miércoles, 28 de enero de 2015

EFSA and ECDC campylobacteriosis cases stable, listeriosis cases continue to rise.

Listeria in humans and animals is a major problem although they are present in low numbers.
The stabilization of campylobacteriosis cases and the continuing downward trend of salmonellosis is good news, but we should not lower our guard as reporting of other diseases such as listeriosis and VTEC infections is going up,” says Marta Hugas, Head of Department of EFSA’s Risk Assessment and Scientific Assistance Department, who stresses the importance of monitoring foodborne illnesses in Europe.
Campylobacteriosis stabilized: Last year report showed that human campylobacteriosis decreased slightly for the first time in five years. The 2013 figures have stabilized to the levels reported in 2012. Nevertheless, with 214,779 cases, campylobacteriosis remains the most commonly reported foodborne disease in the EU, especially in chicken meat.
Listeriosis and VTEC infections on the rise: Listeriosis cases increased by 8.6 percent between 2012 and 2013 and have been increasing over the past five years. Although the number of confirmed cases is relatively low at 1,763, these are of particular concern as the reported Listeria infections are mostly severe, invasive forms of the disease with higher death rates than for the other foodborne diseases.  The rise of reported invasive listeriosis cases is of great concern in ready-to-eat food and it may lead to death, particularly among the increasing population of elderly people and patients with weakened immunity in Europe. Despite the rise of listeriosis cases reported in humans, Listeria monocytogenes, the bacterium that causes listeriosis in humans and animals are present in low numbers, usually above the legal safety limits in ready-to-eat foods.

Verotoxigenic E. coli: Reported cases of verotoxin-producing E. coli (VTEC) infection rose by 5.9 percent – possibly an effect of increased awareness in Member States following the outbreak in 2011, which translated into better testing and reporting. This trend is not present for VTEC from food and animals.

Salmonellosis and Yersiniosis on the decline:  Salmonellosis cases fell for the eighth year in a row, with 82,694 cases –a 7.9 percent decrease in the notification rate compared with 2012. The report attributes the decrease to Salmonella control programs in poultry and notes that most Member States met their reduction goals for prevalence in poultry for 2013. In fresh poultry meat, compliance with EU Salmonella criteria increased – a signal that Member States’ investments in control measures are working. 
Yersiniosis, the third most commonly reported zoonotic disease in the EU with 6,471 cases, has been decreasing over the past five years and declined by 2.8 percent compared with 2012.
The EFSA-ECDC report covers 16 zoonosis and foodborne outbreaks.

viernes, 23 de enero de 2015

Increasing Food-Safety Education in Schools Could Reduce Foodborne Illness in Kids

Consumer Food Safety Education Conference reveal that there is a nationwide lack of food-safety education in schools.
Each year, an estimated 48 million Americans contract a foodborne illness, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Vulnerable populations, including children, seniors, pregnant and postpartum women, and those with compromised immune systems, are at greater risk for foodborne illness.
Because these populations constitute more than half of the American population, educating them about the risks is important. Many foodborne pathogens have a disproportionate impact on children younger than five do. The incidence of most foodborne pathogens is highest for this demographic. Some die from these preventable illnesses, and many others suffer lasting health problems such as reactive arthritis, the need for kidney transplants, and seizures.
Children face higher risks when exposed to pathogens because their immune systems are less developed and less able to fight infections, because they have lower body weights, it takes less of a pathogen to cause an illness.
Interventions to reduce the high incidence rate of infections in children should be a national priority. Consequently, food-safety education in schools and community would be an important tool to achieve Healthy People 2020 objectives.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducts the School Health Policies and Practices study every six years. The most recent study done in 2012 showed that only half of school districts require teaching about foodborne illness prevention in elementary schools. Just less than 60 percent require the education in middle schools and 64 percent require it in high schools.
The National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences endorses the teaching of food-safety concepts and safe food-handling practices to children of all ages in schools, but there have been decreases in Family and Consumer Sciences courses for middle- and high-school students in recent years.
In 2014, CFI conducted a food-safety survey of educators, they found that half of respondents did not realize foodborne illnesses are infectious diseases that many do not regularly use thermometers, and that only half said they teach food safety multiple times over the course of the year.
Drawing the public’s attention to the long-term impacts of foodborne illness and the fact that it such disease spread from person to person would make them. Apart from integrating food safety into the curriculum across math, science, technology, language arts and social studies classes, schools can highlight food safety in parent-teacher conferences, weekly newsletters, or teacher blogs. Schools can also insist on hand washing and hand sanitizer use, display posters on food safety, and encourage science projects or school-TV segments about food safety.

