on SARS and Potential for Food Transmission
SARS appears to be a respiratory disease spread by a coronavirus. There is information that indicates that SARS may remain on hands and surfaces for several hours. Based on this knowledge, FDA recommends strict hand-hygiene be enforced among food handlers and within the food processing industry. Strict hand-hygiene, includes washing hands with soap and water after using the restroom and after sneezing or coughing. In addition, food workers should not handle ready-to-eat foods, such as sandwiches, vegetables and cut fruits, with bare hands, but should use gloves or utensils for an extra level of protection. Strict hand-hygiene should be followed when preparing the food in individual homes as well.
The importance of hand washing cannot be overstated as a prevention method for SARS and other diseases. Proper hand washing, as described in the FDA Food Code continues to serve as a vital and necessary public health practice to eliminate the spread of food borne illnesses in retail food stores and food service. Contamination factors common in retail and food service environments inhibit the effectiveness of alcohol-based hand sanitizers when used in place of hand washing. They can be used as an additional safeguard following hand washing.
FDA is working closely with national and international public health and agricultural organizations to ensure that foods consumed in the United States remain safe as well as wholesome. As more information is acquired, the FDA will update its advice accordingly.
survey reveals most Americans unaware of antibiotics in meat
survey report went on to highlight that only 27 per cent of those surveyed are
aware of the scientific dialogue documenting problems caused by overuse of antibiotics
in animals raised for food. Once they learn of the reports showing a connection
between the overuse of antibiotics in animal feed and its effect on humans, the
majority (59 per cent) has a high desire to avoid these products and want meat
and poultry raised without such antibiotics, the report reveals.
"Antibiotic medicines are losing effectiveness on humans due to their increased use in animal feed," said Margaret Mellon, Ph.D, JD, director of the food and environment programme for the Union of Concerned Scientists. "Animals raised in natural environments rarely require the use of antibiotics. Americans who choose meat produced this way are making conscious decisions to ensure that antibiotics will still be working when they or their family need them."
The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that 70 per cent of all antibiotics in the United States are now fed to animals raised for human consumption in order to hasten the animals' growth or prevent illness amid crowded, unsanitary conditions on factory farms.
"The survey released today indicates Americans' strong desire to buy 'natural' meat. Yet, only one per cent of the total beef and poultry sales in the United States is considered 'natural,' meaning it comes from animals raised without antibiotics throughout their lifecycle," said David Smith, vice president of marketing, Whole Foods Market. "The major concern about antibiotic usage and the low awareness of its prevalence in meat production indicates a significant demand for antibiotic-free, natural meat once consumers become educated about the issue."
In the US the use of antibiotics in food animals has attracted the attention of Congress. Senator Ted Kennedy and Representative Sherrod Brown (OH) plan to re-introduce bills soon to phase out the routine use of medically important antibiotics in poultry and livestock. Similar legislation introduced in the last Congress was endorsed by over 170 groups, including the American Medical Association.
Current EC legislation in Europe largely outlaws the use of antibiotics in animal feed as a growth stimulant. In Denmark a complete ban on antibiotics, except for the treatment of medical conditions, is said to have been successfully implemented and could well prove to have a strong influence on future EC legislation. At the end of last year the EC voted to approve the adoption of the Keppelhoff-Wiechert report on additives for use in animal nutrition. Commissioner David Byrne said at the time that he saw the move as a step towards the abolition of the European Union's drive to phase out antibiotics and other potentially harmful substances in animal feed. Legislation is now expected to phase out antibiotics as growth promoters in Europe by 2005.
Defining "Natural Meat"
In the US legislation is more liberal. There beef and poultry are not currently required to bear labels that clearly explain the presence of or use of antibiotics in feed - even the Department of Agriculture (USDA) rules for meat labelled natural do not require all antibiotics be eliminated. According to the USDA, natural may be used on the label when products contain "no artificial ingredients and are no more than minimally processed.
"Our definition of natural meat means that it was raised without any antibiotics, added growth hormones, or animal byproducts in its feed," said Margaret Wittenberg, vice president, governmental and public affairs, Whole Foods Market. "We want to educate consumers that alternative meat products that have been raised without antibiotics or added growth hormones are available. Whole Foods Market believes truly natural meats taste better, and they help avoid the health risk of developing antibiotic resistance. Our standards also include provisions for the humane rearing and slaughter of animals."
