2008 round up: most popular food safety stories

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food Bacteria

FoodProductionDaily’s review of the articles that sparked most interest in you the readers continues today with the most viewed pieces in the food safety area.

The top story related to the breaking news about the contamination of Irish pork

Routine testing of the food chain earlier this month found pig feed tainted with toxic dioxins and the Irish government, as a result, ordered the food industry to recall all domestically produced pork products from the market.

Officials confirmed that the feed came from one supplier, and that the source of the contamination was subsequently contained; the tainted feed was provided to ten Irish farms that produce approximately ten per cent of the total supply of pigs in Ireland.

Ireland exported €368m worth of pig meat in 2007, half of it to the UK, according to the body representing the sector, Food and Drink Industry Ireland (FDII).

Padraig Walshe, president of the Irish Farmers' Association, claimed at the time that the recall was a disaster for the pig sector at one of its busiest times.

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In at number two was an article about a new species of antibiotic resistant E. coli

The bug, a vera-toxin known as E.coli O26 which produces E.coli (VTEC), was discovered in cows at an unidentified farm in the UK.

Nineteen out of 20 calves and three out of 40 cows on the farm were found by government vets to be positive.

This was the first time that VTEC E.coli had been found with the type of antibiotic resistance known as extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) in the UK, and only the third time in the world.

Around 30,000 people in the UK alone are estimated to have ESBL; increasing resistance means there is less likelihood of infections in humans being successfully treated in the future.

Soil Association policy advisor Richard Young called the incident “one of the most worrying developments in the continuing rise of ESBL E.coli”.

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A piece on a film coated with nanoparticles of silver and calcium phosphate that has the potential for use in food processing plants and packaging to inhibit pathogen growth was the third most popular story.

A team led by Wendelin Stark, assistant professor at the Institute for Chemical and Bioengineering of ETH Zurich, said that it had developed a self-disinfecting polymer effective against pathogenic bacteria.

Stark claimed the film only becomes active in a targeted manner if bacteria are growing in the vicinity, making it cost effective.

The research group’s findings, published in the science journal, Small, ​demonstrated that the film is significantly more lethal against the bacterium E coli​ than conventional silicon-based silver preparations. “Within 24 hours of the plastic film being applied to a surface, less than one bacterium out of one million bacteria will survive,”​ claims Stark.

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The controversy over perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) informed the fourth most viewed food safety story, which focused on a study showing that these chemicals, found in food packaging and other product, could transfer to babies from nursing mothers via breast milk.

PFCs are suspected cancer-causing chemicals found in grease-resistant packaging such as microwave popcorn bags and pizza boxes, as well as fish and other animals. Exposure can also come from personal care products including dental floss and shampoo.

The study we reported on suggested that mothers may need to be more aware of the products they are consuming when breast-feeding.

The researchers found that milk from first-time mothers had increased concentrations of the chemical during the first six months of nursing. "This may be related to increased food intake to meet the energy demands of nursing, and changes in food consumption patterns in nursing mothers," said the scientists.

To read the full story click here

The final, and fifth most viewed piece in our round u, looked at a new guide from the UK food regulator, which recommends a restricted shelf-life for VP and MAP food products to avoid C. Botulinum​ growth.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said, on publishing the guidelines, that though C. Botulinum ​food poisoning is very rare in the UK, its very serious nature means that any business engaged in producing VP or MAP foods must understand the risks associated with it.

The guidelines state that vacuum and MAP packed foods should have a short shelf-life, no greater than 10 days, unless the operator can show key control measures are in place.

The regulator said the document is recommended for use by manufacturers and retailers and is aimed at assisting in the practical development of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) for these foods.

To read the full story click here

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