Category Archives: Research

Research – Risk of Foodborne Illness from Pet Food: Assessing Pet Owners’ Knowledge, Behavior, and Risk Perception

JFP

Pet food has been identified as a source of pathogenic bacteria, including Salmonella and Escherichia coli. A recent outbreak linked to Salmonella -contaminated pet treats infected over 150 people in the United States. The mechanism by which contaminated pet food leads to human illness has not been explicated. Pet owners’ food safety knowledge and their pet food handling practices have not been reported. This study evaluated pet owners’ food safety knowledge and pet-food handling practices through an online consumer survey. The survey consists of 62 questions and assesses (1) owners’ food safety knowledge and pet-food handling practices; (2) owners’ interaction with pets; (3) owners’ risk perception related to their own health, their children’s health, and their pets’ health. The survey was pilot-tested among 59 pet owners before distribution to a national consumer panel, managed by Qualtrics XM. All participants (n=1,040) were dog and/or cat owners in the United States. Almost all pet owners interacted with their pets (93%) and most cuddled, allowed their pets to lick them, and slept with their pets. Less than one-third of pet owners washed their hands with soap after interacting with their pets. Over half (58%) the owners reported washing their hands after feeding their pets. Most pet owners fed their pets dry pet food and dry pet treats. Some fed their pets raw meat or raw animal product (RAP) diets because they believed these diets to be beneficial to their pet’s overall health. Many owners (78%) were unaware of pet food recalls or outbreaks associated with foodborne pathogens. Less than 25% considered dry pet foods and treats as a potential source of foodborne pathogens. The findings of this study indicated the need for consumer education about pet food handling. The data collected can assist in developing more accurate risk assessment models and consumer education related to pet food handling.

USA – Stay Food Safe this July Fourth

FSIS USDA  4th

Many Americans will be celebrating the Fourth of July outdoors this year a little differently, with celebrations at home, including backyard barbecues and picnics perhaps with only your household. No matter how you’re celebrating the Fourth of July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) encourages you to make food safety and other public health recommendations a part of your celebration.

“Foodborne illness can increase during summer because of the warmer temperatures and extended time spent outside,” said Dr. Mindy Brashears, the USDA’s Under Secretary for Food Safety. “You may not be grilling at the park this year, but instead you may be grilling at home. As we celebrate this Fourth of July holiday, I encourage consumers to use food safety steps to reduce their risk of illness.”

Follow these tips from USDA to ensure a food safe Fourth of July:

Don’t Cross-Contaminate

Always keep raw meat and their juices from touching other foods. While grilling, avoid using the same utensils for cooked and ready-to-eat foods that were previously used with raw meat or poultry products. Wash and sanitize all surfaces and utensils after they touch raw items. A recent USDA survey showed that 34 percent of respondents do not follow an important step to use a different utensil to take food off the grill. Bring enough tools to keep your raw meat and poultry away from any cooked or ready-to-eat foods and have extra cleaning and sanitizing supplies ready for your surfaces, plates and utensils.

Use a Food Thermometer

Some grill masters may say they know their food is done just by looking at its color when it comes off the grill. That’s not possible and shouldn’t be relied upon. This is where a food thermometer comes in.

“More than 25 percent of burgers can turn brown inside before they are fully cooked,” says FSIS Administrator Paul Kiecker. “Although your grilled foods may look done, foodborne illness causing germs are not killed until the safe internal temperature has been reached. Using a food thermometer is the only way to know your food is done and safe to eat.”

The USDA recommended safe minimum internal temperatures are:

  • Beef, pork, lamb and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145°F then rest for three-minutes
  • Fish: 145°F
  • Ground meats (beef, pork, lamb and veal): 160°F
  • Whole poultry, poultry breasts and ground poultry: 165°F

Keep Foods at a Safe Temperature

Perishable food items should not be left outside for more than two hours, and only one hour if the temperature is at or above 90°F. Keep your food at or below 40°F, in coolers or containers with a cold source, such as ice or frozen gel packs. This includes any leftovers from the grill, cold salads and even cut fruits and vegetables. Leftovers should be refrigerated or placed back in the cooler within 2 hours of being placed outside (1 hour if temperatures are at or above 90°F). If you are not sure how long food has been sitting out, throw it out immediately.

