10/03
2003


ISSUE:
85
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IMPORTED FOOD INFORMATION ONLINE
September 30, 2003
Food Standards Agency
http://www.foodstandards.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/importedinfo
Bringing food into the UK? Then check out our new section on imported foods.
You'll find information about what can be imported for personal use and how
the safety and standards of imported food are controlled. There's also
information for local authority enforcement teams, a feedback section, plus
pages on specific foods such as cakes and sweets, spices, meat, dairy and
fish products.
Find out more at http://www.foodstandards.gov.uk/enforcement/imports/

ASIA AND PACIFIC CONFERENCE ON FOOD SAFETY
May 24-27, 2004
Food Safety and Quality Update Issue No 9. September 2003
Safety for Asia and the Pacific
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The website for the Regional Conference on Food Safety for Asia and the
Pacific to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 24-27 May 2004 is now
available in French, Spanish, English, and Chinese at:
www.foodsafetyforum.org/asian/index_en.asp Member countries of the region
are being encouraged to convene national task forces to facilitate their
adequate for the Conference. For more information on the Conference,
contact:
Londa.Vanderwal@fao.org

FDA to hold public meetings on bioterrorism act
IFT Newsletter
http://www.ift.org/cms/?pid=1000363
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing a public meeting (via satellite downlink) to discuss final regulations implementing two sections in Title III of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (Bioterrorism Act) regarding Registration of Food Facilities (Docket No. 2002N-0276) and Prior Notice of Imported Food Shipments (Docket No. 2002N-0278). FDA expects to publish shortly in the Federal Register final rules implementing each of these provisions. The purpose of the satellite downlink public meeting is to provide information on the rules to the public and to provide the public an opportunity to ask questions of clarification. The satellite downlink public meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 28, 2003, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. eastern standard time. Questions submitted in advance must be received by the contact person by close of business (4:30 p.m.) on Friday, October 24, 2003. For more information, see the Federal Register of October 1, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 190, Page 56600-56603).

