08/06,2012
ISSUE:507

                                 

Comprehensive News List
General Food Safety News/ Outbreak News/ Recall News/ New Methods News/
USDA/FDA News
/ On-Line Slides/ Job Information/Internet Journal of Food Safety


Canadian Partnership To Map Listeria Genome
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/canadian-partnership-to-map-listeria-genome/
By Carla Gillespie (AUG 04, 2012)
Could a map of the Listeria genome aid development of more rapids tests for the foodborne pathogen?
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Genome Canada and Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions think so and have formed a partnership
on a $600,000 project to do just that.
Though not as common as other foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella or E.coli, Listeria monocytogenes is harder to kill and creates an infection,
called listeriosis, that is always serious and often deadly. About 95 percent of listeriosis patients require hospitalization and for 18 percent,
the disease proves fatal, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Current tests for Listeria take five days, cutting down that time would allow public health officials to more quickly identify contaminated foods
and reduce risk for consumers. “This project is a step the Harper Government is taking to demonstrate how Canada’s research leadership can be used to benefit
Canadian society by investigating innovative and more timely techniques to protect our food supply,” said Gary Goodyear, Canada’s Minister of State for Science
and Technology.
Pierre Meulien, President and CEO, Genome Canada, said:
“Genomics research will bring a new level of advanced innovation and technology to food safety.
We expect to provide the means to enable both the food industry and food regulators to respond swiftly to food safety investigations by identifying a potentially
dangerous food contaminant as quickly as possible to prevent or limit the impact of an outbreak.”
Last year, 146 people in 28 states contracted listeriosis from tainted cantaloupe produced by Jensen Farms in Holly, Colo.
More than 30 people died and one woman who was pregnant miscarried. In Canada, a 2008 Listeria outbreak linked to contaminated cold cuts produced
by Maple Leaf Foods of Toronto sickened 57 people and killed 22.
The 18-month Listeria genome project will be funded by an investment of $250,000 each from Genome Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency,
and $100,000 from Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions.

Research Could Lead to E. coli O104 Treatments
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/08/research-could-lead-to-e-coli-o104-treatments/
By James Andrews (AUG 03, 2012)
Last year's German E. coli outbreak made headlines around the world in May and June as it sickened nearly 3,800 people and killed 50, distinguishing it as
the single deadliest foodborne illness outbreak of all time. The outbreak was a dramatic entrance to the world stage for the microbe at the center of it all,
a little-known strain of E. coli known as O104:H4, that caused German authorities facing a nation of overwhelmed hospitals to declare on May 22,
"Clearly, we are faced with an unusual situation."
O104 managed to wreak such an unprecedented level of devastation in Germany thanks to evolutionary adaptations that combined the defensive traits of
some harmless strains with the deadly traits of Shiga toxin-producing strains such as O157:H7. While most toxic strains predominantly affect the young and old,
O104 infected otherwise-healthy adults with debilitating illnesses that not only hospitalized a greater proportion, but lasted an average of two weeks instead
of one.
Now, team led by researchers at Michigan State University has determined that those defensive traits O104 picked up from its ancestors just might become
its greatest weakness. The new research, published in the current edition of the journal PLoS ONE, proposes a possible avenue for weakening the virulent
strain and -- if all goes according to theory -- preventing it from causing severe illnesses like those witnessed in Germany.
According to the researchers, the key to O104's success is that unlike other toxic E. coli, it possesses an adaptation that allows multiple bacteria to group
together and form a protective 'biofilm' to ward off its host's defenses.
If scientists could develop a way to disrupt this biofilm, they might be able to defend patients against serious O104 infections that might progress into kidney
failure or even death.
"It does seem like it could be a possibility," said Shannon Manning, Ph.D., molecular biologist at MSU and co-author on the study. "Even if you wipe out
the biofilm, you're still going to get the disease if the toxin is being produced, but it might not be as severe."
Manning told Food Safety News that her and colleagues have a few theories for how to disable the biofilm. One involves breeding mutant O104 strains
genetically designed to fail at biofilm production.
Once in O104-infected humans, these mutant strains could reproduce in a way that genetically 'knocks out' O104's ability to produce the biofilm.
But even then, Manning said, researchers will need to consider how to deliver such a treatment to a population:
"Even if you do find the magical treatment, how do we figure out who to treat?" she asked. "Would we give it to people who are at risk?
People who are already infected? It could be too late by the time symptoms appear."
The team conducted its research by testing O104 and O157 on sets of mice and observing the differences in how each strain affected its host.
The O104-infected mice had approximately twice as long of an incubation period, with some receiving severe kidney lesions after up to two weeks.
Some O104-infected mice showed worse kidney lesions than others, suggesting to Manning that some O104 bacteria forms stronger biofilms than others,
giving the team hope that they can grow mutant strains especially inept at creating the biofilm.
Manning said that she hoped her team's research could prove useful before O104 could cause another disaster like last year's outbreak in Germany.
The rapid nature of microbiological evolution, however, almost guarantees that researchers will need to continue innovating as new strains surprise populations
with unusual situation's reminiscent of Germany's.
"Of course we don't want these outbreaks to happen, but because of microbial evolution, it is likely that we will continue to see new strains emerge," Manning said. "Therefore, we are going to continue to come up with new ways to fight them and hopefully we can decrease the frequency of the life-threatening infections they can cause."

