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12/19
2011
ISSUE:475

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Food Safety Microbiology Short Course
(2days Course, Feb. 2-3, Seattle, WA)
Holiday Inn Express, 19621 INTERNATIONAL BLVD SEATAC, WASHINGTON 98188


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I thought the overall class was Extremely informative and the presentation was easy to follow.
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59 Mississippi Salmonella Illnesses Linked to Corinth Don Julio Mexican Restaurant

Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/59-mississippi-salmonella-illnesses-linked-to-corinth-don-julio-mexican-restaurant/
by Bill Marler (Dec 13, 2011)
The Mississippi State Department of Health says 59 customers and employees of Don Julio Mexican Restaurant in Corinth have tested positive for salmonella. The department says Tuesday that the restaurant remains closed until an improvement plan is approved by health officials. Dr. Jessie R. Taylor, a district health officer, says the source of the salmonella does not appear to be a food producer or supplier. Taylor says it appears to be an isolated problem with the restaurant.
According to news reports, Aaron Canaday says the Salmonella illness hit suddenly and violently. The 13-year old got very sick and didn't know why. "It went from high fever, to can't get away from the bathroom, stomach cramps and just bad."
Doctors diagnosed him with Salmonella poisoning.
Dr. Blakely Fowler says it's hitting the young and elderly particularly hard, because they have the most trouble fighting it off. "It seems that I've seen this all throughout Alcorn County and some into the Selmer area. It's definitely not associated with just one restaurant."
The CEO of Magnolia Regional Health Center says his hospital has treated as many as eleven salmonella victims, but Fowler says there are many more who didn't need hospitalization.

6-30% of Don Julio Salmonella outbreak victims may develop reactive arthritis
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/6-30-of-don-julio-salmonella-outbreak-victims-may-develop-reactive-arthritis/
by Drew Falkenstein (Dec 14, 2011)
The Don Julio's mexican restaurant in Corinth, Mississippi has been linked to at least 59 confirmed Salmonella illnesses, and likely many more unconfirmed illnesses. If the existing medical literature on the subject is accurate, the Don Julio's Salmonella outbreak will cause many of those victims--between 6 and 30%, according to some studies--to develop a condition called reactive arthritis.
Reactive Arthritis refers to a group of arthritic diseases that includes a subset formally known as "Reiter's Syndrome" The old term Reiter's syndrome has fallen into disfavor. In recent medical literature Reiter's Syndrome is simply referred to as Reactive Arthritis which may or may not be accompanied by extraintestinal manifestations.
Reactive Arthritis is the name used to describe an uncommon, but potentially debilitating group of symptoms that follows a gastrointestinal, genitourinary, or viral infection. The most common gastrointestinal bacteria involved are Salmonella, Campylobacter, Yersinia, Shigella, E. coli, and Vibrio. The most common genitourinary causes are sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. The most common viral causes are the common flu, HIV, and Parvovirus.
The specific triad of arthritis, conjunctivitis, and urethritis was known as Reiter's Syndrome. In many patients however only one or two of these symptoms many be present, such as arthritis and urethritis or arthritis and conjunctivitis. (Hill Gaston & Lillicrap, 2003). A reactive arthritis may develop after a person eats food that has been tainted with the pathogenic bacteria. Many patients will get severe bloating, abdominal pain, and watery diarrhea. However in some patients, the initial infection may be milder and not easily recognized, but the reactive arthritis may still occur. Reactive arthritis typically involves inflammation of one joint (monoarthritis) or several joints (oligoarthritis), preferentially affecting those of the lower extremities. The most common joints affected are the knees and ankles. The pattern of joint involvement is usually asymmetric. Inflammation can also be commonly seen at an enthesis (a places where ligaments and tendons attach to bone), especially the front of the knee or the back of the ankle where the Achilles attaches to the calcaneal bone. This is referred to as an enthesopathy. It causes local swelling and pain with walking or exercise.
Salmonella has been the most frequently studied bacteria associated with reactive arthritis. Overall, studies have found rates of Salmonella-associated reactive arthritis to vary between 6 and 30% (Hill Gaston, & Lillicrap, 2003). The frequency of post-infectious Reiter's syndrome specifically, however, has not been well described. In a Washington State study of an outbreak of food-borne Salmonella gastroenteritis, 29% of patients developed arthritis, but only 3% developed the triad of symptoms associated with Reiter's syndrome (Dworkin, et al., 2001). In addition, individuals of Caucasian descent may be more likely than those of Asian descent to develop reactive arthritis (McColl, et al., 2000), and children may be less susceptible than adults to reactive arthritis following infection with Salmonella (Rudwaleit, et al., 2001).

7-31% of Don Julio Salmonella victims likely to develop irritable bowel syndrome
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/7-31-of-don-julio-salmonella-victims-likely-to-develop-irritable-bowel-syndrome/
by Drew Falkenstein (Dec 14, 2011)
The Don Julio's mexican restaurant in Corinth, Mississippi has been linked to at least 59 confirmed Salmonella illnesses, and likely many more unconfirmed illnesses. If the existing medical literature on the subject is accurate, the Don Julio's Salmonella outbreak will cause many of those victims--between 7 and 30%, according to some studies--to develop a condition called post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one disorder in a spectrum of common functional gastrointestinal disorders. Symptoms of IBS can include constipation, diarrhea, alternating diarrhea and constipation, abdominal pain, urgency, bloating, straining at stools, and a sense of incomplete evacuation. The Rome III definition for IBS, which is widely accepted in the medical community, is recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort at least three days per month for at least three months, with at least two of the following symptoms also present: improvement of the pain or discomfort with defecation, a change in frequency of stools, or a change also in the form or appearance of stool.
The observation that the onset of IBS symptoms can be precipitated by gastrointestinal infection dates to the 1950s. Different studies have shown that 7-31% of individuals who have experienced an episode of infectious gastroenteritis, whether bacterial or viral, may develop symptoms of IBS.
One recent meta-analysis (a study that combines results from previously published research studies and analyzes the larger number) of 8 studies published between 1950 and 2005 found a positive association between gastrointestinal infection and the onset of IBS in 6 of the studies. In this meta-analysis alone, the average occurrence of post-infectious IBS was 9.8%, compared to 1.2% in the control group. This equates to a sevenfold increase in the odds of developing IBS after gastrointestinal infection.
There appear to be several risk factors associated with the development of post-infectious IBS, including female sex, severity and duration of the acute infectious illness, whether the person suffered from bloody stools, and psychological profile. As with non-post-infectious IBS, the precise mechanism that produces the symptoms is not specifically known. The pathogens known to precipitate post-infectious IBS symptoms include specifically, though not necessarily exclusively, Enterotoxigenic E. coli strains, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli strains (including E. coli O157:H7), Campylobacter, Shigella, and Salmonella.

Don Julio Salmonella Outbreak - How Serious and How Large?
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/don-julio-salmonella-outbreak---how-serious-and-how-large/
by Bill Marler (Dec 13, 2011)
In the wake of a Salmonella outbreak linked to Corinth, Mississippi-based Don Julio Mexican Restaurant, foodborne illness attorney and food safety expert William Marler is warning consumers in the area of the dangers associated with a Salmonella illness.
"Most people think Salmonella is just a tummy ache and a few hours of discomfort, but the reality can be much worse," said Marler. "In both the short-term and long-term, victims may experience a number of debilitating or even lethal consequences."
Typically derived from ingesting a contaminated food product, Salmonella infections are the second most common foodborne illness in the United States. A person with a Salmonella infection usually exhibits symptoms including abdominal cramps, fever of 100-102 F, headache, muscle pain, and diarrhea that may contain blood. Victims of Salmonella outbreaks may develop long-term complications such as irritable bowel syndrome or reactive arthritis, which can both be debilitating. Salmonella also accounts for 31% of all foodborne illness outbreak-related deaths.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in any given Salmonella outbreak the number of actual victims may be as many as 38.5 times the number of stool-confirmed individuals (59 according to the Mississippi Health Department), which means as many as 2,271 people could have become ill in the Don Julio outbreak.
"Though 2,000 ill in a town the size of Corinth is not likely, the vast undercount that is typical of a Salmonella outbreak indicates there were probably many sickened in this outbreak." Added Marler, "Many of us tough it out when we become ill, but the long term effects of a foodborne illness should not be taken lightly."

