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The rabbit as a new reservoir host of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli
December 2003
CDC ?Emerging Infectious Diseases Vol 9, No 12
Alexis Garc?* and James G. Fox*
*Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Suggested citation for this article: Garcia A, Fox JG. The rabbit as new reservoir host of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli. Emerg Infect Dis [serial online] Dec 2003 [date cited]. Available from: URL: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol9no12/03-0223.htm
We investigated the prevalence of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) in rabbits acquired from two commercial vendors and a local petting zoo. Fecal samples from 34 Dutch Belted (DB) and 15 New Zealand White (NZW) rabbits were cultured; and isolates were biotyped, serotyped, tested by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and genotyped by repetitive-element sequence–based PCR (Rep-PCR). Seven (25%) of 28 DB rabbits acquired from one commercial source were positive for EHEC, including O153:H- and O153:H7. One of 11 NZW rabbits from the same source was positive for eae-, stx1+ O153 strains. In contrast, six DB rabbits from another commercial source and four rabbits from a petting zoo were negative for EHEC. Rep-PCR demonstrated that the O153 EHEC and O145 enteropathogenic E. coli were two distinct clones. Our study indicates that rabbits are a new reservoir host of EHEC that may pose a zoonotic risk for humans.

Menus in county will warn of raw food risks

By Karen Roebuck
Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Pittsburgh Live


A new menu item will appear next year at Allegheny County restaurants -- a warning about the dangers of raw or undercooked foods.
The Allegheny County Health Department will phase in a regulation requiring restaurants to include a warning on menus that raw or undercooked meats, poultry, shellfish, milk and eggs carry the risk of food-borne illnesses, said spokesman Guillermo Cole.

Department officials are discussing whether to extend that warning to raw or undercooked vegetables because of the Beaver County hepatitis A outbreak, he said. The outbreak, linked to contaminated green onions, has killed three of the 615 infected people who ate or worked at the Chi-Chi's Mexican Restaurant in the Beaver Valley Mall.

Cole said the county's warning about raw and undercooked animal products was adopted several years ago and is not a response to the Beaver County outbreak

New food and drug administration requirements will affect food mailed to the United States
November 27, 2003
From a press release
OTTAWA - Canada Post today announced that the United States Government has added new regulations to their Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness Act regarding food articles exported to the U.S.A.
Effective December 12, 2003 Prior Notice is required for every food type shipment for consumption in the United States. All food type shipments, regardless of value, sold or sent as a gift, will require a United States Customs entry Prior Notice and approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before the item leaves Canada. Any food type package sent to the U.S.A. that does not have the pre-approved FDA label attached will be returned to sender at the sender's expense.
Excluded from the Prior Notice rule is food made by an individual in his/her personal residence and sent by that individual as a personal gift to an individual in the U.S.A.
Questions regarding these new U.S. government regulations should be directed to the FDA in the United States at (301) 575-0156 or the FDA website at www.fda.gov.
For further information: Media Relations, Ottawa, (613) 734-8888

FDA and CDC post new Listeria action plan

IFT Daily News


12/01/2003-The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reviewed ongoing L. monocytogenes prevention and control activities and have developed an action plan, which includes activities targeted at the serious problem of L. monocytogenes caused illness. This Action Plan complements the work of the Risk Assessment, focusing on certain ready-to-eat foods that can potentially become contaminated with L. monocytogenes. This revised plan updates the FDA and CDC components of the Action Plan (Joint Response to the President: Reducing the Risk of L. monocytogenes) that was previously released in January 2001. The modifications in the plan have been undertaken, in part, to reflect the 2003 updating of the Risk Assessment. This plan seeks to reduce significantly the risk of illness and death caused by L. monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods with consideration of control measures for at-risk foods. For more information, see www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/lmr2plan.html.

