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Mbeef-1239184_1920ad cow disease is a classic example of how failure to adhere to the first of the eight principles of food hygiene can cause both dire risk to those who come into contact with meat infected with mad cow disease and cause terrible suffering for cattle. The need to make sure that animals are reared properly includes how and with what they are fed. The exact meaning of this statement will become clear as you read this article. The diligence needed at each and every stage of food production and food preparation is absolutely vital in order to maintain the full integrity of food safety. Below you will find an explanation of mad cow disease that will give you insight and understanding of this terrible disease.

Mad cow disease or Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE for short) is a neurodegenerative disorder of the central nervous system of cattle of all breeds. It is believed (although not 100% proven) that this disease is caused due to the feeding of animal tissue (usually from cattle by also from sheep or pigs) to cattle.

It is common practice nowadays to feed cattle proteins from animal sources. This may be bone meal, blood meal, brain tissue meal or even feather meal. The reason why cattle are fed animal protein is because the protein levels that are present in most plants are relatively low and some strains of bacteria in the cows rumen break them down into undesirable fatty acids such as butyric acid which are less than ideal for the production of milk and flesh mass on beef cattle. (Acetic acid is best for milk production and propionic acid produces the best muscle mass).

The thing that farmers and industrialists alike are constantly looking for is protein types that the bacteria resident with the rumen will not recognise and therefore will pass through the rumen unaffected by the bacteria and pass into the true stomach where they will passed into the bloodstream through the cows intestine. For this technique to be successful, the farmer must alternate the type of protein given to the cow in its feed so that the bacteria of the rumen will not grow to recognize it and hence metabolise it.

Animal proteins contain prions which are proteins that can change the structure of other proteins that they come into contact with. Factories that make animal protein feed (Often in the far east) are renowned for not adhering to procedure and this can cause fluctuations to happen both in the processing time and temperature levels. You see, if the proteins are properly cooked, they will not cause any damage because when cooked, proteins change their structure.

The effect of eating improperly processed protein feed can cause the prions within the protein of the feed to change the structure of the proteins of the cattles brain and spinal cord. This causes the tissue to become spongy meaning thet there are empty spaces within the tissue where there should have been nervous tissue. This wasting and structural change of the cows brain tissue cause the signals that come from the brain to malfunction causing the cow to appear to have fits and seizures. This condition can take up to five years to develop in the cow.

Although few cases were reported above the norm, in technical terms, this condition can be passed on to humans especially where meat is only lightly cooked (or red in the middle). This disease cost farmers billions of dollars worth of damage , especially in the UK where some six million cattle either died because of the disease or were slaughtered in an attempt to eradicate it.

It is believed that some bad feed is still being exported from the far east, (especially from India).

noodles-187050_1920Human beings have always needed packaging in one form or another. Some of the earliest types of packaging are still around today, for example reed baskets. Initially all packaging was made from natural materials, because it had to be.

Woven bags and wooden boxes were among the first. As more materials were developed and processed they too became of use as packaging.

During the 19th century, and as a result of the industrial revolution, packaging became far more advanced. Tin cans and the first cardboard boxes emerged. Later still, in the early 20th century, plastics and aluminium were incorporated into packaging, around the same time we were becoming more and more aware of food safety and food hygiene.

We have made huge advances in both packaging and food safety.

Today packaging is a highly scientific field, it also requires technological and artistic understanding, as well as in-depth product knowledge. There are hundreds of high profile careers within the industry, including ‘Packaging Engineering’. Subjects studied for this qualification are varied, basic engineering, basic science, and business, food safety, recycling, even robotics! It is an industry that is always advancing.

Some functions of packaging;

Containment of product
Protection of product (physically and hygienically)
Product control- e.g. tamper evident opening
Product information
Marketing and branding of product/retailer
Provides controlled sized portions/amounts of product

As our global awareness of the environment increases, our priorities and requirements of what packaging should be changes. A now commonly used phrase – ‘Reduce, Re-use, Recycle’ is of great importance where packaging is concerned. Sustainable packaging is an area in which experts are particularly keen to develop.

Packaging has become more than just a means of easily transporting or containing products and is currently categorised into packaging types;

Primary – usually in direct contact with product e.g. brown kraft paper bags
Secondary- contains primary packaging and product, e.g. a multi-pack of crisp packets
Tertiary- involves warehouse storage and transport of bulk products, e.g. pallets

Within these types of packaging are more type-specific fields, e.g. drugs or food.

