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Wash your hands of these food safety 'facts'
Source :
By Elizabeth Weise (Feb, 06, 2012)
We all know that you have to cook pork until it's gray, that you can't leave anything with mayonnaise out for too long, and that a quick whiff tells you if food's gone bad. Except that each of those 'facts' is wrong. USA TODAY's Elizabeth Weise spoke with food safety experts to pull together a list of the most common food safety myths.
Mayonnaise is a death trap
Actually, mayonnaise is an ingredient "with penicillin-like properties," says Don Zink, senior science adviser for the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in College Park, Md. Mayo is a homogenized mixture of oil and water, with egg white to stabilize it. The salt and vinegar or lemon juice makes the tiny droplets of water suspended in the mixture deadly to microbes. So for a safer salad, don't hold the mayo. Putting in more mayonnaise only makes it safer, he says. No, not forever, but certainly long enough for a picnic.
Pink pork is a no-no
Not any more. Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture revised its decades-old guidelines and now says that pork, and all whole meat cuts, have to get to only 145 degrees internally, not the 160 the agency had previously suggested. That means a pork roast can have a rosy interior, not the dead gray of your mom's roast. The change comes because despite everything you were ever told, there's no trichinosis in commercial pigs. The parasitic disease is caused by eating raw or undercooked meat infected with roundworm larvae. It was a problem years ago, but no longer exists in commercially grown pork, according to the National Pork Board in Des Moines.
You can smell when food's gone bad
Microorganisms divide into two main groups, those that cause spoilage and those that cause disease. There's some overlap, but many bacteria that cause disease don't cause overt spoilage. "You could have loads of E. coli or salmonella or listeria in a food and it would not appear to be spoiled or have any off-odor or flavor," says the FDA's Don Zink. The only real way to judge the safety of a food is by what you know about how it was prepared and stored.
You should wash produce and meat
This one seems like a no-brainer: Washing makes things cleaner, right? Wrong. People think they can make produce safer by rinsing it under the tap, but that's a holdover from the days when they carried in vegetables straight from the garden, still dripping with dew, dirt and the occasional slug. Bagged leafy greens don't need to be washed at all. "Just open the bag and put them in the salad bowl," says the FDA's Zink. They were already washed in a sanitizing solution at the packing plant and frankly it was probably a lot cleaner than your kitchen.
Micro-organisms actually bond to the surface of the food item. "You are not going to rinse them off, it simply won't happen, they cannot be washed off," he says.
All washing might do is "remove the snot that some 3-year-old blew onto the food at the grocery store," says the ever-forthright Powell at Kansas State. Washing "lowers the pathogen count a little, but not to safe levels if it's contaminated."
Even though half the recipes involving meat tell you to rinse it off (especially chicken and turkey), this is unnecessary and actually dangerous, says Elisabeth Hagen, under- secretary for food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Rinsing meat or poultry with water can actually increase your chance of food poisoning by splashing raw juices and any bacteria they might contain onto your sink and counters."
If the water touched your hands, they're clean.
Think a quick rinse of your hands before you handle food is good enough? Nice try. A good hand-washing takes at least 20 seconds, says Doug Powell, a professor of food safety at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan., who has written research papers on the topic. The real cleansing is done by the friction and force of rubbing your hands together, along with the soap. The temperature of the water doesn't really matter, as it takes 160 degrees to kill bacteria, which would be fine except water that hot would also give you third-degree burns. But warm water does make it more likely you'll spend the necessary 10 seconds scrubbing under vigorously flowing water. And then another 10 seconds of vigorous rubbing with a towel. "The friction rips the microbes off your skin," Powell says.

Tainted sprouts again linked to Jimmy John's
Source :
By Mary clare jalonick (Feb 07, 2012)
Raw sprouts from the sandwich chain Jimmy John's have been linked to an outbreak of foodborne illness — again.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that 12 cases of E. coli poisoning in five states are linked to raw clover sprouts eaten at Jimmy John's restaurants. The outbreak comes a year after raw alfalfa sprouts from one of the chain's suppliers were linked to 140 salmonella illnesses. Sprouts from the chain's suppliers were also linked to a 2009 salmonella outbreak in several Midwestern states and were suspected in an E. coli outbreak in Boulder, Colo. in 2008.
Illinois-based Jimmy John's declined to comment on the outbreak. After the salmonella outbreak a year ago, the company said it would switch from using alfalfa sprouts to using clover sprouts because they are easier to clean. But federal regulators warn against eating all raw sprouts, which are one of the most frequent perpetrators of foodborne illness.
Though they are often touted as a health food, sprouts need warm and humid conditions to grow, encouraging bacterial growth. Many restaurants have stopped serving them after multiple outbreaks, and the government recommends that the very young, elderly, pregnant and others with compromised immune systems stay away from raw sprouts completely. Fully cooked sprouts are safe to eat.
According to the CDC, there have been at least 30 outbreaks associated with raw or lightly cooked sprouts in the United States in the last 15 years and even more around the world, including a 1996 outbreak in Japan that sickened thousands of people with E. coli. Fenugreek sprout seeds from Egypt are thought to have caused a major outbreak of E. coli poisoning in Europe last year that killed more than 50 people.
Illnesses in the current outbreak were reported in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Wisconsin. The illnesses occurred between Dec. 25 and Jan. 15 and two of the victims were hospitalized.
In most sprout outbreaks the restaurant is not to blame for the contamination itself. Contamination usually happens when the seeds are grown or harvested and is often impossible to wash off.
Food safety lawyer Bill Marler has represented victims in the three previous sprout outbreaks potentially linked to Jimmy John's. He has pushed the FDA to require warning labels on sprouts and praises restaurants that have taken them off the menu.
"You have to wonder what this company is thinking," he said.

