- The Food Safety Consortium Newsletter
- Vol. 11, No. 4
- Fall 2001
- Murano Takes Helm
at USDA Food Safety Post
- Matrix Helps Navigate
Maze of Food Safety Laws
- After Irradiating,
ISU Keeps Pork Cuts Attractive to Consumers
- Report From the
- Annual Meeting
Convenes, Symposium Postponed
- Fung's Inspiration
Popped Up Before His Eyes
- Papers and Presentations
- Food Safety Digest
- Murano Takes Helm at USDA Food Safety Post
- Elsa A. Murano, formerly a principal investigator
with the Food Safety Consortium when she served on the Iowa State
University faculty, was sworn in as undersecretary of agriculture
for food safety on Oct. 2 following the U.S. Senate's confirmation
of her nomination by President Bush. She has most recently served
as director of the Center for Food Safety at Texas A&M University.
As the undersecretary for food safety, Murano is USDA's top food
safety official and oversees the policies and programs of the
Food Safety and Inspection Service. She has extensive public
and private experience in the field of food safety as both a
manager and an educator. From 1995 until her recent
swearing-in, Murano held several positions at Texas A&M University.
Since 1997, she served as the director of the university's Center
for Food Safety within the Institute of Food Science and Engineering.
During this time she also served on the university's Department
of Animal Science Research Advisory Committee and the Food Safety
Response Team of the Texas Agriculture Extension Service, and
served from 1999-2001 as the chair of the Food Safety State Initiative
Committee of the Texas Agriculture Experiment Station. In
2000 she was appointed professor in the Department of Animal
Science, after having been an associate professor in that same
department from 1995 to 2000. Murano was awarded the Sadie Hatfield
Endowed Professorship in Agriculture in 2000.
Murano served as a professor in charge of research programs at
the Linear Accelerator Facility at Iowa State University from
1992 to 1995. She had been an assistant professor in the Department
of Microbiology, Immunology, and Preventive Medicine at ISU since
* * *
- The following is the text of Murano's
remarks to the U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
Committee on Sept. 26 during her confirmation hearing:
Chairman Harkin, Ranking Member Lugar, and distinguished members
of the Committee, I am greatly honored and humbled to appear
before you today as President Bush's nominee for undersecretary
for food safety at the United States Department of Agriculture.
I would like to publicly thank the president and Secretary Ann
Veneman for their support and for their trust in nominating me
for this position.
I am a native of Havana, Cuba. My family and I emigrated to the
United States 40 years ago. As a Cuban-American, I can proclaim
to you without hesitation that we live in the greatest country
on the face of the Earth. America opened her arms to Cubans fleeing
Castro's regime, allowing me the incredible opportunities that
have led to my appearing before you today. On behalf of my family
and the countless other Cuban-Americans, I thank the United States
of America, my country, for standing up for freedom and for the
generosity and indomitable spirit of her people.
It was 1961 when my parents, my brother George, and I left our
homeland, settling in Puerto Rico, where I attended elementary
school. A few years later, we moved to Miami, Fla., where I worked
my way through school, graduating with a B.S. in biology from
Florida International University. I developed a deep interest
in the medical field and in public health, which guided me to
earn an M.S. degree in anaerobic microbiology, and a Ph.D. in
food science from Virginia Tech. I also developed an appreciation
for the field of food microbiology, and decided to dedicate my
life to the study of bacteria, which although microscopic, are
capable of causing so many cases of foodborne illness each year
in our country, and throughout the world.
As you know from reading my background documents, I have been
a researcher and teacher in the field of food safety, both at
Iowa State and Texas A&M Universities. My research efforts
have led me to investigate organisms like Escherichia coli
O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella,
all the bad actors that have become household words. My approach
in this work has been to determine where these pathogens are
found, and to investigate safe methods that can be used to control
or eliminate them from farm to table.
Throughout my career as a researcher, I have become keenly aware
of the importance of sound scientific studies, and how these
can help provide us with the critical information we need to
make decisions that will truly reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
I have also observed the need for a proactive approach, one that
does not react to food safety crises but rather anticipates risks.
The events of Sept. 11 are a reminder to all of us that we need
to be diligent in order to prevent threats to our food supply
as much as humanly possible.
