it safe? New rules of survival for the food industry
from: Robert P. Larson and Jean Davis
March 30, 2003 FORU30
years ago, an outbreak of a food-borne pathogen named shigella sonnei afflicted
people throughout the United States.
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.
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
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
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."
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
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.
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.
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.
restores funding to state botulism program
Paul Elias, Associated Press
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
health department: www.dhs.cahwnet.gov
Food Safety News
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
"FDA CONSUMER MAGAZINE" IS AVAILABLE ONLINE
03/30. REVIEW OF
BSE CONTROLS: BRITISH FOOD AGENCY CONSULTS ON REPL
03/30. E. COLI FEARED IN
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
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
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
03/28. WORLD IRRADIATION CONGRESS TO BE HELD IN MAY 2003 AT CHICAGO
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
IRRADIATION: THE SINGLE MOST-STUDIED FOOD SAFETY PROCESS IN
STUDY ON HACCP AND SMALL BUSINESSES
03/28. HACCP AND SMALL BUSINESSES IN THE
03/28. ILLNESS ASSOCIATED WITH MINOR FISH SPECIES
OF THE NSW FOOD SAFETY SYSTEM
03/28. E. COLI SUMMIT SHORTCHANGED PUBLIC HEALTH
FSIS to use Bax screening system
03/28. Italy Reports 91st Case of Mad Cow
THE PROTECTIVE EFFECT OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES IN FOODBORNE IL
IN OIL AND VINEGAR
RADIO FREQUENCIES BLAST BACTERIA IN FRUIT JUICE
03/27. Fish to fight food safety
Safety labelling system
03/24. Patent on new X-ray system for SureBeam
Approval for Salmonella Food Pathogen Test
03/23. Carbonating Cow Manure
'Spice'- antibody cocktail to prevent foodborne infections
03/22. ¡®Spice¡¯ to
prevent food poisoning
03/21. Japanese researchers find enzyme capable of BSE
03/19. Bacteria may protect cheese from listeria
Codex Office "What's New" Page: Updated March 31, 2003
"FDA CONSUMER MAGAZINE" IS AVAILABLE ONLINE
Supplements; Current Good Manufacturing Practice Regulations
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
antibody cocktail to prevent foodborne infections
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
could be helpful for travellers to foreign countries and can even be added to
beverages, including water and fruit juice, says Sunwoo.
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.
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)
SAINTPAUL: WASHINGTON AND OREGON
March 28, 2003
Health Canada, Infectious
Diseases News Brief
investigation by the Oregon Department of Human Services has identified alfalfa
sprouts from a Washington farm as the source of an outbreak of
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
Strategic Diagnostics Announces Performance Tested Approval for Salmonella Food
Pathogen Test and Adoption of Microtox Product by Food Processor
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
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
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.
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)
Strategic Diagnostics Inc.
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.
Strategic Diagnostics Inc.
Stanley J. Musial, 302/456-6789
to use Bax screening system
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.
Listeria, the natural way
source from: http://www.foodnavigator.com/
- 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.
on new X-ray system for SureBeam
source from http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/
- 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.
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.
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
Sara Lee¢ç Issues Allergy Alert for Select Butter Streusel Coffee Cakes
Maribel's Sweets Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Milk in "Aztec Hot Chocolate"
Ben & Jerry's Has Recalled certain Karamel Sutra Ice Cream
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
3/31 Food Quality Assurance Technician
3/31 Quality Assurance
3/30 Food Safety & Quality Assurance Manager
3/30 Quality Control
Managers, Supervisors and Technicians at var
3/29 Quality Manager
3/29 Food Scientists
PhD Chemical Engineer or Food Process Engineer (DuPont)
3/28 Quality Inspector
Food Safety & Quality Assurance Manager
3/28 Food Technologist
Control Manager, Food Processing
3/28 Quality Control / Assurance Manager
QUALITY ASSURANCE SUPERVISOR/FOOD
3/27 Quality Control Manager
Ingredient Product Development Scientist
3/25 Quality Assurance Supervisor
Development Technologist/Food Technologist .
3/23 VP of Product Development
- Protein Food
3/22 Food Scientist
3/21 Manufacturing / Process Development
3/20 Research & Development Manager