Neogen and Michigan State partner for innovation and food safety

In May 2017, Michigan State University broke ground for the Food Processing and Innovation Center (FPIC), an innovative and regulatory compliant commercial food development, processing, packaging and research facility. It was established to create a supportive environment to accelerate and mitigate risk for new product and process development for the food and agricultural industry. With the finishing touches completed this fall, the FPIC is now open for business.

Companies can lease the facility with access to production space and sophisticated, state-of-the-art processing and packing equipment to better develop their food products at any step of the line, from concept to full production.

Businesses working with the FPIC — be they large, national-brand companies or established mid-sized companies — enjoy the benefits of the center’s complete set of production equipment, which can flexibly operate according to different production line configurations. The center offers dedicated production areas, designated packaging and labeling zones and is registered with the Food and Drug Administration. It is also licensed with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and has obtained a Grant of Inspection with the United States Department of Agriculture for meat and poultry production. [ More … ]

Study: Almost 8% of U.S. children have food allergies

It’s long been understood that, in the developed world, the number of children with food allergies has been increasing. Now a recent study confirms that in the U.S., approximately 8% of kids have food allergies — a total of more than 5.6 million children.

“Childhood food allergy is a serious issue in the U.S.,” said Dr. Ruchi S. Gupta, lead author behind the research study. “It impacts the health and wellbeing of children and their families in many ways, including socially, psychologically and economically.”

Researchers from Ann & Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago received survey responses from the homes of nearly 40,000 children between 2015 and 2016.

The responses didn’t form a complete story on their own. Parents reported allergy symptoms that weren’t quite indicative of real allergies. All in all, according to the survey, about 11% of children reportedly had a serious food allergy — not fitting with the previously known range of 6–8%. [ More … ]

Report: Global animal genetics market to reach nearly $6 billion by 2023

The global animal genetics market is expected to reach $5.8 billion by 2023, reports research firm MarketsandMarkets.

This is an increase from the 2018 value, which the firm pins at $4.2 billion.

What will drive the increase? The research firm points out a rising demand for animal protein products that goes hand-in-hand with increasing world population and urbanization.

Especially slated to increase, the firm says, is the bovine market, particularly the cattle semen and embryo segments. As the demand for meat and milk grows around the globe, higher quality cattle become necessary for efficient production.

Asia Pacific countries are expected to make the biggest leap in the animal genomics and genetics market, largely Japan, China, India and Australia. [ More … ]

Listeria Right Now™ AOAC-certified for additional surfaces

Neogen’s one-hour Listeria Right Now environmental pathogen detection system has been certified by the AOAC for use with samples on three additional surfaces.

Listeria Right Now achieved its original AOAC approval (license number #081802) in August for use with samples obtained from stainless steel and sealed concrete surfaces. The test kit has now also been certified by the AOAC for use with samples obtained from rubber, ceramic tile and plastic surfaces.

“Earning the AOAC’s certification on these additional surfaces for Listeria Right Now is important to our customers,” said Neogen’s George Nagle. “Achieving this extended AOAC certification validates its performance when testing samples obtained from surfaces commonly found in our customers’ facilities and production zones. Customers can now use this assay with confidence practically anywhere in their environment to verify proper sanitation has been completed against Listeria.”  [ More … ]

Tox Tuesday: Dark web marketplace begins to ban fentanyl

You know a drug is bad when drug dealers won’t even supply it.

That’s the case with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, which is now being delisted by major dark web drug suppliers because of the risks associated with it. Because fentanyl is so deadly, it’s more likely to trigger investigation from authorities. To keep the heat off, illegal online marketplaces are beginning to voluntarily ban the substance, particularly in the United Kingdom.

“If they’ve got people selling very high-risk commodities then it’s going to increase the risk to them,” said Vince O’Brien of the U.K.’s National Crime Agency. “There are marketplaces that will not accept listings for weapons and explosives — those are the ones that will not accept listings for fentanyl.” [ More … ]

Trash is the biggest factor in rat infestations, researchers say

Around the world, more than 35 diseases are known to be easily spread by rats and the ticks and fleas that live on them. The Black Plague, the most famous pandemic to strike mankind, was spread in part by rats stowing away on European merchant ships.