UK meat processor found guilty of cold chain violation
Source :
By admin(Feb 15, 2012)
A UK meat processing company has been found guilty of failing to keep meat chilled throughout the food chain at the Old Bailey, after being taken to court by the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA).
A C Hopkins was found guilty of an offence under the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 relating to an allegation that the company failed to ensure that pig carcasses were immediately chilled in the slaughterhouse.
When a consignment of pig carcasses was delivered to a company in London, 12 were found to exceed 7°C.
European Union Hygiene Regulations require meat to be kept at no more than 7°C and kept at that temperature during transport.
“The meat ‘cold chain’ always needs to be maintained – this means keeping meat at the correct temperature throughout storage and transport. If it is broken, and the temperature of meat is allowed to rise, dangerous pathogens such as E.coli O157 can grow,” said FSA CEO Tom Smith.
“If this meat is then eaten without thorough cooking, the health consequences can be very serious.”
The company will be sentenced in April.

Coalition finds BPA in baby food, launches effort to further curb chemical's use in Maine
Source :
By Kevin Miller (Feb 14, 2012)
A coalition of Maine health and environmental groups is preparing to launch the next campaign against bisphenol-A, or BPA, on the heels of tests that found the controversial chemical additive in 11 of 12 samples of baby food in the state.
Additionally, coalition members are accusing some prominent baby food manufacturers of violating or attempting to evade Maine’s BPA disclosure rules.
Roughly six weeks ago, new rules took effect banning the use of BPA in children’s sippy cups and other reusable food or beverage containers that are sold in Maine. On Tuesday, Feb. 14, groups will announce plans to petition state regulators to extend that prohibition to containers that hold baby food, infant formula and food marketed at toddlers.
“BPA coming from diet is a significant source of exposure, and that is mostly coming from food containers,” said Amanda Sears, associate director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, a member of the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine.
Noting the success of the BPA ban in sippy cups, Sears added: “This is the next phase of that — getting BPA out of our diets.”
The Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine said recent tests prove that BPA — an additive linked in some studies to learning disabilities, reproductive problems, cancer and obesity — is leaching into baby food. That’s because BPA, in addition to being used as a hardening agent in plastics, is commonly used to make the epoxy liners that form a barrier between metal in cans or lids and food in those containers.
The organization sent away for testing a dozen samples of baby food as well as three types of canned food marketed to young children, including Chef Boyardee macaroni and cheese and Campbell’s Dora the Explorer soup.
Eleven of the 12 baby food samples and all three canned foods tested positive for BPA. The baby food manufacturers were Beech-Nut, Gerber, Earth’s Best Organic and Wild Harvest Organic, which is marketed by the Shaw’s supermarket chain. Gerber recently stopped using BPA in containers while Earth’s Best has pledged to stop using the chemical by October.
Sears did not release details Monday about the levels of BPA found in the baby food.
Although used for decades, BPA has come under heavy scrutiny in recent years as a growing body of medical studies suggest the chemical can pose risks to children and developing fetuses. The chemical industry, meanwhile, continues to defend BPA as safe and points out that such major governmental entities as the World Health Organization have said it would be premature to impose restrictions on the chemical.
The debate occasionally crosses into the political realm, as well. Gov. Paul LePage strongly opposed the current ban because he did not believe there was scientific consensus on the issue. Maine lawmakers disagreed, however, and voted 35-0 in the Senate and 145-3 in the House last year to ban BPA in reusable beverage containers.
The Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine and a group called Mainely Moms and Dads will hold a press conference in the State House on Feb. 14 to discuss the results of the product tests. They also will announce plans to use the state’s citizen-initiated rule-making procedure to request that the Board of Environmental Protection adopt rules prohibiting BPA in infant formula and baby or toddler food containers sold in Maine.
Samantha DePoy-Warren, spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Protection, said she could not comment on the rule-making petition until staff have had a chance to review the proposal. But she said the department appreciates the Environmental Health Strategy Center’s willingness to pay for product testing and has asked for the detailed results.
“Given our [limited] resources, we really see a group like the Environmental Health Strategy Center as a partner,” DePoy-Warren said.
BPA was banned in new, reusable beverage containers sold in Maine beginning Jan. 1 under rules adopted through the 4-year-old state law known as the Kid-Safe Products Act. As part of those rules, manufacturers of baby food, infant formula and some toys also are required to report to the department whether any of their products contain BPA and, if so, whether there were safer, alternative ingredients available.
Some companies have been more forthcoming than others, however, according to both the department and the Environmental Health Strategy Center.
In a Jan. 13 letter to DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho, the center’s Michael Belliveau urged the department to take action against seven manufacturers of baby food or baby toys for potential violations of the disclosure rules.
The group has singled out two baby food manufacturers — Beech-Nut and Wild Harvest Organics — as failing to disclose the use of BPA in components of their packaging.
DePoy-Warren said a “letter of warning” has been drafted for submission to Beech-Nut and is waiting final approval. Department staff have also drafted a letter to be sent to SuperValu, the manufacturer of Wild Harvest Organic products, requesting information certifying that the company is in compliance with state laws regarding BPA, which DePoy-Warren said is an earlier step in the enforcement process. If the companies ultimately fail to address the issues, they could receive notices of violation from the department and could face potential fines.
“In both of these cases, we were already aware of those issues and are pursuing progressive enforcement action” against the companies, DePoy-Warren said.
On Tuesday evening, a spokeswoman from Beech-Nut released the following statement insisting that the company’s packaging no longer contain BPA:
“Nothing is more important to Beech-Nut than the quality and safety of our products,” Beech-Nut said in the statement. “Since October 2011, all Beech-Nut baby and toddler food packaging has been produced without BPA-containing material. This was communicated by Beech-Nut to Maine state officials in November 2011. Reports stating otherwise are incorrect.”
Sears with the Environmental Health Strategy Center noted that all of the manufacturers of infant formula have reportedly stopped using BPA in their containers, which she said indicates that alternatives are available in the marketplace.

