The Food Safety Consortium Newsletter
Spring 1996
Vol. 6 No. 2

Articles in this issue:

Water Recycling Project Tested in Turkey Plant

Officials of Cargill, Inc., Honeysuckle White meet with Agriculture
Secretary Dan Glickman to discuss the American Water Purification, Inc.,
water recycling project developed at the University of Arkansas. Shown
in photo are (from left) Peter Brown, Paul Lawrence, Glickman and
Barry Berger.

A team effort by university researchers and two companies has resulted in application of a more efficient way to use the massive amounts of water required to process turkeys. The new system uses ozone, a highly reactive form of oxygen, to recycle water in the plants.

The Cargill, Inc., Honeysuckle White turkey processing plant in Springdale, Ark., is the site of the procedure that has been developed with Food Safety Consortium researchers at the University of Arkansas and engineers at American Water Purification, Inc., of Wichita, Kan. Water is used to chill turkey carcasses at the plants. Chill water quickly lowers the body temperature of processed turkeys, so quickly that microorganisms have limited opportunities to grow.

One gallon of water is required to process each turkey going through the chill water processing. With turkeys going through the process all day long and new water replacing the water that is discharged after chilling, a turkey plant can use a tremendous amount of water.

Recycling the water obviously saves water. In addition, the system allows the user to save on energy, sewer and pretreatment costs, explained Mark Baldwin of AWPI. When the water makes its first entry into the system, it must be chilled to 34 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the outdoor air temperature, the water temperature could initially be from the lower 50s to the 70s, thus requiring a major expenditure of energy to cool the incoming water. Recycled water has already gone through the initial major cooling process and needs only to be reduced by a couple of degrees as it makes subsequent trips through the process.

Once a supply of water has been used, it passes through a mechanical pretreatment and then four ozonation cylinders. Ozone gas is pumped into the cylinders to further clarify the water and kill microorganisms. Ozone kills bacteria 3,000 times faster than chlorine. Depending upon the quality of incoming water, the processors adjust the amount of ozone to maximize bacterial destruction, Baldwin said.

AWPI personnel and UA Food Safety Consortium researchers Amy Waldroup and Richard Forsythe conducted tests of the system to determine what level of ozone usage would be most efficient. The ozone generator used in the unit creates ozone at just the rate needed. The process immediately uses up the ozone so that there is only about 3 grams in existence at any given moment.

Current Food and Drug Administration rules do not yet allow ozone to come in contact with poultry products. The system strips out any residual ozone in the water prior to returning it to the chiller. The system also prevents ozone from leaking into the atmosphere. Residual ozone is captured and run through a catalytic destruction unit and turned back into oxygen.

Waldroup said the UA finished microbiology tests in late March after preparing its third set of data and that all necessary federal approvalî process have been granted. Implementation of the process enables Cargill to recycle at least 80 percent of their chill water.

Researchers are also exploring another use of ozone in the food safety process. The current rules allow application of ozone only when the water passes through the cylinders but not in the chiller tanks where the poultry is being cooled. Studies by Waldroup and Forsythe have shown that direct application of ozone to poultry during immersion chilling can improve the microbiological safety of the products and can extend their shelf life during refrigerated storage.

The Food and Drug Administration has not approved direct application of ozone to poultry, but AWPI has received permission from the agency to begin work on testing the procedure.

"Direct application of ozone in the future is something that's going to be very big," Baldwin said. "They're using it in Canada and Australia right now. We're going to be in the process of setting up some test sites for that."

The direct application process would do away with the need to use chlorine in the chillers. Canada prohibits the import of products treated with chlorine. "Even before the direct application process become commercially available, we are having a beneficial effect on the chiller with our recycling process because it allows the operator to turn the water at a higher rate than mandated minimums," Baldwin noted.

KSU's Marsden Briefs Congress on Research

Citing the progress made in food safety research in recent years, Dr. James Marsden of Kansas State University recently suggested to Congress ways to streamline the evaluation of new technologies. Marsden told a congressional committee that the approval process for new pathogen controlling technologies would be made more efficient through the use of pilot plants.

Marsden, the Regents Distinguished Professor of Meat Science at KSU, was one of four Food Safety Consortium researchers who testified before the House Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Subcommittee. Other Consortium researchers who appeared before the committee were Dr. Randall Phebus, KSU assistant professor of food microbiology; Dr. Jim Dickson, associate professor of food science at Iowa State University, and Dr. Dennis Olson, director of the ISU Utilization Center for Agricultural Products.

