11/19,2012
ISSUE:522

                       


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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


Wegmans Spinach Linked To E.coli Outbreak In 5 States
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/wegmans-spinach-linked-to-e-coli-outbreak-in-5-states/
By Food Poisoning Editor(Nov 19, 2012)
Wegmans spinach has been linked to an E.coli outbreak that has sickened 28 people in five states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The outbreak which began in New York, now includes cases in Connecticut, Virginia, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Ten people have been hospitalized, two of them with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. On November 2, 2012, Wegmans  issued a recall for 5 oz and 11 oz packages of its Organic Spinach and Spring Mix blend for possible contamination with E.coli.  A collaborative investigation by state, local, and federal officials indicates that the Wegmans salad mix, produced by State Garden of Chelsea, Massachusetts, is one likely source of this outbreak.
Samples taken from four leftover packages of  the salad blend collected homes of some of those who became ill tested positive for a strain of E.coli  O157:H7 that is a genetic match to the outbreak strain. All of the case patients outside of New York mentioned eating other brands of pre-packaged leafy greens  before becoming ill. Those brands are also being investigated.
By state, the number of those ill  is as follows: Connecticut (2), Massachusetts (2), New York (22), Pennsylvania (1), and Virginia (1). Among patients for whom information is available, illness onset dates ranged from October 18, 2012 to November 3, 2012. Case patients range in age from 4 to 66 years old. The median age is 24 years years old. Sixty-eight percent of those sickened are female.
This particular strain of E.coli is somewhat rare, according to the CDC. E. coli 0157:H7 can cause serious sometimes fatal injury.
Symptoms of E.coli poisoning include abdominal cramping and diarrhea which can sometimes be bloody. Anyone who has these symptoms should contact a health care provider.

Salad Makings Blamed for 5-State E. coli Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/11/salad-makings-blamed-for-5-state-stec-o157h7-outbreak/
By Dan Flynn (Nov 19, 2012)
The Organic Spinach and Spring Mix Blend salad makings responsible for an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 (STEC O157:H7) has sickened 28 and put ten people in hospitals.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta on Monday said most of the cases were in New York State.
Of those hospitalized, two developed the kidney-threatening hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
CDC said as the outbreak expanded beyond the Empire State, so has the investigation.
“Collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicate that Wegmans brand Organic Spinach and Spring Mix blend produced by State Garden of Chelsea, Massachusetts, is one likely source of this outbreak,”the CDC said in a statement released on its website.
CDC said four leftover packages of Wegmans brand Organic Spinach and Spring Mix blend collected from four ill persons’ homes yielded the outbreak strain of STEC O157:H7.
Wegmans recalled 5-ounce and 11-ounce packages of Organic Spinach and Spring Mix blend on Nov. 2. Produced by State Garden, the salad makings might be contaminated with STEC O157:H7 and were removed from store shelves.
CDC said the warning not to eat the salads is especially important for children under age 5, the elderly, and those with weak immune systems because such individuals at higher risk of serious illness.
Other brands of pre-packaged leafy green have been reported by ill persons outside New York State, and investigations are going to determine if there are other sources for this outbreak, CDC reported.
CDC first announced it was involved in the outbreak investigation on Nov. 17. Public health investigators are using DNA “fingerprints” of E. coli bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, or PFGE, to identify cases of illness that may be part of this outbreak.
The investigation has also relied upon data from PulseNet, the national subtyping network made up of state and local public health laboratories and federal food regulatory laboratories that performs molecular surveillance of foodborne infections.
The type of bacteria responsible for this outbreak is among those referred to as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli or STEC. STEC bacteria are grouped by serogroups (e.g., O157 or O145). The STEC serogroup found most commonly in U.S. patients is E. coli O157.
A total of 28 ill persons infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O157:H7 have been reported from five states. The number of ill people identified in each state with the outbreak strain is as follows: Connecticut (2), Massachusetts (2), New York (22), Pennsylvania (1), and Virginia (1).
Among persons for whom information is available, illness onset dates range from October 18, 2012 to November 3, 2012. Ill persons range in age from 4 years to 66 years, with a median age of 24 years. Sixty-eight percent of ill persons are female.
This PFGE pattern has very rarely been seen before in PulseNet. It has been seen only 7 times prior to this outbreak. Illnesses that occurred after October 30, 2012 might not be reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported.
Testing conducted by the New York Department Health Wadsworth Center Laboratories isolated the outbreak strain of STEC O157:H7 from four leftover packages of Wegmans brand Organic Spinach and Spring Mix blend collected from four ill persons’ homes.