U.S. Food Recalls Skyrocketed at End of 2011, ExpertRECALL Index Shows
Source :
By admin(Feb. 14, 2012)
Food recalls across the nation increased 50 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 and affected over 80 percent more units compared with the previous three-month period, according to the quarterly ExpertRECALL, released today. Conversely, the ExpertRECALL Index found that consumer product, pharmaceutical and medical device recalls decreased compared with previous quarters.
Undeclared allergens remained the leading factor in initiating food recalls, accounting for more than a third of food recalls in the quarter. Concerns about Listeria contamination were the second-leading cause of fourth-quarter recalls, accounting for almost 20 percent of all food recalls listed on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's website from October through December.
"Despite the drop in several other categories, the sharp increase in food product recalls is cause for concern," said Mike Rozembajgier, Vice President of Recalls at Stericycle ExpertRECALL. "Food recalls are challenging because they affect all consumers. Ensuring consumer safety during food recalls is complicated further when food is repackaged for storage or put in re-sealable containers, eliminating any chance of identifying the food in our homes as having been recalled."
"Another issue is that with so many recalls being initiated, consumers suffering from 'recall fatigue' may pay less attention to recall announcements than they should," added Rozembajgier. "In this current environment, manufacturers and retailers must take extra care to ensure that consumers are receiving the right messages about recalls and that they are encouraged to respond appropriately."
The number of consumer product recalls hit a five-quarter low, with laceration risks reported as the leading cause. Children's and infant product recalls decreased for the third straight quarter, also hitting a five-quarter low. More than a third of these recalls were initiated by the CPSC because of a concern that children might choke on small parts.
Pharmaceutical recalls declined 35 percent, returning to levels consistent with the first and second quarter of 2011. But while the number of recalls declined, the number of individual units affected shot up by more than 200 percent.
"While the number of pharmaceutical recalls dropped during the fourth quarter, this trend can be deceiving. In fact, the decrease in documented recall events are a stark contrast to the surge in the number of units affected," said Rozembajgier. "This should worry manufacturers and retailers responsible for getting potentially dangerous products off the shelves, and serve as a good example of just how complicated a recall can be, and why effective recall management is critical to public health and safety."
According to FDA Enforcement reports, medical device recalls decreased by more than 60 percent in the fourth quarter, affecting 57 percent fewer units compared with the previous quarter.
The 2011 fourth-quarter ExpertRECALL Index is the only report that aggregates and tracks cumulative recall data from the CPSC and the FDA. Stericycle ExpertRECALL compiles the ExpertRECALL Index from data issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The ExpertRECALL Index report is available online at .

