12 January - 20 June 2016

Food safety

20 Feb 13

**Bfr removes anthraquinone from its recommended list of food packaging
**Contaminants in common brands of cheese - Spain
**Are genetically modified crops overregulated?
**Pesticide exposure and risk of type 2 diabetes
**Drinking large quantities of Coca-Cola was a "substantial factor" in the death of 30 year old woman
**Scientists develop method which makes packaged food safer for consumers
**Specific protein involved in formation of biofilm in Salmonella investigated
**BPA affects male rodents differently than females
**Study finds reducing the U.S sodium intake may save thousands of lives
**Antibiotic resistance genes in manure – China
**Animal diseases updates and food poisoning outbreaks
**The Food Safety Network

**Bfr removes anthraquinone from its recommended list of food packaging
Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BFR) has removed the substance anthraquinone from its recommended list of food packaging.  In 2012 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reassessed the use of anthraquinone in the manufacture of paper intended for food contact.  The EFSA concluded that carcinogenic effects cannot be ruled out for anthraquinone and that the hazard potential for mammals cannot be determined unequivocally.  A maximum residue level for anthraquinone was set at 0.01 mg per kilogramme of food for Europe.  However the Bfr has estimated that anthraquinone contamination from paper and cardboard can exceed the permitted residue limit. They report that they have information on cases where the permitted residue limit value for anthraquinone was exceeded in tea which can be attributed to the anthraquinone levels contained in the paper and cardboard used as packaging materials.  They therefore have withdrawn the use of anthraquinone from their recommendation list of food packaging.

**Contaminants  in common brands of cheese - Spain
A team of researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain have tested 61 common brands of cheese, including 7 organic cheeses in Spain, for levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs).  Findings published in Food and Chemical Toxicology  indicate that except in a few cases chloride contaminant residue levels were low, and in a small amount the 'dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls' (dioxin-like PCBs or DL-PCBs) exceeded EU-established levels. In some samples up to 76 picograms WHO-TEQ/g of cheese fat were detected; the recommended amount states that levels should not exceed 3 pg WHO-TEQ/g.  The study notes that people consuming the most contaminated brands could have an estimated daily intake well above the recommended total daily intake.  The authors indicate that organochloride compounds are transferred to the environment from emissions from industry and in pesticides and eventually end up in the milk of animals. Although PCBs were banned in the 1970, they have survived since then in the environment. Higher concentrations of PCBs were found in the organic cheeses.  The researchers note that they believe that in the next few years the PCBs will gradually disappear from ecological cheeses, "but this is not the case for the pesticides in conventional cheeses unless measures are taken." 

**Are genetically modified crops overregulated?
According to Bruce Chassy, a University of Illinois professor, genetically modified foods are safe and overregulated.   He states that after thousands of research studies and worldwide planting, GM food pose no special risks to consumers or the environment.  At the 2013 meeting of the American Association for Advancement of Science in Boston, Chassy shares his view on overregulation and how this reduces global health and burdens the consumer.  He discusses the advantages of GM noting that they increase yields and profits and decrease labour, energy consumption, pesticide use and greenhouse gas emissions.  He reports that extensive testing costs millions of dollars and can be a lengthy process, wasting resources and diverting attention from “real food safety issues.” Safety evaluations include molecular characterisation, toxicological evaluation, allergenicity assessments, compositional analysis and feeding studies.  (Eurekalert)

RSSL's DNA and Protein Laboratory uses multiple primer sets to enable the detection of all GM soya, maize and rapeseed varieties with turnaround times as short as two days. Real-Time quantitative PCR testing using the most robust and accurate methods available has a detection limit of 0.1% of extracted DNA. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com 

**Pesticide exposure and risk of type 2 diabetes
A study published in Environmental Research, led and conducted at the University of Granada, Spain is reporting a link between pesticide exposure and increased risk of type 2 diabetes in adults, regardless of age, gender and body mass index.  Arrebola et al. measured concentrations of persistent organic pollutants (COPs) in the adipose tissue and blood of 386 adults.  The scientists also conducted face-to-face interviews and analysed clinical records, collecting data on the participant’s lifestyle, dietary habits, and health status. They found that those who had higher concentrations of DDE, a main metabolite in the pesticide DDT, were four times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than other people.   The scientists also report a risk of type 2 diabetes with exposure to β-HCH (beta-Hexachlorocyclohexane), which is present in the pesticide Lindano.  Arrebola states: “human adipose tissue (commonly known as "fat") acts as an energy reservoir and has an important metabolic function. However, adipose tissue can store potentially harmful substances, such as persistent organic pollutants (COPs).  The mechanism of action by which COPs increases the risk of diabetes is still unknown. However, some researchers have suggested that COPs might cause an immunological response when they penetrate estrogen receptors in tissues associated with the metabolism of sugars.”

