12 January - 20 June 2016

Food safety

23 Jan 13

**Food Standards Agency to prosecute Selfridges Retail Limited and farmer in raw drinking milk case
**Guide investigates myth behind GM and look at the reality of crop science
**Hot soup served in melamine bowls found to increase urinary melamine excretion
**Dramatic fall in Salmonella infections
**Scientists develop Campylobacter screening method
**Industry needs to take more responsibility over “Campylobacter – the silent epidemic”
**EFSA identifies risks to bees from neonicotinoids
**Kebab shop owner jailed for hygiene offences which caused 2011 E. coli outbreak
**Additional evidence that careful immunotherapy reduces allergic patients' sensitivity to peanuts
**Study questions the safety of two blue food colours
**BPA may be associated with a risk of heart and kidney disease in children and adolescents
**Animal diseases updates and food poisoning outbreaks
**The Food Safety Network

**Food Standards Agency to prosecute Selfridges Retail Limited and farmer in raw drinking milk case
The Food Standards Agency has confirmed its intention to prosecute Selfridges Retail Limited and the farmer who supplied the company with raw drinking cow milk for sale, Stephen Hook, for breaches of food hygiene regulations. .The decision follows a detailed investigation, after vending machines dispensing raw cow milk were installed at Selfridges, in 2011. The FSA will consider taking action where it has evidence that regulations have been breached.  Selfridges has been charged as 'a person other than the occupier of a production holding or distributor' under Regulation 32 and Schedule 6 Paragraph (2) (1). Mr Hook has been charged, separately, as 'an occupier of a production holding', under Regulation 32 and Schedule 6(2) (2) of the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations. (quoted directly)

**Guide investigates myth behind GM and looks at the reality of crop science
Seed Feed Food a project of Europa Bio's Agricultural Biotechnology team have published a report entitled “Science not fiction: Time to think again about GM.”  The guide aims to look at the reality of crop science, explode some of the myths around GM and recognise the growing support from high-profile development and sustainability organisations; from the WHO to the Gates Foundation.  Sections covered include Agriculture: New solutions for new challenges, what led to a lack of trust in regulatory bodies and suspicion of GM, defending sound science, and GM claims versus GM reality amongst others. 

RSSL's DNA and Protein Laboratory offers qualitative and real-time quantitative analytical services for GM soya, maize and rapeseed in raw materials and finished products. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

**Hot soup served in melamine bowls found to increase urinary melamine excretion
A research letter published online in JAMMA Internal Medicine has investigated if consumption of hot noodle soup served in melamine bowls could increase urinary melamine excretion.  Wu et al. gave one group of 6 participants, who had fasted 8 hours before, 500 mL of hot noddle soup served in a melamine bowl for breakfast and another group of 6 volunteers, again who had fasted, the same amount of soup but served in a ceramic bowl. The scientists collected urine samples from the study participants before and at 2 hour intervals for 12 hours after consumption of the soup.  Samples were analysed for melamine.  Wu et al report that the total melamine excretion (mean) in urine for 12 hours in people after eating noodles from a melamine bowl was 8.35 micrograms whilst it was about 1.3 micrograms when they were served noodles in ceramic bowls.  The scientists conclude by saying that “the amount of melamine released into food and beverages from melamine tableware varies by brand so the result of this study of 1 brand may not be generalised to other brands.”

RSSL’s Functional Ingredients Laboratory has developed a method for melamine in certain matrice. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

**Dramatic fall in Salmonella infections
A researcher at the University of Liverpool has reported that since a poultry vaccine programme was introduced in the late 1990s the number of Salmonella infections has dramatically fallen.   Measures introduced to control an epidemic, which saw the number of salmonella infections increase by 170% between 1981 and 1991 and peaked by an epidemic of Salmonella Enteritidis in 1993, include legislation, food safety advice, and an industry-led vaccination program in broiler-breeder and laying poultry flocks.  Reporting in Clinical Infectious Disease Sarah O'Brien, Professor of Epidemiology and Zoonoses, from the University's Institute of Infection and Global Health, states: We have seen a marked decline in the number of incidents of Salmonella infection, shown by two significant studies conducted 10 years apart. These studies found that the number of cases fell from 1.6 cases per 1,000 person years for a study conducted from 1993 to 1996  to 0.2 cases per 1,000 person years for the same study conducted from 2008 to 2009 . In addition, the number of laboratory-confirmed cases of illness dropped from more than 18,000 in 1993 to just 459 in 2010. The nature of public health interventions often means that evaluating their impact is complex as they are often implemented simultaneously. The decrease in laboratory confirmed human cases coincides quite closely with the introduction of vaccination programmes in breeder and laying flocks. It is probable that no single measure contributed to the decline in Salmonella cases but the relationship between vaccination programmes and the reduction in human disease is compelling and suggests these programmes have made a major contribution to improving public health." (Science Daily)

