safety and fresh produce
CAST (Council for Agricultural Science and Technology) Commentary
outbreaks of food-related illnesses have increased many peoples concerns about
the safety of fresh fruits and vegetablesregardless of whether the cause is hepatitis
A, Escherichia coli (E. coli), or some other foodborne microorganism. These concerns
already had increased during the past decade when, due primarily to an increased
awareness of the health benefits fresh produce provides, people in the United
States were eating more of these foods. When mom told us to eat fresh fruits and
vegetables, she knew what she was talking about: these foods contain compounds
that help decrease the risk of many illnesses, including cancer and macular degeneration.
In addition, consumers in the United States expect to have a multitude of fresh
produce available year round. To supply this demand, the produce industry has
developed a distribution system to move both domestic and foreign produce to the
The recent outbreak of hepatitis A in Pennsylvania, which killed
three people and sickened more than 600, has raised new concerns about the safety
of this supply and distribution system. The source of the outbreak was identified
as green onions (scallions) and, as a result, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) has warned consumers not to eat uncooked green onions for the time being.
As the story unfolds, can this tragic outbreak teach any valuable lessons about
the safety of our food supply chain? Should other fresh produce items be avoided
It is useful to remember that pathogenic (disease-causing) microorganisms
are not part of the natural microorganisms found on or in fresh produce. Therefore,
any disease-causing microbes present on fruits or vegetables are there because
of inadvertent contamination, which can occur when produce comes in contact with
dirty water, equipment, or storage containers; unsanitary human handlers and food
preparers; and/or pests. Contamination can occur in the field or at any point
in the food supply chain from production to table.
The fresh-produce processing
industry uses various tools to decrease microbial contamination on products. Sanitary
operating procedures common to the entire food processing industry include pest
control, facility sanitation, worker hygiene, and temperature control. Fresh-produce
processors often take specific steps to clean fruits and vegetables, including
high-pressure washes, scrubbing, trimming, and peeling.
Many processors, especially
in the fresh-cut produce industry, also use sanitizing washes or dips to clean
produce. These dips rely on chlorine or other sanitizers to kill harmful microbes.
All the treatments, when properly applied, will substantially decreasebut may
not eliminatemicrobial contamination.
Consumers can take several actions to
decrease their risk from disease-causing microbes on fresh fruits and vegetables.
Because most microbial contamination is present on the skin or outer layers of
produce, washing and peeling are effective ways to lessen the number of harmful
?Wash produce with clean water before eating. (Household
soaps and other cleansers are not recommended; they may not be effective in killing
or removing pathogens and may leave harmful residue on the produce that poses
a greater risk than any microbes potentially present.)
?Scrub firm produce,
such as melons and cucumbers, with a produce brush during washing.
damaged or bruised areas before eating.
?Control temperature of produce to
prevent microbial growth.
?Refrigerate fresh produce that requires cool temperatures
(below 45°F, 7°C)
?Avoid leaving cut melons at room temperature for more than
?Wash hands and food preparation surfaces often.
ready-to-eat foods with raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
These techniques are
highly recommended to enhance the safety of fresh produce, but may not be sufficient
to remove all pathogens present. This is especially true for leafy greens and
other hard-to-wash produce. The only sure way for consumers to eliminate harmful
microorganisms in fresh fruits and vegetables is through cooking. Heating fruits
or vegetables to a temperature of 160F (71C) or greater is enough to kill the
pathogenic microorganisms that may be present. Of course, no one wants a cooked
But folks who are particularly susceptible to foodborne illness
children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems want to avoid
higher-risk fresh, uncooked produce.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) and at state land-grant universities are working
to decrease the risk of contamination on fresh produce even further. In 1998,
the FDA and the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a Guide to Minimize
Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (The Guide). Later,
Cornell University released Food Safety Begins on the Farm ?a Growers Guide. These
publications, which have been well received, spell out what producers, packers,
and distributors of fresh produce must do to decrease the risk of produce contamination.
lesson to learn from the Pennsylvania hepatitis outbreak is this: There is no
magic bullet?to eliminate harmful microorganisms in all fresh foods. No single
treatment will do it; that is why a comprehensive food safety system, from farm
to table, is essential to minimize the risk of foodborne illness.
