martes, 31 de julio de 2012

Oxnard-based Gills onions may be contaminated with Listeria

The nation's largest producer of fresh-cut onion products is possibly involved
Workers harvest onions in a Texas field. The nation's largest producer of fresh-cut onion products are now recalling possibly contaminated sliced, diced and whole peeled onions.
 California public health officials are warning consumers against eating onion products from a Southern California onion processing plant, as they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
The nation's largest producer of fresh-cut onion products, Oxnard-based Gills Onions, has initiated a voluntary recall of their sliced, diced and whole-peeled onion products (including the company's onion/celery mix) due to a possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.
The recalled onions were shipped to retail stores in a dozen states, including California.
Health officials say eating food contaminated with Listeria can cause serious illness and even death, but that it rarely affects healthy adults. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms.
The affected products are packaged in various-sized plastic bags and re-closeable plastic tubs that have a use-by date on or before August 3, 2012.
This recall marks the second by the Ventura County company since May, when Gills recalled more than 2,300 pounds of diced red onions. No illness resulted from that case, and so far there have been no reports of listeriosis from this most recent incident.
The company has directly notified all customers who received the recalled product and requested removal from store shelves.
Anyone who has the recalled product in their possession should not consume it and should destroy or discard it.

lunes, 30 de julio de 2012

CDC Releases Annual Foodborne Illness Data for 2011

E. coli O157 falling; Salmonella, Listeria and others remain steady

The number of Americans falling ill from foodborne pathogens remained steady or marginally worsened in the latter half of the 2000s, and 2011 turned out to show little difference, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which released its annual report of foodborne illness data for 2011 on Friday evening.

While the data showed a promising five-year decline of E. coli O157:H7 and Shigella infections since 2007, infection rates stagnated or slightly grew for a number of other notable bacteria, including Salmonella, Campylobacter and Listeria.

According to the data, Salmonella, Campylobacter and Listeria continue to infect numbers well beyond goals set by the U.S. government for 2010:

For every 100,000 people, 16.5 fell ill with Salmonella in 2011 and 17.5 the year before, despite a goal to reduce that number to 6.8 by then. Similarly, Campylobacter infected 14.3 in 2011 (surpassing the 12.3-person goal), and 0.28 were sickened by Listeria (just above the 2010 goal of 0.24). At the same time, however, E. coli O157 rates fell to 0.98, just below its goal of 1.0.

Food safety attorney Bill Marler, whose law firm Marler Clark underwrites Food Safety News, attributed the decline of E. coli O157 infections to the zero-tolerance policy adopted by the beef industry since the bacteria first made national headlines in the 1993 Jack-in-the-Box E. coli outbreak. For years, O157 has been considered an adulterant in ground beef, with producers widely screening their product to keep the bug out.

"If you look at the trend for O157, you can make a fairly coherent argument that listing that bug as an adulterant and having zero tolerance for it has driven its numbers down," Marler said. "I think that industry and the public would be well-served if Campylobacter and Salmonella -- especially antibiotic-resistant strains -- were considered adulterants and were no longer tolerated in the food supply."

And while O157's number have dropped by more than 250 percent since 1996, other toxin-producing E. coli strains have seen a dramatic rise in the last two years. In 2011, infection rates of these strains -- collectively referred to as 'non-O157 E. coli' -- rose above O157's for the first time.

As of June 4, 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture
now considers six of the most prevalent non-O157 E. coli strains adulterants, ranking them in line with O157. Health officials hope the new designation will help drive those infection rates back the opposite direction.

The CDC's annual data come from FoodNet, a network that coordinates data from public health laboratories across 10 states. The regions represented include 47 million people, 15 percent of the U.S. population.

Fuente: Food Safety News

Aporte: Eduardo Castillo

Peligro de Listeria monocytogenes en embutidos

La disminución de conservantes en embutidos aumenta el riesgo  de Listeria monocytogenes.

El uso de aditivos conservantes se emplea en diversos productos alimentarios, sobre todo en cárnicos curados o embutidos, para evitar los patógenos y mejorar así su calidad e inocuidad. Sin embargo, se busca diminuir la cantidad de sustancias químicas añadidas y reducir posibles riesgos tóxicos para el consumidor. Un grupo de expertos de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid alerta de que la disminución del uso de conservantes en los embutidos puede suponer un riesgo para la inocuidad microbiológica del alimento. Los expertos estudian la manera de valorar si esta reducción de conservantes, como los nitratos y los nitritos, supone algún riesgo para el consumidor (podrían proliferar patógenos) o si se modifica la calidad final de los embutidos. Los investigadores del Grupo de Tecnología de los Alimentos de Origen Animal de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid han demostrado que si en un embutido contaminado con la bacteria Listeria monocytogenes se reduce el contenido de nitratos y de nitritos, solo en una cuarta parte, la cantidad final de este patógeno en el embutido,  es 30 veces mayor  en el mismo alimento con las dosis de conservantes máximas permitidas. El estudio confirma, además, que la disminución de la concentración de nitratos y de nitritos puede modificar el perfil aromático de los embutidos, ya que cuantos más aditivos de este tipo se eliminan, más afecta al sabor y aroma de los embutidos. El principal peligro microbiológico que puede ocasionar la reducción de los conservantes en los embutidos es el desarrollo de Listeria monocytogenes
Los nitratos y nitritos son aditivos alimentarios con ciertos riesgos y ventajas en los alimentos. El principal riesgo es la toxicidad  y la cantidad que se añade en los embutidos debe ser muy precisa y mezclada con sal para evitar intoxicaciones. Otro posible peligro de estos aditivos es la formación de nitrosaminas, sustancia cancerígena para el organismo humano.
Con las medidas estipuladas por la normativa, como la restricción de su uso y el empleo de inhibidores de la formación de nitrosaminas, las autoridades de todos los países aceptan el uso de nitratos y nitritos como aditivos habituales. Sin embargo, debe figurar en las etiquetas de los alimentos, ya que hay cierto riesgo, de tal manera que es el consumidor final quien decide si lo consume o no. Se identifican en las etiquetas como E-252, E-251, E-250 y E-249.

