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CDC Criticized For Outbreak Reporting Policy
Source :
By Shawn Stevens (Feb 02, 2012)
Government health agencies have come under fire in recent days for the manner in which they conducted a recent foodborne illness investigation.
The CDC, in the final report of the outbreak, was criticized for referring only to a "Chain A" when describing a company that likely had been supplied with contaminated product, likely produce. The outbreak, and any possible attendant risk to public health, had ended by the time the report was published. The CDC determined that the contamination likely occurred before the product ever reached the restaurants.
Investigative efforts were unable to identify a specific food associated with illness, but data indicate that contamination likely occurred before the product reached Restaurant Chain A locations.
This outbreak now appears to be over.

Despite the reported unlikelihood of any possible additional risk, many are accusing the CDC of jeopardizing the public health by not identifying "Chain A."
A Seattle-based plaintiffs' food safety attorney has been leading the charge against the unnamed company, the FDA and the CDC. His complaints stem from CDC's decision not to disclose the identity of the restaurant chain. It is his contention that "the public has a right to know and to use the information as it sees fit, and people – especially government employees – have no right to decide what we should and should not know."
CDC's policy, according to Robert Tauxe, is to disclose the identity of an outbreak source "only when people can use that information to take specific action to protect their health." While some decry the policy, it is in place to promote cooperation between governmental health agencies and companies that may be associated with illnesses.
On the one hand, cooperation between agencies and business during the course of an outbreak is critical. The most important thing, I think we can all agree, is to protect public health in the event of an ongoing outbreak. In the event that public health is at risk, CDC and FDA release the names of companies and the potentially implicated products.
Without cooperation, however, CDC investigators worry that it will take longer to identify the source of outbreaks, potentially resulting in unnecessary illnesses. Thus, if an outbreak is over, current policy is not to name the offending company. Often, as in this case, it is a supplier who provided the contaminated product and not the restaurant itself.
In the end, CDC is not interested in blaming or punishing. Their job is to protect the public from health hazards and they feel they can better accomplish that by not revealing the names of companies who received contaminated products.
Others, however, take the position that it is a consumer's right to know if a restaurant is associated with an outbreak, even after it is over. They argue that, when it comes to public health, it is not for the government to decide what information people should and should not have access to.
In the case of the outbreak at issue, the investigation revealed:
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.
CDC and FDA do the best they can with the resources they have. Their investigation showed a statistical association between the outbreak and the restaurant chain. The restaurant chain, in turn, did all it could to assist the CDC in determining the root source. This cooperation is reflected in the CDC report:
Restaurant Chain A, as well as their food suppliers and distributors, were very cooperative in providing extensive information to public health officials as various leads were explored.
Unfortunately, notwithstanding its best efforts, the CDC was unable to trace the illnesses back to a single product. Tracing microscopic bacteria to a single source can in some cases be very challenging. But to accuse the CDC of colluding to make people sick because it didn't reveal the name of a company that may itself have been a victim of the outbreak is inappropriate.
Both the restaurant chain and the agencies involved in investigating the outbreak deserve to be praised for their cooperation in trying to determine the source of this outbreak. The chain at issue did not contaminate the food, it arrived that way. As such, there is absolutely no reason to openly criticize the company, especially in light of its own efforts to help CDC and FDA prevent further illness.
Here is a link to the CDC report: I think it is actually rather impressive.

New bill would limit arsenic and lead in juices
Source :
By Maggie Shader(Feb 8, 2012)
A House bill introduced today aims to limit levels of arsenic and lead in fruit juices. When the bill was announced, the sponsors cited Consumer Reports' investigation into the issue, which found high levels of arsenic and lead in the juices we tested.
While federal limits exist for arsenic and lead levels allowed in bottled and public drinking water, there are no limits defined for juices, a mainstay of many children's diets, putting them at unnecessary risk for serious health problems, including several forms of cancer.
The proposed Apple-Juice Act of 2012 was introduced by Congressman Frank Pallone Jr., (D-NJ) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and calls on the Food and Drug Administration to establish standards for arsenic and lead in fruit juices in two years time.
For our investigative report, we tested 88 samples of apple juice and grape juice for lead and arsenic. We found that roughly 10 percent of the samples, from five brands, had total arsenic levels that exceeded federal drinking-water standards of 10 parts per billion (ppb) and 25 percent of the samples had lead levels higher than the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) bottled-water limit of 5 ppb. Most of the arsenic detected in Consumer Reports' tests was a type known as inorganic, a human carcinogen.
Based on our juice test results and other evidence from our investigation, Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, had previously urged the FDA to set a standard of 3 ppb for total arsenic and 5 ppb for lead in apple and grape juice. Consumers Union supports the proposed bill. "This bill will go a long way toward protecting the public, especially children, from exposure to these toxins," said Ami Gadhia, Senior Policy Counsel for Consumers Union.
For more information you can see our full report Arsenic in your juice: How much is too much? Federal limits don't exist, plus you can download a pdf of our complete test results, as well as watch our video below.
Controversy over arsenic in apple juice made headlines as the 2011 school year began when Mehmet Oz, M.D., host of "The Dr. Oz Show," told viewers that tests he'd commissioned found 10 of three dozen apple-juice samples with total arsenic levels exceeding 10 ppb. Around that time, the FDA reassured consumers about the safety of apple juice, claiming that most arsenic in juices and other foods is of the organic type and "essentially harmless."
The FDA has since revised information on its website to include the following: "Some scientific studies have shown that two forms of organic arsenic found in apple juice could also be harmful, and because of this, the FDA counts these two forms of organic arsenic in with the overall content for inorganic arsenic."

Sainsbury's changes food freezing advice in bid to cut food waste
Source :
By Rebecca Smithers (Feb 10, 2012)
Supermarket issues new guidance as part of a national initiative to change consumer attitudes to freezing food
Long-standing advice to consumers to freeze food on the day of purchase is to be changed by a leading supermarket chain, as part of a national initiative to further reduce food waste.
Brand new labelling on food products being rolled out in all Sainsbury's stores from Friday will instead advise customers to freeze food as soon as possible up to the product's 'use by' date.
The initiative is backed by the government's waste advisory body, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap), whose research shows that 60% of consumers believe food must be frozen on the day of purchase. Wrap estimates that changing the standard advice on all food products could help stop over-cautious shoppers from throwing away as much as 800,000 tonnes – £2bn – of perfectly good food every year.
Beth Hart, Sainsbury's head of product technology for fresh and frozen, said: "The 'freeze on day of purchase' advice needs to be changed as there is no food safety reason why it cannot be frozen at any point prior to the use-by date. As a large UK retailer, we have a responsibility to minimise food waste where possible and this new labelling will certainly help us do that."
Research from Sainsbury's shows that 62% of the UK regularly uses the freezer to lengthen the life of food. In a separate study by Wrap, only 21% of people interviewed had frozen food that was nearing its use by date during the past week. For this reason, it is hoped that the new labelling, which has been drawn up in consultation with Wrap, will help to change consumer behaviour.
Wrap figures show that UK households waste around 7.2m tonnes of food and drink every year, most of which could have been eaten. This is estimated to costs families up to £50 a month.
Andrew Parry, consumer food waste prevention manager at Wrap, said: "Changing the guidance to freeze before the use by date is a welcome move. Now we can all look in our fridges and know that we can freeze most items which are about to go out of date and enjoy them at a later time. In doing so we can expect to reduce the amount of out of date food we throw away, which will in turn save us all money."
Bob Martin, food safety expert at the Food Standards Agency, said: "Freezing after the day of purchase shouldn't pose a food safety risk as long as food has been stored in accordance with any instructions provided. The most important thing is to freeze food before its use by date as that is the only date that relates to food safety. Our advice continues to be to follow the use by date and treat all other dates more flexibly. Any initiatives such as this, to help reduce food waste, should be welcomed as long as food safety isn't compromised."