No link in
the food supply chain can be ignored: evidence collected so far from the Pennsylvania
outbreak suggests that the green onions already were contaminated with the hepatitis
virus when they entered the restaurant, but that poor food-handling practices
in the restaurant spread the virus to more people than otherwise would have been
infected. Progress has been made in developing and implementing a food safety
system for fresh produce, and all of the measures currently in place will decrease
risk, especially as more is learned about which practices work best. But even
the best system cannot eliminate risk. As The Guide states, Current technologies
cannot eliminate all potential food safety hazards associated with fresh produce
that will be eaten raw.?br>Another lesson that may be lost in the clamor surrounding
these events is that real health benefits come with a diet rich in fresh fruits
and vegetables. But there also are real food safety risks and it is important
to manage these risks, especially for particularly susceptible individuals. Consumers
should be aware of outbreaks as they occur, heed official warnings, and follow
good food-handling practices. With a little caution and common sense, we all can
keep following moms advice about eating fresh fruits and vegetables.
Brandenberger William McGlynn
Vegetable Crops Specialist Horticultural Food
Dept. of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture Dept. of Horticulture
and Landscape Architecture
Food and Agricultural Product Center Food and Agricultural
Oklahoma State University Oklahoma State University
P. Doyle, Center for Food Safety
The University of Georgia, Griffin
information on this topic is available from these sources:
FDA Advises Consumers
about Fresh Produce
Food Marketing Institute. FMI Introduces Best Practices
Guide for Fresh-Cut Produce.
Safety Begins on the Farm; A Growers Guide
Guide to Minimize Microbial Food
Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
State University Food Safety Website.
The Council for Agricultural Science
and Technology (CAST) assembles, interprets, and communicates science-based
regionally, nationally, and internationally on food, fiber, agricultural, natural
resource, and related
societal and environmental issues to our stakeholderslegislators,
regulators, policymakers, the media, the private
sector, and the public. For
more information, call 515-292-2125 or email email@example.com.
the U.S. vulnerable to food-borne bioterrorism?
December 8, 2003
a press release
MIAMI -- That Americans are eating more each day is nothing
new. However, this can take on an entirely different meaning should there be an
issue with the safety of our food supply. To put the issue into perspective, the
U.S. per capita consumption of food grew from an average 1,800 pounds per year
in the early 1980s to more than 2,000 pounds in recent years according to the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In fact, this long-term trend has favored the
need for more imports of foreign-grown food products from all over the world.
The import share of U.S.- consumed food climbed from 8 percent to more than 11
percent in recent years. This increase in agricultural trade, especially in the
wake of September 11th, is currently perceived by some as a possible window of
opportunity for a bioterrorist attack on our food supply. Indeed, past accidental
foodborne outbreaks have suggested the potential for large numbers of casualties
from foodborne bioterrorism.
Each year an estimated 76 million cases of foodborne
illness occur in the United States, according to figures from the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Over 325,000 hospitalizations and 9,000
deaths are associated with foodborne diseases each year.
As the U.S. continues
to negotiate free trade agreements with many of its neighbors to the south, food
safety standards will surely become an issue of concern.
Some questions of
importance are as follows:
* Do current food safety measures go far enough?
Do we have bioterrorism standards or only sanitation regulations?
* Are they
so stringent that they curtail trade?
* Are U.S-sponsored measures so drastic
that smaller nations will no longer be able to export their goods?
* Are concerns
about Cuba's development of biological warfare through its biotechnology industry
Federico Sacasa, executive director of non-governmental agency Caribbean-
Central America Action (CCAA), advocates two controversial measures to deal with
the situation: a) extending U.S. customs into the region and, b) "shipping"
U.S. customs inspectors to conduct checks prior to goods arriving in the U.S.
"This would not only expedite the process but would also be less expensive,"
CCAA's "Strengthening the Third Border" conference will
address these and other related topics with renowned experts. Dr. Elsa Murano,
Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture will address a
plenary session of the conference on Tuesday, December 9th, 9:30am to 10:30am.
On Tuesday afternoon, a CCAA agribusiness panel on "Antibioterrorism Measures
and Trade" will specifically focus on the above issues.
"Strengthening the Third Border"
Plenary Address: Tuesday, December
9, 2003 at 9:30am
Panel - Anti-Bioterrorism Measures and Trade.