Bottled water may cause 10% of food poisoning cases
ALLAN LAING October 03 2003
The Herald
http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/1884.html
BOTTLED water could be a significant source of bacterial infection, according to new research.
A study by scientists at the University of Wales and Cardiff public health laboratory suggests that, although under-cooked poultry is by far the biggest source, contaminated mineral water may account for more than one in 10 cases of campylobacter, the UK's big-gest cause of food poisoning. Dr Meirion Evans, of the department of epidemiology, who led the research, said: "What we have found is that it does appear that people who have been infected by campylobacter are more likely to have drunk mineral water than those who have not been infected. That suggests the possibility that some cases may be associated with drinking bottled water."
Dr Evans agreed that most people assume that mineral water is safer than tap water. However, he added: "In most parts of the UK tap water has been chemically processed, whereas the mineral water you find in bottles is as it comes. Though mineral water is inherently safer than most sources of tap water it could be contaminated in processing or bottling."
The researchers examined 200 cases of food poisoning, collecting details of what the sufferers had eaten and drunk, where they had been, and whether or not they had been in contact with farm animals.
They compared their findings with a control group, none of whom had food poisoning. The results, published in the US-based specialist science journal, Emerging Infectious Disease, showed that more than 30% of cases could be attributed to contaminated chicken and 21% to raw salad products. As many as 12% of the cases could have been caused by bottled water.
Dr Evans said: "This is a hypothesis that needs to be looked at more closely. These are early findings which suggest there may be a link here (with bottled water) and I think it is important that it is investigated further. It is certainly plausible because, unlike tap water, it does not go through any chemical processing."
The campylobacter bug, though not so well known as other food infectors such as salmonella and E-coli, strikes thousands of people every year. In most cases it causes stomach pain and diarrhoea.
Jo Jacobius, from the Natural Mineral Water Service, said the research had failed to differentiate between mineral water ?which has to come from a protected underground source ?and other types of spring water.
She said: "Natural mineral water has to come from a clean, unpolluted source."
Richard Laming, from the British Soft Drinks Association, insisted there was no evidence that water was causing food poisoning.
He said producers were compelled under the Food Safety Act to test for the presence of organisms and withhold any contaminated water from sale.
However, Dr Iain Ogden, from the medical microbiology department at Aberdeen University, said it was possible for campylobacter to slip through the testing net.
BOTTLED water could be a significant source of bacterial infection, according to new research.
A study by scientists at the University of Wales and Cardiff public health laboratory suggests that, although under-cooked poultry is by far the biggest source, contaminated mineral water may account for more than one in 10 cases of campylobacter, the UK's big-gest cause of food poisoning. Dr Meirion Evans, of the department of epidemiology, who led the research, said: "What we have found is that it does appear that people who have been infected by campylobacter are more likely to have drunk mineral water than those who have not been infected. That suggests the possibility that some cases may be associated with drinking bottled water."
Dr Evans agreed that most people assume that mineral water is safer than tap water. However, he added: "In most parts of the UK tap water has been chemically processed, whereas the mineral water you find in bottles is as it comes. Though mineral water is inherently safer than most sources of tap water it could be contaminated in processing or bottling."
The researchers examined 200 cases of food poisoning, collecting details of what the sufferers had eaten and drunk, where they had been, and whether or not they had been in contact with farm animals.
They compared their findings with a control group, none of whom had food poisoning. The results, published in the US-based specialist science journal, Emerging Infectious Disease, showed that more than 30% of cases could be attributed to contaminated chicken and 21% to raw salad products. As many as 12% of the cases could have been caused by bottled water.
Dr Evans said: "This is a hypothesis that needs to be looked at more closely. These are early findings which suggest there may be a link here (with bottled water) and I think it is important that it is investigated further. It is certainly plausible because, unlike tap water, it does not go through any chemical processing."
The campylobacter bug, though not so well known as other food infectors such as salmonella and E-coli, strikes thousands of people every year. In most cases it causes stomach pain and diarrhoea.
Jo Jacobius, from the Natural Mineral Water Service, said the research had failed to differentiate between mineral water ?which has to come from a protected underground source ?and other types of spring water.
She said: "Natural mineral water has to come from a clean, unpolluted source."
Richard Laming, from the British Soft Drinks Association, insisted there was no evidence that water was causing food poisoning.
He said producers were compelled under the Food Safety Act to test for the presence of organisms and withhold any contaminated water from sale.
However, Dr Iain Ogden, from the medical microbiology department at Aberdeen University, said it was possible for campylobacter to slip through the testing net.

USDA criticise e-coli recall
source from:Meat Process
http://www.meatprocess.com/news/news.asp?id=621
03/10/03 - The US agriculture department's investigation into last year's ConAgra Foods meat recall has heavily criticised both the plant and the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) for the handling of the E-coli outbreak.
Claimed by the USDA to cause more than 46 illnesses in 16 states, more than 18 million pounds of ground beef had to be recalled with the vast majority of the meat never being accounted for.
"Our audit found that neither ConAgra nor FSIS effectively fulfilled their responsibilities. Data was available to both ConAgra and FSIS in the period prior to the recall that indicated E. coli 0157:H7 contamination was becoming a continuous problem at ConAgra," said the US report.
Last year lawmakers criticized the USDA, saying that weeks before the July recall, federal meat inspectors knew the plant in Colorado repeatedly tested positive for E. coli 0157:H7 but did nothing.
The independent arm of the USDA prepared the investigative report at the request of californian representative Henry Waxman and other democrats who claimed that the recall was ineffective and inefficient noting that only 3 million pounds of the recalled meat was recovered by the end of January 2003.
The bacteria, which can be deadly for the elderly and very young, was found in at least 63 tests conducted by the plant in 2002, the report said. But federal meat inspectors did not intervene because they believed the FSIS had no authority to review vtests conducted by the plant.
A spokesman for Swift & Co. who bought the plant off ConAgra after the incident said the Colorado plant followed all measures prescribed by the USDA, and made its internal E. coli test results available to meat inspectors.
"At every point in the recall process, our company responded promptly to the USDA to ensure the swift recall of affected products as well as to implement changes to our production processes to ensure the highest level of product safety," said Jim Herlihy a company spokesman.
The plant is claimed to have adopted new technology to kill foodborne pathogens, including a hot water spray that virtually sterilizes each carcass before it is processed into ground beef.
The FSIS has also claimed it has tightened procedures to better protect public health since the recall last summer, adopting a speedier process to identify suppliers of contaminated meat after it is discovered by consumers.
The FSIS claim the rate of positive test samples at meat plants was 0.32 percent so far this year, down from 0.78 percent in 2002.

