12 January - 20 June 2016

Food safety

15 Jan 14

**Which? - Best and worst local authorities for food hygiene
**Minister - British Agriculture will become museum of world farming if GM maize is not approved
**BPA may impair the function of protein in cells
**Peanut consumption in pregnancy does not cause peanut allergy in children
**Scottish Conservatives urge school kitchens to improve food hygiene
**350 sickened in Japan after consuming tainted frozen food
**Scientists discover new compounds which are hundreds of times more mutagenic
**Improper use of biocides in food production may increase risk of bacterial contamination
**New product approved by FDA as a processing aid against Salmonella
**EFSA evaluates molecular typing methods for food-borne pathogens
**Carbapenem resistance in food-producing animals and derived food
**Animal diseases updates and food poisoning outbreaks
**The Food Safety Network

**Which? - Best and worst local authorities for food hygiene
A study by Which?, cited by the popular press, has investigated 395 local authorities, using data obtained from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), on the service they provide to ensure food is safe. The research discovered that more than a third of high and medium-risk food businesses are not complying with food safety rules, with some areas of the UK carrying out no testing for food fraud.   Which? reports that “overall, work around food standards (checking food is what it is claimed to be) dropped by 16.8% from the year to March 2012, to the year to March 2013. And some local authorities are also struggling to ensure businesses comply with hygiene rules.”  They also name the best and worst local authorities for food hygiene, based on the number of premises ranked as high or medium risk which are broadly compliant with food hygiene ratings, how many were yet to receive a rating and the percentage of follow ups that had been carried out by local authority inspectors when poor standards had been uncovered.

RSSL' s DNA and Protein Laboratory uses PCR techniques to detect pork and beef DNA in protein extracts and other complex ingredients. Routine meat speciation can also be carried out using ELISA techniques to detect pork, beef, lamb, poultry and horse. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

FREE RSSL Roadshow - RSSL Roadshow - Food Product Problems, What, Why and How?
25 February 2014, Reading

**Minister - British Agriculture will become museum of world farming if GM maize is not approved
The Telegraph is reporting Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary as saying that EU member states should approve a new strain of GM maize, which is insect-resistant, in a vote later this month.  He notes that approval is needed to prevent British agriculture from becoming the museum of world farming, saying that the European commission has blocked approval of GM crop for political reasons.  The Telegraph quoted Mr Paterson as saying: “Let me be clear, there are other tools in the toolbox. GM is not a panacea. But the longer that Europe continues to close its doors to GM, the greater the risk that the rest of the world will bypass us altogether.”  Sweden and Spain are expected to support the proposal however it is expected that France, Austria, Italy and other countries that have previously banned the growing of GM crops will oppose it.

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

**BPA may impair the function of protein in cells
Findings published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry by researchers from Ruhr-Universität Bochum and the University of Wuppertal have indicated that bisphenol A impairs the function of proteins that are vital for growth processes in cells.  Stoll et al report that BPA found in plastic products may affect small GTPases which are enzymes within the cells.  They occur in two states, in the active form when bound to the GTP molecule; and in the inactive form when bound to GDP, a lower-energy form of GTP. These switch proteins are crucial for transmitting signals with the cell.  The scientists report that BPA binds to two different small GTPases, K-Ras and H-Ras, thereby preventing the exchange of GDP for GTP.

**Peanut consumption in pregnancy does not cause peanut allergy in children
A study published in JAMA Pediatrics has found that peanut and tree nut allergy incidence are lower in children whose mother consumed them during pregnancy.  The study by Young et al from Boston Children’s Hospital note that if a mother isn’t allergic to peanuts there is no reason she should avoid them during pregnancy. The author notes that previously women have been advised not to consume highly allergic food during pregnancy and children should avoid peanuts until 3 years of age, a recommendation endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2000.  From 1997 to 2007 the numbers of cases of peanut allergy have tripled in the US leading experts to re-examine recommendations.  The authors state: “No one can say for sure if the avoidance recommendation for peanuts was related to the rising number of peanut allergies seen in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but one thing is certain: it did not stop the increase. It was clear that a new approach was needed, opening the door for new research.”  The scientists came to these conclusions after they examined data from the Growing up Today study, involving 8205 children. They note that they do not know if eating more peanuts during pregnancy prevents peanut allergy in offspring, but state that peanut consumption in pregnancy does not cause peanut allergy in children. 

