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1/17
2009
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Georgia Lab Test Confirm Salmonella Contamination in an ¡°Unopened¡± Tub of Peanut Butter
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
Laboratory tests by the Georgia Department of Agriculture have confirmed Salmonella contamination in some peanut butter manufactured by the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) processing facility in Blakely, Georgia.
We have confirmation for Salmonella,¡± said Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin. ¡°The sample that tested positive came from an unopened five-pound tub of King Nut Creamy Peanut Butter with ¡°Best Before 1/07/10¡± collected at the plant by one of our inspectors.¡±
Further testing will be required to determine if this is the type of Salmonella linked to illnesses across the country.
Posted on January 16, 2009 by Bill Marler

Toll Rising - 448 sickened with Peanut Butter Salmonella Typhimurium - 99 Hospitalized and 5 Deaths
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/The CDC just reported that the number now is 448 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 43 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (1), Arizona (8), Arkansas (4), California (60), Colorado (10), Connecticut (8), Georgia (6), Hawaii (1), Idaho (10), Illinois (5), Indiana (3), Iowa (1), Kansas (2), Kentucky (3), Maine (4), Maryland (7), Massachusetts (40), Michigan (25), Minnesota (33), Missouri (8), Mississippi (1), Nebraska (1), New Hampshire (11), New Jersey (18), New York (18), Nevada (5), North Carolina (1), North Dakota (10), Ohio (57), Oklahoma (2), Oregon (5), Pennsylvania (13), Rhode Island (4), South Dakota (2), Tennessee (8), Texas (6), Utah (3), Vermont (4), Virginia (20), Washington (13), West Virginia (2), Wisconsin (3), and Wyoming (2). Among the 432 persons with dates available, illnesses began between September 08 and December 31, 2008. Patients range in age from <1 to 98 years; 48% are female. Among persons with available information, 22% reported being hospitalized. Infection may have contributed to five deaths.

Still no response to my TO DO LIST:
1. Make sure ALL product is promptly recalled;
2. Do not destroy any documents;
3. The companies should pay the medical bills and all related expenses of the innocent victims and their families;
4. The companies should pay the cost of all related Health Department, CDC and FDA investigations;
5. Provide all bacterial and viral testing of all recalled product and any other tested product (before and after recall);
6. Release all inspection reports on the plants by any Governmental Entity or Third-party Auditor;
7. Release all Salmonella safety precautions taken by either King Nut or Peanut Corporation of America - especially after the 2007 Salmonella Peanut Butter Outbreak;
8. Provide the public with the Epidemiological investigation (with names redacted), so it is clear who knew what and when about the likely source of the outbreak; and,
9. Show the public what is being done to prevent the next outbreak.

FDA NEWS: Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak Updated: January 16, 2009

More Peanut Butter Recalled in Salmonella Outbreak
By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter
Wednesday, January 14, 2009; 12:00 AM
Source of Article: http://www.washingtonpost.com
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- A nationwide recall of peanut butter made in a Georgia plant was issued late Tuesday even as the number of people sickened by salmonella-contaminated peanut butter rose to 425 in 43 states.
Peanut Corp. of America, based in Lynchburg, Va., issued the recall of 21 lots of peanut butter for possible salmonella contamination. The product was made at a plant in Blakely, Ga., on or after July 1, 2008, and sold under the brand name Parnell's Pride and by the King Nut Company as King Nut, the Associated Press reported.
Peanut Corp., which also has plants in Virginia and Texas, makes the product for bulk distribution to institutions, food service industries and private label food companies.
The recall follows findings that bacteria in an open container of King Nut creamy peanut butter in Minnesota was a genetic match to the strain of salmonella that has struck across the country.
Meanwhile, state health officials said Tuesday that one death in Minnesota and two in Virginia were probably tied to the outbreak.
It's not known for sure that the three people, whose names and hometowns haven't been released, died from salmonella infection, but officials in both states said all three were infected with the outbreak strain, USA Today reported.
"This is a complex, widespread outbreak that appears to be ongoing," said Lola Russell, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For its part, Peanut Corp. issued a statement from its owner and president, according to AP. "We deeply regret that this has happened," Stewart Parnell said. "Out of an abundance of caution, we are voluntarily withdrawing this produce and contacting our customers."
On Monday, Minnesota health officials reported that lab tests on a tainted five-pound tub of peanut butter collected from a long-term care facility produced the genetic match. The Minnesota report, issued on its Department of Health Web site, was a follow-up to initial tests done last week.
Officials from the Minnesota Departments of Health and Agriculture had issued a product warning Friday after preliminary testing indicated the presence of salmonella in the peanut butter. Late Saturday, King Nut, of Solon, Ohio, announced it had issued a recall of King Nut peanut butter and Parnell's Pride peanut butter with the lot code "8." Both brands are manufactured by Peanut Corp. On Sunday, Kanan told the AP that the recall involved 1,000 cases of peanut butter. Peanut Corp. had issued its own statement on its Web site late Saturday, confirming the salmonella finding. The statement added, however, that the finding "leaves open the possibility of cross-contamination from another source. PCA is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other agencies to determine whether the currentoutbreak could be at all related to products made in the PCA facility."
Reports of people sickened have occurred between Sept. 3 and Dec. 31, 2008, with most illnesses starting after Oct. 1. About 18 percent of those who fell ill were hospitalized.
The strain of salmonella has been identified as Salmonella Typhimurium, the most common of the more than 2,500 types of salmonella bacteria in the United States. It's often found in uncooked eggs and meats, said CDC officials.
The recall and the potential link to the multi-state outbreak come two years after ConAgra recalled its Peter Pan brand peanut butter, which had been linked to at least 625 salmonella cases in 47 states.

