12 January - 20 June 2016

Food safety

29 Jan 14

**Could a toxin produced by foodborne bacteria trigger multiple sclerosis?
**IFST releases latest information on BSE
**Exposure to pyrethroid pesticides results in smaller worker bees
**By-product of DDT pesticide linked to Alzheimer’s disease
**New method to detect genetic modification in food
**Plant virus could be passed to honeybees
**The effect of climate change on tea
**Mice study finds a link between foetal BPA exposure and prostate cancer
**”Energy drinks do as much harms as drug” – should they be banned from schools?
**More cases of bird flu in China
**Animal diseases updates and food poisoning outbreaks
**The Food Safety Network

**Could a toxin produced by foodborne bacteria trigger multiple sclerosis?
Research presented at the 2014 ASM Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research Meeting by scientists from Weill Cornell Medical College have added to the previous studies which have reported that multiple sclerosis may be triggered by a toxin produced by common foodborne bacteria.  Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system characterised by blood brain (BBB) permeability and demyelination, a process in which the insulating myelin sheaths of neurons are damaged.  The scientists report that epsilon toxin produced by certain strains of Clostridium perfringens, a spore-forming bacterium, may cause BBB permeability and kill the brain's myelin producing cells, oligodendrocytes; the same cells that die in MS lesions.  Linden et al studied the behaviour of the toxin in mice, and analysed the cells it targeted.  The toxin targeted the brain endothelium cells and oligodendrocytes and also killed meningeal cells, which they state could be a possible explanation for meningeal inflammation and subpial cortical lesions found in MS patients. (American Society of Microbiology)

**IFST releases latest information on BSE
IFST has released a peer-reviewed information statement on BSE which summarises the authoritative and impartial science behind Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), focusing on BSE and CJD including transmission, prions, methods for analysis and detection, and industry guidance. 

** Exposure to pyrethroid pesticides results in smaller worker bees
A study by researchers from Royal Holloway University of London and published in the Journal of Applied Ecology has found that worker bees exposed to a pyrethroid pesticide grow less and reduce the size of individual bees produced by a colony.  The scientists worked with colonies of bumblebees in their laboratory and exposing half of them to a pyrethroid pesticide.  Over a four month period the size and weight of the bees was recorded and the number of queens and male bees produced by the colony was monitored.  The researchers found the pesticide caused the bees to be smaller in size, which they note is a concern, as the size of workers is important to colony success, smaller bees are less efficient at collecting nectar and pollen from flowers.  The study notes that given the current EU moratorium on the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides, the use of other classes of pesticide, including pyrethroids, is likely to increase. (Eurekalert)

**By-product of DDT pesticide linked to Alzheimer’s disease
Scientists from Rutgers University are reporting in JAMA Neurology that DDT, a banned synthetic pesticide in the United States, but still used in other countries, may increase the risk and severity of Alzheimer’s disease in some people, especially those aged over 60 years old.  The scientists report that DDT breaks down into the compound DDE, and higher levels of DDE were found in the blood of patients with late-onset Alzheimer’s compared to those without the disease.  Over the last three decades the levels of DDT and DDE have decreased significantly in the US, however the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still found the pesticide in 70 to 80% blood samples collected for a national health and nutrition survey. (Science Codex)

**New method to detect genetic modification in food
Scientists have reported in ACS' journal Analytical Chemistry, a new method to detect genetic modifications using a single test. Yang et al. developed a test called “MACRO” which stands for multiplex amplification on a chip with readout on an oligo microarray. It combines two well-known genetic methods to flag about 97 percent of known commercialised modifications, almost twice as many as other tests. It can also be easily expanded to include future genetically modified crops.

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

**Plant virus is passed to honeybees
Research published in mBio has found that a virus which infects plants could be passed to honeybees.  The researchers from the US and China detected during routine screening of bees Tobacco Ringspot Virus or TRSV.  Ji Lian Li states: “The results of our study provide the first evidence that honeybees exposed to virus-contaminated pollen can also be infected and that the infection becomes widespread in their bodies.”  The scientists report that 5% of known plant viruses are pollen-transmitted and are a potential source of host jumping viruses.  Viruses such as TRSV generate a flood of variant copies with differing infective properties.  Li et al. classified bee colonies with TRSV and other viruses as weak colonies.  Those with high levels of multiple viral infections were found to begin failing in late fall and perishing before February, whereas those colonies with fewer viral assaults survived the entire cold winter months. (EurekAlert)

**The effect of climate change on tea
A four year study headed by Tuft University biologist Colin Orians and funded by the National Science Foundation will investigate climate change and how it is affecting the cultivation of tea in China.  It notes that changes in temperature and rainfall may affect concentrations of chemical compounds, which can influence the taste, aroma and potential health benefits of the tea.  The researchers note that “People buy and drink tea for certain qualities. If those qualities are not there, then they may not buy the tea."  The study will investigate the concentrations of tea's key chemicals and how tea drinkers respond to teas of diminished quality.  The findings are expected to help scientists and growers understand climate change’s effects. Orians states: “After gaining a picture of how climate change is adversely affecting tea production and gauging consumer response, we hope to be able to develop new possibilities for adapting tea production to a changing climate." (Science Daily)

**Mice study finds a link between foetal BPA exposure and prostate cancer
A study published in the journal Endocrinology has reported that foetal exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) can increase the risk of prostate cancer later in life.  Previous mice research has found BPA mimics the hormone oestrogen which can cause cancer.  Prins et al from the University of Illinois at Chicago, analysed the effect of BPA on human cells. Human prostate stem cells from decreased young-adult men were implanted into mice that were fed BPA for two weeks.  The proportions used were similar to those found in pregnant American women.  After a month, the tissue had matured and the mice were given oestrogen, a known driver of prostate cancer, to mimic that found in ageing men. At two to four months the tissue was analysed for prostate cancer.  A third of the tissue samples from BPA fed mice were found to have pre-cancerous lesions or prostate cancer compared to 12% from the control groups.  Forty five per cent of prostate cancer cells exposed to BPA, without implantation were also found to have pre-cancerous lesions or cancer.

**”Energy drinks do as much harms as drug” – should they be banned from schools?
The Government advisor John Vincent has said that energy drinks are as harmful as drugs and should be banned from schools.  Energy drinks contain around 160 mg caffeine. He states that “The amount of sugar and caffeine in these drinks is in our view effectively allowing drugs into schools.  We don’t do that and neither do we think that should be part of school life. It has a hugely damaging effect on their ability to concentrate, how they feel and it is having health effects.”  Mr Vincent was recruited as part of a team by the government to improve the nutrition of meals served to youngsters. The government advisor states that the sugar and caffeine in the drinks can cause children to become hyperactive and difficult to control. The Daily Mail reports that: “manufacturers and retailers have a voluntary ban on the sale of the drinks to under-16s, but there is no law to stop children buying them.”  The Food Standards Agency advises that children limit their intake of drinks that are high in caffeine. A spokesman added that consuming the drinks “could potentially lead to short-term effects such as increased excitability, irritability, nervousness or anxiety.”

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

**More cases of bird flu in China
The World Health Organisation has announced that in recent days an additional 23 people in China have been infected with the H7N9 strain of bird flu, adding to 24 from last week.  Reuters report that many of these new patients were either in a serious or critical condition in hospital, however the source of the infection is yet to be discovered. The WHO's China office states:  “Given the population movement prior to Chinese New Year and potentially unpredictable behaviour of influenza viruses, continued vigilance and close monitoring are needed.”  It advises people "to continue to practice good hygiene and handle food properly" but did not recommend any travel or trade restrictions.

**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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