12 January - 20 June 2016

Food safety

18 Dec 13

**EFSA assesses potential link between two neonicotinoids and developmental neurotoxicity
**EFSA publishes opinion on carbapenem resistance in food-producing animals and derived food
**Spanish family die from food poisoning after eating out of date fish
**FSA - Research call: Microbial safety of Mechanically Separated Meat (MSM) from poultry and pork **Investigating factors affecting the ability of Salmonella to multiply in post harvest tomatoes
**Man dies after consuming pear juice containing lethal amount of cocaine
**Food allergies found to be more food specific than assumed
**IFST update Information Statement on Cryptosporidium
**Pecan shell extracts may be effective alternative antimicrobials against food pathogens
**FSIS releases plan to prevent illnesses associated with Salmonella
**High-risk babies can be exposed to potential food allergens
**EFSA concludes aspartame is safe at current levels of exposure
**Animal diseases updates and food poisoning outbreaks
**The Food Safety Network

**EFSA assesses potential link between two neonicotinoids and developmental neurotoxicity
EFSA has concluded that two neonicotinoid insecticides - acetamiprid and imidacloprid - may affect the developing human nervous system. Some guidance levels for acceptable exposure to the two neonicotinoids should be lowered while further research is carried out to provide more reliable data on so-called developmental neurotoxicity (DNT). EFSA also calls for the definition of criteria at EU level to trigger submission of mandatory DNT studies as part of the pesticide authorisation process. (quoted directly – EFSA)

**EFSA publishes opinion on carbapenem resistance in food-producing animals and derived food
Carbapenems are antimicrobials used for the treatment of serious infections in humans. Resistance of bacteria to carbapenems poses a public health risk as it could leave few available therapeutic options for patients. To date, only a few studies have reported carbapenem-resistant bacteria in food-producing animals. Experts in EFSA’s Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) have assessed the potential for resistance transmission from animals to humans through the food chain. The scientific opinion also gives recommendation on how to prevent the emergence of resistant bacteria. (quoted directly - EFSA)

**Spanish family die from food poisoning after eating out of date fish
According to the Daily Mail, 3 member of a Spanish family have died and a daughter remains in intensive care after eating out of date supermarket food.  The article reports that the family from Alcala de Guardaira near Seville died from food poisoning after eating contaminated fish.  The father of the family lost his job two years ago and since then the family have consumed out of date food.  The Daily Mail, note that the father was a regular visitor to food stores at closing time, along with other unemployed locals, who took expired products from staff.  The family is reported to be taking legal action against the Andalusian health services, as paramedics were called when the parents and children were ill but decided not to take them to hospital.

**FSA - Research call: Microbial safety of Mechanically Separated Meat (MSM) from poultry and pork
The Food Standards Agency is inviting tenders to carry out a microbial evaluation of poultry and pork Mechanically Separated Meat (MSM) compared with fresh cuts of meat, meat preparations and minced meat products.  Current European Union legislation (Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004) describes two types of MSM. Techniques that do not alter the structure of the bones produce a product informally known as 'Type 1 MSM', where the calcium content is not significantly higher than that of minced meat. All other processes produce a product informally known as 'Type 2 MSM'.  Depending on the precise nature of the raw material used, low pressure processes may produce products classified as 'Type 1 MSM' or as meat preparations. Meat preparations are defined in the legislation as 'fresh meat, including meat that has been reduced to fragments, which has had foodstuffs, seasonings or additives added to it or which has undergone processes insufficient to modify the internal muscle fibre structure of the meat and thus to eliminate the characteristics of fresh meat'. (quoted direct – FSA)

**Investigating factors affecting the ability of Salmonella to multiply in post harvest tomatoes
A study published in PLOS ONE by Marvasi et al has investigated how irrigation levels, fruit water congestion, crop and pathogen genotypes affect the ability of Salmonella to multiply in tomatoes post-harvest.   The researchers infected three tomato varieties grown over three production seasons in two locations with seven strains of Salmonella.  They then investigated the ability of Salmonella to multiply in the post-harvest tomatoes. They report that irrigation did not affect the susceptibility of the crop but   Salmonella was found to grow well in water-congested tissues of green tomatoes.  Red ripe tomatoes were significantly and consistently more conducive to proliferation of Salmonella.  The authors note that tomato maturity and genotype, Salmonella genotype, and inter-seasonal differences were factors affecting proliferation. 

**Man dies after consuming pear juice containing lethal amount of cocaine
A 33 year old employee has died after drinking an imported Caribbean pear juice drink containing a lethal amount of cocaine.  Mr Lewis from Gosport, Hampshire found the bottle of Cold Cole Pear-D on the warehouse floor of the import-export company he worked for.   The drink is manufactured by a company that does not export to UK shops.  The BBC state that the drink was part of an order placed by a third party.  Supt James Fulton states: "It is something which is known as a method that drug-smugglers will use as a way of bypassing border checks. Tragically, it has gone horribly wrong when Mr Lewis has wholly innocently had a drink from this bottle.” They also quote the manufacturers SM Jaleel & Co Ltd as saying: "We can only assume that the product entered the United Kingdom through irregular and unauthorized means and is therefore considered contraband. As a company we are shocked and saddened to see our product abused and used in such a sinister manner."  The Food Standards are carrying out further investigations to find out whether more bottles of the product had been distributed in the UK.

