Kodak grinds cow remains, cuts costs to the bone
Blood Safety and Screening Conference 21 Feb 99
Surgeons fear scalpels could pass on CJD
NY Times: Britain's cow illness is issue in donating of blood
British scientists develop diagnostic test for CJD
Hemophiliac files lawsuit over hepatitis C infection
Meat Industry `must pay for BSE checks'
New Scientist editorial: Choose ignorance
30 million pounds of hot dogs recalled for listeria
19 Jan 1999 By Alec Klein Staff Reporter of The Wall Street JournalPEABODY, Mass. -- The stench of death rises from 16-foot-high piles of cow bones chopped up into popcorn-size nuggets. Frank T. Angelakis, perched on a catwalk, grabs a fistful, rubs the pieces between his fingers and grimaces.
"Not the best stuff," Mr. Angelakis says. "It's hard enough. Not porous. But it feels greasy."
This place of decay is actually part of Eastman Kodak Co., which quietly turns the stuff of marrow into memories. Here, Mr. Angelakis is known as the Bone Man. Or Bonehead. His real title is bone-quality coordinator, and he is in charge of making sure everything is rock solid with the 80 million pounds of bovine skeleton that Kodak buys annually from slaughterhouses. The company turns the bones into gelatin used to manufacture film.
Who knew that bones were used in film? "I hadn't a clue," says Paula Lerner, a professional photographer in Boston.
It's unusual that such a plant could continue to exist at Kodak which, like many firms, has learned to contract out functions that aren't a picture-perfect fit. Already, Kodak has farmed out its cafeteria and plant-security operations, and may do the same with its painting and sheet-metal divisions.
The company has also seriously considered selling the bone works, known as Eastman Gelatine Corp. To survive, the ivy-covered plant is learning to cut costs as close to the bone as possible.
"This is probably the biggest leadership challenge I've had," says Eastman Gelatine's general manager, Wayne C. Jones. "We've scratched and clawed for pennies." Kodak is requiring plant management to find double-digit cost savings annually, which it did - barely - with a 10% cut last year. About 20% of its work force, or 50 people, have been laid off. Overall, Kodak has eliminated more than 10,000 employees and slashed about $730 million in costs to be more competitive and improve the bottom line. But pressure is on to slash more. Last week, the company's stock slid when its fourth-quarter earnings fell short of expectations.
The bone plant is feeling it from all sides. The average market price of cow bone, the plant's raw material, has risen 25% in the past two years to about $400 a ton, driven by soaring demand for gelatin, now used in everything from yogurt to vitamin-pill gel caps.
There's something of a "frenzy for cattle bone," says Michael Rempe, vice president of byproducts at Excel Corp. of Wichita, Kan., a major beef processor.
Kodak Founder George Eastman founded the plant in 1930 to have better control over the gel-making. He had nearly been ruined after buying a batch of bones from cattle fed with mustard seed, causing his gel to overexpose the film before pictures were taken.
Today, in this remote corner of Kodak's international empire, 400 miles from headquarters in Rochester, N.Y., the goateed Mr. Angelakis contemplates bovine economies in his cramped, fluorescent-lit office. Longhorns graze on his computer screen-saver. A femur sticks out of a coffee cup. He jots notes on cow stationery. "I'm not obsessed," he insists.
When the slaughterhouse deliveries arrive by rail in Peabody, just a few feet from his office, the bone chips click along a conveyor belt to bubbling vats of hydrochloric acid. There, the bone percolates for a week to remove calcium and phosphate minerals, which are sold as feed and fertilizer. It is then soaked in a murky lime solution for about eight weeks, where it liquefies and is pumped through a series of water tanks and filters, transforming into a syrupy state before it is cooled, like Jell-O in the refrigerator. Then it is dried, ground into a powder and trucked to Kodak headquarters, where it is mixed with other chemicals to create a photo-sensitive emulsion on strips of film.
