Editor: D.H. Kang
Dept. FSHN
Washington State Univ.

7/29/2002
Issue 9

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07/25. Company offers food makers a quick screen test

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07/18. U OF G RESEARCHERS TESTING E. COLI O157 VACCINE FOR CATTLE

Interesting Food Safety News

LISTERIOSIS RECALLS AND DEATHS
http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36%257E53%257E759303%257E,00.html
The most extensive listeriosis outbreak in the U.S. occurred in June 1985 when 48 people died after eating cheese made by Jalisco Mexican Products Inc. of Artesia, Calif., a Los Angeles suburb. Most of the 142 people who fell ill or died were Hispanic infants or pregnant women in Southern California, although cases were reported as far away as Texas. The listeria had spread through faulty pasteurization equipment. Among other serious outbreaks:1983 - In Massachusetts, 49 people suffered illness and 14 of them died because of improperly pasteurized milk. The outbreak spurred federal officials to more actively investigate the chances of dangerous organisms surviving the pasteurization process. Another outbreak of listeriosis hit Massachusetts in 1979, when 20 people got sick and five people died after consuming tainted raw vegetables.1992 - An outbreak of listeriosis sickened eight people in southern Westchester County, N.Y. Two of the people died, but officials do not know to what extent other medical problems may have caused their deaths. 1998 - A Sara Lee food processing plant in Michigan recalled 35 million pounds of hot dogs, including Ball Park franks, and lunch meats because of contamination with listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Meats from the plant were eventually linked by genetic fingerprinting to a nationwide outbreak of listeriosis that killed 21 people, caused six miscarriages and seriously sickened 80 people. Sara Lee pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor federal charge of selling adulterated meat. As part of the settlement, the company paid a $200,000 fine - the maximum for a corporation.That same year, Hormel recalled all packages of its Quick Meal frozen hamburgers. A week later, Winn-Dixie announced it was recalling two days' production of its Madison and WD brand sliced luncheon meats because of fears of listeriosis contamination. Following that, B&B Meat & Sausage Co. in Bellingham, Wash., voluntarily recalled its Hempler's brand franks and knockwurst for possible contamination.1999 - Thousands of tainted chicken burritos made by a division of Tyson Foods Inc. were recalled because of listeria. The recall affected about 78,000 burritos supplied to American Airlines at the end of 1998.

