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Seafood Mousses and Dips Potentially Contaminated With Listeria
By Claire Mitchell (16, April, 2011)

Yesterday, April 15, 2010, Charcuterie La Tour Eiffel, Inc., a company based in Blainville, Canada, warned the public not to consume certain Summersweet Fine Foods Ltd. products. Summersweet, a leading Canadian Manufacturer and Distributor of packaged foods that has developed business across Canada and the U.S., announced that it was recalling a variety of seafood mousses and dips due to a possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.
The products subject to the recall include:
oSmoked Salmon & Spinach Mousse
oMousse Smoked Salmon & Spinach
oSmoked Salmon & Dill Mousse
oDip Crab & Roasted Red Pepper
oDip Lobster & Shrimp
oSmoked Salmon & Roasted Artichoke Dip
oDip Crab & Three Cheese
According to a press release issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) the products were sold in various sizes at many retail locations throughout Canada. Consumers are urged to bring the products listed above to the store where the item was purchased to obtain a full refund.
Although no reported illnesses have been associated with the consumption of these products, CFIA is closely monitoring the effectiveness of the recall to ensure consumer safety. In 2008, Canada was struck with a severe outbreak of listeriosis traced back to prepackaged deli meats that sickened hundreds and claimed 22 lives.
Listeria is a particularly nasty bug because it is able to thrive even in refrigerated conditions, unlike other bacteria. Consumption of food contaminated with Listeria bacteria may cause listeriosis, a serious foodborne illness that can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have noted that certain segments of the population are at greater risk for contracting listeriosis. Specifically, pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to infection.

Lawyer: DeFusco's Zeppole Salmonella Case Among Worst in 20 years?
Source :
By Mark Schieldrop, Email the author (18, April, 2011)

The salmonella outbreak linked to tainted zeppoles made at DeFusco's Bakery is one of the worst in more than 20 years, said a lawyer with a leading food safety law firm.
The same firm is suing DeFusco's on behalf of several families who were stricken with salmonella after eating baked goods from the beleaguered bakery.
Drew Falkenstein of Seattle-based Marler Clark, a law firm that specializes in food safety cases, said the outbreak "has left a trail of devastation" particularly because so many elderly people were served the zeppoles.
"It's a sad situation," he said. "For a lot of people, salmonella is something you can get over. It's a couple weeks of severe gastrointestinal illness. I don't think I've seen a salmonella outbreak with such a high number of hospitalizations."
Falkenstein was in the area to sit down with more than 10 families who contacted the firm in the days following the first suit filed by the Carrerra family of Rehoboth.
The numbers make the zeppole incident stand out. The traditional St. Joseph's Day Italian pastry ended up consumed by such a large number of the most at-risk people because they were served at several senior centers and assisted living facilities.
For a healthy adult, a salmonella infection usually causes a period of severe, but survivable, digestive illness. For older people, it can be a life-threatening crisis. And this strain of salmonella was particularly virulent, which is why so many people have been hospitalized, Falkenstein said. Four people remained hospitalized midweek last week. Twenty-nine were hospitalized in all. Two people have died.
The statistics look like what's usually seen during an E. coli outbreak, Falkenstein said. And the financial toll could be well over $1 million since older folks need more complex care for such a severe illness.
"With 29 people hospitalized, four still hopsitalized month later, you're probably talking about $1 million in medical expenses alone," Falkenstein said.
Marler-Clark represented about 100 people after the major outbreak of E. coli from tainted Dole spinach in 2006. Falkenstein said the spinach incident was a perfect storm as a nationally-distributed raw product was eaten by both the young and the old. More than 200 got sick, 100 were hospitalized and five people died.
In comparison, the zeppole incident is much less high-profile and E. coli outbreaks tend to wreak more havoc than salmonella cases. And it's not as if DeFusco's zeppoles are in nearly every supermarket in the country.
It was the unusual concentration of older people who were served the product that led to such a terrible toll.
"You don't always see food safety failures at the level we see here," Falkenstein said.
The state Department of Health followed an investigative trail in late March that started when people began to turn up sick. The common thread was soon revealed to be zeppoles. The scent led to DeFusco's, which apparently produced significant amounts of zeppoles for sale at its Johnston and Cranston locations and a slew of other retail bakeries and distributors.
A health department inspection revealed unsanitary practices, including the storage of pastry cream at unsafe temperatures and the alarming use of used egg crates to store pastry shells. There were other infractions, such as a lack of working sinks, employees not washing hands and overall uncleanliness at the bakery, according to the health department.
Though the health department was unable to find salmonella on any food samples taken from the bakery, the smoking gun was found right at the start of April when test samples from the crates tested positive for salmonella.
The reports are scathing enough that Falkenstein said he expects the arguments in court will have little to do with liability.
"I don't plan on spending a lot of time talking to them about whether they're liable," he said. "It's a matter of what's a fair amount of compensation for the people who were affected by their failure with the product and the manufacture of the product. I know Steve DeFusco and the folks at bakery didn't mean to do this, there's no doubt about that, but the bakery was careless in the way it handled food."
The health department ordered the bakery remain closed until the violations are fixed. Both the Johnston and Cranston locations remain closed.
Calls to DeFusco's Bakery were unreturned.
Marler Clark will not sue the distributors or catering company that obtained zeppoles from DeFusco's. In some situations they too can be found liable for passing along tainted product and in some states, they can sue their suppliers. Falkenstein said the firm is not representing any distributors nor does it have the intention of pursuing damages from them.
"The defendants are DeFusco's and they are the ones who had a failure with the product," Falkenstien said.
The current toll, according to the health department is:
o70 cases total, 69 in Rhode Island, 1 in Massachusetts.
o29 hospitalizations.
o42 lab-confirmed salmonella infections

