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Volume 3, Number 4—December 1997

Volume 3, Number 4—December 1997   PDF Version [PDF - 3.83 MB - 159 pages]


Special Issue

Factors that Influence the Emergence or Reemergence and Dissemination of Microbial Foodborne Pathogens and Human Disease

  • Emerging Foodborne Diseases: An Evolving Public Health Challenge PDF Version [PDF - 106 KB - 10 pages]
    R. V. Tauxe
       View Abstract

    The epidemiology of foodborne disease is changing. New pathogens have emerged, and some have spread worldwide. Many, including Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, and Yersinia enterocolitica, have reservoirs in healthy food animals, from which they spread to an increasing variety of foods. These pathogens cause millions of cases of sporadic illness and chronic complications, as well as large and challenging outbreaks over many states and nations. Improved surveillance that combines rapid subtyping methods, cluster identification, and collaborative epidemiologic investigation can identify and halt large, dispersed outbreaks. Outbreak investigations and case-control studies of sporadic cases can identify sources of infection and guide the development of specific prevention strategies. Better understanding of how pathogens persist in animal reservoirs is also critical to successful long-term prevention. In the past, the central challenge of foodborne disease lay in preventing the contamination of human food with sewage or animal manure. In the future, prevention of foodborne disease will increasingly depend on controlling contamination of feed and water consumed by the animals themselves.

  • Emergence of New Pathogens as a Function of Changes in Host Susceptibility PDF Version [PDF - 139 KB - 7 pages]
    J. Morris and M. Potter
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    A pathogen may emerge as an important public health problem because of changes in itself or its transmission pathways. Alternatively, a microorganism may emerge as a pathogen or acquire new public health importance because of changes in host susceptibility to infection. Factors influencing host susceptibility within the population as a whole include increases in the number of immunocompromised patients; increased use of immunosuppressive agents, particularly among persons receiving cancer chemotherapy or undergoing organ transplantation; aging of the population; and malnutrition. In considering the emergence of foodborne pathogens and designing interventions to limit their spread, the susceptibility of these population subgroups to specific infections should be taken into account.

  • Chronic Sequelae of Foodborne Disease PDF Version [PDF - 48 KB - 10 pages]
    J. A. Lindsay
       View Abstract

    In the past decade, the complexity of foodborne pathogens, as well as their adaptability and ability to cause acute illness, and in some cases chronic (secondary) complications, have been newly appreciated. This overview examines long-term consequences of foodborne infections and intoxications to emphasize the need for more research and education.

  • Public, Animal, and Environmental Health Implications of Aquaculture PDF Version [PDF - 25 KB - 5 pages]
    E. S. Garrett et al.
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    Aquaculture is important to the United States and the world's fishery system. Both import and export markets for aquaculture products will expand and increase as research begins to remove physiologic and other animal husbandry barriers. Overfishing of wild stock will necessitate supplementation and replenishment through aquaculture. The aquaculture industry must have a better understanding of the impact of the "shrouded" public and animal health issues: technology ignorance, abuse, and neglect. Cross-pollination and cross-training of public health and aquaculture personnel in the effect of public health, animal health, and environmental health on aquaculture are also needed. Future aquaculture development programs require an integrated Gestalt public health approach to ensure that aquaculture does not cause unacceptable risks to public or environmental health and negate the potential economic and nutritional benefits of aquaculture.

  • Produce Handling and Processing Practices PDF Version [PDF - 322 KB - 7 pages]
    L. R. Beuchat and J. Ryu
       View Abstract

    In the past decade, outbreaks of human illness associated with the consumption of raw vegetables and fruits (or unpasteurized products produced from them) have increased in the United States. Changes in agronomic, harvesting, distribution, processing, and consumption patterns and practices have undoubtedly contributed to this increase. Pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes, Clostridium botulinum, and Bacillus cereus are naturally present in some soil, and their presence on fresh produce is not rare. Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Campylobacter jejuni, Vibrio cholerae, parasites, and viruses are more likely to contaminate fresh produce through vehicles such as raw or improperly composted manure, irrigation water containing untreated sewage, or contaminated wash water. Contact with mammals, reptiles, fowl, insects, and unpasteurized products of animal origin offers another avenue through which pathogens can access produce. Surfaces, including human hands, which come in contact with whole or cut produce represent potential points of contamination throughout the total system of growing, harvesting, packing, processing, shipping, and preparing produce for consumption. Treatment of produce with chlorinated water reduces populations of pathogenic and other microorganisms on fresh produce but cannot eliminate them. Reduction of risk for human illness associated with raw produce can be better achieved through controlling points of potential contamination in the field; during harvesting; during processing or distribution; or in retail markets, food-service facilities, or the home.

