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Unnamed Egyptian Fenugreek Seed Grower and Unnamed German Importer Responsible for 4,200 Illnesses and 50 Deaths
Source :
By_ Bill Marler (05, July, 2011 )
Union has banned imports of Egyptian fenugreek seeds after they were linked to E. coli O104:H4 outbreaks in Germany and France that has sickened over 4,200 and killed 50 throughout Europe and the Untied States.
"The analysis of information from the French and German outbreaks leads to the conclusion that an imported lot of fenugreek seeds which was used to grow sprouts imported from Egypt [unnamed grower or growers] by a[n unnamed] German importer, is the most likely common link but other lots may be implicated. The report highlights that negative results from microbiological tests carried out on seeds cannot be interpreted as proof that a lot is not contaminated with STEC" the European Commission said in a release.
European Union imports from Egypt of the kinds of seeds affected by the ban totaled about 49,000 tons in 2010, the commission said. In its report, the EFSA said a single batch (lot # 48088) of fenugreek seeds is the likely cause of both a major outbreak of highly toxic E. coli in Germany in May and a smaller outbreak in France in June. Other shipments of fenugreek imported from Egypt between 2009 and 2011 might also be contaminated, the EFSA warned.
Here is the greatest concern:
The number of [EU] Member States [and possibly others] that have received parts of the suspected lots is much larger than previously known and it cannot be excluded that other Member States and third countries were supplied. The trace forward operation is becoming complex and widespread and may take weeks.

One Egyptian Seed Shipment: Two Outbreaks
Source :
By_ Ross Anderson (06, July, 2011)
The European Union banned the import of certain Egyptian seeds and beans Tuesday following an official report that a single batch of well-travelled Egyptian fenugreek seeds probably caused two European outbreaks of E. coli poisoning that have sickened 4,211 people and killed at least 50.
A task force of health officials set up by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reported that "one lot of fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt is the most likely common link between the two outbreaks."
And it is likely that contaminated seeds remain on the European market, leading the EU to reiterate its warning and ban the import of Egyptian seeds until October 31.
While the seeds that triggered epidemics in northern Germany and in Bordeaux, France, travelled different routes, both lots originated in Egypt, investigators concluded.
Both were traced back a year and a half to a shipment of 33,000 pounds (15,000 kg) of fenugreek seeds, Lot No. 48088, that was loaded onto a ship at the Egyptian port of Damietta on Nov. 24, 2009. That ship steamed to Antwerp, Belgium, and the seeds were barged to Rotterdam to clear customs.
The sealed container was trucked into Germany to an unidentified importer, who resold most of the lot. An unidentified German company then resold about 150 pounds of the seeds to the German sprouter, Gartnerhof Bienenbuttel, which is believed to be the source of the sprouts that caused the enormous outbreak of E. coli poisoning in northern Germany.
Meanwhile, the German importer also sold about 800 pounds of sprout seed to the English company Thompson & Morgan, which repackaged the seeds into 1.75-ounce (50 grams) packages. Those packages were shipped to a French distributor, who resold the seeds to about 200 garden centers around France.
Investigators believe that one of those packets was the source of the second European outbreak, which has sickened 16 people in the Bordeaux area.
Because more contaminated seeds could be in circulation, "it seems appropriate to consider all lots of fenugreek from the (Egyptian) exporter as suspect," the EFSA report concluded. Trace-forward findings indicate the German importer sold seeds from the suspected lot to 70 companies.
Even a negative laboratory test of those seeds "cannot be interpreted as proof that a batch is not contaminated," the report says. EFSA also said the seeds were likely contaminated with E. coli O104:H4 at some point before leaving the importer. A "production or distribution process" might have allowed contamination by human or animal fecal material.

Europeans have been alarmed by watching thousands of people sickened by a few miniscule sprout seeds. But U.S. experts have seen this before.
"Sprouts are susceptible as a raw vegetable product, " says Ben Miller of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. "The seed is likely to come into contact with soil, which is a great place to become contaminated with salmonella or E. coli. And the seed itself provides an ideal space for the pathogen to settle in for long periods of time."
The shelf life of the seed can be up to five years, Miller said. And the bacteria will remain.
Under the right, or wrong, circumstances, a single bacterium on a single seed can end up contaminating an entire batch of sprouts, he said.
Most sprouters are small, local, independent farms that probably do not produce their own seed, Miller said. The seed is cheap and easy to ship, so the sprouter is likely to have it shipped.
Europe's twin outbreaks, caused by seeds that were shipped from Egypt 18 months earlier, appear to be a classic example of that.
"Sprouts are a great vehicle for all kinds of pathogens," Miller said. "But we have lots of questions. Will there be an environmental investigation in Egypt? Where were these sprouts growing? Why were they so susceptible to this pathogen? Did it originate with cows? With human waste?"

EU bans "deadly" Egyptian seeds after E.coli report
Source :
By_ Mike Stones( 06, Jul, 2011)

