jueves, 19 de mayo de 2016

La inocuidad alimentaria coloca los trabajadores agrícolas al frente y centro.

Los trabajadores agrícolas son a menudo los primeros en ver los problemas que podrían contaminar los cultivos
Cuando el tema es la inocuidad alimentaria, las primeras cosas que se vienen a la mente es la gran cantidad de agricultores que cultivan alimentos, tiendas de venta de alimentos, e incluso los científicos de salud pública están analizando los alimentos para asegurarse de que no contienen microorganismos patógenos que podrían enfermarnos - o incluso matarnos.
Pero ¿qué pasa con los trabajadores de cosecha y empaque de alimentos en el campo? ¿Qué tienen que ver con la inocuidad de los alimentos?, excepto, por supuesto, que deben lavarse las manos antes de recoger los alimentos, ya sea a primera hora de la mañana antes de entrar en el campo o después de usar el cuarto de baño.

Pero, hay algo más que eso. Considere esto: Los trabajadores agrícolas son a menudo los primeros en ver los problemas que podrían contaminar los cultivos. Problemas tales como excrementos de ciervos, animales de granja o perros que recorren los campos, cajas de embalajes sucias o equipos, la falta de las instalaciones de lavado de manos, o incluso aplicaciones de abono en los campos cercanos podrían dar la posibilidad de que microorganismos patógenos del estiércol lleguen a los cultivos.

En pocas palabras, son los ojos y los oídos para la inocuidad alimentaria en los campos -son un primer eslabón esencial en la cadena de inocuidad de los alimentos que se extiende desde los campos a toda la cadena agroalimentaria, a las tiendas o mercados en los que compramos nuestros alimentos.
Importante, sí. Pero, ¿cómo puede el sistema agrícola ir más allá de los trabajadores del campo sobre la inocuidad alimentaria?, para alertar a los administradores o los agricultores acerca de los problemas que podrían surgir en el campo.

Eso es simple, dicen algunos. Hay que considerar la situación desde la perspectiva de los trabajadores agrícolas que se les paga por la cantidad que cosechan. Es todo acerca de la velocidad. Cuanto más rápido se cosecha más se les paga.

"Si veo algo malo y lo digo, lo primero que harían es despedirme", es los que dijo el trabajador Ramón Torres a Food Safety News en una entrevista anterior. Si bien esto no refleja lo que sucede en todas las granjas, es cierto en muchos casos.

¿Estará pasando esto en nuestro medio?

Aporte: Francisca Castro




jueves, 12 de mayo de 2016

Frozen vegetable and fruits involved in big Listeria recall

Listeria from ill people were confirmed by using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis
On April 23, 2016, CRF Frozen Foods recalled 11 frozen vegetable products because they may be contaminated with Listeria. On May 2, 2016, CRF Frozen Foods expanded the initial recall to include all organic and traditional frozen vegetable and fruit products processed in its Pasco, Washington facility since May 1, 2014. Recalled items were sold in plastic bags under various brand names, nationwide and in Canada. A full list of recalled products is available on the FDA website.
Listeria specimens were collected from September 13, 2013 to March 28, 2016. Two illnesses were reported in 2016. The remaining six illnesses reported during 2013-2015 were identified through a retrospective review of the PulseNet database. Ill people range in age from 56 years to 86, with a median age of 76. Seventy-five percent of ill people are female. All eight (100%) ill people were hospitalized, including one from Maryland and one from Washington who died, although listeriosis was not considered to be a cause of death for either person.
Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak. PulseNet, coordinated by CDC, is the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories. PulseNet performs DNA "fingerprinting" on Listeria bacteria isolated from ill people by using techniques called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS).
A total of eight people infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria have been reported from three states since September 13, 2013. A list of states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Case Count Map page.
The outbreak can be illustrated with a chart showing the number of people who were diagnosed each month. This chart is called an epidemic curve or epi curve.
Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence available at this time indicates that frozen vegetables produced by CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco, Washington and sold under various brand names are one likely source of illnesses in this outbreak. This is a complex, ongoing investigation, and updates will be provided when more information is available.
Source: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm498841.htm