As an educator, I have seen how education can become one of our
most effective tools in combating foodborne illness, and although
I am aware of the great strides that have been made in this arena
with the Fight Bac campaign, there is still much to be done.
My work in Latin America on HACCP training has opened my eyes
to the importance of helping those countries, of whom we are
the customer, to improve their food safety prevention systems.
I have also come to believe very strongly that inclusion of all
stakeholders, working to attack the issues rather than each other,
is the key to our success in decreasing the risk of foodborne
illness. We're all in this together, government (and I mean not
only those in USDA, but all other agencies that play a role in
food safety), consumers, industry, educators, and scientists.
It is only through a team approach, working in total transparency,
and standing on the truth of science that we will accomplish
our goal for America of having the safest food supply possible.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I look forward to working with you and
the members of the Committee on these issues.
- Matrix Helps Navigate Maze of Food Safety Laws
- Start trying to figure out who has jurisdiction
over a particular aspect of food safety among the numerous federal
and state agencies and you may want a team of lawyers to sift
through the maze. That's already been done for you by a University
of Arkansas research group.
The agricultural attorneys spent more than a year reviewing all
food safety laws of the federal government and of the 50 states.
They finished their work by producing the multi-volume Food
Safety: State and Federal Standards and Regulations, which
can be found on the Web at http://www.nasda-hq.org/nasda/nasda/Foundation/foodsafety/index.html.
"Although the matrix of differing agencies having similar
responsibilities for the same food product may be bewildering,
it is vital for everyone in the food chain to be familiar with
the requirements of local, state and federal agencies, especially
in the area of food safety, to be successful," said the
research team published in the April edition of Food Technology
The project's leaders are Philip G. Crandall, a U of A food science
professor and Food Safety Consortium investigator; Jake W. Looney,
a law professor in the National Center for Agricultural Law Research
and Information at the U of A, and Anita K. Poole, a Fayetteville,
Ark., lawyer and former research fellow with the NCALRI.
"At the federal level the responsibilities for food safety
are shared by at least a dozen agencies whose legal authority
is derived from 35 separate federal statutes," Crandall
said. "Within this complex matrix, the type of food product
being produced and in some cases the type of food contaminant
separates wide ranging and often overlapping responsibilities."
Crandall said the project marks the first time that all federal
and state laws and regulations have been condensed into one document.
"This is invaluable information for local, national and
multinational food processors who must comply with these regulations,"
The present-day system has evolved from the nation's early days
when food quality was regulated by state and local officials.
Concerns about adulteration began to emerge in the mid-19th century
as more food was shipped across state lines. The U.S. Department
of Agriculture was founded in 1862 with a mission that included
training food producers. The publication of Upton Sinclair's
landmark novel The Jungle at the turn of the century focused
more public attention on problems with cleanliness in meat packing
plants and the food supply in general.
By 1906, Congress passed the first federal laws regulating food
production by prohibiting adulterated or misbranded food to be
shipped in interstate commerce and requiring meat inspection.
Summarizing the breakdown of modern food safety law in the Food
Technology article, the project team chose five federal agencies
that have primary responsibilities for food safety: the Food
Safety and Inspection Service, the Food and Drug Administration,
the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Trade Commission
and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries
Service. Under each of those agencies, the researchers explored
aspects of their authority in the areas of adulteration, misbranding/labeling
"States retain a considerable amount of authority,"
the researchers wrote, because the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic
Act of 1938 contains no comprehensive provisions that would preempt
state law. Most federal laws require states that choose to regulate
labeling to adopt rules identical to those at the federal level.
States are free to act otherwise as they wish so long as their
legislation is not inconsistent with federal law. States may
regulate meat, poultry and egg inspection programs within their
states provided that their regulations are at least as strict
as those of the federal government. About half the states have
their own meat and poultry inspection programs for products sold
within their originating state. The state agencies may carry
out those inspections in cooperation with the federal Food Safety
and Inspection Service.
