11/18 2013 ISSUE:574
Salmonella Enteritidis Outbreak in Michigan Sickens 18
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/salmonella-enteritidis-outbreak-in-michigan-sickens-18/
By Linda Larsen (Nov 18, 2013)
The Salmonella outbreak we reported on last week has been confirmed as Salmonella enteritidis, according to MLive. Eighteen cases have been confirmed in Muskegon County. The Muskegon County web site was down at the time of this report.
Officials believe that a single source caused the outbreak, and that people were exposed to the bacteria from October 30 to November 2, 2013. Seventeen of the eighteen cases are related. There is no information about the source of the bacteria, where the patients ate, or what they ate. Officials are going to start studying epidemiological evidence and will conduct statistical analysis this week.
Salmonella enteritidis is a common cause of food poisoning. The bacteria is found on poultry and in eggs. Other foods that have caused Salmonella enteritidis outbreaks in the past include live poultry and reptiles, sprouts, raw milk, pork, beef, and raw almonds. The symptoms of this infection include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever and occur about 12 hours to 3 days after exposure.
To reduce your risk of contracting Salmonella enteritidis, cook all meats thoroughly to 165 degrees F. Do not consume raw or undercooked eggs. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling reptiles, birds, or amphibians. Avoid cross-contamination and thoroughly clean countertops, appliances, and utensils after contact with raw poultry or raw meat. And never eat undercooked meat or poultry at a restaurant.
Expert offers food safety tips for holiday events
Source : http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/11/17/3380683/expert-offers-food-safety-tips.html
By The Associated Press (Nov 17, 2013)
Holiday gatherings often revolve around big meals, so experts say it's important to remember food safety.University of Nebraska-Lincoln food specialist Julie Albrecht says too many people make the mistake of leaving food out of the refrigerator too long at parties.Perishable food shouldn't be out of the refrigerator for more than two hours, and refrigerators should be 40 degrees or cooler.Albrecht says party hosts can help keep food safe by setting serving containers on top of ice.Leftovers should generally be eaten within three to four days. Albrecht says solid leftovers should be reheated to 165 degrees and liquids should be brought to a boil.
Muskegon Area Restaurant Likely Source of Salmonella enteritidis Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/muskegon-area-restaurant-likely-source-of-salmonella-enteritidis-outbreak/
By Bill Marler (Nov 17, 2013)
Michelle D. Anderson of Mlive reports that officials at Public Health – Muskegon County have identified 18 confirmed cases of Salmonella enteritidis in the region. Muskegon County spokesperson Dori Peters said the outbreak has affected 16 residents in Muskegon County and two in Ottawa County.
Agency director Ken Kraus said on Friday, Nov. 15 that local investigators have linked 15 incidents to the Salmonella bacterium known as enteritidis since they began researching the source of the outbreak that emerged nearly three weeks ago.
Kraus said officials cannot yet make the call on what establishment or sources were involved until they receive state lab results expected next week.
“We are close to identifying a specific restaurant as the place of exposure,” Kraus said. “There is still some unclear information about any particular food item. We are also looking at individuals that were sick while they were in the facility.”
Fruitport Township resident Janelle Wiersma said earlier this month that she was hospitalized for a week at Spectrum Health Blodgett Hospital in Grand Rapids after eating a mixed green salad with grilled chicken at a Muskegon-area eatery on Friday, Nov. 1.
Center for Food Safety Urges Limits to Arsenic Content in Food
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/center-for-food-safety-urges-limits-to-arsenic-content-in-food/
By Linda Larsen (Nov 17, 2013)
Did you know that there is no limit on the arsenic level in the foods you eat? The EPA regulates arsenic in drinking water, but the FDA and USDA have no such standards. The FDA is studying the impact of arsenic in rice products and withdrew approval of arsenicals in animal feed. And the FDA is proposing guidance, which is not enforceable and has no law behind it, for arsenic content in apple juice.
The Center for Food Safety (CFS) is calling for “cumulative exposure” limits for apple juice and other staple foods. They say that “although individual foods containing arsenic may be safe to eat in moderation, they are often consumed in combination, thereby presenting a risk of ‘cumulative arsenic exposure’ that could reach dangerous levels.” They sent a letter to the FDA on November 12, 2013 about the draft guidance on apple juice. CFS states that while the draft guidance is a good first step, the government must do more to protect public health. Regulations should be issued instead of an “action level” guidance document.