Burch Cantaloupes Recalled for Listeria are Caribbean Gold Variety
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/burch-cantaloupes-recalled-for-listeria-are-caribbean-gold-variety/
By Linda Larsen (AUG 04, 2012)
Burch Equipment, LLC is issuing a correction of the recall of cantaloupes for possible Listeria contamination.
The original recall said the Athena variety of cantaloupes was recalled; the cantaloupes affected by the recall are actually the Caribbean Gold variety.
Athena cantaloupes are not subject to the recall.
This is not an expansion of the original recall. The whole Caribbean Gold variety cantaloupes were shipped between July 15, 2012 and July 27,
2012 and distributed in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia.
The cantaloupes in the recall still have the red label reading “Burch Farms” with PLU # 4319. Some of the cantaloupes may have a “Cottle Strawberry, Inc.”
sticker with PLU # 4319.
There have been no reported illnesses to date, although the incubation time for Listeria bacteria can be as long as 70 days. It’s possible that someone
who ate the cantaloupe could start showing symptoms in late September.
The original recall was for 580 cases of cantaloupe and was issued on July 28, 2012. The recall was expanded on August 2, 2012 because FDA inspectors
found unsanitary conditions at the Burch Equipment cantaloupe packing shed.

Food Safety: The Week In Food Recalls And Outbreaks -- July 29 to August 5
Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/03/food-safety-outbreaks_n_1735284.html
By Part of HuffPost Food Group (AUG 03, 2012)
This week has been a doozy for food safety. We mean it: a giant onion recall, a large-scale cantaloupe recall and a massive norovirus outbreak are just a
few of the many things that have us feeling queasy. It's probably just in our heads, though, right? Right??
It's worth noting that all these events come on the heels of a report by the Consumer Federation of America,
which says the Center for Disease Control has fallen short of its goals to reduce the number of salmonella and listeria infections.
If you're not too freaked out -- let's be honest, the best weapon against infection is information
-- we suggest perusing the below list of this week's most dangerous food safety issues. Recalls, food poisoning outbreaks and all! Continue on at your own risk.
Gills Onions announced a massive voluntary recall, citing a possible listeria contamination.
The recall extends across several states and Canada. The onions in question were used in products sold at Trader Joe's Whole Foods, Weis,
Publix and Wegman's stores. On the bright side, no illnesses have been reported.
Kenosha Beef International Ltd. is recalling nearly 19 tons of frozen bacon-cheeseburger patties that may contain foreign materials.
The patties, which were distributed in Indiana, Maine, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin, may contain pieces of gasket material.
The USDA said the company was alerted to the problem when a consumer complained.
Two hundred people were sickened with Norovirus last week after eating at a Michigan Mexican eatery.
Margarita's Restuarant in Holland, Mich. voluntarily closed for a thorough cleaning after the discovery.
Home-canned beets were the source of three botulism hospitalizations in Oregon.
The beets had not been acidified or processed sufficiently, creating the ideal environment for botulism.
Potential listeria contamination sparks the recall of 580 cantaloupe crates.
North Carolina's Burch Farm shipped the fruit to Hannaford supermarkets in New York, but they've since been removed from shelves.
Taco Bell employee Cameron Jankowski was tracked down by hacker group Anonymous after he tweeted an image of himself urinating on nachos.
The Fort Wayne, Indiana worker has since been suspended and will be fired.
Another airline passenger found a needle in his food aboard an Air Canada flight.
The sewing needle was found in a sandwich aboard a flight from Victoria, British Columbia, to Toronto. It follows several similar incidences earlier in July,
in sandwiches on Delta Air Lines flights from Amsterdam to Minneapolis, Seattle and Atlanta.
Enslin & Son Packing Company recalled about 314 pounds of sausage products, citing a listeria risk.
The Mississippi company voluntarily recalled its "Cedar Grove Red Hots," which had been shipped to stores elsewhere in the state.

