The Food Safety Consortium Newsletter
Vol. 11, No. 2
Spring 2001
* OFPA Focuses on Food Safety at Convention
* Food Processors Go Back to Basics
* Allergens' Impact Gains Attention
* Report From the Coordinator
* 21st Rapid Methods Conference Set at KSU
* Restructured Beef Merits Extra Attention to Risk
* ISU Revisits Conventional Wisdom of Pork Production
* Papers and Presentations
* Food Safety Digest

OFPA Focuses on Food Safety at Convention

A food industry official who describes his job as "keeping politics out of food safety in Washington" said the American food industry "really does drive food safety in the country."

Kelly Johnston, in his address to the 95th annual convention of the Ozark Food Processors Association, discussed his responsibilities as the National Food Processors Association's executive vice president for government affairs and communications. The OFPA, in associaton with the University of Arkansas Institute of Food Science and Engineering, featured food safety and quality as the theme of its convention and exposition in March in Springdale, Ark.

Johnston expressed relief that food safety did not become politicized during the 2000 presidential campaign. He predicted that there would not be much happening in development of new food safety policy during the next two years, but that government funding for regulatory agencies would have the most impact on implementation of policies.

Johnston said efforts to improve food safety are under assault from several fronts. Foremost among them is the problem of emerging pathogens. As scientists learn more about how to fight bacteria, they often find new dangers. A few years ago, for example, E. coli O157:H7 was known to be a danger to meat, but no one thought it would survive in apple juice until an outbreak occurred.

"Modern-day Luddites" who oppose irradiation and biotechnology also hinder food safety efforts, Johnston said. "For the last 50 years we've had the most bizarre federal policy because of opposition to irradiation," he said, noting that government has classified irradiation of foods as an additive. Industry has petitioned government agencies to remove that classification on grounds that irradiation is a method of pasteurization of food rather than an additive.

Events in Europe also have threatened confidence in food safety in the U.S., Johnston said. The outbreak of mad-cow disease in Europe has caught the attention of Americans. Johnston credited the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture with good work, but food processors are worried about surveys that show consumers are considering cutting back on beef because of the problems in Europe.

"We're confident that the secretary (of agriculture) and industry are doing everything possible to keep the disease out of the U.S.," Johnston said.

He noted that consumers' preferences have created new areas of concern for food safety. "More people are now using ready-to-eat foods," Johnston said. Because people are spending less time preparing foods in the kitchen, they don't know as much about food safety as earlier generations. "We are vulnerable on basic consumer education in food safety."

Food processors "are primarily responsible for the safety of our products," Johnston said. "We have to do everything we can to see that consumers have full confidence in the food safety regulatory system so we don't go the way of Europe."

Johnston said that President Bush has acknowledged calls for establishment of a single food safety agency in the federal government, but his administration has not taken a stand on the issue. Johnston said NFPA also has not taken a stand but is aware of the pros and cons of the question. Currently, responsibility for food safety is divided among several agencies depending on the specific type of food or function to be performed.

"On the whole, it could be good," Johnston said. "But merging the regulatory agencies is premature before food safety policies are coordinated among the agencies." Canada has merged responsibilities for inspection of all foods, which Johnston said makes sense. He said industry should seek to drive the design of any new agency established by the government.

Food Processors Go Back to Basics
It never hurts to review the basics, which is what John Marcy of the University of Arkansas did for the Ozark Food Processors Association at its annual convention in March in Springdale, Ark. Marcy, an Extension food scientist and Food Safety Consortium researcher, summarized the dangers of the organisms that cause foodborne illnesses.

The "big three" bacteria that cause the most foodborne illnesses are Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium perfringens, Marcy said. But there are qualifiers. For example, data from 1996 to 1999 showed that Campylobacter caused more diarrheal illness than Salmonella, although the numbers declined in 1999.

Clostridium botulinum is a severe organism because it creates a nerve toxin. "The place we have controlled this is in the canned food industry," Marcy said. Foods with pathogenic bacteria can infect people who eat them, but food with toxins are different. It isn't necessary to eat the living organism to become sick. "All you have to do is eat the food that contains the toxin."

Pathogenic bacteria are different from spoilage bacteria. "Spoilage bacteria break down food components and make it unusable and distasteful," Marcy said. "You don't want to eat it, but that doesn't mean it's unsafe. We have this concept that the food went bad. That doesn't mean that it's safe or unsafe. It just means it's bad.

"The quality factor of spoilage is different from pathogens that can cause disease from food. That's why when we talk about HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), we have to focus on food safety issues versus quality issues."