Acylamide the key

source from: Bakery and Snacks
http://www.bakeryandsnacks.com/news/news.asp?id=419
02/10/03 - Having just published its annual report for 2002, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland has outlined a number of key issues it hopes to concentrate on in the 2003/2004 period.
Pat Caulfield, chairman of the food safety consultative council, stated that the councils objective was to provide feedback to the FSAI on the views, opinions and recommendations from the group, in order to outline the key priorities for the future.
Our priorities for 2003/2004 include highlighting the importance of the safety/quality of drinking water supplies; promoting a food labelling system that best protects consumer health and interests; assisting the FSAI in lobbying for the remit of on-farm food safety activities to cover the entire food chain and promoting the need for increased research and information on the potential benefits of reducing acrylamide in our food supply," he said.

The council also announced details of its second open council meeting, which is taking place on the 13th November in Maryborough House Hotel, Cork and is open to members of the public and interested parties. It will provide an opportunity for people to raise concerns, issues or queries on food safety issues.

The 2002 report of the Consultative Council details its work during the year. It highlights a number of areas the Council discussed and commissioned reports on. These include a number of food related issues including Johnes disease in cattle; commissioning data on attitudes of consumers and the food industry to food safety; the quality of public and private water supplies and discussing the issue of artisan/small producers and the obstacles to developing a food business in relation to food safety regulations.

The FSAI consultative council was established in mid 2001. It meets quarterly and comprises 22 members representing a broad range of interests drawn from all sectors of the food industry and consumers. It acts as a forum for debate on food safety issues and provides input to the FSAI boards agenda. The council through the course of its meetings examines segments of the food chain from farm to fork to review the food safety initiatives already in place and those required to ensure consumers?interests are to the forefront.
The FSAI publishes the minutes of its consultative council meetings on www.fsai.ie.
Concern over acrylamide levels in foodstuffs arose in April 2002 when scientists in Sweden discovered unexpectedly high levels of this potentially carcinogenic compound in carbohydrate-rich foods heated to high temperatures. The substance, used to purify water and in other industrial processes, could be found in a range of baked and fried foods, prompting fears of a food safety problem.

Current Foodborne Outbreaks
10/02. Thirty hospitalized after drinking contaminated water in cen
10/02. At least 22 fall ill after Liuna Gala; Hamilton health offic
10/02. SALMONELLA KIAMBU, BEEF JERKY - USA (NEW MEXICO) (02
10/02. SALMONELLA KIAMBU, BEEF JERKY - USA (NEW MEXICO)
10/02. HEPATITIS A - USA: MULTISTATE OUTBREAK SUSPECTED

10/01. Nut allergy girl killed by a curry
10/01. Egg salad sold at OR Safeways blamed for salmonella outbreak
10/01. Nearly 200 people suffer food poisoning in Vietnam
09/30. N.B. CASES OF E. COLI CAUSED BY TWO SEPARATE OUTBREAKS, MEDI
09/30. ACTING CHECHEN LEADER BETTER AFTER FOOD POISONING
09/30. Louis' Cafe in Duluth linked to salmonella outbreak
09/30. School canteen puts 400 in hospital

09/29. Doctor denies foul play in Popov's poisoning
09/29. 'Crypto' Parasite Spreads To Kansas City
09/28. Staph bacteria caused food poisoning at Cancer Association
09/28. 4 Children at Smiths Primary School Catch Shigella
09/28. Chechnya's prime minister hospitalized with food poisoning
09/27. BC-FOOD
09/27. CRIME SUSPECTED AS 222 CHINESE CHILDREN HOSPITALIZED WITH FO

