12 January - 20 June 2016

Food safety

25 Sept 13

**FSA Chief Scientist report on science and evidence
**China investigates fruit juice after rotten fruit report
**US food expiration labels are misleading
**Animal are unlikely to be the major source of antibiotic resistant Salmonella in humans
**Good food hygiene is good for business
**FSA - tackling cadmium in crabs
**Child coeliac numbers rising in Scotland
**Antibiotic use in humans and food producing animals causing bacteria to become resistant
**Salmonella outbreak in England and Wales investigated
**E.coli 0157 outbreak: Sainsbury’s recalls watercress
**Animal diseases updates and food poisoning outbreaks
**The Food Safety Network

**FSA Chief Scientist report on science and evidence
The FSA has launched the seventh Annual Report of the Chief Scientist. The report provides an overview of how the Agency has used science and evidence during the past year. The report includes trends of foodborne disease and updates on the Agency’s work to tackle the public health impact of foodborne disease. It also covers a range of other topics including food allergy and food intolerance, modernisation of meat controls, and the horse meat investigation.  Commenting on the report, the FSA's Chief Scientist Andrew Wadge said: 'It shows that while the Agency has been through many changes since it was established in 2000, it has remained true to its founding principle of being science and evidence based. In addition, it demonstrates our commitment to the other core principles on which the Agency was established – openness and transparency, and putting the consumer first.' (quoted directly)

**China investigates fruit juice after rotten fruit report
According to Reuters China’s food safety watchdog is investigating local juice producers after a media report stated that they use rotten fruit to make their products.  The 21st Century Business Herald reported that rotten fruit had been sold to distributors who subsequently sold them onto to canned fruit producers and juice manufacturers to cut costs.   The China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) state that they are deployed food safety team in Anhui, Jiangsu, Shandong and other provinces to carry out further investigations. Huiyuan has been investigated and according to a statement on its website, no evidence has been found to indicate that they have used rotten fruit to make juice.  Reuters state: “The CFDA added Huiyuan's Shandong unit had not produced any juice since the end of last year, while it had not yet found any rotten fruit on site at the company's Beijing branch. It added that there was as yet no evidence of rotten fruit at the Anhui unit of China Haisheng Juice Holdings Co Ltd or at the Jiangsu unit of Yantai North Andre Juice Co Ltd.” 

**US food expiration labels are misleading
Research by the Harvard Law School and the Natural Resources Defence Council is reporting that US food expiration labels are misleading, stating that Americans throw out billions of pounds of food every year because they falsely believe "sell-by" and "best-before" dates on package labels indicate food safety. The scientists note that labelling is inconsistent, stating that the current system is used to help consumers understand freshness, however consumers believe it indicates food safety. University of Minnesota food safety scientist Dr Theodore Labuza said: “If the food looks rotten and smells bad, throw it away, but just because it’s past the date on the package, it doesn’t mean it’s unsafe.”  The authors suggest that “sell by” dates should be invisible to the consumer and that “smart labels” that rely on technology to provide food safety information be used more frequently. The Food Marketing Institute disagrees with this suggestion stating it would make it difficult for store employees to stock shelves. The researchers note that although there is a lack of understanding amongst consumers, there has been no significant difference in incidents of food-borne illness between states such as Massachusetts, which has very strict labelling rules and others such as New York, which is more lax. (Reuters

**Animal are unlikely to be the major source of antibiotic resistant Salmonella in humans
A study published in Science by Mather et al has investigated sequenced DNA samples from 373 humans and animal infected with Salmonella Typhimurium Dt104 over a 22 year period.  They report  that animals are unlikely to be the major source of antibiotic resistant Salmonella in humans.  The genetic profiles of the infections in humans and animal populations living side by side were more different than the team expected. Mather et al states: “Our genomic data reveal how the Salmonella bacteria spread during the course of a long-term epidemic.  We found humans have a more diverse source of infection and antibiotic resistance than just the local animals, pointing towards alternative sources.” The scientists indicate that international travel and imported food may be major sources of antibiotic resistant strains of Salmonella and estimate that the number of times bacteria jumped from animal to humans or the other way round was remarkably low. 

