Prions
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The BeefAmerica recall
BeefAmerica beef plant closed
Upton Sinclair: The Jungle -- fulltext
Butcher off scot-free on world's worst E coli outbreak
Boy, 3, dies from food-poisoning by E. coli
Meet Emma Bonino, Commissioner of the European Union
UK: 54,000 sick cows eaten early on
Scrapie outbreak in bighorn sheep rumored
Huge amounts of livestock manure a threat to natural balance
New Book: Dietary and Lifestyle Guidelines to Reduce Risk
Alzheimer's treatment having effects in rats

Boy, 3, dies from food-poisoning bug

 October 28 1997 London Times BY IAN MURRAY, medical correspondent
A CHILD has died from the E. coli bacterium, it was disclosed last night. The three-year-old boy, from the Morecambe Bay area, is believed to be one of several taken ill in Lancashire. He was admitted to Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool four weeks ago with kidney failure as a result of E. coli 0157, and died on Friday.

There are now 100,000 cases of food poisoning, resulting in up to 200 deaths, notified each year, despite higher hygiene standards. This compares with 17,000 cases and 30 deaths in 1982.

The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, in a report out today, says the most disturbing increase is in E. coli, which was virtually unknown in 1980 but infected more than 1,100 people last year. Salmonella peaked at 35,000 cases a year in 1992. Campylobacter is held responsible for 47,600 cases.

Restaurant meals are responsible for 44 per cent of reported food poisoning, home cooking 17 per cent and prepared meals 6 per cent.

Butcher cleared of world's worst E coli outbreak

October 28 1997  BY SHIRLEY ENGLISH  London Times
THE butcher whose shop was linked to the world's worst recorded outbreak of E. coli 157 food poisoning, in which 20 people died and 400 were infected, walked free from court yesterday after the case against him collapsed.

John Barr, 52, of North Lanarkshire, was found not guilty of culpably, wilfully and recklessly supplying cooked meat for an 18th birthday party on November 23 last year, the day after being told not to do so by environmental health officers.

The verdict, delivered by Sheriff Alexander Macpherson on the sixth day of the trial at Hamilton Sheriff Court, was cheered from the public benches by relatives of Mr Barr. Frank Roy, the Labour MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, described the handling of the prosecution case as shambolic.

After a week of prosecution evidence, the sheriff sustained the defence's submission that Mr Barr had no case to answer. George Moore, Mr Barr's solicitor, said that the prosecution case hinged on a telephone conversation alleged to have taken place between the butcher and a customer who had collected meat for the party.

David Moon, 66, said that after being told of the health scare he rang Mr Barr. He said that he was told by a man whom he believed to have been Mr Barr that the meat was fine. Mr Barr denied the conversation took place and his solicitor argued the evidence was not corroborated.

After the verdict, a smiling Mr Barr embraced members of his family before leaving court by a back door. He refused to comment, but Mr Moore said: "I am pleased at the outcome and pleased for him and his family. I have nothing more to say. There are other matters that are outstanding and there is going to be a full inquiry, hopefully early next year, which will raise a number of important considerations."

Mr Barr, his wife Elaine and son Martin, partners in the firm John M. Barr & Son, of Wishaw, face a further trial in January charged with contravening food safety laws.

Fay MacFarlane, 50, of Wishaw, who organised the birthday party for her daughter Lauren at the Cascade Bar, said that her family were dismayed at the outcome. "Obviously we are very upset. It is a great shock," she said. Mr Roy said:

"The shambolic ending of this case does not answer the questions for the people in Wishaw about the situation. I will be writing to the Lord Advocate to ask about the handling of these matters."

New Book Offers Insight into Spread of Mad Cow Disease and New Epidemics and Provides Dietary and Lifestyle Guidelines to Reduce Risk

Press Release of 12 November 1997
One Peaceful World
Leland Rd., Box 10
Becket, MA 01223
(413) 623-2322/Fax (413) 623-6042
Michio Kushi, Founder and Chairman
Alex Jack, Director 
Humanity is facing an evolutionary crisis. The spread of articifial food and destruction of the natural environment, including the rise of cloning and genetic engineering, are leading to new diseases, weakening DNA, and imperiling the survival of homo sapiens.

HUMANITY AT THE CROSSROADS, a new book by educators Michio Kushi and Alex Jack (One Peaceful World Press, paperback, 112 pages, $10.95) examines why new scourages are developing and how commonsense dietary and lifestyle practices can boost your natural immunity and reduce your risk of disease.

Using traditional Oriental philosophy and medicine, they speculate why prions„the infectious proteins associated with Mad Cow Disease and its human variant„arise, how they affect the brain and other organs, and how they destroy DNA.

