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Technique Detects More Than 700 Antimicrobial-Resistance Genes
Source: http://www.physorg.com/news194195231.html
May 27, 2010
ARS scientists and cooperators have detected more than 700 genes that give microbes like Salmonella?shown here?and E. coli the ability to resist antibiotics.
(PhysOrg.com) -- Using an advanced genetic screening technique, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and cooperators have detected, for the first time, more than 700 genes that give microbes like Salmonella and E. coli the ability to resist antibiotics and other antimicrobial compounds.
The researchers used what is called DNA microarray technology to find the resistance genes in a wide variety of bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter, Listeria, and Enterococcus, among others. These organisms can cause food poisoning and are thus a major public health concern.
Researchers are concerned that some of these organisms have acquired genetic resistance to the antibiotics used to kill them. Finding the genes that confer resistance is an important step for scientists looking for new ways to control these organisms.
All genes identified in organisms are logged into GenBank, a gene database administered by the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the National Institutes of Health. ARS microbiologists Jonathan G. Frye, Rebecca L. Lindsey, Charlene R. Jackson, Paula J. Fedorka-Cray, Mark E. Berrang, Mark D. Englen, and Richard J. Meinersmann at the agency's Bacterial Epidemiology and Antimicrobial Resistance Research Unit in Athens, Ga., along with collaborators at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in San Diego, Calif., searched through GenBank for genes annotated by other scientists to likely encode resistance.
Frye and his colleagues selected about 1,000 unique genes from among 5,000 genes found in GenBank that included the words "antimicrobial resistance" in their description. Then they designed a microarray of more than 700 DNA probes to detect the resistance genes, according to Frye.
A DNA microarray is a small glass slide used to test genetic samples for the presence of specific genes. To make the arrays, pieces of DNA called probes are designed to detect the genes that are known to confer antimicrobial resistance. These probes are then fused onto the glass slides in specific configurations.
To use the array, DNA extracted from the bacterium to be tested is tagged with fluorescent dyes and then put into contact with the slide containing the probes. The antimicrobial-resistance genes in the bacteria will then attach themselves to the probes they match on the slide, making the specific probe for that gene fluoresce and thus identifying the antimicrobial resistance gene that was in the bacterium.
This work was published in the scientific journal Microbial Drug Resistance.
Provided by USDA Agricultural Research Service

New E. coli legislation would include more strains
MeatPoultry.com, May 28, 2010
by Bryan Salvage
Source: http://www.meatpoultry.com

WASHINGTON ? U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced new legislation on May 27 that would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture to regulate six currently unregulated strains of E. coli proven to cause foodborne illnesses. In addition to the most common form of E. coli that is already regulated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified six rarer strains, known as non-0157 STECs, she said.
The C.D.C. estimates non-O157 STECs cause 36,700 illnesses, 1,100 hospitalizations and 30 deaths in America each year, Sen. Gillibrand said.
¡°How many people have to get sick before we take action?¡± Sen. Gillibran asked. ¡°In America, in 2010, it is unconscionable that food is still going straight to our kitchens, school cafeterias and restaurants without being properly tested to ensure its safety. It¡¯s spreading too many diseases and costing too many lives. The laws that are meant to keep us safe from hazardous foods are in critical need of updating. We need to pass this legislation to keep our families safe.¡±
Although, she pointed out, that E. coli O157:H7 is by far the most common strain in American beef, non-O157 STECs are increasingly found in beef imported from other countries. But is never checked for since current law only requires imported ground beef to be checked for E. coli O157:H7, she charged.
Sen. Gillibrand¡¯s new legislation adds the six confirmed strains to the list of adulterants, requires meat companies to test for and discard any batches containing any toxic strains of E. coli and gives the U.S.D.A. the authority to find and regulate more toxic strains in the future.
Sen. Gillibrand¡¯s proposed legislation includes:
¡¤ Amend the Federal Meat Inspection Act to revise the definition of the term ¡®¡®adulterated¡¯¡¯ to include contamination with E. coli.