It is a complicated process that can be slowed down by a screwy bone. (Not all bones are created equal. Male is better than female; young is better than old; longer is better than short; drier is better than wet.) To keep them coming in as bone-dry as possible, Mr. Angelakis, who monitors for grease, sinew and other unwanted remnants, is pushing reluctant suppliers into buying expensive machinery that precleans the bone before it is shipped. If the suppliers deliver greasy bones, which cost more to process, he exacts financial penalties.
Two years ago, for example, Mr. Angelakis devised an incentive program for Kodak's main bone supplier, Monfort Inc. of Greeley, Colo. If Monfort doesn't meet quality goals such as reducing grease and delivering nuggets of the right size, it pays Kodak a penalty of up to tens of thousands of dollars. If the supplier meets the goals, it gets a bonus of a similar amount. In the first year, Monfort paid a penalty, which encouraged the supplier to get a better centrifuge-a piece of equipment that can cost up to $250,000-to remove grease.
Every quarter, Mr. Angelakis flies to Colorado and uses an overhead projector to show Monfort officials the bone-quality performance of its various plants, ranked on such measures as moisture levels and the yield of bone per head of cattle. "I'm trying to motivate everybody to be at the top," he says. Beyond bragging rights and cash incentives, the winner gets a wood plaque with brass plates. "It's like the heavyweight belt," Mr. Angelakis says.
The bone-to-gelatin process once created a lot of waste - about two million to three million pounds of crusty, mushy residue at the bottom of kettles that had to be thrown away each year. But as there is money to be made in bones, there is money to be made in sludge. Alarmed by the rising costs of disposal, Mr. Jones, the plant manager, came up with what he calls his "garbage-to-gold strategy" - pumping the muck out of the kettles by machine and turning it into edible gel that could be sold to food makers. For reasons that churn the stomach, this sort of gel needs to be less pure than the kind used in film.
The result: The plant was able to add about 20% to gel production and sell it to third parties. Now the plant has refined the process enough that it can use more than half of the recycled gel for making film. "It went from a liability to an advantage," Mr. Jones says.
Such gains were fine, but the bone works was still bedeviled by rising bone prices. The number of slaughterers equipped to produce chips was limited, and as demand for bone rose, "they had us," says Mr. Jones. "We couldn't say no. We'd just say, 'How much?"'
But a year ago, he hired a consultant who found a company that handled dead cows and wasn't selling bone: Anamax Corp., a food-waste recycling business in Green Bay, Wis. Kodak taught Anamax how to separate cattle meat from bone, clean it and sell it at a lower price than current suppliers, thus giving the plant leverage with its other bone dealers. Most of them agreed to price cuts late in the year.
As for other attempts to diversify sourcing, Kodak was able to grow genetically engineered bone in the lab - but it proved too expensive. Pig bones are too greasy, chicken bones too small. "People say, 'Why can't you just use rat tails?"' says Mr. Jones. "But there's not enough of them."
Fri, Jan 15, 1999 by John von Radowitz, Medical Correspondent, PA NewsSurgeons today pressed the Government for swift action over heightened fears of surgical instruments passing on the human form of mad cow disease. Mr Alan Johnson, secretary of a professional body representing ear, nose and throat specialists, said surgeons were "very concerned" about new findings from researchers investigating new variant CJD.
In a paper published in the Lancet medical journal today a team headed by Professor John Collinge, from St Mary's Hospital, London, said they had shown beyond doubt that tonsils are infected by the disease. If this was true then almost certainly other organs such as the lymph glands, spleen and appendix, would also be affected.
This raised the serious possibility of surgical instruments being contaminated and transmitting the disease agent between patients. The rogue prion proteins thought to spread diseases like nvCJD cannot be removed from instruments by sterilisation.
Mr Johnson, a consultant at the Queen Elizabeth hospital, Birmingham, and secretary of the British Association of Otorhinolaryngologists , said today: "The concern really is whether or not there are people out there who you might transmit the disease from one to another with surgical instruments or tissue transfer, or blood transfusions.