Current Recall Information
10/03. New Mexico Firm Recalls Beef Jerky For Possible Salmonella Contamination
10/02. Old Santa Fe Trail, Route 66 food products recalled
10/02. Mandalay Trading Has Recalled Primera Brand, Macapuno Strings
09/30. Consumer Alert: Undeclared Eggs In Mayonnaise
09/30. Bingham Hill Cheese Company Voluntarily Recalls Blue Cheese
09/26. Fay Da Has Recalled Chestnut Bread
09/26. CEYCAN DRIED PRAWNS may contain chloramphenicol

Current Food Safety Informaiton
10/03. Agency Publishes Reports On Testing Of Uk Shellfish For Toxi
10/03. Recall Post-Mortem
10/03. USDA criticise e-coli recall
10/03. EU tentative on GMO crops
10/03. A peanut butter sandwich can be a life or death matter
10/03. Chronic Wasting Disease found in Black Hills
10/03. 2002 meat recall exposed perilous gaps in safety net
10/03. Board wants Chili's to recoup costs
10/03. Lax enforcement blamed in E. coli case
10/03. Bottled water may cause 10% of food poisoning cases
10/03. Bottled water 'may cause illness'

10/02. US needs leader for on-farm food safety?activists
10/02. THE NATIONAL TURKEY FEDERATION LAUNCHES HOW TO GUIDE FOR THA
10/02. PARIS COURT DROPS BUFFALO GRILL MANSLAUGHTER PROBE
10/02. BC-SHRIMP-CHINA
10/02. IMPORTED FOOD INFORMATION ONLINE
10/02. MEAT PLANT INSPECTORS SPEAK OUT; A PROBE INTO AYLMER MEAT PA
10/02. Thai Cabinet To Seek THB3.6 Billion Budget For Food Safety S
10/02. Acylamide the key
10/02. EU adopts new rules on food labeling
10/02. Australia opens $23 million poultry research facility
10/02. Cut diseases, cut costs
10/02. Compliance Rate on Ruminant Feed Ban Near 100 Percent, FDA R
10/02. FSAI submits annual report to minister
10/02. EU may start to lift GMO ban before year-end -EC
10/02. Hunting - Washington, Oregon test free of CWD
10/02. [NZ] Masterton will be boiling water for a further 11 days
10/02. Stomach bug lurks in most popular swim spots
10/02. Home is source of half of infectious intestinal illnesses, s
10/02. State: Six, not 11, people sickened by salmonella

10/01. HAZARD CHARACTERIZATION FOR PATHOGENS IN FOOD AND WATER: GUI
10/01. ASIA AND PACIFIC CONFERENCE ON FOOD SAFETY
10/01. FARMS ARE NEXT FOOD-SAFETY FRONTIER, SAYS CSPI
10/01. EU COUNTS 92 BLN EURO COST OF MAD COW CRISIS
10/01. BAD MEAT NOT ONLY SOURCE OF FOOD POISONING
10/01. Studies say solid-food timing key in diabetes
10/01. Food watchdogs 'need to be more active'
10/01. Tesco fined for out-of-date food Oct 1 2003
10/01. IFT holds 3rd International Food Safety & Quality Conference
10/01. Food Sensitivities, Allergies, and Intolerances: Separating
10/01. FDA to hold public meetings on bioterrorism act
10/01. Abattoirs Rewarded
10/01. GM debate heats up
10/01. EU crackdown on salmonella
10/01. Maize products withdrawn over health fears
10/01. School bans peanuts
10/01. Asthma 'may be linked to antibiotics in infancy'
10/01. Antibiotics Linked to Allergies and Asthma
10/01. [Japan] Over 30 more cows could still be found with BSE: panel
10/01. Irradiated beef may be coming to Maine schools
10/01. Bakery Pays Dough To People Allegedly Poisoned
10/01. Prosecutors get papers on Prima Meat
10/01. Food safety at the office
10/01. Food poisoning Web site hurt by lack of attention

