viernes, 27 de enero de 2012

French visitors to Turkey infected with E. coli O104

Two patients suffered hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)
A group of French tourists returned home from Turkey last fall with diarrheal illnesses, and two of them developed a life-threatening kidney disease linked to the foodborne pathogen E. coli.
Now French health officials have completed an investigation into this illness cluster and say the two women were infected with a strain of E. coli similar to the rarely seen bacteria that caused the devastating European outbreak linked to sprouts grown from Egyptian fenugreek seeds.
In findings released Thursday by Eurosurveillance, the authors say the two cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) were caused by E. coli O104:H4, "genetically similar but not indistinguishable" from the E. coli O104:H4 outbreak strain in France and Germany last spring.
The study conclude this is "further evidence" that Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) serogroup O104 circulates in Turkey, along with Afghanistan, Egypt and Tunisia. "Public health authorities and clinicians should be vigilant for possible STEC O104 infection in individuals returning from these areas who present with post-diarrheal HUS," the article advises.
The study involved eight out of 22 French tourists who became sick after a two-week bus tour of Turkey in September of 2011. Two of these patients, both women in their 60s, experienced more serious illnesses, and upon their return to Caen, France they were treated for HUS, a complication of E. coli infection that leads to kidney failure.
Exposure to the bacteria most likely occurred in Turkey, the authors say, because the women began experiencing symptoms 11 days into their trip, and the average incubation period for E. coli O104:H4 is only 8 to 9 days. The incubation period is the time between contact with a pathogen and when symptoms begin to appear.
The two HUS cases may have been unrelated to the diarrheal illnesses of the other tour group members, according to the article.  "The reported incubation period [for the other 6 diarrheal cases] was much shorter than that of the HUS cases," it states. "Moreover, none were confirmed as STEC O104:H4 infection. Thus, this cluster may have been due to another pathogen and may have been a distinct event not linked to the HUS cases."
This most recent outbreak of E. coli O104:H4 from Turkey adds to evidence suggesting that the serogroup E. coli O104 circulates in this region of the world says the report. Between 2006 and 2010, the authors note, there have been reports of travelers returning from Afghanistan, Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey infected with various strains of the serogroup.
Source: Public Health Surveillance, University Hospital of Caen's Nephrology Department

domingo, 22 de enero de 2012

Office of Management and Budget says Food Agency Merger is next Administration wants to move FSIS to FDA

The goal is consolidation of all food-safety functions into a single agency
A single federal food safety agency, long sought by many advocates, will happen if Congress grants the Obama Administration authority to reorganize the government, according to the subscription news service The Hagstrom Report.
In its recent edition, The Hagstrom Report said Office of Management and Budget Director for Management, Jeff Zients, said that if Congress grants Obama the power to consolidate federal agencies, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) with the food safety unit at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
A consumer advocate tipped off Hagstrom that Obama Administration officials want to merge FSIS with the food regulatory function of FDA, which is part of Health and Human Service Department (HHS).
Obama administration officials are said to favor the merger because it would make food safety independent of USDA, which primarily exists to market and promote American farm products. 
Presidents from Herbert Hoover through Ronald Reagan had the power to organize the executive branch of government, subject only to Congressional veto. However, Congress took those organizational powers away during the Reagan Administration. In his last State of the State address, Obama asked to have the authority restored to the Oval Office, and this week renewed that call.
Jerry Hagstrom pointed out that more than two federal agencies are involved in food safety.  "FSIS, whose inspectors must be present in every meat plant in the country, has a much bigger budget than FDA, which has responsibility for other foods. Twelve agencies are involved in food safety, this will end.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has called for consolidation of all food-safety functions into a single agency, an end to fragmented oversight supported by most, but not all, outside food-safety advocates.   In renewing his call for Presidential consolidation authority on Friday, Obama said his plan to merge six business and trade agencies is just the "first action" he has in mind.
It apparently includes moving the National Oceanic and Fisheries Administration (NOAA) from the Commerce Department to Interior. Obama said that would bring all salmon regulation into one agency. Late Friday, Food & Water Watch came out against that move. 

Source: Food Safety News

sábado, 21 de enero de 2012

USDA Seeks to Modernize Poultry Inspection in the United States

Inspection would focus on areas most critical to ensuring food safety
FSIS will continue to conduct on-line carcass-by-carcass inspection as mandated by law. This rule will allow FSIS personnel to conduct a more efficient carcass-by-carcass inspection with agency resources focused on more effective food safety measures. Data collected by the Agency over the past several years suggests that offline inspection activities are more effective in improving food safety. Inspection activities conducted off the evisceration line include pathogen sampling, and verifying that establishments are maintaining sanitary conditions and controlling food safety hazards at Critical Control Points in the production process.

