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Phages: A New
Means of Food Safety?
by Zach Mallove | May 21, 2010
The process of making food safe is never-ending, and as a result, food
safety experts, microbiologists, and industry insiders are constantly
searching for new ways to improve the food safety system in the United
Within the last few years, food growers and producers have begun to
use a novel means of improving food safety through the use of bacteriophages.
Also known as lytic viruses or phages, bacteriophages take up residence
inside certain strains of foodborne bacteria, begin multiplying, and
eventually destroy the bacterial cell.
The consensus among microbiologists is that phages do not have any known
adverse effects on humans, animals, or the environment, and in fact
gravitate toward wherever bacteria live, including the human body, water,
and the environment.
For this reason, many scientists and food safety experts predict that
bacteriophages could become a useful tool in the reduction of dangerous
pathogens in beef, cold cuts, produce, and more.
Manan Sharma, a Research Microbiologist for the United States Department
of Agriculture (USDA), has conducted phage tests on a variety of produce
and has concluded that phage treatments could be effective in killing
E. coli O157:H7 in a produce commodity. "The treatments reduced
pathogens on the samples of fresh-cut cantaloupe by 100-fold over untreated
controls," said Sharma in a USDA release.
Sharma's test studies also found that phages could have an equally potent
effect on refrigerated fresh-cut lettuce, the source of a current E.
coli O145 outbreak that has sickened 30 people in 23 states.
"The results indicate that bacteriophage treatments can kill E.
coli O157:H7 on the surface of leafy greens at the same levels as on
the fresh-cut cantaloupe," he said.
Biotechnology companies have long pressed for the use of bacteriophages
in the public food supply, but the federal government has so far allowed
the use of only two products.
In 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a bacteriophage
mixture, called a "lytic cocktail," in a spray-on form designed
to reduce the presence of Listeria monocytogenes bacteria in meat and
Then in 2007, the USDA approved a bacteriophage product that OmniLytics
Company designed to be sprayed, misted, or washed onto cattle hides
to reduce the presence of E. coli bacteria.
"It's a good sign that FDA has approved phage-based products for
use recently," Sharma told Food Safety News. "I think that
bacteriophages--and their derived products, like enzymes that attack
bacterial cells walls--can be an effective intervention against foodborne
Some microbiologists, however, are concerned that the widespread use
of bacteriophages in the food supply could result in an increased resistance
of bacteria to phage treatment.
Sharma, however, believes the "cocktail" of bacteriophages
administered simultaneously to food products is varied enough to prevent
a resistance build-up in targeted bacteria.
"Most scientists believe that using multiple phages specific for
a pathogen in a "cocktail" helps address this concern,"
he said. "This way if bacterial strains become resistant to one
phage, there are still multiple phages to which they remain sensitive.
Unlike with antibiotics, bacteria and bacteriophages are constantly
evolving, so there is always the likelihood that a lytic phage can be
identified against foodborne pathogens."
"I think in the right setting, bacteriophages can be extremely
effective," he continued. "We have shown that bacteriophages
can kill E. coli O157:H7 on the surface of cut lettuce within one hour.
Others have shown their effectiveness on produce and meats. Bacteriophages
are naturally present in a variety of foods, so I think there is a very
strong likelihood that more lytic phages for specific pathogens could
be identified relatively easily."
the Produce Safety Project's Jim O'Hara
by Helena Bottemiller | May 24, 2010
As part of our ongoing expert Q&A series, a conversation with Jim
O'Hara, director of the Produce Safety Project at Georgetown University,
on food safety lessons from the EU, scale-appropriate produce safety
regulations, and confidence in the U.S. food supply
Q: The Produce Safety Project just released a report on lessons to take
away from certain European Union food safety reforms, what was your
biggest takeaway from the report? Do you think we're moving in the right
A: First, my takeaway is one I think those of us who've been involved
with food safety have known for some time: that we've made significant
improvements in how we collect and analyze food safety data, but we
have a long way to go. The integration and coordination of food safety
data across the agencies is still lacking and its vitally important
that that data be coordinated both in its collection and in its analysis
so that we can really target our resources where they can make the most
I think the value in our report is that it provides some concrete examples
of what has been done in other countries that, I think, we can take
elements from and apply in the United States. I'm a big fan of the annual
report that is done that integrates the human health data, the animal
data, the feed data, because I think that's really basic public health
The whole point of public health surveillance is to identify where the
public's health is at risk, design approach prevention efforts, put
them in place, and then measure them. I think right now its very hard
for us to measure and to really hold accountable, in the way that we
should, because we don't have the data collected or analyzed in the
way that is most efficient for looking at risk assessment.
Q: What are the barriers to doing this?
A: There are several. Obviously, resources is a huge barrier. Being
able to do these kinds of data collection and analysis takes money,
takes staff time. There are clearly institutional barriers. I think
the teamwork at the federal level today is incredibly better than it
was, say 10 years ago when I was involved in it. But I think that there
are still some institutional or turf issues, if you will. I think that
to some degree it's an issue of political will. The leaders in the agencies
need to step up to the plate and make the case to Congress. And, frankly,
Congress then needs to really think about what will make a difference.
Q: Are you optimistic the pending food safety legislation will make
a big difference?
A: Yes, I think the legislation moving forward will clearly be another
significant step forward. Is it the last step forward? No. But, it's
a signifcant step forward. I just hope that now that the financial regulatory
bill is off the Senate floor that the Senate will find time to consider
the food safety legislation.
Q: Do you think our food supply is safer than when you first got involved
in food safety [in the early 1990s]? What have been the most important
A: I think our food supply is safe. Can we make it safer each day, or
reduce the risks each day? Sure. I think that when you take a look at
the trend data that [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]
publishes, say with regard to Healthy People 2010, clearly our progress
in reducing risk has stalled, when it comes to a number of the critical
pathogens. My perception of food safety reform is that it's a slow process,
it sometimes tends to be one step forward and a couple steps sideways.
I think this Administration has clearly put a priority on food safety.
I think this Administration has clearly put a priority on coordination
between the federal agencies, I think that's important. I think over
the years, there have been a number of efforts by various sectors that
have improved our efforts at food safety. The industry has taken some
important steps, I think the efforts to better coordinate between state
and local public health agencies--things like the Food and Drug Administration's
50-State Meeting--have been important steps.
Food safety reform is not something that happens overnight. It needs
to be done with a view to the long haul, which means there has to be
a commitment to the long haul. We're never going to be at zero risk,
but we can identify where we're not doing a job and we can then target
our efforts to make improvements.
Q: I know the Produce Safety Project has been helping the FDA develop
new, on-farm produce safety standards, in part by hosting a series of
listening sessions. I'm sure you're aware of the concern among small
farmers that those regulations will end up being onerous, especially
for those growing several different crops. Could you talk about how
you see new standards affecting those kinds of growers, and whether
you think their concerns are warranted?
A: Well, clearly the concerns are warranted because the reality is that
growers and farmers operate on pretty slim profit margins to being with.