09/30. AGENCY CHAIR DELIVERS WOOLDRIDGE LECTURE
09/30. FDA BUILDING NEW ANIMAL FEED SYSTEM
09/30. HCs & HCCs - WHAT ARE THEY?
09/30. BIFSCO EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETING
09/30. DON'T TASTE-TEST SUSPECT FOODS, DISCARD THEM; NUTRITION
09/30. BUGS BEWARE: CRYPTOSPORIDIUM OR GIARDIA HASN'T BEEN IN KELOW
09/30. DOG'S DEATH PROMPTS INSPECTION
09/30. Molecule Found In Meat, Milk And Tumors - Study
09/30. NEWS MEDIA AND BIOTERRORISM
09/30. NON-HUMAN MOLECULE IS ABSORBED BY EATING RED MEAT ACCORDING
09/30. EU: Commission welcomes new legislation to combat food-borne
09/30. Action on food-borne diseases
09/30. Oslo celebrates food quality
09/30. Transparency for food allergens
09/30. Tagging beef eases buyers' BSE worries
09/30. Researchers Identify Botox Receptor
09/30. Research suggests way to disarm deadly toxin
09/30. Rosh Hashana fish-cleaning warning issued

09/29. SAFETY OF FOOD PRODUCTS
09/29. ZOONOSES: COMMISSIONER DAVID BYRNE WELCOMES NEW LEGISLATION
09/29. BRITISH COWS, ITALIAN FEED SEEN AS CAUSE OF MADCOW DISEASE I
09/29. WHAT THE BUTCHER DOESN'T KNOW CAN HURT YOU
09/29. Ex-official fined for food safety violation
09/29. EUí»s food labeling on food allergens
09/29. California school district bans irradiated food

09/28. Sensus safe
09/28. Food analysis symposium
09/28. Salmonella Reshapes Host Cells to Cause Infection
09/28. Anti-indigestion pills blamed for food allergy cases
09/28. Antacid pills 'trigger allergies'

09/27. TREE NUT ORCHARDS AND FOOD SAFETY
09/27. Eat it and weep? Is 5-second rule safe?
09/27. Food [Safety] Q&A -
09/27. Pay More Than Lip Service to Food Safety
09/27. BAD FEED BELIEVED BEHIND MAD-COW DISASTER

Researchers Identify Botox Receptor
source from:
Science Daily
http://news.altavista.com/r?ck_sm= -
As doctors tout the toxin found in Botox for its ability to iron out wrinkles, calm muscle spasms and treat migraine headaches, defense agencies condemn it as a weapon that could wipe out large numbers of civilians.
While it is well known that this toxic substance can paralyze the body's muscles, including the ones that help us breathe, how it infiltrates cells to do this has not been determined. In a paper published in the Sept. 29 issue of the Journal of Cell Biology, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison answer this long-standing question. They identify a receptor - a route of entry - for the Botox toxin that could lead to improved uses of the substance in the medical field and new methods for neutralizing it in the event of biological warfare. Botulinum neurotoxin - the toxin found in Botox - is the deadliest of all substances. Produced by different strains of a family of bacteria, it comes in seven forms, four of which are reported to cause the paralyzing and potentially fatal disease of botulism. Currently, the family of bacteria that produces these toxins is listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as having the greatest potential for mass casualties if used as a biological weapon. "Botulism is an old disease," says Edwin Chapman, a UW-Madison physiology professor and senior author of the new paper. "We know how the toxins block the release of neurotransmitters from neurons, but we didn't know how they entered the neurons in the first place." Whether inhaled or injected, the deadly toxins head straight for neurons, or nerve cells. Via a binding receptor on the surface of these cells, the toxins are brought inside where they block the release of neurotransmitters, chemicals that control muscle contraction and relaxation. "The way they kill," explains Chapman, "is by inactivating the diaphragm so you no longer can draw a breath." The receptor that pulls the toxins inside the nerve cells has puzzled scientists. Chapman says researchers have known that gangliosides - a special type of lipid - and proteins work together as a receptor, but no one until now has been able to identify the specific proteins. Using a cellular model, Chapman, physiology and neuroscience graduate student Min Dong and others identified two proteins that function alongside gangliosides as the receptor for botulinum neurotoxin B - one of the four types deadly to humans. The proteins are synaptotagmin, or syt, I and II, which are found in certain types of neurons. When one of these two proteins extends itself outside the cell during a process called exocytosis, the toxin latches on and then is internalized during the process of endocytosis. To confirm that this protein and lipid pair is the actual physiological target of the toxin once it enters the body, the Wisconsin researchers set aside cell cultures and turned to a live mouse model. Working with their colleagues, Michael Goodnough and Eric Johnson in the Department of Food Microbiology and Toxicology, the researchers once again found that the toxin binds to and enters the cell via these two proteins and gangliosides. "Our study is the first to identify a receptor for one of the botulinum neurotoxins and establish its entry route," says Dong, first author of the paper. "This knowledge will improve both the medical application of the [neurotoxin] and the prevention of a [biological] threat." Knowledge of this receptor already had led to new research findings that suggest a possible antidote for the toxin. As described in the paper published September 29, Dong has developed decoys that effectively neutralize one type of the neurotoxin. Specifically, he created fragments of the syt II protein that contain the toxin's binding site. In collaboration with Goodnough and Johnson, these fragments, along with gangliosides, were injected into the bloodstream of mice recently exposed to the toxin. The researchers found that the fragments neutralized most of toxic substance; injecting the fragments one minute prior to exposure neutralized 70 to 80 percent of the toxin. As Chapman explains, "The fragments are a protective agent - a scavenger - that prevents the toxin from reaching its target." These findings, says Dong, not only confirm the results from the cell culture studies but also provide some of the first evidence that identification of the receptor could play an integral role in developing measures that counteract the bacterial toxin, thereby safeguarding human lives against exposure to the lethal poison.The fragment composed of the syt II protein is being patented by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, a non-profit agency that manages intellectual property for UW-Madison. Currently, Dong and others are working to identify receptors for the other types of botulinum neurotoxin fatal to humans.This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University Of Wisconsin-Madison.