  • The Impact of Consumer Demands and Trends on Food Processing PDF Version [PDF - 16 KB - 3 pages]
    D. L. Zink
       View Abstract

    In the United States, consumer demand for new foods and changes in eating habits and food safety risks are affecting the food processing industry. The population is becoming older on average; moreover, consumers want fresh and minimally processed foods without synthetic chemical preservatives. To address the need for safer food and compete for consumer acceptance, manufacturers are exploring new food processing and preservation methods.

  • Impact of Changing Consumer Lifestyles on the Emergence/Reemergence of Foodborne Pathogens PDF Version [PDF - 83 KB - 9 pages]
    J. E. Collins
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    Foodborne illness of microbial origin is the most serious food safety problem in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 79% of outbreaks between 1987 and 1992 were bacterial; improper holding temperature and poor personal hygiene of food handlers contributed most to disease incidence. Some microbes have demonstrated resistance to standard methods of preparation and storage of foods. Nonetheless, food safety and public health officials attribute a rise in incidence of foodborne illness to changes in demographics and consumer lifestyles that affect the way food is prepared and stored. Food editors report that fewer than 50% of consumers are concerned about food safety. An American Meat Institute (1996) study details lifestyle changes affecting food behavior, including an increasing number of women in the workforce, limited commitment to food preparation, and a greater number of single heads of households. Consumers appear to be more interested in convenience and saving time than in proper food handling and preparation.

Identifying and Anticipating New Foodborne Microbial Hazards

  • Historical Overview of Key Issues in Food Safety PDF Version [PDF - 15 KB - 2 pages]
    E. M. Foster
       View Abstract

    Foodborne transmission of pathogenic and toxigenic microorganisms has been a recognized hazard for decades. Even half a century ago we knew about the dangers of botulism from underprocessed canned foods; staphylococcal poisoning from unrefrigerated cream-filled pastries, sliced ham, meat, and poultry salads; and salmonellosis from infected animal products. Despite new protective measures, changes in preservation techniques and failure to follow recognized procedures have created new dangers. Moreover, we now recognize new organisms that can cause foodborne illness—Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Campylobacter jejuni, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Yersinia enterocolitica, and others. Controlling these organisms will require widespread education and possibly new regulatory initiatives.

  • Quantitative Risk Assessment: An Emerging Tool for Emerging Foodborne Pathogens PDF Version [PDF - 27 KB - 5 pages]
    A. M. Lammerding and G. M. Paoli
       View Abstract

    New challenges to the safety of the food supply require new strategies for evaluating and managing food safety risks. Changes in pathogens, food preparation, distribution, and consumption, and population immunity have the potential to adversely affect human health. Risk assessment offers a framework for predicting the impact of changes and trends on the provision of safe food. Risk assessment models facilitate the evaluation of active or passive changes in how foods are produced, processed, distributed, and consumed.

  • Communicating Foodborne Disease Risk PDF Version [PDF - 572 KB - 7 pages]
    B. Fischhoff and J. S. Downs
       View Abstract

    The food industry, like many others, has a risk communication problem. That problem is manifested in the public's desire to know the truth about outbreaks of foodborne diseases; ongoing concern about the safety of foods, additives, and food-processing procedures; and continued apathy regarding aspects of routine food hygiene. If these concerns are addressed in a coherent and trustworthy way, the public will have better and cheaper food. However, sloppy risk communication can itself cause public health damage. Because citizens are ill-equipped to discriminate among information sources, the food industry as a whole bears responsibility for the successes and failures of its individual members. We review risk communication research and practice for their application to the food industry.

  • Animal Diseases of Public Health Importance PDF Version [PDF - 28 KB - 6 pages]
    G. D. Orriss
       View Abstract

    The Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) interest in emerging diseases caused by foodborne pathogens derives from its role as the leading United Nations agency with a mandate for food quality and safety matters. The Food Quality and Standards Service of FAO's Food and Nutrition Division is active in all areas related to food safety and implements the FAO/World Health Organization Food Standards Program. Its activities include providing assistance to FAO's member nations in addressing problems, strengthening infrastructure, promoting standardization as a means of facilitating trade, and safeguarding the interests of consumers. This paper considers the importance of emerging foodborne diseases from the perspectives of the consumer, international trade in food, producers and processors, and developing countries and addresses prevention and control measures.

