Neogen announces Bradley retirement

Neogen announced today that Ed Bradley has advised the company of his intentions to retire to pursue his personal interests. Bradley, vice president of Neogen’s Food Safety division, began his career with Neogen 23 years ago, and for the past 17 years has headed up most of the company’s food safety activities.

“Ed has been an important part of the team that has grown the company from less than $1 million a month in revenue to over 30 times that level,” said James Herbert, Neogen’s executive chairman. “Ed helped build a great team to carry on his legacy, including a team of 34 members each with more than 20 years of service.”

Beginning after the first of the year, Bradley plans to further develop timber and recreational property he owns near his birthplace near Savannah, Tennessee. Neogen has instituted a search for Bradley’s replacement, but in the meantime, he will continue to be available on a consulting basis to Neogen CEO and President John Adent.

Neogen Corporation develops and markets products dedicated to food and animal safety. The company’s Food Safety Division markets dehydrated culture media and diagnostic test kits to detect foodborne bacteria, natural toxins, food allergens, drug residues, plant diseases and sanitation concerns. Neogen’s Animal Safety Division is a leader in the development of animal genomics along with the manufacturing and distribution of a variety of animal healthcare products, including diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, veterinary instruments, wound care and disinfectants.

For a printable version of this press release, click here.

Tox Tuesday: Psychoactive substances, other drugs on the rise in Wales

A rising concern in many countries is the increased potency of opioids, as powerful drugs like fentanyl and its analog carfentanil kill unsuspecting drug users in ever-increasing numbers.

Now, reports show that in Wales, especially potent varieties of illegal psychoactive drugs are seeing an increased presence as well, while weaker drugs are disappearing from the landscape.

Overall, the diversity of these drugs is going down — people are seeking out fewer varieties. A survey of the drug scene showed that around 125 different drugs were identified in 2016 and 2017, a decrease of 23% from what was identified in the previous year.

However, experts say that instead of buying many different drugs, people are buying more of the dangerous, potent varieties. Public Health Wales says that both hospital admissions and deaths due to these “new psychoactive substances” (NPSs) have shot up. In Wales and England, 123 people died from NPS abuse in 2016.

NPSs include synthetic cannabis drugs, including those commonly known as Spice and Black Mamba. Most are made from chemicals created in Chinese labs, which are then mixed with herbs. All NPSs were banned in the United Kingdom in 2016. [ More … ]

Monday links

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

Animal Science:

Getting a better handle on methane emissions from livestock — American Chemical Society
Livestock contribute a hefty portion to the average person’s diet, but at a cost to the environment: a lot of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Just how much gas the animals release, however, is the subject of debate. Now, one group reports that a new approach could shed light on how accurate current data are.

History of dairy cow breeds: Red and White — Michigan State University
Have you ever looked at a dairy cow and wondered about the history of the breed? Red and White cattle are unique because they have genetics from several different breeds of dairy cows. Most Red and White cows are Holstein cattle, but they may also have genetics from other cattle that have reddish coats.

Food Safety:

Experts say food has key national security role — Agri-Pulse
A cadre of scholars has set out to demonstrate a clear linkage between food security and national security, not only in developed nations but also — and especially — in developing and war-torn countries. [ More … ]

‘Ig Nobel’ prize winners prove why flies prefer dark-coated animals

A group of prize-winning researchers are at it again with a new study. Though they aren’t Nobel Prize winners, they’re kind of close: winners of the Ig Nobel Prize.

While the Nobel Prize is bestowed upon people whose scientific advances benefit the world, the intent of the Ig Nobel Prize is a little more modest. Prize organizers say that Ig Nobel Prize winners — of which there are ten each year — should “first make people laugh, then make them think.” Winning research is often interesting and entertaining, but relatively trivial.

In 2010, Swedish and Hungarian researchers received the Ig Nobel Prize in Physics for their work showing that dark-coated horses are plagued in greater numbers by blood-sucking flies than light-colored horses are. As it turns out, when sunlight hits dark coats, polarized light is reflected. Guess what? Horseflies like polarized light, so they gather around it. White-coated animals reflect unpolarized light, so they get less attention.

That’s as far as they got at the time, but hey — it was a start. Now, the same team of researchers has answered their next question: Why do flies still only flock to dark-coated animals in the shade, when there are other equally dark patches (from vegetation or other objects) in sight? Wouldn’t those other dark patches reflect polarized light too? [ More … ]

Researchers seek ways to decrease algal blooms from phosphorous runoff

Previously on the Neogen blog, we’ve written about how rising ocean temperatures are worsening the risk of shellfish poisoning due to the increasing presence of toxic algal blooms that thrive in warm waters.

Today we’re taking a look at another contributing factor to these algal blooms: phosphorus runoff.

First off: What is phosphorus runoff, and where does it come from?

Phosphorus is a very important nutrient for crop production that washes away from fields during rainstorms. From there, it enters streams, lakes and oceans. Once it reaches the water, phosphorus contributes to the growth of algal blooms, which produce toxins that can contaminate shellfish and other marine life. These toxins lead to dangerous illnesses in humans who eat the affected seafood, like amnesic shellfish poisoning, diarrhetic shellfish poisoning and paralytic shellfish poisoning.

