12 January - 20 June 2016

Food safety

4 Dec 13

**Energy drinks found to affect the heart
**Journal asks author of highly criticised GM study to withdraw study
**Mouse found in bag of scampi
**Can eating sushi increase the risk of cardiovascular disease
**EFSA issues urgent advice on plant bacteria Xylella fastidiosa
**Harvesting existing cropland more frequently may increase global food production
**Garlic may reduce contamination risk of C.sakazakki in dry infant formula power
**Chelation compounds may prevent oxidation in white wine
**Phthalate exposure increases preterm birth risk for pregnant women
**Department of Health identifies LA-MRSA in poultry on a farm in East Anglia
**More likely to be murdered than die from a food allergy
**Banned PCBs still affecting seniors health decades later
**EFSA helps investigate the source of hepatitis A outbreaks
**FSA updates warning on OxyElite Pro
**Research call: Effectiveness of surface treatment in reducing microbiological contamination of meat
**Investigating poultry’s probiotic coat and the ability to battle pathogenic bacteria
**Feeding piglets probiotic E.faecium may reduce pathogens
**Animal diseases updates and food poisoning outbreaks
**The Food Safety Network

**Energy drinks found to affect the heart
Scientists from the University of Bonn have reported at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America that energy drinks can cause rapid heart rate, palpitations, and an increase in blood pressure and in severe cases, seizures or sudden death.  Energy drinks contain up to three times more caffeine than other caffeinated beverages. Dörner et al. note that children and those with health conditions should avoid these drinks.  The study included 15 healthy men and three healthy women, with an average age of 27.5 years.  Using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging the scientists examined how the heart functioned before and an hour after a participant consumed an energy drink containing taurine (400mg/100ml) and caffeine (32mg/100ml).  Dörner et al reported that the left ventricle, which is the chamber of the heart that pumps blood around the body, was contracting harder an hour after the energy drink was consumed compared to baseline.  (NHS choices)

RSSL’s Functional Ingredients Laboratory can quantify caffeine in foods and beverages.  For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

**Journal asks author of highly criticised GM study to withdraw study
Food Navigator is reporting that a study which was cited in a previous issue of food e-news may be retracted from the journal in which it was published.  The study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology by Seralini et al drew much criticism, when it linked Monstanto’s GM maize and roundup products to cancer in rats.  According to Food Navigator, the journal wrote to Seralini expressing concerns over the quality of the data, and asked the author to retract the study or it they will withdraw it.  However Serlani et al has responded noting that the method used in the study meet international guidelines, saying they maintain their conclusions. The journal reported that they were also concern about the number of animals used and the strain selected, although Seralini et al notes that the same strain was used by the US national toxicology program to study the carcinogenicity and chronic toxicity of chemicals. 

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

**Mouse found in bag of scampi
Tesco and environmental health officials are investigating a complaint regarding a mouse found inside a sealed bag of Tesco scampi.  The Edinburgh Evening News reports that the scampi was brought from a store in Bathgate.  A Tesco spokeswoman has responded by saying: “We set ourselves very high standards for the safety and quality of our food.  The product has not been returned to store by Mr Ali but we will be assisting the local authority with any investigation they may undertake.”

RSSL’s rapid route to identifying foreign material in food can help you quickly detect production issues or deal promptly with consumer complaints. With proven expertise in foreign body identification and a turnaround time of 5 days, we represent the best value in the food industry. Contact Customer Services on Freefone 0800 243482 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

**Can eating sushi increase the risk of cardiovascular disease
Research published in the Journal of Risk Research has investigated consumption rates and mercury levels of sushi sold in stores and supermarkets in New Jersey, New York City and Chicago, USA.  One thousand, two hundred and eighty nine people reported on their fish and sushi consumption.   The study reports that 92% of participants consumed an average of 5 fish and fish-sushi meals per month and that the top 10% of all participants from across all ethnic groups exceeded the Center for Disease Control Minimal Risk Level and the World Health Organization Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake of methylmercury. Tuna sashimi was found to have the highest mean levels of methylmercury in fish-sushi.  The authors further note that large tuna, such as the Atlantic Bluefin or Bigeye contained the highest mercury levels.  The effects of methylmercury exposure in humans, as a result of excessive fish consumption, can include neurodevelopmental deficits, poorer cognitive performance and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.   The study also notes that higher levels of methylmercury can be detrimental to the positive effects of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of some cancers, incidence of heart disease, blood pressure, stroke, and pre-term delivery.