To help reverse this process, they recommend a balanced natural foods diet, including plenty of whole grains and good quality seeds, especially sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds, to help rebuild DNA destroyed by prions.

"The world is splitting into two directions," the authors state. "One is respecting nature, natural order, and traditional wisdom. The other is oriented toward artificial intervention into natural processes. The second approach is leading to new epidemics, the artificialization of human beings, and the end of modern civilization. Humanity's natural evolution will end if the second way prevails."
HUMANITY AT THE CROSSROADS is available from One Peaceful World Press, P.O. Box 10, Becket, MA 01223; (413) 623-2322; fax (413) 623-6042; E-mail opw@macrobiotics.org. Individual copies of the book are available at $10.95 plus $3.00 postage. Trade discounts are available for bulk orders. Please contact the publisher.

Michio Kushi is the leader of the international macrobiotic community. Founder of the Kushi Institute, he lectures and advises governments and health organizations around the world. Alex Jack, director of the One Peaceful World Society, is co-author with Mr. Kushi of the bestselling The Cancer Prevention Diet and other books. Mr. Kushi is the recipient of the United Nations Writers Society highest literary award for his contributions to society.

Meet Emma Bonino, Commissioner of the European Union

Press Release 27 Oct 97
EU Commission daily online briefing site.
On 5 November 1997, from 17h to 19h (GMT+1), the European Commission is hosting an on-line debate on the INTERNET with Ms Bonino about Consumer Policy in the European Union. The discussion themes are as follows:
**Mad cow disease: Commissioner Bonino will tell you the facts.
  
**Salmonella, E-Coli and viral diseases: what is Europe
  doing on the subject of food controls?
  
**Are consumers under-informed, or rather are they over-informed?
In order to answer questions quickly, Mrs. Bonino will conduct the chat in Italian, French, English, German and Spanish only. You can ask your questions in any of these languages, and Ms Bonino will respond in the same language as the question. All questions and answers will also be translated into English.

You can put your questions now to Ms Bonino from 27 October on; however, the address of the chat is: irc://chat.europa.eu.int

For more information, please consult Europa, the European Union's Web site

Alzheimer's treatment shown effective in rats

Reuters October 28, 1997 -- By ANDREA ORR, Reuters
[Webmaster comments: This approach seems very far-fetched for Alzheimer's or CJD and does not address the issue of replacing specific neurons that are dying in specific locations of the brain.]

LOS ANGELES - A California biotech company said Tuesday a treatment in development for Alzheimer's disease appeared to work as designed in preliminary tests in rats. NeoTherapeutics Inc., based in Irvine, Calif., said it plans to start to test the effectiveness of the drug in people, and hopes to have initial results some time next year. Even if they are successful, however, additional tests would be needed and commercialization of the drug could be years away.

Still, the findings offered hope of a potential breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer's, for which there are currently no highly effective drugs. NeoTherapeutics' drug is a compound known as AIT-082, which is designed to promote regeneration of damaged nerve cells by stimulating the body to produce growth factor.

"We found if we cut the spinal cords of rats and then gave them this drug in their drinking water, within seven days, we had turned on these growth factors in their spinal cords," Alvin Glasky, president of NeoTherapeutics said. "We believe that our drug is working by generating new nerves. In other words, no matter how Alzheimer's disease occurs or how the nerve cells are killed, we are hopeful that our drug will cause new cells to be regenerated," said Glasky.
He is presenting his findings this week at the Society of Neuroscience annual meeting in New Orleans. NeoTherapeutics' research builds on a breakthrough discovery last year by researchers at the University of California at San Diego, who demonstrated that nerve cells were capable of regenerating. The problem is that the growth factor needed to stimulate them to do so somehow gets turned off in mature adults.
"The capability is built into us but does not get expressed," said Glasky.
Since that discovery, researchers have been rushing to find a way to put it into practice. But efforts to inject the missing growth factor into the brain or the site of the injury have resulted in complications like infection or an undesired hyper-growth of nerve cells. NeoTherapeutics' approach is somewhat different: it is an orally administered drug that stimulates the body to produce its own growth factor where it is needed. It has already been shown to be safe and well-tolerated in humans. Existing treatments for Alzheimer's disease are of limited benefit since they do not address the underlying cause of dying nerve cells. He said the company plans to focus later clinical trials on other spinal cord injuries, and other neurological disorders such as stroke.
"If what we are seeing is correct, then in any situation where you have nerve degeneration you should be able to see effects," said Glasky.

