FoodHACCP Newsletter

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04/04 2016 ISSUE:698

FDA seeks comments on inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal
Source :
By News Desk (Apr 4, 2016)
Having documenting that many rice cereals for infants and toddles have significant levels of inorganic arsenic — which can cause neurologic and developmental problems — the government is proposing a maximum allowable limit for the substance.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s new draft guidance on inorganic arsenic levels pertains only to the substance in rice cereals for infants and toddlers, based on tests of almost 500 samples of so-called starter foods for youngsters.
“FDA is proposing a limit or ‘action level’ of 100 parts per billion (ppb) for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal,” according to FDA documents posted late last week.
“This is parallel to the level set by the European Commission (EC) for rice intended for the production of food for infants and young children. The EC standard concerns the rice itself; the FDA’s proposed guidance sets a draft level for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal.”
A 90-day comment will provide the opportunity for the public and industry to suggest changes to the FDA’s draft guidance for in organic arsenic in rice cereals for infants and toddlers. Details on how to comment and the draft guidance, as well as supporting materials, are available on the FDA’s website.
Rice cereals for infants and toddlers are of particular concern, according to the FDA, because of the disproportionate amount of rice that age group consumes.
“Relative to body weight, rice intake for infants, primarily through infant rice cereal, is about three times greater than for adults. Moreover, national intake data show that people consume the most rice, relative to their weight, at approximately 8 months of age.”
The proposed limit stems from extensive testing of rice and non-rice products, a 2016 FDA risk assessment that analyzed scientific studies showing an association between adverse pregnancy outcomes and neurological effects in early life with inorganic arsenic exposure, and an evaluation of the feasibility of reducing inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal.
The FDA found that inorganic arsenic exposure in infants and pregnant women can result in a child’s decreased performance on certain developmental tests that measure learning, based on epidemiological evidence including dietary exposures.
The FDA tested levels of inorganic arsenic in 76 samples of rice cereals for infants collected from retail stores. Less than half of those, 47 percent, met the agency’s proposed action level of 100 ppb inorganic arsenic.
To assess if there were other sources of inorganic arsenic in infant foods, the FDA also tested more than 400 samples of other foods commonly eaten by infants and toddlers. All the non-rice foods were well below 100 ppb level for inorganic arsenic, showing that other low-arsenic options are available to be incorporated into a well-balanced diet.
The nature of rice and inorganic arsenic
Arsenic is an element in the Earth’s crust and is present in water, air and soil. Arsenic is naturally occurring in the soil and the water. Fertilizers and pesticides also contribute to levels.
Arsenic exists in two forms, organic and inorganic. When encountered in the diet, inorganic arsenic is considered to be the more toxic of the two forms. Rice has higher levels of inorganic arsenic than other foods, in part because as rice plants grow, the plant and grain tend to absorb arsenic from the environment more than other crops.
The FDA’s scientific assessment of possible adverse health effects associated with inorganic arsenic was subjected to external peer review as well as review by other government agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The FDA reported that manufacturers should be able to produce infant rice cereals that meet or are below the proposed limit with the use of good manufacturing practices, such as sourcing rice with lower inorganic arsenic levels.
Advice for consumers
The government is not advising the general population of consumers to change their current rice consumption patterns based on the presence of arsenic, but is providing targeted information for pregnant women and infants to help reduce exposure.
The agency recognizes that infant rice cereal is a common “starter” food for infants and notes that the American Academy of Pediatrics specifically encourages consumption of iron-fortified cereals for infants and toddlers.
Based on the FDA’s findings with respect to inorganic arsenic in rice, the agency offers the following advice to parents and caregivers of infants:
• Feed your baby iron-fortified cereals to be sure she or he is receiving enough of this important nutrient.
• Rice cereal fortified with iron is a good source of nutrients for your baby, but it shouldn’t be the only source, and does not need to be the first source. Other fortified infant cereals include oat, barley and multigrain.
• For toddlers, provide a well-balanced diet, which includes a variety of grains.

