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FoodHACCP Newsletter
03/25,2013 ISSUE:540

Food safety facts about eggs
Source : http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/food_safety_facts_about_eggs
By Joyce McGarry, Michigan State University Extension (Mar 24, 2013)
With Easter right around the corner, eggs will be an important part of celebrations. Fresh eggs must be handled carefully. Fresh eggs have a high contamination risk of salmonella. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates 142,000 illnesses each year are caused by consuming eggs contaminated with salmonella. The FDA says that salmonella is the most common cause of food poisoning in the United States. Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps and vomiting 12 to 72 hours after infection. Salmonella symptoms usually last four to seven days. In severe cases, hospitalization may occur if infection spreads into the blood stream. Michigan State University Extension reminds that people with weakened immune systems such as pregnant women, young children, and older adults may experience more severe illness. Salmonella can be found on both the outside and inside of eggs, it is important to guard against cross contamination before they are cooked.
The FDA implements strict regulation to prevent contamination of eggs on farms and during shipping and storage, but consumers play an important role in preventing illnesses associated with eggs.
Here are some reminders and tips about using eggs at Easter:
•Choose fresh eggs; open the carton before buying to check for broken shells.
•Eggs should be refrigerated at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
•Wash your hands thoroughly, before and after handling uncooked shell eggs.
•Wash eggs in hot water and rinse in a solution of one teaspoon chlorine bleach per half-cup of water, if you plan to hollow out eggshells through your mouth.
•Use only food grade dyes and food safe decorating materials.
•Wash hands between all the steps of cooking, cooling, dyeing and decorating.
•Once cooked, eggs are decorated, return to refrigerator within two hours. They can be stored up to one week inside the refrigerator, not in the door.
•Consider using one set of eggs for decorating and eating, and another set for decorating and hunting. Or to be safe, use plastic eggs instead of real ones.
This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu. To contact an expert in your area, visit http://expert.msue.msu.edu, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

 

Norovirus Leading Cause of Severe Gastroenteritis in Children
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/norovirus-leading-cause-of-severe-gastroenteritis-in-children/
By Linda Larsen (Mar 22, 2013)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released information about a new study that shows norovirus is the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis among children less than five who seek medical care. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Nororivurs caused almost 1 million pediatric medical visits for 2009 and 2010 in the United States. Dr. Daniel Payne, an epidemiologist in the Division of Viral Diseases at the CDC said, “Infants and young children are very susceptible to norovirus infections, which often result in a high risk of getting dehydrated from the sudden onset of intense vomiting and severe diarrhea. Our study estimates that 1 in 278 U.S. children will be hospitalized for norovirus illness by the time they turn 5 years of age. It is also estimated that about 1 in 14 children will visit an emergency room and 1 in 6 will receive outpatient care for norovirus infections.”
Norovirus is a very contagious virus and causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines. The study looked at more than 141,000 children under the age of five living in three U.S. counties. Lab testing confirmed norovirus was the cause of their illness. The estimated cost of hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and outpatient visits cost more than $273 million every year.
At the same time, medical visits for rotavirus illness have decreased, proving the success of the rotavirus vaccination program in the U.S. Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe gastroenteritis among children worldwide. The study shows that specific interventions to protect against norovirus in children should be given priority.
The best ways to reduce the risk of norovirus infection are through proper hand washing, safe food handling, and good hygiene. Anyone who is vomiting or has diarrhea should stay home and not prepare or handle food or drink for others. The virus is spread through person-to-person contact, touching contaminated surfaces, and eating contaminated food and water.

Marler Clark, Elgin Couple Sue School Food Supplier over Child’s Salmonella Illness
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/marler-clark-elgin-couple-sue-school-food-supplier-over-childs-salmonella-illness/
By Bill Marler (Mar 21, 2013)
A Salmonella lawsuit was filed today against OrganicLife, LLC, a school food supplier whose meals were identified as the source of a Salmonella outbreak among students of 6 Chicago-area private schools in September and October of 2012.  The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Stacey Wescott and Brian Peterson, the parents of a 5th grader who attends St. Anne Catholic School in Barrington and who was allegedly one of 9 students who became ill with Salmonella infections after eating food provided by OrganicLife.  Seattle-based Marler Clark and Arlington Heights firm Newland & Newland represent the couple in the lawsuit.  Download Complaint.
According to the lawsuit, Wescott and Peterson’s daughter purchased and consumed 2 lunches from the St. Anne’s cafeteria in September of 2012.  She later fell ill with symptoms of Salmonella infection, including abdominal cramps, diarrhea and fever.  The complaint states that her fever spiked to 104 degrees and that the girl was rushed to the emergency room after dehydration caused her skin to take on a grayish appearance and her lips began to crack.   She was released after rehydration therapy, but was taken back to the ER and was ultimately admitted to the hospital for four days, during which time she suffered up to 30 bouts of diarrhea every day.  Lawyers allege that the girl continued to suffer symptoms of Salmonella infection at varying frequencies for over a month following her discharge from the hospital on September 29, 2012 and that she continued to test positive for Salmonella until January, 2013.
“The last thing we should have to worry about when we send our kids to school is whether they’ll come home with food poisoning after eating school lunch,” said Bill Marler, attorney for the plaintiffs.  “The Lake County Health Department investigation clearly points to school lunch as the source of my client’s and other children’s illnesses.”
See Attachment No. 1, OrganicLife Inspections.
See Attachment No. 2, Illinois Department of Public Health Final Report.
BACKGROUND:  Marler Clark is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of foodborne illnesses such as Salmonella.  The law firm has represented thousands of victims of Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria and other foodborne illness outbreaks in the last 20 years, including a 2003 Salmonella outbreak linked to a Chili’s restaurant in Vernon Hills, Illinois (See U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division Case No. 03 C 4788) and a Salmonella outbreak linked to hummus served at the 2007 Taste of Chicago festival (See Cook County Circuit Court Case no. 07 L 007351).

20 students at Xavier Institute of Social Services down with food poisoning
Source : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ranchi/20-students-at-Xavier-Institute-of-Social-Services-down-with-food-poisoning/articleshow/19180466.cms
By timesofindia.indiatimes.com/ (Mar 25, 2013)
As many as 20 students of Xavier Institute of Social Services (XISS) fell ill after having food at the institute's felicitation programme on Saturday evening. The students, all from the personal management department, were admitted to Gurunanak Hospital here and are being treated for food poisoning.
"The students have been diagnosed with food poisoning and are admitted in ICU. They will be kept under observation for one more day and will be discharged by Monday evening if everything's well," said N N Agarwal, director of Gurunanak Hospital. Over 140 students had participated in Saturday's programme.
"The reason of food poisoning must be the food packets that included sweet, sandwiches and pakora. The packets were brought from a local sweet shop," he added. tnn
Surprisingly, most of the faculty members of XISS said they had no knowledge of the event being organized and the director was unavailable on phone.
Director of Gurunanak Hospital said, "The reason of food poisoning must either be the syrup of the sweet or the alu chops."