More information
To learn more about salmonella, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. SOURCE: Jan. 12, 2009, news release, Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Agriculture; Jan. 12, 2009, news release, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Jan. 10, 2009, statement, King Nut Company, Solon, Ohio; Jan 10, 2009, online statement, Peanut Corporation of America; Associated Press; USA Today


More regulation urged following salmonella outbreak
By Jane Byrne, 12-Jan-2009
Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/
A leading US food lawyer claims that the second major US Salmonella outbreak in less than 24 months involving peanut butter suggests an industry wide problem and shows the need for more intense regulation, as well as faster detection methods.
Fred Pritzker, who practices extensively in foodborne illness litigation, has urged the companies responsible to immediately pay medical bills and wage losses for those sickened by the outbreak, as well as compensating consumers who purchased the recalled product.
The source of this outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium, which according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has sickened at least 400 people in 42 US states, has been traced to tainted King Nut brand peanut butter.
The Ohio based company announced a recall of its peanut butter after the Minnesota Department of Health said it found evidence that the product may be the source of the pathogen.
The King Nut peanut butter is manufactured by the Peanut Corporation of America, and is only sold to non-retail food outlets.

ConAgra recall
In early 2007, ConAgra was forced to recall Peter Pan and Great Value branded peanut butter products linked to its contaminated manufacturing facility in Georgia.
The CDC then linked about 628 cases of Salmonella illness across 47 states to consumption of the ConAgra product.
The recall alone cost the food manufacturer a reported $66m, demonstrating the huge sums food companies incur when hygiene controls in the plant go awry, which does not include the additional impact on brand loyalty and customer trust.

FDA criticised
Pritzker questions the stringency of current microbiological testing in food processing plants, particularly in relation to food with long shelf life such as peanut butter, arguing that the product should not be allowed to leave the plant unless its safety is confirmed.
The food safety lawyer claims that more resources must be devoted to federal food safety, both in terms of contamination prevention and in detection time: ¡°The current system is undermined by too much fragmentation of responsibility and not enough coordination between federal, state and local agencies.¡±
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) came in for heavy criticism during the summer of 2008 for falsely correlating a nationwide Salmonella outbreak with US grown tomatoes.
The outbreak, in which around 1,400 people became ill, was eventually traced to jalapeno peppers grown in Mexico.