  • Foodborne Disease Control: A Transnational Challenge PDF Version [PDF - 463 KB - 8 pages]
    F. K. Käferstein et al.
       View Abstract

    In the globalized political economy of the late 20th century, increasing social, political, and economic interdependence is occurring as a result of the rapid movement of people, images, values, and financial transactions across national borders. Another consequence of the increase in transnational trade, travel, and migration is the greater risk of cross-border transmission of infectious diseases. As the world becomes more interconnected, diseases spread more rapidly and effectively. With more than one million people crossing international borders every day, and with the globalization of food production, manufacturing, and marketing, the risk of infectious disease transmission is greater. Economic globalization has also increased the need for governmental budget austerity, and consequent national preparedness has been eroded. The emergence of new infectious diseases, as well as the reemergence of old ones, thus represents a crucial transnational policy issue. These problems cannot be resolved by national governments alone; they require international cooperation. This article analyzes the role of foodborne disease surveillance programs, nationally and internationally, in the control of foodborne diseases.

Controlling Emerging Foodborne Microbial Hazards

  • Consumer Concerns: Motivating to Action PDF Version [PDF - 27 KB - 5 pages]
    C. M. Bruhn
       View Abstract

    Microbiologic safety is consumers' most frequently volunteered food safety concern. An increase in the level of concern in recent years suggests that consumers are more receptive to educational information. However, changing lifestyles have lessened the awareness of foodborne illness, especially among younger consumers. Failure to fully recognize the symptoms or sources of foodborne disease prevents consumers from taking corrective action. Consumer education messages should include the ubiquity of microorganisms, a comprehensive description of foodborne illnesses, and prevention strategies. Product labels should contain food-handling information and warnings for special populations, and foods processed by newer safety-enhancing technologies should be more widely available. Knowledge of the consequences of unsafe practices can enhance motivation and adherence to safety guidelines. When consumers mishandle food during preparation, the health community, food industry, regulators, and the media are ultimately responsible. Whether inappropriate temperature control, poor hygiene, or another factor, the error occurs because consumers have not been informed about how to handle food and protect themselves. The food safety message has not been delivered effectively.

  • Indentifying and Controlling Emerging Foodborne Pathogens: Research Need PDF Version [PDF - 26 KB - 5 pages]
    R. L. Buchanan
       View Abstract

    Systems for managing the risks associated with foodborne pathogens are based on detailed knowledge of the microorganisms and the foods with which they are associated—known hazards. An emerging pathogen, however, is an unknown hazard; therefore, to control it, key data must be acquired to convert the pathogen from an unknown to a known hazard. The types of information required are similar despite the identity of the new agent. The key to rapid control is rapid mobilization of research capabilities targeted at addressing critical knowledge gaps. In addition, longer-term research is needed to improve our ability to respond quickly to new microbial threats and help us become more proactive at anticipating and preventing emergence. The type of contingency planning used by the military in anticipating new threats serves as a useful framework for planning for new emergence.

  • Maximizing the Usefulness of Food Microbiology Research PDF Version [PDF - 51 KB - 6 pages]
    T. A. Roberts
       View Abstract

    Funding for food microbiology research often follows disease outbreaks: botulism from vacuum-packed white-fish chubs, listeriosis from soft cheeses, or illness due to Salmonella Enteritidis or Escherichia coli. As a consequence of research, detection, identification, and subtyping methods improve, and more is learned about pathogenicity and virulence. Research also explores the organisms' capacity to multiply or survive in food and to be killed by established or novel processes. However, rarely is there a critical overview of progress or trustworthy statements of generally agreed-on facts. That information is not maintained in a form that can readily be used by regulatory departments and the food industry to ensure a safe food supply. A centralized system is urgently needed that is accessible electronically and carries information in a standardized format on the essential properties of the organisms, including pathogenicity, methods of detection, enumeration and identification, alternative prevention and control methods, and growth and survival characteristics.

  • Epidemiology and Detection as Options for Control of Viral and Parasitic Foodborne Disease PDF Version [PDF - 136 KB - 11 pages]
    L. Jaykus
       View Abstract

    Human enteric viruses and protozoal parasites are important causes of emerging food and waterborne disease. Epidemiologic investigation and detection of the agents in clinical, food, and water specimens, which are traditionally used to establish the cause of disease outbreaks, are either cumbersome, expensive, and frequently unavailable or unattempted for the important food and waterborne enteric viruses and protozoa. However, the recent introduction of regulatory testing mandates, alternative testing strategies, and increased epidemiologic surveillance for food and waterborne disease should significantly improve the ability to detect and control these agents. We discuss new methods of investigating foodborne viral and parasitic disease and the future of these methods in recognizing, identifying, and controlling disease agents.

