FOOD SAFETY NEWS SCAN: More raw milk Campylobacter cases, missed FSMA deadlines, EHEC genome clues

Feb 7, 2012

Five more sickened in raw milk Campylobacter outbreak
The number of patients sickened in a Campylobacter outbreak linked to a Pennsylvania dairy's raw milk has grown by five, pushing the total so far to 43, according to an e-mail update from the Pennsylvania Department of Health yesterday. All of the newly reported cases are from Pennsylvania, bringing its total to 36. Maryland has confirmed 4 cases, West Virginia 2, and New Jersey 1. The outbreak has been linked to The Family Cow Farm in Chambersburg, Pa. In other developments, inspectors from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) yesterday completed their final inspection, clearing the dairy to resume producing and bottling its raw milk, according to an e-mail from PDA spokeswoman Samantha Elliott Krepps.
Feb 3 CIDRAP News Scan on the outbreak

Watchdog group presses Obama administration on FSMA final rules
The Obama administration is more than 30 days late in meeting several deadlines mandated by last year's FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), food safety watchdog Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) noted today. In a statement, CSPI's Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal noted that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) delivered proposed rules late last year on food safety control for manufacturers and importers and on the safe production of fresh fruits and vegetables to the Office of Management and Budget, where they appear to be stalled. The proposals on produce and food imports carry a statutory deadline of 12 months and should have been finalized by now, she said. She added that until the FDA finalizes rules to describe food safety improvements, FSMA "is a hollow victory for consumers who want safer food." When asked about the status of the rulemaking, Michael Taylor, JD, FDA deputy commissioner for foods, told CIDRAP News, "There's a high level of interest within the administration in getting the rules out as soon as possible. Publishing multiple rules all at the same time can be a bit of a logistical challenge, but we are working expeditiously to get them out there, because they represent a significant step toward building a fundamentally better food safety system."
Feb 7 CSPI statement

Genome study yields possible EU sprout E coli clues
A whole-genome investigation of samples from Europe's Escherichia coli O104:H4 outbreak linked to fenugreek sprout seeds reveals some possible contamination clues, according to a study yesterday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). An international group sequenced and compared samples from 15 patients sickened in the outbreak, 11 from France and 4 from Germany. They found the strains from France were more diverse, and that the strains from German patients appeared to be a subset of the French isolates. The findings suggest a possible bottleneck in the outbreak, such as a disinfection procedure that may have killed some of the strains or passage through a single infected patient, such as a worker at the German sprout farm, according to the study. The group also said the differences could result from uneven diversity in the original shipment of contaminated seeds or different sprout growing conditions linked to the French and German cases.
Feb 6 PNAS abstract
Feb 6 Harvard School of Public Health press release

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