miércoles, 31 de marzo de 2010

Prevent Outbreaks: Send Sick Foodhandlers Home

Many real life outbreaks analysis confirm that when sick foodhandlers are, in fact, the cause of an outbreak, the results can be widespread contamination of many different foods, leading to many illnesses.

Sick foodhandlers are a problem at many restaurants in USA and all around the world, being the source of many outbreaks of foodborne disease. Currently, in the Shigella outbreak linked to a Subway restaurant in Lombard, Illinois, sick foodhandlers are believed to have been the cause of the outbreak wich already has at least 113 confirmed illnesses. Likely, this number only scratches the surface when it comes to counting all outbreak victims. The number is more likely upwards of 200 to 300, if not more.

The Lombard Subway outbreak is reminiscent of another major Chicago-area outbreak, occurred in June and July 2003. In this case The Lake County Health Department concluded its investigation into a Salmonella outbreak at a Chili's restaurant located in Vernon Hills, Illinois, where the restaurant employees had used poor sanitation and food handling practices, including operating without hot water for an entire day, and operating without any running water whatsoever for the lunch rush on another day. More importantly Lake County stated that 28 Chili's employees had tested positive for Salmonella.

It’s clear that no restaurant owner can claim that they didn’t know better. The reason, of course, is that the law speaks very clearly on the issue of employees who work while ill saying that: "No person, while affected with a disease in a communicable form that can be transmitted by foods or who is a carrier of organisms that cause such a disease or while afflicted with a boil, or infected wound, or an acute respiratory infection, shall work in a food service establishment in any capacity in which there is a likelihood of such person contaminating food or food-contact surfaces with pathogenic organisms or transmitting disease to other persons."

One thing that restaurants can do to guard against foodhandler-caused outbreaks is to have a sick leave policy. The policy must not only forbid working while ill with any symptoms of gastrointestinal illness or influenza, but also provide for compensation to employees who elect to do the right thing and stay away from work while ill, or, at the very least, pay the sick day as any other working day without discounting it.

Unfortunately, these outbreaks are evidence that restaurants are not getting the message about sick employees. For example, The Institute for Women's Policy Research, an advocacy group, looked at job benefits nationally and it found as many as 85% of food service workers don't have paid sick days (the worst showing for any group). Also Dr. Tom Smith from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago found in a study at workers broadly (not just the food industry) that people without paid sick days are more likely to go to work when they feel ill and that 68% of people without paid sick days have gone in with a contagious illness like the flu. The reasons are, between many others, that some workers, especially those who get paid by the hour, come in because they need the money. Others simply don't want to give the boss a reason to think they aren't committed to the job.

This are definitely issues that must come in consideration for any restaurants that want to avoid losing everything in a major outbreak of foodborne disease.

martes, 30 de marzo de 2010

Campylobacteriosis, unpasteurized milk (Michigan)

The US FDA and several state health agencies are warning of an outbreak of campylobacteriosis associated with drinking raw milk.

The agency said at least 12 confirmed illnesses have been recently reported in Michigan. Symptoms of campylobacteriosis include diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. The FDA said it is collaborating with health officials in Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana in investigating the outbreak linked to raw milk produced by the Forest Grove Dairy in Middlebury, Indiana. Raw milk is unpasteurized milk from hoofed mammals, such as cows, sheep, or goats. Since 1987, the FDA has required all milk packaged for human consumption to be pasteurized before being delivered into interstate commerce. Pasteurization, a process that heats milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time, kills bacteria responsible for diseases that also include typhoid fever, tuberculosis, and diphtheria.

lunes, 29 de marzo de 2010

New two-in-one test for E. coli and its toxins

Scientists have developed a new two-in-one test that detects both E. coli O157 bacteria and the toxins it produces.

Currently food processors have to employ two separate tests because the toxins that E. coli produces, which actually cause food poisoning, can be present in food even after the bacteria is dead and gone. This testing can be time consuming with results taking three to five days to come through.

Double threat
Scientists at the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Albany, California therefore set out to create a test that protects against the double threat of E. coli and its toxins.
Project leader John Mark Carter presented the results of the research this week at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
Carter explained that the test developed from this work should make it easier for processors to fight the threat from E. coli.
“Finding a few E. coli bacteria in a large sample of ground beef or other food is like looking for a needle in a haystack,” Carter says. “This new method makes the needle much easier to find, compared to standard methods. But improvements in sampling and sensitivity are still needed.”
Although Carter admitted that some refinement is called for he said it has the potential to make a big difference.