World Consumers Doubtful About Food Safety, UL Study Finds
by Dan Flynn (Feb 08, 2012)
When the 117-year old UL (Underwriters Laboratories) has something to say about global food safety, it's probably a good idea to listen up.
This time, UL is out with a survey of both consumer attitudes and the views of food manufacturers when it comes to food safety. It covers global perceptions from consumers and manufacturers in China, India, Germany and the United States.
Food is one of the subjects covered in the larger UL report titled "Navigating the Product Mindset." For the Food Industry section of the report, UL conducted 2,430 quantitative interviews with manufacturers and consumers in the four countries.
"Food manufacturers understand that product safety is imperative to the success of their business, but a significant opportunity remains to better demonstrate and communicate their commitment to boost consumer confidence," says Hank Lambert, general manager of UL's Global Food and Water Businesses. "This research demonstrates the importance of moving existing food safety management to the next level."
Among UL's findings regarding manufacturers are these:
- Only 2 percent of the food manufacturers think that their company is behind the curve regarding the safety of their products.
- Food safety has the largest impact on the ability of manufacturers' ability to compete in the world marketplace today.
- Manufacturers believe they are responsible for food safety, not government agencies, consumer groups, or retailers. They also think it is their job to communicate product safety information to consumers.
- Manufacturers agree consumers have become more empowered and command greater influence across the supply chain, causing them to most value consumer claims about their product.
- More than 50 percent of food manufacturers agree there is a direct relationship between the safety or quality of the product and the country of origin.
- Environmentally friendly products are viewed as profitable by 59 percent of manufacturers, with Chinese food manufacturers being the most optimistic about the profitability of such products and U.S. manufacturers having the largest concern about such products.
When asked to select only one "key factor," 41 percent of the responding manufacturers said product and food safety was their key concern. Other "key factors" mentioned include product innovation, reliability, sustainability, speed to market, design and environmentally friendly packaging.
And, 92 percent of the world food manufacturers agreed that product safety is becoming more important.
In its consumer findings, UL found:
- World consumers feel food safety is unchanged over the last two years or slightly improved. The exception is China, where consumers say both fresh and processed foods have worsened.
- Foodborne illnesses, chemical additives and poor sanitary conditions are consumers' primary safety concerns.
- Performance and safety are both important to food consumers, and 76 percent of world food consuemrs say they find it difficult to find product safety information.
- Half of all world consumers say they are aware of country of orgin and half believe country of origin will become more important in the next five years.
- A full 69 percent say it's more important to know the country of origin than to know the product's ingredients.
- Consumers have more confidence in the food safety of a product from a developed country than one in the Third World.
- Consumers think manufacturers can still do a better job.
When world consumers are evaluating a product, freshness and performance (which 42 percent cited) and safety (which 38 percent cited) were far more important than whether the product was organically grown or raised -- only 7 percent put organic food at the top of their list.
The survey also found consumers were most concerned about contracting foodborne illnesses when eating fresh foods, and being exposed to chemical additives when consuming processed food.
The UL study also found consumers are skeptical about how food manufacturers are doing, with a full 71 percent saying products are no better than five years ago. Consumers expressed the least satisfaction with processed foods.
UL is perhaps the world's best-known independent safety science company with 9,000 professionals employed in 96 countries. For more information about UL's Food Safety Services, visit

Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) Fight to Protect Children from Arsenic in Apple Juice
Source :
By Ray Zaccaro/Allison Bormel (Feb 8, 2012)
Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ), Senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee was joined by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Senior Democrat on the House Appropriates Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education and consumer health advocates on Wednesday to introduce the "Arsenic Prevention and Protection from Lead Exposure in Juice Act of 2012'' or "APPLE Juice Act of 2012." The bill will protect children from arsenic and lead in fruit juices. A Consumer Reports investigation revealed alarmingly high levels of arsenic and lead in apple and grape juice in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
The disturbing report found ten percent of the sampled juices from five brands contained arsenic levels that exceeded federal drinking-water standards, and 25 percent contained lead levels higher than the federal standards for bottled water. Arsenic and lead are known to affect brain development in children.
"The unacceptable levels of arsenic and lead in juices currently sitting on shelves at the supermarket present a danger for our children and their health," said Pallone. "Setting basic standards for arsenic and lead in products whose consumers are primarily children is not only the right thing to do, it will help give parents the peace of mind that the juices their children drink daily are safe," he added.
The APPLE Juice Act requires that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establish standards for arsenic and lead in fruit juices in two years time. Currently the Agency has standards limiting these toxins for bottled water, but not fruit juices.
"I am proud to join Rep. Pallone in introducing the APPLE Juice Act, which will require the FDA to establish standards for arsenic and lead in juices. We must ensure that the juices our children drink are safe, particularly when 70 percent of the apple juice we consume comes from China," said DeLauro. "It is our job, and the FDA's job, to ensure the health and safety of the American people. This legislation will help to make that happen."
Although pediatricians have recommended that children limit their daily juice intake, 35 percent of children under five drink more juice than recommended. The APPLE Juice Act will work to protect children from harmful health effects of significant juice consumption.
"This bill will go a long way in protecting the public, especially children, from being exposed to these toxins. We're grateful for this effort to ensure the public's health and safety are protected," said Ami Gadhia, Senior Policy Counsel for Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports.
"Seven months ago, Food & Water Watch and the Empire State Consumer Project wrote to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg asking that the agency set tolerance levels for arsenic in apple juice. This is an important public health issue and we are pleased that Congressman Pallone's bill addresses the concerns we have been raising since July," remarked Tony Corbo, Legislative Representative for Food & Water Watch.