martes, 10 de mayo de 2016

Presencia de Listeria monocytogenes en una planta de producción de ensaladas

Dole Fresh Vegetales Inc. será sometido a una investigación criminal
El Departamento de Justicia de EE.UU inició investigación, para evaluar la responsabilidad criminal de la empresa Dole (Springfield, Ohio) en relación al brote de Listeriosis. 
Funcionarios de Dole estaban en conocimiento de que las instalaciones se encontraban contaminadas con Listeria un año y medio antes del brote, pero sólo actuaron luego de que los Gobiernos de EE.UU. y Canadá ligaran los brotes a su planta.
El 21 de enero de este año, las autoridades realizaron una prueba al azar en las ensaladas empaquetadas producidas por la compañía, una de ellas dio positiva a L. monocytogenes. Sólo entonces Dole suspendió su producción, para luego retomar sus funciones en abril.
Al menos 33 personas en EE.UU. y Canadá han enfermado, necesitando hospitalización y cuatro de ellos murieron. La cepa aislada de los enfermos concuerda con la encontrada en la ensalada Dole.

La FDA por su parte, inspeccionó en tres ocasiones en los meses de enero y tres veces en febrero, luego de que se corroborara la relación de la huella genética de las bacterias aisladas entre las personas enfermas y las ensaladas producidas por Dole. Se recolectaron muestras de frotis y productos terminados, junto con la revisión de ensayos y documentos. La FDA no hizo público los resultados de la inspección.

Es hoy claro que Listeria estaba presente en la planta y en los reportes del año 2014 de la FDA y en los informes internos de la planta de los años 2014 y 2015, no obstante la empresa continuó elaborando y despachando ensaladas.

Durante la inspección realizada en marzo del 2014 la FDA detectó diversos problemas relacionados con los pisos y paredes, los cuales no cumplían con la mantención higiénica de estos; fallas en la protección de las superficies de contacto de los alimentos, que evitaran la contaminación de los alimentos y fallas en el control de plagas.

L. monocytogenes puede ingresar a la planta en las materias primas y persistir en las instalaciones al no existir un adecuado programa de limpieza y sanitización de los equipos, ya que la bacteria puede generar biofilms en sitios húmedos (desagües, pisos y paredes) La industria debe contar con un Programa de Pre-requisitos para el Control de Listeria conforme a la FSIS.

Sources: Rosa Cabrera


miércoles, 20 de abril de 2016

Microbial stress priming: a meta-analysis

Priming by osmotic, physiological and temperature stress had the highest positive effect sizes on microbial response.
Microbes have to cope with complex and dynamic environments, making it likely that anticipatory responses provide fitness benefits. Mild, previous stressors can prepare microbes (stress priming) to further and potentially damaging stressors (triggering).

Quantitatively summarizing the findings from over 250 trials of 34 studies including bacteria and fungi, demonstrating that priming to stress has a beneficial impact on microbial survival. 
In fact, survival of primed microbes was about 10-fold higher compared with that in non-primed microbes.

Categorical moderators related to microbial taxonomy and the kind of stress applied as priming or as triggering revealed significant differences of priming effect size among 14 different microbial species, 6 stress categories and stressor combination.

Priming by osmotic, physiological and temperature stress had the highest positive effect sizes on microbial response. Cross-protection was evident for physiological, temperature and pH stresses.

Microbes are better prepared against triggering by oxidative, temperature and osmotic stress. Our finding of an overall positive mean effect of priming regardless of the microbial system and particular stressor provides unprecedentedly strong evidence of the broad ecological significance of microbial stress priming.

These results further suggest that stress priming may be an important factor in shaping microbial communities.