Reprints of the Food Technology article are available
from the Food Safety Consortium at email@example.com
or110 Agriculture Building, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville,
- After Irradiating, ISU Keeps Pork Cuts Attractive
- Irradiated meats aren't yet a common sight
in the nation's grocery display cases as marketers carefully
consider consumers' demands. Before processors sell products
treated with electronic pasteurization, they have some findings
from scientists to ponder that will make irradiated meats more
palatable to shoppers.
Double packaging, for example, will reduce odors that can result
when meat is irradiated. Longer shelf life is an added benefit
that irradiation provides in certain cases. Research also shows
that the dark, firm dry variety of pork best resists the development
"We follow a double-packaging strategy because odors from
irradiation stay inside of the bag, no matter how long you store
the meat," said Dong Ahn, a Food Safety Consortium researcher
at Iowa State University. When pork loins are only vacuum packaged,
odors can build during the longer shelf life that irradiation
allows. Double packaging involves individually packing the meat
with oxygen-permeable film and then repackaging several individual
packages in large vacuum bags. The vacuum bags are removed a
few days before marketing or consumption.
"When you vacuum package only, you open the bag and can
smell the irradiation odor," Ahn said. That could discourage
consumers from taking advantage of irradiation's assurance of
a pathogen-free meat product.
Dark, firm dry cuts of pork can benefit most by the irradiation
process, Ahn explained. These cuts are juicy and tender, but
very susceptible to microbial spoilage. So a prolonged storage
time would ordinarily be harmful to their freshness. Irradiation
can extend the length of storage time and enable markets to sell
them as fresh cuts.
Ahn's team has not formally studied the extended shelf life of
dark, firm dry cuts of pork, but he estimated that irradiation
"can usually extend shelf life for two weeks easily."
Without irradiation, the shelf life would be only three or four
"Irradiation also influences the color," Ahn said.
The three types of pork normal; pale, soft exudative, and
dark, firm dry all become redder after irradiation, particularly
the pale cuts. The extra red is a benefit to consumers of pork,
Ahn noted, a contrast from beef which becomes brown after irradiation.
The pale, soft exudative pork cuts become redder with irradiation,
but they are more susceptible to off odors in the process. Still,
Ahn believes its acceptability will increase among consumers.
Nonirradiated cuts of pale pork are unattractive to consumers
because of their lack of color. If the color is appealing after
irradiation, and the off-odor can be reduced by packaging, irradiated
meat can be accepted by consumers, Ahn said.
Irradiated dark, firm dry pork tends to offer the best prospects
and has fewer problems in storage, Ahn noted. "It has higher
water-holding capacity and yield will be increased if used in
further processing. Those meat products will be juicier and more
tender than others."
- Report From the Coordinator
- By Gregory Weidemann
- It's easy to become saturated in the details
of individual issues and research projects, particularly in an
organization such as the Food Safety Consortium. Our personnel
explore specialized aspects of food safety research, with each
project providing at least a small contribution to the nation's
overall goal of providing a safe food supply.
Stepping back to gain some perspective is always useful when
trying to place one's work in context. Two researchers with the
U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service did
that about a year ago in an article for the ERS publication Food
Review titled "Food Safety Efforts Accelerate in the
1990s." In the September-December 2000 issue, Stephen Crutchfield
and Tanya Roberts recapped the decade in food safety and confirmed
that it was a busy one.
Their six-page review touches only on highlights, but even those
alone make up a major set of advancements and developments. Here
are just a few of them:
* The Food and Drug Administration raised the recommended internal
temperatures to which restaurants cook hamburgers to 155 degrees
* The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service declared E.
coli O157:H7 an adulterant in raw ground beef and implemented
a sampling program to test for the pathogen.
* FSIS required a label with safe food handling instructions
be placed on packages of raw meat and poultry for consumers.
* FSIS implemented in stages the Hazard Analysis and Critical
Control Point inspection system in all federally inspected meat
and poultry processing plants. Plants were required to develop
HACCP plans to monitor and control their production operations
by identifying food safety hazards and the critical control points
in the process. Then they were required to establish critical
limits for each critical control point and to develop procedures
to ensure that the critical limits are met.
* The ERS conducted a benefit/cost analysis to measure the effectiveness
of HACCP against its cost of implementation. The study found
that the public health benefits -- savings in medical costs and
productivity losses from prevention of foodborne illnesses --
were greater than HACCP's costs.