Listeria fears expand N.C. cantaloupe recall; feds find 'unsanitary conditions'
Source : http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/02/13091690-listeria-fears-expand-nc-cantaloupe-recall-feds-find-unsanitary-conditions?lite&__utma=238145375.1260771225.1340239740.1343957192.1344214439.20&__utmb=238145375.1.10.1344214439&__utmc=238145375&__
utmx=-&__utmz=238145375.1340585870.3.2.utmcsr=t.co|utmccn=(referral)|utmcmd=referral|utmcct=/MDZzzqxm&__utmv=238145375.|8=Earned%20By=
msnbc%7Chealth%7Cfood%20safety=1^12=Landing%20Content=Mixed=1^13=Landing%20Hostname=www.msnbc.msn.com=1^30=Visit%20Type%20to%20
Content=Earned%20to%20Mixed=1&__utmk=261309006
By JoNel Aleccia, NBC News (AUG 02, 2012)
Federal health inspectors have found unsanitary conditions at a North Carolina cantaloupe packing shed, leading to an expanded recall of melons that may be
potentially contaminated with listeria.
Burch Equipment LLC of Faison, N.C., is pulling 188,902 melons from store shelves in 10 states because of possible contamination that can cause illness and
death, particularly in the very young, the very old, pregnant women and those with health problems. 
The company's voluntary recall comes nearly a year after one of the deadliest foodborne illness outbreaks in U.S. history, in which contaminated Colorado
cantaloupes sickened at least 147 people, including at least 30 who died and one woman who had a miscarriage.
Advertise | AdChoicesThe new recall of 13,888 cases of whole Caribbean Gold cantaloupes follows an earlier recall of 580 cases of the summer fruit.
Burch officials originally identified the variety as Athena cantaloupes, but later revised that to indicate the recalled fruit are the Caribbean Gold variety. 
Federal Food and Drug Administration officials and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture are conducting an ongoing inspection at Burch Farms.
The FDA warned this week that consumers should not eat the summer melons, which carry a red Burch Farms label and the code PLU #4319.
The melons were shipped between July 15 and July 27 and distributed to retail stores in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey,
New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia.
Consumers should discard the melons, the FDA said.
No illnesses have been reported in connection with the Burch Farms melons, according to a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Listeria monocytogenes infections can cause symptoms including high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
But the possibility of another bout of contaminated cantaloupe has stunned at least one family affected by last year's listeria outbreak caused by Jensen Farms of
Holly, Colo.
“It’s so frustrating. It’s unbelievable,” said Michelle Wakley-Paciorek, mother of Kendall Paciorek, now 10 months, who suffered a life-threatening listeria infection
at birth because of the tainted cantaloupe. “I can’t even tell you. It’s making my eyes tear up, after what everybody’s been through.”
Dirty equipment, faulty sanitation and bad storage practices at Jensen Farms led to the deadly infections, federal officials concluded. The firm has filed for
bankruptcy.
That outbreak led to industry-wide changes in and attention to cantaloupe safety protocols, said Kathy Means, vice president of public affairs for the Produce
Marketing Association. Members of the Rocky Ford Growers Association in Colorado invested between $800,000 and $1 million in safety upgrades,
said spokeswoman Diane Mulligan. 
Advertise | AdChoicesMeans said she couldn’t speak to conditions at the Burch Farms site, but she said that produce growers take the problem “very seriously.”
“We’re always disappointed when anything leads to consumer concerns,” she said.
However, she noted that the contamination was detected, the affected melons were recalled and that no illnesses have been reported to date.
“We wouldn’t want to see anyone stop eating cantaloupe,” she said. “I am confident that the system is working.”
But Wakley-Paciorek said that she no longer buys any melon. To learn that unsanitary conditions were found at another cantaloupe packing shed less than
a year after listeria nearly killed her newborn is dismaying beyond words, she said.
Kendall is developmentally delayed and requires the aid of three physical therapists to help repair the deficits caused by the listeria infection.
“It’s shocking that this could happen again,” she said.
 Related stories on Vitals:
•Missed cantaloupe listeria strain tied to man's death; new crop in stores
•Dirty equipment blamed for deadly outbreak in cantaloupe
•Consumers couldn't have washed away cantaloupe contamination