Tending Chicks or Ducklings? Keep Kids Safe From Salmonella
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/tending-chicks-or-ducklings-keep-kids-safe-from-salmonella/
By Carla Gillespie (Mar 24, 2013)
At this time of year, people all over the country are tending flocks of newly acquired chicks and ducklings, or preparing to do so. When handling live poultry it’s important to take certain precautions to prevent illness. Last year at this time, live poultry was the source of three, large, multi-state Salmonella outbreaks that together sickened 334 people, the highest number of Salmonella infections ever linked to live poultry in a single year.
Children are disproportionately affected in these outbreaks for a number of reasons.  Their immunes systems are not fully developed so they are at increased risk of illness, they are less likely than adults to wash their hands properly and more likely than adults to put their fingers in their mouths and to snuggle or kiss the small birds.
That’s why health officials are cautioning those who are tending young poultry flocks to keep kids and families safe while doing so. Children under 5 should not be allowed to handle young birds. And parents should supervise older children handling the birds and washing their hands afterward.
“As adorable as baby chicks and ducklings are, it is not good for young children to handle them because of the health risk,” said Alicia Cronquist, department epidemiologist, with the Colorado Department of Health and Environment in a recent advisory. Other safety tips to follow are: washing hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they are kept; keeps all live poultry and the equipment used to care for and feed them outside of the house; cleaning any equipment or materials associated with tending live poultry outside the house and  having a dedicated set of cleaning materials for poultry care.
Salmonella infections cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Symptoms usually begin about one to three days after exposure and last up to a week. For some people, the symptoms may be so severe that hospitalization is needed. And the complications of salmonellosis, including Reiter’s Syndrome, can be severe.

Poisoned Bees Will Get Their Day In Court
Source : http://www.care2.com/causes/poisoned-bees-will-get-their-day-in-court.html#ixzz2OVkqrjLP
By Beth Buczynski (Mar 24, 2013)
All around the world, bee colonies are dwindling thanks to a phenomenon scientists call Colony Collapse Disorder. After several studies linked the mysterious deaths to a class of pesticides known as “neonicotinoids,” major nations took action by suspending or banning their use. But not the United States.
Appalled by the EPA’s apparent disinterest in protecting both the bees and our food supply, four beekeepers and five environmental and consumer groups filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court against the agency for its failure to protect pollinators from dangerous pesticides. The bees, it seems, will finally get their day in court, although it never really should have come to this.
A year ago, the Center for Food Safety and a coalition including 25 prominent beekeepers filed an Emergency Petition with the EPA asking the agency to suspend the use of certain neonicotinoids until they are proven safe to pollinators, the environment and future food security. The agency indicated it will not finish its Registration Review for these substances until 2018, the bureaucratic equivalent of a shoulder shrug. But the bees and those who depend on them (that’s you, by the way) wouldn’t be silenced that easily.
“America’s beekeepers cannot survive for long with the toxic environment EPA has supported. Bee-toxic pesticides in dozens of widely used products, on top of many other stresses our industry faces, are killing our bees and threatening our livelihoods,” said plaintiff Steve Ellis, a Minnesota and California beekeeper. “Our country depends on bees for crop pollination and honey production.  It’s time for EPA to recognize the value of bees to our food system and agricultural economy.”
The coalition that filed the suit seeks suspension of the registrations of insecticides that have repeatedly been identified as highly toxic to honey bees, clear causes of major bee kills and significant contributors to the devastating ongoing mortality of bees known as colony collapse disorder.  The suit challenges EPA’s ongoing handling of the pesticides as well as the agency’s practice of “conditional registration” and labeling deficiencies.
The case also challenges the use of so-called “conditional registrations” for these pesticides, which expedites commercialization by bypassing meaningful premarket review.  Since 2000, over two-thirds of pesticide products, including clothianidin and thiamethoxam, have been brought to market as conditional registrations.
Independent scientists have assessed the effects of clothianidin and thiamethoxam on honey bee colony health and development, examining both sub-lethal exposure effects and acute risks. Scientists have also identified massive data gaps that prevent accurate assessments as to their continued safety, not just for honey bees but for ecosystem integrity on the whole.  A major new report issued recently by the American Bird Conservancy sounds dire warnings about EPA’s failures to assess threats to birds and to the aquatic ecosystems many species depend upon.
“Beekeepers and environmental and consumer groups have demonstrated time and time again over the last several years that EPA needs to protect bees.  The agency has refused, so we’ve been compelled to sue,” said Center for Food Safety attorney, Peter T. Jenkins.  “EPA’s unlawful actions should convince the Court to suspend the approvals for clothianidin and thiamethoxam products until those violations are resolved.”

18 suffer food poisoning in Central China
Source : http://europe.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2013-03/23/content_16340194.htm
By chinadaily.com. (Mar 23, 2013)
Eighteen people suffered food poisoning late Friday after eating at a night market near a university in central China's Hubei Province, local authorities told Xinhua Saturday.
The 18 included seven students of China Three Gorges University, two university teachers, eight other customers and one owner of the market stall. They were sent to the Central Hospital of Gezhouba in Yichang City, a Yichang municipal government official said.
All 18 were in stable condition and eight of them have left hospital, the official said.
An initial investigation showed that unclean tofu was the source of the food poisoning, according to the hospital.
The food stall has been closed by police and a further investigation is underway.

Food Safety Review of Genetically Engineered Salmon
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/food-safety-review-of-genetically-engineered-salmon/
By Kathy Will (Mar 23, 2013)
The Center for Food Safety (CFS) has published a review on the safety of genetically engineered salmon. Scientists are currently experimenting on more than 35 species of fish. They are using genes from other fish, coral, mice, bacteria, and people to produce new breeds of transgenic fish that grow faster, are resistant to disease, and tolerate wide temperature ranges.
The FDA is currently considering GE salmon produced by AquaBounty for approval. The Atlantic salmon has growth hormone from the Chinook salmon and anti-freeze DNA from an Arctic eelpout spliced into its DNA. The fish may grow up to twice as fast as conventionally raised Atlantic salmon.
CFS says that the problems with the altered fish start with how government assesses risks. They use old laws and a low level of analysis. When these new animals are developed, companies file a New Animal Drug Application (NADA), which is reviewed to see if the “drug” works and if claims are accurate. No environmental risks resulting from GE animals are included in this statutory process. Moreover, this process is not transparent, because the approval process is confidential. Labeling isn’t required, and the FDA doesn’t announce which NADAs are pending.
Every year, two million farmed salmon escape from open-water net pens into the sea, and outcompete wild populations for strained resources. Research on this topic published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences states that a release of 60 GE salmon into a wild population of 60,000 would lead to extinction of the wild fish in 40 generations. While AquaBounty claims the GE fish are sterile, FDA’s draft Environmental Assessment estimates that 5% of the fish could be fertile. AquaBounty says they plan to farm the fish in land-based facilities, but CFS says that those facilities are not economically viable. Farm raised salmon is farmed in open-water net pens. AquaBounty is also planning to market the eggs; once that happens, they will not be able to control where the eggs are raised. The FDA has not consulted with the Fish and Wildlife Services and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on these issues.
Farmed salmon is raised with antibiotics, raising the issue of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Allergenicity is also an issue; GE fish are likely to cause heightened allergic responses. In addition, AquaBounty’s Prince Edward Island facility was contaminated in 2009 with a new strain of Infectious Salmon Anemia, a deadly fish flu. Scientists are also concerned that the fish have a higher tolerance to environmental toxins, which could accumulate in the fish. FDA’s 2010 data release showed that GE salmon have 40% higher levels of the growth hormone IGF-1, which increases the risk of cancer. And finally, wild salmon has 189% higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than GE salmon can produce.
CFS concludes by saying that restoring wild salmon populations and their ecosystems is the answer to declining populations, not engineering new salmon with unknown risks. You can sign a petition against GE salmon at the Center for Food Safety web site.

