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360 Food Safety, Addiction Foods Ltd., Ampm, Annies, Inc., APC/Proliant, Avure Technologies Inc Babcock Laboratories, Inc., Baptista's Bakery, Inc., Basic Food Flavors Inc, Bell Flavors & Fragrances, Inc., Bioventure centre pte ltd, Costco Wholesale, Crestone Group Baking Company, Donlevy Laboratories, DPI Specialty Foods, EnviroLogix Inc., Field Fresh Foods, Inc, Firestone Pacific Foods Food Protection Services, Frank O'Sullivan, Greater Chicago Food Depository, Griffith Laboratories Hershey Company, Hilmar Cheese Company, Isola Imports, Inc., JFC International Inc., Kentucky Food Safety Consulting, Kerry, Inc., Lallemand Specialties, Lighthouse Food Safety & Quality, Michelson Laboratories, Inc., Microbac, Ministry of health, NEC Soft, Ltd., Nellson Nutraceuticals Nestle Purina Pet Care, Nippon Trends Food Service,INC., NSF Surefish, Ocean Spray, Outwest Meat Company, Penn Dutch Food Center, Pizza Hut, Inc. / YUM! Brands, POM Wonderful,, Proliant Dairy Ingredients, QFC ? Commissary, Rain Crow Ranch ? American GrassFed Beef, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Regal Springs Trading, Reichel Foods, Inc., Roka Bioscience, Safeway, Inc., SAGE Food Safety Consultants, LLC, Saputo Cheese USA, , Sokol & Company, StonePoint Global Brands, Sunkist Growers, Inc., T. Price & Associates, LLC, Taco Bell Corp., Target, The Morning Star Packing Company, The Wendy's Company, Universidad del Esta, Waters Corporation, Wendy's

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McDonald's drops use of 'pink slime' ammonium hydroxide in hamburger meat
Source : By Kristin Annable (Jan 26, 2012) Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver can claim one more victory in his food revolution after McDonald's stopped using what he called "pink slime" in its burgers. On Thursday, McDonald's USA announced it was discontinuing the use of ammonium hydroxide in its beef. The Naked Chef had publicly denounced the use of the additive on his show, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. He questioned how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could allow the compound to be used in foods. Ammonium hydroxide is made of water and ammonia and is used to kill bacteria. Typically it is used in household cleaning products. On one episode of his show, Mr. Oliver said that beef producers take beef "trimmings" that would normally go to dog food and wash it with the compound until it is fit for human consumption. "Imagine how happy an accountant is, you just turned dog food into what can potentially be your kids' food," he said on the episode. Beef Products Inc. produces the beef for McDonald's USA. On its website, the company said that ammonium hydroxide naturally occurs in most foods. The company claims that the use of it in processing beef results in a reduction in bacteria such as e-coli. The website pointed to a 1973 study printed in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition to substantiate its facts. However, Mr. Oliver campaigned against its use and argued that the U.S. Department of Agriculture should at least force the company to put the compound on the list of ingredients. He further claimed it can be found in 70% of beef in the United States. Todd Bacon, the senior director of quality systems for McDonald's USA, said in an email that food safety was a top priority for the restaurant, but it was not Mr. Oliver's show that influenced them. "The decision to discontinue its use was not related to any particular event, but rather a result of our efforts to align our standards for beef around the world," he said. Karin Campbell, spokeswoman for McDonald's Canada, said the additive had not been used in the burgers in this country. McDonald's beef in Canada came from Cargill beef producers, a different company from the one used in the United States. She said the only ingredients used in their burgers was 100% beef, salt and pepper. "We have no additives, no fillers," she said

French Visitors to Turkey Infected With E. Coli O104
Source :
By Gretchen Goetz (Jan 27, 2012)
A group of French tourists returned home from Turkey last fall with diarrheal illnesses, and two of them developed a life-threatening kidney disease linked to the foodborne pathogen E. coli.
Now French health officials have completed an investigation into this illness cluster and say the two women were infected with a strain of E. coli similar to the rarely seen bacteria that caused the devastating European outbreak linked to sprouts grown from Egyptian fenugreek seeds.
In findings released Thursday by Eurosurveillance, the authors say the two cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) were caused by E. coli O104:H4, "genetically similar but not indistinguishable" from the E. coli O104:H4 outbreak strain in France and Germany last spring.
And they conclude this is "further evidence" that Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) serogroup O104 circulates in Turkey, along with Afghanistan, Egypt and Tunisia. "Public health authorities and clinicians should be vigilant for possible STEC O104 infection in individuals returning from these areas who present with post-diarrhoeal HUS," the article advises.
The study involved eight out of 22 French tourists who became sick after a two-week bus tour of Turkey in September of 2011. Two of these patients, both women in their 60s, experienced more serious illnesses, and upon their return to Caen, France they were treated for HUS, a complication of E. coli infection that leads to kidney failure.
Exposure to the bacteria most likely occurred in Turkey, the authors say, because the women began experiencing symptoms 11 days into their trip, and the average incubation period for E. coli O104:H4 is only 8 to 9 days. The incubation period is the time between contact with a pathogen and when symptoms begin to appear.
Evidence suggests that the six other sickened tourists also contracted their illnesses in Turkey, because none reported eating foods in common before their flight to Turkey, and there was no commonality between the meals they selected on the flight (out of a choice of two).
The two HUS cases may have been unrelated to the diarrheal illnesses of the other tour group members, according to the article. 
"The reported incubation period [for the other 6 diarrheal cases] was much shorter than that of the HUS cases," it states. "Moreover, none were confirmed as STEC O104:H4 infection. Thus, this cluster may have been due to another pathogen and may have been a distinct event not linked to the HUS cases."
This most recent outbreak of E. coli O104:H4 from Turkey adds to evidence suggesting that the serogroup E. coli O104 circulates in this region of the world, says the report. Between 2006 and 2010, the authors note, there have been reports of travelers returning from Afghanistan, Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey infected with various strains of the serogroup.
In this case, the source of the infection could not be determined. The tour group's meals were often served buffet-style, and investigators were unable to identify a specific food that might have been associated with illness. No member of the group recalled having eaten sprouts before or during the trip to Turkey.
The report was written by members of the French Institute for Public Health Surveillance, the National Reverence Center for Escherichia coli and Shigella and the University Hospital of Caen's Nephrology Department.