Though farmers have made efforts to reduce phosphorus runoff, scientists are always looking for ways to help. In one recent paper, researchers looked for ways that financial incentives could motivate farmers to implement new phosphorus runoff management practices. [ More … ]

Neogen at SQF Information Day

This week, Neogen’s Jim Topper presented at the SQF Information Day during this year’s Food Safety Consortium. The event, a gathering for food industry professionals from every link of the supply chain, is an opportunity to share the advantages of third-party certifications in food safety and quality.

In his presentation, Topper shared material from Neogen’s “Best Practices for Implementing an Effective ATP Sanitation Verification Program” handbook, aiming to give simple, real-world best practices for getting the best results from any sanitation monitoring program.

Some of the topics covered include:

  • Validation, verification and revalidation
  • Cleaning to a validated standard
  • Representative sampling
  • Interpreting test results, and how you know you have a good score
  • How to sample water, swab, and establish baselines
  • Limitations and interferences
  • Conclusions and summarizing

Interested in learning more? Easily download the handbook here.

Science unwraps the reindeer genome for Christmas

Just in time for the holidays, researchers have unraveled some mysteries surrounding the season’s most iconic animal: the reindeer.

Though they say their work is “unlikely to reveal why Santa’s reindeer can fly,” researchers have finished sequencing the genome of the reindeer, the world’s only domesticated deer. Flying aside, what the information can do is allow for better understanding of how reindeer have changed over time, adapting to extreme environments and being domesticated.

To get their results, the China-based researchers took a blood sample from a two-year-old female reindeer from a domesticated herd belonging to a group of nomadic hunters. From there, they sequenced, assembled and annotated the genome, finding that the reindeer genome contains 2.6 billion base pairs — smaller than that of humans, but about the same size as the sheep genome. [ More … ]

Nanoengineering to eliminate biofilms

Ever heard of biofilms? They sound a lot more complicated than they really are: surface-coating layers of polymeric extracellular secretions and microorganisms that accumulate on a matrix over time.

Here it is in simpler terms: Biofilms are layers of grime that gather on a surface, leading to corrosion and making it harder to effectively clean and disinfect that surface. This makes it easy for microorganisms to find a home there, so you can think of a biofilm as a microbial community.

Biofilms are a problem in food production and processing, as well as on animal production facilities. On food production and processing sites, the presence of biofilms can lead to food being contaminated with pathogens, which can result in foodborne illness outbreaks and/or costly recalls. On the farm, biofilms can contaminate water lines and other areas, which can harm animals over time, decreasing their productivity.

Now, researchers at the University of Hawaii have made developments in figuring out how to prevent biofilms (or at least decrease their presence). The researchers found that microbes — including dangerous pathogens like Salmonella or Listeria — don’t accumulate easily on nanoengineered aluminum. [ More … ]

Monday links

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

Animal Science:

Reproductive performance in beef herds — North Dakota State University Extension
Recent data from North Dakota State University illustrates that beef cattle reproduction has been quite successful of late. The university’s special Cow Herd Appraisal Performance Software measures the data for a wide variety of producers.

Domestication and animal gut microbiomes — Colorado State University
Human gut microbiomes, responsible for a wide range of digestive, physiological and even behavioral functions, have evolved over thousands of years as human activities have changed. In a new study, researchers say human activities have also likely had impacts on the gut microbiomes of animals.

Food Safety:

Cyber Monday? Leftover day — trash em’ if you’ve got em’ — Food Safety News
According to food safety guidelines from most public health agencies, today is the last day Americans can safely eat their refrigerated leftovers from Thursday’s holiday meal. Food Safety News outlines leftover safety storage tips for Thanksgiving and beyond. [ More … ]

Bond, James Bond, and Food Defense

Most people would agree that British author Ian Fleming was a great writer, but few would probably expect his work to touch on protecting the food supply.

In the tenth book of his James Bond series, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” Fleming has secret agent James Bond addressing Food Defense — one of three “Food”-based terms relating to the safety and security of food products.

Another of these terms, Food Safety, describes keeping food safe from chemical, microbiological, or physical contamination. Food Security, another term, describes ensuring a secure supply of food — adequate to supply a population. Food Defense is perhaps the least-known term. It refers to the protection of food from fraud or deliberate adulteration intended to cause harm or economic disruption.

In “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” the villain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (a great name for a villain), is preparing to bring Great Britain to its economic knees by contaminating its food supply. Bond (a great name for a spy — nothing is stronger than a bond), uncovers the plot, which involves bringing farm girls with food allergies to a clinic in the Swiss Alps and using hypnosis to cure their allergies. Along with the cure, the girls are brainwashed to “improve” their flocks, herds and crops by spraying them with microbial contaminants. All in all, a good plot for a spy thriller — and remember this was published in 1963, when Food Defense risks were not nearly as talked about as they are today! [ More … ]