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

8/04, 2003






New Sponsor

Click Logo to Visit Bio-Rad

August 1, 2003
New York Times
Elizabeth Becker
FORT WORTH, July 30 ?Three members of the U.S. Congress were cited as touring a cleanliness-conscious hamburger plant here today to build public support for stemming the rise of tainted meat sold in the United
States. The story explains that after donning white lab coats and matching hairnets, the lawmakers spread out on the factory floor. They spoke to safety inspectors and scientists, as well as to workers who measure pathogen levels
in the meat every 15 minutes as it moves down the production line. But during this first outing by members of the newly formed Congressional Food Safety Caucus, there was pointed disagreement among the legislators about how much change was needed to ensure that no more children die of
meat poisoning, and even about whether that was a realistic goal. The starkest difference in approaches was that between Representative Charles W. Stenholm of Texas, who called for better enforcement of existing government regulations, and a fellow Democrat, Representative Rosa DeLauro of connecticut, who wants those regulations overhauled so that they match the procedures already adopted at plants like the one they visited today. That story explains that the plant, run by Texas American Foodservice, a unit of the American Foodservice Corporation, has gained notice for helping
to redeem the Jack in the Box fast-food chain. After the 1993 debacle in which hundreds of people became ill and four died as a result of eating Jack in the Box hamburgers tainted by E. coli O157:H7, this plant became the chain's main supplier of ground meat and worked with it to set standards far
more stringent than those required under the federal food safety system. Among the safety procedures the plant follows is to buy meat only from slaughterhouses that pass its pathogen tests and that label meat so that any problems can be traced back to the source. Representative Tom Latham, Republican of Iowa, whose home state has
dozens of packing plants, was quoted as saying, "The reason we're looking at this business is to let the bad actors in the industry know we're not going to let them continue."
Congressman Stenholm, on the other hand, said his goal was to put an end to constant negative talk about unsafe meat and show that if plants follow existing rules, then the meat they produce will be safe. David McLin Theno, senior vice president of Jack in the Box, who established
its food safety system with officials at the plant here, was cited as telling the lawmakers today that new federal standards might be necessary but that in any event, supervision was crucial. Tim Biela, vice president for food safety at Texas American, was quoted as saying, "When we first started our testing system, we didn't have many
friends in the industry." The company's suppliers "didn't want to have us test their meat. Now they're calling us up and asking, `Now how do you do it?' "

July 31, 2003
Japanese authors of a research letter in this week's issue of The Lancet provide evidence that hepatitis E infection may be transmitted by consumption of Sika deer, a Japanese delicacy. Hepatitis E is rare in economically developed countries. An animal route (zoonosis) has been suggested for hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection, despite
a lack of direct evidence. Shunji Mishiro from Toshiba General Hospital, Tokyo, Japan, and colleagues
report how four members of two Japanese families contracted hepatitis E after eating raw Japanese deer meat (a local delicacy) on three occasions over seven weeks before the first family member had hepatitis confirmed after hospital admission. On testing, a left over portion of the deer
meat, kept frozen to eat in the future, was positive for HEV RNA, whose genetic sequence was identical to those from the patients. Shunji Mishiro comments: "Our patients became infected with HEV by eating the raw meat (or sashimi in Japanese) of an infected deer. We know of
no report that has described the presence of HEV RNA or antibodies in deer, whereas many have described its presence in swine, cows, goats, and rodents.
We suggest the Sika deer and consumption of its raw meat be added to the list of foods with a risk of transmitting HEV."