Pathogen testing acquisition will cut result time by hours ? Life Technologies
Source :
By Mark Astley (Jan 26, 2012)
The acquisition of Matrix MicroScience will significantly reduce testing time and costs through the combination of complementary foodborne pathogen testing equipment, Life Technologies has claimed.
US-based Life Technologies Corporation has acquired UK-based Matrix MicroScience, a manufacturer of automated sample preparation systems for the food testing sector. No financial details were disclosed. Matrix MicroScience’s main development, the Pathatrix Auto system, is designed to isolate a variety of pathogens, including Salmonella, E.coli O157:H7, Listeria, Cronobacter and Camylobacter.
This technology can be used in conjunction with reagent kits – including the new owner’s portfolio of PCR-based detection analysers.
Fast results, no drop in quality
Life Technologies hope the complementary technology will help reduce the cost of testing by more than 50% and speed up time to results by hours or days – ultimately lowering industry holding costs.
Company vice president and food safety general manager Nir Nimrodi told that through the acquisition it has added to its foodborne pathogen detection abilities. “We believe that the acquisition and the combination of technology will enable us to provide the fastest results without a drop in standards or quality,” Nimrodi said. “Matrix MicroScience has developed and is selling the Pathatrix Auto – which at the moment is the only system sold globally that isolates and concentrates target bacteria in food samples.” “We chose to partner with them as their developments complement ours.”
Testing time cut
The Pathatrix Auto enables the fully automated capture, concentration and the clean-up of samples within 15 minutes. The beads are then immediately ready for use with a variety of detection methods – including PCR.
“Salmonella testing on beef can take around 14-15 hours in total. By combining our technology with the Matrix MicroScience system, that testing time can be shrunk to more like 7 hours.” “Through our partnership, total cost and time for the customer can be significantly reduced.”
Matrix Micro Science CEO Dr. Adrian Parton MBE said, “It is a good fit for both organisations and ultimately benefits our customers.”

Food Allergies Much Less Prevalent Than Claims Of Food Allergies, According To Expert
Source :
By foodsafeguru (Jan 25, 2012)
It’s a cliche, at this point, to note that many more people claim to have food allergies today than they did a decade or two ago. In some David Chang-loving circles, you’re expected to rail against the tyranny of “peanut-free schools” and to roll eyes at fellow diners who are overheard asking waiters at Thai restaurants whether their som tum contains fish sauce three times in a row. If allergies really are on the rise — for some environmental reason, perhaps — then this cavalier attitude is inconsiderate, even rude.
But according to experts at the Jaffe Allergy Center, disregard for allergies is, to some extent, justified. That’s because, even though just three or four percent of Americans have a full-blown allergy to some food, over 20 percent of Americans claim to be allergic.
Researchers admitted than some of the huge gap between these two figures can be attributed to “food intolerance,” which describes a range of non-life-threatening reactions to foods. And some allergies, especially to peanuts and tree nuts, really have been on the rise, for some inexplicable reason, over the past few decades. According to one authoritative study, food allergy prevalence is more than twice as high in children as it is in an adult, with eight percent suffering from the ailment.
That means that the next time you encounter someone who claims to be allergic to a food you like, you should feel free to ask them pointedly whether their claim is medically valid. But if they maintain that it is, just defer to them. And as for “peanut-free schools”? HuffPost Food would like to humbly recommend you try out cashew butter.

Serious Questions About Third-Party Audits
Source :
By Dr. David W. K. Acheson( Jan 25, 2012)
On Jan. 10, 2012, a Congressional House report was issued on the government's investigation into the cantaloupe Listeria outbreak. The report provided some very interesting findings and lessons not only for and about Jensen Farms but for and about the industry as a whole.
Conducted by the Congressional Committee on Energy and Commerce, the investigation included a review of documents from and interviews with FDA; Jensen Farms; its distributor, Frontera Produce; and its third-party auditor, Primus Labs. And it was the information obtained from and about the audits that was highlighted as of most significant issue - and concern - in the report. The report was accompanied by a Letter from the Committee to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg that further emphasized concern around the use of third-party auditors. The letter to Commissioner Hamburg stated:
"We urge you to review closely the information uncovered during our investigation. In particular, the investigation identified significant problems with the third-party inspection system used by growers and distributors ... FDA officials identified "serious design flaws" in the processing technique used at Jensen Farms and "poor sanitary design of the facility itself" as the causes of the contamination, and they indicated that "everything that was found wrong was addressed in FDA guidance" published in 2009. Yet these flawed facility designs and processing techniques were both recommended by and rated as "superior" by the third-party auditor of Jensen Farms.
This finding revealed two major industry problem areas:
1. Failures in the industry's auditing system
As the letter states "The auditing failed in the case of the recent Listeria outbreak." These failures are itemized as the auditors:
- missing or failing to prioritize important food safety deficiencies
- lacking any regulatory authority and not reporting identified problems to any regulatory authority
- not ensuring that identified problems were resolved
- providing advance notice of site visits
- spending only a short period of time on-site
- multiple conflicts of interest
In defense, Jerry Walzel, the president of Bio Food Safety, Inc., the subcontractor hired by Primus Labs to conduct the Jensen Farms audit, stated that consistent with Primus Labs policy - the audits only deducted from the score if a method or technique was inconsistent with FDA regulations; they did not deduct from the score if FDA guidance was not being followed - which brings up the second major issue.
2. The perception of guidance vs. regulation
The auditors' findings were not based on the practices of the best farms and failed to ensure that the producer met FDA guidance.
I don't believe that Walzel's additional statement that "guidelines are opinions ... regulations are law" is indicative of the perception and practices followed by the industry and/or its auditors. But if that is a view, the consequence will herald the end of self-policing and ensure that all GMPs and guidance documents become regulation.
The issue of what to do about FDA guidance vs. regulations is not new. The fact that "one does not have to follow guidance" is true in a literal sense. But from a practical perspective, any company that does not follow FDA guidance is, quite frankly, looking for trouble. In fact, whether or not this is indicative of majority perception, the fact remains that it was unfortunately stated as defense in an outbreak that sickened 146 people in 28 states, killed 30, and caused a miscarriage; that an official of a leading auditing agency told the committee that his company "did not consider FDA guidance when conducting audits;" and that a processor with "serious design flaws" passed its audit with a 96 percent and no deficiencies noted or corrective action stated. Aside from the human tragedy associated with this outbreak, this report and the accompanying letter are another black eye for third-party audit systems. This is a sad reflection of a system that has much to add to food safety and public health. If not to assure food safety, what is the purpose of third-party audits on which so much of the industry depends?
Additionally, each of the Jensen Farm or third-party audit failures noted by the committee raises further question, the answers of which will impact the entire industry. For example, in noting the auditors' failure to report problems to regulatory authorities, the question to be asked is - If you are in a food plant and see an obvious Class I hazard, do you have an obligation to report it? Although FSMA Section 307, Accreditation of Third-Party Auditors, states that the results of a regulatory third-party audit are to determine if the facility can be certified, while the results of a consultative audit "are for internal purposes only," does the consultative auditor still hold a legal responsibility to report Class I hazards to FDA? This is a question to which there does not yet appear to be a clear answer, but has wide ranging implications if the answer is "yes."
It is through FSMA that Congress expects FDA to fix these failures. As the letter explains, FSMA requires that FDA establish an accreditation system and model auditing standards for third-party audits of imported foods. However, the standards are expected to influence domestic audits as well, and the committee suggested that "FDA consider developing a voluntary model program for domestic auditors that could become the standard of care for third-party auditing programs in the United States."
We have to hope that the details will be clearly and comprehensively specified when the regulatory language of the section is published. And we should all hope that, for the sake of the food industry and the consumer, that the setting of robust standards for these foreign audits - and auditors, will put third-party audits in a good light and not become a source of constant criticism and doubt. There are already some robust third-party audit programs, but those who are looking for problems don't differentiate the good from the bad, and thus Congressional focus, such as happened recently, is nothing but damaging to a system that has great capacity to protect both brands and public health.