So any additional cost is going to be an issue that they will be concerned
At the same time, food safety is everybody's job. It doesn't matter
whether you're a small farm or a large corporate farm, food safety is
what you should wake up in the morning thinking about--obviously along
with how to maximize your crop yields, and all those things. We heard
from the farmers in the sessions that they got that. They're prepared
to do it, they just want some common sense taken.
I think that that's what we're all looking for from the Food and Drug
Administration. How do you do this in a way that will work for both
the small, if you will, truck farm in Georgia or Ohio, and the large
corporate farm in the Central Valley of California? That really is the
challenge. Are there ways to address that? I think so... There are fairly
traditional methods that FDA has used in dealing with scale. In terms
of implementation times--how quickly somebody needs to implement and
come into compliance, clearly education is going to be a huge part of
One of things that struck me in our meetings was that in areas where
you have, for instance, really aggressive outreach efforts on GAPs,
or Good Agricultural Practices, like what Cornell is doing, growers
of all different scales get it and are doing it. In areas where it didn't
seem like those efforts were readily available for growers, there was
more of a mixed bag, if you will, about understanding the importance
of it, and on how you go about implementing it in a way that makes sense
for your farm. There are ways to address those concerns. I think that
we need to make certain that FDA does put in place a rule that is viable
for the small farmer as well as the large farmer. What I heard from
the FDA officials in the meeting is that they get that, and they are
committed to doing that.
Q: You get the sense FDA will be sensitive to the concerns of small
A: Oh absolutely. Absolutely. It was a constant theme in all of our
meetings. That's why the FDA's comment period--which they've now extended
to the end of July--is so important, because what they repeatedly said
to the growers was: We get scalability. Everybody talks scalability.
Give us some ideas on how that could work for the farms of your size.
As long as all segments go into this with good intentions and want to
figure out how to make it work, we can make it work.
Q: I ask everyone this... How do you pick safe food? Do you avoid certain
foods because you think they're inherently risky?
A: I really don't. I frankly tend to make my food choices more on taste.
If I can buy fruits or vegetables that I think are going to taste better
I will do that. There's no food I avoid on principle because I think
it's inherently risky, it comes down to what I think will taste good.
There is a certain amount of risk in everything that we do everyday--whether
its walking across the street or getting up out of bed. You've got to
be smart about the risks you're willing to entertain for yourself and
your family, but as I say, I have confidence in the food supply.
FDA's guidance to the sprouts industry
Posted on May 21, 2010 by Drew Falkenstein
Today's announcement of another salmonella outbreak linked to sprouts
will inevitably end in litigation on behalf of outbreak victims, the
focus of which will largely be on what Caldwell Fresh Foods did, or
did not, do with regard to pathogen reduction (i.e. getting the contaminated
animal feces off of the seeds before growing the sprouts). Here is a
summary of the FDA's guidance, issued in 1999, to the sprouts industry
to achieve pathogen reduction on sprout seeds, followed by the specific
measures that it encouraged sprouters, and other business in the chain
of distribution of sprout seeds, to take.
Guidance background and summary
Since 1995, raw sprouts have been increasingly implicated in foodborne
outbreaks. Between January 1995 and May 1999, there were 11 reported
outbreaks in the United States associated with sprouts from commercial
growers, 9 of which were due to various Salmonella serotypes and 2 to
Escherichia coli O157. The number of culture-confirmed cases in each
of these outbreaks ranged from 8 to more than 500, and more than 1,300
cases have been reported overall. And in total, since 1990, sprouts
have been associated with at least 37 outbreaks, causing over 2,000
confirmed cases of foodpoisoning.
Sprouted seeds represent a food safety problem because the conditions
under which sprouts are produced (time, temperature, water activity,
pH, and nutrients) are ideal for the exponential growth of bacteria.
If bacterial pathogens are present on or in the seed, sprouting conditions
are likely to encourage their proliferation.
Traceback investigations reveal that most of the firms associated with
recent outbreaks were not using approved seed disinfection treatments,
or were not using them consistently, and were not testing for microbial
contamination during sprout production. Although currently approved
treatments can significantly reduce pathogen levels in or on seeds,
they have not been shown to completely eliminate pathogens. Consequently,
outbreaks continue to occur.
On July 9, 1999, FDA issued a consumer advisory advising all consumers
to be aware of the risks associated with eating any variety of raw sprouts,
and advising persons at high risk of developing serious illness due
to foodborne disease (children, the elderly, and persons with weakened
immune systems) not to eat raw sprouts. The advisory was updated from
a previous advisory issued August 31, 1998, and was prompted by information
from clover and alfalfa sprout-associated salmonellosis outbreaks that
occurred from January 1999 through May 1999.
1. Seed Production: Seeds for sprout production should be grown under
good agricultural practices (GAPs) in order to minimize the likelihood
that they will contain pathogenic bacteria.
2. Seed Conditioning, Storage, and Transportation: Seeds that may be
used for sprouting should be conditioned, stored, and transported in
a manner that minimizes the likelihood that the seeds will be contaminated
with pathogens. For example, seed should be stored in closed or covered
containers in a clean dry area dedicated to seed storage. Containers
should be positioned off the floor and away from walls to reduce the
possibility of contamination by rodents or other pests and to facilitate
regular monitoring for pest problems.
3. Sprout Production: Sprouters should implement appropriate practices
to ensure that sprouts are not produced in violation of the act which
prohibits the production of food under insanitary conditions which may
render food injurious to health (21 U.S.C. 342(a)(4)). In addition to
seed treatment and testing for pathogens, sprouters should maintain
facilities and equipment in a condition that will protect against contamination.
Facilities with poor sanitation can significantly increase the risk
of contaminating product. Sprouters should employ good sanitation practices
as a standard operating procedure to maintain control throughout all
stages of sprout production. Inadequate water quality and poor health
and hygienic practices can all increase the risk of food becoming contaminated
with pathogens. Sprouters may wish to review 21 CFR Part 110 which sets
forth good manufacturing practices (GMPs) in manufacturing, packaging,
or holding human food that cover these aspects of food production.
4. Seed Treatment: Seeds for sprouting should be treated with one or
more treatments (such as 20,000 ppm calcium hypochlorite) that have
been approved for reduction of pathogens in seeds or
sprouts. Some treatments can be applied at the sprouting facility while
others will have to be applied earlier in the seed production process.
However, at least one approved antimicrobial treatment should be applied
immediately before sprouting. Sprouters should carefully follow all
label directions when mixing and using antimicrobial chemicals.
or not: who can tell?
Food (Safety) Fight By: Richard Raymond
In a response to my last Food (Safety) Fight blog, Doug Craven described
a recent dining experience he and his wife Janice had. They had hamburgers
at a ¡°top rated fast food chain¡± that Mr. Craven described as having
¡°mushy meat¡± and the ¡°mouth appeal was way off¡±. It was Doug¡¯s idea
that maybe they had unknowingly consumed irradiated ground beef, and
that perhaps there had been some cleaving of the DNA molecules that
His response raises a few questions and concerns about irradiated beef.
