NEWS SCAN: Seafood safety guidance, FDA raw milk action, West Nile vaccine

Apr 27, 2011

FDA updates safety guidance for seafood processors
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today released an updated version of its food safety guidance for the seafood industry, titled "Fish and Fishery Products Hazards and Controls Guidance." The document, running 468 pages with appendices, is intended to help seafood processors in preparing their hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) plans. It includes updated information on past-harvest treatment for pathogenic bacteria in shellfish, including Vibrio vulnificus and V parahaemolyticus, the FDA said in a statement. Other changes include revised time and temperature recommendations to better control for scombrotoxin (histamine) formation and pathogenic bacteria, hazard information on additional species of seafood now sold in the United States, and more complete descriptions of potential illnesses and injuries related to seafood hazards. The guidance states that it does not specifically address safe handling practices for consumers or retail establishments, but many of the concepts it contains apply to both. Issuance of the guidance fulfills one of the requirements of the new FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, the agency said.
Apr 27 FDA announcement
Full text of FDA seafood safety guidance

FDA seeks to block raw milk sales at Pennsylvania dairy
The FDA said yesterday that the US Department of Justice has filed a complaint to permanently block a Kinzers, Penn., dairy from distributing its raw milk across state lines, a violation of federal law. The FDA said that its complaint, filed Apr 19, also alleges that the farm's owner, Daniel Allgyer, violated federal law by failing to provide required labeling information on the raw milk containers. Dara A. Corrigan, the FDA's associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, said in a statement that the agency has warned Allgyer multiple times that introducing raw milk into interstate commerce violated federal law. An FDA inspection of the farm uncovered the violations. The FDA said it sent the farmer a warning letter in April 2010, but the farm has continued to break the law. If the US District Court's eastern Pennsylvania district grants the injunction, Allgyer may be prohibited from distributing unpasteurized milk and milk products for human consumption in interstate commerce. In February 2010 a visit to the farm sparked controversy when FDA officials arrived at the farm and Allgyer reportedly declined the inspection, according to an Apr 23 Food Safety News report. The FDA inspectors were briefly detained after state troopers received a call from a truck driver who left the farm and reported that people he did not know were following him.
Apr 26 FDA press release
Apr 23, 2010, Food Safety News report

Researchers use flu virus to create West Nile vaccine
A Dutch research team says it has combined an influenza virus with a component of the West Nile virus (WNV) to make a vaccine that, when tested in mice, generated an immune response against both viruses. The researchers, including academic, public health, and industry scientists, created a recombinant flu virus that expresses domain III of WNV glycoprotein E, according to their report in PLoS One. When they vaccinated mice with it and then exposed them to WNV, most of the mice were protected from severe weight loss and death, whereas control mice that received another flu vaccine died. In addition, the vaccinated mice generated antibodies against flu. "It was concluded that this vector system might be an attractive platform for the development of bivalent WNV-influenza vaccines," the report says. The study was partly funded by the European Union, Virocliniics B.V., and Cytos Biotechnology.
Apr 26 PLoS One report

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