Arsenic is found in rice, seafood, infant formulas, and meat. It is odorless and tasteless and occurs naturally in the environment. While organic arsenic used to be considered less toxic than inorganic arsenic, we now know that organic arsenic is converted to inorganic arsenic in the body. Inorganic arsenic is a known human carcinogen. In addition, inorganic arsenic causes diabetes and heart disease; may cause bladder, kidney, colon, skin, lung, and liver cancers; decreases immune response; and causes declines in intellectual function. One of the problems with this issue is that the diseases caused by arsenic exposure are so common that no one looks for the connection.
Children are more susceptible than adults to arsenic exposure. At very low levels, arsenic is a disruptor of hormone function. It also passes across the placenta and can alter endocrine and reproductive organs in the developing fetus. Children under the age of five are three times more vulnerable to carcinogens than adults. And children drink lots of apple juice.
A 2012 study conducted by Consumers Union found that 10% of apple juice samples exceed federal drinking water standards. Thirty-five percent of children under the age of five drink juice in quantities that exceed pediatrician recommendations. Scientists recommend that the arsenic limit for juice should be set by the FDA at 3 parts per billion.
Comment period extended for food safety rules
Source : http://www.concordmonitor.com/news/work/business/9370561-95/comment-period-extended-for-food-safety-rules
By The Associated Press (Nov 16, 2013)
The Food and Drug Administration has extended the comment for food safety rules for farmers by an additional week after people said they had technical problems submitting their views online.
New Hampshire Rep. Annie Kuster led a New England delegation in asking for the extension. The original deadline was Friday; the new deadline is Nov. 22.
Earlier this year, farmers attended FDA sessions on the rules, which would require them to take new precautions against contamination, including ensuring workers’ hands are washed, irrigation water is clean and that animals stay out of fields. New England farmers say many aspects of the rules were derived from large-scale farming practices that don’t apply to the region’s smaller farms.
People had problems submitting comments on the website Regulations.gov.
Brisbane woman's death linked to salmonella outbreak on Melbourne Cup day
Source : http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-14/brisbane-womans-death-linked-to-salmonella-outbreak/5092416
By abc.net (Nov 15, 2013)
Queensland health authorities are investigating an outbreak of food poisoning that may have contributed to a woman's death and sickened 220 other people.
A 77-year-old woman has died after falling ill from exposure to salmonella bacteria at Melbourne Cup functions earlier this month.
Dr Susan Vlack from Brisbane's metro north public health unit says salmonella did not cause the woman's death but may have been a contributing factor.
The outbreak has been linked to Brisbane firm Piccalilli Catering, which provided food for up to 40 different Melbourne Cup events on November 5. Up to 700 people may have been exposed.
Piccalilli Catering co-owner Helen Grace has expressed her deep regret at what has occurred.
"We are deeply upset and distressed by this outcome," she said in a statement.
"We always pride ourselves on sourcing the freshest Australian ingredients for our kitchens.
"We feel very disappointed and let down that the normally reliable fresh food supply chain has failed us – and our clients – on this occasion."
Eggs thought to be responsible
Ms Grace says their catering on Melbourne Cup day included fresh mayonnaise made by the company's chefs with eggs purchased from a usually reputable supplier.
"We had no reason to believe they were not up to the very high standards we demand of our suppliers," she said.
"Suffice to say we will not source produce from this supplier in the future."
Dr Vlack says they are concerned that people who are infected will spread the illness into the wider community.
"There is not too many people who have been very sick," she said.
"We have had seven people we have identified as being hospitalised and probably about two of those are reasonably sick.
"Salmonella occurs particularly in meats such as chicken, pork, beef and in egg products.
"Those products are often part of a catered meal, so sometimes in small amounts in different dishes.
"If you're sick, check with the doctor for fever and diarrhoea."
Dr Vlack says letters have been sent all companies and private function coordinators who used the caterer, advising them of the situation.
She says they have been advised to report back on anyone who is experiencing sickness, particularly if they are health workers or staff handling food.