December 9, 2003 at 2:00 pm
WHERE: Loews Hotel
1601 Collins Avenue,
Beach, Florida 33139
* Linda Swacina, Deputy Administrator,
Food Inspection and Safety
* Peter Quinter, Partner, Becker
and Poliakoff , PA
* Miguel Garcia Winder, Director Comercio y Agronegocios,
* Gabriel Pascual, President, Central America-US Chamber of Commerce
Sacasa, Executive Director of CCAA, Peter Quinter and Miguel Garcia are available
for interviews either before or during the conference. CCAA, formerly Caribbean
Latin American Action (CLAA), will hold its 27th Annual Conference on the Caribbean
Basin, titled "Strengthening the Third Border," from December 8-10 in
Miami. The conference will address key challenges faced by Central America's and
Caribbean economies and their impact on the U.S. and Florida specifically. To
view a full conference agenda, click http://www.claa.org/03conf--schd.html .
U.S. bioterror rules loom for food firms
December 9, 2003
MIAMI - Industry officials were cited as saying on Tuesday
that new bioterrorism measures that force food and beverage suppliers to the U.S.
market to register with the government will jack up food costs and could wreak
havoc with supplies,.
The story says that with only 100,000 of an estimated
400,000 suppliers having registered before Friday's deadline, the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration has given domestic and foreign companies four more months
to comply with the new rules drawn up as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks.
once the grace period expires, U.S. food supplies could be thrown into chaos if
suppliers to big U.S. food firms are blackballed by the FDA.
Mari Stull, director
of international regulatory policy at the Grocery Manufacturers Association of
America, which represents $500 billion in food sales, was quoted as saying, "This
four-month honeymoon phase is going to be a real wake-up call to those companies
that don't understand this actually impacts them. And it's going to be a real
wake-up call to some of the big companies here in the United States that haven't
been really sure that their supply chain is complying.
10/12/2003 - The UK’s Food Standards Agency has launched a consultation on the
use of alternative phrases to 'may contain' on food labels. The phrase is currently
used by manufacturers on pre-packaged food to indicate the possible presence of
ingredients, such as peanuts, to which people may be allergic.
in recent years, consumer groups have raised concerns over the phrase that appears
on many food labels. Some believe that it is overused, and that unnecessary use
of the phrase on certain products can undermine valid warnings.
As a result,
the FSA recently launched a study into appropriate labelling. This focused on
nut trace contamination (NTC) labelling, as nuts and peanuts are recognised as
the most likely food allergens to trigger serious allergic symptoms. Many UK manufacturers
and retailers already indicate their presence on the packet, especially if there
is a risk of contamination during processing.
report attempted to determine the prevalence of such labelling. In a basket of
everyday food items (selected because they do not normally contain nuts as ingredients),
the FSA found that 56 per cent of the products indicated a risk of nut trace contamination.
At the same time however, nut-allergic consumers were unable to buy a match or
substitute for 18 per cent of the items listed. In addition, in many cases, they
were forced to accept a substitute or poorer quality product. As a result, they
took 39 per cent longer to shop and, incredibly, paid 11 per cent more on average.
products examined, the FSA found that ingredient information was allocated an
average of 2.6 per cent of the packaging area. Additional allergen information
covered an average of 0.53 per cent. In addition, it would appear that long-established
industry guidelines to make labelling clear are often ignored. Over a third of
all products examined had key information in poor colour combinations and the
FSA found that there was little consistency in labelling style between different
retailers or manufacturers. These and other factors make it very difficult for
allergic consumers to find and read essential information.
cereals and confectionery are most commonly cited by nut allergic consumers as
those products that are hard to find without nut trace contamination information.
Packaging examined often displayed nut trace contamination information that was
not always noticed by the shoppers or sorters. Similar allergen warnings on a
variety of products may reflect very different degrees of risk to the allergic
completion of the study, a number of key recommendations have been made. These
include improved labelling of all ingredients on all foods, clearer allergen information,
and support for manufacturers who are determined to remove nuts from their production.
The FSA also believes that it is important to undertake regular reviews of the
quality and legibility of all essential information on pre-packed foods.
number of alternative phrases have also been developed. At present the Food Standards
Agency is consulting on the following alternative warnings: Not suitable for peanut/nut/sesame
allergic consumers and Not suitable for people with peanut/nut/sesame allergy.
Although it is not a legal requirement for manufacturers to label in this way,
manufacturers will be encouraged to use the appropriate phrases in the future.
latest developments will be under the spotlight when the Food Labelling Forum
holds its next meeting on 21 January 2004. The meeting will provide manufacturers
and consumer bodies with the opportunity to debate current labelling issues. Presentations
will be given on health and nutrition claims, food authenticity, and allergen
labelling. There will also be a question and answer session on general labelling
your kitchen clean enough?
