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Latest Raw Milk Outbreak Blamed on Minnesota Dairy Farm

A Minnesota dairy farm’s raw milk is being blamed for six illnesses, including three that have been laboratory confirmed as Campylobacter jejuni bacteria, according to state epidemiologists.

The outbreak attributed to raw milk was reported Tuesday by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), which said routine disease surveillance was responsible for detecting the six illnesses and linking them to consumption of raw dairy products from the Dennis Jaloszyski dairy farm, located near Cambridge.

The illnesses were reported to state health authorities by local health care providers.

Minnesota Department of Health inspectors visited the farm to finding out how many people purchased the raw milk and to notify them of the outbreak. Jaloszyski claims he does not maintain customer lists, prompting the state to urge anyone who purchased the raw milk to throw it away.

When MDH contacted the six individuals to inquire about potential causes of their illnesses, all reported that they had consumed raw milk from the Jaloszynski Farm.

“We’re concerned that people may be continuing to get sick after consuming products from this farm,” said Trisha Robinson, a foodborne illness epidemiologist with MDH.

“While we are very concerned about the illnesses associated with this farm, this also is about the inherent risk for foodborne illness from any raw milk consumption,” Robinson said. “Drinking raw milk or eating products made from raw milk can expose you to a variety of pathogens that can result in anything from a few days of diarrhea to kidney failure and death. People need to think carefully about those risks before consuming raw dairy products from any source, and people need to know that the risks are especially high for young children.”

Common symptoms of Campylobacter infection include fever, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), abdominal pain, malaise, and vomiting. Symptoms generally begin 2-5 days after consumption of contaminated food. Symptoms last for about a week in most people but last for up to three weeks in 20 percent of cases.

In addition, Campylobacter infection occasionally results in complications such as arthritis and Guillain-Barré syndrome, which is characterized by the sudden onset of paralysis. Anyone who believes they may have become ill with Campylobacter should contact his or her healthcare provider.

Food Safety News

‘Tailored’ water: the latest in lawn care

In Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and other major cities in New Mexico, nearly every public golf course is now watered with treated municipal wastewater rather than precious potable water supplies. Across the U.S. Southwest as a whole, more than 40% of all golf courses receive treated effluent. Reusing the effluent increases the sustainability of golf courses.

Additionally, golf courses and homeowners alike fertilize their lawns during the growing season. The major nutrient in fertilizer is nitrate. A New Mexico State University turfgrass expert has a new vision for even more efficiency.

Bernd Leinauer, a turfgrass expert at New Mexico State University, suggests combining “fertigation,” drip irrigation, and decentralized water treatment. In a paper published in the journal Crop Science, he and co-author Elena Sevostianova detail their modern-day recipe for a lush, green lawn.

Leinauer says combining the three approaches could solve several issues. Right now, many big New Mexico cities remove nearly all the nitrate from wastewater all the time. That’s an expensive and energy-intensive step designed to prevent pollution of surface- and ground- waters. “But from a turf perspective that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” Leinauer says, since golf course managers (and homeowners) end up applying mineral nitrate fertilizers to keep turf thriving.

Fertigation is a method of supplying fertilizers to plants through irrigation water (fertilize and irrigate at the same time). Drip irrigation delivers water directly to plant roots underground, instead of sprinkling plants from above.

In Leinauer’s and Sevostianova’s vision, a decentralized treatment system at a subdivision would be “tailored” to generate effluent during the summer that contained 15 parts per million (ppm) of the nutrient nitrate. Residents would then use this water to fertigate their lawns. Because drip systems put water directly into the soil, Leinauer says, homeowners wouldn’t come in contact with it.

“Why not leave the nitrate in the water?” Leinauer asks, “Then the effluent already contains a fertilizer that the golf course operator [or homeowner] doesn’t have to buy” or manage. The tailored water from the decentralized treatment system makes this feasible. “The overall idea is to combine subsurface, drip irrigation with tailored water: water with nutrient levels tailored for the summer versus the winter.”

Will re-using this high-nitrate content water cause problems? Will the nitrate seep into the subsoil, and eventually to groundwater? Leinauer is now studying this at a test facility.