Bacteria need six things to grow: food, acidity, time, temperature, oxygen and moisture. Some bacteria that require atmospheric oxygen are the ones that cause spoilage. "That's why when we try to extend the shelf life of meat and poultry we vacuum package it," Marcy said. "That slows down the spoilage bacteria dramatically, but it doesn't stop it."

Other bacteria that require no oxygen and will perish if exposed to oxygen, such as Clostridium, which needs anaerobic conditions.

Viruses are sometimes misunderstood. Unlike bacteria, they do not grow on food. Food is the means of transferring a virus from fecal matter to humans by ingestion. Viruses transmitted this way can cause hepatitis A, which requires 30 to 45 days of incubation before someone becomes sick.

Hepatitis A can spread through restaurants if their employees do not wash their hands routinely. By the time a restaurant discovers that one of its employees has become sick, it's too late. "You can't wait for them to get sick to send them home," Marcy said. "They've already infected people. How many times have you read in the newspaper, 'If you ate here this week, go to the health department.'?"


Allerg
ens' Impact Gains Attention
Allergens - the substances that cause allergic reactions - are "an evolving food safety issue" that has received increased attention from industry and government in the past few years. Henry Chin, vice president of the National Food Processors Association Center for Technical Assistance, says labeling, consumer awareness and industry's good manufacturing practices are the keys to fighting the problem.

Chin, speaking to the Ozark Food Processors Association annual convention in March in Springdale, Ark., said that the Food and Drug Administration's priorities in the early 1990s were microbial pathogens, nutritional issues and environmental contaminants. In 1996, then-FDA Commissioner David Kessler added another one to the list when he told industry there was a major public health problem with allergens in foods.

About 1 to 2 percent of adults have food allergies. Five percent of children are allergic but most of them outgrow the allergies, Chin said. For some people who are allergic, coming into contact with allergens can cause severe reactions.

Eight foods account for 90 percent of food allergens, Chin said: peanuts, eggs, milk, legumes, tree nuts, fish, mollusks and wheat.

Before 1988, there were no food recalls associated with allergens, but there has been a steady increase since 1993. "That doesn't mean we're getting careless in terms of labeling nor that we're finding more people who are allergic," Chin said. "It just means there is greater awareness of this issue now."

Among some allergic people, "symptoms can occur within minutes of exposure," Chin said. "Sensitive individuals can react within a minute. Often the most sensitive individuals may die within 30 minutes."

Reactions can be triggered by small amounts of allergens, such as traces of peanut butter left on knife. With no cure for allergies, Chin said the only feasible action for individuals who suffer from them is to avoid foods with allergens.

"Labeling in terms of processed foods or packaged foods is key in terms of conveying information to the consumer about the presence or absence of an allergen," he said. Consumers and food processors need to be aware of what's in the ingredients.

"In terms of risk analysis and risk assessment, we need to identify whether the product contains one of the eight major food allergens," Chin said. A peanut butter manufacturer, for example, obviously knows that the product has an allergen. But a chili manufacturer needs to stop and consider whether any of the product's ingredients contain peanuts, or if peanuts are the base of any flavorings.

Food processors need to have preventive plans that examine where in processing that a hazard could be introduced into the product stream and whether cleaning processes are adequate on machines that process both products with and without allergens.

If a recall is necessary, Chin said, the Food Allergy Network is available to work closely with companies. Upon notification by a company that a recall is being implemented, Food Allergy Network notifies its members - consumers with food allergies - to beware of the particular product.

Report From the Coordinator
By Gregory Weidemann
The unfamiliar face you see in the photograph accompanying this column deserves some introduction. I am Gregory Weidemann, the new coordinator of the Food Safety Consortium and chair of its steering committee. I began my duties in this position in January, shortly after Charles Scifres left the University of Arkansas and the FSC coordinator's duties upon his acceptance of a new administrative job at Texas A&M University.

I currently serve as the interim dean of the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences at Arkansas, but I am no stranger to the FSC. I have served on the FSC steering committee for the past few years representing our university in my capacity as associate director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station.

My work on the committee has enabled me to become acquainted not only with our researchers' food safety projects here at the University of Arkansas, but also with our FSC colleagues' work at Iowa State University and Kansas State University. Our annual meetings have been productive sessions for all involved and have been excellent sources for information exchange.

The FSC faces a full agenda in the coming months. The change in presidential administrations may bring new people to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in food safety and it will be our job to begin to know them.