RSSL's Metals Laboratory can determine the mercury content of food products, including fish and shellfish, to a limit of 20 parts per billion. For more information on metals analysis please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

**EFSA issues urgent advice on plant bacteria Xylella fastidiosa
 The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has concluded that focusing on the trade of plants intended for planting and on the presence of infective insects in plant consignments would be the most effective ways of limiting the spread of the bacteria Xylella fastidiosa that has recently been detected in Southern Italy, the first outbreak of its kind in the European Union. Transmitted by certain types of sap-sucking hopper insects, the bacteria X. fastidiosa, has been identified in the current disease outbreak that has affected 8000 hectares of olive trees in the Puglia region of Southern Italy.  The bacteria can be hosted in a very broad range of plants including almond, peach, plum, apricot, grapevines, citrus, coffee and olive as well as oak, elm, Ginkgo and sunflower.  Importantly, plants can carry the bacteria without showing signs of disease.  X. fastidiosa is regulated as a harmful organism in the European Union (EU), whose introduction into, and spread within, all Member States is banned. (quoted directly)

**Harvesting existing cropland more frequently may increase global food production
A new study from the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota and published in Environmental Research Letters has indicated that harvesting existing cropland more frequently would substantially increase global food production, this is without the need to clear more land for agriculture.  The study examined global harvest trends of 177 crops between 1961 and 2011.  Between 2000 and 2011, the amount of land harvested increased four times faster than the amount of cropland.  The scientists state that this indicates that harvest frequency is increasing.  These findings caused the scientists to question whether existing land could be harvested more frequently, so they introduced a concept called the harvest gap, which is the difference between actual per-year harvest frequency and the maximum potential frequency. Ray et al. suggest that for every two years an extra harvest is being missed globally, due to the presence of this harvest gap, noting that the countries with the biggest harvest gaps were in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Closing harvest gaps would increase crop production and could increase production by over 44%.  The authors do note that deterioration of soil, water and the agricultural land base must be factors to be wary of and increasing cropland harvest frequency could present a short-term gain in crop production, with long-term losses in agricultural yields and environmental conditions.  The researchers state that previous studies have shown the countries are already benefitting from this “introduction of second crops, generally corn following the primary soybean crop, has increased local incomes across economic sectors.”

**Garlic may reduce contamination risk of C.sakazakki in dry infant formula power
A study by scientists from the University of British Columbia and published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology has identified that a trace dose of diallyl sulfide and ajoene derived from garlic can significantly reduce the contamination risk of Cronobacter sakazakii.  C. Sakazakki is a foodborne pathogen that is sometimes present in dry infant formula powder and other fortified foods and is a leading pathogen associated with invasive infection of infants causing meningitis, necrotizing entercolitis and bacteraemia. C. sakazakii infection is rare, however outbreaks have occurred worldwide.  Lu et al. notes that the garlic compounds could also be used to prevent C. sakazakii contamination on food contact surfaces and in every step of food production – from processing, packaging and delivery.  According to Lu, the garlic compounds, which are natural, could be used to clean pipes used in the manufacturing of milk products.  Currently they are cleaned with chemicals including chlorine. 

