| A trend for raw pet food, potential growth of a toxin due to climate change, and a rise in infections from a fungicide-resistant mold have been identified as emerging risks, based on recent data.
The topics emerged in a report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
EFSA networks to monitor such issues include the Emerging Risks Exchange Network (EREN) created in 2010 and a stakeholder discussion group on emerging risks.
A total of 17 potential emerging issues were discussed in 2017 but five did not meet set criteria. These criteria are: new hazard, new or increased exposure, new susceptible group, and new driver.
Topics were classed according to categories, by hazard such as microbiological (six issues), chemical (four) or other such as antimicrobial resistance and allergies (none) and/or the driver underlying them like illegal activity (none), new consumer trends (three), climate change-related (two) and new process or technology (two).
The report concluded it cannot currently be determined whether contamination of foods with residues of pesticides used to control Zika virus vectors in South America and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O121 in flour are emerging risks.
Three example issues
The first issue relates to swine brucellosis.
[B. suis (Brucella suis biovar 1) is endemic among feral swine and occasionally has infected domestic swine. The U.S. feral swine population is estimated as much as 6 million. Sources: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control; United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service– Ed.]
B. suis is a known pathogen but the new consumer trend for this type of pet food may cause a higher risk for humans and domestic animals.
An infection was reported in a dog fed commercial raw meat pet food and raw heads of hare in summer 2016. An investigation suggested the dog was infected by eating raw meat which contained hare from Argentina.
The imported hare by-products cannot be placed on the market as raw pet food under existing legislation. (Food Safety News coverage continues below … )
Feral Swine Risks to People and Domestic Animals; swine flu, salmonella, hepatitis, E. coli and more
United States Department of Agriculture
Feral swine cause great risks to human health and safety, by harboring and transmitting diseases to people and pets and by causing collisions with vehicles and aircraft.
Feral swine are known to carry at least 30 viral and bacterial diseases and nearly 40 parasites that can be transmitted to humans, pets, livestock, and other wildlife. Wild Pig “Explosion” Now Threatens Human Health
The most common way pathogens and parasites are transmitted from feral swine to humans is through handling and butchering feral swine or eating meat that has not been cooked thoroughly.
Gloves should always be worn when handling feral swine carcasses, and meat should always be cooked to a safe internal temperature of 160oF in order to kill the parasites and pathogens that the animal may be carrying.
Harmful organisms and pathogens, carried by feral swine, which can infect humans include diseases such as leptospirosis, toxoplasmosis, brucellosis, tularemia, trichinellosis, swine influenza, salmonella, hepatitis, and pathogenic E. coli.
If you feel ill after coming into contact with or consuming feral swine meat, contact your physician or health department immediately.
Livestock, pets, and other domestic animals can also be susceptible to many pathogens carried by feral swine.
These pathogens can be spread in many ways, such as through direct contact with feral swine or their scat, by using feeding and watering containers that have been contaminated by feral swine, or by eating raw, infected feral swine meat, organs, or other tissues.
Watch for signs of illness (fever, lethargy, swelling in joints, respiratory, and reproductive problems) in your pets and contact your veterinarian immediately if signs of illness are observed.
Caution should be taken around pets and livestock that are suspected to be ill from recent contact with feral swine since some diseases can be transmitted to other animals and possibly humans.
Other risks posed by feral swine to people include attacks on individuals or collisions with vehicles and aircraft.
Feral swine have been aggressive towards and even attacked farmers, golfers, hikers, and picnickers. Aggression can be increased when they associate people with food because of handouts and improper waste disposal. State Kills 7,339 Wild Hogs, Cites “Public Health Considerations”
Feral hogs cause up to $2.5 billion in damage a year, so the government is boosting efforts to fight them
FRI, AUG 10 2018
Jeff Daniels, CNBC
- Wild hogs are in at least 39 states and cause up to $2.5 billion in damage annually.
- More than 5 million of the feral swine roam the U.S., with Texas having the biggest share.
- The pigs are a menace for agriculture but also a health risk and threat to native wildlife.
- The federal government is spending about $30.5 million annually to fight the problem and may get more money from the 2018 farm bill.
If wild pigs could fly, Texas farmer Richard Beyer wishes they would travel far, far away.
He grows corn, cotton, rice and grain sorghum along the Gulf Coast and estimates damage from feral swine can sometimes wipe out one-fifth of his crop.