Flood Safety Week: Food Safety During A Flood
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/flood-safety-week-food-safety-during-a-flood/
By Carla Gillespie (Mar 23, 2013)
It’s flood safety week and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has compiled some information including food safety tips during a flood. Doing a small amount of preparation can save a lot of time and hassle.
Prepare for a flood by buying jugs of water and shelf-stable foods that can feed your family for a few days and store them in an area flood waters are not likely to reach. Keep a jug of liquid bleach and a cooler in the same area. Find out where you can purchase dry ice.
If your home floods, use bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters.  If you run out of bottled water, boil tap water for one minute, let it cool and store it in clean, covered containers. If you can’t boil the tap water, add 1/8 tsp bleach to one gallon, stir and let its stand for 30 minutes before using. If the water is still cloudy, filter it trough clean cloths or allow it to settle and then draw the clear water from the top. Don’t drink water from a well that has been flooded.
Don’t eat any food that was directly exposed to flood water or any food from non-waterproof containers or damaged cans. Food from metal cans that were exposed to flood waters can be eaten if the cans are undamaged and washed in a solution of 1 tablespoon household bleach in 1 gallon water for 15 minutes. Use the same bleach solution to wash pans, dishes, utensils, can openers and countertops.

Secretary Vilsack Says Another Option Needed for Unwanted Horses
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/03/secretary-vilsack-says-congress-needs-an-alternative-to-horse-slaughter/
By foodsafetynews.com (Mar 21, 2013)
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told reporters Wednesday Congress should come up with a better solution for handling unwanted horses than slaughtering the animals for meat for human consumption.
His comments came as USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has five at least partially completed applications to slaughter horses for human consumption, probably only for export, under active review.
Rather than offering a specific alternative, Vilsack seemed to be thinking outside the box, saying horses might help veterans who’ve returned from war or be used for equipping prison inmates about to be released with job skills.
Vilsack said there needs to be “a third way” to deal with the nation’s horse problem, instead of relying on just killing the animals or slaughtering them for human food.
Just as they are required by federal law to provide continuous inspection for beef, pork, lamb and poultry slaughtering and processing, USDA’s meat inspectors are required to provide the same service for qualified equine businesses.
Since Congress and the Obama Administration lifted the ban on horse slaughter for human consumption, five pending applications have been filed and one has appealed USDA’s delay into federal court. USDA prefers renewing the ban instead.
Vilsack said that since the last inspected horsemeat slaughterhouse closed in 2006, science has improved on monitoring equine drug residues, a consideration which is getting attention in the current application process.
After the ban was imposed, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) of Congress studied the issue of unwanted horses in the U.S. and found sharp increases in starving and abandoned horses after the domestic slaughterhouses went out of business. It is a burdensome trend for many tribal and county governments.  A brisk business exists, however, for exporting live horses to Mexico and Canada for slaughter.
The five applicants for horse slaughter are: Valley Meat of Roswell, NM; Rains Natural Meats of Gallatin, MO; Trail South Meat Processing of Woodbury, TN; Oklahoma Meat Co. of Washington, OK; and Responsible Transportation of Sigourney, IA.
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Cryptosporidium Outbreak Sickened 300 in UK Last Year
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/03/cryptosporidium-outbreak-sickened-300-in-england-last-year/
By foodsafetynews.com (Mar 21, 2013)
Approximately 300 people in England and Scotland were sickened in an outbreak of Cryptosporidium in May of 2012, announced public health authorities this week.
The parasite that caused the outbreak is thought to have originated in ready-to-eat bagged salad mixes, said England’s Health Protection Agency in a report published Tuesday.
“The strongest association with infection was found to be with consumption of ready to eat pre-cut mixed salad leaves from a major supermarket chain,” said HPA in its outbreak report.
The supermarket chain was not named.
HPA says the outbreak did not last long, affecting people only during the month of May. Illnesses ranged from mild to moderate, and no deaths were reported in connection to the outbreak.
“As this was an isolated and short lived outbreak there is no specific action for the public to take,” said Dr. Stephen Morton, regional director of HPA’s Yorkshire and the Humber region and head of the Outbreak Control Team, “but we hope the investigations between the FSA and the food industry will help to prevent further outbreaks of this type from happening again.”
Cryptosporidium is a parasite that infects humans and animals. It is a resilient organism that can survive for long periods of time outside the body, and is tolerant of chlorine disinfection. Cryptosporidium is most commonly transmitted through water. Cryptosporidiosis (the infection caused by Cryptosporidium) is characterized by stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss. Symptoms generally last one to two weeks, but can last up to a month.
Illness can be more severe in people with compromised immune systems.
Food Safety News is currently conducting a survey that you may have missed if you have a pop-up blocker installed.  Please take 5 minutes to tell us a little about yourself and why you read Food Safety News. The information you provide will remain confidential and will help us improve our service.  Thank you!  – The Food Safety News Team

