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 Alchemy Systems.

Raw pet foods dangers for animals, owners
Pet owners who opt for raw meat based diets, or RMBDs as some enthusiasts refer to them, are putting themselves and their animals at risk for infection from several foodborne pathogens, according to recently published research.

After analyzing eight different brands, and a total of 35 commercial products, scientists at Utrecht University in the Netherlands found E. coli O157:H7 in 23 percent of the samples, Listeria monocytogenes in 54 percent, and Salmonella in 20 percent of the frozen raw meat pet foods.

They also found other dangerous, antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Four products contained the parasite Sarcocytis Cruz, and another four products contained Sarcocytis tenella. In two of the products, they found Toxoplasma gondii.

The pathogens can cause serious illness and death in dogs, cats and other pets. Pet owners are at danger of direct exposure to the pathogens through contact with their pets, and by cross-contamination of food utensils, preparation surfaces and storage areas.

By handling the raw pet food, touching animals fed contaminated food, or letting their pets lick them, a the Utrecht University researchers found that people can contract infections from E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella.

Hundreds of food safety violations at state fair
After multiple consumer complaints, a state health inspection found more than 100 critical violations and 371 non-critical violations among 61 vendors at the New York State Fair.

Critical violations involve factors that enable foodborne illnesses to occur. Those can include food’s condition or source; improper cooking and storage temperatures; improper hand-washing; waste disposal; unclean equipment; pests; and use of toxic materials.

According to Syracuse.com several of the vendors were cited for violations of food from unapproved sources. “Generally, that means, for example, beef came from a source that was not approved by the USDA,” Syracuse.com reported.

Many foodborne illnesses have similar symptoms involving nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and sometimes fever. For health adults, many foodborne illnesses do not develop into serious situations. However, infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems including cancer patients and transplant recipients are at much higher risk of life-threatening infections and complications.

Some foodborne illness have relatively quick incubation times, with symptoms developing within 40 hours of exposure. However, other pathogens can take much longer to become apparent.

Symptoms of Listeria monocytogenes infection can take up to 70 days after exposure to develop. It generally takes two to seven weeks for symptoms to develop after exposure to the hepatitis A virus. Brucella bacteria, which can be found in unpasteurized, raw milk, can take up to six months to sicken people.

Social media users help detect outbreaks
Social media is becoming a major factor in detecting foodborne illness outbreaks, boosting injecting instant information into traditional public health efforts.

A recent study published in the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association discusses how the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene piloted a project with Columbia University to identify restaurant reviews on Yelp.com that pointed to foodborne illnesses.

In recent years, while investigating an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness associated with a restaurant, the health department epidemiologists noticed that people were reporting illnesses on Yelp.com that had not been reported to the city’s information service. The New York project revealed information similar to that found by Patrick Quade, founder of iwaspoisoned.com.

Quade’s crowd sourced website uses real-time information to provide a wide range of data to help local, state and federal agencies identify and manage foodborne illness outbreaks. Many states and municipalities have subscribed to iwaspoisoned.com reporting as part of their food safety programs.

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