Pressurized oysters may boost industry
Deadly bacteria is eliminated, study says
Monday December 01, 2003
By Aaron Kuriloff
St. Bernard/Plaquemines bureau
The Times-Picayune
A Louisiana man's invention that shucks raw oysters also successfully eliminates a potentially deadly bacteria that humans can get from consuming shellfish, a new study shows. Louisiana oyster industry officials hope the new data can help answer charges that raw oysters are dangerous, especially in California, which last year banned nontreated Gulf of Mexico oysters harvested between April and October a move that has cost local producers an estimated $20 million. The hydrostatic high-pressure process, invented in 1997 by Ernie Voisin of Houma, places live oysters under pressures of more than 30,000 pounds per square inch for three minutes, which pops open their shells and kills Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a naturally occurring pathogen related to the cholera bacteria that can cause food poisoning, particularly in those with weakened immune systems, researchers at Oregon State University found.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus, more commonly a concern in oysters from the West Coast than those from Louisiana, is the latest food-born pathogen proven susceptible to Voisin's high-pressure process. Louisiana scientists already have found post-harvest pressure treatment eliminates e-coli and Vibrio vulnificus, a related bacteria that can be deadly.

A mechanical oyster shucker, which replaces the laborious and costly hand-shucking still practiced almost everywhere, has eluded the industry for centuries. That Voisin's process also kills the most common oyster contaminants means it is "the most significant development in the oyster industry in the past 100 years," said Michael Morrissey, director of Oregon's Seafood Lab in Astoria and a scientist involved in the study.

"What high pressure does is really cause minimal alteration of the meat," Morrissey said. "Because pressure is equalized throughout the organism, it kills off the bacteria but does little damage to the meat itself."

If the FDA agrees with Morrissey's study, he said, oyster producers who use pressure treating methods can begin to advertise their product as free of all vibrio bacteria. State officials already have certified that pressure-treated oysters contain "nondetectible" levels of bacteria. That's good news for consumers -- especially for those with hepatitis, liver dysfunction, HIV, diabetes or other immune system-weakening health problems that make them particularly vulnerable to such contaminants.

Skyrocketing demand

It's also good news to oyster producers, who have seen demand for treated oysters skyrocket, said Mike Voisin, Ernie Voisin's son and chairman of Louisiana's Oyster Task Force.

In banning Gulf of Mexico oysters last year, California health officials said vibrio poisoning has sickened an estimated 75 people and killed 48 in the state since 1993. That sparked a war of words with local oyster producers, who argued the risks of eating raw oysters are small compared with other foods and followed with a lawsuit claiming unfair trade practices.

The state of California, however, has allowed Voisin's treated oysters, along with those from the AmeriPure Processing Co. in Franklin which has patented a low-heat pasteurization to remain on California grocery shelves year-round.

While many oyster growers, including Voisin, continue to argue that educating vulnerable consumers would be more effective at preventing disease than any processing technique, post-harvest treatments have been an unquestionable boon to the industry. Treated oysters now account for about 20 percent of the national market.

Not that treating oysters isn't without drawbacks.

Costly process

The price tag for high-pressure machinery can run more than $1 million, and the process can double consumers' cost-per-dozen. Though the FDA has certified that pressure kills bacteria, researchers are still checking to make sure the treatment works on viruses and other contaminants. That research could take some time.

Nonetheless, Voisin said he is getting interest in high-pressure processing from as far away as Australia.

"We've had thousands of people come through the plant from all over the world," he said of his family's company, Motivitat Seafood. "The most amazing thing is it happened in Houma, Louisiana. This little Cajun boy, my dad, comes up with an idea, says let's see if we can make this work, and it does."

Hepatitis Outbreak Puts Heat on FDA
Associated Press

Macon Telegraph


PITTSBURGH - A rising number of produce-related illnesses, including a hepatitis A outbreak last month at a Chi-Chi's Mexican restaurant, suggests problems with the Food and Drug Administration's ability to regulate growers, an advocacy group says.

There were 76 food-borne illness outbreaks stemming from produce in 2000, causing a total of 3,981 illnesses, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group. In 1997, there were just 29 similar outbreaks with 2,449 illnesses.