Indeed, Carter and his fellow USDA scientists are working with Luminex Corporation to commercialise the E. coli test and hope that it will be quickly adapted by government agencies involved in food inspection as well as meat processors.
“Our test may be used in meat processing plants to allow in-house testing of products prior to sale,” said Carter. This would reduce the frequency of foodborne illness, reduce product recalls, and enhance public health while reducing annual cost for food testing.”
One of the key tangible advantages highlighted is time saving. Unlike the existing tests for which results can take up to five days to be processed the researchers behind the new two-in-one test say the waiting time is just 24 hours.

Plastic beads
The new test uses microscopic plastic beads containing a fluorescent dye that are coated with antibodies that lock onto proteins or antigens present E. coli and its two main toxins. During the test, the beads are mixed together with ground beef or other food samples and then separated and run through an instrument, identifying beads that have latched onto the E. coli antigens.
Carter and his team are now working on adapting the test to detect other foodborne microbes, such as Salmonella and Listeria.

viernes, 26 de marzo de 2010

Listeria Still Present at New York Fish Company

America's seafood processing industry seems to still be learning about how to implement Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plans.

This week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released five "Warning Letters" to seafood processors that were largely about HACCP failures. The most serious violations were found in the Brooklyn-based NY Fish Company.
For the third time, FDA inspectors have taken samples that returned positive results for Listeria inside the NY Fish Co. seafood processing facility at 738 Chester St. in Brooklyn.
"Once established in a production area, humans or machinery can facilitate the pathogen's movement to and contamination of food-contact surfaces and finished product," wrote Ronald M. Pace, FDA's New York District director. "These repeat findings environmental and finished product positives demonstrate an inability to adequately clean and sanitize the facility and to correct practices that lead to the contamination of finished product with L. monocytogenes."

Listeria was found inside the NY Fish processing facility after inspections that occurred from May 27 to June 3, 2009; Sept. 10 to 26, 2009, and Oct. 20 to Nov. 3, 2009. NY Fish last year recalled vacuum packaged smoked salmon and salted herring products after FDA found the Listeria contamination.

After the recall, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets stopped production at NY Fish "in an attempt to clean and sanitize" the facility. But in the just released March 10, 2010 "Warning Letter" to the Brooklyn company, Pace said the pathogen "continues to reside in your facility."
Across the country in Auburn, WA, the Seoul Trading Company received a "Warning Letter" about its food storage, repacking, and importer facility.
Pests, mainly live and dead moths, were found on products throughout the facility. Gasoline was being stored around food. There was not adequate screening to prevent pests from entering the facility and gaps between the bay doors and the warehouse.

jueves, 25 de marzo de 2010

Campylobacter spread through sticky microfilms

Campylobacter respond to the stressful environments by rapidly forming a slimy microfilm that sheds cells into the foods.
Campylobacter jejuni is the most common form of food poisoning, affecting some 500,000 people in the UK alone. It is often caused by eating undercooked chicken or turkey, and its fierce capacity to spread mean the presence of only a few bacteria can be enough to cause vomiting, cramps, and diarrhoea.
For a new study, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a team from the Institute of Food Research (IFR) set out to examine how the Campylobacter survives in the environment.
Under laboratory conditions, they watched as bacteria left in the air formed a sticky film – a reservoir of cells that encases them and protects them from the oxygen. The films were also seen to shed cells, which could explain how the bacteria end up in food.
Dr Mark Reuter explained that the observation that campylobacter sense stress and respond to it has big implications. “Now we need to focus in on those systems that actually sense the stress, particularly the oxygen sensors,” he said.
His colleague Dr Arnoud van Vliet added that future investigations could lead to new ways of protecting food, such as “disrupting the biofilm matrix or prevention of the biofilm formation”.
In addition to being found in poultry meat, Campylobacter can also occur in red meat, unpasteurised milk and untreated water.
The new research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, of which IFR is a part. Countering Campylobacter is a key activity this year of the Cross Government Research and Innovation Strategy for Food.
Source: Foodqualitynews.com
(Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2010, Vol 76, No 7 2122-2128)

lunes, 22 de marzo de 2010

Demandan a fabricantes de suplementos de Omega 3 por presencia de tóxicos

Suplementos ricos en Omega 3 presentan altas concentraciones de Bifenilos policlorados

The Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation junto con los consultores Benson Chiles y Chris Manthey, demandaron ante la Corte Superior de San Francisco a ocho compañías de vender como saludables suplementos alimentarios ricos en Omega 3 y que cuentan al mismo tiempo con una concentración elevada de PCB o bifenilos policlorados, un químico altamente tóxico de origen industrial. Además solicitaron a los tribunales que obliguen a las empresas a informar al consumidor los niveles de PCB existentes en sus productos en virtud de la Proposición 65 aprobada en 1986 en California. Los demandantes citaron el cáncer y problemas en el desarrollo del feto durante el embarazo como principales efectos en la salud de los consumidores.
Las ocho compañías acusadas en el caso son CVS Pharmacy, General Nutrition (GNC), Now Health Group, Omega Protein, Pharmavite LLC (de la marca Nature Made), Rite Aid Corp, Solgar, y TwinLab. Los demandantes afirmaron que seguirán analizando los productos del centenar de compañías de este sector que operan en EE.UU. para saber si tienen que ampliar la lista de acusados.
"Hemos hablado con las empresas para que eliminen el PCB de sus productos pero no ha habido una respuesta clara", comentó el abogado Roe, quien lamentó que no existieran estándares clínicos para saber cuánta dosis de PCB puede asimilar el organismo sin que sea perjudicial. Tomar suplementos de aceite de pescado puede incrementar esa cantidad, pero no sabemos cuánto es mucho o es poco"."Hay 209 componentes que entran en la categoría de PCB y la mayor parte de las compañías solo testan 7 de ellos porque así obtienen mejores resultados"-
Manthey explicó que con esta demanda quieren conseguir que se informe al consumidor de la existencia de esos productos químicos."Se vende el aceite de pescado como solución a los problemas de salud cuando además tienen componentes cancerígenos".
Según contaron los demandantes, a pesar de que se dejó de producir PCB en EE.UU. hace más de 30 años, los Grandes Lagos y el río Hudson están aún contaminados con esta sustancia de forma masiva.
Fuente: EFE

viernes, 19 de marzo de 2010

Coevolución de la producción de antibióticos con la presencia de resistencia en las bacterias del suelo

Un estudio reciente de la revista científica Environmental Microbiology presentó pruebas sobre la coexistencia y la coevolución de la resistencia a los antibióticos con la presencia de genes de biosíntesis para esos antibióticos en bacterias del suelo.
Al estudiar la distribución de los genes de resistencia a Estreptomicina (strA) y Viomicina (vph) en cepas de Streptomyces se vio que ambos genes strA y vph de las cepas de Streptomyces griseus podían tener dichos genes en forma independiente o formando parte de un cluster de genes envueltos en la biosíntesis de estreptomicina.
Las cepas de S. griseus no relacionadas no poseen el gen strA y las cepas que solo producen vph pertenecían a dos clades, ambos estaban estrechamente vinculados a los productores de Estreptomicina. Además las cepas vph también formaron dos clades pero estaban menos relacionados entre uno y otro.
La expresión del gen de Estreptomicina era constitutivo en una cepa con una sola resistencia mientras que los productores de Estreptomicina mostraron la máxima expresión de strA en una fase tardía que se correlaciona con la traducción de síntesis de strA.
Los antibióticos tienen diversas funciones en la naturaleza, así estos datos apoyan la idea que habría una co-evolución con la presencia de la síntesis de antibióticos en estas cepas del suelo.
Esto refuerza la visión de que, para algunos antibióticos por lo menos, el rol primario de la antibiosis bacteriana es competir por los limitados recursos nutricionales del suelo.

Fuente. Environmental Microbiology (2010) 12(3), 783-796
Aporte: Carolina Rojas

miércoles, 17 de marzo de 2010

EFSA survey reveals important prevalence of Campylobacter in broiler batches and of Campylobacter and Salmonella on broiler carcasses in the EU.

The survey, requested from the European Commission due to the frequents reports of food borne illness in humans caused by this bacteria, shows a prevalence between 71 and 75% of Campylobacter in broiler batches and carcasses, and about 16% of prevalence of Salmonella in broiler carcasses.