Food packaging is a specialist subject within the packaging industry, and works closely with the U.K’s governing body for all food legislation and safety, ‘The UK Food Standards Agency’. Food safety entails scientifically researched rulings on all aspects of food to prevent food borne illnesses.

We all expect there to be specific rules and guidelines in place for Dental Surgery Assistants, or Hospital Nurses to prevent illness or disease through the spreading of bacteria and viruses, but would you expect such rules to be in place for food? Well they are!

The UK Food Standards Agency provides the food industry and the general public with well researched, easy to access information regarding food and food safety, it also enforces laws on, for example, required standards on food packaging materials.

A great deal of scientific research is undertaken to ensure all materials which contact food at any stage of its handling is safe, from food containers, to the ink used in food product labelling. It is their responsibility to ensure the public is kept safe from harmful chemicals through related materials. There are specific rules in place for specific materials, plastics, for example have a whole list of laws for themselves.

On the UK Food Standards Agency website there are notes on ‘Guidance on the Plastic Materials and Articles in Contact with Food (England) Regulations 2009, available for associated businesses to read. It also provides information on which legal body represents particular materials, so you know who you are legally required to obey.

In 2004 a new European Regulation was introduced regarding food contact materials, and the UK Food Standards Agency was responsible for representing our countries interests. Their primary goal was ensuring UK citizens are still kept safe from risk of harmful chemicals in food contact materials when on holiday in Europe. This is also available to read on their website.

The development, research, and governance of food packaging both for supermarket food and for home-prepared food is vital not only for our convenience, but also for our safety. The next time you put your sandwiches into ‘food safe polythene bags’ or your children come home with sweets in’ candy stripe paper bags’ think how many experts have made it safe enough for us all to use.

Many thanks to the team at http://www.onlinepackagingshop.co.uk for helping with the article. When it comes to retail packaging supplies, all you need to do is visit them.

Let the click of the mouse steer you to the best place to buy Food Safe Packaging on the Internet. They have got your food safe packaging needs covered.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Christian_Schulze

traditional-chinese-898567_1920Add to Technorati FavoritesMost people around the world have heard about the medicinal benefits of Chinese herbal remedies. These time tested traditional potions have maintained the one of the worlds largest and indeed greatest cultures for thousands of years. Today, few would dispute the benefits of herbal medicines in the hands of experienced and reputable practitioners.

In the advent of the computer age Chinese traditional medicine has gained a great deal of exposure through the Internet. Now there are a great many companies which sell herbal medicines over the Internet. Herbs, like all other organic substances are susceptible to all sorts of microbial infestations which can greatly compromise the quality of the plant and hence the product which you buy. Herbs infested with moulds, viruses or any of the many types of bacteria can loose most if not all of their beneficial medicinal properties and can even become dangerous to consume.

Herbs which are used in traditional Chinese medicine, like any other other cash crop are grown in fields or collected from the wild, they are then harvested, graded,cut to size,dehydrated, checked by quality control (hopefully), packed, stored in warehouses and finally shipped to the store where you buy them or sent directly to you if you buy via direct marketing routes. As you can see, plants used in traditional medicine go through many handling processes before they become the final product which you but. Every time the plant is handled, something of it’s original integrity and quality is lost. This is inevitable in any industry and each stage presents opportunities for cross contamination if the product is handled improperly. As with any product good manufacturing procedures (GMP) are an absolute necessity. Unfortunately, not all people who market traditional Chinese herbs are reputable manufacturers and great care must be taken in choosing which company to buy from.

Usually, the more high tech the facilities of a factory are, the higher product standards will be. Today, a number of Chinese companies are offering medicinal herbs in freeze dried form The advantages of freeze drying are that the raw materials used have to be of a high standard to ensure a stable end product. Secondly, freeze drying is a great way of preserving as many of the original qualities of the plant as possible. Thirdly, because freeze drying is a very quick process, there is no tome for bacterial or mould spores to form and oxidization is prevented. This means that from a food hygiene standpoint you are safeguarded against such micro organisms forming during usage. Fourthly, Freeze dried products deteriorate at a much slower rate than with other methods that are in use, among other things this means that the anti oxidizing properties of the plant(s) are preserved.

Freeze drying also permits the manufacturer to be very inventive during the manufacturing process. He can make blends that are intended to ensure that you the customer get a guaranteed strength of active ingredient and he can also blend different types of herbs to formulate products to make ready to use infusions for specific medical conditions. In addition, ingredients which make a product more palatable can also be added.