Over the past two years, FSIS has announced several new measures to safeguard the food supply, prevent foodborne illness, and improve consumers' knowledge about the food they eat. These initiatives support the three core principles developed by the President's Food Safety Working Group: prioritizing prevention; strengthening surveillance and enforcement; and improving response and recovery. Some of these actions include:
·         Performance standards for poultry establishments for continued reductions in the occurrence of pathogens. After two years of enforcing the new standards, FSIS estimates that approximately 5,000 illnesses will be prevented each year under the new Campylobacter standards, and approximately 20,000 illnesses will be prevented under the revised Salmonella standards each year.

·         Zero tolerance policy for six Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) serogroups. Raw ground beef, its components, and tenderized steaks found to contain E. coli O26, O103, O45, O111, O121 or O145 will be prohibited from sale to consumers. USDA will launch a testing program to detect these dangerous pathogens and prevent them from reaching consumers.

·         Test and hold policy that will significantly reduce consumer exposure to unsafe meat products, should the policy become final, because products cannot be released into commerce until Agency test results for dangerous contaminants are known.

·         Labeling requirements that provide better information to consumers about their food by requiring nutrition information for single-ingredient raw meat and poultry products and ground or chopped products.

·         Public Health Information System, a modernized, comprehensive database about public health trends and food safety violations at the nearly 6,100 plants FSIS regulates.


martes, 17 de enero de 2012

Orange Juice Products and Carbendazim: Addendum to FDA Letter to the Juice Products Association

Import sampling of Orange Juice from all foreign sources
Import sampling began January 4, 2012.  Under FDA’s current import sampling assignment, FDA is testing all shipments of incoming OJ products from all foreign sources.
Incoming shipments of orange juice (OJ) products (which may include powdered products, ready to serve, or concentrate) are being sampled at the border and sent to FDA laboratories. From the time that FDA collects the sample, testing typically takes 4-5 business days when no carbendazim is confirmed during the initial screening; and an additional 7 business days if additional analyses are necessary.
FDA can accurately quantify and confirm carbendazim if it is present in OJ products at levels of 10 parts per billion (ppb) or greater.  Any import shipments containing carbendazim at 10 ppb or greater will be refused.  The importer will have 90 days to export or destroy the product that has been refused.
The orange juice product is tested in the form in which it arrives for entry into the United States.  The 10 ppb limit applies to powdered products, ready to serve, or concentrate.   If the product tested is below 10 ppb, it will be permitted into the country for sale, if it complies with all other applicable laws and regulations.
If FDA collects and analyzes three shipments of orange juice products from the same manufacturer and all samples are found to be in compliance, products from that manufacturer will no longer be sampled under the current assignment.
In the case of domestic products EPA has informed FDA that juice containing up to 80 ppb does not raise any safety issues.  Testing is performed by FDA and will use local routine sampling procedures.

Source: FDA:

viernes, 13 de enero de 2012

Miracle metal could usher in food safety revolution, scientist

Professor Bill Keevil, head of the Microbiology Group and director of the Environmental Healthcare Unit at the University of Southampton told Food Production out the findings of research he co-authored for the November issue of the Journal Environmental Microbiology.
The study examined the efficacy of copper used as an antimicrobial biocide against new strains of E. coli, and although it did not examine O104:H4 (the strain apparent in the spring epidemic in Germany and France), the authors found that all the strains investigated died rapidly on copper.
On a dry copper surface, the investigators showed that 10m E. coli bacteria were eliminated within 10 minutes, while on a wet copper surface, one could expect a ‘total kill’ within around 45 minutes.
Asked about the potential food safety benefits of integrating copper within food processing facilities, Keevil said: “The problem is that people always think of copper as the pure metal. If you’re a French cook, then you know that the best cordon bleu cookery schools use copper pans, they’re expensive. Pure copper isn’t very good in acid conditions, but now there is a whole range of alloys.”
Keevil said that such alloys were never investigated to see if they had antimicrobial properties, but that his team had shown that alloys containing more than 60% copper were antimicrobial.
“So there’s a whole family of copper alloys that could be very beneficially in things like food processing. They’re resistant to acid attack, for example, in contact with foods.”
Integrating copper into plants
Asked how copper could be integrated into facilities, Keevil said:“You might be concerned that staffs are contaminated.In that case a copper alloy surface would protect against worker contamination. The other big issue is that the foods themselves are naturally contaminated. E. coli O157:H7, for example, is present in contaminated beef, Salmonella and Campylobacter in contaminated chicken.”
Keevil noted that these meats could contaminate, say, salads or tomatoes placed on food contact surfaces after they were removed.
“Protecting against staff, you would certainly be looking at door handles, push plates on doors, etc. But if you’re concerned about contaminated food itself, then the actual food preparation area – cutting areas, conveyer belts, etc. are all very important.”
But with copper trading at around $7,500 on the London Metal Exchange, did Keevil accept that the significant premium involved for food processors using the metal instead of stainless steel?
He said: “When I’ve spoken to metallurgists in the copper industry, they tell me there’s very little difference between the price of stainless steel and copper. All I know is that there isn’t that much of price differential.”
Keevil said that previous research on contact surfaces within the food industry also showed that copper was also effective against Listeria on both dry and wet copper surfaces.
We then moved on to the hospital acquired infections, such as MRSA, Clostridium difficile, Acinetobacter baumannii, and again copper was doing a great job,” he added.
Source: y Enviromental Microbiology, November 2011
Aporte: M. Josefa Henriquez