Aporte: María Rene Rey

viernes, 27 de julio de 2012

UN Strengthens Food Safety Regulations

The UN food standards body has agreed on new regulations – including the maximum level of melamine in liquid milk formula for babies – to protect the health of consumers across the world. Other measures adopted include new food safety standards on seafood, melons, dried figs and food labeling.

Melamine: Melamine can be lethal at high concentrations and has been used illegally to increase apparent protein content in food products including infant formula and milk powder. Milk tainted with melamine has caused death and illness in infants. Two years ago, the Codex Commission adopted a maximum melamine level of 1 mg/kg for powdered infant formula and of 2.5 mg/kg for other foods and animal feed. The Commission has now set a maximum limit of 0.15 mg/kg for melamine in liquid infant milk. Melamine is used to make dishware and kitchenware, among other industrial applications. The new limit will help governments protect consumers by determining if detected levels of melamine result from unavoidable melamine contamination that does not cause health problems or from deliberate adulteration.
Dried figs and aflatoxins: Aflatoxins, a group of mycotoxins produced by molds, are toxic and are known to be carcinogenic. They can be found in a variety of products such as dried fruits, nuts, spices and cereals at high levels if the produce is not stored properly. The Commission now agreed a safe maximum limit of 10 mg/kg for dried figs, together with details on how test sampling should be conducted.
Melons: An emerging public health issue relates to the increased popularity of pre-cut melon slices. Exposed pulp of the fruit can become a breeding ground for bacteria. This has been linked to life-threatening salmonella and listeria outbreaks. The Commission recommended that pre-cut melons should be wrapped or packaged and refrigerated as soon as possible and distributed at temperatures of 4° C or less. Cooling and cold-storing was recommended as soon as possible after harvest, while knife blades used for cutting or peeling should be disinfected on a regular basis.
Seafood and viruses: Food hygiene in seafood, particularly for molluscs, such as mussels and oysters, have become a major food safety concern. The Commission adopted a set of preventive hygiene measures aimed to control food-borne viruses. Viruses are generally more resistant than bacteria and those transmitted by the faecal-oral route can persist for months in bivalve molluscs, soil, water and sediments. They can survive freezing, refrigeration, UV radiation and disinfection but are sensitive to heat. Common foodborne viral diseases are caused by hepatitis A virus and norovirus. The Commission noted that the main hazard for the production of molluscs, such as oysters and mussels, was the biological contamination of the waters in which they grow. It is therefore important to ensure the seawater quality of growing areas, the Commission noted. When there is a likelihood or evidence of viral contamination, closure of the area, destruction of contaminated molluscs and/or heat treatment before consumption of already harvested molluscs is recommended.

Mandatory nutrition labeling: Codex recommended that food manufacturers across the world label nutritional content on their products to ensure that consumers are better informed; the recommendation is in line with WHO’s Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health and is a major step forward in promoting healthy eating worldwide.

Aporte: Carla Uribe

Parrillada Segura

Un delicioso trozo de carne asada en un alimento potencialmente dañino para la salud.
Por lo general, las parrilladas y/ asados se realizan al aire libre y con gran cantidad de personas circulando alrededor de ella, estas características desde el punto de vista higiénico sanitario son muy riesgosas, sin olvidar que la cercanía de la carne con las brasas y llamas generan sustancias químicas indeseables. Debido a esto se deben tomar simples medidas que reducen al mínimo el riesgo de contaminación de la carne, tales como:

1)       Limpieza y mantenimiento: Ya que el uso de las parrillas no es continuo se debe evitar que tanto grasa como restos de carne queden en la superficie de la rejillas, ya que estas generan el ambiente propicio para la proliferación de microrganismos (bacterias y hongos especialmente). Inicialmente se debe eliminar toda presencia de resto alimenticio presente en las rejillas de la parrilla por medio del calentamiento del metal con las brasas seguido por una limpieza con trapo abrasivo y detergentes. Tras su uso se recomienda esparcir abundante sal gruesa sobre la superficie metálica y proceder a frotarla con papel lo cual facilita mucho la limpieza final que se realiza con los detergentes (comerciales o desengrasantes naturales como el vinagre) sobre un trapo duro.
Los utensilios deben estar totalmente limpios al momento de su uso y no deben ser usados para cortar carne cruda y cocida a la vez, ya que el riesgo de la contaminación cruzada es altísimo.

2)       Cadena de frío: Si la parrillada se realiza en el jardín de un hogar es de crucial importancia mantener la carne en todo momento en el refrigerador (bajo 5°C) hasta el momento que se deposita en la parrilla. A la vez, si és realizada en el campo se debe contar con una nevera portátil con freezepack ideales para el mantenimiento de la cadena de frio.