If you have questions about these tips, or any other food safety topics, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live at ask.usda.gov from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

Research -Cyclospora: A Long-term Challenge for Food Suppliers

World Aware

Outbreaks of cyclosporiasis, an illness caused by the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis, occur almost every year in the US, and this summer is no exception. People can become infected with Cyclospora by consuming food or water contaminated with the parasite. Since May 1, more than 206 laboratory-confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis have been reported across 8 states in the Midwest.

Based on interviews with patients, investigators traced the outbreak back to bagged salad mix. The recent outbreak of Cyclospora infections highlights the importance of compliance with the Food and Drug Administration Produce Safety Rule and specifically worker health and hygiene principles.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have made attempts to better understand the factors contributing to Cyclospora infections.  However, many cases of cyclosporiasis cannot be directly linked to an outbreak, in part because of the lack of validated molecular typing tools for Cyclospora cayetanensis.

It is likely, in the future, new analysis methods will be developed to differential strains of Cyclospora, if there is enough genetic diversity. This will allow a way to focus more quickly on illness clusters and more rapid traceback of food vehicles to production sites. This should allow for environmental assessments at production sites to determine routes of contamination and prevention option.

In the meantime, the best we can do is to emphasize the importance of compliance with the Food and Drug Administration Produce Safety Rule, and specifically worker health and hygiene principles.

 

 

Research -FAO and WHO publish draft on microbiological risk assessment

Food Safety News

The FAO and the WHO have put out draft guidance on microbiological risk assessment for food for public comment.

It is intended to provide guidance and a framework for carrying out each of the four components of a microbiological risk assessment, whether as part of a full risk assessment, as part of other evaluations, or as a stand-alone process, according to officials.

Click to access ca9519en.pdf

Research -Sneaky Salmonella finds a backdoor into plants

News Wise

Newswise — As the world wrestles with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which arose after the virus jumped from an animal species to the human species, University of Delaware researchers are learning about new ways other pathogens are jumping from plants to people.

Opportunistic bacteria — salmonella, listeria and E.coli, for example — often piggyback on raw vegetables, poultry, beef and other foods to gain entry into a human host, causing millions of foodborne illnesses each year.

But University of Delaware researchers Harsh Bais and Kali Kniel and their collaborators now have found that wild strains of salmonella can circumvent a plant’s immune defense system, getting into the leaves of lettuce by opening up the plant’s tiny breathing pores called stomates.

The plant shows no symptoms of this invasion and once inside the plant, the pathogens cannot just be washed off.

Stomates are little kidney-shaped openings on leaves that open and close naturally and are regulated by circadian rhythm. They open to allow the plant to cool off and breathe. They close when they detect threats from drought or plant bacterial pathogens.

Research – From Jekyll to Hyde: New study pinpoints mutation that makes E. coli deadlier

Science Daily

As far as humans are concerned, bacteria can be classified as either harmful, pathogenic bacteria and harmless or beneficial non-pathogenic bacteria. To develop better treatments for diseases caused by pathogenic bacteria, we need to have a good grasp on the mechanisms that cause some bacteria to be virulent. Scientists have identified genes that cause virulence, or capability to cause disease, but they do not fully know how bacteria evolve to become pathogenic.

To find out, Professor Chikara Kaito and his team of scientists from Okayama University, Japan, used a process called experimental evolution to identify molecular mechanisms that cells develop to gain useful traits, and published their findings in PLoS Pathogens. “We’re excited by this research because no one has ever looked at virulence evolution of bacteria in an animal; studies before us looked at the evolution in cells,” said Prof Kaito.

The scientists decided to start with a non-pathogenic Escherichia coli (or E. coli for short) and repeatedly mutate it and use it to infect silkworms, an insect that is often used as a model for infectious diseases, and then test whether it will cause death in silkworms.

Research – Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli: opportunistic bacteria

Oulah

Researchers at the University of Delaware are examining how certain bacteria manage to bypass plant immune defenses.

As the world battles against the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), which emerged after the virus moved from animal to human, researchers at the University of Delaware are learning new ways to other pathogens jump from plants to humans

Opportunistic bacteria,  Salmonella ,  Listeria  and  E. coli , for example – often attach themselves to raw vegetables, poultry, beef and other foods to enter a human host, causing millions of illnesses each year food.

But researchers from the University of Delaware,  Harsh Bais  and  Kali Kniel  and their collaborators have now discovered that wild strains of  Salmonella  can bypass a plant’s immune system, penetrating lettuce leaves by opening tiny pores. of the plant called stomata.
The plant has no symptoms of this invasion and once inside the plant, the pathogens cannot simply be washed out.