FDA Warned on Dangers of Salt Restriction
Source :
By .Kimberly Hartke ( Jan 24, 2012)
The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) has warned the FDA that plans for salt restriction pose a health threat to Americans of all ages, in comments submitted to the agency yesterday.
The Weston A. Price Foundation is a non-profit nutrition education foundation dedicated to accurate scientific information about diet and health. Last year, WAPF led the criticism of the USDA 2010 dietary guidelines.
WAPF noted that by entitling their document "Approaches to Reducing Sodium Consumption," the FDA has signaled that it has already decided that Americans' sodium consumption should be reduced. But neither history nor the scientific evidence support this approach.
"A study from 1991 indicates that people need about one and one-half teaspoons of salt per day," says Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation. "Anything less triggers a cascade of hormones to recuperate sodium from the waste stream, hormones that make people vulnerable to heart disease and kidney problems. This is proven biochemistry. Yet, FDA as well as USDA want to mandate drastically restricted sodium consumption at about one-half teaspoon per day."
WAPF testimony noted that salt plays a critical role in body physiology and brain function. In the elderly, lack of salt is associated with increased hip fractures and cognitive decline; low salt diets in growing children predisposes to poor neurological development.
Proposals to restrict salt cite benefits to hypertension. But only 30 percent of the population experiences a slight reduction in blood pressure on a salt restricted diet, while 70 percent show no benefit.
"These statistics don't justify a population-wide policy of salt reduction," says Fallon Morell
Recent studies show a correlation of salt restriction with increased heart failure and with insulin resistance leading to diabetes. Studies show that even modest reductions in salt cause an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Higher incidence of inflammatory markers and altered lipoproteins are also found by researchers evaluating those on salt reduced diets. These factors are precursors to metabolic syndrome, which predicts heart problems and diabetes.
Both sodium and chloride, the components of salt, are needed for digestion. These elements form the basis of cellular metabolism and our only source of adequate intake is salt.
The Foundation also cautions the FDA that salt reductions will increase food safety risks. Salt is a traditional food preservation medium with an excellent track record. Artisan cheeses, preserved meats like salami and traditional pickled foods like sauerkraut require salt to prevent contamination by pathogens.
"Our biggest concern is that with FDA dictates against salt, manufacturers will add imitation salt flavors like Senomyx to processed foods," says Fallon Morell. "Marketed as a food, so it does not require testing, and added in amounts so small that is does not need to be labeled, this neurotropic compound can interfere with our natural taste for salt, leading to severe deficiencies. Or, people will become obese as they eat more and more, trying to satisfy the body's need for salt."

Jones' Seasoning recalls items on salmonella fears
Source :
By Ian Simpson (Jan, 24, 2012)
Jones' Seasoning Blends LLC said it was recalling its Mock Salt Original and Mock Salt Spicy Southwest Blend because of potential contamination by salmonella.
The voluntary recall was made because of possible salmonella contamination in celery seeds, the company said in a Monday statement on the Food and Drug Administration website.
The supplier of the celery seeds is recalling the product. No illnesses have been reported, Jones' Seasoning said.
The products were distributed to grocery stores and markets in California, Minnesota and Washington. They also were sold through Internet orders.
The recalled items are Jones' Mock Salt Original: Organic Salt Free Seasoning in 1.6-ounce bottles, 12-ounce bags and 16-ounce bags, and Jones' Mock Salt Spicy Southwest Blend: Organic Salt Free Seasoning in 1.6-ounce bottles.
Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.
Any products purchased from July 1, 2011, to December 14, 2011, should be destroyed, the company said.

High Levels of MRSA Found In Retail Meats
Source :
By admin(January 23, 2012)
Retail pork products in the United States have a higher prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (MRSA) than previously identified, according to a new study published in the journal PLoS ONE.
Researchers at the University of Iowa College of Public Health and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy collected 395 raw pork samples from 36 stores in Iowa, Minnesota and New Jersey. Of the samples, 26—or about 7%—tested positive for MRSA. The study also found no significant difference in MRSA contamination between conventional pork products and those raised without antibiotics or antibiotic growth promotants.
"This study shows that the meat we buy in our grocery stores has a higher prevalence of staph than we originally thought," said lead study author Tara Smith, Ph.D., interim director of the UI Center for Emerging and Infectious Diseases and assistant professor of epidemiology. "With this knowledge, we can start to recommend safer ways to handle raw meat products to make it safer for the consumer."
The researchers said they were surprised to see no significant difference in antibiotic-free and conventionally produced pork, adding though it's possible that this finding has more to do with the handling of the raw meat at the plant than the way the animals were raised, it's certainly worth exploring further.

