Botulism’s deadly paralysis may be reversed by novel treatment

A  novel treatment for botulism that may tame the toxin with therapeutics that have the potential to reverse the deadly paralysis — all coming out of Boston Children’s Hospital. The research on mice is being called a “botulism breakthrough” by Science Daily, the first to publish the work.

With fewer than 1,000 confirmed cases a year in the United States, botulism is a rare poisoning caused by toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. It can be fatal and requires immediate emergency medical care.

Botulism can occur in infants, be spread in food, or infect a wound. Symptoms include difficulty swallowing or speaking, facial weakness, and paralysis. The paralysis usually affects muscles used for breathing, making it necessary for patients to be placed on ventilators.

Toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum can become fatal once they get into the neurons because at that point they’ve not been treatable.

These are the … Read more

Resilience in food safety for 2021: Consumer related challenges

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Editor’s note: In part two of this four-part series with SafetyChain Software, Food Safety News reviews how food firms can become resilient in the face of 2021’s new challenges, how resilience will be needed in reducing supply chain risks.

Dr. David Acheson, CEO & president of The Acheson Group, suggests that food firms will need resilience when addressing consumer-related challenges in 2021.

Consumer shift away from preservatives
A recent survey found that seven in 10 Americans are concerned about the presence of chemical products in food. The poll by Mérieux NutriSciences and bioMérieux also found that 70 percent of respondents were troubled about pesticides, antibiotics and additives.

Acheson points to preservatives as an issue specifically on consumers’ minds.

“When it comes to appealing to consumers, pure science doesn’t always win. For example, consumers have pushed for a shift away from preservatives recently,” Acheson said. “When these additives are removed … Read more

Plan launched to reduce risk of emerging zoonoses

A drive to prevent emerging zoonotic risks and diseases such as COVID-19 has been unveiled and is being led by France.

The Preventing Zoonotic Diseases Emergence (PREZODE) initiative was announced at the One Planet Summit for Biodiversity on Jan. 11. Zoonotic diseases or zoonoses are caused by germs that spread between animals and people and can be foodborne.

Three French institutes have teamed up with 10 other research bodies in France, Germany and the Netherlands on the project that involves more than 1,000 researchers in 50 countries. These institutes are the Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE) and Research Institute for Development (IRD).

Ready to go in 2022
Others involved are the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES), Institut Pasteur, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut in Germany and … Read more

Contaminated corn flour used in making ‘sour soup’ behind 9 deaths in China

Nine people died in China after eating food contaminated with 20 to 30 times the lethal dose of a toxin, according to a study.

In October 2020, nine people in Jidong County, Heilongjiang Province died after consuming a homemade fermented corn flour product called sour soup for breakfast. The food was contaminated by Burkholderia cocovenenans, which can produce bongkrekic acid. In China, B. cocovenenans is often called Pseudomonas cocovenenans.

Bongkrekic acid was detected in food and biological samples at 330 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) and 3 milligrams per liter (mg/L), respectively. The amount of bongkrekic acid consumed by the cases was 22 to 33 times the lethal dose for humans, according to the study published in China CDC Weekly.

Consumption of fermented corn flour products, deteriorated fresh tremella — an edible fungus — or black fungus and metamorphic starch products may cause bongkrekic acid poisoning. Health education should be … Read more

FDA’s outgoing Commissioner delivers swan song in recent breakfast remarks

Editor’s Note:  Outgoing FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn spoke on Jan. 6  at the Brazda Breakfast hosted by the Alliance for Health Policy, a Washington D.C. -based think tank.  That turned out to be the morning of the Capitol Hill riot, so Hahn’s remarks did not get much attention. An acting commissioner,  perhaps Janet Woodcock or Joshua Sharfstein, will take over for Hahn by Inauguration Day, so we wanted to catch up with what Hahn had to say, especially regarding food safety.

Hahn became FDA Commissioner in December 2019, moving from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston where he was chair of radiation oncology. His arrival at FDA came only a few weeks before the coronavirus pandemic was declared, putting Hahn at the center of the government’s response.

What follows are mostly excerpts from Hahn’s remarks at the breakfast.

“As always, the new year brings with it … Read more