First E. Coli Outbreak Linked To Crabmeat
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/12/first-e-coli-outbreak-linked-to-crabmeat/
by News Desk (Dec 13, 2011)
Plymouth, England residents Monday learned about an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that occurred in their city last August when nine people were infected by eating crabmeat.
The Plymouth Herald Monday reported last summer's outbreak was unusual because it marked the first time that E. coli O157:H7 was associated with the consumption of crabmeat.
Monday's report was also the first public disclosure about the nearly four-month-old outbreak that has been under investigation by environmental and health officials since it occurred.
It is not usual for the United Kingdom's food safety officials to take months to disclose information about outbreaks.
Since August, there have been no reports of additional illnesses. Local environmental health officials and the United Kingdom's Health Protection Agency (HPA) are focused an unapproved crab supplier. They apparently suspect a link between it and those who became ill.
"A wider investigation is still ongoing following on from the outbreak, so we are not in a position to give full details but we suspect a link to an unapproved crab supplier," said the South West HPA and the Plymouth City Council in a joint statement.
"Environmental health officers from the council acted swiftly to identify crab meat as a possible source and removed all potentially affected crab meat from food establishments as a precautionary measure.
"The team worked closely with the SW (North) Health Protection Unit to investigate the cases and ensure that GPs in Plymouth and beyond were aware of the issue, if anyone presented with symptoms."
The outbreak investigators also alerted food outlets in Plymouth about the importance of buying food or ingredients only from approved or registered suppliers.
"Food outlets were told to remove any food that may have come from an unapproved supplier," the statement added.
The epidemiological investigation found a statistically significant associated between the illnesses and eating crabmeat away from home.
E coli O157:H7, associated with fecal contamination by cattle or other ruminants, has in recent years been detected in all sorts of food products, including spinach, hazelnuts and strawberries.

Raw milk activist splashes health authorities with lawsuit
Source : http://www.vancouversun.com/health/
By Randy Shore(Dec 15, 2011)
Raw milk activist Gordon Watson has filed a civil lawsuit against the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health authorities and their officers, alleging they exceeded their authority by acting to shut down the Home on the Range dairy in Chilliwack.
"The main thing is to make civil servants accountable," said Watson, a founder of the dairy now operating as Our Cows.
He alleges in the suit filed this week that the health authorities acted against the dairy with no evidence that it was a threat to public health, destroyed his property (the milk) and acted beyond their authority. Watson maintains that because the products of the dairy are not offered for sale to the public, public health statutes do not apply. The raw milk dairy is a cooperative farm that produces unpasteurized milk and dairy products for the families that own shares in the cow herd.It is legal in B.C. for farmers to produce raw milk for their own use. Watson argues that cow-share members are the owners of the herd and can legally use the products.
No statement of defence has yet been filed, but a Fraser Health spokesman said in an interview Thursday that a health authority inspection of the farm in 2008 found raw milk was being packaged for distribution.
Roy Thorpe-Dorward said Fraser Health served the dairy's operators with a cease-and-desist order, ordering them to stop producing and distributing raw milk products and alleging the operators were violating health hazards regulations of the provincial health act. Fraser Health later obtained an injunction from the B.C. Supreme Court to enforce the order.
In granting the injunction, Justice Miriam Gropper said the dairy breached the Public Health Act and that the law prohibits anyone from willingly creating a health hazard. Watson and interim dairy manager Michael Schmidt have been charged with contempt of court for their role in continuing operations at the dairy. A trial is scheduled for April 2012. Watson said he is planning to open a new cow-share dairy in Pitt Meadows and has obtained two Guernsey cows in the United States.
Raw milk advocates say that pasteurizing milk destroys enzymes and reduces milk's nutritional value. Health authorities maintain that raw milk may cause illness due to microbial contamination, especially E. coli and campylobacter.
The Chilliwack dairy continues to operate, but now labels its products for cosmetic use only in an attempt to sidestep regulations on food products.
Alice Jongerdon, manager of the Home on the Range Dairy, resigned after the original injunction was granted to avoid a contempt-of-court charge and has mounted a constitutional challenge to the court order that is due to be heard by the court in December 2012.
The province's prohibition against raw milk infringes the right to nutritional choice under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, according to Jongerdon's lawyer, Jason Gratl.

California regulators frame Organic Pastures and force raw milk shut down over fabricated E. Coli scare
Source : http://www.naturalnews.com/034422_Organic_Pastures_California_Ecoli.html
By Ethan A. Huff (Dec 16, 2011)
It has been nearly a month since the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) swooped in like vultures on Organic Pastures Dairy in Fresno, Calif., and demanded that the farm recall and stop selling all of its raw milk products immediately and indefinitely. Five children in four nearby counties had developed E. Coli, and officials automatically blamed it on the farm's raw milk without so much as a shred of evidence proving this to be true. Nearly a month later, the state's own tests have now determined that Organic Pastures raw milk was not the culprit.
USA Today reported back on November 20, 2011, that the five children were all infected with the O157:H7 strain of E. Coli, which is believed to be contracted through food that has been contaminated with tainted fecal matter. Since all of the children's families had allegedly purchased Organic Pastures raw milk at some point, authorities automatically blamed those products for the outbreak, and immediately ordered a full recall and quarantine of every product the company produces.
This unsubstantiated, knee-jerk reaction on behalf of the State of California is hardly surprising, as both it and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been on a crusade to destroy raw milk for decades. But what might be surprising to some is how easily these government agencies were able to target Organic Pastures without first providing a single, credible piece of evidence linking the dairy's milk to the outbreak.
Organic Pastures employs a rigorous food safety protocol called "RAMP" (Risk Analysis & Management Program) that "voluntarily goes far beyond what is required by the CA DHS (California Department of Health Services), USDA (US Department of Agriculture), FDA or CDFA to assure that [their] raw milk is delicious and very safe." If you review the document outlining the dairy's step-by-step safety process for yourself, you will see that it is near-impossible for Organic Pastures dairy products to become tainted with E. Coli, let alone make it out the door to customers if it somehow ever does (http://www.organicpastures.com/pdfs...).
But none of this matters to state regulators, which arbitrarily and immediately shut down Organic Pastures dairy before even testing the milk and verifying whether or not it was tainted. So for nearly a month now, Organic Pastures has had to sit and wait for these tests, which should have been conducted before any type of recall or quarantine, to be conducted -- and all results, of course, have turned up negative for E. Coli (http://organicpastures.com/pdfs/Rec...).
Government assault against Organic Pastures an act of domestic terrorism
The government's reactionary approach to "food safety" issues involving raw milk are neither scientific nor rational. One would think that, in order to declare a food product unsafe, it might be a good idea to test it first. But when raw milk is involved, regulators always assume the worst, which typically results in a bout of hysterical and overbearing tyranny against the parties involved.
What the CDFA has done to Organic Pastures is nothing short of domestic terrorism. There was never any evidence that Organic Pastures milk products were in any way unsafe or tainted, and yet authorities appear to be doing everything in their power to keep the company from resuming production, which could eventually put it out of business.
"This is yet another example of the government engaging in outrageous acts of economic terrorism against farmers and food producers," commented Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, on the matter.
To follow the ongoing issue as it progresses, visit: http://organicpastures.com/