We are also looking ahead to our annual meeting in September, which will be held this year at Iowa State University. We are trying something new this time with a half-day conference scheduled to begin immediately after the annual meeting. A panel of prominent experts in risk assessment is being assembled for the occasion, which will be open to the public. Details will be announced soon but we are already assured that the event will be an innovative addition to our gathering.

The research led by our personnel at the three universities continues to be the reason for our existence. Their work attracts attention in both the research and industrial communities worldwide. Discussions of food safety are not restricted to scientists and food industry executives but now include consumer advocates, government officials and the general public. As an organization of scientists, we are expected to communicate with the various constituencies of food safety. In a sense, the entire nation is depending on us in our work. We owe them a return on their investment.

21st Rapid Methods Conference Set at KSU
The 21st annual Rapid Methods and Automation in Microbiology Workshop is set for July 6-13 at Kansas State University in Manhattan. Daniel Fung, a Food Safety Consortium investigator and KSU food science professor, is the workshop director.

The workshop is designed for microbiologists, food scientists, medical technologists, consultants, quality assurance and control managers, laboratory directors and researchers.

Visiting professors at the conference will be Millicent C. Goldschmidt, a professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center Dental Science Institute and expert on microbiological instrumentation, and J. Stanley Bailey, a research microbiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and adjunct professor of poultry science at the University of Georgia. Nelson A. Cox, a USDA research microbiologist, is an honorary visiting professor. Randall Phebus, a KSU associate professor of food science, is the workshop assistant director.

An mini-symposium will be held July 6-7 for those unable to stay for the full workshop.

The workshop registration fee is $1,755 for the eight-day event or $455 for only the mini symposium. Information on registration is available by calling the KSU Division of Continuing Education at 1-800-432-8222 or 785-532-5569 or through the web site at http://www.dce.ksu.edu/dce/cl/microbiology, which has a full schedule of events. Accommodations will be handled and charged separately through the Manhattan Holiday Inn or KSU residence halls.

Restructured Beef Merits Extra Attention to Risk
Anyone who has dined on "restructured" or "mechanically tenderized" beef probably didn't know it. These processes yield meat products that generally appear to be whole muscle cuts. However, they offer the advantages of being uniform in shape and tenderness. As a group, products that are made using these and other tenderization technologies are referred to as "non-intact."

Do these products pose a different level of risk compared to intact, whole-muscle counterparts? Extensive research at Kansas State University's Food Safety Consortium unit is addressing this question to make processing and cooking recommendations designed to improve their safe preparation.

Restructuring is a procedure often used to produce meat products for restaurants and food service operations. Pieces of meats from different cuts are bound together using enzymes or other binding technologies to create a more usable product. The process can be used to make a more high-end product and cause it to appear more uniform, an important characteristic for food service, "like a whole piece of muscle," explained Randall Phebus, an associate professor of food science and Food Safety Consortium researcher.

But the resulting meat isn't intact muscle, so the risk of microbial contamination can be higher unless appropriate processing and cooking guidelines are followed.

With whole muscle meat products, bacteria are confined at or near the surface of the meat and are easily killed during even minimal cooking, thus assuring their safety. But the restructuring process carries formerly exterior surfaces into the interior of the product. If those surfaces are contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, these harmful bacteria could be distributed throughout the interior of the product in fairly high concentrations.

"In this situation, the center of the cut (slowest heating) must reach lethal temperatures to acceptably control the risk; much like cooking ground beef patties," Phebus said. "A rare to medium rare restructured steak may pose a risk to the consumer."

Blade tenderization is a more widely utilized technology in which narrow blades are passed through the meat subprimal to break connective tissue and provide more uniform tenderness of the final products. This process results in a "non-intact" muscle. However, the final product does not appear different from an "intact" counterpart to an average consumer.

The penetration of the blades through the exterior surface of the meat could potentially carry bacterial contamination into the interior of the product. KSU studies looked at the resulting distribution of bacteria throughout the products and identified cooking protocols that would effectively eliminate that level of bacteria present in the center of resulting meat cuts.

By artificially inoculating the meat surfaces with E. coli O157:H7, Phebus' team found that approximately 3 to 5 percent of the external contamination is typically carried to the center of the product. Oven broiling of steaks cut from these blade-tenderized subprimals indicated that this level of potential contamination is effectively controlled by cooking to an internal temperature of 60 degrees C (140 degrees Fahrenheit).