Campylobacter Outbreak and Raw Milk Consumption in Utah, 2014
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Apr 2, 2016)
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a report about the 2014 outbreak of Campylobacter infections in Utah associated with raw milk consumption. In May 2014, the Utah Public Health Laboratory (UPHL) notified the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) that three patients tested positive for Campylobacter jejuni infections that had the same pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns. All three patients had consumed raw milk from “dairy A.” This facility was identified as Ropelato Dairy in Ogden, Utah at the time.
Raw milk sales are legal in Utah from the farm to the consumer with a sales permit. These dairies must submit monthly milk samples to the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) for somatic cell and coliform counts. Coliform counts indicate the presence of feces, and somatic cell counts can be indicators of contamination in raw milk. Dairy A’s routine test results were within acceptable levels before this outbreak.
Altogether, 99 cases of Campylobacter jejuni infection were identified from May 9, 2014 through November 6, 2014. This outbreak had serious consequences for those sickened. Patients A and B were a parent and child who got sick in May 2014. Both were hospitalized. Patient A died one week later of multisystem organ failure, related, in part “to gastroenteritis and underlying medical conditions.” Overall, 10 patients were hospitalized in this outbreak. People over the age of 65 who contract Campylobacter infections are at risk for developing Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which can cause permanent paralysis.
Of the 99 cases, 59 were confirmed and 40 were probable. They were identified through laboratory isolates and patient interviews. Most of these patients lived in three northern Utah counties, Weber, Davis, and Salt Lake, that are in the vicinity of dairy A. The patients ranged in age from 1 to 74 years. Forty-four of the patients, or 44%, were children under the age of 18.
Among patients who were interviewed, 53 reported drinking raw milk. Fifty two of those people drank raw milk obtained from dairy A. Those numbers were confirmed by dairy A’s raw milk sales ledger. Among 41 patients with no known raw milk consumption, 21, or 51%, reported eating queso fresco, a Mexican-style cheese.
Finding the bacteria at the dairy proved difficult. The dairy was allowed to continue the sales of raw milk after this outbreak was identified, since it passed inspections in July and July 2014 with no critical violations. No pathogens were detected in the samples collected during those inspections. But pathogenic bacteria often easily elude detection because they tend to clump together in very small numbers, and there may be too few bacteria to be detected by culturing, even there are enough bacteria present in the milk to make someone sick.  Unless every milliliter of milk is tested, there is no way to ensure that the milk is free of pathogens. Other than pasteurization.
The outbreak continued to increase. On July 29, 2014, representatives from all three Utah health and agriculture departments conducted a collaborative investigation at dairy A. The raw milk bulk tank was agitated, and a UDAF inspection collected a 1-liter sample or raw milk. This milk was cultured and Campylobacter jejuni was finally isolated in the product. This bacteria had the same PFGE pattern identified in specimens from the first three patients. In addition, 55 of the 56 isolates collected from patients sickened in this outbreak produced indistinguishable PFGE patterns, which identifies the DNA of bacteria.
On August 4, 2014, UDAF suspended dairy A’s permit to sell raw milk. The dairy’s permit to sell raw milk was reinstated on October 1, 2014, but then seven more cases of Campylobacter infections were identified. On December 1, 2014, UDAF permanently revoked dairy A’s raw milk sales permit.
About 3% of the U.S. population drinks raw milk, in part because of perceived health benefits. But this product is often contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. Campylobacter is ubiquitous in the environment, and is very difficult to culture from milk since it is so fragile. In addition, the report states “routine testing of and standards for raw milk do not ensure that the raw milk is free of pathogens. There is a lack of correlation between bacterial counts and the presence of pathogens in raw milk.
A paper published in Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Wisconsin in 2015 states, “just before World War II, in 1938, it was estimated that milkborne outbreaks constituted 25% of all disease outbreaks (related to food/water) in the United States. Today, with the widespread use of pasteurization and other sanitation procedures outlined in the Grade A Pasteurized Milk Ordinance, milk and fluid milk products account for less than 1% of reported outbreaks caused by food/water consumption.”
The report ends with this statement, “consumers should be aware of dangers associated with consuming unpasteurized milk. Current raw milk testing standards do not readily detect contamination; thus, the safest alternative is to consume pasteurized milk.”



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CDC says deadly outbreak over; Dole, FDA silent on salad plant
Source :
By Coral Beach (Apr 1, 2016)
Dole Food Co. and the FDA remain mum on the status of a salad processing facility linked to a deadly international Listeria outbreak, which began in May 2015 and wasn’t declared over until this week.
The salad production facility in Springfield, OH, was highlighted in Dole’s 2010 corporate report.“ At present I don’t have any updates yet to share regarding the Springfield (Ohio) facility,” Dole’s William Goldfield said March 25, adding that he hoped to have an announcement in the “upcoming weeks.”
Dole officials did not provide any additional comments when asked about the final outbreak update, posted yesterday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is similarly silent on the topic. An FDA notice posted Thursday after the CDC’s announcement referred to the investigation in the past tense. It did not include any information other than details already released by the CDC.
Nineteen people in 9 states were confirmed to have had listeriosis infections from the same strain of Listeria monocytogenes as was found during random sampling of bagged salads collected at retail by the FDA, according to the CDC’s final outbreak update.
All 19 victims in the U.S. were so sick that they required hospitalization. One person in Michigan died.
Canadian officials also declared an end to the outbreak this week. Lab analysis confirmed 14 people in Canada contracted listeriosis, with the likely source identified as bagged salads from the Dole plant in Springfield, OH.
Three of patients in Canada died, but authorities there are not 100 percent positive their deaths were caused by their infections.
Men in black playing it close to the vest
The FDA will not release its report on inspections of Dole’s salad plant in Springfield.
The agency reported earlier this year that Dole officials voluntarily closed the plant on Jan. 21. On Jan. 27 Dole recalled all salad varieties, distributed under various brands, that were produced at the plant.
Until regurgitating the CDC’s notice Thursday, the FDA had not posted an update on its investigation since Jan. 29, even though there has been ample time for initial and follow-up laboratory tests to be completed on samples from the salad plant.
Agency officials denied a request from Food Safety News for the Form 483 on the Dole facility inspection, saying the publication would have to file a Freedom of Information Act request for the public document. That request is pending with the FDA.
The FDA issues a “Form 483” to management of companies at the conclusion of inspections that reveal conditions that “may constitute violations of the Food Drug and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act and related Acts,” according to the FDA website.