The EU has banned the import of seeds from Egypt, including fenugreek seeds, after they were identified as the probable cause of recent E.coli 104 H4 outbreaks which killed 48 people in Germany, sickened about 4000 and affected 15 people in France.
Yesterday, a task force lead by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) concluded: "There is a high probability that fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt, which are contaminated by EHEC O104:H4 and from which sprouts were produced in a horticultural farm in Lower Saxony, are the underlying cause.
"The consumption of the sprouts has then resulted in diseases. In some cases secondary infections transmitted by humans likewise occurred."
Health and consumer commissioner John Dalli said: "The report published leads us to withdrawing some Egyptian seeds from the EU market and to a temporary ban on imports of some seeds and beans originating from that country. The Commission will continue to monitor the situation very closely and will take additional measures if necessary".
Sampled and destroyed
The EU ruling requires member states to ensure that all lots of fenugreek seeds imported from one Egyptian exporter between 2009 and 2011 are withdrawn from the market, sampled and destroyed. The import of all Egyptian seeds and beans for sprouting is suspended until October 31.
Both German and French outbreaks were traced to the same fenugreek seed batch imported from Egypt and used for sprout production on the farm in Lower Saxony in 2009. Another fenugreek batch was used for seed production on the same farm in April and May this year.
Contaminated sprout seeds may still be on the market and further outbreaks are to be expected, warned the EFSA report.
EFSA, ECDC and the German authorities all recommend that consumers refrain from growing sprouts for personal consumption and not to consume sprouts or germ buds which have not been thoroughly cooked.
Last year, the EU imported from Egypt about 49,000t of the types of seeds affected by the EU ban decision. Their total value was more than 56m.
Most imports of seeds for sprouting come from India and China.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the UK Food Standardards Agency (FSA) told "We are meeting with industry representatives today to discuss how this (latest EU decision) affects the UK."
German importer
One UK company has been linked to the outbreak in France near Bordeaux after receiving the implicated fenugreek seeds via the German importer of the affected batch, according to FSA.
Alison Gleadle, FSA director of food safety, said: "Samples of the implicated seeds from the company are currently being tested for E. coli O104:H4. However, the EFSA report emphasises that test results will not give the whole picture. Distribution records and epidemiological evidence must also be considered before the source of the outbreaks is confirmed."
The agency said it is working with seed suppliers and producers of sprouted seeds to evaluate their quality control systems, and will issue guidance to industry shortly.

A Search Is Under Way for Tainted Sprout Seeds
Source :
By_ WILLIAM NEUMAN(05, July, 2011)
Authorities are frantically trying to trace all of the tainted fenugreek seeds from a large shipment linked to a deadly E. coli outbreak in Europe, saying the product was distributed more widely than previously thought.
In a new report, a large shipment of organic Egyptian fenugreek seeds was distributed to dozens of companies in at least 12 European countries, the European Food Safety Authority said on Tuesday. Investigators were still trying to determine if additional countries had received some of the seeds.
"The trace forward operation is becoming complex and widespread and may take weeks," the report said, referring to efforts to locate the seed shipments.
Investigators are now focusing on a single shipment of more than 16 tons of Egyptian fenugreek seeds that was received by a German importer in December 2009, according to the report.
Authorities say that sprouts grown from the seed, often used in salads, were responsible for two major outbreaks of a rare strain of E. coli bacteria, known as O104:H4.
The first outbreak, which began in Germany in May, has caused 49 deaths and more than 4,100 illnesses. A second outbreak in June sickened about 16 people in the Bordeaux area of France.
The new report showed that only a fraction of the suspect shipment, about 165 pounds, was sold to the German sprout grower whose sprout mixes authorities think caused the devastating outbreak there.
About 880 pounds were sent to a British company linked to the illnesses in France. The company, previously identified as Thompson & Morgan, repackaged the seeds into 50-gram packets and sold them through a French garden supply chain.
Investigators are still scrambling to figure out where the rest of the seeds were sent.
The report said that more than 11 tons of the seeds were sold to a German distributor that resold them to 54 companies in Germany and 16 companies in 11 other European countries.
The report said the original importer also sold some seeds to several companies in Germany, one in Austria and one in Spain.
The report said that an unknown quantity of the seeds was still in company supply chains, although much of it may already have been used.
The German importer received three other shipments of fenugreek seeds from the same Egyptian supplier since 2008. A previous report said that one of those shipments, in 2010, was suspected as a source of the German outbreak, but the 2009 shipment alone is now thought to be the cause of both outbreaks.

Laser a fast friend of food safety
Source :
By_ Emil Venere (06, July, 2011)
Researchers are developing new technologies that combine a laser and electric fields to manipulate fluids and tiny particles such as bacteria, viruses and DNA for a range of potential applications, from drug manufacturing to food safety.
The technologies could bring innovative sensors and analytical devices for "lab-on-a-chip" applications, or miniature instruments that perform measurements normally requiring large laboratory equipment, said Steven T. Wereley, a Purdue University professor of mechanical engineering.
The method, called "hybrid optoelectric manipulation in microfluidics," is a potential new tool for applications including medical diagnostics, testing food and water, crime-scene forensics, and pharmaceutical manufacturing.
"This is a cutting-edge technology that has developed over the last decade from research at a handful of universities," said Aloke Kumar, a Wigner Fellow and staff member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
He is lead author of an article about the technology featured on the cover of the July 7 issue of Lab on a Chipmagazine, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry. The article also has been flagged by the publication as a "HOT Article" and has been made free to access at
The article is written by Wereley; Kumar; Stuart J. Williams, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Louisville; Han-Sheng Chuang, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at National Cheng Kung University; and Nicolas G. Green, a researcher at the University of Southampton.
"A very important aspect is that we have achieved an integration of technologies that enables manipulation across a very wide length scale spectrum," Kumar said. "This enables us to manipulate not only big-sized objects like droplets but also tiny DNA molecules inside droplets by using one combined technique. This can greatly enhance efficiency of lab-on-a-chip sensors."
Kumar, Williams and Chuang are past Purdue doctoral students who worked with Wereley. Much of the research has been based at the Birck Nanotechnology Center at Purdue's Discovery Park.
The technologies are ready for some applications, including medical diagnostics and environmental samples, Williams said.
"There are two main thrusts in applications," he said. "The first is micro- and nanomanufacturing and the second is lab-on-a-chip sensors. The latter has demonstrated biologically relevant applications in the past couple of years, and its expansion in this field is immediate and ongoing."
The technology works by first using a red laser to position a droplet on a platform specially fabricated at Purdue. Next, a highly focused infrared laser is used to heat the droplets, and then electric fields cause the heated liquid to circulate in a "microfluidic vortex." This vortex is used to isolate specific types of particles in the circulating liquid, like a micro centrifuge. Particle concentrations replicate the size, location and shape of the infrared laser pattern.
"This works very fast," Wereley said. "It takes less than a second for particles to respond and get pulled out of solution."
Systems using the hybrid optoelectric approach can be designed to precisely detect, manipulate and screen certain types of bacteria, including particular strains that render heavy metals less toxic.
"We are shooting for biological applications, such as groundwater remediation," Wereley said. "Even within the same strain of bacteria some are good at the task and some are not, and this technology makes it possible to efficiently cull those bacteria from others. The bacteria could be injected into the contaminated ground. You seed the ground with the bacteria, but first you need to find an economical way to separate it."
Purdue researchers also are pursuing the technology for pharmaceutical manufacturing, he said.
"These types of technology are good at being very dynamic, which means you can decide in real time to grab all particles of one size or one type and put them somewhere," Wereley said. "This is important for the field of pharmacy because a number of drugs are manufactured from solid particles suspended in liquid. The particles have to be collected and separated from the liquid."
This process is now done using filters and centrifuges.
"A centrifuge does the same sort of thing but it's global, it creates a force on every particle, whereas this new technology can specifically isolate only certain particles," Wereley said. "We can, say, collect all the particles that are one micron in diameter or get rid of anything bigger than two microns, so you can dynamically select which particles you want to keep."
The technology also may be used as a tool for nanomanufacturing because it shows promise for the assembly of suspended particles, called colloids. The ability to construct objects with colloids makes it possible to create structures with particular mechanical and thermal characteristics to manufacture electronic devices and tiny mechanical parts. The nanomanufacturing applications are at least five years away, he said.
The technology also can be used to learn fundamental electrokinetic forces of molecules and biological structures, which is difficult to do with existing technologies.
"Thus there are very fundamental science applications of these technologies as well," Kumar said.