Some of these companies claim to have hundreds of blends in their product range which cover a great many medical requirements. If you intend to use traditional Chinese medicine I would strongly recommend that you investigate the possibilities offered by freeze dried technology.

bee-802592_1920Food safety issues in the honey industry cause global concern. Rapid decline in honey bee populations continues to elude experts.
The world watches in despair as the honey bee industry continues to take huge knocks. In recent weeks vast quantities of honey imported from China to the USA were stopped at US ports after checks showed that the honey contained low to moderate quantities of Chloramphenicol, an antibiotic which is not approved for ingestion.

If this were not enough, another major source of honey was deemed unfit for human consumption. This honey came from Brazil where honey bees pollinate genetically modifies soy bean and genetically modified sweet corn.

Honey is a natural product which has a great many healthy qualities. Enzymes in honey have been proved to be beneficial to the cardio vascular system and other enzymes within honey are thought to have very good properties in the healing of wounded tissue, both internally and externally. Genetically modified honey is accused of unbalancing the action of the enzymes within the honey and it is for this reason that many countries are refusing to permit the import of honey that comes from bees which have been raised on GM crops.

Five hundred million bees died in Germany when crops were sprayed with the wrong insecticide. This is a major financial blow for German agriculture and will be the subject of a public enquiry into the events and decision making processes that led up to the use of the said chemical and into new policy that will be directed at ensuring that pollinating bees will not be harmed in the future.

And still, in spite of all of these regretable instances, the population of bees in the world continues to rapidly decline. The name being given to this phenomenon is colony collapse disorder. I had occasion to interview bee keepers today into their opinion on the decline in honey bee numbers around the world and this was their response. ” In our opinion several factors contribute to the decline in the numbers of bees. One reason that we strongly suspect is the mobile phone technology. Antennas are everywhere and they emit high levels of radiation that cause some sort of disturbance in the way bees react. We have carried out some minor experiments and we know that it takes many bees a lot longer to return to the hive than in previous decades.

In addition we suspect that the usage of slow release insecticides is having a detrimental effect on bees. Slow release chemicals were developed several decades ago to lower the lethal dose (LD grading) of chemicals to lessen the effect of harmful chemicals on humans and to increase the longevity of the chemical’s effect upon the harmful insect population. We suspect that some of these slow release capsules are not becoming active within the advertised time framework and are being brought to the hive on the bodies of the bees. Furthermore we suspect that the environment within the hive contribute into making the potency of these chemicals greater than in open air scenarios.

Other industries cannot be ruled out as not putting stress on the physiology of the bee. The plastics industry, among others, has been pumping chemicals into the environment for decades. The concentrations of these chemicals has been slowly increasing over the years. Bees drink water in the environment where ever it is available. Lets say that bees find a water source that comes from a plastic hose pipe which has been manufactured in one of the Far East countries. It is no secret that plastics that are manufactured in the far east are not as chemically stable as those manufactured in the west but because of lower costs, crop irrigation and garden hoses are now supplied mostly from China and India. We think that the Estrogen mimics that are present in the water which has come into contact with these plastic products is also having an effect on bee populations. These chemicals could be appearing in the water that the bees drink and in the nectar that they collect.”

We can see from this report that bee keepers are very tuned into what is happening in the environment We also see that some of their concerns could well have effect on food safety issues, particularly in areas where GM crops are being grown and concerning the issue of estrogen mimics. However the major concern lies in the decline in bee populations worldwide. Could it be that the humble little bee will present us with the answers on what we need to do to avoid destroying ourselves as a species?

salmonella-549608_1280Today’s post is a story that I heard from a colleague about a vegetable processing plant that became infected with salmonella and e. coli.

Please understand that this is a major international company and it is for this reason that I cannot disclose any names in the content of this article. This particular plant buys vegetables of all sorts directly from large farms and after grading, cleaning and sorting the vegetables are frozen and packed for the consumer and institutional markets.

The company in question works with just two or three trucking companies which bring the raw materials to the plant and deliver shipments of finished product to the local and foreign markets. Good relationships had been established with the trucking companies which included both the haulage companies and the factory itself helping each other out as much as possible as a matter of course. This factory had the best weigh bridge in the area and one of the favors that was performed on an ongoing basis was to weigh trucks of the said three companies even though the payload of the trucks had nothing to do with the business of the factory.

