Study findings could help develop E. coli treatment

Research by scientists in Australia could help open up new possibilities to treat enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) infections.

University of New South Wales (UNSW) microbiologists discovered a molecular pathway that controls Shiga toxin production. The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

EHEC is a foodborne pathogen that releases Shiga toxins during infection and can result in a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. It is also known as Shiga toxin producing E. coli (STEC). Children younger than five years of age and older people are at highest risk of developing infections.

Antibiotics not recommended
Jai Tree, senior author of the study, said findings were important because there is no commercially available treatment for EHEC infections.

“Antibiotic treatment of these infections is generally not recommended because antibiotics stimulate production of the Shiga toxin, leading to an increased risk of kidney failure, … Read more

Frozen doesn’t mean thaw and eat; dangers lurk in the freezer

New research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reveals that consumers may not know how to safely cook frozen foods, which can put families at risk of getting foodborne illness in their homes.

“As consumers are preparing more meals at home, it is important that these cooks are practicing food safety in their kitchens” says Mindy Brashears, USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety. “Our research shows that home cooks should read product labels to understand how to properly prepare an item, and not rely solely on appearance.”

Consumers may not know that some frozen foods are not fully cooked or ready to eat, especially if they have browned breading, grill marks or other signs that normally show that a product has been cooked. In a recent USDA study, 22 percent of participants said a not-ready-to-eat frozen chicken entrée was either cooked, partially cooked, or they weren’t sure that the … Read more

Outbreaks down but illnesses up for Denmark

The number of foodborne outbreaks was down but the amount of people falling sick was up in Denmark in 2019 compared to the year before.

This past year, 51 outbreaks were reported with 1,929 patients. Eighteen of the outbreaks were national events, of which four were part of international incidents. The most frequent setting was restaurants with 15 outbreaks affecting 534 people.

In 2018, 1,600 people were affected by 64 outbreaks. Norovirus remained the most frequent cause of foodborne outbreaks.

Large outbreaks
In 2019, Clostridium perfringens was associated with 10 outbreaks affecting 551 people compared to five in 2018 affecting 107 people. Incidents involving Clostridium perfringens are usually caused by insufficient cooling of large portions of food, like meat sauces and sous vide or slow roasted meats.

The largest outbreak, involving 268 people, was caused by insufficient cooling of minced meat sauce packed with other items into chilled ready-to-heat … Read more

Guilty pleas lead to January 2021 sentencing date in the ‘Choice’ turned into ‘Prime’ beef scheme

Howard Mora and Alan Buxbaum, co-owners of Stein Meat Products Inc. in Brooklyn, NY, are scheduled to be sentenced next year after recently entering  guilty pleas for a scheme to turn “Choice” beef into “Prime.”

Mora, 68, and Buxbaum, 66, must appear for sentencing at 11 a.m., Jan. 7, 2021, in federal court in Brooklyn before Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto. The judge earlier this week accepted their guilty pleas. 

 Each entered a guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud by using counterfeit U.S. Department of Agriculture stamps to sell misbranded lower quality beef at inflated prices to consumers. At sentencing, each defendant faces up to 20 years in prison and criminal forfeiture of $250,000.

Mora and Buxbaum were originally indicted by a grand jury in September 2019. The defendants were both released on $250,000 appearance bonds with some restrictions on their travel. Judge Matsumoto granted most Read more

FDA action on ‘high risk’ foods settles lawsuit brought by Center for Food Safety

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this week issued a proposed rule naming certain high-risk foods, it also settled a 2018 lawsuit with the Center for Food Safety that requires FDA to meet deadlines and reporting requirements as mandated by the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

FDA’s proposed rule establishing additional traceability record keeping requirements for certain high-risk foods such as leafy greens, freshcut fruits and vegetables, some types of fish, shell eggs, nut butter and others was accepted by CFS as settlement. 

“We are pleased FDA has now released this important rule, as required by the Court order and settlement in our litigation to compel compliance with FSMA,”said Ryan Talbott, CFS staff attorney. “It should not have taken litigation for FDA to publish this proposed rule but now that it is out, we will be analyzing the merits of the proposal closely and continue to … Read more