Welcome to the new normal in food safety
Source : http://www.troymedia.com/2013/03/21/welcome-to-the-new-normal-in-food-safety/
By Sylvain Charlebois (Mar 21, 2013)
Food traceability – a powerful tool to mitigate risks across food supply chains – does not guarantee food safety and integrity. Even so, the challenge of tracking food products and ingredients upstream and downstream touches on the core of what is required to manage risks posed by the new normal in the business of food and agriculture.
The new normal presents a number of fascinating issues to contend with, among them: designing comprehensive strategies in the field to effectively cope with climate change and the question of economic trends, subsidies and currency wars, as well as ever changing federal regulations on food packaging, labelling, and safety and trade negotiations.
None of these factors can ever be controlled by farmers or corporations, insofar as they create tremendous volatility in the marketplace, rendering predictability a rare commodity in decision-making.
The politics of food is also at the forefront of agribusiness and food safety. Food, agriculture and policy have never been mutually exclusive entities, and companies are now compelled to appreciate how one variable can have a significant effect on another, while worrying about the next quarter.
More consumers are now eating with a conscience, and as such are looking for fair trade products, and organic and locally-sourced foods and ingredients. The ethical treatment of animals has also caught the attention of executives in the field. To complicate things further, the global food security agenda is also exercising some pressure on modern food systems.
The objective of keeping input costs down and profit margins up is no longer enough to deal with these problems. In food production, we have now entered the era of sound partnerships, efficient networks and global outreach.
The new normal in food and agriculture will demand more collaboration between stakeholders. Competing businesses will need to share data and costs, as well as build strategies set on converging interests. In the end, effective food traceability methods will rely heavily on increased teamwork amongst former rivals.
Our food safety agenda is affected by all of these shifts. The same can be said of food systems themselves, which are also being fundamentally challenged. Over the last few years, Canada has witnessed, per year, over 2,700 food safety investigations, and over 250 food recalls. Indeed, over the past four years, the number of food recalls has increased by more than 200 per cent and do not take into consideration the number of unreported incidences. These statistics clearly indicate how different our approach to risk management must be now.
Moving forward, we need to carefully decide how to monitor risk. But what we gain in food surveillance, we may lose in food distribution efficiencies. In other words, more food safety regulations and food traceability may lead to a rise in the price of food. Nevertheless, food traceability should remain a priority for our country. We risk too much by ignoring the potential consequences.
Until about 2009, we lived in the era of crises in food safety, including mad cow, salmonella, botulism, listeria and e.coli. We focused more on managing fears than managing risks; politics continually trumped economics.
From 2009 to 2012, we witnessed a developing synergy between industry and government, health and agriculture that remains ongoing.
Today, we live at the dawn of the era of accountability in food systems. Given governments’ limited capacity to create new food safety programs, the industry is now compelled to become more accountable to the government. But we also need to find ways to make government more accountable to the public. Most importantly, however, we need to make the industry more accountable to itself, which is why food traceability is imperative for the future of global food safety systems.
Indeed, our ultimate objective should be to trace and track products and ingredients around the world, in real-time, connecting both ends of the food safety continuum.
In light of the European horsemeat scandal, food traceability is also now considered an ideal mechanism to safeguard consumer trust. For years, food traceability has been almost synonymous with food safety. But the tides of consumer expectation are rising rapidly, and we should prepare to manage and direct that flood.
While the system has solved many aspects of traceability, significant challenges remain to provide cost effective protocols for market assurance, and product improvement. Based on economics alone, the time to improve our systems will be set by consumers, and nobody else.
Dr. Sylvain Charlebois is Associate Dean of the College of Management and Economics at the University of Guelph.

Sylvain Charlebois
Source : http://nationalhogfarmer.com/business/senate-approves-amendment-avoid-meat-inspector-furloughs
By nationalhogfarmer.com (Mar 21, 2013)
The Senate approved an amendment on Wednesday that could help avoid meat inspector furloughs that were expected to occur as a result of the budgetary sequester.
Introduced by Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), the measure would redirect $55 million from other areas of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s budget to the Food Safety and Inspection Service, essentially reinstating the funds cut under sequestration. The amendment cleared the upper chamber easily by voice vote during consideration of a continuing resolution to keep the government funded past March 27.
According to Food Safety News, sources say the Senate is expected to clear the spending package in a matter of days. The bill will then most likely be considered as-is by the House.
Read the entire article at the Food Safety News Web site.

Salmonella Lawsuit to be Filed in Chicago
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/salmonella-lawsuit-to-be-filed-in-chicago/
By Bill Marler (Mar 21, 2013)
A lawsuit (Complaint Attached) will be filed today on behalf of a young girl hospitalized with Salmonella after eating lunch at her school in 2012.  Her Salmonella illness was linked to Salmonella illnesses in six different private schools located in the City of Chicago, in Cook County, and in Lake County.  OrganicLife provided meal service to all six schools.
Salmonella Enteriditis Outbreak
On October 3, 2012 the Lake County Health Department (LCHD) learned that stool specimens collected from two students who attended St. Anne Catholic School in Barrington, Illinois were positive for Salmonella.  A third student was symptomatic and stool tests were pending.  The school nurse had seen ten other students with complaints of stomachaches. LCHD Nurse Epidemiologist, Shawn Cesario, reported that the two students with salmonellosis were in different grades, that illness onset dates were one day apart (September 20 and September 21) and that both were on the school hot lunch plan.  LCHD environmental staff inspected the school kitchen on October 4 and found no issues with the school kitchen facility.  They learned that OrganicLife, a foodservice provider with headquarters in Wheeling, Illinois, supplied meals at St. Anne.
On October 9, 2012 the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) confirmed that the three St. Anne students were laboratory confirmed with an indistinguishable strain of Salmonella Enteriditis (SE). Pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) testing revealed the strain was JEXG01.0023. IDPH alerted local health departments in the area about the cluster of salmonellosis in students at St. Anne Catholic School.  Public health officials were advised to report SE illnesses to IDPH. More patients with strain JEGX01.0023 were quickly identified through heightened surveillance.  Case-patients were enrolled at six different private schools located in the City of Chicago, in Cook County, and in Lake County.  OrganicLife provided meal service to all six schools.
Epidemiologic Investigation
Patients and parents/guardians of ill children were interviewed about symptoms, foods consumed, contact with ill persons, and other potential exposures for a Salmonella infection.  In addition, all parents/guardians of children who attended school with a confirmed case of SE were asked to complete a survey about foods their children consumed at school.  This allowed investigators to compare answers among ill students (cases) and non-ill students (controls).  A “confirmed” case was defined as a student at one of the 6 schools who was laboratory confirmed with Salmonella Enteriditis Strain JEGX01.0023 with symptom onset between September 10, 2012 and October 12, 2012.  A “probable” case was defined as a student at one of the schools who had diarrhea and/or vomiting and fever in that time frame but who did not test positive for Salmonella.
In total 8 patients laboratory confirmed with Salmonella Enteriditis Strain JEGX01.0023 and 9 probable cases were identified among students who attended 6 schools in the Chicago area.  Illness onsets ranged from September 14 to October 10. OrganicLife serviced all six schools. Sixteen of the 17 case patients reported eating school lunch.  Information was not available for one case.  No particular meal date or food item was statistically associated with illness.  Investigators attributed the lack of statistically important findings to the fact that students ate lunch on multiple days and issues of case/control recall of foods eaten.
Environmental Investigation
While kitchen facilities at all six schools were inspected, the environmental investigation focused on the OrganicLife food service facility located at 281 East Messer Drive in Wheeling, Illinois.  On October 12, 2012 Cook County Department of Public Health staff person, Katie Daley, made the first on-site visit occurring as food was being prepared at the facility.  Ms. Daley noted multiple critical food safety violations including improper storage of potentially hazardous foods (raw shell eggs), improper sanitation of utensils, poor employee hand washing practices, and multiple hot and cold holding errors.  The sanitation score that day was 62 out of a possible 100 points.  Ms. Daley provided immediate training to employees with regard to proper hand washing and glove use.  Inspectors would return to the OrganicLife facility 5 more times in October and twice in November. See Attachment No. 1, OrganicLife Inspections. Thirty-five of the 41 employees who worked at OrganicLife during the time period of the school illnesses submitted stool specimens for testing.  (Six employees were let go or quit prior to submitting specimens.)  None of the remaining food handlers tested positive for Salmonella.
Public health investigators summarized their investigation in a report issued December 3, 2012.  They concluded that an outbreak of Salmonella Enteriditis occurred among students at six private schools who received school lunches from OrganicLife from mid-September to mid-October 2012.  Investigators theorized that an infected food handler through poor personal hygiene contaminated food.  They attributed negative stool test in employees to the delay in specimen collection.  Stools were collected nearly two weeks after the last symptom onset in a student.  The report notes that factors that may have contributed to bacterial proliferation included improper cold and hot holding temperatures observed during the inspection. See Attachment No. 2, Illinois Department of Public Health Final Report.
Salmonella:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants.  The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.