Complaints had been arriving at the factory’s quality control department stating that their products had tested positive for salmonella and e.coli. The factory checked all of their production lines to check that everything was working as it should and indeed no faults were found inside the factory itself.

A decision was taken to bring in an expert in the area of HACCP’s. and indeed it took him a mere five minutes to discover the source of the problem. Many different types of trucks were coming in to be weighed. Among them were trucks hauling the following cargoes: cages for chickens and turkeys being shipped from farms to slaughter houses, deep litter from dairy farms and poultry farms, various types of manure, and soil.

Trucks carrying these loads often waited for quite some time alongside trucks hauling vegetables for the factory itself. Dust and spray that inevitably flew from one truck to another was enough to cause the cross contamination of the vegetables with whatever the other truck was hauling.. This was a very basic and critical flaw in the work procedures and food hygiene standards of this particular factory. This situation was more than enough to cause this food hygiene crisis for this particular factory.

A decision was instantly taken to stop the weighbridge service to all trucks not carrying vegetables specifically for the plant. In this particular case, good intentions led to a very bad result.

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A few weeks ago a leading Israeli fruit juice manufacturing plant had several hundred tons of water melon concentrate condemned by the ministry of heath on the pretext that there were unacceptable contaminants within the juice.

The concentrate in question was destined for use on the home market where it is used by the ice cream and iced lollie factories to manufacture a popular range of water melon flavored products. This set back has put additional pressure on a market sector which is already struggling to survive the current market recession.

Israel has suffered several consecutive years of very low rainfall. The sea of Galilee which is the major fresh water reservoir for Israel and it’s neighbours has reached dangerously low levels and as a result of this crisis water prices have risen several fold. As a result of this new state of affairs the profit margins in which vegetable and fruit growers operate have been cut even further and it is really uncertain from year to year if it will be worth growing anything at all.

The jordan valley which enjoys a milder winter than many other parts of Israel is famous for producing early fruit and vegetable harvests both for the home and export markets.

Seemingly, some of the areas water melon growers took it upon themselves to irrigate this years water melon harvest that was intended for industry with grey water instead od fresh water. The logic behind this decision being that grey water does not contain more contaminants than those already presant in ordinary soil.

What is not clear is if the water used for irrigation was indeed just grey water or if the suppliers of the grey water added certain quantities of first stage black water filtrate to the grey water that was being supplied to the farmers. It is also possible that the farmers used grey water for the initial stages of germination and consequent stages before the development of the water melon itself, switching over to fresh water once the melon began to develop. In any case, whatever the sequence of events was, contaminants entered the melons.

Samples of the water melon concentrate were tested both for chemical and microbial contaminants and found to test positive for both categories of contaminates within the concentrate. the concentrate was deemed to be a risk to public health and presented a food hygiene problem. The water melon concentrate was condemned and will not be used to make the iced products that it was intended to make.

The case is being looked into more closely by the public prosecutors office and charges are expected to be issued to those responsible for taking these regretable discisions to used contaminated water for growing water melons.

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What is listeriosis?
Listeriosis is a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Until several years ago it was thought that this bacteria only infected animals but it is now accepted that humans are also at risk from this disease. While many bacteria are generally seen to infect specific locations within the human body, Listeria may infect many different locations, such as the brain or the spinal cord membranes or the bloodstream.

Classification:
L. monocytogenes is a gram positive, non-spore forming, motile, facultatively anaerobic, rod shaped bacterium. It is catalase positive, oxidase negative, and expresses a Beta hemolysin which causes destruction of red blood cells. This bacterium exhibits characteristic tumbling motility when viewed with light microscopy. [6] Although L. monocytogenes is actively motile by means of peritrichous flagella at room temperature (20-25C), the organism does not synthesize flagella at body temperatures (37C). [7]

Who gets listeriosis?
Anyone can get this disease, but those at highest risk for serious illness from this bacterium are newborns, the elderly, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women. Healthy adults and children occasionally get infected with Listeria, but they rarely become seriously ill. Listeria Monocytogenes is classified as an intracellular paracite. This means that it invades and lives within cells of the body thereby managing to evade the body’s immune system. Infection by as few as 1000 individual bacteria is considered enough for the disease to take hold. When listeric meningitis occurs, the overall mortality may reach 70%; from septicemia 50%, from perinatal/neonatal infections greater than 80%. In infections during pregnancy, the mother usually survives.

