FoodHACCP Newsletter
07/21 2014 ISSUE:609


Barbecue food safety guide: Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold
Source : http://globalnews.ca/news/1459123/barbecue-food-safety-guide-keep-hot-foods-hot-and-cold-foods-cold/
By Sadiya Ansari   The Canadian Press (July 18, 2014)
TORONTO – There’s a simple rule to preventing growth of nasty bacteria at your summer cookout which can cause your stomach grief for days.
“Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold,” says Brenda Watson, executive director of the Cambridge, Ont.-based Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education.
The group has created harmonized food safety standards from the “farm gate to the dinner plate,” says Watson. Members of the partnership include meat and poultry producers, local health authorities and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The first step to food safety is to make sure your hands, kitchen tools and surfaces are clean. It also helps to use separate cutting boards and knives when preparing meat and raw produce. Watson recommends preparing meat and vegetables in different areas of the kitchen to avoid cross-contamination.
READ MORE: Tips to keep your barbecue food safe
Washing raw fruits and vegetables is also key to getting rid of surface bacteria. If not rinsed thoroughly, they can be a source of E. coli – which can make you sick for up to 10 days.
When it comes to poultry, the U.K. Food Safety Board recommends that it never be washed because it contaminates water droplets which can then spread Campylobacter, a bacteria found on raw chicken, to counters, clothes and dishes. This bug can lead to the fever- and nausea-inducing illness campylobacteriosis, which is the leading cause of food-related illness in this country, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
One of the easiest ways of transferring bacteria is losing track of which plates and utensils have been used for raw meat. Watson advises having a clean plate ready to put meat on when you remove it from the grill to avoid cross-contamination.
Burgers in particular are breeding ground for bacteria as mixing ground meat with your favourite sauces and spices incorporates surface bacteria. The good news is you can get rid of it by cooking the meat thoroughly.
Growing up, Watson was taught to cut a little slit in a burger or steak to check if it was cooked enough to get rid of bugs, but now appearance alone is not a good enough indicator for her.
“The only way to be sure is to use a food thermometer,” says Watson.
READ MORE: Grilling gets pricey this summer as meat prices surge
She adds that to prevent cross-contamination, wash the stem of the thermometer between uses in hot soapy water.
Ground meat should reach a temperature of 71 C (160 F), steaks can range from medium-rare (63 C/145 F) to well done (77 C/170 F) and chicken pieces should be cooked to 74 C (165 F) to get rid of risks like salmonella.
Once meat is grilled, keep it hot until it’s ready to eat and don’t forget about keeping your sides heated too.
“People don’t think about the lowly baked potato,” says Watson. “Those baked potatoes need to be held in a safe temperature zone.”
Cold sides – such as salads and burger toppings like sliced tomatoes, onions and lettuce – should be kept chilled and covered at all times.
While hosting a barbecue, it can be easy to put off storing food until the end of the evening, but leftovers should be put away within two hours of being prepared since bacteria grow fastest between 4 C (40 F) and 60 C (140 F). If the food has been out longer than that, Watson recommends throwing it out.
READ MORE: 9 tips for healthy summertime barbecuing
What if your leftovers are still warm from the grill? Better to put them away rather than forgetting, Watson says.
Food should be stored at 4 C (40 F) or lower to keep it out of the “danger zone.”
“Don’t jam pack your refrigerator,” says Watson, warning that without sufficient room food may not be chilled enough to prevent bacteria growth.

 

Nine Minnesota Applebee’s Linked to E. coli O111 Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/nine-minnesota-applebees-linked-to-e-coli-o111-outbreak/#.U83gE03lrs1
By Bruce Clark (July 18, 2014)
Food product – likely salad ingredient – not yet identified.
The Minnesota Department of Health on Thursday released a list of nine Applebee’s locations linked to a recent outbreak of E. coli.
People infected with the bacteria have reported eating at Applebee’s restaurants in Bemidji, Blaine (two locations), Duluth, Roseville, Willmar, Woodbury, Monticello and New Hope, the Health Department says.
The outbreak caused by the O111 form of the bacteria was first reported July 14. Fifteen cases have been reported so far, with 12 infected people confirmed to have eaten at Applebee’s between June 23 and 29.
Investigators from Health Department and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture are working to identify a food item associated with the outbreak.
E. coli:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections 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 E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products.  The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s.  We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.
If you or a family member became ill with an E. coli infection or HUS after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.

