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Features: A Look at the New Strain of Norovirus
A new strain of norovirus, known as “GII 4 Sydney” since it was first identified in Australia last year, has caused more than 140 outbreaks of stomach illness in the U.S. from the time when it first emerged here in September 2012. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, GII 4 Sydney is now responsible for at least 60% of the norovirus outbreaks in the U.S.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and representatives of the food industry in the United Kingdom agreed to conduct testing of meat products and publish the results “to provide a clearer picture of standards in the food chain,” the agency announced February 4. Some grocery chains have also announced their own new DNA testing regimens. The tests are being implemented in response to the identification of horse and pig DNA in beef products in the U.K. and Ireland.
Features: Food Fraud on the Rise, New Report Finds
Whether it’s diluted olive oil, mislabeled fish, adulterated spices, or any of a number of other counterfeits, the instances of food fraud in the U.S. are on the rise, according to a new report from the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), which sets quality standards for food and medicines.
It’s long been known that young children account for a disproportionately high percentage of foodborne illness cases. But public health experts have questioned whether that’s because kids are more susceptible to pathogens or because parents are more likely to take a child for a doctor visit, thus generating an official report of illness.
In the U.S., the Food Safety Modernization Act includes specific protections for whistleblowers who report food safety violations, but China has taken that one step further. On January 15, China’s State Food and Drug Administration announced that individuals who report food and drug safety violations could receive a reward ranging from 1% to 6% of the value of the products involved—up to 300,000 yuan (about $50,000).
Australian researchers are fine-tuning a new, more efficient genotyping platform for pathogen screening, leveraging microsphere bead technology to carry out multiplexed PCR assays to simultaneously test multiple gene variants without the need for unique internal probes customized for each target.
Introduced nearly a year after it was first due, a new FSMA safety proposal regulating produce has already led to perhaps as many questions as answers.
A new disc-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay called GeneDisc reliably and reproducibly detects E. coli serotypes in ground beef, according to new research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that was published in the December issue of Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology.
Features: FDA Finally Releases Proposed FSMA Rules
Nearly a year after they were originally anticipated, two of the rules needed for full implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act have finally been released by the FDA: the produce safety and preventive controls — considered by many to be the most important of the five awaiting release.
Sunland Inc., the New Mexico company whose peanut butter was linked to a 20-state Salmonella outbreak last fall, has resumed operations after a federal judge signed a consent agreement dictating conditions under which the company will be allowed to process or distribute its products.