Microbiological Data Program Discovered Listeria on Recalled Burch Cantaloupes
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/microbiological-data-program-discovered-listeria-on-recalled-burch-cantaloupes/
By Linda Larsen (AUG 02, 2012)
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the only microbiologist in Congress, said on Wednesday that the FDA recall of Burch Equipment cantaloupes for
possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination was prompted by the Microbiological Data Program. That program, which was almost ended July 1, 2012,
is in danger of closing. UPDATE: The Burch recall has just been expanded.
“Today’s announcement reinforces MDP’s value and the need to continue the program that supports roughly 80 percent of produce sampling in America,”
DeLauro said in a statement. “Just a year after the deadliest outbreak in a decade [the Jensen Farms cantaloupe Listeria outbreak], it is encouraging that
no illnesses have been reported in the latest event. However, we must remain vigilant and invest in the programs and agencies that keep American families
safe to prevent an outbreak like last year’s.”
There are differences between the current recall and last year’s outbreak. The Jensen Farms recall was triggered after people became ill and an outbreak
was declared. On September 2, 2011, the Colorado Department of Health notified the CDC that seven people were ill with listeriosis. More people were
reported ill that same week, and the government announced that cantaloupes were the likely cause of the illness. On September 11, 2011,
Jensen Farms was pinpointed as the source of the contaminated fruit.
The current recall was announced before any illnesses were reported. But there may still be an outbreak, since human beings can be infected long before
the symptoms of listeriosis manifest. It can take as long as 70 days, but more commonly 1 to 3 weeks, until symptoms appear after an infection.
That’s why it’s important that anyone who ate cantaloupe who becomes ill with the symptoms of listeriosis through September, 2012 visit a healthcare provider
and tell them they ate cantaloupe.
And that is why the Microbiological Data Program is so important. Rep. DeLauro states, “it is the only program dedicated to improving our understanding of
bacterial contamination in produce.”

Radioactive Oatmeal From Japan Turns Up in Hong Kong
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/radioactive-oatmeal-from-japan-turns-up-in-hong-kong/
By Carla Gillespie (AUG 02, 2012)
Health officials in Hong Kong discovered low levels of Cesium in samples of oatmeal imported from Japan but have declared that there is no risk involved with
consuming the product as the levels are not considered dangerous. Even if Hong Kong residents were to consume large amounts of the oatmeal,
there would be no adverse effects, officials said, and so the suprmarket was not ordered to issue a recall.
“The internal dose of radioactive substances of high consumers from consuming the oats sample for one year is approximately 0.003 millisievert (mSv),
far less than the radiation dose received during a chest X-ray examination (about 0.05 mSv),” a spokesman for the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food
and Environmental Hygiene Department said.
CFS has been conducting radiation testing on foods imported from Japan since March 2011, when equipment failures and nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima
Daiichi Power Plant in Japan released radioactive materials into the atmosphere on a scale not seen since the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.
Because CFS is aware of public concern about radioactivity in food products imported from Japan, it makes information about testing available to consumers
whether or not test results pose a health risk.
“The CFS will continue to closely monitor information from Japan as well as the radiation testing results of Japanese food products in Hong Kong and elsewhere.
It will review and adjust, if necessary, the surveillance strategy on food products imported from Japan in a timely manner, making reference to the
recommendations of international authorities, to safeguard food safety,” he said.
After the disaster, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also began testing foods imported from Japan for radiation. Their last report as of June 20,
2012 states that one sample of seafood had detectable levels of Cesium, but was below the “established Derived Intervention Level (DIL) and
posed no public health concern.