China's Li Urges Tough Food-Safety Rules as Guangzhou Tests Eggs
Source :
By Michael Wei. (Feb 09, 2012)
Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang called for harsh punishments against food-safety violations as officials removed eggs that a shopper claimed were fake in southern China's Guangzhou city.
Li said China faces a grave situation in ensuring food supplies are kept safe and authorities should take a proactive approach to deter violations, the official Xinhua News Agency reported late yesterday.
China will continue measures against criminal offenses in food scandals and seek to establish a long-term mechanism to check food safety in 2012, Li said at a meeting of the State Council's food safety commission, which he leads, Xinhua said.
The measures would add to China's crackdown on food safety since six babies died and 300,000 others were sickened by formula milk tainted with melamine in 2008, in the nation's worst food-related incident. Last year, authorities found an unapproved additive in pork and excessive levels of a toxin in some milk products.
About 3,000 eggs were removed from a supermarket in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, after a shopper claimed that the ones he bought were fake and caused his son an upset stomach, China Daily said today.
Officials from the local industry and commerce bureau have sealed up the eggs and sent the samples for examination, the English-language newspaper said. The results are expected to be released before the weekend, according to the report.
Two calls to the industry and commerce bureau in Guangzhou weren't answered.
Eggs may be faked using chemicals such as sodium alginate, China Daily said, citing Zhao Qiangzhong, an associate professor from the school of light industry and foods at South China University of Technology. While sodium alginate is edible, the chemical doesn't contain the nutrition of real eggs, Zhao was cited as saying.

Consumer Groups Petition FDA to Ban GE Salmon as an Unsafe Food Additive; Groups Say Fish Couldn't Pass Proper Review
Source :
By Naomi Starkman (Feb 7, 2012)
Today consumer groups Consumers Union, Food & Water Watch, and the Center for Food Safety submitted a formal petition asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to classify and evaluate AquaBounty's "AquAdvantage" genetically engineered (GE) salmon and all of its components as a food additive. The groups' legal petition contends that the current agency review process that treats GE salmon only as a new animal drug is insufficient to protect public health, and that the agency is required by law to review the GE salmon under what should be a more rigorous process for any novel substance added to food. A link to the petition can be found here:
"The data FDA has on GE salmon, which were supplied by Aquabounty, are incomplete, biased, and cannot be relied upon to show that the GE salmon is safe to consume," said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. "Aquabounty's own study showed that GE salmon may contain increased levels of IGF-1, a hormone that helps accelerate the growth of the transgenic fish and is linked to breast, colon, prostate, and lung cancer."
The groups warn that the potential health risks of GE salmon are no different from a number of food additives the FDA has banned in the past, including those that are cancer causing.
"FDA's choice to allow the first proposed transgenic animal for food to somehow only be reviewed as a drug is contrary to law, science and common sense," said George Kimbrell, Senior Attorney for the Center for Food Safety. "Public health and transparency should be championed, not skirted, particularly when contemplating such an unprecedented approval."
In order to create the transgenic fish, Aquabounty genetically engineered an Atlantic salmon by inserting a Chinook salmon growth-hormone gene, as well as a gene sequence from an ocean pout. The company claims this engineering causes the GE salmon to undergo an increase in growth rate that allows the fish to reach market size in half the normal time.
Aquabounty has submitted an application to FDA for approval of the transgenic salmon under the new animal drug provisions of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Members of the FDA's own advisory committee have described the agency's review of the GE salmon under this process as lacking in rigor.
The consumer groups' petition asserts that the process used to create the GE salmon substantially alters its composition—including its nutrition value—and demand that the fish and its components be treated as a food additive pursuant to FDA's guidelines. As a food additive, AquaBounty's GE salmon would be considered unsafe for consumption unless the company's data overwhelmingly proved otherwise.
"If FDA actually evaluated GE salmon as a food additive, including allergy-causing potential, they would not likely be able to approve it because of the health risks that have can already be seen in an incomplete set of data," said Dr. Michael Hansen, Senior Scientist with Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports.
The groups assert that a proper review process would require GE salmon to undergo comprehensive toxicological studies, specifically those developed to ensure that foods entering the market are safe to consume and are properly labeled.

Food irradiation standard addresses processing and packaging issues
Source :
By Mark Astley (Feb 8, 2012)
A series of packaging and processing requirements, designed to manage food irradiation processes, have been outlined in a new international standard – with the aim of ensuring food quality and safety.
ISO food irradiation standard will address food safety and quality issues
The International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) standard 14470:2011, which covers the use of radionuclides, electron beams and X-ray generators in food processing, not only provides requirements, but also a set of guidelines in relation to issues such as contamination, suitable packaging and facility design.
Food irradiation, the process where food is exposed to ionising radiation in order to improve its safety and quality, is used in many counties at some stage of food processing.
According to the standard, the process should be incorporated as part of a food safety management system when applicable, as it can control pathogenic micro-organisms, reduce spoilage micro-organisms while extending the shelf-life of a product.
Facility design
Irradiation facilities typically consist of an irradiator, temperature controlled storage zones for irradiated and non-irradiated products, conveyor system and safety systems. The design of irradiation facilities shall also be specified under the guidelines.
"In order to prevent contamination and cross-contamination, necessary measures shall be taken to avoid direct or indirect contact of the food with potential sources of contamination," said the standard. "The irradiation facilities shall be designed to irradiate food in accordance with irradiation process specifications and regulatory requirements."
Suitable packaging
The product being irradiated should also be defined. "The food shall be packaged in suitable materials for each type of product and for their use in the irradiation process," the standard added.
"When appropriate, these shall provide an effective barrier in order to avoid contamination or infestation after irradiation."
Any changes to the product, its presentation or its packaging as a result of irradiation should be documented and an assessment made on the appropriateness of the process, the document added.
Under the standard appropriate methods for monitoring, measuring and analysing the process should also be applied by the irradiator operator.
Safety and quality 'addressed'
The standard will provide requirements for food irradiation that are consistent with current standards and practices, including HACCP.
"The irradiation of food is a critical control point (CCP) of a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) programme, contributing to the minimisation of risks from the transmission of pathogenic micro-organisms to consumers," the ISO document added.
"The requirements given in this International Standard are the minimum necessary to control the food irradiation process."

Brazil trade body questions carbendazim double standards after US OJ breaches import limit
Source :
By Mark Astley (Feb 7, 2012)
A Brazilian orange juice trade body has called for a stop to 'double standard' carbendazim measures after US officials declined to take action against US-manufactured orange juice containing the banned fungicide.
Eleven shipments of Brazilian orange juice products have been denied entry into the US.
Nine samples, taken by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), from domestically manufactured products were found to contain levels of carbendazim between 13ppb and 36ppb – levels at which shipments of orange juice products have been denied entry into the US.
Of the fourteen samples collected from Florida-based manufacturers, only five had no measurable levels of carbendazim (below 10ppb).
A total of 20 shipments, including 11 from Brazil, have now been detained or refused entry to the US after testing positive for carbendazim, according to an FDA update.
The agency has also announced that it believes there is no need to continue domestic testing.
'No action needed'
CitrusBR spokesperson Christian Lohbauer told that the decision not to take action against domestically manufactured orange juice products will have an economic impact on the US industry, not only Brazilian exporters.
"An eventual interruption of imports would bring economic impacts and image impacts since the product would be perceived as unsafe when in fact it follows the highest standards of quality and food safety," he said.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has maintained that any level of carbendazim in orange juice below 80ppb does not pose a health risk.
"Based on these results, FDA has determined that no action is needed to remove product from the market and that the orange juice consumed by the public does not pose safety concerns due to low levels of carbendazim residues found in FDA testing," said a statement from the FDA.
When considering the raw product entering the country "their view is that the product is not in accordance with American regulations and therefore not allowed to enter the country, although they do not pose health concerns when considering the final product that will be sold to consumers after dilution," Lohbauer added.
"It means that FDA analyses health issues when considering the final product, and legal issues when considering the imported products (raw material). In spite of that, we believe that the message sent to American consumers might be confusing, since they understand that the restrictions to imports are also linked to health concerns, and not only to legal concerns."
Brazilian shipments
To date, the FDA has collected samples from 86 shipments of orange juice or orange juice concentrate, of which 46 have so far tested negative for carbendazim.
The FDA has now found a total of 20 samples, each representing one shipment, which tested positive for the unapproved fungicide. All of the 20 positive samples, nine of which were from Canada and 11 were from Brazil, have been detained or refused entry to the US. The remaining 20 samples are pending analysis.