Naturally, we humans have a vested interest in keeping the little pests contained. That can be tough, though, as rats are persistent everywhere in the world, especially in urban areas.

In the city of Chicago, researchers noticed that nearly 46,000 rat complaints were lodged between April 2017 and April 2018, an increase from previous years. But do a lot of complaints really mean a bigger barrage of rats, or have people just decided to speak up more? They decided to dig deeper.

“Every city and urban property owner is required to manage rats, so our discoveries about rats in Chicagoland may be applicable to help wildlife managers and urban planners in other cities as well,” said Rebecca Fyffe of Landmark Pest Management, a firm involved in the research.

Joining Landmark were scientists from Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute and the Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology.

The rat race

The research team trapped rats in 13 Chicago neighborhoods and compared the rate of rats caught with public data on rat complaints, incomes, rental properties and land cover. Researchers also measured the amount of garbage, clutter/harborage spots and structural integrity of buildings at each site. [ More … ]

Animals can track the passing of time, science says

Preparing your dog’s dinner in the kitchen, you get a text message. You stop, sit down, and type out a response. “Fido won’t mind waiting a minute,” you say to yourself as he watches from his empty bowl.

Science says that, actually, Fido might mind.

Researchers from Illinois’s Northwestern University looked at the medial entorhinal cortex — a part of the brain associated with memory, navigation and keeping track of time — in animals. They found a previously unknown set of nerve cells, or neurons, that activate when an animal is waiting.

“Does your dog know that it took you twice as long to get its food as it took yesterday? There wasn’t a good answer for that before,” said study lead Daniel Dombeck. “This is one of the most convincing experiments that animals really do have an explicit representation of time in their brains when they are challenged to measure a time interval.” [ More … ]

Elevated DON risks a problem for pig farms

Thanks to a period of wet and snowy weather parts of the U.S. and Canada, experts are advising operations that handle corn or feed ingredients to be cautious of mycotoxins going forward.

Of particular concern is deoxynivalenol, or DON. This mycotoxin is produced by a mold that flourishes in wet conditions and is a major health threat if consumed in animal feed. Pigs show an especially high sensitivity to DON — contamination in swine feed can lead to reduced growth, less nutrient intake from vomiting, a weakened immune system and reduced litter size.

Farms.com reports that 25% of samples tested by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs had DON levels greater than 5 parts per million (ppm), and 15% tested between 2 and 5 ppm. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency recommends that DON shouldn’t exceed 1 ppm in mixed feeds. These high numbers mean that contaminated loads are being rejected by elevators. [ More … ]

Food safety: How to start environmental monitoring in restaurants and food service venues

Looking for how to get started with your environmental monitoring program in a restaurant or other food service venue?

The first step can be a risk assessment to guide you to the areas of highest risk at your site. Neogen has developed a guide on which test method is right for you or your supplier to use, depending on whether you plan on monitoring for general cleanliness, pathogens or allergens.

Another resource as you begin or improve your plan are past reports issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration.

You might be asking yourself, “What’s the big deal? Why should I monitor the environment in my food operation?” According to the CDC, more than 50% of foodborne illness outbreaks come from restaurant food. An environmental monitoring plan helps you achieve your goal of keeping your consumers safe from these outbreaks. [ More … ]

Australian outbreak data shows Salmonella typhimurium is the biggest offender

The latest foodborne illness outbreak data is in from OzFoodNet, a tracking network organized by Australia’s Department of Health.

The report shows that in 2012, 2,117 people in Australia were affected by foodborne illness outbreaks, resulting in nine deaths and 183 hospitalizations. Exactly 144 outbreaks led to these numbers, 47 of them recorded in the state New South Wales.

The biggest offender: Salmonella typhimurium, involved in a fifth of the outbreaks. Other major culprits were norovirus, other Salmonella serotypes, Campylobacter, Clostridium perfringens and histamine, a toxin produced by certain kinds of fish as they decay, which causes scombroid poisoning.

Restaurants were linked to 71 of the outbreaks, by far the most frequently reported origin point. Private residences followed with 18 outbreaks. In 60 of the outbreaks, just one food item was determined to be responsible. Of these outbreaks, 28 were linked to raw or undercooked eggs. [ More … ]