RSSL's Microscopy Laboratory has industry leading expertise in the detection and identification of foreign bodies in a wide range of food and pharmaceutical products. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

**Food allergies found to be more food specific than assumed
According to a study published in the Journal of Investigational Allergology and Clinical Immunology, which includes findings by scientists from Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), the University of Leipzig and the Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, food allergies are much more specific than assumed.  The scientists investigated patients with Nile perch allergy and found that being allergic to Nile perch does not mean that a person is allergic to cod, noting that allergies were identified as being species-specific. Avoidance strategies could therefore be improved to make them more specific.  The calcium binding protein Parvalbumin is a common allergen found in fish and crustaceans, however other substances such as aldehyde dehydrogenases, a group of proteins involved in cell metabolism are suspected of trigging allergies.

RSSL has also successfully validated new methods to test for the presence of fish and molluscs in food products, and can now detect all of the fourteen allergens that must be labelled if present in food products, under the provisions of Directive 2003/89/EC and its amendments. The new tests use externally developed real-time PCR techniques adapted  for commercial use. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

New dates announced for our FREE Roadshow – Allergens in a Nutshell

**IFST update Information Statement on Cryptosporidium
IFST has updated its Information Statement on Cryptosporidium. Cryptosporidium is a genus of parasitic protozoa that can cause cryptosporidiosis, a gastro-intestinal illness in humans, cattle and some other animals. In people, it causes abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea, headaches and fever, but the infection is usually self-limiting and resolves within a few weeks. In immunocompromised patients, the infection can be more serious; it can become prolonged and rarely, fatal as a result of dehydration caused by chronic diarrhoea. These protozoa complete their life cycles in one host and their oocysts (spores) are highly infectious.  The updated information statement reports on what is Cyptosporidium, Crytosporidiosis, outbreaks, detection and water treatment, amongst others.

**Pecan shell extracts may be effective alternative antimicrobials against food pathogens
Researchers from the University of Arkansas have reported that extracts from pecan shells could provide an all-natural, organic, antimicrobial for meat processing.  The scientists report the extract may be effective at protecting meats from Listeria growth.  The study published in the Journal of Food Science tested the antimicrobial potential of solvent free extracts from both unroasted and roasted organic pecan shells.  The extracts were tested against Listeria spp. and L. monocytogenes serotypes to determine the minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) of antimicrobials.  The scientists also tested the extracts using a poultry skin model system. They report that the extracts inhibited Listeria strains at MICs as low as 0.38% and when tested using the poultry skin model exhibited nearly a 2 log reduction of the inoculated cocktail mix of Listeria strains.  The extracts also produced greater than a 4 log reduction of the indigenous spoilage bacteria on the chicken skin. (IFT)

**FSIS releases plan to prevent illnesses associated with Salmonella
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) have released a plan to prevent at least 5,000 illnesses per year associated with Salmonella.  Salmonella is responsible for an estimated 1.3 million illnesses per year.  The agency is reporting that it is concentrating inspectors’ duties entirely on food safety.   The program will improve sampling and testing, and will provide inspectors with tools to find the cause of the problem, allowing them to detect the pathogen earlier before it can cause an outbreak.  According to Food Product Design, critics think FSIS could do more to protect the consumer against Salmonella, including designating the pathogen as an adulterant. 

**High-risk babies can be exposed to potential food allergens
According to a joint statement by the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) and Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (CSACI), babies who are at high-risk of developing a food allergy (those that have a parent or sibling with a food allergy) can be exposed to potential food allergens as early as 6 months of age.  The co-author of the statement Dr Edmond Chan, a paediatric allergist, reports that delayed exposure does not reduce risk.  He notes that when foods are introduced they should be continued to be offered regularly to maintain a child’s tolerance.  The CPS does however advise parents to talk to their physician if they are unsure.

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.

**EFSA concludes aspartame is safe at current levels of exposure
Aspartame and its breakdown products are safe for human consumption at current levels of exposure, EFSA concludes in its first full risk assessment of this sweetener. To carry out its risk assessment, EFSA has undertaken a rigorous review of all available scientific research on aspartame and its breakdown products, including both animal and human studies. “This opinion represents one of the most comprehensive risk assessments of aspartame ever undertaken. It’s a step forward in strengthening consumer confidence in the scientific underpinning of the EU food safety system and the regulation of food additives”, said the Chair of EFSA’s Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Foods (ANS Panel), Dr Alicja Mortensen.

RSSL can determine aspartame and other sweeteners in foods and food ingredients by HPLC. RSSL’s Product and Ingredient Innovation Team division has experience in developing products using aspartame.  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

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