Margarita’s Restaurant in Holland, Michigan Site of Norovirus Outbreak
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/margaritas-restaurant-in-holland-michigan-site-of-norovirus-outbreak/
By Kathy Will (AUG 1st, 2012)
Margarita’s Restaurant at 495 West 17th Street in Holland, Michigan is the site of a norovirus outbreak that has sickened at least 200 people.
The Ottowa County Health Department is informing patrons of that restaurant about the gastrointestinal illness. Public health officials originally asked those
who ate at that restaurant recently and experienced the symptoms of norovirus, to call the Ottawa County Health Department to report their illness.
But the health department is no longer taking calls, saying the overwhelming public response was critical to the investigation.
Symptoms of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, muscle aches, chills, and low-grade fever. Dehydration is a risk with this illness.
Those in high risk groups may have serious complications from the illness. Norovirus is spread through fecal-oral transmission through food, water,
person-to-person contact, or surface-to-person contact.
To help prevent the spread of this virus, which is very contagious, wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap, especially after using the bathroom,
sneezing or coughing, and before preparing or serving food. Stay home when you are sick. Food handlers must stay home for 2 to 3 days after symptoms end.
Disinfect surfaces with a mild bleach solution, and wash soft materials in hot water in a washing machine. Alcohol based hand sanitizers do not work
against norovirus.

Food Safety Guides for Groups Most Vulnerable to Foodborne Illness Now Available .
Source : http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/35251-food-safety-guides-for-groups-most-vulnerable-to-foodborne-illness-now-available-.html
By E News Park Forest (AUG 1st, 2012)
USDA and FDA partner on food safety booklets to help those with compromised immune systems prevent foodborne illness
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Department of Health and Human Services’
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have partnered to create six booklets with food safety advice for populations that are most susceptible to foodborne illness.
The booklets in this “at-risk series” are tailored to help older adults, transplant recipients, pregnant women, and people with cancer, diabetes or HIV/AIDS
reduce their risk for foodborne illness.
“These booklets are a much needed resource for consumers who are at increased risk of getting sick from food,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety
Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. “The clear, understandable information in these booklets will help at-risk individuals feel confident about the safety of foods they prepare
and eat. The booklets are also helpful to physicians and other health care providers for educating their at-risk patients about foodborne illnesses.”
Each of the booklets contains 24 pages of practical guidance on how to prevent foodborne illness. The information is presented in easy-to-read charts,
illustrated how-tos, and straightforward descriptions of why each group is at higher risk for foodborne illness and symptoms that may mean trouble.
The booklets contain three tear-out cards with quick-reference tips for grocery shopping, cooking to the right temperature, and eating at restaurants
for times when taking along the entire booklet would be impractical.
“Everyone from farmers to food manufacturers to food preparers in the home has a role in food safety,” said FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael Taylor.  “It is important that consumers, particularly those who are at higher risk of foodborne illness, have information they can use to do their part in preventing illness by properly selecting and preparing foods.”
While booklets on five of these topics were previously produced in 2006, the two agencies this year created a sixth booklet for pregnant women,
who are at particular risk for the illness listeriosis. The six new booklets list food safety resources, such as www.foodsafety.gov,
that have been made available since the earlier copies were printed.  They also include revised safe cooking temperatures for meat and poultry:
145 °F for whole cuts of meat, followed by a three-minute rest time; 160 °F for ground meats; and 165 °F for all poultry and leftovers.
FSIS and FDA have mailed copies of the booklets to physicians around the country who treat patients in any of these six categories,
and the booklets are available to the public free of charge. Additionally, the booklets are downloadable in PDF format at
www.foodsafety.gov/poisoning/risk/index.html. To order booklets for your home, office, or organization, call the toll-free USDA Meat and
Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) weekdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET, or email requests to fsis.outreach@usda.gov">
fsis.outreach@usda.gov. Consumers with food safety questions are encouraged to “Ask Karen,”
the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at www.AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov.
“Ask Karen” live chat services are available in English and Spanish weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET.
As part of a multi-faceted approach to prevent foodborne illness, the USDA and the FDA joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and
the Ad Council to launch Food Safe Families, a consumer food safety education campaign. It is the first joint public service campaign to empower families
to further reduce their risk of foodborne illness at home by checking their key food safety steps: clean, separate, cook, and chill. For more information,
go to www.foodsafety.gov.
Today's action is in addition to other significant public health measures FSIS has put in place during President Barack Obama's Administration to date to
safeguard the food supply, prevent foodborne illness, and improve consumers' knowledge about the food they eat. These initiatives support
the three core principles developed by the President's Food Safety Working Group: prioritizing prevention; strengthening surveillance and enforcement;
and improving response and recovery. Some of these actions include: 
Test-and-hold policy that will significantly reduce consumer exposure to unsafe meat products, should the policy become final,
because products cannot be released into commerce until Agency test results for dangerous contaminants are known. 
Labeling requirements that provide better information to consumers about their food by requiring nutrition information for single-ingredient raw meat
and poultry products and ground or chopped products.  
Public Health Information System, a modernized, comprehensive database with information on public health trends and food safety violations
at the nearly 6,100 plants FSIS regulates.  
Performance standards for poultry establishments for continued reductions in the occurrence of pathogens. After two years of enforcingthe new standards,
FSIS estimates that approximately 5,000 illnesses will be prevented each year under the new Campylobacter standards,
and approximately 20,000 illnesses will be prevented under the revised Salmonella standards each year.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights,
Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service),
(800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).
The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness,
and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible
for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation,
and for regulating tobacco products.
Source: fda.gov

Listeria Onion Recall Expanding Daily
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2012/07/listeria-onion-recall-expanding-daily.aspx
By FOOD PRODUCT DESIGN (AUG 1st, 2012)
On July 18, Gills Onions announced a recall of various onion products that might be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
The company then expanded that recall on July 25 to include diced, slivered and whole peeled onions, along with diced onion and celery mixes,
distributed to Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Montana, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Washington
(see “Gills Onions Expands Voluntary Recall of Diced and Slivered Red and Yellow Onions, and Diced Onion and Celery Mix
Because of Possible Health Risk” on the FDA website for the growing list of products affected by the recall).
Over the last several days, multiple other companies have issued recall notices in connection with products that used Gills Onions:
•Whole Foods Market locations in Florida
•Simmering Soup, Atlanta
•Wegmans in three Pennsylvania cities
•Cool Creations, with distribution to retailers in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma
•Huxtable’s Kitchen for several products distributed to Trader Joe’s stores in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington
•Spartan Stores, Grand Rapids, Mich.
•GH Foods CA, LLC for multiple products distributed to retail stores in California, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Idaho,
Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska
Complete details on each recall can be obtained by clicking the above links.
8/1 update: Publix recalls sub sandwiches in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina.

Paralytic Shellfish Poison Closes Recreational Harvest In Puget Sound
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/paralytic-shellfish-poison-closes-recreational-harvest-in-puget-sound/
By Carla Gillespie (JULY 31, 2012)
The Washington State Department of Health (WDH) has closed recreational shellfish harvesting in six counties near Puget Sound after
dangerous levels of the biotoxin Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) were discovered. Commercially harvested shellfish are not included in the closure
and should be safe to eat, according to public health authorities.
The six counties affected by the recreational shellfish harvest closure are in the central and southern areas of the sound. They are: Jefferson, Island,
Snohomish, Kitsap, King and Pierce counties. Warning signs have been posted at beaches in these areas.
Shellfish included in the closure are: clams, oysters, mussels, scallops, geoduck, and other mollusks. Crab is not included in the closure, but “crab butter,”
the yellow goo that clings to the inside of the shell is.
PSP is a toxin produced by algae during the warmest months of the year. When shellfish eat the algae, the toxin accumulates in their bodies.
Although the toxin does not harm the shellfish, it can cause serious illness or death for people who eat shellfish contaminated with the toxin.
PSP cannot  be detected by looking at the water or shellfish. And it cannot be killed by cooking or freezing.
Symptoms of PSP can set in almost immediately or within hours, according to Washington State University.
They include a tingling sensation that starts in the lips and tongue and moves to the hands and feet.
This can be followed  loss of control of the limbs, difficulty breathing.
Depending on the amount of toxin ingested, PSP can paralyze breathing function and cause death in as little as 15 minutes.
Public health authorities urge anyone who has eaten shellfish and develops these symptoms to get medical help immediately.