Whole-genome sequencing of 2011 E. coli outbreaks in Europe provides new insight
Source :
By Todd Datz(Feb 6, 2012)
Using whole-genome sequencing, a team led by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the Broad Institute has traced the path of the E. coli outbreak that sickened thousands and killed over 50 people in Germany in summer 2011 and also caused a smaller outbreak in France. It is one of the first uses of genome sequencing to study the dynamics of a food-borne outbreak and provides further evidence that genomic tools can be used to investigate future outbreaks and provide greater insight into the emergence and spread of infectious diseases.
The study, conducted in collaboration with groups at the Pasteur Institute in France, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, and Statens Serum Institut in Denmark, appears on February 6, 2012 in an advance online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"A genome contains the record of a strain's evolutionary history, so by looking at the differences between the genomes of multiple bacteria from an outbreak we can get really useful clues about what happened in the outbreak. In this way, tracking outbreaks is like detective work, and this approach will be a powerful tool in trying to understand future outbreaks," said lead author Yonatan Grad, a research fellow in the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, Department of Epidemiology at HSPH and infectious disease physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
"This work is a testament to the power of genome sequencing and analysis to shed light on the mechanisms that drive disease outbreaks," said co-senior author Deborah Hung, a core faculty member at the Broad Institute, an assistant professor at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and an infectious disease physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital. "We can see things that we simply couldn't see before, and that holds promise for improving public health."
The outbreak in Germany, which was caused by the strain E. coli O104:H4, led to around 4,000 cases of bloody diarrhea, 850 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can lead to kidney failure, and over 50 deaths. The source of the outbreak was traced to sprouts from an organic farm in Germany. In France, where 15 people were sickened with bloody diarrhea that progressed to HUS in nine people, the source of the outbreak was sprouts, germinated from seeds purchased at a garden retailer, that were served at a children's community center buffet. European investigators, using traditional epidemiological methods, traced the outbreaks to a shipment of seeds from Egypt that arrived in Germany in December 2009.
The researchers, led by Grad and senior authors Hung and William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology at HSPH, analyzed isolates of E. coli bacteria from both the German and French outbreaks. Based on conventional molecular epidemiological analysis, the E. coli strains from the outbreaks in Germany and France appear identical.
However, by harnessing the Broad's expertise in whole-genome sequencing and analysis, the researchers were able to determine that there were small, but measurable, differences among the isolates. They made two surprising findings: All the strains connected to the larger German outbreak were found to be nearly identical, while the strains in France showed greater diversity; and the German isolates appeared to be a subset of the diversity seen in the French isolates.
"If genomes have fewer differences than we expect, like the German outbreak, it suggests that the outbreak might have passed through a bottleneck. A bottleneck might be something like disinfection procedures that killed most but not all of the bugs, or maybe passage through a single infected individual," said Hanage.
Another hypothesis offered by the researchers is that there was uneven distribution of diversity in the original shipment of contaminated seeds.
As costs for genomic sequencing decline, these tools, combined with traditional epidemiological techniques, can provide greater insight into the emergence and spread of infectious diseases and will help guide preventive public health measures in the future.

Keller Rohrback L.L.P. Announces Investigation of Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Taco Bell Chain
Source :
(Feb 3, 2012)
Attorney Advertising. Keller Rohrback L.L.P. ( ) is investigating possible legal claims against a Taco Bell Chain, operated by YUM! Brands, Inc. related to a 2011 Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak.
On February 1, 2012, Food Safety News reported a link between Taco Bell and an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC investigation revealed that 68 individuals, from 10 states, were infected with Salmonella Enteritidis. 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). Originally identified by the CDC as simply "Restaurant A," a document recently released by the Oklahoma State Department of Health's Acute Disease Service confirmed that Taco Bell was central to the CDC's investigation.
According to the CDC, a person infected with Salmonella bacterium usually experiences fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea beginning 12 to 72 hours after consuming a contaminated food item or beverage. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. While most healthy persons generally recover without antibiotic treatment, the diarrhea can be severe, and the person may be ill enough to require hospitalization. The CDC reported that in this Salmonella outbreak, 31% of patients were hospitalized. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems may have a more severe illness. In these patients, the infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream and then to other body sites, and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.
Keller Rohrback, with offices in Seattle, Phoenix, New York and Santa Barbara, has become nationally recognized for its representation of injured persons in both individual and class action food-borne illness cases, including the Malt-O-Meal Salmonella contamination case and the Jack-In-The-Box and Odwalla E. coli contamination cases.
If you or someone in your care became ill after eating at a Taco Bell in one of the states mentioned above and you believe the illness was Salmonella-related, or you would like more information, please contact paralegal Stephanie Gardner or attorneys Amy Hanson or Lynn Sarko at (800) 776-6044 or via email at

C. difficile outbreak ends at Niagara Falls hospital; declared in December
Source :
By The Canadian Press (Feb 9, 2012)
An outbreak of C. difficile at the Niagara Health System has been declared over.
The outbreak was declared at the Niagara Falls hospital Dec. 7 and three patients with hospital-associated C. difficile have died since then.
But officials say the intestinal illness didn't directly cause any of the deaths, although it was a factor in one case.
Interim president and CEO Dr. Sue Matthews says NHS will remain focused on infection prevention, and has launched a three-month pilot project using UV light to combat super bugs.
Three C. difficile outbreaks last spring and summer sickened 102 people, caused the deaths of seven patients and contributed to deaths of another 11.
Matthews says the hospital has learned a lot about battling super bugs and is sharing those lessons with Bluewater Health in Sarnia, which is waging a C. difficile fight of its own. (CKTB)