Feds shut down Amish farm for selling fresh milk
Source :
By Stephen Dinan (Feb 13, 2012)
The FDA won its two-year fight to shut down an Amish farmer who was selling fresh raw milk to eager consumers in the Washington, D.C., region after a judge this month banned Daniel Allgyer from selling his milk across state lines and he told his customers he would shut down his farm altogether.
The decision has enraged Mr. Allgyer’s supporters, some of whom have been buying from him for six years and say the government is interfering with their parental rights to feed their children.
But the Food and Drug Administration, which launched a full investigation complete with a 5 a.m. surprise inspection and a straw-purchase sting operation against Mr. Allgyer’s Rainbow Acres Farm, said unpasteurized milk is unsafe and it was exercising its due authority to stop sales of the milk from one state to another.
Adding to Mr. Allgyer’s troubles, Judge Lawrence F. Stengel said that if the farmer is found to violate the law again, he will have to pay the FDA’s costs for investigating and prosecuting him.
His customers are wary of talking publicly, fearing the FDA will come after them.
“I can’t believe in 2012 the federal government is raiding Amish farmers at gunpoint all over a basic human right to eat natural food,” said one of them, who asked not to be named but received weekly shipments of eggs, milk, honey and butter from Rainbow Acres, a farm near Lancaster, Pa. “In Maryland, they force taxpayers to pay for abortions, but God forbid we want the same milk our grandparents drank.”
The FDA, though, said the judge made the right call in halting Mr. Allgyer’s cross-border sales.
“Intrastate sale of raw milk is allowed in Pennsylvania, and Mr. Allgyer had previously received a warning letter advising him that interstate sale of raw milk for human consumption is illegal,” agency spokeswoman Siobhan DeLancey said.
Neither the FDA nor the Justice Department, which pursued the legal case, provided numbers to The Washington Times on the cost of the investigation and court fight. Fans of fresh milk, which they also call raw milk, attribute all kinds of health benefits to it, including better teeth and stronger immune systems. Raw milk is particularly popular among parents who want it for their children.
In a unique twist, the movement unites people on the left and the right who argue that the federal government has no business controlling what people choose to consume.
In a rally last year, they drank fresh milk in a park across Constitution Avenue from the Senate.
But the FDA says it concluded, after extensive study along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that raw milk is never safer than pasteurized milk. It disputes those who say pasteurization — the process of heating food to kill harmful organisms — makes it less healthy.
Many food-safety researchers say pasteurization, which became widespread in the 1920s and 1930s, dramatically reduced instances of milk-transmitted diseases such as typhoid fever and diphtheria.
The FDA began looking into Mr. Allgyer’s operations in late 2009, when an investigator in the agency’s Baltimore office used aliases to sign up for a Yahoo user group made up of Rainbow Acres customers.
The investigator placed orders for fresh milk and had it delivered to private residences in Maryland, where it was picked up and documented as evidence in the case. By crossing state lines, the milk became part of interstate commerce and thus subject to the FDA’s ban.
At one point, FDA employees made a 5 a.m. visit to Mr. Allgyer’s farm. He turned them away, but not before they observed milk containers labeled for shipment to Maryland.
After the FDA first took action, Mr. Allgyer changed his business model. He arranged to sell shares in the cows to his customers, arguing that they owned the milk and he was only transferring it to them.
Judge Stengel called that deal “merely a subterfuge.”“The practical result of the arrangement is that consumers pay money to Mr. Allgyer and receive raw milk,” the judge wrote in a 13-page opinion.
Grassfed On the Hill Buying Club has about 500 active members. Liz Reitzig, a mother who has become a raw-milk activist and is an organizer of the group, said the lawyers who pursued the case against Mr. Allgyer ought to “be ashamed.” “Many families are dependent on the milk for health reasons or nutritional needs, so a lot of people will be desperately trying to find another source now,” she said.

New Rapid Analysis of Foodborne Pathogens
Source :
By admin(Feb 14, 2012)
Georgia Tech researchers, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have developed a new software for the rapid analysis of foodborne pathogens. The Computational Genomics Pipeline (CG-pipeline) software platform can be used to analyze any microbial genome sequence, and already has been applied to bacteria that cause a variety of infectious diseases, including cholera, Salmonella and bacterial meningitis.
“Determining the order of DNA bases for an entire genome has become relatively cheap and easy in recent years because of technological advancements," said the researchers. “The hard part is figuring out what the genome sequence information means. Our software takes that next step. It analyzes the sequences, finds the genes and provides clues as to which genes are involved in making people sick. Manually, this process used to take weeks, months or a year. Now it takes us about 24 hours."
The CG-pipeline software has been used to analyze last summer’s outbreak of severe Escherichia coli infections that started in Germany and eventually led to illnesses in 16 European countries, Canada and the United States. It was one of the largest E. coli outbreaks in history, causing 50 deaths and 4,075 confirmed worldwide cases. The bacterium was traced to sprouts. The software was used to determine that genetic material from two previously distinct strains of E. coli was combined in a new, hyper-virulent strain. The resulting hybrid strain seems to be more lethal than either of the parent strains.
The software also was used to analyze last year’s outbreak of listeriosis in the United States. That outbreak was traced back to cantaloupes from a single farm in Colorado that were tainted with Listeria. Over the span of several months, there were 146 confirmed cases of listeriosis and 30 deaths, making it the deadliest outbreak of foodborne illness in the United States. Using the CG-pipeline, the researchers identified an important epidemiological genomic marker that will help track invasive strains of Listeria.