Salmonella Reshapes Host Cells to Cause Infection

Rapid Microbiology
http://www.rapidmicrobiology.com/news/0309273.php
Salmonella bacteria infect more than a billion people each year worldwide. Rockefeller scientists have identified the mechanism by which the bacteria use a protein to hijack intestinal cells' own structural chemistry and sneak inside. Salmonella, a well-known food-borne bacterium, uses protein "staples" to restructure the shape of the gut cells it invades, forcing these cells to flow around the bacteria and engulf them, researchers at Rockefeller University have discovered
The research, published in the September 26 issue of the journal Science, provides the first detailed insight into how bacteria physically manipulate host cells at the onset of an attack. The findings may help scientists develop a more general understanding of similar strategies used by a diverse array of deadly bacteria and lead to improved drugs for fighting them. Collaborating with researchers at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, the Rockefeller team found that Salmonella injects proteins into host cells that staple together molecules of actin, the scaffolding protein that provides structure to a cell. Like welding girders to each other to construct a skyscraper, Salmonella proteins tack actin into long filaments that expand the size and change the contour of a cell so it can fold itself around the bacterium.The protein that staples actin together ?the Salmonella invasion protein A (SipA) ?is unlike any molecule found in the human body, the researchers say."No protein in our cells is quite as potent, or elegant, as SipA," says the lead author, Assistant Professor C. Erec Stebbins, Ph.D., head of the Laboratory of Structural Microbiology at Rockefeller University. "One small protein is able to go into a host cell, hijack its biochemistry and rearrange its structure. That's a powerful example of host-pathogen co-evolution.""Erec Stebbins and his colleagues have made a crucial discovery that may lead to the development of better drugs to treat this major threat to human health and well-being," says Rockefeller University's new president, Paul Nurse, Ph.D.The research helps complete the picture of what happens when Salmonella infects the human intestinal tract - which it does frequently. Worldwide Salmonella bacteria cause more than one billion new human infections each year, resulting in more than three million deaths. Most infections are due to errant consumption of food contaminated with animal feces, but because Salmonella has also been used as a biological weapon, the pathogen is classified as a food and water safety threat in biodefense by the National Institutes of Health.Stebbins and his colleagues are among the first researchers to study the intricate interactions that occur between infectious microbes and host cells at the molecular level. Using techniques adapted from biochemistry, microbial cell biology and structural biology, Stebbins is developing a library that will detail the molecular composition of proteins, known as "virulence factors," that bacteria employ to infect host cells and use its biochemical machinery to replicate. "Bacteria ranging from plant pathogens to the plague share a virulence system that is quite similar to the one Salmonella uses to gain entry into cells," he says. These bacteria use a protein "secretion system" called "type III" or "contact dependent" to inject virulence factors directly into host cells. "Bacteria have a whole armament of very sophisticated virulence proteins, and each pathogen can use these proteins in different combinations to manipulate a host cell in unique ways," says Stebbins. The system used by Salmonella, which has been described as a "molecular syringe" with a needle attached, is one of the most complex protein secretion systems discovered, Stebbins says. Once Salmonella attaches to a cell in the gut it wants to invade, it uses the syringe and needle system to inject virulence factors into the host cell. Researchers knew that SipA, one of the proteins injected into the host cell, could force actin proteins to join together into a strong filament that rearranged the cell's structure, but the way in which it did that was not known. To find the answer, the researchers used biophysical imaging techniques that produce molecular pictures of the virulence molecules: the Rockefeller scientists used X-ray crystallography to get an atomic resolution structure of SipA, and the Virginia researchers developed an electron microscopy image of SipA-actin filaments - an arrangement too large and diverse to crystallize. The two images were then combined in such a way that the scientists could superimpose the SipA structure upon the larger and less detailed electron microscopy representation, and through extensive image processing, tease apart the role that SipA plays in forming filaments. They found that SipA is shaped like a molecular staple, with a rounded middle and two extending arms that project from either side of the molecule. The middle core of the SipA molecule binds to actin and positions the long arms so that they reach about and tether together more distant actin molecules, holding the filament together. Removing the arms produced SipA proteins that lost this ability. "Actin is dynamic, and can be floating as free molecules in the cell or in small chains. SipA drives all the actin to link together and form a lot of scaffolding underneath the attached bacterium," Stebbins says. By building the actin girders, SipA forces the host cell to expand into a shape that resembles curtain ruffles, which then surrounds the bacterium. Through a process called macropinocytosis Salmonella is taken inside the host cell and replicates itself to spread the infection. "Salmonella is very well adapted, and quite sophisticated," Stebbins says. "It induces its own uptake into a host cell, but once inside, it sends out proteins that turn off the effects induced by SipA and other virulence factors." Findings from the study will allow researchers to probe how other bacteria use virulence factors similar to SipA to change te shape of cells they infect. "While SipA is specific to Salmonella, many bacterial pathogens use their own virulence proteins to manipulate actin in the cytoplasm," Stebbins says. "What we have learned about Salmonella is a first step in a coming molecular understanding of similar processes in many bacteria. This field of study is really coming of age."

