FOOD SAFETY SCAN: FSIS research priorities, turtle-linked Salmonella outbreaks

Dec 7, 2012

FSIS releases food safety research priorities
The US Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) yesterday unveiled a list of research priorities for researchers who are pursuing topics related to the foods that the agency regulates. In a statement, the FSIS said that although it doesn't fund research itself, the list could provide guidance to investigators applying for grants from other funders, such as outside groups and the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Elizabeth Hagen, MD, the USDA's undersecretary for food safety, said in the statement that scientific findings help the agency understand foodborne illnesses and emerging trends. "External research is critical to our public health mission and ultimately serves as another tool at our disposal to protect the food supply for over 300 million Americans," she said. The research priority list contains 22 items, which address topics such as developing new technologies to assist with detection and pathogen characterization. This is the second year that FSIS has identified a list of official research priorities.
Dec 6 FSIS press release
FSIS food safety research priorities

Cases in turtle-linked Salmonella outbreaks rise to 248
Twenty-nine more patients have been infected in six Salmonella outbreaks linked to pet turtles, pushing the number of cases to 248, according to an update yesterday from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The number of affected states remained the same, at 34. So far 41 patients have been hospitalized, an increase of 5 from the CDC's last update on the outbreaks on Oct 19. No deaths have been reported, and the latest illness-onset date was Nov 11. The update yesterday is the CDC's seventh since it first announced the outbreaks on Mar 26. The agency said 68% of the patients are children younger than 10 and about half of the patients are of Hispanic ethnicity. Background information for consumers on the link between reptiles and Salmonella is now available in Spanish, the CDC said. The outbreaks involve Salmonella Sandiego, Ponoma, and Poona strains. The Food and Drug Administration has banned the sale and distribution of small turtles as pets since 1975. About a third of the patients, however, purchased the turtles from street vendors, and 17% bought them from pet stores.
Dec 6 CDC outbreak update

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