"Our position has to be that we are very concerned. The new research has definitely heightened our concern and we need new guidance quickly."
One implication of Professor Collinge's research is that nvCJD which is still incubating in a patient and not producing any symptoms might be transmitted through surgical instruments. Yesterday Professor Collinge said he was personally in favour of disposable instruments being introduced for certain procedures.
Mr Johnson said disposable instruments were cheaper and not as robust as the non-disposable variety. However surgeons would switch to them if necessary. Precautionary guidelines issued in April says surgeons should dispose of instruments they know have been used to operate on a patient suffering from nvCJD. If a case was suspected, the instruments should be quarantined and not touched again unless it proved to be a false alarm.
A working group from two committees, the Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens, and the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, is now looking at the issue again in light of the new evidence.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "You can't put out guidance the same day as a research paper is published. "The point is you need to have experts take a look at this to be quite sure that any changes are appropriate, safe and effective. In due course the experts will make recommendations to us and we will make those recommendations public."
Shadow Health Minister Alan Duncan accused the Government of being too slow to acknowledge the possible risk from surgical instruments. He said: "I am calling on the Government to embark immediately upon a screening programme of pathology specimens to establish the risk of transmission of nvCJD to patients subsequently operated on with contaminated surgical instruments, and to urgently examine proposals to begin using disposable instruments for operations on the tonsils, appendix and spleen."
The Government's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Liam Donaldson, today said new safety measures would now be considered in the light of Professor Collinge's study. He said on BBC Radio 4: "We are taking advice from doctors and scientists whom we have used in the past on all our expert committees to decide whether we need to extend precautionary measures..
"We are looking at the possibility of disposable instruments but in any field it is the matter of balancing different sorts of risk. "Most surgical operations are dependent not just on the skill of the surgeon but on highly engineered surgical instruments made of metal and carefully constructed."
Later, interviewed on Channel 4 News, Prof Donaldson acknowledged that no one at present had any idea how big a problem nvCJD was going to be. "On the present number of cases the size of the eventual number of cases could be anywhere between a hundred or up into the millions," he said. "In three or four years time we'll have a much clearer idea of what's going to happen."
Prof Collinge's team is to examine thousands of samples of tonsils removed in routine operations and test them for nvCJD. It is hoped the results will provide an early warning if a serious epidemic is on the way. Another group of scientists is to look at appendix specimens stored in pathology labs.
Tuesday, January 19, 1999 The New York Times By WARREN LEARYWASHINGTON -- A scientific advisory panel is asking the Food and Drug Administration to consider a basic question: Should a past travel itinerary help determine who is eligible to donate blood? The panel wants the agency to examine the possibility of barring blood donations from people who have lived in or visited Great Britain since 1980 because of concerns about mad cow disease. Most reported cases of this fatal animal disease, and a human variant, have occurred in the British Isles.
Because such a move could have a huge impact on blood collection in the United States, the panel asked the FDA and blood supply groups to survey donors and assess the ramifications of blocking perhaps hundreds of thousands of current contributors from giving blood.
Although there is no evidence that a human version of mad cow disease is transmitted through blood or blood products, and there are no recorded cases of the human disease in the United States, experts on the panel said they were concerned about the possibility that a link between blood and the disease could arise. The risk of transmitting the disease through blood appears to be very low, said a panel member, Dr. Donald S. Burke, the director of the Center for Immunization Research at Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health.
"However, we don't want to find ourselves in a position where we didn't take the problem seriously and it crops up as a major health issue 10 or 20 years later," Burke said in an interview. He noted the criticism leveled at health authorities over AIDS by those who contend the epidemic might have been mitigated if the disease had been taken more seriously and fought more aggressively earlier.
Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is believed to be caused by infectious protein particles called prions, perhaps with the aid of viruses or other agents. The disease kills brain cells, leaving the organ full of holes and resembling a sponge.
