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Published by the Minnesota Beef CouncilNovember 2011

Notable & Quotable

Michael Osterholm, Ph.D., director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), predicts that irradiation will eventually become a widely used and accepted food safety measure as public awareness of foodborne illness outbreaks continues to rise. He also said that the federal government has a responsibility to support irradiation in an attempt to reduce the estimated 48 million cases of foodborne illness in the U.S. each year.
"If surgeons using sterile surgery equipment can't get lower than a 2 percent infection rate with hospital patients, how are we going to do better at slaughtering animals? It's not a function of resources; it's just not possible," he said. "It's the same with raw milk: You will not produce a safe milk short of pasteurization. You need a kill step."
Dr. Michael Osterholm, Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy (Food Safety News)

About $8 billion worth of dry dog food, $2 billion worth of dog treats, $3.7 billion worth of dry cat food and $427 million worth of cat treats were sold in the U.S. in 2010. 
Euromonitor
International, a market-research company.

IN THIS ISSUE
Pet food added to Salmonella risk list
$236,000 fine for listeria-contaminated chicken
German E. coli 104:H4 outbreak final analysis
FDA Calls Irradiation a Step for Safer Food
Canada aims for equivalency with US in non-O157 E. coli testing
Exporters call for irradiation facility
Multi-State outbreak of human Salmonella enteriditis linked to Turkish pine nuts
Cantaloupe Sales Crumble due to Listeria Outbreak
QUICK LINKS
Pet food added to Salmonella risk list; Wall Street Journal (Nov. 2, 2011)

The Food and Drug Administration has begun a nationwide effort to test pet food for salmonella contamination amid evidence it is sickening pet owners. FDA investigators started taking samples in October of dry pet food, pet treats and diet supplements from distributors, wholesalers and retailers such as PetSmart, PetCo, Wal-Mart, Costco, Sam's Club and Target.

The FDA said in a memorandum released this week that it is "particularly concerned about salmonella being transmitted to humans through pet foods, pet treats, and supplements for pets that are intended to be fed to animals in homes, where they are likely to be directly handled or ingested by humans."

The testing covers dog and cat food but also feed for rabbits, reptiles, birds, aquarium fish and rodents such as hamsters, mice and guinea pigs.

People usually get salmonella poisoning by eating contaminated food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But it is also possible to get sick just "by putting objects or fingers contaminated with these germs into the mouth." Salmonella also can sicken pets that eat tainted food.

In tough times, stories have swirled of people eating pet food. Duane Ekedahl, president of the Pet Food Institute, called the notion "an urban legend."

The CDC advised consumers to wash their hands after feeding pets and keep infants away from the dog's dish.

The cost of medical care for pets is skyrocketing. The proliferation of advanced medical tests and long-term treatments have made pet ownership a significant financial commitment. Wendy Bounds has details on The News Hub.

The FDA pointed to CDC data that show 70 people got sick from January 2006 through December 2007 in connection with salmonella-tainted dry dog food produced in Pennsylvania.

That outbreak included a strain of the bacteria known as Schwarzengrund, according to the CDC. The strain is considered resistant to some antibiotics used to treat the infection.

About $8 billion worth of dry dog food, $2 billion worth of dog treats, $3.7 billion worth of dry cat food and $427 million worth of cat treats were sold in the U.S. last year, according to Euromonitor International, a market-research company. Read more here.....

$236,000 fine for company that supplied listeria contaminated chicken wraps to Australian airline company (November 16, 2011): 
GMI Food Wholesalers, a company that provided listeria-contaminated chicken to the airline Virgin Blue, sickening 29 passengers and causing two premature births in 2009, has received the largest fine of its type in New South Wales.
Directors of GMI Food Wholesalers pleaded guilty to 26 charges relating to the production, handling and sale of unsafe food.
They were fined $236,000 plus legal costs, in the Downing Centre Local Court. Details of the case were published on the NSW Food Authority's website November 16th. 
Read more here.....

German E. coli 104:H4 Outbreak Final Analysis (November 11, 2011):

ST LOUIS (MD Consult) - The 2011 outbreak of Escherichia coli O101:H4 in Germany was attributable to contaminated sprouts and caused widespread illness with a high rate of hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), according to a pair of reports in the November 10, 2011, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. Analysis of the assembled data identified a total of 3,816 cases of infection with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O104:H4, including 54 deaths. Twenty-two percent of patients developed HUS. Eighty-eight percent of the HUS cases were adults, median age 42 years. Women accounted for 68% of HUS patients. Read more....
FDA Calls Irradiation a Step for Safer Food (October 31, 2011):

James Andrews, Food Safety News

Food irradiation is a process designed to kill microorganisms and insects in food through exposure to electron, gamma or X-ray radiation at the end of the production chain. With the application of correct radiation doses, the process does not alter the taste of food. Along with eliminating potentially harmful pathogens, food processors can use irradiation at lower doses to increase shelf life, a development that has opened up new avenues for imports.

While irradiated foods are still largely seen as niche grocery products, Michael Osterholm, Ph.D., director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), predicts that irradiation will eventually become a widely used and accepted food safety measure as public awareness of foodborne illness outbreaks continues to rise. He also said that the federal government has a responsibility to support irradiation in an attempt to reduce the estimated 48 million cases of foodborne illness in the U.S. each year.