Infectious Disease Complexity Demands Broad Collaborations

Food safety education should be modified to give a broad view and allow new professional profiles
The growing complexity of emerging infections, novel pathogens, and outbreaks is part of the impetus behind closer ties being forged across disciplines.

Examples are the Rift Valley fever outbreak in 2000, the anthrax events of 2001, norovirus outbreaks in 2002, SARS in 2003, Marburg virus in 2004, the ongoing influenza H5N1 epizootic with pandemic potential, and the influenza H1N1 pandemic in 2009. Approximately 60% of emerging and reemerging pathogens, which also include hantavirus, Yersinia pestis, and West Nile virus, are zoonotic, with clear links leading to human cases from wild, domestic, or companion animals, or insect vectors.

The 2003 report "Microbial Threats to Health: Emergence, Detection, and Response," from a committee of the Institute of Medicine in Washington, D.C., states that many infectious diseases emerge following the convergence of four complex critical elements: physical and environmental factors; ecological factors; social, political, and economic factors; and genetic and biological factors.

Experts in human, animal, and environmental health provide the basis for the discipline called infectious disease ecology. As we begin to train people to work within this integrated new discipline, we cannot forget that clinical microbiologists focus primarily on one species of animal-humans-while our veterinary colleagues work with many of the rest. Importantly, we all benefit when the skills and knowledge of both groups are brought together.

The complex interdisciplinary interactions are required to solve highly prevalent complex problems . Such requirement suggest the academy should take into account this reality implementing new interdisciplinary formative approaches in the professionals of the future.

The One Health concept is gaining recognition worldwide

One Health concept, which integrates human, animal, and environmental health when dealing with infectious diseases.
● The One Health concept integrates human, animal, and environmental health to provide valuable insights when dealing with infectious agents.
 ● Investigating emerging pathogens benefits when the skills and knowledge of those specializing in human and animal infectious diseases are brought together, thus increasing the likelihood of identifying ways to prevent such illnesses.

 ● The One Health concept is illustrated well by approaches to dealing with foodborne diseases because many agents have zoonotic sources.
 ● Recognizing that fluoroquinolone use in poultry led to fluoroquinolone-resistant Campylobacter infections in humans, officials at the FDA in 2005 withdrew approval for the use of these antimicrobial agents in the drinking water of poultry.

 ● Several case studies trace how investigations of bacterial isolates from patient specimens, when sent from clinical laboratories to public health laboratories for serotyping and subtyping, can provide critical insights for those analyzing public health problems.
 Clinical and public health microbiologists have long collaborated when responding to infectious disease problems to identify microbial pathogens. These investigative efforts include veterinary and environmental laboratory colleagues, taking advantage of their special skills in these arenas. These collaborations are helping us to realize the value of the One Health concept, which integrates human, animal, and environmental health when dealing with infectious diseases. This integrated approach also matches with what officials at the World Health Organization now recommend, and reinforces the value of taking a broad view of disease ecology. Our growing understanding of these important interfaces is providing insights into the complex chains that lead to human and animal illnesses.

Source:  J. Michael Miller and Patricia M. Griffin.  Microbe, January 2012,

jueves, 5 de enero de 2012

Cronobacter: FDA, CDC find no connection to infant formula

FDA and CDC tested various types of powdered infant formula and distilled water, known as nursing water, and found no contamination by Cronobacter sakazakii.

There is no evidence linking four ongoing Cronobacter sakazakii infections in infants across four states, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced in a joint news release Friday.

Based on their investigation, the agencies see no need for a recall of infant formula. Parents may continue to feed powdered formula to their infants, the news release said.