Federal Funds for Food Pathogen Screening in Danger
Source :
By Robin Wheeler ( 05, Jul, 2011)
Despite growing concerns about E. coli outbreaks in food supplies, the Chicago Tribune reported yesterday that the federal government might eliminate the screening test for the form of E. coli that recently sickened more than 4,000 people and killed more than 40.
Last month, the House moved to stop funding the Microbiological Data Program. For ten years, the program has screened produce for pathogens. The U.S. government can save $4.5 million by eliminating the program, which organizations such as the Produce Marketing Association say are repetitive because other programs might check for pathogens.
MDP is the only program that currently tests for non-O157 strains of E. coli. In the past two years, MDP has issued nineteen recalls of contaminated products.
In the meantime, five kitchen staffers at Camp Lutherhaven on Lake Coeur d'Alene in Idaho have been diagnosed with E. coli. The workers were removed from kitchen service as soon as they were diagnosed. The cause of the infection is still being investigated.
The latest isn't because of E. coli. It's for salmonella. Which, really, is almost as bad as E. coli. Twenty-one people have reported the disease after consuming alfalfa sprouts and "spicy sprouts" from Idaho's Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, LLC. The sprouts were sold in Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, New Jersey and Washington.
E. coli continues to cause problems in Europe. A hospital in Bordeaux is treating several patients for E. coli traced to vegetable sprouts. One elderly patient has died. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in investigating to see if there's a link between this outbreak and the one in Germany last month.

What do Germany and France have in common with Idaho, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Washington? Answer - E. coli
Source :
By_ Bill Marler (04, July, 2011)
E. coli has been having a busy few weeks throughout the world.
With nearly 4,200 Sickened and at least 50 Dead in E. coli O104:H4 Outbreak in Europe (with some ill here in U.S. too), it might be easy to forget what has been happening here. Here is a sampler:
Idaho - five staff workers at Camp Lutherhaven on Lake Coeur d'Alene tested positive for E. coli this week, but none have required hospitalization. Preliminary tests identified the bacteria in the five staff workers as Shiga Toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) Type 1. Further tests on one specimen indicate that it's 026, the second most common type of STEC in Idaho.
Alabama - The Alabama Department of Public Health says the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Lee County has climbed to 15 illnesses with thirteen children and two adults now ill. Each of the victims either played in the Splash Park or swam in the pool at the Opelika SportsPlex and Aquatic Center between June 4 and June 22, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health, and all have severe gastrointestinal illness.
Tennessee and Virginia - Reporter Mac McLean has been all over this story for weeks, but still has not found the cause of the E. coli outbreak that has sickened 17 and killed one. According to Mac, health officials in Northeast Tennessee and Western Virginia report that 18 people came down with a potentially fatal Escherichia coli infection between May 8 and June 2. Officials with the Virginia Department of Health have found some "similarities" between a potentially fatal strain of Escherichia coli bacteria that's sickened Western Virginia residents over the past six weeks and one that's affected people in Northeast Tennessee. "We are seeing some similarities in the strains from Virginia and Tennessee," VDH spokesman Robert Parker said in an e-mail to the Bristol Herald Courier. "But nothing to link them in terms of transmission no common source has been identified."
Texas - Sixteen cases of E. coli O157:H7 in the Killeen, Texas, area have been traced to food served at a Jason's Deli there in April, according to Bell County health officials. In addition to five confirmed cases there are 11 probable cases, said Christine Mann, spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Oklahoma - The Tulsa City-County Health Department said three children have been sickened by E. coli bacteria. Agency spokeswoman Melanie Christian said the department's lab confirmed the cases in the children, who are under 10 years old. Christian said two of the children were hospitalized but one has gone home.
Louisiana - The Monroe Louisiana Newstar reports that three Ouachita Christian School students were admitted to local hospitals late last week afflicted with a strain of E. coli, according to health officials. Dr. Shelley Jones, Region 8 director of the Department of Health and Hospitals, said Tuesday the students were reportedly attending an end-of-the-year party at a farm. She said the affected students were playing in a mud pit.
Washington - An animal farm located in Everett, Washington has been implicated in a recent outbreak of E. coli among 2 children and 2 adults who recently visited the farm. The Seattle Times reports that the exact strain of E. coli has not yet been determined. The farm is run by the Everett park department and over 25,000 people visit it each year, where people can come into contact with a variety of animals, including sheep, calves, piglets, chickens, goats, ducks, a horse, a pony and rabbits.