Cruise ship returns to Florida port early after second virus outbreak
Source :
(Feb 12, 2012)
A PRINCESS Cruise Lines ship was forced to return to its Florida port overnight following a second outbreak of the highly-contagious norovirus.
During the latest Crown Princess voyage, which set sail February 4, 226 passengers and 63 crew members contracted the gastrointestinal illness.
The cruise had been scheduled to visit Curacao and Aruba and enter port tomorrow but was forced to return two days early "to undergo an extensive two-day sanitisation," the operator said.
"In consultation with the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) ... it was agreed that this was the best course of action to stop the spread of the illness," it continued. "We sincerely regret having to cut short our passengers' cruise vacations because of this highly-unusual situation."
Staff members were set to begin the arduous task of cleaning the vessel in an attempt to rid it of the virus, which quickly spreads through person-to-person contact and via contaminated food and water.
"The enhanced disinfection of the ship in Fort Lauderdale will include bringing aboard additional cleaning crew to assist with a thorough sanitisation of all public spaces and surfaces, including soft furnishing and carpets, railings, door handles and the like," the operator said.
The ship will return to sea for its next scheduled cruise Saturday, it added.
The previous cruise affected by the outbreak departed January 28, before returning February 4. Princess Cruise Lines said 364 passengers and 30 crew contracted the virus.
The Crown Princess was not the only Florida-based cruise liner to suffer a norovirus outbreak recently. The Ruby Princess -- also a Princess Cruise Lines vessel -- returned to its Fort Lauderdale port February 5 after more than 100 passengers and crew became ill.
The norovirus is a problem on cruise ships because it spreads more easily among large numbers of people concentrated in limited areas.
Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach cramps, according to the CDC.

Outbreak sickens dozens at New Jersey university
Source :
By Josh Levs (Feb 9, 2012)
About 40 students at a university in New Jersey have been taken to hospitals for treatment after an outbreak of what authorities believe is the norovirus.
The Rider University students, at the school's campus in Lawrenceville, were brought to hospitals late Wednesday night, the school said Thursday.
The suspected outbreak comes a week after an outbreak began at nearby Princeton University, which is still under way, officials said.
"We are coordinating treatment information with that university. We have also informed neighboring institutions," Rider said on its website.
Norovirus is a highly contagious illness that is often called stomach flu or food poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States.
The most common symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Most people get better within one to two days.
Rider officials worked with health authorities throughout the night "to identify ill students in the residence halls and treat them either on site or send them to area hospitals," the school said.
Some of those taken to hospitals have been discharged and returned to campus.
People who get the virus are contagious "from the moment they begin feeling sick until at least three days after they recover," the school said.
Infection can occur by eating contaminated food; touching contaminated surfaces and then putting contaminated fingers in your mouth; or having direct contact with an infected person.
The school's food and custodial services are taking necessary steps, including cleaning all residence hall bathrooms and other areas.
Rider has about 4,700 undergraduate and 1,100 graduate students, and 250 full time faculty members

After raw milk outbreak that sickened 43, Pennsylvania Dairyman gets it right
Source :
by Drew Falkenstein (Feb 08, 2012)
Finally. A raw milk dairyman who is both a good businessman and a conscientious producer. Edwin Shank, who's Family Cow dairy in Franklin County, PA was the source of a recent campylobacter outbreak that sickened at least 43, is making all the right moves: re-connecting with his customer base, learning from past mistakes, and just as important, it is very apparent that he truly does care about those sickened by his product.
In his article in the Chambersburg Public Opinion called "Raw Milk Seller: We're taking this seriously", senior writer Jim Hook profiled the steps that Shank's dairy is now taking to prevent future illnesses:
Shank said he is installing lab equipment to test milk for E. coli, a bacteria that signals contamination. Every time the farm bottles raw milk, a few bottles from the run will be tested and after test results are available in a day or two, milk passing the test will be sold.
"We'll test about four times a week, every time we bottle," Shank said. "We feel a moral obligation to do a lot more testing because we sell a lot more milk. As we sell more and more, it only makes sense we do more and more testing. This is entirely voluntarily. Our goal is to have the absolute safest food out there."
The farm will also make small changes to prevent potential cross-contamination. The farm will no longer accept egg cartons for re-use or plastic shopping bags from customers, even though they may have had nothing to do with the outbreak, according to Shank.
"We've doing a lot of things to eliminate any possibilities," he said. "We're taking it as a lesson learned. We're embarrassed and feel awful. We've got to do better."
The examples of raw milk producers who take a decidedly different approach are legion. Maybe it really is "like snake oil." Whatever the case, or the cause, most raw milk producers haven't got a clue about crisis management. They prefer to just dig their hole a little deeper. See Help Wanted: public relations position for raw dairies, originally published at Food Poison Journal in November 2010 in the wake of The Hartmann Debacle. For more fun, see Hartmann Dairy's typically raw-milkian PR blunder. Here's to Edwin Shank, a different kind of raw dairyman.

