martes, 25 de enero de 2011

BfR, DTU and Anses enter into cooperation agreement

Close scientific cooperation and joint research projects on risk assessment

On 7 December 2010 the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), the French Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail (Anses) and the Food Institute of the Danish Tekniske Universitet (DTU) signed a cooperation agreement.

The objective of the German-French-Danish cooperation is to render the joint activities in the field of food safety, also on the European level, even more effective and efficient than in the past. "We want to establish a strong network of risk assessment specialists in our institutions to ensure a rapid exchange of scientific findings in Europe", said BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel at the signing of the agreement in Copenhagen, "in particular in the event of a food crisis we have to rely on the competency and excellence of our colleagues."

The German BfR, the French Anses and the Danish DTU have similar tasks and implement comparable concepts in the field of scientific risk assessment on the basis of active research work. Cooperation within a joint structural framework to avoid the duplication of work is, therefore, an obvious solution.

The cooperation agreement permits the development of formal cooperation between BfR, Anses and DTU in scientific risk assessment and research as well as technical and administrative cooperation in these fields. To that end each institution will first set up a working group with three members, which will take over the coordination of the joint activities. These coordination groups will pool expert knowledge in the fields of risk assessment, communication and research as well as science-based risk communication. They are to meet once a year, alternately in Germany, France and Denmark; they will suggest joint projects and activities for the next year and evaluate ongoing activities. The first working project is a detailed plan on possible cooperation projects and their contents. They are to include joint projects involving laboratories, research institutions and experts from the three countries, the exchange of scientific journals in the field of food safety, early mutual information about scientific opinions and about the strategic annual work schedules.

About BfR: The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientific institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV). It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. BfR engages in research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

Source:BfR, Germany

Tomato Salmonella research to study role of plastics and dry biofilms

Research on the safe handling of tomatoes evaluates plastics in food contact materials and gloves can affect transfer and survival of Salmonella in the fruit.

A team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in the US, has received a US$235,000-grant from the Center for Product Safety, Davis, California, as part of a drive to improve food safety in growing and harvesting fresh produce.

The project, due to begin this month, will also seek to yield new knowledge about how and under what conditions bacteria form biofilms on different surface types and provide practical, science-based guidelines on how to prevent cross-contamination.

The study compare bacterial transfer rates on smooth versus abraded plastic packaging tubs and ramps. They will also evaluate contamination rates between work gloves made of a variety of materials. In this way, they can determine where and when Salmonella most often hitches a ride onto the tomato’s outer skin and into the food supply.

Brittle biofilms: "Bacterial cross-contamination from one surface to another is a more complex problem than we once believed," scientists would like to better understand how moisture levels affect biofilms and bacteria dispersal, for example.” The researcher’s previous work with Listeria monocytogenes had indicated that the dryer biofilms become, the greater numbers of cells break off and are transferred to foods.

“The level of transfer is dependent upon both the biofilm substrate material and the food,” she said. “Currently our working hypothesis is that the presence of water is a major component holding the biofilm cells and exopolymeric substances) together, so as the biofilm dries, it becomes less cohesive.”

Plastic factors: The research project will also be looking at whether the type, and condition, of plastics used to manufacture gloves and storage tubs has a food safety implication.

A variety of glove materials, such as nitrile rubber, low density polyethylene, and polyvinyl chloride vinyl will all be examined. The condition of high density polyethylene (HDPE) – used in the harvesting bins and pails - will also be considered to assess the survival, transfer and cleanability on ‘new’ and ‘worn’ surfaces, with varying amounts of organic load.

External poultry packaging harbours campylobacter threat - report

Campylobacter jejuni has been detected on the external packaging of 40 per cent of fresh chickens on sale in shops across one major UK city, a study has found.

The report from Birmingham City Council urged meat processors to use stronger packaging, called on supermarkets to employ better display techniques and suggested a public awareness campaign in a bid to cut the risk of cross-contamination of the foodborne bacteria from external packing.

But it also stressed that reducing Campylobacter contamination on broiler farms was key and once achieved the benefits would be reflected throughout the food supply chain, ultimately reducing the number of food poisoning cases.

A report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) last year found that around 80 per cent of chicken carcasses on the European market were infected with Campylobacter. The Europe-wide survey found that 75 per cent of fresh UK poultry were carrying the pathogen. The UK Food Standards Agency has declared Campylobacter to be its top priority given the bug sickens an estimated 300,000 people a year and causes 80 deaths.

Survey: Swabs samples taken in retail stores from chilled display cabinet at one “well-known supermarket” after it was observed pools of juice had leaked from the poultry through the packaging onto its surface. This was exacerbated by the retail practice of standing chickens on their ends which “makes for an attractive display but due to gravitation the natural juices are concentrated into one end of the tray and can leak out if there is a weakness in the shrink wrap and seams”, cautioned the report.

Scientists from the Health Protection Agency Laboratories examined both the exterior packing and the raw meat for Campylobacter and Salmonella.

The HPA found Campylobacter on the external packaging surface of eight of the 20 samples (40 per cent), with the bacteria detected in the meat of seven of the samples (35 per cent). No trace of Salmonella was found on any exterior packaging.

Swabs taken from meat juice pooled in the display chillers also tested positive for the pathogen which, said the report, “indicated that Campylobacter was present at the point of sale”. It also found there was no link between positive results on the meat and on the external packaging.

This indicates that cross contamination of the external packaging could be at any point: i.e. from the packaging process, distribution, food handlers to the display area itself,” added the report. “This type of packaging can split thereby leaking onto other packs and surfaces.”

