1/6
2004


ISSUE:
98
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USDA offers BSE update

IFT Daily News

http://www.ift.org/news_bin/news/news_home.shtml

1/04/2004-On January 2, 2004, USDA confirmed that 81 of the 82 animals listed on the Canadian health certificate that includes the eartag number of the index cow entered the United States through Oroville, WA, on September 4, 2001. One of those 82 has now been located at a Mattawa, WA, dairy operation, which is now under a state hold order. USDA’s interest in finding those cows is not because BSE can spread from cow to cow, but because it is possible they may have shared a common feed source when young. Please note, though, that even at the height of the outbreak in the United Kingdom, it was uncommon to have more than just one or two infected cattle in the same herd. USDA continues to work very closely with Canadian officials on the epidemiological investigation. DNA testing on the index cow is being conducted in the United States and Canada to verify that the correct animal has been identified. DNA results could be available as early as next week. Two Canadian epidemiologists are in the United States to assist USDA, and, similarly, two USDA epidemiologists are in Canada.

Potential for Pathogens to Evolve Missing from Emerging-Disease Models

http://www.rapidmicrobiology.com/news/0401041.php

With outbreaks of new infectious diseases such as SARS and monkey pox jumping from the animal kingdom to humans, tracking their spread is vital to public health efforts to contain them. A novel mathematical model now gives public health leaders another tool to assess the risk of new infectious disease emergence that emphasizes the potentially perilous role of pathogen evolution.

The research by Carl Bergstrom, University of Washington assistant professor of biology, Rustom Antia and Roland Regoes, Emory University biologists, and Jacob Koella, P and M Curie University in Paris, appears in the Dec. 11 issue of Nature in their letter "The Role of Evolution in the Emergence of Infectious Disease."

Tracking the evolution of pathogens is not a new concept, but mutations are usually not taken into account in the models used to assess the emergence of infectious disease. What the researchers developed is a proposed framework to deal with these mutations that should be kept in mind when developing models for emerging infectious diseases such as monkey pox.

New pathogens are typically believed to emerge from animal populations when ecological changes increase the pathogens' opportunities to enter the human population and generate subsequent human-to-human transmission.

Current mathematical models used for predicting the spread of emerging infectious diseases in humans operate from the standpoint that diseases stay contained if the basic reproductive number of disease transmissions remains less then one. This means that the average number of secondary infections from persons infected with a disease stays below one. While the disease may still spread to other individuals, the pathogen lines of infection eventually become extinct, preventing the disease from epidemically spreading across the population.

In work funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, the researchers found that factors, such as ecological changes, that increase the basic reproductive number of the potential pathogen (but remaining below one and not at a level sufficient to cause an epidemic) can still greatly increase the length of the random chains of disease transmission. These long transmission chains provide opportunity for the pathogen to adapt to human hosts, and subsequently for the disease to emerge and spread.

One example, Bergstrom says, is monkey pox, which is thought to be related to smallpox, a disease driven to extinction by vaccination. However, as immunity to smallpox wanes because people aren't generally being vaccinated against the disease anymore, the protection provided against things such as monkey pox also wanes. That might be the ecological change that could markedly increase the probability of the evolution of monkey pox, allowing it to emerge into a successful human pathogen.

Bergstrom and Regoes were responsible for much of the mathematical modeling, which incorporates branching-process models. The model shows that transmission rates of a new pathogen can remain well below an epidemic level, but a disease can still potentially break out dramatically as new strains evolve and become better adapted for human transmission, Regoes says.

A confocal scanning laser micrograph of fluorescent green E. coli gaining access to the xylem of cut leaf lettuce.

New, Quicker Tests Identify E. Coli Strains
By Jim Core
December 31, 2003
http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2003/031231.htm

New tests that more quickly identify dangerous strains of Escherichia coli bacteria are being developed by Agricultural Research Service scientists in Wyndmoor, Pa.

ARS microbiologist Pina M. Fratamico, at the agency's Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC) in Wyndmoor, is working with Pennsylvania State University to develop tests that quickly identify E. coli strains.

Certain E. coli strains, such as O157:H7, causes serious diseases, including bloody diarrhea and hemorrhagic colitis. Infections may result in serious health complications, including kidney failure. Other E. coli serogroups, including E. coli O26, O111 and O121, also cause gastrointestinal illnesses in humans.