First of all there is the difference between the high dose, penetrating
irradiation used with the intention of making the ground beef sterile
and the low dose, non-penetrating, whole carcass irradiation intended
to make all beef products safer, but not sterile. There are critical
differences between the two methods that need to be kept in mind as
any discussion of these food safety tools are discussed.
Secondly, and I do not know the answer to this question, can a restaurant
serve ground beef that has been irradiated for sterility and not disclose
that fact to the consumer? I seriously doubt it, and I also doubt a
restaurant would pay the higher price for irradiated ground beef that
would cut into its profit margin without advertising their product as
the safest burgers in town.
Thirdly is the question of the quality of the meat after irradiation.
Lactic Acid rinses do not change the texture or the quality of beef,
nor would low dose, non-penetrating, whole carcass irradiation. But
what about the high dose, penetrating radiation of ground beef? Does
it create s difference in quality and texture as Doug maintains it might?
Does it ¡°cleave¡± DNA molecules allowing them to ¡°leak¡±?
There are many anecdotal reports of serious changes in taste, quality
and texture as a result of irradiation. There are also many reports
that consumers could not differentiate irradiated foods from non-irradiated
foods in controlled study settings.
I am going to take the liberty to add my own anecdotal experience here.
Before I went to work in the food safety arena, I knew nothing about
carcass cooling methods for poultry, or what brands of ground beef were
irradiated. What my wife and I did know was that there was one brand
of chicken we preferred to eat because of taste and texture, and there
was one brand of ground beef that we preferred not to eat because of
taste and texture issues.
It was only after I learned who did what to ground beef and chicken
that I learned that it was the taste of air-chilled chicken that we
preferred, and that it was irradiated ground beef that we avoided. But
the irradiated ground beef was certainly not ¡°mushy¡± as Doug described
in his response.
So I have to wonder what else might have been going on in his hamburger.
0157:H7 present but not common in wildlife of nation¡¯s salad bowl
May 24, 2010
The disease-causing bacterium E. coli O157:H7 is present but rare in
some wildlife species of California¡¯s agriculturally rich Central Coast
region, an area often referred to as the nation¡¯s ¡°salad bowl,¡± reports
a team or researchers led by a UC Davis scientist.
The researchers, who are nearing completion of a massive field study
to help identify potential sources of E. coli O157:H7 near Central Coast
farms, presented their findings today during the annual meeting of the
American Society for Microbiology in San Diego. They reported finding
occasional E. coli O157:H7 infections in fecal samples of wildlife species
common to the area, including cowbirds, coyotes, crows, mice and feral
Based on their findings, the researchers recommend that farmers in this
region continue to follow "good agricultural practices," a
set of accepted, on-farm procedures designed to protect crops from contamination
during production and harvest (http://ucgaps.ucdavis.edu/).
The study was spurred by a 2006 nationwide E. coli O157:H7 outbreak
linked to fresh, bagged spinach grown in California; the outbreak resulted
in 205 reported illnesses and three deaths.
¡°The study helps us better understand the possible risk of crop contamination
from wildlife and allows us to compare that to the risk of contamination
from other possible sources such as livestock and irrigation water,¡±
said lead study author Michele Jay-Russell, a veterinarian at UC Davis¡¯
Western Institute for Food Safety and Security.
¡°We are sharing this data with the produce industry, regulators, and
conservation groups to help improve prevention strategies that protect
public health and preserve native wildlife populations and their habitats,¡±
E. coli O157:H7 poses a serious human health threat, commonly causing
abdominal cramps and diarrhea, sometimes bloody. Severe infections may
be require hospitalization and result in kidney damage and even death.
People most at risk for serious complications include young children,
the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
From 2008 through 2009, the team collected and tested 1,133 fecal samples
from wild birds and mammals on 38 private properties in Monterey, San
Benito and San Luis Obispo counties in California. All three counties
are home to farms that grow fresh spinach, lettuce and other produce.
Laboratory tests revealed that E. coli O157:H7 was present in samples
from two cowbirds, two coyotes, five crows, one deer mouse and 10 feral
pigs. Samples from deer, opossums, raccoons, skunks, ground squirrels
and other bird and mouse species all tested negative for the bacterium.
Robert Mandrell, principal investigator and research leader from the
U.S. Department of Agriculture¡¯s Agricultural Research Service, said
that the discovery of a low level of E. coli O157: H7 among Central
Coast wildlife was somewhat surprising.
¡°The fact that we have identified two bird species with an incidence
of E. coli O157:H7 of more than 3 percent, feral swine with about a
4 percent incidence and several coyotes and rodents that tested positive
for O157:H7 suggests there are at least several sources of pathogen
movement in this region,¡± Mandrell said.
¡°We have no evidence that the concentration of the pathogen was high
in the feces of the animals that tested positive, so the significance
of wildlife as a source of direct contamination associated with outbreaks
remains unclear,¡± he said.
Mandrell said the researchers are comparing the genetic makeup of the
E. coli O157: H7 strains found in wildlife to that of strains isolated
from other sources including cattle, soil and water. They hope these
comparisons will help them to better assess the movement of the bacteria
in this agriculturally important region.
Following up on these findings, the study team is evaluating other potential
wildlife sources of E. coli O157:H7, including amphibians and reptiles,
and is conducting focused research to refine best practices that promote
appropriate management to protect both food safety and the environment.
The collaborative research team included microbiologists and epidemiologists
from the Agricultural Research Service and the Western Regional Research
Center and Wildlife Services, both of the U.S. Department of Agriculture;
the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security and the Western Center
for Food Safety, both at UC Davis; and the University of California
The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration.
E coli, Salmonella costs at $3.1 billion
Robert Roos News Editor
May 24, 2010 (CIDRAP News) ? The US Department of Agriculture (USDA),
using its recently released tool for calculating the cost of foodborne
illnesses, estimated that Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7 cases
cost the nation about $3.13 billion a year.
The USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) estimated that Salmonella
infections from all sources cost about $2.65 billion per year. That
is based on an estimate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) of almost 1.4 million Salmonella cases annually from all sources,
with 415 deaths. The estimated average cost per case is $1,896.
The ERS put the cost of E coli O157 cases at $478.4 million, using the
CDC's estimate of 73,480 cases per year from all sources, with 61 deaths.
The average cost per case is estimated at $6,510.
The ERS has posted an online "Foodborne Illness Cost Calculator"
that allows Web users to come up with their own estimates of the cost
of foodborne illnesses for a state or region or for a given outbreak.
The ERS's estimates, which have been used in cost-benefit and impact
analyses, include assumptions about disease incidence, outcome severity,
and medical and productivity costs.