Source: Food Safety News

jueves, 22 de enero de 2015

FSIS releases new Salmonella, Campylobacter performance standards for poultry

The changes included the poultry products that are much more common

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that its new pathogen performance standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter in ground poultry and chicken parts will prevent about 50,000 illnesses each year.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) proposed changes to the Salmonella and Campylobacter Verification Testing Program create brand-new standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter in chicken breasts, legs and wings, and for Campylobacter in ground chicken and turkey.
The agency is also updating the existing standards for Salmonella in ground chicken and turkey to make them harder to meet.

The changes included the poultry products that are much more common than whole birds in consumer kitchens. The agency implemented performance standards for whole chickens in 1996 but has since learned that Salmonella levels increase as chicken is further processed into parts. Microbiological performance standards set a limit on the number of product samples that test positive for a pathogen. FSIS uses them to assess the food safety performance of facilities, and making standards tougher means less-contaminated poultry will enter the food supply.

The new Salmonella standards will require contamination rates of no more than 25 percent in ground turkey, 13.5 percent in ground turkey, and 15.4 percent in chicken parts. For comparison, the old Salmonella standards allowed for 44.6 percent contamination for ground chicken and 49.9 percent for ground turkey.

The new Campylobacter standards will require contamination rates of no more than 1.9 percent in ground chicken and turkey and 7.7 percent in chicken parts.

Of the Salmonellosis cases associated with FSIS-regulated products, poultry represents about 58 percent of the cases, with 85 percent being associated with chicken and 15 percent being associated with turkey. Of the illnesses from consuming chicken, FSIS estimates that 81 percent were associated with parts, 13 percent were associated with whole carcasses, and 6 percent were associated with ground product.

martes, 20 de enero de 2015

A nanoscale surface that bacteria can not stick to holds promise for the food processing industry

Anodized metal could also have marine applications, such as keeping ship hulls free of algae.
The technology, created by researchers from Cornell University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, uses an electrochemical process called anodization to create nanoscale pores that change the electrical charge and surface energy of a metal surface.
This exerts a repulsive force on bacterial cells and prevents attachment and biofilm formation. Surface criteria interaction calculated with the extended Derjaguin Landau Verwey­Overbeek (XDLVO) theory indicated less attachment and biofilm formation is due to a synergy between electrostatic repulsion and surface effective free energy, said the researchers.
Applying the process: When the anodization process was applied to aluminum, it created a nanoporous surface called alumina, which prevented E.coli ATCC 25922 and Listeria innocua from attaching. The team told they are hoping to find industrial partners to test and validate the technology in actual processing settings.
Carmen Moraru, associate professor of food science at Cornell University, said the principle could be applied to a variety of surfaces, including walls, floors and conveyor belts. The surfaces will have an electrical charge that enables them to electrostatically repel bacteria, but there is no actual electricity going through them. Most surfaces (natural or synthetic) do have electrostatic charges.
Anodized metals could be used to prevent build­ups of biofilms, which are hard to remove pathogens that get stuck on machinery and other surfaces in food manufacturing plants.
They form a tough surface skin that resist conventional commercial washing and sanitizing methods, resulting in lowered shelf life of products and potential consumer illness.
Forming of nanoscale pores: Anodization is an electrochemical process, in which the aluminum part is immersed in an acidic bath together with an electrode,” said Borca­Tasciuc, who was the anodization expert of the team.
When current is applied between the part and the electrode, oxygen ions from the solution start reacting with the aluminum surface, forming an oxide layer. The diameter and depth of these pores depend on anodization conditions, such as chemical composition of the bath or applied voltage.
Anodized metal could also have marine applications, such as keeping ship hulls free of algae.
Future work will investigate the repulsive effect of these surfaces on other bacteria, and the use of other anodized materials for this purpose.

lunes, 19 de enero de 2015

Apples was the source of a Listeria outbreak that has sickened at least 32 people and has links to three deaths.