Wal-Mart executive encourages companies to develop 'food safety culture'
Source :
Kansas State University Extension (July 1, 2011)
Frank Yiannas is a man with food safety on his mind, including ways to improve the safety of the food we eat.
"If you did food safety this year the way you did it last year, you're going to lose," said Yiannas, who is vice president of food safety for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. In his keynote address at the 2011 American Meat Science Association Reciprocal Meat Conference recently, he said that food processors should go beyond traditional approaches to managing risk and work to develop a culture of food safety.
The conference was hosted by Kansas State University and co-sponsored by Cargill.
Speaking to the audience of university and industry meat scientists and students, Yiannas said that processors must go beyond the traditional strategies based on training, inspection and microbiological testing, which the industry has employed for years. While those strategies have improved over time, it's important for companies to take new approaches.
"HACCP is a step in the right direction, but it's not the final destination," said Yiannas of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point system that companies use in their food safety programs. He cited data showing that in cases of food-borne illness from 1993-1997, 37 percent were due to improper holding temperatures, 11 percent were due to inadequate cooking, and 19 percent were due to poor hygiene, noting that all of those cases were linked to human behavior.
"Scientists often think of behavior as the soft stuff (unlike microbiology), but the soft stuff is the hard stuff," he said, adding that scientists tend to focus on the science when they should also be looking at the organizational structure of a company.
"Knowledge does not equal behavior change," he added.
"Food safety culture is a choice," Yiannas said. The companies who are good at it:
o Create food safety expectations;
o Educate and train their food employees;
o Communicate food safety messages frequently;
o Establish food safety goals and measurements; and
o Have consequences, including rewards, for food safety behaviors.
"It's a simple thing but recognizing people for doing the right thing is effective," he said.
Yiannas told the story of inviting country singer Trace Adkins to speak to Wal-Mart employees on a personal level about his daughter's food allergies, adding that sometimes star power and personal stories have more impact than when employees hear the information from their colleagues or company officials.

USDA's new food safety campaign: it's all about YOU
Source :
By Marion Nestle( July 2, 2011)
Tuesday, USDA announced its new Food Safe Families campaign to get you to pay attention to food safety procedures in your kitchen. These, as always, are:
Clean: Clean kitchen surfaces, utensils, and hands with soap and water while preparing food.
Separate: Separate raw meats from other foods by using different cutting boards.
Cook: Cook foods to the right temperature by using a food thermometer.
Chill: Chill raw and prepared foods promptly.
The media campaign, which reportedly cost $2 million, comes with a graphic that can't be all that expensive:

So what is the $2 million for? According to Food Chemical News (June 28):
The campaign, which will feature public service announcements in English and Spanish, centers on "humorous over-the-top depictions of the four key safe food handling behaviors"....The campaign will include ads on television, radio, print and websites, along with an integrated social media program.
As it happens, a reader sent me the preliminary "concept" version of this campaign (thank you kind reader). Trust me, this campaign is worth a look, and Food Safety News has some of the videos.
Here's my favorite concept:
Yes, this is a baby pig in a sauna. Humorous maybe, but how will it convince anyone to clean up the kitchen?
Two other points:
None of the concepts seem to have anything to do with food.
All of them are about your responsibility for food safety.
But the big national outbreaks we've been experiencing lately are from foods that are already contaminated by the time they get to you. Following food safety procedures makes good sense, but that's not where the problem lies. They would not help you much with contaminated raw sprouts, for example, unless you cook them (not a bad idea these days).
To stop food safety problems at their source, we need a functional food safety system. This means rules that require all producers to follow food safety procedures and a government with the authority and resources to make sure they do.
Will we ever get a food safety system like this? And how bad will things have to get before we do?

Idaho company recalls alfalfa sprouts, citing salmonella threat
Source :
By the CNN Wire Staff (04, July, 2011)
A potential salmonella outbreak has prompted a multi-state recall of sprouts, an Idaho food company announced Friday.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration made a formal recall request Monday, urging on its website that people not eat alfalfa or spicy sprouts from Evergreen Fresh Sprouts. The federal agency noted that the salmonella Enteritidis pathogen is different from the E. coli bacteria that has been blamed for at least 47 deaths, and widespread recalls, in Europe.
The next day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on its website there had been 21 reported cases of salmonella tied to the sprouts, which are also labeled as Evergreen Produce. Nine of those were in Washington state, seven in Montana, three in Idaho, one in North Dakota and one in New Jersey.
Three of those people have been hospitalized, and there have been no deaths, according to the CDC.
Those affected, ranging in age from 12 years old to 77 years old, fell ill between April 12 and June 7. A vast majority, 77%, of those who became sick were female, according to the CDC.
The recalled sprouts were delivered to four distributors and three retail stores in Idaho and Washington state, Evergreen said in its press release Friday. They include 4-ounce, 16-ounce and 5-pound bags of alfalfa sprouts, plus 4-ounce and 16-ounce bags of spicy sprouts. The expiration dates for all the affected products are between June 22 and July 14.
Evergreen said that authorities determined that all those who fell ill with the salmonella had eaten its sprouts. But the Moyie Springs company said that tests on its products are still pending, and no products have come back positive yet.
According to its website, Evergreen has been family owned and operated since 1990. Besides vegetables, it also distributes fruits, dairy items, pastas and a host of other food products.