Research – Evaluation of weakly acidic electrolyzed water and modified atmosphere packaging on the shelf life and quality of farmed puffer fish (Takifugu obscurus ) during cold storage

Wiley Online

The combined effect of weakly acidic electrolyzed water (WAEW) and modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) treatments on the quality of puffer fish (Takifugu obscurus ) during cold storage was studied on aspects of microbiological activity, texture, total volatile basic nitrogen (TVB‐N), trimethylamine (TMA), free amino acids (FAAs), thiobarbituric acid reactive substance (TBARS), ATP‐related compounds and value, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and organoleptic properties. As a result, significantly ( < .05) higher inhibitory effects on total viable counts (TVC), H2S‐producing bacteria (including Shewanella putrefaciens ), Pseudomonas spp., and lactic acid bacteria (LAB) were observed in WAEW‐treated puffer fish packaged in 60%CO2/5%O2/35%N2 atmosphere than that in air package and vacuum package with/without WAEW‐treated samples. In addition, chemical results showed that WAEW together with MAP treatments were highly efficient in maintaining lower TVB‐N, TMA, and TBARS values in refrigerated puffer fish. Moreover, the presence of WAEW combined with MAP treatments showed positive effects on retarding the relative content of fishy flavor compounds, such as 1‐octen‐3‐ol, 1‐penten‐3‐ol, hexanal, heptanal, nonanal, decanal, ()‐2‐octenal, and 2,3‐butanedione. As a whole, the combined effect of WAEW and MAP on refrigerated puffer fish is advisable to maintain better quality and extend the shelf life.

Research – Effects of oilseed substrates (ground nyjer and flax seeds) on the growth and Ochratoxin A production by Aspergillus carbonarius

Wiley Online

Aspergillus carbonarius is one of the major Ochratoxin A (OTA) producing fungus. Nyjer and flax seeds are important oilseeds that are used for both human and animal consumption, but they are highly susceptible to fungal growth and mycotoxin contamination. The objectives of this study were to determine the growth and OTA production by A. carbonarius on ground nyjer and flax seeds with water activity levels ranging from 0.82 to 0.98 aw at three incubation temperatures (20, 30, 37°C). It was found that A. carbonarius was not able to grow on the two types of oilseeds with 0.82 or 0.86 aw. Also, the fungus was not able to grow on flax seeds with high water activity (0.98 aw). The OTA was only detected on flax seed samples with 0.94 aw at 20°C. On nyjer seeds, the highest concentration of OTA (271 μg/kg) was detected from samples with 0.98 aw incubated at 20°C for 5 days, while on flax seeds the highest OTA (146 μg/kg) was found on the seed samples with 0.94 aw incubated at 20°C for 15 days. Linear regression models also indicated that 0.98 aw was optimal for both fungal growth and OTA production on nyjer seeds. Overall, ground nyjer seed is better than flax seed to support growth and OTA production by A. carbonarius .

Research – Effects of post‐packaging pasteurization process on microbial, chemical, and sensory qualities of ready‐to‐eat cured vacuum‐packed Turkey breast

Wiley Online

Ready‐to‐eat (RTE) cured vacuum‐packed turkey breast was pasteurized (80°C, 5.5 min) and stored at 8°C (like supermarkets refrigerator temperature). After 42 days (current shelf life of this product), in control group (RTE cured vacuum‐packed turkey breast), the number of mesophilic, anaerobic, lactic acid bacteria, mold and yeast, coliform, and psychrotrophic increased 5.82, 6.85, 5.85, 4.75, 1.49, and 5.57 log CFU/g, respectively. However, in the pasteurized samples, the number of mesophilic, anaerobic, and lactic acid bacteria increased 1.86, 2.12, and 2.28 log CFU/g, respectively, and mold and yeast, coliform, and psychrotrophic bacteria were under the detection limit. The effects of post‐packaging pasteurization on the reduction of total mesophilic, anaerobic and lactic acid bacteria counts on Day 42 of storage was 7.04 ± 0.33, 4.73 ± 0.11, and 5.58 ± 0.11 log CFU/g, respectively. Sensory quality of treated samples was significantly better than the control’s ( < .05). Post‐packaging pasteurization (PPP) significantly inhibited the reduction in the pH and the increase in TVB‐N, TBARS, titratable acidity, and drip loss ( < .05). This study shows the effectiveness of PPP on microbial, chemical, and sensory quality of cured vacuum‐packed turkey breast during cold storage.