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The economic downturn in recent years adversely affected the readiness of local and state food safety agencies to respond to foodborne illness outbreaks. A report that the National Environmental Health Association distributed in May found that budget cuts and financial constraints led to stagnating salaries, staff reductions, inadequate or underfunded training, and a decreased ability to respond to outbreaks.
Researchers at the U.K.’s Institute of Food Research have discovered more about how Salmonella fuels itself to invade human gut epithelial cells—its first line of infection—once it’s in the body. By studying how well mutated strains reproduced in cultured human epithelial cells, they identified glucose as the major nutrient used to fuel the bacterium’s growth and reproduction.
The Escherichia coli outbreak in Europe in 2011, officially assumed to be from a natural origin, may instead have been caused by accidental or intentional introduction of the pathogen into the food chain, a recently published analysis suggests.The source of the outbreak that sickened more than 4,000 people was identified as a single shipment of 15,000 kg of contaminated fenugreek seeds from Egypt. The sprouts from the seeds were assumed to be the vehicle for the deadly outbreak.
In late April, the USDA announced nearly $24 million in new funding for research projects aimed at protecting consumers from microbial and chemical contaminants in food. These grants, awarded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, focused on mitigation strategies for antimicrobial resistance, the physical and molecular mechanisms of food contamination, and the safety of fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables.
A controversy that was brewing over the use of byproducts from beer production as animal food may have been turned aside by an FDA official’s recent reassurances regarding language in the proposed animal feed rule. Brewers and others have raised concerns that, as written, language in the animal feed rule of FSMA would have a significant economic impact on the beer brewing industry and on farmers who rely on the byproducts of brewing for use as animal feed.
On April 21, the Vermont House of Representatives voted to accept a Senate-passed bill that would make the state the first to require food makers to label products that contain genetically modified crops. Vermont’s Governor, Peter Shumlin, has said he will sign the bill, which would take effect in July 2016.
Americans are twice as likely to get food poisoning from food prepared at a restaurant than food prepared at home, according to a new study from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Their analysis of “solved” outbreaks over a 10-year period found a total of 1,610 restaurant-linked outbreaks that sickened some 28,000 people, compared with 893 outbreaks traced to private homes that caused nearly 13,000 individual cases of illness.
The food, beverage, and consumer products industries, along with the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Michigan State University, are partnering together to establish the Center for Research on Ingredient Safety (CRIS). An independent, academic, science-based center, CRIS will serve as an unbiased source for information, research, training, and analysis on the safe use of chemical ingredients in consumer packaged goods including foods and beverage products.
The pasteurization process, now in prototype stage, positions each raw egg between two electrodes that send radio waves back and forth through it. At the same time, the egg is sprayed with water, to compensate for some of the heat created by the radio waves. This process warms the egg from the inside out, protecting the delicate egg white, which is more sensitive to heat.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently announced that it will review en banc the case that declares USDA’s Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) rule unconstitutional. This follows the March 28, 2014 ruling that had the court upholding COOL, saying the rule can indeed be enforced. New oral arguments will now take place on May 19, 2014.