The 'other' E. coli

For some years, the US government has concentrated on one strain of E. coli: O157:H7. But according to a white paper, entitled “Public Health Importance of Non-O157 Shiga Toxin Producing Escherichia coli (non-O157 STEC) in the US Food Supply,” authored by Denise R. Eblen (USDA, FSIS,OPHS), numerous serotypes of E. coli have been found to be just as problematic as O157 in food-borne disease outbreaks that have been associated with ground beef. Some of these serotypes include O26, O103, O111 and O145. These non-O157 STEC serotypes have also been found in ground beef and on cattle hides and feces at levels comparable to E. coli O157. While O157 was implicated in a large outbreak associated with spinach in 2006, non-O157 STEC have been isolated from produce.

Eblen states that it is difficult to distinguish pathogenic non-O157 STEC strains from non-pathogenic E. coli because the former rarely posses any distinguishing phenotypic or biochemical characteristics from the latter. The lack of reliable and validated laboratory methods for testing various food matrices has meant that food is not routinely tested for non-O157 STEC. She suggests that further research is needed to support new and better targeted detection methods.

When O157 seemed to be the obvious cause for most contaminations, the non-O157 types just weren’t considered-nor were labs set up for them. According to a 2003 paper entitled, “Non-O157 Verotoxin-Producing Escherichia coli: A Problem, Paradox, and Paradigm,” authored by Karl A. Betteleheim (Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine), the testing media was designed for isolation of O157:H7 because the large number of outbreaks of human illness were attributed to this serotype. Thus, many labs around the world have screening of human or animal feces limited to O157:H7. However, according to Bettleheim, there are more than 60 STEC serotypes that have been associated with human illnesses.

USDA spokeswoman Amanda Eamich says that scientists are becoming increasingly aware of non-O157 bacteria, and that improved lab technology lets them detect other, previously undocumented, strains of the bacteria. USDA, FDA and CDC are working with the private sector to define, monitor and control other strains of E. coli bacteria in food or raw products. Still, much work needs to be done-both in technology and minimal regulations for testing.

Campbell realigns

Campbell Soup Company has announced a realignment of its North American business to streamline the company’s management structure. The company’s US Soup, Sauces, and Beverages retail businesses (Campbell USA), North America Foodservice and StockPot, and the business in Canada will now comprise an organization known as North America Soup, Sauces, and Beverages. Denise Morrison, who is being appointed President-North America Soup, Sauces and Beverages, will lead the new organization. She will report to Douglas R. Conant, president and CEO. Under the new structure, the company’s Pepperidge Farm and Godiva Chocolatier businesses will report directly to Conant. Mark Sarvary, executive vice president and president-Campbell North America will leave the company. He joined Campbell in 2002 as president of Pepperidge Farm, and was appointed president of Campbell in 2005.

Global food demand to double by 2050

According to Dow Jones Newswires, the International Policy Council, predicts that global food demand will double by 2050, and research in increasing agricultural production will be key to feeding the world’s population. The increased food needs will come mostly from developing countries, and production will need to be increased using less water and land than the world is currently using.

According to Bob Thompson, agricultural policy expert with the University of Illinois, “There is no way Asia or the Middle East will be self-sufficient in food.” While the world’s population is expected to grow by 40% to 9.1 billion people by 2050, including a 33% rise to 5.2 billion people in Asia, this is only part of the problem. Thompson said that as income rises between $2/day and $10/day in China, people will eat more meat, vegetables, dairy, and edible oils, causing a rapid growth in demand for agricultural commodities. In China, 46.7% of the population is still living on less than $2 a day, and 16% on less than $1/day.

Climate change threatens to reduce potential agricultural output, and therefore, crop breeding for new climates and management farming systems that use less water are needed.

Groups form open standards body for automation

ISA, MIMOSA (Machinery Information Management Open Systems Alliance), the OPC Foundation, the Open Applications Group Inc. and the World Batch Forum (WBF) have established OpenO&M, a cooperative forum where members can work together to solve automation challenges through standardization and harmonization of industry guidelines.Each organization has a different scope and focus for their individual standards and specifications work. The principal organizations in OpenO&M are working to ensure a cohesive set of standards, harmonize divergent and competitive approaches to standardization, avoid duplication of efforts and eliminate confusion among users. More information about OpenO&M can be found at

Wireless in the air

Wireless is hot, but needs standards.


State of Food Manufacturing

Materials issues are emerging as defining factors in today’s food and beverage industry.

Fabulous Food Plant-Gatorade: Sustainability with Attitude

Corporate environmentalism has a squishy, public relations feel. When sustainable practices shaped a Gatorade plant, there was actual meat on the bones.

Packaging Operations: The good, the bad, the ugly

The push for standards and the end of islands of automation will help improve packaging line effectiveness.

Tech Update: Pumps

Mechanical seals with a nanoscale diamond coating promise longer run times in select food-pumping applications.

SPC software pays for itself in one year

Consolidated Biscuit Company reduces the giveaways.

People, Plant and Industry News

Smucker Foods of Canada acquired the Canadian Carnation brand canned milk products business from Nestlé Canada, including the rights to use the Carnation brand for these products in Canada. Branded milk products include evaporated milk, thick cream and skim milk powder. Annual net sales of these products are valued at approximately $50 million.


Amish Naturals, Inc. acquired Prima Pasta, Inc., a manufacturer of artisan pasta based in Los Angeles, CA. Prima Pasta will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amish Naturals, which is based in Holmesville, OH.


Stellar, food processing design-build and engineering firm, has been named the nation’s number-one “green” industrial contractor by Engineering News-Record.


Marel Food Systems opened its first Innovation Center at its headquarters in Lenexa, KS. The company has invited universities to conduct ongoing performance evaluations in production efficiency along with other research projects. Marel has also opened a new representative office in Qingdao, China where Jerry Lee has assumed the post of general manager. Lee was a former employee of Icelandic China plc.


Bosch Rexroth Corp. appointed Jeff Blackman to the position of vice president-automation sales. Blackman will be responsible for the Linear Motion and Assembly Technologies, Electric Drives and Controls and Pneumatics Groups in the US.


Langley Holdings PLC has acquired the business and assets of Bradman Lake, the integrated packaging technologies group. Based in the UK with subsidiaries in Germany and the US, Bradman Lake produces integrated cartoning, wrapping and end-of-line packaging systems for food manufacturers.


Irwin D. Simon, president and CEO of the Hain Celestial Group, has been appointed to the New York State Council on Food Policy. The New York Council is chaired by Patrick Hooker, New York State agricultural commissioner.


Jacqueline Neal was appointed president of Glory Foods, a producer of Southern-style heat-and-serve products. Prior to joining Glory Foods, she served in various positions with M&M/Mars, Quaker Oats, Heinz, Nabisco and Kraft.


Bosch Packaging Technology formed a strategic collaboration with Osgood Industries (Oldsmar, FL) to expand its presence in the American dairy and food markets. Osgood will serve as a sales representative for Bosch’s line of aseptic processing equipment for food applications.