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Transcontinental bat — California shellfish harvest ban — Food irradiation review in Europe

Every hour of every day people around the world are living with and working to resolve food safety issues. Here is a sampling of current headlines for your consumption, brought to you today with the support of iwaspoisoned.com.

The international radura symbol, left, varies slightly from the version used in the U.S., at right.

EU urged to update irradiation regs
Ionizing radiation can be used to sanitize food, killing bacteria like Salmonella, Camplyobacter and E. coli, but the European Union has inconsistent rules across its member states on the process. That needs to change, according to the International Irradiation Association (IIA).

“Europe was a leader in food irradiation research and commercial applications until the late 1990s. As the yearly reports of the European Commission (EC) show, the quantities of food being irradiated in the EU have declined substantially since the European Directives on irradiation of food and food ingredients, 1999/2/EC and 1999/3/EC entered into force,” according to comments the IIA filed earlier this month as part of a review of the directives.

Dried aromatic herbs, spices, vegetable seasoning, and even frog’s legs contribute to an average of 6,000 tons of food irradiated in Europe each year since 2007. However, the Panel on Gamma and Electron Irradiation said that the European Directives are out of date and do not reflect current approaches to international regulation of food irradiation.

The IIA wants a complete revision of the European Directives on irradiation of food.

Additional feedback from the International Irradiation Association, as well as the Evaluation Initiative roadmap include additional details.


Sonoma County mussels still quarantined for PSP
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced the end date of the statewide annual quarantine on sport-harvested mussels as of midnight Tuesday, except for Sonoma County.

Although paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins remain at low or undetectable levels along the rest of the California coast, mussels from Sonoma County contain dangerous levels of PSP toxins. PSP is a form of nervous system poisoning, making the infected mussels unsafe to eat.

Neither cooking nor freezing destroys the poison. It is not possible with visual inspection to determine if an area of water, or the shellfish in it, is contaminated, according to public health officials. The toxin can only be detected with laboratory analysis.

“The annual quarantine on sport-harvested mussels, which typically runs May 1 through Oct. 31, is intended to protect the public from shellfish poisoning caused by marine biotoxins,” according to CDPH’s statement Tuesday. “There have been no reports of shellfish-related poisonings in California during this quarantine period.”


Bat found in bagged salad traveled across U.S.
When two Florida residents found partial remains of a bat carcass while sharing a bag of prepackaged Fresh Express salad earlier this year, they likely had no idea the animal had traversed the continent with their leafy greens.

However, federal investigators determined it was a Mexican free-tailed bat, found in the Sourhwest United States, but not in the Southeast.

“Further investigation determined that the bat most likely came in contact with the salad material in the fields, during the cutting and harvesting of greens, before being sent to a processing plant in Georgia,” according to a report fro the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bats are known to carry rabies virus, but the virus wasn’t detected in the remains of the animal found in the bagged salad. The bat’s cranium was intact, and the virus does not survive more than a few days outside a living host.

After being notified of the investigation, Walmart removed the lot of prepackaged salad from all store locations on April 5. Fresh Express, the prepackaged salad supplier, recalled the affected lot of salads on April 8.


 

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