Research
Meanwhile, US researchers claim to have developed a new technology to detect illness causing bacteria that could remove the need for product recalls and protect the health of consumers. The Oregon State University group said their method, the details of which were published in the journal, Microbial Biotechnology, is more directly related to toxicity assessment than the conventional techniques to test food for bacterial contamination and safety. According to lead researcher Janine Trempy, the team¡¯s novel approach is based on previous research looking at the colour changes in pigment-bearing cells from Siamese fighting fish. She explained that studies have found that when Siamese fighting fish encounter certain stressful or threatening environmental conditions, such as exposure to toxic chemicals like mercury, the erythrophores change appearance, and the pigment moves in a characteristic pattern to an internal part of the cell. Trempy said that the change in pigment location in response to a toxic chemical is rapid, obvious and can be numerically described. ¡°We discovered that the pigment bearing cells, erythrophores, respond immediately to certain food associated, toxin producing bacteria responsible for making humans sick,¡± she continued. ¡°There is the potential to directly assess the toxic behaviour of the contaminating bacteria, not just the simple presence of the DNA or protein of these bacteria.¡± She added that the method can detect food-associated bacteria such as Salmonella and Clostridium perfringens.
Trempy said that further work is also required to develop a pigment bearing cell for mass production and commercial use and that the team anticipate that portable kits could result that would enable food processors, distributors and handlers, or even consumers to quickly test food for contaminating bacterial toxicity.


Kellogg issues warning on peanut butter crackers
Source of Article: http://www.ift.org/news_bin/news/news_home.shtml
1/15/2009-Kellogg Co. has announced that it is recommending that consumers not eat its peanut butter crackers because they may be tainted with Salmonella. It is putting a hold on Austin and Keebler branded Toasted Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Crackers, Cheese and Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, and Peanut Butter-Chocolate Sandwich Crackers. This is a result of the Food and Drug Administration indicating that Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) is the focus of their investigation concerning a recent Salmonella outbreak thought to be caused by tainted peanut butter. PCA is one of several peanut paste suppliers that the company uses in its Austin and Keebler branded peanut butter sandwich crackers.

Kellogg's investigation has not indicated any concerns, nor has the company received any consumer illness complaints about these products. Nonetheless, Kellogg Company is taking precautionary measures including putting a hold on any inventory in its control, removing product from retail store shelves, and encouraging customers and consumers to hold and not eat these products until regulatory officials complete their investigation of PCA.
¡°Consumer health and safety is our top priority," said David Mackay, President and CEO, Kellogg Co. ¡°We are taking these voluntary actions out of an abundance of caution.¡±

Study Examines Why Restaurant Workers Don't Wash Hands and Follow Other Food Safety Practices
Source of Article: http://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/
01/12/2009
Why do restaurant workers -- who handle an estimated 70 billion meals and snacks in the U.S. every year -- sometimes not follow common food safety practices such as washing their hands properly or keeping work surfaces sanitary?
According to a recent Kansas State University study, restaurant workers blame time constraints, inconvenience, inadequate training and inadequate resources for failure to follow food safety practices.
K-State researchers conducted focus groups with restaurant employees to identify perceived barriers to handwashing, cleaning work surfaces and using food thermometers. Foodborne illnesses are most commonly caused by poor personal hygiene, cross contamination and improper time/temperature controls.
Barriers, they found, were not only a lack of food safety knowledge but also often a lack of understanding why employees should comply with food safety guidelines. Previous research indicated that training increases knowledge regarding food safety issues, but that knowledge does not always translate into improved behaviors.
"We have used the results of this study to develop and implement an intervention program to address the barriers that training appears," said Amber D. Howells, an instructor of dietetics, registered dietitian and the study's first author.
The restaurant industry employs 13.1 million people, and 59 percent of reported foodborne illness outbreaks were associated with restaurants in 2005. Howells said outbreaks usually are directly related to food-handler error.
Because of the study, K-State researchers recommend that restaurant managers:
* Provide regular food safety training to their foodservice employees;
* Educate employees about the consequences of improper food handling to improve attitudes toward food safety;
* Place signs about consequences of improper food handling in food production areas;
* Encourage food safety compliance with verbal reminders and praise;
* Be good role models;
* Incorporate food safety practices into employees' daily routines to eliminate the perceptions that they do not have time to perform them.
Other researchers with the K-State's department of hospitality management and dietetics involved with the study included Betsy B. Barrett, associate professor and a registered dietitian; Kevin R. Roberts, assistant professor; and Carol W. Shanklin, professor, interim dean of the Graduate School and a registered dietitian. Also involved were Valerie K. York, an evaluator in K-State's office of educational innovation and evaluation, and Laura A. Brannon, associate professor of psychology.
For the study, two series of focus groups were conducted. Focus groups were to identify obvious barriers to following safe food preparation practices. The 34 participants in Group A, all restaurant employees involved in food preparation, received no special food safety training. The 125 participants in the second series of focus groups, Group B, were divided into 20 focus groups and received four hours of formal training from certified ServSafe instructors.
The research found that employees did not comply with food safety guidelines because of a variety of perceived barriers.
In Group A, additional barriers identified lack of space and other tasks competing with cleaning work surfaces; inconvenient location of sinks and having dry skin limiting hand-washing; and lack of working thermometers and thermometers in inconvenient locations.
Group B agreed with Group A, but added other barriers: lack of incentive to clean work surfaces and manager not monitoring the work and manager not monitoring the use of thermometers. Research results were published in the August 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The study was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Shanklin. The $482,763 grant also is funding other food safety research.



