Food Research Division, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, 2203D, 251 Sir Frederick Banting Driveway, Tunney's Pasture, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0K9. email@example.com
Blue-green algae and spirulina are marketed in health food stores and over the Internet as food supplements in Canada, the United States, and Europe. The reported benefits of consuming these products include improved digestion, strengthening of the immune system, and relief from the symptoms of attention deficit disorder. Some of these products have been found to contain elevated concentrations of microcystins, which are known hepatotoxins. In addition to producing microcystins, Anabaena sp. and Aphanizomenon sp. also produce the potent neurotoxin anatoxin-a. Samples of food supplements containing blue-green algae and spirulina were collected in Portugal and from urban centers across Canada in 2005. Extracts of these supplements were analyzed to determine the presence and concentrations of anatoxin-a and its two main metabolites, dihydroanatoxin-a and epoxyanatoxin-a. Initial analyses were performed using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with fluorescence detection, and confirmation required the use of LC with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS-MS). The HPLC with fluorescence detection indicated no anatoxin-a, but four samples were suspected to contain either dihydroanatoxin-a or epoxyanatoxin-a at 0.1 to 0.2 microg/g. LC-MS-MS results, however, indicated no trace of either transformation product in any sample analyzed. The detection limits for anatoxin-a, dihydroanatoxin-a, and epoxyanatoxin-a were similar for both fluorescence detection (0.2 to 0.3, 0.4 to 1.4, and 0.2 to 1.5 pg on the column, respectively) and mass spectrometry (0.3 to 1.5, 0.3 to 0.8, and 0.5 to 0.8 pg on the column, respectively). Because of the higher specificity of the LC-MS-MS analysis, all tested food supplement samples were considered free of anatoxin-a and its transformation products.
The Norwegian Action Plan against Campylobacter in broilers was implemented in May 2001 with the objective of reducing human exposure to Campylobacter through Norwegian broilers. From each flock, samples collected at the farm about one week prior to slaughter, and then again at the slaughter plant, are examined for the presence of Campylobacter. All farmers with positive flocks are followed up with bio-security advice. Sampling of broiler products at retail level is also included in the Action Plan. The aim of this study was to evaluate the existing sampling and culturing methods of the Norwegian Action Plan against Campylobacter in broilers. The material collected was pooled faecal samples, pooled cloacae samples and caecae samples from individuals. The highest number of positives, from culturing of the pooled faecal samples, the pooled cloacae swabs and the caecae swabs from individuals, were obtained at incubation temperature 41.5 degrees C. When comparing the results at incubation temperature 37 and 41.5 degrees C, the faecal samples from the farms demonstrated a high concordance, with a kappa value of 0.88. The results from culturing cloacae swabs and caecae samples from slaughter plant level at two temperatures did not agree very well with a kappa value of 0.21 and moderate value of 0.57, respectively, but were both disconcordant at a level of 0.05. Modelling farm level data indicated that if increasing the number of pooled samples per flock from two (in existing regime) to three, the flock sensitivity increases from 89% to 95%. Modelling of slaughter plant data indicated that three pooled cloacae swabs are needed to identify 90% of the positive flocks. The results from the modelling of caecae data indicated that samples from seven individuals are sufficient to identify 90% of the positive flocks and caecae samples could thus be an alternative to cloacae sampling at slaughter plant level.
An isotope dilution method based on solvent extraction followed by GC-MS analysis was developed and used to determine aniline in vegetable and fruit samples collected from the Canadian total diet study. Aniline was not detected in any of the 23 vegetable samples from the 2005 total diet study at a method detection limit of 0.01 mg kg(-1). Among the 16 fruit samples, it was detected only in apple samples, with an average concentration of 0.278 mg kg(-1). Aniline was not detected in apple samples collected in the 2002, 2003, 2006 or 2007 total diet studies, but it was detected in the apple samples collected from the 2001 and 2004 studies, at concentrations of 0.085 and 0.468 mg kg(-1), respectively. The average aniline concentration for the 2001, 2004 and 2005 apple samples was 0.277 mg kg(-1). Good repeatability of the method was observed with replicate analysis of apple samples, with relative standard deviations (RSD) ranging 3.8-21% and an average of 11%.
The occurrence of deoxynivalenol (DON) in Danish wheat flour was studied during the period 1998-2003 by either capillary gas chromatography with electron capture detection and liquid chromatography coupled to an ion trap mass spectrophotometer. A total of 151 samples were collected from mills and the retail market in Denmark. Contamination levels varied considerably from year-to-year with the highest concentrations occurring in samples from the 2002 harvest with mean and median concentrations of 255 and 300 microg kg(-1), respectively. Compared to other harvest years, 2002 had the highest amount of precipitation around flowering time, i.e. from the end of June to the beginning of July covering weeks 25-27. The lowest average levels were found in samples from the 2001 harvest, where weeks 25-27 were dry compared with other harvest years. The highest value (705 microg kg(-1)) was obtained in a flour sample from the 2002 harvest, but none of the tested samples exceeded the maximum limit of 750 microg kg(-1), which has been recently introduced by the European Commission for DON in flour used as raw materials in food products. Calculation of chronic or usual intake by a deterministic approach showed that intake did not exceed the TDI of 1 microg kg(-1) bw day(-1) either for the whole population or for children. A probabilistic approach also showed that intake in general was below the TDI, but intake for children in the 99% percentile amounted to more than 75% of the TDI. The highest intake is calculated to be 2.5 microg kg(-1) bw day(-1).
In January 2004, an increase in gastrointestinal illness following oyster consumption was reported in British Columbia. An investigation was initiated to explore the association between norovirus infection and consumption of British Columbia oysters and to identify the source of oyster contamination.
The outbreak investigation included active surveillance for human cases, two cohort studies, trace-back of oysters, and laboratory testing of oysters and human stools.
Enhanced surveillance identified 26 confirmed and 53 clinical cases over 3 months. Oyster consumption was associated with illness in one cohort and suggestive in the other. Oysters were traced to 14 geographically dispersed harvest sites, 18 suppliers, and 45 points of purchase. Norovirus BCCDC03-028 (genotype I.2) was detected in 50% of human specimens. Experimental methods detected norovirus in 12 oyster samples. Sequencing identified mixed clonal patterns in the oysters with one direct sequence match between an oyster sample and the associated human specimen.
The consumption of raw oysters led to norovirus infection. The source of oyster contamination remained unidentified. The geographical dispersion of implicated harvest sites was unusual.
This outbreak is unlike most shellfish outbreaks that can be traced back to a common source and challenges conventional thinking that all oyster-related norovirus outbreaks of are a result of point source contamination.