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Features: Outbreaks Spur Rapid STEC Tests
First implicated in a 1993 U.S. outbreak caused by undercooked ground beef, the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) known as O157:H7 has become a familiar term associated with foodborne illness.
Although industry figures indicate that the latest crisis, which involved a rare and deadly strain of E. coli, has resulted in sales losses comparable to the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986, only a handful of exhibitors and farmers at Berlin's International Green Week are willing to talk about the disaster openly. Nearly a year after the devastating outbreak, which killed more than 40 and sickened more than 4,000 people in Germany and other parts of Europe, it is business as usual.
Features: Embattled BPI Hits Back on “Pink Slime”
Beef Products Inc, primary manufacturer of the ammoniated beef product widely known as “pink slime,” has mounted a concerted effort to clean up the reputation of the company and its product.
A slowdown in the establishment of federal centers of excellence in food safety mandated by the FSMA “could have an adverse effect on the progress that the U.S. has been making in foodborne disease surveillance,” warned a leading national food safety expert.
Infectious prions, the lethal microbes that cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) in animals, can be eradicated with a technique that has long been used to inactivate pathogens in drinking water.
Proposed regulations for the livestock and poultry industries—most prominently those involving animal housing, environmental regulations, the use of antimicrobials and other drugs, livestock trading, and labor regulations—could increase production costs by 10% to 25%, potentially costing consumers as much as $16 billion annually, claims a new report commissioned by the United Soybean Board.
Chopped and ground meat and poultry products now bear the same on-package nutrition labels consumers commonly see on most other packaged foods.
Features: Do Nanoparticles Affect Digestion?
Nanoparticles are routinely added to food products and used in food packaging, but the impact they might have on health is still not well understood.
It’s been used to crack the code of some of the most troublesome foodborne illness outbreaks in the world, including the rare and lethal E. coli hybrid strain that began in Germany and spread throughout Europe, Canada, and the U.S. last summer, as well as the outbreak of listeriosis traced to cantaloupes from Colorado-based Jensen Farms last autumn.
Rather than eliminating the 10-year-old Microbiological Data Program, which tests about 15,000 samples of produce such as sprouts, lettuce, tomatoes, and cantaloupe for pathogens annually, the USDA should expand the program, said Alfredo G. Torres, PhD, associate professor in the departments of microbiology and immunology and pathology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in Texas.