Virus outbreak has senior-living facility on lockdown
Source :
by Cory Smith(Feb 8, 2012)
A Bakersfield senior-living facility has been put on lockdown to prevent the spread of suspected norovirus.
Carriage House Estates, which is off Gosford Road between White Lane and Ming Avenue, closed its dining hall Saturday and is restricting access to visitors. Spokesman Luke Andrews said the lockdown, which amounts to a quarantine, was initiated after some residents contracted with flu-like symptoms. He said six people were ill as of Tuesday.
The lockdown is aimed at preventing the spread of illness to other residents. County health officials were notified of the possible norovirus. It has not yet been confirmed.
Noroviruses are also called Norwalk-like viruses and caliciviruses, according to WebMD. They cause gastroenteritis, food infection, food poisoning and acute non-bacterial gastroenteritis.
Norovirus cases strike county; school, two care centers were affected
Source :
By Jen McCoy, Tim Damos (Feb 7, 2012)
Columbia County recently had three confirmed cases of the norovirus within nine days, part of multiple cases in a three-county area.
The confirmed cases were at Golden LivingCenter in Wisconsin Dells, the Good Samaritan Society Center in Lodi and the Poynette Elementary/Middle School. The dates reported to the Columbia County Health Department were between Jan. 16 and 25.
"It's unusual, but 80 percent of the norovirus cases do occur between the months of November and April. Because of the colder weather, people are more confined to spaces," said Susan Lorenz, Columbia County's health officer.
The norovirus, recognized as the leading cause of foodborne-disease outbreaks in the United States, causes sudden vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and headaches. It previously was described as "Norwalk-like viruses" or NLV.
Noroviruses spread from person to person, through contaminated food or water, and by touching contaminated surfaces, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Each facility contacted Lorenz promptly, she said, and worked very well to control the highly contagious stomach flu.
The cases are considered an outbreak in the county, but the term should not startle residents.
"In public health terms, a gastrointestinal outbreak means two or more people ill with symptoms that have a common factor that may have caused the disease, such as living in the same nursing home or attending the same school," Lorenz said.
In Sauk County, norovirus cases led to a quarantine of the Sauk County Health Care Center in Reedsburg on Monday.
Sauk County Public Health Director Cindy Bodendein said in the past month there have been five norovirus outbreaks at nursing homes and other residential facilities in Sauk County - two in Reedsburg, two in Baraboo and one in the Sauk Prairie area.
Since Jan. 30, eight residents and about 20 employees at the Sauk County Health Care Center in Reedsburg have been struck with the virus.
Officials say the number of cases exceeded a federal threshold, requiring that the facility be quarantined.
A news release on the county's website Monday requested that no one visit the facility until further notice.
According to the Wisconsin Division of Public Health:
• The virus spreads by direct person-to-person contact and environmental contamination. The virus enters through the mouth, multiplies in the body and is passed within the highly infectious vomit or fecal matter of an infected person.
• The most common symptoms are a sudden onset of vomiting, watery and non-bloody diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps and headache.
• The symptoms may appear from 12 to 60 hours after exposure to the virus, but usually occur within 24 to 48 hours.
• The virus remains highly infectious from the onset of symptoms and up to 48 hours after vomiting or diarrhea.
• There is no treatment for the illness beyond time and liquid replacement if needed. People usually recover within two to three days.
• Thorough hand-washing is the way to prevent the spread of the virus and becoming ill. Wash hands with hot water and soap after using the toilet and before touching food. If you don't have soap and water readily available, use alcohol gel hand sanitizer. Lorenz said she can't emphasize enough the importance of hand-washing, she said, and to remain home until at least 48 hours after symptoms stop.
A flu shot will not prevent it, Lorenz said. Those are aimed at preventing respiratory flu, not the stomach flu.
People who suspect they may be infected should call the Columbia County Department of Health and Human Services at 742-9227.
Sauk County Health Care Center Nursing Director Juli Brandt said that among people who have become sick at her facility, the worst symptoms lasted 12 hours.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that noroviruses cause more than 20 million severe stomach illnesses, 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths nationally each year.
Sauk County Health Care Center Administrator Kim Gochanour said none of the cases have been serious enough to require hospitalization.
She said the nursing home is working with state and county agencies to eliminate the virus and will make a formal announcement when the facility is again safe to visit.
An unusual string of norovirus outbreaks also has hit Dane County, including a suspected new outbreak of the foodborne illness in a church group, a health official said Monday.
At least 16 people from Mandrake Road Church of Christ in Madison reported norovirus-like symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea last week, said Amanda Kita-Yarbro, epidemiologist for Public Health Madison Dane County.
The health department has investigated four other outbreaks since November, including one that sickened 28 people at Erin's Snug Irish Pub in Madison last month. In a possible outbreak last month at an Absolutely Art show catered by Madison's Bunky's Café, the cases could have come from elsewhere, Kita-Yarbro said.
The Wisconsin Division of Public Health reported a substantial increase in gastrointestinal illness outbreaks at long-term care facilities in fall 2010.
There were 84 outbreaks from September through December 2010, compared to only 18 during the same period in 2009 and 29 during the same period in 2008.
Just more than a month into 2012, the agency already has received 67 reports of suspected outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness at long-term care facilities. Thirty-eight already have been confirmed as norovirus, and testing is ongoing for many of the recent oubtreaks, said Beth Kaplin, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health Services.
The agency has not provided data for 2011.
"Norovirus is not a notifiable disease, so while we don't have a way to know exactly how many people are infected, we do get reports of outbreaks," Kaplin said, adding that outbreaks at facilities where food is served typically increase during winter months. "Many but not all of these outbreaks are confirmed as norovirus."

FOOD SAFETY NEWS SCAN: More raw milk Campylobacter cases, missed FSMA deadlines, EHEC genome clues
Source :
(Feb 7, 2012)
Five more sickened in raw milk Campylobacter outbreak
The number of patients sickened in a Campylobacter outbreak linked to a Pennsylvania dairy's raw milk has grown by five, pushing the total so far to 43, according to an e-mail update from the Pennsylvania Department of Health yesterday. All of the newly reported cases are from Pennsylvania, bringing its total to 36. Maryland has confirmed 4 cases, West Virginia 2, and New Jersey 1. The outbreak has been linked to The Family Cow Farm in Chambersburg, Pa. In other developments, inspectors from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) yesterday completed their final inspection, clearing the dairy to resume producing and bottling its raw milk, according to an e-mail from PDA spokeswoman Samantha Elliott Krepps.
Watchdog group presses Obama administration on FSMA final rules
The Obama administration is more than 30 days late in meeting several deadlines mandated by last year's FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), food safety watchdog Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) noted today. In a statement, CSPI's Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal noted that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) delivered proposed rules late last year on food safety control for manufacturers and importers and on the safe production of fresh fruits and vegetables to the Office of Management and Budget, where they appear to be stalled. The proposals on produce and food imports carry a statutory deadline of 12 months and should have been finalized by now, she said. She added that until the FDA finalizes rules to describe food safety improvements, FSMA "is a hollow victory for consumers who want safer food." When asked about the status of the rulemaking, Michael Taylor, JD, FDA deputy commissioner for foods, told CIDRAP News, "There's a high level of interest within the administration in getting the rules out as soon as possible. Publishing multiple rules all at the same time can be a bit of a logistical challenge, but we are working expeditiously to get them out there, because they represent a significant step toward building a fundamentally better food safety system."
Genome study yields possible EU sprout E coli clues
A whole-genome investigation of samples from Europe's Escherichia coli O104:H4 outbreak linked to fenugreek sprout seeds reveals some possible contamination clues, according to a study yesterday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). An international group sequenced and compared samples from 15 patients sickened in the outbreak, 11 from France and 4 from Germany. They found the strains from France were more diverse, and that the strains from German patients appeared to be a subset of the French isolates. The findings suggest a possible bottleneck in the outbreak, such as a disinfection procedure that may have killed some of the strains or passage through a single infected patient, such as a worker at the German sprout farm, according to the study. The group also said the differences could result from uneven diversity in the original shipment of contaminated seeds or different sprout growing conditions linked to the French and German cases.

43 now ill in Your Family Cow raw milk Campylobacter outbreak
Source :
by Drew Falkenstein ( Feb 06, 2012)
Your Family Cow's raw milk campylobacter outbreak is now linked to at least 43 cases of ilness in four states. The confirmed cases of Campylobacter infection include 36 people in Pennsylvania, four in Maryland, two in West Virginia, and one in New Jersey. Raw milk from an unopened bottle tested by Maryland Health officials was positive for Campylobacter.
Campylobacter is the second most common cause of bacterial foodborne illness in the United States after Salmonella. Active surveillance through FoodNet indicates that there are about 13 cases for each 100,000 persons in the population diagnosed yearly with C. jejuni infection (MMWR, 2009, April 10). In 2009, there were 6,033 reported cases of campylobacteriosis; however the CDC estimates that C. jejuni causes approximately 845,000 illnesses, 8,400 hospitalizations, and 76 deaths in the United States each year, according to a 2011 report.
For more on the risks of raw milk, see Real Raw Milk Facts Dot Com