Marsden traced the recent history of efforts to eliminate pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7 in meat processing. In most cases, Marsden said, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, industry and academic institutions have worked together in scientific research projects to secure the necessary approval. But in some cases the cooperation has been lacking, he said.

"If a particular technology is controversial, the process moves very slowly or not at all," Marsden said. "I recommend that the process of approval could be streamlined and made less controversial if the model for evaluation of new technologies that we have adopted at Kansas State University were applied universally."

Marsden described the model as a controlled pilot plant environment in which a particular technology is validated. The meat product is inoculated with E. coli O157:H7 and other pathogens. If the technology successfully eliminates the pathogens, it is verified in full-scale plant trials under normal processing conditions without inoculating the meat.

"My experience has been that when this inclusive approach is taken, support from consumer groups, labor groups and industry trade associations has helped the USDA regulatory approval process proceed smoothly," Marsden said.

The USDA announced in 1994 a new policy declaring any level of E. coli O157:H7 in raw ground beef to be an adulterant. That policy, in combination with the USDA policy of zero tolerance for physical defects on raw meat, has given impetus to technological advances that allow beef packers and processors to control the pathogen.

"The food safety infrastructure that includes the Food Safety Consortium, the Beef Check off Program, industry research and USDA's Agricultural Research Service is responsible for the major progress we have witnessed in addressing one of the most vexing food safety problems our nation has ever faced," Marsden said. "The problem of E. coli O157:H7 is not completely solved and other challenges are still with us, including the problem of Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry and the threat of BSE."

In recounting the progress made in food safety research regarding beef, Marsden told Congress of developments on several fronts in recent years:

* The implementation of steam pasteurization, a technology which virtually eliminates E. coli O157:H7 from the beef carcass.

* The use of hot water, organic acids and irradiation to treat carcasses.

* The USDA's mandate of "zero tolerance" for visible physical contamination on carcasses. The rule requires that all evidence of feces, ingesta and milk that might contaminate the meat carcass be removed prior to entering the holding coolers.

* The USDA's approval of steam vacuuming to remove visible contamination from meat carcasses. KSU evaluated the process and found it effective in removing feces and pathogenic bacteria. It is the only approved alternative to knife trimming for removing physical contamination. Research has shown that knife trimming often spreads any bacterial contamination.

* The development of the "multiple hurdle" approach to controlling contamination in food processing. Marsden described the system - known popularly as HACCP, for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points - as a series of control points each capable of reducing microbiological contamination. "When taken together," Marsden said, the system "results in a process that greatly lowers the incidence of microbiological pathogens."

* The evaluation of the effects of irradiation of meats. Marsden cited research at the University of Georgia that showed low doses of irradiation could completely control E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella and other pathogens in raw ground beef. He also pointed out that recent research at KSU showed that irradiation does not adversely affect the quality, flavor, aroma or color of beef and pork products.

The technological developments listed above are each part of the HACCP process, but Marsden emphasized that they are not intended to be clean-up procedures. "In the meat and poultry industry, like the rest of the food industry, sanitation - excellent sanitation - is a minimum requirement," Marsden said. "The technologies that are being presented at this hearing are not intended to cover up for poor sanitation. They are intended to add an element of process control that would be implemented over a base that includes standard operating procedures for sanitation and good manufacturing practices addressing such issues as employee hygiene."

Glickman Cites FSC Work at Dedication

Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman offered praise for the Food Safety Consortium during a visit to the University of Arkansas on April 15. Glickman was in Fayetteville as the featured speaker at ceremonies dedicating the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. The university last year named the college for Bumpers, the senior U.S. senator from Arkansas.

"We have received great things from those who are involved with the Food Safety Consortium which Dale established," Glickman said. "Their work has played an important role in developing the new HACCP rule - particularly with regard to poultry issues. That rule - thanks in part to the research done here - will help ensure that America's food supply remains the safest in the world, so safe that many Americans take it for granted."

Glickman said it was not by luck that "America has the safest, most diverse food supply in the world." He credited American agricultural researchers with that achievement and said they are the "most capable, aggressive ... in the world."