Symptoms usually develop within 72 hours after exposure to the bacteria, but sometimes take up to two weeks to appear.
The illness can last between four and seven days.
Ms Grace says Piccalilli has reviewed its internal procedures.
"It is of some comfort to know that there has not been a breakdown in our own quality systems," she said.
"We have never experienced an incident such as this in 25 years as professional caterers.
"We are undertaking a thorough investigation of our supply chain arrangements, in order to ensure we are not let down by suppliers in this manner again."
15 Sick with Salmonella in Michigan
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/11/15-sick-with-salmonella-in-michigan/
By News Desk (November 13, 2013)
The Muskegon County Health Department is investigating a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 15 people.
One of the victims lives in Ottawa County and the rest are Muskegon residents. Public health staff are currently interviewing those who are ill to gather information about the source of the outbreak.
Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment. However, in some cases, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized.
Anyone who is experiencing symptoms of Salmonella infection is encouraged to contact their healthcare provider for testing.
Silver lining to botulism scare
Source : http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/9404780/Silver-lining-to-botulism-scare
By WILMA MCCORKINDALE (Nov 11, 2013)
Handling of this year's Fonterra whey powder contamination scare served to raise Chinese confidence in New Zealand as a safe food exporter, rather than damaging it, an expert says.
The revelation emerged out of this week's Global Food Safety Forum in Dunedin. The Fonterra food safety scare, where testing showed the possibility of a deadly botulism germ in some of the company's whey protein concentrate, was among the main topics of conversation of the gathering.
Keynote speaker of the forum Xiaoming Huang, professor of International Relations at Victoria University in Wellington, told delegates China was dismayed at the New Zealand response to the scare.
When the story broke in New Zealand the first question being asked was how the contamination would affect New Zealand's image in the Chinese market, Huang told the forum.
"I say probably not to the level we feared."
Huang said dynamics in this country turned the scandal into a huge issue both in Government and across New Zealand society in general.
He believed similar circumstances in another country, for example in China, may not have initiated the same level of reaction.
However, the Chinese have taken note of the way New Zealand handled the threat, and it has served to cement New Zealand's reputation as a producer of safe food products, Huang indicated.
"The Chinese were saying, 'look at how NZ handled this issue'."
"And the response from China was, 'This is actually saying something about the level and the standards that New Zealand companies and the government take - a high level'.
"I think we took a positive approach. International product in terms of food is a huge thing. New Zealand products, in particular, always have a good reputation."
Food safety would remain an important part of the developing economic relationship between China and New Zealand.
The Fonterra food safety "accident" had enriched both countries' experience and knowledge on the subject, Huang said.
"In the case of this year, the response from NZ - how the Government handled that and how the company handled that - we all learn from these things."
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy also touched on the Fonterra scare when he opened the three-day forum on Wednesday.
Government was pleased the presence of clostridium botulinium bacteria in the Fonterra product was eventually discounted, he said.
But the incident highlighted importance of world class food safety systems and the trust of consumers and regulators. Government was doubling its focus on food safety systems, Guy said.
He outlined Fonterra moves to make changes after its own investigation. Conclusions of two Government inquiries would be out next month.
The first-time New Zealand hosting of three-day forum , initiated by Dunedin-based food integrity consultant Dr Helen Darling, wraps up today.
Dr Darling said key to the forum was demonstrating to Chinese and American delegates Kiwi food safety procedures at first-hand.
"This forum is where dialogue between both ends of the supply chain can take place to improve transparency and integrity," she said.
"In turn New Zealand producers must understand what the Chinese, in particular, requires of them."
Clostridium difficile – C. Difficile – C. Dif
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-information/clostridium-difficile-c-difficile-c-dif/
By Drew Falkenstein (Nov 14, 2013)
Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is a spore-forming, gram-positive anaerobic bacillus that produces two toxins: toxin A and toxin B. These toxins typically cause gastrointestinal disease, often with severe complications. In rare cases, C. difficile-associated disease can be fatal. Although C. difficile bacteria can be present in human intestinal tracts and cause no clinical symptoms (a condition called colonization), some individuals with C. difficile colonization are at increased risk of becoming ill. The most common risk factor for C. difficile-associated disease is exposure to antibiotics, especially those with broad-spectrum activity. Although less common, exposure to agents that suppress the immune system may also increase the risk of illness. Advanced age, severe underlying illness, gastrointestinal surgery, use of nasogastric tubes, and gastrointestinal medications (such as gastrointestinal stimulants or antacids) have also been associated with an increased risk of colonization. Most cases are acquired in hospitals or nursing homes, but an increased incidence of community–acquired C. difficile has been reported as well.