* The federal government began the National Food Safety Initiative
in 1997 which involved cooperation across several government
agencies and included additional funding for food safety research.
The national education campaign to promote safer food handling
in homes and retail outlets -- Fight BAC! -- was established
as part of this initiative.
* FoodNet, a system to monitor foodborne illnesses around the
country as a way of warning against outbreaks, was established
in 1996. The data collection system has shown a 20 percent decrease
in illnesses caused by foodborne pathogens.
* FDA and USDA approved the use of irradiation on meat and poultry,
although few processors and retailers offered irradiated foods
for sale. Surveys of consumers indicate that education about
irradiation's benefits can promote consumer acceptance.
* USDA, using the results of food safety research, began in 2000
a campaign to promote the use of food thermometers when cooking
at home rather than relying on the appearance of meat to determine
if it is fully cooked. The campaign encourages consumers to make
sure that the internal temperature of meat has reached at least
160 degrees F.
All of above represents just part of the whole story. It is clear
that research projects such as those pursued by the Food Safety
Consortium have contributed to the body of knowledge that has
enabled the nation to achieve this level of progress in 10 years.
Before looking ahead to the next levels, it always helps to look
back and see the broad sweep of where we've been, and this scene
makes for a good view.
- Annual Meeting Convenes; Symposium Postponed
- With approximately 80 participants in
attendance, Food Safety Consortium personnel gathered for the
annual meeting Sept. 16 and 17 hosted by Iowa State University
in Ames. Plans for a symposium on risk assessment that had been
set for Sept. 18 were called off because of the difficulty of
transporting speakers to the conference site.
The FSC Steering Committee decided to try again next year and
sponsor the symposium in conjunction with the 2002 annual meeting
to be held Oct. 13-15 in Manhattan, Kan., hosted by Kansas State
The 2001 symposium's speakers would have been Doug Powell of
the University of Guelph, Ontario; Anna Lammerding of Health
Canada and Alice Johnson of the National Food Processors Association.
The disruption in air service that followed the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks in New York and Washington prevented them from traveling
to the symposium site in Iowa.
Steering Committee members expressed the desire to stay with
the risk assessment topic as the focus for the 2002 symposium,
which would conclude the annual meeting as a half-day session
on the morning of Oct. 15. Details of the symposium will be announced
- Fung's Inspiration Popped Up Before His Eyes
- What a major manufacturer of adhesive
tape intended as a way to facilitate gift wrapping turned into
a way to expedite scientists' sampling for bacteria on meat.
Meat scientists checking for pathogens on meat surfaces have
several methods from which to choose, and the use of adhesive
tape is one of them. Laboratory personnel monitor the population
of microbes on meat to learn about the potential of spoilage.
Applying a piece of adhesive tape to the surface and then examining
it for bacteria is the simplest way.
The problem with that method has been the awkwardness. "One
inconvenience in the tape method was having to use both hands
to peel with adhesive tape from the protective material before
placing the tape onto the meat surface for removal of microbes,"
explained Daniel Fung, a Kansas State University food scientist
and Food Safety Consortium researcher.
After pondering this dilemma, Fung found his inspiration while
watching a television commercial. 3M, the manufacturer of Scotch
tape, was promoting its pop-up tape dispenser as a way for people
to wrap gifts without feeling the need for a third hand. Pull
a piece of tape out of the dispenser, and the next piece pops
up ready to be pulled.
"They (3M) had no idea this can be used for microbiology,"
Fung said. But he did, and set out to try it.
He found the method to be effective as well as cheap, about 1
cent per test, excluding the agar plate.
"Let's take a piece of tape and put it on the surface of
the meat for 15 seconds," Fung explained. "Peel it
off and put it on the surface of agar (a gelatin-like substance
used as a base for culture media that grow bacteria) for 15 seconds.
Peel it off and you're done. Incubate the agar for 12 to 24 hours.
Count the colonies. You don't have to do any dilutions."
In conventional swab-and-rinse methods, scientists would swab
the meat surface, place the contents in a tube, shake it up in
a mixture diluted by a ratio of 1 to 10 and incubate the dilution
for 24 hours. The procedure costs about $2 each time, a considerably
higher expense than the pop-up tape method.