Walmart expert: Food safety is a 'shared responsibility'
Source :
By Caroline Scott-Thomas(Jan 24, 2012)
Today’s complex and interdependent food supply chain makes food safety a shared responsibility more than ever before, according to vice president of food safety at Walmart Frank Yiannas.
Speaking with FoodNavigator-USA ahead of the Global Food Safety Conference in Orlando next month, Yiannas, who is also chairing the conference, outlined some of the steps that Walmart has taken to address food safety with an increasingly global supply chain, and some of the major food safety issues facing industry as a whole.
Collaboration is critical, he says.
“Today, the way we get our food from farm to fork, the food system, has become increasingly complex and interdependent on many different stakeholder groups,” Yiannas said. “Moreover, food safety regulatory oversight in the United States remains a patchwork of federal, state, and local responsibility. More than at any other time in human history, food safety is a shared responsibility.”
Yiannas is due to discuss this idea of collaboration in a presentation at the upcoming conference, alongside experts from other parts of the food supply chain.
“It is difficult to overstate the difference in our food system today compared to just a century ago, when many of our food safety approaches were first being developed,” he said. “…Today's food system requires more interdependence on multiple stakeholder groups than ever before… Manufacturers alone can't do it. Retailers alone can't produce safe food. Neither can regulatory officials, nor consumers.”
What’s Walmart’s approach?
Yiannas gives the example of a new beef safety initiative launched by Walmart in 2010. The company met with beef suppliers, regulatory officials, academics and consumer groups to make sure its new safety requirements reflected a diverse set of expert opinions and views, he said.
The company adopted the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) model back in 2007, along with other global retailers.
“In 2007, as we looked at the changing world around us and the fact that the food supply was becoming more global, there was an increasing number of food safety incidents that were affecting consumer trust… Rather than requiring our own food standard, we would all recognize any of the GFSI benchmarked standards. Since that time, there has been growing acceptance of GFSI among manufacturers, retailers, foodservice, and regulatory bodies with literally tens of thousands certifications being issued around the world,” he said.
Yiannas added that the Food Safety Modernization Act’s emphasis on documented preventative control plans aligns well with the GFSI approach, as both require a thoroughly documented food safety management system.
The Global Food Safety Conference is due to be held in Orlando, Florida from February 15-17. More information about the conference is available online here .

An Open Letter to the U.S. CDC
Source :
By Phyllis Entis (Jan 23, 2012)
Last week, CDC released two "Final Update" reports on Salmonella outbreak investigations within a 48-hour period.
The first report, released on January 17th, summarized the results of an investigation into a 10-month long outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium associated with exposure to clinical and teaching microbiology laboratories. The second report, released on January 19th, presented the results of an investigation into a 2-month long multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections linked to a restaurant chain.
These two outbreaks had very little in common with each other; the outbreak settings were different, the scope and duration of the outbreaks were different, and the source of the infections was different. Nevertheless, the two outbreaks have one very important thing in common.
CDC, in conjunction with at least some of its public health partners at the state and local level, has chosen to withhold important information from the public.
What information has CDC withheld, and why should this information be released? Here is a list of questions that I sent to my media contact at CDC on January 18th, the day after the Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak report was released.
Is there a specific reason why CDC is not specifying the identity of the commercial strain of Salmonella Typhimurium that is associated with this outbreak (by the ATCC or NCTC strain number - not the commercial supplier)? Can you provide me with the strain number ID?
Does CDC have any hypothesis as to the trigger for this outbreak? Most of the commercial strains have been in use in various labs for many years. What may have happened to initiate the increase in cases? What determined the start date? With a baseline rate for the outbreak strain of 0 to 4 reports/week, how were the start and ending date established for this outbreak?
Were the outbreak cases all tied to the same commercial source of the S. Typhimurium "Strain X"?
Were the outbreak cases tied to the use of a specific format of the commercial source (for example, Bacti-discs or pre-filled inoculation loops)?
Have any cases involving this same strain been reported to CDC since the last "outbreak" case on June 29, 2011? If so, how has CDC differentiated those cases from the outbreak cases (keeping in mind the baseline of 0-4 cases per week mentioned in the CDC report).
Were the bulk of the cases linked to student labs or to clinical labs?
To these questions, I would now add, "Were the clinical lab cases tied mainly to in-hospital labs, or to free-standing commercial clinical labs? If the latter, was any single commercial lab chain disproportionately involved?"
When the Salmonella Enteritidis restaurant chain outbreak report hit the internet, I again contacted my CDC media liaison and asked, "Can you please explain why CDC has not revealed the name of the restaurant chain implicated in the above-mentioned outbreak? Even better, can you identify the chain by name?"
I realize that both outbreaks are "over" and that at least some of this information now is academic. Nevertheless, I question CDC's actions in withholding information that could influence purchasing decisions on the part of consumers and of medical and lab professionals.
CDC reported on January 19th that Restaurant Chain A's handling and cooking processes likely ruled out ground beef as a source of the Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak. This is favorable to the restaurant chain, and would give consumers comfort that the restaurants belonging to this fast food chain are following appropriate food-handling procedures--if only CDC had released the name of the chain.
As for the lab-related outbreak, if I was still running a microbiology lab, I would certainly want to know whether a specific packaging or format of commercially available control culture was more prone to contaminating the lab surroundings than others. I would opt to avoid this format, if I had the information and the choice. Likewise, as a medical doctor, I would opt to avoid a commercial clinical lab chain that was prone to in-lab contamination.
If either of these outbreaks had been traced to a specific packaged food, the offending food would have been named. There is no logical reason for restaurant-linked outbreaks to be handled differently. There is no logical reason for a lab-related outbreak to be handled differently.
I would appreciate receiving substantive answers to my questions.
Sincerely yours,
Phyllis Entis, MSc., SM(NRCM)