ConAgra resold rejected meat
Firm ignored claims it contained listeria
By David Migoya
Denver Post Staff Writer http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36%257E53%257E759303%257E,00.html
Sunday, July 28, 2002 - ConAgra executives knowingly resold about 80 tons of meat in 2000 that South Korean customs agents had quarantined because they said it contained listeria, a potentially lethal bacteria.
The details
Rather than destroy the frozen meat or cook it to kill pathogens, executives at one of the world's largest food conglomerates sold it to other countries with lower standards than South Korea's - including the United States, according to corporate e-mails between Con-Agra and executives at its Monfort Inc. subsidiary.The company e-mails, part of a trademark court case in Los Angeles, trace the worldwide journey of the beef, from its quarantine in May 2000 to its eventual sale four months later to buyers in Hong Kong, Guam, Hawaii and California. ConAgra never told the new buyers of the South Korean listeria finding, court records show.The first e-mail informing a ConAgra official about the listeria issue, dated May 15, 2000, was titled: "bacteria - THIS COULD BE A PROBLEM."Industry officials - including ConAgra's - have publicly said they won't intentionally sell meat containing a pathogen. A ConAgra spokesman said last week the company did nothing wrong or illegal."What we did was perfectly appropriate," spokesman Jim Herlihy said, noting that South Korea later stopped testing for listeria on imported meat.In the e-mails reviewed by The Denver Post, ConAgra executives expressed no doubts about the listeria finding. But in reality, Herlihy said, company officials didn't believe it. Therefore, he said, the company never tested the meat itself.Customs agents denied Con-Agra's request for the test results, he said."This was often a political game, where testing of foreign meat was a matter of international politics rather than anything to do with a set testing policy," Herlihy said.The South Koreans were only trying to lower the price of imported American beef, he said."In the discussions with customers and negotiations with Korean customers, from time to time unrelated charges are used as negotiations tools," he said. "This was one of those times."ConAgra's decision to resell the meat shows how companies take advantage of U.S. regulations while rules in other countries are more stringent, according to several food-safety advocacy groups."Once the company knows the meat is contaminated, they should process it to make it safe before they sell it," said Caroline Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, D.C. "Otherwise they're attempting to get one over on their customers, and it puts consumers at risk."Herlihy noted that it's legal to sell raw meat with listeria. U.S. Department of griculture regulations don't prohibit the practice. The department doesn't even test for the pathogen on raw meat, only on cooked products such as deli meats. USDA rules say normal cooking will kill it. Hong Kong is a free-trade market and Guam is an American territory, so U.S. rules for meat inspections and certifications are used there."There are neither USDA nor international standards related to testing of uncooked meat products for listeria, only in cooked products," Herlihy said.ConAgra last week recalled 18.6 million pounds of beef produced at its slaughterhouse in Greeley, the second largest recall in history, because of possible E. coli contamination.The listeria-related e-mails cover a period between May and July 2000. They are part of a California court case filed by Monfort and ConAgra against an exporter of their products they said violated the companies' trademarks in South Korea.ConAgra officials were informed they could sell the meat in South Korea if labels disclosed the listeria and warned that the meat should not be eaten raw, a common practice in Asian countries with some beef cuts.South Korean meat-buyers warned ConAgra executives that business would suffer if the company used the listeria labels.The South Korean government is "hushing up this matter, not to let the mass of people and the press know," Daniel Jeong, one of the company's importers in South Korea, e-mailed in June 2000."If they distribute them to the market and the press know . . . our market will be frozen hard, at least about three months from now, just before high-demand season."That season is Chuseok, an important national holiday similar to Thanksgiving in the United States. Jeong could not be reached. ConAgra senior vice president Mark Gustafson wrote in May 2000 that the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service "feels that in this case the Koreans acted responsibly in not announcing to the press ... or taking action against the ConAgra brand." Earlier this year, Herlihy said ConAgra would "withhold any product from sale if it was discovered that it had any pathogen of any kind." That was in reaction to a Milwaukee court ruling that backed USDA regulations allowing companies to sell whole meat that contains E. coli.Herlihy said the company's actions in South Korea did not contradict that policy because "Con-Agra did not believe the meat contained the pathogen listeria."The Milwaukee County Court ruling in May dismissed a liability lawsuit against ConAgra competitor Excel Inc. in Fort Morgan. Excel's meat was blamed as the source of an E. coli outbreak in 2000 that killed a girl and sickened dozens of other people.With the ConAgra beef, there were no reports of illnesses.The saga began in May 2000 when South Korea stopped five shipments of short ribs, a popular cut of meat there, saying the meat tested positive for listeria, according to the e-mails.The meat originated at Monfort's plant in Dumas, Texas. ConAgra officials told South Korean officials the meat should be allowed in because listeria was "not an issue in raw meat in the US," the e-mails show.The listeria was "detected by the quarantine station in Korea's routine sampling program," Con-Agra's Gustafson wrote to executives on May 16, 2000."All U.S. beef is subjected to this sampling. The Koreans insist that since USDA has issued a sampling program for pathogens (E. coli), it is acceptable for them to test for listeria."Korean officials ordered the meat returned to the U.S. or burned, according to an e-mail from Allen Oh, a ConAgra buyer in South Korea. Oh suggested an alternative: "The load should be sent back to U.S. or should be sold to another country."Company officials discussed what to do."The options are, bring the products back to the U.S. . . . (or) resell the products to another market, Hong Kong or China, not Japan or Taiwan," Gustafson e-mailed Warren Mirtsching, ConAgra's vice president for quality assurance and food safety, and David Levine, executive vice president of the Monfort brand."If the products were returned to the U.S., I would propose that we sell to ConAgra Beef, distribution for Korean restaurants in the L.A. area and in Hawaii," Gustafson wrote.One of Gustafson's e-mails detailed the economics of each option, noting that the company would lose less money by selling the meat in Asia rather than bringing it back to the U.S. He calculated that the meat was worth about $2.30 a pound in Hong Kong, more than $350,000."Is there anyway (sic) you can take these loads and process them at your plant and just marinate them and sell them?" Mitch Harber, ConAgra's director of overseas meat sales, e-mailed Joeng on June 30.The buyer replied that ConAgra would have to tell consumers about the listeria if the meat stayed in Korea."If we take to marinate them and sell them, the matter will be more serious because we also have to sell them showing" a warning notice, Joeng wrote.When a buyer in Hong Kong wanted some of the meat, Harber was reluctant."If we ship them over from Korea, it could well be an issue of the listeria in Hong Kong since they were rejected in Korea," Harber wrote several ConAgra executives. "I would prefer to ship them back to the states and start over."In a deposition from the Los Angeles case, Harber said ConAgra never disclosed the listeria finding to buyers in Guam, Hong Kong and the two American states."There's no disclosure needed," Harber testified. "USDA doesn't test for listeria in the United States. It's a nonissue in America."Consumer groups said ConAgra shouldn't hide behind the USDA."There's the consideration that you owe your customers and other human beings something above the law," said Carol Tucker Foreman, a former USDA official and director of the Consumer Federation of America's Food Policy Institute. "Sometimes you just do what's right, and companies don't seem to want to do that anymore." David Migoya can be reached at dmigoya@denverpost.com or 303-820-1506.