Bumpers was instrumental in shaping and securing passage of legislation in 1988 by which Congress established the Consortium through a special U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. The grant supports food safety research by Consortium investigators at the University of Arkansas, Iowa State University and Kansas State University.

Fung Spreads the Word of Rapid Methods

Daniel Fung in lab at Kansas State

Food processors are converting to new inspection systems to determine the safety of their products. That means they need quick answers to questions about the presence of pathogenic bacteria on those products before they reach the end of the line. A discipline known popularly among scientists as "rapid methods" is dedicated to exploring ways to shorten the time it takes to determine the microbiological content of food during processing.

Dr. Daniel Fung of Kansas State University is one of the world's top authorities on the subject. He speaks to audiences around the globe, both scientists and non-scientists, about the quest for safer food through microbiological research. Fung, a professor in the KSU animal sciences and industry department and a principal investigator in the Food Safety Consortium, has elevated his field to a high profile.

Each summer he hosts an international workshop in "Rapid Methods and Automation in Microbiology" at the KSU campus. This year the 16th annual session will be held July 12-19. The conference attracts participants from throughout the U.S. and numerous foreign countries. Many of Fung's guests are people who have attended his lectures during his frequent international travels. He sends out a Christmas card each year containing a world map of the previous year's transoceanic trips.

Fung, an enthusiastic scientist who often arrives at his office well before sunrise, is a prolific contributor to journals, books, and academic conferences. He's often on the go, whether darting across the continent or rushing down the stairs in his campus office building. If you find him with a few minutes of time to spare, he will gladly deliver a compressed version of the latest developments in rapid methods and explain their significance for both the average consumer and the laboratory researcher.

Fung emphasizes that rapid methods for detecting pathogens in food processing is a vital part of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points system (HACCP). It's a science-based system for discovering and eliminating pathogenic bacteria in meats as it goes through the production process, rather than relying solely on visual inspection for visible pathogens at the end of the process. Food processors are responsible for implementing the procedures and maintaining quality control. To do so, they rely on the sort of research performed by Fung and other rapid methods experts.

"If you have a good HACCP program, then you are pretty sure you processed the food properly," Fung said. "If you had good processing, then hopefully at the tail end your food is safe. But these rapid methods will tell you whether you are doing it right or not."

The need for developing rapid methods of identifying the presence of pathogens was driven home when it became apparent that food microbiologists had fallen behind clinical microbiologists in their respective areas of research. "Because of the need to save lives in hospital environments, clinical microbiologists initiated rapid methods in the mid-1960s and accelerated work in the 1970s," Fung said.

Clinical microbiologists' research resulted in the development of several diagnostic kits for use in clinical settings. Through the 1970s, the food microbiologists remained about 10 years behind the clinical microbiologists in development of applicable methods, but then they began to catch up.

"The food microbiologists discovered that they can use some of the clinical diagnostic kits to do things," Fung explained. "They're piggy-backing on the technology of the clinical microbiologists. And a lot of them found they can do a lot also, so the food microbiologists started to get into the rapid methods scenario and the whole field started to move along with the clinical microbiologists."

As the technology advances, food scientists at processing plants can find out in reduced time frames whether food has pathogenic bacteria. Even with the progress made to date, "rapid" still means within a day.

"Everybody would love to have an answer (on pathogenicity status) in four hours, but it's not attainable at this time," Fung said. "Eight hours, maybe, right now. It's realistically one working day. Compare that with conventional methods --- it took seven days to get results on Salmonella or for E. coli 0157:H7."

Seven-day waiting periods were not practical for purposes of assuring food safety. "If you take a piece of food and find seven days later that it has Salmonella, so what? It's already gone all over the place," Fung said. "Now, overnight, you can tell positive or negative for Salmonella or E. coli 0157:H7."

Fung acknowledged that four-hour waiting periods would be the ideal. If a scientist at a processing plant begins conducting a test by 9 a.m., it would be possible to have results by 1 p.m. Then, Fung said, if a problem is discovered a supervisor has time during the day to determine what step to take next.

The length of time required to obtain answers to tests on food samples varies among some tests. Some are almost instantaneous and are simple enough that analysts need only drop samples into a testing unit and obtain the results within minutes. The speed of other tests depends on the complexity of equipment. Many diagnostic kits perform many tests for one organism at a time and some can handle hundreds of samples at a time.