Life under the Food Safety Modernization Act: Tracing, tracking and brand protection
Source :
By Caroline Scott-Thomas (Jan 23, 2012)
The ability to track and trace ingredients is likely to be a major focus for food manufacturers as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is rolled out – but the most important consideration for companies is brand reputation, according to a FSMA specialist at ADT Security Services.
“It’s all about brand protection,” said Don Hsieh, director of commercial and industrial marketing with ADT Security Services, and the leading expert on FSMA for the firm’s food defense program. He stressed that while companies need to ensure they are in compliance with the law, the most important element of compliance is protecting their brands.
Already unveiled is a focus on better food and ingredient tracing under FSMA, with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) developing two product tracing pilot programs under the new law.
“[Government authorities] will be wanting to ensure companies can track and trace,” Hsieh said. “…They may not say that companies have to use particular technologies but companies may want to look at GPS, for example, and other technologies to allow more real time tracking”
Often companies only track goods at certain contact points, such as when an ingredient leaves a warehouse and when it arrives at the manufacturing plant, for example. But with hundreds of thousands of food facilities and millions of trucks on the road, Hsieh said that manufacturers may want to have more information about where ingredients are on each stage of their journey.
“The real key is do they have the intelligence to act on the information? The thing that’s striking about the food industry is how large and long the supply chain is…If you look at that there are a lot of points of vulnerability. So companies need to ask, how can I protect myself?”
He said that there might be some very specific changes required under FSMA, such as specific documentation, so much of what the government will be looking for in terms of compliance could be focused on verification.
For example, food manufacturers generally do a good job of controlling certain sensitive areas for employee-only access, but they may need to ensure these controls are in place along the entire supply chain, he said. And imported food is also likely to be a focus area of FSMA, so supplier verification is an increasingly important consideration, whether carried out by manufacturers’ own employees, or by third-party auditors.
“I don’t think the government will be prescriptive in terms of the types of technologies companies use,” he said. “…The important thing is that it has elevated the importance of food safety, but the specific guidelines are still being rolled out. We are in a preparation phase.”

More orange juice imports deemed safe by FDA fungicide tests
Source :
By Maggie Shader (Jan 20, 2012)
After fungicide was discovered in orange juice products from Brazil, the Food and Drug Administration blocked orange juice product imports, so that it could test for the fungicide carbendazim, which studies have linked to a higher risk of liver tumors in animals.
The FDA reported today that of the 45 import samples the FDA has collected, 19 have thus far been found to be safe, and 12 of those have been released. The samples that passed FDA testing were from Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Mexico. The remaining 26 samples are pending analysis or are under compliance review.
The FDA said previously that for their current tests, if levels of carbendazim are greater than 10 parts per billion they will destroy the orange juice products or return them to the country of origin.
Although carbendazim is approved for use in other countries, in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency has not approved it for use on oranges.
As for domestic sampling, the FDA has collected 14 samples and these are currently being processed at the government agency's labs.
About 11 percent of the orange juice consumed in the U.S. is from Brazil, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Fungicides are chemical compounds or biological organisms used to kill or inhibit fungi or fungal spores that can damage agriculture.
It was originally the Coca Cola Company, owner of the Minute Maid brand, that alerted the FDA that their orange juice and that of their competitors carried residues of the chemical. Coca Cola was legally required to come forward, under the 2008 Amendments to the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act creating a Reportable Food Registry.

Health Department Tracks Norovirus Outbreak in Pitt County
Source :
By Valentina Wilson (Jan 27, 2012)
Health officials are following an outbreak of a gastrointestinal virus in one local county.
The Pitt County Health Department has confirmed a norovirus outbreak in at least one facility in the county. The Health Department is investigating reports of similar illnesses at other facilities. The NC Division of Public Health also reports numerous norovirus outbreaks recently across the state.
Symptoms of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and sometimes low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and tiredness. It is a very common illness in the winter and spreads very easily from person to person.
Norovirus is usually not a serious illness, and most people get better within a few days.

The inactivation of Salmonella on cantaloupes using hot water
Source :
By foodsafeguru (Jan 26, 2012)
The use of hot water as a method to decontaminate cantaloupe is more effective than various other washing and physical treatments tested to date.
The work presented in a USDA article demonstrates the utility of surface pasteurization to greatly reduce levels of Salmonella from the surfaces of cantaloupes.
In addition, heat penetration analysis coupled with computer simulation of heat transfer indicates that the edible portions of cantaloupes remain cool while the temperature of the rind outer surface elevates rapidly.
This is an added benefit to the use of hot water surface pasteurization. Experiments are currently under way to examine the quality and shelf life of melons exposed to various thermal treatments.
For the entire article the link is:

Food Safety News: No Raw Milk Link, No Brucellosis in Massachusetts
Source :
by Bill Marler (Jan 26, 2012)
Food Safety News reports, a Massachusetts resident who first tested positive for brucellosis has now been confirmed to not have the infection, according to an email from the assistant commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR).
"While initial test results did show up positive, further, more specific and accurate testing by the CDC confirmed that the person does not have brucellosis," Nathan L'Etoile wrote in the message forwarded by the NOFA/Massachusetts Raw Milk Network.
As a result, the MDAR "will be rescinding the Cease and Desist from the sale of Raw Milk" order that had been issued in the state last week, the email stated.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), in an email, also confirmed that "the patient did test negative for brucellosis. The milk and the cows also tested negative for any brucellosis bacteria. Neither DPH or DAR have any health concerns at this time."
On Jan. 20, the MDAR and the DPH issued a consumer alert for raw milk from Twin Rivers Farm in Ashley Falls, MA "due to the possibility of raw milk being contaminated with Brucella."
That earlier news release stated, in part: "This investigation is being conducted in response to a suspected human case, following an individual's contact with this farm. The presence of Brucella in raw milk represents a significant danger to public health."
In his email Thursday, L'Etoile wrote, "All in all this has been a trying experience, but the cooperation and willingness to take the steps needed by MDAR, DPH, USDA and most importantly the farmer has helped immensely."