Oak Leaf Farm E. coli Outbreak, 34 Sick
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (Apr 1, 2016)
An E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to Oak Leaf Farm in Lebanon, Connecticut has now sickened 34 people, according to the State Department of Public Health (DPH). Officials are advising anyone who recently purchased goats from Oak Leaf Farm to consult with their livestock veterinarian.
The patients, who range in age from 10 months to 45 years old, have a median age of five. Twenty eight of those sickened are children 14 years old and under; 18 of them are five and under.
Nine people required hospitalization. Five have been treated and released. Three of the four who remain hospitalized have been diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS),  a complication of  E. coli infections that most often affects children under 10, causes kidney failure, seizure, stroke, coma and death.
“E.coli can hit children particularly hard,” said Elliot Olsen, an attorney with the national food safety law firm PritzkerOlsen who is representing two children sickened with HUS in another outbreak. PritzkerOlsen underwrites Food Poisoning Bulletin.
Attorney Elliot Olsen
E. coli symptoms usually develop within two to five days of exposure but can appear within 24 hours or take as long as 10 days to develop.  They include stomach cramps and diarrhea, that is sometimes bloody. Sometimes these symptoms, which last about a week, are accompanied by a low-grade fever.
About 15 percent of children with E. coli infections will develop HUS, which causes blood cells to become misshapen and to die prematurely, clogging the kidneys. Kidney failure, heart attack, seizure and stroke are all possible complications of HUS.  Children under 10 are at most at risk for HUS because their immune systems have not fully developed. For about 12 percent of children, HUS is fatal.
Three of the patients in this outbreak did not visit Oak Leaf Farm but had contact with someone who did, according to DPH. Because of these secondary cases, DPH advises those with a family member infected with E. coli to follow these precautions: Wash hands thoroughly after visiting the restroom or changing a child’s diaper, wash hands before and after food preparation, and stay home form work or school while diarrhea persists.
The investigation by DPH, the Department of Agriculture, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is ongoing and expected to last several weeks.  Oak Leaf Farm remains closed to the public and its owners are cooperating with the investigation, according to DP.

Imported Foods Most Often Rejected: Seafood, Veggies, and Fruit
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Mar 31, 2016)
The USDA has released a report detailing the foods the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) most often rejects at our nation’s ports for problems. They are seafood/fish products, vegetables/vegetable products, and fruit/fruit products. The countries that have the most shipments refused are Mexico, India, and China. Data for this report was analyzed over the years 2005 to 2013 and was compared to data from the years 1998 to 2004. In addition, refusals of spices, flavors, and salts doubled between 1998 to 2004 and 2005 to 2013.
The FDA only inspects about 1% of the 60,000,000 tons of food imported into this country every year. Inspectors target certain facilities and firms and certain types of products that have a higher risk for pathogenic bacterial contamination or other type of adulteration or misbranding. The government uses risk-based criteria to figure out which shipments should be inspected. The refusals reveal “recurring patterns of import violations in food products that have repeatedly attracted the attention of FDA inspectors.”
All of the imported foods that are rejected by the FDA are reported in the Operational and Administrative System for Import Support (OASIS) database. Each violation is listed with a charge statement such as “adulteration” or “misbranding”.
An “adulterated” food contains poisoning ingredients, disease-causing bacteria and viruses, unsafe color additives, pesticide residues, or filth. A “misbranded” food has a false or misleading label regarding ingredients, origin, manufacturer, or quality. Some of these factors threaten health, such as undeclared allergens, while others, such as substituting cheaper ingredients in a product, do not.
From 2005 to 2013, FDA refused the entry of 87,552 shipments after determining that the products violated one of more U.S. regulations. Fishery/seafood products were 20.5% of all shipments refused, and vegetables/vegetable products were 16.1% of refusals. Four other categories each were 5% of import violations. They are: fruit/fruit products, spices/flavors/salts, non chocolate candy/chewing gum, and bakery products/dough/mix/icing.
While the number of fish products refused were about the same in both 1998 to 2004 and 2005 to 2013, the fruit and vegetable import refusals fell. But the refusals of spices/flavors/salts more than doubled from 3.8% in 1998 to 2004 to 7.7% in 2005 to 2013.
Adulteration accounted for 57% of all violations. The most frequent adulteration violation in 2005 to 2013 was for the presence of Salmonella bacteria. The products contaminated with Salmonella were 83.7% of pathogen/toxin adulteration violations, up from 63.0% in 1998 to 2004. Most Salmonella-contaminated products were in fishery and seafood (42%) and spices/flavors/salts (33.2%).
The second most common violation for pathogen/toxin contamination in 2005 to 2013 was for Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Violations for Listeria contamination in fish products were 59.4% of all products, more than double the number from 1998 to 2004. But Listeria contamination in imported cheese and cheese products were 32.0% in 2005 to 2013, down from 49.6% in 1998 to 2004.
Chemical contamination is another category that doesn’t get as much press. The products most likely to be contaminated with chemicals were vegetables/vegetable products. Almost 75% of those violations were for unsafe pesticide residues, which is down 90% from 1998 to 2004.
The most commonly refused products by country correlate with the types of foods they export. Mexico is the leading exporter of fruits and vegetables to the U.S. India is the leading exporter of spices, and China is the leading exporter of seafood. As would be expected, the most frequently refused exports from Mexico were vegetables/vegetable products. Spices/flavors/salts from India were most commonly refused, and fish/seafood products were most commonly refused from China.
The amount of food imported into the U.S. continues to grow, and the same problems show up with each shipment. This may suggest that FDA’s inspection regimen doesn’t deter producers from offering products that violate regulations. At the same time, the number of shipments refused has declined relative to the volume of food imports. That may reflect FDA’s limited resources in this area or it may be due to improvements in compliance with U.S. laws.