The calculator provides information about the assumptions and lets users
change them and see how that changes the cost estimates. The tool is
currently set up to provide estimates only for Salmonella and E coli
O157, but the USDA says it plans to add other pathogens, such as Campylobacter
The USDA cost estimates include medical costs, time lost from work due
to nonfatal illness, and the cost of premature death. They exclude several
other potential costs, such as pain and suffering, travel, and child
care. Costs related to chronic complications in Salmonella cases are
excluded, as are costs for special education and nursing home care in
E coli cases.
For both pathogens, the CDC's estimated number of illnesses attributed
to foodborne sources is somewhat lower than the estimated number from
For example, E coli cases linked to food are estimated at 58,784, versus
73,480 cases from all sources. Using the USDA cost calculator, the estimated
cost of the foodborne cases alone comes out to about $378 million, or
$100 million less than cost of all cases.
Much higher cost estimates for the two pathogens were offered in March
by the Produce Safety Project, a group at Georgetown University that
works for mandatory safety standards for produce.
The group estimated the annual cost of Salmonella cases at $14.6 billion
and the cost of E coli O157 cases at $993 million. The group came up
with an overall estimate of almost $152 billion a year for all foodborne
The estimates included medical costs, lost life expectancy, pain and
suffering, and functional disability but not costs to government or
the food industry.
USDA foodborne illness cost calculator : http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/FoodborneIllness/#2010-5-17
drop with exceptions, says EFSA survey
By Guy Montague-Jones, 19-May-2010
A European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) survey of acrylamide in food
products indicates that voluntary efforts to reduce levels of the carcinogen
are working but only in a limited number of food groups.
The new report on acrylamide collated data from 2000 food samples across
the European Union and Norway in 2008 and builds on previous surveys
with the goal of tracking progress on efforts to reduce exposure.
EFSA said that in contrast to 2007 results that showed no clear trend
towards lower acrylamide levels, the 2008 data reveals ¡°a more apparent¡±
This is particularly pronounced in certain product categories. EFSA
said significantly lower acrylamide levels were reported for French
fries, fried potato products for home cooking, soft bread, bread not
specified, infant biscuit, biscuit not specified, muesli and porridge
and other products not specified.
However, success in these areas was not reproduced across all the food
categories where acrylamide has been identified as a potential concern.
EFSA said potato crisps, instant coffee, and substitute coffee products,
such as those based on barley or chicory, all showed significantly higher
levels of acrylamide in 2008 compared to 2007.
EFSA suggested the approach that the food industry has so far adopted
to acrylamide reduction could help explain why success has been attained
for certain foods and not others.
Voluntary measures, such as the so-called CIAA toolbox approach, which
was first launched in 2006, have been employed to provide guidance to
food manufacturers on reducing acrylamide levels in certain products.
This may well have delivered success where it was employed but EFSA
said no mitigation measures have been proposed for substitute coffee
or instant coffee. Both categories have particularly high levels of
acrylamide and the 2008 data indicates that these are going up rather
EFSA said: ¡°It may be appropriate to assume that the application of
the acrylamide toolbox was effective only in a limited number of food
As for the general overall trend toward lower acrylamide levels, EFSA
said trends will become clearer from survey results over the coming
years. Alongside the surveys, EFSA plans to conduct an assessment next
year to determine how the changes in levels observed in different products
affect exposure levels.
Acrylamide is formed during high temperature cooking by a heat-induced
reaction between sugar and an amino acid called asparagine. Known as
the Maillard reaction, this process is responsible for the brown colour
and tasty flavour of baked, fried and toasted foods.
The compound first hit the headlines in 2002, when scientists at the
Swedish Food Administration first reported unexpectedly high levels
of acrylamide, found to cause cancer in laboratory rats, in carbohydrate-rich
An EFSA statement in 2005 said acrylamide is both carcinogenic and genotoxic
(which means it can cause damage to the genetic material of cells).
in the Era of Transparency
Transparency ? Really?
In the last month the FDA has been investigating an E. coli O145 outbreak
that has sickened some 30 people in Michigan (11 confirmed and 2 probable),
New York (5 confirmed and 2 probable), Ohio (8 confirmed and 3 probable),
Pennsylvania (1 confirmed), and Tennessee (1 confirmed). The outbreak
has been linked to Fresh Way Foods, which purchased romaine lettuce
from Andrew Smith Co., who distributed the romaine lettuce from ¡°THE
FARM IN YUMA¡± - still unnamed. And, so much for traceability.
At about the same time health departments in the ¡°Upper-Midwest¡± investigated
and confirmed a link between several Salmonella illnesses and the consumption
of lettuce products from Fresh Express, a subsidiary of Chiquita Brands
International Inc. There was NO recall - why?|
The failure of the FDA to name ¡°THE FARM IN YUMA¡± and for health departments
to remain mum on illnesses and to issue NO recall is puzzling in the
¡°Era of Transparency.¡± This seems especially true now with the new FDA
¡°Transparency Task Force¡± ? ¡°[whose] goal is to facilitate transparency
that promotes public health and innovation,¡± said Joshua Sharfstein,
M.D., FDA principal deputy commissioner and chair of the Transparency
Task Force. ¡°These proposals reflect a careful balancing of the importance
of transparency with the importance of protecting trade secrets and
Perhaps trade secrets and confidentiality trump public health?
Food Safety ? If it can happen to Fresh Express?
Having nothing directly to do with the illnesses in the ¡°Upper-Midwest¡±,
yesterday afternoon Fresh Express recalled several types of ready-to-eat
salads after Salmonella was found in a package tested by the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration. The products in question include lettuce mixes,
Caesar salad and other salad kits, hearts of romaine and other items.
Fresh Express said the FDA found a single package of the salad tested
positive for salmonella. The recall is for salads and lettuce packages
that contain romaine lettuce, have "use by" dates of May 13
through May 16 and an "S" in the product code and that were
sold in 26 states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado,
Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri,
Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon,
South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Fresh Express has clearly been a leader in food safety. I have attended
a few of their food safety conferences and have been impressed with
their commitment to safer salads. Their Fresh Express Scientific Advisory
Panel is without question some of the best in the business:
? Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the Center for Infectious
Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota, Chair
? Dr. Jeff Farrar, DMV, PhD, MPH, California Department of Public Health
(Now at FDA)
? Dr. Bob Buchanan, PhD, formerly of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,
now director, Center for Food Systems Security and Safety, University
? Dr. Robert Tauxe, MD, MPH, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
? Dr. Bob Gravani, PhD, Cornell University
? Dr. Craig Hedberg, PhD, University of Minnesota
In addition, just last week
Fresh Express received from the International Association for Food Protection
(IAFP) the 2010 prestigious Black Pearl Award. Sponsored by Wilbur Fagan
and F & H Food Equipment Company, the Black Pearl Award will be
presented at the IAFP 2010 Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California in
August. This honor is given annually to one company for its efforts
in advancing food safety and quality through consumer programs, employee
relations, educational activities, adherence to standards, and support
of the goals and objectives of IAFP.
