Friday, December 30, 2011
Reclassifying enterobacter sakazakii to Cronobacter and other oddities...
Enterobacter sakazakii was reclassified in 2007 and now we call it Cronobacter spp. This was proposed in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology in a paper entitled, "Identification of 'Cronobacter spp.(Enterobacter sakazakii)," authored by Carol Iversen et al. Carol Iversen is on the Faculty of the Institute for Food Safety and Hygiene-Zurich Switzerland and also in the Quality and Safety Department of Nestle Research Centre. The other authors are either from Nestle or the same Institute for Food Safety as Iversen. Two of the authors are from the Centre for Food Safety at the University College Dublin (Veterinary Sciences Centre). So I am intrigued. Why this reclassification? Is it logical? Don't know, I am not a microbiologist. But this reclassification seems to mean that enterbacter sakazakii, as a new member of Cronobacter, becomes a part of a much larger group of similar pathogens that infect mostly adults and that date back to the 1950's. So instead of viewing enterobacter sakazakii as a new emerging pathogen from the 1980's, we now have food safety experts stating that enterobacter sakazakii has been around since 1950's. I find that interesting from my perspective because of my belief that genetic engineering is causing a shift in pathogens, creating new, more virulent pathogens. Do I have the expertise to say this? No, hell no. But I am a curious person and have been a believer in organics (from growing organically to buying organic foods). I have been this way since the early 1970's. Back then I was more concerned about pesticides (having read Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in 7th grade and wrote a paper on it for science class). So in no way do I claim to be an expert on microbiology but I believe that ordinary citizens have the right to question the "experts." Those "experts" should feel some obligation to respond with references and not with wild accusations regarding conspiracy theories. It is interesting that debate in the USA is all about accusing others of conspiracy theories.
It seems that Phyllis Entis of the website of eFoodAlert believes I am a conspiracy theorist and that I am "mucking" up her comment section. Ms Entis has worked for industry as well as government on food safety issues. I am somewhat amazed by her responses to comments. She writes, "This trio of C. sakazakii infections in infants is presently only of interest to the parents of those infants, epidemiologists and press outlets that are quite aware the combination of food-borne illness, babies and death makes for good stories." I am curious as to why she thinks that parents, grandparents, everyday citizens would not be interested in this situation because it is a safety issue that involves our children. She states this is about the "trifecta of sensationalistic journalism."
I do love her comments to me, such as, "I am not wasting my whole morning finding you a citation from the 16th century, but C. sakazakii infections predate genetic modification process in which the endpoint is a product used in commercial foods." Funny, I wasn't asking for a citation from the 16th century. But interesting that now that we call enterobacter sakazakii, Cronobacter, we can state that this pathogen predates genetic modification. Bingo. Now we can say to the general public that of course, enterobacter sakazakii has nothing to do with genetic modification. And very interesting that the proposal for reclassification comes from some scientists who work for Nestle. Oh yeah this confirms that I am a conspiracy theorist, since no corporation or its scientists would just reclassify an organism so that the general public will believe that the organism is everywhere in the environment and been around since the 1950's. But you know it sure lets the infant formula industry off the hook.
Well, this is for the food safety experts. Let's talk about how a Japanese company makes amino acids. Choose a pathogen, genetically engineer it, and ferment and presto chango, L glutamic acid. Guess which one of many pathogen's this food company has listed as possible maker of L-glutamic acid? Among the many pathogens listed on their patent, we have enterobacter sakazakii (of course there are many variations of this organism, some benign and some not so tame). Name that US patent. "L-glutamic acid producing bacterium and process for producing L-glutamic acid" filed in 1999 owned by Ajinomoto Co., Inc. Patent #7247459. From the abstract, "L-glutamic acid is produced by culturing in a medium a microorganism belonging to enterobacteria and having L-glutamic productivity, into which a citrate synthase gene derived from a coryneform bacterium is introduced..." By the way, I do believe Ajinomoto Co. does supply amino acids to the infant formula industry. Is it safe? Ask your government and food safety experts....genetic engineering...never heard of it. I'll drink to that and I am not talking about having a cup of coffee.
Copyright 2011 Valerie W. McClain
**12 Known cases of enterobacter sakazakii in the US for the year 2011