2 Virginians had salmonella when they died
January 13, 2009 - 11:56am
Source of Article: http://www.wtop.com/?nid=600&sid=1572422
RICHMOND, Va. -- Two Virginia residents -- one of whom was from Northern Virginia -- had salmonella when they died, but it's not clear whether the illness is what killed them.
Virginia state health authorities tell WTOP the deaths have not yet been linked to the salmonella outbreak that's being associated with peanut butter.
In Virginia, 17 cases of salmonella have been reported. Eight of those are in Northern Virginia.
The state is investigating whether the cases are linked to the nationwide outbreak. The eight Northern Virginia cases were the same type of salmonella as those in the nationwide outbreak.
The state won't know whether they are in fact related for a few more days.
RICHMOND, Va. -- Two Virginia residents -- one of whom was from Northern Virginia -- had salmonella when they died, but it's not clear whether the illness is what killed them. Virginia state health authorities tell WTOP the deaths have not yet been linked to the salmonella outbreak that's being associated with peanut butter.
In Virginia, 17 cases of salmonella have been reported. Eight of those are in Northern Virginia. The state is investigating whether the cases are linked to the nationwide outbreak. The eight Northern Virginia cases were the same type of salmonella as those in the nationwide outbreak.The state won't know whether they are in fact related for a few more days.

Minnesota Death Linked to Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
The nationwide salmonella outbreak may have killed a person in Minnesota. A health department spokesman in Minnesota says an elderly woman had the infection when she died, but it's not clear that salmonella was the cause.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the outbreak has struck 42 states and made nearly 400 people ill. The CDC has not yet released the list of states or determined which foods may have caused people to become sick (expected in the next few hours). However, health officials in Illinois, North Dakota, Ohio, Georgia, Minnesota and California have confirmed cases. Ohio and California reported the most, with 51 cases each.

Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak started Labor Day and it is now almost Inauguration Day ? Are we waiting for ¡°Change to Come?¡±
Source of Article: http://www.marlerblog.com/
According to the CDC, as of Wednesday, January 7, 2009, 388 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 42 states. Among the 372 persons with dates available, illnesses began between September 3 and December 29, 2008, with most illnesses beginning after October 1, 2008. Patients range in age from <1 to 103 years; 48% are female. Among persons with available information, 18% were hospitalized.
So, we have a shelf- stable product (like cereal or peanut butter) or a frozen product (chicken nuggets) or refrigerated product (eggs or cheese) that are all kept for an extended period and shipped all over the United States. It is also a product that is consumed by infants and people over twice my age. Oh yes, and the 388 people thus far counted share the same genetic finger-print of Salmonella Typhimurium in their stools.
Yet, local and state health departments, and the CDC, have made no announcement ¡°publically¡± what product has sickened nearly 400, put 75 in the hospital and killed a woman in Minnesota. Do they really not know what the product is? Are they worried that the product identification needs to be perfect so there is no comparison to last year¡¯s tomato/pepper Salmonella outbreak? Is public safety in the balance? Or, do we simply need better, more timely information so an outbreak can be determined early, the correct product identified and pulled from our shelves.
As I have said too many times, we need to improve surveillance of bacterial and viral diseases. First responders - ER physicians and local doctors - need to be encouraged to test for pathogens and report findings directly to local and state health departments and the CDC promptly. Right now, for every person counted in an outbreak there are some 20 to 40 times those that are sick but never tested. The more we test, the quicker we know we have an outbreak and the quicker it can be stopped.
These same governmental departments, whether local, state or federal, need to learn to ¡°play well together.¡± Turf battles need to take a back seat to stopping an outbreak and tracking it to its source. That means resources need to be provided and coordination encouraged so illnesses can be promptly stopped and the offending producer - not an entire industry - are brought to heal.
¡°Change is coming¡± ? right?
Posted on January 9, 2009 by Bill Marler

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