FDA faulted over state inspections
Source : http://blog.usfoodsafety.com/2011/12/15/fda-faulted-over-state-inspections/
by Doug Powell (Dec 15, 2011)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is relying more often on states to inspect food plants but is failing to properly monitor those state inspections or follow through on their findings, the Department of Health and Human Services watchdog has concluded.
In a report released Wednesday, the department's inspector general found that a lack of resources is forcing the FDA to lean more heavily on its counterparts at the state level to inspect plants responsible for everything from packing to processing foods.
More than half the agency's inspections were done by state officials in fiscal 2009, up from 42 percent four years earlier, according to the report. If these inspections are not done properly, they can expose consumers to sometimes life-threatening illnesses.
A deadly salmonella outbreak linked to a Georgia peanut processing plant in 2009 occurred after the plant had been inspected several times by state officials working on the FDA's behalf.
Wednesday's report confirms several weaknesses in that relationship, almost all of which the FDA acknowledged were indeed problems. "The report documents glitches we're aware of. .?.?. These are things we are working on," said Mike Taylor, the FDA's deputy commissioner for foods.
The report found that the FDA has failed to ensure that the states have completed the number of inspections assigned to them. Of the 41 states the FDA was working with in 2009, eight did not complete 10 percent of the 2,170 inspections they were responsible for that year. The agency paid for 130 of the inspections that were not done.
The report did not specify how much was paid in those instances. But it did state that the FDA spent more than $8 million for state contract inspections in fiscal 2009.
The FDA also did not do its part in monitoring the inspections as required by law, according to the report.
When audits were conducted, the most common problem cited had to do with the state inspectors' inability to identify violations. At least 32 percent of the 419 inspectors audited had at least one deficiency. The report cited instances in which inspectors failed to note evidence of rodents or a leaky roof above exposed food.
Even when inspectors noted food safety violations, FDA officials who reviewed the inspectors' reports did not properly classify all of them, the report said.
Officials responsible for 11 states said they did not classify some incidents as serious and in need of official action because they thought they were not allowed to, the report said.
Officials in another 11 states said that FDA was not always notified when actions were taken and therefore could not determine if the violations were properly addressed.


HSE probes outbreak of 'deadly' E coli strain
Source : http://www.independent.ie/national-news/hse-probes-outbreak-of-deadly-e-coli-strain-2965956.html
By Greg Harkin(Dec 16 2011)
THE HSE says it is investigating the outbreak of a potentially deadly strain of E coli.
A child is understood to be among a number of people who have suffered from severe vomiting and diarrhoea.
It's understood most of the cases are centred around Inch Island, around seven miles from Buncrana in Co Donegal.
The illness is believed to be the 0157 strain, which has been associated with eating undercooked, contaminated beef, swimming in or drinking contaminated water, or eating contaminated vegetables.
However, the public water supply has been given the all-clear by the authorities.
In extreme cases, it can lead to liver failure in young children and the elderly.
The HSE has confirmed there has been an outbreak of E coli but won't say how many people are affected because of patient confidentiality. The source of the illness has not been traced.
It says the Department of Public Health are investigating the outbreak but all tests taken so far have ruled out the public water supply as the root of the problem.
"In the majority of cases, this is a self-limiting illness, meaning that the patients get better by themselves without further treatment," said a spokeswoman for HSE West.
"The Department of Public Health has carried out screening of close contacts, as is usual practice, and have found a small number of people with the bacteria who are not showing any symptoms."
Donegal County Council area manager, Pat Gillespie, said: "The outcome of our testing shows that any E coli sickness has not been caused by the water."

Cancer Patients, Pregnant Woman at High Risk for Listeriosis
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/12/cancer-patients-pregnant-woman-at-high-risk-for-listeriosis/
By Ross Anderson( Dec 15, 2011)
Pregnant women and people with leukemia and several other types of cancer are as much as 1,000 times more susceptible to Listeria infections, French researchers report.
Doctors at the French Institute for Public Health Surveillance (Institut de Veille Sanitaire) summarized the results of a major study of French listeriosis patients, concluding that pregnant women and cancer patients are far more at risk than the population at large. Based on their review of nearly 2,000 listeria cases, leukemia patients were 1,000 times more likely to contract the disease, researchers said.
As a result, researchers concluded that, to prevent Listeria outbreaks, health officials should target their efforts on populations at higher risk - especially pregnant women and cancer patients. In particular, at-risk people should avoid foods that are susceptible to Listeria.
The study incorporated 1,959 listeria cases in France from 2001 to 2008. In addition to the leukemia patients, it identified higher risks for people living with liver cancer, multiple myeloma, and cancers of the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, lung and brain. Pregnant women and people who had undergone organ transplants also faced risks ranging from 100 to 1,000 times greater than the population at large.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people at higher risk for Listeria avoid the following foods:
-- Hot dogs, luncheon meats, cold cuts, other deli meats (such as bologna), or fermented or dry sausages unless they are first heated to an internal temperature of 165F or until steaming hot just before serving. Also avoid refrigerated p?t? or meat spreads.
-- Soft cheese such as feta, queso blanco, queso fresco, brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or panela (queso panela) unless it is labeled as made with pasteurized milk.
-- Refrigerated smoked seafood such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, and mackerel (often labeled as nova-style, lox, kippered, smoked, or jerky) unless it is contained in a cooked dish, such as a casserole, or unless it is a canned or shelf-stable product.
Until this year, Listeria had not been detected in cantaloupes -- then Listeria-contaminated melons sickened 146, killing 30 and causing at least one miscarriage. The FDA recommends washing one's hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling any whole melon, such as cantaloupe, watermelon, or honeydew. Scrub the surface of melons with a clean produce brush under running water and dry them with a clean cloth or paper towel before cutting. Be sure that your scrub brush is sanitized after each use, to avoid transferring bacteria between melons.
Promptly consume cut melon or refrigerate promptly. Keep cut melon refrigerated at, or less than 40 degrees F (32-34 degrees F is best), for no more than 7 days. Discard cut melons left at room temperature for more than 4 hours.