"I think, clearly, FDA, given its current budget and focus on bioterrorism over the last few years, has really been unable to reverse this," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety for the center. "Fruits and vegetables are a growing cause of food poisoning outbreaks."

Produce associations, however, said the rising number of produce-related outbreaks is misleading, because many contamination cases can stem from restaurant workers, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in Sunday's editions.

The FDA argues the rise also reflects a growing demand for fresh produce and improved detection of problems.

Contaminated produce is just part of the country's food-borne disease problem, which causes approximately 76 million illnesses and 5,000 deaths each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Pennsylvania, health officials reported that 615 hepatitis A cases, including three deaths, were linked to contaminated green onions grown in Mexico and served at a Chi-Chi's restaurant about 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. The CDC also blamed green onions, or scallions, from Mexico for smaller outbreaks in Tennessee and Georgia.

The increase in produce-related outbreaks is particularly troubling because the FDA found fewer contamination problems with domestic produce, said Carol Tucker Foreman, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America.

Water used on farms in some other countries isn't as clean as on U.S. farms, Foreman said.

But the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas says FDA regulation of foreign farms is already tougher than domestic growers because they are nine times as likely to be inspected.

Is irradiation rational?


- 27/11/2003 - In the US, consumer bodies the Public Citizen and the Center for Food Safety have petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban irradiated ground beef.

Included in their petition were the results of recent lab tests conducted at the request of the two groups that detected chemicals linked to cancer promotion and genetic damage in irradiated ground beef sold at a restaurant and three grocery stores. The test findings are contained in a report released this week entitled What's in the Beef?
This marks the first time since the FDA began regulating irradiated foods in 1958 that the agency has been petitioned to ban an irradiated food product. Legalised in 1997, irradiated ground beef is reportedly on sale at more than 5,000 grocery stores and restaurants in the United States. The federal government recently lifted its ban on serving irradiated hamburgers to schoolchildren.

"If you're going to permit irradiated meat on grocery store shelves and school lunch trays, you need to be certain that the product is safe - and no study has been able to adequately demonstrate that long-term health won't be affected," said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen's critical mass energy and environment programme. "The FDA has the responsibility to keep these potentially hazardous products off the market."

Added Andrew Kimbrell, director of the Center for Food Safety said: "Given the new toxicity questions, our children simply should not be fed irradiated hamburgers in school. Allowing our national school lunch program to distribute this irradiated meat would be to use 27 million children as unknowing guinea pigs to test the safety of these products."

The two groups purchased and tested three types of irradiated ground beef. Samples of fresh ground beef and cooked ground beef were irradiated with an electron-beam irradiator by food technology firm SureBeam, while frozen ground beef patties were irradiated with a gamma-ray irradiator by Food Technology Service.

According to the two organisations, all three types of irradiated ground beef tested positive for 2-alkylcyclobutanones, or 2-ACBs, which are formed when commonly occurring fats are exposed to radiation. Both bodies claim that these chemicals have never been detected in any non-irradiated foods. In the tests, cooking the irradiated beef in a skillet until it was brown on both sides generally reduced the amount of 2-ACBs but did not eliminate the chemicals. Again, it is claimed that no 2-ACBs were detected in non-irradiated ground beef samples, whether raw or cooked.

This issue has awoken concerns in the European Union. Recent experiments funded by the EU determined that 2-ACBs promoted the growth of colon tumors in rats and caused genetic damage in human cells. In addition to raw and cooked ground beef, 2-ACBs have been detected in other foods that the FDA has legalised for irradiation, including chicken, eggs and mangoes.

"Consumption of an improper diet, together with food that contains 2-ACBs, which act as a tumor promoter, can increase the risk for the development of colon cancer," said Professor William Au of the department of preventive medicine at the University of Texas. "Without a systematic investigation in the population, this serious concern has not been addressed yet."