In the European Union, campylobacteriosis and salmonellosis are the two most frequently reported food-borne illness in humans, being broiler meat, one of the most important sources of these human diseases.

In order to establish baseline and comparable values for all Member states, a European Union-wide baseline survey was carried to determine the prevalence of Campylobacter in broiler batches and of Campylobacter and Salmonella on broiler carcasses. The broiler batches and carcasses were randomly selected from broiler slaughterhouses within each Member state, plus Norway and Switzerland who were also included in the study.

The results shows that at Community level the prevalence of Campylobacter-colonised broiler batches was 71.2%, and that of Campylobacter-contaminated broiler carcasses was 75,8%. Also, about two thirds of the Campylobacter isolates from the broiler batches as well as those from broiler carcasses were identified as Campylobacter jejuni, while one third was Campylobacter coli.

Analyzing the counts of Campylobacter bacteria on broiler carcasses the survey shows that in the EU, almost half (47%) of the carcasses contained less than 10 Campylobacter per g (cfu/g) and 12.2 % contained between 10-99 cfu/g. Higher counts were detected as follows: between 100-999 cfu/g on 19.3%, between 1000-10000 cfu/g on 15.8%, and more than 10000 cfu/g on 5.8 % of carcasses.

The Community prevalence of Salmonella-contaminated broiler carcasses was 15.7% at slaughterhouse level, and it varied widely among Member States, from 0.0% to 26.6%. However, Hungary had an exceptional high prevalence of 85.6%

Finally, at EU level the four most frequently isolated Salmonella serovars on broiler carcasses were respectively, in decreasing order, Salmonella Infantis (29.2%), Salmonella Enteritidis (13.6%), Salmonella Kentucky (6.2%) and Salmonella Typhimurium (4.4%).

This survey reinforces the information given by health authorities about the need of safe handling of raw meat, thorough cooking and strict kitchen hygiene, as the most important ways to prevent or reduce the risk posed by Campylobacter and Salmonella-contaminated broiler meat.
Source: European Food Safety Authority

Nestle confirms salmonella found at plant

Salmonella was found in a batch of chocolate morsels manufactured at a plant in Burlington, Wis.

Sample of the morsels tested positive for salmonella a couple weeks ago. A recall was not necessary since the tested batch was never distributed for sale. Nestle assured the public the plant underwent an intense cleaning after the positive test to prevent the possibility of a salmonella outbreak."We have rigorous quality assurance protocols and procedures in place, which include testing of product during our manufacturing process"."As part of our extensive quality procedures, we also tested product manufactured before and after this single positive sample, and all product tested negative. Quality is our number one priority and this is example of our extensive procedures at work."

martes, 16 de marzo de 2010

Food contamination by resistant bacteria to antibacterial agents

Organic and conventional fruits and vegetables contain equivalent counts of Gram-negative bacteria expressing resistance to antibacterial agents.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently attempted to ascertain to what extent food constitutes a vehicle for the acquisition by humans of antimicrobial resistant bacteria or resistance genes, to grade the risks of such acquisition, and to identify control options (EFSA, 2008). These problems have arisen at a time when many pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria (GNB), such as members of the family Enterobacteriaceae, have become resistant to most antibiotics (Levy and Marshall, 2004), resulting in difficult-to-treat infections that make it necessary to avoid further increases in resistance, because very few new antibiotics are becoming available (Shlaes, 2003). In this situation, better understanding of the paths via which resistance to antibiotics spreads might be crucial in helping to control such dissemination.
Intestinal commensal GNB are good recipients for the horizontal transfer of genes from environmentally resistant by transient inhabitants (Salyers et al., 2004) and can further disseminate resistance in pathogenic species (Alekshun and Levy, 2006). This resistance was found to decrease in subjects fed sterilized food (Corpet, 1988) but was frequent in vegetarians (Guinee et al., 1970; van den Braak et al., 1997). Exposure to resistant GNB has been traced to contaminated vegetables (Kapperud et al., 1995) as well as fruits, when either is eaten raw, with environmental bacteria acting as potential sources of resistance (Rossolini et al., 2008). Contamination and subsequent infections are indeed feared in patients with leukemia (Remington and Schimpff, 1981) and cystic fibrosis (Moore et al., 2001).
In France, most fruits and vegetables are conventionally produced, but organic products are also available and are attractive to consumers (Bio Agence, 2008). Manure from farms using antibiotics increases resistance in soil bacteria (Binh et al., 2007; Ghosh and LaPara, 2007; Heuer and Smalla, 2007), and this resistance may contaminate agricultural products. However, producers of organic fruit and vegetables must adhere to European rules (Anonymous, 2000): these forbid fertilization by chemical agents, but allow the use of manure from organic farming and sewage. Recently, specific types of genes which confer extended resistance on beta-lactams, such as the CTX-M gene family, have emerged worldwide in enterobacteria, causing infections in humans (Pitout and Laupland, 2008), and their sources have been traced to environmental bacterial species (Canton and Coque, 2006). In this study, the results for resistance to third generation cephalosporins indicated that environmental species were responsible for most of the colonization of fruits and vegetables, first, because most of the species isolated were indeed environmental, and second, because resistance was more frequent in the products grown in contact with the soil, and many soil bacteria indeed carry resistance genes (Dantas et al., 2008; Demaneche et al., 2008).
These results suggest that further investigations should be undertaken in this field.
Fuente: Environmental Microbiology (2010) 12(3), 608–615