July 31, 2003
From a press release
WILMINGTON, Del. -- DuPont today announced that its BAX(R) detection
-- an innovative genetics- based screening method that accurately identifiesdangerous bacteria and pathogens in food and food processing equipment within hours -- can now identify Enterobacter sakazakii in powdered infant formula, dry dairy and soy ingredients. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other agencies have identified Enterobacter sakazakii as an emerging foodborne pathogen
that can cause meningitis, sepsis, or necrotizing enterocolitis in newborn infants, particularly premature infants or other infants with weakened immune systems. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Enterobacter sakazakii can cause invasive disease in newborns. In cases where
meningitis occurs, severe neurologic complications are common and death occurs in up to 80 percent of cases.
The U.S. FDA reports that investigations of several outbreaks of Enterobacter sakazakii infection occurring in neonatal intensive care units worldwide have shown the outbreak to be associated with milk-based powdered infant formulas. Since powdered formulas are not sterile products, they
could contain opportunistic bacteria, such as Enterobacter sakazakii. DuPont scientists collaborated with the Nestle Research Centers in Switzerland and the United States to develop the rapid detection of Enterobacter sakazakii in food and environmental samples through the use of the DuPont(TM) BAX(R) detection system. The BAX(R) system by DuPont Qualicon provides fully automated, genetics-based technology to identify bacteria and pathogens with better than 98 percent accuracy and fast results. The BAX(R) system test provides reliable next-day results, even on
samples with low levels of contamination of Enterobacter sakazakii. "We are focused on providing solutions that help safeguard consumers and that apply advanced innovative technology to help global food companies,"
said Kevin Huttman, president of DuPont Qualicon. "We are pleased to continue growing the applications of the BAX(R) system to include tests for emerging pathogens such as Enterobacter sakazakii. This new technological
breakthrough could not have happened without the close strategic relationship and great co- development efforts between Nestle and DuPont." The BAX(R) system is a breakthrough screening method that provides reliable,
DNA-based detection of target bacteria in raw ingredients, finished food products and environmental samples. The automated system, which takes little space and looks like a desktop computer, has been available since November 2000. Hundreds of BAX(R) systems already are in use by
governments, food companies and laboratories around the world. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service adopted the BAX(R) detection system as the standard for identifying Listeria monocytogenes in the nation's meat and poultry supply.
The global diagnostics industry overall totals $27 billion annually, with the food diagnostics industry representing more than $1.7 billion.

July 29, 2003
New Scientist
Gaia Vince
A new disinfectant, based on enzymes collected from a volcanic pool, is,according to this story, showing promise in destroying the mutated prion proteins that cause vCJD, the human form of BSE. These prions are notoriously difficult to break down, and because an unknown
number of people in the UK have vCJD, there is a theoretical risk that surgical instruments could transmit the disease. The disinfectant could also be effective against the prions that cause sporadic CJD, which occurs
spontaneously and has been spread surgically.
Standard decontamination procedures, such as detergents, UV inactivation and high-pressure boiling at 137 C, have proven unsuccessful at destroying all the prions on contaminated equipment.But now researchers at the UK's Centre for Applied Microbiology and Research (CAMR) in Porton Down and biotechnology company Genencor believe, the story says, they have developed a prion eradication agent. CAMR's Phil Luton was quoted as saying, "Essentially it's a protease enzyme, which is active at high alkalinity - pH 12 to 14 - and a temperature of between 60 and 80C. It requires an incubation period of less than one hour under the enzymes' optimal conditions to degrade the prions." The story says that researchers tested a variety of different enzymes, before selecting the most effective. This was a genetically modified version of a naturally occurring, thermostable enzyme found in volcanic pools and was produced by Genencor. "The enzyme appears to be very promising from the preliminary research findings, although it will need to undergo further tests," says UK-based prion expert John Stephenson. "It works by chemically breaking down the bonds between amino-acids in the protein." He told New Scientist: "We don't know why prions are so highly stable, but they are extremely hard to destroy. Indeed, one standard method of decontamination - soaking in fomaldehyde - actually stabilises the prions."