So, if a Salmonella outbreak ? regardless how small ? and a recall caused
by a positive Salmonella test in its product ? can happen to Fresh Express,
what does that tell us about food safety in the leafy green industry?|
Posted on May 25, 2010 by Bill Marler
Link in Food Chain
New Sanitation Tests Lead to Shocking Results
One-third of the wooden pallets used to transport food have been found
to be unsanitary. Susan Koeppen reports
(CBS) Each year, 76 million cases of food-related illness are reported
in the United States.
We've all heard about restaurant workers not washing their hands or
perhaps contamination coming from a farm.
But "Early Show" Consumer Correspondent Susan Koeppen says
a new problem in the food chain has come to light.
Wooden or plastic pallets transport almost everything you eat, from
the farm all the way to stores and everywhere in between. But sanitation
tests are raising questions about whether this very vital link in that
food chain may be broken.
Pallets are often stored in warehouses or outside behind grocery stores,
where they're easily reached by debris from garbage or bacteria from
According to the National Consumers League, about 33 percent of the
wooden pallets it tested showed signs of unsanitary conditions, where
bacteria could easily grow. Ten percent tested positive for e. coli,
which can cause food poisoning, and 2.9 percent had an even nastier,
and often deadly, bug called listeria.
Food safety expert Lisa Berger says, "It's very serious when you
find any amount of Listeria, because it is a very dangerous bacterium
that is associated with a 20 to 30 percent fatality rate. And it could
easily contaminate the food if the pallets or other surfaces are contaminated."
Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League,
says the findings may indicate that our food supply could be at risk.
The league says its tests are just a start, and now, it's up to the
industry and the federal government to do a better job to ensure the
safety of our food supply.
The National Wooden Pallet and Container Association says wooden pallets
have proven a safe method to transport food. In six decades of use,
neither the Food and Drug Administration nor any other monitoring agency
has linked wood pallets to a health-related incident.
The FDA says it plans to carefully review the new tests and gather the
data needed to help make sure food is transported safely.
GAO report flags
FDA science gaps
Lisa Schnirring Staff Writer
May 25, 2010 (CIDRAP News) ? The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
has progressed with strengthening known weaknesses in food safety research,
but significant gaps are hampering the agency's oversight of food labels,
fresh produce, and dietary supplements, according to a report by the
Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The GAO conducted the review at the request of the US House of Representatives
science and technology committee, which asked for an accounting of ways
the FDA can use science to better support its regulatory work and communicate
with the public about food safety.
According to the 25-page report released yesterday (but dated Apr 23),
in 2007 the FDA's own science board raised concerns that the agency
has serious deficiencies in its scientific base and organizational structure
that threaten its ability to meet current and emerging regulatory responsibilities.
For example, the GAO said these scientific deficiencies have limited
the FDA's ability to integrate risk analysis into food safety oversight.
The GAO's list of recommendations includes the development of a new
science organization to play a key leadership role.
One of seven areas identified as needing a stronger scientific base
was detection of foodborne viruses. The GAO noted that the FDA's Center
for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition recently hired two virologists
and two fellows who are specifically trained in regulatory science and
is in the process of leveraging virology research through its academic
and interagency connections.
In May 2008 the FDA created the office of chief scientist, first held
by Dr Frank Torti and now held by acting chief scientist Dr Jesse Goodman.
According to the report, the research gap in food labeling leads to
possible inaccuracies in nutrition facts labeling, and the gap in dietary
supplement science slows the agency in banning harmful products, such
as ephedra, from the market.
In the food safety arena, gaps in science are making it difficult for
the FDA to decide how to regulate fresh produce, which has been the
subject of several recent foodborne illness outbreaks, most recently
in fresh greens and sprouts, the GAO said. Investigators pointed out
that, though cattle are known carriers of Escherichia coli O157:H7,
scientists still don't fully know how the pathogen contaminates produce
and how far cattle should be kept from leafy green growing areas.
"Lacking such information, FDA largely relied on qualitative information?such
as history of past outbreaks?to rank the risk levels of fresh produce,"
the GAO wrote.
The group acknowledges that the FDA has taken some steps to fill its
food safety science gaps, such as studying Salmonella contamination
in tomatoes, but it added that budget constraints have slowed the progress.
FDA authorities rely on other federal agencies for some of its scientific
knowledge, but the GAO said it can be difficult to tailor those projects
to the FDA's needs.
GAO investigators praised the FDA for its work on a new computer tool
to screen and evaluate the risk of imported foods, but recommended that
it develop a performance measurement plan to measure its effectiveness.
The FDA conducted pilot tests on the PREDICT (Predictive Risk-Based
Evaluation for Dynamic Import Compliance Targeting) tool in 2007 and
is deploying it on a district-by-district basis, the report said.
In its response to the GAO findings, the FDA said it agreed that a science-based
foundation is vital to is mission and that it was already taking steps
to address all of the gaps outlined in the report. It pointed out that
federal, industry, state, local, and consumer efforts to strengthen
food safety will fall short if Congress doesn't pass the food safety
modernization legislation now being considered and doesn't provide enough
resources to sustain the system.
The FDA said it has made progress in improving methods for recovering
pathogens from produce, such as Salmonella on high-risk commodities
like tomatoes, spinach, and hot peppers.
to Consider USDA Food Safety Nominee
by Helena Bottemiller | May 27, 2010
Today the Senate Agriculture Committee will take the first step in the
confirmation process for Under Secretary for Food Safety, a post at
the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that has been vacant for 19
months. The Committee is holding a nomination hearing this morning to
consider President Obama's pick for the job, Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, who
currently serves as chief medical officer at the agency.
The vacancy has drawn considerable criticism in the food policy community,
causing many to question whether the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection
Service (FSIS)--which oversees meat, poultry, and processed eggs, accounting
for 20 percent of the food supply--is lacking leadership and direction
at a time when the Administration is stressing food safety system reform.
Hagen has awaited Senate confirmation for four months since being selected
by the White House in late January. Several other Administration USDA
nominees, however, have sailed through the Senate. Agriculture Secretary
Tom Vilsack, former governor of Iowa, was appointed and confirmed by
the Senate on Inauguration day, and as Food Safety News' Dan Flynn explained
in April, other USDA Under Secretary nominees have cleared the Senate
in as little to 10 or 15 days.
Richard Raymond, the last to hold the post, under the Bush Administration,
waited only 35 days before clearing the Senate.
For Hagen, the hold up remains a mystery. "It is the Chairman's
prerogative as to when nomination hearings are held," an Ag committee
source told Food Safety News last month. (The hearing to consider Hagen
had originally been scheduled for yesterday but was moved at the last
minute so Committee Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln's (D-AR) could head to
Arkansas to campaign in an ongoing, heated primary runoff for her re-election.)
While she was not well known on either the industry or consumer advocacy
sides of the food safety community when the President appointed her,
Hagen is highly regarded within the agency.
In addition to serving as chief medical officer, Hagen is an advisor
to the agency on a wide range of human health issues. Prior to her current
post, she was a senior executive at FSIS, where, according to the agency,
she "played a key role in developing and executing the agency's
scientific and public health agendas."