Further studies have shown that gas grilling of these steaks may provide less control in achieving the target 140-degree F internal temperatures because the meat is heated from one side at a time. Also, the edges of steaks tend to curl and lose contact with the grill. Using weights placed on top of the steaks can minimize this curling.

The most important finding from these studies, according to Phebus, is the realization that it is not scientifically valid to classify as "non-intact" all meat products produced through restructuring, mechanical tenderization, marination and injection technologies.

"Our studies with both beef and pork products clearly demonstrate that the bacteriological risks associated with different product types that are lumped into the non-intact category are very different," Phebus said. "Food service cooking recommendations and regulatory considerations for production of these products must consider these risk differences. Blanket statements and recommendations should not be made in regards to their safety."

"Our studies document that restructured beef and pork products appear to pose a higher level of risk in terms of pathogenic contamination compared to other products considered non intact," said James Marsden, a KSU Food Safety Consortium researcher who participated in the studies. "However, these risks can be minimized if processors operate within a well-designed, scientifically validated HACCP system." HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) systems are science-based procedures used by food processors that intervene at key points to reduce the likelihood of pathogens being in raw materials.

"If this approach is not taken," Marsden continued, "then restructured steaks should be cooked according to USDA ground beef recommendations - to an internal temperature of 71 degrees C (160 degrees F). If an effective HACCP plan is in operation, lower and more desirable end-point temperatures can be safely utilized for restructured products."


IS
U Revisits Conventional Wisdom of Pork Production
It may be time to rethink the ways that pork producers process swine from the farm to the slaughterhouse, or abattoir. The goal is to reduce the prevalence of pathogenic bacteria on the animals as much as possible before they are harvested and their carcasses are taken through the processing plants. Some conventional wisdom on the best ways to do that may be giving way to new possibilities.

The process that has been under study by Food Safety Consortium investigators at Iowa State University is called "all-in, all-out" management. That means a group of swine are raised on the farm together and shipped to the abattoir together without interacting with other groups of swine. The opposite procedure is continuous flow, in which individual pigs don't stay exclusively with the same set of pigs throughout their lives but are mingled with others all the way to the abattoir.

The point of this segregation of swine is to limit the introduction of different organisms to the swine, explained Jim McKean, an ISU extension veterinarian who led the study.

"With all-in, all-out you have the opportunity to clean and sanitize the holding facility before the animals come in," he said. "All the animals which are the primary reservoir of infectious disease in there are removed as well. So you can remove the primary reservoir and then you remove the environmental contamination by cleaning disinfectant, and then you put the new batch of swine in. That's the theory behind all-in, all-out."

All-in, all-out is a popular procedure with hog producers. McKean said recent surveys showed about 60 percent of producers use it at least nominally. That share of producers accounts for about 75 percent of all the hogs going through the systems.

But all-in, all-out can fall short of its goal and still facilitate the transmission of disease. Birds, rodents, flies and other organisms can transmit bacteria into whatever environment the hogs are segregated, and the damage is done.

ISU surveyed swine herds in Iowa and North Carolina to see how well served they were by all-in, all-out. Samplings of the cohorts of swine on the farm and later at the abattoir showed mixed results, with levels of pathogens, especially Salmonella, significantly higher at the abattoir in many cases. The figures suggest that somewhere from the farm to the abattoir, the all-in, all-out method is failing to prevent contamination.

McKean said the preliminary data would indicate that contamination most likely occurs during transport to the abattoir and during the animals' stay at the abattoir. More research is needed to pinpoint the trouble. Results from future findings would likely have a strong influence on HACCP procedures between the swine farm and the processor.

Any future study would have to start by determining the goal, McKean said. "Is it to have minimal Salmonella in the animal or no Salmonella in the carcass that results from the harvesting of those animals?"

An effort to keep Salmonella out of the animal from the start is probably doomed to fail, he said, because of the environmental contamination by rodents and birds around production systems and the prevalence of Salmonella when animals are commingled at the abattoir before slaughter, or harvest. HACCP procedures at the processing stage are intended to clean the carcasses of whatever pathogen they may have imported.

During the time the swine spend waiting in pens at the abattoir before harvest, exposure to animals from other farms at those pens can contribute to contamination, as can the stress of transport to the facility.

This situation leads to the question of whether on-farm precautions to minimize Salmonella carriage are beneficial if the swine become contaminated once they leave the farm. "If you're going to gain any benefits from changes on the farm, then the swine either can't go through that leveling area (transport and abattoir pens) or you've got to modify that area to stop the transmission of the Salmonella during that time," McKean said.