Bio-Rad Laboratories RAPID'L.Mono Agar Receives PTM Status

Wendy F. Lauer
On July 28, 2003, RAPID'L.Mono agar, manufactured by Bio-Rad Laboratories, was granted Performance Tested Method Status by the AOAC Research Institute (Certificate number 030406). RAPID'L.Mono is a chromogenic media that is useful in differentiating Listeria spp. and Listeria monocytogenes in food samples. Recently, RAPID'L.Mono agar was recommended in the updated online FDA Bacterial Analytical Manual (Chapter 10) for isolation and identification of Listeria monocytogenes. Having these two levels of validation makes RAPID'L.Mono an excellent tool to ensure the safety of food products.
Background on Listeria monocytogenes
Serious outbreaks of Listeria monocytogenes continue to plague the food safety industry. Recently, a multi-state outbreak of L. monocytogenes lead to a recall of 27.4 million pounds of ready-to-eat turkey and chicken products. This, along with other large outbreaks, has sparked new government regulations in testing for the bacteria. Listeria is dangerous in the way that it can survive and grow, however slowly, at refrigerated temperatures in ready-to-eat processed foods. L. monocytogenes is an extremely dangerous pathogen causing serious health problems and possible death particularly in immunosupressed individuals, newborns and the elderly. A rapid method is necessary to cut down on time to results and to make sure those results are accurate. The RAPID'L.Mono agar method provides a solution to this problem. RAPID'L.Mono is a "rapid method with a traditional price". There is no monetary investment for an instrument to run this test.
Chromogenic Principles
The principle of RAPID'L.Mono agar relies on the specific detection of phosphatidylinositol phospholipase C (PIPLC) activity of L. monocytogenes and the inability of this species to metabolize xylose. The only species of Listeria to demonstrate PIPLC activity are L. monocytogenes and L. ivanovii. The addition of xylose to the media allows for differentiation of these two species since L. monocytogenes does not metabolize xylose. L. ivanovii will produce colonies with a distinct yellow halo based on its ability to metabolize xylose where L. monocytogenes colonies will lack this halo. The other non-pathogenic species of Listeria, namely L. innocua, L. welshimeri, L. seeligeri, and L. grayi do not exhibit PIPLC activity and produce white colonies on RAPID' L.Mono agar. L. welshimeri will metabolize xylose and will therefore produce a white colony with a yellow halo. The selective solution contained in the medium permits more or less complete inhibition of the majority of interfering flora including, gram positive and gram negative bacteria, yeasts, and molds. RAPID'L.Mono agar is inoculated after a single 24 hour pre-enrichment. The selectivity and sensitivity of the media allows for this shortened enrichment time. The agar plate is incubated overnight and the next day, presumptive results can be seen by simply looking at the plate and observing colony morphology.
Independent Evaluation
The AOAC-RI study was performed at rtech laboratories (Arden Hills, MN). Selected foods for repeatability studies included brie cheese, surimi, mixed salad, and deli turkey. Foods were inoculated with two levels of L. mono, a low level with 1-5 cfu/25g and a high level with >5 cfu/25g. Colonies that were presumptive positive on RAPID'L.Mono were subsequently confirmed by FDA/BAM or AOAC protocol. All suspect blue colonies (100%) were confirmed as L. mono by these methods.
RAPID'L.Mono is available in two forms, as prepared plates and bottled media. Gaining AOAC-RI PTM status gives insurance to customers that the claims made by Bio-Rad as to the performance of this agar are accurate and well founded. For more information, please visit
Bio-Rad Laboratories
2000 Alfred Nobel Drive
Hercules, CA 94547
(800) 4BIORAD

August 1, 2003
ARS News
Hens inoculated with a new, ARS-developed vaccine are less likely to transmit Salmonella enteritidis into their eggs. This reduces the chance that people who eat raw or undercooked eggs would contract salmonellosis, typified by nausea, vomiting and severe diarrhea. Raw cookie dough or homemade mayonnaise or hollandaise sauce can contain raw eggs. ARS scientists also found that inoculated hens shed 10 to 40 percent less S. enteritidis in their feces. Less shedding helps reduce the spread of the infection through flocks. For these tests, researchers at the ARS Southeast
Poultry Research Laboratory twice-inoculated hens with the experimental vaccine and then exposed the animals to the disease organism. ARS is seeking a patent for the experimental vaccine. The invention is more effective
than current commercial vaccines because it boosts levels of antibodies that hens produce, in their intestines, to fight infection. Approximately 25 million doses of S. enteritidis vaccine are used each year by U.S. poultry producers. For more information, contact Peter S. Holt, (706) 546-3442,
Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, Athens, GA.