CRUELTY AND DANGERS OF LIVE-FOOD MARKETS
July 27, 2002
LATimes
http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/california/la-le-
tellem27jul27.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2Dpe%2Dcalifornia
Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson of American Tortoise Rescue write
regarding "Culinary Tradition Poses a Health Risk in Hong Kong," July 21, to
say that the Times is reporting a story about the hazards of live-food
markets in Hong Kong, while live markets flourish right here in downtown
L.A. For more than five years the authors have begged everyone from the Health
Department and the Department of Fish and Game to the SPCA's Los Angeles
chapter and local politicians to close these filthy, cruel markets in L.A.
and San Francisco. They have shown gruesome videos and presented scientific
evidence about the bacteria inside and outside of the chickens, fish, toads,
turtles and rabbits being sold. Yet existing laws are not being enforced
that would protect animals from harm and humans from the public health
hazards. Law enforcement and politicians, with the exception of state Sen. Sheila
Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), have turned the other way. While in the Assembly,
Kuehl introduced AB 2479 to protect the animals from the cruelty they suffer
in live markets, including no food, no water, no shade and a horrible
slaughter. This law was passed, but not only is it not being enforced, it is
being scoffed at. Take a trip to Chinatown in L.A. Check out the chickens squashed in tiny cages, the frogs in filthy water, the turtles upside down, all awaiting
death just so someone can enjoy a tasty bacteria-filled meal.

Foodborne OUTBREAKS COLLECTIONS
07/29. OYSTERS SOLD IN D.C. SUSPECTED IN DEATHS
07/29. Virus leaves church campers violently ill
07/28. Church camp hit by E. coli
07/26. METHEMOGLOBINEMIA FOLLOWING INGESTION OF SODIUM NITRITE
07/26. MULTISTATE OUTBREAK OF ESCHERICHIA COLI O157:H7 INFECTIONS A
07/26. STOMACH VIRUS SICKENS 170 ABOARD CRUISE SHIP
07/26. VIRUS HITS KIDS' CAMP
07/26. VIOLENT ILLNESS SPREADS FROM NOVA SCOTIA CAMPERS TO THEIR PA
07/26. Tourists felled by tummy bug
07/26. Health inspectors can't trace salmonella source