However, this view is not shared by everyone. Advocates of irradiation claim that the process makes food safer by elminating harmful bacteria. "Dangerous substances do not appear in foods when irradiated as approved,?says a statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Surebeam’s website. “This is clearly shown by extensive studies on the effects of irradiation on food, and on the animals and people eating irradiated food."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 76 million Americans suffer illnesses from food-borne diseases leading to 325,000 hospitalizations and more than 5,000 deaths annually.

The Grocery Manufacturing Association's director of scientific and nutrition policy, Lisa Katic, also believes that feasrs over irradiation are overplayed. "Acceptance of milk pasteurisation was long delayed because of fear mongering and misinformation,?she said. “We should not let that happen with food irradiation."

The report on 2-ACBs from Public Citizen and the Center for Food Safety has been released as part of an international effort to raise public awareness of food irradiation. A network of consumer, public interest and citizen groups is holding a series of educational events, rallies and protests this week to recognise the global impacts of food irradiation.

Cruise hit by illness
November 30, 2003
The London Free Press
Carnival Cruises and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were cited as saying yesterday that dozens of passengers came down with a stomach illness during an eight-day cruise on the Carnival Cruise Lines ship Legend, which returned to port yesterday.
The illness was believed to have been caused by a Norovirus, a family of highly contagious viruses.
Seventy-three of 2,378 passengers and four of 913 crew members were reported sick aboard the Legend, which returned to Port Everglades, Fla., after a southern Caribbean trip. The ship departed as scheduled for a trip to the western Caribbean.

E. coli outbreak in Ohio linked to sawdust in the air at county fair

Chicago-AP -- Researchers say they have found the first instance of people getting a food poisoning bacteria from a contaminated building. At least 19 people who had gone to a county fair in Ohio in 2001 fell ill with E. coli after the bacteria apparently spread through sawdust. Testing found bacteria in the building as late as ten months after the fair.Tainted food is the most common source of E. coli outbreaks. But people also can become infected from animal or human feces. The building had been used to exhibit animals. Hand washing is usually the best defense against E. coli, but it might not have worked in this case.The lead researcher is at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study is in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Unique new on-line method to detect foreign materials in food
November 2003
?esund Food Excellence
Swedish Food Radar System has filed patents for a new technology for detection of most kinds of foreign bodies in foods. “Foreign bodies?refer to all solid materials, such as glass, wood, plastic, bone, shells, rubber, cartilage, seed and metal. Hitherto it has only been possible to detect metals. The new technology is a breakthrough for online quality control of food products and stems from the markets demand on cost-effective methods to detect foreign bodies in liquid and dry large volumes as well as in packed foods.
Foreign bodies are detected in embedding material by transmitting low power microwaves through the material. The transmitted microwaves are detected in such a way that the damping and the runtime of the microwaves are available as measurement data. Traditionally only far field responses are used in radar systems. Using near fields makes it possible to detect very small objects. Traditional radar can detect objects that are around 5 cm in air or 1.5 cm in water. The nearfield microwave radar can detect objects in the size of 2 ?3 mm.
The inventors, Mikael Reimers and Harald Merkel, have since 1998 conducted a development project together with SIK, the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology. A company, Food Radar Systems AB, to commercialise the innovation has been formed by the inventors, Chalmersinvest (Chalmers University of Technology) and SIK.

New World-Wide References for RAPID?L. mono Listeria Agar


RAPID' L. mono agar, developed by Bio-Rad Laboratories, is a chromogenic medium that will clearly differentiate L. monocytogenes from L. ivanovii and other Listeria species by a simple color change reaction, within 24 hours after pre-enrichment.

Identification is based on the specific detection of phosphatidylinositol phospholipase C (PIPLC) activity, resulting in a blue colony, and the inability of L. monocytogenes to metabolize xylose, resulting in the absence of a yellow halo.

RAPID?L. mono agar has been approved by AFNOR, AOAC, MFHPB(Canada) and has been submitted for NordVal approval. This chromogenic medium is also recommended by FDA/BAM.

Microbiologist aims to find vaccine for bacteria

The Associated Press - AUGUSTA, Ga.