Clostridium perfringens cause of N.D. Basketball Taco outbreak
Source :
by Bill Marler (Feb 06, 2012)
Laboratory testing by the Department of Health has identified Clostridium perfringens as the cause of the outbreak associated with the Pierre-Mitchell high school boys' basketball game held in Pierre January 31. The investigation, which included voluntary questionnaires, implicated the tacos as the source food of the outbreak – of those completing questionnaires, 75% who ate the tacos reported becoming ill. The predominant symptoms were diarrhea and cramps lasting less than 24 hours, although the symptoms in some ill persons lasted longer. Three-quarters of the cases became ill between midnight and 6:00 AM following the game.
Clostridium perfringens is a bacterium that is sometimes found on raw meat and poultry products. It is also found in many environmental sources and in the intestines of animals and humans. Clostridium perfringens poisoning can occur when large quantities of food are prepared and kept at unsafe temperatures. Anyone can get food poisoning from Clostridium perfringens, but the very young and elderly are at highest risk. Dehydration may occur in severe cases. The illness is not passed from one person to another.
This type of food poisoning can be prevented by proper cooking and proper refrigeration. Meat dishes should be served hot, immediately after cooking. Leftover foods should be refrigerated at 40°F or lower. Large pots of food, such as soups or stews, or large cuts of meats, such as roasts or whole poultry, should be divided into small quantities for refrigeration. Leftovers should be reheated to at least 165°F before serving.

Latest illnesses point to raw milk's popularity
Source :
An outbreak of bacterial infections on the East Coast illustrates the popularity of raw, unpasteurized milk despite strong warnings from public health officials about the potential danger.
Even presidential candidate Ron Paul has joined the cause of consumers looking to buy unprocessed "real foods" straight from the farm, saying government shouldn't deny them that choice.
An outbreak of campylobacter illness is a reminder of the potential hazards, however. Raw milk from a dairy in Pennsylvania is now linked to 38 cases in four states, and the farm has temporarily suspended sales. Campylobacter can cause diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever and can be life-threatening if it spreads to the bloodstream.
Consumers who want unpasteurized milk have to work to find it. It's against federal law to transport it across state lines, and most states don't allow it to be sold in stores off the farm. Twenty states prohibit raw milk sales altogether.
The government says the milk is unsafe because of the pathogens cows may encounter on the farm. A wide variety of pathogens besides campylobacter, can be found in raw milk — including salmonella, listeria, E. coli and others — and those sickened could suffer from stroke, kidney failure, paralysis or death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency points out that raw milk killed many people — especially young children — before the onset of pasteurization, which kills disease-causing germs by heating milk to high temperatures for a specific period of time.
The CDC says pasteurized milk is rich in proteins, carbohydrates and other nutrients, and that heat only slightly decreases thiamine, vitamin B12, and vitamin C.
While the government contends that milk is a minor source of those nutrients, raw milk advocates say that's proof that pasteurization makes milk less wholesome and pure.
The government doesn't keep records of raw milk consumption or sales, but it's clear that the product is popularized by a larger food movement that encourages less processing and more "real food." Raw milk goes a step further than organic milk free of added growth hormones. Organic milk, too, has enjoyed a sales boost in recent years.
"We are pushing for consumer choice and freedom and a variety of dairy options for people," said Kimberly Hartke of the Weston A. Price Foundation, an activist group that advocates "restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet." Price was a dentist who studied global nutrition around the turn of the 20th century.
Advocates say far more illnesses are caused each year by leafy greens, deli meats and other products produced in much larger quantities than raw milk.
"To outlaw or ban any natural food because it could possibly make you sick is an extreme position, because there is no safe food," Hartke said.
That's a position that presidential contender Paul, a physician, understands. He appears to have acknowledged the potential risks of raw milk when he said last summer that "what I'm doing in politics is not exactly the medical opinion."
Still, he said, "as long as you don't force other people, and as long as you don't defraud people, you ought to have a choice."
Supporters of raw milk are passionate, and the issue has become one of the most animated food debates. Raw milk consumers and Price foundation representatives have held protests in Washington to fight Food and Drug Administration crackdowns on some farms that sell raw milk.
The fact that there's even a debate infuriates many in the public health community.
"The intensity with which raw milk supporters believe in this product is almost unheard of, certainly for a food," said Sarah Klein, an attorney for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "It's like snake oil."
Klein says advocates often mislead consumers by describing bucolic settings and happy cows.
These are still animals; they defecate inches from where the milk is produced," she said. "They stand in it, they swat their tails through it. That's all very natural. It's just a matter of course that raw milk is contaminated."
The owner of the Pennsylvania dairy, Your Family Cow farm in Chambersburg, posted a message on the farm's website last week saying that several customers had called them to say they had been experiencing "acute diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps."
Owner Edwin Shank said in the posting that the farm's testing had shown samples to be negative for campylobacter and speculated that the illnesses may be from another cause. But the Pennsylvania health department has linked the outbreak to the farm, and a spokeswoman for the Maryland's health department says an unopened bottle from the farm tested positive for campylobacter.
Raw milk sales are illegal in Maryland, but the state has four illnesses from the outbreak. Those sickened presumably drove to Pennsylvania and brought the milk back for their own consumption, said Maria Said of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
One person is also sick in New Jersey and two in West Virginia, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Thirty one people are sick in Pennsylvania, many of them in Franklin County, where the farm is located.
Pennsylvania has had at least seven disease outbreaks linked to raw milk consumption since 2006, involving almost 200 people, according to the health department. Pennsylvania is one of 17 states where some type of raw milk sales are allowed, according to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

3 cruise ships disinfected after norovirus outbreaks over the weekend
Source :
By Associated Press (Feb 7, 2012)
A third U.S.-based cruise ship with an outbreak of stomach illness has sailed again after being decontaminated in South Florida.
The vessel Ruby Princess sailed Sunday from Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades. It was one of three cruise ships that docked in Florida and Louisiana over the weekend with outbreaks of norovirus.
Port Everglades spokeswoman Ellen Kennedy told the South Florida Sun Sentinel ( that the Ruby Princess was cleaned Sunday and departed. Passengers were informed of the virus and cleanup as they waited to board.
Norovirus causes upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea.
Princess Cruise Lines operates the ship and another, the Crown Princess, that sailed from Fort Lauderdale after cleaning.
Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Sea left New Orleans a couple of hours late Saturday because of the same illness.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control maintains an online database of norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships at . Outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness on cruise ships participating in the CDC program are posted online by the CDC when they take place on voyages from three to 21 days, when the ships are carrying 100 or more passengers, and when 3 percent or more of passengers or crew reported symptoms of diarrheal disease to the ship's medical staff during the trip.
The CDC says that norovirus is highly contagious and spreads from person to person, through contaminated food or water, and by touching contaminated surfaces. Careful handwashing with soap and water is key to the prevention of the spread of norovirus. Contaminated surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly to prevent continued spread of the disease.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Raw milk remains popular despite warnings, 38 ill in latest outbreak on East Coast
Source :
By Associated Press (Feb 3, 2012)
An outbreak of bacterial infections on the East Coast illustrates the popularity of raw, unpasteurized milk despite strong warnings from public health officials about the potential danger.
Even presidential candidate Ron Paul has joined the cause of consumers looking to buy unprocessed "real foods" straight from the farm, saying government shouldn't deny them that choice.
The fact that there's even a debate infuriates many in the public health community.
"The intensity with which raw milk supporters believe in this product is almost unheard of, certainly for a food," said Sarah Klein, an attorney for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "It's like snake oil."
Klein says advocates often mislead consumers by describing bucolic settings and happy cows.
"These are still animals; they defecate inches from where the milk is produced," she said. "They stand in it, they swat their tails through it. That's all very natural. It's just a matter of course that raw milk is contaminated."
The owner of the Pennsylvania dairy, Your Family Cow farm in Chambersburg, posted a message on the farm's website last week saying that several customers had called them to say they had been experiencing "acute diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps."
Owner Edwin Shank said in the posting that the farm's testing had shown samples to be negative for campylobacter and speculated that the illnesses may be from another cause. But the Pennsylvania health department has linked the outbreak to the farm, and a spokeswoman for the Maryland's health department says an unopened bottle from the farm tested positive for campylobacter.
Raw milk sales are illegal in Maryland, but the state has four illnesses from the outbreak. Those sickened presumably drove to Pennsylvania and brought the milk back for their own consumption, said Maria Said of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
One person is also sick in New Jersey and two in West Virginia, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Thirty one people are sick in Pennsylvania, many of them in Franklin County, where the farm is located.
Pennsylvania has had at least seven disease outbreaks linked to raw milk consumption since 2006, involving almost 200 people, according to the health department. Pennsylvania is one of 17 states where some type of raw milk sales are allowed, according to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