In a precautionary move, Walmart recalled Enfamil-brand powdered baby formula from its stores nationwide on December 22, after a 10-day old boy died from Cronobacter infection in Missouri. According to Mead Johnson Nutrition, the formula manufacturer, the recalled batch tested negative for the bacteria before it went to stores.

The CDC said it found Cronobacter sakazakii in an opened container of infant formula, an opened bottle of nursery water and prepared infant formula provided by the Missouri Department of Health, but was not certain how the foods became contaminated. In a follow-up, the FDA tested factory-sealed containers of formula and nursery water from the same batches and found no Cronobacter.

The other three infections have occurred in Florida, Illinois and Oklahoma. The infant in Florida died. The CDC also found that the Cronobacter bacteria in the Missouri and Illinois cases differ genetically, which suggests they are not related. The agency said it could not obtain bacteria from the Oklahoma or Florida cases to analyze.

 After inspecting the facilities that manufactured the formula and nursery water, the FDA said it found no Cronobacter there, either.

The CDC said that Cronobacter may multiply in formula after the powder is mixed with water, and the agency recommends mixing fresh formula for each feeding session. The agency also recommends breastfeeding whenever possible.


Aporte : Fernando Fuentes Pinochet

White House Touts Progress on Food Safety

President Obama's Food Safety Working Group is making progress, but more work needs to be done.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled a progress report Wednesday, highlighting areas of the initiative they say are working. The president's Food Safety Working Group (FSWG) was launched after the deadly Salmonella peanut butter outbreak in late 2008, early 2009.
Authorities pointed to a number of recent successes: the FDA implemented the Egg Safety Rule in 2010; the FDA, in partnership with USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, established a Produce Safety Alliance at Cornell University to develop educational and training materials for growers of all sizes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's comprehensive estimates show that E. coli illnesses have been reduced by almost half.

The FSWG also chronicled efforts made over the three years by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The agency set new Salmonella standards for poultry establishments, which may prevent as many as 25,000 foodborne illnesses annually. FSIS also announced a zero tolerance policy for six additional strains of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), which will launch in March 2012, and a "test and hold" policy that requires facilities to hold product until microbiological clearance be obtained.
"The litany of new acronyms for the task forces and interagency consultations that are described in the Obama Administration's new Progress Report on Food Safety is worthy of a good spy novel: from SIP to CORE; from ICAT to CalciNet," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The report documents important improvements that have been made in the food safety system, especially with the adoption and implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act," continued DeWaal. "However, with so many agencies involved, lapses can easily occur in the absence of strong leadership. It is promising to see the continuation of the Food Safety Working Group, which was established by President Obama early in his administration."

miércoles, 4 de enero de 2012

New compound to control many virulence genes in Listeria monocytogenes

Fluoro-phenyl-styrene-sulfonamide inhibits key bacterial virulence component.

Cantaloupe contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes killed 29 people in the U.S. this year in the deadliest foodborne outbreak since 1924, but the pathogen usually strikes in less public ways, quietly sickening an average of 1,600 people per year, according to the CDC. The authors of a study in mBio this week screened 57,000 small molecules to find one compound that can stop Listeria monocytogenes in its tracks. This needle-in-the-haystack approach has turned up a compound that could lead to novel therapeutics for listeriosis and other infections.
Palmer et al. targeted an Achilles tendon for many Gram positive bacteria, the stress responsive alternative sigma factor “σB”, since it poses a small target that, when struck, could bring down the entire pathogen. In Listeria, the σB gene controls the transcription of more than 150 other genes, many of which contribute to virulence and survival inside the human host. After screening tens of thousands of different small molecules, both synthetic and natural, for their activity against σB, the authors settled on fluoro-phenyl-styrene-sulfonamide (FPSS), a compound that specifically inhibits activity of σB and doesn’t pack any nasty side effects for mammalian cells. This shuts down many of Listeria’s virulence factors and inhibits invasion of the intestinal lining. As a bonus, FPSS could well prove effective against other pathogens that rely on σB, including Staphylococcus aureus (the cause of a wide range of maladies, from pimples to pneumonia) and Bacillus anthracis (the delightful bacterium that brought you Anthrax).
The authors point out that FPSS could serve not only as a therapeutic, but also as a tool for studying the regulatory networks that enable Listeria monocytogenes and other Gram-positive pathogens to invade and take advantage of the human host. An ongoing problem that has come to the public’s attention only when hundreds were sickened in the outbreak earlier this year, perhaps listeriosis is overdue for this exploration and for some new antibiotic therapy options.
Source: mBio ASM, 2012,