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Phages: A New Means of Food Safety?
Source: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/05/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 States.
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 deli products.
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 pathogens."
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."

Q&A With the Produce Safety Project's Jim O'Hara
Source: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/05/qa-with-produce-safety-projects-ohara/
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 direction?
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 difference.
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 surveillance.
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 policy changes?
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 about.
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 this.
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 farmers?
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
Source: http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/
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.
Specific guidance:
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.

Irradiated or not: who can tell?
Source: http://www.meatingplace.com/MembersOnly/blog/BlogDetail.aspx?blogID=10
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 allowed ¡°leakage¡±.
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. Any ideas?

E. coli 0157:H7 present but not common in wildlife of nation¡¯s salad bowl
Source: http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=9513
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 pigs.
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,¡± she said.
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 Cooperative Extension.
The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

USDA estimates E coli, Salmonella costs at $3.1 billion
Source: http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/fs/food-disease/news/may2410costest.html
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 and Listeria.
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 all sources.
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 diseases.
The estimates included medical costs, lost life expectancy, pain and suffering, and functional disability but not costs to government or the food industry.
See also:
USDA foodborne illness cost calculator : http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/FoodborneIllness/#2010-5-17

Acrylamide levels drop with exceptions, says EFSA survey
Source: http://www.bakeryandsnacks.com/Formulation/Acrylamide-levels-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.
Downward trend
EFSA said that in contrast to 2007 results that showed no clear trend towards lower acrylamide levels, the 2008 data reveals ¡°a more apparent¡± downward trend.
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.
Toolbox approach
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 than down.
EFSA said: ¡°It may be appropriate to assume that the application of the acrylamide toolbox was effective only in a limited number of food groups.¡±
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 story
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 foods.
An EFSA statement in 2005 said acrylamide is both carcinogenic and genotoxic (which means it can cause damage to the genetic material of cells).

Food Safety in the Era of Transparency
Source: http://www.marlerblog.com/2010/05/articles/lawyer-oped/food-safety-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 confidentiality.¡±
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 of Maryland
? 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

Hidden Dangerous Link in Food Chain
Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/05/26/earlyshow/contributors/susankoeppen/main6520676.shtml
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 animals.
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
Source: http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/fs/food-disease/news/may2510science.html
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.

Ag Committee to Consider USDA Food Safety Nominee
Source: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/05/ag-committee-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
Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/27/business/27bugs.html?src=busln
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 said.

Salmonella outbreak linked to restaurants serving ungraded eggs
Source: http://www.vancouversun.com/health/
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 used to."
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, he said.
"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 Galanis.
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.

Sprouts salmonella outbreak: California has most ill people . . . particularly Butte County?
Source: http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/2010/05/articles/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/sprouts-salmonella-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.

Freshway lettuce E. coli outbreak: the "other strain" finally drops
Source: http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/2010/05/articles/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/freshway-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.

Recent food poisoning events
Source: http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/2010/05/articles/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/recent-foodpoisoning-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 Inc.
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.
Casa Lopez:
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 Campylobacter
Source: http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/2010/05/articles/food-poisoning-information/2010-raw-milk-scoreboard-e-coli-salmonella-and-campylobacter/
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.

Nevada boy gets bacteria from "bathtub cheese"
Source: http://eatdrinkandbe.org/article/index.0521_fs_boycheese
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 Mexico.
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.
Source:
Reno Gazette-Journal. ¡°Local child ill from eating illegal 'bathtub cheese'http://www.rgj.com/article/20100521/NEWS/5210400/1321/news; 21 May 2010.
The Associated Press. ¡°Local Boy Gets Sick After Eating Cheese¡± http://www.kolotv.com/home




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