NEWS SCAN: AAP and food safety rules, peanut plant inspections, MRSA in livestock locales, social marketing to fight disease

Oct 11, 2012

AAP urges Obama administration to release food safety rules
In a letter this week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urged the Obama administration to release major rules called for in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), according to Food Safety News (FSN). The AAP is the latest in a series of groups that have called for action to implement the act, which President Obama signed in January 2011. "As pediatricians, we are keenly aware that children are disproportionately bearing this burden—accounting for an estimated half of foodborne illness cases annually," the AAP said in a letter to White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew and the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Jeffrey Zients, according to the story. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drafted regulations on preventive controls for food processors, produce safety standards, and increased safety oversight for imported foods, but the regulations have been under review at OMB for about 10 months. The delay has stakeholders wondering if the administration is waiting until after the election to avoid accusations of imposing "job-killing" regulations, FSN said. OMB officials have repeatedly said the rules are complicated and the details are being ironed out. The story said the letter is signed by leading pediatricians from renowned hospitals and medical schools, including the Mayo Clinic.
Oct 11 FSN story
FDA FSMA progress reports

Outbreak peanut butter plant had 'objectionable conditions' in '09, '10
The Portales, N.M., peanut butter processing plant tied to a Salmonella outbreak involving at least 35 cases was found by federal inspectors in 2009 and 2010 to have "objectionable conditions," FSN reported today. According to FDA records, the Sunland plant was rated as "voluntary action indicated" in March 2009 and in September 2010. The rating means inspectors found conditions at the plant that warranted voluntary corrective measures but not FDA regulatory action. The conditions were not specified, according to the story, but should be revealed "soon," an FDA spokeswoman said. A Sunland official said the company immediately addressed the inspectors' concerns .The company has recalled 240 products because of the 19-state outbreak, and the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bredeney was isolated from a patient's jar of Sunland peanut butter.
Oct 11 FSN report

Study finds connection between MRSA carriage and living near livestock
Living near livestock can increase the risk of acquiring methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus (MRSA), according to US and Dutch researchers who analyzed patterns of livestock-associated (LA) MRSA patterns in the Netherlands. The findings appeared in Emerging Infectious Diseases. Though LA-MRSA doesn't appear to be readily transmitted person to person and hasn't widely been detected in the United States, it does make up a substantial portion of MRSA cases in countries such as the Netherlands and could pose a risk to farming communities elsewhere, the authors said. When the group compared livestock density, place of residence, and other risk factors, livestock density emerged as an important risk factor for nasal carriage of LA-MRSA in people with and without contact with animals. Living in regions of high cattle density was linked to higher odds of LA-MRSA carriage than was living in areas of high pig or veal calf density. Jan Kluytmans, MD, PhD, study coauthor and professor of medical microbiology at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, said in a Johns Hopkins press release that LA-MRSA was first detected in the Netherlands in 2003 and has increasingly been found in the community in people with no known animal contact. "It is important to determine the routes of transmission outside of the farms since this may have important consequences for public health," he said.
Oct 10 Emerg Infect Dis report
Oct 10 Johns Hopkins press release

ECDC report says 'social marketing' can help prevent infectious diseases
A careful review of existing studies suggests that "social marketing"—the use of behavioral science and commercial marketing techniques to promote social change—can be useful in preventing and controlling infectious diseases, according to a technical report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The ECDC searched the literature and identified five systematic reviews and three individual European interventions that yielded evidence on the effectiveness of social marketing in the infectious-disease realm. "The European evidence is limited, but promsing, with social marketing principles having been successfully applied in hand hygiene and sexual health interventions," the report says. But it says there appears to be "a lack of conceptual clarity" on the definition, purpose, and scope of social marketing. Promotion is the most commonly used component of social marketing, and there is less understanding of other components, such as competitive analysis to identify barriers and the role of segmentation to reach priority groups, the agency said.
Full text of ECDC report (25 pages)

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