**Scientists develop Campylobacter screening method
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology by a team of scientists from California and cited by Food Safety News, has found that by targeting and analysing one gene in Campylobacter, called porA, laboratories can analyse “dozens of isolates to find the handful most likely to be the source of the outbreak.”  Food Safety News state that the current method using “pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) — is time-consuming and labour intensive, and therefore difficult to perform on more than a few isolates at a time.”  PorA is reported to be a good indicator of the uniqueness of a specific strain.  Using cow faeces and water runoff samples collected from two different dairies, that were linked to Campylobacter jejuni outbreaks associated with milk, Jay-Russell et al. carried out porA sequencing on over 100 isloates.  The first location was a site operated by inmates at a safe prison.  Testing found that Campylobacter was not present in the pasteurised milk, which was probably due to the bacteria not surviving long enough, however three months after the outbreak they found the outbreak strain in the environment using porA, and managed to group 8 of the most likely isolates which they matched to the outbreak stain.  Using porA sequencing at another location linked to an outbreak, they found 17 likely C. Jejuni isolates which were likely to be the cause of this outbreak.  Jay-Russell sates that “Our hypothesis was that if they had the same porA sequence then they were more likely to have the same PFGE pattern.”  On comparing the results to those of the state laboratory, who used PFCE for testing, the authors found that the results for several isolates were indistinguishable from the outbreak stain.  

**Industry needs to take more responsibility over “Campylobacter – the silent epidemic”
In a radio programme on BBC Radio 4 entitled “Campylobacter, the silent epidemic”, FSA chief executive Catherine Brown has responded to a BBC investigation which reports that cases of campylobacter are increasing, with about 500,000 people a year being infected. The BBC report that FSA figures state that between 60% and 80% of cases can be attributed to chicken. Catherine Brown notes that the human and economic burden of the current situation is unacceptable. She says: "Industry needs to take responsibility to sort this problem out. There is work going on, but I have flagged up concerns about the pace of progress with the poultry industry. There will be costs to all of the interventions required to solve this problem. Some will be passed on to the consumer.”  She notes that the poultry industry must take responsibility however the British Poultry Council states it was doing everything it could to reduce the risk of infection.  The BBC quote Peter Bradnock, chief executive of the British Poultry Council (BPC) as saying that he acknowledged that chicken was a major source of campylobacter and added that the industry is working on a range of interventions to meet this target.  "The producers and the processors realise that we have a responsibility to reduce to the absolute minimum any possible risk that could be passed on to the consumer, so that when they buy food it's the safest it can be.  We can do something about this, and we are doing something about it.  We're looking at rearing systems, at whether there are campylobacter resistant breeds of chicken.  We're not waiting for someone to tell us the answers we're actually in there, trialling these different interventions that are coming out of scientific projects and trialling them on real farms.”

**EFSA identifies risks to bees from neonicotinoids
EFSA scientists have identified a number of risks posed to bees by three neonicotinoid pesticides. The Authority was asked by the European Commission to assess the risks associated with the use of clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, with particular regard to their acute and chronic effects on bee colony survival and development; their effects on bee larvae and bee behaviour; and the risks posed by sub-lethal doses of the three substances.

**Kebab shop owner jailed for hygiene offences which caused 2011 E. coli outbreak
A kebab shop owner has been jailed for eight months after nine customers were struck down with E. coli O157 in August 2011.  The owner Diar Wali Ali of the Adonis Kebab House, Carfiff faced 23 charges for food hygiene offences, which caused nine victims to suffer with food poisoning. One of the victims was a 12 year old boy who suffered with kidney failure and received dialysis treatment during a two-week stay in hospital, whilst another was unwell for almost a month.  Barrister Carl Harrison read out the statement of six of the victims at Newport Crown Court.   Amongst the hygiene offences found were that staff used a dirty towel to wipe off kebab skewers, raw meat and ready-to-serve foods stored side by side, causing cross-contamination, staff washing their hands in the same sinks that food was washed in, a rusty dough mixer used to defrost frozen meat and Ali admitting to deep-frying his utensils instead of cleaning them with the proper anti-bacterial wash.  Wales Online report Judge Phillip Richards as saying that the “heinous offences” could be punished by nothing less than a custodial sentence and hoped to set an example for other take-away owners.