Source: Diana R. Andrade-Linares et al, 2016, Environmental Microbiology DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.13223

martes, 19 de abril de 2016

CDC need bacterial cultures to study foodborne outbreaks

Culture-independent diagnostic tests are affecting outbreak monitoring.
Changes in the tests that diagnose foodborne illness are helping identify infections faster but could soon pose challenges to finding outbreaks and monitoring progress toward preventing foodborne disease, according to a report published today in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Week Report.
Culture-independent diagnostic tests (CIDTs) help doctors diagnose infections quickly because they provide results in hours instead of the days needed for traditional culture methods, which require growing bacteria to determine the cause of illness. However, without a bacterial culture, public health officials cannot get the detailed information about the bacteria needed to help find outbreaks, check for antibiotic resistance, and track foodborne disease trends.
In 2015, the percentage of foodborne infections diagnosed only by CIDT was about double with the percentage in 2012-2014.
“Foodborne infections continue to be an important public health problem in the United States,” said Robert Tauxe, M.D., M.P.H, director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases. “We are working with partners to make sure we still get important information about harmful bacteria despite the increasing use of diagnostic tests that don’t require a culture.”
The increased use of CIDT could affect public health officials’ ability to monitor trends and detect outbreaks. In the short term, clinical laboratories should work with their public health laboratories to make sure a culture is done whenever a CIDT indicates that someone with diarrheal illness has a bacterial infection. For a long-term solution, CDC is working with partners to develop advanced testing methods that, without culture, will give health care providers information to diagnose illness and also give the detailed information that public health officials need to detect and investigate outbreaks.
Limited progress in reducing foodborne illness: The report included the most recent data from CDC’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, or FoodNet. It summarizes preliminary 2015 data on nine pathogens spread commonly through food. Overall, progress in reducing rates of foodborne illnesses has been limited since 2012, according to the report. The most frequent causes of infection in 2015 were Salmonella and Campylobacter, which is consistent with previous years.
CDC want to respond quickly to foodborne illness, but the true goal is to move forward with preventive measures that will be implemented from farm to table. In addition to collaboration with other government agencies at the local, state and federal level, the rules implementing under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act will help the food industry minimize the risk of contamination to our food supply.

Source: http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-information/cdc-we-need-bacterial-cultures-to-catch-foodborne-outbreaks/#.VxYp5vnhCt8

martes, 12 de abril de 2016

Multi-country outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infection

At least three children died due to hemolytic uremic syndrome
A multi-country outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infection associated with haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) and affecting mostly young children has been reported in the last two months in Romania. In addition, Italy reported one related HUS case through the Early Warning and Response System (EWRS) on 21 March 2016. Overall, 25 cases were identified as associated with this outbreak, of which 19 developed HUS and three died. Twelve cases had microbiological and/or serological evidence of STEC O26 infection; 13 additional cases met the probable case definition by developing HUS, testing positive for another STEC O serogroup (O157) or by testing positive by PCR for stx1 and/or stx2 and eae genes.
Information collected from patients pointed towards a milk-processing establishment (the Romanian operator) as a possible source of infection. The implicated milk-processing establishment exported a particular type of cheese to four EU countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy and Spain) and one Italian importer further distributed this product to France and Germany. In Romania, one fresh cheese product made of cow’s milk produced by the Romanian operator tested positive for E. coli O26 not possessing stx virulence genes. Other dairy products produced by the Romanian operator tested positive for E. coli virulence genes stx1, stx2 and eae.
In Italy, a STEC O26 strain (positive for stx1, stx2 and eae) was isolated from a sample of the cheese that had been produced by the Romanian operator. The product was consumed by a Italian child that later developed HUS (stool samples negative for STEC but serum samples positive for the presence of antibodies against the LPS of E. coli O26).
The PFGE analysis suggests multiple strains from a common source or from multiple sources. Multi-strain STEC outbreaks have been reported in the past [1]. Therefore, probably the outbreak is associated to a source contaminated by different strains. The last Romanian case associated with this outbreak had onset of symptoms on 14 March. Recalls were conducted in Romania in March 5 and in Italy in 15 March. Other Member States subsequently undertook recalls. The withdrawal of potentially contaminated dairy products following a recall has been limited in Member States, with the exception of Romania. It is therefore possible that affected products are still present in households, and detection of new cases cannot be excluded. In order to minimize the spread of the infection and investigate possible new cases in a timely manner, Romania, Italy and other Member States that are possibly involved could consider enhancing surveillance for STEC cases.
Further food and environmental studies in suspect premises to identify the vehicle of Multi-country outbreak of infection. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) on isolates will confirm about possible links between cases.

viernes, 1 de abril de 2016

Chemicals that mimic transcriptional changes associated with autism, brain aging and neurodegeneration.