When do Listeria infections occur?
Infections occur throughout the year. Although most cases occur sporadically, food-borne outbreaks of this disease do frequently occur. Poor food hygiene and poor personal hygiene conditions are responsible for many of the recently recorded outbrakes.

How is listeriosis spread?
Listeria bacteria are widely distributed in nature and can be found both in water and soil. Infected animals may also serve as sources of contamination. Unlike other organisms, Listeria can be spread through several different methods. Ingestion or food-borne transmission of the organism, such as through the ingestion of unpasteurized milk or by the eating of contaminated vegetables, is often a source of many cases. In newborn infections, the organism can be transmitted from mother to fetus in utero, or directly to the fetus at the time of birth through the contact of the fetus’ blood supply with that of the mothers. Direct contact with the organism can cause lesions on the skin.

What are the symptoms of listeriosis?
Because listeriosis can affect many different parts of the body, the symptoms vary. For meningoencephalitis, the onset can be sudden with fever, intense headache, nausea, vomiting and signs of meningeal irritation. In other body locations, various types of lesions at the site of infection are the primary symptom. In most cases, Listeria infection causes fever and influenza-like symptoms resembling a host of other illnesses.

How soon after exposure do symptoms of listeriosis appear?
Listeriosis has an extremely variable incubation period. It can range from 3 to seventy days, but symptoms usually will typically appear within a month of infection.

How is listeriosis diagnosed?
Specific laboratory tests are the only way to effectively identify this disease. Since many cases may be mild, the disease may be much more common than is realized.

Are there any unusual features of listeriosis?
Listeria infections are a significant risk for pregnant women, who may not experience obvious symptoms. Infection of the fetus can occur before delivery and can cause abortion as early as the second month of pregnancy, but more often in the fifth and six months. An infection later in pregnancy may cause exposure during birth, sometimes resulting in infection of the newborn child which may be fatal.

Does past infection with Listeria make a person immune?
Past infection does not appear to produce immunity.

What is the treatment for Listeria infection?
Several antibiotics are effective against this organism. Ampicillin, either on it’s own or in combination with other types of antibiotics, is frequently used.

What can be done to prevent the spread of Listeriosis?
Since the organism is widly distributed throughout nature, basic sanitary measures such as only using pasteurized dairy products, by only eating cooked meats and washing hands thoroughly prior to the preparation of foods offer the best protection against infection by this disease.

In addition, the following recommendations are for persons who are categorized to be at high risk of infection, such as pregnant women, the elderly and persons with compromised immune systems:

Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli meats, unless they are reheated until they are steaming hot.
Avoid getting the liquid from hot dog packages onto other foods sources, utensils, and food preparation surfaces, and remember to wash hands after handling hot dogs, luncheon meats, and deli meats.
Do not eat soft cheese products such as feta, Brie, and Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, or Mexican-style cheeses such as queso blanco, queso fresco, and Panela, unless they clearly state they are made from pasteurized milk written on the labelling of the product.
Do not eat chilled pâtés or meat spreads. Canned or shelf-stable pâtés and meat spreads can be eaten.
Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood, unless it is contained in a cooked dish, such as a casserole. Refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna or mackerel, is most often labeled as “nova-style,” “lox,” “kippered,” “smoked,” or “jerky.” The fish is found in the refrigerator section or sold over deli counters of grocery stores and delicatessens and supermarkets. Canned or shelf-stable smoked seafood may be eaten.

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There has always been a lot of speculation around the reason the humble pie was invented. Nowadays our adoration of this clever invention is liable to cloud the objective perspective of those who lived in bygone years. A pie is made of two main ingredient categories, 1) a crust and 2) a pie filling. Nowadays we can enjoy a vast array of crusts or pastries. Their flavors and textures vary to suit both the filling and the sensation that the pastry chef wants the diner to enjoy.

Man has know how to make dough for many thousands of years. Ever since man began to gather cereal crops he has experimented with the possibilities it presented him with. Whole grain bread, in one form or another has been a staple of many civilizations throughout history. Initially, it would have been the job of the women of the house to make bread in a small earthenware oven. As man moved from living in extended family groups or clans resources began to come under the control of chieftains.