Salmonella outbreak linked to watermelons
Source :
By James Meikle (Feb 2, 2012)
Health watchdogs have reminded people to wash fruit and vegetables, as they investigate whether a Salmonella outbreak in which 35 people in the UK are known to have been infected is linked to watermelons.
One person has died, although it is understood they had underlying health complications.
Eastern England has been the area most affected by the outbreak of Salmonella newport, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) said. Those with the infection ranged from age six months to 85.
Bob Adak, head of the gastrointestinal diseases department at the HPA, which is investigating 30 cases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said: "Although it's too soon to say with certainty what the likely cause of infection is, early indications suggest that a number of people became unwell after eating watermelon. This has also been noted in the cases in Scotland and Germany, although further investigation is ongoing.
"It's important to remember that the risk of becoming unwell after eating watermelon is very low. These cases only represent a very small proportion of total consumption. It is always advisable to wash fruits and vegetables – including watermelon – before consumption to reduce the risk of possible illness."
All of the cases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were reported in December. Health Protection Scotland said none of the five cases there were reported to have needed hospital treatment and no new cases had been reported since early last month.
Infection with Salmonella newport causes a similar illness to other forms of salmonella, with symptoms including diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever.
The HPA said it had identified Salmonella newport from a ready-to-eat sliced watermelon imported from Brazil, in a local food survey in north-west England in November 2011. Subsequently, a number of people who became unwell were found to be infected with the same strain identified in the survey.
Ten out of 15 cases followed up by telephone interview reported eating watermelon in the three days prior to the onset of their symptoms, although the agency did not know where their fruit had come from.
An agency spokeswoman said: "Further investigations by the FSA [Food Standards Agency] are ongoing and as soon as any particular producer or distributor of infected watermelons has been identified, steps will be put in place to inform the public and remove any affected items from the food chain."
There were two possible routes of infection. Either the melon surface was contaminated and the bug transferred to flesh during the cutting process or it may have transferred through the cut stem while the melons were stored or washed in contaminated water.
The FSA ,which is involved in the investigations, said it was monitoring the situation and working closely with the food industry, the European commission and other countries. Five cases have been reported in Ireland and 15 in Germany.
In a normal year, about 200 people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are infected with this type of Salmonella newport strain. Last year there was a big outbreak in Germany and the Netherlands caused by bean sprouts. Germany also experienced a big E coli outbreak linked to bean sprouts.

Food-borne illnesses suspected after Kernels' Pierre game
Source :
By Ross Dolan (Feb 3 2012)
The state Department of Health is investigating a suspected food-borne illness outbreak that has been tied to a Tuesday boys' basketball game at Pierre between Pierre and Mitchell.
To date, about 50 people have been reported ill with a diarrheal illness that appears to be of short duration.
According to The Associated Press, initial investigations suggest the illness may be connected to ground beef served in "walking tacos" during the game as part of a fundraiser at Riggs High School in Pierre.
Mitchell Activities Director Geoff Gross said two Mitchell students, including one basketball team member, reported symptoms consistent with the DOH warning. One was tested, treated at Avera Queen of Peace Hospital, and was later released. He declined to say if the student who visited the hospital was a team member.
"I don't know that the player's illness is related to the illness outbreak, or some other cause," Gross said.
The Mitchell players did not, to his knowledge, eat at the game, but rather at a fast-food restaurant on the way out of Pierre.
Barb Buhler, of the Department of Health, said efforts are under way to determine the source. She said officials are interviewing those who suspect they were the victims of a food-borne illness.
Buhler said a link has been set up on the Health Department's website at to allow people who became ill to report their symptoms and other information.
Pierre Superintendent Kelly Glodt said the district is cooperating in every way with the state to find out what happened.
Gross said he learned about the incident from the Pierre district and the state around 3 p.m. Thursday.
He asked that those who were at the game and who are exhibiting illness symptoms go to the Department of Health website and fill out a confidential reporting questionnaire.
An electronic questionnaire was distributed Thursday in Pierre to high school and middle school staff and students. The purpose of the questionnaire is to get a clear picture of how many people are ill, how severe the illness is, the incubation period, the length of the illness and the potential food source. Ill individuals who are not part of the school system are also encouraged to complete the questionnaire. No food from the event has been submitted for testing.
In 2011, South Dakota reported nearly 500 cases of food-borne illness such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli. There were also cases of another food-borne illness, Norovirus, which is not reportable.
Food-borne illness can be prevented with safe food handling practices — thorough hand washing, cleaning of cutting boards and utensils, cooking food to safe internal temperatures (145 degrees Fahrenheit for whole meats, 160 degrees for ground meats, and 165 degrees for all poultry) and refrigerating perishable food at temperatures below 40 degrees.
Signs and symptoms of food-borne illness can include mild or severe diarrhea, fever, vomiting and abdominal pain. Most people will recover on their own without medication or may require fluids to prevent dehydration.

Royal Berkshire Hospital hit by norovirus outbreak
Source :
(Feb 2, 2012)
Two wards at the Royal Berkshire Hospital have been closed to new admissions after an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug norovirus.
Two other wards, which were closed earlier in the week, have now reopened at the hospital in Reading.
No restrictions have yet been put on visitors but anyone suffering from symptoms have been told to stay away.
A spokesman said people should wait at least 48 hours after symptoms have ceased before coming to the hospital.
The virus causes nausea, severe vomiting and diarrhoea.
Sufferers may also experience a fever, headaches and aching limbs.

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