According to the Whole Foods Market survey, nearly eight in ten (78 per cent) Americans believe it is important for standards to be in place to more clearly define natural meat that include: meat and poultry raised without antibiotics; meat raised without added growth hormones; and animals raised and processed using humane methods. In addition, almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of Americans believe all meat and poultry products should conform to a regulated standard reflecting this definition.
Overall, four out of five Americans (81 per cent) have either bought beef and chicken that was not raised on feed with antibiotics or would like to buy it.
in 1980 in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market is the world's largest natural and
organic foods supermarket. In fiscal year 2002, the company had sales of $2.7
billion and currently has 143 stores in the United States and Canada.
IS NORWALK VIRUS? - UPDATED
do not multiply in food. Food handlers with symptoms of gastroenteritis should
not prepare or touch food while they have symptoms and for 3 days after they recover
from the illness as the virus can still be transmitted during this time. Food
that may have been contaminated by an ill person should be discarded. There is
no evidence to suggest that an infected person can become a long-term carrier
of norovirus but the virus can be found in the stool and vomit of infected persons
from the day they start to feel ill for as long as 2 weeks after they recover.
Some employers may decide to reassign returning food handlers to duties away from
direct food contact until this time period passes although with good hygiene,
this step should not be necessary.
of Ontario. (2002). Chief Medical Officer of Health urges Ontarians to protect
themselves from Norwalk Virus. Retrieved April 16, 2003, from
Canada. (2001). Material Safety Data Sheets ¡© Infectious Substances:
Department of Public Health. (2002). Norwalk virus and Norwalk-like viruses. Retrieved
April 16, 2003, from
Food and Drug Administration. (2003, January 7). The Norwalk virus family. Retrieved
April 16, 2003, from
more information on noroviruses or other food safety topics, please call the Food
Safety Network toll-free at 1-866-50-FSNET or visit our website at
Although we strive to make the information on this fact sheet helpful and accurate, we make no representation or warranty, express or implied, regarding such information, and disclaim all liability of any kind whatsoever arising out of use of, or failure to use, such information or errors or omissions on this fact sheet.
Current Food Safety News
Advice on SARS and Potential for Food Transmission
Task force meets again
to discuss the outbreak
The recently created Shigella Task Force met for the second time Friday to discuss the steady increase in cases and brainstormed additional safety precautions. In May alone, there have been 62 new cases. At the last task force meeting May 9, the total number of cases was at 111.
Shigella is a bacterial disease which can cause diarrhea, fever and cramps. It is generally only life threatening to the elderly, infants, those who are already ill, or those with weakened immune systems. Hospitalization may result if there is severe dehydration. Those afflicted with this disease generally get over their symptoms in a few days
The outbreak began last November, but a recent upswing in the number of cases led to the creation of a special task force made up of local and state health officials.
Lillian Brown, an epidemiologist from the Illinois Department of Public Health, said there have been 170 confirmed and probable cases for Shigella in Stephenson County, including 13 people who were hospitalized.
"Most of the cases are Freeport residents, but it's starting to move out into other communities," Brown said. "We've seen more cases in Pearl City, five cases in Ogle County that had ties to Freeport and one in Jo Daviess County. The increased count in May is partially due to increased surveillance and awareness. More cases are being reported."
In response to the outbreak, the task force has promoted safe hand-washing techniques, especially among young children, who make up the majority of the cases. A supervised hand-washing regimen has been instituted at local schools. Shigella is transmitted through fecal-oral contact, a fact which makes good hygiene extremely important in preventing the spread of the disease.
A high concentration of cases have stemmed from the Jones-Farrar Early Learning Center in Freeport. Gaye Anderson, the principal at Jones-Farrar, told the task force she is concerned Shigella is spreading from the students to the staff. There is one confirmed case of a Jones-Farrar staff member getting the illness.
"My staff is panicking," Anderson said. "It seems to be escalating. I don't know what else I can do."
The task force discussed running public service announcements emphasizing good hygiene; targeting summer schools, summer camps and pools for public awareness; and getting community officials and physicians to speak out about the need for caution during this outbreak.
Officials predict the number of cases may continue to increase as children are released from school for summer break. With kids at camps and pools, the disease may spread throughout the community.
Despite this possibility, Rebecca Wurtz, an IDPH physician, said the task force is working very diligently to deal with the problem.
"It's terrific to have such cooperation from the community," Wurtz said. "I think everybody's thinking and everybody's working hard to try and fix the problem. I think everybody's aware that as we transition into summer, the problem won't go away. It will just be dispersed more widely."