  • Quantitative Microbiology: A Basis for Food Safety PDF Version [PDF - 55 KB - 9 pages]
    T. A. McMeekin et al.
       View Abstract

    Because microorganisms are easily dispersed, display physiologic diversity, and tolerate extreme conditions, they are ubiquitous and may contaminate and grow in many food products. The behavior of microbial populations in foods (growth, survival, or death) is determined by the properties of the food (e.g., water activity and pH) and the storage conditions (e.g., temperature, relative humidity, and atmosphere). The effect of these properties can be predicted by mathematical models derived from quantitative studies on microbial populations. Temperature abuse is a major factor contributing to foodborne disease; monitoring temperature history during food processing, distribution, and storage is a simple, effective means to reduce the incidence of food poisoning. Interpretation of temperature profiles by computer programs based on predictive models allows informed decisions on the shelf life and safety of foods. In- or on-package temperature indicators require further development to accurately predict microbial behavior. We suggest a basis for a "universal" temperature indicator. This article emphasizes the need to combine kinetic and probability approaches to modeling and suggests a method to define the bacterial growth/no growth interface. Advances in controlling foodborne pathogens depend on understanding the pathogens' physiologic responses to growth constraints, including constraints conferring increased survival capacity.

Strategies for Mobilizing Resources for Rapid Response to Emerging Foodborne Microbial Hazards

  • Strategies for Rapid Response to Emerging Foodborne Microbial Hazards PDF Version [PDF - 21 KB - 4 pages]
    J. Majkowski
       View Abstract

    The foodborne outbreak paradigm has shifted. In the past, an outbreak affected a small local population, had a high attack rate, and involved locally prepared food products with limited distribution. Now outbreaks involve larger populations and may be multistate and even international; in many the pathogenic organism has a low infective dose and sometimes is never isolated from the food product. Delay in identifying the causative agent can allow the outbreak to spread, increasing the number of cases. Emergency intervention should be aimed at controlling the outbreak, stopping exposure, and perhaps more importantly, preventing future outbreaks. Using epidemiologic data and investigative techniques may be the answer. Even with clear statistical associations to a contaminated food, one must ensure that the implicated organism could logically and biologically have been responsible for the outbreak.

  • Foodborne Illness: Implications for the Future PDF Version [PDF - 34 KB - 5 pages]
    R. L. Hall
       View Abstract

    Many outbreaks of foodborne illness, even those involving newly recognized pathogens, could have been avoided if certain precautions had been taken. This article will draw on existing information to suggest realistic measures that, if implemented, are most likely to avert or diminish the impact of new foodborne disease outbreaks.

Volume 3, Number 4—December 1997 - Continued


  • Vero Cytotoxin-Producing Escherichia coli O157 Outbreaks in England and Wales, 1995: Phenotypic Methods and Genotypic Subtyping PDF Version [PDF - 68 KB - 5 pages]
    G. A. Willshaw et al.
       View Abstract

    Vero cytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli O157 belonging to four phage types (PTs) caused 11 outbreaks of infection in England and Wales in 1995. Outbreak strains of different PTs were distinguishable by DNA-based methods. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis best discriminated among strains belonging to the same PT, distinguishing six of the seven PT2 outbreak strains and both PT49 outbreak strains.

  • Genetic Polymorphism Among Cryptosporidium parvum Isolates: Evidence of Two Distinct Human Transmission Cycles PDF Version [PDF - 233 KB - 7 pages]
    M. M. Peng et al.
       View Abstract

    We report the results of molecular analysis of 39 isolates of Cryptosporidium parvum from human and bovine sources in nine human outbreaks and from bovine sources from a wide geographic distribution. All 39 isolates could be divided into either of two genotypes, on the basis of genetic polymorphism observed at the thrombospondin-related adhesion protein (TRAP-C2) locus. Genotype 1 was observed only in isolates from humans. Genotype 2, however, was seen in calf isolates and in isolates from a subset of human patients who reported direct exposure to infected cattle or consumed items thought to be contaminated with cattle feces. Furthermore, experimental infection studies showed that genotype 2 isolates were infective to mice or calves under routine laboratory conditions, whereas genotype 1 isolates were not. These results support the occurrence of two distinct transmission cycles of C. parvum in humans.



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