Food poisoning incidence has dropped dramatically in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports substantial declines in the rates of illness from six of seven major types of foodborne bacteria from 1996 to 2000. E. coli infections fell 21%, salmonella 15%, listeria and Shigella 35%, campylobacter 27% and yersinia 49%. Meanwhile, vibrio, a germ found in raw oysters, rose 83%.

USDA data indicates that salmonella in raw meat and poultry decreased since the full implementation of the Pathogen Reduction/Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system of inspection in 1998. HACCP is a science-based inspection system that requires establishments to develop a plan to prevent hazards and reduce pathogens in products.

The USDA data shows that salmonella prevalence in 1998-2001 in dropped in cows and bulls from an average of 2.7% before HAACP implementation to 2.2% after implementation. For steers and heifers, the average fell from 1% to 0.4%; ground beef from 7.5% to 3.4%; ground chicken from 44.6% to 15.7%; and ground turkey from 49.9% to 29.2%.

A murder over fur. At press time, Dutch authorities had arrested a vegan animal rights activist as a suspect in the May assassination of Dutch populist politician Pim Fortuyn, who was shot five times in broad daylight just nine days before legislative elections. According to press reports, Dutch authorities believe Volkert van der Graaf may have murdered Fortuyn because of the politician's plans to lift an incoming ban on fur farming in the Netherlands.

It wasn't the first-time the vegan and his cronies have turned to murder to further their cause, says a Dutch newspaper. The daily De Volkskrant reported that van der Graaf and his environmental organization had been linked to the murder of a municipal environmental official in the central Netherlands, as well.

The world needs biotech and high-yield agriculture. That's what a group of food policy experts said in defending the technologies' role in preserving the world's environment.

The group is headlined by Nobel Prize winners Norman Borlaug and Oscar Arias as well as former U.S. senators George McGovern (D-SD) and Rudy Boschwitz (R-MN). Their declaration says that biotech and high-yield agriculture are the best hope for feeding the world's growing population while preserving the world's wild spaces.

Find out more at the group's Web site www.highyieldconservation.org.

Poland recently announced its first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The country's chief veterinarian, Piotr Kolodziej, says meat from a 9-year-old cow was barred from the market after tests confirmed BSE. The news was a blow to Poland, which tests all animals over 30 months of age in a bid to keep the disease out of its borders.

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) hit South Korea again. Japan immediately banned imports of pork, beef and mutton from the country, while the South Korean government halted all beef and pork exports and shut down two-thirds of its meat markets.

At press time, the outbreak had been limited to two areas — Jincheon and Anseong. The outbreaks hit Korea at a time when thousands of soccer fans are in Seoul for the World Cup finals that began in Korea and Japan May 31. Japan has formulated plans to prevent the spread of FMD into its borders as the fans shuttle between Korea and Japan.

A new video explains basic estrus synchronization as a means to build reproductive efficiency. Offered by Select Sires Inc., the video “Beef Cattle Estrus Synchronization” provides comprehensive background information about the economics of beef cattle reproduction and the normal estrous cycle of the cow, thus setting the stage for understanding how estrus synchronization can improve profitability. To order the $20 video, call 614/733-3426 or visit www.selectsires.com.

A lot of young American children don't like bread crusts. Sara Lee is betting that such busy moms will pay 75¢ more for a loaf of bread with no crust.

The food and household products conglomerate is spending $10 million to roll out a new crustless line of its IronKids white bread. Expected to be in 60% of the country's grocery shelves by July, a Sara Lee spokesman says that the bread, which is also fortified with calcium and fiber, is the company's response to consumers demand for time-saving, nutritious products. The discarded crusts will be recycled into bread crumbs and animal feed.