EU to fund 24 projects for food safety and quality
source from:
31/07/03 - The European Union has confirmed that it is to fund 24 food quality and safety research projects and 12 support actions with an initial contribution of 166 million in the first year of the EU 6th Research Framework Programme (FP6). The projects are the first of their kind to receive FP6 funding, totalling close to 20 billion over 4 years (2003-2006). The programmes, some of which will receive up to 17 million each, will tackle consumer-oriented issues such as food-related diseases and allergies, the impact of food on health, environmentally-friendly production methods, and environmental health risks, making extensive use of the new approaches offered by FP6. Most of these major new research initiatives will contribute to the implementation of relevant EU policies with scientific data and recommendations. Announcing the new research projects European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin said: In Europe, we are proud of the quality food we produce. I am encouraged by the great response we get from our researchers across Europe to work together to increase our knowledge about our food and to make it even better and safer. Through our European research programmes, we give our top scientists and companies the necessary resources to improve the food we eat and its effects on our health and well-being. The FP6 started on January 1st 2003, with a first crop of calls for proposals published on December 17th, 2002. It has a budget of close to 20 billion, to be allocated on the basis of evaluations following calls for proposals over 4 years. For Priority 5 - Food Quality and Safety - the initial budget is 685 million. On the basis of the evaluation of research proposals by independent experts, the best proposals have been short-listed by the Commission to receive EU funding. Following approval by the Commission and a review by the programme committee, contract negotiations will be initiated with project co-ordinators. In total some 200 proposals, representing almost 1.4 billion, were evaluated by independent experts under the supervision of the Commission. The experts' shortlists form the basis of the funding decisions of the European Commission. Subject to budgetary constraints, up to 36 proposals, representing an initial EU contribution of 166 million, are expected to receive funding. Due to the overwhelming number of high quality proposals and a limited budget a number of topics could not be covered and some of these might be re-introduced into the work programme for 2004. These ambitious projects will, amongst other topics, investigate issues such as low input and organic production systems; prevention, control and management of prion diseases; improved strategies in animal welfare for improved food quality; and allergy and asthma.
In addition to the research projects, 12 specific support actions are short-listed for funding for a total EU contribution of 6.9 million. Several of these target training and networking researchers and technology transfer, particularly in candidate countries, while other actions aim at disseminating results, sharing good practice stemming from research and helping international discussions in the light of technical progress.

Food Safety Authority welcomes seafood rules
New EU Regulations on the labeling of fish and seafood have come into effect on the Irish market for the first time.The aim is to give consumers better information on these products, according to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).Retailers are now legally obliged to include specific information including country of origin, stating if fish are farmed, the catch area and the common names for the species on the labeling.The move is seen as a positive initiative to provide greater transparency for consumers on the traceability of all fish. The Regulations require that fish are labeled with details of the common or commercial name and provides an option for including the scientific name of the species. Where Irish processors are exporting fish, these must be labeled with the common name of the fish in that country. The new criteria applies to both marine and farmed fish sold through retailers to consumers, including live fish, fresh, chilled or frozen fish, fillets of fish, smoked fish, salted and dried products, raw or cooked whole prawns and shrimps, and live or raw shellfish, such as oysters or mussels. Processed products such as breaded fillets, crab sticks or ready-to-eat dishes are not included by the new Regulations. However, it will be possible for consumers to purchase fish directly from a fisherman or fish farmer in small quantities, up to a value of 20 without the need for labeling.According to Alan Reilly, Deputy Chief Executive, FSAI :"There was some misleading labeling in relation to portraying whether a product was farmed or caught in the wild and indeed if it was Irish or not. The terms 'Irish Smoked Salmon' and 'Smoked Irish Salmon' caused some confusion as to which product was actually an Irish salmon and which was an imported salmon that was smoked in Ireland. "This Regulation will assist clarification of this for consumers," Reilly added.