3)       Contaminación cruzada: Es la causa principal de infecciones/toxinfecciones alimentarias que en el caso de las parrilladas  se da por el uso de utensilios (cuchillos y tenedores) para cortar verduras, carne cruda y cocida a la vez sin la adecuada higiene que consiste básicamente en un buen lavado con detergente. Así también la mala higiene por parte del manipulador de las carnes provoca el desarrollo de patógenos tales como Stafilococcus Aureus o Escherichia Coli (contaminación fecal).

4)       Plagas: Es de vital importancia mantener alejado a los vectores pasivos de microrganismos patogenos tales como las moscas; una medida simple consiste en tapar con papel aluminio o papel film todos los alimentos que se van a consumir, ya sea los vegetales crudos como también la carne ya cocida.

5)       Sustancias químicas peligrosas: Al asar carne se generan dos tipos de sustancias químicas cancerígenas : Los hidrocarburos aromáticos policíclicos (causadas por la combustión de la grasa ) y las aminas heterocíclicas (formadas  en el interior de la carne por un excesivo y prolongado calentamiento). Por lo tanto es recomendable no consumir seguidamente este tipo de alimentos.
Aporte: Francisco Pérez

Hyper immune egg yolk antibodies control intestinal poultry diseases

Egg yolk may be the closest remedy for boosting the immune system of newly hatched chickens against Eimeria
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have developed a novel, antibiotic-free method that uses hyper immune egg yolk antibodies to control intestinal poultry diseases. The antibiotic-free technology involves extracting antibodies from egg yolks from pathogen-free hens or female chickens that have been injected with a vaccine that contains inactivated pathogenic organisms.

Scientists at the Agricultural Research Service Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) and collaborators from different universities and the Mexican company IASA (Investigacíon Aplicada, S.A.) demonstrated the effectiveness of inducing passive immunity in young birds, which have no immune protection right after hatching, against coccidiosis, a devastating poultry disease. Birds affected by coccidiosis are unable to absorb feed or gain weight. The disease costs the poultry industry more than $600 million in the United States and about $3 billion worldwide each year. Treatments used to reduce the spread of disease include good management practices and live vaccinations. However, antibiotic-free alternatives are important to help fight drug-resistant strains and for organic poultry farmers.

In the study, one-day-old chickens were given feed mixed with spray-dried egg yolk powder prepared from hens hyper immunized with multiple species of the parasite Eimeria, which causes coccidiosis. The chickens were then exposed to live coccidian parasites. Chickens that had received the hyper immune egg yolk antibodies gained more weight and shed significantly fewer Eimeria in their feces. The treated birds also had less gut lesions than chickens that did not receive the treatment.

Coccidiosis is associated with other pathogens, such as the one that causes necrotic enteritis—a prevalent gut disease of poultry," said avian immunologist Hyun Lillehoj, who works in BARC’s Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory. “By controlling one, you’re also reducing the impact of the other.

Aporte: Sebastián Pizarro Cortés - Ninoska Cordero

Electrostatic Spraying to Decontaminate Escherichia coli O157:H7 on Spinach and Iceberg Lettuce

Malic and lactic acids with or without grape seed extract can serve as effective antimicrobials

Electrostatic spraying using organic acids could offer the fresh produce industry more effective protection against E. coli than current sanitation methods, according to a new study published in the Journal of Food Science. Relatively simple and quick, the process can access most/all parts of produce surface and offer protection from food pathogens.

Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli) has been associated with several outbreaks in minimally processed foods. Spinach and lettuce pose higher food-safety risks and recurring food recalls suggest the insufficiency of current disinfection strategies.

Researchers at the University of Arkansas investigated whether using electrostatic spraying to evenly distribute natural antimicrobials could be a more efficient and effective solution. Spinach and lettuce samples were sprayed electrostatically with the organic acids malic, tartaric and lactic acid and grape seed extract alone and in combinations, and for comparison, with phosphoric acid and pH controls with deionized water. During a 14-day storage period, malic acid/lactic acid and malic acid/lactic acid/grape seed extract combinations had the greatest decontaminating effect; while inorganic treatments showed promising effects, these were lower in comparison and compromised the color of the produce.

The researchers concluded the use of malic and lactic acids with or without grape seed extract can serve as effective antimicrobials when sprayed electrostatically, lowering the risk from post-contamination issues with spinach and iceberg lettuce. The application technology can be extended to improve the commercial food safety of other produce, fruits, poultry and meat.

Aporte: Sebastián Pizarro Cortés

jueves, 26 de julio de 2012

European E. coli Outbreak Sheds New Light on Treatment Strategies

Antibiotic drugs are harmful, not beneficial, to HUS patients.

It is an accepted fact among medical experts that an E. coli infection should not be treated with antibiotics, as these drugs may worsen illness. But a new review of strategies used to treat victims of last year's European enterohemorrhagic E. coli outbreak shows that a combination of two or more antibiotics may have helped patients recover from hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) - a potentially fatal complication of E. coli infection.
The 2011 outbreak, centered in Northern Germany, was characterized by an unusually high number of HUS cases. Out of more than 4,000 people sickened by the E. coli O104:H4 bacteria, 22 percent developed this life-threatening condition. By contrast, E. coli O157:H7, the most common Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) in the United States progresses into HUS in 5 to 10 percent of patients.