Recent outbreak of contaminated meat is nothing to worry about?
By Lea Petersen (20, Apr, 2011)

A recent outbreak of an antibiotic resistant strain of staphylococcus aureus found in pork, poultry and beef has Americans worried, but should we be?
Robert Hubert, teaching laboratory coordinator for the department of microbiology, said not to worry.
"Your body will take care of itself; don't completely avoid meat in fear of eating the bacteria," Hubert said.
"Staphylococcus aureus or S. aureus, is a gram-positive cocci bacteria that is a common human pathogen," Hubert said.
Gram-positive means the bacteria do not have an outer membrane and stains a dark blue or purple color when stained with crystal violet. S. aureus is spherical in shape or coccus, as it is referred to in cell morphology.
While S. aureus causes staph infections, it is nothing to lose sleep over.
"The bacteria produces a toxin that, in large numbers, can get into a person's gastrointestinal tract and can lead to staph food poisoning," Hubert said. "The symptoms are the same as any other form of food poisoning: nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea. The good news is that is lasts for a very short time. Such infections usually only last a day, then your body will recover and that will be all."
Students should take care to appropriately wash, handle and prepare meats in order to decrease the risk S. aureus contamination.
"Proper handling of food, wearing gloves and hair nets will help keep food from being contaminated," Hubert said. "Properly cooking meat will denature the toxins of S. aureus and kill the bacteria."

Tests find 80% of chickens in Seattle-area groceries carry pathogens
By Sandi Doughton (19, Apr, 2011)

Most cooks know by now that raw chicken can be a bacterial time bomb.
But tests commissioned by a Seattle law firm are bringing that message home.
Out of 100 whole chickens purchased at Seattle-area grocery stores in March, 80 harbored at least one type of disease-causing bacteria, including campylobacter and salmonella.
Ten percent of the samples tested positive for the same antibiotic-resistant strain of staphylococcus bacteria responsible for an epidemic of hospital infections. And organic chickens were just as likely as conventionally raised chickens to be tainted with a wide range of germs.
The tests were paid for by Marler Clark, which built its legal reputation on food-safety cases. But the results are similar to other surveys around the country, including one released last week that found nearly a quarter of chicken, turkey, beef and pork contaminated with drug-resistant staph bacteria.
A study by Consumer Reports last year showed two-thirds of whole chickens purchased nationwide harbored salmonella or campylobacter, the leading bacterial causes of food poisoning.
"I was intrigued by these studies and wanted to see if we were having the same issues," said attorney Bill Marler. "I think it's a warning to consumers ... and raises the issue of what industry's responsibility is for lowering that level of bacterial contamination."
A spokesman for the National Chicken Council said the industry has done an "excellent job" of improving food safety. "But chicken is raw, and it does need to be handled and cooked in the normal and customary manner," said Richard Lobb.
Cooking and careful cleanup can prevent food-borne illness. But it's easy to spread contamination after handling chicken, Marler said. "You pick it up, then which counter did you set it on?" he asked. "Did you wipe your hands on your pant leg? Did it get under your fingernails?"
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in six Americans is sickened every year by food-borne pathogens, with 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.
The presence of MRSA, or Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, on chicken raises questions about possible infection routes, Marler said. "What if you have a cut and you're handling a chicken?"
MRSA is a major cause of life-threatening infections in hospitals. Lobb said no human cases of drug-resistant staph have been linked to raw meat or poultry.
The Seattle tests also found one chicken contaminated by a type of E. coli bacteria that is normally found only in beef. Called E. coli 026, the strain is similar to the type of E. coli that killed several children who ate undercooked Jack in the Box hamburgers in the early 1990s.
"That was a surprise," said Mansour Samadpour, who conducted the tests for Marler Clark. With 70 locations, Samadpour's Institute for Environmental Health is one of the nation's largest food-safety laboratories.
He said Marler Clark did not influence the outcome of the tests.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture monitors the levels of some bacteria in poultry. Effective in July, the agency is tightening its rules. Processors will have to ensure that no more than 7.5 percent of raw chickens are contaminated with salmonella and no more than 10.4 percent with campylobacter.
The 100 chickens tested in Seattle came from multiple producers in Washington, California, and other states. But collectively, the birds would not have passed the new standards: 65 percent were contaminated with campylobacter and 19 percent with salmonella.
More than 40 percent of the samples tested positive for Staphylococcus aureus, which is not regulated by USDA. (The totals add up to more than 100 percent because many chickens were contaminated with multiple pathogens.)
The local samples were collected from 18 grocery stores in Seattle, Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood. They included two Albertsons; two Costcos; two Fred Meyers; four QFCs; three Safeway locations; and one each of Ken's Market, PCC, Sam's Club, Thriftway and Whole Foods. None of the stores received a clean bill of health, nor did any of the processors that were the source of the chickens.
Of 13 organic chickens tested, nine were contaminated with at least one pathogen, including salmonella, staph and campylobacter.
The bacteria on chicken are a result of fecal contamination, which can be aggravated by crowding and industrial slaughtering and processing. To cut down on the levels of bacteria, processors can rinse the birds in a chlorine solution, Lobb said. To comply with the new standards, they're also exploring ways to better sanitize the litter that covers the floors of chicken-rearing facilities, he said.
Bacterial levels in poultry are much lower in countries where regulations are stricter, including Denmark, Marler said. The United States tends to put much of the responsibility for avoiding food-borne illness on consumers.
"But if consumers are more aware, and asking good questions at their grocery store," he said, "it puts pressure back upstream for chicken manufacturers to do a better job."

