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Posts Tagged ‘FDA’

Vomitoxin Levels Rising in U.S. Wheat

Posted by feww on August 18, 2014

SCENARIOS 808, 444, 277, 013, 02

Vomitoxin levels rise in wheat samples  across nine U.S. states

Fusarium head blight of wheat (FHB), also known as ‘head scab,’ is caused mainly by the fungus Gibberella zeae (aka Fusarium graminearum). The disease has previously caused significant yield loss and reduced grain quality in the U.S. costing the industry about $3 billion from 1998 to 2000, and more than $4.5 billion in 2011. Gibberella zeae also produces mycotoxins—chemicals that are toxic to humans and livestock.

The fungus has plagued the  soft red winter (SRW) wheat, which develops when it rains during the crop’s key growing stages.

As little as two or three days of light to moderate rainfall can favor infection. Optimum temperatures for infection are between 75°F and 85°F, but during prolonged periods of high humidity and moisture, infection will occur at lower temperatures. The initial infection on the wheat head may produce additional spores that can infect other wheat heads. This secondary infection can be especially problematic in uneven wheat stands with late flowering tillers.

Infection will continue as long as weather conditions are favorable and wheat plants are at susceptible growth stages.

Bleached and shriveled tombstone kernels (left) compared to healthy wheat kernels. Seed infected with Fusarium graminearum can produce seedlings affected by seedling blight when planted. Infected seeds will have poor germination and the resulting seedlings may be slow to emerge. Infected seedlings will be reddish-brown to brown, will lack vigor, and will tiller poorly. Source: Purdue Extension [BP-33-W]

SRW is grown in a large eastern section of the United States, in the south from Louisiana and Arkansas across to the Carolinas and in the north from Missouri across the Midwest to Pennsylvania and Maryland, accounting for a fifth of the U.S. total wheat crop in the last five years, said a report.

A preliminary survey conducted by the U.S. Wheat Associates showed composite vomitoxin level from more than 500 samples across nine states were about twice the five-year average of 1.3 ppm, said the report.

“We’re seeing about 10 ppm and I don’t know that we have seen that before. The elevators are not sure what they’re going to do with that wheat,” said a grain merchant at a milling company based in Illinois.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limits vomitoxin levels in finished products such as flour to 1 ppm.

“It is in a lot of the wheat, areas east of the Mississippi River would be the most suspect, all along the U.S. Gulf and through the Eastern Seaboard. There were even high levels coming out of Pennsylvania,” said a livestock nutritionist at a feed company based in Kentucky.

Risk of Mycotoxins

Gibberella zeae produces the mycotoxin, deoxynivalenol (DON), also known as vomitoxin.

DON is an extremely stable mycotoxin and drying and storing grain will
not reduce DON levels in harvested grain.

The fungus may also produce another mycotoxin, zearalenone, however this mycotoxin is not as common in wheat as DON. Zearalenone has estrogenic properties, which means it can cause infertility, abortion, or other breeding problems. As little as 1 to 5 ppm zearalenone ina feed ration may produce an estrogenic effect in swine.

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Peanut Corporation of America Bites the Dust

Posted by feww on February 14, 2009

The Peanuts of the Year Title for 2001 – 2009 Go to FDA!

The FDA had not inspected PCA’s Blakely plant since 2001

Peanut Corporation of America’s (PCA), the company responsible for the salmonella outbreak in the U.S., which has sickened at least 600 people and may have led to the deaths of 8 others, declared bankruptcy Friday.

The building of the now-closed Peanut Corporation of America plant is pictured in Blakely, Georgia on January 29, 2009. REUTERS/Matthew Bigg. Image may be subject to copyright.

Salmonella bacterial infection traced to PCA’s plant in Blakely, Ga., led to one of the biggest product recalls in U.S. history, involving up to 2,000 products that were suspected to contain tainted peanut butter or peanut paste.

According to a  survey conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health about 28 percent of Americans no longer eat  foods that were included in the recall, while 15 percent stopped eating any foods that contains peanuts, Reuters reported.

Texas state health officials ordered PCA to recall all products made at its Plainview, Texas, plant after finding “contamination and filthy conditions there,” on Thursday.

“The FDA had not inspected the Blakely plant since 2001, delegating the responsibility to the Georgia Department of Agriculture beginning in 2006.

“It was during this time that internal tests conducted by Peanut Corporation found salmonella 12 times, first starting in 2007, at the Blakely facility. The company sold the product anyway.”