Clarified - trouble sprouts up as 20 are sickened with Salmonella
Source :
By_Kat Kinsman (27, Jun, 2011)
In cooking, the process of clarification entails straining out extraneous muck from liquids so that they might be pure, clear and ideal for consumption. With this series on food terminology and issues we're attempting to do the same.
Another day, another Food and Drug Administration warning - and for what seems to be the millionth time in the past few months (okay - at least the fourth this year), the culprit is sprouts.
In a press release issued on Monday, the agency advised consumers not to eat Evergreen Produce brand alfalfa sprouts and spicy sprouts. The release states that these sprouts are possibly linked to 20 reported cases, including one hospitalization, of Salmonella Enteritidis in Idaho, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota and Washington State.
While the pathogen associated with this outbreak is different from the pathogen associated with the outbreak in Europe, the FDA says it is imperative that elderly, infants and those with impaired immune systems not consume the sprouts, as they are are more likely to have a severe illness from Salmonella infection.
E. coli strain behind German deaths apparently resurfaces in France
Even people with uncompromised immune systems are strongly cautioned to discard any Evergreen Produce sprouts in sealed containers so no other humans, pets or wild animals can consume them and become infected. Thoroughly cooking sprouts can reduce the chance of foodborne illness, says the FDA, but be careful - since 1996, there have been at least 30 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with different types of raw and, yes, lightly cooked sprouts.
But aren't sprouts supposed to be - healthy? They're the stuff of health food cafes and virtuous hummus pockets. They're supposed to add beneficial, low-calorie crunch to salads and sandwiches, not cause you to, per the FDA press release, "develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection" or possibly become severely ill and die.
All about digestive health
Unfortunately, according to a CBC-commissioned study led by Kevin Allen, a microbiology professor at the University of British Columbia, the warm, moist conditions that are conducive to growing bumper crops of sprouts are also an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. In his test of 44 samples of pre-packaged sprouts (as well as 48 of leafy greens and 58 of various 58 herbs), "Over 78% of sprouts had levels of microorganisms too numerous to count. In addition, one sample was contaminated with generic E. coli and nearly all samples had enterococci detected, including E. faecalis and E. faecium."
The report continues, "Although high levels of microorganisms in sprouts were expected, the extensive detection of enterococci and potential significance are not well documented in scientific literature. Enterococcus spp. are inherently resistant to some antibiotics, and are known for their ability to acquire and subsequently disseminate antibiotic resistance genes to other bacteria. As such, the observed high levels of contamination in sprouts (93%), as well as herbs (79%) and spinach (50%), warrants further investigation, and may present an issue in the dissemination of antimicrobial resistance through foodborne means."
So how does that bacteria get there in the first place? Attorney and food safety advocate Bill Marler tells Eatocracy that the most likely factors are either from contamination at the seed level as plants grow out in manure-enriched fields and spread contamination across crops, or in the sprouting facilities themselves.
In one case investigated from the end of 2010 through the early months of 2011 after an outbreak that sickened 140 people with Salmonella at Jimmy John's sandwich shop chain, workers at the Tiny Greens Organic Farm in Urbana, Illinois were found to have tracked compost pile runoff from the front of the facility inside to the production area. This was far from the only hygiene violation at the facility and the FDA issued a warning letter informing the public of the danger.
When salmonella changes your life
Information, Marler asserts, is indeed the public's best defense against illness. "We've got to a point where we need to give consumers far more warning," he says. "The counterargument to risk is benefit - and that's where consumers get confused. There's evidence that broccoli sprouts have anti-cancer qualities. There are other cancer preventatives that don't require broccoli sprouts. Yes, raw milk contains pro-biotics, but so does yogurt."
The other E. coli threat? Raw milk
While Marler advocates personal responsibility on the consumer end, saying, "Knowing that some of these foods can cause harm, people must be vigilant about how and where they get them and how they use them," he also believes that producers must keep the public safe and their facilities hygenic.
"Sprouters need to be held accountable for not using science that they know works, to protect consumers," he says, referring to chemical sprays that have been used effectively to decontaminate seeds and stop the spread of harmful bacteria.
Evergreen Produce, while not currently producing sprouts, has yet to issue a recall for any of its products.

Lawmakers expose China's ongoing food safety flaws
Source :
By_ Rory Harrington (01, Jul, 2011)
Unscrupulous food processors, corrupt officials, incomplete regulations and ignorance of the laws are some of the ongoing defects in China's food safety system, said a report by the country's legislators this week.
The members of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress delivered a damning assessment of Chinese food safety after carrying out a three-month probe into the sector.
Lu Yongxiang, vice chairman of the committee, said that while officials have made progress in improving the food safety regime, the investigation had found a string of persistent problems, Chinese state media said.
He added that there remained a number of food manufacturers that continued to flout regulations and behave in an "underhand and dishonest fashion".
A failure of some local government agencies to carryout their duties properly in curtailing illegal practices is also an issue.
A lack of awareness of new regulation and safety practices among some industry players was still a problem, said Lu, who called on authorities to publicise new laws more effectively.
The report - compiled after an investigation carried out between March and May 2011 - raised concerns about the legal framework for food safety - with the current system of regulations and standards described as incomplete.
It also outlined loopholes in supervisory systems and said there was even a shortage of inspection equipment for officials.
Stricter enforcement
The lawmakers tabled a raft of suggestions to improve the system, following the introduction of China's food safety law two years ago.
They called on the State Council to be stricter in ensuring that local agencies performed their duties properly and co-ordinate duties more effectively among the various bodies.
More resources for equipment and personnel were also needed, said the document. The public and media should be encouraged to report food outbreaks more quickly.
Illegal cooking oil
A separate report in the media claims to have uncovered a common practice in China that sees up to 100 tonnes of illegal and sub-standard cooking oil, reprocessed and put back into the food chain on a daily basis.
The so-called gutter or swill oil - waste animal fat or cooking oil that has already been used repeatedly - is being treated in large-scale plants and resold to retail outlets or food processors, said the Beijing Times.
The advanced equipment used by the rogue oil processors makes it almost impossible to detect, said the paper as it claimed to have discovered widespread distribution across the Beijing, Hebei and Tianjin provinces.
The used or waste oil is blended and bleached in huge towers before being repackaged for sale.