Defining how pathogens invade human cells may ultimately aid in the design of novel antibiotics, which is increasingly important given the rise of antibiotic resistance, Stebbins says.The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and a Burroughs-Welcome Investigators in Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease award to Stebbins. The first author is Mirjana Lilic, Ph.D., of Rockefeller University, and co-authors at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center include: Vitold E. Galkin, Ph.D., Albina Orlova, Margaret S. VanLoock, and Edward H. Egelman, Ph.D.

At least 22 fall ill after Liuna Gala; Hamilton health officials are investigating outbreak of gastro-intestinal illness
October 2, 2003
The Spectator
A4
John Burman
Hamilton, Ontario health officials are, according to this story, investigating an outbreak of gastro- intestinal illness among at least 22 people who attended or worked at a gala YWCA fundraising dinner at Liuna Station Friday night.
Dr. Monir Taha, Hamilton's associate Medical Officer of Health, was cited as saying the investigation began Tuesday afternoon although no conclusions have been drawn as to what caused people to become ill with abdominal symptoms.
The story explains that about 375 guests attended the gala and about 40 Liuna staff worked at the event.
Guests and two Liuna staff members who became ill felt symptoms within 12 to 24 hours of the dinner.
Taha said the banquet and convention hall on James Street North is co- operating fully with the investigation.
Ricardo Persi, executive director of Liuna Station, was cited as saying the banquet hall notified the city's health protection branch as soon as it received the first e-mail reports of illness from event organizers at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Organizers had heard from about 20 people.Staff were also directed to put together a list of suppliers Liuna Station received food from for the dinner, which was cooked in the banquet hall's own kitchen.Persi said nothing on the menu, which included pumpkin soup, chicken Kiev, vegetables and dessert, was precooked from outside.