Rapper DMX hit with food poisoning, self-diagnosed with 'eating some bad shrimp'
Source :
By Ben Chapman (Jan 26, 2012)
When I was in my third year of undergrad I signed up to be a Residence Assistant (for the second time). The first time around I was a bit of a stickler for rules and felt like I was supposed to enforce the law. By my second experience, I mellowed and I learned that my job was to make sure that the students in my section didn’t kill themselves or each other.
That second year, some of the more colorful students I lived with had an unhealthy love of hip-hop artist DMX’s song  Party Up (Up in Here). I probably heard that song 500 times as I walked through the hall during those 8 months.
Totally unrelated to the overplaying of that song, according to TMZ, DMX was taken to a Charlotte NC area hospital after coming down with food poisoning after eating shellfish on a flight from Miami.
According to DMX, he had some “bad shrimp” at his baby mama’s house in Miami before he got on a plane — commercial — and then spent most of the flight tossing his cookies in the lavatory.
X tells us … as soon as he touched down he went to Gastonia Memorial Hospital outside of Charlotte … by limousine. Puking, but still balling!!
X spent about four hours in the emergency room getting treated for food poisoning, and then headed home.

County, state investigate illness of Harbor Inn diners
Source :
By Richard Gould (Jan 24, 2012)
Forty people have complained to officials at Catawba County Public Health that they got sick after eating a meal at Conover’s Harbor Inn Seafood restaurant.
One thing the victims have in common is that they ate at Harbor Inn on Jan. 13.
Health officials are working to determine what the illness is and what caused it, said Catawba County Public Health Outreach Manager Amy McCauley
The first complaints came in on Jan. 17. As of Monday, 40 cases had been reported. None have required hospitalization, said Catawba County Health Director Doug Urland.
“Our Environmental Health workers have been to the restaurant almost every day to investigate and educate the staff about proper food handling techniques and to make sure they are stringent about safe food handling techniques,” McCauley said.
George Ziogas owns the Conover Harbor Inn and said he has no idea why some of his customers got sick following their Friday the 13th meal.
“The Health Department came in and they could not find anything. All of the food temperatures were OK. All of the salad bar temperatures were OK,” he said. “We’ve been open for 23 years and we’ve never had a problem.”
Recent inspection results have given Harbor Inn consistently high marks.
The most recent inspection came on Dec. 29 and Harbor Inn got an A with a score of 99.5. Three months earlier the restaurant scored 99.5. In June, Harbor Inn earned a 100.5.
“I want people to know we’re going to be here a long time – we’re not going anywhere – we’ve been here 23 years and this was a one-time incident,” Ziogas said.
The restaurant’s roadside sign has been taken down and is being updated, but Harbor Inn is still open and customers are still enjoying their meals.
“I eat here all the time and I like the food – if I didn’t, I wouldn’t come back,” said Cora Greene, of Mountain View, on Tuesday, after sharing a meal of whitefish with her son. “This can happen anyplace, but I’ve never gotten sick. I’ll be back.”
Getting to the bottom of illness’s cause
Health officials are working to identify the mysterious illness and its cause, but won’t speculate on what it may be.
On Friday, Catawba County Public Health began distributing stool sample kits to the victims of the illness at the request of the North Carolina Division of Public Health. The people complaining of illnesses related to Harbor Inn meals have been instructed to use the kit and return it to Catawba County Public Health, which will then send the kits to the state lab for testing.
It takes about a week to process the tests, and it won’t be clear what’s been making people sick until the results are in.
None of the distributed kits had been returned to Catawba County Public Health as of Tuesday, McCauley said.
The symptoms associated with the Harbor Inn outbreak are intense nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The onset came within 12 to 24 hours following the Jan. 13 meal and lasted from 24 to 36 hours for most of the victims, according to reports from Catawba County Public Health.
Anyone who has fallen ill after a recent meal at Harbor Inn Seafood is asked to call Catawba County Public Health at 695-5800.
Those suffering from suspected food-related illnesses contracted following meals at any other Catwaba County restaurants are advised to seek medical care than contact Catawba County Environmental Health at 465-8258

Class action filed against Australian bakery that sickened 22 with salmonella; 'I won't use commercial mayo, it's foul'
Source :
By Doug Powell (Jan 24, 2012 )
Maybe a legal jolt will prod Australians out of food safety complacency, but that’s especially challenging in a politico town like the national capital, Canberra.
ABC News reports 10 people are taking legal action against a Canberra bakery after allegedly contracting food poisoning.
Silo Bakery at Kingston was forced to shut for three days in December after ACT Health detected salmonella in mayonnaise used in a chicken roll.
It is believed raw egg in the mayonnaise was to blame for the salmonella outbreak which allegedly affected more than a dozen people.
Gerard Rees from Slater and Gordon in Canberra says some of those who were affected are seeking compensation for pain and suffering induced by the allegedly spoiled sandwiches.
"For five or six of the individuals I understand it ended up in hospital and a couple for relatively lengthy periods of time, weeks rather than days. So obviously people who were seriously affected would be entitled to far greater compensation for general damages or pain and suffering. Those who were off work as a result would be entitled to receive compensation for the time off that they had and if they had medical expenses they're entitled to compensation for the medical expenses they're paid as a direct result of the poisoning.
"What'll happen is we're investigating a claim in negligence. The claim will allege that Silo bakery was negligent in the way it stored and prepared the food. There is an ACT Health investigation underway as well that is looking into this. What we will do is look at each case individually."
At least 22 people were sickened with salmonella in Dec. at the Canberra bakery. In the aftermath of the outbreak, Silo co-owner Leanne Gray said officials have advised buying commercial mayonnaise or using pasteurized eggs. Her response: “That's the foulest thing you've ever seen, so I said no, I won't.''
A table of raw-egg related outbreaks in Australia is available at