Carol Tucker-Foreman, a distinguished fellow at The Food Policy Institute
at Consumer Federation of America in Washington, responded to Hagen's
appointment in January with guarded optimism.
"Consumer advocates who work closely with the FSIS on policy issues
have had limited direct experience with Dr. Hagen. We have been told,
however, that she has been a strong advocate for improved food safety
policies and has urged the agency to be more aggressive in asking companies
to initiate recalls," said Tucker-Foreman, who emphasized that
there was much work to be done.
"There has been no consistent decline in recalls, illnesses, or
deaths in six years. From the beginning of the Obama Administration
we have urged that the food safety initiative include modernizing this
program," said Tucker-Foreman. "We look forward to working
with Dr. Hagen in achieving that goal and others that will reduce the
toll of foodborne illness."
To watch the nomination hearing today, see the Ag Committee's website
- the meeting is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. EST.
In E. Coli Fight, Some Strains Are Largely Ignored
By WILLIAM NEUMAN
Published: May 26, 2010Linkedin
For nearly two decades, Public
Enemy No. 1 for the food industry and its government regulators has
been a virulent strain of E. coli bacteria that has killed hundreds
of people, sickened thousands and prompted the recall of millions of
pounds of hamburger, spinach and other foods.
But as everyone focused on controlling that particular bacterium, known
as E. coli O157:H7, the six rarer strains of toxic E. coli were largely
ignored. Collectively, those other strains are now emerging as a serious
threat to food safety. In April, romaine lettuce tainted with one of
them sickened at least 26 people in five states, including three teenagers
who suffered kidney failure.
Although the federal government and the beef and produce industries
have known about the risk posed by these other dangerous bacteria for
years, regulators have taken few concrete steps to directly address
it or even measure the scope of the problem.
For three years, the United States Department of Agriculture has been
considering whether to make it illegal to sell ground beef tainted with
the six lesser-known E. coli strains, which would give them the same
outlaw status as their more famous cousin. The meat industry has resisted
the idea, arguing that it takes other steps to keep E. coli out of the
beef supply and that no outbreak involving the rarer strains has been
definitively tied to beef.
The severity of the April outbreak is spurring a reassessment.
¡°This is something that we really have to look at,¡± said Senator Kirsten
Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, who plans to introduce a bill that
would pre-empt the Agriculture Department by declaring a broad range
of disease-causing E. coli to be illegal in ground beef and requiring
the meat industry to begin testing for the microbes. ¡°How many people
do we have to see die or become seriously ill because of food poisoning?¡±
The issue will be one of the first faced by President Obama¡¯s nominee
to head the department¡¯s food safety division, Dr. Elisabeth Hagen,
who is scheduled to testify Thursday in her Senate confirmation hearing.
Part of the problem is that so little is known about the rarer E. coli
strains, which have been called the ¡°big six¡± by public health experts.
(The term refers to the fact that, after the O157 strain, these six
strains are the most virulent of a group of related E. coli.) Few food
companies test their products for the six strains, many doctors do not
look for them and only about 5 percent of medical labs are equipped
to diagnose them in sick patients.
A physiological quirk of E. coli O157 makes it easy to test for in the
lab, and many types of food are screened for it. The other E. coli strains
are much harder to identify and testing can be time-consuming. The Agriculture
Department has been working to develop tests that could be used in meat
plants to rapidly detect the pathogens.
The lettuce linked to the April outbreak tested negative for the more
famous form of E. coli, but no one checked it for the other strains,
according to the Ohio company that processed it, Freshway Foods. It
turned out that the romaine was infected with E. coli O145, one of the
more potent of the six strains.
Emily Grabowski, 18, a student from Irondequoit, N.Y., ate some of the
lettuce at her college dining hall and ended up in the hospital with
kidney failure. Recuperating at home, she wonders now if she could have
been spared her ordeal. ¡°If they had tested it and they had caught it,¡±
she said, ¡°I wouldn¡¯t have had the E. coli.¡±
Earthbound Farm, the nation¡¯s largest producer of organic salad greens,
is one of the few companies that does screen for the full range of toxic
E. coli, and it has found a worrisome incidence of the rarer strains.
Out of 120,000 microbial tests last year, about one in 1,000 showed
the presence of unwanted microbes, mostly the six strains.
¡°No one is looking for non-O157 to the level we are,¡± said Will Daniels,
Earthbound Farm¡¯s senior vice president for food safety. ¡°I believe
it is really going to emerge as one of the areas of concern.¡±
Earthbound Farm was not involved in the April outbreak.
The O157 strain of E. coli is a frightening bug, causing bloody diarrhea
and sometimes kidney failure, which can be fatal. Some of the six strains
cause less severe illness, but others appear to be just as devastating
as the O157.
The toxic E. coli bacteria originate in the guts of cattle, putting
the beef industry on the front line. The O157 strain achieved notoriety
in 1993 when four children died and hundreds of people were sickened
by tainted hamburger sold at Jack in the Box restaurants. The next year,
the Agriculture Department made it illegal to sell ground beef containing
the O157 bacteria.
The beef industry now routinely tests for the O157 strain, but there
is no regular testing for the other six strains.
It is unclear how prevalent
the six strains are in ground beef. Preliminary data from a department
study found the pathogens in only 0.2 percent of samples. By comparison,
the O157 strain already banned shows up in about 0.3 percent of samples,
according to other government data.
But tests commissioned by William Marler, a Seattle lawyer who represents
victims of food poisoning and has pushed the department to ban more
E. coli strains, found the six strains in 0.7 percent of ground beef
samples bought at supermarkets.
The E. coli bacteria can be killed by thorough cooking to 160 degrees.
Tracking the impact of the rarer E. coli strains on human health is
difficult because few medical labs test for them, and health officials
say illnesses caused by them are vastly underreported.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed at least
10 food-borne outbreaks from 1990 to 2008 involving the six strains,
carried in foods like salad or strawberries. Investigators suspected
ground beef as the cause of a 2007 outbreak in North Dakota, but the
link was not confirmed.
The April outbreak is a signal of a broader problem, said Michael R.
Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods at the Food and Drug Administration.
¡°We need to be developing our tools and abilities to assess¡± the full
range of toxic E. coli, he said. The agency, which regulates produce,
is waiting for Congress to pass a law that would greatly expand its
food safety authority.
It is not clear how E. coli travels from cattle to produce, but scientists
think it may occur through contact with manure, perhaps tracked through
fields by wild animals, or through tainted irrigation water.
For its part, the Agriculture Department has said it is reluctant to
ban the broader range of E. coli in beef until it has developed tests
that can rapidly detect the pathogens. It expects to complete those
by the end of 2011 and then study how often the six strains show up
in the beef supply.
But an official said the timetable was not rigid. ¡°I don¡¯t want to give
the impression that we¡¯re going to wait months and months for these
tests, and months and months to see what¡¯s in the beef supply,¡± said
Dr. David Goldman, an assistant administrator for the Office of Public
Health Science of the department. ¡°In terms of policy options, it¡¯s
not like we have to do one and then the other.¡±
James H. Hodges, executive vice president of the American Meat Institute,
an industry group, said that the industry had put in place many procedures
to keep E. coli O157:H7 out of ground beef, like washing carcasses in
hot water and lactic acid.