USDA Unveils New Tool To Help Public Health Scientists Target Pathogen Risk
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/usda-unveils-new-tool-to-help-public-health-scientists-target-pathogen-risk/
By Kathy Will (JULY 31, 2012)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just unveiled
a new tool called the Microbial Risk Assessment (MRA) Guideline. It was developed with the EPA to help scientists improve the quality of data collected
to protect consumers from pathogens in food and water. The Guideline focuses on infectious diseases associated
with the GI tract and fecal or oral transmission of pathogens in food and water.
Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, the USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety, said, “this new tool will help public health scientists target pathogen-related risks
and prevent them from harming the public. We will continue to enhance the tools at our disposal to keep pace with evolving pathogens in our environment
with the ultimate goal of protecting the American public and the food supply.”
The MRA Guideline offers scientists a broad approach to conduct meaningful assessments of the risks of pathogen exposure.
The document provides comprehensive, specific, and descriptive information for developing assessments of microbial risk in food and water.
The Guideline will help health officials look for common exposure sources, causative agents, symptoms, contributing immunity factors, and other threads
that contribute to chronic illness.
Routes of exposure, the method of bacteria or viral transport, assumptions for exposure are all important factors when characterizing risk of illness caused
by pathogens. The Epidemiological Triangle, which includes the host, environment, and pathogen, is crucial to understanding the risk of foodborne illness.
Any microbial Risk Assessment should be as quantitative as possible, relying on numbers. The four goals of the MRA are to mitigate adverse effects
from a specific event or outbreak, to confirm if regulations are adequate, to decide how to establish regulations and policies, and to investigate outbreaks
and risk management. You can take a look at the MRA at the FSIS web site.

 

More Chicks Sickening Kids with Salmonella
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/more-chicks-sickening-kids-with-salmonella/
By Bill Marler (JULY 31, 2012)
A total of 76 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Montevideo have been reported from 22 states.
The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Alaska (1), California (2), Colorado (1), Florida (1), Georgia (1), Illinois (2), Indiana (9), Iowa (2),
Kansas (10), Kentucky (1), Massachusetts (2), Missouri (24), Nebraska (8), Nevada (1), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Ohio (1), Oklahoma (4), South Dakota
(1), Texas (1), Vermont (1), and Wyoming (1).
Seventeen ill persons have been hospitalized. One death was reported in Missouri, but Salmonella infection was not considered a contributing factor
in this person’s death.
Thirty-seven percent of ill persons are children 10 years of age or younger.
Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback findings have linked this outbreak of human Salmonella infections to contact with chicks, ducklings,
and other live baby poultry from Estes Hatchery in Springfield, Missouri.

 

Foodborne Illness Rates On The Rise
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/foodborne-illness-rates-on-the-rise/
By Carla Gillespie (JULY 30, 2012)
The five-year trend in foodborne illness rates is, for the most part, progressing in the wrong direction, according to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention’s (CDC) annual report on foodborne illness. Since 2007, incidence rates of  Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria and all but one strain of
Shiga Toxin Producing E.coli  have increased. Only the incidence rate of  E.coli 0157:H7 has decreased, according to the newly released data.
Since 2007, the number of laboratory-confirmed infections from E.coli 0157:H7 has decreased 15.5 percent. But infections from other pathogens
that account for the bulk of foodborne illnesses in the U.S. are on the rise. Since 2007, the number of laboratory-confirmed infections from:
Campylobacter has increased 15 percent,  Listeria has increased 14 percent,  Salmonella has increased 14 percent and non-0157 STEC,
a whopping 80 percent.
“This data further emphasizes the need for FDA to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed into law in January 2010
and shifts FDA’s food safety program from one of reaction to prevention.  The FDA has proposed regulations to implement four major components of the law
– produce safety, preventive controls for food and animal feed and import safety – yet the rules are now seven months overdue and have been delayed
by the Obama Administration.
The Administration should immediately release the rules so that FDA can move forward on implementation of the new law,”
Chris Waldrop, Director of The Food Policy Institute said in a statement.
The data was collected by the CDC’s FoodNet, a network of 10 sites throughout the U.S.  that works together to track incidence and trends of infection
from foodborne pathogens. In 2011, FoodNet identified about 19,000 infections. Children under 5  and adults 65 and over continue to be at higher risk for
foodborne illness than other segments of the population.  Hospitalization rates by pathogen in 2011 were as follows:  Campylobacter -15 percent, Listeria
- 95 percent,  Salmonella 28 perecnt,  Non-0157 STEC 18 percent and  0157 STEC 43 perecnt. Adults over 65, were at the greatest risk for hospitalization.