“An FDA plant inspection report has since revealed cracks in the floor, live cockroaches, mold and water dripping from the ceiling in an area where finished products were stored.

“There appeared to be a problem with the oversight of this particular contract because of the failure of these inspections to uncover glaring unsanitary conditions that were discovered later after the salmonella outbreak,” DeLauro said in a letter to Daniel Levinson, the inspector general at HHS.

“Given the varying standards of inspection programs across the country, it is probable that there are other states with similar situations,” she said.

“The inspector general’s office first identified the weakness at the FDA in June 2000, DeLauro said.”

PCA filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court [Western District of Virginia,] claiming  the mass recall had an “extremely devastating” impact on its finances, Reuters reported. In contrast to Chapter 11 bankruptcy law, which permits companies to reorganize under the bankruptcy laws of the United States,  Chapter 7 works to liquidate their assets to repay creditors.

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This post: 470 words, 1 image with caption, 8 links.

Posted in Blakely, Harvard School of Public Health, peanut paste, Plainview, Texas state health | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Wash Your Tomatoes!

Posted by feww on June 4, 2008

Salmonella Strikes Again!

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration revealed 57 reported cases of poisoning caused by an uncommon strand of Salmonella bacteria called SaintPaul in Texas and New Mexico since late April. Illnesses were blamed on eating raw tomatoes.

Updated: June 7, 2008

States with persons with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Saintpaul, by state of residence and onset of illness, April to June 2008.

Since mid-April, 145 persons infected with Salmonella Saintpaul with the same genetic fingerprint have been identified in 16 states: Arizona (12 persons), California (1), Colorado (1), Connecticut (1), Idaho (2), Illinois (17), Indiana (1), Kansas (3), New Mexico (39), Oklahoma (3), Oregon (2), Texas (56 persons), Utah (1), Virginia (2), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3). These were identified because clinical laboratories in all states send Salmonella strains from ill persons to their State public health laboratory for characterization. Among the 73 persons who have been interviewed, illnesses began between April 16 and May 27, 2008. Patients range in age from 1 to 82 years; 49% are female. At least 23 persons were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. (Image and Caption: CDC. Update: June 7, 2008 )

People in 16 States Have Been Infected

[See above image and caption for update added June 7, 2008] About 30 more people became ill in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas and Utah. At least 17 people needed hospitalization, but no deaths have been reported.

“Our preliminary data is showing that the people who became sick in New Mexico and Texas ate raw tomatoes, and that’s their likely source of this illness,” an epidemiologist with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

“The investigation in the other states is ongoing right now. We are definitely looking into their tomato exposures as well as other exposures to try to determine if they’re linked with this outbreak in New Mexico and Texas,” she added.

“The specific type and source of tomatoes are under investigation. However, preliminary data suggest that raw red plum, red Roma, or round red tomatoes are the cause,” the FDA said.

Salmonella bacteria often cause food-borne illnesses accompanied by vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pains and fever.

Salmonella Bacteria

Clinical features of Salmonella Infection

Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12–72 hours after infection. Infection is usually diagnosed by culture of a stool sample. The illness usually lasts 4 – 7 days. Although most people recover without treatment, severe infections may occur. Infants, elderly persons, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness. When severe infection occurs, Salmonella may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other body sites, and can cause death. In these severe cases, antibiotic treatment may be necessary.

Advice to consumers

  • In New Mexico and Texas, until the source of the implicated tomatoes is determined,
    • persons with increased risk of severe infection, including infants, elderly persons, and those with impaired immune systems, should not eat raw Roma or red round tomatoes other than those sold attached to the vine or grown at home, and
    • persons who want to reduce their risk of Salmonella infection can avoid consuming raw Roma or red round tomatoes other than those sold attached to the vine or grown at home.
  • Avoid purchasing bruised or damaged tomatoes and discard any that appear spoiled.
  • Thoroughly wash all tomatoes under running water.
  • Refrigerate within 2 hours or discard cut, peeled, or cooked tomatoes.
  • Keep tomatoes that will be consumed raw separate from raw meats, raw seafood, and raw produce items.
  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot water and soap when switching between types of food products.

You can check the CDC and FDA websites for updates on this investigation and changes in recommendations.

More information about Salmonella and this investigation can be found at:

Information on the safe handling of produce can be found at:

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