16S Challenge: Neogen talks about the 16S Challenge in ‘Food Safety Matters’ podcast

In a bonus episode, Neogen’s Joe Heinzelmann discusses the practical applications of 16S metagenomics for food safety in Food Safety Magazine’s “Food Safety Matters” podcast. Listen in here.

Heinzelmann explains how food producers are using 16S metagenomics to identify spoilage organisms in food production facilities — and introduces the 16S Challenge. This program allows food processing companies to submit basic information to Neogen for a chance to use our 16S metagenomics solutions — for free — and get a microbial mapping completed of their facility.

Read more about the 16S Challenge on our website.

National Puppy Day: 7 dog facts

Big eyes, little noses, fuzzy ears and wagging tails. For these reasons and more we love to celebrate National Puppy Day each year on March 23. With their seemingly boundless energy, and the way that energy can actually dissipate in a second and give way to gentle naps, puppies have captured our hearts probably since dogs were first domesticated many thousands of years ago.

In honor of the day, here are seven puppy facts to share with your fellow dog lovers.


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New research weighs environmental pros and cons of livestock grazing

As our world grows a little more crowded by the minute, cattle producers are faced with new pressures regarding sustainability and environmentally friendly practices. The beef industry especially is looking for ways to produce more protein with less land, and with fewer damaging effects on the environment. Now, new research examines how different livestock feeding methods have different impacts on the air and land nearby.

The study, written by researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) doesn’t disregard areas where the industry isn’t sustainable, but it raises new points about the environmental impact of grazing and carbon emissions. Specifically, researchers examined three ways cattle are fed: adaptive multi-paddock (AMP) grazing, grass-fed operations and grain-fed feedlots.

AMP grazing involves having a large amount of livestock graze for short periods of time in small areas, with long breaks between grazing periods. As the livestock are moved from area to area, other grazing lands have time to recuperate. This allows plants to grow back with stronger root systems, which in turn leads to healthier soil that better absorbs moisture.

“Globally, beef production can be taxing on the environment, leading to high greenhouse gas emissions and land degradation,” said study leader, MSU professor of animal science Jason Rowntree. “Our four-year study suggests that AMP grazing can potentially offset greenhouse gas emissions.” [ More … ]

Neogen reports third quarter results

LANSING, Mich., March 22, 2018 — Neogen Corporation (NASDAQ: NEOG) announced today that its revenues for the third quarter of its 2018 fiscal year, which ended Feb. 28, increased 8% to $95,892,000, from the previous year’s third quarter revenues of $88,385,000. Current year-to-date revenues were $292,965,000, up 12% compared to $262,747,000 for the same period a year ago.

Third quarter net income was $16,586,000, an increase of 61% compared to the prior year’s $10,287,000. Adjusted for a 4-for-3 stock split effective Dec. 29, 2017, earnings per share in the current quarter were $0.32, compared to $0.20 a year ago. In the current quarter, Neogen benefitted from corporate tax rate reform enacted in December 2017, which resulted in an effective tax rate of 4% for the quarter, compared to 34% in the prior year. Current year-to-date net income was $45,600,000, or $0.88 per share after being adjusted for the split, compared to $31,320,000, or an adjusted $0.61 per share, for the same period a year ago.

“We are pleased to report solid third quarter performance, in which we continued to integrate recent complementary acquisitions while keeping our focus on sales growth,” said James Herbert, Neogen’s executive chairman. “In addition, during the quarter, Neogen benefitted from Washington’s long-discussed reduction of the corporate tax rate. These tax savings will allow us to continue to aggressively pursue our proven growth strategies.” [ More … ]

Science: Kids with milk allergies are shorter, lighter than kids with different allergies

Childhood food allergies are a bigger problem than ever in the developed world. Approximately 6% to 8% of kids in the U.S. have a food allergy, and that number has been increasing, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

These food allergic kids face many challenges, from the inconvenient (“What do I order at this restaurant?!”) to the scary (severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis). But allergies can also bring less obvious health issues, which researchers continually investigate in order to help kids be as healthy as possible.

Recently, a group of researchers published a study suggesting that kids with allergies to cow’s milk may end up shorter and lighter compared to kids with other allergies — at least, before the teenage years.

“Children who are allergic to cow’s milk had lower mean weight and height when compared with kids who are allergic to peanuts and tree nuts,” said lead study author Karen Robbins. [ More … ]

Neogen’s Listeria Right Now™ wins CFIA innovation award

Neogen’s revolutionary Listeria Right Now™ environmental pathogen detection system has won a 2018 CFIA innovation trophy. The CFIA (Carrefour des Fournisseurs de l’Industrie Agroalimentaire) is an annual agro-food industry supplier fair held in France that showcases the latest developments in food industry technology.

