12 January - 20 June 2016

Food safety

  • NFCU carries out operation targeting illegal sale of DNP
  • Thaw in water, not in the fridge say researchers
  • USP updates food fraud database
  • Most notified food safety risks across the EU published in RASFF annual report
  • Food Standards Scotland launches hotline to high fight food fraud
  • No such thing as the 5 second rule - Bacteria can contaminate instantaneously!
  • E. coli outbreak linked to blue cheese causes child’s death
  • Study finds antibiotic resistant E.coli in supermarket chicken
  • Mouse study finds intestinal bacteria influences food allergies
  • Survey finds three in four don’t know obesity causes cancer

NFCU carries out operation targeting illegal sale of DNP
The National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) and Ards and North Down Borough Council today executed search warrants at two premises in Bangor, County Down in Northern Ireland as part of a proactive criminal investigation targeting the illegal sale of 2,4 dinitrophenol (commonly known as DNP). The Police Service of Northern Ireland was also in attendance. (FSA)

Thaw in water, not in the fridge say researchers
According to a Swedish researcher, the best way to thaw frozen meat and fish is to place them in a sealed bag in cold water. Susanne Ekstedt of the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden says this is the safest and quickest method, as the water conducts heat more efficiently than air and the cold water supresses’ bacterial growth. Ekstedt suggested that this has long been known to the food industry, just not to most people at home. Professor Bjørg Egelandsdal, Norwegian University of Life Sciences agrees and is quoted as saying that there has 'never been any good scientific evidence' behind suggestions that food could be thawed by leaving it in the fridge. A colleague of Egelandsdal at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Per Einar Granum, noted that microwaves aren’t ideal either saying “it’s a little too brutal for the meat”. (Science Nordic)

USP updates food fraud database
The U.S Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) have updated its food fraud database known as FFD 2.0.  The database alerts users to new food fraud incidents and tracks ingredients of concern.  The new version contains incident reports, surveillance records and analytical methods collected from numerous resources.  According to Food Safety News “USP aims to help industry not just comply with requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act but also to protect brands and regain consumer trust shaken by well-publicised incidents of food fraud.” 

RSSL offers a range of services which can help you confirm the authenticity of your ingredient or product:  commodity and speciality oils, species identification, basmati rice, GMO testing and genotyping. For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com

Most notified food safety risks across the EU published in RASFF annual report
The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) have published their 2015 annual report.  Last year the EC received 3049 notifications of food or feed risks via this EU-wide alert system. Seven hundred and seventy five of these concerned a serious health risk although overall there was a 3.4% decrease in original notifications compared with 2015 and a 5% increase in follow up notifications. In 2015, 57 notifications were identified as triggered by a food poisoning event. A sizeable number of notifications were related to allergens, in 13 cases consumers suffered from allergic reactions due to the presence of an allergen that was not indicated on the label. In most cases it concerned egg. Another 13 notifications could be related to elevated histamine levels in tuna. Apart from these, 24 notifications related to pathogenic microorganisms, nine of which identified Salmonella in the food consumed.  With 70 notifications, Escherichia coli was reported significantly less frequently than in 2014, although the report notes that it is unclear what could be the reason for the significantly lower numbers.  Despite a decreasing number of notifications on feed materials, the overall number of notifications on Salmonella increased, due to a high number of notifications for betel leaves (also called paan leaves) from India (78 notifications).  In 2015, the number of RASFF notifications for pesticide residues decreased slightly further to 402. Seven of these notifications concerned feed. The number of notifications for Listeria monocytogenes stayed at the same — high — level as in 2014. The report notes that reporting Listeria in smoked salmon is still frequent, mostly processed in Poland (20) and mainly notified by Italy.  Other product categories often reported for Listeria monocytogenes are cheeses mostly from France (18, most often reported to be made from raw milk) and from Italy (6, gorgonzola).

Allergen Services: We provide a comprehensive range of testing, training and food allergen consultancy services to help you control and manage allergens within manufacturing and retailing. To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

Food Standards Scotland launches hotline to high fight food fraud
Food Standards Scotland and Crimestoppers have launched a telephone hotline to help fight food fraud.  The Food Standards Agency, launched a similar service in June this year.  The hotline and webform are both hosted by Crimestoppers.

No such thing as the 5 second rule - Bacteria can contaminate instantaneously!
Rutgers researchers have disproven the five second rule of that food dropped on the floor but picked up quickly is safe to eat.  Schaffner et al. tested four surfaces (stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet) and four different foods (watermelon, bread, bread and butter, and gummy candy).  The team looked at four different contact times (less than one second, five, 30 and 300 seconds).  Their findings published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology report that watermelon had the most contamination, gummy candy the least. They report that transfer of bacteria from surfaces to food appears to be affected most by moisture.  With regards to surface, carpet was found to have a very low transfer rates compared with those of tile and stainless steel, whereas transfer from wood is more variable.  Longer food contact times were reported to usually report in the transfer of more bacteria from each surface to food.