Antibiotics are thought to increase a patient's chance of developing HUS by increasing bacterial death and triggering the release of more Shiga toxins. But a study published this recently in BMJ suggests that some antibiotics may actually help treat the kidney disease.
Scientists reviewed 298 cases of HUS treated at 23 hospitals in Northern Germany during the 2011 outbreak, finding that patients treated with at least two antibiotics were less likely to experience seizures, did not require intestinal surgery and exhibited no signs of toxic shock. The death rate among these individuals was lower than among other patients.

The two antibiotics used most commonly were meropenem and ciprofloxacin. Rifaximin was given to patients in the intensive care unit. All of these drugs were administered at only one hospital included in the study. Other treatment centers did not use antibiotics.

Researchers also found that stool samples from these patients tested negative for the bacteria an average of 8 days before those of other patients.
These findings are similar to those of a previous study which found that the antibiotic azithromycin also shortened the time that individuals shed E. coli O104:H4 after infection.

Research on the effect of antibiotics on individuals with E. coli O157:H7 infections, on the other hand, have overwhelmingly suggested that these drugs are harmful, not beneficial, to HUS patients. A study from the Washington University Medical Center in St. Louis published in March found that children who were administered antibiotics while infected with E. coli O157:H7 were more likely to develop HUS.
Aporte: Dalia Clarisa Echeverry Moreno

lunes, 23 de julio de 2012

Advanced instrument for food microbiology

Food safety innovation
The U.S. centers for disease control and prevention has estimated that approximately 48 million people become sick with foodborne illnesses each year, that’s why more regulations and microbiological testing have been enforced. In the past, Drs. Jim Gilchrist and Jeptha Campbell in 1976 have developed the spiral plating method and FDA established as an accurate method to enumerate bacterial samples in food microbiology.
Advanced Instruments Inc. based in Norwood, MA, has facilitated vast improvements in the field of spiral plating. The Autoplate is the latest in microprocessor controller spiral plating technology and uses an AOAC approved method to directly plated microbial suspensions with concentrations ranging from 40 to 1,000,000 CFU/ml on 10 cm plates without the need for serial dilution. This automated method’s unique features result in greater sample repeatability and significant savings in time, labor and disposable materials over conventional plating methods.
In the food industry, ongoing research continues to determine the prevalence of pathogens, improve detection rates and develop methods to raise the quality of the food supply in both raw and processed food items and their ingredients. The autoplate is also ideal for those interested in utilizing selective or differential agars since it can make up to 10 different plates using only one aspiration of sample.
Spiral plating has been an important tool for microbiologists in the food safety field. The method provides accurate and precise enumeration, which then heps identify pathogens that can be found in food. Using the autoplate minimizes labor yet still meets the laboratory criteria of accuracy, efficiency and sterility of samples. The time saved on sample preparation and plating can help with the identification of new pathogens and improvements in food quality control. The system will help with the speedy recognition of bacterial outbreaks.

Aporte: Ninoska Cordero:

Microbe-made fragrances available for different consumers

Rather than rely on plant-derived products, biotech companies are engineering bacteria and yeast to produce ingredients for fragrances.

The flavor and fragrance industry experienced a shortage of patchouli oil in 2010 when soggy weather gave Indonesian growers a poor harvest of Pogostemon cablin, a perennial shrub in the mint family that is the source of the fragrant oil. That disappointment was followed by volcanic eruptions in the islands, which spawned earthquakes and a tsunami, further disrupting supply.

The patchouli market has since recovered. “Prices have come down over the last couple of months. It is a good moment to buy now before the demand starts to pick up,” advises Eramex Aromatics, a German supplier of flavor and fragrance raw materials, in its March 2012 market report.
A number of biotech companies are looking to supplement plant-derived fragrances by engineering bacteria and yeast to produce commercial scents, potentially changing how the industry sources its products.

Plant sources can be unreliable: they are often susceptible to the whims of corrupt governments that can make it difficult to acquire the plants or to natural disasters that lead to supply shortages. Although the ability to produce scents in large quantities is still in development, a number of biotech companies including Allylix, Isobionics, and Evolva, are hoping to create plant-derived scents using engineered microbes.

So far, the only microbe-made fragrances available are the citrus molecules that smell like Valencia oranges and grapefruit peel, as well as vanilla. But companies plan to focus on more rare and difficult-to-acquire smells next. “If you have a rare compound that you can only isolate from a particular orchid that grows in the swamps of Florida, then only a handful of people in the world can have access to that,” Kalib Kersh, an analyst at consulting firm Lux Research, told Chemical & Engineering News. If such a fragrance could be engineered in the lab, it could be produced at much larger quantities without harvesting the rare plant. (Hat tip to Wired Science.)