¡¤ Define E. coli as ¡°enterohemorrhagic (E.H.E.C.) Shiga toxin-producing serotypes of Escherichia coli (E. coli).¡±
¡¤ Include the following E. coli strains: 0157: H7, 026, 045, 0103, 011, 0121, 0145
E.H.E.C. was chosen because it is, by definition, pathogenic, meaning disease causing, she said.
¡°This strikes a compromise between being overly-inclusive [not all S.T.E.C. are pathogenic] and under-inclusive [not closing the door on as yet unidentified strains of pathogenic E. coli],¡± she added.
¡°By expanding the definition of adulterants to other strains, it will require U.S.D.A. to begin spot testing procedures, force companies (through legal pressure) to test and eliminate the pathogen, and require F.S.I.S. to recommend best testing practices to companies."
After her proposed legislation was announced, the American Meat Institute addressed her concerns and charges.
¡°We share Sen. Gillibrand¡¯s desire to eradicate pathogenic bacteria, but we don¡¯t believe that an act of Congress can make these bacteria disappear,¡± said Mark Dopp, senior vice-president of regulatory affairs and general counsel, for the American Meat Institute (A.M.I.). ¡°We also are puzzled by the fact that this bill is being introduced at a time when the Centers for Disease Control is tracking an outbreak of E. coli O145 [one of the strains in the bill] associated with romaine lettuce, yet the bill would only declare the pathogen an adulterant when found on meat. It is even more interesting to consider that no confirmed outbreak of any of the six strains in her bill has ever been associated with a meat product."
Currently there is no test available to detect the six additional strains included in the bill, Mr. Dopp pointed out. ¡°In addition, experts at U.S.D.A. have said in public meetings that the food-safety systems we have in place work equally well for non-157 and O157 STECS,¡± he said. ¡°These systems have reduced E. coli O157:H7 on raw ground beef by 63% since 2000 and have helped us achieve our Health People 2010 goal for reducing these infections.
¡°We are concerned that food-safety resources in the private sector and the public sector are not infinite,¡± he continued. ¡°It¡¯s important to invest in technologies that will provide meaningful food-safety benefits.
¡°We do not believe that declaring non-O157 STECS to be adulterants will enhance the food-safety system, and we think that application of such a policy could consume resources that could be better spent elsewhere to achieve meaningful food-safety progress,¡± Mr. Dopp concluded.

Non-O157 STECs (O26, O45, 0103, O111, O121, O145) cause 36,700 illnesses, 1,100 hospitalizations and 30 deaths in America each year
Source: http://www.marlerblog.com/2010/05/articles/lawyer-oped/nono157-stecs-o26-o45-0103-o111-o121-o145-cause-36700-illnesses-1100-hospitalizations-and-30-deaths-in-america-each-year/
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand last week introduced new legislation to require the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to regulate the six currently unregulated strains of E. coli proven to cause food-borne illnesses. In addition to the most common form of E. coli that is already regulated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified six rarer strains, known as non-O157 STECs. The CDC estimates that non-O157 STECs cause 36,700 illnesses, 1,100 hospitalizations and 30 deaths in America each year.
E. coli O157:H7 is by far the most common strain in American beef. But non-O157 STECs are increasingly found in beef imported from other countries, but is never checked for since current law only requires imported ground beef to be checked for E. coli O157:H7.
Senator Gillibrand¡¯s new legislation adds the six confirmed strains to the list of adulterants, requires meat companies to test for and discard any batches containing any toxic strains of E. coli, and gives the USDA the authority to find and regulate more toxic strains in the future.
Specifically, Senator Gillibrand¡¯s legislation:
* Amends the Federal Meat Inspection Act to revise the definition of the term ¡®¡®adulterated¡¯¡¯ to include contamination with E. coli.
* Defines E. coli as ¡°enterohemorrhagic (EHEC) Shiga toxin-producing serotypes of Escherichia coli (E. coli).¡±
* Includes the following E. coli strains: O157:H7, O26, O45, 0103, O111, O121, O145
* EHEC was chosen because it is, by definition, pathogenic, meaning disease causing. This strikes a compromise between being overly-inclusive (not all STEC are pathogenic) and under-inclusive (not closing the door on as yet unidentified strains of pathogenic E. coli)
* By expanding the definition of adulterants to other strains, it will require USDA to begin spot testing procedures, force companies (through legal pressure) to test and eliminate the pathogen, and require FSIS to recommend best testing practices to companies.