Practise food safety, avoid Easter illness?
Source :
By : Chris Traber| (21, Apr, 2011)

No matter how you observe Easter, special meals are most likely part of your tradition.
York Region Community and Health Services reminds you food-borne illness, also known as food poisoning, can occur if improper techniques are used when preparing and cooking food.
Following simple techniques can ensure your holiday dining is pleasurable and safe.
When purchasing food, shop for refrigerated items last and ensure all meat, including lamb and poultry, comes from an approved and federally or provincially inspected source.
When handling food, remember these four easy steps:
o Wash hands frequently using liquid soap and running water. Keep cutting boards, dishes, utensils, counter tops and food preparation equipment clean. Wash fresh fruits and vegetables under cool running water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten;
o Separate. Avoid cross-contamination of raw products and cooked products during transport, storage and preparation and use a separate cutting board for raw meats only;
o Cook food thoroughly and keep food out of the danger zone - temperatures between 4C (40F) and 60C (140F);
o Store perishable foods, such as meats and dairy products, in the refrigerator or freezer as soon as you get home. Store leftovers quickly after eating and eat within two days of cooking; and,
o When decorating and dying eggs, ensure they are properly refrigerated. Before decorating, hard boil the eggs and cool immediately in the refrigerator or under cold running water. Use an egg colouring dye that is food grade non-toxic.
Once eggs have been coloured, ensure they are stored in refrigerated conditions of 4C (40F) or colder. Do not eat eggs that have been left at room temperature for more than two hours, including decorated eggs used for display purposes or those decorated by children.
Common symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and fever. If you think you have contracted a food-borne illness, seek medical attention.
Visit for more information on the York Region food safety program or contact York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653.

Poultry Study Finds Alarming Rate of Bacterial Contamination
Source :
By David Babcock (19, Apr, 2011)

The troubling findings of a recent study of bacterial contamination in retail poultry were being reported today at Aol News. Food safety attorney Bill Marler funded a study that was conducted in Seattle by the Institute for Environmental Health, a national network of food safety laboratories.
The study was based on sampling conducted on 100 packages of chicken parts and fryers purchased from 10 Seattle-area groceries last month. The contamination rates:
Camplyobacter: a whopping 65%.
Salmonella: 19%
E. coli or listeria 2%, (including the pathogenic E. coli O26, normally associated with beef.)
Methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) : 10%
The MRSA finding might be the most problematic at all. According to the report, USDA inspectors present at poultry facilities do not monitor for the pathogen. In addition:
Handling contaminated chicken with a cut or break in the skin is a screaming invitation for MRSA to enter the body. Public health experts warn that bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a serious problem, as it often makes many diseases difficult if not impossible to treat.
Bill Marler explained why he funded the study:
"I funded the chicken study because I'm concerned that consumers don't understand how many pathogens may be on the chicken they purchase and serve to their families," Marler told AOL News. All the contamination most likely occurs because of sloppiness in the processing facilities, where the meat comes into contact with feces, which causes most of the dangerous bacteria to flourish, Marler said.