So far, results are good. Turf plots drip-irrigated with tailored water are just as green and healthy as those receiving potable water and mineral fertilizers, Leinauer says. The researchers also see little evidence of greater nitrate loss from the fertigated, drip-irrigated plots.

Still, he cautions, the results are preliminary and there are other challenges to address. For example, wastewater effluent tends to be high in salt. These problems must be solved, though, as water supplies continue to decline. In New Mexico, for example, demands on potable water from agriculture and a growing populace are so great that “basically the only water left for the landscape is treated effluent,” Leinauer says. But the issue is hardly unique to his region. Leinauer hopes researchers around the country will embark on similar studies.

“We’re doing our part here in the Southwest, but our region is completely different from, let’s say, New England, or the Midwest,” he says. “So, these questions need to be investigated more thoroughly on a regional basis.”

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society of Agronomy. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Group pushes back on latest Dirty Dozen report

The Environmental Working Group’s latest Dirty Dozen list unfairly targets apples and needlessly scares consumers about eating fresh fruits and vegetables, according to Marilyn Dolan, executive director of the Alliance for Food & Farming.

For the fourth year, apples topped the list of most pesticide-contaminated produce, EWG reports in its annual Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

But Dolan says she’s disappointed that apples are “again being unfairly targeted,” and that reporters should contact “reputable scientists, government agencies and nutritionists for more information before jeopardizing the livelihoods of family farmers and needlessly scaring consumers.”

EWG focuses on the compound DPA that is applied to apples following harvest to prevent them from scalding during cold storage. The compound is monitored as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data program and has been detected well below tolerance levels, Dolan explains.

“The residues are so low, in fact, that an independent toxicological report finds that a small child could eat 154 servings of apples every day without any impact from any residues that might be present,” she said.

Other fruits and vegetables on the Dirty Dozen list are strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet Bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, potatoes and imported snap peas.

EWG recommends consumers buy only organic leafy greens — kale and collard greens — and hot peppers, as they were “frequently contaminated with insecticides.”

EWG also released the so-called Clean Fifteen list of conventional produce with the least amount of pesticide residues.

Avocados top that list, with only 1 percent of samples showing any detectable pesticides. Other items on the list include corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangos, papayas, kiwi, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes, the report said.

“EWG’s Shopper’s Guide helps people find conventional fruits and vegetables with low concentrations of pesticide residues,” said Sonya Lunder, EWG’s senior analyst and principle author of the report. “If a particular item is likely to be high in pesticides, people can go for organic.”

Dolan said the report is based on U.S. Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency studies that make clear the residues do not pose a food- safety concern.

In fact, EWG takes aim at government’s safety standards for conventional pesticides, but those same government agencies regulate organic pesticides using many of the same stringent standards, Dolan noted.

The alliance issued a statement April 29 asking its own questions about the report, such as why EWG does not offer a link to the press release on the USDA data program, why it uses outdated information and why isn’t the report submitted to peer review.

Bryan Silbermann, chief executive officer of the Produce Marketing Association and vice chairman of the alliance, addressed the report in an email to PMA members April 30. PMA funding “helps the industry counter misinformation about pesticide residues on fresh produce and science — the same foundation we use to continuously improve food safety,” Silbermann wrote.

The alliance added, “There is no other food group where there is uniform and widespread agreement among health experts that consumption needs to be substantially increased.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

New report details latest strategies to combat fire blight

The pressure is on organic apple and pear producers to evaluate and test potential alternatives to replace the use of the antibiotics streptomycin and oxytetracycline to combat the spread of fire blight. The disease not only destroys fruit, it is highly contagious among trees and can decimate  entire orchards.

This past November, The Organic Center, based in Washington, DC, released its report, “Grower Lessons and Emerging Research for Developing an Integrated Non-Antibiotic Fire Blight Control Program in Organic Fruit,” which is geared toward organic producers and provides an update on existing management practices and state of emerging research exploring alternatives to antibiotics.FireBlight1-1Fire blight is a deadly bacterial disease that not only destroys organic apples and pears, but can decimate entire orchards. (Photo courtesy of Jay Norelli, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service)

The 28-page report, available as of March 3 for download by visiting, includes sections on management in transitioning to non-antibiotic fire blight control as well as integrated systems approach to non-antibiotic control of fire blight for both apples and pears.