"Each sheet of tape along with part of an agar will provide
information equivalent to one swab procedure, which utilizes
diluents, sterile pipettes, sterile swabs, agar and petri plates
to make viable cell counts," Fung said.
Using the tape is versatile not only because the pop-up method
allows a scientist a free hand, but the tape itself can be applied
to curved meat surfaces as well as flat surfaces.
Adhesive tape has been used in meat sampling for about 30 years,
but the procedure hasn't been promoted in an organized way, Fung
His experiments with the tape involved only beef surfaces, but
the method can also be used on surfaces of poultry, fish, pork,
fruit, tabletops and bench tops. Agars can be used to study the
prevalence of organisms such as Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes
and lactic acid bacteria.
"This may be the one we can push. This is so simple and
efficient. This will be the easiest possible way to do microbiological
sampling for meat surfaces."
- Papers and Presentations
- James Denton,
Arkansas, was named Man of the Year by the Poultry Federation
at its annual meeting in June in Hot Springs, Ark. Denton was
also named chair of the National Alliance for Food Safety Operations
Committee and director of the NAFS Poultry Safety Center. He
also delivered an invited presentation in September at the Nutrition
Lin Xie, Navam Hettiarachchy, Marlene Janes and Michael
Johnson, Arkansas, delivered a presentation on "Antimicrobial
Activity of Ginkgo Bibloa Leaf Extract on Listeria monocytogenes"
at the Institute of Food Technologists national meeting in June.
Rong Murphy, Arkansas, received grants of $75,000 from
USDA-NRI for "A Model for Pathogen Lethality and Heat/Mass
Transfer of Meat Thermal Processing," $1,629 from Tyson
Foods for "Value Added Poultry By-product Utilization,"
$5,000 from Bar-S Foods Co. for "Thermal Process Evaluation,"
$2,000 from Tyson Foods for "Steam Pasteurization Research,"
$6,000 from Advance Food Co. for "Thermal Process Evaluation,"
and $5,590 from Tyson Foods for "Thermal Lethality in Poultry
Products." Murphy and John Marcy, Arkansas, received
a $597,157 grant from USDA-CSREES for "Thermal Process Validation."
Murphy and M.E. Berrang received a $97,858 grant from
USDA-ARS for "Eliminating Listeria monocytogenes
from RTE Poultry Products."
Rong Murphy, Ellen Johnson, Bradley Marks, Michael Johnson
and John Marcy, Arkansas, published "Thermal Inactivation
of Salmonella Senftenberg and Listeria innocua in Ground Chicken
Breast Patties Processed in an Air Convection Oven" in Poultry
Science, 80: 515 521. Murphy, Ellen Johnson, L.K. Duncan,
Ed Clausen, M.D. Davis and Marcy published "Heat Transfer
Properties, Moisture Loss, Product Yield and Soluble Proteins
in Chicken Breast Patties During Air Convection Cooking"
in Poultry Science, 80: 508-514. Murphy, Ellen Johnson, Marcy
and Michael Johnson published "Survival and Growth of Salmonella
and Listeria in the Chicken Breast Patties Subjected to Time
and Temperature Abuse Under Varying Conditions" in Journal
of Food Science, 64: 23-29.
Rong Murphy, Ellen Johnson and M.D. Davis,
Arkansas, delivered a presentation on "Kinetic Parameters
for Thermal Inactivation of Salmonella spp. and Listeria innocua
in Commercially Formulated Chicken Patties and Franks" in
August at the International Association of Food Processors meeting
in Minneapolis. Murphy, Johnson, L.K. Duncan and Davis delivered
a presentation on "Pathogen Survival, Moisture Change and
Soluble Proteins in Chicken Patties Processed by an Air Impingement
Oven" also at the IAFP meeting. Murphy, Johnson, Davis,
R.E. Wolfe and H.G. Brown delivered a presentation on "Lethality
of Salmonella Senftenberg and Listeria innocua During Steam Pasteurization
of Ready-to-Eat Chicken Breast Strips" at the Institute
of Food Technologists annual meeting in June in New Orleans.