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Congress: No meat inspector furlough
Source : http://www.farmanddairy.com/news/no-meat-inspector-furlough/48926.html
By Chris Kick (Mar 21, 2013)
Editor’s note: This is a developing story. Updates being made.
SALEM, Ohio — The federal budget sequester that became effective March 1 still stands, but it looks like the meat industry is safe, according to congressional action taken March 20 by the Senate, and today (March 21) by the House.
Both chambers voted in favor of a bipartisan amendment to a 2013 appropriations bill, directing $55 million to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service from other USDA accounts to fund meat and poultry inspections. Funds will be appropriated for meat inspection through Sept. 30.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture had previously warned that the cuts would most likely lead to a furlough of federal meat inspectors, which would have caused significant economic losses in the meat industry, including meat processors, who are required by law to have federal inspectors present when processing.
The furlough was expected to last 11 days and would have included all 9,212 federal meat safety workers, including inspectors, according to testimony presented March 13 by Elisabeth Hagen, Under Secretary for Food Safety. The days were to be taken non-consecutively to minimize losses, but estimates still put the losses in the billions.
Industry’s reaction
The decision received praise from the American Meat Institute — a national trade organization that represents the meat industry.
“We appreciate Congress’ leadership and we are particularly grateful for the efforts of Senators (Mark) Pryor and (Roy) Blunt, who offered an amendment to fund USDA’s meat and poultry inspection program,” said AMI President J. Patrick Boyle. “We are gratified that lawmakers recognized the essential nature of meat and poultry inspection by taking this step to prevent inspector furloughs.”
NCBA is relieved
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said a crisis was prevented.
“With this shift of finances, Congress was able to avoid the crisis created by the administration and keep FSIS inspectors in the plants where they belong,” said NCBA president Scott George, a cattleman from Cody, Wyo.
Under the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906 and related legislation, all meat, poultry and egg products produced here in the United States or imported must be inspected by a federal food safety inspector and that service must be paid for by the federal government. Without the inspection, no product can be sold or shipped interstate.
“Had inspection been halted, this would have resulted in a backlog of animals, shortened supply of beef to market, higher prices and harm to the futures markets,” said George. “By the Secretary’s own estimates, this would have equated to $10 billion in production losses and $400 million in lost wages.”

China food fears raise potential for NZ
Source : http://www.scmp.com/business/commodities/article/1195552/new-zealand-dairy-product-makers-set-sights-asia
By Ray Chan (Mar 21, 2013)
China's long-running food-safety scares and milk powder contamination problems have increased demand for reliable overseas supplies, creating sound investment opportunities for New Zealand's agriculture-centric economy.
Bill English, New Zealand's deputy prime minister and minister of finance, said fears among Chinese parents over the quality of local dairy products had grown in recent years following a slew of food-safety scandals. The resulting demand for safe raw milk and baby powder created a "two-way" investment opportunities for New Zealand and Chinese investors, he said.
"As a small country, we rely on foreign direct investment to help us achieve economies of scale and for access to the rapidly rising middle class in China," English said, urging New Zealand dairy firms to establish distribution and sale channels in Asia with local partners.
As a small country, we rely on foreign direct investment to help us achieve economies of scale and for access to the rapidly rising middle class in ChinaChina's milk imports from New Zealand have grown more than fivefold in the past two years as rising incomes propelled demand for quality and safe products from overseas.
Lack of confidence in local dairy products is a big social challenge for the Chinese authorities. Earlier this month, the Netherlands joined Hong Kong, Australia and Germany in seeking to limit infant formula purchases after some Dutch supermarkets found Chinese customers buying large quantities of formula, raising concerns about supplies for local children.
At an event hosted by Credit Suisse, English said China's fast-rising middle-class consumers were seeking a better living standard for their families and provided big potential for New Zealand to boost economic growth through various exports to the country. China is already the biggest buyer of New Zealand's exports. Besides dairy products, English said there were also rising sales of lamb, beef and honey to China from New Zealand.

Possible Norovirus Outbreak at Mulvaney’s Restaurant in Sacramento
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/03/companys-arsenal-includes-natural-enemy-of-salmonella/
By Kathy Will (Mar 20, 2013)
According to the Sacramento Bee, county officials at the Sacramento Department of Health and Human Services are investigating a possible norovirus outbreak at Mulvaney’s B&L restaurant. The possible restaurant food poisoning outbreak occurred after people at at the restaurant on February 23, February 25, and February 26, 2013. Twenty people reported being ill at that time.
Two people connected to the restaurant have tested positive for norovirus. No further incidents were reported in connection with the restaurant, and it was disinfected after customers reported becoming ill. If the outbreak is confirmed, the restaurant may have to undergo reviews of its food safety and sanitation practices.
Norovirus sickens at least 21 million Americans every year. It is extremely contagious and is transmitted via person to person contact, through contaminated food and water, and by people touching contaminated surfaces. Outbreaks are more common in the winter, when people spend more time indoors. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Most people recover quickly, but some must be hospitalized because of dehydration. Norovirus kills about 800 Americans every year.