'No reports of injury' says Fonterra after massive butter recall
Source :
By Ben Bouckley(Feb 14, 2012)
Fonterra has recalled 410,000 packs of butter after consumer complaints about the presence of ‘fine metal objects’, and has moved quickly to limit fallout from the incident.
A Fonterra spokeswoman told that FBNZ (Fonterra Brands New Zealand) had undertaken a voluntary recall as a precautionary measure “as there can be no compromise to product quality or the health and safety of our consumers”.
She added: “The recall follows two isolated complaints received from consumers who had found a fine metal object in their butter product. There have been no reports of anyone being injured.”
Two isolated complaints
Two isolated complaints were received a month apart, the spokeswoman said, with the most recent complaint received on February 9.
The recall relates to 500g packs of Mainland Salted Butter and Anchor Salted Butter with the respective batch codes ‘Batch CV12’ (best before date January 10) and ‘Batch CV28’ (best before date January 26).
The spokeswoman said that packs subject to complaints were produced at Fonterra’s second largest New Zealand manufacturing site in Whareroa on the North Island.
According to the firm’s website, the facility is also the nation’s largest butter plant, making enough butter weekly to fill nearly three rugby pitches with 500g blocks.
The products were sold in New Zealand alone, and the company said that none of its other brands were affected. “There’s a thorough investigation underway [as to the cause of the metal’s presence],” the spokeswoman said.
Warn family and friends
Peter McClure, FBNZ managing director, said: “We advise anyone with family or friends who may have bought this product to contact them in case they do not see or hear this announcement.”
FBNZ said consumers should not consume the products in question, but should return them to the point of purchase with their packaging for a refund.
The company added that it had issued food recall notices in daily newspapers across New Zealand this week, while the relevant authorities had been notified.
The Whareoa facility also produces Mozzarella cheese for around 7.8m pizzas per year, and its five dryers convert milk into instant whole, skim and butter milk powers.
In addition to its butter plant, the site also houses two cheese-making facilities that produce products for retail and food service sale.

Caterers reminded of the dangers of Ecoli
Source :
By admin(Feb 12, 2012)
CATERING companies operating in and around Darlington have been urged to comply with national food safety guidance to prevent Ecoli outbreaks.
Darlington Borough Council’s environmental health team has contacted caterers, which includes restaurants, pubs making food on site, hotels, coffee shops, home and outdoor caterers, canteens and take away shops, to remind them to follow the Food Standards Agency’s guidance on the use of disinfectants when cleaning premises and equipment.
The environmental health team has provided caterers with a list of products that comply with the standards and will check for compliance with the guidance at routine food hygiene inspections.
Failure to comply with the guidance at a food hygiene inspection will affect a caterer’s food hygiene rating – a widely publicised rating made available to the public.
Chris McEwan, the council’s cabinet member for economy and regeneration, said: “The importance of complying with food hygiene safety guidance and legislation cannot be understated.
“Caterers preparing food for the public cannot afford to get it wrong – the public’s health and their business’ reputation is on the line.”
A spokeswoman for Darlington Borough Council said the guidance was routine and not a reaction to any event

Tests find mold, fecal bacteria in children's lunch boxes
Source :
By Raleigh (Feb 09, 2012)
Parents wouldn’t serve their children peanut butter and jelly with mold or a ham sandwich with a side of fecal coliforms, but those combinations are popping up in lunch boxes, according to a 5 On Your Side investigation with North Carolina State University.
WRAL News teamed up with an N.C. State scientist and her graduate students to study germs in children’s lunch boxes and on trays at fast food restaurants and mall food courts.
"We're looking for evidence of fecal contamination, the presence of listeria, which is an indication of some sort of environmental contamination, and the presence of staphylococcus, which can come from mucous membranes or hands, or things like that,” said Dr. LeAnn Jaykus, a food science professor at N.C. State.
Listeria and staphylococcus can be found everywhere, and, in small doses, are not typically harmful. Listeria causes disease most often in pregnant women and the elderly. However, fecal coliform, in any amount, is a sanitation concern.
Jaykus and her graduate students swabbed about 100 lunch boxes at Exploris Middle School in Raleigh, which agreed to be part of the study. They also gathered 45 samples from trays at fast food restaurants and mall food courts around Raleigh and eastern North Carolina.
“The trays were really boring,” Jaykus said. “We found no evidence of fecal contamination, no evidence of listeria (and) no evidence of staph.”
She attributes that to the fact that most restaurants wiped off their trays between customers and used paper liners to keep the trays clean. The students’ lunch boxes, on the other hand, “were fun” to examine, Jaykus said.
“I mean, that’s classic mold right there,” she said, pointing to results from one of the lunch boxes.
Half of the lunch boxes tested positive for low levels of staphylococcus, and 3 percent tested positive for listeria. Jaykus says those levels “would not be of any kind of concern.”
"The fact that your lunch box is dirty is kind of grody, but it's not necessarily an indication of a health problem,” she said. However, the presence of fecal matter did concern her.
“This was actually a surprise to me,” she said. “I would say that about 15 percent of the (lunch box) samples showed some evidence of fecal contamination.”
Jaykus says the likely source is kids who don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. She suggests parents talk with their children about proper hygiene and wash their lunch boxes every week.
“You could see mold growth. You could see caked food product. You could see that these lunch pails had not been cleaned for a very, very long time,” Jaykus said. “Just so the moms and dads out there know, after we took the samples, we did sanitize the lunch boxes.”
The study focused on risks associated with bacteria, not with viruses. Jaykus says her group plans to publish the results of the tests.