Organic Farm Dairy about to lose its Organic Certification
Source : http://blog.usfoodsafety.com/2011/12/15/organic-farm-dairy-about-to-lose-its-organic-certification/
By foodsafeguru( Dec 15, 2011)
An industrial-scale organic dairy, located south of Phoenix in the desert Southwest, is poised to lose its USDA organic certification. The enforcement action at Shamrock Farms is the result of a USDA investigation into organic livestock management practices that was triggered by a formal complaint from The Cornucopia Institute.
Shamrock operates a massive dairy that was milking approximately 16,000 cows at the time of an inspection by Cornucopia staff in 2008. Between 700 and 1,100 of the cows at the split operation were in the organic milk herd; the remainder were part of a conventional dairy that is part of the same sprawling complex. Shamrock is Arizona's first-ever certified organic dairy.
"We found inadequate, overgrazed pasture adjacent to their milking facility, and we were told by Shamrock employees that the confined cows had not been out in weeks" said Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst for Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute, an organic industry watchdog.
Federal organic regulations require that cows be grazed, and the practice has been a contentious issue in the organic arena. A number of factory-scale dairies - some milking thousands of cows each - have been spotlighted by Cornucopia's investigations for skirting the law. Formal complaints to the USDA from the farm policy group have led to similar enforcement actions against other giant dairies that they say are "masquerading as organic"
"As an organic dairy farmer who believes in and follows the law, I am upset that outfits like Shamrock are allegedly cheating and deceiving organic consumers" said John Boere, a Modesto, California dairy producer who ships his milk to Organic Valley, a cooperative of primarily family farmers. "Over the past few years there has been a surplus of organic milk, which injured plenty of farms like mine. Ethical producers like me could have recovered some of our income if certifiers and the USDA had been doing their jobs" added Boere.
Shamrock's organic certifier, Quality Assurance International, has been asked by the USDA to handle the suspension.
"This dairy operation never should have been certified in the first place" Kastel noted, "and it's unacceptable that it took more than three years from the time of our complaint to the announcement of this enforcement action. There's simply no excuse for this level of foot-dragging and procrastination at a USDA administration that proclaimed this the 'age of enforcement.'"
The Wisconsin-based organization has been increasingly critical of the Obama/Vilsack administration at the USDA for failing to live up to its own rhetoric, and high expectations after appointing widely respected industry participants to run the National Organic Program.
"We filed the formal legal complaint against Shamrock towards the end of the Bush administration" said Kastel. "This kind of delay, as consumers apparently were continuing to unknowingly buy fraudulent organic milk, is a grave disservice and abdication of the USDA's congressional mandate to protect the industry from improprieties"
Shamrock Food Company's milk and sour cream products are distributed in the Rocky Mountain and Southwest regions and available at such retailers as Walmart.
The Cornucopia Institute, with almost 6,000 members, has more organic farmer-members than any other policy group in the country. On the organization's website (www.cornucopia.org) pictures of Shamrock's industrial-scale dairy can be viewed in the photo gallery.
"At a time when conventional and organic dairy producers are all being squeezed by extraordinarily high feed prices, there is no doubt that large corporate-owned, vertically-integrated operations like Shamrock put downward pressure on farm gate prices" said Will Fantle, Cornucopia's Research Director. "If this dairy was indeed violating the law, they have taken profits out of the pockets of hard-working family farmers in the Southwest"
Cornucopia has also produced an online scorecard for consumers rating all organic dairy brands sold in grocery stores around the country for their adherence to the spirit and letter of the federal law and regulations governing organic food and agriculture.
"The good news for organic consumers in the Southwest, and elsewhere, is that based on our research 90% of all organic dairy brands are produced with high integrity" Kastel affirmed. "In every market buyers can find organic milk, cheese and yogurt, butter and ice cream that truly respect organic consumers' values and the federal law. Scofflaws like Shamrock are unfortunate aberrations"
The Cornucopia Institute was formally notified by the USDA that it had completed its investigation of Shamrock's Arizona dairy by referring the 2008 complaint to the operation's certifier, Quality Assurance International (QAI).
"Since Shamrock, based on our allegations, was in flagrant violation of the law, which should have been evident to its certifier, upon initial inspection and on subsequent annual inspections, we question the propriety of the USDA depending on QAI rather than conducting their own investigation" said Fantle.
In the past, when Cornucopia filed formal legal complaints against other industrial dairy operations, such as Aurora Dairy in Colorado, which USDA investigators found was in "willful" violation of federal law, the certifier was also found complicit and was initially earmarked, by the USDA, for suspension.
In 2007, another giant dairy certified by QAI, owned by Case Vander Eyk Jr., in Pixley, California milking 10,000 cows, in a split operation, also lost its organic certification after a Cornucopia investigation and subsequent legal complaint.
"The USDA's job, operating an accreditation program, is to assure that the certifiers are performing their duties properly" said Fantle. "Subcontracting investigations to certifiers, when serious allegations crop up, when the certifier itself could also be responsible, is inappropriate"
The USDA's letter to Cornucopia states that, "QAI issued a Letter of Proposed Suspension to Shamrock" and that the corporation has appealed the action and their milk remains in the market.
"Besides the unacceptable delay, what is outrageous about this notice is its lack of transparency" added Fantle. The USDA has refused, thus far, to release the actual Letter of Proposed Suspension, breaking from tradition.
"Even the Bush administration was willing to inform the public when an enforcement action took place and fully delineate the violations that were confirmed" lamented Kastel.
Although, on at least one occasion, The Cornucopia Institute was forced to sue the Bush USDA in order to compel the release of documents that the public was legally entitled to, it now states it is more disappointed in the Obama administration's approach to openness at the USDA.
"This isn't exactly news, as the mindset of the Obama administration has been well documented in the media, including the New York Times, in terms of their increasing levels of secrecy, after professing, as President Obama took office, its commitment to transparency. This level of secrecy is highly disappointing to find at the National Organic Program (NOP)," said Kastel.
"There wasn't anything positive in terms of governmental openness at the NOP during the Bush years, but now we find that documents that had been previously released are being withheld. What's more, when the Department now complies with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests most of the documents are so heavily redacted they are rendered useless to the public and media endeavoring to understand whether or not our regulators are properly enforcing the law" Kastel added.
The Cornucopia Institute is dedicated to the fight for economic justice for the family-scale farming community. Through research, advocacy and economic development our goal is to empower farmers both politically and through marketplace initiatives. Our Organic Integrity Project acts as a corporate watchdog assuring that no compromises to the credibility of organic farming methods and the food it produces are made in the pursuit of profit. We will actively resist regulatory rollbacks and the weakening of organic standards to protect and maintain consumer confidence in the organic food label.

Admin error led to Canadian listeria recall delay - CFIA
Source : http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/On-your-radar/Food-safety/Admin-error-led-to-Canadian-listeria-recall-delay-CFIA
By Mark Astley (Dec 15, 2011)
Several dairy products, potentially contaminated with listeria, remained on the market over a month after an initial manufacturer recall because of an administration blunder, Canadian food safety authorities have revealed.
The Canadian Food Safety Inspection Agency (CFIA) discovered that half a dozen potentially tainted cheese and butter products, manufactured by Quebec-based 3903952 Canada Inc, were still on sale over a month after an initial voluntary recall on 11 November.
The original recall, which applied to only two products, was issued after a routine product test discovered the presence of Listeria monocytogenes bacterium.
To-date 45 cheese and dairy products have been recalled, in several recall extensions, in relation to the contamination which has left one person ill.
Production ceased
"During a review of the company's voluntary recall it was discovered that several products had been missed," CFIA food safety and recall specialist Garfield Balsom told FoodQualityNews.com.
"The manufacturer has ceased production at its facilities and the CFIA working with them to make sure other products manufactured by the company are safe to consume."
The CFIA added that the source of the outbreak has yet to be identified.
"Our priority is to make sure a full recall has been issued and that future products from the manufacturer are safe to consume."
"We are still working on identifying the source of the contamination, but our immediate concern is that all potentially contaminated products are recalled. Once that has been achieved then the investigation continues."
Routine testing
The latest recall applies to 300-400g packs of Moujadal?, Riviera, Tress? and Vachekaval cheeses, bearing establishment number 1874, with the last best before date on the products ranging from February 2012 to November 2012.
The alert also applies to 1lb and 2lb packs of Desi Butter Ghee with the establishment number 1874. Products where the last two digits of the lot code are 45 or lower are affected by the recall.
"It originated when regional routine sampling picked up the contamination. Other products that could have been affected were identified. These items were recalled, production stopped and the company facilities were cleaned down."
The CFIA continues to monitor the effectiveness of the recall, Balsom added.
Canadian authorities have urged caution as food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled.
Consuming listeria-contaminated food can lead to listeriosis - the potentially lethal illness which killed 30 people in a cantaloupe-related outbreak earlier this year.