Germs can spoil your holiday buffet
illustration by MIKE COVINGTON
This is the season when many of us cook extravagantly
for family gatherings, open-house party buffets and workplace potlucks.
month all sorts of tasty treats, from oysters to mail-order cheeses, make their
way into our homes ?homes that we may view as safer eating places than restaurants
given the recent hepatitis A outbreak in a Chi-Chi's in Pennsylvania.
if you've been getting by on takeout and prepared foods, you may have lost your
grasp of how to properly handle raw ingredients.
you've been relying heavily on your microwave, you may need a refresher course
on the cooking temperatures needed for food safety.
then there's the business of the leftovers and how to store them and chill them.
to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Safety Inspection Service, there
are three party-crashers you don't want at your holiday buffets:Invader
1: Staphylococcus aureus
2: Clostridium perfringens
3: Listeria monocytogenes
No. 1: Staphylococcus aureus, known as "staph" bacteria for short, are
found on the skin, in infected cuts and in our nasal passages and throats. They
spread with improper food handling.
Severe nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. Can put you out of commission
for two to three days or longer if severe dehydration occurs.
Wash hands and utensils before preparing and handling food. Don't let prepared
foods ?particularly cured and cooked meats, cheese and meat salads ?sit at room
temperature more than two hours.
No. 2: Clostridium perfringens is called the "cafeteria germ" because
it's sometimes found in foods served in quantity and left for long periods at
Diarrhea and gas pains in eight to 24 hours after eating. The worst of it usually
lasts only a day, but less severe symptoms may go on for one to two weeks.
Divide large portions of cooked foods ?such as meats, gravies, stews, casseroles
and dressing ?into smaller portions for serving. Keep cooked foods hot if you're
serving them hot and cold if you're serving them cold. Don't keep them lukewarm.
No. 3: Listeria monocytogenes bacteria multiply at refrigeration temperatures,
although slowly, and can be found in cold foods served at buffets.
You may take up to three weeks to become ill and when you do you will have fever,
chills, headache, backache, abdominal pain and diarrhea. If you're pregnant, elderly
or have a weakened immune system, you could become more seriously ill.
Follow "keep refrigerated" label directions and "sell by"
and "use by" dates on processed foods. Thoroughly reheat frozen or refrigerated
processed meat and poultry products before eating them.
general, if you suspect food has made you sick, call your health department if
you think it was served at a large gathering or commercial establishment.
symptoms persist or are severe ?such as bloody diarrhea, excessive nausea and
vomiting, or high fever ?seek medical help.
76 million Americans become infected by their food each year, according to the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 2 million suffer long-term
medical complications, and about 325,000 end up in the hospital. More than 5,000
die from eating contaminated food.
washing is the most effective tool in the prevention of food-borne illnesses.
If you're preparing food, first wash your hands ?scrubbing briskly and rinsing
?for at least 20 seconds under warm water.
again after handling uncooked meat, poultry or fish or after any other activity
that contaminates the hands.
towels, washable cutting boards, kitchen thermometers, shallow containers for
leftovers and insulated containers for transporting foods also are effective weapons
in the war against food pathogens, said Anita Travis, manager of the food safety
branch of the Kentucky Cabinets for Health Services.
towels are much better than cloth towels around the kitchen," Travis said.
"I try not to have those out. They're just too easy to use."
and uncooked eggs, poultry, meat and seafood can contain another illness-producing
if you touch cloth towels with contaminated hands, you can recontaminate your
kitchen even after you've thoroughly washed surfaces on which the raw food were
about sponges. They're not even permitted in commercial kitchens. If you have
a plastic pot scrubber, make sure you sterilize it frequently by running it through
you must use cloth dishrags and towels, be aware of the circumstances under which
you're using them and change them frequently, experts said.
recommend a chlorine/water final rinse for dishes and utensils washed by hand.
About a capful of chlorine in a dishpan of water will do the trick. Then allow
the dishes to air dry.
you wash dishes in a dishwasher, where the hot water temperature will sterilize
the dishes, don't overcrowd the machine or it won't be able to do the job properly.
cut raw foods and ready-to-eat foods on the same cutting boards or put cooked
foods on platters that had just held them in their raw state.
let your raw foods and their juices mingle with other foods in your grocery cart
best to thaw that turkey or other frozen meat in the refrigerator. Remember: A
16-pound bird takes three to four days to thaw. If you cook a bird that isn't
thoroughly thawed, you risk serving undercooked meat.
a cooking thermometer and appliance thermometers. You can't tell by looking if
food is done, and you don't know if your oven or refrigerator is at the right
temperature if you don't test it.
Refrigerators should be set at 40 degrees.