Implications: The study concluded there are issues throughout the food chain for cross-contamination to take place. However, it states the public is largely ignorant that external packaging of poultry products is one possible source of the bacteria.


lunes, 24 de enero de 2011

Listeria Linked to Salad Mix in Rhode Island

Recall included seven-ounces packages sold at retail

The Rhode Island Department of Health has advised consumers that a sample of Northeast Spring Mix salad mix sold at McQuade's Market in Jamestown has tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

The salad mix, manufactured by Northeast Fresh in Chelsea, Massachusetts, was sold in seven-ounce bags and has a product code of Jan15/457034. The Rhode Island Health Department is working to determine if this product was distributed elsewhere in the state.

No illnesses have been reported in association with this recall.

Anyone who bought an item on the recall list should throw the product away or return it to the place of purchase for a refund, the health department said.

Symptoms of Listeria monocytogenes include high fever; severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeria can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Source: News Desk

martes, 18 de enero de 2011

BRC reveals key changes in food packaging

Chemicals migrating from inks in packaging to food products are now included

Ahead of the publication in February of Issue 4 of the Global Standard Packaging and Packaging Materials, BRC revealed a list of some of the key changes in the new edition. These include the introduction of new safeguards to protect against the migration of chemicals from packaging into food products.This comes as scientists raise the alarm over the potential problem of mineral oils in inks finding their way into packaged food.

In particular, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in Germany has expressed concern that mineral oils in recycled cardboard, thought to accumulate from newspaper ink, could migrate in “relevant quantities” into carton packed foods.

List of main changes A full list of the changes to the Global Standard highlighted by BRC is given below:

  • · Preparation and planning section, providing guidance and support for sites new to the certification process
  • · Additional safeguards to reduce the risk of chemical migration, such as by inks, from packaging into food products
  • · Introduction of “fundamental” clauses, relating to systems that are crucial to the establishment and operation of an effective packaging manufacturing operation
  • · Introduction of a grading scheme based on number and severity of non-conformities
  • · Audit frequencies and processes for corrective action that reflect the company’s audit performance

· Simplification to two product categories, high risk and low risk, based on the hygiene requirement of the final use of the packaging materials – for example a food wrapping is high risk, the packaging round a kettle or toaster is low risk

The BRC Global Standards, which were first introduced in 1998, are designed to give retailers and manufacturers confidence that suppliers are following all their quality and safety standards and are meeting all legal requirements.

Global Standards Talking about the packaging standard, BRC technical director David Brackston said: “They open up new markets for packaging suppliers who can promote themselves to customers who are looking for independent endorsement of suppliers’ operations.”

After the new issue of the standard is published in February, audits on it will begin six months later to give companies time to become familiar with the requirements.

BRC published three other standards that cover food safety, consumer products and storage and distribution. Currently more than 15,000 factories in over 90 countries are audited to the Global Standards.

Source: Food Quality News

lunes, 3 de enero de 2011

Estudio BRAFO: El análisis de los beneficios y riesgos de los alimentos

¿Cómo podemos cuantificar los beneficios y los riesgos de los alimentos?

Una nutrición óptima es muy importante para prevenir la aparición de enfermedades, por lo que el análisis de los beneficios y riesgos derivados de la alimentación es importante para la salud pública. Las evaluaciones de los beneficios y riesgos de los alimentos pueden ser muy dispares y las recomendaciones a menudo se basan en juicios subjetivos. Para ello se ha creado el proyecto BRAFO (Benefit-Risk Analysis of Foods), una acción específica de apoyo de la Comisión Europea para investigar este tema. Fundado por la Comisión Europea y coordinado por el International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) de Europa, el estudio BRAFO pretende desarrollar un marco de trabajo común para comparar los beneficios y riesgos para la salud de los alimentos y los componentes alimentarios (Ej. nutrientes o agentes químicos específicos). Uno de sus objetivos es crear una base científica más sólida para la comunicación de los beneficios y riesgos a los encargados de la formulación de políticas, incluyendo la expresión apropiada de incertidumbre en toda la Unión Europea (UE). El estudio BRAFO sigue los pasos de una serie de estudios de la Comisión Europea sobre la evaluación de los beneficios y riesgos en relación con los alimentos: el proyecto FOSIE (Food Safety in Europe: Risk Assessment of Chemicals in Food) sobre la seguridad alimentaria en Europa, PASSCLAIM (Process for the Assessment of Scientific Support for Claims on Foods) sobre la evaluación del respaldo científico de las alegaciones sobre alimentos, QALIBRA (Quality of Life - integrated Benefit and Risk Assessment ) sobre la calidad de vida y el análisis integrado de beneficios y riesgos), BEPRARIBEAN (Best Practices in Risk-Benefit Analysis ) sobre las mejores prácticas para el análisis de riesgos y beneficios, y se centra más en cómo evaluar mejor los alimentos y los componentes alimentarios. El estudio BRAFO, que actualmente se encuentra en su tercer y último año, se diseñó con tres componentes: metodología (1º año), estudio de casos (2º año) y consenso (3º año).
Más información
-Proyecto de la UE BRAFO (Benefit-Risk Assessment of Foods)

-Proyecto de la UE PASSCLAIM (Process for the Assessment of Scientific Support for Claims on Foods)

-Proyecto de la UE FOSIE (Food Safety in Europe: Risk Assessment of Chemicals in Food)

-Proyecto de la UE QALIBRA (Quality of Life - Integrated Benefit and Risk Assessment) de la UE FoodRisC (Food Risk Communication)

-Proyecto de la UE BEPRARIBEAN (Best Practices in Risk-Benefit Analysis)

-Hoekstra J et al. BRAFO tiered approach for benefit-risk assessment of foods. Food Chemical Toxicology (2010). doi:10.1016/j.fct.2010.05.049