Eggs now considered safe beyond their 'best before' dates
Source : http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/14/eggs-safe-best-before-dates
By James Meikle (Dec 14, 2011)
Lower incidence of salmonella in UK eggs and a drive to reduce waste leads to revised guidelines from food safety watchdog
Consumers no longer need to throw away their eggs immediately they pass their "best before" dates, the Food Standards Agency said on Wednesday.
The safety watchdog changed its advice as part of a drive to cut food waste, saying that people could eat them safely for a day or two more, provided they were hard-boiled or in dishes such as cakes where they would be fully cooked.
The change in the guidance, which a straw poll among Guardian staff suggested was not always being followed, reveals a shift in official attitudes born out of the salmonella-in-eggs crisis which famously cost Edwina Currie her job as health minister in 1988.
It was these food safety scares - BSE, listeria, and E coli were others - that persuaded Labour to promise a body to monitor food safety when it came to power in 1997.
A long campaign involving egg producers in the UK and abroad to reduce the incidence of salmonella bacteria in eggs has helped cut food poisoning by this route.
The agency said: "If salmonella is present in eggs it could multiply to high levels and cause food poisoning. But salmonella contamination levels in UK-produced eggs are low, and salmonella is killed by thorough cooking.
"This is why the advice is now that eggs can be eaten after their 'best before' date, as long as they are cooked thoroughly until both yolk and white are solid, or if they are used in dishes where they will be fully cooked, such as a cake."
The food agency statement added: "Apart from eggs, most foods can be eaten safely after the 'best before' date, as this is mostly about quality rather than safety. Past this date it doesn't mean that the food will be harmful, rather that its flavour, colour or texture might begin to deteriorate.
"However, it is still important to remember that if food has a 'use by' date, then it shouldn't be used after this date as it could put your health at risk."
The UK egg industry later welcomed the move as "great news" and urged consumers to look out for its lion mark now found on most home-produced eggs. This is only to be used on eggs laid by hens vaccinated against salmonella enteritidis, raised to higher welfare standards than required by law, and subject to feed controls.
Britons eat nearly 11.3bn eggs a year, 2.5bn of them imported, according to the British Egg Information Service.

Food Safety No. 1 Story of 2011
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2011/12/food-safety-no-1-story-of-2011.aspx
By admin (Dec 14, 2011)
Americans ranked food safety as the No. 1 most significant food story of 2011, according to results of a survey commissioned by Hunter Public Relations. The results showed even in a year when global food prices hit record highs and both restaurant menus and retail food labels got a new look, the safety of the American food supply dominated the headlines and consumers took notice.
Hunter worked with experts in the food industry, guided by the number of press impressions generated by stories, to create a list of 10 key stories. More than 1,000 Americans were asked to rank the top food stories of 2011.
The following were the 2011 Top 10 food-safety stories:
1. 29 deaths caused by cantaloupe Listeria outbreak.
2. First Lady Michelle Obama with USDA unveils MyPlate, which replaces food pyramid.
3. Global food prices reach record high.
4. Millions of pounds of ground turkey recalled.
5. Restaurant menu labeling to become law in 2012.
6. Food Safety Bill passes.
7. Nutrition labels move to front of food packages.
8. Doctors argue that government can put obese children in foster care.
9. General Mills sued for marketing fruit snacks as "healthy."
10. USDA lowers pork cooking temperatures.

Juicers Can Promote Microbial Contamination
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2011/12/juicers-can-promote-microbial-contamination.aspx
By admin (Dec 14, 2011)
Poor handling of fruits and insufficient cleaning of juicing equipment in the foodservice setting can stimulate bacterial contamination that can result in a foodborne illness outbreak, according to a new study published in the Food Control Journal.
Researchers at the University of Valencia collected 190 batches of squeezed orange juice from different catering locations and analyzed their microbiological content on the same day. The results revealed 43% of the samples exceeded the Enterobacteriaceae levels deemed acceptable by food regulations in Spain and Europe. In addition, 12% of samples exceeded mesophilic aerobic microorganism levels. Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella was found in 1% and 0.5% of samples, respectively.
The researchers found some juices that were kept in metal jugs presented "unacceptable" levels of Enterobacteriaceae in 81% of cases and in 13% of cases with regard to mesophilic aerobic bacteria. However, when the freshly squeezed juice is served in a glass, the percentages fell to 22% and 2%, respectively.
Juicers and juicing machines have a large surface area and many holes and cavities that can promote microbial contamination, which is picked up by the juice as it is being prepared. The researchers recommend juicers are cleaned and disinfected properly; the same goes for the jugs in which the juice is stored although its consumption is better as and when it is squeezed.

'Revolutionary' 15-minute pathogen test will reduce time and cost - 3M
Source : http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Revolutionary-15-minute-pathogen-test-will-reduce-time-and-cost-3M
By Mark Astley (Dec 14, 2011)
A food pathogen test, which can provide positive results in as little as 15 minutes, will revolutionise the food safety sector, its developer has claimed.
The Molecular Detection System has been designed to provide a faster, easier to use, and less expensive pathogen test for all food and beverage testing labs.
A combination of technologies allows for the detection of positive results in 15 minutes and negative results in just 75 minutes, said the company.
The system, produced by US technology company 3M, has been verified for use with meats, poultry, dairy, seafood and processed foods.
The company hopes the development will challenge the threat pathogens pose to the public.
Pathogen threat
"Pathogens are a real threat to public health and to our customer's businesses. Global regulations are changing and microbiology labs are faced with considerable challenges," 3M public relations manager Mary Kokkinen told FoodQualityNews.com.
"These challenges include high turn-over of lab technicians, increasing pressures to deliver more rapid results, steady increase in volume of work, increasing sensitivity to food safety issues and the need to cut costs."
The product is a combination of two technologies - isothermal DNA amplification and bioluminescence detection.
Isothermal DNA amplification recognises distinct regions of the pathogen genome and bioluminescence detection generates light when pathogens are found to be present.
"Both amplification and detection occur simultaneously and continuously during the exponential phase providing real time results and a short run time," said Kokkinen.
Specificity and sensitivity
The combination of these technologies allows 3M to offer the specificity and sensitivity its customers want in a pathogen test solution, Kokkinen added.
"In comparison to other rapid detection methods, our system improves efficiencies in the lab process by offering customers only one preparation protocol across all assays and all matrices allowing for batch processing, easier training and less chance for human error."
"Because the DNA amplification is detected via bioluminescence, the 3M Molecular Detection System offers the unique use of colour-coded assay tubes to differentiate pathogen assays making it easier for technicians work with our system."
"After extensive market research and voice of customer collection from food processing contract labs, we designed the system to be compact, simple and robust offering easy implementation and low maintenance without compromising accuracy and reliability," Kokkinen concluded.

Japan baby formula radiation fears raised as early as mid-November
Source : http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Japan-baby-formula-radiation-fears-raised-as-early-as-mid-November
By Nilpa Shah (Dec 14, 2011)
Following the discovery of radioactive substances in its baby milk formula, it has now emerged that Meiji Holdings Co. was contacted about possible contamination three weeks before it decided to recall the products.
Speaking to FoodProductionDaily.com, the company confirmed that it received three "inquiries" about the "detection of trace amounts of radioactive materials" in its Meiji Step milk formula on 14 November.
A spokesman for the company said that "one of the inquiries was made by an anonymous caller and the other two were made from concerned customers that cited information they discovered on the internet."
The Japanese food firm did not issue a product recall until 6 December, following tests conducted on 3 and 4 December, which detected traces of cesium-134 and cesium-137.
"Unable to confirm" information
The spokesman said that Meiji viewed the websites cited by the callers but were "unable to confirm the related information" at the time. He added that immediately following these three calls, the company "did not receive similar inquiries."
He explained that Meiji then received "a detailed inquiry" on 28 November, at which point it "quickly realised the importance of this information and determined that further investigation was necessary."
In a statement made regarding its decision to recall the products, Meiji said that the levels of cesium detected (22 to 31 Bq/kg) are "considered to have no adverse effect on infants even if the product is consumed daily" because they are below guideline safety levels set out by food hygiene regulations.
However, it added that it was recalling the potentially contaminated products in order to maintain consumer confidence.
Contamination caused by "heated atmospheric air"
In its statement, Meiji also said that "all ingredients used" in its products were produced before the Japanese earthquake that occurred on 11 March.
The Tokyo-based manufacturer added: "As for the water in which ingredients were dissolved, Meiji has been monitoring it on a regular basis, confirming that no radioactive contaminants have been detected."
It therefore considers that the contamination was caused by the drying process which "involves exposure to a large amount of heated atmospheric air", adding that this air contained "radioactive contaminants" as a result of the nuclear fallout from the Fukushima disaster.
This is the first time that any radioactive substances have been detected in baby food since Fukushima and the company has now said that it plans on conducting regular tests to ensure the "continued provision of safe and reliable products."