When cooking meat or poultry, an oven should be set at 325 degrees or higher.
Test your refrigerator to see if it gets down to 40 and your oven to see if it
reaches the minimum 325.
a good practice to test the temperature of foods when cooking.
let leftovers sit out more than two hours.
containers are better for storing leftovers. Your refrigerator will do a better
job of cooling down smaller portions in shallow containers.
out the fridge and get it organized before the big party or meal. If leftovers
overcrowd it, the refrigerator can't do a good job.
leave leftovers in the fridge for more than three to four days. Think about freezing
some of your leftovers immediately after a party or meal if you have a lot.
some insulated containers for transporting dishes to potlucks. Hot foods should
be kept hot. Cold foods should be kept cold.
Cooking temps for turkey: www.fsis.usda.gov/OA/pubs/countdown.htm
temps for "other" holiday meats: www.fsis.usda.gov/OA/pubs/holmeats.htm
kitchen thermometers: www.fsis.usda.gov/OA/thermy/bro_text.htm
for "What you need to know about hepatitis A"
Food Safety Informaiton
Ministry gets warmer in search for arsenic contamination sou
foods: Trends, technologies, and health implica
of viral pathogens in Australia: Rotavirus
12/11. Report of the Australian
Rotavirus Surveillance Program 2002
12/11. Scientists clone BSE-resistant calves
Is your kitchen clean enough?
12/11. Supermarkets selling out of date food
Doing the Dirty Work -
12/11. U.S. to Warn Women of Mercury in Tuna - Newspaper
12/10. USDA Suggests, ¡°Give the Gift of Food Safety¡±
12/10. EL USDA sugiere
que ¡°La Inocuidad Alimentaria sea su Regalo¡±
12/10. Food regulator reassures
consumers that imported honey and prawns
12/10. New U.S. bioterror rules loom
for food firms
12/10. FDA under fire for mercury in fish advice
Brunswick's Health minister: improving food safety
12/10. Florida food safety
watchdog likely to scale back inspection
12/10. Canadian Quality Milk program
gets technical recognition
12/10. US anti-bioterrorism rules expected to impact
all who ship f
12/10. IAFP 2004 to be held in Phoenix, Arizona
creates agroterrorism initiatives
12/10. Cattle Resistant To Mad Cow Disease
Four Admit Causing Meat to Be Tainted
12/10. FDA to update advisory on methylmercury
Roasted Peanuts, Nut-Based Oils Contributing to Allergies
12/10. Peanut allergies
in kids on the up
12/10. Label law
12/10. Peanut Allergies on Rise in Children
The knock-on effects of 9/11
12/10. FDA, Mexico Dispute Hepatitis Outbreak
FDA: U.S. Hepatitis Outbreak Linked to Mexican Onions
12/10. Victims Urge ¡°Whole
Foods¡± Supermarkets Not To Sell Quorn
12/09. Unprecedented year in agriculture
warrants a look back
12/09. XV International Symposium on problems of listeriosis
Bolstering confidence in food safety standards industry, gov
12/09. Is the
U.S. vulnerable to food-borne bioterrorism?
12/09. Don¡¯t be a turkey this Christmas
Laboratories must be accredited by 2005 new food safety chie
Officials: No Link to Hepatitis, Onions
12/09. USA: Catering firm to use only
12/09. Key GM food vote disappoints and delights
Italy on alert for water poisoner
12/09. Fatal deer and elk illness: Are we
12/09. Pa. Conducts Precautionary Testing for CWD
12/09. Dirty little
secrets: Addressing common housecleaning errors
12/09. 63,000 food samples
analysed for FSAI
12/09. Clean up or pay up
12/09. Salmonella case goes
to crown court
12/09. Poison vodka alert
12/09. Food Standards Agency Scotland
Offers ¡Ì70,000 To Scottish Fo
12/09. High level of antibiotic resistance in
bacteria that cause f
12/08. Burger giant faces action in powder scare
Giant farms can't produce healthy food
12/08. B.C drinking water among worst
12/08. Parents to sue after 6,000 children poisoned by soya milk
12/08. Ensuring food safety
12/08. Maine officials investigate cause
of tainted batch of bottle
12/07. Food Standards Agency must do more to
protect public health -
12/07. Food safety and fresh produce
in hepatitis case violated rules
12/07. Accession countries gear up to safety
12/06. Europe to vote on GM foods
12/06. Climate Change, Temperature and
12/06. Mailing Perishable Foods
12/06. Giving food safely