But more work remains to be done before instant answers are readily available for more types of tests. "To make a quantum jump to instantaneous detection of foodborne pathogens in a complex food matrix, microbiologists need to understand more fully the unique characteristics of target foodborne pathogens and potential emerging pathogens," Fung wrote last year in an article for Food Technology. "They must work with biochemists, immunologists, chemists, physicists, biophysicists, electronic engineers, instrumental engineers, etc., to develop new and more accurate rapid methods. The future is bright for this field of endeavor for promoting food safety and protecting the health of consumers nationally and internationally."

ISU Research Targets Bacteria
Injured by Food Treatments

Iowa State University researchers are using biotechnology to seek out hidden bacteria that might be playing dead on food.

The research may sound like a game, but its purpose is serious. Pathogenic bacteria in food are responsible for disorders that may cause severe illness or death.

The food industry uses heat treatment, freezing, packaging, irradiation and other processes to prolong the shelf life of fresh foods. Bacteria injured by food treatments suffer reduced metabolic activity, making them difficult to detect. But they are still capable of causing illness.

"The survival of undetected, injured microbial cells is a potential threat to quality control in the food industry," said Jim Dickson, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Preventive Medicine. "The public health concern of injured foodborne pathogens, such as salmonella, Listeria or E. coli 0157:H7, in food products without being detected is immense."

Food treatments are usually at moderate levels which result in prevention of microbial growth rather than complete elimination. Some bacteria typically survive food treatments meant to kill them, and while it is easy to tell how many are left alive, it is difficult to determine the number of injured ones.

Injured bacteria have reduced metabolic activity, and may have key enzyme systems that are inactive. Dickson said bacteria injured by irradiation may have repairable damage to the cell's DNA.

To detect injured bacterial cells, it is necessary to resuscitate them by culturing the cells. The process is time consuming and the results cannot be quantified.

Dickson and graduate assistant Raveendran Venugopal have been experimenting with probes that detect and count the injured bacteria in irradiated pork patties. The probes measure bacteria oxidation and reduction, two key components of metabolic activity, which Dickson called the most definitive way to detect life in bacteria.

Having a faster and more reliable method of detecting injured bacteria cells may help prevent epidemics of foodborne pathogens. It would also provide a more accurate determination of a food's shelf life, Dickson said.

The method could prove useful in determining the effectiveness of irradiation, Dickson added.

The researchers' goal is to develop such a test for injured bacteria and then refine it to identify pathogens that can cause foodborne illness.

Data Coordination Aids Food Safety Efforts

As researchers and officials in government and industry develop and review options to control food safety risks, they often find out that the available data do not tell them all they need to know. An abundance of data exists, but there are some areas where little information is known. Even where available, making the data more accessible would aid efforts to use and disseminate the information.

Two researchers with the Food Safety Consortium have been working on a project to coordinate the data base and make it useful to people across several disciplines. Helen Jensen, a professor of economics at Iowa State University, and Tanya Roberts, a senior economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, have conferred extensively with research and policymaking personnel from the public and private sectors.

Jensen and Roberts found there are some basic problems to be addressed. For example, there is a lack of agreement on how many cases of human illness are caused by foodborne pathogens. Also, although reporting mechanisms exist to collect information on consumer illnesses and on farm management practices, there are no comparable mechanisms for collecting data at the processing and retailing levels of the food chain.

One result of their efforts was publication of a USDA report they edited entitled Tracking Foodborne Pathogens From Farm to Table, based on the proceedings of a conference in Washington last year. It is one of the first steps to bring various parties together to identify data needs and integrate available data.

"Data on contamination that exist at the farm, the processing and the distribution levels aren't very well coordinated," Jensen said of one particular problem. "For example, there may not be standard codes that allow us to take assignment by doctors or hospitals of diseases back to whether (a case) is of food origin or not. Because we don't have that, we don't really have very good information on food incidence. We can't trace disease cases to food sources."

Jean Buzby, an agricultural economist at the University of Kentucky, presented to the Washington conference a summary of current limitations in foodborne disease research: a lack of accurate data on the incidence and severity distribution of foodborne illness, a lack of medical cost data on foodborne illnesses for which no medical care was sought, a lack of morbidity data for foodborne illness episodes, and the underreporting of cases.

"Improving the completeness and quality of data sources will improve estimates of foodborne illnesses, as will developing new data sources and expanded electronic capabilities," Buzby said.

