NEWS SCAN: No answers in E coli probe, NIH biodefense grant

Jun 26, 2009

Nestle: So far no E coli in dough samples
A Nestle spokeswoman told CIDRAP News today that the multistate outbreak strain of Escherichia coli O157: H7 has not been found so far in any of the company's refrigerated cookie dough products. Roz O'Hearn, the spokeswoman, said FDA investigators were still at the Danville, Va., plant and that the company is fully cooperating with the probe. She said the company and federal officials have a difficult task defining what products might be contaminated, because the voluntary recall covers so many dough varieties, product sizes, and production dates. Nestle said earlier this week that investigators were also testing the plant's equipment, water, and air handling systems. The Wall Street Journal reported today that, according to FDA inspection reports, Nestle refused to turn certain records—such as pest-control documents and consumer complaints—over to the agency during routine inspections. In a statement today, Nestle said it gave the FDA all of the information required by law in the September 2006 inspection, which it called a standard industry practice. Nestle also said no food safety issues were identified in that inspection. In other developments, the CDC said yesterday that the E coli outbreak involves 69 cases in 29 states—one fewer case and state than reported on Jun 22. A case from Hawaii is no longer included in the total.
[Jun 26 Wall Street Journal report]
[Jun 26 Nestle statement]
[Jun 25 CDC outbreak update]

Biodefense consortium receives $37 million NIH grant extension
Washington University in St Louis recently announced that the National Institutes of Health extended funding—a 5-year, $37 million grant—for the Midwest Regional Center for Excellence in Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, headquartered at the institution's medical school. The center's areas of study include (1) innate immunity against biological assaults and (2) West Nile virus and poxviruses. The center is a consortium that includes eight other midwestern institutions and collaboration activities in Africa and China.
[Jun 24 Washington University press release]

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