Recent studies indicate that C. difficile can also be found in food products, thus raising a significant question: Can C. difficile cause foodborne illness?
Sources and Transmission
C. difficile is shed in feces. Any material, device, or surface that becomes contaminated with feces—such as toilets or bathing tubs—may serve as a reservoir for C. difficile spores. The ability of C. difficile to form spores is thought to be a key feature that enables the bacteria to persist in patients and the physical environment for long periods of time, thereby facilitating its transmission.
The spores are transferred to patients in healthcare settings mainly through the hands of healthcare personnel who have touched a contaminated surface or item. Some evidence suggests that C. difficile may be brought into healthcare environments by asymptomatic carriers—otherwise healthy individuals with no apparent symptoms. Virulent strains, which cause severe disease in populations at high risk, might also cause more frequent, severe disease in populations previously at low risk—that is, in otherwise healthy persons with little or no exposure to health-care settings or antimicrobial use. Certain emerging features of C. difficile illness, such as close-contact transmission, high recurrence rate, young patient age, bloody diarrhea, and lack of antimicrobial exposure, might indicate that the illness and its effects are changing.
C. difficile has also been linked to illness in livestock. Studies have revealed high infection rates of C. difficile among neonatal pigs. Similarly, C. difficile has been implicated as a cause of diarrhea in calves. Livestock contamination raises concerns that the bacteria may make its way into retail food products. Indeed, C. difficile has been identified in raw meat intended for pet consumption in Canada, retail ground beef in Canada, and uncooked and ready-to-eat meats in retail markets in a U.S. metropolitan area.
The detection of the North American pulsed-field gel electrophoresis type 1 (NAP1) strain of C. difficile in retail ground beef is cause for concern. This hyper-toxin-producing strain has been a cause of serious outbreaks of healthcare-associated disease in humans in North America and Europe, and was found among a small subset of specimens from community acquired cases in Connecticut. C. difficile in retail meats may derive from a number of sources, including deposition of spores in animal muscle or other tissues, fecal or environmental contamination of carcasses, or contamination during processing or in retail meat markets. C. difficile also has been identified in ready-to-eat salads in Scotland, which may have resulted from environmental contamination or transmission by food handlers.
These studies highlight the potential for transmission through the food supply, but do not prove that transmission of C. difficile can occur from food to humans. In fact, no instances of foodborne illness associated with C. difficile have been reported to date. Further research is necessary to explore the feasibility of this route of transmission.
The incubation period from ingestion of C. difficile to the development of symptoms has not been established. Among patients taking antibiotics, symptoms can appear immediately after beginning treatment or may not develop until several weeks after it is completed.
Most often, C. difficile-associated disease includes symptoms of mild to moderate non-bloody diarrhea, sometimes accompanied by lower abdominal cramping. Systemic symptoms, such as fever, are typically absent; mild abdominal tenderness is usually the only finding on physical exam.
In more severe cases, colitis develops, with symptoms of profuse watery diarrhea and abdominal pain and distention; bloody stools are rare. Fever, nausea, and dehydration are also often present in severe cases. Furthermore, a characteristic membrane with adherent yellow plaques can be found in the colon. Patients with severe colitis are at increased risk of developing paralytic ileus (blocked colon due to lack of peristalsisí¬the normal rhythmic contraction of the colon muscles) and toxic megacolon (dilated colon). These conditions may lead to a decrease in diarrhea. Severe cases may also include fulminant colitisí¬a rapid downhill clinical course that occurs among 1% to 3% of patients. Patients may have an acute abdomen and systemic symptoms, such as fever and tachycardia, and may require surgery.
Mortality rates associated with C. difficile-related disease in the U.S. increased nearly three-fold from 1999 to 2002. A recent study, which included C. difficile-related cases where C. difficile infection was present but not listed as the underlying cause of death, demonstrated an increase in deaths from 5.7 per million population in 1999 to 23.7 per million in 2004. It is possible that the increased rates were due to the emergence of a highly virulent strain of C. difficile.