More than 480,000 chemicals are registered for use in the environment.
Environmental factors, including pesticides, have been linked to autism and neurodegeneration risk using retrospective epidemiological studies. Here we sought to prospectively identify chemicals that share transcriptomic signatures with neurological disorders, by exposing mouse cortical neuron-enriched cultures to hundreds of chemicals commonly found in the environment and on food. We find that rotenone, a pesticide associated with Parkinson’s disease risk, and certain fungicides, including pyraclostrobin, trifloxystrobin, famoxadone and fenamidone, produce transcriptional changes in vitro that are similar to those seen in brain samples from humans with autism, advanced age and neurodegeneration (Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease).

Powerful new sequencing technologies have been used to systematically identify hundreds of candidate gene mutations associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) risk. Heritability studies suggest that environmental factors also contribute to autism risk.
Indeed, gestational exposure to pesticides, including maternal proximity to pesticide applications and runoff, is reproducibly associated with increased ASD risk in epidemiological studies.

However, epidemiological studies are retrospective and cannot ascertain prospectively, precisely or systematically which chemicals, of the 480,000 chemicals registered for use in the environment, have the greatest potential to harm the developing or adult brain.

Existing in vivo neurodevelopmental and neurotoxicological assays with animal models are labour intensive and costly, thus hindering throughput, whereas higher-throughput toxicological assays frequently use non-neuronal cells or focus on neuron death as an end.
As a result, these tests fail to interrogate molecular and physiological processes that are unique to neurons or that differentiate normal from diseased human brains.

There is growing recognition that brain transcriptional changes are associated with ASD.
This ASD transcriptional signature is defined by reduced expression of genes involved in synaptic transmission and elevated expression of genes involved in immune and microglial function.

Here we hypothesized that this transcriptional signature might guide the prospective identification of candidate chemical risks for ASD. To test this hypothesis, we exposed mouse cortical neuron-enriched cultures to hundreds of environmental-use chemicals and then monitored global transcriptional changes.

We identify six chemical groups, one of which mimics the transcriptional changes seen in ASD, but surprisingly also shares transcriptional similarity to the aged brain and certain neurodegenerative conditions. Our findings suggest these neurological conditions share a molecular pathology, as hypothesized by others, despite different ages of onset and distinct behavioral symptoms. Moreover, this study shows that a transcriptional approach can be used to systematically scan a diverse chemical space and identify potential environmental threats to the human brain.


Source: Brandon L. Pearson et al., Nature Communications DOI: 10.1038/ncomms11173.

martes, 22 de marzo de 2016

An Economic Evaluation of PulseNet

A Network for Foodborne Disease Surveillance
The PulseNet surveillance system is a molecular subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories designed to identify and facilitate investigation of foodborne illness outbreaks.
This study estimates health and economic impacts associated with PulseNet.
The staggered adoption of PulseNet across the states offers a natural experiment to evaluate its effectiveness, which is measured as reduction of reported illnesses due to improved information, enhanced industry accountability, and more-rapid recalls.
Economic impacts attributable to PulseNet include medical costs and productivity losses averted due to reduced illness.

Program costs are also reported. Better information and accountability from enhanced surveillance is associated with large reductions of reported illnesses.

Data collected between 1994 and 2009 were assembled and analyzed between 2010 and 2015. Conservatively, accounting for underreporting and under diagnosis, 266,522 illnesses from Salmonella, 9,489 illnesses from Escherichia coli (E. coli), and 56 illnesses due to Listeria monocytogenes are avoided annually.

This reduces medical and productivity costs by $507 million.
Additionally, direct effects from improved recalls reduce illnesses from E. coli by 2,819 and Salmonella by 16,994, leading to $37 million in costs averted.
  
Annual costs to public health agencies are $7.3 million.

 The PulseNet system makes possible the identification of food safety risks by detecting widespread or non-focal outbreaks.

This gives stakeholders information for informed decision making and provides a powerful incentive for industry. Furthermore, PulseNet enhances the focus of regulatory agencies and limits the impact of outbreaks. 