UN Body Unveils New Food Safety Standards
Source : http://www.rttnews.com/2351567/un-body-unveils-new-food-safety-standards.aspx?type=gn&SimRec=1
By RTT Staff Writer (July 17, 2014)
The United Nations body responsible for setting food safety standards has adopted guidelines to protect consumers worldwide, including setting out maximum levels of lead in infant formula and arsenic in rice.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday that no more than 0.01 mg per kg of lead should be permitted in infant formula and no more than 0.2 mg per kg of arsenic should be permitted in rice.
The decision comes from the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the UN food safety standards body jointly run by FAO and WHO, which sets standards to promote safer and more nutritious food for customers worldwide.
Codex standards serve in many cases as a basis for national legislation, and provide the food safety benchmarks for international food trade.
The Commission's annual meeting this week was attended by representatives from 170 countries and the European Union, as well as 30 international governmental and non-governmental organizations.
Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead, suffering profound and permanent adverse health effects, particularly to the brain and nervous system. Lead levels in in infant formula can be controlled and monitored by sourcing raw materials from areas where the metal is less present.
Rice, a major staple food for millions of people, absorbs arsenic more than other crops. This is particularly concerning in Asian countries, where paddy fields are irrigated with groundwater containing arsenic-rich sediments pumped from shallow tube wells.
Improved irrigation and agricultural practices can help reduce arsenic contamination. Another method is to grow crops in raised beds instead of flooded fields.
On veterinary drugs, the Commission recommended that their use should be restricted in food-producing animals in order to prevent residual amounts of the drugs remaining in meat, milk, eggs or honey.

 

 

 




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Title: Control Methods to Kill Pathogens and Spoilage Microorganisms in Food

July 31-August 1, 2014 (Las Vegas, NV)


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Salmonella Chia Ill: 25 USA, 59 Canada
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/salmonella-chia-ill-25-usa-59-canada/#.U83gP03lrs1
By Denis Stearns (July 17, 2014)
As of July 14, 2014, a total of 25 ill persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Newport (16 persons), Salmonella Hartford (7 persons), or Salmonella Oranienburg (2 persons) have been reported from 15 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (1), California (3), Colorado (1), Connecticut (3), Florida (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (1), New York (5), Ohio (1), Rhode Island (1), Texas (2), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3).
Three ill persons have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
Collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicate that organic sprouted chia powder is the likely source of this outbreak.
Sprouted chia powder is made from chia seeds that are sprouted, dried, and ground.
As a result of this investigation, several recalls of products containing organic sprouted chia powder and chia seeds have been issued.
The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to investigate similar cases of Salmonella infection in several Canadian provinces. In Canada, four strains of Salmonella causing illness have been associated with this outbreak: Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Hartford, Salmonella Oranienburg, and Salmonella Saintpaul. In total, 59 cases have been reported in British Columbia (13), Alberta (10), Ontario (33) and Quebec (3). Nine cases have been hospitalized; seven cases have been discharged and have recovered or are recovering. The status of two cases has not been provided to the Agency. No deaths have been reported. The investigation is ongoing but currently, 43 of 51 cases that have been interviewed have reported consumption of chia seeds or sprouted chia seed powder.
Several Canadian companies have recalled products containing sprouted chia powder or chia seeds.

Salmonella Likes Bruised Blueberries
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/salmonella-likes-bruised-blueberries/
By Carla Gillespie (July 17, 2014)
Frozen Berry MixSalmonella can grow on bruised blueberries kept at shipping or retail display temperatures, according to a new study in the Journal of Food Protection. The study was conducted by researchers at the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Citrus Research and Education Center at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida,
Strawberries and blueberries harvested at or near full-ripe maturity and softer than those that are not as ripe and therefore more susceptible to bruising during harvest and transport. The researchers wanted to see how E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella behaved on bruised fruit and intact fruit at shipping temperature, 35.6вк F, and retail display 59.9вк F. So they The bruised the berries inoculated them with bacteria and observed.
They found that the E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella did not grow on strawberries at shipping or retail display temperatures. But that  Salmonella did grow on bruised fully ripe blueberries at  retail display temperatures.
Salmonella causes an infection called salmonellosis. Symptoms include abdominal cramps, fever, vomiting and diarrhea that can be bloody.