Romaine lettuce 'likely' source of E.coli outbreak - CDC
Source : http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Romaine-lettuce-likely-source-of-E.coli-outbreak-CDC
By Mark Astley, (Dec 13, 2011)
Romaine lettuce has been identified as the likely source of a US E.coli outbreak that sickened scores of people, US disease control authorities have announced.
Following investigations by local, state and federal public health authorities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has pinpointed romaine lettuce as the most-likely source of the outbreak.
Since the beginning of this month, 60 cases of E.coli O157:H7 have been reported across 10 states - with 37 in Missouri alone.
The outbreak, which according to the CDC appears to be over, has been attributed to a single batch of romaine lettuce produced at one farm un-named farm referred to as Farm A.
It is believed that the contamination involved only lettuce consumed between 5 and 24 October, as no positive test results have been taken from the farm.
Trace back investigations identified nine Schnucks grocery store locations, which are known only as Chain A in CDC documents, where more than one person reported buying a salad from the salad bar before becoming ill.
Contamination likely before store
"Collaborative investigative efforts of state, local, and federal public health agencies indicate that romaine lettuce sold primarily at several locations of a single grocery store chain (Chain A) was the likely source of illnesses in this outbreak," a CDC report on the outbreak said.
"Contamination likely occurred before the product reached grocery store Chain A locations."
"Romaine lettuce served on salad bars at all locations of grocery store Chain A had come from a single lettuce processing facility via a single distributor. This indicates that contamination of romaine lettuce likely occurred before the product reached grocery store Chain A locations."
Inter-agency investigations have determined that a single batch of romaine lettuce harvested from an un-named farm (Farm A) was used to supply the identified Schnucks stores.
Initial findings at Farm A, which was no longer in production during the time of investigation, did not identify the source of the contamination.
Schnucks, which cooperated with the investigation, "voluntarily removed suspected food items from the salad bar on October 26, 2011, out of abundance of caution," the CDC report added.
E.coli lawsuit
"Although no tests were positive for E.coli, the CDC believes romaine lettuce consumed between October 5 and 24 was the contaminant. The outbreak was traced back to a single lot of romaine lettuce harvested by a single farm," said a statement released by Schnucks.
"Absent of any food safety violations or positive test results, the CDC declined to the name the grocer or the supplier."
"However, leaders of Schnuck Market Inc are confirming that Schnucks is the entity referred to by the CDC as 'grocery store chain A,' but for the same reasons provided by the CDC, Schnucks declined to name the supplier," Schnucks added.
A woman, who became infected with E.coli O157:H7 after eating romaine lettuce from a Schnucks store, has announced that she will sue the store.

Scientists urge manufacturers to make raw cookie dough ready-to-eat amid e-coli fears
Source : http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Scientists-urge-manufacturers-to-make-raw-cookie-dough-ready-to-eat-amid-e-coli-fears
By Oliver Nieburg, (Dec 13, 2011)
Cookie dough manufacturers should reformulate ready-to-bake products to make them as safe as a ready-to-eat product, according to a study that has linked raw dough to an e-coli outbreak in 2009.
The study titled 'A Novel Vehicle for Transmission of Escherichia coli O157:H7 to Humans' was published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
The report's authors, led by Karen Neil, warned consumers not to eat pre-packaged cookie dough before it was baked following a US e-coli outbreak in 2009.
The study also said that raw flour should be considered the prime suspect in future e-coli outbreaks.
Reformulate
The researchers analysed records of 35 patients taken ill during the 2009 outbreak. They found that 94% had consumed raw cookie dough.
The study said: "Despite instructions to bake cookie dough before eating, case patients consumed the product uncooked."
It said that manufacturers should consider formulating ready-to-bake commercial pre-packaged cookie dough to be as safe as a ready-to-eat product.
"Food processors should consider the use of pasteurised flour in ready-to-cook or ready-to-bake foods that are likely to be consumed without cooking or baking, even though label statements may warn against consuming uncooked product."
"More effective consumer education about the risks of eating unbaked cookie dough is needed," it added.
The authors said eating the dough before it was cooked was popular among adolescent girls. Of the total 77 patients affected by the 2009 outbreak 71% were girls under the age of 19.
2009 e-coli outbreak
Between Match and July 2009, 77 people across 30 states in the US fell ill following an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) that caused bacterial gastrointestinal illness.
There were no deaths, but 35 people were hospitalised and 3.6m packages of cookie dough were recalled.
US food authorities later discovered that the bacterium E.coli H7:157 had been detected in Nestle's Toll House refrigerated cookie dough.
Toll House returned to stores in August the same year, but it wasn't until Nestle detected e-coli in two dough samples at its Virginia plant in January 2010 that it realised a warning label may not do enough to deter consumers from eating the product raw.
Now Nestle uses heat treated flour to produce its refrigerated cookie dough.
Nestle was asked for its reaction to the present study, but was unable to reply before publication.
Flour 'prime suspect'
For the 2009 outbreak, Neil and her colleagues suspect a contaminated ingredient used to produce the dough was to blame.
Their study did not conclusively implicate flour "but it remains the prime suspect".
"Foods containing raw flour should be considered as possible vehicles of infection of future outbreaks of STEC," they said.

OSHA cites Cargill Meat Solutions - 23 violations
Source : http://blog.usfoodsafety.com/2011/12/12/osha-cites-cargill-meat-solutions-23-violations/
By foodsafeguru(Dec 13, 2011)
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. for 23 violations at its Milwaukee production plant. The agency is proposing fines of $146,400. OSHA said Cargill failed to develop "normal operating procedures" for starting ammonia refrigeration systems and conduct equipment inspections and testing at required times, among other things. Cargill said there were no employee injuries, ammonia releases, or food safety issues associated with the alleged violations. A Cargill spokesman said the alleged violations center primarily on documentation. He said the company has an emergency response plan in place to address ammonia releases.
source: http://www.canadianbusiness.com/article/61275-osha-cites-cargill-meat-solutions

Senators urge FDA to reassure public of Gulf seafood safety
Source : http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/On-your-radar/Food-safety/Senators-urge-FDA-to-reassure-public-of-Gulf-seafood-safety
By Caroline Scott-Thomas(Dec 12, 2011)
A group of US Senators from the Gulf region has called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to assist them in assuring the public of the safety of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico.
In a letter to FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg dated December 1, Senator David Vitter and seven other signatories wrote that they were concerned about statements from some groups questioning the safety of seafood from the Gulf, despite testing that showed seafood from the region was safe to eat.
"We ask that you please engage more directly on this issue, and help us ensure that the general public understands that Gulf seafood is safe to eat," the letter said.
In May, the FDA said that working in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Gulf state safety authorities, it had tested more than 10,000 samples from the Gulf. The NOAA said at that time that more than 99 percent of samples had no detectable residue at all.
"Gulf seafood is safe, and we want the FDA to make sure the public knows that," Vitter said in a statement. "The FDA is in the best position to provide a much-needed boost to our fishermen by publicly and vigorously defending the safety of Gulf seafood." A study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives by researchers from the National Defense Resources Council (NDRC), raised a number of concerns about the safety of seafood from the region, following the BP oil spill last year. In particular, it found that the FDA may have overestimated safe levels of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) for vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women and children.
However, the Senators claim that this study was based on "misinformation and unscientific claims", and said in their letter to Hamburg that "sound science must prevail".
Executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board Ewell Smith said: "It is critically important that the FDA and other federal agencies involved in the testing of Gulf seafood continue to educate consumers at the national level regarding ongoing testing and the results of those tests, which show that our seafood is safe."
Other senators to sign onto Vitter's letter were Mary Landrieu, John Cornyn (R-TX), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Thad Cochran (R-MS).
Information on seafood testing in the Gulf, including all test results, is available online here .