**Drinking large quantities of Coca-Cola was a "substantial factor" in the death of woman
A coroner is reporting that a 30 year old New Zealander’s death three years ago is linked to the 10 litres of Coca-Cola that she consumed each day.  This amount contains twice the recommended safety amount of caffeine and over 11 times the recommended amount of sugar.  Natasha Harris died from a cardiac arrest and suffered from ill health for years before her death.  Coca-Cola has argued it could not be proved its product contributed to her death.  Coroner David Crerar said her Coca-Cola consumption had given rise to cardiac arrhythmia, a condition when the heart beats too fast or too slow stating: "I find that when all the available evidence is considered, were it not for the consumption of very large quantities of Coke by Natasha Harris, it is unlikely that she would have died when she died and how she died.”  The BBC states that in a statement, Coca Cola said: "The coroner acknowledged that he could not be certain what caused Ms Harris' heart attack.  Therefore we are disappointed that the coroner has chosen to focus on the combination of Ms Harris' excessive consumption of Coca-Cola, together with other health and lifestyle factors, as the probable cause of her death.  This is contrary to the evidence that showed the experts could not agree on the most likely cause."

**Scientists develop method which makes packaged food safer for consumers
Scientists from the University of Glasgow have developed a method which temporarily turns some of the oxygen inside sealed packaging into ozone, an effective germicide.  The method makes packaged food safer for consumers and extends its shelf life.  The prototype system by Dr Declan Diver and Dr Hugh Potts involves using a retractable device which when held next to the surface of the plastic or glass packaging turns the oxygen molecules inside into ozone.  After a couple of hours the ozone returns to its original state, which is enough time to destroy any bacteria, mould or fungi on the packaging contents without affecting the products taste, and leaving any dangerous residues.

**BPA affects male rodents differently than females
A rodent study published in PLOS ONE by scientists from the University of Missouri’s Bond Life Sciences Center has investigated the effects of prenatal exposure to Bisphenol A on later reproductive associated behaviour.  Rosenfold et al carried out a series of experiments on the animals and found that the BPA exposed females had reduced exploratory behaviour, noting that this is essential for them to forage to provide nutritional support to their offspring.  Males were found to have reduced territorial marketing, stating that this is essential for them to defend a home range and their mate. Rosenfeld states “What we have observed in these models is that BPA affects male rodents differently to females. Risk assessment studies examining the impacts of BPA in humans could be more accurate if they took sex into account when monitoring for changes in children’s behavioural patterns.”

**Study finds reducing the U.S sodium intake may save thousands of lives
According to a study in the journal Hypertension, reducing sodium in the US diet could prevent 280,000 to 500,000 lives being lost over 10 years.  Coxson et al used 3 different approaches to model the effect of sodium reduction in the US population over the next 10 years.  The three research groups used either evidence for direct effects on cardiovascular disease mortality, indirect effects mediated by blood pressure changes as observed in randomised controlled trials of anti-hypertension medications, or epidemiological studies. Each approach investigated the effects of small reductions of around 5 percent of a teaspoon annual reduction of sodium in the US diet. Coxon et al. reduced sodium consumption by 40% to around 2,200 mg/day over 10 years and found that this gradual reduction saved thousands of lives, noting that about 60 percent more deaths could be averted over this time period if these same reductions could be achieved more quickly (500,000 to 850,000 lives).  Coxson states: "The research groups used the same target populations and baseline death rates for each projection, and our study found that the different sources of evidence for the cardiovascular effects of sodium led to similar projected outcomes.” 

**Antibiotic resistance genes in manure – China
A study led by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Science is reporting that China and other countries that use antibiotics in animal production do not monitor the usage of antibiotics and the impact on the environment.  Tiedje et al found 149 unique antibiotic resistance genes in manure on some Chinese commercial pig farms.  These antibiotic resistance genes effectively reduce the antibiotics ability to treat disease and were found at levels ranging from 192 to 28000 times higher than control samples.  The scientists note that antibiotics in China are weakly regulated, and the country uses four times more antibiotics for veterinary use than in the United States.  As the antibiotics are poorly absorbed, some ends up in manure, which is often used as a fertiliser compost and can spread to rivers and ground waters taking ARGs with them.  The researchers note that ARGs can be spread via international trade and recreational travel.  They state that these genes become highly mobile and could be transferred to other bacteria which can cause illness in humans.  Tiedje et al notes that the general population can be affected with ARGS through food crops, drinking water and interaction with farm working, causing a risk to human health. 

**Specific protein involved in formation of biofilm in Salmonella investigated
Violeta Zorraquno-Salvo has investigated a specific protein type called c-di-GMP which has been found to activate the formation of biofilm in Salmonella and hamper motility.  In her PhD thesis, Zorraquino-Salvo states: “This molecule is part of a signal transduction system: there are different sensory membranes on the membrane of the bacteria that pick up stimuli from the outside and transduce them into different intracellular levels of c-di-GMP, thus regulating different biological processes like biofilm formation. We created a mutant Salmonella incapable of picking up stimuli from the medium in which it lives and therefore of producing biofilm under any circumstances. After that, each sensory protein was inserted one by one to be able to analyse, under different ambient conditions, how each one contributed to the formation of biofilm. We showed that under each condition tested only some proteins are active, so each one is most likely responsible for the formation of biofilm when a given condition is present."  The second part of her research focussed on studying the effect of the same molecule (c-di-GMP) in another of Salmonella's biological processes:bacterial motility.  "There is an intervening step -- between being motile and sticking to a surface -- in which the bacterium has to stop the rotation of its flagella completely. We have discovered what is responsible for this intervening step: cellulose, which is a component of biofilm, and the synthesis of which is activated in the presence of the c-di-GMP molecule." (Science Daily)

**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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