Fruit flies pose food safety risk

Fruit flies have long been a source of annoyance for restaurant, foodservice and food processing operators. But now, new research shows that these tiny pests can play a more sinister role: spreading illness-inducing bacterial pathogens to food and food preparation surfaces.

The study, conducted by scientists at Ecolab, the leading provider of pest elimination solutions to the foodservice, food processing and food retail industries, was recently published in the Journal of Food Protection *. The study found evidence of fruit flies’ ability to transfer harmful bacteria from a contaminated source to surfaces or ready-to-eat food. Fruit flies are present in more than half of foodservice facilities, according to data collected by Ecolab’s field team, which provides both comprehensive and localized treatment options for small flies. Continue reading

Federal inspections report rodents, unsanitary worker practices behind egg recall

A report from the Food and Drug Administration reports rodents and unsanitary conditions at a North Carolina egg distributor linked to a major salmonella contamination. It’s a case where lack of integrated pest management had serious health consequences and created food safety issues.

Inspectors found “unacceptable rodent activity” and dirty equipment at the Rose Acre Farms egg operation in Pantego, N.C., during visits from March 26 to April 11, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration report. They also noted employees touching dirty floors, equipment and their bodies without washing their hands. Continue reading

Scientists use bacteriophages to fight fire blight

in Science Daily

 

The plant disease fire blight, caused by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora, is dreaded by fruit growers. It affects apple and pear trees and other plants in the rosacea family, and if a tree becomes affected it usually has to be cleared and burned.

The pathogen that causes fire blight is difficult to control. In exceptional cases, farmers can use the antibiotic streptomycin, but even this cannot prevent the pathogen from disseminating via pollinating insects. Continue reading

Study finds pathogens in NYC’s rodent population

By Timothy S. Paul, 212-305-2676 or tp2111@columbia.edu

In the first study to look at would-be diseases carried by New York City rats, scientists at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health identified bacterial pathogens, including E. coli, Salmonella, and C. difficile, that cause mild to life-threatening gastroenteritis in people; Seoul hantavirus, which causes Ebola-like hemorrhagic fever and kidney failure in humans; and the closest relative to human hepatitis C. Results appear in the journal mBio.

Continue reading

Delivering a Virus that Gets Rid of House Flies

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have found an effective method to infect house flies with a virus that stops the flies from reproducing.

House flies can transmit hundreds of animal and human pathogens like Salmonella, Escherichia coli and Shigella bacteria, which cause foodborne illnesses. Insecticides are used to help control flies, but the pests can develop resistance to chemicals.

Continue reading