News Scan for Apr 11, 2014

MSF Ebola site resumes
Ionizing radiation for seafood

MSF resumes treatment center work at Ebola protest site

Doctors without Borders (Medecins Sans Fronteires, or MSF) said it resumed treating patients with Ebola infections at a center in the Guinea city of Macenta yesterday, following protests last week by some of the local people.

In a statement today, MSF said several days of negotiations with local authorities, youth leaders, and village elders led to reassurance that the group could continue its work safely. During the interim, patients at the Macenta center were treated by the health ministry staff.

Corrine Benazech, who heads the MSF mission in Guinea, said in the statement that the group understands the local people's fears and has seen similar reactions during outbreaks in Uganda and Gabon.

"There had been no Ebola cases in Guinea before the current outbreak and seeing our workers in the protective dress must be quite shocking for people who are not used to it," she said. Benazech added that MSF and other health groups working in the area need to ensure that the people know about and understand the disease and to keep dialogues going with local communities.

The Macenta treatment center is one of three that MSF is staffing as part of the outbreak response. Four patients are currently being treated at a newly expanded site in Conakry, the country's capital, three are being cared for in Macenta, and three are at a site in Gueckedou. MSF said a team arrived yesterday in Liberia to help the health ministry respond to the recent identification of Ebola virus cases in the northern part of that country.
Apr 11 MSF statement


FDA OK's ionizing radiation for crustaceans

In response to a petition from the National Fisheries Institute, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said today that it is allowing ionizing radiation on crustaceans like crab, shrimp, lobster, and crayfish to control foodborne pathogens and extend shelf life.

The agency said it based its decision on a "rigorous safety assessment" that considered potential toxicity, the effect of irradiation on nutrients, and the potential microbiological risk. It also factored in previous evaluations of the safety of irradiating other foods, including poultry, meat, mollusks, lettuce, and spinach.

The rule covers raw, frozen, cooked, partially cooked, shelled, and dried crustaceans, as well as cooked or ready-to-cook crustaceans processed with spices or small amounts of other food ingredients.

"At the maximum permitted dose of 6.0 kiloGray, this new use of ionizing radiation will reduce, but not entirely eliminate, the number of pathogenic (illness causing) microorganisms in or on crustaceans," the FDA said in a constituent update. "The maximum dosage of irradiation approved is capable of reducing a number of pathogens that may be found in crustaceans, including Listeria, Vibrio,and E coli."

The agency said the technique is not a substitute for proper food handling. All foods that undergo ionizing irradiation must be labeled with the international symbol for irradiation (called the radura) and the statement "Treated with radiation" or "Treated by irradiation."

According to a notice that will be published in the Federal Register on Apr 14, the FDA is taking comments on the rule till May 15.
Apr 11 FDA constituent update
Apr 14 Federal Register notice

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