Aided by a $1.7 million grant, a Medical College of Georgia microbiologist is working on a way to eliminate a common pest that sickens people an estimated 2.4 million times a year.

The bacteria known as Campylobacter is the most common cause of gastroenteritis and can cause severe diarrhea, cramping and fever lasting for days. It can be especially dangerous in the elderly and young children, and an estimated 124 people die from the bacteria each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Yet few people have heard of it, said Dr. Stuart Thompson, who received the grant to study a strain called Campylobacter jejuni.

I ask people at seminars, Whos heard of salmonella? Everybody raises their hands, he said. Then I ask, Whos heard of Campylobacter? Maybe one in 10.

Yet 30 to 100 percent of chickens taken from grocery stores tested positive for the bacteria, which has evolved over time to become well adapted to living in poultry, Thompson said.

Theyre just a host, he said. Theyre totally asymptomatic. It just lives in their guts and doesnt hurt them at all.

Temperature may be the reason humans become ill. Chickens have an average body temperature of 107 degrees, much higher than humans.

Thompson cultured two samples of bacteria, one at chicken temperature and one at human temperature, and then ran the samples through equipment at the Medical College of Georgia. The resulting red and green dots on the screen showed unknown proteins at human temperature, which might be how the bacteria is sickening people, Thompson said.

Those proteins and others also are part of a patent Thompson is applying for that would form the basis of a vaccine.

Thompson said having a vaccine for the bug could prove a boon, particularly for soldiers and sailors.

The military has a big problem when theyre deployed overseas. Especially certain places, such as Thailand, he said. Kids from six months on are being infected with Campylobacter over and over and over and over. So by the time that theyre 6 or 8 or 10 years old, theyve seen everything there is and theyre immune to everything.

A vaccine also would be useful if terrorists decide to repeat an incident from the 1980s in Washington where a religious sect seeking to influence a local election cultured salmonella and used spray bottles to spread it around salad bars, sickening more than 750 people, Thompson said.

Thompson said he once bought six chickens at random from local stores and was able to grow the bacteria from two of them.

If you know what youre doing, its very easy to get stocks and to grow up large quantities of it, he said.

IDEXX Laboratories Launches Diagnostic Kit for Chronic Wasting Disease


IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. have announced that it has received USDA approval for the sale of its IDEXX HerdChek?Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Antigen Test Kit.

"We're pleased to offer a second-generation product that sets a new standard with its combination of performance and ease of use," said Dr. Quentin Tonelli, Corporate Vice President.

The IDEXX HerdChek CWD Test Kit utilizes a novel Seprion ligand capture technology licensed from Microsens Biotechnologies that allows for a greatly simplified procedure compared to existing products on the market. Laboratory personnel simply need to homogenize the sample, dilute an aliquot and run the assay. There is no need for additional equipment, the test is performed at room temperature and results are available in less than 3.5 hours.

The new microtiter strip plate package with five plates and 460 tests is available for sale to approved laboratories on December 1.

IDEXX also have acquired the licence for Microsens Biotechnologies Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE) detection technologies enabling them to develop and commericalise the next generation of diagnostics for the detection of TSE. Trials have already shown Seprion to offer extremely high selectivity for the capture of the abnormal form of the prion protein (PrPres). The Japanese company Sanko Junyaku Co. Ltd has the exclusive use of Seprion within Japan.

Listeria Monocytogenes Risk Management Action Plan; Availability

Reducing the Risk of Listeria monocytogenes FDA/CDC 2003 Update of the Listeria Action Plan

Current Food Safety Informaiton
12/03. Open Board Meeting December 11, 2003
12/03. United States: Warehouse manager knew about rats
12/03. Ontario's public health units not properly inspecting food p
12/03. CFSAN 2003 program priorities report card
12/03. Drinking water: Experts¡¯ views on how future federal funding
12/03. Meat Hygiene Directives for 2003
12/03. FDA, US Customs Agency To Join On Inspecting Food Imports
12/03. Complaints from public about food safety 'doubled'
12/03. Hormone-charged debate
12/03. Salmonella in sprouts and safety in Europe
12/03. WHO to investigate kava ban
12/03. No-peanut zone
12/03. Taking stock
12/03. Consumers warned about alfalfa sprouts
12/03. Menus in county will warn of raw food risks
12/03. Health department cracking down on open house food
12/03. Warren County draws nearer a health ordinance
12/03. Policing our food