Q&A With Al Almanza: FSIS Redesigns Data System for Public Health

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service Administrator Al Almanza launched Public Health Information System, which centralizes plant inspection data and makes it accessible in real time.  
Q: How is the Public Health Information System (PHIS) an advance over the old system?
A: This is one of the most important things we've done for our field inspectors. We're able to provide inspectors the tools to perform their daily tasks and give them the ability access the information that they are putting into the system in real time. They are able to act on that information in real time - that's what public health and food safety is all about, it's about being proactive rather than reactive.
I still have a lot of friends who are inspectors and they are excited about this because they no longer have to rely on their front line supervisors or their district office for data mining. They're able to access the plant data in real time. They can look at what's occurring in an establishment when they rotate in or when they substitute for someone in an establishment. This was a rather difficult thing to do with our former system, PBIS [Performance Based Inspection System].
Q: Can you give an example of a task that would be easier under PHIS?
A: You could pick any task. If an inspector is covering three or four plants, they rotate every quarter. Previously, the incoming inspector had no data to be able to tell how the plant was performing, other than noncompliance reports. Under PHIS, because the system is built by the establishment, inspectors can see how the plant is performing. For example, under PBIS the only information that was recorded in the tasks schedule was NR (noncompliance reports). Under PHIS, it's whatever the inspector observes. It's much more inclusive of what the establishment is doing.
Q: Now that it's up and running, what are you learning? Is there anything that has been surprising or challenging? I have heard in some areas inspectors have had trouble connecting to the system.
A: We're learning a lot. It was such a huge, huge undertaking. One of the things that has happened is that our sampling rate has gone up from what it was under PBIS. I think that's a positive thing.
I've asked my team to develop the disconnected state and address the issues so that, in areas where there are problems with connectivity, inspection personnel can document their findings while disconnected from the internet. [Part of the problem is lack of wireless internet service in certain rural areas.]
Source: USDA, PHIS

Genome Sequencing of 100,000 Foodborne Pathogens Underway

New database will speed up outbreak investigations

Over the past three years, scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have conducted whole genome sequencing on over hundreds of foodborne pathogens to get a detailed map of their DNA. Now, with the help of university researchers and a private company, they're expanding that figure to 100,000.
The initiative, aptly titled "The 100K Genome Project," is a private-public collaboration between FDA, the University of California Davis and Agilent, a testing technology company.
By developing this new database, FDA hopes to help health officials cut down on the time it takes to identify the source of an outbreak. 
Right now, investigators are able to identify clusters of illnesses by uploading pathogens isolated from different individuals to the government-maintained PulseNet database. But the information in PulseNet can only tell which cases are related. It does not provide the genetic details needed to figure out what food the bug is coming from.   
For that, investigators must question victims to see whether they ate a common food in the days preceding their illnesses.  
"Humans tend to move around a lot and they don't have a good memory of what they ate, so getting good information from humans is really hard," explains Steven Musser, Director of the Office of Regulatory Science at FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
Musser, who is working on the genome sequencing project, says this new database will supplement PulseNet by providing high-resolution data, such as where an organism was found, whether it is resistant to any antibiotics and perhaps even the food on which it was found. 
"In terms of resolution it would be sort of like looking at the stars with the Hubble space telescope versus looking at them with binoculars," he explained in an interview with Food Safety News
This new database will be comprised mostly of genetic information on pathogens isolated from food, he says, so if a human isolate is uploaded and matches a pathogen already in the database, investigators will know what region, or even business, the matching food sample came from.
FDA has evidence that this system will work. Of the 500 strains it has already sequenced - which will constitute the foundation of the new database - one was a strain of Salmonella Bareilly isolated from India that turned out to be the very same strain that caused an outbreak linked to raw tuna product this spring. The plant that processed the tuna implicated in that outbreak was only six miles from where the sample analyzed by FDA was found. 
While this connection was made after the outbreak had ended, Musser says that in the future, with a working database already in place, these links could be made while outbreaks are still ongoing, and could help officials identify contaminated food sooner. 
The project is expected to increase the number of foodborne pathogens currently sequenced by 100 times said an FDA spokesperson.
UC Davis, whose labs will conduct the sequencing, has the capacity to sequence 1,000 pathogens per week, says Musser.
 "This important project will harness the cutting-edge technology of genome sequencing to advance our understanding of and response to foodborne outbreaks," said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. in a statement Thursday. 

Aporte: María José Peralta S.

El etiquetado de los alimentos debe aclarar la diferencia entre caducidad y consumo preferente

UNION EUROPEA: Se establece nuevo Reglamento comunitario de Información Alimentaria al Consumidor.

El nuevo etiquetado de los productos, que será común para todos los países de la Unión Europea a partir de diciembre de 2014, deberá diferenciar claramente entre fecha de caducidad (a partir de la cual el alimento deja de ser seguro para la salud del consumidor) y consumo preferente.

Así se establece en el Reglamento comunitario de Información Alimentario al Consumidor, que entró en vigor en diciembre de 2011, pero que contempla un periodo de transición de tres años para el etiquetado general y de cinco años para el que contiene información nutricional.
Esta normativa, que unifica toda la legislación existente sobre la materia, tiene como objetivo garantizar el derecho de los consumidores a una información completa y veraz en relación con los alimentos que compran y consumen, a la vez que ésta sea más simple y legible.
El reglamento pone fin al debate sobre fecha de caducidad y consumo preferente y se eliminan todas las excepciones que existían, según ha explicado Carlos Arnaiz, del Instituto Nacional de Consumo, durante una rueda de prensa para dar a conocer esta norma.
El consumidor debe saber que sobrepasar la fecha de caducidad supone un riesgo para su salud mientras que el consumo preferente indica el momento en el que el producto pierde sus características (una galleta puede estar más dura o más blanda) pero su ingestión sigue siendo segura.
Otras de las novedades del reglamento son el etiquetado nutricional y la obligación de indicar los alérgenos y el alto contenido de cafeína, según ha explicado Almudena Rollán, de la Agencia Española de Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición (AESAN).
Las sustancias que causan alergias e intolerancias deben indicarse mediante una tipografía que las diferencie claramente del resto de ingredientes, aunque el reglamento no especifica cómo.
A este respecto, Montserrat Prieto, de la Federación de Industrias de Alimentación y Bebidas, ha explicado que aunque aún no hay una decisión, es posible que finalmente los alérgenos se resalten en negrita.
Los alimentos sin envasar también deben informar sobre la presencia de este tipo de sustancias, aunque no se dice de qué forma se hará.
Otra novedad es que los productos deberán especificar si tienen un alto contenido de cafeína e informar en ese caso de que no están recomendados para niños ni mujeres embarazadas o en periodo de lactancia.
En cuanto a la información sobre las grasas trans, uno de los aspectos más polémicos durante la tramitación, queda sujeto a un informe que determinará en qué grado están presentes en la dieta europea.
La representante de la AESAN ha dejado claro que el etiquetado nutricional por sí solo no basta para que el consumidor lleve a cabo una dieta saludable.
El reglamento obliga a todos los operadores de empresas alimentarias y a todas las fases de la cadena alimentaria, desde que se inicia el proceso hasta que llega al consumidor.
La letra de las etiquetas deberá tener un tamaño mínimo obligatorio (1,2 mm) y deberá ser claramente legible.
Deberán indicar la denominación del producto, lista de ingredientes, fecha de caducidad o consumo preferente, fecha de congelación, condiciones específicas de conservación, modo de empleo si fuera necesario, país de origen o lugar de procedencia, grado alcohólico e información nutricional.