Four French, including baby in a coma, linked to E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak in Lilie
Source :
By_ Bill Marler (06, July, 2011)
According to French news sources, four new patients, including a baby in a coma, were admitted between Monday and Tuesday at University Hospital of Lille, according to the Regional Agency health (ARS). The baby, aged 20 to 30 months, was admitted to the ICU of the hospital on a ventilator and dialysis, said the ARS Nord / Pas-de-Calais. Three other cases, including two belonging to the same family, were also reported Monday and Tuesday.
Previously, between June 14 and July 1, nine cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in children aged 12 months to 8 years who had consumed frozen hamburgers ("Steaks country" distributed by the Lidl brand) in the days before the symptoms were reported by the University Hospital of Lille, according to ARS. Among the first cases, a child aged 2 years and a native of the Oise is still in a coma, mechanical ventilation, according to ARS.
Eight of these cases hospitalized with bloody diarrhea and renal failure had the same strain - E. coli O157:H7.

With a 5 year shelf life, dangerous fenugreek seeds may still be in the international marketplace
Source :
By_ Drew Falkenstein (06, July, 2011)
This much is certain about the international sprout E. coli outbreaks that have ravaged, mostly, Germany and France in past months: thousands ill, tens of millions have been spent on the medical and public health response, and all have been linked to fenugreek sprout seeds from Egypt. The unsettling uncertainty, though, is whether the contaminated fenugreek seeds will rear their lethal heads again, and where.
William Neuman's article this morning in the New York Times, titled "Search is Underway for Tainted Sprout Seeds," details the international seed hunt. Investigators are focused on a particular shipment of 16,000 pounds of seed that occurred in 2009, in which dozens of companies in at least 12 European countries acquired seeds, apparently, from the same lot of seed now determined to have been the source of the separate E. coli O104:H4 outbreaks in Germany and France.
Since the suspect seeds were distributed approximately 2 years ago, there is a chance that most are no longer in the marketplace. Question, though, how many O104:H4 illnesses internationally since then are attributable to the seeds, when not enough epidemiological data existed to finger them? But fenugreek seeds have a very long shelf life--as many as five years, and apparently the seeds can be frozen.
Pray for good record-keeping and traceability, although that may or may not be a realistic expectation. In 2004, The California Food and Drug Branch audited most of the sprout producing businesses in California and found that as many as 30 percent lacked the ability to fully trace finished product "from farm to fork." Have we seen the last E. coli O104:H4 illness linked to these seeds?

Investigation Announcement: Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella Enteritidis Infections Linked to Alfalfa Sprouts and Spicy Sprouts
Source :
By_CDC(28, June, 2011)
CDC is collaborating with public health officials in many states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections linked to alfalfa sprouts and spicy sprouts. There is no connection between this Salmonella outbreak and the European E. coli O104:H4 outbreak. Investigators are using DNA analysis of Salmonella bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing to identify cases of illness that may be part of this outbreak.
As of June 27, 2011, a total of 21 persons with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis have been reported from 5 states: Idaho (3), Montana (7), North Dakota (1), New Jersey (1) and Washington (9). Among persons for whom information is available, illnesses began between April 12 and June 7, 2011. Ill persons range in age from 12 years to 77 years old, with a median age of 35 years old. Seventy-one percent are female. Among the 10 ill persons with available information, 3 (30%) persons have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
The outbreak can be visually described with a chart showing the number of people who became ill each day. This chart is called an epidemic curve or epi curve. Illnesses that occurred after June 9, 2011, might not be reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 3 weeks. For more information, please see Salmonella Outbreak Investigations: Timeline for Reporting Cases.
Investigation of the Outbreak
Collaborative investigative efforts of local, state, and federal public health and regulatory agencies have linked this outbreak to Evergreen Produce brand alfalfa sprouts and spicy sprouts. The sprouts were distributed to various customers in Idaho, Montana, Washington State, and possibly to retailers in neighboring states. CDC, FDA, and state and local public health partners are continuing surveillance to identify new cases and trace potentially contaminated products. CDC will continue to update the public on the progress of this investigation as information becomes available.
Clinical Features/Signs and Symptoms
Most persons infected with Salmonella bacteria develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. The elderly, infants and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness from Salmonella infection. More general information about Salmonella can be found here.
Sprouts and Foodborne Illness
Since 1996, there have been at least 30 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with different types of raw and lightly cooked sprouts. Most of these outbreaks were caused by Salmonella and E. coli infections.
Advice to Consumers and People who Sell or Serve Food
Contaminated product may still be in grocery stores and in consumers' homes. The alfalfa sprouts and spicy sprouts are sold in plastic bags labeled "Evergreen Produce" or "Evergreen Produce Inc." The alfalfa sprouts are packaged in 4-ounce and 16-ounce plastic bags with pre-printed labels. They are also packaged in 1-pound and 5-pound plastic bags with stick-on labels. The spicy sprouts are packaged in 4-ounce plastic bags with pre-printed labels and 1-pound plastic bags with stick-on labels.
Customers who purchased this product should return it to the place of purchase for a refund or dispose the sprouts in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can. This will prevent people or animals from eating them.
Persons who think they might have become ill from eating potentially contaminated sprouts should consult their health care providers.
Children, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind (including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts).
Cook sprouts thoroughly to reduce the risk of illness. Cooking thoroughly kills the harmful bacteria.
Request that raw sprouts not be added to your food. If you purchase a sandwich or salad at a restaurant or delicatessen, check to make sure that raw sprouts have not been added.
More information about illnesses associated with sprouts can be found on .