New UN food safety standards include cap on levels of lead in infant formula
Source : http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48288#.U83KYE3lrs1
By un.org (July 17, 2014)
The United Nations body responsible for setting food safety standards this week adopted guidelines to protect consumers worldwide, including setting out maximum levels of lead in infant formula and arsenic in rice.
In a briefing note to the media, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) said today that no more than 0.01 mg per kg of lead should be permitted in infant formula and no more than 0.2 mg per kg of arsenic should be permitted in rice.
The decision comes from the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the UN food safety standards body jointly run by FAO and WHO, which sets standards to promote safer and more nutritious food for customers worldwide. Codex standards serve in many cases as a basis for national legislation, and provide the food safety benchmarks for international food trade.
The Commission’s annual meeting this week was attended by representatives from 170 countries and the European Union, as well as 30 international governmental and non-governmental organizations.
The countries agreed that infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead, suffering profound and permanent adverse health effects, particularly to the brain and nervous system. Often found in the environment, lead can end up in ingredients that are used in the production of infant formula. Levels can be controlled and monitored by sourcing raw materials from areas where lead is less present.
As well, long-term exposure to arsenic can cause cancer and skin lesions, and has been associated with developmental effects, heart disease and diabetes. Ingested arsenic can also severely damage the nervous system and brain. Like lead, arsenic is found in the environment and is naturally present at high levels in the groundwater and soil in parts of the world. The danger is that it can enter the food chain by being absorbed into crops from water and soil.
Even more alarming is that rice, a major staple food for millions of people, absorbs arsenic more than other crops. This is particularly concerning in Asian countries, where paddy fields are irrigated with groundwater containing arsenic-rich sediments pumped from shallow tube wells. Improved irrigation and agricultural practices can help reduce contamination. Another method is to grow crops in raised beds instead of flooded fields.
On veterinary drugs, the Commission recommended that their use should be restricted in food-producing animals in order to prevent residual amounts of the drugs remaining in meat, milk, eggs or honey. Countries also agreed on maximum levels of pesticide residues and additives in foods as well as maximum levels of contaminants, including toxins called fumonisins that are produced by mould growing on maize.

Kansas Measles Outbreak Associated with Restaurant
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/kansas-measles-outbreak-associated-with-restaurant/
By Linda Larsen (July 16, 2014)
A measles outbreak has been associated with a restaurant in Wichita, Kansas. At least 11 cases have been reported in Sedgwick and Johnson counties to date. The disease is very contagious to anyone who has not been vaccinated. In fact, if one person who has the illness goes out in public, 90% of people who come close to that person will catch it. The illness is contagious from four days before to four days after a rash appears.
An employee at Sal’s Japanese Steakhouse at 6829 East Kellogg Drive in Wichita was diagnosed with the disease earlier this month. Public health officials ask that if you or anyone you know ate at that restaurant on June 20, 23, 25, 29, July 3, 5, and 7, 2014 and developed an illness with fever and rash, contact your doctor immediately. The measles virus is spread through the air by breathing, coughing, or sneezing. Symptoms appear about one to two weeks after exposure.
Children under the age of one year are most susceptible to the disease, since the measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccination is not given until babies are 12 months. The symptoms of a measles infection include fever, blotchy rash on the skin that starts at the head then spreads to the trunk and lower limbs, cough, runny nose, red, watery eyes, feeling run down and achy, and tiny white spots with bluish-white centers inside the mouth.

About 30% of those who contract a measles infection will develop complications. Some of these can be serious, including encephalitis, pneumonia, ear infections, and diarrhea. Worldwide, measles sickens 20,000,000 people and kills about 164,000 every year. Those who are at high risk for complications of measles include children under the age of 5, adults over the age of 20, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses and compromised immune systems.
According to the CDC, in 2014, there has been a resurgence of measles cases in this country. Five hundred sixty six cases have been reported in 20 states since the beginning of the year. Most people who contracted the disease were unvaccinated.