Cuando el valor energético o la cantidad de nutrientes en un productos sea mínimo se indicará una declaración del tipo “contiene cantidades insignificantes de…”.
El reglamento obliga también a que el etiquetado esté escrito en al menos una lengua oficial de la UE  comprensible por el ciudadano del país en el que se distribuye el producto.

Aunque el 85 % de las etiquetas de la UE ya contienen información nutricional, Prieto ha resaltado la importancia de que a partir de 2016 sea obligatorio.

Aporte: María José Peralta S.

miércoles, 18 de julio de 2012

Medidor de Partículas del Instituto de Salud Pública permitirá evaluar calidad de aire en áreas biolimpias en las que se desempeña personal sanitario

Profesionales del Departamento de Salud Ocupacional del ISP, se capacitaron con experto argentino, Ingeniero Mario Bichman, en la utilización del equipo contador de partículas no viables para la evaluación de áreas

Profesionales del Departamento de Salud Ocupacional del ISP, se capacitaron con experto argentino, Ingeniero Mario Bichman, en la utilización del equipo contador de partículas no viables para la evaluación de áreas tales como: salas de preparación de medicamentos inyectables (oncológicos), cabinas de bioseguridad y sectores de alta complejidad de los hospitales del país.
Esta moderna tecnología de origen estadounidense, recientemente adquirida por el Instituto de Salud Pública a través del Departamento de Salud Ocupacional, es la primera unidad en el país (sólo existen dos en Brasil y una en Argentina), permitirá medir la calidad de los ambientes en áreas que, por su especificidad, deben ser altamente inocuas, tales como salas de producción de preparados inyectables, áreas hospitalarias en donde se encuentran pacientes de alto riesgo y cabinas de bioseguridad entre otras.  Todos espacios que comparten la característica de ser ambientes libres de contaminación.

Según Miguel Camus, Jefe de la Sección de Tecnologías en el Trabajo del Departamento de Salud Ocupacional del ISP, este equipamiento permitirá conocer con mayor detalle la calidad del aire de los ambientes de trabajo a través de la cuantificación de las partículas no viables existentes en éste, es decir, aquellas que podrían trasportan ciertos tipos de microorganismos que influyen en la exposición laboral del personal sanitario que trabaja en estas áreas.
Con  la adquisición de esta tecnología se logrará una mayor especificidad en la evaluación y los análisis, que en este ámbito,  siempre ha realizado el Instituto de Salud Pública de Chile.

Aporte: Fernanda Espinoza

Update on E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak in Germantown

68 ill – 14 hospitalized – three in serious condition

As a result of eating food at a picnic at Neff’s Lawn Care in Germantown, at least 68 individuals have become ill. Of those, 14 have been hospitalized.
Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County is continuing an investigation into the cause of the foodborne outbreak. Estimates are that as many as 300 people may have attended an annual customer appreciation picnic held by Neff’s Lawn Care, 9400 Ekhart Road, on July 3.

Of the ill, 16 have been confirmed as being infected by E. coli O157. Three individuals are experiencing hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a disease that destroys red blood cells, and can cause sudden, short-term-acute-kidney failure. Those affected include a 4-year old female, a 14-year old male, and a 73-year old male. All three are in serious medical condition.
One secondary case of E. coli O157 was reported on July 16. This infection was likely passed from an older sister to a younger sister. This case emphasizes the importance of hand washing to prevent the spread of the organism within the family unit.

Symptoms experienced by those who became ill include stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea. If someone attended the picnic and later became ill, they should call 937-225-4460 and report their illness.

Public Health is continuing to gather information through interviews with those who became ill and those who prepared the food. Investigators are also looking at food sources, food handling and storage practices, food temperature controls, and the potential of cross contamination of the involved food.

martes, 17 de julio de 2012

Seremi confirma la presencia de cola de ratón en hamburguesa de local de comida rápida en Temuco

Se estima que el local abrirá sus puertas en las proximas 24 horas

La autoridad señaló que se maneja la posibilidad de que una tercera persona haya dejado el elemento en el producto final.