The health and economic benefits from PulseNet and the foodborne disease surveillance system are substantial.


martes, 15 de marzo de 2016

New food safety rules pose impact for refrigerated carriers



Refrigerated carriers face a bevy of new mandates according to FSMA.
Refrigerated carriers face a bevy of new mandates governing not only the condition and operation of equipment used transport foodstuffs but the capture and preservation of shipment temperatures, along with driver training requirements, due to go into effect March 31.
The new rules devolve from the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama back in 2011, noted Don Durm, director of strategic customer solutions for PLM Trailer Leasing, during a panel discussion at the 2016 Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) meeting last week in Las Vegas.
“It really should be called the ‘Food Safety Documentation Act’ because there is nothing really new in it in terms of ‘modernization,’” Drum said. “But what it does is involve the FDA [the U.S. Food and Drug Administration] in the food supply chain as an enforcement agency. So why you need to pay attention to this [FSMA] is due to two words: criminal prosecution.”
He noted that while shippers and receivers are the main targets of the FSMA, refrigerated carriers become involved as the new rules require detailed temperature data to be collected and maintained, while imposing equipment and driving requirements as well.
Drum noted that refrigerated carriers are affected in three broad areas:
They would be required to subject to record keeping, probably for a 12 month time period that describes how they provide temperature data; their practices for cleaning, sanitizing, and inspecting vehicles and transportation equipment; and establish requirements for the training of carrier personnel engaged in transportation operations, including a requirement for records that document the training.

Regardless of that FDA personnel change, Durm maintained that refrigerated fleets would feel specific impacts in several key areas of their operations:
•It will affect trailer designs, depending on shipper requirements resulting from the new rules;
•It will tighten sanitary cleaning requirements of said trailers;
•There will be a “pre-cool” requirement for many shipments;
•Temperature tracking will be mandated;
•Data exchange and retention will be mandated;
•Driver food safety training will be required and a record of that training must be kept on file for access upon request.
 This is all part of a switch from the FDA reporting food contamination to taking an active role in preventing it. As a result, R. Fenton May, chairman of telematics provider CarrierWeb – who co-presented with PLM’s Durm –  urged refrigerated carriers to be proactive with their customers about the impending rules.
Source: Food HACCP

miércoles, 27 de enero de 2016

Mexican Cucumbers Fuel Salmonella Poona Outbreak


888 illnesses and 6 deaths confirmed.
The Salmonella Poona outbreak first disclosed to the public last Sept. 4, and since found to be caused by imported Mexican cucumbers has now rolled into the new year with up to two additional deaths and 50 more cases in 16 states since the last report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. CDC Tuesday issued its first update on the deadly outbreak since last Nov. 19, saying  888 illnesses and six deaths are now associated with the Salmonella Poona outbreak in 39 states. The dangerous outbreak has sent 191 to local hospitals for care.  And 106 illnesses have occurred since the recalled cucumbers should have no longer been available in grocery stores or restaurants.
This is the same outbreak where the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) traceback investigation ended up at the Rancho Don Juanito de R.L. de C.V. located in Baja, Mexico as the source of the contaminated cucumbers that were then shipped into the United States via a San Diego produce distributor.
To correct the apparent violation, Rancho Don Juanito de R.L. de C.V. was told it needs to demonstrate it has identified the potential sources and routes of contamination and have taken steps to prevent future contamination before the company’s cucumbers can be removed from the Import Alert.
Six deaths have been reported from Arizona (1), California (3), Oklahoma (1), and Texas (1). However, the California Department of Public Health, says Salmonella infection was considered to be a contributing factor in only one of the three deaths in California.
Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce reports that the Limited Edition cucumbers were distributed in the states of Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah and reached customers through retail, food service companies, wholesalers, and brokers.
The company further reports that these cucumbers are shipped in a black, green, yellow, and craft colored carton which reads “Limited Edition Pole Grown Cucumbers.”  This variety is often referred to as a “Slicer” or “American” cucumber.  It has a dark green color.  It typically has a length of 7 to 10 inches and a diameter of 1.75 to 2.5 inches.  In retail it is typically sold in a bulk display without any individual packaging or plastic wrapping.  In food service it is typically served as part of a salad.