RSSL's Functional Ingredients Laboratory is willing to discuss with clients the analysis of various health beneficial components in garlic.  For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

**Chelation compounds may prevent oxidation in white wine
 Scientists from Penn State have discovered that adding chelation compounds to wine can help prevents oxidation which can cause a number of bad effects, including discolouration and a loss of aroma.   The additive binds with the metals present in the wine and prevents oxygen, which usually enters the wine through the cork, from reacting with them, particularly iron.  The study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry investigated two types of oxidation states, iron 2 and iron 3 and iron 2 and iron 3 chelators, including bipyridine, Ferrozine, ethylenediaminetertraacetic acid --EDTA -- and phytic acid.  The study reports that ligands of bipyridine, Ferrozine, EDTA and phytic acid bind to the metals, which can inhibit their reaction.    Using white wine made from pinot gris, the scientists analysed concentrations of iron and copper and measured the amount of oxidation that occurred after the chelators were added.  The scientists note that while chelators are safe for consumption, many have yet to be approved.  Phytic acid is a chelator that might be both effective in neutralising oxidation, as well as safe for consumption.

**Phthalate exposure increases preterm birth risk for pregnant women
Findings from the University of Michigan School of Public Health, reported in JAMA Pediatrics, have indicated that exposure for pregnant women to phthalates, found in contaminated food and water and in a variety of products including lotions, perfumes and deodorants, may increase the risk of preterm delivery, defined as fewer than 37 weeks of gestation.  Ferguson et al note that previous studies have reported that exposure to the chemicals can disrupt thyroid hormone levels, and may cause endometriosis and breast cancer.   The current study analysed urine samples for levels of phthalate metabolites from 130 preterm birth and 352 control participants. The scientist concluded by saying: “Our results indicate a significant association between exposure to phthalates during pregnancy and preterm birth, which solidifies prior laboratory and epidemiologic evidence.”

**Department of Health identifies LA-MRSA in poultry on a farm in East Anglia
The Department of Health is reporting that the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) have identified the presence of Livestock-Associated Meticillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (LA-MRSA) in poultry on a farm in East Anglia.  The press release notes that the strain is not the same as those that cause the healthcare associated infections that affect people and that thoroughly cooking the meat will kill any bacteria.  It also states that the risk of catching MRSA from an animal is very low when usual good hygiene is used, although it can potentially pass from animals to humans through direct contact or through dust in animal housing.  This means it could primarily be an occupational risk for those in contact with affected livestock.   Once the birds are slaughtered the owner will need to carry out cleansing and disinfection of the birds’ accommodation to prevent it being passed onto other birds. After cleansing and disinfection has taken place, the AHVLA, on behalf of the Veterinary Medicines Directorates, is planning to revisit the farm to determine whether LA-MRSA is still present and carry out surveillance. 

**More likely to be murdered than die from a food allergy
A study by researchers from Imperial College London and published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy has investigated how common death is from the allergic reaction anaphylaxis.  The study which analysed data from 13 global studies, calculated that for any person with a food allergy the chance of dying from anaphylaxis in one year is 1.81 in a million. The scientists report that one in 10 children have a food allergy however they calculated that the risk of death for children and young people aged 0-19, is 3.25 in a million. Boyle et al compared this to risk of being murdered in Europe which is 11 in a million and of dying from accidental causes which is 324 in a million over a year. They state: “Everyone has heard stories of people who have died suddenly from a severe allergic reaction, and these stories are frightening. But events like this appear to be very rare, and it's helpful to put that risk in perspective.  We don't want to belittle the concerns of people with food allergies or their families, and of course people should continue to take reasonable precautions. That said, we want to reassure them that having a food allergy makes a very small difference to someone's overall risk of death.  Worrying about severe allergic reactions can take a huge toll on someone's quality of life. We should address anxiety and quality of life for food allergic people and their carers rather than just focus on the risk of death."

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.

Remember to book your FREE place on our Roadshow – Allergens in a Nutshell, 4 March 2014, Leeds

**Banned PCBs still affecting seniors health decades later
Researcher Maryse Bouchard from University of Montreal and CHU Sainte-Justine is reporting in Environmental Health Perspectives that although PCBs have been banned in the United States since 1979, there is a significant association between PCB levels and cognitive abilities among individuals aged 70 to 84 years.  This correlation was found to be lower in those aged 60-69 years.  The study recruited 708 Americans who participated in Bouchard’s study.  Blood samples were analysed for levels of the toxin and cognitive performance assessed by memory and motor-skill tasks.  Bouchard states: “Our present findings suggest that PCBs, even at levels generally considered to pose low or no risk, may contribute to cognitive deficits.”  She notes that ageing people are at more risk due to their higher cumulative exposure built up across a lifetime and also how they may be susceptible due to underlying medical conditions.