Posted on May 30, 2010 by Bill Marler

Marler's Response to the American Meat Institute Statement on New Bill to Declare Additional Strains of E. coli as Adulterants
Source: http://www.marlerblog.com/2010/06/articles/lawyer-oped/marlers-response-to-the-american-meat-institute-statement-on-new-bill-to-declare-additional-strains-of-e-coli-as-adulterants/
AMI: We share Sen. Gillibrand¡¯s desire to eradicate pathogenic bacteria, but we don¡¯t believe that an act of Congress can make these bacteria disappear. We also are puzzled by the fact that this bill is being introduced at a time when the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is tracking an outbreak of E. coli O145 (one of the strains in the bill) associated with romaine lettuce, yet the bill would only declare the pathogen an adulterant when found on meat.
ME: Good for the Senator for doing something the FSIS and the Beef Industry should have done years ago. If a pathogen that can kill you is in your food ? regardless of the type ? it should be an adulterant. And, as AMI well knows, FDA has jurisdiction over lettuce and already does consider E. coli O145 an adulterant. The beef industry has been dragging its hoofs.
AMI: It is even more interesting to consider that no confirmed outbreak of any of the six strains in her bill has ever been associated with a meat product.
ME: Really? See this report put out by the CDC last week. True, there has ONLY been one outbreak linked to the consumption of beef, but there have also been outbreaks linked to animal contact. And, given the fact that few labs test for these bugs, is there any wonder that outbreaks are few and far between?
AMI: At this point, there is no test available to detect the six additional strains included in the bill.
ME: Hmm? Them why have the tests I have done on 5,000 retail samples and the 4,000 tests by USDA seem to work well? And, yes, why have the tests performed by FDA and CDC and various State labs worked?
AMI: In addition, experts at USDA have said in public meetings that the food safety systems we have in place work equally well for non-157 and O157 STECS. These systems have reduced E. coli O157:H7 on raw ground beef by 63 percent since 2000 and have helped us achieve our Health People 2010 goal for reducing these infections.
ME: The CDC estimates that non-O157 STECs cause 36,740 illnesses, 1,083 hospitalizations and 30 deaths in America each year. The CDC also estimates that E. coli O157:H7 still causes 73,480 illnesses, 2,167 hospitalizations and 61 deaths in America each year. AMI, do you really find this acceptable?
AMI: We are concerned that food safety resources in the private sector and the public sector are not infinite. It¡¯s important to invest in technologies that will provide meaningful food safety benefits. We do not believe that declaring non-O157 STECS to be adulterants will enhance the food safety system, and we think that application of such a policy could consume resources that could be better spent elsewhere to achieve meaningful food safety progress.
ME: I like to keep things simple. If a pathogen that can kill my kid is in their food, it should be an adulterant. Here is the law:
21 U.S.C. ¡× 601(m)(4) - SUBCHAPTER I - INSPECTION REQUIREMENTS; ADULTERATION AND MISBRANDING - CHAPTER 12 - MEAT INSPECTION - TITLE 21?FOOD AND DRUGS
(m) The term ¡°adulterated¡± shall apply to any carcass, part thereof, meat or meat food product under one or more of the following circumstances:
(1) if it bears or contains any poisonous or deleterious substance which may render it injurious to health; but in case the substance is not an added substance, such article shall not be considered adulterated under this clause if the quantity of such substance in or on such article does not ordinarily render it injurious to health; ...
(3) if it consists in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, or decomposed substance or is for any other reason unsound, unhealthful, unwholesome, or otherwise unfit for human food;
(4) if it has been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby it may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby it may have been rendered injurious to health; ¡¦
Hmmm, it is hard to read the above and not think that the words apply to all E. coli (frankly, all pathogens in food). I know, I am just a lawyer, but don't ya think that when food with animal feces (and a dash of E. coli O157:H7) in it is considered an adulterant, that other animal feces (with dashes of other pathogens) in them, should be considered adulterated too? But, hey, that is just me.
