12 January - 20 June 2016

Food safety

12 Feb 14

**Substance in oregano oil could be used in sanitizers along with antimicrobials to kill norovirus
**Oral immunotherapy changes the DNA of a peanut allergic patient’s immune cells
**Our immune response may make us vulnerable to bacteria it is supposed to protect us from
**Controversial scientist claims pesticide more toxic than previously reported
**Food hygiene when eating out tops food safety issues of concern - FSA
**Mice study finds BPA exposure associated with liver cancer in offspring
**Large amounts of choline needed to support foetal development
**Exposing peanut allergic children to small amount of peanut protein may build immunity
**Blumenthal temporarily, voluntarily closes restaurant in Hyde Park after outbreak of norovirus
**Food Standards Agency publishes latest report on industry beef product test results
**Raw milk consultation launched by FSA
**Outbreak of E.coli O157 Scotland possibly linked to burgers
**Animal diseases updates and food poisoning outbreaks
**The Food Safety Network

**Substance in oregano oil could be used in sanitizers along with antimicrobials to kill norovirus
Research published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology is reporting that carvacrol, a substance found in oregano oil, is effective against norovirus.  Bright et al state that the substance breaks down the virus’ outer coat, and has the potential to be used as a food or surface sanitizer alongside other antimicrobials.  Once carvacrol has broken down the protein that surrounds the virus, antimicrobial could enter the internal part and kill it.   Bright et al report that because it is slower acting than many disinfectants it would be best used as part of a routine cleaning regimen to provide long-lasting antimicrobial residue on surfaces.  As carvacrol only act on the external proteins of the virus, the scientists indicate that it would be unlikely that norovirus would ever develop resistance to the substance.  However carvacrol could not be consumed as it is quite unpalatable and could cause a burning sensation and then numbness of the tongue!

**Oral immunotherapy changes the DNA of a peanut allergic patient’s immune cells
A study by researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford and published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology is reporting that using oral immunotherapy for peanut allergy sufferers changes the DNA of the patient’s immune cells.   The paper investigated 20 peanut-allergic children and adults who had completed two years of immunotherapy, enabling them to eat one 4-gram serving of peanuts daily without experiencing a major allergic reaction.  For a 3 month period the patients were asked to stop eating peanuts and then given a small amount of peanut powder to see if their allergy returned.  Thirteen of the patients regained their allergy, while seven did not. The researchers compared the immune cells in the blood of patients from the two groups. Blood samples from peanut-allergic patients who had never received oral immunotherapy were used as a control.  The FOXP3 gene which has previously been reported to be involved in allergies was found to be slightly different in all three groups, with different number of methyl groups attached to the DNA. Patients who maintained their tolerance to peanuts had low levels of DNA methylation at FOXP3, while those who regained their allergy had intermediate levels.

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.

**Our immune response may make us vulnerable to bacteria it is supposed to protect us from
Findings published in the journal Immunity indicate that the immune protein interleukin-22 (IL-22) actually heightens the growth of bacteria, such as salmonella, which causes food poisoning, and restrains the growth of healthy bacteria commonly found in the gut.  Raffatellu et al infected normal mice and mice genetically engineered to lack IL-22, with salmonella.   In normal mice salmonella was found to out compete gut bacteria however in the genetic engineered mice the reverse happened, indicating that IL-22 activity reduces the population of common gut bacterium in favour of salmonella.  The scientists also investigated the effect on mutant salmonella strains, lacking cell membrane proteins, for absorbing iron and zinc from the environment.  Normal salmonella was found to significantly out compete these mutant strains in normal mice but this competitive advantage was reduced in mice lacking IL-22. These findings suggest that salmonella relies on alternative pathways to overcome IL-22's defences and acquire essential metal ion nutrients.

**Controversial scientist claims pesticide more toxic than previously reported
The researcher, Serallini, who published a highly criticised rat study on GM maize, the pesticide Roundup and tumours has published new claims that the chemical is more toxic than advertised.  The previous 2012 paper on GM maize was withdrawn from the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology after his study methods were found to be lacking.  According to the AFP, his new paper, published in the journal Biomed Research International, reports that follow-up tests, this time using human cells, showed that Roundup, and other pesticides that can be bought over the counter, were "between two and 1,000 times more toxic than their main, active ingredient".  According to EurActiv “the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) - whose members include many of the world’s largest pesticides manufacturers, including BASF chemicals, Dow Agrosciences, Monsanto and Syngenta - said the new research paper was not up to sufficient standards of scientific enquiry to contribute to the literature on pesticide safety.  “The testing model used by the authors is inappropriate for drawing any conclusions regarding real life toxicity relevant to humans,” read an ECPA statement.

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

**Food hygiene when eating out tops food safety issues of concern - FSA
The Food Standards Agency has published its results for the Biannual Public Attitudes Tracker for November 2013.   The results represent a sample of 2,509 adults in the UK who were interviewed via the TNS consumer face-to-face omnibus survey.  The survey found that the top three food safety issues of concern were food hygiene when eating out (36%), the use of additives in food (26%), and food poisoning such as salmonella and E.coli (26%).  The top three wider issues of concern were food prices (60%), food waste (50%), and the amount of salt in food (44%).