What to Know During an E. coli Outbreak
Source :
By Andy Weisbecker (Mar 30, 2016)
There are two known E. coli outbreaks happening across the US.
The CDC reports that 13 people were sickened with E. coli O157:H7 in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Nine of the people recently had eaten at Pizza Ranches.  Two children, in Kansas and Nebraska, suffered kidney failure (hemolytic uremic syndrome – HUS).
The Connecticut State Department of Public Health (DPH) today issued the following update on the E. coli outbreak linked to the Oak Leaf Farm in Lebanon, CT.  DPH is investigating 15 confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection.  The number of cases could increase in the near future as DPH is actively identifying individuals who were not initially reported.
What is E. coli?
E. coli O157:H7 was identified for the first time at the CDC in 1975, but it was not until seven years later, in 1982, that E. coli O157:H7 was conclusively determined to be a cause of enteric disease. Following outbreaks of foodborne illness that involved several cases of bloody diarrhea, E. coli O157:H7 was firmly associated with hemorrhagic colitis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated in 1999 that 73,000 cases of E. coli O157:H7 occur each year in the United States. Approximately 2,000 people are hospitalized, and 60 people die as a direct result of E. coli O157:H7 infections and complications. The majority of infections are thought to be foodborne-related, although E.coli O157:H7 accounts for less than 1% of all foodborne illness.
E. coli O157:H7 bacteria are believed to mostly live in the intestines of cattle but have also been found in the intestines of chickens, deer, sheep, goats, and pigs. E. coli O157:H7 does not make the animals that carry it ill; the animals are merely the reservoir for the bacteria.
While the majority of foodborne illness outbreaks associated with E. coli O157:H7 have involved ground beef, such outbreaks have also involved unpasteurized apple and orange juice, unpasteurized milk, alfalfa sprouts, and water. An outbreak can also be caused by person-to-person transmission of the bacteria in homes and in settings like daycare centers, hospitals, and nursing homes.
Symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 Infection
E. coli O157:H7 infection is characterized by the sudden onset of abdominal pain and severe cramps, followed within 24 hours by diarrhea. As the disease progresses, the diarrhea becomes watery and then may become grossly bloody – bloody to naked eye. Vomiting can also occur, but there is usually no fever. The incubation period for the disease (the period from ingestion of the bacteria to the start of symptoms) is typically 3 to 9 days, although shorter and longer periods are not that unusual. An incubation period of less than 24 hours would be unusual, however. In most infected individuals, the intestinal illness lasts about a week and resolves without any long-term problems.
Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) is a severe, life-threatening complication of an E. coli O157:H7 bacterial infection. Although most people recover from an E. coli O157:H7 infection, about 5-10% of infected individuals goes on to develop HUS. E. coli O157:H7 is responsible for over 90% of the cases of HUS that develop in North America. Some organs appear more susceptible than others to the damage caused by these toxins, possibly due to the presence of increased numbers of toxin-receptors. These organs include the kidney, pancreas, and brain. Visit the Marler Clark sponsored Web site about Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome for more information.
Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP) is a clinical syndrome defined by the presence of thrombocytopenia (low blood platelet counts) and microangiopathic hemolytic anemia. This has generally been recognized as “adult HUS.” There are many possible causes, including E. coli O157:H7, all of which act through the common mechanism of inducing endothelial cell damage. The damage triggers a cascade of biochemical events that ultimately leads to the characteristic feature of TTP – widespread dissemination of hyaline thrombi, composed predominantly of platelets and fibrin, which block the terminal arterioles and capillaries (microcirculation) of most of the major body organs, commonly, the heart, brain, kidneys, pancreas and adrenals. Other organs are involved to a lesser degree. The pathophysiology of this disease results in multisystem abnormalities and the clinical manifestations of the syndrome.
Detection and treatment of E. coli O157:H7
Infection with E. coli O157:H7 is usually confirmed by detecting the bacteria in the stool of the infected individual. Antibiotics do not improve the illness, and some medical researchers believe that medications can increase the risk of complications. Therefore, apart from good supportive care, such as close attention to hydration and nutrition, there is no specific therapy for E. coli O157:H7 infection. The recent finding that a toxin produced by E. coli O157:H7 initially greatly speeds up blood coagulation may lead to medical therapies in the future that could forestall the most serious consequences. Most individuals recover within two weeks.
Preventing E. coli O157:H7 Infection
Eating undercooked ground beef is the most important risk factor for acquiring E. coli O157:H7. Cook all ground beef and hamburger thoroughly. Because ground beef can turn brown before disease causing bacteria are killed, use a digital instant read meat thermometer to ensure thorough cooking. Hamburgers should be cooked until a thermometer inserted into several parts of the patty, including the thickest part, reads at least 160? F. Persons who cook ground beef without using a thermometer can decrease their risk of illness by not eating ground beef patties that are still pink in the middle. If you are served an undercooked hamburger or other ground beef product in a restaurant, send it back for further cooking.
Avoid spreading harmful bacteria in your kitchen. Keep raw meat separate from ready-to-eat foods. Wash hands, counters, and utensils with hot soapy water after they touch raw meat. Never place cooked hamburgers or ground beef on the unwashed plate that held raw patties. Wash meat thermometers in between tests of patties that require further cooking.
Drink only pasteurized milk, juice, or cider. Commercial juice with an extended shelf life that is sold at room temperature (such as juice in cardboard boxes or vacuum-sealed juice in glass containers) has been pasteurized, although this is generally not indicated on the label. Most juice concentrates are also heated sufficiently to kill pathogens.
Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, especially those that will not be cooked. Children younger than 5 years of age, immunocompromised persons, and the elderly should avoid eating alfalfa sprouts until their safety can be assured. Methods to decontaminate alfalfa seeds and sprouts are being investigated.
Drink municipal water that has been treated with chlorine or other effective disinfectants, or bottled water that has be sterilized with ozone or reverse osmosis (almost all major brands use one or the other method).
Avoid swallowing lake or pool water while swimming, especially pool water in public swimming facilities.
Avoid petting zoos and other animal exhibits unless there are good hand washing facilities available and other sanitation measures have been taken. Wash your hands and your children’s hands after handling animals.
Make sure that persons with diarrhea, especially children, wash their hands carefully with soap after bowel movements to reduce the risk of spreading infection, and that persons wash hands after changing soiled diapers. Anyone with a diarrheal illness should avoid swimming in public pools or lakes, sharing baths with others, and preparing food for others.
What is Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome?
Hemolytic uremic syndrome is a severe, life-threatening complication of an E. coli bacterial infection that was first described in 1955, and is now recognized as the most common cause of acute kidney failure in childhood. E. coli O157:H7 is responsible for over 90% of the cases of HUS that develop in North America. In fact, some researchers now believe that E. coli O157:H7 is the only cause of HUS in children. HUS develops when the toxin from E. coli bacteria, known as Shiga-like toxin (SLT) [1,2], enters cells lining the large intestine. The Shiga-toxin triggers a complex cascade of changes in the blood. Cellular debris accumulates within the body’s tiny blood vessels and there is a disruption of the inherent clot-breaking mechanisms. The formation of micro-clots in the blood vessel-rich kidneys leads to impaired kidney function and can cause damage to other major organs.
What are the Symptoms associated with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome?
About ten percent of individuals with E. coli O157:H7 infections (mostly young children) goes on to develop Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a severe, potentially life-threatening complication. HUS is an extremely complex process that researchers are still trying to fully explain.
Its three central features describe the essence of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome: destruction of red blood cells (hemolytic anemia), destruction of platelets (those blood cells responsible for clotting, resulting in low platelet counts, or thrombocytopenia), and acute renal failure. In HUS, renal failure is caused when the nephrons, or filtering units, become occluded (blocked) by micro-thrombi, which are tiny blood clots. In almost all cases, the filtering ability of the kidneys recovers as the body of the patient slowly dissolves the micro-thrombi within the microvessels.
A typical person is born with about one million filtering units, called nephrons, in each kidney. The core of the nephron is a bundle of tiny blood vessels, called a glomerulus, where osmotic exchange allows for the filtration of wastes that eventually collect in the urine and are excreted. During Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, the lack of blood flow to the nephrons can cause them to die or be damaged, just as heart muscle can die as the result of coronary vessel occlusion during a heart attack. Dead nephrons do not regenerate.
In general, the longer a patient suffers kidney failure, the greater the loss of filtering units as a result. At some point, the damage to the kidneys’ filtering units can be so severe that the patient will, over a period of years, lose kidney function and suffer end-stage renal disease (ESRD), which requires chronic dialysis or transplantation.
HUS can also cause transient or permanent damage to other organs, which include the pancreas, liver, brain, and heart. The essential pathogenic process is the same regardless of the organ affected: microthrombi inhibit necessary blood flow and cause tissue death or damage. During the acute stage of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, patients must be carefully monitored for these extra-renal complications. It is very difficult to predict the severity and course of HUS once it initiates.
The active stage of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome may be defined as that period of time during which there is evidence of hemolysis and the platelet count is less than 100,000. In HUS, the active stage usually lasts an average of six days (range, 2-16 days). It is during the active stage that the complications of HUS per se usually occur.

