rapid pathogen tests has been estimated to be approximately $180 million and growing. The official detection method currently used by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires 48 hours to obtain a test result.
SDI's test is designed for ease of use and to provide results in 24 hours, as fast as any other marketed Salmonella test known to the Company. The RapidChek(R) test system offers several advantages over products currently in the market including room temperature storage, no sample boiling and faster, easier to read test strips.
Key evaluations are currently underway with major food companies and laboratories.
Richard C. Birkmeyer, President and CEO of SDI commented, "We are very pleased to have received AOAC approval for another product in our food-pathogen product arsenal. Other rapid Salmonella tests have significant problems with incorrectly detecting non-Salmonella bacteria. We have taken advantage of our antibody technology to develop a test that we believe offers significantly improved specificity as compared to competitors' tests. The combination of speed, ease-of-use and superior performance is a significant competitive advantage in the marketplace and the addition of the Salmonella test and media to our E. coli products is another step toward providing complete testing solutions to our customers."
Also, the Company is pleased to announce that Quality Sausage, a manufacturer of sausages and other prepared meats in Dallas Texas, has adopted the Microtox(R) toxicity system for screening of process water supplies. "We recognize that water is a vital component of our products and we are committed to protecting the quality of that water just as we are with all of the ingredients that we use," said Mr. Mark Mar, Food and Environmental Safety Manager. "The system is easy to use and incorporate into our normal food safety analytical program, and our customers have commented how pleased they are that we are taking this action to protect the products we supply to them and, in doing so, protect their brands."
Mr. Birkmeyer reiterated comments made in the Company's press release of February 27, 2003. "We are very pleased that food processors, like Quality Sausage, have selected Microtox(R) technology as part of their comprehensive quality assurance programs. Microtox(R) technology is currently serving as a crucial part of the drinking water security and counter-terrorism water monitoring programs of many major drinking water utilities across the country. Microtox(R) provides the best means available for rapid detection of the actual chemical impact and increase in toxicity from an intentional contamination of drinking water. We are pleased that Microtox(R) systems can serve in this important application to help deter the threat of terrorism and we will continue to work with more and more major drinking water utilities, as well as food and beverage companies, to maximize the utilization of this important application of Microtox(R) technology."

About Strategic Diagnostics Inc.

SDI is a leading provider of biotechnology-based diagnostic tests for a broad range of agricultural, industrial, and water treatment applications. Through its antibody business, Strategic BioSolutions, Strategic Diagnostics also provides antibody and immunoreagent research and development services.
SDI's test kits are produced in a variety of formats suitable for field and laboratory use, offering advantages of accuracy, cost-effectiveness, portability, and rapid response.
This news release contains certain forward-looking statements reflecting the current expectations of Strategic Diagnostics Inc. and its subsidiaries (the "Company"). These statements include, among others, statements regarding: the development, market acceptance and sales of tests for food-borne pathogens and related growth media; the size and nature of demand in the markets for the Company's products and related effects on operating results; the need for water quality and toxicity tests; anticipated increases in sales of the Company's Microtox(R) toxicity screening systems; approval and validation by third parties of the Company's food pathogen tests; and the performance of the Company's testing products. In addition, when used in this news release, the words "anticipate," "enable," "estimate," "intend," "expect," "believe," "potential," "may," "will," "should," "project" and similar expressions as they relate to the Company are intended to identify said forward-looking statements. Investors are cautioned that all forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, which may cause actual results to differ from those anticipated at this time. Such risks and uncertainties include, without limitation, changes in demand for products, delays in product development, delays in market acceptance of new products, retention of customers, attraction and retention of management and key employees, adequate supply of raw materials, inability to obtain or delays in obtaining third party approvals, or required government approvals, the ability to meet increased market demand, competition, protection of intellectual property, non-infringement of intellectual property, seasonality, the ability to obtain financing and other factors more fully described in the Company's public filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
--30--CRB/ph*
CONTACT: Strategic Diagnostics Inc.
Stanley J. Musial, 302/456-6789
www.sdix.com

FSIS to use Bax screening system
source from: http://www.ift.org/news_bin/news/
3/28/2003-The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service today announced a new measure that will increase efficiency and allow FSIS to further protect public health. FSIS has adopted the BAX system to screen for Salmonella in ready-to-eat meat and poultry and pasteurized egg products. After an evaluation, FSIS determined that the BAX system was as sensitive as the current method of detecting Salmonella but also reduced the reporting time for negative samples by at least three days. This new screen test will save valuable agency time and resources that can then be applied in other ways to protect public health," said Dr. Elsa A. Murano, under secretary for food safety. "This will be another tool that we will use to wage war on pathogens." For more information, see the FSIS Press Release.