Those steps also work against the other E. coli, Mr. Hodges said, pointing
to the lack of outbreaks of illness connected to them. ¡°It certainly
tells me that both the government and the industry is targeting the
correct organism,¡± he said.
Dr. Richard Raymond, who was the department¡¯s head of food safety from
2005 to 2008, said he stopped short of banning the rarer E. coli from
hamburger because he thought that he would not have been able to defend
the decision against industry criticism until rapid tests were developed.
But he said the April outbreak could push regulators to act. ¡°I don¡¯t
think the U.S.D.A. wants to see another Jack in the Box,¡± Dr. Raymond
linked to restaurants serving ungraded eggs
By Randy Shore, Vancouver Sun May 21, 2010
A three-year outbreak of salmonella in B.C. has been linked to restaurants
that serve poor quality, ungraded eggs to their customers.
An investigation by the BC Centre for Disease Control and local health
authorities found that eggs from the chicken meat industry and eggs
from unregistered producers were in part behind a 300-per-cent increase
in the incidence of salmonella enteritidis since 2007.
"We have been in an outbreak situation for three years," said
physician epidemiologist Eleni Galanis. "Salmonella usually increases
in the summer time, but the rates have been much higher than we are
About 500 cases of salmonella have been reported in B.C. since 2008
and investigators estimate that the real number of cases may be 13 to
37 times that. One case in seven has required hospitalization. No deaths
have been reported.
"Because so many people eat eggs it is difficult to tease out the
source," Galanis said. "By following these cases and clusters
of cases health authorities found in both restaurants and in retail
stores in the Lower Mainland ungraded and broiler hatching eggs being
sold to customers or being prepared into meals."
Graded eggs are cleaned and inspected before being sold to consumers.
Eggs that come from unregistered producers are not inspected and are
more likely to be contaminated, Galanis explained.
"It is allowed for farmers to sell their surplus eggs at the farm
gate, but they are not allowed to sell them for resale," she said.
BCCDC believes that people were buying surplus eggs in large quantities
and reselling them to retailers and to restaurants.
B.C. farmers registered to produce table eggs -- eggs that appear on
stores shelves as Grade A -- adhere to rigorous standards for cleanliness
and regular inspections to reduce the risk of salmonella contamination,
said Al Sakalauskas, executive director of the B.C. Egg Marketing Board.
Ungraded eggs enter the market when people buy from unregistered producers,
"We subscribe to a national standard called Start Clean-Stay Clean,
which is an on-farm food safety standard that includes several inspections
a year with the objective of finding whether salmonella bacteria is
present on the farm," he explained. "When it is present, the
eggs are held and pasteurized through the breaker industry. They don't
enter the table market."
"Producers who are not part of the program don't adhere to any
of these standards," Sakalauskas said. "I don't know why any
restaurant would risk the health of its customers by buying ungraded
eggs in some back-door deal."
The bacterium likely entered B.C.'s food system through broiler eggs
imported into B.C. from the United States for meat production, said
In 2006, salmonella enteritidis occurred with a frequency of three cases
per 100,000 people, but that rate rose to 10.2 cases in 2009.
"In the last years it has been our most common strain, which is
not normal," Galanis said. "It has been increasing dramatically."
The salmonella enteritidis bacterium causes diarrhea, vomiting and stomach
cramps. Symptoms often take 12 to 36 hours to appear.
outbreak: California has most ill people . . . particularly Butte County?
Posted on May 22, 2010 by Drew Falkenstein
Sprouts from Caldwell Fresh Foods, of Maywood, California, have caused
approximately 22 illnesses in multiple states, including 11 in its home
state of California. The outbreak strain of Salmonella is Salmonella
Newport, and the implicated sprouts, which were widely distributed to
retailers nationally, have been recalled.
Notably, Caldwell should know the recall drill. On March 3, 2008, the
San Francisco Chornicle reported that multiple Contra Costa County and
San Francisco residents had been sickened by Salmonella after consuming
sprouts manufactured by JH Caldwell and Son's, Inc. Caldwell subsequently
recalled its product in that outbreak too.
Also, are any of the sprout illnesses in the Caldwell Fresh Foods sprouts
outbreak in Butte County, California? This release was issued by Butte
County on Thursday, May 20:
Butte County Public Health Department has recently seen an increase
in the number of reported Salmonella cases. The cause of the increase
has yet to be determined, and an ongoing investigation is taking place.
¡°Although we usually see an increase in foodborne illnesses this time
of year, the recent increase in Salmonella cases is higher than expected,¡±
stated Mark Lundberg, M.D., Health Officer at Butte County Public Health
Department. ¡°We want the public to be aware of the risk, and to take
preventative steps to protect themselves from foodborne illness.¡±
Butte County is north of Sacramento, and has over 200,000 residents.
There has been no official word whether the increase in Salmonella cases
is as a result of the national sprouts outbreak. Suspicious timing though.
lettuce E. coli outbreak: the "other strain" finally drops
Posted on May 20, 2010 by Drew Falkenstein
Misti Crane of the Columbus Dispatch reported today that the CDC has
identified the "other strain" of E. coli (i.e. not O145) involved
in the Freshway romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak. It was E. coli O143:H34.
Actually, "involved in the Freshway romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak"
may be a little strong, as the Columbus Dispatch was careful to note
in its article that nobody was confirmed in the Freshway outbreak with
an O143:H34 illness. The O143:H34 strain was recovered from a bag of
Freshway lettuce sold in Ohio; a New York bag of Freshway lettuce tested
positive for the outbreak strain of E. coli O145.
We have been riding the USDA for a long time to declare other strains
of shiga-toxin producing E. coli than O157:H7 as adulterants in the
meat supply. Other groups have too. And clearly, the Freshway lettuce
outbreak would be Exhibit A in the case for the FDA--which regulates
non-meat/poultry foods including lettuce--to do the same thing. Cost--as
in, the expenditure required to begin testing for more than just E.
coli O157:H7--should not be an issue, either for industry or government.
Costs of testing are much more justly borne by industry than personally
by people sickened in outbreaks, or state and federal assistance programs
on behalf of uninsured people. Further, actually testing for these pathogens,
rather than the wait-and-see approach currently taken by industry and
government, might actually prevent a few outbreaks from happening, or
at least greatly reduce the risks of major outbreaks and injuries, which
will ultimately reduce the vast outlays of funds required to respond
to these outbreaks.