STEC E. coli and biofilm production
Source :
By Doug Powell (Mar 30, 2016)
The objectives of this study were to characterize the phenotype and genotype of 36 non-O157 Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains isolated from humans, ovines, or bovines, including the top 6 (O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, and O145) and three other serogroups implicated in serious illness (O91, O113, and O128).
Biofilms were formed by all strains with intermediate to strong biofilm producers (n = 24) more common at 22°C than at 37°C (p < 0.001) and 48 and 72 h (p < 0.001) than 24 h of incubation time. Biofilm-forming potential differed by serogroup and origin with O113 and human strains exhibiting the highest potential (p < 0.001). Biofilm-associated genes, csgA/csgD/crl/fimH (100%), flu (94%), rpoS (92%), ehaAα (89%), and cah (72%), were most prevalent, while mlrA (22%) and ehaAβ (14%) were least prevalent, although there was no clear compliment of genes associated with strains exhibiting the greatest biofilm-forming capacity.
Among 12 virulence genes screened, iha and ehxA were present in 92% of the strains. The occurrence of stx1 in the top 6 serogroups (8/12, 67%) did not differ (p = 0.8) from other serogroups (17/24, 71%), but stx2 was less likely (confidence interval [CI] = 0.14–1.12; p = 0.04) to be in the former (9/24, 38%) than the latter (9/12, 75%). Excluding serogroups, O91 and O121, at least one strain per serogroup was resistant to between three and six antimicrobials. Streptomycin (31%), sulfisoxazole (31%), and tetracycline (25%) resistance was most common and was 35–50% less likely (p < 0.05) in human than animal strains.
All non-O157 STEC strains were able to form biofilms on an abiotic surface, with some exhibiting resistance to multiple antimicrobials. Potential as a reservoir of antimicrobial resistance genes may be another hazard of biofilms in food-processing plants. As a result, future strategies to control these pathogens may include measures to prevent biofilms.
Biofilm formation, virulence gene profiles, and antimicrobial resistance of nine serogroups of non-O157 shiga toxin-producing E. coli
Wang, K. Stanford, T.A. McAllister, R.P. Johnson, J. Chen, H. Hou, G. Zhang, and Y.D. Niu
Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, Volume 13, Number 6, March 2016, Pages 1-9, DOI: 10.1089/fpd.2015.2099