This had several consequences for the common man. 1) he had to find ways of pooling resources in order to use fuel more efficiently, 2) if fuel was to be used at a central place somebody would have to be chosen to oversee the baking of the bread. 3) if people would have to pay for these services they would have to work more outside of the home to cover the cost, 4) if they mad less time to mill the grain somebody would have to undertake that function too. And so two important professions were born. The baker and the miller. Now I know that in explaining this process in this way it may seem that I mean that this happened overnight. No, this was a process that may have taken quite some time.

So now we have our bread being baked centrally. What has this got to do with pies you may ask. OK, I’m building up to it. A baker has to keep his oven very hot and at a constant temperature. Because of the design of the bakers oven it has the capacity to hold residual heat for a very long time, even after no more fuel is added. We have already defined heat as a resource that people of bygone eras could not let go to waste. When the baker was not using his oven for baking he would earn a bit more money by letting the women of the village put their pots of stew or hot pot into the oven to cook slowly overnight. This was a very clever idea that was used in many European villages until quite recently and maybe still is in some remote areas.

Now bakers had boys or apprentices working for them who did not get very much to eat. To see an oven full of stew pots simmering away in the oven would have been a type of torture for them and it is told of an evening they would sneak back into the bakery and sample a “little” from all the pots in the oven. The ladies who had given the cooking of their stews to the baker were very disconcerted to find that the level of their pot had reduced somewhat more than they had anticipated. They looked for a solution for this ongoing problem and eventually came up with the idea of wrapping a piece of dough around the rim of the pot and the lid. The pot was now effectively sealed and woe betide the bakers apprentice who broke into one of those seals.

During the evolution of mankind trial and error has led to a great number of observations and the very same ladies who used the bakers oven to cook their weekly stew would have undoubtedly noticed that the condition of the stew would have been better with the pastry seal left on than if it were removed. This would have led to the observation that factors leading to the spoilage of cooked food came from without rather than from within. Therefore, maintaining the state of separation from the environment was seen to preserve the “shelf life” of your stew or hot pot. In those days this was very important news indeed.

If pastry or a dough surround was accepted as being the secret of preventing the rapid spoilage of food, could it be possible to put a filling into pastry and cook it in an oven when one needed to make smaller more individual portions of food? Experimentation along these lines obviously happened. The original ides would have been to eat the filling and discard the pastry crust as if probably wasn’t designed for taste in those early days. As time went on it was obviously realized that to discard the crust was a waste of food resources and hence bakers and women alike began to experiment into ways of making the pastry an integral, edible and tasty part of the pie “experience”. The next time you eat a pie, give a thought for how important it’s development was to the growth of civilization as we know it and the development of insight into food hygiene.

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Campylobacter is one of the most common bacterial causes of gastro intestinal diarrheal sickness in the United States of America. The vast majority of these cases occur as isolated and sporadic events and not as part of recognized epidemic like outbreaks. Ongoing surveillance by FoodNet demonstrates that about thirteen cases are diagnosed each year for each 100,000 persons in the population. Many more cases go undiagnosed or unreported, and campylobacteriosis is estimated to affect more than 2.4 million persons each year, or 0.8% of the total population of the USA. This disease is also very common in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Campylobacteriosis occurs far more frequently in the summer months than in the winter months. The organism is isolated from infants and young adults more frequently than from persons in other age groups and from males more frequently than females. Although Campylobacter does not commonly cause death, it has been estimated that approximately 124 persons with Campylobacter infections die each year in the USA.

Campylobacter organisms are spiral-shaped bacteria that can cause disease in humans and animals. Most human illness is caused by one species, called Campylobacter jejuni, but human illness can also be caused by other species. Campylobacter jejuni grows best at the body temperature of a bird, and seems to be well adapted to birds, who carry it without becoming ill. These bacteria are fragile. They cannot tolerate drying and can be killed by oxygen. They grow only in places with less oxygen than the amount in the atmosphere. Freezing reduces the number of Campylobacter bacteria on raw meat.

Almost all persons infected with Campylobacter recover without any specific treatment. Patients should drink extra fluids as long as the diarrhea lasts. In more severe cases, antibiotics such as erythromycin or a fluoroquinolone can be used, and can shorten the duration of symptoms if given early in the illness. Your doctor will decide whether antibiotics are necessary.