is gift for the season
12/05. Texas A & M Scientists Aim For Safer
12/05. Managing the Red in Irradiated Pork
12/05. Rosemary Extract
Can be Used to Maintain the Original Color
12/05. Canada Penalized For Honesty
On BSE Case
12/05. Farm-to-fork food safety: Would you like hepatitis A with
12/05. Hepatitis backlash hits Pa. restaurants
12/05. Inspections of
eateries lacking here; high-risk locations be
12/05. Story missed smaller outbreaks
Baby Food Safety
12/05. Accession countries gear up to safety
ISSUES ALERT ON THE IMPORTANCE OF COOKING AND HANDLING
12/05. KLA: Science
should dictate lifting Canadian cattle ban
12/05. Mock botulism outbreak hones
12/05. Eatery linked to salmonella outbreak won't reopen
Smoke flavours under scrutiny
12/05. European Food Safety Authority issues
opinions on new GM mai
12/05. Byrne cuts through the fear factor
FDA and CPB Bolster Safeguards on Imported Food
12/04. FDA: Customs Agents
To Help Protect Food Imports
12/04. Restaurant Industry Skeptical Of Menus
Warning Of Food Risks
12/04. Four food businesses served enforcement orders
12/04. Steps that help ensure bottled water safety and quality
Bioterrorism: A threat to agriculture and the food supply
12/04. FMI introduces
best practices guide for fresh-cut produce; r
12/04. Going cruising? Don¡¯t
let Norwalk ruin what could be a fanta
12/04. Official: FDA Acted Hastily on
12/04. EU Food Agency Says Monsanto GM Maize Safe
12/04. EU adopts
new rules on food additives
12/04. Meat Improperly Stored
in EU Additive Rules
12/04. FDA director retires
12/04. Bioterrorism, 8
days to go
12/04. EFSA to open up -
12/04. Researcher develops new model
for studying prions ? mad cow
12/04. Soiled onions reminder to wash fresh produce
Foreign firms lack info on imminent bioterrorism laws
12/04. Local Twins Hospitalized
After Coin Found In Baby Food
High level of antibiotic resistance
in bacteria that cause food poisoning
than 40% of bacteria found in chicken on sale in Switzerland is resistant to at
least one antibiotic, says research published this week in BMC Public Health.
The findings could have implications for treating food poisoning.
Campylobacter, causes between 5 and 14 percent of all diarrhoeal illness worldwide.
The most common sources of infection are inadequately cooked meat, particularly
poultry, unpasteurised milk and contaminated drinking water. The illness normally
clears up after a week, without treatment. But small children and people with
a weakened immune system often take antibiotics to prevent the infection from
spreading to the bloodstream ?and causing life threatening septicaemia.
from the Swiss Federal Veterinary Office collected raw poultry meat samples from
122 retail outlets across Switzerland and Liechtenstein, and tested their antibiotic
resistance. From 415 meat samples, they isolated 91 strains of Campylobacter,
59% of which were sensitive to all the antibiotics tested.
strains (22%) were resistant to one antibiotic, 9 strains (10%) to two antibiotics,
and 8 strains (9%) were resistant to at least three antibiotics. Two strains were
resistant to five antibiotics. One of these showed resistance to ciprofloxacin,
tetracycline and erythromycin ?the most important antibiotics for treating Campylobacter
infection in humans.
was more likely to be infected with Campylobacter if it was kept chilled, rather
than frozen. However, the storage conditions did not affect the frequency of antibiotic
resistance in the bacteria.
the frequency of antibiotic resistance in Switzerland may seem high, meat produced
in the country was, in fact, less likely to be infected with antibiotic resistant
Campylobacter than meat produced elsewhere. J?g Danuser commented: "The level
of antibiotic resistance in Campylobacter depends on the amount of antibiotics
that the chickens received. Maybe in Switzerland antibiotics were used less, so
there is less resistance"
the researchers thought that poultry was more likely to be infected with antibiotic
resistant bacteria if it was raised using conventional indoor farming methods
rather than in an animal-friendly way. However, the majority of meat produced
in an animal friendly way came from Switzerland, and this skewed the results.