Stool cultures are the most sensitive means available to detect C. difficile, however, they are also the test most often associated with false-positive results, due to presence of non-toxigenic bacterial strains. C. difficile stool cultures are also labor intensive and require the appropriate culture environment to grow anaerobic microorganisms. Results are available within 48 to 96 hours of the test.
Antigen detection tests for C. difficile have a very fast turn around time (less than one hour); these tests detect the presence of C. difficile antigen by latex agglutination or immunochromatographic assays. Antigen tests must be combined with toxin testing to verify diagnosis. One type of antigen test, enzyme immunoassay, detects toxin A, toxin B, or both A and B. It is a same-day assay but is less sensitive than the tissue culture cytotoxicity assay. The tissue culture cytotoxicity assay detects toxin B only. This assay requires technical expertise, is costly, and requires 24 to 48 hours for a final result. It does, however, provide specific and sensitive results for C. difficile-associated disease.
It is important to note that C. difficile toxin is very unstable. The toxin degrades at room temperature and may be undetectable within two hours after collection of a stool specimen. False-negative results occur when specimens are not promptly tested or kept refrigerated until testing can be completed.
C. difficile-associated disease will resolve in one-quarter of antibiotic-related cases within two to three days of discontinuing the problematic antibiotic. The infection can usually be treated with an appropriate course (about ten days) of antibiotics, including metronidazole or vancomycin (administered orally). Following treatment, repeat testing is not recommended if the individual’s symptoms have resolved, due to the fact that many patients remain colonized. In high risk individuals, recurrence of infection or relapse may occur after treatment.
C. difficile-associated disease can be prevented in healthcare settings by using antibiotics judiciously and using contact precautions such as isolation, hand hygiene, and gloves and gowns with patients with known or suspected infection.
To ensure prevention, healthcare institutions should implement an environmental cleaning and disinfection strategy, especially for items likely to be contaminated with feces and surfaces that are touched frequently. These institutions should use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered hypochlorite-based disinfectant for environmental surface disinfection after normal cleaning, making sure to follow the label instructions. Generic sources of hypochlorite (such as household chlorine bleach) may also be appropriately diluted and used. Alcohol-based disinfectants, however, are not effective against C. difficile and should not be used to disinfect environmental surfaces. Institutions should also follow the manufacturer’s instructions for disinfection of endoscopes and other devices. Infection control practices in long-term care and home health settings are similar to those practices recommended for traditional health-care settings.
Note: EPA-registered hospital disinfectants are recommended for general use whenever possible in patient-care areas. At present there are no EPA-registered products with specific claims for inactivating C. difficile spores, but there are a number of registered products that contain hypochlorite. If an EPA-registered proprietary hypochlorite product is used, consult the label instructions for proper and safe use conditions.
C. difficile in Ready-to-Eat Salads, Scotland
A 2008 study of ready-to-eat salads in Glasgow, Scotland found C. difficile in three (7.5%) out of forty salad samples. Samples were collected from packaged, ready-to-eat salads purchased from seven Glasgow supermarkets from May 1 through June 30, 2008. The majority (87.5%) of the salads were imported from European Union countries, and it was among those salads that the organism was found.
The specific C. difficile strains found in the salads were 001 (a common clinical isolate in Scotland) and 017 (a common European strain, negative for toxin A and positive for toxin B). None of the isolates were resistant to vancomycin or metronidazole, which is consistent with findings from other C. difficile isolates found in Scotland. Recent studies have, however, highlighted the emergence of increased resistance to metronidazole among C. difficile isolates in England.
The findings of these isolates from ready-to-eat salads highlights the potential risk associated with consuming these products, particularly since they are not cooked prior to eating. The consumption of these foods by vulnerable populations could possibly lead to C. difficile colonization and an increase in the asymptomatic C. difficile carriage rate among humans. This could result in an increase in C. difficile transmission within the community at large and in the healthcare environment. Nevertheless, as previously noted, no cases of foodborne illness linked to C. difficile have been reported.