Most people who get campylobacteriosis make a complete recovery within two to five days after the onset of symptoms, although sometimes in more serious cases recovery can take up to 10 days. Rarely, Campylobacter infection results in long-term consequences. Some people may develop arthritis. Others may develop a rare disease called Guillain-Barré syndrome that affects the nerves of the body which begins several weeks after the onset diarrheal illness. This occurs when a person’s immune system is triggered to attack the body’s own nerves which results in temporary paralysis that lasts several weeks and usually requires an intensive care regime. It is estimated that approximately one in every 1,000 reported Campylobacter illnesses leads to Guillain-Barré syndrome. As many as 40% of Guillain-Barré syndrome cases in this country may be triggered by campylobacteriosis.Campylobacteriosis usually occurs in single, sporadic cases, but it can also occur in outbreaks, when a number of people become ill at one time. Most cases of campylobacteriosis are associated with eating raw or undercooked poultry meat or from cross-contamination of other foods by these poultry items. Infants may get the infection by contact with poultry meat wrappings in shopping carts. Outbreaks of Campylobacter are usually associated with unpasteurized milk or contaminated water. Animals can also be infected, and some people have acquired their infection from contact with the stool of infected dogs or cats. The organism is not usually spread from one person to another, but this can happen if the infected person is producing large volumes of diarrhea and/or vomit. A very small number of Campylobacter organisms (fewer than 500) can cause illness in humans. Even one drop of juice from raw chicken meat can infect a person. One way to become infected is to cut poultry meat on a chopping board, and then use the unwashed chopping board and knife or other utensils which came into contact with the raw meat to prepare vegetables or other raw or lightly cooked foods. The Campylobacter organisms from the raw meat can by these means spread to the other food products.

Many chicken flocks are infected with Campylobacter but may very well show no signs of illness. Campylobacter can be easily passed from bird to bird through a common water source or through contact with infected feces of other birds. When an infected bird is slaughtered, Campylobacter organisms can be transferred from the intestines to the meat. Likewise, the bacteria can infect a whole batch of birds via the presence of the bacteria being present on equipment and on the hands and/or the gloves of the slaughter house workers who do not wash hands between each bird they handle. In 2005, Campylobacter was present on 47% of raw chicken breasts tested through the FDA-NARMS Retail Food program. Campylobacter is also present in the giblets, especially the liver.

Unpasteurized milk can become contaminated if the cow has an infection with Campylobacter in her udder or milk which has been contaminated with manure. Surface water and mountain streams can become contaminated from infected feces from cows or wild birds. This infection is common in the developing world, and travelers to foreign countries are also at risk for becoming infected with Campylobacter.

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Massive public concern hits the streets of Mexico, the USA and other Central American countries as over one million reported cases of Swine flu are reported in Mexico with over twenty reported deaths. Swine flu has been know to infect humans in the past, particularly pig handlers but it has never been considered a major threat until now. The virus has now been identified as having crossed the species barrier.

Apparently the virus has been able to form mutations within its capsular wall by including proteins associated with human and avian flu strains. This new mutation makes it challenging for the human bodies immune system to recognize the pathogen and neutralize it.

Although this new virus strain does cause concern, the statistics of exactly how destructive this virus is need to be properly analyzed. Questions which are being asked include, does twenty deaths out of one million people infected with the virus give cause for serious concern? How do these numbers compare with other more common human forms of the flu virus epidemics? Are there any variants from the norm regarding risk groups? Can this new virus strain also be carried by avian vectors?

With H5 N1 bird virus we learned that young healthy people were primarily at risk precisely because of their strong immune reaction. How does this new mutation compare with avian flu ? It is clear that the public need more information about the way that this new virus acts.

It is thought that the virus can be transmitted by a number of vectors including direct contact with pigs, direct contact with infected humans, (the ingestion of infected pork products is stated as not posing a risk because this virus is specific to the respiratory tract), direct or indirect contact with the feces of infected pigs or humans, aerosol spray from the respiratory passages of infected human vectors or contact with surfaces upon which the aerosol of infected humans landed. Water could also serve as a vector if it was contaminated with viral infected feces or respiratory aerosol from infected animals.

On the basis of experience gained from the avian flu and SARS outbreaks authorities are swinging into action to contain the epidemic to avoid the risk of another pandemic and to minimize the risk to citizens of both nations. Citizens in higher than normal risk areas are advised to remain calm but to minimize possible exposure sources where possible by using common sense and to report and to seek medical advice for all flu like symptoms experienced by themselves their family or friends. Washing of hands and avoiding contact with persons showing infection with flu symptoms is advised.

Health experts have been quoted after stating that with the end of the flu season drawing close, it is hoped that this epidemic will come to a swift end.

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