Jensen offered the scenario of someone who is diagnosed with a meat-related illness. "It's hard to trace back to farm or processing source, or mishandling food at home. So the integration of data is a problem. Some of it is that we just don't have the data. So we're hoping through this effort to work with agencies and other people who provide data to develop a mechanism for integrating the data better."

The information that is reported in the news media can have a great impact on determining research priorities, but access to relevant data can influence research differently. If an outbreak of a particular disease related to a food safety problem occurs and is widely reported, the public will be influenced in its demands for safer food products.

"All of a sudden we turn from any of the other pathogens we might have been looking at to E. coli because that's from where the contamination came," Jensen said. "So that news and the way it was presented may have a lot more influence on setting priorities for which pathogens we're looking at or where we're targeting regulations than any academic study that may have ranked them and said, 'Let's start here.'"

So would a better coordinated data base have a greater impact on setting public policy? Jensen believes it would. "There's a lot of interest at the federal government level on figuring out how to develop an integrated risk assessment system, how you compare your sources and what's the most effective way to reduce foodborne hazards. ... Government is recognizing the importance of economic information in setting priorities. You need data to do that."

A greater availability of better coordinated data would allow policymakers to analyze a situation. They would realize that a particular outbreak may be severe and become the object of major media attention at the moment, but they would also know that the outbreak was unusual compared to other problems and should be considered a lower priority when allocating research resources to fight pathogenic bacteria, Jensen said.

Researchers need information about specific pathogens so they can determine the most cost-effective strategies to control the pathogens in the specific foods they contaminate. Data, Jensen explained, are used to identify problems and to estimate the benefits and costs of solutions. So data should be collected first for pathogens that pose the greatest problems and where the payoffs from control are greatest. In defining solutions, researchers can determine what the most cost-effective methods are and realize cost savings by directing resources to developing the most efficient control methods.

The food production chain has several points from which data can assist policymakers. "People doing research at the farm level have learned a great deal about what's going on at the farm level but they haven't been pushed to evaluate the difference between what happens at the farm level and what happens at the processing level," Jensen said. "But as we identify the linkages among the problems, public policy is now focusing on trying to rank interventions or consider the choice of intervening at the processing level or putting more resources at the consumer level or going back to the farm level."

Researchers have been spending time since the Washington conference identifying resources that are most useful to include in pathogen databases. "We don't have a huge amount of resources to commit to generating new data but we do have resources that we hope can make data more available to researchers and public policy analysts," Jensen said.

"I think one of the developments over the last five years as we know more about food safety problems is the very nature of the integration, the fact that we need to know more about the way the system works at each point in the food chain and not just focus on the one area which tends to be along disciplinary lines," Jensen said. "That's why something like the Food Safety Consortium is useful because it's interdisciplinary and involves teams of people."

Are the Burgers Done? KSU's Hunt Knows

If hamburger patties turn brown after being cooked, then that's supposed to be a good sign they're done and ready to eat - or are they? Maybe they are, but consumers should not rely on color alone to determine if the burgers are really ready. Premature browning can mislead people into believing their burgers are done when in fact they are not fully cooked, which is necessary to insure that any harmful bacteria are killed.

Food Safety Consortium researchers at Kansas State University advise that the one reliable way to be sure a patty is finished is to use a small probe thermometer and take the temperature of the center of the patty. If it's 160 degrees Fahrenheit, it's done regardless of what color it is.

"Some patties will still be pink at 160 degrees. Some will be pink even at 170," said Melvin Hunt, a KSU animal sciences professor and Consortium principal investigator. "Color can mislead you on both ends of the scale."

Premature browning is partly a function of how much oxygen hamburger meat gets before it is cooked, and that can be traced to the way it is packaged. Scientists at KSU originally thought that the use of Vitamin E in cattle feed might have influenced premature browning because the vitamin helps extend color life. That turned out not to be the case.

"What actually happens is there are other factors that are so much more powerful than the Vitamin E antioxidant capability that we think are related to premature browning that they totally wiped out any effects that Vitamin E might have had," Hunt said. "The bottom line was that Vitamin E meat can premature brown or can be normal. It depends on how the product was handled ahead of time."

So if premature browning is a given condition with some patties, researchers wondered if there was a way to set a certain cooking time that would guarantee they were done, regardless of how soon they browned. It wasn't possible, Hunt said, because of the numerous variables.