Applebee’s E. coli O111 Lawsuit Filed by Pritzker Olsen Law Firm
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/applebees-lawsuit-filed-by-pritzker-olsen-law-firm/
By Linda Larsen (July 16, 2014)
The Pritzker Olsen law firm has filed a lawsuit against Apple Minnesota, LLC, dba Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar on behalf of Keith Comstock. He was diagnosed with an E. coli O111 infection after eating at the Applebee’s restaurant in Woodbury, Minnesota. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. Attorneys Ryan Osterholm, Brendan Flaherty and Fred Pritzker are representing Mr. Comstock.
E. coli Infections and HUSMr. Comstock dined at the Applebee’s restaurant on or about June 24, 2014. He ordered the Oriental Chicken Salad, which contained, among other ingredients, carrots, cabbage, and greens. About three days later, he began to suffer from the symptoms of E. coli O111 food poisoning and tested positive for the bacteria. He remained ill for several weeks.
Attorney Brendan Flaherty said, “our client hopes that through this lawsuit, we can use the power of the courts to help find the source of the E. coli and stop the outbreak. When you talk to someone who has had an E. coli infection, they almost always say it is the most painful experience they’ve had in their lives.”
E. coli O111 is a foodborne pathogen that is very toxic. Symptoms of this infection include severe stomach and abdominal cramps, diarrhea which is often bloody, and vomiting. Anyone who contracts an E. coli infection has an increased risk of developing complications in the future that can include severe high blood pressure and kidney disease.
Mr. Comstock’s illness was reported to the Minnesota Department of Health. As of July 15, 2014, there are at least 13 people in Minnesota who contracted E. coli O111 infections in late June, 2014.  Seven of those patients ate at Applebee’s restaurants in late June.
This is the first time this outbreak strain of E. coli O111 has been seen in the United States. It is possible that the produce in the salad was contaminated with the bacteria, since chicken is not a common source of E. coli bacteria. If that is the case, the contamination could have happened earlier in the product chain, which means the product was widely distributed and more people are sick.
If you have suffered the symptoms of an E. coli infection in the past few weeks, please see your doctor immediately. Labs do not normally test for E. coli O111, so you may have been misdiagnosed. An E. coli infection must be treated in certain ways. Antibiotics, for instance, if prescribed, can increase the risk of serious complications, including hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause kidney failure.

'Vampire drinks' banned by China’s food safety authority
Source : http://www.scmp.com/news/china-insider/article/1554772/vampire-drinks-banned-chinas-food-safety-authority
By Chris Luo (July 16, 2014)
China’s food safety authority has banned an eye-catching beverage after its distinctive packaging, which looks like a medical blood bag, attracted many young consumers.
The red fruit punch, made to look like human blood through its creative plastic packaging, is being sold by novelty-drinks vendors and online shops.
Drinking it would seem like a scene out of a vampire film, where the immortal undead could sip on human blood as if it were a soft drink.
However, the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) has thrown cold water on this fantasy.
On Monday, it issued a ban on the sales of all “vampire drink-like products”, saying they posed considerable food safety concerns due to the lack of permits or labelling information.
It ordered online shopping platforms to suspend all vendors selling the drinks.
In a statement released on its website, the CFDA said the products lacked any official manufacturing permits and the packages did not state production dates, safety certificates or the names of producers.
The vampire drinks' names and labels appear to resemble that of Blood Energy Potion, a beverage produced by California, United States-based company Harcos.
The drink was first released to the US market in 2009. “Staying with the theme of bringing pop culture to life, Blood Energy Potion satiated all vampire fans with a delicious fruit punch flavour,” Harcos said on its website.
But a spokeswoman from Harcos denied the company is aware of the drink and its similar products are sold in China. “We do not directly sell our products to any companies in China nor have we authorized any agencies to sell the product,” she wrote in an email reply to South China Morning Post.
In addition, she said “the energy drinks are tested and approved by the FDA [US Food and Drug Administration].”
“Imported beverages without prior examinations and permissions from food safety authorities are illegal ... regardless whether they are legitimate to sell in other countries," a director of the Shanghai Food Research Institute said in a telephone interview.
Despite the ban, the “vampire drinks” were still available in dozens of small vendors as of 12pm today on popular shopping site Taobao.com.
The drinks come in various colors and cost between 8 yuan (HK$10) and 58 yuan. Transaction records tracked by Taobao showed one store had sold 9,400 units.
Flashy posters of hit vampire television shows such as The Vampire Diaries or the classic film Interview with the Vampire are featured on the vendors’ sites to promote the drinks.
Other online websites were set up solely to sell the blood-bag-like packages.

