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News Featured Article: Nuts! How to Crack an E. coli Case
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-safety-news-featured-article-nuts-how-to-crack-an-e-coli-case/
By Drew Falkenstein (10, Mar, 2011)
Loosely defined, epidemiology
is the study of diseases and conditions as they move through populations
of people, one objective being to identify the source of injury so that
the cause can be eliminated. Ross Anderson's article today in Food Safety
News, spawned by the hazelnut E. coli outbreak, is a good primer on
Seven sick people, most of them middle-aged men, scattered across three
states. As epidemiology goes, that's not much to go on.
To track outbreaks of foodborne illness, the "epi" sleuths
usually need numerous sick people, preferably concentrated in one or
two areas. Larger "clusters" of illnesses greatly improve
the chance of figuring out what made everybody sick.
But you go with what you got, says Josh Rounds, a staff epidemiologist
at the Minnesota Department of Health in St. Paul. And just three weeks
ago, in mid-February, what the MDH had was three cases of E. coli O157:H7
in Minnesota, three more in neighboring Wisconsin, and one in Michigan.
Three of the case patients had been hospitalized.
None of the sick knew each other, nor had they eaten at the same restaurant
or church potluck. They live hundreds of miles apart. Yet lab tests
showed they had contracted the same strain of E. coli, so they were
all contaminated by a single source. Minnesota launched its investigation,
and Rounds got the job.
Step One: "Team D," short for Diarrhea, students in public
health studies at nearby University of Minnesota, who work part time
for the state health department. Most work in the evenings, working
the phones, interviewing people who have been ill. Each interview follows
the same format - a 12 page questionnaire, inquiring what victims ate
before they got sick.
Teavana Corporation Voluntarily Recalls Organic Herbal
Tea Due to Possible Salmonella Contamination
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-recall/teavana-corporation-voluntarily-recalls-organic-herbal-tea-due-to-possible-salmonella-contamination/
By Claire Mitchell (08, Mar, 2011)
On March 3, 2011, FDA announced
that Teavana, an Atlanta-based corporation, was issuing a voluntary,
nationwide recall of 2,659 pounds of Peppermint Organic Herbal Tea produced
by Aromatics Inc., located in Basin City, Washington.
The recall of the tea, which was distributed nationwide in Teavana retail
stores and through mail and Internet orders, was due to a potential
Salmonella contamination. According to the FDA news release as well
as a report published this morning by the News Desk at Food Safety News:
[t]he recall was as the result of a batch sample testing program by
the Company after it received a notification of possible contamination
by the vendor, which revealed that the finished products contained the
bacteria. The Company has ceased the production and distribution of
the product as the FDA and the Company continue their investigation
as to the origin of the contamination.
In its own press release, Teavana explained that Aromatics, Inc. is
the exclusive producer and distributor of Teavana's Peppermint Organic
Teavana has more than 150 retail stores in 35 states and Mexico. Typically,
the Peppermint Organic Herbal Tea is measured to customer's orders in
stores and sold in 2 oz., $4.30 pre-packaged pouches by mail order or
via the Internet. In addition, there are no lot/batch identifying markings
on the store or ecommerce packaging. According to the company's records,
retail store stock of the product was sold between Dec. 4, 2010 and
Feb. 16, 2011. Mail order and Internet stock was sold between Nov. 30,
2010 and Feb. 16, 2011.
Although there have been no illnesses linked to this voluntary recall
reported to date, it is still important to remember that Salmonella
can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children,
frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. According
Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea
(which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare
circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism
getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such
as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and
The company is urging consumers who purchased Peppermint Organic Herbal
Tea to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Moreover,
Teavana noted that "any potential health risk can be significantly
reduced by following the brewing instructions, which are printed on
the package or available online."
Consumers may also contact Teavana Customer Service at 1-877-832-8262
(Monday through Friday from 8.30 a.m. to 6 p.m., EST) for instructions
on how to return the product or any further inquiries.
Botulism warning issued for watermelon jam
Source : http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2011/03/08/bc-botulism-watermelon-jam.html
By CBC news (08, Mar, 2011)
The B.C. Centre for Disease
Control is warning that jars of watermelon jelly that were sold at charity
booths around B.C. last summer could contain botulism.