Farmers market food safety training held April 7
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By Peggy Ussery (Mar 29, 2016)
A training program designed to ensure farm-to-table food safety will be held Thursday, April 7, at the Houston County Extension Office in Dothan.
Buying locally-grown produce at the farmers market is a great way to ensure your family is getting the freshest food possible, but it doesn’t guarantee that the produce is safer. Any food grown must be safely handled on the farm as well as at the market, and putting small practices into place will help ensure that the food is kept safe.
The Farmers Market Food Safety training will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the extension office at 1699 Ross Clark Circle. Call Bridgette Brannon at 334-714-1248 to register.
Presented by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the program is geared to local growers who sell at a farmers market as well as anyone who would like to learn more on how to keep food safe. The training will teach basic safe food practices when harvesting fruits and vegetables as well as storing, transporting, and handling produce while at the market.
Participants will also learn how food-borne illnesses can occur and which populations are at greatest risk. They will receive a certificate when they complete the training that can be set up at their market stations so the public can view. Other resources and materials will also be available for use at market stations.

The ‘three second rule’ is a myth, a food safety expert has warned
Source :
By Rob Waugh (Mar 29, 2016)
Most of us believe that there is something magical about the first three seconds your cheese toastie is face down on the carpet.
Somehow, if you swoop in and flip it upright, it’s still OK to eat.
Except it isn’t, a spoilsport food expert has revealed – in fact, if you eat food that’s hit the floor, you’re risking the ‘brown laser’, or worse.
Food safety expert Dr Lisa Ackerley of the University of Salford says that bacteria stick to foods instantly.
If food has touched a dirty floor, it should be binned instantly, in case it’s picked up dangerous bacteria such as E Coli and Salmonella – so called ‘silent killers’.
A survey sponsored by steam-cleaner maker Karcher found that a third of us would eat food that had been dropped on the kitchen floor – and even the living room floor.
Dr Ackerley, a visiting professor of environmental health at the University of Salford, said: ‘Regular small bursts of hygienic cleaning is more important than one big spring clean.
‘Bacteria and viruses can’t be seen or smelt and are easily destroyed through high temperatures, meaning steam cleaning is perfect.’

How the Food Safety Modernization Act Affects Wisconsin Manufacturers
Source :
By Joy Powers (Mar 28, 2016)
The Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA, is being touted as the most sweeping reform from the regulatory body in the last 70 years. This fall, the FDA will start enforcing some of the new regulations.
These regulations hold food manufacturers and suppliers to higher sanitary standards. The move is meant to shift the industry to a prevention model, instead of reacting to outbreaks caused by contaminated food.
“Instead of just being responsible for everything that happens in your facility, you’re also responsible for everything that happened before your materials got to your facility,” says Olivia Barrow, who has been covering the FSMA for the Milwaukee Business Journal.
The FDA introduced the act partly in response to some high-profile food contamination problems, including outbreaks of Listeria and Salmonella. Many of the new regulations seem like common-sense practices, and Barrow says that most large companies have been taking these kinds of precautions for years. The act was modeled after the Global Food Safety Initiative’s Food Safety System Certification, and many manufacturers already follow those guidelines.
So what does the FSMA mean for Wisconsin manufacturers?
“It really just means that there’s a new amount of documentation that each company has to go through,” says Barrow. “Some of them are going to have to change their practices. But for a lot of them it’s just going to be a huge new burden of paperwork.”