“They root up and make holes and tear up cotton fields,” he said. “For corn, rice, and grain sorghum, they are pretty terrible on it too.”
Beyer said feral swine have been around as long as he can remember but it used to be one or two caught occasionally in fields and they were manageable. “They’ve gotten a lot worse — so bad that you can’t hardly trap them anymore because the numbers are so big.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates feral swine costs at about $1.5 billion in damage annually, although experts at the University of Georgia suggest the cost may be closer to between $2 billion to $2.5 billion. The damage to agriculture is estimated at just under $1 billion annually.
In response to the problem, Congress provided $20 million in funding in 2014 for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to create a national feral swine eradication program. That amount was increased by the Trump administration to $30.5 million. Read more.
Food Safety News coverage continues …
The second issue is the increasing incidence of three naturally occurring biohazards worldwide – cyanobacteria, diatoms, and dinoflagellate blooms.
Scientists worry that this toxin could magnify in the food chain, culminating in human consumption.
The third concern is an increase in infections with azole-resistant Aspergillus spp.
Azole resistance in the mold Aspergillus spp. caused by frequent application of azole fungicides in agriculture with modifications in agricultural practices might promote an increasing environmental exposure for humans with azole-resistant Aspergillus spores. Emergence of azole resistance in Aspergillus spp. might result in higher pesticide residues and multiple residues of different fungicides in plant foods.
[“Firstly reported in the USA and soon after in Europe, azole resistance has now been described worldwide.” – National Institutes of Health]
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No conclusion on emerging risk
One of the risks not concluded on involved possible contamination of foods with residues of pesticides used to control Zika virus vectors in South America.
Nine of the 26 recommended vector control pesticides were not included in the 2012–2014 EU-coordinated control programme (EUCP) while two were on the list but only for animal products.
Preliminary analysis based on pesticide residue monitoring data showed no significant change in detection rates or rate of maximum residue level (MRL) exceedance between 2014 and 2015.
The public health emergency was declared from Feb. to Nov. 2016, so evidence of increased use or residues in food crops would be found in 2016 data, which was at the time largely unavailable.
To combat this, EREN members shared results on national data from 2016 monitoring plans on cyphenothrin, phenothrin, methoprene, naled, novaluron, temephos and prallethrin, permethrin and resmethrin and EFSA alerted DG Health and Food Safety to include the above vector control pesticides in the EUCP.
Another non-concluded issue involved STEC in flour. Outbreaks of E. coli O121 were reported in the United States and Canada in 2015 and 2016. Prior to these incidents, it is not thought such outbreaks were commonly reported.
Recommendations by the emerging risk networks included Germany and Switzerland sharing results of a monitoring program with EREN and INFOSAN and EFSA presenting to the Biological Hazards and Contaminants Unit and BIOHAZ panels and the International Microbiological Food Safety Liaison Group.
The EFSA Stakeholder Discussion group on Emerging Risks (StaDG-ER) concluded no cases are reported in Europe due to different agricultural practices.
Food poisoning due to squashes and other cucurbits was also discussed but not considered an emerging issue.
In the last five years, French poison control centers have recorded more than 350 cases of food poisoning due to cucurbits. Consumption of inedible vegetables occurs due to mislabeling of products in supermarkets or self-cultivated inedible plants. Poison Apples: Not Just in Fairy Tales Any More
Unilever and Coca-Cola also gave an insight into their emerging risk activities.
Unilever has a system to monitor potential emerging issues including internal control at the company, e.g. consumer care lines, comparison of processes and products with other companies, regular checks on the government control systems (e.g. RASFF), liaison with academia and non-governmental organizations, as well as regular monitoring of the media.
Issues identified were grouped into 38 topics and five different focus areas. The firm uses a matrix to classify an issue’s relevance to stakeholders by plotting importance to them against impact on the business (’moderate’, ‘high’ and ‘very high’).
Horizon scanning at Coca-Cola was implemented through a third party which delivered monthly reports through an emerging risk screening tool.
Coca-Cola’s advanced warning system has been operating since 2005. The internal network can capture and assess the relevance of potential issues for the firm’s supply chain.
Sources of information monitored are: RASFF, involvement in external industry networks, supplier, customer and academic networks, the media and food fraud databases.
(Republished with permission of Food Safety News. To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)