**Additional evidence that careful immunotherapy reduces allergic patients' sensitivity to peanuts Scientists from the National Jewish Health have provided additional evidence that repeatedly consuming small amount of food that cause allergic reactions can reduce the severity of reactions.  The study published in The Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology found that 70% of the 40 peanut-allergic patients who consumed daily doses of peanut protein in liquid drops could safely consume 10 times as much peanut protein as they had before the therapy. However, one patient's serious reaction highlighted the care that must be taken to keep patients safe.  David Fleischer the lead author of the study is quoted by Science Daily as saying: “Immunotherapy continues to show promise for treating food allergies but it is not yet ready for widespread use; there is a fine line between safely desensitising patients and causing serious allergic reactions. We are still working to discover where that line is and how to select patients who would most likely benefit."   The scientists found that after 44 weeks, 70 percent of the participants receiving peanut immunotherapy could increase their average amount of peanut protein safely from 3.5 milligrams to 496 milligrams. After 68 weeks, responders were desensitised further and could safely consume on average 996 milligrams of peanut protein. That level of desensitization could help protect against an accidental ingestion, which averages about 100 milligrams. One peanut contains on average about 250 milligrams of peanut protein.

RSSL carries out allergen testing using immunological, DNA and distillation techniques, depending on the allergen to be detected. Detection limits are in the range 1- 100 mg allergen/kg of sample for almond, Brazil nut, macadamia nut, peanut, walnut, hazelnut, cashew nut, pistachio nut, pecan nut, pine nut and chestnut.  Celery, celeriac, black mustard, lupin  and kiwi allergens can be detected by DNA methods, as can crustacean, fish and mollusc allergens.  The laboratory also uses a range of UKAS accredited immunological procedures for the detection of allergens including gluten, peanut, hazelnut, almonds, soya, egg, milk, sesame and histamine.  Distillation and titration methods are used for the determination of sulphur dioxide and sulphites.  For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com.

**BPA may be associated with a risk of heart and kidney disease in children and adolescents Researchers from the NYU School of Medicine have analysed national survey data and reported that exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) may be associated with a biomarker for higher risk of heart and kidney disease in children and adolescents.  Data on 710 children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 was collected in a national survey, 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States. The survey included measurements on urinary BPA and albumin.  The study published in Kidney International reports that laboratory studies have indicated that low levels, similar to those found in this national survey of children and adolescent, increase oxidative stress and inflammation which can lead to protein leakage in the urine. This is a biomarker for early renal impairment and future risk of developing coronary heart disease.   Dr. Trasande a co-author of the study states: "While our cross-sectional study cannot definitively confirm that BPA contributes to heart disease or kidney dysfunction in children, together with our previous study of BPA and obesity, this new data adds to already existing concerns about BPA as a contributor to cardiovascular risk in children and adolescents.  It further supports the call to limit exposure of BPA in this country, especially in children.  Removing it from aluminium cans is probably one of the best ways we can limit exposure. There are alternatives that manufacturers can use to line aluminium cans."

**Study questions the safety of two blue food colours
A study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology by researchers at the Slovak University of Technology has reported that two blue food colours, authorised by the European Union disrupt cell metabolism when they are absorbed into the bloodstream.  The two blue colours, Brilliant Blue (E133) and Patent Blue (E131) are often used in sweets and also in aftershaves.  Hojerova et al. carried out a number of experiments including exposing ex vivo pig tongues to human saliva containing 15,000 ng/cm2 of each colour for 20 minutes. They report that their finding indicate that after 24 hours, 34 ng/cm2 of Brilliant Blue and 86 ng/cm2 of Patent Blue can be directly absorbed into the blood system. 

RSSL's Functional Ingredients Laboratory can analyse foods for natural and artificial food colours by HPLC and identify added carotenoids. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

**Animal diseases updates and food poisoning outbreaks
Regular global updates on food poisoning outbreaks and animal diseases, such as avian influenza, foot and mouth, Ebola, SARS, and Anthrax can be found on the International Society for Infectious Diseases ‘ProMED-mail’ web site. 

**BITES safe food from farm to fork
The BITES web site at Kansas State University (KSU) provides up-to-date details of food safety incidents around the world.  It replaced the International Food Safety Network (iFSN) web site at KSU, which is no longer being kept up-to date. The Fsnet Archives are still available but only updated until September 2009.

RSSL's scientists are able to assist food businesses to manage food safety issues more effectively. The laboratories have considerable experience in the detection and identification of foreign bodies, heavy metals, allergens, toxins and chemical residues. For more information on any of these services and RSSL's Emergency Response Service, please contact Customer Services on Freefone 0800 243482 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

Find out more about the science behind foreign body investigations in our You Tube video

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