Strains collected from apples were similar to those isolated from patients.
The traceback investigation confirmed the apple supplier, based in Bakersfield, California, is the only one that supplied apples to the Happy Apple Company and Merb’s Candies, said the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The companies, along with California Snack Foods, of El Monte, California, have issued voluntary recalls of caramel apples.
Listeria isolated from environmental samples: FDA laboratory analyses showed that environmental Listeria isolates from the Bidart Bros. facility were indistinguishable from outbreak strains by pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE).
The agency said test results confirm two strains were found at the apple processing facility and are believed to be those associated with the outbreak.
Those same strains were also found in Bidart Bros. apples collected from a retailer by the FDA.
Expanded recall: The Company has recalled all Bidart Bros. Granny Smith and Gala apples still in the marketplace. Bidart Bros. last shipped Granny Smith apples to customers on December 2, 2014. Thirty-one ill people have been hospitalized, and seven deaths have been reported. Listeriosis contributed to at least three of these.
In its latest update (January 10) the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 32 people have been infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes from 11 states.
Thirty-one ill people have been hospitalized, and seven deaths have been reported. Listeriosis contributed to at least three of these. Ten illnesses were pregnancy related with one illness resulting in a fetal loss and three meningitis cases were among otherwise healthy children aged 5–15 years.
To date, 25 (89%) of the 28 ill people interviewed reported eating commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples before becoming ill. The three ill people who did not report eating caramel apples did eat whole or sliced green apples not covered in caramel but the source remains unknown, said CDC.
Canada investigation: The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has identified two cases of listeriosis with the same DNA fingerprints, or pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns, as seen in the US outbreak.
Consumers should avoid eating commercially produced, prepackaged whole caramel apples including those various brands and types containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate & other toppings that were manufactured using Bidart Bros. apples. Consumers who are buying or have recently bought caramel apples should ask their retailer if the caramel apples were manufactured using recalled apples.

'Need for improved risk communication' to consumers on raw milk: EFSA

The risks associated with drinking raw milk should be better communicated to consumers, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has recommended.
A Scientific Opinion delivered by the EFSA Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) highlighted the "clear link" between the consumption of unpasteurized milk and a long list of illnesses with "potential severe health consequences in some individual patients. The BIOHAZ Panel was tasked by EFSA with identifying the main microbiological hazards associated with raw drinking milk (RDM) from cows, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys and camels.
Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC), Brucella melitensis, Mycobacterium bovis and tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) were identified by the BIOHAZ Panel as the "main hazards.
A total of 27 outbreaks involving RDM were reported in the EU between 2007 and 2012, with cow's milk accounting for 23 and goats milk the remaining four. Of these, 21 were attributed to Campylobacter, one to Salmonella Typhimurium, two to STEC, and three to TBEV.
Based on its findings, detailed in a 95­page document published yesterday, the BIOHAZ Panel recommended to improve risk communication to consumers.
There is a need for improved risk communication to consumers, particularly susceptible/high risk populations, regarding the hazards and controls methods associated with consumption of RDM.
Temperature variability: The sale of RDM for human consumption is permitted in the European Union (EU), but Member States may establish national rules to prohibit or restrict the marketing of the unpasteurized product. Some EU Member States, including Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, and England, Wales and Northern Ireland allow restricted sales to consumers. Sales of RDM, largely from cows, is also permitted through vending machines in some EU Member States, including Italy, Slovakia, Austria, France, the Czech Republic, and Lithuania. The study concluded that "temperature variability" between throughout the supply chain could result in "multiplication" of certain pathogens. While acknowledging there is "no data on the microbiological or temperature controls" for raw milk sold online, the BIOHAZ Panel said "temperature must be controlled and correctly maintain during all steps from the farm to the consumer."
Risks outweigh benefits
On the back of the Scientific Opinion, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has reiterated its “long­standing recommendation to consumers not to drink raw milk given the potential risks particularly the health of infants, children, older adults, pregnant women and those with low immunity.