El Departamento de Acción Sanitaria dependiente de la Seremi de Salud de Temuco, confirmó la presencia de una cola de ratón al interior de una hamburguesa del restaurant de comida rápida McDonald's, en el centro comercial Portal Temuco.
Por este motivo, las autoridades prohibieron el funcionamiento del local mientras se realiza el sumario sanitario, aunque sus empleados y dependientes sí pueden ingresar para hacer las mantenciones.
El jefe del servicio del Seremi, Waldo Armstrong, confirmó que "ese elemento era una cola de ratón y no era parte de la hamburguesa, por lo tanto, lo más probable es que haya sido puesta o de alguna forma haya entrado al pan".
De esta forma, se sospecha que el elemento haya llegado al producto final por la acción de un tercero, sospechando que se trate de algún trabajador, en cuanto "había restos de adherencia, estaba entre el queso y el pan, y la cola tenía proceso térmico a la que fue sometida". Por esto "claramente existe intencionalidad y se descarta un montaje por parte del denunciante", señaló Armstrong.

Aporte: Sebastián Pizarro Cortés

Mad cow disease spreads in nervous system before detection

A new study in the American Journal of Pathology has shown that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as “mad cow” disease”, spreads in the autonomic nervous system (ANS) to the central nervous system (CNS) before it can be detected. 

Mad cow is a fatal disease in cattle that can be transmitted to humans who eat infected tissue. There isn’t much that scientists know about the spread of the BSE prion in its early incubation period. Other studies have reported that the autonomic nervous system was affected only after the central nervous system is infected.
The autonomic nervous system controls involuntary actions, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and the functions of major organs. It consists of the sympathetic ANS, the parasymphathetic ANS, and the enteric nervous system. The central nervous system is the part that controls your brain and makes up your consciousness; it consists of the brain and spinal cord. It usually takes five years from infection before the disease can be detected. But in the study, 56 calves were infected orally with BSE; samples were collected every four months for the next three and a half years. Scientists found the pathological prion (a misfolded protein that is not alive) in the gut and in the ANS but not in the CNS.
Infection was found in the spinal cord of one animal only 16 months after infection. Dr. Martin H. Groschup, one of the study’s authors, said, “the clear involvement of the sympathetic nervous system illustrates that it plays an important role in the pathogenesis of BSE in cattle. Nevertheless, our results also support earlier research that postulated an early parasympathetic route for BSE.”
The study’s authors believe that there are three routes for the BSE prion to get to the brain: sympathetic, parasympathetic, and spinal cord, in order of importance. Knowing how the prion gets to the brain does have food safety implications.
Aporte: Jessica Moya Tillería, María Rene y Marcelo Canto

Alimentos con modificaciones genéticas aportarían dudoso poder beneficioso

Se muestra la visión de científicos que no aceptan el uso de alimentos genéticamente modificados
En el debate sobre los alimentos genéticamente modificados, a menudo parece que uno de los lados se caracteriza como pro-ciencia (los defensores de los OGM), mientras que el otro lado se presenta como temeroso de la tecnología beneficiosa que podría ayudar a la humanidad. Sin embargo, la línea no es tan clara, como sugiere un nuevo informe de Earth Open Source, titulado "Mitos y Verdades de los OGM" escrito por ingenieros genéticos.
Según los investigadores, uno de los problemas es que la ingeniería genética es imprecisa y los resultados son impredecibles, y las mutaciones cambian el contenido nutricional de los alimentos, el rendimiento de los cultivos, y efectos tóxicos, entre otros. Cada generación de cultivos transgénicos interactúa con más organismos, lo que genera más probabilidad de efectos secundarios no deseados.

La tecnología de OGM es cada vez más precisa, pero los investigadores afirman que siempre ocurrirán accidentes, y en todo caso, los biotecnólogos de plantas en realidad no saben mucho acerca de los genomas de los cultivos - así que la inserción de genes en un área supuestamente segura podría todavía conducir a todo tipo de efectos desconocidos.

Los cultivos transgénicos podrían ser tóxicos de tres formas: por causa del gen modificado genéticamente en sí mismo (toxina Bt en cultivos insecticidas); por efectos mutagénicos directo en reguladores de genes creados por el proceso de transformación de los OGM, y por la eventual aparición de residuos tóxicos creados por las prácticas agrícolas (como desde el herbicida Roundup utilizado en los cultivos OGM).

La regulación de los alimentos transgénicos es muy variable según el país. En los EE.UU., la FDA no requiere un proceso de evaluación de seguridad alimentaria para los alimentos OGM - sólo un programa voluntario de revisión de los alimentos transgénicos antes de que entren en el mercado.

El presente informe de ninguna manera termina el debate sobre los cultivos transgénicos - todavía hay mucho que decir acerca de la utilidad potencial de los cultivos, especialmente en los países en desarrollo que podrían utilizar versiones más fuertes y resistentes de los cultivos básicos.

Aporte: Marcela Blanco

miércoles, 11 de julio de 2012

Cartón reciclado para alimentos y contaminantes

Expertos de la EFSA hallan compuestos tóxicos en alimentos almacenados en envases de cartón reciclado

Reciclar cartón supone una gran ventaja para el medio ambiente y para ahorrar recursos, pero su uso como envase para alimentos puede conllevar ciertos riesgos. Expertos de la Autoridad Europea de Seguridad Alimentaria (EFSA) han hallado en alimentos conservados en envases de cartón reciclado sustancias químicas tóxicas procedentes del reciclado de los periódicos, en concreto de la tinta. Durante el proceso de reciclado, se obtiene una pasta que contiene los elementos químicos tóxicos que pasan a los alimentos. La detección de alimentos con unos niveles altos de aceites minerales (compuestos tóxicos) procedentes de estos envases obliga a tomar medidas legislativas más severas que validen el material para envasar alimentos. Mientras, se proponen soluciones para reducir los riesgos.

