‘Practical Applications of a One-Hour Listeria Test’ at Food Safety and Microbiology Conference

The conference will feature a variety of sessions on tools, resources and solutions for manufacturing safe food and meeting regulations while still running a profitable business.

Educational sessions will include:

  • Environmental monitoring
  • Advanced sanitation strategies
  • Finding microbial niches in your facility
  • Tips on setting up a world-class food safety culture
  • And much more

The conference — presented by ClorDiSys Solutions, Inc. and Kornacki Microbiology Solutions, Inc. — will be held at the Gaylord Texan resort in Grapevine, Texas.

For more information on the conference, visit www.foodsafetycon.com

Registration is $995, but Neogen customers can receive a special discounted rate of $900 by clicking here. We hope to see you there!

How your Christmas ham makes it from the farm to your table

The Christmas ham is a tradition that stretches back centuries — in fact, enjoying a ham dinner on wintry special occasions has been popular in Europe before Christmas was even celebrated there. And while any cook — from the pro to the at-home kitchen wizard — needs to keep food safety in mind while cooking a holiday ham, food safety begins way before the pig reaches the plate.

From the farm gate…

Swine producers are engaged in a constant battle against all kinds of nasty stuff, like pathogenic bacteria and viruses. The plan of attack against these threats is called biosecurity, a set of best practices for ensuring a clean production environment, which keeps both people and animals healthy.

How is biosecurity implemented? In many, many ways. Anything that helps prevent the spread of biohazards counts. It covers everything from specific cleaning techniques, to documentation protocols, to personal protective equipment for farm personnel.

A keystone of many biosecurity programs is the cleaning and disinfecting process, a two-step procedure that involves using cleaners to remove dirt, dust, mud and other gunk from a surface, and then allowing a disinfectant to wipe out any lingering microbes. Together, they make it possible to help keep pigs free of illnesses like the deadly porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv).

Another important production step is to vaccinate pigs against a number of health concerns. One tough part: needles that break off in a pig’s body and remain there as the animal grows. [ More … ]

Science: Campylobacter uses other microorganisms as a Trojan Horse to spread infection

Photo by Lassi Kurkijärvi | CC BY-NC 2.0

The Trojan Horse is a classic legend. Warring against the city of Troy, the ancient Greeks feigned surrender, leaving a peace offering of a giant wooden horse at the city gates. A force of soldiers was hiding inside the horse, and at night they slipped out and defeated their enemy.

The strategy worked for the ancient Greeks, and guess what? It works for bacteria too.

New research from London’s Kingston University shows that the pathogenic bacteria Campylobacter can multiply and spread inside amoebae, treating the other microorganism as a kind of Trojan Horse. The scientists found that Campylobacter, which is associated with food poisoning from undercooked poultry, can infiltrate amoebae. There, it multiplies, all the while enjoying protection from the outside environment — an essential factor, because the bacteria is very sensitive to the environment.

“Establishing that Campylobacter can multiply inside its amoebic hosts is important, as they often exist in the same environments — such as in drinking water for chickens on poultry farms — which could increase the risk of infection,” said Ana Vieira, lead author of the study.

The findings have implications for animal producers, whose biosecurity practices need to be stringent in order to take out amoebae and other microorganisms. [ More … ]

USDA examines a world without farm animals

Imagine a world where farmers didn’t raise animals. No cows in the pasture or pigs in their pens. No chickens laying eggs or sheep being sheared. What kind of effect would it have on society? The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Virginia Tech set out to answer this question with a recent investigation.

The investigation comes at a time when many are questioning the pros and cons of producing animals for food. Some argue that our society eats too much meat, harming our overall physical health. Some say that using animals for food is unethical. Others worry about the environmental impact of animal production, namely the high level of greenhouse gasses created.

The researchers concluded that whether we eat too much meat or not, completely cutting out animal products would present major challenges in meeting the population’s nutritional needs. Meat, milk, eggs, fish and cheese provides many nutrients that the human body needs.

“Different types of carefully balanced diets — vegan, vegetarian, omnivore — can meet a person’s needs and keep them healthy, but this study examined balancing the needs of the entire nation with the foods we could produce from plants alone,” said animal scientist Mary Beth Hall, a co-leader of the study. “There’s a difference between what’s possible when feeding one person versus feeding everyone in the U.S.” [ More … ]

Holiday season brings increased risk of food poisoning

It’s time for the holidays, and you know what that means — an increase in outbreaks of the pathogenic bacteria Clostridium perfringens!

Okay, maybe you didn’t know that. Well, so that you do know, C. perfringens is a strain of bacteria associated with cooked foods left out at room temperature. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s to blame for nearly a million cases of foodborne illness in the U.S. alone each year. It’s the second most common bacterial cause of food poisoning, and we see more outbreaks in November and December — around the holidays.