Consumers more worried about food, survey finds

Source :
By Philip Brasher (18, Apr, 2011)

Consumers are worrying more about their food. Nearly three of four Americans, 73 percent, say they are more concerned about their food than they were five years ago, according to a survey by the consulting firm Deloitte LLP. That's up from 65 percent in 2010.
The healthfulness of their food was the No. 1 concern of consumers at 54 percent, up from 49 percent in 2010. No. 2 among their concerns was safety at 49 percent this year, up from 36 percent in 2010. Over-processed food was the third-biggest concern at 36 percent.
"We have seen a groundswell of consumer anxiety increase demands on political leaders, companies and regulatory agencies to more efficiently push out imp out important information about food and products that could compromise health and well-being," Deloitte said.
The survey was based on responses online in early March from 1,050 people and has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, according to Deloitte.

Japan should avoid a food crisis?
By : Sylvain Charlebois Wed 20, Apr,2011)

The Fukushima nuclear incident in Japan poses a conceptual problem for our current systems of dealing with food risks.
Food safety concerns in the Fukushima region were triggered by a devastating earthquake and tsunami. However, most of the food-safety crises of the last decade were human-induced, and much of our policy is geared toward incidents of this type. Mad cow disease, melamine in milk, contaminated peanuts, the numerous salmonella and listeria recalls - all were ignited by socio-technological and systemic breakdowns.
Though Japan's disaster is profoundly unfortunate, our reactions to these events may improve the ways we anticipate and manage risks to food safety.
Strategically, the disparities between these incident types are not trivial. For one, human-induced incidences can always be prevented. Mad cow was borne of weak policy overseeing ruminant-to-ruminant feed. Inadequate maintenance of a meat-slicing machine led to the 2008 Maple Leaf recall of almost 200 products. In the same year, cattle herds in close proximity prompted the e. coli outbreak which killed three people. These incidences were unanticipated, but ultimately avoidable. When we analyze human-induced incidents, systems usually can be improved.
However, when coping with natural disasters, the focus is more on the speed at which systems can recover, and less so on preventive measures. Accountability and responsibility are fuzzier concepts in the aftermath of natural disaster scenarios. The aim is to recognize that a human-induced food recall is never random, but rather the result of an extended gestation period during which unseen managerial and policy blunders unfurl. Unlike in the case of natural disasters, someone can be, and usually is, blamed.
When natural disasters affect food supply chains, the key is to manage what follows in an efficient, systemic and brisk manner. Food strategists and policymakers cannot sufficiently appreciate the potential devastation of a natural disaster until they appreciate it within the context of the larger food system of which it is a part.
A more general solution lies in how public officials communicate risks, directly and indirectly, with the community affected by the incident. Laudably, the Japanese officials have done so, almost every day, but even that may not have been enough. Radiation concerns at the Fukushima plant have heightened domestic food safety concerns at a time when Japanese food self-sufficiency is already low. The earthquake, tsunami and persistent nuclear problems will have a lasting impact in the psyche of the Japanese people. Japanese consumers, who reacted rather negatively to their own mad cow crisis in 2001 when over 100 McDonalds restaurants closed for over a week, will need reassurance. In addition, the country's food security policies may need to be revised to ratchet up Japan's agricultural capacity.
The reality is that natural disasters make victims, and often, lots of them. Victims are often severely affected in many and various ways, making food safety concerns seem secondary. But radiation knows no borders. At the outset, neighbouring countries, even those as distant as Canada, were concerned about possible food contamination due to excessive radiation levels.
Thankfully, many reports suggest that public health risks due to food contamination have been minimized, at least for now. Japan is known to have a sterling food-safety track record because of a risk-averse mentality that stems from its reliance on food imports. Most western nations are more vulnerable to disaster incidents because laissez-faire government policies encourage crisis-prone systems. This is certainly not Japan's case.
Nevertheless, there have been no reports of injury from radiation in Fukushima. Even when the country recently announced its level 7 designation, the International Atomic Energy Agency asserted that food-safety tests in Japan showed no signs of dangerous levels of radiological contamination. But the war on risk perceptions, specifically within Japan's domestic market, is far from over, and effective communication, rather than scapegoating, will be the weapons of the day.
Sylvain Charlebois is associate dean of research and graduate studies and a professor of food distribution and policies in theCollege of Management and Economics at the University of Guelph.

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