By the way, here is the Petition that I filed last October asking FSIS to deem other disease-causing E. coli's adulterants. No action to date.
Posted on June 1, 2010 by Bill Marler

Egg Industry Scrambles Truth on Salmonella and Cages
Source: http://www.opposingviews.com/i/egg-industry-scrambles-truth-on-salmonella-and-cages
By Wayne Pacelle
In a detailed story on Sunday, Columbus Dispatch reporter Alan Johnson previewed one of the flashpoints in the debate over confining laying hens in battery cages. The story provides plenty of evidence that confining hens in small cages is worse for birds and for the people who eat their eggs. But I¡¯ve asked Dr. Michael Greger, our director of public health and animal agriculture, to provide some additional details.
The egg industry has a history of misrepresenting the facts. For example, in the April issue of the trade publication Egg Industry, the chief lobbyist of United Egg Producers declared: "In fact, the Centers for Disease Control have not linked an outbreak of human illness to egg products in almost 40 years. Not a bad record."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the agency tasked with egg safety, disagrees. The FDA concluded in a 2009 press release: ¡°Egg-associated illness caused by Salmonella is a serious public health problem.¡± That wasn¡¯t 40 years ago; that was more like 40 weeks ago.
How quickly the egg industry forgets the worst salmonella outbreak in U.S. history?caused by eggs?that sickened an estimated 224,000 Americans in 1994. In 2005, the CDC estimated that infected eggs in a more typical year cause about 182,000 cases of human salmonella poisoning. That¡¯s not an outbreak, that¡¯s an epidemic.
Salmonella is the most commonly diagnosed foodborne bacterial illness in the United States and has been deemed the leading cause of food-related death. Eggs are the leading culprit. Because salmonella can infect the ovaries of hens, eggs from infected birds can be laid prepackaged with the bacteria inside. According to research funded by the American Egg Board, salmonella can survive sunny-side-up, over-easy, and scrambled egg cooking methods. Although thousands die from food poisoning every year in the United States, the vast majority of victims suffer only acute, self-limited illnesses. Salmonella, however, can have life-long consequences, resulting in chronic arthritic joint inflammation and persistent irritable bowel syndrome in children, who are at especially high risk.
One reason millions of salmonella-infected eggs reach American supermarkets every year is the mistreatment of hens by the egg industry. Cramming 100,000 birds or more under a single roof in tiny battery cages creates an immense volume of contaminated airborne fecal dust that can rapidly spread salmonella infection between the birds. The best available science?a study of more than 5,000 egg operations across two dozen countries?found that for every type of salmonella studied and every type of production system examined, there was a significantly lower risk of salmonella infection in cage-free production.
Six studies (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) have since been published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature comparing salmonella risk between cage and cage-free facilities?the latest of which was published last month?and without exception they all showed the same thing: cages mean significantly more salmonella contamination. This then translates out to more human illness. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who ate eggs from caged hens had about twice the odds of coming down with salmonella food poisoning compared to those who did not eat eggs from hens confined in cages.
Last month, the article ¡°Salmonella Thrives in Cage Housing¡± from the trade publication World Poultry was posted, concluding "the majority of the studies clearly indicate that a cage housing system has an increased risk of being Salmonella-positive in comparison to non-cage housing systems." A study published a few months ago in Poultry Science even found that cage-free hens experimentally infected with salmonella may clear the infection faster than caged hens.
Like the tobacco industry before it, though, the overwhelming scientific evidence doesn't keep the egg industry from falsely claiming that caging hens is better for food safety. California voters didn't buy it, and voted to ban the practice of caging hens in 2008 by a landslide. In a moment of rare candor, the editor of the industry trade journal Egg Industry admitted after the election that industry claims of food safety risks were "invalid¡¦unsupportable and easily refuted."
In the upcoming battle in Ohio you can be assured that both opposing campaigns will have scientists on their side, but only one will have science on its side.