C. difficile in Retail Meat Products, USA, 2007
In a 2007 study, packaged meats were purchased from three national-chain grocery stores in the Tucson, Arizona area. The meat products were purchased on three occasions, at one-month intervals, over a four-month period. Sampled products included both uncooked (ground beef, ground pork, ground turkey, pork sausage, and pork chorizo) and ready to eat meats (beef summer sausage, pork braunschweiger). The pork chorizo product was produced and distributed locally; all other samples were national brands. To ensure that a range of product was tested, products with different sell-by dates (a surrogate for production date) were sampled for each meat type. Samples were not, however, representative of all meat products within each grocery store.
C. difficile was found in 37 (42.0%) of 88 retail meats, including 42.4% of beef, 41.3% of pork, and 44.4% of turkey products. Ready-to-eat products were more commonly culture positive (11 out of 23, or 47.8%) than were uncooked meats (26 out of 65, or 40.0%), although the difference was not statistically significant. The highest percentages of C. difficile isolates were recovered from pork braunschweiger (62.5%) and ground beef (50.0%). No particular association of contamination was found with the meat processor, the sell-by date, the store, or the month sampled.
Approximately one-fourth of the C. difficile isolates were comprised of the 027/TT III strain, which was previously described almost exclusively in the context of the current human epidemic strain. Three-fourths of the isolates were comprised of the 078/TT V strain. Until recently, the 078 strain had been an uncommon cause of healthcare-associated C. difficile-associated disease in humans, but it is now emerging in pigs and calves with diarrhea and in persons with C. difficile-associated disease.
This study, as well as a previous study in Canada that found C. difficile in retail ground meat, raises concerns about the potential for foodborne transmission, even though they do not prove transmission of C. difficile from foods to humans. They do, however, highlight the need for further studies to characterize the risks posed by this organism in the human food supply.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Surveillance for community-associated Clostridium difficile–Connecticut, 2006. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2008;57(13):340-3.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Severe Clostridium difficile-associated disease in populations previously at low risk–four states, 2005. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2005;54(47):1201-5.
Jhung MA, Thompson AD, Killgore GE, Zukowski WE, Songer G, Warny M, Johnson S, Gerding DN, McDonald LC, Limbago BM. Toxinotype V Clostridium difficile in humans and food animals. Emerg Infect Dis. 2008;14(7):1039-45.
Poutanen SM, Simor AE. Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea in adults. CMAJ. 2004;171(1):51-8.
Rodriguez-Palacios A, Staempfli HR, Duffield T, Weese JS. Clostridium difficile in retail ground meat, Canada. Emerg Infect Dis. 2007;13(3):485-7.
Rupnik M. Is Clostridium difficile-associated infection a potentially zoonoticand foodborne disease?. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2007;13(5):457-9.
Songer JG, Trinh HT, Killgore GE, Thompson AD, McDonald LC, Limbago BM. Clostridium difficile in retail meat products, USA, 2007. Emerg Infect Dis. 2009;15(5):819-21.
Sunenshine RH, McDonald LC. Clostridium difficile-associated disease: new challenges from an established pathogen. Cleve Clin J Med. 2006;73(2):187-97.
See also the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website on C. difficile infections: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/id_Cdiff.html
E. coli Lawsuit Filed in California Against Glass Onion Catering
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/e-coli-lawsuit-filed-in-california-against-glass-onion-catering/
By Bill Marler (Nov 14, 2013)
“What we’re seeing here is yet another E. coli outbreak linked to pre-packaged, ready-to-eat food that is supposed to be organic, natural, GMO-free and good for you. Instead, we’ve seen at least 26 E. coli cases, including 2 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome,” said food safety advocate and attorney Bill Marler. “Consumers deserve better.”
In a lawsuit filed Thursday, a Sonoma County woman alleges she fell ill with an E. coli infection and was hospitalized after eating a salad manufactured by Glass Onion Catering. The lawsuit was filed in Sonoma County Superior Court by Seattle-based Marler Clark, the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of foodborne illness, and San Diego-based Gordon & Holmes. This is the first lawsuit filed against Glass Onion Catering, the company whose salads and wraps have been identified as the source of an E. coli outbreak among residents of 3 states. 