Huge amounts of livestock manure a threat to natural balance

October 29, 1997 By CURT ANDERSON, The Associated Press
SALISBURY, Md. -- For Bill and Cathy Green, the huge pile of chicken manure in their barn is a vital part of the cycle that earns their living. Now all that is threatened. "Why now?" asks Cathy Green. "This is a practice that's been done for years and years and years," she added.

All across America, farmers use nutrient-rich, cheap livestock manure to fertilize crops. But on Maryland's Eastern Shore, the practice is being blamed as the likely cause of an outbreak of a toxic microbe that killed fish and sickened people along the Chesapeake Bay this summer.

Although most farmers contend that science has yet to prove a link between Pfiesteria piscicida and manure run-off, others say it is only common sense but acknowledge the great reluctance to admit it.

"They know, but they're scared to say it," said Frank Morison, who grows chickens for Perdue Farms outside nearby Pocomoke. "They're worried about it affecting their livelihoods."
At the Greens' farm, after each flock of chickens is raised a small bulldozer scrapes out the droppings of some 27,000 birds. This happens five or six times a year, and the manure is stored in a big shed. Their neighbors who grow crops buy the manure, truck it away and spread it on fields. They say the plants are stronger and taller than those treated with chemical fertilizers.
"I can sure find a home for it," Bill Green said. "Everybody wants it."
But many scientists believe the extra nitrogen and phosphorous introduced into nature by the animal manure could play a role in appearance of microbes like Pfiesteria piscicida. These nutrients, which come from all animal wastes and get into waterways through rainfall, already are blamed for fish kills that result from oxygen-robbing algae blooms in water.
"Feedlots are a leading source of pollution," said Robbin Marks of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Farm animals produce mountains of manure. In fact, the Agriculture Department estimates that cattle, hogs and poultry kept in confined areas produce 61 million tons of waste a year. The 1,600 dairies in California's Central Valley, for example, produce more waste than a city of 21 million people.

The appearance of the microbe in three Chesapeake Bay tributaries -- and subsequent consumer fears that damaged the area's seafood industry -- could mean new restrictions for Eastern Shore chicken producers and may signal a change nationally in the way manure is used.

"Animal waste pollution is a national problem that demands a national solution," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who introduced a bill Tuesday in Congress to enact tougher standards for large producers.
But new regulations could upset the economic underpinnings of many farm regions. In Delaware and eastern Maryland, the annual production of 620 million chickens provides a ready supply of manure for farmers who, in turn, sell their corn and other grain to poultry companies for chicken feed. Without the locally produced grain, it would cost more to produce chickens, and without chicken manure, it would cost farmers more to grow grain.
"There's nothing wrong with it," Bill Green says of the system.
In the aftermath of the Pfiesteria outbreak, however, Maryland officials are discussing new regulations on use of manure, including methods of shipping it to other states and mandatory controls on how much is spread on fields.

Other ideas being floated to further reduce the environmental impact of manure include composting it and selling the product commercially or burning it in incinerators and selling the ash as fertilizer. Still another is using chicken litter as a supplement to cattle feed.

Scrapie outbreak in bighorn sheep rumored

from Steve Dealler's Web site
"Within the last 15 years, there has been a serious outbreak of scrapie in New Mexico amongst the wild Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep. The thing about scrapie is that it didn't really go around in epidemics but rather as endemics that came and went but generally not very much. The fact that this is an epidemic is strange, as if there is a further factor in volved (like the scrapie epidemic in Norway currently underway). This small herd was very nearly decimated, and they are near extinction. They captured as many as they could, kept them at the Rio Grande Zoo in Albuquerque, and then they were released."

54,000 sick cows eaten

Electronic Telegraph, October 30, 1997
Approximately 54,000 cows infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy entered the food chain in Britain, in the years before the disease was identified in 1986, according to a new report. The study, published in the journal Nature ['Recent trends in the BSE Epidemic' Nature, 30 October 1997, page 903] , show people were exposed to the disease as early as 1980. Up to 54,000 infected animals were slaughtered for human consumption, before clinical onset of BSE, between 1980 and 1985.
"Most of those animals were in the early stages of the incubation period so hopefully they were not very infectious," said Prof Roy Anderson of Oxford University. Contact for more information: Christl Donnelly

Upton Sinclair -- The Jungle

Fulltext online. Slaughterhouse visit begins in Chapter 3
"Perhaps best known for its effect on the United States meat packing industry (its expos» of conditions in meat packing plants led to legislation regulating the industry), it in fact builds a case for socialism."