Why is this the case? Well, this time of year brings an abundance of holiday parties and the delicious, elaborate meals that go along with them. At many of these events, food and snacks are set out for all to enjoy over the course of the party. However, if food is left at room temperature for more than two hours, it becomes very easy for bacteria to rapidly multiply there.

Between 40°F and 140°F (known as the “danger zone”), bacteria grows quickly. Unless you like being very cold (or very, very warm!), “room temperature” falls within that range. If your party food is left out for people to pick at for more than two hours, there’s a big risk that your guests might get sick, with symptoms that include diarrhea and abdominal cramps. On the plus side, C. perfringens can’t be passed from one person to another, and it doesn’t cause fever or vomiting. [ More … ]

Monday links

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

Animal Science:

Cattle production and modern technology — Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board
A new social media campaign is helping consumers better understand how cattle producers are using advanced technology — like drones and solar panels — to benefit their businesses and the environment.

Research evaluates Salmonella risk in animal feed — Poultry Times
A new research project seeks to analyze whether animal feed contains any of the serotypes from the bacteria Salmonella that could pose a health threat to livestock. Researchers are looking for 250 animal feed mills to voluntarily send samples for analysis.

Food Safety:

New tool could help maintain cheese quality — American Society for Microbiology
For centuries, Dutch cheesemakers have used complex starter cultures of bacteria to make their Gouda and Edam cheeses. However, cheese quality can fluctuate widely due to inconsistencies within these cultures. Now, a research team has developed a tool for monitoring these strains and keeping cheese tasty. [ More … ]

New map shows 4.62 billion acres of cropland globally

Surprise! The U.S. Geological Survey has found that there’s a lot more cropland in the world than previously thought — about 15–20% more, in fact.

The agency has released a new, high-resolution global map that shows information about worldwide cropland and agricultural water use. The map is more accurate than any previous report, showing a total of 4.62 billion acres of cropland on planet Earth. Previous estimates placed the number around 700 to 900 million acres fewer.

“The map clearly shows individual farm fields, big or small, at any location in the world,” said Prasad Thenkabail, head researcher on the agency’s map project. “Given the high resolution of 30 meters and 0.09 hectares per pixel, a big advantage is the ability to see croplands in any country and sub-national regions, including states, provinces, districts, counties and villages.” [ More … ]

Neogen announces 4-for-3 stock split

Neogen today announced that its Board of Directors has approved a four-for-three stock split. With the split, shareholders of record on Dec. 18, 2017, will receive one additional share of stock for each three shares held.

The stock split will be effected in the form of new common stock being issued on Dec. 29, 2017, to shareholders of record as of the close of business on Dec. 18, 2017. As of today, Neogen has approximately 38,630,000 shares of common stock outstanding. After the split, the company will have approximately 51,500,000 shares of common stock outstanding. This is the company’s fifth stock split. The most recent was a three-for-two split in October 2013.

“We are very pleased to be able to enhance the availability and liquidity of our shares to allow more participation in Neogen’s success,” said James Herbert, Neogen’s executive chairman. “This stock split reflects our Board’s strong belief in Neogen’s long-term growth, and recognizes the stock price has increased significantly during the past year.” [ More … ]

Scientists debate pros, cons of editing genes to stop virus-carrying mosquitos

We’d all love to get rid of mosquitos, it’s true. But as sweets, junk food and binge-watching TV all night have prompted us to ask: Are the things we want always the best for us?

That brings us to gene drives — or at least, certain applications of them. Gene drives are scientifically-modified genes that spread desirable genetic traits in living things. Much discussion around gene drives centers on mosquitos: Can we use gene drives to make mosquitos less troublesome for humans? The topic is controversial.

It’s not just a matter of keeping ourselves from being annoyed by the buzzy little bloodsuckers and the itchy bites they leave behind. Malaria, an illness spread widely by mosquitos, kills nearly half a million people each year. Other sicknesses, like Zika, dengue and yellow fever, are carried by the bugs. If we can change the way mosquitos infect people, countless lives could be saved. [ More … ]

Listeria sickens more than 550, leaves 36 dead in South Africa

A major outbreak of listeriosis has sickened more than 550 people in South Africa, with a reported 36 deaths due to the illness.

The large outbreak is highly unusual for the country. In a typical year, South Africa records just 60–80 cases of listeriosis. Authorities are currently investigating the source of this outbreak, which has been ongoing since the beginning of 2017.

“We believe for this particular outbreak the most likely possible source is contamination of food at its origin (e.g., farms and agriculture), as well as food processing plants,” said Aaron Motsoaledi, South Africa’s Minister of Health.

Listeriosis is the illness caused by Listeria, a foodborne pathogen associated most commonly with ready-to-eat meats and unpasteurized dairy products. Its symptoms are fever, neck stiffness, confusion, weakness and vomiting.

Though usually the illness passes after a few days without treatment, it can lead to infection of the bloodstream and brain, which can be deadly. [ More … ]