A small percentage of people develop a similar condition, usually late in life, called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which appears to be hereditary in many cases but sometimes occurs in isolation.
In Britain, 34 people have come down with what is called new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which afflicts a younger population than the traditional condition. Some scientists suspect that the new illness is a variation of the animal disease, which may be transferred to humans from contaminated meat.
At a meeting last month, the FDA advisory committee on Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies, which is composed of medical and veterinary experts, voted 9-6 to consider blocking blood donations from people who had spent time in Britain in the height of the mad cow outbreak and, therefore, may have been exposed to the disease.
Representatives of the American Red Cross told the panel that preliminary surveys of donors indicated that barring blood donations by people who lived or traveled in Britain would reduce the nation's blood supply by 10 percent and require recruiting as many as one million donors. Panel members say that before they take up the matter again at a meeting this spring, when they are likely to vote on a formal recommendation to the agency, they need more information on the impact of such a policy.
Besides worries about the effects on blood availability in this country, panelists said they were concerned about the impact on rejected donors and the perceptions they might harbor over their individual risks of disease. There is also the question of time spent in Britain. Would a person who passed through a British airport or someone who spent a weekend in London be ineligible to donate blood? Or would living in the country for several weeks or months be required?
Reuters World Report Thu, Jan 14, 1999LONDON - British scientists said on Friday they had developed a diagnostic test for new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD) which would pave the way for mass screening for the disease. The test, developed by a research team led by Professor John Collinge at the Imperial College School of Medicine in London, involves the removal of tonsil tissue from patients in a minor surgical operation. The tissue is then analysed for a rogue form of the prion protein, the infectious agent that causes nvCJD.
New variant CJD is a fatal brain disease in humans that is thought to be caused by the same agent behind bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease. Britain has the world's highest incidence of BSE and the only recorded cases of nvCJD, apart from a single one in France.
"What we have detected (by this test) is the core if not the entirety of the infectious agent itself. To my mind we have strong data to go on for a large screening study," Collinge told a press briefing here. The scientist said that a screening of anonymous tonsil tissue, removed from patients across Britain, could begin "within a few months" as part of three new studies on the disease.
This initial screening exercise, which could take two years, would attempt to show whether or not Britain faces a major nvCJD epidemic. If a significant number of tonsil samples tested positive for the rogue protein, scientists could then intensify their screening efforts.
"If there is a substantial epidemic brewing, we may get some sign of it," Collinge said.
The development of the new diagnostic test, reported in the current issue of The Lancet, significantly advances scientists' understanding of how the rogue protein works. The new research demonstrates for the first time that the agent behaves differently in humans with the new variant form of the disease than it does in classical CJD, the more widespread but not contagious form of the disease.
The findings suggest that nvCJD might pass from person to person as a result of certain medical or surgical procedures, the researchers said. Scientists eventually hope to develop a blood test to detect nvCJD, Collinge said. But this will depend on finding an antibody that can distinguish between the normal form of the prion protein and the rogue form.
Bergen Record Online (01/19/99); Voreacos, DavidFive pharmaceutical companies and four non-profit organizations are being sued by a hemophiliac from Paterson, NJ, who claims that the parties involved made and sold tainted blood coagulants that infected him with hepatitis C virus.
The man, filing under the name Scott Doe, is suing Centeon, Bayer, Baxter Healthcare, Alpha Therapeutic, Armour Pharmaceutic, the American Red Cross, the National Hemophilia Foundation, the Hemophilia Association of New York, and the New York Blood Center.
Doe claims that the agencies involved "knew or should have known, from as early as 1970, that their product was causing a viral hepatitis epidemic in the hemophilia population."
Bayer, Baxter, Armour, and Alpha agreed to pay $620 million in 1996 to 6,200 hemophiliacs who claimed they contracted HIV from blood-clotting products between 1978 and 1995.