New Spray Product Takes Aim at Salmonella on Poultry
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/03/companys-arsenal-includes-natural-enemy-of-salmonella/
By Cookson Beecher (Mar 20, 2013)
“A sneaky germ.” That’s how the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes Salmonella. The agency follows that uncomplimentary description with a warning that Salmonella can contaminate more than just poultry and eggs. “It sneaks its way into many foods — ground beef, pork, tomatoes, sprouts — even peanut butter,” says the CDC site.
Yet in the world of food safety, poultry stands out as a a significant player when it comes to Salmonella contamination. So much so that last December, in the wake of two nationwide Salmonella outbreaks linked to ground turkey in 2011, the USDA ordered companies that produce raw ground chicken, turkey and similar products to go back through their processing systems and figure out where things went wrong.
In one of the 2011 recalls of ground turkey, 136 people from 34 states became ill, 37 needed to be hospitalized and one person died.
Despite the recalls, demand for ground turkey and ground chicken products continues to grow. Industry officials say that consumers are looking for lower-cost alternatives to beef that have fewer calories and good nutritional value, and that ground poultry has emerged as a popular option.
Tom Super, spokesman for the National Chicken Council, told Food Safety News that in 2012, 165 million pounds of ground chicken and 600 million pounds of ground turkey — altogether 765 million pounds of ground poultry — were sold, representing a 10 percent jump over the previous year. (This does not include the ground poultry ingredients added to products such as hot dogs.)
Pointing to the continuing drought in the Midwest and higher livestock feed prices, Super said the signs are pointing to the likelihood of higher beef prices and therefore increased demand for ground poultry.
A stroke of good timing
In the midst of all of this, Intralytix, a company that specializes in natural products that kill harmful foodborne pathogens, has developed a product, SalmoFresh, whose active ingredients seek out and kill Salmonella. This includes strains belonging to the most common, highly pathogenic variations of the bacteria, including Salmonella Heidelberg, Typhimurium, Enteritidis, Newport, Hadar, Kentucky and Thompson.
According to a company press release, SalmoFresh is specifically designed for foods that are at a high risk for Salmonella contamination. Red meat and poultry in particular can be treated before grinding for significant reductions in Salmonella contamination. In the case of poultry, SalmoFresh can be sprayed on the cut-up parts as they go through the line — before they’re ground up.
In the latest news from Intralytix, the company announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had granted SalmoFresh the status of GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe).
The company’s chief scientist, Alexander Sulakvelidze, said that GRAS recognition will allow SalmoFresh to be put into immediate use by the food processing industry as “a safe and effective approach for reducing the risk of foodborne salmonellosis.”
“We’ve shown the FDA that it works well,” company CEO John Woloszyn told Food Safety News, referring to the voluminous information and test results the company filed with the agency when it petitioned for GRAS status. “When the FDA acknowledges that a product is GRAS, customers feel more confident about it.”
SalmoFresh is all natural, kosher and halal. Woloszyn said that in the near future, it is expected to to be included in the Organic Materials Review Institute listing (OMRI), a status that another Intralytix product, ListShield, which fights against Listeria, already enjoys.
“We see a real possibility for organic markets with OMRI listing,” Woloszyn said, referring to conversations he’s had with agriculture department officials.
Although the company hasn’t recruited any customers yet, Woloszyn said that potential customers who are currently doing experiments with the product in their labs are reporting good results — that it’s very effective against Salmonella.
“There’s a great deal of enthusiasm about it,” he said, adding that testing generally takes several months.
Describing other advantages of the product, Woloszyn said that unlike irradiation, pressurization or chlorine washes, SalmoFresh doesn’t affect the color, taste, texture or odor of the poultry.
“It’s 100 percent natural,” he said.
As for cost, Woloszyn said that for processors, the advantage of using SalmoFresh is that it’s less expensive and far easier to use than technologies such as radiation and pressurization. And because it’s applied as a fine mist as the meat goes through the line, there’s no need for highly specialized equipment. All it takes is some nozzles and equipment, most of which is already available in most processing facilities.
He estimates the cost at 1 to 2 cents a pound, depending on the product.
But how does it work?
Bacteriophages, also known as phages, are the active ingredients in SalmoFresh and Intralytix’s other food safety products. In an earlier interview with Food Safety News, Woloszyn described phages as naturally occurring viruses that can be very effective in killing bacteria. They are everywhere, he said — inside of us, on our skin, in the soil, inside and on the outside of plants and animals, and even in the ocean. They do their work by going after specific targeted bacteria, infecting and then killing them.
As for SalmoFresh, the product “will significantly reduce levels of Salmonella, with as much as a 95-100 percent reduction in some cases,” according to Woloszyn.
In describing the strategy these phages use, Woloszyn said they attack the pathogen and inject their DNA into it. Once the daughter cells, which develop inside the bacteria, are ready, they break open the cell wall and go in search of more pathogens to attack.
Woloszyn said that before the advent of antibiotics, phage therapy was used against a range of human diseases with varying results. However, with the growth of antibiotic resistance, phage biotechnology is now being viewed as an alternative to antibiotics, in some cases.
Intralytix produced a video that shows how phages work against foodborne pathogens:
“Most thinking in the Western World is that you need to use harsh chemicals or irradiation against pathogens instead of the powers of Mother Nature,” Woloszyn said, adding that consumers are increasingly looking for “natural” food products.
“We are putting nature back to work, as intended,” he said.
Why is ground poultry so risky?
Poultry and Salmonella have always gone “hand in glove,” said Woloszyn. Indeed, most cooks know they should handle poultry as though it is contaminated with Salmonella simply because of the likelihood that it is.
But because any Salmonella contamination that might be present on the whole bird will be on the surface, cooking it thoroughly will kill any pathogens that might be on the the bird.
But Rafael Rivera, food safety specialist with U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, told Food Safety News that in the case of ground poultry, which often involves grinding up thousands of poultry parts in the same batch, the chances of cross-contamination are high. This can happen if even just a few of the chicken parts are contaminated with Salmonella.
That’s why it’s so important for people to throughly cook ground poultry, he said, emphasizing that the internal temperature needs to reach 165 degrees F. to ensure that the ground poultry is safe to eat.
When asked about SalmoFresh, he said it seems that it might be a good strategy and that he’d like to see the testing results. “Every strategy that controls Salmonella is a good one,” he said. “But it’s also important to see how it affects the looks and the taste of the product and how cost-effective it is.”
Super of the National Chicken Council said that the industry is always looking for new and innovative advances in science and technology in battling Salmonella.
And like Rivera, he emphasized that pathogens on the outside of any kind of meat, including poultry, can get inside a ground product.
“You have to pay extra special attention to the temperature,” he said, referring to labels that tell consumers to cook the ground meat to 165 degrees F. “Food safety is the Number One priority.”
Intralytix
A biotechnology company that focuses on producing and marketing bacteriophage-based products to control bacterial pathogens in environmental, food processing and medical settings, Intralytix has produced several food safety products that target foodborne pathogens.
In addition to SalmoFresh, it has developed EcoShield, which targets E. coli O157:H7; and ListShield, which targets Listeria monocytogenes. It also has developed probiotic/nutraceutical products as well as animal-health products.
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OrganicLife Salmonella Lawsuit to be filed in Chicago Cook County
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/organiclife-salmonella-lawsuit-to-be-filed-in-chicago-cook-county/
By Bill Marler (Mar 20, 2013)
We will be filing a lawsuit (Complaint Attached) Thursday on behalf of a young girl hospitalized with Salmonella after eating lunch at her school in 2012.  Her Salmonella illness was linked to Salmonella illnesses in six different private schools located in the City of Chicago, in Cook County, and in Lake County.  OrganicLife provided meal service to all six schools.
Salmonella Enteriditis Outbreak
On October 3, 2012 the Lake County Health Department (LCHD) learned that stool specimens collected from two students who attended St. Anne Catholic School in Barrington, Illinois were positive for Salmonella.  A third student was symptomatic and stool tests were pending.  The school nurse had seen ten other students with complaints of stomachaches. LCHD Nurse Epidemiologist, Shawn Cesario, reported that the two students with salmonellosis were in different grades, that illness onset dates were one day apart (September 20 and September 21) and that both were on the school hot lunch plan.  LCHD environmental staff inspected the school kitchen on October 4 and found no issues with the school kitchen facility.  They learned that OrganicLife, a foodservice provider with headquarters in Wheeling, Illinois, supplied meals at St. Anne.
On October 9, 2012 the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) confirmed that the three St. Anne students were laboratory confirmed with an indistinguishable strain of Salmonella Enteriditis (SE). Pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) testing revealed the strain was JEXG01.0023. IDPH alerted local health departments in the area about the cluster of salmonellosis in students at St. Anne Catholic School.  Public health officials were advised to report SE illnesses to IDPH. More patients with strain JEGX01.0023 were quickly identified through heightened surveillance.  Case-patients were enrolled at six different private schools located in the City of Chicago, in Cook County, and in Lake County.  OrganicLife provided meal service to all six schools.
Epidemiologic Investigation
Patients and parents/guardians of ill children were interviewed about symptoms, foods consumed, contact with ill persons, and other potential exposures for a Salmonella infection.  In addition, all parents/guardians of children who attended school with a confirmed case of SE were asked to complete a survey about foods their children consumed at school.  This allowed investigators to compare answers among ill students (cases) and non-ill students (controls).  A “confirmed” case was defined as a student at one of the 6 schools who was laboratory confirmed with Salmonella Enteriditis Strain JEGX01.0023 with symptom onset between September 10, 2012 and October 12, 2012.  A “probable” case was defined as a student at one of the schools who had diarrhea and/or vomiting and fever in that time frame but who did not test positive for Salmonella.
In total 8 patients laboratory confirmed with Salmonella Enteriditis Strain JEGX01.0023 and 9 probable cases were identified among students who attended 6 schools in the Chicago area.  Illness onsets ranged from September 14 to October 10. OrganicLife serviced all six schools. Sixteen of the 17 case patients reported eating school lunch.  Information was not available for one case.  No particular meal date or food item was statistically associated with illness.  Investigators attributed the lack of statistically important findings to the fact that students ate lunch on multiple days and issues of case/control recall of foods eaten.
Environmental Investigation
While kitchen facilities at all six schools were inspected, the environmental investigation focused on the OrganicLife food service facility located at 281 East Messer Drive in Wheeling, Illinois.  On October 12, 2012 Cook County Department of Public Health staff person, Katie Daley, made the first on-site visit occurring as food was being prepared at the facility.  Ms. Daley noted multiple critical food safety violations including improper storage of potentially hazardous foods (raw shell eggs), improper sanitation of utensils, poor employee hand washing practices, and multiple hot and cold holding errors.  The sanitation score that day was 62 out of a possible 100 points.  Ms. Daley provided immediate training to employees with regard to proper hand washing and glove use.  Inspectors would return to the OrganicLife facility 5 more times in October and twice in November. See Attachment No. 1, OrganicLife Inspections. Thirty-five of the 41 employees who worked at OrganicLife during the time period of the school illnesses submitted stool specimens for testing.  (Six employees were let go or quit prior to submitting specimens.)  None of the remaining food handlers tested positive for Salmonella.
Public health investigators summarized their investigation in a report issued December 3, 2012.  They concluded that an outbreak of Salmonella Enteriditis occurred among students at six private schools who received school lunches from OrganicLife from mid-September to mid-October 2012.  Investigators theorized that an infected food handler through poor personal hygiene contaminated food.  They attributed negative stool test in employees to the delay in specimen collection.  Stools were collected nearly two weeks after the last symptom onset in a student.  The report notes that factors that may have contributed to bacterial proliferation included improper cold and hot holding temperatures observed during the inspection. See Attachment No. 2, Illinois Department of Public Health Final Report.

