MICROBIAL FOOD CONTAMINATION. Charles L. Wilson and Samir Droby, eds. CRC Press LLC, 2000 N.W. Corporate Blvd., Boca Raton, FL 33431. Phone 800-272-7737, fax 800-374-3401, or www.crcpress.com. ISBN 0-8493-2229-4. 2001. 290 pp. No price given.

This compilation of presentations made at a U.S./Israel workshop held in West Virginia in late 1998 deals with a wide variety of subjects. Information is provided on chlorine dioxide-based antimicrobial packaging film, biosensors, rapid conventional, plus PCR and alternative genomic-based methods for bacterial detection and identification, as well as ribotyping. The book also deals with viruses and protozoan parasites in food. There are sections on natural antimicrobials, competitive exclusion of toxigenic molds, mycotoxins (fumonsin, aflatoxin) and biotechnology solutions for the control of post harvest diseases of fruits and vegetables. Food irradiation and physical methods for bacterial control are discussed. There is a chapter on risk assessment, application of kosher law in the U.S., implication of foodborne contamination on international trade (Israel perspective), and a detailed description of Codex Alimentarius. 

Sections on viruses and protozoans, use of PCR, as well as the mechanism of aflatoxin action were thorough and comprehensive. A detailed description of automated ribotyping was provided with emphasis on technique and applications. While sound, chapters on irradiation and natural antimicrobials appeared cut short. Cleaning and sanitation were included as physical control methods, but were given superficial treatment in the former, while only some plant-derived natural antimicrobials were discussed in the latter chapter. 

Chapters on fumonsin and use of biocontrol agents to prevent plant diseases were more relevant to feed safety and plant health than food safety. The section on biosensors was repetitious, dealt with only three applications, and left the reader wanting more information. The section on rapid methods for bacterial detection and identification contains information presented elsewhere, and new information included appears in more detail in the chapter on ribotyping. 

The book title has not been well chosen. There are unexpected inclusions and omission of subjects anticipated to be present. It is not an overview of food contamination by microorganisms and includes information on plant health and some toxins of questionable relation to human health. There is a wide variety of information included of value to those with special interest. Thus, it could not be recommended as a general text on food contamination. Several strong chapters will be of value to the food microbiologist, and it will serve as a useful record of the workshop.

Richard A. Holley, Dept. of Food Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.

NATURAL EXTRACTS USING SUPERCRITICAL CARBON DIOXIDE. Mamata Mukhopadhyay. CRC Press LLC, 2000 N.W. Corporate Blvd., Boca Raton, FL 33431. Phone 800-272-7737, fax 800-374-3401, or www.crcpress.com. ISBN 0-8493-0819-4. 2000. 339 pp. No price given. 

If you are reading this review while drinking your decaffeinated coffee or lager, it is likely that you are enjoying the benefit of the use of supercritical carbon dioxide at some stage in their production. The field of supercritical fluids in general has become even more interesting in recent years as researchers strive to enhance the fluid properties and extend their utility in many new areas of application. As a viable “green” alternative to essential but often undesirable industrial solvents, the final decade of the last century produced considerable new insights on enhancing the solvating power of carbon dioxide by introducing novel CO2-philic materials for more efficient extraction at lower pressures. The focus of this book, as the title implies, is limited to only the classic uses of supercritical technology for natural production extraction. 

The book is very well written and easy to follow. It covers the current and newer areas of production of extracts from a host of natural products for food, pharmaceutical, and medicinal applications. Starting with the fundamentals of supercritical fluids, it gradually adds layers of understanding of the basic concepts of phase equilibria and transport processes for design and operation of supercritical extraction process of plants in the first three chapters. The next eight chapters are devoted to the specifics of extraction of flavors and fragrances, fruits, spices, herbs, colors, antioxidants, lipids, and pesticides. The chapter on herb extracts also includes descriptions of a few recently developed herbal products that were in use in the Far East region of the world for a long time. 

A unique feature of this book is the inclusion of a rather large database, covering both the fundamental and application aspects of many extraction processes and their products. The author has also provided some very useful data on economic comparison of the performance of supercritical carbon dioxide extraction processes with the more conventional contemporary processes practiced by various industries. It would indeed help alleviate the often-expressed apprehension regarding the commercial viability of this high-pressure technology. This is an excellent source book for those individuals who are interested in supercritical fluid technology for use in natural product extraction and processing.

S.S.H. Rizvi, Professor, Institute of Food Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

NITRITE CURING OF MEAT: THE N-NITROSAMINE PROBLEM AND NITRITE ALTERNATIVE. Ronald B. Pegg and Fereidoon Shahidi. Food & Nutrition Press, Inc., 6527 Main St., P.O. Box 374, Trumbull, CT 06611. ISBN 0-917678-50-8. 2000. 268 pp. $110 

While nitrite curing of meat has been ongoing for centuries, the so-called “nitrite problem” has been in existence for about 40 years. On one hand, the positive benefits and safety record of cured meats are absolutely impeccable. On the other hand, sporadic and nagging questions continue to surface about the possible implications to human health of consuming nitrite-cured meat. Therefore, the publication of a book which addresses the broad topic is a welcome addition to the scene. 

Several logically arranged chapters give the reader good, concise background information. Then, the stage is set in chapter 8, where questions are raised about potential health concerns related to consuming meat cured with nitrite. The authors conclude their book with a chapter about possible substitutes for nitrite. A complete description of the novel process of using preformed cooked cured meat pigment (CCMP) and what the future holds for the concept is given. 

The book is easily readable, well documented, and has a complete and usable index. Each chapter eases into the topic with a review of basics, then the authors proceed to a review of and comment on current literature and feelings of the scientific community. This approach make the book useful as both a teaching tool and a reference text. Chapter 3, about the color of meat, is excellent and should be studied carefully by anyone interested or working in the area of meat pigments. 

I believe the book could have been improved by including a chapter on the vast amount of work recorded in the past decade about nitric oxide. This work encompasses not only the critical physiological functions of the compound, but also the mode of formation in the human body. This seems especially important since nitric oxide is the active ingredient in meat curing. 

I recommend the book and assume it will find a wide circulation.

Robert G. Cassens, IFT Fellow, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin, Madison.