UK company confirms sprouting seeds came from Egypt
Source :
By_ Nichola Watson (01, Jul , 2011)
UK company Thompson & Morgan is today still waiting to hear the results of tests on three varieties of sprouting seed.
"We are aware of the joint report from the European Food Safety Authority and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control dated June 29 2011 and released at 15.35 GMT+1."
We note this report states organic fenugreek sprouting seed, originally sourced in Egypt, has been linked to the German and French outbreaks of e coli 0104.
We can confirm that our own supplier sourced this Egyptian seed, which was then supplied to us."
The company also confirms that this sprouting seed was then exclusively supplied into the French garden centre market.
The EFSA/ECDC report referenced above states that there are currently "no positive bacteriological results" that link the organic fenugreek seeds to either the German or French e coli 0104 outbreaks.
The three varieties - Sprouting Seed Organic Fenugreek, Sprouting Seed White Mustard and Sprouting Seed Rocket - are being tested by the Food Standards Agency in the UK as part of an investigation into an outbreak of a new and rare strain of e coli .
Earlier this month, a small number of people fell ill after attending a school fete in the town of Begles, in the Bordeaux area of France, some of whom are believed to have eaten sprouted seeds at the event.
E coli 0104 is the same strain that has affected a number of people in Germany.
Until that outbreak earlier this month, the strain was virtually unheard of, and so tests for it have only been developed in recent weeks.
There are currently only two FSA accredited laboratories in the UK that are able to test for this strain of e coli and samples of sprouting seed supplied to the FSA by Thompson & Morgan are currently being tested at one of these laboratories.

France has its first E. coli death
Source :
By_ NewsCore (02, July, 2011)
FRANCE recorded its first death from the European outbreak of E. coli on Saturday, health officials said.
The 78-year-old female patient died in a Bordeaux hospital, southwestern France, early Saturday, news channel 20minutes reported, citing a hospital statement.
"This patient developed very quickly a severe form of hemolytic uremic syndrome [HUS]," the statement read, referring to the kidney disease complication reported in a quarter of the cases in the current outbreak.
Officials said there was no link with the virulent strain of enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) which has caused around 50 deaths in recent weeks across Europe, the majority in Germany. The source of those infections is believed to have been organic vegetable sprouts, AFP reported.
The source of the E.coli strain which she contracted has not been identified, officials said.
The hospital authorities added that seven other patients currently receiving treatment were in stable condition.
Before the death in France, all but two of the fatalities have so far been in Germany. As well as the US case, a woman died in Sweden shortly after returning from a visit to Germany.
The World Health Organisation said 4,050 infections have been confirmed in 14 European countries, the US and Canada - more than 3,900 of them in Germany

E. coli outbreak may be traced to Egypt seeds
Source :
By_The Associated Press (29, June, 2011)
European food and disease prevention authorities said Wednesday they are investigating whether the E. coli outbreak in Germany and France may be traced back to fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt either in 2009 or last year.
European food and disease prevention authorities said Wednesday they are investigating whether the E. coli outbreak in Germany and France may be traced back to fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt either in 2009 or last year.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Food Safety Authority said in a joint report that "there is still much uncertainty about whether this is truly the common cause of all the infections."
The report said "fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt either in 2009 and/or 2010 are implicated in both outbreaks." Fenugreek seeds are commonly used in the preparation of pickles and curry powders as well as Indian, Ethiopian and Yemeni cuisine.
However, further investigation was necessary, said the report.
The death toll in Europe's E. coli outbreak has risen by three to at least 47, according to German authorities. Germany's disease control center said earlier this week that 46 deaths have now been reported in the country. One person has died in Sweden.
In France, eight case have been reported so far. Seven people have been hospitalized in the Bordeaux region and another person was released.
The report said that a 2009 lot of fenugreek seeds appeared to be implicated in the outbreak in France and a 2010 lot in the German outbreak. But it said this possible link does not explain the case in Sweden, where no consumption of sprouts has been implicated.
Many questions were still unanswered about the source of the E. coli.
A further 119 cases have been reported in a total of 15 other countries. The source has been traced to a vegetable sprout farm in northern Germany.
The World Health Organization said it considers an outbreak in France separate. But it also said that, of the eight French cases, three of them carried the same bacterial strains as in Germany.
The report said the clinical picture of the French cases was similar to that of German cases.