300 with Cryptosporidium Linked to “Ready to Eat” Salad
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/300-with-cryptosporidium-linked-to-ready-to-eat-salad/
By Bill Marler (Mar 20, 2013)
According to a Health Protection Agency (HPA) press release, the HPA announced findings of an investigation into an outbreak of Cryptosporidium infection that affected around 300 people in England and Scotland in May 2012. The investigation showed strong evidence of an association with eating pre-cut bagged salad products, which are likely to have been labeled as ‘ready-to-eat’.
This “somewhat” contradictory advice followed the report:
Dr. Alison Gleadle, director of food safety at the Food Standards Agency (FSA), said:  “We’d like to remind everyone of our usual advice to wash all fruits and vegetables, including salad, before you eat them, unless they are labeled ‘ready-to-eat’.
Hmm, interesting advice.
The Cryptosporidium parasite causes the disease cryptosporidiosis. The most common symptom is diarrhea, which can range from mild to severe. There are a number of potential sources, including consumption of contaminated water or food, swimming in contaminated water or through contact with contaminated food or affected animals.
The full press release can be found here.  A summary of the investigation’s findings has been published in the HPA’s Health Protection Report.

Airplane Food – With a Little too much Shigella
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/airplane-food-with-a-little-too-much-shigella/
By Bill Marler (Mar 19, 2013)
I travel a lot.  Honestly (knock on wood), I have never been sickened by the food I have eaten on a plane.  But the following case reminds me how easily it could happen.
In September, 2004, health agencies from many U.S. states, as well as international health agencies, began reporting persons ill with Shigella sonnei infections.  Tests conducted on many U.S. residents who had cultured positive for the bacteria revealed a matching genetic pattern amongst the samples provided.  Epidemiological investigation revealed that a cluster of persons ill with the genetically identical strain of Shigella sonnei had traveled by air from Honolulu, Hawaii during August 22 through 24, 2004.
Further investigation established that food from the defendant, Gate Gourmet, Inc.’s, Honolulu, Hawaii location, was the common link between the airlines and the cluster of persons ill with the genetically identical strain of Shigella sonnei.  On February 25 and 26, 2005, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspected the Gate Gourmet, Inc., facility located at 324 Rodgers Boulevard, Honolulu, Hawaii, which provides food and beverage service to various airlines at Honolulu Airport.  By letter to the defendant’s Chairman and CEO dated April 21, 2005, FDA District Director Barbara Cassens noted that, “The observations made during the inspection revealed that your facility is in violation of the Public Health Service Act and the Interstate Conveyance Sanitation regulations.”
The District Director’s letter listed a litany of violations:
•Perishable food holding temperature violations:  “Cooked turkey placed in the refrigerator at 10:30 a.m. showed a temperature of 98° F at 2:50 p.m. . . . Cooked pork placed in the refrigerator at 10:00 a.m. showed a temperature of 87° F at 2:53 p.m.”
•Pest and vermin violations:  “Your firm failed to construct and maintain your facility to be free from flies and other vermin.”  Also, “in the pot wash area, salad area and hallways were dirty uncovered trash cans and trash carts with fruit flies and cockroaches in and near them.”
•Equipment maintenance and cleanliness violations:  “Handles of all refrigeration units were dirty and sticky with old food residue build up . . . The reach-in refrigerator had mold growing on the windows . . . [and] A pink slimy substance was dripping onto the conveyor at the ‘clean end’ of the pot washing machine.”
•Bare-handed contact with ready-to-serve items:  “Specifically, ice used for drinking came into contact with employees’ bare hands while being loaded into bags.”
This is another it what will be a long – too long – series of outbreak investigations where we have represented consumers in what I hope will be a cautionary tale, and a learning experience, for manufacturers of food.