According to the complaint, Nancy Gruchawka consumed a salad manufactured by Glass Onion Catering on October 15, 2013. She allegedly fell ill with symptoms of E. coli infection on October 18 and was admitted to Santa Rosa Memorial hospital for treatment on October 30. Ms. Gruchawka’s attorneys assert that a stool sample obtained while she was hospitalized tested positive for a strain of E. coli O157:H7 that was an indistinguishable match to the Glass Onion Catering outbreak strain. Although Ms. Gruchawka was released from the hospital after one day of treatment, the complaint alleges that she continues to suffer from the symptoms of her E. coli infection.
As of November 12, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had received reports of 26 E. coli cases traced to Glass Onion products; 22 of those cases had been reported among California residents. Glass Onion Catering has recalled its salads and wraps sold at Walgreens, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods stores.
BACKGROUND: Marler Clark has represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness outbreaks since the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak (Pierce County Superior Court Case No. 93-2-00930-1). The law firm has recovered over $600 million for victims of not only E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria and hepatitis A outbreaks.
1. See, “Multistate Outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 Infections Linked to Ready-to-Eat Salads”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. November 12, 2013.
2. See, “California Firm Recalls Grilled Chicken Salad Products Due To Possible E. coli O157:H7 Contamination.” United States Department of Agriculture. November 10, 2013.
And “Atherstone Foods Voluntarily Recalls Salads and Wraps Because of Possible Health Risk.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. November 9, 2013.
More food hygiene ratings to be seen by end of November
Source : http://www.wales.nhs.uk/news/29732
By Welsh Government (Nov 14, 2013)
Following National Assembly for Wales approval of The Food Hygiene Rating (Wales) Regulations 2013, a new law will mean that from 28 November Welsh businesses that serve or sell food will be required to display their food hygiene rating at their premises.
The scheme will cover places where people eat out, including restaurants, takeaways, mobile caterers, cafés, hotels and pubs; places where people shop for food, such as supermarkets, bakeries and delicatessens; and establishments such as schools, hospitals, children’s nurseries and residential care homes.
The statutory scheme introduced by the legislation will be based on the current voluntary Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, operated by local authorities in partnership with the Food Standards Agency (FSA)
Food outlets will be rated from 0-5 on criteria such as how the food is prepared, cooked and stored and the condition of the premises and how food safety within the business is managed. A rating of 5 means hygiene standards are very good and 0 means urgent improvement is necessary.
Mark Drakeford AM, Minister for Health and Social Services commented:
“When people buy their food, they want to be sure that the place they’re buying from follows good food hygiene practices.
“After all, those businesses that aren’t hygienic put consumers’ health at risk, from minor cases of food poisoning to more serious, even fatal, illness.
“Good food hygiene is important to consumers and food businesses too and the new scheme will benefit both consumers and food businesses.
“For consumers, the rating will mean they are able to make informed decisions about where they choose to eat or shop for food.
“For businesses, good food hygiene means a good hygiene rating which could increase trade, as well as meeting food law requirements and protecting their customers from food-borne illness.”
The new law in Wales will mean that food businesses will have to display their rating in a prominent place – such as the front door or window – and at every entrance.
Local authority officers will enforce the statutory scheme in their area and ensure ratings are correctly displayed and should be contacted by businesses which need advice on the display of stickers and how the legislation will apply to them.
Local authorities will issue new stickers from the end of November and businesses will be required to display these. As well being displayed at businesses’ premises, ratings will also continue to be available on the FSA website.
From November 2014, the scheme will be extended to include food manufacturers, wholesalers and transporters that supply to places where people eat and buy food.
The Health Minister added:
“The new scheme will put Wales at the forefront of promoting the standards of food hygiene – this has to be good for consumers and good for business, too.”
FDA Should Expand Focus and Adopt Food Systems Approach to Safety
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/11/putting-food-back-into-the-fda/
By Diana R.H. Winters (Nov 14, 2013)
Want to hear something delicious?
Recently the Food and Drug Administration reported that 12 percent of all U.S. spice imports were contaminated with non-spice-like objects, including whole insects and rodent hairs.
As Americans, we are lucky to have FDA, which has been (for years) comprehensively studying the issue of spice safety and is moving toward the possibility of sharing its “concerns” about the issue with foreign officials.