Antibiotic Resistant Salmonella Paves the Way for Typhoid Fever Resurgence
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/antibiotic-resistant-salmonella-paves-the-way-for-thyphoid-fever-resurgence/
By Carla Gillespie (July 15, 2014)
Resistant Salmonella and typhiod feverAntibiotic resistant Salmonella is paving the way for a resurgence in typhoid fever, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report, which compared antibiotic resistance levels during 2012 to levels between 2003-2007, found that the bacteria that causes typhoid fever, Salmonella typhi, increased resistance to quinolone drugs 68 percent in 2012.
Typhoid fever is a serious illness spread by contaminated food and water. Symptoms usually develop one to two weeks after exposure and last up to four weeks. They include lasting fever that becomes constant, abdominal pain, muscle weakness, lethargy,  headache, and loss of appetite. Some patients also have chest congestion, constipation and a skin rash. In rare cases, internal bleeding or death can occur.
In the first half of the last century, tens of thousands of Americans were sickened by typhoid every year. Thanks to improvements in sanitation, only about 300 Americans are now diagnosed with typhoid each year, most of those cases are travel-related. Typhoid fever is common in Asia, Africa and Latin America where about 30 million people are sickened each year.
Treatment for typhoid fever is antibiotics. As Salmonella typhi continues to develop increased antibiotic resistance treatment becomes more difficult and infections tend to be more serious.
A vaccination for typhoid is available and recommended for those who plan to travel in at-risk regions. However, the vaccine is only 50to 80 percent effective so travelers should use caution and avoid certain foods such as food served at room temperature, food from street vendors, raw, runny or soft-cooked eggs, unwashed or unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables, salsa,  salad, unpasteurized dairy, wild game and tap water.

Pritzker Olsen Retained in Minnesota E. coli O111 Outbreak
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/pritzker-olsen-retained-in-minnesota-e-coli-o111-outbreak/
By Linda Larsen (July 15, 2014)
Pritzker|Olsen, P.A., a Minneapolis law firm that represents food poisoning clients throughout the country, has been retained in the E. coli O111 outbreak associated with Applebee’s restaurants in the Twin Cities. Keith Comstock, a young man who lives in the area, was sickened after he ate at the Applebee’s restaurant in Woodbury.
GavelNoted attorney Fred Pritzker said, “my firm has represented thousands of foodborne illness victims in hundreds of outbreaks across the country. Virtually all of them involve failure to follow the rules: FDA regulations and USDA regulations, industry guidelines, and worst of all, the offending company’s own safety rules. The sad fact of this outbreak, like so many others, is that it’s preventable; it should never have happened.”
E. coli O111 is not one of the pathogenic bacteria that labs commonly test for when a patient goes to the doctor. The outbreak may be much larger than first thought because doctors usually test for E. coli O157:H7 when a patient presents with symptoms of severe abdominal cramps and bloody and/or watery diarrhea. If a test for E. coli O157:H7 is negative, physicians will usually approach the diagnosis from another direction.
Applebee’s restaurants have pulled the Oriental Chicken Salad from their menu, as well as ingredients used in that item from other foods. Chicken is not usually a source of E. coli outbreaks, so, according to  Pritzker, the likely culprit is a fresh vegetable with no cooking, or “kill step”, to destroy pathogenic bacteria. The contaminated food could be anything from lettuce to carrots to another fresh vegetable.
If a vegetable is to blame, that means the contamination could have occurred further back in the food chain, with a larger distribution than Applebee’s restaurants. Other E. coli outbreaks linked to vegetables have been very large, since the adulterated food is usually shipped around the country. Traceback, the tool investigators use to find a contaminated food after an outbreak, is time consuming and costly. Public health officials are now conducting an investigation to pinpoint not only the food responsible for these illnesses, but where it came from and how it was contaminated.
If you have had the symptoms of an E. coli infection, which include severe abdominal cramps and bloody and/or watery diarrhea, with a mild fever or no fever, see your doctor as soon as possible. Tell her about this outbreak and ask to be tested for E. coli O111, especially if you ate ready-to-eat salads or fresh, uncooked vegetables at a restaurant recently.