A rare case of botulism on Vancouver Island has sparked a recall of
120 ml jars of the jelly made by Jamnation Fine Foods, according to
Sion Shyng, a food safety specialist at the BCCDC.
"The jelly was sold through the British Columbia Huntingtons Research
Foundation charity booths in Duncan, and may also have been sold in
other parts of province," explains Shyng.
"We're concerned that this product may still be in the homes of
consumers as jellies can be stored and consumed long after they are
The BCCDC is currently working with B.C. Health Authorities and the
B.C. Ministry of Health Services to ensure the recalled product is removed
from distribution and is investigating any possible cases of illness.
Botulism cases are rare in B.C. accorrding to the BCCDC. Symptoms include
blurred vision, slurred speech, and muscle paralysis. Anyone with concerns
should call their physician.
passes food safety inspection, though several problems observed
Source : http://www.ultimatelakehouston.com/stories/235855-seafood-restaurant-passes-food-safety-inspection-though-several-problems-observed
By Andrew Benedict-Nelson (04, Mar, 2011)
A local seafood restaurant
recently passed its Harris County food safety exam, but inspectors observed
The Captain Al Seafood restaurant, located at 8529 C.E. King Parkway
in Houston, was inspected on Jan. 13. It received a score of 11 demerits
out of a possible 100. An establishment must earn 20 demerits or more
to be considered "of concern" and in need of a follow-up visit.
Among the violations observed by county officials was a failure to comply
with "good hygienic practices" rules. This can refer to a
variety of problems, including open beverage containers in the kitchen,
unsafe hand-washing practices, and eating, drinking, or smoking in unapproved
areas. It is among the violations that the county website says are commonly
associated with food-borne illness by the Centers for Disease Control
The inspectors also noted problems with the restaurant's thermometers
and pointed out the potential for the cross-contamination of raw and
This kind of score is not unusual for Captain Al. The establishment
also received an 11 in June 2010. The August inspection was better,
with just four demerits, but in November 2010 the restaurant received
16 demerits and inspectors requested a follow-up inspection. Captain
Al scored three demerits in that visit five days later.
to stop recycled cereal boxes over ink cancer link
Source : http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2011/03/09/kellogg-s-to-stop-recycled-cereal-boxes-over-ink-cancer-link-115875-22975849/
By Ruki Sayid, Daily Mirror (09, Mar, 2011)
KELLOGG'S is to axe cereal
boxes made from recycled cardboard after scientists found old ink in
packaging is linked to cancer.
The breakfast giant, which makes ¡©Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies, is
looking at alternatives after the warning and may switch to foil inner
bags to keep cereal free from the chemicals.
Weetabix is also considering new packaging after a Swiss study found
that in 75% of boxes made from recycled newspaper, potentially toxic
mineral oils could seep into cereals.
Researchers, led by Dr Koni Grob at Zurich's Food Safety Lab, labelled
the new findings "frightening".
Dr Grob said studies on rats highlighted possible health dangers, adding:
"One is the chronic inflammation of various internal organs and
the other one is cancer."
Kellogg's said there was "no immediate concern", adding in
a statement: "We are working with our suppliers on new packaging
which allows us to meet our environmental commitments but will also
contain ¡©significantly lower levels of mineral oil."
Weetabix said that while there was no "risk to consumer health"
it was working with packaging suppliers for alternatives.
and regulators taking steps to tackle mineral oil risk from packaging
Source : http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Industry-and-regulators-taking-steps-to-tackle-mineral-oil-risk-from-packaging
By Rory Harrington (09, Mar, 2011)
The paper and packaging industries
are taking a hands-on role in exploring ways to curb the presence of
mineral oils in the manufacture of their products, said a leading trade
The Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) outlined the complex
nature of the problem - and what it is doing to address the issue -
in the wake of intense media speculation yesterday over the potential
health threat from the toxic substance leaching from packaging.
Traces of mineral oil in food are thought to arise by their migration
from the inks present both on the printed surface of the packaging and
in recycled fibre, principally newspapers, used in the production of
It emerged that a number of leading breakfast cereal companies, including
Kellogg and Weetabix, are changing their packaging in a bid to limit
consumer exposure to the mineral oils. The possible health threat from
mineral oils in food packaging surfaced last year after a Swiss study
by Dr Koni Grob found that almost three quarters of 119 food products
from a German supermarket contained mineral oils levels exceeding the
EU safe level of 0.6mg/kg by more than 10 times.