One death linked to Listeria from contaminated soft cheese.

The products were distributed to Hispanic grocery stores in Washington and Oregon
Two people have been hospitalized and one has died in an ongoing outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes linked to Latin­style soft cheese.
Queseria Bendita of Washington, USA, recalled all lots of Panela, Queso Fresco, Requeson, Cotija fresh soft cheese products and sour cream to include best by dates up to April 16.
The products were distributed to Hispanic grocery stores in Washington and Oregon and the firm also sold from its onsite store in Yakima, Washington.

Halted production: The recall came after an investigation and samples collected by the Food and Drug Administration, a list of the affected products can be found here.
Queseria Bendita has also stopped producing and distributing cheese and the Washington State Department of Health warned consumers who may have purchased the products to throw them away and not eat it. Grocery stores and distributors should pull and not sell these products. The department of health said it was working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration on the ongoing outbreak.

Affected people: Three cases of listeriosis have been identified from Washington in King, Pierce and Yakima counties, as of last week. One was pregnancy­associated, two people were hospitalized and one death was reported. There are about ten to 25 cases of listeriosis reported each year in Washington. About 30­50% of newborns and 35% of non­pregnant adults with serious infection die from listeriosis.
The recalled products are packaged with clear plastic wrapper or plastic tub, and are stamp coded with the best by date up to 4/16/2015.
They are refrigerated and have the shelf life of up to 90 days. Previously Queseria Bendita also recalled three types of cheese, Queso Fresco, Panela, and Requeson, because of Listeria monocytogenes contamination in 2010.
Health officials linked the illness of a pregnant woman in King County to cheese products contaminated with Listeria.
The woman was ill in January and recovered. Samples from stores and the plant confirmed the causative bacteria.

martes, 13 de enero de 2015

EFSA calls for Campylobacter action

Reduction of Campylobacter continues to be retailers’ top priority
EFSA has called on UK supermarkets to publish an action plan on Campylobacter by the end of the month. The consumer watchdog has written to seven supermarkets calling on them to make plans publicly available on how they will tackle Campylobacter, with clear timescales for action.
The group said it is almost six weeks since Food Standards Agency (FSA) data showed high levels of Campylobacter in chicken.
Six weeks on from the revelation of scandalously high levels of Campylobacter in chicken, the supermarkets still haven’t told consumers how they will tackle this potentially fatal bug. People need reassurance that supermarkets are doing everything they can to make chicken safe. The retailers must publish their plans andcommit to action now.
FSA survey results: The FSA results found 70% of chickens sold in UK supermarkets tested positive for Campylobacter. The survey revealed 18% tested positive above the highest level of contamination – more than 1,000 colony forming units per gram (>1,000 CFU/g).
Supermarket Asda was the worst performing with 78% of skin samples positive out of 312 samples. Testing also revealed 28% of skin samples higher than 1,000 CFU/g and 12% of pack samples positive. Tesco had the lowest rate of samples testing positive with 64% of the 607 samples, 11% above the highest level of contamination and 3% of pack samples contaminated.
The consumer watchdog said its latest research found six in 10 consumers expressed concern about high levels of Campylobacter in supermarket chickens, with three quarters saying they were too high. More than half thought there wasn’t enough information available about Campylobacter levels in chicken, it added.
 The calling for every major supermarket to publish a plan of action by the end of January and to make this publicly available and published on your website, with a timeframe for taking action. The plan should be an integrated program of both immediate and planned interventions along the food chain (from incentivizing farmers to improve controls through to use of blast surface chilling, for example) targeted at reducing levels of Campylobacter as quickly as feasible”
Retailers, farmers and processors have been working with the FSA and DEFRA for many years as part of the joint government and industry Campylobacter Working Group and millions have been invested into researching solutions for eradicating the bacteria.
Reduction of Campylobacter continues to be retailers’ top priority for food safety and we have introduced a number of customer-focused solutions to aid understanding of the risks and minimize cross contamination,” he said. This includes use of leak proof and oven ready packaging as well as safe handling information on labels, websites and in store magazines.

Source: Food Quality News.com