**Good food hygiene is good for business
The Food Standards Agency is encouraging food businesses to make the most of their food hygiene rating to help attract customers. They have produced a toolkit which offers guidance, images, logos and web banners and also an online 'how to' guide. This offers some ideas on how to promote hygiene standards and help increase the number of customers who come through the door or order online by, for example, including the food hygiene rating or 'Pass' on menus and advertising.

**FSA - tackling cadmium in crabs
The Food Standards Agency has organised a working group to look at ways to reduce cadmium levels in brown meat from crabs through different processing methods. The group will develop guidance for the crab processing industry to achieve this reduction of levels.  The FSA commissioned a survey of cadmium in brown meat from crabs and related products to better understand this issue for the UK and to ensure data is up to date. The survey found that cadmium concentrations in these products vary widely. Therefore it is not possible to advise consumers how much brown meat from crabs they can eat.  In the light of this study the FSA will not be changing Government advice on fish and shellfish consumption. 

**Child coeliac numbers rising in Scotland
Research published in the journal Paediatrics has indicated that now coeliac disease affects six times more children living in Scotland than it did in 1990.  The scientists from Edinburgh University and Queen Margaret University examined health records of children under 16 years old who had been newly diagnosed with the condition between 1990 and 2009 and lived in the south east of Scotland. They found the rate of children being newly diagnosed with coeliac disease rose from 1.7 in every 100,000 children in 1990-1994 to 11.8 per 100,000 children in 2005-2009.   The scientists note that the disease is triggered by what doctors call an "infective hit", often a viral infection such as gastroenteritis, causing the immune system to attack the lining of the intestines and is a reaction to foods containing gluten.  The team note a number of possible explanations as to the increase including changing patterns of childhood infection because of ongoing improvements in healthcare, as well as an increase in the incidence of related autoimmune conditions - including coeliac disease and Type 1 diabetes.

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.

**Antibiotic use in humans and food producing animals causing bacteria to become resistant
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published a report “Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States 2013” which has examined the burden and threats posed by antibiotic-resistant germs having the most impact on human health.  The threats are ranked in the categories urgent, serious and concerning, and were assessed according to seven factors associated with resistant infections including health impact, economic impact, how easily it spreads and availability of effective antibiotics amongst others. The reports notes that every year, more than two million people in the United States get infections that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a result.  CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. states in a press release: “Antibiotic resistance is rising for many different pathogens that are threats to health.  If we don’t act now, our medicine cabinet will be empty and we won’t have the antibiotics we need to save lives.” He also notes the cost to the U.S health care systems and that the use of antibiotics is the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance noting that up to 50 percent of all the antibiotics prescribed for people are not needed or are not prescribed appropriately.  This also applies to food-producing animals, in that it is important to use antibiotics in animals responsibly.  Steve Solomon, M.D., director of CDC’s Office of Antimicrobial Resistance states “Every time antibiotics are used in any setting, bacteria evolve by developing resistance.  This process can happen with alarming speed.  These drugs are a precious, limited resource—the more we use antibiotics today, the less likely we are to have effective antibiotics tomorrow.”

**Salmonella outbreak in England and Wales investigated
An outbreak of an unusual type of salmonella infection, Salmonella Typhimurium, across England and Wales is being investigated by Public Health England, Public Health Wales, the FSA and local authority environmental health officers.  A total of 21 confirmed cases in Wales and 36 in England have been reported, with 9 cases known to have required hospitalisation. Other potential cases are being investigated in both countries. Investigations have been carried out into possible links between the cases. Consumption of cooked ham from small independent butchers has been identified as a potential common link to the illness. Testing has been carried out on ham supplied to a number of butchers identified in the investigation. No trace of salmonella has been found, but other hygiene issues were identified that led to one supplier voluntarily withdrawing certain batches of ham. Investigations are on-going.

**E.coli 0157 outbreak: Sainsbury’s recalls watercress
Sainsbury’s is recalling all of its bagged watercress and salads containing watercress as a precautionary measure, due to a possible association with an outbreak of E.coli O157 that has made 19 people ill.  Investigations by the Food Standards Agency, Public Health England and local authorities are continuing and further information will be provided once it becomes available.  Sainsbury's has informed the FSA that it is carrying out testing on all of its affected lines, but that no trace of E.coli O157 has been detected to date. 

**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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