E.coli contamination prompts yet another beef recall

 October 29, 1997 Reuters
OMAHA, Neb. - The strain of E. coli bacteria that has plagued the meat industry in recent months prompted yet another recall Wednesday involving 168,000 pounds of ground beef. BeefAmerica Operating Co. said the recall involved meat produced on Oct. 21, most of which had not reached the retail level, and that no illnesses had been associated with it.
"We believe the majority of this product is at the distribution level," BeefAmerica President Robert Norton said in an interview.
The recall was initiated after E.coli O157:H7 was found in a sample, the company said. The bacterium can cause food-borne illnesses. Earlier this month the same company recalled 443,656 pounds of ground beef for the same reason. That followed the largest meat recall in history -- 25 million pounds of boneless beef produced at a Hudson Food Co. plant in Columbus, Nebraska in August.

The beef industry said earlier this month it was setting up a safety task force aimed at reducing levels of the bacterium in meat products. Last week the Agriculture Department said it found the same strain in a 40,000-pound ground beef shipment from Canada, none of which reached the public. A 1993 outbreak of illness blamed on the strain in undercooked hamburger was blamed on the deaths of three children and for making hundreds of people sick in the Pacific Northwest.

BeefAmerica products get further safety study

WASHINGTON (October 30, 1997) - Federal food safety officials are examining compliance records at a BeefAmerica plant in Norfolk, Neb., to determine whether the company needs to recall more ground beef because of bacterial contamination, a USDA spokeswoman said Thursday.

BeefAmerica has begun a recall of 168,725 pounds of ground beef processed on Oct. 21 at the Norfolk plant after a sample was found to be contaminated with the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria, Jacque Knight, a spokeswoman for U.S. Agriculture Department Food Safety and Inspection Service, said. USDA is also checking if any of the product reached retailers or consumers, although the company believes most of the beef remains in distribution channels, she said.

The recall was the latest in a series of contaminated meat discoveries in recent months which have prompted the Clinton administration to seek tougher meat safety legislation. Knight said two Food Safety and Inspection Service compliance officers had been at the Norfolk facility since Wednesday afternoon. BeefAmerica officials said Wednesday no illnesses had been reported from the contamination and most of the beef had never reached retail stores.

Earlier this month, BeefAmerica recalled 443,656 pounds of ground beef because of E. coli contamination. That product was also processed at the Norfolk plant. USDA is trying to determine if there is any connection between the two incidents, Knight said.

USDA forced another meat processing plant in Nebraska owned by Hudson Foods Co. to recall a record 25 million pounds of frozen hamburger patties earlier this year after several people in Colorado fell ill from the potentially deadly E. coli 0157:H7 strain. Last month, South Korean officials said they had found E. coli contamination in a shipment of U.S. beef.

Nebraska beef plant closed after two meat recalls

October 31, 1997 nando.net
WASHINGTON -- The Agriculture Department took action Friday to shut down a beef processing plant in Nebraska that had recently recalled more than 600,000 pounds of meat because of E. coli contamination.

USDA withdrew its inspectors from the BeefAmerica Operating Co. plant in Norfolk, Neb., after discovering repeated violations of sanitation rules governing fecal contamination and other problems that the company had previously been warned about. Removal of federal meat inspectors effectively closes a processing plant.

"This decision is based on your inability to maintain and operate your facility in a sanitary manner," said Fernando Siores, USDA's inspector in charge, in a letter to BeefAmerica.
Among the problems cited by USDA were contamination with animal fecal matter -- the source of E. coli and other dangerous bacteria -- on finished beef products and some ready for shipment. In addition, USDA found peeling paint on surfaces that come into contact with meat and hydraulic fluid and blood was observed dripping on equipment.
"Your corrective actions have been ineffective," Siores wrote. "You have failed to prevent direct product contamination and adulteration."
In two separate tests -- one at a Virginia store and one at the plant -- the Agriculture Department found E. coli bacteria in ground beef produced at the Nebraska plant. The company this week recalled 169,000 pounds of beef and earlier in October recalled more than 443,000 pounds. No illnesses were reported in either recall, but the USDA letter says the BeefAmerica is not properly testing for E. coli contamination.

BeefAmerica officials did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment about the USDA action. They were ordered to draft by Nov. 7 a written plan with "acceptable corrective actions" to fix the problems before USDA inspectors will return. The plant shutdown was the latest food safety blow to the beef industry, which this summer endured the nation's biggest-ever meat recall when 25 million pounds of Hudson Foods Inc. ground beef was recalled because of E. coli contamination. In the latest recall, company officials said earlier Friday that about 80 percent of the beef had been returned.

BeefAmerica was checking with distribution centers in 13 states to determine whether consumers might still have beef from the most recent recall. The beef is distributed to groceries and restaurants. Those states are California, Montana, Nebraska, Missouri, Indiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Kentucky, West Virginia, Iowa, Illinois, Colorado and North Carolina.

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