13 Infected by Strain of E. coli O111 Never Before Seen in United States and Tied to Applebee’s Restaurants in Minnesota
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-watch/13-infected-by-strain-of-e-coli-o111-never-before-seen-in-united-states-and-tied-to-applebees-restaurants-in-minnesota/#.U83LEU3lrs1
By Bill Marler (July 15, 2014)
whose privately-funded study lead to O111 being recognized as an adulterant by USDA—applauds proactive approach by chain to protect customers
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is investigating an outbreak of E. coli O111 that has, to date, infected 13 people, including four who required hospitalization. This genetic strain of E. coli O1111 has not been seen in the United States previously.
While seven of the people with E. coli O111 infections reported eating at Applebee’s restaurants in Minnesota between June 24 and 27, there are multiple cases with no apparent connection to the restaurant or otherwise. Even though Applebee’s hasn’t been identified as the definitive source of the outbreak, the restaurant chain is cooperating fully with the investigation and has even voluntarily removed the Oriental Chicken Salad and some of its related ingredients from menus at all its Minnesota locations.
“There’s a grey period during every outbreak when you know the illness is out there, but you don’t know what’s causing it. Sometimes the source is immediately apparent; other times—like in this case—it’s not as clear. I applaud Applebee’s for taking proactive steps to try and minimize any further infections,” said Bill Marler, a prominent food safety attorney and advocate.
Marler has been on the front lines of food safety for more than two decades. Some of his first related clients stemmed from the outbreak E. coli O157: H7 traced back to the fast food chain Jack in the Box in the early 1990s. It was only after that outbreak that the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) began to recognize E. coli O157:H7 as an adulterant that needed to be monitored in this nation’s meat supply.
“The monitoring of E. coli O157:H7 by the FSIS was, certainly, an important first step to making our food supply safer, but it really was just the tip of the iceberg,” said Marler, who also represented Minnesota-native Stephanie Smith whose dreams of being a dancer were shattered after she ate a hamburger tainted with O157: H7.
There are many different strains of E. coli, some of which pose no harm to human health. There are other strains though, like E. coli O111—the subject of this most recent outbreak being investigated by the MDH—that can be just as deadly as the dreaded O157:H7. E. coli O111 is one of the so-called “Big Six”, which are non-O157 serogroups of the Shiga-toxin producing E. coli bacterium.
Even though the Big Six, which includes O111, are responsible for 80% of all non-O157 E. coli infections, it wasn’t until 2012—almost 20 years after O157 began to be monitored—when the USDA’s FSIS decided to finally put together a plan to start testing the nation’s meat supply for non-O157 strains of E. coli.
So what made the FSIS change its position? In part, the answer lies in a study funded privately by Marler.
Over the course of his career, Marler had several run-ins with non-O157 strains of E. coli and saw the devastating affect they had on their victims. One of the worst outbreaks was in 2008 when Country Cottage Restaurant in Locust Grove, OK was proven to be the source of an E. coli O111 outbreak that sickened 344, hospitalizing 71. Of those, 26 developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious kidney and blood complication resulting from E. coli infections.
“I had kind of had enough. We were seeing all these cases of non-O157 E. coli strains there were just as harmful, but nothing was being done. The USDA just continued to claim that these strains weren’t in the food supply. It was really frustrating,” said Marler.
In 2008, Marler began working with nationally respected food scientist Mansour Samadpour and, eventually, commissioned a private study—paying $500,000 out of his own pocket—to see how prevalent the Big Six were in the US meat supply, particularly ground beef. The final results revealed about 2% of the U.S. supply is tainted, which translates to millions of pounds of infected beef per year.
Eventually, this study lead to Marler being a part of a small team of food safety advocates who met privately with Dr. Elisabeth Hagan, the USDA’s Under Secretary for Food Safety. After 90 minutes, Marler felt confident that Hagan understood the threats the Big Six posed to public health.
“From a legal perspective, it has never mattered whether one of these pathogens is considered an adulterant, but it does, and should matter, to the average consumer,” said Marler. “I’ve seen what devastation the Big Six strains can cause and, unfortunately, because they have just started to be monitored, it will likely be years before outbreak, like this one, stop being a fairly common occurrence.”
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections 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 E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products. The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s. We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.

 

E. Coli O111 Outbreak Under Investigation in Minnesota
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/07/e-coli-o111-outbreak-under-investigation-in-minnesota/#.U83g4k3lrs1
By News Desk (July 14, 2014)
The Minnesota Department of Health is investigating 13 cases of E. coli O111 in the state, which they believe have been caused by a “widely distributed food item.”
Seven of the 13 cases reported eating at Applebee’s restaurants in the state between June 24 and 27, though the other six cases have no apparent connection to the restaurant chain.
Applebee’s restaurants in Minnesota have fully complied with the health investigation, removing their oriental chicken salad and related ingredients from menus as a cautionary measure. Health officials have not determined the exact source of the outbreak and have not suggested that anything from Applebee’s is the cause.

Symptoms of E. coli O111 infection include stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea, which can be bloody in severe infections.
Minnesota health officials are asking anyone who believes they fell ill with an E. coli infection and ate at an Applebee’s restaurant after June 20 to contact a healthcare provider and inform them of their possible connection to this outbreak.