Who Is Restaurant Chain A? Maybe It's Not Taco Bell
Source :
By Dan Flynn (Jan 24, 2012)
In a crisis communication training exercise a few years ago, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made "table top" emergency decisions about what to do if the agency became involved in such high-risk situations as the Virginia Tech shooting, a flu vaccine shortage, an Adenovirus outbreak, and an erroneous announcement that happened to involve Taco Bell.
In that crisis communication exercise, CDC's challenge was what to do when one newspaper and one radio news station reported that Taco Bell restaurants had been ordered to close, when in fact they'd only been ordered to remove and dispose of food items from locations in one state.  CDC called for participants to take actions that would allay public concerns, mitigate risks of the outbreak, and provide timely and accurate information to the public. 
Four years later, the Atlanta-based agency is apparently still leery about naming Taco Bell or any other "Mexican style" restaurant chain in connection with a 10-state Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak that left 68 people infected last October and November.
The outbreak primarily centered on Texas and Oklahoma, where 59 of the confirmed Salmonella cases that surfaced in a matter of weeks went unreported at the time.  No public health warnings were issued, and investigators from the CDC were unable to pinpoint the source of the Salmonella contamination.
CDC's final report on the mystery outbreak only named "Restaurant Chain A" as the source. When it did that in August 2010 for multistate outbreaks of Salmonella Hartford and Salmonella Baildon, it later acknowledged those outbreaks involved Taco Bell.
This time, however, CDC has done a better job of circling the wagons.  "We are not providing restaurant names," Texas Department of Health spokesman Carrie Williams told Food Safety News.  The Lone Star State recorded 43 confirmed cases of Salmonella Enteritidis in this latest outbreak.
Food Safety News also invited someone from the 5,800-unit Taco Bell chain to comment directly, but did not get any response to inquiries.  Then, reporters followed up with other states with reported illnesses.
In Oklahoma, Food Safety News asked for a copy of the state's report; Oklahomans accounted for 16 Salmonella illnesses.   In the rest of the states identified by the CDC as reporting outbreak victims--all with only one case each, except for Kansas, which had two--we first had to find someone who'd heard of the outbreak.
A Kansas epidemiologist transferred Food Safety News to someone in infectious diseases.  Our reporter was then transferred back to epidemiology.  The call rang through and later went to voice mail.
Iowa did not want to release any information.  Michigan did not know anything.  Missouri passed our messages along to someone they said might know something.
Nebraska said it was not the health department's place to release the name of "Restaurant A" since the agency was involved only "peripherally" and the main investigators from the CDC are not releasing it.
We learned the state of New Mexico's only case was someone who'd been traveling, as the state does not have a "Restaurant A."   Would he tell us the name of a restaurant not even doing business in New Mexico?  No.
But New Mexico provided a possible clue.  It pointed us away from Taco Bell, which has many outlets in New Mexico, to other Mexican-style or Tex-Mex style restaurants, and maybe not just fast food restaurants, but ones with table service.
Moving on, we talked to many people at Ohio Health.  None had heard of the Salmonella outbreak.  We left a voice message with the state epidemiologist.
Our experience with Tennessee was the same, so we left a message with the state epidemiologist.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not have anything to contribute and CDC has been silent since issuing the report on Jan. 19.
The surprise is not so much that public health officials do not want to name the restaurant chain involved, but that no one wants to talk about the outbreak at all.  
Roy Costa, who owns Deland, Florida-based Environ Health Associates Inc., says it's "a tough one" and there are "many different takes on this."   Costa says he does not think CDC has an opinion they've shared with health departments on "how to handle each and every case."
He also thinks different pathogens dictate differing public information strategies.  "Clearly, with Hepatitis A, because of the treatment available and long incubation and relatively severe effect, most HD's will go public," Costa says.  They may not, though, when they are too far into the incubation period or think that the transmission potential is low.
Costa, who is a frequent contributor to Food Safety News, says once investigators have an environmental test or other clinical evidence, "they are more inclined to stretch."  Sick employees, however, also always mean naming businesses involved in an outbreak.
Salmonella Enteritidis is so common that it can be difficult for states with even the best surveillance to sort it out.  Costa says 59 cases of Salmonella Enteritidis just might not stand out--especially if they're scattered across the state.   A cluster at one or two restaurants would stand, he says.
Bill Marler, the food safety attorney who publishes Food Safety News, sees it a bit differently. "My thought is that consumers have a right to know who sickened them specifically and the general public has the same right to have information to make choices where they spend their money," he wrote on his personal Blog on Monday.
As we search for more information about this outbreak, we will do our best to follow the CDC's own advice and provide timely and accurate information for the public.

Belgian baby formula-linked Salmonella outbreak sickens 16 in Russia
Source :
By Mark Astley(Jan 24, 2012)
Tainted powdered milk formula from Belgium has been recalled in Russia after more than a dozen babies were struck down with Salmonellosis.
The Russian food safety authority, Rospotrebnadzor, has initiated a recall and officials in Belgium have completed an investigation at a Belgian processing plant after being notified of the outbreak.
One 19 tonne batch has been identified as the potential source of the outbreak – 3 tonnes of which was sent to several developing countries. A statement published on the Rospotrebnadzor website directly identified Belgium-based milk formula specialist FASSKA as the manufacturer under question. approached FASSKA for comment, but they declined to comment.
A total of 16 people have been struck down with Salmonellosis including 13 children aged between two weeks and seven months, according to Rospotrebnadzor. One child aged four and two adults in their twenties have also been infected.
Belgian investigation
In an official statement from Rospotrebnadzor, printed on its website, the agency identified Belgium-based FASSKA as the manufacturer of the product being linked to the outbreak. The statement, which has been translated from Russia said: At the present time to ascertain objective information about the incident and minimise the negative effects, we have been instructed by the Russian Federation to take appropriate steps to identify this product in our country.”
The Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) began an investigation after being informed about the likely contamination of milk powder with Salmonella Oranienburg in the north of Russia.
The FASFC immediately began an investigation which centred on a Belgian producer – identified as FASSKA.
“According to the spokesman of a local agency for food safety, the milk powder that caused the contamination originated from Belgium,” said a FASFC statement sent to “As a result of that inquiry it appears that only one batch of 19 tonnes was concerned.” “From this batch 16 tonnes were sent to Russia in January, 2011. The remaining three tonnes were mixed with other batches and sent to certain third-world countries.”
RASFF alert
According to a RASFF alert associated with the outbreak, the product was also distributed to Haiti, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Congo-Brazzaville (Republic of Congo).
“The concerned countries have already been informed by Belgium via the RASFF-system. No product at all from this batch has been delivered in Europe, and thus not in Belgium.” “As a result of the controls performed by the FASFC in the producing plant, all measures were taken in order to avoid another incident.”