Salmonella in Europe, FDA food recall authority
Source : http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/fs/food-disease/news/jul3012foodscan.html
By CIDRAP(JULY 30, 2012)
Belgium, Hungary, Germany report Salmonella outbreak
In recent months three EU countries have reported 186 cases of illness caused by the same strain of Salmonella, with 60 cases having an indistinguishable
pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said today. This single PFGE pattern of
the Salmonella Stanley samples suggests a common source, but officials have yet to identify it. The strain is typically linked to travel to Southeast Asia,
particularly Thailand, but the outbreak cases appear to be unrelated to travel, the ECDC reported. Belgium reported 26 lab-confirmed outbreak cases as
of Jul 26, compared with an annual average of 3 to 6. Since September 2011 Hungary has reported 110 Salmonella Stanley cases (91 in 2012), and since
August 2011 Germany has confirmed 50 cases. Of those, 20 Belgian, 32 Hungarian, and 8 German cases share a matching PFGE pattern. Case-patients
in general tend to be young, but the median age for those with the same PFGE pattern is 7 years. And, of the 40 identical-PFGE patients with symptomatic illness,
53% required hospitalization. The ECDC is alerting countries to be vigilant for the strain and especially for the PFGE pattern, but it said in a news release today,
"The impact on public health across the EU is considered to be limited."
Jul 30 ECDC news release
Jul 30 ECDC report
GAO highlights issues with new FDA food-recall powers
Passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in Jan 2011 gave the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) new authority to order food recalls,
but it also directed the Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) to explore how the FDA would implement its authority, communicate recalls and outbreaks
to the public, and compensate the food industry for erroneously ordered recalls or advisories. The GAO, in a Jul 26 report, noted that foodborne illness
outbreaks are not only a health threat, they also have serious economic and consumer-confidence consequences. GAO investigators looked at the recall
processes used by other federal agencies, reviewed FDA documents, and interviewed a host of stakeholders from May 2011 to July 2012. They found
that FDA officials have drafted internal interim procedures for ordering recalls but haven't made them publicly available. The GAO said without the information,
it's unclear if the FDA's recall practices would be applied uniformly or consistently. Though the FDA has started discussing the issues, it still hasn't adopted
a recommendation from a risk communication committee on communications during emerging events. Investigators found government mechanisms
that might be used to compensate producers but no examples of their use. The GAO recommended that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
order the FDA to take several actions, including documenting the recall process and how it will weigh evidence about whether a recall is needed. In response
to the report, the HHS said it didn't agree or disagree with the recommendations but said it has actions in progress to address most of them.
Jul 26 GAO report

Job openings

08/04. Quality Assurance Technician – Houston, TX
08/01. Food Safety & QA Specialist – Minneapolis, MN
07/31. SQF / Food Safety Practitioner – Dallas, TX
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07/31. Food Safety Coordinator – Bentonville, AR

 

Estes Salmonella Outbreak Linked To Live Poultry Expands
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/estes-salmonella-outbreak-linked-to-live-poultry-expands/
By Carla Gillespie (July 31, 2012)
The Salmonella Montevideo outbreak linked to live poultry produced by Estes Hatchery in Springfield, Mo., has now sickened 76 people in 22 states,
according to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At least 17 people have been hospitalized.
By state the case count is as follows: Alaska (1), California (2), Colorado (1), Florida (1), Georgia (1), Illinois (2), Indiana (9), Iowa (2), Kansas (10),
Kentucky (1), Massachusetts (2), Missouri (24), Nebraska (8), Nevada (1), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Ohio (1), Oklahoma (4), South Dakota (1),
Texas (1), Vermont (1), and Wyoming (1).
Those who became ill through contact with chicks, ducks and other live baby poultry range in age from less than 1 year to 83 years old.
Many, about 37 percent, are children 10 and under. The first case patients became ill at the end of February. For the the most recent cases, 
onset of illness began in mid-July.
This outbreak is one of three multi-state Salmonella outbreaks linked to live poultry so far this year. In each case, lab tests and epidemiologic evidence
has linked the outbreak to poultry produced by a specific hatchery.
Estes Hatchery  participates in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Poultry Improvement Plan, a program designed to eliminate Salmonella
Pullorum and Salmonella Typhoid from breeder flocks.
Symptoms of Salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps which usually develop within six to 72 hours of exposure. Good hand washing
is important after handling live poultry. Children under 5 should not be allowed to handle live poultry and older children should be supervised while  washing
their hands after conatct, according to the CDC.