Currently, scientists commonly use a procedure called serotyping to distinguish between different types of E. coli--some harmful, others harmless. However, this procedure is time-consuming and labor-intensive.

Fratamico, with ERRC's Microbial Food Safety Research Unit, and her team are developing both conventional and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. These chemical procedures generate enough of a bacterium's genetic material so that it can be studied and identified. With one real-time PCR reaction, four products can be amplified simultaneously and detected in "real time" as they multiply.

Scientists have little information about some individual E. coli serogroups; therefore, the number of diseases these organisms cause is likely underestimated. Fratamico is targeting genes in the E. coli O-antigen gene clusters so researchers can detect and identify specific serogroups and increase knowledge about each one's potency.

In one study, a real-time PCR assay was more sensitive than other detection methods. According to Fratamico, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service has expressed interest in the new PCR tests for detection and confirmation of not only E. coli O157:H7, but of other E. coli strains as well.

ARS is the USDA's chief scientific research agency.

School lunches safe, officials tell parents

This story was published Sunday, January 4th, 2004
By Kristina Lord Herald staff writer
The Tri-City Herald
http://www.tricityherald.com/tch/local/story/4577537p-4548879c.html

Parents shouldn't worry if their kids choose a beef entre for lunch when students return to school Monday from winter break, school officials say.

No beef at any of the state's three approved processors for the National School Lunch Program is part of a commercial beef recall because of mad cow disease, said Skip Skinner, supervisor of food distribution for the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction's Child Nutrition Services.

More than 10,000 pounds of meat from the Mabton cow infected with mad cow disease and 19 other cows slaughtered on the same day at a Moses Lake plant was recalled Dec. 24, just hours after federal officials announced they had confirmed the first-ever case of the disease in the United States.

Federal regulations prohibit beef from being used in school lunches that is mechanically separated from the bone with automatic deboning systems, advanced lean meat recovery systems or powered knives. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has never had contracts with any of the rendering plants part of the beef recall, and they are not part of the supply chain for USDA purchases.

"That (affected) meat has been under recall, and it only went into the commercial market," Skinner said. "The distributors have been in contact with all of the recipients. It would never have entered into school lunch market through our state distribution system because it's not a viable product that would be purchased in first place."

"I'm not really scared of the food at school except for when it talks to me," he said. "I think the beef at school is pretty safe. I mean, it is a school, after all. They have to have things at a certain standard, right?"

The USDA lunch program represents about 25 percent of the total food purchases at the school district level. Districts purchase other foods, such as hot dogs and chicken nuggets, on the open market, Skinner said.

The state distributes 90 percent to 100 percent of the beef and 65 percent of the turkey that schools use statewide, Skinner said. The state allows school districts to have its beef diverted to one of three state-approved processors, King's Command in Kent or facilities in Oklahoma and Ohio. These processors only receive USDA beef, which is a very unique product, Skinner said.

"It is extremely low in fat. It's not typical of commercial fat. It is further tested prior to its shipping for pathogens, mainly E. coli. It has to pass that test before released anywhere," Skinner said.

In Richland, students' favorite meal choices -- chicken nuggets and chicken sandwiches -- don't contain beef. Beef shows up in only a few menu choices: chili, tacos, western and teriyaki dippers, mini hamburger patties with sauce, and hamburgers. Hot dogs and corn dogs are made from turkey. Burritos are made from chicken and soybeans, and sausage and pizza contain pork.

About 3,500 lunches are served daily districtwide in Richland.

"Kids have a choice every day, even at the elementary level," said LeAnn Bridges, food services director for Richland School District. "If there are people who really do not want their students to be eating beef, they just need to let us know. I'm feeling really pretty comfortable with the guidelines and the commodity beef that we're using and pretty comfortable with our beef supply."

Kennewick School District kids also have options if they or their parents prefer to avoid beef.

Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, was first discovered in Britain in the 1980s. It now has been found in cattle throughout Europe and Asia, and millions of animals have been destroyed to halt its spread.

The human version of the disease, variant Cruetzfeldt-Jakob Disease, is fatal. More than 150 people, most of them in Britain, died after contracting it. The human form of the disease can have an incubation period of up to 30 years.

Federal officials said research shows that certain meats, such as beef steaks and roast, are safe from infection.

New E.coli tests on the cards

http://www.foodnavigator.com/news/news-NG.asp?id=48757

- 05/01/2004 - New tests that slice off the time taken to identify dangerous strains of the harmful bacteria Escherichia coli are the focus of new research from US government scientists.