How's your burrito Chicago: the El Gran Burrito Salmonella Outbreak, July 2011
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-information/hows-your-burrito-chicago-the-el-gran-burrito-salmonella-outbreak-july-2011/
by Drew Falkenstein (Dec 15, 2011)
On Sunday, July 10, 2011 the Mount Sinai Hospital Emergency Department notified the City of Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) of a possible foodborne illness outbreak. Over the weekend at least 15 people had been seen at the hospital for gastrointestinal symptoms. Five patients were admitted. Laboratory analysis of stool specimens collected from two patients were positive for Salmonella. At least four ill persons reported eating at El Gran Burrito located at 1207 South Pulaski Road in Chicago in the 72 hours before symptom onset.
Ill customers had dined at the El Gran Burrito restaurant between July 6 and July 11. On Monday, July 11 CDPH staff informed Dr. Corland Lohff, state epidemiologist at the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), of the ill patients and the suspected source, El Gran Burrito. CDPH staff began to interview ill persons about symptoms and possible exposures to a foodborne pathogen using a standardized questionnaire. Patient answers clearly implicated food prepared and sold at the El Gran Burrito restaurant located on South Pulaski Road.
Illness complaints among El Gran Burrito customers prompted CDPH restaurant inspectors to make an on-site visit to the restaurant on Monday, July 11. The restaurant "passed" inspection although food and non-food contact surfaces were in obvious need of cleaning. By July 12 more patient data were gathered and evidence connecting illnesses to the El Gran Burrito mounted. Leftover foods and environmental swabs were collected for laboratory analysis. CDPH staff met with employees to discuss food safety procedures, proper temperature controls, and good hygienic practices. El Gran Burrito voluntarily closed on July 12 for thorough cleaning and sanitizing.
Ultimately, at least 30 people tested positive for Salmonella Newport that they had contracted from food prepared by the Pulaski Road El Gran Burrito. One of the restaurant's employees tested positive for the same strain of Salmonella during the health department investigation. The outbreak prompted a lawsuit by Gloria Molden, who was hospitalized as a result of her severe illness

Bad Eggs Benedict: Crowne Plaza Hotel (Portland) Staph Aureus Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/bad-eggs-benedict-crowne-plaza-hotel-portland-staph-aureus-outbreak/
by Drew Falkenstein (Dec 15, 2011)
The Crowne Plaza Staphylococcus Aureus outbreak occurred on July 17, 2011, during a Portland-based conference attended by approximately 2,400 county commissioners from across the country. Many were sickened by the harmful staph bacteria, which investigating health authorities conclusively determined was the food item that sickened dozens of people.
Here are the dirty details:
oAll "affected patients" who investigators interviewed consumed eggs benedict at Crowne Plaza on July 17, 2011;
oStool specimens obtained from 2 people who were hospitalized as a result of their illnesses were positive for Staphylococcus Aureus;
oStool specimens from 5 Crowne Plaza kitchen employees tested positive for Staphylococcus Aureus;
oNo food tested positive for Staphylococcus Aureus, but the item identified as the outbreak vehicle-i.e. the eggs benedict-was not left over from the date the outbreak occurred, and the food item that caused these illnesses was, therefore, not available for testing;
oCrowne Plaza records showed that 239 breakfasts were served the morning of July 17; of these, 12 were eggs benedict. Investigators successfully contacted 8 of the 12 and learned that 7 of those individuals fell ill with vomiting or diarrhea the same day. Further, the only individual who ordered eggs benedict and did not become ill had ordered the hollandaise sauce separately, and did not eat any of it;
oOf the 7 individuals who became ill after eating eggs benedict from Crowne Plaza on July 17, 6 were conference attendees, and 1 was a flight attendant who had consumed no other meals in Portland during his or her trip;
oInvestigators interviewed 18 individuals who had eaten breakfast at Crowne Plaza on July 17 who did not order eggs benedict, and none of them became ill;
oEating hollandaise sauce, or any eggs benedict, were both highly associated with Staphylococcus Aureus on statistical analysis;
oDuring investigators' environmental analysis of the Crowne Plaza kitchen, it was discovered that the temperature of the hollandaise sauce was not monitored on the day the outbreak happened.
This is the anatomy of an outbreak investigation. Failures occur, and people get sick as a result.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Reactive Arthritis: notes for victims of Don Julio Salmonella Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/diagnosis-and-treatment-of-reactive-arthritis-notes-for-victims-of-don-julio-salmonella-outbreak/
by Drew Falkenstein (Dec 14, 2011)
The Don Julio Salmonella outbreak, which has claimed more than 59 victims--possibly hundreds--will cause many to develop a condition called reactive arthritis. Here is some additional information for any of the victims who do, in fact, develop this long-term, and in some cases permanent, condition:

Diagnosis of Reactive Arthritis:
Diagnosis of reactive arthritis (including the condition formerly called Reiter's syndrome) is mainly clinical. There are no validated diagnostic criteria, however some guidance for diagnosis is available (Braun et al., 1999; Hannu et al., 2006; Kingsley & Sieper, 1996; Petersel & Sigal, 2005). In 1995, the Third International Workshop on Reactive Arthritis established criteria for diagnosing reactive arthritis. The main criteria involve the pattern of joint involvement and the timing of the onset of the condition (such as soon after an infection). Diagnosis of Reiter's syndrome has essentially been replaced with diagnosis of the broader category in which it resides: Reactive Arthritis.

The diagnostic criteria of the Third International Workshop on Reactive Arthritis are:
oThe arthritis should predominantly involve the lower limb, involve one or only a few joints and not equally involve both sides of the body (asymmetric).
oThere should be evidence or a history of preceding infection. Although it is ideal to have a culture that is positive for an infectious agent that is recognized to be associated with this condition (such as Salmonella or Chlamydia), if the patient has documented diarrhea or urethritis in the prior 4 weeks, laboratory confirmation is not required.
oIf there is no clear clinical infection, then laboratory confirmation (perhaps with serology or a culture) is essential.
oThe patient should not have evidence that the joint itself is infected (i.e., septic arthritis). Also, other causes of monoarthritis (such as gout) or oligoarthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis) should be ruled out.
Interestingly, the above criteria do not require laboratory tests (such as HLA-B27). Features that have been considered part of Reiter's syndrome such as conjunctivitis, iritis, skin lesions, noninfectious urethritis, and certain types of cardiac and neurological abnormalities are not required for a diagnosis of reactive arthritis.

