12 January - 20 June 2016

Food safety

  • How Salmonella turns the body against itself
  • Takeaway workers found guilty of manslaughter over nut allergy death of teenager
  • Multi-country outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes linked to consumption of salmon products
  • German jailed for attempted murder after poisoning baby and adult food with ethylene glycol
  • Advice published on cooking raw meat following rise in Salmonella Typhimurium
  • A third of dishes listed as gluten free on US restaurant menu actually contained trace levels
  • Will food products be contaminated with more foreign bodies after Brexit?
  • IFST update their information statement of 3-MCPD

How Salmonella turns the body against itself
A study by US researchers, published in PLOS ONE, has investigated how Salmonella makes us ill. The US CDC estimates Salmonella sickens one in six Americans each year, some cases being fatal and it has been thought that Salmonella is able to turn the body’s defence mechanism to it advantage. The current study attempts to explain how this happens. Usually, the body produces cells called neutrophils when bacteria is detected. These cells generate hydrogen peroxide to kill the invaders. Salmonella however is immune to hydrogen peroxide and can actually increase the amount produced by the neutrophils. One of the researchers, Assistant Professor Johanna Elfenbein is quoted as saying that “Salmonella benefits from the presence of additional hydrogen peroxide because the peroxide kills the neighboring bacteria inside the intestine, removing competition for food and space to live. We already knew this exploit, but we wanted to understand how Salmonella induces peroxide production." Elfenbein et al. found that Salmonella's ability to move to the intestinal cell wall and the type-3 secretion system-1 (TTSS-1) work together to create more peroxide. TTSS-1 allows bacteria to inject proteins in to cells to make them behave as the bacteria wants. Salmonella does this to make the neutrophils create more peroxide. Elfenbein added that “TTSS-1 is already a well-described process. What we're interested in is looking at the body's response to infection, with an eye toward creating standard, infection-relevant methodology when studying this pathogen. This work shows the link between motility, TTSS-1 and increased peroxide production. Both of these processes are working together to influence how much hydrogen peroxide is produced." (Medical Xpress)

Takeaway workers found guilty of manslaughter over nut allergy death of teenager
Two employees from Royal Spice Takeaway in Oswaldtwistle, Lancaster have been found guilty of manslaughter after Megan Lee, a 15 year old with a nut allergy, died from eating a seekh kebab and naan.  The food had been ordered online through Just Eat.  The restaurant had been notified of the allergy thorough a comment box on the website. However after consuming the seekh kebab and naan, Megan had an immediate reaction and died on the 1 January 2017 after suffering irreversible brain damage. Both Mohammed Abdul Kuddus, 40, the takeaway’s owner, and Harun Rashid, 38 were found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence. The pair had denied the charges. The Guardian report that “Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said staff paid no attention to the entry and served a meal including an onion bhaji, a peshwari naan and a seekh kebab, which tests later showed had the “widespread presence” of peanut protein.” The Guardian notes that Local trading standards and environmental health officers inspected the takeaway on 6 January and immediately closed it.  Peter Wright QC, reports at the trial that “there were no procedures in place in relation to allergen management and no audit of their available dishes or written records of their recipes was either made or kept.”

RSSL can provide you with a complete food allergen management solution. We provide a comprehensive range of analysistraining and food allergen consultancy services to help you control and manage allergens within food manufacturing and retailing. To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

Multi-country outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes linked to consumption of salmon products
Ready-to-eat salmon products, such as cold-smoked and marinated salmon, are the likely source of an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes that has affected Denmark, Germany and France since 2015. EFSA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) used whole genome sequencing to identify the multi-country outbreak. By 8 October 2018, 12 cases including four deaths had been reported in the affected countries. (EFSA – quoted directly)