lunes, 15 de marzo de 2010

Chile's earthquake knocks out research labs

Earthquake-related fire destroyed the chemical sciences department at the University of Concepción
Chilean scientists say that last month's earthquake destroyed research facilities worth tens of millions of dollars and the resulting tsunamis killed a researcher who was on a field trip on the Juan Fernández Islands.
The 8.8-magnitude earthquake that hit the country on 27 February damaged the universities of Concepción and Talca, in central-south Chile, the closest universities to the epicenter. They rank third and fifth for scientific productivity in the country.
At the University of Concepción, 105 km from the epicenter, the three-story faculty of chemical sciences was completely destroyed in a fire minutes after the earthquake.
Then one of the multiples tsunamis triggered by the earthquakes washed out the university's marine biological station in Dichato, a coastal village 45 km from Concepción, Jaime Baeza, the university's research director, told SciDev.Net.
The losses include equipment, marine samples and experiments, aquariums and the library. A coastal research vessel was washed onshore, its instruments either damaged by the tsunami or looted afterwards.
"There is also countless damage to sophisticated equipment and technology in all the science faculties," said Baeza, including in Santiago the Chilean capitol. "The total losses are estimated to be about US$40–50 million. Unfortunately not all the equipment was insured and those who were insured may not be covered after an earthquake of such magnitude.
At the University of Talca, 110 km from the epicenter, "there are losses in all the laboratories, many of them irreparable. Expensive equipment, and reagents and products obtained after 10 or more years of experiments are lost," said Carlos Padilla, deputy vice-rector for research.
The third floor of the Biotechnology and Vegetable Biology Institute was completely destroyed. "We can't even access it to take things out. We must start from the beginning," said Padilla. Both universities highlighted the support they have received from national and international researchers. Some centers abroad have even offered their labs for postgraduate students to resume their work at no charge," Padilla said.
In Santiago, the University of Chile also reported damage, especially in the new Millennium building, which hosts biology labs, where flooding from burst pipes ruined valuable instruments. According to Ana Preller, director of the biology department, the losses could amount to US$1 million.
"In the biology and chemistry labs there was equipment lost, freezers knocked over, and incubators and cutting edge instruments damaged," said the dean of the faculty of sciences, Raul Morales, on the university website. He estimated that 12 to 15 laboratories were severely affected.
The tsunami also swept a new Chilean Army research vessel from the shipyard in the port of Talcahuano to a spot about 200 meters inland. It had been due to begin its maiden voyage on the day of the earthquake but it was not seriously damaged.
The researcher who died was Paula Ayerdi, a young marine biologist who was working on the Juan Fernández Islands.
Source: SciDev.Net.