A spokesperson for Baxter, which has 348 lawsuits pending, said that the company advances its products as fast as scientific technology allows. Thelma Thiel, the chief executive officer of the Hepatitis Association of New York, also asserts that there was no way to identify that a virus was present in the products prior to the creation of a screening test.
New Scientist, 23 January 1999Three years ago Britain was stunned when the government released news of a new brain disease that looked suspiciously like the human equivalent of BSE. Since then an ongoing public inquiry has produced a steady stream of headlines less than flattering to officialdom. The death toll from new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD) has crept up to 35, and the evidence linking these deaths to the rogue protein that causes BSE has begun to look increasingly solid.
But epidemiologists still have no way of telling whether the trickle of deaths will grow into a nvCJD epidemic.
Hard data are desperately needed, so we should welcome the news of a way to test for the presence of the prion agent in tonsils (see p 5). For the first time researchers will have a ready supply of samples from living people on which they can carry out anonymous tests to discover how many people might be carrying the prion linked to nvCJD.
But when the test results come in the problems begin. Should the medical authorities attempt to trace those who test positive and tell them the terrible news, or keep it to themselves? The dilemma can only get worse when something as routine as a blood test comes along, as it surely will.
For the moment, at least, there seems to be nothing an individual will gain by knowing. There are no drugs that prevent prions making mischief in humans, nor is there any evidence that diet or exercise can improve your chances in the way it might with a predisposition to heart disease. And knowing that you carry the agent linked to nvCJD is unlikely to help you to prepare for your demise--especially if you don't know whether you have two years left or 20.
The idea that knowing your "prion status" allows you to take steps to prevent others from becoming infected won't wash either. There is no evidence so far that nvCJD can be transmitted during sex, and very little to suggest that the blood of people incubating the disease would be hazardous. In any case, the supply of blood for transfusion could be protected better by screening donations and destroying any that are contaminated.
The problem of whether to keep people in the dark about knowledge that would blight their lives won't vanish even if none of the several thousand samples in the initial surveys contains prions. Such a result would tell researchers only that they need to scale up their project.
But suppose just one of the samples contains the rogue protein. While statisticians will rightly caution that you can't scale up one positive result to represent the population as a whole, even a hint that tens of thousands of Britons could be incubating nvCJD could spread panic.
Health officials don't seem to have thought much about the wider implications of the test results. A similar failure to think ahead made the epidemic of BSE in cattle far worse than it need have been. This time round let's tackle the hard questions before all hell breaks loose.
Thu, 21 Jan 1999 Conference announcementTiter, Distribution and Removal of Blood-Borne Infectivity from TSE Diseases Dr. Robert G. Rohwer, Director, Laboratory of Molecular Neurovirology Research Service, Veterans Affairs Medical Center The blood of TSE infected rodents contains low levels of TSE infectivity. A significant portion of this infectivity remains with platelet poor plasma after component separations. During plasma fractionation most of the infectivity that was recovered was found in cryoprecipitate and the first alcohol precipitate of the Cohn fractionation. However, 99% of the brain-derived infectivity spikes and PrP fibrils indicated high levels of removal of both infectivity and fibrils during the refinement of final products from cryo-poor supernatant and crude Cohn fractions.
BIOLOGY AND TRANSMISSIBILITY Role of Leukocytes in TSE nvCJD Blood-Borne TSE Infectivity SCREENING AND REGULATION Immunodiagnosis Assessing the Risk from nvCJD Infectivity in Blood FDA Policy Update and Changes Impact of Policy on Manufacturers and Bankers TSE VALIDATIONS Inactivation and Removal Purification of Factor VIII Partitioning during Plasma Fractionation
Dr. Moira E. Bruce, Head of Pathology and Pathogenesis Section, Institute for Animal HealthIn order to investigate which cells of the immune system are important in TSE pathogenesis, we have produced chimeric mice in which there is a mismatch in PrP expression between follicular dendritic cells and lymphocytes by grafting bone marrow from PrP knockout mice into immunodeficient PrP-expressing recipients and vice versa. The results of scrapie challenge experiments using these chimeric mice have provided strong evidence that the replication of the ME7 strain of scrapie in spleen depends on PrP-expressing follicular dendritic cells and not directly on lymphocytes or other bone marrow derived cells. These observations contrast in several respects with those obtained elsewhere using the RML scrapie isolate, which indicated, firstly, that bone marrow derived cells can support replication in spleen and, secondly, that B cells play a crucial role in neuroinvasion. This inconsistency raises the possibility that different strains of TSE agent may target different cell populations of the immune system.