Treatment of Reactive Arthritis:
Testing for and treating any underlying infection is often attempted but in many cases the underlying infection is self limited or can no longer be found. If the inciting infectious can be determined it must be treated aggressively with antibiotics.
Symptomatic treatment with high doses of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and steroid injections into affected joints can be helpful (Barth & Segal, 1999). NSAIDs can reduce joint inflammation and are commonly used to treat patients with reactive arthritis. Some traditional NSAIDs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, are available without a prescription, but others that are more effective for reactive arthritis, such as indomethacin and voltaren, must be prescribed by a doctor. Less is known about whether a new class of NSAIDs, called COX-2 inhibitors, is effective for reactive arthritis, but they may reduce the risk of gastrointestinal complications associated with traditional NSAIDs (National Institutes of Health, 2004). For people with severe joint inflammation, injections of corticosteroids directly into the affected joint may reduce inflammation. Doctors usually give these injections only after trying unsuccessfully to control arthritis with NSAIDs. In some cases, short courses of oral steroids, such as methylprednisolone or prednisone, may also be required.
A small percentage of patients with reactive arthritis have severe symptoms that cannot be controlled with any of the above treatments. For these people, medicine that suppresses the immune system, such as sulfasalazine or methotrexate, may be effective (Clegg, et al., 1996; Creemers et al., 1994; National Institutes of Health, 2004). If the symptoms do not respond to these agents a newer group of medications, called biologics, can often be very effective. Biologic agents can be either injectables (such as etanercept or adalimumab) or given intravascularly (such as infliximab or rituximab). These agents can be very immunosuppressive and are very expensive so are not used as first-line treatments.
Topical corticosteroids, which come in a cream or lotion, can be applied directly on the skin lesions associated with reactive arthritis. Topical corticosteroids reduce inflammation and promote healing (National Institutes of Health, 2004).
Antibiotics to eliminate the bacterial infection that triggered the reactive arthritis may be prescribed. The specific antibiotic prescribed depends on the type of bacterial infection present. It is important to follow instructions about how much medicine to take and for how long; otherwise the infection may persist. Typically, an antibiotic is taken for 7 to 10 days or longer (National Institutes of Health, 2004). Currently, however, there is no evidence to suggest that antibiotic treatment is beneficial once reactive arthritis has occurred (Hill Gaston & Lillicrap, 2003).
Exercise, when introduced gradually, may help improve joint function. In particular, strengthening and range-of-motion exercises will maintain or improve joint function. Strengthening exercises builds up the muscles around the joint to better support it. Muscle-tightening exercises that do not move any joints can be done even when a person has inflammation and pain. Range-of-motion exercises improve movement and flexibility and reduce stiffness in the affected joint. For patients with spine pain or inflammation, exercises to stretch and extend the back can be particularly helpful in preventing long-term disability. Aquatic exercise also may be helpful. Before beginning an exercise program, patients should talk to a health professional who can recommend appropriate exercises (National Institutes of Health, 2004).


Premier botulism scare 'a complete mystery'
Source : http://www.foodqualitynews.com/Food-Alerts/Premier-botulism-scare-a-complete-mystery
By Dan Colombini (Dec 12, 2011)
Nearly a month after Premier Foods' Loyd Grossman botulism scare, which left three children in hospital, scientists are no closer to locating the source of the contamination.
incident is still under investigation by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), which has yet to fully rule out the possibility of contamination at any stage of the production process.
Experts have agreed that the incident remained "a complete mystery" and confirmed that contamination could have occurred anywhere within the supply chain.
While declining to comment specifically on the Premier case, Dr Peter Waring, principal food safety advisor at Leatherhead Food Research told FoodManufacture.co.uk: "Typical causes of clostridium botulinum food poisoning in the past have occurred because of various reasons.
"One example included contamination at post-process level when a tin of canned salmon received a correct process but was thought to be contaminated via operators' protective aprons from the fish-gutting being dried on the warm cans."
Waring also said that, in the past, clostridium botulinum cases have occurred during processing and as a result of poor formulation of the product.
Anaerobic bacterium
One expert, who did not want to be named, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: "What has clearly happened is clostridium botulinum has found its way into the sauce and the family has unfortunately consumed it. The question is: how and when did it get in there?"
"The fact that it is only one jar that was contaminated makes it very difficult to pin-point where it may have occurred."
Clostridium botulinum - which when eaten can cause botulism - is an anaerobic bacterium that cannot grow in the presence of oxygen, according to experts.
Scientists also said that since clostridium botulinum does not grow below 12C, the product must have been kept at room temperature at the time of contamination.
"These sauces are shelf-stable and do not necessarily need to be refrigerated so it could have occurred anywhere from production, transport of the product through to retail," said one expert.
"As it is only one jar that was contaminated it is very difficult to tell though, and to speculate would be unhelpful to the investigation."
'No conclusions'
An FSA spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk: "Investigations into the recent botulism incident are still on-going. No stages of the production process have been given the all clear and no conclusions have been made about the source or cause of the contamination."
Troubled Premier Foods was rocked by the incident that occurred last month, when it was revealed two children from the same family had been taken to hospital in Northern Scotland with suspected botulism.
The siblings had both eaten from a jar of Loyd Grossman Korma sauce, which is made my Premier.
As a result, the firm ordered a recall of a batch of 350g of the product with a best-before date of February 13 on November 13.
Later that week, a third child from the family was also taken to hospital with suspected botulism, although they have now all returned home.
Following on from this, the FSA revealed that Premier's factory in Bury St Edmunds, where the sauce was produced, had shown no sign of contamination. This lead to claims from Peter Schnabl, Grossman's agent, that both Premier and the TV chef were not to blame for the incident.
Premier was quick to distance itself from the comments however, with the FSA also labelling Schabl's comments "premature".
Premier said that it did not want to comment further on the incident and confirmed it was assisting the FSA with the continuing investigation.

Don't lick the holiday cookie bowl: Raw dough linked to previous E. coli outbreaks
Source : http://news.consumerreports.org/safety/2011/12/dont-lick-the-holiday-cookie-bowl-raw-dough-linked-to-previous-e-coli-outbreaks.html
By Maggie Shader (Dec 12, 2011)
A recent multi-state outbreak of E. coli was not caused by raw eggs or dairy products, but instead to raw flour in prepackaged cookie dough, according to new research published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
The study found that a 2009 outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 that hit several states was due to contaminated ready-to-bake prepackaged cookie dough that can be found in many grocery stores.
At the time of the outbreak, 77 people from 30 states became ill from the bad batter. About half of those people got so sick they had to be hospitalized, according to ABC News.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to say what ingredient in the cookie dough caused the 2009 outbreak, but the CDC's Karen Neil told ABC News that it was probably the flour, because "raw" flour does not go through the same process to kill pathogens as other commercial products do, such as eggs, molasses and sugar.
CDC researchers have recommended manufacturers make the packed raw dough safer as a ready-to-eat product, since eating cookie dough is such a popular pastime, although the agency also notes that more consumer education is needed about the risks of eating raw products such as cookie dough, ABC News reports.
E. coli O157:H7 is a bacteria that can cause severe abdominal cramping, followed by diarrhea, often with bloody stools. Although most healthy adults can recover completely within a week, it is possible for some people to develop a form of kidney failure.
For information and advice on how best to handle raw and uncooked foods see Nine foods to handle with extreme care. Plus you can check out www.foodsafety.gov to learn more.

Corinth restaurant, Don Julio's, closed amidst Salmonella outbreak
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/corinth-restaurant-don-julios-closed-amidst-salmonella-outbreak/
By Drew Falkenstein( Dec 10, 2011)
The number of confirmed Salmonella illnesses who have recently been treated at Magnolia Regional Medical Center in Corinth, Mississippi, now stands at 22. This cluster of illnesses was first announced by hospital officials several days ago. There is no public word on what strain of Salmonella is involved, or whether public health knows for sure that the illnesses are related, but it certainly seems like an active investigation into a point-source outbreak--i.e. an outbreak where people are getting sick from one spot.
News reports state that one restaurant, Don Julio's, "closed voluntarily." Is that a "voluntary" closure like a "voluntary" recall? Or would it be better to just leave the voluntary out of recalls and restaurant closures altogether. An outbreak where people may still be getting sick is not the time to save face; its a time to simply do what it takes to make sure the illnesses stop.
In any event, press accounts have it that health officials had found no evidence of any food contamination at the restaurant, and it was not ordered to close, read a sign on the door. Of course, evidence of food contamination at the restaurant really doesn't matter if the epidemiological evidence implicates Don Julio's food. From the outside looking in, this looks a little like a Don Julio's Salmonella outbreak.







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