While long term exposure to mineral oils has been linked to the chronic
inflammation of various internal organs and cancer, consumers who eat
balanced diets are not believed to be at risk, said Grob.
The UK Food Standards Agency said yesterday it was "not aware of
any firm evidence to suggest that there are food safety risks related
to mineral oils in recycled food packaging" and said there was
no need for immediate action.
CEPI managing director Teresa Presas told FoodProductionDaily.com that
while there were no toxicological studies yet available paper and packaging
players were taking the matter "very seriously".
"Industry has been investigating this and we are doing everything
we can about the issue," she said. "Eliminating the root cause
is the most sustainable option and we have been in dialogue with stakeholders
about the phasing out materials containing mineral oils by taking steps
such the reformulation of inks"
The CEPI chief said packaging companies were committed to using mineral-oil
free inks and, where possible, using recovered paper types with "minimum
mineral oil content". But Presas cautioned that such changes in
technology would take time.
Part of the difficulty in addressing the issue is that mineral oils
enter the food supply via a variety of routes - with the problem not
just confined to recycled cardboard. Traces of the chemical have also
been detected in virgin fibre and even in fresh, unpacked food.
"Mineral oil migration is complicated as it comes from a number
of sources," said Presas. "It comes from the corrugated outer
boxes used to transport food, secondary packaging, inks as well as recycled
One industry insider said that some food companies are unwilling to
share the higher cost of mineral-oil free inks with packaging suppliers,
which may also be discouraging, take up in some quarters.
CEPI said it had published voluntary standards for paper-based food
contact materials to "minimise any incidents and to take corrective
measures as science develops".
The matter is well and truly on Europe's regulatory radar with the UK
FSA investigating the extent of the chemical's presence in packaging.
The issue is certain to be discussed at an industry workshop on non-plastic
food contact materials host by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
being held today. The Parma-based safety watchdog is due to deliver
an opinion on mineral oils later in the year.
Home Food Safety
Program Supports 2010 Dietary Guidelines' Focus on Food Safety as Part
of a Healthy Eating Plan
Source : http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/home-food-safety-program-supports-2010-dietary-guidelines-focus-on-food-safety-as-part-of-a-healthy-eating-plan-117587853.html
By American Dietetic Association (09, Mar, 2011)
CHICAGO, March 8, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/
-- Each year, about 76 million people get sick, 325,000 are hospitalized
and 5,000 die from foodborne illness. Ensuring food is safe to eat is
-- a critical part of healthy eating, according to the newly released
2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The American Dietetic Association
and ConAgra Foods' public awareness campaign Home Food Safety supports
the Dietary Guidelines' emphasis on the importance of food safety and
the role each individual plays in keeping foodborne illness out of our
"The staggering number of cases of foodborne illness underscores
the need for further exploration of our four
simple tips," said registered dietitian and ADA Spokesperson Ruth
Home Food Safety educates consumers about how foodborne illness in the
home is a serious health issue, and provides simple solutions and tips
so Americans can easily and safely handle food in their own kitchens.
Aligned with the four basic food safety principles recommended by the
Dietary Guidelines -- CLEAN, SEPARATE, COOK and CHILL -- the following
tips from Home Food Safety can reduce the risk of foodborne illness:
1.Wash hands often.
2.Keep raw meats and ready-to-eat foods separate.
3.Cook to proper temperatures.
4.Refrigerate promptly to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
CLEAN: Wash Hands Often
ADA and ConAgra Foods' Home Food Safety program stresses the importance
of "proper" hand washing to eliminate cases of foodborne illness
and significantly reduce the spread of the common cold and flu. Wash
hands for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing food - especially
after handling raw seafood, meat, poultry or eggs - and before eating.
Hand-washing is also important after going to the bathroom, changing
diapers, coughing or sneezing, tending to someone who is sick or injured,
touching animals or handling garbage.
Besides the importance of washing hands, the Dietary Guidelines remind
consumers that all kitchen surfaces
(including appliances, refrigerators and freezers), all produce (even
if you plan to peel and cut before eating) and even reusable grocery
bags and lunchboxes need to be washed thoroughly. For example, the insides
of microwaves often become soiled with food, allowing bacteria to grow.