jueves, 11 de marzo de 2010

Plant design and personal hygiene crucial to reducing listeria risk

Listeriosis with 21 cases and 7 deaths linked to contaminated cheese.
Cheese contamination has hit the headlines in recent weeks after Austrian authorities linked seven listeriosis deaths to Prolactal cheese. In light of this news, food safety experts explain how risk of contamination from Listeria monocytogenes can be minimized in cheese processing.
The main sources of Listeria monocytogenes (LM) contamination are raw materials, processing equipment and environment, and the handling and hygiene practices of workers. Recent surveys have found that processing equipment like holding tanks, storage coolers, table tops, and conveyor systems are all vulnerable to contamination as well as environmental sites such as drains, floors, and storage areas.
LM can form biofilms and be spread from processing equipment and sites to end products through the ventilation system, from dripping and splashing when cleaning with high powered hoses, and by workers themselves. Poor personal hygiene has been identified as one of the most common human errors leading to illness outbreaks.
Prevention steps: Good manufacturing practices (GMP) and good hygiene practices (GHP) should form the basis to prevent contamination of cheese and in general food products from pathogens. Employees should be well trained to understand food safety risks and implement good hygiene practices such as regular hand washing and use of gloves and utensils instead of bare hands. Good cleaning and disinfection routines, especially on surfaces in contact with end products, will also help minimize risk.
Another important factor is plant layout and design, because Listeria monocytogenes can adhere to a wide range of materials and can establish persistent contamination niches in food processing areas. In order to prevent colonization of the processing environment by LM, plant layout and equipment should be designed to be more hygienic, such as without edges, crevices and dead spaces to facilitate good working routines and to ensure an effective sanitation process.
Control strategies: As well as thinking about prevention strategies, food companies must also consider control of LM contamination. Pasteurization is one of the most obvious strategies as this destroys all bacterial pathogens common in raw milk but it is not an option open to makers of un-pasteurized cheese.
Other strategies are to use combined effects of low water activity, low pH and the competition with the starter culture constitutes hurdles that prevent the survival and growth LM in fermented dairy products such as cheeses.

miércoles, 10 de marzo de 2010

More HVP Products Recalled

Food recalls for potential Salmonella contamination from Hidrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP)

Three more companies are recalling products for potential Salmonella contamination from Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP). Nestle Professional North America is recalling roughly 6,000 pounds of its ready-to-eat bacon, Procter and Gamble is recalling two Pringles chips flavors: Restaurant Cravers Cheeseburger and Family Faves Taco Night, and Ruiz Foods, Inc., is recalling ready-to-eat beef.
Basic Foods Flavors Inc., the Las Vegas Company at the center of a recall of more than 100 different products, recalled its HPV products on March 4. HPV is used as a flavor enhancer in many foods, including various kinds of dips, soups, dressings, snack foods, and more.
Although the HPV was recalled March 4, the Pringles chips and ready-to-eat bacon and beef products were recalled yesterday after FDA determined that the HVP ingredient was added after Salmonella prevention steps were applied.
FDA conducted an investigation at the Basic Foods plant in Las Vegas after a customer of an FDA-regulated firm reported finding Salmonella in the HVP ingredient. FDA officials discovered the company did not adequately clean equipment and store foods to protect against the growth of bacteria such as salmonella.
After the inspection, FDA officials recommended companies recall all products that contain HPV made by Basic Foods that tested positive for Salmonella.
To date, no illnesses have been reported related to the recall.
FDA officials said this may be due to the extremely low levels of Salmonella-tainted HPV in a given product, which in most cases is less than 1 percent of all ingredients.
Fuente: FDA recalls.
Aporte: Ninoska Cordero.

martes, 9 de marzo de 2010

Recomendaciones a la población en materia de control e higiene de alimentos en zonas devastadas por el terremoto.

El Minsal en su página web entrega recomendaciones para el control de alimentos, no obstante la precariedad de las zonas devastadas.