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.

FREE Roadshow – Allergens in a Nutshell
4 March 2014, Leeds / 20 March 2014, Schiphol, Netherlands

**Scottish Conservatives urge school kitchens to improve food hygiene
The BBC has reported that data collated by the Scottish Conservatives has found that the FSA issued 23 food hygiene improvement notices last year after inspecting kitchens at school, nurseries and after-school clubs in Scotland.  The worst offenders in terms of food hygiene were found in Glasgow, Highlands and the Scottish Borders.  The article notes that Scottish school kitchens have been ordered to improve food hygiene standards 83 times in the past five years. The Scottish Conservatives are now calling for better standards, noting that councils are responsible for school kitchen hygiene. Conservative education spokeswoman Mary Scanlon is quoted as saying "Parents will be horrified to know their child may have been served a meal from a facility that inspectors saw fit to serve with an improvement notice.  Basic levels of cleanliness should be adhered to across the board and any failure to meet such standards should be addressed as a matter of urgency. One kitchen failing to make the grade is one too many and those in charge of our children should be striving to ensure that all the food given to our children is served from premises that meet the highest possible standards."

**350 sickened in Japan after consuming tainted frozen food
The Guardian is reporting that 350 have become ill in Japan after eating frozen food products produced by Maruha Nichiro which contain high level of pesticides.  The food producer has recalled over 6.4m packages of frozen food.  The police are investigating the cause of the contamination noting that quantities of the pesticide malathion were found to be 2.6m times higher than the allowable limit.

**Scientists discover new compounds which are hundreds of times more mutagenic
Oregon State University researchers have discovered new compounds produced by reactions such as grilling meat, which are hundreds of times more mutagenic than their known carcinogenic parent compounds.  According to the study published in Environmental Science and Technology, the compounds, which were identified in laboratory experiments, were not previously known to exist.  Simonich et al. reports that they don’t know at what levels these compounds may be present at noting that for, technical reasons based on how the mutagenic assays are conducted, these numbers may actually understate the increase in toxicity, stating it could be even higher.

**Improper use of biocides in food production may increase risk of bacterial contamination
A study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology by Capita et al has examined whether exposing Escherichia coli bacteria to sub-lethal concentrations of each of three food-grade biocides could result in greater antibiotic resistance, a greater ability to form damaging and potentially virulent biofilms and survive normally lethal doses of biocides. Biofilms increase the risk of food contamination by providing a reservoir of microorganisms.  It has been reported that approximately 80% of all bacterial infections are associated with biofilms.  The scientists exposed Escherichia coli ATCC 12806 to increasing sub-inhibitory concentrations of three biocides widely used in food industry facilities: trisodium phosphate (TSP), sodium nitrite (SNI) and sodium hypochlorite (SHY).  Exposure to biocide sodium nitrite was reported to have increased resistance to 14 out of 29 antibiotics tested.     E. coli cells were found to acquire tolerance to the biocides, especially sodium nitrate and sodium hypocholorite. Conversely, exposure to the biocide trisodium phosphate actually reduced E. coli's ability to form biofilms, and boosted resistance only to a single antibiotic.

**New product approved by FDA as a processing aid against Salmonella
According to a press release published on PRNewswire, FDA and USDA have approved SALMONELEX as a GRAS (Generally Recognised as Safe) food processing aid against Salmonella.  The product. produced by Micreo’s of The Netherlands, is, according to the article, a natural solution against Salmonella and is documented to only target Salmonella and have no other effect on the treated food product including taste and texture.  It can be applied by spraying topically or adding to chilled tank water.  Micreo’s CEO expects that poultry processors will be the first and largest users of the product. The company notes that they have also been successful with another product called LISTEX used as an aid against Listeria. 

**EFSA evaluates molecular typing methods for food-borne pathogens
Molecular typing methods are laboratory techniques, such as whole genome sequencing, that enable the classification and comparison of strains of disease-causing bacteria. EFSA’s Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) has reviewed the methods for typing the food-borne pathogens Salmonella, Escherichia coli, Listeria and Campylobacter, and has evaluated the effectiveness of these methods for: detecting and identifying food-borne outbreaks; estimating the contribution of various sources to food-borne illnesses; and predicting which strains of food-borne pathogens may potentially cause epidemics. (Quoted directly – EFSA)

**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)

**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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