The importance of current research cannot be underestimated. “U.S. organic apple and pear growers with fire blight-prone cultivars have one growing season to test, evaluate and adopt new successful non-antibiotic fire blight management tools,” the report stated. “There is a gap between the phase-out of antibiotics in late 2014 and the final results of current research projects and the translation of this knowledge into actual organic orchard practices.”

The Organic Center has estimated that the value of the organic apple and pear market to be more than $ 300 million at retail. “Washington, which leads in production, currently has over 15,000 acres dedicated to organic apple and pear orchards,” said the center.

The latest report is authored by Harold Ostenson, a nationally-recognized tree fruit consultant to the organic industry, and David Granatstein, a sustainable agriculture specialist at Washington State University. According to the report, it is possible that 70-90 percent of all organic pear and apple producers may have no alternative except to switch to nonorganic management if a viable alternative is not found.

In addition to grower information being gleaned in the field, the report also discusses a study with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Organic Research and Education Initiative headed by Ken Johnson of Oregon State University in cooperation with Prof. Tim Smith (Washington) and Rachel Elkins (California).

While the OREI project is generating some promising results, the report notes that the research project will not be completed until 2015.

“The interim year between approved antibiotics sunsetting and release of the OREI project findings leaves growers with minimal guidance and experience for non-antibiotic fire blight control,” said Jessica Shade, director of science programs for The Organic Center. “It’s unfortunate timing, as organic apple and pear demand are at all-time highs. If U.S. production declines, organic apple and pear prices could spike, or imports from South America — where the disease is not present — could greatly increase.”

In 2015, Shade said growers will be able to combine recommendations made by OSU and information provided by The Organic Center to get the most up-to-date picture of the status to control fire blight without antibiotics.

According to the report, there will be limited research results available between now and the October phaseout. “For the most part, in the single remaining fire blight season (spring 2014), each organic tree fruit grower will be the prime researcher on their orchard blocks in terms of testing and evaluating the best integrated systems approach to controlling fire blight without antibiotics,” the report stated.

Suggestions for fungal control, insect control, bloom thinning, spray coverage, tree training, soil and foliar nutrients, and cultivar and root stock selection are discussed in the report. “And, it provides detailed considerations for each stage of apple and pear production,” The Organic Center said in a press release announcing the report. “Some of the research is now validating the grower practices, such as the fire blight control from lime sulfur blossom thinning sprays.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Latest start ever to South African pear harvest

Latest start ever to South African pear harvest

The pear harvest has finally gotten under way in the Western Cape of South Africa. Danie Malan from Cape Supra who has been exporting pears for 20 years says this is the latest start to the season he has known.

“We started to harvest Williams on Monday, in all my years in this business I have never known such a late start to the season. The late start is due to an unusually cold and wet Spring which led to a slow growing season.’

There was the added complication of very heavy rain last week which has been damaging to the grape and stonefruit crops, but just served to further delay the pear harvest.

Malan says that there was no actual damage to the pear crop, in fact, “The pears are looking good, although it has been wet we have had no strong winds and December was not too hot.”

Packing in the Western Cape started yesterday and Malan expects the first vessel to be on the water by the weekend.

He goes on to say the sizes are surprisingly better than last year.

Cape Supra’s biggest export market is Germany followed by the Netherlands, the Middle East is also proving interesting as there is a big demand for small sizes which is in contrast to the European market.

Cape Supra exports over a million boxes of pears each year, 10% of the South African volume.

For more information:
Danie Malan
Cape Supra
Tel: +27 82 773 8884
Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 1/16/2014
Author: Nichola Watson

Public Health Impact Levy, Urban Ag Zoning, and GMO Ban Among Latest Western Legislative Ideas

More evidence is in to support the old theory that legislative ideas move from west to east in the United States. This is primarily because California remains a hotbed for progressive ideas of all sorts.