TO APPEAL RULING OVER DAMAGES FOR SPROUT GROWERS
Cow's Feed "Almost Impossible" To Trace-USDA
WASHINGTON -- Canadian and U.S. officials will find it "almost impossible" to identify the sources of all the food consumed by the Alberta cow infected with mad cow disease, a senior U.S. Agriculture Department official said on Thursday.
Contaminated animal feed is viewed as a possible source of the fatal nervous system disease in the cow, which was about six or eight years old when it was slaughtered in January.
However, some cattle industry officials and veterinary experts speculated the diseased cow from Alberta may have not been given any animal-based food supplements and instead was nourished with plant food.
The Tuesday discovery of the cow infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy has prompted the United States and other nations to halt imports of Canadian beef and live cattle. The United States has never had a case of mad cow disease.
A team of USDA investigators is working with Canadian officials to examine the infected cow's origins, where its calves were sold, other cattle that came into contact with the animal, and its food supply. The United States is a major buyer of Canadian cattle and beef.
"My sense is that it is going to be almost impossible to trace back (the animal feed)," said Bobby Accord, administrator of the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
In 1997, the United States and Canada banned feeding cow remains or offal to cattle, after Britain's outbreak of mad cow disease was linked to animal feed that contained remains of sick animals.
To ensure compliance, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration tested 1,200 samples of animal feed last year, according to Stephen Sundlof, director of the agency's Center for Veterinary Medicine. Half the samples were from imported animal feed.
The FDA's most recent test results showed that 13 animal feed plants out of a total 1,555 had feed that contained some of the banned material, Sundlof told reporters.
However, the FDA testing procedure is being refined so that it can pinpoint cattle protein in animal feed instead of simply flagging all generic mammalian protein, Sundlof said. While cattle remains are banned from U.S. animal feed, other kinds of mammals can be ground up and used in it.
"As we get better and quicker methods, the intensity of that testing will increase," he said.
The FDA also conducts visual inspections of ship manifests at ports of entry for "anything suspicious that might include animal proteins," Sundlof added.
The FDA is also considering whether to ban poultry litter from animal feed as an extra safety step. "That is an issue that we have expressed concern about," Sundlof said.
The infected Canadian cow was slaughtered in January after an inspector suspected it had pneumonia. The animal's carcass was sent to a rendering plant, while its brain was held by Canadian officials some four months for testing.
"That (rendering) plant was inspected in February and passed its inspection," Sundlof. "We have no information that any of that product came into the United States. We're in the process of tracking that down."
Lisa Ferguson, a senior USDA scientist, said the government tested nearly 20,000 U.S. cattle last year for mad cow disease out of a total U.S. cattle slaughter of about 36 million.
More extensive testing would offer little extra protection for the U.S. food supply, she said.
"Testing every animal I believe sometimes leads you down a strange pathway," Ferguson said. "We are doing targeted surveillance. We are looking at the high-risk population where the disease would be most likely to show up." 5/22/03
Green light for irradiation?
source from: http://www.foodqualitynews.com/
23/05/03 - Institutional investors are starting to weigh the cost-benefits of irradiating ground beef, poultry and other foods for food service providers, food processors and food retailers, according to a leading adviser in the US.
Mark McLellan, director of the Institute of Food Sciences & Engineering at
Texas A&M University and President of the Institute of Food Technologists
made the comments at an educational seminar on food irradiation at the National
Restaurant Association Show at McCormick Place, Chicago.
"The impetus is due to the 66 recalls for listeria or E.coli-contaminated beef, pork and poultry in 2002, totalling approximately 60 million pounds of meat, or nearly three times as much as in the prior year," McLellan said.
"The largest of these recalls involved about 27 million pounds of product and cost $81 million (¢æ68.7m), not including litigation costs," McLellan said.
"By contrast, Dairy Queen, one of the restaurant industry leaders in introducing irradiated hamburgers, estimates its costs for irradiated ground beef at 7 cents a pound. For the same amount of product, that would equate to $1.9 million, or 2.4 per cent of the cost of the largest recall. It's no wonder then that financial lenders and insurers are taking a closer look at irradiation," McLellan added.
"The primary drivers of food irradiation have always been the consumer benefits of food safety, through prevention of illnesses and deaths, and offering consumers a choice," McLellan said. "Additionally, there has always been the litigation issue, understanding that protection of consumers equates to protection of the company. Now, there's a second economic driver: the availability of investment capital for expansion and growth."
