FoodHACCP Newsletter
11/04 2013 ISSUE:572


Diabetics at Special Risk for Food Poisoning
Source :
By  Carla Gillespie (Nov 04, 2013)
Diabetics are among those a special risk for food poisoning. Because November is American Diabetes Month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has put together some food safety information for diabetics.
Diabetes can affect various organs and systems of the body causing them not to function properly. This makes them  more susceptible to infection. The immune system, the gastrointestinal tract, and the kidneys are all affected by diabetes.
Diabetes can affect the body’s immune system so that it does not readily recognize harmful bacteria or other pathogens. A delay in immune response can create an increased risk for infection.
Diabetes can damage the cells that create stomach acid and the nerves that aid digestion. Because of this damage, the stomach may hold food or beverages for longer periods of time, allowing harmful bacteria and other pathogens to grow.
Diabetes can also affect the renal system. If kidneys are damaged, they may not function properly holding harmful bacteria, toxins, and other pathogens.
For these reasons, diabetics who contract foodborne illness are more likely to have a lengthier illness, undergo hospitalization, or even die. That’s why special attention must be paid when  handling, preparing, and consuming foods. Clean produce carefully. Use a food thermometer to tell when meat or poultry is cooked. Avoid some high-risk foods such as raw milk, unpasteurized juices, foods that contain raw eggs, sprouts, pates and soft cheeses.

Nevada Church Potluck Infected 150 People With Salmonella
Source :
By News Desk (Nov 04, 2013)
An interim report from the Southern Nevada Health District states that approximately 140-150 people were infected with Salmonella after attending, or coming into contact with attendees of, a potluck dinner in Logandale, NV, on Oct. 19.
There were 250 people in attendance at the dinner, which ABC News reported took place at a local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The 85 victims reported by area health-care providers ranged in age from seven months to 88 years, with a median age of 44.
Test results indicated Salmonella infantis as the causative agent, but a dish has not been identified as the source because no leftovers were available for testing.

Schnucks Romaine E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak – Marler Clark Traceback to the Source
Source :
By Bill Marler (Nov 02, 2013)
On March 23, 2012 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its final update on the multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to romaine lettuce.   The outbreak investigation was assigned outbreak code 1110MOEXH-2.   Genetically, the outbreak strain was identified by Pulsenet pattern designations EXHX01.0047/EXHA26.0015.  At the completion of the investigation on March 21, 2012, 58 persons residing in 9 states were infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7.  The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows:  Arizona (1), Arkansas (2), Illinois (9), Indiana (2), Kansas (3), Kentucky (1), Minnesota (3), Missouri (38), and Nebraska (1).
Among persons for whom information was available, illnesses began from October 10, 2011 to November 4, 2011.  Ill persons ranged in age from one to 94 years, with a median age of 29 years old.  Sixty-three percent (63%) were female.  Among persons for whom information was available, illnesses began from October 9, 2011 to November 7, 2011.  Ill persons ranged in age from 1 to 94 years, with a median age of 28 years.  Among the 49 ill persons with available information, 33 (67%) were hospitalized, and 3 developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).  No deaths were reported.
Collaborative investigative efforts of state, local, and federal public health agencies indicated that romaine lettuce sold primarily at several locations of a single grocery store chain, Schnucks, was the likely source of illnesses in this outbreak.  Contamination occurred before the product reached Schnucks stores.
During October 10 to November 4, 2011, public health officials in several states and CDC conducted an epidemiologic study by comparing foods eaten by 22 ill and 82 well persons, including 45 well persons who shopped at a Schnucks grocery store during the week of October 17, 2011.  Analysis of this study indicated that eating romaine lettuce was associated with illness.  Ill persons (85%) were significantly more likely than well persons (46%) to report eating romaine lettuce in the week before illness.  Ill persons (85%) were also significantly more likely than well persons (46%) to report shopping at a Schnucks store.  Among ill and well persons who shopped at Schnucks, ill persons (89%) were significantly more likely than well persons (9%) to report eating a salad from the salad bar at Schnucks.  Several different types of lettuce were offered on the Schnucks salad bars.  Of 18 ill persons who reported the type of lettuce eaten, 94% reported eating romaine lettuce.  No other type of lettuce or other item offered on the salad bar was reported to be eaten by more than 55% of ill persons.
Ill persons reported purchasing salads from salad bars at Schnucks between October 5 and October 24, 2011.  A total of nine (9) store locations were identified where more than one (1) ill person reported purchasing a salad from the salad bar in the week before becoming ill.  This included two (2) separate locations where four (4) ill persons reported purchasing a salad at each location.  For locations where more than one (1) ill person reported purchasing a salad from the salad bar and the date of purchase was known, dates of purchase were all within four (4) days of other ill persons purchasing a salad at that same location.  Schnucks voluntarily removed suspected food items from the salad bar on October 26, 2011.  Romaine lettuce served on salad bars at all locations of Schnucks had come from a single lettuce processing facility owned and operated by Vaughan Foods, Inc., located in Moore, Oklahoma.  Vaughan Foods was also the sole distributor of processed romaine lettuce to Schnucks stores.
The FDA and several state agencies conducted traceback investigations for romaine lettuce to try to identify the source of contamination.  Traceback investigations focused on ill persons who had eaten at salad bars at several locations of Schnucks, and on ill persons at two college campuses, in Minnesota (1 ill person) and Missouri (2 ill persons).  Traceback analysis determined that a single common lot of romaine lettuce harvested from “Farm A” was used to supply Schnucks locations as well as the Centennial Dining Hall at the University of Minnesota during the time of the illnesses.  This lot was also provided to a distributor that supplied lettuce to the university campus in Missouri, but records were not sufficient to determine if this lot was sent to this university campus.  Preliminary findings of investigation at Farm A did not identify the source of the contamination.  Farm A was no longer in production during the time of the investigation.
The Minnesota case in this outbreak was critical to both the epidemiological and traceback analysis.  The Minnesota case’s stool isolate was indistinguishable from the outbreak strain on PFGE analysis.  Minnesota Department of Agriculture documents establish that C & E Farms (more specifically Gubser Ranch Lot 21R23, harvested 10/05/2011 and 10/06/2011) was a supplier of romaine lettuce via FoodSource to GO Fresh, which is the Minnesota processor that prepared and sold the romaine lettuce product that ultimately sickened the University of Minnesota student.
The following charts make the route of distribution of C&E Farms romaine lettuce clear.  The first gives the relevant data on the Gubser ranch romaine lettuce that ultimately ended up at Schnucks salad bars, accounting for a vast majority of outbreak cases:
The next chart gives the relevant data on the Gubser ranch romaine lettuce that ultimately ended up at Centennial Hall at the University of Minnesota:
The conclusion from this traceback investigation is that C&E Farms was the only common supplier of romaine lettuce to both Vaughan’s and Go Fresh, and both of these entities utilized the raw romaine from Gubser Ranch Lot 21R23 in the production of lettuce that wound up in Schnucks grocery stores during the outbreak exposure period, as well as at University of Minnesota’s Centennial Hall.  Additionally, counsel for Vaughans has confirmed that Vaughan’s was not buying or receiving any romaine product from Bogiatto, Dole, D’arrigo, Epic Veg, or Green Giant during September or October 2011.  The reason that this is relevant is because Go Fresh received romaine lettuce product from these suppliers during the relevant time frame.

A History of Jimmy John’s Food Safety Problems
Source :
By  Bill Marler, (Nov 02, 2013)
With eight with E. coli O157:H7 in Denver linked to Jimmy John’s, it might be helpful to document some of its past problems.
Multistate Jimmy John’s Restaurants Raw Clover Sprouts 2011
A total of 29 persons infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O26 have been reported from 11 states.  The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (1), Arkansas (1), Iowa (5), Kansas (2), Michigan (10), Missouri (3), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (1), Washington (1), Wisconsin (1), and West Virginia (1).  Seven ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.  Preliminary traceback information has identified a common lot of clover seeds used to grow clover sprouts served at Jimmy John’s restaurant locations where ill persons ate. FDA and states conducted a traceback that identified two separate sprouting facilities; both used the same lot of seed to grow clover sprouts served at these Jimmy John’s restaurant locations. On February 10, 2012, the seed supplier initiated notification of sprouting facilities that received this lot of clover seed to stop using it. Investigations are ongoing to identify other locations that may have sold clover sprouts grown from this seed lot.
Sprouters Northwest, Jimmy John’s Restaurants Clover Sprouts 2010
7 Sickened – Sprouters Northwest of Kent, Washington, issued a product recall after the company’s clover sprouts had been implicated in an outbreak of Salmonella Newport in Oregon and Washington. At least some of the cases had consumed clover sprouts while at a Jimmy John’s restaurants. Jimmy John’s Restaurants are a restaurant chain that sells sandwiches. Concurrent with this outbreak, a separate Salmonella outbreak (Salmonella, serotype I 4,5,12,i-; see Multistate Outbreak, Tiny Greens Organic Farm, Jimmy John’s Restaurants), involving alfalfa sprouts served at Jimmy John’s restaurants was under investigation. The recall of Northwest Sprouters products included: clover; clover & onion; spicy sprouts; and deli sprouts. The Sprouters Northwest products had been sold to grocery stores and wholesale operations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. The FDA inspection found serious sanitary violations.,,
Multistate Outbreak, Tiny Greens Organic Farm, Jimmy John’s Restaurants Alfalfa Sprouts 2010
140 Sickened – On December 17, the Illinois Department of Health announced that an investigation was underway into an outbreak of Salmonella, serotype I4, [5], 12:i: -. Many of the Illinois cases had eaten alfalfa sprouts at various Jimmy John’s restaurants in the Illinois counties of: Adams, Champaign, Cook, DuPage, Kankakee, Macon, McHenry, McLean, Peoria, and Will counties. The sprouts were suspected to be the cause of the illnesses. On December 21, Jimmy John Liautaud, the owner of the franchised restaurant chain, requested that all franchisees remove sprouts from the menu as a “precautionary” measure. On December 23, the Centers for Disease Control revealed that outbreak cases had been detected in other states and that the outbreak was linked with eating alfalfa sprouts while at a nationwide sandwich chain. On December 26, preliminary results of the investigation indicated a link to eating Tiny Greens’ Alfalfa Sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurant outlets. The FDA subsequently advised consumers and restaurants to avoid Tiny Greens Brand Alfalfa Sprouts and Spicy Sprouts produced by Tiny Greens Organic Farm of Urbana, Illinois. The Spicy Sprouts contained alfalfa, radish and clover sprouts. On January 14, 2011, it was revealed that the FDA had isolated Salmonella serotype I4, [5], 12:i: – from a water runoff sample collected from Tiny Greens Organic Farm; the Salmonella isolated was indistinguishable from the outbreak strain. The several FDA inspections of the sprout growing facility revealed factors that likely led to contamination of the sprouts.
CW Sprouts, Inc., SunSprout Sprouts, “restaurant chain (Chain A),” a.k.a. Jimmy Johns 2009
256 Sickened – In February, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services officials identified six isolates of Salmonella Saintpaul. Although this is a common strain of Salmonella, during 2008, only three cases had been detected in Nebraska and only four subtypes of this outbreak strain had been identified in 2008 in the entire USA. As additional reports were made, a case control study was conducted; alfalfa sprout consumption was found to be significantly related to illness. The initial tracebacks of the sprouts indicated that although the sprouts had been distributed by various companies, the sprouts from the first cases originated from the same sprouting facility in Omaha, Nebraska. Forty-two of the illnesses beginning on March 15 were attributed to sprout growing facilities in other states; these facilities had obtained seed from the same seed producer, Caudill Seed Company of Kentucky. The implicated seeds had been sold in many states. On April 26, the FDA and CDC recommended that consumers not eat raw alfalfa sprouts, including sprout blends containing alfalfa sprouts. In May, FDA alerted sprout growers and retailers that a seed supplier, Caudill Seed Company of Kentucky, was withdrawing all alfalfa seeds with a specific three-digit prefix.  Many of the illnesses occurred at “restaurant chain (Chain A).”,,, See PDF linking outbreak to Jimmy John’s a.k.a. “restaurant chain (Chain A)”
Jimmy John’s Restaurant Alfalfa Sprouts and Iceberg Lettuce 2008
28 Sickened – Several University of Colorado students from one sorority became ill with symptoms of bloody diarrhea and cramping. Additional illnesses were reported. E. coli O157: NM (H-) was determined to be the cause. Consumption of alfalfa sprouts at the Jimmy John’s Restaurants in Boulder County and Adams County were risk factors for illness. In addition, the environmental investigation identified Boulder Jimmy John’s food handlers who were infected with E. coli and who had worked while ill. The health department investigation found a number of critical food handling violations, including inadequate hand washing. The fourteen isolates from confirmed cases were a genetic match to one another.

Denver E. coli: Jimmy John’s 4th Food Poisoning Outbreak in 2.5 Years
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (Nov 02, 2013)
An E. coli outbreak that has sickened eight people in the Denver area is the fourth food poisoning outbreak linked to Jimmy John’s in the last two and a half years. Health officials suspect produce is the source of the outbreak but have not disclosed the specific kind. In the previous outbreaks, sprouts have been source of contamination.
Health officials believe that contaminated produce was delivered to Jimmy John’s Denver-area stores and then served to customers between October 7th and 15th. They do not believe the tainted product is still in circulation.
Since 2011, there have been three other food poisoning outbreaks linked to Jimmy John’s. The source of all of them was sprouts.
In 2012, 29 people in 11 states were sickened with E.coli 026 infections after eating sandwiches with sprouts.The onset of illness dates ranged from December 25, 2011 to March 3, 2012. Seven people were hospitalized.
In Januray 2011, a Salmonella Newport outbreak that sickened six people in Oregon and Washington was linked to sprouts served a Jimmy John’s restaurants. This outbreak was separate from another Jimmy John’s “sproutbreak” that was ongoing at the time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its final report on that outbreak one month later.
In February 2011, the CDC’s final report on a Salmonella outbreak that sickened 140 people in 26 states and the District of Columbia, identified the outbreak strain as Salmonella serotype I 4,[5],12:i: That outbreak was linked to Tiny Greens Alfalfa Sprouts or Spicy Sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurants.

E. Coli Illnesses Prompt TN Officials to Investigate Raw Dairy Farm
Source :
By News Desk (Nov 01, 2013)
At least three children have been hospitalized with E. coli illnesses in Tennessee’s Knox County after consuming raw milk.
Health officials are investigating McBee Dairy Farm and collected samples from the cattle and their milk on Thursday.
Local television station WATE reports that Tennesseans can legally drink raw milk if they own the cow and that McBee is a privately owned cow-share operation.
A cease-and-desist order has stopped the farm’s sale of raw cow and goat milk, and the health department will contact anyone who may have purchased McBee milk.

Denver E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Jimmy John’s
Source :
By News Desk (Nov 01, 2013)
Eight people are sick with E. coli after eating at Jimmy John’s in the Denver metropolitan area.
Fox 31 Denver reports that the victims ate at three area Jimmy John’s restaurants between Oct. 7 and 15.
“We believe that their illness came from a produce item that was on those sandwiches that they ate,” Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment epidemiologist Alicia Cronquist, told the station. “Our leading hypothesis for what’s happened is that there was a contaminated produce item that was distributed to the stores.”
She added that investigators have not identified any food-handling issues at the restaurants that would contribute to illness.

Seven People Ill in California Salmonella Outbreak
Source :
By News Desk (Nov 01, 2013)
At least seven people have fallen ill in a Salmonella Lomalinda outbreak in California, according to a spokesman for the California Department of Public Health.
The source of the outbreak is still unknown, but the cases are not related to the ongoing outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg linked to Foster Farms chicken that is predominantly affecting California.
The spokesman declined to provide further details, stating that the agency could not yet comment further on the investigation.
Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps and vomiting.

Even smart people get Norovirus
Source :
By Bill Marler (Oct 31, 2013)
Food Safety News report that at least 51 students and employees at Stanford University have been sickened in a suspected norovirus outbreak, according to a spokeswoman for Santa Clara County Public Health.
The outbreak appears to have originated in the dining hall of Florence Moore Hall. Students who dine at the hall began complaining of symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and nausea beginning Tuesday afternoon.
Four students received emergency care for dehydration, including intravenous fluids, but none were checked in to a hospital, according to public health information officer Amy Cornell.
Cornell said that university staff would be closing the dining hall after dinner Thursday night to heavily sanitize the facilities in case there is a lingering contamination issue.

E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Pittsburgh Restaurant
Source :
By News Desk (Oct 30 ,2013)
Five cases of E. coli infection appear to be linked to a restaurant in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Oakland, according to Allegheny County health officials.
Since the beginning of October, four people have been hospitalized and diagnosed with E .coli O157:H7. At least some are customers or employees of The Porch, located at 221 Schenley Dr. in Oakland.
The restaurant voluntarily closed on Wednesday, Oct. 30, to allow health investigators to inspect the facilities. It plans to reopen on Thursday.
The county health department is encouraging healthcare professionals in the area to test patients for E. coli if they exhibit symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea and abdominal cramps.

Food safety licence must for food grain godowns
Source :
By TNN (Oct 29, 2013)
PANAJI: Goa civil supplies department has stated that all its godowns across the state have to obtain a food safety licence to ensure that quality of food grains is maintained.
The department has also asked for a monthly report from joint mamlatdars about damaged, inferior or infested grains found in godowns from where the grains are supplied to fair price shops through the public distribution system. The directions are mentioned in a circular issued by director of civil supplies Vikas Gaunekar.
The joint mamlatdars will also have to educate fair price shop owners about maintaining quality of grains and to take measures to prevent pest infestation. There are more than a dozen godowns in the 12 talukas.

Food safety, control diploma certificates distributed
Source :
By RECORDER REPORT (Oct 29, 2013)
The first batch of the students of the Postgraduate Diploma Course in Food Safety and Control at the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) successfully graduated and the diploma certificates were confer distributed them here Monday.
This diploma programme, started through the support of the EU-funded TRTA-II programme implemented by United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), is the first of its kind in Pakistan and the UVAS is the pioneer university to complete the diploma course. Secretary Food Punjab Muhammad Aslam Kamboh chaired the certificate distribution ceremony while UVAS Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Talat Naseer Pasha, UNIDO OiC/Chief Technical Advisor of TRTA II Programme Bruno Valanzuolo and Programme Officer Laboratory Accreditation TRTA UNIDO Ali Abbas Qazabash were also present.
Speaking on the occasion, the Secretary Food called for creating a culture of food safety and control in the country. He said experts in food safety were direly needed in the country. He also invited the graduating diploma students to join the Punjab Food Department and Food Authority. Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Talat Naseer Pasha said that the diploma programme will help protect consumers by improving the safety status of food up to consumer desk, facilitate Pakistan's capacity to integrate into global trade and improve compliance of exported and imported products with market requirements.
He said that safe food was a must for good health. He thanked the UNIDO and European Union TRTA-II Programme for supporting the diploma programme. Bruno Valanzuolo said that food safety and food quality are important in food manufacturing. He said that safe food was essential for everybody. He congratulated the passing out students and hoped that they would play their role in ensuring safe food to the consumers. Earlier Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition Dr M Nasir spoke about the objectives of food safety and control diploma. Ali Abbas Qazalbash presented the vote of thanks. This PGDC in Food Safety and Control has been accredited by the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS) hence is an internationally recognised qualification.
Later the graduating students were awarded diplomas. These students, as part of the course requirement, also completed six weeks internship in various organisations, including Punjab Food Authority, Animal Quarantine Dept Lahore, Nestle, Engro Foods, Bunny's Bread and numerous laboratories, confectionery's, restaurants in and around the Lahore area.

Food: A Contact Sport or Something to be Savored
Source :
By Bill Marler (Oct 28, 2013)
After litigating foodborne illness lawsuits for 20 years, food has become a “contact sport,” much like football, or for the rest of the world, soccer.  Whether it is dining at home or out, the thought of how the food might well poison you is never far from my mind.  Years ago, I asked my long suffering spouse why we seemed never to be invited over to friend’s home for dinner after hosting more than a few over-cooked meals at our home, she simply said, “you make them nervous about food.”
When E. coli O157:H7 crashed into the food industry’s awareness during the Jack-in-the-Box outbreak of 1992/1993 – after not paying attention to the McDonald’s E. coli O157:H7 outbreak a decade earlier – hamburgers began to take on an ominous air at the Marler household as opposed to the “Happy Meal.”  After I saw Brianne Kiner in the hospital shortly after coming out of a coma, still on dialysis, post large intestine removal, and after suffering multiple seizures, never was a burger served at our home.  My kids were not allowed to eat them while their friends did.  As you can well imagine there were more than a few odd discussions with parents about meal preparation for sleepovers.  But, to see a child’s life forever changed, or ended, by consuming a hamburger, does change your perspective on what is considered safe – especially for your kids.
In the decades since more food was either checked off the shopping list or if consumed it was with an unnatural gulp.  E. coli found its way into sprouts, juice, lettuce, spinach and even cookie dough.  Salmonella stayed on chicken (allowed there to be there by odd USDA/FSIS decisions).  Salmonella slipped into peanut butter, mangoes, tomatoes (or was that peppers?) and even potpies.  Listeria continued to be a pest in deli meats and cheeses, and expanded its deadly toll to cantaloupe.  After 20 years looking at this buffet, it is easy to see why food began to look less like something to be enjoyed, but more something to be wary of.
The decades have not been without food safety successes.  During the height of the yet another Summer E. coli outbreak linked to hamburger in 2002, I penned an Op-ed for the Denver post entitled, “Put me out of business.”  I banked on the animus that lawyers have – slightly below used car salesmen, yet comfortably above members of Congress – to convince the beef industry that I was making too much money off its failure to get ahold of the deadly pathogen.  The beef and restaurant industries responded (likely more to the fact that E. coli was listed as an adulterant by the USDA/FSIS and increased cook temperatures), and my firm’s E. coli income linked to hamburger dropped from 90% to nearly zero today – a success by anyone’s measure.
There remain challenges to a safer table as this book clearly lays out.  With 48,000,000 fellow citizens sickened each year, 125,000 hospitalized and 3,000 deaths linked to food consumption, and with an increasing population of those facing some form of compromised immune system, the farm to fork continuum continues to be confronted with persistent and emerging risks.
It is true that foodborne illnesses has been with us from the beginning and will continue to remain a challenge for an ever-increasing population.  But, what is also clear, there are people and institutions ignoring that reality to try to prevent a next Brianne, and to make food not something to be feared, but savored.

Is it Time to Ban Petting Zoos?
Source :
By Bill Marler (Oct 27, 2013)
I wrote this one year ago today:
Here we go again.
Last Friday the Division of Public Health of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services in collaboration with Local Health Departments is investigating an outbreak of E. coli infection in 101 people who attended the Cleveland County Fair. Preliminary findings suggest animal exposure may be the source of this outbreak.  As of 1 p.m. Friday, 62 children and 39 adults are known to be/have been affected by this outbreak. Thirteen individuals have been or are currently hospitalized. One child died.
Now Cowlitz County Health and Human Services is investigating one confirmed case and one probable case (laboratory confirmation pending) of illness caused by E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in children that visited the Willow Grove Gardens Pumpkin Patch and petting zoo. The two children became ill after visiting the farm earlier this month. One of the children was hospitalized for several days but is now recovering.
As I have said before – is it time to ban petting zoos?
I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth over such an un-American suggestion.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that a two-year-old boy who became ill with an E. coli infection after attending the Cleveland County Fair had died.  So far 101 people who attended the fair—mostly children—have gotten sick with E. coli O157:H7 infections.  Over a dozen are still hospitalized.  Attendance at the fair is the common link among E. coli cases.
This is not the first, or even the second, time an E. coli outbreak has been traced to a North Carolina fair.  The coming months will likely bring the announcement that public health agencies are joining forces to learn from the Cleveland County Fair E. coli outbreak and prevent future outbreaks from happening.
In 2004, 187 people who attended the North Carolina State Fair became ill with E. coli infections; 15 with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication of E. coli infection that can lead to kidney failure, central nervous system impairment, and death.  In response to the E. coli outbreak, Duke University’s Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy issued an analysis report regarding government regulation of petting zoos.  The authors stated:
In response to the largest outbreak of Escherichia coli (E. coli) in North Carolina history, we recommend that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) issue guidelines and pursue legislation that will control public contact with animals, inform the public of risks related to animal contact, provide transition areas, regulate animal care, and license petting zoos.
In 2005, North Carolina adopted new legislation on petting zoo sanitation. The bill, called “Aieden’s Law,” was named after a boy who suffered a severe, life-threatening case of HUS. It stipulated that petting zoos must obtain a permit following a physical inspection in order to operate in the state.
Last year, at least 25 cases of E. coli infection were traced to the N.C. State Fair.  The only exposure associated with illness was having visited one of the permanent structures in which sheep, goats, and pigs were housed for livestock competitions.
In response to the 2011 N.C. State Fair E. coli outbreak, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created a multiagency task force in North Carolina “to evaluate the preventive measures that were in place during the 2011 state fair and to identify additional interventions that could be applied to prevent disease transmission in livestock exhibitions where physical contact with the public might occur.”  The recommendations were released on July 23, 2012, with plenty of time for Cleveland County Fair operators to take note and implement similar interventions.
I am sure there will be yet another task force following the Cleveland County Fair outbreak.  But at what point will North Carolina health officials decide that preventing E. coli outbreaks at their fairs and petting zoos is better for public health than responding to them?
In 2009, the CDC and a collection of state veterinarians issued an update to what were already stern guidelines for preventing illness associated with animal exhibits and petting zoos, including:
- Wash hands after contact with animals to reduce the risk of zoonotic disease transmission.
- Do not allow food, drink, or pacifiers in animal areas.
- Include transition areas between animal areas and non-animal areas.
- Educate visitors about disease risk and prevention procedures.
- Properly care for and manage animals.
But, if history is any guide, guidelines are not working very well.  The bottom line is that what fairs and petting zoos are doing – or not doing – is not working.
Perhaps blaming the victims for not washing their hands is wearing thin.  Perhaps, animals should be vaccinated to reduce how much pathogenic E. coli that they carry.  Perhaps, animals could be tested before they arrive at the fair and excluded if they are shedding pathogens.
Something needs to be done.  State and county fairs and petting zoos will get the same results if they continue to do the same thing.  Continued E. coli outbreaks linked to these settings are unacceptable.   Other solutions need to be tried.
Or is it simply time to ban petting zoos?
For more on past petting zoo and fair outbreaks, see

Canadian RPC study finds food safety threats
Source :
By Rachel English (Oct 28, 2013)
A recent study by the University of Guelph deemed sanitation processes for reusable plastic containers unsatisfactory on multiple accounts.
The study did not find a food safety hazard, but researchers argue the study shows a fault in decontamination methods.
The study was contracted by Smithcom Communications Agency, on behalf of the Canadian Corrugated Containerboard Association, in response to complaints by Canadian grower-shippers, who are required to use the containers instead of cardboard boxes to transport their produce.
Many growers were upset by sanitation issues and the costs to rent the containers.
RPCs travel through a cycle in which they are rented, packed with produce, shipped, and then returned to the U.S. for cleaning. The circulation of the containers throughout the industry means pathogens also can circulate.
Despite complaints, reusable packaging offers attractive financial and environmental benefits.
“RPCs offer lower costs through greater handling efficiencies, improved product protection, resulting in shrink reduction and higher product quality, and lower environmental impact,” said Jerry Welcome, president of the Reusable Packaging Association.
The study was conducted by Keith Warriner, the director of the food safety and quality program at the university’s Department of Food Science.
It assessed the RPCs on five levels: visual inspection, ATP readings, total aerobic counts, enterobacteriaceae, and E. coli/coliform counts.
Because there are no food safety standards in place for the Reusable Packaging Association, Warriner used his experience in the meat industry to establish sanitation standards for the study.
The standard was set at what the researcher expected of a clean “low-risk contact surface.”
Researchers visited five Canadian packing facilities in Hamilton, Leamington and Montreal. They selected 10 random RPCs from each location.
Warriner immediately ruled out contamination on the grower level because the containers were sampled as they were delivered.
Warriner first became suspicious during visual inspection of the containers when he noticed labels from previous growers were still stuck to the plastic, indicating they had not been properly sanitized.
He also noticed physical damage on some of the RPCs, which could allow “niches for contamination to accumulate and become inaccessible to sanitizing agents,” according to the study.
“It was evident from visual inspection and analysis that a proportion of the RPC had neglected to be cleaned or decontaminated effectively,” according to the study.
The sampled RPCs had varying levels of sanitation. Overall, 64% of all RPCs failed the researcher’s set sanitary standards in total aerobic counts. All of the containers passed in the E. coli/coliform counts.
Warriner suspects two situations are at the root of contamination.
First, the RPCs are sent back to the poolers without further cleaning. Second, the containers are being washed but not sanitized.
“There’s a difference between cleaning and sanitizing,” he said.
In conclusion, Warriner suggests that though no pathogens were detected, the RPC decontamination method should be revised.
“There’s nothing wrong with plastic trays,” Warriner acknowledged. “The fact is, there are systems that can successfully clean these trays.”
No pathogens, no change
According to Welcome, cleaning is an integral step in the circulation of the containers.
He argues there is no need to monitor safety standards within the Reusable Packaging Association because each pooler has to meet the standards of Manhattan, Kan.-based AIB International.
“If the member companies felt it would be advantageous for RPA to help establish an industry-recognized safety standard we would do it, but the AIB is recognized as one of the food industry’s leading food safety organizations, and their standards and guidelines are generally recognized as acceptable safety standards,” he said.






2013 Basic and Advanced HACCP

Training Scheduals are Available
Click here to check the HACCP Training

This certification fulfills all USDA/FSIS and FDA regulatory requirements for HACCP Training. The certification is also accepted by auditing firms who require HACCP Training as a component of the audit. Our training has encompassed a multitude of industries from the farm to the table.
We are so proud that more than 400 attendees successfully finished Basic and Advanced HACCP Trainings through FoodHACCP. All attendees received a HACCP certificate which fulfills all USDA/FSIS and FDA regulatory requirements for HACCP Training