En estas circunstancias que viven varios sectores de nuestro país, y en la medida de lo posible, los recursos de inspección de alimentos deben dirigirse particularmente a controlar la limpieza y la higiene de los establecimientos de elaboración de alimentos de primera necesidad y de aquellos hogares que no cuenten con los servicios básicos de agua, luz o gas.
- Se debe dar énfasis a la limpieza e higiene a las áreas de elaboración y superficies de mesones de preparación de alimentos.
- Constatar la existencia de agua para la elaboración, ya sea de red o potabilizada por adición de cloro en concentración adecuada, esto es, 2 gotas de cloro por litro de agua cristalina y 10 gotas de cloro por litro de agua turbia.
- Control que de temperaturas en la cocción de alimentos elaborados por sobre 80 ºC, que en términos prácticos implica que los líquidos deben hervir y las carnes cocerse hasta que la parte central y más profunda pierda el color rojo sanguinolento.
- Manejo adecuado de las sustancias de desinfección y de control de plagas. Deben estar en lugares separados de las materias primas y de los productos terminados.
Además, se entrega la recomendación de que los establecimientos que preparan alimentos y han perdido la capacidad de mantener refrigerados los alimentos, solo produzcan lo que se puede comercializar y consumir de inmediato. Asimismo, aquellos alimentos que han sido preparados y que se han mantenido por 2 horas o más a temperatura ambiente y que posteriormente pueden ser refrigerados deben ser también consumidos antes de 5 días ya que pueden albergar al patógeno Listeria monocytogenes el cual puede crecer a temperaturas de refrigeración.
Fuente: Ministerio de Salud, MINSAL. www.redsalud.gov.cl circular nº8 (05/03/2010): Inspección de alimentos en la zona amagada por la catástrofe.

lunes, 8 de marzo de 2010

Aflatoxin cancer burden estimated

The Risk Assessment results will alert scientists and policy makers to re-examine aflatoxin exposure limits
Exposure to aflatoxin, a group of toxins produced by mould that grows on cereals, spices, and nuts, could be behind up to 28% of global cases of the most common form of liver cancer, according to a risk assessment published in Environmental Health Perspectives. More than five billion people worldwide are exposed to uncontrolled levels of the toxin.
Aflatoxin contamination in food is a serious global health problem, particularly in developing countries,” write Yan Liu and Felicia Wu from the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, USA. The toxin could account for 28% of all cases of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), with sub-Saharan Africa, South-East Asia, and China shouldering the heaviest burden.
Aflatoxin is produced by a fungus that can grow on food crops in tropical and subtropical climates. Maize and groundnuts, staple foods of many African and Asian diets, are most prone to having the mould. As many poor people living in these regions cannot afford a varied diet, potentially contaminated foods make up a significant proportion of their diets. People in these regions are also more likely to be infected with the hepatitis B virus, which raises the odds of developing aflatoxin-related liver cancer 30-fold compared with uninfected people.
Although it has been known for some time that aflatoxin is carcinogenic, this is the first study to estimate the proportion of liver cancer cases worldwide attributed to the exposure.
The amount of aflatoxin that contaminates food can be reduced by drying and storing grains properly. Sorting and washing the grains before cooking can also reduce levels of the harmful substance. The global prevention strategies should include education campaigns to improve the public’s awareness of the risks.
While it is impossible to completely eliminate aflatoxin in food worldwide, it is possible to significantly reduce levels and dramatically reduce liver cancer incidence worldwide, the authors conclude. The challenge remains to deliver these interventions to places of the world where they are most needed.
Reference and link: Liu Y, Wu F. Global burden of aflatoxin-induced hepatocellular carcinoma: a risk assessment. Environ Health Perspect 2010.

Pre-harvest food safety revisited

Early applied phages inactivate E. coli O157: H7 efficiently
Recent developments in bacteriophages, vaccines and other technologies have changed my thinking about the importance of pre-harvest interventions in an integrated food safety system.
Pre-harvest interventions by themselves are not going to eliminate E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella in beef. However, the strategic use of technologies that can eliminate peaks in the incidence of pathogens and generally reduce contamination in and on cattle, make it more likely that the interventions applied at slaughter and post-slaughter will effectively eliminate pathogen contamination on beef carcasses.
Pre-harvest technologies also reduce environmental sources of E. coli O157:H7, which in turn reduces the risk of contamination of fresh cut produce and other foods that are harvested in beef producing areas. A reduction of E. coli in cattle holding pens associated with pre-harvest interventions may also impact the risk of airborne vectors of contamination at beef slaughter plants.
One of the most promising pre-harvest interventions involves a bacteriophage that is specific to E. coli O157:H7. The phage is applied as a spray directly onto the hides of animals without causing discomfort or stress. It then works its way over the hide surface and inactivates E. coli O157:H7 on contact as it binds to specific receptors on the surface of the E. coli cell. The earlier the phage is applied, the more effective it is at reducing E. coli numbers. Currently, most phage applications are done on receipt at packing plants and this approach has been shown to be effective. If the phage were applied upstream, prior to loading cattle onto trucks, it may be even more effective and also have the added benefit of reducing contamination on trucks.
Other pre-harvest food safety technologies are also emerging. The Epitopix and Bioniche E. coli vaccines have received conditional approval in the US and are being tested at several feedlots across the US. Research on competitive exclusion probiotics and Sodium chlorate (produces a cytotoxic effect) is also underway.
Historically, E. coli O157:H7 has been more of a problem over the summer and fall. According to the CDC, 89% of the E. coli outbreaks that occurred from 1982-2002, happened during the months of May - November. If a pre-harvest intervention like the phage can eliminate the spikes in E. coli that occur over this time period, there would be an important corresponding public health benefit.
Ultimately, the beef industry, like the dairy industry, will likely employ some form of pasteurization to eliminate pathogens from consumer products. Pre-harvest interventions will still play an important role in the overall food safety systems of the future by reducing microbiological hazards on cattle prior to slaughter.
Source: http://www.meatingplace.com/MembersOnly/blog/BlogDetail.aspx?blogID=11Safety Zone