**Mice study finds BPA exposure associated with liver cancer in offspring
The previous edition of FEN reported on a study that found a link between BPA and prostate cancer. This week a mouse study published in Environmental Health Perspectives has found a significant association between BPA and liver cancer.  The scientists from the University of Michigan School of Public Health found liver tumours in mice exposed to BPA via their mothers during gestation and nursing.  The researchers fed 6-week-old female mice diets containing one of three environmentally relevant doses of BPA, prior to mating, then throughout pregnancy and nursing.  They then followed one male and one female from each litter and followed them through to 10 months.  The higher the dosage of BPA, the more likely that tumours were present.   Mice whose mothers received the highest dosage, 50 mg of BPA per kg diet, were seven times more likely to have tumours than those whose mothers were not exposed to BPA.

**Large amounts of choline needed to support foetal development
Reporting in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a scientist has found that during pregnancy, and particularly during the third trimester, large amounts of choline may be needed to support foetal development.  The study found that choline deficiency in pregnant women may increase levels of homocysteine, which could potentially result in birth defects.  Choline is required to make phosphatidylcholine, a component of all cell membranes.  The scientist evaluated pregnant and non-pregnant women who were all given a controlled diet that provided 380 milligrams/day (mg/d) of choline, primarily from eggs. The women were then randomly assigned to receive choline supplements of 100 or 550 mg/d. The study found that there is an increased foetal demand for phosphatidylcholine during pregnancy, much of it being transferred to the developing foetus. (Eurekalert)

**Exposing peanut allergic children to small amount of peanut protein may build immunity
Treating peanut allergic children aged between 7 and 16 years old with a daily dose of peanut protein, starting with only small amounts, over a four to six month period, may increase intolerance.  The study published in The Lancet and highly cited by the popular press has found that 84% of the group consuming the peanut protein tolerated daily ingestion of 800 mg protein (equivalent to roughly five peanuts).  Andrew Clark, the lead researcher of the study states: “Before treatment children and their parents would check every food label and avoid eating out in restaurants. Now most of the patients in the trial can safely eat at least five whole peanuts. The families involved in this study say that it has changed their lives dramatically."

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.

**Blumenthal temporarily, voluntarily closes restaurant in Hyde Park after outbreak of norovirus
The Daily Mail is reporting that Heston Blumenthal has voluntarily closed his Michelin starred restaurant in Hyde Park, London after an American couple, who ate at the restaurant, were stuck down with norovirus.  Tests have confirmed an outbreak of the illness. Blumenthal reports that the closure might be “rather extreme and over cautious” however he was criticised before for reacting slowly after a similar outbreak occurred at his restaurant The Fat Duck, Berkshire.  The couple, who became sick on their flight back to Denver, ate foods including calf tail and powered duck breast. Blumenthal has apologised to customers at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel when he closed the restaurant on Saturday, after 24 diners and 21 members of staff were taken ill.  According to the Daily Mail, a food website reports that Westminster food safety officers have confirmed there had been an outbreak of the bug and were quoted as saying: “We have asked the restaurant to improve some of its hygiene procedures – including telling staff to wash their hands more often. The changes were made immediately.”

**Food Standards Agency publishes latest report on industry beef product test results

The FSA has published the third quarterly report of industry results from the testing of beef products for horse meat or horse DNA. No results found horse meat/DNA at or above the 1% reporting threshold. The report includes 6,069 new results, of which 3,333 were submitted by ABP Food Group. (quoted directly)

RSSL's DNA and Protein Laboratory uses PCR techniques to identify DNA from over 20 meat species including chicken, pork and beef in protein extracts and other complex ingredients as well as foodstuffs.   Routine meat speciation is also performed using ELISA techniques to detect pork, beef, lamb, poultry and horse (UKAS accredited).  For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

**Raw milk consultation launched by FSA

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published proposals that would continue to allow farmers to sell unpasteurised, or raw, milk to consumers from their farms or at farmers' markets.  In a consultation document the FSA, considers a number of options ranging from removing restrictions on sales through to introducing a requirement for all milk to be pasteurised prior to sale.  The FSA would like to hear from a broad range of stakeholders about its current preferred approach.

**Outbreak of E.coli O157 Scotland possibly linked to burgers
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has issued a statement about an outbreak of E.coli O157 in Scotland. The FSA is working with them, NHS Lothian, NHS Lanarkshire, Health Protection Scotland and Glasgow City Council environmental health, to identify the source. Seven cases of illness have so far been reported.  While there is no conclusive evidence at this stage, initial investigations have indicated that there may be a link to the consumption of burgers at the SSE Hydro venue. Glasgow City Council environmental health are working closely with the vendors to ensure all appropriate food hygiene standards are being met. (FSA – quoted directly)

**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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