"Low-fat patties cook differently than high-fat patties. If they cook from a frozen state versus a thawed state, the cooking times are different. So it makes it difficult to give recommendations to people in their homes on how long to cook ground beef."

Hunt recommended placing a thermometer in the middle of the patty near the end of the cooking, not throughout the process.

Consumers shopping for ground beef can make some educated guesses about the likelihood that some burgers would brown prematurely, thanks to conclusions determined by the KSU researchers. The key is in myoglobin, the pigment present in meat that carries oxygen to the cells. Myoglobin can appear on the surface of meat in three basic colors, Hunt said.

"If there is no oxygen present, as would be the case in a vacuum package, the meat ought to appear purple red," Hunt said. The meat has a pigment called deoxymyoglobin.

"If the meat has been exposed to oxygen, it's going to appear bright red; we call that oxymyoglobin. If meat has been discolored of if the chemical state of the pigment is oxidized, then it can appear tan to brown" because of the metmyoglobin pigment.

The question then becomes which of the three types of pigment is present in the middle of the patty during cooking. "If it is the purple color - which you would typically expect of some patties if you have oxygen excluded from the center of the patty - then it will give you a red to pink to brown cooked color formation that is reliable.

"But if it is either bright red on the inside or has some degree of brownness on the inside, then the cooked appearance is not particularly reliable," Hunt said. "Deoxymyoglobin, the purple one, will give you a reliable cooked color indicator. If it is oxymyoglobin or metmyoglobin, that's where the premature browning will occur."

Hunt warned that ground beef purchased at a grocery store may have all three pigment forms in it, appearing red on the top with possibly some brown layers underneath and purple in the middle. If a consumer takes a pound of ground beef and divides it into four quarter-pounders, it would not be unusual for the segments to have all those pigments.

The problem in determining whether a particular patty is likely to brown prematurely during cooking depends on what pigment is predominant. "That's the part we don't have fully defined yet: how much of that purple pigment must be there to give a reliable indicator," Hunt said. "Our bottom line is to try to get a measure on the temperature."

Color would be a reliable indicator if ground beef were vacuum packaged for a sufficient amount of time so that it becomes purple with the deoxymyoglobin pigment. But vacuum packaging is not likely to catch on as a trend in the industry.

"There's an extremely large tonnage of ground beef that's not sold in the vacuum package and the industry isn't moving toward that," Hunt said. "The disadvantage is that it's hard to get patties that are completely reduced to the deoxymyoglobin state because the grinding process itself is an oxygen-incorporating process. When you grind it, it becomes very bright red all the way through and the only way to get it back to the purple state is to put it in a vacuum for a long enough period of time so the pigment can burst back to a purple state."

But that process is not easy to perform and probably won't be implemented, Hunt noted, because "the machinery is not out there."

The final recommendation from the KSU team and the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service remains that consumers should monitor the endpoint temperature of patties to be sure that potentially harmful bacteria are killed.

NADC Examines TB in Cattle and Swine

Food Safety Consortium researchers have made some advances in researching tuberculosis in cattle and swine. Tests in two aspects of the problem are being conducted by Consortium affiliated personnel at the National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa.

Carole Bolin, an NADC research leader and a Consortium principal investigator, conducted tests for diagnosis of bovine tuberculosis with NADC researchers Diana Whipple and Belinda Goff. They sought to determine if tuberculin skin tests used in the U.S., Canada and Mexico are compatible with each other, an important issue with the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The tuberculins used for skin testing in the three countries are prepared by different methods and from different strains of the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis. The researchers compared tuberculins from each country to determine if there is a need to standardize the tuberculins used in North America.

Cattle from a herd with bovine tuberculosis reacted similarly to all three tuberculins with small variation among the responses. Cattle tested positively for M. bovis most often when the Mexican tuberculin was used. But the research team concluded that there was no need to standardize the tuberculins.

Plans are being made to use swine in studies by the NADC team to research the risk of M. bovis infection caused by the consumption of meat contaminated by the organism. The project began with studies determine if swine could be used as an animal model of human tuberculosis. The researchers found through their experiments that swine are susceptible to infection with M. bovis when inoculated. Lesions characteristic of tuberculosis were visible as early as two weeks following high doses of the inoculations and in 30 days following low dosages.