The researchers therefore concluded that only the country of origin and not the
farming methods were likely to influence the level of antibiotic resistance in
Danuser discussed this: "It's possible that chickens raised in an animal-friendly
way are more healthy, so they need less treatment with antibiotics and so their
Campylobacter are less resistant to antibiotics. But the other side of the story
is that these chickens go outside more often, so they are in more contact with
wild birds, which is the reservoir of Campylobacter."
findings are of concern for Swiss consumers, but, as mentioned above, the picture
for other countries is even bleaker. The researchers wrote: "The high prevalence
of Campylobacter in raw poultry meat samples found in this study agrees with data
from other studies." In the USA, 90% of Campylobacter strains isolated from
poultry meat had resistance to at least one, and 45% to at least two antibiotics.
antibiotic resistant bacteria led the EU to ban the use of four antibiotics as
growth promoters in chickens, in 1999. The US Food and Drugs administration (FDA)
followed their lead in late 2000, by banning the use of a particular class of
antibiotics called fluorquinolones in poultry farming.
poisoning caused by eating Campylobacter infected poultry is on the increase.
In Switzerland, 1 in 1,086 people suffer from Campylobacter infection every year;
the number is approximately ten times higher in the US.
Customs Agents To Help Protect Food Imports
of U.S. Customs officers will help investigate food imports to prevent bioterror
attacks on vegetables, fruits, processed foods and animal feed, the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration said on Wednesday.
FDA said a new agreement with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency will
expand the FDA's ability to check the safety of food shipments arriving by sea
are committed to using the bioterrorism law to safeguard our food supply to the
fullest extent possible, without imposing any unnecessary costs or restrictions
on food imports," said FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan.
the federal Bioterrorism Act now in effect, the FDA can order the detention of
any food or animal feed if there is "credible evidence" that it presents
a health threat.
working together, the FDA can use Customs agents to conduct investigations related
to the FDA's recently issued rules requiring prior notice of food imports before
the shipment arrives.
month, Republican Sen. Susan Collins urged Congress to pay more attention to protecting
the nation's $1.24 trillion food and agriculture sector from sabotage or attacks.
She said U.S. agriculture documents have been recovered from al Qaeda caves and
safe houses in Afghanistan.
the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the FDA and the U.S. Agriculture
Department have increased the number of veterinarians and meat inspectors, introduced
stricter import regulations and enhanced laboratory security.
recent FDA initiative requires the registration of more than 400,000 facilities
that manufacture, process, pack or hold human or animal food for the U.S. market.
will use Customs' electronic communications systems to reduce the length of prior
notice by food importers to 2 to 8 hours, depending on the mode of transportation,
the agency said.
FDA also announced on Wednesday that it will finalize by the end of March 2004
rules requiring recordkeeping for food shipments and detention for food shipments
that may pose a threat to humans or animals.
the meantime, we have taken steps to make sure that food that presents a threat
will be detained and all available records will be used to track down significant
food risks," McClellan said. 12-3-03
core temperature sensor developed
one of several food ventures established by the Murray Hill, New Jersey-based
BOC and the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) are working together to develop
a non-contact, core temperature sensor for use in preparing and processing ready-to-eat
food products. According to Mark Grace, president, Thinkage, the new system combines
two technologies to measure the core temperature of cooked products - a 3-D
imaging system and infrared sensors. "Several measurements of a product are
taken during various stages of cooking and cool-down," says Grace. "Using
this data, the system then composes and compares a series of images to determine
the maximum temperature reached in the core." Grace points out that Thinkage's
Think Gates(tm) service already incorporates a core temperature probe that is
effective for use with
products such as hamburger patties that have a consistent
form. "The problem arises," he says, "with irregularly-shaped products
such as chicken wings,
primal meat cuts such as chops and ribs, and certain
cooked bakery and seafood products. Processors need a way to account for variability
in the size and shape of a product in order to accurately determine its core
Grace says, "Fully cooked products represent one of the fastest growing segments
of the prepared foods market. The challenge for processors is to insure that products
are fully-cooked without being overcooked to a point where yield and quality are
Craig Wyvill, division chief, GTRI, explains, "Currently,
processors have to rely on the hand-insertion of a thermometer to determine the
temperature of cooked products, a practice that is subject to human error
and variation. Consequently, in order to ensure food safety, processors often
cook products to an internal temperature that is as much as 20 higher than is
minimally necessary to kill pathogens. That extra 20 not only degrades taste,
but it also costs the food industry hundreds of
millions of dollars a year
in yield loss and higher energy usage." John Stewart, GTRI's lead researcher
on the development project, points out that chicken patties decrease in weight
by 0.7 percent for every 5 beyond 160 - the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's
mandated minimal core temperature for cooked chicken patties. He says, "Assuming
that a typical cooking line operating at 165* F outputs 3,000 pounds per hour
of chicken patties for 16 hours each day for 260 days per year, that 0.7 percent
translates to nearly 900,000 pounds of product lost each year on a single
CHROMagarO157, A New Chromogenic Formulation,
Differentiates E. coli O157 From
Other E. coli Strains On the Primary Plate
Diagnostic Systems, Sparks, MD, announces the immediate availability of BBL?CHROMagar?O157,
a chromogenic medium with a highly specific enzymatic reaction that isolates and
presumptively identifies E. coli O157.