The differences in the environment can be dramatic. McKean explained that his group's study showed that 30 hogs a week over 10 weeks registered only one serotype of Salmonella at the farm. At the plant, the hogs were found to have 15 other serotypes, plus the on-farm serotypes after they had been waiting with the other hogs for two hours.

The analysis suggests that "some of this environmental contamination may be from the animals who were in that pen the last time immediately preceding the test animals," McKean said. "If everyone on the other farms reduced their level, you might be able to reduce this contamination at the plant."

Denmark has been trying that route. McKean said the Danes have concentrated on farm level contamination. Farms are grouped according to their contamination levels and kept segregated from groups with different contamination levels all the way through processing.

In the U.S., the problem still appears to be focused on the holding pens in the abattoirs and finding ways to intervene there. Various interventions including pen sanitation, animal movement and feed or water additives to reduce Salmonella loads have been proposed and require investigation.

"If you're going to reduce the Salmonella exposures to carcasses, you have essentially two places to do that," he said. "One is the incoming product and the other is activities within the plant."

If no more than 5 percent of the swine on the farm are infected and that level can be maintained through processing, that allows less opportunity for mistakes to be made while butchering.

"If 95 percent of your animals didn't have Salmonella in the gut, then those few that can cause contamination would be greatly reduced, as opposed to 40 to 70 percent currently being presented," McKean said.

P
apers and Presentations
James Denton, Arkansas, participated in meetings of the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection in October, the National Alliance for Food Safety Board of Directors meeting in October in College Station, Texas, and the International HAACP Alliance Board of Directors meetings in December in Chicago and in March in Atlanta.

Yanbin Li and Yongcheng Liu, both of Arkansas, received a $130,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Resources Inventory. The project is titled "An Immuno Electrochemical-Optical Biosensor With a Capillary Bioseparator/Bioreactor for Rapid Detection of Pathogens in Poultry and Meat Products."

Yanbin Li, Yongcheng Liu and Yihua Che, all of Arkansas, published "Rapid Detection of Salmonella typhimurium Using Immunomagnetic Separation and Immuno-optical Sensing Method" in the Journal of Sensors and Actuators, 72 (3): 214-218.

Rong Murphy, Arkansas, delivered a presentation on "Thermal Inactivation Kinetics of Pathogens in Commercial Meat Products" to the Symposia of Biochemistry and Biotechnology Division at the annual meeting of the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists in January in Fort Worth, Texas.

Rong Murphy, Ellen Johnson, Michael Johnson and Bradley Marks, all of Arkansas, delivered presentations on "Growth of Salmonella and Listeria in Thermally-Processed Poultry Products During Refrigerated Storage" and "Microbial Lethality Kinetics in Poultry Products During Convection Cooking" at the 2000 Institute of Food Technologists meeting in Dallas. They also presented a paper on "Factors Affecting the Thermal Inactivation of Bacteria in Poultry Products During Air Convection Cooking" at the 2000 International Association for Food Protection meeting in Atlanta. Murphy, Ellen Johnson and Marks presented a paper on "Evaluating Thermal and Physical Properties of Poultry Products During Air Convection Cooking" as ASAE Paper No. 006080 in Milwaukee.

Murphy, Ellen Johnson, John Marcy and Michael Johnson, all of Arkansas, published "Survival and Growth of Salmonella and Listeria in the Chicken Breast Patties Subjected to Time Temperature Abuse Under Varying Conditions" in Journal of Food Protection, 64: 23-29.

Murphy, Marks, Ellen Johnson, Michael Johnson and H. Chen published "Thermal Inactivation Kinetics of Salmonella and Listeria in Ground Chicken Breast Meat and Liquid Medium" in Journal of Food Science, 65 (4): 706-710.

Murphy and Marks published "Effect of Meat Temperatures on Proteins, Texture and Cook Loss for Ground Chicken Breast Patties" in Poultry Science, 79: 99-104.

James Huss and Dan Henroid, both of Iowa State, have been recognized by several institutions for the ISU food safety web site and on-line instruction for consumers and industry. U.S. News and World Report listed the site in the nutrition and health category of its "Best of the Web" edition on Dec. 4, 2000. The site was the only academic food safety web site recommended in the Environmental Protection Agency's Internet News Brief on Nov. 24, 2000. The site was also recommended for information about turkey food safety in an Access Magazine article, "It's Time to Talk Turkey," on Nov. 19, 2000. The Tufts Nutrition Navigator rated the site "Among the Best" on Nov. 24, 2000. The Des Moines Register featured the web site on Aug. 3, 2000, in an article, "Fair Judges Trust in Food Safety." The Register also recognized the site as one of the most interesting Iowa-based web sites in an article on July 31, 2000. Self magazine featured the web site in an article in the December 2000 edition.