Report From the Coordinator
By Charles J. Scifres

In my new role as coordinator of the Food Safety Consortium, I am enjoying getting to know the participants and their programs better. It is a steep learning curve because of the breadth and productivity of the Consortium. Our Consortium is very much on the move and its impact is becoming increasingly apparent as our researchers' work becomes known throughout the nation.

This great work at the three member universities helps bolster our position as we seek continued funding. The Consortium is supported by an annual special grant approved by Congress and administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service. As Congress scrutinizes the budget, special grants must be strongly justified. However, the Consortium's long track record of accomplishment since its founding in 1988 bodes well for us in our quest for continued support.

The Consortium's Technical Executive Committee - comprised of myself representing the University of Arkansas, George Beran of Iowa State University, Curtis Kastner of Kansas State University and Frank Flora of the CSREES - met recently in Kansas City to orient me to my new role. A large part of our discussion focused on strategies in presenting our case, especially to decision makers. Uncertainties are always present in the legislative process, but we feel confident that the good reputation our Consortium has on Capitol Hill will serve us well.

Here's just one recent example of the recognition earned by the program. In May, four of our Consortium's principal investigators - Jim Marsden and Randy Phebus of Kansas State and Jim Dickson and Denny Olson of Iowa State - testified in Washington before the House Agriculture Committee's Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Subcommittee. They were asked for their views on federal science and technology policy as it relates to meat inspection. We're proud of their positive impact on policymaking and their representation of the Consortium before Congress.

The Consortium's high profile is also evident among its peers in the research community. On Oct. 17, the Consortium will present the entire day's program at the annual meeting of the U.S. Animal Health Association in Little Rock, Ark. Consortium researchers participating in the USAHA meeting will stay busy that week as they join their colleagues on Oct. 20-22 in Kansas City for the Consortium's annual meeting at the Embassy Suites near KCI Airport. In February, the Consortium will host a food safety symposium at the University of Arkansas to showcase our researchers' work for people outside the Consortium such as representatives of commodity groups and USDA personnel.

It's an active time for the Consortium and we're happy to have the opportunity to continue serving the public in the most positive way - helping provide safe, accessible and affordable food.

Papers and Presentations

Curtis Kastner of Kansas State recently won the KSU Gamma Sigma Delta Outstanding Research Award.

Several journal articles by Kastner have been published in recent months. They are "Gluconic Acid as a Fresh Meat Decontaminant," Journal of Food Protection; "Effect of Alcohol Flaming on Meat Cutting Knives," Journal of Rapid Methods and Automation in Microbiology; "Hot-Fat Trimming Effects on the Microbial Quality of Beef Carcasses," Journal of Food Protection; "Microbiological Quality of Beef Carcasses and Vacuum-Packaged Beef Subprimals as Affected by Process Intervention During Slaughter and Fabrication," Journal of Food Protection; "Effectiveness of Trimming and/or Washing on Microbiological Quality of Beef Carcasses," Journal of Food Protection; "Reduction of Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli 0157:H7 and Salmonella typhimurium During Storage on Beef Sanitized with Fumaric Acetic and Lactic Acids," Journal of Food Safety; "Use of Universal Preenrichment Medium Supplemented with Oxyrase for the Simultaneous Recovery of Escherichia coli 0157:H7 and Yersinia enterocolitica," Journal of Rapid Methods and Automation in Microbiology; and "Evaluation of Culture Protocols and Oxyrase Supplementation for Arcobacter spp.," Journal of Rapid Methods and Automation in Microbiology.

Kastner also made invited presentations on "Preparing for HACCP" at the National Association of Meat Purveyors Management Conference in Chicago; "HACCP Overview" at the Kansas and Missouri Beef Council Conference in Kansas City, Kan.; "Food Safety - What Do Our Undergraduates Need to Know? Incorporating Food Safety Into Our Curriculum" at the American Society of Animal Science in Orlando, Fla., and "Food Safety Research at Kansas State" at the Western Regional Research Meeting in Las Vegas, Nev.

Amy Waldroup of Arkansas presented a poster entitled "Chemical Disinfection of Raw Poultry" at the National Meeting for Food Service Research on March 24-26 in Seattle and at the Southeastern Symposium sponsored by BOC Jan. 25 in Atlanta.

Waldroup has also received several grants recently for food safety research: $50,000 from BOC Gases, $20,000 from Alcide, $12,000 from American Water Purification, Inc., $10,000 from Miox and $3,000 from Liquitech.