12/02. Pesky pests
12/02. Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis, Japan
12/02. Salmonella in Denmark
12/02. The rabbit as a new reservoir host of enterohemorrhagic Esch
12/02. Alberta livestock industry moves forward on food safety
12/02. World sneezes; U.S. diners get sick
12/02. Smiths Falls meat plant fined
12/02. Meat packer had prior violations: Broke rules on cattle slau
12/02. New food and drug administration requirements will affect fo

12/01. China takes measures to improve food safety
12/01. Florida agency criticized
12/01. October restaurant closures
12/01. A Taste For Raw Milk In The Dairy State
12/01. Safety Of Food From Clones Under Debate
12/01. Mexico Exporters Probed on Hepatitis
12/01. FDA¡¯s food counterterrorism activities

11/30. FDA and CDC post new Listeria action plan
11/30. Namibia Halts Meat Exports
11/30. Relying of Traceability
11/30. USDA announces new food safety and security guidelines for c

11/29. Border patrol stops man with 'meat seat'
11/29. DeGette introduces food safety bills
11/29. USPOULTRY's Research Advisory Committee makes research recom
11/29. UK beef victory hailed
11/29. The ripple effect of food legislation
11/29. High energy foods linked to birth defects
11/29. Kava regains shelf space in Wales
11/29. Health body slammed
11/29. Is irradiation rational?

11/28. Oxoid Further Extends Prepared Media Range with New Oxoid Tu
11/28. Manual of Microbiological Methods for the Food and Drink Ind
11/28. Aflatoxin program set
11/28. Bug battlers fight for homeland, too
11/28. Deer illness answers still years away for exposed people
11/28. [New Zealand] 300,000 more have access to safe water, survey finds
11/28. Listeriosis
11/28. [Japan] Are drugs in animal feed making humans sick?
11/28. Pressurized oysters may boost industry

11/27. America deserves safe food supply
11/27. More Meat Inspectors to Be Hired
11/27. ODJ FSIS Issues Alert On Cooking, Handling Meats
11/27. Raw veggies healthy, if washed carefully
11/27. Hepatitis Outbreak Puts Heat on FDA
11/27. Japan to study ties between raw food, listeriosis
11/27. United States Seizes Contaminated Food Articles at Northeast, Washington, D.C. Food
11/27. Consumers in Oregon Area Advised of Risks Associated with Raw Sprouts

Dow Agrosciences to Combat Food Pathogens using Antibodies


Dow AgroSciences has recently obtained worldwide licensing rights from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to market technologies that reduce the risk of food-borne pathogens. The agreement gives the company exclusive rights to specific antibody technologies that are being developed under a 2001 collaborative agreement between Dow AgroSciences Canada Inc. (DAS) and NRC's Institute for Biological Sciences (NRC-IBS) in Ottawa, Canada.

The collaboration already has developed inventions that hold great promise in combating two of the most common and challenging food-related health threats, E. coli O157:H7 in cattle and Campylobacter jejuni in poultry. These pathogens occur normally in the animals' digestive systems and only become problematic when they find their way into the human food chain. Researchers at NRC-IBS and DAS have been developing new ways to attack these pathogens at the source, without the use of traditional antibiotics.

The collaboration has developed antibodies, which, when administered to the livestock, would attach to the pathogens within the animals' bodies. This technology holds great promise to clear or greatly reduce the pathogen load prior to slaughter. The antibodies will be produced in plants, which could be administered either in the feed or extracted from the plant and administered orally.

The license agreement commits the partners to developing and commercializing these technologies along a track that will maximize the benefits of the new discoveries.