Agricultural Research Service (ARS) microbiologist Pina Fratamico, at the agency's Eastern Regional Research Center ( ERRC), is working with Pennsylvania state university to develop tests that quickly identify E. coli strains.

Sixty-one deaths and 73,000 illnesses are blamed on eating foods contaminated with E. coli each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Certain E. coli strains, such as O157:H7, causes serious diseases, including bloody diarrhea and hemorrhagic colitis. Infections may result in serious health complications, including kidney failure. Other E. coli serogroups, including E. coli O26, O111 and O121, also cause gastrointestinal illnesses in humans.

Currently, scientists commonly use a procedure called serotyping to distinguish between different types of E. coli - some harmful, others harmless. However, this procedure is time-consuming and labour-intensive.

Fratamico, with ERRC's Microbial food safety research unit, and her team are developing both conventional and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. These chemical procedures generate enough of a bacterium's genetic material so that it can be studied and identified. With one real-time PCR reaction, four products can be amplified simultaneously and detected in "real time" as they multiply.

Scientists have little information about some individual E. coli serogroups, therefore, the number of diseases these organisms cause is likely underestimated, report the scientists. Fratamico is targeting genes in the E. coli O-antigen gene clusters so researchers can detect and identify specific serogroups and increase knowledge about each one's potency.

In one study, a real-time PCR assay was more sensitive than other detection methods. According to Fratamico, the US department of agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service has expressed interest in the new PCR tests for detection and confirmation of E. coli O157:H7 and a range of other E. coli strains.

In September 2003, the US government reported that the number of ground beef samples tainted with harmful E. coli bacteria had dropped. Inspectors found 0.32 per cent of 4,432 samples of hamburger meat tested positive for E. coli from January to August this year, said Elsa Murano, the Agriculture department's undersecretary for food safety. That compares with 0.78 per cent for the same period in 2002 and 0.84 per cent in 2001. The agency has been testing 7,000 samples each year since 2001.

Current Food Safety Informaiton
01/05. Mad Cow Case Casts Light on Beef Uses
01/05. Orchid Stock Up on Mad Cow Testing Hopes
01/05. Restore confidence in food safety
01/05. USDA offers BSE update
01/05. FDA supports new measures against BSE
01/05. USDA announces new safeguards against BSE
01/05. FDA says it has located all product from BSE cow
01/05. US BSE Report
01/05. BSE Measures Welcomed

01/04. Swift launches traceability program
01/04. Australia: BSE outbreak proves value of e-tagging
01/04. USDA: Another cow from index herd found, quarantined
01/04. US vigilant in BSE battle
01/04. AMI Submits Comments to FSIS
01/04. As BSE Investigation Targets Cow's Origin, USDA Asserts: 'Sy
01/04. US to ban ephedra

01/03. Potential for Pathogens to Evolve Missing from Emerging-Dise
01/03. New, Quicker Tests Identify E. Coli Strains
01/03. FDA has yet to close loopholes in mad-cow regulation
01/03. Commentary: A Bum Steer On Mad Cow Disease
01/03. U.S. May Pay Farmers to Test for Mad Cow
01/03. MINNESOTA: Lawmaker set for next food fight
01/03. Major cause of painful gastroenteritis under study at MCG

01/02. Kosher butchers: Our beef safer from mad cow disease
01/02. Prevalence of Multidrug-Resistant Bacteria Rising
01/02. School lunches safe, officials tell parents
01/02. Mad cow beef recall hits area
01/02. FOOD'S LARGER MENACE: Bacteria, in many forms, an overlooked
01/02. Attorney: mad cow doesn't pose greatest risk
01/02. Protections against mad cow disease come after 2 years of st
01/02. Clean bill of health

01/01. The future of traceability
01/01. Japan official has doubts on US mad-cow safeguards
01/01. USDA Says Third Herd Under Quarantine
01/01. Consumer Groups Point to Holes in Cattle Feed Rules
01/01. US food authority faces pressure for more action over mad co

12/31. Mad Cow Forces Beef Industry to Change Course
12/31. Despite Case, U.S. Could Claim Mad Cow-Free Status
12/31. School officials monitoring mad cow
12/31. Mad cow disease
12/31. Food Standards Agency Scotland Offers ¡Ì70,000 To Scottish Fo
12/31. Food Culprits That Dwarf Mad-cow Toll