While the retail sector of the food industry has led the way with irradiated product introductions, especially over the past year, McLellan foresees an acceleration of irradiated foods in the restaurant and food service industries, especially with the recent USDA provision for offering irradiated ground beef through the School Lunch Program. "Public education will demystify the technology and lead to greater acceptance," he said.
Calling irradiation "a pillar of public health," McLellan said, "Just as there are few places today that sell unpasteurised milk, the same will be true in a few years for raw ground beef."
The Institute of Food Science and Engineering, part of the Texas A&M University System, brings together more than 140 faculty from multiple academic disciplines to solve complex problems in the food industry. Since IFSE's beginning in 1990, research by its scientists has resulted in advances such as better diagnostic tools to detect E.coli and Salmonella; enhanced foods with cancer-fighting nutrients; and new process technologies to enhance value of foods.
An Electron Beam Food Research Facility (EBFRF) at the Institute received authority in October 2002 by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to process foods and other non-food products. Not only commercial food products are being processed, but also research activities applying irradiation technology on foods and non-foods are ongoing.
Senate Bill Takes on Meat and Poultry Pathogens
DC, May 22, 2003 (ENS) - A bipartisan group of Senators and U.S. Representatives
introduced legislation today to strengthen the ability of the U.S. Department
of Agriculture (USDA) to enforce food safety and sanitation standards for meat
"It is shocking but true that the American people are still unprotected against fatal foodborne illnesses like E. coli and salmonella," said one of the bill's sponsors, Representative Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat. "This legislation will help ensure that the government has the authority it needs to prevent contaminated meat and poultry from entering our food supply."
The bill, based on recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences and the National Advisory Committee for Microbiological Criteria for Foods, would give the USDA the much needed ability to better fend off industry driven law suits that have weakened the department's ability to ensure the safety of the meat supply, according to Caroline Smith DeWaal food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).
"Consumers want safer meat and the industry certainly needs help from Congress before the industry's lawyers and lobbyists send it over a cliff," Smith DeWaal said. "[This bill] contains both good science and good old common sense which are urgently needed to restore consumers' faith in our meat-safety system."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, foodborne diseases cause some 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths each year. The legislation introduced today is called "Kevin's Law" in dedication to two year old Kevin Kowalcyk who died in 2001 after eating a hamburger contaminated with E. coli bacteria.
The introduction of the bill comes two days after the United States banned imports of beef from Canada for fear of mad cow disease.
"Americans should not have to worry about whether the food on their dinner plates is safe," Eshoo said.
27/05/03 - Avure Technologies has supplied a high-pressure processing (HPP) system to a US-based food company which aims to increase the safety of processed onion.
Greenwald, owner/manager of Winsoms, the Washington-based food company that bought
the system from Avure, said: "As a produce department manager, customers
always asked me for pre-chopped onions, but it just wasn't possible with conventional
HPP destroys food-borne pathogens and spoilage organisms, ensuring product safety and enabling longer shelf life. Avure claims that its system helps various foods to retain more of their fresh taste, colour, texture and nutritional values than is possible with other food processing techniques that depend on chemical additives or heat treatments.
Winsoms, and production partner Hairington, launched the product line using a 35-litre HPP system. Hairington says it expects to install their second unit, a 215-litre system, by December 2003 to satisfy consumer demand.
Greenwald added, "Commercial users want our product rather than frozen or dehydrated onions, because they get a sweeter taste that isn't bitter, and a fresher, crunchier texture." Winsoms has already shipped commercial product, chopped Spanish onions, for use as an ingredient in premium salad dressings.
Hairington says it plans to process other premium onions for Winsoms. With the use of high-pressure and appropriate storage, these premium onions will be available in fresh chopped form months after their normal season ends.
Winsoms' brand of "They Just Taste Sweeter" retail products is expected to be introduced over the next six months in the US. Chopped onions for supermarkets are packed in 8-ounce stand-up, re-sealable bags. The retail products are intended to be marketed with a 45-day shelf life, although Winsoms has demonstrated shelf life up to 90 days without impacting quality. Avure's Fresher Under Pressure brand logo will also appear on the retail packaging.
Pat Adams, CEO of Avure Technologies said. "Consumers want convenience and freshness, and Winsoms delivers. Our high-pressure processing technology enables food companies to formulate new products with this unique, premium profile."
Avure Technologies Incorporated is a wholly owned subsidiary of Flow International Corporation. Based in the US, the company¡¯s Fresher Under Pressure HPP technology is said to destroy food-borne pathogens, including Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria.