12 January - 20 June 2016

Food safety

06 Feb 13

**FSA publishes meat testing protocol
**FSA issues statement about non Halal meat
**FSA reminds people with food allergies to check ingredients when eating out
**Top ingredients vulnerable to adulteration
**Bacterial pathogens reported to be the most important food safety issue for fresh produce
**Poultry attributed to more deaths and leafy vegetable to illnesses than any other commodity, USA
**Food Standards Agency publishes 2013 priorities on science and evidence
**EFSA - enzyme safety evaluations
**Levels of more food contaminants capped in China
**Maternal BPA exposure may cause female offspring to exhibit spontaneous activity
**Investigating the effects of a common feed additive in Brazil and the US on pork quality
**IFST publishes information statement on dioxins in food and feed
**Tributyltin exposure found to be associated with obesity in offspring and subsequent generations
**Animal diseases updates and food poisoning outbreaks
**The Food Safety Network

**FSA publishes meat testing protocol
The Food Standards Agency has published the protocol for the UK-wide survey of food authenticity in processed meat products. This has been drawn up in collaboration with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the devolved rural affairs departments and local authorities. .The survey will use specialised analytical techniques to provide information about the possible presence of horse or pig DNA in a range of beef products available to UK consumers. It also aims to identify and understand factors that may lead to the presence of meat species that are not labelled as an ingredient, so that this can be explained, eliminated or correctly labelled. This work is in addition to the preliminary sampling work that has already taken place. It is planned that 28 local authorities across the UK will take a total of 224 samples in accordance with a detailed protocol, a summary of which can be found at the link below. The aim is to select products that are representative of goods on the market. The samples will be taken in such a way that, if necessary, enforcement action can be taken to protect consumers. (quoted directly)

RSSL's DNA and Protein Laboratory can perform meat speciation using UKAS accredited ELISA techniques to identify the presence of pork, beef, lamb, poultry and horse. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

**FSA issues statement about non Halal meat
The Food Standards Agency has issued a statement following the Ministry of Justice announcement about non Halal meat.  The FSA has been informed that a number of meat pies and pasties supplied to prisons in England and Wales were labelled and served as Halal but contained traces of pork DNA. The local authority is investigating how this contamination came about and whether these products have been distributed further across the UK

**FSA reminds people with food allergies to check ingredients when eating out
The Food Standards Agency is urging people with food allergies to always check the ingredients when eating out. This advice follows recent cases of severe and fatal allergic reactions. Almost three quarters of food allergic reactions happen when people eat out. Even though similar meals are sold in many shops, supermarkets and restaurants, different recipes and ingredients can be used to make these dishes. They note this is why it is vital, if you have a food allergy, to always ask about the ingredients used in a dish, when eating at a restaurant or food outlet. Even if you have eaten a particular dish in one restaurant, don’t assume it will have the same ingredients the next time or in a different restaurant.

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.

**Top ingredients vulnerable to adulteration
The US Pharmacopeial Convention’s Food Fraud Database has been updated to included nearly 800 new records.  The database contains new information about foods that are vulnerable to fraudulent manipulation.  The update increases the total number of records by 60% and comprises of newer information published in 2011 and 2012 in both journals and media.  The initial analysis of the database was published in the April 2012 Journal of Food Science. The top categories for food fraud were found to be milk, vegetable oils and spices, and analysis of the new information is reporting a similar trend for 2011 and 2012, however seafood, clouding agents and lemon juice have been added as categories vulnerable to food fraud.  USP is a non-profit, scientific organisation that publishes Food Chemical Codex.  Dr. Jeffrey Moore, senior scientific liaison for USP and the database’s creator and lead analyst states “While food fraud has been around for centuries, with a handful of notorious cases well documented, we suspect that what we know about the topic is just the tip of the iceberg. The idea behind the database was to shed some light on this largely uncharacterized space by collecting and analyzing the fragmented information in the public domain reported by scholars, regulators and media. Ultimately, we hope the database can be used as a tool by food manufacturers, regulators, scientists and others worldwide to help achieve a safer food supply—whether by providing more complete knowledge of known and potential threats, spurring new research and development of more accurate detection methods for potential adulterants, increasing awareness on the part of consumers, lawmakers and others, or by any other means that makes it more difficult on a practical level for parties to engage in this unscrupulous and harmful activity—which is both a public health and business threat.” (Press release – USP)

**Bacterial pathogens reported to be the most important food safety issue for fresh produce
A paper published in the Journal Food Control has reported that bacterial pathogens are considered to be the most important food safety issue for fresh produce, followed by foodborne viruses, pesticides residues and mycotoxins.  The findings were reached from a workshop in January 2011 organised by the EU FP7 Veg-i-Trade project.  The workshop was attended by 6 farmer related organisations, 17 fresh produce processing and 17 trading companies, 3 retail , 2 consumer organisations, 7 competent authorities and 19 research institutes and universities, with 92.6% originating from European countries.  The paper reports that alert systems were considered the most important source of information on food safety, followed by reports of international organisations (e.g. WHO, EFSA), legislative documents (e.g. EU legislation), national reports (e.g. on monitoring hazards, foodborne outbreaks) and exchange of information between people (informal contacts). The application of good agricultural practices (GAP) was identified to be the most important control measure to assure the safety of fresh produce, followed by the application of good hygienic practices (GHP) and the certification of food safety management systems (FSMS).

**Poultry attributed to more deaths and leafy vegetable to illnesses than any other commodity, USA
The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has used outbreak data to investigate foodborne illnesses, hospitalisations, and deaths to food commodities in the United States between 1998–2008.  In brief they report that plant commodities attribute to most illnesses, whilst land animal commodities most deaths.  Forty six per cent of illnesses were attributed to produce, with norovirus illness being the major factor of this result.  Poultry was attributed to more deaths (19%) than any other commodity cause by mainly Listeria or Salmonella spp.  More illnesses were attributed to leafy vegetables (22%) than to any other commodity; illnesses associated with leafy vegetables were the second most frequent cause of hospitalizations (14%) and the fifth most frequent cause of death (6%).  The second most frequent food source for infections causing illnesses (14%) and deaths (10%) was the dairy commodity. 

**Food Standards Agency publishes 2013 priorities on science and evidence
The Food Standards Agency has published its Forward Evidence Plan for 2013. The plan outlines priority science and evidence activities for the coming year, including potential areas for research funding and workshops that will help develop the Agency’s evidence base.  Proposed activities areas include: microbiological food safety, including campylobacter, E.coli, listeria and norovirus, a range of issues related to food and feed hygiene policy, chemical safety of food, including metals and organic contaminants, the next round of the FSA strategic challenge call, diet and health related work funded by the FSA in Scotland and Northern Ireland.  Any comments on the plan should be sent by Friday 15 February to: cst@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk

**EFSA - enzyme safety evaluations
Enzymes are proteins that can speed up chemical reactions millions of times. Naturally present in all living things, they can also be extracted from plants, animals or microorganisms for use in food production. By 2015, all enzymes used in Europe as processing aids for food production require evaluation for safety by EFSA. Recently, the Authority held a meeting with applicants to discuss the administrative and technical requirements for submitting technical dossiers for the safety evaluation of food enzymes. This is a step forward in EFSA’s risk assessment of regulated products in this area. (quoted directly)

**Levels of more food contaminants capped in China
According to Shanghai Daily, China has capped levels of 13 contaminants in 20 categories of food which will come into force on 1 June.  The contaminants include lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic that can legally be allowed in food including grains, vegetables, fruit, meat, drinks, alcohol, aquatic products and seasoning. By the end of 2013, China’s Ministry of Health has reported that it will streamline 5,000 existing safety standards applying to agricultural produce and food products.

**Maternal BPA exposure may cause female offspring to exhibit spontaneous activity
Researchers from the University of Michigan School of Public Health have discovered that female mice exposed to Bisphenol A, through their mother's diet during gestation and lactation, exhibit spontaneous activity and had leaner body mass than those not exposed to the chemical.  Dolinoy et al. is quoted as saying: “Our hypothesis going into this study was that BPA would act as an obesogenic agent and there is some preliminary evidence that it does, but there are differences in exposure, duration and when you actually measure the individual.  Recent evidence in humans only looks at one time point. What we're really interested in is BPA exposure during early development, and how that affects health throughout life. So those are two very different questions."  The study published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology fed pregnant mice three different levels of BPA in their diet and then followed the offspring through adulthood measuring hormone levels at 9 and 10 months of age and offspring energy expenditure, spontaneous activity, and body composition at 3, 6, and 9 months of age.    They report that only the female mice exhibited excessive activity and had lean bodies, noting that their results need further investigation as  BPA is known to impact estrogen.

**Investigating the effects of a common feed additive in Brazil and the US on pork quality
According to scientists from Brazil, small doses of ractopamine, a common feed additive in Brazilian and US pork production,  can increase pork production without changing the appearance or taste of the pork.  Reporting in the Journal of Animal Science, Athayde et al found that 5mg/kg of ractopamine increased muscle mass and feed efficiency, and had no noticeable effect on pork marbling, fat content, toughness or colour.  The scientists split 340 pigs into three groups and fed them 0, 5 or 10 mg/kg of ractopamine during the last 28 days before slaughter. Although the 5 mg/kg had no noticeable effects on the quality of the pork, the pork from the pigs fed 10 mg/kg of the feed additive was found to be lighter and less tender than that from the control group of pigs.

**IFST publishes information statement on dioxins in food and feed
IFST have published a new information statement on dioxins.  Dioxins are a group of relatively stable lipophilic organic substances. They are formed in small amounts during the combustion of organic materials and also in the manufacture of certain chemicals. They may be present in foods and feeds at low but measurable values and in highly variable amounts, and they have been associated with a number of possible negative biological effects.  IFST’s information statement provides an overview on dioxins, their formation and occurrence in foods and feeds, public health significance, legislation, methods of detection and industry good practices.

**Tributyltin exposure found to be associated with obesity in offspring and subsequent generations
A UC Irvine study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives is reporting that foetal exposure to tributyltin is associated with obesity in offspring and subsequent generations.   The study involved exposing pregnant mice to low doses of the chemical, similar to those found in the environment and in humans.  Tributyltin is used as an antifungal agent in paints, certain products and some consumer products.  Although it has been banned for use in marine hull paints it remains pervasive in the environment and people can be exposed by ingesting TBT contaminated seafood.  After exposure Blumberg et al. observed that the mice children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren had increased body fat, liver fat and fat-specific gene expression in liver and stem cells noting that exposure seems to be transgenerational and thought it to be permanently transmitted to future generations.

**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

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