Denmark, Australia: Safest food systems
Source: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2010/06/03/Denmark-Australia-Safest-food-systems/UPI-54491275577900/

Published: June 3, 2010 at 11:11 AM
REGINA, Saskatchewan, June 3 (UPI) -- Denmark, Australia and Britain have the world's safest food systems, while the United States and Canada rank fourth, an international ranking indicates.
Italy, France and Ireland are at the bottom of the international food-safety rankings of 17 countries by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, an international economic organization of 31 countries based in Paris.
Canada nudged up from the No. 5 spot in 2008, earning a "superior" grade in all areas of food safety except "traceability," in which it ranked "poor" alongside the United States, the OECD's Food Safety Performance World Ranking said.
Traceability refers to the recording of processed foods through all steps in the food's production.
This is important if food becomes contaminated and is recalled, officials say. Traceability lets authorities know which foods are safe and which are not, and help determine where the contamination happened, potentially saving millions of dollars in the recall process.
"Canada and the U.S. do not have well-established farm-to-fork traceability systems for any food product," the report states, noting Canada is the only country to earn a lower grade in this area in 2010 than in 2008.
Sylvain Charlebois, the associate director of the University of Regina's public policy graduate school, said Canada's positive bump is partly due to other countries falling behind.
"Basically, Canada has moved up one because some have actually moved down," Charlebois, who conducted the comparative study for the OECD, told the Canwest News Service.

Is Raw Milk Treated Unfairly?
Source: http://www.marlerblog.com/2010/06/articles/lawyer-oped/is-raw-milk-treated-unfairly/
I must admit that I tire of the moans from raw milk advocates that Big Dairy and Big Government is out to get them. I shake my head at the unfounded belief that grass fed cows will never produce a pathogen that can sicken a child. I cringe at the anti-science blather protesting that all outbreaks linked to raw milk never happened, or were caused by something else, or were part of some dark conspiracy designed to discredit what is really a wonder-product. I wish that I had a nickel for each time a raw milk aficionado claimed that I am a tool of the FDA, or State and Local Health Departments, who apparently wrongly nailed a poor raw milk farmer who poisoned a few customers.
Despite the whining to the contrary, raw milk outbreaks do happen and will happen. As I said late last week, Health department officials in Minnesota reported three, and possibly four, E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to drinking raw milk from a dairy in Gibbon, Minnesota. All of the sick were infected with a strain of bacteria that had the same-pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern, or DNA fingerprint. One infected child developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), and is still hospitalized.
Despite the protests from the ¡°raw milkies,¡± there have now been at least nine outbreaks scientifically linked to raw milk since January 2010. The other states with outbreaks include Nevada, Utah (two outbreaks), New York, Pennsylvania, Washington (two outbreaks), and a multistate outbreak in Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. Dozens of people have been sickened in these outbreaks; some very seriously so.
But, is raw milk treated unfairly? Have health departments brought the hammer down on raw milk, while giving a free-pass to other dangerous products? As someone once said, ¡°just because they are paranoid, does not mean they are not out to get them.¡±
This may be a bit of a shocker to my raw milk fans, but, on this, I may agree with them?which clearly must mean that I¡¯ve gone off the reservation, or stopped being a so-called lap dog (or attack dog) of the FDA and Big Ag. Let me be clear though: I am not saying that health officials should not crack down on raw milk producers who poison customers. Nor am I saying that raw milk producers should escape being held accountable for the injury and damage caused by contaminated raw milk. I simply believe that raw milk producers should be treated no more?or less?strictly than any other producer of unsafe or contaminated food products. And this is especially true for ready-to-consume products, like raw milk or fresh produce, where there is no kill-step involved in the production process. Bottom line: Raw milk outbreaks should be publicized, but so must outbreaks involving contaminated lettuce.