This is what FDA does, and this is what it does well. The agency identifies threats to our nation’s food supply and works to protect the American public from these dangers.
The prohibitions against adulteration and misbranding in the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which have been in place since 1938, work to remove dangerous food from the marketplace. And the Food Safety Modernization Act, passed in 2011, reorients the agency from a reactive to a preventive stance on foodborne pathogens.
So what doesn’t FDA do well? Everything else other than regarding food.
But while the nation is suffering a food-related health crisis – obesity – FDA’s mandate has it focused on an extremely narrow conception of what food “safety” actually means.
At the same time the article on spice contamination ran, lead stories in the papers were about the troubled roll-out of the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance website and its potential political effects. The ACA is a massive legislative attempt to fix the broken healthcare system in our country by, among other things, significantly expanding access to health insurance to more Americans. To accomplish this goal, “Obamacare” must also succeed in lowering the cost of healthcare, which currently comprises almost 18 percent of the country’s economic activity.
Americans spend more on health care than on anything else and more on health care than any other country. Why do we pay so much for our health care? The reasons are myriad, but one significant factor is the rise in chronic disease related to the U.S. obesity epidemic.
Here is where we need to broaden our understanding of what food safety means.
What could be more unsafe than our food supply’s contribution to a disease that kills so many Americans? There has been no lack of attention to this issue, and, just as the causes of the rise in obesity are multiple, interconnected, and poorly understood, so are any solutions.
One thing is clear, though, and that is that any solution will be broad-based and interdisciplinary and will extend beyond what people eat, beyond nutrition policy, and beyond the treatment of disease. Just a small slice of the problems to be addressed include economic inequality, education disparity, shortsighted land use, inadequate public transportation, and wasteful food-distribution networks.
In short, a holistic food systems approach is needed to even begin to temper the obesity epidemic and thus begin to reach the associated high costs of health care.
So where does the contamination of imported spices come into all of this? It doesn’t. FDA is focused on the minimization of pathogens and consequent foodborne illness, which is important, but entails an extremely narrow conception of food “safety.”
To illustrate the disconnect between FDA’s focus and a food systems approach to food safety, we can look to the world of academia.
This past May, I participated in a vibrant and inspiring conference on FDA in the 21st century held by the Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School. There, more than 30 scholars discussed the future of FDA and the agency’s most challenging and intricate problems. Striking, however, was the dearth of discussion about food. Out of nine panels, only one had a focus on food regulation, and this panel, with four presentations, also included dietary supplements and tobacco regulation.
In contrast, I attended another conference last week on food systems held by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where the entire focus was food. Scholars of agriculture and the environment, as well as activists and organizers, discussed how our nation’s food is grown, how it is distributed, how we manage the land, and issues of food access and social justice. But issues of food safety, as regulated and managed by FDA, were largely absent.
FDA regulates 80 to 90 percent of our food supply. Its fiscal year 2014 budget request for its food program was more than $1.1 billion, almost a quarter of its total budget. It is a massive agency with enormous resources and a vast expertise in food. Congress must rethink FDA’s mandate when it comes to what we eat, broaden its definition of food safety, and allow the agency to adapt to the problems of the 21st century.
AKFP Upgrades Supply Chain For Food Safety
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2013/11/akfp-upgrades-supply-chain-for-food-safety.aspx
By foodproductdesign.com (Nov 14, 2013)
Posted in News, Processing, Food Safety, Business, Quality, Potato, Starches, Gums / Starches, Flour Print CLOSTER, N.J.—American Key Food Products (AKFP) has moved all warehousing for its food ingredient offerings to AIB-certified public warehouses in the United States to ensure products are handled by quality logistics providers.
“Today’s standards in food quality and safety require strict performance criteria throughout the supply chain and ensure effective traceability measures," said Mel Festejo, COO, AKFP. “As more companies are adopting food quality and safety standards based on the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), responsible suppliers are taking matching initiatives to be aligned with the more demanding expectations of its customers."
AKFP maintains inventories of its potato and tapioca starch products, and cassava flour, in various strategic locations throughout the country—Edison, N.J., Carol Stream, Ill., Baltimore, Kent, Wash., Clackamas, Ore., Modesto, Calif., Carson, Calif., Oakland, Calif., and Dallas
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