"The Centers for Disease Control does not have irradiation on their priority list, which is really unfortunate, because it should be one of their top priorities," Osterholm said. "We need to put more pressure on the industry, because you're not going to get those harmful agents out of meat products without a final kill step that really makes a difference." Read more here......

Canada aims for equivalency with US in non-O157 E. coli testing; MeatingPlace.com; (Nov. 22, 2011):

OTTAWA: The Canadian government is working to ensure that Canadian companies meet the same standards under USDA's proposed ban of the "Big 6" non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli in raw beef products, according to Robert de Valk, Canadian government affairs representative for the North American Meat Processors Association (NAMP).
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is expected in January 2012 to direct companies to plan for equivalent compliance, de Valk said in a NAMP newsletter.
"As usually is the case when the USDA takes an initiative, trading partners have to take note. This is particularly true for Canada to ensure the equivalency standard on meat and poultry inspection systems is maintained," the group stated.

Hyderbad exporters call for irradiation facility (Nov. 24, 2011):

HYDERBAD, INDIA: Exporters of horticulture produce, farmers and scientists have called for setting up of an irradiation facility in Hyderabad to facilitate export of Banganpalli mango exports to the United States, Japan and other countries.

At a brain-storming session held here on Tuesday to discuss how to revive horticulture exports from the State, they wanted the Government to see to it that lab reports produced in the country were accepted by importing countries.

They also wanted information on protocols for production of export quality fruits and vegetables to be disseminated to the farmers.

The challenge of bacterial blight in pomegranate farms too was a topic of intense discussion.

The stakeholders asked the Government to work on control measures to check spread of this problem that dogged pomegranate farmers. Read more here....

Multi-State outbreak of human Salmonella enteriditis linked to Turkish pine nuts; (November 2011):

WASHINGTON: A total of 43 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis were reported from 5 states.
Epidemiologic and laboratory investigations conducted by officials in local, state, and federal public health, agriculture, and regulatory agencies linked this outbreak to eating Turkish pine nuts sold in bulk bins at Wegmans grocery stores.
Consumers should check their homes, including refrigerators and freezers, for Turkish pine nuts purchased from bulk bins at Wegmans stores between July 1, 2011 and October 18, 2011 and not eat them. Consumers should also not eat any foods prepared with the recalled products, including pesto, salads, and baked goods.
This particular outbreak appears to be over. However, Salmonella is still an important cause of human illness in the United States. Read more here...

 
GAO says FDA, industry should have plan to reduce risks; Still Too Many Raw Oyster Deaths in Gulf StatesBy Dan Flynn, Food Safety News (November 22, 2011):

There's red tide in Texas, salinity levels in state waters are way off in Mississippi, and Louisiana has fallen behind Washington state in oyster production. To say Gulf oystermen have not had much cause for optimism since the 2010 BP oil spill is to put it lightly.

 

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) wants the federal government to reengage with the Gulf oyster industry over its principal food safety problem -- what to do about the potentially deadly Vibrio vulnificus bacteria in raw oysters. 

 

The GAO recently issued a new report entitled:  "Food Safety: FDA Needs to Reassess Its Approach to Reducing an Illness Caused by Eating Raw Oysters."  In 66 pages, GAO says FDA should work with the oyster industry to develop a common safety agenda.

 

Dr. Ed Cake, the Mississippi-based marine expert who consults with the oyster industry, said the GAO report falls short in not addressing the impact of the BP oil spill nor recognizing the need to fund a solution.

 

"One issue that the folks including those in FDA should consider is the explosion of Vibrio vulnificus populations in coastal waters of the Gulf in response to BP's dispersed and sunken oil, especially in Louisiana, " Cake says. "If those deposits of sunken oil persist for decades as they have in the case of the 1979 Ixtoc-1 oil spill in Mexico's Bay of Campeche, then the incidence of oyster-related vibriosis may increase through no fault of the oyster industry."

 

Cake called on the federal government to fund an in-shell (cobalt-60) irradiation facility for post-harvest treatment of live oysters. "If officials in that agency (FDA) are really committed to further reduction of the already low-incidence of vibriosis in consumers of raw oysters from the Gulf, then they should welcome an opportunity to fund an irradiation facility in Louisiana," Cake says. Read more here.... 
Food Irradiation Update is being sent as an update on food irradiation by Ronald F. Eustice, Executive Director of the Minnesota Beef Council. 

Executive Director
Minnesota Beef Council
2950 Metro Drive # 102
Bloomington, MN 55425
USA
Phone: 952/854-6980
Fax: 952/854-6906
E-mail: ron@mnbeef.org
Website: www.mnbeef.org
 
For more information on food irradiation visit http://www.mnbeef.org
Remember: Food irradiation will do for ground meats, produce, and other foods what pasteurization did for milk.
Sincerely,
 
Ron Eustice
Minnesota Beef Council
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Radura
FOOD IRRADIATION: A GUIDE FOR CONSUMERS, POLICYMAKERS AND THE MEDIA published by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) can be downloaded at Food Irradiation Book
IRRADIATED FOODS; published by the American Council on Science & Health Provides Science- provides science-based Information on food irradiation. The booklet can be downloaded at:IRRADIATED FOODS
Food Irradiation Principles and Applications
is an excellent source of information about food irradiation. For information go to:
Food Irradiation: Principles & Applications
FOOD IRRADIATION: QUESTIONS & ANSWERS is an excellent source of information on food irradiation.FOOD IRRADIATION: QUESTIONS & ANSWERS