 

Colorado Restaurant to Stay Closed for Weeks After Hepatitis A Scare
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/07/colorado-restaurant-to-stay-closed-for-weeks-after-hep-a-scare/#.U83MkU3lrs1
By News Desk (July 14, 2014)
Tortilla Marissa’s, a Mexican restaurant in Fort Collins, CO, will not reopen until August 9 because of the Hepatitis A scare that the restaurant faced at the end of June, according to the Coloradoan.
The Larimer County Health Department has advised the owners to keep the restaurant closed that long due to the virus’ relatively long incubation period, which averages 28 days but can last up to 50 days in some cases.
The restaurant originally closed on June 27, a day after an employee tested positive for the virus, which has a high risk of being spread when an infected person handles food. In total, the restaurant will be closed 43 days.
The only way the owners could legally open before that would be to hire an entirely new staff.
The county health department administered roughly 800 vaccines to restaurant patrons following the incident, but many did not opt to receive a vaccine. No other cases of Hepatitis A have been reported in connection to Tortilla Marissa’s.
The restaurant received an “inadequate” rating after an inspection in late May, a month before the incident. In two follow-up inspections, the restaurant earned “good” and “excellent” ratings.
The owners say that the closure time will allow them to address the remaining concerns presented by the inspections.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease resulting from infection by the Hepatitis A virus. Symptoms of infection include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, dark urine and jaundice.

Those who believe they have been exposed to Hepatitis A are encouraged to seek medical attention. Receiving a vaccination within two weeks of exposure could prevent any illness from occurring, and those who have received a vaccination in the past are immune to the virus.

Possible Outbreak at Orlando World Center Marriott
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/possible-outbreak-at-orlando-world-center-marriott/
By Linda Larsen (July 14, 2014)
According to the Orlando Sentinel, an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness has sickened several dozen guests at the Orlando World Center Marriott. Guests who were sickened stayed at the hotel and attended a conference between June 29 and July 7.
Public health officials at the Orange County Health Department think it is too early to tell whether the illnesses were food poisoning or caused by a virus such as norovirus. Most of those sickened were adults. One employee and several children have also experienced symptoms of the illness.
The name of the conference has not been released. Marriott is cooperating fully with the investigation and with the Health Department, according to the report.
If the outbreak is caused by a virus, it is most likely norovirus, which is very contagious and causes symptoms similar to food poisoning. The symptoms in this particular outbreak include vomiting and diarrhea and lasted for 24 to 48 hours, which is consistent with norovirus. Norovirus is one of the most common causes of viral gastroenteritis and is transmitted person-to-person, through surface contact, and through food and drink. It is most common in the winter months, when people spend more time together in enclosed spaced.