for the testing of human, food or environmental samples, BBL?CHROMagar?O157 can
differentiate E. coli O157 from other E. coli strains. A chromogenic reaction
creates mauve-colored colonies of E. coli O157. Other E. coli strains will either
be inhibited or grow as blue to blue-green colonies. Also, unlike MacConkey-based
media, BBL?CHROMagar?O157 detects sorbitol-negative and positive strains - with
fewer false positives than the MacConkey-based media.1 With fewer false positives,
other costs can be reduced as well with BBL?CHROMagar?O157, such as latex agglutination,
subculturing and biochemical identification. Confirmatory tests are necessary
for definitive identification.
BBL?CHROMagar?O157 the lab technologist may save 24 to 48 hours in obtaining final
results as compared to conventional MacConkey-based media.1 In addition, most
Proteus, Pseudomonas and Aeromonas strains are inhibited by this medium. BBL?CHROMagar?O157
is also compatible with latex reagent test kits.
is the latest addition to the BBL?CHROMagar?media line, which already includes
BBL?CHROMagar?Orientation, BBL?CHROMagar?Candida, BBL?CHROMagar?Salmonella and
more information on BBL?CHROMagar?O157, please call 1-800-638-8663, or contact
your BD Diagnostic Systems representative.
trademarks are the property of Becton, Dickinson and Company, except CHROMagar,
which is a trademark of Dr. A. Rambach. ?2003 BD.
Detection of Botulism Toxins
at the University of California, Riverside have developed a device that speeds
the detection of a virulent strain of botulism neurotoxin from hours or days to
minutes, making treatment or vaccination more effective.
neurotoxin B, one of five strains that are known to be toxic to humans, is targeted
in the paper that appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of the Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences. The paper's authors included UC Riverside Professor of Cell
Biology and Neuroscience Vladimir Parpura and Umar Mohideen, a professor of physics,
both part of the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering at UC Riverside;
graduate student Wei Liu; staff researcher Vedrana Montana; and Edwin Chapman,
a professor of physiology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
its rapid detection and small size, the device, known as a micromechanosensor,
will find applications in medicine, in the war against bioterrorism or in the
food industry, Parpura said.
course a good deal of testing needs to be done first," Parpura said. "What
we've done is shown proof that the principle works."
principle, he added, works much like a fishing pole and line. A protein-coated
bead at the end of a microscopic cantilever comes in contact with the neurotoxin,
which cuts through the protein strands connecting the two, much like a fish would
cut through a fishing line. The bead's separation causes the cantilever to vibrate,
announcing the neurotoxin's presence. While effective, the process is not yet
ready for practical application.
now the issue is that it's linked to an atomic-force microscope, an expensive
piece of equipment, which means it cannot be used on a widespread basis,"
he holds out hope that the process could soon be put into wider practice to detect
one of the most potent toxins known to man. The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention in Atlanta list botulism as one of the six most dangerous bioterrorism
threats. Other such bio-threats include anthrax, plague and smallpox.
important thing to note is that the technique is very general and, in the future,
can be done without the use of the atomic- force microscope. This also means that
it will find uses in fields outside (medical) toxin sensors," said Mohideen,
adding that the process can be used in food and water quality applications.
key to the process, however, is its timeliness, according to the researchers.
Antitoxin vaccinations can work only if applied quickly, before the onset of symptoms.
Symptoms of food-borne botulism intoxication frequently take from 12 to 36 hours
to develop, according to the CDC.
you think that we've cut the detection time from a few hours or a couple of days,
down to a few minutes, that's what's important," Parpura said. "The
shorter the detection time, the more time you have to treat people and that makes
a great deal of difference when dealing with this neurotoxin."
are working on approaches to further reduce the detection time and substantially
improve the sensitivity," Mohideen added.
while rare in the United States, is considered a medical emergency in which roughly
10 percent of those afflicted die. Those who survive may take weeks or months
to recover and frequently undergo intensive hospital care with extensive use of
new on-line method to detect foreign materials in food
?esund Food Excellence
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
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.