**EFSA helps investigate the source of hepatitis A outbreaks
EFSA is working closely with the European Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Consumers, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and Member States to help identify the origin of the recent outbreaks of Hepatitis A virus infection in humans. The outbreaks occurred in Italy, Ireland, and the Netherlands. In particular, EFSA will analyse information on the outbreaks provided by Member States. Hepatitis A is an infectious disease that can be transmitted through consumption of contaminated food or water or direct contact with an infectious person.

**FSA updates warning on OxyElite Pro
The FSA is warning people not to consume a food supplement product called VERSA-1. This is in addition to the previous FSA advice not to consume another supplement called OxyElite Pro. VERSA-1 is produced by the same manufacturer of OxyElite Pro, which has been potentially linked to a number of cases of hepatitis in the US.

**Research call: Effectiveness of surface treatment in reducing microbiological contamination of meat
The Food Standards Agency is inviting tenders to carry out research on the effectiveness of surface treatment in reducing microbiological contamination of meat. This project only applies to meat intended for the production of raw or lightly cooked food. The undercooking of meat products, such as burgers and sausages, continues to be a significant concern, particularly for enforcement officers responsible for assessing the safety of practices used by food businesses.  The aim of the project is to examine whether treating the external surfaces of different cuts of beef, lamb and venison with heat and/or organic acids is effective in reducing microbiological contamination.  Applications should be submitted online using the Food Standards Agency electronic Public Procurement System (ePPS) by 5pm on 17 January 2014.

**Investigating poultry’s probiotic coat and the ability to battle pathogenic bacteria
Reporting in the Journal of Biological Chemicals, scientists from the Institute of Food Research have investigated a method to exclude pathogenic bacteria from chickens.  Previous findings have indicated that the probiotic Lactobacillus johnsonii can exclude Clostridium perfringens from the guts of poultry.  The IFR scientists have investigated the bacteria and found that it makes coats for itself which plays an important role in colonisation in this strain.  They discovered that the coat is made up of two types of exopolyasaccharides (EPS), which are long sugar-containing molecules that many bacteria use to encapsulate themselves, helping them deal with environmental stress, aid colonisation or adhesion. Different EPS structures are associated with different bacterial strains.  Genes found in L.Johnsonii have been found to produce EPS.  This provided the researchers with tools to discover how the bacteria synthesise these molecules. 

**Feeding piglets probiotic E.faecium may reduce pathogens
According to German researchers, feeding piglets probiotic Enterococcus faecium reduces the number of potentially pathogenic Escherichia coli strains in their intestines.  The researchers investigated whether probiotics could be used as a substitute for antibiotics, because in 2006 the European Union prohibited the feeding of antibiotics to livestock as growth promoters.  The study by Bednorz et al, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, found that reduction was particularly noticeable in strains that adhere to the intestinal mucosa and less so in the faeces.  They note that extra-intestinal pathogenic E. coli harbour adhesion genes that promote colonisation of the mucosa.  Antimicrobials are thought to promote growth in industrially grown livestock because without them, the rationale goes, in such close quarters, a surfeit of pathogens would slow growth. In previous studies, the working groups from the Institute of Microbiology and Epizootics at Freie Universitat Berlin found that feeding E. faecium probiotic did not change the general swine intestinal microbiota, but reduced infections by Chlamydia spp. and pathogenic E. coli. When comparing piglets fed with E. faecium to those in a control, E.faecium did not influence the overall intestinal E.coli diversity, but inhibited pathogenic E.coli from becoming attached to the intestinal mucosa. (Eurekalert)

**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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