E. coli O26 Infects Idaho Camp Roommates
Source :
By_ Dan Flynn (02, July , 2011)
Fast action and some luck may have contained a rare outbreak of E. coli 026 to a handful of kitchen workers at Idaho's Camp Lutherhaven on Lake Coeur d' Alene.
Health officials suspect the infected were exposed to the O26 serotype of E. coli in their common living quarters, not in the camp's food service.
At this point only five workers who shared kitchen duties and sleeping quarters have tested positive for the Shiga Toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) Type 1 pathogen. Four of the five were food handlers during the start up week of the camp from June 19 to 24.
As soon as they became ill, they were released from duty and allowed to return to their quarters where the five experienced abdominal cramping and diarrhea; one reported bloody diarrhea. Some experienced nausea as well. None experienced complications associated with this type of E.coli.
They have not required hospitalization
"I'm thankful we caught it when we did," said Bob Baker, Camp Lutherhaven executive director. "We've put everything in place to stop this in its tracks."
The camp, located in Idaho's Panhandle, has a staff of 60 to serve about 300 campers.
After a June 27 inspection, the Panhandle Health District reported that the camp kitchen was "far above the standard for cleanliness and excellence in running a kitchen."
The camp immediately intensified hand-washing procedures for everyone and began spritzing a diluted bleach solution on chairs, counters, kitchen equipment, bathrooms, door and drawer handles.
The source of the infection is under investigation.
E. coli fecal contamination spreads through undercooked beef or unpasteurized milk, fruits and vegetables fertilized or irrigated with contaminated water, poor hygiene (especially hands unwashed after using the bathroom) and contaminated lakes, wells and swimming pools.
The camp has remained open.
According to the Health District, guests, campers and staff who were at the site from the end of May have been notified about the symptoms of E.coli and encouraged to see a doctor immediately if they experience symptoms.
While rare, O26 is second only E. coli O157:H7 in prevalence in northern Idaho.
Symptoms of an E.coli infection appear from two to 10 days after exposure. The last staff worker laboratory-confirmed with STEC fell ill on June 24.
To help prevent E.coli STEC infections:
oWash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before preparing or eating food. Wash your hands after contact with animals or their environments (at farms, petting zoos, fairs, even your own backyard).
oCook meats thoroughly. Ground beef and meat that has been needle-tenderized should be cooked to a temperature of at least 160F/70C. It's best to use a thermometer, as color is not a very reliable indicator of "doneness."
oAvoid raw milk, unpasteurized dairy products, and unpasteurized juices (such as fresh apple cider).
oAvoid swallowing water when swimming or playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools, and backyard "kiddie" pools.
oPrevent cross contamination in food preparation areas by thoroughly washing hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat.

International Conference for
Food Safety and Quality

November 8-9, 2011
Holiday Inn Chicago O'Hare Hotel
5615 North Cumberland Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60631

Major Topic: Detection Methods for
Microbiological/Chemical Hazards for Food Safety and Quality


Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Conference Place: Holiday Inn (Conference Room)

7:00 - 8:30 Registration and Breakfast (Juice, Tea, Coffee) and Poster Display
(***Exhibitors displaying time : 7:00-9:00 AM***)

8:40 - 9:00 Opening Announcement

Section A. Importance of Detection Methods for Food Safety and Quality

9:00 - 9:50 - The Importance of detection methods for food safety and quality

Michael Doyle
University of Georgia

9:50 - 10:40 - Advanced Detection methods for food safety and quality

Mansel Griffiths
University of Geulph
Editor of AEM

10:40 - 11:00 -
Coffee Break in Exhibitors' Section

11:00 - 11:50 - Current Foodborne Outbreak and legal issues

William D. Marler, Esq.
MarlerClark attorneys at Law

11:50 - 12:00: Exhibitos Presentation and GROUP PICTURE

12:00 - 1:00: Lunch buffet will be supported (Holiday Inn, Dinning Room)

Section B. Detection methods for Food Allergen Residues

1:00 - 1:50 - Detection of Food Allergen Residues in Processed Foods and Food Processing Facilities

Stephen Taylor
University of Nebraska
Director - Food Allergy Research and Resource Program

1:50 - 2:20 - Rapid Testing for Allergen Control Programs
Presentation by Ryan Waters
Charm Science

2:20 - 2:30 - Break / Visit Companies' Booth

Section C. Molecular/Immunoassay methods for Detection of Microbiological and Chemical hazards

2:30 - 3:10 - Costco Way for Food Safety and Quality

Robin Forgey
Food Safety Quality Manager

3:10 - 3:50 -
Novel biosensor technologies for high throughput screening of pathogens and toxins

A. Bhurnia
Professor, Purdue University


3:50 - 4:10- Innovative detection methods with immunoassay based method
Presented by SDI

4:10 -4:30 - Novel nucleic acid testing methods for industrial applications
Presented by Roka Bioscience

4:30 - 5:30 - Panel Discussion (All key speakers will be joined)

Stan Bailey
2008 IAFP President, bioMerieux

- Adjourn

Wed. November 9, 2011
Conference Place: Holiday Inn (Conference Room)

7:00 - 8:30 Registration and Breakfast (Juice, Tea, Coffee) and Poster Display
8:40 - 9:00 Poster Competition Award

Section D. Importance of conventional/biochemical detection methods for Food safety and Quality

9:00 - 9:40 - Rapid Methods/Automation and a Look into the Future

Daniel Y.C. Fung
Director of Rapid Methods and Automation in Microbiology Workshop (KSU)
Professor, Kansas State University

9:40 - 10:20 -
Rapid Methods and Automation Workshop for 30 years

P.C. Vasavada
Director of Rapid Methods and Automation in Microbiology Workshop (UW)
Professor, University of Wisconsin

10:20 - 10:40 - Coffee Break in Exhibitors' Section

10:40 - 10:50 - Presentation Title from Company presentation


11:00 - 11:30 - New demands for Rapid and Automative Detection Methods for Food Safety

Stan Bailey
2008 IAFP President, bioMerieux


11:30 - 12:00 - Rapid methods for monitoring microbial numbers for food industries

Gregory Siragusa
Senior Principal Scientist
Danisco USA


12:00 -12:20 - Innovative methods for detection of microbiological/chemical hazards for food safety

Dupont Qualicon

12:20 - 1:30
- Lunch buffet will be supported (Holiday Inn, Dinning Room)

Section E. Impacts of Advanced/Conventional Detection methods on Food Industries

1:30 - 2:10 - Impact of detection methods for food industries

Robert Koeritzer
2006 AOAC President

2:10 - 2:30 - Application of several detection methods for Food industries


2:30 - 2:40 - Coffee Break in Exhibitors' Section

2:40 - 3:10 - The importance of detection procedures for food safety by 3rd party

Erdogan Ceylan
Director, Silliker

3:10 - 4:00 Application of Rapid Methods for Food Industries

Paul Hall
IAFP President (2004)
President, AIV Consulting LLC.

4:00 - 4:30 - Attendees' Certificate / Adjourn

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