On the subject of major outbreaks, so now we know that Freshway's romaine
lettuce product was contaminated by two strains of E. coli, both of
which are tested for only rarely, if at all. The CDC still says there
were 30 victims (23 confirmed in 4 states, and 7 probable). Based on
these circumstances, it really isn't much of a stretch to conclude that
this outbreak probably sickened hundreds of people. This means that,
even though the outbreaks may have resembled each other more than anybody
is willing to admit, there will not be the same public and industry
response to Freshway lettuce as there was to Dole baby spinach. But
then again, what has the LGMA actually accomplished? Fresh Express lettuce
just caused a salmonella outbreak in the Midwest. Freshway lettuce just
caused at least 30 confirmed illnesses. And here are 7 other outbreaks
that have occurred in this country since the spinach outbreak in 2006,
which was the impetus for the LGMA.
food poisoning events
Posted on May 25, 2010 by Drew Falkenstein
Caldwell sprouts salmonella outbreak:
Sprouts from Caldwell Fresh Foods, of Maywood, California, have caused
approximately 22 illnesses in multiple states, including 11 in its home
state of California. The outbreak strain of Salmonella is Salmonella
Newport, and the implicated sprouts, which were widely distributed to
retailers nationally, have been recalled.
Fresh Express salmonella outbreak:
Health departments in the ¡°Upper-Midwest¡± investigated and confirmed
a link between several Salmonella illnesses and the consumption of lettuce
products from Fresh Express, a subsidiary of Chiquita Brands International
Freshway O145 outbreak:
In the last month, the FDA, CDC, and state health departments nationally
have been investigating an E. coli O145 outbreak that has sickened some
30 people in Michigan (11 confirmed and 2 probable), New York (5 confirmed
and 2 probable), Ohio (8 confirmed and 3 probable), Pennsylvania (1
confirmed), and Tennessee (1 confirmed). The outbreak has been linked
to Fresh Way Foods, which purchased romaine lettuce from Andrew Smith
Co., who distributed the romaine lettuce from a Yuma, Arizona farm,
which has not been named.
Los Dos Amigos:
Los Dos Amigos, a mexican restaurant in Roseburg, Oregon, was the site
of a large salmonella outbreak in April. Douglas County health officials
report that at least 30 people suffered culture-confirmed salmonella
foodpoisoning illnesses, and that cross-contamination was probably a
cause of the outbreak.
The salmonella outbreak at an "Athens Ohio restaurant" is
reported to be Casa Lopez on East State Street. WSAZ reported today
that at least 41 people have "come down with salmonella poisoning
after eating at [Casa Lopez," and that health officials are waiting
on test results from 15 other cases.
Utah raw milk outbreaks:
Utah health officials have linked two outbreaks?one campylobacter and
one salmonella?to the consumption of raw milk. The campylobacter outbreak
is linked to raw milk purchased from Ropelato Dairy in Ogden, Utah,
and has resulted in at least 9 illnesses in residents of Weber, Davis,
and Cache counties. On Monday, the Utah Department of Health suspended
Ropelato Dairy¡¯s permit to sell raw milk. Coliform testing done on milk
at the dairy showed high coliform counts, which suggest the presence
of disease-causing bacteria, like campylobacter, in the milk.
The second raw milk outbreak in Utah (a salmonella outbreak) sickened
at least 6 people in late April in Utah, Salt Lake, and Wasatch Counties.
The outbreak was linked to raw milk from Redmond Farms in Sevier County.
Samples of raw milk produced at the dairy from April 5 to April 22 tested
positive for Salmonella.
2010 Raw Milk Scoreboard - E. coli, Salmonella, and
Posted on May 26, 2010 by David Babcock
Still not half way through 2010, and we have already seen at least six
outbreaks of illness, involving three different dangerous pathogens,
tied to raw milk. There have been outbreaks in Minnesota, Nevada, Utah
(2), and Pennsylvania, as well as a single outbreak that included illnesses
in Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. Raw milk consumers have been sickened
with E. coli O157:H7; Salmonella, and Campylobacter.
For those of you scoring at home:
Just today, health department officials in Minnesota have reported three
cases of E. coli O157:H7 illness linked to raw milk from a dairy farm
in Gibbon, MN. The Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota
Department of Agriculture are continuing to investigate the illnesses.
All of the sick share a strain of the bacteria that have the same ¡°pulsed
field gel electrophoresis¡± (PFGE) patterns, or DNA fingerprint. One
of the ill persons has developed HUS.
Earlier this month, Nevada health officials reported that a child became
seriously ill with a Campylobacter infection after eating homemade cheese
that was illegally sold door-to-door. The cheese was not properly pasteurized.
In April, Utah was the site of Salmonella and Campylobacter outbreaks
tied to raw milk. According to a Utah Public Health Press Release, there
were two separate clusters of illness linked to the consumption of raw
milk. The first cluster included nine reported cases of Campylobacter
infection among residents in Weber, Davis and Cache Counties. This outbreak
was linked to the Ropelato Dairy. The second cluster, linked to the
Redmond Dairy, included six reported cases of Salmonella infection in
residents in Utah, Salt Lake and Wasatch Counties.
In March, raw milk caused at least 17 culture confirmed Campylobacter
infections in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana. Three cases were from Indiana,
one from Illinois, and 13 from Michigan.
Another outbreak of Campylobacter was reported in February in Pennsylvania.
State health officials there said approximately 10 people became ill
after drinking raw milk from Pasture Maid Creamery. One of the ill developed
Guillain - Barre Syndrome, and became paralyzed.
Also, see www.realrawmilkfacts.com for more information.
boy gets bacteria from "bathtub cheese"
By Jill Blocker
May 21, 2010
A young Nevada boy is recovering from Campylobacter bacterium he contracted
by eating homemade cheese, according to the Washoe County Health District.
The cheese, also known as "Mexican bathtub cheese," or queso
fresco, was sold illegally door-to-door, health officials said Thursday.
The cheese is usually made in home bathtubs or troughs using unpasteurized
milk, without local and federal food safety standards.
The child, who remains anonymous, was not hospitalized, but his illness
is still serious, health officials said. Campylobacter symptoms include
nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
"It can be fatal so, yes, this is serious," said Washoe County
Health District spokeswoman Tracie Douglas to the Reno Gazette-Journal.
¡°We were lucky enough to get a sample of the cheese, and that's rare
because it's usually all been eaten. This time, we were able to confirm
the cheese was the source of the illness."
The cheese, which tested positive for Campylobacter, is being sold door-to-door
in the Truckee Meadows throughout Hispanic communities, health officials
told the Reno Gazette-Journal. It may have been illegally imported from
Unpasteurized cheese does not undergo a heating process that kills dangerous
pathogens. The elderly, young children, pregnant women and people who
have weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to such pathogens.
Health officials warned consumers in the Truckee Meadows community not
to purchase cheese or other food, such as such as corn on the cob and
tamales, from unlicensed vendors, according to the Gazette-Journal.
Vendors caught producing and selling unpasteurized cheese in unlicensed
facilities can face misdemeanor or felony charges.
Reno Gazette-Journal. ¡°Local child ill from eating illegal 'bathtub
The Associated Press. ¡°Local Boy Gets Sick After Eating Cheese¡± http://www.kolotv.com/home
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