Shigella outbreak closes Subway in Illinois

The origin is suspected to be linked with ill employees
WGN Local News in Lombard, Illinois reported Thursday that a Subway restaurant has been closed by the DuPage County Health Department after several customers contracted Shigellosis, a gastrointestinal illness.
The Health Department said 8 confirmed cases had been reported, and of those 8 victims, 4 were hospitalized. As many as 50 more cases of illness are possible, according to officials, and the agency is advising that anyone who ate at the Subway located at 1009 E. Roosevelt Road between February 24 and March 4 to contact the Health Department.
Shigellosis, a bacterial illness caused by the ingestion of Shigella bacteria, can cause diarrhea, which is often bloody, vomiting, fever, and stomach cramps one to two days after being exposed to it. Although the illness usually resolves in 5 to 7 days, the young and the elderly are more vulnerable to extended sickness and more severe symptoms.
The Subway in Lombard is an oft-visited spot for hungry high school students from nearby Montini Catholic High School, and as a result, 4 students and 3 teachers have acquired the illness. One of the students was taken to the emergency room.
The illness is especially dangerous for people like students and teachers who spend their time in a crowded environment, as the illness can pass from one infected person to the next. It can also be acquired from contaminated food, and those infected can remain contagious for up to 4 weeks.
The Department of Health is not sure where the Subway outbreak began, but officials said it could have come from the food or someone in the restaurant.

The restaurant has been closed pending further investigation, according to a statement from the Health Department, which said the restaurant's owners and corporate representatives are cooperating with investigators.
According to the Health Department, the infection can be stopped with careful and thorough hand washing, among other.

More Pepper Recalled in Salmonella Outbreak

Salmonella montevideo that has infected 245 people in 44 states and the District of Columbia.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is throwing its nets over more pepper suspected as the cause of a nationwide outbreak of Salmonella montevideo that has infected 245 people in 44 states and the District of Columbia.
FDA has been investigating the supply chain of black and red pepper supplied to Rhode Island-based Daniele Inc.; the company that has recalled a total of 1.4 million pounds of ready to eat meats since Jan. 23 for possible Salmonella contamination.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta found all those infected had a matching strain of Salmonella montevideo.
CDC's analysis of an epidemiologic study comparing foods eaten by those who got sick found Italian-style salami as a possible source of the illnesses. Black and red pepper is used as a coating or ingredient.
FDA says it is working with the suppliers to identify the customers who received the recalled product and determine if further recalls are necessary. Consumers are encouraged to frequently check FDA's website for the latest company recall information.
A risk profile is designed to capture the current state of knowledge related to an issue and identify any knowledge gaps. This particular risk profile focuses on microbiological contaminants and filth issues related to spices. Some members of the spice industry have already agreed to provide data to FDA for the risk profile. The risk profile will provide vital information to risk management decision-makers and will help the agency determine the best way mitigate foodborne illness issues associated with spices. Specifically it can help FDA determine: how to allocate resources, whether guidance for industry or for FDA inspectors is appropriate, or even the need for new rulemaking.
Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Symptoms for those infected with Salmonella include fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.