Surprise? Food + Salmonella + Pests = Food Poisoning
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/surprise-food-salmonella-pests-food-poisoning/
By Carla Gillespie (Nov 18, 2012)
Is it a surprise or is it just math?  If documents newly made public by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are to be believed, Sunland Inc., the Portales, NM-based peanut butter company at the heart of a Salmonella outbreak and recall of over 250 products, has had unresolved food safety problems including Salmonella and pest control issues for the last five years.
FDA documents, some of which are heavily redacted,  from 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012 all cite the same problems: the presence of Salmonella in the plant,  pest problems, poor food safety practices by employees, poor maintenance of the building and equipment and improper storage of raw materials. Here is a comparison of language used by FDA inspectors to describe problems at Sunland at 2007 and 2012. (Some of which were also cited in 2009 and 2011.)
Pest Control
In 2007, “effective measures were not being taken by the firm to protect against the contamination of food on the premises by pest (this is a repeat observation.)” In 2012, “effective measures are not being taken to exclude pests from the processing areas.”
These pest control problems include storage of peanuts inside and outside  of the plant. In 2011 and 2012, inspectors noted birds “too numerous to count” were flying over, landing on and pooping on nuts stored outside that had yet to be processed.
By  2007, pest control was already a “repeat observation.” In fact, the 2007 report makes note of complaints by Sunland’s pest control company about Sunland’s failure to address issues that contribute to the harborage of pests. ”We noted that the pest controller had many notes concerning the conditions in the firm’s warehouses. We asked management if the pest controller complained about the warehouse and nothing was done to correct it, how they expected the controller to do an adequate job. We stated that in the firm’ s defense, we did not observe any rodent pellets in the areas that we could get to.”
Unsanitary Conditions
In 2007: “The firm failed to manufacture foods under conditions and controls necessary to minimize the potential for growth of microorganisms and contamination.” In 2012: “Failure to manufacture foods under conditions and controls necessary to minimize the potential for growth of microorganisms and contamination.” This problem was also cited in 2009 and 2011 and Salmonella was detected in the plant in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012.
Production/Equipment Problems
In 2007: “the firm failed to take reasonable precautions to ensure that production procedures do not contribute contamination from any source.”
In 2012: “Failure to handle equipment, containers and utensils used to convey, hold, and store food in a manner that protects against contamination…
Specifically, the production and packaging lines of equipment in the Peanut Butter Plant were not cleaned after each time Salmonella was isolated from peanut and nut butter products between 2009 and 2012… There are no records to document the cleaning of the production and packaging lines after.”
This problem was also cited in 2009 and 2011.
Employee Hand-Washing
In 2007, “employees were observed not washing and sanitizing hands thoroughly in an adequate hand washing facility before starting work and after each absence from the work station.” In 2012, “employees did not wash hands thoroughly in an adequate hand-washing facility at any time their hands may have become soiled or contaminated.” This problem was also cited in 2009 and 2011.
Food Storage
In 2007: “the firm failed to store raw materials in a manner that protects against contamination.” In 2012: “Failure to store raw materials in a manner that protects against contamination.” This problem was also cited in 2011 and 2012.
Five years of dangerous food safety violations? Maybe the surprise is that it took this long for confirmed cases of illnesses to surface.