Murphy, Ellen Johnson, Davis, Michael Johnson and M. Wu delivered
a presentation on "Pathogen Process Lethality and Product
Yield for Chicken Patties Processed in a Pilot-Scale Air Impingement
Oven" also at the IFT meeting.
Krista Fingerhut, P. Zhang and John (Sean) Fox, Kansas State, published "Consumer preferences
for Pathogen-Reducing Technologies in Beef" in the Journal
of Food Safety, Vol. 21, No. 2.
Daniel Fung, Kansas State, conducted
the first Rapid Methods Workshop in April in Wuhan, China, which
attracted more than 200 participants. Fung also conducted workshops
in April in Hong Kong and in July in Singapore. He chaired a
symposium in April in Seoul, South Korea, was a keynote speaker
at a workshop in May in Hungary, was a keynote speaker in August
at the Food Safety Congress in San Jose, Costa Rica, and served
as an advisory board member in June for Merck in Germany.
Fung also received the Outstanding Educator Award in August from
the Society for Industrial Microbiology.
Fung's research into dried plums received news coverage nationally
in The New York Times, The Kansas City Star and
The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle. The research shows that
dried plum extracts can suppress the growth of E. coli O157:H7,
Salmonella typhimurium, S. aureus, Listeria monocytogenes
and Yersinia enterocolitica. Fung plans to present data
on the research at meetings in Chicago and Japan.
Irene Wesley, Iowa State, delivered
a presentation on "Campylobacter: Genotyping Methods"
in a seminar at the annual meeting of the Association of Analytical
Chemists in September in Kansas City, Mo. Also in September,
she participated in a meeting of the International Taxonomy Committee
for Campylobacter and Related Organisms in Freibrug, Germany.
- Food Safety Digest
By Dave Edmark
- More efforts are under way on the irradiation
education front. The Minnesota Beef Council and SureBeam Corp.
are targeting cattle producers and processors, food scientists,
public health agencies, public policymakers, restaurant and retail
operators and consumers in several states about the benefits
of the technology, according to Feedstuffs, the agribusiness
The council and San Diego-based SureBeam have signed an agreement
to take the program to other states. They are using as a model
the consumer education campaign that was launched in 1997 in
Minnesota. By 2000, Huisken Meats of Minnesota began marketing
irradiated beef patties in the state's retail stores. Since then
Huisken has expanded the product to 23 states.
A report by SureBeam and the council said they are contacting
people in 17 states to arrange educational programs to promote
irradiation. In those states, handbooks will be published, brochures
will be distributed and product samplings will be conducted at
* * *
- Mad cow disease, which has caused problems
for the meat industry in Europe for many months, has appeared
in Japan. In September, Japan's largest fast food chain
of beef bowl restaurants announced it was abandoning domestic
beef and switching to American beef. McDonald's Japanese restaurants
began using only Australian beef.
* * *
Dr. Howard Eugene Bauman, who is credited with being the developer
of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points system of
food inspection, died Aug. 8 in Minneapolis at age 76.
He worked for 36 years as a food scientist for the Pillsbury
Co., joining the company in 1953 after earning a doctorate at
the University of Wisconsin. At Pillsbury he first served as
head of research in its bacteria section, then director of corporate
research and finally as vice president for science and regulatory
affairs before he retired in 1989.
Although his development of the HACCP system assured him of a
prominent role in the history of food safety, he was better known
nationally as the man who conceived ways to feed astronauts in
the early days of the space program. The New York Times
reported that Pillsbury put him in charge of a team that designed
astronauts' meals. "He developed edibles that had to last
a month without refrigeration, withstand high temperatures and
humidity, and bounce off the walls without crumbling, among other
things," the Times said.
His work to provide safe food for the space program led to development
of the HACCP systems for earthbound processors. In the early
1970s, he tested the HACCP system of monitoring potential hazards
at various stages of processing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture
asked for a system to insure safety in canning vegetables. After
Bauman's tests, the Food and Drug Administration implemented
regulations adopting his HACCP system for canners. By the late
1990s, USDA required its use in the meat and poultry processing
industries.and FDA required it of seafood processors.
- Return to newsletter