Another Likely Employee Based Shigella Outbreak
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/another-likely-employee-based-shigella-outbreak/
By Bill Marler (Mar 18, 2013)
The first Shigella illness involving a guest of the Doubletree Hotel was reported to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) on September 9, 2003. Interviews with other persons confirmed that multiple people had been ill during or following their stay at the hotel. On September 11, CDPHE notified the Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of a cluster of diarrheal illness among guests of the hotel. On September 12, CDC staff left Atlanta for Denver, to assist the CDPHE and Tri-County Health Department in their investigation of the outbreak. See CDC Investigation Report, dated September 13, 2004.
A comprehensive questionnaire was developed, guest lists were obtained, and interviews conducted as part of the outbreak study. Two separate large groups of hotel guests were identified. One group consisted of a wedding party, and the second consisted of a World War II veterans reunion, with attendees from a number of different states. Members of both groups, as well as a random sample of hotel guests, were contacted and interviewed.
For purposes of the investigation study: “A case was defined as a person with gastrointestinal illness characterized by three or more episodes of diarrhea in a twenty-four hour period or having both fever and abdominal cramps since staying at or attending an event at Hotel A [the Doubletree Hotel] during the exposure period from September 4 to September 7.”
A statistical analysis was conducted of risk factors, exposures, symptoms and attack rates. Ill persons were instructed to seek medical care and to test stool cultures. An investigation was conducted of the hotel kitchen and staff food handlers. 132 persons were interviewed as part of the study.
Laboratory testing ultimately identified ten culture-confirmed cases of Shigella sonnei infections, three of whom were foodhandlers working in the kitchen during the outbreak. An investigation of the hotel kitchen was conducted on September 15, finding no violations. On September 17, the hotel manager agreed to voluntarily close the kitchen and food facilities, due to a “potential Shigella outbreak”; the kitchen was reopened on September 18.
Once the investigation was concluded, the report identified the following critical outbreak findings:
- an outbreak of Shigella sonnei had occurred among guests and employees of the hotel;
- epidemiologic and environmental evidence implicated the honeydew melon served at the breakfast buffet;
- there was no evidence of hotel staff contaminating the honeydew melon;
- contamination likely occurred during the period of September 4-7, and likely occurred over a period of a few days;
- some practices by the kitchen food handlers were not optimal; and
- the honeydew melons were traced back to two farms in California, but the investigation was inconclusive as to the possible source of contamination at those farms.
The CDC report, in part, also recommended that the hotel adopt the following procedures: hotel food handlers should not prepare or serve food if ill; preparation of raw fruits should minimize contamination from the peel or rind; employees should be trained to monitor food temperatures; employees should wash their hands thoroughly; and food service training should be required of restaurant staff.

Michigan Tech Scientist Honored for Food Safety Innovation
Source : http://www.mtu.edu/news/stories/2013/march/story86930.html
By Marcia Goodrich (Mar 18, 2013)
Microbes lurk almost everywhere, from fresh food and air filters to toilet seats and folding money. Most of the time, they are harmless to humans. But sometimes they aren’t. Every year, thousands of people sicken from E. coli infections and hundreds die in the US alone. Now Michigan Technological University scientist Jaroslaw Drelich has found a new way to get them before they get us.
His innovation relies on copper, an element valued for centuries for its antibiotic properties. Drelich, a professor of materials science and engineering, has discovered how to embed nanoparticles of the red metal into vermiculite, an inexpensive, inert compound sometimes used in potting soil. In preliminary tests on local lake water, it killed 100 percent of E. coli bacteria in the sample. Drelich also found that it was effective in killing Staphylococcus aureus, the common staph bacteria.
Other studies have shown that copper is toxic to Listeria, Salmonella and even the antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA.
Bacteria aren’t the only microorganisms that copper can kill. It is also toxic to viruses and fungi. If it were incorporated into food packaging materials, it could help prevent a variety of foodborne diseases, Drelich says.
The copper-vermiculite material mixes well with many other materials, like cardboard and plastic, so it could be used in packing beads, boxes, even cellulose-based egg cartons.
And because the cost is so low—25 cents per pound at most—it would be an inexpensive, effective way to improve the safety of the food supply, especially fruits and vegetables. Drelich is working with the Michigan Tech SmartZone to commercialize the product through his business, Micro Techno Solutions, the recipient of the 2012 Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest Food Safety Innovation Award. He expects to further test the material and eventually license it to companies that pack fresh food.
The material could have many other applications as well. It could be used to treat drinking water, industrial effluent, even sewage.  “I’ve had inquiries from companies interested in purifying water,” Drelich says.
And it could be embedded in products used in public places where disease transmission is a concern: toilet seats, showerheads, even paper toweling.
“When you make a discovery like this, it’s hard to envision all the potential applications,” he says. It could even be mixed into that wad of dollar bills in your wallet. “Money is the most contaminated product on the market.”
Drelich’s initial research on the copper-vermiculite materials is described in the article “Vermiculite Decorated with Copper Nanoparticles: Novel Antibacterial Hybrid Material,” published in 2011 in Applied Surface Science. The coauthors are Bowen Li, Patrick Bowen, Jiann-Yang Hwang, Owen Mills and Daniel Hoffman.

Is a Harmonic Convergence Responsible for Saving Oysters in California?
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/03/is-harmonic-convergence-responsible-for-saving-marin-oysters/
By foodsafetynews.com (Mar 18, 2013)
A lifelong Marin County resident, Bob La Belle, thinks nothing short of a “harmonic convergence” may be responsible for saving that Drakes Bay oyster business that former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar tried to shut down.
It seems that since the oyster farm located at the Point Reyes National Seashore won an emergency injunction allowing it to stay open while contesting Salazar’s decision not to renew its lease, some other things have been happening. For example:
President Obama’s economic recovery plans actually “extoll establishing and restoring oyster beds to help sustain ecosystems,” La Belle wrote in a guest column for the Marion Independent Journal. That local newspaper also ran a front page story on how the National Parks Service contributes $445 million to the local economy through visitors “lodging, hiking, seeing elephant seals –and eating oysters.”
Then La Belle notes: “The Park Service’s own publication, ‘Stewardship Begins With People,‘ effectively and passionately embraces — and justifies — renewing Drakes Bay Oyster Co.’s lease.”
“And as it so advocates, the Park Service speaks directly to the validity and value of continued mixed use of Drakes Estero by our national treasure, Drakes Bay Oyster Co,” La Belle adds.
Since the 9th District Court of Appeals granted the emergency injunction alter finding there are “serious legal questions” about the Interior Department’s refusal to renew the leaser, owner Kevin Lunny has said he is now optimistic about saving oyster farm and the jobs that go with it.
Drakes Bay is the source of about 40 percent of California’s oysters. The 9th Circuit said “the balance of hardships tops sharply” in the oyster farms favor.
A current public health warning not to eat recreationally harvested mussels, clams or whole scallops in Marin County does not apply to commercially sold clams, mussels, scallops and oyster from approved sources including Drakes Bay.
California law permits only state-certified commercial shellfish harvesters or dealers to sell shellfish products, which are subject to frequent state mandatory testing.

 


                  

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