Tony’s Imports and Exports Warns Against AL-RABIH Tahineh for Salmonella
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/tonys-imports-and-exports-warns-against-al-rabih-tahineh-for-salmonella/
By Linda Larsen (Nov 17, 2012)
Tony’s Imports and Exports of California is warning consumers, food distributors, and food processors not to consume or sell certain containers of AL-RABIH Tahineh (sesame paste, or tahini) because they may be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. One hundred and forty-one pails of the product were stolen from the company’s warehouse, where they were being held for destruction because of Salmonella contamination.
The product was sold in a white plastic pail with a label that reads, “AL-RABIH Tahineh, 100% Sesame, net weight 40 lb. (18 kg)”. The Tahineh is a product of Lebanon. Above the label, the following information is typed: “Imported by Tony Khorozian, Tony’s Imports & Exports, Tel S.S.F. 650-872-6534, Fresno: 415 412-
1985 Best Before 2014.”
The theft occurred in June 2012 but was not discovered until an FDA official arrived to witness the destruction of the tainted product. If you have purchased this
product, destroy it. If the product was used to make other foods, consider recalling it. Contact Tony’s Import and Exports if you have purchased the product or have been offered the Tahineh for purchase.

Food Recalls Up Sharply in Third Quarter of 2012
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/food-recalls-up-sharply-in-third-quarter-of-2012/
By Linda Larsen (Nov 17, 2012)
Stericycle’s ExpertRecall.com keeps track of recalls documented by the Food and Drug Administration. This week they released their quarterly report, which states that food recalls increased 57% in the third quarter of the year, reaching the highest level in the last 10 quarters and 2.5 times the number of recalls in the second quarter. Recalls were issued at an average rate of four per day.
There were 414 separate incidents in the months of July, August, and September 2012, with more than one event coming from almost 25% of the companies that had a recall. Of the recalls in this last quarter, 56% were listed as Class I, which means the products have “reasonable probability that the use of or exposure to a violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.” Thirty-eight percent of the recalls were Class II, which means “a situation in which use or or exposure to a violative product may cause temporary or medically reversible adverse health consequences,” according to the FDA.
During the third quarter, 189 food and beverage facilities recalled at least one product. Forty-four companies were involved in two or more recalls.
Nine companies were linked to 10 or more recalls during that time period.
The pathogens responsible for most of the recalls were Salmonella and Listeria. In fact, recalls for foods adulterated with those bacteria were the highest level in the last ten quarters. Foodborne illness concerns were responsible for 74% of recalls. Salmonella was the number one pathogen responsible for recalls.
Other reasons for recalls were improper processes to control pathogens, lack of key ingredients, foreign materials, elevated lead levels, and Staphyloccocus
aureus concerns.

Shigella Outbreak in Columbus Ohio Reaches Ten Year High
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/shigella-outbreak-in-columbus-ohio-reaches-ten-year-high/
By Linda Larsen (Nov 16, 2012)
A Shigella outbreak in Columbus, Ohio has reached a ten year high, according to a press release from the Columbus Public Health Department.
Dr. Teresa Long, Columbus Health Commissioner, said in a statement, “hand-washing and keeping children and adults home when they have diarrhea are
the most critical steps to help stop this outbreak. We are seeing many of the cases at childcare centers and other places young children are in close contact
during the day. Family members, childcare providers, and playmates are also at risk.” To date, 771 cases have been diagnosed and are under investigation.
The symptoms of Shigella poisoning include nausea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps. The bacteria mostly affects children under the age of five,
but people of all ages can get sick. In some people, it can take months before bowel movements return to normal. Antibiotics are sometimes needed in severe
cases.   Complications of a Shigella infection can include Reiter’s syndrome and hemolytic uremic syndrome.
The bacteria is most often spread person-to-person via the “oral-fecal” route. That means that someone passes infected feces on to another person via food,
water, or direct contact. Outbreaks have occurred via swimming pools.
To limit this outbreak and prevent infection, the public must take these steps. Wash hands often, especially after using the bathroom or changing diapers.
Always wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food or drinks and before eating. Help children wash their hands after using the bathroom. Dispose of
dirty diapers in a closed lid can. Disinfect diaper changing areas after each use. Keep anyone with diarrhea at home. Do not prepare food for others when you
are sick. If you develop the symptoms of shigellosis, see a health care provider immediately.