Harley Moon, Iowa State, has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to study novel colonization factors of E. coli O157:H7. The grant runs through August 2003. Moon also received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Resources Inventory to study the effect of antibiotics on Shiga toxin phage movement in ruminants. The grant runs through November 2003.

Moon has also been interviewed about the European bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) outbreak by National Public Radio, WOI Radio in Ames, Iowa, and The Des Moines Register.

Nancy Cornick, Sheridan Booher, Tom Casey and Harley Moon, all of Iowa State, have published "Persistent Colonization of Ruminants by Escherichia coli O157:H7 and other E. coli Pathotypes" in Applied Environmental Microbiology, 66(10): 4926-4934, 2000.

Ilze Matise, Nancy Cornick, Sheridan Booher, J.E. Samuel, B.T. Bosworth and Harley Moon, all of Iowa State, have published "Intervention With Shiga Toxin (Stx) Antibody After Infection by Stx-producing Escherichia coli" in Journal of Infectious Diseases, 183: 347 359, 2001.

Curtis Kastner, Kansas State, has delivered several presentations on food safety in recent months. He spoke on "Animal Science Research Update" in October in St. John, Kan.; on "Meat Quality and Safety - Current and Future" in October to the National Association of College and university Food Service annual meeting at Kansas State University; on "Meat Safety and Research" in February to the Western Regional Research meeting in Denver; on Technology Product Development and Safety issues in an Extension presentation in March in Medicine Lodge, Kan., and on "Research Philosophy" in March at Oklahoma State University.

Kastner also received the Advanced Degree Graduate of Distinction Award from Oklahoma State University.

Curtis Kastner, E.A.E. Boyle, R. Danler, Donald Kropf, Randall Phebus, Harshavardhan Thippareddi and Sean Fox, all of Kansas State, received a $200,186 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service for the project titled "Merchandising Value-Added Lamb Shoulder to the Food Service Industry."

Daniel Y.C. Fung, L. K. Thompson, Beth Ann Crozier-Dodson and Curtis Kastner, all of Kansas State, have published "Hands-Free, 'Pop-Up' Adhesive Tape Method for Microbial Sampling of Meat Surfaces" in Journal of Rapid Methods and Automation in Microbiology, 8: 209.

R.R. Hendricks, E.A.E. Boyle, Curtis Kastner and Daniel Y.C. Fung, all of Kansas State, have published "Compilation of Intervection Methods and Conditions, and Ingredient Limits, for Controlling Campylobacter jejuni in Meat and Poultry Products" in Journal of Rapid Methods and Automation, 8: 285.

Food Safety Digest
By Dave Edmark
As mad cow disease disrupts the European meat industry, a Swiss professor is predicting that a preventive therapy may be five years off. Adriano Aguzzi was quoted in March in the German newspaper Die Welt as saying the treatment would focus on prion, the infectious agent that penetrates cows' brains and cause deterioration. A treatment would stop prion from advancing.

* * *
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has established a toll-free telephone center to respond to questions from the public, industry, and media regarding USDA's response to the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Europe. The toll-free number is 1-800-601-9327. International callers can reach the center by dialing 01-301-734-9257.

       The phone center is staffed by veterinarians and import/export experts from USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service who can explain the restrictions and regulations impacting people and products arriving at U.S. ports-of-entry from foot-and-mouth disease affected countries.

FMD is a highly contagious and economically devastating disease of ruminants and swine. The United States has been free of FMD since 1929. FMD is one of the animal diseases that livestock owners dread most because it spreads widely and rapidly and because it has grave economic consequences. Humans are not susceptible to the disease.

* * *
The American Medical Association is offering a primer on foodborne illness designed to assist health professionals. It's called "Diagnosis and Management of Foodborne Illness: A Primer for Physicians" and is available on the web at http://www.ama-assn.org/foodborne.

The AMA produced the material in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The primer provides current information for the diagnosis, treatment and reporting of foodborne illnesses. It also provides health care professionals with patient education materials on prevention of foodborne illness. Physicians can earn three hours of Category I Continuing Medical Education or Continuing Education Units from the primer.

The primer contains four patient scenarios on botulism poisoning, E. coli O157:H7 infection, enterotoxigenic E. coli infection and Listeria monocytogenes.

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