Dr. Robert G. Will, Consultant Neurologist, National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance Unit, Western General HospitalThe balance of evidence does not indicate that classical CJD is transmissible through blood or blood products. New variant CJD is a new disease, and there is a possibility that the risks of onward transmissions through blood or blood products may be greater than in classical CJD. Measures to minimize the risks of iatrogenic transmission of new variant CJD have been introduced in the United Kingdom.
Dr. Richard J. Kascsak, Head, Laboratory of Immunological Neurovirology, New York State Institute for BasicResearch Immunological approaches have been of vital importance in the diagnosis and study of prion diseases. Polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies to PrP, the host coded component of prions, have revealed the role of linear (pepscan analysis) and nonlinear epitopes in determining species and site specificity. These antibody-based assays continue to play a key role in the detection and analysis of prions and their component PrP.
Dr. Philip J. Comer, Director of Client Services, Det Norske VeritasWe still do not know how many people may have been infected with nvCJD in the United Kingdom, and so any attempt to assess the actual risk from possible infectivity in blood is fraught with difficulty. In this risk assessment study, which was requested by the UK government, the overall exposure of some characteristic patient groups to infectivity in both blood transfusions and plasma products has been estimated, so that the relative risk to the different patient groups can be assessed, and the sensitivity of the results to the various assumptions evaluated. The model has also been used to assess the effectiveness of alternative risk reduction strategies-e.g., leucodepletion and elimination of UK-sourced plasma.
Dr. Malcolm R. Macnaughton, Division Head, Laboratory Sciences, Inveresk ResearchInveresk has performed up to 50 TSE validation studies over the past seven years and has extensive experience with a range of products including several plasma derivatives. This experience extends to the execution of numerous expert reports for risk analysis associated with such products. The presentation will focus on the design, reproducibility, and relevance of such studies that will incorporate an analysis of all types of processing stages. A discussion will be included concerning current guidelines in this area and the relevance for these validations in contributing to the assurance of product safety.
Dr. Dorothy Scott, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug AdministrationConsiderable changes in FDA policy concerning CJD issues and blood products have occurred since 1995. The rationale for recent changes is based upon accumulating epidemiologic and laboratory-based evidence suggesting low likelihood of CJD transmission by blood, blood products, and derivatives. Until more is known about how nvCJD is transmitted, strict withdrawal recommendations remain in effect if a donor with this condition is identified.
Dr. Maura Ricketts, Medical Specialist, Blood-Borne Pathogens Division, Bureau of Infectious Diseases, Laboratory Center for Disease Control-CanadaScience, consumers, risk management professionals, ethicists, the law and public policy developers are in turmoil over prion diseases. Data from manufacturers regarding the impact of public policy will be examined to explore risks and benefits to the blood system of recent policy changes.
Dr. William N. DrohanThe American Red Cross and Baxter Healthcare process for purification of coagulation factor VIII from human plasma utilizes cryoprecipitation, solvent and detergent treatment, immunoaffinity adsorption/elution, and ion exchange steps to achieve a highly purified factor VIII product. In order to assess the ability of this process to clear the agent of spongiform encephalopathies, a 10% homogenate of scrapie-infected hamster brain was spiked into the clarified cryoprecipitate starting material. Using intracerebral inoculation into hamsters, the titer of scrapie infectivity was measured in the spiked starting material and that remaining at each stage of the purification process. The results showed clearance of over 10 log10 infectious units of scrapie infectivity throughout the process. The implications for the safety of this coagulation product will be discussed.