Washing the inside and outside, including handles and buttons, can prevent
SEPARATE: Keep Raw Meats and Ready-to-Eat Foods Separate
When juices from raw meats or germs from unclean objects accidentally
touch cooked or ready-to-eat foods (such as fruits or salads), cross-contamination
occurs. Remember to always use separate, clean cutting boards for raw
meat, poultry and seafood, and another for ready-to-eat foods. Never
place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that previously
held raw food.
The Dietary Guidelines reiterate the importance of keeping foods separate
before, during and after preparation. Always place raw fish, seafood,
meat and poultry in plastic bags, and keep them separate from other
foods in your grocery cart and bags. Store raw fish, seafood, meat and
poultry on a shelf below the ready-to-eat foods in your refrigerator.
COOK: Cook to Proper Temperatures
Fish, seafood, meat, poultry and egg dishes should be cooked to the
recommended minimum internal temperatures to destroy any potentially
harmful bacteria. Use a food thermometer to ensure food is safely cooked
and kept at safe temperatures until eaten. For packaged foods, follow
cooking instructions carefully, and clean food thermometers with hot,
soapy water before and after each use.
ADA and ConAgra Foods applaud the Dietary Guidelines for stressing how
cooking temperatures also apply to microwave cooking. A microwave can
cook unevenly and leave "cold spots" where harmful bacteria
can survive. According to the Dietary Guidelines, "When cooking
using a microwave, foods should be stirred, rotated and/or flipped periodically
to help them cook evenly. Microwave cooking instructions on food packages
always should be followed."
CHILL: Refrigerate Promptly to 40 Degrees Fahrenheit or Below
The Home Food Safety program reminds consumers to refrigerate foods
quickly and at a proper temperature to slow the growth of bacteria and
prevent foodborne illness. Keep your refrigerator at 40¡ÆF or below and
your freezer at 0¡ÆF or below, and always use refrigerator and freezer
thermometers to monitor these temperatures.
The Dietary Guidelines also reiterate that perishable foods are no longer
safe to eat when they have been in the danger zone of 40-140¡ÆF for more
than two hours (or one hour if the temperature was above 90¡ÆF). "When
shopping, the two-hour window includes the amount of time food is in
the grocery basket, car and on the kitchen counter."
Guidelines for At-Risk Populations
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines stress the Home Food Safety program's message
about how higher-risk populations like pregnant women, very young children,
older adults and people with weakened immune systems or certain chronic
illnesses can be at far greater risk of developing serious illness if
contracting food poisoning. "Once contracted, these infections
can be difficult to treat, can reoccur and can even be fatal for these
individuals," Frechman said.
According to the Dietary Guidelines, at-risk individuals need to take
special precautions to avoid unpasteurized
(raw) juice or milk, or foods made from unpasteurized milk, like some
soft cheeses such as Feta and queso blanco. Additionally, raw sprouts
can carry harmful bacteria and should be avoided. The Dietary Guidelines
recommend that consumers reheat deli and luncheon meats and hot dogs
to steaming hot in order to kill Listeria-
the bacteria that causes listeriosis.
"Foodborne illness is a serious issue for Americans. Fortunately,
taking simple steps like those found on www.homefoodsafety.org can significantly
reduce this risk and help keep families healthy and safe," said
Joan Menke-Schaenzer, chief global quality officer for ConAgra Foods.
A downloadable chart of safe minimum internal temperatures of foods
and more information on preventing foodborne illness can be found at
Interviews with ADA Spokespeople and English and Spanish public service
announcements can be secured by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
The American Dietetic Association is the world's largest organization
of food and nutrition professionals. ADA is committed to improving the
nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research,
education and advocacy. Visit the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org.
ConAgra Foods, Inc., (NYSE: CAG) is one of North America's leading food
companies, with brands in 97 percent of America's households. Consumers
find Banquet, Chef Boyardee, Egg Beaters, Healthy Choice, Hebrew National,
Hunt's, Marie Callender's, Orville Redenbacher's, PAM, Peter Pan, Reddi-wip,
Slim Jim, Snack Pack and many other ConAgra Foods brands in grocery,
convenience, mass merchandise and club stores. ConAgra Foods also has
a strong business-to-business presence, supplying frozen potato and
sweet potato products as well as other vegetable, spice and grain products
to a variety of well-known restaurants, foodservice operators and commercial
customers. For more information, please visit us at www.conagrafoods.com.
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