But the problem here is that I do believe there¡¯s a double standard. Why is raw milk emphatically criticized when it causes illness while some lettuce producers are allowed by public health officials to escape public scrutiny when their contaminated product has caused illness? And just so you don¡¯t think I¡¯m exaggerating, here are some problematic lettuce outbreaks that were essentially kept secret?that is, until I discovered the fact of such outbreaks and went public with the news:
Romaine lettuce, May 2008: In May 2008, Washington State Department of Health learned of a small cluster of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses amongst Pierce and Thurston County residents. Over the several days that followed, a total of 5 E. coli O157:H7 illnesses were reported in those counties. Testing by WSDOH showed that the bacterial isolates from four of these positive stool samples were indistinguishable after PFGE testing. By the end of the week of May 26, 2008, nine laboratory-confirmed cases and one epidemiologically linked case had been reported. WSDOH testing determined that all nine lab-confirmed cases had indistinguishable PFGE patterns.
Interviews revealed three clusters of illness: three cases at Pacific Lutheran University; three cases from a banquet at La Quinta Inn in Tacoma; and three illnesses amongst students in the Olympia School District. Further, investigators learned from the food histories of all cases that the only food consumed by all cases was lettuce.
Traceback investigation ultimately showed that the implicated romaine lettuce had been distributed to these locations by Northwest Fruit and Produce, a Tacoma-area distributor, and had been manufactured and processed by a string of companies from Salinas, California. The lettuce was grown by Andrew Smith Company at Braga Ranch, packed by Paul¡¯s Pak, and shipped to a processing facility owned by True Leaf Farms. Church Brothers ultimately marketed the lettuce for sale on behalf of a now-defunct produce company called Premium Fresh Farms. No recall, no publicity.
Spinach, August 2008: In August 2008, five case patients with E. coli O157:H7 were reported in Multnomah County, Oregon. Testing of patient isolates by PFGE and MLVA revealed that all five patients were infected with a specific subtype. Public health investigators conducted a case-control study. Results showed that consuming raw spinach had the strongest statistical association with illness. Product traceback of spinach led Oregon investigators to spinach grown by an Organic Farm in Monroe, Washington.
A link between E. coli O157:H7 illness and spinach continued when a second outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 that was identified in Washington state. Investigators in Washington identified five laboratory confirmed cases that were a genetic match by PFGE and MLVA to the Oregon cluster. The first date of illness onset was August 28, 2008. The last case became ill on October 2, 2008. Washington case patients also reported eating organic loose spinach at a variety of locations where the spinach was sold. These included the Port Townsend Coop and deliveries of spinach sold through community supported agriculture (CSA) programs. No recall, no publicity.
Romaine lettuce, October 2008: In October 2008, 3 case patients with E. coli O157:H7 sharing an indistinguishable PFGE pattern combination were identified in San Diego and Orange County, California. All three cases had eaten salads containing romaine lettuce served at Cheesecake Factory restaurants within two days of each other. The subtype was unusual, prompting a cluster investigation coordinated by the CDC. Through OutbreakNet, a fourth case-patient in the cluster was identified, an 18 year old resident of South Dakota. This patient, a recent visitor to San Diego, had eaten a salad at one of the two Cheesecake Factory restaurants identified earlier by two patients. Furthermore, the three case-patients had all eaten at the restaurant on the same day.
County restaurant inspectors conducted an investigation into the source of the lettuce at the two Cheesecake Factory restaurants. Both restaurants received Andy Boy brand romaine lettuce from Fresh Point, a company based in Los Angeles. The outbreak quickly grew beyond Southern California. Public health laboratories continued to report PFGE matches to the outbreak strain. Case-patients were identified in Illinois, Florida, New Jersey, and Ohio. These individuals reported restaurant exposures but none ate at a Cheesecake Factory.
This led investigators to suspect a contaminated ingredient was in the marketplace. Canadian investigators in Ontario identified an outbreak involving 55 persons with at least 13 ill case patients culturing positive for the outbreak strain. The majority of cases were linked to one of two restaurants. Illnesses occurred between October 11 and October 28. Canadian investigators conducted a case-control study and lettuce was statistically associated with illness. Product traceback showed that two restaurants tied to the outbreak shared a common produce supplier and that Andy Boy brand romaine lettuce was the only lettuce in common to all Canadian restaurants with outbreak cases. No recall, no publicity.