Oyster research could lead to food safety strategies
Source :
By Cookson Beecher (Mar 28, 2016)
Microbes battling microbes. This type of warfare is happening all around us — and even inside of us — every day. And as in every battle, there are good microbes and bad microbes, depending on what you want the outcome to be.
In this case, the bad guys are pathogens that are infecting large numbers of oyster larvae before they have a chance to grow into the oysters that so many people love to eat. They go by the names of Vibrio coralliilyticus and Vibrio tubiashii, with the first one especially harmful to oyster larvae. It’s the same vibrio that infects warm-water corals and contributes to coral bleaching around the world.
The good guys are what scientists call bacteriophages, or phages for short. They’re everywhere — inside of us, on our skin, in the soil, inside and on the outside of plants and animals, and in the ocean. According to researchers in the United States and Australia, humans have 10 trillion or so bacteria in their gastrointestinal tracts — and more than 10 times that number of phages residing and “working” there.
The phages do their work by going after specific, targeted bacteria, infecting and then killing them. In short, they help keep the balance between the good and the bad.
No, this isn’t some obscure science known only to researchers muttering into their microscopes in scientific terms no one can pronounce. Quite the opposite. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently awarded a $500,000 grant to Intralytix Inc. to develop a phage cocktail that will be effective against the pathogens that kill larval shellfish.
The Baltimore biotechnology company’s scientists are working with USDA researchers in Delaware and at Oregon State University.
And while their research involves vibrios that infect oyster larvae but don’t make humans sick, two of the researchers said it offers the possibility of further research against two vibrios in raw oysters that do make people sick, often with severe digestive symptoms.
One of those, Vibrio parahaemolyticus can infect oysters, often during the summer months. Gary Richards, the lead scientist at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) lab in Dover, DE, said this vibrio is the principle cause of shellfish-related bacterial illnesses in the United States. It annually forces the closure of shellfish harvesting areas .
Vibrio vulnificus is scarier. It can cause serious illness and death. Between 1988 and 2006 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received reports of more than 900 Vibrio vulnificus infections from the Gulf Coast states, where most cases occur. Some such infections happen when individuals eat raw or lightly cooked oysters, others occur when the vibrio gets into swimmers’ open wounds.
Cooking oysters thoroughly kills vibrio, but that means cooking them several minutes after they open up. Internal temperatures need to be 145 degrees F.
Vibrios live in salty water and are typically found along the coastlines of the U.S. from Maine to Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico, and along the entire West Coast. These bacteria occur naturally and are not caused by pollution.
Intralytix CEO John Woloszyn said that although the current research project is better described as aquaculture/veterinary medicine, “hopefully, success might lead to a human food safety project.”
Getting back to the beginning
When adult oysters spawn, they release eggs and sperm into the water. Once fertilized, the eggs hatch into free-swimming larvae. During the three-week larval state, the shell begins to form and size increases.
In the case of commercial production, oyster hatcheries grow larvae to the eyed stage, when they lose their motility. Eyed larvae can be planted into harvesting beds by the commercial shell fishermen, where the larvae will mature in two to three years.
Alternatively, the free-swimming larvae can be reared in the presence of oyster shell. In that case, they will attach to the shell, which can be planted in growing areas, where they will continue to grow until they’re ready to be harvested. This also generally takes two to three years.
Unfortunately, the larvae in some of the Pacific Coast hatcheries have been having trouble developing their shells fast enough. In 2005, the wild and hatchery oyster larvae along the West Coast began to die off in the millions. Things got worse. Between 2006 and 2008, billions of larvae — as many as 80 percent of them — died.
Because commercial growers rely on the larvae and seed they buy from hatcheries, this added up to devastating losses for the hatcheries and the growers who relied on them for sustained production.
All sorts of reasons, among them viral and bacterial infections, were pointed to as possible culprits. But despite a variety of strategies to tackle the problem with infections in mind, intermittent problems persisted.
Then in 2008, researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Oregon State University came up with this possibility: Could it be climate change? Perhaps greenhouse gas emissions, specifically carbon dioxide, were changing the ocean’s chemistry and causing a condition known as ocean acidification.
The researchers got to work and found that in places where they conducted studies, acidified water could stop the larvae from developing their shells.
Oregon State University researcher ocean ecologist George Waldbusser said it’s not so much that the acidity of the water was dissolving the shells. Rather, it was inhibiting how quickly the larvae could form the shells.
Turns out that in acidic water conditions, the oyster larvae have to use too much energy to build their shells as quickly as possible, which they need to do so they can continue growing.
“The effort literally kills them,”  Waldbusser said.
And although hatcheries have taken steps to circumvent acidification of their seawater, intermittent problems with high mortalities still occur.
The USDA’s Richards said both vibrios are believed to be “opportunistic pathogens” and that they may infect larval shellfish when the shellfish are stressed by conditions such as water acidification, improper water temperature, salinity or dissolved oxygen levels, poor nutrition, or overcrowding, among others.
“Stresses make the larvae more susceptible to infection by opportunistic bacteria,” he said.
He also said the USDA grant project will determine if similar reductions in mortality that he and his fellow researchers have already achieved in the lab with phages can be achieved in a small-scale hatchery.
Another scientist working on the project, Claudia Hase of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University, said that Vibrio coralliilyticus is highly infectious to both Pacific and Eastern oyster larvae.
She also said it has a powerful toxin delivery system. And if that’s not enough, vibrios are among the smartest of all bacteria. She said that in an “IQ test” administered to bacteria, vibrios ranked in the top bracket.
“They can smell, sense things, and swim toward a host,” Hase said. “They can even ‘talk’ to each other. They’re incredibly powerful.”
No wonder then that the shellfish industry is so interested in finding ways to build up an arsenal against these pathogens. It’s a matter of economic survival.
“The focus right now is on larval mortality,” said Bill Dewey, spokesman for Taylor Shellfish Farms. “We are relying on research to lead the way.”
Intralytix chief scientist and principal investigator Alexander Sulakvelidze said the goal will be to develop an all-natural product that can eliminate or significantly reduce larval shellfish mortality caused by the vibrio pathogens that are causing mortalities in excess of 59 percent.
Phages are considered “all-natural” because they are part of nature, and not manufactured.
“We view this grant as an important first step in developing a series of phage-based natural products for the aquaculture industry,” said Intralytix CEO Woloszyn.
Woloszyn said the two vibrios (V. coralliilyticus and V. tubiashii)  are major causes of larval shellfish mortality, which results in increased costs to the aquaculture industry and consumer.
“Our phage preparation could have very significant impact on reducing larval mortalities in hatcheries and on reducing the cost of producing and buying oysters,” he said. “We are confident of success that will result in a bi-coastal benefit to both oystermen and oyster lovers.”
Just what phages will be used in the cocktails and how they’ll be administered will be a major focus of the research project.
Intralytix has already introduced three phage-based food safety products approved by U.S. regulatory authorities. ListShield, EcoShield and SalmoFresh are the company’s current commercial offerings effective against Listeria monocytogenes, E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella spp., respectively. In the seafood industry, the company’s ListShield has become popular among smoked salmon processors to substantially reduce or eliminate Listeria monocytogenes.
So what are phages anyway?
Not discovered until 1915, bacteriophages — so named because they appeared to eat bacteria — are naturally occurring viruses that can infect and kill bacteria, among them typhoid, cholera, tuberculosis, meningitis, as well as foodborne pathogens such as E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella and Campylobacter.
Until the electron microscope was invented in 1940, these bacteriophages couldn’t be seen as anything but a clear spot under a regular microscope.
The way they work is nothing short of amazing. Some bacteriophages, for example, have hollow heads, where their DNA or RNA is stored. At the other end they sport tails that could be compared to tunnels. The tips of these tails can “dock” onto molecules on the surface of the specific bacteria they’re targeting.
With that mission accomplished, they begin shooting their viral DNA through their tails into the targeted cell. Once inside, the DNA takes over and starts directing the production of progeny phages — often more than a hundred in a mere 30 minutes. These young phage-warriors then burst out of the host cell, killing it in the process, and eagerly head off in search of more bacteria to infect and kill.
As powerful as phages are against bacteria, they’re nontoxic to mammals and the environment because they require the specialized form of cellular machinery found only in bacteria to multiply. Another plus is that no genetic engineering is required to make phage cocktails. Scientists say because bacteriophages are so plentiful, it’s not difficult to combine them into cocktails that can be highly effective against bacteria.
This is not pie-in-the-sky science fiction. Before antibiotics, phage therapy was used with varying degrees of success against a range of bacterial diseases. But with the advent of antibiotics during World War II, interest in phage therapy plummeted. However, increased concern about antibiotic resistance has once again put them into the spotlight.
Phage cocktails and food safety
Phages don’t affect the taste, smell, consistency or the freshness of food. And in the case of oysters, they would not kill them.
“Making food safer Nature’s way,” is how an Intralytix video about phages and food safety describes it.
USDA lead scientist Richards said he anticipates phage-intervention will be the first of many treatments for use by the U.S. seafood industry “as we continue to strive to improve aquaculture operations and develop novel processing technologies to enhance seafood safety.”
“Clearly the use of naturally occurring phages to combat pathogens in the food supply would represent a ‘green’ approach for tackling some of today’s problems facing agricultural production and food safety” he said.
“Absolutely,” agreed veterinary scientist Hase when asked about the possibility of using phages for food safety in oysters, especially for raw oysters on the half shell.
“Consumers are so conscious about food safety,” she said. “Fear can drive people away from a product like raw oysters. But when they know the oysters are safe, they want them.”
Taylor Shellfish spokesman Dewey agreed.
“The main market and excitement in oysters revolves around live oysters on the half shell,” he said. “We’re looking for a silver bullet that would eliminate vibrio and leave the oysters alive.”
While the company is achieving good success by putting the oysters in ice as soon as they’re harvested and keeping them below 50 degrees, phages might provide a better alternative.
“A live seawater oyster-holding system with the phages in it might be one way to eliminate Vibrio parahaemolyticus,” he said. “It’s certainly a potential down the road.”