Dr. Stephen R. Petteway, Jr.Bayer Biological Products is pursuing a program to assess the potential risk of transmission of human TSE by blood or plasma products. The program involves the development of in vitro assays for the detection of the pathogenic isoform of the prion protein (PrPSC/RES), the application of these assays to assess partitioning and/or removal of TSE/PrPSC/RES by plasma and biotechnology processes, and the correlation of PrPSC/RES and TSE infectivity partitioning. Data demonstrating partitioning/removal of PrPSC/RES/TSE infectivity as a result of plasma and biotechnology manufacturing processes will be presented.
January 22, 1999 By BARBARA HAGENBAUGH Reuters News ServiceWASHINGTON - Two more companies voluntarily recalled meat Friday after deadly listeria bacteria, which recently killed 11 people, was reportedly found in their products. The action raises to four the number of companies recalling their meat out of concern for listeria over the past month. In one case involving meat produced by Bil Mar Foods, a division of Sara Lee Corp, at least 11 people died and three women had miscarriages, according to the Centres for Disease Control. Agriculture Department officials said there was no evidence to link the cases. No illnesses have been reported in connection with the new recalls, officials said.
On Friday, Thorn Apple Valley Inc. recalled hot dogs and luncheon kits produced over six months at its Forrest City, Ark., plant after government tests discovered listeria bacteria in meat produced by the Southfield, Mich.-based company. Recalled products include "EST 13529" and "EST P-13529" on the packaging. Thorn Apple Valley is recalling products produced from July 6 through Dec. 30 that were sold nationwide by a variety of companies and packaged under different names, including Kroger and Safeway grocery stores. The products were also sold to companies in South Korea and in Russia, the department said.
Agriculture Department and company officials said they did not know the quantity of meat that was being recalled in the case, but some said that due to the broad range of production dates, the amount was sure to be big. From July to December, the Agriculture Department said tests found listeria in five out of 20 ready-to-eat product samples it collected.
"Based on these repetitive findings, as well as conditions found in the plant, the agency concluded that there may be a significant public health risk associated with the product being recalled," the department said in a statement. The Agriculture Department withdrew its meat inspectors from the Forrest City plant on Dec. 31, effectively shutting it down after the company did not comply with "sanitation requirements," the USDA said. The plant remains closed.
In the second case announced Friday, Bosell Foods, Inc., of Cleveland recalled 350 pounds -- a tiny amount by meat production standards -- of sliced ham. The meat was only distributed in the Cleveland area, the USDA said. Involved in the recall are half-pound packages of the "Dinner Bell" Virginia Brand Cooked Ham, Water Added, with sell-by code 2-18-1999. Packages are marked with EST 2587 in the USDA seal.
A week ago, Oscar Mayer Foods, a unit of Philip Morris Cos. , voluntarily recalled two types of luncheon meat after an elderly man in Kansas City, Mo., became sick after eating the company's deli meat. Agriculture Department tests discovered listeria bacteria in samples of the meat. Bil Mar's voluntary nationwide recall began a month ago and company officials said they expected to retrieve approximately 15 million pounds of meat. The company Wednesday took out full-page advertisements in 60 U.S. newspapers to apologize to customers.
Listeria bacteria is found in soil and in water and causes a condition called listeriosis, which is not normally contracted by healthy people. The most common manifestation of listeriosis is meningitis, which has symptoms including high fever, severe headaches, neck stiffness and nausea. Listeriosis can cause miscarriages and stillbirths and can be fatal for those with weakened immune systems, including infants, the elderly and people with chronic diseases, who are infected with HIV or who are undergoing chemotherapy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 1,850 people become seriously ill with listeriosis each year and 425 of them die. The CDC said listeriosis and other food-borne illnesses can be prevented by cooking meat thoroughly and washing raw vegetables before eating them.