12/30. Rapid Test for Chlamydia
12/30. Death Rate for Salmonella Strain Is Lower
12/30. Experts Insist U.S. Meat Supply Safe
12/30. USDA Sees Little Benefit in Testing All Sick Cows
12/30. Democrats Urge Ban on Sick Cattle for Human Food


Current Recall Information

Current USDA/FDA NEWS
Memorandum Between the FDA and the Central Science Laboratory (UK)
Library of Meat Export Requirements
FDA Statement on New Measures Against BSE
FDA Announces Plans to Prohibit Sales of Dietary Supplements Containing Ephedra
FSIS Constituent Update/Alert

OPPD (Policy) What's New Page: Updated January 5, 2004
Positive E. coli Test Results: Updated December 30, 2003
Export Notice 2003-11: BSE Restrictions on U.S. Exports
Export Notice 2003:10: BSE Restrictions on U.S. Exports to Canada
Export Notice 2003-9: BSE Restrictions on U.S. Exports
Export Notice 2003-8: BSE Investigation and Restrictions on U.S. Exports
BSE Information and Resources
Government BSE Pages
FDA Statement on Rendered Products Derived From BSE Cow in Washington State
USDA Makes Preliminary Diagnosis of BSE

Statement of Probable Case of BSE in Washington State
Veneman Announces Additional Protection Measures to Guard Against BSE
FSIS Training For Inspectors On Target
FSIS To Hold Public Meeting On Food Safety Technologies
Codex Alimentarius: Meeting of the Codex Committee on Meat
Public Meeting on New Technology: The State of Food Safety Technologies
USDA Makes Preliminary Diagnosis of BSE
Washington Firm Recalls Beef Products Following Presumptive BSE Determination
FSIS To Hold Public Meeting On Food Safety Technologies
FSIS Training For Inspectors On Target

Current Outbreaks
01/02. HK confirms 3 imported food poisoning outbreaks
12/24. Food poisoning sidelines NBA Brit Amaechi
12/23. Typhoid outbreak downs
12/23. Seafood seems to be culprit in illness


Current New Methods
01/05. New E.coli tests on the cards
01/04. NordVal approval for RAPID' L. mono Listeria Agar, without c
01/03. Company working on rapid test for mad cow
01/02. Blue Light, Red Light
12/24. Garlic compound beats antibiotic-resistant bug
12/23. UK scientists create medical and food safety tool from virus
12/23. Scientist's vision explodes food toxins
12/23. Veridien Adds Hepatitis A, B and C Kill Claims to Its FDA Dr

Restore confidence in food safety

http://www.dailybreeze.com/content/opinion/1255675.html
One can hope that somewhere between Taiwan's seemingly hysterical seven-year ban on American beef imports and other cattle products and the meat industry's nearly unqualified reassurances that everything is normal, there will emerge a sensible food-protection policy for the American public.It has been over a week since Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announced the first case ever of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, commonly known as mad cow disease, in the United States. It supposedly originated from a lone cow in Washington state believed to have come from Canada. After an initial burst of panic, most noticeably in the media, the American public seems calm and taking the news in stride.This is far from what happened in Great Britain in 1996 when scientists first warned of a rise in variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in humans, an always fatal disease caused by the proteins, or prions, responsible for BSE. Scientists believe the disease is usually caused in cattle when they are given feed with protein content enhanced by mixing in rendered parts of infected cows. Nearly 150 Britons died of the disease, and public trust in the nation's food-safety system was nearly destroyed.Secretary Veneman and officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been far from alarmist, but it is way too early to judge if they are handling this serious situation effectively. Seemingly confident that the one-cow source for BSE was correct, Veneman first gave assurances that proper safeguards were in place and that America's beef supply was safe. Importers of American beef were quick to ban the product, a costly blow to the U.S. cattle industry. But Tuesday Veneman announced new restrictions to further enhance the safety of America's beef supply. Among other measures, she announced that:

Sick or "downer" cows like the one discovered last week would not be allowed into the nation's food supply chain. The Agriculture Department estimates that about 130,000 such cows entered the food supply chain last year.

A ban on the use of cow brains, small intestines and spinal tissue.

Creation of a nationwide animal identification system that would allow officials to respond more quickly to an outbreak.

These are good first steps, but they are unlikely to reassure the nearly 30 nations that already have banned exports of American beef.

Agriculture officials must do whatever is necessary to fully restore confidence in the nation's food safety system.

Publish Date:January 2, 2004