California Senate Bill 747 is back for 2014 in an amended form. It would allow the state to levy $ 20,000 on retailers or producers of products that might contribute to “public health epidemics” for “risk assessments and mitigation documents” which then could be used for regulatory purposes.

The “adverse impact” on public health in California would have to exceed $ 50 million before the provisions of the statute would apply. The bill as amended is scheduled for a hearing Jan. 15 before the Senate Health Committee.

Also in California, the Berkeley-based Sustainable Economics Legal Center, which helped draft and pass the state’s new Cottage Food Law, is going to be seeking support for a bill making it a right to grow food. It is essentially a measure to trump city zoning laws that often limit urban farming activities.

Some cities have eased up on urban farming as it has become a more popular activity, but not enough, according to the center’s Christina Oatfield. She says California cities are not keeping up with the urban agriculture movement.

The California bill will address the growth and sale of edible plants, but will not address the popular backyard poultry movement for producing eggs. The center has apparently decided that backyard animal farms cause more problems for cities.

Meanwhile, Big Island Councilwoman Brenda Ford wants a ban on all genetically modified crops in Hawaii County. Ford is bringing back the issue many thought was decided a month ago when Hawaii County limited GMO production to contained facilities such as greenhouses and exempted Hawaii’s genetically engineered papaya crop and its Big Island Dairy.

Ford insists that re-visiting the issue is not a waste of time, although she also said she doesn’t expect a ban to pass. What’s important, she indicated, is that the county discusses the issue going forward.

Food Safety News

Latest Motion Asks for Help With Government Documents Before PCA Trial Begins

The former quality-control manager for the now-defunct Peanut Corporation of America processing plant at Blakely, GA, says that her defense cannot make sense out 3 to 4 million documents that could be used at her trial.

In the latest motion, federal defense attorney Thomas G. Ledford says his client, Mary Wilkerson, needs access to the index numbering system the government is using to track and locate the documents.

Wilkerson is one of four former PCA executives scheduled for a federal criminal trial in February. She is charged with two obstruction of justice counts. In what’s been a continuing theme from her defense, Wilkerson wants the government to disclose its law enforcement, investigative, expert, and informant witnesses ahead of the trial.

Ledford’s motion asks the government to reveal the names, employer or agency names, job titles, mailing addresses and phone numbers for all potential witnesses so that he may prepare Wilkerson’s defense.

The motion specifically says the government needs to produce the “Bates Number Reference Guide” being used to organize the documents.

“While the government in said response dated Sept. 6, 2013, stated that it was beginning to create a Bates Number Reference Guide, the Defendant points out that she still has not received one,” Ledford writes in his latest motion.

“The Defendant hereby requests that the Government produce said Bates Number Reference Guide since it has been involved in this case about five years and the Trial is scheduled for Feb. 10, 2014, less than four months away,” the motion states.

The Wilkerson defense also says it requires not only the software and hardware for the system being used by the government to manage the documents, but also training on how to use it.

The government has until Nov. 15 to respond to defense motions, and many were filed in the pre-trial sparring that has marked the case so far.

Wilkerson is one of four PCA executives, charged with a total of 76 federal felony counts, who will be tried together in February before U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands in Albany, GA. The others are PCA’s top officers, Steward and Michael Parnell, and the former Blakely plant manager, Samuel Lightsey. The Parnell brothers have asked for separate trials.

The trial involving conspiracy and fraud is occurring about five years after contaminated peanut butter and paste from PCA plants in Georgia and Texas were linked to a nationwide outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium.

The outbreak sickened 700 and killed nine people, ending with one of the largest ingredient recalls in U.S. history, involving almost 4,000 products. PCA was headquartered in Lynchburg, VA.

Food Safety News

Demoulas Employees Question Latest Moves at Market Basket

TEWKSBURY, Mass. — A board-led attempt to cool anxieties at Market Basket stores was met skeptically by employees last week, who remained concerned over potential cuts in profit sharing and the removal of the chain’s popular chief executive officer, Arthur T. Demoulas. In a memo to employees last week, three newly elected independent directors of Demoulas Supermarkets said they have “moved thoughtfully” to improve corporate governance at the retailer, but were …

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