E. coli outbreak linked to blue cheese causes child’s death
A child has died after being infected with E. coli 0157 linked to blue cheese made with unpasteurised milk.  The outbreak has led to 20 confirmed cases of infection, of which 11 received hospital treatment. Epidemiological investigations identified Dunsyre Blue cheese, produced by Errington Cheese Ltd as the most likely cause of the outbreak, although the cheese maker strongly denies it is responsible. In a statement issued last month on its website, Errington Cheese said: "All our testing, covering a period of almost six months from March 21 to date, is completely clear of E. coli O157.  All authority testing is negative for E.coli O157.” Since the child’s death a further batch of Dunsyre Blue cheese has been precautionary recalled.  (BBC)

Study finds antibiotic resistant E.coli in supermarket chicken
According to a study commissioned by campaign group Save Our Antibiotics and conducted by University of Cambridge’s Dr Mark Holmes, a quarter of chicken samples from retailers were found to contain antibiotic resistant E.coli.  The scientists tested 189 U.K. sourced pork and poultry samples and discovered that 24% of chicken samples analysed tested positive for ESBL E.coli, which is resistant to certain types of antibiotics used in medicine. No pork sample tested positive for ESBL E.coli. The Daily Mail quote Dr Mark Holmes as saying “The levels of resistant E.coli that we have found are worrying. Every time someone falls ill, instead of just getting a food poisoning bug, they might also be getting a bug that is antibiotic resistant.  I am concerned that insufficient resources are being put into the surveillance of antibiotic resistance in farm animals and retail meat. These results highlight the need for improvements in antibiotic stewardship in veterinary medicine."  Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability policy at the British Retail Consortium, told ITV News that retailers have been "very clear" with customers and suppliers that antibiotics must be used responsibly.

Mouse study finds intestinal bacteria influences food allergies
Researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have examined the role microbiota play in the digestive system in the case of food allergies.  The results presented at the convention of the European Society for Dermatological Research (ESDR) suggest the gut flora and the various elements of the immune system are closely interwoven and mutually influence each other.  Biedermann et al.  focused their investigations on a protein called NOD2, which they note is a receptor of the immune system able to "recognise" intestinal bacteria.  They found that when the receptor was absent, the immune reaction changed, so that instead of cells such as regulatory T cells, which suppress an activation of the immune system, a greater number of what are called Th2 helper cells are formed, This causes a larger number of antibody immunoglobulin E (IgE) to be produced.  The team note that in persons suffering from food allergies, the IgE in the body has been "trained" for the corresponding allergens, and stimulates distinct cells to trigger an allergic reaction when it detects the allergen in the intestine, for example. The greater the amount of IgE, the stronger the allergic reaction. The scientists observed these finding using mouse models when NOD2 was absent.  (Eurekalert)

Allergen Services: RSSL provides a comprehensive range of testing, training and food allergen consultancy services to help you control and manage allergens within manufacturing and retailing. To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

Survey finds three in four don’t know obesity causes cancer
According to a new nationwide survey conducted by the Policy Research Centre for Cancer Prevention at Cancer Research UK, three out of four (75 per cent) people in the UK are unaware of the link between obesity and cancer.  The survey found that people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are less likely to know about the link and men are less likely than women to be aware of the increased risk of cancer caused by obesity. The survey also discovered that more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of those asked didn’t know obesity was linked specifically to ovarian cancer. More than two thirds (69 per cent) didn’t know there was a link with breast cancer and more than half (53 per cent) didn’t know pancreatic cancer was linked to obesity.  There was better awareness of the link with bowel cancer with 60 per cent of those surveyed knowing the association and 55 per cent of people linked obesity with liver cancer. A recent report by Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Forum estimated that if current trends of being overweight and obese continued, there would be a further 670,000 cancer cases over the next 20 years. The report also found that the number of obese people would be higher among lower income groups.

share this article
RSSL endeavours to check the veracity of news stories cited in this free e-mail bulletin by referring to the primary source, but cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies in the articles so published. RSSL provides links to other World Wide Web sites as a convenience to users, but cannot be held responsible for the content or availability of these sites. This document may be copied and distributed provided the source is cited as RSSL's Food e-News and the information so distributed is not used for profit.

Previous editions

Load more editions

Make an Enquiry