USDA to require labeling of mechanically tenderized beef
Mechanically tenderized beef will need to be so labeled by May 2016, the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.
The new labeling requirements cover raw or partially cooked beef products, the FSIS said in a statement.
"This commonsense change will lead to safer meals and fewer foodborne illnesses," said USDA Deputy Undersecretary Al Almanza.
Some cuts of beef are tenderized mechanically by piercing them with needles or small blades in order to break up tissue. But the process can introduce pathogens from the surface of the cut to the interior, making proper cooking very important.
The potential presence of pathogens in the interior of these products means they should be cooked differently than intact cuts, the statements said. "FSIS is finalizing these new labeling requirements because mechanically tenderized products look no different than intact product, but it is important for consumers to know that they need to handle them differently," the agency said.
Labels must include not only that the meat was mechanically tenderized, but validated cooking instructions as well, including minimum internal temperature, the FSIS said. Since 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received reports of six outbreaks attributable to needle- or blade-tenderized beef products, the statement said.
May 13 FSIS statement
May 13 Federal Register notice
H1N1v case reported in Ohio
A person in Ohio was fatally infected with a variant H1N1 influenza strain (H1N1v), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in its weekly FluView update late last week.
The patient worked at a livestock facility that housed swine but reported no direct contact with pigs in the week before becoming ill, the CDC said. The patient died from complications of the H1N1v infection.
"No ongoing human-to-human transmission has been identified," the CDC added.
The case is the second confirmed H1N1v infection this year. The first, reported by the CDC on Jan 30, was in Minnesota. That patient fully recovered. After the CDC confirmed more than 300 cases of variant H3N2 (H3N2v) in the summer of 2012, the annual number of variant influenza cases has dropped dramatically.
May 8 CDC FluView report
PCV-13 tied to less pneumonia, but not less pneumococcal meningitis
Although the introduction of the 13-valent (13-strain) pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV-13) in 2010 was associated with fewer cases of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) at eight US children's hospitals, it was not linked to reduced pneumococcal meningitis (PM), according to a study today in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Researchers from the eight hospitals, located in different regions, compared cases of PM before and after 2010, when PCV-13 was introduced. They noted that PM accounted for 76 (12%) of 645 IPD cases from 2007 through 2009, compared with 69 of 394 cases (18%) in 2011 through 2013. In addition, severe PM cases were more prevalent after PCV-13 introduction.
The proportion of PM cases attributed to the 13 vaccine strains, however, dropped from 54% in 2007-09 to 27% in 2011-13 as the proportion of cases caused by the non-vaccine strains rose. Also, isolates with resistance to ceftriaxone dropped from 13% in the pre–PCV-13 years to 3% after vaccine introduction.
The number of IPD cases dropped from an average of 215 per year in 2007-09 to 131 in 2011-13.
A related commentary in the same journal said that the introduction of a 15-strain vaccine, which is currently in clinical trials, might help, but ultimately a universal vaccine should provide a better solution. That, however, is many years off, so optimizing the use of conjugate vaccine must be a priority as scientists continue to monitor vaccine efficacy, said the authors from Public Health England.
May 13 Clin Infect Dis abstract
May 13 Clin Infect Dis commentary
WHO sees mixed results on health targets in 2015 development goals
The world has made progress on many of the health-related targets in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were set in 2000 with the end of this year as the deadline, but the overall results are mixed, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today.
"By the end of this year if current trends continue, the world will have met global targets for turning around the epidemics of HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis and increasing access to safe drinking water," the agency said. But despite progress, the goals for reducing maternal and child deaths and increasing access to basic sanitation will not be met.
This year's edition of the WHO's World Health Statistics, published today, assesses progress toward the goals in 194 countries.
"The MDGs have been good for public health. They have focused political attention and generated badly needed funds for many important public health challenges," WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, MD, MPH, said in the statement. "While progress has been very encouraging, there are still wide gaps between and within countries. Today's report underscores the need to sustain efforts to ensure the world's most vulnerable people have access to health services."
The agency said the world has begun to reverse the spread of HIV, with 2.1 million new infections reported in 2013, down from 3.4 million in 2001. And it seems likely that the world will exceed the target of placing 15 million people in low- and middle-income countries on antiretroviral therapy this year.
The global goal for increasing access to safe drinking water was met in 2010, but the goal for access to basic sanitation is unlikely to be reached, the WHO said. Around 1 billion people lack such access and are forced to defecate in the open.
Study: TB test produces genetic sequence data in under 1 week
A test could detect and provide genetic sequence data on Mycobacterium tuberculosis in less than a week and allow for individualized tuberculosis (TB) therapy, according to a study today in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.
A UK, US, and Danish team captured the full M tuberculosis genomes directly from 24 infected sputum samples, results that have previously been achievable only via lab cultures, which can take weeks, the authors wrote. The sequencing data were deemed high quality for 20 of the 24 samples, and the results were comparable to those obtained via conventional methods.
"Using the conventional methods, patients with resistant TB would need to wait for up to 6 weeks for antibiotic resistance testing," said senior author Prof. Judith Breuer of University College London (UCL), in a UCL press release. "Our technique and the associated software could reduce testing for antimicrobial resistance to a few days, allowing doctors to give precise antimicrobial treatment earlier than is currently possible."
May 13 J Clin Microbiol abstract
May 13 UCL press release