Food safety experts said listeria is difficult to stop. "Listeria is ubiquitous," one expert said. "It's everywhere." Consumers with questions can call the Agriculture Department's Meat and Poultry hotline, 800-535-4555, Thorn Apple Valley, 800-316-2855, or Bosell Foods, Inc., 216-911-7600.
February 3, 1999 Associated PressWHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. - Single-serve cartons of Land O'Lakes 2 percent milk have been recalled in eight states. Ten-ounce cartons of the milk dated Feb. 10 and Feb. 11 were recalled in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Illinois and Indiana, said Kohler Mix Specialties Inc., a subsidy of Michael Foods Inc. Officials suspect contamination.
The company on Tuesday said the milk could be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems.
Kohler spokesman Mark Witmer said fewer than 1,000 cases were affected. Each case holds 24 cartons. The plant code of PLT 27-416 is printed on the top seal of the carton. There were no reports of serious illness as a result of the possible contamination, the company said. Consumers are advised not to drink the milk and to return it instead for a refund. They may call Kohler Mix at 800-248-3447 or Land O'Lakes at 800-328-4155 for further information.
January 25, 1999 Reuters News ServiceWASHINGTON - Thorn Apple Valley Inc. announced a recall Friday involving approximately 30 million pounds of hot dogs produced over six months that may be contaminated with the food bacteria listeria, a company spokesman told Reuters on Monday. The company said it estimates that due to the hot dogs' 77-day shelf life, 25 million pounds of the meat have expired and hopefully is out of consumers' refrigerators.
The company estimated that one-third of the product that had not expired was still on grocery store shelves when the recall was announced. Thorn Apple Valley is also recalling luncheon kits, but the spokesman said the amount of kits that were created is minimal. Thorn Apple Valley announced Friday that it was recalling hot dogs and luncheon kits produced over six months at its Forrest City, Ark., plant after government tests discovered listeria bacteria in meat produced by the Southfield, Michigan-based company.
Recalled products include "EST 13529" and "EST P-13529" on the packaging.
The Agriculture Department withdrew its meat inspectors from the Forrest City plant on Dec. 31, effectively shutting it down. The company spokesman said it was unclear when the plant would reopen. Listeria causes a condition known as listeriosis, which can cause miscarriages and stillbirths and can be fatal for those with weakened immune systems, including infants, the elderly and people with chronic diseases, who are infected with HIV or who are undergoing chemotherapy.
Recently, 12 people have died and three women have had miscarriages in cases linked to listeria that was found in hot dogs and deli meat produced by Bil Mar, a division of Sara Lee Corp.
Thu, Jan 14, 1999 By Andy Gales, PA NewsThe meat industry -- not the taxpayer -- will have to pay for the removal of brains and spinal cords from animals, Agriculture Minister Nick Brown announced today.
Licensed abattoirs and cutting plants now face a bill estimated at more than 21 million in the first year the proposals are implemented, starting in March. The removal of "specified risk materials", which also include spleen and tonsils from cattle and sheep intended for human consumption, was introduced for beef in 1989, with sheep and goats included in January last year. The rules are enforced by the Meat Hygiene Service.
Mr Brown said: "My colleagues and I have carefully considered the cost of these controls. "We have reluctantly concluded that we can no longer defer the introduction of charges to the industry to cover these costs and that they must be transferred from taxpayers to the industry from March 29, 1999. "SRM controls are in the fundamental interest of the industry since, by protecting animal and public health from the risk of BSE and related diseases, they enhance consumer confidence and so bolster demand for meat and meat products."
But National Farmers' Union president Ben Gill attacked the decision and said he was "deeply concerned". He went on: "SRM removal is a public health issue and as such the industry should not be expected to have to bear the costs associated with it. "Despite immense suffering, farmers have struggled to keep going through these dark months.
"This new cost would only further erode our profitability and undermine our competitiveness. This cannot be allowed to happen."