Waldroup also attended a National Broiler Council media training program March 12 in Washington.

Larry Corah of Kansas State presented a paper on "Efficacy of Electronic Identification in Beef Cattle" in the 1996 KSU Beef Report.

Evelyn A. Dean-Nystrom and Brad Bosworth of the National Animal Disease Center and Harley W. Moon of Iowa State presented a poster entitled "Pathogens of E. coli 0157:H7 in Neonatal Calves and Pigs" at the American Society for Microbiology in May in New Orleans.

Irene Wesley of the National Animal Disease Center presented an update of Agricultural Research Service food safety research at a food safety symposium in March at Tuskegee (Ala.) University. Her review article, "Arcobacter and Helicobacter: Risks in Foods and Beverages," was accepted for publication in the Journal of Food Protection.

Irene Wesley and Sharon Franklin of NADC presented "Identification of Plasmids in Arcobacter spp." to the 96th American Society for Microbiology meeting in New Orleans.

"Segregated Early Weaning Control of Food Safety Organisms" by James McKean, Paula Fedorka-Cray and James Dickson of Iowa State and Irene Wesley of NADC will be presented in July to the International Pig Veterinary Congress in Bologna, Italy.

Randall Phebus and Curtis Kastner of Kansas State received a Midwest Advanced Food Manufacturing Alliance Grant of $100,000 for study of decontamination of meat carcasses using low-pressure steam in a commercial processing facility and subsequent shelf life effects. Phebus, Kastner and L.K. Bohra of Kansas State also published "Influence of Glucose Oxidase on the Growth of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella typhimurium in Universal Preenrichment Broth" in the Journal of Rapid Methods and Automation in Microbiology.

Randall Phebus and J. Scott Smith of Kansas State received a $10,000 grant from Sandia National Laboratories to study a new method for mycotoxin detection.

Randall Phebus of Kansas State received a $199,229 grant from the USDA Special Research Grants Program for the study of ecology of E. coli O157:H7 in beef cow-calf operations from ranch through feed lot.

Gordon Schutze of Arkansas Children's Hospital was interviewed on Cable News Network's segment entitled "Your Health." Schutze was interviewed about research data he presented at the American Society for Microbiology convention concerning isolating Salmonella in the home.

Food Safety Digest
By Dave Edmark

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service has awarded a contract to develop model plans for implementing the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) food safety controls. The contract went to the International Meat and Poultry HACCP Alliance, a Texas A&M University foundation which submitted a $207,000 bid to FSIS.

FSIS requested the development of 10 generic models that could be used to assist meat and poultry plants in implementing new food safety rules based on HACCP. The rules will require plant operators to evaluate potential hazards and then devise preventive controls applicable to their plant.

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The USDA has released details of its proposed reorganization of the Food Safety and Inspection Service home office and 46 field offices as part of the overhaul of the department's food safety program. The proposal must be approved by Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman. The approval process is expected to take several months and implementation would take up to two years.

The proposal reduce several organizational segments and positions at headquarters and unify the field structures into one unit. The proposal would not affect staffing levels or the work locations of employees at the in-plant level.

Details of the reorganization proposal are available in a 15-page packet available from FSIS Information and Legislative Affairs at 202-720-7943. An abbreviated backgrounder on the subject can be found on the World Wide Web at

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When the HACCP rules are finally implemented in meat and poultry plants across the nation, consumers will wind up paying more as a result - all of 50 cents a year more than they do now.
Food Chemical News reported that the federal General Accounting Office analyzed the HACCP proposal on behalf of the House Agriculture Committee and found that the Food Safety and Inspection Service generally overaestimated the costs and underestimated the benefits. The GAO report concluded that "the benefits would continue to outweigh the costs because the benefits are so much greater."

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The National Agricultural Library has a list of videos, posters, books, brochures and curricula pertaining to food safety. It's called the Foodborne Illness Educational Materials Database and can be obtained either on disk or on the Internet.

To receive the disk in ASCII format write to Cindy Roberts, USDA/FDA Foodborne Illness Educaiton Infomation Center, National Agricultural Library, 10301 Baltimore Blvd., Room 304, Beltsville, Md. 20705-2351; or fax Roberts at 301-504-6409, or send her a request via e-mail at The list is available on the World Wide Web at

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