9 kinds of salmonella found in peanut butter from NM plant
Source : http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/11/15/15195770-9-kinds-of-salmonella-found-in-peanut-butter-from-nm-plant?lite#__utma=238145375.126077
1225.1340239740.1351729923.1353458988.63&__utmb=238145375.1.10.1353458988&__utmc=238145375&__utmx=
-&__utmz=238145375.1340585870.3.2.utmcsr=t.co|utmccn=(referral)|utmcmd=referral|utmcct=/MDZzzqxm&__utmv=238145375.|8=Earned%20By=msnbc%7
Chealth%7Cfood%20safety=1^12=Landing%20Content=Mixed=1^13=Landing%20Hostname=www.msnbc.msn.com=1^30=Visit%20Type%20to%20Content=
Earned%20to%20Mixed=1&__utmk=34350818
By JoNel Aleccia, NBC News (Nov 15, 2012)
A New Mexico peanut plant tied to a food poisoning outbreak that sickened dozens sent potentially tainted lots out the door even after its internal testing found
at least nine different types of salmonella in peanut and almond butters, Food and Drug Administration officials said. Two of the 11 lots included the outbreak
strain of the bacteria.
The pathogens were also found  throughout the peanut plant operated by Sunland Inc. in Portales, N.M., where FDA inspectors found salmonella in 28
environmental samples between mid-September and mid-October.
But the company's president and chief executive denied that the firm shipped tainted products and said its response to FDA would make that clear.
"At no time in its twenty four year history has Sunland, Inc. released for distribution any products that it knew to be potentially contaminated with harmful
microorganisms," Jimmie Shearer said in a statement posted on the company's website. "The Company has followed internal testing protocols that it believed
resulted in the isolation and destruction of any product that did not pass the test designed to detect the presence of any contaminants."
The month-long FDA inspection of the Sunland plant that supplied peanut butter, nut butters and other nut products to major retailers including Trader Joes,
Whole Foods and Harry and David found dirty equipment and slipshod food safety and cleaning practices that may have raised the risk of serious illness --
including food poisoning and life-threatening allergic reactions.
Specifically, the company failed to clean production and packaging equipment between runs of nuts such as peanuts, which contain allergens. In May 2011,
the firm received a complaint that a child had developed anaphylactic shock after eating almond butter that contained peanut allergens, the FDA said.
The 11-page report says that employees improperly handled equipment, containers and utensils, failed to wash their hands and had bare-handed contact with
ready-to-package peanuts.
Inspectors also noted that the company left trailers full of raw, in-shell peanuts uncovered outdoors, where they were exposed to the elements, including rain
and animals.
“Birds too numerous to count were observed flying over and landing on the peanuts in the trailers,” the report finds.
Salmonella infections tied to recalled Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter made with Sea Salt sickened 41 people in 20 states, according to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ten people were hospitalized; there were no deaths.
But at least 240 products have been recalled in the outbreak that started with the Trader Joe’s products, with some dating back to 2010. That included nearly
2 million pounds of whole peanuts produced by the Hines Nut Co. and sold nationally in supermarkets such as Wal-mart and Dollar General stores. For a list of
recalled products, click here.
Inspectors found that Sunland’s own internal testing program documented at least nine and up to 13 types of salmonella in peanut butter products the company
produced and distributed.
That includes the salmonella Bredeney that caused the infections linked to the Trader Joe’s peanut butter. In addition, they found the salmonella strains Newport,
Dallgow, Arapahoe, Teddington, Cerro, Mbandaka, Kubacha and Meleagridis in various lots of the products. They also detected a strain that might have been
one of three types of salmonella: Othmarschen, Oranienburg, Winston or Oakey.
But the FDA also found salmonella in five product samples that were not identified by the firm’s internal testing -- including the outbreak strain of salmonella Bredeney.
The Sunland plant remains closed. FDA officials say they are evaluating the firm’s response to the inspection report.

 


                       


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