76 Now Ill with Campylobacter from Raw Milk Dairy
Source :
by James Andrews( Feb 15, 2012)
An additional five confirmed infections have brought the total number of Campylobacter illnesses to 76 in an outbreak linked to raw milk from Your Family Cow dairy in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department of Health said Wednesday. At least 9 people have been hospitalized.
Four of the new cases surfaced in Pennsylvania, while another appeared in Maryland. The new breakdown of illnesses by state is as follows: Pennsylvania (66 illnesses), Maryland (5), West Virginia (3), New Jersey (2).
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene noted that four of its five victims are under the age of 18.

Clover sprouts sicken Jimmy Johns diners
Source :
By JoNel Aleccia (Feb 17, 2012)
At least 12 people in five states have been sickened by a rare strain of E. coli linked to raw clover sprouts served at Jimmy Johns Gourmet Sandwiches restaurants, federal health officials reported Wednesday.
The victims fell ill in late December and mid-January, apparently after they ate clover sprouts grown from seeds contaminated with E. coli O26. That strain is similar to, but not as common as the E. coli O157:H7 often associated with illness outbreaks caused by ground beef.
More victims may be pending, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated.
Traceback information has identified a common lot of clover seeds used to grow the sprouts, CDC officials said. The strain of E. coli O126 has rarely been identified before in PulseNet, the CDC’s surveillance tool.
The bacteria responsible for the Jimmy Johns outbreak are part of a group known as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, or STEC, which make poisons that can cause severe disease, including bloody diarrhea and hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, which can be fatal.
A widespread outbreak of another non-O157 STEC was responsible for devastating illnesses in Europe last summer, a crisis eventually traced to contaminated sprout seeds.
In the current outbreak, victims were sickened in five states, including five in Iowa, three in Missouri, two in Kansas and one each in Arkansas and Wisconsin, the CDC said.
Ill people ranged between 9 and 49 years old; all were female. Among the 12 sickened, 2 were hospitalized. Illnesses were reported between Dec. 25, 2011 and Jan. 15, 2012.
Illnesses that occurred after Jan. 27 might not have been logged yet because of the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the case is reported.
This is the fourth outbreak tied to sprouts served at Jimmy Johns restaurants. Previous outbreaks were logged in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to CDC reports.

Outbreak Linked to Raw Sprouts Sickens 12
Source :
by Mary Rothschild (Feb 15, 2012)
Twelve people in fives states have been infected with E. coli O26 in an outbreak linked to raw clover sprouts served at Jimmy John's sandwich restaurants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Iowa has reported five cases, Missouri three, Kansas two, while Arkansas and Wisconsin have each reported one person infected with the outbreak strain, the CDC said in an investigation report Wednesday.
Those sickened range in age from 9 to 49 years old. Median age is 25. All the victims are female. Two of the 12 have been hospitalized.
The CDC says the onset of their illnesses ranged from Dec. 25, 2011 to Jan. 15, 2012.
"Preliminary results of the epidemiologic and traceback investigations indicate eating raw clover sprouts at Jimmy John's restaurants is the likely cause of this outbreak," the CDC concluded in its report.
Raw sprouts served on sandwiches at Jimmy John's restaurants have been associated with multiple foodborne illness outbreaks in recent years.
In 2008, at least 19 E. coli O157:H7 cases were linked to alfalfa sprouts sold at Colorado Jimmy John's restaurants. In 2009, 228 people became ill in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Kansas after eating  Salmonella-contaminated sprouts at several restaurants, including Jimmy John's outlets.
In late 2010, a 16-state Salmonella outbreak that struck 94 people was linked, in part, to alfalfa and spicy sprouts served at Jimmy John's restaurants, while a separate outbreak of Salmonella a month later, which sickened seven people in Oregon and Washington, was also tied to Jimmy John's sandwiches.
Following those outbreaks, the company announced it was switching from alfalfa sprouts to clover sprouts nationwide.
In this latest outbreak, there's strong epidemiologic evidence tying the illnesses to the Jimmy John's chain.
Among 11 of the ill people who gave information to investigators, 10  -- or 91 percent  -- reported eating at a Jimmy John's restaurant in the week before they became sick. Among those 10, eight said they ate a sandwich containing sprouts and 9 reported eating a sandwich containing lettuce.
The ill people ate at nine different Jimmy John's locations in four states, the CDC reported.
A traceback investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues, but the CDC said preliminary evidence points to a common lot of clover seeds used to germinate the sprouts served at the Jimmy John's outlets where the sick people ate.
"FDA and states conducted a traceback that identified two separate sprouting facilities; both used the same lot of seed to grow clover sprouts served at these Jimmy John's restaurant locations," the report stated. "On February 10, 2012, the seed supplier initiated notification of sprouting facilities that received this lot of clover seed to stop using it. Investigations are ongoing to identify other locations that may have sold clover sprouts grown from this seed lot."
At this time, the CDC said no other restaurants or grocery stores are associated with the outbreak.
PulseNet, the national surveillance system of foodborne illnesses, is being used to identify additional cases that might be part of the outbreak.
But the E. coli serotype in this latest outbreak is rare, and the genetic fingerprint pattern has never been seen before in PulseNet, the CDC said. The 026 serotype is among the so-called "Big Six" E. coli strains soon to be regulated in ground beef.
The CDC notes that because non-O157 E. coli strains are more difficult to identify than E. coli O157:H7, many clinical laboratories do not test stool specimens for them and therefore O26 infections may go undiagnosed and unreported.
When Jimmy John's began serving raw clover sprouts a year ago, it did so saying it hoped to decrease the chances of contamination. Clover seeds are smoother than alfalfa seeds, and presumably easier to sanitize.
Sprouts, which have been the cause of many foodborne epidemics, are considered a high-risk food because they have the potential to carry large amounts of pathogens. If the seeds used to germinate sprouts become contaminated with feces from domestic or wild animals - perhaps through contaminated water or improperly composted manure fertilizer - the  sprouts will also be contaminated. The warm, moist conditions used to grow sprouts permit harmful bacteria to rapidly multiply.
Citing food safety concerns, Walmart stopped carrying sprouts in its stores in October 2010. Last month, the national restaurant chain Jason's Deli announced it would not serve sprouts for the remainder of 2012 and possibly 2013.
Since 2000, sprouts have been linked to 30 foodborne illness outbreaks in North America, Europe and Australia, including last spring's outbreak of E. coli O104:H4 centered in Germany, which sickened 4,321 people and killed more than 50. That outbreak has been linked to sprouts grown from contaminated fenugreek seeds.
The continued use of raw sprouts in the face of multiple outbreaks has many baffled, including food safety attorney Bill Marler, publisher of Food Safety News. "As a business man I am left wondering why a company would continue to take this kind of financial and public relations risk," Marler said in a news release. "As a food safety advocate I am concerned that customer safety is not being taken seriously."
"When people think of sprouts, they think of a health food. They aren't thinking about serious illness, hospitalization, or worse," he said. "However, the track record for sprouts suggests that consumers ought to know the dangers. And, of course the onus for providing this information falls on those who are selling sprouts."
Marler has suggested that sprout growers include a warning label on their product that alerts consumers to the risks associated with consuming raw sprouts.

Two Toronto high school cafeterias hit with food safety infractions
Source :
By Emily Jackson (Feb 14, 2012)
Toronto’s food inspection agency has slapped the downtown Central Technical School and Etobicoke’s Lakeshore Collegiate Institute with food safety violations.
The DineSafe infractions include improper water temperature in the dishwasher, an old potato peeler that needed to be thrown out, butcher blocks that required refinishing and a dirty oven exhaust hood.
But high school students shouldn’t be afraid of eating at the cafeterias, said Sylvanus Thompson of Toronto Public Health.
“If there is a health hazard, we would close the establishment,” Thompson said.
The violations at both schools happened under the watch of their culinary arts programs, said Toronto school board spokeswoman Zoya McGroarty. At Central Tech, this food is not served to students and only occasionally sold to staff, she said.
Both schools received a “conditional pass” grade from inspectors and the kitchens remained open. All infractions were either rectified immediately or are in the process of being fixed, McGroarty said, adding the board takes such matters very seriously.
The city inspects school cafeterias three times a year and the board conducts “surprise audits” of its food services to ensure safety

Amidst its attempts to de-regulate locally produced foods entirely, will New Hampshire legislature consider an insurance requirement?
Source :
by Drew Falkenstein( February 13, 2012)
Or is insurance, too, beneath the "live free or die" mantra that is currently being taken to the extreme by a few folks in New Hampshire.  Food freedom is one thing, but de-regulating what I'm sure is a sizeable industry in the state is not without its problems.  The Legislature seems comfortable with the safety risks that deregulation poses, and its not my intent to tell them they've not thought long or hard enough about those risks (the answer to that is clear), but have the legislators who are pushing bills 1650 and 1402 thought at all about requiring insurance, or if that is too onerous, perhaps an injury fund that will help severely injured people deal with present and future medical costs.
Do not think that this isn't a problem.  It's a problem everywhere, in states where there is no attempt to simply allow food producers to opt out of food safety regulation entirely, and it will be a problem in a state that is on the precipice of allowing exactly that.  Raw milk producers are the primary offenders--i.e. producing a product with known risks and not doing right by customers by having insurance in place to address medical costs, past and future, for severely injured people--and it is no enticement toward insuring a business to completely de-regulate it.
These bills will:
•eliminate license requirements for so-called homestead food and allowing on-farm sales of raw milk products
•exempt home-based operations with annual sales of $10,000 or less and exclude potentially hazardous food from license requirements (potentially hazardous foods, including acidified and low-acid canned foods, are those requiring temperate controls because they are "capable of supporting the rapid growth of pathogenic or toxigenic microorganisms" such as Clostridium botulinum (botulism)).
•Permit home and roadside sales and transactions at farmers' markets.
•Allow raw milk dairies that produce 20 gallons or less a day to operate without being licensed; these dairies could also sell other raw milk-based products. 
These bills will also result in more foodborne illness.  At the very least, Legislators should put some thought in to what comes out the other end of this process.  It's not just going to be rich butter, cream, and bucolic goodness.  This is the real world.