JKS Wholesale issues allergy alert on undeclared milk allergens In 'Torta de Pan'
Source :
By AHN Staff(Jan 23, 2012)
Wholesale SVCS Inc., of Beltsville, Maryland, is recalling its 16-ounce packages of "Torta de Pan" because they may contain undeclared milk allergens. People who have allergies to milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product. The product was packaged in a 16-ounce clear plastic bag and was distributed to supermarkets and delis in Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and New York. No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem. The recall was initiated after a New York state Department of Agriculture and Markets laboratory analysis revealed that the product contained undeclared milk allergens. JKS Wholesale has worked with the bakery to correct the label but out of an abundance of caution is advising consumers who purchased the "Torta de Pan" with date codes 02/15/12 and before that the product does not declare milk. The company has removed all affected product from stores and replaced it with correctly labeled product. If consumers have any affected product they should discard it and contact JKS Wholesale between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at 571-265-8991 or 516-610-5710.

Twin Rivers Farm Raw Milk ("Possibly") Linked to Brucella Illness
Source :
By Bill Marler (Jan 20, 2012)
My dear friend, David Gumpert ("The Pope of Raw Milk"), suggested that I may have jumped the gun on linking Twin Rivers Farm raw milk to the Brucella illness. Mixed into his typical lawyer bashing and incorrect suggestions about why I do what I do, I certainly can concede his point that the Brucella illness might well be linked to other farm-related practices. So, despite the health department's suggestion to discard the milk due to the risk, I have added "Possibly" to the headline. I hope that satidfies the "Holy See." The Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued a consumer alert on Friday after learning that a local farm's raw milk could be contaminated with Brucella. Brucellosis, also called Bang's disease, Crimean fever, Gibraltar fever, Malta fever, Maltese fever, Mediterranean fever, rock fever, or undulant fever, is a highly contagious zoonosis caused by ingestion of unpasteurized milk or meat from infected animals or close contact with their secretions. Twin River Farm in Ashley Falls is the subject of a DPH investigation after a suspected human case was reported by an individual who had contact with the farm. According to the DPH, Brucellosis is a bacterial infection that can cause flu-like symptoms including sweats, headache, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and back pains. In some cases, the infection can cause long-lasting and chronic symptoms. Adults are more likely to fall seriously ill than children. Twin Rivers Farm milk is not sold in retail stores and the advisory does not apply to pasteurized milk. Anyone who has purchased raw milk from the farm is advised to discard it. Those who have consumed it are told to seek medical attention and contact their local board of health. Raw milk containers from Twin River will have the following information on them: Twin Rivers Farm ?PO Box 408 Ashley Falls, MA

The "Mexican-style fast food Restaurant Chain A" linked to two 2010 Salmonella Outbreaks was Taco Bell. Who is it this year?
Source :
By Bill Marler (Jan 21, 2012)
Seriously, which “Mexican-style fast food restaurant chain, Restaurant Chain A” has restaurants in all these states?
As the CDC reported as of January 19, 2012, a total of 68 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis have been reported from 10 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state with the outbreak strain was as follows: Texas (43), Oklahoma (16), Kansas (2), Iowa (1), Michigan (1), Missouri (1), Nebraska (1), New Mexico (1), Ohio (1), and Tennessee (1).  Also according to the CDC, collaborative investigative efforts of state, local, and federal public health agencies indicated that eating food from a “Mexican-style fast food restaurant chain, Restaurant Chain A,” was associated with some illnesses.  The mystery restaurant was not named.
Eerily familiar were two Salmonella Outbreaks reported by the CDC on August 1, 2010.  One, a total of 75 individuals infected with a matching strain of Salmonella Hartford were reported from 15 states since April 1, 2010. The number of ill people identified in each state with this strain is as follows: CO (1), FL (1), GA (1), IL (5), IN (11), KY (23), MA (2), MI (3), MT (1), NC (1), NH (1), NY (1), OH (19), PA (1), and WI (4).  The other a total of 80 individuals infected with a matching strain of Salmonella Baildon were reported from 15 states since May 1, 2010. The number of ill people identified in each state with this strain is as follows: CT (1), GA (1), IA (1), IL (20), IN (4), KY (5), MA (1), MI (4), MN (5), NJ (6), NY (2), OH (6), OR (1), WA (1) and WI (22).  According to the CDC, an analysis indicated that eating at a “Mexican-style fast food Restaurant Chain A” was associated with illness.  Within a few days, Taco Bell, a “Mexican-style fast food restaurant” was identified by Food Safety News and others.
So, how long until the “Mexican-style fast food restaurant” is identified?  And, more importantly, why was it not disclosed in the first place?
Dear Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, and Tennessee Departments of Health:
With respect to the recent CDC report involving a Salmonella Outbreak linked to “Mexican-style fast food restaurant chain, Restaurant Chain A” (, can you tell me the identity of the restaurant?  If not, can you explain the Department of Public Health’s rationale for non-disclosure?
I wonder if public health officials would have identified the actual restaurant (McDonalds) in the below 1982 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak if the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak would have happened?
Hemorrhagic colitis associated with a rare Escherichia coli serotype.  N Engl J Med. 1983 Mar 24; 308 (12): 681-5. Riley LW, Remis RS, Helgerson SD, McGee HB, Wells JG, Davis BR, Hebert RJ, Olcott ES, Johnson LM, Hargrett NT, Blake PA, Cohen ML.
We investigated two outbreaks of an unusual gastrointestinal illness that affected at least 47 people in Oregon and Michigan in February through March and May through June 1982. The illness was characterized by severe crampy abdominal pain, initially watery diarrhea followed by grossly bloody diarrhea, and little or no fever. It was associated with eating at restaurants belonging to the same fast-food restaurant chain in Oregon (P less than 0.005) and Michigan (P = 0.0005) and with eating any of three sandwiches containing three ingredients in common (beef patty, rehydrated onions, and pickles). Stool cultures did not yield previously recognized pathogens. However, a rare Escherichia coli serotype, O157:H7, that was not invasive or toxigenic by standard tests was isolated from 9 of 12 stools collected within four days of onset of illness in both outbreaks combined, and from a beef patty from a suspected lot of meat in Michigan. The only known previous isolation of this serotype was from a sporadic case of hemorrhagic colitis in 1975. This report describes a clinically distinctive gastrointestinal illness associated with E. coli O157:H7, apparently transmitted by undercooked meat.

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