FSIS to Streamline Food Safety Rules for Pork
Source :
By (Mar 23, 2016)
US - The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published a proposed rule that would amend, consolidate and streamline existing regulations for meat and poultry products.
The rule would eliminate redundant trichinae control requirements for pork and pork products and consolidate regulations for thermally processed, commercially sterile meat and poultry products, the North American Meat Institute reported.
If finalised, the supplemental proposed rule would remove the provisions for the prescribed treatment of pork products.
FSIS’ Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations require every federally-inspected establishment to identify and control food safety hazards that are reasonably likely to occur, making prescriptive trichinae regulations no longer necessary.
Under this proposed rule, establishments would still be required to control for the risk of trichinae and other parasites.
FSIS’ HACCP regulations require establishments to develop science-based controls for trichinae that are appropriate for the hazards identified for each specific establishment.
FSIS also developed a compliance guide establishments can follow, should this rule become final. Comments on the proposed rule will be due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.




Internet Journal of Food Safety (Operated by FoodHACCP)
[2015] Current Issues

Vol 17.64-74
Sanitation and Hygiene Meat Handling Practices in Small and Medium Enterprise butcheries in Kenya - Case Study of Nairobi and Isiolo Counties
Sharon Chepkemoi, Peter Obimbo Lamuka, George Ooko Abong’ and Joseph Matofari

Vol 17.25-31
Combined Effect Of Disinfectant And Phage On The Survivality Of S. Typhimurium And Its Biofilm Phenotype
Mudit Chandra, Sunita Thakur, Satish S Chougule, Deepti Narang, Gurpreet Kaur and N S Sharma

Vol 17.21-24
Quality analysis of milk and milk products collected from Jalandhar, Punjab, India
Shalini Singh, Vinay Chandel, Pranav Soni

Vol 17.10-20
Functional and Nutraceutical Bread prepared by using Aqueous Garlic Extract
H.A.R. Suleria, N. Khalid, S. Sultan, A. Raza, A. Muhammad and M. Abbas

Vol 17.6-9
Microbiological Assessment of Street Foods of Gangtok And Nainital, Popular Hill Resorts of India
Niki Kharel, Uma Palni and Jyoti Prakash Tamang

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Assessment of the Microbial Quality of Locally Produced Meat (Beef and Pork) in Bolgatanga Municipal of Ghana
Innocent Allan Anachinaba, Frederick Adzitey and Gabriel Ayum Teye

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