Neogen’s innovative Listeria Right Now test system detects Listeria in environmental samples in under 60 minutes — without the need for enrichment. The process starts with an advanced sampling method and materials to capture any Listeria present. Once captured, the test’s reagents amplify any Listeria in the sample to detectable levels in under an hour.

“It’s an honor to win a recognition as prestigious as a CFIA innovation award. During the development process, we believed we were creating an innovative new technology that would revolutionize the bacterial pathogen detection process for the food industry. This recognition validates all the work we put into the process,” said Neogen Europe’s Steve Chambers. “The well-received and NSF International validated Listeria Right Now system has now been shown to provide the food industry with both the definitive test results they need, and the much easier and quicker methodology they want.” [ More … ]

Tox Tuesday: Banned substance clenbuterol tested for in both athletes and meat

Clenbuterol is a decongestant and bronchodilator that is well known as a performance-enhancing drug, but is also hot on the black market for a different purpose: fattening up farm animals before slaughter.

One famous Mexican boxer recently tested positive for the banned substance, but claims that he didn’t intentionally take the performance-enhancing drug — rather, that clenbuterol-tainted meat is responsible for the results.

The boxer, Canelo Alvarez, was tested by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) in anticipation of an upcoming rematch against unified middleweight world champ Gennady Golovkin. Both samples Alvarez submitted tested positive for clenbuterol.

β2 agonists such as clenbuterol are sometimes taken by athletes to increase muscle performance and metabolism, decreasing body fat. Clenbuterol is like the epinephrine injected by sufferers of severe allergic reactions, but also has strong stimulant and thermogenic effects. It increases aerobic capacity, central nervous system stimulation, blood pressure and oxygen transportation, all of which can help an athlete. Medically, it’s sometimes used by people with chronic breathing disorders like asthma, but is illegal in many countries. [ More … ]

Monday links

What’s the latest in the fields of agriculture, food safety, animal science and toxicology? Check it out here.

Animal Science:

New guidelines on preventing and treating ‘equine strep throat’ — University of Pennsylvania
Just as strep throat can run rampant in elementary schools, strangles, the “strep throat” of horses, is highly contagious. Veterinarians have an important role to play not only in treating the disease, but also in preventing its spread.

What you need to know about trich — a nasty (and expensive) problem — Beef Magazine
For a cow-calf producer, there’s not another disease that comes close to the economic impact of trichomoniasis, otherwise known as “trich.” Here’s a primer on what trich is, how to avoid it and what to do if your herd contracts it.

Food Safety:

Californian authorities warn about elevated levels of paralytic poison in shellfish — Newsweek
Residents in several California counties have been warned to refrain from harvesting and consuming shellfish after elevated levels of a paralyzing nerve toxin were detected much earlier in the year. The dangerous levels are being attributed to an unseasonably warm winter.

Don’t spend your spring break trip making bathroom visits — Stop Foodborne Illness
Whether you spend spring break partying in a city, exploring a different country or getting some R&R at home, don’t let food safety take a vacation. [ More … ]

Up in the air — Drones aid in fight against mycotoxins

The appearance of mycotoxins in a field of crops isn’t usually an isolated instance. The toxins, which are produced by fungal growth on plants, can have a widespread presence in any given growing season. When one region suffers through a bad episode with a mycotoxin, nearby areas tend to struggle as well.

That’s why farmers and researchers have a vested interest in getting a bird’s-eye view of how mycotoxins spread — literally. Increasingly, aerial drones are being used to monitor how mycotoxins, and the fungi that cause them, spread from field to field and region to region.

David G. Schmale of Virginia Tech is one researcher who has been studying the way mycotoxins travel. Schmale and his team use drones equipped with a number of scientific tools to study the spread of fungi and other harmful crop pests, reports Chemical & Engineering News.

Some of these drones have Plasmon resonance sensors that can identify target pathogens and collect them on a specially designed surface. Through a series of “release-and-recapture experiments,” Schmale’s team releases spores of a fungus known to be local to the area. Before doing so, the researchers identify any piece of the fungus’s DNA that stands out, which will act as a tag in the wild, allowing researchers to track the fungus’s movement. [ More … ]

Water troughs identified as E. coli sites on cattle farms

In any facility where animals are raised, especially for food production, a considerable amount of effort goes into completing one of many goals: preventing E. coli from getting anywhere it’s not supposed to be.

To a certain degree, E. coli is inevitable; it naturally exists harmlessly in the intestines of people and animals. The problem is shiga toxin-producing strains, which are the kinds we associate with food poisoning.

On the farm, E. coli is spread around by feces. Cow feces not only come into contact with the animals that eventually become beef, but also with leafy greens and produce that isn’t protected by an outer skin. From there, contaminated food products can reach somebody’s dinner plate.

Now, a study coming out of Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine shows that on farms, water troughs can facilitate the spread of E. coli among cattle, something that can be hard to detect.

“Farmers do not see a problem because there are no clinical signs in cows; it is totally invisible,” said study author Renata Ivanek. [ More … ]