Food Safety Daily News
07/29. Experts See Little Effect on ConAgra
07/29. CRUELTY AND DANGERS OF LIVE-FOOD MARKETS
07/29. DEMOCRATS SAY SLOW RECALL OF MEAT THREATENED CONSUMERS
07/29. RECORD REGISTRATION FOR IAFP 2002
07/29. EDIBLE FILM CONTROLS GROWTH OF BACTERIA ON CHICKEN
07/29. SEEING THE LIGHT IN KILLING BACTERIA AND VIRUSES
07/29. BI-LO ASKS CUSTOMERS TO CHECK FREEZERS
07/29. Safeway halts ConAgra beef purchases; processor defends food
07/29. Lawsuit against Excel over Sizzler case thrown out in
07/29. LISTERIOSIS RECALLS AND DEATHS HISTORY
07/28. ConAgra resold rejected meat
07/28. Tests show some private wells contaminated since flooding
07/28. Beach bacteria study approved
07/27. U.S. food safety bill to be named for Bucks' grandson
07/27. Lawmakers question delay in recall of contaminated beef
07/27. Kava kava importers face jail
07/26. IRRADIATION COULD ENHANCE MEAT SAFETY BUT LACKS APPEAL
07/26. MANDATORY RECALL LEGISLATION INTRODUCED IN CONGRESS
07/26. WATCHDOG GROUPS CALL FOR CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATION INTO CO
07/26. CDC SAYS ILLNESSES FROM TAINTED BEEF COULD RISE
07/26. CUSTOMERS SUE RESTAURANT OVER SALMONELLA POISONING
07/26. A GRILLING ABOUT HANDWASHING; IN SUMMER WASH THE FOOD, COOK
07/26. Mad Cow Disease Slowed, But Still A Concern
07/26. German farms given all-clear following scare over hormone-co
07/26. EC proposes new rules for controls on food of animal origin
07/26. COMMENTARY: ConAgra recall exposes worst in consumer group ignorance of industry
07/26. Take a bite out of food allergies
07/26. E. coli outbreak has stores asking consumers to return beef
07/26. Recalled meat fed to inmates
07/26. Summer Danger: E. Coli
07/26. Panel faults EPA's review of dangerous pesticides
07/26. IOM picks supplements for evaluation programme
07/26. Dietary aids sent to FDA for product evaluation
07/26. City changes tack on restaurant inspections
07/26. Illegal pork in Scotland?
07/26. FDA advisers urge pregnant women to limit tuna intake


USDA/FDA NEWS
For full information, click on
Integrating Accountability To Build A Safer Meat Supply
FSIS Constituent Update: July 26, 2002
OPPDE What's New Page: Updated July 26, 2002
ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN IN ESTABLISHMENTS SUBJECT TO SALMONELLA TESTING
Thinking Globally - Working Locally: A Conference on Food Safety Education: Updated July 24, 2002
September is National Food Safety Education Month!
Food Biotechnology Subcommittee of the Food Advisory Committee
Veneman Names Dr. Garry L. McKee As Administrator Of Food Safety And Inspection Service
Infant Formula Recall Regulations

Recall Summary
07/29. Giant Food recalls ground beef for E.coli
07/29. Pennsylvania Establishment Has Recalled Sausage Products July 29
07/28. Wilson Beef Farms Has Recalled 100 pounds of Hot Dogs July 26
07/27. Pennsylvania Establishment Recalls Sausage Products
07/26. Local grocer part of voluntary recall of certain beef produc
07/25. Undeclared sulphites in GOLDEN GRAIN SUPER FOOD brand dried potatoes
07/25. Ohio Firm Has Recalled Sausage July 25
07/25. Nature's Way Has Recalled Nettle capsules July 24
07/25. Plantain Products Has Recalled Plantain and Cassava chips July 24
07/25. William's Candy Has Recalled Chocolate Covered Orange Peel July 24

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