La EFSA ha llevado a cabo una investigación profunda del problema para determinar la ingesta diaria admisible de hidrocarburos de aceites minerales presentes en los envases. Hasta la fecha, el límite admisible era de 0,6 mg por kg de cartón. Además, la investigación pretende evaluar de manera más eficaz los distintos elementos químicos presentes y los riesgos asociados que conllevan para la salud del consumidor. Las primeras hipótesis apuntan a una posible nueva normativa comunitaria que regule el uso de cartón reciclado en contacto con los alimentos, una vez que la Comisión Europea haga las pertinentes evaluaciones.

Envases contaminantes
Por el momento, la EFSA solo ha confirmado que los envases de cartón reciclado sin recubrimiento que aíslen los alimentos podrían suponer un riesgo por contener aceites minerales, ya que los alimentos absorben de manera muy rápida los elementos químicos. Estos tóxicos pueden provocar riesgo de cáncer o inflamación de los órganos internos. Los resultados analíticos llevados a cabo detectaron compuestos tóxicos de diferente tamaño y estructura, en función del lote de envase analizado. Los alimentos aromáticos quedaron excluidos del estudio, así como los elementos saturados según la escala que determina la dureza de los minerales.

Sustancias tóxicas y necesidades normativas
Este estudio se ha llevado a cabo gracias a unos datos procedentes del laboratorio de seguridad alimentaria de Kanton Zürich, en Suiza. Los investigadores, de Suiza y Alemania, han demostrado que los elementos tóxicos que contiene el cartón de los envases se transmiten a los alimentos mediante el proceso de lixiviación.
Los alimentos actúan como disolventes con algunos de los químicos integrados en el envase, lo que provoca que los tóxicos penetren en ellos. Los principales elementos tóxicos provienen del papel y del cartón reciclado y, según los últimos datos, más de la mitad del cartón fabricado en Europa se compone de material reciclado, de ahí que la contaminación con aceites minerales sea elevada.
Podría paliarse el problema si se utilizara pulpa virgen para la elaboración del cartón, pero por motivos económicos y por respeto ambiental, las empresas descartan esta opción. Los elementos químicos presentes en el cartón reciclado son muy diversos y provienen de fuentes muy distintas: la tinta de impresión, aditivos de fabricación de plásticos, lubricantes que se utilizan para revestimientos de envases, etc. Algunas industrias han apoyado la causa y anuncian que no emplearán envases de cartón reciclado para los alimentos. Sin embargo, dada la buena elección de estas industrias, hace falta una nueva legislación al respecto.

Aporte: María José Peralta S.

lunes, 9 de julio de 2012

Se rechaza ingreso a China de agua mineral Evian

Se detectan altos niveles de nitratos lo que indica contaminación,  por desechos humanos o animales.

El agua mineral de marca Evian Danone falló otra inspección de entrada en China, debido a altos niveles de nitrito, de acuerdo a reportes de medios locales. El documento nacional del diario Shanghai Daily informó que la Administración General de Calidad, Supervisión, Inspección y Cuarentena del país probó un lote de Evian enviado desde Francia por un importador con sede en Beijing. Sin embargo, según el diario, los inspectores de calidad decidieron clasificar el agua entre los 209 alimentos importados y productos cosméticos deficientes.
En consecuencia, no se permitió la entrada al mercado chino de ninguna agua, y junto con otros productos fue enviado de vuelta, destruyéndolos o desviándolos a otros usos, dijo la fuente.
El último incidente sigue un rechazo similar en noviembre – cuando a un lote de Evian se le negó la entrada por motivos similares – y la destrucción de 80 toneladas de agua mineral en enero por una autoridad local. Otro incidente se remonta a 2007.

En 2006 la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS) determinó la cantidad de ingesta diaria admisible (IDA) de nitratos y nitritos para los adultos de 0-5 y 0.4 mg/ kg de peso corporal, respectivamente.

En un estudio de 2011 sobre los niveles de nitrato y nitrito de agua manantial natural y mineral en empaques Turcos – encontró que las muestras eran consistentes con las normas internacionales. 

Riesgo de contaminación
Los nitratos se presentan de forma natural en el agua, según el estudio, pero los niveles más altos indican la contaminación, ya sea por desechos humanos o animales, fertilizantes, tanques sépticos o alcantarillado.

Aunque no es un tóxico directo en sí, el nitrato estaba vinculado a una serie de problemas de salud humana en la conversión a nitrito, explicaron los investigadores, donde éstos últimos pueden formar compuestos N-nitrosos que son “probablemente cancerígenos” en los seres humanos.

El exceso de ingesta de nitratos puede causar “síndrome del bebe azul”  donde los niños han reducido la capacidad de tomar oxígeno, según los investigadores, mientras que podrían sufrir toxicidad aguda por nitrito  si son alimentados con fórmula preparadas con  agua con >10 ppm de nitratos (Self y Qwaskom 1998).

Otros de los grupos de riesgo de exceso de nitratos en el agua potable son las mujeres embarazadas, personas con reducción de la acidez gástrica y las personas con deficiencias genéticas relacionadas con las enzimas específicas, añadió Atasoy et al.

Aporte: Maria Rene Rey.