Fighting Listeria, the natural way
source from: http://www.foodnavigator.com/
28/03/03 - Danish scientists announce a breakthrough in the battle against the harmful Listeria bacterium, with the discovery of a common lactic acid bacterium that fights Listeria efficiently in foods. Until now producers have been forced to use additives or add extra salt to foodstuffs.
The new remedy is the result of a close co-operation between the Danish Meat Research Institute, the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University and Danish ingredients company Chr. Hansen.While scientists from the research institute and the university originally discovered the effective lactic acid bacterium, Chr. Hansen has made large scale production of the bacterium possible. The ingredients company will also be responsible for the worldwide sales and marketing of the new bacterium.Chief science officer Peter Olesen from Chr. Hansen said: ¡±I am happy to say that this means less chemistry in the meat counters. The lactic acid bacterium we use is already present in the meat. All we really do is make sure there is more of the good germs and less of the unwanted ones.¡± Commenting on the project, Rie S©ªrensen, development manager at the Danish Meat Research Institute said: ¡°It has been a great challenge for us to participate in the development of a new preservation technique.¡± Listeria can be responsible for a range of illnesses including diarrhoea and blood poisoning.

Patent on new X-ray system for SureBeam
source from http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/
21/03/03 - SureBeam - provider of electron beam and x-ray irradiation technology - has been awarded a US patent that extends its current two-pass patented x-ray system to a four-pass system that is said to result in increased processing efficiency.
The new technology will allow gains to be made in throughput of certain products while adding no additional operating costs, the company claims. Processing efficiency is capable of increasing by 5-15 per cent as a result of this enhanced technology. The four-pass system is currently in place at SureBeam's Chicago and Los Angeles service centres and is fully operational.
"This new patent is a logical extension of our core patents in the two-pass system," said Mark Stephenson, SureBeam's vice president of Public Relations. "The state-of-the-art, four-pass system will provide greater operating efficiencies that will become especially important for produce customers as a disinfestation treatment in addition to eliminating the threat of food-borne bacteria in large meat products ?both of which are growth markets for SureBeam." The company's x-ray and electron beam technology is a process that uses ordinary electricity to eliminate the threat of dangerous bacteria ?such as E.coli, Listeria, and Salmonella ?from food products, as well as being used as an effective disinfestation treatment to destroy harmful pests. SureBeam processed ground beef is currently sold in thousands of retail supermarkets across the United States. This is in addition to the nation-wide availability by home delivery, direct mail and food service.

Current Food Recall
03/31. CAMPER¡¯S CHOICE brand PEPPERONI BIG and TERIYAKI STICKS JUMBO
03/31. Ben & Jerry's Voluntarily Initiates the Recall of Pints of Karamel Sutra Ice Cream
03/30. Sara Lee¢ç Issues Allergy Alert for Select Butter Streusel Coffee Cakes
03/29. Maribel's Sweets Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Milk in "Aztec Hot Chocolate"
03/29. Ben & Jerry's Has Recalled certain Karamel Sutra Ice Cream
03/28. Undeclared peanut and milk proteins in EASY BAKE BRAND COOKIE SET
03/28. Puerto Rico Firm Recalls Beef Sausages For Mislabeling
03/28. Puerto Rico Firm Recalls Beef Sausages For Mislabeling

Current JOB Openings
3/31 QC Supervisor
3/31 Food Quality Assurance Technician
3/31 Quality Assurance Manager
3/30 Food Safety & Quality Assurance Manager
3/30 Quality Control Managers, Supervisors and Technicians at var
3/29 Quality Manager
3/29 Quality Control Manager
3/29 Food Scientists

3/28 PhD Chemical Engineer or Food Process Engineer (DuPont)
3/28 Quality Inspector
3/28 Food Safety & Quality Assurance Manager
3/28 Food Technologist
3/28 Control Manager, Food Processing
3/28 Quality Control / Assurance Manager
3/27 QUALITY ASSURANCE SUPERVISOR/FOOD
3/27 Quality Control Manager
3/26 Specialty Ingredient Product Development Scientist
3/25 Quality Assurance Supervisor
3/24 Development Technologist/Food Technologist .
3/23 VP of Product Development - Protein Food
3/22 Food Scientist
3/21 Manufacturing / Process Development
3/21 Lab Technician
3/20 Research & Development Manager