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Your next tweet could help track a Salmonella outbreak to a restaurant source if a new computer program from researchers at the University of Rochester enters common use. The system, called nEmesis, combines machine-learning and crowdsourcing techniques to analyze millions of tweets to find those from restaurant patrons discussing foodborne illness after eating at a particular location.
Cases of the illnesses caused by the single-celled Cyclospora parasite have been reported in 22 states to date, but the FDA and CDC say that it is not yet clear whether all cases are part of the same outbreak. A source has been confirmed for cases in only two states, Iowa and Nebraska. In those states, a traceback investigation linked the infections to a salad mix supplied to Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants by a Mexican supplier.
The crystal structure of melamine cyanurate, the chemical thought to be the culprit in the 2008 contamination of milk that sickened some 300,000 Chinese infants, has been described by scientists in the U.K. The publication, which corrects a previous report on the crystal structure, may allow the design of better tests to detect melamine in food products.
In late July, the FDA issued guidance for Salmonella prevention measures involving eggs from free-range hens, the last of three groups to come under 2009’s Egg Safety Rule. According to the guidance, which is still in a comment period, producers who keep outdoor-access chickens (including those certified as organic by the FDA) are required to take steps to keep wild birds, cats, rodents, and other animals that can be vectors for disease, out of the indoor sections and porches of poultry houses.
Features: Global Food Partnerships
FSMA’s impact on international policies and trade
Following up on a lawsuit filed in early July, a group of meat and livestock trade organizations asked a federal court on July 26 to grant an injunction against the implementation of the USDA’s country-of-origin labeling (COOL) regulations...The rule is “arbitrary and capricious, offering little benefit to consumers while fundamentally altering the meat and poultry industry,” according to a statement.
The foreign supplier verification rule requires that imported foods meet the same safety standards as domestically-produced foods, and put the burden of meeting those standards on the importing companies, which will have to prove their foreign suppliers have adequate controls in place...But some hurdles still stand in the way of full FSMA implementation.
Workers at industrial livestock operations are much more likely than workers at antibiotic-free livestock companies to carry livestock-associated strains of Staphylococcus aureus, as well as multidrug-resistant S. aureus, according to a new study from researchers at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health.
A multistate outbreak of listeriosis has led to the recall of several cheese products by a Wisconsin manufacturer. At least five people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes were hospitalized; the illness resulted in one death and a miscarriage by a pregnant woman, according to the CDC. The products had been distributed nationwide through retail and foodservice outlets and by mail-order, according to the company.
The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) has proposed a number of updates to the Food Chemical Codex (FCC), including the first example of a new type of resource, the FCC Identity Standard, designed to help food scientists verify the identity of complex food ingredients.The newly introduced identity standards will provide tests to confirm that a product is what it purports to be, as well as tests for substances that should not be found in an authentic product, according to the USP. The first proposed FCC...