Amish raw dairyman enjoined from further raw milk SALES
Source :
by Drew Falkenstein on February 12, 2012
A federal district court judge has ruled in the Daniel Allgyer matter, holding that Allgyer cannot sell anymore raw milk to a buying club located across state lines (Allgyer's dairy is in Pennsylvania).  Jon Rutter profiled the judge's opinion at Lancaster online:
In his opinion, Stengel discounted an arrangement by which a private group, Right to Choose Healthy Food's Rawesome Club, was leasing Allgyer's cows and distributing milk to Grassfed on The Hill members.
Buyers each paid a $25 fee to join the Rawesome Club, according to court papers.
But, Stengel wrote, such "cow sharing" transactions amounted to a "subterfuge" in which raw milk was taken out of state and left at a "drop point."
This issue, and this case specifically, has been percolating for some time, and it is good to see a judge put pen to paper on the issue of whether cow-shares are a valid legal arrangement for selling raw milk in states that don't allow it, or across state lines.  His reasoning sounds familiar--i.e. that the FDA does have the power to regulate the interstate distribution of raw milk under the commerce clause, and that so-called cow-shares are a sham.  It validates my opinion a couple of years ago in an article on Food Safety News titled "Cow Share Agreements: Fooling Nobody," followed by "Raw Milk, An Issue of Safety or Freedom?"
Seems like there is a bit of a disconnect between raw milk proponents and valid legal analysis.  Honestly, their case is more effectively fought in the halls of state legislatures and city halls nationally, not in courthouses.

Hepatitis A exposure at Cheesecake Factory in Boise, Idaho
Source :
by Drew Falkenstein (Feb 10, 2012)
According to the Idaho Statesman, an employee at the Cheesecake Factory on Milwaukee Avenue in Boise may have exposed some diners at the restaurant to Hepatitis A this winter.  The Statesman's report is based on information from the Central District Health Department.
Health officials said the exposure may have occurred between Dec. 13 and Jan. 22.
The employee who was confirmed to have Hepatitis A wasn't involved in food preparation, and the risk to the public is "extremely low" -- but there was some possibility of exposure to diners, the health department said. The employee is said to have used good hand hygiene.
Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. It is usually spread by eating or drinking food items that have been contaminated with hepatitis A from someone who hasn’t properly washed their hands after using the bathroom, but it is also spread easily when a person doesn't wash his or her hands after changing a baby's diaper.
Symptoms of the disease include: fever, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, jaundice, tiredness, nausea and dark urine. Anyone who ate at the Cheesecake Factory between Dec. 13. and Jan. 22 and has these symptoms is advised to see their doctor. Symptoms vary from mild to severe, lasting anywhere from a couple weeks to several months.
Health officials said the Cheesecake Factory, which is at 330 N. Milwaukee Ave., fully cooperated with the investigation.

Norovirus caused cheerleader illness outbreak, state says
Source :
By JoNel Aleccia (Feb 10, 2012)
Health officials confirmed Friday that a fast-acting gut bug known as norovirus is responsible for an outbreak of illness that sickened more than 200 people gathered for a cheerleading championship in Washington state last weekend.
Results of state laboratory tests showed that that the nasty group of viruses caused the short-but-severe vomiting and diarrhea that affected some people who participated in and attended the state championship and Salute to Spirit cheerleading, dance and drill team event held in Everett, Wash. Norovirus is typically spread through person-to-person contact.
The outbreak was likely precipitated by people who were ill in public, said Suzanne Pate, spokeswoman for the Snohomish Health District.
"Somebody arrived at the event sick," said Pate, noting that janitorial crews were called to clean up vomit in a restroom and on an adjacent walkway. Those areas were likely exposure sites for the cheer and dance teams, she said.
Some 229 people were sickened and least 33 people sought medical attention for their illnesses, state health officials said late Friday. That number is expected to grow as the investigation continues.
More than 3,000 people attended the event Feb. 4, which included more than 1,000 competitors at the Comcast Arena, a popular venue for large gatherings.
A Comcast Arena spokeswoman said officials had sanitized the premises in accordance with federal health guidelines before a new event scheduled for Friday night. Tests of the arena's water supply showed no problems, Pate said.
"It's probably the best-scrubbed place in the county," she added.
State health officials are conducting an online survey of 2000 event participants and their families to identify a common source of illness. Participants have until Feb. 13 to submit the surveys, and results should be available soon after that.
About 20 million cases of gastrointestinal illness are caused by noroviruses each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thorough hand-washing with hot water and soap and immediate sanitizing of contaminated surfaces and clothing is recommended to prevent the spread of the bug. If symptoms last longer than 48 hours, people should seek medical care.
Cheerleading camps or competitions have been the source of previous outbreaks, including a 2002 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Eastern Washington.


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