Romaine lettuce, summer 2009: In late-July and early-August 2009, at least 100 people were infected by a matching strain of Salmonella typhimurium in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Montana, and possibly other states. The cluster of illnesses was first recognized in mid-August. Early in the large-scale investigation that followed, involving the CDC, FDA, and health agencies from all affected states, it was thought that other PFGE-matched typhimurium cases nationally were part of the outbreak, but later MLVA analysis distinguished some of these cases from the July/August 2009 outbreak. Epidemiological investigation by the Washington State Department of Health, in conjunction with information from MLVA-matched individuals in other states, ultimately identified shredded iceberg lettuce from multiple retail locations, some very common, as the outbreak vehicle. In Oregon and Washington, these retail locations included, among others, Subway, Cash and Carry, Taco Del Mar, Burger King, Quiznos, Big Town Hero, Bandito¡¯s Burrito, Taco Lobo, and Jalapeno Restaurant. Washington State health officials conducted traceback analysis on multiple common ingredients served at these locations, including shredded lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes; but only lettuce was found to have uniformly come from a common supplier. No recall, no publicity.
Lettuce, Spring 2010: Finally, health officials 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 over a month ago. Again, no recall and no publicity.
Again, I am not saying that public health officials should ease up on raw milk; they most definitely should not. But, there is still an issue of fairness here. And despite the public health officials telling me that they cannot publicize every outbreak, I don¡¯t buy that as either an explanation or an excuse. I also don¡¯t buy the argument that a perishable item like lettuce is likely to have already been eaten by the time they figure out, after the fact, an outbreak has happened. Can¡¯t the same thing be said about raw milk?
Telling the public that there was an outbreak linked to a given food product is a duty that public health officials may not shirk. Telling the public that a lettuce producer poisoned customers is just as important as reporting about a raw milk farmer¡¯s product. Consumers need that information so they can vote with their pocketbook. Businesses that poison their customers need to have a light shone on them so both policy makers and other business can learn from the mistakes. Our free market does not function if information about the safety of our food is hidden from us.
Treating businesses equally and fairly is the right thing to do. It¡¯s good for consumers and good for business?even ones selling raw milk.
Posted on June 2, 2010 by Food Poisoning Lawyer

E. coli Test Match on Hartmann Dairy Farm - The Nail in the Coffin of Raw Milk?
Source: http://www.marlerblog.com/2010/06/articles/case-news/e-coli-test-match-on-hartmann-dairy-farm-the-nail-in-the-coffin-of-raw-milk/
The State of Minnesota just published this press release on the ongoing E. coli O157:H7 outbreak:
Laboratory testing conducted by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) this week provided additional evidence that the Hartmann dairy farm, of rural Gibbon, was the source of a strain of E. coli O157:H7 bacteria that sickened at least five Minnesotans after they consumed raw, unpasteurized milk or other dairy products from the farm. MDH reported four cases of illness last week, and a fifth case has subsequently been confirmed in a young child who was not hospitalized.
MDH first discovered the outbreak through reports of E. coli O157:H7 illness from health care providers. The department conducted an investigation into the illnesses, which were scattered across the state, and found that the only thing the ill people had in common was consumption of dairy products from the Hartmann farm. This strong epidemiological link is now reinforced by the laboratory confirmation that the specific strain of E. coli O157:H7 found in the ill patients has also been found in multiple animals and at multiple sites on the Hartmann farm. This strain of E. coli has not previously been found in Minnesota. Furthermore, laboratory tests confirmed that cheese samples collected last week from the farm contained another form of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, demonstrating that an ongoing pathway of contamination existed on the farm.
... In addition to the cases linked to the Hartmann farm, MDH is investigating several other illnesses with a connection to products from the farm. MDA has embargoed dairy products on the Hartmann farm, prohibiting movement or release of the products off the farm.
It is illegal to sell raw milk in Minnesota, although occasional sales are allowed on the farm where the milk is produced. ...
My emphasis above. Hammer, hammer.
For more information about raw milk, visit www.realrawmilkfacts.com.
Posted on June 3, 2010 by E. coli Lawyer



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