German jailed for attempted murder after poisoning baby and adult food with ethylene glycol
A 54 year old man, who contaminated adult and baby food in Germany, has been sentenced to 12-and-a-half years in prison for attempted murder and extortion. According to local media the man had contaminated the food with ethylene glycol, an odourless toxic liquid used in antifreeze, and was placing the poisoned jars of food in supermarkets. The man blackmailed retailers warning them that food would be poisoned throughout Europe unless he received almost €12m ($13m; £10m).  The amount of ethylene glycol used was enough to kill a child.  Several products were tested and were found to contain traces of the toxin.  The amounts found were large enough to justify finding the man guilty of five counts of attempted murder. (BBC)

Advice published on cooking raw meat following rise in Salmonella Typhimurium
Food Standards Agency along with Food Standards Scotland, Public Health England and Health Protection Scotland are reminding people to take care when handling raw meat and to cook it properly. This advice has been published after there has been a rise in cases of a particular strain of Salmonella Typhimurium which has been linked to lamb and mutton. The increase in cases of this particular type of salmonella was first seen July 2017. A number of control measures were put into place which led to a significant decline in cases at the end of that year. A total of 118 cases were reported up until May 2018. Since June 2018, a further 165 cases have been reported (up to 19 October), which led to putting control measures in place. This hasn't led to the same decline in cases as in 2017 and the public are now being reminded about how to cook and handle raw meat.

A third of dishes listed as gluten-free on US restaurant menu actually contained trace levels
Preliminary research has found a third of dishes listed as gluten-free on US restaurant menu actually contained trace levels.  Lebwohl et al. state “some establishments do a better job than others at preventing cross-contamination." They report that over half of all gluten-free pastas and pizzas actually contained gluten.  The team suggest that cross contamination may have occurred if the gluten-free pizza shared an oven with gluten containing pizza and also indicate that gluten-free pasta may have been contaminated if it was prepared using the same water as gluten containing pasta.  The authors report that the US FDA regulate packaged foods however there is no federal oversight of gluten-free claims in restaurants.  Using portable gluten sensors, they tested dishes for gluten levels that met or exceeded 20 parts per millions.  Over 18 months 5600 tests were carried out, with the investigators finding that 27% of gluten-free breakfast meals actually contained gluten, with this rising to 34% for dinner time. The team notes that showed a gradual increase as the day unfolded. Results of the study will be presented at the meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology, in Philadelphia. Research presented at meetings is usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. (Medical Xpress)

RSSL can provide you with a complete food allergen management solution. We provide a comprehensive range of analysistraining and food allergen consultancy services to help you control and manage allergens within food manufacturing and retailing. To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

Will food products be contaminated with more foreign bodies after Brexit?
According to an article in the Independent, “MPs told Business Insider they are worried that a UK-US trade deal designed by Brexiteers could open the floodgates to contaminated food.” The article reports that a Defect levels handbook, which is used by US producers, documents maximum foreign bodies allowed in food products, for example 30 insect fragments are acceptable in a 100g jar of peanut butter; as well as 11 rodent hairs in a 25g container of paprika or 3mg of mammalian excreta per each pound of ginger.  Whiles Trade Secretary Liam Fox is noted in the Independent as stating that the UK will not lower its food standards after Brexit, changing standards have not been ruled out in order to obtain better trade deals from around the world.  A spokesperson for the Department for International Trade has stated that “we have been clear we will not lower food, animal welfare or environmental standards as part of any free trade agreement.  To suggest otherwise is completely false.  Maintaining them is the right thing to do for our consumers and maintains the UK’s world-renowned reputation for high-quality products.”

RSSL’s Emergency Response Service (ERS) helps customers deal with a wide range of product emergencies and offers advice on crisis management. It operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, providing access to scientists who can help identify the problem and provide solutions.  To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

RSSL provides a quick, accurate and authoritative identification of foreign material and detection of physical contaminants in food.  To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

IFST update their information statement of 3-MCPD
IFST have updated their information statement on 3-MCPD.  The information statement provides an overview on 3-MCPD, 3-MCPD Esters and Glycidyl Esters, covering their formation and occurrence in foods, public health significance, legislation, methods of detection, and industry good practices.  3-MCPD and its esters can be formed in heat processed fat-containing foods whereas glycidyl fatty acid esters are processing induced contaminants primarily found in refined fats and oils and foods containing them.

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