Food Safety Talk 63: The Great One
Source : http://barfblog.com/2014/07/food-safety-talk-63-the-great-one/
By Ben Chapman (July 14, 2014)
Food Safety Talk, a bi-weekly podcast for food safety nerds, by food safety nerds. The podcast is hosted by Ben Chapman and barfblog contributor Don Schaffner, Extension Specialist in Food Science and Professor at Rutgers University. Every two weeks or so, Ben and Don get together virtually and talk for about an hour.  They talk about what’s on their minds or in the news regarding food safety, and popular culture. They strive to be relevant, funny and informative — sometimes they succeed. You can download the audio recordings right from the website, or subscribe using iTunes.1405348895819
Don and Ben have Skype issues but this time it was actually Don. Don announced that there will be help for people like Ben who aren’t so good at managing their time and attention at IAFP 2014, with Merlin Mann presenting on Wednesday in a special lunch session. The guys estimate about 0.1% of IAFP annual meeting attendees will be excited to see him – including Ben and Don, and probably Batz. Ben mentions his excitement that Professor Dr. Donald Schaffner, PhD was name checked on Back to Work Episode 173.
The first mention of The Wire comes at 12 minutes in when the guys give a shout out to Baltimore resident Manan Sharma who says that this is his favorite part of the show.
In follow-up from Episode 61, friend of the show MDD says that there are not rats in Alberta  Ben and Don remark while there may not be any snakes in New Zealand and Ireland (although Ben thinks that Don is thinking of potatoes) there are rats in small pockets in Alberta. While Alberta has had a rat eradication program since the 1950s, a colony of Norwegian rats, of Roanoke Island proportion, was found in Medicine Hat (that’s in Canada) in 2012 and 2014. Ben tells Don that he wears big pockets to avoid rats, and that and on a pilgrimage to Edmonton to see a statue of The Great One, his pockets were not checked.
The guys then talk about a question from IAFP’s Dina (not Dinah). Dina asked the guys to discuss their thoughts on a recent JFP paper about non-intact steak cooking using temperature, flipping/turning and different cooking methods. The practical, take-home message (as dictated using Dragon Dictate) was that that flipping and covering with a lid (which allows cooking to occur both through conduction and convection heat) and using a thermometer for all cuts of meat helps reduce risk.
Ben talked a bit about some future work that his group is doing looking at mechanically tenderized beef messaging, perception and behavior – including cubed steak.  Cube steak is sometimes made by slapping two pieces of meat together and running through a cuber – although not according to Wikipedia, which is never wrong. The discussion moved to steak eating preferences as detailed by FiveThirtyEight Nate Silver’s cadre of numbers nerds who dissect a lot of pop culture and sports questions.
The guys then both talked about message variability projects they have going on. Ben’s group is looking at  cook book recipes (and how the messages and instructions in the culinary world often are not evidence-based). And Don’s group is looking at messaging on handwashing signs, something that his second favorite graduate student Dane, is undertaking.
In outbreak flashback the guys talked about 1854’s Broad St. Pump  cholera outbreak. Using a map and analyzing cases of human disease, John Snow, largely recognized as one of the founders of epidemiology, created a blueprint for the next generation of disease hunters. Removing the handle on the pump is commonly thought to have ended the outbreak except that modern epi-curve analysis suggests that the outbreak was already on the decline. Ben’s favorite part was what one of his undergraduate professors, Anthony Clarke talked about in class 15 years ago: the monks in a local monastery did not get sick because they didn’t drink the water, just home brewed beer.
The guys then ended the show talking about an outbreak linked to food service hamburgers made by Wolverine Packing. Or is that Wolverine Packing with it’s adamantium slicers and grinders? In either case, It’s unclear whether illnesses are linked to undercooked burgers or cross contamination – although anecdotally undercooked burgers have been reported. One of Ben’s graduate student’s Ellen Thomas has been working on a project related directly to this type of product, where secret shoppers have been speaking with servers at burger-serving family style restaurants throughout the U.S. The results of the project will be shared at IAFP in Indianapolis.
In after dark the guys chuckle and guffaw about Ben’s Beatles references, time and attention management, and Tony Robbins who Ben thinks is in prison. But he’s not. He was thinking of James Arthur Ray. Don mentions that the author Kurt Vonnegut (who explains the universal shapes of storytelling) has a memorial library in Indianapolis.

Minnesota Hit By E. coli O111 Illnesses
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/minnesota-hit-by-e-coli-o111-illnesses/#.U83fu03lrs1
By Bill Marler (July 14, 2014)
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is investigating 13 cases of foodborne illness associated with a type of E. colibacteria known as E. coli O111. This form of E. coli is in the same family as the more well-known E. coli O157:H7. All of the illnesses were caused by the same genetic strain of E. coli O111, and the ill people do not all share any obvious commonalities; these facts indicate the illnesses resulted from a widely distributed food item.
While seven of the people with E. coli O111 infections reported eating at Applebee’s restaurants in Minnesota between June 24 and 27, there are multiple cases with no apparent connection to the restaurant. Applebee’s is cooperating fully with the investigation, and as a precaution volunteered to remove the Oriental Chicken salad from menus at all its Minnesota restaurants while the investigation continues. The restaurant is also removing specific ingredients of its Oriental Chicken salad from other items on its menu out of an abundance of caution. Health officials are still working with Applebee’s, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and other regulatory partners to determine the cause of the outbreak.
Symptoms of illness caused by E. coli O111 typically include stomach cramps and diarrhea, often with bloody stools, but only a low-grade or no fever. People usually become ill two to five days after exposure, but this time period can range from one to at least eight days. Most people recover in five to 10 days. Complications from infection are more common among those with weaker immune systems, including young children and the elderly. MDH investigators note that this genetic strain of E. coli O111 has not been seen in the United States previously.
Health officials say anyone who visited a Minnesota Applebee’s since June 20 and has symptoms of E. coli O111 infection (particularly bloody diarrhea) should contact their health care provider immediately and inform them of their possible involvement in this outbreak. MDH also asks that they contact the department’s foodborne illness hotline at 1-877-FOOD-ILL (1-877-366-3455) to report the potential connection.
Four of the 13 people who became ill were hospitalized, and all have recovered or are recovering. Diarrhea associated withE. coli O111 infection should NOT be treated with antibiotics, as this practice might promote further complications. More information on E. coli infection can be found at www.health.state.mn.us. MDH will share more information with the public as the investigation continues.

 

 

 

 

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